3 things that could put you out of your blue funk!

I’m not an expert at “how to” or self-help. I’m not a therapist either. I’m just an ordinary woman with regular, ordinary bouts of self-worth doubts and hitting nadir on the Self-confidence scale. It happens to me regularly. Well if you were in your mid-40s, single, have a stuttering business, an old mother to take care of, with no expectations of any actual help or support coming from any quarter now or in the near future, all you have is yourself. To whip into shape and make that shift happen so the shit doesn’t hit the roof as it often does.

So when you’re looking at the world with the snot running down your nose, when you look at LinkedIn profiles of super talented, super achievers, when you look at the startup ecosystem of young, raring to go, full of beans youngsters, when you look at superwomen achievers who manage to balance the work, partying, the Hamptons, the children, the Guccis with not-a-hair-out-of-place look, the book signing, the 100,000 advance pre-orders on their books, the “how I got out of depression, or an abusive relationship and today am the CEO of a super successful 100 $ million business”, the cover on Time, or whatever it is that basically defines today’s success, you do wonder what you’ve done with your life no? No? Then let me say cheers to you. Because I’m weak and foolish and stupid and human and flawed and have green-eyed monsters tickling my amygdala and then the snot runs freely, dripping on my wrists as I feel that ugly gremlin called Hopelessness dwarf me. Yikes!

You may have someone to share your fears with. You may have sweet, accommodating friends and relatives with whom you can sip coffee and say, “i hate myself, feel like killing myself”, and get the requisite concern, the shocked eyebrows, the clucking of mother hen and the arms around you and fantastic sage advice. That could help sure. I don’t have the luxury of all of that. Friends are in different geographies and phone chats don’t work. Added to that is the fear that I’d be considered needy, self-centred, self-obsessed and repetitive and boring. People have lives to lead. Not listen to litany of woes. And how much can the distance-comforting really comfort? It does help to talk with them believe you me, but for me I let it pass. I know I have to cope and I do. Red eyes et al, sniffles and hiccups albeit, I manage. For me it’s like a routine matinee show – set time, set place, set drama. Who knows me better than me?

But since I’ve been spending horrendous amounts of hard earned money which isn’t really getting replenished easily, on coaching, some 3 things I’ve learnt that can put you out of your blue funk is:

a) Twist & shout – Shake your entire body. Just get up and shake yourself out of the emotions that have taken hold of you. And focus on your feet. As the brain takes in your feet, it really doesn’t have time to process on the emotions that are nipping at your feet. Aaargh! Get off your a-holes!! Slowly find that your breathing normalises and suddenly that whole visual of the world being T-Rex waiting to rip your innards up, slowly but surely dissipates. The hills are alive with the sound of music…tra la la la la!

b) Pour some sugar on me. Have a car? A bicycle? A motorbike? A ski? A horse? Legs? Great. Get out of the house and grab a dunkin donut or something sweet. Feel the sugar rush. Bite into a jam-filled donut or a chocolate brownie with the chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream meltingly inviting. Lick it up, feel the chocolate moustache around your lips, go on, get your hands messy. And if you don’t feel better at the end of that messy exercise, eat a chilli.

c) Born This Way – look at yourself. This is it. You’re born this way. This is your face, your body, your mind, your life. If you don’t wanna change it, well, no one will honey! So go out there and face the truth. And stop mooning. Take action. Because we really have one life to live and YOLO! Really, truly, madly, badly! So just do it, with or without your Nikes. Take 5 minutes, write 5 lines on what you want to do. And then commit to it. Spoiler alert: I’m still trying this last one out…not easy, blimey!

Yup, get yourself out of a blue funk. It’s time to make the world go rose or pink or violet? Whatever, colour me bad, but for your own sake, don’t feel blue. Say cheese!

Why don’t we say whatever the hell we want?

Actually no. We’re careful, very careful. We’re really watchful. It’s almost like the NSA and Edward Snowden telling us, “hey, watch it, you’re being watched!”. What are we afraid of?

