When Perception kills Enthusiasm…

“Subha, you must reduce your additional tasks; hey, reduce your outspokenness; you cannot succeed if you’re open; Try to reduce your assertiveness; sometimes it causes people to perceive things differently about you” – different advice from different people. Some with genuine concern too.

I’ve often heard comments on time management too. I’ve got questions on how do I manage to work, balance home and pursue my passion too. Well, the answer is simple. A day has 24 hours and your passion drives you where you want. While success in career is often measured by titles and job changes, I see it as a measurement of your inner happiness and motivation. To me success is also how much progress have you made for yourself.

“People think you have too less project work and hence able to concentrate on other tasks” someone stated. “People perceive you are interested in something else that you may lose interest in what you’re supposed to do” another comment. “You are new and shouldn’t disappoint colleagues around you with your traits. Someone somewhere may not like your attitude or style” yet another one.

At first I was disappointed and demotivated. I always strive to give in the best that I feel is possible. Stay passionate about something you do and the moment you lose passion, try to get back to track. If you cannot, don’t complain but leave. Opportunity to groom yourself is in your hands and do not complain that someone somewhere isn’t giving you the opportunity. My mind was asking a number of “why” questions of people’s judgement. I felt hurt too. I was upset that I asked myself “should I do what I am doing currently? Should I give up my passion?” I was fed up.

As I calmly lied down on my bed emotionless, I dissected my mind. “Am I smiling because people tell me I’m good? Am I crying because people tell me I’m bad? Am I smiling because I have a lot of friends who understand me? Am I crying because I have none who knows who I am? Am I smiling because I got a promotion sometime? Am I crying because I did not get a promotion when expected? Am I smiling because someone told me I have clarity of thoughts? Am I crying because someone told me I’m flooded with emotions?”

A thousand questions were targeting my brain like the dart. The world is huge and the players are many. Is it wise to make people decide if I should smile or cry? Isn’t happiness or sadness in our hands? Isn’t it we who must decide what our passion is and how we want to live our life? Isn’t it our genes that decides our traits? Isn’t it we who must feel responsible to groom and grow ourselves?

I got my answer and smiled. Perception from people about me shouldn’t kill my enthusiasm or passion. If it does, probably all the rumours are true – that I’m just trying to show off or trying to work for a promotion.

I am who I am and that’s my individuality. Each one has their individuality and can live their dreams. It wouldn’t be wise to explain myself at every point to every person. If I start doing that, my life would just end by doing only that and nothing else that I wish for in my life. If it’s my trait, I’d only continue and not give up. We must also understand imagination and perception of others is their right finally too 😉

Let perception not kill your enthusiasm! Let perception not hurt you! Let perception not turn you down. Move on with a smile and accept what comes your way!


When you’re doubted

“If you had a rebirth, what would you like to be born as?” – it was an essay writing homework when I was in grade 6. I wrote that I would like to be born as a tree as that spontaneously came to my mind. I remember the Ashoka tree that was tall and shook its heads to the wind and that was my favourite place at home. I’d sit beneath it for hours and do my homework. I remember the day it was cut and my heart bled. I cried over a month and cuddled the broken branch. To me it was a friend. The reason I gave for choosing to be a tree was that it gives us everything and left with nothing.

My teacher wrote a comment “I surrender my knowledge and wisdom in your simplicity. This is altruism at such a young age!” and I hardly was able to pronounce the word “altruism”.

“Can I help you?” – this was never a question in the olden days as people voluntarily helped each other. My dad always mentioned about the days in his village when his mom would just give away Kgs of dhal and packs of ghee from their farm to young moms having kids. He also fondly talks about her caring and sharing nature that the whole village looked into. I regretted that I never had a chance to see her.

This trait of my grandma continued with my aunt too and my dad is no less. I still can picturise each incident my dad narrated when I was a kid. I felt that it was normal human behaviour to help each other.

Dad actively pursued multiple tasks at any given point in time. I still see my maternal grandpa shedding tears that he has to stay away from work after the age of 85.

Sharing, caring and helping each other was something that motivates me always. I grew up quite old schooled (as per today’s generation). I haven’t watched a single movie online; I haven’t claimed an erroneous IT return; I haven’t copied in a single exam; I haven’t browsed internet for personal use in office; I haven’t used my office printer for personal use; I haven’t watched TV for more than seven years and that’s why I haven’t replaced my CRT TV at home yet.

