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Category: Thoughtful Thursdays

The gift that keeps giving

The gift that keeps giving

As the clock strikes 3 pm, as part of my daily ritual, I put my phone away, shut my laptop and head to the most important place in the house. Streaming directly into my living room, the afternoon sun scorches my verandah. I cannot stand there unless I shield my eyes or wear my shades for protection.

But every weekday, between 3.10 and 3.30 pm, I am there. That’s the window within which Gy returns from school. Her bus trundles up the slope just beyond the block we live in and from my vantage point, I watch as it rumbles and grunts its way to the bus stop at the next building.

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Five Lessons on the Playground my child taught me

Five Lessons on the Playground my child taught me

The playground seems like the last place where you should be learning lessons, especially when the word itself implies that we are trying to get away from lessons as fast as possible. No, these lessons are not for my daughter. They are, instead, lessons she has taught me through her behaviour and her approach to simple situations amidst the swings, the sand, the monkey bars and the slides.

Lesson 1:

Take your time to try something new

Gy was at the park last week and eyed the monkey bars with longing. It is something that has always eluded her and she always shied away from trying it. Noticing this, I said, go ahead, give it a try. I promised her that I would stand and watch her. Gingerly, she climbed the ladder and tentatively tested the bars with one hand. Feeling enthused, she gripped it with both hands and swung away from the ladder. She stayed there for a few seconds and then dropped to the ground below. Her eyes shone as she turned and looked at me. I cheered, as was expected.

Spurred on, she climbed back up and did it three more times. The fourth time, she released one arm and lunged forward to grab the next bar in the sequence and wonder of wonders, she stayed on the bars! I was flabbergasted that she had managed to master it in the space of a few minutes and was inspired by her ‘Never-give-up’ attitude.

Lesson 2:

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty

If you’re like me, you like your hands to stay clean. I don’t mean obsessively washing them with hand sanitiser at the sight of dirt, but staying clean. Gy revels in sand and loves the feel of it through her fingers. I like sand too. It’s easy to clean. Grime and dirt are another story, though. Once Gy had gotten the ‘hang’ of the swinging, she tried to move beyond the first two bars and couldn’t quite manage it. I stood by, chanting, ‘You can do it. Go on.’ Looking back I realise how utterly useless I was as a motivator.

A nimble little slip of a girl who was mastering the bars, helpfully told Gy that if she picked up some dirt and rubbed it between her palms, it would give her the grip needed for the swinging. Knowing my aversion for dirt, she looked at me and something changed inside me. I nodded and said she could do it. She scooped up handfuls of dirt and liberally dusted the sweat off her hands. Energised, she returned to the bars. Now, whether it was her zeal for the task or the dirt, I will never really know, but she managed the entire length of the bars in one stroke! Eyes dancing in happiness, she ran to my side and said, ‘Did you see? Did you see?’

Lesson 3:
It’s okay to fall down
Given that this was the first time she had actually managed to swing across eight bars, it was but inevitable that she would lose her grip midway at some point. And fall she did, straight on to the sandy playground below. Her face twisted in pain and she tried to smile bravely through it as I went to help her stand up again. Gently, I asked her if she was all right and if she wanted to continue playing. 
Eyes glistening with tears, she gulped and said, ‘I just need a few minutes. I will be fine.’ True to her word, she took a short break and was back on the bars, swinging and laughing.
After a couple of tries, she ran around the playground to show me that the pain had been temporary.
Lesson 4:
Making friends is easy if you know what to say
Gy had never visited this particular playground before, so she actually knew nobody there. Within 15 minutes though, she had managed to befriend the other girl who was swinging nimbly across the bars. I was sitting on a park bench some distance away when she came running to me, excitement in her voice. ‘Amma, Amma, I made a friend! There she is! A is her name!’ 
Pleased at her joy,  I replied, ‘That’s lovely. What did you say to befriend her?’ With amusement, she said, ‘I just said, “Hello, my name is Gy. What’s your name?” Then , she was off, running back to her new-found friend. In that second, I realised children have a simple and direct way of dealing with things, while we as adults, manage to complicate even the simplest task of saying ‘Hello.’
Lesson 5:
Making up with friends is even easier
Children and their fights on the playground are the stuff of legends. You know it and I have seen it at work. But what has always struck me is the speed at which children forgive each other. Within five minutes of making a new friend, Gy came to me with a morose expression, saying that A had fought with her. I sat there, silently and waited for her to figure out the solution. She sat by me and brooded for a few minutes and suddenly got up, ran back to A and said, ‘I am sorry. Shall we play again?’ And that was that. They were back to laughing and swinging side by side again.
As the sun gently set on the horizon, shedding its pinkish-orange hues on the playground before me, lighting up the faces of carefree kids, I wondered, isn’t that what Life is all about? Of trying, of falling, of getting our hands dirty, of making friends and making up with them. Yet, we seem content to complicate these things way out of proportion. 
I may not have all the answers to parenting nor may I have the exact thing to say when Gy asks me a question. But, I know, that  these five lessons on the playground will stand us all in good stead when we are facing the playground of Life.
Here we will explore an aspect of positive parenting, a tool or a technique that has helped me in my journey. 
If you’ve visited before, you may be familiar with my Yelling Less journal
Have you learnt any life lessons from unexpected quarters?
Do share in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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Gratitude in a Tin

