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Maajhe Ajoba..

….My Grandfather

Ajoba

On a quiet morning of November 22nd at 5:20 am , my phone buzzed. I usually prefer not to receive any calls specially at night but something within me told me this was an emergency. Mom , on the other side of the phone , gave the news that my paternal Grandpa passed away.We called him “Ajoba”. He was 95 years old, lead a good , healthy life and passed away peacefully in his sleep without any major ailments. Hearing this news , I weeped all day . A flash of beautiful memories just came to me all week and brought tears everytime I recollected his fond memories.

There are a few people in your life who love you unconditionally and Ajoba was one of them. Being the youngest of all the grandchildren , I was the most pampered and loved grandchild .I used to playfully call him “Ajobi”and he had all sorts of nicknames for us grandchildren. For most of my grandparents’ life , they were based out of Solapur and my childhood was filled with memories of summer holidays at my grandparents. When I visited them in Solapur , Ajoba would make sure that my grandmother would make all our favorite cuisines. He would take me to the parks , make sure I always have friends around to play with and at times even play with me like a child. He would collect the seasonal mangoes from the trees around and prepare best of the mango recipes for me. He would collect the special soft leaves from the Neem trees and grind them for hours to make a homemade medicine for me to increase immunity.Both Ajoba and Ajji (grandmother) would have tears in their eyes as we would leave back for hometown after summers with a promise that they would visit us soon. He helped me write letters to mom-dad telling them how I was doing.

When they visited us , Ajoba would love to drop me to the school bus and would wave till my school bus was not to be seen and wait eagerly for me to be back.

With a humble lifestyle they lead , Ajoba-Ajji used to stay in a rented apartment in Solapur till they were in their 70s and finally built their own home. The home they built so late in their time , with so much of hard-work was so close to their heart . They took care of the house almost like their child. With trees planted in the backyard , a front porch and a beautiful cozy home. He had a big housewarming for this home and showed around the home with so much pride. I have a vivid memory of Ajoba sitting in the verandah (front porch) with all the neighbors gathered every evening and the chats that went till late nights.

As we grew older , our visits to Solapur reduced primarily because of the amount of heat in summers which would easily be over 115F and would be un-bearable. Ajoba and Ajji visited us often and would stay with us for months. Ajoba was quite a conversationalist and would love to talk and get nostalgic when he served in the railways. I used to hear bed-time stories from him. He knew I loved to hear horror stories so he would tell all horror stories.He used to narrate them with animation and we would be glued to them till the climax .We heard many of his stories multiple times but he would tell them always with the same enthusiasm and interest every single time.

As we grew older whenever Ajoba-Ajji visited us , I would tell Ajoba to be in the living room when I return from work and he would wait eagerly just the same way he used to when I was kid to welcome me with his BIG adorable smile. When he heard of any problems of our problems that went on in life , that would bother him the most. He loved to chat and listen to how we lead our lives and his eyes would be filled with curiosity. He used to recite prayers in the mornings and meditate in the evenings. That brought him a lot of peace and calm more so after my grandma passed away some 8 years back. My brother’s kids were fortunate to meet their great grandparents and grandpa called him his walking stick as he used to help him move around the house.

I was away for work in his last days . With age Ajoba’s memory was fading and he didn’t easily recognize people. My aunt and uncle who were with him in his last days tell me that he remembered our memories vividly and always would enquire about me. For me , wherever I was in life , I knew that there was this person whose blessings were with me throughout and who loved me more than anything else. We visited him everytime we got a chance and didn’t miss to convey our love for him. Such was the love between me and my Ajobi. A bond that was so strong and the memories which were so beautiful , filled with kindness ,innocence and worth cherishing. We were blessed to have them in our life.

I hope wherever Ajoba and Ajji are , we have their blessings for us all and they remain in our beautiful memories forever.

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Mindful Browsing – Yay or Nay?!?

We all have said these statements at some point when it comes to social media/online portals “I just post once in a while , I am not addicted to social media” , ” I only scroll through the posts and like once in a while” , “I use it to read news online”, “It’s a great way to stay connected with all my friends” , “Shopping is just so easy now a days , I don’t need to go all the way to the shops anymore! “, ” I get the latest updates for my friends are through social media , we are still so connected ! “.

Still browsing!

It’s just so easy to “Stay connected” now-a-days and the world has become so small that you can literally get all the latest news within seconds, stay updated , stay connected with your old friends, sell / buy stuff online on shopping portals, send mails/messages all just at your fingertips.

As per the research , the notifications , likes , comments , pop-up messages release a chemical called Dopamine in our brains. This is the same chemical which is released when a person gambles, consumes alcohol or smokes for instance. In short, it’s highly addictive which is why it feels good when someone sends a text message, some notification pops-up on your screen and within no time you want to take a look at that notification and respond.

If we check our phones first thing in the morning before even saying good morning to the person next to us , we are addicted to online browsing.

