My whereabouts, and broader goals

Hey everyone!

It’s been a busy busy past few days. Although updating blog was on my mind, I couldn’t get around to doing it until today. I knew I had to update you guys on my whereabouts.

Since Aa tracked out two weeks ago, our schedule has changed. She’ll be home for a few more days now and then she tracks back in 🙂 Viv started new pre-school past Friday. So for almost two weeks, I’ve been having both kids home driving me crazy with their “Give me something to eat.”

Now, I’m on full time driving duty. We leave home together at about 7:30 AM. Drop Viv to preschool. Drop The Husband to office. Come back home. Cook. Clean. Exercise. Bathe. Go back to pick Viv. Come home. Lunch. Go to pick The Husband.

The first half of my day goes by in a blink. The Husband takes the driving duty from then on and takes Aa to her classes, while I clean up/ cook/ prepare for the next day.

I am so dreading coming Monday. It is the Daylight Saving time. Aa tracks in. As it is, I find it hard to roll out of bed early every morning. I’ll have to wake up more than an hour earlier to get everything ready before we leave the house!

I’m excited about longer and warmer days; not so much about the changing time though :\

So while I was on this forced blog sabbatical, I went into an introspective mode. Do you also have some things that dangle in the periphery of your mind but never get to do it? Like those news tickers, they keep playing on loop in the background but you never pay attention to them.

These two weeks, I have allowed the little voice inside me to speak a little louder so that I could acknowledge them. I had these haphazard thoughts flying in my mind and I needed to anchor them. If not, I get frustrated over unmet expectations; where in the first place, I haven’t made any efforts.

I made a list of goals in a broader sense where I need to put in work. I hope to, in the following days, come up with some kind of plan where I can successfully weave these things into my routine, while not upstaging my current circus. Here they are, in no specific priority order.

Curly hair maintenance

It is only recently that I have come to senses that my naturally curly hair needs to be taken special care of. I have been looking up and educating myself with videos and following fellow curly girls who have got their curly hair together. I’m still into searching and appreciating these girls and their methods. As much as I want to, I haven’t been able to give it the time that it needs, to narrow down on the specific method for my hair maintenance.

I admit, I’m a little reluctant to make it my priority. It takes a lot of time, and trial and error to find the right products that suit your hair. So far, I pay attention to wash days and second day hair care. Anything above that is work in progress. Like I want to deep condition my hair at least once a week. Currently, it is happening once a month or lesser often than that! Boo-hoo!

Cut down on grocery bills

After major bills like rent, electricity, car etc. grocery bills are making us cry tears of blood nowadays. Past few weeks, we are tracking our costs and will hopefully know where we are spending unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, I’m also into planning meals to better organize our purchases and to thereby bring down the costs. This step however, is taking forever to implement since we both like to randomize what we eat. We cannot curb sudden cravings and I know that’s where we end up buying additional stuff.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

Exercise regularly :: If you read my previous post, I may have led you to believe that I exercise regularly. It is true, but that happens in phases. I stay on track for 3, sometimes 6 months and then something major comes in the way where I have to take a break. Then somehow it is another 3-6 months before I start back again. I undo the progress I made.

I want to be able to exercise like I brush my teeth. I want to do it that regularly and effortlessly. As far as I’m concerned, exercising in itself is not a task for me. But to make that time to jump back into it after a break, feels tedious.

I’m also slowly introducing The Husband and the kids to get into a physical routine on regular basis.

Eat healthy :: We don’t particularly consume non healthy food. And that doesn’t even mean that we never eat unhealthy. It’s just that I want to be conscious of what we are feeding into our systems. It would, of course, go parallelly with the above point where we buy consciously.

Also, I figured, in our busy lives, I tend to hand our kids store bought snacks. And kids being kids don’t have an upper limit to how much they eat in one sitting. I realized I was feeding them fake food which kept them happy but never satisfied. This too is a work in progress where I have managed to successfully wean them off certain foods that they were used to.

Drink more water :: I think this goes without saying. I forget to drink water. This one’s again like my exercise routine. I make conscious efforts to drink more water during those phases of active exercise days. When working out bites dust, this one does too.

My goal is to drink at least 2 litres of water from 7 am – 7 pm.

I’ve always wanted to make specific changes to our lifestyle where we chose a better way of living without putting in much efforts. It becomes a task when only you are the one interested in doing so and rest have their own thing going.

I’m slowly treading the path,brainwashing the kids and The Husband into adopting a balanced way of leading a healthy life. Whether it works or not, only time can tell.

