Sunday, July 19, 2015

Are you a builder or a destroyer?


I am extremely fortunate to report into a VP - a working mother with four kids and a stay at home husband. She is extremely passionate about women's development and strives to create opportunities and provides guidance to all those who seek her out as a mentor. Every time I leave her office, I walk out a lot more stronger, taller, confident and happier. She has this way of recognizing where you are lacking confidence or doubting yourself and pointing out all the other 10999 things you are doing marvelously and in turn the self doubt moments of panic melt away in the face of accomplishments and challenges faced successfully and you once again are filled with hope that you can do it and this too shall pass. I have even spent an afternoon in her office, just sitting there, because she wouldn't let me leave. I was a hot mess, overwhelmed with things at home and at work, overwhelmed with dealing with difficult people both at work and at home and she just made me sit in her office to let me collect myself and that moment passed and I was once again strong. I am so grateful to her for providing me with a role model of a wonderful boss, a wonderful woman and a wonderful person to know in my life. You continually learn something from the people you come into contact with and she has taught me a lot.

I also have this other woman who I deal with on a regular basis now at home who is the opposite. She breaks me down. By belittling my accomplishments, by down playing the good things I do - through actions and mostly through words - careless thoughtless hurtful words. I believe every person is a product of their past and how they deal with it, the choices they make define them as a person in the present. This lady has many regrets - regrets for not having worked outside the home, regrets for not moving to the U.S. when she had a chance, regrets to not having the kind of support and attention from her spouse that she needs. And those unfulfilled desires and unresolved regrets manifest itself into criticism or undermining everything I do. There is no generous open your heart and breathe in fresh deep air, appreciate and be grateful, soak in every moment of this wonderful life with gratitude. She has also had her fair share of physical and mental issues (Is it caused due to this lifelong tendency of unhappiness and criticism?) that add to the sourness.

A friend of mine had a wonderful fortieth birthday celebration yesterday - she invited all of her close friends for a private yoga session with her teacher who she absolutely adores and revers. We spent the afternoon twisting ourselves into various positions, literally sweating it out and laughing at our lack of flexibility. The session culminated in delicious spicy crunchy mathiya paired with a cool yogurt dip that the teacher had made for us and a chocolate cake which we carried for our friend. The teacher then talked about philosophy and one of the topics was how we are all part of one energy and we came from it and will go back to it. This day/week/month/lifetime is just a drop in many countless others. In the wide spectrum of time and in the vastness of the Universe, we are just a tiny microscopic particle.

One of the things she also touched on was that there are no coincidences - all the people who are in our life, come and go in our lives are all part of a pre determined destiny. The person who is causing you grief today might be someone you had hurt in your past life and this is just karmic forces balancing out. If you want to stop this cycle and do not want to again be a part of each other's lives, stop retaliating and stop letting them hurt you. Make peace and let it flow over you and complete this transaction per se right here, right in this life time.

She also talked about the various stages of love - first and foremost self love followed by love for immediate family and friends, community and then followed by universal love. Self love is not limited to just giving pep talks to oneself or looking in the mirror and admiring oneself but it also means taking care of oneself and making sure you are physically, mentally and spiritually nourished - peace and happiness.

I see a lot of merit in that statement - only when you are truly happy and satisfied internally can u then avoid the traps of insecurities and be able to nourish others through your words, your touch, your actions. Remember all those people in your life - you meet them and you feel refreshed - there is so much love flowing through them, when you walk away you leave happier.

I am going to try to implement these teachings into my daily life now - self love - taking care of myself - giving priority to working out, reading good books and doing the little things that bring me joy without trying to fit some idealistic goal determined by other people of a good - put in what you want - mother, friend, spouse, boss etc. And to be that person who transfers peace, happiness, love and let everyone walk away from you refreshed and happier.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cool blue water

I am drowning. I was drowning a few weeks back too but I knew it and tried to clutch on to everything I could find to stay afloat. I tried to call friends for support, tried to talk to P, tried to give myself pep talks, talked to everyone and anyone who would ask "how are you?" for manners sake. I would immediately unload my stress. I was drowning and trying to stay afloat.

And now I am drowning - I am below the cool blue water and can see the clouds and the sun up high but don't want to do anything to save myself. It's so peaceful down here in the cool blue water without having to do anything. Just to lay under the surface. No one to disturb, just quietly slip away farther from the air.

