Nesting

It’s been gloomy all day. Spend the day under a blanket kind of weather. And that’s just what I did. Getting out only briefly to help VC make lunch. He made us steaks with a creamy wine and mushroom sauce today, with sauteed garlicky beans on the side.

I’m happy for days like this, somehow. And I said to VC, how different this whole time might have been if he or I or both of us had full time jobs that took us outside.id have definitely missed this opportunity for nesting in the way that we have.

Something about the luxury of that has meant cocooning some more. And it has been very good for us.

Peace, within and without

First thing in the morning is my most preferred time of day for exercise. In a perfect world, my energy and willingness would be right up there with that intention. But that isn’t always the case. And it is only very recently that I have come into agreement with this fact, without feeling like I am somehow useless for not always meeting that standard.

I don’t know if it is just an outcome of ageing that I am me seeing how my “morning person” energy is shifting, as it does, mostly towards a natural slowing down, or if this has always been true and I am only just getting more comfortable with my inherent patterns of energy.

I am also at my most energetic, nimble and supple in the few days right after my period, while at my least energetic and not desiring movement in the days right before my period.

Today was that kind of day. Slow, blobby, body not entirely willing even though head and heart were. So even though I woke up early and had a perfect window to workout, I found myself moving in a very measured way, doing everything else except getting ready to exercise.

I nearly cancelled out the workout entirely, even. But pushed myself just a wee bit. Because I have rarely never regretted a workout once I have finished, no matter what the circumstances before I began.

This is also a part of rolling with the punches — the willingness and ease with breaking the plan, with doing something rather than nothing at all, going as far as is possible than not going at all, not being exacting and demanding with my expectations of myself.

Picked a short, quick, high-impact workout today. There is quite nothing like that burst of energy, even for a body that not so long ago felt unwilling to move. Invariably, it takes all of 5-7 minutes for me to feel like I can move. And so I am glad I pushed through with whatever I had to give and however I was able to show up today. Because by the end of it, I felt bliss.

Bliss is just the word for it. Have you ever felt bliss within your body? Like the sun shining out from within you? I felt that way this morning, despite that feet-dragging start. And so I felt instinctively drawn to step outside, to the little sliver of sunshine I get and feeling one with the world around me.

It has to be said that even with the ups and downs in my emotions, in context to what’s been going on around me and the world at large, I feel very much at one with myself lately. A sense of togetherness within me. Peace inside of me. Quite anchored and not wanting to uproot anything — a sense of everything being in it’s place.

Earlier, when this contentment showed up, it would come with a desperate need to hold on to it. To bottle it. To keep it for a rainy day. I notice now that there is a new ease with just witnessing, experiencing it in the now, now. And letting it go. And welcoming all experiences and everything that they bring, alike.

This is so new, and I suspect a major reason for the peace, even in the face of feeling low sometimes, quite a bit of grief sometimes, physical distress from being restricted too.

I want to acknowledge this experience I’m having, of seeing and knowing emotions, without being hijacked by them, getting swept away or losing my footing when in their effect. Is this possibly a brush with inner peace?

***

Today, this also made me really happy.

***

Looking back at posts from July one year ago, and again balking at what a different place I was in, in my head and in my life. It seems too distant to even process, like reading the words of an entirely different person.

This year, with the coming of the monsoon, that expected and predictable yearning to be in Goa is all but missing. A fascinating development. I mean, I would love to be there in the monsoon, but every year since I have moved away, this time of year used to bring an aching longing and FOMO, which hasn’t come this year.

One year ago: The rain
Three years ago: I need to sit with the quiet, I know that much
Four years ago: The rain, the rain

How much?

Ouuff, so much has happened in the span of just a week, and the weekend.

Over the weekend, VC and I realised it’s officially been over 100 days since we have been indoors. Granted, we’ve been venturing out some in the last month, it’s been nowhere close to “normal” or the way that the world outside has bounced back. We’ve still been limiting our outings and getting more stuff done per outing, to avoid repeatedly stepping out.

Over the last week though, we’d finally started getting out a bit, and entertained the idea of having service staff home, to tend to some long pending tasks that we have been putting off since March. Pest control. Some carpentry. A new couch. Running shoes. Pots for my balcony garden (that is mildly out of control right now).

