Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 30: The Finale - Gratitude Post

(Photo credit)
This post idea is inspired by another post I read earlier today but the tone and theme are quite different. I usually believe in counting my blessings and be thankful for what we have. Alana's post inspired me to find gratitude in blogging and the challenge that I have been taking this whole month. I'll accept that it hasn't been easy. I have had to push back a bit of work to prioritise writing the post for the day. I'd rather finish it first when I sit to work rather than scramble to meet the 12 am deadline (like I did last year)

Gratitude also seems like an apt finale rather than the usual lessons-learnt-from-the-challenge post that I did last year. There are things I learnt this year too but I'll be putting them differently. No listicles. :)

First of all it feels great to achieve my first 30 on 30 in a daily challenge! And I think this is possible only when it is set as a challenge. Goals are fine but challenges really drive us. We don't want to be left behind or accept defeat. When I took the challenge last year I was deluded into thinking that writing everyday can be so easy peasy! Just continue what I did for a month! And it took me 8 days to come back for my next post in December! Once the challenge is up, there are other things that jump at us which we have deferred for too long in the favour of the completing the challenge. So yeah! We all need a challenge once in a while to best ourselves. In fact, we should change some of our goals into challenges and we'll definitely have a better shot at making it!

I really enjoyed writing this time. Mainly because I got to dip into post ideas that I have been jotting down for pretty much the entire year. And I've really wanted to write on all of them. I covered quite a few. Plus, I ensured that I found the time to research and provide resources in my posts. It did cost extra time but it definitely improves the quality of and satisfaction from writing the post.

Another thing I managed to do this time, and loved it, is hopping on to others' blogs and reading them. I've found some great blogs and since this is an international fare, I read some posts on Thanksgiving, the US election and other things that aren't relevant in my country. The #NaBloPoMo community is truly international, all of us got talking about the issues that concern us in our immediate surroundings.

So to begin with, I think the first person/people I want to thank are people behind the amazing BlogHer community. Not just for organising this whole challenge, creating the blogroll, putting up prompts and being the encouraging, engaging community that it is. But also for the prompts that they put on their blog every month for us to pick and choose what we want to write on. Getting bloggers from across the world together is quite a feat!

I am also grateful - to the writing gods, I guess - that I could be part of another challenge and actually complete it. I love writing and it has been a great experience to write and put content out there for everyone to read after the abysmal year its been for blogging here.

Also, thanks to all my readers who've stuck around through times of no content and come back when new posts arrive. Also, a special thanks to bloggers from the #NaBloPoMo community who dropped by and left their encouraging comments. I have tried to return the favour and will continue to look up more blogs to read from the Blogher Facebook page.

I still have topics in my list left. And hopefully, if the streak of motivation continues, I should manage a post or two a week. Nothing ambitious for now! :) Looking forward to you all coming back for more posts.

This post is the final post for #NaBloPoMo blogging challenge of 2016 which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day 29: How To Cut Clutter In Your House

Clearing clutter can be quite overwhelming (Photo credit)
Another post on cutting clear? Really? I understand your scepticism at this. Why would you want to read my post when there is enough and more information online? Tried and tested step by step guides, do's and don't's, hacks, tips and what not. And if self-help books are your kind of thing, you are better off going through the spiritual journey of tidying up with Marie Kondo's book itself. (When I first discovered her I was quite astounded at someone making a fortune by helping you throw away your clutter! Amazing!) So why my post? I have no tips, tricks, hacks. What I have are insights from my own experiences in the last couple of years. I haven't read any fancy book on cleaning up nor do online articles make a lot of sense to me. I am not someone who will go around the house or a room tossing things into a bin and throw them away. I think the process is much more complex. But a few things have made it easier for me:

STOP shopping: If you are jostling for space in your wardrobe, this is the first thing to do. I have stopped buying sarees for a few years now since that's something I don't use often. I haven't bought T shirts in some time now. I have enough to go around. No matter how tempted, I wont buy anything full sleeeves because it doesnt work in the humid weather of Mumbai. And I still have more clothes than I need. If you dig deeper, you will find that you have enough clothes for all times - office, home, weekend wear etc

Put away stuff you 'might' wear: I can't explain the huge difference just doing this made to my wardrobe. There were impulse buys I kept hoping I'll wear. And leaving them in the wardrobe somehow felt I didnt waste money on them. But it makes no sense to let them occupy that space if I was never going to wear them. Accept it. and take them out. From sarees that were gifted to expensive anarkalis that didnt fit anymore, I found a way to get rid of them one way or the other. The latest ones to go out are palazzo pants. (I know they are so comfortable but I have never been happy in the flared ones. so except for a couple of straight cuts, the rest are out) Things that are worn out definitely make their way to the orphanage.

