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Saturday, March 21, 2015

That Feeling of Love

That feeling of being in love is probably the happiest, craziest and over-the-moon experience in your world.

Embrace it. 

Love it. 

Cherish it.



What's your favorite love quote? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to never ever give up on the spiritual path

The Upanishads have compared a spiritual aspirant's journey to a razor's edge. From the age of 9, I have been walking on that razor's edge. No matter how hard I try, how sincerely I aspire, the fall is always a gut-wrenching one, filled with mind-numbing pain. 

Then I chant the name of Lord Sai in my heart and I start my baby steps all over again, stumbling, sometimes falling but always knowing that my God is there , protectively watching over me. 

Being human, sometimes I forget that my nature is essentially divine. And on such days, I turn to Baba in despair, wanting to understand the cause of these inner struggles and consequent pain. 

I forget that my real Self is untouched by suffering. 



One such day, this was His message through the book 'Life is a dream; Realize it' by Joy Thomas:

"Many quail before the impossible demands of Sadhana. When confronted by calamity, you must attach yourself to this sadhana even more firmly, instead of losing faith in it and slacking off. The drug should not be given up when it is most needed. The pity is, when the first disappointment faces you, you lose courage and give up..."

And here's how to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path:

1. Learn to think in positive affirmations.
2. Discipline your mind to shut negative thoughts.
3. Love yourself, stop self criticizing.
4. Put your Divine awareness to practice
5. Create new patterns of thinking and actions to feel good about yourself.

What steps do you take to overcome the struggles that limit you from realizing your true potential? Looking back, how do you see your pain, struggle-filled phases in life? What has it taught you over the years?

Do write it, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's a Magical Feeling to be a Mother

Before I became a mother, I was a busy, successful party-hopping editor. I came home only to crash and I didn't have a single boring 'at-home' weekend. And I kept FAR away whenever I saw kids....just as I did from domestic pets....not that the two are fair comparisons. 
And when I was in the process of becoming a mother, I went cranky with worry. 

Kept asking myself questions like:
Will I be a responsible, loving mother?

Will I feel that my baby tied me down to a routine that bogs me down?

I remember the exact moment when my baby, Adi was placed in my arms. 
When the doctor placed Adi in my arms, I saw a red face that was shrieking in a way that would have made anyone wish to be tone-deaf....but the emotion that I felt at that moment was one of ocean-like love, may be much more. 

I loved this tiny being with a fierceness that I didn't think could have existed in me...no wonder, it is said that when a baby is born, a mother is also born.

Every moment of watching a baby grow makes a mother experience Sath (truth), Chith (consciousness at the deepest level) and Ananda (Bliss)
Time flies but there are so many beautiful moments that mark motherhood. And here are some of my favorite ones:

Gazing at his sleeping face
Call this crazy but I have spent hours gazing into Adi's sleeping face and he looked so angelic, as all babies do. 
Cuddling up with sloppy kisses
I still haven't got over this yet. I love kissing my baby and the way his face would sometimes scrunch up to look at me, unsure whether to be happy immediately or give out a good, healthy yell. I miss that as he grows up and acts like a big guy. He won't let me hug him in front of his friends - it's a 'guy' thing.
Sound of Music
When Adi was a baby, I would look into his eyes and sing continuously to him. He would listen with rapt attention. I used to sing old Malayalam melodies, English hymns and African English songs, bhajans, keerthans...and I always felt he enjoyed the sound of my music. He had that rapt expression that made my heart soar while I sang.
And just when you think you already know everything there is to know about being a mother, a series of events happen to make you doubt it. 

Every mother goes through a world of emotions that no one outside of her inner circle would probably know about. 

And as my son turns nine, I feel the same anxiety and happiness course through me as it did on the day he was born.

You see, no mom wants to let down her kid no matter what the odds are.  And perhaps that's what makes mothers strong, vulnerable, powerful and wise - all at once!

The vulnerability of parenting is terrifying at most times. 

But it's also about sharing joy, experiencing love and demonstrating the values you believe in. 

As Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, "What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become."

And no matter what, every mom knows that secret truth: It's a magical feeling to be a MOTHER.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Magic Ways to Keep Your Spirits UP!

What to do when you feel bogged down by negative thoughts? These simple tips give you a clue:


1. Do something you enjoy
Bake. Cook. Read your favorite Or better still, go to one of your favorite places and simply chill. Watch people around you, how life moves on and brings out the best in everyone. 

2. Contemplate on how you feel
Work through your observations. Everyone deserves happiness, so do you. It's just your thoughts that tend to choose happiness and unhappiness. Once you know what you want, create your action plan and stick to it no matter how impossible it seems

3. Visualize your dreams
Remember, you alone can make your dreams come true. Visualize and live your dream. You have to help yourself first by taking the first baby steps. Doesn't matter if you fall, get hurt...just NEVER GIVE UP. Keep trying. 

4. Dare yourself to do something like never before
I am a cautious person by nature. I hate taking risks. Afraid of getting badly hurt in the fall. 

[You may also want to read: Sounds of Silence.

