Riding the highs

I have just had such a full and satisfying day. Actually the week and most of last week has been this way. Full not in tasks and busyness but in satisfaction. In feeling filled up.

My work has definitely become lean during the lockdown. And I would take responsibility for that because given the all round situation, the grief and the uncertainty that was prevalent, I just didn’t feel enthusiastic to push it as aggressively as I have in the months before.

I was getting by with the bare minimum that came from small mentions and calls for work on Instagram. I stopped tracking numbers and following up. In fact I didn’t accept all requests that came because I have myself been in such an inward looking space.

Even so, work has come my way. Without me looking or pursuing it. Through referrals. Through random Instagram connections and it has reinstated my faith in not always having to hustle or labour to get my work out into the world. It has been lesser than normal, for sure. But it has been consistent and for that I’m grateful.

This month though, things have switched around somehow. I myself feel more outward and looking out into the world. I feel much more energetic to work. I feel a receptivity from the world around too.

Personally and professionally, I have had my head under water for the most part of the last three months, swimming difficult, choppy waters. But in the last 20 odd days, the tide has turned and I find myself coasting placid, pleasant waters. Swimming along happily, taking the sights and sounds if this new phase.

I’m getting more comfortable with accepting that perhaps this is just the way my energy is. I will operate in cycles. Especially with a life that is so heavily invested in my own inner work, I must make space for the underwater phases. When I will need to go inwards so much that it won’t leave me much energy or mindspace for external facing pursuits. Especially because the work I do and what I offer to the world depends so much on my own internal process. Keeping my mirrors clean and constantly working on myself.

I have been slowly trying to give up that expectation of uniformity from my energy and motivations towards “work”. The idea of that being “normal” has somehow receded. I’m open to riding the waves when the come and letting myself go under when that time comes. And to go lean with the work, when those phases hit.

All this to say, OMG I’ve had such a great work day today. I’ve done at least one reading every single day this month. Two on some days like today. And it feels good. I feel ready and able. But a day like today — that just knocked it out the park in terms of how challenging the readings were — give me life.

I had interesting, unique and very special clients today. Questions that came from a place of clarity and openness to listening. Sessions that demanded so much stretch from me, asking me to slow down and think differently, articulate specifically, not generically. To move away from the way I normally take a reading.

I have also been doing more video sessions. A big change from pre-COVID days. The more obvious reason is distance but the less obvious reason, and the thing I have noticed happily, is my own comfort with my offering that has given me new confidence to be seen. By strangers. To receive with love and grace the faith the put in me. Unapologetically. I notice that my body language in sessions has changed. And that I am able to access my own body and the cues it gives me.more easily.

It’s been hard won, this comfort. And on a day like today, I’m just so grateful for this twisting- turning journey and where it has taken me. But most importantly, where I am at today.

I’m here now and I feel so filled up. In my heart and in my life. My cup, it brims over.

PS: July sessions have been open all month, in case you didn’t gather. If you’ve been reading my Monday messages and find value in them, and if you’ve been hemming and hawing about trying out a session for yourself, may I encourage you to reach out? If it’s any added motivation, I can honestly say I am in an extra good headspace to do this work at the moment.

One year ago: New light
Two years ago: Oh my life, is changing every day
Four years ago: That’s all

The only journey is the one within

Things about keeping plants and growing things that I’ve said before, but I am going to say again:

  1. Five years ago, when I first gave growing anything a shot, it was already a process that gave me so much more than just produce. I was growing methi, pudina, palak, garlic chives and cucumbers at one point. It was a lot of good stuff to put in my food. I don’t remember a lot of the little details — like the cucumber plant — but the memories that remain are of the process. The wonder, the expectation, the excitement, the magic, the patience, the satisfaction. The wonder. The wonder.I don’t think I’ll ever forget the giant metaphor for life that tending for and growing things has taught me. I summed it up as patience, but really there was so much more. Lessons in nurturance, tenderness, beauty in rawness and imperfection, in taking time. And this is what has stayed for years on.
  2. Over a year and a half ago, the bug to garden came back. With a vengeance this time. And it has remained, steadfastly, since. And yet again, I found resonance in the what was happening in my garden, with what was happening within me.I wrote:
    It feels like my own experience of coming to (new)life, unfurling, stepping into a new seasongrowingflowering seems is reflected in my plants too.My plants have been life-giving and inspirational all through. A great way to get back to my roots, literally, and find observe and revel in life at the source.
  3. When VC moved back from Goa last year, the only thing we shipped back home were my plants. And it is a decision I rethink and feel extreme gratitude for almost every week.The number of pots we now have has significantly increased, and encroached multiple balconies, and indoor spaces. We now have enough plants to rotate and shuffle them around the place. And not all the plants that have been added on were bought. I have not just figured out how to multiply and propagate many of my plants but also figured out I can do it myself, contrary to prior belief about having a black thumb.My plants are the single biggest gifts that keep giving. I have received unending joy through them in these months gone by. Not just the green value they add to my home, but in the process of tending to them, nurturing and bonding with them. It is totally a trip to watch them grow, as closely obsessively as I do. Like they’re my literal babies.I now call my balcony full of pots a “garden” and it amuses Niyu and VC no end. But, it is what it is. Full and lush and happy making.
  4. I ended last year with the clear realisation that I was certainly feeling drawn back to the Earth, to roots, to more natural ways of living, in more ways than one. It’s a theme that has shown me many a parallel between the external reality and the internal landscape of my emotions and personal growth.
  5. And then this year, again and again, through observing nature abloom around me, as well as growth spurts within me — big and small — I have re-learned some old lessons about growth in a new way.These words I wrote here ring so true:
    Being in tune — whether it has been in taking to plants and dabbling in a bit of gardening, watching the moon and observing my mind and body through the cycle, running when I feel like it and lazing when I don’t — has affirmed in many a way again and again, that growth has it’s own pace. It’s own milestones. It cannot be rushed by an externally kept schedule.To ready yourself to bloom often requires long periods of inaction — whether you think of it as germination, autumnal period of your life, hibernation for self-care or whatever you will — it signals the necessary time of pause. Of stillness that is needed to first drop below. To peel. To shed. To let go and leave behind. In order to heal, nourish, nurture what lies beneath. And eventually to move on and about. To reach out. To evolve. To thrive. To bloom.

The other day, in a marathon session spent with my plants, I potted some spider plants that I had left to drop roots in bottles of water. If they were babies then, they had turned into literal toddlers by the time I got to potting them.

The bottles still had their labels on which meant that while I was topping up the water (often quite disinterestedly) every so often, I didn’t really have a view into what was going on within. Truth be told, there wasn’t much growth to show for on the outside either, which is actually why I hadn’t moved to do anything with them sooner. I was waiting to see some obvious signs of growth.

Externally.

Until that day, when I pulled the pesky little babies out the water.

It’s literally the most obvious things. Plants sprout shoots. We know this. And yet I couldn’t believe my eyes. Upon unentangling and loosening up the roots, I couldn’t get over how long and how lush it was.

All this beneath the surface, hidden from view, with nothing to show for it above the surface — I felt impossibly moved at the thought of how much action and activity happens in the quiet, hidden recesses of the internal world. With no real signs, no fan fare on the outside.

It felt resonant to my own therapeutic process, my journey the last so many years. Intensely private, quiet, only for me to see and know what I am chipping away at ever so subtly. Weeks and months go by with no visible change. And even when change comes, mostly I am the only one to know it, and hold it within me.

It reminded me of the personal, quiet, often lonesome and non-performative nature of true growth.

Not the first time I have cried over my plants, but the sight brought me to tears to see parts of my own life these past four months reflected in the plant. Being physically isolated, restricted, cut off has definitely cut away another layer of distractions for me, taking me deep within in a way that has been deeper and quieter than before.

I have shared little with friends and have mostly felt a lack of words to explain the nuances of my emotional state. It has seemed calm on the outside, but within, I have been through some extreme emotions, ups and downs and emerged from it all much more solid than before. I’ve witnessed the tiny roots and shoots nudging forward within me, forcing their way through my ribs and lungs, making my heart expand ever so slightly, a little bit more every day.

My therapeutic process too has been different lately. Few, almost no, words. More body work. Dream work. Art, movement, physical and other forms of expression. And through it all I have steadily noted how my movement has been inward. Going deeper within, even as I stretch out.

The lack of specificity, tangibility, the unseeness of the process I am currently in has been challenging. It has required of me a curiosity, patience and tenderness that I didn’t think I could ever extend to myself. It has been like falling in love with myself all over again.

