The best season of our lives…

May 1st, 2018

This morning I did something that influenced the rest of my day. My phone was nearly out of storage and I wanted to see if there were any old videos I could part with on my phone. That led me to seeing some of Anji’s videos when she was really little. She is now seven and a half. It was so wonderful! One video in particular of her about a year old, walking around and munching on this cookie with music playing in the background and my soft face filled with the light of love.

Anji woke up soon after and joined me in watching another video of herself at about three years old, singing an Indian song. It was so sweet, to see how much time has passed and how much she has grown and yet how there are these essential qualities to her that are the same in all these years that I have known her and cherish in her, as her mother.

When I dropped her off at school and watched her in my rear view mirror, her tall sweet self chatting with her teacher while holding her backpack and the big paper bag in her hands that had her costume for Romeo and Juliet later this week, it really struck me. How quickly this time will go by, and how soon she will be all grown up, and how much it means to me to be part of this growing up, witnessing this amazing process of her becoming and being Anji. My heart felt tender and grateful to be alive on this particular day.

This poignancy in life, this unmistakable fleetingness of it, of time passing and of firsts and lasts are what make us cherish life even more, and make it even more urgent for us to be present for those moments. How easy it is to forget this! Perhaps Spring makes this even clearer- this miracle of nature, of growth and blossoming into a new phase in life while letting go of the residues of winter, to create more space for love and light. May you have a spring in your step and delight in your heart! I leave you with Wu Men’s poem:

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

With Love, S.

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Musings on a plane ride…

April 14, 2018

We are 26000 feet about ground, my seven year old daughter Anji and I. What is it about being high up that brings such perspective? It is finally April break, and we are on the way to seeing my dear buddies from college – a last minute impromptu trip. And all my morning struggles of getting laundry done, packing, having breakfast and getting ready to leave for our trip seem so minor right now up here in the sky. I feel more relaxed and happy than I remember feeling this week, and Anji seems much calmer as well. Without the distractions of everyday life, I have enjoyed her company these last few hours, of reading a book together, hearing her talk about her toys, watching a service dog together, commenting on various peoples’ shoes, checking out others luggages…you get the gist! We finished Spiderwick chronicles book 2 together and now we will have to wait to borrow the next one from the library.

Anji even slept, head on my lap, on the coach to Boston, sweet darling warm and sweaty and in her own thoughts and dreams. Maybe this is why I love traveling, going somewhere and getting out of my usual routine, this chance to witness my loved ones up close and seeing the amazing qualities they possess that makes me love them so much!

With love, S.

Rediscovering our being…

It has honestly been such a long time since I wrote my blog last, that I am dismayed. How can it be that somebody who used to write atleast a couple of posts a week, now writes about couple of times a year? Once I let go of judgment, I see that this too perhaps was necessary. Necessary so I can start
afresh,from a place I have never been at before.

So, here I am. Namaste!

Are you conditioned to behave or react in certain habitual ways? According to Buddhist philosophy, we all have some conditioning that we come into, in our lives, either through childhood, traumas, or perhaps even past life times, if you believe in them. If that is indeed the case, where is our freedom? Aha! through discovering our own conditioning by paying attention. And through the process of mindful investigation, we can then be free, by learning to make skillful choices and relearning new habits. Alas, letting go of this conditioning does not happen without realizing them first. And that takes attention. The pause. The noticing. And with noticing, often comes judgment and dismay – is this indeed us, this person who we thought was just fine, on cruise control until now? And it doesn’t happen overnight either. 

Hence, the need for tremendous amount of kindness and compassion, for judging is so easy. Understanding and being compassionate is so much harder.

One of my conditioning is that I need to be perfect somehow – perhaps to win love and affection and / or to prove my self worth. And another is to feel responsible for a lot more than I possibly can be responsible for, as a human being. It probably comes with being sensitive to other’s moods and feelings – it’s hard when you know something is wrong, and there is not always something you can do about it. 

So how do I find freedom? For I do believe, peace and freedom is always possible.

I find that it always starts with understanding. And my daughter is my greatest teacher in this dharma. With her, I can be patient, kind, loving, present, joyful, happy, and open to wonder. She brings out these qualities in me, because of her joy of being and her large heart and her incredible capacity to pay attention. And if I can be that for her, surely I can be that towards myself. And I also find, no matter how I mess up, in her eyes, there is always forgiveness. To her, I am amazing and wonderful. So maybe I could be redeemed in my own eyes, just a tiny bit. And it helps me find that compassion towards myself. 

I am so humbled by this process. Always a beginner, always learning something about myself in the process. I am not perfect. I am reminded of it every single day. If that is true for every one of us, then how much compassion do we need to bring into this world? Compassion so that we can live with ourselves, accept ourselves and more than that, love ourselves just as we are. 

