Tag Archives: gratitude

Being Grateful When You Don’t Feel Like It.

 

It’s hard to remember to be grateful when things are going well. Now being grateful when your whole life is falling apart? That’s just impossible, right?

And no my life is not falling apart, though I like to pretend it is every time the temperature drops below zero. Subzero temperatures here in Seattle have pushed me over the edge. Lucky for you that I started blogging in Florida and not Boston – or half my posts would have been dead and dreary like a New England winter!

So here are 5 things I am thankful for even though the cold has kept me indoors today.

1. Liberty to Stay Indoors

As a substitute I can choose to work or not to work. Some of my duties involve being outside and I found out early this year that 50 degrees F is as far as I can go. I accepted an assignment at the front desk and hardly had to step outside the building! I was praying for a permanent job but this week I’m so happy to be a substitute with a choice to stay home.

2. Grateful for My Car

The other day we were driving someplace and I saw some folks waiting at the bus stop. They either didn’t have a car or didn’t know how to drive (this part of the state has a huge population of fresh immigrants). I am so grateful for my license and a car that is in good working condition. I don’t have to commute in the cold or wait at bus stops to get to work.

3. Grateful for My Husband

My husband works and provides for us so I don’t necessarily have to work to support the family. I get assignments all over the district and if I don’t know how to get to a certain place, he drops me off, picks up my daughter and picks me up when I am done. After a long day he even helps with the dishes and some cooking. Behind any working woman (who retains her sanity) is a caring and supportive husband and I am grateful for mine.

4. Grateful for Sunshine

Fresh from the sunshine state of Florida, I do a little happy dance or yelp in glee when the sun comes out. So this week even with the temperature below zero, the sun has made its appearance every single day – very uncharacteristic weather for Seattle. I think I haven’t run out of my little bottle of sunshine from Florida – yet! So grateful for the sun this week.

5. Warm Neighbors Brighten up any Weather

I am blessed with a wonderful group of ladies in my community that make it a point to meet at least once a week, to chat over a cup of masala chai. The cold is easier to bear in such warm and comforting company. Tea with these ladies is the highlight of my week. So grateful for them.

There that wasn’t so hard. No matter what is going on in your life I urge you to look for the silver lining, the positive, something, anything and share it with us. Wishing you warmth, love and many things to be grateful for this year.

On Gratitude and Giving

This is one of my favorite topics, so forgive me if I keep rehashing it and presenting it in yet another blog to you. Drawing from my earlier post on nature versus nurture, I had the good fortune of knowing three very generous ladies. Two of them were my grandmothers and one was my ‘adopted’ grandmother. My Dadima (dad’s mom) was a businesswoman and she did really well selling cooking gas to households and hotels. Ganga (my adopted grandmother) lived with her and took care of the home, the dogs, the garden and cooking. My Mutasshi (my mom’s mom) lived in the quiet village of Viakkom in Kerala with my grandpa, who was retired. They lived off his small pension and some money they made by selling coconuts, cashews and other things that my grandpa grew in his huge backyard.

Although they all had different incomes, they were infinitely compassionate. People would come to them, steeped in debt or unable to shoulder an unexpected expense and the money was given. My Mutasshi has gone as far as pledging her gold chain to help a maid. Ganga denied herself a home and paid a huge sum towards a loved one’s home. Dadima has married off some of the younger maids and provided utensils and other things they needed to set up a home. This blog is too small to share their acts of generosity. Suffice to say that at both my grandmas’ funerals, strangers came to us weeping and relating stories of their compassion and altruism.

Give to receive. I learnt this lesson when I was still a schoolgirl. Riding a bus back home one day, I sat next to a gray-haired lady of somewhat frugal means. She was short of 25 paisa (equivalent to a quarter) and the rude conductor was yelling at her. I quickly fished out some change and thrust it into the conductor’s hand. He muttered and withdrew to his seat.

A few days later, I didn’t have change for five rupees and the conductor (not the same one) refused to take it and give me change. I pleaded with him but he told me to get off at the next stop. I was nearly in tears. One lady overheard the whole thing and asked me how much the fare was. I told her and she quietly extracted the coins from her purse and gave it to the conductor. Karma or pay back! What else can I say!

When I was still in school I would look for ways to help and had a mental checklist. If I helped someone I said to myself – you have done your good deed for today! Growing up meant burying all of this in the whole money-making, getting ahead in life and succeeding craziness that we all buy into. How right we are as kids, with our hearts in the right place. And then we unlearn all of heaven’s wisdom and replace it with a worldliness so nonsensical to become grown -ups! Our intellects expand but our hearts shrink.

Gratitude means different things in different cultures. In some cultures a simple thank you is enough. In Japan, one way of expressing gratitude is to say that you are indebted to the other person and owe them a favor. They don’t stop at just lip service. They actually go out of their way to help the other person – sometimes more than once. In some cultures this kind of generosity may be taken advantage of.

