Days of Gratitude (Dec 1-3)

After last night’s reflection, I decided on a gratitude challenge for December; I’m not yet sure if I’ll post everyday or do cumulative posts. So, here we go! 🙂

Gratitude for December 1:

  • A delicious avocado toast and smoothie for breakfast after walking more than a kilometer in Vancouver.
  • Enjoyable and enriching conversations with my friend, ST, as we walked along the Vancouver SeaWall. Even though it was cold and raining, we made the best of our time in Vancouver by exploring the city a little bit, but also resting and eating well.
  • Having the entire evening to read the book ‘Em and the Big Hoom’, as recommended by a close friend S.
  • Delicious ice-cream at Daniels’ in Vancouver – their coconut ice-cream is yummy and mixing it with dark chocolate made it taste sweet enough but not too sweet.
  • I like collecting magnets as souvenirs for the places I visit. I have been to Vancouver several times but didn’t have anything from there! This time, I was able to select and buy fridge magnets very quickly (something that almost never happens for me)!

Gratitude for December 2:

  • Enriching conversations with my friend, S, about ‘Em and the Big Hoom’  that led to other interesting conversations.
  • Watching the movie Julie & Julia and writing a reflective post about it.
  • I also wrote a little bit in my journal about some career decisions I need to make.
  • Happy to be back home and sleep in my bed after a week!

Gratitude for December 3:

  • Sleeping in on a Sunday morning, partly due to jet lag, but it’s been a while since I was able to sleep in until 11 a.m.!
  • After a week of gray skies and rain in Vancouver, I am so thankful for a sunny day and the sunlight steaming into my living room and bedroom.
  • A quiet day at home where I got a chance to unpack, clean, and plan for the week!
  • Here’s a hilarious story – I attempted to take a bath with epsom salts today because I have been having a lot of back pain. I envisioned spending some time in a relaxing bath with lavender and eucalyptus scents and something to read! Since I couldn’t decide what to read, I took three options to the bathroom – a book, a research paper, and my phone. Yeah, I know I’m crazy! Lo and behold, once in the tub, I couldn’t find a comfortable position and didn’t get around to read anything! So much for preparation huh! On a serious note – how do people drink wine and read in the bath! I was hot and impatient and couldn’t find a comfortable spot, I tried to do a body scan with no luck, and eventually gave up! I think I still soaked for about 20 minutes though, so I declare it a success!

On that note, it’s late and I should sleep now! Have a good week, everyone! See you soon! 🙂

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Finding meaning in Life!

On a flight from Vancouver to Toronto today, I finally watched the inspiring movie ‘Julie & Julia’. The movie is based on two books that tell the true stories of Julia Child and Julie Powell. Julia Child moves to Paris with her husband for his work and finds herself bored after a point. As she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her time, she goes back to what she enjoys the most and decides to take French cooking lessons. She is excellent at it and eventually writes a unique cookbook about French cooking for Americans! In a different time and world, Julie Powell is unhappy with her day job, wants to write but is unable to finish her first novel, and hates the new apartment she and her husband move to in Queens, NY. In an attempt to find meaning in life, she goes back to something that she loves and that happens to be food. Being a fan of Julia Child’s French cookbook, she signs up for a challenge to cook the 524 recipes in 365 days and to write about them. Although I don’t care much about food, I really enjoyed the movie. What resonated the most with me is how both Julie and Julia find joy by following something they love and that makes their life richer. They are also both fortunate to have good friends and supportive and encouraging spouses, aspects that (in my opinion) help them on their journey.

I’ve been thinking about happiness and living a meaningful life for a while. This Oatmeal comic perfectly describes how I feel – life is not about being happy or feeling good all the time, but about engaging in things that stimulate, interest, and fulfill you. Even when you don’t enjoy the temporary frustration that comes with these activities. Watching this movie brought me back to this question again – what it is that I want to do with my time and energy? What brings me joy? Reflecting on my behavior and interests, I think what I derive satisfaction the most from are conversations about gender and race issues, systemic inequities, and mental and emotional well-being. No matter how tired I am, I usually find time to read about these things and am almost always willing to talk about them with like-minded people and I find myself content when these conversations lead to mutual learning and growth. The other things I enjoy are reading, writing, and photography. For about a year, I would post pictures on Instagram, once or twice a week. I either wrote a reflective caption or read and found quotes that resonated with the picture I was sharing. In the recent months, I haven’t found much time to do that and miss it.

Since December is my birthday month and the last month of the year, I want to sign-up for a challenge. However, my work doesn’t end according to a regular workday and I have many deadlines in the next three months, so I don’t want to set lofty goals. I want to set a small goal for an everyday activity, see how it affects my energy and mood, and maybe it can become a part of my self-care routine (that is almost non-existent at the moment). In October, I wrote about writing everyday. While I haven’t been able to do that regularly, I have been writing a little bit more than I was writing and that makes me happy! Anyway, going back to the challenge, I have narrowed it down to either of these two ideas and will decide on one soon, hopefully!

