Thank you dear ‘October’, Thank you for giving me the nudge that I needed!

Thank you dear ‘October’, Thank you for giving me the nudge that I needed!

Like the night jasmine flower
Beautiful, fragrant and graceful
Like the night jasmine flower
Her time was limited
The earth yearned for more
But she was ready to go.

The most beautiful artistic expressions can rekindle, inspire and awaken dormant creative energy. And in my case, the movie ‘October’ was the nudge I needed to rekindle my blog after 2 years!

An abundance of emotion, expressed effortlessly, with control.
An abundance of love, through turmoil and sadness.
An abundance of patience and hope, during times of utmost uncertainty.

October is one of the most heart wrenching movies I have seen in a long time. This is a movie filled with stillness, space, silence, and support, and truly embodies the phrase ‘Stillness speaks’. There are many people in this world who will give you unsolicited advice (something I dislike with a passion), but how many people really support you during turbulent times? When this support comes unconditionally and unexpectedly, it fills you with so much hope, there is no turning back. There are always angels out there! And God exists within us and through us.

While October is quite a tear-jerker, it also fills you with immense hope, if you decide to focus on it 😊 It reminds you that ‘All you have is the present moment, so live it to the fullest’. And that doesn’t mean, no tears, no turmoil, or no frustration. Live through these moments, knowing fully well that life is impermanent. The best we can do is the best in every given moment. Moments of despair can teach you lessons that nothing else can, if you decide to make them lessons.

I’m not providing a  full synopsis of the movie, there are many out there! But I will give a shout out to every single actor in this movie, for displaying such intense emotion with extreme control, effortlessly. Having spent a lot of time in the ICU, and Indian hospitals, a lot of scenes resonated with me completely. This movie depicts reality. The background score is interwoven with the story perfectly. The filmmaker has also blended elements of nature into the movie seamlessly. This movie is slow paced (and I’m not a fan of slow paced movies), but with good reason. Healing takes time, care, support and patience. And the movie reflects patience in hope.
Go watch October, even if you don’t understand hindi ! It won’t disappoint ! Many of the most beautiful expressions in this movie are conveyed with the eyes! And of course there are always subtitles 😊

A great writer once said, “If you die, it is glory, if you live, it is grace”.

365 days. All that is left is a scar. A scar of phenomenal growth.

365 days since dad’s demise. And 768 days since mom’s demise. In vedic literature it is said that the soul takes a whole year to make its journey to its destination, which could be Rebirth or Moksha –  complete liberation from the cycle of birth. What happens after death, is a question that cannot be answered factually by any human being. Varying forms of belief and faith exist. I believe that their souls are at peace, watching over me as I fall and blossom. I also believe that they both passed away for a reason. So I could reach a higher level of self-realization and consciousness, which may have not happened as quickly otherwise. Complete acceptance. When something has such a profound meaning in your life, how can you not accept it? They had fulfilled their physical purpose on earth and were ready to fulfill their even bigger purpose in spirit. I was the apple of their eye. If they could have anything to do with the biggest spiritual growth spurt of my life, ‘hell ya’ they said 🙂

Yoga and meditation could not have allowed me to get to where I am today as quickly, without death surrounding me. Death has in fact brought out the best within me. That’s why I talk about it so much. It is the most transformational mind, body, spirit experience of my life. Life is very simple. I have this moment, and I will live it to the fullest, in a way most meaningful to me. To not have expectations from people (ofcourse, my beloved Sam is excluded from this:)), let go and be as fully present as possible in every moment is a wonderful feeling. I have been there for people because I wanted to and because my heart was in it, and not because I ever expected anything in return.  However, I did have expectations when shit hit my roof 🙂  I used to be way more self critical than I am today and have also had a very high bar for relationships in general. All that has changed, freeing my soul up even more, giving me additional space to do what I love to do as best as I can and change the world with it.

To me, detachment does not mean ‘not getting attached’. It is the ability to attach so deeply, and yet let go. It is the ability to feel so much emotion, but yet let go quickly. The emotions  may include laughter, smiles, regret, tears, and even anger. But can you observe and let them all go, and eventually be left with nothing but a smile from the soul, a peaceful smile acknowledging that everything is the way it is meant to be, right here, right now.  Being the most empathetic person you can be and practicing detachment is a thing of beauty. And I have been trying to figure that out my whole life. Sounds simple, but for me, it was a longish journey .

The wound has healed, and all that is left is a scar, and this particular one is rather beautiful to me. The scar of phenomenal growth. Thank you amma and appa for leaving the most beautiful scar of my life. You made your death as meaningful as your life.
I’m sure life has more scars in store for me, but at the end of the day, I surrender, surrender to the universe with great joy, peace and acceptance.

