10 (+2) Commandments of Writing

Note: I am not a master of ‘archaic’ language, so you will not find ‘thous’ and ‘shalts’ in my post. BUT I hope this modern version inspires you just the same! ;)

10 (+2) Commandments of Writing (2)

  1. You Will Not Judge Your Ideas or Shitty First Drafts

  2. You Will  Carry Some Device to Record Your Thoughts, Feelings and Impressions

  3. You Will Not Compare Yourself to (or JUDGE) Others (my Achilles Heel)

  4. You Will Be Gentle With, Loyal to and Nurture Your Passion

  5. You Will Respect Your Writing Time By Turning Off Criminal Minds in the Background (you have no idea!)

  6. You Will Use Just as Many Words as Necessary (aka Clarity triumphs!)

  7. You Will Minimize the Usage of Adverbs – Most Definitely ;)

  8. You Will Remain True to Your Voice, Vision and Values

  9. You Will Not Overuse Alliterations (aka Stop Acting Smart and Start Being Helpful)

  10. You Will Never Stop Learning (aka Read More, Listen More, LIVE More)

  11. You Will Be Open-Minded About (and towards) Proactive Feedback

  12. You Will Relax and Have FUN!

Most importantly, you will trust your passion – like you trust your family, like you trust your friends, like you trust your soulmate. 

What would you add to this list?

From my Heart to Yours: Dare to Bare

Note: I posted this message across Facebook and Google Plus yesterday, but felt it deserved a bigger audience. Because this message is important – and LIFE-CHANGING!

Dare to bare (1)

Couple of nights ago, I had an emotional breakdown on Facebook. I felt hopelessly lonely, lost and listless, and took to this public forum to vent my feelings. I thought I would be branded as a whiner.

I was wrong

I received an outpouring of love, support and HUGS from my dearest friends. My experience emphasized the POWER of being open, vulnerable and unpretentious about your emotions.

Your vulnerability is not a vice – contrary to what you might have been told (and those who mock you shouldn’t – and don’t – matter to you). It takes guts to be honest about your feelings. So please dare to bare!

My experience at a hair salon yesterday only reaffirmed the importance and influence of transparency. 

Your Woes Are NOT Yours Alone: A Trim and a Talk

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Brene Brown

I enjoy getting a hair-cut at the Hair Cuttery salon in my neighborhood.

More specifically, I enjoy getting ‘snipped’ by a woman named, let’s call her, Ms. M – a talented and tenacious single parent who juggles her job and her child with envious ease.  Despite not having a partner and having a mom with multiple health issues, she never fails to smile and make her customers feel special.

So I look forward to spending couple of hours with her every other month.

Yesterday was even more special.

Connected by a Common Struggle: Emotional Eating

My good friends on social media know that I have battled Anorexia in the past, but not all of them know that I am struggling with Emotional Eating right now. Most people wake up with a grin of anticipation, but I wake up with a heart heavy with dread. Every day, I promise I wouldn’t hurt myself. Most days, I do!

I haven’t shared the intimate details of my current struggle because they are immensely humiliating.

But I exposed my vulnerability to Ms. M yesterday.

Something told me that being honest would HELP her, especially considering that she made several references to her eating issues and weight.

So I told her more than I have ever told anyone outside my immediate circle (read: husband) and a fistful of friends.

Ms. M hesitatingly asked me about my past, and I obliged her. We then chatted about healthy diets, what foods she can incorporate to satiate her sweet tooth without eating a tub of ice-cream in one go, and other nuances of dieting and fitness.

I was rewarded at the end of my session when MS. M said,“I feel much less stressed after you come. We need to hang out more.

With a smile, a nod and a promise of my delicious Banana Bread, I left, with a new friend and a profound life lesson:

Do not be afraid of being vulnerable. Being sensitive and vulnerable are NOT curses (as I often believe). They are HUGE blessings that uplift even the lives of strangers.

The next time you struggle with or are afraid of something, do not ignore your feelings. Do not pretend that all is fine.

Does that mean you should complain non-stop? NO. But there is a difference between complaining and sharing. Neglecting or ignoring your emotions only postpones the agony. You can rest assured that secreted sorrows will erupt with the fury of a volcano and the force of a tornado at some point in your lives.

Why not let out your struggles when there is still hope for improvement?

Be the person who dares to bare. I can GUARANTEE that someone else is sharing your woes, and will feel a heck of a lot better – or, at least, less ALONE – after interacting with you.

I know Ms. M did. I know I did. And now we are good friends.

Real relationships are based on REAL emotions. So open your heart. Your transparency is changing lives!

Can you think of a time when YOUR honesty made someone’s day (including yours?) Thank you for offering us a glimpse into your world.

Weekend Edition – Time to Write Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

krangara:

Read this, and you will never again complain about having no time to hone your creative gifts.

I have always thought of time in terms of ‘huge chunks’ – if I don’t have even an hour, why bother writing or reading anything, right?

WRONG.

