Day 309: The rest is up to you, you make the call

The #metoo updates have been consistently triggering for me. Much as I have tried to measure how much information I am taking in, I find myself drawn by the seething rage and the collective bubbling over of the resistance to silence with mind-boggling numbers of women continuing to bravely speak up. The last month has felt like the unclogging of a long-blocked pipe, and there is just no stopping it now. I’m enraged, yes, at the sheer extent of the extreme atrocities, violence and exploitation women have put up with for decades and decades. But I am also flummoxed, watching from the sidelines, at the uniform confidence and entitlement male predators possess. Across the board. I’ve watched as so many communities that I have belonged to or engaged with at some point — advertising, journalism, tech companies, the dance and music fraternity — have had so many of their star men and heroes fall. I have felt deep empathy and connection for every single story from every single woman, and a growing sense of blinding rage at how much we are all in this together. Every story (and there have been oh, so many!) that sounds eerily similar to a experience I have had has driven home the truth about how the casual and brazen this violence and exploitation is. How much this  tendency to take advantage of women has been normalised. For us, and by us. And just how much of it has continued to grow and be strengthened by our silence.

But it was this clever little comic that hit closest home for me, bringing back a flood of memories from the time when my trainer came on to me in a way that violated my personal space and consent, left me confused about what I might have done to bring it on, wondering whether he was really being inappropriate or just doing his job as my trainer, and most of all gripped me with worry and fear about whether speaking up would mean having to stay away from and essentially give up what was actually the best form of exercise I had ever experienced.

This was too powerful, nuanced, familiar and clever not to share. I hope you’ll pass it along, far and wide.

One year ago: Hotel hangover
Two years ago: Day 309: Invitation

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Day 272: Say, say, say, hey, hey now baby

Amsterdam. Day 3.

It’s been ten whole days since we left India and finally I’m craving a good hot frothy sugarless filter coffee. Even though the frothy hot chocolate I’ve been having everyday (sometimes twice!) Has been excellent. I could also do with some veggies that are not lettuce and tomatoes. The food has been stupendous on this trip. We’ve had everything from local favourites wherever we stayed to fancy Italian and picnics in the park, overstuffed cheese platters, Lebanese, Asian and even so much dessert! I can’t think of a single meal that disappointed me, honestly. And that’s not just my easily-satisfied side speaking. Even so, it’s time for some veggies, I think. And some cold home-set dahi. Those are the basics. And I guess I’m that person who will in cliche fashion want those basics after ten days in a continent that loves white flour.

***

Im most surprised at not getting any reading done. I knew this was going to be a high activity, lots of getting out kind of trip. Even with all the walking, I’d assumed there’d be lots of lazy spaces and pockets of time — a day in the park, some hours ago a coffee shop, an evening by the sidewalk — where I could read. You see, that’s typically what I do on holiday. But this one has been so dramatically different. And in such a refreshingly new way — to be out and about in three different countries in such a short time — I’ve observed, internalised and learned so much just from watching. And like I said before, I’ve been so full with the experiences that I haven’t felt the urge to reach out or need a change of pace.

***

We have walked so, so much. That was a given when we planned this trip. Even so, the amount of traversing we finally have done has been overwhelming. We bought day passes for the trains, buses and trams everywhere and virtually took no cabs. This is a first for us.

The other thing I’ve watched with amazement is how we’ve so easily skipped one me everyday. Either breakfast or lunch depending on how we’ve felt at the start of the day. This was done for no other reason than that all things edible here come in such generous portions, the meals we have eaten have been large and sumptuous. Even with all the walking about we’ve eaten two big meals a day and felt completely fine.

***

This trip has really rekindled the explorer variety of travel that I thought I was done with. I was definitely in a space where all holidays were about winding down and relaxing, but this time I outside my own expectations of myself by exploring every place we went to. Doing it on foot probably added to the experience, because there’s something about getting a grasp of the place on foot that’s unparalleled.

This has also meant a lot of wistful longing for my 20s. Seeing my friends in Europe, with the life and opportunity for so much we can never dream of in India made me really think about how I might do my 20s over if I had the chance. Seeing them reminded me of dreams I’ve let go of and just pass me by as inaccessible because of the way life has come to me.

