Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax

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Getting, Giving and Receiving

The world teaches you to get rather than give in order to ‘get ahead’ and be successful. How can you give unless you have enough for yourself right? Only billionaires can be truly generous you say. Let them give. I don’t have enough to give. I need more for myself. If you are always looking  at what is lacking in your life and always looking to get rather than give, then chances are you are unhappy, unfulfilled and don’t have enough. More, more, more is your mantra. You only see yourself and your unfulfilled needs, desires and aspirations. There are no others. And if there are, they jolly well wait. Yours is a bottomless well that will never fill up. Never overflow.

Then you have the givers. They love to give, love to please. They give their time, money, resources to others. They give too much and are offended if they are compensated in some way. They don’t even like being thanked. I am guilty of this kind of behavior and I can safely say most women fall into this category. The loving, nurturing and caring feminine self sometimes forgets to love, nurture and care for itself.

The mistake I made was thinking that I was a bottomless well that would never run dry. Wrong! I did run dry. And did I stop giving? No! I gave and gave and gave till it hurt. I gave till I became resentful. Compromised my own happiness and thought I was some sort of martyr. It’s hard to break this cycle because you don’t see the damage you are doing to yourself. You only see others. It’s as if ‘you’ don’t exist.

It takes a really good friend to shake you up out of your vicious cycle of hurtful giving. Or as in my case a really good book. I realized it didn’t feel good to give anymore because I felt I didn’t have enough. And for a while I became a go-getter. Looking only to my own needs. But as you saw earlier that is a vicious needy cycle of just me, me and more me. But I guess I had to be in that cycle long enough to fill the well till it brimeth over. I think I stayed longer than necessary. How did I know? I had lost the flow (and lost her marbles, you must be thinking. What on earth is she talking about??!!)

To understand what I am talking about I’m going to introduce you to the amazing concept of receiving. Receiving is a very different energy compared to getting. Getting or taking is a struggle. Things you want don’t flow to you. You have to fight for it, work hard for it. Take it forcibily and make it your own. But receiving is the consequence of giving. As you give you will receive. It’s a law as sure as gravity. Works whether you believe in it or not. But you have to be open to receiving. It will show up in many disguises. Not at all like you imagined. A kind word, a thank you, a gift, a card, something bigger and better than what you wanted. Receiving is also the act of accepting the gifts that flow into your life. Feeling worthy of them.

All you givers out there, accept praise, accept a compliment (took me ages to do that!), accept a simple thank you. Accept help. Givers are guilty of trying to be a one man army. They want to help but never like to ask or receive help. To balance you out and let life flow, you must give and receive. Don’t wait till your well runs dry.

To all you go getters…Pause. Look around you. See the others. Others who are worse off and feel content with what you have. Balance your life by giving to a cause (not just as a one time token effort!) and then see how your life opens up. How things you always struggled to get, just show up at your doorstep. And that’s when your life flows with a perfect balance of giving and receiving.

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Prayer 101

I imagined myself to be a very spiritual person even when I was a child. I lit the lamp everyday after my bath and prayed to all the deities my Dad prayed to. I read spiritual books and did yoga and meditation in college. And by then I had an obnoxiously swollen spiritual ego. Like I was above it all. Better than everyone else. Never did I realize that all this was just at the surface level. That you have to delve deeper into the spirit realm to know God.

It’s easy to do all the stuff I did in the name of spirituality, when life is peachy and you have rose petals strewn over your life path. Little did I know that yonder lay thorns, cliffs, deep ravines, white waters and steep waterfalls.

I had left Chennai and was in Pondicherry University to do my Masters. It was the first time that pampered little me had left the comforts of my home and family. And how did I deal with it? Horribly. I went home every chance I could, every weekend, every holiday. I didn’t like the course, or the food they served in the mess or the weather. And before I knew it I had quit and come back home. I felt awful for doing that. Now I had nothing to do. I had to wait another 6 months to get into any college. All my friends were studying or working and I felt all alone. Feelings of worthlessness and sadness engulfed me and I asked why. What did I do wrong? Why won’t you help me? You who I prayed to every single day.

