28 Ways to Make 2019 Great

One of my best memories this year was my sister getting married. Photo credits to Affinity & Beyond.

I’ve been writing this post since the start of December. Since December 02nd I’ve been drafting the first bits in my mind and on the 04th I took it to paper/screen. Every blog post that I take 800 days to churn now becomes a work in progress. It no longer is an affair of sitting down and writing a post at a time. It takes a few days to construct. I don’t know if this means that the writing has become more difficult. Or if the writing is getting better and therefore needs time to build, curate and nurture. Or perhaps I’m running out of time to write all the things I have in my head.

A similar post helped put things in perspective last year, so since perspective is something I’m always looking for, this seemed like a good idea.

December has always been a bit of a difficult month for me. Besides the month being the birthday of Daddy Cool aka Jesus Christ (no offence, my Christian friends), it’s also the family birthday month. But it is also the end of the year. See thankfully I’m not one of those “it’s a new year, new me” types (for those wondering, I believe that change can happen every day). It might have been more dramatic than this. As in the words of Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, “there is room for only one hysterical queen” and clearly that queen is not me!

But December is difficult. It is the end of the year and since some of are rounding off accounts and some countries present budgets for the incoming financial year (some, except ours) you cannot help but do one of those quick evaluations of yourself. The last quarter of the year always makes me wonder what I had achieved during the year, if I had done anything productive if not substantive or if my existence was simply a replica/continuation of what was written in last year’s blog post.

But amidst these questions and in trying to keep with one of the very few traditions I attempt at abiding by, here are 28 takeaways (in no particular order) from 2018 and hopefully ones that help make 2019 better than it should be.

  1. I learnt how to deal with grief. I realised through videos, talking to others who’ve dealt with grief and generic readings on the Internet on the importance of not letting grief manifest within me but to instead embody it and allow it to be with you as you move on in life. Because for me, I’ve learnt (even in my 2017 post) that I not only heal best alone but I cannot truly let go or forget of all things. Instead, it’s best that I don’t fight and attempt (and fail at forgetting it) and take it along with me and maybe even plonk it in my handbag.
  2. I learnt to let go of some things (not grief necessarily), having realised that regretting and pondering on things you couldn’t do at a time or you could’ve done better doesn’t really matter now. It doesn’t also make a difference for the damage or the lack of initiative has already been made. Instead of beating myself up about it, I’ve learnt to accept it for what it is. This has been a work in progress for over ten years and I think I’ve finally managed to master it. hurray me.
  3. Speaking of regret, I enhanced (haha!) my insight on regret and learnt how I best I could work towards keeping it away from me or allowing myself anywhere near it. It’s usually best kept all the way in the back of the bus.
  4. While putting people and memories away, I also renewed relationships this year. Some I have pushed away from my life, to the back of the bus while others have taken the front seat. I’ve become aware of the importance of shifting priorities so that it becomes the best fit for my mental and physical wellbeing.
  5. Continuing my bus story, I have grown to accept that those sulking at me from the back of my bus do not matter to me and neither do their opinions. In fact, I couldn’t care less. I not only realised that I already have too many problems in my life to deal with (as we all do) and too much self-doubt to overcome, that I couldn’t care less about someone else’s negativity or opinion of me. Their baggage of me is not my baggage and therefore, it does not belong in my conveyor belt (I hope all my travel symbols are foresight into amazing adventures in 2019 haha!).
  6. I realised that you can pick up hobbies as an adult. Or at least new interests.
  7. I learnt that fitness and wellness don’t come to you easy. Only fat and calories that won’t leave you will allow themselves to be easily absorbed like the negative people in your life. It’s your decision on how you choose to control them.
  8. Speaking of which, I learnt that being fit and well is a choice. If you really want to be your healthiest self, you can do it so as long as you put your mind to it.
  9. Such as cooking! I enjoyed cooking more than I did last year and have some serious gains with speed.
  10. I learnt that sharing knowledge will only bring you more knowledge. Or let you absorb and learn new things.
  11. I also learnt to set financial goals and become more aware of spending and saving habits. I realised that having such goals will also help with aspirations to look forward to in life, such as travel.
  12. While becoming more aware of money, I also learnt that money is a good motivator to get things done.
  13. Important family became closer to me while I put the remainder of them to the back of the bus.
  14. I realised that I can not only write wedding speeches on behalf of the groom but my writing skills have also expanded to writing eulogies.
  15. In 2018, I learnt that it was important to run behind what you wanted. No good comes to those who wait around for it.
  16. I’ve also learnt in 2018 to enjoy solitude, peace, the quiet and my awesome company.
  17. I also learnt something which I call “positive guilt”. To continuously articulate something so much so that you finally end up doing it. It worked for me with travel and to some extent with my savings.
  18. I also found out that (some) women and small groups of people will always motivate one another and have each other’s best interests.
  19. I also learnt that competition is not bad. Not only are you expected to work better, harder and smarter but there is more often than not enough to go around (and share even with your competition).
  20. I learnt that kindness towards others will never get you in trouble. Even if it does at that moment, your kindness will reflect back when you perhaps least expect it.
  21. I learnt that you can be more useful than you think you might be.
  22. I embraced the joy of trying to sleep before midnight and waking up with the sun rising.
  23. With this new morning routine, I also began to appreciate sunrises better.
  24. Speaking of the sun, I was fortunate enough to see multiple sunsets from different parts of the world.
  25. Speaking of travel, I learnt so much from travelling while on work and for fun (mostly on my own) and I also realised that travelling doesn’t have to always involve a visa stamp.
  26. In 2018, I reaffirmed (to myself) that happiness is a non-permanent state of being. I also if you are unhappy and find yourself in the pits, to always remember that there is nowhere to go but up.
  27. Speaking of happiness, the year also taught me to not miss things. I learnt that if you never had something you not only never knew what it would have felt like but you also wouldn’t miss anyway.
  28. Finally, I learnt that regardless of what happens, the show must and will always continue to go on.

