Monday Motivation

Although Monday is almost over here and the Tuesday morning sun has risen in many parts of the world, still  here I am!

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Be true and be you… be kind and be gentle…be kind and be patient. It is a much better place for you to be in and for others who are in your circle.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Resolutions, or the lack thereof

We made it through the first month of the year, some holding fast to the resolutions made, some falling off sometimes but getting back up again and some still wondering if they should have made at least a few tangible goals. As I am trying to think if I was able to stick to my resolutions, I feel that I might not have made any! So, as you can tell I am that person in the third category;)

While I consciously, probably, did not make any goals, I have slowly started doing things I hadn’t done before, or you can say slowly adding things to my daily habits and making alterations to existing methods of doing things to adapt better to the increasing demands of daily life. I won’t say I have been absolutely following the new habits rigidly and am stopping a lot too, but it is getting better and I can sense small  palpable differences.

I have been doing five things that were not part of a conscious resolution- three of those I have modified to suit my current needs, and the fourth and fifth ones are new that I am trying to make a regular habit of.

Journal, Gratitude Journal, Sayings- are things that have been adapted from their older styles. Allow me to explain a bit.

The old ones- Journal:  I have had journals for quite sometime now and while I do not write regularly and had stopped altogether lately,  I now make it a point to note down just special moments- of joy and of sadness as well.  Gratitude Journal: I bought one of those pretty looking gratitude journal notebooks and have started listing 3 things that I was grateful for at the end of every day (I used to do a similar thing in my regular journal but this is better). Sayings: I have another notebook that I write down sayings or quotes of learned souls that affect me and this gives me clarity, joy and instills humbleness when I feel low.

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The new ones-Jar of Good and Everyday List

Jar of Good- I saw on a friend’s Instagram post that she had decided to start a jar of good (inspired by someone she follows), the idea of which was to keep a note, in a jar at the end of every week, jotting down just one good thing that had happened. And the jar is to be emptied and the notes read on December 31st to help us see that probably in spite of all that we complained about throughout the year, we also had pretty incredible, even if simple, moments. Moments that probably got lost in the shadow of the joy of a new promotion or taking the long awaited trip, though these are things that absolutely should be put on those notes too! Along with moments that are humble and pivotal to our mental health. I have been doing this and I can’t help but wonder how this is going to turn out!

 

Everyday List- I have recently picked up this habit (after seeing it on Marie Kondo’s Instagram post) of jotting down things to be done in as much detail as possible, either for the day or in the next 2-3 days -as I see fit- and use that as a guide for the day/s. I never had done this before as it wasn’t necessary but I am beginning to see that this helps better than just having things on the family calendar/ roster, simply because “think about 5 new lunch ideas for school” does not get a place on that roster! Good old bullet points have made a difference. Have you done something like this before or something similar maybe? Do you find it useful? Or are you ‘store it all in the mind’ kind of a person?

 

 

 

So, the lack of resolutions this year has helped me adapt my old habits better while also adding new things to help me navigate this crazy life. I usually do all of these things at the end of the day and to be honest, I cannot even do it everyday as I am ready to collapse on the bed. So my journal gets left out and some days my ‘sayings’ notebook doesn’t get picked up. But my ‘everyday list’ and ‘gratitude journal’ are doing much better! It may seem like a lot of work, that is superfluous as well. But it helps, at least me, to round up the day in a better way. There are days I don’t feel like doing this and I either just fall asleep or read a couple of pages of whichever book I happen to be reading or re reading at the time. And that’s okay! Something that brings us  joy, mindfulness, clarity, closure doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be restricting. The purpose then gets defeated. So, I am letting these grow on me slowly and enjoying this process!

Do you think we all have such habits that we stick to or adapt or let go or add on? How do you end your day? Is there something you wish you could do different? I would love to hear from you if you don’t mind sharing.

 

Thanks for stopping by and hope you get a reason to smile today!

 

January photo a day challenge: Hello January

Are you a “ setting goals” type of a person or more like someone who goes with the flow? Or perhaps you are like me- setting goals and then embracing procrastination😜 Whatever your motto might be, there’s always a way to start afresh! Wishing  you all moments filled with peace, laughter, good books and movies, company of good people, accomplishments and happiness🙂

 

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Thanks for stopping by! Posted for citysonnet.

Lessons from my three and a half year old

   Bringing up a child is scary. There is this pressure since it essentially (in most cases) shapes the type of person the child will grow up to be and there is always a fear of ‘messing’ things up! Ever since I became a parent, I find myself second guessing almost every step I take that counts as ‘parenting’ and that can be unnerving at times. And I am hoping I am not the only one who feels this way:)

   Life has been a whirlwind of emotions since the beginning of 2015 when our lives changed overnight as we became parents for the first time. And it has been an amazing journey since. As all new parents, we found ourselves doing things we did not know we were capable of (slipping on a one-sie over a very small and very wobbly head, for example!). But the amazing part of parenthood is probably that-you somehow muster up all the courage and together with all the love and tenderness that your heart can hold, you direct your energy towards keeping your child safe.

