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Sunday, January 22, 2012

We've Moved!

Brothers and Sisters (pump up the volume). Ooops! Sorry - that just slipped out. (Naturally of course). I have moved the blog over to new digs at

Check it out at: There are some things I need to refine, but most of the boxes have been unpacked and the curtains are hung up.

I think we are pretty much ready to open for business :-)

Come on over and tell me what you think. I know its hard to sometimes handle change, but I hope you are willing to do it with me.

When I first started blogging in 2009, I did it within some boundaries that did not always make blogging enjoyable, though that is how it started and that is what I had hoped to gain from it.

Fast forward to 2011.

2011 started out tough and ended even tougher. Ultimately, I went through something really challenging last year. It was hard - so hard. But most of it wasn't something I could share here. And when you have something that consumes you but which you cannot share, it kind of makes it hard to want to write at all.

Let's face it, I don't want to write a blog about the weather. Or the latest "Bachelor."

I want to write a blog about the truth. My truth.

So other than the re-design, I think you will notice some changes. Not just in the layout but in the nature of my posts. I hope to dig just a little deeper, just a little more truthfully than I have in the past.

Thank you for sharing the past few years of writing with me. I have a learned a great deal not only about myself from my writing, but about myself from your insights.

Thank you.

Now, no dilly dallying. Come on over!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Place Called Ideally

I have always been hard on myself and the expectations I place on myself. There are times where I struggle with the realization that the desire to succeed is in fact some form of self-punishment. Punishment in that I create near impossible situations to accomplish.

This causes me a great deal of angst.

I have always lived in the world of "ideally." I have held myself to an often impossible standard. Some of these standards are driven by societal expectations, others by arbitrary deadlines and confines I place on myself.

Do any of these situations sound like they might sound familiar to you?

Sharing a dinner with an amazing beautiful, brilliant and accomplished friend lamenting the fact that she is still single. Because ideally, she would have met her dream man by 30 (not 40) and had the 2.5 kids she always expected to have.

She is a city girl, so ideally, she would not have picket fences, but a laundry machine would be nice.

Ideal, even.

A young married woman struggles with issues bearing children. Ideally, she would have had at least two by now, but its been impossible to conceive and the one time she got pregnant, she miscarried so early on. She struggles under the weight of this consuming need to love and hold the child she dreams of.

Instead she presses her abdomen as she shudders from the coldness and unforgiving nature of the womb she has been dealt.

she wishes God would hear her pleas and grant her this gift so many women stumble upon without even really trying.

Ideally, she would like to conceive, but would be open to adoption.

It's just not ideal. Not to her anyway.

A woman goes to bed alone. Her kids are sleeping and she sighs a tired breath as she inhales her loneliness and exhales out her frustration. This was not supposed to be her life. Ideally, she would have a husband who saw her, respected her. She thought in her twenties that by the time she was thirty she should be married with kids, ideally. Have a nice house and a great job.

Those things have all happened. But her idea of "ideally" is far from ideal. The check boxes have all been marked, but there was so much nobody told her, so much she didn't understand.

She takes off her reading glasses and turns off the light, alone with the thoughts that haunt her every night.

On the surface, it looks ideal. But boiling under the surface, below that layer of her mind where her thoughts run like a river, there is a parallel stream of regret that clenches her heart and makes her ache inside.

I have often chased after what seemed like required milestones in my life with the "Ideally" lenses on. When you put on the "ideally" lenses, they skew things a little. You see life the way you think it should be, the way you want so badly for it it be.

But life is rarely that predictable. And the missteps we often take in our rush to the summit of "Ideally" are often hard to backtrack from. Retracing to a new "ideally" seems impossible for many.

I sometimes get asked questions along the lines of "Ideally, what is it that you are looking for?" I think if you had asked me many years ago, my answer would be pretty clear. But life happens and you realize that the weight of "Ideally" runs the same risks of trying to accomplish perfection.

And perfection scares me. It leaves me in a pile of angst and insecurity, completely unsure of myself. Its a whole lot of pressure that I don't need in the high expectation filled life I lead where I feel I often let myself down the most on unrealistic expectations of myself and others around me.

If you are waiting for perfect from me, you better get in line and plan to wait a while.

Grab a seat.

Bring some popcorn, even.

As a mother, a professional, a business owner, a wife and friend, there are few things I do perfectly. I bust my little Indian hiny trying to get there, but I have come to terms with the fact that both the number of hours and the energy I can dedicate in this life are finite. And my best will just have to do.

Ideally, that will be as close to perfect as I can get.

I bet you are thinking, well you MUST think your kids are perfect. So lets do a brief inventory, everything from their little limbs, to their big brown eyes, to their distinct little voices can bring me to tears.

