{Q} Travel Postcard #5: Quaint little cottage, Lancedown

Quaint-cottage-LancedownImagine walking down a hilly road, admiring the trees and the plants, watching the road snake ahead of you.

Imagine coming around a bed as the sun is starting its descent.

Imagine seeing this little cottage in the middle of a small clearing abutting a church, surrounded by greenery, the area around it carpeted with flowers, the sun filtering through the trees.

Imagine sitting on the parapet that runs above the area, with the wind whistling through your hair, wondering what purpose the cottage serves.

Does it belong the fairies? Do they come there to play?

Does it belong to the gnomes? Have they hidden their gold in there?

Or does it belong to the church? Have they used it as the store house for broken pews and forgotten ephemera?

Take a look at some more pictures from Lancedown and read about the place

{P} The Kindness Revolution: Be Positive

Happiness is a human birthright for everyone. – The Dalai Lama

One way to be kind to ourselves is to be able to choose happiness…and the way to do that, I believe, is to choose positivity. We can focus on everything that is wrong around us – the unfairness of a colleague getting promoted ahead of you, not having “enough” friends (whatever enough means) – or we can acknowledge those things, but focus on the things that are right – having the time to do the things you love, perhaps.

If you take a few moments to think about it, you’ll realize that there probably are a whole bunch of positive emotions or experiences that you aren’t even aware of. There’s so much to be grateful for each and every day… each and every minute…your very life, each breath, each action that you take for granted – walking, talking, smelling, seeing – is a miracle.

postivity-dalai-lamaWhen you view life with what I call “miracle lenses” {a combination of an attitude of gratitude and maintaining a positive frame of mind}, something amazing starts to happen. Miracles multiply. You find an increasing number of things to be thankful for. And you’re filled with peace and hope and joy. You start to break through old thought patterns that kept you trapped in a certain situation. You are led to the experiences and lessons you need right when you need them – often even before you’re fully conscious that you need them!

But it is hard work. You’re essentially changing your conditioning and your default mode of thinking. That takes time, but it is doable, and it is worth it! You will find yourself scoffing at your positive thoughts…falling back to your negative thought patterns…maybe even resisting this entirely…but if you break through it… if you slowly, one by one, gently and kindly frame your negatives in a more positive way…the miracles will come. Just stick with it…one day…one moment at a time.

Here are a few things you can try:

1. Keep a gratitude journal where you can list a few things you are grateful for every day – a beautiful sunset, the weather, some good news…

2. Print out or write down quotes that inspire you, motivate you, make you happy, and put them up where you can see them

3. Divide a piece of paper into 2 columns. To start with, list out some of your biggest negative thoughts or fears on the left hand column. Then frame them in a more positive, gentle manner on the right.
Here are a few examples: “I can never find {whatever you’re looking for – love, friends, etc}” to “I trust that I will meet the right person when the time is right”
“This is never going to work” to “I have some ideas that could work”

Will you join me in the kindness revolution?

Got any tips and strategies to share? Or maybe you have some questions, thoughts, or different opinions? Whatever the case – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

{O} An ode to an ordinary life

“Buy this dress!” “Go on this holiday!” “Look at this shiny new gadget that will change your life!

Buy these things, the advertisements tell us, and you’ll be breaking out of the ordinary.

But, what’s so bad with ordinary anyway?

Look behind those screaming advertisements. There’s a case to be made for an ordinary life. A life filled with love, laughter, companionship. A life where you have the time and energy to be present with your loved ones. Where people matter more than material objects. It’s a life filled with contentment, love, play, friends, family.

ordinary-life

But what about aspirations? Passions? Goals?

Follow them! Dreams and goals, even if they are extraordinary, isn’t opposed to an ordinary life. But thinking your dream or goal or passion is the only way to happiness is a fallacy. You need to recognize that life is ordinary, and you need to find happiness in that.

If you can’t find happiness in your day-to-day living, what makes you think you will find happiness if you live in an Italian village? Or run the marathon? Or get your photographs or articles published?

The day-to-day is just that – the daily cycle of work, family, friends, love, responsibility. Instead of running away from them, or wanting “more”, you can find happiness and contentment and joy in them. Because it really is enough.

When you are content with life, when you aren’t constantly wanting to be “great”, you’ll find that you’ve freed up so much energy to embrace opportunity, to dream, to imagine. And that’s when extraordinary things can happen – if you want them to.

So no, you are not meant for greatness. It is not your birthright.

But you are meant for good things. And good things can be found in an ordinary life.

{N} Travel Postcard #4: New York Public Library

New_York_Public_Library

Located on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, The New York Public Library with its two stone lions guarding the entrance is an iconic building. I’d seen pictures of the library, and being book obsessed, I knew that it would make it to my list of places to visit in New York City.

I knew that the library was the second largest public library in the US and third largest in the world, and Wikipedia told me it had nearly 53 million items and two research branches in NYC. But nothing prepared me for the sheer size and beauty of the interiors.

This postcard, people, features the foyer of the library. The entrance. With a million rabbit holes into which a book obsessed person can disappear. Like the library’s famous Rose Main Reading Room, a majestic 78 foot wide by 297 foot long room, with a ceiling that is 52 feet high! Its walls are lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves. The room is lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers, furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs and brass lamps. It is also equipped with computers and docking facilities for laptops. And that’s just one of the rooms in the library.

Contrast that with India, where we hardly have any public libraries. The ones we do have are dusty old buildings that no one would really go into. In Gurgaon, for example, there’s only one library I know of – it’s a private library run from a shop in Supermart 1. Shame!

But…I am so, so thankful for my school library and my wonderful librarian who encouraged me to read to my heart’s content, even allowing me to borrow more books than was allowed in a week. I owe my love for reading, in part, to her.

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. – Broadcaster Walter Cronkite

So, which is your favorite library?

More travel postcards

{M} The non-manifesto manifesto

I was introduced to the concept of a personal mission statement at a corporate training years ago. At the time, I tried really hard to come up with a mission statement for my life. I failed.

Over the years, I’ve given it a try a couple of times. I’ve always failed.

Then I came across some awesome manifestos (like my personal favorite, the Holstein manifesto). While I found some of them inspiring, I never could come up with one that was ME.

This inability to come up with a manifesto for my life has made me feel like a failure of sorts.

It took a very wise man – the husband, in fact – to show (or rather tell) me why I have always failed at it.

The reason is simple. So simple that I feel like a fool for not seeing it for myself. I simply don’t believe in having one.

Let me tell you why.

Life, I believe, is a journey. At its simplest, it’s a journey from birth to death. Along the way we undertake a number of journeys where we meet numerous people – some of who journey with us our entire lives, others who journey with us for a short while.

Along this journey we come across things that we enjoy doing. Some people find one passion and stick with it all their lives. Others find numerous interests that they pursue for different lengths of time. It’s all part of this journey called life. It’s all good.

Life is complicated and stressful enough as it is. To complicate it further by having a manifesto that you may not always be able to live by is pointless.

Instead, my philosophy on life is much simpler – be curious, be willing to learn. Do what you enjoy doing. If you get tired of something, drop it. Pick up a different hobby instead. Live life authentically. Not how people say you should; rather how you feel you should. If you aren’t enjoying the journey, if you aren’t feeling happy most of the time, what is the point of it all anyway? It’s your life. One life. Make it count – to you.

Now that’s a philosophy (or should I call it a manifesto?) that I can live by!