Home

  • Chrysalis

    When I was young, I would wander our backyard, looking for fuzzy black-and-orange catepillars. I would use a twig to catch them and place them in a jar as “pets.” I would put more twigs and leaves in the jar for them, but often, they died (I think). One, however, began to form a chrysalis, but the jar fell to the floor one day, and we rehomed the caterpillar outside.

    I’ve been thinking about that caterpillar a lot lately. I feel a lot like it.

    I left my job at the end of January. To the public, to those who are not so close to me, I did it because I wanted to launch headfirst into my coaching business and to pursue a creative project that I had come my way.

    All of that was true, but now, nearly nine months into self-employment, it’s fair to say that burnout has caught up with me. Caring for my mother, who now has late-stage dementia, and being support for my father while also nurturing a relationship with my wonderful partner (and being a dog-mom) has taken its toll.

    My business took off at the end of the spring, and I even started coaching General Managers, CEOs, and high-level directors at various organizations across the U.S. – across the world, even.

    I drafted my book and had a great time doing it.

    I started to take back control of my health, walking regularly and even getting back on my yoga mat, not just at home but also at a studio (how I’ve missed studios).

    But after taking my first out-of-state trip since fall of 2019 last month, I’ve found myself tired. So tired. So much so that nearly every week there’s at least one day that I can’t get myself to do anything truly productive. Some days, I can’t even get out of bed.

    What I’m experiencing, I’ve come to admit in recent days — between sobbing fits in my car or in the shower or even in the coffee shop — is that I’m burned out. Severely so.

    The emotional toll of being a primary caregiver for eight years has finally caught up with me. In that time, I’ve also dealt with the “disappearance” of my one and only sibling (that’s a story for another day), graduating law school and deciding not to take the Bar exam, running three households and holding down a full-time job while running a business on the side. All while maintaining three households at any given time.

    Just thinking about it now makes me exhausted. And it’s bringing up the tears.

    That said, there’s been so much joy in the journey. So much learning. So much love. So many memories. So much appreciation for life, connection, loved ones, relationships. All along with a better philosophy about life, meaning, purpose, and the seasons that come and go as we go about our days – much of which is unexpected.

    I once, many years ago, told someone that I didn’t think I was resilient. But now I know I’m more resilient than I could have known anyone could ever be.

    So this fall, I’m giving myself a break. A time to step back, focus on the work that I already have lined up – workshops and coaching, as well as more edits on my book. I’m going to take the opportunity to slow down, reflect, examine who it is I’ve become so that I can move forward with a better understanding of who I can be.

    I’ve proven myself these past several years that I’m capable of far more than I ever imagined, that I’m a better person that I ever gave myself credit for. I know now that my many, many mistakes over the years do not define me, that the past is just an illusion, as is the future – neither exists, and all we have is the now.

    I’m giving myself permission to BE.

    It’s scary, this letting go of pushing, chasing, achieving.

    But it’s necessary. More than that, it’s crucial.

    I’m entering my chrysalis. And we all know what emerges from the chrysalis when the time is right.

  • These Locks Were Made for Talking

    Lately, I’ve been receiving all sorts of messages about my hair. It’s a handful, for sure – curly as can be, and long. In the Florida summers, the humidity makes it BIG, unruly even. But all my life, I’ve seen it as something to hide behind – literally in some ways, but also with the thought that people will see my hair and not be concerned with the rest of me.

    It’s been another form of escape.

    I remember walking through my high school, chin tucked in toward my chest, my hair pinned half up or falling around my face. I was trying my best not to be noticed. Looking back I see it as an early form of impostor syndrome. I had few friends, and the friendships I did have were not the type that would last long – in fact, I have not kept in touch with any of those people other than the odd connection on social media.

    It was the same in college – by the time I left, I had still not made any friends, mostly because I wanted to explore beyond the college campus (I was in New York City, after all) and I was one of the few people I ever found on campus who didn’t drink alcohol. I recognized depression, and I still tried to disappear, so much so that I even graduated early, leaving the campus as soon as I could.

    And into my 20s and 30s, I opted not to cut my hair – it had become a marker, an identity, as well as a tie to my Sikh culture that I refused to give up, even if I didn’t consider myself religious.

