I’m eaassyyyy

Today was the first high-energy, productive, moving-around and-getting-shit-done kind of day we have had in over a month. It’s ridiculous, really. Considering we were to leave this morning, and yet even until late yesterday evening — with under 12 hours from proposed departure time — VC and I hadn’t begun actually packing up. I really don’t know what we were waiting for, except that neither of us seemed to be in a rush to get a move on.

Instead I went off early in the morning to spend a couple of hours with D, while VC got some work done. Then we met up at lunch — we managed to squeeze in another Thai meal like it needed to be done more than packing needed to be begun  — before we came home in time to catch the pest control fellows and packers who came two hours later than anticipated. Which meant more waiting around and more time being spent not packing.

We had a list of such random errands to finish, and odds and ends to tie up around the house before we leave. We came with every intention to get it done in a systematic way. In fact before we arrived VC had even said to me I’m going to start doing one thing everyday and tick it all off. But somehow, despite that, in what is now unsurprising, typical fashion we only got around to lining it up somewhere at the end of last week. And it took till yesterday for things to actually happen. In the mean time we traipsed about town, played a lot of taash, met up with friends, went out by ourselves, spent two days in Morjim, loafed around to escape power-cuts at home, and also spent an inordinate amount of time chilling at home.

So anyway you get the gist, yeah?

Finally, when the pest control fellows had done their thing and left, and the packers had packed and moved my plants back and forth around the house yesterday, it was past 8 pm. VC and I were left looking at cockroach carnage around a mud-streaked upside-down house to clean up. When I realised that neither of us was in the mood to do that or even begin packing VC’s stuff, and instead were had chosen to sit back in bed with our noses in our respective laptops, I just took a call.

Let’s leave on Thursday, I said.

And just like that VC agreed.

Then we laughed, and I said to VC, maybe it’s just time to embrace the fact that this is who we are — last minute people. Maybe this isn’t going to change. But I realised this is always how VC has been. He packs his suitcase before an early morning flight, even earlier in the morning, between waking up and leaving home. I’m the one that this is a whole new world for. This is not at all who I used to be — leaving everything to the very last minute, not panicking at all, changing plans on the fly, postponing departures at the nth hour, being okay with sudden change of plans.

I should’ve guessed this was where we were headed when we spent over 2 weeks in a state of ease and relaxation, when we could very well have easily and painlessly managed to finish all our tasks well ahead of time. Instead we somehow got them all done in the last 24 hours. It is fascinating me no end that there is suddenly such an allowance for this, in measures I have not known were possible. Even writing a post like this some months ago would have come with a sense of relief, tinged with regret at how last minute everything has been. But I feel none. I do not regret how much fun I’ve had, how much sleep I caught up on, how much we have eased up and relaxed over the last two weeks, and how much we have enjoyed this home and this unique time where neither of us had much else to do but be in each other’s company, in Goa. it felt serendipitous and I’m glad we just had the ability to go with it.

Anyhow, this morning, something kicked in. We woke up and swung straight into action and had an almost steroid-induced bout of work. We packed up in hyper-efficient manner, turned the house complete upside down, cleaned it out thoroughly, and readied it for it’s next interim occupant. So efficient were we, that we even had time to have a lazy lunch and catch a two hour nap. In the evening, because we had so much time to spare and nowhere to be, we even loaded up the car with all the many bags and boxes, so tomorrow we have to all but wake up, get ready and drive out.

It felt like a fitting day of movement and clearing, to be up and about like this, of productivity, after weeks of slowness. And I almost cannot believe how this has all worked out, but somewhere in all of this there has been a turning point in our beings, and a lesson for me going forward.

***

I’m leaving Goa feeling grateful that we found someone to take the house (even if for a short while) so it will be lived in and looked after until we visit next.

One year ago: It’s a lazy afternoon
Three years ago: Okay bye

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Moving on

If I had ten bucks for every time someone confusedly asked me So what’s the plan, really? or some variant of that with regard to this moving back and forth between Goa and Bangalore life, I’d be able to buy myself a ticket to take yet another flight to Goa, I think. It’s been confusing as hell, I believe. Even now, a whole year later, I find I’m still explaining that I’m in Bangalore and VC has been in Goa, and sometimes I’m even explaining why we have this arrangement. Officially, I suppose what seems to everyone to be a precarious balance has ended. VC and I will now be in the same city. And if you really had to make me pick a side, it is Bangalore, for now.

