Thursday, March 23, 2017

5 Little Joys



Most of the joys I have experienced came to me unexpectedly. Nothing was planned. I guess happiness always comes exactly that way: in tiny packages.

My home library:

 I have a small home library which contains my favorite books.

 I am adding to it every now and then. I can spend hours in a bookstore searching for more books to add to my collection.

 Books by my favorite authors like Anita Nair, Chitra Divakaruni, Julia Quinn, Nicolas Sparks, Dan Brown, Nandita Bose, Nora Roberts, Cecilia Ahern, Jojo Moyes, Rainbow Rowell and Anuja Chauhan dominate my collection.


Over the period of the last few years, I have created many paintings, portraits, and sketches which had given me joy while I had created them. Art still continues to cheer me up. When I feel a need to cheer up, I pick up my pencil.


My iPhone:

I didn’t want an iPhone ever. I was smitten by my smartphone with a large screen and hence every time my husband attempted to gift me one, I refused.

 Then after a particularly bad experience with a smartphone which had to be returned days after it was purchased, he asked me to try an iPhone, promising he would exchange his smartphone with mine if I found the iPhone not to my liking.

Now my iPhone is my joy. It helps me plan my day, write, take super clarity photos, videos and makes me exercise. I have become a fan.


My Laptop:

My laptop is a mini encyclopedia which stores records of all my favorite things in the world. More than anything, all my writing is done on my laptop and hence I can say it is the origin of my joys. With the amount of time I spend online, I can’t imagine being without my laptop for even a single day.

My Debut Novel ‘Without You’:

Like every author, I consider my first novel my baby. It has given me so much joy from the moment it germinated in my mind. 

All the appreciation I have received from complete strangers through emails, messages and reviews make my day. 

I do not market it excessively and most of the publicity it got was from mouth to mouth publicity. 

Yet, it has become an Amazon best seller. It was #1 best seller more than twice on Amazon India and has always remained in top 50 from the time it was published. Today it is #3 on Amazon India Best Seller List.

#1 Position on Jan 11, 2016
Thank you, Universe for the little joys that you send my way.


 This post is written for #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by Amrita, Tina, Mayuri, and Deepa.

Yay, it is voted as a top post!
Indian Bloggers

Monday, March 20, 2017

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal



This is my third time doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Both the times I did random posts from A-Z. And in 2015, I did it on two blogs.

This time though, I am planning to follow a theme.

I believe that as writers, we need to learn something new every day. We grow with every word that we write.

We need pointers to guide us in the path that we tread. We need a clear idea as to how to accomplish what we are aiming at.

Many of us lose confidence midway because we face multiple hurdles in our path.

One of the major hindrances in the path of writing a novel is that many don’t have a clear idea about how to put together a 60K-80K plus manuscript. 

We all can write a short story. 

But writing a novel often feels like an uphill task.

There are many aspects that help us to easily put together a good novel.

I wish to inspire aspiring writers to go on this very interesting journey of discovering the various aspects of novel writing with me.

I am sure by now you would have guessed what my theme is, still here you go. My theme is:

A-Z Journey of Writing a Novel explained with examples from Literature

Daily, I will focus on one essential element of novel writing with the help of letters of the English alphabet. I would mention other important aspects as well for each letter.

Why this theme?

I am a published writer, with an Amazon best-seller novel and a few anthologies to my credit.  I took a Master’s Degree in English literature for the sheer love of it though I am qualified and worked as a Civil Engineer for more than a decade. 

My second novel is in the process of getting published and I am a few chapters into my third novel. 

(Another incomplete manuscript lies unattended in my word folder since last year)

So, this theme is very close to my heart. I love writing fiction. Yet, I consider myself a beginner. 



Update: Due to some personal reasons, I am opting out of the A-Z challenge this year. 


Friday, March 17, 2017

Morning Pages : A Quick and Magical way to Creative Recovery


If there is one routine that has changed me as a person, it is the Morning pages.

 It has given me clarity of thought like never before and made me see the big picture in life.

 I write faster now, with clarity and often solve many confusing conundrums while doing this daily ritual.

What are Morning Pages?

Julia Cameron calls the morning pages as ‘the bedrock tool for a creative recovery.’

Morning pages are three pages written in longhand immediately after you wake up. That is three handwritten pages.

It can take around half an hour to complete.  

It is a stream of consciousness way of writing where you just transcribe the thoughts that are hovering in your mind early in the morning.

 It is to be done without putting much focus on the grammar or the topic you are writing about.

 It is in a way making your brain vomit on the pages. 

And *most important* don’t reread them.



