This is non-negotiable

non_negotialble_list1. My personal well-being: I’ve realized that when I am mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually well, I am in the best position to live my life to the fullest. This includes being my own best friend and loving myself unconditionally, even when I stumble and fall; replacing my inner critic with positive and encouraging self-talk; eating healthy and exercising, even if all I can manage is a 20 minute walk; time to connect with a higher power; and to meditate.

2. My self-respect: There may be times in my life when a friend or loved one walks all over my sense of self, damaging my self-respect under their hob-nailed boots. I’ve learnt it the hard way to never, ever, no matter what the circumstances, let anyone walk all over me or treat me like a doormat. My self-respect is the most important thing. Period.

3. A home that feels like me: Note, I didn’t say a magazine-perfect home. With all the amazing home interiors I see on Pinterest, in magazines and on blogs, it’s easy to look around my pad and hate everything about it. But when I stop and analyze, I realize that I love each object in my house – it all has a history, a story. It’s warm and welcoming and lived-in, which really isn’t something I can say for a lot of those picture perfect “white houses” I see online. If I’m able to keep my home clutter free for long periods of time, more power to me! I am open to change, to better my surrounding, but I refuse to give in to internet envy.

4. Allowing myself to dream big and DO big: There are no limits to imagination. I’ve found that it’s very important to allow myself to imagine a live that fills me with joy, and then go out and work towards achieving all that my heart desires! I may win some and lose some, but I know what I’m working towards and why. When something no longer resonates with me, I drop it, instead of living up to someone else’s idea of perfection. Since I am a procrastinator, I keep reminding myself that the only thing standing between my dreams and reality is action.

So, what’s non-negotiable for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

The day the music died

I grew up with music…surrounded by it, immersed in it…I would go to sleep with a cassette playing on my tape recorder and wake up to the sound of music. I played with it in the background, danced to it, cried with it, laughed with it, sang along with it. Music filled me. More than that, it was almost a tangible part of me – like my heart, or coursing through my veins mixed with my blood.

During my formative years, my music choices were influenced by my parents. Musicians like Perry Como and Tina Charles ruled in our house, as did old hindi film music and ghazals by Jagjit and Chitra Singh. During my rebellious teens, I rocked Bon Jovi and Pink Floyd, fell in love with Madonna and Michel Jackson, and sashayed to Right Said Fred. As those erratic hormones loosened their hold over me, I learnt to appreciate the classical notes of Beethoven and Mozart, Yanni and Kenny G.

These days, music’s all about rap and hip hop, which I don’t dig that much, and somehow, it’s losing it’s tangibility. It’s now something I listen to while driving the car and occasionally at work, when I want to tune out the rest of the office and focus on what’s in front of me. Or for a few hours when I have the house to myself.

This loss of tangibility isn’t all about me. It’s also because the husband and I have very different musical tastes, and different listening styles. I like music to envelop the air around me, fill the house with it’s melodious strains. The husband prefers to get lost in his own private world with his music, blaring it straight into his ears through his headphones. It’s been difficult, almost impossible, to get these two worlds to meet.

On the few occasions when I’ve tried to initiate him to music my way, it’s ended in dissatisfaction. He turns the sound down until it’s little over being background noise – I mean, who listens to Another One Bites the Dust with the volume turned down? That song is meant to be blasted through the speakers. I like listening to each song on an album in full and in sequence. He listens to a bit of the song, then suddenly remembers another great track on the album and skips to it. This back and forth continues, leaving me unfulfilled….unable to immerse myself in the music.

And so I’ve given up on him coming over to my side, and sadly on music. Listening to it on headphones isn’t anything like listening to it on a music system, with the volume turned up, the thump of the drum underlining your heartbeat, the strains of the piano taking you through a whole range of emotions in one magical piece.

Sadly, the music has…not died, just faded away. Leaving me unmoored, if you will. Adrift in the sea of life without my constant companion.

5 tried and tested strategies to deal with stress

Here are five tried and tested ways to beat stress, calm your nerves and just relax.

Taj Spa at Taj Exotica, Goa

Taj Spa at Taj Exotica, Goa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1) Make an appointment at your favorite spa for a relaxing head massage and wash, followed by a manicure and pedicure. There’s nothing as relaxing as just sitting back and giving yourself over to the magical fingers of your therapist as she massages the knots out of your shoulders. Bliss! Follow it up with a manicure and pedicure – apart from making you look like a million bucks, it will leave you feeling totally lucid. I promise.

2) Don’t have time for a leisurely spa treatment? Never mind. This next strategy takes just 5 minutes. Put on some soothing music (optional) and deep breathe. In and out. Watch your breath. Focus on it. If you start thinking of something else, gently bring your mind back to your breath. It will leave you feeling re-energized and filled with energy.

Central Park Bridges (view from Bridlepath loo...

Central Park Bridges (view from Bridlepath looking southwest), Gothic Arch, Spanning bridlepath south of tennis courts at nort, New York City, New York County, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3) If action’s more to your liking, plug in your iPod and go for a walk – preferably in nature. There’s something calming about all that greenery.

