Why I stopped setting yearly goals & started living every day to the fullest

2017 has been an important year of my life. A year when I changed gears to make some of the most-anticipated-yet-most-postponed changes.

Around Christmas, I was ready to publish a long (read 2800 words approximately) post sharing at length all that I had been doing in the one year when I blogged sporadically, almost disappeared from the social media scene and never making enough time to read the many blogs I dearly love.

Still, more than a month later, this is practically my first post in 2018 (barring the two book reviews I did in the past weeks).

This is about to change from this minute on.

Yup! that’s true and there’s an important announcement too. But before that, let’s catch up on the lost time.

Let’s begin with what kept me occupied in 2017.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would remember my distress over my discord with my strong-willed child. This left me thinking or rather worrying endlessly. The anxiety thus induced made me hop from one parenting article to other on the Internet, dive into the pages of the highly trusted books on parenting.

But at the end of the day, I wasn’t at peace. The tricks and the tips were effective, but only in the short term. This was when I decided that I needed to prioritise and consciously focus on resolving the issues that had been adversely affecting my well-being.

After much speculation and introspection, I realised that I had to work on the many issues, the many grudges I had been unknowingly holding in my heart. Though I was open to the possibility that power struggles between me and my child were more cause of my over-expectations than because of my 5-year-old being defiant to authority, I had never expected the sequence of events that followed.

Of new beginnings and friendships - The Era I Lived In

In the final months of 2016, I started cutting down my work. What started with restricting my work hours which were borderline crazy at that point, ended up to going on a back burner by the time the first quarter of 2017 ended.

I consciously started investing more time and undivided attention to Pari. As a mother, I had imagined making this switch would come rather naturally to me but I was in for a surprise even at this bend. It was tough for me to not let my dedication towards my child waiver given the impending worries of my savings plummeting with each passing day.

Ah! the perils of being a single parent.

I was constantly weighing my need to work more hours against working out what I had been doing to upset the fine balance of my peaceful existence with my child.

If you’re a parent or a caretaker of a feisty child, you’d be well-aware how these little bundles of Sun-like energy crave for an extra dose of attention, quite unlike other children of their age. Though I often try to avoid it, in my mind I can’t help going back to my childhood days for reference to understand what my child might be feeling or expecting of me at times when I fail to understand her tantrums and moods.

While on some occasions my guesses work, at others, our stark personality differences play havoc with my craving-for-peace mind. Another roadblock had been my constant desire to take a break from being a full-time caregiver to my child and elderly parents by binging on social media updates.

(Thankfully) It didn’t take me long to realise that being away from the Internet would actually do me good when I needed to cling on to every ounce of peace and well-being. I desperately needed to live every day like it was the day that would change my relationship with my child forever.

I was hoping for a miracle while toiling to make it happen. I’d be lying if I say, that I never lost hope. There were countless occasions when I’d end up in tears, feeling frustrated, wasted and not being a good enough person to become a mother who could understand her child.

Around the time, somewhere in June last year, when I had almost convinced myself that I was being an emotional fool by giving up my work and working on my mental, emotional well-being while the whole world juggled these two effortlessly something major happened.

Our next door neighbour’s son, aged barely 43 years committed suicide. We have been neighbours for generations. The blow shook our whole locality for a number of reasons. The prime being, the man in question was much loved by one and all for his loving, friendly nature. But that was only on the surface. He had been suffering from mental health issues for a long time.

Among others, my parents had on many occasions subtly hinted his parents that he needed medical attention. But, as expected those words of advice fell on deaf ears. Today, the world has lost a compassionate young soul only because his family didn’t see his mental illness as anything that needed urgent attention.

Needless to say, I was shaken to the core. I had somehow been thrown face-to-face with the reality of life. The writing was clear on the wall.

We can’t take our lives and well-being for granted.

We simply shouldn’t do it, lest we not fear to lose the ones we love or ourselves.

From then on, I knew, I had my priorities etched in stone. The well-being of my child and my own-self were paramount. I had to make the adjustments that seemed uncomfortable at the time but were definitely achievable with meticulous planning.

Life wasn’t going to be easy there on.

In the six months ahead, I decided to take the bull by its horns. I chose to take the leap of faith and stand up for myself, even if it meant openly challenging the people and their beliefs that were causing me immense pain and grief.

