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fear will never make a good lover

I’ve tried to give equal amounts of love and attention to both fear and to the other parts of my life. These two, mind you, are two disjoint sets. 

Oops, atleast they were, I mean. *fear sniggers in the background*

This, btw, is what happens when I allow fear to be my lover. 

Tell tale signs that you have fear as a lover: you say no when you want to say yes, you say yes when you want to say no. You want to go after it but think you can’t. You want it to come after you but you think you aren’t worth it. You want to create and be fearless, but you are duped into thinking that you aren’t good enough. You question your goodness ceaselessly and trust in your insignificance implicitly. 

You feel constantly smothered. There isn’t any anchor that makes you feel centered. You are diagnosed with inertia that has nothing to do with a lazy summer day. 

Most telling of all: this feeling plays itself over and over like a broken record that won’t shut up- more, more, more. More, more, more. More, more, more. Yet you can’t pinpoint what that more is. You can’t tell who’s hammering it on your heart. Fear can’t either but it whispers in your ear “that is our enemy.”

i.

Fear will always keep you small and boxed up and within the lines. Fear will always tell you why that idea isn’t good enough. Fear will shut you up the minute you open your mouth to inhale air so that you can use your voice. Fear will pipe up first to give it’s opinion on things and tout that as being the only practical and sane one. Fear will tell you that you aren’t made for more.

I remember the feeling I got when I first started this blog. Exhilaration and pride. I had done something fear had kept me from doing since so long. Scored! I felt shy and hesitant but I knew I could never be at peace unless I gave blogging a chance atleast. And it wasn’t the prospect of actually starting a blog that frightened the jitters out of me. It was the fact that I was going to put myself out there and share something I had only always kept for myself- my words and the tumultuous whirlpools swirling inside me that they spoke of. I cannot lie while writing. I go to writing for solace and understanding. To lie there would be to make sacrilegious something that was previously holy. 

And while I had a deep need to share + to be seen and heard, I was equally terrified of this longing coming to pass. To be seen would mean to be on the edge, in the line of target as a potential victim- of judgements and criticisms. Especially my own. I didn’t think i could handle that. Fear didn’t think I could handle that. 

ii. 

Truth of the matter is- we are capable of handling (with grace) so much more. We are capable of being so much more. Yet fear tells us otherwise. And we listen. We think the mountain top is not for us, that only the struggling climb to the apex is what’s in our fate, that we’ll never reach. And the result? We give up midways or pull back on our efforts or, having reached the top, fail to see it for what it is. Fear clouds our vision that way. 

iii. 

I am just beginning to recognize the spots where my lens is clouded and so limits my vision. My blog is one of those spots. Blog and commercial and success and followers seem to go together. But that never was the case for me. I care about + love the people who read my words and then tell me how much they love them. They dont come in throngs and crowds and nation wide sizes but as a precious handful who trust in me + enjoy my writing. And I am always glad to have written something that they found helpful. I tried making the numbers a measure for my success but that seemed like a standard that I had no control over + would never be satisfied with. Fear would then take over the narrative and tell me how that meant i was a failure. It took me a while but I began to question it. 

“Really? Is that so?” 

And that is all that’s needed to defuse fear. A repeated mantra of “Really, is that so?” The trouble starts for us when we begin to believe everything our mind ever tells us. Including fear stories. It will weave elaborate, detailed fear stories that have little basis in reality and prove to be a great exercise for the imagination. Alas, they prove to be of little help when the time comes for us to act. Digging down and questioning if the story is even true creates this little space where we can see the thought as separate from ourselves that comes with a choice- to believe or not to believe in it. 

Fear, I know, won’t go away. I’ll come up with a new goal and fear will seize the opportunity to choke it to death even before I plant it’s seed in the soil. Fear will always be here. But something else can be there, too. 

My choice. Of whether I allow fear to get the better of me or not. My decision. Of whether I allow my actions to be influenced by this feeling of fear (which ebbs and flows like the waves). My intention: to create and grow. With these as my guide for the creative journey, I cannot help but feel excited. And just a little more invincible and possible. 

Fear, you can come along. But you ain’t rollin’ this show no more.  You ain’t my lover no more. 

a manifesto for everyday, meaningful living 

I do not need for everyone to know that I walked on this earth and did something worthwhile. I simply need to feel the silent crunching of the grass, the soft bed of the sand, the pebbles digging into my heels, and even the sterility of the modernized wooden/ marble floors, always. I need to feel those sensations of walking and being. 

