Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Rheumatism - Living with an invisible illness

I have it - rheumatoid arthritis. It's invisible - I look like a normal healthy person, it's not treatable - I will have it forever (as of now), it's common - along with a lot of other similar illnesses like firbromalgia, lupus, cancer, thyroid...the list goes on, it is debilitating in part, and yet I have learnt to manage it. It's not easy, but anyone who has any of these, learns to live with it. And before you say things like, "but you are too young to have arthritis", it has no age limit. These illnesses can happen to anyone. So I did nothing wrong, i didn't bring it upon myself, a little exercise or diet or losing weight or a positive outlook will not cure it. But this post is not about educating anyone about it. This is for those who have it. It's equally important for you to read if you know someone who has it. Because this is tough for anyone in contact with the illness, directly or indirectly.

On this one, let's talk about the ones who have it. Next week, I will write another one for those who have family & friends who have it.

If you have it or suspect that you do, please go to a doctor. And Google is not a doctor. I've never seen it's medical degree. Rely on google to find support groups (and you do need them), but do not convince yourself that you have it or can treat yourself.

When I was diagnosed with it, my 1st reaction was, "Oh crap!". Followed by "it's not possible". Then "why me." Then "what did I do wrong?" Then "My life is screwed!"

So yes! Oh crap is about right. There was a lot of disbelief and helplessness. And of course, refusal to accept it! I wouldn't tell anyone. I'd pretend I was just tired or that the twins had kept me up all night. Slowly I accepted that I did have it. And then it became easier. I changed my lifestyle (the ode to diet & exercise). I went from being a runner & gym junkie, dancing 5 nights a week in high heel, to a yoga follower. I ditched the heels, took my meds regularly and thought I'd be fine. I wasn't. The pain wouldn't go away!

I learned to live with constant pain. It's tough. My feet tell me to sit, to stop putting my weight on them. My fingers tell me to stop opening those bottles. But my kids are small, my work is physical, I need to travel a lot and spend hours on my feet, and I learned to manage.

The toughest part is the mind. The teaching yourself that bad days may be many, but there will be good days.

Lady Gaga has it.

Lucille Ball had it.

But even tougher are the ones who have no idea of what you have or a battling and are eager to dispense knowledge or lack thereof! (Remember the ones telling me to stop being lazy! Just do some weights everyday and your arms will be toned). You will have these ones too. Some will be close friends, some family and some well meaning random strangers you've just met! Ignore them. Smile politely and move on. It takes practice. I wanted to scream at them. But you can do it.

The positive outlook! Yes! That is important. You have to not give in! There is pain, for sure. But your mind is sharp as ever. Use it to tell yourself that you can still live your life normally. I do! I run with my kids on good days, I still dance, go on holidays and go for walks. I went paragliding, kayaking, trekking on good days. And I lay in bed and moped on bad. it's OK to do both. On bad days, I look like shit and that's OK. I found make up for those days (that's my coping mechanism. You will find yours). On good days, I'm unstoppable.

Find support. Ask for it. In my case it's my family. My in laws carried my kids for over 2 kilometers on a holiday in Bali. I would never have managed that holiday without them. I explained, they understood and supported. My parents, though they can't do much physically, are always around to make me laugh. My husband! It's probably toughest on him. Suddenly he has a wife who can't sleep, can't go on long walks with him and complains a lot. He learned to plan, adapt and change to suit my "pain of the day." It's tougher on the kids. They are 5 yrs old and can't understand why mom won't carry them or run after them. I am teaching them as best a I can. And now they give me the meds and slow down for me.

Managing it is about asking for support. Remember we are talking about an invisible illness. Which means that people can't see it. They think you are fine. So tell them (at least the ones who matter). Ask for help. Tell them how you feel. And understand that they may have had days of their own. Eat well, rest and trust that doctor.

But above all, treat yourself with a lot of kindness. You know what you are going through. Help yourself heal. It's not your fault and you don't need to be a super hero all the time.

And if you still have questions, ask me! I'm happy to answer or even let you just gripe to me. Now go. Love yourself.

Holiday with the crazies

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Needed - a bit of kindness

Me having a conversation with my 6 yr old niece -
Me - "Do you like our new swimming coach?"
She - Yup. (Clearly doesn't have my genes. Monosyllables is her thing.)
Me - What do you like about him?
She - He pushes me to do well. But he's very kind,
What? Kind? Is that a word a child even knows? I try to quiz her but she's back to her occasional nods but mostly ignoring me. She's done talking to this ignorant adult. But she gets me thinking...

