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The Roaring 40s…

The other day I was lamenting to my parents about stubborn belly fat that won’t go away and they told me that happens at “my age”. I felt like it was a little premature for me to be having this conversation but it really got me thinking. I just celebrated a milestone birthday last month and I must say so many things have changed over the past decade. For one, my people pleasing days are over. You like me? Great! You don’t like me? Just get over it because I ain’t gonna bend over backwards to make you my pal. And my body is acting weirdly too. My stomach loudly protests in meetings if it is hungry, while I desperately clear my throat or cough to drown its groans. After a trip to DC where we walked around everywhere because parking is a pain in the city, I was almost immobile for days and had these aches and pains from muscles that are rarely used in my sedentary life. I made a note to myself to start exercising and taking better care of myself. Well, that lasted all of one week. Living with two teenagers drains all the energy out of me. I cannot have a conversation without being interrupted, corrected, or sassed. And chores? Don’t even get me started. As toddlers, they loved cleaning up. They would happily sing Barney’s clean up song and put all their toys away. Now, not only does the clean up song not work but also any amount of screaming and threatening won’t help. Some kid’s mom hides gift cards all over the house for them to find if and when they clean up. Most of her gift cards go undiscovered, so I’m not even going to try that. Sadly, part of you knows they’ll be off to college, leaving behind empty rooms that won’t get messed up till they come visit. That’s when you sigh and clean up the mess yourself.

I’ve connected with so many people over the last decade thanks to social media. So I should be grateful for technology right? No! Technology sucks! Ten years ago people used to call to wish you on your birthday. Now it’s just a bunch of messages on your social media page. 100 plus messages and yet that makes me feel mighty poor. Technology has its place, but condolences sent as text messages? That’s where I draw the line. If you can’t be with the person physically, then at least call. Losing someone close is incredibly painful, don’t make them feel like they don’t have anyone else they can turn to. And no one sends handwritten thank you notes anymore, except people from an older generation, so I’m going to let that slide.

It’s when you are at my age that you find older friends and family leaving for a better place and it makes you wonder about life and your purpose. Are we all here to study, work, marry, birth babies, send them to college, retire and die? Or is there something bigger than that? Today, I’m in a place in my life where I yearned to be in my 20s, but I find that the dream has lost its luster and left me feeling mildly unsatisfied. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful because indeed I’m blessed with all that I need and more. But I don’t feel like that is an accomplishment or something to be smug about.

Words get muddled up in my head sometimes and I end up saying things like “I gave up coffee cold shoulder” instead of “I gave up coffee cold turkey!” I mix up words and their meanings sometimes too and it is not very flattering given that I work as an editor. And I’m thinking I’m just 40, this can’t be happening to me. Maybe I’m doing something wrong here but I don’t know what. The last time I checked, these things happened to retired people! So much for the roaring 40s, I’m too pooped to go out with my friend during the week to network over cocktails. Maybe this is when life gives you a sneak preview of your later years or maybe it’s a wake up call to take better care of yourself so you’ll end up living a full life till the day you are gone. I don’t know. Check back with me in a decade!


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Dear Universe…

I have stayed positive, written in my gratitude journal, prayed every day and tried to be one with your flow. And nothing! Zilch!

I know you hate it when I live in the past but I can’t help it. Just look at last year – 2012. It was nothing short of magical. You got me writing again after a long hiatus and people were actually reading my posts! You egged me on to start my own website and I did. It was scary but I got all the support I needed thanks to you. I even got my posts published in other websites. I started off with zero confidence in my skills as a writer and by the December of 2012 you had me thinking that I could write a book! I felt free, fully alive and at the height of my creativity.

Magical meetings with old friends, a trip to India at very short notice to attend my cousin’s wedding and miraculous healing – you made all this and more possible! The new year 2013 looked full of promise and I happily jumped headlong into it. And then splat! I fell on my face! Without any warning. It was painful. I felt abandoned. The magic was gone. The creativity barely trickling. I had a good mind to quit and go hide in the bowels of the earth where no one would find me. But I had kids who looked up to me and I had readers I was accountable to. And then there was my baby – my website.

It took all of my strength to keep myself from sinking into dark despair and deep depression. Everyday I told myself that things would get better. I just need to keep at it. The creativity will flow again. This dry spell will pass. Month after month went by in banality, half-alive, hanging by a thread.