I do not need for this world to remember me always or make a place for me in one of their archives. I simply need not forget that me being alive is a cause enough for celebration and joy. Right here, right now. 

I do not need for my future to be safe/ certain/ predictable/ without any hardships. I simply need my present to be infused with a faith as strong as the force that holds this Universe together. 

I do not need a lot many people to make me happy. I simply need a few whom I can share this journey and be crazy with. Know who to keep, know who to let go. And sometimes I need no one but myself. 

I do not need to prove my worth or justify my existence to any-every-one. I simply need to remember that I was born with an intrinsic worth which only I can accept or reject. 

I do need people to approve of me always. I simply need to allow myself to follow my inner compass and sail in the direction of my true north. 

I do not need to be caught up in the same things that the culture is. I simply need to honor those that captivate me and bring me truly alive. 

And i do not need to follow a manual that God-knows-who-wrote-in-what-century. I simply need to keep reading and living the one I wrote myself, for myself. A song that never was, nor will ever be. 

today, i wanted to love myself

i’m on Week 10. of my creative recovery. 

i almost feel like a recovering alcoholic writing this (lol) (i don’t drink BTW if you started thinking that). it’s got to do with using the word ‘recovering’ definitely. i’ve been a recovering perfectionist before. recovering creative, though…  

the thing is i really am regaining my creative prowess. and it has nothing to do with how much i am writing in a day or whether i have started with my dreams of painting modern art (yes i really love paint). all it has to do with is a shifting of priorities and how my perception of and attitude towards myself is changing and growing.

so, yes. today, i wanted to love myself. like freaking-love-myself-in-action-and-do-something-nice-for-myself-because-WHY-THE-EFFIN’-NOT? 

i think we are the most neglected persons in our own lives. we’ll run around catering to and taking care of tons of people (‘cuz we are nice, we care, we are generous blabla) and investing energy in all kinds of tasks (both fulfilling and energizing). however, do we ever extend that same niceness, that same care, that same generosity towards ourselves? do we invest energy into taking care of our own needs?  

imagine someone you love wholeheartedly. with all the marrow in your bones. someone you don’t mind giving up your time, energy, money- anything at all- for. even if you aren’t around them, you would be thinking of them, wondering where they were, and sending them love with your thoughts. and if they were in front of you, you’d soak up their very presence and give thanks for it, while at the same time, give them the best of you. that is how you deeply love someone. 

swap that someone for you. 

are you unconditionally there for yourself? or do you end up slipping (very cleverly) away from any intimacy with yourself? 

do you take the time to think of yourself with love and kindness? or is it a constant stream of ‘i can’t do this’, ‘i can’t do that’, ‘i am such a terrible person’ etc. 

do you remember to give yourself the best of you? or do you reserve them only for others and keep the worst ones for yourself? 
if you’d asked me a few weeks back, i would have answered no to the above questions. or i would have said yes because i didn’t really get what this whole loving yourself thing meant. 

loving yourself sounds so fucking cliché, right? it is. if you go by the phrase alone. it isn’t, though. when you put it in action. 

love will always be actions in the long-term. thinking/ speaking about it keeps it alive only for so long. 

so, yes, today i wanted to love myself. i wanted to do something substantial and tangible to indicate to myself that yes, you matter to me and you are the gold of my life (‘cuz I am). 

and so i did. 

i went home and i rested with The Artist’s Way (my creative recovery Bible). rest is not something i naturally gift myself. i’ll whip myself in frenzy to be doing something all the time so that i don’t fall behind. God only knows on what. i then sat down to write this post (and promised to hit publish on it) because it had been 2 long weeks since i wrote anything and I was missing how homely it felt to be writing in here. 

and tonight, i’ll allow myself to sleep for a straight 6 hours atleast (exams don’t allow you to do that) because that’s what my mind and body need to feel refreshed and taken care of. 

little things. seemingly inconsequential things. but it is these very tiny things that snowball into having the greatest effect. because more often than not, we deprive ourselves of small comforts like these. and we all know how precious and heart-warming they can be (think a winter’s day with a quilt + a good book + hot, hot coffee.)

caring for yourself and loving yourself is something you do everyday. and i can promise you that if you do it everyday, you’ll experience a whole new strength and openness in yourself that you only could have yearned for before. 

you blossom under your own care. you light up when you give your love to yourself. 

i’d like to leave you with the following questions so you can ponder upon them and then follow up with some sweet action to put this love and care into practice. 

