Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax


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So I’m Bossy Now

The other day my husband remarked, “Of late you’ve become so bossy.” I told him I was tired of being nice because I never got anything I wanted. The kids keep telling me to stop yelling and I’m like if I ask you nicely you just don’t do it,  so I have to yell to get you guys to listen to me. I’m just sick and tired of us women being told to be nice and quiet while every Tom, Dick and Harry steamrolls over us and hands us a cartload of patriarchal nonsense.

I stopped caring about what people thought about me and started thinking about me and what I need to be happy. I think it’s called taking charge, being in control. If you find me loud and obnoxious – I don’t care. Just like you didn’t care about anything I wanted or expected out of you!

When men do it, they are applauded for strength of character and leadership skills and when women so much as raise their voice they are bossy, intimidating and unlikeable. Well sorry! We’re done with the all cute and cuddly purring kitten types that are dripping honey and hanging on your every word. You stepped on our tails more than once and we’re lashing out with our teeth and claws.

You wax eloquent about your stressful day and how much you have accomplished while we straddle corporate careers and motherhood, cooking gourmet meals and coding and so much more that your testosterone-filled veins can handle for a day.  And yet WE are the fairer sex? The weaker ones needing your patronage and protection? Why don’t you hulks try birthing a child or nursing twins or even trying to fend off nausea for a week. Or maybe try, just try to make dinner every night after work.

So if I yell when I come home and the entire kitchen island is filled with everything you ate from breakfast cereal to tortilla chip crumbs and the sink is overflowing with dishes, its because I just finished my day job where I get paid and appreciated and now I’m at my second job that is thankless with no pay.

I don’t like microwave meals myself or I would have abandoned kitchen duties the day I started working full-time. Or stopped packing lunches for the kids and asked them to make do with the gross school cafeteria food. And with cooking comes mountains of dishes. I’m thankful for the dishwasher but unfortunately it doesn’t load itself. I don’t think it will kill anyone if they loaded the dishwasher every night after I was done making dinner.  Again everyone would rather I do it, till I make a scene and ask the kids to do their chores.

Then again why is dinner my responsibility ALWAYS! Why do chores have to be gender based? All of this churns through my psyche and makes me yell every once in a while. You have a choice to not cook or clean and I don’t? That really makes me yell dude! And since it’s my kitchen, it’s MY RULES. Obey or be prepared to be shredded to fine saw dust.

And  you can shove that unsolicited advice you know where! If you aint helping, I don’t need your suggestions for improvement. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I think I qualify as an expert! So there you go. I’m bossy and unapologetic. They may promote me to a manager at work for my much sought after leadership skills!

 


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Why I Volunteer

So things haven’t changed for the better since my last post. I’m still looking for work and resigning myself to the fact that I will have to wait until next year for something to come my way.

When I feel stuck or feel that things aren’t flowing or working for me, I do two things.

  1. Write in my gratitude journal. I did this to land my last job. I wrote thank you for my new and wonderful job in my journal every single day and even wrote about the kind of job I was looking for.
  2. Look for opportunities to give or serve. This worked for me years ago when I was trying to get back to work after a long hiatus. I volunteered in public schools for several years and then landed a job in a charter school.

It doesn’t help that most people are posting pictures of cruises and vacations in the Caribbean when I’ll be doing a staycation this year. So I decided to look for volunteer opportunities on Idealist. I found something that would use my skills as a writer/ editor and for a cause close to my heart (children and education).

Volunteering helps you feel good and gives you the satisfaction of contributing to the community in meaningful ways. It also helps you make friends and learn new skills. By taking away your focus from what is lacking in your life, volunteering allows you to appreciate what you have.

You have to give to receive. So whenever you feel things are not flowing to you, it is a good practice to give and get back into the flow of the Universe. Waiting till you have enough will keep you waiting indefinitely. Give how much ever you can of your time, money and efforts and you will be rewarded with peace and contentment.

Even if you are in a good place in your life, take the time to give back. There are so many out there who are hurting and can benefit from your generosity. Serve wherever you are, even if it is for an hour every week or every month and you will find it brings you more joy than all the comforts and things money can buy. This is truly one of those cases where the giver of the gift benefits as much or more than the receiver.

Still need convincing? A study report by CNCS titled “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment” found that active volunteers were 27% more likely to get a job than non-volunteers.


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What Do I Want?