Tackle it section wise. This is common advice. But I say chop it further into sub sections. Clothes mean night wear, gym wear, party wear, office wear etc. This just makes it easy to quickly to look through the sub section and be done with it. With little things like make up and jewellery, start putting them away as you come across something you are no longer using.

Utility not sentimentality: I understand the emotions behind keeping your wedding dress and the first pair of shoes your little one wore. But if you insist on hoarding the shade card from the first time you got your house re-painted, you are going a bit too far. Take away menus you might need come under this category. Everything is available online. For most stuff, if you haven't used in the last 5 years - heck! make it 2 years- it's time to get rid of it.

While I was reading online on the topic, I came across this question:

If you lost everything, what would you need to replace?

I think this is a great guiding principle when you decide whether to keep an item or not. Or whether you should even buy something more. To me, clearing things up is following the law of nature. Even people die to make place for the ones that are born. And only then the natural balance is restored. You can't always bring things into your house and mind without tossing away the old and unused.

Are there any specific techniques that have worked for you? I am always looking for new ideas to try. Shoot! Looking forward! :)

This post is the penultimate post for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 28: The Selfie Tamasha

The selfie craze has moved beyond rational proportions! (Photo credit)

It was a pleasant saturday evening. The spouse and I were enjoying the sunset from the deck along with a cool glass of wine at the York Vineyards in Sula. But the experience was marred by something that was happening on the lawn in front of us. A bunch of college friends who were on a trip were constantly taking selfies on a phone. Sometimes using a selfie stick to cover the whole group. While the beautiful sun was setting behind them spreading crimson and orange across the sky, they were busy clicking selfies!! I wonder why they had to come all the way to the vineyards for that. They might as well have chosen their college lawn to make duck faces at the camera.

The front camera in phones is going to be the undoing of a generation. Clicking selfies is a craze beyond rational behaviour now. I can see people clicking selfies at restaurants while waiting for food etc. That's like a pastime till the food comes. "Can I have a selfie with you?" is such a common request for celebrities that I actually shy away from asking that. No matter what the occasion, whether alone or in a group, indoors or in open spaces, a selfie is in order. Click a selfie, post on all social media and then I don't know what's else is it worth.

Selfies are a part of popular culture we cannot ignore. There are different kinds of selfies depending on where someone is and what one is doing. Just add the word to the name or create a hashtag to make a new name. There are at least 15 kinds of selfies one can find. Since Instagram is the baap of photo networks, there are also selfie trends from time to time to keep the craze going. There was the fingermouthing selfie craze in July this year and the self five selfie trend in october.

It's fine as long as it's fun. But so crazy are people about capturing a unique selfie that might go viral online and get them fame, that they have somewhat lost their senses. They want selfies in front of running trains and from parapet walls of high bridges. India had the highest number of selfie related deaths in 2015. We all remember the recent incident of a man who got bit by a snake since he went too close to take a selfie. A college student slipped into a lake trying to take a selfie. 5 others who jumped to save her also lost their lives. This is a world wide trend and the internet is full of it - Wikipedia has a whole list of notable incidents.

The question to ask here is - where will this stupidity end? Is there a way to inject some sense into people? This is not about education since the smart phone toting generation is educated, modern and aware of what it is doing. Although selfies aren't officially cited as one of the causes people can die from, it is soon moving towards becoming one. And we need to really consider the consequences of giving into something as shallow as taking pictures of our own selfs!

When I look at people taking selfies I am reminded of this tweet by the celebrity blogger, Purba Ray:

And I think this is going to be a bigger tragedy since our future generations - if they survive deaths due to selfies - might be practically deformed! What more! Selfie addiction is also related mental disorders.

Look at it any which way, all this doesn't sound like good news to me. There has to be a way to overcome this and literally save lives. (Probably that could be a topic for another post)

What do you think about taking selfies? Do you take a lot of them?

This post is written for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 27: Why do "people" want to know?

