Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebrating 40 years of a great life!

Wow 40 years on this planet! Seems like a lot. Has been no joy ride for sure. Yet despite the lows and the painful moments, and huge doses of beating-myself-up, it hit me last week about how immensely grateful I feel. For the life I have had. For the relationships I have had and continue to have – solid at my back. For the ways of the universe in supporting my whims and dreams. For my ability to see and speak my truth tough as it may be.

And will this immense gratitude – there was a need therefore to celebrate the day by reaching out in some way to the many many people who have made my life so meaningful and special. One of these reaching out and talking to my dear friend Priya, led to a decision to mark the start of the next year on earth with 40 of something.

So as usual, ambitious plans that I also happily shared with anyone who cared to listen. And based on reactions, I decided what I would say and how much. Yes I got a range of reactions – the rare ones in the range of “that’s inspiring” but mostly falling in varying degrees of banter. But it did feel great to speak it out loud even as the idea was forming in my head. And today, just a day after my birthday, I see myself as curious and excited about how the 40 BD resolution and the year ahead will pan out.

Given that this is my space – where I can say the idea fully – here’s what it is – “A year of 40s”. What that means so far is:

-          40 road trips

-          40 new songs on the keyboard

-          40 traditional recipes (hopefully learnt from a person and not a book)

-          40 day practices – rituals along self-care, healing and connections

Hope to document this journey over the next one year. One reason – to bring in focus, and discipline. And the other motivation - that my baby reads this when I am not there to talk about it and remembers what it meant to have a mom like me!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Today I wish...

Having a smart phone has many advantages but a big bummer past few months has been zero writing. Thanks to FB links and forwards, I now end up reading such well written pieces that my own musings and articulation seems to pale in comparison. Recently I ended up lecturing a friend about feeling free to express without judging and a little voice inside nudged, "how about practising what you preach?!"

So here's a re- reentry! I thought of posting some of my poetry. In the past few months, attempts at writing poetry have been a healing, creative process. I find myself stuck in a situation, a mood and attempting to express that through poetry helps me work my way through it. It's clarifying as much as it is cathartic and I love these moments I give myself. Somehow limited exposure to poetry has somehow created a mindset in me that I need to rhyme. Only once have I written a piece when there was no such compulsion and here it is:

Today  I wish ...

Today  I wish to bind myself to the  earth,
Though I see the unending free skies stretching overhead.
Today I wish my hair strikes roots in the ground,
Though the winds strain to caress it.
Today I wish my feet get swallowed by the wet mud,
Though the dew kissed grass offers soft solidness.  
And though the thoughts scamper like restless squirrels on the branches,
Today I wish to be like a tree, 
grounded, and quietly swaying to the rhythms of the seasons. 

P. S. my little girl, nia also seems to enjoy writing poetry and has been planning to blog herself. Can't wait to see her foray into the world of writing and blogging! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Resolution for 2013

Finding me
In others I've sought to find myself
How meaningless that now seems to be
For it took me away from my own inner world
That nurtured the introverted part of me.
Am I doing enough for him? for her?  for them?
These questions now need to change
It's time to try out some new rules
Even though they may seem a bit strange
Going silent than talking things out
Seems to be the way of the world
That I am now beginning to grasp
As I console within me this girl
Who always thought that confronting helped
in healing relationships that matter
But that seems far from the truth
Now shoved beneath safe chatter.
I am learning how we all have our own versions of truth.
Between two truths what's truer - who's to say!
And self disclosure and confronting seem rather naive
It's time for me to find a wiser way
to sort thru the complications of these relationships
To make meaning of my life
To think through what it truly means to be me
and not just a friend, a mother, a wife.
To find myself I seek solitude now
To dive into my own inner world where I belong
The relationships, the reaching out can wait for a bit
While I create my own rhythm, my song!

Shadow Work & Poetry

End of 2012 - beginning 2013 - I see myself equally drawn to Jung's work and expression through poetry. I love the way Jungian analysts write - such richness and depth in their writing and at the same time - wirtten in ways that non-jungians can get.

My current favourite author - James Hollis - his book on working with the Shadow is definitely worth a read. Post reading that book - I have a way of working with what happens within me everything I expereince a strongly negative reaction instead of focusing on the outside. Sure, its wok for a lifetme - but I am able to see how I am able to work through some tough things within and emerge feeling a little more whole, a little more clearer and a lot more peaceful!

