Friday, December 23, 2016

The Year End Manifesto

"Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right"
                                              Oprah Winfrey


 I try...I really try hard to inculcate good food habits (diet) and exercise. This year I have been so focused on living in the moment and being spontaeneous that I have fallen off my "good food habits" bandwagon with some surprising repercussions for me. 


My cholestrol is now out of whack -  when I drill down on the numbers I know what I have to fix  - reduce my LDL cholestrol . I have said Yes! to eating out a lot more this year than the past years, I have been eating white chocolate like there is no tomorrow ( yes! yes! I know 70%+ is recommended...), I have been drinking a lot more white wine ( yup I know Red has all the anti-oxidants) and I have been generally a lot more lax about my eating habits (pizza bring it on, a couple more of those cupcakes should be ok, I will dance it off later...). True, Exercise has been non-negotiable in my life ( and that is reflected in the HDL - good cholestrol going up 14 points this past year) and I have  been working out every single day of the week except Sunday ( I either hike or walk 4 miles on Sunday).

In the words of Dr. Ron Sinha - Indians have unique genetic and cultural issues that predispose us to Type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and adverse cholesterol numbers -- I want to make sure the odds are in my favor

Here's my  manifesto for 2017 :
  1. Limit "some" high fat foods (no more bonne bouche cheese on a regular basis for me, maybe switch back to 1% from 2% milk and limit whole eggs to 4 a week)
  2. Eat more fiber rich food ( quinoa, barley, oats, apples, beans) - I used to be pretty good about this - it's about falling back into good habits again.
  3. Limit Sugar - this is truely the dagger through my heart ( my secret vice - Lindt White Chocolate Truffles ...how I will miss you!)
  4. Add Apple Cider Vinegar first thing in the morning back to my routine ( what brand you ask - try Bragg's with the mother - can be found in Whole Foods)
  5. Fast one day a week - I pick Thursday ( why Fast? here's the scientific reason why - read here). I have seen my mother and grandmother do it for spiritual reasons in the past on Thursdays and Mondays...so in my mind its a definite double win.
  6. Eat Khichdi at least twice a week ( easy Khichdi recipes with Quinoa are on my blog, if you are wondering how I make it). Khichdi is recommended in Ayurveda as the perfect food to detox your system gently.
  7. Exercise 6 days a week and walk/hike on Sundays
  8. Limit Caffeine ( Tea/Coffee ) to 1 cup minus the sugar per day
  9. Sleep 8 hours a day
  10. Meditate 10 minute in the morning and do Pranayama for 15 minutes in the morning. 
  11. Practice Yoga at least 3 times a week
  12. Eat out twice a week (vs. 4-5 times this year...perspective is a good thing sometimes :) )
In some ways, my reason for putting this on a blog is to hold myself accountable to actually doing this vs. falling off the bandwagon again. Don't get me wrong - I will still eat the delicious desi-chinese at Inchin's or  a turkey burger at St.John's! just not every week :)

It's so true what Hal Borland said that the  - Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.

Hope you have a wonderful break and an amazing 2017 !!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After...

"You cry and you scream and you stomp your feet and you shout. You say, 'You know what? I'm giving up, I don't care.' And then you go to bed and when you wake up the morning after bleary eyed and grumpy - you realize that things remain unchanged"

