January and February 2023 – Reading Wrap Up

I managed to read a few more books than usual in the last two months since I was at home, off work and recovering from my surgery. Here is a snapshot of the books I read in the last two months. Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on the books below if you’ve read them? 🙂

Where the Crawdads Sing (3/5 Stars): This is going to be one of those unpopular opinion book reviews. I know this book is well loved by many of my reader friends and now there is a book to screen adaptation too – but it wasn’t for me. The writing and the lush description about the marsh land and various mating characteristics of animals, birds and insects were definitely interesting but that’s where my interest stopped. 

Surrounded by this setting of the marsh is the story of Kya – a girl who raises herself alone in the wild from the age of seven. And it is also a love story and also a murder mystery. So the premise sounds promising but I couldn’t find that connect with Kya or the men in her life that maybe other readers would have found and loved. The statements that the men found her intriguing because she was a wild creature but also very beautiful, made me uncomfortable in some ways. I didn’t like either of the male protagonists in the story. So yeah, my second read of Jan was much anticipated but didn’t match up to my liking 🙂 I wonder if the movie will be better than the book for me in this case?

Have you read this book and watched the movie? What were your thoughts?

More than a Woman (5/5 Stars): Caitlin Moran could write a grocery list and i would read it and it would sound witty and feminist at the same time! She has become my go to witty feminist writer and I love her writing! They are so relatable and funny! Her first book was about being a woman – spanning her teenage years to her adult years. This second book is about women and their lives when they are 40 or 50, and I couldn’t have asked for a better timing to read this book! 

She talks about ageing, metabolism, endometriosis and menopause or peri menopause, women being carers and juggling between the prime of our careers and the growing years of our children, raising a feminist daughter and dealing with your child’s eating disorders, reducing alcohol because the enzymes don’t work anymore and taking up yoga because your body feels like heaven after all those stretches.. I mean the list is endless!

Her audiobook is even better to listen to.. maybe one day I will also own all the physical copies of her books😊

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (5/5 Stars): I absolutely loved this book! My first 5 star read of the year! This story is about three friends – Sam, Sadie and Marx. It is about the love that friends have for each other. But it’s mostly about work and how work and passion for work has the power to save us from grief, heartbreak and loneliness. The story is set in the 20th Century and centres around Sam and Sadie’s passion for video games. I loved all the Japanese art references thrown in and kept looking into them. I learnt so much about what goes into creating a good video game and I was fascinated even though I’m not a gamer myself. 

I could really relate to Sam’s character in the book even though he might come across as insensitive and self absorbed, but I could relate to his asexuality and the fact that having constant physical pain plays a major role in turning one into an uncaring social recluse. It’s hard for others with normal life to understand this. Sadie’s struggles with being a woman in the tech world felt very real too and well Marx’s character was so good that I felt he was a mirage🙂 and the grandparents with their nuggets of wisdom were an absolute delight!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (3.5/5 Stars): I listened to a murder mystery on audiobook after a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a clean YA murder mystery with a message in the end and I was surprised that I hadn’t guessed the entire mystery till the end! (Considering I think of myself as a closet detective in the making 😜). The characters were relatable and quite real and the plot clean too. There are some triggering themes in the story such as child abuse, self harm, drug abuse and rape, but they’re all handled very well by the author. 

Babel (5/5 Stars): I am utterly in awe of the genius of R.F. Kuang and her writing! What can I possibly write, that will justify an apt review for this book, because I have never read anything like Babel in my life so far. 

TW: Violence, Racism

The story of Babel is set in fictional Oxford, where young students who have exceptional grasp of languages from across the globe are admitted to study in the prestigious Institute- Babel. Thus starts Robin’s journey, who is ‘rescued’ from China by a white man and raised in London and eventually sent to Oxford as a Babel student due to his proficiency of Cantonese, Mandarin and English. In Oxford, he meets his cohort – Ramy (from India), Victoire (from Haiti) and Letty (from England). Life is great for the four of them who worship Babel, until Robin stumbles across a revelation that brings the shiny world they know, toppling down.

There is so much information regarding languages and translation, that I might have highlighted more than half of my book. I highly recommend buying a physical copy of this book for this very reason, because almost half the book is non-fiction and has very interesting information about the origins of words. There is a discourse on the power of languages, about the possibility of having a universal language and the positives and pitfalls of translations.

But then, the author starts weaving the story about colonialism and slavery and how language played an important part in either enabling it or thwarting it. Again, the second half of the book is filled with nuggets of information about all the tiny uprisings across the globe against slavery, colonialism and exploitation.