  1. when was the last time you consciously and intentionally did something loving for yourself? 
  2. what has your heart been calling out for that you have been ignoring? (it could be a time-out from the everyday, a new book you’ve been dying to read, a dance form you’ve been yearning to try, or a new dish you’ve been eyeing to taste)
  3. could you schedule in 5-15 minutes this week to do it? and do it without any interruptions or guilt? 

self-loving and self-caring dont have to be big, unacheivable goals. they can be small daily actions that we take everyday to honor our own selves. they can be incredibly simply and do-able. 

what small (yet significant) loving thing can you introduce into your days? 

also, if there’s someone who you think could do with a reminder of caring for themselves, use one of the buttons below to share this post with them. 

what you want to say/ express/ share matters

that TED talk you keep giving to a packed auditorium over and over in your head about the need to be kind and generous in today’s world? it matters and we need you to tell us why.

your opinion on why a particular political stance is counter-productive and why we should steer clear of it? it matters and we need you to educate us about it.

your love for ghazals and beautiful poetry and obscure lyricists? it matters and we need you to show it because we can’t see it for ourselves.

your thoughts on how technology needs to be handled responsibly and mindfully these days? it matters and we need you to show us how to do it.

that art piece you drew because you could find no other way to channel your grief over the death of a beloved? it matters and we need you to share it so we can learn to let out our own emotions and let them become art.

that adorable picture of your niece laughing and coloring out-of-the-lines and how you think we all need that kind of free-flow in our own lives? it matters and we need you to remind us of it.

your expertise in mixing and matching dresses + jackets + shoes? it matters and we need you to amp up our wardrobes + tell us how to dress red-carpet-worthy everyday.

your bag of tricks for coming up with the wittiest and funniest opening lines ready to delight + enchant any audience? it matters and we need you to let the cat out of the bag right now.

whatever message you feel compelled to share with people, it matters. and we need you to share it. any. chance. you. get.  there is no one who can say what you can (with the perfect sprinkle of humor/ empathy/ thoughtfulness) in exactly the way you do. it is for this uniqueness precisely that we need you.

and it isn’t about saying it better or more eloquently than someone else. but it definitely is about saying it as best and as truthfully as you can. in the way you feel called to do.

your message matters. your opinion counts. your art is already beautiful.

and you should let us know about it already.

we need you.

someone you know questioning their voice/ gift/ message? tell them about this post or forward it to them using one of the buttons below and remind them that it most definitely matters.

Painting 

i.

we began with a canvas, him and i

kept on adding colors, a brush-stroke here and there, some sparkles we stole from late evening laughter, and a bit of fancy handwriting (“calligraphy”, he corrected) for rainy days.

“ever heard of caramel blue?” he asked and splashed it on on the canvas in front of us.

“ever heard of the coral like azure mahogany?” he watched as i tipped the entire paint can on our work.

and we delighted in it.

“i want this to be wild,” i said.

Continue reading “Painting “

the internet self and the comparison game

there was a time when i would ruthlessly compare myself to any girl i could lay my eyes upon. and more degrading was the fact that it had become a habit running on autopilot.

i compared myself to my best friend who was so much more popular and fun-to-be-around than me. i compared myself to the girl who freely engaged in her creative process and secretly wished i would allow myself to do that, too (she was a writer whose story i loved in Chicken Soup for the Soul. i both liked and was jealous of the mess she was. even her mess seemed prettier than my own). i compared myself to the girl who had long, paper-straight, shiny hair because i had wavy hair that styled itself differently every day without me having a say in it.

come up with any parameter. i would’ve already detected it and would be busy evaluating how far below or above i stood on the pedestal with respect to the girl in front of me.

Continue reading “the internet self and the comparison game”

can such a God be?

God doesn’t give a shit about your job profile or whether you stuttered in front of the audience of 100 that was assembled. and yet, he cares most deeply about what you care most about.

it doesn’t matter to him if you passed 6th grade or not or whether you are an Olympic level athlete. what matters to him is- are you alright? are you happy? and how can he best hold your grieving heart in the moments you offer it to him.

it concerns him least how other people see you or what they think of you. all he knows is- the ultra-fucked up neon color you wear really brings out the kaleidoscope-disco-light of your soul, and the summer dress that you wear falls as soft on your shoulders as a feather falls in the cradle of a flower’s blossom.

Continue reading “can such a God be?”

no, the city isn’t for me.