Ask, don’t assume.

There is definitely an upside and downside to being an extrovert or an introvert. And both these dualities exist within each of us. Most of us naturally gravitate towards one more than the other. Achieving that perfect balance of extroversion and introversion, and applying these dualities as the situation demands would be my utopia.  I strive to be like water,  an element that has achieved this balance and is as perfect as it can be in every moment. Of course, this is my perception of water 🙂 Going on a complete tangent, I wonder what would happen if we start using the word ‘perception’ instead of ‘opinion’. For some reason, I perceive the word, perception, to be more open minded 🙂 🙂 🙂

As someone who is more extroverted than introverted in nature, expressing my thoughts around death and grief was not a difficult task. My introverted energy was directly channeled into my canvas, where I could paint my inner world. However, the expressive side of me struggled.  When I met people, I wanted to share memories and thoughts, accompanied by smiles and tears. I also wanted to talk about the wonderful wine and the tasty food I was eating. I wanted to express and distract myself in a balanced manner.  But what I realized is that not everyone is ready to deal with the raw sadness in these conversations. There were people who didn’t ask me what I was feeling and what I was going through, because they thought that would be uncomfortable for me. The intentions  are golden, but how they land in the heart of the griever ends up being different. And no matter how well you know someone, you don’t know what their response to death and grief will be.  Grief is extremely individualistic, and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. If I was more of an introvert, I would have probably curled up into a shell and not wanted anyone to broach my feelings, my grief, my memories. People asking me questions and trying to engage in conversations around my feelings might have been intrusive to me. Empathy becomes extra tricky with grief, because you might want something completely different than the person you are dealing with, even if you are in his or her shoes.

There is a phrase ‘Move on’. In order to move on, I believe expression is as important as distraction. Talking about the past, memories, and what you miss,  does not indicate that you are not moving on. It can be thought of as a gateway to acceptance.  In order to truly accept the death of my parents, I had to let my heart hurt. The heart chakra holds grief, and it is impossible for the blockages in the heart chakra to get released, without expression. Without the heart hurting, the mind acts like it is just fine, but the mind is not in complete acceptance. It is a functioning cannon, but a loose one.  When the heart has let it all out, and comes to a place of peace, the mind becomes alert, focused and the best it can possibly be. The mind and the heart are equally beautiful and work in tandem to express an immortal soul.

There are angels and I feel blessed. I have no words to express my gratefulness towards the universe. But I will miss them, till the day I die. The way I miss them will evolve, but I will always miss them, and as an extrovert, I will keep them alive, through my various forms of expression.

So my one piece of insight to the world at large – Ask, don’t assume. Ask them what they need. Ask grievers if they want to be left alone. Ask them if they want to share memories. Ask them how you can be there for them, because you care deeply about them. Ask, if you have the bandwidth to respond to their needs. Be as kind, loving, compassionate and gentle as possible.

 

 

 

Roots

How does one get from point A to point B?  Without point A, point B might not exist at all. I believe that reflecting on one’s roots and foundations, figuring out why and how you arrived at point B, and accepting and addressing flaws along the way, are crucial for personal growth and evolution.

My roots are my parents. So strongly grounded into the earth, unfettered by a storm. My roots allowed me to grow in many different directions but always made sure that I felt supported. I have never tried to ‘fit in’, because my branches had their own terms, respectful of trees around, but always spreading out in unexpected ways.

In some ways my parents were my ‘handlers’, just like handlers in the CIA! And god oh god, did they know how to handle me. As I did, them, in their later years 😉  The beauty of my upbringing is that my parents understood my strengths and weaknesses, and pushed and pulled in exactly the right amounts in my foundational years. I always had a mind of my own, and they understood this well. They did their best to nurture this quality of mine in the most positive ways possible. They always gave me the opportunity to try new things. Even my fad of studying at a boarding school in third grade, when I was enamored by Malory Towers and St.Claires, books by Enid Blyton 🙂  Mom and dad allowed me to experience, learn and let go as I deemed fit, for the most part. I have made my share of mistakes and learned from them. Change, and learning from change has always been easy for me. However, accepting the unchangeable, and understanding the difference between what I can and cannot change has always been a challenge.

Diversity is the spice of my life and this is precisely why I love my life now. I am writing one minute, creating art the next, teaching yoga a few hours later, planning our next travel adventure and then cooking dinner!  And fortunately I have the ability to do each one of these things for the love of the process, and not for money.  Once you start being present and mindful in every process, you start living a meditative life. Even when I am not spending time on a focused meditation, I am infact in mindfulness meditation mode. This is indeed the universe’s gift to me.  But it took me a long time to realize that this gift had been mine to accept for a long time. The mental journey to take money out of my personal purpose equation took approximately 8 long years.

