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?

alexa

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!

bullet-journal

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.

quiet

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.

nyc

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!

coach

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!

holiday-card

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. 
weekly-log-png

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!)

The Journey on a Long Commute

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In the past year, my commute time to-and-fro work has tripled. What used to be a 20 minute joy ride to work is almost close to an hour now. My close friends around me know of this fact because not a day goes by when I haven’t complained about it. But over the course of time, I have realized the little personal journey I go through each day on my long commute. I take the public transit (two to lay down the facts) and can do the following. I dare not encourage you to try them if you’re the one behind the wheel. Haha!

REFLECTIONS:
How can thou contemplate on thy life with no time for thee, I ask ye’
Being busy’ has become a recurrent response to when asked, “how are you?” Has busy become how we are rather than who we are? Amidst the “busy” lives we claim to have, hitting the pause button and reflecting on our life goes a long way in our mental sanity. When we are sane, the people around us are sane. Am I right?

SILENCE:
Ain’t it a long time since you enjoyed your cup of coffee in peace and serenity, completely ignoring the hustle and bustle of the society around? “Look outside for inspiration, go inside for the answers” was my today’s lesson of the day (Courtesy: Elysha). How can we hear those answers softly being whispered to us without a sense of inner calm.

WISDOM:
Flooded with fancy gadgets and technology in this modern era, how often do we chance the opportunity to pick up a nice new book, flip through each of its crispy white pages and drown ourselves in a whole different world. A world of new dreams, numerous possibilities and infinite wisdom!

PRODUCTIVITY:
Only when all has been done and the soul has been nourished, does our truest and highest potential manifest outside. 

Would I love to have a car to drive myself around especially on cold wintry evenings when I need to walk 7 blocks to run my errands or on sick days when I want to catch some extra sleep and yet not be late for work? Heck, of course!! But, that would mean giving up on this personal voyage with my inner self that I have every single day! 

*****

Tête-à-tête with a weighing scale

Hola! Welcome to Post #4 of Kristy’s Blog Hop. In case, you’re stopping by today for the first time, do check out the previous posts of the hop:
Post #1: Fitness and me 
Post #2: Are you fit…mentally? 
Post #3: Let’s make that list 

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Courtesy: Aunty Acid

Let’s call today’s theme kind of “controversial” or one of those itchy topics. The Weighing Scale!!! That dreaded piece of equipment we all own, but really didn’t want to buy. Most of us know that the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture when it comes to assessing our fitness levels. Nor does it really depict that wholesome personality of ours. Today’s post is a casual chat of what might go on if weighing scales could talk like humans. Enjoy!

Pretty Gal: Ahhhh… It’s Monday! Time to hit the scale. I’ve been so good last week. Ate out only once. Worked out 6 times! I am curious to know how much I’ve lost.

Weighing Scale: You have lost 1 lb.

PG: Are you kidding me?!?!?! After all that hard work, I have lost only 1 lb.

WS: Welll…Look at it from the bright side. At least, you didn’t put on a pound right?

PG: I would have rather put on 1 lb. This is such bad news!!!!!!

WS: Sorry PG, I didn’t meant to give you such bad news at the start of your week!

(PG is almost in tears… **sniff sniff**)
PG: I try so much and yet, you never seem to budge!!

WS: Oh PG, don’t cry. I am just one tiny aspect of you!

PG: Tiny?? Don’t you know how much I weigh?

WS: Yes! Sadly, that’s the only service I offer to everyone.

PG: Will I ever fit into my cute little red dress?

WS: You will! Don’t lost hope this easily. You have so much more going on in your life.

PG: Stop changing the topic! I have lost only 1 lb. Period.

WS: I know! But, look at you. A year back, you were this girl who sat on your couch all day. And this week, you hit the gym 6 days!!

PG: What’s the point? I’ve lost only 1 lb this week. Only!

WS: But, look at your stamina! You can actually climb 5 flights of stairs!!