And amidst all this, is there hope for a better future? Can a handful of people turn the tide and make Governments and systems more humane? Is revolution really possible and what will it cost?

I highly recommend this book, especially for people who like reading non fiction. It is also a very clean book and there is barely any romance in it. On an ending note, for readers who have loved TPW series by R.F. Kuang, try not to compare both the books, which is what I had started doing in the beginning.

The Gospel of Yudas (3.5/5 Stars): Thank you @readwithzainab for sending me this book as our book exchange idea 🙂 I guess almost two years later, I finally read it. 157 pages of being hit hard. This book is translated from Malayalam to English and is the story of grief, an all consuming guilt and unrequited love. The story is set in Kerala where a young Prema falls in love with an older man who calls himself Yudas and rescues dead bodies from the lake. But Yudas is unable to reciprocate Prema’s love because of the weight of guilt that he carries from his past. In the backdrop there are references of the Naxalite movement and the terrifying torture that the captured naxals underwent in the hands of the police. This is a short yet difficult book to read. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (3/5 Stars): I’ll start with this – the book overall in terms of characters and the lacking plot didn’t work for me, but what really worked is the amount of philosophical discussions that can be had with the subjects the author touches upon- polygamy, infidelity, unrequited love, communism, freedom, the purpose of life and death, love in general, emotional baggage and how our past shapes us, and a lot of other subjects. 

It’s a short book and the writing is simple and easy to follow. The story is not chronological but that doesn’t confuse the reader. This book was translated from Czech to English so there could be a possibility that a lot of the essence of the book was lost in translation. I think this is a book for intellectuals who like to hang out in quiet bars or libraries with a scotch and cigar in hand and discuss the philosophies of life. If you’re looking for plot or character arc, you can skip this one🙂

I read this book as part of the @fictionalbookclub pick for Feb, and we definitely had some very interesting thoughts during the book club discussion😊 

The one takeaway that I did take from the book was , “Ess Muss Sein”! 🙂

Artificial Condition – Book 2 from the Murderbot series (4.5/5 Stars): I just love Murderbot. Its narration on just work and entertainment and being asexual and not wanting to be amongst other humans, no matter how well meaning they are, feels like it is no further to who I am..LOL! In the second book, Murderbot makes a friend it seems, hesitantly. I really enjoyed Art and Murderbot’s interactions and couldn’t stop cracking up every time the two of them interacted. Can’t wait to listen to the next books in the series and Murderbot’s further adventures. I only wish these books were available in India 🙂

That’s a wrap!! Hope you’re having a wonderful month and week so far! 🙂

Life Updates – 3 Weeks post Hysterectomy

Hello Readers! After a hiatus of almost a month, I am back into blogging with this life update post. I usually don’t feel comfortable writing about my illnesses or recovery, but after a lot of internal debating and the fact that I myself was looking for information online about Hysterectomy and other women’s recovery journey, that I decided to write about my experience so far and going forward too, in the hopes of helping someone else looking to connect.

It all started two years back when my periods started to extend from 5 days to 10 days, accompanied with excruciating pain that no pain killer would help with. At first my Ob-Gyn diagnosed that I had multiple large fibroids in my uterus, but a lot of medication didn’t help. So she asked me to get an MRI done. Then we found out that I had stage 4 Endometriosis and four of my organs were already stuck to each other because of the internal bleeding and one of my ovaries had a large cyst and was pretty much useless at this point. We tried more medication, but nothing helped. So in early January this year, my Doctor suggested we go ahead with the Hysterectomy.

I was admitted to the hospital on the 27th of January and my surgery was on the 28th January. The night before the surgery, they gave me only saline and water for meal and some medication to clear out my bowels. I had a laparoscopic full Hysterectomy. The surgery took longer than expected and was a complicated one as per the Doctor. But thankfully, it was a successful surgery.

Day 1-3 Post Surgery – I was in the hospital for three days. The first day I was completely bed-ridden and the pain was immense. I was on antibiotics, saline and painkillers. The second day, they started me on a semi solid diet and asked me to start walking to the toilets and do some feet flapping movement while lying on the bed to avoid clotting. I was also advised to carry on doing some deep breathing exercises. I was discharged from the hospital on the 3rd day post surgery to recover at home.

Week 1 Post Surgery

Diet: I was eating tiny meals 4-5 times a day. A glass of water followed by green tea and a handful of almonds. Home made vegetable oats, or vegetable poha, or a banana with one boiled egg for breakfast. Coconut water for mid morning snack. An extremely small portion of rice, daal, yogurt and a side of vegetables for lunch, two digestive biscuits and green tea for evening snacks, or a handful of peanuts and one chapati, a bowl of moong daal and small portion of vegetable for dinner. I didn’t have an appetite and sometimes my mom would make me chicken soup to get some proteins in for my recovery.

