Day 172: When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask

Yesterday, I carried with me, for just a brief while, guilt about changing feelings towards someone in my life. On the one hand, I know this might very well be a passing phase. But, I find myself in a position of numbness and no feeling towards this person. I am feeling lesser and lesser inclined to reach out and connect with them. Because I am also aware of all that has gone into pushing me here to this point, feeling this, the very good reasons for my feelings changing, I also honour and acknowledge this numbness. This state of inaction.

And yet, on the other, there is a little guilt. Guilt about finding myself in this disappointing situation that is so far from the one I had imagined with them.

This morning, I realised there is a also a little grief. Grief about a possible end. That it had to come to this. Grief that I am having to let go of a part of the picture I had in my mind, about the way things would be.

I don’t want to avoid this truth anymore. The truth about how I feel. That I am disappointed, a little sad and also numb. That I wish it were different, but also that I am not feeling inclined to put in the effort. That it’s almost like the ship has sailed. And it is time to walk.

Sometimes, and I know this from experience, a goodbye is temporary. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a proper goodbye. A momentary passage of time, space between us, is good. It makes way for something new. Either an old thing, renewed. Or something entirely new. Either way, it’s okay to feel disappointed, to find it hard to let go. To let go anyway. It’s okay.

Two years ago: Day 172: Things about VC that I never want to forget #17

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Day 171: Let me in, unlock the door

To learning more, and yet doing less.

To ditching the glorification of a unidimensional kind of strong, and embracing softness instead.

To allowing for the hiccups, the stumbles, the loud crashes, instead of walking on eggshells in fear.

To finding comfort in vulnerability and companionship, over keeping my shit together all alone.

To be decidedly soft, in the face of all harshness.

To stay still when it’s needed, and to move, but at my own pace when thats needed.

How’s your Wednesday going?

Two years ago: Day 171: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures of my life

Day 170: You live, you learn

I cannot stress the importance of emotional literacy enough – specifically becoming literate in the language that is you.

Some months ago, I found this simply, but very accurately, written piece on self-care and emotional literacy, that really spoke to me. And I’ve been pondering a lot about “self-care” ever since. Specifically about how much I used to want to roll my eyes at the term at one time. Because it sounded just so first-world, so extra. So unnecessary.

I’ve realised this is entirely an outcome of the definitions of the term I’ve gleaned from the Internet. I could never really relate to those cartoons about “adulting” (another term I really, really hate) and self-care that advocate things like eating many, many cupcakes, getting a manicure or massage for no reason or the like. I mean, I guess those are some forms of self-care too, maybe even for me, if I can get myself to like manicures or back to eating copious amounts of sugar. But, at the heart of it self-care is really basic and fuss-free.

It doesn’t have to be (and most often isn’t) an expensive, laborious or commodified experience. It can be fancy, if that floats your boat, but it can also be as basic as promising to give yourself the minimum hours of sleep every night, or adding a cup of your favourite hot beverage to end the day, or turning off the data on your phone at 8 pm every night — anything that you think will contribute to helping you function in a healthy manner.

For a long time, I thought self-care was just a fancy word for pampering. But it’s the second-half of the post that really struck me. Self-care is so much more than just pampering myself. I know now, it is a powerful means to get closer in tune with myself. In increasing my emotional literacy — becoming literate in the language of me, as he puts it.

Something about being deliberate, committed and focused on a handful of things makes this possible. And it really only takes a few things. The list doesn’t have to be long, in fact the shorter it is, the more likely it will turn into a sustainable practice. Over all, this has made space for a natural culling out of a lot of unnecessary things — unnecessary outings, unnecessary wastage of energy, unnecessary expenditure, unnecessary people, etc — in my life. Consequently, it’s freed up so much mind-space and spurred a spike in positivity and a feeling of abundance.

And then there is also this, which is the crux of it.

Self-care is also: addressing your own problematic behaviors and striving to be/do better; removing toxic (not just challenging) people/situations from your life; holding yourself accountable for what you do & what you say (apologizing authentically when you cause harm, hurt others/yourself); doing your own self-work (not always expecting others to sort you out) so that you can be emotionally literate and able to understand yourself.

I’m really enjoying choosing little acts of care for myself, deliberately. Salt in my bath water, afternoon naps, a whole day of reading, mangoes for dinner, breakfast with S this week. It’s usually the small, simple, most basic things. Most of which is not path-breaking or even very new to me. But the higher-than-usual joy I’m feeling, is definitely new.

