Category Archives: Opinion

Give Your Child the Gift of an Unrushed Life

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The world is scrambling at a maddening speed. I am perplexed where it is headed and why the rush and yet, sun rises in a lightning and sets shamelessly eating monotony for breakfast. Life, like sand, keeps slipping between the fingers.

Stuck in the middle of all this chaos are little souls who keep no business with schedules. They are involved with sweet business with earthworms and slugs, they search for rainbows over rainy skies. They make sand angels and emit sweetest pitter-patter of the world. They dream of houses with go-carts and rockets. They are the innocence we lose as adults. We get so used to the status quo, the politics at work, or demands of daily lives that no toy in the marketplace can replace the innocence God gave them at birth.

What happens to sap that innocence out to make them adults?

Rush.

Rush to get places. Rush to grow up. Rush to make money. Rush to rise up the chain.

Rush.

So, if you must gift them just one thing – skip past the toy aisle, cancel that meeting you put on the calendar to please your boss, and take the afternoon off. Break that routine. And, linger with your child like you were a child yourself, not aware of the seriousness of life. Children are gifts only for some to enjoy during certain parts of their lives. Because they grow up. Teach them now before it is too late to be unrushed. Career can wait. Promotions can wait. But time we have with each other never returns. So, teach them how to live their entire life, unrushed, just the way God created them.

I do nothing!

“I do nothing,” she said.

I cocked my head up with a furrowed brow. My pen screeched an abrupt end to its scribbling in an unintentional, crooked line. “She does nothing,” reverted in my conscience in a million echos. The slogan rang endlessly in my brain.

The uproar inside my mind was so agonizing I pulled up Wikipedia to learn what the people of the world did. How many were doctors and how many were engineers, how many janitors, how many rulers?

But she did nothing.  Eh….ehh…sigh. Something did not add up.

57% of women are in labor force according to the US department of labor. What about the 43%?

What about those who take care of others and are unpaid? Do they do nothing? Of course, not.

Yet, why does one have to wear nice clothes, sit in a meeting, and bring home a paycheck to be somebody?

When this individual woman said she did nothing as though grooming little hearts, preparing them for life was not a worthy enough chore to be called something, it rang a painful chord in my heart.

I am a working mother. I pride the work I do. And it is true I am unable to stay at home being a full-time mother. To me, getting ready for work, parking beneath a building I call my workplace, and say, making presentations on PowerPoint is paramount to my identity as an individual.

What is a woman who stays at home to take care of her family and home? A house wife? When did being a wife to a person became a profession? And how did it amount to the statement, “I do nothing.”

But you do, my friend, you do. Even though I am unable to do your job full-time. You are a smile generator, a worry squeezer. You are a care giver, a self-less person who puts others before your own self. You don’t do nothing. You shape the future of the world by nurturing the future into decent human beings. What you do is priceless.

You do plenty. Never ever say, “I do nothing.”

Which Job Is Stress Free?

I know what I want. It is not wasting away on an island doing nothing. That is not my idea of bliss. Keeping my mind occupied is goal number one. A close second is keeping the mind occupied with meaningful work! But after a rough day, all I want is that mango martini on that deserted beach with only the sound of crashing waves. And I wonder to myself, what job is stress free?

What makes a job stressful?

Too Much Work

If work continues to outnumber the time we have in a day, guess what? It is fighting a losing battle. Fatigue is not caused by how much work one accomplishes in a day. Fatigue comes from the amount of work pending. It is exhausting to hit the sack knowing all that is left to do. Even more exhausting is the knowledge that no matter how hard I work, the workload is going to increase disproportionately.

Time away from loved ones

When you love your work beyond words, you do not count hours. More hours you contribute, bigger the joy. But there is a line in the sand. If work keeps you from people you love the most on a routine basis, the balance tilts. When you are away from family a lot, it matters if it is from your own personal choice or your company’s demands.

Feeling of helplessness

If I control my workload, how much and when, wonderful. But when corporations expect employees to problem solve with their hands tied, the feeling that here is nothing I can do to make this problem go away is frustrating and stressful

People People People

Once eating lunch with colleagues, we were exchanging notes on what we wanted to do next in our career growth. Most talked about roles and responsibilities. More money? Sure, why not? When my turn came, my answer astounded others. I wanted to work with people I respected and got along with. Period. For me, my work life is people, period. It is about making relationships. A bad relationship can make you feel alone and desolate at work and conversely, can be a magnet that brings you to work with imaginary springs under your heels.