So here's a poetry that emerged from my last such journey within (written in my room in Bangladesh):

In the Shadows of Silence.....

On a quiet afternoon, in an even quieter room,
I sat by myself in anger and despair
triggered by feeling isolated in a strange land,
craving for some conversation but no one to share.

It was then that my eye caught this waterbird –
Alone in the paddy field, motionless it stood
As I marvelled its stillness, its focus,
it seemed to telling me that I too should
stay still a while and go past the tears
to truly hear the crying of the soul
to confront what lies in the shadows within me
and listen to my silenced truths now waiting to be told.

It was then that I met this little child in me –
Scared, feeling unloved and even blamed
for the conflicts at home that she felt had to be sorted
and feeling confused why among adults no words were exchanged.

The silence seemed so threatening to her back then;
Eroding the sense of security that only family can bring
She dared not confront the grown-ups why they weren't talking ,
Yet she desperately searched for words for her to cling.
Clear loud words that would tell her she's not to be blamed
That the love and security she needn't ever doubt
Or even whispered words behind closed doors
that would give clues of conversations, of fights sorted out.
Of course those words never came - loud nor soft.
The wounds of that time partly healed, partly festering
It was then that I began to fully grasp for the first time
why with loved ones, I find silence so unsettling.

So I sat besides this child – still feeling abandoned and lost
and broke the silence to tell her that her grief I shared
I held her with my strength, my love, my wisdom
as I talked to her so she knows that i cared.

I spoke of how conversations needn't be only outside;
Of how within me there was this rich inner world
That held enough words of love, of support and safety
both for me the grown woman, and for the little girl.

Slowly the child within me felt understood,
And on the outside - me the woman - hopeful and light
Knowing that there would be many more such conversations
For now the silence, the aloneness seemed alright.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back from Hampi

I am finding myself wanting more and more to look at creative ways of self expression and one of them has been poetry. Encouraged by a friend to do more of it, here's what emerged after a three day lovely break @ Hampi with family & friends.

Stories from Hampi
If only these rocks could speak
What stories would they choose to tell?
Of the many events they bore silent witness to
Events that even history has dispelled

Would they choose to talk of brothers
Vali and Sughriva locked in a fight for life
Or of the devoted Laxmana following Rama
As he crossed these lands in search of his wife

Or perhaps the tale would be of sisters
Who for insulting these very lands,
Were cursed to become the Akka – Tangi Betta
Frozen in eternal rest, they now stand!

Maybe the folklore of the chieftains Hukka and Bukka
Is what the rocks might want to share
Who made this very land their kingdom
On sighting the hound being chased by the hare.

Or maybe history would take precedence over myths
Stories of Krishnadevaraya, the King
His bravery, his religious tolerance , love for poetry
Songs in his praise the rocks would sing!

Would they, then,  swell up with pride
As they begin to share the many forms
Of prosperity that radiated in this kingdom
In its bazaars, its streets, its religious icons

And then would they start to mourn
The fall of this prosperous, mighty empire
Ruthlessly plundered by the Sultanate’s men
Then left to burn for months in the fire.

Ah! Those tales of religious intolerance,
Of greed, that these rocks could tell -
Even in today’s times, several centuries later
Those stories would still ring a bell

But the rocks know that history repeats
That man from his mistakes learns less and less
So these rocks withhold their stories, their wisdom
And continue to stand in mute witness.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

100 kilometres | team of 4 | 48 hours

Thats the Oxfam trailwalker– an event I participated in early this year. An event where a team of 6 of us friends (4 walkers and 2 as support team) participated under the name Terra Trots.  The amazing statistics of this first of its kind event organized by Oxfam in India:
No of teams registered – 80
No of 4-member teams who completed- 41
% of individuals who completed (not as intact teams) close to 85%
The data that was highlighted at the finish point was obviously around the time records that these amazingly persistent  teams had accomplished:
Fastest all men’s team (Confident flying feet) –20 hours 36 minutes
Fastest veteran team  (Protek) – 24 hours 16 minutes
Fastest mixed team  (March of the Penguins) –  28 hours 28 minutes                    
Fastest Women’s team  (Terra Trots) – 44 hours 36 minutes

