Running Genie, Grant These Wishes!

Today’s post is a super fun link-up with PattyErika, and Marcia for their ‘Tuesdays on the Run‘ series. It’s about three wishes for the running genie. I definitely have a couple of them. But, I was able to pick out my top three ones to ask him. Do check out their posts and a bunch of other bloggers for what we, as a running community wish for.

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First Wish – No Injuries
Hey genie, with my first half-marathon around the corner, I feel so blessed to have come this far in my training. Everything is going as scheduled. There are good days, there are bad days. My top most wish to you would be to fly me through the rest of training with no injuries. Being a ‘heavy’ runner, it was one of my apprehensions to join the sport. I am always in awe of my growing strength each day. Let those slight twinges here and there, be just in my head. 

Second Wish – Mental Strength
Hey genie, you know what all this is about. After all, you think and believe in it, in order for you to will it. I usually go out with a positive attitude that I can do it. But, you know. I am human and sometimes, that’s always not the case. On race day, could you give me the best possible mental grit. I am also going to work on it until then. But, just add your magic to it too please. 

Third Wish – Spread The Love
Hey genie, if my other two were just wishes, you can call this my command. It took me 26 years to start running and there are absolutely no regrets about joining in the love so late. Better late than never, am I right? Words can’t describe how much positivity and self-esteem this sport has given me. But, I am having a hard time convincing my friends (the real life ones) about how awesome this sport is. Could you just get them started please? I am trying! Just a little nudge from your end will do wonders. 

As always, love you running genie!

If the running genie were to grant you 3 running wishes, what would they be?

*****

Dear Half-Marathoner (#002)

Wondering what all these letters are? Check out my first letter to myself for more details. Every week, I shall be writing a letter to the future half-marathoner of 26 March 2017, sending out good vibes, keeping her training in check and overall pushing her from today until race day. Hope you enjoy it!

I’m linking up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC for her Training Recap linkup and HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap! Do check out their training and other bloggers for some real inspiration!

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(Logo courtesy)

Dear 26 March Self,

Today’s my second letter to you. In 6 weeks (wait, is it five?), you’ll be tip toeing to the start line of your first half-marathon. I know 6 weeks sounds so close. But, look at how far you have come in the past 6 weeks. The night before your first 8 miler, you were freaking out. You were behind your training schedule A LOT… You missed a 6-miler and a 7-miler. Thanks to those holidays! At this stage, you were planning to give up on training (and get an early refund) because you didn’t have any hope. Three miles was still a struggle for you. But, look at all that you have you accomplished this week:

Monday:
What better way to start my week with some good earned rest. It was a day for an easy run. But, considering you were going to be off on Wednesday, you decided to just enjoy a rest day after work and get in some piano lessons for relaxation.

Tuesday:
Hill repeats: Yeah, we have a love-hate relationship with hills. They make me want to kill my coach, but all said and done, but I bet you’ll be so thankful for these on race day. Overall you did great! You did 3x different hills, each twice – fast run uphill and slow jog downhill. Light easy run as you shuffled between each hill. A total of roughly 2.68 miles. You definitely felt so much stronger compared to last month when you did them and couldn’t get past 5 hill repeats.

Wednesday:
Ahhhhh – your day off from work. Remember how you enjoyed this day so much! It’s always alright to take a pause when life becomes overwhelming. Give yourself all that self-love that you deserve. You’ll only come back stronger and braver. The plan was to do Monday’s easy run today. You thought 4 miles – not bad, I can get that done. The good weather and the properly fueled breakfast (with coffee of course), lead it to a solid tempo run.
Warm up: 1.48 miles @17:49/mile
Tempo: 1.35 miles @14:44/mile –> How did that happen?
Cool down: 1.53 miles @16:51/mile

Thursday:
This weather has got to stop fluctuating! You felt feverish all over and decided to skip your easy run for this week.

Friday:
Mandatory rest day! It’s alright you missed an easy 4-mile run on Thursday. You can always make up for it. I made sure to eat really healthy and drink loads of fluids in preparation for your tomorrow’s long run. Also, good 8 hours of solid sleep. You’ll thank me tomorrow.

Saturday:
Long Run by the Baltimore Promenade. You’ve run this route a bunch of times. And yet, hugging the water as you run, makes it so much easier. It was a quasi cutback week. So, you did 8 miles @15:52/mile in 2:06:59
Splits –> 14:37, 15:38, 17:32, 16:09, 16:04, 15:21, 15:53, 15:45/mile
We need to have some serious talk on those uneven splits. And what’s with taking your first mile that fast? That’s faster than your 5k pace.