I have a deep longing to fulfill some of those forgotten dreams of travel and living. But on the other hand, getting out like this without a plan and seeing how easy it has been to navigate the place On my own has also infused me with a new excitement that maybe I will make up for lost time in my 30s.

This is movement for me. And it really made me warm and fuzzy with new eye and virgin excitement, like the world is my oyster right now. The months ahead literally have so many options open. VC has been throwing very tempting life plans at me, planting multiple seeds of possibility and I’m stunned at how longing for lost time quickly becomes excitement for the time I have. This is definitely a movement towards a healthier space.

Two years ago: Day 272: I am eager

Day 269: Take a deep breath

Bruges. Day 3.

What does it really mean to pause, when presented with the opportunity, unexpectedly, out of line?

The process of becoming has so much more silent staying than moving. The becoming happens almost in micro-mini movements. It can only be felt and known in the pauses.

This holiday, in the most unexpected way, is testing my capacity to let go of the need to get out and get moving and forcing me to choose staying in spaces I thought I couldn’t.

I’m trying to trust the uncertainty. The tentative, slow steps. Quite often it is when things are uncertain, that anything is possible. And I have not been too good at waiting to give that a chance.

Hold on to your dreams.

Day 253: Shine a little light on me

Plot twist.

As much as the process of shedding the old and stepping into the new feels one must discard the old entirely, I’m beginning to see the subtle difference between acknowledging what’s old and no longer serves me well, giving it a good place in this process; and turning my back on it completely. All those parts I’ve grown out of, were still me after all.

Maybe growth and evolution doesn’t have to involve rejection of the old, but simply a healthy honouring of the way things used to be, and a happy acceptance of the way they are now.

I’ve often wondered, and I’ve written about it too somewhere on this blog before (cannot for the life of me find the post now), about where our old selves go to die, when we scrub off the layers and move closer to the truth of what lies within.

Of late, I’ve realised they don’t go anywhere to die at all. They find a place within us, settling into the background and letting newer, younger selves emerge. Younger, relevant and current selves that are roaring and alive, raring to go. Current selves who have been lying in waiting for their time to come.

I’m finding (albeit with a little difficulty) that it is possible to look back on these past selves with a little bit of compassion instead of loathing, or embarrassment, or disgust, or criticism, or all of the above. These past selves, complete with all the not-so-great decisions I might have made, that led me to not-so-great events, not-so-great people choices and the not-so-great ways in which I dealt with it, were the journey that has brought me here, after all.

Inclusion has taken on a whole new meaning, suddenly.

Two years ago: Day 253: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Day 240: Talking about worries and problems, people

Spent some time alone last night. VC was out to dinner. Cooked me a pot of soup from roasted carrots and beets, threw together a mutton curry for VC to take to work today, and settled with a bowl of watermelon salad with cucumbers, pomegranate and feta cheese. All while talking to D about how I seem to be in a rut with the home-kitchen situation, and feel totally devoid of all inspiration. The irony of the situation caught up with me some time later, as I knocked back the last sip of jeera-laced buttermilk.

This is the thing about a time of transition. When change is coming at me from all sides. On a daily level, from the smallest shifts to the larger impending literal future move we’re headed towards. Everything feels overwhelmingly (refreshingly too) new and a bit comfortable and same-same all at once. I don’t know if that even makes sense, but that is how it is. And it is sometimes unsettling.

I take comfort in knowing that I am quicker to notice my slumps or when I am regressing into an old pattern that will likely hold me back. So I am quicker to ask for help or do whatever else I need to steer back, with minimal urge to beat myself up about the slippages.

And yes, there are slippages. Every now and again I find that it is a process of relearning the same things again and again before the next big breakthrough comes around. I like to think of this as practice, and I know it works when the learning comes faster and the frequency of slipping reduces. Also, and this is a biggie, I’m learning to take more leaps of faith. I am taking chances and allowing myself the permission to experience uncertainty far more often, and far more easily than ever before. I am getting better at trusting my intuition and enjoy the process of being in the moment as things unfurl, regardless of the outcome.