In my opinion, realistic goals and cautious autonomy yields best results. But let us say, we land a job with great people, good money, manageable workload, great work-life balance, would we be stress-free as a floating leaf in a gentle breeze?

My heart stops short in saying no. Because stress also comes from your heart and your reaction to circumstances. Some people can operate in stress and continue to spend time with their families and shrug it off. Some toss into the night.

Managing stress is a direct consequence of your attitude. And I will leave you with a quote I remember vaguely from my ancient history…

You cannot change the world around you but you can change your attitude and when you change your attitude, you will find you have changed your world.

What We Can All Learn From The Solar Eclipse?

It was that type of an event where a gaggle of women working out together pulled out their phones in the middle of a workout to check the weather for. The solar eclipse was a big deal. And as the astronauts, scientists and regulars like me cheered, the philosopher in me also chimed in with an emphatic yes, yes it was great, and I hope most people in and around its path took a moment’s pause. Yes, I hope we thought about what the solar eclipse meant not just in the grand, scientific manner but in life in general. With my philosopher hat on, witnessing the moon eclipse the enormous Sun taught me a few lessons.

All darkness is transient

Darkness falls and it moves away. In life, when the going gets tough and it feels like we cannot take the darkness another second, remind yourself darkness will travel out as hurriedly as it rushed in. Hang in there.

The enormity of life

Our lives revolve around a tiny sphere. Ever stood under the shadow of a giant mountain and felt small? Well, the solar eclipse reminded us of world outside of our tiny troubles consisting of real objects in motion, and how do such large bodies in motion maintain such order? How close are we to chaos, after all?

There are things beyond our understanding

It is okay to admit to blind spots and to realize so much of our own life is outside of our own control. It is easy to feel the control when focusing on objects around us, finding the right job, tackling work problems, finding the right life partner, but in the grand scheme of things, really, are we the masters?

Something so small can eclipse something so large

How can the little stuff bother great humans for life on end? A tiny Moon, 400 times smaller than the Sun, is capable of eclipsing it, taking from it its light, its power even if for a few moments. Conversely, never judge a person by how less they have. A small person can move great things by doing the right thing at the right time. Nobody is too small to succeed. If the small pebbles can hurt the most, small efforts can pay off big dividends.

So I will thank the solar eclipse of 2017 for reminding me how small I am compared to the grand scheme of the universe and lending a unique perspective to me, one that I will carry close to my heart as I get ready to face a new day in the morning.

 

 

 

What we can learn from coffee and tea drinkers?

Once upon a time, I would look at tea/coffee drinkers with a furrowed brow. For the greater part of my life, I have been an avid water drinker. I socially drank “the tea” or “the coffee,” but it was never a necessity of my day until recently.

A tea drinker’s day works like a clockwork. When the tea hour strikes, their senses heighten, they smell the imaginary aroma and hunt for a drop of its taste, a behavior I termed as “an addict behavior.”

Until I succumbed to its sweet bosom myself. When I had my third child, sleep was a rare commodity, and coffee kept me going. Now, I truly can appreciate my daily tradition, one of sitting down and sipping coffee. For those on the other side of the fence, there are lessons we can learn from the tea and coffee drinkers of the world. I know because I have lived in both worlds.

  1. Learn to take a pause
    Days come and vanish at a lightening speed. Daily tasks keep us wound. But tea drinkers stoop to their habit, cut the cycle of chores, and take a pause to reach for that cup, sit down and relish its taste. A pause is a necessary barrier of an endless stream of life.
  2. Relax
    There is something relaxing about a hot beverage. The daily habit pays by delivering subconscious relaxation.
  3. Socialize
    It is a great way to socialize.
  4. Create dreams on paper
    Coffee/tea is writers’ choice of beverage. To me, coffee belongs next to a pen and gets the creative juices flowing. Words bubble on paper and take meaningful form with each warm and sweet gulp.I do not regret jumping on the tea/coffee drinker’s bandwagon.

 

Give Me the Pitter-Patter of Rain

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I am a simple being
I ask for no riches or no acclaim
Let me live my life under a shady tree
Watch the clouds wander away with a pen in my hand

I have simple demands
I want no fame or no fortune
A dash of love, a dollop of comfort
Makes the pudding of my life complete

No luxuries, no castles
An old, rusty shack I take
But give me, my God
Pitter-patter of rain.