The moment we decide we do not want to do online shopping or spend, that’s where a new ad pops-up for that amazing dress or shoes you had been wanting to get for a long time.

These platforms are designed in such a way to keep you hooked to your phone screens all the time. Unfortunately , it has also become the barometer deriving the people’s worth and success by the amount of followers they have or the amount of connections they make , the amount of likes they get , not in person but online.

So should we stop using these platforms ? Would we be called old school for staying away from these platforms? Shouldn’t I be moving with the times and staying updated with the latest technologies and platforms? How do I stay connected to my close friends after-all? We all have asked these questions at some point and probably failed to get an appropriate answer.

Turn off the notifications/ pop-up messages for all the platforms

I personally tried this method. I turned off the notifications for all the social media platforms , including Whatsapp and it has helped me greatly. I do not feel the need to respond immediately to any text message while I am in the middle of something important. Surprisingly , I haven’t lost any of my friends in the process 😛 .

You have a new notification!

I have done this for past 2 to 3 years and trust me I haven’t missed out on anything. If it’s as emergency a situation , people do call you 🙂 .If they are only sending a text message , it certainly isn’t an emergency situation. Start by taking one step at a time and disabling it for a day.

Think twice before posting

With the amount of fake news that goes around now-a-days and so much of negativity , with the game of click-baits to grab your attention you need to think before you post anything without fact checking . “Oh , I post just for fun !” ,”No one is getting harmed with my post!” or “I don’t have as many followers to make such a big impact so it’s not a big deal” , “I just feel that person deserves it , so I posted”.

If we all start thinking in this manner imagine the cumulative effect. We are just putting out more negativity, hatred and at-times even false information out there for public consumption. If we cannot spread kindness around , at-least let’s make sure we are not spreading negativity or false information without fact checks.

Dedicate time within your day for online surfing

I have myself been the victim of scrolling through and losing track of time since there is so much out there on the platforms to explore and the list is un-ending. But really , no creativity , personal growth or even real connections can happen by spending hours browsing through random content online.

Quick Time check

If we dedicate time during the day to browse through the platforms , may it be news , shopping sites or social media platforms , it can definitely help in making effective use of these platforms. I downloaded an app initially to show the time I spent on the phone and on various platforms so with time I was more aware of the amount of time I spent and could help reducing the same.

Live The Moment

There were times when outings were just outings where you spend good time with your families and friends. Now-a-days , unless you get that perfect picture , the holiday isn’t complete for which you have to take at-least 500 pictures. That perfect display picture , online post has become more important than the creating actual memories.

“Oh , but we are making sure we record our memories in these pictures to be seen later”. I have had friends who spent almost the entire holiday taking pictures. So were we creating any memories really?

Yay!!

Let’s first enjoy that beautiful site where you , really make that memory at the end take the picture. Really be present mentally and physically. We have seen people taking food pictures and editing it during the meal to be later mostly posted “online”, so did we enjoy that meal really ?

Enjoy the meal and really be present with the people you are eating with. To make real connections give your 100% attention.

Shop Only When YOU need it

Before shopping , make sure it’s your need to shop for that thing you are looking for, think twice.

Ask yourself if it’s that ad , that pop-up , that continuous prompt controlling your shopping habits. Let the ads not control you and your money spent.

Make Real Connections

Hey bud! Howz it going?!?

With the amount of social media usage , we really have lost track of real connections. Every now and then we come across posts for self-awareness around these platforms , we read and then we forget.

This year I started to personally make calls to some of my old friends and given the Covid situation , made sure to check on my loved ones and friends. Let’s try to stay connected by calling each-other to wish on birthdays , to check on well-being , to check what’s going on in the life of your “Good” friends. I am sure we all are too busy for actually calling but that hour away from the social-media might just help 😀

Silent mode

Do mute your phones during sleeping and important events like any meetings/social gatherings or even just catching up with friends. Buy an alarm clock if you need to wake up early. Buzzing phones and disturbing your sleep schedule while browsing online is an extremely unhealthy way of lifestyle. Also , using phones during meetings or any events is not just unprofessional and disrespectful but also distracts your attention and the attention of the people around you.

At the end , no-one can deny the power of social media and online portals. People are now building careers based on these platforms which involves a lot of creative thinking.

Let’s all use that power for good , spread positivity and make good use of the power we all have. After-all , “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” isn’t it ? 😉

What’s your take on the social media platforms ? Do let me know your views. I would love to hear the things you tried to make judicious use of these online platforms and your browsing habits.

Image Credits : pixabay.com, giphy.com

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Living On The Edge

You are living your dream life..!” , we often come across this quote being in a foreign land away from our home country. For the ones who are away from their homeland can relate to this. We ponder on this thought and have discussions with friends and families around this.

