Day 138: Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

On staying present in my emotional reality*

I’m sitting here pondering about time again. How it has this uncanny, tricky, devious way of slowing down just so, just when I need it, and picking up pace, just as is needed. Never really in my control, but always making me conscious and aware of that delicate way in which it passes, just skimming by, barely touching.

This month is panning out with a seesaw of days that rush by, leaving me breathless, my mind whizzing, but with a fair number of days that have begun with something strange and new for me — sloth, and an inability to get up and get going. This is completely new ground for me. And entirely alien feeling, this one, of not being a morning person. I’m a bit flummoxed at what is at play here.

Part of it could be residual effects of the workshop in Goa — something major has shifted, though I’m not exactly sure what!) and some changes are afoot, bubbling beneath the surface. I can feel it, and it’s giving me the butterflies in my stomach in anticipation, except I know not for what I wait, or what is to come.

Outwardly, it is playing out a bit like ennui, only on the days time hangs, when the slowness of it all becomes obvious. Meanwhile the churn continues just below the surface, out of sight. But it isn’t quite ennui in that there is no dissatisfaction at the heart of it. In fact there is that anticipation growing under cover, like a pupa sheltering what’s inside it from the world. It feels like what will emerge will be entirely new, unexpected, bright and exciting, in a way that the present state (pupa!) refuses to reveal.

Inwardly, there is a feeling of unsettledness. Something is astir. Call it a silent churn, the gentlest movement that is causing no major upheaval. Yet, is apparent in that slow whirring, low-hum, shape-shifting sort of way.

I’m taking it one day at a time. Observing the little changes — noticing which ones make me smile, which ones leave me a bit off-centre and grappling with finding my space again. I’ve been having broken sleep, which has also contributed to waking up not feeling entirely rested. There has also been a lot of thoughts buzzing, resulting in conversations and reading. But my mind refuses to be held by much. Not much work has happened, or much reading. I’m being awfully forgetful and scattered on some days. And all of it is feeling like this isn not quite me. Much of this has surfaced post-Goa. So, I am just letting it pass.

I think I am dealing with these times of transition much better than ever before. I am learning to have the patience, to dial in to the subtle shifts that happen in quiet moments that usually go unnoticed. I feel more persistent about tiding the low, as much as I do about riding the highs. And I feel overall more excited about what is to come, even as these moments of being present sometimes leave me exhausted.

More and more I’m finding not just the benefit, to use a staid, dull and clinical word, in staying, but also the joy in the process of staying.

Stay until the end, and there will inevitably be a beginning. Stay to begin a new, and lead myself to the inevitable end. Rinse, repeat. It is becoming the only way for me to be in the present, for as many moments as possible. How else can I know, watch, see, and feel? How else can I live through this?

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done…” She was always asking, “what’s next?” [laughs]  But as soon as we’re expecting the next moment to give us what this one is missing, life becomes this game of next, and what’s the final destination? It’s death.*

This is where the dance of time comes in to play. In every little moment throbbing to life right before my eyes. Time, grabbing my hand and taking me along some times, dulling me into a lull some times, caressing me gently as it brushes by, or turning things into a tizzy as it rushes by.

I stay. Because I’ve learned that everything reveals itself much better, much clearer and much fuller, when I stay.

*If you’re interested, Maria Popova has some incredibly touching, thought-provoking thoughts on staying present and grounded “in one’s emotional reality”, that have spoken to me in times when the loud and often harsh voices that dictate the shoulds and musts often out-shout the far quieter voice that struggles to make itself heard. And in times like this, when my capacity to stay is being stretched to the max.

Two years ago: Day 138: Flame of the forest

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Day 136: Waiting here to find the sign, that I should take it slow

One of the expected side effects of growing self-awareness is how clear my own bullshit becomes, and despite a struggle how much quicker I am to call bullshit on some of my behaviour, patterns and tendencies.

But nobody told me it was going to also become easier to notice other peoples’ bullshit just as easily too. It often lands me in a quandary, especially with friends whom I feel I owe honesty. Do I speak up? How much should I say? And how do I say this without sounding self-important and risking trivialising the issue?

I am also realising that mostly, this self-awareness is a privilege and a gift. One that I must handle with care. I’m learning every day, to separate noticing bullshit from spilling over into judge-y tendencies that tend to go into building entire stories in my head. I slip up sometimes, but I’m getting better at noticing it when it happens, and nipping it in the bud.

On the flip side, it doesn’t make the awareness go away. For eg: when a good friend is being a jerk, or being silly, or maybe just floundering in a way that you can help fix, it’s hard not to notice. And so often, I find myself having witness a peculiar behaviour, and sometime siting with the knowledge of where it may be coming from. But more and more, I keep myself from jumping to provide an opinion or solution. I’m trying to exercise restraint more often than not, because every body has their own journey of self-realisation to make.

In a seemingly insignificant conversation this week, I noticed two things:

  • My absolute refusal to get dragged into drama that is fundamentally not mine, or drama where none is needed, has peaked.
  • Instead of flapping out polite, rational, “correct” responses, I actively take some time out to think about what is happening and how it is making me feel, before I respond.
  • Consequently, my responses are clearer. Firm, but articulate. Calling bullshit, but kindly.

I patted myself on my back for my proportionate and precise responses that keep the drama at bay, and the conversation short. N said something yesterday that really resonated with me: it’s a step up to be able to talk about things that I’d otherwise just stew about in private, allowing it to cripple and cramp me along the way. It’s nice to keep working out the kinks. And sometimes seeing proof that whatever’s at work, is working.

Day 109: The times they are a-changing

There’s something that has been swimming around in my brain for a long time now. and I’ve talked about it sporadically here, here, here and here. I just sent out a newsletter putting together some bits of these posts, and more thoughts that I’ve been able to dwell on, now that I’ve had some time to mull over it all.

There’s still so much more to be said where this came from, and maybe I’ll get down to it some day. But for now, here’s the newsletter that just went out.

If you’d like to subscribe to it, please head here:  https://tinyletter.com/HaathiTime/

***

I don’t know when the appropriate response to “How are you?” has switched to “So busy!” from the good old “I’m fine/Just so-so/Doing good, thank you!” (or whatever other version of this you might prefer), but of late, I find myself bored with this turn of conversation.

Like all epiphanies, the startling truth usually sparks only when it hits so close to home that there’s no looking away from it. This one was no different. It was some weeks ago, when I uttered the words “I don’t know if I’m going or coming” with extreme discomfort, that I realised this is just the sort of feeling I have carefully steered myself away from these past months. And yet somehow the tyranny of busy had briefly re-entered my life.

