December 2, 2015

A Perfect Escapade

The sun has just risen all bright and warm hinting at the beautiful day just begun. Peeking out from behind a cloud even though he invites me, at the same time, it seems as though he wants to hide from the world. The clouds race away carelessly brushing the blue sky gently with their white, snowy appearances. A slight chill fills the air but I am at ease. Thanks to the sun-kissed rays of warmth around me.

I look out the window and feel at peace. It’s what I always wanted. Or maybe everyone else does too. A quiet place, lots of sunshine, a brisk breeze and everything engulfed by beautiful Mother Nature.

Oh but wait! How could I forget to appreciate Mother Nature? She looks like an enchanted riot of hues what with fall upon us. Her colors lay strewn everywhere my sight takes me. Ignoring the plush brightness of her red, yellow or orange is highly unachievable especially when they stand out against the backdrop of the calm blue skies. She teases me further to look at the horizon and encourages me to forget this moment. She attempts to take my breath away but no matter what, I must return to my environment.

The walls of my room stand adorned and it indeed has been the desirable fruit for all my efforts over years. From the classic William Shakespeare to the contemporary Stephen King, from the dusty trails of historical times to the best-selling catches of fiction, from the subtle poetry to the magic-filled  memoirs, they all reside in the multitude of books lined up around me looking upon as I go on.

Sitting in this quaint cottage, deep within the woods, surrounded by the foliage of the country makes me a poet on some days or a critic on the others but what I enjoy the most after a few hours of this romantic escapade are seeing my thoughts take form through my pen and paint wholesome experiences in my empty journal.

Just before I end, I look up once more and watch it all gone. The travel back to reality is hard but necessary. What I envision in my dreams remains a dream but until then I shall go back and visualize myself all alone in that cottage, looking out the window and blissfully writing away.

Yours' truly,
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December 1, 2015

Awards galore !

About half a year ago, I received an award for my blog - ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’ all thanks to a dear friend & awesome blogger from the blogosphere - Shantala Nayak. 

Shantala writes at ‘Shanaya Tales’ and shares her thoughts on a variety of topics ranging from book reviews & parenting experiences to glimpses of everyday life. Being less than a year old, what attracted me to her blog earlier this year during the month-long blog-a-thon April A-Z Challenge was the similarities in our writing. Even though we both had pre-decided themes for the challenge, when our post for every day would get published we’d realize that the same topic popped up on our respective blogs. 

I largely relate to her blog and love reading her experiences on general living and food-for-thought posts. What also interests me is her simple yet elegant blog design.

Thank you Shantala and I also owe an apology for procrastinating on completing this post for as far as I can remember. :) Thank you for giving me this award.

What is ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’?
The Versatile Blogger Award is given in recognition for the great commitment, diverse talents and generosity shown by bloggers here in our community. There is so much creativity on show that it is difficult to reduce a list to only a few, but for those nominated it is hoped that it will serve to motivate them as well as celebrate their work till date.

What are the rules?
Display the award on your blog.
Thank the person who nominated you.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Nominate up to 15 blogs.
Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.

If you have followed this blog for some time, you would have read about the time when I shared '10 Random Things About Me' ?

If not, then what about when the Liebster Award came knocking at my door the first time ? And again the second time ?

Ok ! What about the time when I had to reveal who I really am - Part 1 and Part 2 ?

Well, if you still haven't had the chance to know me better then read right on as I share some facts about me which have come to be this year circa 2015.
  1. My favorite time of the day is when the house is asleep, the kitchen sink is clean and there aren't strewn around toys left to pick up because that’s when my mind is at complete ease and also abuzz with creative thoughts. 
  2. I get easily affected by negativity. Whether it’s random comments or people, once it happens I keep away, rather prefer running off, from such situations for my entire life.
  3. I love reading books on historical fiction and mythology. 
  4. I look forward to connecting with the blogosphere everyday and the wonderful friends I made here. Having a supportive group has rekindled my old love for letter-writing.
  5. With each passing day, I am striving to write better. At book cafes, I am constantly on the search for books that help improve my writing skills. 
  6. My perspective on my work has changed. Earlier I used to work to earn better, now I work to do good in whichever way possible and feel better.
  7. One of the main goals of this year has been to declutter my stuff. I no longer have the urge to shop at the drop of a pin or fancy owning the next big thing in the market. Except when it comes to shopping for my Baby Girl. At that point, I just want to purchase every nice outfit that I set my eyes on. :P
That’s not all. About 2 months ago, another wonderful blogger - Janine Ripper nominated me for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’. Makes me wonder sometimes if my blog and I are indeed credit-worthy of these thoughtful awards. 