I sat glued to the idiot box, watching the seas of red and the small splotches of blue - Poof! the dreams of breaking the glass ceiling of politics in the USA and having our first female president - shatters. I gulp down a glass of wine in disbelief and yet another one ( I am a lightweight drinker and the two glasses are enough to give me a pounding headache which is now playing a symphony with my aching back (sprain)...). And I lay my head on my arm and I weep...I weep for myself and I weep for all those women who had dared to hope along with HER. 
Getting up in the morning, the headache is still there - I feel a small tug on my arm and K2 asks me - Ma, is Trump still the President? Will he throw us out of this country?  My heart breaks for my son....the only country he knows is this one...he was born 5 miles away from where we live. I had told him a lot of stories about the country that I had said Good Bye to twenty years back - the country which in my mind  still has ways to go when it comes to equality for women ... and THAT country had it's first woman prime minister in the 1960's --- more than 50 years back. 
I got an email from friends and family who asked me - so what are you telling K2 about the elections? I said - I have no words....all I feel now is intense grief, shock and disbelief in the way things played out. I have always stayed away from expressing my political opinions - my father was in the Civil Services and his career depended on the politics played by the different parties in Tamil Nadu and we had learnt to wear a veneer of detachment ( even though inside there was a seething cauldron!). But today I refuse to hide my dismay at the way things played out...
And here's what I told my 10 yr old son :
  1. We live in a democracy and the majority have spoken. Your Ma is upset because she expected a different result --  and no the new President can't kick you out of this country - there are checks and balances in the system (always!). 
  2. We don't always get the results we want - I gave him the example of his school elections - where he thought he really had the best plan for the school and he lost the elections - the important thing is trying and trying again ( and that's what she did - she believed in this country and she really pushed hard for what she believed was right)
  3. I told him- Let's please  try and make sure we are practicing love and compassion, even for people with different opinions ( the ones who think justice has been served) - so hard right now but we have to try accepting with grace. Doesn't mean we give up and not try to change things ( speaking of which have you SIGNED THIS)
But that is where I left it with my boy and he got it. Your conversation might be a bit different from mine but don't be afraid to show your children that you are not ok with the decision, but you are dealing with it from a place of love and grace and teach them about the meaning of democracy...we have a lot to say about this but let's say it in a way that makes it count.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Diwali or Halloween!

I took a day off today, hoping to make some Mithai for Diwali. Started the morning early with the usual school run routine in the AM ( it never gets old or less chaotic!) and after that went to the post office and posted my ballot (yes! I am with her) and then attended a Zumba class. Something happened in the gym, that had my brain cells work overtime. I go into the class and get to my designated spot in the front (I am very territorial, or I have learnt to be territorial with all the cats in our gym class - OMG they are ferocious about protecting their spots and I have learnt a thing or two from them!!!). I refrain from making eye contact, don't really want to get social here...I want to dance, sweat, get my steps and get out of Crunch....I hear a soft hello and when I turn I see an older woman - with the brightest blue eyes and golden hair smile at me...here's how the conversation went :

Her : I just love your country
Me (thinking in my head) : Huh!
Me (in reality) : That's wonderful
Her : Could you spend some time with me and tell me more about India. I love Tikka Masala and Bhangra
Me (thinking in my head) : Wow! That's stereotyping
Me ( in reality) : Sure! Happy to...

Thankfully the class started and I avoided progressing that conversation and I left before the cool-down song, so no awkward stilted conversations afterward.  I came home and was sipping my adrak wala chai and thinking about this weird exchange and  here is why it felt weird...I have lived equal number of years in India and the US...I gave up my Indian Citizenship over half a dozen years back and pledged allegiance to this country. I am proud of my heritage and yes! I am Indian first but in India I really didn't have roots...in the 21 years that I lived in India, my father got transferred 11 times and no this is not me complaining - I lived a wonderful life...met a lot of people, visited a lot of new places and learnt to adapt to change...but in the process didn't lay down roots. I think the longest I have lived in any place is the 15 years that I have been in the Bay Area...so when one asks about country...the reality is  US feels more like home than India. Every time I go back to India,  the only constant seems to be my parents ( with my dad gone, that familiarity is slowly disappearing). About a decade back the reality is that the phrase "Dhobi ka kutta na ghar ka na ghaat ka" applied very aptly to me...but in this past decade what I have realized is that "the home is where the heart is" and the heart is in US.

This year Diwali and Halloween happen side by side at our place  - we will have the floating ghost right above the Diyas and will make both Gajar Ka Halwa and some Ghoul jello for the young one...because I don't want to pick between Gajar Halwa and Jello and I don't want to label myself Indian or American. I also don't want questions like - so, when are you going back ( yes! had that happen to me 6 weeks back!). My worry is that with someone like Trump being the nominee of the GOP -  racism which was something that always remained in the background in the past is now  coming out with full vengeance front and center of most discussions.

Last question to you my friends - have you voted or planning to vote on Nov 8th? Your opinion matters and your vote can change the course of such discussions in this country.

Note to my friends N and B - Guys! I am making my political affiliations known. So there you have it :)


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tentative Parenting : The Grass is Greener on the Other Side...

"The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where YOU water "
I am very impressed with K2 - I had blogged his first brush with failure in the 3rd grade in a blog post (Read Here) He had a similar event happen in 4th grade and then in 5th grade he wanted to stand for the Student's council activity director and I had tonnes of unexpressed misgivings - I helped him with his posters (he had most of the ideas) and his speech (mostly word corrections and a couple suggestions from me). He gave his speech on his birthday and was pretty sure he would win - he lost spectacularly !!! I gave him the right lip service - you gave it your best shot dude! You focus on the right actions, don't worry about the results  (courtesy : Bhagvad Gita) . What else can you do as a parent but  be supportive and not molly coddle. However, there was a part of me that was tired of watching him try so hard and lose.
The next day he comes up to me and says : Ma, I am standing for the class rep on Friday! I  made sure none of my dismay showed on my face and I was suitably encouraging ( I laid it out thick on the husband in the night...seriously he lost 3 times and he wants to try again !!!).  K2 worked on his poster and speech and guess what! he WON Class Rep. He taught me a lesson - this child of mine - never ever give up - tenacity, the right intent and right actions always pay off in the end.


Do you remember a blog that I had posted about 4 weeks back - albeit one where I was recovering from a pretty bad viral flu (so some of the things I said don't  make sense even to me ;-) ). But the grass now "grows" green in my beautiful front lawn. I taught my son something with that incident - he now believes that if you stand up strong for what you believe in is right - things will work out in your favor eventually.

I wanted to thank the folks who participated in the heartwalk on Oct 20th. Our team beat our target  for walkers by  8  and our fund-raising goals by $500 - all thanks to you !!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Simple Living : The Big 5

"The US of A is probably the only country that has more food than it can possibly consume & possibly the only one with diet plans that keep us from eating that food."

I slink make my way into the extended day care after a long day at work - I see two dear friends (beautiful well put together working moms) discussing an evening bootcamp and a Ketosis diet. I look at my idiot device and pretend to be answering emails and walk away suitably intimidated. As I am picking K2 up, the extended care director is talking about the Paleo Diet with another parent...I roll my eyes up ( eating like the cave man...yeah! right!) - Isn't it interesting how we surround ourselves with these multitude diets whereas the only thing that we need to do is be mindful about what we eat - not just eat quinoa, chia seeds and kale because it's oh!so! cool and the flavor of the month but because it makes sense for our health. I eat full eggs, my milk is 2% not fat-free, I use ghee and coconut oil in my cooking, we eat healthy whole grains ( quinoa, amaranth, barley and sometimes brown rice), we add a lot of beans and lentils to our meals and our fruits and vegetables are seasonal. I am a no-nonsense, no-frills and one of those people who doesn't have the attitude or the aptitude to spend more than 30 minutes a day in the kitchen and to some one like me this book by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra : The Big 5 - Five Simple Things you can do to live a longer, healthier life appealed on so many levels.
It was simple and gave facts on the Why's for the suggestions and definitely gave me something new for my daily routine. Just an FYI, the author is a Harvard MD who also happens to be Deepak Chopra's brother. Read the book if you get a chance and if you don't  get a chance to read the book, then read the 5 tips in the book here, hopefully one or two might resonate with you too and might be things you add to your (or your child's routine).
  1. Coffee - A cup of health : this  to a tea drinker like me was an AHA! moment. Yes, there is some research on why coffee is good for you but I have stayed away from coffee till about 3 months back. Three months back a friend made me a cup of latte on her office floor and since then I have been hooked on it. His research shows that coffee drinkers have lower risks than tea drinkers for cirrhosis, alzheimers, dementia and type 2 diabetes (dang! I still want my cup of cardamom chai in the AM and green tea mid afternoon) BUT sign me up for at least one cup of coffee a day.
  2. The Mysterious Case of Vitamin D : Did you know when you are low on Vitamin D, your immunity is low, your bones can fracture easily, you can have dental issues and like in my case get inexplicably depressed (click here to read the post on that). Most Indians are deficient in Vitamin D - so make sure to get your levels checked regularly ( my doc checks my levels every 6 months) and supplement! supplement! supplement! I am out in the sun a lot but it doesn't seem to help me much and the fortified D I get from Cereal, Milk and yogurt just isn't enough.
  3. Go Nuts : Eat. Nuts. Every.Single.Day. I keep blanched almonds and walnuts that I put on the table in portions ( 5 almonds and 4 full walnuts)  for me, my husband and son). This is  the first thing I eat after my warm glass of water with ACV (apple cider vinegar). Nuts reduce LDL (the bad cholestrol) and protect against heart diseases. I didn't know this but Nuts also reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
  4. Meditate : Transcendental Meditation was something I learnt as a young child (it was a mandatory 1/2 hour that we spent at school every day meditating - it felt like evil torture !!!). However, at some point it clicked and anytime I felt anxious or overwhelmed I tried to use meditation and breathing as my "out" - I will be the first to admit that this is still not a strict part of my daily routine and this was one of the things I want to make a fixture in my life. Meditating changes your brain structurally and functionally ( he had some amazing research to support it)
  5. Run (or Walk) for your life : If you know me, you know one thing I swear by is exercising and moving. With our laptop lifestyles we are textbook candidates for hypertension, heart diseases and diabetes - however, if we mindfully try and make exercise a priority, we will be giving ourselves a tremendous gift. I had a working mom ask me in a panel - but don't you feel guilty about spending that time away from your child - I said yes, I do feel guilty every single day because I choose to exercise every single day...but I am ok with that guilt -with that guilt I also feel good that by keeping myself healthy and happy - I have a lot more energy and am  able to do a lot more for my child and am setting myself up as a good role model. 
 I am digressing I know but are you signed up for the American Heart Walk - it happens on Oct 20th, 2016 at Oracle HQ. Not signed up yet - join our team - Oracle HeartFit. Don't want to commit to the walk, no problem - donate for heart health, your heart will thank you and I will of course thank you !!!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Simple Living : Temperatures & Tempers Rising!

