Day 11: I have my books and my poetry to protect me

Most days, I write because I have so much to say and I want to be heard. Contrary to popular belief, being articulate in writing doesn’t always mean a writer is articulate in speaking. I’m not very good with those words, so I choose these.

Most days, I write because it’s the fuel that keeps me going. Thoughts turn to words, words turn to thoughts and on and on and on.

Some days I write to silence the voices in my head. Some days, to give the meek whimper struggling to stay alive, a breath of fresh air, and a mouthpiece.

Some days, I write because I feel like I’m a part of a tribe of likeminded people. Writers. Women. What have you. Some days, it’s to remind myself that even at my loneliest, there are people who will read my words and some times write to say they could relate. Or that they’ve been there too. Or that they liked what they read.

I could go on and on.

These days though, I write as a means to conserving my emotional and mental energy. I write as a means to finish every thought that I kindle. I write so I can journal all that I’m figuring out, fully, before I make heedless utterances. I write to jot the stops and starts on this path that I’m on. I write to mark the milestones, the small victories and the dips that define it. I write because at the moment, I am selfishly committed to looking inwards — writing helps me converse with myself.

I write because it is a very good way to sit still and be present with everything that I think, feel and process. I write because it helps me make sense of this fascinating process. I write so I can journal it in long-form. I write because this is for me. I write because I’ve only just tasted the sheer pleasure of this intensely personal experience. I write because I’ve woken up very late, to the bliss of going this way alone. I write because I choose not to snap a picture for Instagram every time, or shoot out an update on Whatsapp, to make a declaration, every time I arrive at a noteworthy moment. I write because it makes me slow down and savour every memory better, twice over.

I write because it is the only way I know how to record my truth. I write, so I can look back someday and ponder over how far I’ve come (or not). I write as a means to drop crumbs along the way, so others can follow if they find themselves in the same place. I write because words speak, connect and bridge distances. I write so my mind can go the distance and arrive at the destination I’m headed to, even before the rest of me can.

Two years ago: Day 11: This and that

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Day 9: The hardest part

is admitting that you were wrong. But once you’re over that hurdle, it’s like walking into the light, or unlocking the next level of a mystery you’re desperately trying to solve.

For someone so convinced I was an out and out introvert just over a year ago, the past year has seen a big change. The developments of recent time, specially the last six odd weeks have only confirmed what I have known to be true for a while now: I have changed, in ways I know, but more so in ways I am only getting to know slowly.

The more willing I am to sit still and observe, question and think about the changes I see, the more I know this to be true. And that willingness is the hard part. Because it means accepting that it may be time to let go of some rigid truths, or that I might need to soften up on some of my staunch aversions, or it means letting go of the safety of labels that I use to define me. It means instead, to look at the very real circumstances that are shaping me in entirely different ways.

It means finding new connections.

It means sometimes standing alone.

Daunting as it sounds, and is in some part, it is also incredibly energising. Nobody talks about how refreshing and life-giving the process can be. It is not without tedium, and there’s really no escaping the bitter realities that you’ll have to stare in the face, but once you’re over that hurdle, it is like a breath of fresh air. Light, rejuvenating, and puts the spring right back in your step.

Perhaps it is the mistaken ideas of adulthood and becoming-who-you-are that we have inculcated, that makes this journey seem one way. The pursuit of prescribed ideals, boxed definitions and perfection itself makes looking back, revisiting old versions of yourself and admitting less than ideal facets of yourself impossible, and a waste of time. Shame, envy, inadequacy, confusion become bad words we don’t want to believe are parts of us.

But the truth is, growing up involves going back and forth all the time. It is acknowledging these unsavoury parts of ourselves that unlocks the potential to plummet ahead. Never before have I valued retrospection so much. For it has helped revisit so much, only this time with a softer eye. Less self-loathing. Less judgement. More acceptance.

With every passing week, I realise I’m not the introvert I was in the months before I left Goa. It was circumstances that made me withdraw and seek my own company, closed in from the world. But I didn’t understand why or how it was happening. It was simply the playing out of what N articulated perfectly — Everyone can’t go with you everywhere — a truth (and several others) I’m only realising this now. And I’m changing, because of it.