But I guess it’s official now. Because our plants left for Bangalore today. The packers were a bit amused to see that the plants were literally all we’re shipping back to Bangalore. And judging by VC’s stance and expression, what he’s thinking is probably This is one of the stupidest things I’ve done in a while.

But that it how it is. The rest of the house remains, and I believe it is a not-so-subconscious attempt to keep the back door open, so we may keep coming back. Even with all my readiness to move on, the growing sense of an ending with this chapter, a feeling of having somewhat grown up to stepping into an all new phase in love and in life, I just can’t get myself to believe fully in my bones that we’re moving (yet again) on from Goa. I’ve been wondering if maybe this is one of the side-effects of having a home here? It makes a place never too far off? And this easy access is always just a flight or a day’s drive away. But today, after I spent a couple of hours this morning hanging with D, I realised it’s more than just the home. It’s connection and belonging that goes beyond physical limits. When I left Goa in 2017, it came with a lot of ties broken off with people here. I left feeling quite orphaned by the place, with little sense of belonging to salvage. And even though most of those people aren’t in my life today, others are. Others with whom I have significant, growing, constantly evolving relationships that seem to surpass time and distance in a way that was difficult for me to do even just two years ago.

I guess what I’m saying is Goa — even with all it’s befuddling changes that break my heart on a daily basis — will always be home in some form. It is after all, the place that gave me space to drop roots, sprout wings and fly in what was easily the most formative decade of my life thus far. It’s where I made friends with folks who have significantly impacted and shaped this very important phase of my life. And there is a sense of belonging in that, more than in the physical idea of Goa as a place. A part of me does feel like it belongs here.

What I’m also trying to say is, this feels like yet another short-term good-bye, and not at all like the heart-wrenching goodbye from moving lock stock and barrel, like it felt in 2017. This feels like a see-you-very-soon rather than an alvida!

***

Gratitude today for all the restful days I’ve had in Goa. It has rested something deeper within me, in a way that I couldn’t have done in my own home, smack in the middle of my regular life in Bangalore.

One year ago: The rest is up to you, you make the call

Food for my soul

It’s now been almost an entire month of no exercise, and even though I had grand plans to get back to eating normally (after the Manali holiday), here in Goa, that was not to be either. I tried, and realised very quickly that between extended Diwali shenanigans, meeting friends over meals, going to the beach, and general state of relaxation that has ensued, it wasn’t a sensible idea to force eating “right”. So I gave in and went with the flow instead.

There has been a lot of beer, a lot of alcohol, a lotttt of sugar (unbelievable amounts in fact, in comparison to how much I’ve cut it out of my diet), a lot of eating at odd times, ordering in, eating out and a lot more meat than I have been used to lately.

It’s always fun for a short while. I realise eyes and my brain that dream up the food I want to eat, enjoy it far more than my tummy does these days. Nearly a year f consciously eating better, eating cleaner and generally listening to my system has made it quite…not sensitive, but balanced, in a way that it is quick to protest when the balance goes off kilter.

I’m ready to hit reset and go right back to eating two meals a day, cutting table sugar out completely and eating home-cooked food again. But there’s still some days to go before I can do that. Tonight, the temptation of a new joint that’s doing momos and street-style North-Eastern fare has lured me out to dinner again. Then there’s the weekend before we leave on Monday or Tuesday.

So today, I gave my tummy a break from all the indulgence with the comfort food that I most crave when I hit periods like this. Those chips have become a staple in my meals here — see what I mean by off kilter?

I recently told D that I have discovered the easiest trick to sustain any kind of food plan and make it stick and work is to allow for moderation. I find that I do that by including semi-frequent indulgences and the occasional falling off the bandwagon. That said, this has been a good year for fitness, for pushing boundaries physically, for getting closer in touch with my body, for health, for food, for finding balance and for wellness.

Gratitude today for all the ways in which opportunities aligned for me to focus on my health this year. Whether it was finding means to sustain my regimen through all the travel, reconnecting with a trainer whose methods really worked for me (over distances even), finding a sense of balance with myself that encouraged me to keep going, discovering joy in running, living within walking distance of the gym, walking on Sunday mornings pretty consistently for nearly a year now — I feel like this year I really found my groove with fitness and didn’t have to really effort much. Things fell into place, they happened, and I just moved through it with minimal difficulty and very little mental doing. It helped save all my focus for actually working out instead.

