Woman- Thy name is Resilience

When cityfied people go touristy, we gape with our mouths wide open or blubber like goldfish when we see people go about their lives calmly in conditions that we think are DIFFICULT to endure.

Fifteen of us were on a trip to Bhutan where we huffed and puffed our way up the hill to visit the Tiger’s Nest monastery. We were carrying nothing heavy with us (I had a backpack with my camera gear), yet most found the going arduous. And the locals just breezed through.

These two beautiful mothers were walking effortlessly up with their bambinos tied on their backs with the help of makeshift slings. Smiling, they acceded to my request to a photograph with the Paro Taktsang in the background.

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Very few of the islands in Sundarbans are habitable. We were constantly looking over our shoulders while walking and all around while on the boat ride into the mangroves.

This old lady was weaving a basket and was thrilled when I asked her if I could take a picture. She rewarded me with a one toothed smile.

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While we were warily looking out for tigers and crocs in the waters of Sundarbans, this lady was bravely fishing all alone. Then, what other option did she have? As they say in Hindi, ‘paapi pet ka sawaal hai’!

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#cityfied #city #urban #women #womanpower #superwoman #superwomen #photography #traveldiaries #traveldiary #sundarbans #fishing #bhutan #tigersnest #parotaktsang #mothersand babies #trekking #hardships #livelihood #newontheblog

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Quality and time

There was an interesting piece in the Business Standard today called The Cancer Column. The heading caught my eye.

The author has beautifully penned her thoughts about her friend Annie who was diagnosed with a malignant inoperable lung tumour which had metastasized to her lymph nodes also. Annie chose not to undergo chemotherapy because of her own reasons. She was allergic to invasive allopathic medicines and she also felt it wrested choice and control from the patient. She chose to opt for naturopathy that would improve her quality of life. Either way there was no cure for her deadly disease. Chemotherapy would have bought her just a little more time, but not much. She was absolutely justified in choosing to say ‘No Chemo’. I am in no way undermining her decision and courage. I salute her.

Chemotherapy by itself is more dreadful than the disease. It ravages your entire system during and after the treatment. It is not a great option for people who do not have much to gain from such treatments either due to the advance stage of the disease or their age.

I lost an aunt to breast cancer because she did not believe in allopathic medicines and preferred to go in for naturopathy and yoga treatments. This was not a great move on her part because the cancer was at an early stage and could have been cured through chemotherapy and surgery. She was afraid of the pain from the therapy, the loss of hair (albeit temporary).

I also know of people who chose to go in for allopathic treatments and find cure. The chemo sessions are just temporary. At the end of it all, there is a bright light beckoning you.

I underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer at the age of 45. It was torturous, I admit. But then I still say it was worth it. Here I am writing this 8 years hence. Chemotherapy ensured I have life aka time. I chose quality of life too.

A few days ago, my mother started bleeding at the age of 80 and a biopsy was performed to rule out malignancy. Luckily, it turned out to be benign. If by any chance, it had turned out to be cancerous, we had decided to just get a surgery done to remove the uterus, but avoid chemotherapy. Reason??? Her age and her physical health… She would not have had the strength to fight the side effects of the medicines and it would in no way have improved her quality of life. We chose the option of ‘no angioplasty’ in February this year due to the same reason.

If chemotherapy is the only option, choose it. Embrace it with a bold smiling front. Take a call after weighing all pros and cons. What is also important is to bring in life style changes. Eat well. Exercise well.

It takes massive courage and clarity to choose quality and time.

#cancer #chemotherapy #treatment #naturopathy #allopathy #quality #businessstandard #interalia #thecancercolumn #mitalisaran #courage #life #time

World within a soap bubble

Little did I know when I chased after soap bubbles in a park that each bubble carried a fairy tale within it. 

I remember blowing soap bubbles and chasing after them in my childhood and more so with my daughter when she was a kid. The laughter and joy that she radiated cannot be expressed in words. Priceless memories…

The image that I had playfully captured left me mesmerized and spellbound.

#photography #bubbles #colours #soap #fun #childhood

When the going gets tough….

February 4 is World Cancer Day. Do I want to celebrate on this day? Yes, I do. I celebrate because I fought, survived and am now giving a shout out to all you guys reading this. Today I also celebrate the anniversary of my first blog post.

I was diagnosed in February 2009 with cancer of the breast at the age of 45. I had no symptoms to indicate that I had cancer, just a chance discovery of a lump. What worked in my favour was the early detection and prompt action. I was under the surgeon’s knife within a week of detection for a lumpectomy and followed it up with chemotherapy and radiation.

