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The A to Z Challenge in Review

Phew! I’m finally done with the A to Z Challenge. And I was so happy about that yesterday that, when Che asked me to take the day off and chill with him, I did, forgetting all about my post. Freya, bad girl! 😀

When I started out on 14th April it felt like it would never finish the challenge, I’d never get 26 posts done. But here I am 26 posts later and it feels good to have completed my challenge.

Wasn’t a clear win, and there were many hiccups. Days when I couldn’t sit down to write, the words just wouldn’t come, I couldn’t find the right word; it took me 34 days to get 26 posts done and that’s one too many a holiday in-between posts.

But anyway all that aside, this challenge was a learning experience at various levels.

I learned some new words and their etymology in the whole exercise. Days where I couldn’t find a word I learned to use Google better :D, I thought out of the box for some letters, reached into my heart for some and even my past for some. In some cases I learned something new and amazing like about Rastafarian or that the SCUBA we use today was first co-developed by Cousteau in 1943.

There were days when I had so much to do but I was confident I would find the time to write everyday. And some days I did, I wrote a fair number of posts on the mobile phone when I couldn’t sit down at a computer. Writing, editing and publishing through the mobile phone was a first for me. Need to learn how to do this better though, since I couldn’t figure out how to add images to my post on the mobile.

The other thing I learned is not to take for granted that I will find the time to write everyday. I have to learn to write ahead of time and schedule the post. [Crack that whip, I need to get my act together! :D]

The most important lesson though I think was that when I make up my mind I can do things. I wrote posts on days when I though it would just not be possible to do it. I relearned will-power and determination, and the possibilities it opens up.

This challenge had me push my limits and helped me find a little bit of me again. I found writing and it’s joy again. So here’s to me being more active on my blog. Cheers!

Here’s my 26 posts and words for 2014

A for Alpha, A for Aspire
B for Bravo, B for Balance
C for Charlie, C for Celebration
D for Delta, D for Determination

E for Echo, E for Explore
F for Foxtrot, F for Friends
G for Golf, G for Gratitude
H for Hotel, H for Hope

I for India, I for I
J for Juliet, J for Josh
K for Kilo, K for Kismet
L for Lima, L for Labour

M for Mike, M for More, Maza
N for November, N for Nature
O for Oscar, O for Orgasmic
P for Papa, P for Positive

Q for Quebec, Q for Quirky
R for Romeo, R for Rastafarian
S for Sierra, S for Silence
T for Tango, T for Time-out

U for Uniform, U for Unique
V for Victory, V for Vitality
W for Whiskey, W for Wisdom

X for X-ray, X for X-factor
Y for Yankee, Y for Yummy
Z for Zulu, Z for Zero

I last used the phonetic alphabet over 8 years ago while I still worked in a BPO, though the A to Z I tested my memory and I managed to get 24 out of 26 correct. Not a bad show, eh?

Have you done an A to Z challenge? Did you enjoy it? What did you learn from it?

May 19, 2014   3 Comments

Z for Zulu, Z for Zero

“Along life’s journey,
May it ever be your goal,
To keep your eyes on the doughnut,
And not upon the hole.”

The first time I came across these lines was in my 2nd PU (12th) scrapbook. Those days scrapbooks with questions and layouts were a rage and I’d been so proud to get one. Anyway, over the years the book has gotten buried somewhere but these lines have remained with me. It’s become one of my favourite life advises.

And that’s where zero comes in. Zero by itself isn’t much or rather is nothing, but put it along with another number and things dramatically change. And with each addition of a zero, the number increases by leaps and bounds. There’s more to a zero then it’s zilch.

To me zero is also a number with negative connotations, so I wondered do a lot of people choose zero as their favourite number? A little bit of searching and reading let me to Alex Bellos, a mathematics blogger for The Guardian. A few years back Alex setup a site favouritenumber.net and asked people what was their favourite number and why.

After surveying over 30,000 people from across the world, the results are in and here’s what he has to say about zero.

