Monday Motivation

Monday is almost over here but this is my photo and my thought for the day-

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“OPTIMISM IS THE FAITH THAT LEADS TO ACHIEVEMENT. NOTHING CAN BE DONE WITHOUT HOPE AND CONFIDENCE”- HELEN KELLER

 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have a good week.

‘What’s the Word’ Wednesday

Ennui :

Feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction; boredom

 

   My four year old has been, of late,  using the sentence:’ I am bored!’ And I have been processing it, very carefully…trying out different things to lessen his ‘boredom’. He has also recently started getting more screen time than usual as I have been slacking, probably, in keeping him occupied. That has been followed by pangs of guilt and some serious ‘research’ into how to best stimulate the young mind, how to keep them occupied etc etc. All of this also has had less than desirable results at times, setting the whole cycle in motion again!

   Growing up, I was always told to keep myself occupied as much as possible as it was not a good thing to sit idle. Who can remember this from their childhood days- ‘An idle brain is the devil’s workshop!’ And so ingrained is that notion in my mind that I too have been doing the same with my son and in the process probably not letting him be a child. I wonder is too much structured time good for kids? I look around and parents and kids are running from one activity to the other and both often look exhausted and somewhat ‘doing things for the sake of doing them’. I have already had suggestions from ‘concerned’ minds that I should be enrolling my son, before it’s too late, in guitar lessons and soccer and some sort of piano or drum lessons too (my kid is just another kid who loves to kick the ball around and beat the drums and strum his ukulele). And the only thought that had crossed my mind was “too late for a four year old??”

   Recent research has shown that being bored once in a while is actually good for the child’s brain (https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2018/03/08/unplug-your-kids-boredom-is-good-for-the-brain/- there are many more articles on this topic..just ask Google!) It gives them time to be creative and helps them think.  If a parent is filling in all the free time of the child, I wonder how will they learn to do it themselves? We cannot think for the kids nor should we and as I am learning slowly, it is not good for my kid to be told how to keep himself occupied at all times. I need to let him be a kid and help him visit the land of make believe.

   We did not have the electronic devices at our finger tips and we did figure out ways to keep ourselves from getting ‘bored’. And as far as I remember, it was fun to pretend play and talk to other kids, get into quarrels and figure out how to get along, scrape our knees playing on the streets and get our hands dirty in the mud! I wonder if we are failing to give our kids enough outdoor time or has societal norms put such limits? Such thoughts cross my mind and I am often perplexed by the complexity of the answers. Times are different and life has become much more demanding and trying to find a balance between the ideal and what’s possible can sometimes be an uphill task. But I am willing to let my four year old get a little bored and figure out things on his own, get down on my knees and get our hands dirty, if not in the mud then in the play dough and other gooey stuff!

 

(I had started writing this post about a month ago and had then just forgotten! My ‘bored’ four year old made me think about this today and I am thankful for that ‘boredom!)

 

 

Thanks for stopping by:)

Monday Motivation

   It is sometimes hard to keep it together when there is so much negativity all around. Half truths are not truths, disdain and contempt for others is not good, “I” above everything and everyone else is shallow. But when walls seem to be closing in from all directions, it sometimes helps to just keep breathing. So, keep breathing my dears…just keep breathing.

   I went for a walk with my son the other day and it was a beautiful evening. The sky was blue and white and gray and pink…it was amazing to look up. As I clicked these with my phone, the song- ” What a Wonderful World” kept playing in my head! So much beauty all around us…how are we not caring for HER more?

 

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“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness-it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude” – Brene Brown
Keep Breathing!

Monday Motivation

Monday is over in some parts of the world and it is close to being over where I live. But I still wanted to go ahead with this post as self motivation!

   When our loved ones suffer, it hurts us too. It also makes us feel helpless when there is nothing that we can do to ease their troubles.  At the moment, I am in a similar predicament  as some seemingly unending and unsolvable strain of difficulties is giving my family back in India sleepless nights and I don’t know how to help. While I have enormous faith in the scheme of things and that gives me hope in the face of adversities, at times it gets difficult to hold on to hope too. I started this post as something that would distract me, even if for a little bit, from the constant worry  and as a reason to help me to to keep pushing forward, holding on to that chalice of hope. And the main reason was to help one particular troubled soul find strength and believe that ‘this too shall pass’.

   Today, I am posting some sayings of the Buddha that might seem cliched (like all quotes or sayings tend to do) but have profound truth and power to help heal the troubled soul and carry forward with the journey.

 

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.
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Have a happy week, folks!

Tuesday Tales- The Pink Trash Can

   Many moons ago, I had the opportunity to live in Kobe, Japan as part of the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program and to say the least, it turned out to be an experience of a lifetime. Today’s Tuesday Tales is about how a little pink trash can from my first day in Kobe.