#ThinkSunny

Week Thirty-Five: Giving Thanks

It’s been over a year (and more!) since I visited this side of town and I’m just going to continue from the last week because no one has time to be setting up new processes.

It has been a long time and a lot has happened, duh. But let’s not try to get too ambitious and call this a weekly practice, but a frequent practice of being thankful to what’s around me.

  1. The (newish) construction of our daily use by-road – first things first, I’m in my late 20s and I get super excited about new shortcuts and homeware purchases. Having said that, this particular road, while may not necessarily be a ‘shortcut’ in the traditional sense, does help us avoid a fuck tonne of traffic. It’s always been a really bad road and I silently (always) apologise to my tires and the misery I put it through. But recently they had reconstructed it and also added the much-needed speed breakers to avoid us getting too fast and too furious on it. But yay, for new roads!
  2. My mum and I finally went to the homeware-some-clothes-type discount store in my area. True enough we shopped quite a bit but these included some birthday presents and many 2019 Eid presents too. Woohoo.
  3. I’m thankful for mad productivity levels and the shitty days too. I’ve realised that my productivity is not consistent. I’m pretty sure that I’m not burning out and I take extra-precaution not to but somehow, Monday and Tuesday work out great and then Wednesday turns out to be an utter-fucking-flop. But still, I manage to bounce back on Thursday so all’s well.
  4. Speaking of bouncing (I love that epic transition though), I began a rebounding class! It looks a little like this. Or at least I look a little like this.
    It’s balls of fun. It’s not HIIT and in fact is a low-intensity workout that works well for me. I do these classes with Playmore and I’m quite thrilled with myself for having gone for a few classes, yay.
  5. My sister is back! I know all of you must think that I complain about Akki a lot, lol, I do. But then I realise that I do that a lot about the people closest to me. I analyse and justify my reasons for doing so as being me being able to show that I can live without anyone when in actuality I probably can’t. Haha.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you have a good week ahead!

#ThinkSunny

27 Ways to Make 2018 Great

To Bhagya – who reflects along with me, even from a distance.

One of the most beautiful sunrises I have been fortunate enough to have woken up to. Orissa, India – December 2017

This was supposed to come in as a birthday post but that didn’t happen. New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing but most of 2017 has been spent a lot with a good deal of self reflection that has obviously resulted in the following. Here’s how I intend to make 2018 the Year of “Now”.