Ensuring I write this a post on this blog every single day has become a serious self-care habit this year. When I did this in 2016, I was a lot busier, and many times I didn’t make the daily post. It was common for me to catch up on back log and back-date posts to make up for it all. This time around though, not only do I have the time to actually write everyday, but I also have the inclination to make this about taking the time out to note something worth remembering for every day, rather than worrying about the writing or making this an activity that needs to be so perfect I will give up before I even begin.

Fitting in a gratitude post every week has had some incredible impact on me and on my life. Having a blog to do it has ensured I will do it every week.

Since I’m riding a really high high this week, I want to remember some of the things I am deeply enjoying right now:

  • Feeling really at home, all alone in my home. This is something that’s been a long time coming. Even though we’ve had a home, I literally only spent nights here — going over to my folks’ for breakfast, spending a larger part of the day there, only to return in time to make dinner and call it a day. It started with taking May off, and having VC home for more time than when he would go to work, which initially made me want to be around too. Of course that meant that along with lounging about and really making ourselves at home, we had to cook together and do a lot of the everyday homey things that make a home a home. I also managed to finish that long pending cleaning up of a massive pile of junk that occupied my guest room and somehow made me feel like my home wasn’t really “set” until that was done. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, we just settled in. Amma and anna have been in and out of Bangalore too, which means I’ve been home a lot more. All in all, I am back to really enjoying my space like I used to in Goa. That urge to scram the minute VC leaves the house in the morning has lifted. I’m really enjoying sinking into this homeliness.
  • Having VC cook most of his meals. Something has switched — the angst around controlling food has melted. It’s many things, my finickiness about the kitchen as my territory where I hold fort and control the way things operate has definitely faded. My unnecessary preoccupation about what we eat has all but died. And it’s a win-win. VC gets to do something he’s been wanting to for years — cook his meals the way he wants even if it means eating eggs and bacon and chicken all day erryday — and I get to relax. And I don’t mean relax physically, I mean just let this shit (unnecessary conditioning that leads me to believe all things kitchen should be managed by me, are my responsibility, and that ignoring it is a crying shame to my domesticity) go.
  • Witnessing some of my most favourite girlfriends going through a collective time of growth, transformation and coming into their own. I’m not sure if this is a global phenomenon — pop-culture would have me believe it is — or if it’s just about like attracts like (or my vibe attracts my tribe or whatever version of that idiom you prefer), but it is phenomenal and massively happy-making to watch from afar and up-close, through deep and long conversations, emails shared, moments of surprise and wonder, that somehow we’re all in this together. I can think of at least six women in my immediate circle who are all actively seeking to be better versions of themselves, own their energy and flow and come into their own. I know this from how banter and casual everyday chit-chat that once formed a major part of our conversations has made way for mostly long spans of silence that are interrupted only by very deep conversations every time one of us has a epiphany, makes a breakthrough or some sort, or has noticed a change in our lives. The shift is palpable and to be in the midst of this collective energy flow fills me up in a way I ave not known. Until recently, I was pretty preoccupied with how lonely being interested in my self-improvement often makes me feel. I still do, on the odd day. I am more aware of why it is so, but I suddenly also feel a sense of tribe and camaraderie that goes beyond the group hugs and girl’s night out kind of thing I once sought from my women friends.
  • Remembering to slow down on the quiet days, when there isn’t much “work” to do, instead of trying to find ways to “make the time count.”
  • Actively feeling happy pretty much all the time. I actually can’t remember the last time I have felt this uniformly happy for this long. Everyday blips come and go, but I feel a bit unshakeable right now. There is flow, there is a happiness and a sense of harmony almost ringing in my head. Waking up is a joy. Every little thing I have to do, or even the day’s I don’t have much to do, feels just right. I’m enjoying how things are pared down to the most simple, so there is far less scope to be overwhelmed by anything.

What little acts of self-care make your every day that much better?

Day 169: Home where my love lies waiting

It’s been over a year since we moved into this home. And yet, so much remains to be done. I’ve alway shad a constantly WIP home, and I realised very early on that I like the idea of a certain kind of home, far more than I like the effort it takes to get me there. So, the wish list is never really ever fully met, the note titled “Home Stuff” on my phone, where I jot down things I’d like to make, buy, add, build for the house grows faster than I can keep up with it, and periodically I got through spots of frustration when I look around and suddenly think, “SHIT! I never made xyz”, “I *still* haven’t got down to putting abc up”, or “Soon, very soon I’ll finish that DIY project I started in 2012”, or some such.

At the moment too, things are basic, almost minimalist, replete with a fair bit of of half-done stuff, unattended corners and the like. There’s so much we could be doing, but we haven’t managed to just do it. It niggles at the back of my brain from time to time, and when a sudden burst of inspiration strikes, I manage to kill a few things off the list.

