“In quotes”

Beauty is as beauty does, beauty is as beauty feels, beauty is as beauty sees. I give you a story in images. Make of it what you will. A story like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Your interpretation is as beautiful as mine, for after all what you see, no one else sees. You are unique, as am I.

I’m taking a mini-break and so The Jukebox Chronicles and the chronicler will be in absentia next week. Miss the chronicles, long for it, wait for it to get back, but but but, continue to hum your tune. Love you. Learning to love myself too.

 

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Looks can be deceptive

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“Do I matter?”

Gosh! It’s been exactly a month and a half since I last wrote. I’ve been away for various reasons – all personal. And then I hide behind the most trusted of all excuses which won’t ever give you away: work. :).

I had fallen off the grid with my walking, yoga, meditation, journaling, blogging and my routine was all over the place. Why? Because I was intensely focused on creating a ‘wow’ experience for my mom for her ‘surprise birthday party’. The intention was there, the focus was there, the determination, belief and action, all were there. And was it a wow? You betcha! (Hidden nugget: recipes for success are all here – focus, determination, belief, action and detachment from outcome – just got to do it.).

Well anyway, I’ve gotten back to my morning walks. Slowly, but I did it, I took one baby step at a time. I’ve gotten back to listening to podcasts like this one on the Unmistakable Creative, which I found very enlightening. During the course of Samantha Bennett ‘s conversation with Srinivas Rao, the host of UC, she mentioned, “Do I matter? Does anyone see me?” and it immediately struck a chord. My primeval being heaved when she (my primeval Renu) heard “Does anyone see me?” and I knew that this is a BIG thing. A question that I’ve battled with all my life.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever felt:
a) that you’re the kind who’ll always be the silent behind-the-scenes type but unlike a set designer or a director of a movie, or even a spot boy, you never get credit for everything you do? Maybe you don’t want it, and that’s your personality, but come on, at least sometimes it’d be nice to get all the credit for everything right? Right?

b) that somehow there are people who’ll always say, ‘hey let me do this, I got this’ and then you find that you’re the one who’s doing it, but later everyone around says the former did so much heavy-duty stuff? What a great help he/she was?Aaargh!!!

c) in a community or in a family or even in a team at an office, no one gives credit to the original idea that started something, anything, but everyone goes cheek-bussing and hi-fiving and the credit goes to perhaps the last one who wrote that email and said, ‘let’s do so and so at this time. Let’s meet?’ and you look forlornly and wonder, is this how it’s always going to be? You shrug and realise YES!

d) that those who’re seen to be doing something all the time even though in actuality they’re doing zilch, are the ones who’re credited with being ‘active’, ‘amazing’, ‘brilliant’ whereas you, if you’re the one who started the movement, oh well, sorry pal, not this way, the EXIT’s out the back-door, and shut the door silently behind you will ya? Er…who’re you?

e) suddenly on those occasions when you do make a sound and question, everyone looks at you, doesn’t like the sound of the question and what it purports to be, (perhaps makes them feel uncomfortable) and then suddenly you don’t matter? You’re not in the consideration set anymore, because you dared to ask a question and there in one fell swoop you’ve been swept to the background again.

f) the need for closure when some people you knew well, laughed with, were friends with, suddenly for no reason (seemingly) avoid you, look through you, turn their nose up at you, frown in your presence or just ignore you? Do you want to naturally gravitate towards the back of the wall or the elevator and agonise about, “why me”?

Each and every one of those instances has happened to me. I’m not a diva. I’m not an ideas-machine. I’m not a self-aggrandizing attention-seeking cloying sycophant who needs to prove anything. Correction! I do need my day in the sun! I do need external validation. Yes, I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t matter. I do need someone to applaud and say, ‘Brilliant job! No one else could’ve done better.” I do need for others to raise a toast. Yes, it’s important. I won’t lie, it is important. And I do crave for it. But that’s the one thing I’ve realised – the more you crave for something, the farther away it gets from you. But I’m human. For once I don’t have smart alecky answers or guide posts on how to cross this oh-so-human-failing of mine. Because all I ask is, “Don’t you see me?” 

If you’ve felt this way too and have found ways to make your peace, share. Sharing is caring! Lots of love to you!

 

 

 

 

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.

