Friday, November 24, 2017

The Gift of Rejection - dedicated to Maggie Lawson

When she was 7 she was given a doll for Christmas. As she grew she realized nothing much changed apart from developing more appropriate ways for figuring out how things work. Well, this part I copied from the profile of Maggie Lawson, with her due and kind permission.
I started my communication with Maggie, based in New Zealand on LinkedIn just a couple of days back. I may never ever meet her in person, but I felt like I knew her for ages. Quoting from one of her posts, "“I also wanted to thank you for the gift of rejection because it’s an opportunity to grow. As disappointed as I am, I am also grateful. I’m learning to stand tall in my own skin and this experience has been instrumental in that process.”
This trigged me to start off my communication with her. Again with her due permission, I am quoting from the inbox messages she sent to me. Apart from being one hell of a woman who’s not only standing tall in her heels, she’s one hell of a powerhouse of inspiration and motivation.
Sharing some of her message threads:
“Hi Upalparna, together we are stronger. I appreciate your honesty and respect your struggle.” Just like she respects her own. “You remind me of me. There will be no pity, just compassion.”
“I think we're going to be great friends Upalparna” – by then I already felt a connect with her, somewhere, somehow.
“In our childhood we held the world in our palms. They were not fantasies, they were our birth right. That is, until our dreams are stolen from us.”
 “There is a special connection between us. I feel it too. I should tell you now, I don't believe in God. But I would never treat someone differently because they do.”
“Can I call you Upal? Is it rude to shorten names there? Upal reminds me of opal - a gemstone with many beautiful sparkling flecks... Kind like you” – I replied, no it’s not rude at all. You can call me Upal.
I was away from some time, so I wrote to her a sorry for being away. When I told her there are times when some demons dance inside my mind, she wrote, “That's OK, you are my ocean, roll in and out with the tides, I'll sit on the pier and enjoy you.” 
“ It's the jealous demons who won't let you be yourself for themselves opel. The more you see them the louder they will get. Do you know how I know? I have them too. They keep me from reaching out; they tell me it's for my own protection. To stop me getting hurt. But I've learned I'm bigger and stronger than my demons. Soon they will weaken. Loosen their grip. And you will be free like me. Promise me, you'll hold on. And ride the tide, in and out up and down. Do me one small favour, every day, Please!  Send me just one heart, you don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to.  But I care. I need to know you're here. I have lost enough for seven lifetimes.”
You are quite good for me opel. You inspire creativity. I love how you write, you even reflect some of the concepts I'm supporting at the moment. Beautiful!
One concept she picked up from my writing: Slowly, gradually, just by being yourself. Just by sinking into your own skin. This here matches up with a theme I'm exploring called #FullSpectrum. I'm writing post to encourage people to throw away definers, things that limit us to fit popular ideas of what we're supposed to be, like professionalism which seeks to strip us of our uniqueness. Instead I'm encouraging people to stand tall in their skin, in their full spectrum self.
I just take a U-turn (The second concept) - this one I've been calling #pivotpoint. The idea is that every single situation has multiple faces, all of which are relevant perspectives of the same situation. At any point we can pivot whilst being in the same point in time and choose to look at the event differently, we can literally turn it over in our hands to see it in a way that works for us for whatever journey we are on. A wall can be a path from a different perspective, reality is fluid
The reason I focus on pivot points is because I can’t control what events will happen to me and I don't like that so I need to take ownership of some part of it. I do this by owning how I will use the event. It can be hard to do especially when wrapped up in hurt but I have found that being able to crawl from beneath the event and then climbing on top of it I'm able to gain new heights and take my power back.

I am speechless with the touch of love & friendship. Her knowledge and depth empowers people, just the way it empowers me.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

By being yourself, you inspire and awaken the soul of others...