Women get asked a lot more questions than men (Photo credit)
If I got a nickel for every time someone asked me a question that is none of their business, I'd be rich! Like RICH! And I've realised I don't even have to think of all the different questions I got asked over time. The one to top the list is - Where my (forever travelling) spouse is now? And trust me, sometimes even I wouldn't know the answer - or dint care to remember - if he was on a multi city tour in a week. But I'm guessing it's important for people to know.

The next one has got to be when am I going to have a baby! Boy! That's like a staple conversation topic with childless people. (Thankfully, the kid question dwindled out of my life after the initial years except for a few people in the family who just won't let it go! I should really start charging nickels, I guess! LOL!)

And I'll venture to put in a third one since the people who ask this have absolutely nothing to do with it and they still ask - When is a member in my family finishing her Ph.D? And if you know the Indian culture, you definitely can guess the conversation this question is leading to...yeah! you got it!

There are several others related to work too. People find it hard to comprehend that I have any real work to do without a job that keeps me out from 9-5. One question that really gets my goat is, "What plans?" And there's a whole lot of them throughout the year - Your birthday, spouse's birthday, long weekend, Holi, Diwali, Christmas, New Year or the wedding anniversary! Phew!!

And the frustration at this barrage of pointless questions definitely gives way to rolling on the floor kind of laughter. And I really want to ask people, no matter how life altering the topic - how the fuck is that any of their business?? But in our culture, (honestly, I don't know about other countries/cultures) it's everyone else's business but yours. From your marital status to the number of kids you have (or the absence of it), what you wear, what time to arrive home at night, what kind of lifestyle you lead is the business of everyone who has no other business.

And the scrutiny is more pronounced if you are a woman. There is "best by" date for an unmarried woman. And the friendly neighbourhood aunty -who obviously  has nothing else to do - will be able to give you the correct estimate. And if you shrug at it, she'll threaten you with, "It's already late!". By the way, the same threat - sometimes rephrased as, "It's time now" - applies to the having-a-baby question too. Try indulging her with answers and you had it! "Never" is never an acceptable answer. Pat comes the next one, "Why?" The thoughts furiously whirling in aunty's head are - Gay? Medical problem? Try giving them reasons - career, busy life - that sound valid to you and they'll shoot them right out as rubbish. After all, people know better about what we should be doing with our lives than we do! Trust them!

I have had women judged for having a job and taking care of kids. And eyebrows raised if she quit her career to care for her kids full time. "So, are you never getting back to your job?" There, you just trampled on the last of whatever was left of her self esteem!

If you ask me, all this is just a conspiracy of people who-have-not to drag us down with them. When a mom of two pulling her hair out tells me to have a baby since it's so life altering, I just know it! Since the neighbourhood aunty can't wear short dresses and party till 4 am, she is definitely going to tut tut and declare that as immoral.

Of late, my policy is to avoid running into neighbours altogether. I don't want to kill their joy of asking where my spouse is off to by telling them that he doesn't travel much now. And others who have questions about my work etc get generic responses enough to end the conversation. I now believe that the fewer people I meet, the lesser the nonsense in life!

Interestingly enough, I had this post idea in mind for a long time and today's cover story in Times Life - So, when are you settling down? - really pushed me to finally write it. While this post is my personal experience, the piece in Times is relevant to every woman even in today's times.

So, moral of the story: If you are ever confused about your life and you should go to random people. They always always know better than you about your own life.

Have you - I am sure you have - spill your experiences here! If there are any guys who read this post, I'd love to hear from you too! Are you guys also exposed to scrutiny and unwanted advice like women do?

This post is written for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day 26: 11 Things Life Is Too Short To Do

We are all usually swamped with more work than time to do it in. Plus, there is also more information that you can probably ever process in this lifetime. I have deliberately given up looking at must read books lists, have pruned my Feedly and am trying to become more goal oriented. And of late, I have realised that there are somethings that I just couldn't be worried about. I don't do them because I don't want to. Call it mid life realisation or whatever you want but I think life is too short to do things you don't want to. And here are a few things, in no particular order, I think we should consider -

Life is too short to:

Complete a bad book just because you started reading it

Drink bad wine 

Let others' opinions affect you

Be someone others want you to be

Spend time with people you don't like (just to please others)

Worry about being nice to people you don't care about 

Ponder over things you can't change

Not re-read books you love 

Not spend time with people you really love 

Be nice to people you hate just because it is rude not to

Be stuck in traffic (find a way out)

To wear clothes you don't like/want to just because someone decided it's in fashion

I am sure that if you give it some thought, you will come up with your list of things you think life is to short to waste on. Can you think of anything at the moment? Do get back and leave your comment when you do! 