Why morning pages and not afternoon pages or evening pages?

Early in the morning, your monkey brain is half asleep and hence you can easily make it voice the venom it is preparing to spew out on you, once it becomes fully awake.

 Your anxieties, your fears, your dreams, your ideas, everything gets captured in these three pages that you write.

There are people who do this ritual in the afternoon or evenings and find the same benefits.

I, personally, prefer to write them first thing in the morning.

Can I type the morning pages?

Some people do the morning pages on their laptop or computer. 

It is then 750 words of stream of consciousness way of writing.

It keeps tracks of the number of words and alerts you when you reach the word limit.

Morningpages.net  allows users to write their morning pages online and save them. You don't even need to register at the site if all you want is to just write.

Again, I prefer to write longhand. There is something very satisfying about writing in longhand.

My experience with morning pages

I started writing morning pages in the first week of December. 

It is a routine I have religiously followed since then and I plan to stick with it.

The morning pages have made me more confident about my creativity. 

I don't get writer's block anymore.

They also gave me different ideas that I could implement in my life.

 Other Personal takeaways?
  • I got ideas to blog about.
  • I have written difficult scenes in my WIP that were troubling me since long after I dissected them over in this morning ritual.
  • I have tried out techniques of writing by attempting them in my morning pages.
  • I plotted an entire book idea one morning.
  • I have become more conscious about the little things that matter in life.
  • I completed one short story, which had been going nowhere, within one week of beginning the morning pages.
  • I have vented my anger and sadness in these pages.
  • I am more perceptive and grateful to the gifts that I have in my life.
  • Synchronicity has become commonplace.
I can go on and on about the benefits I have experienced after I began this routine.

How to write the morning pages?

As Julia Cameron herself says,

" *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. 

They are not even “writing.” 

They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. 

Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.

 Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

The only important thing to remember is, do not re-read your morning pages. At least not for the first eight weeks.

Write them and keep the journal away.

 If you find it difficult to begin you can even write things like,’ I don’t know what to write here’ repeatedly and fill the three pages.

Trust me, you will get enough material to write about even if you are not a writer by profession.

Morning pages are for everyone. It is like meditation on paper.

Are you ready to unleash the magic of morning pages in your life?

Have you tried this technique? Do tell me what you think about it in the comments section.






Indian Bloggers

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Make a Sound Investment with Cochlear

Hearing loss is considered to be the most prevalent congenital abnormality in newborns. 

360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.


 1.1 billion people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. 


50% of hearing loss is preventable.


The above statistics are provided by the World Health Organization. Check some more disturbing data as well.

Hearing Loss

    

Most of us are unaware of these facts. Like every mother, I go into panic mode when my child exhibits any sign of illness. 

We celebrate the milestones they achieve at every stage of their growth. The first smile, the first step, the first word… everything becomes moments to cherish.  

If they exhibit any delay in attaining these milestones, we approach the pediatricians with our never-ending questions. We become paranoid and start troubling our Gods with fervent prayers.

I do make sure that I take my kid for regular health checkups. Be it for eye tests or any other test prescribed by the pediatrician. 

But I had never taken him for a hearing test. I guess it is the same story for the majority of Indian mothers.

Hearing ability is the most neglected among all our senses. Hearing loss is mostly silent and gradual.

 According to doctors, early detection, reliable diagnosis, and timely intervention can help us protect this precious gift that we take for granted.

Causes of hearing Loss?
Image Source

The major causes are:

·         Ear infections
·         Birth defects
·         Aging process
·         Head or ear injuries
·         Ototoxic reactions to drugs
·         Exposure to excessive noise


According to statistics, five out of 1000 infants are born with or develop disabling hearing loss in early childhood. 

Nearly 1 out of 3 people over 65 years suffer hearing loss. Over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

The Impact of hearing Loss:

When you are deaf, it impacts your functional, social, emotional and economic abilities. You are suddenly unemployable.

 Hearing loss is also associated with depression and poor self-esteem.

 Your social and emotional interactions become affected. Infants who suffer hearing loss face difficulty in learning languages. 

How can someone speak a language when they haven’t ever heard it?


I was completely unaware of all this until I attended a meet by Cochlear India on 3rd March, World hearing day. 

Cochlear is celebrating 30 years of hearing revolution. 

We met Brett Lee, the global ambassador of the brand, who talked about the importance of timely detection of hearing loss and the happiest sounds we might lose if we don’t give attention. 

Through the #SoundsofCricket Campaign,  Brett Lee aims to spread awareness of how Cochlear implants can help individuals lead a normal life.

