Tag Archives: work

The Rise of Heart

Had enough of the negativity and the ugliness that is popping up everywhere? Do you believe that the world is on the brink of an apocalypse? Do you really think that all the good is gone and only dark days lie ahead of us? Then this one is for you.

In the midst of death, despair and devastating loss, I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things. Now it’s easy to open your heart and show kindness to less fortunate folks when everything is going plum good in your life. However, it takes a different kind of heart to shift your focus from your suffering to the plight of another.

A friend’s friend, who is recovering from a serious illness with prolonged complications, is constantly in pain and sometimes unable to perform day-to-day activities. In the midst of her health crisis, she managed to rescue two injured cats and even opened her home to a dog recovering from surgery. Mind you, she already takes care of five cats and an ailing relative. She truly has a big heart and is a blessing to all the animals she cares for.

When my parents returned from Sweden after visiting my brother, their house help quit due to ill-health. Luckily, my mom encountered this lady who used to work for my grandma and later for her before relocating to another state. She couldn’t afford the rent in Chennai and her step-son asked her to vacate under the pretext of renovation. Being a widow, she is entitled to the widows pension granted by the state government and visits Chennai every month to collect it. Now when word got out that she was not residing in Chennai anymore, the authorities refused to pay her. To make ends meet she decided to work for my mom. She found a temporary place to stay and was provided two meals a day. My mom packed breakfast for her in the morning and also gave her a cup of tea and snacks in the evening.

All was well until the landlady started acting up after a couple of months. She made it abundantly clear that she wanted our house help to leave. Poor lady had no where to go. My parents decided to let her stay with them. In her retirement years instead of living a quiet life with a roof over her head and enough dough to sustain her, here she was homeless and forced to earn her living.

Recently another lady who worked for us and is now unemployed showed up and my mom took her  in as well. She now cooks for my parents. They really don’t need two people to help out around the house but they couldn’t turn her away because she has to support her family.

I think everywhere everyone’s heart has opened just a little more. I was surprised when my mother-in-law offered to feed our kitten – the one we had to leave behind. We raised it as an outdoor cat although we fed it a few times a day. She knew how to hunt for lizards and mice so we resigned ourselves to the fact that she could survive without us. But the fact that we may never see her again after we left for the U.S. broke our hearts. Seeing how distraught the kids were, their grandma decided to do the least she could do to make the kitten stay.

Then there are some brave souls who are in a vortex of adversity and still look out for others. A friend of mine suffered a loss, was sick and had to fend for herself. She had endless paperwork that had to be followed up and submitted and had to deal with uncooperative staff. She still found time to call and check on me and give me hope during what was a very dark year for me. Her dad’s friend’s sister was in the hospital and she offered to cook and provide meals for them to the extent of neglecting her very own health.

So is there still hope for this world? I’d say YES! It may not be obvious and it may not be breaking news but in small ways, small people with big hearts are showing us that love and kindness are alive and well in the world.

Thankful for the Weirdest Things

This is not my regular Thanksgiving post, giving thanks for all my blessings, blah, blah, blah. The brainwave for this post came about when I was washing dishes – anyone who knows me knows how much I hate doing dishes. As I sunk my fingers into the dishwashing detergent (because the dish rag was dirty), my mind sped to the conversation I had with my friend earlier. She told me she was allergic to dishwashing soap and couldn’t wash dishes. The maid did not turn up and her kitchen was filled with dirty dishes.

My heart went out to my friend. I knew what that was like. My maid has not been coming since the beginning of the month. I have been doing most of the dishes and my mother-in-law has been helping. Every day I would secretly wish that the dish I was washing will be the last one to be soaped by my hands. So BAM! Right on Thanksgiving Day the Universe gave me a reason to be thankful for the very thing I hate.

I sighed and felt the detergent on my fingers as I slowly scrubbed the coffee mug. A wave of gratitude washed over me because I could wash dishes! How weird you say? Someone who hates doing the dishes is being grateful for the ability to do it. Life is weird that way. It teaches you lessons exactly when you need them.

I was telling my kids about this new found love for washing dishes and asked them what they were thankful for and my daughter said almost immediately – I am thankful that I don’t have peanut allergies or I couldn’t have peanut butter which is the most awesome thing in the world!

So what weird things are you grateful for. Share it with me and I will include it in my next blog or add it to this blog (depending on the response). Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Who Stole my Childhood?

 

Running carefree with naked feet,

Reaching for mangoes up in the trees,

Endless summer days of fun,

Spent in the lap of the sun.

 

Hours spent in glee with friends both imaginary and real,

Board games, hopscotch, badminton and dolls,

Trips to the beach on moonlit nights,

And ice cream treats to beat the heat.

 

Walks in the evening with pleasant friends,

Vacation at grandma’s comes to an end,

Back to school and back to the grind,

Churning homework day and night.

 

Weekends come and weekends go,

But the churning never ceases,

Cooped up indoors under a light,

Write, write, write, write!

 

Then come the tests that are pointless,

And activities that are no fun,

Slowly they suck out the vital force,

Falling ill is no excuse, the homework must be done still.

 

Summers pass by without a trace,

Holiday homework takes its place,

No where to go and nothing to do,

But homework through and through.

 

Chugging along school and college,

Silencing the child inside,

Work, responsibility, commute, stress,

Replace school work and projects.

 

Working hard, working long,

Surely has taken its toll,

Popping pills and skimping on sleep,

Need to make sure you never skip a beat.

 

Bigger, bigger, better, better,

That’s the mantra of a go-getter,

Going where and getting what?

We all end up in a six-foot plot.