4) If you find yourself unable to step out of the house try listening to some instrumental music. Classic overtures are excellent at taking us out of the humdrum of our daily lives and transporting us to a different state of being.

5) If all else fails, turn to the telly, more specifically, comedy. What’s your favorite funny movie of all time? Pop it into the DVD player and watch it. Mine is The Birdcage, by th way. No matter what my mood when i start watching that movie, 20 minutes in I’m laughing so hard my tummy hurts!

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite stress busting strategies?

How I rediscovered the zest for life

Since a while now, I’ve known that not everything was right with me. Somewhere along the way life dragged me down. I lost myself. Lost my zest for life. My days became practical, mechanical. The only thing I looked forward to was the weekend – Saturday, when I would meet up with friends and we’d go out about town and Sunday, when me and the husband would do things together. The rest of the time, I was on automatic pilot.

All that changed this week.

A fun interaction with a very close friend on Facebook turned into a more serious talk. She told me she had started avoiding meeting me because I had become too “practical”, had lost the magic that was me.

Find your magic

That one comment forced me to think – something that I had avoided doing even though I knew that things weren’t right. We inbox-ed one another furiously, and as she asked me questions that forced me to think, it made me want to cry – for all the time I had lost, for all that I wouldn’t acknowledge even to myself, for losing the magic.

She’s one friend with whom I can be 100% myself. She’s my mirror. So when she tells me something, I stop to listen and think. And I knew she was right.


We went out that night, and she turned the spotlight on me. Asking about my life (going on), what I feel (nothing much), how I feel about life (that it’s happening on auto-pilot).

Then she made me do something. She made me tell her 10 things I was grateful for and why. And as I spoke about my blessings, I felt a shift inside me. Slowly, the ice around my heart began to crack. As the night wore on and the conversation flowed, the crack spread and eventually began to chip off.

I feel much more positive already. More cheerful. More hopeful. And it was all due to that exercise, which I’ve been doing everyday since.

Try it.

I am grateful for ______ because ______. (x 10)

Nothing is too trivial to list out. If you think it is, imagine your life without it. Awesome perspective, eh?

Life is Beautiful!

Bonus tip: make a list of everything you love – and I mean everything. People, places, food, restaurants, movies, books, activities, plants, flowers, animals…you get the drift. Any time you feel negative (sad, angry, irritated) think of this list. It will lift you up immediately!

Here’s to a wonderful life!

What are you grateful for? If you’ve already experienced the power of gratitude, tell us about it in the comments!

How to introspect


Introspection (Photo credit: gurdonark)

There are times when we over-think things. Like introspection, or self reflection. I know I’m guilty of it. I’ve spent hours reading up on the right way to introspect. Wondering what questions to ask myself. If I was even asking the right questions.

Then, one day, I decided to just stop thinking about this whole thing. I was tired of trawling through websites and looking at lists of questions to ask myself. Some as inane as: “What are your favorite things (books, movies, stores, etc.)? Why ?”

So I just put the whole introspection thingajammy behind me and concentrated on doing different things. Things I’ve been putting off since a while.  Like reorganizing my craft room. And then suddenly, one day, I just….introspected. No muss. No fuss.

And I realized there is one and only one thing that was holding me back and making me overanalyze this whole introspection thing: fear.

I was afraid of what I would find. The person I would come face to face with in the mirror. Once I let my guard down, I found that it wasn’t so hard after all. And the person I saw wasn’t all that much of an ogre. She was normal, with her strong points and weak, successes and failures, areas of confidence and insecurities.

So, if you’re having trouble getting in touch with you, ask yourself: What are you afraid of finding? Chances are, you’re blowing your fears out of proportion.

I’m going to let you in on another secret: it isn’t even necessary for you to answer that question. Just acknowledge that you’re afraid and leave it at that. And one day, when you’re least expecting it, you’ll rediscover yourself.

Here’s to you!

Defining the sacred

Huffington Post recently had a slideshow wherein its editors posted pictures of their most sacred place on earth. These images ranged from nature to religious imagery, children and even a book! And got me to think about the meaning of the word “sacred”. defines Sacred as:

1. devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
2. entitled to veneration or re
ligious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
3. reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacr
ed to study.
4. regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.

But to me, sacred goes far beyond the boundaries of religion its much more spiritual. It could be a moment, a thought, a feeling, a word…

Like a particularly spectacular sunrise (or sunset), when the sky lights up in multiple hues that can only leave you gasping at the utter brilliance of the Creator…

A sacred sunset

Or the breathtaking beauty of a flower…

I find the sacred in the time I spend crafting, or when I lose myself in my art or photography

In the corner of the couch when I curl up with my journal

In the lyrics to a song that seems to speak to me

The sacred isnt merely religious its personal. Its a feeling of bliss, of connectedness, of peace.

Whats sacred for you?

A vision for 2012


Tons of ideas. Zero motivation. Image by orkboi via Flickr

This is the first post of this year. Almost a month into 2012. Over a month after my previous post.

