Shame, shame! Who me? Yes you!

First off! Brene Brown salut! 

You’re a genius. You’re a wholehearted, wonderful, insightful, genuine, authentic, articulate, creative, empathetic being. Dare I say more? Jesus, someone may think am plugging you shamelessly in pursuit of some hidden agenda (getting my blog noticed for one)! Off with your heads all ye who think shameful thoughts! Oh Lord! That’d mean that the entire planet would become headless because everyone bar none thinks shameful thoughts. How do I know? I did Brene Brown’s e-course yeah! Did you? Well, shame on you! Just kidding y’all (this is BB’s favourite term, y’all, not you all, ye all, but y’all). Am just tripping on ‘shame’ right now!

Anyway, this post isn’t going to be all gush-gush about Brene Brown and her course and what I learnt or didn’t and so on. However, I would urge y’all (wink!) to read her book/s, especially ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. I loved it. Everytime I read something that resonated with me, I’d go nodding my head, ‘Yeah, she’s so right!’ and that would be every 2 minutes :). It’s amazing really about how conditioned we are into thinking that we’re not worth it. That if:
we don’t do or behave or perform or achieve or say or plan or become or feel the way we ought to, as proscribed by those omniscient beings, who wield a circle of influence in our growing years (could be anyone, not just parents), we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. This ridiculous notion has had some seriously debilitating consequences on our psyche, and I know I’m paying for it still because I bought into that silly idea just like y’all. Why? And why in the name of God didn’t we open our f&^$@#ng mouths and scream and yell and rave and rant saying ‘I don’t want to feel this way?’ Ooops! We did, just that when that happened I guess we were called neurotic or paranoid or just plain mad. Thankfully, this deep, insatiable hunger to throw off our shackles of conformity (in a good sense) and find ourselves, yes, just plain find out who the hell we truly are, has gained so much momentum that well, I’m just lovin’ it baby! Thank you conformists. If it weren’t for your rigid outlook and if it weren’t for our inherent restlessness to just be, however anachronistic that may sound, for to just be harks back to stillness, we wouldn’t have the likes of the wonderful and heart-full and soul-full Brene Brown talk to us of ‘shame’ and owning our story.

When I wrote Fears, Mine – 1  and Fears, Mine – 2 last month, little did I realise that what I was actually doing was naming my ‘shame triggers’. So now you know that my entire life and self-worth is hinged upon how I look and what others think of me. I feel so small right now, I could cry. But Brene Brown, I tip my hat to you, you taught me, through some very creative exercises called ‘art journaling’ that I’m enough. Like Sark (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) had said in one of her wonderfully illustrated books, ‘I am enough’! I remember this because a colleague of mine called Kunal, back in my advertising agency days had mentioned Sark, during one of my ‘deep dark and lonely’ moments and I’d gone looking for Sark in bookstores and couldn’t find it and I finally ordered it on Amazon, back in the day when the Rupee was much stronger and the dollar wasn’t so forbidding and prohibitive as it is today! Be that as it may, the point is, shame is a powerful, fearful, deeply prohibitive and shackling word, a word that can freeze you in a nano-second making you forget all your meditation and the scrupulous and arduous ‘inner work’ you’ve been doing for months. For shame is nothing but the absence of self-worth, and the presence of fear tormenting one’s soul till you die with an eternal sneer on your lips, deep regret in your heart and unquenchable thirst in your soul. Well, I could ramble on about what it is and what it isn’t. It may resonate or may not resonate with you. What I’d like to do however, is to leave you with these wonderful sentiments as expressed by none other than the magnificent and truly wonderful and creative human being – Brene Brown!

Take care of yourselves till next week when I’ll be back with more chronicles. But hey, don’t forget to share, for sharing is caring! Have a super duper weekend, promise me, no crying! Love y’all!

Creativity Lives In All Of Us

I shall not suffocate. I shall continue to express and articulate and create.

I am a creative being!

Creativity lives in all of us

What's the greater risk?

Let go. Let go. Let go. Is that such a risk?

Contribute more than you criticize

What would you like to be remembered for? The one with the acerbic tongue or the one with the warm, generous, loving heart?

Don't run from the truth!

Truth is here, it’s going nowhere. Why run from it?

Stillness speaks. Stillness rules.

Think. Dream. Feel. Question. It ain’t that hard you know?!

Perfectionism be damned! Be yourself!

What would you rather be? Perfectly fearful or imperfectly daring?! You choose!

Let Go of Cool! I'm me and that's cool!

Would you want to be called a traitor? That too a traitor of yourself to yourself by yourself? Never ever ever!

