Fears are what keep us locked in our space. Usually this space is constricting enough to make you afraid of living your life for some. Fear of public speaking, fear of talking to strangers, fear of changing your city to make a fresh start are all genuine fears and we all have to cope with it.
Staying in our “fear city” only makes it more unbearable. We end up disapproving ourselves and our choices. If only I could have started with that joke I thought of or if only I had taken interest in her baking business, I could have had my way in. We are all a little insecure about something in our lives. Showing our talent, or even exploring a hidden talent which would only get better with a little bit of display, scares us. When you decide not to voice out your opinion at that meeting, you do become invisible. Nobody is going to judge you here, but you yourself. You see, we all know what is the right thing to do and yet we don’t actually do it.
For example, I know what I need to do to market myself as an artist. If I were to advise someone on it, I would be amazing. I would be their motivation Guru. And yet, I have my inhibitions, fear of being ridiculed or fear of not being taken seriously. We all go through it and that’s why we need family and friends. They hype you up enough to take that dreaded first step. If you are on your own, work at creating your tribe, your community which will understand you and support you.
It is very difficult to share your views on topics too. Blogging your heart out is tough. And yet, if you have something to say, just say it. What is the worst that could happen? You would get only 2 comments. It doesn’t matter if this is what you like doing. All those cliché quotes like, you have only one life, why not live it the way you want, do make sense.
Just do it or Dar ke aage jeet hai. Taglines which stick with you through life. Brands which have nailed life lessons to the T. When in doubt, my father would always like to say, “You can do it”. I would wonder about how someone could have so much faith in your capabilities than you have in yourself. But as you grow older, and have kids usually, you get it.
The one that stuck with me most and resonates every single time is “dar ke aage jeet hai”. It is so true that beyond your fears lies a world of possibilities. So, what stops us from doing the right thing or doing what we want? Driving your car independently, managing an event completely on your own at work, showing your handiwork to others or taking big financial decisions in your life, all need a little bit of an attitude shift. The first step is always the toughest. After that, you are on an invisible roller coaster which your family, friends and some strangers who somehow believe in you take you on. It’s another high to be appreciated, but it also takes a whole other dimension if you want to remain in your zone. Motivating yourself can be a very difficult task when you are in your own independent small scale-ish ventures.
I have heard it a million times from people, “Good going. It is nice that you are keeping busy doing what you like. “. Or “Do it just for fun and see how it goes, anyways you don’t need the money”. I think this also comes from a place of fear when people feel you might get hurt if you fail. I agree, failing brings you down, kills your vibe. But, isn’t everything in life a risk that you take? That first friend you talked to on your first day at school or the long drive through horrible traffic that you drove through and came out unscathed or even the job interview where you had to open yourself up to expressing your opinions. All big and really small stages in life ask for risk taking. So, if someone says that you are not a risk-taker…Pfft!
Again, it is a habit like any other. Let’s take that first step. Trust me it gets better.
Once upon a long time ago, there lived a man who worked in the fields all day with cattle too tired to till the land. The man and his wife lived in a small hut with a roof made of hay which got difficult to manage during the monsoons. They lived simply and had few utensils to cook in. They never had enough to cook anyway. The kids, a boy and a little girl enjoyed the morning sessions of milking cows and running around in their fields and then helping out in the fields. There were only a few more families around. So, activities were weddings and festivals and the one-off puppet show that the village headman arranged because he loved them too much. Who doesn’t love stories!?
The days would pass by and one day, after the monsoons eluded them once again, the wife felt it would all perish in a blink of an eye. Their existence would just be a blip on a map. And so, she started recording the lives lived by them. She started making a paste of rice flour and water and used the end of a straw from the roof of the house. She drew pictures of cows and birds, of men and women and their many everyday chores, the trees and her Gods on the red colour walls of her house. She drew all over the walls of her humble home. Everyone loved it so much that they tried it on their walls too. Soon, they realised that some of them were really good at drawing. They didn’t know much about the world outside and drew to keep their existence alive for the future generations.
It changed a little from village to village as some could add turmeric paste to create yellow, Kusuma flower to create vermillion and green from neem leaves. Some kept it white and some added colour to it. It started to take a life of its own. It became an important way to preserve their history.
Later, different dynasties would come to this wonderful land, some to destroy and some to appreciate this curious art form of drawing on walls. We, generations later, would unearth these art forms again to realise the richness of our country.