To him beauty must be strange and exciting and sad, it must evoke some degree of passion and leaves a hole. That is how an illustrator with a mind of his own defines his art. He in fact defined some illustrations made by him as ugly, and when I asked him how he would define ugliness or beauty, that was his answer. His knowledge and thought process evokes the will to know life up-close.
When she’s panicky about meeting targets, little does it show that deep within she is calm as ever, confident she can do it. She’s often taken me back to the times when I was in my 20’s with her fearless and bubbly self. She again vents out when she sits to paint and sketch. She does it exceptionally well. Then she is a mature woman and yet remains so grounded.
His voice reaches out across miles, when he has to call out to the labours working in the project with him. A whistle, and it kind of blows up everyone’s ears. He transforms to a man of steel in his workplace, living life on the edge most of the times. But as he sheds that professional skin, there’s a fantastic cook and a singer inside him. He’s passionate about mountaineering, been there, done that. When he laughs, it’s infectious. When he is himself, it’s like having a rock solid man as your best friend.
When she walks, it looks like she is setting up to fly. She looks all ruffled up from her get-up when in a hurry, but that’s the last thing she is from within. She’s composed and calm. And when she sells spaces to her clients, little can one know that she has a strong flair for art. Over a cup of tea, I have seen her sketching up like a pro standing on the roads. Handling her young son, managing her home away from home, she is one hell of a strong woman. Balanced and breaking taboos, she can set the world on fire if needed.
Each time I saw him roll up grass in his cigarette, standing alone in one corner, I often wonder what exactly he is upto. When we were introduced, I couldn’t resist asking him how many drags he smokes up a day. About 10, he said. Yet every-time he was always so composed and calm and silent. He performs his task as an editor diligently till the wee hours of the night, drinks only once a week, and gives an opinion only if someone bugs him into giving one. He’s one hell of a role model. A perfectionist to me.
She was a petite introvert girl sitting in the last bench when I first saw her in high school. The fear of being thrown into an unknown zone showed all over her face. Our conversations started in class gradually. And I could see her evolving out of her shell. She could not complete her education after 11. But her dream of being a beautician kept her going. After years of being an ideal home-maker, she pursued a diploma, and started her own beauty parlour from one of the rooms in her house. Her health really was giving up with many piling up issues, but nothing stopped her.
When he’s writing a HTML code or designing a software program, little did I figure out that he’s such an intense writer. When I read his first writing, I was deeply moved. His writing delves into the deep shades of life, often unfolding the hidden secrets of the human psyche. Again when he’s doing his job he’s sunk into perfectionism. When he’s sharing his thoughts, it amazes me the way he has emerged as a man triumphing over his serious health issues and failures. His writings are indeed moving, giving food for your thought. 

The list is never-ending. People I have known for years, each in their own professions, but role models in their own ways. People like them and more are each an inspiration in the journey of life. They win and lose, accept life just the way they accept defeat. It intrigues me time and again. They are tycoons, they are the stalwarts. Does it make any difference that they are not owning million dollars, leading lavish lifestyles? To us, they are as big as any big celebrated names in our society. They are grounded and true human being, they are men and women, whose passion drives them to make it happen. They are fighters and I am proud of them. I want the world to know that people like them can make all the difference in life. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Living with Angels and Demons

The angels that dance around in our minds look like the pretty dolls from our childhood days, but what about the demons? The devils? Why do we know them as someone who will scare us? There is a root to this fear factor that is imbibed in us from childhood.

 From small fears that grows to be big ones.Firstly, I want to say, that we have all the ability in us to overpower the fear. Kill the fear. Accept it. Live with it. It’s our choice. But there's no way we can run away from it. And no way we should. 

Let me try to get into the bottom of it. As a child, if we were naughty or disobedient, we were scolded, punished and even shrouded by unknown fears. Those little fears of being scolded for petty reasons at times left a mark on many of our minds. Which again, we did not realize as children.
  • Hey baby, if you do not eat properly, the crow on the window will come and take your food away. So eat fast. – The fear of not being able to have a meal.
  • Hey, if you do not sleep on time at night, after the lights are turned off, the ghosts will come and scare you. – The fear of an unknown face who will harm us.
  • Hey, if you do not study, you will fail and will have to land up on the pavement as a beggar. – The fear of not being able to achieve definite goals in life.
The list of fear factors set into our system is never-ending. It’s no crime to have our fears. It’s important not to let the fears get the better of us. Why is darkness connected to evil? Why is failure connected to you being worthless? Darkness leads to light, and your worth is for you to discover. Slowly, gradually, just by being yourself. Just by sinking into your own skin. 