The remarkable Jamie of Live to Write, Write to Live makes us realize that you don’t need huge chunks of time to pursue your passion; those seemingly insignificant ‘5 minutes’ can coalesce to lift you higher – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and creatively!

Please follow Jamie!

Kitto

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

On Making Time to Write in a Real Life

paris clockI’d been having trouble with my computer. The machine, a beautiful MacBook Pro, is only a few years old; but something seemed to have snapped in its shiny, silver brain. No matter what task I set it – opening a program, popping a new tab on my browser, saving a document, loading a web page, etc. – it froze. Whether its paralysis was born of fear or confusion or obstinance, I’ll never know. All I know is that each move I made resulted in the same outcome: the spinning, rainbow pinwheel of death.

At first, I was frustrated. Then, I became furious. I had so much to do and no time to waste. Precious minutes were sucked down that candy-colored vortex as I sat, blood pressure rising, tapping finger tips trying to pierce my wooden desktop.

Until I realized that those…

View original 2,627 more words

Marketing crack: Kicking the habit

krangara:

This is absolutely brilliant.

I shall remember this article every time the short-term demands and woes of my life threaten to overpower my long-term vision and dreams.

LOVE LOVE LOVE

Originally posted on canalside view:

o-CRACK-COCAINE-facebook

“We’ve created a gambling culture in which we tune out everything except the most immediate outcomes.”

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

“Addiction is a pathological attachment to something attractive in the short term, but destructive over time. Recovery is about looking where we’re going and choosing a path that can last.”

Dr. Chris Johnstone, addiction specialist

IMPATIENT TIMES

Would you rather receive $100 today or $125 a year from now? Although a 25% increase is an excellent one-year return on investment, the average decision-maker would choose the smaller immediate gain rather than the larger future gain.

Psychologists tell us that this is because decision makers generally feel disconnected from their future selves – which leads them to prefer smaller immediate gains to larger future gains.

This tendency to discount the value of future gains is what psychologists call “temporal discounting” and what economists term “rates of time preference.” It’s…

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Romance Under the Stars

Romance Under the Stars

A caress as soft as a whisper

brushed past my warm cheek

leaving a trail of biting cold

awakening my leaden eyes

Fingering the remnant of the chill breeze, I frowned

Someone had left the window open

My old and tired bones ached and creaked

as I jumped out of the bed

and plodded towards the window

My gait as graceful as a rhinos’

I lowered the window shut

not sneaking a peek outside

The shades were to come next

Oh – they never cooperate

Emitting a loud sigh, I tugged at them

The movement prying my eyelids open

the frown still in place

I had no intention of looking out

my comforting bed was calling out my name

But my eyes had other plans

They gazed outside

And just like that

I was awe-struck  – my hands went still on the shades

Muted by the moonlit glow

the world slumbered on

I craned my neck upwards

to find a few scattered stars and a shimmering moon

smiling down at their friend below

breathing gently in their arms

For now, the friend looked calm and comforted

bathed in the tender light of the heavens

My sleep long forgotten, I smiled

and tugged one last time at the drapes

quietly pleading with them

to not intrude on this intimate vista

With a gentle whoosh, they listened and covered the window

I tread back to bed

with a much lighter heart and a much wider grin

even a spring in my step

I felt blessed

for having been given a glimpse of

unreserved love

I fingered that spot on my cheek again

This time, with gratitude

For the chilly kiss on my cheek

For the sneak peek

into the world of unsullied affection

into the most indelible portrait

of romance under the stars

The Stranger in the Library: The Tale of a Surprising Friendship

Since I am with my one year old puppy, Oreo, almost all day – every day – during the weekdays, I run to the library on Saturday mornings for some much-needed respite. The 4-hour window from 8 am to 12 pm also helps me tackle a few baffling freelancing projects.

February 14, 2015 was no different.

I sat in the first floor reading room and squinted intensely into my blank laptop screen, hoping that my focused glare will jolt my slumbering brain into telling me how to start a darn article.

As I emitted the tenth sigh of frustration in 20 minutes, the corners of my eyes spotted an elderly man getting out of his seat and walking my way. Surprised, I looked up – a warm smile and a questioning frown creasing my face – and saw a tiny, heart-shaped box, emblazoned with a picture of a cute panda bear, in his hands

He calmly strolled to my seat, wished me “Happy Valentines Day”, and stretched his hands as if to give me the gift. Too shocked to do anything but say ‘Thank You’, I accepted his startling gesture of kindness.

Heart Shaped Panda Bear Box of Chocolates
The BEST Valentine’s Day Gift

He then turned around and walked back to his favorite seat without saying another word.

With widened eyes and a gleeful heart, I immediately updated my Facebook status and texted my husband!

But I was still baffled about his intentions. Why would he gift a complete stranger?

Heck, I didn’t even know his name.

A Silent Source of Comfort (A Quick Flashback)

I first noticed the man sometime in October, 2014, when we relocated to a new home, which is just a block away from the library.

