Staying Sane in Moments of Insanity

5 (+1) Statements That Keep Me Sane in

“The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.” David Icke

It was midnight. The bedroom windows were open.

Twinkling pinpoints of delight winked at me from above. An invigorating breeze wafted in, lifting the hair over my ears, like it was getting ready to whisper sweet-nothings. I smiled, tilted my head and closed my eyes. I eagerly anticipated its secrets.

For around sixty seconds, the sounds and smells of the magical night kept me safe from the monsters of the world.

Drip.

An ugly thought invaded my mind.

I furrowed my brows and mentally kicked it out. Nothing was going to drag me out of my paradise.

Not today.

Drip. Drip.

Too late. My admonition was a second too late.

Two other thoughts took advantage of the opening and thudded after the first thought.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Unlike an IV drip that energizes an sick person with every drop of glucose, my negative thoughts enervated me with every tiny drip.

“Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

My head complained against this intrusion. A pain shot from the center to the ends of my skull.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip

My forehead was split into two by a deep crease at the center.

I writhed in agony, pleading with my negative thoughts to stop: “Please, please, please, please.”

My exhortations fell on deaf ears.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I opened my eyes, tears of frustration now freely flowing down my ashen cheeks.

Then I screamed – an eerie scream of helplessness that scared my sleepy dog.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I jumped out of the bed, my body hot with shame, anger and despondency. The balmy breeze seemed like a mockery now.

My mind, body and soul were consumed by this ‘basilisk of negativity.’

Drip. Drip. Drip. DripDrip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. . Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I ran down the stairs and fell onto my couch, banging my head over and over again against its arms. When I felt too fatigued to hit my head anymore, I sagged onto the floor – desperate, dejected, depleted.

One of my close friends pinged me at that moment. I assumed her nudge was God’s way of reconnecting me with reality. With leaden hands, I typed what I was going through and how I was feeling. I was especially concerned about my apathy – I felt disinterested and detached from every human emotion. In all honesty, I felt like a sociopath with no compassion.

However, venting to her  helped, especially since she always finds the right words to comfort others.

“If you find yourself plagued by a recurrent worry, train yourself to think of something else. Your conscious mind can concentrate on only one thought at a time, and driving the negativity away will free you up to move forward again.” – Harvey Mackay

But she is not always around to help and such freaky occurrences are, unfortunately, common.

I breakdown in despair and fear every single day. Derogatory, desperate and deplorable thoughts swirl around in my brain – over and over and over again. I am too ashamed to even tell you what they are. Like a ruined tape that repeats the same lyrics, my mind conjures up the SAME thoughts every hour of every day of my life.

Yes, I am tired. So tired. It is no fun stumbling over the same roadblocks repeatedly.

I recently learned that there is a term to describe what perennially negative people like me experience: automatic negative thoughts or intrusive thoughts, a speck on the spectrum of OCD.  (This article eloquently describes some of what I think and feel on a regular basis.)

When uncontrollable negativity assaults your peace of mind, the best you can do is wait out this storm, TRUSTING that these gruesome thoughts will evaporate soon. I wait for this lull AFTER this storm.

Once my darkest moments pass, and the fog clears just a bit, I whisper the following affirmations to myself:

a. I am not alone: Knowing that others too flail against such disconcerting thoughts helps me in two ways: (a) It tells me that none of us is evil. We are just disturbed – emotionally – and can all get better together; (b) It holds my beliefs in perspective. My situation might seem completely petty to someone who is living through worse. I whine only to select people – the rest have no idea about the disquieting machinations of my mind! They don’t need to know –  they just need to feel my hugs and love and compassion.

b. I will never let my negative thoughts overpower my positive actions: Your thoughts have as much power as you give them. I admit to giving my negativity too much power, but I will never allow those disgusting emotions to taint my actions. The worse my thoughts, the kinder my actions. This motto keeps me sane.

c. My mind is dark, but my soul is not: My best friend succinctly summarized my plight after I was brutally honest about my struggles and asked her whether I was a horrible person. She said, “Kit! You are not mean. Not at all. But your mind is terribly mean to you.” There is a reason she is my best friend – the woman never fails to make me smile. Her utter faith in my inner goodness gives me hope that even the bleakest of thoughts do not have the power to tarnish my soul. I just have to be very careful to barricade my soul from enemy forces.