But then I see my babies; they haven't signed up to grow up without their mother. I have to rise and clutch at something for them. And I tell myself everyday to rise a bit by bit. For their sake I cannot drown.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The value of a breath

There is a very popular saying - One doesn't know the value of something until they lose it. You really do not realize the true meaning of this sentence until you actually experience the loss.

On my birthday this year I made a new year resolution to lose my stubborn twenty pounds which were putting me in the "overweight" category and to get fit and lean. I joined one of the fanciest gyms around and did all the right things - get a workout buddy - check, start doing weights - check, work out at least three times a week with an appropriate mix of strength training/aerobics/stretching - check. I felt great, after many years I saw my butt shape up a bit, my tummy collapsed, people at work commented that I looked like I lost weight, my posture improved; I couldn't be happier!!! P and I had signed up for a half marathon and I was looking forward to training for it.

And then allergy season hit and I returned from a business trip and went straight to bed and since then have not returned to normal. This was two months ago. About a month ago I had my first asthma attack ever. I have never had asthma before - I had run out to get a cake for my boss before going to the gym and I didn't even make it two blocks. It was the strangest sensation ever - like someone had held a hand over your face. I was hot and uncomfortable and struggled to breathe. I pulled over and blasted the AC hoping that the cold air might make whatever it was, go away. But it didn't. Then I slowly drove home and sat in the kitchen for the longest time before making my way upstairs to lay down. All the time wondering what this was and trying to understand what my body was going through. As soon as I lay down, it worsened rapidly and then I clearly realized - I cannot breathe!!

I went downstairs and told my husband that I am not kidding and I need a doctor right away. P is extremely calm in emergencies. After a second of contemplation on which route to take - 911 or ER or Urgent care; we immediately drove to the nearest urgent care. As soon as I got there, the doctor took me in and examined me. She then scolded me for being such an idiot and waiting till the last minute as I was barely breathing by that time. An awfully painful steroid shot and nebuliser treatment later; we left the urgent care and went home. The week after was a blur with strong steroids, inhaler and allergy medicines keeping me in a fog. Me who was the enthusiastic smiling outgoing girl - I was confined to bed like an invalid.

I have not returned to normal; hardly have been to the gym since then. Every day I feel exhausted most of the time. Some days even after a full nights sleep, I wake up with my throat, body, legs, back, head, face hurting. My kids wait for me to return from work to go biking and I cannot muster up the strength to even stand up in the evenings some days. To add to the stress, my in laws are visiting and my mother in law has already set the stage with many thoughtless hurtful comments. It just reminded me that we could never be friends. My sister in law and family are now coming to stay with us for a week - I would have been overjoyed at the prospect of them visiting except I am not sure if she is going to gang up with her mom against me this time.

I am a positive girl - I am grateful. I struggle to move towards the light in dark situations. And this attribute of mine is being tested on a daily, sometimes hourly basis by my current condition. When you feel like shit first thing in the morning, it's very hard to start the day on a positive note. I have unshed tears in my eyes most days and most days I cry alone for some time on the way to work; some days I cry at night with P by my side. I hate being sick. I hate not knowing what I should do to get better. I hate it that my medications don't give me instant relief. I hate it that I cannot bounce back to where I was two months ago. I hate it that I do not have the energy to sleep with my husband. I hate it that my stomach that had begun to tighten up now resembles a baggy watermelon again. I hate it that my jeans which had begun to fall away from my body are once again pasted snug over my fat. I hate well meaning friends and relatives spouting advice and home remedies. If you have not gone through asthma shut the fuck up and just be supportive. I hate that I have turned into a hateful person.

I want my health back. Everyday I fight with not giving in to self pity and depression, as I lay in my bed alone in the evenings and remind myself of all the good things in my life and to be grateful and that this too shall pass. Others are going through worse etc. I try not to be bitter when best friends do not have time to talk or be my support system when I need them the most in this time. I cheer myself up and tell me that one day I will bounce back and these months will be just a faint memory. The worst of this ailment is that you don't have anything to show for it - no broken bones, no loss of weight, no dark circles under eyes; you cannot explain to someone what it means to not be able to breathe in free; how it feels to have your entire body ache all the time.