Thank you very much, Janine and sincere apologies too. I am not even going to go into why I delayed this post only because it isn’t fair to always quote - 'There is no time left in my day' or 'I have a busy life going on' - when I see such inspirational bloggers like yourself managing everything at ease and still writing beautifully. 

During March this year, Janine, who blogs at ‘Reflections from A Redhead’, added me to the awesome group - ‘Friday Reflections’ on Facebook and it has truly enriched me. I love the prompts provided every week and definitely give my best shot to reflect, write and share my thoughts in this group on a regular basis. Around the same time, I came across Janine’s blog too and loved how she and Mackenzie Glanville ('Reflections from Me') host this weekly linkup.

I absolutely admire their posts and there is always a feel-good factor at the end of every article. It always fills me with positivity and makes me want to embrace life with complete enthusiasm. You should check it out too! :) 

What is ‘The Sunshine Blogger Award’?
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are inspiring and bring sunshine into the lives of their readers and fellow bloggers. It feels great to know that as a blogger, one's personal experiences and innate thoughts can inspire others.

What are the rules?
  • Thank the person that nominated you
  • Answer the questions from the person that nominated you
  • Nominate some other bloggers for this award
  • Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated

Janine’s questions for me are : 
  • Why did you start blogging?
Over 8 years ago, around the time when I got acquainted to the term ‘blog’, a close friend shared a couple of posts from his blog. As I read his words and appreciated the metaphorical comparisons of mundane everyday chores or his unique encounters on a recent trip it intrigued me and kindled an interest with a question - “Could I write as well as him?” That nudged my inner self to wake up and start one for myself. This was my first attempt at blogging. The joy was short lived since the blog survived for 2 posts and then went into hibernation as life happened.

Second time around, over 4 years ago to be precise, I came across many new bloggers and their expressive writing skills. Deep down in my heart, I wanted to own my personal space where I could just write, share, speak my obscure thoughts before they disappeared and record them in this large cyberspace. A few chosen ones of those bloggers inspired me to create that space and so a new blog evolved. 

  • What is the most positive thing that has happened to you because of blogging?
Even though my initial attempts at blogging were structured to consist of my daily chronicles of life, as I came across various blogging groups and linkups, the one thing I noticed is that there were a handful of bloggers whose writing made me appreciate myself for what I am and made me feel good from within. Now with every passing day, I realize how writing can be therapeutic. It enables you to notice the small things in life and constantly keeps your mind busy looking for ideas to share. I see myself strive everyday to write better and want to bring out a positive impact on my readers as well. Thanks to the blogging world, I now have a constant urge voicing inside of me to appreciate life, capture my feelings, record the expressions and express gratitude every single day of my life.

  • What do you do to keep positive and live an inspired life?
Actually, it’s a mixup of different things. I look for inspirational books at the library or the book cafe, I listen to old classics which transport me back in time and make me want to relive good memories. It also makes me look back at some sad memories as well but then I realize how far I have come since then and feel hopeful again. On alternate evenings, I keep myself busy in my dance class for an hour or so when nothing else can penetrate into me. I find myself most relaxed then as my entire focus is on my students and everything else ceases to exist. It feels good to indulge in my passion.

  • What do you do when you aren’t blogging?
On most of the weekdays, the schedule is jam-packed with the management of the dance institution, classes, driving around for the toddler’s play school classes, reading and catching up on other creative projects.

Weekends are reserved for dance performances & shows in & around the city, home management, traveling, watching movies and sheer laziness otherwise.

  • What do you do to relax?
Having a toddler doesn't quite give me an opportunity to relax on a couch and sip on green tea but then when the little one naps, I love listening to music, reading books, watching feel-good movies or reruns of old TV shows. 

For my nominations - I nominate the following amazing bloggers for both these awards : 
  1. Vinitha Dileep - Void Thoughts
  2. Nibha Gupta - Expressions!
  3. Mackenzie Glanville - Reflections from Me
And don't forget to answer the following questions from me to you, bloggers (if you choose to accept the award and respond)
  1. On which topic do you enjoy blogging about the most ?
  2. How has blogging helped you in your life - emotionally and socially? 
  3. If you had to shut down your blog tomorrow, what would you write about in the last post ?
  4. When do you enjoy blogging - in the early hours of the day or late hours of the night ? Why ?
  5. Do you have a writing process ?  Why or why not ? 
Please leave a link to your post in the comments section so I can stop by later. 