 

 

Coming Full Circle

“Almost all your blogs talk about work,” my daughter declared a few weeks ago. I mildly protested but then it struck me that she was right. The years since I started blogging have been devoted to finding work, finding my passion, quitting jobs, moving and trying to find work again. At times I was under employed, stressed out at work or totally unprepared for the job. I persevered because for me it was work (with all its problems) or no work at all. It wasn’t exactly raining interviews and offer letters.

When we moved, Seattle definitely had more opportunities than Florida but that didn’t equate to a job for me. Frustrated, I applied for a substitute position at the school district. Several months of subbing did not fetch me a regular job. The new year came and went with the promise of regular writing work that pays. It lasted a month and then I heard nothing. The first few weeks of February saw me grappling with issues of self-worth and it all came out in my blog – In the Brink of a Mid-life Crisis.

The very next day after I published my blog, a long term subbing job became available. I decided to take it up. It was a full day assignment and the work was challenging at first, but I fell into a rhythm. The people I interacted with were wonderful. It was perfect. So when the assignment ended, they wanted to extend it and they wanted me back. All the years I struggled with feelings of worthlessness melted away. I did amount to something. Of course I knew that and I had learned that lesson sometime ago. But to finally have the outer world reflect that was like a resounding YES!

When you know your own worth you stop putting yourself last and you stop putting yourself down. You value everything you do even if the rest of the world doesn’t. I stopped being invisible and stopped hiding in the house thinking I had nothing to offer. I started loving myself more and making time for things I loved to do. Instead of always serving everybody else’s needs, I started serving my needs.

In the beginning it all seemed like a farce. It was as if I was putting on a show pretending to know what I was doing. When actually I was scared as hell, just waiting for someone to call out my bluff. I was a nobody strutting around all confident and knowledgeable. But that was just the ego in me that hated being pushed out of its comfort zone. My comfort zone was a bundle of low self-esteem that kept me stuck in a rut without the courage to chase my dreams. So I ignored that little voice and showed up and did the best I could. And it paid off. Time and again people acknowledged my presence or appreciated what I did. The tiny voice stopped trying to discourage me and I got bolder and bolder.

Once you step out of your comfort zone, you create another comfort zone where you can stay stuck unless you push yourself again. For me it was this feeling of discontent that kept pushing me. Some need inside that wanted to be filled. It just wouldn’t go away. No matter what I did. I volunteered – it didn’t go away. I blogged – it didn’t go away. I subbed – it didn’t go away. I wrote every day in January and got paid – and it didn’t go away.

This job I have now somehow filled that empty space inside of me. A space that had been aching from within. A space that marked the years of giving and giving of oneself till one became broke. A space that was open to receiving a kind word, appreciation or gratitude.

It is as if I have come full circle from a bedraggled housewife who spent her days serving her family while ignoring her own needs to a woman who is perfectly balanced and perfectly at ease at her workplace and perfectly at ease doing dishes (who am I kidding!). But jokes apart, I have come a long way. I know when and how much to give of my time and resources and when to receive. I know when to stop giving before I reach rock bottom and burn myself out. I have learned to honor myself as much as I honor others.

It is always tempting to do too much, give too much or take too much. And we are all walking a tightrope, flitting between balancing everything and falling flat on our faces. At some point we get it and our inner compass leads us to balance and happiness.

I would love to tell you that my work saga that started in 2012 has concluded, but such is not the case. Then again that is fodder for another blog.

On the Brink of a Mid-life Crisis

Maybe it’s the dwindling hormones that announce the advent of menopause. Maybe it’s the overcast skies that are a regular feature of this part of the world. Maybe it’s my inability to get a decent job. Dang it! I blame all of the above for pushing me into this limbo.

Winter blues hit me bad when I was in Boston and now again in Seattle. It’s like a shroud that obliterates even the smallest bit of mirth. It’s hard to get motivated when it’s dark and cold for nearly 6 months of the year.

The kids are growing up fast and before I know it they’ll be out in the world fending for themselves, leaving me behind clueless. Heck, I don’t have a career to drown myself in. I can drown in the kitchen sink with all the dirty dishes! While my friends and my spouse climb the corporate ladder, I struggle to find my footing. I look in the mirror and only see a ghost of the girl I used to be. A girl full of dreams and ambitions and here I am almost middle-aged and drifting to God knows where.

Have I simply settled because after years of striving I haven’t arrived anywhere? Or is it because I was so focused on others that I did not realize that I was neglecting myself? The greying hairs on my head keep setting off alarms. Your time is so short. What have you done with your life? What have you achieved? Right now the false security of kids and chores keep you busy and lull you into a trance. But when you wake up one day it will be just you. The kids, the home, everything you put your heart and soul into – all gone. Then what do you do? Go back to college? Find a hobby? Travel the world? I have no idea.

Maybe I’ll shatter conventions and do something that will make the world look up an take notice. By now I have convinced myself that I am a late bloomer. How late will I bloom? Only time can tell. And it’s ok as long as I don’t go out with a whimper. Maybe I’ll start my own business, finally. Be my own boss, pick my hours and work with people I really like.

In Florida, I had the good fortune of knowing several women whose kids had grown up and moved out. Some worked full-time, others did part-time work from home and still others simply had an active social life. All of them seemed happy and content with their lives. Maybe it won’t be so bad after all. Life has a way of balancing things out. Changes happen and its hard at first but we ultimately adapt and find a new way of living. So while I may not have all the answers right now, I know when the time comes it will all fall in place. And I’ll be fine. Just as I am now with the crazy hormones, erratic job and gloomy weather.