Tag Archives: dreams

Signs I Can’t Ignore Anymore…

As my long-term subbing assignment was nearing its end, I was plagued with questions about what I would do with my time. My future lay ahead of me, glimmering with innumerable possibilities, enough to confuse and confound me.

One day I walked into the classroom and was told that it was author day at the school. A famous children’s author was going to give a talk for most of the morning. I did not think much of it. Even thought that I should have simply taken the day off, for there wasn’t much work to do, except sit in the old gym and listen to a man talk about his books. Anyway, I was already there, so I simply followed the class to the gym and settled down to listen to whatever he had to say.

The author, Paul Owen Lewis lives in Washington and is a very gifted orator. A few minutes into his talk, he had all of us spellbound and hanging on to every word he uttered. He didn’t always know he wanted to be a writer. He practically stumbled upon a writing career when he was a substitute teacher in a local school. They had an author day at that school – you can imagine what was going through my head – this is no coincidence! He thought it was pretty cool to write books. Paul loved to draw and was pretty darned good at it. The author spoke about different ways to write stories. All stories did not have to start with words he said and this struck a chord with Paul. He loved telling stories through his illustrations. The rest is history. He now stood before us as a famous published author of children’s picture books.

He also compared the process of writing to putting the pieces of a puzzle together. You may only have a few pieces to start with but you can always find connections and link the pieces together. The idea appealed to me. Thinking that I needed a logical story line that flowed from one scene to another from beginning to end kept me going around in circles. In the planning stages nobody has the complete story or knows how to put it together. I only had a bunch of disorganized ideas. I had to put them down on paper and try and connect the pieces and add details to my story.

The morning session ended and I saw some teachers and students go up to the author, talk to him and pepper him with questions. Something within me was urging me to go talk to him but I quietly followed the kids back to class. A few minutes later I was back in the teachers lounge taking my lunch break. I was almost done when the author walked in. He smiled and asked if he could sit at my table. I nodded. I told him how much I enjoyed his talk and also added that the kids loved it. I blurted out everything about my dream to be a published author. He listened quietly and good-naturedly answered my questions while trying to chew his meal.

I knew wannabe authors like myself probably run up to him all the time asking for favors, tips and publishers’ contact details. Maybe that was the reason I did not approach him in the old gym. But when he sat by me at the table, I could not hold myself back anymore.

I knew this was a colossal nudge from the Universe. The term ‘in your face’ comes to my mind. I have seen signs before, subtle, faint, quiet whispers or visions that were sometimes hard to decode. But this time around the Universe gave me direct and perfectly clear orders. It didn’t get more direct than this. Or so I thought until later in the week another sign showed up. I was talking to a new friend I had made, who had just started reading my blog. She really liked the way I wrote and just like that out-of-the-blue suggested that I should write a book. She even mentioned an Indian author who grew famous through her blog and then ended up writing so many best-selling novels. I had heard of this author and even read her blog. I had even harbored this silly idea that if she could do it so could I.

Anyways, that’s what it always remains – a silly idea. I might get all fired up to write a scene here or a scene there or research a few publishers. Or follow an author’s blog as he tracks his word count and daily writing process. But soon enough the fire dies out and my enthusiasm flags. I just felt like I did not have the juice to see this thing to the finish.

The very next day, the Universe deciding that it was not done with me, but definitely done with my excuses, set-up this chat session with my cousin S. She is an aspiring writer between jobs, mulling about her future. Coincidence you say? I think not!

She said to me – I spoke to my cousin yesterday and he told me to write a book. I gasped at the impossibility of what I was reading. Those of you who were with me from the beginning know that I wrote my first ever blog entry after talking to my cousin. He asked me to write and some force outside of me took possession of me and before I knew it I had written and published a note on Facebook. In two months I had my own blog and three years later I still have so much to say – something I had never imagined possible!

Three years later the Universe wanted to remind me of that leap of faith, to get out of my own way and just do it. Just write and see where it takes you. Don’t worry about selling the book even before you type it up.

Paul Owen Lewis said to me – if you are looking to make money or become famous, don’t do it! For me it is more than that. It is about reaching out and touching someone else. It is about sharing life’s ups and downs and knowing you are not alone. So I’m going to do it and I know I am not alone because my cousin and every one of you reading this will be cheering me on much like you did ever since I started my blog. And for you – yes you! I am very grateful.

 

 

 

The Illusion of Time

Time waits for no man and yet we spend our lifetimes waiting for something to come along so we can finally live our lives the way we imagined it. Time becomes our enemy, robs us of peace, health and happiness and keeps us prisoners of hope.

The clock ticks on incessantly – each tick taking us closer to our mortal end. Each tick making us anxious and worried – is it here yet? When will it arrive? When can I finally have it all?