Yours' truly,
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November 2, 2015

What I wish others knew about me… #FridayReflections #MondayMusings

When we set out to meet a new friend or befriend a random acquaintance on a bus or train, what exactly do we share about ourselves - our interests, our background, our profession and passions ? Ever wonder how different it would be if we could tell these people who we really are. No, I am not talking about sharing our likes and dislikes. But things that matter to us, like who are the kind of people we despise, what are our personal traits - are we short-tempered about silly things, do we have an easy-going attitude when it comes to facing deadlines, our pessimistic approach to life when it comes to certain matters - in short, how different would it be to divulge genuine details about our inner self ? 

I once came across this Japanese proverb somewhere which basically said - 'Everybody has 2 faces - a good one and a hidden one. It’s the hidden face that truly reveals who we really are.'

It was kind of creepy reading into that quote but as I thought more about it, the more sense it seemed to make. Isn't it true ? Don’t we always put up our best faces in front of friends and extended family ? Other than, maybe the people who live with us constantly 24/7, who exactly knows our true self ? You may argue saying that we are as we are even with friends and family, which in that case, is good. But I fail to accept that we are a 100% ourselves when it comes to revealing our personality with friends & family. 

If there is ever a scientific invention in the future of the digital age, where gadgets could reveal our deepest fantasies and darkest secrets, I would like to own the one that helps me understand that hidden face of an individual. Likewise, I would love it if others knew the following facts about me and about my hidden side - 

  • Friendships matter to me, more than my family - Last year, while spring cleaning my apartment in India, I found a nicely wrapped bundle of letters and greeting cards stashed away in one of the old storage boxes. As soon as I laid my hands on it, I began to dig in and read through every letter. The exercise was painful and it welled me up like never before. But in the end, the affirmation was the same as what I had believed all these years. 'Friends are the family you choose.' Each letter was from a dear friend over the initial difficult years when I had moved to India for higher studies from the Middle East and adjusting to the new place was making it all the more impossible to like my life. In the past couple of months, I have come to realize that these are the relationships that go a long way even when you go for a long time without being in actual touch. On the other hand, for me, when family tends to go off touch, they go off touch. 
  • I stay away from self-involved people - During my high school days, there used to be this class-mate of mine who would obsess about how good she was at everything and how things always turned out to be perfect for her. Even though reality was far away from being true, what she said and how she said always stuck with me. I know, it was a childish experience but I learnt a lot from it personally. I just couldn't survive around such people for more than 2 minutes. No matter how hard I tried, the discomfort of being around self-obsessed folks always shows in my body language.
  • My life isn’t a Facebook story - Yes, it's true. Been there and done that. I know of a lot of people who have tried to figure me out with just my Facebook account. And that is frustrating. I use Facebook a fair amount - like to publicize a new location where I am teaching a class or keep my friends informed about an upcoming performance or glimpses of past shows but when people expect me to upload a 100 odd photos of my personal life which has no meaning to why it is being uploaded in the first place, I wonder - 'How does social media help these people?' Back in the late 1990s when the internet made a slow and defining appearance into our household, my mother would crib - 'This computer thing is the worst invention of all time.' I dismissed it like yet another complaint but over the years somehow her statement seems to ring true when it comes to maintaining personal relationships even with those who we care about. I am happy to remain a firm believer of simpler times and everything old-fashioned.  
Tell me, if you could wish for others to know some facts about you, what would it be ? 

**Linking with Friday Reflections and Monday Musings**

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October 21, 2015

My Security Blankets

Why does it feel like something tugs inside me ? Why does it feel like a knot rolling over deep down in my gut ? It makes me want to slouch and curl myself up. It makes the world spin around me. All I want to do is to hide and never face anyone. When I close my eyes, it feels like I am trapped someplace unknown. I am unable to free myself. The thick darkness engulfs me like a moonless night. A feeling of fear creeps in and feeds off my misery, just like a helpless deer giving up itself to a herd of hungry lions. There is a weird pain in my heart. I can almost feel it diminishing the last streak of hope from my mind. 

And then just when I think it can't get any worse, the knot rises from my gut and heads straight for my throat. It turns into a lump and stays there forever, making it hard to breathe, think or see clearly. I strain my eyes to look for help but I find none. The world around me seems new. This sudden rush of sentiments makes me dizzy and all welled up.

From the corner of my eyes, a tiny droplet of water escapes it’s realm to begin its rapid descent. They leave behind an easy trail for the others to follow. I look away in a failed attempt to hide my tears but they give away the emotions trapped inside of me.

I walk around feeling helpless and nowhere to go. But ‘all is not lost’, my mind whispers as I build the courage to speak out my feelings. Only then do I realize - what I had been truly missing, was in fact right in front of me. I pick up my phone and dial the number to the only people I know I can trust no matter what comes.