1. Be grateful

It’s not as though I was not grateful for 2017, but it’s fair to say that gratitude din’t come easy. I’ll hopefully be giving thanks once a day, I don’t know. I usually have a problem with…

2. Be(ing) ambitious. 

It’s funny why this is a problem because I consider myself to be mildly narcissistic anyway, haha. But it doesn’t hurt to think a little more, dream a little bigger and know that if I aim for the stars that I will land somewhere on a coconut tree.

3. Take time off

I’ve been doing a lot of this already in 2017 be it when driving alone, eating alone or not doing anything significant. Hopefully there will be more of this in the year ahead.

4. Spend time with family

I would like to nail it down to age but family has become an integral part of my being. I can’t imagine life without family. While part of me lives in my fragmented memories of India a greater part of me is able to find roots here thanks to the time I’ve spent with my family. Here’s to being rooted for longer.

5. Spend time alone

I heal best when alone. There’s no harm in having a little extra healing as backup either.

6. Travel Sri Lanka more

Despite the shit state the country is in, I have love for this island. Work has been fortunate enough to take me around and here’s to seeing more of it.

7. Travel India more

2017 was glorious. Work once again took me to India a few times and Nepal, once. These travels have helped me find home in places I think I find myself.

8. Be at peace with myself

It’s still a work in progress.

9. Embrace myself

Because self-criticism comes easier. Here’s hoping that 2018 will not be rough.

10. Take each day as it comes

Because life is so fickle and we never know what the future has in store for us.

11. Save more

To help yourself, to help others and to see the world.

12. Take care of more people

Because altruism saves the world that helps save yourself.

13. Take care of myself

I’ve been falling sick more than I would have liked to. The last quarter of 2017 was rough. I’ve made friends with more hospital staff than I would’ve liked to. Here’s to healing and looking after my old soul.

14. Write more
To heal and to reflect. I’ve not been doing this as much as I should’ve. Hopefully giving thanks every night should set things right.

15. Connect more with colleagues

I like to compartmentalise my relationships. Never let one see what the side another would. Colleagues would always remain at work and friends at the bar. But 2017 has taught me that blurring the lines between the two can bring about changes, good changes. Here’s to opening up and making friends out of colleagues.

16. Appreciate nature

By being one with nature. Not seeing the world through a screen in 2017 has helped me be more in awe with everything around us, like sunrises.

17. Look forward to things

Yes, the very things I put down in my planner.

18. Compliment more

Especially women. I am unsure how men feel about complimenting each other but women feel great when other women compliment them and what better way than to uplift spirits of your sisters?

19. Say NO

To things I don’t want to do. The world has evolved, I’ve matured and I can say no when I want to.

20. Write more letters

Because letters heal. It heals those who write letters and it heals those who read them.

21. Try harder

Without giving up easily. While I do believe that good things take time, I can also be impatient in seeing results. Here’s to trying harder and not giving up easily.

22. Believe

In myself, in something.

23. Forgive myself

If not it would be difficult to believe in myself.

24. Heal

Because if have not healed, I will not be able to take care of myself. 

25. Breathe deeply more often

Use the app or just practice it in traffic while driving. Breathing calms me down and brings clarity when things are blurry.

26. Meditate

A little bit everyday. Yes, I fail. Drift off to sleep. Deviate. Think of things I have to do tomorrow but it doesn’t matter.

27. Reflect

At the end of the year to see how far I’ve come. There’s no turning back now.

Picture – Sunrise at around 0614h in Puri, Orissa.

Let’s Talk about Personal Space

See I’m a closed up person. I’m not the book type where the more you get to read, the more I open up. In fact, I feel as though you are the wrong type of reader or you just don’t spend enough time in a library, you will be getting to read a different book. Actually, for every reader that gets the right book, every wrong reader gets a different book because, different approaches and let’s face it: I don’t want you comparing notes with each other.