Protected: Day 239: Cake by the ocean

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Day 229: You haven’t felt the fire

(And by you, I mean me, of course.)

One of the side effects of discovering a deeper sense of myself has been the frightening reality that I enjoy dressing up and feeling pretty. It has meant allowing myself the luxury of indulging in small things I never thought I could possibly want or love. Things I didn’t even know I could love, simply because I hadn’t considered the possibility long enough to try it. All because of a fixed sense of self that didn’t fully align with things like pink lipstick, red hair, the occasional selfie on a day when I feel good, or even just looking in the mirror and acknowledging that I look and feel really good. All because of a woefully inaccurate and incomplete sense of who I am, and certain other ideologies that I had hastily picked up and imbibed, for no other reason other than that some parts of them sounded nice and aspirational.

I am now having to slowly deconstruct my false beliefs, examine how distorted my sense of self has been so far, and put it all back together in a way that is most authentic to who I am right now. So much of this has meant letting go of beliefs about being a woman I have staunchly held so far. Beliefs that I have partly because of how I was raised, some because of living through my teens and 20s believing I wasn’t cool/pretty/popular enough to every be worthy of the self-indulgence of prettiness and moments of self-assured confidence and vanity, but mostly based on the ideas of feminism that I have exposed myself to.

And so it’s been a fun time of smashing my own shaky foundations, and rebuilding what feels like and is a more wholistic self.

First and foremost, I’ve realised once again (and had it reaffirmed so many times in so many different ways recently) that the very idea of beauty is a social construct. Mostly one created to pander to the tastes and likes of the gender that sits in viewing, in judgement of the other. For far too long, one half of our kind have decided what is deemed pretty, desirable, sexy and so much of that has come at the cost of our comfort and sanity. To be constantly craving being something one is inherently not, and therefore the constant need to reach an (unhealthy) standard of what is beautiful, is taxing as fuck. And yet we wholly owned that fight and make it a large part of what we do day after day after day.

Personally, I have realised that even with a moderate-to-healthy level of self-awareness and self-assuredness, the constant exposure to a range of media and pop culture that screams messages of what is “right” and desirable, has further reinforced a lot of those shaky beliefs. I may have escaped the desire for fair skin wholeheartedly, but I fell hook line and sinker for the strong-is-the-new-skinny aspiration. And it was so easy to believe that was a healthy, even empowering aspiration to have. For over a decade this has shaped the way I viewed everything about myself — my body, my attitude to health and fitness that was ironically downright unhealthy/obsessive, the way I dress, the way I carried myself, my body language and even my sexuality.

I’ve realised how something so seemingly harmless, couched in good intentions, the right messaging has therefore shaped my notion of beauty, my self-worth, ad my notions of my self. But it was only when I realised how may choices I was making/have made are not quite my own but rather a reflection of what I have internalised as attractive, aspirational, that the cracks have become visible.

This year will go down as the year with the least amount of exercise or attention to fitness. In another time, this would have sent me down a spiral. But I wasn’t prepared for how freeing and powerful it has been to let that shit to, and instead watch myself grow. To feel my hips widen, to enjoy watch the cuts and curves of my once muscular body give way to a more curvy body, to experience with fascination, how my body is changing. And to therefore allow for changes in my wardrobe and the choices in the clothes I want to wear. Suddenly, I have found comfort in clothes that fit me, rather than the other way around. There are small joys in pink lipstick and red hair, in bright prints as much as muted staples, in shopping itself (a luxury I eschewed for a minimalism that I now know is not entirely mine).

What an absolutely liberating joy it has been to rediscover a new sense of self that is beautiful. In filling myself up with the solidity of an inner knowing, rather than the wobbly and slippery slope that is external validation. I think I am only now discovering what it means to know a self worth that is rooted in a belief system that is entirely mine, aligned with notions and attitudes that work for (rather than against) me and the person I am growing into. The most beautiful discovery is how this translates into a confidence, a positive body language, a freeing energy about myself. And this has come from building myself ground-up, rooted in a deep knowing what fills me deep in my core.

It has been like meeting myself for the very first time. And what a beautiful meeting it has been.

