Category: Uncategorized

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.

What a man! He would have been 73 today…

7:00pm  Thursday, January 14, 2016
Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai, India.

Don’t go pa, don’t leave me and go.  His organs were beginning to fail. Lying in the transplant ICU bed, he looked into my eyes as I looked into his, and said, without words, “I’m struggling and suffering. I want to go. Let me go”.  I’m thinking to myself with tears in my eyes…I know you need to go and it is tearing me into a million pieces. I thought you would hang around longer for me. It has only been a year since amma left us. But I will let you go and I know for a fact that mom will take the best care of you up there.

If he was articulating his pain and discomfort, it meant that it was pretty intense.  With an extremely high pain tolerance, he was an extremely easy patient in some ways and a very difficult one in others.  A fair skinned, petite, open minded, honest, straightforward, meticulous, generous, short tempered man , he had streaks of OCD with respect to cleanliness:)  Dad would get angry in an instant, but would also get over it, apologize and move forward the very next moment. He was a true firecracker:)

I came out of the ICU crying. I had to. I know I had to let him go. Another best friend. The man who gave me astute pieces of advice that would indeed determine the rest of my life in many ways.

“Marry anybody you want to, be it an African American, or a white guy. But I have 3 conditions, he needs to be a good human being with the same values as you, needs to be well educated, and have the ability to take care of you as well as I have, or better”

He said this to me when I was 17 years old, ready to embark, on a journey, in a country that I had never set my foot on. Those words were like the holy grail to me, and choosing the right life partner is one of the most important decisions I have ever made in my life.  I still remember my mom saying, “Why can’t she find an Indian? What kind of advice are you giving our 17 year old daughter when she is leaving for college ?!!!”
But dad trusted me implicitly. He trusted my ability to make the right decisions in life. He had equipped me with everything he could, in order for me to go out into the world and shine.

The words he uttered the first time we met Sam’s (my husband) folks still keep ringing in my head. “Let’s conduct the wedding of our children, like we are all part of  the HUMAN RELIGION”. This is in fact the religion I believe in today . THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. The universal religion of love, kindness, compassion, honesty, integrity, respect, harmony and peace.

I would have to live without him. I had seen him the last 2 months, and while I saw glimpses of the man I knew, I was seeing sides of him that were difficult for me to see.

4:30pm Saturday January 16, 2016

DNR signed. Dr.Bala, the man who has conducted the most number of heart transplants in Asia, wraps his arm around my shoulders and says, “I know how you feel. I was in my 30s when I lost my parents”. Dad is unconscious and it is a matter of hours before he will be gone. A part of the transplant ICU was converted into a private space so his loved ones could bid him goodbye.

Tears trickle down my face. Dad was my warrior, my fighter and it was my turn to be his.  If I didn’t have his fight for life, I would be nothing. His fight is one that I admire more than anything in this world. He survived 1 heart attack, 3 invasive heart procedures, and a few heart failures among other things in his life of 72 years. Every time he recovered from a heart procedure, his words were “My engine just got rebooted! It is going to be better than ever”.

His personal evolution from the day he was born to his last day on earth is the most remarkable one I have encountered and been so closely involved in. His idealism and his unrealistic optimism put him in various precarious situations, but yet all he did was strive to overcome as much as possible. But on that day, he was telling me in not so many words that Mom was calling him from wherever she was. And he wanted to go be with her. He had an inherently optimistic view of the world, and the concept of destiny was engrained in his brain.  He was the most hardworking human being that I had ever met, and was constantly ready to sacrifice his needs and wants for mom and myself.

7:30pm Chennai, India

A flat line. I knew it was coming and it came. He was gone. He would now be with his favorite person in the whole wide world. His Rajimma. The End of an Era. The end of my life as I knew it. I’d have to start a new chapter, which was going to be extremely different than all previous ones, because this time around,  the people who gave me life were not going to be part of it. But guess what, Kichami and Raji had raised a survivor.