Sunday:
Well, this recovery run hasn’t yet happened as I write this letter to you. You’re in need of some motivation. But, I promise you, once this blog post is up, you’ll be doing either a 30 min recovery run or 30 min of yoga for some relaxation.

Overall, you felt happy about the week. You didn’t obsess about missing a run. Good job on keeping it cool. Great hill repeats. Solid tempo run of 14:44/mile. That’s your 5k pace. Good job on that. Your long run was definitely a huge confidence booster. But, could you please learn how to pace better? If not, at least start off conservatively. You did feel amazing after your long run, in spite of the fast start. Thumbs up on that! You had absolutely no soreness. Double thumbs up on that. It just shows that in order to achieve anything, you got to put in all the hard work that you can. There are no shortcuts in training! You ran your long run at half-marathon pace. Good job on that! But, slow down next week so that you don’t blow yourself out at the end. Next week is not easy girl. It’s 12 solid miles. For the first time ever. So be good about your food and water throughout the week. Take each day as it comes. You have two more super heavy weeks of running, before it’s taper time. So, be smart and cautious! You’re almost there. 

Love,
Your T-6 weeks self

PS: You don’t know Math. It’s 5 weeks until your half-marathon. Not six.

*****

It’s alright to pause…

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity!”
– Katrina Mayer

Yesterday was one of those ‘perfect’ days. Not because I did it all. But because, I didn’t do anything at all. I took a day off from work (thanks to my vacation days expiring). After a long Monday and an even longer Tuesday, I didn’t want to plan tasks ahead of time for my day off. Instead, I decided to wait until the sun was sighted at the horizon and spend the day by feel.

Breakfast Time:
The day started off with treating myself to some good breakfast and coffee. That’s always my go-to stress buster – taking the time out for some breakfast, unplugged from humanity, but deeply plugged into my thoughts. Here’s a little teaser for what I usually do when I’m in the zone! Once a breakfast person, always a breakfast person!!!

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Parents Time:
Post breakfast, I had a nice long chat with my parents on Skype. Of course, my mom ridiculed my new haircut. Typical mother-daughter relationship! It felt so good to chat with them without the restriction of time. We don’t realize it, but as we get older, so are they. And for all that they’ve done for us, all they ask from us is our time (Yes, they read this blog….Or I think so…. I’m hoping all this public praising will lead to a generous gift to their daughter).

Run Time:
As a runner, the first thought we have when we have a day off is……extra time to run! And that’s exactly what I did. The weather was perfect at 10 am. Repped my a day ‘old’ Charm City Run top and made a trip to Lake Montebello. The serenity of water bodies always warms my heart. Planned for a nice easy run. But, it ended up being a solid tempo run. More on that in my next half-marathon letter to myself. I guess, performance increases automatically when you’re calm and composed.

 

Productivity Time:
Those pumped up endorphins after the run definitely was put to good use. It’s been a 6-month cleaning marathon at my place. Thanks to the Marie Kondo’s decluttering techniques (more on that sometime soon). I, finally, had the time to give away 6 bags of stuff that l’ll probably never use. If you haven’t heard of her, do check out her book. It’s definitely life changing! She’s a genius, to say the least.

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Dinner Time:
The highlight of the evening! I like trying out new recipes and treating myself every now and then. The feeling of whipping up something good is SO satisfying – for the heart and the tummy. Time, energy and motivation – all aligned yesterday! And the result was Red Thai Curry with Tofu. Totally hit the spot! Yes, it took me longer to take the perfect ‘Instagram’ pic than actually making it. Like the icing on an already perfect day, my very close friend and confidant dropped by. It’s been about 4 months since we met and it felt so refreshing to just chat about life. It was slightly late, yet perfect Galentine’s Date with her. She’s still alive, so I’m going to call dinner a hit!

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Self-love, although outwardly might seem like a vanity based affair, it is but in fact, the best gift you can give yourself. It’s alright to take a pause in life, every once in a while. Doesn’t mean you shirk your duties. Even taking 10 minutes a day to do what makes your soul content, can go a long way in boosting your outward productivity. We’re constantly like little bees buzzing around to bring out the sweetness in our lives. But, even a bee has to pause momentarily before it can produce the ambrosial honey. By giving yourself the love you deserve, your inner being is suffused with love to give out as well. After all, can you really pour out of an empty cup?

