Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A chat about business and books with Megha Mehta

I’d like you to meet my buddy from my Institute of Integrative Nutrition days. Megha Mehta is a mother, health coach, writer and business woman, and she juggles all these roles with her balance mantra. Here we chat about what she does and how we as mothers can find time to fit in our dreams.

(Psst…Megha also has a offer for 20 of our blog readers. So stay tuned!)


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a holistic health coach and energy medicine practitioner and a work from home mother of a 4yr old.

I started coaching 3 years ago and my work has been evolving ever since. I most actively work with women - working and stay at home mothers.

Megha, you’d published a book earlier, right? What was it about? 

My first book was called Find Your Rhythm - feel your way to perfect wellness. It was all about letting go of the stress around being healthy and eating well. It was about understanding the huge role that our bodies' play in guiding us towards eating and living well.




What is your current book about? Have both your books been self-published?

This book is an updated second version and is called Find Your Rhythm - Your Guide To Eating and Living Optimally For Your Body's Specific Needs.

Both my books have been self published.

Will you please share with the process of self-publication?

It's a hugely creative process that gives you full freedom to create your work the way you like it. You can decide the level, scale, and intensity of work and time and money investment that you would like to put in.

I enjoyed the process very much but it was also very draining in parts. I have learned a lot through the process however!

You also run a essential oils biz. Please tell us about the blends you create and the idea behind this biz.

Essential Oils are the most purest and potent part of the plants and I have been fascinated by them for a long time. In fact, I got so hooked to them that I gradually collected a drawer full of essential oils from different countries. I use them for every day mood upliftment, refreshing, relaxing, soothing, and also specific purposes like adrenal support.

When I moved back to India I realised that the range of essential oils here was very limited and also there were barely any blends
available. That's when I decided to create some of the most useful blends under my brand name - The Balance Mantra.

The first three in this range are Perk Up - for relaxation, calming and uplifting, DeBuzz for mosquitoes and bugs and De Congest for Sinus congestion, colds and flus.

We are soon launching blends for sleep, meditation and prayers too. They're all available online on Amazon.

How do you think moms like us can take an idea and create it into a tangible product/business ?

I think it's important to start with the message that you want to share with the world. What is the thing that you want to shout from roof tops about - and want the world to take notice and adopt?

Then find ways to get your message out there. Blog, youtube channel or even just your Facebook account are great ways to refine your message and clarify your communication about the idea
you're passionate about. As you start interacting with people about the idea, you'd have gotten your market research and will find the confidence to launch!

Will you please tell us more about the offer that you have for our readers?

For the blog readers I'd like to offer 20 spots to get the online training program 'Body Feedback System' for free when they order my book Find Your Rhythm' this 29th of March' 2016 on Amazon.in.

1.Go to Amazon.in - search for Find Your Rhythm.
2. Order for the print or Kindle version online
3. Forward me the email receipt at megha@thebalancemantra.com to get your free access.
The spots are only 20 so make sure to be the first few to order.

#motherhood #wellness

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This is what Neerja made me think of

Yesterday, I watched Neerja, a movie starring Sonam Kapoor, featuring the life of Neerja Bhanot. “Neerja, the vivacious and brave senior flight purser of Pan Am, who was felled by the hijacker’s bullets during the Pan Am holdup at Karachi airport on September 5, 1986, barely 25 hours before her 23rd birthday.”


It’s not your ideal weekend movie, where you want to munch on caramel popcorn and swap a slew of comments with your movie partner. It’s not a movie to saunter in with gleeful excitement and come out feeling light and fresh. It’s not the film version of a chick lit.

‘Neerja’ is hard core reality, the story of that day, when the light went out of the lives of a family, who doted on their youngest daughter, aptly nicknamed ‘Lado’. The movie is raw and dark and poignant, like the incident portrayed. And the story of this young woman, who like a true soldier, put service before self, is inspiring and heart breaking in equal measure.

The part that dug its tentacles deep into my heart, was when her family back home hear of the hijacking and clutch to a splinter of hope. Hope that she will return safe and sound, hope that she will enjoy wearing the yellow outfit that her mother had bought for her birthday, hope that this girl who was an answer to their prayers would again be shielded in an armor of their prayers. 

These kinds of nights are the longest for mothers, for all those mothers across the world whose children are caught between death and a hard place. We’re not sure what the first hours of daylight will bring: a reason to celebrate life or a reason to mourn the twisted turns of fate. And through all of this we clutch on the stray seams of hope, wondering if we’ll ever be able to cope if the latter happens.

