52 Weeks 

  

 

Due to a recent bereavement, I did not have the heart for 52 weeks. But with New Year comes fresh enthusiasm and renewed hope.
Here’s to 52 weeks, of blogging, of following my book’s heroine, of writing and giving a positive spin to the not so amusing aspects of everyday life and challenges. 

Happy New Year!

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52 Weeks of Avantika

  

Sun and Fun!

Reality? Ha ha ! Looks are so deceptive!

  • 3 degrees Celsius outside our warmed up car.
  • Sunny outside but a tantrum inside ! Not only is my angel upset that half her goldfish crackers fell down during snacktime but also that I did not talk to her at a red light. (Never mind that I was concentrating on the construction work near the signal and that the goldfish accident was her fault)
  • It’s only only 1pm. But sunset is only about 4 hours away. Definitely more bleak than it looks.
  • Aunt Flo is killing me. 

Oh well, life is like that. I did turn it around by 

  • Asking T if she wanted to do a puzzle before lunch or after. She chose after.
  • Since we were having dosas for lunch, I allowed T to choose what shape of Dosa she wanted: she got a nice Spider-dosa and one Xmas-tree-dosa.
  • Pretending we are lions basking in the sun and napping. While this was after about three hours, T did sleep. I too got about 15mins of downtime.
  • We did stop in our parking lot to admire the trees and colors for a while minute.

This post was Part of 52 weeks of Avantika. I shall post a picture and/or Quote  like the heroine of my book Avantika. But unlike the principal character of my book shall post every Saturday for a year instead of daily. 

NaNoWriMo and Goals

November has begun and winter has started. Or so it feels in the chilly suburbs of Chicago. [Where are you Fall? You were late to come and quick to leave!]

But November also marks the advent of NaNoWriMo mania- the time of the year where writers across the globe buckle down to attempt their masterpiece. I should know. I’ve had an account with NaNoWriMo from 2011 and also a few Camp NaNoWriMos. The point is simple. In 30 days, write 50K words. Just write. No editing. No second guessing. Write from your outline or write as you go. Zone in on the topic and genre of your choice. You can flow chapter-wise or jump from scene to scene or simply ooze the words as they come to you. Pen 1667 words every day or 50K on the last night. Every novelist is free to scribe as they like.

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Sure, the end result will not be epic. But this version will act as a suitable clay that can be moulded to the shape we like, as opposed to the annoying blank page. If you want more words of wisdom or motivation, sign up for NaNoWriMo now and get pep talks from the inspiring volunteers who manage and support the different regional groups in your inbox. There are actual meetups and virtual write-ins too, to bolster the feeling of community and cheer one other.

So, have I started on my next great novel? Maybe a sequel, prequel or series from my darling “365 Days of F(ib)B-ing“? Good question. Sad answer. Nope.

This year I shall only be a participant in spirit. Given the many study assignments I have, I realize that signing up would be certain “Yes-icide“. But, I am inspired by the spirit of buckling down and attacking a project with a set timeline. Timeboxing as we called in my software professional days. Laura Vanderkam puts it much better in her newsletter. [Susbcribe if you did not already!] Or you can read her past posts on the subject on her website.

To elaborate, I have decide that I shall tackle a long-time aspiration of mine. I shall craft thirty blog posts : ten each for my two personal blogs and ten for my newly created professional blog. I have, a few times in the past; had a queue of posts that served me well during travel and vacations. The surprising by-product was the freedom it gave me to write more and better. Without the dread of a deadline [even if self-imposed] and the agony of a blank page and possible writer’s block, it’s easier to draft a great blog post and also pander to SEO and other luxuries like Featured Images.

Especially for my professional data science blog, I have a bunch of portfolio projects that I plan to articulate. I have been meaning to convert them into blog posts to showcase my efforts and learning. November’s NaNoWriMo enthusiasm is the perfect setting to materialize those good intentions. After all, even the best of ideas wither away without action.

And if I meet my goals, who knows? It might just stir me up to attempt a night of crazy writing and complete NaNoWriMo too!

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All the best WriMos! May the Force be with You!

Share your plans in the comments below or tap me as a buddy. I go as ‘nirupamaprv’. Enjoy NaNoWriMo!

Outer Layers

Today’s post is in response to the prompt over at Daily Post about what our familiar clothes/ accessories say about us and the associations they hold.

When I pondered over the prompt, I was intrigued by my musings. So, here we go:

  • Spectacles

I wear pink spectacles. My eye wear has always been a little funky. A deliberate deviation from my sensible personality but very much in keeping with my love of bright, bold hues.

  • Chain 

A gift when I went to junior college, it has been my companion all through my twenties and a lucky charm in my third decade.

  • Polished toenails

I stopped growing my nails on my first job. Working long hours before a computer as a software tester chips is not exactly conducive with long nails. Once our bundle of joy was born, I stopped painting my nails as well. First it was my fright of the smell harming her, then it was an unnecessary distraction that kept her from nursing. 

But never once did I stop painting my nails. While I did stop reaching for the flashy shades after my teen years, I always kept my toe nails nice and colored. My mom painted my toes even when I was pregnant with T and could not reach them! 

  • Handkerchiefs

I always carry one. As a kid I would carry two, just in case the first got soiled. After T was born, baby wipes have been my handy hack for everything. Color stains, oily skin, dirty surfaces, they are perfect for everything. 

What do your comfortable clothes and favorite accessories say about you?

Stats and Thoughts

WordPress offers excellent analytics on its dashboard, and I love looking at my stats.

Here is a snapshot of my posting activity:

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As can be seen, Feb followed by December are my most active months. Feb is T’s birthday, and December is start of winter holidays; so, I have so much content that I can share. Blogging becomes so easy as I have huge pile of adventures and reviews and experiences to share!