So if you see anyone who doesn't outwardly apparently look sick to you but says that they are tired because of such and such condition, don't be judgmental. Be gentle, be empathetic and offer them support and positive thoughts. If you see someone walk and talk wistfully about running, don't mindlessly give them advice on how being regular is the key and how they should diet or run everyday - that might not be an option to them. Be kind. And most of all count your blessings and be damn grateful for every little thing in your life that you take for granted because no one knows what tomorrow is going to bring! Much love from an overweight wheezing girl laying in her bed struggling to stay positive as she listens to her kids play in the backyard without her and wishing and praying to God that tomorrow will be the day when she can also join them.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Relationships......

Yes, I am still on the same topic!!

I had gone to a "happy hour" hanging out with my boss and my colleague for a few hours. My boss was extremely interested in understanding my thought process behind marrying a complete stranger; he had many questions - would P be a guy I would pick if I had not gone in for an arranged marriage, is he Mr.Right etc etc. I have answered/tried to explain this to many of my white female friends but try explaining such intricacies and life philosophy to a white guy in his thirties; its a bit awkward and odd.

My colleague is a single dad with two kids under five. His wife left him to go live in another state to be a school teacher. His divorce was finalized last year. He is already actively dating. He had been married for nine years and dated with his wife for a couple of years so give or take had been with the same woman for a decade and more.

Another of my colleagues is in the process of divorcing a guy she met at our work place and married last May. Last May!!! It hasn't even been a year and she is getting divorced.

AND single dad and this colleague are already hooking up.

On some days I feel terribly old and terribly old fashioned. I cannot understand this age of instant romance and instant moving on. Don't 9+ years of a relationship mean anything? Doesn't a decision to marry someone after dating that someone for years mean anything? Do you even stop and think about, do I really want to be with this person - a guy who is a dad to two young kids, or is it just a rebound - lets have fun with each other and on to the next. Like a merry go round.

Doesn't anyone believe in marriages and till death do us apart anymore? Are these just general words that are uttered in marriage ceremonies as a part of tradition? I read somewhere that humans are not meant to be like penguins and to mate for life. Humans need more than one partner throughout their lives. Is that really true? Doesn't anyone want to settle down and focus their attention on making it work with one person and to live their life in a meaningful relationship anymore?

I am literally surrounded in this wave of divorces and break ups - people constantly moving on to the next shinier fitter model. And then what happens when the reality of life hits? When its 2 am at night and a kid throws up and you have an important presentation to make first thing in the morning. Or when its Saturday and you wake up and are reminded of the zillion chores waiting for you downstairs? Or when everyone seems hell bent on acting out and needs attention and you simply want to take a time out for yourself? Will these temporary infatuations and physical attraction driven relationships then sustain real life? Will whether we have the same interests as in watching baseball together or rooting for the same teams matter? I don't know. I am completely baffled by this express generation and realize that my thoughts match with folks who are an entire decade older in age than me. So I drink my drink and smile and try to stay neutral and keep my ancient thoughts on good solid relationships and lets make it work, instead of run ideas on love and marriage.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marriages and more....


When I logged back in, I realized that I am on the same topic!!! One of our close friends here - they have been our first friends in the US - we have been friends over 14 years now celebrating every happy occasion and holding each other through every trying situation. I am fortunate to have not two but seven eight couples of such friends and we are each other's extended families when we are so far away from our own. So we were beyond shocked when one day my girlfriend calmly posted on Facebook of all the places that she is getting separated/divorced from her husband of many years. This led to many phone calls and the situation turned out to be even more horrifying than the post out of the blue. It involved possible situations of mild schizophrenia for her where she thought he was spying on her, trying to kill her; she even went to the police station to lodge an official complaint. For common ordinary folks like us who spend our lives hoping to never have to get involved in the police or law systems - and she was one of us until this complete chaotic breakdown. For the past seven years she had been consistently talking about how she is tired/stressed out/wants to quit her job but never taken any steps in that direction. She was a VP at a good company at the age of forty, two beautiful kids, one cute dog, a beautiful beautifully decorated home, a husband with a great career, awesome family vacations; they were living the American Dream until these horrific few weeks end of last year when they turned into each other's bitter enemies and she proceeded to send him a divorce notice. Things are a bit calmer now with her having quit her job and both of them trying to sort things out but the suspended divorce and the trauma of the awful phase they went through looms over them; making it harder to forgive and forget.

