Category: gratitude

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

Technically April is the exam month but actually it’s March that’s the toughest one because anticipation is always worse/better than the real thing. Right? 

All of March we’re making timetables, failing to stick with them (because daily school assignments are still coming in), constantly remaking, readjusting and generally struggling to get through the portion.

However once exams kick off things fall into place.

Contrary to what the children believe, I’d much rather let them play all day than get them to study, I’d much rather they be outdoors than cooped up inside grumpy and grouchy, I’d much rather curl up with a book myself than drive them to theirs.

Not that they’d ever believe it but March really isn’t the easiest of months for any of us.

Couple that with plans of changing houses this year and you’ll know why things have been rather stormy. Like I’ve said before I’m not a great multitasker so managing the children’s exams as well as the nitty-gritties of getting the new house ready, proved a bit much.

So what’s there to be grateful for you might wonder. Lots actually, when one thinks about it.

The new house

It hasn’t been smooth sailing all month – what house can be made without a few upsets? Yet, almost always, rather miraculously, things have set themselves right by the end of each day. There was just one day that I lost sleep and that because I was reading a rather disturbing book, nothing at all to do with either the exams or the house. That’s some thing to be grateful for.

New found independence

I used to have these horrifying visions of sifting through college-level portions of unfamiliar subjects teaching twenty-something H and N. Mercifully that nightmare may just not come true. Thanks to my pre-occupation with the house I have had to leave them to manage their studies on their own and they didn’t disappoint entirely. Each year I see them become just a little bit more independent and that gives me heart.

And camaraderie

In another, rather significant development, they’ve also helped each other out, though those experiments haven’t always been successful. The other day I asked H to help N with something. To his credit the poor boy tried but she kept giggling and refusing to pay attention. I realised it was a bad move when I heard him threatening her with, ‘Tell me or I’ll punch you’ and ‘Tell me or I’ll cut off your hair’ with such vehemence that I had to abandon whatever I was doing and take right over.

Conversations

Exams might be a bit of a trial but I have to admit the one thing I like is that the we’re together more than we are otherwise. You see the contradiction? I want to curl up with my book and not bother about them and yet I love it when we spend time together even though a lot of it involves being driven up the wall.

The thing is exams are a break from the normal school-homework-play-sleep cycle. They’re home more often. We go for walks in the night after we wrap up for the day and we talk.. a lot, about everything under the sun. And I love that.

Acceptance

I’ve sort of made peace with the way they study. I understand that they aren’t anything like my sister and I used to be. I understand that they won’t be glued to their books like we used to be. I’ve come to be grateful for the fact that they aren’t stressed out of their minds. I am also learning to make peace with the idea that perhaps that will affect their scores, but I have to be okay with it.

It’s not an ideal situation but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m just grateful the children have been happy and healthy, the rest, I hope, shall follow.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

February is one of those months that are nice in a very understated way. The new year has settled in, there are no great celebrations or festivals, no birthdays or anniversaries also for us, yet it’s short and sweet and just nice.

For me this has been a happy month full of books and reading, some successful kitchen experiments and lots of love from family, both real and virtual.

A celebration

Oops did I just say there are no celebrations? Well that wasn’t quite true. In fact we began the month with one because February 1st was World Read Aloud Day. I rounded up a handful of children from our apartment complex and organised a read-aloud session. We sat around a table, eating biscuits, reading out portions from favourite books and reciting poems. We followed it up with word games and the children went a little crazy, happy crazy, that is. The best kind of crazy, right?We had so much fun that I’ve promised myself that I’ll do it better next year with a little more planning.

Happiness between the pages

While on books and reading, this year I resolved to buy fewer books so I could make my way through my burgeoning unread collection at home. As the resolution fervour wore off and I was beginning to feel sorry for myself (even though I had no right to) the Universe stepped in and two brand new books arrived at my doorstep. They were from my dear blogger friend Soumya. She wrote me the sweetest message that absolutely made my day. A just-like-that gift really is the best kind of gift. And if it’s books it’s even better.

Then Shantala from Shanaya Tales hosted a giveaway and I won it and Becoming by Michelle Obama came home. This was one book I was really looking forward to reading. I’m half way through it and I’m loving it.

The other happiness was the discovery of a book cafe close home. It’s the most delightful little place with stacks of books that one can read over a cup of elaichi chai or a bowl of maggi. I’m looking forward to spending some happy hours there.

In the kitchen

I did a fair bit of cooking thanks to Rachna’s blog. It has become my go-to place for recipes. I tried Gajar ka halwa and it turned out so well that I made it again and then again. I have now locked it up safely in my list of ‘Fool proof recipes I can successfully replicate’ along with a small handful of others. Then I tried stir-fry broccoli which also turned out to be a no-brainer.