This is a syndrome — this addiction to busyness — afflicting us all. I do find it is far more pronounced and in-my-face in Bangalore, than I did in Goa. Is this a big city thing? Or does talking about how busy we are make us feel purposeful/productive/like our lives have meaning?

It’s true, work has been a little manic over the last month. But the welcome change has been how much my inner-self steadfastly resists getting caught in the undertow of that mania. To be able to ride the highs, give myself wholly to work when it demands it, but also being conscious of how much, and stopping just short of being completely consumed in what inevitably feels like a mindless chaos, is the joy I strive for.

The joy is in being mindful and present. And exercising that ability to make that choice as many times, and as often as possible. Busy times have a place, I know, but I’m becoming acutely aware of the price I pay every time I hit a particularly busy patch. I say price because I in 8/10 conversations about busyness, I sense that hint of regret, frustration and tussle at not having as much time on hand, as we’d like. Why is that delicate, precarious balance constantly just out of reach?

The only way I am able to have some handle on it has come down to being vigilant, aware and very, very deliberate about what I’m doing, and why. By consistently and tediously questioning my motivations, I’ve found the answers, though sometimes difficult to accept and digest, have freed up not just time and space, but a lot of wrongly held ideas in my mind.

The notion of extreme productivity to mark my days, for example. It left little room for rest and recharging my batteries, which is lethal for a creative person. Or the idea that our dreams and desires can only be fuelled by bone-breaking hard work. It’s nonsense. If the hard work comes at the cost of my sanity, health an joy, and I can get help to achieve those same dreams instead, I’ll take it. It’s been immensely freeing to shed the unnecessary glory attached working hard, or my own twisted ideas of self-worth that were entangled with ambition, ability to earn money and be “independent”. Most of this, when I began to inspect it closely, I’ve appropriated from external sources — whether my middle-class upbringing and values, my parents as role models, cultural messages that are constantly screaming hashtags and labels dictating what kind of women we ought to be. And in the bargain, I’d moved so far away from listening to the messages my own inner-self was giving me time and time again.

So now, when things get uncontrollably busy, the first step I take is to realistically, and (brutally)honestly examine my motivation — the whys behind all the actions/tasks that fill up my days and bring in The Busy. Step two is to then drastically realign and cull that accumulation of to-dos, making time for that which I most want to do (and this, after I’m convinced about why).

That’s it. There is no step three.

The whys are crucial for me. And the more I lean in to them, the more I find I am able to simplify my life, not just in terms of resisting spreading myself too thin, but getting to the heart of what it is I really, really want and chasing only that which uplifts me and brings me joy, the more I realise that life slows down.

I’ve had it all wrong all this while.

For a greater part of my adulthood, I’ve chased the “ideal” life based on what I want — money, travel, a nice home, lots of books, the flexibility to spend my money whenever/wherever I want to. But this has really gotten me nowhere. And in fact left me exhausted, physically and emotionally, and with frequent periods of feeling scarcity and inadequacy.

More and more, I find turning in and allowing myself to be guided by what I want to feel — secure, alive, content, healthy, at peace — brings me far more joy. Joy that lingers over weeks and months, rather than rushes in and out like a gale storm. It comes in sprinkles and healthy doses, a little bit everyday, goes a long, long way. It brings an ease, an un-rushed energy with it. And since it isn’t tied to stuff, it stays.

The more I allow myself to be guided by what I feel, I find myself making choices that feel like serendipity and I find myself in situations that seem like they found me, rather than the other way around. Conversely, I find myself moving away from situations that go against the grain of this truth that is fast becoming a cornerstone in the way I approach life itself.

It takes little or no time at all, to tune out of conversations revolving around The Busy, because personally, I am finally, actively moving towards that elusive balanceI don’t mean “work-life balance” because the term is too tied to tangible things, and is woefully inadequate.

My life today is quite unlike it has ever been for me. I am aware of and very grateful for the incredible privilege that it is, to take things slow and at my own pace, having complete faith and trust in knowing that I am looked after and well provided for. Where all my needs are met with barely any room for inadequacy. I’m fortunate to finally be in a place where I can actively resist the The Busy for the most part.

However, I don’t talk often enough about the journey to getting here. Nor nearly enough about the fact that this is a choice I make every single day. That it is not without it’s moments of doubt and worry. That this commitment has become a way of life. And a large part of the reason I cannot give in to being Busy anymore is because it will mean letting that commitment go. Leaving me with not having enough time to notice the signs, take the cues, examine my motivations and steer myself forward for the right reasons (for me). And the price to pay for that, is just too goddamned high.

It’s been a long and bumpy road (and maybe that’s the stuff of several other posts) to really accepting deep in my bones and to the depths of my very soul, that my worth is not tied to how much I work or how much I earn, rather how I feel when I do the things I do to work or make money. I resist The Busy because I finally accept how wonderful it is to take help, be looked after, and choose to build a life in connection and sync with the forces that work to make things happen for me.

Two years ago: Day 109: Essay aftermath

Day 106: Remind yourself: nobody built like you

For two weeks now, I’ve been back at the gym. I hesitate to say I’ve bounced back. Because, I haven’t. I’ve allowed myself to ease back into it. Pushing myself just enough to get going on most days, yet giving in to sleeping in or taking a rest day when I’m sore, lazy or just plain not up to it.

I’m making this attempt to take the focus off changing my body, and putting it instead on changing how I think and feel about it. So far, so good.

Reading Roxane Gay’s Hunger really hit very very close to home. The book couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. As a predominantly thin (and I cringe to even use these words anymore, so please take this as a mere descriptor and nothing else) person who has had the privilege of consistently pursuing an above-average fitness regimen for the greater part of the last fifteen years, reading the book made me realise how immensely superficial and ridiculous the rather unconscious shift in my focus has been this past year. I became acutely aware of my privilege, not just in what I am able to do to my body, but the sheer number of things I get away with because of my size and physical stature. It made me much more aware of what “big” people have to deal with, and how incredibly fortunate I am to have none of those issues. Consequently, it put all my fitness “concerns” into perspective, and really made most of them seem so ridiculous.

But all of this has got me thinking a lot about where the pursuit of feeling good about myself (as I am, as things stand) blurs into self-love. Doesn’t self-acceptance inherently come with a requisite amount of vanity? Doesn’t self-confidence dictate that I feel really happy, fulfilled and wonderful about myself more times than not?

I’m trying more and more to drop my disdain around vanity (mine or others’) and instead recognise where it is coming from. Because a healthy level of self-acceptance requires a healthy amount of vanity. A comfort with oneself, thinking and believing that I’m absolutely gorgeous just the way I am.