*****

Dear Half-Marathoner (#001)

It’s no secret that I am training for my first half-marathon. For many a days, I toyed with the idea of whether to blog about my training or not. I mean, it’s just regular miles being logged in. Plus, I wasn’t sure if training logs from a (super) slow runner like me will benefit anyone. But, nevertheless, I decided to start this week. I believe in writing my goals to make them happen. And in this tech savvy world, writing = blogging, am I right? Every week, I shall be writing a letter to the future half-marathoner of 26 March 2017, sending out good vibes, keeping her training in check and overall pushing her from today until race day. Hope you enjoy it!

I’m linking up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC for her Training Recap linkup and HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap! Do check out their training and other bloggers for some real inspiration!

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(Logo courtesy)

Dear 26 March Self,

Today’s my first ever letter to you. In 7 weeks, you’ll be tip toeing to the start line of your first half-marathon. You’ve spent the last 24 hours really really really (like for real) doubting yourself. If you’ll ever be in any close shape to reach the finish line of your first half-marathon. If you were a big dumbo to sign up for it. If it’s high time to call it a day and back out. If you’ll look stupid doing so after all that rant on social media. What were you thinking? You and half-marathon? Not even remotely your forte. But this week, you flushed all those doubts out of your system once and for before D-day. This whole thing is getting real. Look at what all you accomplished this week:

Monday:
Easy Run; 4 miles @16:14/mile (1:04:57)
After all that self-doubt over the weekend, you felt so strong today. You even did a 14:42 third mile. You go gal!

Tuesday:
6x 400m repeats around the park – 14:20, 14:03, 13:32, 14:05, 13:38, 13:53
Holy moly! You felt even stronger than yesterday, especially after a super long day, you were so sure this run would be horrible, but look at you.

Wednesday:
Mandatory rest day – you know how I like making you take them really seriously right? I treated you to some good self-pampering manicure.

Thursday:
Tempo run day – You felt crappy all over. Thanks to having four back-to-back 12 hour days. You just wanted to rest it up and binge on some Netflix. And I decided to honor your body today. I’ve been making you run around a lot lately (pun totally intended). The extra rest day today will make you feel much better for Saturday’s long run.

Friday:
Mandatory rest day! The entire day was spent exercising trying to exercise my positive mindset in anticipation for your tomorrow’s long run.

Saturday:
Long Run by Loch Raven Reservoir
10.02 miles @17:54/mile in 2:59:20 (Fastest mile: 16:04)
You planned to do 12 miles. But, since it was super hilly, you decided to have 10 quality miles than 12 crappy miles. Definitely slower than what you intended, but with a 523 ft elevation gain, weren’t you glad I got at least 10 done? Remember how super sore you were after running 10 miles on 19 Jan (your first 10-miler). Look at you today feeling so strong and badass! You even went to work straight and then met up with friends, without feeling like death.

Sunday:
Recovery Run – 30 minutes with some peppy Bollywood tunes (1.74 miles @17:26)

Overall, you did great this week. You hydrated really well! You got almost all your runs in, except your tempo run on Thursday. All quality runs you’re happy about. You didn’t give up on yourself at all. Stop all this self doubt right now. Run now. Fear later. Also, you’re good at your pre-run dynamic stretches. How about you become a bit more serious about your post-run foam rolling. Agreed, you’re not feeling as sore as before when you first started running, but nonetheless, you’ve upped your mileage like crazy in the past 8 weeks. Enjoy every run and every moment of this training. I know you are already and happily surprised by all that you’re capable of doing. You’re currently stronger than you’ve ever been. Love life and keep running!

Love,
Your T-7 weeks self

*****

The Ultimate Coffee Date (Feb 2017)

Is it February already? The number guys say that amongst people who make new year resolutions, only 58.4% make it past one month (Source). Let’s say, I might be one among the 41.6% – if not completely, at least partly. Blogging – writing everyday and posting at least once a week, SO did not happen! Turns out my previous post was the January edition of the ultimate coffee date. Yes my readers, that was the plan….to give you all good continuity (*wink wink).