For some of us it is a life long struggle to find the right partner. Hits and misses. Heartbreaks. Failure to commit. Infidelity. Broken promises. Sometimes even divorce. We end up thinking we are broken and need to be fixed. Or we come to the conclusion that we are meant to walk alone on this journey. And yet something tugs at our heartstrings. This need to share this life and love another human being burns in our heart- a feeling that never goes away. For some it comes easy and others have to wait longer than they can imagine. But if the heart longs for a partner believe me it will materialize – in time. Don’t buy into the lies that you grew up hearing. If you wait until your 30s or 40s to get married, all the good guys are taken! What a lot of baloney that is! Getting married early has it’s pros but if you want to be really clear about what you want from a partner I think that sort of clarity only comes when you are older. Men too mellow down and realize good looks and a great body aren’t the only things that matter.

For others a partner comes along quite early and their fairy tale begins. They settle into a new life, roam the world, throw themselves into their careers. Until they wake up one fine morning and decide they want to have kids but due to some ugly twist of fate, they can’t. Again time is working against them. This time biological clocks are ticking loudly and maliciously. Time is running out. Couples go through a lot of physical and emotional pain to have babies. And yet a miracle is always in the works. Some wait for a decade or more before they are blessed with a baby. Is it the fruit of a thousand prayers? Faith? Absolute surrender? I’d say all of the above.

And then there are others like me who get lucky with finding a husband and having kids. But my career eluded me. I fooled myself (like the single folks) into thinking I was happy being a stay-at-home mom (single in their case) for the rest of my life! But that nagging doubt in my heart would drive me crazy with sadness every once in a while. Now for me the long wait has ended. 11 years of being unemployed. Without getting a pay check. Feeling like a total loser. Feeling dumb. Like I was worth nothing at all.  All those years I spent bored, sad, my self esteem teetering on low, seem so insignificant. Like a tiny blot on the vast expanse of my life. Like a distant memory of a past life.

But before I could change the course of my life, I had to feel good about myself. I had to stop beating myself up for not being the career woman I dreamed I would be. There was work to be done in the world and I went out and did it. Even if it didn’t pay. At least I felt like I could contribute something and that it was appreciated. My confidence levels slowly rose. I attracted helpful friends into my life who nudged me in the right direction. I started looking inside of myself for guidance and answers. The work I do now is not what I thought I would be doing. I thought I’d work for a magazine or write a column for a newspaper. But I’m a blogger (how did that ever happen?). I thought I’d make money as a blogger. I was wrong again. The work I do has nothing to do with writing and yet it is very satisfying. Even though I don’t have a degree in that field, being a mom and volunteering at schools landed me my current job.

So when I look back at the (then) puzzling events in my life, they make perfect sense (now). Everything I did in the past was in perfect order and brought me to right where I was supposed to be. There were no mistakes. It felt like time was standing still, like I had missed the opportunity and that I was destined for more of the same. But on every account I was wrong.

So when you finally arrive at your destination you forget the long grueling uphill climb, all the missteps and falls. The whole experience of finally getting what you always wanted transforms you. And after waiting for something as long as I have, I don’t have the time to dwell on the past. I’m too busy enjoying the realization of my dream. If you do that time loses its power over you. And that is the secret. Lose yourself in what you are experiencing now. Go with the flow. Trust that you will arrive at your dream destination. Time is just created by the mind to make us feel small and mortal. Rise above it and even the longest wait will seem insignificantly small.

Blogging: My Road to Self Discovery

I still can’t believe I’m a blogger. I knew writing was in my soul but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine owning a blog. It was my cousin who led me down that path and before I knew it I had a website and was doling out my existential angst and advice by the bucketfuls. Here’s what a year of blogging taught me.

The First Step is the Hardest

I know that’s a cliche and has been done to death but anyone who ever had a major breakthrough in life would shout it out from the roof tops. The first blog I ever wrote and published as a note on Facebook was totally on a impulse. I didn’t fret about it and plan for months in advance. I just sat down and typed it all up in less than an hour and then published it. If I hadn’t taken that risk I wouldn’t be a blogger today.

Something Better

You get what you ask for or something better. I didn’t ask to be a blogger. In 2011 I was looking for writing gigs and met with no luck. At one point in my life I even questioned my ability to find a job – any job! I applied for jobs at banks, day care centers and preschools. I finally got a part-time job at a Kumon Center. It wasn’t my dream job but I felt I still had something to offer. Like I wasn’t worthless. A month later I had to quit and stay home because my daughter broke her arm. I was back to square one. I had no time to feel sorry for myself because my daughter needed me 24/7. A few months later I started blogging and a couple of months after that I had my own website! Now if I could only get paid to share my opinions!