                          A fever is an expression of inner rage    
                                                                   ----Julia Roberts

DoormatSomebody who is always walked all over
Matadora bullfighter whose task is to kill the bull.

Last Sunday saw me in bed uncomfortable, there was a soreness in my chest and my head was throbbing, this slowly morphed into a full blown fever my morning ( 101 - yes I knew you would ask). I drag myself out of bed, pack K2's lunch box and drop him in school (just barely!) ...I virtuously go into work and stare at my computer for all of 20 minutes before I am forced to leave for the house...with a throbbing headache, spaghetti noodle legs and temperatures rising. The next 3 days are a virtual blur of rising temperatures, rising expectations ( Honey - what's for dinner? WTF, I am sick!; Ma- you made Dal again! Eat it or go to sleep hungry !!!) - more such inconsequential events adding to the rising rage, sense of helplessness ( I have never walked out of an exercise class feeling like my legs won't support me!) and isolation - the prescription cough syrup made me have these vivid technicolor dreams that had me waking up multiple times in the night...yet I played a doormat at times this week and a matador valiantly fighting the bull ( viral fever, lunch box routine,work deliverables, getting the car from the service center, other mundane routine stuff...)

In the midst of my tug of war with this viral fever - I also had an ensuing tug of war with our HOA Management Company. I have been very patiently trying to get them to fix our front lawn for two years...and they have been giving me the runaround or lipservice ( we took it to the committee for approval, we got a new HOA management company, we are currently getting a new landscaping company etc. etc. ) - so after two years of patiently exchanging emails, polite phone conversations - I*TOTALLY*LOST*IT. I waved a red flag at the HOA management company - now let's hope the red flag has positive consequences for this reluctant Matador.

My life feels like it is slowly coming back to normalcy, and the biggest learning for me has been the following :

I thought I was invincible, at least that's what I wanted you to think, and I wanted me to think it, too. Yet the past week has taught me that I will be down and out, and the opportunity to climb out of the hole and resume life is what makes me strong in life.

I went to a BollyX class today and am watching "Zootopia" with my son and am just taking it easy with a cup of hot chai (adrak maar ke aka with ginger). How has your weekend been playing out?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Tentative Parenting : Steaming over STEM!


I  don't like this tug of war between what is more important the Sciences or Arts.  What is important is that every human being deserves to learn about the arts & humanities, just as each person should be cognizant of the sciences.


