Back to basics

Things that have helped immensely these past 2 weeks:

  1. Working out at least 5 times a week, getting so close to finishing Caroline Girvin’s Epic I!
  2. Not fighting the urge to take an afternoon nap.
  3. The unexpected twist of fate that’s brought more constellations than tarot sessions my way, lately.
  4. Ordering in on the weekends.
  5. Chips.
  6. Watering my plants everyday.
  7. Video calls.
  8. Summer fruit, drinkable lunches.
  9. Accepting that it’s okay to just get by for now, without any larger achievements to write home about.
  10. Home and having VC around.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: The Establishment vs The Self
Three years ago: Please don’t go
Five years ago: Summer evenings — 2 

Another one has come and gone

For the second year in a row, a birthday in lockdown, spent with these two.

I was extremely bummed about the former, but I can’t complain about the latter. At all. Because I am safe, healthy, at home, with access to most luxuries I need. Two cakes arrived at my home, one each from both sets of parents. Plenty, plenty phone calls and messages. A handwritten/handpainted note from my sister. A very lavish meal of dimsum, nasi goreng and other Asian fare courtesy VC. Lots of polaroid shenanigans. And even though I spent the day finding it quite hard to feel celebratory as I always do on my birthday, I went to sleep with a warm, full heart.

Gratitude as always, but perhaps more this year than before, for the little things. I truly felt the impact of how much it is the little things that matter, not the large overtures, more than the outlandish actions, definitely not the expensive outings, gifts and what have you.

Two years ago: A seed of life
Three years ago: Acts like summer and walks like rain
Five years ago: Turning 32 and the salt water theory

Butterfly

This past week, I had many a moment where I felt immensely grateful. For many things, but mostly for just one thing that probbaly encapsulates everything else: for being alive.

In current circumstances, this is an obvious thought. And it came to me too. Again and again, in so many ways. Several times as a thought laden with emotion, twice in my dreams, and also in the unfolding of events that put me face to face with some developments in my life.

There is a constant stream of reminders of aliveness, of liveliness and the energetic and billowing push that I feel towards life. And again, I see it. I see it all. I acknowledge it. I take it and make it a part of my life, as I am today. Even in these seemingly standstill times, I feel this thrust, teeming with movement, propelling me on to level up.

And I’m absolutely here for it.

One year ago: Wild and free
Two years ago: Vulnerability and validation
Five years ago: Birthday weekend in progress

I am small

I have been so, so, so lucky to have so much opportunity for safe retreat while much of the world is still indoors, and our country is outdoors, but dangerously so. An oddly soothing message that I have been getting over and over these past two months (not surprisingly) always while being amidst nature:

I am small. The world is big.

It has been humbling, fulfilling and very, very comforting to thaw out and find my own place, shape and size in the world, in this gentle way. And in doing that, to acknowledge the place of the larger natural world I inhabit.

I cherish the pockets of quiet and nourishment that I’ve had in the latter part of 2020, going into 2021. I’m so grateful for how much I am able to be in the natural world. And I am so amazed at how much that regulates and brings in to balance everything within me.

One year ago: Fitness in 2020
Two years ago: An inalienable joy of meeting grief
Five years ago: Bengloor-life banter

Alive, in my body

I am this breath. I am this moment. I am this life.

I am supported. I am loved. I am alive.

Excessively grateful for R and his daily workout routine that gives me the much needed dose of motivation to jumo out of bed and show up on my mat. My self-motivation ran dry three months ago and if I didn’t have a daily, solid physical practice like this to engage with and literally hold all of the emotions I am processing in this container that is my body, I might have not been in as balanced and safe a space as I am now.

It’s nice not to have to think of what to do to move and stretch myself, and just be told, listen and move accordingly. It’s nice not to have a fixed time to smash the workout out. It’s nice to have a group to do it with. It’s nice to be stretched by someone who has more faith in my capabilities than I have in myself.