It feels special, this privateness. I know it speaks of my capacity to hold my growth, and hold myself through it. Perhaps a day will come, when quite like a baby emerging out of a birth canal, or the spider plant being pulled out of the bottle, something will happen that will stun and astonish me at how much has changed, out of view.

How much growth happens beneath the surface. How much the roots matter. How much going within, is the key to growing tall. How much this silence and inwardness has made me feel rooted and centred.

How much growing outward requires the deep, difficult, yet essential journey within.

Right on cue, I found Rainer Maria Rilke put succinctly in simple words what I have stuttered along for too long here.

The only journey is the one within.

Everything else is noise.

Two years ago: Lost and found and turned around
Four years ago: Down and out

Monday Tarot Message: On the human need for safety

One of the main goals of the subconscious mind is to keep us safe by encouraging and reiterating safety in the Status Quo.

So, impulses for growth, expansion and evolution often make us feel torn between staying in or stepping out of our comfort zones. This is what that familiar feeling of not knowing when or which way to go, when considering change, is all about. Waiting for your mind to cue the right time or opportunity is to commit to that status quo — as safe as it feels — indefinitely.

Today’s message is: Whatever you feel called towards, even if just a hint or a glimmer, respond. With a small step. Begin now.

The allegiance to comfort zone is hardcoded into our physiology and psyches. For those of us who come from ancestry fraught with difficulty, deprivation or insecurity (read: experiencing wars, partition, mass persecution, famines, floods, severe economic difficulty etc.), the message to stay in the comfort zone to keep safe is inherited, valid and deeply embedded within us.

It may manifest as fear of change, disproportionate to current reality. Or as illogical and seemingly unreasonable preoccupation with things going wrong. Or, conversely, as an obsession or hyper-focus on security and staying safe.

However, this safety mechanism can often fortify our resistance to grow — a process that lies almost entirely outside the comfort zone.

Whether it is considering a career shift, making new friends, pursuing learning, developing new skills, overcoming a fear, or healing old trauma — it is your subconscious’ job to show up in numerous ways to encourage you NOT to. And it will. Very often, it will also succeed.

I’m all for fearlessness in embracing change. Growth requires a certain willingness and bravery to encounter the unknown. But it’s important to also understand that feeling safe is a crucial human requirement. When we acknowledge this very basic need, we can respond with a kind of bravery that is soft and tender, that makes space for it as a necessary vulnerability that makes us human; rather than bravado that discounts it and in the process may push us to be reckless or dangerous.

Understanding our need for safety teaching us our natural limits and therefore how and when to push them in a way that works for us. Negating the real need for safety disconnects us from what may work for us. This may be the subtle difference between the call for blind, miraculous, all pervasive fearlessness; versus moving mindfully towards growth, even as you experience fear every step of the way.

The fear probably won’t go away, but we can learn to move towards our dreams and desires by inviting fear to the table and trying to learn what it can teach us about ourselves in the process.

Even when we feel called to grow, we cannot respond to our heartfelt desires, without tending to the need for safety. The key is to identify experiences of stretch that can serve us well, and to move towards them in a slow and safe way. Awareness — of what and when resistance is triggered — and mindful steps towards safe choices that affirm the benefit of letting our guard down in favour of that stretch, towards growth and evolution, will serve well.

One year ago: Taking myself to new places that my mind doesn’t know are good for me
Two years ago: Long as you remember, the rain been coming down
Four years ago: 100 Tinder Tales reveals dating apps give women the upper hand

Happy in my belly

It’s been a little over a month of going over the edge, letting go fully and enjoying it fully for what it was. Eating all the things — and I mean allllll the things — guilt-free, without rules, without any restrictions; and allowing for little routine as far as exercise goes. It was great while it lasted, and I have fully recognised my need to go off the bandwagon every so often, as a very vital part of staying on it for the greater part. I can only sustain something, if I have the window to let go now and then.

But, now it has begun to show. On my skin. On my energy. On my sleep. And so quite naturally, as it always does, my body has brought me back to the middle path, by simply asking for what is needed. Cleaner food, a little discipline and regular exercise.

So, I have turned the corner again. Bringing back into moderation that which I had let run amok, quite deliberately for a while.

It’s been a week of just simple changes and returning to some old habits. I feel so rewarded, with the ability to listen to what my body is asking for — whether it is to let go the rules, fearlessly, knowing that I will be guided back when the time is right — and doing what’s needed, giving my body what it needs and is asking for, and watching it respond so quickly. With wellness, with balance, with centredness.

