Let’s Talk about Birthdays

A few days ago, it was my birthday.

Thanks to a few close people in my life having publicised this on Facebook, the rest of Facebook got to know and the next thing I know, I’m sitting up early the next day replying to posts because, social (media) responsibilities.

Answering your question on as to why I continued to be on Facebook, I learnt (nearly the hard way) that if you happen to be the sole administrator of certain Facebook pages having your profile deactivated results in those pages being hidden / unpublished, which in my case would not have helped. I was vulnerable.

But, the main reason on not mentioning my birthday on Facebook or throwing a party to celebrate the birthday (also note that I don’t surprisingly drink on my birthday, wut.i.know.right,lol #wannabealcoholics) is because I simply do not like (celebrating) my birthday. Emphasis on the my as I love celebrating everyone else’s birthday. Hypocritical, af.

My twenty-something old brain tells me that the refraining of celebrations having begun with my once-religious ways (wut.i.know.right,lol). But as I grew older and approached my late teenage and then adult life, I genuinely grew averse to celebrating my birthday for reasons that baffle me or rather, unknown to me.

The best of my instincts tell me that it might also be the wannabe-hipster-ish-let’s-not-celebrate-major-events-in-life-unless-you-get-married-coz-you’ll-be-a-rockstar-and-it’ll-hopefully-be-once-lol syndrome, which I sincerely hope you understand, if not, go eat a cupcake.

<cue “aww”>

But as I grew older, my two-year studies of psychology (that may have led me to think that I graduated with a post-doctoral certification, wut.i.know.right,lol) likes to think that this form of abstinence (I like how I try to spice it up like my non-existent sex life) may have been an early manifestation of sorts for the type of social anxiety that I feel now WHEN I AM AROUND CROWDS, which may have also been caused by the sort of work I do (that usually revolves around the least number of people #happyloner )

I get anxious.

Lots anxious.

Especially, social (media) anxious because let’s face it, (most of) my life is on social media. I mean, do you know that if there was no internet that I might probably have to learn how to bake cookies, get into shape and sell them at these wash n’ vacuum places wearing a crop top and mini skirt?

<cue Dili> #DramaticSeniIsDramatic

But all said and done, I’m truly grateful to all who called and wished having seen my friends and families initial noise making online. I don’t judge you, no, I do that too, if I already don’t have your birthday written down. Most if not all, wish well and genuinely want nothing but happiness and sunshine in my life and I am truly grateful for it, but as those who are closest to me knows, quieter the better.

Like my first birthday in India. I spent the entire night walking by myself and nomming down ama(h)zing Bengali food for dinner and also treating myself to Gelato ice cream (because, student budgets) and then I come to hostel and find out that my friends had planned a big treasure hunt and dinner (with so many biriyanis!). My heart broke because I was overwhelmed and unsure how to react to these social situations. I was truly happy and awkward. Do you understand now? 

Also, no cake, because you’ll end up eating it, haha. The image above is what actually went down. I mean the cake, you little dirty minded thing.

December Diaries copy

Write soon.

On Productivity

Two things work through my mind as I start typing this out:

On how pretentious a productive person I might sound (loving the alliteration though, can’t help it, slurp);

IT’S BEEN THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW SINCE I WROTE SLASHED BLOGGED. GAH. YAY. OHMYGOSHImuststopbeingasdramatic.

December Diaries copyJokes aside though, I have some productive tendencies. It all comes down to how productive I genuinely want to be. Emphasis on the genuine (and not some as most would’ve assumed, lol), because I have come to realise that I cannot fuck with my brain. It knows when it is urgent and how important it is to me or something on those lines.

So of my twenty-something years on board, here’s what education, work, familial and other relationships have taught me on productivity: 

a) Sleep has nothing to do with this

I don’t know about you, but as a kid I had plenty of autographs. You remember those yes? 90s kids? 80s kids? 70s? 60s, no that was my Mum. But these autographs, (not the funky ones with questions that became a hit in the 2000s) were colourful blank often-perfumed pages for friends, family and loved ones to write nice things about you, so that when you grow old, grey and miserable, life has given you something good to fall back on. I jawk, aren’t I just hilarious? 😀

In one of my first autographs (I may have been 7+), my Mum wrote in it, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a girl healthy, wealthy and wise.” I mean, I’ve always been a night-owl. As a child of seven, I used to clean my desk between 08-10pm every Tuesday night. (I don’t recall what the deal was on Tuesdays though) As an adult, health aside, the wealth and wisdom may have been accumulated from night-time adventures.