“If you like the number 0, join the smart aleck club. More than any other number, people seemed to pick 0 because they thought it was a clever thing to do.”

If you are wondering about the results of the survey, 7 ranked highest followed by 3 and 8. As for zero, it isn’t the least favourite but it isn’t in the top 20 either.

So coming back to point, zero is an interesting number, it’s a clever number. Inert by itself but capable of causing positive, drastic and big changes when put in with another.

These would be nice qualities to have no? I’d like to be more of a zero this year. 😀

What do you think of zero? What’s your favourite number?

May 17, 2014   No Comments

Y for Yankee, Y for Yummy

I am almost at the end of my A to Z Challenge with just ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ left now. And Y and Z fall into the ‘difficult to find words, wait for divine inspiration’ category. So I duly waited for that stroke of enlightenment, that spotlight of sunshine.

The hunt for words with Y brought up some interesting finds –

yaff – to bark like a snarling dog
yager – nineteenth-century rifle
yashmak – double Muslim veil leaving only eyes uncovered
yegg – a burglar of safes
yerk – to draw tight; to bind
yappy – talkative, loquacious
yodel – sing with abrupt alternating changes between the normal voice and falsetto
yeuk – to itch
yex – to hiccup, belch or spit

And then, as I ate lunch yesterday, in marched the word ‘Yummy’ into my mind, and got reinforced with dinner.

This whole gassy situation has cramped my eating style. Gone are the days of eating irregularly and mindlessly. I now have to make sure my stomach doesn’t stay empty for long and that I eat healthy.

Considering my culinary skills and enthusiasm in the kitchen this was an uphill task. Something that boggled my mind so much that if asked ‘What shall we eat?’, my standard reply was curd rice (not that I’m a taair-sadam fan).

And that’s where the hero makes entry, he swaggers in and sweeps the damsel off her feet. 😀 Che did just that, he took it on and found the infamous khichidi, which in the last couple of weeks he has perfected. If it wasn’t as good as it is, I would have gotten bored of it much earlier.

But yeah, I’ve been getting bored, slowly and steadily my perkiness to the word ‘lunch’ has waned and my beeline to the kitchen has become a crawl.

So what does the hero do? He flicks his wand and finds new dishes I can eat. Yeah, you could say Che must have been bored too, but I like seeing him as hero. 😛

Photo Credit: Chenthil

Yesterday he made avial for lunch and adai for dinner. Ohh and did I enjoy it. They were both yum. Avial is one of my favourite veggie dishes, it not only has coconut milk but also tons of veggies. I could eat a bowlful just like that!

Adai, I don’t think I have ever eaten this before but I really liked it. Simple to make once the batter was given to me, it was a wholesome filling meal. And with the amount of ghee I was instructed to put, fattening too!

This post isn’t about me really, it’s about this man I married who does such an awesome job in the kitchen that I sometimes think I should just keep him there, if only he cleaned up as well as he cooked I might have. 😀 Che is so the opposite of me; I find cooking stressful and a chore but to him it’s therapeutic and fun.

Tasty is an important word to me, when it comes to food. I love eating different types of food but making it all, just isn’t my thing. Left to myself I’ll crib, curse, mop and then eat dal rice or curd rice rather then make something elaborate.

So, here’s my official thank you to Che for making my year ‘yummy’. 😛

May 16, 2014   No Comments

X for X-ray, X for X-factor

I spent all of yesterday and today thinking of words starting with ‘x’, I searched and found quite a few words too, but all them were exotic and unusable. I was starting to contemplate writing a post about not finding a word when it all fell into place, x-factor was my word.

The electricity went out at about 1pm today. With only half of the house work done and clothes in the washing machine I prayed it would come back soon.

After all the work and some sitting around I finally gave up at 5pm and had a cold water bath. The electricity still wasn’t back.

With sunset nearing Che and I now decided to take action, this wasn’t normal. A little bit of scouting around and we learned it was just our lane without power and that our neighbour was just heading out to complain to the society guys.

There wasn’t much we could do but sit and wait, so we headed back and sat down for a few minutes under the cherry tree. Our street’s been dug up and looks a bit different right now. Maybe the JCB had something to do with the power outage.

Sitting there, there came the idea of a movie, no work was going to happen for a while at home anyway. And today was Wednesday, that meant 100 rupee tickets! 20 minutes later, tickets booked, we were on our way to Hawa Hawai.

The movie as a concept is great but it has so many sub-stories that the main story struggles to be seen in the haze. Anyway back to point. It was on our way to the movie that ‘x-factor’ hit me.

My life in all about the x-factor, the unscheduled power-cuts and the unplanned movies. And happiness seems to be all about celebrating the x-factor. :-)

BTW have you watched Hawa Hawai? What did you think of it?

May 14, 2014   No Comments

W for Whiskey, W for Wisdom

I remember the first time I came across the Serenity Prayer, it was way back in school on a bookmark sold by the Sisters at the annual charity book sale. I bought the bookmark and still have it somewhere buried in all my treasures. The words though stuck in my head and got refreshed a few times over the years when I came across the prayer off and on.

And then I thought of it again, when I thought about Wisdom the other day. And as always I went looking on Google and found a Wiki page on it.

God, grant me –
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

There is something about this prayer that is haunting, it’s simple and yet holds a world on meaning. Almost as if, if you understood it’s depths, you’d find enlightenment and eternal peace.

Here’s some things I also found out on Wiki about the Serenity Prayer.

This prayer though commonly known as The Serenity Prayer was originally an untitled prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian around 1943. Today The Serenity Prayer has been adopted by the Alcoholics Anonymous and many other twelve-step programs.

The original, attributed to Niebuhr, is:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

The Serenity Prayer has been a part of the  Alcoholics Anonymous since 1941.

The adapted prayer used by the Alcoholics Anonymous was: ″Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.″

However the 12 Step Groups adopted a slightly different version: ″God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.″

Some precursors to the prayer that struck a cord with me…

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no help for it,
What use is there in being glum?
– 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva

“And they said: At the head of all understanding – is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.”
– 11th century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
–  philosopher W.W. Bartley in a Mother Goose rhyme

And here are a couple of modern day versions 😀

The Serenity Prayer is quite a famous prayer and has been used in music, books and even movies. Some places the prayer appears are in Robert Downey, Jr. song “Broken” on his album The Futurist, he sings part of the prayer, Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse-Five and in the movie Flight where William “Whip” Whitaker (played by [Denzel Washington]), a recovering alcoholic and drug user, has a copy of the prayer at the end of the 2012 film.

A simple prayer and yet it packs a punch. It has so much to it and encompasses so much. The Serenity Prayer is a prayer I like to revisit often.

Have you come across The Serenity Prayer before? Do you like it?

May 13, 2014   1 Comment

V for Victory, V for Vitality

The dictionary defines vitality as ‘the state of being strong and active; energy.’ I think someone with vitality is someone with lots of energy and high levels of activity. And the first example that comes to mind of someone like this is ‘Moms’. Almost all Moms I know have amazing amounts of energy, fairly robust health and the capability to do incredible things. Women aren’t born with this ability but becoming a mother does this to them.

Yesterday was our day out and as Che and I rode across town catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in ages, a conversation got me thinking about vitality and mothers. Coincidentally it was mother’s day too! Going down that rabbit hole I thought I’d look at what makes mothers so active and energetic. After all being a Mom is not easy, it’s taxing, its tiring, it’s exhausting, [yeah yeah, it’s rewarding too 😀 ]. But if being a Mom is all that tiring, how do Mom’s stay mostly healthy? How do them have so much energy? How do they pack so much into their every day?

