11th year of Blogathon

Done and dusted 🙂 Can’t believe the 11th year has come to a wrap! This year was not very challenging for me and I didn’t hit writer block, didn’t experience “what if I cannot post today” anxiety, didn’t bank on drafts and didn’t go crazy about fodders. This year went with a flow and it was a very different experience from previous years when I hit panic button every other day and plan ahead! I didn’t even think ahead about what to write. It’s usually like I will open the blog, think for few minutes and write about what comes to my mind!

I think, I wrote about all that I wanted to record in this blog about 2022 and very happy about it. I enjoyed the mutual connection with fellow bloggers and it has become a habit to check for new comments as first thing and last thing in a day 🙂 Talk about small joys 🙂

Thanks to below bloggers who made this a fun journey. I don’t think I would have continued to write if everyone dropped out! Sadly, we did have lot of drop outs this year and I sincerely hope/wish they all will come back next year. Its very hard to let go of this tradition 😞 😞

Tharani

More than words

freakyveggie

Prachee

Lavender

I will write about this Friday and the weekend happenings for my lovely readers. Of course, a birthday letter for LHB that’s coming up soon! Request you all to write once in a while too.

Tharani darling – Never say this is last blogathon. We will come back next year with a bang and all our friends will join in too. Nambikkai nam thumbikkai (rough translation – we live by hope)

Wishing you all a very very happy and healthy 2023. Much love 💕

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Perseverance-kutti story

Scene – NY subway station on New year’s eve we went to see ball drop

I always have a metro card in my purse, just that it never gets used so the metro card I had on that day was expired in 2021 but had some balance. The officer at ticker counter gave me an envelope and said I have to mail the expired card to main office and they will mail me back a new card with balance loaded in it.

M and Adi gave me this look of “just trash the card” and they gave me another big look when I saved the expired card and the envelope. They were like “are you seriously going to follow up on this? The look also said you are never going to get the new card!!

Me being me, filled up the form and mailed expired card. After a month, I received the new card with balance loaded 🙂 It was worth it not for the balance but for the effort and perseverance. I follow this with almost everything I pursue in my life. Never leave any stone unturned has been my mantra as I truly believe in miracle and surprises! We are majorly what we believe in!!

Now, I have set reminder to renew the card before next expiry date! Learning from mistakes and actioning on them is also equally critical 🙂

Today’s update:

Today was office day as I had in person meetings. It was a mixed day as I had to deliver some not so good news, welcome a new member and have strategy talks, all in a day. I am on bus right now returning home with goodies. LHB is waiting for me 😁 Today he gets burger, fries and some desserts.

I loved the morning quiet time yesterday so much that I might soon repeat it to get some heads down work done. Now, I partly understand MTW’s state of mind about waking up early 🙂 Maybe once or twice a week is doable right? Right!!!

4 more days for Akka to come 💃💃 3rd Feb is a big day with multiple commitments and I hope 4th Feb to be an easy quiet day. Friday will definitely be a storm before the calm on Saturday I am preparing my mind ahead to handle this Friday!