After spending most of 2010 posting four times a week, week after week, I kinda dried out in 2011. I didn’t run out of ideas. I ran out of steam. Out of motivation.

That was my story for 2011. Not just for my blog – for my life. I slowed down. Despite myself. Notwithstanding all my good intentions.  I just didn’t have the will to do anything. But I want to change that.

The world is going to end in 2012, or so the Mayans said. I don’t believe that means the doom and gloom that Hollywood would have us believe. It means the end of a cycle. And the end of a cycle heralds the beginning of a new one. So this year, I intend to start anew. To begin afresh.


Investing in me. Image via Flickr

I’m not in a hurry. I want to do things slow – and get them right. So I’m going to take my time. To analyze the year that was. To examine where I am and determine where I want to be. To plan. To take one step, and then another and another. To start the journey. Because that’s what’s important. The destination will come. Or it won’t.

What’s important is moving forward. Learning. Growing. Challenging yourself. Being fresh.

As I analyze, learn, and grow, I will share some of my insights with you, my wonderful readers. So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, or in need of some motivation, stay tuned. The best way to keep up with posts – through my RSS feed.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut and broken free – do share your advice in the comments. I’m on the lookout for all the help and inspiration I can find!

The reading deprivation challenge


Image by henry… via Flickr

Books have taken over my life.

In The Artist’s Way (which, by the way, I have never managed to finish…discipline has fled the house!) Julia Cameron recommends a week of reading deprivation – she bans books, newspapers, magazines, everything – for at least one whole week. When I first read that, I balked at the very thought of it. And needless to say, didn’t follow through with the rest of the program.

But now, as I think about it, it makes a lot of sense – at least for me. It boggles the mind to think of the amount of time I would have to pursue other activities if I wasn’t compulsively stuck with my nose in a book every free second of every single day. I finish one book, sit back, inhale, and then wander over to my bookshelf to pull out the next book and start reading again.

book and coffee

Image by Josh Russell via Flickr

It’s starting to get freakish, this obsession I have with books. It starts in the morning – I curl up on the sofa with my cup of java to kick me awake and a book in my hand, reading at a feverish pace. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to move my butt and get ready for work. Once I’m back home in the evening, I rush through the chores (of changing and washing my face) and sit down to read. And read until well past bedtime, with mini breaks in between to welcome the husband home, squeeze in some small talk so he doesn’t think I’m insane, and during dinner.

Pathetic. Unhealthy. Irrational.

I’m beginning to see the sense in Julia Cameron’s approach. It’s time to bite the bullet. For someone as addicted it as me, it calls for serious measures. SO…reading deprivation for a month!



Wait! Did I just write that? Think that? What the hell is wrong with me? I’m never going to be able to stick with that! So…a compromise….How about…umm…a week? Every month? Reasonable enough, don’t you think?

But first, I have to finish the book I’m currently reading. And the one I’ve already decided to read after I finish this one. (I told you I was obsessive.) Then, a week of no reading. At all.

I’m freaking out already!

Preserved memories: On keeping a hand-written journal

Oh, the smell of fresh paper. The feel of the rough page beneath my hand. The sense of possibilities expanding before me, as I gathered together my thoughts, put pen to paper, and wrote.

20110914-015202.jpgGone are those good old days of keeping a hand-written journal. Of carrying around a diary everywhere I went, so I was never stumped if inspiration struck, or if I saw a particularly good quote that I wanted to note down forever, or just wanted to ruminate.

Gone are those days spent flicking through old journals. Looking at ticket stubs from that movie I went for on my first date. Of the restaurant bill from the last time I met up with my gang. The coffee spill that put so much more atmosphere into the story of me that I was writing.

20110914-013659.jpgAll of that has been replaced with my iPhone. True, it’s much smaller and lighter than my diary. It’s with me everywhere I go. The chances of my forgetting it anywhere are slim. But it’s just not the same as my dear diary.

There are no pages to rifle through. No coffee spills to highlight passages of my life. No drunken scrawls that I cannot decipher the morning after. It’s too neat. Too structured. Too…cold.

20110914-015125.jpgMaybe its time for me to go and buy myself a new diary. A leather-bound one this time, maybe. To doodle. To write. To keep for posterity. So that years later, when I am dust scattered over the earth, someone can come across it and say “Oh, so that’s what writing looked like in those ancient days!”

What do you think? Do you miss your hand-written diary? Or are you happy recording your thoughts digitally?

Lessons from Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is probably one of the most influential poet alive. She certainly is one of my favorite. I remember watching an episode on Oprah where she interviewed Maya Angelou, and one of the things she said that day, that stayed with me throughout the years, was that she never allowed people to talk negatively in her house. She said it created disharmonious vibrations that disturbed the peace and tranquility of her living space.

Today, I share with you a short clip, where Oprah talks to Maya Angelou, recounting the most important life lessons she heard from her.

Click here to watch the video

Hope you enjoy the video!

(Click to read older Spiritual Sunday posts)