But this past weekend, and maybe this is entirely the effects of the weekend talking and not some newfound zen, I felt a deep contentment with my home. A sense of feeling rooted, warm and comforted.

It was drizzling ever so delicately, while the sun still shone pretty bright — Fox’s Wedding style. Inside, it was grey enough to turn the lights on. And everything just felt yellow, happy and…enough.

I realised tat even though it feels incomplete and unfinished, our home does reflect a lot of VC and me. Specifically, our fuss-free way of being. Where we’ll start off with gusto, lose steam and intellectualise the spiralling energy by asking “How much is too much?” or “When will it be enough?”, having realised that what we have is rather full of life, it does the job and it feels good.

And I want to remember the moment, because I felt it so deeply and internally.

Two years ago: Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

Day 167: Love on the weekend

Today, I am crystal clear. The sun hasn’t gone down on the day. Everything is aglow. The moon is out too, with silver beams casting a shimmery light on the cobalt sky. The rain has fallen, speckling the greens and yellows with jewelled embellishments. My eyes are half open. Weighed down by the immensity of new learning and pushing open powered by the excitement of a new light. Breathe in. Breathe out. I am here now.

And everything is magic.

Two days ago: Day 167: The good in us

Day 166: Come on, keep me where the light is

Today, in gratitude.

Yoga. I’m closing in on a full month and every day I surprise myself a little more with how much this is feeling right. To just be there, focus on starting and finishing every class, without an eye on the clock (like I used to be at the gym) or watching any kind of number led validation, or watching for “results” or anything else. This is definitely one of the better choices I’ve made this year, after signing up for the course I’m doing.

A week of rain. It’s been such a good week. Finished a long-drawn-out book thanks to the good weather.

Surprise walks about town. I really love central Bangalore — there, I said it. And I’m trying to make the most of it when I am out and about. It helps that there have been plenty trips that side. Between breakfast dates, class and general gallivanting. I took this picture when D and I went to Blossoms last week. Church Street is spanking new and shiny, but it thrilled me to see nothing’s going to keep the hand carts out. This one, laden with summer fruit — lychees, stat fruit, jamoons, ice apples and the like — just seemed like a perfect goodbye to the season.

Koshy’s. One of the few things that I really love about Bangalore. I’m glad I live close enough so I can duck out when I please. This past week I actually found myself there more often than I planned.

Breakfasts out. Quite unknowingly I’ve managed to keep up the get-breakfast weekly habit I wanted for myself. I met M last week and A this week. And already have plans for next week. I didn’t plan for this to necessarily be an outing with company — in fact, I was quite looking forward to a table for one because I just assumed it would be me all by myself — but I’m so grateful for how it’s turning out.

My folks who came back to town over the weekend. Amma, Niyu and I went out for a spot of shopping. We also managed to catch a weekday lunch at Nagarjuna — the four of us — together which is such a rarity. It was fun, rainy out and despite the traffic and the waiting, I am grateful for the time.

The heightened, energy-spike in my aha-moments this past week. Once when I picked up on some seriously bad energy one evening and just couldn’t settle until I had dug deeper and broken it down to get to the bottom of what exactly was bothering me. And second, all day long after meeting A and chatting about the things that we did — it sparked off a whole lot of thoughts for me. I love a conversation that has an impact so hard it lingers long after.

The ease in my conversations with VC. It’s beginning to feel like every time I feel we’ve unlocked a new level in our relationship, there’s something deeper to get to. I am only realising now how much this has been about presenting myself wholeheartedly and authentically to him. He has always been around for me, I’ve had to see it in the way that I do now, and grab my share of it and dive in. This has been an empowering and freeing experience. We’re better together. And I’m equal parts grateful for where we are and excited for where we seem to be going.

Two back-to-back weekends of coursework. As exhausted and mentally depleted as it makes me feel, the heady high of coming out with new insights, new learning is so addictive. I’m grateful for the safety of the circle we’ve created where I am able to fall apart, as well as participate in holding others up with equal ease. It is a privilege and a gift, and by no means a coincidence. I am eternally grateful for this is fast turning into the very reason for spending 2018 in Bangalore.

This gratitude habit itself. Six months in, I know just how much it has impacted the way I am able to operate out of a mostly positive headspace. One, my bank balance has never been this low and yet somehow I’m spending (literally and figuratively) with an ease I’ve never had. It hasn’t stopped me from grabbing the experiences I’ve wanted to. Two, despite the unsettledness of May, I got through it with minimal flare ups. Not because I was bottling it in, but because I’ve been better at recognising and acknowledging what is a blip vs what is an actual shitty experience and dropping shit and moving on with alacrity.