Walk your Talk

It’s easy to give advice. Ever tried following your own advice? I couldn’t write about “Living Fearlessly” and be afraid of driving (outside my comfort zone) or salons anymore. I couldn’t preach about the universe and “Signs from Above” while I ignored all the signs that were appearing in my life. I had to align my life to be in sync with everything I believed. I had to live the life I was telling everybody about. Since writing the post on fear I’ve taken the wheel when we went on road trips and made two trips to the salon!

The Bigger Plan

In hindsight, there was nothing accidental about becoming a blogger. The Universe was nudging me all along. When I was foolish enough to question it, alarming and unmistakeable evidence presented itself.  It showed me that I was just an instrument and a higher purpose was being fulfilled through the blog. Case in point – my post “Love Never Dies”. I wrote it and didn’t publish it. The very same night my brother wrote to me saying his friend had lost her father. She used to read my posts and find comfort so he asked if  I could suggest one to help her grieve. I published the post and sent my brother a link. This has happened more than once. What can I say?  I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I’m deeply grateful to be given this opportunity.

Expansion and Connection

The most rewarding thing about blogging is connecting with like-minded people. My experiences are not unique in that atleast a dozen other people have been through the same thing. The more I blog the less lonely I feel. I have kids, a spouse, neighbors and friends. Yet a part of me always felt lonely. The part that stayed under wraps for far too long. It’s this part that finds solace through my blog. The sensitive soul, yo-yo optimist, facebook activist and the many other sides of me that people never get to see. The parts of me that I am no longer ashamed of because through my blog I can reach out to some who can totally relate to my different avatars!

Blogging vs Venting

Blogging got me into the habit of writing every day or writing without the intent of posting. Why is this important? Because I almost ended up using my blog as a place to vent. By journaling regularly I could weed out stuff that wasn’t blog material even though it was cleverly disguised! It also got me into the habit of keeping a prayer/gratitude journal. This one habit has transformed my life.

It’s no surprise to me that my first post was “Experimenting with Miracles”. My blog is a little miracle to me even today!It has sown many seeds near and far. Seeds of magic, hope and possibility. It reminds me that miracles happen every day, we just have to believe!

The Chennai Chronicles – Part 1 (Spirit Guides and Signs)

P and I had been meaning to visit our parents in Chennai since the summer of 2012. But visa issues prevented us from making the trip. My cousin G was getting married in December and I really wanted to be there. It was November when our visa papers came through but booking tickets to India in the last minute and in the peak season meant paying a small fortune. So I prayed for a miracle. We got tickets for a decent price but had only a few weeks to pack, shop and get ready for a month long visit to India.

I was apprehensive about this trip. Chennai never felt the same after my grandma passed away and our last trip was so chaotic that I just wanted to get back home to the U.S. What if this trip was the same? My worry made me physically sick. I had a bad cough that wouldn’t go away even after a round of antibiotics. I was weak and listless. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday trying to help my daughter finish her project work and science experiments. My husband was busy shopping. I had no energy to shop but had to drag myself to Kohl’s for the Black Friday sale. I had to get the wedding gifts.

December came by and saw me feeling better physically, but fear was gnawing at my heart. Will I survive a month in Chennai? Will the mosquitoes eat my kids alive? And worst of all how can I stay there without my Dadima?

And then she came to me in a dream. She was sitting up on her bed, in her room. A quiet smile of reassurance playing on her lips. Almost like she was saying – I’m here for you. You have nothing to fear. And next to her sitting on a chair was Doreen Virtue! I have no clue what she was doing in my dream!

The fear melted away and I was confident that this trip was going to be magical from the get go. True enough the rest of my week was filled with rainbows, pennies, number patterns and other good omens.

We had to catch an early flight from Orlando to JFK. We were up at 2.00 a.m. and then headed off to the airport by 3.00. While we were waiting in line to clear the security check, I saw a girl holding a beautiful golden trophy with an angel on it. I was deliriously happy and I knew we’d fly to Chennai on the wings of an angel!

In JFK my son found a penny and right after that we got stuck at the security checkpoint. The TSA wanted to open one of our boxes. I grew apprehensive as I waited with my kids. I quickly started praying and asked my kids to do the same. My son said to me – Ma we just found a penny. I was bemused by my 7-year old’s wisdom. I quickly stopped fretting and turned around to see my husband walking towards us.

When I was in Chennai my brother gave me a book to read – The Small Book of Miracles. It had several short anecdotes about divine intervention and signs. (See http://punctuatelife.com/2012/04/18/a-sign-from-above/). So like I said in that post, pennies are a sign from above. But for the first time I realized why. The book said – look at what is written on a penny. It says ‘In God We Trust’. I had not paid attention to that before. But I had always wondered why a penny? Why not a quarter or a dime or a nickel? Now I know why! Next time you find a penny, pick it up with reverence and thank God for it. It is a powerful sign of reassurance and comfort that only your highest good will come through.

