Blogathon 2015

I dozed off as I read a book to Medha. Prasad couldn’t believe I was sleeping without publishing my post for the day. He tried waking me up, but I found it hard to keep my eyes open. It felt good to be sleeping. Really good. Nothing else mattered … Even the Blogathon. The Blogathon? The LAST DAY OF THE BLOGATHON? I awoke with a jolt of understanding that I HAD to finish the race, I HAD to publish the last post of this marathon blogging. I had come so far…Now I had to see it through.

When Seema asked me whether I’d be interested in participating in the Blogathon, I agreed without giving much thought to it, although I was slightly scared, and excited too.

At the start of a new year I’m always looking for new challenges, new goals for myself. I accepted this one as a personal challenge, without realizing how big a challenge and what a learning and transformative experience it was going to be.

I wasn’t posting regularly before this marathon began. I only posted once, or maybe twice, a week, which itself felt like a lot of work. I knew not how I’d be posting everyday, for 31 days, even on Sundays. SUNDAYS! When all I do on that day is eat a hearty meal at a restaurant, sleep the whole afternoon, shop for the next week’s grocery and spend time with Prasad reminiscing about the ‘American life’ we left behind, over a big cup of Cafe Latte at Cafe Coffee Day. Who has the time to publish a post on Sunday?? I wondered.

But I did. This exercise of posting regularly pushed me beyond what I thought I am capable of. It stretched my limits. I didn’t know I had it in me to come up with something to write everyday. I always thought I wasn’t imaginative enough, that I wasn’t capable of generating ideas. But I managed to, sometimes in the nick of time.

For a month, I put on a new “lens” and saw my life differently. Everything about it was examined to see whether it could be used to churn out a fresh post. I took on new experiences with gusto; I read through my journals to see if anything could be turned into a post during a busy day; I tried new recipes to post my experience preparing them. In order to post something each day, I tried to make my life a bit more interesting and exciting than it already is.

Is that bad?

I always assumed my brain couldn’t function late at night. When I realized I only had a chunk of time between 10 pm to midnight, that was not interrupted by the kids or chores that needed my attention, I decided to work on my posts at night, after the kids went to bed. It was hard in the beginning, but, gradually, my brain became habituated to working at those hours. Like I said, this challenge broke my own perceptions about myself. I began thinking,”If I can do THIS, why not try ‘y'”?, the ‘y’ being anything from trying a new recipe everyday and posting my experience, for a month, to, writing a book by typing a 500 words each day, for about 6 months.

I’m big on projects and goals. I start off with zest, putting a lot of time into their planning and preparation. But somewhere along the way my enthusiasm fizzles and all I’m doing is trying to find the nearest way out. But something about this challenge made me want to stick it out, through thick and thin. I think it was because I wasn’t attempting to do this in a vacuum, all by myself. It felt like I was doing this with a bunch of friends, friends who took time from their busy schedules to leave a comment (or two) for everything I posted, friends who gave me that little nudge of encouragement to continue posting when the going got tough. It felt like I finally found a community of like-minded people.

Thank you all… YOU made this journey worthwhile.

Thank you Seema for letting me join the ride!

And before I forget, I want to thank my husband and my little sis for being my cheerleaders and in my husband’s case, a harsh critic as well. Thank you! I wouldn’t have been able to do this without your support, encouragement, ideas, enthusiasm and love.

Now I’m off to have a good night’s sleep.(I hope the little one doesn’t wake me up early in the morning, like he usually does!)

“29 things…”- halfway through

Here’s what I set out to do in the month of May, 2014, 29 things to accomplish before I turn 29 in May, 2015:

1. Start a new venture (I have an idea what)
2. Participate in 30 days of lists
3. Cook 29 authentic, traditional South Indian recipes and blog about them
4. Send an article to a newspaper/magazine
5. 29 projects with Medha
6. Learn Photoshop
7. Read the Bhagvad Gita
8. Visit the British Council
9. Read all Harry Potter books
10. Volunteer
11. Make a list of birthdays/anniversaries of family and friends
12. Visit a museum
13. Travel to a place I’ve never been before
14. Watch Smash season 1
15. Learn Telugu
16. Review a fancy restaurant we visit for my blog
17. Have my picture taken with the kids once every month
18. An usie with Prasad every month
19. Get grills done to our home
20. Get a facial done
21. Send out birthday cards
22. Subscribe to highlights genies magazine for Medha
23. Read “the happiness project” once again
24. Clean my inbox
25. Finish onward and upward class
26. Make a folder for the study material related to o&u
27. Once a month list all the things I’m grateful for in my life
28. Finish work on my kids’ album
29. Buy myself something special when I cross the halfway mark.

I’m cringing as I look through my list and see where I am and how far I need to go. This embarrassment is not because I have only accomplished about 11 goals, which means I haven’t achieved half the number of things I set out to do more than halfway into this challenge. I know setting goals and working towards them isn’t easy. Easy is drifting through life, like a leaf blown by the wind.

So what’s up with the cringing, you might wonder. It’s the kind of goals I set for myself. I feel like I didn’t think through some of them. 29 things to achieve in a year is hard, especially when there are time-consuming goals like “cook 29 authentic, traditional South Indian recipes and blog about them” and goals like “29 projects with Medha” that depends on the enthusiasm and patience of a 4 year old and goals like “an usie with Prasad every month” that get forgotten in the frantic pace of certain months. In short, I feel like my goals are not SMART:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Timely

  •  “Start a new venture” isn’t specific, “Start a library” is, but that didn’t work out. Prasad and I thought of buying a Justbooks franchise but when we calculated our investment and the gains, it didn’t work in our favor, so we dropped the idea.
  •  “Learn Telugu” isn’t measurable. I can speak a bit of Telugu now. I know enough conversational Telugu to get my work done. Can I strike through the goal? Hmmm… I don’t think so. How do I measure how much I know? Maybe I should have set a yardstick for my learning, like, know enough Telugu to read a book written in the language or give a speech to an audience in the language. Now that’s a measurable goal.
  •  “Learn Photoshop” isn’t an attainable goal for me. Heck, I don’t even want to learn Photoshop. Someday, maybe, but not right now. What I really wish to learn is “Web Design”. I was too dumb to know the difference between the two!
  • “29 projects with Medha” isn’t a realistic goal at all. After a few, Medha went “I don’t want to do any more projects!” Still I sprang a couple more on her when she least expected them. It got to a point where I was nagging her to do more “fun” activities together, which stopped being fun, OBVIOUSLY! I’ve decided not to set a goal that relies on the moods of a hyper-active child!
  • With so much going on in my life, who has the time to cook 29 traditional South Indian recipes and BLOG ABOUT THEM? Not me!

But I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes. The next time around I’ll try to set SMART goals and REACH them.

Being a stay-at-home mom, who (Thank God!) NEED NOT work outside home (but who can if she wishes to), I don’t have a schedule to follow. I can take a day as it comes, doing household chores, attending to my family’s needs, chauffeuring the kids around, which I do most of the time. But when I plan my day, a whole month, an entire year, I’m bound to get so much more done apart from the absolute necessities. I free up time to read, to write, to cook fancy recipes like Garlic Cream Pasta Sauce for dinner, to play Hide-n-Seek with my kids. I free up time to go after my dreams.

wpid-20150102_152518.jpg(Garlic Cream Pasta Sauce being prepared for dinner! Yum!)