Monday, March 30, 2015

Birthday number 33 – 12 things I’ve learnt / accepted about life, people & myself

As I touch another milestone, another year, I think back on the life lessons I’ve learnt and the little things I’ve accepted, about life and people, about friends and those who say they-are-your-friends-but-are-not.
I’ve changed and morphed, for the better or for the worse. I’ve wizened up a little and grayed some more (much to the chagrin of my hair stylist who still hasn’t been able to convince me to color my hair). 

I’m more comfortable in my skin and in my honesty sans the diplomacy.

I’ve gone through my own fires and the equivalent of hell. I’ve learnt to find my inner strength and the pillar in prayers.

I’m more thankful for what I have now, today, right in this moment – the relationships and love, the things and the abundance. I’m just as content, or maybe a tonne more, in this little world of mine, with this wonderful family of mine, in this colorful & bohemian home where we live and the worlds we create everywhere.

I’m almost 2 years into my journey as a mother, 9 as a wife and 33 as a daughter. I’m embracing my life, with its fault lines and flaws, with its beauty and the bittersweet, with its daily struggles and endless to-do’s.

So, here are the 12 things that I’ve accepted/learnt/embraced this year.

1. Life can throw curve balls at you when you least expect it. It can pull you out of your comfort zone and drag you into the bowels of hell. But when you emerge, first your head bobbing out, then your flailing arms, and then slowly, your entire self, you walk through light so bright and pure, wisdom so rare and peaceful that you learn to live your best self.

2. Not everyone will like you, in spite of what they say or how you behave. But you just make peace with it because hey, you don’t like everyone you meet or party with.

3. You cannot beat yourself up because a so-called friend judged you (you painfully realize that they are so-called friends and not just friends because of this). You just have to stay honest to yourself by being what you are, by doing what comes naturally to you.

4. Some situations and phases are a lot like labor pains – the more you fight it, the more difficult it gets. You just have to accept it and find coping techniques until that situation/phase of life passes (for example, the all-consuming nature of new motherhood, when the concept of ‘me-time’ or regular work sounds just as alien as your best friend from Mars).

5. Never go by the party chatter or the polite exuberance that’s part-and-parcel of socializing. I’m more than a bit wary of this. I’m never sure what’s honest and what’s put-on, what’s real or what’s made-up about party banter. But where earlier, I’d get a headache at anything that was spelled P-A-R-T-Y, I’ve learnt now to ride the wave, to enjoy what’s there to enjoy, and to leave the rest at the doorstep.

6. Honesty and being myself works for me. It may not work for others around me, but at least when I’m not trying to don another persona( that’s often expected of me) or dithering with diplomacy, I and others know where we all stand.

7. There’s so much of contentment and peace to be found within the realms of your own family and the walls of your home.

8. What I really need is 1 good friend to ride through the ups and downs of life with. And I’m grateful and lucky that I’ve found that pal/buddy/best friend in my husband!

9. You go through phases. Sometimes you’re not rational or reasonable, gifted or very good. At other times you’re a better version of yourself – more mellow, understanding, calm, peaceful, joyous. Our phases don’t end at toddlerhood; they ride with us all through our lives.

10. I take time to thaw out and melt into a crowd. Even now, or maybe more now. I can’t just hop out of the car and bounce in with a big smile and a party line. I take my time, standing at the edges of a party, slowly shedding my reluctance, testing the waters with a hello here, a ‘howdy’ there, before I meld in. It may get mistaken for arrogance or indifference, but well, some things are the way they are.

11. I’m a HSP – check it out here. My triggers are incessant chatter, loud noises, too much of time on the Internet, the television blaring in the background.

12. There’s peace and strength to be found in prayer. I’ve been a lousy pray-er. But over the past few months, I’ve been making an effort to pray more often. Not long prayers kneeling in front of the alter with the incense sending out curly wisps of fragrance. But simple prayers, one-line prayers, sprinkled through the span of the day.

Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Composting in your backyard – a quick DIY project

A while back, I decided to take baby steps towards a greener lifestyle.

I’ve tried to make simple changes around the home – create my own body care products, make my own natural cleaning solutions, paint our own wrapping paper instead of using the tinsely plastic ones, plant a kitchen garden, use cloth bags instead of plastic packets, eat wholesome meals. Little ways of cutting down on the toxins and reducing our carbon footprint, while revving up the health quotient of our family. So, when you’re doing stuff like this, you also begin to wonder about composting.

My mom has been vermi-composting for years, but my attempts at it have always failed. Whenever I’ve tried doing this, I’ve ended up with a bucketful of dead worms and a stinky mess. So, I decided to go with the simpler solution – composting my wet kitchen waste without the worms. And it worked! Right now, the big, blue bucket stands in my backyard, turning months of vegetable peels and dried leaves into rich, black compost - a feast for our garden.