My family still knows how mad I get on them if they call me while at work except in case of emergency. My daughter doesn’t dare to come to me or switch on the TV while I’m working from home. For me office and home are the same during working hours.

Now for all this, I only remain as a laughing stock and an old fashioned person. Well, that’s typically me and I’m happy being myself.

“Well, what am I living life for?” you may ask. I believe in personal connect with people; I believe in motivating each other; I believe in caring for each other and that’s what I do outside office. Online forums on anti depression, blogging, personal journals to reflect on myself – this is my happy, satisfying little world.

While this is me in my private time, will this trait change in my office time? It’s me and my genes! I get attached to the topic I work and treat it as my baby. I feel proud to work wherever I am and this loyalty makes me feel that I should give back more to the company that grooms me. I never complain on my workplace and that’s why I always have a happy workplace. For all the mistakes of people, why should we curse our workplace?

I feel guilty if I don’t pay attention to my core work and I feel guilty if I don’t have enough work. If worktime is for project, lunch and tea is for networking and helping each other.

I network and talk to people and a lot of times also speak on positivity at work. I know this world is moving towards negativity. Each cafeteria, each rest room, each pantry hears millions of negative stories everyday. I try my best to spread one percent positivity atleast. I’m not a leader but I try to support people who are in need. I feel glad to be approached by kids and youngsters at work.

My auto and cab rides are filled with experiences as each traffic has something to teach. I read articles and try to learn and groom myself. I talk about it to people at work too. I write to spread positive vibes around and that’s the least contribution I could do to the society where I live in.

When you do this in this little world, we must accept the fact that you’re doubted too. “Is there a motivation to do this? Is there a loss of focus while she’s doing multiple things? Is she crossing her boundaries? Is she trying to show off? Is she doing this for a promotion? Is she longing to gain fame? Is she trying to outsmart?” I smile to all such comments and walk away.

At times, I get frustrated, irritated and angry too. Am I not just another human with blood and flesh? Do I not have emotions and feelings? Yes I am and I calm down by writing. A million mind map finally brings me out of the frustration.

I pardon all those who throw such swords at me. I give up my ego and smile at the same set of people who put me down. After all, aren’t they humans too? Probably they did not hear stories of their ancestors who shared and cared for the society. How unfortunate of them not to know the joy of giving and helping.

The world is a great place to live. However you’d be doubted for all good things as people think nothing is offered for free. Remembering my words that I’d have loved to be born as a tree, I smile and move on when doubted!

Learning Life in German Class

It’s been about a decade and a half since I finished school. Career, family, hobbies – that’s how life’s spinning fast. As I stepped into the first day of German class, there I became a student – memories rewound!

Smiles, laughter, fun, learnings together. We are little kids again!

Pencil and eraser are our buddies again. Sharpening left overs are now our floral patterns. Too lazy to walk to the dustbin at times – reminds us of the days in school with cleaning duties for the day. Table scribblings have thousand stories to tell bringing back the lost smile!

School intervals replaced by coffee breaks. Chatterbox us – that’s never changed. “Ma’am, May I go to the toilet” are missed but just a walk away – am I rude?

“Miss and Ma’am” replaced by “Pooja and Anitha” – corporate training – we smile. “Exam pattern, important questions, syllabus, dates and last minute study” – the palpitations of the heart as good as just before our board exams. The last few weeks brought back the little kids in us. What else did we learn other than German?

Reason of pencils turning shorter day by day that my daughter gives bring back the lost smile.

Exam fear for kids – “Do I need to reassure her that it’s normal not to feel normal before the exam?” what else could a mother offer in this competitive world.

“Do I need to remind that numbers remain numbers on paper but what you learn is what remains with you?” as I tell myself just the day before my exam?

“Do I need to shout out to the world – to the younger generation that the board exams are just another passing clouds and do not end your life imagining your future is lost?” – pity to see many ending their lives even before beginning their lives!

“Do I need to remind – enjoy every moment and smile” as the lost days never return?

“Do I need to signal not to live a rat race and kill the little child within us?”

Not sure how much I progressed in learning German but the last few weeks has truly made me look back the little girl within me. Smiles, laughter, friendship would not be forgotten. Learning life from my German class was a much needed break from the hustle bustle!

Migraine – The painful truth

World Brain Day 2019 is themed with “Migraine” one of the common and disabling neurological diseases in the world.