But, over the weekend, our building had one positive case. And since we’re a small building of just 12 homes, a majority of which have senior citizens, the building voluntarily limited movement for a bit once again.

And so we were back to being in. More in than we have been actually because we had to isolate, until the BBMP came over and sanitized the building twice over. It was just a little over two days, but gosh, the gloom that descended over VC and me was quite something. On the surface we have gotten through this entire period of isolation quite okay. Riding the highs and lows because we’ve had each other, and my sister. Over the weekend the pall of gloom was a bit much to take. I’m certainly hitting my saturation point with staying indoors and self-isolating.

The desire isn’t so much about going out to do things like eat or hit a mall, but I’ve been feeling a sense of shrinking that isn’t sitting well, and is getting hard to keep under wraps. My body feels restricted and in need of expansion. The experience is of being stuck, while internally I am feeling such a deep urge for movement. And it’s beginning to test my patience, this holding both states and waiting and watching. A major part of me wants to get going. Sigh.

The darned virus is now literally at our doorsteps. While the world is opening up, and my desire to be out there is rising. The irony of it.

How much more?

Three years ago: What coming home feels like: love and abundance
Four years ago: Watercolour eyes

Monday Tarot Message: Reimagining love

The Ace of Cups typically speaks of romantic love. But lately, I’ve been drawn to examine love outside this stereotypical association alone.

Love, like all emotions, is like water. It will find a way to flow. It can either refresh and give life, if tended to nurturance; or it can flood and destroy, if suppressed and withheld.

This is an invitation to revisit love in a time when building walls around our hearts and saving up our love only for people exactly in the same camp as us, is the norm.

Growing a positive and nurturing attitude towards love begins within each one of us. With noticing what makes us clam shut and close our hearts up. Why we give up connection and empathy so easily, even when we’re neurologically hardwired to connect and belong. And to examine the deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing. Conversely, what makes us open up and express love to those with whom we have a sense of sameness and commonality.

Can we learn to let love flow freely again, as the necessary component of structural compassion and empathy our communities so desperately need right now? How else can we reorganise our world to move past the growing divisions that split and keeps us apart?

What role does love then play, in a world constantly being served up hate, differences and distinct polarities? How can we reorganise the notions, practice and expressions of love so it allows for:

  • examination of our deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing freely
  • compassion for the varied experiences of the other, completely different from the ones we know.
  • justice for those wronged by an inequitable system.
  • empathy for circumstances our privilege will never allow us to touch
    closer-knit, self-contained communities.
  • courage for a less fear-driven way of connecting with each other.
  • a broader sense of wanting a better, equitable and ecological world beyond our little cubbyholes.
  • the ability to making space for all expressions and kinds of love across the spectrum.

Just questions today. No ready-made, neatly summed up answers. Because some answers don’t come easy and sometimes we’d do well to sit with the discomfort of *not* knowing, with confronting the messy work of pulling existing structures apart, not having quick answers, immediate opinions and perfect fixes. Then, maybe we can begin to rebuild.

One year ago: Stillness
Two years ago: I choose to be happy
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts
Four years ago: Holiday vibes

Saturday morning done right

When it’s raining outside.

…and err, inside also.

Four months of very, very regular working out, right after a whole year of running more than I have in many, many years means I now need new training shoes. This is the quickest I am having to replace a pair of sneakers.

One year ago: Decompress
Two years ago: Did we fly to the moon too soon?
Three years ago: Back to base. Almost.

Something like life

At least a couple times a week, I have a moment of astonishment and awe at what a crazy, crazy time we’re living through. And I don’t mean just the existence of the virus. Today was a day it happened again.

On the one hand while I may have gotten used to a new routine and a new life, I don’t think this will ever feel normal. Or like a new normal — hate that term so much. I don’t know what’s normal anymore actually. I just know that a couple of times a week, when I pause and stop everything  am doing, the utter batshit ridiculousness of the entire sum total of our lives at this point in time hits me. And it doesn’t feel like I am anywhere close to okay with it. It still brings up distress, and a sharp need to quickly flip a switch to return to some past time and place.

***

Went out today. Far, far out into, by current standards. Felt deliriously happy. Like I wanted to stick my head out of the car, wind in my non existent hair, tongue dangling off of my gobsmacked face, like an ecstatic puppy. (I didn’t because, corona.)

