I want my days to be filled with…

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more joy, less regret

more peace, less negativity

more gratitude, less taking everything for granted

more love, less bitterness

more compassion, less prejudice

more reading, less attached to my digital devices

more writing, less thinking about it

more deep-diving, less drifting

more laughter, less anger

more giving, less holding back

more forgiveness, less nursing grudges

more natural products, less chemicals

more walking, less driving

more relaxing, less puttering about

more doing things that matter, less procrastinating

more curiosity, less being nosy

more discovering new places and cultures, less sight-seeing

more making dreams come true, less being realistic

more passionate living, less existing

more learning, less worrying about grades or applying what’s been learnt

more childlike wonder, enthusiasm and abandon, less ‘trying to act my age’

more meaningful conversations, less gossip

more investing in experiences and things that matter, less shopping

more sharing stories and thoughts, less publishing another post

more action, less focusing on the ‘fruits’ or the fruitlessness of my actions

more ME, less trying to be someone else

more making today the best day ever, less planning for an unknown future

Love,

Manasa.

 

 

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What’s up folks?

I’ve been off blogging for so long, I’ve completely forgotten what it feels like to post! What do I post about anyway? My kids? Our travels? This mundane life? If I do post, would anybody be interested to read? Anyways, I’ve decided to give all these thoughts a rest and just go with it! Here I am…

If you are new to this blog here’s a bit about me: I’m almost 32, a mom of 2 lil monkeys, still in love with my man after almost a decade, a homemaker, a journal-keeper, a spiritual person, a voracious reader, a sewing enthusiast, a dabbling writer and a mental. (Seriously)

I’ve been blogging on and off for a long time now. There have been many a blogs before this one, all of which I must have deleted. I blog because I love to write. I write even when I’m not blogging.

I live in India in a calm and beautiful neighborhood. Ours is a joint family with 4 adults and 2 kiddos. Medha is almost 8 and Madhav is almost 5. We are in the midst of their exams- Both have Maths coming up. I’m busy taking turns teaching them one at a time. Madhav picks up his subjects quickly while Medha takes a bit longer. They both go for Taek Won Do lessons every evening. My days are busy, but they are a good, satisfying kinda busy that never fails to make me thankful. God knows how many don’t make it from one day to the next…

Along with writing, sewing has been my passion for a while. Beautiful fabrics entice me; Sewing how-tos and Diys leave me itching to get my hands ‘dirty’. I joined a sewing class and learnt as much as I could. Now I practice at home, whenever I can.

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I read all the time. When I’m done with my chores I treat myself to a good book. This year has been good so far, reading-wise. In less than 2 months I’ve read more than most read in a whole year. Now I’m in the thick of 2 books – “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld and “An Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda (I love to read a fiction as well as a non-fiction at a time) and I can hardly wait to go back to them when I’m done blogging for the day.

I (and Maddy) plan to be more consistent hereon, but who knows what’s around the bend? Right now, this moment is all that matters…

So, what’s up with you all?

Love,

Manasa.

Around here (02/2016)

There’s so much going on around here. First and Fearmost (OOPS!) Foremost! –

  • Exams!!!- It feels like it’s MY Final Exam or something! The amount of work that I need to put in- to drag Medha to her table, bribe her with candies and jolly rides if she learns just a bit more, prepare worksheets for her to practice and learn the basics of English grammar or look up Hindi letters and words online so that I don’t forget what I know as I try to teach her! Phew!

I just can’t wait for them to be over!