We got our name up on that chart despite being among the possibly last 10% of the participants as far as speed goes was only because we were the only all women’s team among those registered that had completed the entire walk as a full team of 4. Back then, when we saw this table we laughed.
It didn’t seem as funny to me anymore when my team received an invite to the Oxfam awards night. I mean hadn’t ANYONE noticed the time we took? And there was this loud judging voice that said, “ NO WAY, I cannot go for this event. For one – I certainly don’t want to be the butt of sexist jokes!”
But Terra Trots did attend that event early today. Where did that shift happen for me?
Honestly, from the way I started when I first decided to participate in this event, that I would complete the walk seemed an unachievable goal even an hour before the walk (and of course several times during the walk itself). But even today, months after the event, the energetic high I feel when I think of having actually completed it and the warmth I feel listening to what it meant to my team members – now THAT is worth celebrating. I know that something deep within shifted for each one of us – as we were preparing and planning for the walk, as we walked and as we met a couple of times after the event to celebrate as a team.
So showing up today for me was truly to celebrate the spirit that Terra Trots carried through the event and after – the spirit that in some ways still sneaks up in what we feel about ourselves, and the various roles we hold in our personal and professional spaces.
Also, showing up today was for me was to reinforce to myself that while mainstream definitions of success have their own value, can we all also celebrate those achievements that do not fit the mainstream measuring scales? The way we pushed our own self-limiting beliefs through the preparation and the event, the courage with which we challenged the strength of friendships within the team as we put it through this kind of endurance, the humility with which we accepted different ways of being and giving in a team – all these were our achievements, immeasurable by any scales, and truly worth celebrating.
And finally showing up today was for me to remind myself – that no matter what the end goal is – challenging self-limiting beliefs, strengthening relationships, dealing with judgements – both inside and outside, fighting against poverty or walking 100 kilometres in 48 hours – it all comes down to taking one step at a time and staying with it.
So here’s to you Terra Trots – Navi, Anjana, Priya, Suja & Shashi for this amazing, life changing adventure!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paying attention....

Yesterday I spent a large part of my time in a meeting where I truly had no “real” role to play. A project with multiple stakeholders where I was done with my part. But the other stakeholders seemed to be in some deadlock and I was called in by one of them – why I am still not sure. As I tried to make sense of the agenda and implicit expectations, I felt that the only real reason i was there was because someone had a need to be listened to. When that listening was not happening with one of the stakeholders, he actually hoped I would do the part – so there i was. And I listened. I am not even sure how much that listening will help – but yes, I did what seemed to be the only thing to do.

While I was listening, the thing that struck me is how much of attention we pay to the stuff that does not work out as we hoped it would. The things that go wrong. The things that need to be “fixed”. Sadly, all this attention happens at the cost of paying attention to things that actually worked or are going right. Things, which if paid complete attention to, would certainly have the potential to fix the larger problem.

With all this in my mind, I stumbled upon this Ted Talk by Julia Bacha – amazing coincidence (as all coincidences are!). While she speaks about paying attention to non-violence in a larger global context, it got me thinking about what are some of the things that I pay attention to - as a friend, a mother, a wife, a professional, a citizen on the road. How many times do things that are going all wrong or not meeting my expectations or demanding more that I can give take up my mind space? People around me not living upto my expectations of them – it could be my family, my colleagues, my friends, the security at my gate or even the car driver on the road. And as I nurture all these incidents and experiences with my attention, I know it leaves that much less time for all the things that are truly wonderful, that energise me, that are working out even beyond my own expectations!

Also, inside of myself, what are some of the things I pay attention to? How many conversations have I had just in the last week bemoaning to everyone who cares to listen about my thyroid condition? Or how the noise levels at work are completely driving me up the wall! Or even highlighting how little time I spend on myself? Oh the time i spent delving on anger, disappointment, a sense of inadequacy. And at the asme time, how i miss paying attention to all the wonderful blessings, the things that are working just fine, the moments that give me energy, love, understanding and just pure joy!

The questions that I therefore ask of myself: can I spend a little more time telling the husband of all the thoughtful little things he does around the house rather than the things i feel he does not do? Or let the little one know how much I enjoy her humming to herself more than reminding her to speak softly to mamma! And reach out to commend that teacher sitting in the sandpit fully present to the child instead of complaining of the noise during playtime? Also loving my body more for all the times it wakes up feeling energised, healthy and hopeful instead of feeling frustrated about why it won’t fit into those jeans I bought last year! Finally paying less attention to moments I feel small or inadequate to the times I feel more whole and complete and filled with life!

And I know this to be true - when I pay attention to all these within myself, and when I highlight these in my relationships and other spaces, it will automatically put the things that seem all wrong in the right perspective!