Oh, I Juggle!

Home, Family, Success, Peace… Can a woman really have it all?

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Just Married Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal- Review

“Where is the sticky stuff we make rotis with?” Y asks V after searching the kitchen cabinets for readymade dough for a botched up surprise breakfast of alu parathas.

Introducing Y, a smart professional with an MBA from one of the top institutes in the country, but unbelievably naive when it comes to domesticity. Y feels she is too young to get married and has maintained a ‘let’s wait’ stance ever since V popped the question. She says an impulsive ‘yes’ when V stands by her, stroking her hair as she is vomiting! Not very romantic when said like that. But isn’t this how love evolves in marriage? Knowing that building a life together is more than sitting around candles and roses and romance is standing through difficult times, beside the one you love. Most of the difficulties Y and V face are, however, self inflicted. Each of those ups and downs tickles and touches the heart at the same time. Yashodhara Lal beautifully marries emotion and humour and makes them work together wonderfully well.

‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ is the heartwarming story of Y and V, how they come together in holy matrimony and go through all sorts of unholy experiences that couples adjusting to new roles go through. V is poles apart from Y in most respects but his devotion to her and her childlike ways is endearing.

I love humour and most of my appreciation is shown by smiling. I rarely laugh out loud. It is probably because I am tough to impress and also because I don’t find crass ‘in your face’ humour funny at all. As I balanced JMPE in one hand and patted my baby to sleep with another, both he and I were surprised by the frequent chuckles escaping my throat. If the book could do that to me, I can safely bet that most of you will be clutching your bellies and tearing up with laughter. Even when I was not laughing, I was grinning and nodding throughout. My husband, who rarely comments on what I read, became quite curious and asked me what the book was about. Humour is extremely difficult to execute well. Yashodhara is a natural and does her job with great finesse.

All the characters in the book grow on you and stay with you long after you finish reading the 255 pages. I feel as if I have known and loved Y for a long time. My measure for great characters is how long they stay with me after I turn the last page of the book. I finished reading nearly ten days ago.  I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think of Y.  Just like the kind you feel when you think of a friend.

You could try and win a copy by participating in the contest. Even if you don’t win, just go ahead and order your copy online. If, like me, you insist on great quality of narration and love humour, you will not regret it.

The “Just Married, Please Excuse” Contest

Yashodhara Lal, author of Just Married, Please Excuse is hosting a contest on her blog. You just have to write a post about a funny incident from your married life. The chosen ones will win a copy of JMPE and the Delhi based ones will also get a free lunch and great conversation with the author herself.

I was one of the lucky firsts to win my own copy of JMPE from the giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I will share more thoughts on the book later. I just wanted to tell you guys not to miss this opportunity. Sift through your memory files. Choose something funny and get your creative juices flowing.

Here is the contest link:

http://www.yashodharalal.com/2012/08/the-just-married-please-excuse-contest.html

Good Luck!

P.S. Hey Yash, any plans of visiting Hyderabad?

Overwhelmed? Make a Master List

There are times when a hundred priorities seem to be pulling you in different directions. The mind keeps jumping from one thing to another. It is hard to focus because you know that you still have so many things to do. What also happens is, the same thoughts keep coming back on a regular basis. So much mental energy gets expended and it becomes quite exhausting.

The easiest way to break out of feelings of overwhelm is write down everything that is stampeding through your mind. Getting it out on paper gives you an immediate sense of taking charge of the situation.

A master to do list acts like a mind dump. It clears the clutter in the head and helps you organize your priorities. The very act of sitting down and writing that list will unlock a lot of energy that is needed to get things done.

I prefer to stick to a pen and my diary for writing down my master to do list as well as daily lists. I feel that writing is a little slower than typing and since your writing is unique it helps you connect to the list better. Also, if you use any other device to keep track of your tasks, the device has many more in built distractions.