Check out the syllabus the poor 5 year-olds of her batch need to prepare for-

Syllabus for exam

  • Medha’s Reading Challenge- Remember the resolution I made for my daughter for 2016? About making her read a book each day? It’s been over a month and she has managed to read more than 20 books! They are simple, beginner-level books that have about a line or two in each page and run 10-12 pages long. But we’ve come very VERY far from our days of struggling to recognize letters to being able to decipher complex words through phonics. Phonics! What can I say, this magic word has helped her tremendously! We are at the end of our collection of Bob books- Sight Words for Kindergarten and First Grade readers and we can’t wait to read other books. More about it and her progress in another post.
  • Madhav’s Learning Challenge- Whenever life gets busy, my little one’s learning gets pushed aside! I resolved to teach him one concept(letter/number/color)  a week this year and over a month into our resolution, we’ve covered just 2- letter A and color Red and we are still working on Green. But he enjoyed every bit of the activities we did and the books we read as part of this exercise. And I loved working on kiddo crafts. Such stress-busters! Instead of being too harsh on myself for neglecting his learning, I tell myself (not as often as I should!) that had it not been for the resolution, we wouldn’t have done even the little bit that we did.
  • Blogging Funk!- I’m in a rut right now. I’m not sure what to write, when to write or whether what I write matters at all. It doesn’t mean I’ll give up writing for good! Not anytime soon (I want to continue torturing YOU, my favorite reader!). We all experience this kind of feeling, don’t we?At school, home, in our jobs etc. I’ve gone through this a number of times before. And I have emerged from the dark tunnel unscathed. This time too I will come out stronger and happier. But right now, I’ll just be taking it slow, immersing myself in reading, talking to my loved ones and learning the ropes of blogging.
  • Pomodoro Method– Everyday I set my timer for 25 minutes and just scribble away in my journal. For those 25 minutes I do nothing but write. This activity is helping me get out of my funk, sort through the muddle in my head and straighten myself out. In fact, as I write, I find myself brainstorming ideas for posts I’d like to write in future. Isn’t that great?!
  • Finished Spark E-course– Yay! Another thing crossed off my list! This course helped me a lot (I learnt about Pomodoro technique right here)  as I struggled to get out of my blogging rut. More about it in another post.
  • Farm Fresh Produce- We are receiving a ton of veggies from our farm than we know what to do with them! Our friends and family are happy, of course. Still, I’m thinking I’ll become a vegetable vendor soon.. What say?

Vegetables from the farm

  • Exhaustion!- You must have realized by now that I need to take a break, relax and get some sleep. And that’s what I will do…

I hope you get some rest too. Waiting to meet you at the end of the tunnel…

Love,

Manasa.

30 things to do in 2016

30 is going to be my number soon. That’s because I’ll turn 30 next year! And I feel…. nothing, actually. Not happy, not sad. It is just going to be another birthday, another year. But I love new beginnings- a new day, a new year,  a budding love,  the start of a journey of parenthood etc. And (you may be totally aware of this!) I love drawing up lists, goals and resolutions. Oh no, not again, did you say? I know I have done this before and I have failed to keep up with most goals. But this time I have a plan. I’ll tell you how I’ll tackle my list (in a different post) and post monthly updates too. So please, pretty please, bear with me and read my goals, will ya? And keep me on the right track; I know my sister will!
1. Buy a sewing machine
2. Learn basic stitches
3. Sew a summer dress/ skirt for Medha
4. Paint a wall hanging for our hall
5. Scrapbook with Medha of her cousin’s visit
6. Make a photobook with Medha’s pictures.
7. Make a photobook with Madhav’ s pictures
8. Turn the spare room into craft/reading room
9. Post before/after pictures of craft/reading room project
10. Bake a cake and decorate it with Medha
11. Throw a handmade birthday party at home for Medha and Madhav
12. Read “Big magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
13. Read a kannada book
14. Read the photography book Prasad gifted me
15. Complete Spark ecourse
16. Complete Onward and Upward ecourse
17. Have pictures taken with my sister for the blog
18. Write thank-you letters to the most important people in my life ( I know who they are)
19. Volunteer at Madhav’s playschool
20. Write to a magazine/ newspaper.
21. Visit a National park
22. Learn to drape a saree beautifully
23. Watch a play
24. Add 10 new followers to the blog ( to make the count 90)
25. Change the blog’s “about” page
26. A weaving project with Medha
27. A plush doll with Medha
28. A garland with Medha
29. Visit a historical monument/palace with the kids
30. 365 days of journaling

Wish me luck!

Any tips to keep up with New Year’s Resolutions will be much appreciated!

Love,

Manasa.

