Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Simple Joys

It is a joy to become a grandmother! In the relatively short span of time 2014-2018, I have been blessed with five wonderful grandchildren - different in so many ways and yet so delightful in every way. It is a miracle to become aware of how thoroughly and completely I love each of them. The old adage that love can only multiply - not divide - is totally true, and must be experienced first hand!

How lovely is the simple word 'well' -- like the water in a well literally wells up as more water is used, so too does love well up in the heart. Very grateful for this wonderful experience.

Clearly, to become a grandmother, I was first a mother. To four wonderful sons actually. And I love each of them very much, then as now. But that experience was totally different. The responsibility of raising them well was fraught with worry, concern, anxiety and self-doubt. The newly coined word "FOMO" that I became aware of recently (Fear of Missing Out) was actually very relevant to me as a young mother, although I did not know the word per se. The fear that I might actually be missing on some crucial information in the context of raising my sons well was hugely magnified by a whole host of allied reasons.

Foremost amongst those reasons was the fact that we had recently migrated to America from India. This was nothing like the immigration that happens now. Rather, set the clock back to 1975 -- to that prehistoric time before computers, internet, google, mobile phones and social media. The only knowledge at our fingertips at that time was from walking our fingers across the bulky yellow pages: a miraculous compendium of places where I could find things without beating the streets on foot, a princess phone at my elbow with its snaking chord from the wall--a phone that actually worked, and people who actually answered on the other end of the line! Yes. An American dream indeed. And the fact that the TV had more than one channel, as opposed to the Doordarshan that was just coming up in India, was amazing. To see news unfold live as it was being reported felt miraculous in contrast to the elegant young lady we saw on Doordarshan, reading the news from a paper on her desk -- a great improvement, so to speak, over reading the newspaper the next morning after father was done with it during breakfast.

But that was not all. The whole school system for the children was Greek and Latin to me, with frustrating names like Freshman, Sophmore, Junior and Senior; not to be confused with elementary, junior high and high. By the time I unraveled differences between nomenclature for gifted children and special children, time was speeding along like an arrow. Finding a job was hard enough; but trying to look for preschool help and after school care for four children, each in a different grade and school, was a maze from which I did not reappear for several years. If I looked dazed all the time, it was because I was compressing 72 years of school education for 4 boys into a concurrent span of 22 years. I forgive myself now for my frumpiness. And then there were all those acronyms to master: PSAT, SAT, AP Courses, Satellite Specials, PTAs, Proms, corsages and boutonnieres. You rent Tuxedos? Yes, you do! Really! Never heard of such a scandalous thing... renting clothes for the kids indeed. But you go with the flow because there's not much else to do. College apps, essays and interviews... lets not even go there. I am already reaching for my cholesterol meds.

No wonder I adore the grandkids. It is all love and no stress. The parents know everything. Google is a master grandma, doctor, teacher, counselor and everything else rolled into one. Why worry? I am here to play with the kids to my heart's content, and then return the gifts with love to their owners :-) I could have twenty more grand kids and no worries. Wonder why their mothers stress so much? Any ideas? Heh heh. Bye sweetie pies. See you next week!

And off I go, my husband grumbling at the wheel that I left two hours later than planned. Oh well. It IS a lot of work to run around with the lil ones, you know. Raising children these days is hard, I repeat, suppressing the smile threatening to spill around my words.

See you guys too next week. So long!

Friday, June 26, 2015

How to reduce stress and....slowly Change Your Life?

Our daily lives are imbued with stress. Some amount of "good" stress is necessary to help us get out of bed, plan the tasks of the day and focus on the high priority items that will help us reach our goals and make us feel good. However, with the overwhelming list of things that must be done on a daily basis, and the press of unexpected interruptions and irritations that stem from various sources, there is no surprise that "good" stress quickly reaches unhealthy levels. A state of continued high, unhealthy stress is the root of many deadly diseases. Getting to the root and take action is essential. 
  1. First, one must set limitations of what is key and what is not. It is not as easy as it sounds. Focusing on the important means cutting out unimportant stuff.
  2. Make time to do the small things that fill your life with joy. It can be any hobby like gardening or playing with the puppy or going for a walk. Often, these are the ones that drop off our list first. Keep them. 
  3. Set aside a "Magic Time" when you must not be disturbed. Value this time. Don't allow email, FB, twitter or other social networks to distract you. Focus on what you must get done during this time. Your #1 priority. Regular focus, say for two hours daily, will help you make steady progress -- instead of a last minute marathon session that will exhaust you.
  4. Take up Yoga or Meditation. It is a great stress reliever. Or listen to inspirational messages. Read a book. Listen to Music. Relax. 
  5. Be grateful for the small stuff. It is a good practice to remember 5 things daily that make you feel grateful - even that small hot cup of coffee counts! 
  6. Feel connected to the universe as you go about your day. You are not an island. The innate trust that the universe has your back, and everything is unfolding as it should, is a big help to diffuse a sudden build-up of stress. Remember when we were kids? We did not worry as much, because we never felt so stressfully responsible -- we did our thing, and our parents were there for us. It's that same feeling we need to recapture -- to keep doing our best, and let the universe carry the load of the world: not us :-)

Mind science research suggests that the key to most of the things we want in life, whether it’s abundance, career success, health, happiness or enlightenment, lies in a particular state of mind. 

Our brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. The combination of millions of neurons sending signals produces an enormous amount of electrical activity in the brain. Scientists call these "Brain waves" because of its cyclic, 'wave-like' nature. Our mind regulates its activities by means these electric waves which are registered in the brain. Beta waves occur during our waking state and Delta waves occur during deep sleep. For relaxation, the other two types of waves, the Alpha and Theta brainwave frequencies, are of specific interest.
  • Alpha occurs when we are in a state of physical and mental relaxation, mildly aware of what is happening around us: its frequency are around 7 to 13 pulses per second. 
  • Theta occurs at more or less 4 to 7 pulses and it is a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness.
We attain these states of mind during sleep - as we approach the state of deep sleep. If we are able to achieve these states consciously, then we have learned the technique to reduce stress significantly. The question is… how to achieve this state of mind during waking consciousness? 

Organizing our day, setting limits, making time to do the things we enjoy, taking time to relax, regular practice of Yoga and Meditation, listening to music and inspirational messages helps. Remembering to smile often and being grateful for the small things has a magical effect too. In other words, taking control of our day, and introducing small changes that will help our mind slow down a bit and relax, will go a long way in helping us to reduce stress and live a full, healthy life -- and achieve more in the long run. The best thing we can do for ourselves is not drive our minds insane with incessant activity from endless to-do lists. Inject some white space too -- via relaxation techniques that work best for you.