Just wait and watch

There is a silence is creeping up inside of me again.

Conservation, perhaps? A sudden self-consciousness of what articulation is necessary and what really isn’t? A luxury of waiting and watching. A need for quiet, most of all.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: On desire (and listening in)
Three years ago: Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Five years ago: Fairy lights

Food for my soul

There’s no satisfactory explanation for why I have been waking up earlier than usual and beginning my day with cooking. Despite us eating practically just one meal a day. No good reason why I am choosing to embark on complex recipes for layered pulaos that require berries, blanched pistachios and fried onions, at 8 am on a Saturday morning. It’s the only reason why I have been sending VC off to buy me some hot chips every now and then. Also why I go to bed with a mental list of groceries or veg I might need to step out to buy the next day, all because I have a plan to make something very specific. So far it has ranged from aforementioned berry pulao, palak paneer, spaghetti bolognese and chaat. And then there is the ever expanding wishlist in my brain, of things to eat in the near future — including a delicate selection of things that can be cooked at home and some that will have to be ordered from a favourite restaurant.

Tonight, we ate chaat for dinner.

Yes, I’m at that stage of the lockdown brain where food — and all things connected to the making and consumption of it — are turning out to be a big grounding crutch in my days. And while I don’t know how I went from eating lean smoothies and leafy salads and hearty meals to this, I’m just giving in at this point. No questions asked.

Five years ago: Distressed, but thankful

When nothing makes sense anymore

Some days I manage to hit stop on the need to find answers. I don’t need to figure it out, make sense, feel the feelings, process everything that’s not making sense right now. Many days I let go of the need to be a better version of myself. There is no better. There is no version. There is only me. All of me. Now. As I am. In this crazy, broken world. And there is no way to have the right answers, make all the right sense and have the right reactions right now.

Some days it’s okay to hit stop and take a break. Catch the breeze. Stare out into nothingness. Drink too much of your favourite drink. And sleep it off.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Healing can sometimes feel counterintuitive
Two years ago: Content
Three years ago: I’ve been saving this time
Five years ago: Inside-out 

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

Flowing

My amma turned 60 on the weekend, and we had the privilege of making it over to be with them not just on the day, but the weekend and a few days after too.

It feels both surreal and perfectly in sync to witness this milestone. On the one hand, I remember my grand mother’s (her mother) 60th like it happened not too long ago. Even though it was nearly 25 years ago. And I have also watched my mother gracefully ease herself into this decade, belying the actual number in so many ways.

Recently, when discussing their relationship with their mother, a client said to me:

I’ve learned that a river cannot flow if it is in conflict with it’s source.

and I had one of those moments that therapists/healers are known to have — when a client says something that feels and looks like a mirror held up in one’s own face, and in fact to the depths of one’s own soul. Sometimes a client conversation heals, and settles something in me.

I use “conflict” very differently from the conventional, most obvious sense of the word here. I have spent too many years trying to move away and carve my own space in being where I am. But the last 4-5 years have been about returning to my source in more ways than one. And oddly, it is in this collapse, this return, this re-nesting as an adult that I have found the strength to be my own whole self.

There couldn’t be a more apt way to put it. And to witness amma hit this milestone felt like a moment to record, to recollect and look back on all that I have received from her as a mother, a woman and an immense source of support, joy and life itself.

One year ago: On missing the offline life
Five years ago: Blend

Throbbing with the audacity of life

Butterflies have been showing up a lot lately. Literally, flying through my living room, and figuratively in crucial messages that I need jogged back to the fore for.

Earlier this week, I mentioned the same butterfly analogy in a reading and almost immediately the butterfly that’s been making a dialy appearance flitted into my living room not far from where I was sitting, ambled around and casuallyflew out again. Almost like an affirmation. An iridescent blue affirmation with white, close-set speckles that scream YES YES YES! like a choir.

The next day, I saw the same fellow in my kitchen. Trying to make it out a closed window. So I watched for a while, and then opened the window, to let him go.

The next day, he was back again. Probably trying to find, or had already found, a spot somewhere in our home to make a home, I thought.

Again, I spotted him the next day. Basically I spotted him everyday for a week.

We came away to my folks’ today. got here mid morning, and this happened in the evening.