Around here

Around here-

  1. I’ve been feeling kinda down lately, like I have a ton of things and thoughts swirling in my head needing my immediate attention and weighing me down.
  2. I’ve not been able to read anything for a longer stretch of time, except browse other blogs and recipes online. I picked up my favorite “The Happiness Project” and couldn’t read further than a couple of chapters. I started “Gilead”, another bestseller, and I had to toss it aside as I could not focus.
  3. I’m trying to get Medha to learn the parts of Body in words for a test without much success.
  4. We’re figuring out how to use my brand-new Morphy Richards Convection Oven: Butter Naan came out hard while Whole-Wheat Pizza came out doughy. No more Baking for a while!
  5. Rains have been few and far between, and Mosquitoes have swarmed the place.
  6. I tried a lot of new recipes I found online; None tasted as good as I hoped.
  7. I haven’t finished a Birthday Project I began with Medha.
  8. I feel like I need a change, but not sure what sort of.

Sounds depressing, right? Don’t worry (especially you, mother). I’ll be fine. Everyone feels this way- confused, scattered, down, sad, worried- now and then. It’s mostly due to exhaustion and less sleep. It also happens when you do not take things light and slow.

I need to do one thing at a time, work on one thought at a time. And forget the rest… until it is time to focus on the next.  And smile, and laugh a lot, even though sulking and complaining comes easily. And, of course, be grateful for all the big and small joys and an ordinary, uneventful life.

Yeah. I get it!

So let me have another go…

Around here-

  1. I’m trying to be mindful of what I eat- fruits instead of desserts, dry fruits instead of biscuits.
  2. We’ve been cooking and eating a lot of bottle-gourds, colocasia leaves, drum-sticks, and banana flowers fresh from our Farm lately.
  3. I’m meeting and befriending new Moms at Medha’s Tennis lessons- Very accomplished and down-to-earth Women.
  4. We’re looking forward to our next weekend getaway to the Black-buck Resort in Bidar.
  5. I met Medha’s teacher, Subhashini Ma’am, at the Parents-Teachers-Meeting and learnt that Medha is doing just fine at school. She just needs to overcome her shyness towards her Teachers and practice a few words everyday.
  6. I just began reading Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s “An Autobiography”. The description of his childhood and his Voice (I can almost hear it!), that sounds as if it is dripping with honey, have kept me engrossed for now. I want to read this to learn a bit of Indian History and also in honor of the upcoming Independence Day.
  7. Medha and Madhav know the appropriate use of words like “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sorry”. Their gesture, coupled with their gentle voice (especially Medha’s),  just melt my heart down and make me feel like I have the sweetest kids in the whole world (Not always, but very often).
  8. I’m coming up with ideas to write blog posts even when nothing much is going on or my mind is a blank space, like right now!

See… I feel so better already. Like I say, Writing everything down is a sort of conversation I have with Prasad or my Sister. It helps me clear out the fog in my brain, make sense of what’s going on and come up with solution. It cheers me up and makes me feel like myself again.

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve taken the time out of your busy schedule to learn what’s going on in my life. My most humble, heartfelt gratitude to you. Thanks for letting me share my stories, my life with you…. I hope YOU don’t forget to write  and share yours too.

Love,

Manasa.

Summer and the City

Summer and the CityThis book (written by Candace Bushnell) was the perfect pick-me-up I needed this sweaty, sweltering summer after the giddy excitement of my sister’s Wedding. It made me zoom through chores and kids’ story-time so that I could curl up and read (“Why are YOU reading for so long?”, my daughter kept accusing me as I read the night away, a tiny book-light attached to my book!). The famed sitcom, “Sex and the City”‘s prequel, “Summer and the City” is the story of how Carrie Bradshaw, a high-school graduate, begins her life in New York. She is here for the summer and is enrolled in the New School in order to pursue Writing.

Carrie is in awe of the Emerald city and nothing, not even her bossy landlady or the blackout, when there’s a power outage for a long time, will make her want to go back home. All the crazy parties that she attends, the vintage shops where she buys used goodies at throwaway prices, new friends, new love and her love for the city itself compel her to stay. But first she has to prove to her family, and to herself, that she can make it on her own. And she has about 60 days to do that. This book is Carrie’s journal of her adventures during those 2 months.