I am mother to a 9 year old boy and most of the conversations happening in the past year have been all around empowering girls (and boys) in the area of STEM - and the reality is I haven't been comfortable with this propaganda. I have been encouraging my mathematically inclined son to explore nature, arts & literature and drama.

I come from a culture where STEM was over-emphasized. In India, there were only two  education options available to kids from the  ambitious middle class families in the early 90's (there I have dated myself)  - Medicine or Engineering. Imagine my mother's horror, shock and disappointment when I went into a totally obscure  and unheard of humanities field. I remember the societal pressure to follow a certain course - I remember the sympathetic looks my mother's friends gave her and the pangs of inadequacy I felt when I caught those looks. I will never forget the statement my mother made on my first day of college - well B.A. in Arts means you are getting ready to get married, so you better learn to make Rotis (Indian Bread) True Fact - I haven't made a Roti till date but then we are digressing ;-)

My sincere hope is that we don't add in one alphabet to STEM and say let's focus on STEAM  and believe that it solves a multitude of issues...the reality is every child is born with a unique set of skills, aptitude and inclination - it is super important that we nurture and help them blossom into confident, socially adept human beings who are secure in their place in this society. What I see happening more and more is this focus on Brilliance, Killer Drive and Genius and the things that seem to be falling on the wayside are - social and life skills, generosity and kindness - the ability to get along, get things done together, solve problems together (vs. just being the sole heroes). 

Dr. Seuss was seriously onto something when he said  the quote below AND this is a quote that I keep repeating to my boy when he asks me - Ma what do you want me to become :)  - You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Pokemon Go - Cliff Notes from the Other Side


Pokemon Go has taken over  the mobile gaming world - 75 million downloads in  a little over 2 weeks is beyond amazing statistics. Let me also add that if you came to my article looking for hacks to dupe the system into believing you are walking, hatching eggs, location spoofing, teleporting to pokestops - you came to the wrong place - yes there is code for that somewhere on the internet - just not here. Every single XP point earned by me and my son tag-teaming has been without gaming the system - with good old walking, collecting at poke stops, fighting gyms and catching pokemon.
Pokemon Go was a game my 9 yr old introduced me to some 10 days back, and life hasn't really been the same since. At Level 20,  here is some advice I would offer you if you are just starting off  (something I wish someone had told me a week back) -
#1 Have Fun - this game is to let off some steam,bond with your kids and get some steps in  ( here's a tip - visit parks with multiple poke stops - chances are there will be lure models set there most of the time)
#2 Don't get impatient - don't randomly power up Pokemon, or evolve them just because you can. Wait till you get really high CP (Combat Power) Pokemon (that usually happens around Level 15)
#3 - Catch these 3 - Pidgey, Caterpie, Weedle every chance you get - see # 4 for why?
#4  Maximize your XP points - use a lure model (attracts pokemon to poke stops, works for everyone) incense (attracts pokemon to you) and lucky egg (double XP) together in a pokemon hotspot ( for eg. a popular park where people put multiple lure models). Use that 1/2 hr to evolve as many Pidgey, Caterpie and Weedle that you can and catch as many pokemon in the same 1/2 hour -- I jumped 2 levels each time with this strategy and know of people who jumped 3 levels with this strategy
#5 Battle Gyms - you can either train your Pokemon for XP by battling others or store them there for bonus Poke Coins and Stardust, which can be claimed once every 21 hours. However, when you encounter an opposing team's gym, you can only do battle with its Pokemon. If you defeat its entire roster, you'll take a large amount of Prestige Points away from that gym.
#6 Turn off AR for easier captures - I have found it useful to turn off augmented reality  to catch pokemon with greater accuracy (play around to see what actually works for you)
#7 Use Pokevision  -  which is a nifty tool to find where the Pokemon are (https://pokevision.com/)
At the end of the day - Pokemon Go has been an enabler for some good habits  in our family - we end up walking as a family at a park every single day, my step count has increased 5K per day in the past 10 days and last but not the least - my son and I have truely bonded over a mobile game.
Trainer Tip : Please Please don't play Pokemon while driving - I have seen two accidents in a 30 mph zone because folks were playing Pokemon while driving !