That I have been able to flow with this, in and out, without effort, just through listening in keenly and being in tune with my body and the cues it’s gives me all the time, is a true gift.

One year ago: Mush
Two years ago: Slowly drifting, wave after wave
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Sunday lunch edition
Four years ago: Like Nike, but better

Rosé

In all my dreaming about being outdoors, for just a tiny bit (not even far, just out will do, for now) I have been having visions of being outdoors. I dreamt of being on a farm the other night, uprooting a gigantic cauliflower from the earth, satisfaction writ large on my face. I’ve been daydreaming of picnicking — recollecting intensely happy memories from my childhood when we’d go off on picnics a lot, without a plan or too much thinking. VC and I have considered driving out of the city, a flask of chai and some sandwiches in tow, just to go out to be amidst trees, take our masks off for a bit.

And then yesterday, I had this very deep ache in my chest, thinking about this afternoon in Paris from nearly two years ago.

Suddenly, this right here, perfectly captures what being outside has come to mean to me right now, in this moment. Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

This was a couple of hours we spent on the banks of the Seine, when we picked up wine, by the glass, at a bar whose very purpose seemed to make available wine by the glass for people to drink by the river. We walked in and everyone else got beers, but I asked for a rosé. It was that perfect weather for rosé. A crisp nip in the air, but the sun shining sharply, breeze from time to time — perfect 4 o clock wandering weather basically. I saw the bartender casually chuck a couple of ice cubes in my glass of wine.

I know absolutely nothing about wine. But for some reason I remember thinking I’m pretty sure that breaks some wine rule somewhere, but HOW COOL that he thought nothing of doing it.

Want chilled wine, but the wine isn’t chilled? No problem, here’s some ice.

Wine snobs everywhere might have turned their noses up at me. Rosé — that somehow always feels a touch finer and presents more delicacy than red or white wine — running dilute as the ice that keeps it cool also melts away into it.

But it was perfect.
Flexible. Chill. Improvising on the go.
Going with the flow, not letting warm wine get in the way of a delightful afternoon hang — just what the moment needed, really.

Quite like me, I remember thinking then.

And my God, how strongly that vision came back to me yesterday. That day, that afternoon, sitting by the river drinking my rosé from a non-plastic glass, ice cubes and all, I remember feeling so seen and understood by the moment. For giving me just what I needed.

And I am quite like this. Even more so these days. As I have leaned so much into the side of me that can roll with fewer plans, that’s okay to break some rules, that’s willing to do what’s needed to be happy.

Even if it is put ice cubes in wine.

It thrilled me no end to make that completely obscure, even contrived, connection. For a few moments there, looking at this picture, I lived vicariously. I imagined being outdoors. I saw iridescent greens from the treetops, pearly limpid blues of the river gently lapping by, and me sitting amidst it, wine glass in hand, feet dangling off the edge of the bund, along with literally scores of others doing the same.

Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

The whole day dream made me curious about the rules around putting ice in wine, and so I googled it. I didn’t learn a thing about the “rules”, but guess what?

Ice in rosé? IT’S A THING!

La piscine, it’s called. A refreshing glass of rosé, made further refreshing by being poured over ice.

La piscine literally translates to “the swimming pool” — which I think is just the most exquisite description of a drink that was literally like swimming in a pool of freshness. I don’t think I have ever felt so thrilled, or found so much meaning in an alcoholic beverage (or any other beverage, for that matter) in my entire life.

I have to say this reverie soothed the impossibly itchy need to be outdoors quite a bit. But it set of a whole other spiral of missing this afternoon, and being with these peeps.

Soon, soon.

One year ago: Time out
Two years ago: What about sunrise, what about rain?
Three years ago: Books-shooks

Change needs a chance

More space to invite peace, has meant more space to access hope, for me. And in that hope, I have realised it means giving change a chance. It means sitting with the uncertainty of it. The distress of it. Again, without judgement or intention about how to move through it. A process that isn’t always smooth sailing and pretty.

This message comes to me time and time again, in different aspects of my life, through different situations and also in varying measures of intensity and urgency. And lately, it has come so often, I know I cannot ignore it anymore.

People have always been good at imagining the end of the world, which is much easier to picture than the strange sidelong paths of change in a world without end.