Even until weeks mere ago, it was hard to say if it was a change brought on by changing circumstances, or if the shifts brewing within me in turn were reflected in my circumstances. Mostly this has been a revelation about how wrong I was.

I noticed around the middle of last year how suddenly I was much more willing to go out, be with people, socialise and do things outside of the four walls of the introvert cocoon I’d settled into. The frequency with which I’d surprise myself by volunteering to do something I thought was uncharacteristic began to rise, till I realised it was too frequent to pass it off as “exceptions to the rule”. It was, in fact, the new normal. Try out a new restaurant, I’m in. Want to come to xyz, with abs, def, (who you don’t know), sure! Want to try out a reading club where we’ll read a book on self-esteem, why not? Poetry reading, yes. Movie with the family, yes. Dinner with extended family, okay to that too. Cooking for fifteen people over two days, count me in.

Slowly I found myself feeling a lot more energetic and willing to to put myself out there, in situations I’d told myself were never for me. The clincher was willingly joining VC in his new business, and taking on a client-facing role.

Conversely, I don’t fancy spending as much time all by myself at home. It helps that amma’s home is in the next building, so I always have a cocoon of comfort to jump into when things get overly solitary around here.

This is a big change for someone who in Goa barely ever left home, and loved being alone. The most joyous moment on any ordinary day then, would be when VC left for work and the help finished for the day. I would savour the solitude slowly over the course of the day, wearing my space and isolation like a comfortable skin.

It’s true what they say, the company you keep really does reflect your state of mind. And maybe this, in some measure also explains the dissonance and distance I’ve felt with those I’d most easily turn to for daily kinship. I’ve carried this feeling, that something has changed, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it, around uncomfortably for a few weeks. Eventually, the truth dawned on me: in the face of all this drastic change, I feel less and less inclined to stick to fixed anythings. My faith in the rock bed of certainties has shaken, so I’m finding it very counter-productive to stick in places I am feeling restless. Whether that is a pattern of friendship, the habits I think I need to have, or fearing breaking them because it means being alone.

The last few weeks saw me do both. And surprisingly, it got easier. The fear subsided and I felt charged with an energy I didn’t know possible.

Do you know what it is like to watch yourself move from being a somewhat passive, this-is-who-I-am-and-I’ll-just-stay-here-until-the-right-stuation-happens to a let’s-go-out-there-and-find-a-way-to-make-this-work state of mind? It has been like dipping into a secret reserve of self-worth I have suddenly discovered.

We really underestimate how much we are capable of growth. How much we are in fact changing all the time. Drastic growth brings with it such significant shifts in the mind and body that inevitably, it leads you to the reality of leaving things behind. By definition, it is what movement entails.

So whether it’s a time (it’s futile being torn up about moving on from the perks of full time employment, for example, because it doesn’t have a place in my life or in my current reality), place (similarly, so meaningless to wistfully long for my life in Goa when this is where I am now and it is what I know is most necessary), or even company (If I am changing all the time, surely every body else is too. So what then am I hanging on to so tight?), the need to loosen the grip and ease up on expecting a pre-defined kind of certainty has slipped under my skin.

Much like hanging on to older ideas of a version of myself did nothing but delay the movement that was waiting to happen in my life, I’m realising that hanging on to a fixed, rigid idea of the kind of friendship I am made for, or what I am capable of in relatonships, has made it hard for me to find deeper, authentic connections suited to where I am now.

 

One of the things that has become utterly clear to me in the recent past is that my life has little meaning without connection. I’m craving it all the time. In people, in activities, in experiences, in spaces, in habits. I’m only now learning how believing so hard in the fallacy that I am a complete introvert, has held me back in this respect.

It was hard to acknowledge that my introvertism was a temporary shield I donned, while I waded through emotions I didn’t want to face. I mistook a streak of introvertism to be a personality-defining thing, when actually it was just me seeking safety in numbers, in memes that scream relatable truths that made me feel like I belonged. Because I wanted to belong anywhere, but to the real self that was desperately running away from feeling all the feels.

