The calm before the storm…
I woke up yesterday craving macaroons. Yes, I readily admit that I dream of food… desserts to be exact! Lucky for me, there is a small French bistro nearby which carries the most decadent, delicate, fluffy macaroons in variety of flavors. My favorite is the salted caramel. The perfect blend of sweet and salty… my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The pistachio is pretty amazing too, as is the lemon, raspberry, blood orange and pretty much everything else in that store!
As I walked back home, happy as a clam, with my macaroos in hand, I ran into my neighborhood grocer. Yes, you heard me right… I know my grocer. It feels quite old fashioned to be able to say that, doesn’t it?! I happen to live three blocks from an organic grocery store and the owner, Mike, is an old Irish man, who is very friendly. He brings in these amazing mini-pies from a local organic bakery, and there they were, neatly lined up, pumpkin, pecan, apple, Boston cream, aah, the devils! My sweet tooth won over and I had to bring home this lucky pumpkin pie as a token of my appreciation for mother nature.
The autumn leaves are falling, the smell of earth is in the air, and I can feel my spirits rising as the colors of my life change with each passing day!
I’m constantly struck by the number of people who hate their jobs. Smart, intelligent, articulate people, who envision themselves as being conduits between the 2 hemispheres of the brain, yet cannot bring themselves to see into their own hearts and decipher the code. They label it as being stuck in a rut, but, clearly they are unhappy because they KNOW they are doing something they are not good at. They are the cerebral types, students of history and academics, bringing interesting perspectives to the table, challenging the status quo through rhetoric, but sorely lacking in emotional depth, thereby rendering themselves useless in the day to day. You can usually see in their vacant eyes, hear in their somber tone, that they are faking ‘it’ in exchange for a false sense of security. I have worked with several of these types throughout my life and I never cease to be amazed at their inability to commit. They can’t sell themselves because they are not buying into what they are doing. Their blue centerlight is not popping!
The one quality you must have in this climate is pliability and I’m as bendy as they come. This does not mean compromising your standards, but willing to stretch yourself while maintaining a grip on your limitations. Keeping your eye on the prize and not giving up even when the going gets rough. Knowing what you are good at and pursuing it at all cost. Admitting your mistakes, but not letting them define you. Acknowledging your accomplishments and not allowing them to change you. Pliable like gold, like dough, constantly allowing your mind to be kneaded, your senses expanded, your capacity stretched until you are willing, without a second thought, to jump off a cliff, with complete confidence that you will find your wings to fly.
I have used this line in my follow-up letters to employers: there is nothing above or beneath me and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. You can dissect this any way you want and argue that I’m selling myself short… but, this is truly my message. If you pick me, you are getting all of me, totally invested and willing to roll up the sleeves and get to work starting from day 1. If you don’t believe me, just look into my eyes or listen to the sound of my voice. Folks, you can’t throw this around unless you are convinced of your own worth.
I’ve always been a big picture type of girl and I know that there are very few people who are true bridge builders in this world. I’m not one of them…yet. I have certain theories about the inner workings of the mind’s eye, but in the end, the only thing I can prove is my own. I own my strengths; I’m improving my weaknesses and I’m fully committed to being the very best, no matter what I do!
By Kahlil Gibran ((1883 – 1931)
This would I have you remember in remembering me:
That which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined.
Is it not your breath that has erected and hardened the structure of you bones?
And is it not a dream which none of you remember having dreamt, that builded your city and fashioned all there is in it?
Could you but see the tides of that breath you would cease to see all else,
And if you could hear the whispering of the dream you would hear no other sound.
Photo Courtesy: Irene Hardwick Olivieri
I was lucky enough to know have met my great grandmother, Thangam. Her name means gold in Tamil and in my culture, one never refers to their elders by their name. Great grandma lived to be 106! She was a strong woman. She was married briefly, had kids, though I don’t know how many, I only knew my grandmother, but after my great grandfather’s passing she developed a zeal for life, maintaining a stubbornness towards self-reliance that was unheard of in those times in India. She had made up her mind to live alone and that’s precisely what she did until she passed away many years ago. Her refusal to move in with the family forced my uncle to finally give in and build her a small mud hut in the empty land surrounding his house so that she can maintain her independence, while still under the watchful eye of the family. A devout Hindu, she insisted on cooking her own food, wearing only white, shaving her head every month and sleeping in that thatched roof hut even during the monsoons. She didn’t have electricity, she used oil lamps to light her quarters and never complained about anything. I will never forget her beaming toothless grin as we piled into her one room fort.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was something else altogether. She was fearless with a heart as big as the Indian ocean. When she was in her late 60’s, she came to the US to stay with us for awhile. She didn’t speak any English, but that didn’t stop her from making friends with the neighbors. She created her own style of pointing and gesturing to get her message across. I’ve watched her carry on 15 minute conversations with the neighbors from my bedroom window in awe and amazement. Nothing could stop this confidant woman. A complete stranger to this culture, she somehow managed to find her place while enjoying all the best it had to offer. I find myself taking a page out of her book whenever I feel out of place or at a loss for words.
My mother, my aunt, my sisters are all exceptional in their own regard. This post is in no way trying to minimize or trivialize my journey, but it feels good to remind myself that I come from a long line of strong, determined women. All of their stories are rich in both substance and style. My great grandmother may not have left her mark in history, but her fingerprints are all over mine. My grandmother was uneducated but she lived in 3 continents and her multidimensional life is worth knowing. My mother is the strongest person I know. I could fill this entire blog with stories of her courage and perseverance. I’m a product of their combined sacrifice, strength and spirit. Their blood runs through my veins and their collective legend is perpetuated in the ongoing saga of my life.
Have you heard of the saying; life is a challenge- Face it? Challenge Accepted! Now what? Does this mean our life is one big ordeal and you have to, somehow, overcome it? I don’t think so. I believe that life is a game of never-ending tests. Some tests are mundane, some others are complicated, but each test is a custom creation, designed especially for you to overcome whatever your life’s needs are at that given moment. You are never given any more or any less than you can handle. The first test is to accept this reality and treat each day as a brand new level in the game of life. Have you passed it yet? Yes, it is a game and by definition it should be fun. If you are not having fun every day; if your life seems complicated, then I bet you are not playing the game properly. You are pressing all the wrong keys on the Xbox controller. You are holding onto all the wrong cards in Gin Rummy. Your poker face needs… well, a lot more poker in it, if you get my drift. Stop. Figure it out! Play the game.
Every morning I wake up and look into my palms. The idea being the whole world is in the palm of my hands. I hold the reigns. I stare at the lines and calluses remembering all that my hands have held. In that quiet moment, I’m reassured that everything I want is within my reach. It’s all here, the culmination of my wants, hopes and visions, staring back at me. I close my eyes, allowing my hands to cup my face, wiping away yesterday’s crustiness which feels like a familiar dream. My senses heighten. I know that somewhere nearby, the first test of the day is already setting up its sting. But, I’m ready. I’m all set to level up today!