I have heard people saying to me, ‘oh good you are so busy’ lately 🙂  I have always been occupied and busy even through some very deep dark days,  but I think what people’s perceptions are indicating to me is that people identify ‘being busy’ with structure.
For the last few years as an entrepreneur, artist, or while supporting my parents through thick and thin, I had to keep changing modes, requiring a high degree of adaptability, flexibility and pliability. Now I am teaching yoga classes that have a time slot attached to them. I schedule the rest of my day based on the classes I have to teach.
Little did I realize that the unstructured time, when I was trying to shift hats constantly was indeed a very important part of my journey. The biggest purpose in my life was to spend as much time as possible with ‘my roots’ between the years 2014 and 2016 and the universe guided me perfectly to fulfill it.

There is great beauty in stillness. In just being. In just breathing. And sometimes we transform ourselves in this stillness. I have had a hard time with stillness for the most part of my life, but I think I have finally discovered that still space that I can sink into with comfort. Stillness has helped me in the process of accepting the unchangeable, and finding peace with it. Keeping oneself busy is not hard, but finding something purposeful, meaningful and meditative, and living your life in mindfulness can be 🙂

PS: Yogi friends…… Stay strong and grounded on your right leg, lengthen your torso, and ensure that the left knee is aligned with the right,  as you spread the branches of your tree ; )

My journey from Skinny to Chubby to Slim :)

If you want a peek into someone’s heart, you need to be able to give them a glimpse of yours.  I keep talking about vulnerability, and decided to share a piece of me that not everybody knows about.

I was a skinny girl till I got to 5th grade. As a child, I struggled with wheezing, and refrained from eating chocolates and icecream. All this changed in Abudhabi when I was about 10 years old. Decadent goodies were available in plenty, and I had finally outgrown my wheezing! So there you go, I was literally a kid in a candy store. And ofcourse, mom being an excellent cook did not help 🙂

I went from skinny to a chubby pimply faced middle schooler in the Middle East. Truth be told, I still don’t like those photos on display! Mom ensured I was active, but given I was not obese, there was never a major push for me to lose the extra pounds until I got older. I probably weighed about 120-125lbs through high school. And to give you some context I am only about 5.1 in height! During my second year in college I think I hit nearly 130. And at that point, my mom believed that the time had come for a serious intervention. Will power has always been my strong suit! Once I decide to put my heart and soul into something, it gets 150% of me.

Mom promised me a new wardrobe, and in Dec 2000 I got one! Just 3 months of swimming and a hardcore regimen on fruits and veggies got me to 100lb. Nothing else mattered. Seeing mountains of goodies never made me falter.

Since then I have never been overweight. I put on a few pounds and lose a few pounds. It varies just like everything else in life. When I was hospitalized with asthma in 2015 February, I touched 89 pounds. I’m one of the exceptions to the steroid rule. It increased my metabolism, and made me lose weight!

These days, I don’t focus on a number on the scale, I focus on being as strong and flexible as possible, just like water. I listen to my body. It tells me what it wants. Like now, it’s the holidays, and I’m eating a few more baked goods than I probably should! It was funny when I heard my friend’s mother say to me on Christmas day – you are not all skin and bones now , u look so much prettier:)  Lol, I was thinking to myself, I might be getting a little too pretty, time to hunker down and get back to some rigorous working out and laying off the baked goodies , come January 2017 🙂

PS: I have a very interesting relationship with my arms. I’m not in love with them. I think they are disproportionate to the rest of my body. But I have finally learned to love them!! And oh yeah, I’m a total celebrity style arm poser 🙂

DEATH AND REBIRTH

For me, one of the purposes of this blog is to open up others to the world of vulnerability, by expressing my own. In the past year, I have brought up death in person, in the form of pictures, in my writing. In every form of expression. And the reason being, the way I look at my existence on this planet has changed since my near death experience and the death of my parents. Death has transformed me in unbelievably positive ways. While the physical form is gone, their spirits are still here. Talking about them and cherishing memories, makes them come alive for me. It brings out those heartfelt smiles and tears. In my case death has instigated a rebirth of sorts. Or rather, what was residing way deep inside of me has just blossomed, and to me, that mirrors a rebirth.