Until, I was ready to break out and do all of that — face those scary feels, be as vulnerable as I possibly could, acknowledge how wrong I was, look at new and intimidating ways of being that my situation now required.

Now, I’m less afraid to make connections.

Similarly, I am less afraid to stand alone.

This shift in my attitude has already brought tremendous positive change — I see it in the most significant things like the way I was able to accept moving to Bangalore to the smallest, seemingly insignificant things like suddenly embracing hot pink lipstick with a casual comfort that was alien to me.

I see it in the way I am suddenly more outgoing. Accepting invitations to meet new people, pushing myself out to events, trying out new restaurants, making plans to beat traffic and increasingly seeking new experiences, over the comfort of mundanities, when it comes to people. I’m reluctant to keep going over the same motions out of habit. I have little to share in terms of mundanities, and the lack of conversational sharing does mean I’ve fallen out of the loop. But I’m dealing with that, and even with its difficulties, I feel it’s better than the hollow, exhausting efforts of continually trying to flog a habit I’m clearly not in the space to hang on to.

I am so not that person anymore.

Accepting that was the hardest part.

This business of looking back at the trail we’ve traversed now seems like an essential healthy practice, one that I should probably do more often. To see where we were, how far we’ve come, to ask crucial questions about where we’re headed, why, and if we’ll actually be happy once we get there requires so much reworking of of our old selves, to take what’s best for us and to let go of all that no longer serve a purpose.

But I won’t lie, that is the hardest part.

Day 8: I’m just too good at goodbyes

I really am. The people-come-people-go theme of my life continues. The only difference I’ve come to notice is a decrease in angst or disappointment every time it happens. Earlier, I’d be very torn up about it, even the times when I consciously chose to distance myself or cut off ties with someone. But now, the blues come and go quickly. It bothers me, but doesn’t affect me in that lingering sort of way. Earlier, I’d see the end of a relationship as The End. Now, I see it as a timely intervention for a new beginning. A chance to either alter something in the relationship or just to move on and find something new elsewhere, with someone else, perhaps.

At some level, I think I’ve made peace with this pattern. In the last few years, I’ve noticed how deeply linked this is with my own growth curve. Every time that I’ve hit a situation that has caused me to either step back from a relationship, or retreat into myself, it has been a time when I have experienced a shift in my own growth.

In December, I spent quite a lot of time pondering over this, and I’ve come to some conclusions. I’d like to think these are fundamental caveats that I have taken way too long to arrive at. And the process was not without it’s share of rife and pain. But I think of what Glennon Doyle Melton says, and take heart.

The truth will set you free, but it will hurt so badly first.

This is what will help ease the pain every time I find myself at a goodbye.

Making friends, maintaining friendships can sometimes be intimidating, at times exhausting and seemingly futile. That’s normal. And completely okay. There are times when you need and deserve companionship and the company of people can be uplifting, but there are some experiences you have to go alone. I’ve been going through some changes myself of late, details of which I’d usually be very keen to unravel and discuss and share with my closest friends. But this time around, I’ve been unable to (also not very inclined to) do this, except for N and D, who really get this process and side of me, for obvious reasons. I was a bit perplexed at my own behaviour, but over time, I realised that there is a certain sanctity in the process of change that is best enjoyed alone. It doesn’t need an audience, or that extra boost of confidence that we tend to sometimes seek from sharing information with our friends, when we’re unsure and we need a pat on the back and someone to unabashedly side with us. Tell us we’ll be alright, that in a similar situation, they’d do exactly the same.

Every relationship/person will come with some disappointment. This is bound to happen, because no two people evolve at the same pace, or ever have circumstances so similar to keep the likeness going. Evaluating what you value in each relationship, at each of those moments, will decide what parts you’re willing to ignore and let slide, and what parts become deal-breakers. Consequently, what relationships remain thick, which ones morph and move to the fringes, and which ones are eliminated altogether.