This is the puppeteer’s journey through the amazing land of possibilities, of art forms having the strength to change boundaries and explore human connections. Lets call him Raghav. Raghav lived not so far away from a village called Warli. He continued his family’s tradition of story-telling through puppets. He heard something wonderful was happening in Warli and wanted to be a part of it. So, he travelled by foot, still no sign of the slippers the man in his village promised him.
Warli was the largest tribe that lived in the outskirts of the big city, Mumbai. Mumbai was growing and changing drastically, but the Warli tribe decided to remain true to their roots. As soon as he reached the village, he saw beautiful sketches of animals, people and their various celebrations painted on the walls of many of the houses. Children ran to him and the adults enjoyed his puppet show, as they had heard a lot about them. So, still mesmerised with the art form, Raghav, the puppeteer, asked for something in return. He asked to be taught the art of Warli.
And so they made the rice paste and plastered the walls with a mixture of hay, red brick and some water. The red coloured wall was ready to paint on. The puppeteer enjoyed it thoroughly and was happy to have gained this exquisite knowledge. The Warlis were simple people and kept their essence alive through all the changes around the world just like their paintings.
Do you want to try a Warli? Here goes.
Paper / Canvas
White or Black gel pen / white or black paint
Aren’t these beautiful? After learning some Warli painting, Raghav sets off on his journey. Wonder where he goes next! Wait and watch!
Welcome back. We, as humans, love to create and for some, drawing is one of our expressions. We generally follow a format and a colour scheme. Yes, boundaries are good and rules help, and yet we do not want to explore our basic thoughts and delve deep into our creativity. Art has inspired people to calm themselves or go to war or think differently.
3 things we can do to keep the fire alive-
1. Learn about various artists around the world. Learn about their history, their lives and their motivations. Many artists were astrologers, scientists and inventors as well. Find out their reasons and their motivations. Find out if they caused a change in the mindset or cause trouble. So, learn.
2.Try different art forms from impressionist to abstract to realism to folk art. Every style will only strengthen your unique style. Be adventurous and find new ways to express yourself. You will improve and find your niche’. So, try new things.
3.Let us make mistakes and variations in our drawings. Let’s talk about art with others and on social media. Let’s talk about how it makes us feel when our artwork is shown to the world and there is positive feedback. Art should make you feel alive. So, make mistakes.
Art appreciation should be a wholesome experience. And if we are not artistic enough, we will at least learn about History and personalities. Introducing yourself to different art forms and learning about the masters and their techniques will be truly beneficial and we will also be able to think more clearly. So, my inspiration these days is mythology from India. The characters in all the scripts are mysterious or intriguing. They are good or conniving. They are invincible and conquerable. They have a distinct aura of something truly powerful. Also reading books on mythology and the various versions of it can be an inspiration for some.
What do you think ? Who are your inspirations? Who made an impact on your artwork style? Do comment and share your thoughts.
“I don’t want to colour my sketch. I will mess it up.” So, say some of my students. I can’t deny the fact that colouring our drawings scare us to bits. I have been there as well, many times. There are times when, even if you know the colour wheel well, you take the worst combinations. Some people, though, have an eye for the perfect colour combination for all of their artwork. I guess what worries us is that since we took so much effort to make a good sketch and with the wrong colours, we may just spoil the whole experience. I think we, as a society, put too much emphasis on being right all the time. Listing out some tips to keep your head on you shoulder when you have to colour your sketch.
Do not quit on yourself – It’s not like you will lose your talent. You can sketch it again. When we start thinking we won’t be able to sketch the same thing perfectly, that’s when doubts creep in. Remember, there’s no ‘perfect’ in art. It’s perspective. Previously, I would leave a sketch if I had put in the wrong colours. I wouldn’t take the effort to redraw it. But now, I want to get it right, so I sketch it again and fill it in. Don’t quit on yourself. Push yourself to sketch again. Maybe it will turn out even better than before.
Learn – Learn about the colour wheel and look at the works of other artists. Study them and emulate. Use colours suggested by them or get inspiration from somewhere else, like nature. Practice and do your trial and error. You will get it eventually. And in the process, you may find your unique style. Remember, the first dish that you made may have been a disaster, mine still is, but you get better with practice. So, make it a point to research and learn.
Have fun– Having fun with art helps you to stay “chill”. We put too much pressure on ourselves when we want to create something. Let’s just plan to have fun with it. When the pressure’s off, you will enjoy the process more and in turn you will create great art. Have fun with colours, use shades of one colour or only two colours or all of them. See what comes out of it. At least you will have an energizing experience.
