“You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be joyful, you deserve to be celebrated. But in order to do that you must first madly fall in love with yourself. “ ~Lisa Nichols
A world-renowned motivational speaker, best-selling author and global personality, Lisa Nichols is a woman I enjoy listening to. For she has a way with the words and many ways to stir your heart. She was voted as the most impressive teacher from the movie ‘The Secret’.
From being a struggling single mom on public assistance to leading a multi-million dollar enterprise, her extra-ordinary personal story is an inspiration in itself. Her courage and determination to massively transform her life has filled many with the hope to bring about positive changes in their lives as well.
I’m not extraordinary. I’m simply an ordinary woman who chooses every day to make extra-ordinary decisions.
Lisa has appeared on The Today Show, Oprah, Steve Harvey show and many other acclaimed TV shows, making her a sought after media celebrity. She is the Founder CEO of ‘Motivating the Masses’ – America’s one of the only publicly traded personal and business development training programs.
Your greatest fear is not that you are going to die. Your biggest fear is that you are going to die before you let the world see who you really are.
Personally for me, Lisa made an impact when I heard her online through a few personal growth sessions. Her words are uplifting, her tone so encouraging and her intent – pure and warm. I look forward to reading her books beginning with ‘Abundance Now’.
“To be a financially savvy woman, you don’t have to like tracking your numbers. You just have to do it.” ~ Patti Fagan.
We are almost at the end of this financial year (31st March in India) as I sit to pen this blog post. Last few weeks I had to ensure all taxes are paid, income tax returns are filed, tax-saving deductions are done under Section 80C….Its time to review my investments. How are my mutual funds looking? The stock markets are high and volatile so have to plan well. I am in the midst of preparing my personal budget for the new financial year. Have to factor inflation rate plus increase in school fees….
Few years ago, all this would have been completely Greek and Latin for me. I barely had any idea about the financial jargon. When you have never handled your money on your own and are left-brain challenged, personal finances can seem daunting. Most of us Indian girls coming from a sound economic background are usually raised in way where the money matters are completely looked after by the father (and brother if there is) and after marriage by the husband (and the father-in-law if applicable). Traditionally, men have always taken care of the financial aspect in a relationship. No questions asked, all in good trust and faith.
Flash back to the time when I was faced with my divorce. And with it came all the challenges of handling not only my own finances but also that of my minor daughters. The girl who had mainly worked with paintbrushes and pens was now compelled to look at numbers and excel sheets, big time. A single woman and a single mom put together in a situation where there was no choice but to take control.
Learning the ropes of everything around money did not come easy. It continues to be a process of constant education till date. But I am so glad to have been thrown into the situation, else I probably wouldn’t have learnt as much. A lot of women I know have no clue about their own finances simply ‘cos there has not been any need to learn. One of my aunts had no idea about the medical policy details when my uncle was hospitalised in an emergency. A close friend does not know how net banking works. An older mom I know was clueless about her income tax statement and regrets not learning.
I believe it’s very important for every woman to be financially savvy. Here’s why:
Self-respect: When a woman equips herself with financial knowledge, she is able to control her money well. That fills her with self-confidence and puts her in charge. It is critical for her own survival skills when crisis befalls. When she can hold her own in a financial situation, her self-respect takes a huge leap.
Key decision-making: It is generally the woman in the family who knows the family spends. Home management, paying for the children’s education and activities, shopping requirements, bills, etc. are usually in her domain of responsibilities. If she is financially smart, money management will be easier and it will augur well for better decision-making.
Sense of ownership: You know your money well, you own it, you have a sense of responsibility. The onus is on you – to save, to lose, to spend. Even if you make mistakes, they will serve as lessons. But the sense of complete ownership is wonderful. No one can take you for a ride or cheat you when you know how things work.
Exercising your choice: There are several modes of investments to allot your money. It helps you to make an informed choice when you are aware of your funds and financial needs at different stages. Organising and systematic planning comes very easily to women, especially mothers. She can use these skills effectively for taking important financial decisions.
Sense of freedom: In most cases, money is the tool that allows us to enjoy the varied pleasures of life. If a woman is financially smart about her money choices, she need not wait for anyone’s permission or approval. She can indulge in whatever her heart desires. Now that feeling can be truly very liberating!
“Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first.” ~Carrie Bradshaw
It’s Valentines Day tomorrow – love is in the air! Candlelight dinners are being booked. Valentine cards with pop-up hearts are selling across gift shops. Heart-shaped red balloons have been visible on street signals past few days. Couples of all ages right from teenyboppers to the newly marrieds to the been-married-for-decades look forward to this day in their own ways. The thought of spending precious time with your loved one and receiving lovely goodies makes it a day to cherish.
Thinking of it all makes me wonder what does Valentine’s Day hold for singles like me that do not have a doting partner. It’s a day meant for love, but does it have to be celebrated only by couples? Nah, it’s a day to celebrate love and love does not necessarily mean your special someone or spouse. There are so may people in our lives on whom we can shower our love. How do we make it special for them and for us? What does love really mean anyways?
With time and wisdom gained from life’s experiences, I have learned to believe that love truly begins by loving ourselves first. If we are unable to love ourselves, we cannot sincerely love others. When our self-love grows, we become happier and confident and thereby radiate more love. No matter how many relationships we have and whatever their quality maybe, it is essential to keep coming back to the one relationship that counts – with our self!
Here’s looking at a few ways to love ourselves more than we do:
Self-acceptance –We are all born as unique individuals. Beautiful, quirky, imperfect, flawed, talented – we are who we are with all our positive assets as well as our shortcomings. Rather than wishing that we were made differently or comparing ourselves with others, it is good to acknowledge everything about us. Self-love begins with accepting ourselves as we are.
Self-esteem – No matter what choices we make in life, be focused on who you are and not how others see you. Do not get defined by others’ opinion or judgment about you. Work on maintaining a healthy self-esteem and self-worth. What you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. –Eleanor Roosevelt
Self-appreciation – How wonderful it feels to be appreciated by people. To be applauded for your accomplishments, for how you made a difference to others and for the value you add in everyone’s lives. And when you feel less appreciated than what you deserve, or crave for, then give yourself a pat on your back every once in a while. Its good to remind ourselves of where we were and how far we have come crossing several life hurdles!
Self-care- Love means being kind, encouraging and caring. Self-love is to be that and direct all those energies towards us. We don’t necessarily need anyone else to care for us, we are capable of pampering ourselves in more than one ways. Look out for yourself. Take time to indulge in what makes your soul happy. A little celebratory pastry once in a while will not hurt your body.
Self-respect- Self-respect is a virtue no one can take away from us. Do not lose your dignity by demeaning or short-changing yourself. The way we treat ourselves is in a way an invitation for others to treat us. It’s important to stay away from people and situations that pull us down. Maintaining our self-respect is key to self-love, we must preserve it at all cost.
You have to love yourself because no amount of love from others is sufficient to fill the yearning that your soul requires from you ~Dodinsky
Loving ourselves does not mean we are selfish or self-indulgent. It means nurturing ourselves and replenishing our spirits so that we can give from a place of fulfilment. It is a cornerstone for healthy love and healthy relationships!
“Those who have gone through divorce know the pain and special challenges of raising a child under such circumstances.” ~Mike Macgavick
My divorce hit me hard, it sure did. It is after all a life-changing event in more ways than one can imagine. But what hit me harder was the way our society is conditioned to perceive divorce. People have strange ways of reacting and looking at divorcees, especially divorced women.
We divorced women have a lot on our plate, we can surely do without more stressors. As we deal with our situation and with our difficult feelings, these are some of the things we would like to tell people:
We are not victims: Whether we have chosen to end our marriage or our spouse has, we do not want to be seen as victims. Life is not meant to be fair and everyone has their share of challenges. Just like any other relationship, a marriage too can end for several reasons. Do not stare at us with pitiful eyes or call us ‘poor her’. We do not ask for sympathy.
Do not gossip: Divorce tends to become a topic of juicy gossip in our society, be it in private gatherings or social functions. Both husband and wife are analysed and people love to indulge in finding faults. Do recognise that divorce is agonising for the families concerned. We have too many perplexing emotions to deal with, we do not require any mud slinging. Kindly do not add more negative energy into the situation.