P and I were involved in this whole drama as it unfolded and it has left me emotionally exhausted and questioning again what is love and when does a marriage actually break down??

I think it is practically impossible to always be turned on by your partner - Fifty shades of grey is really a fiction of imagination. Yes when you are newly married it will be fifty shades type lets jump into bed every five seconds but fast forward ahead - 17+ years of married life, couple of kids, struggling/demanding careers, kids activities, lean in type unnecessary expectations put onto oneself by oneself, and weakened physical conditions lead to exhaustion and lack of patience to absorb minor annoyances with your spouse or to be generous enough to forgive lapses in judgment and attention. Mostly all of us put our best foot forward at work, with our kids teachers, our kids even, with friends, slowly we are at the stage that our parents are getting older and need more attention and patience and so at the end of the day all that amazing patience explodes in the face of one minor comment/action or lack thereof by your spouse that sets you off. Some days one is so tired that you choose to ignore and go to bed just to wake up and start all over again. Other days you find yourself taking one more step away from each other.

It is so important to exercise control over your thoughts and to curb them and channel them in the right direction before it gets too late. To open your eyes and to recognize and appreciate the things your significant other does do instead of all the things you think he doesn't. And if you can't find anything to appreciate or be grateful about, at least just hug and kiss once a day. It's putting something in the emotional bank that is going to strengthen your relationship. So that one day you don't have a horrific realization moment when everything seems overwhelming and you find you have nothing left in common with your partner and you begin to think you could totally be happier without him/her.

We have one life to live and which of us even knows how long is it going to be?? We could die tomorrow or in another seventy years. But why should we live it substandard - if we cannot change our situations we can most definitely change how we react to it and I have always found that it in turn somehow then changes the original situation. Win win in any case.

I am struggling with my own demons and in no way am I spouting all these preachy wisdom because I am perfect. It is more of a reminder to myself :) I used to love this show - Downtown abbey. One of the characters once said that bad thoughts always come in everyone's minds but as long as you do not act upon them everything is fine. So do not feel guilty for your bad thoughts, indulge in them a few if it helps create an imaginary happiness for you but then also return back to reality and think about the small things you can change to make you happy and once you are truly happy the universe falls back in the right place. So take time for yourself to read and sip coffee quietly, definitely take time out everyday to exercise - ignore overachiever comments of "if you don't run 75 miles it's no use, you won't really burn any calories" and walk if that's all you can manage to do, any consistent baby step you take in the direction of your general fitness is going to be awesome, forgive yourself daily of all the things you think you should have done but couldn't, look at your partner and realize that men all over the world are pretty much the same and as long as you are respected, loved, provided for and appreciated (and maybe there are days on which you don't feel any one of these but as long as the good days outnumber the bad and you continue to voice your feelings and talk about change, it should work), and give a little more, be a little kinder be a little more loving to the one person in your life that if all goes well will be holding your hand till the end. Love yourself and others and be happy my dears :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What is love?

Lately there have been a spate of messed up relationships around me. I had always heard how divorces were on the rise in India but did not actually know anyone first hand who was getting divorced.

One situation is of a very dear long time friend, more like an older sister to me. She married her high school sweetheart. I am best friends with her sister and all of us friends would look up to them, stars in our eyes, with complete adoration. For us teenagers, this was what true love was, this was how couples should be, they were our role model of a couple in love and now husband and wife. They were/are both extremely attractive, fun and awesome to be around. And now they are going through a very rough period in their lives.

A good friend/colleague at work got divorced. He has two young boys - ages one and five; his wife left him with the kids and moved halfway across the country to go be a school teacher. Abandoning her own babies to go be a role model for thirty some kids of strangers. I see his struggle and attempt to be brave at trying to create a routine as a single father and internally cringe at the tough times coming his way :(

We have a whatsapp group of my high school friends and oddly one of our friend's husbands is a part of the group (my friend is not!). He calmly announced two days back via text - It is with great sorrow to inform you that M and I are parting ways. They have a nearly year old baby. This was a late marriage for both of them.