I am superwoman!

I found my superpower. Curiosity and Passion! Now I’ve got to own it.

Own Your Story!

My story matters to me. You bet! I matter to me.

The Walk Of Life!

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
Friedrich Nietzsche

 

I go for a walk as often as I can. The alarm on my cell phone tears into my ear drums at precisely 5.15 am. It’s been set to shake me up from my dream state for months now. It gives me the satisfaction of waking up early, sliding the darned thing to silence (yes in these ‘smartphones’ everything’s a slide now), and going back to the land of nod even if it’s only for a few extra minutes. I finally rouse myself around half an hour later, sometimes it’s even an hour later, drag my track pants on, brush (more often than not I brush my teeth after the walk, I know, I know Egads! but I don’t care, it’s not like am getting up for a passionate lip-lock or anything right?) or not, select the podcast that I’m going to listen to during my walk, lace up my shoes and am out of the house. It’s a wonderful feeling actually. I wonder then why I don’t do it more often. That’s something to probe – if it gives me pleasure, then why don’t I practice it more? I think I am lazy. I don’t think there’s any getting away from it :)). Well sorry to digress. Where was I? Out the door and the feeling of embracing the day bright and early and all amped up. Yoo hoo day, here I come!

I listen to a podcast usually by Srinivas Rao of the Unmistakable Creative or by Lewis Howes. I like the people they interview and I like their interviewing skills and I like what their insanely inspiring guests have to say. So while that’s running in my ear, I’m also looking at the trees and the flowers and the grass and the hedges around the gardens and everything green in the driveway around our apartment complex, smiling at the many regulars who also go about their daily ritual of walking, at the neighbours who play badminton in the grounds out at the front and so on. So while doing my thing the other day, I realised some crazy but helpful lessons that I could learn from, from my daily perambulations. I’d love to share them with you, let me know if it resonates with you at all :). Here goes:

a) Don’t keep count – I have a habit of keeping count of the number of rounds I complete in the given time frame that I’ve set myself – 50/55/60 mins and 10 or 11 rounds mostly. I realised recently that I’ve slowed down a little, yes, my pace of walking has slowed down by say 2 mins overall. Am sure for world-class athletes that’d simply mean – RETIRE! For me it simply means “Renu, you’ve grown older and you’re body’s slowing down!”. However, I realised what’s the point of thinking about fast, slow, age, retire, number of rounds, time, etc. I am walking. Why not be fully present in and to the act of walking? Just enjoy it. Why keep count? It doesn’t serve a purpose right? Like it doesn’t serve any purpose to:

  1. Keep count of the number of emails you receive in a day or the number of unread emails looking darkly at you from your InBox.
  2. Keep count of the number of times your parents have forgotten to make that to-do list and purchase those items from the grocery store (it could be your lover/ spouse/ children/ room mate/ friend with benefit, etc.). Does it matter?
  3. Keep count of the number of times your friends have gone on a vacation abroad.
  4. Keep count of the number of times your colleague has changed his/her car in the last 5 years.
  5. Keep count of the number of ‘likes’ someone you know gets on FB.
  6. Keep count of the number of friends anyone has – having 999 friends doesn’t mean shit – on FB or other social media. Ask the person to list down the 999 by name in alphabetical order and I can guarantee you that by the time he/she’s on 85 it starts getting difficult and the person will start blowing air and puffing his cheeks like a toad.
  7. Keep count of the number of designer clothes or shoes or bags or whatever else is ‘designer’ nowadays that anyone you know possesses. Gucci, Pucci,Choo who?
  8. Keep count of the number of promotions  and salary raises or client wins or fantastic breakthroughs someone you know has had. So what does it do for you if they have had the breakthrough? If it can inspire you to do your best and put your ass through the grind, to try and achieve the results you’re hankering for, sure, go ahead make it count.
  9. Keep count of the number of men/ women who’ve come and gone from your life. It wasn’t meant to be. Or just be happy for the enriching experience. After all how many of your friends would be able to proudly state that they’ve dated 20/25 men / women in their lifetime? Enjoy the moment, be unapologetically you in every encounter and live the experience.
  10. Keep count of the number of degrees your friend’s son acquired over the years and squirm with shame at the (unfair??) comparison with your child. Should labels and degrees matter?