But my GOD. The blueeeee skies. The light shower on our way back. The empty-ish roads. The ease and willingness to go all the way to…ahem… Electronic City for what turned out to be a three minute affair. I HAVE MISSED BEING OUT SO MUCH. It did annoy me a little that this felt like a tease because it’s not like really being out and about as yet. I’m scared to go all out. This was just a tantalising, long  car ride, with the world splayed out in front of me, beckoning. AND I CANNOT GO.

On the way back, we drove past Koshy’s WHICH IS NOW OPEN — *weeeep*. But I cannot go. So I glanced lustfully while we pulled along, and spontaneously decided to make a quick stop to pick up mince puffs and egg puffs from the bakery instead. I made it back home right in time for teatime, with the perfect accompaniments in hand. Chai time is becoming a serious production, I tell you.

Yeah, new normal, abnormal, hyper normal, whatever you want to call it, I’m certainly missing some specific parts of what my life used to be. And it really pains me to think about how I have to still wait some more, and that much of it is so irrevocably changed.

One year ago: The powerlessness of love
Two years ago: It’s just the thing that seasons do

Rolling with the punches

Woke up at 5.50 am this morning. By woke up, I mean first opened my eyes. I texted the relief work group, forwarded some important updates too, and then dozed off back to sleep. Then, I actually woke up, eyes wide, not-going-back-to-sleep at 7.30. I planned to get out of bed, get going, work out in the morning today. I like doing mornings that start early, because I can work out before the rest of the day gets ahead of me.

So, that was the plan. VC left for a meeting far, far away at about 8.30 am today. At close to 10 am I sent him this picture, with the words: Still here.

Today, I moved very little. And slowly. It’s fine.

My idea of productivity, and planning, is slowly but surely being tested and dismantled in the minutest way, on a daily basis, these days. I am loving it.

Today was a good, do-little day. I am getting better at being okay with them, when they come. Even if unexpectedly, throwing my plans completely out of whack.

I notice this because even just six months ago a day like this would have been classified a bad day. Now, they’re just different kinds of days. Days that I need to approach differently. Let loose my plans, let go my intentions.

I’m noticing the words I use to describe my days, and all that it tells me about how I really feel. The words are loaded sometimes, and if I look beneath the surface, they tell a story of what I actually mean when I use them. Sometimes when I say I had a “full” day, I don’t just mean that it was chockfull with activity. I also derive a certain sense of usefullness and worth from that fullness.

Today was that kind of day. And it came on the heels of a full-on full day. Yesterday, I spun around like a top, quite unintentionally. I didn’t have a moment to spare. It wasn’t planned that way, it just spontaneously ballooned into that kind of situation. But it made me notice the different in how I see a full day now. It doesn’t fill me up in quite the same way that it used to. I don’t even look to it like that anymore. When I couldn’t wait to get into bed to wind down and chill for a bit after, it hit me. I have slowed down, a lottttttt. A lot more than I planned to hahahaha.

What yesterday looked like:

  1. Woke up
  2. Morning chores about the kitchen
  3. Put a load of laundry on
  4. Shopped for veggies
  5. Cleaned out the fridge and veggie tray
  6. Swept, mopped and dusted the whole house because it was jhadoo-poccha day
  7. Cooked a very basic lunch
  8. Dried out the laundry
  9. Ate lunch
  10. Went out with VC for what was meant to be a very quick jaunt to see A couch, it turned into a three hour venture (spent mostly driving around because there’s still not as much traffic out, and we took the opportunity to finish seeing all our options rather than step out again and again)
  11. Came home in time for tea, made some tea and sat down for the first time all day to enjoy it in peace
  12. Marinated some meat for dinner and did some other preps
  13. Cooked dinner with VC and was looking to Dunzo some food to a friend, to no avail
  14. Made the quick decision to drive over myself. Thankfully it’s not too far from home
  15. Came home just in time to make some rice. Niyu was making the salad as I walked in, bless her
  16. Ate dinner and finally got to relax

Finally, when I had the opportunity to get into bed, like I so wanted, it began to pour. So I felt tempted to stay up a bit. I have grown to love my home and my solitude in the post-10 pm glow of my living room. VC turns in early most nights these days. I get to be by myself, in silence. So yesterday, I sat up and painted/journaled for a bit.