There comes a point in every relationship when the way things are going will be a clear reflection of some aspect of your sense of self. This was a hard one to acknowledge. Because it means taking responsibility for things that you’d normally pass on to the other party. It means noticing that you get what you give. Most recently, I saw it pan out when I came face to face with an extremely judgemental and critical side of myself I didn’t like. It took noticing and feeling bothered by someone elses judgemental behaviour to see my own. As I tried to work this out in my own head, I found greater and greater dissonance with the friends in whose company I was indulging in said judgemental behaviour. Things became harder still when I realised that I didn’t need to or want to talk about the process of reworking or course correcting this behaviour anymore. Doing so felt like a lot of roundabout justification of what I had come to realise was just shitty behaviour coming from a place of shame. I needed to just shut it down completely and move on to doing something about it. Quietly, without a fuss or much explanation.

Walk the talk, minus the talk, actually. In fact, this is the first time I’m even articulating these thoughts in writing. I saw in that situation that the friendships involved had devolved into a lot of casual chit-chat that involved wide-swathe judgements passed rather casually, and seemingly harmlessly, but that involved thoughts that were deep and really telling. In these friendships, I saw a reflection of this aspect of my sense of self that needed alteration. For those of you suddenly reaching out to ask why I’m off Instagram — this has something to do with it. I felt I needed to eliminate the trigger first, if I were to honestly address the issue at the heart of this.

Your spouse/friends will very well not be the answer to every one of your needs. And that is okay. You’re going to have different people for different things. Someone for the laughs and the fun. Someone else entirely for the truth-telling conversations. Sometime you reach out to for strength and support. And maybe none of these people will be the one you want to travel with or think of when you want some lighthearted fun. This is okay. Your friends are not and cannot fulfil every need at once.

N and I have discussed this at extreme length these past few weeks (given the time zones we’re in, every time I find us deeply engrossed and furiously sharing away, I worry that it means one of us is awake at an ungodly hour usually meant for sleep haha!) and she put it beautifully, in words I keep going back to.

Everyone can’t  go with you everywhere.

Every relationship will lack something. And that’s okay too. Because every relationship will give you a whole set of other valuable things. I am increasingly finding myself constantly evaluating this, and I realise how my equations with various friends keep fluctuating. When I moved to Bangalore, I came with huge expectations, looking forward to being in the same city as some of my closest friends. In reality, I didn’t connect with them nearly as much as I did with people from a forgotten past. I found that my family was there for me, far more than friends who promised they’d be. I inadvertently spent a lot more time with them, and by myself, focusing on things that really needed my time and attention. I saw myself enjoy the process of making new friends, when I realised the ones I had didn’t have the time or space for me. And that has been a wholly enriching experience in itself. I don’t feel the loss, as much as I have soaked in the gain.

Every time you hit a bump in a relationship, it is an opportunity to evolve. It’s natural for relationship to get old at some point or the other. These situations are inflection points that can be turned around positively if looked at as a call for evolution. Each opportunity is in a sense, a test of whether there is scope for evolution or not. Last month, I met a friend I was convinced I had put out of my life just three months before. I was over the moon thrilled to realise that over that period of complete silence and no contact, meeting again brought out conversation and experiences so telling of the growth we’ve both had in our time apart. No part of that meeting was reminiscent of our friendship as it used to be. It was utterly refreshing and in a sharp contrast to the time before, I didn’t come away exhausted and mentally drained. I felt uplifted. Nothing excites me these days as much as a kindred spirit who gets what I’m on about.

Not every goodbye, is goodbye for good. Yet, the truth hurts. It’s not easy to feel like you’re about to lose a friend. Because it means facing the truth about how much we want to be seen, known, loved and heard. How much we want to belong. But, I’ve realised that the silence from the frenetic activity of friendship presents crucial moments of pause. Moments necessary in cultivating a focus on belonging so wholly to yourself first.

Two years ago: Day 8: On waiting

Day 5: Here I go again (on my own)

It’s that time of year where I set off once again, resolve firm in place, willing myself on the path to fitness again. It’s January after all. This is the way things go even if it sometimes takes three odd weeks between intention and action fully kicking in.

Truth be told, 2017 was excellent as far as health, fitness and body positivity go. I started the year on a high. I felt fit, my vitamin D and B12 levels were back on track and I fell ill all of three times. I know without a shadow of doubt, that exercising played a major role in dragging me out of the funk that was 2016. As far as kickboxing goes, I was getting better, stronger and enjoying it more than I had since I started. Things were really peaking for me.