Yes , this is true that we blessed to have an opportunity that many of us dream of since childhood , many of us have goals aligned towards studying abroad and making a living , for some it’s something that happens by luck and opportunities that come our way. By whichever route we landed here, once you are in a foreign country that’s where the real challenges begin.

From the social media posts and stories it seems like we are leading a perfect life , visiting exotic places , earning in foreign currencies , driving amazing cars , maintaining a high-profile lifestyle . We are often subjected to quotes like “They travel so much” ,”they just enjoy all the time”, “they are used to leading a high-profile lifestyle”, “they earn in foreign currencies , must be rich by now”. What is not evident though , which doesn’t come across as easily is the amount of efforts that are involved and the mental journey that we go through. Each of us have a different story to tell and experiences to share.

For the students , it’s the tremendous amount of loans parents need to pay for. Parents coming from a humble middle-class family background cannot afford this easily. The students end up doing part time jobs while on campus just to make enough money to spend on any additional expenses that they can bear by themselves. They struggle tremendously to get into a job with lack of experience but need to get in one quickly to repay the loans. For them at a tender age , they know the value of money and each penny counts.

For the people with families , we often come across confusions on whether they want to be here or want to return to their homeland. The struggles start from everyday expenses for kids and their tuition fees , home-loans / rental-home expenses, car-loans, health and car insurance costs , bill payments and the list goes on. If they manage to get good salaries it’s a plus. There is also often fear that the kids would never know their culture being away from the homeland so we see people celebrating more festivals here than they usually would in their homeland. If within the families , both husband and wife work , it’s relatively easier on the expenses side but then day-cares are additional expenses and juggling the work-life balance isn’t a piece of cake.

Many wives , who could possibly have decent career back home , cannot work here which could be due to various different factors. It’s difficult initially to adjust just being at home and take care of the house-hold chores completely giving up all the aspirations. At home , we do not have any household help here. Each task , right from cleaning ,cooking , laundry , washing dishes , paying bills, driving , groceries everything is to be taken care on our own.

At the jobs , it’s an extremely competitive environment if you are working at a decent workplace. You constantly have to prove your talent to sustain else you can be replaced any day , anytime. You have to work even harder and we come across people around with extremely stressful life with no work-life balance. Again , whatever it is you have earned , is never enough since you have so many additional expenses that your earnings go towards. If you change jobs often here , you end up moving from state to state. Our shopping for homes usually are based on the moves we would make in future so as to travel light. We have many people making multiple moves in a year which really gets challenging.

Amongst all the above , we can never be certain , unless you are a citizen of the country , whether you would be in the country for the rest of your life. There is always an uncertainty of needing to move back which could be based on your choice or not by choice. The world that you have built around you which is your “dream world” for all these years always has a background uncertainty around it. Many of us deal with this uncertainty every single day and it becomes a part of our life. Stability seems like a far-fetched dream but we live with it each-day.

We are away from our families and friends become our family here .We do miss out on many important events in our life like ceremonies and festivals and we make up for it by celebrating the same with our friends. Although , it is difficult in emergency situations back home to reach on time for instance if someone lost their loved ones. The beautiful connections made here often end-up being temporary with the moves we or our friends make for different opportunities with lack of day-to-day in-person interactions.

Why lead this life is often a question that many of us ask and we question ourselves about? For me , the answer is precisely for all the above reasons. We chose this life , have struggled and worked really hard towards this life for many years and the what we have built around us today is the outcome of the tremendous efforts and struggles that went behind building this life.We have struggled, navigated though the struggle and moved past it and aimed towards better future. We have experiences to share , choices that we made , opportunities we strive for , lessons learnt which helped us grow and a memorable journey along the way. The choice in order to lose some to gain some is never an easy one and we learn to take each day as it comes and make this most out it. We learn to make these ongoing changes a part of our life and continue with our journey by taking one step at a time.

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear your thoughts around this topic.

Picture Credits : pixabay.com

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And then he was gone..

We woke up this morning to an unimaginable and extremely disheartening news of the sad demise of our favorite Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. He decided to end his life at age of 34.  This young actor who came with no background from the film industry made it big in the glamorous world of Bollywood and transitioned beautifully from the small screen to the big screen purely on the basis of his talent.

Social media was filled with condolences , news flashes all over, celebrity interviews, pictures, videos ,posts around conjectures on what may have happened due to which he decided to end his life.

Many of us have thought  , what could possibly go wrong for the actor of his stature? He had everything one could ever dream of, from fame , to good looks , talent , stardom , wealth and a luxurious life. What could possibly trigger him to do this and literally finding no reason to live ? Many of the people even jumped to conclusions like he could be having an issue with his career , his love life,his personal life and his finances and the list goes on.

Really speaking no one would ever know what a person goes through mentally when they take such drastic actions. We as a society always jump to conclusions so quickly without having any background about what could the real situation be. We live in an extremely frivolous and impatient world where we barely try to understand anyone’s real problems let alone giving a helping hand for resolving the problems.