A lot of times we tend to ignore migraines as “just another head ache” and sometimes we get overwhelmed that we just panic when we feel cloudy. Ignoring too much or panicking too much is not wise. Rather we need to strike a balance between the two.

There are lot of myths associated with migraine. Being a sufferer of migraine, a lot of times I had been advised not to take too much stress. I’ve also heard from friends that there is a stigma associated with Migraine and often called as a “psychological disease”. The truth is migraine is a neurological disorder. Well, even if it is a psychological disease, don’t we have to accept the fact and look for a solution?

There are different kinds of migraine that your doctor maybe able to explain such as migraines with aura where the person is able to visualise geometric patterns and has disturbance in vision during an attack.

Migraines without aura also exists. Women also suffer from menstrual migraines. I’m not an expert nor a medical practitioner to speak about it. Rather I’d like to talk about it as a patient to let you know that this is normal and there is nothing to be worried or embarrassed about.

A couple of months back, I had a severe attack of migraine during my business trip. I was on my menstrual cycles bleeding heavily over a week unusually. My migraine was heavier than usual that I felt foggy too. After a couple of pills, I overslept too. I was extremely embarrassed of it and was unable to face my colleagues. This was an unusual attack after quite a number of years and I was afraid if I’d get into my darker days where I had similar symptoms more than a decade back.

Thinking too much about it made me sick. I felt too low and also felt difficult concentrating. I felt my capacity was coming down a big time and also felt handicapped. This further broke me down. I was upset about my fluctuating memory. My neurologist assured that things will fall in place gradually.

To some of my colleagues it seemed unusual and I could sense it too. I felt too emotional and tried to explain. The more and more I’d explain, the more and more I started feeling anxious. It was then I realised, that these are just passing clouds and started focusing on the solution.

I carried medicines with me regularly and also expected the worse to happen anytime. I was just prepared for my hard days and learnt to accept it. I was no longer worried of what my colleagues would think but rather moved on with my smile as usual.

Migraine is a common neurological disorder. Although it’s not curable completely, we could only try to be precautious. Always keep a headache tracker to see your pattern. Take your medication on time and as soon as you feel your attack has started. You may feel foggy and forgetful at times. Pardon yourself for the same and move on with a smile. Confusion of thoughts is purely a neurological disturbance that is beyond your control. Do not worry of people turning judgemental as people are anyways going to judge you in this society.

On this “World Brain day – 2019”, let’s pledge to create an awareness of this disabling disease in our society. Let’s show each other that we truly care. Let’s break the myths and accept that it’s another chapter of life and move on with a smile. Let’s create a sense of trust and not turn judgemental over the sufferers. Let’s use our brains and understand the true facts!

Happy World Brain Day!

The Smile

Splashing some cold water on my face, I energise myself at 5 am. I greet my colleagues at 7 am and bid goodbye to them by 6 pm. “It could be overwhelming” my manager said when I took additional tasks and “isn’t it overburning?” Someone asked and all that I had was a smile. No answer to the questions they had nor to the questions of what I want! But yes “happiness” is just one word to say how I feel when I take up my passionate tasks.

Finishing my tasks at home, I plead my little toddler to go to bed but in vain. There I retire close to midnight to notice that my husband is still not home. “When was the last dinner together?” I questioned myself and remembered the day when we had gone out for dinner and he got a P1 call with a customer that I finished my dinner all alone!

“In a meeting. Will call later” – the standard set of texts that I get when I call him. Waiting for a ping, Im almost dozing at the table.

There I get one – “Whole Datacenter is down. I need to engage my experts and be on call with clients. Will be late home” – I send “take care. Good night” with a hope I can meet him tomorrow morning being weekend. “Weekend activity” my brain reminded of the maintenance weekend he mentioned about. I smiled! “Yet another weekend” should I sigh or “just another weekend” should I smile?

Though this has been the situation for over a decade now, I still keep up the hopes and move on with a smile. I really mean it – “probably he’s the man from whom I learnt dedication and passion. That’s my husband to me” – no midnight cakes or flowers to celebrate our special days but only business discussions. Yes, he’s been my mentor too!

There have been days when I got fed up too but I don’t like to complain as I am adamant of my career too. I respect that he respects me and isn’t that a mutual relationship too? “Are we successful in career?” you may ask “we are happy” I smile!

“Hope your day is fine. Take care” is all that I could say to make it easy on him than sending million texts to fight and lose my peace.