FYI, for those who are confused about the sort of work I do, no I do not moonlight as a hooker. My area already has a few prominent bodies who may not be accepting of mine and my body is still not on par with theirs and hence, it comes down to a matter of tough competition.

On the health side of things, yes, your face would look brighter, but then again I have for most part of my life never had the issue of circles or bags under my eyes and have begun using an under-eye cream to prevent any such nuisance in the years to come.

b) Do not however, ignore the importance of sleep

This does not mean that you are to work all night long because you need no sleep, like Jon Snow, you know nothing. Even if sleep does not come naturally to you, while I do not advocate for sleeping pills and what not, if you must, do go ahead with it, if not, try exercising, eating lighter meals and Googling as to how you can sleep better at night. Even if you don’t sleep, try to lie on your bed listening to music. Try to avoid reading or watching anything that will bring additional strain on your eyes, but just chill and hopefully, you’ll fall asleep.

c) Understand your body type / environments you work (best) in

This is a weird productivity tip of sorts, but I think for me to have written the first two points, it took me a while before I figured out that I was a night person. It’s not only night-night that’s most important to me, but also the environment you work in.

For example, when I’m at home, I work into the nights because the house is quieter and everything is really calm. I even tend to workout most at nights. However, if I am travelling for work or on vacation, I do have early night (sometimes as early as 10pm?) because I tend to finish up on work during the day because of the change in environment (and also due to the less number of household chores / responsibilities that you may otherwise have).

It’s best for you to understand on what works for you. For example, while in uni, my roomie was an early bird. So during exam time, I’d study from 10pm – 3am and I’d wake her up when I’m going to sleep where she will study from about 4am till mid morning.

d) Exercise

It’s funny that I speak on exercise because I’m anything but sporty. haha. In school I didn’t do any sports. Probably played badminton for about a year and clearly my Mum’s sports gene had hit neither my older sister nor me.

We don’t really have the most athletic of bodies either and due to our genetic mix, we are the if-you-eat-too-much-you-will-put-on-weight as opposed to the my-metabolism-is-naturally-high types. Towards my late teens and uni in India too had a lot to do with this, I started doing yoga. I started off with a yoga class (not the traditional one, this was at a gym, lol) and then followed a lot of yoga videos online and started reading up more on it. When I started feeling my body becoming stronger, I gradually incorporated more cardio and strength training into my routine and now, I have a relative-commendable schedule of working out thrice a week with some yoga, some cardio, stretching and core-strengthening. I don’t use machines or hit a gym (because of a very bad and funny gym accident I had a few years back); don’t jog (this tropical weather I’m telling you and we have weak-ish knees) and have put together a routine based on various workout videos and articles that strain neither the knees or the wrists.

Exercising has not only helped me fall asleep better at night but also help feel good about myself, especially that I-cannot-climb-up-this-staircase-but-oh-that-feels-good thought. Working out regularly has also made me make a mental note when planning things out because now we have one more thing to incorporate into the schedule!

e) Write your shiz down

As a writer that tries very hard, I essentially enjoy writing. While I was teaching, my students may have hated me, muhaha, but I try to institutionalise the practice of writing wherever I can, just as how I change computer languages from American to British English, HAHAHA.

Writing helps you put things in perspective and also helps you prioritise. I write both on paper and on the terrific Notes app on my laptop and phone. If you want a fancy shiz app, I’m sure there are tonnes on your phone app store that might hit your fancy.

