The Art of Being Still

I have this itch to do something. I’ve had this itch for a long time, probably around the time I became a stay-at-home mom to 2 kids. There is an intense feeling that I should be out in the world doing something, accomplishing something.

I read this quote today and it resonated with me:

“Crazy-busy is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.” – Brene Brown

It got me wondering if that’s what I’m doing. Am I trying to do something so I stay ahead of what I’m feeling? Do I need to accomplish something so that I feel validated as a person? I feel like I have been numb for a while. I haven’t felt the ups and downs like a regular person would. It might be that I’m protecting myself from feeling at all.

What if I were to stop trying to force the issue for a bit? What if I were to just stay still and really figure out what’s going on with me? What if I were to let the armor down?

It’s a scary thought.

I also wonder if I’m the only one. How many other people are trying to stay super busy so they don’t have to think, to feel? What if we slowed down for a minute? Would it allow us to see who we truly are?

Being South Asian Indian, we are especially regularly busy. We have so many social events that we plan our events months or even years in advance. Is it a good thing to have that community or does it just add the busyness? Is there a balance you can achieve where you have the space to discover yourself but enough people around you to have the support you need?

The next thing I wonder about is if will it be disappointing to see myself at a stand still.  What if I don’t like who I am without the cover of busyness? Will it even reveal something? It feels overwhelming to just stop. How do you discover who you are and what you’re feeling? How do you handle what you find out? What is okay? What will I find okay?

I’m up for the challenge because I’ve been trying to forcing myself to find something to accomplish for a while now. I want to slow down and let the universe reveal the path I’m supposed to take. It might be easier even if I have to face things about myself I don’t like.

Let me know your stories if you have ever tried this before. I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

The Boy Who Wears Bows

We are in a new time in our lives. When I was growing up, the ideas of what boys wear and what girls wear were pretty established.

Now, if you were growing up like me, it was okay to be a tomboy. You could wear boys’ clothing and play sports and video games and it was no big deal. But if you were a boy, the same gender neutrality wasn’t the case.

I have a son and a daughter. My son is the baby so he follows his sister everywhere. She is a tomboy in princess’s clothing. She wears dresses, does her hair, and puts on a necklace and then goes to climb mountains and play baseball. There is no separation of what is acceptable for her to do or wear from any other child.

My son likes to do the same thing his sister does plus a few things she didn’t do. He loves cars and trains and trucks in a way she was never into. And he will participate in all of it with a bow on his head. He sees his sister wear bows and asks for them as well. Because we have never established something was a “girl thing” or a “boy thing”, we put the bow on and let him rock it.

It definitely raises interest especially in our South Asian circles. We have heard “that’s for girls” a few times. But really is it? Or is it just something that we have established as a “girl thing” in society? If boys were given a fair chance to express themselves, would they themselves have immersed in the bow culture?

The next question that arises is what happens when my son wants to wear something else his sister wears. What about princess dresses or necklaces or bangles?

What do we do when we have let the kids live in a gender neutral zone where they can be free to do or wear whatever they want? Is it better to follow society’s gender norms at least for now so we can protect our son from the chance of being bullied until he can understand how to protect himself? Would we follow the same rules of parental protection as we would with climbing structures and riding bikes? Would we do whatever we could to protect them in the real world until the real world catches up with the way we think?

As parents, what is the correct path? I don’t know if there is one. I think we are in a new territory where children have the freedom to become who they really are, who they are truly comfortable with. I want to be able to be there for my children for whatever choices they make. I want to be there for them to fall back on and to be their shield when they need it. My parents did that for me when I was breaking society’s norms and I don’t want to be any less for my kids.

It may turn out that our son doesn’t care for “girl things” as he gets older. It may turn out that he loves them.

It may turn out that he may go on to drive monster trucks with a multitude of bows in his hair.

Why Don’t We Talk About It?

I met someone who was telling me about her journey to have her children. She was open about it which she mentioned was unusual for an Indian person.

She wasn’t wrong.

Why don’t we talk about it? I’m not just talking about things like miscarriages and infertility but also other things that we think are embarrassing or that we will be judged for in the Indian society.

Why should we be embarrassed? So many people go through things such as depression, therapy, divorce, miscarriages, in vitro fertilization, difficult births, and having a hard time adjusting to being a parent. The list goes on and on.

Why shouldn’t we talk about it? I’ve personally been through quite a few of these things and I try to be open about it because if my experiences can help one other person see that it’s normal to feel like this or go through this and it helps them figure out how to make themselves feel better, then it’s worth it.

We keep worrying about being judged by our community or society but seriously, what the hell? Who cares if some aunty talks about the fact that you had trouble getting pregnant? I promise you a fair number of the generation before us also had the same problems. So why do they believe that not looking like the “perfect” person is a bad thing?