One year ago: These days are better than that
Two years ago: More Goa postcards: Walking through Mapusa market
Three years ago: Light and life

Flying the nest

Thankfully, today’s rain wasn’t as severe as the full ass storm we landed into yesterday.

***

For a while now, I’ve been feeling a sense of a separation, of individuation, from various things in my life. It showed up primarily, in a big and apparent way in class. But I am slowly also seeing it in other aspects of my life too. With people, with experiences, with friends, with a phase. It’s a sense of feeding myself, fulfilling my needs in a self-regulated manner, and being able to move on cleanly.

To my shock, today I felt the same about Goa. I have, for too long now, carried the feeling that my time here was always tainted with a sense of struggle and having to try so hard at everything. To find work, to meet good people, to make friends, to feel fulfilled in a whole way. And those fundamental needs, as long as I’ve been looking to fulfill them outwardly, ways felt unmet. No matter how hard I tried.

The more I a work towards integrating and filling myself up, the more I’m finding resources for a majority of my needs within myself. Either that, or the wherewithal to get what I need from elsewhere. There is a significant movement from that childlike, primal, fundamental needy way in which I have needed things — from people and places — and the way in which I experience these same needs now.

Something within my is filled up. And it has made that bitterness, that feeling of being wronged all the time, of having gotten a wrong deal, so much lesser. None of this is to discount the shitty things that have happened, but the charge they have carried has significantly reduced.

All my trips here this past have been strangely bittersweet, an odd flux between feeling between two worlds. Settled and ready to fly. This time, aided by the sense of closure that has come from VCs decision to return to Bangalore, I feel palpably like this chapter is done. And it is a relief to be moving on without that need to run, getaway, leave behind, erase and sever all that Goa has been — which is what I did the last time around.

***

Gratitude for the cradle life has created for me for all these years, as I navigated and understood what it means to grow into an adult and be there for myself. Gratitude for the situations life has thrown at me this year, to show me how ready and capable I am of flying the nest. Gratitude for life’s little coincidences in leading the way.

One year ago: They say you were always enough

Victory

There’s an air of victory I’m feeling, all round. I woke up to the realisation that despite the challenging, oftentimes dark and daunting nature of this year’s course, I’ve actually come full circle. This has been a first, true experience in regulating and managing myself through the entire cycle — from meeting trauma, sitting with all that it threw up, working through it even in the face of the urge to fight or flight, finding ways to have my needs met, dipping into my resources and persevering through to the finish.

I started not knowing why specifically I wanted to do the course, and going with it purely because I felt drawn to the work in a deep way. And I am nearing the close with clarity about how specifically I see myself putting the work into practice.

This feels like victory. Because the perseverance hasn’t been the cognitive sort I typically resort to. It hasn’t been mind over matter where I push against the grain. It has come gently from within, taking myself through the periods of discomfort slowly rather than pushing through it. Getting my needs fulfilled, and being my own keeper of safety has been such a new development. I’ve been slow, very gentle and keenly present to everything that I have experienced and felt, every step of the way.

I haven’t merely taken myself through the rigmarole. I have found alignment for myself where none existed. It has been challenging and one of the most difficult things I have done in my adulthood.

So it really feels like victory of a very different kind. And it is sweeeeeet.

The realisation made me super emotional this morning. I felt on edge and very raw and vulnerable driving to class this morning and I covered it up with a bright blue dress and bright red lipstick. And then I wondered why I needed to hide any of it at all. The emotions rising to the surface or the undeniable victorious feeling.

And so I let it go. There were tears of joy in the first hour of class. A rush if emotions and a front of true stepping into an aspect of myself that is such new territory, I’m not sure what to do with it yet. As I ease into this newfound power and presence, I wish for gentleness. With myself and everything that may arise from all the newness and unfamiliarity I am experiencing.

***

I’m grateful for good timing, providence if you want to call it that, for the way things have unfolded in such a relevant and timely manner for me this past year. It’s really affirmed my faith in that something bigger and beyond us.

One year ago: And you pray that one day you’ll be seen between the shadows
Two years ago: On being present
Three years ago: Love, loss and what we ate

Rest easy

Thinking of this glowy winter morning from last week as I woke up late today, having given myself the option to sleep in. Just a bit.