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i think no creative person will ever be content to call a city a permanent home base. we are too wild and too curious to think in terms of boundaries or to be content with the ones that the government drew for us. we want to know what’s beyond those divisions; we question why those divisions exist in the first place. we want to feel the sand of uncharted territory and simply stand in + celebrate the mystery of all that we don’t know. we want to be living right at the edge of the cliff, peering down below into stormy waters or up above at a sunlit sky and know. know we are both powerful and insignificant.

no, the city isn’t my home with its crowd and people who sleep walk while regulating their lives to the drum beat of society’s expectations and ‘how things have always been’.  no, I cannot truly be at peace there when no one believes in slowing down or how even a cup of coffee on a wintry evening warrants your full attention. i cannot find fullness for long when each moment that comes along is discarded as being unimportant or retrievable. no, it is not.

the ocean and the woods are my home. i must venture back there. there in the silence where i can breathe free and deep and long. there in the leafy canopy where God’s voice comes disguised as a birdsong or trails me in the erratic flight of a butterfly. there on the shores of sapphire beauty and calmness where the eternal and the ephemeral become one in the span of a second.

no, I am not the one for the city. no, I am not the one to be contained or to have sharp defined edges that you can promise will never shift. do not mistake my compliance for having settled down. because while you sleep at night and fret over being enough, i still go outside to stare up at the stars and dream + believe in all the wildness and impossibilities you are so afraid of desiring for yourself. i still resolve to always question and seek + make up my own music. i still resolve to be the untamed and the wild, wild one.

hi, Sam. not really nice to meet you.

there is a little voice in our head that prattles on about things both insignificant and consequential. its volume goes up exponentially, though, when we are about to start or are in the midst of, some creative work. or anything that matters to us. below is a conversation between me and that voice in my head (don’t think me crazy plis). i’ve chosen to name him Sam for the time being because that doesn’t make him seem that fearful and forbidding. he is punctual enough to come sit with me when i start to write and is nowhere to be found when my work is appreciated. also, he looks like an orange banana with a green cap on his head. currently. sometimes he is the shark from the movie Jaws (though i haven’t seen it) and sometimes he is Frankenstein in a dark, dark castle.

that being said, i’ll probably change his face and name tomorrow or the day after.

Sam: huuuloooo, cutie pie. watcha doin’?

me: *beams out a big, happy smile* writing out a blog post. i’m so excited!

Sam: *beams out a brighter smile than mine* oh, yes? let’s see what you’ve got here.

i angle the screen towards him so he can read what i’ve been writing.

Sam: this?! you call this writing? *look at me with immeasurable pity in his eyes; i go speechless* this isn’t good enough, honey.

me: well… i’m gonna make it better, don’t ya worry. this is just the first, rough draft.

Sam: *pulls up a chair next to me* i think you’ve forgotten what i told you the last time and the time before that and even before that. in fact, i’ve been telling it to you over and over again and yet, you forget. you can’t even find it in you to write everyday or to want to give it your best. that is not how great writers are made, my ignorant lady. you gotta be serious about this work. you gotta have your life figured out and your writing figured out 100%. you need it to be perfect at this, geddit? there is simply no room for mistakes. you’ve got to get it perfect before it means anything or has any value. because if it isn’t… omaigod! where are we gonna hide our face? the world is gonna see you for the fraud that you are.

silence.

me: whaaat?!?

Continue reading “hi, Sam. not really nice to meet you.”

what i am currently digging: Claire Baker, self-care, and the deets on my own menstrual cycle

this post is especially for my girlies today. i have something to share that i am absolutely 200% excited + over-the-moon about and i am so stoked to be writing about it here.

to begin with, a rapid-fire round:

  • have you ever wanted to feel a deeper sense of connection with your body? a sense of being at ease and at home with it? to really, really understand it and stop fighting with it?
  • have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the emotions that have raged in your being and wondered what a hot, chaotic mess you were?
  • and have you ever thought it possible, or actually wanted to, celebrate your menstrual cycle (yes, your whole entire menstrual cycle and not just the 1 painful week). (the male fraternity might want to stop here. warnings for OHT and un-relatibility released.)

enter Claire Baker.

i stumbled upon Claire’s profile on Instagram (suuuch a good place to find amazing people) through another equally badass woman that i follow when the said badass woman shared how she was using Claire’s method in order to get to know her monthly cycle (the entire 28 day thing) and her body, really well. i was instantly intrigued and went over to her profile to check her work out. needless to say, after scouring around for a bit + a few clicks, i was a fan and i have been following her work closely ever since.

Continue reading “what i am currently digging: Claire Baker, self-care, and the deets on my own menstrual cycle”