When the long distance call finally reaches the other end, I take a deep breath to utter the words - “Hi Mom, are you up”? I catch a glance of myself in the mirror in an effort to look brave with cried out eyes and dried up insides. I barely wait for her to answer and then I let the gates unleash the truth. She listens patiently and tells me to calm down. She worries what the stress is doing to me so I relax and focus on her words.

She tells me to gain perspective on what is present and exists right now. She advises me not to worry about the past or the consequences of the future. She comforts me like no other and helps me understand why the situation isn't of any gravity. I finally begin to see clearly and desire to have my mom’s affectionate arms wrapped around me. But that seems impossible considering the physical distance between us. So instead I settle for her wise words and feel grateful to have her in my life.

She shares her experiences and asks me to toughen up. Life is going to throw all kinds of challenges at me; it is up to me to decide which one truly matters. She reinstates my hope for life and asks me to focus on my self-improvement. 

When my dad comes on to the phone, I feel like a small girl all over again telling him the little things pricking my heart. His pep talks inspire me to let go of my anxiety and emerge with a feistier attitude. His insights help me gain perspective and allow me to be myself again.

I can’t believe it! Merely speaking to them changed my whole day and made me feel good about myself.

I tell my parents to not to worry about me. That all the pandemonium in my head had been a result of my over-thinking. They wish me a good night’s sleep and hang up. I end the call feeling determined and positive once again, ready to face my life.

When things get a little rough, I always look for directions and heart-felt guidance to channelize the overwhelming feelings gushing inside me. My parents have been the sole anchor at those points and I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would look like if these pillars were to disappear one day.

Tell me, who is the anchor in your life ? 

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September 25, 2015

99 things I love #FridayReflections #GratitudeCircle

Unlike the times where I have to play a mental tug-of-war with my mind on one side and the words being typed on the other, I could just dive in this week and write out to my heart's content. Because it's a list I love, it's about all the things I love and there can be no end when it comes to picking out our favorites from this lifetime. Incidentally, this list also combines items that I am grateful for.

What I would love, even more than the list, is to find out how many of you amazing people have the same things on your list, if you had to write one now ? 

So what are we waiting for ? Let's share and find out. :)

  1. My birthday (ok! That seemed obvious. :p)
  2. Birthday cake (or any cake in general)
  3. Books, books and books - need I say any more
  4. Reading on my couch with a steaming hot cup of coffee in hand
  5. A comfy couch
  6. Watching the rains while listening to my favorite music
  7. Traveling to exotic places
  8. Food ! 
  9. Writing
  10. The 'Fall' season - how nature changes its colors and makes me 'fall' in love with it :)
  11. Watching the first snow of the season
  12. Shopping for Baby Girl (or myself :D)
  13. Watching romantic movies with LP
  14. A long shower (yes, that is indeed a privilege these days)
  15. Loitering around mindlessly in a book cafe
  16. The smell of new books
  17. Blogging community and all the wonderful friends I made in the past year
  18. Writing letters
  19. Poetry
  20. Dancing 
  21. The performing stage - it's where I want to die when its time 
  22. Going home to see my parents and baby bro
  23. Planning surprises for loved ones
  24. Driving on my own 
  25. Occasional solitude - lets me indulge in my thoughts
  26. My busy routine
  27. My dance studio - it's where I forget the outside world and sometimes even my family :D
  28. My iPhone - even though I hate how the invention has replaced 'almost' everything, I am used to it
  29. Doing nothing from time to time
  30. Chatting away with friends for hours
  31. Watching mom cook
  32. The appreciations after a good performance
  33. Watching my dance institute grow an inch every month
  34. Going away for the weekend
  35. Thanksgiving shopping - when good things are really cheap
  36. Holiday season 
  37. Sightseeing in NY - you never run out of places
  38. Walking around the neighborhoods of NY on a Saturday afternoon
  39. Spending some well-deserved alone time at a coffee shop
  40. Flipping through old photo albums
  41. Watching silly movies with my baby bro 
  42. Balloons
  43. Historical fiction 
  44. Mythology
  45. Indian classical music
  46. Soft toys
  47. My laptop
  48. Early mornings and its eerie silence. For the same reason I love late nights and the solitude it brings.
  49. Going for a long walk
  50. Long drives
  51. A clean home
  52. A cleaner sink :P
  53. The days when I have a lot of reasons to smile about
  54. Sleeping after a really long day
  55. Disney stores - I could keep gazing at the toys and the princess dresses forever
  56. Movies at the theatre with popcorn in my hand
  57. Feeling the cool breeze on a hot summer day
  58. Watching reruns of F. R. I. E. N. D. S.
  59. Creative thinking - irrespective of whether it's for dance, painting or writing
  60. Playing games with close friends
  61. Having a pot-luck dinner topped with hot debates, delicious desserts and late-night movies
  62. Opening gifts
  63. The accolades from childhood
  64. Long walks along the country side lanes in UK
  65. Visiting churches and temples to admire the intricate architecture
  66. Meditating
  67. Acts of kindness
  68. Quiet evenings
  69. Meeting my students every week
  70. New Years' Eve celebrations
  71. Snuggling into bed
  72. Flowers
  73. Chocolates 
  74. Shoes
  75. Reconnecting with school friends
  76. Being silly with my toddler
  77. Cartoon time - makes me reminisce my childhood days
  78. Photo shoots - personal, professional or plain candid
  79. Peeking from my blanket while watching a horror movie (Yeah, I do that a lot.)
  80. Singing in my car with the music on
  81. Planting sloppy kisses all over my kid
  82. Volleyball matches with friends
  83. Bowling
  84. A nice dinner at my favorite restaurant
  85. An empty calendar day
  86. Video chats with my family
  87. Ice cream
  88. Exploring best picks for furniture from IKEA 
  89. Silly dancing along with Baby Girl
  90. My morning free time before the pandemonium begins
  91. Puppies and kittens
  92. Visits to my library
  93. Clouds
  94. A nice hot bowl of soup on cold wintery nights
  95. Sunrise and sunsets (who wouldn't have these on their list)
  96. Vacations
  97. Fridays
  98. Memories
  99. Special moments of life
Go on, it's your turn now. :)

