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Domestic violence is not just physical violence: #ALetterToHer

Domestic violence is not just physical violence: #ALetterToHer

“Your story could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison. Don’t be afraid to share it.” ~unknown

Just happened to read this quote as I begin to write this post for the Womens Web Blogathon on domestic violence: What letter would you write to a woman subjected to domestic violence? My letter to ‘her’…

Dear Me

Here you are, writing about the subject that you have discreetly kept under wraps. Something that had occurred in your life and yet you had no clue about it. How could you have known? Coming from an aristocratic family background where values and ethics were strongly entrenched right from your early days. You belong to a family known for its religious and cultural heritage. You had such a protected and shielded upbringing. Yes, you had heard about atrocities and injustice meted out to others. In books you had read and movies you had watched and stories you had heard. Aware yes, but seen anything personally in close proximity, no. How blissful were you in your state of ignorance and innocence. Where marriages around you were examples of loyalty and longing in relationships. How beautiful did it all seem, the love and the romance between couples. Then why would you even think of the term ‘domestic violence’ in your life?

Little did you know then that just by thinking ‘this could never happen to me’, does not mean it cannot really happen to you!

For domestic violence did take place. Of course, you were caught completely unaware. There was no physical violence, sure. But you were subjected to emotional torture. There was verbal assault. You were deprived of your financial rights. There was unjust criticism thrown at you for no reason. You felt a sense of alienation creeping in your own home. You didn’t know why all this madness was happening. So caught up were you in your thoughts to save your marriage and shield your kids from it all, that you were ready to bend over more than you could. Or should. Engulfed in self-doubt, you questioned your own actions. Only to realise that there was no way you could save your marriage if your spouse is hell bent on breaking it.

It was much later when you found out that domestic violence does not mean only physical violence, as is the common notion. It includes emotional and financial abuse too. You were shocked to know that you were a victim of domestic violence. We Indian girls are taught about our responsibilities but not so much about our rights. By then, you were out of that house and in a safer environment. But the trauma remained with you. You had two choices in front of you then. One – to file a legal case of domestic violence against the people who had done you wrong. Two – not to file against the folks you called your own for more than a decade.

It was no easy decision to make, a battle of the mind v/s the heart. You had to think of the repercussions of both choices and face the consequence on your own. Much though it seemed against the raging emotions of the logical mind, you went by your heart and chose the latter. Your decision stemming from a space of love for your kids than hatred for the rest. You were not willing to have your little ones linked in any legal rigmarole. By then you had decided you did not want to waste any more time over what had already happened. You chose to channelise your energy and emotion on enhancing your well-being and that of your children. It meant a choice of not pushing any action against the wrong doers and let karma do the rest.

You silently bore the brunt of it all and decided to move one. You took a huge leap of faith in making all the choices you did back then. With conviction in your heart and your spiritual fortitude, you only wanted to look ahead. You let go. Gradually, bit by bit, you let it all go. The hurt, the injustice, the anger, the pain. It seemed effortless to those around you, as you kept the bitter currents under your calm countenance. It was hard to believe you came out of your troubles unscathed. But you hid your tears and saved them for your solitude. You were all broken inside but managed to maintain a fortress of strength in front of your little children. For them, you had to quickly pick all your pieces and rebuild your life. You chose to follow the spiritual path of healing.

You survived the storm!

Ever since, see how far you have come after leaving it all behind you. Look how much you have grown in surmounting all obstacles. You came out so much stronger and resilient, nothing in life can break you anymore. You dived into your innards and pulled forth all the courage and wisdom to keep going. In doing so, you have earned the respect and admiration of many. You are one powerhouse of nerves. And you know that karma is doing its job after all.

Here you are, writing this wonderful blog to express all that you have learnt from your life story…so that those who face similar challenges find hope to survive….to inspire and to thrive. Life is still not easy and nor does it look all sorted. Yet you keep moving and facing it all in good faith.

Go girl, and give yourself a pat on your back!

Yours truly!

 

This blogpost is my contribution to the Womens Web Blogathon – an initiative to speak up about domestic violence and not keeping it hushed. I am intrigued to read Meena Kandasamy’s book ‘When I hit you‘ as anything related to women and women empowerment is a subject close to heart. The journey of victimhood to victory is always an interesting one.

