Subscribe To The “Unsubscribe”?

We live in the age of information overload. In fact I’m sure many of us have information anxiety attacks – “I don’t know enough, I’ll be left behind if I don’t keep up with the 4,000 websites that I must read, that guy/gal in the office is better informed so I must catch up, I won’t be considered smart enough if I didn’t know what the latest Android version was, I must have all the answers on the tip of my tongue because that’s my assured path to nirvana” – and we’ve forgotten how to wind down. Getting wound up is easy. :).

Up until a few months ago I was reading articles and blogs and consuming information on the internet voraciously. I don’t regret it at all. A lot of the stuff that I came upon am thankful for and I thank my innate and intrinsic curiosity for giving me the appetite to consume information. I subscribed to newsletters left, right and centre. Seth Godin, Neil Patel, James Clear, Jonathan Fields, Marie Forleo, Terri Cole, Change Blog, Accidental Creative, Tara Mohr, Mind, Body, Green, Positively Positive, Fast Company, Brain Pickings, James Altucher and so on. I was reading most of the emails regularly. Then came a time where I couldn’t keep pace. Work, other hobbies and interests and the daily routine of life took over. I do have a habit of keeping my InBox “Read” and clean and usually have no “pending” emails to be read or answered. But when the subscriptions became overwhelming and the InBox usually had “129 Unread” under Primary, “44 Unread” under Updates, “98 Unread” under Promotions, I knew that just deleting emails was not getting me anywhere. My list of “unreads” were just getting longer and I was beginning to feel the pressure and my mind was tending to worry and get distressed.
Just seeing the sheer number of emails piling up every single day, I was straining at the bit and wanted to be free of this leash.

Come New Year and I decided to just get rid of all the emails I hadn’t read. I knew I wouldn’t if I hadn’t in over 3 months, there was no point in letting it occupy InBox real estate. There was no RoI in that. And I unsubscribed to quite a few newsletters.
What did I do instead? I just started taking time out whenever possible to go to those individual websites and read the blogs and articles directly. Subscriptions weren’t really essential and they clogged up free passage of thought, just like clogged pores. I must confess though, that even today I am still subscribed to Seth Godin and many others. They’re beginning to tire me out. They are prolific, they’re smart, and blogging is part of their business and it generates revenue in some form or the other. They’ve got a following, they’re cross-selling and promoting people or businesses through their blogs, their own books of course, their workshops, their speaking assignments and so on.

My life isn’t Seth Godin’s or James Altucher’s. I ain’t like them, and that’s why I have 50 followers, no comments and no search engine rankings. I might write for eons and decades and have only 50 or 40 or 30 or no followers at all. I write because I like to.
Of course having more of an audience would boost my ego, but I have no fantastical insights and wisdom and genius to generously throw at those who read – unlike these geniuses. I do write for a living, which is content writing , marketing content writing and I have to hustle for work and literally mind my own business. I don’t have the acumen or the financial wherewithal to have virtual assistants like Marie Forleo does. Granted she didn’t build her Rome in day. But the point is I’m not them. I don’t have it in me to give that kind of time to blogging or starting some kind of online fan club and spin out multi-million dollar businesses such as Marie Forleo’s B-school and get a dose of Daily Love or “consulting gigs” on how to get 1,000 followers in 100 days and so on. At the end of it all what I’ve realised is this:-

a) everyone, every single one of us is selling something – if not a tangible product or service, perhaps an idea, even if it’s the idea of God or goodness or religion. I’m selling my writing ability, some inherent insights. Why? Because we all want to be appreciated and recognised and acknowledged and hailed as the “next big” phenomenon and ride the wave to success. Perhaps we think it will liberate us and take us to a place that we don’t know but have dreamed of where the paparazzi loves us and money is flowing like manna from heaven and we’re good and great at the same time. Really? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the purpose of us all being human. I’d say, read, learn and subscribe to smartness, unsubscribe from trying to do exactly as “they” say. Chart your own path and learn along the way.

b) each of us has our own path, our own blueprint of life. Hence I can’t be like Oprah or Ellen Degeneres or Miss Universe or Marie Curie or Helen of Troy or Michelle Obama or Angela Merkel or Christine Lagarde or Serena Williams or Brene Brown. Hell, I can’t even be like my own mother. I should find my own level and revel in my own uniqueness. And the entire search is perhaps our purpose. Or is the search our eternal curse of being human and dissatisfied with the One Life we have to live? Hmmm…there’s a thought.
And pray tell me, why should I be yet another Oprah? She’s one in a billion and once you’ve experienced a phenomenon, why would you want to experience it again? Same is boring no? Explore, discover and subscribe to your unique soul music, unsubscribe from playing someone else’s harmony.

c) it’s great to read and learn from these people’s experiences. But hey, you know what?! You ain’t gonna achieve nothin’ honey if you ain’t gonna get your butt off your couch and DO something about it. No wonder my butt got so big, for I’ve been sitting on it for so long, I forgot what it means to actually get something done. I love slurping over all the feel good positively positive, “how to keep your relationship going even after 50 years”, “how to forgive and see your life change”, “how to boost traffic on your website in 5 days”, “how to design a life without regrets” kind of articles. But they’re someone else’s ideas and while they’re to be respected for their intrinsic value, it’s time to cherish what you bring to the table. You.So unsubscribe from other people’s  opinions, subscribe to your own experiences.