Today I find myself at the park again but this time I brought a pen and some paper so I don’t need to struggle with the tiny keyboard on my phone. So many emotions. So many thoughts. So many things that I want to put down on paper. They keep swimming around in my consciousness making me confused and clueless. Sometimes putting it down on paper gives me some clarity.

So what is it that I want? It is what everybody wants. Happiness, peace, love. Where can you find it? Within. Although I know these things hypothetically, when life happens I falter and wrestle with conflicting emotions. But tell me this – if your immediate needs are not met will you look within for peace and happiness? Not really! Spirituality on an empty stomach may not be attractive to everyone. Which explains why the Masters addressed suffering and tried to alleviate pain, hunger and disease.

If you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from would you care to sit down and find inner peace? It is those who have everything and find that they are still empty that go seeking happiness and God. The rest of us believe that some goal in the future can get us there. If I can just make this much more money. If I can just find the right job. If I can just marry the perfect person for me. And the list goes on and on.

From where I stand, I know all of these things but try as I may I can’t find the peace that comes with the security of having a good job, a roof over your head and happy children. And I can’t seem to find it here while others transpose their will on my wishes and dreams. It feels as if the reins of my life are slipping away from me. So much so that I have turned into another version of myself – one I can’t recognize in the mirror.

The burden of others wishes have become my manacles – keeping me from living my life to the fullest. Keeping me from shining my brightest. Manacles or duties, call them what you like but the truth is that they keep you bound. Yes everyone has responsibilities, I know. But when these responsibilities keep you from doing what is best for you or prevents you from fulfilling other responsibilities that is when it becomes onerous and heavy. And try as you might no one benefits from it, least of all you. It results in a sort of co-dependency that keeps you trapped in the belief that you are actually helping the other person. The fact of the matter is that you are tying them down and making them more helpless. It is like giving a crutch to a man who can walk and convincing him that he cannot do without it.

Everyday I wake up to a world where I have to choose between my happiness and the happiness of others and I wish it wasn’t that way at all.


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Not Depressed…Just Melancholic

That much celebrated emotion of bygone poets, bards and writers. That very same state of mind that evokes the deepest of sentiments that spill over and create art that transcends time, culture, and every other tangible wall. I fancy melancholic. It is definitely more palatable than depressed, don’t you think? Like a fancy mental state not requiring the 3 Ps – Prozac, a psychiatrist or psychological counseling. The hard part is to convince people that I’m simply in a melancholy mood on the verge of penning my next bestseller. I really doubt Van Gogh or Hemingway cared a hoot for what people thought. So these days I don’t give a damn either. You can pronounce me depressed, given your limited understanding of an artistic persona and you probably weren’t around when I was really depressed. I’m no where close to that now. I do have some days when I find it hard to get out of bed but I always find the strength to pull myself out of it.

So keep your eyes peeled for one helluva novel, poetry that pulls at your heart strings and other artistic outpourings from me. Just hope I can hold on to the melancholy long enough. Some days its just gone and other days it hangs around like a blanket obstructing the sun. Wish I could bottle some of it for days when I need a muse injected with a dose of sadness.

I don’t fancy putting on a smiling face and pretending everything is ok. It seems fake and unauthentic to me. That doesn’t mean you need to lament and share your sob stories with all. Nor does it mean that you should wallow in your woe. When you are not happy inside, the unhappiness spills out somehow. You are not really addressing it and so it stays there under the surface. You don’t have to say a word but people sense it and soak up some of it. After a point being around such people is unbearable.

It’s ok to feel sad and it’s ok to ask for what you need. I’m not going to burst into song and giggle my way through the day just because that is how you want me to behave. I might sing when I feel up to it or laugh at a joke that my kids made up. I give myself permission to be happy or melancholic and I don’t need you to judge me. I’m trying my best just like everyone else is and I need you to respect that. And maybe you’d be happy in the same circumstances but I’m not because I have higher standards! I don’t need to conform to your views of how I should live my life. You can keep going on like a hamster on a wheel, shoving everything down and pretending to be righteous. Excuse me for not joining your rat race and for stepping aside to do something more meaningful. For having the courage to say, this is not working for me and for looking for something better.

So the next time you see me and I’m not really grinning from ear to ear do yourself a favor and leave. I might be on the brink of a creative endeavor and I don’t need any naysayers to rain on my parade.