I wanted to take the opportunity of the day off in this busy week, to sneak in an outdoor run seeing as how the last time I got any exercise or running was nearly two weeks ago. Somehow time is flying even as in the moment, from one day to the next, it feels slower than ever. It’s only when I pause and look back at things like this that I register how much time has actually passed.

Sunday, we drove back eight hours from Manali. I drove most of the journey and while I enjoyed it, it was taxing and had left me quite tired. We stayed Sunday night with T, VCs best friend, and and J his wife, who were in Chandigarh at the same time. So our time was spent catching up and socialising rather than relaxing if we had been on our own. On Monday, our travel began early at 10 am, returning our rental car in one end of town and driving to the airport at the other end. A five hour flight with a stop over on Mumbai without getting off the flight and multiple inordinate delays at every step of the way had us get home only at 10.30 pm. I jumped straight into unpacking and doing two loads of laundry because I knew the days ahead would leave me with no time. VC has had his own plans too so I didn’t want to pile it on him.

This didn’t leave me with enough time to unwind and rest. I went straight to class early Tueaday morning and spent the next two days in intensive learning and practice. This usually leaves me quite physically exhausted.

Today, I have a days break and two more days of class again. Then just a single days break again before I pack and head out to Goa next week.

I’d have liked to do absolutely nothing today, and I realised how much blissfully easier it is to do that when one is alone. VC is around, my dad arrives tonight and I myself am quite sick of eating out so I had to get myself out of bed to check the state of the kitchen and cook us some lunch and dinner.

This morning as I stirred, I felt a sense of overwhelm from the pace of the last couple of days catch up with me and cause a churn in my chest. So I turned off my early alarm, threw the blanket over my head and went right back to sleep for another couple of hours.

I just cannot seem to be on the run and hustle anymore. And I’m fighting the urge to beat myself up over it and whip myself into action. There are always options, to getting out and being on the run myself and I’m trying more and more to give myself allowance with that. Outsource, make do without that little something extra, order in, luxuriate when possible, rest even when it’s not time to rest.

This need to keep doing is so, so, so, deeprooted in me. And even as I gain better comfort with letting it go and learning to be, rather than do, the vestiges of that old self keep creeping in from time to time. Just to test if she can still appear and make her presence felt. She’s a tough cookie.

But this restful me is tougher today than ever before. I’m grateful for the day off today. It is just the break I needed. To sleep in, eat home cooked food, veg out with VC, catch up with S, and also meet my father later tonight.

One year ago: Some would say I was a list man in a lost world
Three years ago: 
Mondaze

Surprises

I feel victorious today. For finishing a full piece of work on my own. For persisting and seeing it through even when it was daunting. For realising how different I feel in this group and what has changed in and about me. For seeing and feeling utterly small in the face of the field I have now entered. For realising how little any of the work I do there has to do with me. For how humbled it has all made me feel.

I have crossed many important milestones in the last two days. The road ahead seems so very different from anything I’d imagined for myself. And so it felt appropriate to celebrate, by way of beers and pizza in the company of people I am least likely to otherwise consume beer and pizza with.

Who knew. This was possible too!

***

I’m super grateful for S and D today, for being on this two year journey for me. For how we unwittingly became friends, with little idea about how our paths would intersect at times and move in parallel at others. I personally had no idea what an impact they’d have on me, how much they’d influence the quality of my time in this course and beyond.

One year ago: I been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me

Milestone

I want to remember today as a milestone in dropping some level of a performative being. Im grateful for these opportunities.

Today was an important day in allowing myself to stumble, to goof up, with absolutely no intention to have a “good” outcome.

***

Grateful for the gifts and insights I got from today’s learning. Not just form my piece of work, but from being in others’ work, from observing, and from just being and witnessing the group today.

One year ago: All along this love was right in front of me

Like hitting reset

It’s really been a satisfying week away (VC puts it aptly here): quiet, contained, overwhelmed by the nature I’ve seen (this was my first time in the hills in the north), peaceful, unhurried, easy, slow. All the many cups of great adrak chai (tea in the south of India isn’t a patch on the north!), the many, many meals of paranthas, the forest walks, the babbling river, the astonishingly good apples fresh off the trees, being constantly watched by the mountains, the smiling faces and pink cheeks. And yet, there’s so many little, little things that have happened that remain with me and that I am slowly processing. Some experiences, some moments, an epiphany or two, some special moments (like being given gifts by hosts of both our airbnbs), some coincidences, some conversations, the two books I read, driving for a majority of our return journey witnessing the changing light and landscape.