If you are overwhelmed with hundred-and-one things to do and do multiple-thing-including-the-supposed-hooker-moonlighting like me and don’t know where to start, here’s what works for me:

  • Take a blank paper and write down in point or list form every single thing you want to do. These can include things like taking your kid to the doctor’s, calling up your friend to check on last week’s hangover (yes, these things happen and we forget), grocery shopping, paying you internet bill and so on. The list is not a work or house only list, but a list of everything you need to accomplish in life that moment. Of course if you write things like “graduate” then you might as well stay in school, silly goose.
  • Number them! Scan the list thoroughly and number them in order of importance. If some items are equally important, e.g. – shopping for your boyfriend’s birthday next week and finishing up a report, don’t hesitate to use the same number twice, but remember not to overdo it. Ask yourself if you will die, be fired, lose money or a relationship if the task is delayed and the answer is no, then it’s fine to push it to the bottom of the list. Do not mix prioritising with procrastinating, because what’s at the bottom of the list will make it’s way to the top, eventually and be complete.
  • Once the numbering is done, set time or date stamps, giving yourself a grace period as well (especially where client / employer deadlines are concerned).
  • Categorise your tasks then in either order of importance or a date-breakdown or just into baskets where they all belong.

What works best for me is when I put it in to a day plan – basically ten things I plan to achieve in a day (these also include chores and what not) and generic basket plan, where the different tasks are put into categories / clients / employers and then listed out it in the order of importance.

Yes this may sound terrifying, but once you spend time initially and get this ball rolling, encouragement and motivation will find its way here.

d) Deconstruct tasks

This is probably one of my favourite productivity tips that I made a habit while I was living away in India. I would basically breakdown a larger task and do it in small parts so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the thought of it, when either a deadline or task is due. I use this most when it comes to household chores because I’ve seen my Mum clean the house inside out every weekend. For example, if it’s something like cleaning my bathroom, I would clean the floors on one day, the sink / commode on another, the wall tiles on another day and so on. This way, not only will my bathroom constantly be clean but when my loo can take no more, I wouldn’t be stuck in a pile of goo, literally. haha.

e) Incentives

I know, but this is great when you have to force yourself into doing something you don’t like, whether it is a school assignment or a task your line manager delegated to you, and you need that extra motivation to keep you going.

I usually make a mental note to reward myself:

  • if I complete something I’ve been putting off ages because it was too time consuming;
  • complete something I simply do not want to, but have to;
  • continuously work on a task / habit for a period of time. For example, last evening I shopped for some workout clothes because my workout schedule has actually been commendable over the past few weeks!

f) Take time off

I literally cannot speak or write more on this one. It’s a concept that is still new to me as it hasn’t been too long since I myself began practicing it. 

If you work unconventional job(s) or hours like I do, then everyone probably thinks that you lead suchha chill life. <insert image on Snoopy chilling on a beach chair with a Piña colada>

As if.

Chances are that you are (over) working most of the time, probably due to time zone constraints or there is simply too much work and your organisation does not have funding for an additional human resource, hence, alas and you soon start having your weekdays glide into your weekends and vice versa. The next step in this sequence is when you are termed a “workaholic”, “inconsiderate”, “bad relationship person”, “does not have time for family and friends” and so on.

I relate to this because I was this person about a year ago. Then, the words of my first boss / Editor found its way to my head. Six years back he told me,

It’s not about how (many) long (hours) you work, but how smart you work. 

Now, I make it a point NOT to work on Saturdays, I try for the entire weekend, but a Saturday is a start and a good one at that.

I try to take at least one weekend off doing nothing or spending time with family, friends, grocery shopping or travelling.

The break, I’ve grown to realise helps me reset and recharge for the next gruelling week ahead that I actually look forward to.

Word of the day: hustle

g) Spend time building yourself and your relationships 

This is not the yogic mantra nonsense telling you this, but taking time off has led me live somewhat of an offline life (of sorts) or at least to stay a few hours offline, spending time with myself or those whom I adore the most.

I’ll start with myself, because I’m narcissistic. If I have time to kill or purposely am avoiding work because I need a break, I do things that I find therapeutic, workout or just sleep. Even if I sleep in a little longer on a day I intend to wake up early, I have learned to stopped blaming myself because, perhaps the intention was not genuinely present when I fell asleep the night before. Spending time with myself either doing weird yogic nonsense like meditating has also helped me appreciate myself better and also worked a bit on the self confidence.

In case you didn’t realise, the narcissism was a sarcastic plugin.

