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Day 18 : Illustrations

Learned about sketching in one the blog that I regularly follow, she is one of my favorite author from India that I tend to follow her blog. She is into many things, and the art on her instagram got me interested to try it out.  I cannot add it to my resolution list as this is one of the many experimental hobbies that I pursue. I ended up drawing something with my regular pen on a paper and applied water colors to it, the result was not too bad but not good either to show off my first art in the longest possible time. Ok, I was a decent painter when I was a kid and am proud of myself to say that my younger cousins imitated my every doing are now a better artists than I am. Imitation is the biggest flattery, isn’t?  This lead me to looking into beginner level tutorials for sketching, and that is when I landed on fashion illustration.

I thought, if I am starting new, why not take up fashion sketching and experiment with it. I ended up watching quite a handful videos and realized it is not as easy as I thought. To get the body proportions in itself is a quite a measured art that comes naturally after so much of practicing. Then comes, the style with which a model poses, and the type of dress you choose to adorn that figure is another challenging. Once you perfect these two, then comes the lighting, shading and coloring and that requires you to understand the science behind lighting and shadow. The curls, folds, wind, sheer clothing, stiff clothing and essentially you can go as far as close to taking a picture. Since, this is all an imagination, it get’s difficult, and no wonder becoming fashion designer is not that easy. Of course, technology is advanced and it has become easier than ever to draw it online and give specification of light source, style and dress, it will adjust to the desired one, and more importantly it’s faster.

So, every hobby that I have taken up or want to do sounds like I am swimming in a Ocean. This is difficult. I rather be jack of all trades than master of at least one to some extent. There, I still cannot nail down and say I like a thing and I want to continue. What am I passionate about? I guess, I’ll still be figuring out in my 80’s provided if I have my mental and physical abilities in tact. Any fashionista’s here? to be precise people who sketch?

I’ll just focus on basic sketching of stand still models with fancy gowns that I wish to wear. I am not a big fan of clutter and I am no model to get such variety to wear, I’ll live in my art, my imagination is not that great either. I’ll start with copying simpler one’s and then if I still hold interest, will come back with my artsy stuff to flaunt here. And most importantly, with one art that I drew this morning, definitely therapeutic for my rest less mind.

Any artists here? Would love to see your sketches or illustrations. Please leave me a link to your art work.

 

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Day 16 : On being Judgmental

One day, I met one of my friend who is a pregnant, wanted to find someone in her neighborhood to share experiences, essentially looking for a like minded person to make friendship with. She was driving me back to my home, and while passing I spotted a lady with a toddler and dressed for summer and there is something about her personality from distance sounded like a confident personality. I pointed to her and encouraged my friend to chat with her. My friend immediately retorted saying that how could you judge a person like that based on their appearance. True, you never know until you spend some time with her and the situations that arise will only speak if they are at your frequency.

We judge people inadvertently all the time that we come in contact with in our own limited capabilities. When we have conversation with a friend, stranger or colleague – we immediately react if that is in conflict with our ideas. Is it even possible to emotionally detach and absorb the information and not judge the person but act on the information by providing facts irrespective of whether you like it or not? How do you handle?

I have a friend who comes across as very judgmental and strongly opinionated. I used to avoid sharing information about my life, or family or discuss certain topics knowing well that she judges and defends her points without knowing entire context. I only speak up with her when I think it is important to show her another point of view on certain things that are important to me and she is aware of it. I like her, she is an extrovert and sweet, but that’s her personality and is neither harming nor hurtful. It is also refreshing for me to hear different perspective expanding my point-of-views for a given topic. There was an instance where one of colleague preferred cats to having kids. She has been harshly judged by my peers at work and was made fun of behind her back. When I asked what’s wrong with that choice?  All I understood was, they were trying to project their way of life onto her.  I feel, majority of us are always trying to project our views onto others and expect others agree to what we say or treat that as normal.

We judge people all the time based on our experiences and knowledge. It takes a considerable amount of effort in not judging self and others. Being emotionally detached and having presence of mind is something that comes with practice. Clearly that is not easy. Having compassion for every human being and not being judgmental is something that I try to remind myself every day. The world will be a better place had we been less judgmental and more compassionate humans.

Here are few quotes that I found more apt for the topic:

Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.  – Swami Vivekananda

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.  -Dalai Lama

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.  -Mother Teresa

What is your take on this?