The wisdom to let go
The ability to abandon worry
I need not the fancy automobile
When it is my mind, all I ought to conquer

How to unwind at the end of a busy work day?

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A bad day is an inessential ingredient of an over-stimulated brain that disallows a quiet nighttime sleep. All you need is an over-active, busy day to stay awake or toss in your sleep into the wee hours of the night unless you are a sleep-deprived parent like me who can sleep through a storm.

The recipe of unwinding also seems elusive. Positive thoughts therapy fails. Deep breaths feel useless. So, how do you unwind the tape of daily past events?

I have discovered a few evening habits help me unwind. Sharing the same with my fellow readers. Maybe, we can compare notes.

  1. Play/Laugh like a child Just like a good cry, a hearty laugh goes a long way in letting it all out. I have to apply the same tactic to help my toddler blow off steam when he gets frustrated on being unable to use words to express the strong feelings inside his heart. We roll on the floor until our eyes tear up. At the end of it, I do not know if it is therapy for the little guy or his mother. When he grows up, I will have to use a more mature tactic to continue to laugh and play because he will be too old to roll on the floor.
  2. Read a great book Only a book has the power to transplant you away from your misery into an alternate reality. Book is better than TV because a reader along with the writer joins in the imagination of the scenes. Read.
  3. Writing Only activity better than reading a book in my mind is reading your own! Writing your story is like reading a book while it is forming, line-by-line. Vent out on paper. It works wonders.
  4. Hot Shower My most creative ideas for writing come in the shower. It helps wind down as well.
  5. Gardening/Watering the plants There is a calmness around watching a flower bloom, nourishing it out of soil. It is a great way to end a day.
  6. Hugs I am blessed with three little ones. Our evenings involve joint, giant hugs. I will take my daughter and rock with her. It is enough to expel all the negative energy inside me.
  7. Pray/Meditate I am not big on religion. But I am thankful I was raised to pray that now I am adult, praying is second nature. When I lack prayers for myself, I pray for others. It heals the spirit.

 

Those are my methods of winding down. What are yours?

Vacation Right

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There is a lovely paradox surrounding a vacation, the hunger for it and the anxiety of it. This love like the other “person-to-person” love comes with a dent.

The paradox begins while packing for a long, much-anticipated vacation. The stress of packing the right gear…at least for those of us who do not have a genie or a paid help or a super-organized person who loves us dearly and has the time to pack for us.

Surviving the packing challenge, leads to the second layer of the paradox. As you fly above the clouds, there is a longing for the comfort of the home you left behind – the smell of cocoa, if you will, the touch of your mattress or the luxury of having everything at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. We leave it behind to live from a suitcase in hope of a better, grander place. We hope the flight above the clouds will land us on to something spectacular and powerful enough to expel our pain and our sufferings in one happy jolt or a slow-absorbing tonic. But what if the lofty expectation fails to deliver?

But it will fail to deliver, certainly.

Because the expectation of bliss is based on a faulty premise.

Lo and behold, the plane touches down and life remains, life. A clap of lightening and a roaring thunderstorm welcomes us, or if the sun is shining brilliantly, something happens with the reservation we thought we made months ago, or you know, life happens.

The expectation surely fails to deliver because we cannot run away from life.

And as expectation meets grim reality, the beauty of a vacation takes hold and reveals the real reason why we vacation and wait for it.

We vacation to spend time with the people we love twenty-four seven. Period.

We vacation to notice, I mean really notice, the smile of a loved one with undivided attention. Period.

We vacation to fall in love again not with Earth but with people we hold dearest to us. Period.

And if we are lucky, in the middle of our vacation (the right way) with our kids, or our parents, or our friends, or people that fit in no neat bucket, sometimes, just sometimes, the clouds part to reveal the beautiful, blue skies, the lakes, and the snow covered peaks. And you behold them with your loved ones. Without them, the view is barren. And with them, even cloudy skies are breathtaking.

So “Vacation Right.” Vacation to fall in love with people again and to never take them for granted in the hum drum of existence. Vacation Right.

Why want everything when you can have one key thing?

I stood behind a long frozen queue of heads rocking my newborn.  When my turn came, the lady on the other side of the glass glanced through my pile of official papers with keen dexterity.