Two years ago: Day 229: Into the blue

Day 228: Stay and stay a while

For more than one reason, I have found myself contemplating the differences between where/who I was in 2016, and now. I thought life had come full circle when I moved back to Bangalore, but little did I know that it would go right around once again and give me another attempt to do-over something yet again, so soon.

As I contemplate the next chapter in my extremely ordinary life, another relocation and a possible uprooting and an inevitable resettling, I’m a bit taken aback to by how I have moved from the tentative, confused and overwhelmed-by-most-things person I was in 2016 to, how open-to-throwing-myself-at-most-things, very-willing-to-try-anything-once I’ve become now.

in the face of these new developments and new excitements, it is such a thrill to not be gripped by stress at the possibility of all the newness, and instead feel so ready to delve into it and take from its abundance, fully and completely.

Everything changes. Even we do. Provided we allow ourselves to learn, heal and look ahead.

And because I’m so taken by all the fresh newness, here’s a picture I snapped on yesterdays drive, at the exact same spot I snapped it in October, 2017. Wildly green, and so filled with promise.

It’s same-same, but different.

Just like me. Just like all of us.

Two years ago: Day 228: Sunday

Day 171: Let me in, unlock the door

To learning more, and yet doing less.

To ditching the glorification of a unidimensional kind of strong, and embracing softness instead.

To allowing for the hiccups, the stumbles, the loud crashes, instead of walking on eggshells in fear.

To finding comfort in vulnerability and companionship, over keeping my shit together all alone.

To be decidedly soft, in the face of all harshness.

To stay still when it’s needed, and to move, but at my own pace when thats needed.

How’s your Wednesday going?

Two years ago: Day 171: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures of my life

Day 166: Come on, keep me where the light is

Today, in gratitude.

Yoga. I’m closing in on a full month and every day I surprise myself a little more with how much this is feeling right. To just be there, focus on starting and finishing every class, without an eye on the clock (like I used to be at the gym) or watching any kind of number led validation, or watching for “results” or anything else. This is definitely one of the better choices I’ve made this year, after signing up for the course I’m doing.

A week of rain. It’s been such a good week. Finished a long-drawn-out book thanks to the good weather.

Surprise walks about town. I really love central Bangalore — there, I said it. And I’m trying to make the most of it when I am out and about. It helps that there have been plenty trips that side. Between breakfast dates, class and general gallivanting. I took this picture when D and I went to Blossoms last week. Church Street is spanking new and shiny, but it thrilled me to see nothing’s going to keep the hand carts out. This one, laden with summer fruit — lychees, stat fruit, jamoons, ice apples and the like — just seemed like a perfect goodbye to the season.

Koshy’s. One of the few things that I really love about Bangalore. I’m glad I live close enough so I can duck out when I please. This past week I actually found myself there more often than I planned.

Breakfasts out. Quite unknowingly I’ve managed to keep up the get-breakfast weekly habit I wanted for myself. I met M last week and A this week. And already have plans for next week. I didn’t plan for this to necessarily be an outing with company — in fact, I was quite looking forward to a table for one because I just assumed it would be me all by myself — but I’m so grateful for how it’s turning out.

My folks who came back to town over the weekend. Amma, Niyu and I went out for a spot of shopping. We also managed to catch a weekday lunch at Nagarjuna — the four of us — together which is such a rarity. It was fun, rainy out and despite the traffic and the waiting, I am grateful for the time.

The heightened, energy-spike in my aha-moments this past week. Once when I picked up on some seriously bad energy one evening and just couldn’t settle until I had dug deeper and broken it down to get to the bottom of what exactly was bothering me. And second, all day long after meeting A and chatting about the things that we did — it sparked off a whole lot of thoughts for me. I love a conversation that has an impact so hard it lingers long after.

The ease in my conversations with VC. It’s beginning to feel like every time I feel we’ve unlocked a new level in our relationship, there’s something deeper to get to. I am only realising now how much this has been about presenting myself wholeheartedly and authentically to him. He has always been around for me, I’ve had to see it in the way that I do now, and grab my share of it and dive in. This has been an empowering and freeing experience. We’re better together. And I’m equal parts grateful for where we are and excited for where we seem to be going.

