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A look at 2013: Embrace the New Year Together

The New Year is just around the corner. As I look back at the year 2013 that had begun with Ganga Darshan in Rishikesh, I feel a flood of mixed emotions surge within me. There has been a lot of good, bad and mixed stuff one would find in the bag. Like you, I have had my shares of tears, smiles, celebrations and heartbreaks. After all, you don't always get a perfectly tailored life no matter how well you plan for it. In my case, I never plan anything because I know that the moment I plan, everything topples. Planning or not, life always has a way of surprising you when you least expect it to. There's always a dash of surprise that is tucked in.  

But I have my happy moments too. I began baking to beat stress and I love it! I got my hair colored magenta - it turned everyone a little dizzy in the head to see that burst of color, but so what? I loved it on me! I started wearing my favorite outfit - top & skirt - in October and I am loving that too. And then when I look at my two adorable boys - Jyotiraditya and Vihaan, there is so much happiness that my heart could burst. 



Coming back to the year that was, I want to share my thoughts. I must admit that I have been inspired by this post written by Vivek Prasannan

Here are some lessons I learned from the year 2014 and I am sharing it with you:

Be with those whom you love
In 2013, I spend more time with the people I love - my parents, for instance. January to March was hectic and professionally rewarding. April to July was a mix of everything - travel, monsoon, etc. I remember taking a long walk one beautiful starry evening in Fort Kochi, clasping my father's hand. We walked and walked, talking and listening to the waves crashing around us. That was a fine beautiful evening. 

Another rainy morning in Kochi, Sanand and I boarded the boat jetty without an umbrella. We were drenched wet, the boat began to rock in frenzied motion and the waves began to rise in a way that I thought "This is how my life is going to end" and we were totally drenched by the time we reached the shore. Yet we were so glad to be alive and not under water by then! It's the best adventure we had!

August -September packed in some travel, fun filled moments and share of planning related challenges. October brought me a lot of love, making everything most special for me. November is usually a very boring month but in 2013, it was the most 'happening' month. I traveled a lot - almost back to back weekends - and I had so much fun seeing new places, exploring around and shopping in markets. All of this with those whom I love.

This is a snap with my friends as we went sight seeing around Jaipur. We had great fun. 


The snap below was clicked just before we started sight seeing from Jaipur.



The next snap is clicked in Jaipur just before we were to board the bus and head back to Delhi.


In the same month, I made my first visit to Amritsar - it was a most beautiful spiritual experience - as I prayed there. I have no words to capture the intensity of the energy vibrations around the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 

Here are some snaps we took in Amritsar.

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Sitting there in the magnificent beauty and divine energy surrounding the Golden Temple in Amritsar, I prayed with absolute sincerity for the well-being of my family and my closest friends.


Lesson to learn: The best moments in life are when you remember to pray for others who mean a lot to you and you pray for their happiness without expecting anything in return. Better still, if you can do something special for them in your characteristic style and add greater meaning and impact in their life.

Friends move on but memories last forever
Nothing in life lasts forever especially in the realm of relationships. Those whom you believe to be your friends may not always remain so. That's one surprise that 2013 packed in for me. I had to let go of old friends who hurt my feelings repeatedly by putting me down at every opportunity, by making me feel that each and every choice I made was worthless. You know what - you are responsible for your happiness so this means that you have every right to safeguard it when so-called others interfere with your life or make you feel miserable for no apparent reason.

A good friend's entry and exit are not in your control. Sometimes it really hurts to let go of friends who once meant a lot to you but in situations where you are made to feel worthless, it is better to let go rather than put up with it and feel lousy about it. 

Lesson to learn: The beautiful thing about life is that everything and everyone moves on in life but memories last forever. 

Embrace Your New Friends
One of the notable facets of 2013 is that there have been new friends who played a pivotal role in inspiring me. When I say 'new,' it doesn't mean that I suddenly found them and became friends with them, it's not like that. They were always there in the periphery of my life but at a clear distance. Mid-year, this changed and I had a few friends stepping out of their comfort zones to become an intrinsic part of my life in 2013. My sorrows became theirs, my smiles brought them cheer and my difficult times became their motivation for prayer. 