  1. A gratitude challenge for December either on the blog or on Instagram.
  2. Posting a picture everyday on Instagram, and actually spending time to find a quote or writing something about it, the way I used to in the past.

What about you? What brings you joy and satisfaction? Do you like small challenges? Want to join me on one this month? 🙂

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Butter

“The sweet French accent
that turns your heart into butter
before melting it”, you wrote.

It’s the second time
you called me ‘dear’,
albeit on text
this time!
I’ve lost count
of the months we’ve been apart,
yet here we are.

My heart still melts
into butter
when I see your text
or hear your voice.
Even though we recently met
as friends
and I claim to have moved on.
Even though I’ve loved
and lost, again,
since then.

I still look for you
when I meet someone new.
Last Friday,
over drinks on a first date,
all I found interesting
was how he pronounced a few words
exactly the way you did!
I wish it was enough
to melt my heart
into butter
like you did.

P.S. It’s an Adele kind of night here!

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On anxiety and writing!

It has been too long since I’ve written here and I have many half written drafts sitting in my wordpress account. I think of writing almost every day yet something gets in the way. More often that not, it’s work that’s supposed to take priority over other things. Of course, I’m not always working, but I feel like I should be working. And so, when I am not working, I often spend time browsing the internet as I procrastinate and attempt to work. It’s 2 am on a Friday night and I’m at my sister’s place for Diwali. Everyone is already asleep, so I decided to turn my computer on to write because I have been itching to do that for a few weeks now. As soon as I saw the screen, the million open tabs on my browser and over a hundred unread emails, I felt the pressure to read and respond to urgent work emails and other things. Sometimes, even when I’m not working on the million things on my list, I feel the pressure to be working on those things and that makes me anxious. I have been noticing my anxiety getting a little out of control over the past few months, I think I need to cultivate habits to deal with it.

Another thing that I’ve been struggling with is perfectionism or setting a criterion for what is ‘good enough’ for me. When I start writing a post, I feel the pressure to write a good post and that partly explains the many unfinished drafts. Often, especially recently, I have started to write a post and abandoned it halfway because it did not seem to be good enough to be publicly shared. I feel that if I’m writing and posting something on the blog, it needs to be a deep reflective piece. Not just stupid random thoughts in my head. Just the thought of publishing this post is making me anxious. But I need to stop pushing myself and I am going to publish this.

I read this post a few days ago and it hit a raw nerve. This is an important reminder for me to stop thinking about the changes I want to make in life and actually start doing something towards it. Two immediate steps that I intend to take in this direction are to practice mindfulness meditation for at least 10 minutes and start writing in a journal or on the blog, everyday. Interestingly, I have actually never written in a journal. I have written letters to people but nothing solely for myself. In one of my recent therapy sessions, we were discussing my struggles with anxiety and perfectionism and how it’s inhibiting my writing, something that used to bring me joy. My therapist suggested writing in a journal since that takes the external pressure of judgement away from expressing myself and might help build in self-reflection and mindfulness. I think it’s time to take baby steps, meander into new directions, and find a path that feels right to me.

How have you been? Hope life has been kind and you are doing well!

Song on my mind – Ilahi from Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani

P.S. I completed a year in Toronto on September 30 and there are many exciting updates I need to share with you! So, on that note, I will see you soon!

 

 

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Drowning

It feels like
the water is up to your nose
and you’re trying really hard
to just keep breathing
and treading water
to reach the shore…
However
you don’t know
where the shore is,
or how far…
All you know is
you need to
keep treading water
and hope that the level recedes..

You meet friends
old and new
that warm your heart…
But when they are close,
you feel the water level
rise a little more…
You miss loved ones
when they are not around
but don’t know how
to breathe in their presence..

You can’t understand
why you’re struggling
when this water is your favorite color…
Why the plankton and rocks
and the beautiful fishes
that add meaning to your journey
also suffocate you…

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Letting go…

“If you didn’t love him, this never would have happened. But you did. And accepting that love and everything that followed it is part of letting it go.” – Sarah Dessen

I have written about B a few times – how beautiful that relationship was, the things we shared, and the heartbreak following the end of that relationship. A little over two months ago, I decided to stop talking to him since conversations with him re-opened my wounds each time and made me yearn for something more with him. In the past two months, we briefly talked once when I called him to share something very important to me. I also text him a link to the post I wrote when I wanted to commemorate our non-existent one-year anniversary. I don’t think he read it.