b) Acknowledge your co-journeyer – Yes, journeyer isn’t even a word. But hell if YOLO (You Only Live Once) almost made it to the Oxford lexicon, then maybe journeyer can also be a legitimate contender. So what do I mean by this eh? See, we’re all on the journey of life. There are a ton of other souls who are journeying with you and it’s no big deal to smile at them along the way. Life is no fun when soul mates aren’t there along the way to smile at, greet, thank, learn from or be inspired by. Competition, comparison, envy, maybe the go-to terms in the Ivy League colleges of the world intended to keep you in the rat race like hamsters on a wheel, let’s acknowledge them but not bury ourselves in them on our walk of life shall we?

c) Look up, look down, look all around, notice – While you acknowledge your co-, journeyers, take a moment to look up at the sky, the birds if there are, the fluffy white clouds, simply breathtaking sight of the plume of fuelled smoke that a plane 30,000 feet above farts away to glory, the tops of trees swaying in the breeze, the hedges of shrubs protecting the turf around which they’ve been arrayed, the different shades of green, the flowers that have sacrificed their lives and lay mute on the ground wondering about the next step that’ll trample them to oblivion (or moksha maybe??), the child that stares at you unblinkingly making you wonder if he’s attracted to the halo of energy that you exude, the elderly and their measured walk and the inevitability of ageing, the young and their unbridled enthusiasm, yes notice, notice, notice. Why? Because it means you’re paying attention to life. Your life. And it’s not a blur of ‘to-do’ lists, missed goals, shifting goal posts and emptiness. Life unfolds in every moment, it’s up to us to notice, and live it. There’s so much to live for ain’t it?

d) Piece of shit doesn’t a walk mar – Yup. Shit happens. We shit bricks. Dogs shit. Everyone poops. The shit hits the roof. Your job is to notice that shit (refer point (c) above) and deftly by-pass it. Notice if you must without being squeamish, that it looks brown and beige in colour perhaps, maybe lumpy, loose, and smells like?Mmmm….shit?! Bypass it and leave it behind. Getting the shit out of your system is the best thing you can ever do,or else it can cause the toxins to build up and eventually who knows, you would have to undergo painful enema. Ye gods! Why go through such pain when all you have to do is notice it, recognise that it’s shit, sometimes acknowledge shit’s presence, maybe even smell shit from afar and realise that something ugly, messy, shitty is about to hit the roof. And in the ultimate shitty analysis also remember that shit gets wiped out / trampled upon/ bites the dust/ washed away/ obliterated as it eventually will. Let it go.

If I were to summarise the above 4 lessons I’d say this: don’t be too attached to the outcome of your journey, just ensure that you’re wholeheartedly, soul-fully, immersed in that moment, in that journey, acknowledging those who’re there behind, ahead of or around you, being grateful for their presence in your life, step with confidence, one foot in front of the other, so what if you do step into shit once-in-a-while, it will eventually get ground to dust belittling its own significance, be thankful for the bounties of this wonderful, magical, delightful, mystical absolutely gorgeous and abundant Universe and finally being grateful that you’re an integral and unique part of the warp and weft of the pattern called Life. 

That’s what life is all about. It doesn’t matter where you’re going honestly, because when you’re walking many paths open up, yours for the taking, leaving you with choices and opportunities, beckoning you to be adventurous, seducing you with promising bounties and wondrous experiences along the way. Walking is life my friends, wouldn’t you agree? I urge you – keep walking!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=087Bv3p4KLQ

(God knows I love Mark Knopfler!)

 

 

Write when your heart is so full…

…that you can’t help but share.

You know for the longest time I’ve been reading about all these ‘life enhancement’ gurus and experts, entrepreneurs who’ve made it big in the online or offline world, I’ve been listening to podcasts and interviews by Marie Forleo and Srinivas Rao,  Chase Jarvis and Lewis Howes and they’ve become a part of my almost daily routine (till I decide to go off the deep end or something, and my routine goes for a walk, like now 🙂 ). The people that these people interview or talk about make me believe that I can be anything and can do it, whatever ‘it’ is. It’s a feel-good, for sure and it can inspire you to a degree, but hey, you’ve got to do all the work. So I promise myself that I will and I do. Upto a point, till I fall off the grid. You see, I write my journals, I make my ‘to-do’ lists, I promise myself that I will:

a) walk, swim, do yoga, run, meditate – everyday. Then I realise that’s not a goal that I can keep, so I make another list and write down the frequency next to each task – thrice a week, four times a week, and so on. Then I realise that even that’s becoming difficult to really adhere to, so I start putting dates on them like 11th May and so on. That’s proving difficult too. I’ve never figured out what makes me stick to goals or not. I’ve asked these questions before and I’m still searching my soul for an answer.