Day 14: State of Fear

Alright, as soon I hitched onto reading books, I have neglected blogging and yoga practice. Both of which made me look forward for a lovely day with action plan. Diverting from discipline entailed eating food outside every day.  Essentially, everything cracked through the holes. This is my 4th book that I read in last month, which is phenomenal. Yes, the title is the book authored by Michael Crichton, a techno-thriller novel which speaks heavily about Global warming, climate change and how environmentalists, lawyers, industrialists, philanthropists, scientists and academicians are involved in this environmental aspect that we hear about from various means. I have not finished reading it yet, but I highly recommend reading this. I have read different kinds of fictions in the past; it has been the best so far for my taste. The characters in the book challenge about our idea of global warming, rising sea-levels, weather trends gathered over 100 years and all of them quoted with proper science journals and research papers. As much as it sounds like a fiction, there is some sense of reality in it if you dig further based on the references provided in the book?

This is not a review of the book by any means. As I progress in reading, I have heard of global warming, rising sea levels, environmental impact with high carbon emissions, destruction of natural eco-system, rising temperatures, or moving towards ice age or melting of Antarctic glaciers seems all questionable. The knowledge I have on them is very limited, I have used the terms here and there without really knowing about them. There are many of us who just take the stance and speak of it without really knowing anything about it; our opinions are media generated. For instance, everyone thinks that the humans being killed have gone up in the recent past, but in reality, in the history, this is the time that it is at the lowest.  We would know what happens around the world with in seconds of incident taking place. Information overload and this cause a state of fear. Sure, there is certainly no doubt that average life expectancy of human beings has gone up at by considerable rate, but we perpetually are afraid of something or the other all the time. We are afraid and depressed most of the times learning about all the dreadful things. My father watches news almost all day when he is at home. The news are repeated over and again, mostly speaking about threats that impact us in a negative way. People are afraid of the things which may not happen, pessimism builds in. This has indirect health impact on us. We are constantly sucked into the fear factor generated by media.  Is this good? Gone or those days, where I just had to watch 30 minutes of news to get summary of news, and you know now how it is?

Are we ever going to break free from that state of mind? I am not very sure how easy it is when everything around you is pointing in one direction and it is certainly does not get any easier to find your own path.  Do you believe in whatever media propagates? Or do you dig further up on it to gain knowledge about it before sticking to whatever gets into your head? How do you handle such information?

Day 9 : Introspection begins

Suddenly, I get this energy surge to fix the things in life that I have been complaining everyday. Most of them are easily do-able and others are bit challenging to accomplish. I decided to tackle the things that I can and check the progress day by day. That got me into a certain routine to do house hold chores, cooking an evening meal and inviting friends or family over was rejuvenating. Yes, almost a day spent on those chores, but it’s been just two weekends and I am hopeful it will only get better with time. Plus, home feels so tidy and puts me in a position to fix other areas. I wonder how that feels if I get done with those pending things and keep up with other upcoming tasks. I could do more.

That surge in energy did not last much longer, but I want to hold onto that thought everyday. The feeling was beautiful and relaxed me to greater extent. My mind is very funny, not sure when and why it does. I am still in the process of understanding it. For some unknown reason, I get these thoughts on if I am wasting my limited time on earth doing things that I am not very fond of? I mulled over the thought of quitting my current day job. Hey, but that’s my lively hood and I get to explore other areas because of that. Now, giving all that up will definitely throw me into financial crisis and challenge me. Nor, do I know what I really like to do. I have no answer, so I continue to find which parts do I really like in my professional world and just focus on expanding that area.  Writing these thoughts here makes me find some clarity in my own thoughts. Does that happen to you?

With yoga practice along with listening to the audible book that I wrote about in my earlier blog post,  to some extent is subtly impacting my thought process.  Not that it always happens positively, today was challenging to do a simple yoga pose. I noticed that, if I feel happy and content before I start yoga, it is easy and time passes by so quickly. But, for the same set of Asanas/poses, if I had any disturbing thoughts, it is just hard to focus on simplest of asana and time goes slower.  I am trying to understand what sets my mood. Paying attention to my thoughts had been interesting so far and hopefully it continues.  How about you? Do you know yourself better?  What steps do you take to introspect your own self?

I’ll leave you with some quotes on thoughts for you:

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”  – Socrates

“whatever you think that you will be.
if you think yourself weak,weak you will be;
if you think yourself strong,you will be”
― Swami Vivekananda

P.S: This is part of 500 word challenge, if you skip a day, you pick where you have left and continue. That is exactly what I did.  And yes, there were no edits done.