                                                       The little pink trash can 

   I was young and it was the first time I had traveled ‘overseas’ and I was hopeful, albeit a bit nervous. I had no idea about what to expect and in a country the language of which I neither spoke nor understood, planning to work there for a couple of years did not seem as daunting as it should have. I was running high on all things bright and beautiful and was honored to be a part of this pretty cool and at the same time, enriching, program.

   It was the month of August and it was hot and humid, a weather I was quite familiar with. After a couple of days of program orientation in Tokyo with probably around 5000 participants from more than 40 countries and mesmerized by all that was going on- from our stay in the wonderful Keio Plaza Hotel, to attending lectures to a beautiful milieu of what seemed like a cultural amalgamation, to making new friends-everything seemed to good to be true. After a three day period, I boarded the Shinkansen from Tokyo  and reached Kobe, along with my colleagues, some of who I became good friends with, that continues till today. We went to the Board of Education building of the city of Kobe where after some more briefing about the whats and what not-s of the program, my co-teacher from the school I was going to be teaching English at, took me to what was going to be my home for the period of my stay in that country, and the first place where I would be staying all by myself for the first time ever…too many firsts, one may say!

   We went up the stairs and opened the door to the place and it was then that reality hit me. I was looking at a tiny place that was just floors and walls, with the tiniest gas stove I had seen. Oh, there was a little futon too but it was all rolled up in a corner and had not caught my attention in the beginning. I dragged my big red suitcase inside, thanked my co-teacher, Ms. Takashima (who by the way, was surprised at the emptiness of the place), closed the door after she left and slumped on the floor in a pool of tears. I was exhausted and scared but the glitz and happy faces of Tokyo and the adrenaline from all the excitement had kept me from facing some realities that the sight of an empty place brought to the forefront in no time.

 I was alone for the first time ever. I had never lived without my parents and I was without friends. It felt claustrophobic in there and it was hurting bad. I went to the bathroom, turned the tap on and just sat in the bathtub, with my clothes till on. And I cried my heart out. I saw no reason to be there and just wanted to run back to the place and people who I left behind, waving through the murky glass doors at the airport.

   After I was almost done crying as I could not cry any more, I heard the door bell ring and someone saying something. I was drained out from all the crying, not to mention the soaking clothes. By the time I had changed into dry clothes, and thought of three excuses about what was wrong with my eyes ( an unhealthy duration of crying does strange things to the eyes obviously), whoever had rung the bell had gone away. When I opened the door, I found a little pink trash can with a pretty lid on it…it was definitely the cutest trash can I had ever seen, with a note on it that said- ‘I hope you will make this a part of your home-Ms. Takashima’. Also hanging on the door handle was a ‘welcome bag’ from the previous batch of JET participants, who were living in the same building as us and it had all the basic necessities to help us through the first few hours.  A dinner invitation for meet and greet was followed by a very teary Skype call home and the day ended with me passing out on that tiny futon.

    As I woke up the following morning and made tea (I had brought supplies from home), I realized I was calmer and less claustrophobic. The little pink trash can, with the note still stuck on the lid, was part of my ‘home’ now and I knew 20 more people than the previous afternoon and I had survived my first night away from my family. And at that moment I remembered something that my Baba always says ‘Din periye jaye. kalker din o eshei jaye‘ (loosely translated- time keeps on moving and, tomorrow always comes). I had never before paid much attention to this saying of his that he uses too much and I realized the truth of those words in that morning, sipping tea in my first home with the pink trash can.

   That pink trash can made that empty space my home and the next two years went by in the blink of eye. I had some of the best times of my life there, I definitely learned much more than I had before, I made some very special memories and even more special friends and I reconnected with a lost friend who I am currently married to and who is a wonderful father to our two kids!

 

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This picture of the school playground was taken by a dear friend and colleague near the end of my stay in Kobe. It has remained a favorite.

Monday Motivation

Continuing with my ‘Monday Motivation’ post!

   It was ‘Mother’s Day’ yesterday, and I was determined not to write anything on that topic. I have had several conversations with close friends on the importance and validity of such a day and those discussions have had interesting outcomes…let’s just leave it at that! For me, motherhood has been and is a huge part of who I am. It defines me and I have no objection to people rolling their eyes at that thought. Because it is true. At this point in my life, that is who I am and I proudly embrace it. It is exhausting and endless and yes there are times when I feel overwhelmed but at the end, every drop of sweat is worth all the craziness and ask any mom and she will happily say the same.

   The importance of the role that mothers play in the lives of their child/children is undeniable and it nurtures and shapes the young mind. However, we all have women in our lives who have played/play an equally important role in guiding us through the ups and downs, who inspire and lift up people around them and without whose presence we would not be who we are. They are present as aunts, grandmothers, family friends, cousins, teachers, neighbors, nannies, friend’s moms and play a variety of roles as our confidants, our friends, our role models and at times who raise us. They too deserve as much love and appreciation on ‘Mother’s Day’ as sometimes their stories go unrecognized and they are left in the shadows while the world celebrates the mothers only.