Pain & Recovery: At home, I was in a lot of pain because of the gas and bowel movements and my organs trying to settle down. I didn’t have much of an appetite and was mostly on bed. I was able to slowly turn and sleep on my side and I tried to sleep with a pillow under my legs or between my legs. It was pretty uncomfortable though.

Exercises: I was mostly in bed during my first week back home and only made trips to the bathroom and to shower. Even that much was exhausting and in the first week I showered only every alternate day.

Entertainment: I read one book in the first week back and watched TV or listened to my mom talk. Mostly I was in a state of slumber and sleeping almost through the day because of all the medications.

Week 2 Post Surgery

Diet: During the first half of week 2, I could barely eat anything and had zero appetite. I was mostly on liquids like cold milk, or cold orange juice, or coconut water, or just lentil soup. But once the I started the pain killers and the prebiotics, I was able to slowly resume my diet from Week 1. I wasn’t eating any fried food or food from outside.

Pain & Recovery: Week 2 began horribly because the laxatives and the antibiotics were making bowel movement very painful for me. For some reason, my pain intensified in the second week when I had to pass motions, like these cramps in my stomach that felt like someone was punching my gut constantly. And because of the laxatives, I was constantly going to the toilet and constantly in pain. Like an idiot, I was not taking my pain killers and when I reached out to my Ob-Gyn for the pain, she rightly admonished me for not taking the pain killers. By mid week, once I started the pain killers though, things got much better. She also gave me some prebiotics which helped with my appetite.

Exercises: I had my stitches removed and my Ob-Gyn said I could start walking outdoors and do most of the house chores, except for lifting heavy items and bending too much. I decided to start walking inside the house along with those feet exercises and the breathing exercises and gradually increase my step count each day. By end of week 2, I was able to walk 3500 steps inside the house. My goal is to eventually get to 10,000 steps by the end of Week 4, if my body permits.

Entertainment: I didn’t read at all in Week 2 due to me condition. I watched a little TV with my mom, or Youtube videos of other women’s hysterectomy recovery journey. Unfortunately, my mom had to leave by the end of the second week due to a family emergency, but my sister decided to come and stay with me for two weeks. So just the third week, I would have to stay by myself.

Week 3 Post Surgery:

Diet: The third week saw the beginning of actual recovery for me. I definitely had my appetite back and continued following the home made diet of fibre, liquids and lean protein with smaller portions. I bought flax seeds and chia seeds and started adding them to my meals and snacks. My friends also got me home made laddoos and healthy snacks like granola bites and wheat pancake mix and home made pickles. I felt so blessed 🙂

Exercise: I started increasing my daily step count and went for short walks once in the morning and once in the evening. I’m also doing my breathing exercises and the foot flaps (that’s what I call them :D). By the end of the week, I was able to cover 7000 steps. I was also able to help with house chores and slightly bend, cook my breakfast, help my daughter get ready for school and other small activities.

Entertainment: I finally managed to get back into my reading – you can see my bedside is loaded with books I selected to read. I have no idea if I’ll finish all of these, but a girl can dream 😀 I caught up with a few friends who came to visit me, and watch a few series on TV too. I’m loving Cunk on Earth, but laughing hard is still painful..LOL! I discovered a few new songs and People by Libianca is a current favorite 🙂

My sister arrived last Sunday and I am in Week 4 of post op recovery now. I am supposed to go back to work (I have a desk job in IT) by next week, but we are still discussing if I need to extend my leaves by another week or if I’m okay to start work next week.

I know this post is longer than my usual posts and I’m sure I might have forgotten a lot of things that I wanted to write down. I wrote this post for others who might be planning a hysterectomy or recovering from one and would like to share notes and discuss highs and lows. Just like any other community. I felt that this is a major surgery and many women go through it too, but somehow there seems to be very little information from women about their personal experience and their recovery journey or life after a hysterectomy. I hope I will find a community of women who I can talk to and discuss with them about life and recovery journey after a hysterectomy with via this post. 🙂

Midlife Musings – “Just Set Your Priorities”, he said.

I was sitting at the lunch table with a bunch of my colleagues today and we were generally discussing about the lack of work life balance these days in corporate jobs.

One of them said, “Work-life balance is a myth that leaders and HR promote to give employees that carrot-dangling-at-the-end-of-the-stick incentive to keep working – the carrot being the ‘life’ part of the balance equation.”