    But now.

    Now I’m suddenly seeing this hair, this unwieldly part of my physical Self, as a gift beyond just something pretty. Instead, it’s something powerful. It’s a crown.

    A friend (yes, along the way, I’ve finally made friends) told me last week that my hair down makes me more intimidating – but in a good way, a powerful way. That when I walk into a room, it’s as though I have something to say. Funny, as I see in myself as having a lot to say, of wanting to say, but censoring myself for fear of how it might be received. As a journalist trained in old-school methods where we don’t share our own opinions, voicing my own now has been a challenge for me. I don’t want to upset anyone.

    But at 40 (and no longer an active member of the media), shouldn’t I have a voice, an opinion, whether it’s ill-received is not on me but on the receiver? If they don’t like what I have to say, anyone worth engaging with will be open to a conversation, not an attack. But it’s attacks that we have too much of these days.

    But back to my hair. I try to care for it, to be kind to it, to love it. And in fact, I truly do. I can’t imagine ever being without it.

    Instead of being a block, though, something to disappear behind, to be a distraction, I want it to be a symbol of my voice, my abilities, my power.

    Because, aren’t we all, as creations of the Divine, all powerful?

  • An Unlikely Escape

    I’ve given a lot of thought in recent months to escapism. What is it, what it means, how it manifests for different people. For me, I rarely drink alcohol and don’t use recreational drugs, but I have my own form of escape, of addiction: caregiving.

    My mother has suffered from memory loss for many years, and it was eight years ago this summer that signs became apparent enough to warrant doctors’ evaluations. There were so many appointments that I drove hours between law school classes to take her various appointments. Nearly three years ago, we got the official diagnosis, and since then, it’s been a slide into late-stage dementia.

    In that time, I graduated from law school, chose (with the guidance of several law professors) to take a break before taking the Bar exam, if I would take it at all (I never did). I took a job in media again, intending that I could do anything for a year, but liking it enough and having flexibility enough that I stayed for nearly five. In the end, though, I was worn out from the caregiving and the challenge of balancing caring for my parents while also exploring my interest in my own business that I chose to leave.

    But I’ve been thinking more and more about how caregiving has become an escape, an excuse. I don’t have children, but I’m at that inevitable point in life where I’ve effectively become the “parent.” Had I not been local, my father would no doubt have figured out as much as he could on his own. But being present and being here has allowed me to focus my intention so acutely on trying to be the “good daughter” – to prove myself for whatever reason – that I’ve honestly lost sight of what it is I want in this life.

    And now at 40, I have some ideas of what that is, but I’m not entirely clear on it.

    I just returned from vacation, and these thoughts are sitting forefront in my mind. I left Florida for the first time in nearly three years, and while it was a good trip overall, it was not nearly the trip I was hoping for. But in many ways, it was just the wake-up I needed: I saw that playing the role of caregiver, whether for my parents or for friends, is not fair to me, that I’m not putting my own needs and demanding what I want enough. It was, most painful to realize, an acknowledgment that I have long held myself as being less-than, less-worthy, than others, that my own needs don’t matter so much.

    This is a particularly personal confession, as it could be seen as resentment or callousness. I hope it isn’t taken as that. Instead, I hope it is seen as a point of taking my power back. I don’t not regret any of the last eight years; in fact, I’m ever grateful for them, as I know that they were a lesson in selflessness. I will acknowledge that for a very long time, I was incredibly selfish in many ways.

    There should be a balance, though, between caring for others and caring for self. And it’s about care and kindness, not selflessness and selfishness. No one needs to be a martyr, just as there is no need for narcissism. Self-awareness is key, and at this point in time, my awareness is that I have more power than I ever thought possible.

    I’ve given a lot of thought in recent months to escapism. What is it, what it means, how it manifests for different people. For me, I rarely drink alcohol and don’t use recreational drugs, but I have my own form of escape, of addiction: caregiving.

    My mother has suffered from memory loss for many years, and it was eight years ago this summer that signs became apparent enough to warrant doctors’ evaluations. There were so many appointments that I drove hours between law school classes to take her various appointments. Nearly three years ago, we got the official diagnosis, and since then, it’s been a slide into late-stage dementia.