Three, the serendipitous way in which an assignment landed in my inbox. From an unexpected, unlikely source, it ended up being a foray into an area of work I’ve been toying with the idea of exploring. I didn’t know how to get an in. And suddenly there it was.

Four, there is a newfound comfort and balance in experiencing solitude (which sometines subtly slips into loneliness) as well as meeting new people and widening my circle, alike. It’s an inner ease that is taking me through it all — it feels like a strengthening of my core — making me stand comfortably alone when I find myself alone as well as open my heart (I actively volunteered to be in a study group, ffs) to new connections, new groups, when they present themselves.

This palpable abundance in my life — in experiences, people, travel, things too — I feel it every single day. And I’m so aware how it isn’t an outcome of the pursuit of this as stuff as much as it is about finding myself in this intangible bubble of positivity that I actually don’t have the words to express. It transcends physical happenings.

This is probably the first time in my life that I am actively watching myself change, and the fear of the uncertainty and of what I am shedding and leaving behind, is absolutely nil. I’m grateful for that. What an exciting time this is to be able to watch all the pieces of this puzzle as they are slowly falling into place.

Two years ago: Day 166: Just keep swimming

Day 165: After the tears have washed your eyes

A couple of dry-ish days with temperatures creeping into the late twenties, is all it took to have me say, “It could rain a little now, right?”

Almost as if in response, it started again yesterday. With cloudy skies, giving in and scantily showering down on us.

It’s been almost a month since we have stopped using the AC and the weather has been immaculate. Splendid enough to make me say the L(ove) word.

Amidst all my Bangalore rants, there is this redeeming factor. The rain. And I have to give credit where it’s due. I love Bangalore when it rains.

This is the weather for coffee shops. For books. For naps. For slow dreaming. For anything that doesn’t involve being stuck in a vehicle navigating through the city. It’s the weather for staying indoors and eating pav bhaji, if you will. It’s the weather for thick hot chocolate. For soup dinners. And even if just momentarily, for most everything in this city to feel bearable.

Two years ago: Day 165: About yesterday

Day 164: Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

Another day. Another breakfast. Another conversation about going back to our roots. To a simpler, pared-down, more gut-driven, mindful way of life. A message (in its various forms and interpretations) that seems to be coming at me from every direction — in things I read, in conversations I’m having, in the choices that are coming up for me, in the things that impact my choosing, in the ways that I am indulging in the choosing — in every single aspect of my life, whether exercise or food or travel or the way in which I am one half of a coupling or the way I feel like my home should run to the way in which I want to be.

Today, once again, a conversation with A reminded me how much the intellectualised narratives we expose ourselves (and unconsciously, unquestioningly internalise and make our own) to can add to the chatter in our minds and the muddled sense of right and wrong vis a vis what is right and wrong for us, per se. And how much nonsense gets in the way of just humbly following that sense.

I feel grateful for the ways in which this simple reminder keeps coming at me. And Im so utterly thankful to be in a space where I have the capacity to listen, and really act accordingly.

Two years ago: Day 164: How blue?

Day 163: Stop chasing shadows, just enjoy the ride

All of May went by without a book post. That should tell you how slow I’ve been going. I’m not someone who can snatch pockets of time, all the time, to finish up what I’m reading. Even when I do, it isn’t focused, so I prefer to read when I have time and mind-space to give. Add to it a string of not-so-great books that have really not presented me with any opportunity to just throw myself and be completely absorbed by them. And so, it has been oh so slowwwww. But, I did manage to read a fair bit on holiday, even though it was mostly very meh reading.

Here’s what:

Starting with the excellent book that killed the bad book streak!
The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber

A recommended this book to me over breakfast last month. We were vehemently complaining about the paltry state of food writing in India, when she strongly recommended this book, telling me it would convince me to finish my half-written food memoir. I read it over my holiday, but only managed to finish it yesterday. But just a few chapters, I knew why A said what she did.

This book is just so simply evocative. Without that typically unnecessarily flowery curly language that one tends to lean to when writing about food, the books serves up an ample dose of nostalgia, culture, immigrant stories in several essays dotted with recipes, as told by Diana Abu Jaber — born to a Jordanian father and American Mother. Diana’s writing was just perfectly nostalgic, without going into raptures, measured, beautiful writing that evoked oh so many feelings in me.

This one is a keeper. And if you love food, nostalgia and stories of culture seen through the lens of food, you will love this one too.