I gradually but steadily started choosing myself over everything else. My health, my emotional well being, my peace of mind, my sleep started to matter over making others happy by working like a machine. The repercussions of such an approach have been scary, as expected.

Among others (that I shall be sharing in my future posts), the events I mentioned in my Car Story too happened around this time.

Did I falter? Did I second guess myself? A lot.

Did I give up? Hell NO!

Sometimes when we yearn for signs from life to help us know if we’re doing alright they come in the most unexpected forms. This time it came in the form of another unexpected death from a massive heart attack to a 40-year-old man who lives at a stone throwing distance from our home. It all came down to the unhealthy lifestyle that killed him despite no medical history supporting his cause of death. He was a successful restaurateur and was happily enjoying lunch with his family when in a matter of minutes, all was over.

I’m not sure by when (if ever) will I be able to overcome the shock of the realisation, that the stressful, unhealthy lives we lead in the modern times have only added to its uncertainty.

Around Christmas, the very first signs of progress in my relationship with Pari began to show up (the details of which needs another series of posts). It was the start of a beautiful friendship, I’d only dreamt of until that day. In short, our days were now calmer, loaded with smiles. Pari’s incessant banter was now music to my ears, I wasn’t in a rush to judge or hush her up.

This year, I decided to bring our very first Christmas tree home. I am happy to report that despite its humble nature, it brought along loads of cheer to my family. It somehow gifted us a reason to bond over and return to being the warm, loving, happy beings we had ceased being somewhere in the past 8-10 years.

I was happy that I had managed to live up to my Word of the Year for 2017 ~ transformation.

This was exactly when I thought I was ready to post about the happy turn of events in my life. I even had planned on a Word for the Year 2018. I was pretty sure, I was ready to rock the New Year.

Why I Stopped setting yearly goals & started living every day to the fullest

Just when 2018 dawned and so many of my favourite blogs rolled out their New Year goals and Word of the Year announcement, I learnt about the death of another 42-year-old young man. This time, it was a family friend. My elder brother’s best friend from school days. He died from a massive heart attack in the middle of a board meeting.

Since then, I can’t help but believe in the futility of postponing happiness, peace and most importantly our fitness to an unseen day.

Today, I no longer believe in living life on a yearly basis. That appears to be too long a time frame to go lax about what we ought to be doing today.

I’ve realised the fruitlessness of always focussing on the bigger picture. Living my 24 hours laden with uncertainty has taught me to value the goodness of everyday life.

The word of the year that I’d chosen for 2018 doesn’t seem to mean much now.

Afterall, all we have in our control, is today, just now.

Today, I am working on adding more meaning, more value to my everyday.

Today, I want to do all that I have been putting off for a very long time.

This is why I am going to be working hard to capture this realization, this new-found peace and my journey of attaining it in words before the motivation fizzles out.

I have also decided to go ahead and put into action the one wish I have had from the first year of this blog.

To write emails to everyone who has touched my life through this blog in one way or the other. To express my gratitude to those with whom I have lost touch owing to them stopping to blog or me not finding enough time to read their blogs. To be in touch with those who’d love a one-on-one personal connect with me through emails.

This whole idea came to me seeing the sheer number of emails I receive from people who have never left a comment on the blog or made their presence felt in any other way.

Every relationship needs time and care but above all, it asks for the people to stay in touch, regularly. That’s exactly what I am going to do via my newsletter.

Besides, I love writing emails and have subscriptions to many newsletters for my love for reading emails.

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Before I put this into action, I wish to take consent.

I have no intentions of spamming anyone with emails.

Flaunt your awesomeness and sign up for my newsletter by simply filling the sign up form.

I’m sure you’re wondering what are the emails going to be about?

 

You can find answers to all your queries in the Newsletter FAQs.

In short, I can assure you it’s going to be much more than what I share on my blog. It will have snippets of my personal diary (that I don’t really share on the blog) and loads of positive vibes that keep me going and would hopefully enrich your life too.

The best part is, you can unsubscribe anytime.

Yup! no questions asked.

Are you ready to make room for my emails in your inbox?

Then, add theerailivedin@gmail.com to your contacts and simply sign up right now!