I feel so full. And I’m ready.

The hills have been unexpectedly special and I would be lying if I said these seemingly empty and slow few days haven’t touched me in a deep way. I feel somewhat changed from this past week alone. Maybe I will get down to talking about why and how in the days to come.

I feel a new lightness and freedom as I go into a penultimate session of class for this year, with an all new level of unpreparedness. Letting go of something old, another layer of control and perfection, and testing something new out for myself. It has been freeing so far, and the fear I anticipated would kick in, hasn’t as yet. As serendipity would have it, I will be the first to present tomorrow, in just twelve hours after returning from holiday where I’ve been deliberately cut off from all forms of prep. In a way it means I can finish on my own terms, before I even allow anyone elses presentation to affect me with standards that aren’t mine, but it also means I have little time to warm up.

I’ve hit reset, I think.

I’m going headlong into this. Blind like I should. Open like a child. Small like a fresh bud. With no desire to perform or outcomes to live up to. And it is an absolute first for me.

***

Grateful for access to therapy today. For N, for how safe and accessible she has made this journey. For how therapy is down the road and a short walk away from me. For the ability to have a session over skype. For the gentle and judgement-free space that it has been.

There are some days, when I look back, wayyyyy back, and I realise how far I’ve come. So far, I almost feel like a different person. Today is one such day and I realise I couldn’t have done it without therapy and learning.

Three years ago: New eyes

Cold but happy

It’s the strangest thing, but I — with absolutely no threshold to bear cold weather — have been more than okay on this trip. My pitiable capacity to brave cold weather has kept me from going anywhere in the North of India. For ten years we’ve nursed plans to go to Ladakh but I literally chicken out every time they materialise.

I don’t know what actually pushed me to do this. But obviously something has changed. BecauseI’m usually the one with absolutely no threshold. Even with multiple layers on it takes some braving on my part to get out in a cold place and see the sights and enjoy myself. The experiences I’ve had so far, as amazing in their own way as they have been, have always been tinged with some level of misery from the cold. This time around, I came well prepared with the right clothes. Lots of options and layers and many manners of warmies have been involved in keeping me comfortable. And yet, I don’t think it’s just that.

Within me, I feel an easing up and a settling in that’s making a difference. I feel this has a lot to do with my state of mind, and this utterly new place I am in where everything is easy and nothing feels like a burden.

Especially on holiday, I’m finding space to take in everything slowly, to be present and to be in the here and now in its fullest. Even if that means braving a 7-degree morning. I don’t know if it makes sense but I think this is about an inner alignment of some sort. Maybe I’m wildly wrong in making this direct connection but in a long, slightly convoluted way, I’ve been noticing how much more at ease I have been on this holiday, than most others. All the usual suspects like the bitter cold (with crazy winds and rain to boot yesterday), unplanned lazy days, last minute cancellations of our agenda, sleeping in beyond sunset have not phased me the way they usually do.

Driving up here was a long and arduous trek in a new, unfamiliar car. We left Chandigarh at 4.30 am on day 1 of my period. I was also fasting as per usual. I was uncomfortable, yes. But nothing life-changing. It was the strangest sense of ease. There were no loos for miles and the lone toilet stop we made had me holding my breath and gagging by the time I was done. There were some roadblocks and the journey that was originally expected to take 8.5 hours took nearly 12. But we made it. And I was largely alright. This is not who I used to be.

In another strange reversal of roles, VC is the one struggling a bit in the cold. Despite his thermals and three layers over, he’s visibly uncomfortable. Whereas I’m in two layers and actually, enjoying the chill, I’m almost afraid to admit.

We were thinking back to Brugge one year ago and how we arrived on a rainy, bitterly cold morning, stranded on a bus terminus with nowhere to go. I was distraught to say the least and I couldn’t wait to get indoors.

This trip, just one year on has been drastically different. I feel easy going and a bit unstoppable, like little can get in my way. I think I might just be ready for that Ladakh trip after all.

***

Gratitude today for my body, it’s resilience and adaptability. And how much of that’s stretch it just takes on and manages without my knowing.