I said, “I hear you. I mean, at my age and after having worked hard and slogged in the industry for the last sixteen years, I’d like to slow down. Focus on my health, my family, my passions. I don’t want more money or a promotion. I just want to earn my keep and have the rest of the day to myself!”

To which, another male colleague retorted, “It is very simple to achieve that. Just set your priorities!”

I have to admit, I was a little ruffled. But I didn’t want the lunch table to turn into a sort of rant session. But really, I think, I am one of those few people who know very well what her priorities are. They are – focus on self health – both mental and physical, pay attention to my child and family, and work to earn my keep. As simple as that. And all the three have equal priority for me. So you can imagine the challenge I face, when I am asked to slog through a 10 hour work day, leaving me no time or energy for the other things that are important to me!

I have been asking a lot of people how they manage to bring work life balance about. But mostly I get responses like the myth one. That we just work and then finish off the household chores. And then are too exhausted to exercise or meditate or pursue a hobby or spend quality time with our loved ones. No wonder so many of us have mental health issues, or other physical illnesses manifesting as early as 35 years of age!

But is there really no answer to this problem? Is capitalism and hyper consumerism killing our lives and souls? Can’t the world just collectively decide enough is enough and go on a strike or slow down and say, I want to prioritise me too? Or are there really jobs and organisations out there which give you the flexibility to divide your life into three equal pieces and one just needs to keep looking until they find their right fit? Because that is another thing I have learned, what is right for me and my skills, may not be right for someone else.

I personally would like to believe that there is still hope and I just need to keep looking and working towards getting that mythical work-life balance. What do you think? Is work-life balance a myth? Have we really forgotten what our priorities are or are most of us prioritising money and materialism over everything else?

Midlife Musings – The Importance of being Average

I was chatting with a close friend I made through the blogging world in the month of December last year (@Sahi, you know its you ;)), and I told her that this year I wanted to write more about existential questions that have been haunting me since the time I turned 40. Maybe its a midlife thing, maybe it is a sudden quest towards spirituality or maybe just random questions about how to navigate life, but I’m hoping to get some wisdom and suggestions from readers who might have the patience to read through the entire post! It is the age of ADHD after all. There is too much to do, too much information and too little time do process it all without losing our mind, isn’t it? But in a world of more than twenty billion people, I’m hoping that I might come across at least one stranger who has questions or struggles similar to mine and might be looking at it all different or have some more insights for me?

Before I start though, I want to share a segue about where I am writing from today 🙂 As part of my Artist’s Date, I’m sitting in a Starbucks cafe with my Vanilla sweet cream cold brew. I charged my old Mac Air so it wouldn’t run out of battery and brought it along on my errand so that I could sit in a cafe and write this blog. It has been a fantasy of mine to write from a cafe one day. Like real writers who sit for hours in a cafe or a pub and write. So, part of that has been fulfilled. But I must say, I wish the cafe was quieter..hehe. It is Sunday evening and one thing about being in India is that you won’t find any place that isn’t crowded on a weekend. Well, I hope people around me are too busy to be reading over my blog or paying attention to me 😉

Okay, so the musing or question for today is the importance of being average. I recently joined a new company and very soon realised that I wasn’t the exceptional Business Analyst that I had thought myself to be since the last fifteen years of working. I am now surrounded by younger, more talented, more intelligent and more ambitious colleagues and every day I feel like I am drowning or playing catch up. But one day, when my boss was talking to me about his expectations and how we can all be exceptional, I blurted out, but I don’t want to be at the top! I don’t want more money because I am satisfied with what I earn right now, I don’t want to be sent abroad on work assignments because I’d rather travel on leisure and I don’t want a promotion because I’d rather have less work so I can have a work life balance and give time to myself and my family. So all I want really, is for you to not fire me. And surely you would need some average people who won’t demand a raise or a promotion every month and will stick to the company and turn up and just finish the work given to them, diligently, even if they are a little slower than the others?

There was an awkward pause on the other end of the phone call, because face to face meetings are rare these days. But he then said that I should stop joking and start working now. Sigh!