One year ago: Gratitude and love
Two years ago: I kinda feel like I saw the light

If I had to do 2020 over

Wordless appreciation post for these two humans, that have stayed by my side, even when I didn’t ask for or express that I needed it.With whom I have unknowingly, unintentionally journeyed (literally and metaphorically) and grown (literally and metaphorically) in so many ways this year.

It was a year that pulled me away from all humans. Physically, of course. But also mentally and emotionally. I have withdrawn more than I saw it coming. My only other support, my parents who are otherwise just next door, and who I unwittingly lean on, are now in another state. My inner circle has dwindled down to just these two.

Even with all the utter rubbish 2020 brought our way, I’m super grateful these two were my constants — punching bag and body pillow, alike.

(What, year end thoughts coming already?!)

Two years ago: Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend
Four years ago: October

Greens

All the different kinds of greens I’ve seen.

This was lunch one afternoon. Everything on my plate was home grown.

Evening walk pitstop. So green. So chill.

Morning walk abandoned quarry explorations with these two.

Kind of ridiculous that this is our backyard. Alternating between pinching myself to come back to reality and feeling very, very grateful.

One year ago: Mediocre
Two years ago: Take a deep breath
Four years ago: Control issues

The hidden life of trees

So, I decided to break my boredom with home workouts and desperate missing of the gym, by braving the outdoors and resuming running again.

It’s been three days and one whole day of severely sore legs, but I feel so good.

It’s more than what running does for my body, which in itself is a whole other story. But I’m also beginning to see why being outdoors in an enveloping tunnel of trees, that are overwhelmingly old and large, surrounded by eye-hurting green views, even as small and limited as they are in a city park, does for me.

It’s a reminder to keep growing. To keep going. Of how strong roots are the key to talk trees. Of age and wisdom. Of a silent judgement-free witnessing. Of the cradle of mother earth. Of the place that energy and the elements have in giving life. Of fertility even in times of destruction. Of survival and enduring.

On Sunday, practically my first real long run since March (because I’m not counting the two failed attempts in May and June), I had a mini cry behind my mask even as I had just entered the parking and started my run. I just felt overwhelmed to be outdoors, for one. But I was also just taken by these large, old trees. Just standing there, watching the world go by, as they have for years now. I also felt a surge of endorphins, and while they’re usually known to induce extreme highs interpreted as happiness I have noticed that they heighten whatever emotion I am allowing myself to feel. That day it was overwhelming gratitude and aliveness.

I have not appreciated trees enough in my life. And that day I realised I have probably not appreciated the trees in Bangalore enough in my life.

They’re becoming reminders for me. Of life and growth. Of swaying with lightness and tenderness, while being powerfully rooted. Of grounding. Of joy and life. Of air and breath.

In the inimitable words of Mary Oliver, who I have realised has woven beauty in words for every goddamn experience, it’s simple.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Stay. Awhile.

One year ago: Brain noodles
Four years ago: Wandering, right here at home

In a funk

It’s just one of those weeks. Where many things I cannot digest too easily have hit me all at once. I have days like this some times. And on those days, I choose the luxury of lying low, staying in and spending my time just being in the fullness of whatever I am feeling. This week, I didn’t have that luxury. Because after three months of a very minimal, home-bound routine, I ventured out and offered my time with volunteering to collect and deliver food to the migrants leaving Bangalore by the thousands every single day.

It was meant to be something I did for a few hours every week, but it very quickly ballooned into a massive operation that consumed me mentally, emotionally and physically. The need is enormous, the situation on ground is far worse than even the most honest media reports will have you believe. And even though I was overwhelmed from the suffering from the get go, I couldn’t get myself to step back.

I didn’t make the connection initially, because the adrenalin that kicked in from the relief efforts took me through most of the week. By yesterday though, my energy was flagging and I crawled into bed at noon, unable to function. Time-wise, I have also had to de-prioritise working out and eating healthy home cooked meals, to compensate for the hours spent working outdoors. These things are my anchors in any given day, and I really felt the effects of having to run on fumes without it.