I promise to send out this newsletter even if only one person subscribes to it. Every reader is precious and I value the consent and privacy of all my subscribers.

The song on my mind: Kal Ho Na Ho (Title track)

A walk in the dark

A few days ago, when Pari’s school reopened to summer time schedule, I was left with no choice but to skip my morning walk. Though the school bus arrives at 8 am, getting my 5-year-old up, fed, bathed, dressed and more can surprisingly take more than 60 minutes. Often 90 minutes, as in our case.

Not going for the morning walk on the day school reopened, didn’t bother me much. The second day, though I felt a strong urge to go for a quick run if not the hour-long walk. But couldn’t. Another day passed with me contemplating if it really mattered if I didn’t go for the morning walk, if I somehow squeezed in the exercise at other times of the day, in another form.

Early morning Walk

That was when my mind and body had had enough. The following day, I got my answers in a way I had least expected. My morning was rushed like any other school morning but the day was crazy busy with unexpected guests, a dust storm to add to the cleaning and my mind all over the place because I had the pile of unfinished work.

On any other day, I might be agitated for a few minutes but would regain my calm with some positive thinking or deep breathing.  This was not one of those days. I could feel negativity take control of my being. The impending, sinking feeling was making my neck and shoulders sore. I couldn’t help but feel, I was stuck in a rut. This was just the tip of the iceberg that poked me while kneading the dough in preparation to roll out 60+ rotis.

Tears disobediently rolled down my cheeks. My frayed nerves were dancing to their tunes. In a failing effort to regain my composure, I rushed to the washroom and splashed water on my face.

Later, my mom too tried to help me calm down with her ‘I know you can do it’ talk. As expected it only added fuel to fire. The rest of the day  I was too busy to slow down my pace, but the time bomb ticking in my head refused to go on snooze. I spent a disturbed night, waking many times. Finally at 4:30 am, I got up, took out my gratitude journal hoping to make sense by reading what I had to say.

Strangely though, I couldn’t scribble more than ten words. Neither the morning chill nor the sleep deprivation could succeed in calming me down. At 5:10 I peeked out of the window. It’s was pitch dark, not a soul in sight, only an occasional bark rang in the background with the street lamps glowing at full voltage.

I wanted to go out, run as fast as I could, till I was breathless, till the pounding thoughts in my mind had no more oxygen to feed them. A quick time math told me, if I stepped out at this early hour, I should be back in time to wake Pari for school. But the dark scared me. Suddenly safety concerns replaced the depressive thoughts looming large in my mind for over 24 hours.

I also considered investing the cool, quiet, morning hours in getting my pending work done.

Finally, at 5:14, I got up, changed into my track suit, fastened my shoe laces and stepped out of the house. The bang of the main gate brought back the incapacitating fear in a flash. I could feel my steps get unsteady, I wanted to take the safest route, but wasn’t too sure if I felt safe anywhere outside my house.

Since I was already 200 meters away from home, I decided to keep going.  As I tread along, I spotted a middle-aged man jogging. Never before had I felt so relieved to see another human being jog, albeit at a considerable distance from me. Destiny read my thoughts and chose to play another prank, just then the street lights went off. I kept moving at the same pace, though my mind was constantly telling me to turn and run homewards.

My train of thoughts was interrupted by a blaring horn of the state roadways bus that stopped 50 meters ahead of me and delivered a flock of hustling souls, who injected me with hope for I was no longer the only girl under the fading stars in the cerulean sky.

I’m confident; my heart rate was at an all-time high, not cause of exertion but fear. I glanced at my wrist watch. It was 5:35 am and I was almost halfway. Just when a speeding car raced by disturbing the still air.

Never before had I wished for dawn with such earnestness, I looked up at the lightening sky to be knocked by a familiar scent. I looked around desperately. Just when I spotted bunches of blooming, green, brush flowers.

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Memories of my childhood days when I’d go for walks with my father and pet dogs in the dark summer mornings came flooding, with the reassuring warmth that I’d taken this route, all my life. I’d be okay.  This consolation charged me enough to be back home in 40 minutes as compared to the usual 55 minutes I usually take.