You sent many distractions my way to shift my focus. People who needed support, prayers and healing. It was your way of preventing me from having a meltdown. As much as I appreciate what you did I can’t help asking – where was the support I so badly needed. Why were you holding it back from me?

It’s July now and things haven’t changed. I wanted a fresh start, something different but you thwarted it. So I’m back to where I started. Sometimes I just want to scream till I can scream no more. It’s like every cell in my body is calling out for help. But you turn a deaf ear to me.

Yes you keep sending me signs – pennies here, clover leaves there, butterflies everywhere. Just the other day I was walking in the mall and having a conversation with you. I give up. I can’t take this anymore! I look down and I see a penny. Very funny!

You know how patient I’ve been. You know how long I have waited to finally do what I love and then you just expect me to give up the binky cold turkey?

Maybe I should just write off this year. It’s sort of like a ‘test year’ isn’t it? You are watching me and watching my every move. You want to know if I will throw it all away when the frustration peaks. Or do I want it so bad that I will keep on going on even though it feels like I have iron shackles on my feet. You want to see if I have truly overcome the demons of the past that keep dragging me down away from your light. Will I still be able to spread the light, despite fear and doubt gnawing at my heart.

Are you happy with the way I dealt with everything you threw at me this year? I think so! The struggle was under the surface. Outside it was business as usual – kids, blog and everyday life. I watched others struggle with major crises in their lives. The drama in the world escalated. It was hard to wake up every day to the constant chatter of death, injustice and despair.

But through your infinite grace you sent little rays of light in what would have otherwise been an endless tunnel of darkness. Although the magic had temporarily left my life I could see it unfolding in the lives of many a friend. Friends who had waited patiently for many years, praying and hoping for something to manifest. Folks in a slump who found renewed strength and pulled themselves up to face the world again. It made me feel so happy and thankful to finally see them have breakthroughs.

On a final note, I have no idea what your plans for me are. Why don’t you just surprise me? In the mean time I have enough evidence from my own life and  from friends and family to simply sit tight and wait it out. I know you are busy working things out for me now. In your own way. In your own time. All I can do is trust and stay open until you work your magic again.

 


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Yo-Yo Feminism and the Unsung Glories of a Die-Hard Housewife…

My mom had this plaque on the living room wall when I was a kid. It read…

I’m just a little housewife

With dishes three times a day

With laundry and cleaning and cooking

And toys to put away

Now it’s not that I mind the housework

Or the screaming kids at play 

It’s that husband that burns me

When he says with a smile

Did you do anything today??!!??       

I’d like to say that is the story of my life. But that wouldn’t be true. I go back and forth between being a domestic goddess and a die-hard feminist.  You just have to walk into the house to know which avatar has taken hold of me. The DG version will have the house vacuumed, dishes done and dinner prepared well ahead of time. She will also be humming a tune as she scrubs the tub and she might even bake a batch of cookies for the kids.

It’s a whole different story when the feminist takes over. You will have to hop over the shoes strewn in the foyer to get to the living room, from where you can see the mountain of dishes piled up in the sink. Your truly will be on the couch wearing a grungy T-shirt and stained PJs. As the kids rummage the kitchen for something to eat, la femme reluctantly uproots herself from the couch and grudgingly makes dinner. Cupboards will be slammed, pots and pans banged around, while she mutters something about being a slave!

The unsuspecting husband walks in. “Hello”, he pipes. Only to be met with an icy stare. He knows better than to say something because that is all she needs. One word and she’ll start her tirade against all men and the thankless job of being a housewife.

Out here in the U.S., nobody uses the term housewife. It’s home maker or stay-at-home mom, which are equally unglamorous, unless you are in a reality show – The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! These glam dolls just have to dress up, have lunch dates and dinner parties, launch perfumes, vodkas or clothing lines (another excuse for a party!). They also meet with their dermatologists and plastic surgeons regularly. They are a poor representation of the common housewife and a sorry lot.

While there is some part of me that envies them- the part that doesn’t like housework I’m guessing – I wouldn’t last a day in their silicone/botox world. Also being a person who hates the limelight I’d rather live a life of obscurity than have a camera crew taping my every move! So all I can do is pretend I’m a diva and expect the imaginary help to do the chores. When I’m done with being a diva or the house starts to stink, whichever come first, I suck it up and go back to being domestic goddess.