Mom’s Indiscriminately Eat

I learned the value of food from my mother. It was a rule in our house that you had to finish what was in your plate. You couldn’t turn up your nose at any dish and had to eat all. But aside from this I learned not to waste food from my mother, not even a little bit.
Mom hates wasting food so the dinner table doesn’t have just today’s food but also a little of yesterdays. Kids being kids we tried to escape the old and have the new always. This meant a lot of times there was just a little bit of something left; rather than put it back in the fridge or throw it, Mom would force herself to finish it.
When it comes to waste, she wouldn’t even let some fruit slide. If we hadn’t scraped the custard apple clean, she would. When she cut mango or watermelon, there would be no fruit left on the skin or seed. Mom was a stickler for no wastage.
My Mom isn’t the only one I’ve seen do this, almost all Mom’s I know are like this. This seems to be why even though it seems like they aren’t eating well at the dinner table, Mom’s still have good health.

Lusty Lists

Mothers don’t have a to-do list, they have very many to-do lists. There’s a list for the little one’s food, the little one’s school and homework, then there’s a list for the kitchen, a list for the house, a list for the husband, and it goes on. And mothers manage them all and achieve 90% or more on their lists. I have difficulty managing one to-do list on paper, how mothers manage so many boggles my mind.
Have you come across Luminosity? It’s a site that helps you exercise your mind for a few minutes everyday. I’ve been doing the exercises for a couple of weeks now and I find am performing better everyday. The more I exercise my mind the better it’s getting.
Maybe all those lists explain why Mom’s are so sharp and alert.

Home-Work

Then there’s all that physical stuff, picking up after kids, sweeping, moping, dusting, washing clothes, cleaning vessels, and again the list goes on. Mom’s make what they do look easy but it isn’t easy at all, it’s a lot of hard physical labour that brings me to my knees most days.
But all that physical stuff they do explains their physical fitness. The home is like their personal gym, where they exercise while no one is watching.
I notice that I am more healthy and fall sick less when I don’t have help and have to do a lot of the house chores myself. Not that I don’t want help!

What else do you think gives mothers the vitality they have? How do they acquire the qualities they have? Is it really only a mother thing? Or are all women like this?

What do you think gives your mother unlimited energy? And if you are a mother, please tell me the secret of your energy? [And don’t say Boost 😛 ]

P.S. – Thanks to Mom, after peeling a mango, you’ll find me nibbling on the skin for a little extra fruit. Do you do that too?

Photo Credit: OpenClips and Richi on Pixabay.

May 12, 2014   No Comments

U for Uniform, U for Unique

Yesterday was a crazy day packed with stuff and I didn’t a chance to write all day. And at the end of the day, I was just too tired to type. So, here’s yesterday’s post today. :)

Unique has been playing on my mind since a while now but I couldn’t think of what to write about. I think I am unique, but so does everyone else. Then, what’s the big deal about being unique. Why should I care about being unique?

Then yesterday while Che and I were waiting for rice to cook, we got talking about societal influences and unrelated topics and it struck me – I am not a societal puppet. My morality, my principles, my values, they are unique. They are unique because in the last 30+ years I have interacted with a fairly large number of people. From my family to friends in school, college, work and the outside world. Every interaction I have had has shaped the way I think and feel today.

Some of these interactions are not even face to face. With the TV growing up and now the internet, the number of interactions I have has exploded. And then there are the interactions I have with myself. 😀 The thought of the sheer number of people and instances in my life astounds me. The number of interactions in just 30 years is so large you could count it as One. One because there are so many that each is indistinct, they are like an entity.

And it is this ‘One’ that makes me, me. If anything in my life had been different, I may have been a completely or slightly different person today, or for all you know I may have turned out just this way. But it is this One that makes me unique. From all the Me’s in all the parallel universes and from everyone else. 😀

I am the only one who had these interactions in this series. My morality, my principles, my values, the way I think and feel are a sum of all my past interactions with people. Each one adding to who I am today. I am Unique!