Blog

The decision to start writing once again was made with conviction. I plan to follow it through strictly. I did know that committing to a blog and keeping up with it would be a tall order. And I wasn’t wrong.

At this stage, every thing related to blog or blogging is overwhelming for me. How do I make the page more user friendly? How does this customizing/ editing thingy work? Why is this picture too large/ too small/ blurry etc. These technical aspects are a little too much for me to figure out in a short time that I get to actually sit down in front of a laptop.

I’m genuinely stumped on this one though. And I’ll take a long time to understand if I have to do it all by myself.

Now that it is all out in open, I hope to have some accountability. I plan to revise and review these goals in a few weeks again to see where I stand. Individually these goals are sustainable. It’s only when I try to shove everything down my throat at the same time that I hit a wall.

Stay tuned for more updates on my goals, because I’m going to pen them down here. Even my failures. Until the next post, Ciao!

Advertisements

My Guide to a Mess Free Home

What is the one thing that gives you spiritual contentment? Something that makes you feel connected to your soul and gives you sense of calm and peace despite having chaos around you?

For me, it is cleaning the house. Cleaning, in all its forms – routine cleaning, deep cleaning, de-cluttering, tidying organizing etc. – is divine. The satisfaction I derive from a crisp house is unparalleled.

It’s me, completely me, who feels the feels. Even though The Husband and kids appreciate a pin up home, they don’t react in a crazy manner when they see a mess, like I do. I can tolerate a certain amount of it. I go full Godzilla (Momzilla, perhaps?) and get overwhelmed when it moves past my tolerance level.

Of course, to maintain that status with kids living in the house is tricky. There are toys, clothes, papers, craft, school bags, water bottles, story books… It doesn’t take a long time for kids to start playing with one and jump onto another leaving the a trail of things to be picked up and put back into place.

Like I said, I cannot process a trashy house for a long period of time. It straight up messes with my brain. The house has to go back to a tolerable level, if I have to function normally.

Hence, I have had to devise some ways wherein the mess stays minimal, and tidying up doesn’t take much effort.

Guide to Keeping My House Mess Free

  • Deal with mails/ magazines/ books/ random papers on daily basis

I find it easier to go through our mails as I bring it in. I used to hold on to random advertisement, discount coupons, deal announcements etc in hopes of using it some time in the future which never really came. It kept adding to the pile, while I totally forgot that I had saved them. Now spam mails are scrapped as soon as they come in. Unless I find anything that will be used immediately.

Bills, credit card statements, school stuff; mails which are important go into their respective files the moment they come in. I cannot deal with the stress of not finding our visa extension papers when required!

I have stopped subscription of magazines/ books. I used to subscribe with enthusiasm only to discover later that those books are gathering dust in a growing pile.

Oh, and the amount of art work that kids bring home!!! Now I know my kids aren’t artists of Renaissance level. And they know it too. Once their art work is seen and appreciated by both of us, it is shredded and thrown in bin. Sounds horrendous right? Well, it isn’t when you really understand how it contributes to increasing trash at home.

  • Sort clothes every day

Clothes!!! Clothes, everywhere!!!

We live in the US. So the hoarding clothes dynamics is slightly different. Most apartments have a common laundry system, which means we have to do the laundry once/ twice per week. So with a family of four, each of us has had to have at least 4 sets of daily wear consisting 4 items each. If I did laundry every 4 days, I had to deal with about 64 clothing items at a time. :O

Things thankfully changed when we moved to Dallas and could afford having a laundry unit at home. Instead of waiting 4 days to wash clothes, I do it everyday. This way, I have limited the number of clothes that stay in rotation in the house, cut down on large chunk of time folding and putting it away, and I don’t have to deal with the musty odor of soiled clothes. (We are clean, hygienic people, but used laundry smells when stored!)

  • Control purchases

I have bought so many stuff deeming it necessary only to be used infrequently or never at all. I now analyze my purchasing needs. I wait it out for some time. If I still need something after the wait, I go ahead and buy it.

It is still a work in progress, that I hope I can successfully cut down.

  • De-clutter frequently

I get this overwhelming vibes from my house. That there is too much stuff, and it needs to be controlled. That’s when I de-clutter. I set a day aside; pull out unnecessary items and toss into a respective pile – Donate / Trash

  • Keeping toys/ sundry kids’ items in rotation

First, I don’t buy too many toys for my kids. Many came as gifts or return gifts. Anyway, toys nowadays are absolute waste of money. Regardless, there are blocks, dolls, puzzles, coloring books, markers, crayons etc. They are a headache to deal with when everything comes pouring out of the toy basket only to be ignored for the rest of the week.