And so, if I was working desperately hard to alter parts of my physical self to meet some arbitrary standards (mostly self-created, but largely influenced by culture), under the pretext of loving my body and wanting to make it stronger, better, faster, how much of that love is real at all?

It has been interesting to admit how despite feeling the best I have physically (when I was on the food plan and working out harder than I have in years), my motivation was fuelled by a very distinct dissatisfaction. With my shape, my size, my ability. It’s like nothing I had achieved was enough. If I’d come this far, I must go farther, was the predominant motivation.

Unlike all the years before, when I have mostly felt gorgeous, beautiful, amazing, fit, fabulous, fine, and strong, despite being “larger” than the size I hit last year.

I see now, with utmost clarity and honesty that last year, I clearly traded all the self-love and self-acceptance I had garnered and nurtured, for a purely vanity-fuelled attempt at fitness.

And thankfully, I failed so miserably I had to wake up and bring myself back on track.

I could have gone on, not eating carbs, not touching sugar, and working hard at the gym. I probably would have even enjoyed the feeling of becoming fitter, faster and stronger. But since there’s no escaping how what’s on the inside dictates the changes on the outside, inevitably, I had to give in to my changing belief that being “strong” (literally and figuratively) was just overrated.

What I needed the most was to ditch the pursuit of being strong, and turn instead to learn to be soft. Vulnerable. It has meant allowing myself to accept my failures, recognise what I can, cannot and will not do. It has meant being a lot more truthful to myself, to tune in to my inner voice and listen more carefully, rather than shut it down and overpower it with an external message. It has meant aligning what is going on on the inside, with every single action on the outside.

Gradually, I’m coming closer to accepting that there needn’t be any kind of pursuit at all. I don’t want to lift more, feel stronger, do pull-ups or any of that. I don’t want to work towards any of it. I want to just work out because it keeps me active and feeling healthy.

I am okay.

And it is okay to be just okay. My body is worth celebrating most days. And there will be days when it disappoints me or triggers massive self-loathing. Some days I feel frustrated that a certain pair of pants will probably never fit. Some days I’ll delight in all the other kinds of clothes I confidently wear.

That is okay too.

Self love and vanity will co-exist. And hopefully they will bloom and grow into two well-grounded trees that will mingle, intertwine and co-exist.

A few years ago I loved my body hard enough to make it do things that challenged it. Now, I love it enough to just let it be.

I am okay.

This needn’t be a downward spiral or an uphill climb. Today, this is just a beautiful path, along this journey I am on.

Things have changed, it happens.

And I am okay now.

Two years ago: Day 106: Satisfaction

Day 97: Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

I’m thankful for having been introduced to the idea of being in agreement with the diverse, imperfectly-perfect, non-uniform, never-in-our-control, queer ways in while life sometimes unfolds.

I’m thankful for how much room for acceptance, how much courage to change my mind it has allowed. And I’m thankful for how much unexpected warmth and camaraderie that has opened up for me.

I’m grateful for the opportunity for a do-over, to be able to see things in a new light, and to allow this considerable opening of my very own narrow mind.

Two years ago: Day 97: Maybe I’m finally making my peace with being mediocre

Day 96: Where the cares of the day seem to slowly fade away

I started writing a post about the syndrome of busyness, and how pronounced and in-my-face I find it is, in Bangalore, but there’s way too many thoughts jostling for space in my head, so I decided to let it simmer for a bit.

I feel especially aware and a little sensitive to the busyness trap, because I find myself finally moving towards an actual balance in this area of my life. And I don’t mean “work-life balance” because in my current context the term is severely inadequate.

The more I simplify my life, not just in terms of resisting spreading myself too thin, but getting to the heart of what it is I really, really want and which of those things brings me joy, the more I slow down and let things happen, I see how this balance is possible, and I realise why it has eluded me all these years. And I understand why conversations around how busy we are are becoming increasingly tedious and downright boring.

Is it a big city thing? Or do people actually just love to talk about what’s keeping them busy?

I don’t know when “So busy!” became the appropriate response to the good old “How are you?” but I find myself glazing over and tuning out the minute that a conversation veers in this direction.

Maintaining this balance is an ongoing effort in my life but one that I am only now paying conscious attention to, only because I’ve tasted the joy that comes from making room for that play, when Im not consumed by “work.”

But even that isn’t a fully internalised habit. I struggle to remember it at all times. I often forget to be thankful for the quiet, and in turn don’t notice all the good things that come from it. Some weeks ago my aunt said something to me, when I ranted to her about feeling lazy and unworthy just because I wasn’t able to crack the gym jinx and get my ass going already. She said:

These are necessary autumns of our lives.

It’s an idea that immediately stuck in my head. Autumn: a time of pause, regeration, when timecycles close as we inch towards new beginnings. It’s a natural slowing of energy, in anticipation of fresh starts, new canvasses.

It’s exactly the shift that I have been slowly internalising, what I have been indulging in and making conscious efforts to allow it to slip into every area of my life. Taking time off from all that I think I should be doing and allowing myself that incredible privilege of doing what I want to do and bringing time, attention and energy to the things that I know will actually fuel joy. It’s not in the money I make, the meals I eat out, the clothes I buy, the holidays I take. Yes all of that is essential, desirable and awesome but it isn’t the goal. They’re mere milestones along the way.

This realisation, about making room for the autumn, sitting with the quiet, sometimes the discomfort, accepting the uncertainty, loops back to several disconnected threads that have been weaving an all new outlook to life.

There’s no running away from finally understanding that Ive had it all wrong all this while. So I’m slowly but surely trying to cultivate the patience to correct this. It has meant giving myself these moments (frequent, long, unplanned) of pause. So crucial to having those moments of clarity which somehow only come in the silences in between. And so I must make space for the autumns. To rest, to re-worked, re-observe, re-grow.

I noticed today, driving to my meeting, that just as quickly as spring had sprung last month, the seasons have turned. And like in nature, with the trees, the wind, the clouds and the birds and the bees, that have set periods of rest, when the action is done. Just like there is a time for waiting and watching, when we’ve acted, sowed the seeds, set the ball in motion. Just like there is time for recharging energy, when we’ve spent it all, there is a need for set periods of regeneration. To breathe in a fresh breath of air. To sit still. To wait. And let nature take it’s course and do it’s thing.

Two years ago: Day 96: Busy bee day

Day 93: Out here without a shield

The last couple of weeks have been such an emotional rollercoaster, reminding me time and again, that in life, there is a place for the entire gamut of emotions. That even the pursuit of happiness brings with it a range of events that spark a range of emotions. And within them, a range of lessons waiting to be unwrapped.