So, if this is something that interests you, here’s a small DIY.

1. Take a large bucket with a lid. Drill holes around it and at the bottom of it because composting needs air circulation. Place this bucket in your backyard.

2. Now start collecting all your vegetable & fruit peels and egg shells in a container in the kitchen. Also start collecting dry leaves in a pile in the corner of your backyard.

3. Dump some dry leaves into your composting bucket, and then add a layer of garden soil. Now start dumping the peels and egg shells into the bucket. Make sure that you chop the peels into small bits and crush the egg shells, so they decompose quickly.

4. After you’ve added a layer of green kitchen waste, add a layer of dry leaves and paper. Top this with a layer of garden soil and sprinkle half a bottle of water on it, before adding another layer of green kitchen waste on top of it. Rinse and repeat.

5. Composting needs both, greens and browns to turn rich. So alternate the layers, by adding equal amounts of green waste and dry leaves.

6. Try to give this composting mix a stir with a stick once every week or two, so that the mixture will stay aerated and compost better.

7. Composting, like most good things, takes time, so give yourself and your composting pit a bucket load of time.

I compost vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, dry leaves and grass. But there are a multitude of things that you can compost. Here’s a list of all the things that you can dump into your composting bucket to turn into black gold.

Here’s a website that can give you detailed information on composting.

 #naturalliving #compost #greenliving

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I’m on my way to becoming a yoga teacher and this couldn't have come at a better time

I think I may have mentioned it here and there in some of my posts. But here’s the full ‘announcement’. I’m studying to be a Certified Yoga Teacher! And it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Here’s why.

When I signed up for the year-long course from the well-known Aura Wellness Centre two months ago, I wasn’t sure if this was the time to take on something so intensive. Or, if an online course was the thing to do. Or, if I’d really be able to cope with the studies and the daily practice, what with a turbo toddler to chase after through the day. I was excited when I got my box of study material, but overwhelmed too. How would I master so many yoga poses? How could I read all those books and look at so many videos, and practice regularly?

I wrote to my teacher at the yoga school, and he told me to take each day as it comes, to practice my asanas to the best of my abilities, to enjoy the moment. A piece of advice that works so well for our daily lives if we let go of the desire to control each outcome and go with the flow. That’s when I let go of that coiled-up breath that I was holding onto, and just enjoyed my practice.

I still worry. I still try to visualize the outcome. But not as much. And guess what? I’m enjoying my yoga practice more and more with every passing day. I’m realizing that this course, this practice couldn’t have come at a better time.

With my attention & energy being bisected by 101 things and a roller coaster of toddler moods to skate through, this one thing, this hour of yoga time helps me stay grounded and centered. It makes those muscles work, opens up those knots in my body and brain, and steadies my soul.

It’s helping me let go of some of that post-birth chubbiness, filling me up with a booster shot of energy (which I desperately need in this season of life), and letting me stay calm when a storm whirls around my head. Yoga – just four little letters that help me focus on the now and works like a balm on frazzled nerves.

Ah…so I didn’t mean to write a jingle for a Yoga advert. But honestly, this is what yoga has been like for me. And interestingly, my son loves this mat-time too. He climbs over yoga blocks, thinks I’m a tunnel that he can chug under when I’m in Downward Dog yoga pose, snuggles up to me when I’m right in the middle of a Surya Namaskar, and plays ‘horse horse’ when I’m in Cobra pose. He often shares my yoga mat with me, dragging his current favorite toy or trinket onto it and playing there while I twist myself into yet another pose.

In a year, I’d like to teach other women this amazing art + exercise, create classes where yoga is equal parts fun and practice, and craft a community where people can be their true selves on the mat and in the world. I’d also like to learn Restorative yoga and Children’s yoga - two areas of yoga that fascinate me. But for now, I’ll return to my mat.

What do you like about yoga? Drop in a line here or join us at my Facebook page to continue the conversation.

#yoga #yogateacher

Monday, March 23, 2015

#100sareepact – 6 ways to tackle those excuses and wear a saree more often

I have been quiet on the blog front for this month or more. Not because I don’t have anything to say but because there’s a lot to share and just stray seconds to jot down, find pictures and upload a bunch of posts in. Sometimes life takes over, grabbing whatever slices of online time I have for its own.

But before I reel of all that I have on my mind, I gotta share what’s right on the tip of my tongue. The #100sareepact movement that’s rolling across the merry hills of Facebook and the wide world of the Internet.

Being offline for so much of the time, I was absolutely clueless about #100sareepact. And I am just as alarmed that it’s me, the saree aficionado, who has missed this saree revolution that’s promising to change the way urban Indian women view the saree, one saree at a time, one day at a time.