I let the kids choose which toys they want to play, and which ones they want to store inside. I keep rotating the pile.

  • Putting things back in place

Now this habit took some grit and practice to stick. It sounds very easy but is as difficult to remember in a long run. I have to consciously take efforts, and walk the extra mile in putting things back from where I had taken them. Yes, I slip up, so many more times than I care to admit.

Even if I follow the rule, doesn’t necessarily mean that The Husband and kids do too.

  • Have The Husband and kids involved

I cannot run this show day in and day out without help. I am too lazy to be a super woman. I ask the family members to help out as it eases out the stress of having to do everything by myself. The kids clean their own room. The Husband sorts his own mail. Yes, it takes reminding, and sometimes nagging. But hey, my job gets done!

This is my everyday guide to keeping my house seemingly mess free and tidy. Is there anything you’d like to add to this list? I’m all for any cleaning/ de-cluttering/ tidying tips if you have any.

Do let me know and stay tuned! Until the next time, Ciao!

How I Started My Fitness Journey

To begin with, I was never a sporty, outdoor person. My mother recalls that even in early childhood, I never enjoyed playing in parks like my older brother did. I’d just stand next to my mom sulking into my own fantasy world. However, in school days, even though I hated the PE sessions in school, I loved playing with friends in the evening. And all that changed again, as puberty hit me. As much as I wanted to, the new bodily changes made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable to engage in outdoor activities.


On my wedding day, weighing at 47 kgs

All throughout my childhood, teenage and beyond, up until giving birth to Aa, my body was a thin matter. Time and again, people would chide me that I was too thin; that I should get a little rounder; that I should eat larger meals. But what can one do when that’s how your body is, right? Moreover, I felt smug in being thin, stick figure. After all, you are seasoned to believe thin = healthy = fit.

Coming to life after marriage, yes I did round up a little. And why not, we had moved to the US, and I finally enjoyed some stress free time. I no longer was an object of interest as “eligible wife material”. That in addition to eat-drink-sleep, and movie going lifestyle; my hormones did some wild somersaults that year.

I didn’t change much during my first pregnancy either. I gained healthy weight that I was supposed to. And imagine being told by your OB/GYN to enjoy pregnancy and eat whatever you wanted too! I didn’t hold back on eating, from Chinese take outs to Bhel Puri/ Pani puri, I gladly provided everything that my body craved. (I was in India after first trimester) Even in the 9th month, I hardly looked pregnant if I wore a loose fitting T shirt.

Things were about to change though. And how rapidly! Post delivery, magically, all that I had eaten started to show presence. My shoulders were thicker, upper arms rounder, fatter thighs (in addition to the thick thighs that I have always had even during my thinner days) and let’s just not talk about the stomach area! I must say though, a lot of well meaning aunties consoled me that our body is meant to store fat for the first difficult days (weeks and months) of child bearing and that it will all melt away in once I start to get more active. As soothing as that was to hear, it was equally depressing when people who once called me thin were pinching my chubby cheeks and saying I’m looking good now. To me, I wasn’t. It felt like someone had injected liquid lead into my systems overnight!

It might sound like I put on gross amounts of weight, and was obese. No, I was not. Thinking back, it was just relative… starting out at 52 kgs pre-pregnancy to 62 kgs after. It was a mere gain of 10 kgs, which in my mind translated to 100. I managed to shoo away the weight demon when I was on my own with Aa and husband in the US. With no diet or exercise. Just normal routine work wore me down.

While I was going through all of the above, not once did it strike me that I needed to exercise… like really get into a structured physical activity. Again that was because I was never sold into the idea that exercise should be woven into our mainstream life. For me, thin was really in. Earlier, if I gained weight, I could make it go back to where it was, with a little healthy eating (that generally meant restricting to home cooked food/ no non veg for 10 days)

This “controlled eating” scheme stopped working now. My weight or the fat was there to stay. This is when I had an epiphany. And thankfully, it was not any garbage epiphany but a meaningful one. I wanted to be an energetic person. I wanted to be fit for the sake of my growing family needs. I wanted a toned, agile body not a thin one. When this statement lit up in my brain, I started moving in the right direction. By now the year was 2014 mid; after two whole years and half of feeling fat and heavy.