The only way to get in on those hidden lessons it seems, is to allow myself to feel everything as fully as I possibly can. And for some reason, every single day in the last two weeks has given me at least one event that drove this point home. It started with my course, where every single day reinforced an aspect of life seen through the lens of accepting, facing and owning it’s consequences and embracing the lessons within. From acceptance, to boundaries, to the twisted unpleasant nature our lives sometimes take, to fear, to guilt, denial and giving an receiving love and support. There is no turning away from some truths when they arrive, knocking at my doorstep, in all their glory.

Then there were three days of endless free-wheeling conversations with K and D that further bubbled up so many of the feelings triggered over the three days in class.

Then there was a week of watching Niyu as she fell ill, dipped to a scary low, got taken to hospital and then nursed back. Even as she convalesces at home right now, I find myself thinking back to how family rallies together, how these situations bring us together and how much joy and togetherness there is to be found even in difficulty.

I’ve got the message. Loud and clear. This — the process of self discovery, mindfulness, living in the preset moment, call it what you will — isn’t about uniform happiness, or seeking joy alone. The joy is in the process, perhaps. But the process itself is punctuated with all kinds of loss. In these last few weeks alone I have been forced to face some of these losses — the loss of familiarity, of security in well-worn habits, of friendship as I once knew it. But perhaps, for the first time in forever, I found myself not phased or rattled when that realisation hit. Instead, I’ve found a new and comforting understanding that I’m still fumbling my way around, feeling in the dark and trying to make sense of.

Sometimes there is loss of the intangible kind — loss of a sense of self, of confidence in a strong aspect of my identity, of comfort in holding some things true only to have them turned around, or of control when change comes in big gusts and storms. Sometimes, though, when it feels like I’ve hit an insurmountable loss, I wait it out and realise that it is actually just a minor iteration — an opportunity to move one level up, rework the old and find a new normal.

I’m getting comfortable in that space in between the old and the new.

Loss is a crucial, and essential, part of making that journey and travelling that space in between. Riding close on the heels of loss, is fear. Fear of uncertainty, of the new, of the unfamiliar, of losing control, of breaking new ground. And of actually being better.

My coping mechanism when dealing with fear has always been to try and control it, in an attempt to bring some order to the chaos that change brings. It’s my way of regaining certainty. But, ever since I’ve tasted the sweet joy of approaching the chaos by allowing myself to be surprised, loosening my grip and fully feeling the fear, the disappointment and sadness (or whatever else that may ensue) that surfaces, I find myself staring at what lies beyond.

The good news, I’m happy to share is that the fear abates. Almost immediately. The fear that something’s changed, that I’ll have to inevitably face loss, that I will have to start over, that I am somehow smaller/lesser than the person I was before — it all just fades away when I commit myself to feeling through it rather than building a wall around myself to protect myself from it. Fear is reduces to a mere list of outcomes.

The even better news is that this has been the key to turning the corner — the inflection point — of fear. Of crossing over from just pure, crippling emotion to the lesson that lies in the light, just beyond.

I’ve said this before, the process of letting of of that which no longer serves me is essential to the process of rediscovery. Loss is important. But I realise now that so is fear, disappointment, rage, grief, and sadness and everything else that rides on that loss. Because if recent experience is anything to go by, when  I make the effort to stay with those uncomfortable feelings, it invariably affects me in deep sort of way. That is when I know that the loss means something, and I have always come out a better person for it.

The best news of all has been learning that loss is not just crucial, it is inevitable once you commit yourself to turning inwards. Yes, it is scary. Yes it gets messy as fuck, sometimes. But it’s the only way that I have been able to get closer to a desired level of vulnerability, empathy and acceptance. It’s the only way to trust that my emotions will show me the way.

Day 85: Just go ahead, let your hair down

This is the story of my body

Last month, on a particularly sunny, lazy Sunday I took my FitBit off. And then, I never put it back on again.

I can’t believe I’m the kind of person who feels compelled to know how many footsteps I’ve walked, I thought.

It seemed like a small move, taking off my fitness band/watch/accessory without which my wrist had begun to feel a little incomplete. But, the penny had dropped.

This shift has been a long time coming. If you’ve been reading the blog since the start of the year, you probably already know I’ve acknowledged the damage getting on a food plan did to me, and more recently that I have been fairly troubled by my own unwillingness to hit the gym. I’ve watched myself slip off the bandwagon. Some days I’ve been tricked by my own devious mind into mistaking a sudden jolt of motivation to be the start of a swift slide back to the way things were, but no. This has not happened. My fitness habit, as I know it, has broken. And what I have watched with equal parts growing alarm, as well as a heart swelling with pride, my new found ability to let it go.

But the journey has not been smooth sailing, and not without its moments of doubt, shame, self-hate and deep sadness. It has taken me over two months to get down to writing about it.

You see, that in itself was my first clue – why is it suddenly so hard to write/talk about fitness? It’s one of my things. It’s what I do. I’m that person my friends call a human rubberband. I’m the one challenging members of my extended family to check out my flexed biceps. I once Instagrammed myself doing a handstand. I love lifting weights, watching my muscles grow and take shape. I love how powerful and strong that makes me feel. So why then, was I suddenly shy, ashamed and afraid to talk about what is going on with me?

I’ve realised only very recently that beyond the difficulty in trying to understand why I am no longer interested to bounce out of bed every morning and hit the gym, has been the difficulty in accepting that this very fundamental and crucial aspect of who I am is likely fading away.

I can’t believe I’m the kind of person who needs to see six green ticks per week on my FitBit workout calendar, to feel accomplished, I thought.

And yet, the struggle was real. Even as I denounced the obsession and promised to commit myself to a more relaxed, non-outcome oriented fitness practice, I have had moments of resisting my own good intentions.

This just can’t be. This is me, my body, and it jollywell do as I say. 

Of late though, I am find myself looking just a little bit deeper, at everything. Which is why a broken gym habit, couldn’t be just that. I had to look deeper to realise the roots of some body-shaming, some unhealthy obsession, and a whole lot of unrealistic expectations and standards that I was unconsciously holding myself to. One the one hand, it’s a crucial exercise in re-learning moderation habit formation and maintenance. But, within me, this has been yet another exercise of self-acceptance. Of acknowledging the shame and hate that I’ve inflicted on myself, under the garb of fitness and health.