Brett Lee with Komal and her doctor

At the event, we interacted with nine-year-old Komal and her mother.

 Komal was born with a severe hearing disability and didn’t speak or make any sound other than a few syllables unlike other children of her age initially. 

She received the Cochlear implant at age two and then underwent speech therapy for a year. 

She is now a happy and normal child who enjoys regular school and other co-curricular activities like any other kid of her age. 

Her sound processor KansoTM was barely visible as the design camouflaged it efficiently.

 The surgeon who operated on her told us that the Cochlear implant surgery is a minor surgery done under general anesthesia.

 I also talked with her mother and congratulated her for taking such a smart decision for her child.

At the event, both of us (me and my son) underwent hearing screening. To my relief, we had normal hearing.

Hearing Test

(My son undergoing the TEOAE test)

I was tense when my son sat for the hearing test. He underwent two tests. 

Transient evoked Otoacoustic emission test (TEOAE) and Pure tone audiometry test (PTA). It hardly took two minutes to complete it and was completely painless.

 Otoacoustic emission test measures an acoustic response produced by the hair cells or cochlea, which in essence bounces back out of the ear in response to a sound stimulus.

 A small probe that contains a microphone and speaker was placed into his ear.

In the Pure tone audiometry or PTA, a machine called an audiometer was used to produce sounds at various volumes and frequencies (pitches). 

He had to listen to the sounds through headphones and respond when he heard them by raising his finger. It was easy and hassle free.

Can’t we dedicate a few minutes to ensure that our little ones lead better and efficient lives?

What can you do when hearing loss is detected?
Ear Anatomy 

The treatment differs according to the type of hearing impairment you have. 

For slight hearing loss, hearing aids are enough. 

Hearing aids capture sound, amplifies it, and send the sound down the ear canal, through the middle ear to the inner ear where the hearing nerves receive it and transfer it to the brain.

A cochlear implant is the easiest solution when there is severe damage in the inner ear or cochlea.

 A Cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.  

Check this video which explains how it works.



A bone conduction implant which bypasses problems in the outer and middle ear by sending sound through bone directly to the inner ear would be the solution if you have defects in the outer and middle ear.

KansaTM:


The main reason why many dislike wearing hearing aids or sound processors is that the associated wires and devices are often a proclamation that they have a hearing disability. 

Children get bullied in school and adults attract sympathetic glances.

KansaTM the latest sound processor from Cochlear is tiny and discreet. 

It comes in various colors to match your hair color, is wireless and worn away from the ear, camouflaged under the hair.

Dear parents, let us take a vow that if a loved one is exhibiting any symptoms of hearing loss, we will not hesitate.

 Let us visit the nearest clinic and get a test done. May our loved ones hear now and always. 

If you wish to know more about Cochlear, visit them at,


Cochlear.com || Twitter Handle: @CochlearIndia || Facebook page 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Womanly Quirks I am thankful for



A quirk is a peculiar aspect of a person's character or behavior. So, what are the womanly quirks that I am thankful for?

Time management:

I am a fanatic when it comes to managing time. I try to squeeze in maximum activities in an hour. While I am writing this post, two sets of cookers are on the stove, one with rice and one with dal. By the time they get cooked, I will finish writing my blog post.  Organizing daily activities give me enough time and energy to accomplish what I set out to achieve. I don’t create a physical list, only a mental one. Even if a few activities do not get completed, most of the important ones do get done. I prioritize them accordingly.

Pulling my hair into a top knot:

My neck needs to breathe is my answer to all those who ask why my hair gets pulled into a tight top bun the moment I return home. I love to go for a bob cut once in a while just to allow my neck to be hassle free.

Nails worry me:

I envy women who sport shapely, manicured nails. I can’t tolerate if my nails grow even a few extra millimeters. I like them clean and buffed, free of any nail polish. Not a feminine attribute surely. I can only dream about getting nail art done. Perhaps a few false nails can help me. Or suddenly one fine morning I will start growing my nails gracefully long by virtue of some miracle. Never mind! 

I love experimenting with my hair:

Permanent straightening, curling, ironing, coloring… I have done it all. I love experimenting with my hair. One of my friends used to say that a good hairstyle makes up for 75% of your total look. My hair is always messy, to begin with, and gets messy easily too. So, if I have to attend an important function, I take the help of professionals to fix my hair.

I love folding clothes and making beds:

I become happy when I see a load of clothes to be folded or beds to be made. Both chores are equally therapeutic to me. Even if I am tired like hell, I can easily agree to fold clothes or change a bedsheet. I like seeing the clothes in organized piles. I like the perfection of a bed made neatly.

