I tried blending 2 styles of sketching which I love and the results are interesting. The process is more than meditative and I empty my mind when I draw, imagining myself as a monk creating patterns in the garden.
Dubai gets just a few days of rain every year and it becomes a momentous occasion. Radio stations bring out their romantic playlists across languages, social media posts of raindrops and wet roads jostle for attention and every one is smiling. What’s app groups remind everyone that it’s magical and encourage people to head away from the office for tea or coffee.
Cloud formations visit a city that is used to clear skies and there’s a wonderful nip in the air. There’s a sense of celebration because everyone knows there’s not too many days like this.
I wonder when friends and relatives from other parts of the world see our posts of raindrops and clouds, do they wonder as they look at their rain drenched windows, what the big deal is.
Hear are some wonderful moments from my camera yesterday as this day of blessing passed by during a dubai winter. And yes, the day was magical!
This is a poem on the journey of spirituality. The quest for the spiritual man is to return to the purest form of an infant who we are born as. As life goes by, the scars of experience and the scab of the world erodes that angelic innocence.
How do we bring up our kids to grow up maintaining the integrity, fun and joy of childhood to their adulthood intact? How do we instill character that doesn’t need a journey back in time anymore?
Two travelers set sail together,
An infant and his first cry
And an old man frail as a feather,
their lives on a perilous journey.
The baby was aglow like sunrise,
His skin like the softest fleece,
The world asleep in his closed eyes,
Tomorrow his world to seize.
The old man was the setting sun,
Wisdom etched lines upon his face,
Memories faded gently to oblivion,
His yesterdays escaping his gaze.
A white canvas lay by the infant,
It’s aura cascading with rays,
It was purity without a single dent,
A fiery white hue with a golden blaze.
A golden cocoon lay by his side,
A gentle womb nurtured him perfect,
His world was negativity denied,
A cloak of godliness did protect.
Tomorrow a gentle stroke of grey,
Strikes upon the canvas gently,
From within the love and play,
His happiness does momentarily flee.
He touches anger, fear and doubt,
As cracks form with his fortress,
He hears anger and elders shout,
And to earn love he must impress.
Time flies by on purposeful wings,
His peers, mentors and critics speak,
Life shares its barbs and stings,
The infant and his moment antique.
Responsibility sits upon his shoulder,
And so does ambition and greed,
His glow setting as he gets older,
Purity takes wings like a bird freed.
The old man was the setting sun,
Wisdom etched lines upon his face,
Memories faded gently to oblivion,
His yesterdays escaping his gaze.
The white canvas becomes his quest,
His mind filled with debris and dirt,
The glow has abandoned the nest,
His heart and negativity often did flirt.
His mind seeks the journey and a cure,
The spotless canvas now old and used,
He was the angel infant once so pure,
Spirituality, your map is so confused.
Pic by John French on Pinterest
Even a simple day trip for business brings out the best in me. Travel is my introspection time, reading time, sketching time and learning time. I tend to shut out the world and immerse myself in me. A bubble envelops itself around me and I tune into my innermost thoughts. This is my kaizen space where I connect with my personal SWOT, where I do my internal housekeeping, reflect and fine tune my journey. This is the time where I check my map and calibrate the compass.
I tend to follow a pattern of simple habits so my mind is uncluttered on the journey. This is what I do.
1.Pack the day before
I ensure my bags are set early and everything is in place well before I have to leave. I also have a clear mental picture of what I will be wearing on the day.
I make sure I have value engineered what leaves with me on the trip. Over past experience, I know what is needed and what isn’t. Most importantly, when I travel alone I never check in my baggage. I plan around my cabin baggage and never carry more.
3.The right luggage
I prefer soft luggage that doesn’t add excess weight. Always with wheels so I am not carrying it myself. I prefer day bags with many compartments and pockets so each place can have its designated items.
Packing and placing every item I travel with in the same place in my bag helps to access everything easily. There’s a compartment for my passport and ticket, for the book I will read, chargers, money, lap top, etc etc.
5.Prepare for security check
This I find an underrated skill which can really help ease your mind and save time. I make sure all my metallic objects (watch, wallet, belts, phone etc) stay in my bag till after the check. I try and use a slip in shoe even for formal wear so I can weave in an out faster. All liquid items are always under 100ml.
6.Simple food and hydration
I try and completely avoid airline food on short flights and snack on fruit and drink a lot of water. Travel food used to leave me feeling bloated and sluggish.
7.The right music
When I am traveling I listen to lounge music on a high quality headphone with noise cancellation features. It helps me shut the world out and works as a wonderful catalyst for energizing my thoughts.
