Shilalekh

What Life Teaches Me Everyday

Category: Personal Development (Page 1 of 2)

2017: A Year in Review

This time next week I shall be on my way to family vacation to Shimla to enjoy the snowfall. My elder daughter had been pestering us for a couple of years to vacation in Shimla during the winters so she could see snow. Since we had honeymooned there, and she has been fascinated by the photographs, she wants to make up for the lost opportunity!! And go one step better by hoping for a snowfall, not just snow. We decided not to let 2017 go by without fulfilling this wish of hers.

I keep telling her that we cannot predict snowfall, so she should not have high hopes and then feel disappointed. But she remains optimistic. Which reminds me of another thing we lose as we grow up – looking at the brighter side of life.

2017 is coming to an end, but I have been putting off my yearly review because I know it’s going to look very bad. I refuse to acknowledge that I had willingly taken up work that would not pay immediately, I refuse to accept that I lost more than a month to acute chicken pox and I definitely refuse to come to terms with the fact that even if my dream project came to a naught life has not come to a stop.

Magical May – How I Bagged a Lifetime Opportunity through LinkedIn

2017 started on a very high note for me. May be that’s the reason I feel so depressed that it has ended on such a low note.

Around May, I winded up a series of three video tutorials successfully and bagged a long term contract for text tutorials from the same client. I began looking around for more clients. I decided to give LinkedIn a shot, because even though I have had a LI profile for long, I was not much active till then.

A week into being active on LinkedIn, I saw a post from a prominent publisher looking for Computer Science freelance writers. I sent a connection request to the person sharing the requirement, who happened to be the CEO as well. The request was accepted quickly and before I could think of messaging, I received a message – Would you write a book for us.

My heart gave a whoop of joy.

After much discussions and negotiations, he contracted me to write a series of Computer books for classes 1 to 8, to be launched in the coming session of 2018-19. As time was less, I threw myself completely into it. Thankfully the tutorials project that I was working on was a lighter one that could be easily done simultaneously.

Agitating August – An Attack of Chicken Pox

I was quite on schedule doing the books when I contracted chicken pox in first week of August. It was pretty severe – kids were packed off to my parents’ place and my husband was almost quarantined as a caregiver for a week. My temperature in that one week was never below 105.

I got so weak that it took me more than a month to be able to sit on a chair for 30 minutes at a stretch. I started working but I had to take a break of at least 45 minutes after every 30 min. So much so for Pomodoro technique!!

My other projects got delayed; thankfully the editors were understanding and gave me time. And I concentrated on my book project.

Nerve-wracking November

As November began, I started getting negative vibes about my book project; there had been innumerable delays in review process and the publisher seemed unwilling to take my manuscripts. Finally, my gut feeling proved right when around 15th November he told me that they were shelving the project for the time being due to lack of time and preparation.

Around the same time my other regular project was put on hold as well; the company had shifted its gears. As I was not in regular touch with them, only delivering the articles on due dates, I did not see this coming.

Now I stared at a stark reality – no regular clients and my dream project gone for a toss. It plunged me into a bout of acute depression. I hardly wrote anything, though I had time. I started the day enthusiastically, looking for clients, but would soon find myself sitting in front of the idiot box, surfing channels aimlessly and munching any junk food I could lay my hands on.

Looking Ahead

Slowly, by talking to myself continuously, I have been able to pull myself out of my mental state. I have even got a few short-term jobs that will at least keep the ball rolling. I have joined my regular client on their new project. The pay is substantially less, but the content goes under my name, which I consider a big plus. Also, they pay regularly like clockwork, which will help pay the bills.

So things are looking up. I even did a financial review for 2017 and realized that I earned 80% of my total income this year in the first 6 months!! I was meeting the monthly targets too till I started working on the Computer books.

As I write, I realize there were so many learnings for me from the book project. I must write a post on that some other time.

For now, I am on a path to both mental and financial recovery. And after my vacation I hope to be rejuvenated enough to be able to go ahead full throttle.

This is the first time I have talked about my depression on my blog, though I have been struggling with it for more than a decade. It already feels liberating to be able to share my innermost thoughts with you all.

Happy Holidays!!

What has been your struggle with mental health? How have you coped when a dream project failed not because of your own fault?

Share your views in comments below.

And Happy Holidays!!

5 Life Changing Lessons from 50 Years of Marriage

50 Years of Marriage

Last month we celebrated my parents’ 50th marriage anniversary.

With family and close friends in attendance and truckloads of emotions flowing freely at the dinner party.

50 years is a long time by any benchmark. So there were lots of stories to be told, and we decided to make that the centerpiece of the event. Uncles and aunties and family members sharing anecdotes and feelings about ma and papa.

By and by the party turned into a sentimental journey down memory lane – what we had always wanted.

This occasion also gave us – my brother and me – to do something we had never done before. Thank our parents for all they had done. And not done.

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Grow up But don’t Grow out of What You Enjoyed as a Kid or Young Adult

Grow Up Donot Grow Out of Childhood

Yesterday morning I listened to two of my most favourite old songs, after so many years, on my car radio. And it perked me up like anything.

When I reached back home, I skipped and hopped around, putting the house in order. Then I took out my laptop and started working immediately.

Whole day I was in a good mood, finished two drafts I had been sitting on for almost a week, and even read some of the articles I had bookmarked.

Compare that with the previous day.