But I did something daring and brave in 2014. It changed my life. Then I did something braver at the beginning of 2015. 
Feels super good to be trying. I am on a roll. Talk to a stranger. Or angels. Whatever makes you happy, just do it!
It doesn't matter that I can fall. Thing is, I am not afraid anymore. I can bend and break the rules. I can dare to do things. 
Letting go of fear is the boost that we need to discover what we are capable of. So, go on. 
Break the rules that bind you.  
What's the bravest you ever did? And looking back, how does it make you feel? 

Would LOVE to know. Do write in.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Make your emails less boring and more fun


We take ourselves too seriously. A good laugh is the best part of your day.  And there are very brands that get it SO right!

Growing up, I loved the Amul billboard signs because they were just so creative, apt and always had a quirkiness that made everyone smile.


                                         [Image Courtesy: MorgueFile]

I happened to read this peppy post on how Mouth Food uses Mail Chimp to reach out and engage with people.  They use funny emails with a creative zing!

Their emails are so full of life that it leaps out straight at you. Like a warm bear hug.

Maybe humor does that - it gives us a sense of intimacy when some one or something has the power to make us relax our guard and make us smile.

Next time you are about to send out one of those boring e-mails that tempt you to yawn if you ever received one of those, think out-of-the-box to create an impact like Mouth Food.

At the end of the day, you want your name/service/company product to be remembered, longed for and desired.

Try something different. Make some one smile.

Can you remember a brand-related email that makes you want to 
smile? Tell me about it, I'd love to know!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Life is like a meatloaf....

You know what often happens to me when I sit down to write....I think to myself, "It's been written before...so many brilliant writers have done it before me...why should I start writing on this story that's driving me crazy unless I let it out on paper?"

And then there is a delightful quote by Elizabeth Berg, who says, "As for the notion that everything has been said, maybe it has, but life is like a meatloaf, there are so many different ways to present it. What's unique about you is what makes your writing interesting and what makes it shine.

Hmmm, I like that quote. 






Your turn: What do you think makes your writing shine?  Or can you share writers whose writing makes you go 'Hmmm, I've got to read this again!"

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Book Review: Farahad Zama's novel The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is delightful to read

There is a delightful quaintness to Farahad Zama's debut novel titled The Marriage Bureau for Rich People and its sequel The Many Conditions of Love. 

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People revolves around Mr. Ali, a retired government clerk, who starts a marriage bureau in Vizag to keep himself busy.

                                                                                    (Image: isahitya)

Mrs. Ali adds intelligent observations and practical solutions to keep it going during its initial phases. She brings in the element of easy going, witty conversations and breathes life into an otherwise dull routine. Subtle references are made about their son, Rehman, who is a social activist, 

He is often taken into police custody for raising slogans against the government to protect the rights of poor farmers. His parents are worried about their only son and find it difficult to understand why he has to take to the streets to protest and get beaten up for the cause of farmers when they don't even have farmers in the family. It doesn't help matters when Rehman falls in love with a Hindu girl whom his parents disapprove of.

This twist also takes you into the practical difficulties of a Hindu-Muslim marriage in India. You get the drift, don't you?

The story gathers momentum when she finds a Brahmin girl called Aruna to work as an assistant to Mr.Ali - how the work flow is divded, the practical aspects of running a bureau are also detailed in a way that you would feel that you are a part of the family.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People delves into the kind of marriages that are arranged by families. Every family comes with its set of unique demands. 

There is a woman from a royal family that is known for good looking men and women with long noses, Her demand is that her son should marry a good looking woman with a long nose and she doesn't mind if the girl is not from a rich family.

That's just one example. 

The book takes you through many more. How Mr. Ali uses his intelligence and sense of humor to keep his marriage bureau flourishing is the icing on the cake.

The book gives you an interesting insight into how Indian marriages are arranged, It goes into the 'behind-the-scenes' talks that happen between families even before a wedding is finalized, But the pace of the narrative seems to slacken at some places and rush at other points where it shouldn't. 

The sequel, The Many Conditions of Love, is more interesting than The Marriage Bureau for Rich People as the narrative is fresh, the dialogues are peppy and the characters are well-crafted. If you had to choose between the two, I would say read the sequel instead. 

There is a scene in the book where Aruna leaves her husband's home because she is insulted by her sister-in-law and her husband makes no attempt to speak for her. Aruna's family try to make her see sense and return to her husband's home but she refuses because she feels insulted by her husband's conduct.

Finally, it is Mrs. Ali who tells her about the malicious gossip in the neighborhood and says, "This is bigger than your hurt feelings, Aruna. Your family's reputation is at stake. Whatever issues you have are not going to be resolved by running away from them. Go and fight for your rights. Solve your problems from within."

Among many such memorable conversations in The Many Conditions of Love, this is my favorite:

"How long does it take for a broken heart to heal?" he asked.