As I said in Emotional Awareness- Yes, It’s A Real Thing, mental health is important. And as a South Asian Indian, we hide from our feelings. We try to play off that everything is always okay. Everything is not always okay. And most of us probably understand that even though we don’t share it. It’s a good thing to be able to recognize when you aren’t okay because recognizing that is a step to helping yourself.

It’s okay to not be happy 100% of the time. It’s okay to go through things. It’s okay to have physical and emotional health problems. And talking about it gives you a chance to finding a solution. It also gives you a chance to find a support system to lean on. None of these things makes you a worse person. None of them make you a weak person. Acknowledge and own what you are going through. Once you do, no one else’s judgment matters.

So let’s talk about it.

Why Should I Always Tip?

So here’s a story of a meal I had this past weekend. We met my parents at an Indian restaurant for lunch on Sunday to celebrate my husband’s birthday.

Everything was fine except for the fact that after we received our food, no one came to check up on us to see if everything was all right. That was okay. The food was good, came out quick enough, and we were having fun watching my kid really enjoying eating.

Then came the dessert and coffee we wanted to order. My dad ordered his coffee and before any of us could say anything else, the server turned to leave. Then, I asked for coffee so he turned back towards us. He turned to leave again. Then, my husband asked for coffee and dessert so the server turned back towards us. As he turned to leave again, I asked him to hold on so we could all check what we wanted. It wasn’t more than a minute that it took us to decide. Finally, we got our full order in. But it was a little irritating that he couldn’t just wait 2 seconds to let all of us order without worrying that he was going to take off.

We got our coffee. Immediately after, we got our check. We didn’t pay right away because we were still waiting for our dessert (which was ice cream so really, it shouldn’t have taken longer than the coffee in my opinion). I took a look at the check to see if they had charged us for the ice cream. I figured if it was on there, then at least he had heard us and they would be bringing it over. As soon as I glanced at the check and put it back down, the server was back to take it away. He didn’t even ask us if we had paid. I had to stop him again to let him know there was no money in there and that we were just waiting for our dessert.

Finally, our ice cream came. Unfortunately, it was so frozen that we couldn’t eat it. We couldn’t cut it. We flagged someone else down to get a knife so we could split it 4 ways. I was hoping she would bring a steak knife because that’s what we needed. But we got a butter knife instead. We still managed to cut it but we still couldn’t dig our spoons into it to eat.

While we waited, we finally paid the check. Of course, that was taken right away by someone other than our server and returned to us with the change. While we were still waiting, our server then came and picked up the final bill with whatever change was inside of it. He didn’t asked us if we were finished paying or doing whatever we needed to do. He just assumed it was okay to take.

Now if there had been a lot of change, I would have protested. But there was only a couple of bucks in there. Which meant that the server left with a $2 tip on a $60 bill. That’s a 3% tip. We normally tip at least 15%. We had discussed though that since the service was really bad, would we be tipping that much?

It didn’t matter. The decision was made for us by a server who was just trying to turn over the table.

Tipping is something that can be a sore point for me. I have had friends and family who have worked in the service industry and I get the whole underpaid thing and the need to have tips to compensate for it. But shouldn’t tipping rely partially on the service provided? I don’t have it in me to automatically tip a good amount just because you did your job. At the same time, I will tip generously if the service was beyond what was called for. But that is my hard earned money and I did my job well so I could come to the restaurant and eat. I don’t want to just part with it because of societal expectations.

I think it’s unfair that we feel like we have to tip a certain amount automatically. A lot of us are in jobs where we don’t receive a tip for good customer service. A lot of us are in jobs where we feel like we aren’t compensated enough for the amount of work we do. But we deal with it. We don’t have an option other than to ask for a raise or to find another job. Why is there a double standard here?

With this particular experience, this server did as much work as someone in a fast food restaurant. He took our order and brought us food. There was no extra service. I don’t tip a fast food employee. So why should this be any different?

Maybe I’m missing something about the restaurant industry so if you would like to fill me in on those facts, please feel free.

Why Do Indians Try To Change The Way Our Babies Look?

I’ve mentioned that I’m a part of a few different mommy groups on Facebook, one of them being an Indian mommy group. There are so many great things about being a part of that group because you get to share ideas and things you’ve done and get help from others when you have questions.

But there is one big thing that drives me crazy every time I see it posted. There are Indian moms who ask how they can change the appearance of their child.

Here are examples of what I’m talking about (my version of examples since I don’t want to copy and paste things that are confidential to the group):

–My child was born with curly hair. If I shave it, will it come back straight? How can I      make it look better?

–My child in a month old and has hair on her face. How can I get rid of it?

–Will an oil massage help lighten my child’s skin?

And this goes on and on and on.