I found these words by Rebecca Solnit (from Hope in the Dark) that hit the spot, felt especially right for this time and they have given me fresh energy to dig my heels in and commit to doing the work anyway. My work, starting with me. Because aren’t we a collective of individuals anyway?

I’ve been thinking about the nature of hope a lot these days. What it feels like. What shapes it takes, what ideas come to kind, how my body feels and responds when I’m feeling hopeful. And it has been surprising to journal this. Invariably this train of thought takes me to the ingredients of hope. And change. And what it might take to get there — to these ideas of a changed world.

In swirling thoughts about all of this, I feel more and more close to being in agreement with the inherently broken, flawed, imperfectly perfect humanness of us as a species. I see more and more with gentle eyes, why we behave the way we do, why we are the people we are and why our beliefs make us do the things we do. I see a traumatised human being in Narendra Modi. I see incredible unprocessed pain in bigotry and potential for healing and integration in those hanging on to and peddling hate (on both sides of the spectrum).

Suddenly, I have noticed that the raging anger that came in waves has turned to exasperated and confounded laughter. I cannot excuse the impossible levels of injustice, and I am in no way justifying them, but I find my reactions changing. Softer, not in power, but in the gaze with which I view it.

This is a very unsettling place to be. Because it almost makes me sympathise with all that I have held as the “enemy” for so long now. I almost don’t want to allow it. I don’t want to allow myself the softening because of what it has meant to my old brain to hold on to polarities. But I see now that some part of that holding on also means not allowing new possibilities. And that is no longer an option for me. I have got to give change a chance. Beginning with me.

In seeing the connection between peace and hope in myself, I also realise that if the hope for peace in the world at large is the goal, everything about the way in which we remain in our polarities has to change. Everything about the way I remain in my polarities has to change.

One year ago: Breaking the silence
Two years ago: Follow me down to the valley below

Out and about (not)

Things are fiiiine. I’m safe. I’m indoors. I’m healthy. I feel well. The fridge is full. The kitchen, stocked. I’m in fine company, not alone. My balcony views are pretty stunning, startlingly often. And yet, A pretty large part of me just deeply, deeply needs a good loaf about town. Or outside of town.

Let it be known.

One year ago: Grey
Four years ago: On Solitude

There is no better place

Peace, in the last couple of weeks, has come fleetingly. But when it did, it came with a giant embrace that totally engulfed me. I noticed that when it came, it was always on days or phases when I allowed myself to fully respond to all the ways in which I am being called to face change. When I put my mind aside, and responded through body and heart, moving with it to the full extent that seemed necessary. Doing what felt important spontaneously, without intention, little judgement (I try!) and as little planning as I could possibly manage. This is the manageable, internal part. But there is also the external component. And so that all-consuming peace that comes with a hum of happiness has also come from accepting with grace — I am only just learning I have this within me — that the world around me has changed. Irrevocably so. And that it will continue to change.

It takes constant reminding myself in as many different ways as possible: There is no “better” place. Just this, here, now. Hang on to nothing. Stay curious about most things. Be open to everything.

Much easier said than done. And certainly something that needs continual chipping away and internalising, through examining my resistance to it and enjoying the effects of what happens when I drop that resistance for a wee bit. None of this is easy. But what I know for certain now is that it is totally possible.

Four years ago: Chettinadu vignettes

Monday Tarot Message: Examine your illusions

I love when this happens — when a super apt card shows up at just the right time. It feels extra relevant and potent somehow. Like this card, today.

An important one to have picked right after the full moon of the weekend, which featured an important lunar eclipse and coincided with the occasion of Guru Purnima — a day to revere enablers of truth, within and around us.

The Moon speaks of illusions we hold in our waking life. Like fear, shame and guilt — that make us project versions of ourselves, in the attempt to keep the true, most authentic versions of ourselves at bay. These projections help us fight the need to delve deep into the inner truths of our subconscious (depicted by the rippled pool of water), which is the only place to know who we really are. For example, a projection of strength, maybe hiding the fear or shame of facing the tenderness and fragility of human nature. A projection of uncompromising resilience maybe hiding the need to accept a vulnerability that would probably help us from staying out of harmful situations, than walking into them over and over, in the name of resilience.