As much as I love my cookie, Oreo – indeed, I would DIE for him – I need a break from his rambunctiousness (is that a word?) every once in a while. During every visit, I saw this man sitting in the same spot with a new book lovingly cradled in his hands.

For the first four months, our interactions were limited to silent stares across the room. We didn’t even smile at each other, but he had somehow become a fixture in my life.

Like the lit fireplace that emitted warmth without drawing attention towards itself, this man had quietly encamped himself in my consciousness.

The Valentine’s Day Transformation

Our discreet camaraderie transformed into a definite connection on the day he placed that tiny box of chocolates in my palm. His gift was especially heartwarming because I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. To me, February 14 has become an uber-successful marketing ploy that makes rich brands richer while leaving your wallet with multiple holes!

Much worse is the ‘expectation of materialistic gifts’, which constricts this over-hyped day. It saddens me that we have cheapened an unsullied and universal emotion like love by slapping a price tag on it. Since when did a more expensive gift indicate deeper love?

But as the man walked away, I fingered his blessing, placed it on the table to my right and curved my lips upwards.

This sweet stranger’s unexpected gesture reminded me of the original intent of Valentine’s Day: to celebrate thoughtfulness, kindness and selflessness.

The Silence is Shattered

After that gift incident, my husband pestered me to find out his name, but I kept putting it off.

Despite our ‘newfound closeness’, I relished the enigma of our unique relationship. So I remained mum – but started flashing much wider grins.

Couple of weeks ago, however, I saw him loitering outside the library, munching on some delicious Sour Cream and Onion chips. Since it was a weekday morning, he looked surprised to find me there and inquired about the same.

Compelled to be gracious, I returned the favor by asking his name. He obliged my request and shook my hand before I went inside. Twenty minutes later, he came over to my chair and started talking to me!

Now I know that he has never been on Facebook, reads around 300 books a year, watches 1000 movies a year, likes dogs and has a flip phone (gosh – my heart expanded with joy when I saw his archaic model. Gotta love those flips, and I am NOT being sarcastic! When it comes to technology, the clunkier models elate my soul :P )

The Future Beckons

Now that we actually speak to each other, our body language is more relaxed. We even joke with each other every once in a while.

I am not sure how long this ‘friendship’ will last, but the elderly stranger has become an integral part of my life. If, god forbid, he stops coming to the library, I hope he knows that at least one person will fondly remember him.

This entire experience taught me to never trivialize any person, any emotion or any experience. By being open-minded and open-hearted, you can enjoy a blissful life surrounded by people who matter to you and to whom you matter.

Thank you, friend, for having me in your heart. You will be cherished by me forever!

Have you ever been the recipient of such unforeseen joy? Please share your story with me! Thanks, dear readers!

Ahoy Spring!

Savoring the Smells, Sights and Shades of Spring

“Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length” – Robert Frost

Up, Close and Personal

A Botanical Orb

Funnily, yesterday was the first time I noticed – really noticed – the elegant curvature of the sky.  I usually focus on only a segment of that expanse above – a rectangular whiteboard with blue splotches adorning its canvas.

As I walked my dog up a gentle slope in our neighborhood on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, I craned my neck upwards to check out a tree that was just awakening from its winter-slumber. But my eyes didn’t rest at the top of the tree – they traveled higher and traced the subtle bend of a full-bodied sky that shimmered with the glow of sunshine.

Oreo is a Winter Dog ;)

I am guessing that the arch of the sky was enhanced by the vibrant rainbow of hues that dotted the grounds and fluttered proudly in the balmy breeze. The colors of earth clarified the curves of the ether.

Green. Yellow. Fuchsia. Pink. White. Lilac. Cherry. Violet

My heart sighed with satisfaction.

IMAG1037

My favorites were the innumerable dandelions that formed a golden carpet on green lawns. I had never heard of dandelions – and surely didn’t know that they were thought of as weeds – until I became aware of my soulful Facebook friend, Lynn Mclaughlin ‘s fascination with them. She taught me that one person’s weed is another person’s wonder.

Indeed, these little kisses of sunshine elated me, proving that shallow stereotypes and pointless prejudices only prevent you from leading healthy, happy and holistic lifestyle that revolves around your desires. (PS: Did you know that honey bees love dandelions – they are one of the first plants of spring and offer themselves happily for pollination?)

Little Kisses of Sunshine

Rejoicing As ONE

My world had transformed into a vibrant rainbow of hues that symbolized fun and freedom. The plants and trees danced to the whispery ‘whoosh’ of the warm wind, which was redolent with the insouciant smells of cherry blossoms and an impending thunderstorm.

Kids were out biking with their bare-chested fathers. Dogs ran gaily around their fenced yards. Strangers grinned and greeted us.

Gentle and Graceful

As a Chicagoan who is usually bundled up in multiple woolen layers, I could understand why this clement weather left everyone with uninhibited smiles and unburdened souls.  It is not every day that Midwesterners are blessed with idyllic weather. So we were all soaking in every precious moment of this GORGEOUS day.