Join me in my second ever coffee date with Coco and Deb and some
awesome bloggers and get to know what everyone’s up to!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
I am a Nuunbassador! That’s the highlight and an amazing kick start to the year 2017. I
t feels overwhelmingly humbling to be a teeny tiny part of the Nuun Universe or Nuuniverse (#NuunJargon), amongst so many fantastic athletes!! I feel like a tiny drop in this vast ocean (pun totally intended). If you still don’t know what is Nuun (pronounced like moon with an ‘n’. Oh wait! That’s like the word ‘noon’), head out to their website and check out their amazing products. I know I am using them (extensively) for my first half-marathon training – during my long runs, tempo runs, good runs, bad runs and non-run days to hydrate myself and keep my electrolyte balance in check. Basically, to not pass out at work. Haha! My favorites are hands down Lemony Lime and Blueberry Pomegranate. And yes, if you have to know, I already used abused my ambassador discount. (*wink)

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(Did I also mention that Team Nuun is the first one I am a part of) 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
Speaking of half-marathon training, I had my first double digit run of this lifetime! 10 miles! Still feels surreal. It definitely bolstered my conviction that ‘I can do it’. It may seem hard. Life may be busy all the time because of training. But, at the end of the day, I know it’s all going to be worth it for that one moment of triumph of my own belief over my fears. It’s pretty intimidating for a total newbie runner like me. So, accepting only positive vibes and any good advice until then. I definitely couldn’t do it if I didn’t have the support of ‘Charm City Run‘. Now I know, why they were awarded the best in the business in 2016.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
That work conference I was telling you about in Palm Springs, CA, went REALLY well. They had good scientific sessions and I definitely got to network with loads of Mass Spectrometric experts and geeks like me. My work was well appreciated, too well appreciated I would say. A $100 award in the poster contest – not too shabby for me. I am eyeing a good deep tissue massage this month. Did I already tell you that everything hurts during half marathon training including body areas I didn’t know existed? 

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
Speaking of being tired all the time, my current mantra for anything in life right now couldn’t be better described than this pair of socks! Snagged this cutesy stuff in downtown Palm Springs (Nope, sadly didn’t get to meet the Obamas!). One day…one day!! A girl is allowed to dream right?

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
I know I know….it’s been too much of half-marathon talk off late. It’s a disease (albeit a healthy one). But, something non-running related for now. I started piano lessons this week. I have always wanted to learn the piano! Especially after learning the harmonium for 6 long years, I knew that piano was my next musical call. In life, I’ve started to believe in and asking myself, ‘If not now, then when?‘ Definitely had a piano expert as friend who motivated me to get started on it. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
I am hoping that February turns out to be a good training month for me. The plan is simple, which is to stick to the plan and just run. When there is no motivation, look through Instagram posts of total strangers or watch Kelly‘s ‘BQ or Bust’ videos or just read through my favorite magnet (snagged at downtown Manhattan) and remind myself each day that ‘I Got This‘. 

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*****

If we were having coffee…..

It’s no secret that I like love coffee. I mean, who doesn’t? With 2017 already well in (is it already 10 days?), my one major goal was to blog more often. Writing is definitely cathartic and I actually love writing. Talking to real humans is too much work. I decided what better way to kick start this week of blogging than joining Coco and Deb on ‘The Ultimate Coffee Date‘. Do check out their blogs and other link-up blogs to get to know what everyone’s upto!

The Ultimate Coffee Date

 

Now sit back and relax! Let me pour you a cup of Madhuri’s special coffee (where half my salary is spent on) and chat on my life’s happenings:

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
It’s no secret that I am currently training for my first half marathon. But, what is a secret (until now) was that I was doubting my decision of signing up for the race A LOT! I mean, 13 miles felt like only 13 miles when I signed up in September. For the last 2 weeks especially, I have been on the fence about it. Even 2 miles was hard hard hard work! But, Saturday came and everything changed. Long story short, I ran 8 miles for the first time ever and that too, without a break and with not so favorable climactic conditions. Can I just put my humbleness aside for a minute and call myself a freaking Badass!! It definitely renewed my spirits and now I truly believe, it was stupid of me to lose confidence this early in the game. I still need to log in more miles and more
hours of happy running, before I tip toe to that start line. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
After my amazing run on Saturday, what stopped running was my dear phone. Guess she needs her rest days too! For the past four days, I’ve been this gal of the modern age, living in the stone age. No phone!!! I mean, what is society going to think of me? I am a social pariah!! Oh no…my life is verily over! Just kidding. It hasn’t been all that bad. Of course, there are mild adjustments to be made. But, it feels sooooo good to be disconnected. I still do check social media and my emails (I wouldn’t sound this upbeat about the whole situation if my phone and computer crashed on the same day). It has indeed felt positively different to pause on this split brain attention that we have. The constant drift from our focus when the phone buzzes with notifications!!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
You would think I was super productive over this weekend, with no phone and being snowed in for the most part. Partially true. I spent the rest of my Saturday resting up from my long run and binging ‘heavily’ on Madam Secretary on Netflix!! Sunday was spent creatively making and editing a video for this service organization I belong to. I love cutting myself off from the whole world and delving into my creative side. Always re-assuring to know that I have figured out this whole adult life and I am extremely sure of my ‘back-up’ career.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
Speaking of snow, I am more than excited to be headed off to Palm Springs, CA next week. The thoughts of bright sunshine and hard rocky mountains and the opportunity to run outside without any of those winter paraphernalia….ahhhhh it’s already giving me the warmth! Relax Madhuri, you still have 4 more months of hard core winter left.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…