In those dark moments I spent with me and woe-is-me thoughts, I got no answer. The desperation grew and I never saw myself coming out of it. I felt like I was going crazy. Turning into a nut job. Pretty soon I’d be shut away in an asylum and I felt even more sorry for myself. Nobody will miss me. Nobody wants this sad person in their life. Nobody needs me. They are better off without me. I’m a blot on their otherwise perfect life.

Of course, I had abandoned God and religion and everyone and everything by then. I hit rockbottom and that’s when my family knew I needed help and they intervened. I received the help and I got out of the hole I had put myself into. But something shifted in me. I couldn’t express it in words then, but looking back it was like being given a second chance, being born again. I felt enormous gratitude. Even though I had given up God, She/He hadn’t given up on me. I had to go through my struggles to emerge with a deeper understanding of God. God is not in the idols, not in the rituals, not in all the stuff in the outer level. God is a presence. A quiet presence. God doesn’t beat drums to announce his presence or say – Behold! Here I am. He works quietly and inscrutable are his ways. Inscrutable to the human mind. You can only feel that presence in your heart.

It’s not to say that I took all that suffering in my stride. I was resentful about it for numerous years. Very few people know about that part of my life. Now, years later I see it for what it is. A push towards higher consciousness. The understanding that God was with me then as he is with me now, carrying me through the pain even without my knowing it. I have learnt and grown through it and have the courage to share it with you in the hopes that you will find strength in these words.

So what is prayer? Constant communion with God. Reciting passages of holy books. Chanting mantras. It can be a lot of things to a lot of people. But this is the definition that I really like. Because there are two parts to a conversation. The talking and the listening. Prayer and meditation. Prayer is you tallking to God and meditation is listening to Her/Him. Most of us say our prayers but forget to sit still, quiet our minds and listen to God or inner guidance which comes from a much higher plane of consciousness if you will.

If the word meditation scares you or you think it is only for sages in the Himalayas or yogis in Indian jungles, think again! Just sit still for 5 minutes everyday and focus on your breath. This in itself is a powerful meditation. Try it now. Close your eyes (maybe after you read this entire paragraph!). Take a deep breath. Breathe in. Feel the air entering your nostrils and filling you up. Feel your diaphragm pushing downwards. Feel your stomach pushing outwards to allow more air into your body. Now exhale and focus on the air coming out of your nostrils. Your diaphragm moving up and your stomach squeezing in, emptying your lungs. Repeat and repeat. Now open your eyes. You didn’t have to go to the Himalayas to do that! You can do this everyday in the comfort of you home, in your car, in your cubicle. Sit still and follow your breath and all the inspiration you need will come to you. All the peace you always wanted will emerge from within you. And you will feel that presence as it whispers – I am here. Right here. Within you all the time…

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Finding a Long Lost Love…

I met my soul sister when I was living the best years of my life. I had just graduated, landed a job without even trying, and engaged to be married to the most charming man who is the love of my life. We worked for the same company and she lived just yards away from my grandmother’s house. We used to walk or take a bus back home. I have fond memories of those days and the way she was always so tuned to my energy and emotions. But I knew those carefree days spent sharing chocolates and life would soon come to an end. I knew I had to move halfway across the globe after I got married.

Thank God for e-mail and chat and VOIP phones! We would be in touch, I thought. I was wrong! I met her one last time on my wedding day and then I flew to the U.S. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I saw her or heard from her in a long long time. She quit her job, moved and stopped using her e-mail account. The e-mails I sent her bounced back. Former colleagues had no clue as to where she might be. I was crushed. Although I had known her only for a few months we had connected at a very deep level. Like a soul connection. So I never gave up looking for her.

When Orkut came along I spent an insane number of days and hours searching for her. Peering at countless tiny pictures and profiles hoping to see her face. But I got nothing. Years went by but I still knew in my heart that I’d find her. So when Facebook was born the search began all over again. The search for a friend like no other. Again no trace of her.

Then one day after I had moved to Florida and got my license and started believing in miracles I searched for her. And there she was photo and all. I was thrilled to bits! I found her! I found her! I finally found her! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  I messaged her, quite unsure if she would remember me. But she did. I guess having a rare name helps! And this is the part I never expected. She was equally thrilled to get back in touch. After all these years! Imagine if after years of searching and finding someone, you got a lukewarm reaction. Oh Hi…Nice to see you too. Thank God that didn’t happen to me.