Embracing Every Emotion and Experience

But even as I was smirking at ‘winter’ inside my head, I noticed two trees abutting a home: one bare, the other bountiful. The contrast was startling – and supremely illuminating! How will we ever appreciate the plenteousness of summer without the barrenness of winter, eh?

Contrasting Hues of Happiness

The contrasting trees taught me to be thankful for every season because it is impossible to comprehend the luster of summer without the lethargy of winter.

Your soul cannot sing delightedly if it has never been laden by the burden of tears. Happiness and sorrow are not opposites of each other – they complement each other. Isn’t it only fair to celebrate both the emotions?

It was a heartening lesson in gratitude.

This Is Just the Beginning

A Carpet of Cherry Blossoms

While writing this post last night, lightning strobed across my face, setting the scene for a powerful deluge that would soon smash against my window panes. But despite my husband’s objections, I left the windows open in order to allow the fragrant gust of wind to play with my hair and tickle my neck.

The musty scent of storm wafted through the window screen and blended with the feminine fragrance of my cherry-scented candle. The roar of thunder is getting closer. The night sizzles with the electric anticipation of a storm.

I could feel my smile stretch my cheeks until they hurt.

Yes, spring suited me just fine.

Vividly Yours

The Return of the Prodigal Blogger

“It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy” – Jane Fonda

WOW – it has been a while since I penned anything on this blog. I apologize for my blithe lassitude.

I could throw out the ‘I was working for others’ excuse, but this ‘reason’ feels lame. If I cared enough about this blog, I would have been more regular.

Truth is: (a) I stopped caring; (b) I was paralyzed by my dreams; (c) I was a perfectionist; (d) I was beset by my eating disorder demons

Dreams Galore

I want to start a new website, write four books in my life, help others with their blogging needs, further my own freelance writing career, become a travel writer, read more, play more, listen to more music, meet more people, travel more, bake more, clean more…phew, let me take a breath! LOL .

I have too many dreams, which feels overwhelming. I don’t know where to start – each one of my desires seems important. I don’t know how to prioritize my writing journey – so I remain immobile.

I kept putting off writing on this blog because of my ‘intention’ to start a new blog. Well, that didn’t happen and, as a result, this blog suffered too! LOL

Masochistic Me

It doesn’t help that my multitude of self-inflicted woes – from binge eating to headaches – kill my energy and enthusiasm. There have been innumerable days when I have done nothing but engage in harmful behaviors, break down in agony and take a sleeping pill to ‘forget’ my problems.

None of my unhealthy coping mechanisms are helping me heal. Au contraire, I am growing helpless every day. Thankfully, I am surrounded by a wonderful group of friends who don’t let me shrivel. They keep me floating with their ‘love, light and laughter’. (Thanks to my dearest friend, Christine L. Bowen, for my favorite 3 Ls of life)

But these psychological and physiological woes are killing my desire to write and my delight in words. I have lost my momentum, my ‘mojo’ and my motivation.

The Dual Prisons of Perfection and Comparison

The months of March and April were especially challenging.  I generally edit while writing so the first draft isn’t a migraine-inducing mess.

But my editor wasn’t very efficient this month because my ‘writer brain’ wasn’t producing anything noteworthy.

The words didn’t flow easily; the words that did appear on my screen felt hollow; the words that used to pep me up left me disheartened.

But I had to continue writing because my clients deserve my commitment.

So I had to shut up my editor and pen a few shitty first drafts – so shitty my eyes HURT while reading them. I had to cut major portions out of a document. I had to edit and reedit until the posts read moderately decent, and every edit eroded my confidence.

Worse, I stumbled upon a fabulous article by a self-confessed ‘non-writer’ and became certain that my YEN to become a reputable writer was hogwash. This non-writer seemed to possess more writing skills than someone like me who WANTED to write. And since I had no talent, why bother to write anything for myself, right?

*sigh*

Anyway….

My mental demons ran rampant in March and April, and I plunged head-first into a creative black-hole.

But I want to claw out of this perilous pit now. I want to reclaim my love for language, my passion for people and my zest for life. I want to muse with malice, smile without selfishness and write without worrying.

I am going to start with this blog.

You shall see me posting 3-4 times a week about love, life, creativity, business, marketing, branding, storytelling, reading, people and the challenges of my journey.  Since I am letting go of my perfectionist garb, I don’t plan on editing each article more than once. In other words, I wish to write and publish every post within 75 minutes.

I need to dump my obsessive need to nitpick every syllable and simply learn to play with words. I am sure my writing will fall flat at times, but so long as I continue trying, I can teach myself to lean into my words and trust them to lead the way.

Together, let’s empower each other to believe in our respective dreams. Let’s learn to face – at least – MOST of our days with courage, confidence, curiosity and clarity.  Let’s encourage each other to harness joy from the seemingly insignificant, but eternally memorable moments of our lives.