Dear readersThe working, struggling people out there, if you’re reading this post, my question to you is – is it wrong to desire to be average? Should there be more of us standing up and announcing, “I am average and I am proud to be one”!? I, for one think this is the age where we need to champion average-ism because everyone is being exceptional and sometimes striving to be exceptional can give people like me a lot of anxiety 😀

I mean, I like a buffet. I would like to try out all the flavours of life out there. I tried to be exceptional and it has given me acidity and anxiety in return. I don’t have ten thousand hours to become an expert on one thing, because I don’t just want to do one thing! What if I don’t want to be a Master of something and just want to remain a Jack of all trades? What is wrong with that? I want to be the employee who might not be the topper but will always turn up and be loyal and helpful to her colleagues. I want to be the runner who doesn’t get the podium, but gets to come last in multiple races and make new friends. I want to be the writer who isn’t critically acclaimed or a master bestseller, but someone whose books or articles make others smile or nod in agreement. I want to be a dancer who doesn’t perform on the stage, but who dances nevertheless. I want to be a businesswoman who doesn’t need to give TED talks but has managed to open her bookshop – cafe where she earns money for her keep, and friendships for her soul. I want to be the drummer/pianist who is not in a bestselling band, but one who can perform for her daughter or close friends or just herself when she is a tad tipsy 😀 I want to be be many different people and I don’t have ten thousand hours for each of the people I want to be. I don’t want to be exceptional. I want to be average and I want to try out everything life has to offer. Shouldn’t that be a new mantra? So how do I go about doing this in a capitalist world full of expectations? Any ideas?

2022 Wrap Up and Dreams for 2023

I know I have been missing from the blogging world since mid last year. I thought about blogging almost every day – I had so much to share and catch up with old friends, but this job I started last year has turned out to be a time sucking monster and I haven’t had much time to do anything else.

However, I’m hoping that I will get better at managing my work and time this year and be able to blog at least once a month 🙂

I was looking for my 2022 Goals post on my blog and I found it here! Looks like I had some kind of divine premonition about the upcoming work because I didn’t set any goals for 2022 for myself! But as per my post, I had wishes. Here were my wishes for 2022 and updates on whether they were fulfilled or not 🙂

2022 Wish: I still want to read a lot – > Jan 2023 Update: I didn’t fulfil my Goodreads goal of reading 72 books in 2022 but I did read around 50 books, some of them really good. So I’m happy with my reading life.

2022 Wish: I want to travel locally and internationally (and visit my sister)Jan 2023 Update: Yes!! This was fulfilled! I visited my sister in London twice last year and both times were probably the highlight of my year in 2022!

2022 Wish: I want to see Coldplay’s ConcertJan 2023 Update: I did!! I did see their concert in London for my 40th Bday and I tell you, it was life changing.

2022 Wish: I want to write moreJan 2023 Update: This is one place I did badly. I mean, I got this awesome news that one of the short stories I had submitted was published in an anthology available on Amazon, but that was March. I had wanted to jump on the high of that news and write more but alas, after spending 8-9 non stop hours on my computer as part of y day job, I was left with little energy to be able to write. Hopefully, this is something I will change in 2023.

2022 Wish: I want to take care of my physical healthJan 2023 Update: Actually this one had started quite well in the start of the year. I was continuing with my morning run-in group, was cycling, running 10Ks, successfully completing the 100 Days of Running Challenge, doing strength training. But then my daughter started school in April and her school started earlier. I also started a new job which started early too. So the morning group workouts had to go. Then in the second half of the year, I was struggling with physical and mental issues which impacted my workout routine as well. That is another thing I’d like to improve in 2023.

2022 Wish: I want to quit my job and do something that I like – like open a bookshopJan 2023 Update: Oh gosh, this one still remains a dream. Sigh. And an even further dream right now because I am drowning in home loans and education expenses and there is no additional funds available to start a bookshop. I guess this one will need to be postponed by a few years, at least until the home loan is sorted. I do still want to quit my job because IT corporate is sucking my soul and life away, but I don’t see many alternate options. Maybe I need to keep looking out for jobs until I land in the right one?

2022 Wish: I want to take care of my mental healthJan 203 Update: I did have my lows. Then I had a week long period of extreme darkness in November. I couldn’t stop crying every day and was finding it hard to be happy or positive or smile, even for my loved ones. It was an ordeal – that one week. But I’m glad I’m out of that dark phase now. I tried a therapist too but I didn’t like my therapist in the first session. Books and journalling are definitely helping, along with chatting with my inner circle. But there is still work that needs to be done here, so this will continue into 2023 as well.

2022 Wish: I want to take care of my familyJan 2023 Update: Well, I am taking care of my daughter and home. And I was able to visit my sister a couple of times in 2022. But I think I wasn’t able to help my mom and bring her as much joy and comfort as I would’ve liked to. My mom is an exceptional woman, so kind and so sacrificing that the world just takes from her and gives nothing in return. I wish I lived closed to her so I could be there for her more often. I don’t know how to help her more. Maybe I will get some ideas as the year progresses.