I did discount Feb of 2013. T was born in the first week; and had an unfortunate stay in NICU. Naturally, blogging was the last task on my mind)

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It is obvious that I have not posted regularly; not even weekly. And I am yet to surpass the maximum views on that amazing day in 2014. I hope to excel that mark this year by becoming better at the art and craft of blogging.

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This is one statistic that I am surprised by! I mostly post on Fridays on this blog. My Mute Mondays posts appear on Mondays. Yet, the most popular hour is Thursday. Fascinating and useful! As can be imagined, going forward- I shall try and publish my posts on Thursdays! 🙂

The one insight that WordPress does not show me is how amazing the people who read my posts are! Followers or not, every Like, Comment and View fills me with delight and gratitude. I am humbled that you, dear reader, chose to spare time and energy on my work! So, a huge, heart felt THANK YOU for supporting me, and for being on this platform and making it the joyful, supportive community it is!

With a heart full of gratitude and cheer; I wish you all a happy (and warm) weekend!

[P.S.: I know the weather is forecast to be dismal over the weekend; but I’ve learnt from native Chicagoans to bundle up and be toasty and happy anyway! Plus, the last weekend was such a marvelous bonus- I am still counting my blessings!]

 

Criticism- Flurry of Thoughts

Today’s post is a response to the Daily Prompt : Criticize

These are my thoughts in no order of importance, just the sequence in which they occurred to me!

  • My inner voice is my biggest critic.
  • Most of my girl friends and female cousins also suffer from having horrid inner voices. These can range from mildly unkind to debilitatingly harsh voices! Sad, but true!
  • Motherhood has made me sensitive and more prone to worrying. Hence, I can ‘sense’; sometimes incorrectly, criticism in feedback or advice!
  • I try not to be critical after becoming a mom! Since, I have realized that what works for one family might not for another. Let’s face it, Hubs and I don’t see eye to eye on loads of topics when it comes to parenting.
  • Related Confession: I do judge people who insist that Hubs or I follow their parenting techniques. Do you know if it suits my kid or our family ideologies and values? Is it necessary? Will it work? How do you know we have not tried it? I mean sharing your strategies is great, I shall keep it in mind but insisting we follow it is silly!
  • While social media is a boon and the various technologies to connect are simply splendid; it also comes with a flip side. That anyone and everyone now has a chance to criticize others. The same platforms that make it simple for me to stay in touch with my geographically separated family and friends also inflict criticism from random people I don’t know and who don’t know me either! Thankfully, I am not famous; so, I don’t have many trolls in my (virtual) life. Plus, I know how to use the ‘Block’ options. But it still feels unfair and upsetting. Throw in points 1-3 and it can make a woman really miserable.
  • Whenever I think of criticism, I always remember my mom’s advise on my homework. I need to critique a literary piece of work for my English class. I do not recall the title of the poem, just that it was a very sombre poem. Hence, I had put an overly critical and mostly negative assessment. [because i liked happy texts; still do!] My mom looked it over and asked me how I would feel if it had been my poem.

I changed it. Sure, I included the flaws but used the Sandwich technique to insert them between the merits. And that changed the tone of my essay entirely. I aced the homework but more importantly I learnt a life lesson- how to deliver ‘a critique’ : with careful choice of words and empathy. (Like my mom did with my essay)

  • Talking about great ideas, I recently read about the technique of ‘feedforward‘ on Marshall Goldsmith’s blog! What a fabulous idea! I am definitely choosing this strategy for advising, critiquing or giving feedback!

On that note, please leave your comments and suggestions for improving this blog and my writing. Feedforward please!

(Not) Calm- Daily Prompt

Today’s post is in response to the Daily Prompt challenge over at Daily Post- my favorite stop for inspiration.

Here are my thoughts on Calm:

I am not CALM! When you add up the facts: that I am quite diplomatic (yes really), have a good life; have always been comfortable with myself and only chased after stuff I want and not because it’s popular/ trending (thanks Dad! I know I get this trait from you!) ; you’d think I’d be in a nirvana state of mind, happy and calm. But I never am. Happy-mostly! Calm- rarely!

I am quite volatile! Maybe because I am a woman? Is it because I am a mom? Is my creative spirit to blame? Genes? Too much Internet? Who knows? I have never wondered and seriously, I can’t be bothered?

Moving on to things that do calm me down, a few pictures to illustrate the point:

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Sound of water, rustle of leaves- so calming!

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Babies! Who can resist smiling and gushing? Instant mood changers!

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Glorious sunsets, lush verdant grass, vast spaces- never fails to inspire tranquil emotions

I have to add here that I also find gazing at my painted nails rather fun. I know, I am obsessed with feet and painted toes! I wrote at length about it here.

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Vast imposing structures- makes you feel humbled and awed. Definitely rips away any negative emotions

 

At this point, I also have to point out that I rate being happy and feeling blessed and the ability to enjoy life far above being calm. Calm but boring, not bad, but not my cup of tea either. And for the record, I like coffee better. I also like lemonade and kokum juice!

(Kokum is a fruit for the uninitiated. Kokum syrup mixed with generous helping of water, with a dash of rock salt and lemon- ahh!!! Bliss! And when you have it in scorching summers, ooh! A taste of heaven in every sip!)

This has been quite a rambling sort of post- from my not being calm to pondering over the reasons, meandering to ways to calm down to finally a recipe. But that’s me- I think a lot. I opine even more. I care too much and probably share just as much. But that’s just why I will never be calm- too much going on, loads to do and enjoying every minute of it!