Blog – watch it.
Take for example, writing a blog. The blog is not just about me expressing whatever the hell I feel like is it? I know I could get an audience, I could have a “following” in the thousands and someday before I die and do the right things on social media, get the right blog titles with “10 ways to get a fucking orgasm” (shoot, am going to be spammed by all the viagra selling trolls and porn sites, sick!) or “5 ways to tell your boss you are a fucking ass hole”, or “6 ways to become really rich really fast” or sell the right content, put up the right vine videos or emojis or GIFs or what have you, have a lot of track backs, hyperlinks, follow the right people, you know the whole shebang, I could be a internet millionaire. So can I really say whatever the hell I want to, unless I am Ash Ambirge, or Marie Forleo or Erika Napoletano? No way, come on!!! And even they say only for effect because come on they make a lot of sense, money, and fangirls, and they’re fucking good at it. I’m jealous and bitter and old and a fag and I can’t be like them. Ever!

Drivers – mind it.
Or for that matter when you would really like to thulp the auto driver who is constantly checking you out in the rear view mirror and making your skin crawl, you keep shut and look out the open door and suck in the temptation. You’d like to really smash his head in the same rear view mirror, show him the middle finger and say, “fuck off ass hole”, but what happens is you start thinking about how his bloodied face is going to stalk you in your nightmares, how he’s going to corner you with hoodlums in tow and how you’re going to be molested and how your life is going to be a living hell. You let it go.

Relatives – bite (your tongue) it.
When the uncle is too argumentative at home about matters that really are not significant to life as such, all you want to do is yell, “shut the fuck up”. But you know you can’t do that unless you’re really really drunk and have a really really really painful boil in your anal crack that makes you boil over. I mean who in the name of Hillary Clinton gives a flying fuck if the milkman came at 6.00 am with a pushcart or on a cycle and if he comes everyday like that wearing his galoshes? Or was it raining that particular day and if he was carrying an umbrella (or not) and why the milk packets were all wet? Really? And have a 14 mins. 30 secs argument about it? God, I could die! Well you know what I mean for God’s sake, don’t take umbrage I’m just being sarcy.

Mother/ parent – no way you can say it.
When your mother drives you up the wall with her stubborn rigid nature you want to throw things and say, “go to hell for crying out loud” and maybe you do, but what you really want to say and mean are, “please, please please I beg you, just let me do it my way and I’m sick and tired of you”. But how can one say it? She’s your mother after all, the giver of life, the unerring stalwart with great judgement and wisdom, the supportive, unstinting with her love and understanding kind of role model mommy, how can you bitch about her? And if she’s as old as my mom is, with a penchant for getting everything done just as the thought hits her, well, you can bid your patience, peace and “good-daughter trophy” goodbye.
She’ll dump the clothes in the washing machine just when I’m meditating and all I can do is abandon my meditation there and then and watch her as she sulks like a wounded animal because I’ve had the audacity to rudely yell at her. I could be more compassionate and understanding because poor thing she was tip toeing and opening and shutting doors in the innocent belief that it was soundless. Oh my poor old wonderful, amazing, mother! I’m the villain de piece, woe be me! How dare I!! Poor mom!! Tsk tsk!

Friends – lost it.
So you have a friend who you’ve known for years. Both of you move on in time, age, careers and are still single. You try and keep in touch while she honestly doesn’t bother. Not that you do much either, but you know in your heart that it’s over. You want to write to her and tell her it’s over, as you’re not sure if you have the courage to actually have a conversation about how hurt you are. You end up having conversations in your head and you show off your hurt pride and your crib list and your justification notes and comments and the flourish with which you end it. Whoa! It’s all in the head. But you see, you’re fed up of these “caring, cooing, protective, awestruck”  other friends and how she’s always so busy and how her bosses are so amazing and how she’s so indispensable and how much she has to travel, and how she’s lonely too but she’s got so much grace and she manages it all so well, etc. And then of course there is this whole thing about how we’re so connected and how because of our supposed soul connection the underlying message is, “forgive me, I haven’t or couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch, but hey, you’re there, I’m here, and we have an amazing friendship that transcends time,space, eras, lives, so can we get on with it?” (Gauri, for the record if you’re reading this ain’t about you, and am saying it out loud because I know you sometimes read this blog and you may assume that this rant is about you, so no, rest assured it isn’t, I love you). All I want to do is tell my friend, “listen you fraud, don’t pretend, because I can’t anymore, but am not rocking the boat too much because I’m feeling guilty about not doing enough, but I think you should feel even more so if you cared even an iota for me”. “I’ve had enough and our friendship is long dead and gone and I’m not getting anything out of it nor you am sure, but let’s call it quits shall we?”