I haven’t been able to eat a single meal in peace, thinking of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people we have been trying to keep fed and hydrated with bare minimum, collected entirely from neighbourhood mobilisation activities. I could no longer think about elaborate meals, let alone get myself to plan and cook them. I couldn’t put a morsel down my throat without feeling wretched inside.

I’ve been on the phone for more time than I have in a long, long time. I haven’t been able to relax and turn my mind off. My sleep has been shot to bits again. This past week has swept me away and put me in a strange state of mind. On the one hand I am overwhelmed and filled with hope to see how much and how quickly and large-heartedly citizens are willing to give of themselves. From contributions in neighbourhoods, to people galvanising relief efforts, to the team at the sites organising migrants, processing their paperwork and giving them food and drink and setting them off. I am beyond stoked at how much of all of this is being manned and handled by regular, average citizens. With lives and work put on hold, giving so much of themselves to this effort. But on the other, there is no escaping the hopelessness of this situation. I keep thinking how did we let it get os bad? Why weren’t we looking close enough even before the pandemic hit us? Why are we like this?

On the one hand, I feel like involving myself gave me some much-needed relief and channelised all that pent up frustration from months. But on the other, it plunged me quite deeply into a funk. Today, I felt so hopeless, I had a very, very compelling sensation of just wanting to exit my body. Just leave and escape this world. Everything feels so pointless in the face of the mammoth mess we are as a country. And no, there’s nothing, no silver lining and no bright spot, right now that can outweigh the heaviness of what I have seen this past week.

I have not been present to VC at all through all of this. I have had no mental or emotional energy to spare. I have been weepy, crabby, clingy, unreasonable for the most part. But he’s let me be all of it. And I am so grateful to have a home in him to come back to, where I can be as I am. Ugly, messy, imperfect and letting it all fall apart.

On a day like today, with clearly so much going on emotionally, internally, I don’t know what I’d do without this support. Where I can just be, not spoken to, no advice or solace needed (because there is none for a situation like this), just silence and presence. Presence.

One year ago: On boundaries: how they’ve changed my experience of friendship
Two years ago: Stop chasing shadows, just enjoy the ride
Four years ago: How blue?

Recharged

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year, really.

It’s been a week since I left home, and it feels like a lifetime has passed in my mind, during this time.

Feeling at home so deep in my bones, in my place, with a solid sense of belonging, is a truly unparalleled experience.

There have been worlds of thoughts marinading and being very slowly processed in my mind.

Thoughts about the power of truth snd conviction.

Thoughts about being impossibly heartfully connected, even as I find healthy separation.

Thoughts about how months of cultivating a healthy container seems to be giving rage a new kind of outlet.

Thoughts about an all new adult kind of definition of settlement.

I hope to unpack this slowly for myself over the next few days.

Thank you to this corner of Wayanad we now call home. Thank you for filling me up on ways I don’t yet have words for. But I will get there. For now, I’m Back on home turf, recharged and raring to go.

Two years ago: Here I go again (on my own)
Three years ago: 2016
Four years ago: In-bloom

To Mysore and

…back to the wild.

In four vignettes.

8 am at home.

11 am on the road.

1 pm at Mysore Railway Station.

4 pm en route back home.

Mandatory picture of parental unit, as seen in my adulthood, on a road trip rushing through just-planted paddy fields in that golden 4 o clock sunlight.

It’s a bit overwhelming, that I get to enjoy this peace and quiet, right here in my life without having to getaway or make space for it in anyway. I do have to physically get away to get here, but that suddenly my life is somehow fashioned so this is possible, and possible often kind of amazes me. Even now.

What a privilege and a blessing it is.

One year ago: Inhale. Exhale.
Two years ago: What is life
Four years ago: Reminders and notes to self.

Curtain call

 

New Year’s Eve has been something of a non event for years now. But this year we may have dropped even lower. And something tells me I could get used to the go-nowhere, do-nothing new year’s eve of this kind.

Snapshots from yesterday’s evening walk through the village, VC stopping for pictures and my father stopping to say hello to every single person we met.

