empty head {3 min read}

It has been a rough couple of days. My brain feels like a tangled web of nerves. Pulsating, and throbbing while I try to unravel the sure from the unsure. It seemed very crystal clear till a few weeks ago, then the muddling started which I ignored and blamed it on my insecure and occasionally paranoid frame of mind. Focus was gung ho, and I was on a roll with many other parts of my life, meditation was working wonders as much as cycling, writing, cooking and a few other projects I’d taken on.

Life was humming along, not with autobahn perfection and speed, but just fine along the country roads with the window down and some breeze in my air. 60 mph would sum it up fine.

Then stuff happened.

It’s like I hit a bad crater on the country road, and realized I was out of gas, with no gas station in sight, and there was no cell phone service on a  dying phone and I was just told that the place I was thinking I was going to had shut down, and I am not allowed access there anymore.

It’s been rough and will be rough for a while till I figure out my next route, and figure out a destination that *I* want to go, and with whom or if I need to hike it alone, and if so how accepting I would be of it.

But, life goes on.

Companionship on such routes is over rated. My karma is talking to me, and I resign with slumped shoulders and a headache that pops a vein on my temple every now and then, and make dinner for another family too, and do what we all do. Go on with our day

I pick up munchkin from her class and we drive back home.

She usually likes to talk and i am not much of a talker, but I humor her every now and then. She was silent today, till halfway. She then reached out and started messing with my hair. I smile and move away.

She snaps “I am sooo bored!”

As I veer into our community, I exclaim “You were busy till now, we almost home!”

“But am bored! You don’t talk at all!”

We shouldn’t be talking all the time. It’s good to listen and be with our thoughts. They tell us stuff when we are silent.”

I reason with her and we smile at each other, she still petulant, and yearning to kick a fuss. Which she does.

“But mommy! I don’t have any thoughts! My head is empty. No thoughts. Nope, nothing. See, I knock, and it’s empty. Am listening to silence!” 

I smile and wish for her head to stay empty for a long time to come.

Coz once it starts to fill in, it’s a deluge. Much like our closets. Like the attic. Like the garage. Lots of junk that can hide the occasional rare gem that we forget to hold closer to our hearts.

 

 

crack this you sleuths

It’s a usual work day. I come down, and start the toaster, think briefly on what to make lunch for the girls, and realize the older daughter needed a bigger lunch coz she is staying late at school. Tell myself it’s okay to give them a sandwich as they had pasta yesterday. Start off my coffee in the microwave which I shall drink till it gets cold and insipid, but that’s normal.

Zephie comes to me, so I pet her, hug her for a bit, and then let her out. I take out the green chutney for the sandwich, a tomato, and leftover pizza slice. I place the pizza slice on palate and shove it in the microwave. Get the bread out, slice tomato thin, make the sandwiches and wrap them one after another in foil.

This lunch packing is a ritual. Something Ive been doing for many many years. Two lunch bags for 6 years or so, then 3 for the last 6 years or so, and now back to 2. It’s a routine. I sometimes sleep-pack through it. It’s a set number.

  • A main lunch – sandwich, pasta etc. (sometimes two)
  • Drink (from outside which usually the husband brings in)
  • Yogurt, Fruit, cookies/chips

It’s not something I fail at or forget one, it’s at least 4-5 different things that go into the punchbag. They all sit in neat little piles spaced separately coz each one’s varies slightly, and I don’t want to mess it up for the hungry ones. They come down and they pack, or I pack depending on where the lunch bag is. Ive been doing this for years now. It isn’t new.

I am not dreaming any of the packing up.

Today was no different. I finish sandwiches. Take out grapes, coz the daughter complained of too many apples, so I wash them in a colander, leave them to dry out a bit. Husband comes down and I ask him to bring in drinks. He has only one chocolate milk and one Capri sun, and I tell him to give the chocolate milk to the daughter and the juice pack to Munchkin. (they like it that way) He does, and he goes out to get the paper, Zephie follows him, and I am back to sipping my coffee and waiting for the pizza to toast, which I scroll on the twitter timeline. I smile at the ruckus I created with my midnight Bhel posting on instagram and go back to removing the hot pizza onto a foil. I pack the grapes in ziploc bags.

I go to the freezer and I get a Gogurt out for munchkin, place it next to her pile.

Two of each. Two cookies in wrap. Two grape bags. Two yogurts. Two sandwiches.

Her backpack is right on the chair, so I pull her lunch bag out from the front compartment. Zippered. The bag feels heavy and I frown. She hasn’t eaten her apple, and a small piece of her sandwich from yesterday is still wrapped in foil. Carefully, she brings it back home. I place the apple down, and trash the foil and place the dirty spoon in the sink. I start packing her bag, since I had it open anyway. Husband is across and he starts to get his cereal and lays his newspaper out. The girls are still upstairs.
I wipe the inside if the lunch bag out, and with a clean empty bag, I start packing. I place the sandwich in the pouch. The yogurt stands on the side, the grapes go in, and the cookies and the apple goes in too. Telling myself that I must remind her to eat it during recess so she isn’t too hungry when she comes home.