Think of a person who maybe going through a chronic depression .With such judgments thrown at them, how is there a possibility for someone to share their set of mental health issues out in the open without a risk of being judged.

Mental health issues always have a stigma attached to it. Imagine a person saying “I am visiting my psychiatrist/psychologist today” as openly as saying “I am visiting my dentist today or I have a doctor’s appointment today” and not being judged for the same. The day this happens  would be the day of change when we would openly discuss mental health issues as we discuss physical health issues. We would reach out to a friend , a family member , a well wisher and discuss openly what we are going through mentally as easily as any physical injury.

Mental health is as critical as physical health. Just because it’s not a visible condition does not mean that we should treat mental health any less. It needs equal attention, education and treatment as required before it becomes chronic and even beyond control.

We have many big names in the list where many celebrities have gone through this situation Jim Carrey, Robin Williams,Katy Perry,Lady Gaga,Dwayne Johnson, Deepika Padukone to name a few. Deepika Padukone post her depression phase spoke about it openly and started a foundation “Live, Love, Laugh” to help those going through this phase. Imagine a star who is at the top of her career talking about her vulnerabilities out in the open at the risk of being judged just so to help someone going through the same .She was being appreciated but there was a section of society who was again judgmental about her situation. Although , after she spoke a lot of stigma attached around this issue was addressed to some extent and people at-least started to talk about it.  

Many people go through mental health issues day to day and feeling helpless about it. If someone is going through this phase where they are not feeling alright in their mental space or feel something is wrong, seek professional help immediately and talk to someone about it and know that you are not alone in this.

If you come across someone who is trying to share some of their mental health challenges with you , be patient enough to listen before jumping to conclusions ,being judgmental about them , giving advice or even ignoring what they are trying to say. You never know in what way you could be helping them even just by being there to listen without passing judgments .

Not all of us are well equipped ,trained or educated to address anyone’s mental health issues but just being with them through their journey and holding their hands could be helpful at times .If you sense someone is going through mental health challenges, encourage them to seek professional medical help.

Remember , nothing is this world is worth losing your peace of mind and as important as your mental health. If you feel there are some people , things which affect your mental health adversely its better to move away from them instead of them pulling you down and leading you to an unwanted path.

For Sushant Singh Rajput, you will always be missed and be in our hearts forever. Your roles in Pavitra Rishta ,MS. Dhoni , PK , Chichhore , Kai Po Che, Kedarnath and Shuddh Desi Romance were a feast to watch. You had  incredible dance and acting talents and worked hard towards reaching your goals. We have danced and enjoyed on your songs especially on the song Makhana which played in my mind all this morning while I remembered your smiling face in the song. This is truly a loss of one of the finest and talented actors from the industry.

Never thought we would say this for you so soon but “May Your Soul Rest In Peace.”

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Soft Skills Blog – Tips On Effective Day-to-Day Communications

As it’s rightly said , “Your vibe attracts your tribe!”

Having good communication skills is an integral part of our daily lives and an important aspect to enhance our personality .

In the corporate world , we interact with multiple people with various personalities , geographies and  age groups on a day-to-day basis.We have formal training to enhance our soft skills , verbal and written communications very early on as this is a critical skill-set to have not only for career growth but also to grow personally.

Each of the topics covered here are vast and literally can branch into multiple blogs but I limited these to some basic tips based on some of my observations over the years through various experiences and interactions.

Telephonic Interactions

Professional telephonic Conversations

Oops!

For starters , address the person with the correct name and please feel free to ask the name if you are not sure. Yes , it happens!

Time

For phone conversations , please make sure if it’s a good time to talk and the availability of the person you are calling and whether it is fine with them to continue the conversations.

Now-a-days we all lead busy lives and you should respect the time of every individual. As far as possible , schedule the calls beforehand.

Reason for the Call

Make sure you have a defined agenda for the call, you are properly able to communicate in a finite set of words what is it that you are exactly looking for and set the tone for the call.

At times , It is OK to not have polished language/communication skills or at times many of us struggle with vocabulary which we can improve over time but if the purpose of the call is clear and communicated properly , it definitely helps to have an effective call.

I have had multiple instances of effective calls of 15 minutes where everything was communicated clearly versus calls that stretch up to hours with no output whatsoever and feels like a complete waste of time.

Basic Phone Etiquettes

Greeting with smile , small talks to check on the person’s well-being, and ending the call with proper Goodbye and thanking for their time always is a plus.

Also during the communications , please make sure you the call is interactive, listen to the other individual or group equally so that the conversation is not one-sided. Do not interrupt is someone is speaking and if you absolutely have to speak , apologize for interruption.

Oh Gotcha!

As a general etiquette do not yell on the calls (yes people do that …super annoying!!) or have such soft tones that its hard to hear , maintain a proper pace while talking (not too fast, not too slow).

