On Nourishing Your Soul

It is such a beautiful sunny day here in Austin.

I got off my chair and went out in the sun and stood there for a few minutes…enjoying the howling wind and the bright sun.

Soul nourished.
Back to my desk and to do list.

Our souls are the very essence of who we are, therefore, they require nourishment just as our bodies do. – Unknown

On (At Least) Giving Back What You Got

My mother-in-law (Girijia) had a rather quirky relationship with her mother-in-law. But, when it came to building a relationship with her own daughter-in-laws, she tried her best. She put the right foot forward and always tried to grow and nourish our relationship. She wanted to maintain a strong bond with her grandkids as well. This task, as we all know, was never easy. I applaud her for trying her best till the very end of her life.

She gave me what she never got – a loving, caring, nurturing relationship.

So, I just continued to enjoy all the things and moments my mother-in-law gave me for as long as I was blessed and privileged enough to receive them…the things and moments she herself had been deprived off during her lifetime.

Amma (Devi) lost her mother when she was still a toddler. Thatha (Grandpa TVS) didn’t re-marry. He raised Amma by himself. Thatha adored his daughter and did everything possible to give her a good life. But, he was also a very busy man. He was a Muncip (sort of a Mayor) for his village and also a full time farmer. In short, Amma didn’t get any of the things she gave me. The feeling of coming back home to one’s mom, mom’s comfort food, mom’s tireless effort to raise one’s child to a better future..she didn’t get any of those.

Every time I came back home after a long day and got fed hot sambar or potato fry (trust me, when you come back from a super-hot-day in my hometown, all you wanted to do was drink was something cold and relax under the fan), I didn’t ever complain. I took it from Amma’s hand and told her “Romma nalla irruku Amma.” (which meant, “Mom, is it very good!”) Once in awhile, I would casually, drop a hint saying, “Nallika vena coola thayir sadam pannriya?” (which meant, “Mom, can you make some cold yogurt rice tomorrow?”). She didn’t get the hint whatsoever. Serving hot fresh food to her daughters was her way of showing her love.

She gave me what she never got – a loving, caring, nurturing relationship.

So, I just continued to enjoy all the things and moments Amma gave me for as long as I was blessed and privileged enough to receive…the things and moments she herself had been deprived off.

Let me ask you a question.

What are all the things and moments you  have been blessed and privileged enough to receive?

I am not asking you or me to pay forward those things we haven’t received.

That is too much of a stretch and requires a very BIG heart….much like the one your mom has.

But, whatever we received….those things..those moments…those gifts…at least that, we need to give back and pay it forward, right?

Don’t you think so?

You don’t have to feel obligated and rushed to say “Yes Ambal!”.
Just think about it. That is all I am asking for.

What are all the things and moments you  have been blessed and privileged enough to receive? Are you giving it back and paying it forward?

On Work Life Blend

We all seek to find balance amongst our various responsibilities.
It is easier said than done.

My colleague Anne and I caught up after work hours on Monday. Anne thanked me for always being available to her. I told her this – “Anne, Yep! I am always available to you. Because, you are one of my favorite girls. Moreover, over the years, I have learnt there is no such thing as work life balance for me. There is ONLY work life blend.” Anne agreed with me and appreciated my observation.

I have all kinds of asks of myself and my life. For example, I don’t believe in not showing up to one the boys concert during work hours. I also don’t believe in not working after I get back home because there should be supposedly be clear boundaries between work and life.

Given the contradictory asks that I have of myself and my life, I do what works for me.
I huddle with my colleagues both during and after work hours to make progress on projects.
I start meetings early or leave late during weekdays…whatever works on that day.
I gain permission (by building trust) to reach colleagues when I have to.
I give colleagues permission to call me when they have to.
I routinely pour over work stuff during the weekends.
I want my boss and colleagues to know that I will always rock heaven, deep earth and everything in between to keep moving the ball forward on all my projects…no matter what the odds.

I also show up to most of the boys events….even if it means showing up a few minutes late.
The boys are elated to see me when I rush in to a performance hall or tournament and wave my hand crazily at them.
I want them to know that they are very important to me…and I will always show up to cheer and support them…no matter what the odds.

In my current state of life, given my varying responsibilities, there can’t be clear boundaries between work and life. If I want to be able to be a parent and an employee, I can’t balance…I need to blend.

Think about it. What works for you?

Whether it is work life balance or work life blend…you do what is right for YOU.
It will all work (pun intended) out eventually!

On the Bonds that Bind us to the Beyond

She firmly believed that I never ate or rested enough.
She didn’t worry as much about other things in my life…she knew I would survive.

When y’all ask me how I am doing without her, I don’t know quite how to answer that question.
Yes, in the worldy sense, she is gone.
But, to me, she is never gone.

I see her in everything.

When that sun rises in the morning and peeks through the clouds, I know she is out there looking out for me and asking me to lead a purposeful life that day and everyday.
When that speedy car came so close to ramming me on 183, I know it is her mysterious hand that added that inch worth of buffer space to save my life.
When that strong stench of vadavam emanates from the pantry, I know it is her reminding me to add that vadavam to spice up the sambar.
When that light breeze caresses my face and runs past my hair, I know it is her coming to soothe all my pains and worries away.
When y’all tell me about how I walk fast with an upright body, my head held straight and with my piercing gaze, I know it is her decades of encouraging me to be confident and strong…even during the rough days.
When y’all embrace me with all your soulful love, I know it is her way of making sure I am surrounded by never ending love, care and support.