Owning who we really are involves facing up to these illusions we hold. It requires confronting a truth that we may have avoided for long because it is either too scary or difficult or painful or shameful to face alone. This is where the role of a fellow truth seeker/speaker becomes crucial. For a seeker groping the dark, the path is illuminated by a Guru.

Traditional connotations of the term may bring to mind a picture difficult for many of us to connect with, so perhaps it will help to deconstruct the term to suit your reality and experience. Think of a Guru as anyone who enables this journey for you. Anyone who stands by your side shining a light sometimes, leading by examples sometimes, cheering you on and holding your hand when the going gets tough. This could very well be a spiritual or religious leader, as is often the case. But it could also be a mentor, a fiercely honest friend or relative, a teacher, a fellow truth seeker, a therapist even.

With the help of a Guru, you can introspect on and examine your illusions and dismantle them. So you can get to the truth that lies just beyond the facade. What do your illusions hold? What are they keeping you from seeing? What truth are they helping you fight, keeping you fragmented and disconnected from yourself?

A projection is usually hiding something very innately human. In our quest for perfection for example, we’re usually fighting embracing the very real messy, unkempt and imperfect side of ourselves. And in the bargain we’re fighting our very humanness.

Beyond the illusion is usually exactly what we need to see, acknowledge, and embrace.

Interestingly, the full moon that just passed marked Guru Purnima — a day on the Indian calendar dedicated to celebrating our Gurus and enablers of truth. And this year, Jupiter — the planet of wisdom and truth, also called Guru — is in retrograde, heralding a time of a quiet, introspective, inward-turned gaze.

Take a moment to think of the truth speakers/seekers in your life. All those who allow you to be true to yourself, who hold space for your truth, who enable you on the journey to knowing your true self. And with grace and gratitude, give thanks today.

Two years ago: Did you fall from a shooting star?
Four years ago: More work thoughts

Life goes easy on me

There are currently fewer things that really, and I mean reallllly, hit the spot for me than

  • a day with no plans
  • cooking an utterly barebones meal
  • and sticking my hands in mud first thing in the morning

Today, I hit the jackpot, because even without intending or planning to, I waltzed through all three things, spontaneously today.

It certainly helps that it is a gorgeous morning here, with dappled light, a steady drizzle, with the promise of more rain. So gorgeous that it inspired me to indulge in that rare occurrence –breakfast. And chai on top of it.

And then I began sorting through my plants. Repotting some stuff, putting some babies that I’d propagated too long ago into soil, cutting and pruning some, and snipping off a large bunch of new babies, and making a giant mess in the bargain. I didn’t realise it, but three hours just passed by this way.

Thankful for the gifts my little balcony keeps giving. Literal and metaphorical today, because I was moved to tears seeing the root growth on a wee spider baby plant that I have ignored for longer than I intended to.

I’ve been easily moved and emotional lately. But the comfort with the emotions welling over isn’t always uniform. Sometimes there is extreme ease, and sometimes I feel taken by surprise and quickly begin to analyze where it may be coming from. Invariably, I conclude that it doesn’t matter. What matters is to feel it out, one way or another. I know that writing is one way for me to feel, but I have been trying to choose less fixed, cognitive, obvious and “presentable” ways to feel in recent times. Watercolours, watching the rain, gardening, sitting in silence. And I wonder if this has made it easier still, for the emotions to flow, without reason. Filterless and free.

Life goes easy on me today.

One year ago: Pause
Two years ago: You’ll be a good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: light and life
Four years ago: June

Friday feels

Can’t get over, or enough of, the brilliant weather we’ve had this past week. Consistently moody skies, pleasantly refreshing drizzles in the day and nourishing downpours by evening.

I’ve taken it easy this week thanks to getting my period, but also the fact that it occurred happily right when the weather got so good. I’ve wanted to do nothing but stay in, so I took the readymade excuse that was offered up on a platter.

I had a mini catch-up session for my course, mid-week, but my mind was entirely elsewhere this time around. Amongst the rain laden clouds. The glistening wet streets. The cool air, beyond. In thoughts of picnicking somewhere outside Bangalore. With being in the hills elsewhere. Amongst this random dream of a cottage with a farm where I’m growing my own veggies.

That’s the only spot of work I managed to get myself to do. Readings have been going on, and they don’t tax me or demand a lot out of me at the pace at which I’m operating currently. So it doesn’t even classify as work. There are a few plans or side projects I have that I could get going with — logically this is the right time — but I haven’t been able. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait like this for the right moment but it feels like the only thing I can do right now. I can seem to only push myself this much. Going against the grain and pushing through in the name of “getting shit done” just because an empty spot of time opened up is not only hard, it feels impossible now.

