Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello Monday + Winner of the Birthday GIVEAWAY!

Good Morning Monday & Hello New Week!

It’s a brand new week, the end of a month, the beginning of summer and the day after my Birthday. I had a fun day yesterday.

I opened a handmade card (that my husband drew for me) at the stroke of twelve; woke up to a platter of gifts, something my mother (yup, she came all the way from another city to wish me on my day) sets up for me on every birthday; wished over a birthday candle set atop a scrumptious chocolate brownie cake with vanilla butter frosting. 

My mother and I cooked a mean Shepherd’s Pie for lunch (yup, the expected chicken + potato combo), and later all of us trooped out to Sula Vineyards for a special birthday dinner.

And while I’m talking about my birthday, let me issue a bloggy apology (for all those of you who called and got a call back from me later in the evening) . Let me write about it here, the equivalent of shouting it out from the top of the roof. Let me smile sheepishly and tell you why I couldn’t take your calls pronto, and why I was that-girl-who-takes-ages-to-finally-press-the-green-button and say “Hello! Thank you for your Birthday wishes!”

Every time I had a call coming, I was either feeding Mr. Little Person aka Baby N (and those of you who know me, know that this is one of the few times when multitasking is the furthest thing from my mind), driving or totally unaware of my phone ringing because the poor chap (I mean Mr. Red not Mr. Little Person) was burrowed beneath layers of debris inside my bag.

So anyway, it was a HAPPY Birthday in every way. A patchwork quilt of small joys and big moments.

Now we come to the fun part. The name of the winner of my First Giveaway, my Birthday GIVEAWAY. I wrote up your names on chits, folded them like ironed handkerchiefs, threw them in a bowl and let Baby N ‘grab’ the winner.

Pallavi Iyer – Congratulations!!! My favorite book 'Me before You' by Jojo Moyes (and I hope it becomes one of your favs soon too) will make its way to your bedside table (or wherever it is that you keep books) this week. Message me your postal address and number via the Facebook page or through the comment form, and I’ll have it delivered at your doorstep.

Thank you all for taking part in the Giveaway.

Have a good week!

Friday, March 28, 2014

5 Little Celebrations & Rituals fit for a Birthday Star!

Birthday doodle - capturing the magic of childhood birthdays - chandana banerjee

As children, everything we do is touched with magic and excitement. But each year takes away a little of that star dust, a layer of that undiluted joy, a lot of our ability to seek gold in the mundane. 

These days, I hardly notice my Birthday approaching, or even feel that bubble of excitement from my childhood, when I finally wake up to March 30. And honestly? I miss that fervor, that enthusiasm, that unbridled happiness at being able to celebrate the little things, the simple moments that make up the fabric of our lives.

Here are glimpses into some of my favorite birthday memories – simple stuff that added silver magic dust to my day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When Sunshine eludes you...

I had planned to write a perky post. But today has turned out to be one of those days, when you feel weighed down by the little things, the sharp edges that life throws at you every now and then. Or rather, when you finally get tired of using humor and patience to work around these situations. And one day, let these things get under your skin. A bunch of small things that make you mighty uncomfortable like gravel in your sneaker, a fleck of dust in your eye.

We’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past several months (the life of a military wife!). Months that have added up to more than a year, and that’ll soon add up to two long years. We have no news on when we'll finally go back 'home'. For now, we're here for good.

And while our house, large and sprawling, is laid out to perfection in another part of the country, we’ve been living in a single-room transit place (called ‘Mess’ in military parlance and for all the right reasons!), shared with another fellow officer (till recently), out of two suitcases. I spent most of my pregnancy here, and have been mothering a baby boy + trying to get a handle on my work while juggling my new role, all from this place that we can’t call home because the authorities in charge, won’t let us. Because, every time we decide to get a bit comfortable, we’re shuffled like a deck of cards.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 things I’ve Learnt/Realized/Accepted in the Past Year

1. Parenting is the most difficult job I’ve ever done, or probably will ever do.

2. It’s more fun to respond to an unfavorable situation or comment with humor than with anger or irritation. (Of course, it takes all my will power to not get ignited, but when I change the ‘lens’ through which I’m looking at said situation/comment, it can make all the difference to my mood and the day.)

3. Acceptance and lack of expectations can help me endure certain relationships.

4. It is possible to live out of two suitcases for two long years.

5. Our bodies are wise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Birthday Message from the Other Side

I want to share this personal piece about an out-of-the-normal birthday treat that happened many years ago. I'd jotted down this little essay sometime ago, to capture the moment. So this week, as I head towards another Birthday, it seems like the right time to dust it out and post it here. Have you had any out-of-the-normal experiences?

I was going to be thirteen within a week, a milestone that I’d been waiting to reach. I would be a real teenager – someone more grown-up and cool than an awkward pre-teen in frilly dresses and boring moccasins. But though I was excited about becoming a teenager, my birthday thoughts were tinged with sadness.