This post is written for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 25: If We Looked At It With A Child's Eyes?

We could do with adopting the innocence of children (Photo credit)
I decided to use the prompt for today - What do you think we could all do better with if we looked at it with a child's eyes? I think it is interesting. We all can do to think like children. Even when we grow up, we can keep the child in us alive. It is hard to do that in the world we live in. But we can try.

One thing we all could do better with if we looked at it with a child's eyes is the innocence of children. As opposed to adults who judge, children look at the world through their naive ignorance. It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, something as simple as a candy can make them happy. You can invent silly games and they will love you dearly instead of judging your intelligence or lack of it. They don't care about your social status. Treat them well and they will be your pals. They will never tell you it's time to get married or jump to conclusions for being single. It doesn't matter to them if your house is small as long as they are welcome in it. Whether you are white or black, a friendly smile is enough is draw them to you.

If they ask rude questions, it is only because they have heard the older people around them discussing things they should not. It is unfortunate that instead of learning from them, we corrupt them with our worldview. Teach them to sit in judgement of people and treat them differently based on our own criteria of looking at the world. All of us are better off being more like children and keep that child-like innocence alive.

Do you agree with me? What do you think we can learn from kids?

This post is written for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by Blogher.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day 24: Public Speaking Lessons From The World Champion

I am passionate about speaking as a skill. Whether it is world famous speeches that have inspired us through the decades or the art of speaking impromptu. A powerful speech can galvanise nations and a commanding voice can change the course of history. But speaking is public is said to be feared worse than death itself. With so many pairs of eyes staring at you, the survival instincts kick in and we want to run to safety. However, speaking is a key skill if one wants to succeed in life in general.

I was thrilled a couple of years ago to discover a world championship of public speaking. The best of the world fought for the title over multiple rounds and only the best won. You could say that I am fascinated with this speech by the world champion in 2014 but it deserves to be watched again and again! It is amazing how neatly this 7 minute presentation uses so many things that make a great talk. The rose metaphor, the body language, intonation of voice, humour, emotion, a theme running though the talk, the delivery and the well practiced overall presentation.

This is a great piece to learn the art of effective speaking to make your own speaking more confident and powerful.

I want to share this post I wrote about this video on my work blog - 5 things to learn from the world champion of public speaking - where I dissect elements of the speech here and discuss they work so well.

Enjoy the video and do tell me how you liked it. If you wish to work on your speaking skills, drop me a line and I can help you.

This post is a part of #NaBloPoMo which stands for November Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 23: 29 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Travel

Traveling is an eye opening experience and a great way to learn! (Photo credit)
I never travelled much for most of my life. But there has been a time when I got to travel the world and see different places. I have also traveled alone on work and otherwise. There is nothing more refreshing and eye opening than traveling. You a learn a lesson or two more when you travel alone. But it is also a great thing to do with family or friends. Here are a few reasons I have compiled:

1. It's fun
2. Broadens our mental horizons
3. Kicks us out of our comfort zone
4. Teaches cultural sensitivity
5. Hones our planning and packing skills
6. Takes us to different cuisines
7. Educates about local life
8. Boosts confidence
9. Leads to exciting experiences in life
10. Lets live life fully
11. Makes new friends
12. Gives a break from routine
13. Is for enjoyment and pleasure
14. Heals/destresses
15. Makes us more curious
16. Teaches us about history and civilisation
17. Helps discover ourself
18. Refreshes us
19. Offers new perspective to life
20. Gives more information about the world
21. Can make you a travel blogger
22. Gives an opportunity to appreciate monuments
23. Gets many stamps on your passport
24. Arouses our sense of adventure
25. Gives us stories/memories for life
26. Teaches us foreign languages
27. Helps reconnect with friends/partner over a vacation
28. Might teach us a survival skill or two
29. Creates opportunities to network

What other reasons would you like to add to this list? Share in the comments and let me know! Waiting to hear from you!

This post is a part of #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer.