Archive for the ‘life’ Category

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My week of Reading Deprivation (part 2)

November 4, 2017

So, none of the three Internet-enabled time-sinks for a week. But books? I’m always reading one, would I miss that terribly? And the newspaper? Not really a big challenge, since I’ve all but stopped readin it. I just skim through once in a while.

The week, as it happened couldn’t have been busier – S travelling, my folks visiting, finding myself busy with some meaty work on hand, and resuming working out after over five months, with a trainer, three times a week.

So how did the week go? It’s been two full days since the week got over, and here are some things that I realised –

  • I didn’t miss picking up my phone every once in a while to check Instagram or whatsapp mindlessly. It was easier than I imagined too.
  • I did miss watching the current show I’m hooked onto (This is Us) a wee bit.
  • I listened to a TON of music, like this is 1999, 2003, or 2006 or one of those phases in my life. And I was ODing on a most unlikely band – Imagine Dragons. I’m not even sure I want to admit to this in public, but there you go.
  • On average, I sleep 6.5-7 hours each night. All through this week, I managed a nice 7-7.5 hours each night. There was at least one night where a slept a beautiful 8 hours. This is partly because of not checking my phone before bedtime (which I have reduced lately) and more because I wasn’t reading in bed either.
  • My phone battery life has never been better.
  • All week, I didn’t read through some random parenting article (thanks to the FB groups that I check once in a while more often than I care to admit) and feel like a terrible mother.
  • Not having ads chase me everywhere – enticing me to look at beautiful and ridiculously expensive clothes that I won’t buy, but will still go click through and look at on the site and then close window feeling smug about not wanting to buy it – was a great feeling as well.
  • I didn’t miss reading my books too much, but was a bit bummed that I couldn’t rightaway start reading from the stash that arrived with my parents right this week. So I was happiest to dive right in once the week ended.
  • It’s been two days and I’ve checked Instagram/FB only a couple of times, Twitter not at all, and probably won’t for a long time. I am blissfully reluctant to go back to all that social media noise.
  • I got a satisfyingly good amount of work done
  • Chores that I thought I might get around to finally – only one or two got done.
  • Finally, and this has been the most revealing insight for me from the week – it made me step back and take a look at how much time I spend reading online, starting with some stray thought in my head, which I then go on to Google. And bam, I’m lost in the great Internet black hole. It’s not so much the amount of time I spend on chasing an idea or a thought, but how often I would do it. It adds up. I would be in the middle of something, and then would get distracted by a thought, Google it and then that’s a good 10 or 15 or 20 minutes wasted. Rinse, repeat. Examples -I’d look at my withering Jade plant and want to look up tips to revive it. Down rabbit hole for 10 minutes. (And this actually happened inadvertently during my reading deprivation week !) Or, like today, my hip joint is feeling a bit sore, so I google hip flexor stretches. Next thing I know, I nearly clicked through to an article on how to do splits. Such rubbish behaviour, arghh.

The wonderful realisation that dawned on me when I was telling a friend about this week, was that I had actually single-tasked for most part of the week, and it was wonderful. My brain wasn’t overloaded with a bazillion thoughts all the time and it was good to slow down and be quiet. I hope that I will carry these lessons forward and keep myself from falling back into my old habits. Aside from the obvious effects, I’m sure my  brain (and the rest of my body) will thank me for ceasing the endless chatter.

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My week of Reading Deprivation (part 1)

November 4, 2017

Reading deprivation is an exercise in Week 4 of The Artist’s Way. (More about the book here. I’ll just say that for a book that was written 25 years ago, it is wonderfully relevant and a must-read).


It is as drastic as it seems – no reading, for a week, and in this age, it automatically means no social media either. The idea is that once you control how much information you consume, the outflow (what you create) will see a drastic improvement as well. ‘It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distraction we are actually filling the well,’ writes Julia Cameron in the book. And how true that is, I was to find out.

I’ve become a big fan of the Morning Pages that she recommends in her book, and I love how it helps me feel more sorted in my head for the day ahead. I believe this routine of writing my Morning pages, despite the 30 minutes time taken each morning, has had a great impact on me as a individual, a parent and as an artist.

Barely a third of the book down, and I love it already. Naturally, I was excited to try this Reading deprivation exercise. No reading and no media meant three things out for me instantly for a week – general internet reading, Instagram and watching stuff online.

In the past I have tried to be more conscious about my reading habits online in particular, and how I end up clicking on one mildly interesting link after another and soon I’m far down the rabbit hole and 20 minutes have flown past. This has been only awareness, and I haven’t done much to curb it until now.

And there’s Instagram. That beautiful time-sink filled with beautiful art (my timeline!) and a bunch food and other photographs. I love the medium for how much amazing art there is out there, and I hate it for how often I’m mindlessly scrolling through posts, Liking posts and then mildly feeling inadequate about my own skills or my parenting, or my life, or rolling my eyes at someone’s pretentiousness. I’ve deleted the app for a week at a time twice in the past and this has greatly made a difference to how frequently I used the app. I scroll past a few posts and close the app now, I don’t try and catch up with all. And yet, I would find myself frequently and idly picking up the phone and scrolling through.

Coming to the third, my guilty pleasure. Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve lately gotten into the habit of binge-watching stuff, especially when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve too much thought. Like exercising, or even painting, at times. Not good.

So, the reading deprivation was a good thing for me to try, clearly. And since this post is getting too long already, I’ll talk about how the week went in part 2.

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The little things 

July 5, 2017

  

Nearly two weeks back, we just moved to a new apartment. Long day, and the movers left only at about 8.30pm. We were tired and headed out for dinner. Itchy throats, hence we ordered some tea with dinner. Now, you know how when you order a masala tea and many of these places bring your hot water and a tea bag and a milk in a cute little jug on the side? I offered that milk to A. I don’t know what it was, but that just got her RIDICULOUSLY excited. Maybe she reeeeally wanted some milk or maybe she didn’t expect any or maybe she was just tired, but she.just.began.to.jump up and down in excitement and kept yelling YAY MILK!! And man, that scene JUST lifted up my spirits like nothing else. 

This amazing ability to find infinite delight in the little things is probably the absolute best thing about children. As adults we’re jaded, seen-it-all, done-it-all, but being around small children who haven’t yet lost that ability to go batshit crazy-happy over the tiniest things is just ❤️❤️❤️ I wish I could bottle up that moment forever to revisit it and to remind myself to find that sort of joy in the smallest of things. Especially when I’m whining and complaining about something. For now, this sketch and post is the closest I can do 🙂

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Z: Zero Waste Lifestyle

May 1, 2017

This ( link) is a term I came across sometime last year, and I’m quite amazed by the idea of it. The very fact that there are people who actually manage to do this on an everyday basis is quite astounding to me.

Think about it, there’s so much trash that gets generated with each action we take. We wake up in the morning and brush our teeth. There’s waste in terms of the toothpaste tube we toss out after it’s empty, the carton it comes in, and then the toothbrush itself that we toss out when it’s past it’s time. Of course, there’s a good chance of all this getting recycled, but in a country like India, especially in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad where Waste management is a disaster, I have no such hopes.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Takeaway food in disposable containers, mineral water bottles, groceries, packaged food, milk packets/cartons, tissues and sanitary pads and tampons – there so many things that we just use and throw with barely a thought of what happens to it after we discard. My pet peeve is the not-so-new thing at Indian weddings – small mineral water bottles at EVERY meal for about 200-300 people, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’re so Eco-friendly with the plantain leaves that we eat those meals on, but the bottles?! So much is sacrificed in the name of convenience.

I’m quite unlikely to implement the totally zero-waste lifestyle, mainly because I don’t see myself making my own soap or toothpaste any time soon, but I do hope I can make baby steps towards a reduced-waste lifestyle.

I do carry a bag every time I go grocery shopping, and refuse to put vegetables in those individual bags for weighing, as far as possible, but I’ll be conscious of the choices I make in the store to further this. When I do take those small plastic bags, I’ll make sure I reuse them till they fall apart.

I’ve mostly cloth-diapered A in her infancy, and I’m glad I was able to do that. But I’m still quite on the fence about menstrual cups, but I think will give it a shot this year. Worst case I’ll hate it and switch back. If not, imagine the amount of trash I’m saving each month with just that one change!

And I’ve discovered that someone sells bamboo toothbrushes in India, how utterly cool is that!

And finally, clothes. I’ve pretty much stopped buying stuff that’s cheaply made, or ‘Fast fashion’ brands (I avoid non-made in India stuff as far as I can, no Mango, Zara etc) but I’m yet to achieve success in having a really small wardrobe. I did some major culling once last year, but again it’s looking quite full. With a move of apartments around the corner, this is perhaps a good time to do this again and hopefully, sustain it.

A friend of mine told me she did  once went on a no-shopping experiment for a year. Unless it’s essentials. I think I can do this, at least with clothes. I think I’m set for a year already, but perhaps I’ll evaluate the wardrobe once more before I make that grand decision. Yes, it’s a plan 🙂

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V: Village

April 26, 2017

The kind that they say it takes to raise a child, I mean.

Only lately have I begun to realise the actual implications of the nuclear family life. Yes I know, quite late in life. At the risk of sounding like a self-centred <your choice of expletive here>, only after I’ve had a baby, I’ve truly understood why the whole joint family structure made sense once upon a time. And what it truly means when they say, It takes a village.

For one, there’s tons of wisdom, tried and tested through the ages that would’ve been available on demand, or even unsolicited, take it or leave it. Instead of turning to the Internet at the drop of a hat, there would be grandparents, in the flesh, telling you what to do and what not to do from years of experience. Instead of second-guessing your every decision, or asking strangers (well-meaning, I’m sure) on the Internet for advice, there would be loads of advice freely available at home. Yes, there’s always the phone and people you can turn to for advice, but I don’t know, we do seem to rely on the Internet a lot more, because it’s convenient.

Secondly, the child has a lot more exposure to family than during the occasional weekend or holiday when the family visits happen. And these additional helping hands are invaluable, be it in cases where both parents are working, or even when one of the parents stays home all day. The whole business of taking care of the child and engaging with her is shared across more than an adult or two. Which means a lot less stress on the primary caregiver.

I also think the child will grow with a lot more passed-down wisdom from the grandparents and learn to deal with different points of view. And of course, stories! Who better than the grandparents to regale them with stories of their parents’ childhood, and other fun stories in general?

And then, if there are other children in the house? That much more fun for the children, then 🙂

Of course, all of this applies as long as the adults all see eye to eye on most relevant matters and have healthy respect for each others’ choices and each other’s space. The lack of it of course is probably the main reason families move away, apart from the standard reasons like jobs, proximity to workplace, schools etc.

I wonder if in the future we’ll go back a full circle and joint families will be more the norm than the exception. Will we all evolve sufficiently to learn to live with each others’ differences, make suitable compromises and co-exist peacefully? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Edited to add: Of course, on further thought, I’m guessing it will be complicated. For one, I’m not all for the newly married couple moving into the groom’s house simply because that’s how it has been for centuries. So much patriarchy at play. So when I mean a joint family, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. It would be nice if both sets of parents live close by, so the whole joint family feeling is still fostered, perhaps? Sounds Utopian, I know. Hmm.

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U: Unfiltered thoughts / Updates

April 25, 2017

It’s bedtime and I’m all ready type out a short post and go to sleep. My A-Z Illustration Challenge is all but done, tomorrow is the last one! I didn’t take Sundays off on that one so I’m done a good four days earlier. Quite relieved I’ll have one less thing on my plate until the end of April. I’m looking at you, A-Z blogging challenge.

And four more days of it to go. V, W, X, Y and Z. Argh, that’s five. True to my usual style, I haven’t a clue what to blog about for any of the rest. I do wish I hadn’t taken up both the Illustration challenge and this one at the same time, in retrospect. I would’ve done more justice, I think. 

Someone on my Instagram posted a picture of Florence and man, I so want to go back there. All those students walking about, sitting around sketching. Re-visit the museums, go back to that hilltop where we waited for the sunset, drinking cheap wine and drawing the Duomo and the view in my little sketchbook. Such good times and what a great city to study art in. Sigh! 

My Mom’s birthday is coming up and given the fact that she’s here, I’m wondering what to do on the day. Hmm.

I’m glad to be blogging though because it’s good to go back and read archives from two years ago and realise that I’ve forgotten so much stuff already. I do hope I can get back to the blog at least once a month. 

This thinking out loud style is what my old blog was mostly about I think. I should really go back and re-visit it soon. Yes I might cringe and cringe but I should do it anyway. 

Over and out. 

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T: Tools of Titans

April 24, 2017

That’s the name of the book by Tim Ferriss that I’m currently reading and quite enjoying. It’s essentially a compilation of the highlights of interviews of people from various walks of life (in his words, world-class performers) from his podcast, which I’ve been listening to for a couple of months now. On his podcast, Ferriss has this very casual interview, which is more like a chat with all these cool, interesting people from a really diverse range of fields, on topics like their morning routines, fitness, productivity, books, etc. So the book is distilled version of the podcast and it features people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adams, Cheryl Strayed, Maria Popova, Brene Brown and then a whole bunch of other people who I’ve never even heard of, but some of whom pique my interest enough to go look them up next.

Even though his podcast is supposedly a ‘Business podcast’ and the book delves into the tools and tactics of ‘billionaires’, I’m glad I decided to give it a shot and try both when a friend recommended it. Especially, the book. Maybe it’s the phase of life or frame of mind that I am in these days, but a lot of quotes/ advice in the book seem especially relevant to me. In fact, I don’t know of a book where I’ve gone about highlighting so many parts (on my Kindle) as I have, in this book.

So, here are some favourite bits from the book –

Seth Godin – “I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.’

Chuck Close, an American artist – “Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will— through work— bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.”

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it….”

And this line from the book, which is actually a Zen mantra –  ‘Sit, sit. Walk, walk. Don’t wobble.‘ is something I probably need tattooed on my hand or some place where I can ALWAYS see it.

Apart from so much learning, the book has also given me a bunch of other stuff to look up, the people who feature in the book, a bunch of books to read, music to check out. And to think, I’m not even done with 50% of the book!

Okay, I’m done gushing.