A week ago, B called me and we talked for an hour, catching up and talking about lots of different things. As we talked about life and books and politics, he said that he misses this and that it’s been too long since we talked and that we should talk more often. More than once. I have always enjoyed talking to him and was really happy to hear that. His words also gave me hope about what I meant to him. I spent a couple of days wondering if he misses me more than ‘as a friend’. My heart built many castles in the air, I dreamed of a reunion in Pittsburgh, traveling together, and his moving to Toronto. Eventually, sanity prevailed and I rationalized that he probably just misses me as a friend. Even then, I spent a lot of time over-analyzing everything he said and wondering if he’s still seeing someone and if we could ever be together and how that would happen and so on.

As I got exhausted of living with this anxiety for a week, I called him yesterday and asked him these questions. He confirmed what my rational mind knew – he is still seeing this person and he misses talking to me as a friend. In the past, whenever we have had these conversations, I have found myself breaking down into tears and feeling really upset about not having a chance at a relationship with him. Yesterday, however, I felt okay. I have been working on accepting the end of this relationship for the last two months. It’s still hard and I often find myself reminiscing about moments shared with him. I still shed tears of sadness and wistfulness for what could have been but I’ve been trying to accept that it’s over. Yesterday, I did feel another pang of sadness after last week’s anticipation but I also felt at peace. I felt at peace knowing that I don’t need to wait and over-analyze and guess if and how and when we can be together, because he is not there. He doesn’t feel the same way for me, all these feelings and wishes are only in my heart and mind.

This conversation also told me that I must have meant something to him, our relationship last summer and our friendship since I left. I had been grappling with this question for quite some time now. I also realized  yesterday that the most likely reason I have not been able to get over him is that I haven’t met anyone who I see myself being in a long-term relationship with. When I was with him, it felt right. I haven’t met anyone who has felt right since then.

I know that this is not the end. I still have a lot of memories to process and let go of little-by-little. However, this is a big change that surprised me and I wanted to make a note of this as a reminder for the days when I miss him and yearn for the lost moments that we never had.

Song on my mind – Skyfall by Adele

 

 

 

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A(nother) letter to you!

Today marks a year since we first met and also three and a half weeks since we last talked. I’ve been debating this past week if I should text you or not. Of course, I want to… I don’t want to let this day go by unacknowledged. I have missed you in this time that we haven’t talked, more often than I used to. But I am also trying to give myself the space and time I need to get over you and I don’t know how this would affect that…

I asked myself what I would say to you, if I were to text or call you. There’s nothing new to add to how I feel about you and what I’ve already told you. I think I would probably just say, “I hope you’re doing well and the apartment move and the language exams went well. I have been thinking about this day and couldn’t not say something about it. It’s been a year since we met. While I wish the present situation was different, I am so grateful for having met you and the experiences that we shared.. Thank you for everything!”

I also asked myself why is it so important for me to say these things to you… One of the biggest reasons is because I am incredibly happy and thankful for having met you – we shared some moments that will always be special… The last year and a half has been a period of incredible personal growth for me and you have been a part of that journey in some ways. From being positive and supportive for all the big life decisions I took to helping me get comfortable with my body and sexuality, you were there for me in ways I didn’t expect… Once I am in a better position in my life, I want to go back to being friends with you… However, a tiny voice in my heart also says that I want to say these things because I don’t want you to forget me… I want to stay relevant in your life because I don’t want to close the door on this relationship in case you change your mind or move to Toronto. This is despite the agony that this unsolicited waiting has put me through over the last few months. I know that it’s not fair to me to want someone so badly when I am an afterthought in their life. But that’s where I’m at right now.

Yesterday, I was looking at pictures from last year – some from our time together and some others… It’s interesting how time for most of my last year is defined by our relationship – the first time I met you, the trips we made, comments you made on my pictures with friends, my travels after I left, and so on. Looking at those pictures, those memories almost feel surreal… It’s been so long since we last met that when I saw those pictures, the happy faces and the different places, I almost wondered – were we really there? Yet, every now and then, I clearly hear your voice in my head – a memory of something you said or did bringing a smile to my face… Just this morning, I remembered how you said ‘Good Morning Sunshine’ when you woke me up in the morning. These moments are usually followed by an intense longing for that time and you in my life…

Some part of me also wonders, do you remember it? I was not not expecting to hear from you because I know that you will respect the fact that I told you that I need some space to get over you. But do you remember today that we met a year ago? Does it mean anything to you? I know you are seeing someone else and I also know that you said that the time we spent together was one of the happiest in your life and that I’m special for you. As always, I still find myself wondering, how much did I really mean to you?

I’ll just end this by saying that some part of me will always love you and wish you well.

Song on my mind – I will always love you by Whitney Houston

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