My “me-time” usually pays off in good (productive) work vibes and that sort of positive chain reactions. I also think that good vibes and positivity goes beyond a hippy acid trip. It’s only natural for you to want to do the sort of work you do (regardless of how much you may not want to or how much you dislike it) when you are in a good mood. 🙂

I also now try to socialise and open up a bit more to family, friends and other favourites when I take time off. I either chill with them, do something fun together or just walk hand in hand to the sunset < #haw ❤ > because not only do we all need to calm the fuck down but also take some time off to appreciate one another by giving them our time.

I haven’t proofed this yet because it turned out WAY longer than I expected, but it’s honestly been something on my mind a long long time and here it is, finally. So excuse the typos and other (many) possible grammatical errors. Some of these work their way into productivity in a weird way (like motivation?), hence the reason I’ve included them in.

Until (hopefully) tomorrow, have a lovely Wednesday.

On Journaling

Let’s not even start with the apologies because it would just be superbly ranty and not pretty and we all know how it would go down, yes? 

A few months or a year into my twenties, I began to identify myself as a writer.  My work before university and this blog to a great extent contributed towards this little thought (it’s been six years on this blog btw, woots!) and then it was a matter of consistently blogging and switching identities between “writer” and “blogger”.

Following graduation I found employment as a writer and did not fall in love with it as expected. Since I’m not a naturally-inclined love at first sight person, I assumed that the “love” would flow in, but it didn’t. The place was great and I have friends with whom I still keep in touch with today, but I felt constantly underworked and under-utilised. Third world pains influenced by industrialisation and slavery, I know.

It was after that, did I find employment in the sort of work that I do today. Like most exciting phases, there was a drop in excitement and momentum and taught me the painful lesson of monotony (which on a regular day I would have an abundance of appreciation for) and moulded me towards making life a journey towards seeking content.

That year of employment too did undergo some amount of changes (for the better) as I found myself in the chair of a story teller, which is a role I am a huge advocate of but never real gave much thought in to playing. There is some writing involved, some writing that involves thought and perception in order to tell stories that I have not attempted to before but the rest of my work seems to have been woven into mundane administrative duties that I am told is a mark of career progression, lol.

One thing that has remained constant and one thing I have tried to keep constant was my compulsive note-taking that on more personal occasions, journal entries.

I’ve kept many journals as a child and even owned a few of those that were literally under lock and key! I think it comes from my need to document things and not relying on my brain to remember and recall information, lol (that education later taught me to have been a trait influenced by colonisers, oops) – and the journal-force was oh-so strong in my pre-teens and early-teenage years.

I like to think that my writing “journey” then moved towards poetry, short stories and of the likes in my mid-teenage years. Once school was out however, the creative writing stopped, the reading (fiction mostly) stopped and I was employed.

University called for the compulsory reading and writing that could not be evaded at no cost and as an English major it was something that would’ve been shameful to outsource!

Much later on, this blog, which was established in my late teens, became a space where I grew to find solace in writing and while I did not get (as) up close and personal with these pieces of writing as I would’ve once been with a journal, it was a happy place to spend time in. It was about the same time that I also began making my writing  and myself (even!) more personal and less private, if that makes sense.

Simultaneously, it was around a similar period of time did I learn that writing like any other activity done with complete attention was a stress reliever of sorts. This led to writing as means of documenting experiences that usually helped some of us better deal with situations.

What happened next however was quite similar to how most people treat religion. I began writing only when I was sad or depressed. When they said good comedy is difficult to write, they weren’t lying.

Looking back at 2015, as I usually tend to when the second half of the year tends to whiz by, it’s not only been a fabulous year overall but it has by far been one of the busiest I can recall to date. I would like to say “few weeks back” but in reality now that I look back on my calendar and planner, it seems like “May” that may have marked the beginning of the rush that I’m still running alongside with, right now. It was constantly a lot of effort that went into balancing work, family, friends, the not-so-sporadic yoga and cardio routines and the new found bundle of happiness. But while the effort did leave me exhausted out of my mind, I was content and at times even insanely happy and ecstatic, which was usually guised in the more socially-approved feeling of content. 🙂

It was then that I resumed journal writing.

Since my relationship with religion seems to be a little afloat the past year or so, I had begun to rely and account myself for the consequences of my actions. Hence, being content was no different.