2022 Wish: I want to be there more for my friendsJan 2023 Update: I don’t think I did well in this one either. I had struggling so much between work and my own issues that I don’t think I did justice in keeping up with my friendships. Another thing that needs to be carried forward to 2023 again 🙂 But kudos to my friends and inner circle, they made me feel special and loved every time I met them this year – not to forget the extended turning-40 birthday celebrations!

2022 Wish: I don’t want to be too active on social media and by that I mean Instagram, considering that’s the only social media I’m on. But then, how do I promote my reading or book cafe or blogs? – Jan 2023 Update: Yep, I definitely wasn’t very active on Instagram because I didn’t have much content to post! hahahah!

Now that I’ve covered last year, let’s talk about looking forward? 2023 – what are my dreams for you? I don’t want to use the words Goals or Visions or Aspirations. They stress me out. I have to listen to these words enough during my day job anyway. Here are my dreams and wishes for 2023:

  • I wish that my health gets better and that if I get a surgery then it goes well and makes me healthier rather that the other way round.
  • I wish that I am able to read some really good and impressionable books this year.
  • I dream of having a role or a job where I will be satisfied and which will give me money to sustain as well as time to enjoy a proper work-life balance.
  • I dream of traveling to at least one new destination in India in 2023.
  • I dream of traveling to at least one new destination abroad in 2023.
  • I wish I can spend more time with my mom and sister and my best friend and be able to bring them joy and comfort, than I did last time.
  • I dream of a slow life and to be able to enjoy a slow life. A life where my days are spent in nature, with long walks, long talks, good books, good music, food and drinks.
  • I don’t want to run a half marathon or achieve any of those fitness milestones anymore, but I do want to be able to run consistently and cycle and yoga and walk. I definitely would like to not become unhealthier this year. I hope my body and mind are both able to cope better this year.
  • I dream that I complete my Artist’s Way course and develop a writing habit, where I am able to journal daily, blog frequently, publish a few short stories here and there and complete a draft of my novel – at least one of them this year.
  • I wish and pray that everyone has a good or better health in 2023 – my family, friends and people in the world.
  • I dream of taking one relaxed solo trip this year to rejuvenate and connect with myself – even if its just for a day or a weekend.
  • I wish I can go on a mother-daughter trip with my daughter, but this one might be difficult since we have only three possible holidays available in a year and most of them will be booked with family trips I guess 🙂
  • I wish I can join the sisterhood at our choice of destination to end 2023, just like we did in Goa in 2022 🙂

Whew, this post took me an entire day to write, with me taking 5 minute chunks in the day to put everything together here from the whole of last year. In hindsight, when you put together all your ups and downs you realise that you had more ups than downs and that the downs were bearable because of all the other things and people who made it so and through your own strength and resilience to be better and happier.

How was your year and what dreams and wishes do you have for yourself in 2023? 🙂

Day 5 – 10 Mins for 10 Days

Today, you will get a story, dear readers. Not sure how good or interesting the story will be, but the prompt says that we have to write a story using some keywords that Tammy shared.

Story Title: Empty Wind

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

Anita ignored her phone, just as it buzzed for the third time in ten minutes. She knew who the messages were from and what they said. Instead, she looked at her watch, the straps covering fresh bruises on her wrists. She covered her arms with the sleeves of her coat, as the brush of cold wind blew through the platform. Her heart beat with excitement and nervousness at the same time. She had to calm herself down.

‘I know it is going to be alright. I know she will love me. Because I know I love her, have always loved her,’ she thought to herself.

The train approached as her phone buzzed again. She took one look at the messages, full of hate and anger and left her phone on the bench she was sitting on.

The train stopped and people started to get in and out in a rush. Thankfully it wasn’t rush hour. She didn’t want to lose her again, not like this.

Someone tapped her from behind. “Mom?”

She turned and took in the sight of the almost-grown up girl looking at her. She didn’t look angry. Or disappointed. She knew then that he had lied to her. She smiled tentatively at the beautiful girl in the tie die sweatshirt standing in front of her. Another gust of cold wind swept the platform as the train left the station, just as Anita exhaled the breath she didn’t know she was holding. Just as both mother and daughter hugged each other. And just like that, she felt free. Free of the illusion of hurt and dread that she had carried all these months. Free like the empty wind.

Day 4 – 10 Mins for 10 Days

Today’s prompt is ‘Non Sequiturs‘. But with a twist. I have to write a truth about myself and then follow it up with another truth, but one which will have no connection to the first one. How many such sentences or truths can I write about myself within ten minutes?

