Punctuate Life

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Nurturing the Goddess in you…

All you men out there, this one is for you as well. You may have six-packs and rippling muscles and testosterone in your veins. But you still have a feminine side. You have a heart, don’t you? That thing that pumps blood and also has the ability to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Perhaps you haven’t been listening to it lately.  I’m sure you have faced the classic dilemma posed by your mind and heart. Your heart says go for it and your mind gives you a million reasons not to…You listen to your head and end up with heart ache later…

In a world built on logic and ruled by logic what place does the heart have? Well, the world built entirely on logic and largely by men in power is slowly crumbling down before our very eyes. It lacks sensitivity and creativity which are primarily feminine aspects. The mind thinks and the heart knows. We have forgotten how to trust our hearts to make decisions for us. We think through our decisions but forget to feel our way through them. We deny our feminine sides. Shun it, deplore it, mask it! And all you women out there are facilitators!

Just the other day I heard  a single mom say about her son – I don’t want him to be too girly. I’ve also heard soccer moms go on about how their daughters are not aggressive enough and push them into competitive sports. When boys cry we say to them – strong boys don’t cry and lead them to believe that crying is a sign of weakness. Or even worse – don’t cry like a girl – creating the notion that crying and being like a girl are both highly undesirable qualities.

In my house most of the crying is done by my boy. He is what they call a Highly Sensitive Male (HSM). He feels everything deeply and hollers his tiny heart out every once in a while! I wish he would relax a little while still holding on to his sensitivity. It makes him a remarkable little person. He senses my angst at the end of a long day and will come and ask me – Ma do you want me to help you. It just makes me want to cry!

Just hope the world that thinks sensitivity is a weakness and power comes from supressing others doesn’t take it away from him. I’ve heard so many opinions about raising boys that I’m sick of it. Don’t hug, kiss and coddle your boys too much. You don’t want them to be sissies! Go help your Dad (like helping your Mom out with chores makes you less macho!!) And then these very same boys that you raise rough & tough, grow up and shy away from changing diapers or feeding babies. Their women will lament about their lack of sensitivity. And then these very same women will go on to raise identical replicas of their husbands! Do you see the vicious cycle we have created?

Women too seem to suffer from the mind-rules-and-hearts-can’t-be-trusted psychosis. After years of supression, women came out of the home, out of their nurturing roles as moms and wives. And into a harsh corporate world where the rules are different. The rules were made by men – men who had suppressed their feminine side. Men who only thought of numbers, figures and bottom line margins. Women had to be tough, put family last, work long hours and put their heart-centred nurturing on the back burner. But we have seen how this fractured way of thinking without a balance of mind and heart has failed time and again because it forgets that people are the life of an organization and not figures.

Nature however loves balance and the time has come to balance the mind and the heart. The male and the female. The yin and the yang. It is no surprise that this year there were women Olympians from every participating country. Today several top companies like Yahoo and Pepsico are headed by women. My only prayer is that these women share their wisdom and chart their own path to success instead of following the foot steps of  those before them.

It’s heartening to see stay-at-home dads who love and care for their babies. I remember a time when dads never did any parenting. They brought home the bacon, drank beer and watched TV. They never read to their kids or even hugged them. Those days are long gone but some men still hang on to remnants of those days and think parenting is mostly the mom’s job. No wonder many single women think they don’t need a man to procreate anymore! But there is a reason why children need both a mom and a dad. So they grow up balanced. So their minds and hearts are equally developed. So they can think and trust. Judge and love. But in order to raise balanced kids we need to be balanced ourselves.

So how do you get in touch with your feminine side? It’s the playful, creative, loving side of you, that is connected to nature and all beings. When you hold your baby and your heart fills with so much love that it might burst – you are connecting to your feminine side. When your dog showers you with unconditional love and you mirror it back you are connecting to the feminine. When you reach out with compassion you are connected to that force. When you dance, sing, write, play, have fun you connect to your inner goddess. When you pay attention to your feelings instead of that little voice in your head you are connecting to your heart.

I love the picture in which Shiva has the right half of the body and Parvathi has the left half. Male and female totally balanced. Where the heart listens to the mind and the mind bows down to the heart which always comes from a place of compassion and unconditional love.


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Daring and Different…My Dadima

This post is long overdue. I meant to write this is 2009 and get it published in a newspaper or magazine in Chennai, India. Since that didn’t happen I guess I’ll have to be happy with this. M asked me the other day – who is your idol? I mentioned the name of my deceased guru. But as I thought about it I realized I have several people on that list. And my grandmother is somewhere on the top of that list.