When thoughts explode and ideas are bombarding me, I use the Mind Node app to capture my ideas. I find this the simplest and most effective way to keep my planning at the same speed of my thinking. I have 100s of mind maps on all kinds of subjects which then keeps my brain clutter free.
9. Books, the perfect companion
When I am traveling I carry books which are non fiction. My companion is a self help or business book centering around an area or issue which I am grappling. I also love scouring airports for new books. I buy faster than I can read and I know it’s an investment that can’t go bad.
Simple things like memorizing and remembering your passport number, issue and expiry date can save time at the airport or on a flight. At immigration counters my eyes search for sections which have 2 personnel managing one line. These lines move much faster and usually there’s always one such counter closer to the end. I also place my ticket within the concerned visa page so it’s easier for the officer to find it.
Besides these, some other ideas are to ensure my pockets are empty in the flight so I am comfortable. I carry gum always for overnight trips, do power maps if the flight is in the wee hours and I have meetings on arrival. I also pack based on how I unpack.
And now I can probably add blogging in my free time to that list!!
Some of the most memorable moments are the ones I spend with my children. Most of the greatest lessons I have learnt are from my kids.
Every second is pure joy and I learn so much from their curiosity and innocence.
I love the constant barrage of questions, the indefatigable energy, the tornado of mischief, the gentleness and integrity, the thirst for knowledge and their undying undiluted love.
We are all born pure and without malice, opinion, hatred, negativity or prejudice. As we go along our experiences, people, friends, events, parents, relatives and the world around us leave their scars with their words and expression. We grow up constantly changing and our personalities are defined by a sum of our past experiences.
“Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.”
― Bill Ayers
Parenting as I understand is the most important foundation to our lives. Our values and personalities are defined by our early experiences and then our peers and our own experiences take over.
I have conversed with so many parents and elders and out of curiosity dwelled a lot on what is the role parenting plays in the definition of an individual. I have read so many books on the exciting subject and always wondered how we can be catalysts without expectations, how we can touch their lives and allow them to find their inner magnificence.
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow,
You have to be in their lives today.”
― Barbara Johnson
Here are a few ideas and practices I have learnt and understood and know that work like a charm.
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success.”
My mentor and guru taught me this simple and most effective aspect of bring up children. The simple rule was about teaching my kids not to expect gratification and gifts instantly when they wanted it. To equip them best for life, they have to learn to delay the need for instant reward. Learning to save up and buy the book they so wanted, deciding to look at more options and then buy the cycle, getting a paint set and crayons if we come back next week.
To prepare them as adults who learn to save, study hard to do better, train hard to excel or plan for their retirement need for them to grapple with the philosophy of delayed gratification.
Read this article if you are interested in understanding the concept further:
2.Be what you want them to be
“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.”
― Josh Billings
This is a simple and fundamental law of parenting that I hear and read about so often, yet we as parents forget this simple idea so easily. What we do is what our children learn and become, not what we advise. If we don’t walk the talk and follow the advise we give them ourselves, the words will remain words. I realised that if we want them to trust us, we must trust them. If we want them to be polite, we must be, if we want honesty, we must first be honest. If we yell and lose our temper and expect kids who are calm and soft spoken, its a battle we will always lose.
3.Wear their shoes
The easiest way to connect and understand my kids have been when I have constantly adjusted my mental age to how I would have thought and behaved when I was that age. What would I have done if I was a bored 3 year old? What would I have done as a 9 year old who’s in trouble? Everything suddenly falls into place when I step outside my adult righteousness and opinion and step down to sympathising and expecting them to behave their age. Its music to their ears when they sense you know exactly what they are feeling or doing.
4.Self fulfilling prophecy
This is such an important aspect of a child’s upbringing and the effect it leaves on them is unquestionable. In organisational behaviour, it’s known as the Pygmalion effect (remember the movie My Fair Lady). We grow up surrounded with the need for being labelled. Both negatively and positively and both have their effects on us. When there’s a continuos wave of hearing “you are a naughty child” or “you are always messy” or “you are so lazy”, “good for nothing” etc, we live this prophecy out by adopting this avatar for ourselves. Changing the words from “You are always lazy and messy and will never change!” to “I bet you couldn’t transform this room back to its magical clean self in 15 minutes!!” or anything that works with possibilities makes a difference.
I remember being typecast as mischievous and an average student in school and whatever I did couldn’t shake the tag away and I was a perfect fit for the labels. It was only when I changed schools and I was introduced as someone with leadership abilities and a genius, that I suddenly manifested these tags too.
It’s a fine balance with our children too. Too much praise also raises the pressure of having to perform or impress. Sometimes, just a hug and a kiss is even more effective than getting a gift or a reward.