She replied"The sadness will always be there. But your heart will mend and happiness can find a home in it sooner than you realize."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Be Unstoppable: Five Easy Ways to Boost Your Confidence Every Day

Every day we read a lot, but how much do we recall? That's why if something awesome is written and I read it, I share it here. This is the first round up of such posts this year and yes, it's all about how to boost your confidence!

Are you ready? Then, here we go!

Be Confident, Choose to Be Happy & Productive

Each of us have an inborn talent - we just need to discover what it is.

Have you see the picture-perfect moms on TV who can rustle up different yummylicious looking breakfasts for different family members? 

That gets to me, saps my sanity. Because I am no such domestic goddess. In fact, I can look like Shrek's grandmother while tackling kitchen chores, racing against time and much more. 

This guest post on Vishnu's blog urges you to get out of your comfort zone and stay productive, even when you don't want to. It helps you to keep your sanity intact...so, go on and do read it!

Don't join the sleepless generation, it's not good for you!  If you aren't convinced, here's an excellent analysis of the 'sleep disorder' we are facing and why it's IMPORTANT to do something about it. Simply put, sleep more!

Appreciate your environment, learn to love the Natural World

Stop whatever you are doing and look around you. SEE your natural world. Better still,feel it. 

Believe it or not, it's more exhausting to be glued to your desk all day or working on your laptop than taking a walk outdoors in a park that has trees and flowers. Being outdoors, spending some time in your natural environment can bring amazing positive energy. Try it.

Better still, educate children to appreciate Nature. Aeon Magazine has a fantastic write-up on how parents are squandering one of the greatest opportunities we have to cultivate in kids a love for the natural world


Write every day

Writing boosts my energy, like nothing else. You can try it too.

If you are wondering how to get started, you will love these 23 fantastic links for creative writers and check out 101 Writing Resources That’ll Take You from Stuck to Unstoppable. Both are put together by Cynthia Lindeman.

Break the rules, Defy the age myth

Now I have to confess, I get sucked in my the age myth...nearly all the time. If there's a dance, I think to myself, "It's fun but at my age, I better stick to checking out the dishes on the buffet table." When I think of completing my manuscript, the same thoughts occur, "I should just read all those fantastic writers out there. They are so young and I am getting sooo old to start writing.." That goes for salsa dancing too...when friends say they are taking salsa dancing lessons, I cringe and think, "Imagine doing something like that at my age..." 

Chuck those thoughts, good writing has no age limit, says Sunie Levie. The best part is where she cites examples of writers who have been writing past the age of eighty and ninety. I could just hug her for the awesome examples she has cited. 

I hope this has helped you, and inspires you to create loving rituals for yourself. Now, I'd LOVE to hear from you - what makes you feel that you are at your best? What are your confidence-boosting tips? 

Share some here....and simply .....BE UNSTOPPABLE!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Guru Nanak Dev In My Life

The first time I visited Amritsar, it was like an electric shock. No, I didn't get electrocuted, or anything. 

I went like a tourist but I came back like a humbled lamb. Of course, I had heard of Guru Nanak Dev, as the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus. But that is all I knew.

                                    Image courtesy: http://www.4to40.com/

The day I went there, it was Diwali. I saw that Sikhs from across the world, particularly UK and US, had come to offer their prayers there. I sat by the shimmering waters that mirrored the Golden Temple. I saw young Sikhs crying with bliss after taking a dip in the holy water. I saw elderly couples help each other to take a dip and pray for their children who were not with them. I saw young parents, beautifully dressed, help their young ones to take a dip without fear. 

Everywhere I felt love. There was love in the air and it was so electric.

This feeling is one that I have experienced only in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prashanti Nilayam. Sitting there, I experienced an electric current of unbelievable love for humanity. I closed my eyes and felt great light emerging from within me and filling me with absolute, unconditional love for humanity. 

I understood then and there the glorious essence of Guru Nanak Dev ji. He is LOVE.

I bowed, humbled by the experience and prayed, one by one, mentioning the names of those who are dear to me and asked Him to protect them.

Though not a devotee, I sensed that Guru Nanak Dev knew me even before I knew or understood anything about him. There was, simply put, an instant electric communication between us. I began to pray, "I know that my Guru Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has established a connection between me and you for a reason I am not aware of. With my Guru firmly in my heart, I pray to you to bless me and forgive me for any wrong karma that I may have done, out of ignorance. With the permission of my God and Guru, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I seek your love and protection in  my life and to my loved ones."

Following the Amritsar trip, I read all the serious literature around him and before I knew it, he made his way into my home and my heart. It's more like a silent, respectful sort of love. I feel his soothing presence and it brings a ray of light.

And then finally after reading a lot about Guru Nanak Dev ji, I joined the dots and understood the connection. 

Guru Nanak Dev is one of the Masters of the Spirit World, besides Meher Baba. He protects spiritual seekers who are regularly communicating with the Spirit World. 

When Guru Nanak Dev enters their homes, it is to protect them in this specific area where they are moving unguided and into uncharted territory with the purpose of serving humanity.

Among my favorite teachings of Guru Nanak Dev, here is one: "Like the butter goes into the bread, love also gets into things. Love means to love others."

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