Please maintain a proper volume , and clarity while you communicate and if you are really adding any value to the conversation , do not be shy to put your point forward.

Personal telephonic Conversations

For personal calls to friends & family , oh well , let’s give it a break .No rules and they understand where I come from😊.Oh one rule is , “Make that call always and stay connected!”.

Email Communications

Professional Emails

Email communications

Clarity in communications

For Technical communications , please limit the words and keep them concise, clear and to the point as technical minds appreciate that. Big essays (although you might have put a lot of efforts on the work) may not always be appreciated.

Clarity in communications

If you can attach visuals (diagrams or related documents) to such communications , that’s definitely helpful.

Bullet points are my go to the make communications on-point and targeted.

Make use of words like “Could you please help..” in case of any requests.

Review your emails at least once before sending.

Intended Audience

Wait ! what ? Why am I getting this mail?

 Make sure you are adding only the intended audience to the communications and not just sending emails to people who might not be relevant to the content.

I receive such emails on a day-to-day basis and end up ignoring it but for some people it may be annoying.

Greetings and Signatures

Make sure you are using professional signatures and greetings. Double check on any grammatical errors/spell check before sending. Make sure you are making correct use of  “To” , “CC” , “BCC” options and know its significance before you send an email , use short and relevant subject lines.

Don’t React , Just Respond –

One thing important to note in email communications , “Do not react , just respond”. There might be multiple occasions where your emotions come across through your emails. For instance ,you may be angry at someone and expressing it through an email. While this maybe fine when you are sending an email to a friend, while interacting professionally it’s a strict “No”.

I am so mad at you right now , just wait for my email! ….. Savage !

Try to schedule a meeting instead of sending an email which may have conflicting views .You can also take a break , come back and then draft the mail.

I personally have learnt to wait before to send an email if I am in a bad mood .I make sure am in good spirits for my email communications so that I do not “react” but simply “respond”.

Personal Emails

For any personal emails to friends and family , I follow no rules 😊 .We can write anything and everything we want, and it can be as elaborate as we feel like with any greetings we like , after all they are friends for life and this is a very personal choice.  

Interactions In Person

Professional Interactions

All of us have come across people we interact with daily and we instantly get positive or negative vibes from them , we instantly like or dislike them. While judging a person right away within minutes is not something that I endorse , there are definitely things that we can work on for our personal growth by which we can make our own decent first impression. This is a part of our personal development.

Always Wear A Smile

When you meet someone new or someone you already know , whether it’s personal or professional , make sure you greet them with a gracious smile and make them feel like you are genuinely happy to see them (Hopefully , also mean it 😉 ) .

Please do not get touchy if you do not know well or even otherwise as it can be offensive and annoying.

Handshakes

If you meet someone professionally , handshakes are the most appropriate and you can find online resources to have training on proper handshakes to greet someone.

Avoid rambling  

Talking out of line or foot in the mouth with anyone professionally or personally is something that I personally do not encourage. Where you draw your line is something you learn with many interactions and also a lot depends on your own personality.

Blabbering

We should definitely try to be sensitive of the sentiments when we interact with any individuals and make sure we are not intentionally hurting them with our words .

Meeting In Person

We can limit them to the agenda of the meeting and not talk too much about personal stuff as a part of these official conversations. Initial couple of minutes maybe appropriate , later people might lose interest in listening to your personal life in professional forums especially if they don’t know you well.

Communicate your points with sincerity. Any thoughts that have been communicated genuinely can have a good impact on the people listening.

Occasional pleasant smiles during the course of verbal interactions definitely is an add-on to a pleasing personality.

On the other side , if someone is rude to you during your personal interactions , you do not have to retaliate by being rude.

This point is very circumstantial, we cannot make generic statements in this area but as far as possible during professional interactions , we should try to keep it professional and not get too personal.

If you do not like someone , having cordial and respectful interactions does not harm anyone. You do not have to “Burn The Bridges” by being dis-respectful. It’s a small world and you never know you can end up working or interacting with the same people again in future.

Official Meetings

Office Meetings

Official Meetings should be targeted towards the Agenda and time bound. Attend only the scheduled meetings and make sure there are definite take-away from a meeting and some value addition.

And I just lost so much of my time here

Now a days , it’s a norm attend more meetings than the actual work. As much as possible try to avoid irrelevant meetings .It’s not rude to be absent for the irrelevant meetings but it’s definitely rude to be asked to be present for meetings which are irrelevant to the job you perform or giving your time for the same or have no value addition.

Learn to value your own time for others to value your time.

Personal Interactions with friends and families

Friends are forever!

For any of my personal interactions with family & friends , again I have no rules , I respect them all and love them all .We can talk to any length with them about literally any topics whatsoever and it’s a personal choice. After all that’s what are friends for , we laugh together , we cry together ! 😉

Hope this article provides some insights on making your day-to-day communications more effective and help you groom your personality to some extent .Hopefully using some of these people genuinely mean it when they say “Hey , it’s good to know you!”