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She makes a lot of mistakes and gets into trouble, like many kids at 17 do, but she dusts herself off and gets on with life. Nothing will deter her from her dream of becoming a Writer in New York. I loved her attitude, but parts of the book made me cringe at the thought of how MY kids might behave at that age.

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Normally I don’t pick a chick-lit (literature that appeals to young women, according to Google) and consider it beneath me (no rolling eyes, please!) to read and even if I do, it bores or grosses me out. But this one kept me going and in less than a week, I ended it with a big smile and a deep desire to make the best use of these long, summer days.

I guess I need to let go of my reservations about what kind of books I should be reading or what kind of mom I need to be or what kind of life I should be living and just go with my instincts. It might make me seem naive or stupid, but who cares. As long as it makes me happy…

Go with the flow, baby.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I loved reading it. It is not a thriller or a mystery, yet I found myself speeding through it, yearning to know what happens to the central characters in the end.

It is about a girl, Cather, a year in her life, starting College, her family, her new friends and her love for writing fan-fiction…. just the very sort of book I love to read, and hopefully, write someday.

I wonder why I’m hooked on YA (Young Adult) Fiction these days. In my young-adult years I was full of disdain towards them. I probably thought I was beyond their level, never having been told what was appropriate to read for my age. As my sister and I were growing up, we read what we found at home, and they were books written by Sidney Sheldon, Arthur Hailey and John Grisham. But now I’m always found hovering around the Children’s or Teens’ sections of my library (Justbooks)! Still not age-appropriate… But who cares!

Coming back to the book… Cather (who likes to be called Cath) has been her twin sister, Wren’s best friend and room-mate all her life. Now , in College, Wren wants new experiences, new friends and even a new room-mate. Cath feels lost without her sister.  Writing Simon/ Baz fan-fiction (I didn’t know anything about fan-fiction until I started reading this book. According to Urban Dictionary, “Fan-fiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, TV show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it”) brings solace to her as she struggles with her fears. Of making new friends. Of not knowing where the canteen is. Of how her dad will manage without the 2 of them at home.

In swaggers Levi, the ever-smiling, helpful, charming, chivalrous Levi, with a razor-sharp memory. I fell in love with him long before Cath did. I kept waiting for their romance to blossom. Will they? Will they not? I wondered. I feared Cath might shut herself off from him. But she doesn’t, Thank God.

I love the falling-in-love part in a story. Any story. There’s such nervous excitement around it. But staying-in-love? I admit I find it boring, listening or reading about it, unless it is super-exciting 🙂 or the 2 people have remained in love for a very long time. I wish the author, Rainbow Rowell, hadn’t spent much time and words on their romance, as she did.

I perked up whenever I came across ‘writing’ or ‘fan-fiction’. Cath is so proficient at taking someone else’s story, here, “Simon Snow” series written by Gemma T Leslie (based on J K Rowling, I suppose), and writing her version, that it is hard for her to write a story of her own. She just doesn’t know where to start. Her Professor helps her come up with a “starting point”. She says “Just start from somewhere in your life and see where it leads you”… But where exactly? Her past is bleak. Her mother abandoned her and her sister, Wren, when they were too young. When they had needed a mother the most. Cath finds it hard to dig into her past. She doesn’t want to face her mother, who now wants to come back into their lives. She has trouble trusting people, even Levi.

Relax, there’s a light at the end of the proverbial “tunnel”. Of course there has to be, when Levi is around. He helps Cath figure out that she doesn’t have to have one thing at the cost of everything else – fan-fiction writing over fiction writing, her family over Levi, Wren over her room-mate Reagan. Only then does she make room for so much more in her life.

We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

No big life lessons in this book. No wise characters (except, maybe, Levi). Every character had flaws, even my favorite, Levi (You can see how much I adore him), which made them real, endearing. I looked forward to reading it every night just before sleeping. I felt a sense of deep contentment as I read this book.  I felt joy. My dreams felt attainable. My goals, reachable.

Good books have such power over me.