I spoke of a death cycle recently. And all week I have been given this representation of life after death. So finally, I see it. I get what this is about. It feels like a massive, resounding yes, throbbing with the audacity of life.

I so see it.

One year ago: Poof 
Two years ago: Plant babies
Three years ago: You know it used to be mad love 

You are allowed to feel

The other day I was looking back at the last year feeling a bit shocked at how far I’ve come with the tarot and family constellations practice, because honestly, this was not the plan. I didn’t really have a fixed plan, to be honest, but I know how far off from this point I felt at the start of last year (pre-covid). I was excited, but also nervous about beginning anew. Putting myself out there. Taking on the responsibilty of other peoples wellbeing. And so I had decided to take baby steps, in the company of my peers, holding hands and gathering support from classmates from my course. We’d decided to work together because none of us was ready to go solo. I was also not ready to go online.

The only loose “plan” was to go slow and take as long as I needed to, to take off and fly on my own. Somehow, the pandemic pushed me into the deep end of both those outcomes that I hadn’t prepared myself for. There are times when jumping intp the deep end happens organically, and you don’t feel the resistance as much. Things just snowballed for me from there on.

Looking back the other day, I counted and realised I have held space in 300 sessions. It’s been a week of feeling quite grim about the reality our country is going through at this present moment. And this felt like a silver lining for me. An unexpected outcome from an otherwise very shitty year. And the irony of it: a year of building many personal milestones and gains, while the world is breaking in so many ways, was not lost on me.

I’d be lying if I said I chose to move into this line of work only for the greater good and to be of service to people around me. It is merely one reason of many others. If I’m being completely honest, one of the big reasons I continue to do this work is that it brings so many gifts my way. Big and small, simple and complex, silent and booming. And there have been many (metaphorical) gifts. I was buoyed by the circumstances that played out last year. I profited from the incredible mental health challenges that cropped up in full. I cannot shy away from this.

There is quite nothing like receiving an unexpected message like this (pictured above) that slips into my WhatsApp messages, many weeks after a session. A client’s reflections in-process, looped back to me, that somehow offered me permission on a week full of feelings.

Lately I’ve seen my work morph slowly. I’ve felt quite loudly encouraged to tap into my other skills and bring them into sessions. By going where I’m being guided to, I’ve found seamless natural extensions. Working with words, written expression, images, stories and tales we hold, bringing memories to life suddenly feels like the most obvious thing. My life and identity as a writer that I had put in deep-freeze has found a new avatar, and reason to come out of hiding again.

The past couple of years have been a long-drawn death cycle for me. Even as new beginnings consistently sprouted in many aspects of my life, the overarching theme has been a slow, slow, painful death and a facing of the resultant darkness and emptiness that comes after. Death cycles do that — they strip way any manner of illusions of safety, pushing us towards the truths. Some that we know and shy away from embodying, and many that we are completely blind to.

It is like burning down a field after a cropcycle. In turning everything to dust and ashes, so it may bear fruit again. There is potential in that destruction. Hope in that death. Space, in that nothingness.

Stepping into this expansiveness sounds liberating, but is very frightening and often painful. It’s comes with quintessential bittersweetness — grieving the ends, death, finishing and letting go of so much, and stepping into new beginnings, new ground, new ways of being that are completely unfamiliar and will take a lot of getting used to.

BUT, OMG THE FREEDOM HERE. Now.
It is delicious. It is vast. It is open.

And so when I received this message and picture from a client last week, it took me back to our session earlier in February this year. I noticed how much has changed even in the short time since then. Around me, yes. But within me too.

I’m enjoying letting the edges of the process of my work that I’ve held on to so tightly as a guiding light so far, blur ever so slightly. It’s nice to trust my instincts that are gently goading me to allow my other capabilities to bleed, one in to another. It’s wonderful to be able to add to my work with tarot and family constellations, bravely. To go in without any fixed plans, and see new directions emerge as they are meant to. To trust. And to enjoy the emerging process.

One of the fundamental lessons from death has been to really understand that while I make conscious choices in my outer life, there is a lot that happens on the inside that is always guiding me, luring me, showing me what’s good, what’s right for me. This is entirely out of my consciousness. The work has been only in tuning in, learning to listen, and humbly respond with surrender, smallness and grace.