And then it got me wondering why did I find her when I found her. Why not before? Why not later? Why ever? I couldn’t answer that for a long time. But one day I stumbled upon it. I wasn’t the person she knew years ago. Marriage, kids. life itself had made me weary, unhappy. She never would have connected with me in those years when I was still finding myself. She knew the bubbly, giggly girl who was on cloud nine, with the whole world at her feet and her whole life ahead of her. She never would have recognized the dull, dreary, sleep deprived, stay-at-home mom I had been for many years.

But the moment I shifted into a state of contentment, fully aware of my power, taking my life by the reins instead of being a piece of driftwood, I was able to find her. And I found her at the right time. They say a friend is someone who knows the melody of your heart and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. I had forgotten. Forgotten my own strength, the beauty of my being, how much I mattered. She gently, yet firmly reminded me. She tore down my wall of excuses and exposed me to the reality of who I am. I owe my writing to her. The joy and gratitude I feel overwhelms me. The creative block I had for years melted with her encouragement and her undying faith in me pulled out the stopper and now I’m free and my creativity flows and flows and flows. Thank you N.G. Thank you for everything!

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The Work Saga

Thanks to the recession and the rise in unemployment, I’ve been doling out advice to my friends who are out of work and actively looking. Believe in yourself! Keep trying! Something will show up! But I’m not good enough they say and I point out how wonderful their resumes are and how many years of experience they have. I almost always never fail to mention my resume and the big hole in it (the years I spent staying home and caring for my beautiful babies) and the little or no work experience I had before that. And then they would feel better and eventually they would get jobs. I can’t count the number of times I put myself down and compared myself and my life to that of friends, just to make them feel better about themselves. And everytime I did that my words were slowly getting etched in my brain and slowly turning into this belief – this self-sabotaging belief.

So then I finally decide to go back to work and I’m wondering why nobody responds to my e-mails and why nobody wants to hire me. And the belief gets stronger. You stayed home too long. You don’t have enough experience. Your brain has degenerated. You are dumb! You are not worth it! Nobody wants you!  I was writing affirmations everyday – I now accept this new and wonderful job and watching you tube videos that promise to attract money and income, while my mind is on a totally different frequency playing mostly blues! And everyday it is the same – no responses, no calls, no job, nothing. A month goes by and I quit. I just go about my daily chores and pretend I’m happy. And then this thing inside me grows, I get so restless that I want to get a job. Back to sending resumes, writing e-mails and giving advice to friends without jobs. And then it strikes me. Here I am giving advice and not following my own advice. Keep trying I tell them and I give up after a month! I’ve got to keep trying. Something will show up. So I spend 3 -4 four months trying and I finally land a part-time job. I can’t believe it! I’ve broken the jinx. The 9 year jinx!

The job lasts 1 month, 1 week and 1 day. Then I quit and stay home to take care of my daughter who broke her arm. I tell everyone that I quit because my daughter broke her arm and while I’m saying those words I know that’s not true. Why? Because I’m happy being home, not having to rush to work on Saturday mornings, not having a crazy schedule on Tuesday evenings. I was appalled at myself. By God D.C., you are one lazy lout! And then I stop myself because I’m overly obsessed with positive thinking.

So it’s back to square one. What did I do wrong now? And ta da! Another book drops on my lap from the heavens. A book on hypnosis. No, I didn’t hypnotise myself and secure a job in a trance. But the book spoke at length about the nature of the conscious and subconscious mind. My conscious mind was the culprit. The lazy, happy-where-it-is, couldn’t-care-less-about-changing part of me. Now if I could just get a lobotomy and do away with that pesky little conscious mind, life would be sweet.

Looking back, while driving to work (when I had this short-lived job) I could feel part of me resisting, unhappy with all the adjustments I had to make in order to get to work. It worked against me. And I just thought it was something on the outside. Like the boss or the pay or the timings or infinite other excuses. Never did I take responsibility for those feelings. Now I have and the saga continues. I think I have broken the disconnect between my internal and external reality. Hope this time it works. I will keep you posted when I land my dream job. But for now, I’m doing what I love i.e. writing this advice column!