With some prep talk and motivation by a close acquaintance, I joined the gym. This was the second time I’d joined the gym in my life. The first time was when I was 15 yo because I wanted to gain some weight. Talk about irony in life!! So yeah, gym was a five days per week affair, during Aa’s school time. To my surprise, I enjoyed working out. I absolutely loved feeling the warmth that ran through my body.

It didn’t take long for me to see and feel the difference. I was lighter, my skin glowed and clothes fit much better. Even the people around me complimented how good I looked.

Oh, and before I forget, I must mention that a huge portion of my cardio happened because we lived on the 9th floor apartment and the lift never worked (a blog post for another day maybe). So I had to up-down the stairs 2 times a day, during week days. NOT KIDDING. One up-down going and coming from the gym, another one to pick Aa from school. And since she was a 2 yo toddler, I had to carry her for more than half of the floors. Go strength training!!!

I was basking in this “looking good” glory when it happened. Rather two things happened. The husband changed jobs, so we had to move. We moved to a new house and even before we settled in, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

The focus shifted from being fit to having a healthy pregnancy. Although fitness and healthy pregnancy should’ve gone hand in hand (now that better sense prevails), situation then forced me to drop everything and pay attention to a life blossoming inside of me. Imagine telling your over protective Indian mother that you wanna hit the gym when you are pregnant. No, right? So that’s what happened. Gym days were over and OB/GYN, sonogram days started.

This pregnancy was no different except for the fact that I’d started at 58 kgs now. By the time, I delivered, I was 68 kgs, with a lot smaller belly to account for. When Viv was born he weighed 2.25 kgs and was a small but healthy baby. I guess everything I ate just kept converting into fat and making home in my body. Post second pregnancy was a recap of the first one only in the higher weight range. I was lugging around my body heavy at 71 kgs. But then, this time I was confident I would lose it all just like I had the last time.


Post second pregnancy weighing heaviest at 71 kgs

It was only when I moved again to the US, with Aa at 4 yo and Viv a couple months, did I realize that this time my fat and weight had concretized. It didn’t budge despite a more demanding routine. With sleep cycle out of whack, somewhat tantrum-y Aa, body a hot mess, I started to resent my life on many levels. Even though I knew how good I had it, I remained resentful that I couldn’t take charge and turn things around to my benefit.

The husband, bless that man! God knows how he stuck with me through that phase!! He was my voice of reason, sometimes consoled, sometimes gave me a hearing on how I should be patient.

He bought us both a gym membership, knowing how I liked working out. Here was the problem though, morning was impossible to leave home and by evening I was busted flat. I had no energy to change and go by the gym and drive back. No!

Husband stated I was beautiful to him. But what about feeling beautiful to yourself. By that I mean feeling mentally fresh, and content. I don’t think he then got how I wanted to feel versus how I was feeling. But there was nothing I could do than to wait out some period till things settled down.

Knowing that getting out of the house was not an option I wanted to stick to, I started browsing YouTube for workout videos. Most videos were a put down because of how over confident they sound and through the screen make you feel like a loser. Until I stumbled upon something that I really enjoyed. The more I looked into the collection of videos on offer, the more I was drawn to trying out new workouts.

I started to consistently work out. Again I reaped the benefits of exercise routines. And as before, we had to move. This time from Chicago to Dallas. My newly started fitness journey took a back seat once again.

I had to give a break for almost three months, regardless, I bounced right back into it. By now, I had started to educate and expose myself to various styles of exercising. This way I found what worked and what didn’t for me. January 2017, I decided to try out a 12 week workout challenge and followed it through diligently. The difference at the end of 12 weeks was evident. I had finally started to feel better from the inside out. Motivated by this change, I re did the challenge for next 12 weeks.

At this point, I had come to a realization that no matter what shape or size I am, I will exercise. The feeling that comes and stays with me the entire day after a great workout is unbeatable. And of course, all the other google-able benefits of embarking onto a fitness path.

Having said that, it’s not like I never fall off the wagon. There are times (and in case of my life, moving houses) when I have to abruptly stop my routine because for a time being I need to prioritize something else. Many a times, it takes me longer than necessary to get back. I undo the progress except I make sure I restart my journey.

I started my fitness journey with little knowledge in hand, fraught with misconceptions, false expectations, and high hopes. Today, I know better. I know to differentiate between a healthy mind and unhealthy perceptions about fitness. I know that feeling better outweighs looking better (although, the latter follows soon after). I know that it is more important to acknowledge how you are doing your fitness journey versus how you started it.