Because those little limbs can pack a mean punch, those brown eyes can weep tears the size of marbles over not being given the right color Skittle (who knew today was the day Orange was the best?) and those voices can say some pretty mean stuff to a mother, who IDEALLY, would not want her kids to talk fresh.

But I think that perfection is a heavy burden for any of us to bear. I can't and won't be the one to place it on my children, Shaila and Nico. Let's face it, being perfect is damn near impossible and to be honest, its a bit boring, isn't it?

Its great to have dreams. Its great to want things. But I think if we tried a little less to live our lives in the world of "ideally" and spent a little more time listening to our hearts and ignoring the voices in our heads and around us that say things like the things I have heard said to friends below, we'd be a whole lot happier.

"Oh, you're not married? Oh I'm so embarrassed - sorry! You'll meet Mr. Right one day!" Pause. "Or, um, Mrs. Right?! You're not gay, are you? It's just so unusual to find straight women in their forties."

"HOW many kids do you have? Oh, none?! Well, hopefully you guys get cracking soon. Its harder the older you get, you know!"

"When are you guys getting married? You seem perfect together! I know we only saw you together that one time, but I could tell by the way he held your hair over the deck when you puked that he really loves you. You better nab that one!"

"Oh, you look so good. Have you put on some weight? I can tell you must be under pressure. You're just not at your ideal weight."

Give the voice you hear and often block out, the one deep inside you, a little more credit. Give it a listen. And remember, you don't have to follow my advice.

But ideally, you will.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get Your Pretty On

That's my daughter, Shaila. No, I am not picking lice out of her hair (though sadly, I have my own memories of that and can tell you vividly what RID smells like).

Roses. RID smells like roses mixed with gasoline. And then as if someone took a whiff of those roses and then threw them in a sewer to die.

Tell you more about that another day. It's promises like this that keep you coming back for more, I just know it.

On a more positive note, going back to Shaila.

My daughter is a lot of things. On good days I call her fearless. On bad days I tell myself she takes more after her father. (I don't know why that makes me feel better, John. Just trust that it does the trick and I can get through the day better).

Lately there seems to be a lot more good than bad. Which is AWESOME, don't get me wrong. The thing is, I feel like I am constantly reminded of how everything is just a phase in childhood development. Given that rationale I might have to believe that this includes some of the good as well as the bad.

So I am going to cherish whatever sweetness I can get from her (in case it's short-lived) and inhale her sweet smell which is so much better than rubber cement.

Rubber cement smells better than RID, just in case you want to know.

And just absorb the amazing spirit she has right now.

When I look at her, this is what I see. A spunky dreamer. Kind and loving and ALWAYS willing to share her Legos. Sensitive - I caught her crying during "Ice Age" during the scene where Queen Latifah remembers where she is from.

Shaila, of course, started bawling but would only admit to having dirt in her eye.

Stubborn. Determined. Adventurous, even.

And the best laugher ever.

So my daughter, this little spitfire of a girl - well, she came home and told me something that made me sad. And that I am hoping is kind of a phase.

Listen to this.

Why does this make me anxious?

She has blonde envy.

Like, major, major blonde envy.

I don't know if you noticed, but we are pretty, well, NOT blonde. Again, we are many things and blonde just isn't one of them.

My beautiful, gorgeous BRUNETTE daughter who is four years old, already believes that blonde hair is prettier than brown or black.

She has come home recently to talk to me about one girl in particular in her pre-school class, speaking almost reverently about her "golden" hair. The precious child in question is in fact, quite a cutie. I can already guess she will be in some way connected to the Homecoming court many years from now and definitely has the makings for the cheerleader squad.

I don't remember having blonde envy as a child. I had "pretty girl" envy - which I think is pretty normal - but I grew up in a town with lots of exotic beauty. When I say "exotic," I mean white brunettes - that's about as much excitement that the town of Old Bridge, New Jersey could take when I was growing up. If you went beyond a certain level of olive in darkness, your looks were discounted.

Kind of like mine. And in those cases you hoped that you had brains and sports to carry you through because otherwise, it was a pretty non-rewarding high school existence.

So I was at the library a lot.

But being pretty is more feasible today than it was in the past. Special pills, treatments, surgeries, medical spas that can suck out your fat over lunchtime are all the trend. And why wouldnt they be? We live in a society where beauty standards have become elevated as women "fix" themselves to the point of external perfection. In this quest for beauty, so many women can chase after all the things they always wanted to be or have.

Busty - go get some big boobs. Flabby - go get that lipo done on your hips. Blonde - Dye your hair from brown to ashy blonde.