 

 

Day 3: Morning Huddle

Exactly two weeks back, I found out that there are yoga classes in the early morning in a private setting. I prepped myself up by trying to go to bed early and wake up early. It took almost a week for me to wake myself up early and made it to my first yoga class. That day was productive. Knowing myself, well enough that, what I want is not what happens.  So, I have decided to not set any goals what-so-ever and decided to take one day at a time. Every single day, I have this plan to drop it off!  Four days into these yoga sessions, my muscles were so sore, I was in pain and all I wanted to do was take a day off from work and do nothing. But, one day lag will set me back, I trudged on in that pain, in the cold (yes, it’s Fall season and very cold here).

It’s been a week, due to cold weather here, I fight with my inner self every single day to get out of the bed, to get ready and get to class. Just last week has been great so far.  I have accomplished many things at much faster pace at work than I usually do. Early mornings are quiet, with fresh mind you would task yourself to finish one thing at least before people roll in and drag me into inane number of scheduled and impromptu meetings.  That one pristine hour for your self-nourishment is totally worth waking up for. Plus, I have been disciplined in cooking somewhat healthier food and getting a good night sleep.

Any yogi’s here? I have always wanted to yoga, in fact the first post of my this very blog speaks about yoga I’ve done in Bryant Park for free and how I wished I could incorporate it in my everyday life routine. I guess, one can wish for many things and not take any steps. Also, they say, it takes 21 days for your body to get used to get addicted to. And just yesterday, the TV show I was watching mentioned it takes 28 days to get into a habit and that your body starts craving. 21 or 28 days, if you truly want it, you will find a way out. I am not there yet in this aspect. But, I do feel proud of my little accomplishment, despite the cancellation of my yoga class once in the last one week, I have managed to get in 20 minutes of yoga.  Being independent to some extent, gives me a new ray of hope to continue on the path that I have always hoped for. Only time will tell.

How about you all? Do you have any such routines for your fitness? And what kind of foods do you eat? I feel bloated in the mornings and that leads to difficulties in performing some poses.  One suggestion, I got though was to eat light for dinner and eat ahead of bed time. That itself is very challenging for me. I love to eat, and eat heavy!

I’ll leave you all with the quote that resonates with my present state of mind.

“Man is a creature of habits. When you do yoga, you unlearn your habits.”  – Bharat Thakur

P.S: It is part of 500 word challenge, one of the rule is to not edit as you write. So, pardon me with all the mistakes. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

500 Words Challenge for 31 days – Taken – Day 1

I have signed up for a challenge of writing 500 or more words every single day for 31 days.  I came across this when I was going through a blog post on becoming minimalist that I scan through now and then. In the process, if I do like something, I would try to give it a shot.  It is also very important to note that I failed at almost everything that I have taken up. Not a good note to start this challenge – isn’t?

The one rule this author of 500 word challenge says that, just write whatever comes to your mind without editing.  Now, a person who writes on a publicly exposed blog certainly has some filters and of course will not spill every single thought that comes to mind. Is anyone out there who does that? Please let me know, I would be interested in reading your blog.

The other challenge I realized as soon as I signed up was, I was hoping to get a prompt to write about. Nope, there weren’t any. Instead, the email states that today is day 1 of the challenge.  So, to get some inspiration, I browsed through some of the participants of this challenge, found out that most of the links were not functioning in the first place. Secondly, the handful of blogs that did write something, they did not last much longer and the stuff written was random. I guess, I just signed up for nothing? Or rather, I decided to take it as personal challenge to take it forward instead, unless I get emails with some suggested prompts to take up.

The reason behind my hesitation stems back to last year experience of trying to blog every day for one whole month. Besides, I ended up cheating by doing picture posts. That is not an option now.  As I type this, I also realize that I might end up blabbering just to increase the word count. I promise, I will try my best not to do. I am also afraid, that writing so much and every day may lead to not-having-any-interesting-topics-to-share here.

Normally, I would have ended my post here, may be with a relevant picture. But, the word count says 366. Challenge accepted.  So, I would like to leave you all and most importantly to myself  with some interesting quotes from “Albert Einstein

  • I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
  • If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  • Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

Few from Kahlil Gibran,

  • We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
  • To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and do not forget to leave a comment. I also hope that, you continue to re-visit my blog for next 30 days.