Today after cleaning chores, though, I shuffled things around at home. In anticipation of our new living room furniture that’s arriving soon. We decided to break the rule and not get a set, or a couch, but two single armchairs instead, in the hope that it opens up our cozy, tiny living room up. I bathed my plants and moved them around. I took the babies that have been inside outside, and brought some new babies inside.

The whole time it drizzled. And I cleaned while listening to Continuum, which threw it all the way back to to yonks ago, to a time in the years when I had just started to drive in Bangalore. When listening to my best music, driving around in the rain, with no plan or agenda, was a legit thing to do. Most times, I didn’t even need company.

This whole album is GOLD. And perfect for the rain. And is loaded with all the feels. It was a serious trip today that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I can’t believe another week has just whizzed by. I feel like I’ve been horizontal for the most part. I can’t complain, but I am just in shock at the pace at which time seems to be moving, even with deliberately doing so little. And just like that another weekend rolls along. The days are certainly blurring, weekday/weekend, nothing seems to matter anymore and I’m just floating through the continuum.

One year ago: Stay in
Two years ago: June

Nesting

It’s been gloomy all day. Spend the day under a blanket kind of weather. And that’s just what I did. Getting out only briefly to help VC make lunch. He made us steaks with a creamy wine and mushroom sauce today, with sauteed garlicky beans on the side.

I’m happy for days like this, somehow. And I said to VC, how different this whole time might have been if he or I or both of us had full time jobs that took us outside.id have definitely missed this opportunity for nesting in the way that we have.

Something about the luxury of that has meant cocooning some more. And it has been very good for us.

One year ago: Reflections
Two years ago: I wouldn’t change a single thing

Peace, within and without

First thing in the morning is my most preferred time of day for exercise. In a perfect world, my energy and willingness would be right up there with that intention. But that isn’t always the case. And it is only very recently that I have come into agreement with this fact, without feeling like I am somehow useless for not always meeting that standard.

I don’t know if it is just an outcome of ageing that I am me seeing how my “morning person” energy is shifting, as it does, mostly towards a natural slowing down, or if this has always been true and I am only just getting more comfortable with my inherent patterns of energy.

I am also at my most energetic, nimble and supple in the few days right after my period, while at my least energetic and not desiring movement in the days right before my period.

Today was that kind of day. Slow, blobby, body not entirely willing even though head and heart were. So even though I woke up early and had a perfect window to workout, I found myself moving in a very measured way, doing everything else except getting ready to exercise.

I nearly cancelled out the workout entirely, even. But pushed myself just a wee bit. Because I have rarely never regretted a workout once I have finished, no matter what the circumstances before I began.

This is also a part of rolling with the punches — the willingness and ease with breaking the plan, with doing something rather than nothing at all, going as far as is possible than not going at all, not being exacting and demanding with my expectations of myself.

Picked a short, quick, high-impact workout today. There is quite nothing like that burst of energy, even for a body that not so long ago felt unwilling to move. Invariably, it takes all of 5-7 minutes for me to feel like I can move. And so I am glad I pushed through with whatever I had to give and however I was able to show up today. Because by the end of it, I felt bliss.

Bliss is just the word for it. Have you ever felt bliss within your body? Like the sun shining out from within you? I felt that way this morning, despite that feet-dragging start. And so I felt instinctively drawn to step outside, to the little sliver of sunshine I get and feeling one with the world around me.

It has to be said that even with the ups and downs in my emotions, in context to what’s been going on around me and the world at large, I feel very much at one with myself lately. A sense of togetherness within me. Peace inside of me. Quite anchored and not wanting to uproot anything — a sense of everything being in it’s place.

Earlier, when this contentment showed up, it would come with a desperate need to hold on to it. To bottle it. To keep it for a rainy day. I notice now that there is a new ease with just witnessing, experiencing it in the now, now. And letting it go. And welcoming all experiences and everything that they bring, alike.

This is so new, and I suspect a major reason for the peace, even in the face of feeling low sometimes, quite a bit of grief sometimes, physical distress from being restricted too.

