Read THIS First ..

Read THIS First..
Each word on this blog is the original creation of the writer. You better not copy it!
No comment is directed towards any individual/group.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I'll still be me...

This is for those who're beginning any new phase in life and feel anxious about losing their old selves in the process


Long after change has wrapped me, completely,
When you've seen me in a different avatar
Seeming to stem from my mind or my heart
Let this be a reminder to later see,
At the very core, I'll still be me

A different face, a different style
A difference dress, worn to impress
A different walk, a different talk
A change in likes (or dislikes)
New experiments, leaving the old style behind
Would be borne out of a wish
To keep up and blend without a blemish

It's nothing wrong
To want a smooth sail
Even I am scared,
What if I fail?
This feeling's one of a kind

Just see deep under my smile
It's still just mine
Despite all the change you see

I'll always still be me...

~Ashna

Friday, March 31, 2017

The anatomy of fear

A big portion of our life is spent dealing with this thing called fear. More often than not, fear comes in disguise. We don't realise it's essentially 'fear' we are facing. Sometimes it really annoys me when I'm sitting and just not feeling good. There seems to be no valid reason for it. I am a girl who goes by logic. I have everything I could need in life. There are always more aspirations, of course, but I don't crave them as such. Then why can't my heart be light and happy? What is it that draws me under, for no apparent reason? I was sitting and staring at my bookshelf, thinking about this, when I saw this book called Mastermind--How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. I've always loved the way Holmes can sit and THINK logically and know answers to the most baffling questions. Could I solve this riddle in my life in the same way?

Turns out that even if you cannot 'solve' such questions, you can surely find yourself introspecting and having certain realisations that can help you understand it better. It's like the way it happens when you're feeling sick--unless you KNOW what's the cause of your illness, you'll keep getting paranoid and feeling worse. Knowing the cause immediately makes you feel a whole lot better, because you then know what to do about it. Knowing, understanding, is key.

I had also come across an article that talked about why our generation is generally more unhappy--the expectations we have from ourselves, drawn from the expectations our previous generation has from us, are way higher than what the current state of the world can afford. The world is changing too fast--and we're stuck with expectations that arose decades ago. We can't keep up with them. This, however, is a generation-wide case. What can be done is to KNOW that this is a problem and find your own ways of dealing with it.

So, what IS fear? What is it that makes us afraid of facing our fear? Here are some definitions I realised can be termed as our fears:

1. That feeling when you realise you might not fulfill a loved one's expectations. Or your own, for that matter.

2. Fear is not a 'pre' concept. You can feel fear for a situation that has already passed. You either did not feel it at that time or the intensity of other emotions was more than fear. This happened with me and adventure rides. I'd always been keen on rides that made you turn upside down, go full speed in dark tunnels, or make you enter creepy passageways, but later on when I stand and look at other people on those rides, I am fearful, a good number of what-ifs running through my mind, making my heart beat faster with anxiety. I'm scared of it all--AFTERWARDS. 

There have been other similar feelings--looking at the vulnerability of college-going kids sitting around the metro stations and realising you survived it all. That split-second shudder you get when you think about how you were lucky enough to have it smooth.

3. Fear is uncertainty. That feeling when a loved one doesn't pick your call(s); when you wait for a result; when you bite your nails thinking about a future event; when your heart beats rapidly before you have to address someone; when you want to know what the other person is thinking but you're afraid to ask. 
I feared this stream until I stepped into it
4. Fear is intuition's enemy. Fear likes to creep in silently or to surprise us, but our intuition warns us beforehand. 

5. Fear feeds on pessimism. Fear captures our mind when it's busy with what-ifs and have-nots. 

6. Fear lives in the mind. A child is fearless because she/he cannot differentiate between the dangerous and the safe. A child's mind has no compartments for fear to hide in. We are fearful of situations that have never happened, and that is where fear wins. It makes us keep thinking of something we don't want till we end up suffering from that very thing. 

7. Fear is ruthless. You can't plead with it to stop; you can't ask it to come later. 

 Well, I'm still a long way away from being like Holmes, but at least I managed to dissect the idea of fear to be able to better understand it (and write a post about it, which matters SO MUCH). Apart from this, there are some genuine reasons too (such as the pollution and stress and population and politics and whatever else we're surrounded with), but I still don't know why, even when you know the reasons, you can't shake off the anxious beating of your heart. My heart, for one, never ever listens to my brain's instructions. It's a spoilt brat that way.