    In that time, I graduated from law school, chose (with the guidance of several law professors) to take a break before taking the Bar exam, if I would take it at all (I never did). I took a job in media again, intending that I could do anything for a year, but liking it enough and having flexibility enough that I stayed for nearly five. In the end, though, I was worn out from the caregiving and the challenge of balancing caring for my parents while also exploring my interest in my own business that I chose to leave.

    But I’ve been thinking more and more about how caregiving has become an escape, an excuse. I don’t have children, but I’m at that inevitable point in life where I’ve effectively become the “parent.” Had I not been local, my father would no doubt have figured out as much as he could on his own. But being present and being here has allowed me to focus my intention so acutely on trying to be the “good daughter” – to prove myself for whatever reason – that I’ve honestly lost sight of what it is I want in this life.

    And now at 40, I have some ideas of what that is, but I’m not entirely clear on it.

    I just returned from vacation, and these thoughts are sitting forefront in my mind. I left Florida for the first time in nearly three years, and while it was a good trip overall, it was not nearly the trip I was hoping for. But in many ways, it was just the wake-up I needed: I saw that playing the role of caregiver, whether for my parents or for friends, is not fair to me, that I’m not putting my own needs and demanding what I want enough. It was, most painful to realize, an acknowledgment that I have long held myself as being less-than, less-worthy, than others, that my own needs don’t matter so much.

    This is a particularly personal confession, as it could be seen as resentment or callousness. I hope it isn’t taken as that. Instead, I hope it is seen as a point of taking my power back. I don’t not regret any of the last eight years; in fact, I’m ever grateful for them, as I know that they were a lesson in selflessness. I will acknowledge that for a very long time, I was incredibly selfish in many ways.

    There should be a balance, though, between caring for others and caring for self. And it’s about care and kindness, not selflessness and selfishness. No one needs to be a martyr, just as there is no need for narcissism. Self-awareness is key, and at this point in time, my awareness is that I have more power than I ever thought possible.

  • Hello to Myself

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the places I grew up. There were two homes: One was a comfortable house on an acre of land next to a pond; the second, where we moved when I was 9, was a castle for the area, a grand home that was gorgeous but much too large for just four people – and later for just two people when my sister and I left home.

    I loved them both for different reasons, but I always felt that life became more difficult when we moved to the second home. Maybe it was a turning point in life for me, a growing up, a realization that things change, that people change, that you have to move on sometimes. I started at a new school and had to drive 45 minutes from home each way. I was never a gifted child, but when I made the switch to private school, I had to face the fact immediately that I was far behind my classmates in learning. It was a challenging time.

    But lately, I have been thinking about that first house, the one on the pond, on an acre of land, where I dirtied my pristine while lace socks in the dirt and chased my dog around. I came up with fairy tales and often played alone. But it was serene, idyllic, all that space to play and explore, to imagine what life and the world might become and be.

    I want that peace and creativity again.

    Something took me away from myself and instead to a big city – the biggest city, New York. I lost my own desires and dreams and took on others’. Perhaps it was for the best: experience and resilience in the face of doing things and with people I didn’t most enjoy. But the exposure gave me a greater sense of who I am both as a professional, and perhaps even greater, as a spiritual being.

    I’m grateful for New York.

    But I’m drawn back to the land right now.

    I want to race through the grass after the rains, getting the hem of my pants wet, slipping perhaps, but not falling. I want to stand still and close my eyes, connect with the Earth. And remember what it feels like for the pure breeze to kiss my face.

    I am of the Earth and with the Earth.

    And I know myself now more than ever before. I can’t wait to meet myself further.

  • Happy Mother’s Day

    My mother wouldn’t speak to me today. At least not when I spoke to her. Twice she started to rattle off in Punjabi, a language I understand but am not nearly fluent in. Her words were quick and low, hardly audible, and the sentences incomplete. She’d hardly look at me, even, instead staring off, or, more often, nodding off, even as I applied makeup, showed her the flowers and the giant balloon I had brought her to celebrate. The photo album – pictures of her with her parents and siblings in Tanzania, pictures that usually engage her and bring her to life – only held her interest for a moment.