b) blog at least thrice a week and calendarise it so that I get into a routine and that’s a good thing, or so every blogger, online guru, and everyone who is anyone tells you if you’re willing to listen. Routine, practice, discipline are all good things. Uh-huh, nothing really happens. As soon as I actually put my ‘to-do’ list down, I work very hard to break it.

c) Read, be intention-full and be positive. I am to a large extent all of these. I do read. I am full of intention and I am by and large positive. Of course I have my days when I can and do sit and howl and wonder what the hell am I doing with my life and where the hell is it really leading me or am I leading it and so on. The existential ramblings of an idle mind I suppose. Of a middle-aged crisis-ridden, lonely mind to be precise.

d) I am disciplined about work by and large and that thankfully is not something that I take lightly. It’s held me in good stead. But honestly, I don’t take anything I say or do lightly. I am always earnest about my intentions, always. :). (There’s a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon between earnestness of your intentions and acting on them. This is where I’ve always struggled and I perhaps always will).

I don’t know if I’ve realised anything in all these years, to tell you the truth. You know, profoundly moving, interesting or meaningful dictums to lead my life by. I guess we all live our lives to the best of our ability and do the best we can to be good human beings. In fact I do feel sometimes that the more I read about how others have made ‘it’,  having a successful business or life, both professional and personal, deep down in my subconscious I think it makes me feel more and more that it’s totally unachievable. After all, each of us is different and no matter what, I can take inspiration, I can whip myself into a frenzy, but at the end of the day, my circumstances, my personality, my attitude and my mindset are unique and I can try and emulate, but I will fail if I don’t listen to who I am. Because it’s not about trying to replicate something that someone’s done, it’s really about finding your path through the journeys of others. Reading about them helps and perhaps gives you a compass to follow. Then you’re on your own. :). (So who the hell am I dammit?)

I have no clue why I’m writing this. The words are flying off my keyboard and I’m letting them come to life. I’ve been meaning to write for 2 weeks now and I’ve always let it slide past, having enough justifications and excuses not to. Today however, I just finished seeing Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Confession: movies make me cry. Love stories make me cry even more. When I was younger, I used to be very self-conscious about crying at movies, whether in a movie theatre or at home. Today, I can actually cry much more easily at a movie. The movie had some amazing dialogues that you can read on my Interesting Potpourri page or perhaps like me, you can decide to read the book if you haven’t read it already. I am going to.

Anyhow, so here I am, after the movie with tears running down my cheeks thinking about love and true love and how it doesn’t have to always be attainable or have two people living together happily ever after. I guess that’s why happy endings and ‘forever and ever’ and the ride into the sunset in a plume of pink tipped dreams are called  ‘fairy tales’ :).

Everytime I see a movie, especially a romantic movie, I can manage to take any situation in the movie, or a character or even a dialogue and somehow make it mean about me. Do you ever do that? I guess, that’s why there’s such a strong emotional connect to these kinds of movies (for me at least). Anything that can move your heart and touch your soul means there’s something true, good and a deep-seated longing in it.

So yeah, I cried, and I’m still crying. Because like Francesca, I dream of dreams (of love) that perhaps can never be. I wonder like Robert if I can ever have that one moment of certainty that comes but once in a lifetime. I wonder in fact when and if love will ever obey my expectations. It’s still mysterious and so absolute that I find myself asking time after time after time, ‘will I be loved?’

Because at the end of the day when dusk turns into velvety night, and the stars come out all shiny and bright, when the breeze caresses the fronds of trees reaching out to the heavens above, when we turn off our lights and we bid adieu to the day gone by, when we allow our souls to whisper to us through our dreams, when we allow our fears and our loneliness and our desires to play their parts unbridled, when we settle down to wake up to the promise of days brimming with goodness and achievements and purpose and life, all I think we really want at the beginning and end of the day is to love and be loved.

And that is the truth that I keep seeking, I keep looking out for, I keep hoping for, fondly, with an aching heart. It’s the burden of promise that I’m waiting for, to be fulfilled. It seems to me with each passing day that for some of us, we know love, but it’s a mystery and it doesn’t obey our expectations :). And so I will, forever remain a seeker, for I may have known love in many different ways, but not the love that will obey my expectations. Tough luck eh?

So? I don’t know if there’s a connect between what I started out writing and what I’ve ended up sharing. All I wanted to say is, write when your heart is full. Write when you’re moved. Write and share and say and express and articulate and conceptualise when you feel your heart is going to burst with emotions. For then and only then will you really ring true. But the most important lesson of all? Find something to move you every minute of every day. If that’s too hard, find something to move you every day. Because to feel is to live. Is there any other way?