Ballad for a Mad Girl, Vikki Wakefield
I was in the mood for something utterly light and breezy, when I reached out to P in April only to discover she was in the same mood. So we threw a bunch of titles at each other, nothing either of us had actually read so we could recommend. Just titles that we’d found interesting and bookmarked. This was one of them.

YA meets murder mystery that also flirts a little with a quasi-paranormal-semi-mystic sort of territory. This book also skirts around mental health issues. It is the story of 16-year old Grace Foley who accidentally embarks on a paranormal experience that sets her off on an unexpected path of solving the mystery of the murder of Hannah Holt.

Despite that exciting premise, this book did not hit the spot for me. It had its moments — interesting characterisation, unexpected plot twists, complete zany story itself — but all of it just felt very fragmented and sorely missed that something to tie it all together.

Landline, Rainbow Rowell
After Ballad for a Mad Girl, I really wanted something light that I could read while in Goa. Having previously loved Rainbow Rowell, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with Landline. And so I picked it up.

But. I was wrong. This book didn’t just not cut it. It was downright terrible, and a solid waste of my holiday reading time.

Workaholic Georgie and Stay-At-Home-Dad Neal are having marriage trouble. And when Georgie bails out of the annual Christmas holiday at Neal’s parents home, the cracks really begin to show. Except it’s all very unconvincingly told.

The stupid landline is such a force-fit. Georgie’s mobile phone is always running low on battery or some such, making her resort to using a yellow landline to call her husband. Which, hold your breath, is a portal into the past.

*eyeroll*

The story plays backwards, with the details about their love story, how they met and ended up marrying, up to where they are now, is revealed in subsequent chapters, as Georgie makes calls to the Neal of the past, via the magic landline.

Sorry, maybe I just don’t have the imagination for this. But this book irritated the heck out of me.

All the Good Parts, Loretta Nyhan

Leona Accorsi is single, studying to be a nurse, living in her sisters basement and moving between several temporary jobs. She is 39. And she has suddenly been told by her gynaecologist that if she ever wanted to have kids, now is the time to hurry up and do it.

This is where the book begins. And proceeds to set the tone for the rest of it — a process of going through the should-I-shouldn’t-I rigmarole of embarking on motherhood. With far from perfect circumstances, absolutely no male persons of interest in the offing and time that is running out, Leona makes out a list of “prospects” who she can ask for “help”. These prospects range from her patients, to her nieces tutor to a fellow nursing student she knows through the online chat program her class is on.

The book is a rollercoaster ride of her figuring out which one to go with. Along the way she tests some of the important relationships in her life — with her sister, her patients, her brother in law — to the brink and back. Several seemingly odd and unnecessary side plots emerge, which constantly left me wondering where it would all end up. At the end, when I realised where they do end up, it just very very contrived and convenient.

The premise had so much promise, but I felt quite let down and found the book to be just lacklustre. Meh.

Day 162: Only happy when it rains

Today, I just didn’t feel like writing. I have six drafts in the works. And I have so much to say about my course last week. But I’m just settling into it, letting it seep in slowly.

Today I caught up with some reading instead.

It’s been going so slow of late. Today I guzzled what was actually a delightful book, but one I was labouring over for no reason but that I needed time, time, time. I took the time today. Over ginger and lemon tea. With this amazing hill station weather out, that we have going.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write out that long pending book post sitting in my drafts.

Two years ago: Day 162: New Tricks

Day 159: When the rainy days are dying

I had to get to a 6 am yoga class this morning, in order to be home in time to get ready and get to my course in time. But when I had informed my teacher that I’d be swapping my Friday yoga class for an earlier slot, for just this week and the next, my inner self had a hearty laugh. When I realised that Id have to wake up at 5.30 to make it, I too laughed at my optimism, given that waking up (period) has been challenging of late. Waking up early, much earlier than usual, out of the question.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

I made it to class. Both of them. On time and not dragging myself out half asleep.

It’s a small improvement, but a significant step one nonetheless. And because I know it is as much to do with the right thing at the right time, as it is a pleasant surprise, I want to acknowledge it.

The truth is I woke up at 5.15 am and after ten minutes of groggily pottering about at home, I decided that my body was just not up for it and actually went back to bed, blanket and all. But just as I was settling back into sleep mode, in an instant I decided I just didn’t want to skip the yoga session. I was drawn by the promise of how good it feels when I’m done.

I sprang out and took myself to class. And I’m just so glad that I did.

I had a blissful hour on a classic, cloudy 22 degree Bangalore morning, by the pool. Gentle gusts of wind occasionally challenging my balance, the woooshing trees begging me to gaze around, the pool splashing ever subtly, a sparsely populated class where I knew nobody, a little early morning stiffness and resistance, just that little willingness to push and find a little give.