Why? Why are we trying to change the way our babies look? We criticize and try to change these children that are born after everything we go through to have them. We go through so much to get pregnant and then the stress of the pregnancy itself. These child are born perfect. Every single one of them. How can we judge the looks of someone so small and innocent?

And why do we think certain qualities are bad? Why is darker skin bad? Why is curly hair bad? I have curly hair and I love it. I know a girl who has darker skin than I do and she is one of the most beautiful, talented, and smarter girls I know.

Our goal in raising our child is so they grow up with great values and culture and become amazing adults. And yet, as newborns, we sit and criticize how they look. How are these kids supposed to develop good self-esteem and confidence with this type of parental attitude?

We are trying to get our babies to fit society’s standards of beauty. But here’s the problem. Society’s standards of beauty are wrong. Beauty shouldn’t be judged on one or two different physical characteristics. So if we try to change our children, what are we telling them? The only way to change what society considers beautiful is to believe that our children are beautiful just the way they are and teach them that.

I know I want my child to be confident in who she is as a person. I personally went through an ugly duckling phase when I was in school but I made it through. I think it actually made me a more grounded person because I haven’t relied on my looks at any point in my life. I had to learn to be social and to be able to relate to people around me.

I hope mothers will start appreciating their children for who they are and not what they look like. I hope they will start focusing more on how to raise their children and not how to improve their looks. I hope that these children will learn that your physical appearance has nothing to do with how beautiful you really are.

We Indians Need To Learn How To Be More Compassionate

I had a hard time writing about this topic: compassion. I just wasn’t sure what I could write about. I wasn’t even sure if I knew anything about this topic at all. I even looked up what compassion means so I could figure out what to write about. The problem is I tend to be more empathetic and can see that more clearly. But Webster’s said that empathy was not the same as compassion.

So, 3 days after the deadline, I finally realized what I could write about.

I’m a South Asian Indian born and raised in America. I come from a background where we tend to judge each other quicker than we show compassion. If something doesn’t go right or something bad happens, it somehow had to be that person’s fault. They did something that caused that bad thing to happen. I had a friend once tell me that when she told her mother about her miscarriage, her mother’s first words to her were “What did you do?”.

We, as a community, also don’t speak about so much that is happening around us. Things that require compassion are being hidden and causing emotional havoc in our lives, things like broken engagements, broken marriages, emotional abuse, physical abuse, miscarriages, infertility, depression, suicidal thoughts.

It upsets me that these are things that so many of us have gone through but yet, we still worry about telling the person next to us in fear that they will judge us. We aren’t able to share what we have really been through.

I have personally been through a few of these things. When I had, I completely disappeared from our community’s social scene. The only time I felt I deserved to be back in it is when I had done something indisputably good to make up for a few of the “bad” things I had done or been through. I couldn’t hold my head up around them until I had finally achieved something that our community could be proud of and say “Yes, I know that woman”.

Why should I feel ashamed for my circumstances in life? Why should I feel like everyone is talking about me behind my back? Why should I have to worry about being judged for making decisions to make my life better?

So my call is to the South Asian Indian community today. Be compassionate. Stop letting others feel like they will be judged for going through hard times in life. Not a single one of us is better than another. We will be stronger as a community if we help each other instead of tearing each other down. Share what you personally have gone through because I can guarantee you that the person next to you has gone through something that’s been life changing and difficult as well.

I was inspired to write this by #1000Speak. Compassion is something that I believe in but don’t see often enough.

Check out the other stories of compassion.

Name-Dropping

“Oh, I know them. They love me!” 

Have many times have we said this? Have many times have we been talking with someone and we mention that we know someone that they know even if we don’t really know that person? How many times do we act like we know everyone and everyone knows us? 

Why do we name drop? Does it make us more important to know everyone? Is it a question of our validity to the world again? 

Is it possible that we can just be realistic and appreciate the people that we actually do have in our lives and just be no one to the masses? Is it possible we can do something for the sake of the action and not just because it would make us known to the world? 

And what about the people whose names we drop? Are they really important in some way? Are they just really popular? What does popularity even mean anymore? 

We’ve built this idea up of what is right in society. We desire acceptance and approval from others within. We want for people to know that we are important and that people want to know us and need us. We want to be valid. We want to know that something we do makes sense and that we will leave a mark on this world. We want to never be forgotten. 

I think the first step in really accepting ourselves. We need to know that we are important to the people around us, regardless of the masses. We are allowed to know a few people important to our lives and not be in the midst of every huge social event that occurs. Knowing ourselves is the more important part of this. In knowing ourselves, we accept that we are who we are and our lives do make a difference to the people around us. 

Maybe then we can finally believe that being just who we are is absolutely fine even if it goes against everything what we thought we knew.