I am enjoying 2017 thus far. I’ve decided not to fret about the little things and not to beat myself up when I don’t achieve the so-called Madhuri’s perfection! Just taking one day at a time, doing what ticks my heart at that moment (for example, writing this post mostly about running instead of actually running) and just smiling! 🙂

To more coffee dates in 2017!

******

 

From 2016 to 2017

2016 – the year it was!!! The year I became interested in this whole fitness thing, started my blog, co-authored a book chapter, graduated from an illustrious international youth leadership program, had my painting selected to be a part of a permanent display at Hopkins, started meditating, started bullet journaling, got to see Adele live in concert, had the opportunity to be a part of a blog hop and meet fellow bloggers, celebrated my 5 year anniversary in Baltimore, spent quality time with family, to name a few. It was also a year of some pain. But, that’s life I guess. It comes with its ups and downs. After all, even a straight line on an ECG doesn’t indicate life. 

Shoutout to the #bestnine2016 feature available for use on instagram for collating some of my most cherished moments pictorially. 

 

While 2016 was a year when I achieved several personal goals I set for myself, it also largely helped regroup my thoughts, my priorities, delineate my needs and wants in a better fashion and achieve an overall balance in life. It taught me that life is always going to be busy. But, taking the time to do what makes your heart tick goes a long way in your overall well being. 

2017 is going to be no less! More goals, more inspiration and more energy to attack the year ahead. So, here goes my blog post of goals for the year 2017 (how original are we bloggers!). 

HEALTH:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in”

  1. Eating healthy and wholesome food: Basically eating food made up of real ingredients and made in my very own kitchen, with the occasional cheat day.
  2. Hydrating well: I am one of those who never remembers to drink water. I mean, it’s too much work. I did buy some pretty cute water bottles. Anything to help me work towards this goal.
  3. Working out: This seems to be easier now. My fear is life will get busy and it will take a set back. Training for my first half marathon is definitely keeping me on track (for now).
  4. Headspace: Health is definitely a triple alliance of the mind, body and soul. While my top three goals concentrate more on the physical aspects, using headspace (this amazing app for meditation) has definitely helped me achieve good mental health as well. I love headspace, yet I never seem to do it every day. I definitely do it on stressed out days. But, it makes me wonder, if I’d have fewer stressful days if I did meditate regularly. Maybe?

HOBBIES:
“Being creative is not a hobby. It’s a way of life”

  1. Reading: The best thing about my long commute is that it has renewed my interest in reading. Fiction, non-fiction, blogs, etc. Anything! I really enjoy the 20-30 minutes I get to read on my commute, and my goal for 2017, would be to keep up with it.
  2. Music: Ahhhh! This was something that definitely fell off the bandwagon in 2016. My sole priority was health and rest all came secondary. I love singing and scaring off my neighbors. I love playing my harmonium and waking up all the stray dogs. Yet, I never found myself willfully going back to it. To kickstart this year, I signed up for piano lessons. Hoping to hear back soon!
  3. Art: 2016 was definitely a good year in this aspect. I touched that paint brush after 9 years (read about it here and here). But, as the year winded down, this took a set back and I found myself doodling, but never doing anything constructive. Painting those intricate strokes definitely helps take the mind off the “hardships” of adult life.
  4. Blogging: A good advise I received from being part of Kristy‘s blog hop was that, to be a better writer, you need not post an article everyday. But, you will have to write everyday. I usually find myself searching for a huge chunk of time to sit and write an article. Some of those days click. Some don’t. But, in 2017, even if it’s a short paragraph, I would love to sit down for 10 minutes a day and write something. Anything. Regardless whether I publish it or trash it.