Two back-to-back weekends of coursework. As exhausted and mentally depleted as it makes me feel, the heady high of coming out with new insights, new learning is so addictive. I’m grateful for the safety of the circle we’ve created where I am able to fall apart, as well as participate in holding others up with equal ease. It is a privilege and a gift, and by no means a coincidence. I am eternally grateful for this is fast turning into the very reason for spending 2018 in Bangalore.

This gratitude habit itself. Six months in, I know just how much it has impacted the way I am able to operate out of a mostly positive headspace. One, my bank balance has never been this low and yet somehow I’m spending (literally and figuratively) with an ease I’ve never had. It hasn’t stopped me from grabbing the experiences I’ve wanted to. Two, despite the unsettledness of May, I got through it with minimal flare ups. Not because I was bottling it in, but because I’ve been better at recognising and acknowledging what is a blip vs what is an actual shitty experience and dropping shit and moving on with alacrity.

Three, the serendipitous way in which an assignment landed in my inbox. From an unexpected, unlikely source, it ended up being a foray into an area of work I’ve been toying with the idea of exploring. I didn’t know how to get an in. And suddenly there it was.

Four, there is a newfound comfort and balance in experiencing solitude (which sometines subtly slips into loneliness) as well as meeting new people and widening my circle, alike. It’s an inner ease that is taking me through it all — it feels like a strengthening of my core — making me stand comfortably alone when I find myself alone as well as open my heart (I actively volunteered to be in a study group, ffs) to new connections, new groups, when they present themselves.

This palpable abundance in my life — in experiences, people, travel, things too — I feel it every single day. And I’m so aware how it isn’t an outcome of the pursuit of this as stuff as much as it is about finding myself in this intangible bubble of positivity that I actually don’t have the words to express. It transcends physical happenings.

This is probably the first time in my life that I am actively watching myself change, and the fear of the uncertainty and of what I am shedding and leaving behind, is absolutely nil. I’m grateful for that. What an exciting time this is to be able to watch all the pieces of this puzzle as they are slowly falling into place.

Two years ago: Day 166: Just keep swimming

Day 164: Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

Another day. Another breakfast. Another conversation about going back to our roots. To a simpler, pared-down, more gut-driven, mindful way of life. A message (in its various forms and interpretations) that seems to be coming at me from every direction — in things I read, in conversations I’m having, in the choices that are coming up for me, in the things that impact my choosing, in the ways that I am indulging in the choosing — in every single aspect of my life, whether exercise or food or travel or the way in which I am one half of a coupling or the way I feel like my home should run to the way in which I want to be.

Today, once again, a conversation with A reminded me how much the intellectualised narratives we expose ourselves (and unconsciously, unquestioningly internalise and make our own) to can add to the chatter in our minds and the muddled sense of right and wrong vis a vis what is right and wrong for us, per se. And how much nonsense gets in the way of just humbly following that sense.

I feel grateful for the ways in which this simple reminder keeps coming at me. And Im so utterly thankful to be in a space where I have the capacity to listen, and really act accordingly.

Two years ago: Day 164: How blue?

Day 156: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?

One way of looking at patience is the acceptance with utmost calm, that most times things happen in a pace, manner and an order quite different from the one I have in mind.

Beginning yoga (yet again) really affirmed this for me. That the right thing only makes perfect sense when it is the right time. At that right time, the outcome is sometimes entirely different from the one I might have imagined. And yet, it will fall into place and feel perfect, like a misplaced jigsaw piece that has surfaced unexpectedly and clicked into slot making everything shiny, whole and complete.

I’ve given yoga a shot many times before. Usually spurred by short bursts of enthusiasm to try something new, or when I have wanted to take a break but not go off movement completely. You see, I’ve always stupidly considered yoga to be too low-key for me. I know and acknowledge it’s power and place in the world of fitness and exercise, but personally, with my love for high intensity, cardio-based training and my experience with weightlifting, I just never felt that yoga would do it for me. It hadn’t really ever hit the spot like running or lifting weights or going to the gym or kickboxing did.