And then I moved cities. Losing access to my kickboxing teachers was easily one of the biggest losses of this year. Eight months in, I’m convinced I will never find a replacement or any fitness activity that will top the high kickboxing with them gave me.

The weeks in the transition to Bangalore saw erratic schedules, and in an attempt to bring some sanity and regularity, some grounding to a life that was otherwise up in the air, I signed up at a gym even before I signed a lease on a house to live in. As long as I have it my way, it’s not often that I slack off on the exercise front. I’m known to go to great lengths to juggle my schedule around in order to fit workouts in, even in the busiest of times.

Then, in August a serious fitness bug bit me. I put it down to the sudden proliferation of fitness gurus and trainers on Instagram posting relentlessly about their workouts, their diets and lifestyle. I was coasting along, nobody would even say I’m fat. I didn’t feel unhealthy. I was lifting heavier weights than I ever have. But suddenly I wanted to commit myself to a goal.

So far, I’d only ever focused on the bare minimum, which was to get in enough movement and burn excess energy and calories. I love food too much to consider dieting. It has never been on my mind. But I was also aware that coasting along would only get me that far. I suddenly wanted to see what was possible if I were to push myself. You know what they say, right? 70% of the fitness game happens in the kitchen, not at the gym. I knew that if I had to push myself and see real results (more muscle, better definition and power) I would need to look at what I was eating.

So I signed up for a six week training program with a trainer I followed on Instagram. I won’t go into details, but for the first time ever in my life I decided to watch what I eat. And it quite literally changed my life. First, the results were insane. The plan involved some major alterations in my daily intake. I wouldn’t call it a diet because the basics were very similar to my regular intake, just minus white rice and sugar completely, and a few other tweaks, putting the focus back on wholesome, home cooked, balanced food. That, combined with a daily workout plan. I saw myself shred fat I didn’t even know I had, I felt super energetic all the time, and I realised how eating right can really fuel my body to achieve impossible things. This was the difference I was curious to see. I was lifting harder, running father (I haven’t attempted long-distance running in five years now) and I felt incredibly light, I was sleeping better and my routine had fallen into a lovely rhythm.

In addition, I lost 5 kilos and 4% body fat in those 6 weeks. I touched my pre-wedding weight, a number I’d given up on. I dropped nearly two sizes, and fit into 28″ jeans — something that hasn’t happened since I was 18 or so.

And then I hit a major travelling spurt.

The thing with working with food restrictions is you can only manage it when you have full control over your meals. Which makes sticking to it outside of home nearly impossible. For the six weeks I was on the program I was extremely dedicated to making my own meals, planning outings such that I would eat before I left, and avoiding any sort of potential temptation. But that’s very hard to do when you’re travelling, especially on shoot, where we tend to eat what we get when we can get our hands on it, and when you’re staying with friends you don’t want to impose these rules on.

What’s more, I was on the road for nearly three weeks, and that’s when I hit the low. I guess after the high I was on — looking and feeling the leanest I have ever been — it had to happen at least once before the year ends. It started with all the travel in September and October. Skipped workouts, holiday feels and three weeks of living in hotels and subsisting on hotel food meant eating a crap ton of all that I’d successfully trimmed from my daily intake.

The other bitter truth about any fitness effort is that it takes barely any time to undo weeks and months of effort. The math is all lopsided. And so, I found myself at the beginning of December, staring at signs of swinging right back to where I was before I made all this phenomenal change.

Exasperation met frustration when winter hit and waking up in the morning to get to the gym became a Herculean task. Of course, I turned to emotional eating. Dessert every other day, sugary tea, alcohol more often than I cared for, lots of unhealthy carbs and erratic meal timings, with lots of frequent missed work outs.

cake

It’s all related, in my case. The worse my eating gets the harder going to the gym gets. The worse I’m feeling in my head, the harder it is to get myself back to any sort of routine. Conversely, getting back to routine, and fitting in a strict fitness regimen is a sure-shot way for me to normalise and feel grounded again. The absence of it shows on everything from my skin to the way my pants fit to my energy levels and moods through the day.