I would love to know some of your tips you follow during your interactions which have helped you grow and learn.

Do leave your comments and let me know your thoughts , I’d love to know.

Image Credits :pixabay.com , giphy.com

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Making The Most With New Normal

For many of us , the lock-down routine includes a lot of binge-watching TV shows, laze around ,binge eating and spend time on social media. While we all are guilty of doing all the above, this it turns out to be the unhealthiest routine and we soon tend to become complacent in our lives and tend to feel less motivated.

Bored Monsters Inc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It really helps to have some schedule especially in such uncertain times when we are not sure how long this new normal of lockdown would be a part of our lives. It would take a bit of a motivation and consistency but definitely is not difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Following some schedule daily has definitely helped me stay healthy mentally , physically and basically staying sane!! 😊

Early Rise N Shine

I always had a hard time to wake up early, would sleep late and wake up late. I tried changing this habit consistently for 15 days and it became a part of the routine to wake up early.

Waking Up GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My early morning calls partly helped me to inculcate this habit quickly. Sleeping early and waking up early is really a refreshing and you feel fresh all day.

Remember , you snooze you lose!! 😉

Grab A Bite On Time

Our eating schedules for breakfast , lunch and dinner are integral. Due to hectic work schedules during lock-down or even otherwise my eating habits were ridiculous and this affected my health adversely. I started seeing vitamin deficiencies in my health reports so it definitely was an alarm for me.

Eat Healthy

I slowly made it a point to have breakfast , lunch and dinner on time and also had a check on eating habits and made sure of portion eating.

Home cooked food definitely is the most healthy  and lock-down is helping us experiment on different interesting cuisines.

We can definitely use this to make some healthy choices for eating and make it a part of our lifestyle as we experiment.

I started to enjoy my preparing new dishes and try to prepare them like a pro by following YouTube videos 😉. Eating early dinner before 8 pm is something that I started to follow consistently and its definitely helped as a healthier lifestyle choice.

Workout (Yoga/ Running)

 I took Yoga lessons back in India and used to love them and they were thoroughly refreshing. After moving to States , I was more into Gym and Jazzercise but Yoga stayed with me all through and more so during the lock-down. I follow a 45 minute Yoga routine during lock-down and alternate between going for run and Yoga and it’s an extremely good tool to stay healthy.

Practice Yoga

We can practice Yoga anywhere just with a Yoga mat and couple of weights. There are tons of online videos/resources you can follow if you are a beginner. My personal favorite are Shilpa Shetty videos. She’s amazing at it!!

Going for a quick run also rejuvenates you completely and is extremely energizing. Even a small stroll in a park helps to refresh your mind.
Both the exercises mentioned above are great during lock-down and can be carried out by maintaining proper social distancing.

Scenic Drives

Initially during lock-down , since we were in the epicenter of the virus , lock-down rules were pretty strict. We could go out only for groceries/essentials. Being at home for longer duration weeks after weeks takes a toll on you.

Beautiful Drives

Short drives with your favorite music and driving to your favorite spots definitely refreshes you and is a good change and helps you in Staying Sane !😉

Make sure you are not crowding the places or getting out of the cars and staying safe.

Meditation

Most of us lead a stressful lifestyle with work and now with the additional anxiety around the virus. Doing a 15 min meditation daily helps calm your overactive mind and helps you stay focused and peaceful for any given situation.

Meditate

Initially you might find it a bit boring till you get used to it and you might even get distracted but with time if you can make it a part of your routine , you would definitely see a positive change in your mental health. I try to do it everyday for 15 minutes at night before I doze off and sleep like a baby.

Enhance your new skills

Lock-down is a great time to take up some new skills. I started my painting that I left a long time ago , a new blog site which I wanted to start for a while continue recording the songs I like during the lock-down.

I feel I am making a good use of this time and making it more productive , helps me to stay motivated.

You can pursue all your hobbies as this is the perfect time to do all of that you have missed out on😊

Enhance your knowledge

As its rightly said , Knowledge is Power. If you look actively look at the sites like LinkedIn it’s a great source of motivation and you would see how much people are doing during the lock-down to enhance their knowledge in their areas of expertise and grow in their careers.

Knowledge is Power!

I took up some certifications during this time and gave dedicated time to study for the technical certifications. This is a great time to enhance and excel your knowledge to grow further.

It can be a great stepping stone for your career and this time can actually be a blessing in disguise.

Relax N Enjoy

As its important to do all the stuff we do to keep going and stay motivated, its equally important to relax and enjoy our time with families and stay connected with friends. Watch all the shows/movies you can and make the most of it along-with having a productive day.

Chill Bro!

I managed to catch-up most of the shows & movies I missed early on and the list is only growing each day as I discuss with my friends.

I would love to know your favorites too!