Kindness! What a lovely word. One that we rarely hear and use even more rarely! We've certainly forgotten about how to put it into practice. We may know about charity, and a lot of people do it (the PR machinery & social media makes sure we know this), we also know about being kind to the less fortunate, needy etc etc. But what about the basic kindness? The little things that matter? The ones that are uplifting and heart warming? The ones that are performed not for the needy but for people like us - each other?

Let me start from the beginning.

Look around you (even at yourself). Social media - full of compliments for each other but that's what they are, compliments! Not kindness. Often they are just for social media, not really meant but a way to acknowledge that "I saw what you did". A thumbs up, "naice" (spellings anyone?), "looking good babe", "Wah! Maze kar." It doesn't even sound sincere.

On the other hand,it's a competition of who's doing better, who looks good and what have you. Punctuated by subtle put downs.

And in the middle of all this, we find it impossible to be kind to someone who "doesn't get us". We attach the label immediately - "moron." "Takes too long" - "idiot", messed up my order - "incompetent ass". And then yell, be rude, "show you", "teach you a lesson" starts.

Whatever happened to "it's OK", "you'll be fine", "you'll manage it next time", "try now", "you could do better", "I'm with you. Go ahead and try it". What happened to kindness?

What's with the judging, the labels, the impatience and the search for perfection? This seems to apply not only to the way we deal with others, but also in what we expect from ourselves. It's a state of constant war! It's a race where no one is winning. It's a place where everyone is anxious, faces FOMO and feels inadequate.

So the next time I'm feeling unkind, here's what I plan to do. I plan to ask myself, "does it really matter?" "Do I really need to berate this person?' "Do I really need to look like a million bucks all the time?" (I mostly look like out of circulation pennies, but that's another story). And most importantly, "can this be solved without being unkind?"

People, I notice, have begun to equate kindness with weakness or being a doormat. While what it is, is strength and peace.

All of us, as a generation are facing the loss of this simple thing and the next generation will be even lesser acquainted with it. So I'm starting today. I'm starting this circle of kindness, encouraging words and smiles.

And before you ask, no one's been unkind to me. At least not today!

Meanwhile, my niece is doing very well with her swimming coach. His kindness and encouragement is making a champ out of her in a way that pushing never could have! More power to you, sir!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Ex Factor

I ended up spending my evening with a friend whose ex had shared pictures of her family on social media. She is now married, has a kid and had just celebrated the kid's birthday. The pictures were adorable. But one look at them, and my friend's mood plummeted into despair. "This could have been my life", he exclaimed! And I agreed. It could have been, but it isn't, with very good reason.

They were seeing each other for a long time but didn't end up together. I don't know the reasons and nor is this about them. Time passed. She remarried, had her kid, moved pout of the country and seems happy in the pictures. My friend stayed single, grumpy and held the moving on against her. He always resented the fact that she seemed happy. Every time he saw her pictures, he thought he had missed out. If only they hadn't split up, this could have been his life. Maybe, but probably not!

You see, hindsight is a perfect science. You know exactly what you would have done in the past to make things right. But you didn't. And it ended for a reason. It ended because it wasn't working out. And if you had stuck together, loathe to let go, your picture probably would not have been this. And the split would have happened anyway because you weren't compatible. It's no one's fault. This couple just weren't meant to be together.

To covet the life and relationship your ex has now, with someone else, is self defeating. It just makes you resentful and unhappy, obsessive and hence unattractive!

The fact is, the ex has that life with someone else because of the person he/she found. It's about their chemistry and compatibility. That life was never going to be yours. This is the relationship those two people have. How could you have the exact same thing?

Yes! Maybe you would have had similar pictures. Maybe not. The thing to remember is that each relationship is different. And resenting or getting upset is not helping. So in stead of focusing on what the ex found, why not get out and find your own happiness? Why covet when you can have it too, only if you make the effort.

Moral of this very long story - get over it! And go find your own happy ending. And that can only happen if you get the ex factor out of the way!

Monday, 14 January 2019

All you need to know about social media security

Another day, another conversation, another observation...

I was speaking to a girl who was very worried about the security of her social media accounts. She raved and ranted and said she didn't want anyone to see anything about her on social media. I couldn't understand it. She had accounts everywhere. She was on Facebook, Twitter, her pictures were all over Instagram, her work profile was on LinkedIn, she blogged, reviewed restaurants and wanted it all to be secret!

Which got me thinking - you want anonymity? Why have an account? Everywhere? Why put up public posts? Why blog, put up reviews or work information? Why put personal opinions on LinkedIn and pictures on Insta?

In this day & age of the internet, how much anonymity can we expect? And I'm no expert. I'm a normal girl with limited, if any knowledge. And yet I can see it.

I know someone who was paranoid about his personal information and security. He had no social media account. Yet, if you google him, you find as much as you need to know about him. And that is the truth about all of us.