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

But before I start, have you wondered about your truths ever? I was thinking about this prompt and realised there are some truths that will be easy to divulge to strangers. Whereas there will be some truths that I will keep close to my heart or maybe just share with people I completely trust. There are other times when I may not even realise a truth about myself that someone else might point out to me. And then there are the truths that I don’t want to acknowledge. Something dark, or heart breaking or sinister. Some truths are meant to be forgotten. But these are the ones that make the best stories I guess.

I wonder though, as a writer, if a lot of what we write is autobiographical to some extent, how comfortable will we be sharing our thoughts with people who know us, but don’t really know us? How does one overcome this as a writer? How do you use a muse without letting them know they were your muse? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Or tips if any.

Now, here are some of my truths – the ones that are easy to share:

I will turn 40 this year.

I have a t-shirt that says, “Hang on, let me overthink this.”

I ran 2Kms this evening in the rain.

I overslept this morning and didn’t even hear my alarm ring.

I prefer savoury over sweet.

I think I’ll stop at this. The timer ran out. I realised that the easier truths to share seemed very biographical. Things like my age, my preferences or what I did in the day, were really easy to write and share. And it was hard to figure out how to write a non-sequitur using these truths, because they don’t seem disjointed. Put together, they will give a picture of me, even if its superficial at this stage.

What are some truths that you would like to share with me? Can you share two truths about yourself which are also non sequiturs? I’d love to read in the comments 🙂

Day 3 – 10 Mins for 10 Days

9 Things I Noticed Today (During my commute to and from work):

  1. I noticed the river was full and adorned with lush green bushes and trees on both sides, all thanks to the incessant rain
  2. I noticed there was a lot of traffic both while going to work and returning
  3. I noticed a pregnant woman wearing a brown and white hijab coming out of a police station, gently holding her tummy
  4. I noticed a traffic Policeman sitting and scrolling his mobile while the traffic went haywire
  5. I noticed three old men with the typical Maharashtrian white caps sitting at a bus station and talking, while the rest of the world zoomed by
  6. I noticed a young man squatting on the sidewalk of the bridge and scrolling his phone
  7. I noticed that the auto rickshaw driver driving me today from work was a young man and he drove very fast
  8. I noticed a small pond which was completely covered with a bright light green moss, which made it look like a velvet green carpet and I really had the urge to sit on it
  9. I noticed a dilapidated watch tower in a field of trash

What are the 9 things you noticed today? Let me know in the comments 🙂 I wonder if I can write a mystery using this list.

As promised yesterday, I also have my song that I want to tell you about. I’ve been listening to Imagine Dragon’s new album – Mercury I & II. The lyrics of most of the songs speak to me so much. The entire album is about mental health and being worn out with life today. I loved every line in almost every song. But one of the songs that stuck with me was “Lonely“.

Just like most of the things I noticed today, except for the bunch of old men in the bus stop, everyone else was alone. They somehow seemed lonely to me. Sometimes I feel lonely too. Especially when I’m surrounded by people. I try things to keep myself busy, but it doesn’t alter the fact that I feel lonely, anxious and depressed sometimes. Do you feel like that too?

What is a song you heard recently that spoke to you? 🙂

Day 1 & 2 – 10 Mins for 10 Days

From Tammy’s Post

Ready, set and go! My timer has been set and oops, there goes the bell! I mean the doorbell. This is my life. Every time I sit down to get my meditative mode on to try and write something, an idea of a story, a continuation of my existing stories, a short story maybe, life interrupts. The interruptions can take a million forms. But every interruption takes me further away from the mindset I need to write.

Since the day one of my short stories was published, instead of writing more, I have hardly written! Unless you count journalling or watsapping writing. Every day I would look at my planner and feel a stab of guilt for not being able to check off that writing box that I had sworn I would include in my daily routine.

So when my writer friend and teacher came up with her 10 minutes of writing for 10 days challenge, I thought, I should sign up. And then I went a step further. I also enrolled into her PUSH group because I have noticed that sometimes I am better at sticking to things when I hold myself accountable. And what better way to hold yourself accountable than by joining a supportive community? I had noticed how I have reaped the benefits of improving my consistency with running since I joined the local running group, so I thought maybe this will work with my writing too?

Luckily this wasn’t a 100 Days of Running sort of challenge where if you actually miss a day, it won’t be counted. I think you can bend the rules a bit to help yourself. The important bit is sitting down to write. Something, anything. So I decided, I will write 20 minutes today, instead of 10 minutes, and that should in a way account for 2 days of writing for 10 minutes? Potaytoes-Potahtos??

I don’t know what form my writing will take, but maybe these can be my daily pages or be written in addition to my daily pages. Whatever be the case, I’m glad I have started this challenge.

I finished the sentence in the paragraph above and looked at my timer. 7 minutes remaining. I had thought that I had already written for 20 minutes.