But yes, I don’t regret for I know he’s mine and I’m his. With hopes to meet him this week, I retire to bed!

Need no pities from anyone around as you can still see me smile. It was only to say that “happiness lies in our hands” – find it in love or job or family or relationships but don’t lose it in you. Happiness starts with you!

⁃ Dedicated to most Indian IT couple. Be passionate about what you’re doing and move on with a smile. Do not crib about what you’re going through as this is our choice! If you still are worried, there is an easy answer – “quitting”. If not, keep the curve on your face moving high – the smile and the passion!

The tonsure

A bright and sunny day when all the family members gathered. I was quite anxious since a few days. “He is too adamant these days. He forces himself to retract behind and hits hard when he’s unhappy or angry. Would he do that too stubbornly while they tonsure his head? Would he cry too much holding his breath?” I was restless. Tonsuring (shaving the head) is a tradition which all toddlers go through. We were in our family deity temple to perform the religious rituals.

The barber poured some cold water on Pranav’s hair. He smiled. Second time – he cackled; third time – he gazed! I was anxious. Proactive Harshu, my daughter sat in front of him with his favourite rhyme “wheels on the bus”. My little man continued to gaze as the barber slowly started shaving his head. He continued with smile and was focusing on his favourite rhyme. Until the last hair was shaven, there wasn’t a shake from my little one. All of us awed. Once done he smiled and didn’t even realise his hair is gone.

He continued playing as usual. We showed him in the mirror, made him feel his head with his tiny little hands too. A couple of times, he touched his shaved head and within a minute he started playing. In between he touched it rarely but didn’t look bothered. He laughed and played energetically.

As I started back to Bangalore, some me me time to reflect. What did my little kids teach me today? “Stay focused and nothing can bother you!” As you stay focused, even the troublesome situations, your bothering people, the knife that scares you, the society that laughs at you – nothing can be burdensome. Your focus would only be on what you like and what you’re engrossed with. Isn’t this enough to make yourself happy and successful?

As I remembered my little man remaining unbothered of his lost hair – isn’t this we need to learn to let go and learn to accept? A lot of times we continuously think of what we have lost and worry. We think of the past and brood over it. We are unable to move on but our heart bleeds with pain. Learning to let it go and accepting is something which can bring back the cheerful us. Should’ve we accept the failures or situations and move on?

What did my daughter teach me? To be proactive and look for solutions to any problems! While I was only anxious about what would happen, she just found a simple solution. Most of the times, we constantly think of problems in life that we forget to find a solution. Rather than paying attention to the problem and brood over it, shouldn’t we use our brain’s resources to think logically and find an answer?

Finally, one great lesson of life “Reality is not as scary as imagination!” I was anxious and felt insecure about this event although it was intended to be a ritual. I was too impatient to wait to face the reality. What did I earn? Just tension and stress. But the reality was rather simple. Isn’t it the same we go through at every stage of life? We follow our wildest imagination and get too anxious and depressed about what the future is going to bring. Rather if we just focus on accepting the reality as it comes, life becomes much simpler and peaceful!

A tonsure worth to remember! I gazed at my little man and he cackled clapping his hands!

Accept yourself

“Hello Subha, your blogs are positive and helpful. However I see that you probably look at the bright side as you have just seen good things in life. Maybe depression and anxiety is something you never came across” started the email. The lady had poured out all emotions to explain what she is currently undergoing. Finally it ended with “Why is it always me? The whole world smiles and I have no one”.

I shut down my phone screen and closed my eyes for sometime. Like a photo reel, my mind played every little incident. The dark days, depression, anxiety, tears, fear, feeling lost and so on. Almost a decade since those dark days in my life. However I wouldn’t say I’m completely out of it. It’s just stepping over it accepting reality of life.

Too much emotions and getting attached to people and situations was something that caused me to live an anxious life always. I was constantly worried about losing my best people. This resulted me in reassuring myself and my situation every now and then. In fact this was not helping me by any way but rather made me at my worse. The feeling of rejection, loneliness struck me too. The constant explanation about situations to people made me still lose my best people and sometimes my self respect too. Not many in the world has time for anxious and depressed people. You may only be treated as laughing stocks or sometimes pitied but that’s not getting any solution!