Another point I hear often is, "I don't want my family to know anything about me." And yet, we are OK with strangers following us on twitter or looking at our pictures on Instagram. We are happy to air our views on Facebook which can be read by strangers, but we don't want our families to know. Isn't it safer to have the family know rather than strangers?

I find that we can do nothing without social media, email, Aadhar. There are CC TV cameras everywhere and we are trying to hide in plain sight! Considering we can't even buy a simple phone online without it. And this, when we are a world of online shoppers!

So what are we cribbing about? If you're out there, be there with aplomb! Be who you are. Put out information that you want people to see and know you by, because we all know that even companies follow our social media footprints.

Then what's with the paranoia? I'm getting married. I'm going to delete all my social media accounts, said one. So basically live a lie or have no past for the rest of your life? Wouldn't you rather be with someone who is OK with your past.

"Oh God!  My wife / husband will find out that I was on a dating / matrimonial website and stop trusting me." "Partner", I want to say, "How does your spouse think you found him / her?" Besides, suspect you? Not trust you? Because you had friends, had fun and looked for love? Really? How are you planning to spend your life then?

My views entirely, but you exist. You had a life and are going to have one as long as you are alive. Share it with those who matter (family included), stop pretending to be someone you are not, own your life and stop worrying too much. Just keep your own safety in mind and get on with it. And if it worries you so much, get off it. Don't be out there and bore everyone with your security concerns!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Just do it!

Here's are excerpts from mails I have received over the last few days  -

"I'm single. Ready to mingle. Can you find me someone? I'd really like to be married."

My first reaction was to shoot a mail back saying, "Of course! I'll line up a million people for you! Then you can choose because you're the coolest."

Option two - "Am I your mother?"

Mail two - "If I join your site / come to an event and don't like anyone, will you give me a refund?"

Wish I could respond with -

"Of course! In fact, if you like someone and end up married, but it doesn't work out, I will also give you an exchange offer because you know, we're only taking about people! I suggest you test drive them before you make a payment!"

Option two - "Of course! As long as you can give me a guarantee that you are perfect and everyone will be clamouring to be with you."

Needless to say, I wrote back politely offering no refunds or exchanges but plenty of advice!

And it made me wonder, why do we talk so much drivel? I understand that being single is tough. You're lost at sea and have no idea of where to find someone. Or even if you do, will things work out?

So here's a bit of gyan! Get out of your own way and see what you can accomplish. If you just sit at home, join up dating / matrimonial platforms endlessly, but do nothing, how the hell are you going to find someone? By shooting off mails to people?

If you are OK with a rank stranger looking for someone for you, the game is not for you. Accept it and move on. Talk to your family and let them do the job.

But if love be what you are looking for, then be prepared to work for it. And I do mean work! Log in to the sites you have joined. Respond to messages and actually step out and meet the people! Take your apprehensions along but don't let them hold you back.

For those who say, "I don't know what kind of people will be there", if you don't meet, you'll never know. Because I don't know the last time someone walked into your house to meet and convince you that they would look after you and be little boy / girl scouts! I don't know the last time anyone did the same thing they did all their lives and got something new. You have to JUST DO IT!

You are an adult, believe it! You will know when you are in danger, unless you stop listening to your gut. And you do know all about "meet in a public place", "tell someone where you are and with whom", "do not get in to that car", do not get in to a financial transaction or give in to requests for money or fall for sob stories" because that's not what dates are for. And above all, don't expect to have someone fall in love with you on the first date. For that experience, watch DDLJ!

So what are you going to do about being single? Write me or someone else a mail?

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

With RESPECT...#metoo #nomore #enough

I act occasionally...I am part of this wonderful piece of work called The Vagina Monologues. These are stories of pain, humiliation and mutilation, told in a non threatening way. I am proud to be associated with it, but I do wish I didn't have to call it a "wonderful piece of work". How can these stories, true of almost all women be "wonderful"? And I wish I could call it a "wonderful piece of fiction"...which unfortunately it is not and never will be! Here's the thing we believe, silence equals death! And much as I wish we did not need a #metoo movement, here it is! We are finally speaking out. We are finally choosing to live and be live, once more...

Last night, when the story about our favourite #sanskari broke, it shook me. I have no idea why. I've never met him, only seen him on TV, and yet, I wanted to claw his eyes out for doing what he did! What all these wolves did... My first thought was, "I'm lucky! I haven't faced this in all my years on earth." And that was my moment of truth! I'm lucky? To not have been pawed and assaulted? Should that not be the norm? Should we not roam free? Is it not our basic right? WTF? When did we equate basic respect with luck? I'm sick to my stomach!