W- ‘What I know for sure’ by Oprah #AtoZChallenge

W- ‘What I know for sure’ by Oprah #AtoZChallenge

“The biggest thrill you can ever achieve is to live the life of your dreams.” ~Oprah Winfrey

If I was ever granted a wish to meet one person in this world, just anyone in my wish list, it would be the woman I admire from my very core: Oprah Winfrey. To me, she is an epitome of ‘woman of substance’. A legend in her own right and an inspiring public figure. ‘What I know for sure’ is a beautiful book with excerpts from her monthly column of the same name in her magazine –O, The Oprah magazine.

I was once afraid of people saying, ‘Who does she think she is?’ Now I have the courage to stand and say, ‘This is who I am’.

Oprah has shared her wise gems from life’s experiences and lessons that have been revised, updated and packed with her insights in this beautiful book. To read her book and thereby getting a peep into her world of thoughts was an absolute delight! There’s just so much to learn, absorb, ponder and admire in her words, it is difficult to extract the best to put it out here. Nevertheless, here goes a glimpse of this enlightening book:

 

Key takeaways for me:

“Look inward – loving begins with you.”

“Sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of our climb that we lose sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.”

“Being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Women everywhere must declare it so.”

“Wealth is a tool that gives you choices – but it cant compensate for a life not fully lived and it certainly can’t create a sense of peace within you.”

“Find a way to get paid for doing what you love. Then every pay check will be a bonus.”

“Evolving as a human being is a lifelong excavation process – digging deep to uncover your underlying issues.”

“Making a bold move is the only way to advance toward the grandest vision the universe has for you.”

“We are all the artists of our own lives – and that we can use as many colours and brushstrokes as we like.”

Go get Oprah’s keepsake book right here: http://amzn.to/2p65i0K

 

This post is part of the #AtoZChallenge 2017 Blogging from A to Z: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

I write about my spiritual and personal growth influences from A to Z.
My previous posts in chronology:

  1. A New Earth 
  2. Brahma Kumaris
  3. Chicken Soup for the Soul
  4. Dialogue with Death 
  5. Eat Pray Love 
  6. Finding a purpose in life
  7. GANDHI
  8. Healing with Chakras
  9. I Believe in Angels
  10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  11. Kahlil Gibran 
  12. Lisa Nichols
  13. Meditation
  14. Neale Donald Walsch
  15. Oprah & Deepak Meditations
  16. Power of Positive Thinking
  17. Quotes, my favourite ones
  18. Rhonda Byrne ‘The Secret’ and ‘The Magic’
  19. SKY by Santosh Joshi
  20. Thich Nhat Hanh
  21. Understanding Pranayam
  22. Vishen Lakhiani’s Mindvalley

 

Images courtesy: http://bit.ly/2py99F6

E – ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert #AtoZChallenge

E – ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert #AtoZChallenge

“You cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

‘Liberating’ – this was one of the most profound emotions felt after I read the novel ‘Eat Pray Love’. The timing of the book coincided with my separation and with the reality of being on my own. Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s own story of self-discovery across three countries, this book was a revelation of sorts for me….

…That of several possibilities a newly divorced single woman can experience in her life:

  • She steps out of a situation that is toxic and does not serve any purpose
  • She is okay to not feel guilty while looking for pleasure (read food) in another country
  • She travels to India (like many foreigners do) in pursuit of devotion, in search of a Guru

If you yearn sincerely enough for a Guru, you will find one. The universe will shift, destiny’s molecules will get themselves organized and your path will soon intersect with the path of the master you need.

  • She can surrender to her new reality and make peace with it
  • It is possible for her to forgive her ex-husband and more importantly, forgive herself
  • She must learn to control her mind when everything else around her seems out of control
  • She finds herself and then finds love again

The movie based on this book had Julia Roberts playing Elizabeth. She was good as always, but movies hardly ever come close to the magic of reading the books!


Key Highlights:

‘Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.’

‘When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. Its safe. Let go.’

‘The hub of calmness- that’s your heart. That’s where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that centre and you will always find peace.”

This post is part of the #AtoZChallenge 2017 Blogging from AtoZ: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Have you read the previous ones?

A: A New Earth 

B: Brahma Kumaris

C: Chicken Soup for the Soul

D: Dialogue with Death 

 

Image courtesy: http://www.studio-t.it/en/

Why it is important for women to be financially savvy!