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September 11, 2015

"Is there a letter for me?"

In today’s time and age, everyone seems to be in a constant race with their clocks. Prioritizing activities is highly essential in order to skip the countless other mundane chores staring from our never-ending ‘TO-DO’ lists. ‘Spare time’ seems like a luxury for those who don’t get a second’s space to calm down, breathe and smell the roses.

And it is this ‘rush’ of life that seems to have taken away the charm of doing simple things. Like having a conversation with a friend for hours, looking through photo albums, enjoying a cup of coffee with family or alone and many such pleasures. If you ask me, reaching out to a friend today means a lot of stress. Even though we have countless avenues to contact one another, we still yearn for that personal touch. For this reason, I cherish the memories of a telephone call from a friend, a hand-written letter or a greeting card from a loved one over a long email. 

Technology has given us a zillion options to stay in touch but somehow it always fails to express the emotion of the gesture. When the Blog-A-Rhythm group created the ‘Snail Mail Challenge’ about 3 months ago, wherein you get to send a hand-written letter to a fellow blogger and also receive one from another, I jumped at the opportunity. The catch of the challenge was that every blogger would be assigned at random, the name of the pen-pal, to whom they would write the letter. So I filled in my details, sent it across and waited patiently.

One fine day, when the Godmother’s (aka Shailaja’s) email sprung from my inbox, I knew it was time to bring out the pen and paper. :)

My excitement knew no bounds when I came to know that I get to send a letter to one of my favorite bloggers - Shilpa Garg. So much so that I ended up writing a 5-page letter to her. Not that there was a word or page limit, but once I started writing there was so much I wanted to share. I wrote to her about my recent vacation to Cincinnati, Ohio and the fun things that we got to do with our close friends.

In the end, as a surprise, I thought it would be a good idea to share my identity with her since pen-pal letters are meant to share our deepest feelings. So I sent her a photo of my family and my friends. 

Once I posted the letter off to it’s destination, I couldn't wait to know whose letter would reach me. I regularly checked my mailbox and pestered LP to search through the envelopes in the hope that one would be addressed to me.

A couple of weeks down the line, a private message popped up on Facebook and I knew who sent me the letter. The scanned pages of the letter lay in my inbox waiting to be opened and my first reaction was a confused look. I got so caught up in the expectation of an actual letter that I missed experiencing the joy of actually having received one from my partial namesake (as she calls it :) ) - Inderpreet Kaur from Eloquent Articulation. Turned out that, while providing the address details at the start of the challenge, I had checked the option which said - ‘I am moving and can’t receive a letter’.

So I went back to the letter and learnt how Inderpreet had recently moved cities and in the midst of the pandemonium she had to write to me for the Snail Mail Challenge. Having moved 3 times across 4 states during the initial 2 years of our stay in US, I know how hard it must have been to stick to the deadline. At least in my case, it was just LP and me moving places but with a child the definition of ‘moving’ tends to go out the window.

I got to know a little more about Inderpreet through the letter where she went on to talk about her work, her 6-year-old son, how she would find it interesting to blog under a pseudonym on some occasions and how she loves the art of letter writing but finds it almost dead in the current scenario.