It was that kind of full day. And today was so different. Of course I also realise so often that I am blessed to have a life that allows me this. I mean, imagine cancelling and giving in to a slow day if I had a child? Or a pet? Or a day job? I am so grateful for the life that I have cultivated such that I can allow myself this, without feeling entirely useless.

I’m enjoying the varying and growing sense of ease in rolling with the punches that is my mental and physical energy see-saw. This is probably normal. We’ve just been conditioned not to look at it this way. Even now, there will be a day when all of this chilling will catch up with me and amount to a body slam to my self-worth, when I’ll deem myself useless and unproductive and wasted. When my life seem pointless. But that too is conditioning that I am trying to slowly dismantle and rework. It is crazy that I do not look at full days like the one enumerated above, and feel like I haven’t been productive. Isn’t it crazy?

One year ago: Warm
Two years ago: Take a minute, I’ve been sitting here and wondering
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: seeking solitude

Things worth remembering (part 2)

There’s more where this came from.

Rainy Bangalore evenings. Still not nearly as many as I’d have liked, with nearly not heavy enough rain for my preference. But it’ll do. I’ll take it. Even prefaced with sultry pre-rain mornings, tantalisingly grey afternoons finally turning to pregnant dark skies that only break in the evening. So, so, so Bangalore. So much love. Of course all this overflowing love is because there’s no chance of getting stuck in post-rain traffuck situations. So much nicer to enjoy this from the safety of my home where it seems I’m going to be for the rest of the year.

If there’s anything that tops a perfectly rainy day, it’s a tea-time production complete with snacks. I have become quite the tea-time glutton through this lockdown. I cannot seem to have my evening chai, the only cup I consume on any given day, without a snack of some kind. VC has been watching me with amusement and adoration, turning to mild worry these days hahahahaha.

The three of us are up to no good. Something is brewing and it has made us make a record number of calls late into the night because we’re managing time-zones across two continents. So long after my neighbourhood (and husband) has gone to sleep, I sneak out of bed and get on the phone. In no time at all, I’m giggling. No matter what we talk about, I find myself in splits.

The day before therapy last week, I gave myself a session of therapy by mindfully making myself this stack of egg (omelette), ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled to a perfect gold, under the careful guidance of D, who also very, very kindly provided the ham. The best ham the city has, I think. Sometimes this is what self-care looks like.

Sat down one rainy afternoon for a little session of sound painting. My sister is doing these Ways of Seeing sessions, and they’re such a great way to sneak in an hour of quiet, self-involved, downtime while playing with colour — whatever you’ve got handy. Open to people of all ages — young and old. No prior experience or skills needed. I would so totally recommend this if you’re inclined to just spend some time with yourself, exploring, expressing. Quietly, without anyone having to judge, see or understand what you’re doing.

One year ago: Simple
Four years ago: Begin

Things worth remembering (part 1)

The last two weeks were an emotional landslide, to say the least. I constantly felt the undertow tugging at me, dragging me down and asking me to slip and slide and go under. I was torn between giving in to it and letting to, or flapping my arms around to stay afloat. I did bits of both — neither with very much success.

At some point last week, things began to turn ever so slowly. Then the weekend came and I noticed an observable, significant shift. Yesterday, I felt anew again. I’m getting better at witnessing the natural (and maybe necessary?) ebbs and flow in my emotional energy. I also see how, often, the movement is aligned with either the moon, or some planetary movement that’s on the cards. I just notice, there’s nothing to be done. But it helps be lighter and easier when the shifts and slips and slides come, as they do. And it helps mark the moments when things aren’t spiralling and feeling well isn’t so entirely out of my grasp. Moments when I can breathe deeply and fill myself with life-giving air. When I can smile softly, subtly. When I can stretch myself and take up space fiercely. When I can enjoy life’s little gifts, however minute. I like remembering those moments.

Cooking and allied kitchen/domestic activities have taken me through the last three months of uncertainty. Giving me that window of groundedness and familiarity — predictability — in a time where things are anything but predictable. And after consistently leaning on this habit for over three months, my hectic schedules the last two weeks meant planning, shopping for, cooking and consuming wholesome meals was the first thing to fall to the side. This was the first proper meal I cooked after cleaning out my fridge last week. Mixed veggie stir fry in oyster sauce with broken red matta rice.

