Ok I admit, I’m afraid!

I was in a blue funk 2 weeks ago. I was in a ‘blue-funking-afraid’ moment 2 weeks ago. That’s why I haven’t  written since. I’ve been wondering how to stop myself from getting in the way.

As I take a walk and listen to Jon Acuff and Srinivas Rao on the Unmistakable Creative podcast, I realize what a boring, uninteresting and unimaginative life I’ve been leading. When I chanced upon this blog of a young girl called Sahaja Patel and I started reading it, I was a wee bit jealous of her wonderful way with words and her writing style. The thought of leading an uninteresting, unimaginative and boring life was further emphasised. I was left wondering why I couldn’t write like her and fell into the familiar trap of comparisons and self-flagellation. Pointless I know, but sometimes habits are hard to break :). Last week as I sat in a pub with 4 adult men who were all part of a start up team and were sharing stories about people, I just sat and listened. I didn’t have stories to tell, I was not a raconteur and yes, I had led an extremely uninteresting, unimaginative and boring life. My life was dull. There’s no two ways about it. No exciting boy friend woes, no drudge grudge against Mother-in-laws, no heart breaking but inspirational rags-to-riches sagas, no break-ups with BFFs, no bumping into amazingly gritty people on adventurous travels, no networking and meeting with the next wizards of Oz and storing away little nuggets of learning to be translated into a book later, no random trysts with handsome hunks in run down motels and orchestrated quickies or l’affair de coeur with a married man or woman, or overcoming natural disasters or failures of everyday life. Nope, nothing. B-o-r-i-n-g, I know.

Now I have ideas which if I were to somehow get the guts to implement and go after, it would lead me to glory. Like they say no guts, no glory. But I have no clue what to do, how to go about it, and while I keep trying to scratch my head about who to speak, how to get it off the ground, I am losing momentum, but that unmistakable feeling of ‘this is it, this can work’ just gets stronger. So when do I take that leap of faith and how? Beats me.

I know there aren’t any right answers or wrong. It’s all about me trying to figure out how to live an adventurous life at this age and stage of my life and somehow manage to do it alone. Shoot!

When I hear Jon Acuff in the podcast quoting Zig Ziglar telling a woman, “You’re going to be 44 regardless. Now it’s up to you to decide you’re going to be 44 and a nurse or just 44”,  I know it’s a brilliant metaphor for how you need to think about your life. I know.

A friend of mine the other day said, “Renu you’re always starting a sentence with buts”. Don’t I know it! That’s what I’m saying. I’ve got to get out of this mindset of “I can’t be a failure,”, “I wish I could but I can’t because I’m not as good as that brilliant person out there,” “I know that this is all my life is going to amount to and I hate myself for it”.

I want to take a pledge that from now on I want to think differently.

Not limited. Limitless.
Not fearful. Fearless.
Not lack. Abundance.
Not woe. Joy.
Not oh my god, what will I do. Oh my God, I can do this!

I guess it’s time to just go out there, lace up your keds and ‘just do it’. (And don’t run away from evil-eyed gremlins called ‘fear’, because life is to be lived not in fear of fear, but despite it. It’s time to beat them at their own game wot?)

 

 

The struggle with struggles!

Writing is a struggle

Writing is a struggle

I’ll be honest. I’m having to struggle to keep up with a whole bunch of things in my life. When I pause to exhale and think about my struggles I realise I’ve always struggled with my struggles. Right from childhood. Of course the struggles morphed into more mature, more adult struggles as I grew up, but they never went away. There was no magic abracadabra to make me feel invincible, or super confident, or super positive and make my struggles seem really small, like a grain of sand in the Universe.

 

I have the power to make now count

I have the power, really?

When I was young
My struggles were about being dark-skinned, euphemistically called dusky skinned nowadays. I struggled with having ‘matured’ faster than some of the other older girls in the neighborhood. I struggled with having my body thrust itself out in a hurry quicker than some of the other skinnier girls. I struggled with them giggling and poking and whispering and pointing at my blooming femininity and wondered what I’d done wrong. Why were they all  laughing? I was a smart kid and I managed to learn things by rote better and so would stand first in class. I was considered “intelligent” and I struggle with that label, till this day. I struggled with the burden of my family’s expectations of “studying well, shining bright, winning accolades and getting a great job”, none of which I really did. I struggled with the idea of having buck teeth and no one ever bothering to tell me that I could actually get it fixed. I struggled with never being great at sports and always losing out to someone better. I struggled with the idea of losing even though I was told that winning was not everything, participating was (and I know that wasn’t the truth, there’s really nothing like winning is there?). I struggled with being plump and short and dark and “smart/intelligent”, and not being good at sports.