I need to use the restroom. Finally. So I do.

I come out and munchkin has her lunch bag in her hand and she and the husband look at me and ask if she can buy lunch? I say, Ive gone over this enough times, Just tell me the night before, coz then I wouldn’t pack your lunch? Also, you didn’t eat your apple, can you please rem to eat your apple at recess?

She looks blankly at me, and says, but you didn’t pack my lunch.

Huh?

What do u mean? I packed your lunch.

She and her dad stare at me like I lost it. No.. There is nothing in here, see? Except cookies.

Incredulous! See, daughter’s lunch is right here, I packed all of yours! Yes, that’s the cookies I packed! Orange one for halloween!

I look at them pointedly and ask if they are pulling a prank on me. Did you just empty it off thinking its old lunch. With munchkin, it’s possible. I dart to the kitchen trash. I see what I threw out, old sandwich wrapper, and yesterday’s yogurt boxes – nothing else. So I *did* empty her lunch bag. Husband is now concerned. He brought in the juice pack, so thank God, he decides to start searching with me coz now his juice pack has walked away. He starts looking at the laundry room’s trash. Then the pantry. The refrigerator. I look and look again in her back pack. Just books,  few folders. Its as clean as a whistle. the couch is on the other side. The deck door is closed. We even peek outside coz the daughter who has now walked into this panic, starts to joke. Maybe someone is sitting outside and eating away her lunch! haha.

I stare at her.

It’s baffling us. Where the hell did most of the lunch go? I know I packed it. I didn’t dream it up?

More searching. More blame game. More doubt. But within a few minutes we all come to the conclusion that none of us are playing a prank on each other, and that I did pack her lunch, at least made it, and then packed it and placed it into her backpack. Zippered it down too.

These are physical things. They don’t just disappear.

Husband asks me to get cracking and make lunch coz now we have just 15 minutes before the bus. The daughter packs her lunch nd they both eat cereal as we continue this craziness of repeatedly checking the same places again and again. A cold fear grips me. Husband also asks me if I dreamt it all. Did I have a senior moment. I am not even angry. I ask him what happened to his juice box and he calms down.

Life must go on. The dog needs to be walked. He starts moving.

I pack lunch again, with a worried look on my face. I tweet about a ghost in the house. Daughter assures me that it will be alright and she runs off, as she has to fill gas and then go to school. Munchkin is looking at me concerned. I shake out of it for her sakes, and talk about school and brush her hair and ask her to wear more layers. Its cold outside.

Zephie couldn’t have reached up. The deck door was closed. I packed it. I know the husband wouldn’t do this, not in the morning anyway. The girls were not down. Munchkin would never empty out her lunch bag. Who would open her back pack, take out the lunch bag, take out almost all of it, and then place it back in the back pack and zip it down? 

So what happened to the sandwich, apple, grapes in a ziploc, and yogurt and a capri sun juice pack?

Cold fear in my heart. I am a logical person. I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe everything has a scientific logical reason. I cannot find an answer. i tweet. People reply simply. I had earlier lost 2 cutting boards. No one knows where they went. One just doesn’t lose lunch bags’ contents.

I drop munchkin at the bus stand and crack a joke “Hope hat the sandwich stays and you get to eat it!” She giggles and slides out. I come back and i remember by sister telling me stuff that happened at her friends’ place and she was upset too with a cemetry in her backyard, and so she played Vishnu Sahasranama on a loop. I had smiled back then on beliefs and how they make us strong. I am not smiling now and am instead playing Lalitha and Vishnu on  loop.

I think back to my trip on Monday to Rock Creek Cemetery and wonder.

No, it can’t be. There must be a logical explanation for it. things should and must not disappear just sitting there.

It’s Halloween tomorrow. I must think of a costume for myself. I think i look scared enough without a costume.

Husband hugs me and tells me to move past. It’s okay. I nod. My brain will not let it go, coz my head tells me there should be an explanation for it. I am home alone with Zephie. A part of me wants to step out. There is so much to be done. Today was the day I would get cracking and get things done. I didn’t need this.

Anyone wants to take a crack at this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Zero to Goal: Resolutions

Written for Womens web

We all struggle with the must-do and the want-to-do categories of our lives and days. Any given day is flooded with a bunch of duties and responsibilities and then there are the ones that we would love to indulge, but cannot for various reasons.