Online dates – forget it.
I’ve had my share of online dates. Of course “dating” is not the acceptable term for women my age and generation, though it may be for Gen Y with Tinder or OK Cupid or Match.com or even Ashley Madison ruling the online world. For women like me who’re single, we’re on the lookout for (or supposed to be) men who are eligible grooms, companions, boredom breakers, singledom hackers and so on. When ever I’ve been attracted to a guy, I’ve convinced myself that this is “the guy”. I’ve been desperate, low on self esteem, self-worth and never really said what I’d love to say to them after about 5 emails, 2 phone calls and when they immediately ask me to come on Whatsapp and want an intimate chat and if I don’t, of course I’m the prude and they’re men of the world. Wow! At that moment, all I wanna tell them is, “Swines, can’t get enough of yourselves in the mirror, then why don’t you have a secret ceremony with yourselves and marry your alter ego, why do you need a woman, because it must be such a high to go to bed with someone you love, you?” Or, “just buy an inflatable doll you puffed up prick!” Really, the number of times I’ve felt like screaming and saying “listen I don’t really care about your children or your golf or your cooking skills, you are boring boring boring” but I haven’t, is beyond belief. Now when I look back, I wonder what was I afraid of? Of remaining single all my life? So be it. God saved me from insufferable ego maniacs because I’d have died of insanity, divorced or been accused of murder if I’d actually gotten together with any one of them. I must be insane to actually have thought of making it with any of them. Thank God literally and figuratively for saving me. Shmucks!

Well the list goes on. The guy snoring in the seat next to you in the aircraft, the man who looks at you in the elevator and feels his crotch, or the waitress who pretends you’re invisible, or that neighbour who dumps her little 3-year old pesky brat in your living room while she goes to get a pedicure, or or or..the list is endless.

We just shut up. The words are swallowed hard, the tongue gets bitten, the pride takes a beating, and the anger and frustration is always on the boil. There’s no closure unless of course you burst one day like a volcano and people look at you like you’re bat shit crazy, and you end up alone, loathed, avoided and socially ostracised. While there may be relief for you at that moment, it’s the beginning of the end of life as you knew it.

But think about it. Is life as we know it now, with the constant carousel of energy-sapping, mind-numbing anger towards people who we’ve allowed to get under our skin, hidden behind a veneer of pretence, really worth it? Isn’t honouring oneself more important than being in the good books of those who perhaps don’t count? I am sure there are different yardsticks for people who matter, be it spouses, parents, children, grand children, friends. But let’s face it, even they, every one of them can take you for granted if you let them. In fact it’s the people you care about who hurt you the most. And it’s the people who care about you who’ll stand up and respect you if you tell it like it is. Because while honesty is not the best policy in this 21st century for most things, (that’s the cynic in me), when it comes to honouring yourself vis-a-vis your relationships, it still is. It will give you more than a 100% ROI in the long-term. Go on try it. I might not live long enough to hear you shout Yay!, but I promise you, as I discover it for myself, that it’s the only way. Say it like it is, if it matters to you. Or you’ll never be heard. Only herded. You choose.


How much we take for granted!

Take for grantedLife is like a game of chess. We are constantly trying to outwit nature as we make our killer moves. We have such grandiose plans of “making it big”, “living with purpose”, “doing something useful”, “giving back to society” or whatever plan we come up with. We are so desperate to make a life based on our conditioning, our definitions, social mores, cultures and what not, to give our lives meaning.

But when you really really sit down to think of it, life is nothing but the dots that connect one human being to another and everything that transpires in the lifetime of that connection and the journey of that dot from one to another.