Been stalking these critters twice a day, everyday, for the last 10 days or so ever since I spotted them. Watching their every move ever since, as they are fast growing out of the gutter where they were birthed. Also exercising massive amounts of self-control to keep from giving in to my own achy heart that wants to take the dusty brown one in, and also VC’s incessant chatter about this spotting of puppies is the last in a string of “signs” that we should get one.

A surprise Sunday morning video call with the nugget/rosogulla/dumpling/firecracker of a new niece. It’s all kinds of surreal, yet somehow acceptable, that I have barely any smidgen of an ongoing relationship with so many of my cousins, but one of them has a baby this cute and suddenly I want to video call them?

The “new normal” featuring a live Kunal Kamra show via Zoom. It was more like hanging out in a room with a comedian and a bunch of random people, listening to the comedian talk about a realllllyyy random collection of things and being funny some times, and less like a live show I’d catch on stage. But it was interesting, and I stayed up later than usual for it, and I laughed a lot.

Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Bangalore sky porn
Four years ago: Kursi ki peti

Monday Tarot Messages: Befriend difficult emotions

Periods of turmoil usually bring great inner unsettlement and a loss of peace of mind. This is natural when old foundations (of anything) are being shaken to make way for the new. An essential part of authentic growth that challenges established orders — within and without. A process that is inherently not without turmoil, despair, grief and fear.

By themselves, these are not problematic. What makes us believe they are is the agitation that actually comes from resistance to feeling these emotions. The more we fight them, the more we allow them to hijack us. And they do. In that sense, we cannot avoid feeling difficult emotions if we intend to grow from our experiences of strife. What we can do instead, is learn to be agile with our emotions, befriend them, so we feel without carrying the heaviness.

Distress in times of strife comes from our inability to meet grief, which is such an integral part of renewal or growth. We fear grief as a heavy, cumbersome emotions that is best avoided. And we march on, investing a great deal of effort into being stoic and putting up a brave front. But if we do not grieve what we are letting go (good, bad and all of it) we cannot welcome what is waiting in the wings.

Learning to feel, rather than think about emotions, not judging them as conditions that need fixing, is one way to welcome them. Then, we may embrace them for the crucial role they play in making us vulnerably human. As the thinking, feeling, heart-throbbing spirits that we are.

Think about the term “falling prey” to emotions. It implies an attack that must be avoided in our attempt to be free. While actually, the avoidance lands us in conflict, distress and disease. When we meet emotions and everything that they make us feel, without resistance, there is an opportunity to grow. There is an opportunity to move through, rather than bypass the full gamut of the experience.

This might just be the single thing that differentiates feeling feelings rather than suffering them. Or as N wisely said to me last week: “being kidnapped by feelings.”

What thoughts have been keeping you up at night lately? They might carry clues about the emotions you are fighting, that are asking to be let in? What can you do to welcome them in the days to come?

PS: quite uncannily connected to my process and thoughts around befriending tenderness, so I can feel feelings.

One year ago: Away   
Two years ago: Nobody really likes us, except us 
Three years ago: Just breathe   
Four years ago: Hit by a crippling case of travel excitement

Your tenderness is valuable

Some weeks ago, N and I were talking about how emotionally spent we’ve been feeling all the damn time these past few months. And she said to me “If there was a season for feeling feelings, this is it”.

I couldn’t agree more. Unexpectedly finding moments of tenderness when I’m not trying to be put together, or keeping my frailty at bay, choosing “strength” and productivity over all else, has been a whole new world for me. Because it has opened me up and allowed an onslaught of every single emotion possible. Not fighting, figuring out or trying to overcome any of them has meant I have felt everything very deeply, as might be obvious to those of you who read this blog.

I grew up having a lot of role models for “strong” women. And I put the word in quotes because while they were all impossibly strong and showed me what grit, determination and a sense of ambition outside of themselves can do, as I’m growing, I understand what that strength has cost them. The loss of tenderness.

As an adult, I realise I know little about being tender or soft. I have held such strong, unidimensional ideas of strength (and therefore weakness too). I see how easily I used to equate vulnerability and tenderness with weakness, because I was so focused on keeping it and myself together, through everything.