Seven on Sunday

  • I experienced the benefit of waking up early today. I woke up around 5:30am, kept rolling in bed until 6:30am in the hope to go back to snooze land and gave up. Benefit – I was able to finish a work that I was struggling to do for past 2 months. It required dedicated heads down time to gather my thoughts and today was the day. I had quiet, undivided focus time from 7 to 9am and got the work done! It’s a draft version and I am super happy about taking the first step! However, this doesn’t mean I will continue this pattern, morning sleep is too precious to give up that easily 🙂
  • Adi pointed out something about how we do casual conversation. When M and I talk, we add a gibberish word to the actual word “coffee keefee”, “bus-u gis-u”, “fork-u geer-ku”. After this, we started observing around friend’s circle to realize that most of the adults use this pattern 🙂 It’s funny to observe others talk this way and point out 🙂
  • I signed up to make cardboard “parai/drums” for the boys to use as prop in Tamil school Pongal dance performance.
  • Packed cold cut chicken sandwich for LHB yesterday as we had to pack brown bag lunch for the scout event, and it was super hit. He asked me to pack it for school lunch once a week.
  • I have taken the first step to pursue something in coming years. It’s a multi-year serious commitment that requires lot and lot of time and effort. It’s the thought “If not now, then never” that pushed me to sign up! Wish me luck please!
  • We have taken the first step to add Island at kitchen and exhaust hood to gas range. This has been in the plan for a long time and finally happening. This means I will get dedicated closed space for my trash separation, and I am super excited about it. I gave tough requirements to the cabinet store guy who helped to design Island space/cabinets and he tried to match most of my requirements 🙂 Hope it will all come together well!
  • Prepared Sunday style lunch today after a long time. Egg biriyani and raita for LHB, Mutton kuzhambu and Mutton soup for Appa as he is still recovering from cold!

TedX talks

I started the post to write about Saboteur vs Sage. To gather writing inputs I rewatched the video I am sharing below and realized its better for you all to watch this video than reading my version of explaining this concept. And I also realized that I can generalize this post to include other TedX talks that I enjoyed watching and started practicing the concept in my life. These concepts might be hard to follow and trust me it gives so much inner peace once we practice it enough to feel the positive changes within us! I feel more calmer these days. I still deal with my share of anxiety and bad days. The frequency have come down a lot!

Know your inner saboteurs

Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Success

I love TedX talks and watch at least one every week. Thanks to Youtube for not giving me a chance and keep sending recommendations my way.

I really encourage you all to take some time to watch above videos and internalize the concept.

Today’s update:
LHB and I left home around 7:30am after packing breakfast, lunch, coffee, snack. juice, water bottles and other essentials. We would have packed the entire home if we were given a chance (this is the “just in case” in me speaking..). We reached the venue at 7:50am and stayed there till 2pm as the boys went through every station for competition. They did a bunch a things like building flag, tying different kind of knots, using compass to find direction, using Semaphore to decode a message, sled racing. It was an interesting day. Weather was too cold and we managed with jackets and hats! We couldn’t stay back for award ceremony as LHB had another class. LHB’s team (Dragon patrols as they called themselves) won 2nd place in overall 🙂 Thanks to the den leader Mr.T who put in tremendous efforts to train the troop. He will have a good night sleep today 🙂 LHB and I are going to play some board game after I publish this post and then its story/sleep time.

Five on Friday

  • As I type this, LHB is super upset with me as I have asked him to pack his bag for tomorrow’s all day scout event. We have to leave home at 7:10am after packing breakfast and lunch and be out all day. He has to practice a few skills and pack his bag with essentials and the boy is on sulk/sigh mode! And this is the last thing I want to deal with on a Friday night when I am yet to clear my work emails for the day and catch up on few other stuff before I call it a day!!!
  • I have turned on the single functioning adult mode as M called in sick. I am telling you only men can call in sick at home! He is sick with terrible cold so the last thing I want him to do is accompany LHB tomorrow for tomorrow’s event where we will get exposed to cold winter weather all day! Hope he recovers soon!
  • Fridays in recent times at work has become a “catch all” day with some meetings from the week gets moved to Friday due to conflicts or double booking! This makes Friday busier than other workdays 😭😭 I was chewing gum while attending one of the meeting and guess what I did (see the picture below) LHB was super impressed, he asked me to reach him and when I made fuss, he asked me do it when he is around so he can pop it 🙂
  • I ate samosa chaat and wrapped it up with masala chai today evening and man it was lip-smacking good 🤤🤤
  • Yesterday at workplace, in the morning before 10am a colleague said I look very tired, like how I would look after a long day and in the afternoon around 3pm another colleague asked if I lost weight and complimented saying now, I look fresher, and my face has a glow effect!! Now who do I believe? 🤯🤯 Few others randomly commented that I lost weight which I did and it’s still learning in progress! Right now, I am at that phase when I give up every time, I try to lose weight! This has been the cycle for past 7-8 years, and I am so tempted to give up this time too but no I am more committed to break the cycle this time. Let’s see 🤞
  • I am writing an extra point because I can never stop with where I want to stop. I always want to walk that extra mile be it cooking food quantity – I always cook for double the people, buying gifts – I always buy more than one, I say Five on Friday but write more than five points, I always walk for 61 or 62 minutes when I intend to walk for 1 hour. I always give a little extra money – If Adi asked for 5 dollars, I would give her 7 dollars, just in case you know… This phrase “Just in case” plays a huge role in my life with anything and everything. Sigh!!!
  • Ok I do have more points to write and I will stop here and may be write them tomorrow under “Six on Saturday”