All our lives, we women, befriend women, bond with them over abuse - sexual, physical, emotional, financial...that is what most of our friendships are based on. Not on football and boys nights out but on pain, held hands, tears shed in the night, often calling each other for support when actually we should be nurturing the universe! And yet, we are broken regularly by those who have forgotten that we are the creators...hell! We have forgotten that we are the creators. And it's time to write a new story!

But before we do that, let's address the poor men who are frightened! Yes! You need to be! You know what you took away not just from us but yourselves too? You took away trust, romance, love, faith, the simple art of flirting, the mating dance, the teasing, the joy! You chipped away at all of this until we began to fear you. "Oh he's flirting with me. He must have an agenda." "He's too charming. He's going to be a wolf." "He's coming on too strong...trying to buy me a drink..." the list is endless. You killed it for yourselves too. It's come to a point where we don't trust the other gender. Romance is turning contractual and relationships are mired in absolute lack of trust. We look at our own fathers, husbands, brothers and sons and wonder if they could do it too. We look at our mothers, sisters, friends and daughters and wonder if they went through it too! Wonderful! What a wonderful world we have created for ourselves.

As for the women who are finally finding the courage to speak...just listen! Just listen to their stories. They don't want sympathy, they don't want to be seen as victims, want publicity or even justice (what justice can there be after a lifetime of pain?) They have chosen to speak because it's cathartic, they need to be heard, but above all they need RESPECT! It's not easy to talk about pain. It's not fun and it's not getting anyone awards! So shut up and listen...with RESPECT!

Here's a story for the women speaking maid was assaulted by her ex employer. She went to the cops. And they came. The investigation was perfunctory at best, but the man's wife and 14 year old son were called to the police station. They knew what he had done! His son knows that his father was in the lock up for attempted rape. She will never get justice for what happened, but he can't parade as a respectable man anymore. The ones who know him, know him for what he is. He has no respect, this rich, educated man. She does. She has RESPECT from everyone for speaking out. So no matter how small vour voice or how few it reaches, speak where it counts. Then speak to people who can help in the healing process. Go into therapy if you can afford it (we know most of us can't). Reclaim your life and live!

And remember, they may have attacked you, but they cannot break you! Your honour, your respect and your reality lies not in your vagina but deep within you! Teach this to your daughters and teach this to your sons.

Go ahead and speak because the world is listening...with RESPECT!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Real Reason Why People Remain Single.

The Real Reason Why People Remain Single.

Let’s be honest… Most people fail to find someone for themselves because they are not used to it.
That’s right. They simply have no idea how the relationship game works. It is an extremely volatile domain where people feel “bad” about this or that so fast… that it can make your head spin & egos get hurt at an unprecedented rate.

Because of this..most will try a few times and then give up and go back to not trying at all OR they will simply outsource this job to their parents.  After all, it’s easier to judge someone during a short arranged marriage meeting that to be judged yourself.

You don’t see the idea of finding someone for yourself a “priority”. It’s just one of those things that you want but don’t or can’t put much effort into. It is down on the “priority” ladder after work, family, friends, acquaintances & even NETFLIX.

You have got into a pattern in life which you find hard to break out of. The excuses to stay in this pattern come hard and fast and they all seem completely valid. But the end result is that the pattern continues.

You may be unpredictable. When someone calls you, one day you are pleasant and make plans and on others you are aloof.  This sends out mixed signals to people looking for a stable relationship.
You are still behaving the same way as you did when you were younger but with age, the rules of the game change whether we like it or not.

You meet people and maybe even go out with them but you don’t commit because you believe that there will always be “more”. Maybe this works in countries and cultures that are more open to relationships but here.. it may not always hold true. This is something that people discover as they go along in life.

You may feel that all the good ones are already taken.
Men will often tell you that when they were in a relationship, girls used to think they are great guys.. (the good ones).. but when they turned single.. they don't think the same way about them anymore.
This is because we see the "good ones" from the perspective of their partner.
So.. are all the good ones really taken? Probably not. You’re still out there..aren’t you? So don't give up and keep looking.

Your approach to “the checklist” is what the other person does not match instead of what he/she does match. This negative attitude may stop you from seeing the more positive aspects in a person. Ditch this approach and see what happens.

Your expectations from a relationship may be unrealistic. No relationship can be exciting forever. You must find the one who you can have a conversation with, share thoughts with, be open with, be brave with, be real with for a long- long time. If you can’t spend comfortable silences together… the rest will be much harder.

You are different from your parents. What they think might be a good match for you may be different from the kind of person you think is right for you.
This is normal because you are creating your own life and filling it with experiences that you enjoy. Your views are changing and you want someone just like you.
Don’t feel guilty about this. Find this someone “like you” unapologetically
NO ONE talks about this.. but it's true.

10. That's it. Now get out there and find "the one". Connect with carefully screened members. Register on