P.S: If you are like me, who would like to explore your abilities as a writer or even for fun. You can know more about it here .

Entertainment videos vs Studying

Have you ever felt, learning something for your benefit which is related to your school/career feels like trekking a huge mountain than reading/watching entertainment channels?

For me it totally does. I have absolutely no problem, in sitting in front of TV, watching my entire evenings and weekends away. I accrue no guilt over that, none of the shows that I watch, increase my general knowledge in anyway. Where as, If I were to watch videos pertaining to my career growth and things like that, just 20 minutes into it, will make my brain wander to all sorts of directions. I watch these videos just like I watch movies.

The movies can be caught up with, especially the kind of simple movies with no hidden layers of complexity that I mostly watch. The same rule or style does not apply to these videos, a part missed is missed, and what you build on top of it only fails as you miss the concept, leading to re-iteration, several times.  For instance, for movies like Inception, I had to put all my attention and focus on that and yet, I still could not figure out if that was a dream or real towards the end. The videos that I have to watch to understand the concept is similar to inception and of course there is more to it, it requires my undivided attention and extra effort to grasp and follow at the same time. On top of that, I need to remember or ingrain those ideas into my head that will help clear any certifications required. Not an easy task for me, at least not until I groove into the idea of focusing and getting serious about it.

I have close to 300 minutes of video watching to do. I divided the task into 30 minute chunks and planning on taking breaks and treat myself with something as I successfully complete.

How do you handle such things?

 

Body lotion – at home?

I have been following this blog – Trash is for tossers which I have spoken about when I came across this in one of the new’s article. Not sure, if I agree with everything she does or says but I definitely fell in love with the idea of making my own body lotion with just 4 ingredients. Three of which I switch on and off and use it (coconut oil and cocoa butter & shea butter), this recipe is a combination of those three and plus another one. Recipe here, and same recipe here from another blogger, which I will be doing during this upcoming christmas holidays. Pretty excited. So, i went ahead and ordered hand mixer as well. I have been thinking of ordering this electric hand mixer for numerous other reasons and finally this motivated me to get it.

She also has some other suggestions on making your own tooth paste, deodorant which I will try it out in the future. Right now, I will be running out of coconut oil and cocoa butter soon and found to be perfect time to implement it. I still do not know where to scour the ingredients from, I will be heading to whole foods, if not, I will most likely get my ingredients from amazon.

Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy these organic unrefined ingredients – sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil. Just the idea that it is chemical free and edible makes it more interesting to try it. I am so looking forward for this.

Do you make any of your products on your own, be it own cleaning products, make up related, or fragrances or anything that you have ever done?

 

Learning ability?

One thing that I did not anticipate while doing my schooling was – one needs to be a lifelong student to keep progressing. Ever since, I started working, that hard truth of learning new things at every step downed upon me. During the project initiation phase, there was a very steep growth of learning curve and then eventually it would become comfortable, then another project, back to square one, repeats the same process. Currently, I work on multiple short duration projects, and every project in its own right makes me take a step back to initial stage and then build on it until I get to the stage of comfort in providing/suggesting a solution. The learning of business or technical or functional is always there to understand and work on it is sometimes straight forward and at times complex. There are some projects that I get involved in with my choice where I find myself working overtime during weekdays and weekends to supplement my knowledge to better come up with most efficient possible solution.

Learning is fun, interesting and challenging at the same time. The concentration has been declining with too many world-life problems take over my intellect space. I carry the additional burden with me which makes it difficult to move ahead freely. The art of living in present is still a distant dream for me. The whole reason for me to write this came when I have to listen to online course that I have registered to upgrade myself with new skill in my career. The video class was about for an hour and I had such a hard time focusing on it. The only way I was able to grasp something was while taking some notes and a treat of “break-from-work-for -15 minutes” has immensely helped. The revision is required and I need to find real-time examples to deepen my understanding. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem in watching movies back to back for hours, for that matter, entire day. I know the story and do not get very inclined to watch it again. However, when it comes to educating myself with “important skillful” information, the so called mind wanders and makes focusing the most difficult task.

The problem with online courses is that, there will be no one to monitor, or are forced to do any assignments or projects, you have to be entirely disciplined for your own benefit. I find it hard to concentrate; it takes some amount of grooving into the rhythm to get there.

Dear readers, how do you progress in your existing or any new skill that you take up? What measures do you take to keep yourself updated? And how do you keep the momentum going?