Well, then I often wondered what if the child did not have even have one proper meal to eat in a day? What if there was no roof over the head and life was uncertain 24x7? What if the child is deprived of any education and instead forced to beg for a living?

Fears and uncertainties loom large, but nothing should take away the will to live the life we have. A year into what the fear factors tried to tell me, scare me, did only one thing..face fear bang on. Punch it right in the face. I was unconsciously letting the insecurities set in, it’s not that the fears don’t bug me anymore. But one shivering moment when my body and mind is on the verge of collapsing, I just take a U-turn. I tell myself, I have to accept it. I have to dominate the one who’s trying to kill me from inside rather than letting it play those stupid mind games with me. Closing doors and living inside a dark room is no crime. A pinch of patience and accepting the worst happening unfolds the way to unopened doors and take charge. Not as a whole, but just one moment at a time. Hold on, we have to do that. Don’t Stop. Even in your sleep. Your worth is important to yourself. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Let Me Try...

The debris of her life was enough to sever the tie between reality and dreams, the fine line between desire and temptation….. Callie Hunter

She was born on a stormy rainy dark night. Her life turned out to be like one as she grew up. One hell of a storm, etched in the wildest of darkness, all ruffled up and scattered.

After 4 decades of her life, the doors started closing on her face, one by one. They slammed on her face. Slapped, trashed by life, she was crumbling and falling. Yet, she was trying to fight. She was trying to rise from her ashes as she always used to do.

Being emotional, romantic, sentimental, soft-hearted – she was left with a bleeding heart, torn and tattered. Love was something that no longer existed for her. Not something she believed in anymore. In fact, love was one thing she started fearing. Love was traumatizing her. She had built a wall around her – least love comes in from any corner and kills her soul again.

She had taken a stern and stubborn decision for once and for all – she will not commit herself to anyone else again, not allow love any entry into her life again, she will not fall in love ever again.

Through all the storm she was going through, falling, breaking, rising, fighting…she was definitely having men wanting to date her, proposing to have flings, one night stands, sex and what not. At times it became mind boggling, crazy and so hard to handle. One decision, NO MORE, that was it.

Been there, done that. She knew it was high time for her to settle her scrambled life, if at all she could. The least she could afford to do then was get into another relationship. She knew that she did not have the time. Neither the energy. Neither the emotions were alive.  

All of these made her wonder where was it all when she was younger? When she was single? When she could have looked around before deciding to settle down on the man of her life, who disowned her – she didn’t. She committed her life to the relationship and after almost two decades it was all gone.

But Time has its own plans. Time makes it own moves. When the walls were built and her emotions were killed, someone said to her, “let me try.” Someone who was her friend during their teenage days and had some liking for her. Someone who, unlike others did not ask her for anything ever.

When they re-connected, he just wanted to try, to be there, to just walk on. With no commitments, no false promises, no fairy tale dreams.

Decades passed when they hardly communicated with each other, at times with years when they did not even know they existed. He surfaced back out of no-where and they re-connected as friends again. They stayed in different states and cities. They met after ages. She realized that his faith in her was just the same as it was 20 years back. After over two decades, he was just as happy to see her as he was years back.

His indomitable trust in her made her gain the faith she had lost gradually back again. It was some of her true friends who pushed her to go on. And it was him. The light of his unconditional friendship and love at the end of the tunnel. No demands. No taboos. Just being there.

That was again a plan of time. When she was bed-ridden due to an illness, he made it a point to smile at her. He never burdened her with questions about the problems going on in her life, he never gave sermons. The best part of him was he remained himself.

With no dreams for tomorrow, she couldn’t have asked God for someone better than him who would just glide along by her side. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hold Your Breath...

Through the journey that I had over the last almost 14 months of my life, I was taking decisions which resulted in all the wrong things happening. There were thousands of things that I was handling at the same time and more often than not, plans were just not working anymore. 

I had some plan in my mind, and situations were changing so drastically that I had to do just the opposite in a matter of few seconds. Or rather the opposite was just happening to what I was contemplating.

I was losing my patience, my temper, getting confused and lost more often than not. At one moment, I was deciding to move in one particular planned direction, taking a particular decision and within seconds/minutes/hours I had to or was forced to do something which was not in my plan and not a part of my decision. 