Have a great weekend everyone.. Stay safe, Stay healthy!

Books-2022

I give suggestion to my mentees that they should always have a book by their bedside and plan to read 10 minutes every night. Just 10 minutes, not a minute more, not a minute less!! Doable right? Make it an everyday habit and they would be pleasantly surprised by end of a month or two about how much progress they have made with this habit! Some of them even followed it and shared positive feedback with me!

I wanted to follow myself and terribly failed at it! I even tried promising to LHB that I will read along with him when he reads before bedtime. He follows as its part of his school homework but I am not 😦

In 2022, I managed to read “Lean In” by “Sheryl Sandberg” and listened to few audio books that I don’t even remember the title now!! 2021 was definitely a better year when it comes to reading!!

I have a book by my bedside now and waiting for blogathon to end so I can start reading!! excuse! excuse! excuse!

I do have all the right intention to make bedtime reading as a habit.. Just waiting for the stars to align 😁 Hope it happens soon 🤞 Let’s see how I fair in 2023!!

Do you all have any other suggestion to revive my reading habit?

I saw this at workplace today and immediately clicked. Today was my sanity aka office day. Had lot of interactions and was a productive day!

Had a good little chat with Akka in the evening. I was happy to hear her say she loves the campus. She is doing great and all I do is to keep reminding her to breathe.. 8 more days to go and Akka will be here ❤️

Sustainable Living Sort Of..

If yesterday’s post was about garden, then today’s post has to be about recent lifestyle adaptation to move one step closer to sustainable living.

One self-improvement I am very proud about in recent years is the consistent effort I take in separating garbage at home. I separate them as 4 piles now. Trash, Recycle, Plastic and Compost. With this change, the trash bag doesn’t get filled even after one whole week! Is the family happy about this separation is a topic to discuss another day!!

Trash and recycle – They are picked up by township from the curbside!

Plastic – I have a friend to hand over plastic collections (I keep collecting them and give to him once in few months). He drops it at an upcycling center where they make chairs and benches out of plastics.

Compost – All of kitchen waste and coffee powder except for meat remains go into compost bin setup at backyard. Last summer, we took more than 10 buckets of black gold from the bin, and it was a proud day for me! I have been religiously following the routine of adding all waste to the bin for more than a year when no one trusted that it’s going to turn into compost. The earth worms overworked and proved them wrong when we took out buckets and buckets of black gold 🙂

It’s safe to say that this has become an effortless habit now. There is no looking back. Wish I can say the same about fitness someday!! Wishful thinking!!!

I am also thankful to the state for plastic bag usage ban at stores. I love carrying my tote bags wherever I go!

At home, some days you can even catch me rummaging the trash bag to pull out plastics and recycles trashed by the family **rolling eyes** I just cannot walk past knowing trash bag is not the right place for them especially plastics!!

This is one lifestyle change that makes me sleeps well at night! Kumudha very appy annachi 😁😁

You keep adding kitchen waste to top of the bin layering it with browns. When it’s time, you take the compost from the bottom. Nature’s wonder or rather earthworms wonder. My respect for earthworms has gone rocket high after witnessing the result of its hard work!