All doable and in many ways, encouraged by the images our children and yes, we women, see on the television screen.

As a young woman who never thought of myself as pretty, when I got to college and realized that a few people thought I was semi-cute, I tried to cling to those fifteen minutes of pretty as hard as I could.

And it was hard for me to keep my pretty on after I popped both kids out of my nether-regions and found myself frankly a bit traumatized by the whole thing.

I have cheated in the process to keep my pretty on. Shaila sees her Mommy who once had curly hair with Keratin'ed hair that shines and is the straight hair of my childhood dreams.

But the funny thing about dreams, especially when they are shallow in nature and reflect only the most physical change in the mirror, is that they don't really feel all that special. Not really at all, actually.

Shaila may one day want to dye her hair blonde. Or PURPLE for that matter, just to piss me off. I won't stop her from trying to satisfy this need because I did it and well, I feel like she needs to make her own mistakes. I will probably like it anyway - she is my firstborn, so unless it comes out REALLY ashy, I will still let people know she is mine.

She will hopefully learn that its a journey most women need to make in some capacity to understand that there is only so much change you can do to yourself before you stop recognizing - and perhaps - liking yourself.

Newsflash, Darling. You are gorgeous. Like so beautiful that I hurt sometimes when I look at you. I ache because I know there will be self-doubt at times or perhaps reflections of all the things you AREN'T.

No matter what, we embrace you as you are. Don't lose sight of who you are and what makes you so special. Its not going to be your hair or your sweet little dimple on your left cheek.

Its going to be your joy, your bravery and your ability to look in the mirror and always like - no, love, the person you are.

I guarantee you that if you do this, you will come farther than many people ever will.

Mommy will always hold you tight.

We cling to youth and what's not ours,
External beauty as if it matters,
In the end, what we have is deeper
Than any reflections within our mirrors - Kiran Ferrandino

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Do you ever feel like your day just kind of ran away from you? I sit here and it's 11 PM. I know I should be in bed, because I know the trouble I have when my kids get up. I want to stay curled up under the covers and no amount of coffee can make me move from out and under the lovely, comfortable, soft and downy warmth of my bed which all make me want to ....


Sorry - that's about how easy it is to pass back out in the mornings, so excuse me while I get some coffee.

It's just...

Well, I feel like whether you are a working mother or a stay at home one (I will include daddies in this too, because I know plenty who fulfill both roles), by the time everything (and I mean EVERYTHING, as if I really did sweep every last bit of rice off the floor) is done and the kids are FINALLY in bed, I feel a little like...

"Ok what the HELL just happened?"

Because the day is done. Finito. Pretty much gone. And while I had some great highs in my work day (maybe some lows) and some amazing moments with my kids (or not), I just feel like, when the heck do you get to do the things that YOU need to do. NOT the laundry. Not the bills. Not even time on the phone with family.

I mean the things that make you more balanced as individuals - you know - journaling, exercising, writing, playing music. Just examples, please don't throw a rock at my head because I left off basket-making or pottery or anything. Those are very noteworthy as well.

Everybody has a heartsong. So how do you find yours? Or recognize that maybe it has gone someplace to hide with the sentiment, "hey she is not ready for me now with all this crazy stuff going on, but she will be ready by the time the kids are both in school" so you can put it in the drafty part of your closet right next to the old BCBG dress you refuse to donate because you JUST KNOW you will fit into it again.


Are you delaying singing that heartsong or maybe just saying goodbye to your dream?

Are you maybe, just a teensy bit scared? Of not being successful? Of risks? Of what people might think?

Still a mother.
Still a professional.
Still a wife.

But also...

Still a dreamer.

I have friends who have found their "heartsong." It's the ability to take what they have passion for in their hearts and make it integral part of their lives in some way, a way that it is woven in that it cannot be denied or perhaps made into less of a priority. For them, fulfilling these heartsongs has allowed them to live to new potentials they would never have known. Yes - they were mothers, but beyond mothers, they are also artists and needed a push in finding that song.

I think that I want these moments because right now my heart is kind of "skipping" in terms of playing the song. Its got a lot of static and it just sounds like a really crappy recording, probably similar to the recordings I used to tape off of Z100's top 5 at night on my radio/cassette player.

I can hear it, but because maybe its singing a few different tunes, I haven't found my "song" yet.

Is that crazy? Do you believe that you have a heartsong that you were meant to pursue? Something that always brings you back to a dream that you feel is unfulfilled.

Now listen here. If you tell me your heart always wanted to be Eva Longoria, I know that this will be a LIE because she only rose in popularity in the last six years. It needs to be a legit heartsong. A yearning, really. A yearning to pursue something which you have captured and mastered in your dreams in a way that you are comforted by the thought, and saddened by its absence in life.