However, (keeping in line to the excellent book analogy because I’m fabulous for thinking of it in the first place) all readers alike get a common introduction. #NoHate #AllLivesMatter I like to (try to) be funny, a bit chatty, open to listening and being a cheerleader about saving the world and spreading sunshine on rainy days #haw

Still for all, there are few things I don’t speak much on for various reasons among which include:

(Local and International) Politics

No, I’m not trying to be diplomatic about it. Truth be told, unless it’s the UNFCCC or your names happen to be Trudeau or Macron, I’m not interested in knowing about you either. Mostly because I am a little blissfully unaware about what really goes on. Shameful I know, but I’m not lying when I say that it bores me. Sometimes to near death. I’m not proud of it needless to say but at least I’m being honest about it and avoid partaking in conversations I don’t quite understand much of.

On How Parents Should Parent their Children

Of course I will give ample advise on how I would raise my unborn children and in my mind write countless blog posts about how wrong I think you are raising your own. But, I for one will most likely not be able to afford any of my own and since you are bravely raising children, I genuinely do believe that you have a better idea of what you are doing with your kid(s), I think.

Education

While education is essential and a right for all, let’s face it. In reality, not everyone has access to it and due to various reasons, those who do have access to it sometimes leave it behind due to commitments, financial concerns, more lucrative job offers and the genuine lack of interest in wanting to study. While education is one way towards the road of smart(dom), it isn’t the only way and learning happens in everyday life and not just in an institution.

Sexuality and Gender

I added both, despite knowing very well that one is different from the other because I am unable to clearly explain as to how one differs from the other. My Gender Studies lecturer from 2012/2013 will be disappointed, I know. But like what you may, who you may and do whomever you please, so as long as you stay away from my man, you and I can always, ALWAYS drink together. I’ll even buy you a round.

Body Size

Let’s just say, #AllBodiesAreBeautiful

and they are! If you are unable to see beyond that, you and I clearly cannot be friends.

Facebook Relationship Statuses

If you are not on Facebook, well I don’t think this would apply to you, but irrespective of you being single, married, widowed, divorced and any other new type of relationship you choose to be in, I’m chill, with the exceptions of you either complaining about your chosen status or making out with you bae next to meet when we meet every four months for dinner. (ew)

Religion

These include the beliefs and practices of my own, of yours and those around us. Unless otherwise provoked with hateful comments on any religion, I will continue to believe that all religions speak of love, unity and togetherness because that’s what all religions preach. I think.

Coz we all love the pope.

This also means that I bear judgement (maybe a bit on parenting one tho) and have no biases (unless you are a child of war or divorce) on the different perspectives you and the rest of the world choose to believe in.

Because, personal space right?

We will soon speak on religion and agnosticism. However, if the sun chooses to shine and rays of inspiration hit me, I will speak of travels.

Week Thirty-Four: Giving Thanks

Oh hello to you too! I have a list of thankfuls for today because it seems like one of those days to be thankful for because it seems to be the only thing that makes sense just about now:

  1. Taking notes! A weird thing to be thankful for but the past few days have been really crazy and thanks to the 800 notes I have taken, things don’t seem too bad during this recovery period.
  2. The weather Gods for not raining on my lovely friend’s wedding. I’ve uploaded pictures on my Instagram. Just sayin’
  3. The little miracles that seem to be hitting me since the past few weeks. Makes me realise that things are not too bad after all.
  4. Upcoming holidays I plan to take with my favourite people, yay!
  5. Sobriety (ish) and I’ll leave it like that.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Week Thirty-Three: Giving Thanks

It’s March in 2017 and not only have I neglected this space but have also not been blogging. Sigh. There has been too much going on really. But then when I think about it, there hasn’t really been a lot going on. You know like when you are really busy but then it’s difficult to explain as to why you’ve been busy at the same time? Yes, that.

But it’s at times like these that I remember more than ever the things I am thankful for. To me, it’s that sort of motivation to keep going, keep fighting and pulling that Kelly Clarkson whenever possible.

I know it’s Thursday (and not Tuesday) but here is my current  list of thankfuls in no particular order:

  1. The amazing people whom I have met and embraced to my life recently. I’m not one to make new friends, let alone fast friends but I have learnt that it isn’t too bad after all.
  2. Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
  3. The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
  4. My family for making me food when I don’t ask them to and folding my clothes when I ask them not to (specifically my Mother, haha).
  5. Sleep and kottu roti – sometimes the best way to get away from problems and life alone is to find yourself a really nice kottu and go sleep on life itself.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Let’s (try to) Talk about Sex Education?