And sure enough, I felt as good as new by the time I was done.

Gratitude for yoga today. Gratitude for my body for showing me the way — for demanding the rest when I needed it, and for pushing me out of bed today when I needed it. Gratitude for the monsoon and the beautiful mornings we’ve been having. Gratitude for the sense to just give in to this right now. Gratitude for the energy and the flow that goes into an hour of yoga feeling so fruitful. Gratitude for the pleasant surprise that was today, really.

Two years ago: Day 159: What I watched

Day 158: With your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I had an entire day to do just as I pleased. No work demands, no home demands, no strings, no schedules.

It began with a breakfast date with M at Koshy’s, who I was meeting for the very first time. It’s been absolute years since I felt inclined to meet a stranger on the internet via the blog. But something in M’s email, and her reasons for reaching out now even though she’s apparently been reading for years, made me feel we’d click. And it was just such a spectacular delight. We had sausages, bacon, omlettes and coffee and discussed everything from being childfree to our patterns of consumption and waste management. All this, in the context of how the pace of life around us just doesn’t seem to fit with our own and how we’re always seeking like-minded people who feel the same sense of dissonance. I can safely say this is the first time that Ive had a conversation about this stuff and had so many “OMG, ME TOO!”s with anyone in Bangalore. It doesn’t even happen with my own friends anymore. It was wildly reassuring and really made me so grateful for the uncanny ways in which the universe (and the internet) connects us to the right people at the right time.

I got home to an empty house, which I’ve been enjoying. I ate two large mangoes for a late lunch, since I was too stuffed from breakfast to eat anything else, while binge watching and finishing She’s Gotta Have It. I have oh so many thoughts about the show — it’s fantastic, btw — but I will have to let them steep a bit before I pontificate.

I then read for two hours straight. Something else that I haven’t had the pleasure of doing for a long while.

The plan then was to head to my mum’s place where my sister (who is also home alone) and I would eat a light dinner and watch a documentary together. But I had another one of those days where I was fused to the beanbag watching Netflix or reading for something like five hours. And I had obviously gone to the point of no return so that plan got canned so fast.

I did manage to get out in time to cook though. Made myself a big pot of mixed veggie sambar and a palak stir fry, which I walloped faster than I could say yummayy.

The husband was home for all of ten minutes between 7.45 and 8 pm before dashing off for dinner with some friends. So I took my lazy ass to bed early. Enjoying the expanse of the double bed all by myself, watching Netflix to sleep.

It was so good to be home.

It felt so good to be without an agenda and still have a full day.

I loved that I made a new friend.

I realised the flowers in the window are going BATSHIT.

I really enjoyed cooking for myself. The mindfulness of caring about what I eat has returned and it felt so good to eat that hot, home-cooked, healthy meal.

I noticed the skies have been mad off late.

I began the next module of my course today so by the end of yesterday I had the excited anticipatory vibes of a teenager before a new school term.

Life is good. Life is really good.

Two years ago: Day 158: No words today

Day 157: A serious kind of something new

Today, I’m grateful for yoga. I had such an excellent class. For the first time in all the times I’ve done yoga, Im beginning to get the whole breathing into poses and synchronising it, which believe it or not, deepens every move and thereby increases the satisfaction of every stretch.

I’m grateful for the rain that has kept temperatures low and the light just glowy and beautiful. I don’t have very many good things to say about Bangalore of late, but I will say the rain definitely makes my heart tug with longing.

I’m grateful for the immense amounts of sleep I’ve been having. Restful, unbroken at night and the rather strange new ability to catch a wink during the day — not just a half-hearted nap, but a deep slumber. D predicted there’d be a lot of downtime and retreating for rest in the coming weeks. But when she said “get all the sleep, actually sleep, you can” I didn’t know it meant this.

I’m grateful for A. For the heartfelt emails. For the precise words. For the quiet confidence I get when I think about this journey we’re on.

I’m grateful for the surprise conversations. Like when R texted me, expressing gratitude that I least expected but that somehow lifted my entire day. Like with A with whom I’ve been having a telegraphic kind of SMS conversation about identity, which we keep meaning to meet and discuss. Like with N who is the only person really, that I can talk to and use words like “energy” and “abundance” and “goodness” without having to explain what I mean.

I’m grateful for the ability to be in Goa again very soon. I really feel so incredibly lucky.

I’m grateful for the ability to write again. After a jammed up May, the words are thrumming through once again. Brimming over and making their way out like they will not be held. In my journal, in long emails, on my blog, in newsletters, in my notes. I am thoroughly enjoying this.