I am not delusional. I just KNOW it with my gut.

Today, as I made rasam for the boys, I thougth of her.
I thought of how she would make the best rasam on this planet.
I thought of how she would filter the hot rasam and pour it in a tumbler.
I thought of how she would walk over slowly with her arthritis legs and place the tumbler on my work desk.
I thought of how she would nag me to drink up the rasam right away or else she was going to smack me.
I thought of all the things she would say to threaten me to eat on time and laughed and cried all at the same time.

To me, she is never gone.

I see her in almost everything…every day.

On Harvesting Time

What comes to your mind when I say “4 Quadrants”?

Well, if you are a math geek like me, you see something like the image below in your mind’s eye.

What comes to your mind when I say “4 Quadrants of Time Management”?

While you are thinking about it, let me tell you a little about my life.

I am a mom.
I am a wife.
I am a daugther.
I am a teammate.
I am a dog owner.
I am a friend.
I am a reader.
I am a writer.
I am a carpool partner.
The list goes on…

You get the picture here….I wear many hats and juggle too many balls that I can’t drop. I bet it is the same with you and your life.

We ONLY have 24 hours.

Couple of decades ago, I noticed that some people were making more out of their 24 hours than others. So, I started reading books on time management….like a MANIAC.

I know what you are going to ask me – “Ambal, how would you summarize your learnings?”

Buy me coffee and I’ll give you my version of the summary.
But, until that day you and I get together for coffee, here are few of my observations:

Observation #1  Plutonium and diamonds are NOT the most valuable resources on this planet that you and I call home. I don’t give a rat’s a** about any of those precious things or resources that are commonly put in the precious pile. I urge you not to put crappy stuff in the precious pile too.
Do you know what is the most valuable resource that is ready for you to harvest any time and any place? Ready for it? TIME is the MOST valuable resources on this planet.

I wrote part of this post while waiting to get my  latte at Starbucks, another part while waiting to pick up my son. Any place. Any time. You can harvest time. And, notice I wasn’t really waiting while waiting. I didn’t give the power to the barista or even my beloved son to take over my time. I still owned it.

Do you own your time at all times? Think about it.

Observation #2 There is only one chart that you need to know to manage your time. That is the “4 Quadrants of Time”. Read Covey’s Time Management Grid

Source: https://liveurbestlife.wordpress.com/

Observation #3 I believe that success doesn’t happen on one dimension….it is along multiple dimensions.

  • Are you growing spiritually?
  • Are you growing as a person?
  • Are you growing in your career?
  • Are you growing on the family dimension?
  • Are you growing on the adventure dimension?
  • Are you growing on the health dimension?
  • Are your growing other people around you?
  • Are your growing trees and plants that will out live you?

The list goes on…..and it is based on what is important you and what YOU define as success.

The only want to grow along multiple dimensions is to ensure you invest time (the same 24 hours that you and I have.) wisely in each dimension that is important to you.There is no right or wrong answers. You do what is right for you.

It is important to me to bag peaks. I have a running list of mountains that I have climbed and will climb. It is not an easy task and one to fit into my hectic life. But, it is important to me to stand on mountain peaks and observe. It is important to me to go through that struggle (both physical and mental) of climbing. It is important to me to walk through the forests, the lakes, the tall trees and head toward the peak and immerse myself in the sheer beauty of nature. It is important to me to let myself be conquered by nature as I try to conquer a peak that I have set my eyes on for several years. It is important to me, that my children see (and, hopefully, remember long after I am gone) that I found time to do bag peaks….despite being a 5 foot lean and mean looking woman. So, I continue to do it,  all the while trying to make progress on other dimensions too.

What dimensions are most meaningful to you? Think about it.

Observation #4
In my mother tongue Tamil there is a saying (by a lady poet who lived in 13th Century named Avvaiyar)  that goes like this –

கற்றது கைமண் அளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு
“Katrathu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallathathu Ulagalavu”

Her quote has been translated as “What you have learned is a mere handful of sand; What you haven’t learned is the size of the world” and exhibited at NASA. It can also be translated as “Known is a drop, unknown is an Ocean“.

My learnings about time and my inherent gut level appreciation and understanding (thanks to my Eastern roots and upbringing) of how timeless time actually is …..all those learnings are indeed so miniscule. So, I will continue to learn about time and hone time management skills over a lifetime.

I hope you will do the same.

To Time! Cheers,  my friend!

More posts on  Time & Moments:

On Time

On Waiting

Embrace‬ ‪the‬ ‪Metaphysical‬

Look at the Sun Rays

All Kind of Miracles Happen. Don’t they?

Experience Moments, One by One

Warm water of the Atlantic Ocean. Met my feet.

The Mindset to Enjoy the Little Things in Life

I would have bet Bolt hands down!

On What you are seeking and How it is seeking you

Thoughts of a Weary Traveler

On Moments that become Meaningless

Right place at the Right time with the Right person

Nostalgia Reminds us that some Beautiful Moments are Past Us

Moments eventually come to an End

Mad Rush through the Grocery Store Aisles