I always visualised the light at the end of the tunnel when the going got tough during the nine months of my treatment.

People may say life is unfair, but I beg to disagree. Life gives you all indications. If you don’t pay heed, what right do you have to call life unfair?

I have a few friends, educated ones at that who have never gone for a medical checkup for fear of the unknown. If the unknown becomes known, you become empowered to take corrective and remedial actions. You know what you are up against, and if your results are all normal, go out and celebrate.

I never miss my dates with my doctors. After the cancer episode, I am doubly alert to any significant changes in my body. I started working out last year to keep myself physically fit. I eat well and stay aware.

I was unfortunate to have been diagnosed with cancer, but I would also say I was fortunate to have found it early. I was fortunate to have been blessed with a wonderful family and circle of friends who supported me and smiled with me through those 9 months. I was fortunate to have been able to afford the best of treatments. I consider myself blessed.

I dedicate this post to an aunt of mine who underwent a mastectomy yesterday. She delayed going to the doctor for almost 8 months out of fear. She is responding well to the course of treatment and we keep motivating her regularly to keep her in positive and good spirits.

I also would like to salute a friend of mine who underwent a lumpectomy and completed a course of chemotherapy last week. She is due to start her radiation therapy next week.She is a warrior too.

If you are fighting this battle or anybody known to you is fighting, remember to remain cheerful and positive. Do not sympathise, instead empathise and support. Show them some love.

My request to all you guys and gals out there, keep checking for small changes in your body. React quickly, that is the key. Stay positive.

On a lighter note, I recollect a joke a friend shared on WhatsApp. ‘If you don’t have a Valentine on Valentine’s day, it is alright. Not all have aids on World Aids Day.’ So is celebrating World Cancer Day.

Join me in creating an awareness about this disease. Take care of you and yours.

 

#cancer #medicine #life #treatment #family #friends #WorldCancerDay

Test

Overwhelming

Speak Out

Darkness

Age-Old Questions

No Fair

Perfectly Imperfect

What is perfection? Perfection means different things to different people and has too many synonyms but I think it is nothing but a perception. What is perfection to me may not seem so to you!

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The WOW prompt talks about painting the picture of the Perfect Woman. Who is she? Where do I look for her? Does she exist? Do I know her? Too many questions to ponder…

Then I saw her! In the mirror smiling at me… Yes, I am the Perfect Woman. I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend and most importantly a Woman. I am reminded of what I read some time back… “Imperfections define perfection.”

My hair is turning grey, but I now have got a head of hair even after losing them during my chemotherapy. I know I will develop crow’s feet around my eyes over time, but my eyes reflect my smile. When I smile, I know my teeth are crooked but it is the smile of a contented woman and more importantly I can chew my food. My ears are a little big, but I hear very well with them and of course wear beautiful earrings. My right breast is smaller than my left, thanks to a lumpectomy for cancer, but I am alive. My nails are not always neatly trimmed and painted, but they are the hands of a woman who takes care of her home. I do not have an hour-glass figure but then I have lived a happy life. Physically imperfect!!!

Does all this define me as a woman, perfect or imperfect? No, it is what I am from within that makes me perfect or otherwise.

I am a woman, a wife, a mother. My house is not always squeaky clean or look like a museum. It reflects the life and love within. I do not have a perfect figure. I have love handles and stretch marks. They show I am a mother and have enjoyed my life. I make mistakes. I laugh, cry, and scream with anger and frustration. I have emotions and am not scared to show them. I feel pain but know how to tackle it. I am not always successful. I fall but I get up every time and continue. I am not perfect.

I have the confidence to fight for myself and those I love. I am mature enough to distinguish between the right and the wrong. I can be decisive and stand my ground. I am poised, competent, self-confident and committed. I have self-esteem. I love life and believe in living it to the fullest.

At the end of the day, it is important to

  • Be happy, be yourself. Remember there is a lot more to the day.
  • Be daring.
  • Be impractical.
  • Be different.
  • Be smart.
  • Have opinions. Value them.
  • Make a difference.
  • Have feelings and respect them.
  • Be proud.
  • Remember you are beautiful inside out.

I know I am a woman of substance. I am perfectly imperfect and I am happy with that.

I am the Perfect Woman.

 

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Value

I am grateful …….

 

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I recall reading a quote by Eckhart Tolle that acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. More often than not, we tend to take things for granted and just let them pass. Gratitude is the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. When you are grateful for small things in life, you realise that your attitude and outlook change and opportunities open up in great numbers.