Inderpreet was so sweet to mail the letter to my address even though she had scanned and sent across the content. That indeed was a surprise. I was so happy the day LP handed the envelope to me and said - ‘This one’s for you’. :)

Before ending her letter, I did find an extra page written in letter that wasn't part of the email that she had sent over earlier. It felt heartwarming to read Inderpreet express her feelings about the blogging world and how it has helped her make quicker friends. 

‘THANK YOU’ Inderpreet. We should definitely keep this association going on.

‘THANK YOU’ B-A-R for this wonderful challenge and helping me enjoy the art of letter writing again. The next time, I want to express my feelings with a loved one or a dear friend, I am going to write them a letter. 

Do you love writing letters? Do share, I would love to know :)

**Linking with the Snail-Mail Challenge hosted by Blog-A-Rhythm**

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July 18, 2015

An ideal bedtime routine #FridayReflections


“Bedtime routine? There isn't time to have a routine, per say. All I can ever do is first, get my child to go to sleep and then, you call it a day.” :)

Ask a mother of a 22-month old toddler for her bedtime routine and you think you already know the answer. Right? 

Wrong !

Most moms in my apartment complex (heads up - there are 3 other toddlers on he same floor  as us and of the same age) would swear by the above-stated routine. 

As for me, my day literally starts or (gets even busier) once the baby is down. And that doesn't involve any of my personal ‘want-to-do’ items. Well not all of them.

For one, the dirty dishes need to be sorted out so that the household can face the next day pandemonium with a fresh mind (and a clean kitchen sink). After that, it’s the turn of the living room and dining area. The strewn toys get picked up and stashed in the toy box, the chairs need to be stationed back in place and oh, how can I forget the mail envelopes that need to be cleared up from the million places where they always end up being rather than the super-comfortable and well-organized wall pockets. *Take a hint atleast now, my dear hubby* :P

And then the favorite part of my bedtime routine. Once everything is back in place, it’s time to read or maybe write or even explore creative options for my dance school. While I ensure none of these activities run past midnight, there are those ‘days’ when creativity just holds on to you at the weirdest hour and it’s hard to break the continuity.

And while we are still talking about routines, my toddler also decides to go off-track on some days because kids, apparently, like having spontaneity in their schedule. So just when it seems like they have retired for the night, they may surprise you by waking up after a short nightly nap to emerge fresher and much more active than during day times. 

So the one thing I would like to change in my bedtime routine is to move all those ‘want-to-do’ items over to the early hours of the day. So as to be able to drop dead asleep at night. So as to wake up ‘early’ and consistently too.

But until then, I’ll just put my baby to sleep, battle the drooping eyelids and tip toe to the next room to read or write or… zzzz :)

Tell me, what's your bedtime routine like ? Is there anything you would / wouldn't change about it ? 

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July 10, 2015

10 things to feel grateful for... #FridayReflections

Central Park, New York
1. Thanks to the fluctuating levels of mercury and humidity this week, things have been pretty rough health wise. The toddler in the house decided it was time to pass on her flu and which better candidate than her own mother? My sore throat and runny nose were enough to send the dear hubby off to cook the meal of the day and wash the dishes before he left for work yesterday morning.

For that (and for a million other reasons), I am grateful to him and happy to be relieved of the everyday chores even if it's just for a day. 

2. When nothing seemed to help my aching throat and irritated nose, a nice hot cup of chocolate at the mall, did a great job to soothe and calm the illness. Sure, it may not be the recommended cure for a bad cold. Nevertheless it definitely cheered me up both health and mood wise. 

Grateful to have finally achieved some ‘me' time while Baby Girl ran through the mall with the hubby close behind.

3. Time and distance change any relationship. For this reason, I believe in long-lasting friendships that stand the test of time for years and years to come. Many a time, certain people who started off by being a mere acquaintance at college or work turned into one of my closest friends in life.

Likewise, I've also learnt how one fine day, a good friend could suddenly decide to call it quits, cease all communication and transform into just another acquaintance. I am grateful to those friends of mine who, in spite of being miles apart, always treasured the friendship more and remained the way they are. You are living proof to the fact that no matter what, things never change between true friends.

4. I must admit that once every few weeks I seem to be swamped with whatever life throws at me. This puts me off blogging and writing in general. However when I return to my blog after a dormant phase, there are pleasant surprises waiting for me. Goes to show how kind and generous my readers are. 

Earlier this year, during the A-Z April blogging challenge, my Facebook page reached a very important milestone of crossing 100 likes. After 4 years of blogging, this definitely looked like a huge deal for me. But the next 100 appeared rather quickly. This week, in just about three months since the last milestone, the page exceeded 200 likes. 