One year ago: Wandering through life will love come home to you
Three years ago: Escape

Come rain or shine

In an interesting role reversal, VC has been pottering about busily since we arrived while I have mostly been lying flat in bed under the blankets that are as thick as mini mattresses, reading.

VC had three alarms on last night. One for 12.30 am to check if the skies were clear enough to shoot the stars. Another at 5 am to check the light. And finally at 6 am when he woke up to actually shoot. Since then he has been in and out of our room, doing this and that, connecting cameras, switching lenses, setting up tripods and shooting, then back in again to transfer pictures, drink some chai, then out again to shoot some more, back again to eat breakfast. And I’ve just been horizontal and unperturbed, observing his restless excited energy.

It used to be quite the opposite. When we’d visit a new place I’d be the one wanting to get out and about, exploring, eating out and walking around while he’d want to lie around lazily.

I am enjoying the turn of events.

This is the view from my bed. Why would I want to leave?

We’ve woken up to rain this morning, which also means we’ll have to slightly improvise and things may not go to the plan we had. I’m strangely okay with that.

To be surrounded by silver tipped, shiny edged snow sprinkled peaks that stand so tall is as humbling and perspective altering as walking into the great wide ocean. While I’ve done that easily a thousand times before, this is the first time I’m within what feels like touching reach of snow capped peaks of this size and stature.

Since I arrived here last evening I’ve been feeling the age of these ranges around me. There is something extremely old, a sense of wisdom and so many things known that I have been feeling like I am sinking into.

***

I’m grateful for the sun today. For the light, the warmth and for the capacity to fuel life itself. I don’t stop to think about this everyday but since coming here it hit me just what a force the sun actually is and how much it matters.

One year ago: Try to remember the good times
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts II

Alone time

I’m learning what it means to take time. To make time for myself. These are things I’ve been slowly easing into. And I’ve watched my comfort levels with doing this go up and down, observing where I am comfortable doing it and when I am not. It’s all so telling.

Beyond the obvious lessons in putting myself first and boundaries, I’m suddenly seeing how this goes right back to a deeper process of individuation and growing closer to the needs of an inner self that doesn’t always have a loud, expressive voice to say what she wants.

This is the first time that despite having VC visiting, a rather full weekend and the usualy overriding temptation to abandon everything and be with him, I got out willingly, easily, and made it to the workshop I’d signed up for weeks ago. Instead of rushing home, I went over to Koshy’s and had lunch by myself, after.

I’ve been doing this solo thing for literally years now. Long before solitude and activities for one were cool hashtaggable millennial concepts, I’d watched movies and had meals alone in Bangalore and really enjoyed it, when I was merely 22-23 years old. In Goa, being self-employed and largely deprived of my kind of friends, doing things by myself really became a way of life without much thought or choice even. But this feels different. Of a deliberate choosing, not coming from rebellion, minus any guilt, not as a fall out of some rejection or another. But from a place of a deep and simple need that has shown up, asking to be seen.

The gifts of solitude, whether in an indulgent, luxurious getaway of some kind or simply enjoyed eating rasam-rice out if a bowl in bed — you do you and choose what you will — are seriously underrated. And somewhat lost, and just diluted in what has become the predominant narrative around self-care these days. It isn’t about buying stuff and experiences and consuming more to feed the capitalist machine that’s profiting from our angst and collective efforts to discover ourselves.

Ultimately it isn’t about the meals and drinks consumed alone, or the spa dates or tubs of ice cream. Even as I started there, unknowingly, it has only now become about feeling enough in my own company. Of feeling safe, held and sufficient. Of feeling steady, still and solid in and of myself.

As someone who lamented the lure of loneliness that always lurks in my life, this feels different. This feels new.

On my way to Koshy’s, zipping through traffic on MG Road, thinking these thoughts, I was gobsmacked my a bright blue butterfly that flew right through the auto I was riding! In through one side, fluttered around attacking my face, and out through the other, all while we were scramming through moving traffic in the middle of the city!

If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. This feels like all new growth. And this too is new.

***

Happy and grateful to be in a good streak, physically. Waking up early, feeling energetic, feeling the urge to use my body for more than just getting around, challenging and stretching myself outside the limits I am comfortable with. I said to D this morning, that something has clicked into place for me as far as understanding exercise and what it does for my body goes. And he put it perfectly by saying maybe I have pivoted. Haha.