We walked all along the river side for a good one hour, VC changing his mind and turning back halfway through.

Happy to be closing the year spending theseast few days (and the next few) in simpler ways and a slower pace.

We’ve had splendid sunsets for two days now. I hope today is spectacular too.

2020, I’m ready for you.

One year ago: December
Two years ago: Crossing over
Three years ago: December

Sunset

I had my last session of therapy for the year today and it was such a good culmination of the work I have done since I resumed again just over a year ago.

Today, as we talked about where I’m at — the cusp of a new unfolding in possibly every different space in my life — I had a moment of almost disbelief at the way in which I was even holding myself and articulating the things that I was.

Today, I reiterated and reaffirmed to myself the uniqueness of my own journey, the need to honour my pace and place, without judgement or measuring it up against anything or anyone else.

Today, I felt like I turned yet another corner in my becoming.

***

The fundamental building blocks of doing things to please others (and in that way make myself agreeable to them) because of the firmly held belief that doing things to please me will inevitably and always be “too much” for them to take, or might make them upset, or unhappy, or confused, or hurt, are shifting. This has been an unsaid code and way of being in my family. Especially for generation after generation of women.

In moving out from that space, that way of being, I have had to slowly let the foundations — those very fundamental building blocks that decide how I will be in the world — slowly crumble and fall away. There is no rebuilding new and healthier foundations without undoing the unhealthy, unsafe and unstable ones that have held me so far.

There is tremendous power in doing this. The proverbial endpoint seems promising,  liberating and great. And it is. But the journey to there is seldom uniformly great. It is downright painful, difficult, isolating and harrowing even. Milestones and in fact many important pivotal moments along the way are often the ones that have left me shaken up to my core and like I have lost the very ground beneath my feet.

But one of the most powerful experiences I have had this year is of letting myself crash and drop so low, allowing myself the ability to dive and sink to depths so low, and meet vulnerabilities so raw and deep that the only way from there has been up.

And the person I am today, as the year draws to a close, definitely feels like a transformed version of the person I was at the start of this year. I am ending the year feeling solid from within. Truer to myself, more in touch with my body and emotions, and very, very unafraid of seeing and holding my vulnerabilities

It’s true what they say. True strength only comes from being intimately and ruthlessly honestly in touch with those deepest fault-lines that exist in all of us. If only I learned earlier that there is no glory in that outward facade of strength and powering-through facade that comes at the cost of bypassing real pain that is asking to be seen and heard.

Today, I felt extra gratitude for all those whose help and support I have sought and leaned on during this time. Fellow truth-seekers, truth-tellers, some professionals whose work it is to help shine a light in spaces we are unable to journey alone, some friends and confidants who have offered everything from a kindred spirit, silent holding of space when I’ve been in the lows and cheered me on through my highs. All the people who have joined me on and off along the way, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes leading, sometimes being led by me, sometimes holding up a mirror or a light, sometimes stopping momentarily and letting me go on so I can journey those necessary parts on my own.

Meeting myself has been equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but I hold close those moments that I have been in touch with recently, the real fruit of all these years of an inward journey — moments where I have felt in love with myself. It has been life-giving like drinking sweet, sweet nectar. And somehow it makes all the heaving difficulty, the bouts of pain and loneliness so worth it.

What a ride.

One year ago: Be kind to the growing mind
Three years ago: Rewind

Away and around

Ever so grateful for the vast expanses of this country that offer sights, smells and sounds so removed from what one gets used to, day in and out.

Three years ago: Cutting the fat

Gratitude and love

Just gratitude today.

For flow. For life.

For excellent therapy. For movement. For learning to hold myself through the depths of despair, so I can soar to the skies with just as much ease.

For safety and opportunity, in the face of these difficult times so many of our fellow countrymen are facing.

For being the object of love and affection from my family and some friends.

For work and the new way in which it is manifesting in front of me.

For the unseen kindnesses I routinely receive. For the unabiding way in which no matter what happens, things move on.

One year ago: Love in a thousand different flavours