An unpaid job is a thankless job. There is no reward for cleaning up your house except that you have a clean house. There is no reward for cooking fresh meals for your family, except that you all enjoy vibrant health. There is no glory in showing up day after day at the bus stop to pick up your kids after school. No glory in sweating it out in a hot soccer field as your child plays. No bonuses to be had. No promotions to work for. Just the quiet satisfaction of watching your children grow up. Just having enough time to smell the flowers. Just the wisdom to know that life is magical and is unfolding right before your eyes.

Oh who am I kidding? I have often wished fairy god mother would show up, wave her wand and turn me into a princess and turn the mice and cockroaches in my house into maids, cooks and ladies-in-waiting! Until then I will never cease to sing my glories, be a domestic goddess and fight for my rights!

P.S. Domestic goddess just read this post and she insists there are NO mice or cockroaches in the house. Did I mention she was appalled?


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Journaling, Writing, Venting…

I almost didn’t write this post. Here’s what happened. I started writing about forgiveness (forgiving 101 was to be the title of this note) and then as I was writing so much anger welled up in me that I decided I’m not ready to write about forgiveness because ‘I’ have a lot of forgiving to do. Then, since I had so much anger I thought I should write a note – Anger 101. But guess what you end up writing when you are angry- trash! Anger channels your basest, most revolting, negative-times-three emotions. The reason I am sharing all this is to make it known to all who have been following my posts that I am far from perfect. I am still learning and growing everyday and I do try to live up to a certain standard. I succeed sometimes and I fail sometimes.

And since writing brought me to this realization I decided to write about journaling. I used to keep a daily journal when I was in school. Then I started one when I got married and stopped because I used to write everytime I was upset and reading that stuff later made me cringe! Then I started writing only the inspiring stuff and now I have a journal full of stuff I’ve read, heard or seen over the past decade and it’s just awesome. It’s like a pick-me-up.

So if you have never done this before, start by buying a journal. Decide how often you want to pen your thoughts. If you live a very active, hectic life, peppered with a lot of stress, I suggest you write everyday. Place the journal on your night stand and write for 5 minutes before you go to bed. Don’t force it, just write whatever comes to your mind. It should be relaxing. Let it all out. You can write about something good that happened in your day (gratitude journal). Or something bad that happened in your day. Can be very cathartic. But once you are done venting on paper, remember to write how you wished it had happened. Say you mucked up a presentation at work, imagine the opposite. Like you had done such a great job that the boss came and shook hands with you and commended your work and then write about it. So that way you shift your energy and focus on something good before you tuck in for the night.

Sometimes you can use a journal to write affirmations. Positive statements about things that you want to change in your life. Again, doing this  before bed time is good. Instead of affirmations you could communicate with God in a journal. Have all your prayers, all your thank you notes to God in one place. Some people are not good with saying prayers or their prayers are limited to religious texts. I think it really helps to write or say your own prayers too. It is a powerful exercise and that way you have a closer relationship with God.

There is one other way you can journal too and I do this. Some of you might think it’s weird but I feel compelled to write this because many of us have to deal with the death of a loved one in our lifetime. And although this sounds spooky, it really helps to write to them. I had a lot of things that went unsaid between my grandma and me before she passed away. I felt a lot of guilt. I wished I had spent more time with her. I wished I had told her how much she meant to me and how much I admired her. And many a day I spent crying and feeling utter loss. Almost like I was orphaned. Then I got a message on television from John Edward, the medium who can channel departed souls. He was asking people to write to their loved ones.

So I wrote to my grandma once and it felt good, although I was crying throughout the process. Then I wrote everytime I missed her. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Festivals. And slowly the guilt and pain disappeared and was replaced with gratitude. I highly recommend it if you have lost someone very close and feel like you can’t move on, miss their guidance in your life, or simply couldn’t say everything you wanted to say to them before they shed their mortal shells.

You can also write letters to people you need to forgive and whom you cannot confront now. But please don’t post the letter. The reason you are writing now is because the person has not asked for forgiveness. Is blissfully unaware that you are still hurting after 365 days. And also because they don’t think they have done anything wrong! More on this in forgiving 101 (if it ever gets published!)

So here is where I am…I think writing once a week is kind of tricky after what happened this weekend. So I’m going to write every day starting today…so I have more clarity when I’m writing something I’m going to share with all of you. When will you start and what will you write in your journal?