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Teenagers require space to grow into healthy adults

Teenagers require space to grow into healthy adults

“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”
~Frank A. Clark

Recently, my teenage daughter went on a study trip from school with a huge bunch of students and a few accompanying teachers. The excitement of spending four days and nights with their best buddies was pulsating from the minute they all had gathered at the airport. It was gratifying to see their delight as I bid her goodbye, albeit with a sigh of sadness that she is not going to be home for the next few days.

Amongst the rules of this trip was one where no cell phones were allowed. Such a relief it was to know that they will be able to focus completely on their studies, serving the real purpose of the tour.It would be assuring for parents as kids will have no screen distractions and not be bothered by innumerable calls and messages. Well, that’s what I thought. But what ensued instead was an incessant flow of queries and comments on our messaging group. Messages that reflected a constant sense of worry and anxiety about their girls… ‘Flight delayed, poor kids will be uncomfortable; have they eaten anything; they will miss out on sight-seeing; is it too cold;hotel lines are forever busy; cell phones should have been allowed; they are eating dinner so late; they have to wake up so early…’

Now I am not being critical or judgemental here – after all, we are together on this journey of motherhood.

But I wondered…I’m not so worried, does it make me a carefree mom? I’m not even guilty of the space she and me both will enjoy from each other. Does that make me a heartless mom? Does parenting mean attachment? Does maternal love entails being possessive about the children? Do we always need to be in control of our kids? I have two teenagers whom I have practically raised on my own and surely learnt many lessons along the way. Pertaining to this context, here are a few points I feel compelled to highlight from my own experience:

  1. We need to keep our cool– Teenage is a tough period to tread through for mothers as well as for children. It’s that phase of high surge in hormones in their bodies and changes in their brains. There are bound to be outbursts of uncontrollable feelings as they learn to cope with all the changes in their lives. It becomes imperative for mothers to keep their cool especially during stormy moments. We have to remind ourselves that we are the parent and it is crucial to display that maturity. Being calm and controlled, and not reactive, is the key.
  1. Teenagers require their own space– It is hard for us moms to stay away from our children completely. Especially being a single mom, it is very hard for me to keep a distance or stay disconnected. We want to be around and do everything to raise them well. But it is essential for us to recognise that teenagers do require their own space – physical, emotional and mental, to become self-directed adults. They need their space to exercise their choices. They need the space to make their own decisions and face the subsequent consequences. They require the distance from us to grow. That is how they will learn to survive and thrive. We owe them that space and respect it too.
  1. Balance between monitoring & privacy – Teenagers are discovering themselves and constantly learning to deal with the adult world. Their brains are still growing, surely we ought to guide them as they learn to sail through life. On the other side, they are also growing to be adults who need their privacy. It is crucial to define the boundaries on secrecy based on mutual trust and respect. They need us to trust them and respect them for who they are. Maintain a balance between when we need to supervise and when to let them be.
  1. Our anxiety rubs on to them- It is natural for moms to be concerned and worried about everything related to our children. They will always be a part of us outside of our bodies. However, the key to healthy parenting is to keep our anxieties at bay as it rubs on to our kids. The way we react to situations and to our kids sets a conditioning pattern in their minds. They begin to operate at the same level of anxiety as we model for them. Instead, let us display coping mechanisms to deal with our anxieties and together learn ways to manage stress.
  1. We need nurturing too- It is commonly said that we moms need to put on our oxygen masks first before we put them on for our kids. It is so important to fill ourselves first in order to give to our families. Our teenagers will soon fly out of the nest we have so beautifully built. What are we going to do then? Where are we going to focus our precious time and energy? We need not orbit our entire lives around the kids. Instead, lets find time to do things we enjoy, ways to evolve and have our own independent identities. For our own sake as well as for our kids’ sake.

Image Courtesy: Pexels

 

9 life lessons I could relate to lessons from running

9 life lessons I could relate to lessons from running

“Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or other new beginnings.” ~ Amby Burfoot

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon recently saw its 14th edition completing in all its glory. The streets of Mumbai came alive in the early hours with hoards of cheerleaders, music bands, people lining up to cheer their folks, runners across different categories reaching the finishing line in exhilaration – it’s an extremely buzzing atmosphere every year.