When I was a teen

Struggling for a reason

Give me a reason

I struggled with never looking stylish enough when I was in college. At 16 all you want to do is look good in jeans and have shiny hair, a brilliant smile and hope all the boys want to take you to some party, any party. All you wanted was an invite. I struggled, because I was only giggled at and never invited. I struggled to figure out what would make extended family stop comparing me to other “prettier” girls in the family and I struggled to learn how “not to feel bad” when these comparisons and blatant favouritism was displayed. I struggled not knowing how to language it and so becoming temperamental and moody and depressed were my form of expression, for attention, for somehow wanting to tell those who hurt me to look at me as me and not as someone they wanted me to be. I struggled with the lies about my father, and his work, and the shame and the guilt that accompanied me whenever someone asked me about him. I struggled to comfort my mother and support her as my anger came in the way and I didn’t know how to channelise that anger into something meaningful and purposeful. I struggled when my grandfather died and I held my father responsible for his death and the eventual death of my grandmother 3 years later. I struggled with the guilt of being my father’s daughter.

When I was an adult
No one told me life wasn’t a piece of cake. I struggled to define my purpose. I struggled to have faith in my ability to do anything. I struggled to come up with a plan for my life. What did I want, where did I want to go, how would I go about getting there, would I find a man who could love me? I struggled every time a man came into my life and left me for another. I struggled with my desire to tell the world I could be the bride too, every single time I attended a friend’s wedding. I struggled as I grew singler and singler and older and wiser. I struggled with the chains of a 9-5 when my heart cried out to be free. I struggled to make sense of the pain of just being an adult and watching my life somehow not panning out the way I imagined – no fame, no money, no career, no travels, no books, no “love of my life”, no children – no nothing really.

Everybody has their own cross to bear

With you in yours.

When I am in the prime of my life now
I continue to struggle. My struggles are not vastly different from yours. I struggle to keep my body from sagging. I struggle with the narratives of loneliness and fear of death. I struggle to find meaning and purpose. I struggle with self-worth and coming to terms that I’m ordinary and very average. I struggle with my writing and the fact that I can never be a great writer. I struggle with acceptance and forgiveness. I struggle to keep my head high and not regret the past. I struggle with dealing with sarcasm. I struggle to keep bitterness with past behaviours of my family and find it so hard to keep my rage (rage, not just anger) at bay. I struggle when my life coach asks me about my father. I struggle to realise that I have one life to live and I haven’t achieved pretty much anything and we have Marc Zuckerberg who was the youngest billionaire in the world. I struggle when my trust is misplaced and yet I continue to place my trust in people’s goodness. I struggle with hope and I struggle to find meaning. I struggle to keep the greys out of my hair as I struggle to be patient with a parent who is only getting older, greyer, frailer. I struggle with my unexpressed passions, and I struggle to dream sometimes. And when I dream, I struggle to keep them burning, happy to put out the embers.

I struggle with struggles. All the fucking time.

Do you?

 

 

 

The Shame Of Being You. F#@$!

I journal as regularly as I can. I haven’t got down to my goal of journaling everyday. I’m upset at myself because of that. F#@$! It’s one of those bugbears which I’ve tried asking to some ‘experts’ about and never got any answers that I could really sink my teeth into.

Similarly I try exercising everyday. But I haven’t got down to it. It’s on my to-do list, and there it remains, winking at me wickedly, taunting me and sometimes bearing down upon me. F#@$!

When my professional colleagues are laid-back and chilled, and I’m running around like a headless chicken because I’m a Type A personality or what have you, I know I’m a sucker for ‘wanting to be accepted’ sob narratives in my head. F@#$!

The family gets together and everyone wants to have a good time. But some like me are running around chauffeuring people around, being worried, being the ‘go-to-gal’ for mostly anything that needs to get done. I feel like cursing the living daylights for this personality that I’m born with. I curse my karma, my stars, the sun, the moon, and everything, including myself. Why can’t I be the one who can sit back and relax just like some others who pretend to work, and guess what, get all the kudos and appreciation to boot from en famille. And poor old me? Yup, I remain poor and old and me. F@#$!

Men in my life have usually ordered me around. They’ve had their egos float on Cloud 9 and if most of these men have however fleetingly felt like an Emperor, it’s thanks to me. Jeez! I have always been a victim of the ‘what if’ syndrome and so have always cowed down, bowed down and bent down to listen to them. After all ‘what if’ they leave (which they eventually do), ‘what if’ they like someone else (that too), ‘what if’ they wander away from the altar (I can almost count myself to be the Runaway Bride in reverse where the bridegroom just ups it and leaves) and yeah, ‘what if’ I never “settle down” (in plain layman terms it means find a nice man, marry, get round, have kids, fight, get tormented, and play by the rules or you’ll be left behind, so what if it’s a shitty marriage, but at least it gives you status and so on)? So all the ‘what ifs’ have come true. F@#$!