Neerja Bhanot

When I came back home, I googled Neerja Bhanot and recognized her face from the print advertisements of the 1980's in magazines that she had modeled for. It’s difficult to believe that this gorgeous girl with luminous eyes and a sunny smile had her life cut shot by hijackers. It’s always difficult to accept such wanton waste of life. The life of this beautiful, brave girl; the lives of those strapping young men in uniform who take the bullet for their country; the lives of all those who do not get to grow old.

In an ideal world, we’d all grow old, wouldn’t we? We’d all get to worry about wrinkles and grey hair. We’d all get to wear our dreams on our sleeves and celebrate the twinkling milestones that decorate our youth. We’d all get to find our soulmates and see our children grow up. We’d even get to play with our grandchildren and embark on our second careers and globe trotting plans.

But in a not-your-ideal-world, under the harsh spotlight of reality, all we have is now and a bright, shiny chance wrapped in the gift of each day, to start afresh and spin happiness from what’s at hand. And it’s this, this offer of contentment and joy amidst the daily and mundane, that we so often overlook.

In a haze of ambition and animosity, judgments and jealousy, the daily and the deadlines, we forget that today is a gift not meant to be squandered.

That we’re here on this earth for as long as we’re meant to be and not a minute more.

That what we can really nourish ourselves with is love and joy, and not power and wealth that we so often prefer over the former.

Like Neerja used to say (in the movie and I’m guessing in her life too), “Zindagi lambi nahin, badi honi chahiye (a good is measured by how you live it and not by its length).

What are you doing today to lead a ‘badi’ life ? 

Carry on this conversation at our Facebook Page.


#neerja #neerjabhanot


Monday, March 21, 2016

Knitter Natter – Tales of a knitting newbie

I’ve always wanted to knit. As a small child, I’d wrap yarn across a pair of twigs and pretend to knit. A few years later, I gave knitting a real shot, with a pair of my mother’s knitting needles and a ball of yarn – phlemy yellow, coarse and unraveled from an old woolen sock. The wool didn’t feel right (I’ve always wanted the materials I use to be of at least good quality, if not luxurious) and I just couldn’t get my head around the concept of knit and purl. I remember my mother getting more and more exasperated with every fumbling movement that I made with the needles and that yellow yarn. And finally, she told me to give it up and focus on the things I was good at, like painting.

image credit: UVM bored

It took me another 15 years to pick up a set of knitting needles, this time my own and bought at the local store in a small town. I remember the skein of bubble gum pink wool that I had bought along with it and my attempt at learning to knit a scarf from the cleaning woman. The pattern was wrong for a scarf and it had to be unraveled by my mother and knit all over again. I tried again, but I dropped more stitches than I knitted. In the end, my mother unraveled the scarf once again and knitted it up herself.

The next year, I bought a skein of Smurf-blue wool and knitted up a cap for my husband. I ended up increasing the number of stitches so much (without realizing it) that the end result looked more like a “German Helmet” (in my husband’s words) than a cap that could keep anyone warm. I still have that knitted creation, unworn and brand new, tucked beneath the other layers of woolen clothes.

A few years later and with my mother and mother-in-law’s help, I knitted up lots of small squares with colored yarn, which my mother joined up into a bright and beautiful woolen patchwork blanket. But after that, I tucked away my knitting needles because really, how many more woolen squares could one knit and how many more woolen blankets does one need?

This year, which I’ve declared as my creative year, I decided to give knitting a shot again. I have always loved the concept of looping yarn across a pair of needles to create something beautiful, and there’s no better time to try something new than now, right?


So far, I’ve knitted 63 inches of a coral pink shawlette-stole with the drop-stitch pattern. There’s still another 25 inches to go and so far, it’s been a peaceful knitting journey with very few self-created knitting roadblocks. I’m also collaborating on another knitting project with my mother, a spearmint green scarf in seed stitch, and dreaming of a peacock blue cowl that I’m about to cast on. My knitting basket has skeins of butter-popcorn white wool, waiting to be knitted up into another lacy scarf.

I’m still sticking to scarves and cowls, with the hope that I may be able to knit up a few beanies the next year. The sweaters and cardigans may never be born from my knitting needles, but for now, I’m knitting-content. As long as I can loop yarn around my knitting needles, buy copious amounts of jewel-colored wool and dream of the gorgeous woolen accessories that come out of my knit-and-purl, I’m a happy girl.

Are you a knitting newbie too? What are you knitting at the moment?
Let me know at my Facebook page.

#knitting #creativity #creative2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A chat with Debasmita Dasgupta about children's books, art and My Father illustrations

I’ve always loved exchanging ideas with interesting people. So, I decided to translate that into a series of blog posts, where you get an insight into the lives and work of some of the people who inspire me. I hope that they inspire you too.

I’d like to introduce you to Debasmita Dasgupta, who is a media manager by profession and an illustrator/artist by passion. Her “My Father” illustrations made ripples across the world with their beautiful combination of poignant artwork and real-life messages.  Debasmita has also illustrated two children’s books and her dedication to her sketchbook has got me scrabbling for my drawing book and the curly-haired girl that I paint.


So, here’s my tete-a-tete with Debasmita.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your love for art.

I am from a middle class family in south Calcutta.  Being the only child, I had a very close bond with my parents, especially my father who always inspired me to swim against the current. My father is a theatre actor & director. Sometimes I used to accompany him to his rehearsals and get completely bowled over seeing him bring together actors, orchestrate them to create art with a strong social message. That somehow became the foundation of my artistic existence and inspired me to find my purpose as an artist. Thus began an urge do something meaningful with my education, my art, my resources and surroundings.




Will you please tell us about the ‘My Father illustrations’ project – how you conceptualized it, what was the first illustration for it and how it grew?

It was on a Sunday afternoon when the idea came to me after I heard a TED talk by Shabana Basij from Afghanistan. It was a moving experience. I felt something had permanently changed inside me. Over the next few days, I watched that talk over and over. Her honesty, her simplicity and power of narration moved me. Shabana grew up in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. Despite all odds, her father never lost the courage to fight for her education. He used to say, “People can take away everything from you except your knowledge”.

Shabana’s story gave me a strong impulse to do something but I didn’t know ‘what’ and ‘how’. That’s when my red sketchbook and pencil caught my eye. Before I’d even realized it, I had taken my first step. I illustrated Shabana’s story and posted it on Facebook. It was an impulsive reaction. I found Shabana’s contact and shared the illustration with her. Shabana was so touched that she forwarded it to her students, and then I started getting emails from a lot of other Afghan men! The emails were a note of thanks as they felt someone was trying to showcase Afghan men in a positive light.

I realized that if there are so many positive father–daughter stories in Afghanistan, just imagine the positive stories across the world! My journey had started. I started looking for moving father-daughter stories from across the globe. Some I found, some found me. With every discovery, my desire to create art for people kept growing.

Started in 2013, ‘My Father illustrations' is all about sharing the positive father–daughter stories with the rest of the world. Through this project, I want to encourage fathers to fight for the rights of their daughters. Every story is special and needs to be told. I look for ordinary people with stories to tell because celebrity stories are still available for people to find, but these ordinary stories are mostly “unheard” of.

Till date I have shared over 150 stories from 37 countries through “My Father illustrations” Facebook page.



You recently published a children’s story book. What was the experience like (from sending your first query to publication)?

Actually my first book, “The Friday Fair”, was published by KATHA in 2010. However every book is special and creating every illustration is a wonderful experience. That’s what makes me feel delighted to share with you my latest children book illustrations for PRATHAM.

The story “Avani and the Pea Plant” is written by very talented ShruthiRao and I enjoyed visualizing and drawing every bit of it. One good thing about having your workfolio online is that sometimes you receive beautiful surprises in your inbox. One such surprise was an email from PRATHAM inviting me to illustrate “Avani and the Pea Plant”. And that’s how we started working together. The book is currently on sale at PRATHAM’s bookstore.


What would you like to say to those of us (like me!) who love to draw children’s book characters in our drawing books (closet illustrators) but are hesitant to take our pictures out into the world?

Just create and share! Do not think whether your art is good or bad, whether people will like it or not. If you love to create, there will be enough good hearts to appreciate your love.

I hope you enjoyed this little chat with Debasmita. You can find out more about her at her blog: https://debasmitaillustrations.wordpress.com/.

You can buy her latest children's book at the Pratham store.

And if you like, you can join our blog tribe at our Facebook page.

#childrensbooks #art #illustrator 
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