Why? Because we love additional notebooks to carry around.
Why? Because we love additional notebooks to carry around.

I didn’t see why I had to exclusively limit my writing to sad, miserable thoughts that not only left me less sunny but also helped me recollect my days and understand the running that I was doing a little better. While not a mandatory practice, it is a time that I spend exclusively with myself, calming myself down from the insanities of the world outside and within.

It’s a start to resume the writing I seem to have left behind and hopefully another opportunity for me to call myself a “writer” once again, before I am persuaded to into changing careers, lol.

Week Twenty-Nine: Giving Thanks

Tuesday September 08, 2015

Hello lovelies,

How are you doing today? When I initially put this down on paper, I was seated at a restaurant awaiting lunch – yes, I decided to have lunch yesterday and today as well #win – and was quite amused at how the chap at the restaurant assumed that I was having or rather, waiting on company. #SadLife

We had to go old school to not look _as_ anti-social. You know what I mean?
We had to go old school to not look _as_ anti-social. You know what I mean?

It’s been a week of crazy and the travels are yet to come. The past few weeks, crazy aside, have also been insightful among other things. It’s been a race against time I (think I) don’t have. So rightfully enough, today’s post is a mildly long narration about time and my eternally gratitude towards it.

The weekend we just came out from was one like no other. As an adult who has flexibility and (some) choice when it comes to work hours, managing time and maintaining non-existent self-discipline become really important. I don’t really have as much of both so for as long as I remain “flexible” 😉 it’s bound to be a constant work in progress.

The improvements began when I began taking my Saturdays off. This began a few months ago and I started using my Saturdays to either go out, sleep in or do chores that I may have put off during  the week. This weekend however, I also chose to take my Sunday off.

and boy, did that do me a whole lot of good.

Also, this little self-declared weekend off did not come at a time when I didn’t have work. There was that list of forever-pending to-dos, task lists and backlogs to attend to, but I consciously told myself to stop working and to take some time off, for myself. As a result, I was able to catch up on sleep, spend time with family and the favourite and even watch some early 2000s film on television!

The physical exhaustion however did not go away as hoped, but a day and a half following the weekend (while writing this post) I managed to have the most madly productive and genuinely efficient days I’ve had since a long time.

They brought me tea, without masala! <3
They brought me tea, without masala! ❤

My little exercise taught me that while workaholism is indeed commendable and even though I too am occasionally guilty of it myself, taking some time off to spend time with family, friends, loved ones and most importantly yourself, helps in resetting tasks and life back to what it were.

Because at the end of the day, from the way I see it, unless you are able to appreciate and be grateful for life as it is, searching true happiness and that happy middle will be quite an arduous task indeed. Om.

Giving Thanks

Do have a lovely week my loves!

Week Twenty-Eight: Giving Thanks

August 26, 2015

I officially did not post on Tuesday. Sigh. In my defence, I was travelling and writing my Tuesday posts the previous day does not seem likely anymore.

thumb_IMG_7993_1024
In Kalawana, Ratnapura.

September 01, 2015 

Clearly, the previous post did not see its way to the end either.

I’ve been horrible. Horrible at blogging. Horrible at keeping track of the work I’ve been taking on. Horrible at sleeping. Horrible at eating. Horrible at not having more than four shots of alcohol. Horrible at passing out (out of exhaustion and not drunkenness) standing, sitting half on the floor, while working, with the lights on and the list just goes on.

It’s September and I’m genuinely thrilled about it. Thrilled about the fact that a new month has passed by and that I actually made through it, alive. I think I’d be even more thrilled when September ends given the lists of unfinished work tasks and travels that await. (These are predominantly work travels, yes)

Hustle, is the word the Internet would title me with and that seems like what I’ve been doing since, well, May?

I don’t know but as far as work is concerned all I recall can be narrowed down to: meetings, emails, emails, lists, more lists, calls from people I’d rather not speak to, knocking off out of exhaustion, low pressure and sugar, exhaustion and just exhaustion-induced laziness.