Are you ready to share your stories with me? :-)  Thanks for your patience and participation, dear readers #HUGS

Why I Won’t Wish You a Happy New Year

Note: This post first appeared on Medium

This is the finale of my ‘5 Reasons I Cherish 2014′ series. Part 1 was a ‘prose of praise’ to my pup, Oreo; Part II was dedicated to my enterprising online friends; Part III elucidated on the steps I took to confront my phobia of public speaking; Part IV revealed my decision to finally declare myself as a writer. Bear with me while I rant a bit before revealing the fifth lesson of 2014 ;) 

A Magnificent Start or a Spurious Mirage

Like many of you, I woke up this morning with a buoyant heart, a gritty soul and an optimistic mindset.

The day I had been waiting for with bated breaths was finally here: January 1, 2015

A new day. A new year. A new beginning.

What’s not to like about a fresh start, eh?

The golden shaft of light slanting in through my window shimmied with the promises of hope and happiness.

 The wisps of snowy clouds floating through the azure sky seemed to beckon me to the future of my dreams.

Even the chilly weather of Chicago— that normally has me cussing creatively — somehow felt gentler, like the feathery touch of a fresh snowflake when it first hits the ground.

The aromatic morning air glimmered with love, light and laughter — thanks to my dear friend, Christine L. Bowen, for these three Ls. If I were blessed with limitless imagination, I would have definitely seen magical unicorns floating around me!

I logged onto Facebook to make the necessary salutations, brewed a pot of coffee (which smelled even more enticing today!), solved my morning crosswords and then drove to Panera Bread for some To-Go breakfast and their yummilicious Hazelnut coffee, while my pup leaned his whole body out of the window and enjoyed the rush of breeze.

For a while, my world felt as perfect as George Clooney’s face! ;)

But couple of hours later, as the hour hand and the minute hand converged at noon, my enthusiasm began plummeting. And at around 1:30 pm, I hit rock bottom.

Wasn’t today supposed to be different? Wasn’t this year supposed to be more positive than 2014? Wasn’t I supposed to feel (miraculously) happy at all times?

To give you some background, the hours between 1 pm and 5 pm are extremely hard (every day) because my eating disorder regularly rears its very ugly head to taunt me about my ‘over-sized meal and obese body’.

But I thought January 1 was meant to be a the dawn of a new era, one that is NOT pockmarked with difficulties or demons or disappointments.

So what was going on? Why was GOD being so unfair towards JUST me?

A Lesson In a Bar of Soap

When sleeping or playing with my pup didn’t elevate my spirits, I stomped to my bathroom for a mid-afternoon shower, hoping that the hot water would calm my agitated nerves.

That’s when I spotted one of my favorite bars of Indian soap — emerald green and lime scented — sitting gracefully inside a shower cubby.

As my nose drank in its sweet smell, I suddenly recognized why my morning high was replaced by crushing sorrow in the afternoon.

The New Year was like a new bar of my favorite soap.

Let me explain.

I have a soft spot for scented Indian soaps. A trip to an Indian grocery store will inevitably result in the purchase of half a dozen bars!

From the subtlety of sandalwood to the seductive appeal of jasmine, India manufactures a wide array of soaps with heavenly smells. And I cherish inhaling them while they are still in the packet — sometimes, I even use them as moth balls!

However, my happiness always plummets after using the soap a few times. Although the fragrances don’t fade, my fascination fades with repeated use.

The holiday season is very similar.

Like the pure scent of that unwrapped soap, the holiday season — which ends on New Years day — smells intoxicating, exhilarating and powerful.

From self-help gurus to digital marketers to huge retail brands, everyone throws advice and bonuses and discounts and sales to celebrate this ‘special time of the year.’

The anticipation of bigger. better and more beautiful times clouds our judgment, and we start hoping for some magic wand to erase all our troubles and bless us with our dream life!

But when the unblemished perfume of a new soap blends with the not-so-fresh scents of our body, and diminishes in size, its appeal begins to dim.

Similarly, when the New Year arrives and we are forced to take part in it, the day doesn’t feel remarkable anymore.

It feels bland, boring and blase.

The magical unicorns disappear, the sunlight feels blinding, the sky loses its luster and the cold goads you to kill someone!

WHY?

Because our pre-New Year expectations were completely unrealistic!

Take Off the Festive Blinders

What if, instead of year-end sales, retail establishments start holding ‘daily day-end sales’?

Sure, they will lose a lot of money, but, hey, we might then start believing that every day is extraordinary, right?

Do you see the problem with this thinking?

Instead of mindfully experiencing every moment, we are attached to labels and packaging and facades and marketing ploys!

Let’s go back to my favorite soap.

Despite not losing its fragrance, that soap lost its allure in my mind. Why?

Because I was drawn more towards the enticing possibilities of an unopened bar than towards the act of using that soap every day.

Similarly, the holiday season urges us to visualize a utopian future; one where contentment is dirt cheap, where gallantry is our best friend and where success resides on our doorstep at all times.