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Experimenting With Miracles

Today I decided to write about things I’ve been talking (my friends will say ‘preaching’) about for a long time. In fact today I talked for 93 minutes, very passionately about things that I have come to believe over the past few years of my life. My friends must have heard my words till their ears bled and they are probably up to their noses with my advice and positive self-help suggestions. Sorry for loving you guys to death! And you are welcome!

Today I have decided to unleash myself onto the world at large. Maybe it will be a good thing after all. Who knows? So let me start at the very beginning when things weren’t going right for me and I felt like a victim of circumstances. I blamed everyone and everything including myself. Things got worse and I turned to the one thing most of us turn to when things don’t go right. Not food. Not booze. God! My prayer was simple…please God let me be happy. That’s it. I just couldn’t take being unhappy. I had everything and I still felt blue and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. And then my parents (I have my issues with them but I will be eternally grateful for this one thing they did for me) suggested that I read the book called “The Secret”. And I did and what a revelation it was. I realized the power of the law of attraction. Taking responsibilty for your life and what appears in it. Positive thinking. Suddenly my life made sense or the mess that I called life made sense. I got to work, fixing my life. And I started sharing my successes with everyone I knew. Kinda forced it down their throats if you will! Do this, do that…be this be that! It took a while for the fact to sink in that I was responsible for my life alone and not everyone elses! I still can get annoyingly preachy or be a know-it-all but my friends know I mean well.

Let me share one of the first successes we had with the law of attraction. I used one side of my refrigerator as my vision board and I encouraged my kids and husband to add pictures to it. Pictures of things they wanted. So my son added the picture of a red car (the kind you can sit in and push yourself along) and my daughter tore out a picture of a beautiful red dress with little stars on it and a star button from a catalog. A few weeks later we were shopping at Kohls and the exact same dress was on sale and I bought it. The catalog from which she tore the picture was not a Kohls catalog if you are thinking bah! coincidence. We still have that dress which we call the secret dress! It no longer fits her but is a reminder that magic can work in your life if you open up to it.

The car came a few days later. And so did all the things I put on the vision board. Some much later when we were least expecting them. I had put up a picture of Disney because I wanted to vacation there. But we ended up moving from Boston to Florida. Maybe because I hated the cold and also I had been pestering my husband for years to work from his company’s office located in Florida. So guess what? His company asked him to move. And with the move came the bunk bed the kids had on the vision board and the flat screen TV that my husband wanted. And of course multiple trips to Disney. Again my friends never heard the end of it!

Seeing how successful I was with it made me apply it to other areas of my life. Like my fear of driving which along with a bunch of other factors had prevented me from obtaining a license. But then it didn’t work and I knew I was doing something wrong. If it worked for want A and want B why not want C? It didn’t make sense. I was upset and again went running to God. Somehow God sends me a book everytime I’m in trouble. Self-help books are my BFFs now. So these days I just run straight to the library and stand in front of the self help section and ask which book will help me right now. Back then it was ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. Quick summary of the book – you can’t get what you want if you are holding on to your past, if you are unforgiving, have self-hatred etc. And I said I don’t hate myself. The book said look in the mirror and look into your eyes and say I love you. If you feel a tightness or resistance then you don’t love yourself. Another revelation. I didn’t love myself as much as I thought I did. I did all the exercises the book suggested and when I really felt ready to receive the gift of a drivers license I took the test and I passed. Of course God sent an angel to be my instructor. Teresa didn’t take me seriously at all and joked and poked fun at me till I relaxed my death hold on the steering wheel and drove faster than grandma!

Man it felt good to have a license! I finally felt powerful and in control of my destiny. And I should have been happy with that. But my ego wanted something bigger. And this time it was a long time regret that I was still holding on to. Don’t get me wrong! I love my children and I loved being there for them when they were babies. watching them go to school, following them to school because I missed them so much ( I volunteer in both their classrooms). But I missed working, being financially independent. Partly because of my grandmother who worked right until her last day – bless her soul! And partly because I felt I had so much to give. And another struggle ensued, which I will relate to you in my next rant!

So I invite you to join me on this journey of living and loving your life and being the best you can possibly be. Try the things I have mentioned in your own life. Read the books. Apply the principles to your own life. I truly believe you will receive everything you ask for, if it is for your highest good. And I wish you success always…bye until next time…Do share your experiences with miracles in your own life. We can all learn from each other. We are all teachers and we are all students…