Can you relate with this post? What do you think fear is? 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Recap; Hello 2017!

Another year gone, seemingly in the blink of an eye (why o why? Take it slow, life!), and all I can think is, "THIS was the year of absolute changes and it's incredible how I've come to accept and embrace it." You know how I would always state that I don't really like changes, but then comes a time in life when you are so severely tested that it finally dawns upon your scorched soul that changes can be for the better and it'd be wise to enjoy life the way it is. No whining.

I'll be frank. I did whine. A lot. 2016 brought with it tons of mind-boggling situations, major decision-making, super annoyances BUT with the grace of the almighty (and my restored faith in Him) the year ended quite pleasantly. Here's a summary of 2016 (including resonant answers to deep questions):

2016 brought me to the edge. It was scary but the view was exciting.

January 2016--March 2016

1. Reminiscing the past by re-reading Harry Potter! I ended up reading just the first four books, after which life happened I realised we need to work to survive.
Lesson learned: Work is important, but not important enough to discontinue reading Harry Potter! Nothing ever is.

2. Feeling inhibitions that my three-month old workplace isn't ideal. The feeling quickly escalated and I began a job search in the same industry (aka publishing aka the home for my beloved books). Lesson learned: Listen to your heart and begin looking for a job right when you feel it! The process takes ages and you might end up losing your sanity if you aren't quick enough. I saved mine, thank goodness!

Is this what I came for? Err...
3. Travelling to Jaipur with a couple of girl-friends just to chill and relax. Experienced life in Zostel, roamed around the city markets, visited historical forts and acted like typical tourists. #itwasfun
Lesson learned: Trips with friends always equal jannat.

4. Securing a freelance work op with a biggie publisher. Hi-5! The best two months of my work life (after which... erm... please don't ask. Kbye.)
Lesson learned: Don't judge yourself based on others' opinion of you. Also, good times don't last. But again, it's all for the best!

*sigh* Good days!

April 2016--June 2016

1. The family trip to Australiaaa. Those days I felt like I knew what it means to be truly happy--it was such an amazing trip! You can read about it in the previous post.
Lesson learned: The frog needs to get out of the well more often.

Because the world can be fun!
2. Hard luck and illness can strike anyone, even a 5yo barely two months into school. My beautiful nephew was diagnosed with cancer. We did some fundraising to help the family cover treatment costs. It was an overwhelming experience for us all as we saw people from all walks of life come forward to help.
Lesson learned: You can never know beforehand who's going to be your support in times of trouble. Be grateful for everything.
Update: His initial phase of chemo is almost at a close, and he seems to be doing well. Much love and appreciation for everyone's help. :')
You can follow his story on this Facebook page.

July 2016--September 2016

1. Desperation at the job front, looking at other industries and failing classically. Realising that successes are hard to get, and keeping one's will power in check requires every ounce of effort one can muster.
Lesson learned: Keep going. Be visibly appreciative of family and friends who stick with you even when they suffer the effects of your mood swings.

October 2016--December 2016

1. Incessant prayers worked their magic and I got just the very thing I wanted. It also feels quite exciting, so yay!
Lesson learned: Feel free to weave your dreams, but always go with the flow. Every experience gives lasting value and shapes your mind, psychology and behaviour. Be open and accepting, and before you know, you'll get what's best for you. And you'll know it when you see it!

If only I looked just as cute!
I recently came across these lines by the philosopher Socrates, which resonated with me instantly:  “If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

2. Friendships have incredible power. Those who believe in you when you yourself don't, those who "make the effort" to help ease things for you, they're the ones to hug tight!
Lesson learned: More often than not, you wouldn't see it when you're low, because it's extremely trying to think of anything but your helplessness, but every once in a while when the depressing feeling passes, you'll see the depths of your friendships (or the extreme shallowness of some, for that matter). When you see it, you'll work at becoming a better friend yourself.

~ ~ ~

Matters of interest

1. I'm a lot more confident now, thanks to the tough situations I faced this year. I also met new people and it was fantastic!

2. I realised that hard work pays. You just have to stay cool, calm and confident, and believe you're going to win. That way, even if you lose, you still feel like a winner--rejuvenated and energized to start all over again or to look for alternatives, both of which are equally important.

3. Life is finite and too short to
- worry over materialistic gains
- overthink about what someone said to you out of ignorance or spite
- not enjoy each day
- spend time eating junk food
- think about people

Always!

4. Sometimes you are just not the same you as before. It can be a painful transition, knowing you don't feel like doing the things you liked doing, but at some point of time comes the ultimate relief--an inner acceptance of things that doesn't burden you with guilt or regret. It's pure evolution when you look at life from the other end of the kaleidoscope and find the view just as mesmerizing.

That's a lot about 2016 (not by my standards, and you know it. But I gotta think about you too), so let's move on to the much-sought-after things in 2017! Woohoo!

#1: The new job! I'm nervous and excited and it feels like I'm being given a second life. Thank you, dear God. I'll make you proud.

#2: My girl-best friend's wedding!!!! OMG I never before knew weddings could be so exciting! #funahead

Gonna be like this :P

#3: Becoming a kickass book blogger (I'll be here too, my pet). I will admit--I sucked at blogging in 2016 and I'm not even using the but-my-brain-was-dead-with-other-things excuse. I didn't even read 50 books (I think. I need to check Goodreads right away! Ohman. I read 39 books, the lowest in five years! I know, I know. I had decided not to go with numbers but you can't help taking a peek every month or so, especially when you have been overachieving your goals for years. I'm gonna make up for it this year. I mean, I MISS BOOKS! It's weird--the one whole year I worked in publishing, I read the least number of books. #thissucks) 

Anyway, this means I'm gonna be on the lookout for the latest books AND find my way to them AND devour them like a hungry bookworm AND post amazing reviews on my blog here (Subscribe if you haven't. I promise you won't regret it.) I might get into bookstagram too. You never know. (But you'll know if I do, because if you read this, you're bound to follow my bookstagram (which is instagramming about books)). Naturally I'll be into photography as well.

#4: Read more (as mentioned in #3) and read DIVERSE. Ugh, just read!!! I don't even like myself when I haven't read enough.

#5: Learn other language(s): Includes Punjabi (which I should have by this time), Spanish (which I should have remembered, having learned it for two years), French (just 'cuz I wanna. Also 'cuz I make insane goals).

#6: Learn about make-up and hairstyling: I'll do this at a very basic level, but I'll do it! Why? (And YOU, the friend, stop looking at me like that.) Because I'm a girl and a grown-up and I still don't know about these two essential things. I mean, why look average when you can look excellent?

#7: Don't waste time thinking about or because of people. Just do your own thing because your time is the most important thing--why not spend it in a useful activity?

#8: Keep the phone/computer away before bedtime. It's not only harmful but I haven't read a book at bedtime the ENTIRE year because of these two addictions. In fact, this reminds me, I haven't recharged my poor Kindle for two whole months! #stopthisatrocitynow

I wanttt!

#9: Say it. A lot of things go unspoken just because I'm confused about the other person's mindset (which is a rarity, because generally I know it by instinct, so people who confuse me also interest me greatly!). Therefore, to save myself the pain of overthinking, I will just be upfront and ask what the matter is! 

#10: Be chill. Enjoy life. Spend time with friends. Laugh more often (this is a need because I've had people tell me I don't smile enough and it feels so weird because... I don't know. I'm happy but it doesn't show on my face for some reason? Of course people aren't like people at home who can crack me up in a second, and they know my laugh is no less than a full-blown guffaw.) Anyway, laugh when someone cracks a joke. :P

#11: Learn more about Sikhism and teach you peoples about it too. I've done some reading and listening in 2016 and it has made me feel ever so lucky to have been born in this community, and it inspires me to live up to the name and do what we're supposed to do as Sikhs (be charitable, be kind, be truthful, be strong and fight for rights, to begin with). Also, today celebrates 350th birth anniversary of the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, also founder of the Khalsa and the one who instructed Sikhs to follow the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the Guru to know about God and ways to live life. A powerful warrior and spiritual leader, Guru Gobind Singh Ji inspires us even today. I'd recommend this 43 minute documentary on his life: Life of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

That's a lot to remember for a year, so I'll stop at that. I'm just happy 2016 is over and the new year comes with new promises and I am in a mindset to enjoy it, which is so awesome. Yay! How did 2016 treat you guys? Any resolutions for 2017?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stay tuned!


What? Did you really BELIEVE I had gone for good? Just because I haven’t blogged here for months and months? C’mon. A girl can be in a PHASE. It’s normal in this abysmal, intensely stressful time that we’re living in. You should, in fact, be consoling ME. I’ve missed recording practically half a year of my life! Not that I’d forget it easily (what a roller-coaster!), but still. What if I suffer from a weird case of memory loss? Anything is possible. I live in the world’s most polluted city (I think), where pollution isn’t just in the air but also in people’s MINDS. It takes a lot just to be alive, so you better be thankful that I’m HERE. I’ll get back to being regular very soon, before the year ends, I promise! Till then, this is a quickie update on life and random blah, blah. 

#1. A quintessential holiday!
After years and years and years, we (my family) FINALLY decided to make a trip to the beauuutifuuullll Australia! *shrieks and bounces with excitement, even though the holiday got over months ago* (Again, it’s normal to feel so.) We spent a good 15 days frolicking around Queensland (mostly in Brisbane and Gold Coast) and was it fun or whaaat???


~Things that were FUN~

SO MANY EXPERIENCES!

a. Living in a countryside house = such low levels of traffic as never seen before!

b. Witnessing EVERYONE following traffic rules. Flawless, freakishly awesome traffic rules. That’s also what makes it possible for people to drive sports cars. Oh, also riding in a sports car!

c. Ferrying around in a ferry that acts as public transport (!!!) on the Brisbane river right in the middle of the city!
  

d. Walking through a rainforest, tripping over old, HUGE, gnarled roots (that was just me, though), climbing to the very top of a tree-top walk (just me, too! I am DARING), and discovering you are scared of rope bridges (perhaps not as daring as you thought) because no matter how fabulous you are, you still can’t fly! (I am logical.)

e. Feeding sharp-clawed, multi-coloured parrots (that’s how they come there) on your palm and watching with amazement how they manage to eat the insides of the seeds and leave the shells in your hand.

f. Taking a membership of a casino the very first day of arrival (HAHAHA!) and not going there a second time (because, no time, not because it wasn’t awesome).

g. Having barbeque picnics everywhere!! There are electric, fully-functional barbeques and picnic tables everywhere you see. Australia understands that people need food and fun in life!

h. Getting a kookaburra to pose for you, for free! I didn’t imagine that when we would be going for a real, old-style barbeque-using-wood picnic, we would actually spot a kookaburra. I could barely keep my camera straight, I was SO excited. The bird obliged (I guess he/she was used to it?) and I clicked away.


i. Also feeding birds (despite uncle’s warnings) with your hands. Then leaving a pot of water on the gone-out-but-still-hot barbeque grill (to be later made into chai. We Indians. *shakes head*) AND all our stuff (just like that!) while going for a trail walk, and half the time my mind recuperating from the shock of having left all our belongings in the open (despite uncle’s reassurances). And then coming back to find it all ransacked by CROWS.

j. Playing with a Frisbee after all these years, in the middle of the woods, with wallabies munching grass nearby. Trying to feed wallabies but failing.

Come to me! Come! (They didn't :/)


k. Animals! Petting kangaroos, watching koalas eating eucalyptus leaves and wishing I was a koala too (nothing to do but eat and sleep), wallabies, dingos (wild dogs, thankfully behind a fence), alpacas.


Make me a koala, someone!


l. Birds! Photographing magpies, parrots (known as rainbow lorikeets), kookaburras, seagulls, ravens and ibis, in varying degrees of awesomeness.


Ibis!
Can we move to water now??? Please? There were a LOT of things; I can’t possibly list them all. The trip point was supposed to be ONE point, for God’s sake!

m. Having your feet slowly sink in the soft sand as water gushes over them… feeling like you’re standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and feeling a nice kind of dizzy with waves gradually coming up to you! And then feeling your heart drop for a mini-second as the wave rushes back, and you begin to slip as the sand slides from beneath your feet (and you realize you can’t swim!). OMG The Gold Coast beach!!! It was also the first proper beach of my life and it was gorgeous! It’s considered one of the cleanest beaches, and so true! There wasn’t a SPECK of rubbish anywhere along the long beach.




n. Watching the sun’s golden glow rise in the sky as you stand in the water, its overpowering pull making you feel warm and dizzy again. Also watching surfer dudes surfing (what else?) and barely keeping from crying out loud as they just flop in the water sometimes… right in the SEA! Don’t people love their lives or what? Don’t they know that surfer dudes are a rare species?

Mesmerised by the sunrise ^_^
o. Walking on a high sea bed to reach an island and collecting lovely shells (despite G’s warnings that they might contain a dragon or something. Ha, I lied. He used the words ‘snail’ and ‘insect’ but aren’t they the same? Cute and pet-worthy?). In any case, I did what I did because I had to (where else would I be found collecting shells in my life?), and it was great fun! We also saw tiny soldier crabs!

SO MANY SHELLS TO PICK! AAAAHHH!
p. Insisting (that was pure me) on going to the very edge of a fishing post to be as close to the water as possible, not caring that it jutted into the sea and had sharks (uncle said). Finding G trailing along because of course he wanted to ensure I didn’t end up tripping straight into the water (like such a silly thing could ever happen). Did I mention that the water was mysteriously blue-GREEN?

o. Reveling at a theme park and being surprised with a huge, splash-like ride that went backward, down the slope! My heart had only just begun to beat when it happened AGAIN in another ride. ALSO. Staring open-mouthed at penguins (wheee!), a sea lion, DOLPHINS(!!), a polar bear, sharks, sting rays, loads of fish, star fish, sea urchin and a KRAKEN!! (Okay, that one was mechanical, but still! It moved!)

SHARK!!

~Things that were SHOCKING~

1. Everywhere is so CLEAN. How can a place not  have hideous spit-and-paan stains at least somewhere?? Not even a TINY bit of waste paper or wrapper on the roads? I must admit, I was secretly GLOWING. Being such a sucker for throwing-waste-in-the-dustbins, I adored feeling “at home” looking at people throwing things where they belong rather than having them staring at me when I carry waste in my arms till I reach a dustbin.  Seriously. At one point (while drooling at a WB characters’ parade) I didn’t even realize I was leaning against an actual dustbin. I’d become so attached to them.

2. Strangers smile at you AND IT ISN’T WEIRD! People are generally nice to each other. They make conversations with strangers who are having a picnic by the beach, on top of a hill, or even next to a cemetery (the strangers being us, and yes we did that!). They wish you a nice day even when you leave their shop without buying anything (and they also wouldn’t attach themselves to you like leeches until you either bought something or left in disgust. Am I making too many indirect comparisons???) This is why travelling is important. It makes you believe that what you know about people is but a minuscule fraction of humanity.

3. There are so many clean public restrooms, you actually won’t have to worry about nature’s calls when you’re out. In fact, you might even welcome them! I can rant and compare this one at least, as it is so obvious we don’t have even a teeny weeny portion of such amenities here. But no seriously, you can absolutely go ANYWHERE, including JUNGLES and you’ll find functional, clean restrooms so you can enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the place without such interruptions (which turn into emergencies where I live).

Basically, it was beyond awesome.

*sigh* I had to write more points. I’ll just sum them up below.

 #2: Making major career decisions
In short, feeling like a wreck for months and months and turning into a monster bred in captivity because the job uncertainty was SO STRONG. UGH. I hate when stupid things bring me down. But I, like the full-blown warrior that I am, with the support of my loyal cadets (okay, BECAUSE of the cadets), FOUGHT and WON. Yoohoo! I don’t know if what’s happened is good or bad. It definitely seems awesome as of now. Which means it must be awesome. With the new year, I’ll be in a MBA-kind of job rather than working as an editor for children’s books (what a change!) but I am delighted about it. Call me a hypocrite, like I care. People change. This is proof. (But I will keep doing editing projects, if I get any. I totally should, because I have experience and I KNOW stuff.)

#3: Reading books
Obviously. I’ve mastered the art of reading so that you’d find me reading books even when I’m dead. My ghost will be by my bookshelf or in one of the awesome libraries of the world where I hadn’t been while alive. Some of the books I’ve devoured this year:

a. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (It sucked)

b. City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (The series is called The Mortal Instruments and I hadn’t read it while it was receiving attention from the world. It is GOOD, but so emotionally draining that I might take a break before jumping into the rest of the series.)

c. Six books from the Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell (Just to relive teen years. These were breezing, time-pass reads. Not that great.)

d. The Lord of the Rings series (wayyyyyy more awesome in books. The movies are GHASTLY.)

e. Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton (You will never regret the books. WAY more scary than the boom-bam movies. Dinosaurs don’t just SLAM into view. They SNEAK. No points for guessing which is more terrorizing.)

f. Some Hercule Poirot mysteries by Agatha Christie (and discovering a fondness for ‘method’ and armchair detectives.)

g. Many more. Go check my book blog or Goodreads for details.

This was supposed to be a tiny post just to mention that I’d be back soon. I have WORK still! See y’all soon!

PS- Blogger changed its look while I was gone! I need to exploreeeee.


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