Someone somewhere said Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. Time to make plans for your life, do your thing, write your song, create your imprint, leave your footprint, dance to your own tune, wear your own hair, revel in your own skin, clap your hands in joy at your own face and feel the power of being you, just you.
Whole, gorgeous and enough. Look in the mirror and smile back at the twinkling eyes and the lopsided smile and the crooked tooth or the pimple-scarred skin or the bulbous nose or the bald head or the fat thighs. They don’t matter. What matters is who you are not what you see. What matters is what you feel.

Right now give yourself a hug. Feel the adrenaline. It may work, it may not. If it doesn’t, unsubscribe from the lesson.Unsubscribe from comparison, apathy and a cluttered InBox.  Subscribe to your dreams. Subscribe to your life. Subscribe to the gift that you are. Because life is more than just signing into subscriptions. Right?

 

Tennis Life Lessons!

Serena

“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”
                                                           Serena Williams

I love tennis. I love some of the players who play the game too. I’m from the John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg era and I remember their Wimbledon finals as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Steffi Graf is my all-time favourite female tennis player. She was an epitome of beauty and elegance and grace and power. I loved Pete Sampras too. Till Roger Federer came along. Today, he’s really the God of tennis for me. I’m okay about Rafa and Nole (Djokovic), but Federer is a class apart. I don’t really have too many women tennis players that I like in this era, not the kind of love that I had for Steffi Graf, no.
However, when I think of Serena and her power, the quality of play, her sheer determination, I think she’s really worthy of admiration, awe and respect, and she deserves a bow.  

So anyway as I was watching Maria Sharapova play, a player that I don’t really care too much about, 4-1 down in the 3rd set of her 2nd round match at the 2015 Australian Open, she suddenly turned it around and I saw her claw her way back from almost certain defeat to 4-2, 4-3 and finally she won the match. It struck me then that tennis is life and life is tennis. Why? When I watched this woman play, I kept wondering what she was feeling, how she motivated herself, why didn’t she feel like giving up and how she could overcome her challenges and eventually emerge as the winner. While I don’t really know how champions psyche themselves up to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, what I do know is that tennis does teach us some important life lessons.

The tennis court is actually the court of life. We are the players. The singles matches are actually our life matches and the opponents are actually our challenges. When we hit an ace, it means we have actually hit a bull’s eye and come up roses on our idea. When it’s deuce, it means that we are even Stevens and are standing tall, but are trying to break through to the next game that life throws us. Games are the games that life hands out to us right from the time we’re born – learning to walk, talk, act, think, and be an adult and live a fulfilled life – for us to learn the rules, play the game to the best of our ability and emerge triumphant. Sets are the various stages of our life – childhood, adolescence, teenage years, adult hood, marriage, family, death and so on – that we embrace. When it’s a straight sets win it really means that our life has been pretty straightforward, where we’ve worked hard, played hard and won. But when it’s a 5-set thriller, it means that our lives are tossed and turned in the angry winds of change and challenge, and if we win, it means we’ve achieved success in overcoming difficulties and cocking a snook at life. The tie-breaker for me means that two people who’ve been handed the same hand by the Universe are competing to make good and only the more resilient, the determined, the risk-taker stands tall. They are not crushed by blips that come to occupy the radar of our lives and are ready to not just fight, but triumph against all odds.

And then when defeat is writ large and is certain, the player who succeeds is the one who looks trials and tribulations in the eye, says, “show me what you got”, hunches down to take the blows, readies the racket to punch the balls of depression, anger, frustration, poverty, disappointment, heart break, and hits the ball out of the park. It is when the player looks deep within himself or herself and says, ” I love you like no other. I love you so much it hurts. I believe in you. But for God’s sake, you must believe too.” And hangs in however precariously, by the skin of her nails, and looks up at the sky and thinks to herself looking down at near certain death, at the ledge and starts thinking of tactics to land on the ledge. She takes a leap of faith and lands on the ledge and then looks for another foot hold, another ledge, another way. She doesn’t give up. Inch by inch she makes her way down to safety and warmth and happiness. She’s as ordinary as you and I, but she’s extraordinary with her belief, her grit, the fight that she has in her and the loud yelp she gives of victory. There’s nothing meek about the tennis player. She uses her racket to whack the living daylights out of those that threaten her belief in herself, those who want to beat her up and call her a ‘loser’, or those who want to crush her spirit. No siree, she’s a player who’s come to play. Yes, life is tennis and tennis is life. And when it’s “love all” it really means one thing and one thing only – love everything about the beautiful life you have.