The thing is, I’d come such a long way from the pursuit of slimness, to valuing strength, stamina and good health. But I realised, with a lot of disappointment and shame, that whatever it is I tried to do with the food plan I got on, had really undone all of it, and put me in a very vulnerable headspace. That’s really all it took to slip, to lose focus and go down a road that slowly ate away at a very crucial part of me — my sense of positivity and confidence with my body just the way it was.

Today, I look at my body as it slowly regains all that it has lost in the last six months, and I feel a rush of emotions — defeat and loathing amongst other unsavoury things. But when I stay with the discomfort, and I really force myself to look beyond my dimpled hips, the food baby in my lower belly, the slight floppiness that’s returned to my upper-arms, I see it for what it really is – an amazing machine of flesh, bones, cells and blood. I see a body that has done some really amazing things, from giving me a childhood filled with hyperactive play, the ability to enjoy fitness so early in life, discover and love kickboxing, attempt cartwheels once every year on my birthday, cycle like a monster, trek, hike, drive, deal with every stress I throw it’s way, quietly digest all the food I put into it, healed from countless illnesses, silently sewn back numerous wounds.

This is my body.

It contains who I am. And aside from being the amazing machine it is, it generates literally everything that I feel – whether it’s a gut feeling about a decision, the shivers when a song I love comes on, the crippling waves of nostalgia for an aching memory, the knot in my stomach when I’m scared, or the blooming overpowering love for my husband, reverence and admiration for my parents – you name it and there’s a feeling I can pin-point to a part of my body.

This is my body. The space that creates my energy, protects my soul and gently coaxes my spirit in the direction it needs to go.

This is that body. That holds my spirit so safely in its cocoon. And sometimes, when it’s time for spirit to grow, spread it’s arms out and reach out higher than it has ever been, it absolutely cannot be contained in 28” jeans. Or the idea that I must be a certain body-type: muscular and strong, and just the right amount of curvy. Or a mathematical calculation that dictates an optimum size.

Abundance needs space. Growth takes up space. And you know what else? It requires a helluva lot of energy and focus. So when I took the FitBit off, I was really just acknowledging that right now is not the time to focus on the numbers, to hold myself to a routine that has ceased to make sense, and to be fixed to an idea of myself that is clearly making way for something bigger.

More than anything, this has been a time of rest for my body. It was the break I needed, and never listened enough to provide. But, our bodies know and they have the beautiful ability to simultaneously keep up with our unrealistic motions and doings while also relentlessly pushing us to see the signs, over and over again.

Until we eventually do.

It’s been difficult coming to terms with this change, because like with any other transformation, it’s hard to fight the feeling that this is somehow just another way of letting myself down. Every morning, when I wake up on time and still choose to go back to sleep because the gym isn’t in the least bit inviting anymore, I do wonder if this is really who I am. It feels surreal, unfamiliar, unsettling. So distinctly uncharacteristic.

But that uncomfortable space is the blinding spot of change. It’s where little makes sense and no logic applies. It’s the frightening moment when pupa opens up and lets the light in. And the only thing to do is to be kinder and gentler, and just a little more welcoming of things to come.

At the start of the year, I thought had a body-image fight on my hands. But yesterday, I realised that this is about so much more than accepting the shape, size, colour and contours of my body. It’s about stepping out into the light, graciously accepting this invitation to a deeper understanding of who I am. It’s maddening, frightening, exciting and anxiety-giving all at once. But more and more, I find myself wondering what if I actually like it there?

What if?

***

This was a newsletter I sent last week. If you like what you see (and don’t already get enough of me on here – hah!) here’s where you can subscribe.

I realised that many of you have already subscribed, but don’t open newsletters — whats up with that, ya’ll? If for some reason the newsletter is landing in junk/spam, maybe just give it a check and direct it to your inbox — where you can open them?

Two years ago: Day 85: Piece of peace

Day 72: We form our own boundaries

The very first time I realised I had an issue with setting boundaries was when I realised just how bad my inability to say no was. It had caused all the classic signs of emotional fatigue and unhealthy relationships many, many times over. I’ve gone through most of my life trying to be “good” — which is to say do what makes sense, what’s safe, try and disappoint nobody. Add to it the do-it-all disease most women are ingrained with. It’s all the things we’re taught. So when the new-fangled adulthood wisdom dawned, and I realised self-love, self-care and self-esteem had everything to do with healthy boundaries and saying no, I was all torn up.

It’s not easy to unlearn that compulsive need to always do the best you can for people you love. But it’s not hard to notice that there eventually comes a point when that leaves you exhausted and depleted. A boundaryless existence is not only unhealthy, it’s unsustainable. What’s worse, it erodes the good effects of all the love, care, generosity and authenticity you might actually be attempting to bring into your life.

I’ve come a long way from where I used to be. Small steps, big developments, and there’s still so much more to work through in this respect. One of the biggest breakthroughs for me was acknowledging that if I find myself at the receiving end of behaviour that I classify as overstepping, encroaching in my space, asking for too much of me, exhausting expectations to meet up to, it is most likely because I have not set my own boundaries right.

I have not been clear about what is okay, and what is not okay.

I have been making steady progress in this area of my life, and I know the ways in which it impacts me. But recently, an event made me sit up and realise there is still some more work to be done. So back to the drawing board, I have been very seriously reflecting upon boundaries, getting a deeper understanding by reading related writing, and generally thinking about the signs and what I might have missed reading this time around.

The other thing that keeps coming back to me, again and again is seeking connection, and how being steadfastly committed to what it is I want most from relationships actually brings more of it to me. One thing is for certain, I am far more at eace with having a few good friends, than being surrounded by a brood of people that exhaust me. With that context, here’s a few new things that I’ve realised about how crucial boundaries order to have meaningful, authentic relationships:

  • True authenticity in relationships requires honesty and vulnerability. Sometimes it means choosing honesty even in the face of potential loss — ie: the risk of losing someone I love, being rejected by someone I value, potentially disappointing those same people I care about, losing comfort and familiarity and once again braving the unknown.I know this because the relationships that allow me the space to step into that twilight zone of uncertainty, with little fear of rejection or loss are the ones I turn to time and time again.
  • Drawing boundaries is a crucial act of self-respect. I’ve got to fully reject the idea that respecting myself and valuing myself enough to want to move away from a person or situation that is exhausting me, or demanding too much for me, is somehow selfish or conceited.I have this ease with literally two people in my life right now. And I noticed it exists because they too have a healthy amount of self-respect, which means that when I retreat, draw a line, express what is okay and what is not okay by me, it is respected and accepted with an ease missing in every other relationship.
  •  At the core of every act of drawing a boundary, is a value. The act of drawing a boundary, reinforces that value. Whether it’s protecting a feeling or emotion, my energy, or a part of my body even. Different people have different values towards each of these things, and therefore different boundaries too.This learning was reaffirmed when I read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. Increasingly I find I have the highest sense of kinship with the people who value the same things as I do.
  • The way somebody is with drawing boundaries for themselves, usually says a lot about the way they are with respecting others boundaries.This has been the big one to learn this time around, given the recent event I mentioned up top. I missed or ignored all the signs that I got along the way.