Acts of kindness have a ripple effect beyond the giver and receiver. The gift of gratitude keeps on giving. It all adds up in your karmic record and comes bounding back in heaps and loads, when you least expect it.

If life is not going well for you right now and you are not receiving all that you are wishing for, stop and find ways to give. Give exactly what you need to receive and watch the magic happen. Just the act of selfless giving creates joy in your life. And being in a state of joy helps. It attracts good things to you and possibly the very thing you were missing will show up.

Another way of doing it, is to be grateful for what you have every single day instead of harping on what’s missing. Gratitude was the one thing that turned my life around, followed by giving. So when I wasn’t getting any calls for interviews, I jumped back into volunteering. After my first meeting with other volunteers, I came home and found an e-mail from the school district asking if I was still interested in the job I had applied for! Later someone from a staffing company called me and told me she was interested in hiring me. What more proof can I give you? Gratitude and giving open the flood doors to great gifts. Give and you shall receive. And when you receive, don’t forget to send a thank you note. I highly recommend keeping a stash of thank you notes in your stationery drawer. You never know when you will need one.

Have you experienced the boomerang effect of giving in your life? Do share your stories.

A Heart Full of Gratitude

It is with utmost joy that I write (and now type) this post. A long awaited dream of mine has come true. Roll back to the second post I wrote (The Work Saga –http://punctuatelife.com/2012/02/13/the-work-saga/) and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I got a job! A real job! One that pays!

It’s been less than a month but I can’t keep it from the world any longer. No it’s not a writing job. It’s not even a full time job. But it’s just what I need. Part of me was always apprehensive about going to work and leaving the kids in daycare. I’m so used to being there for them when they get back from school that it was inconceivable to me to hand that responsibility to someone else.

Yet part of me craved for a job, for independence and even the companionship of colleagues. This I partially fulfilled by doing volunteer work at the school. The volunteer work (200 something hours spent cutting and gluing, helping with centers, buying supplies) finally paid off and landed me this job.

So at this job, I get to keep the kids with me, the hours work for me and my volunteer work helped me snag this job. I’ll keep you guessing while I go over my long list of things I’m immensely grateful for in my life. It goes without saying that I’m infinitely grateful for this job. I’m blessed to have two little angels for kids. They make each waking day a joy for me. From whiny, cranky, needy babies they have grown to be solid, sound and responsible little kids. I’m in awe of these little wonders that I helped bring into the world.

I’m thankful for an awesome husband who has made my life comfortable and easy. I live an almost stress-free lifestyle thanks to him – he bears the burden of providing for the family, paying the bills, planning for the future. I know he will take care of even the tiniest detail and that we are safe and secure under his wing.

I’m thankful for my family – my parents, brother, in-laws and my adopted Grandma (Ganga). We had the good fortune of celebrating my father-in-law’s 80th birthday with him. Thank you for all your prayers, support and good wishes over the years. A special thank you to my awesome brother who keeps giving me feedback about my blog and doing a lot of PR for me.

I’m thankful for my friends who swoop down to my rescue when family cannot. Without you guys I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Your support and encouragement over the years has built my confidence, has reminded me when I have forgotten who I am and what I am capable of. A special thank you to my bosom friend N for always finding time to comfort me, praying incessantly for me and my family (like her own) and above all for believing in me when I did not believe in myself.

My dear friend S tied the knot this year and I’m so happy for her. When you have a friend you have known from the cradle, you can’t help but want her to be happy and settled (not just money-wise or career-wise but also partner-wise). So I’m thankful that she finally found her soul mate and is starting to live her happily ever after.

I’m thankful that we finally got our green card (this summer) after years of waiting. I’m also very thankful that I got to see fall colors this year after a long time. I’m thankful for good weather out here in Florida (snow is really not my thing). Thankful for food on our table. Thankful for good people in my life. Thankful for every reader (secret ones too) and subscribers. Thankful for my blog. Thankful for my pet fish. Thankful for miles and miles of beaches. Thankful for my little garden and the flowers blooming outside. Thankful for electricity and running water. Thankful for a warm and cozy home. Thankful for Mother Earth. Thankful for sunshine and rain. Thankful for laughter, good health and joy and I wish you all the same. Have a happy Thanksgiving y’all.

The Chennai Chronicles – Part 4 (Family and Final Week)

My four-part travelogue will not be complete without mentioning my wonderful family and the good times we had together. My parents and in-laws live in Chennai and that makes life easy for us…or not! My trip to Chennai in 2011 was spent shunting between the two houses! This time we had a better plan and we actually implemented it. It also helped that both my Dad and father-in-law were in good health this time.