Lately, I’ve realised “weak” is a word I no longer like to use. I don’t see weakness anymore, just different colours and kinds of strength. This is especially apparent as I’m having to learn vulnerability. It’s been a hard and painful journey of unlearning that definition of strength. Looking back, I wish the women I looked up to as a child has also modelled strength in tenderness. So I could have seen the power of vulnerabilities and letting them be seen.

I have known and believed for years that Vulnerability is Strength, and maybe I even practiced it a little. But it wasn’t until very recently that I have embodied the very idea of it in a wholehearted way that has broken me apart. Because it has let me shatter the various personas I hold, in order to be seen as a certain kind of person. Sorted, sometimes. Loving, caring, available sometimes. Unaffected, strong, most of the times.

I have been on this quest for years — waiting for a moment where suddenly I’d just be able to feel all the feelings. Little did I know it’s it takes time and practice. That it isn’t an achievement that I’ll gain, like arriving in a point in time. Rather a gradual process, like standing at the edge of the vast expanse of an ocean and allowing the sea to gently lap over me. Toes first, feet next, making me heave and gasp with overwhelm. But soon enough, it gets easier, familiar, fun even. The sea that seemed threatening is suddenly inviting. Joyful. And before I know it the waves have washed over me. Drenched. Heavy. And strangely — buoyed, uplifted, held, strong.

These past few months, I have felt the depths of sadness, agitation, helplessness, anger, grief, heartbreaking rejection and terrible loneliness with an intimacy I haven’t allowed myself before. I believe allowing myself tenderness had something to do with it. And somehow through that tenderness, I found a kind of strength I haven’t ever felt before. A strength, from vulnerability, that I haven’t allowed myself either. It has taken everything out of me to begin to show myself, in these vulnerable states. To say, I don’t feel well. I miss you. I am hurt by what you said/did. I don’t want to have it together today. I wanted you and you weren’t there for me. I shrink when you say that, and I don’t like shrinking. Please don’t say that to me again? I’m really, really lonely. amongst so many other things.

And so many weeks and months down, it is slowly manifesting in a bodily awareness of being fully (differently, somehow) in my skin and deeply aware of my changing world.

This is a note to myself, but maybe you need to hear it too today? Your tenderness is valuable. Your tenderness is the path to strength. Your tenderness can set you free.

One year ago: Tender
Two years ago: You live, you learn
Four years ago: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures of my life

On listening

So much has been said, and continues to be said, about mental health, exalting the dire importance to “reach out”. Though well-intentioned, the sheer number of posts that have just casually offered this as a silver-bullet — “please reach out” “you are not alone” “my DMs are open” — have left me a bit uncomfortable. First because what does it say about us that this has to be explicitly stated, after someone has passed away by suicide? And second because I’m wondering about what after the person reaches out? Assuming that they can just get over whatever it is that has stopped them from doing so, that we seem to think just reiterating that they should reach out will help — what next?

When we offer a listening ear, how do we listen? Can we really listen? And more importantly, are we in the habit and practice of doing so with presence and empathy?

Can we listen without immediately pathologizing the human tendency to feel feelings, sometimes more intensely than usual? Without offering solutions or judgement. Without wishing tough emotions away.

My guess is we are mostly not. Because we live in a country and a culture that isn’t used to looking at vulnerability of sharing in a healthy way. We are not in the habit of looking at mental health as a product of societal and cultural polarities (amongst many other things) that contribute a great deal to ill-health. We mostly don’t have it in us to cultivate a systemic view of life that accounts for all of this.

So how do we listen better? Just listening, for a start. I’ve been wondering about this. Not for my work, but for life, as a whole. Listening with the ability to put myself and any discomfort that may arise from it, aside for a brief moment, to give my presence to the other. To be patient, and bear witness, as I listen.

I don’t have any hot-takes or immediate answers. Just my own questions around this, most of which arise from my experiences of not feeling heard and seen. I know that the collective changing rests with every individual changing, slowly, one step at a time, over time. And so maybe we begin with ourselves, and our experiences with being heard, and looking at how that was for us. I know that it is only through living and experiencing this that answers will emerge.

PS: Not the first time I have pondered about listening, it seems.

One year ago: My own person
Two years ago: Home where my love lies waiting

Love and magic

…amidst all the hopelessness, it shines through sometimes.