On school education

What started as my innocent question as a regular comment on a post – whether international schools (read : schools with international standards and not international in the name) are affordable by upper middle class people? in India turned out to be sequence of more or less like an opinionated discussion based on certain facts that both of us know.

You can find where it all started here (My response was to last two paragraphs of the post).Lead to post of Pepper’s opinions based on certain facts here, that lead me to present my points of why I think that way and started explaining by giving some insights. The comment is still in moderation, but I think, you my dear readers might find it interesting to read, as I really spent quite some time in composing those thoughts with some research and conversation with a friend of mine.

All this will make sense, if you read the entirety of the thoughts posted in the links shared above, then only, does this response fit in the dialogue. Also, I am not a very strongly opinionated person, I change my opinions based on facts and what we currently have and can do versus what it is to be ideal, I prefer an open ended conversation on the same.

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Here was my response:

Thanks Pepper – I appreciate the thoughtfulness you put in your response – your perspective is always very interesting!

Your points are very agreeable – there are many low-quality government schools. The government should spend a larger percentage of money than it does on education, and in a more effective manner. Equal opportunity is generally accepted as a worthwhile goal.

I think I made a lot of points and maybe spread myself too thin. I think my main points should have been
1) Education is important for many, but it’s not right for everyone
2) There’s lots of non-traditional educational opportunities outside of school
3) There are limited resources that shouldn’t necessarily be diverted to education

I’ll start with the third point. You are 100% correct that there are low quality teachers and many of them are underpaid, especially considering how important they are to society. However, where are we going to get these high quality teachers that you are looking for? I think that you, with your thirst for knowledge, might be a great and inspirational teacher! However, if we take you out of your leadership position at your company, then the company might be worse off, people may lose jobs, and children will have a hard time thinking about school when there basic financial necessities are not met. Similarly, should we take doctors out of hospitals or disease researchers out of labs to teach basic skills? Kids will find it hard to study when they are ill. You can call education a fundamental right – what about clean drinking water, green energy, food, shelter etc.? There are many things we can agree are good, but we cannot say one thing is a “fundamental right” and prioritize it for free – prioritizing one initiative comes at the cost of all these other great initiatives unfortunately :-/

For my second point, I am still firm in my point regarding learning different trades, skills, etc. For us, we may have benefited professionally and personally from a well-rounded education at top schools. However, there are many people who will not benefit from school as much as they will from learning a trade, because it will result in better financial results for that person. By teaching a child classical philosophy, we might be stealing a child’s opportunity to learn farming or metal-smithing, which could deprive them of earning potential in the future. I understand your point that education should not be judged solely on practical application for making money. However, financial freedom is necessary to entertain the possibility of lifelong learning. A beggar cannot afford an internet connection to read the news or read Wikipedia. A person struggling to put food on the table will not read textbooks at night for leisure.

Finally, this leads me to my first point. Education is not right for everyone.

To take it a step further, some education is poisonous. Let’s take a simple Social Studies / History example (and most people might agree that history is an important subject, since “if you don’t pay attention to history, you are doomed to repeat it”). Let’s take the specific example of WWI. What was the cause of WWI? Most educated people would answer immediately “The death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the series of alliances between the European powers that caused a domino effect”. This falls apart at the earliest question. Is anyone really THAT popular that their death would cause a world war? The notion is ridiculous. Someone who knows history will have all these particular facts that explain all the Western wars, be it this dictator here or that extremist ideology there. In this case, the uneducated person is at an advantage – they can see “hey – the Americans and Europeans are a warlike people that always seem to be fighting and killing”. They won’t say “There’s Stalin here, Pol Pot there, Saddam in that instance, etc.” Education in this case is the trees that block the view of the forest.

However, a more benign example is exactly as stated in my earlier point about useful skills – if kids are spending their time considering our great philosophical quandaries, they are losing time that could be spent on developing marketable skills. Even worse, if a subject they deem boring is forced on them, they might grow to hate school in general. Even though I think that Calculus is a key skill that should be taught to all children, I’m sure many kids would hate going to the class despite its importance in engineering and science.

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In this whole process of writing this response, I found my self doing more work for a blog than was required, trying to explain what I think and how I perceive, although, this has been an interesting topic to chat about and getting different perspectives,  I am also aware that we discussing this topic on the internet will not solve the real problem. This topic is debatable and can go back and forth as long as possible and we end up agreeing on some and agree to disagree on some other points.