Ever since man and woman came to partner on this planet, women have given birth. Birthing has been their second nature – an involuntary process – like breathing. But, times changed. And messages too. The modern woman was constantly drilled with messages about child birth that created dark and perilous clouds of fear in her mind. She was constantly being told if she won’t do this, that might happen, if she won’t listen to so and so, she’ll put her baby at risk. So, she was constantly listening – to every fear-inducing message from the authority figures, from the medical experts, from the machines and the lab tests. The only important being she was told to not listen to was her own body, her own inner wisdom and her natural instinct as a woman and a mother.
Last night, as I felt a part of me engulfed by sheer exhaustion, of the body as well as mind, I found myself inadvertently browsing through an old collection of photographs on the laptop. So momentous were the memories associated with these pictures that I felt goosebumps on my arms and a shiver down my spine. I was walking through visuals from a time of my life that was nothing if not life-changing. Those pictures were from the last few days before I gave birth to my second child – Sufiana (2.5 now). I realized that this is the first time I’m actually watching these pictures after clicking them for, I’d downloaded the pics on my hubby’s laptop, which I never use. Now, I’m using it as he got a new one and my old laptop is on its verge.
Within minutes of going through those photographs, my mind stopped racing; I wasn’t blinking as much; my breath felt less laboured. I felt love within me, for myself. I felt grateful that I was able to do all that I wanted to.
So, here’s the story and the visuals…
In a previous post, I shared our upcycled saree curtains and referred to that queen bed which has propagated many lovely pieces of furniture. We’d dismantled that whole bed with the help of a local carpentar, extracted three wall shelves from one portion of the bed. The bed itself was broken down into two singles, which we’d painted earlier – in a shabby chic, distress style (pics below). I couldn’t wait to do something different with the wall shelves. So, here’s the rest of the post, see for yourself…
When it comes to art or craft (or, any other subject for that matter) I keep getting smitten by a new form or type or tool every so often. There’s just so much to explore and learn and yet such limited time to create with a 2.5 year old around. An over dose of curiosity and an under dose of free time to ‘make’ is a tough combination. And that has an impact. It impacts my ability to master a specific art form that I’m exploring at a particular time. (Paper Mache, right now…..).
I never feel more given to
than when you take from me –
when you understand the joy I feel
giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done
to put you in my debt,
but because I want to live the love
I feel for you.
To receive with grace
may be the greatest giving.
There’s no way I can separate
When you give to me,
I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, I feel so
These verses, dear readers, is by Ruth Bebermeyer from the album Given To.
I felt deeply that I must share this poem with you all to express how I feel after receiving your positive and warm comments today (on the blog and on FB page) – about the blog post (‘Upcycled Home‘). I published today after a gap of 7-8 months and was totally not sure anyone would ever read anything from me given my erratic ways on the blog. But, by receiving my writing in a way that you did, you’ve given me the gift of joy and grace and love. It’s a beautiful confusion happening – my writing is my giving to you and your receiving gracefully is your giving to me. As it’s said in the lines above – “to receive with grace may be the greatest giving.
I’d also like to share that I came across this poetry in the book ‘Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life‘ by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Have been reading and re-reading this book and I can only say it’s truly life-changing. Life-changing because it teaches you the language (not just words) of compassion that stems from the heart. It helps you listen to what others have to say and to express effectively what’s on your mind and in your heart. It gives clear and concise ways to improve your inter-personal relationships.
As I was typing the password to enter into my blog’s admin page (to write!), I wondered if the password would work. It’s been so long after-all. Wasn’t sure if it was the same or I’d changed it along the way.
The password remains the same. Only, I’ve been too stuck to open that page. Stuck in my mind? Stuck in my beliefs? Well, that remains a question for me to introspect.
For now, I’m dying to catch up with you all. To see how you’ve been. And, to let you know what I’ve been upto.