Why it is important for women to be financially savvy!

“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!

 

Being the Queen of our hearts!

Being the Queen of our hearts!

“She is the kind of queen that knows her crown isn’t on her head but in her soul.” ~Adrian Michael

Last week, I had been contemplating on a few subjects for my next blogspot (this one). I started working on something but then simply couldn’t take my mind off the recent episode of ‘Koffee with Karan’ on television. Not that I’m a big fan of Karan Johar or his show nor am I crazy about Bollywood. But his last episode featured actor Kangana Ranaut, who made a strong mark with her spunky, fiery attitude. The ‘Queen’ of Bollywood impressed with her no qualms boldness in what she had to say and the forthright manner in which she said it all. Now Kangana may have an unconventional demeanor and is perhaps not everyone’s favourite. But on this show, she was so brutally honest and opinionated, the other guest Saif Ali Khan was literally on the edge of his seat.

I felt there were subtle messages in there (seems like a penchant for me these days) beneath her classy overtones and couldn’t resist writing this post. Here is what got me pondering, with the questions I posed to myself as also to you-

Our drive – Kangana reminds Karan that he had ridiculed her English and her accent on the same show few years ago. But those comments became a drive for her, pushing her ahead.

We can use criticism, mocking and rejection thrown at us as a driving force towards success – to unleash our mettle, though not necessarily to prove a point to others.

Poser: What or who is the driving force in our life?

The value of our values – Kangana refuses to endorse fairness creams. She has never cheated on her partner. She does not do shows simply for the lure of money. Her values bear far more significance than doing something that doesn’t feel right.

We all need to set our moral boundaries at every stage in life. More importantly, stick to them and beat any sort of peer pressure. 

Poser: How much do we value our value system?

Gender equality When asked which of the Khans would she like to work with, she bluntly replied none. She wouldn’t’ be seen as an equal. This, when most of the Bollywood actresses today would do anything to bag a role opposite any of the Khan trio. Her exuding sophistication outshone even the suave Nawab on the same couch. She rightly pointed out that men think women have low IQ.

Why do we women have to share the limelight with men when we can be the limelight! We don’t need to shortchange ourselves, do we?

Poser: Are we living in someone else’s shadow?

True wealth – When asked whether she would rather be rich without love or poor but in love…she retorted saying her idea of poverty could be very different from his. Rightly said for his movies are always a superlative statement of luxury and brands. She added, artists have always chosen truth, beauty or values over money. If you have true love, you will have a rich life. Wow!

The concept of real wealth differs from people to people. What are we really here to gain? Fame? Success? Billions?

Poser: What are you seeking that would make you truly rich?

Honesty over diplomacy – Kangana admitted being jealous of others’ success. She was honest about not having friends in the industry. Her brazen opinions about Karan came forth uninhibited (‘flag-bearer of nepotism’ and ‘the snooty movie mafia’ being the highlights). She was candid about disliking certain habits of her co-stars and directors.

It is easy to indulge in backstabbing. But it requires conviction to blatantly speak the truth. And it takes courage to be unabashed on a global platform.

Poser: Are we righteous enough to say it like it is on the face?

Being genuine – Kangana said she didn’t want to fit in and tried to be as normal as she could in this superficial industry. And look how she stole the show with her candour, just by being herself.

Don’t we all want to lead a life that needs no mask or explanation, a life that resonates with our genuine core? Learning to build our own strong beliefs rather than conforming to those of others? Simply discovering who we are and be our authentic selves? What a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that would bring!

Poser: Is our outer world in alignment with our inner world?

 

She came, she conquered and she won hearts like a true ‘Queen’!

Poser: Will others be able to say this for us?

Watch this royally candid episode right here:

http://www.hotstar.com/tv/koffee-with-karan/1525/saif-kangana-let-it-all-out/1000167379

Feature image courtesy: Pexels

Kangana Ranaut image courtesy: Star World

True love begins by loving ourselves first

True love begins by loving ourselves first

“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!

Related links:

http://happyfoodhealthylife.com/50-ways-to-love-pamper-yourself-on-valentines-day-every-day/

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/increase-self-love-ways-good-to-yourself/

 

Image courtesy: Pexels

Comic strip courtesy: mimiandeunice.com

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