CHARACTER:
“Be more concerned with your character than reputation. Because, your character is who you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are”

  1. No complaining/More gratitude: I plan to have a one-line-a-day policy to list out my reason for a simple thank you to the universe for that day. I have done it in the past and it always feels heartening to go back to it several months later when life feels lull. The no complaining and have more gratitude kind of go hand and hand.
  2. Ego check: The head can swell at a pretty rapid rate. The saddest part is you don’t feel the swell until it reaches a stage where it can’t swell any longer. I guess, 2017 would include being more conscious about my ego and tame the arrogance.
I am so excited to see what 2017 can bring for me! With renewed hope, fresh optimism and extra bundles of motivation, I am ready to start 2017. Are you?  So, what are your goals for 2017?

*****

 

Thinking Out Loud – 02

Hola! In case you were wondering if I were alive, I shall let you know…. I am!!! It’s been almost 2 whole months since this blogger posted on her very own blog. Let’s just say for now, that I was wallowing in my own life’s whirlpool. Today’s post is a ‘thinking out loud’ post of the small pleasures that have come my way in the recent past.

Black Friday Shopping Spree: I say it to myself every year that it’s a scam and yet, I find myself checking out awesome deals each year. So much for self-restraint. I definitely gave into my temptation (not a lot) and jumped to grab the Alexa Echo Dot. She wakes me up each day, she sings for me, she puts me to bed, she reminds me of errands to run, she cracks me up, she soothes my mind, etc etc. It’s almost like you don’t need a partner at home if you have her. Need I say any more?

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Bullet Journaling: Although it’s been 4 months since I got started, I am still addicted to my Bullet Journal. Check out my post on how to get started if you haven’t yet. It’s the one thing I can rely on to keep me in check and all of life’s happenings, yet not getting me too distracted from my daily goals. Always be a GOAL digger!

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Quiet Days of Reflections: Among the hustle bustle of life, some days, you just need to put a pause on everything revolving around you, and kick back with a good book and a cup of coffee. This really cute bookshop cum coffee place opened near my place, and I have been so excited! Check out ‘Bird in Hand‘ if you haven’t yet.

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Christmas at NYC: Traveling for the holidays was the last thing that was on my mind. The last minute plans are indeed the best plans. New York City was decked up in all its glory – so much festivity and lights galore. Even if you didn’t celebrate christmas, just seeing everyone come together and spend quality time with loved ones, was what NYC symbolized. That electricity bill that will be be around the corner! And we thought, only we had to foot expensive bills.

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nyc-xmas

Secret Santa Presents: Speaking of christmas, this year, we did secret santa at my workplace. While it’s fun to receive presents (obviously!), it was all the more fun to spend time to carefully pick out gifts for others, wrap them up with the fanciest of wrappers, and also, wait to see the expressions of anticipation and surprise as everyone opened theirs. On a totally side note, that’s what I got!

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Holiday Cards: Whatever happened to the old fashioned ways of sending greeting cards to one and all with an added special personal touch. I love sending out holidays greetings to my loved ones and co-workers, right before the start of the holidays. I must confess (publicly on my blog), it completely slipped my mind this year until my brother sent out his. Like this amazing sister that I am, I totally stole his lines and to top it all, made him make a card for me too. Hey hey, it was easy for him. All he had to do was change the first name. After all, what are brothers for!

I leave you with some good wishes for the exciting year ahead!

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Linking up with Amanda’s TOL series. Do check out her cute blog when you get a chance.

*****

 

 

So what’s this Bullet Journal thing?

If you’re someone who has no time in life to set up a bullet journal, then you DEFINITELY need one!!!

I would assume by now, most of you are aware of what aBullet Journalis and have read several random articles online about why it’s super awesome. I could write 10 blog posts to go over why it’s the best productivity tool invented so far! Since I already know it’s awesome, let’s jump straight into the practical Do’s and Dont’s. This post shall be a simple rundown on how to set it up and get started on being your most productive self ever!!! With the holidays around the corner, there’s always a lot of lists lying around of things-to-do, things-to-buy, work to get done, etc etc. I hope this post helps you kick start on bullet journaling and alleviate some of the pre-holiday (and future life) stress. Grab that cup of coffee because this post ain’t gonna be short, my dear!

WHAT DO YOU NEED:
The simplest answer would be a book (which has dots of some sort) and a pen. I went with a Leuchtturm 1917 dotted (Emerald color) journal and a set of colored pens. #OCDalert


PAGES TO SET UP (BEGINNING):
There are certain main components to be set up at the start and a little planning might be needed.