I am grateful to my readers who visited my blog irrespective of my long absence.

5. I am sure all of us have heard this before - 'Parenting is tough’. Maybe as a word of advice from our own parents or as a random rambling from a dear friend. But the actual truth is that it doesn’t get said enough. Whatever knowledge is shared between friends or family is of great help. Reality is when you finally get to experience it. 

You can plan and plan and plan some more but eventually babies (or toddlers) more often than not, prefer to have a schedule of their own for everything.  If you think they adapt well to a routine, don’t be surprised if they decide to stay off it for no apparent reason. 

Thanks to the parenting experiences this week, I have a new found respect for my parents, who single-handedly brought up 2 children, in a far-off land away from family, or any other source of help, whilst perfectly juggling between work and home. Seriously, how did you do it without going insane ? And without social media ? :P

6. Earlier this week, I chanced upon a family photograph at home. I miss those times when photographs ruled our world. Holding onto a memory in your hands, traveling back in time to remember the moment, looking at the happiness cast on faces of the entire family - every time a fresh breath of nostalgia. It reminds me of a simpler time and almost instantly a feeling of appreciation gushes through my heart. Today, although I am happy being able to click pictures at my will from the ease of my phone, I am grateful to have been born in a simpler time when photographs meant more than just a click. They conveyed untold stories and captured memories like never before. 

I almost feel bad for my Baby Girl, who by the time she grows up, will end up using more advanced ways of photography.

7. When it comes to adapting to new places, I must say I fare well. After the initial glitches of any new place, I clear my head and vision to focus on the good aspects. Visiting Manhattan in New York for the first time wasn’t the best trip in 2011 . I didn’t get to do much sightseeing, I hated the hustle-bustle and the crowds of the city. 

The second trip to New York came a few months later again in 2011 during the Christmas holidays. I still didn’t like the place as much as I thought I would but that didn’t stop me from appreciating that Christmas is indeed a great time to be in the city. 

Now it’s been over 2 years living near the ‘city that never sleeps’ and it amazes me. I love how there is never a dearth for places to visit. True, natural beauty is something you won’t find as easily in the concrete jungle. Even so, finding something closer is far better. :) Last week we had friends over in the city and we had an amazing time whether it was admiring the New York skyline from over the Waterfront at New Jersey, taking the ferry ride over river Hudson to New York, visiting the beautiful St. John's Cathedral, strolling through Central Park or walking at night over the Brooklyn bridge. 

I am grateful to witness new sights and places in New York during every trip.

St. John's Cathedral, New York
8. Two years ago, my health wasn’t in the best of spirits. Even after the delivery of Baby Girl I still continued with a lot of my unhealthy eating habits which made it difficult to lose the extra flab. Thanks to constant inputs from hubby dear and a lot (when I say 'a lot’, it actually means a whopping 'lot'!!!) of research, I decided to straighten up my eating habits and stick to them. While there is still room for further improvement of my diet and while I still encourage my sweet tooth cravings from time to time, there aren’t any extra chocolates stocked up in the fridge or cookies stashed in the cabinets any more. The result - I feel good, I feel healthy and some people tell me I look good too :P

Just this week, I received compliments from my friends making me feel grateful to understand the importance of healthy eating and making better decisions to improve my lifestyle.

9. Even though I didn’t enjoy a good night’s sleep last night, I was up at 5 AM today thinking of how to productively spend my time till the toddler is up. Found time to read, enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee and blog at ease without any interruptions. 

I am grateful to enjoy the solitude of the early morning and doing what I like - writing. 

10. Last but not the least, I am grateful to Friday Reflections (not just this week but every week) for giving me that extra nudge from behind to take notice, sit up straight, reflect on the past week, write my thoughts and share it with the world.

So what’s on your gratitude list for this week ? I would love to know.

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June 20, 2015

Aim for the sky always... #FridayReflections

It’s funny how the possibility of a new venture or the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, sends us into a frenzy. The simplest doubt crops up in our minds and we get bogged down with the same old predictable questions. 

Will I succeed ? Will I make it to my destination without getting disappointed ? What if things don't go as planned ? 

What if I fail ?

Even before we get a feel of the journey, let alone success, we fear the worst and finally step back. For once why can't we relax our minds, stop brainstorming on the possible negative outcomes of a situation, and focus on our aspirations ? And it doesn't even have to be revolving our work related apprehensions alone. Even in relationships we find ourselves confused with the same worries.

I am no different from the others when it comes to fearing about failure. But I also know what I would attempt to do if I was guaranteed never to fail.