Another major drawback that I had and still have to work on is a strong sense of bonding – to the topics I work. I get over obsessed with it that I just cannot get over a separation on topics that easily. This eventually drains me too. I get obsessed of my career and the future ahead that makes me feel lost and anxious too.

Having said that, how did I attempt to overcome my challenges? By doing mind maps. The day thats bothering me, I create a mind map to ask myself what I’m going through. I write down my feelings, causes, what do I need, what will happen if I don’t get what I need, the trait of mine that has put me into this state and how to get over it. Once I finish my mind map, I’m able to reflect my own flaws and take corrective actions. It’s simple said than lived. But my quote that I have instilled in my mind – “my problem, my solution” makes me move towards it.

Doing this constantly with a feeling of satisfaction that I have moved an inch forward gives me happiness. It’s not for the world that I need to prove I’m good but for myself to keep me positive and happy.

After doing this over and over again, I started accepting myself with my flaws. Since I now know my own flaws and the corrective actions that I need to perform, I don’t wait for the troublesome situation to happen but I just proactively prevent myself getting into that mode. Sometimes I get mocked by comments such as “you have lost your emotional side” by my friends and family too. However I smile within myself that it’s just a way to get over my flaws.

Recently I was disappointed about the way my career was moving. It was a mismatch of expectations. I grew anxious about the future and I only saw my career and job in my dreams. I was constantly battling with my inner self.

On a parallel stream, a close friend of mine had just stopped communicating and I felt lost. For almost a month I couldn’t get over it. I was trying to understand my friend and his change. I was questioning myself if I was the reason for this change and did I hurt him in any way! Probably I spoke too much on my anxiety of career which he is not responsible of anyways! Or he is stuck with something else personally that he couldn’t explain to me.

I was over obsessed and constantly thought about both the situations and what did I earn? Migraines, cloudy thoughts and forgetfulness.

Later did I realise that the solution is just in my hands. Regarding my career, I cannot change the current situation but can definitely do my best. “Work hard, do your best and move on” my mind whispered. “You don’t have to simply hate people or situation and bother yourself.” Even if things don’t move in the right direction, you can sense a feeling a fulfilment that you have done the best you know!

Regarding losing people, it could also be that I had unknowingly passed on my anxiety to my friend that he felt stressed and decided to move. There is nothing wrong in this. Working on my anxiety is my responsibility and I shouldn’t pass on my stress to him which would just result in losing good people. Depression and anxiety are hard to explain, especially in a society where it’s taken to be a taboo.

Finally, I can still cherish the moments as good friends and thankful to him for being a great moral support when I needed and wish him the best always.

I realised that I was deviating from my positive smile towards greyness and immediately pulled my steering back to pace. Since I accept myself with my flaws, I can perform corrective actions on myself. I wrote down solutions for myself and learnt to get over with bothering situations.

Sometimes it’s ok not to be ok but we should learn to get over it and move on and not constantly indulge ourselves into unhappy thoughts or situations. Talking about what pains and hurts once is ok but not regularly to get deep into it. What we need to remind ourselves is how to treat the pain and get over it to bring back our smiles and hopes!

I look around to see the plants that grow even in the little space they get, amidst the rain and the wind. I look around to see the stray dog that finds its own shelter and food. I look around to see my little toddler bumping on the wall and testing his threshold of pain. While the whole world is pushing into its own rotation and revolution, why can’t we, the so-called sixth sense being?

Accept yourself and work on your own challenges. Do not ask “why only me” but just ask “how is it still me? What should I do to get over it?”

Act cautiously – be your own mentor, reflect and take steps – the world is yours!

The Mirage

Bangalore to Kumbakonam – About 7 hours drive. The mountains, the palm trees, the bushes – everything looked green and cool. As I dropped the window, I could feel the reality – the scorching sun was opening his mouth wide to send the gush of hot air.

Kids were playing and I was looking around admiring the beauty of Mother Nature. Trees by the sides, the roads seemed to penetrate the forest area long enough like the tail of Hanuman. We moved further and I noticed different expressions from different trees and objects around.

“I lost my power” said one whose branches seemed to droop. “I’m just lonely” said the far distant one. “I’m ready to help as much as I can” mentioned the tree that spread it arms wide around. “I’m thorny just to save myself” whispered the shrubs. “I’m the one that shows light in darkness” winked the radiators on the roads. “I’m the one stamped by thousands of people and I still lead them to their destination” smiled the roads. “I’m the spongy candy; try to reach me” – it was the clouds. “I’m hot but not angry; it’s just my nature” the mighty sun!