For friends who I have who have taken that leap of faith, I must say that I applaud you. You are braver than me, and definitely more talented than I will ever be in the areas you found your heartsongs.

You make me want to be brave and own up to my own dreams.

And do you think that maybe if we listened a little harder to that song, and muted all of the other crap in our lives while also paying less attention to all of the areas that we are weak or make excuses for - that we are denying ourselves and our families a better life?

Just because YOU would ultimately be happier.

The journey to find your heartsong is a tough one. Sometimes realizing you have not achieved it makes it hard for your heart to sing anything, even happy Christmas songs. But you are brave and you can do this. Maybe in 2012 we can all listen a little bit HARDER and sing a little bit LOUDER.

It's not easy. Hard things never are. That's what makes them hard.

But soooo worth it.

I may not know my heartsong yet, but I can sing a bra off a drunk girl in a crowded bar. (True story, I HAVE done this). So I think its important that I really give this whole thing a try.

Don't you think you should too?

Dig deep. Don't tell me resolutions. Tell me your dreams. What have you always wanted to do? What made you stop? Could you, WOULD you - if you knew that it was an option?

If you could, but you won't, why not? Are you scared?

Please don't stop dreaming sisters and misters. You are brave. You CAN do it. I will try with you and I guarantee that if we do - we will sing this song in really kick ass harmony together. Like a "Feed the World" meets "USA for Africa" kind of harmony.

Sing your heart out. Just don't let you heart ever stop singing. Even if right now, it may only be a whisper.



I am really, really flexible. Bendy, in fact.

See this picture of me? It was taken in Hawaii last year.


It was basically taken in a place I call my dreams and apparently didn't involve me or any joints. Bones, even.

I am the least physically flexible person I know. In a quest to reach my toes, I am often amazed how ridiculously arthritic and just, well - UNCOMFORTABLE - I look as I try to inch my way anywhere south of my calves.

I have had a lifelong jealousy of people who have the ability to do things like splits and back bends with ease. The kind of people who you might end up sitting next to at the end of your workout at the gym, who manage to wrap their legs around their head while you make a valiant effort to do some half ass stretches.

Ughh, really.

Or that lady in my yoga class who I always manage to stand next to in Bikram. The one who can touch her head to her toes while still looking cute.

There are many things in life which are unfair.

I always felt like I got dealt a short stick. Or, whatever that saying is because as I type this, I realize that that makes absolutely no sense and I am mangling cliches again.

People say, "Oh it comes with practice." Well let me tell you something, sister. Or mister.

I practice. I practice so hard. I bend and stretch and try and hold and push some more and sweat and bend and god, why is this so damn hard?

I just don't seem to be going anywhere.

So, yeah, sometimes it feels like I am not going far. And how it bruises my ego and my vanity to realize that I look far from cute as I aim and shoot and fail.

Gosh, why are my toes still so freaking far away?

Sometimes it hurts me to look at myself in the mirror on these days where I feel like I cannot find that edge - the edge where the "me" in the mirror looks like the "me" that I envision in my head. The one who is not hindered by structural limitations - real or perceived.

Its hard to acknowledge that I well never be a yogi, despite the fact that I can pronounce Sanskrit better than most people in my class will ever be able to. And it feels hard because it feels like I have lost out on my birthright - a chance to bond closer with Indian culture.

Isn't that lame? Oh God! (Shiva, not Jehovah) just don't answer.

Its something that I am coming to terms with. I go to yoga and in my quest to gain some flexibility find myself being the furthest thing from peaceful or quiet in my head. Instead, I focus on weakness and not strength and isn't that maybe being just a little bit hard on myself?

I am not the woman in the picture above. And frankly, that's okay.

So I think I need pack my dreams of ever becoming Gumby away. It ain't happening. I will keep pushing myself, but only if I can do so without punishment.

Because life is not always a competition. And I have to stop competing with this image of the me in my head and the me looking in the mirror.

And when you are trying to be a mother, a wife, a businesswoman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a neighbor or WHATEVER role we try to wrap and bend ourselves into that day, sometimes you find that there is only so far you can bend before you break.

I am trying to be a little kinder to the "me" looking in the mirror. So maybe I should start now.

So I am looking in the mirror and taking an immediate stab at this. Looking pretty good, sister. Like, many not your full age even. Well, yeah - you do have that holiday weight on you, but that shouldn't be too hard to take off. Right? Hmm. Turning to the right. Your hair looks pretty nice and oh what is that? Yes, that is flour in my hair. Yes, my nail polish is chipping.