I think it’s true, though. And it’s what I am grateful for that shift in understanding, because this time around it seems to have come from deep within. Not motivated by only fitness performance alone, or only aesthetics alone. There has been minimal deprivation, plenty nourishment in a mind-body kind of way.

This time around it feels like the outcome of a deeper connection with myself. I’m grateful for this.

Three years ago: Too many words, so here’s a copy out

Eyes that see, eyes that speak

I’m at such an interesting juncture — a point where enough healing and self-work has given me new eyes to see the world differently.

I’ve become so present to just how much the way I see has changed. The way I see the world, what I take in, what I am willing to let slide, and how I react even without words.

It’s in the eyes. Those same eyes that are more able to see difficult truths, than avert it. Eyes that are soft and willing to be shown when I am wrong. Eyes that are porous so things can seep in, come and go, slowly. Eyes that are sharp and unafraid to call a spade a spade, but benign in the face of love. Eyes that speak louder than before, eyes that hide less behind them. Eyes that are vessels of as much information I take in, as I now allow to be put out. Eyes that are flexible and always ready to be surprised.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.

— Mary Oliver

***

Today I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn. The means that have been opening up for me. Technology, and how much it enables through providing channels, connections, communication over distances and so much more that I have leaned on so much this past year to buffer and bolster my learning.

One year ago: It doesn’t matter, put the phone away
Two years ago: Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home
Three years ago: September

Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you

I had a brief exchange with someone a couple of days ago that brought up in full force a latent feeling of hurt and disappointment with people. Specifically of a set of people I felt used me during the Goa years of my life. People I mostly knew online, but who slipped from the virtual into the real in the name of shared interests. People I mistakenly called friends. People I opened my home and life to so (maybe a touch unnecessarily too) willingly. People I realise now preyed on the usefulness of knowing someone who lived in Goa. People who picked my brain effortlessly — for work, for contacts, for information, for inspiration, for help, for connection, for friendship. People who took it all so easily. People who have benefited from my hospitality, my openness, my willingness, my warmth.

People who needed me then, more than they do now. People who dropped me like a hot potato when that phase — and the usefulness — of my life ended.

Because, what use am I now when all I do is blog about a largely personal journey? Only speaking in vague circles. Not posturing at an audience. Not sharing details of any particular interest to anyone. Not giving enough meat to build a steady voyeuristic habit on. Not possessing much coolth by way of social media currency or giving anyone any reason to engage with me. None of the above.

The exchange, and the hurt that followed, didn’t leave me pining for the oddly confused/lost connections (as such situations once did), as much as it made me feel sorry for the naive and simply trusting person that I have been. For being at the receiving end of this, too often for my own liking. For mistaking my own loneliness and need for diversity as the right receptacle for new connections. For mistaking some of those new connections to be something real connections. For trusting. For being used. For feeling hurt.

I’m glad that exchange was quickly followed up with a solid day spent (in a saree!) with S. I chatted with her about this, blinking back tears at one point. Because it reinforced so much about where I’m at, what kind of connection I want and will welcome, and just how impossibly ungrateful people can be. And even as I feel my world expand, my heart open wide, there is a simultaneous bitter truth about the number of people who make it in to that inner world getting smaller and smaller.

I feel grateful for the friends I have at this point in my life. Close friends, acquaintances and everyone else in between. I’m grateful for what I have learned from experiences past, and the ability to now call shit like this out. Even if to myself, even if in retrospect. For knowing what I simply will not stand for anymore.

The more I see how shit people can be, and the ways in which they have exited my life, the more I appreciate those that have remained. Those with whom my relationship has evolved and strengthened. Those who have given me room to be who I am, through the ups and down. Those who watched me go and grow through the last two years either silently from the sidelines, or cheering me on front and centre. Those who have made me feel I have the space and liberty to take as much as I give. Those who allow me to take, even when I don’t have much to give. Those with whom the relationship is larger and way beyond what I am good for or what I have to give.

***

I was talking to S (a different S ahaha!) yesterday and telling her how even though I am in a phase where I feel solid physically and mentally, I seem to be at my most “unproductive” best. My reluctance to do anything at all has reached an all time high, and my inclination to work (actually, to do anything at all beyond the bare minimum required of me right now) is at an all time low. And she echoed it — telling me how her experience was exactly the same during the time of this same course that I am in the thick of.