Divorce is not a sign of weakness: On the contrary divorced women are strong enough to recognise that staying in a bad marriage can be hazardous – for us as well as our kids. We would have put up with a lot of trauma and suffering before our separation. It would probably have been the hardest choice to arrive at the inevitable decision. But going through the painful process of divorce and its aftermath only makes us more resilient than one can fathom.
Do not judge us: The society tends to put the onus usually on the women to save a marriage. It is assumed that the wife has to work harder to adjust and make the husband and in-laws happy. Yes, marriages are sacred for us and we would have mightily strived to save it. We do not marry to get divorced especially when we have children. But do not think of men as a superior sex who can be excused for their misogyny. Shake out of the long imbibed patriarchal conditioning. Stop expecting us to bend over backwards all the time. Our husbands are not our Gods.
We don’t have to remarry: Marriage is not the be all and end all for a woman. Break free from old thinking that a woman cannot remain single forever. Or that she needs someone to support her. Whether we choose to date anyone or live in with someone or decide to remain single or even remarry, it is completely our choice. If we have male friends, do not jump to conclusions or malign our character. Our relationships are our choice and we do not seek outside advice.
Spare our kids: Kids from a divorced family go through too much stress. Do not label them or make their parents’ divorce their identity. They don’t need to hear any insensitive chatter or blather from others. Nor do they need to hear any bad-mouthing of either of their parents. It is not their fault, they have absolutely no control over the situation. So please do not ask them anything that is difficult or embarrassing to answer.
We have our own identity: Our identity does not stem from being someone’s wife or daughter-in-law only. We are complete in our own ways. Just ‘cos we are single also does not make us easy prey for men to flirt with. We are okay to go out alone be it the movies or dining or shopping. We do not always need a shoulder to lean on. Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely.
What we really need is for people to be sensitive. To understand and to give us our space and privacy. We need time to rediscover ourselves, renew our confidence and our self-esteem. What the society can do is to let us be and not decide for us. What we truly want is to heal from the trauma and build our lives back together.
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t.” ~Rhonda Hansome
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the private screening of actress Tisca Chopra’s first short film as a producer and writer, ‘Chutney’, at the Lightbox preview theatre in Mumbai. Invite courtesy – Ritu Gorai, award winning entrepreneur and dynamic founder of JAMMs – short for ‘Journey About Mast Moms’ (Read more about JAMMs* below).
Now I admit that I am a novice in appreciating the genre of short films, which I understand is relatively new in India. So watching ‘Chutney’ that started and concluded in less than 20 minutes was a first for me. When the film began, it left me stunned. The actress whom we had just met outside appeared on screen in a completely new look, almost unrecognisable. And when the movie ended, it left me speechless! Just like her wonderful metamorphosis from actress to writer and producer off-screen, Tisca’s screen character had beautifully transformed towards the end of the spicy film!
That a lot can be conveyed in a short duration, is what I realised after watching my first short film. And when a story leaves you thirsty with questions, wanting more, it lingers on your mind. The more I thought of it over the next few days, the more intrigued I felt with the many layers portrayed by the protagonist. The story as well as the characters could have several interpretations. I guess the reason I kept analysing the role Tisca played was ‘cos she could well be a woman or women we may know of in our daily lives. Perhaps women we have met, having various shades, portraying an avatar for different occasions. One or more than one woman with several undertones.
A homemaker. She does what she enjoys doing best – running her domestic abode with utmost dedication. She may appear naïve but don’t you underestimate what she can pull out. For she is a powerhouse of talent and knowledge. She has figured an effective way to balance her home and work life. A simple lady – whose benign outward appearance can be deceptive, for she hides the dark secrets of her family. And is shrewd enough to use them as a weapon in order to shield her marriage from a neighbouring threat.
A loyal wife – yeah sure she knows when her adulterous husband is cheating on her. Yet she chooses to be tolerant and maintain a dignified façade. She is fully aware of her powers and knows exactly when and how to unleash them. She may choose to remain a shadow of her husband in the eyes of the society, but she has a light shining within. Inside the closed domestic doors, it is she who is in full command. A strong woman is the one who pushes ahead in times of crisis and rises to the occasion, while the man of the house sheepishly follows orders. She is a go-to person when her folks need the right advice or action the most. She exemplifies that still waters truly run deep.