The roads twisted, turned and curled around but calmly moving towards the destination it intended to. Reminds me that we just need to move on focusing on our goals for life.

The land looked dry and there was no emotions around. Finally, there I see some traces of water. “Did it rain last night?” I wondered. The sheet of water every few hundreds of meter disappeared quickly as we approached it. The sheet looked as transparent as glass and glossy too. The reflection of cars from the opposite direction broke the transparent glass like water. “The glass seemed to be disturbed – maybe its dreams were shattered too!”. I wanted to capture the beauty of the glossy sheet and failed with multiple tries. I continued on and on but still failed. My eyes locked the beauty of the water in my heart, however the eyes of my phone camera failed.

Little did I realise that I was chasing “the mirage” which was just an optical illusion. The beauty of the mirage was it appeared transparent but covered the real road beneath. It masked the reality of the hot road.

“Hey, the person who appeared as my best friend suddenly disappeared. I’m upset and worried. Is being emotional my mistake?” the words of my cousin last night brought tears in my eyes. “What was my mistake” his shrill voice seemed to echo in my ears. I had explained him of my similar experiences and told him to learn to detach and move on.

“My career dreams are shattered. I thought it was understood and moved ahead but it has brought in unexpected results. I’m obsessed and unable to come out. Everyone around me gets what they want and why is it only with me?” my friend was in tears.

Every once in a life, we do come across such situations. It could be with a person, with a situation, with a career or sometimes with ourselves. We chase illusions around. We look at it from a distance without knowing the reality. We fail to see the thorns of the shrubs, the hot roads, the Rocky Mountains. We fail to see there is another side too.

It could be that the illusion is by itself just another illusion. It has its reasons to be an illusion too! This could be confusing but trying to understand it is reality!

Every illusion has a science behind it why it appears to be an illusion. Refraction of light by heated air causes an appearance of a sheet of water on hot roads – the mirage! So there is a reason behind every illusion too.

If your mind throws millions of questions to you about a person, situation, career or about yourself – it’s just trying to understand deeply. But the illusion created by yourself has a reason associated – that is what your mind believes. The mind develops and believes it – sometimes it gets hurt and sometimes it tries to soothe. Understanding the reason of this illusion brings in an understanding of what your subconscious mind wants.

Finally it’s just a mirage and we need to accept that there is no water and move on. We could throw questions on why we feel sad or emotional but our constant chase of the mirage is not going to relieve our thirst. Your eyes don’t have to be blamed for the illusion it saw nor the illusion itself needs to be blamed as it has a reason too. “Is it my mistake for being emotional?” I now seem to answer my cousins question.

You can still capture the memories of the transparent mirage and cherish it. Your eyes do not have to become blind for seeing an illusion. You can just be yourself – friendly and open as always! You can just continue chasing your dreams and relish your thirst with real water!

Finally we just need to move on accepting reality and search the water we need – live life and go in the direction of your goals without creating a fools paradise around. It’s just you chasing your dreams and let it become a reality! Stop trying to catch the mirage or punishing your eyes for capturing them!

At 33 I learn

“Tomorrow is Amma’s birthday. Amma would you go to office? Will we go for dinner? Appa, what did you buy for amma” my daughter was over excited and I smiled. Promising to spend the evening together tomorrow, I sent her to bed. My little toddler was excitedly playing and throwing his toys. Pending kitchen chores invited me and I settled them all.

Tomorrow is Harshu’s first day to school again – I glanced at her things that she neatly put in her bag. I checked her stationery and they were arranged too. “An independent child is she” I smiled. Keeping her uniform on the table, checking if there are enough things for breakfast tomorrow, I retired to bed.

Lightning struck through my window and the thunder roared too. Party pops are these, should I say? The ceiling fan ran without rest and gave away all that she could – the cold breeze to us! Cherry and Zooie shrunk their tails to tell me they were scared of the thunder. A hug to reassure them that everything is fine was all that was needed to calm them down.

Calmness around me wakened me up. 33 years – quite a long journey of life. I turn back to see all colours and emotions. What’s special about this day? What should I do? What should I say? A million thoughts flowing within me!