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Importance of Communication: My Learnings from a Real-Life Experience

Importance of Communication

The importance of communication cannot be emphasized enough. Recently, my husband and I missed on an important seminar in our city just because of non-communication. Let me tell you how.

The organizers of the event are old acquaintances. I personally don’t agree with their way of conducting business and their general moral compassing. So I don’t exactly enjoy their company and evade any invitations extended by them. My husband believes in keeping up connections in his network, so he does go to their events once in a while, even if just to register his presence.

This time it was different. They had organized a seminar of some prominent people in the region, which included some good speakers. The topic too was close to my heart: How to Make Bokaro a Greener and a Better Place. I very much wanted to attend such an august gathering discussing something that was so pertinent in my day-to day existence.

We received our invitations well in time and were pretty excited by it. However, a couple of days later I read some obnoxious news about the organizers. My first reaction was – I am not attending the seminar, I don’t want to be associated with them in any way. I was so emphatic in my statement that my husband never tried to discuss going there again. He knows how stubborn I can be and didn’t want to face my full-blown ire.

I think he also got confused by the news item and did not know what he should do. I say “I think” because we never discussed the issue. There was no further communication on it for the time being. Attending the seminar got a backseat in the ensuing weeks due a very hectic schedule. A couple of days before the event he proposed to me tentatively that we should consider attending the seminar as we might not get such an opportunity in near future. I replied as tentatively that I was not sure but could consider going.

We let it drop at that and there was no further communication on the issue till the day after the seminar when we read rave reviews about it. Only then did we sit to discuss it and realized that we had missed on this opportunity just because we had not communicated to the other person our feelings and ideas.

He assumed that I was very clear-cut in my stand and I felt he was not raising the issue because he was not keen on going. Whereas, the truth was that each one of us was weighing the pros and cons of going for the event, without coming to any specific decision.

If only we had taken the pains to discuss together, tell each other what was going in our minds, without harboring pre-conceived notions about the other person’s reaction, the outcome might have been different.

As a relationship grows older, we think that we know the other person so well that we know how they will react to any given situation. However, that is where we err. Even if the person is the same, each situation is unique and hence the reaction to that situation is bound to be unique. So we need to communicate what we are feeling and what we feel the other person is feeling. There never can be anything like over-communication between two people.

When I say relationship, it could be between a couple, two colleagues, boss and subordinate or manager and the team. As time progresses and a level of comfort seeps in, the same taking for granted attitude and pre-conceived notions set in.

These are my three learnings from this episode:

  • Never be over-confident about what the other person’s reaction to a situation will be.
  • Never feel shy about sharing your own thoughts and ideas.
  • Never give a final verdict without thinking through a situation.

You must also have missed out on something important due to no or less communication between the parties involved. Do share your experiences in the comments below.

How Self-talk is Making Me Forgetful and Absent Minded

ForgetfulnessI often forget where I have kept my daughter’s books after preparing her homework. At the onset of this winter, I just couldn’t find her school scarf with her winter clothes and had to buy her a new one.

My husband is so exasperated at my habit that he doesn’t let me lay my hands on anything that he might need in future. He keeps everything from clothes to documents to memorabilia to tit-bits in his own cupboard!!

And the best part is, many times I can’t remember if I have brushed my teeth or not. Though that is probably the easiest – I brush again to be sure I don’t go without it for the day. But it’s embarrassing if someone says, weren’t you brushing your teeth half an hour ago?

So am I forgetful or absentminded? Is it a medical problem or something quite mundane? One day I just got tired with it all and decided to find out more about them so that I could deal with them.

Understanding Forgetfulness and Absentmindedness

First of all, I Googled both the words to find their definitions and this is what I came up with:

Forgetfulness – lapse of memory

Absentminded – lost in thought and unaware of one’s surroundings or actions; preoccupied

On more research, I found some of the causes of forgetfulness to be listed as:

  • Old age
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medication
  • Health conditions like depression, underactive thyroid, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Multitasking

And some causes of absentminded behavior were listed to be:

  • Lack of attention
  • Distraction due to unwarranted thoughts
  • Intense attention to only one thing

I was happy to know that forgetfulness in young adults is usually attributed to lack of time management and overwork.

Is Self-Talk the Culprit

I ruled out medical conditions. Multitasking or time management did seem plausible. After much introspection I realized that my absentminded can be attributed to continuous self-talk. I carry on conversations with in my mind. All the time. For example, if I am cooking something I am not sure my daughter will like, I start having a conversation with her in my mind.

Conversations with Myself

Conversations with Myself

Me: Here, see what a delicious pasta I have made for you.

Daughter: But mummy, you know I don’t like capsicum and carrot and onions.

Me: These are good for your health. Besides, how do you expect the pasta to taste as good as it does without the veggies.

And it goes on and on…till my mind finds a new conversation. I don’t just talk to myself but feel the emotions too. I get elated or saddened by talking to myself.

 

I get so caught up in my monologues that I miss out on what is actually going on around me.

My brother used to call me deaf when we were in school. He would say that I feigned absentmindedness to escape doing little chores!!

Handling Forgetful Behavior

After realizing the probable cause for my woes I have started paying more attention to my surroundings. Besides that, here are some more steps I have taken for the time being:

  • Avoiding doing too many things at the same time
  • Meditation for 10-15 minutes in the morning
  • Using time management tools and techniques

I hope to get some results soon. But I am not too hopeful about remembering where I kept things some time back. If you have some helpful tips for me, do share.

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