It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to speak on for a long time, but haven’t for the usual reasons, i.e.- procrastination and then for the more diplomatic reasons on whether we should speak about it at all. Because I mean after all, these sort of topics are saved for after marriage and I’m not married noh.

See but then this post is not about having sex. Don’t get me wrong. It’s more on the need for educating people about sex. Also most of these images are shamelessly stolen off the Internet.

If you do want to know more about sex and the works, I would suggest some sort of magazine or website and in other unrelated news, Playboy is bringing back nudes!

***

This post on the other hand was inspired partly by one of my drivers. We were driving back from Kurunegala a few days ago and he tells me,

මිස් දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day  වල තමයි වැඩියෙන්ම ගෑණු ළමයි දූෂණය වෙන්නේ.”

Translation: Do you know that the most number of girls get raped on Valentine’s Day?

And no, I didn’t know that (and I don’t know if it is true). And yes, this post was to come out on Valentine’s Day but then I got busy with work (no there were no Valentine’s celebrations from this end as we are too old for that you know, lol) and never got around to it.

However, this conservation with my driver led to us talking about sex education, rape, contraception, family planning, STDs and unwanted pregnancies that these girls clearly knew nothing of.

See, before we go any further let’s throw out a few disclaimers for ol’ times sake but mostly because we live in a supposedly sensitive as fuck world where everyone seems to take offence for everything. Also since we are talking about “adult” topics, we will be swearing because, duh.

  • This post is not meant to draw sympathy on women.
  • Neither is this post aimed at penalising men.
  • Nor does it conform to the norm that women are victims and men are those at fault.
  • I will only focus on the male and female genders and  heterosexual relationships because these are the populations that have easily accessible data and stuff.
  • Also:
just letting ya'll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)
just letting ya’ll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)

 ***

Since this post has been coming a few days and I’ve lost my train of thought one too many times for my liking, let me try to go through a few reasons as to why I think we need to speak more on sex, having sex and well most importantly, having safe sex.

just sayin'
just sayin’

Consent 

I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-23-23-03

A lot of the time, rape takes place when the “victim” (we are trying to be gender neutral here) has no idea that what is happening to them is wrong. This is true especially in the case of children and rape within their own families. I also have no numbers and statistics to back this information. If you are looking for a good read with numbers I strongly recommend the Bill and Melinda Gates Open Letter.

So it’s pretty simple right? If someone does something without the other’s permission, or consent, it is a violation of their rights or privacy or something on those lines.

Eg: – A few weeks ago someone took away the (my) laptop I was working on to show another some screen on Facebook, without asking me. No consent!

If you are still confused, the following video explains it thoroughly as well. I recommend you watch it as a family or a classroom – though I’m very well aware that my audience does not attract such people, haha.

The Birds and the Bees

Okay, I get it. I’m Sri Lankan too and my Mum never spoke to me about the birds and the bees. And still to date as a twenty-something year old I’m confused as to what the birds and the bees have to do with this. Why can’t we go more Freud about it and call it a lock and key or snake and window or you get the point. Or if you don’t, your mind is not dirty enough to be reading this post. 

Again, if you do have five minutes at hand, this is a very good video to watch or show the children around you.

See, a lot of the time, when there is no education or well discussion on what really happens when people have sex, it leads to things like, you guessed it, rape!

There is no shame in talking about it to children and truth be told, if I were to have kids, I would start speaking to them or introducing the concept of sex from primary school. It would not only teach them what they ought to do to protect themselves but also teach them the right way of treating others and respecting them.

True we have Google and most in my generation, a few before and all those younger to me rely on the Internet for information. However, the Internet too has come a long way since early Millennium dial-up and information sharing. It has become more vital than ever for everyone to not only cross check news sites (because fake news brings money too, it seems) but also inquire on the authenticity of information provided. Hence, if parents or adults are not going to speak to their kids about this, they will only rely on the Internet for (mis)information.