When New Year arrives and reality doesn’t align with these fantastical expectations, our confidence takes a nosedive and we revert back to the ‘pre-holiday season’ version of ourselves: uneasy, uninspired and unimaginative. 

Is it any wonder that most resolutions don’t stick?

Very few people have the attitude and aptitude to change their lives drastically using showy goals.

Most of us mere mortals have to take small, supple steps that lead to consequential change.

And we have to take these steps in our real, messy, mundane, unstimulating lives.

Just like writers who wait for inspiration to start putting down their thoughts hardly get anything written, those who chase glamorous milestones to start living their purpose are never able to achieve sustainable success.

Live Like a Dog

Now what the heck does that mean?!

In the morning, while I was behaving like Maria from the Sound of Music — joyfully spreading my hands, humming a happy tune and twirling through my unclean home — at the prospect of a NEW YEAR, my pup, Oreo,looked up at his crazy mum, yawned and went back to sleep.

I pooh-poohed him for not understanding the import of a NEW YEAR. He was wasting precious morning minutes scratching himself instead of dancing with me in our not-so-lush backyard!

However, when afternoon arrived and Oreo joyfully chased his favorite squirrel, while I was sinking deeper into depression, I had to confess that he was much smarter!

Because, unlike us humans, my pup’s happiness didn’t depend on the time of the day or the day of the year.

To Oreo, there was nothing different about today and so he did what he always did.

HE LIVED. 

So, yeah, my wish for you is to not have a happy NEW YEAR.

My wish is that — just like a dog — you engage mindfully with your PRESENT and seek something gratifying in the daily grind of life.

My wish is that you embrace each moment — both pleasant and unpleasant — to the fullest so that over-hyped milestones lose their intrigue.

My wish is that you find the courage and the confidence to steer your life in the direction you choose — every day. And if you fall, my wish is that you find the compassion to be gentle towards yourself and possess the cojones to get up, brush your outfit and start over.

Because your dreams, your desires, your aspirations, your ambitions, your passion, your purpose, your success, your story, your loves and your LIFE are worth fighting for: every single monotonous day. 

Happy EVERY DAY, friends!

*******************************************************************

And now let’s move on to the fifth and final lesson of 2014, shall we? (yep, I know that was not a ‘little rant’, but the words flowed and I couldn’t stop  — if you are reading this, I either succeeded in captivating your attention or earned your snickers! Either way, I am glad you are here! ;) )

Lesson 5: Do not fight your life. Surrender to it.

One of my closest friends is in a dilemma over a boy who seems to like her, but is just not ready to commit.

She asked me, “Kit! How did you KNOW that your husband was the one? Why do you trust that he will never leave you? How are you so sure that your marriage will succeed?”

Pat came my response, “But I am not sure. My marriage can break tomorrow. Either of us — or both — might get tired of each other, fall out of love and want to call it quits. I don’t KNOW what’s going to happen in the future, and that IS scary, but also so very exciting!”

She remained unconvinced — actually I might have put her off love completely because of my realistic, but unromantic answer (!)– but my point is that life IS unpredictable, which is why it’s fun!

Like chess players, we take chances based on our insight and intuition. Some of them pay off and others don’t, but all of them were worth it because we dared!

Think about it.

When you make the right moves, the rewards are tremendous. And if you bomb, you are still wiser because of that experience.

Let me recap the first four lessons of 2014 to show you what I mean:

I was blessed with the aforementioned insights because of my willingness to stretch my comfort zone just a bit and take a tiny risk without knowing the consequences of my action.

None of my experiences — be it adopting a rambunctious pet, forming heartwarming relationships, co-hosting a LIVE show OR declaring myself as a writer — were planned or predictable.

In December 2013, neither did I know nor did I yearn for a pet. But when the opportunity fell into my lap, I trusted my instincts and embraced it.

Similarly, I would have never guessed that I would be co-hosting a show or that it will be celebrating its anniversary in 2015.

But I did and it is.

If I had hesitated or shied away from this ah-mazing opportunity, I wouldn’t have those enriching relationships. More importantly, I would have let my fear to take an even stronger hold over my life.

Finally, when I finally called myself a writer, I began experiencing the ebbs and flows of emotions that every writer experiences.

And although the blank screen, overwhelming competition and poor paychecks intimidate the bejesus out of me every day, I still take a certain amount of pride in finally living MY vision and being happy doing what I LOVE.

Please note that I am not saying any of these things to brag. 

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I reek of insecurity and inferiority complexes!

I am just sharing my experiences as further proof that when you befriend your circumstances and lean INTO your life, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Even as I am writing this, it’s hard to believe that a ‘scared cat’ like me took those chances.

But, now that I have taken the first step, I am going to continue pushing my limits — gently, gracefully and genially — because that’s the only way I can explore more of life’s whimsical treasures. (And that’s how I can pen another series of long, rambling posts! :P )

So, yes, friends, strive to make your every day count and cherish the bountiful riches of life. 