What you see below is a sample of kitchen waste on the left and the final outcome of compost on the right side.

2022 garden updates

2022 garden progress was satisfactory. For me personally, it exceeded my expectations. M transformed into a serious gardener, he built two beds all by himself and planted season vegetables – tomato, green chilies, eggplant, snake gourd, white pumpkin, dosakkai, cucumber, long beans, ladies’ finger and some greens. We had very decent harvest. M’s goal was to harvest enough tomatoes, green chilies to last for few months and more importantly to grow white pumpkin to use on Ammavasai days to prepare pumpkin sambar and offer to my in-laws.

We had only one pumpkin and that was big enough to last for following 12 months 🙂 We cut it into pieces and stored as 12 portions to pull out one bag every month on Ammavasai day. Tomatoes and green chilies were duly frozen, and I still have stash to last for few more months 🙂 It’s a different level of feeling to use home grown veggies.

I personally enjoyed snake gourd as its my favorite kootu vegetable made with boiled channal dal. This year, we added two banana plants (received as gift from a relative family residing in North Carolina when we visited them), moringa plant and a bunch of greens. Most of them have been moved indoors along with the hibiscus plants.

I have to give credit to my neighbor as she was “garden-sitting” when we were out for 3 weeks on Europe trip. She visited our garden every day and harvested all veggies to save them for us! She is a blessing to me in many ways! To make her job easy, we installed drip irrigation for all pots on the deck and setup sprinklers for the bed. The drip irrigation needs lots of patience, multiple trials and some technical knowledge to get it to functional state. We installed timer to water the pots three times a day!

M became a pro gardener by end of the season 🙂 I can’t wait to see his plans for this year. I have decided to take the assistant spot and allow him to lead when it comes to gardening and oh boy I am super happy about it 🙂

Our garden update in a video:

We have named the single petal red colored hibiscus as “Redda” and even in winter he blooms flowers. This is him last week on the day of my father in law’s death anniversary day!

Do you see all the buds? Redda is our way of remembering my father-in-law as he used to grow multiple varieties and colors of hibiscus plants! This is his 4th year with us 🙂

Blessings

Sharing an incident that flashes on my mind frequently and puts me into perspective when things don’t go so well!

The day before M was about to board flight at India. As usual, Amma was busy packing masala powders, homemade sweets and many more items for us. M visited my parents’ home to finalize the bags. While he was rearranging some of the items and checking bags weight, Amma was sitting in a plastic chair and watching him. I called her at the usual daily call time and she reached out to the phone by taking support from one arm of the chair. That moment the chair’s leg broke and she fell backwards. As she fell, her head hit the tip of the door and she got a long deep cut in her head.

M told me later that blood was gushing out in full pressure; he immediately took a bedsheet nearby and pressed hard on her head to control the blood loss. By that time, his face, shirt and half of the floor was full of blood. He helped her to get up, sit on a chair and put her head down while holding the bed sheet. Then, neighbors came and took her to the hospital. She had stitches and took few months to recover!

Appa was just frozen not knowing what to do! It was heartbreaking to see her with bandage in a video call the next day! We can’t imagine Amma’s state if M did not act quick to save further blood loss! I am indebted to him forever! Just thinking about other possible outcomes of this incident gives me jitters and puts me into perspective!

I can handle anything but family’s sickness or health situation! I have been tested enough in 2022 with Amma’s incident, M’s multiple incidents of oil burn, twisted ankle. These incidents drain all my energy while I continue to function as usual!

Akka Update:
Akka is coming home in 12 days to celebrate her pampered little brother also called as her “legal child’s” first 2-digit birthday! It will be a very short stay! She asked me to make Sambar on the day she is arriving! I have cleared up my calendar for those two days! All I am thinking now is how should I receive her? Should I run and hug her tight or just wait at the kitchen table that will be filled with her favorites? This weekend I missed her a lot! I felt so bored and down! Couldn’t identify why but I felt restless for most part of the day!