I realised all this because of something unexpected that happened. Just a week ago, well almost, my youngest maternal aunt contracted dengue. She collapsed at the General Practitioner’s clinic, my uncle rushed her to the hospital and we all rushed as family to provide the necessary support. We gave our time, physical help, moral support, food, kept watch over her and prayed. During the course of this episode in my life I saw something unfold. It was like a story being woven out of the cocoon of a life that had taken ill. As a niece, sister, husband, daughter or son, I saw how all these varied and multiple relationships take on a different hue when something sudden, unexpected and disturbing and drastic happens to our loved ones. We are shaken to the core. Life as we know it stops for a heartbeat, a heartbeat that’s longer than a lifetime. Between one inhale and exhale our lives come to a standstill. We pray for health, we think of life without that loved one, we face fear of regret and are afraid to confront the truth of our lives and holding on by a tenuous thread. Yet when the Earth is firm beneath our feet, we live life without a care in the world about the people we care about. They’re there, we’re there, and everything in life will continue forever. It’s like wearing stilletoes for 25 years believing that varicose veins will never compel us to discard them heels. Hah!

What do we go through when news of some imminent danger hits our emotional antennae?
For the son who is tens of thousands of miles away, there is worry, there is hope, there is prayer, there is a certain detachment(perhaps) as it’s the sheer distance that makes danger seem not so profound or fatal. “Everything will be fine” is perhaps the underlying mantra.
For the husband, he’s worried about how life will continue. Who will feed, clean, take care of all the nitty gritties? “Will everything be fine” is his underlying query.
For the daughter away on work in another city, the sheer paranoia perhaps mixed with hours, days, weeks, months and years of piling on the stress of her slightly dysfunctional life and the hidden guilt (my assumption here of course)  creates a tsunami of emotions that unleashes itself in the form of heart wrenching sobs when she sees her mother.”God I want everything to be fine” is her underlying hope. Relief, guilt, fear, anger, hope – it’s like a Molotov cocktail, fiery and dangerous.
For the sisters, there’s genuine worry and fear and offering of prayer that all will be well.”Hope everything will be fine” is their underlying emotion.
For the niece, it’s about pushing away fear and taking charge of a situation and somehow trying to bring about normalcy and control – burying worry and fear deep where no one can see. “It will be fine” is her underlying belief.

We take our lives and of those around us so much for granted that the mere whiff of an aberration – illness, a sudden accident, a death, moving away from a city, a fight leading to permanent “blocking” out of the person, “unfriending” on FB, ending of a relationship /marriage, bankruptcy, natural disaster – anything, just about anything related to those we know and love puts our lives in complete disarray.

I remember when I was moving from Bombay to Bangalore 15 years ago, I felt my heart would leap out of my chest with pain and fear as I had no idea what I was heading towards, and I knew what I was leaving behind. My friends, familiarity, a way of life. Many of those friends and colleagues I no longer keep in touch with. I have moved on as have they am sure. Many of those people I thought would be my besties for life had milestones in life – marriage, babies, promotions, new property investments, cars, new colleagues, new friends – that old friends like me weren’t on the radar. After all out of sight is out of mind. I tried in my own limited way to keep in touch and somehow keep the intensity of friendship alive. Today it’s dead. While I say I don’t care about those who don’t care about me, it still hurts. Why? Because a bond that was sacred to me and which I took for granted that it’d be alive and well and kicking, could not withstand a wee bit of geography playing spoilsport. Therefore the rest is history.

It’s frightening to feel the ground slip from under your feet when a loved one who was there like a rock suddenly seems frail and mortal. The possibility of leading a life without that pillar suddenly hits you in the solar plexus. Panic sets in and all hell breaks loose. In that instant when one’s entire life flashes by and when you sink your head in regret, shame, fear, guilt and helplessness, you resolve to make it good, all you need is one more chance. Please.

And then your loved one is home. You can exhale. The ground beneath your feet isn’t as slippery as before. Life is pink and rosy and you can make your plans once again. Your pride, ego and “life is hunky dory” belief snaps into place. It’s yesterday once more. Time to take things for granted once again, until the next time. Human nature is funny isn’t it? And oh so foolish!