But this is not to berate myself, rather to acknowledge and understand what I missed, so I can pick up on it going forward. On the other hand, the same event made me realise what I have actually gotten better at. I saw that in my ability to separate what I am responsible for, with what I am absolutely not responsible for. I can only control what I bring to the table — which in this case was honesty, even with the risk of rejection. I cannot control how the other side takes it, what they make of it and what they choose to do about it. Similarly, it is not my job to save or fix the issue at hand.

Getting into a friendship with the hope that the other party will change, and make making that change happen my mission, is a grave mistake I’ve made, failed at and learned from very early in life. I see now that it is a heavy lack of self-respect and gross muddling of boundaries that made me venture in that direction. I try and not go there again, if I can help it.

It was liberating to realise the ease and complete lack of angst in walking away from a fatiguing argument, where I’d otherwise have fallen straight into the trap of a futile cycle of reasoning, trying to have the last word (which is another classic trait of  boundarylessness, which I very much had).

The downside, and I use the word very loosely here, of being brutally honest, presenting an authentic kind of vulnerability, drawing strong boundaries often means that they will inevitably be tested again and again. And naturally, not every situation or person will pass the test.

It is a fine-tuned sense of self awareness that helps cut through the fat and get to the heart of things. Even the bits that are otherwise difficult to digest, or make me uncomfortable — like the fact that maybe someone is trampling over my boundaries because I haven’t set them clear enough to begin with. 

Coming to that place of clarity is simultaneously empowering, and lonely. Because not all the people you’re dealing with are going to get everything I do, understand it in the same way and certainly not at the same pace or time. Dissonance and a clash of wavelengths get exacerbated all the time.

For me, this meant facing my other demon — the angst about how often people leave, or I have to walk away from people. I’m still making my peace with this. I see now that this is another price to pay, for being self aware. For being a HSP. For constantly elevating my own standards. This coming and going of people has become so normal, I now no longer fall apart every time it does, because I realise the increased frequency is a direct result of how quickly things become clear. Situations where values clash, boundaries are crossed, and emotions come to the surface no longer drag out like they used to. Things are very clear, very quickly, and  the ability to decide if I must stay or walk away has become rather free of hassles.

When I think about it this way, I know I’m actually better for it. I’m moving ahead. I’m tuning into my values. I’m strengthening my boundaries. I’m working on my self-esteem.

But, this whole moving on and leaving people behind theme of my life, that I often feel sad and confused about, beat myself up about, or take to be some kind of problem or lack on my part, I now realise is just the way it is. It’s a natural outcome of this evolution and growth. It is going to happen again and again, sometimes more often than other times.

The good news, and I know this to be true from recent experience, is opening myself up to growth invariably brings new interactions, new people, new avenues for bonding.

So I fear the loss of losing people less. Because I know others will come along, and they have come along. Some have surprised me by how long they have stayed. Others who I know will stick around, do. Sometimes it’s brought folks from my past back into my life, even if for a short period. Sometimes the same people you walked away from/who walked away from you will come back. But I’ve only seen all of this once I opened myself up to that possibility. By being selfishly committed to this learning. Of boundaries, of values, of growth.

It has meant letting go of the rails a little, and wholeheartedly refusing to shrink my capacity to grow, in favour of politeness, or in staying in the safety of familiar friends, or the security of a number of friends.

In my reading, I chanced upon this really amazing video where Brene Brown pretty much sums up everything that I was mulling over and trying to make sense of.

This really hit the nail on the head for me:

  • The most compassionate people, are absolutely the most boundaried.
  • I’d rather be loving and generous, and very straightforward with what’s okay and what’s not okay.
  • I am not as sweet as I used to be, but I am far more loving.
  • Generosity can’t exist without boundaries.
  • Boundaries are not easy because we care more about what people will think, we don’t want to disappoint anyone and we want everyone to like us.
  • Nothing is sustainable without boundaries.
  • Boundaries are not fake walls, they’re not separation or division. They’re respect, with here’s what’s okay for me, and here’s not.

If you’re interested in more, this is another excellent article on Mark Manson’s site, about on Strong Boundaries. And this TED Talk by Sarri Gilman.

Day 68: Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say

I’ve been all about tuning down my aversions, cutting out the will-never-dos and the won’t-ever-happens, of late. Because if I’ve learnt anything at all in the last few years of my life, it is that anything can happen and everything can change. Even the things you swear won’t, can. And probably will. I’m trying all the damn time, not to be so cock-sure about anything. To approach everything I do, with just a little more give. To allow for that smidgen of change (that I am so sure will never happen).

A lot of this had to do with dissolving my ego a tad. Because I realise that most times, if I swore something — some aspect of me, or a situation I was presented with — would never change it was because it was too damn scared to let it, or it made me feel less in control, or small unsure and unworthy, or it felt too damn far away from where I was for me to even relate. But loosening up a little, I’ve come to believe that making room for the possibility that all those things could in fact change, doesn’t diminish who I am. It just means I’m letting the fear go, and opening myself up to possibilities — whichever way. It means that in the eventuality that things don’t go the way I am so ramrod sure they will, I will not be shattered.

One of the biggest positive manifestations of this change has been the improvement in some of the key relationships in my life. I realised my unwillingness to take feedback was a direct result of being cock-sure about my reasons for doing things and being a certain way, which in turn left absolutely no room for improvement. No give to try alternatives. I used to be impatient, impulsive and very restless in my communication. Stepping back, tuning my mind to acknowledge that there are always other possibilities, other perceptions and opinions outside of my own, has made me slow down a little. I’m not perfect, but I’ve found that swallowing my pride has meant that I do listen more, and I mean really listen not just hear. Listen in a way that makes me contemplate when I am told, the feedback I am given, and consider that maybe my way — just because I am so dead-sure I can be no other way — isn’t always the right way. And that even if it sometimes feels like the right way fr me, it could possibly have completely differing effects on the other person involved.

It’s nice to have the advantage of hindsight, to see how far one has come. For example, I often look back to where I used to be — stubborn (and I’m talking rebel-without-a-cause stubborn) steadfast and sometimes so silly — that when I now encounter statements like “That will never change” it makes me want to laugh. Out loud. Because the words “never change” almost don’t hold any meaning anymore.