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The Rise of the Sensitives

I have known that I’m different for a long time. When the whole world is going east I would be looking west. I gave up meat when I was in 12th grade and also became a Reiki Level II practitioner. I dabbled in yoga and spent Saturday mornings at a home for the mentally challenged. Yes I was different. I felt everything more intensely than everyone else. I just thought I was sensitive and being sensitive of course is considered a bad thing. It is associated with weakness and the inability to cope. Sensitive people would rather be at peace than be right. So often times we keep quiet to keep the peace. It doesn’t mean that we are in agreement with you – it just means that we don’t want to soak up the toxic energy created by an argument. I had to learn to be assertive even though it meant ruffling a few feathers.

Earlier I had to deal with just my emotions but these days I find that I’m picking up on everyone’s vibes and it is very unsettling. For no apparent reason my mood fluctuates. Then I look around me and I see people acting out, depressed, lonely, sad and hopeless. Some who can’t take it any more are ending their lives. There has been a rise in our level of sensitivity as a race. We are no longer living utterly selfish lives filled with apathy. Don’t read the prophecies of doom and gloom that the media is publicizing. Read stories of real people reaching out and helping – fellow humans, animals, trees and other distressed souls. Being tough and street smart aint getting anyone anywhere. Natural disasters, death and disease – humble levelers of us all – have taught us that we need each other and we can’t live in isolation, oblivious to the suffering of others. One day we might be in their shoes and all the money and intellect in the world couldn’t help us. Only another human can. Another sensitive human.

So I wear my sensitivity proudly as if it were a prized possession. Yes it is hard to manage all the emotions swirling around me and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and helplessly at the mercy of my feelings. But over the years I have learned to manage them and divert them for a better cause.

If you are sensitive you understand what another person is going through. You feel their emotions like they are your own. People feel soothed in your presence because you can empathize with them without any exchange of words. You are probably the person who takes all their distress calls.

Being sensitive is a blessing but could be a curse if you don’t know how to manage it. Of course you can manage it! Didn’t you know? You should know when to cut back and retreat so you don’t take on too much of other people’s energies. In Reiki they teach you this. Protect your aura before you start healing another and it applies to all of us even if we are not healers. Certain people can drain you of your energy and you need to identify these energy vampires and stay away from them. Some will be naturally drawn to you but you need to say no because no one benefits when you give at your own expense.

So how do we protect ourselves from being dragged down by the toxic energy around us? One way is obvious – pray and ask for protection. Another way is to stay away from news, media and not so loving people. Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi and qi gong help center us and keep our emotions in balance. Lastly, get away, go on a vacation or simply retreat and rest. Affirm to yourself daily that you will at no cost be pulled into the drama because your nature is peace! Even when people spew out their negativity at you, stay centered and mentally negate the energy so it has no power over you. If it happens too often then try and get away from this person.

Being consciously sensitive is empowering and is in no way a sign of weakness. It is in fact the way to lead this world into a day when loving kindness and peace will prevail. Because loving kindness starts with you.


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Uncertainty and Surrender

For a couple of years now we have been grappling with uncertainty. That strange feeling of not being in control and not knowing where you are headed. It started the year we left Florida. We were supposed to come back to India but somehow ended up in Washington. There again I knew we wouldn’t be staying for long. Every decision and interaction was colored by that knowledge. We all pulled on with bated breaths not knowing what to expect.

That was nothing compared to the state of flux we find ourselves in now. Everything seems to be up in the air, in space, nebulous as I stand gaping open mouthed for it to fall into my outstretched arms. Every day I wait and I return empty handed. The shapes dance and swim out of my vision – mocking me and enticing me with promising futures.

I lie in bed thinking of the world I left behind and the irony of it all is that I had wanted to leave – not when I had but many moons ago. I wanted to come back to something familiar, something certain. Something solid to build our lives on. Not a shifting and shaking earth. I have finally come back but that old familiar feeling has long gone. Gone are my cousins, brother, grandma, friends and so many places and people that made Chennai special. Made Chennai home. Home is a stable and secure place where we can be our best possible selves. But here I find myself flailing in my new surroundings trying to find my sea legs in this tremulous place. I’m not on solid ground. No terra firma here. Just undulating waves of uncertainty that wash you to uninhabited shores. So what does one do?

Uncertainty is part of life you say and I agree. Life wouldn’t be interesting if there weren’t some twists and turns every  now and then. But when uncertainty decides to make your life its primary dwelling place then things can get really sticky. After a point every waking moment is tinged in uncertainty that you simply cannot push it to some corner of your brain. It becomes every breath, every thought. Every instant you struggle with that hollow feeling deep inside and very soon the uncertainty turns into fear. Fear of the future and fear of failure.