Be proud of your art and your effort. Art should allow you to explore your world that you have probably forgotten. So, art away.
Art is everywhere. It’s not just in paintings and sketches on the walls. Art is in the dance and the song, the embroidery and the quilling and the doodles and the random scribbles. There is art in the calm way that a person cooks scrumptious dishes, the way they manage their homes, the way some manage homes and careers, the way some tell stories, the way some manage their businesses and the way some can talk their way out of situations. That’s definitely an art I need to learn.
Creativity takes courage – Henri Matisse
Art is basically the skill that a person possesses or develops to enjoy the process of creating something beautiful. So, from the father who convinces his child to eat healthy to the child who can bargain to get what they want are all artists. Don’t you think?
It is imperative for us to recognize the qualities that others possess, as art. So, give yourself a thumbs up and discover the artist in you.
Every day is a struggle of the mundane and the ordinary. Every day is the same old routine with little variation. Every day, for us adults, is the choice to be happy because our kids are watching us. If you don’t have kids, then you are watching yourself manage the situation. If we are having such a tough time handling such a restricted space, imagine what kids go through. We think they are fine as they are in front of us, we can feed them properly at the right times, they cut down on the travel time to and back from school. I mean they are fine and yet lonely. This is not normal.
I choose to be in my happy space no matter what is happening around me.
Social interaction is needed to an extent., how much ever of a loner you are. Some people thrive on it. And for them, this pandemic must be a punishment. To remain within the four walls, taking a million precautions even if you go out just for a bit, following all cleanliness procedures is a tiresome task. As adults, we have to manage it. What about children? Yes, we have programs in school about developing a strong inner self. Some benefit just by the talks and the stories. And yet there are those who need a lot more. I write here as a parent whose kid enjoys the online learning, is happy not to travel to school and happy to be home. But, also the kid who, may not agree, needs the social connection with the outside world, his friends, classmates and other adults. Trust me, looking at our faces the whole day is not anyone’s way of keeping it together.
Here is a list of at least 8 ways that we can try and do to keep our children in the ‘Happy Zone’.
1.Make a lot of noise-
Yes, make a lot of noise in the house. When you get up in the morning, move some pots and pans around, turn on the mixer, put on some bhajan, get creative. I realise many of us prefer the quiet mornings, but this is for the greater good of the mankind, kidkind, teenkind. So, let’s do this. Anyway, they think we are annoying. So let’s get into the groove of it. I feel when the family wakes up in the morning like this, it is like a jumpstart to the day ahead. Making noise is a way of telling our kids we are here (to annoy you). Knowing that you are around and that things are going on as usual keeps them in the happy zone. They get an assurance that although the outside word has come to a halt, we in our house are going on as usual. Don’t roll your eyes yet. There’s more coming. You will find something for your kid’s woes too.
I promise to make so much noise so that my child knows I’m there for him.
2. Eat Together-
Make it a point to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together at your dining table or outside in the balcony. There you can feed the parrots that come during lunchtime as well. So, eating together may not be something your teen looks forward to. Remember they prefer their ‘ me ‘ time, all the time. This could be a way to snoop into their world. Do you remember when they were younger and you knew every little detail about their life? Well, get back into that habit. Don’t get nosey and nag them about details of their girlfriend, but do it smartly, sneakily. Our teens are really smart. They can read you like a book. Not good for us. So we need our own strategy by asking the same question in a roundabout way. So, instead of asking, “What’s happening in school?” (you know they are going to say, “nothing”), ask if they are any new kids who have joined or ask about that friend who made a new game online to play. Start a discussion and then swoop in for the kill. (Evil laugh)
See what I did there? This is our chance to anticipate, foresee and strategise and get into our teen’s world. Tired yet? Don’t be. This is all just the preview. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost. (The movie hasn’t even begun yet). Eating is one activity every human has to do right? So, might as well do it together. This way you will know why your kid eats French fries but doesn’t like aloo ki sabzi.
I promise to be a little bit of a cool parent and a little bit of a detective.