Of course, this is true of everyone else too! 😀

Photo Credit: Optimusius1 and PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

May 10, 2014   No Comments

T for Tango, T for Time-out

There’s been so much to do both on the house front and the work front in the last week that I just haven’t had much time for anything else.

Over the years I’ve realised thatnbsp; taking a day-off makes the work-load of the rest of the week easier. This was easy to do in the corporate world where I had designated days off. But as a freelancer, everyday is Sunday.

As a freelancer I get to choose my day off, invariably though that means a 7 day week. There is always stuff to do and so the day off gets put-off. Days of the week blend in until all days feel the same. I don’t notice the Sundays slip by. And slowly an irritability and crankiness sets in. Until I take time off from the daily routine and get over it.

We woke up today to a cool morning with cloudy skies and an intermittent drizzle. As we walked the dogs in a drizzle, I absorbed the day. It was a lovely day after all the sun we’ve had lately. A day of cold winds bearing a fine mist of water that invited a time-out. It was an excellent day to play.

My mind made up I went about all I had to do to free up the day. I wanted to spend today catching up on some interview recordings. But kismet had other plans and electricity was on the blip today. Thanks to it though, after ages Che and I sat down to a game of scrabble. And I won, with a clear margin. :-)

A while back I came across Anna an animal communicator and what she did impressed me so much, I’ve been wanting to learn it too. Last week I came across an Animal Speak Summit and signed up to see what I could learn. But I just haven’t been able to sit down and listen to the interviews for an hour everyday.

Today was a good day as any I figured to listen to the recordings. I managed to listen to two recordings. Were they earth-shattering, not really but it may be too early to judge the summit based on two recordings.

Even though it was time-out day, I got a lot of work done. Some home work, some work work, and even some scrabble. It’s been a very productive day.

Maybe I should take a time-out everyday. 😛

Do you think time-off is important? How often do you take a day off? What do you do on your day off?

May 8, 2014   No Comments

S for Sierra, S for Silence

Silence is golden they say, maybe that is why it seems so loud sometimes. Keeping quiet doesn’t come naturally to me, I have always been a talkative one. Haughty strangers may make me shut-up warily for a bit while I chatter and bitch in my head but otherwise, most times people around me pray for me to shut-up. 😀

The most torturous punishment I remember from childhood is the one in which I had to sit without moving or talking for a stipulated period. Oh, those things were difficult, I hated them. It was the worse punishment my parents could devise, but I guess they are my parents so are a step ahead of me. I can still hear Dad cajoling, threatening, and doing everything else to get me to just shut-up for a few minutes. 😛

I am not my bubbliest with strangers but with my friends it’s like I am talking long and fast to make up for the time we missed. I love talking, I don’t deny that. Talking helps me rant, vent and sort my head out, it clears my thoughts, else it all feels like a jumbled mess in my head.

But there is another reason I think I talk too much, I don’t like silences. Ok, let me correct that, I don’t like some silences. For something that is empty, nothing, silence has so many types. The one I don’t like the most is the uncomfortable silence (like, does anyone?), the ones that make you squirm and wonder what the other person is thinking.

My solution to dealing with an uncomfortable silence, fill it, fill it with inane chatter, insane chatter, random chatter, just about any chatter. There problem solved, there is no more an uncomfortable silence. Though the recipient of my solution may have a all new problem. 😛

I do like silences though, give me a snow capped mountain, a green meadow with yellow daisies, a sun sprinkled beach or a book and I’ll be silent for a long length. Except for the book, all the others can’t be done in the city. As for the book, removing a book and reading it can sometimes be insulting to the person sharing the silence. So what to do?

How do I learn to make myself comfortable in uncomfortable silences? How do I learn to just keep quiet and listen rather than talk? How do I learn to find peace in silence?

These things I’m going to have to figure out. Maybe I’ll start with visualising a beach next time I am in an odd silence. What do you think I should do?

Photo Credit: Nemo and PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

May 7, 2014   1 Comment