I did not even know if that step would work for me or not. Well, most of the time, they did not work. They led to further chaos, indecisive confusing moments pushing me backwards instead of enabling me to go ahead.

One by one, they kept piling on. The mistakes, the wrong decisions, the wrong moves, everything seemed to be going wrong. And I was further losing my patience, day by day. During this phase, I kept feeling I had no time in hand. No time to waste. No time to wait. It was like I missed the train and would never get another one.

My brother, who knew all that I was going through, had once told me, ‘Plans do not always work. You plan something and something totally opposite happens. So just move with the flow. With what you have. With makes you. With what you are. And you will find yourself.’

A high school friend of mine, now based in Gurgaon, had told me one day during this phase, ‘Upal, consider you don’t know how to swim (which I actually didn't know) and you have been pushed into the river/sea. You are gasping for breath because you want to survive. You are scared of drowning, of dying. Suddenly your life flashes in front of your eyes and you want to breathe. Whether you live or die, for this one moment, you want to breathe. And you don’t have time. A few seconds is all you have to rise up to the brink and get a breath. So try whatever or however you can to just grasp that one breath. The rest will follow.’

She passed on a light to me with the depth of her thoughts. When I actually was drowning in the sea, without knowing how to swim, (I was actually training in swimming when I was in school but had to leave it due to some reasons, so all that I managed to learn was to float.) So yes, that is what I started trying, I tried to float. Yes, I just had to make it possible to take that one breath, somehow, anyhow.

To just go on, of not being ashamed of myself for anything, not having big dreams about the plans I have in life and just go on with the flow. That’s when a voice from within kept telling me, hold your breath.

For days and months, I kept on trying to do that. I still do. Knowingly. Unknowingly. I lose my breath at times, but again I just struggle to rise up to the brink and breathe for a second. Or else I will drown. I would die. Which I did at times. My mind, my body, my soul. They all needed that one second of oxygen.

After a certain period of time, I realized, that the darkness, the failures, the deep painful wounds also gave me the push to go on. There was some light inside the deepest darkest rooms of myself.

In an era of recycling, nothing goes to waste. Nothing at all. A second of breath, a moment at a time, that’s the least we can do when we are fail and fall. Darkness and light, negativity and positivity - is a perception. A state of the mind. To rise up, to go on, to live – it is a fight in itself and I am doing it in my own way. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Twist of Time – Revisited

7 months into 2017, in the mid-week of January I was thinking that a big change was happening in my life. I had penned my experiences and feelings in my blog ‘Twist of Time’. A change that was happening after years of a dead dark silence growing inside me.

Come end of January 17, and my world crashed and fell into one of the darkest zones of times. If one reads my first blog on Twist of Time they will know that I was already anticipating a major change in my life. But little did I know that the change will leave such a deep dark wound on me.

It all came one after the other, crashing down like a house of cards. What intrigued me the most is the fact that my mind started playing strange games with me. When we speak of ill-health, 95% of the time we connect it with our physical health. Little do we consider the fact that it is also our mental health that can be affected by what is happening around us. Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. And when the balance gets disturbed to handle this, we face mental disorders.

When I was touched at 6, again an experience I had penned down in one of my blogs, I was a complete stranger into the world of sexual abuse. How it left its mark and affected my mind was something I realized at a much more latter stage. At 42, out in the world alone, trying to fight a battle for my identity and dignity, I perhaps failed to realize that I am living in a male-dominated and patriarchal society.

Touched again. Sexually abused twice. This time at a workplace where I was looking after Public Relations & Marketing Communications. A place I came to work with a new hope after my long and fulfilling journey with one of Bengal’s leading publication house. The organization I joined in December, was a renowned brand and initially I was feeling that my communication skills were getting better with the job. At the same time, though my personal front was shaky, I was confident I will see through it.

The first time the ex-colleague touched me, I became numb. I remained stiff and evaded him and came out of the official premises. I should have and usually on other normal circumstances would have slapped him on his face but I don’t know what happened to me that I did not react for several days even after the incident. In fact, many times it did not even strike a chord inside me.