Most importantly Stay healthy , safe and amazing !!

Do leave your comments and let me know what you are doing during this lock-down! Would love to know.

Image Credits – pixabay.com , giphy.com

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A Light Of Hope

As we navigate through a global crises of the pandemic and look down upon it as a curse we also look for a reason to keep moving forward and look for a silver-lining behind the dark clouds.

In December of 2019 , when the world first heard of the “Deadly virus from China”, none of us imagined the gravity of this virus. We all looked at the news and moved on with our routine thinking it wasn’t a big deal and eventually it would subside . Slowly it started to spread across different countries and the next thing we know , it was literally all around us and we were amidst the epicenter of this virus.

By mid of March 2020 in a course of just 4 months , the world had changed completely. With this rising number of cases ,people dying of this virus with no vaccine ,slowly everything went on a lock-down mode across the globe and people could walk out only for essentials. Masks and gloves were our new uniform , sanitizers were an essential and social distancing was a new normal.

We all packed our bags from work on March 12th after an email from the Human Resources that we would all work remotely until end of the month. We were happy to at least have this as an option when many of us are losing jobs , even struggling to support the family. For some of people around the world, it’s difficult to make the ends meet in this time of crisis. We could be nothing but grateful and started to pray for all this to end soon. We stocked all our groceries , essentials and locked ourselves down at home. The anxiety , fear of the unseen enemies could be seen all around.

For some of us “Working From Home” , although was a feasible option always , for the first time could be seen implemented for this long a duration. It felt like a relief at the beginning to start our day by not worrying about the traffic on the road and wake up right next to your work desk. Slowly the stress of constantly working long hours at a stretch started to hit us.

When you are going to work , whether you realize it or not , your mind by default gets distracted with various things like getting ready for work , commute and  for those people with kids , it’s even a bigger list of tasks to complete before you even get to work. Hats off to all those parents working from home who attend these long office calls and juggle between managing the workload with kids to look after. The kids  on the other hand are equally curious why they have to be home all day and now it’s  parents’ responsibility to keep them busy while teachers are digitally available.

Our online meetings often have kids screaming , crying and laughing in the background , pets that are barking , other calls interjecting our calls and even at times cows that are mooing. Yes , this really happened. Our new tagline now is “ok , Are you able to see my screen ? I am sharing now.”

With all the nervousness and anxiety around the pandemic, people are still working judiciously towards having “Business As Usual” and making the projects a success and in-fact working long hours at a stretch with no breaks and crazy busy schedule all day. Work life balance sounds like a “myth” in a situation like this we have people working even harder just so they can sustain in the current economy and for the months to come. At the end of the day with such high stress levels , we look forward to that sleep that we are going to get only before it all starts again the next day.

When I took a step back and looked at this craziness , I realized how innocent we human beings are. We work towards well-being of our families, work hard towards paying our bills , sincerely look at our jobs with passion and work towards it with determination no matter what job we do and how much we are paid for it. The paramedics , medical workers , police staff working relentlessly every single day are a great example of this dedication and we can only begin to imagine what they and the families go through. 

With the street traffic hitting all time low , and web traffic hitting the maximum , we have a whole bunch of creative minds the world has ever known with hidden talents at the peak from chefs , singers , painters , content creators, poets , dancers and the list goes on.People are now more empathetic towards the families going through the difficult times and trying to help in whichever way possible.

There is a lot of speculation on how the pandemic is going to affect the economy and whether or not we would be changed human beings at the end of it all.

For me , I feel we all are inherently born with all these qualities of love for family , socializing with friends ,dedication for work, passion, compassion, determination, creative thinking but probably we all just lost our way down the line and adapted to the convenience. We took things for granted and it had to be the pandemic to make us realize our own qualities and things that really matter to us.

Time would decide whether this phase changes us as human beings forever but for now , let’s just enjoy the few moments we have got to spend with our families ,let’s all be careful but stop stressing about the rising graphs , because if only stress could resolve this issue we would be sorted by now.

For all those stressing at jobs , worrying about the job loss and for those who have already lost their jobs “This too shall pass!”

Learn to live in the moment without worrying about future. There is a light at the end of every dark tunnel and a gorgeous rainbow after every thunderous storm. Let’s  paint a beautiful picture for the future together where the kids are out playing at the parks , we are enjoying guilt-free vacations with families and friends , gathering for festivals , going out for the movies and parties , hugs and kisses are the normal way to express love and we are in  pandemic free, healthy world again.

Hope you all Stay safe and Healthy !

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A Beautiful Game Called Life

As it’s rightly said, “Life Happens when you are busy making other plans”. As a young girl, belonging to humble middle-class Indian family , my world was only limited to the city I was born and raised in India. For the most part , I had goals were limited to completing my education, getting good grades, finding a job, get married ,have a family , settle down and have beautiful kids. My dreams were small and easy to achieve. Simple , isn’t it! Well, Looks so easy.