All through childhood the importance of polite behaviour and the magic words please, thank you and you are welcome has been reinforced so much that uttering these words is now automatic. As a result, they are used in society as part of polite behaviour and often uttered without much thought.

Gratitude, on the other hand is more carefully used and well thought out. When I say that I am grateful for something, it means that I am affected by that and hence it carries more meaning. That does not mean that being thankful is not an honest emotion.

How would you cultivate gratitude?

  • Notice the little things around you that you took for granted all these days from a point of gratitude. They will not seem little anymore.
  • Pay a compliment to someone every day.
  • Share your appreciation for something that you see. Make it a habit.
  • Convert a negative view that perceive into something positive. Every coin has two sides.
  • When faced with some problem or adversity, take it as a learning experience.
  • Stop complaining for every little thing. Try it for a week and see how good it feels.
  • Maintain a journal to note down things you are grateful for. Write down 5 things every day.
  • Pick up your phone and call someone important to you out of the blue. You will be surprised to hear the happiness in their voice.

 

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On this World Gratitude Day, let me list a few things I am grateful for.

  • The little things that my husband does for me, keeping in mind my comfort and happiness.
  • The messages from my daughter checking up on how we are doing or just to say I love you.
  • How my friends go out of their way to help one another through actions, prayers or thoughts.
  • How my 79-year-old mother surprises us with some shopping just because she thinks the saree that she saw in the store on display would look good on me or my daughter.
  • Being able to sleep peacefully and wake up healthy every day.
  • The ability to eat well.
  • The strong circle of friends and family.
  • The beautiful flowers and greenery around me and the eyesight to admire them.
  • The smiles I get from people around me, friends and strangers.
  • The strength to beat breast cancer and recover my health.
  • Every breath I take.

I started on a gratitude journal some time back. Some of the entries are repeated even on a daily basis. If I am grateful for my coffee in the morning everyday, there is nothing wrong in it. It is after all a new day!

So what are you grateful for?

 

 

#WorldGratitudeDay #everydaygratitude

 

Finding calm in the midst of chaos

“At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.”  – Christine Mason Miller

A few months ago I realised that I was getting too attached to my smartphone, waiting for the notification sounds of incoming WhatsApp messages, email, Facebook posts, Tweets in addition to the phone calls. I would waste no time picking up the phone the moment it beeped. That was when I decided that I could not let the phone dictate my life.

I decided to regulate my phone usage. I started off with a self-imposed restriction of not picking up my phone to answer any messages after 10 pm. I communicated to my contacts that I would not mind answering a phone call if it was really essential, but messages could wait till morning. My morning usage was restricted to half an hour while I enjoyed my mug of coffee. Over a period of time, I became the mistress of my phone. I now take a two-day detox every month from WhatsApp messages during which I read only personal messages and respond if required but completely ignore/ don’t read group messages.

Life can be a hectic mess. There is always an ongoing to-do list, in addition to all the goals and dreams that each of us also have. Most of the times we are so highly strung and at the point of breakdown.

There is no quick fix for this situation. It is possible to remain calm in the midst of all this buzzing. Silence is not just the lack of sound. It is also the inner quiet and stillness that we develop in us. What can be done to bring in the calm and the quiet?

  • Keep a fixed work routine. Leave your workplace for home on time. When you don’t carry your housework to office, why would you carry office work home?
  • Disconnect from technology. Keep the usage to a minimum. Impose the restrictions on yourself. Nobody else can do it. Technology can at no point become your master.
  • Spend time with your family and friends. Make memories. When you think your life has become predictable, remember anything could change in a heartbeat. The only constant in life is change; however much you try to control the future, sometimes all you can do is adapt and make the best of it.
  • Rediscover and learn to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Stop and smell the roses on the way. Learn to dance in the rain.
  • Go on small outings with your family and friends. Visit new places. Embark on adventures.
  • Cultivate a hobby. Sing, dance, pick up the knitting needles and knit a scarf, work on some embroidery, learn something new.
  • Read books. It is not necessary to read motivational or inspirational books. Pick up anything that you want to.
  • Exercise, meditate and stay healthy. A healthy mind can only exist in a healthy body. Stay fit.
  • Find some ‘me time’. Sit and do some introspection. Enjoy your solitude. Love yourself.
  • Spread some cheer and positivity.
  • Express your love and gratitude to your family and friends.
  • Be happy. The power to be happy is in you. Choose it.
  • Most importantly, learn to say NO when it so warrants.

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I have now learnt to enjoy the silence in the midst of the chaos around me. I am happier.

 

Silence