The rest of the morning and the day went past like the local trains race on the same, dictated pace, every day. However, I was strangely calmer, poised, brimming with optimism and best of all, couldn’t feel any heaviness or pain in my neck and shoulders.

There has been no stopping me since. Winning over my fear of the dark, armed with the confidence that I can achieve what I set my heart to, I spring out of my bed every morning, hoping to meet my childhood self in the memories that the fragrance of the brush flowers replay as I tread along the path of my well-being.

I’m determined to never again question the importance of my morning walk routine or to dare to alter it on the pretext of allotting this time to any other seemingly important task.

The Song on my mind: Iktara ~ Wake Up Sid

Picture Credit: Flickr

A new start I chose to make before the New Year

I do not believe in making New Year Resolutions. This has been the case all my life. It’s not that I do not value the power of starting with renewed zest or hesitate from taking up challenges that could change the course of my life. Instead, I believe that if I have to start something new, I must begin today and not wait for a (perceived) auspicious occasion to do so.

The year 2016 found me writing more openly about battling depression and reading in plenty to arm myself with enough know-how to fight depression with all my might. In this battle, though I had regular exercise on my side, I was practicing meditation only in bits and pieces. Adding deliberate gratitude to this cocktail helped change my perception of life but something was still amiss.

My real issue had been working from home. Doing it all at home (including workout) meant I was confining my mind, my being, to the four walls. This confinement wasn’t letting me break-free in ways I yearned to. Though I often step out of home to run errands, go shopping for grocery and leisure but those outings weren’t being kind to my stressed mind.

The final straw in my desperation to calm my system down to attain permanency in my new-found peace with my child came with the understanding that if I add a change of scene for myself on a regular basis I’ll be able to break free from the clutches of monotony. I’ll be free from the vicious circle of thinking the same thoughts day in and day out.

This thought struck me on a Sunday night and the following Monday saw me do something I had not done in quite some time.

Go outside for a brisk, long walk.

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Day one felt energizing. I wanted to test waters without tiring myself unnecessarily from the start and that’s what I did. Morning walks have been a part of my life from childhood but never before have I felt this strong an urge to embrace them for the sake of my well-being like I did this time.

The New Year was still a good month away, but I did not want to put off my sanity or rather the possibility of feeling good in my own skin, 4 weeks away. The master procrastinator in me didn’t hesitate in presenting a stack of excuses to not stretch my body to another hour of discomfort.To this added the fact that I didn’t have the luxury to hit the road real early with the morning duties of getting the kid ready for school and preparing breakfast.

Morning walk with the sun glaring high up in the sky on a busy road with bustling traffic didn’t paint an appealing picture for me. But, my goal was different. I just wanted a change of scene. I just wanted to step out of the home, on foot.

I wanted to quieten my buzzing mind or to lose the voices in my head in the drumming of my heart in my ears. I wanted to push my mind to soak in the life beyond me, to become the go-getter I was, not very long ago.

It’s been 4 weeks since and I am happy to report, I am beginning to feel the change in my emotional well-being. The hour I spent training my leg muscles to walk faster every day, has helped train my emotional muscle. My mind shuts off the conversations from my daily life the minute I put on my sports shoes. I have come to look at deadlines as non-scary because stress is slowly beginning to look conquerable.

I no longer feel like a robot running through the set routine at a pre-determined pace. I am re-learning to notice life. Moving at its own pace, unaware of the turmoils clouding my mind. Inspiring me to loosen up. Asking me to let go.

I now have a new habit, or rather a revamped old habit that makes me enjoy the familiarity of the faces I meet daily as they race to reach their workplaces. The forever changing traffic scene always leaves a smile on my face because I can see inspiration pay me a visit in ways we’ve never met before.

But there is a stretch of a kilometer or two where I struggle, feel the pain and wish to take a shortcut back home. But I resist. I keep muttering to myself, “Keep going, keep going.” Instead of trying to escape the strain I try to reassure myself that pushing through is courage and it is for my good.

I am aware that it is too early to comment on my progress. I am yet to strike a balance between my weight training and morning walk schedule, but I’m loving the new-found grasp on my life. The many insightful scenes crossing my path in the precious moments I spare for myself every morning, make me feel alive and awesome.

The song on my mind: Chalte Chalte ~ Chalte Chalte (1976)