Now, I have always been a sport enthusiast and a fitness freak but never so fond of running. However, last year I decided to attempt running purely for fitness reasons and also to satiate my fetish for attempting the new. And it turned out to be quite an experience to be part of a marathon training group and subsequently run three 10k marathons. What I landed up learning while running is I realised what we all learn from life everyday. A few take-aways I would like to share here:

  1. Action – We all think of doing so much in life, but very few take the necessary steps to initiate an action plan. Dreams will only remain in our wish-list until we act upon them. Action counts.
  1. Motivation – Self-motivation is the key to achieve our goals. Life’s path, just like the running path, is uneven with several twists and ups and downs. What we constantly tell ourselves, the inner dialogue we have and how we push ourselves is what really matters at every step.
  1. Team Strength – When we work together in a group of like-minded people with common interests, the strength that we derive from each other is unparalleled. Being a part of an extremely enthusiastic training group (read related links below) has been highly inspiring and encouraging. A big reason I could push myself out of the bed in the early hours and put on the running shoes. 
  1. Setting goals – When I began training, I could barely complete 1km. of constant running. Then I started setting small goals – running up to that electric pole without stopping, running on a trot until 5 songs on my playlist got done, running for 20 minutes non-stop, etc. and thereby gradually increasing the targets. Within a few weeks of training, I could manage to run my first 10k marathon! Setting short-term goals is the key to long-term success. Small steps lead to bigger steps; small achievements lead to bigger achievements.
  1. Mind over body – In running as in life, it is the mind that rules over the body. Runners often suffer from cramps mid-way through the marathon, get dehydrated or have to face extreme climatic conditions. It is their unflinching will-power that keeps them going towards the finish line. So in life, we got to endure with our inner strength to move ahead and hurdle all tribulations until we reach our destination.

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t

  1. Slowing down – During the course of my training, I experienced discomforting pain in my knee for the first time. I had to let it heal and was forced to take a break. In life too, sometimes situations leave us with no choice but to take a pause. It is then essential to rejuvenate and restart.
  1. Enjoying the journey – As kids we were taught that participating in activities is more important than winning. And as adults we also realise that it’s enjoying the journey that counts as much as reaching the destination. Being out in the open close to nature in the wee hours of the morning, with uplifting music for company and great team spirit around, made the experience a lot more fun. Not to mention the exuberance of finishing a marathon. In which ways are you making your life’s journey enjoyable?
  1. Getting out of our comfort zone – Every instance in life when I decided to venture into something seemingly difficult, I have grown immensely as an individual. My self-confidence took a huge leap. It is extremely vital to stretch ourselves every once in a while, challenging our resilience and expanding it. Growth truly lies in stepping out of our comfort zones.
  1. You are on your own – You start, you run the marathon and you finish on your own. Even though everyone is running together towards the same finish line, you are alone in your race. People will advise and encourage and be around, but you got to run to the finish line on your own. You and your thoughts. You and your self-talk. You and your journey. Isn’t it just the same in life?

Related links:

http://www.striders.in/training-programs/striders-training-program/

http://www.jollygymkhana.in/activites-marathon.html

Featured image courtesy: Pixabay

 

To everything new that enriches our lives

To everything new that enriches our lives

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“I can hardly wait for tomorrow, it means a new life for me each and every day. ~Stanley Kunitz

Five years ago in the cold winter of December, I had joined an all women trekking trip (courtesy Women On Clouds – http://www.womenonclouds.com/) in Uttarakhand. A group of complete strangers, we had climbed together the Chandrashila summit at 13000 feet and seen one of the most spectacular sunsets ever (as seen in this image). This trip holds a special place in my heart, as it gifted me one new experience after the other, touching my heart in the most beautiful ways. At the end of that trip, I was a different person! It was then that I had made up my mind to do something new every year – build a life with enriched experiences and bring more meaning to my existence with deeper connections.

In the last few hours that remain of 2016 in my continent, I choose to look back and recall everything new that enhanced my life this year. I summarise:

NEW EXPERIENCES:

  1. Scuba diving –A desire to go scuba diving was long nursed, especially after watching Hrithik Roshan in ‘Zindagi milegi na dobaara’. It was simply fabulous to dive in the deep clear waters of Thailand, giving me a new high after I surfaced above the marine world. What a psychedelic existence there is down under! One beautiful adventure off my bucket list.
  1. My Blog – Maybe sometimes you have to live your story before being able to write your story. I’m glad I began ‘SoulMom’. Writing here is proving to be cathartic for me.
  1. 10 km. marathons – Though I have always been a fitness freak, running is something that never appealed to me. It seemed arduous and looked like an effort. Perhaps why I decided to venture, from a yearning to step out of my comfort zone. Ever since, it has turned out to be such a liberating experience. There I was struggling to run one km. at one go, and here I am having completed three 10k marathons this year. It truly feels like a huge feat – I have come a long way, literally.
  1. Santoor recital by Rahul Sharma – Music lifts our soul, but listening to Rahul Sharma playing the santoor goes a step further for me – my senses resonate to his tunes in some sort of spiritual harmony. Watching him perform live was such an ethereal experience. Another strong wish ticked off this year.
  1. Flying in the Airbus A380 – As kids, it was such a joy sitting in the red double-decker buses in Mumbai, quickly running up to the upper deck and grabbing the first seats in the front. I was curious to know what it feels like to fly in a double-decker airplane. Well, I did happen to fly in an Airbus A380 this year and marvelled at the engineering. But it did not come close to the gratification of the upper deck front seats of the bus.