    I tried to straighten her fingers, increasingly bent and stiff with contractures. I wiped away a bit of scrambled eggs from breakfast that was stuck to the top of her foot. I tried to engage, but celebrating Mother’s Day is a now just another day. The card, the flowers, the balloon are not of interest. In fact, they may confuse her.

    And then it dawned on me later in the visit that my mother, who has late-stage dementia, likely no longer knows who I am. There are some days, increasingly rare, when she seems to have a flash of recognition, when I’ll tell her my name and she will repeat it to me. Today was not one of those days. Today there was hardly a grunt of acknowledgement, hardly a glance at my face, before she looked away.

    We’re lucky to have the means and resources to care for her, to have her in a memory care community where she has a nice room and activities. And we are lucky to be able to hire private caregivers to spend several hours with her throughout the week. And I was grateful to hear that one of them is so attentive to her that even the full-time staff, some with years of experience, noticed.

    I’m grateful that my mother is not just cared for but loved, not just by her family, but by people we have enlisted to help. She may know them better than she knows me now, despite my efforts to visit her as often as I can. I’m her daughter, and even on those many, many days when she does not know me, I’m grateful.

  • So many colors

    I am feeling very colorful this week. Literally. I am craving color. To be surrounded by color. To wear color and enjoy color. So much so that I have started revamping my hot-weather wardrobe, which is currently full of a lot blue (an electrifying and soothing color, depending on the shade) and adding instead shocks of yellow, red and even orange.

    In less than a month, I will be entering a new decade of my life, celebrating one of those big birthdays that ends in “0.” Thinking back to my last turn-of-decade, I recall dressing in plain black, the absence of color, more suited for funerals. It was a beautiful dress, and it matched my mood – I had just left behind abruptly my life in New York and honestly thought my life was over. The grand plans I had created clung to for years – the hope – all disappeared in the span of a few weeks. Ambition had turned to restlessness, which finally turned to despair.

    And so I dolled up the best way I new how, wearing the hues I had grown accustomed to in New York – blacks, grays, and white, all colors, yes, but not the ones I need now – to celebrate the turning of yet another year.

    But here we are a decade later, at the end of the decade that has not been easy, but one that taught me so much. It gave me patience, as well as wonder and adaptability. I no longer cling to plans that do not suit me, and I no longer get depressed, so depressed, when things go awry. Instead, I’ve learned to allow myself to process the disappointment and then keep moving. Always moving. For with change comes pain, and with pain comes growth. And how I’ve been planted, how I’m growing. The stalks of my plants and the trunks of my trees have taken root, and now the colors – the flowers – are bursting forth.

    It’s a new spring at mid-life. A new life. And I’m so excited to see what comes.

  • Homecoming

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood home. Not the one in Texas — we left there when I was three months old. And not the first one my parents bought when they moved to Florida – I have no idea how long we lived there, and I have no memory of it. I’m also not thinking of the one that we moved into when I was 9, a palatial space that my father designed himself.

    No, I’m thinking of the one in between, the one on Pretty Pond, just off Pretty Pond Road. It took a ride along a quiet road, past orange groves and a burgeoning development – now long packed with homes – and a left turn onto a long, private drive to get there. And once there, it was paradise. Idyllic. An escape from the rest of the world, the place where I got my hands dirty, quite literally, in grass and dirt, but also figuratively in creative projects.

    I built worlds for my toys, including the Barbie dolls that were popular in the ‘80s, but mostly stuffed animals. Teddy bears and their various animal friends. I sorted and resorted cards featuring all sorts of animals, learning random facts about flying squirrels and koalas. I drew pictures and devised tales about the sparkling plastic jewelry, claiming the pink round pieces were real, they were rubies. And like every little girl, I played dress-up, donning my mother’s pearls and simple gold bangles, trying my best to fit into her miniature heels.

    I told myself other stories, too. Stories about escape and finding a prince charming. Stories about not being good enough, not being smart enough, not having enough friends.

    But what is “enough,” really? What bar was I trying to reach?

    Despite those limitations I placed on myself, overall, this place — this home on an acre on lilly-pad-covered Pretty Pond, complete with a guest house that never saw guests but was sometimes a play spot for my sister and me — has become the kind of place I aspire to be. Somewhere close but not too close. Somewhere where I can get my hands dirty, this time not in the dirt mounds where the pool was being dug or from getting in the grass with a golden retriever puppy.