5. The language of possibilities
Changing our language from “Should, have to, must” to workability also has created amazing shifts and has galvanised change in my children. For example instead of saying “you have to sleep early” “or you must sleep on time” as an order, when we say “If you sleep early, you will wake up fresh and have more energy at school” .
The moment the logic of what will work better when you do something is explained, we are enrolled easily. When orders are thrust upon us, we take it instead like medication prescribed.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
– Albert Einstein
Encouraging our children to make mistakes releases a great burden off their backs. Eradicating the fear of failure and instead celebrating their mistakes makes learning so much fun.
Getting our children to see every drawback and failure as just another way not to do it, and distinguishing them as experiences drove away fear. Discussing the learnings from each of the experiences and brainstorming possibilities and new solutions also strengthens the solution based thinking early on.
Every doctor’s appointment is important, each school play or group song, race, sports day or international day or poem recital means the world to kids. In their world, they have achieved the impossible and they are brimming with a sense of pride. Reciprocating this enthusiasm by being there whenever we can makes them feel on top of the world. I realised that its easy to actually reorganise and work your schedule easily around their days and when you can’t make it, apologising profusely and from the heart and explaining why you couldn’t makes them feel so important. As parents, we try and make sure at least one of us is there if not both, for every moment which is important for them.
On a selfish note, the joy and pride that swells up in our hearts as we see our little heroes clamber on stage and do their thing and try their best, is an emotion second to none.That moment, as they suddenly spot you in the crowd, and their eyes and smile light up the entire school, and when they wave eagerly like their whole life just became energized and colorful, that makes the moment eternal.
8. Emotional intelligence
What determines the joy in our lives is finally how happy we are with ourselves and how well we connect with other people. The final measure of success is the ability to understand our own feelings, name them and find solutions for dealing with them. Talking with our kids about emotions, sharing how we would feel at different points and brainstorming solutions- “I feel nervous today, what do you think I should do?” , “I sense you are upset about what happened with your friends, do you want to tell me about it?” help us get in touch with these inner emotions. Also when we have discussed other people’s feelings, it allows them to be sensitised to emotions- “When you didn’t share your book with her, what do you think she felt? How would you feel if that happened to you?”
Helping them walk in other people’s shoes often also heightens this emotion further-“I know you are upset with your teacher. Why do you think he said what he did?”
9. Parents are also human
I learnt along the way that its not necessary to be a super hero always. We also screw up often. I also realised that when we speak about our weaknesses and acknowledge when we messed up, it helped me connect with my children further.
Sometimes when you over react without logic (we are human, it will happen) and realise heart of heart it was unnecessary, it feels even better when I go to my 9 year old daughter and sit beside her and just say “I am so sorry. I think I over reacted for something very simple. I didn’t agree which what happened, but I shouldn’t have been so upset. It really was such a big deal. Will you forgive me? It wont happen again.” The hug of understanding I get dissolves the guilt I feel and she gets that sometimes parents also goof up and a heart felt apology can remedy most situations.
10. Learning from other parents.
There are so many families I respect and admire. So many parents and friends I come across that I want to model and learn from. So many kids who I see grow up into individuals of excellence with a sense of purpose and armed with integrity and wisdom. I love speaking to their parents and asking them anecdotes and tips on parenting. I love to observe the dynamics and soak in whatever I may learn.
So often, there’s an insight or observation that can dramatically transform our approach to our kids. I have also learnt so much of what not to do as well by observation.
11. Igniting curiosity .
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”
Our minds soak in the most when it is open. When the doors are shut, nothing comes in. That’s why we seek knowledge, experiences, mentors and expertise. The most successful people in the world are the ones who are curious about knowledge, who seek out new ways of doing things, who never accept status quo.
We buy books, a lot of books for the kids. A balance of fiction and non fiction. Books about history and science and how things work. I remember how my mother would ensure we were around books and the world that opened for us as kids.
I also fix up outings to different industries so they have perspective and exposure. One day a radio station, another day a newspaper, interviewing people and understanding the way it works. Sitting in on internal meetings and sharing her observations of what worked in the meeting and didn’t. Learning and encouraging them to ask when they don’t know and knowing where to find answers when you don’t. This insatiable hunger for grasping ideas and information create a fertile mind forever.
We also play a game where I teach 5 new words almost every day. I learnt this at a Brian Tracy event. He said that the power of language and the ability to express yourself is one of the pillars of success. The idea of learning 5 new words came from him and it is working wonders.