The more I think about, the more I feel glad for a life that allows all of this. The luxury of staying off work commitments, the choice to dip in and out of family commitments knowing I have their support and backing, a roof over my head that I don’t have to hustle for, a structure and routine that has my space and solitude at the heart of it. It’s enabling a lot more than the obvious.

***

Ran a smooth, steady 7km in the park today. A good pace, a new route, bumping into S after 7 months since I trained with her last. To have her look at me and immediately notice OMG, you’re running! and then to take off and run with her for the rest of the time. Such a good start to my day. I’m grateful for the park, for bumping into S (that’s yet another S! I realised recently that I am surrounded by them!) who took my run from a regular run to a milestone run. My longest outdoor run yet that ended at 7.1km.

One year ago: Warm days filled with sunshine
Two years ago: Boooooook post
Three years ago: 109 kms done

Mediocre

I’ve been sitting with thoughts of what it might be like to be average, mediocre even, at being a practitioner of this work since some new developments earlier this week. N brought it up, gently suggesting What might it be like to just let it go and be mediocre and as we discussed it and I processed it in some manner, I feel something has eased up within. It’s given me permission for some space and distance, some allowance for embracing my own pace in how I engage and assimilate this learning.

It’s become severely apparent to me that even as I set off no this learning this year, with no outcomes in mind, feeling the full flush of learning for learning sake, something about my group, the structure and the way in which I have engaged with it all has triggered the deeply help beliefs of perfectionism, performance and excellence. I realise I have always shied away from overt excellence. When things come easy, I have taken it, but when I have to work hard towards something, I can’t seem to do it with ease, without the pressure of a positive outcome.

Sub-consiously speaking, being average has never been an option. Internally I’ve always been wired to strive to always do exceedingly well. Go all in, all the performance pressure and all (and I’ve silently suffered for it many times right through various stages of my life) or back away completely. Black and white. Fight or flight. It’s the same story.

As I’m now learning, these hardwired responses are invariably trauma responses. And I am absolutely flummoxed as to where they may have come from. I didn’t grow up with the pressures many children in my generation did — pressure to perform, be academically excellent, be engineers/doctors, etc. In fact, I had an upbringing where we were encouraged to just be. So I have absolutely no answers, but I hope to unpack this and understand better over time.

It’s amazing what a mere conversation can sometimes do, because that conversation earlier this week, and a startlingly illuminating conversation with S this morning, triggered by some thoughts post our practice session on the weekend, settled some of these truths in me today.

I feel a deeper dropping into myself, a peeling off of yet another layer I didn’t know existed. And I feel ready to re-embrace the idea that there is no deadline, prescribed timeline, and most importantly of all — no desired outcome of me. This was so crucial because I have been struggling with how the pace and stretch of the learning has been sometimes at cross-purposes with my own slowing down. The two have collided more than once, leaving me confused, sometimes guilty for not doing enough, and fearful about a possible consequence.

Today’s conversation was important in reinforcing the idea that I am in this for me. For however and whatever I choose to make of and do with this learning. That I can breathe and take it slow. And so if that means there’s a possible fall out in terms of not meeting a deadline, a “stellar” outcome or a level of excellence, I finally feel ready to see what that might be like.

I know I’ve talked a lot about being mediocre, but I realised this week I don’t know jack about being mediocre. I simply like the idea of it, from a distance. As I get closer to actually practicing it, it is terrifying as fuck. But the good news is I am more willing to give it a try than ever before.

***

I am continuously amazed and thrilled by how never-ending and loopy self-development is. A deeply personal journey that has so many points of resonance with the world I engage with. A constantly unravelling scroll, revealing newer nuance and deeper detail as we go along. This process of dropping deeper within, discovering myself in such an intimate way. It has been so, so, so enjoyable. I’ve reached a place where therapy is now exactly that — an enjoyable path of discovery. Sure, it’s pock marked with many downright frightening discoveries, lots of tears and snot, opportunities to dive into the deep end. But it has never been so exciting.

Earlier this week after therapy, when I was marvelling at the beauty of this constantly deepening journey with so many wins and milestones and success, but no apparent end, I was reminded of this Cheryl Strayed quote from an essay in Tiny Beautiful Things (that essay is also where this powerful sentence that’s impacted me so deeply came from):

Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

And to that last sentence, I want to add, of yourself first.

One year ago: Take a deep breath (Bruges. Day 3.)
Three years ago: Control issues