Gratitude in a Tin

Thoughtful Thursday is here again and what better subject to talk about today than the overwhelming deluge of gratitude that has flooded my Facebook wall these last 5 days? And it was all thanks to the Positive Challenge.

What’s that, you ask?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Last Friday, my very good friend, Vidya Sury, tagged me on Facebook to list three things that I was grateful for on that particular day. She mentioned that it was a 5-day challenge and that I would need to list three things on each day. The very next day, I was tagged by Aditi Kausiva too!

I never realised the sheer power of that simple task! It was with all gusto that I started out with the challenge and it is amazing how much goodness I could see, if I chose to do so. Even in the midst of a seeming catastrophe, the fact that there is a good side to everything, kept firing me up to maintain the challenge!

What made it even more fun was the idea of tagging three people at the end of each day’s update, to carry the torch of Gratitude forward. Fabulous idea! It brought so many good things tumbling out of friends’ minds. It flooded my wall with posts of happiness. It filled my soul with the warmth of reading each person’s list and counting my blessings that they have all touched my life in one way or another!

Here, in quick recap ( and one single place) are my 5 updates with 15 things that I was grateful for.

Day 1

1/ My job, which makes me feel wonderful and the fact that in some small way, I am able to contribute to the education of children.
2/ The weather, which always reminds me why I love living in this city!
3/ My close online friends, whom I chat with almost every day, on pretty much any subject on earth. You know who you are 

Day 2

1/ My extended family whom I met today,with whom time spent is never time wasted. So much love, warmth and happiness that my heart overflows with gratitude when I think of them.

2/ My mother-in-law, who is quite possibly one of the happiest souls on earth! Everyday, I thank God for adding her to my life. A cooler, smarter, more wonderful in-law you won’t find, I guarantee it!

3/ The Indian saree  Yes, it always was and will be my favourite attire. The comfort and grace it provides, I find in nothing else. 

Day 3

1/ Walking in my apartment complex this evening as I watched my daughter play dodgeball with kids, getting down and sandy in the community park. As I grow (and so does she), I have learnt to let go of the little niggling issues like sand in one’s shoe, muddy feet and dirtied clothes. Instead, I now look at the flushed cheeks, the sweat that comes from an hour of carefree playing and the smiles that emerge after rolling around in the sand. 

2/ My day off from work. After a hectic weekend, which was also loads of fun, I could really use the break and catch up on some blogging and reading after nearly 10 days! 

3/ A note from my daughter’s school that covered a series of points on safety concerns, which also included reference to a session which will be conducted on CSA by a reputed organisation.

Day 4

Picture courtesy: Pinterest

1) My variety of support groups on Facebook/ Whatsapp: The blogger group, the parenting group, the fitness group, my alumni group, my spiritual group. My life is a medley of all of the above and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

2/ My dose of happiness thanks to The Big Bang Theory. Such laugh-out loud humour is my ideal way to start the day 

3/ My daughter’s face this afternoon when she came home from school and proudly told me how she had brought home all her homework books and an extra book as well, thanks to a Post-It note I had stuck on her diary. 

Day 5

1) Despite the fact that my phone blanked out and refused to turn on this morning  I was grateful for the fact that there was a spare phone lying around which I could quickly use.