I was talking about my grandma to an old friend of Dad’s who was quite close to her. I was telling him how she remembered every birthday and sent cards ahead of time so it would reach us in the U.S. The last card she sent was for Nitin’s birthday before she passed away on February 3rd. The card never reached us. All I have is a tattered envelope with her writing on it and an apology note from the USPS for losing the mail. Little did they know how precious that card was. I wept over this tragic incident for a long time.

It so happened that Nitin’s birthday fell during our stay in Chennai. As happy as I was to spend it with both our families, I missed my grandma and wished she was also part of the celebration. I woke up that morning and stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth. On the sink I saw a stamp with Indira Gandhi’s face on it. My grandma adored the first female Prime Minister of India and they shared the same name. Later I opened the newspaper to find a whole page on Indira Gandhi and also her picture. It still did not occur to me that my grandma was trying to tell me something.

At the end of the day I was drawn to a pile of books and papers and as I shuffled through them I found a card from my grandmother. It was an anniversary card and she had written on it, congratulating us on the birth of Anjali. I got the message loud and clear. I turned to Nitin and told him that Dadima was wishing him a very happy birthday!

At my cousin’s wedding I spoke to my aunt and she suddenly started talking about guardian angels. She said our loved ones are our guardian angels. Like Dadi was mine. My heart fluttered with joy to hear these words. I knew it was true but to hear it from someone else simply confirmed my beliefs.

Some say it is wrong to call on your loved ones once they have crossed over. But I think in my case my grandma has chosen to be with me and I feel blessed to have her blessings and her guidance. You see love knows no boundaries. This time when I left Chennai, a piece of me stayed behind.

More about my Chennai trip in Part 2. Happy 2013 everyone.

A Place to Call Home…

Where is this elusive place called home? It seems like I’ve been searching for it all my life. Growing up, I had two homes. I spent the early part of my childhood with my grandma, missing the company of my brother and hoping to live with my parents. My teenage years I spent with my parents and for the most part it felt like home. But I always knew I couldn’t live there forever. Marriage loomed large and I couldn’t shake off the uncertainty that came with it. Would I still live in Chennai or would I move to a different city in India? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d move to another country. A country so far away that you had to take two planes and travel across many time zones to get there!

That’s when the sickness began. This homesickness. But I think it was always there. This feeling of not belonging and wanting to be somewhere else. In the hope that ‘somewhere else’ would fill the gaping hole in my heart. But it never did. Some people can make a home anywhere and be happy anywhere. I do envy them. One friend said to me, “Where ever I am is home.” Wish I could say that!

Sometimes I think this whole alien conspiracy theory is true. Maybe I’m actually an alien from another planet who got left behind during a mission. They must have scrambled my memory because I have no idea who I am! There are days when people and the world makes no sense to me. I’m completely spaced out so to speak.

Then again maybe I have a memory of another lifetime when things were simple. When people mattered more than things or money. When mother earth was not taken for granted and everyone shared her bountiful resources. Maybe that’s the thing I’m missing. Maybe home no longer feels like home – a safe haven where you can be yourself and nurture yourself.  Everything seems to have changed since I last visited. Much like the city I grew up in – Chennai. Every time I go there something has changed – new buildings, 10,000 new cars, people everywhere. So much so that the very vibe of the city has changed and it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up.

Going home, for me,  is just a matter of booking tickets and boarding the right plane. Many others face the grim reality of never being able to go home or fearing for their safety when they travel to their homeland. One friend booked her tickets two weeks prior to the turmoil that erupted in her country. Now she fears for her family and would lose a lot of money if she cancels her tickets. My heart goes out to her. She just wants what I want – to spend the holidays with her family. I do hope and pray she can make it there safely and back.

For us going to India involves tackling visa issues, traffic, mosquitoes and the heat (in the summer). Our lives are not threatened nor our freedoms compromised. I did call this place home but over the years all the changes in me and in India make it feel less like home. The sad truth is no other place I’ve lived in feels even close to what Chennai felt like.

When I close my eyes and let my imagination fly, I can see that place. That place I would delight in calling home. The land is green. The people are smiling. Food is abundant. The smell of fresh earth mingles with the aroma of fresh vegetables stewing on a stove top. Children laugh and play. People come together and celebrate life everyday. They share and love and grow. Learn and teach. Worry and fear are alien emotions. Lack and disease, unheard of. Maybe I’m dreaming of Utopia. Maybe Utopia is the home I’m yearning for. And my quest continues…