12.The feedback walk
When there’s a burning issue or strong feedback to be given, I take my daughter for a walk. We take a long walk and we speak. I share how I feel and why it isn’t working for me and we brainstorm on what solutions we can create for the situation. I let her know what’s troubling me and I ask her if she agrees there’s a problem. We then brainstorm on what can be done to solve the situation and what ideas she can adopt. I also acknowledge that this is not how she usually is and its a temporary situation.
Walking allows the feedback to be relaxed and the change of environment helps her not be in a spot. It just lightens the moment and yet gives it gravity. She also knows that when I start the walk with “We need to talk…” there’s some feedback coming her way.
13.Awakening the creative mind.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
Stories read at night, stories made up to share a message, magical tales, fairies, pixie dust, dragons all awaken imagination and lay the greatest foundation for the intelligent mind. Reading them fairy tales on some days even as infants with expression and sounds open a magical world. Play acting and role play further enhance the spark in them.
I particularly love creating stories which have a host of my 3 year old sons toys. Theres a dinosaur and theres Buzz light year and a cow, Mater, a helicopter and a tattered teddy bear besides a host of other heroes. It took a lot more effort playing with my daughters dolls and the doll house, I must admit.
Brainstorming as a concept became a game. We play brainstorming to look at solutions to real and hypothetical story situations. For example, the King is fast asleep, how can we wake him up without getting him angry? Or real life situations like ideas for a project or how to deal with situations. I feel that if kids can wrap their minds around the fact that all problems have solutions which we haven’t thought of yet, they become resourceful instead of panicking.
Sometimes, just before sleeping sharing what we learnt new this day and asking them what they learnt for the day plants the seed for Kaizen (the Japanese word for continuous and never ending improvement). It also makes parents grow also and never stagnate.
The power of hearing “I love you” through the day and being hugged for every excuse helps kids express their love easier. They also realise the warmth and affection and learn how to express their feelings easily. Stealing hugs when you leave and also when you meet them and for every possible reason lets them know how wanted they are.
The kids that are different and out there and expressive; and are bold with those choices, those are the people that grow up to be people we all want to hang out with, that become celebrities or become really successful in what they do because they believe in who they are.
15.The power of fun!
Laughter, fun and joy in every aspect of the day brings another dimension to their lives. The power of giggles and uncontrollable laughter is the biggest blessing for a home and the greatest memories we remember as kids.
“The best way to make children good is to make them happy.”
― Oscar Wilde
Heres a collection of spaces which I created as a mood board for dream spaces to be alone and get some thinking time in. Dream spaces to rejuvenate the mind and spirit. I guess the themes running through the spaces I love are high ceilings, natural light, contemporary minimal spaces, books and nature.
My understanding of spirituality is that we embark upon a journey at some point in our lives. Some of us wake up one day and realise that things have to change.
“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”
There are aspects about our lives which we don’t like, things that suddenly don’t resonate or create conflicts in our minds. As we dig a little deeper we realise we carry baggage or scars of our experiences. We are suddenly a sum of all our experiences. If we sit down and list our every memory which we can ever remember, we realise they stay in our minds because they have an emotional affect upon us. Some are happy, some are glorious, many sad, then some which bring resentment and anger and then tug at your heart with nostalgia. As we process these and reconnect our emotions to those moments, the realisation dawns that every moment has become us. Who we are today, our values and opinions, our moods and persona is a reflection of the ups and down, of the words we have heard, the actions we have seen and the opinions we have absorbed our parents, friends, teachers, relatives, mentors and even the books we read, movies we see, the discussions we overhear leave their mark and have an influence with or without us knowing.
The first step is having a clear idea of what you love and respect about oneself, and what values and attributes I would want to let go off. These are aspects of my personality that has always been at conflict with my inner self. Characteristics, opinions, emotions and behaviour that causes a negative state of mind. These become catalysts to create anger, sadness, guilt, disillusionment, confusion, fear and many of the signs that tell me that it doesn’t fit.
Spirituality therefore is the constant search to identify these conflicts, connect them to the source of where they became part of me and let it go. Spirituality is the ability to finally go back to the state we were born with, the purity of the mind of a new born baby.
Spirituality is the continuous and never ending journey to return to a state of such divine integrity.
I travel with a sketchbook I and whenever I can, I enjoy drawing angels.
I see angels as subconscious emotions. They represent my conscience, my confusions, my intuition, guilt and a host of other inner thoughts. I also see unconnected incidents and serendipity as angels that visit my life. People I meet that leave an impact, the aura they manifest are angels, the lessons from experience, mentors, milestones are all angels.
I see angels as a series of emotions, individuals, experiences, incidents and thoughts that are constantly working on influencing positively my journey.