I want to acknowledge this experience I’m having, of seeing and knowing emotions, without being hijacked by them, getting swept away or losing my footing when in their effect. Is this possibly a brush with inner peace?

***

Today, this also made me really happy.

***

Looking back at posts from July one year ago, and again balking at what a different place I was in, in my head and in my life. It seems too distant to even process, like reading the words of an entirely different person.

This year, with the coming of the monsoon, that expected and predictable yearning to be in Goa is all but missing. A fascinating development. I mean, I would love to be there in the monsoon, but every year since I have moved away, this time of year used to bring an aching longing and FOMO, which hasn’t come this year.

One year ago: The rain
Three years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much
Four years ago: The rain, the rain

How much?

Ouuff, so much has happened in the span of just a week, and the weekend.

Over the weekend, VC and I realised it’s officially been over 100 days since we have been indoors. Granted, we’ve been venturing out some in the last month, it’s been nowhere close to “normal” or the way that the world outside has bounced back. We’ve still been limiting our outings and getting more stuff done per outing, to avoid repeatedly stepping out.

Over the last week though, we’d finally started getting out a bit, and entertained the idea of having service staff home, to tend to some long pending tasks that we have been putting off since March. Pest control. Some carpentry. A new couch. Running shoes. Pots for my balcony garden (that is mildly out of control right now).

But, over the weekend, our building had one positive case. And since we’re a small building of just 12 homes, a majority of which have senior citizens, the building voluntarily limited movement for a bit once again.

And so we were back to being in. More in than we have been actually because we had to isolate, until the BBMP came over and sanitized the building twice over. It was just a little over two days, but gosh, the gloom that descended over VC and me was quite something. On the surface we have gotten through this entire period of isolation quite okay. Riding the highs and lows because we’ve had each other, and my sister. Over the weekend the pall of gloom was a bit much to take. I’m certainly hitting my saturation point with staying indoors and self-isolating.

The desire isn’t so much about going out to do things like eat or hit a mall, but I’ve been feeling a sense of shrinking that isn’t sitting well, and is getting hard to keep under wraps. My body feels restricted and in need of expansion. The experience is of being stuck, while internally I am feeling such a deep urge for movement. And it’s beginning to test my patience, this holding both states and waiting and watching. A major part of me wants to get going. Sigh.

The darned virus is now literally at our doorsteps. While the world is opening up, and my desire to be out there is rising. The irony of it.

How much more?

Three years ago: What coming home feels like: love and abundance
Four years ago: Watercolour eyes

Monday Tarot Message: Reimagining love

The Ace of Cups typically speaks of romantic love. But lately, I’ve been drawn to examine love outside this stereotypical association alone.

Love, like all emotions, is like water. It will find a way to flow. It can either refresh and give life, if tended to nurturance; or it can flood and destroy, if suppressed and withheld.

This is an invitation to revisit love in a time when building walls around our hearts and saving up our love only for people exactly in the same camp as us, is the norm.

Growing a positive and nurturing attitude towards love begins within each one of us. With noticing what makes us clam shut and close our hearts up. Why we give up connection and empathy so easily, even when we’re neurologically hardwired to connect and belong. And to examine the deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing. Conversely, what makes us open up and express love to those with whom we have a sense of sameness and commonality.

Can we learn to let love flow freely again, as the necessary component of structural compassion and empathy our communities so desperately need right now? How else can we reorganise our world to move past the growing divisions that split and keeps us apart?

What role does love then play, in a world constantly being served up hate, differences and distinct polarities? How can we reorganise the notions, practice and expressions of love so it allows for:

  • examination of our deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing freely
  • compassion for the varied experiences of the other, completely different from the ones we know.
  • justice for those wronged by an inequitable system.
  • empathy for circumstances our privilege will never allow us to touch
    closer-knit, self-contained communities.
  • courage for a less fear-driven way of connecting with each other.
  • a broader sense of wanting a better, equitable and ecological world beyond our little cubbyholes.
  • the ability to making space for all expressions and kinds of love across the spectrum.

Just questions today. No ready-made, neatly summed up answers. Because some answers don’t come easy and sometimes we’d do well to sit with the discomfort of *not* knowing, with confronting the messy work of pulling existing structures apart, not having quick answers, immediate opinions and perfect fixes. Then, maybe we can begin to rebuild.

One year ago: Stillness
Two years ago: I choose to be happy
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts
Four years ago: Holiday vibes