Before you leave, tell me: have you ever reaped rewards by befriending the unknown?

Thank you so much for reading and engaging with me. Happy EVERY DAY! ;)

5 Reasons I Cherish 2014: Part IV

Note: The following post first appeared on Medium

This post is part of the ‘Reasons I Cherish 2014’ series. Part I talked about my life-altering decision to adopt Oreo, my pup. Part II delved into the importance of forging connections that matter. Part III revealed how I tackled my fear of public speaking after being paralyzed by it for nearly fifteen years.

Lesson 4: If you want to live your calling, you have to first OWN it.

“To be a writer is to be a person of faith, someone who trusts in the writing process. The blank page isn’t mocking us. It is inviting us. Like invisible ink, the words are already there. Hidden. But they are not hidden on the page. They are hidden inside of us. And when the timing is right, a light will turn on, revealing each word, one letter at a time” — Denise J. Hughes, On Becoming a Writer: What Every Blogger Needs to Know

I hate flying.

The cramped seats, the miniscule restrooms, the unpredictable weather conditions and the general feeling of being out of control are frustrating — and, frankly, stressful!

I can’t sleep during flights — including transatlantic ones — because of this fear. Hence, I try to distract myself by reading, listening to music, watching movies, solving crossword puzzles or disturbing my fellow-traveler (read husband). (I also latch onto strangers during awful turbulence, but that’s a story for another day!)

Sometime around March 2014, I was flying back from Maryland after visiting my parents for a week. My husband was in a particular cranky mood and wanted to sleep it off during the flight. While he had fun in la-la-land, I was left twiddling my thumbs, drinking five cups of coffee and visiting the bathroom one too many times.

But, either due to an overload of caffeine or the strain of flying, I just couldn’t sit still. When jiggling my body like a ‘bunny on steroids’ lost its luster, I spent some time solving crossword puzzles and making fun of my co-passengers in my head!

Surprisingly, even my favorite pastimes couldn’t distract me from pondering about plummeting to death. So I retrieved my Kindle from the back pocket of the seat in front of me and mindlessly scrolled through the hundred titles that I will never find time to read!

Now, I am an extremely impulsive person with strong instincts (they are not always right, but they ping loud and clear anyway! :D). Regardless of whether I am shopping or eating out or traveling or reading or writing, I listen to my ever-burgeoning gut!

On that day, seated in the aisle section of an unsteady plane, my gut was sending me strong signals to open one book.

But before I reveal its title, I need to tell you about another book that changed my life.

A Twist in My Personal Branding Tale

“When you are branding, you can’t fake it. Find your purpose and define your identity, then developing your personal brand will be far simpler” — Mark Cijo, YOU Branding: Reinventing Your Personal Identity As a Successful Brand

Words have seduced, strengthened and stimulated me forever. My favorite childhood memories involve a book: either in my hand or under my pillows or hidden in the bathroom or shoved into any available crevice around my home! Hence, it should have seemed logical for me to embrace a writing career. (or at least a profession that involved being surrounded by words all day, like a librarian!)

But I was neither logical not brave enough to embark on an unconventional career that was not approved by my society.

India —  as wonderful as it is in innumerable ways – still espouses stereotypical notions about career choices. Most Indians are encouraged to either become an engineer or a doctor (or MAYBE an architect, at the most).

Writing is not regarded as a lucrative profession. And, truthfully, writers aren’t rewarded enough either, so every child focuses on entering one of those two or three ‘accepted’ vocations, hoping to make good money and settle into comfortable lives.

Consequently, barring some poorly penned poems, I never wrote much. And I certainly never tinkered with the idea of becoming a full-time writer.

But after life threw me into consecutive tailspins, I was forced to reevaluate my choices and reclaim control of my life.

That’s when writing and marketing took front seats in my mind.

If you go back and read Part II of this series, you will learn that I was introduced to the thrilling realm of marketing when an eating disorder curtailed my previous career as a Telecom Consultant.

For almost six months, I was obsessed about marketing and wanted to become a social media maven.

To this end, I joined major platforms and tried connecting with the top players in the hopes of entering the ‘big league’. I made the right strategic moves: reading (and sharing) almost every article on popular social media blogs, following ‘influencers’ (god — I hate that term now!) and engaging with other social media fanatics.

In my mind, I was already a successful social media consultant with a plethora of clients at her doorstep and a zillion followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

But those delusions came to a screeching stop when I –thankfully — stumbled upon Mark Cijo’s amazing book on personal branding: YOU Branding

As I absorbed and processed this brilliant piece of non-fiction, several high-wattage light bulbs went off in my brain.

Mark’s insights made me realize that although marketing was addictive, words were my true passion and the one thing I cannot live without.

Consequently, I transformed from a social media marketer who enjoyed writing into a writer who relished social media.