I’d lost my grandfather a fortnight ago. He’d been fine one day and gone on the other, having died suddenly in his sleep. This was the first time I’d lost someone close and I still wasn’t able to believe that I wouldn’t be able to meet my grandfather again. I remembered him as a quiet person, who showed his affection for his grandchildren in small, quiet ways. He wasn’t one to hug or tell stories, but he made sure that he had little surprises for us every time we visited him. Packets of brightly-colored candy that we absolutely loved tucking into, bars of creamy chocolate and beautiful birthday cards every year were his ways of showing that he cared. 

It was the beautiful birthday cards from him that I would miss terribly as I turned into a teen. These cards were special, with cute illustrations of cuddly animals or happy children and perky messages of celebration. I collected greeting cards, like some kids collected baseball cards, stamps or marbles. I kept each one of the cards that family or friends had given me, carefully in a drawer attached to my study table, taking them out every now and then to revel in the pretty pictures.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hello Monday Letter + Good Reads + a Birthday GIVEAWAY!

A birthday cake that my husband baked last year for me

It’s that time of the year again for me. When I think of chocolate cake and homemade frosting, blowing out birthday candles and waking up to presents. As the week curls up on Sunday, I’ll turn 32. I’ll celebrate and cherish thirty-two years of treading this Earth; a life filled with love, learning and creativity. But on each of these days that lead up to my birthday on March 30, I will feel grateful for who I am, for where I was born, for the place in my life I am at. 

Me as a little girl with my parents

Not for a moment do I lament or even consider being ‘over-the-hill’ because spilling over the third decade isn’t the end of the world or the end of good things. If at all, every year that gets poured into my life is a blessing, a chance to grow and about a burgeoning feeling of self-acceptance and contentment.

I am so much surer of myself than I was 5 or 10 years ago. I am less hard on myself, not insecure and absolutely not prone to following anyone else’s dreams/style/attitude at this place in life. I’m more familiar with my strengths and weaknesses, and less bothered with what others think or say.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Making Memories through a Postbox

Leaning by the road, now rusted and forgotten, stands a postbox that I pass by every morning. The paint isn’t rich red as it used to be many years ago, when people still wrote letters to each other. The words on the postbox are now just a collection of white lines, numbers and stray alphabets – SUN…10.30…COLTION..TI..ME. Like a crossword puzzle, the words and numbers tell the story of the time and day when a postman would pedal to the box, unlock it and collect the letters piled inside. He would hoard them inside a sack and carry them back to the post office to be marked and stamped and then sent on their way. Messages of joy, sorrow, smiles, lunches, children, routines…stories of everyday life that weave the fabric of our lives.

Letters, handwritten in the fragments of time, in leisurely longhand or the scribbler’s scrawl. Letters quickly folded like white handkerchiefs and slipped inside brown envelopes. Messages jotted on yellow postcards and blue postal letters.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In a Mother's Heart...

Today, I was looking around the net for inspiring blog posts to read, something I like doing once-in-a-while before I sit down to write. Just this morning, I had been listening to an interesting podcast featuring a blogger named Arianne Segerman and she’d talked about some great stuff about mama fashion, an arena that I’m beginning to explore and get comfortable with.

So, today, when I stepped into the web world, I went straight to her blog. As I hopscotched my way across her lovely online space, moving from one post to another,  all of a sudden I landed on a page, on a story, on a bouquet of moments that were poignant and beautiful. This was the birth story of Mabel, the writer’s baby daughter who was born asleep.

Like a bolt of lightening, like the silken cover of fog on a mountain, this post made me stop in my tracks and pray for a little girl, for a tiny baby, who lives on in her mother’s heart, her brothers’ smiles and her father’s eyes. It took me back to that moment when I asked in a voice too loud in a room that had gone silent all of a sudden “Is my baby dying?” and prayed silently at the same time “Please God, don’t let my baby die”.

As I read and absorbed every word and every emotion, I remembered the tiny baby girl who breathed her last breaths in the NICU as I breastfed my son for the first time, in a chair just a few footsteps away from her tray.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fill your Life with Color!

I sometimes wonder what our lives would be like without color. How would we experience joy in a black and white world? What would our paintings look like? What would our clothes, flowers, fabric, furnishings be like without pops of color? What would the day be like, all soaked in shades of grey?

As a person, who lives, breathes and revels in color, I cannot imagine my life without the richness of hues. And even though I often think in black-and-white, I live every moment swathed and surrounded by bursts of colors. From my wardrobe to my footwear, my soft furnishings to jewelry, my crockery to paintings, everything is saturated in jewel tones and rich tints. Sunshine yellow, tangy orange, ruby red, new leaf green, turquoise blue, hot pink….colors are the soul and the core of my life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Be a Mama Bear Fashionista!

Till sometime ago, my wardrobe was all about comfortable sweats and t-shirts. Yes, there was the rare ‘good’ outfit. But mostly, it was all about clothing that’s loose and light. Clothing that’s uber comfy but very uninspiring.

My logic for not adding to my wardrobe:

It’s bound to get covered in baby-puke, so why bother with brand new clothes!

I will lose those extra baby pounds in the near future, so why buy clothes that’ll be out-of-shape very soon? And hey, I can go back to my pre-baby wardrobe that has some lovely stuff.