Day 156: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?

One way of looking at patience is the acceptance with utmost calm, that most times things happen in a pace, manner and an order quite different from the one I have in mind.

Beginning yoga (yet again) really affirmed this for me. That the right thing only makes perfect sense when it is the right time. At that right time, the outcome is sometimes entirely different from the one I might have imagined. And yet, it will fall into place and feel perfect, like a misplaced jigsaw piece that has surfaced unexpectedly and clicked into slot making everything shiny, whole and complete.

I’ve given yoga a shot many times before. Usually spurred by short bursts of enthusiasm to try something new, or when I have wanted to take a break but not go off movement completely. You see, I’ve always stupidly considered yoga to be too low-key for me. I know and acknowledge it’s power and place in the world of fitness and exercise, but personally, with my love for high intensity, cardio-based training and my experience with weightlifting, I just never felt that yoga would do it for me. It hadn’t really ever hit the spot like running or lifting weights or going to the gym or kickboxing did.

I’ve always deemed exercise “effective” when it has me breaking into a sweat, or it leaves me breathless, feeling sore the next day. My idea of progress too, was about pursuing that sweet pain that exercise usually gives. Bolstered adequately by messages that made me feel anything less than sweating bullets or having my heart race was not cutting it.

“If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working,” “Your stomach should be on fire,” and “Always listen to your body, unless your body says don’t squat today. Stupid body!” and the like.

All very well and true. But because most things happen at a pace and manner quite opposite to what I usually have in mind, or the way in which I would imagine a spring back, it was no different with the downward spiral I took on the fitness front.

Several fits and starts in the first five months of this year made me realise I’m also utterly bored with a gym set up (even though I do enjoy some of the individual bits, like weight training, in isolation).

Even as I was allowing myself the time off, patiently waiting for the return to come in it’s own time, I always it would lead me straight back to the gym. I even contacted a couple of personal trainers, assuming that what I needed was a change of pace, some guidance and direction.

But, more often than I’d like to admit, things happen in a pace and manner quite unlike the way I imagine. And much like the attempt to hurry along change in my life, jump small steps to get to the bigger milestones faster, has proven futile, with exercise too, I realised that there is no fighting the natural order or energy of what my body has been telling me.

I’ve known my body hitting a plateau, but this was the first time my mind has.

It was no longer a matter of mere motivation alone, but one of actually tuning into the resistance, feeling it, noticing which part of my body it surfaces in, and just quietly listening. Without fighting it, without being in denial, and accepting that that too, has changed.

There was a time for a high-impact, sweat-it-out-and-get-breathless kind of exercise regimen. And boy it was glorious while it lasted. However, after nearly two decades of enjoying that, it would not be so wrong to accept that maybe that time is done. And I’m actually ready for something a little more low-key. Something a little gentler, less aggressive and up-tempo, more in keeping with the general slow-living kind of energy that has permeated the rest my life.

Which then made another lightbulb go off in my head: this is no longer just about fitness, but about the energy I am bringing to the rest of my life. If my life is a system, with several aspects and parts working in tandem, my goal these days has been to bring about as much synergy in getting these aspects to synchronise and flow. This has been about embracing and nurturing that synergy. And allowing the natural rhythm to take over, so all aspects of my life can be swept with that same Flow.

Life has been gently nudging me on to really lean in to the beauty in relaxing, in not being always wound up or rushing around, and I am only now beginning to see how that actually invites life to Flow — creatively, serendipitously, abundantly.

All I had to do was present myself and stop fighting it as it has engulfed me.

I’m almost too shy to admit that this has happened in the realm of fitness, as I least expected it. With how I suddenly decided it was going to be Yoga (after years of dismissing it as too low-key), how I actually woke up in time for class (after months of trying). And how I enjoyed last week’s lessons in a deeper, more internal sort of way, more than what it did for my body.

The messages I got, the same messages you’ll hear any yoga teacher say, hit a spot so deep inside me. Because clearly, it was all about much more than just my body.

Be gentle.

Go soft.

And then, there was the clincher yesterday, that had me nearly choke up and blink back tears, mid-Ardha-Chandra.

It’s not important to do everything all the way. Go only as far as you can. But it is important to find a safe way to get there.

In an older time, I casually used the term “Go with the Flow” and in my life that meant actively doing things keeping in the natural direction in which I am moving.

That too, has changed.

Now, going with the Flow has come to mean surrendering, doing little, but being patient and allowing life to unfold. Being open to being surprised, and allowing the mysterious, cosmic ways of the Flow to direct me, lift me up and keep me afloat in ways that I have accepted I cannot (and need not) fully understand, but feeling immense gratitude for how much I benefit from it.