So soften if you will, the next time you tense up in self judgment. Find the inner being, who adores and loves you just as you are. Everything will be okay. 

Peace and metta to you, S.

Thanksgiving…

The moments that leave the clearest trace in our minds, it seems to me, are the ones for which we show up. When we felt that sensation of air touching our faces, or the warmth of that hug, the scent of that pancake or the sound of that song, taking in the experience, holding the memory in our bodies. Today, running on the green with my 5-year old daughter Anjali, feeling her joy and laughter as the fresh air touched our faces, and we fell on the grass laughing, catching the ball, is one of those moments. What a precious gift, it felt like, to have time to be with each other, without rushing.

As a mom, some of my sweetest moments are when I am holding her, taking in the beauty in her eyes, in her being, smelling her hair, running with her, listening to her explain the rules of her new game, weaving my fingers through her silky (sometimes stubborn) hair. In witnessing her moods, her ever evolving independence, her amazing capacity for concentration and work like doing mazes, working on puzzles, applying glitter glue on the stars she cut out so carefully…Or when she comes into our room every morning, ready to greet a new day, with the pride of having accomplished a good night’s sleep or when she wakes me up from an afternoon nap, always so excited to share the happenings I missed…she brings so much joy and peace into our world, just by being.

“Good luck to mom, love, Anjali”, said one of her notes. Another note was wrapped on a present – one of my bags – and said: “happy happy birthday to you”. Though it is not yet my birthday – and yet such a sweetness of thought. The tender lovingness of her care and her contentment in being, as she hums a song, or dances across the rug in a leap of faith… Being present for these moments is what makes me happy, and fills me up, so that I too am content in my child’s joy. Perhaps, I am the child here – ever evolving – learning to step back, or lean forward, making mistakes and learning from them – dancing this song and the next as I hope I am imparting whatever is most meaningful to me. Being kind, making time, playing, dancing when the music comes on, singing on top of the voice, in the car, and seeing the sunrise and the full moon. As I witness the unfolding of the most amazing mystery of seeing my daughter grow – into her being.

With love, S.

That wild, that loving in the heaven of earth…

I’m thinking this morning of the Mary Oliver poem on Luke. I’m driving gudiya to the preschool she goes three mornings a week. I’m singing the Illayaraja’s ‘Kanmani’ song to her, and feeling generally uplifted. And all the thoughts – the weighing of the good and bad in my life and its various variations disappear. Poof. Just like that.

The reason my life has come into review this week is because I have a job interview this afternoon, my second one with this imaging research group. The position is for a research analyst and is reminiscent of my graduate student days – before I got mired into the world of writing grants, and managing students – and gave it all up to be home more with gudiya and to keep my sanity. At my previous interview with the group, they asked me, why would you apply for this staff position, given your CV? My only answer was that I wanted to do just research without all the responsibilities that a faculty job involved. That is part of the truth. The real truth is that my life as a Mom has plenty of responsibility in it. I don’t want to seek more – not of my own volition.

But am I ready to go back into work? This involves a full-time job and I am sure I don’t want that. “But you could work 30 hours a week” – chimed in my whatever-you-want-to-hear-dearie mind – if they would be amenable to that. I am not sure I want that either. But then gudiya starts school this Fall – Montessori – and I am scared at the thought of my life passing by while I wait for her to be back from school. I can think of all kinds of rationalizations, but really I am feeling the urge to move, to change, even as I am scared to death about it. I love my life as it is, part of me exclaims. Not yet, not already!

Anyways, as I am singing kanmani after dropping off gudiya, memories of my college days flash by. They were among the favorite days of my life. I have had the most incredible friends who saw through me and accepted me and loved me. So many dear friends come to mind. I was lucky to meet many amazing people. We had fun times and I have been meaning to share old photos from those days on FB. They have been out and about in our living room – I have been showing them to gudiya, but mostly just enjoying seeing them myself.

And this thought hits me as I am reminiscing and driving: we did not know then – in those carefree college days – that it would not last. We would never have that time again – the time when we were young, without responsibilities, of fun and flirting, and of discovering our own selves through our new-found relationships. If we had known, would we have appreciated it more?

And what about now? Here is another phase in my life that is pretty amazing. To have the time and make the choices to be able to witness the growing miracle of my daughter – and my husband as a Dad – and to discover what it is like to be young again – and what it is like to play. What it is like to read the same book for the 10th time and still witness the same incredible laughter and joy as the first time from Gudiya, and to witness her unending, enduring energy and capacity for play, imagination and fun. Of long summer days of farmers markets and cold winter days of story times and libraries. Of bouncy houses and meeting other Moms and sharing stories and making connections.