I stumbled across the #100sareepact, a dare and a challenge, a revolution and a revelation, when some of my readers tagged me, gently letting me know that I’ve nudged them towards their saree closets and saree style. (Thanks ladies, it’s an honor).

So here I am, a bit late but still full of enthusiasm for this rollicking ride, this wonderful challenge that’s nudging even me to step up my saree quotient. To wear them more often in this season of toddler-mommyhood, when a pair of trousers or leggings is what one tends to reach out for than 6 yards of gorgeousness.

If you’re a new mom/toddler mom like me, or a gal who wants to wear sarees but without the frills of it (read: getting more blouses stitched, altering the ones that don’t fit anymore, wearing saris without going crazy figuring out your entire ensemble), here are a few tips.

(Warning: These tips may take more than a dollop of casual + creativity + spunk to try on.)

Psst...I'm wearing a kurti as a blouse here

Problem 1: “My blouses don’t fit me anymore and I can’t find the time to get them altered. So, I guess, I’ll not participate in the #100sareepact.”

Action step: Put aside the blouses that don’t fit right now and reach out for those gorgeous tops, short kurtis and tees that you have stashed away in your closet. Team them up with your saree, preferably wearing a top that complements or is a contrast to your saree. Example: I like to wear printed cotton kurtis with plain tussar saris. Try this tip before discarding it – it sounds crazy but works just fine. I do this all the time.

Problem 2: I have a lot of sarees and haven’t taken them out from my boxes for the past 10 years. I’m not sure if I’m up to the task of hauling them out now for the #100sareepact.

Action step: Choose 10 sarees that’ll suit the season. So, if it’s summer, bring out the crisp Bengal cottons, the breezy Kota dorias and the soft chiffons. Or, if it’s cool where you live, bring out the raw silks and heavy cottons. Bring them out and get them ironed. Bring out the petticoats to match the sarees and arrange all of these in your closet. So, when you want to wear a saree, you don’t have to do the entire drill of dipping into your boxes, rummage for the petticoats, smoothen out the crinkles in the folds. You’ll have what you want, when you want them.

When you’ve worn the 10 sarees, put them back in the boxes and bring out 10 more. Rinse and repeat.

Problem 3: “I haven’t worn sarees for years and I’m not sure how my friends or colleagues will react when I start wearing them.” Or, if you’re like me – “I wear sarees so often that people think I’ve gone crazy and ask me strange questions”.

Action step: Just laugh and let people know that saree is your style. Even add that you’re part of the #100sareepact. And then just brush off those strange reactions. People will get used to you in a saree. And even if they don’t – do you really care or does it really matter?

Problem 4: How do I know what kind of sarees to wear for casual events or formal parties?

Action step: Go with your gut feeling. I often pick that saree up that whispers its story to me on that particular day. You can choose a saree for any occasion or day depending on what color appeals to you, what kind of story you want to create, what look are you aiming for. You can also take the weather into consideration and choose a saree you’re comfortable in.

Problem 5: I want to take part in the #100sareepact but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wear sarees a 100 times this particular year (this may be your concern if you’ve just learnt to wear a saree / still getting used to being in a saree / are pregnant / have a baby or toddler / are in another country).

Action step: I have this concern too. In this season of life, I’m a stay-at-home mom chasing after a turbo toddler. I live in pajamas and comfy leggings; a skirt or dhoti pants for the days when I’m feeling more vibrant and bohemian. I do wear my sarees to parties and social do’s, but I don’t see myself attending a 100 parties this year. So, what should I do? Drop out of the #100sareepact because I may not be able to wear sarees a 100 times?

I almost thought that that’s what I may have to do if I couldn’t keep up with the pact. But I love the saree too much to not hop onto this particular bandwagon…this merry bandwagon full of vibrant saree-wearers like me. So, this is the deal that I’ve made with myself: I’ll wear sarees whenever I can. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wear them a 100 times. But I can wear them to my heart’s content within the parameters of my life situation.

I’m going with this motto: wear (a saree) when you can.

Problem 6: I don’t seem to be fitting in what with me wearing sarees so often.

Action step: You’ll never fit in, in a saree, especially in the urban Indian scenario. But you can fit out for your creativity and the stories that your style tells, for your out-of-the-box ideas and your own unique personality – all of this when you drape a saree and step out with confidence.

Are you ready to wear your sarees more often, this year for the #100sareepact and for the years to come?
What challenges do you face in wearing sarees more often? Drop in a line and let me know if I can help.

In the meanwhile, you may enjoy reading these saree stories:

Continue the conversation on my Facebook page.

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