Phew, the list makes me sound half crazy. I assure you, I am quite sane.
Tell me about some of your quirks.




This post is a part of #ThankfulThursdays hosted by Tina, Mayuri, Amrita and Deepa.

Tina Basu - Being Real Not Perfect

The Dinner



The corner table beside the aquarium had been booked for four by a Mr.Sharma. Must be a family outing.

This, a family restaurant in central Kolkata, had always been my dream. I had sacrificed many things to attain this.

 Love among others. Saurav and I had wanted different things from life. 

He wanted marriage while I wanted to become a chef. I had gone off to culinary school. 

He had married someone hastily to punish me.

Very soon, Mr. Saurav Sharma and his wife walked in accompanied by their twins. 

He looked careworn. Clearly, not the man I had loved.

Word Count: 100

This post is part of Friday Foto Fiction being hosted by Tina and Mayuri 
Indian Bloggers

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Secret Behind Creative Blocks



According to Julia Cameron, the author of Artist’s way, when we open ourselves to creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
When we are blocked creatively, the in-dwelling creative force which is the purest form of life energy gets blocked. Life doesn’t seem worth living. Nothing seems interesting.
Why then do we face creative blocks?

Reasons behind a creative block:

There are many kinds of artistic blocks including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt. The reason varies from person to person. The most common underlying emotion behind all major creative blocks is usually fear. Fear of failure, fear of criticism or fear of shame. You can find fear arriving under all sorts of masks and personas.
Some of us self-sabotage our creativity. We make U-turns just about at the point where our efforts are beginning to show promise. We give up too easily.

Are you blocking your creativity?

Even the most prolific artists, writers, and dancers sometimes get blocked. Their creative juices stop flowing mysteriously. But in reality, there is nothing mysterious about it. The creativity block usually stems from fear. Creatives then find innovative ways to block their creativity which had created the cause for the fear.

For example, an established writer might find herself blocked after a particularly nasty review. An aspiring writer might find himself blocked after a beta reader, who doesn’t understand what he is trying to bring out through his work, labels the work as half-baked with no promise.

A painter might find herself blocked after a particularly unsuccessful show. A dancer might face creativity block after a disastrous stage performance.

After that, they would find ways to distract themselves from being lured by their own inner creator.

Most of them would find solace in the creativity of others.
They might go on reading binges, watching movies endlessly or might find comfort in food and alcohol. Anything to numb the creative energy that demands to be given an outlet.

The first major step you have to undertake to unblock your creativity is to confront your block.

What is it that you fear? 
What is the payback from being blocked?
How are you blocking your creativity?
Are you bingeing on something to numb your creativity? What is it?
Who is your worst critic?

Answer these questions as honestly as you can. Then we can find ways to eliminate the block.
Do comment below if you are facing a creative block and want to remove it.

The next post will deal with the ways to unblock creativity.
If you haven't read the first part of this series on creativity, read it here:



Indian Bloggers

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Honoring the woman in me



I was always a tomboy. I loved wearing my hair short and had no idea how to dress up. I loved climbing trees, swimming, cycling, driving, dancing and traveling without caring a thing about what others thought. My brother and my male cousins were my best friends. I bonded more with my male classmates and trusted them.

It was when I became a mother that I started realizing the true essence of being a woman. I began acknowledging how much effort a mother puts in to raising her kids and family. A tiny dependent bundle of joy reminded me constantly I was the world to him. I started honoring the woman in me more after I became his mother. His unconditional love and hearing ‘I love you, mother’ every day acted like an elixir.

I had put on almost 20kgs extra weight during pregnancy. My first act of self-love was losing that weight. Running behind him 24/7 and sleepless nights, of course, helped.

My second act of self-love was treating my body with healthy food. I began to give attention to the food I cooked every day, trying to keep it nutritious yet tasty. To one who opted to eat out at any given chance, it was a definite improvement.

My third act of self-love was chasing my passion. I revived old hobbies like crocheting, sketching and painting. I became a more dedicated blogger and writer once he started play school. I became a published author.

These days, once a week the two men in my life treat me like a queen. I sleep in late in the morning while they go out for breakfast on weekends. They bring me breakfast and later on help me cook lunch and clean. It is our bonding day.

I am still struggling in various aspects of grooming. I hate going to a beauty parlor. I hate torturing myself through waxing and threading. I am so confused when I have to buy clothes for myself. I still get scolded by my sister for not giving attention to tiny nuances while getting clothes stitched. I mess up recipes. 