Finding time or creating time for the things that matter or the things that you love feels like trying to build up a failing business. You try to cut corners, let go of some activities that merely consume resources – time and give nothing in return, make some people unhappy because you chose to write or run or read instead of going out for a drink with them or face timing them. But if all this leads to getting your passion up and running again, it will all be worth it, wouldn’t it? Everyone will understand. Maybe you will be able to make time for everyone eventually. Maybe you will add some more things into your business of writing?

In the three minutes that remain, and if you’ve for some reason decided to read the entirety of this post, let’s end it with a question. No, its not about time or business or even writing.

Its about music. What is a song you heard very recently, that stayed with you or appealed to you because of its lyrics and not its music or the artist. This is what I will be writing about tomorrow. I’ll tell you about the song I chose in my entry tomorrow. I can be one song or more than one. Whatever suits your fancy and whatever I can fit in 10 minutes. Wink!

My Running Life – June 2022 Updates

I had written a post about my running life and goals in March this year. If you are interested to read my first post on running, you can head out here. I have been running since 2015 and yet when I tell people I run, they immediately ask, “HMs/FMs”? (That’s short for Half Marathons or Full Marathons?) And the irony is, that most of the time this question comes from non runners.

In March however, while I had gone for one of my short morning runs, I listened to an audiobook on running slow marathons and was inspired. So I started this plan of adding goals to my running life, that will keep my love for running alive and spice it up as well? That’s how all long term relationships work right? You have to keep spicing things up, changing your goals, adding something new 🙂

In the last three months, I have been able to achieve my goal of running two 10Ks at the pace of 75 minutes and also signed up for 100 Days of Running. Hopefully I will be able to complete my 100 days of running challenge 🙂

So, here are a list of things that I learned, loved and was frustrated about in the last three months of running with my new goals:

  • Learned: I used to be a solo runner. Planning any kind of event with strangers on a regular basis used to be anxiety inducing. But now, I realised that I am more disciplined and I run better since I’ve joined my local running group. Somehow, they make me feel calm and slightly less anxious with their dedication, kindness towards newcomers and general camaraderie 🙂
  • Love: The feeling of having done a good run/workout daily and bragging about my runs to my family, colleagues and friends
  • Not a fan of: Running during my periods. I just hate it. I read a lot about how women runners deal with running during their periods. What they wear for their runs, how they manage cramps, nutrition, etc. But in the end, I simply dislike the whole feeling. So the first three days, I usually skip the whole running routine and go for a brisk walk or a small jog instead
  • Learned: Strength training and cross training are really important if you want to improve your core and overall body strength, muscle mass and stamina as a runner. I have tried to attend most of the strength training sessions hosted by the running group
  • Love: Running in the monsoons! Not when its actually pouring, but when its overcast and windy or maybe when there’s a slight drizzle. It’s amazing!
  • Not a fan of: Waking up at 5:00 am. Or even earlier, especially for a running event..gah! Even more frustrating is that I can never sleep well before a running event because I keep thinking that my alarm didn’t ring and I slept through the event. Not to mention the fact that my anxiety leads me to a poop festival and a rumbling tummy that warns me about impending poops up until the run actually starts!
  • Learned: Hydrating before and after a run is of utmost importance. I used to get these terrible migraines every time I ran a 5K. Forget 10K. But with the slow and steady training sessions and proper hydration – no, not just water, but something with electrolytes, juice, coconut water – my post run migraines have reduced a lot in frequency and intensity.
  • Love: I can eat more carbs and not feel guilty about it!!!!!
  • Not a fan of: Not seeing any major improvement around the belly fat reduction area..LOL..but its ok, I love running and I love eating, so go figure 😀

Goals for the next two months:

  • Focus on completing the 100 Days of Running Challenge
  • Try to turn up more often for the Sunday long runs and increase my running distance slowly from 10K to 12K/13K. This will mean less or no drinking on Saturday nights…sigh 😀
  • Sign up for a few more running events for 10K, preferably one in a different city 🙂

I want to start training for my first Half Marathon eventually. But I want the 100 Days challenge to be over first. A friend and I decided that we will take it slow and also follow Hal Higdon’s training plan for novice – Half Marathoners. If everything goes well, then maybe I will be able to run my first HM by end of this year. But even if I can’t do it this year, I’ll mostly do it next year 🙂

Here is how my Hal Higdon training plan for the 10K went like 🙂

I hope this post was informative for others who have started their journey as runners or already are runners. For the seasoned runner readers here, I’d love to hear about your running goals, training plans, what you learned and love about running 🙂