One of these friends, a very special and lovely girl from another religion and continent, undertook a fast for me when I was going through a difficult time. I haven't even had a proper conversation directly with her except through Facebook. It meant so much to me that she did so and I almost had tears in my eyes when she told me this. 

Another friend on Facebook made thorough arrangements for me when I reached out on a late night to ask her advice about something urgent. She said, "I will call you back." I thought she would come up with the information I was asking her. She called back, after making getting in touch with the best in the field and after having made all necessary arrangements for me. She did personal follow ups to ensure that I didn't have any hassles. The funny thing is that with these friends, I haven't even met properly or had direct conversation except through Facebook - they were reaching out to help me without expecting anything in return. I was moved to tears. Wouldn't you?

A mentor-like figure whom I revere and respect - when I was undergoing a difficult situation and struggling to get an appointment - called me in and said, "Why didn't you inform me about this earlier? There is a lot we can do to help you. We can call the CM's office for you and get this done...it's just one phone call for us." I just cried when I heard this because I don't expect anything from anyone and I really don't know how to pay back such kindness. These days, kindness is a rarity even among family members, relatives and close friends. 

These friends, I realize now, are there in my life for a good reason. They keep me motivated by the way they tackle situations and help others to grow in their quest for excellence. 

Lesson to learn: So, if you have friends who are special to you, it is time to hold them closer. Inspire yourself.

Feedback can hurt sometimes but it's the breakfast of champions
In 2013, I got some scathing feedback about myself from certain individuals. I keep an internal 'filtering' process for feedback. 'Red flags' for those who give feedback with an intent to malign, insult or hurt. I don't give a damn about them. I ignore them. 

'Yellow flags' for those who give feedback because they have been hurt or impacted by my words or conduct or it could even be a misunderstanding. Typically, I don't feel good when this happens because I don't ever have a conscious intention to hurt anyone. But still, it happens that some one feels insulted or hurt and bring it up. I do my best to ask myself what triggered my thoughts, words or actions at that point of time. If I know I am not guilty of any intention, I put my version across. The person can choose to believe it or discard it - that choice is not mine to make. 

'Green flags' are for those whose feedback I deeply respect no matter what the situation may be. So, when I receive feedback from such friends, you can be sure that 90 per cent, I will contemplate on it, ask questions if need be and incorporate it. 

My experience is that of the three filtering systems, it is the 'Green flag' feedback filter that has always helped me to move forward with the right sense of direction.

Lesson to learn: Keep an efficient filtering system to process feedback so that you are receptive to others. It will propel your growth and quest for excellence. Don't accept negativity from anyone. Other people's negative feedback should not affect your confidence or happiness. 

Awards are great motivators but Excellence should remain
On March 14, 2013, I received the TIL Aspire Award for excellence in social media. I have never shared it on any social network for one simple reason: awards can come and go, but excellence needs to stay on. Also, one doesn't work in isolation so as to take all the credit. There's a whole support network that pitches in too. 

Nope, I am not playing humble here, just stating the facts as I see it. I have always offered every task to my Guru before doing it and I always say, "There is a limit to my knowledge but none to you, Swami. You are the Doer. I surrender the Results of all my actions to you." The results, when they come, are His. Not mine. Not if I am true to my own beliefs and words. Unless I am a secret hypocrite. Which I hope I am not.

Lesson to learn: There is always a choice between showing off what you have accomplished and letting your work speak for you to those who matter. The choice is always yours.

As the year draws to a close, I find that December is, as usual, the most difficult month for me to navigate through. Pain, fear, sorrow and grief - we all experience it in different ways and we know in our hearts that passing clouds never stay long and don't deserve our mind-space. We need to let go of whatever holds us back - be it an incident, a friend or a relationship - it's the only way to grow out of the sadness enveloping the self.

As the New Year approaches, I pray with all my heart for the happiness and well being of my family, my friends, you - the reader - who has taken out time to read this and be with me at this moment and humanity at large. I welcome you all into my heart with the prayer that 'God be with you throughout the New Year so that you succeed and be happy always."
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