By defining writing — not marketing — as my primary purpose, I reframed my mindset and altered my style of interaction on social media:

No longer did I chase big names on social platforms just to increase my visibility

No longer did I yearn to be counted as one of the social media gurus

No longer did I care about social metrics of success

I just wanted to utilize the power of my words to positively heal others by making them smile, by being a source of comfort and by offering hope for a fulfilling future.

‘You Branding’ had spurred me to find my mission in life, which, in turn, prompted me to stop connecting with people I WANTED to like and start connecting with people I LIKED.

This subtle shift has reaped significant rewards by letting my true personality — crazy, childlike and not-so-comical — shine on social media, thereby attracting only those users who truly care about me.

I am supremely grateful to Mr. Cijo for sharing his knowledge and stimulating me to rethink my personal branding strategy

But although I was convinced about becoming a writer now, I was still hesitant about calling myself a writer.

I guess my fear of being rebuked continued to overpower my desire to profess my passion for writing.

Thankfully, that trusty gut came to my rescue on a tempestuous flight by urging me to read an awe-inspiring book that would finally give me the courage to say: “I AM a writer”

Believe It to Become It

“You are a writer. You just need to write. It’s time to kill the excuses and start writing. Time to become a writer again. Not a marketer or an entrepreneur. Not a blogger or business person. A writer. A real one” — Jeff Goins, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

Well, the quote must have given the title away!

The book was “You Are a Writer” by Jeff Goins, a man I have come to respect immensely not just for his inimitable intellect, but also for his tender and transparent disposition.

I didn’t know Jeff while making my purchase. I just knew that Amazon’s reviewers seem to love his book. But I remained skeptical about its quality because of a few not-so-pleasant experiences with other popular books.

I shouldn’t have worried.

I was hooked from the moment my eyes took in the following words: “Hi. My name’s Jeff. And I am a writer”

As surprising as it might seem, I had never come across anyone who proclaimed himself (or herself) as a writer. And here was this stranger saying the exact words that I have longed to utter my entire life: “I am a writer”

Instantly, I was compelled to know how ‘Jeff’ acquired the courage to call himself a writer. Did he always know he wanted to write? Did he struggle to assert himself as a writer? Did his family approve? What was his story?

Pushing my seat to a comfortable position, I raised the Kindle to my eye level and got ready to immerse myself in the words of this man with whom I already felt a strange kinship.

For the next hour, as Jeff enthralled me with his uncluttered writing style, unassuming candor and unforgettable story, I forgot about tiny toilets, terrifying turbulence and tired travelers.

He drew me into his world so completely that I even ignored my gall bladder’s protests before the flight began its descent, which is a big deal, trust me! (Of course, I had to pay for my nonchalance, but let’s not go there)

Like a whiff of the most alluring perfume, Jeff’s words stayed with me long after I reached home from the airport.

In the book, Jeff requests his reader to grab a pen and paper, and scribble the words, “I am a writer” every day until you start believing it. I followed his command on the plane, and continued to doodle these words after reaching solid ground until they encamped themselves into my soul.

Seeing those words on various surfaces — including paper towels, book covers and notebook pages — cemented my resolve to write.

It feels wonderful to state that since that memorable flight, I have written every day, either for myself or for a client.

I have participated in Facebook Blogging Challenges, joined writing groups and communities and engaged with fellow-bloggers. My endeavors have resulted in some fabulous relationships with individuals who share my bone-deep passion for writing. It feels wonderful to interact with people who ‘get’ my unrelenting urge to write.

Most importantly, I have deleted belittling ‘adjectives’ — such as ‘aspiring’ and ‘wannabe’ — and refer to myself as a writer. 

If ever I find doubt thawing my determination — which happens every day (!) — I just reach out to my writing communities for unconditional encouragement and positive energy.

In addition, I have couple of really good friends and one magnificent mentor — Ms. Katherine Kotaw — who prop me up with their selfless kindness and steady support.

Of course, there are times when I just need to take a break from writing in order to revitalize my creativity. In such cases, I just give my fingers a break and trust my passion to let me know when it’s ready to befriend me again.

Thank you, Jeff Goins, for sharing your story and thereby allowing me to start creating mine. You were right when you said that every writer has a choice to make a difference (or not).

I choose to leave a positive impact on this world, no matter how insignificant my contribution might seem on a larger scale.

I don’t care if my messages stir only one person; it is still my ‘destiny’ to distribute my words for others to experience and — hopefully — get inspired.

The Beginning

“This is not an end. It is a beginning. You will need the courage of a lion to face this journey” — Erin Hunter

I thought long and hard about how to end this post, and came up empty. It irked me that I was unable to think of a way to tie this entire package in a neat ribbon bow.

It took me a while to recognize why I was having so much trouble.

Because this isn’t the end at all — this is just the beginning of my writing adventure! I shouldn’t be saying ‘good bye’; I should be introducing myself.

So here I go:

“Hi! I am Krithika aka Kit. And I am a writer”

Did you make any momentous declaration in 2014 that would set the course for your future? Thank you for interacting with me.

Please come back tomorrow to read about my final teaching, which really is a combination of the first four lessons!