2) My daughter. Every day, I find new reasons to love her more. Today, after an unreasonably long lunch, which caused me to get irritated, she still came and hugged me before leaving for her tennis class. Children are the best instances of the term ‘Unconditional love’. How much we can learn from them 

3) This entire exercise of looking for the 3 positive things each day. Without it, I would have lost my cool this morning when the phone conked out, I would have yelled my head off at my daughter and I would have had a headache. Instead, I sit here, typing out my gratitude. This is the kind of thing I should do everyday.

BONUS! Day 6

Technically, the challenge was done, but since Rekha tagged me for Day 6, here are my three reasons to be thankful. 

1. Having a tech guru at home who effortlessly fixes my ‘broken’ phone in under ten seconds is a sheer blessing! Thank you, Vishwanath 

2. Having a daughter who insists on my waving to her continuously until the bus leaves my sight is so endearing!

3.  This red flower growing in my apartment always makes me smile!

Guess what! I aim to keep this going. Inspired by Vidya Sury and her Happiness Jar, I just made my own Happiness Tin! It’s an old chocolate tin and you KNOW that chocolate can make us happy! Oh yes! It sits happily perched on my daughter’s table. When I feel that gratitude coming my way, off it goes into the tin, preserved there for me to read on a day when the clouds seem darker and the sun doesn’t want to come out and smile at me.

So, the smiley is a bit crooked and my handwriting is a bit crooked (okay, very crooked), but that’s what life is about, right? We look for the happiness in Life, even if it is flawed or bent out of shape.

Will you do this with me too? Will you start sharing your moments of joy and watch the chain of goodness spread all over your circles? Just imagine, a world connected virtually by love and gratitude for the little things. That is a Paradise we can surely aspire to on Earth 🙂

Did you write a Gratitude Post today? Then, you’re in luck. Head over to Laurel’s page and link it to the Gratitude Linky which is open for the next 10 days 🙂 Share the love, spread the word!


Welcome to my weekly feature: Thoughtful Thursdays

Do these tips help you?

Do you have any ideas to add to the ones above?

❤ Feel free to share your valuable comments and suggestions.

Thank you! 


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Responding to Stimuli- #LifeLessons

Responding to Stimuli- #LifeLessons

My daughter teaches me many things on an ongoing basis. I find myself looking at her every day and wondering where children get their wisdom, kindness and love from. Is it all innate and natural? Are we all born with this?
Sample Scenario 1:
Earlier this week, I was trying to prepare dinner and a child started howling in the corridor outside our home. The cry was a piercing, shrieking one, the kind that gets on your nerves and makes you want to cause serious damage! 
Just as I was about to step out and ask the kid to put a lid on it, Gy piped up in a soft voice, ‘Poor kid. I wonder why he’s crying. I guess he must be hungry or sleepy.’ The next second, she went back to reading her comic book. I, on the other hand, was standing frozen in the same spot.
We talk about empathy and not judging another. We speak of walking in the other’s shoes. We try our best to understand where people are coming from. And yet, with all that practice, I still let a crying child bring out the sleeping dragon in me. But, a seven-year-old had the instinctive response of sympathy , without forethought.
This got me thinking. So what happens then as we grow older? Do we lose that connection with the better part of our selves? Or do we just let Life and its anxieties overwhelm us to such an extent that we start suppressing our natural responses and react instead to external ‘irritations’?
Sample another scenario:
You have an argument with a relative/ your partner. He/she has criticised you over something, say, a dish you prepared with a lot of effort. In defense, you rise up, let loose some choice words and the ugliness hangs in the air for a long time. The mood is effectively spoilt and you have a raging headache and a mutinous glare to show for it too! This is because you REACT to the stimulus.
So, wait. What if we were to RESPOND instead? The whole problem emerges from the fact that we take an insult personally. What if the criticism is aimed at the action instead of the person? When the criticism reaches you, pause for a second and think: Okay, she doesn’t like the dish. It’s not ME that she doesn’t like. Let’s take it from there.
 You cannot control what other people say, but you can control how you react to what they say. ‘Pause and respond‘ is an action that I have grown to love these days. It keeps me calm, lowers my defenses and makes me more open and receptive to people.
Same scenario, different outcome. And a much better one, don’t you agree?
This principle is one that can be applied across all relationships, whether it’s the parent-child dynamic, the spouses at loggerheads, the connection between friends or the bond between the sets of in-laws.
As always, I believe we have a choice. We can choose to respond and not react. This will happen if we try and do it gradually, every step of the way and every moment of the day. 
It makes it even easier when we have children around to show us how to take those baby steps, one response at a time.
Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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