Tuesday, December 30, 2014

another holiday in India

December in India has its own charm. There are slim Santa Clauses and scattered trees covered with ornaments. Cars, cows, and horses occupy the same lane on a busy road. Our days are spent going through checklists for the wedding while evenings are a blur of family visits (and battles with jet lag).

A couple of weeks ago, our priest said, "If you want to know yourself, study your parents. If you really want to know yourself, study your grandparents. Whether you find things in yourself that you love or hate, you will see that they are also present in the people you came from."

Knowing where we come from---there's something to that.

A traditional Gujarati meal

My feisty and independent grandmother :) 

A blurry photo of us on the way to a sari store

My niece who is proof that sass and an obsession with dance is in our D.N.A.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

link love

*The mental health crisis in India
"Suicide has surpassed maternal mortality as the leading cause of death in young Indian women."

*Actress Priyanka Chopra promoting women's empowerment

*The fight against child marriage

*Another take on marriage in India

*Have human rights treaties failed?

*Public health accomplishments from 2014 via Bill and Melinda Gates

Friday, December 12, 2014

when you can't write

Ways to sharpen your writing when you can't write:

1. Study popular television shows and ask what makes them work well. Dissect the characters and dialogue.

2. Learn someone's life story. Watch their face when they are filled with hope. Observe the tone of their voice when you ask about their plans for the holidays.

3.  Plot during your commute. If you drive, contemplate ways to add more conflict in your work.

4. Listen to an audiobook.

5. Watch a Ted talk on a topic you know nothing about.

6. Soak in details about everything. Writers are observers. 

7. Take a break from anything creative.

8. Sleep.

9. Write a diary entry from each character's perspective.

10. Read Psychology Today and learn more about human nature. Read everything. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

If I Knew Then

**This post is in addition to a series about what I would tell my younger self.**

1. After a certain point in life, friendships become more about effort than convenience. Put in the effort. You'll never regret it. 

2. Don't glorify stress or sleep deprivation or making it for hours without food. There is nothing commendable about not treating your body well. There is nothing powerful about being busy. Everyone is busy. Keep fruit in your purse and learn how to take power naps. Cry out of frustration or exhaustion or the intersection between the two, then get up, and move on. 

3.  Everything you want is on the other side of hard work.

4. Beware of trying to fix anyone's issues, whether it's through advice, love, or loyalty. People can only fix themselves and even then, it has to happen when they are ready.

5. Express appreciation to the ones who believed in you even when you struggled to believe in yourself.

6. Allow everything you're working on to take at least triple the amount of time you think it will.

7. In your twenties, you'll start seeing your parents more as people. You'll appreciate their sacrifices on a new level and start relating to them in ways you didn't think were possible. 

8. Respect the periods of your life when you surrendered to apathy.

9. Play around with the "what ifs" in your mind. What if people posted statuses and tweets about when they failed or were confused or lost? What if we introduced our friends by their best qualities instead of their names? What if saying "I don't know" was acceptable? What if loneliness, the most common ailment you see in the hospital, could be addressed as a public health concern? What if prestige was correlated with fulfillment instead of job titles and salaries? 

10. As you get older, making new friends can feel akin to dating. You wait for the effortless connection and intellectual stimulation. You make plans, first in a group, and eventually alone. You see if everything is upheld. And then, you see that years have gone by, and you have someone you couldn't imagine being without. 

11. Keep finding ways to step out of your comfort zone. If you can't travel, read things outside your genre. Relish a new magazine or newspaper or novelist.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

couch and draft

1. The Times has a section on mental health called Couch!**

"For some people, the psychiatrist’s couch is a metal examining table." 
Anne Skomorowsky

2. There's also another section, Draft, where writers share their thoughts on the craft of writing. There are essays on not writing, how twisted thoughts create strong plot lines, the importance of being honest about hardships, and more. **

3. The health benefits of of journaling and an application that encourages it**

4. Another read about how writing about depression helps decrease the stigma of mental illness and provides solace to others.**

my best friends' weddings

There should be a word that describes the honor, nostalgia, and excitement that comes from watching your dearest friends start their new lives. They all had endearing back stories that were incorporated into their respective weekends: one had known her groom since high school, another was finally ending a long distance relationship, and another had that Corey and Topanga meant-to-be feel from the beginning. 

 I was a bridesmaid five times and sang, danced, and spoke at each wedding.  I'm so lucky to have been a part of these beautiful weekends.  Here are some things I learned:

-Have tissues, bobby pins, and the bride's lipstick ready in a tiny kit.
-If the professional photographer isn't available, get photos of the bride and each bridesmaid while she's waiting for the ceremony to start. There's a good chance there won't be time to do that later. 
-During that time, take a quick video of her and ask her how she's feeling. Send it to her a couple of weeks later as a surprise. 
-It helps to rehearse a speech with a timer to make sure it doesn't run over 5 minutes (studies have shown that any longer is when most audience members become bored).
-The week of the wedding is often the most stressful for the bride. Call her and ask if she wants any help or just needs to vent.
-Get as much sleep as possible before the weekend!
-If she's overwhelmed, be the person who makes her live in the moment. Rely on other bridesmaids or her family members for last minute logistical issues. 
-Have a couple of bridesmaids available to help the bride get un-ready after the ceremony. Everyone else will likely be eating or caught up with people and she'll need help getting out of her dress and unpinning her hair.