Even after all these years of hit or miss, I’m still learning. Just today I googled the difference between “healthy” and “fit” though I knew the terms in broad sense.

In days to come by, I’m planning to keep a log of my workout routine on the blog so that I can stay accountable, and also see how far I have come along.

Stay tuned! Until the next post, ciao!

My 10 Year Challenge

I assume everyone’s aware of the Facebook’s 10 year challenge. No choice when it pops up and stays plastered on your wall right?

The thing about such challenges is that you can never really ignore them. Even if you don’t post it, you’ve probably secretly compared your profile pictures of then and now. 🙂 I did too; which actually brought me to write this post.

My first profile picture was clicked more than 10 years back. It was from my first international trip to Singapore. Memories came flooding back. Of innocence, of lucid dreams, of positivity, and of a mind free of clutter. As against my latest picture clicked during Diwali; a time when we were in midst of making an interstate move. Life was chaotic.

It is interesting how pictures transcend frozen moments and summon memories of a specific time period of our lives. When I saw these two pictures side by side, I realized how far along I have come. From being single, and a carefree student to a married woman who has duties and responsibilities. It’s like I’m comparing two women who have almost nothing in common.

Honestly speaking, this past decade went by in a blink. I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m no longer 21 year old. (BTW that would be more than a decade). It whizzed past so fast that I wonder if I were in a time warp or something. I finished my education; got a job, quit it; fell in love and married the guy; gave birth to two kids… Some of life’s biggest milestones have happened. Each of them teaching a lesson and denting my perfect vision of a perfect life.

These ten years have taught me to be less rash and more rational. It has made me wise enough to listen more than speak. I trust my intuition more than I trust people. I think a lot before committing myself to anything.

These lessons and awakenings came in phases and spurts, with their prices. Some so heavy that I’m still bearing the brunt of it. Nor did they come at a steady pace. There were months and years sometimes when I sailed smoothly. And then abruptly I was uprooted, either emotionally or physically. (Those familiar with my move stories will immediately understand)

So when I try to think if my life in the past years has been more on the positive side or negative; it feels like they have gone hand in hand. They walk parallelly. Although I wish so fervently that the negative aspects disappear, or at the least, lessen; I can find solace that I have a lot to be grateful for too. I’m probably most grateful for learning that there’s no one way to look at life. It’s a kaleidoscope out there. Each time you see, there’s a new design and a different pattern. You have to adapt and admire.

What does your 10 year challenge look like? Have you evolved just as I have?

P.S. For the sake of the original challenge, my pictures side by side

Welcome!

Hi everyone! How have you been?

As for me, I am very much alive and well, although my online presence has been anything but! If you have missed me, well, here I am once again and, this time I plan to stick to my plan of writing regularly.

I have a long list of reasons on why I didn’t continue to write. Frankly, life kept happening, y’all! And when that was happening, blogging world underwent a sea of change. Changes that I haven’t been able to keep up with! Earlier, some 10-13 years back, it was easy. Easy for my not-so-technology-savvy mind to understand. It was a simple three step process – Write, Publish and Wait for people to read. Now, there is so much I need to learn! I am determined to, although I might move at a slow pace.

Why here? Why now?

I missed writing and connecting with people from the moment I consciously chose not to devote time to writing anymore. Writing for me is as sacred as my family. I need to be completely “there” without being asked to share my time with someone or something else. A lack of this slice of time, where the household could be on auto pilot, is what led me to stop my blogging dead in its track.

It seems now though, that my family life has some sanity. A somewhat plateau phase where I don’t have to constantly keep my senses aware. It was about the kids. Isn’t it always about the kids? 🙂 We are at a point where my older one understands when I tell her I need my time, and that she has to manage by herself. That’s when she takes my younger one under her wing and that is such a great help. My husband has always been supportive, and that hasn’t changed one bit.

Considering all this, it all began to come together in my mind. It was a boiling thought, when like a sign, my childhood friend called all the way from Germany. A casual chat soon turned to “Why did you stop writing and why don’t you start again?” Sometimes, it only takes a friend to give you a reality check and assurance to start what you once loved doing.

So here it is, my blog named after my very first one (that I deleted), Expressions Unleashed 2.0

Welcome to this space, and I will have posts lined regularly. Promise you’ll read me and encourage me like you once did! Hold my hand as I learn to walk this maze of new age blogging tools. Demand rightfully that I update this page often.

Until the next post, Ciao!