    No, to get my hands dirty planting flowers like my mother once did. Vegetables, too. Pruning back bushes and raking leaves. A dog – or two – running through that giant yard. Making noise, that bright type of noise that shatters the silence and says, “There is happiness here.”

    I am grateful for the homes and the years that came later. But none of them had the tranquility of this place. The energy that comes with such a place – is beckoning me. A place where I can clear my head and create without worrying about any sort of perfection. But what’s that?

    Be at ease there. Be held there. Be.

  • I Am a Creative Person

    CREATE (relevant definitions via Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary):

    Transitive Verb:

    • To bring into existence
    • To produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior
    • To produce through imaginative skill

    Intransitive Verb

    • To make or bring into existence something new

    I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a creative person. I’ve long wanted to be one, and recently, I discovered that I am. How many things each day do I bring into existence or cause to happen? I use my skills to create sentences, organize spaces, match pieces of an outfit.

    I’ve always been creative – we all are. But I want more. I’m keenly aware that I’m holding myself back. I’m even in the midst of writing my first book – a children’s book – and as much as I’m enjoying the process, I’m feeling challenged.

    What if it’s not good enough? Good enough to who? It’s something unique, something new, something fresh. The fact that I made it is amazing in and of itself. It’s something that exists – that is being published – that did not exist before. And I have good reason to believe that people are going to buy and read it.

    What will people think? Honestly: WHO CARES? I know better than to even to try to satisfy everyone. And I also know better than to read the comments. There will always be critics, but unless it’s criticism that will help me improve the next time – and there will be a next time – it’s not worth hearing.

    There’s a difference between having ideas, though, and being creative. The latter is imagination, while the other is actual execution and bringing something into the world, into existence, that was not there before.

    We’re all creative people in our own right. I have too many ideas, I know, which is why I’m so glad that my biggest childhood dream – a book! – is finally coming true.

  • “I Am a Weaver”

    I am a weaver,

    Of sounds, of words, of stories.

    I don’t often share mine,

    Not directly,

    But I’ll combine strings of different tales,

    Realities,

    To create new ones.

    It’s more about the lessons to learn

    Than the realities lived.

    Reality is relative,

    After all.

    There’s so much that’s so vibrant,

    The colors, tastes, sounds, smells.

    I do my best to capture it all,

    To share my world,

    As I’ve seen it, understood it.

    To entertain and to teach.

    It’s as much for me as for you.

    It is my being, laid bare.

  • Tearing Down the Walls

    I found this note on my iPhone recently. It’s from May 21, 2021 at 7:20 p.m.:

    I bring out in people things they are scared to share but they want to share. We build this wall about who we are, and we want people to come over that wall because we want people to be open and vulnerable, but we want people to show us that wall never actually existed. And there is nothing more beautiful than having the courage to share with other people what you have always been scared to share.

    I have no idea what I was thinking at the time, but this statement (verbose, and even nonsensical in some parts as it is) resonates with me quite a bit today.

    I’m a good listener. I don’t share much about myself – it’s a characteristic that began as fear of judgment but has since evolved into the profound knowledge that less is more. I have naturally loved listening more than sharing, but my listening skills deepened through my journalism and then legal and coaching training as I learned to pay close attention to the words and body language of my sources and then of clients.

    It’s very true that we all build up a wall of who we are – we create an image, a persona. Just look at how most people use social media, showing all the happy, high points – often fabricated ones – for likes and attention. But in reality, we yearn for connection, to be seen, to be witnessed. That’s why finding a true connection with friends and partners is so challenging. It’s difficult to be real because we fear being judge, fear losing the connection and being alone. But being alone is not so bad, particularly if you are living more true to yourself than you would with another person. And someone who judges you is likely not the right person for you.

    This idea of connection and how to create it is one that deserves further exploration. My favorite way is through stories, both by hearing others’ and sharing my own. It’s through stories that we learn about new ways of being while also seeing how similar we all can be. But that’s an exploration for another time.

    For now, I’m focused on that sentiment of the beauty of sharing truth and the connection that doing so brings.