3. Know their hobbies/games/friends/ friends’ friends/ their teachers…well everything-
Take interest in your child’s likes and dislikes. After all it is your child. We can give them at least half an hour, even if they look like they “understand” your busy schedule. They may be understanding but they may not appreciate it. Their games, specially boys, may not make any sense to us, but make it a point listen or better yet, sit and play with them. You may realise your kid is not low on concentration or strategizing in warding off his enemies. Ahha! So it’s just the studies they can’t focus on. Find a connection and motivate the hell out of them. If you listen to them, they listen back. Trust me. I have listened to long drawn stories of Minecraft episodes during a trip.
Don’t spy on their phone conversations, but do get to know about their close friends. Learn about situations in which their friends have stood up for themselves or taken the easy way out.
When teachers have a connection with the kids, they seem to enjoy the subject even more and in turn take the effort to perform well. Do not let them spiral down into the abyss of complaining about school and studies. It’s not easy not to complain as we adults do it in front of our kids too. Where do you think they learn to trash talk like that?
I promise that I will use any excuse to get to know my child…again.
4. Go for a drive-
Ok. So maybe after all their classes and projects, they just want to chill in their room. But, be disruptive here. Tell them you need to run errands and may need their help. Take a detour to your grocery shopping and have an ice-cream or coffee with them. As they grow up, teenagers like to be given responsibilities and be treated as adults. Do it. The conversations you can have at these times are precious. Letting them make decisions about the kind of rice to buy or the number of chocolates to get for yourself will show you how smart they can be. They can get all preachy now that they are given a choice about it and tell you how much you may need to run to shed those chocolates..
Going for a drive can give you moments you will cherish. You may listen to music you both like or you may discuss the growing number of vehicles on the road. There will be times when they will ask you to “chill” if you get agitated. Haa! Tables have turned, haven’t they?
I promise to allow my kid to act like the adult and give advice when I need it.
5. Jog together –
Going to meet friends is a big No No these days. So, take them for a jog or join them on their run. Take your bicycles out and go for a long ride. Join an online dance class together. They will not show it but they do enjoy having someone around. Take a cooking class and dish out some wonderful recipes. Here it can get competitive. So, be ready to show your kids how good you are and who is the boss. You, of course.
I promise to embarrass my kid by doing activities without much finesse.
6. Hugs –
Oh Yeah! Embarrass them, since that is your job as a parent. Give a hug whenever possible or whenever they allow it. Hugs are known to create happy hormones. Everyone needs a hug just to know that it will be alright, especially these days. A hug symbolizes to your teen that you are there to take care of things and make it really awkward. Haha!
I promise to be the awkward parent who gives a jadoo ki jhappi whenever my teen needs it and also whenever not.
Seems like an activity done by parents of little kids? Think again. Board games, carrom, chess, PS4 (or whatever is new in town) are all games which have been made to get your teens to spend time with you. Really. See, as they grow up, our teenagers will not play hide and seek or tag. So, these games were invented by a parent of a teen, definitely, to keep them engaged and spend some time with the family. Sneaky, isn’t it?
I promise to play and be as competitive as possible and not going easy on my kid.
8. Meet up with family-
Meeting up with grandparents and cousins builds the sense of community and our teens have a place to go to when they need a lift up. Many parents during these few months have had to go back to work with kids remaining full time at home since they have online school. Grandparents have played a big role in taking care of the kids, physically and emotionally. If not, then plan to meet up with them whenever possible. They need the human connection as well. If they are far away, then connect online. Schedule days when you all can meet up, maybe once a week so you have more to talk about during the week. Sharing your stories helps others understand your problems or situations better. As a teenager, they may look like they are completely self-absorbed, but they observe and see things which we may not realise.
I promise that even if my relatives are annoying, for the greater good, I will smile and chat up so my kids feels cared for.
It is tough. But it’s also tough when you make it tough. When you always look at the dark side of things , you will only see the sad side of things. Read my post A Habit of Happiness to know how that it pays to look at the positive side of things. When you focus on what you already have, be thankful for the family, food and education and make the kids realise it, the whole energy changes. Make a ‘no complaint’ day or a ‘substitute a good word for every bad one’ day. Make up things as you go along. There is no sure shot way to keep our teens happy. You just try a whole bunch of things. Some work and some just need an upgrade. The most important thing through all of this is to first be happy yourself. Our kids are always watching and listening to everything we do. We are their role models for character building and behavior. So, sort yourself out first and stay in your ‘happy zone’ to keep your kids happy..
Its tough out there. Job losses and pay cuts, illness and overworked family members and the stress we take about everything only multiplies as the situation outside gets worse. And so, we need to look on the inside.