Well, for one, we moved houses – nearly seven months back. (And, that’s exactly how long I haven’t written here). So, not that I’m justifying, but a house move takes a big toll on my writing. And, art. And, craft. Oh well….! There I go again. But, hey, it does. Besides all the obvious tasks related to a house move (and the house hunt not to forget), there are new things that get my adrenalin flowing.
Like a blank canvas, a new house is so tantalizing – it’s exciting, nervous, challenging – all at the same time – to do up the space.
Yes, literally a blank canvas it was….
This house. For, before we moved, we’d sold off even the very basic furniture we had; parted with most of the crockery, furnishings, heaps and heaps of books. A house move itself is so tiring; I didn’t want to waste my time and energy over managing all that stuff that we can very well live without; all that possession that consumes my time, energy and attention away from my top priority – my children. Plus, my need to create time for my own creative satisfaction.
Over the years I’ve come to realize, all that we fret over – the clothes, the artefacts, the crockery, the curtains, the carpets and rugs – they only further us away from the selves that we want to be. For in the middle of acquiring and managing, there isn’t much time for self discovery, introspection, meditation, ‘doing nothing’, living in the moment, living mind-fully – things that take you closer to yourself. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the good stuff – wow, I know how much I love a good piece of handmade earthenware/ceramics! The problem, I think, arises when the ‘stuff’ scripts our life story and stress takes over….
Hence, the clean-up.
But well, in the next few months, we did buy some stuff – absolutely essential and simpler – easy to manage and simple in style – a style that reflects the people that we are at this stage in life – inside out.
The best part of this whole project was recycling and upcylcing a ton of things. And that includes converting bulky double beds into two single units; handpainting our own beds, art tables, chairs; upcycling age-old sarees into curtains. And, this reuse, recycle, refurbish, repair project is still on. Repurposing headboards into wall shelves – they’ve turned out gorgeous. So, lots of pics to share with you all. But, I need to download the pics and that may take another couple of days. So, in the meantime, I couldn’t wait to share this rambling from my heart.
There’s an old mirror that needs rehash.
There are cardboard boxes that I can convert into pieces of art.
There are old pots and pans that can be my canvases for zentangle art or something else.
There’re family photos that are being beckoned by those bare white walls.
But, more than anything else, I’ve got to start new seeds in my garden. (okay, I have those seeds sprouting already by the time I got around to publishing this post!) The rains aren’t far off and I need my saplings to be fairly sturdy just in time to be able to withstand the ferocious Goan monsoons.
In my next post, I’ll share my kitchen garden with you. I’ve harvested much and some are withering away in the current scorching conditions. A lot to share nevertheless.
Whoa…it feels good, to be writing again, to have those words tucked away in my chest tumbling out making amusing and weird sounds. Those stuck-up words had become an ache in my heart, a noise in my head.
More than anything else, I’m grateful to you, dear friends/readers, for being around here even though I haven’t written and connected with you all for months now. Thank you from my heart for reading this article. Please come by and say hello, share what you’ve been upto, what’s new and meaningful and fun (or not so fun) in your life right now. Hugs and blessings….
I’ve always had an interest in doing up our home in a way that’s inviting, open, airy, well-lit and most importantly – feels warm and cozy and creative and sparks the imagination of the young ones (and older ones too!). This interest, since childhood, has become a passion ever since I became a mother. Yes, ever since I had my children – first Pari, and then Sufiana – rather than relegating the home decor (‘home environment’ is a more apt word for me) to the bottom of the daily bucket-list (due to lack of time) I’ve maintained it as one of the top priorities. Some might feel that it’s not prudent to ‘waste’ time on doing up the house when you have young children to attend to, specially a 1.5 years old. But, I can argue otherwise. And, this is why:
A home environment, I feel, can play a very positive role in the development of young minds and bodies. A child who’s actively seeking out the world and exploring new things will feel motivated and charged up to be in a clutter-free space that sparks imagination, allows freedom to move and play in safety, and puts the child at ease – to run, dance, sing, create, paint, mould, tinker – without being interrupted.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the ideas from my own home (at different times) that inspired my children and encouraged fun, learning, discovery and creation. Not to forget – beautiful bonding times for us all as a family.