I start to take inventory of the house. I am nowhere near ready to do my taxes. My office is a mess and no, I am fine, that is not panic. My voice just sounds funny because this happens to people with tight hamstrings. Oh damn, the laundry is still waiting to get into the dryer.

What else? Oh shit, the Christmas tree is still up.








This year I will learn to be bendy. Not the "bendy" that I don't know if I will ever get physically, though I can keep trying. I will leave that to the women in my yoga class or videos or the Cirque de Soleil dancers. I mean that I will learn to be the kind of bendy that gives in to my life without being so darn hard on myself.

We can't all be Gumby.

But we can all learn to bend.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dip Your Toes in the Water

I remember going to the ocean as a kid and feeling like I was home. At that moment, it didn't matter that I was an Indian kid growing up in America who never felt quite like I fit in. It didn't matter that I was an American who would never quite fit in on the many trips I took to India - back to the country my parents had come from.

At the beach, the ocean seemed so much larger than anything running through my little head. Because even as a kid, my mind could not just sit the hell down. And I don't mean that in a - oh I was always just thinking about so many great ideas, in my pursuit for intellectual nirvana.

I mean it in the way that I wasn't sure where I belonged. Looking back I recognize it for what would be a lifelong journey with insecurity that many people struggle with.

I tell myself that others feel this so I don't feel quite so alone. (Or so crazy).

Things I think a lot of kids like me might have thought - Why don't I look like my friends? Why does my family seem so different from everyone else's? Why are my parents fighting, AGAIN?

You know, the normal shit most kids think about. Apparently, I was starting my lifelong questo to always ask "why?" for things I would never be able to answer, or were, in fact, quite obvious.

When I was at the beach, all of that went away. I smelled the salt water from miles away as we drove in caravans to the crowded shores of New Jersey. I didn't know yet that the rest of the country didn't always hold New Jersey in the highest esteem and had not yet been exposed to a lifetime of "Oh yeah? What exit?" type questions.

Yeah, so cute. And very original.

(Though I have to admit, at least you can get a geographical sense of where one lived in the often misunderstood Garden State. Let's remember that it IS called that, either because there ARE in fact, many gardens there. Or maybe just because we all have complexes about our garden free exits).

The anticipation would course right through me as I would wait. It was a whole lot of waiting, I can remember. Waiting for my parents to meet up with our uncles and aunties in our separate cars so we could caravan to the beach. Waiting for us to haul our station wagons through the Jersey traffic to the ocean. Waiting for the drawbridge that just HAD to pick that moment to be up.

Oh god someone has to pee.

Waiting to find a bathroom. Waiting for us to find a spot where we could lay out the colorful sheets and for the aunties to start arranging the coolers full of roti and sabji. God forbid we ate any of the food from the boardwalk or bologna sandwiches like the family next to us.

In retrospect, all ok - but I don't know. At the time, I just felt so darn strange.

And then finally, FINALLY!!, the waiting was over. I was free. The ocean was right there.

As the crispness of the wind coming off the ocean and the massaging feel of the sand soothed every inch of my being, I felt whole. The "crazy" was still there, but slightly muted in the unmitigated joy I felt, knowing that I would be running into that water in just a few minutes.

And I would remember running up to the water's edge, surrounded by my siblings and cousins, ready to run right in.

But I would stop.

Because the ocean, no matter how much it called to me like it was exactly where I needed to be - was cold. Sometimes colder than I could handle. And I wasn't always ready to be caught in the undertow. The few times that I had gotten caught in a wave still scared me, scared me the way I would never eat my mom's fish curry for fear of that time I got a bone stuck in my throat.

For you see, when you are 5, these things kind of stick with you.

But no matter what - no matter how much I still could hear the thoughts in my head asking why does nobody look like me, why can't I be like everyone else, why do I feel like my family is so broken, why am I surrounded by so much shouting all the time, why, Why, WHY?! - kind of way - I was finally home.

And as I would walk towards the small waves breaking on shore and put my little toes in while the water rushing back to the ocean pulled the ground away from under my feet, I came to realize that for me, life would always be a little of wanting to run towards what I know I couldn't control. That I would want to be in situations where the ground was never quite stable under my feet and where it was okay if things got messy.

The loud crash of the ocean was louder than the clashing voices raised in anger at home, the tears and the heartache I seemed to know too well at the age of 5.

This was the time, MY time, where I was just a normal kid, eating a roti with bhaigan bharta at the beach.

And eventually, once my toes were in the water, I would rejoice in something bigger than me, bigger than I could comprehend and surrender to what I knew I would always have to surrender to.



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