I don’t think I will ever become an ideal woman. But I guess I am enough. I love myself and what I have become.


I have come a long way from being the girl with bushy, unkempt hair and bizarre clothes. Having a big fan at home who considers you as the prettiest woman in the world is my daily ego boost. 

This post is a part of #MondayMommyMoments being hosted by Amrita and Deepa

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Dream




Someone was chasing me. If I could reach that distant valley, I would be safe. But, a rough pair of hands grabbed me and I screamed for help.

“Piya, wake up. What happened?” The voice of my host was a relief to hear as it convinced me I had been dreaming.  

Later on, inside his old Spanish bungalow where I was staying, I came across a small round window with a view that was eerily familiar.

At that moment, a pair of rough hands grabbed me. My spooky host. I pushed him and ran hoping my dream wouldn’t come true.

Word Count: 100





Tina Basu

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Five Amazing Women I Know


March 8 is international women’s day. As a woman, I always feel women lack unity. We often hear about ‘bromance’ where men support each other through thick and thin. Unfortunately, when it is between women, often friendships do not have that kind of endurance. It is a very rare gem that we don’t often find. Jealousy, backstabbing, and gossip often ruins great friendships. Many don’t understand that a kind word, an apology at the right moment can make so much of a difference.

For a small village girl like me, the privileges I have acquired, especially in the field of education, life, and career have come through a lot of hard work. Throughout my life, I had strong women I could look up to, whom I considered as my idols. These women not only inspired me but instilled a strong belief that I should always root for the truth.

At every turn in my life, I have also been helped by women. I wrote this post where I mention some of them. Today I wish to talk about another five strong women whom I truly admire and am thankful for.

My mother-in-law: 

When I was about to be married, as was inevitable, I received cooking lessons from my mother. But after marriage, I realized they were of no use in my new household. There, the style of cooking and the recipes were entirely different. Even the vegetables and ingredients had strange names. My husband’s house is on the Kerala-Karnataka border and hence their day-to-day language had mostly words from Kannada, a language I barely knew. For example, 'chali' meant mud in my language whereas for them it meant a cold weather. You can imagine my confusion. I had no clue, but my mother-in-law helped me learn everything one step at a time. She also taught me many home-remedies. We lost her in 2015, but her recipes and tips continue to rule in my house.

My husband’s niece: 


My husband is the youngest in his family and hence his niece Sapna is one year older than me. When we moved to UAE, I had an easy time adjusting to the new place because she was settled there since years. We would roam around shopping, visiting malls or just eating out. Even after I started working, I would visit her home on weekends to savor her tasty biriyani or her latest cooking experiment. Her daughter was my pet. I am thankful to her for being my best companion during those days in an alien land.

My colleague Ronalyn:


Different nationalities, religion or our hectic job schedules did not come in between our friendship. Rona is from the Philippines and an accountant. She is an expert in Ms excel. She taught me so many excel shortcuts that made my work super easy. We were also foodies. I made her try biriyani and she, in turn, made me addicted to chocolates, especially Hershey's chocolate kisses. Clicking pictures using the camera of site engineers when our construction manager went out was one of our hobbies. Exchanging stories another. She was one hardworking girl who was shouldering the responsibilities of the education of her younger siblings. I was always in awe of her. She taught me a bit of Tagalog and I even learned one of their popular songs. I was her ‘ate’ or big sister. I am thankful, Rona for all the fun times we had.

My counselor and friend Sai Leela Rallapalli


I met Saileela, a manager at IBM at a Reiki class and we became friends there. She, later on, went on to learn Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy (QHHT) from Dolores Canon. At that time, I was going through a mild depression after my father passed away and she offered me a chance to experience past life regression. To say the least, the whole experience was magical and life changing for me. It changed my entire outlook towards life and I found a purpose in life. I owe my career as a blogger and writer to that session which put me in touch with my higher self. The session also triggered many story ideas. I have published a few already. Like me, she is a believer in all things esoteric like angels, aliens, reincarnation, and fairies. If you wish to avail her services, contact her at www.saihealing.net. I am thankful Saileela, for being my guide.

My friend Varsha:

Varsha is my junior from school and a working mother with an MBA. But for Varsha, perhaps, I would never have completed my debut novel. She was my first beta reader. After I completed each chapter, I would send it to her for feedback. If I didn’t send at least one chapter a week, she would send me emails urging me to write. With a demanding pre-schooler at home, I would have simply abandoned the manuscript if not for her. For my second novel also, she was my first beta reader. Thank you, Varsha for being a true friend.


 This post is written for #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by DeepaAmritaTina  and Mayuri 

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