Finally when my over wrought nerves could take it no more I sought refuge in God. I pleaded, I begged, I prayed but the uncertainty lingered on. It became bigger and bigger and harder to ignore. At long last when none of the old tricks worked I decided to stop fighting life and to simply surrender. There was no use straining, the shackles only became painfully tighter. No use swimming against the current to attain the unattainable. Let the waves lash, let the emotions smother you and let every damn security you invested in come crashing down. When you lie there stripped of everything, cold and trembling with your head held low in an act of complete and utter surrender, an outstretched hand appears to lift you up and out of the raging waters and soothes your troubled soul. To wipe the tears of frustration and show you hope. Hold on to that hand and never let go for it will take you to where you belong – home.


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I Thought I was Alone…

You can be surrounded by a room full of people and still feel alone…alone in your frustrating circumstances, grappling with seemingly inconsequential problems that no one really sees as problems. How you wish you had someone who would understand! How you wish you could draw strength from your loved ones and fall back on their support! And sometimes the very people who have supported you, fall on hard times. How can you turn to them when they can barely keep afloat? How can they save you from your pain? Ultimately no one can save you and you need to find your strength and pull yourself together. But as humans we also need to connect with others and seek solace in their company.

I was in a limbo, a week ago. Kids had finished a year of school. My contract with the company I was working for was ending. There was a lot of uncertainty in the air and I was feeling the weight of the long year full of challenges and not really looking forward to more of the same. I hadn’t blogged in a while and just couldn’t find any motivation. As I kept sinking into oblivion and praying for redemption at the same time, something magical happened. R sent me an inspiring video that nudged me out of my stupor. I wrote and published a post on my blog, the very same day.

The next day my friend S sent me a message asking how I was doing and sent me prayers and good vibes. Another friend from Florida called me and spoke to me for hours, praising me for sticking it out for a year and not giving up (I know how many times I did and then had to push myself to keep going!) Then several other friends sent me encouraging messages after reading my blog. All of them lifted me up and out of my pity party and I felt reassured in the midst of all their comforting support.

Yesterday I went to see my friend’s grandma who was also my pediatrician for years. Frail of frame at the age of 94 and pushing herself with a walker, her eyes lit up when she saw me. I sat beside her, basking in her comforting presence. She held my hand the whole time squeezing it ever so gently every now and then and told me she would pray for me. Her prayers brought me back from the dead, so many years ago when I was born breached and wasn’t breathing. And as I sat there I realized that the same force that had brought her to my rescue had given me this chance to be in her healing presence. I looked up and on the wall in front of me was a picture of Jesus.

My friend’s Dad reminded me of what my friend had been through and how everything turned out ok in the end even though he had given up all hope. Good things happen when you least expect it, he said. We just need to keep going on and then suddenly the thing you were chasing will fall into your lap. I left their home which is named “Serene” by the way, feeling so at peace, like giant loving arms were embracing me tightly.

Maybe I am trying too hard to make things work when I have absolutely no control over any of this. None of us do and so many of us are hurting because we feel helpless. Personal challenges and the horrors of the world are being unleashed on us. We look around for the ones who always saved us and see them stumbling and falling. Fear can only live when we isolate ourselves and cut ourselves off from all the support available. And sometimes it is not easily available and we think our numerous pleadings have fallen on divine deaf ears. Help may come from the most unexpected of places but it does come if we are open and it nudges us towards greater happiness if we allow it.

Another magical meeting arranged by the universe also happened yesterday and I met an old friend from my days at the Women’s Christian College and Madras University. She too moved to Boston after she got married and we used to meet quite often. I hadn’t met her since 2007 when she left Boston for Chennai. As a writer, she keeps checking on my progress and she came just when I needed to brush off that dusty memoir and get cracking on the next chapter. A writers group that she is a part of is also something I need to get into to inject some discipline into my otherwise erratic writing habits.

When it rains it pours! And the floodgates are open so to speak. As I receive support, more seems to be coming in and I am thankful that I don’t have to go through this all alone. I am opening up to more magic, revelations and miracles in my life.

Hang in there if you feel like you are on a roller coaster and you are all alone. You are not! And help is just an arm’s stretch away…may you find the support, healing, peace, joy and abundance you are looking for. God Bless You!