Now when I will see Sharapova or Serena Williams play, I will continue to admire their grit, their sheer willingness to draw themselves over the finish line come what may. They don’t give up. They just take small steps and then think about the next point. And the next, and the next. All we gotta do is play the next point. And the next and the next. Life will continue to unfurl its magic as we keep playing to earn our rightful place in the sun. Game, set, match.

The 4th Decade of Life!

Mmm...birthday cake

Happy birthday cake in technicolour!



It’s my birthday today and well I’m in my 4th decade of life. It’s been a day full of receiving wonderful gifts from loved ones, a day when my friends from all over the world have called and texted and messaged and I feel truly and wonderfully special.

Beautiful gift box!

Gifts, gifts, glorious gifts!

Today, when I look back at the times when I didn’t have some of my best friends call me on my birthday and how awful and despondent and disappointed I would feel, I feel like I’ve come of age :). When I think back to when I would count all the friends who called me or wished me and mentally tick them off the “list”, I feel like going “awww, come on, really?” When I think of how bereft I would feel just because I didn’t have surprise parties being thrown for me or a group of friends creating a ruckus and throwing me a party, I think to myself, ‘what’s with you girl? grow up!”. But if I didn’t think like this in the 4th decade of my life, God I haven’t lived then have I? It would be a sad day indeed if I haven’t evolved yet, grown up, matured, learnt to deal with the focused conditioning of the mind with “Hallmark” moments of joy and laughter, and realised that we are a product of what we allow ourselves to believe and absorb. Our minds are like sponges and we are so eager to please and be acknowledged that if we think that cake cutting is how birthdays are to be celebrated then we accept it as the last word on happiness on a birthday. If big huge bouquets of flowers, hordes of people clamouring to take you out to lunch or dinner, parties, fantastic gifts beautifully wrapped, are the signs that you’ve arrived in life or are really loved and popular, we accept it as the norm.

Confetti and party!

Birthday party

For the longest time I would crave all of those things. Today in my 4th decade, I am happy with my loved friends, my inner circle, my family remembering me and wishing me on my birthday. That’s all I really care about. The rest of the paraphernalia is just that, paraphernalia. We get so sucked into this whole “idea” of what things should be, how our lives should “look” from the outside that we really forget to get in touch with who we are and what we really should look for when we seek happiness.

I think it was Confucius who said, “happiness is an inside job.” Man, he sure knew what he was talking about. After all when you think of the love your friends and family shower on you, people who really care, it’s so easy to really sift the grain from the chaff. There may be occasions when friends forget, there may be friends who remember, there may be friends you want to forget and there may be friends who want to forget you. Does any of it matter? Life is all about the warp and weft of relationships which form an intricate and beautiful pattern on your heart and soul. The ones that are woven with a strong bond last many lifetimes, the ones that are based on mere superficialities, well, does one need to even worry about them? And then there are those which serve a specific purpose in life at a very specific time in your life. These are all the tides of life, cresting and troughing…up and down, high and low, big and small.

But when you break it all down, you find that the love of yourself for yourself is the single most important gift that you can give yourself. And if you have even one human being who loves you unconditionally (well, for all practical purposes, because unconditional love is a myth), you are truly blessed and you have well and truly arrived. Because all you need is love, love is all you need.

 

Stressing can become habitual too!

 

Practice in Glory

Glorious Or Unglorious

 

Discipline. I’ve written about that here. It helps for sure. What I am trying to do is to cultivate habits that I want to. I’m trying to take baby steps and only going for incremental change. But, but, but, what I’ve noticed is that it’s winding me up, stressing me out and I feel breathless. Yes, of course I want to feel breathless, but with joy, not with anxiety. However I’m in a conundrum with some of the habits – take my learning to play the guitar as an example. If I don’t practice what I learn everyday, it’s not going to serve me well is it? Ditto with drawing or running or journaling. So I’m not sure what to do really. I’m trying to carve out time to do a little of everything every day. This is over and above the work I do and being a solopreneur (solo entrepreneur) it’s tough going considering you’ve got to be the ball boy and CEO of your story. So what do I do? Should I just take one practice, one habit and do it for a month till it becomes effortless like Leo Babauta says? But then what about the guitar and the drawing and the running, etc.?

I need help here. I don’t want to feel run down and run to the ground. I want to feel elevated. Life is about packing in as much as you can, after YOLO right? Suggestions anyone?