The great divide- fiction vs non-fiction. How does one choose? I love both actually, depending on the time of the day,maybe even month and of course my mood.When I am travelling I prefer to carry some novels because I can be sure of a couple of hours of uninterrupted reading time (that’s why i mentioned month too, as that’s vacation time when we are most likely to travel).Fiction reading can be addictive and if the story is particularly alluring its a tough task staying away from the book,resulting in neglecting most of your other work.
When i am cooking or have a few minutes of free time I prefer to pick up a glossy magazine, reading in bits and pieces ,or just flick through the pictures or read through some food recipes.My choices are also sometimes influenced by the best- seller and must read lists.
When it comes to choosing favourites between the two genres of fiction and non-fiction i guess for me non-fiction wins hands down! I find it way easier to read through a non-fiction book albeit if its on a topic that interests me. And mind you, even a non-fiction book can be as unputdownable as a fiction book, but it can easily be picked up from where you left it last. i mean there may not be a story connect, making this easier.Further, I also find that non-fiction books have greater re-read value as in certain self-help books,although some might find this view debatable.This brings us back to the square one. Well to each his own. The idea is to love books!
She went for her usual evening walk by the side of the lake.It was slowly getting dark as twilight gave way to the dark grey skies.She trudged along feeling exhausted and thirsty.It was hot and misty. She paused for a while, and took a sip of water from the small bottle she always carried with her.Then suddenly her eyes shone ,wide open and bright, the reflected light of the full moon shining through.She felt like running after it , mesmerised by its beauty. She quickened the pace of her walk feeling energized by the very presence of the beautiful moon.She kept her gaze fixed on it ,but it played hide and seek and eventually,seemingly got gobbled up by the trees as if a huge ‘Rasgulla’ swallowed by the monster.Disappointed she turned towards the lake and sat down on the embankment overlooking the water.The water was still ,awash with a shimmering jewel glow ,thanks to the moonlit light.It was so still,she was tempted to walk on it. Then, she saw the beautiful ballerina, fairy like,almost angelic, swirling and leaping joyfully, running on the waters in blissful abandon.Her flowing tresses and pristine robes glistening in the moonlight. She looked closely -zoomed in on the pretty dancing figure in her mind’s eye, and saw her own self. It was the personification of her own feelings at that moment.Happy,at peace,one with nature and contented in the moonlight.
There is definitely an information overload in today’s scenario. But losing common sense, is in a way utter nonsense, if I may be allowed to say that.The human race is considered to be a superior race because of inherent intelligence and every person should make conscious efforts to pick ,assimilate and process relevant information and ignore the rest.Having said that,I must admit that since starting this blog I have hardly been able to catch up on reading a book because all my reading time is consumed in reading either newspapers or other people’s blogs on wordpress or linkedin. But no, I’m not really complaining because its my choice.To preserve my sanity from information overload I have stopped all notifications on my email, facebook and whatsapp.I can always check these according to my suitability and free time.You bet, I feel very much in control.
I count myself as one lucky person to have been given all sorts of hand-me -downs from my parents and elders. There are beautiful artifacts and foolproof recipes given to me by my mother, and antique furniture which I treasure, received from my mother-in-law. But the most meaningful hand-me-downs in my life are some beautiful family traditions and values which I consider important to pass on to the next generation. Simple things like ‘ Put on your plate only as much as you will actually eat, you are welcome to take a second or even third helping ( which shows that you found the food tasty !) but no wastage please!’
Recently my son could not attend college for a couple of days on account of a muscle sprain. It felt nice when all his friends came to visit him . it was a lovely gesture to come and wish him a speedy recovery. Some of them brought flowers for him and pastries. A friend brought a home made chocolate mousse in a crystal bowl. Later as my son picked up the washed container to return it to his friend , I told him what I had learnt from my mother,’ We don’t return an empty container, fill it with some sweets.’ My son was pleasantly surprised and he obliged. This tradition is followed by many families in our country. It signifies prosperity, contentment and thanksgiving.
Another hand-me-down which both my husband and I firmly believe in, is something that a senior colleague told me several years back. She was a widow and perhaps spoke from some sad experience in her past. This is what she advised ,’ Never sleep after having a fight. When you love someone, don’t wait till the morning to sort out the issue- if need be rise above your ego and say sorry first.’
Life is short ; little sweet and kind gestures make it worth living.