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Step by Step Approach to Incorporate Gratitude in Your Life Every Day

You all know what I have been through for the past several months and I will spare you a retelling of the dismal details. In the midst of the dark days of my soul, a dear friend L called me. She was doing this exercise in gratitude every day where she would write and give thanks for something that she wanted but was yet to manifest in her life. It was something she had picked up from the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. And most importantly something that I had told her to do a long time ago.

I laughed at the irony of it all. When the time came for me to use gratitude, I had forgotten and had to be reminded. So much for practicing what you preach. Anyways, I was very thankful for that conversation with L and I rang off after promising to write in my gratitude journal. I religiously wrote – I am thankful for a new and wonderful job, for over a month. The universe responded and I landed a job. You probably think it’s too simple or too random. But that is not the case.

My friend L told me that two of her friends who were struggling with some issues had them resolved after practicing gratitude. Gratitude multiplies the gifts of life. Never underestimate the power of gratitude. It is a high vibrational energy that evokes many blessings. So here are some steps to get you started:

Start Small

No matter how bad things are start being grateful for the smallest things. For just being alive or having food on your table, or having a family or a job. If someone does something kind for you say thank you and mean it. If something good happens, however small, say a big thank you to the universe. Stuck in traffic? Be thankful you have a car.

2. Gratitude for Blessings Yet to Come

Sometimes you badly want something but for some reason it doesn’t happen or it seems like you are pushing it away subconsciously. This is when giving thanks for the very thing you want as if it has already arrived, helps. Do it for a month without fail and notice opportunities that show up.

3. Be Clear and Make a List

Writing things down brings it from the subconscious to the conscious and from the unmanifest to the manifest. I know people who have written love lists and manifested partners of their choice. I had written exactly what kind of job I wanted and I even spoke to some people about it. Many believed it was impossible, given the economic downturn, recession, crazy work hours and what not. But I didn’t buy into it. I kept believing that the perfect job would show up and it did. It is all I asked for and more. Little miracles start happening when you fill your heart with gratitude. You have more to be grateful for because the universe does love a grateful heart.

4. Think Big and Impossible Dreams

What you have read in my blog is just a glimpse of what I have been through. Some of it I don’t wish to share. But all you need to know is that it has been no joy ride. And after that if I can tell you that you too can achieve your wildest and IMPOSSIBLE dream, then believe me. Because I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I know for a fact that nothing is impossible for the universe. Don’t put a limit on something with unlimited potential. Now for that beach house with a Zen room decorated in white and purple with windows opening to the ocean – aah!

5. Be Patient

It is all about timing. Divine timing to be precise. Don’t be discouraged and don’t quit. Sometimes the blessing comes in the 11th hour, when you are hanging on to your dear life. For me the last 7 months have been a lesson in patience. Keep the faith and keep that gratitude journal going and I promise you the heavens will open up and shower you with blessings.


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Revisiting a Scary Place

Can’t drive, don’t have a job and hanging on to the last shred of sanity. That pretty much describes my situation today. And I’ve been there before – in some other place, at some other time in my life. And it is a scary place to be. What’s even scarier is the belief that you are helpless and cannot get out of it. The last time I was there I truly believed – this was it! This is how my life would be till my dying day. Which is stupid in retrospect.

This time around I know I can get out of this temporary rut but just don’t know the rules. New place, new rules. Till I master the rules I can’t win in the game of life.

Opportunity knocks, I answer and then the door is slammed in my face. Sometimes no one is at the door and it opens to a blank wall. I just don’t get it sometimes. If you put in the right effort shouldn’t the right results show up eventually? Seems like things have an uncanny way of working in this part of the world or the rules have changed since the last time I was here.

So I slowly drift day in and day out, my energy ebbing, my soul aching for something I cannot articulate and prayer remains my only reprieve. Some days even prayer cannot save me from succumbing to what I call my ‘dark moods’.

Self-esteem issues are intricately wrapped around the work you do and the remuneration you get for it. The last time I was in that scary place it took me nearly a decade to pick myself up and go after my dreams. A lurking fear that I haven’t yet given voice to is, what if it again takes me that long to get out of this situation. I shudder to even think of that possibility. It reminds me of the frog in the well that climbs two feet only to slip back one foot. Only an act of divine grace can send a rope down for the frog to hold on to and be pulled up to safety. For the frog has tried so hard and yet finds itself at the bottom of that impossible well.

My patience has all but worn out in two months, when before an entire decade passed without so much as a whimper. In times like these I wish I had the faith of a mustard seed or a drumstick tree. Drumstick tree you ask? Let me elucidate.