  1. Index: The Leuchtturm 1917 comes with an index and numbered pages. If not, create at least 4-5 pages for it up front and number all your pages. 
  2. Symbols and Signifiers: You could use the ones on the original website or create ones that make more sense to you. Whatever you do, keep it as simple as you can.
  3. Future Log: Also called an Annual Log, use as many or as little pages as you want and write down all the 12 months of the year. The month you are currently in becomes the first month (Huge advantage: You don’t need to start a BuJo on January 1). My template has 4 pages – 3 months on each page. 
  4. Monthly Log: Exactly one page at the start of each month. List all dates and days in abbreviated form.

PAGES TO SET UP (ON-THE-GO):
Once the above components have been set up, you are all good to go. The remaining sections are filled up in real time. 

  1. Weekly Log: The number of pages you use up is all up to your schedule for the week. If it’s a rough week ahead, more pages. By the start of the week, we would get a good estimate of how many pages we need for it. 
  2. Daily Log: It can be part of your weekly log, unless you are a super busy person who needs a separate page for every single day to list appointments. I typically use two pages for a weekly log divided into 7 individual boxes for each day of the week. 
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Weekly cum Daily Log

WHAT CONTENT GOES IN: 
Every single aspect of your life. At the start, it might seem daunting to have everything in one place, but that’s what bullet journaling aims at – to make your life easier. My bullet journal is roughly divided into these sections that I allocate a weekly log for. Depending on the week, I allocate two pages for each section or one page per section. The flexibility in space to meet your weekly needs is what makes a bullet journal unique in comparison to regular planners.  

Personal: 
This is typically broad spectrum and you can amend it to suit your lifestyle. Some of the sections I include are:

  1. Those dreaded tasks: We all have those typical things-to-do (meal planning, laundry, groceries, paying off bills) and appointments to keep up with (PCP, dentist, eye).
  2. Health: To take note of the ‘food’ and ‘workout’ aspects of my health which keeps me in check.
  3. Non-work related work: Voluntary work that is different from professional work, but does come with deadlines to meet.
  4. Self improvement (skills): Tips and tricks I read online or from various resources to help me be better at certain tasks – like home improvement  (Spoilet alert: the Konmari method review coming up on the blog soon), or being a better cook, etc etc.
  5. Self improvement (person): I am constantly trying to improve on myself as a person with respect to qualities I portray like trying to be kinder, have more gratitude for life, being the person that would make even a smallest difference in someone’s life, etc. Sometimes Many a times we forget that we were rude to someone, or yelled at someone for no reason. 
  6. Things that satiate my soul: This is one area where I have personally experienced the most benefits from bullet journaling. In life, we always get caught up with deadlines and tasks that have to be done. And they always get done!!! But, we tend to put things in the back burner that really don’t have any deadline to meet or any immediate need. But, we need to allocate some ‘me’ time in life so that we are ‘sane’ the remaining times of the day. Stuff like reading a book or picking up a paint brush or sitting down to write a blog post are some of the stuff I have begun allocating time for. Haven’t you noticed I am sweeter and haven’t killed anyone coz of all that ‘me’ time I actually give myself?? Haha!

Professional:
This was a hard one to decide upon, if I wanted work to be included in my bullet journal. I did do a lot of research online before deciding. Some of the arguments were that having it helps achieve better work-life balance, some recommended having a separate bullet journal, some were against that idea due to a split brain situation, etc etc. 
I think it all depends on the kind of work you do. You would be the best judge to assess the confidentiality and privacy policies of your employer. My work log includes no specifics, but is more of a to-do list broken into various components: Things to setup, writing tasks, documentation to complete, things to report, follow up actions, deadlines to meet, etc. It helps me plan better and I feel less stressed out to get it all done.  

HOW TO WORK THROUGH IT:
Now that you have all your components setup, how do you work through your journal. Do you put your best friend’s birthday party in your future log or monthly log or weekly log or all of them. 

  1. When something is being planned that is not the current month:
    Taking a vacation in February, or signed up for a race in March, or your lease expires in July 2017 – write down the specific dates and times in your future log. This vastly helps in avoiding digging up information from your Gmail inbox.  
  2. When something is being planned that is the current month:
    On the first of each month, allocate a separate page for the month. Look into your future log and move information from the future log to the monthly log. Additionally, plans happen at the last minute that may never have made its mark in the future log. Write them down in the monthly log. 
  3. When something is being planned that is the current week:
    Make your weekly log spreads. Then look into the specific dates for that week in your monthly log and move that information from the monthly log to your weekly log. 

Note: I go uni-directionally only. If some event popped up in the last minute for this week, it goes directly into my weekly log for this week. I don’t go back to my monthly log and future log and fill it up since it seems redundant and wouldn’t help me much in planning. 