Because, everything changes.

Every damned thing.

All of this recently came to light when I was in an argument with someone, and they went down that path. Something to the effect of this-is-who-I-am-and-this-is-what-you-mean-to-me which is all well and good. I laughed. But when that cock-sure, definitive edge of and-that-never-changes got added to the mix, I knew it was time to back off. Because it meant that nothing I said or contributed to the conversation from there on — no matter how honest or true — was going to be heard, let alone make an impact or be acted upon.

It didn’t matter how I felt, I wasn’t going to be heard. Which then begged the question — what use is that love and respect and empathy and generosity (this-is-what-you-mean-to-me) if the relationship doesn’t allow space for me to be heard?

That was my cue to back off. (This also led me to some new realisations about boundaries. More specifically, how much more I need to learn and apply, in this respect. But that’s a story for another post.)

The thing is, being so dead sure, of anything, often means shutting out all other possibilities. Including the possibility that one’s behaviour, actions, words, the version of oneself one bring to a relationship, might be problematic, or detrimental to the way in which the relationship is moving. Or sometimes it’s just that the way one is, isn’t making the other person feel very good, no matter how honest or noble the intentions.

There are few things worse than big, kind gestures wrapped up in ego-driven good-intentions. Perhaps one of those few things, is being cock-sure said good intentions are for the best, and will never change. Because it means there is little chance one will ever examine the effect it has on the very people one seeks to love, respect and shower with generosity; whether they’re actually feeling good or bad to be at the receiving end of it all; and if maybe, just maybe, there is a better way to be. A way that takes into account a version of reality that’s outside of one’s own. A way that could in fact mend or further relationships.

Wouldn’t that be so much nicer for us all?

Two years ago: Day 68: How we’ve aged (part 1)

Day 67: Let’s go outside

I love it when my inner monologue and the outer movings of my world collide, in moments of affirmation like this one.

Since the start of the year, this (and other variations of this) has been my refrain: Go outside.

Out of my comfort zone.

Out of my own way.

Outside the corners of my mind.

Beyond the limits I’ve known to exist.

Go do it.

Take a chance.

So what if it’s not something I’ve done before?

Try something new.

Live a little.

Let go a little more.

Don’t be afraid to go somewhere new, whether physically, mentally or emotionally.

You get the drift.

Towards the end of 2017, I really did feel like I was stepping into a new phase of sorts. A lot of the churn, and the events of 2017 had felt inconclusive on their own, but like collectively they were leading me somewhere. And at the start of this year, I knew at a very cellular level that something had changed. Like I was dipping into some previously unknown repository of clarity, self-awareness and confidence. I didn’t just feel this, in my head. I saw it pan out, in the way I was being.

The nail on the head was the previously unknown levels of contentment, confidence and peace that I began to feel. It was still to early to rejoice or put it down to real change, but when I saw myself breezing through a week or two of inactivity, the sort of low that would usually turn my world around, with not so much of a whimper of nervousness or excitement, I knew I was on to something.

It’s not like the last two months have been smooth or like a plateau. They have been anything but. Whether it’s the severe ups and downs work (my own and what I do with VC) my routine running amok, my body throwing non-cooperative oddballs my way, or the consistent relationship messages I’ve been stumbling on. I’ve had a fair number of instances to stop, take a breather and break down a bit. But it hasn’t happened. Not nearly as much as it used to affect me in the past.

Things happen, things come, thing go, people come, people go, some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t. I’d like to think the confidence and the contentment is making it easier to let things blow through me, rather than blow me down. Which is to say I don’t stumble as often as I did. I don’t go back into a shell of fear, every time something doesn’t go to plan, I don’t calculate my moves as much, I’m willing to give most things a fresh start, and I’m happy to let go. Of the doubt, the fear and the resentment — all things that definitely slowed me down last year.

Whatever happens, just get out. Do it over. Do it again. Do it another way. 

And of course, it helps that the affirming signs (like the one above) come at regular intervals, in case doubt should strike. It’s like my subconscious being mirrored in my actions. In more ways than one.

If the last two years were about conserving energy, quietly figuring things out and worrying about where I was headed, this year I find myself trusting the outside a lot more. I’m willing to go outside. In my head, as much as in reality.

I’ll take this kind of peace over the mood swings and emotional outbursts. I much prefer the head screwed on, eyes wide open way of going through my days, than the busybody spinning-like-a-top way that frankly left me lost and without a clue where I was going.

Going outside never felt better.

Two years ago: Day 67: Flying solo

Day 51: Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again

In November last year, I removed myself from all social media. While the trigger was completely unexpected, it was a decision that had been coming a long, long time, for a range of reasons that were festering (consciously and unconsciously) for about as long as I’ve been back on various platforms.

For the last many years I’ve harboured a love-hate relationship with all forms of social media. I’ve reacted strongly in favour of some, and ranted vehemently about others, depending on what my opinion was at the time. There’s no denying the tremendous value being online, social networks and using technology for communication, has added to various aspects of my life. My entire career as a freelance writer, for example, wouldn’t have been a reality today, if it weren’t for social networking. But I’ve always slipped in and out of the love and hate sides of the fence, when I become aware of the performative kind of existence being online demands. And no matter what we may think or tell ourselves, the lines between real and virtual worlds tend to blur.

This is something that has troubled me, for as many years as I have been online — both as a creator as well as consumer of content. I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, so the idea of curating slivers of my life is not new to me. My writing life has thrived because my blog has been a legit means to record and reflect on things in the only way I know how — in writing. It has provided a creative outlet for my writing. Sharing my blog online has allowed me to amplify my voice, push my skills as a writer and create an audience for it — professionally and personally. So there’s no denying how much I have benefited, and continue to benefit from it.

However, most recently, my angst came from the glaring truth that despite all the online chatter, putting myself out there, baring it all, sharing snippets of my life avidly on Instagram and my blog, there were entire chunks of real life developments that I was unable to share with some of my closest friends. Not for the lack of space and time to do it, but for reasons I couldn’t fully fathom then.

Over time, I realised that while technology definitely makes staying in touch and communicating over distances easier, there are many ways in which virtual connectedness does not make for enduring relationships.

What I was missing in my real life relationships the intimacy, the real space and a sort of closeness that I found was slowly slipping away, even as I felt connected and one amongst a large community of likeminded folks, online.