Kindergarten days – first day to school, excitement of new environment, separation anxiety; primary school – glad for new responsibilities, first cycle, the first fall, the bleeding knee, first pen, ink marks; high school – the first march past, the first guides camp, the first experiments; higher secondary – the first anxiety, the future dreams, the first farewell, the first separation from best pals;

College days – the first stage, the first symposium, the first seminar, the first stay tour, separation; First job – the excitement, the anxiety, the assessment, the first salary, the first proud moment of shopping for parents!

Wedding – the first responsibility, special cooking, the first challenge of balancing home and work; Pregnancy – the first two pink lines, the first morning sickness, office talks, separation from friends for maternity; Baby – the first little fingers, the first feeling of mine, the first cuddle, the first smile; Cycle repeats with the second one!

Work – the first role, role change, team change, job change, company change, manager change, colleagues change, political change, client change, feedback change, challenges change!

I smiled to listen to my heart. “How many appraisals have you completed?” my mind questioned – “12-13” it was a spontaneous answer from my head. “Not efficient – 33 should be!” it was my mind again. I was puzzled.

Birthdays are times to remember that we have run continuously for a year and it’s time to self assess. Company policies ask us to have a mid year assessment and a year end assessment and not many of us do. We just wait for the year end to arrive and complain. Should we do the same mistake in life? Isn’t it important to do a self assessment of ourselves atleast once a year and understand if we have become a better person. “How true is this!” I agreed to my mind.

At 33, I understand there is nothing to get anxious in life. Life moves at its own pace and all that we need to do is do our best always and keep moving.

At 33, I understand that waiting at the traffic is just more time for ourselves to stop running and reflect about our day.

At 33, I learn that the art of being transparent eases out things better- a clear mind and a clear voice is all that is needed to not burden or keep things in our mind!

At 33, I learn that don’t panic for the call of your zone in the flight and watch your watch hundred times. Waiting is not a pain and you will just get your chance – not only in the flight but also in life.

At 33, I learn that it’s not the appraisal or rating that decides who you are, what you are capable of but the smile on your face, satisfaction in your job, a feeling of fulfilment you get the day your salary is credited that you have done a good job to take this money.

At 33, I learn that you cannot have everyone to understand you nor make everyone happy for you. Do your duties honestly and be true and do not worry about the world. You don’t have to explain yourself but just act consciously.

At 33, I learn that being friends doesn’t mean to be an ally and side someone always but being a true friend means you correct him with your open feedback. Never be afraid to tell him what you feel and if you lose him for that, then probably he was never your friend.

At 33, I learn that listening to my own flaws from others and not reacting defensively but taking it openly with a view to correct myself will make me progress as a better person.

At 33, I learn I cannot correct people for their wrong understanding. Even if I try to, it never would work. I can only tell once and if they’re open they’d listen.

At 33, I learn that every little thing around me has something to say. I just need to keep my six senses working to derive my own motivation.

At 33, I learn that nothing in the world is easy. Strive hard, push yourself towards what you want and be adamant to reach your goals. Sometimes it may seem a setback but push yourself and move forward. An inch moved is better than a stagnant immobility.

At 33, I learn that you can still do a good job and stay committed although you may not like your role. It’s the passion to do the best that would keep you running – be it a cleaner job or an executive.

At 33, I learn that you don’t have to wait for the opportunity and say opportunities never come. “Yes, opportunities never come; you need to create them!”. Find your own ways to do what you like and create your own opportunities. Do not worry of the outcome.

At 33, I learn if I want to grow and move, I simply have to do it. I can speak to people, seek mentors, learn from the good things around me. I don’t have to curse myself I’m not growing. If I’m not growing, it’s a serious fault in myself and not the environment or others. Growing doesn’t always refer to fancy job titles or promotion but rather the progress I have made for myself to be a better person.

At 33, I learn that I don’t have to have a title to be a leader or a mentor. I can do my best and if I demonstrate my values, and help people I create my own mentees.

At 33, I learn that I have the monster and angel within me- my negative and my positive mind. Our human mind intends to listen to negativity and move deeply into sad thoughts but we need to listen to the feeble voice of positivity and come out.

At 33, I also learn that you need to learn to detach yourself from people, situation and shortcomings in life. Constant questions of why and how will only eat your brain. Detach from the situation and move on to understand this is life.

At 33, I learn that life need not be a paradise always to stay happy. Happiness is in your heart and you just need to be happy for facing the shortcomings with courage.

At 33, I learn that self motivation is the best motivation. You don’t need a friend or a group to express how you feel. A simple paper and pen are enough to do a mind map and look at the beautiful things in life.