Most of the times, we do things that we are meant to do. Including cooking dinners when you’d rather be curled reading a book, and babysitting kids while you’d rather watch a movie, and going off to work when you’d rather go play ball with your toddler on a bright sunny spring day. We do them coz that’s expected of them. Those are really inconsequential little details that make most of our lives. We kick a fuss, grieve and then accept, move on.

There comes a time when these little-sies become so huge that you feel like you are stuck in the story of how a million ants fell an elephant. The every days are so huge and so monumentally nagging and seem so adept at sucking away little bits of your time and energy that one day you wake up and you realize that months have passed by and you have not really done what you WANT to do, that goal is now covered in cobwebs and you wonder.

Happens to me every now and then. That’s also coz I have many goals. Just many small hills to climb, not one huge mountain, coz I know my limitations.

My new recent passion has been cycling. Yes, I cycle like my life depended on it. It does, but that’s another post for another day. So how did I fall upon cycling? Coz that’s the only thing left and safe for me to do before my knees buckle me down and I am confined to the chair and home.

Within a month of starting to cycle 3-4 times a week, I went from zero miles cycled to 33 miles.

Me, with weak knees and not exactly a sporty woman in her early 40s and with a zillion things that weigh her minutes down a day, managed to put in the mileage on the trails. Alone.

I did not know I could do it. Heck,. I did not even know where I would go or how far I would go. All I knew after the first ride was that I liked it. I liked the feel of the air on me, I liked the way my strong calves pedaled me forward, i liked the rush of balancing and striving hard to hold that balance and not topple down. I liked seeing fit and able bodies race past me on the trail. I liked their bodies. I liked the purposeful look in their eyes. I liked the way they included me in their space and the encouragement that the cyclist forum gave me, a beginner. I liked the childish glee with which I tweeted and Facebooked the maps and my mileage and how I felt during those hours. I liked people being happy for me. I liked the messages and emails I received telling me that I was an inspiration. I liked how surprised and shocked I was that there were many out there who were holding and grabbing onto straws for inspiration. I liked me panting in home after a brisk 20 mile ride. I liked receiving encouraging texts and congratulatory notes from my husband and my kids. I liked the look in my daughter’s eyes when I told her I cycled this many miles. I liked being her role model. I liked that feeling of accomplishment with every mile marker I passed. I liked how my body started looking and feeling, the legs being limber, the muscles in my back sturdier, the bas just a bit tighter. I liked the way my arms bronzed and darkened with the sun’s rays. I liked that I was able to do small goals and how much things came together so I could accomplish them.

I started with a simple goal. I had to go out and cycle almost every day.

When I got that under for a week, I upped it to 15 miles.

Then I added in one more mile. It got to be 18 miles.

Then I decided to up the speed. I went 11 mph, instead of a leisurely 10 miles.

Then I said, I needed to not be afraid of hills, and I changed my route a bit. I hated the hills. With a  passion. My knees hurt, but then there was no turning back. I had to do hills at least once or twice a week. At first I jumped off and walked.

Then I said, nope, am cycling no matter what, and I cycled. Slowly, but steadily, I balanced and kept my body straight on the cycle and pushed and goaded myself with a countdown and the mantra “go, go go go go” – I muttered and cursed and chanted till I reached the top.

Then more miles.

Then riding with other avid experienced cyclists, so I would not stop, but keep in pace. When you do not have a choice but to keep pace with the other stronger ones alongside of you, you cannot help become stronger. No one likes to be left behind.

How did I do it?

One big mountain can only be scaled by small measurable goals. So here’s what I did.

1. Precise goals

I told myself and wrote it down every morning what my goal was. Nothing vague like “I will ride today” Instead it was “I will cycle 18 miles today” , ” I will ride the slope without getting off my bike”  and so on. Very clear. Small goals. Not many at one time, but one thing to focus on.

Write it down, clear and bright. 

2. Break it down

So to be able to ride 18 miles – I had to be prepared. I ate better the night before, less carbs, more protein. I stretched the morning so my calves and hamstrings would be limber and not cramp. I force a bottle of water so it would last me through the time. I checked on the weather, so I could plan my time and avoid traffic to get to the trail on time. I made sure I had a healthy lunch at home when I came back tired. I made sure the phone was fully charged and I had all my gear in the van ready to go.

Support your goal to help you achieve it. 

3. Bulls eye 

Cycling was ALL I would think of the hours preceding it. It became an obsession. I would talk about it, haunt the forums, clean my bike, visualize my trail, obsess over google maps plotting the route, look back at my earlier rides and see how Ive done.

Become obsessive!

4. Why? 

The reason I was doing it was it made me feel accomplished. There was a purpose to why I woke up. I was never an athlete despite my mom’s genes, I was sporty enough, but nothing much as an adult. More importantly I felt the need to do it coz I finally found my aerobic calling. I couldn’t run coz I had bad knees and cycling was my savior, to squeeze in the panting and sweating and getting heart beat fast without injuring and hurting my knees. I was ecstatic!

