A leisurely afternoon with a BFF: The little joys

Source: peracollege.wordpress.com
Source: peracollege.wordpress.com

Lunching with my BFF who’s a mom is a rare pleasure. Recently, the stars aligned, and we were able to meet up for a relaxed, leisurely lunch sans kids.

We spoke of times past, of lives present, of who we were and still are, and who we hope to become.

We spoke of the need to break the conditioning we feel burdened by, and live by values we’ve examined and accepted, instead of those we’ve absorbed.

We spoke of the the husbands, hers and mine; of school friends, some recognizable, some not; of children, real or future; of parents growing older; of in-laws; of tugs of modern and traditional sides within us, that push and pull us in different directions.

We spoke of messages absorbed growing up in what was fairly conservative India in the 1990s, of internalizing the expectations of women fulfilling everyone’s needs first, never complaining, happy to support, and allowed to dream for themselves, only when everyone else was taken care of.

We spoke of our selfish dreams, those we wanted, just for ourselves. We wished for time to switch off, to just be, to not care if the house was pretty, or we were, or the work we turned in was perfect. Some time where we could dream, some time where we could work on our dreams.

We spoke with gratefulness for our supporters, who believed we could, who believed we would, and that we should.

We spoke of how the time will never be just right, that now is now, and that we will not miraculously have more time to work on our life’s work tomorrow than we have today.

We spoke of how we will never have it all figured out, how we will never know as we take our first steps in uncharted territory of how that would impact kids and husbands and parents and in-laws. How we would never be able to forward solve every problem. How we would never have guarantees that everything would be okay, and with it, the permission to work on our books and on our selves and on our lives and those of others.

We lamented missed opportunities when we tried to put together the jigsaw, when all we needed was to find the next piece. Of trying to find the map, when all we needed was a compass.

It was the first leisurely lunch date we’d had in years, but just in those few hours, we were connected. We saw, we loved, we supported, and hopefully, moved a little bit closer to doing what we’re meant to do.

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The Hobbit: Stay safe or have an adventure?

I admit it. I haven’t read the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings.hobbit Somehow, I missed these in my growing up years, my school library in Bombay was surprisingly bereft of these titles. When the movies came out, they didn’t catch my fancy. But just this weekend I chanced upon this beautiful copy of the Hobbit on a lazy farmhouse where I was spending the day with my husband. Immediately the words were spinning a story and speaking a truth in a way no movie speaks to me.

In the passage below, Mr. Baggins, the hobbit, feels a tug between the safe and practical side of his personality, which says, stay where you are, be safe, and the part of him which wants more, which says, there are adventures out there for you to live and see and feel.

As they (read: the dwarves) sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick. He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up–probably somebody lighting a wood-fire–and he thought of plundering dragons setting his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered, and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill again.

Sometimes, as we hesitantly edge toward new adventures, we feel fear. Our minds conjure worst case scenarios of all that could go wrong on our adventures.  And we hit the brakes. We stop. But maybe we need to think of all that could go right…maybe we need to include in our calculations, the cost of missed adventures. Maybe we need to say, it is time.

Are you feeling this tug between the head and the heart? Between the old and the new? Between staying still and flying? How do you know what’s the right thing to do?

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Smashed eggs and banana bread

I recently came across this exercise as a way to break through creative resistance:

All you need to do, before you start your creative work for the day — your writing or painting or software designing — is to crack an egg! Just break it in a bowl, egg shells and all. Then, get up and go do your work.

The thought here is that breaking an egg for no good reason makes us feel squeamish and resistant — similar to the resistance we feel as we set out to write something, to shape something, to draw something. The physical act of cracking the egg helps break through the psychological resistance that holds us back.

And so I did. I cracked the egg with my bare hands and squished it and felt the shards of its shell dig into the palms of my hands. The sorry egg lay on the kitchen top as I went to write on my blog, an aside that my sister remarked was a style very different from my typical measured way of writing. More INFP than INFJ, she said.

I did this exercise again a day or so back. Only this time, I was still a little bit stuck as I wrote, too much in my controlled, left-brained state to be able to let go. And as I stared at the blank screen before me, I thought: Let me bake! And so I did, some banana bread with a little bit of rum, using the egg that I’d just smashed, carefully picking up all the pieces of shell. I guess creativity is like that. You can destroy something but then pick up the pieces and make something you never imagined you were going to make in the first place.

banana bread

Recipe: The Best Banana Bread Recipe (I also added a dash of white rum).

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Do check out Ritu’s original blog post “On being creative and cracking an egg.

Maybe it is time

birdI’m feeling like I’m at a cusp these days of what I was and what I will be. I don’t know quite yet what I will be, what I want to be, but I feel ready to say goodbye to some patterns of my past which no longer serve me. I described this feeling to a friend as being trapped in an egg and pushing the walls, ready to hatch. Caterpillars becoming butterflies sounds much prettier but I feel more like I’m stuck in a egg and breaking free, pushing hard and the walls are beginning to crack. Maybe it is time to start taking some risks. Maybe it is time to write not censor. Maybe it is time to not be so proper. Maybe it is time to not just tippy toe in a lake of niceness but run toward a raging ocean.