3rd time lucky they say!

So I have been a fairly prolific writer. I used to maintain 2 or 3 blogs at one point in early 2005. I started because I had a crush on a young man who actually wrote beautiful blogs. Today he’s married, has perhaps one child, is an entrepreneur, perhaps continues to write, really don’t know (and don’t honestly care) and the crush has thankfully worn off. It hurt for a while especially because my ego was bruised. After all when you admit that you’re attracted to a young man who in return is just not “into you” you tend to want the earth to swallow you.

Thankfully that was a decade ago. I’ve grown (hopefully), evolved mentally, emotionally, spiritually and today I write differently. I guess my blogs will continue to outlive me unless the Internet crashes and we’re closer to aliens bombing us out of existence. Oh well, the ether trail is what we shall leave behind for UFO bearing aliens to find and laugh long after we’re dead and gone.

So here I reproduce a blog I’d written when Roger Federer lost to Rafael Nadal in 2009. I don’t think any modern athlete has had such great control of my emotions as Federer. I’ve written about him here recently and also about Tennis Life Lessons. Yes tennis has that effect on my psyche. I do believe it’s about life. And I reproduce it here because once again when Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic yesterday at the Wimbledon 2015, I was despondent and felt like I’d lost the will to live. That’s what Federer does to me. I prayed for him, I had mental conversations with him and I somehow willed him to win. At some point I couldn’t watch the match either. I switched because I couldn’t bear to see my heart breaking into million pieces anymore. I’ve pieced my heart carefully after so many heartbreaks including thanks to the young man referred to above, that I know I don’t have the will or the capacity to piece them again if it does shatter. I’ve fortified myself and I don’t, can’t, won’t allow myself weaknesses such as breaking of the heart. In a world where I’m alone (as are we all) and I have only my arms to hug me or my voice to tell me it’s okay, or my gentle murmurings to console me, I can’t afford to let my heart break. And Roger Federer almost succeeded. Well, that’s what a genius can do. My only regret is that I haven’t seen him play in person and nor will I ever. That’s a tragedy and travesty of my hero worship of him. C’est la vie!

So here goes – a blog from the past – but still relevant! Enjoy!

Rafael Nadal won his first Wimbledon crown. Roger Federer stood forlornly as the dethroned but graceful champion and king, and probably the best grass player in the Open era or any era, ever.

Lessons learnt from both players:
a) Never never never ever give up. Even when you think and the world thinks you’re down and out.
b) Focus focus focus. The goal should be unwavering.
c) You may be genius, but you too are fallible. (Check Roger Federer’s unforced errors).
d) Age may be in the mind, but it’s in the body too. Speed, agility, tact and some
skill can make up for solid experience.
e) But the hunger to do more and excel more is not about age, but ageless. It’s an attitude and a part of your DNA.
f) Winning is everything (whether you like it or not – nobody will remember Federer’s 5 titles, his wonderful strokes, his will to come back from 2 sets down. Only ‘Rafa’ ‘Rafa’ ‘Rafa’ will be remembered for the victory).
g) Winning may be everything, but lack of skill, attitude, focus and determination won’t get you far beyond a few goal posts.
h) Without consistency you are nothing.
i) Never give all of yourself to every fight. Do save the best for last. Ironically you may not   get to the last if you don’t give your best. So work out the math yourself.
j) Money is definitely not everything. It’s just an escalator to a better quality of life.
Now what that quality means to different people is different so let’s leave it there.
k) Being calm, unruffled and determined under any onslaught and pressure, is the mark of   a leader. It’s also called grace under pressure.
l) But a show of emotions by leaders and world beaters is also ok. It shows you are
m) Never tread on people’s bunions when they’re limping. (Notice Federer’s ‘You’re ok?’ when Rafa grazed his knee and took a tumble. He didn’t have to enquire).
n) Respect your greatest opponent and competitor, never underestimate his ability.
o) Be willing to give it your all again and again. Yes, never feel defeated. Just an
opportunity lost.

No more. I just know that I wanted FedEx to win his 6th. I feel miserable.

But tomorrow is another day!