And then there’s the second life-changing part of this experience. At the start of last year, I had touched an all time high as far as body positivity goes too. I never used to talk numbers or weight to begin with. My focus has always been health, strength and looking as fitness an exercise as a key tool in maintaining overall well being. I even remember telling P that something had switched in my head and I had entirely stopped worrying or thinking about that nagging belly roll that I was so desperate to get rid of. It was like suddenly I was more okay with me just the way I was, enjoying exercising for the energy it brought to my life, and eating healthy just the way I was. So, I’m not sure what triggered this sudden need for a goal, a number to hit. Didn’t help that the phenomenal and very, very obvious results (I’m talking pants dropping off my waist in mere weeks of changing my eating) really pushed me to keep going. When I fell off the bandwagon, I noticed that my exasperation was more with the way I looked and how my clothes fit, rather than just hitting the gym because it’s good for me, again.

This is really problematic for me. Because it took a lot of work to ditch the pursuit of slimness in favour of the pursuit of strength.

Not to discount any of the amazing health benefits eating better has given me — I’ve never looked at and consciously understood what my body can deal with, or bothered to eat in a way that facilitates what I want my body to do — but somewhere the pursuit of a random goal, pushed me over the edge and made me a bit size and shape obsessed.

I was quick to acknowledge it, and to realise what parts of this don’t fit with my personal goals or my personality (realistically acknowledging what I am and am not inherently not capable of). In an attempt to let it pass without being too hard on myself, I let it go and went a little easy. I went back to regular eating and just stuck to exercising everyday again. That’s really all it took to regain the rhythm. I found my stride in no time at all, and I was happy again, without having to worry about what I was putting in my mouth.

And then the holidays were upon us again. As of today, it’s been two weeks since I hit the gym because I’ve been away for nine out of fifteen days. Nine days of eating and drinking, no holds barred.

The plan was to resume some manageable, more realistic form of the fitness plan in January. But there is some part of this tussle I am still working through. I feel myself torn and not yet at peace with where I am. I’m questioning why some part of me chased after a number and got so drawn and consumed in the chase. If I wasn’t “big” to begin with, why did shrinking feel so good? What is big anyway? I’m asking myself what I am really after.

The difficult conclusion I’ve come to is that while I gained a tremendous amount of awareness about food science and eating right, the six week plan definitely put me way back as far as body positivity goes. This is not sitting well with me right now. I want to find a balance that satisfies my mind and body as much as it does my need to be fit — and I’m reworking what this fitness means to me. I want to be in a place where fitness doesn’t come at the cost of feeling positive and good about my body.

So, it’s meant asking myself what really am I after? Why is it this important? Is there something more to this than I care to admit or even be aware of?

I wasn’t kidding when I said this has been a year of incredible shedding. I shed a lot of kilos and body fat — duh — but I also shed a lot more. My preconceived notions I had about how I’d never be able to give up rice or sugar, for one. My ability to forget everything and eat what I want, when I want, convinced I’d burn it off when I hit the gym again. But I’ve also shed some of the comfort I had developed with my body, and the focus on making it work and respecting it for all it does for me, that I had so carefully inculcated in the last couple of years.

This year, I want to go back a bit and regain some balance. And that’s no piece of cake.

One year ago: 2016
Two years ago: Day 5: In-Bloom

Day 1: Onwards and upwards

In the new year, I wish for more honesty. Of and with myself, with people around and who matter to me, and of the relationships I choose to keep.

I wish for more vulnerability to peel back the layers, strength to recognise and accept whatever I find beneath and creativity in dealing with where to go from there.

I wish to be better and more on-the-ball with my work. To be able to deliver my promises, on time. I’m aware that this means I will have to actually give some fucks about deadlines again.

I wish to come back smoothly, but effectively, from yet another hiatus. I want to crack as many pitches as I can, with less heartache and more accuracy. I want to deliver better first drafts and turn them around quicker than Ive done in 2017. Again, start giving a fuck about my work.

I wish that VC and I move ahead in our business plans with alacrity and focus. So we can fulfil the multiple small dreams we’ve nursed over the past twelve months. But if you’re a rich person looking to adopt a young and capable couple with a head full of dreams, you can reach out to me via the contact form.