But as snugly as wearing sweat pants and t-shirts can be, it takes the punch out of your personal style. You almost forget what your style was all about. You’re in a limbo, waiting for the right size, the right day, the right occasion. And while you’re waiting, your inner-fashionista starts to fade into oblivion. At least, that’s what started happening to me.

I started believing that good clothes and fashion were for that version of me that had lost all the post-baby weight. That while my baby was small, I could only and only dress myself in sweats and t-shirts. That I could look good only when I was out of the trenches of new motherhood.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baby N is 8-months-old today!

Baby N sits on another milestone today. As the clock strikes 10.50 am, my little son becomes a person with eight months of life behind him. A small boy with an emerging personality of his own. With opinions that are voiced through shouts and gurgles; with preferences (he loves music and books and flavorful food); with a personality totally his own (vocal, moody, naughty, curious, charming). This baby, who’d emerged as a chocolaty little thing, chubby and indignant and all of 3.4 kilos just eight months ago, is turning into Mr. Person. And this is the part that I’m enjoying so much.

I love the way a unique personality peeps out from the layers within a pupa-like baby. How a boy unfurls from the bud of a baby. When a definite personality finally begins to emerge, like the golden sun on a rainy day, bit by bit, day by day. It’s fun to see what kind of boy Baby N is turning into.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Work from Home

Something’s brewing on my laptop. It’s simmering right now with ideas and design, thoughts and blog posts. Like a pot of soup that you tuck into on a winter evening, this ‘dish’ just needs a bit more flavor and the finishing touches before I wheel it out of the ‘kitchen’ and present it to you. You can then dig into it, one bite at a time. This ‘dish’ is a resource center, a website and blog, a go-to-guide for women who want to start working-from-home. A beginner’s guide to creating a work-at-home life, especially in the boondocks or for that matter, anywhere around the world or country. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Commitment to Creativity & Writing + Brand New Week inspiration + Hello Monday links!

May this week, new as a coin fresh from the mint, and full of promise, be about creativity and all those things that fulfill you as a person.

photo credit: victor1558

Creativity and nourishment can mean different things for different people. Maybe you like dressing up mindfully, or maybe you enjoy painting, making music, gardening, cooking or, maybe you spin gold in your life by chronicling the moments that matter through photography, writing, scrapbooking. Whatever you enjoy creating, with your hands and with you minds, I hope you get to do them this week. Even if it’s for a handful of minutes, a few hours because yes, reining in that time is often like riding a lion. But I do hope you do those creative things to nourish your soul. To reap happiness. To mine the gold beneath the layers of life and routines.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Being the True Me: Accepting the sugar & the spice

What makes each of us, us? Are we the sum total of our quirks, virtues, shortcomings and goodness? Or, do we choose to define ourselves through what’s bright and light in each of us?

I’ve often noticed that we like to shove our quirks and shortcomings under the proverbial carpet, or not acknowledge them at they belong to someone else. Like the cheap accessories the lady at the supermarket sports; like eccentric clothing on the fashion ramp that we look at and comment on, but never venture out to buy. 

It’s so easy to look at someone else and comment on their shortcomings. But it’s just as difficult to look in the mirror of our souls and touch upon what’s dark, what’s negative, what’s not so-suitable in us.“Oh, I’m not like that at all!” “I would never do what she did!” “I don’t believe in that!” You hear statements like that all the time. Statements flung about carelessly in gossip sessions and locker rooms, during coffee mornings and parties. Statements that are actually meant to judge another, while acquitting the speaker of the said ‘sin’. Statements that sometimes reveal more about a person than self-professed manifestoes about one’s goodness. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Picture Postcards: Moments of Joy (#childhood memories, #children's illustration and Pearl)

Fireflies and shiny-red candy, rainy days and paper boats, unbridled joy and soft handmade dresses... Childhood memories are made of so many happy pieces. Small things and big moments. Brightness and light. Sunshine and clown-faced clouds. Green cheese moon and kites that kiss the sky. Bicycle rides and summer holidays.

Picture Postcard 1: Pearl is filled with joy as fireflies burst out into the summer sky, glowing gently as the evening turns violet. Clusters of fireflies, each in its own halo of green-gold light, filling the world around with magic.

Picture Postcard 2: A sky heavy with rain-bearing clouds and a day the color of stone-washed denim - the perfect day to enjoy a sweet treat. Shiny-red lollipops like a clown's nose!

Join the discussion: What are your favorite childhood memories made of?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Good Morning Monday & Hello New Week!

What does Monday morning look like out of your window? Is it pouring golden sunshine through the panes or is it about crisp blue skies with just a hint of white wispy clouds? Is there a chill in the air, fog on the horizon or are you heading towards summer?

In our little corner of the country, the skies are turquoise, the sunshine is like warm honey and Monday is all about scrabbling up to the week, basking in the after-glow of the weekend, waiting for the next. It’s about pulling out the planner and making to-do lists. It’s about trying to strike a balance between writing and work, baby time and books, fresh air and rest.

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