To go where I am led. It is what I have been doing this year. Who knows what leaving the shores and swimming free holds for me. I’m being mindful not to make a destination out of this, or to feel like I have arrived, and my work here is done. I’m just eternally grateful for the many resources that have come together to bring me here, and now that I am here I’m ever so grateful for people like these — friends, clients, both — who are brave to swim along with me.

One year ago: Slow, scary change
Three years ago: Doesn’t mean I’ll stop
Five years ago: Dawn to dusk

Haathi Time

In January, the forest was lush, green and overgrown. Mornings were snappy, with a cool wetness in the air. The light dappled through, casting lacy shadows all over. Venture out early enough and a mysterious fog clung close to the ground, making every broody and eerie. You just felt and knew it was winter.

Now, just three months on, nearing the peak of summer, it’s a scene from a different chapter.

A mess of largely naked trees, woody browns, earthy tones, dry and open. Everything sparse and spaced out, nowhere to hide. Punishing heat and all signs of awaiting a period of restoration to come.

In the midst of the vastly dry, waning cycle of the life in the forest, these Amaltas are the late bloomers. Showing up unannounced, late to the party, and making themselves seen. Bursts of yellow here and there, taking you by surprise, giving you that much needed respite.

And then, the icing on the cake. In the midst of this largely barren landscape, we spotted an elephant.

Day made.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Make way for hope
Three years ago: I got mad, mad love
Five years ago: Space

Rest easy

When I have adequately tended to and cared for the vulnerable parts of me, I allow the overactive parts, that work hard to numb and hide them, to rest. And when they rest, I have more life to spend on living than merely existing. My days are bright and my life feels harmonious.

Not a tarot message. Just me marking a delightfully happy evening with VC in the yellow evening light of our home, conversation and much laugher, that affirmed this truth.

One year ago: Sweet relief
Two years ago: Happy days
Three years ago: You’re beautiful, it’s true

Moved

I am so easily moved to tears lately. It’s not a new, being moved. But allowing the emotion to flow without stifling it is certainly very new.

Things that have brought me to tears in the last few weeks:

  • The finishing moments on some days of Caroline Girvan’s Epic I. She is a warrior, so inspiring and such a healthy approach to strength over slimness and I delight in how I am slowly being able to do things I always pushed aside for not wanting to struggle.
  • So many, many moments on the new season of Drive to Survive
  • Ronnie and Barty’s channel, with the overwhelming views of snow capped mountains, high altitude sunlight and tall coniferous trees, just make me watch with tears streaming. You can sample the most recent one here, the most of which I watched through a teary gaze.
  • Some weeks ago I went to a play, for the first time in over a year of course. Socially distanced, and all. The hall was barley full, and it was a poignant,  but funny play. Dark comedy, if you will. But even before it began, when the lights went down and the spotlight on the opening scene came on, I welled up into an overwhelming river of tears that would just not stop. I realised it was just the visceral experience of being in a public space and enjoying something in the company of other bodies that did it. I have never been so grateful for my mask, which did a fantastic job of hiding half my face and soaking up snot.
  • Yesterday I went to an art show at CKP. And again, I got goose bumps walking through the gallery and felt very touched to be consuming art in a public space again. I have missed this so much. Now all I need is a night of dancing, or a live gig. When I think about it, I feel a bodily craving for it. This was the last memorable one.

One year ago: The birds
Two years ago: Mostly nothing
Five years ago: Pieces of peace

Moving ahead

One of the most gentle but impactful shifts in my thinking last year was to really shed the idea that my low points are an indication of having moved backwards in self-awareness. I realised at some point last year that this thinking was also deeply rooted in perfectionism, and holding myself up to an unreal, terribly high expectation, and worst of all — needing to have it together and be a projection of someone who consistantly “moves ahead”.

I don’t know when specifically what shifted to change this, but suddenly I don’t know what “moving ahead” even means anymore. What feels more empowering is to notice the low points and how I hold myself, react and move through them. And it is only when I started looking at things in this way that I realised how much has actually changed, and how whole and healthy I feel.

What feels like progress is knowing so deeply that I cannot judge myself for what I think or feel when I am going through a low or turbulent time. That if anything, I need to be the kindest I can possibly be to myself at such a time. It is in giving myself permission to falter as much as I need to, and instead being aware of my emotions and thoughts as I do.