Our mind is a very powerful thing. It’s a machine that drives you to perform, a source of energy that makes you create your reality and a powerhouse that changes attitudes and belief systems. Only if you learn to control it. Let me give you a few ideas that I have noticed has worked for me and it can work for you too.
#1. Being grateful – Gratitude has taken a centerstage in our lives as we navigate through the sea of negativity. Family and friends falling victim to the deadly virus is not something one can find gratefulness in. And yet, there is always something that can help you stay in the silver lining.
It can rain and pour
It can darken the picture
and yet I stay thankful
to all it has to offer.
So, everyday, take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule and write down what you are grateful for. Saying ‘thank you’ for the things still in your life will give energy to the good and focus on the excellent things even through the mess. Do it right now, as you read this post. And do it every single day. This makes you more aware of what is right in front of you.
I am grateful for __________________________________.
#2. Keep busy – Yes, I realise you already are busy. But you get my point. Get busy after work with your kids’ homework or the cooking and cleaning or exercise or painting, writing, chatting with friends and family or watching movies. There are a million things to keep you away from brooding over bad situations. Be selfish about taking care of yourself and do not let your mind slip into the abyss of negative thoughts.
I write my heart out
I paint and I dance
to busy myself
so that my soul is nourished
What’s your favourite thing to do when you are feeling overwhelmed ?
#3. Get weird – Oh yes, get a little weird. Maybe you have never taken up baking. This is your chance to make your family your guinnea pigs. Take up a new hobby like glass painting or do a marathon of a favourite series like ‘Friends’ and say the dialogues with the actors (you know the dialogues already). Fast one day a week ( Less cooking) , learn the salsa , write a letter to your younger self telling about the pitfalls of being an adult. Talk to your neighbour about random stuff since you haven’t seen them in these months. Purge, that’s not weird. But do it to your favourite song and sing loudly when you organize. Paint your nails a different colour or design and post it for all to see. Maybe someone will join you. Donate food and your time, its not weird , its just beautiful. Give yourself all the fun you need. At the end of it you will get a sudden energy burst.
Black nail paints and quirky habits
talking to myself and daydreaming
to collecting a million little cardboard boxes
I am weird and wonderful just as I am.
I am weird and wonderful and like to _____________________________
#4. Be still – Yup, there it is. Meditate and listen to your thoughts. If in the beginning you can’t handle the silence, do a guided meditation. There are many available online. Let all the crazy thoughts come into your mind. Slowly bring your focus to your breathing. Take long, deep breaths. If this doesn’t work, keep a timer for 15 minutes each day and then increase it as you get comfortable. Listen to ocean sounds or whale sounds. It calms the mind into believing everything is going well. As you open your eyes after every sitting, you will feel a rush of calm.
Be still and breathe
Be still and listen in
Be still to stay calm
Rise up energized.
Set a time every day, morning or evening and go for it.
#5. Visualise – Visualising is tricking the mind into believing your truth. If you talk about something good like, I am healthy and I eat nutritious food to keep myself nourished. I exercise daily and my body is fit. Saying these words allows the mind to take it in as a reality. When you visualize something positive, you start doing things that will support that reality. Mind you, you need to talk to yourself everyday. Write it down and read it everyday. With visualizing there is a definite shift in your attitude towards all situations.
Close your eyes and see
the reality in front of thee
You made it happen already
changing realities and shifting mindsets
In all its glory
Read up on the Law of Attraction or watch the movie ‘The Secret’.
Ask, believe and receive are the three pillars of the Law of Attraction. You are probably already doing it in certain areas of life. Like praying can give you the strength to believe good things will happen as you surrender yourself to God or universe, whichever you believe in. Try it. Write affirmations like it has already happened.
I remember everything that I have learnt.
I can reproduce all my learnings where and when I need it.
I am healthy. I eat nutritious food every day.
I exercise daily.
I am calm and in control of my feelings.
I am a great leader and I motivate my team to perform well.
So, the minute you start saying your affirmations regularly, something in you pushes you to start living up to the affirmations. It’s a habit-forming activity and will only yield great results.
Whats your ‘I am’? Write it down.
I am ______________________
Ultimately, its always how you like the glass, half full or half empty. You may find people around you who are always happy and bright. Stick with them, they will bounce off their energy to you. Smile every day, play with your pet and just stay in the ‘good vibes only’ zone. You and I can survive this. Its already getting better. Don’t you think?