This post, friends, is an invitation – an invitation to participate (with Pari and me) in wild discoveries – in the yard, in the ditches, in flower pots, vegetable beds, forest floors, in and around water bodies, on the terrace of your home, in the balconies or courtyards or patios, in the gardens, parks, jogging tracks.
Here’s the idea. The monsoons (rainy season, in India) here have arrived, and has awakened the dry land with new life, fresh colours and rich fragrance of the soil. The canvas is being repainted and new elements are being added to this canvas with every glorious shower. Elsewhere around the world, it’s a great time for exploration too.
How can we not go outdoors to explore, appreciate and investigate this changing vista – this renewed canvas?
So, we thought, why do it alone? Why not invite all our friends, family, readers, fellow homeschoolers, unschoolers, school-goers, fellow bloggers – to join in in this wild hunt. Age is not a bar. Nor is geography.
So, here we are – shouting out to all you curious, nature-loving, fun-loving, adventurous people to join us in this journey of wild discoveries where we’ll observe, click, take notes, note species, location, description, our impressions, research, questions, inferences and much more – about the wild thing that we go out to find anywhere (as I mentioned in the beginning – yard, terrace, garden, park, forest…)
Read up to know more about this Exploration and how you can join us. Also, other details like when does this start and end, where can we all submit our weekly findings, how can we maintain a journal (if desired) and more.
If you ask me to relate some of the most tender, fun, interactive, musical, nostalgic moments I’ve spent with my babies (first Pari and then Sufiana), those moments have to be from the “maalish time” (massage time) we’ve spent together every single day. Often, twice a day – for more than two years, consistently. Infact, I still massage Pari – before she goes to bed on days when she’s tired or cranky or just needs extra love.
Massaging infants and babies and even toddlers is not a modern concept. Definitely not in India (where the tradition of infant massage goes back several hundred years) and not around the world. Every culture emphasizes the importance of baby massage – for health, bonding, communication, for building trust and love between the baby and her parent/caregiver.
In this article, I share why infant/baby massage is the next best thing to exclusive breastfeeding – for the all-round development of babies. Yes, not just physical but also social-emotional-cognitive development.
Actually, it’s not just babies who will benefit, the mother (or father) stands to gain in ways that cannot be quantified. Think about the one-to-one “you and me” time, the hormonal surge in the mother’s system evoked by the touch on the baby’s tender body, the content and peace she feels watching her baby relax to the point of being blissed-out. All the positive signs and gestures and expressions through which the baby communicates to the mother (or father) how much she/he means to him/her; how much he/she loves her/his company, her/his voice, her/his touch. That “there’s nothing else that brings more joy to me, mamma/papa, than being with you, being loved and caressed by you. Thank you for your touch and intent.”
So, here’re some tid bits from my own experience of “maalish time” with my babies. Also sharing some key notes from expert articles and books on this subject.
Last but not least – a most enriching and aromatic gift for you and your baby – to make your maalish time the best time of the day. This gift – a giveaway – is contributed by Kaavya of Coconess. Coconess – as the name suggests, has come up with coconut oil at its best – extra virgin – infused with the soothing properties of Lavendar, toning nature of Brahmi and Bala – for babies, and for mothers – to tone and strengthen the post partum muscles.
Until about three weeks back, the tomato plants in my yard were all green. They had grown to a size that I was expecting them to flower. But the flowers weren’t blooming. Every morning and afternoon and evening I would go inspecting in the hope of spotting tiny yellow flowers. But, only beautiful green leaves greeted me. And then, one fine day I spot a few flowers. A few days later some more. Within 10 days, most of my plants were wearing their flowery yellow embellishments. Oh, how it suited them! I couldn’t stop admiring and telling them how gorgeous they looked. My yard looked like a cosmos of stars, only they twinkled in bright daylight. (My home is a cosmos too. My children the stars – the tomatoes – waiting to ripen to their bright red, ripe, juicy glory – given the nurturing environment, the time and space and the creative freedom.)