What's your Pokemon Go Story?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Tentative Parenting : Monkey See, Monkey Do


K2 : Ma, how come we have no hair products at home
Working Mom : Huh! We have shampoo and coconut oil - what are you talking about?
K2  (rolls his eyes) : Ma - I mean hair products like hair gel
Working Mom (Stretching the truth) : K2, you know all that is bad for your hair right?
K2 : Ma - But R, C and T use it - so I think it's alright - can you please get me some?
Working Mom : No can do baby! Not quite yet. Let's give it a couple more years and then if you still feel like putting artificial goop in your hair, its your choice. How about we talk about this again when you are 13?

In the urban dictionary "Monkey See, Monkey Do" is  - an expression describing someone who imitates another person's actions, good or bad,simply by having watched them before.
Given the sociologist in me I researched this some more and here are some loose guidelines I have set for myself in my parenting quest :
  1. Be intentional about your child's surroundings but be open to the fact that he will be exposed to both positive and negative role-models. For eg. K2 has this friend who only eats whites (white rice, white yogurt, white pasta with alfredo saunce, pretty much no veggies and fruits) and K2 takes a lot of pleasure in throwing up the friend's example when he is given 2 servings of fruits and veggies for both lunch and dinner - I just smile and ask him what the Doctor told him in his last check-up - Eat 6-7 servings of veggies and fruits  ( the argument ends there!)
  2. Notice the positive - K2 was reluctant about brushing twice (don't ask-I won't tell) till his friend had a rather painful cavity extraction and was very explicit about detailing the painful experience - I have noticed regular brushing and flossing as an offshoot #FTW
  3. Talk about it - Like we did about the hair products - it's not about giving in or it's not about being controlling - it's about letting them know Why Not and when they can use it if they still want to --- We have had a similar discussion around soda, getting him a phone etc. etc...the list doesn't end (can't say the same about the patience level!)
  4. Do as you say - I limited  the conversation around my son's use of hair gel but it was an easier talk for me to have with him because he sees that at home Mom and Dad don't really use a lot of these products - the soda conversation was an easy one because we have no soda lying around in the house.

It's so easy for the young ones and the not-so young ones to get caught up in this behavior - whether it's hair styles, dresses, make-up, shoes, designer bags, accents, behavioral aspects...we tend to look up to and ape role models. I constantly  remind K2 and myself of something my father told me while I was growing up " it takes nothing to join the crowd, it takes grit and courage to stand alone - you don't have to fit in unless you want to ...always remember that

 Happy Friday! So are you living in a world of "Monkey See, Monkey Do or are you being an Original Monkey" :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

On being Mortal

"Severe Illness wasn't life-altering, it was life-shattering.It felt less like an epiphany - a piercing burst of light, illuminating what really matters- and more like someone had just firebombed the path forward"
-- When Breath Becomes air

I didn't want to read this book - after K1 told me the book was incredibly sad and he skipped pages because he couldn't bear the melancholy. I waited till the last minute, the book was due at the library on June 5th - I couldn't stand the thought of returning the book without reading it first. This book made me cry & get a headache ( I don't cry easy!) , it made me feel way too much, but most of all it had me revisit old memories- so thank you for that!

It took me right back to the times with my father - where I had lived second-hand through all his angst, realizations, acceptance and hopes...the decision tree of treatment, the Kaplan-Meier survival curves,  the numbness, the fall-back of - why the heck even live if we have to die anyway? I revisited some of my blog posts which reflected (less elegantly some of my second-hand brush with severe illness and death...the truth is I didn't deal with it with as much grace and realism as I saw reflected in this book). Sharing some of my older posts...if you have travelled this journey, know that you are not alone - there is an answer at the end of the question - it might not be the one you are seeking, but it's probably the only one you will get - it's what you make of that answer that defines the rest of your life.