Fears, Mine – 2

We all live lives of imperfection and yet we cling to this fantasy that there’s this perfect life and that our leaders should embody it. (From Mathew Santos’ speech in ‘The West Wing’ – Season 6, Ep.22)

They’re showing re-runs of ‘The West Wing’ here in India. I’m hooked on to it. It’s fascinating how we humans have created ideas and concepts, for how we should rule ourselves. It’s gobsmackingly entrancing to watch the political machinations that are in play in the self-proclaimed ‘most powerful nation on Earth’. How people lie, cheat, pull strings, commit perjury, infidelity and yet somehow manage to stand tall and do what is right. Yes, it’s intense, extremely smart, for most parts beautifully written by Aaron Sorkin, masterfully enacted (one needs to take lessons from Allison Janney aka C J Cregg in one of the best etched characters for a female actor ever, and that’s IMHO) and so real. Who cares if the sets are not the exact same way as the real deal, who cares if it doesn’t exactly work like this in the actual west wing. I care about the characters – righteous, brilliant, brilliantly funny, with a sense of repartee and rejoinder that is almost inhuman it’s so bloody good, cocky, determined, insistent, persuasive, sly, compassionate, heroic, loyal and everything else in between –  who are like me and you, whole, flawed and oh so perfectly imperfect. Which is what makes it so eminently watchable.

Yes, we do live lives of imperfection. Perhaps it’s the law of the Universe. Maybe when the Big Bang happened, it created so much noise that it deafened the sound of perfection. And thereby created an eternal, gnawing, insatiable greedy desire for that which is unattainable. Perfection.

When I see myself in the mirror, I see thinning hair, sagging tummy and breasts, dry skin, gnarled hands, a butt that is no longer as firm as it used to be, teeth which are just about holding up, and then just when I’m sighing in mute acceptance of that which cannot be changed, I look at and into my eyes. I see a fierce brightness, a smile, a soul that’s so bright, a radiance that cannot be diminished and a perfection that is hard to beat. I catch my breath. And then the moment passeth!

I don’t look at myself in the mirror with such care and devotion everyday. Most days it’s cursory. For the longest time I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror in public places. At a restaurant, hotel, office, airport, anywhere public, when I visited the cloak room, I really wanted to be cloaked from the prying (?) eyes of others. I couldn’t look myself in the eye with confidence. I would never be able to run a quick comb through my hair or darken my liner. I was afraid. I was ashamed. What would these beautiful women (everyone other than yours truly was always prettier) think of me when they saw me? Would they be thinking, ‘My what an unpleasant looking woman?’ or would they go, ‘she’s dark, she’s a loser’ or would they not think I was worthy of any momentary attention at all? I was probably the most focused when I was in the cloak room – in, do your thing, out – and didn’t really dawdle, linger, gossip, or indulge in vainglorious practices, ha ha ha ha. I never showed up for myself. I let myself down. For what?

Fears, mine:
I’m ugly and people will find out.
I’m dark skinned and perforce, always be inferior to those who’re fair skinned aka pretty women.
I’m short and don’t have a Size 0,2,4,6, figure. Men won’t ever desire me.
I’ve got big teeth and my jaw line and profile are all screwed up. No guy will ever dedicate a song to me at a fete.
I’ve tubby fingers, broad feet, fat thighs – people will laugh at me when I wear nail polish or tight jeans. Ewwww!

As I write this, I feel ridiculous. Just reading these statements makes me wonder why I’ve held on to it for so long. Couldn’t I have known, seen, understood? I guess not. It’s very difficult to be a detached, non-judgmental bystander peeking within and figuring out how to heal.

Where did this come from? Where does it stay? Who is its bedfellow? What is its purpose? Why this self -deprecatory dialogue intent on sucking the soul out of my soul? How long will it continue? Does it deserve to continue? Am I so weak that I’ve let this dialogue show me the middle finger in open defiance?

Questions that I’ve been wondering about all my life. Fears, fears and more fears. Like I wrote before, fear is essential. But it’s up to me to decide how much, when and where it can be called upon to play it’s part. It’s time to say STOP! And flex my brain muscle and heart muscle and belief muscle. It’s time to put the fear into fear.

I’m whole. I’m beautiful. And everything that God wanted me to be. And proud to live my life of imperfection.

—  Thank you Joe Cocker :).