   My mother was raised by her two of her aunts and uncles and the love that she has for them is just the same, if not more, as that for my grandmother. Her aunts never had children of their own and were unmarried and my mother was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that had a bunch of people who all played the role of equally devoted mothers and fathers. They nurtured my brother and me too and loved us with their whole hearts, celebrated our victories and wept in our sorrows. I was more close to them than I was to my grandmother and I know that’s true for my brother too. They loved just like a mother does and I know how much my mom misses them, now that they are no more.

   To women all around fighting their unique battles, however big or small, to women driving change, to women taking a stand, to women celebrating life, to women standing tall in the face of unfathomable sorrow, to women pausing a bit to take it all in- you are invincible.

 

And here are the two pictures I took today!

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The thought that I want to leave you with, this week-

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Have a happy week, folks!

Tuesday Tales: Ma

   I was once told by a dear friend when I started this, that I should write daily… for reasons abound. And while I have sincerely tried to pay heed to that advice, I have failed miserably. Excuses can be many but the fact of the matter remains true. Much time has passed since I started this, what many may refer to as petty journal entries or ramblings of a bored mind or feeble attempts at photography as I have nothing special to share nor am particularly talented. And many a times I have been tempted by my insecurities to just delete all of this and move on. And the introvert in me has nudged me a lot too towards that end!  But I continue to stick around ignoring and, at times, overcoming my vulnerability and thoughts that mostly center around what-will-people-think! And the sticking around has helped. I have started getting the hang of blogging and its nitty gritties and am learning a lot in the process. Inspiration has found its way in and I am grateful to those who are making this seem less banal.

   So, in accordance with my current philosophy of being less- critical -and -more -accepting -of -my- flaws- and- moving- ahead- in spite of-what-will-people-think, I am going to be attempting Tuesday Tales. I plan to share tales of people who have filled up my pocketbook of memories with special moments and of past moments that catch me unaware and clean the dust off of forgotten tales. We all have people, adventures that we hold a little closer to our hearts than the rest, and then we also have moments that at times open a floodgate of memories to by gone days and make us look forward to more similar occurrences in the future. Most such tales are personal and will hold no significance for others but we all have much more in common than we think of and I am hoping some of my tales will also find you reminiscing of moments and people that are more memorable than others. Storytelling has been one of the oldest ways of connecting to each other or so I have heard. By sharing stories and commonalities it is possible to see that we are united in more ways than we realize and though it will not solve any global pandemonium, it might offer a bit of a respite from that:)                                                                       

   I tried thinking about who to start this weekly post with and I toyed with quite a few ideas but could think of no one but her. I had written this about her a couple of years ago and when she found out, she told me in these words ” tumi boddo bhalo, tai erom likhecho…shob Ma ra eki hoye…aami keu special na‘ (You are too kind and that’s why you think this way…all mothers are the same, I am not someone extra special). That’s my Ma…always seeing the good in others.

 

                                                                    Ma

She exemplifies nobleness of mind and spirit, of humility and courage. She keeps calm under all circumstances and has NEVER used words that hurt. She has struggled and fought her battles the best she could. She has been resilient when crowded with adversity. She has never complained about the lack of material comfort in her life but has made it richer through poetry and music. She has a beautiful voice and though age and illness have taken much of it away, her love for music remains strong. She gives without ever hoping to receive. She has an indomitable spirit that has only risen. She taught the best she could and gave/gives all that was/is possible. We have had our differences and we have had heartbreaks too and at times, it hurts to say,  my fondness for her has wavered…I guess most teenagers go through the phase of not liking their parents that much. But she has always welcomed me with nothing but love and encouragement. She is not exceptional for anyone but me, my younger brother and our father. She is our biggest critic and most ardent supporter and her faith in us is unwavering. With a heart full of love that is enduring and all encompassing, she lives life believing in the good that is all around. Unabashed in her honesty and humble in her beliefs, she is my everyday inspiration. As years roll on by and I settle in this adopted country, a twenty hour flight away from her, my heart aches a bit more. She yearns for her grandkids and I hear it in her voice everyday. At the end of our daily video chats, she says every single time ‘ Bhalo Thako, shobai Miley anonde thako’, that loosely translated into English means ‘ all of you stay well, be happy’. My heart fills with gratitude and pride to call her my Ma. 

 

 

My Ma with her grandson and granddaughter; me and my younger brother

  We all have people in our lives whose influence has played a significant role in shaping our ideas and beliefs- parent, teacher, neighbor, family member, a stranger who we happened to cross paths with, friend- they help shape who we are, who we wish to be. We are fortunate to be guided by such people, many of who are no longer around. But their words, their work continue to be with us and is a testament to their uniqueness, that we were fortunate enough to be touched by. Don’t you think?