It has made an enormous difference to the quality of my life. It isn’t that my life of I have changed, as much as it is that my gaze, my lens and my way of seeing my life, myself, has changed. Being kinder to myself, my mind, my body has felt like the truest act of love lately. And it moves me and fills me with an immense strength to just think about how much I can be there for myself.

One year ago: Lockdown things/thoughts/shenanigans
Five years ago: Fitter and stronger than before

Threads coming into the light

Vignettes of my life these days are beginning to look very similar. Not just in content, but shades and elements, there is a theme or a thread that unconsciously emerges. I’m having a fun time picking up on it in retrospect. And noticing when and how the threads change ever so slightly.

I’ve been drawn to the play of light, shadows and hidden shapes and lines lately. And it’s brought up a host of thoughts around my shadow, and given strength to the efforts to live in the light.

One year ago: Of love and longing
Two years ago: Baffling Benaras
Three years ago: Everyday is blue Monday

Life and light

Being self employed, working from home since pre-pandemic times has meant building a routine around having nowhere to go. Our days swing between waking up and getting straight to work on busy days, and sometimes having the luxury to lounge about.

Lately, we’ve been trying to advance our time of rising. Slowly, without being too rigid with myself, I have been waking up 5-10 minutes earlier. It’s not because I have anywhere to be, it’s more because I like to have the luxury of moving slowly. And gradually, this has become a loved part of my slow mornings. To wake up, brush my teeth and still have nearly a whole hour to either just sit in the sun, to read or write, or finish the unfinished episode of whatever I was watching the previous night, as I drink my hot water; even before I get going for the day.

To begin the day slowly, mindfully. To have space and silence. To catch the morning sunlight. To be in the comfort of that has come to mean a lot lately, and it’s one of the things I am very grateful for, to have control over our schedules, how we work and having nowhere to report to at the start of every day.

One year ago: What progress looks like these days
Two years ago: Back to base
Five years ago: Pretending to be brave

Just when the time is right

Sometimes you have to go away. Indoors, inwards, in the shade.
To slow down, germinate, conserve.
To hide away from the light.

And when it’s time, you have to also get out
into the sun.
To thrive. To feel flush with life.
To own your true colours.
To feel alive.

But only in time.

***

I haven’t had my plants back home since October when I went away to Goa and I took them to my parents’ place where they’d be watered and cared for. I came back in November but since I was returning to Goa in just three weeks for over a month, I didn’t bother carting all 50+ pots back to mine again.

I returned in January, but made two trips to Wayanad, and took my time to fall back into my rhythm at home. And I have had an insane eight weeks since, filled with work that didn’t give me the peace and pause I had all through last year to tend to and focus on my plants.

The feels are slowly creeping up on me again. I began sorting the few pots I have at home, this weekend. In anticipation and preparation for bringing the rest of the fam back home.

Went over to my parents and noticed my fiddle leaf fig is beyond thriving. More than it ever did at my home. She barely ever sprouted out new growth. I tried everything — different watering routines, moving her back and forth from the light and shade. But she mostly just hung out in. a corner of my living room, by the window, soaking in the sunlight and listening to the motivating things I’d whisper to her every morning, in the hope that she found the encouragement to put out a new leaf now and then. But she really took her time. Don’t get me wrong, she looked good and she was alive and kicking. Just reluctant to grow.

She’s been over at my mum’s for over three months now, along with the rest of my balcony garden. When I returned, I noticed not one, but two new sprouting leaves. I really couldn’t believe my eyes because I hadn’t seen even a hint of I in all the months I’ve had her.

I whopped with joy, but also inwardly chuckled to myself. She’s a bit like me, this fiddle leaf fig. Needs all the goodness of sunshine, adequate water and good food, I guess. But sometimes even all the nourishment, encouraging words and perfect conditions are not enough. And what is actually necessary is a simple change of scene. To get out and go hangout elsewhere. Play. Breathe a different air. And most importantly, a break from all the fussing and waiting for change, for something to happen.

Things happen, when they need to. When the time is just right. I’ll learn and re-learn this lesson a 100 times, but nothing drives it home like plants do.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Everyday grief
Two years ago: Slow row
Three years ago: Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say
Five years ago: Small joys