There’s an underlying theme to this whole behavioural pattern. As you step into the journey of adolescence, teenager, crusty adulthood, your beliefs of who you are get firmer, not necessarily truer. And we’re happy about status quo. Who wants to dig deep and unearth the truth right? Truth someone said is bitter, ugh! We’d rather indulge our sweet tooth and get fat and Type A diabetes right than hear the bitter truth. Sadly we get so consumed by our narratives of who we are we never turn explorer and Xena-fearless to just do a reality check and turn our narratives on their heads. And make way for other more real, closer to the truth stories that could be the gateway of more fulfilled lives.

Which is why:
a) we’re needy
b) we’re weak with longing to be accepted
c) we’re stiff with fear of being rejected
d) we’re uncertain of our own strength
e) we’re aching to belong
f) we’re thirsty for acknowledgement of our own beautiful self from a world that doesn’t give a F@#$!
g) we’re dying to be heard

We’re crying out to the world, “see me for who I am” but the truth is we don’t see ourselves. We’re afraid. Of being naked to ourselves. We’re ashamed.F@#$!

Conditioned to believe that if we’re not perfect with 10 fingers (for women they need to be long and tapering and smooth with pearly long nails for that perfect feline quality meeow!), 10 toes, narrow waists, child-bearing hips, shapely legs, tiny feet, great breasts, the gap within the thighs, the tinkling laughter, the mane that no shampoo ad can rival, the skin like alabaster without a mole or freckles, acne marks or wrinkles, then we’re losers. And for the men am sure it’s a similar story. Poor men, even more insecure than women and can’t even admit to it. Only show machismo because that’s supposed to be how they are, vulnerability can go fly a kite! F@#$!

The conditioned self. The true self. The ‘narrative’ self. Somehow we find it so easy to float on a bed of lies, shame, guilt and fear that we really forget who we are. F@#$!

What the hell do we do now? How do we step back from the abyss of dismay, disgust and delusion? How do we reclaim our true selves? I don’t know. F@#$!

 

For The Race Called Life

“For The Race Called Life” – That’s what is imprinted on the little satchel that was given to all participants who registered for a fun run to celebrate Women’s Day.

I participated for the first run ever in my entire 4 decades+, old life. The 5 k was what I opted for hoping and praying that I would be able to complete it before I collapsed, gasping and frothing at the mouth with sheer fatigue.

Guess what? I completed it in 45 mins. My first ever, give me a high-5, yay!!! What did the race for life teach me? Well, like Haruki Murakami, who wrote about life really, when he ran, I too thought to myself: I can run. I can walk and run, I don’t have to run all the time. I can run at my pace and not worry about others who are behind or ahead of me. I don’t have to worry about taking up someone’s space, as space gets created for all, runners, walkers, old, young, infirm, men, women. As I moved slowly at a really gentle trot, there were those who got off the block with a lot of firepower and soon ran out of breath and I was able to overtake some of them. My mind was focused on completing the run. I was determined. I stopped to hydrate myself as I realised that it’s important to look after one’s body and listen to the mind and heart when it says, “pause”, “thirsty”, etc. I walked, without feeling guilty after the initial guilt of giving in (to walking) was overcome. I focused on the finish line and I was able to pick up running again where I’d left off without feeling the need to sit, stand, roll my head down in abject surrender. I was able to admire the grit and sheer determination of all the others who were also focused on crossing the finish line. I was non-judgemental and totally appreciative of other’s efforts. I focused on my breathing. I was able to hear my mind tick. I was in awe of my own determination at wanting to complete it. I was happy to hear the voice in my head that said, “you can do it, don’t you give up on me now”.

When I saw the Finish sign I couldn’t resist pumping my fist and almost bursting into tears of joy, relief, accomplishment and breaking the barriers of my mind. I had endured. I had triumphed against all the naysayer voices within my head that asked doubtfully, “can you really do it?”

Yes I bloody well can and did. I ran For The Race Called Life and triumphed. I didn’t come first, it wasn’t a competitive race, so in actuality, I was really racing against myself. I was awarded a medal at the end of it, same as every single participant there. Yes, it was symbolic. You run your own race, keep taking deep breaths, stop at pit stops to hydrate yourself, listen to those who egg you on and draw inspiration from those who’re running the same race of life, in different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. No one is jostling you, toppling you or causing you any insecurity. There’s no urgency to win, no one to sneer at you because you didn’t have a podium finish. You ran, focused on the task at hand and the Finish sign came up on you quietly, unimposingly and you slipped by the gates with a big Whoosh! Yes, you ran, and you just did it. By Jove! Happy Women’s Day!

For all the women out there, you’re not just phenomenal, but a phenomenon. Wake up, rise up, reach out and shine your light and shine in your glory. There’s no one quite like you. Xoxoxo!