I called her Dadima even though we don’t speak Hindi at home. She was not your usual run-of-the-mill granny who told you stories, cooked for you and tucked you in bed. In fact, she has never cooked a single meal for me. Nor did she read the Ramayana or wear tulsi beads. You see Dadima had a career. And she worked right up until her dying day. She lost the love of her life, my grandfather at the age of 35 ( I shudder to think that I’m almost 35!) All the odds were against her. She had only passed 10th grade, had no college education, no work experience, no trust fund, no nest eggs…nothing! My grandma had to fend for herself and support my Dad, who was in college. She could have slumped down in a corner and cried for the rest of her life. Or lived off her relatives. No. Not my Dadima.

She went on to become the first lady distributor for LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). The kind that comes in ‘cylinders’ and is used for cooking in India. As a business woman she was tough and put everyone in their place. Everyone who thought she was an old widow and can be pushed around learnt their lesson quickly. She was feisty and fearless. She did what she wanted and offered no explanations or justifications. People thought twice before messing with her. She could be an angel or she could be your worst nightmare.

To me she was an angel, dressed in white and always hovering around me and whispering words of endearment to me. She called me her ‘gem’. She was one person who really truly believed that I was precious. I practically grew up in Dadima’s house. My parents feared for my brother’s life. They were quite certain that I would get into a jealous rage and attack him with sharpened pencils! So I was packed off to Dadima’s house.

I used to sleep next to Dadima every night, sharing the bed with two overfed dogs, Diana and Priya. Dadima loved them as much as she loved me. They ate off her plate, drank from her glasses, dirtied her pristine white sheets and she would look the other way. I’ve heard people say, “Oh how I wish I could be Mrs. Damodaran’s dog!” Spoilt rotten they were. Used to ride the car to school everyday with me, with their tongues lolling out of the window.

All the dogs she had were female by the way. Did I mention Dadima had the words ‘GIRL POWER” etched in hot pink invisible ink all over her house? Oh yeah! There were pictures of goddesses wielding fierce weapons and trampling weak male villians. I remember playing dress up with her numerous white handbags and high heeled shoes and sandals, draping her sheer duppatas around my head, the way she used to when she was in the sun with matching white sunglasses. She was always well dressed. Hated the heat and used to complain about it and how she loved the cold when she was in Great Britian. She had so many funny anecdotes she used to share with me. Stories that gave me a glimpse of the carefree life she lived in the past when my granddad was around. All she used to do was dress up for parties and manage the scores of servants they had.

One of the reasons my grandad treated Dadima like the Queen of England was her poor health. She had several close calls. She almost died of a brain tumor and was so ill on a ship headed to India from England, that the captain of the ship said she’d have to be buried at sea if she didn’t make it. She made it and went on to have a granddaughter – me. But as far back as I can remember, she had been in and out of hospitals most of her life. Some visits were short and routine. Others were long and scary and I’ve been called many a time to her bedside where she lay with one foot in the grave. She had appendicitis, blood pressure, an enlarged heart, a hysterectomy and then diabetes in the latter years of her life. But everytime she’d make it out of the hospital stronger and more full of life. Never would she take a day off work or lie in bed all day complaining about her health.

She was very proud of her brain. She always said my heart gives me a lot of trouble but my brain was overhauled in England (during the brain tumor years I think). It was true. She never forgot a single birthday or anniversary. She personally selected and wrote birthday cards for everyone. She made sure we all got a card and a birthday cake every birthday. New clothes for New Year and Diwali. Black Forest Cake and Fruit Cake over the holidays with puffs. She loved entertaining and loved having people over for dinner. Even if someone turned up uninvited and it was lunch or dinner time she would ask them to stay and eat with her. She never wrote lists for groceries or anything. I’ve seen the servants tell her before she went to work that they needed soap or shampoo or rice and she would somehow remember everything and bring it home in the evening.

She had an opinion about everything. Her political and religious views were radical. Around the house she had pictures of Mother Mary and Jesus. Statues of Buddha. She had a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible. She loved the villian Ravana for being fearless even when fighting a God and hated Rama (who was the hero of Ramayana) for doubting Sita’s chastity and subjecting her to the test of fire (Agni Pariksha). Tinge of feminism there. She loved Saddam Hussain for having the ‘guts’ to stand up to a super power like the United States.

At her funeral several people read verses from the Bible while her family chanted Hare Rama and her Muslim neighbors of 40 years looked on. She truly embraced one and all. Put aside her troubles to help others. I was foolish to think she had touched but one life – mine. When people came to me with stories of her kindness and love, I cried copious tears. It felt like their pain was my pain. We had all lost someone special. Someone who thought we were special and treated us like royalty.

She was everything every woman would want to be. And in these years that I have had to live without her, this is my constant prayer – if ever I have to live on this earth again please let her be my grandmother for many lifetimes to come.


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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…