For the first few months of this year , I went about doing all my work and performing my duties, but at the same time , just could not stop cribbing about something or the other. In fact, I was at my most irritable best. Finally, I decided that enough is enough and resolved to do something to come out of my cranky self and de-stress . Well, I couldn’t really keep blaming the weather for feeling so irritable. There just had to be a way out ! So one day I sat down for a while with my eyes closed and chalked out my ‘ De-stress Mantra’ . And phew ! It really does work ! Over the past few months , I’ve been feeling wonderful with absolutely no stress or strain on my mind. So what is this mantra all about ?
Wake up fifteen minutes earlier than your usual time : O.K. suppose you have set your alarm to wake up at 6 am in the morning, and the minute it starts to buzz you shut it off and doze off into a half sleep kind of state. It always feels so good to steal those extra minutes of sleep. But when you finally wake up at 6:45 am, that marks the end to the blissful state of your being ! The panic button has been pushed and so has the stress trigger in your brain! You’re going to be late today and will skip breakfast as a compromise -leading to hunger pangs later in the day and still more stress. Mantra no. 1 is a simple trick . Set the alarm for 5:45 am . Even if you wake up by 6:30 , you still have time to take a few deep breaths, stretch your limbs and make yourself a cup of coffee. These extra fifteen minutes will give a head start to the day.
Prioritize your tasks : With a host of responsibilities it does become difficult at times to strike a balance. Why not actually write down on paper all the work that you need to be done ? Then re-arrange the items on the list in order of importance and urgency of that task. So you are now on the way to a stress free life. Greg McKeown , author of the book ‘Essentialism’ advices to make a priority list of 6 items. Then , cross out the last 5 and spend the first 2 hours of the day on the first item before moving on to the next. Your life will see a positive change.
Stress Busters : Weall have our own stress busters ; something that simply makes us happy and diverts the mind from unpleasant thoughts. Try to look for or think consciously about what you think makes you happy. Is it a walk in the park? or perhaps reading your favourite magazine? Music? For me its fragrance. The moment I walk into my house which smells fresh and clean I feel energised and refreshed. Fresh flowers ,scented candles , essence sticks can do the trick. A great smelling body- mist or perfume always uplifts my mood. Come on, choose your own stress buster mantra!
Good Food and Drink : You must have surely heard that stressed out people tend to binge eat? In the process, they are kind of caught in a viscous circle because all the junk food they eat will ultimately lead to more stress ( pimples, tyres around the waist , etc. etc.). So the mantra to lead a de-stressed life is to eat healthy and wise. No dieting and no starving -just eat healthy. Believe me, healthy food can be tasty and is much faster to cook. If you continue to follow my posts , I promise to share some recipes with you.
Take a Break : Now and then it is good to take a break from your routine. Go for a short weekend holiday if possible or go shopping with your friend. For me, a small tea time break around mid-day works wonders ! I sip my cup of freshly brewed Green tea or Darjeeling tea mindfully, savouring the flavour. It really helps to relax and unwind. There are a host of different tea varieties to choose from. I also love the lemon and ginger tea that my daughter gifted me and my honey chamomile organic tea. Being a tea addict of sorts, I have invented my ‘cheats tea’ ( to avoid too much of caffeine intake ). It is also good for your digestive system. The recipe is shared below-
Riurang Cheats Tea :
Water – 1 and 1/4 cup
Aniseed – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon – a pinch (powdered)
Green tea – 1/4 tsp
Honey – 1 tsp (optional )
Method- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Put the aniseed and cinnamon and let boil for 1 to 2 minutes on a low flame. Switch off the gas and wait for half a minute. Now add the green tea. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Let the tea steep for 1 minute, or 2 minutes if you want a stronger taste. Strain , mix the honey if you like and enjoy!
Adequate Sleep : According to recent PTI news, a Mexican woman named Leandra Becerra Lumbreras , celebrated her 127th birthday on August 31, 2014. She is believed to be the oldest human to have ever lived. Her family said her secrets to longevity are eating chocolate, sleeping a lot and not getting married. Well, this news does draw our attention to the benefits of sleep (and chocolate of course !)
Sleep undoubtedly is the best tonic for a tired body as well as mind. Researchers have shown that sleep flushes out harmful toxins accumulated in the brain during your waking hours. On the average, an adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep to wake up fresh and rejuvenated. So sleep is a must on my De-Stress Mantra list.
Think Good: There is an old saying that out of all the thoughts that cross our mind or that we consciously focus upon during the day, one of these thoughts can actually become a reality. We generally tend to worry unnecessarily about things , events or our future and stop living in the present. This feeling is particularly intensified when family or loved ones are involved. Howsoever cliched it may sound the best solution to keep stress at bay is by thinking good and having a positive attitude.
‘The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’ —– William James