1. Be more friendly

Thanks to life experiences, when it comes to friendships or building new relationships, there always a realm of caution in my mind. Because let’s face it. People let us down. Sometimes it’s the people who matter the most to us, on the other occasions it’s the unexpected ones who turn out to be the smarter lot. 

If I knew I wouldn't get hurt or be let down by others in return, I could get to be myself. I wouldn't have to worry about others hating me or turning me down.

2. Be more courageous

So that I could take more risks. To dream bigger. To perform difficult feats like sky-diving. Or bungee-jumping. Take every day as it comes. Literally.

3. Be more imaginative

Many a times, our lives are controlled by our own shortcomings. Financial support, incomplete or inadequate education, mortgages on everything in life - home, a world tour, even basic living expenses.

If only, I could erase all my worries by a single stroke of a wand to actually imagine my life devoid of any limitations. To perceive the life that I want, that I wish to live. If only…

But what we truly need to acknowledge here is that failure isn't bad. Maybe it’s the best way for the Universe to tell us that it was not meant to be the first time. That something larger is in store with better results. That we needed to fail in order to emerge victorious the next time.

That life is all about “second chances”. That, no matter how hard you fall down this time, you always aim for the sky :)

Tell me, what would your aspirations or goals be if you knew that you could never fail ? 

Reflections From Me

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May 6, 2015

A to Z Reflections 2015 #AtoZChallenge

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”
- Meg Rosoff

And that was my motto for the A to Z April Challenge 2015 which ended last week. It’s funny how even though the challenge has ended I find myself in a rhythm of going over everyone’s blogs, reading old or new posts and constantly updating my blog calendar.

Since the past couple of months I have been in a sort of unexplained frenzy. A first timer in this challenge, like everyone else, my initial thoughts were apprehensive. In my head, surviving a month long blogging challenge seemed like an impossible task (only for me) considering how I am constantly drawn in multiple directions all through the day.

And I was indeed wrong. 

Last month, I discovered new capabilities in myself. I learnt new lessons and most of all, I enjoyed writing. 

Lesson 1 - I loved the concept of having a theme because it paved my thoughts in a specific direction. 

Lesson 2 - You don’t need much time to publish a post as long as you are focused on the letter of the day.

Lesson 3 - Blogging is as much as easy as any other day-to-day task. A routine is what helps set it in motion.

Although I was prepared with a theme and roughly 13-15 auto-scheduled posts,  it was the second half of the month which seemed the hardest. Thanks to the weather bug, the entire household came down feeling sick and that slumped my writing or rather my strength to keep up. Nevertheless, I have been better than most other challenges.

As the above quote suggests, writing for this challenge helped bring out few heart-felt emotions on the paper. While the most part of my writing looked like pieces of fiction, I did write about real-life experiences to see how my readers would react given the same situation.

I also dabbled with different forms of writing during the month ranging from different kinds of poetry to 100-word drabbles to open letters to lists and eventually matters close to my heart. I kept it like a month long initiative by blogging for Friday Reflections which again kept me thinking and reflecting on the past days. It has been a fun experience and most of all it opened the world to an amazing community of bloggers and blogs likewise - as always.

Can I end this post without thanking the wonderful bloggers who took the time to come visit my space and leave their thoughts everyday. I think not. :)

While I may enlist only a few bloggers here (in no particular order) right now, I am deeply grateful to all those who visited. You made my day everyday last month and in turn showed me how I can never run out of reading good inspirational blog posts each day of my life. :) Thank You !
  1. The Moving Quill by Shailaja V
  2. Shanaya Tales by Shantala Nayak
  3. Living my Imperfect Life by Sanch Vee
  4. Everyday Gyaan by Corinne Rodrigues
  5. A Rose is a Rose is a Rose by Shilpa Garg
  6. Blog-A-Rhythm by Shailaja V and many other talented bloggers from the sphere
  7. A Tale of Two Tomatoes by Shalini Nair
  8. Life Under Microscope by Prasanna Rao
  9. Happiness and Food by Parul Kashyap Thakur
  10. Blogging from A to Z Challenge (where it all began ! :))
  11. Expressions by Nibha Gupta
  12. Void Thoughts by Vinitha Dileep
  13. Xpress your Essence by Elly Stornebrink
  14. Alphabet Salad by Laurel Regan
  15. Flightless Birds Thoughtful Wings by Swathi Shenoy
  16. A Global Fusionista by Eli Ertresvaag
  17. Write with Fey by Chrys Fey
I definitely see myself returning for this challenge next year and until then, till we meet again… :)

“My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
- John Lennon
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