Happy kids

The children have been in a happier space this month. H’s allergies, which he has been struggling with for over a year, seemed to have taken a break. He has been sleeping better after ages. He hasn’t ever been too sound a sleeper but it reached crazy proportions over the last year. Nothing seemed to work. He has no access to gadgets during weekdays, not even television. On the odd day that we do watch TV, it’s not much. And yet he has difficulty falling asleep and wakes up a number of times at night. We tried to get him to read before he sleeps, tried massaging his feet, tried warm milk and jaiphal – everything that anyone suggested – but it wasn’t much use. I’ve been toying with the idea of consulting a homeopath. Maybe after the exams I’ll do that.

Yup, exams are round the corner and we’re gearing up for them. The maid has announced a week’s leave, N has a new idea for a novel and plans for the after exam-party are underway. Yeah, that’s how we gear up.

Come on along March.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

A week into February and the New Year hasn’t quite lost its sheen yet. That essentially means I’m going strong with my exercise routine, even though the weighing machine doesn’t seem to have noticed!

Anyhow, I am grateful my spirits are still up, and that’s the most important thing.

We began the year with..

…the almost-teens staying up till midnight for the very first time. The Husband was home and four of us stayed in watching a film award show (my guilty pleasure!), eating chips, pizza and cake and washing it all down with coke and wine (no guilt for those, after all it was New Year’s Eve. However this could give you some idea why the weighing machine doesn’t move :-)).

Other than the food we also indulged in serious celebrity spotting exclaiming at how cute Ranveer and Deepika looked while N rued that Zero didn’t make an appearance anywhere at all. H pretended to be annoyed at all the excitement and continued trying to roll his eyes (he still can’t). The Husband sat calling up people wishing them a happy new year in an attempt to ‘beat the rush after midnight’. And no he wouldn’t move to another room, he sits right there trying to speak above the sound of the telly, gesturing to us to turn down the volume, completely oblivious to our dagger-looks. It’s called a ‘mobile’ phone for a reason, I would have tried to tell him in the old times. Not any longer. Over two decades of marriage one learns to manage and so I simply turned up the volume while H and N wrestled the phone out of his hands. Once done, all was peaceful.

Just as the clock struck twelve

..we headed towards our beds but someone started off a fantastic display of fireworks. N ran to the balcony and called out to the rest of us. And so we sat out watching the display with the children oohing and aahing happily. That’s really the best thing about being a parent, looking at things through the children’s eyes makes them  new and exciting.

The Husband slept off soon after but I could hear the children chatting away above his snores. That was the most reassuring sound ever – the sound of them bonding – allaying my fears that I was bringing up Kane and Abel.

School started

…and much as I like having the children home, it’s a relief to have the house to myself. I love that their school always begins midweek to get us all in the rhythm of things and also that their uniforms are the most hassle free ever, no hooks or pleats or belts or ties.

More excitement..

..came this month with Republic Day celebrations in our apartment complex. I love N’s enthusiasm that never flags despite everything being against her. No matter what happens she manages to get together a band of children and put up a performance each year. There’s much discord during the process. She comes home each evening with a bagful of complaints (everyone wants the lead role, no one is listening to me, no one is coming for practice, they aren’t serious at all…) and yet she sticks it out. I have to admit that many  times, fed up with the arguments, I’ve told her to let it go (Yup, not supportive at all) but each evening she goes down with renewed enthusiasm. This year was special because H actually lent her a hand where once he used to be as bad as the rest of them. He helped her by restoring order and goofing around only when things got too serious. One more kick in the pants to my Kane and Abel theory.

I went to check a few final practices and I have to admit they’d done quite well, given the constraints.

Work wise too January has been a productive month

… with collaboration offers coming in. I read and blogged better than I’ve done in some time. It must be the New Year effect that makes me optimistic and happy. If only January 1st could come around more often than just once a year, it would do me  world of good.

Till that happens I’m hoping to carry my upbeat spirit as long as I can through the year.

How did 2019 begin for you?

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

Life’s better with friends #GratitudeCircle

Life’s better with friends #GratitudeCircle

The irony of life is that each time one makes a rule to handle it, it goes and does something (quite on purpose, I’m certain) to make that rule completely absolutely redundant. That’s its way of keeping us on our toes. A not very nice thing to do, but that’s how life is.

If you’re one of the few sweet wonderful people who have been dropping by my blog despite the minimal activity here, you will remember I mentioned that for some time I had been feeling friendless and lonely. Anyhow, so then I went ahead and decided I’d try to make my own happiness. And I did. I took myself to lunch, went for solitary walks, crafted a little bit, did some neat bit of colouring, read, had mini binges on Netflix (Gilmore Girls which, by the way, is a fabulous series) and I was quite happy.

The kids got this beautiful colouring book as a gift. They could not truly appreciate it since it had quotes from Alice in Wonderland which they haven’t read. So I appropriated it right away and have been having fun with it.

Just when I thought I was in a good space by myself, all manner of friends, delightful ones at that, began to show up in places I’d never imagined, as if to convince me that life really was better with friends.