   Now that our little boy will four in a few months, I sometimes sit back and wonder at his transition from an immobile mush to a rolling, sitting, quarter crawling, babbling infant to a walking-talking mini person and now to this little boy who ‘plays’ the guitar, sings Elvis, Dire Straits, Jim Morrison with elan and kicks the soccer ball like it’s no one’s business!  When you have a little one running around in the house, there is never a dull moment. You always find yourself on some sort of an adventure, dealing with things previously unknown and at times having to come up with answers to questions you did not expect a toddler would put to you! But you do it with ease and expertise (or so I would like to believe) and hope that the child buys your explanation! And while he keeps us entertained with his playful shenanigans, there are moments that make me pause and count my blessings. These are the moments when I call him “my little Bodhisattva”.

     As a parent, I have realized what the saying ‘children teach us what life is all about’ implies and I am grateful for all the things that our little sunshine helps us learn, re-learn and unlearn in his own way. Things that my little one has helped me understand better and encouraged me to  channel into my conscience are simple, and they help me in living a bit more mindfully:

  • To love unconditionally and give wholeheartedly.
  • The amazing power of compassion
  • To forgive and hug
  • To explore as much as possible (Have you seen a child dig holes in the playground !)
  • To be a bit fearless  and take risks (Watch a child climb up the monkey bars with wobbly steps but oozing confidence!)
  • Greet one and all with a smile and hello
  • Look around with wonder, for there is so much to know (Everything from a bug to a firefly to a new toy to a foot print in the snow elicits wonder)
  • Shed inhibitions
  • It’s okay to ask for help
  • To speak my mind
  • To keep trying till I succeed

   I know it is much easy for a child to do these things a their world is uncomplicated and unadulterated and it is whole other thing for the grown ups trying to juggle a gazillion things in this increasingly greed driven  and hatred mongering world. But we can all practice these in our own way to an extent that our complicated lives allow! It isn’t that difficult. And it also isn’t something that we already do not know…it’s just that we sometimes forget how to! Life is better, even if a tad bit, when we remember the joy that simple things in life bring us…won’t you agree? And children, be it our own or our friends’ or neighbors’ or nephews, nieces…they all remind us from time to time that everyday starts anew and we can start it with renewed vigor! Enthusiasm and a bucketful of imagination can add some color in our often drab automated lives:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Silence

   As a mother of a very active three and a half year old boy, I am apprehensive of silence. It usually means that the little guy is up to some mischief which I better find out about quickly before he puts himself in some sort of danger! But now that he is growing up, I must also give him credit for being able to play all by himself quietly, without  actually getting into any trouble and so silence now always does not necessarily mean reason for concern. But still that feeling of ‘what if’ lurks somewhere in my mind. And so silence in that front continues to be not that a welcoming feeling, yet!

   However, in this heavily cacophonous world that we live in today, it is a somewhat different story. We run around trying to juggle work schedules and personal relationships, trying to seek some peace and quiet in our days that are mostly punctuated by beeps and ring tones. At times, it seems I am losing myself in this frenzy and I do not know how to keep up. And it’s not just the gadgets and schedules that are upsetting the balance, it’s people too. I wonder is we are becoming more mechanical, less empathetic, more pretentious and losing touch with our humane side.

   The importance of taking a step back from all this madness becomes, at times, an imperative for our own well being. To shut out the world for even a few minutes can have a calming effect on our overworked minds and help restore some inner peace at the end of a crazy day. And that’s what I have been trying to practice consciously over the past few months. It has indeed been a welcome respite from the whirlwind that keeps my mind in an overworked state most of the time. Embracing the joy that silence brings allows crazy thoughts to retreat and clear the mind for a little while and lets feelings to flow a bit freely. If those feelings have been inside of us for some time (as many of us often keep them locked up inside, lest they disrupt our daily lives), that stillness can bring cathartic tears. It can do wonders and also help us think clearly and comfort our troubled souls. Acknowledging the quiet moments of life is a blessing that I am slowly learning to appreciate.

   Have you ever listened to the silence that dawn brings? Or the one that comes with the pitter-patter of raindrops while every other noise is cancelled out? How about the one that cradles us when sitting on a quiet beach, looking out into the seemingly endless expanse of water? And my favorite of all- the silence of the snowfall? It comforts me and hugs me on the dreaded winter days and nights and helps me pause the ruckus outside for a fleeting few moments, filling me with happiness and wonder. The other day while listening to ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel, I was momentarily taken back to our time spent in Minneapolis, when Neel and I would often go out on short drives around dusk along the banks of the mighty Mississippi that runs through the heart of the Twin Cities. This was one of our favorite CD-s to listen to as we enjoyed the beauty of the dusk outside and the strange calmness that the music in the car brought, and for a few precious moments, we would forget our troubles (which were quite a handful during those student days). It was blissful. Music has that power to help us silence the madness of our daily lives and transport us to a better place where we can be with our thoughts and reflect on who we are and where we are headed to.