All around me I listen to my friends/colleagues complain about their spouses - some are just letting off steam, others have more deep rooted serious complaints, still others have resigned acceptance of their situation and are bound in the marriage by finances/kids etc. In my own personal life, I will not lie, there are days on which we both feel that the other person doesnt love/appreciate the other. And then I wonder what is love? Is there any such thing as a soul mate? Are there any couples that are deeply in love with each other 365 days a year? Do they always look across a room at each other and smile in love? 15 years after they are married?

In India, in my parents generation, when divorces were very rare, you just accepted your fate and went along; I have seen so many mismatched couples, so many, most of the time, women who have sacrificed their dreams/desires/feelings and live/die with the person they exchanged vows with. I wonder if they ever sat down and thought about whether their lives would be different if they would have parted ways? Best friend R pondered whether relationships have become so fragile nowadays that if you do not perform up to par like in a work environment, you will be fired (divorced)?

But then there are also those examples like another of my high school friends, she has some form of depression and is married to this extremely positive outgoing friendly guy. He loves to have friends over, loves to party, loves to travel, has this unending zest for life. And its been ten plus years of living with my friend, he still hasnt thought about leaving her. They do not have any kids yet and I wonder what ties him to her when all around there are couples parting ways even when there are so many things at stake. What binds them together?

I have realised that there are phases in your life - good and bad. If you are committed to your marriage, you just need to ride the bad phases out and try to make your relationship stronger to enjoy the good phases. It is a work in progress - this relationship, not one that you can take for granted. You have to work on it, work on yourself. Sometimes making time for yourself might be the best thing to do for your relationship. Sometimes making time for your husband might work. But it is definitely a work in progress. I am speaking from my own experience, from having married a complete stranger, a guy who is kinda opposite in terms of personality. I am not sure if this is true across the board.

I also think one person alone can never fulfill everything you need. There are different people in your life to satisfy different things. Work is for being appreciated, for satisfaction on a job well done, on earning your own money. Home and kids are comforting, loving, its safety and security. Best friends are for comfort and the exact words that you want to listen to when you are down. Eight times out of ten, your spouse is not going to say what you want to hear when you are upset, but best friends almost always will.

You have to look at the big picture and not sweat the small things. He doesnt ever take the initiative to hug you himself but spends hours scouring the internet to look for deals because you said you want to go to Mexico, okay, take it. Thats a sign of love too. Love can be expressed in different ways, accept it in whichever form you receive it and appreciate it. And on days that you are exhausted and know that every small thing is going to lead to a big fight, shut up, listen to music and dont give in to the urge to make a mountain out of a molehill. Go to bed without a fight and tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Some wounds run deep..


"My dear,

You are my darling.Typing this for the tenth time todat,Getting disconnected."

"I dont think I can survive your absence now."

Words...and more words....thirty pages in my yahoo account - pages after pages of emails, I dont even know how many over the past couple of years but words and more words and a thousand "I love yous". I love yous and Darlings. And he has left me again, without another look back at me. These words wash over me like waves, like shifting sands, every day that passes takes me further away from the countless phone calls and the emails till I feel like there will come a day when I will wonder if I imagined it all. Because he has left me again. Walked away without looking back. Again.

Bye Dad. Yes, I am a wimp and I accept apologies quickly and I am quick to forgive and I have an inherent default setting of wanting to preserve relationships and my husband and best friend are convinced that I will let you back in my life and my heart if you ever decide to come back, but today I will learn from these wounds and learn from my unshed tears and my broken heart and WILL NOT let you break it again.

I am still in disbelief that a person can value his own blood so low. Still in disbelief that a man can walk away from his child again and again. Still in disbelief that someone can say and express such love and then turn their back in the same breath.

I have always seen men whose love was true, whose words meant something, who did what they said so I am still in disbelief over you and so immensely grateful for the others. My father - there is a Shahrukh Khan movie - the actress says "Tuzh mein rab dikhta hain" (I see God in you), I see God in my father. This kind gentle man who fought for me when I was a baby, took me away to live with him and gave me a name and stood by me like a rock (and still does) all my life. I see God in him. And it would indeed be a great disservice and heights of ungratefulness if I cried over you. So I wont. I will count my blessings and think of you as some evil deed from my prior life which had to be repaid in a broken heart and soundless sobbing. Because you have left me all over again. And this time you did have a choice. And you once again didnt choose me. All over again.