But I felt the unrest growing up inside me. Something was happening and I was unable to figure out what exactly it was. Being in this job role was not me. At least not in the hospitality industry being the PR for a group that claimed its authenticity for serving Bengali cuisine. The high-profile official parties I had to attend was not me. The courtesy calls I had to attend at midnight was not me. Strange however, being in this job role for the first time in my career span of 15 years, my official relation with clients and organizations whom I used to deal with for various official purposes gave me my due respect and co-operated with me always. The people who harmed me the most were the people I was working with, in the same organization. Not all of them of course.

But time was playing games with me and before I understood, I collapsed one day. Hospitalized myself. Diagnosed with a nervous breakdown that trigged lungs infection, brain cells getting affected, so on and so forth.  Even then, I felt I would be fine with rest and treatment. The nervous breakdowns, the panic attacks, the trauma, the constant noises and faces inside my head, the pain..they still linger on like a ghostly shadow. They are not gone. Not yet. Not now.

The stark darkness went on for weeks and months, with me losing control of myself day by day. My mind grew into a puzzle-house and I became nothing less than a zombie.

The treatment, the counseling has helped a lot though. I found a wonderful human being as my counselor. Even today, the man helps me heal the wounds in more ways than one, but yet I feel I have a long way to go to bounce back to life.

A person I loved and choose to live my life with, someone with whom I had developed an estranged relationship over times, stood by my in this darkest hour. He pushed me to stand up and fight for my rights as a woman. When our relationship was falling apart, he was there to remind me of who I am and who I was. The fighter that I was, and someone that was dying inside me.

The fight was more about picking myself up from the internal fall rather than anything or anyone outside. The fight within myself is still on, and I am now just gliding along with time, as it takes me with its flow, heading towards an unknown destination.

If it is was not yesterday, does not mean it cannot be tomorrow. It can be today, it can be now. Its just about the twist of time. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Twists of Time…

The last few months of the last year changed a big gamut of my life. In fact, it changed many a major aspects and things. I became pressed for time, and though thoughts were moving on in my mind, I was unable to sit and pen them down.

The varied thoughts, incidents, situations happening over the last few months have been mind boggling. I met some amazing human beings, had a deep insight into their thought process which inspired me in many ways specially during my low moments, often having to take impromptu decisions, actually living on the edge, being fearless irrespective of unknown fears gripping me, taking wild risks and so on and so forth.

But the most amazing aspect of this entire time span was the mysterious grasp of fear and thrill along the journey at the same point of time. Mystery has always attracted me, the deep dark unknown secrets of life being engrossing at every spur. Fearful of the darker shadows that have been overpowering my life over the last many years and then becoming fearless overnight came as a shocker to many. Till some great extent, even to myself. I started wondering if whatever I was doing was for real and couldn’t believe for a long time that I could actually beat my fears and the darker shades, living with them and enjoying the glory of a wild craving to break the walls finally. Fear grips like fire, and rising from one’s own ashes makes one take the reins of life bang on. At times it’s not also important to overcome the darkness, as from there comes a source of light. The habit of living in darkness becomes deeply etched, also strangely giving a sense of vague comfort. One definitely feels blinded with the sudden source of light, living inside a dark room for days. Think of the blind, the physical sight is missing, but their sensations and experiences are vast and varied. So it’s just like that.  

‘The seed of materializing one’s dream has to be sown in the mind, just dreaming is not enough,’ – that is the basic, so I learnt from the lady who lives on the pavement of Chadni Chowk in Kolkata. I was speaking to her sometime in December last year before I said goodbye to my previous organization. She had just lost her new born baby and fighting to survive with her 3 year old daughter and 8 year old son. Those words hit me right across the face, as she made me realize that one has to face life in it’s nude form to live life on the brink. Like her or Rabia – like many others whose journey gets unnoticed, uncared for, time and again I would love to write for them. For the fire and spark I felt in the amazing illustrator of a magazine, the writer in a newspaper, the manager of a restaurant, the ex-government official and theatre artist, the entrepreneur, the blogger, the photographer, the tea stall owner, the rickshaw puller, the juice maker and many others, life kept telling me time and again, yes! There’s so much to learn, to explore, to do.  

Yes, it is indeed a twist of time for me and I have just started walking on a path again unknown with a strange passion to hug fear and overcome it at the same time.