The more I thought about it, the more aware I became of certain patterns, that all traced back to the mediums and platforms of communication that we use. It’s easy to mistake the ease and immediacy that tools like WhatsApp and Instagram provide, for openness. But increasingly, I felt like I was always at arm’s length, at bay, behind a screen. There were so many things I’d much rather have talked about in person, over a cup of tea, or sitting across a table, or sharing a lazy afternoon, or a glass of wine, or while taking a walk. I have desperately missed making memories that don’t involve swiping my fingers hurriedly over my phone keypad, and collapsing entire gusts of emotion into a flattened emoji.

There is something about the way in which these tools lull us into constantly being an audience behind a screen, that slowly but surely creeps into the way we are in our real world relationships too. They do a fabulous job of creating the illusion of being in touch, while actually allowing us to (quite unconsciously) keep everything, including our closest people, at arm’s length. The weight of this irony hit me in full force in the months after I move to Bangalore.

Part of this conflict also crept to the surface because in the real world, the changes and transformation I’ve been seeking, have increasingly pushed me to pause, seek solitude, re-examine, rewire and reimagine a new way to move ahead. To listen to the voice within and do what makes sense to me, rather than follow a path already laid out. But the constant and habitual consumption mode that being online makes a habit of — the being an audience, the habit of instant gratification, instant judgement, immediate decision-making — meant my patience had worn thin, and I had no juice left when the going got tough and required me to slow down and go the long haul.

My real and virtual worlds were officially at loggerheads. While my heart was always telling me to slow down, the constant exposure to media, information, social networking and the like, the constant consumption had caused a deep mental fatigue, from just sheer information overload.

My brain isn’t wired to be on all the time. And being online was doing exactly that. The streams of information blurred, the chatter and subconscious preoccupations take over, and the conversations and engagements around things seen online were truly weighing me down.

I attribute a large part of the inexplicable restless that crippled me for over three years, and the constant need for certainty and regularity that gripped me, to this.

Anyhow, what started as random reflection many, many months ago, culminated rather unceremoniously one evening in November, with me taking an impulsive decision to quite social media altogether. It isn’t the first time. I stayed off Facebook (in the years when it was really the only big social network, before the hype around Twitter and Instagram grew) for over two years before. During that period, I didn’t ever miss it and the only reason I came back was to sell my home-baked cakes. Similarly, despite many reservations that popped up ever so frequently in the last few years, I had kind of made my peace with the hows and whys of continuing to be on Facebook because it was where I generated, found, promoted my work. I’ve taken several breaks from social media too. Month-long detox stints — how very first-world it all sounds.

But that evening in November, something definitely snapped. And this time I have a very safe, sinking sort of feeling that it is likely to be for good. This is the first time that it doesn’t feel like an experiment, or a detox with a time limit. This is the first time it has slipped in naturally and almost three months in now, I can safely admit that I’ve literally never felt the urge to go back.

It is also the first time that I have acknowledged that I can complain as much as I like, but ultimately the power to choose to be online or not rests with me. It is ultimately a choice. Completely in my hands.

A month into getting off social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook), I also cut into Whatsapp by turning off data for 10-12 hours every night. This felt like the harder ask, personally. And even though I am asleep for the most part of this time, I know for certain the world’s of good it has done for my efforts at mindfulness. Within mere days, I realised, as I’d suspected that absolutely nothing changed online. The world continues to spin, people continue to exist and stay in touch. You’re just not compelled to respond instantly.

Offline though, I am having relaxed and purposeful dinner time, more engaged and intimate conversations with VC that we’d lost touch with, and a colossal amount of time gained to read. That’s just the boost in terms of time, which is typically most noticeable and measurable.

And I suspect it’s just the tip of the ice berg.

Day 25: Gravity is working against me

I’ve been beating myself up about a couple of things of late. I’d like to stop. Not so much put and end to the completely unproductive self-flagellation itself, but also gently remind myself that there are no mistakes. Just missteps that serve as lessons. On the flip side of the opportunity to learn something.

It’s okay to have made a wrong call with a certain work assignment. It’s okay to acknowledge that I didn’t see the signs, the writing on the wall, right from the start. There was enough evidence staring me in the face. I had a hunch right from the get go. That the editor wasn’t being upfront, clear and transparent. And that I was selling myself short. But I chose to ignore the signs and go for it anyway. Because I thought I was at a loose end, and I needed something to bind me down to a work routine again. I am a long way off from seeing the end of this, but I need to stop beating myself up about it, get the job done and just move on.

I’ve really, really had an ongoing tug-o-war in my head as far as the whole fitness debate goes. The more I think about it, the more clear it is, how much of confidence, positivity, clarity and true liberation I have lost to what I now see as a completely unfounded need to experiment with my fitness. Last week, I finally admitted to myself that I was fine even before I went on the six week plan, and that in retrospect, I now no longer understand why I had to do it. Fixing this place in my head, and regaining this conviction is taking a lot more time and effort that I am willing to give it. I want to snap back, but the truth is I have to take the long, painful route. And it is testing me.

Then again, nobody said it would be easy. The rewards however, are happy-making beyond compare. So I’ll take it. Even though it isn’t always a pretty picture, or a perfect progression of linear, ever-progressive movements forward. I’ll take it, for that crushing sort of all-pervasive relief in finally learning to forgive myself, let it go. And just get on.

Two years ago: Day 25: Love

Day 23: Tell me what you really like

I’ve had a strange few weeks since the start of the year. On the one hand, there’s an all-round positive energy, a really good feeling that’s pervading every day and every thing. But on the other, my routine has come undone a little bit. Nothing gets me worked up like this does. I am a creature of habit and so when my habits get shot to bits, I feel a little unanchored.

Primarily, this time it is because I just haven’t been back to the gym. And this is the one activity that typically sets my day rolling. Getting it done at the start of any day usually makes the rest of the day fall into place. I don’t know what is up, but I have just been flaking off, not waking up when I should, and not really doing much to push through that bit of resistance that one is known to feel.

Something is stirring. At a subconscious level, I know I am making my peace with getting off the food plan I was on. I want to strive for some kind of mindful balance, and in doing that, maybe I need to also re-look at the compulsive need to exercise 5-6 times a week.

In keeping with all the other surprising changes that I’ve been seeing in myself, I’m trying not to get too taken aback by this sudden volteface. I still have the odd day, like this morning, when I get really agitated and ask myself — what is wrong with you? how is this possible? it is so unlike you — but for the most part I’m really trying hard to let it go. Brushing aside the self-bashing, with thoughts that affirm positivity.

This morning, I exasperatedly told amma, “what do you think is wrong with me?!” implying that not wanting to go to the gym just feels so wrong. Cutting through the clutter in my head in a way that only she can, with a shake of her head she said calmly, “maybe this is what’s right for now.”

And so I wait, in the hope that this too shall pass.