PG: What’s the use? I’d rather take the elevator if all that hard work is going to lead to only 1 lb loss… let’s help the elevator inventor dude by making good use of it!!!

WS: Oh PG! See, it’s in your name itself. You’re so pretty! Forget the red dress… remember the party where you wore that black dress with lace and all eyes were on you??

PG: Yeah.. I also had a good hair day that evening.

WS: Yes, but do you also remember you had this radiant beam of smile on your face.

PG: Duh!!! Obviously!!! I got all those raving compliments about my dress.

WS: Oh well yes, you looked beautiful. But, you know what? You have such a pretty smile. It’s the first thing I notice about you. 

PG: Yeah, I know. People have complimented me on my smile before. 

WS: Somedays, when I am all lonely and having a rough day because of all the people I made sad, your smile brings so much happiness to me. You definitely must be having the same effect on others as well. 

PG: Well yeah… I like smiling at people. Or generally, when I am around nature, my smile kind of auto-turns on. Even when I have this huge mug of coffee in my hand. **giggles**

WS: So, what have you been up to today?

PG: Well, I had this presentation at work today that went reallllly well. My boss called me the MVP of the team.  

WS: Oh wow. That’s so amazing!

PG: I know right? It was encouraging to know that I am doing well on this new job. 

WS: Yeah… the first few months on a new job are really hard.

PG: They are.. But, I am just working hard and trying to be pro-active. I’m slowly settling into the new work flow. And my new colleagues are pretty cool. 

WS: That makes a difference! 

PG: Yeah… And I came home and Adam had made me this gourmet meal comprising of all my favorites. It was a nice romantic evening!

WS: Awwww. That’s adorable!

PG: Yeah, he is really supportive. You know, with a new job, things can get really hard. But, he’s dealt with all my crazy tantrums.

WS: That’s sweet…..Was it your mom you were talking to a few minutes back?

PG: Yeah, I called her to plan our vacation. I get to go home next week and spend time with family.

WS: Awesome. You guys planning to travel?

PG: Actually yes! My dad won these family-of-four tickets to Bora Bora! So, we’re going for a week…. And Adam is joining us too. 

WS: BORA BORA! Holy Moly! Could you take me too?

PG: Haha! I wish. All my friends have been asking me the same. Sadly, we got only 4 tickets.

WS: Speaking of friends, how is Cathy and Lizzie doing? They were screeching with happiness when they stepped onto me last time. It’s been a while!

PG: They’re doing pretty good. Life’s busy of course. So, we don’t meet too often. They’re like my best friends!! And of course, my huge support system when things get rough. With K and L around, and some good food and drinks, and ice-cream of course, everything feels so right in life! 🙂

WS: I can imagine! All my friends live so far away. I get to barely see them. I do miss them!

PG: Oh you know what? Sooooo, you know how Halloween is around the corner?

WS: Of course, I see all those extra PSLs on me! **wink wink**

PG: I got like 10 bags of candy last Sunday at Target and some extra baskets too. Last year, so many homeless kids came trick-or-treating and some of them didn’t even have a basket to carry all their candy. I felt so bad! So, I bought baskets as well this year. K and L are coming tomorrow evening and we’re all going to be decorating them!! You might get to see them. 

WS: Oh Gal! Look at you! You are so AMAZING!!!! You are this pretty girl with a radiant smile! You are sooooo good at what you do!! You have such a supportive boyfriend and family and the best of friends! Above all, you have such a good heart!!! And you really worry about this stupid number you see on me??

ws

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Let’s make that list

What’s the best thing about writing on a Sunday morning? The serenity of the mind, the lack of need mood to get things done, and most importantly, it’s the absence of hustle-bustle while I sip on my COFFEE! Welcome to Post #3 of Kristy’s Blog Hop. I’m known for writing reallllly long blog posts. So, today, my aim is to write something succinct. I’ll try! The theme I am going for today, doesn’t have much to say, yet I believe it can make a huge difference in our lives.