When something changes:
Plans always change! Coffee date with a friend moved from this Thursday to next Monday – if anyone knows me at all, you’ll know I hate scratching off what I have written. With bullet journaling, I don’t need to. I have allocated a specific symbol. All I got to do is add that symbol near what I have written for this week, to indicate that the event has moved and ensure that I have actually moved that information to next week. If I already have my weekly log set up for next week, I directly write it there. If it isn’t set up, it goes to the current monthly log.

How about stuff that has no deadline:
The ‘satiate my soul’ stuff like doesn’t come with deadlines. At the same time, I want to make sure that I make it happen more often than not. In such instances, I use my habit tracker that I have set up for each month. List all such activities and keep crossing it off as it gets done.

habit-tracker

Habit Tracker

OTHER TIPS:

  1. Always remember that the bullet journal is your thing: amend it to suit your needs, in order that you may be your most productive self. There are no set rules on how many pages you need, how big each of your box should be, etc. No two people have the same lifestyle – even if they live in the same house. 
  2. Content is primary, design is secondary: Being OCD and artsy, it can get really tempting to beautify each week’s spread with fancy calligraphy fonts and drawings all over. It’s completely alright to do it, if you have the time. If not, remember productivity is the main aim. Don’t let anything take that away from you. Instagram tags and buzzfeed articles have some beautiful designs that you can always take a look at and use for your journal.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

So, what makes a BuJo so special if it’s all about writing down the various stuff in your life from all sources in one place. We as humans or at least me, haven’t figured out this thing called prioritizing. We live in a day and age where we want to do it all. Anything we read online or hear about, we want to do it. The downfall is that there is always more to do than time and energy. It’s a wonderful thing to have big goals and aims in life and we need them to add spice to our life. Many a times, we get caught up in the nitty gritty stuff that does nothing to help us achieve our big goals. All our time and energy is spent on something that we may not even really want to do. With bullet journaling, you get an overview from above as to what you really want in life and it helps you better allocate your vital resources (aka time and energy and money) to them, rather than doing frivolous stuff that in hindsight, isn’t even worth your resources. 

 A very special shout out to Ryder Carroll for designing this wonderful system! 

Would love to hear all your thoughts and views once you give BuJo a try!

*****

 

Death… A Reality of Life!

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It took me a good whole month to muster up the courage to write on this theme: Death… this bitter, but absolute reality of life. I am sure you must be wondering. “What is this 27 year old kid going to say about it?” Agreed. I didn’t know much about it until recently and whatever I had heard about it, was only a piece of the actual story. While the profundity of this theme cannot be truly expressed in words, I shall try to capture my random thoughts in at least a partly coherent fashion.

  1. Acceptance: Remember the day you found out that santa claus or the tooth fairy didn’t exist and didn’t want to accept facts. It’s pretty similar except a few billion times harder. Your smart brain has understood the reality, but your heart has not yet caught up with it.
  2. Memories: Sometimes, it’s not about the person at all. It’s about all the memories you shared with them that makes acceptance much harder. We as humans are better at accepting lies that soothe the soul than plain facts that hurt. The idea that those memories shall never become moments again is what haunts the most. 
  3. Emotions: Those tricky things called feelings! It’s always a whirlpool of emotions. On some days, memories make you shed a tear and sometimes, the same memories bring a smile to your face. A smile of gratitude that you got to share such special moments with them. 
  4. Support: You take solace in the fact that you’re surrounded by so many loved ones, guised in the form of family and friends. But, deep down, you know it’s a battle that you are fighting alone. Your support system might present you the sword, but it must be you who decides to pick it up and act.
  5. Distractions: You try several different things to distract yourself from your own thoughts. While they help, it is but, in fact, momentarily. Isn’t the pain always sharper when trying to clean up wounds? Ouch! That tincture.The fake smile that you bandaid on your face, does nothing but cover up the wounds beneath. Yet, you know, that it is the right and the only thing you can do. 
  6. Outlook: Nothing in life will ever teach you how to live more in the present than death. It’s a harsh teacher, but a good one. You begin to cherish each moment that you have with loved ones around and realize that at the end of the day, all those bitterness doesn’t even matter. You see each person in a new light; a way you should have always seen them.

While death is a culmination of one life, it is the beginning of a new life of the people around. We all emerge from this pain as a new person…. a better person!

*****

(Inspired by personal experiences of losing my grandpa exactly a month back on 4 October 2016. He was and is still really special to me. I am sure he would be the first one to comment on this post, if he was still here on this physical plane with me.
Love you always! You inspire me to be a better person each day!)