Hitting Ground Zero - 11/07/09  -- I found out 3 weeks before this that my father had cancer
Hope Floats - 12/25/09 -- this was 10 days after my father's surgery in Irvine
Existential Crisis- 04/02/11 - the cancer is back
The ticking timebomb - 09/25/11 - dealing with the aftermath and the decision tree of next steps
The Dirty "C" Word -  08/07/12 - the chemotherapy aftermath
Inside Out...Outside looking in - 11/03/12 - my last vacation with Bapa, we talked a lot, ate whatever we wanted and took our morning walks every single day
Simple Gratitude  -  02/05/13 - My last trip to India, Bapa was in the ICU and I spent 10 days in the hospital with him, he went back home on Jan 31st.
Lost my voice found my mind - 02/14/13 - Bapa was back in the ICU with low platelets
You are loved - 03/12/13 - lost Bapa on March 11th and the trip back home almost broke me down completely...but you survive, thrive and go on...there is an empty part in you that always misses your lost ones...but you learn to go on.

I didn't really want to end my day on a sad note today...yet maybe it's not really sad. It is about "making peace in my own mind" with issues as yet unresolved...Maybe it's the survivor's guilt...it's something for sure. I want  to end this post in the words of Paul Kalanithi - 

“Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after the wind, indeed.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dearly Departed

For my friend "N" who has had more than her fair share of heartache - today she lost her mother  2 years 9 months and 29 days after she lost her brother to cancer.

                                                                              PC:Dearly Departed

You knock on the window of my subconscious,
I see you standing there looking,
Trying to tell me something?
Or are you just missing me?
As much as I am you.

I try and tell myself,
Where you are is a better place,
But then how would I know,
That there is eternal sunshine and warmth...
Or maybe it's just me hoping.

Every time I tell myself,
The longing is faint,
Then there is a memory that comes,
And lodges itself in my being,
The pain that accompanies so real.

 For all the sad notes,
I wrote, spoke or thought,
The saddest thought was - saying Good Bye!
The reality is...
Maybe I am just waiting to say - Hello Again!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mother's Day & Living in the Now!

Today as I woke up in the morning - I didn't really want to think about making breakfast, lunch or dinner - I just wanted to lie down in bed and watch my DVRed shows : catch up on Castle, Grimm, Scandal and The Flash and someone bring me a cup of hot cardamom chai and some piping hot dosas and chutney. Yet, I dragged myself out of bed - made waffles for the boys and went for a killer zumba class. Lunch plans are Sausage Hash (Aidell's) followed by a grocery run and then sitting with Krish to prep for his standard tests - it's math next week. I think this is the story of most mothers (working or otherwise) on weekends. The truth is I wouldn't have it any other way...this in reality is Living with Intent for me ( here's my recent blog on LinkedIn on the topic)

Here's a picture of something I cooked for the boys a couple weeks back : it wasn't a special day but we sure made it special with the meal we ate together : Quinoa Salad, Broiled Cod, Sweet Potato Hash, Lobster Cake (for K2, K1 is allergic to all things shell fish) and Roasted Brussel Sprouts washed down with Prosecco (for the adults).



Sometimes life is about living every moment you have with intent and a child-like enjoyment and openness. As I said in my blog post - "I'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Simple Living : Keep Portland Weird!



A week before it was time for spring break we were trying to zero in on places to visit.

K2's criteria - # plane ride
K1's criteria - # all inclusive resort in Hawaii
My criteria - # can we stay at home and pop popcorn, catch up on DVRed shows and hit hiking trails (go right ahead and judge me ;-) )

We zeroed in on a car trip to Portland amidst some protests from the young one, who still wanted a plane ride and preferably to Legoland.

About 4 years back after I watched Grimm, I fell madly in love with a city and have had a dream of moving there at some point  in my life (umm...and mind you I had never visited Portland). So a vacation to Portland in my husband's mind was a great idea to prove to me that maybe Sunny California is where we are supposed to be settled (he was so wrong :)). So a week before our trip I send out an email to our work email address and the ideas and suggestions I got from these bunch of remarkable people was beyond amazing...we played it by the ear and had a very rough draft plan of our trip in our heads ( Thanks to Air B&B for helping us keep our plans flexible).