As I was ending my walk one morning a couple in our complex carried me off for another round. I’d known them for a while but never really interacted much with them. I have no clue what made them overrule all my ‘nos’ and drag me along.

With them I discovered this huge tract of land, barely a five-minute drive away, and had the most delightful walk. I have to admit I enjoyed their company almost as much, maybe more. Only rarely do you meet a couple so positive, so happy, so mutually appreciative of each other. I felt blessed to have been included in their little circle with a standing invitation to join them any/every morning.

Then, I bumped into another acquaintance/friend and we got talking. As we ranted about life, specifically the kids and the education system, it turned out her daughter was facing the very same issues as mine. There really is nothing more comforting than meeting someone with the same stresses as yours and trying to figure your way out together. And so we fixed a coffee date which I’m looking forward to.

Oh and the biggest biggie of all – I went to my college reunion. That should ideally have been a whole post in itself but the writing slump I’ve been in, took that away from me. When first I heard of the meet I was quite certain I wouldn’t go. And then my sister who always begins with ‘Don’t go if you don’t want to but think about it’ and then proceeds to work on me in insidious ways, did just that. Before I knew it I found myself booked to my hometown. As usual my sister-in-law stepped in to take the children for four whole days. I maintain I struck gold when I married the Husband as much for him as for his family, maybe a tad more for his family considering he’s not around too often these days and his sister is there. Always. So there I was in Lucknow revisiting the campus, interacting with teachers but most of all spending time with old friends.

Time had chipped away at the cliques of our youth, mellowing differences, easing friendships, letting us laugh at shared memories. All in all I totally root for reunions.

I know this is turning out to be one long rambling post but I have to mention this last incident. Early last month my site was hacked. In complete panic I reached out to my service provider and to their credit they sorted me out in a jiffy but at a bit of a cost. Later I found out a lot of other bloggers had faced the same issue and unlike me they reached out to other blogger friends for help and managed it with much little stress and at a lower cost too.

Sigh!

It didn’t even occur to me to ask for help. I wonder why, in times of crisis, I only tend to draw up on all of my own reserves and can think of no one at all. That’s something I need to remember. In the words of JK Rowling:

Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.

Replace ‘Hogwarts’ with ‘life’ and I have my November lesson.

I’ll end with a great sense of gratitude for friends and acquaintances this November. Without them it would have been a dull dull month.

PS: Thank you all of you for helping me with N’s pen-paper Vs Tab decision. I’ve decided to stick with pen and paper for now and give her the tab during the holidays when she would probably/hopefully be doing more writing. She’s also writing in her journal so that’s something.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

While August seemed inordinately long, September seems to have rushed past in a blur. August was about struggling to find mental peace, fighting off loneliness and coming to terms with the absence of friends – real as well as virtual. September, happily enough, has been about getting comfortable with myself, learning to look inwards and finding my own peace while being grateful for friends as and when we cross paths.

It wasn’t as if I had a great epiphany. Rather, it was just about lowering my expectations and learning to manage my moods, aided by long chats with my sister and spontaneous meet ups with my SIL.

Oh and also, long long walks.

If August was about finding an indoor exercising routine, September has been about stepping out. An hour spent outdoors walking hard, with the breeze in my face, wiped away all my moodiness. As the weather has become drier, I’ve been stepping out most mornings. Moms standing by the roadside holding onto toddlers, then waving them goodbye as they climbed on their buses, the greenery along the way, groups of morning walkers and the happy sound of senior citizens clapping and practicing laughter therapy have brightened up my day.

Tracking my progress on Google Fit has given me as much happiness as Shylock got counting his gold. Very satisfying, indeed.

September has been a kinder month despite the kids’ exams kicking off, or perhaps because the exams are here. I spent the first half of the month feeling weirdly detached and guilty by turns, that I wasn’t pushing them enough and then I had no time to think at all. Sometimes that is what works best.

The Husband was home for almost a week right before the exams and that helped. I cannot begin to explain how his very presence takes the stress off me. The feeling that I and I alone am not responsible for the children, is one of the most relaxing thoughts.

Also, he is way more of a Tiger Dad than the Tiger Mom I can ever hope to be. When he is around we argue all the time because I feel he pushes the children a little too hard. Our parenting styles are very different. However, the more he is away the more I realise the importance of at least one parent pushing the kids. I don’t need to push myself to push them. When I’m alone, I have a thousand things on my mind, along with their studies, and I feel they tend to slack off.

I realise the husband and I set each other off well, we are a good team. And I’m grateful for his presence as much as there is of it.

October promises to be relaxed and festive.

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Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle and with Corinne’s #MondayMusings.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

I’m sharing a quote from the book 1984 by Gerorge Orwell. The first time I read it I must have been in my early teens. I have little memory of it perhaps because I would have had little or no understanding of it. Then I read it again some seven or eight years ago and […]