As I washed and prepared a dish of fresh drumstick leaves from our garden, I marveled at the drumstick tree. When we got here three months back, the tree had grown beyond the terrace, with its branches lazily hanging over it. A ladder was all we needed to pick fresh drumstick leaves and tender, sweet drumsticks for sambar.

One rainy night, strong winds lashed outside, making the drumstick tree sway precariously. A strong gust was enough to break it in half. The next morning the entire tree with its drumsticks and leaves lay on the ground. Only a small part of the trunk and the roots withstood the storm. We consoled ourselves saying that its roots were strong and it soon grow back to its original glory. Its roots were indeed strong and in a couple of days we saw sprouts emerging from the knobby trunk. Fresh, bright green, tender sprouts growing with a vengeance. In a matter of weeks we had enough leaves for our weekly meal of drumstick leaves dal. I drew strength from the tree which had lost everything it had worked for. Every single leaf was gone, every single fruit had fallen to the ground. And yet the tree did not whine, complain or get depressed. It didn’t give up and die. It jumped back to life with a renewed vigor. I may be imagining this but it seems to be growing faster than ever before.

After making the dish I went into the garden and stood in front of the tree as if to soak up some of its courage, grit and determination. My burdens felt lighter and I walked back to the house with a smile playing on my lips.


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Slow Down, Chennai!

Almost a month has passed since I moved back to Chennai. It hardly feels like the city I grew up in. Madras as I knew it was a laid back metro, unimpressed by the hustle and bustle and night life of Mumbai and other cities. The city went to sleep at 10.00 p.m. like all its residents. No one stressed about traffic and commute and people were quite happy with their filter coffee and idli-sambar.

Over the past decade, fast food and instant coffee has replaced so many iconic landmarks. I remember eating crispy dosa and vanilla ice cream at Dasaprakash and going to Woodlands Drive-in Restaurant. Or browsing at Landmark bookstore, my favorite haunt. All gone without a trace.

The whole city has a different pulse. A hurried pulse if you will. Everybody is in a hurry. On the road, everyone wants to push past you and get to God knows where. They are going to show up late, anyways. So why bother! Three times this week my kids reported that their bus was hit by another vehicle. Every other day we see an accident on the road and know that it could have been prevented. Moms pick up their kids from school, grab a snack from a convenience store and rush them off to tuition classes. Nobody has time for anyone else.

Everyday is a battle to get to work, clock in nine or more hours, rush home, cook, eat, sleep and repeat. Ladies who opt to stay home have their hands full with temperamental maids (who are also in a big rush!), then tackling kids and their mountains of homework and incessant tests. Kids don’t have time to go outside and play.

Recently, while speaking to a recruiter, we complained about the long commute. The recruiter brushed it off saying that it is normal! A study conducted on commuting stress in Quebec says that a commute lasting more than 20 minutes can lead to burnout. Working 14 plus hours is also deemed normal here. Everyone does it, right? The number of youngsters suffering from blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes is alarming. And yet life goes on. People pop pills and continue abusing their minds and bodies.

If you think I’ve gone soft after staying away from the motherland, think again. I spent 23 years of my life here in Chennai and things were way different then. Some say we don’t have a choice and have to conform to “the way things are”. I want to challenge the status quo and refuse to conform.

So how do we slow down and change the frenetic pace of things? On the road, remember you are not a bull dozer. Slow down, allow people to cross and don’t be in a mad rush to overtake every other vehicle on the road. Don’t cut in front of people waiting in line (if there is no line – form one). Smile and say thank you to people who serve you or hold the door open for you. Work smart so you have time for your family and for relaxation and exercise. Find time to cook simple meals at home. You health and savings account will flourish. Get enough sleep and set aside some time to be by yourself in a quiet space. The noises of the city can drown out that quiet voice of wisdom within you.

When you feel stressed, even if you are at work, go outside for a walk if possible or go to a clean restroom and take deep calming breaths. Stress is something that creeps up on you and builds up till you’re bursting at the seams. It happened to me last week and I found myself yelling at the kids. I had to consciously make a choice to calm down, close my eyes and breathe. This week I’m not waiting for the stress to build up. I am taking time to relax, breathe and center myself. Seems to be working so far. A few days ago the school bus was late but I did not have a panic attack. Life happens and sometimes a good dose of humor helps. Laugh away your cares and move on.

If you want Chennai to slow down, you need to slow down first. Don’t rush through your day. Find time for people and things that matter. You have more than enough time to accomplish everything. So take your time and do the best job you possibly can.