I am now convinced that this country only runs on hope. When all else fails and the paltry systems we have are exposed for how broken and dysfunctional they are, it is only hope that takes us through.

That and the goodwill of regular, everyday people.

I don’t know where we’d be without either.

One year ago: This is now
Four years ago: Work things that make me chuckle

Outdoors

In the midst of all the madness last week, I managed to wake up early, put my mask on and head out for my first outdoor run in over three months. I swear, I cried a little.

And because I felt so good, I went again, the very next day. It was raining, a typicaly Bangalore morning, feathery drizzle all the way through my entire run. It felt so great to be outdoors, and so good to be running in the rain.

It’s all the exercise I could manage. But it gave me a burst of energy and good hormones I so needed. I took the weekend off from volunteering, and lay low. Feeling feels. Journaling, painting, listening to music. Eating greasy Chinese take out. Crying and laughing. Sleeping. Not exercising. Just listening.

Then Monday came around, and I knew from the moment I woke up and stepped out of bed that it was going to be better. This week, I’m looking forward to gently getting my exercise and cooking routine back on track. Infections are spiking in Bangalore again and I’m not feeling so safe to head out again for a run. It was short-lived joy, but I think I’ll pass for now. Back to those home workouts that I’ve not done in two weeks now. My fridge was a mess, overstocked, but chaotic with nothing cohesive to make a meal from. I cleared it out and set that right over the weekend and already, I feel so much better.

As much as I am raring to get going, I clearly am not ready to dive into the deep end, so I have had to reign myself in and stay with what I can do and what my body and mind is allowing for. This whole experience has been a live lab for all my learning in boundaries, empathy, holding space for the other while also making space for everything that it rakes up within me. And I’m quite pleased with how I have pulled myself through it. Not punishing myself, but staying very close to what I need and taking it when I must.

Two years ago: Love on the weekend   
Four years ago: I’m only procrastinating to avoid the discomfort

Monday Tarot Messages: Rest, in a culture of busyness

I am a product of the “grind culture” that demands, glorifies and rewards a work ethic that equates unrelenting productivity with passion and hard work. It has taken me years to realise my instinctual attitude to work is actually quite different. When I allow myself to listen, I can be productive even when I work less, slower and in short, focused bursts. When I allow myself to listen, I realised my idea of ambition is quiet and self-sufficient, more internally-focused. And that it includes the value of having ample time to rest in ways that I please.

As a result, it has been hard to find a place and fit-in to the working world. This was so difficult to digest for so many years, early on, as I bounced from one workplace to another, trying to find a fit where I could rest easy, knowing that I’d be valued for the work I did during work hours, and where I didn’t have to feel guilty for wanting and having a life outside of work. My self-worth took a severe beating, because i constantly equated it with how productive and driven I was in the workplace. And very often, I didn’t really feel as “driven” as my peers.

Only recently, I realised that everything that I believe about work, success, hard work, passion and ambition (and conversely, rest) is a construct of a capitalist, patriarchal framework. That favours work over rest, teaching us that rest is to be earned thru hard work, and that unplugging will put us behind in the race.

So we devalue rest. And we oversell the hustle. But this is unsustainable. As most current studies on this will show. Everywhere you look, a culture of relentless work has made us physically and emotionally unhealthy. With the accent always being on doing, we have forgotten to pay attention to our being.

Examine your relationship with rest today.
What is your natural pace?
How much permission do you allow for it?
How comfortable is it to rest?
Do you feel guilt, shame or like you have indulged, when you rest?
Or do you feel renewed and alive?
Is zero work-life balance masquerading as loving your work?

Most of us, women especially, carry shame around resting, feeling useless and eroding our self-worth every time we choose rest over productivity.
Today’s card is a call to reset your natural relationship with rest. To begin to release the shame around resting.

The needs of the body are a good place to start. Pay attention to your body, notice if it is asking for more sleep, or gentle tenderness, or a calming practice of some kind. Maybe tend to your sleep cycle, get some hygiene in place. Or perhaps tune back into natural rhythms — the moon, seasons, weekends — as markers of tuning down, turning in.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for permission to rest. You will not fall behind. You will not miss out. You will not end up with less. You can rest.

One year ago: Within me
Two years ago: Come on, keep me where the light is
Four years ago: The good in us