I asked my Mother recently as to why she never told me about how children are made / babies are born. She laughed it off and said that I knew more than she did. While I did laugh along with her because it was funny, it did also dawn on me that there are many kids out there who are incapable of having such conversations with their parents. What are they to do then? 

Contraception 

I saved the best for last because I believe that contraception becomes the solution to a lot of unwanted and unplanned situations including STDs and (not so) happy accidents.

Okay, let’s assume that consent has been attained and now two individuals (no I’m not looking at sexual relations with more than two people so don’t be offended) are maybe going to have sex for the first time. So no, they won’t get STDs and that box is checked. However, in the case of a heterosexual relationship, what about the risk of pregnancy?

If it amounts to anything on the lines of progress, which I think it is, some of the Healthguard Pharmacies here in Sri Lanka now not only sell condoms on shelves but also have emergency contraceptives as well. I think this is great as it not only reduces the risk of anything you are not really ready to have for but most importantly reduces the stigma and mental strain someone would have to go through when asking for it over the counter.

On another positive note, Sri Lanka is a country that does not require prescriptions for Oral Contraceptive Pills or OCPs. I don’t really know what this means in a medical sense, but as a layman or woman, I think this is a great progressive step as it again shortens the number of steps one would have to climb when wanting to have safer sex and access to contraceptives. While there isn’t a plethora of choices to choose from, I guess this is a start of sorts.

sorry, Google.
sorry, Google.

If you are interested, here is an excellent compilation done by Pew Research on abortion policies across the world.

Other suggested reading:

The least we can do from our end is to probably talk about it more to well, normalise it in to general conversation so that there will be no stigma when anyone would want to ask questions about it (as opposed to Googling for an answer).

There is no shame in parents or teachers speaking to their children or educating students on sex and all the other safety precautions they need to know because it would seriously do this country a world of good. See, once the discussion is out there in the open there would be criticism and probably a ban on speaking about the topic in open (like in the case of the big matches) but until that time, there is a sense of responsibility from every generation to the next.

#ThinkSunny

Let’s Talk about “Gay Marriage”

For the record, I’m neither gay nor am I married.

Second, I add the phrase “gay marriage” in inverted commas because I don’t even see how a “gay” marriage is any different to a “regular” marriage between two “heterosexual” people. As far as I know, marriage is a union of love, gay or otherwise. Or one of convenience, if Jane Austen was bae.

Third, I’m quite aware of the sort of possible criticism that this post might gather and my dear fragile heart (apparently I do have one after all) might not even be able to handle it. But it’s been bothering my pea brain and of course if this means that I’m finally going to blog about it, so be it.

Fourth and finally, my research might be flawed. I’m not well read on the topic and have only bits and bobs of information I sourced through the Internet.

***

download

According to the news there was talk of Sri Lanka “decriminalising homosexuality” (I suppose that would be the first step towards gay marriage) and then in less than a day this proposition was called off. I also made the mistake of reading the comments in this news article – the comments are not for the faint hearted.

In fact when American legalised gay marriage nearly two years ago and Facebook suddenly had an influx of all these colourful profile pictures. I mean this is great and all. No doubt about that. But the question my pea brain had in mind was as to how the world came to a state where the right to marriage was a question of gender and not of more important things like age or mental stability? However, those in America who were able to be married as a result of the events of 2015, good on you no doubt.

With Sri Lanka though, it’s a different story all together. Our friend in the city actually put together a video I am happy to share and that’s not even because of my favourite friend Dili. They walked around “progressive” Colombo and asked people their thoughts on legalising same-sex marriage / “decriminalising homosexuality”. The word “decriminalise” makes me wonder what sort of word rapists of paedophile get. Again some content is not for the faint hearted. It doesn’t scare you like a horror movie. It just makes you sad to realise that there are people (probably the same age as you are) that think aeons different to you do. Also that there might still be people who have no idea on what they might be talking about to start with. Here, I specifically refer to the loose use of the word “culture”.

What nags my ignorant self is probably not knowing as to why the world need a “special” law passed in order to practice the right to love. 

And I’m not even the romantic one in my present relationship.

Until next time.

#ThinkSunny