These are the steps I follow to clear my mind and break out of overwhelm:

Write Everything Down

Don’t edit anything. Write down all that you want to or need to do. A master list is not time specific, so you can include anything that is to be done in future. You don’t need to categorise just as yet. Just number each separate entry.

 Define Broad Categories

I had done a post on having a distilled future vision. It is easier to have such a vision when you divide life into broad categories. I have home organization, health and fitness, kids’ learning, spiritual growth, other learning and development, writing, creative pursuits, maintaining relationships (including keeping in touch with friends) etc. as my categories.

 Assign tasks to Categories

Assign each item on the master list to a category. If something is not easily classifiable, you can always create a new one. I just write the beginning alphabet in capital for each category near each item. S for spiritual, O for organising and so on.

I have portioned out my diary (you can use a three ring binder) for each category. That way it is easier for me to revisit my ideas. If any new idea crops up, I can just open up the category list and jot it down there.

 Decide Current Focus

Pick up tasks from the master list you want to currently focus on and put it on your monthly or weekly to do list. Here you can also decide how much you want to focus on each area of life. Sometimes one area keep us so occupied that some other areas get neglected. If you are unhappy with that, then you will have to take a stance and decide what proportion of your time you need to give to each of those areas for achieving the kind of balance you like.

 Plan Each Day the Night Before

 Sometimes when I have been busy all day and I lie down to sleep, my mind refuses to settle down. It keeps churning out thoughts of things to do. The best way to calm the mind a have a good night’s rest is to write the daily list the night before.

Some of the items on a daily list would come from the master list. Now, the master list does not always list something that can be completed at a go. For example, in my creative category I might have mentioned “learn to crochet a hanky edging”. That is something which would have to be worked at on a progressive basis. You could decide to work on crochet every Friday or something like that. Then on Thursday night you can put it on the list for the next day.

Other items on the daily list would be just tasks life keeps throwing at you on a regular basis- a school project, menu plan for dinner guests etc.

Have you felt overwhelmed lately? Want to clear you mind? Make a master list.

The Importance of Writing Voice

A writing voice is just as unique and distinctive as a speaking or singing voice. If you want your reader or audience to be compelled to read/listen, understand and maybe even enjoy what you are saying, you have to exercise and develop your voice. With a deep and unique voice carrying through your writing, you can aspire to gather readers who will want to return to listen to something new you have to tell.

The writing voice is more than language or style. Somewhat like the spoken voice is different from accent or inflection. To free up the voice one has to train it. I find that my blog voice is different from my fiction voice. Like my Sanskrit chanting voice is different from my English country music voice. All singing helps my voice, but to sing better I spend time practising both of these separately. Once a voice is developed we can hope that our writing does not sound phony, hollow or (heaven forbid!) like someone else.

Try as I might, it is not possible to isolate my writing from myself. My writing, fact or fiction, will reflect many aspects of who I am. That thought in itself is quite scary. But bringing out my real self onto paper is a learning experience. I don’t like to destroy even the worst of what I write. I may not share it with anyone, but everything I write transforms me and helps me grow. I am grateful to technology. Can you imagine how cluttered my house would be if I were to retain every scrap of paper I wrote on?

It is also important to understand why I want to write in the first place. All of us want to be understood and appreciated (and paid 🙂 ). But if that is the sole motivation to write, I don’t think it will carry us through the tough times. The primary reason has to be the joy that writing gives. Yes, I want to write well so that people can pat me on the back and say “well done”. There is still time for that.

I haven’t found my voice yet. Just like in the classical singing that I was taught, riyaaz (practice) is key. The more you flow, the more you grow. Holly Lisle’s article gives ten steps you can take to find your writing voice. The writing games are great as exercises to help train your voice. They free up not just the words, but also the heart. When the heart marinates in emotion, it cultures thought. The voice deepens.

Finding my voice would probably be one of the most important things I do for myself as I begin to walk on the writing path. I might be able to fool others by pretending to be someone else. But, I have found that it is never a good idea to try to fool myself.

 

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