Well things went as per my achievable plan of completing my education and getting a job easily and until this point I did not even think that there could be other side to the story. It was only after being in a bad , traumatic relationship that I started to lose all my confidence. I started to doubt the smallest decisions of life as the big one had failed miserably. All the roads ahead of me started to become blur and I felt directionless. I lost all hope and it felt like end of my small world. Inherently I am an optimist, so this feeling of hopelessness was unusual. I cried a lot and knew I did not want to feel this way.My brother asked me to be positive and read a lot of positive books like the secret. I got a lot of unconditional love and support from family and friends to gather courage and pieces of broken heart to move on with life.

At the time when nothing was working for me , I thought of doing something that I had never done before and was not a part of my “plan”. I had an opportunity to move to US.It almost felt like a blessing in disguise and life trying to offer me a second chance.

Looking at the fragility of my mind and emotions, my parents, sibling were very skeptical if I should take this decision. I remember my mom saying “Dear, please think this through.  I don’t know if it’s a good idea”. They had never seen me taking such risks before and never was a rebel as a child in-fact quite the opposite. I never lived apart from them even in India , let alone abroad.

For me, it felt just a new change, a new environment, new opportunity and I wanted to do something that I never imagined I could. I did not want to marry right away in a hassle just because it seemed like a right thing to do , people around said so or it’s a social norm. I wanted to go for it when I felt it was right and so did the other person. Whatever it is I felt was the way to live for all this while did not suddenly feel like the only way to live life. With some convincing my parents agreed. With a lot of nervousness yet excitement, I decided to travel to US.

I moved to US in 2014 to Minneapolis, MN.I started to live on my own in a 1 BR rental apartment in Minnesota where I got my first job. I wanted some peace ,discover my strength and overcome weaknesses. I didn’t know anyone in MN at the time, so initial days were really tough. From being new to the country and culture suddenly the world seemed so different and full of endless opportunities although I was extremely weak mentally and felt alone. From getting a bank account, to getting a driver’s license ,finding an apartment and setting it up my own way ,getting a car, dealing with the brutal winter of MN , doing my own daily chores with no help ,dealing with changing immigration rules and uncertainty everything seemed to be new and like a learning each day.

At work , it was a completely new experience. Working in India versus working in US completely were totally different and good learning experiences. I made some good professional contacts.

I got a lot of extra time in the evenings to spend for myself. I started reading a lot, joined new meetup groups. I would go hiking , ice skating, skiing. I binge watched all the Netflix series. I started trying all the new cuisines here, partied like crazy , enjoyed all the sports played here, attended live concerts. I started recording my favorite songs over the weekends ,even listening to the new music that I usually wouldn’t .Started painting and Yoga and Bollywood dancing sessions. I watched all the movies from different languages and visited many beautiful places across US and a went on a bunch of road trips with my buddies. My small world suddenly became enlarged and this new world seemed to be full of possibilities.

My parents visited me often initially only to know that I was doing just fine and were thrilled to see how I lead my life here in spite of the struggles day to day. We traveled together to more beautiful places together while they visited me. Although skeptical ,I enrolled to some dating and matrimonial apps to find someone new and interesting and see if life can offer me a second chance in that area. The good , bad & interesting experiences I had there would definitely make an amazing content for my new blog.

With a blink of an eye, it’s been seven years of my journey to this new country which doesn’t seem to be new to me anymore. Things look familiar and it feels a lot like home. I stayed in 3 different states during this course of 7 years and had some amazing and varied experiences in each state. I made some great friends and most beautiful memories to cherish. I crossed paths with variety of people personally and professionally , had good and bad experiences but each one of them had something new to teach me throughout my journey here which only helped me grow.

Now I feel like traveling more and creating more enriching memories. When I look back and the journey is nothing but memorable, could be with flaws but totally worth it and continues to be so.

Things aren’t always rosy, the path isn’t always easy. You have times when you feel tired of dealing with all the stress at work and home and even at times tend to overthink , start to doubt yourself and feel lost and give up. The key to get around all of this is to be self-motivated , stop comparing your life with others and know that everyone goes through this at some point in life. Self-motivation , positive attitude , gratitude are such understated assets. We can gather all the strength , get up and get going with just these 3 things.

Take every risk that you can , while you can and never fear it.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  – Jack Canfield

Moving to a different country was one of the things I chose at the time to move out of my comfort zone which is not necessarily the only thing. It could be different things for different people. Key is to not stop but keep moving and do what you like. Today , I feel more independent not just financially and also strong mentally and more open to new ideas . I am more loving , evolved ,caring as a person and I feel like I am in complete control of my life and have no fear about circumstances or at-least now I am equipped to deal with my fear. I feel like I can do more for others, have more creative ideas like writing blogs and this is my first try for the same. Hope you all like it!!

I learned to cherish this beautiful game called “Life”, Do you?!?