I’ve always deemed exercise “effective” when it has me breaking into a sweat, or it leaves me breathless, feeling sore the next day. My idea of progress too, was about pursuing that sweet pain that exercise usually gives. Bolstered adequately by messages that made me feel anything less than sweating bullets or having my heart race was not cutting it.

“If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working,” “Your stomach should be on fire,” and “Always listen to your body, unless your body says don’t squat today. Stupid body!” and the like.

All very well and true. But because most things happen at a pace and manner quite opposite to what I usually have in mind, or the way in which I would imagine a spring back, it was no different with the downward spiral I took on the fitness front.

Several fits and starts in the first five months of this year made me realise I’m also utterly bored with a gym set up (even though I do enjoy some of the individual bits, like weight training, in isolation).

Even as I was allowing myself the time off, patiently waiting for the return to come in it’s own time, I always it would lead me straight back to the gym. I even contacted a couple of personal trainers, assuming that what I needed was a change of pace, some guidance and direction.

But, more often than I’d like to admit, things happen in a pace and manner quite unlike the way I imagine. And much like the attempt to hurry along change in my life, jump small steps to get to the bigger milestones faster, has proven futile, with exercise too, I realised that there is no fighting the natural order or energy of what my body has been telling me.

I’ve known my body hitting a plateau, but this was the first time my mind has.

It was no longer a matter of mere motivation alone, but one of actually tuning into the resistance, feeling it, noticing which part of my body it surfaces in, and just quietly listening. Without fighting it, without being in denial, and accepting that that too, has changed.

There was a time for a high-impact, sweat-it-out-and-get-breathless kind of exercise regimen. And boy it was glorious while it lasted. However, after nearly two decades of enjoying that, it would not be so wrong to accept that maybe that time is done. And I’m actually ready for something a little more low-key. Something a little gentler, less aggressive and up-tempo, more in keeping with the general slow-living kind of energy that has permeated the rest my life.

Which then made another lightbulb go off in my head: this is no longer just about fitness, but about the energy I am bringing to the rest of my life. If my life is a system, with several aspects and parts working in tandem, my goal these days has been to bring about as much synergy in getting these aspects to synchronise and flow. This has been about embracing and nurturing that synergy. And allowing the natural rhythm to take over, so all aspects of my life can be swept with that same Flow.

Life has been gently nudging me on to really lean in to the beauty in relaxing, in not being always wound up or rushing around, and I am only now beginning to see how that actually invites life to Flow — creatively, serendipitously, abundantly.

All I had to do was present myself and stop fighting it as it has engulfed me.

I’m almost too shy to admit that this has happened in the realm of fitness, as I least expected it. With how I suddenly decided it was going to be Yoga (after years of dismissing it as too low-key), how I actually woke up in time for class (after months of trying). And how I enjoyed last week’s lessons in a deeper, more internal sort of way, more than what it did for my body.

The messages I got, the same messages you’ll hear any yoga teacher say, hit a spot so deep inside me. Because clearly, it was all about much more than just my body.

Be gentle.

Go soft.

And then, there was the clincher yesterday, that had me nearly choke up and blink back tears, mid-Ardha-Chandra.

It’s not important to do everything all the way. Go only as far as you can. But it is important to find a safe way to get there.

In an older time, I casually used the term “Go with the Flow” and in my life that meant actively doing things keeping in the natural direction in which I am moving.

That too, has changed.

Now, going with the Flow has come to mean surrendering, doing little, but being patient and allowing life to unfold. Being open to being surprised, and allowing the mysterious, cosmic ways of the Flow to direct me, lift me up and keep me afloat in ways that I have accepted I cannot (and need not) fully understand, but feeling immense gratitude for how much I benefit from it.

So it’s no wonder that I have felt more spiritual in these weeks and months, than ever before. Words like surrender, patience, stillness have come to take new meaning — and they’ve become beacons guiding me along seeking more.

I’ve been talking about letting go, in so many different context, for yonks now. But only now, am I understanding what it means to let go of the urge to force life in the direction I want or imagine, based on my whims, my unquenchable ego and all it’s mind tricks. And instead develop an inner knowing, a trust that the universe has my back. To focus instead on getting my mental desires to meet my those within the depths of my heart, so that when they are completely in tune, that Flow happens effortlessly.