NEW CONNECTIONS:

This year has been abuzz with Indian companies riding on the start-up wave and creating some of their own. What is even more heartening is to see the number of start-ups that have been founded by women. I happened to attend a few exciting events in 2016 and meet some of the most dynamic women in their workforces. Women who are making a difference in other women’s lives, who are passionate to turn their dreams into realities and who are hurdling umpteen challenges in their way. While I had the pleasure of interacting with several self-driven women who are making a mark in their own unique ways, I would like to make a special mention of a few who left a mark on me. I sincerely admire them for their indomitable spirit as well as humility. I feel quite challenged to describe them in only a few words, so I choose to just mention their names and links here:

Sairee Chahal, Founder-CEO, Sheroes: https://sheroes.in/about/

Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Founder and Editor, Women’s Web: http://www.womensweb.in/about-us/

Shaili Chopra, Founder, SheThePeopleTv: http://shethepeople.tv/shaili-chopra/

I feel lot of gratitude for all the ‘new’ in my life. What an inspiring 2016 it has been in an otherwise insipid year for me. I look forward to converting these inspirations into something more productive for me both professionally as well as personally.

The sun has set on 2016. Ring in the new 2017!

What divorced women would like to tell the society

What divorced women would like to tell the society

society

“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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

               You alone cannot save your marriage

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

              How children see their family

  1. 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.

 Image courtesy: Pexels

A strong woman is more than what meets the eye

A strong woman is more than what meets the eye

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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!

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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!

JAMMs social media links:

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kUYKND

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jammsnetwork

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jammsnetwork/

Website: http://jammsnetwork.wixsite.com/jamms1/

I am lucky to be a Jammie. Happy Journey with JAMMs!

 

Seeking help for mental health therapy is not a stigma

Seeking help for mental health therapy is not a stigma

Counseling

“Pain can be a catalyst to look inside; to dig deep and heal wounds from the past, to create more vibrantly, love more whole-heartedly, and to be an integrity with your highest self.” – Kelley Kosow

“Dear ‘Dear Zindagi’ – Thank you for showing us so beautifully that therapy helps!”

In the wake of this heartwarming movie, I find it a great time to write about the benefits of seeing a professional counsellor for all our mental health related problems.

Science has progressed multifold over the years with advancement in medicines and treatments, thereby increasing our average life span. While physical health has been given due emphasis, mental health awareness is gradually evolving in India.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan who plays psychologist Dr. Jehangir Khan in the movie, states it just the way it is –going for therapy and counselling is still a taboo, a subject of shame in our society! People are afraid to speak openly about their problems here. Visiting a shrink is considered a western concept. Ours is a very society-driven mindset. ‘Log kya kahenge?’ is always playing at the back of our minds.

Dear ZindagiMental health related issues are usually brushed under the carpet. ‘Are you mad to see a psychologist?’ is what holds back many people. The film’s protagonist Alia Bhatt is initially reluctant to reveal her story to the psychologist, pretending to have come to resolve her friend’s issues. It is only when she acknowledges the presence of her problems as being hers, that she fully opens up to therapy.

Any form of healing begins with asking for help. When we need not suffer in physical pain, why should we suffer in mental agony?

Seeking a therapist during my challenging times has always led to positive outcomes. I needed to get over the initial inhibition of speaking my heart out to a complete stranger. The first step was to accept that I’m dealing with situations far beyond me. That I’m unable to comprehend and find solutions on my own. I had to decide that seeing a professional would mean giving myself an opportunity to move ahead in the healthy direction. I care about me a lot to take the effort to steer my life positively.

Very often, we stuff feelings inside of us until they choke up and we require an outburst. Until expressed, they tend to even harm our bodies. Having a release during therapy sessions was extremely beneficial to me. In the light of my own experience of counselling sessions, I list below the benefits of seeing a therapist.

Advantages of therapy:

  • A good therapist listens without judging you
  • It is safe to reveal our stories in complete confidentiality
  • Therapy helps us look under the surface, deeper into our feelings, emotions and inner demons
  • It initiates the process of soul-searching, which is vital to our growth
  • The therapist can recognise our characteristics which we tend to oversee
  • Therapy helps to resolve our problems before they pile up into bigger issues
  • We get an objective perspective to our situation
  • Therapist provides a platform to say it like it is, without any fear of hurting anyone
  • It is reassuring to know that we are not the only ones that need help
  • Therapy helps us weed through our pain enabling us to process our emotions
  • It empowers us to cope with difficult challenges ahead

Seeking professional therapy for our mental health is not a sign of weakness, instead it is that of strength. Strength to have acknowledged that there is a problem that needs attention. Strength to face it and resolve it.

The initiative of healing is with us; the therapist only facilitates our healing. We no longer need to remain in denial. We need not be embarrassed to see a therapist. There are psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, mental health institutes – a dime a dozen. We need to reach out to that one good therapist who we can bare our soul to.

If you think you need one, just go find one!

 

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