Now that the ranting and excuses are done, let us resume with this week’s list of thankfuls:

  1. 2015: Has been a blessed year so far. There have been a few times when the year did get to me yes, but then that is normal noh. Work has been more than good and life seems to have taken pleasant turns since the second half of this year. The adventure seems like a fun one.
  2. Travel(ling): Never thought this would make it in to the list of thankfuls but hey, what do you know! I’ve been privileged I would say, to travel as part of work this year and did see many places within the country that I may have simply overlooked before.
  3. People: are universal creatures of happiness, wonderment and respect. Despite differences in culture, location and sometimes language; people always find solidarity in just being I don’t know, people and that common human nature to be, human.
  4. Family and friends: have been my main sources of strength, food and transportation. Haha. They’ve also been crazy supportive and tolerant of everything that has happened so far this year. Also, big shout out to the “new” friends I’ve made this year as well.
  5. Love: because who wouldn’t be thankful for it, now? 🙂

Giving Thanks

What are your thankfuls for this week?

Week Twenty-Seven: Giving Thanks

Yes, I did almost forgot today’s post. 😮

Who cannot when half the country is seemingly on vacation and all you end up doing is catching up on work!

Not a lot went down last week, but I did manage to sneak in half a mini-holiday somewhere in between because let’s face it, I may have died out of exhaustion if not. Or just lived, to be a very miserable person.

I escaped to the cold-land, which isn’t really my cup of tea on usual circumstances but hey, life is all about new experiences yes, yes, noh?

(A) room(s) with a view, literally.
(A) room(s) with a view, literally.

I am genuinely thankful for having taken the mini-holiday because, like the lovely Surovi says, it helps put things in perspective and it sure did. It also helped clear my mind of things that I should ideally not be bothered by and did a whole lot of good overall.

It may have also stirred in me the travel bug that was buried somewhere within, I don’t know.

I mean dam(n), who cannot get enough of Victoria?
I mean dam(n), who cannot get enough of Victoria?

Keeping this short because work lies ahead and well, a generic word of thankfulness seems more than sufficient at the moment.

I hope all you babies are well.

Giving Thanks

What are your thankfuls for this week?

Week Twenty-Six: Giving Thanks

Hello my beautiful people,

In this week’s account of thankfuls I choose to give thanks to one special person celebrating his birthday today: Nivendra. He and I have known each other since university days (with this chap being my senior and “Lankan” big brother – lol) and now a good friend and partner in “good” crime. haha.

If someone were to ask me why I am thankful for this chap, all I can say is, why not?

Not only has he helped me out back in the day, today, this boy is an inspiration to countless others, including myself. I reconnected with Nivendra this year when I was curious as to what Letter Earthlings was. Little did I know it was another initiative founded, funded and run by this boy.

We should all be thankful to Nivendra because of his ample generosity and kind heart. The latter of which often gets him and trouble more often than he knows. For people like Nivendra, it’s difficult to even put on a facade of being a cold-blooded person unlike some of us! 😀

He doesn’t need a lot of things in life. Just an abundance of stationery, washi tape, good food and maybe some weed and he’d be a happy boy. haha.

I hope you have a good day sunshine. Here’s to many more happy birthdays to come.

Giving Thanks

What are your thankfuls for this week?

Week Twenty-Five: Giving Thanks

Hello lovelies,

It’s not a very sunny day. The weather gods seem to be having a little Carly Rae Jepsen water fight with each other and the fever seems to be unkind to my body. Haw.

Writing this in between a fever break, so here are my list of thankfuls for this week:

  1. Family: For all the koththmalli, spinach and food that seem to find its way out of my mouth. They don’t stop trying though! 😀
  2. My two new “chauffeurs” 😀 – This also includes the Mother yes, and she is family, but these two drivers of mine required much convincing from my end, to ensure that I will be okay when I go to doctor’s, just to get some meds. Thank you for putting up with my plain ol’ stubborn self. You will get used to it, in time 🙂
  3. Friends: The ones online and offline who keep me entertained!
  4. The Nice People at Softwave: where I had left my phone while heading out (and panicked in fear when I thought I had left it in the took!) and were nice enough to hold on to it till I got back
  5. My Nature of Work: for it allows me to dress down as much as I want and not really give a shit about not only undone eyebrows (that’s all done now, btw 😉 ) but also, really baggy trousers enough for two.

Giving Thanks

What are your thankfuls for this week?