People all over the globe are asking themselves what is most important to them. The uncertainty has allowed the hardest of questions to surface. The sudden abundance of time has been an opportunity to reflect. But more importantly, the pandemic has brought us face to face with our own humanity, the inevitability that we all will die. This is what lies beneath the pondering.
I value my little family. I value time spent with them. I value solitude. I value movement. I value rest. I value deep connections and conversations. I value play. I value nourishment. I value work. I value people doing their best, wherever they are. I value differences. I value presence. I value being right here, right now.
That’s all it takes to move forward. No secret sauce to progress but to simply put one foot in front of the other, no matter how disheartening a situation is. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all that need to be done. All the details, the stuff to consider and matters to think through can be daunting. But the key to get started on the possibility of solutions is just a step.
We are on week three of the Covid lockdown. A lot of people are feeling antsy from being home and having not much to do. Many are dealing with the cocktail of feelings that they would have otherwise dealt with by spending too much time at the office, by drinking too much or by working out till they’re dead tired. Going through these extremes were considered normal.
It took a pandemic to get everyone to pause from all that we busied ourselves with. It was easier to fill our calendars with stuff to do than to grapple with the questions and doubts that beset our inner lives. With more time than we can manage to fill, the quandary brims to the surface. It is unsettling.
But this pause may be perceived and reframed as a time for rest and reflection. It may be a time to heal even as a pandemic sweeps over the land. We get to mend the broken parts of ourselves so we can prepare to live more fully in a future where norms have shifted and uncertainty abounds. It is a time to brace so we can be braver. It is a time to silence our souls so we can emerge stronger and more steadfast.
Let us allow ourselves to sit quietly and listen deeply to the stirrings within us. As we do so we also get to hear the silent hum of those around us and ultimately bear witness to the rest of human kind. It is amazing how this happens while we stay where we are and share in this collective experience. So let us pause and be still even as the world around us crazily tumbles. Something shifts within us when we do so.
It has been almost two weeks of staying home as part of the lockdown to arrest the spread of the virus. For someone who can’t keep still, I am pleasantly surprised how I well I have fared so far. I think a big part of it is an acceptance that this is where I ought to be. Peace and joy comes amidst times of uncertainty when we embrace our present reality and not will it to be otherwise.
What has helped greatly was keeping a routine while flowing throughout the days and weeks. Below is a sample of what I call our “quaransked”:
- 730AM – 8AM : Morning routine (meditation + 3 questions- what are you grateful for, what will I let go of, what will I focus on today)
- 8AM-830AM: Prep simple breakfast for family; intermittent fasting for me
- 830AM-920AM: Yoga
- 930AM-10AM: Daily Stand Up for work
- 10AM-1130AM: Focused work
- 1130AM-1PM: Prep lunch/Lunch
- 1PM-130PM: Write
- 130PM-430PM: Focused work
- 5PM-530PM: End of day Scrum for work
- 6PM-7PM: HIIT with Kids (while dinner is cooking)
- 730PM-8PM: Dinner
- 8PM-9PM: Hour of practice/learning
- 9PM-10PM: Hangout/read
- MWF – Yoga/HIIT
- TThSu – Run/Strength
- Sat – Cleaning/chores
It has also given me joy to listen to podcasts, online learning and audio books while doing chores and going about my day. I pepper the day with these together with music and stretches of silence. The choice of what to listen to is refreshing.
It may be a challenge but carving out personal space and personal time greatly helps. The spaces in between truly make a difference in the quality of relationships of those at home together 24/7. I think I am a much better mom and wife because I get to continue to do the things that I love, do the work that I ought to do and play the roles that I ought to fulfil. Having a choice to do these things even as it feels as if we don’t does wonders to one’s psyche.
I hope to continue to write more in the next days, making it a part of practice. It has helped me in the past make sense of things. I think t is much needed in these trying times.
The new year is always a time to reset. It is an opportunity to re-assess practices that one will keep and those that one will let go of. Most of the time there is a desire to do more of the new in an attempt to live each year better than the last. But there too are valuable principles that are gleaned from the past that one must do more of with the added intention of further optimising since these have been working so far.
For the coming year, a personal theme is clarity and fit. It entails an everyday practice of deliberately moving towards what I ought to be working on. It is finding the starting point and then connecting the dots as I move along. It combines actions that are still working and new ones that have resonated from my readings and research. I am putting it here as a reminder as well as part of the practice of clarifying.
- Morning routines and meditation set my day.
- A simple two-minute morning routine is powerful. Ask these three questions: what I am grateful for, what will I let go of and what will I focus on today.
- Time boxing my day allows me to have the time and energy for those that matter. It forces me to choose wisely where I want to spend these two limited resources.
- This practice feeds the work life flywheel that operates by giving your full attention and energy in one part of your life so it fuels the other parts and vice versa.
- Work on getting to the next dot and do not be daunted by the other things and details yet. Focus your undivided attention on just hurdling this first step. Then move on to the next then to the next. One foot in front of the other.
- Tied to this is paying close attention to the flow of each and every moment and experience.
- Trust your own flow and intuition. There is value in that.
- Stay curious and do stuff that you are interested in. That could lead to something.
- Keep the fun in the practice.
- The practice of saying “YET” after a statement that speaks of something you do not know. Eg. I am not an e-commerce person yet.
- And because this happened to me today… Next time you feel angsty and existential, maybe you are just hungry.
So here’s to practicing all these everyday as I move towards a year of fit and clarity.
My husband and I had a thought exercise yesterday, thinking about what exactly we were doing ten years ago. I was a new mom, just got back to work, I was launching new properties and trying to find my footing as I was going through the transition of caring for another human being who was completely dependent on me. My husband just closed his company and started work at someone else’s. The years seemed to pass by so fast, marked by moments that are mostly unplanned. What is constant is that I always believe that we are better off every year.
This year, despite its challenges, is still better than last year. We were shifting and experiencing existential hurdles in business, ending partnerships, choosing friendships and trusting decisions made. This year we gained clarity on work that matters, distilled the themes of our lives and spent time reflecting on what we wanted to stand for. The year will end leaving us with focused questions to answer and a burning desire to align what we value with what we spend our energies and time on.
I have a few more weeks to wrap up these next steps. It feels like the year will end on a more somber and reflective note. I like this mood as we approach a crazy and hectic season. Perhaps I like it too because it gives me a flavor of how I wish to ease into the new year and how 2020 will roll out. Another year to look forward to, always much better than the last, moving forward and onward, deliberately and with increased intentionality.
I like doing solo stuff and don’t mind long stretches of solitude. But there also is something special when an experience is shared with someone you love or with a small group of people you genuinely enjoy being with. The last week was filled with moments such as these so my heart is full.
An intimate wedding with the couple’s closest friends and family, a long walk with a new friend around a crazy city, a guided tour that felt more like a date with a local friend, conversations as we lingered over breakfast or as we partook copious amounts of cocktail- these are the stuff that give me joy. These add meaningful layers in our lives.
Experiences may even be asynchronous and still remain to be shared. For instance, sharing the experience of taking care of one’s wellbeing through exercise even as you are doing different workouts gives the practice more substance. This is an activity that me and my husband enjoy doing and discussing. It has added a fun dimension to our interaction. Knowing that both of you are working towards your best selves in all the facets of your life imbues long term relationship with energy.