What is different about this time now is I know: that this doesn’t last. Its one of those bitter-sweet things about childhoods. These carefree days of my gudiya as a toddler learning, playing, growing will pass. Just as my gudiya’s early months passed by – the miracle of seeing her sit up, seeing her crawl and then walk and then learn to talk and then put ideas together. They will never be back again. The miracles continue but I don’t take it for granted. Mostly.

And then sometimes I do. I forget.

Like some days when she refuses to take a nap – there have been more of them lately. I’m exhausted, cranky and want out. Some escape from what seems sometimes a lasting-forever cycle of snacks, potty times, books, and cooking and washing dishes and laundry. I can’t seem to remember anything else. Is this what I signed up for? In that moment of judgment – and of course there is judgment – that’s the most ready weapon when we tether on the edge of exhaustion – I forget and I take it for granted. I forget the miracle of having a healthy child, of having the luxury of being home, of feeling these frustrations and still knowing I love my babe. Thank goodness, I always wake up. In time to appreciate.

So really, it is okay. This is life. That is the truth of it. We may make choices based on what we want, what feels good, what is pleasant, what our priorities are but at the end of the day, our choices are about relationships. And it begins with a relationship with ourselves – how we relate to all of this, all of ourselves – all the moods and all the feelings.

So after a week of weighing and feeling weighed down, I am finding the light, the light that is streaming through the windows, the gorgeous sunshine of a spring day, a day full of possibilities, a light that is everywhere. I don’t know what my future will be and it is okay. What I do know is that feeling Mary Oliver was talking about in Luke and how…

“…easily
she adored
every blossom

not in the serious
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom

the way we praise or don’t praise –
the way we love
or don’t love –
but the way

we long to be –
that happy
in the heaven of earth –
that wild, that loving.”

With Love, S.

On Gladness…

What does it mean to be happy? When are we truly happy? what makes us happy?

I have been thinking of this lately. that happiness doesn’t have to do with my circumstance or finances as much as a state of mind where I appreciate what I have.

Its funny, I have gone through times when I’ve thought, ‘I would be happy if only…’. And then times when I’ve simply been happy. And the moments when I’ve felt alive and engaged and joyful have had nothing to do with accomplishments or vacations or sunny days. They have mostly had to do with small moments. Moments that come unbidden and surprise me.

Like when I come up before bed and find that my two year old has arranged the three tiny goddess figurines to all sit in one tiny chair and I smile wondering how she balanced them. Or when my husband can rub my feet and talk to me lovingly when I’m being cranky and irritable because we got late for bed, even though he is the one who had been up since 4.30 that morning. Or when my earrings match everything I wear and they are my favorite and I find them right by the counter. Or when I do yoga stretches in the library saying om – namaha so I stay awake – and Anji thinks its funny. Or when we run run run up the steps to go potty time, or when she recounts the book we read earlier and says sincerely, ‘swoosh goes the fan’ again! Or when I see her tiny fingers trying to imitate the movement of her teacher as she practices itsy bits spider. Or I see the trees move in the breeze nothing holding them back except their own roots, roots they can count on.

Perhaps when we notice gladness, there is more gladness to see. And we hold it lightly in our hearts, knowing it will pass. Everything changes, people lose homes in the course of a single day and that today what we have, the smattering of small moments, joys and successes is everything that can change our lives. As Mary Oliver says, ‘joy is not made to be a crumb’.

With Love, S.

Endings and Beginnings…

My final post of 2011. On New Year’s eve, it feels apt to reflect on this past year and set new intentions for the coming year. 2011 has been an unforgettable year – a year of letting go and beginning anew. A year of the magic of seeing our daughter go from a 3 month old to becoming a toddler, running around with spoon in her hand, eating naan, and saying naan and sleeping through the night (for which I’m the most grateful! ). She makes me want to be present, want to be more loving, more patient and more of who I really am, deep within.

2011 was a year of change, not just for me, but for many of us, and through the world. Change involves endings and beginnings, and while endings can be painful to come to terms with, beginnings on the other hand hold such possibilities! Such anticipation and such freedom that comes from not knowing. I hope the new year brings peace, now more than ever, for every one of us, joy beyond anything we have known, comfort of loving friends and family, the support of compassion and the embrace of a Friend – the loving heart. I hope this is the year we surrender our fears and do something we never have before – take a leap of faith. I hope we never question our love for ourselves, and do the things we love. I hope we remember and live our intentions each day. And I hope, when someone mentions the gracefulness of the night sky, we can climb up on the roof and dance and say, Like This, the way Rumi did in ‘Like This’, centuries ago.

May we walk in beauty.

With Love, S.