Sunday, December 28, 2014

Year 2014: Less Drama. More Peace.

I like to believe that in the year 2014, not only did I grow a year older, but also a little bit wiser (and apparently, a little less modest).

At the beginning of 2014, I had written a grand entry on how I would not be stretching myself this year, but instead, would chill out because I so needed a break. 

Yeah, OK. So that clearly didn't happen. 

Instead, I took up guitar lessons, I completed shoot for 6 episodes of my sitcom, I wrote a feature film script and a short film script for a friend, on top of the episodes for my sitcom. I exercised 205 days (yes, I still count these things), went on 5 different holidays - the highlight of which was our big fat family trip (together with my parents and in laws) to New Zealand, somehow ended up partying a lot (?!) which is rather weird because I am hardly a "party" person, took up photography a little bit more seriously and generally made my life overflowing with activities on top of work, motherhood, domestic responsibilities and such.  

Still, I feel that I have been through all of it, in a manner different from the previous years. This was probably my most peaceful, calm, contented year till date. Or at least half of the year was so.

It all started when I went back home to Kerala in July for a few days, with the key purpose of visiting a dear cousin who was in town from US, after a long gap of five years.

A few things happened then.

Firstly, I had arrived smack in the middle of the Kerala monsoons. Which, as such, is drop dead gorgeous and can turn any miserable person beaming with appreciation for nature's beauty. But this time, I had the added privilege of enjoying them from our new home which overlooked a serene pond and a row of temples that lined it. I spent a lot of hours just gazing out of my bedroom window, at the rain soaked pond with its water cranes and the temple beyond,  enjoying a cup of tea, lost in the view.

Secondly, I was completely cut off internet and phone. There was no wireless connection and my dad's laptop was connecting to the internet only intermittently. Which was, my God, such a blessing.

Thirdly, I realized how wonderful it is to lose oneself to silence. The temples in Kerala have what's called the "chuttuvilaku" - the rows of oil lamps that line all four walls of the temple. One evening, I found myself lighting up these lamps at the quaint, adorable Pathiyaarkulangara temple on the outskirts of my city. The small temple sat on the edge of a sprawling farm, away from crowds and traffic, immersed in silence and when I visited, drenched in rain. 

There were hundreds of lamps on the chuttuvilakku and I moved from one to another - filling them with oil, dropping in the wicks and lighting them up with a blazing torch. It took me and a couple of other ladies more than an hour to complete this exercise and it was probably one of the best hours spent ever. There was the blissful silence broken only by the drizzle of the rain and the occassional bird that flew past, and the therapeutic exercise of lighting one little lamp at a time. I felt so much at peace. Everything felt so right then.

Back in Singapore, I began to create these moments of silence for myself. I started to meditate. Not too frequently, unfortunately, but at least I have started and I feel good about that. I have taken up more yoga than before - not Bikram Yoga that I was practicing earlier but Ashtanga Yoga that also focuses on breath and sight. I feel like it is moving meditation and 50% of the 205 days of exercise mentioned above was spent on yoga. I attended a Kriya Yoga class and have just begun to practise those techniques of meditation.

I leave my phone behind at home, when I am out for dinner with the hubby. I leave my phone in a different room when I am with my daughter. I try to reduce TV time, internet time, phone time and instead, try to have dedicated time for the little one. In other words, I consciously am trying to remove the noise and be more mindful of what I am doing.

At this point in time, you may be going... OK madam, that is way too much wisdom, but how did it all help?

Well, for starters. I am far healthier this year than last year. This information is factually based on my annual medical check up results. Those horrendous cholesterol levels from last year are well under control! My diet hadn't changed - so I would like to attribute it to everything else including the yoga. So that's good.

Next, I have completely made my peace with being a mother. In fact, I am really enjoying it now. A lot of the blog posts from 2013 were in the camp of "holy-freaking-God-I-am-a-mother!". I don't feel that way any more. I find it truly fascinating to watch the little one grow. Maybe because she is picking up language skills right now and can be a real hoot when it comes to communication, or because she just loves dramatics, and I am already making plans to cast her in future movies. Whatever maybe the reason, I am able to set motherhood related thoughts and palpitations aside and simply watch and play with her for hours. I enjoy our (phoneless) activities a lot - shopping for accessories together, painting together, making a photo wall together, playing with stickers together, acting together and what not.  I don't stress out any more about being a good/bad mother.

In fact, I don't stress about many of the things I used to any more. Maybe stress isn't the right word. Maybe it is fear? I try not to scare myself by thinking too much about what could go wrong and worry about it. Sitcom shoots not on track? Pressure at work? Too ambitious a film project in the pipeline? I try not to imagine the negative consequences and lose sleep over it which, by the way, I used to do a lot previously.

Just as well, because recently I happened to come across an email I wrote the hubby a few years ago, when he was travelling abroad on work and I was still in Singapore. The email, without going into details, was full of how my life sucks. So much so that, according to the email, I went and pierced my nose and dyed my hair with streaks of red, as a form of rebellion. It was evident that it was something related to my work but I have no idea today what that was! Whatever it was had gotten me super frustrated, but today I can't even vaguely remember what on earth it was!

Lesson learnt - Less Drama. More Peace.

So what next?

Well, this is just the beginning. I might have sounded like I am close to attaining nirvana from the above, but the truth couldn't be farther. I still have many moments when I feel like screaming (and sometimes I do scream) or at a minimum wanting to rip off the head of the person annoying me but I am trying to get away from such violent thoughts. I need to go a long way, and I mean a really, really long way before I can get to the discipline needed for regular practice of meditation, yoga, more mindfulness and less drama in my life. It is going to require a lot of patience and effort.

And it is going to be critical because 2015 promises to be a one of a kind year for me.

I don't have a resolution to chill out this year. In fact, it is going to be quite the opposite. I am planning a series of things that I have been wanting to do for the longest time.

This also means that I will be more regular with the blog for the next few months, because I do not want miss out on capturing these experiences that promises to be bumpy but beautiful.  More details on that coming up soon.

Have a beautiful 2015!

P.S. I just discovered a post from 2013 titled "Older & Wiser" where I am freaking out about health and motherhood. Fascinating read. Thankfully, things are at a much better place now.