I wish for not abundance in numbers as far as friends and people that matter go. But I really desperately wish for the courage to break old patterns that keep me from digging deeper and giving (and receiving) a higher level of kinship from each of these. I’ve come to accept that the people conundrum is a recurring cycle in my life so if I am going to go through it time and time again, I want to aim to have better experiences with each round!

I wish for simplicity. In the smallness of my day to day life as much as in the bigness of the things I chase. Let things be simple, not easy. Basically talk less, starve distractions, feed focus and do more. (Hah!)

I wish for a little more travel. Not just holidays, but chances and ways to experience life outside of the set patterns that we know and exist in. For this, I’ll have to shed a little bit more of my fear of uncertainty and learn to deal with the cold better!

I wish for just a little bit more discipline. so I can inculcate some of the daily habits I want to, this year.

May your year be filled with opportunities to do over all that you missed doing last year. May your bellies and hearts be full. May you always have enough of all that you desire. May your work be satisfying, even when it is challenging, may you be surrounded by people who bring out the best in you, and may you find a balance that lets you enjoy them both equally.

I hope the idea of 2018 and yet another fresh start is brimming with potential and optimism and fills you with as much sense of promise and is has, for me.

Two years ago: Day 1: Move more

Crossing over

It’s looking-back time, I know. But I find myself only filled with wishes for the year ahead. I ended 2016 with a strong burning need to find my place — physically speaking — as I dealt with the growing certainty that it was not Goa. but I had no idea how that search had little to do with location or city or anyplace. And everything to do with looking within.

I moved cities, back to Bangalore, a move I didn’t imagine possible even ten to fifteen days before we took the decision. And it was merely the start of a series of unexpected, but so necessary, changes that would surprise and challenge me in equal measure.

2017 has been one heck of a year and the thread unifying it all would have to be one of transition and transformation. It’s been a time of letting go of the reins in order to figure out a new way ahead. In a strange space of being back on familiar ground, yet recognising so little of the city I once called home, I found fertile testing ground to stretch my ability to allow change, move with it and realise I actually enjoy it. Physically, it took wrenching myself out of the comfort zone to find myself again.

How odd that it took cutting the roots off to find belonging. It’s been a year of discovering that belonging and my place. In family, in work, in friends and camaraderie, in connections, in extended family, in my marriage, and most of all, within myself. It’s been a year of peeling back a few more layers and getting closer to what’s at the core. A year of understanding, with extreme clarity, how necessary it is to be so wholly comfortable in my place and in my skin, in order to belong to each of the systems that I do, need and want.

This will always be the year that I realised with astounding certainty how much I need and love my family. I’m closing the year rich with memories and experiences of time spent deeply engaged with my parents, amazing times with my sister (who fortuitously moved back home around the same time that I did), VC — my truth-teller and fellow braver-of-change, and a handful of friends who have walked along with me as I navigated the shortest. I feel so much gratitude for the gift that was 2017. Even with all its oddballs and challenges it was a gift to realise and claim a whole new set of values to go from here on.

For all my life I have craved stability, consistency and the safety of roots. This year I let that need go and turned my life around in the most significant way possible. The truth is, I have seen how different the entire year turned out to be, as a result of it. I took a wild chance, shut my eyes and jumped with little idea of what was waiting for me. I’m happy with how taking this chance has turned out. Because it turned out that at the bottom of that jump, I had an army of support waiting to hold and bolster me. Giving me a huge step up even as. Picked myself up with okay feet and wobbly knees. It’s been an incredible year of vulnerability that tested my resilience, but gave me surprising revelations and staggering opportunity for personal growth. And it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t changed certain fundamental truths and values I held to be mine.

I’ve seen as much loss as I have, gain, this year. People have come and gone. Work has transformed. My sense of home currently lies in shambles (and it’s okay). Like I said before, it’s been an incredible year of shedding. But all the room created by it has only opened me up that much more for what’s to come.

I’ve already signed myself up for another year along this path. To discovering more. To talking less and doing more. To belonging more and more to myself.

Same time, last year: Day 366: December