Haven’t we all seen or met such women that we admire in our lives ?
A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.– Nancy Rathburn
A woman knows how to adapt beautifully when life demands it from her. She can face a situation at hand with poise and stoic tolerance. Dig deep and you will discover a pool of resources within. Very often it is presumed that power lies in arrogance and in being loud and demanding. Ask a woman of substance and she will tell you that true power is in maintaining a demeanour of grace and dignity – especially when the odds are against her!
Here’s to more women power!
Watch this spicy ‘Chutney’ here if you haven’t already:
*JAMMs (Journey About Mast Moms), initiated by Ritu (Chief Connecting Officer) is a multi-award winning Mumbai based Moms support group for networking that started in April 2014 and has been steadily expanding and evolving since then. Over 16000 moms from various areas connect and communicate online regularly, plus meet offline every month during complimentary workshops, interesting seminars and diverse events.
The groups have been categorised on WhatsApp based on specific aspects like age group of children, area-wise for local networking, single moms, moms with special kids, grand-moms, common interests like books club, pets, artists, etc. It regularly conducts funding drives and events to support the underprivileged.
JAMMs is a social initiative of the moms, by the moms and for the moms!
“I’ve often wondered why bad things happen to good people – the answer is simple. Because it keeps them good.” – Adrian DeRoy
My first encounter with grief and trauma was almost two decades ago when a very dear friend passed away in a brutal accident. They were four of them in the car on that fateful night, two survived and two met with instant death. Why him? Why take him away? Why do this to his parents? That was the first time I had asked a very loud and excruciatingly painful WHY???!
WHY do bad things happen to good people? I kept asking this question, reiterating in every real instance concerning people whom I know –
– WHY does a tree fall on a teenager so badly that she has to get her leg amputated?
– WHY does the metal wire accidentally flings into the eye of only one man in a room of ten?
– WHY does a selflessly loving family get cheated of their rightful legacy of wealth?
– WHY does a poor maid’s only son becomes a drug addict and leaves her?
– WHY do life-threatening diseases attack the kind-hearted folks?
In our moments of deep pain and mourning, it is only human to question our faith. To question God. To question the very existence of God. If there really was God, why would He want suffering for us? Is He not supposed to love us, bless us, keep us safe? Why are we truly here and what is our life’s ultimate purpose?
The questions took a personal dimension, as I lay on the threshold of my marital separation. ‘Why would this happen to us? I haven’t hurt anyone or done anything wrong. I have been a good wife and a sincere daughter-in-law (or so I thought). This is so unfair!’ I found myself being unusually skeptical. Amidst my suffering and tribulations, there were innumerable times when I doubted my faith. The very core of my values was shaken and under threat. Life was posing more and more questions.
As I kept seeking, the answers came revealing in several different ways – through books, people, meditations, spiritual channels, quiet times, synchronicity, etc. It has been a gradual process of understanding and internalising. Purely out of my life experiences and my views only, this is what I believe I have learnt.
When bad things happen to good people:
The universe is interested in our personal and spiritual growth
The Law of Karma is showing up
Its time to learn the lessons we are meant to learn
A situation needs no labelling of good or bad, positive or negative
Life is not meant to be fair and doesn’t always give what we want
How we face things and live – that’s what matters
Our hardest challenges reveal our true spirit
Tough times don’t last forever, tough people do (clichéd but relevant)
Everything in our life happens for a reason, though we may not see it or believe it in that moment
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself. ” -Walter Anderson.
Looking at tough times from a different perspective:
It is in our darkest hours that we are inspired to seek the divine light. Hang in there and try to accept your life situation like a bystander, the pain will be significantly lesser. It is okay to be an atheist, but do know that God does exist. There is a strength that comes from within in God’s presence. And He is watching over us, constantly guiding us on the path we are meant to follow. Keep the faith and take one day at a time. There is a larger plan at work and the universe will fit all the puzzle pieces into one big picture. Believe!