At 33, I learn that I can smile at life’s challenges to say I’m moving.

At 33, I learn that I have million things to learn to make myself a better person.

At 33, I learn, Colourful clothes, fancy dinner, icing on the cake – doesn’t make a birthday; rather birthdays are meant to be special for one reason – to celebrate that you’re reborn every year to be a better person in life.

I smile – at 33, I learn!

Learning to walk

Something was bothering me since a week. Questions of career, aspirations, expectations, and reality! My job role took a deviation in a different direction than it was intended to be. I wasn’t happy about it but continued as usual. “Emotions shouldn’t affect work” and I strongly believe this.

I continued my project work and my interests too – tasks that I picked up for myself to reduce my stress at work and keep me motivated.

“Amma, Pranav walked without any support. He said “amma” too! Two milestones at once” hearing my daughters excitement and watching my toddler taking his baby steps over Whatsapp video, my cheeks received the droplets from my eyes! “Pra – na – vvv” my voice box seemed to choke. I turned away from the phone to wipe my tears and got into the train.

I was on a business trip and my kids were at my moms home. “Won’t you miss your kids?”, “How do you stay away from them for weeks?” daily questions from people. I remembered my last interview when I had just returned from maternity and applied for my current job. “How would you manage a transition project with a 5.5 month old baby?” – “No pain, no gain” was my answer. I believed it too!

I sat by the window to see the droplets that hit the glass. The sky looked gloomy and the wind was showing her anger. The curtains flapped quickly to show its resistance, and hit against the windows. I closed the glass and it pleaded not to. Like a kid sitting on the floor, adamantly asking for toys at the mall, the window was resisting my pull. I pulled him with all my force and shut it down. My mind was blank and could see the young moms walking with prams downstairs.

“The queue for moms with infants at the airport, the baby bassinet at the flight, the adamant toddlers in the trains, the pink smile and the blue cries in the streets, moms with prams at the signal, cute little girls holding their moms hands, inquisitive queries” – sight of all these reminded me of my kids. My eyes were following these and my lips reacted with a smile!

“You missed Pranav’s milestones. What are you gaining now? Did you reach your milestone that you set for yourself? You’re just a cruel selfish mom” the monster within me was killing. The flapping curtains slapped me. I looked at my sisters chat – the pictures of my happy kids brought a smile on my lips leaving pain in my heart. “Am I doing a good job as a mom? Is this separation worth?” questions as usual! Well, no one forces me for anything and it’s just me and my adamant nature.

My mind streamed Pranav’s walk over and over again. He tried a step and fell down, got up and retried. He was unstable and still tried to move on. There was a pillow in between and he stopped for a while. He looked around and took the other direction. It was narrow and he fell down without a support. He crawled a little ahead and stood up again. He moved again on his own. He touched the wall and left it again. Probably he wanted to be on his own. He smiled every time he fell down and again stood up. He moved ahead and his slow walk progressed him to where he wanted. He picked up the toy in front of him.

Something tried to speak within me. I tried to pay close attention. It was a feeble voice. “This job role is not that brings in responsibilities. You can still do what is possible.” As I started listening, the voice was becoming stronger. “It might look unstable in the beginning but the challenge is how do you walk the rough path. You can move on and on – all that you have to do is take a stop, crawl, stand up, take a step and move forward.”

“Push yourself and walk ahead. Being unhappy with a job role doesn’t stop you from staying committed. You can do your job with the same pace, commitment and dedication without any emotions. Bring in interesting topics that you’re passionate about, additionally and move on. Taking up side topics that you like at work balances the stress too! A toddler is learning to walk his path on his own and you’re his mom!” the angel within me reminded!

Every separation brings you more responsibilities. This separation was worth it. “Fruitful workshops, outcomes, mentoring sessions, collaborating with old and new colleagues, new connections, new learnings; wasn’t this worth this separation? There wasn’t a minute wasted without a learning. That’s the progress you made for yourself. Comparing yourself with what you were three weeks back – there has been a small progress and that’s a sign you’re learning to walk! Come what may, move ahead with a smile” my moms guilt was flying.

I looked out of the window and the sun smiled at me. The cloud was gone and the sky appeared blue. I opened the window and the curtains seemed to hug me. The grass looked fresh and it’s just the way to change our outlook. “I’m learning to walk” I smiled!