Monday, April 28, 2014

Our attitude is our luck

“You are lucky that you have always worked in places and things that you love and that you are so passionate about. Not everyone gets to have that, you know.” I said this to Siddharth the other day.

“You are right, but it is not all luck. I work toward loving what I do and it is my attitude that defines how I feel.”

Siddharth has not complained a single day about his work, not one day. He is extremely passionate about what he does. He is always upbeat when it comes to his work. He has never used the word “bored” or “not excited” for his job. I think it is pretty rare.

But when he said it is not all luck and his attitude as well, it very quickly made a lot of sense to me. I can see how my attitude can impact how I feel about my work, and anything for that matter. I can choose to have fun or choose to sulk. I can choose to enjoy my work or choose to be grumpy about things that are wrong. I can choose to fix what is wrong or I could complaint about everything that doesn’t work. I can see that a lot of what I feel is about my choices and my attitude. It is not all luck.

My Dad always says “love your work and you won’t have to work a single day in your life.” I have heard similar quotes many more times in my adult life. While love has never been a matter of choice for me, because it is driven by something so innate in me that no external force can ever drive who or what I love, my attitude does drive my enjoyment level at work and in life.

Just the other day I was talking to my mom about how I don’t like seeing certain people as they don’t make me happy. Although I don’t have a choice but to see them. While I went on complaining for almost 10 minutes, my mom was listening to me very patiently. Here is what she said to me after I was done rambling “Any time I felt negative and down in someone’s company I thought of myself. I thought of myself because other people, their thoughts, their actions, their attitudes are not my responsibility. But I am my responsibility. I have the right to happiness and I am responsible for doing what I can in my capacity to be happy. “ BOOM. Powerful. Mighty. Words.

While I am really really really lucky to be surrounded by some amazing friends, which by the way is super important to me because I live so far away from my family, it is not all luck. My friends is a choice I have made. My luck will take me only so far. For the rest, well, my attitude will once again come my rescue as it determines the choices I make! And that is why my attitude is my luck.

Keep Looking Forward

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keep Calm’isms

I am addicted to these. They attract my attention more than a sign in neon would. The reason I am so in love with Keep Calm’isms is because I really believe in the first two words – Keep Calm.

There are a lot of reasons to keep calm in life, and there are a lot of reasons in spite of which we need to keep calm. Here is my philosophy on keeping calm.

Keep calm and sleep tight. It really is a treasure.

Keep calm and love. That is what it is all about.
Keep calm and watch X-Men. Because it blows the mind.

Keep calm and choose Happy. Yes, CHOOSE it.

Keep calm and put your phone away, play with your kids. Without a doubt one of the more important things parents could do for their kids – be present.

Keep calm and write some. It will free you.

Keep calm and eat more. :)

Keep calm during fights. Even though it is easier said than done. I fight with very few people in my life - Siddharth, my mom, my sister and my brother. My Dad never does any wrong, ever. But when I fight I am NOT calm. I have a loooooooooong way to go.

Keep calm and bake some. Cake. Cupcakes. Brownies. Pizza. Anything.

Keep calm and eat French  Macarons. They are special. I have been craving me some macarons for two months now. If Sprungli can't come to me, then it is about time I make some!

Keep calm and climb a mountain. Summer’s here. There are few excuses.

Keep calm and close your eyes, open your mind, let yourself soar. Because you owe it to yourself.

Keep calm and love your family. That’s life.

Keep calm and rock it. Because you are awesome.

Keep calm and do something for the first time. Because that’s a high.

Keep calm and plan a trip. Because planning is half the fun.

Keep calm and learn to swim. Well, I am normally not calm during this one.

Keep calm and read a book. Even if it puts you to sleep.

Keep calm and run around the house with your kids for no good reason. Because there is a method in this madness.

Keep calm and stay fantastic. Of course. What else.

Keep calm and help someone. Even if we have a thousand of our needs in front of us.

Keep calm and say you care. Because it will make someone’s day.

Keep calm and dance with two left feet. Because it is liberating.

Keep calm and watch Ironman. Because you must.

Keep calm and let go. Well, I am not good at this one either.

Keep calm and stop the bullies. STOP.

Keep calm it is just a dog. Seriously.

Keep calm and hug on. Samaira taught us this.

Keep calm and follow Yoda. He is The Yoda.

Keep calm and sing a song. Even if it is in the shower.

Keep calm and accept people. Even if doesn’t seem natural.

Keep calm and smile on. Because it improves your blood pressure, eyesight, health in general. Whatever. Just smile even if there is no reason to.

Keep calm and enjoy a meal. Even if it is accompanied with toddler drama.

Keep calm and just be yourself. Yes. Just. Be. Yourself.

The point is, life will give you a lot of reasons to not be calm. But just be calm. Find your own reason to be calm and happy. If you don't have a reason then make one up. But just be calm and happy. Sometimes I want to cry and yell and be upset and run away. But those are the days I tell myself to calm down because it really is worth it. There are some things that push me over the edge and I find it hard to reach the calm. But for the most part, being a mom is teaching me to be a little calmer every day.

I was telling myself to be calm here...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Live the journey

I am not sure how old I was at that time, maybe 10 or 12 years old, but I very distinctly remember the reason I first wanted to grow my hair out. I wanted to know the feeling of having my braid fall over my shoulder. That’s it. That was the reason. That was my goal. Braid falling over my shoulder. The feeling. I know it is a weird goal and a totally random reason to grow my hair.  So at some point I decided to not cut my hair any longer and let it grow. I took great care of it and did everything that is supposed to improve hair growth. When my hair did grow enough to make a braid and fall over my shoulder, I forgot to “experience that feeling.” I forgot my goal even when I achieved it, but to this day I remember everything I did to achieve that goal.