So here's how our vacation played out ( I had 4 pings for the itinerary and to say that my head has grown double it's size is an understatement :) )

Day 1 – Our plan was to leave  the house at 11.00 AM we had tire troubles and by the time we replaced our tires and hit the road it was 1.30 PM. We made it to Redding by 5.30 PM . We went directly to the Sun Dial Bridge and it was so worth the detour. We also walked for an hour in the Botanical Gardens and it was a refreshing break. We then drove to Weed, CA - we were at our Air B&B by 8.30 PM and then grabbed dinner at  Hi-Lo CafĂ© (highly recommended)

Day 2 – Woke up to chickens in the Air B&B clucking while we made our plans for the day. We took a hike to Mc Cloud Falls ( we hiked from the lower falls to the upper falls and the hiking trails are steep, so wear good trekking/hiking shoes) and then checked out Mount Shasta and then ventured into the town. The weather was gorgeous so we decided to pick a boxed  Lunch from Maruti (5 star yelp rated vegetarian indian place) and had lunch by the frozen Castle Lake. We started our drive to Portland  at about 2.00 PM (with a stop in Ashland). We reached Portland about 9.00 AM and had dinner at Circa 33 ( a prohibition era themed cocktail bar with fabulous food!). My son felt very grown up having a Moscow Mule sans alcohol while K1 got to audition his first round of hopper brews that Portland is so famous for. The night view of the city and bridges were just breath-taking and I fell just a bit more in love with the city.


Day 3 – We went on an off-track urban/nature hike to get to know beautiful Portland a bit better - it is called the 4T Trail ( oddly enough I was the first to review this trail on Yelp). We started around 10.00 AM at the Pioneer Courthouse (parked in one of the underground garages there), we took the train to the Oregon Zoo and walked to the Columbia Crest where we had a picnic lunch. The views at Columbia Crest are fabulous after which we took the Aerial tram at Oregon Health Sciences Univ.  and then the street trolley - we eventually ended up on a bus to go to the bookstore. Later on we went to Powell Bookstore ( the smell of books...I will hit up a library or a book store just for that smell...)  and had dinner at Pacific Pie . My husband was raving about the local brews, I will have to take his word for it  as I stuck to the herbal tea but I solemnly promise that the pies (savory - roast lamb and chicken burrito pie) and sweet (chocolate hazelnut bourbon) were the best I have had.EVER. We stopped by at Voodoo Doughnuts (totally taken in by the hype) and waited 45 minutes (we are told people wait in line 3 hours) for our pink box - what can I say - the young one was on a sugar buzz and loved his donuts. My husband discovered a new coffee favorite in Dutch Bros ( just sayin - if you love coffee give this local chain a shot, they are great!)


Day 4 – Was a gorgeous day and we decided to drive down the scenic Columbia River Gorge Area and Multnomah Falls. We wanted to devote an entire day to that experience and Boy! are we glad we did - we were treated to gentle breeze, breath-taking views of the river and the water falls kept us spellbound. We proceeded to the Multnomah Visitor Center and initially decided to do the 1.8 M trek up to the Upper Falls - half way to the trek we decided to go all in and see all the five waterfalls hiking - it was a treat, it was hard for the young one, no regrets but if you have children not used to steep climbs avoid the 7.8M loop. We made it down for a late lunch at the Multnomah Lodge (Wild Caught Salmon Burger washed down with a Blackberry Cider...in case you were wondering) and followed it up with some Retail therapy at the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlet Mall (skip if you don’t want to do consumerish things, but no sales tax wow :) ). Dinner was Thai Food from one of the food trucks - Thai Champa (beyond amazing!)



Day 5 – Drove to Crater Lake - this is a must-see place. The drive there is a little scary with oodles of snow and zero cell phone coverage for 100 miles but if you get over it and focus on the beautiful vistas and scenery - you will love it (this was a mini-note for myself - I really get nervous around snow but enjoyed this trip).  We stayed at the Crater Lake Bed & Breakfast, which was 20+ miles away ( the weather was gorgeous) — we made this plan on the day before with constant weather checking. The weather gods were clearly smiling down at us :-)



Day 6 – Another peek at the Crater Lake (we couldn’t get enough) — then  we were off to Winston Animal Safari. We decided to go home after the safari but you could stay a night at Prospect or Medford and do the trek back home in the morning. On our way back K2 captured a beautiful shot of Mount Shasta with the lenticular clouds on top...a fitting goodbye to an eventful spring break.


I have posted reviews of all the businesses and places we visited on this trip on Yelp

I want to end this long blog post with the wise words of Maya Angelou - “Every person needs to take a day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist a day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 

So have you planned your next trip?