“Is that all you have?” she asked.  I nodded with another question, “What more do you need?  Answer-less, she pointed me towards a seat propelling me into an endless abyss of wait.  In the shadow of hours that floated by, whispers rose to higher pitch.  People began to march to the window, furious, some sufficing with fuming looks, others roaring at the young lady.

“I am just doing my job” she would respond timidly.

Finally when my turn came, a male officer stood beside the young lady, sifting through my papers-birth certificates, school-leaving certificates, the only remnants of my childhood scribbled in ink on paper.  He was still dissatisfied as though not seeing what he desired to give me his stamp of approval.  He asked me a series of questions, in response to which I pulled out yet another certificate of my grades from high school.  With a perplexed look, he asked, “why didn’t you provide this before?”

“Because you asked for ‘all I have’ and I didn’t know what that meant!” I let my stare meet his.

Why couldn’t the Consulate where I had spent an entire day just give me a list of documents they needed?  This outward experience of mine propelled me into an inward tirade of thoughts about my own desires over the span of my life.

Aren’t we all, to some degree, similar in wanting everything?  We want it all in our lives, career, family/friends, house, etc.  And in obtaining everything, who knows, we may get the one thing we truly desire!

Truth be told, there is always something missing, for a working woman on an overseas trip, she may carry the trepidation of the welfare of her kids hidden in her heart.  Or the thorn that pricks a homemaker’s heart is one of a career abandoned, even if for the time being.  That is the harsh reality of our worlds, for every achievement there is always a road that’s left behind.  That is what everything entails – things we have, and things we do not.

But how do you realize what you really want in life?  Especially, when wanting “everything” is cluttered with so many conflicting desires.  And, how important is it to siphon it out?

My experience taught me a lesson that I hold dear.  Wanting everything can be misleading, even to your own heart.  Focusing on one or two ambitions is the key to success.  That helps you to cherish what you are pursuing and “give the moment at hand” your very best, remorse free.  It helps you to look ahead instead of pandering to every road not taken.  It de-clutters your chest of desires so only the important few remain.  And, it gets simpler to grasp the chosen few without risk of distractions from the unimportant wants.

What often needed is a reset.  The following habits can help.

  1. Take a break
    It was a crisp day in March.  At lunch time, a bunch of us sat enjoying the warmth of precious winter sun in outside patio.  It also happened to be my first day at the job.  A fellow colleague sat next to me.  That day happened to be his last at the company.  When I asked him where he was headed to next, I fully expected a response one where he would tell me the name of the new company or try to hide it.  But I was not prepared for the response.
    “Nowhere; Just taking a break.” he responded calmly.
    I reconfirmed just to be sure.  His confidence unsettled me.  He was doing something I could never get my dutiful mind to do.  I lived my life by the book-go to college, get your degree and job, get married-you know how the story goes.  I charred in silent envy for I lacked the courage to reset my life.A break necessarily does not have to involve quitting your job, it could be a long vacation; it could be things you do in a day.  For instance, within the boundaries of a day, a break may be spending alone time at a lake watching the water shimmer away.

    In my last semester in college, heavy in debt and income-less, my aim was very clear.  My aim was to become debt-free, to be in a position where I paid my bills on time never having to worry at the first of the month if my rent check would bounce again.  When our survivor instincts are high, it is easy to see what you want.We live in a perfect society where we are pressured to be perfect parents, be perfect partners, etc.  Sometimes it takes losing the anchors we put in for ourselves and let ourselves free fall to meet our inner self again, which takes me to point number 2:
  1. Allow Failure
    A friend of mine, a hard worker, fresh out of college landed herself a contract as a techie at a small telecom company. She felt lost at the job, the environment was hostile.  A couple of months later they let her go.  She described that day with painful precision of how she was escorted out of the building in a matter of minutes.  Knowing her, despite being unhappy at the job she would have never left by herself.  In hindsight, the company letting her go was the best thing that could have happened to her.  It gave her downtime to reflect on what she really wanted in her life.  And, she came out of it stronger and happier.  The experience taught her it is OK to say no to certain jobs, that she can choose even if it takes time.  She went on to make great strides in her career since.
  2. Persist
    Once you do pick a road, stay on it.  It is easy to keep resetting your life again and again especially when you successfully kill the fear of failure from your heart.  You learn from your mistakes and pivot but do not give up on your dream.

So, to my fellow human beings, life-long dreamers, good luck in finding your true desires and be fearless in the journey to pursue them.