I have found that people don’t know how to react and respond to death. Everyone deals with death and grief extremely differently. I have observed that people are vary of bringing it up, because of awkwardness, uneasiness, and so forth. But it is an integral undeniable part of life.  The circle of life. I have often told my friends that colleges need to incorporate a class called ‘Grief 101’ into the mix.

The expression of vulnerability increases empathy in others. Sometimes it is hard to empathize when you believe that you can’t relate to a situation at all. So I’m telling my story, hoping that it will awaken that empathy in someone, somewhere. In my world, empathy is crucial. And I can only be the change I wish to see  🙂

February 25, 2016

The eve of my first birthday without mom and dad. I stand by the coffee maker, looking at my phone. I slowly start receiving birthday wishes from India and elsewhere. But the one phone call and message I desperately want will not come.  Tears trickling down. No matter what I told myself on that particular evening, I felt lost. What am I doing here? They are both gone. It feels empty. I want that phone call.

February 26, 2016

When I look back at how I spent a birthday one month after my dad’s demise, now, I am proud of myself. But back then, I didn’t feel that way. All I knew is they would not want me to cry on my birthday and would change anything possible to stop my tears. So I honored what I knew for a fact.

I made my own bar hopping plan with Sam. All dressed up, eating and drinking along the way. I will come clean and say – I really wish someone in Seattle had asked if they could see me. Meet me. Celebrate me. Not an expectation, but definitely a wish. I remember telling Sam, I know I have people who consider me to be family in this city. And I received lovely calls and messages. In retrospective, maybe I should have said – will you come celebrate with me? But if I think further, maybe I was afraid to hear ‘ No, so sorry can’t make it happen today’, because I was not emotionally equipped to deal with that response on that given day. I would have probably started missing mom and dad more, and best friends who are scattered around the world, and started crying. It was because of where I was in that given moment. I was grieving. I was definitely dealing with grief in the best possible way at that moment in time, but grief just ain’t easy baby. All one can do is be one’s best in a given moment. And one’s best changes from day to day.

When I look back now, it all makes sense to me. For the heart to expand, it need to be broken. Heartache is a big part of my transformation.

July 22, 2016

The day after mom’s birthday. The day after I had just edited redesigned and published her beautiful words as an ebook. I was taking off on a trip to Dallas.

I step into the bathroom, ready to take a shower. I touch the sliding glass door of the shower cubicle to close it and the entire glass door shatters into a million pieces with me standing butt naked inside of it. And just one cut. A cut on my right knuckle. That’s it. Nothing else. My reaction had been in nano seconds. Curling up into a position that helped me protect myself, I had escaped a number of possibilities. To me it felt like a miracle. A human being’s instinct to survive is extremely strong. When I broke my back a couple of years ago, I was lucky that I was not paralyzed, but then again, it didn’t hit me with quite the same intensity this did. And maybe it was because I had also been through the experience of my mom’s unexpected demise and dad’s demise. Yes, death surrounded me in different ways so I could be reborn again ! Maybe for mom and dad’s purpose in life to be fully completed, they had to leave me. For me to come to a higher level of self realization and consciousness, they had to leave their physical forms and exist only in spirit.

I made it to Dallas in one piece. And that day changed my life forever. The universe was telling me the same thing in many different ways  –

All you have is this second. Be your best in this moment. Spread your love, peace, harmony and kindness. There is no room for anger, hurt and resentment. If you feel it, observe it and let it go, and let the next second unfold in a way unimaginable to you. The whole world is beautiful, and nobody is perfect.

MERRY CHRISTMAS PEEPS !!

 

Grief over election results, akin to Grief over death, for many…..

I have experienced grief over the death of my parents, but yesterday I felt like several human beings were feeling the same type of grief over the election results. So when some people were saying ‘Move on’ to others, I could see why it was taking time for people to move on. You don’t get over death in a day, and to many people it felt like the death of a nation yesterday. It’s time to EMPATHIZE folks, no matter where you stand. Whether you are one who moves on fast, or takes your time to heal, there is no right or wrong way to get over grief. You can’t restrict what you feel. Instead I invite you to observe your thoughts and emotions, and let go of them. Like puffs of cloud in the sky, rarely do they linger for too long……

It is nearly impossible for me to ‘feel good’ about a president elect whom I perceive to be disrespectful to women, homosexuals, and the list continues…..
I’m working hard to empathize with a variety of views, and stay open and non judgmental.

Unity is strength, and if we want any kind of peace and harmony, we have to rise above hatred. Hope and love are supreme ways to trump hate, and it is imperative for us to believe that whatever happens, happens for the best.

The United States of America is home to me, and I’m definitely not leaving this country because DT is president! This nation has a lot going for it. Let’s hope, pray, meditate and work towards making it better.