I love reflecting back on the past, to take cues on how I could improve upon the days to come. 2016 has been such a weird, yet one of my favorite years. There were loads of UPs that came my way in the guise of opportunities received well beyond my deservedness and personality changes that helped me grow into a more happier and wholesome individual. Let me keep this short coz I don’t want to steal thoughts from my end of year blog post. Haha! Of course, with all the Ups in life, comes the DOWNs too. Losing someone really really special very recently would come in that category. Unfortunately, death is a harsh reality of life!

“Pleasure is an interval between two pains.”

– Sai Baba (Indian Philosopher)

Being the type A person that I am, I love making lists! Last week, it got me thinking. I make lists for all the mundane tasks in life like things to buy, errands to run, people to call back, etc etc. Why haven’t I ever thought of making a list about life itself? Wouldn’t it be a good initiative to make a list about the pros and cons of my life? Our mind, though fascinating, works in mysterious ways. Although we might have 99 good things going on, it tends to obsess with the one bad thing that’s happening and bogs us down. I guess it’s its job! The hardest part is probably thinking about all those favorable aspects that went right in life, when we are having an otherwise terrible day. I guess, our first instincts are wired like that. Rewiring takes time and may be, a list might be just the way.

We could make a pro-con list of all our life aspects. It could be simple, yet include the anything and everything of our lives. May be, the barista just made you an excellent coffee today (Pro!) or you just won an Emmy (Still a Pro!). Of course, life definitely has its cons. A person who says life sucks all the time or a person who says life is just amazingly amazing always – both are big fat liars.  With every pro on the left section of the list, we could strike off one con on the right side of the list and vice versa too. At the end of each month, we could tally the numbers that carries forward to the next month. And before we know it, most likely, we would have had many more rewards in life to be thankful for than the not so pleasing cons. Probably a project I should kick start in 2017!!! Sometimes we just need things in writing to open up our minds.

pro-con

Do you have any special tips and tricks that you use to bring you back to a positive mindset?
Would
love to hear your thoughts!

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Are you fit….mentally?

Hola! Welcome to Post #2 of Kristy’s Blog Hop! I thank you all for the overwhelming love and support I received for Post #1 – Fitness and Me. Today, I am also linking up with Amanda’s Running with Spoons TOL series. Before I get started on this serious chat today, here’s my tiny disclaimer:

I received no compensation or request from Headspace to write this post.
As an avid user of this app, I have received loads of personal benefits and
wished to share it with my readers and friends. I am in no way an expert
on mental health. All thoughts are based on my personal experiences
and challenges and how Headspace helped tackle some of them.
 

As I started dwelling on the fitness aspects of my life, I realized that fitness was not a sole physical entity pertaining to the body. It was a triple alliance of the body, mind and soul. A more rigorous self audit session, made me realize that I had way more stress levels, irritation and annoyance in my life than I would personally like to have as a typical 26-year old. I mean, who likes being stressed out right? 2015 was the worst year in that aspect! My analysis of my mental self made me realize that stress was like a chain reaction. One stressful element of my life just tacked on more-than-needed stress on another element. Although, looking at each of those elements distinctly didn’t seem like reasons for me to get sooooooo overwhelmed.

I sat down to think! Let’s face it. We live in the 21st century. Our lives are constantly busy!! No matter how much we try, life isn’t going to cool down. I am just 27 years now (turned a year older, last week). As I age, my responsibilities will never ever reduce. That and my stress are only going to increase. Also, I noticed that more often than not, my stress levels were due to people and circumstances around me than me myself. If I am the one to bear the pangs of stress, shouldn’t I be the one in control of it? Why are others always in-charge of my mind and happiness? Agreed, there will always be some “irritating people” around us, but, shouldn’t I be the one who dictates if their stupid actions impact my serenity and calm, instead of them?

stressed

Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up! (Source)

Indeed a blessing in disguise, Headspace came to me at the right moment. I had read earlier about the philosophy of mediation and the therapeutic benefits it had. But, it was always challenging since I had no clue how to get started. I had some success with breathing meditation, but didn’t know how to progress further.