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   I am no expert but can say this much from personal experience that when you feel the need to stop and breathe, just do it. Breathe deep and pause, even if for a few minutes. Maybe you can do it consciously at the end of your day, everyday… sit at a place away from the clamor and clatter for a little while and let silence wrap you up in a gentle hug. That peaceful feeling can be fleeting and minute, like a drop of water in an endless sea of turmoils, but it will be precious and welcoming. It can help you a bit today and a bit more tomorrow. Everyday, I look forward to my moments of peace and quiet when silence is my companion and I think, hope and aspire. It has been helping me, in baby steps to try and live more mindfully than habitually. In today’s world, when there seems to be so much negativity and hatred all around, it is my little beacon of hope that keeps me from drowning in the bitterness and gloom. It helps me see the good that there is still all around, all these amazing people who, in face of adversities are relentlessly carrying on their work for the betterment of one and all-to stop the senseless destruction of human life, to raise awareness towards the plight of the less fortunate, to halt the effects of climate change, to help the endangered species in the animal world…so on and so forth. And it fills me with hope that:) It helps me do my tiny part and gives me courage to raise my children in a world where the promise for justice and peace is real, teach them right from wrong and guide them along their journey and in their role for a better world.

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                    The quieter you become, the more you will be able to hear- Rumi.

Towards the search for inner peace

   In the frantic rush of our daily lives, stress seems to be our steady companion. The demands of everyday life can be, at times, stifling and end up making us feel overwhelmed. I can leave us feeling less than what we are, what we can be and lead to anxiety, fear and irritation. None if this is new to us and yet many of us probably are not sure how to cope with such feelings of animosity that disturb our balance and makes us feel overburdened. It makes us feel that we are less than everyone around us, and while everyone got a better deal we got handed the worst possible cards. We end up being pissed at life in general!

   I have been feeling this way for some time now and I really cannot pinpoint the reason(s). And it has been difficult to feel happy at times, I will admit. I have been brooding over all the things that did not go the way I had planned and focusing on all that went wrong. This has been affecting my loved ones and has made me feel far worse than how I already was. And with little want for self compassion and self care,  I realized that I had forgotten how to do that.

   As a stay-at-home mom of a three and a half year old and as someone who is expecting another child in a few months, life should be awesome. And it is. But it bothers me when I realize that I do not feel particularly happy and at peace. I find myself worrying all the time about almost everything, things over which I have no control whatsoever; my mind is constantly cluttered with unnecessary thoughts and self criticism; indecision and confusion reign supreme! And then one evening the futility of such self deprecation struck me out of the blue and I knew I had to put a bit of an effort to alleviate the unhappy feelings and thoughts, instead of moping around.

   I went online and read a few thought provoking yet simple articles on how to deal with everyday stress;  about inner peace, happiness and the power of positive thinking. They were easy reads but difficult to practice. I failed quite a few times trying to follow what had been suggested and would often find myself back to being in a worried state unnecessarily. I then realized that it needed a conscious effort to channel my inner strength to help me take baby steps towards attaining a calmer frame of mind and letting go of things that were constricting and turbulent.

   I am listing some of the things that I compiled from the articles that I read and from personal experience and I feel I have slowly started the process of learning and unlearning, of trying to find a balance between letting go and holding on, of trying to free my mind of all that is clouding my positive thinking, of trying to find some peace in this crazy conundrum called life:)

  • To free the mind from worries over which I have no control (I know it is easy to say but a thousand times harder to practice and for someone who tends to take on other people’s worries too, I know just how exhausting that can be!). It asks for meticulousness and can feel unnatural but is rewarding from the very beginning. I was worried if this would make me self centered and less empathetic, but has been quite the opposite, in fact:) Once I started practicing consciousness, as I like to call it, the feeling was liberating and clarifying. It was calming. Because my mind was free from petty clutters, I was being less judgmental and connecting with people on a deeper level.
  • As a person who likes to plan things as minutely as possible and feel the need to micromanage things, I learned I needed to let go of this urge. Every thing did not need to be micromanaged and it was okay to not over think things!
  • I need to stop trying to be perfect and instead embrace my imperfections. I am what I am. I can always strive to be better but not at the expense of self criticism at all times. It’s a fact that no one is perfect and that’s fine:)
  • I am aware of the fact that I always seek everyone’s approval. It is so harmful on so many levels that I cannot even begin to explain! From personal experience, I can say this much that seeking everyone’s approval does no good and can lead to more self loathing. So, Stop!
  • I need to make some time everyday, for just myself. It sounds so simple and something that everyone probably does and one might think that who needs to be told this! But i know many people who need to be reminded that self compassion is essential to self growth and development and for us to function to the best of our capabilities.
  • I need to change some of the ways I think and only then will I take a step towards changing the way I lead my life. And that includes all of the above:)

   I read somewhere that instead of living habitually, we should start living mindfully (I think these are the words of the Buddha) and that’s what all my steps have been helping me with. The process has just begun and I have a long way to go but I know how to continue. There are times when I feel I have fallen off the wagon but I know how to get back on and live more holistically. I am a tad bit better at handling anger and fear and try not to let myself stress out easily. I am enjoying the simple things more, can recognize the me that I have always known- ‘the optimistic and resilient me’ that had temporarily gone into hiding- and I am glad she is back:)