“There have been times when I felt suicidal and I would stop my head from going in that direction of negativity because I thought there’d be something I’d miss that was funny in the future. If there’s a chance I’m going to laugh tomorrow then want to live to experience that.” – Dave Navarro

d. I have risen before and I will rise again: Since my mid-twenties, I have been beset by one challenge after another. But I have always found a way to crawl out of my black holes. If I can defeat my woes once, I can defeat them again – and again and again and again.

e. I have something or someone to live for: When I find no reason to live for myself, I try to think of someone else who is invested in my happiness. Knowing someone cares lend me the courage to care for myself too. Knowing I have dreams that deserve my love gives me the strength to drag myself back up and continue placing one foot forward.

f. I want to be happy, think positive and sprinkle love (and laughter): Sometimes, just knowing that you WANT to get better helps the healing process. Never give up this WANT to feel better, even if you lose all hope of getting better. That WANT will imbue you with revitalizing energy to do, be and give your best.

If all else fails, I just stop thinking and pray that my good Lord escorts me to a gentler place. I trust that He won’t let me down and that He is guiding me, albeit through some twisted and tedious roads, to a place of serenity and smiles.

It is no fun being strangled by detrimental thoughts. It is no fun being entrenched in gloom. It is no fun being constricted by nastiness.

But I also know that happiness is well worth every trial, every tribulation and every trouble.

So I will continue opening my bedroom windows and letting the breeze in, hoping that tomorrow will be better.

One day, restful sleep will come.

Until then, I am prepared to grapple with my negativity. What I am NOT prepared to do is give up.

How do you deal with negative emotions, dear readers? What holds you aloft when your mind screams at you to sink?

5 Benefits of Handwritten Notes

5 Benefits of Handwritten Notes

“Your friend sent me a handwritten ‘Thank You’ note,” said my mom, sounding pleasantly surprised.

I remembered that my friend had promised to write my mum a note for gifting her a perfume.

Thinking about my sweet friend, I smiled into the phone and said, “She loves writing notes, mum.”

My mum responded, going for the jugular, “And you can’t even be bothered to return my call or send me an email”

Oops. I should have realized the direction of my mum’s thoughts.

Now, I don’t hand-write notes for a specific reason: my handwriting is pathetic. Why would I want to put others through the torture of deciphering my messy scrawls?

But I laughed and said, “A daughter should take her mum for granted. That’s her right. You should not expect such gestures from me. I bet my friend doesn’t write notes to her mum”

I heard my mum ‘tsking’ and could envision her funny pout!

“Oh, I am sure she does. She seems very sweet”, she said

I could hear the unspoken ‘unlike someone’ in her voice.

That was my cue to wrap up the call!

I made some conciliatory noises, placated my darling mum and slammed the phone in relief.

“Phew, that was close,” I whispered, reminiscing again about my lovely friend who often sends me notes of friendship, love and encouragement.

I sent my friend a quick text, gently chiding her for making me look bad. I also reminded her that she hadn’t sent me a note in ages!

We exchanged some ‘lols’ and ‘Muaahs’ and ‘love yous’.

But the morning conversation kept churning in my head and I ruminated about the value of handwritten notes.

From what I can infer, following are five benefits of handwriting a note to a loved one (or even a stranger!): 

a. It makes the recipient feel special

When my husband and I moved into our new home, we visited our neighbors just to say ‘Hello’ and offer some chocolates. One of our neighbors was not home.

The next day, we received a lengthy note of apology from them. It was completely unnecessary, but it, nonetheless, made us feel special!

My friend’s messages never fail to make me grin, dance, sing and reconnect with my passion, my dreams and my life. I screech excitedly whenever one of them pops in my mail!

I am sure you too have received handwritten notes. They could have just been some scribbled words on a greeting card, but didn’t you feel special?

This is the era of text messaging and social media updates. Most of us rarely spell out words – H.R.U and IMO sound familiar? – let alone pen handwritten notes to others. But our nonchalant disregard for words is all the more reason to write a message by hand.

Imagine how wonderful someone will feel if you go that extra mile by sending a handwritten note that says, “I care.”

b. It gives you a pause from the hustle of life

Did you sit down and do nothing today?