December happens to be kutcheri season and several musicians and dancers flock to Chennai for the Music Festival. My daughter learns music and we thought we should take her to a concert (kutcheri). So on New Year’s eve we were at Narada Gana Sabha nodding our heads to Sudha Ragunathan’s beautiful rendition of Thyagaraja and Papanasam Sivan’s compositions. As a bonus we got to see a Bharatanatyam performance by two very graceful ladies (whose names I forget!). We also sampled the food at the canteen, which, according to my friend A, is the highlight of the Music Festival. She was right – the aapam and vada curry and the rava dosai were to die for!

The next day we were up early and ready for our road trip to Mahabalipuram, a very touristy place just outside of Chennai. It’s known for its beautiful rock temples with intricate carvings dating back to the Pallava dynasty. There were rocks to climb, caves to explore and wells to peep into. The kids enjoyed it, although it was an awfully hot day and there was not much shade. We then stopped by Fisherman’s cove for lunch. The kids couldn’t wait to run into the beach and we had to force them to stay till they cleaned their plates. Then they headed into the water with their grandma in tow. After dinner at Ashoka we headed back home.

My Dad returned from Kerala with my grandma, Ganga. It was wonderful to see her. She looked healthy and happy. She lives at the Shivananda Ashram now and loves it. She has a place to herself, healthy fresh food and she gets to chant the Lord’s name everyday. What more could you ask for?  I asked her to stay on till N’s birthday, so we could all celebrate together. It’s the second time that his birthday happened to be during our stay in India. The first time really didn’t count because both my kids were terribly ill and we couldn’t do much.

My cousin G’s mom sent a chocolate cake for N’s birthday. We cut it on the 7th and on the 8th we all went out for lunch at Eden. So N had a 48-hour birthday! How you ask? Well, his d.o.b. is the 7th and according to his star sign (nakshatra in the lunar calendar) his birthday was on the 8th. He wanted a RC car for his birthday. He also got an X-Box game and some clothes. His grandpa made a special payasam (sweet dish) for him. But the best treat of all was getting to celebrate it with his grandparents, his uncle and Ganga!

The next day Ganga left for Kerala along with Dad and we got busy packing for our trip back. It was with heavy hearts that we said our goodbyes, but with hopes of coming back soon, so we could do it all over again.

To our families – we miss you and greatly appreciate all that you did (the long trips, the amazing food and the crazy shopping) to make this trip a memorable one. Love you tonnes!

Don’t Forget to Count Your Blessings

Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done… I remember singing this song in school and never really paying attention to the words and the powerful truth hidden in them. The power of gratitude was something alien to me, since I spent most of my life taking things for granted and whining about the things I didn’t have.

It’s easy to take things for granted, even things you really struggled to bring into your life (if you are not careful).  Just happened to me a few weeks ago. Remember it took me a long long time to get my driver’s license and how thankful I was for it? It has only been two years and I have shamelessly forgotten the time, effort and emotional trauma that went into getting one. It has been such a gift. A gift of independence. A gift of confidence. A gift of convenience. I get a taste of what it is like to not be able to drive every time I go to India. God am I thankful for my driving privileges!

Sometimes when I crib about all the work I have to do around the house, I forget all the work my husband does. Like paying the bills, keeping the cars (even the one I drive) in top condition, buying groceries and doing dishes when I’m sick or the kids are sick and I have my hands full. Thank you God for a loving and caring spouse who has got my back 24/7.

This week had me battling a sore throat and hacking cough. I do take my good health for granted and this was a reminder to take better care of myself. Thank you God for 51 weeks of good health and thank you for my wonderful neighbor who hastened to send hot rasam to soothe my throat and warm my heart.

I have been blogging for nearly a year now and I remember how happy and grateful I was for the blog. And I’ve also seen that feeling slowly fade away. It’s being replaced by a feeling of everyday mundaneness. And so it is with everything that you hold precious in your heart but don’t take the time to appreciate. So thank you God for my blog and all my readers who remind me of how human I am. It feels like I am surrounded by their love and support at all times. It is a feeling second to none and for that I am deeply grateful.

Before I put my pen down and head off to sleep (which I have no trouble with – Thank God!) I have to thank God for my beautiful children. They remind me of the importance of play and the simple joys of life. Their innocence and love keeps my heart alive and open. Thank you God for my children, my two bundles of joy. Thank you God for my wonderful friends who reach out to me when I most need them even if they are miles away. Thank you God for my family. Thank you God for the many blessings yet to come…I’m done and now it’s your turn to go. Count your blessings. Name them.

And once you count and name your blessings be sure to let all the people who are on that list know that you love them and are deeply grateful for them in your life. Silent gratitude serves no purpose. Shout it out from the mountain tops if you must…you sure will light up someone’s day!

May gratitude fill the hearts of all my readers and open your lives to many more miracles of love and grace – God bless everyone!