Title inspired by one of my favourite songs.

Day 147: For you will still be here, but your dreams may not

Postcards from Thailand 6.

Holiday wisdom in nondescript corners of unexpected places. Sometimes when I’m not even really looking.

Synchronicity and serendipity excites me almost as much as beach holidays do.

Sit and wonder.

Okay, yes.

Two years ago: Day 147: On the calmness of being at home

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

Day 113: You know it used to be mad love

A few (more) thoughts on relationships and communicating with people in our lives. Some brain-noodles I’ve been having. Some pleasant epiphanies. Mostly notestomyself.

One of the things I’ve noticed with focusing on my personal growth is that once the process of change has begun, it’s basically a journey of turning into something entirely different from my peers. At various points of the journey, a series of differences present themselves. And they appear in so many, many ways, showing up in big and little things. Unexpectedly sometimes, predictably at others.

My immediate tendency of course is to be afraid of that change and the challenges it poses to my relationships. Or at least that was my default, until very recently when I have experienced a significant change in the way I feel and approach this.

I say this so often, and I’ve written at length before (I seem to be seeing, feeling and acknowledging it a lot more as time goes by) about the essentially solitary nature of this journey. By nature, it is a process that requires a boundaried existence, that inevitably makes me feel alone at times. But, accepting rather than fearing and resisting this has brought about a surprising change. And learning to recognise relationships that no longer serve a purpose, and letting them go has now become empowering.

I’ve realised:

It’s okay to be disappointed by people. Sometimes it gives the much needed breathing space to rethink wrongs (theirs and our our own), reaffirm the rights, apologise if necessary, forgive (ourselves too) sometimes, and move ahead. Sometimes it brings out a much needed truth that was in hiding. Sometimes it affirms the fact that a relationship has run it’s course. It’s nice to keep the lessons and let the disappointment fade, if it does. There’s no point hanging on to it. Because sometimes when the disappointment has gone, and enough time has passed, it’s easier to notice that people have changed. As much as I have. Allow yourself to change your mind about said person/s. Second and third chances are all kinds of exciting.

Words and gestures aren’t the only way to make people I love know that they’re loved. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation. Sometimes just sitting in silence, listening. It’s so nice to be seen and heard as much as I feel loved.

Communication, even when it’s hard, ugly and scary, and promises to potentially lead to disappointment, is so crucial. It’s not always easy, but I’ve been making efforts to choose that discomfort, over resentment and stagnation. Choose honesty over politeness. Without that honesty, I don’t think there’s space for anyone to grow in a relationship. And really, if we don’t keep moving/growing/changing, we’re already dead.

Funny story: I once had a friend who resented the fact that I had changed. Too fast. Too much, I suppose. And their way of dealing with it was to insist I hadn’t changed, and that everything I was saying and doing was “in my head”.

LOL.

I should have seen that as a sign then, but I didn’t. I stayed and spent my energy trying to convince them of the many ways in which things had changed for me, and why. And I encouraged them along to try it too. Several years later, after many, many fits and starts, I realised that this was the crux of the issue: our inability to have honest conversations.

I really should have seen it sooner, considering the repetitive loop we were in and how many times we found ourselves in the exact same situation. It always left me feeling emotionally exhausted.

Which brings me to the next realisation: be careful who you want to extend this honour to. Choose your people with care. This is something I’m still learning. To trust my instinct, listen to my gut feeling and overcome fear of loss when dealing with people.

Creating and nurturing an environment of honesty, seeking it in the little everyday happenings, without waiting for confrontation to test it out. Sharing opinions, even though they may differ. Speaking up when I’m hurt or offended. Sharing when I’m feeling vulnerable. Asking for help. These situations will invariably help gauge if the friendship is too precarious, is taking up a lot of energy just to stay afloat, or threatening to fall apart over difficult conversations or plain honesty.

If you feel this at any point, it means that the relationship probably needs to be examined.

If a relationship actually does fall apart as a result of a difficult but essential conversation, it wasn’t strong enough to begin with, was it?

Two years ago: Day 113: Stop