Before, we chat about Headspace, I request that you watch this cute video made by the Headspace team to get to know more about what their sole purpose is and what the app entails. The video was something that first hooked me to this app! It resonated with what I was looking for!

It definitely looks tempting right? Since I got started on this, I have recommended it to many of my friends to try it out for themselves. Here are some of the frequently asked questions by them and I decided to make it part of this post.

How did you get started with Headspace?
I stumbled upon headspace when I was doing some random blog surfing. I wish I could go back and thank that specific blogger who introduced me to Headspace. 

How often do you do it?
At the moment, I don’t have a fixed number of times for which I do it. It varies from 1-5 times a week. I would like to however get more regular at it and do about 20 days a month.

Do you follow a specific time of the day?
The saints and philosophers always recommend to perform meditation at a fixed time everyday. I usually like taking my 10 minutes for it as soon as I am home in the evening. The time varies. But, as of now, it works for me. I find myself most stressed out at the later parts of the day than in the morning.

What are the features you like about the app?

  1. Flexibility of time: I can choose how much time I have today to spare for it.
  2. Variety of exercise: There are several guided and non-guided exercises that center around the themes of health, relationships, performance and sports.
  3. Andy, the voice on the app has a serene tone. That definitely is a plus.
  4. Animations – They are really cute and definitely help you understand what exactly you are doing for the day.
  5. They also have something for kids!! With a growing emphasis on inculcating meditation from the young age, this can definitely benefit parents whose children don’t have access to meditation classes at school.

How can I get started?
Head out to their website and sign up. The first series is called ‘Take 10’ and includes 10 sessions of 10 minutes each. It will guide you along.

10 minutes… do you really think I shall benefit from just 10 minutes of meditation?
YES!

After I am done with ‘Take 10’, it looks like I need to subscribe to progress ahead. Is the subscription worth it?
A very frequently asked question by everyone I recommend it to. My suggestion always is to first try the ‘Take 10’ and then decide for yourself (Coz I know that after Take 10, they are definitely hooked). If you asked me three years back, I would probably double think it on a student budget. It’ll be nice if Headspace comes up with a student discount pack with limited series, because after all they need their stress levels reduced the most. But, Headspace does have this awesome initiative called ‘Get Some, Give Some‘ to help people who are in dire need of it. For every paid subscription they receive from us, they give a free subscription to the deserving. Above all, as their tag line reads – it’s like a gym membership for the mind. So yes, it is definitely worth every penny!

Could we buddies on Headspace? 
Of course! Add me on pondernwonderblog@gmail.com and we can motivate each other.

Apart from your mental peace, how else has it helped you?
I feel I have better focus on all parts of my life now. It has trained me to live more in the present and enjoy each moment as it comes. Mindfulness definitely aids concentration on the task at hand. Here is what Headspace aims at and I definitely can see it:

“Our simple idea is to teach the world to meditate, so that everyone can live a
happier, healthier, more enjoyable life.” – Headspace

Hey…. isn’t that what we all are looking for?

(Also linking up with Amanda’s Running with Spoons TOL series today. Do check out her cute blog when you get a chance)

*****

Fitness and Me

FitnessandMe– two completely unrelated words in my life….until now. Today being my spotlight day on Kristy’s Blog Hop and my first post as part of the hop, I thought it was time to put my fitness story (if you can call it that) out there. In all honesty, I was am nervous to talk about it here today, for the first time. 

FACTS FIRST:
I have loathed working out my whole life. It was so boring and sweaty and made me feel close to death. High school came – the high achiever in me sat at my desk always working for that ‘A’. College came – freshman 15 45, in my case. Something is wrong. Hi hormones! Thanks for dancing to your own tunes! 

WHAT CHANGED?
It was the fall of 2014 (I sound like a novelist) when I stepped out for a walk with my friend. We had barely gone half a mile and I was huffing and puffing already. Omg! I am 25 and I can’t even walk half a mile. 911

WHAT TO DO?
That was the day I knew something had to change. Did I decide to become an athlete overnight? No!!! All I wanted was to have a fitness level commensurate to a 25 year old (Spoiler Alert: still work in progress). 