Ask yourself why you were doing this? You must know why you are doing what you are doing. 

5. Journal. 

It felt so good to read back on your days and victories and the defeats and the pain and the difficulties. The good stuff eggs you on, the bad stuff makes you swear to never experience that again and so you will plot and ensure you will lessen it! I had my google maps of the rides charted, the smallest details in my journal, the miles and the times and the pantry where healthier food options started becoming stable. I was victoriously changing my lifestyle, and I was happy seeing my progress.

Writing down helps you visualize your road map better. 

6. Ownership 

YOU and only you own your goals. You are responsible for their success and for their defeat. You are the performer and you are your own audience. Your mind is judging you and you want to look better in front of your own eyes. You will strive hard, coz by now, you must want it, and want it real bad.

Practice loyalty. The goal is yours, and you belong to your goal. 

For some, these steps come easy enough. Some need some restrain and discipline and for some, who love to indulge in a million things and get distracted it is excruciatingly hard. Staying committed takes a lot of gut, discipline, sacrifices and pain, but when the smallest of victories changes you from within, the smile that comes through your heart and the sweat and grimaces will feel like it’s all worth it.

Goal setting is easy. Sticking to it is the challenge. Once doing it becomes a habit, it’s really just another hill to scale, so what if we aren’t familiar with the terrain, we stick to what we know, and we will scale the next one and the next and the next.

 

 

 

 

 

I no longer have patience

Of late, I have been reading voraciously. Just over the past few days, and exclusively on my phone. I used to not prefer that till last Thursday. I would mail in the material to myself and re-read it later on the laptop. Thursday, my laptop died. It refused to charge and it stayed dead. It was Saturday before I could take it to Best Buy and now Monday, before the Apple engineer restored it back up.
I didn’t miss it too much. I thought I would. Folks chalked every little snap or annoyance or brooding moment that reflected off my face over the past days to the possible withdrawals I was having from not tapping away at the laptop. Strangely, I wasn’t. The immediate explanation would be that I had the phone anyway. But no, the phone couldn’t and wouldn’t replace the laptop in many way. I missed the laptop to write here on the blog/a few writing assignments I’d undertaken, and to go google search, and plotting my cycle routes and calculating distances. I missed those in that moment, but after that it was okay.
When I let it sink in, it actually feels good.
It felt; and Ive always known it somewhere deep inside my sub-conscious that I am above a lot of the seemingly thick bonds I develop. With the people around me, and with some special objects I value. I am sensitive and I can get emotionally vested in relationships and values and people, but somehow when push comes to shove, I detach and watch the whole scene happen in an almost surreal ethereal unfolding of the drama. I know what will happen. I know the motions. I can sense it all, feel it deeply and yet not react.
Yes, am strange that way.
It’s probably my defense mechanism.
We all do.
Self-reservation and defenses I mean.
So in all my readings (not books, but tons of some fine incisive interesting articles that have flooded my thinking) I come across this fabulous piece, as said by Meryl Streep. She couldn’t have said it better. The words are exact, unapologetic and echo almost to the exact sentiment what I go through.  What the now older, mature 40 year old me thinks. It comes with age, nothing to do with maturity, wisdom or experiences, as much as we would like to believe.
It’s all of the above that comes with age.
When you really cannot take any more nonsense, coz it has struck a gong deep in your brain. The inner chamber, that the clock is ticking. The gong sets off roughly some time after you hit that FOUR -OH!
It’s when it hits you that you’ve lived half your life, adult life even, and everyone knows that when you reach the halfway point, the other half is usually a slope down. You could still peak differently, but going by the premise that life is a full circle, we all become acutely aware that the clock is ticking, and loudly, so we cannot ignore it any more.
Then you start looking inward and start making you the center of you.
You realize you don’t need anyone to be you.
You don’t particularly care for any acceptances, coz that doesn’t define you in anyway.
..and so on, till you really just cannot and will not take any crap. I realize now when I look back I never did take crap, but I had mellowed over the years, (the roles we play subdue us becoz of our vulnerabilities) but then we snap back again, secure in the knowledge that age is on our side, despite it not looking like it is!
I read this a few times. Twice aloud. When you read a written piece aloud, it sounds and rings strong and true. Try it sometime, you will realize. It’s the sound of your voice that your brain hears, affirmation so to speak.
Meryl Streep:
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature.
I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise.
I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement.
Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
Am not completely there yet, but I am nodding my head to what looks familiar, and almost everything is familiar. In varying degrees.
I have no patience.
Must live life like a droplet on the lotus leaf. There but not there. The luxury of freedom.