Here is what happens to me when I am hungry. More often than not, I am so hungry that I don’t enjoy the process of cooking. My entire focus is on quickly putting some food in my belly. I have realized that when I am not over focused on my goal of eating, I do actually enjoy cooking a lot. I enjoy the process of getting ingredients together to make something yum. But that requires me to shift my focus from eating to cooking.

The point is – reaching a certain goal is typically a moment-in-time joy, which, while I hugely value, is drastically different from the joy of being on the journey itself. I do feel that most of my life I have vastly exaggerated the value of destination in my head. I sometimes tend to focus on the destination and success so much that it prevents me from enjoying the journey. The reality, however, is that I do remember instances during which I have enjoyed the journey just as much as, and maybe more than, reaching the goal itself. And those memories are priceless.

What makes this over-emphasis on the final destination worse is the extreme focus on success and leadership. We are hardwired to succeed. To lead. We are taught to value victory and leadership. We are all trying to be successful and be leaders. I often wonder why we don’t talk more about failing and following.

I am secretly (and openly) afraid of failing. I fear failing an interview, a game, a recipe, a relationship, anything. I think of failing as a big setback and something that I never ever want to face. The way I want to start thinking about failure is a step-in-the-way of my journey. Failure is never the end. Not for me. Not for anyone. I am not being extra brave by saying that failure is just a stepping stone and not the end of the world. Because everyone says it. Everyone wants to believe in it. But what I am doing by reminding myself right from the very beginning of ‘failure being a stepping stone,’ is allowing myself to be fearless, be brave, and truly enjoy the journey that I am on. If I consider failure to be just another step then I suddenly feel lighter. My intent is not to get rid of accountability by any means. It is just so I can get a fresh perspective on things that are truly important.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege to study and work among the brightest and the smartest. The one quality that everyone seems to be talking about is leadership. While leadership is a great quality to have and nurture, we nearly don’t talk enough about following. I am by no means trying to diss leaders and leadership. But I do think that the focus on being good leaders has to accompany with being able to follow right.  The reason I am over thinking this aspect of being is because I sometimes wonder about what I would like to instill in my little people. And I am rather convinced that I want them to value and be proud of their failures as much as their success because it indicates their devotion, determination and the strength to try. I want them to value following as much as, if not more than, leading because it indicates the discipline and the attitude that it takes to achieve something while being humble and mature. So yes. Succeed but value failures. Lead but value following.

Allowing myself the freedom to follow and fail has allowed me to enjoy my journey in a way that I haven’t before. This joy of my journey is absolutely priceless.

Well, so far so lovely.

Now let me contradict what I just said. While it is so enjoyable to go through the journey and not hype up the destination, life will bring you at the intersection of journey and destination where you might have to choose the latter. One such intersection for us has been sleep training our kids. It is hard as hell. We are having to do this out of compulsion because there are times when Siddharth has to travel and I am with both the kids. The hardest thing for me during those times is putting Samaira and Rehan to sleep when they are extremely sleepy and cranky but want to keep waking each other up. We question our decision to sleep train, and not sleep train every single day. We are totally confused about the right thing to do. And I sure wish I could get to the final result of sleep-training without having to go through the process of it! This is surely a time when I am not enjoying the journey as I will the destination. Such is the dilemma of being a parent.

So, for everything except for sleep training, I sure hope I live the journey. Destination is so overrated!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

My happy dance

Sometimes we associate a specific moment, or a specific image, or a specific song with a very specific memory, even though that thing may have little or no resemblance to the memory itself. I hope I am making sense. Because it happens to me a lot.

This evening when all four of us sat in the car to go to a park, I looked in the back seat and saw Samaira looking back at me. In that very moment, I am not sure if it was her eyes or her lips, but something conveyed to me the innocence that lives inside her. That got me thinking how kids are genuinely very innocent at this age. Some kids are naughty and some are not. But people are genuine at this age. Things like biting, snatching, yelling, sneaking are prevalent amongst kids of all age and sizes. But presence of all these traits is not the absence of innocence. What kids feel is what they say or do. Even their slyness is surrounded by certain purity. So when I saw that look of innocence in Samaira’s eyes, I almost gasped and told Siddharth “Isn’t this age just perfection? Kids are so innocent. They don’t harbor negative feelings for anyone. What they have in their hearts is on their lips, or in their actions. I wish I could be a two year old again and be that way even now.” Siddharth responded rather quickly “But I am like that even now.” I couldn't help but tell him "That's because you never grew up." While he said what he did with a little bit of a grin and both of us chuckled and laughed it off, we both know what he said is absolutely true. Siddharth is one of the most genuine and authentic people I have ever met. He is honest, genuine, raw, authentic, and definitely not made-up. He loves his family and friends absolutely unconditionally. He does not love people any less even if they are not being kind (and sometimes that is a euphemism) to him. I don’t know how he does it because I know I cannot do it. Anyway. The point is, I wish I could get that innocence again but I am rather far removed that 2 year old self and not sure if I can ever be that way. And the bigger point is that the happiness and joy of a toddler’s mind can’t be anything but pure. I did a little bit of a happy dance in my heart as this realization hit me.

And now I will associate "me siting in the front seat and looking back at both the kiddos in the back seat" with this conversation about childhood innocence. Forever. Literally.

So while I don’t necessarily have the pure heart of a two year old, I do have the heart to appreciate that purity. And I do have the heart to soak it in.

Here are some other things that made me do a happy dance this week.

Early morning “good mornings” & hugs.

Homemade granola for a good hearty breakfast.

A sunny day.

A sunny day in the park.

Playing in the park under the sun.

A lot of swing time. A little bit of slide time. A little bit of see-saw.

A lot more sun.

And voila – this is how awesome gets to meet fantastic! Here’s to many more happy dances this summer!