So it’s no wonder that I have felt more spiritual in these weeks and months, than ever before. Words like surrender, patience, stillness have come to take new meaning — and they’ve become beacons guiding me along seeking more.

I’ve been talking about letting go, in so many different context, for yonks now. But only now, am I understanding what it means to let go of the urge to force life in the direction I want or imagine, based on my whims, my unquenchable ego and all it’s mind tricks. And instead develop an inner knowing, a trust that the universe has my back. To focus instead on getting my mental desires to meet my those within the depths of my heart, so that when they are completely in tune, that Flow happens effortlessly.

Title inspired by one of my favourite songs.

Day 155: I wrote a letter to my love

Confession: It took me a whole month to write the birthday letter I had promised to write myself.

Every day, since my birthday (when I decided I’d do this) I have thought about getting my ass down to doing it, but I just faced such an enormous resistance from within. I didn’t understand why, because I actually, really, really wanted to begin doing this for myself. But much like the general fog that hung around me, I put it down to the inexplicable forces that I must not attempt to fight. Tomorrow, I’d tell myself. Every day. Until the whole month had passed and nada. Noting. Zilch.

Everything felt like it took extra effort, and yet nothing really held me in what can only be described a high-activity few weeks where my mental and emotional energies have rendered mush. However, in all the chaos, there have been internal signs and cues — just the need to write that letter, the desire to get out for breakfast by myself — that my mind has been silently giving me, continuously.

I discovered the joys of solitude very early in life, and in recent time the pursuit of pockets of time with myself has been selfishly high on my agenda. The rapid shifts I’ve been experiencing within my being has left me silent for the most part of last month, because there was just too much happening within for me to process and share, and begin to live and experience. I have really felt the need to cocoon myself and be alone, quiet. Inevitably though, that feeling comes with a little guilt.

Just how small, narrow and selfish am I being?
self-serving am I making my life?
Is my desire to be by myself causing others around me hurt, worry, rejection?

So in addition to actually wanting to be by myself (and managing to do it a fair bit) I have had an inner tussle these thoughts, I realised, as I sat by myself the other day.

There is also a matter of space. One of the things I’ve felt a little sad about in Bangalore, is not having a room of my own. When we moved to Bangalore, I had already mentally started winding down my personal writing practice, and our current home doesn’t allow for desk space  or a work room (like I had in Goa) for me to work, or just sit and ponder. In Goa, it was my room to retreat to for the most part of any given day. It kept me grounded and centred in more ways that I realised. Until I came here, and have been without a room of my own for over a year.

I’ve been longing for space too, I suppose. In some form or another. A room of my own. A date with myself. A walk in Cubbon Park. Something to make a ritual of.

On June 1st something definitely changed. I woke up early and joined the yoga class I’ve been meaning to for months now. The same one I’ve been unable to because waking up has been so damn hard. I cooked! Willingly, enthusiastically. Looking up long-bookmarked recipes from my favourite cookbook, and really enjoying the cooking, rather than cooking to just get a chore done. And I finally got the letter written.

From the moment I woke up, the will to actually finally put pen to was palpable. I felt upbeat and like I had emerged from a grey cloud to suddenly see the light.

S and I had plans to meet for lunch one afternoon, and when I was all set to leave home and get my cab, she cancelled. I was already in the flow of things, my cab was on it’s way, and I was looking forward to some time out. So, I decided to go anyway. I changed my destination and took myself to Koshy’s — my favourite place to have a table for one, and where I usually go to spend time writing or reading alone, when I just need to be with myself for a bit.

As a last minute thought, I carried my letter pad with me. And lo and behold, almost as soon as I got there, ordered and opened up my pad, the thoughts just bubbled over. And they would. not. stop.

I wrote five whole pages, over three hours. Over two unhurried iced teas, one omelette with a plate of toast, and since the sky had suddenly turned overcast, let out a loud crack and crashed down on us with a massive downpour, a tall glass of chai to end it all.

Originally, I’d wanted to walk down to Blossom’s, but I was just so content from having let the words that have been stifled in me for the last four week come out, I really didn’t need anything more to top the day.

I’m glad I finally managed to cut the chatter and go get it. Because it was nice to just decompress and put my thoughts out, and see them for what they are. Freeing and unburdening.

It was nice to have that sense of space about me again. I’ve been longing for some room. Some room in the clutter of my mind. A room of my own. But sometimes just a table, a pen and some paper will do.

Two years ago: Day 155: Sairat