Yep, you read that right.

Did you sit down for even five minutes and do nothing today?

I am going to take a wild guess and say, “NO!”

We are dominated by To-Do lists. From the moment we swing our legs off the bed in the morning to the moment we swing our legs back onto the bed at night, we are in a constant state of movement. We are so consumed by making a living that we forget to live.

Handwriting a note gives you a pause from this mindless hustle. It allows you to stop, take a deep breath, think and put down your thoughts.

It is a form of meditation that will imbue you with new ideas, new energy and a new mindset. While I haven’t penned a letter in a long time, I have rediscovered the joy of putting pen to paper while ideating and making outlines for my blog posts.

There is something satisfying about connecting the nib of your pencil or pen to a paper.

c. It forms more meaningful relationships

Those who journal might relate to this.

Journaling is a handwritten message to yourself. You don’t filter, you don’t censor, you don’t edit.

You just pour yourself onto a blank piece of paper. It is an intimate transaction between you and your notebook. The mere act of seeing what you have written on paper helps you make sense of chaotic thoughts. In effect, journaling offers clarity, meaning and peace to your life.

Handwritten notes, while more polished than journal entries, also give you the courage to bare your heart. Unlike texts, video chats or even face-to-face conversations, you don’t have to worry about how your emotions will be received at that instant, which allows you to reveal your feelings with less fear and more depth.

And unfiltered truths always bring people closer.

Recently, I apologized to a loved one via Facebook messenger. Those two lines erased years of resentment and anger. I forgave that person and myself for holding onto grudges and generally making our own lives hell.

Imagine if I had written a letter to that person? Yep – our relationship would have blossomed.

d. It increases focus and sharpens your brain

I checked Facebook five times while writing this blog post. I could have turned off my Internet, but I needed to research this particular section and hence remained connected. Alas, my favorite social network is couple of clicks away and I couldn’t resist scrolling through it.

However, not once did my concentration waiver when, two hours ago, I was conducting research for an important assignment using two books, a pack of tiny post-it notes and a pen. My laptop was not in sight. I scanned through two books within an hour and now have enough information to start typing my article tomorrow morning.

Technology, as wonderful as it is, lends itself to distraction. Pen and paper, as quaint as it is, lends itself to concentration.

You don’t have multiple open tabs that scream for attention. You don’t waste an hour watching Criminal Minds just because the lead actors are hot (WHAT? I don’t do this!) . You don’t stop every five minutes to see if anyone has liked the picture of your scrumptious dinner at IHOP (WHAT? I don’t do this either!).

It’s you, your pen (or pencil) and that paper. Simple, clean and distraction-free.

I am not an expert on the science behind handwritten notes, but, from what I read, ‘finger movements activate parts of our brain’ – the Reticular Activating System (RAS) – that enhance our focus.

Also, engaging your motor-skills and memory via handwriting bolsters your creativity and hones your brain. The physical act of writing down your thoughts allows you to THINK and form connections that might otherwise be invisible. The more you utilize your brain, the stronger it becomes and the easier it becomes for you to come up with ideas!

Finally, studies have also proven that writing by hand accelerates learning because it slows you down (see (b)) and lets you absorb what you are writing.

e. It keeps you happy

This is really a cumulative effect of the above points.

When you care enough about someone to write a note by hand, you automatically feel great about yourself. Because nothing bolsters our self-esteem more than showing kindness to someone else, especially when that person least expects it.

As you write more messages and form deeper associations, your quality of life will improve. You will feel lighter at heart. Your smile will feel more natural.

Handwriting notes also provides a sense of accomplishment. I know that outlining an article by hand or just capturing random thoughts on paper reduces my dissatisfaction and increases my confidence.

When you feel good about yourself, you are bound to BE happier.

So, yeah, I am going to test my own theories by handwriting a note of admiration to that loved one (from Facebook), my bad handwriting be damned. My gut tells me that this act will revitalize our relationship. Meanwhile, maybe I can show my mom some extra-love too! Really, what have I got to lose, eh?

Over to you, friends. Do you write messages by hand? What are some other benefits of handwriting notes of love? Thanks for engaging with me.

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…

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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