THE JOURNEY THUS FAR:
Since we bloggers LOVE social media, I thought it was apt to go social media style. Apologies if all the pics take forever to pop up. 

The first step was the hardest! Actually lacing up and going for a run.
Of course, I clicked this pic before starting my run #Priorities
The workout doesn’t count until it’s publicized right? #FirstInstagramPost

 

It never gets easier, but all I had to do was keep trying.
My only goal at this point was to get 10,000 steps each day. Whether I walked or jogged or ran them. Just get it done!

 

The first time ever when I understood what all the fuss with running was about. #Serenity

 

With tiny successes came bigger accomplishments, making it all worth it. Hard work finally pays off.

 

Some weeks were a slumber. I just didn’t feel the motivation to do any more. 

 

When the Universe finally calls out to you:
There were days I used to get out and run, just to see such lovely views and take pics to post on Instagram.

 

 

 

Somedays, no matter how much I tried, motivation didn’t come from within, it came from around. It worked!

Yesterday, on my jog, I was huffing and puffing and was almost on the verge of giving up. That's when a stranger, a lady with her young son in the park looked at me and said, "You inspire me! I wish I could run like you one day". I looked at her for few seconds and was wondering if she was really talking to me or someone behind me. Although I looked like a tomato who must have run a marathon, I had barely run 2 miles with few breaks in the middle. Her few kind words pepped up my motivation to complete my 4.0 mile run! And lo and behold, faster than any of my previous runs. In the wake of humanity being questioned, sometimes, it's one word of kindness and love that's all needed, to reinstate your faith in humanity! #faithinhumanity #loveexists #digdeeper #loveall #kindness https://pondernwonder.com/2016/06/05/one-word/

A post shared by Madhuri Manohar (@pondernwonder) on

 

Somedays, running was used to celebrate life’s other accomplishments.

 

It takes a WHILE to actually feel your accomplishments:
Although, I had done 3x 5Ks before, it was my 11K race that actually made me believe in myself.

"Unlock your true potential" was my positive affirmation this morning as I got ready to run a 11K race by @charmcityrun . It was definitely beyond doubt the hardest thing I've ever done. I was right at the end of the runners batallion as I finished. But, I couldn't have asked for a better way for it to all go! Don't you love days that are so picture perfect that you wonder 'Did that actually happen?'. Well, turns out it did.... And yes, I couldn't have done it without these two cartoons with me. After a couple of mentally rough weeks, having these two by my side was all that was needed to reverse the lull. It's such days that make you realize and pay gratitude for all the loved and special ones you have around you. Cherish every person, every moment and every thought that makes your life slightly better. #remembering911 #neverforget #lovedonesmatter #runtoremember #charmcityrun #mizunorunning

A post shared by Madhuri Manohar (@pondernwonder) on

 

And before long, I realized I was hooked to being fit!! I guess, that’s what you call good addiction.

WHAT LIES AHEAD:

If it was scary to put my story out there, it feels even more scary to publicly talk about the journey ahead. Some dude on the internet told me to conquer my fears and let go of my mental limits and push harder…or something on those lines. So, Philly Love Run 2017 (#firsthalfmarathon) it is!! How I plan to tackle it? With loads of inspiration from within and around, definitely need some consistent running, and of course, coffee. Until then, miles to go (pun totally intended).

Am I the fittest person I know? Haha. No ways. But, I do know that this has been the fittest I have been in my whole life (and previous lifetimes included). Hey…It’s weird that it no longer feels weird to have both ‘fitness’ and ‘me’ in the same sentence! 🙂

Thank you so much for stopping by this baby blog! A special shout out to Kristy for bringing us all together in this hop. Do check out posts from my other blog hoppers. You are in for tons of knowledge, inspiration and fun for the next two weeks! 

*****