Stop blaming your kids… Face facts!

A_frustrated_mom-1Once again, I feel sick as I hear the constant, incessant set of complaints:

  1. Oh God, it’s the kids again!
  2. There’s always so much to do with children!
  3. When will they grow up?
  4. Me-time? Haah!
  5. Couple-time? What’s that again?

Yes, women are often told to not be harsh of themselves. To not judge themselves. To not think they are superwoman and not try to be one either.

But over the years, after rattling off the above statement to many – and even making those my personal mantra, I decided to taka a closer look at the ‘poor-mum-syndrome’. The flip side of trying to take it easy, being non-judgmental of self, and being ‘only human’.  And what I saw was not pleasant.

A blame-game under a garb of lethargy.

This is true not just of some of the mothers, but also many of the dads…

Hear me out – honest to the core of my heart – I totally understand that there can be moments of frustrations, moments of anger – but these are just ‘moments’ – not your entire life with your children! Why let these moments weigh you down?

Why have kids if you don’t want them? For the society? For your family? For yourself? If it’s for the latter – why complain? If for the former – blame yourself! You made a decision that wasn’t right for you. That done – you can’t turn the clock back! The fun of making a baby is short-lived, the fun of bringing up a child can be made into a joyful event for atleast a decade-and-a-half! So, get on with parenting… now you are one – by fluke or for whatever reasons – look at parenthood as a boon and fall in line with trying to make your life livable and lovable around your kids – however irritating you may find them… Once you get to doing that – you will see a positive effect and your ‘normally difficult’ kid will change with you and your attitude.

Nothing in life is predictable, or as per your exact defined design. Then, why the frustration when it comes to your children?

And if frustration is a pretence – for what? To show that you have your hands full? We all do. For whom? The society. Well, it’s an ugly form of pretence – one to loathe actually. Why? To cover up your inadequacies and give a reason to your own shortcomings. Easy blame-game here. Ugly to the core! Face your reality.

Of course, there’s tonnes to do with kids. Enjoy it! Why don the serious ‘grown-up’ garb and make life boring just because you’re the mum or dad. Lighten up!

Blossom with your babies. Trust me – you will never ever have been happier…

Before you know it, they would have grown up and grown into lovely individuals or angry ones – depending on how you’ve shaped them – depending enormously on how your attitude has been towards them – advertently or inadvertently. They are – but a reflection of the way you bring them up.

Couple-time and me-time is something you need to make – with and without kids. So shed that lazy mantel of yours, face facts – do yourself a favour. Accept. Enjoy. And make that positive change within and around you.

Stop blaming your kids for your incompetence to handle your own life!

 

 

 

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Humility reflects glory!

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Ms. Smita Purushottam – the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland.
I must admit, I have interviewed ambassador’s of different countries in the past. Most of them say pretty much the same things. So, I was obviously expecting an interview on similar lines.
But things were different! For one, she was prompt to respond, warm and open, and very encouraging. Read the article that was published in the launch issue of ‘Namaste Switzerland’ at http://www.namasteswitzerland.ch.
Meeting Ms. Purushottam was refreshing change as the lady radiates positivity and enthusiasm and is clearly motivated to make things happen – and happen now!
Take a look at her Facebook post. Humbling, indeed!

Interview with Mrs Aradhna Sethi, who just launched Namaste Switzerland. Congratulations and thanks for promoting Indo-Swiss ties!

Ms. Smita Purushottam: down-to-earth, motivated, realistic – and a true Indian at heart. Her disarming smile and caring manner add charm to her persona. Read on to find out more.
NAMASTESWITZERLAND.CH

Holi Hai!

Whatever the festival – it always brings back the fragrance of the pooja-thali, the mouth-watering that leads me to crave  those delicious sweetmeats and special foods, all those special moments of decorating and cleaning the house inside and out.
This Holi – I think back about the various destinations I’ve called home – and embraced their cultural styles of celebrating Holi.
Share the nostalgia. Read more at: http://namasteswitzerland.ch/2017/02/27/holi-hai/myHoli

Launching another book!

This time, it’s a children book. Available as an EBook for Kindle on Amazon.

cover-final-2It’s all about magic, love, values and trust.

Three children find a swan who is being treated badly.

But did they really find a swan? Or was she someone special.

Read more to find out…

Created for kids, my own children who are 10 and 12 have brought this book to life with their talent for illustrations. Not just that, they have read the story and confirmed that this book is for children aged 3-10. In addition, they took the initiative of marking out words that they had trouble reading or understanding. So I changed them.

I am a proud mum and a happy writer at the moment 🙂

Order your EBook on Amazon right away! And don’t forget to pick up “The Entrepreneur’s Wife – A Survival Guide” for yourself or your loved one!

final changes

 

Catching up with me

It’s been a while now since I blogged. No one to be blamed here, expect I, me and myself. But there have been reasons ranging from busy guest and holiday schedules, to cricked neck, pulled arm, nerve-wrecked leg and more.

However, since I’m back on track now – let me begin with where I left. No – not my book; for you have either read it, or read interviews that I have proudly and humbly included in my blog; or perhaps are not interested. Either way, I’m back in my element at what I love doing – writing. Simply writing: for my pleasure – and hopefully yours.

Living up to my challenge

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-14-09-53Let me start with my 10 days of silence in the attempt to find what lies beyond the realm of interaction, within and perhaps in another realm. 10 days of life as a ‘Grihastha Sanyasini’.

10 days of Vipassana. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could live in isolation – just with myself. I wanted to find out where the mind without any external stimulus would go. I wanted to see if I had the guts to simply be. I was curious.So, off I went…

Day one: anticipation of what lay ahead. I understood the rules: no reading, no writing, no eye contact, no talking, no gestures, no contact of any kind with anyone within or outside of the ‘ashram’ confines. And I’ve been a stickler for rules.

What worried me most – more than being non-interactive and communicative for 10 days was – the wake-up gong at 4am. Not an early bird and a deep sleeper, I was petrified should I miss something. After all, the goal was to gain from this lifestyle to the maximum.

So after my registration on arrival and a soup and bread dinner, I locked my belongings (mobile, notebook, papers and pens, money, train pass, jewellery including the wedding ring and ‘mangalsutra’) in the locker and gave the key to the organisers, who were instructed to not give the key back right till the end of the course and day of departure.

I asked the organiser if I could get a low-tone alarm clock. She refused. I asked if I could be woken up. She said I’d hear the gong. I said, “What if…” She said, “Don’t worry.” I asked if my roommates or the gong lady could please shake me awake. She said, “We can’t allow contact, physical or verbal”. I was desperate and asked if she could drop a glass of water on me every morning. She said, “You’ll wake up. Don’t worry. You have 5 minutes to meet your three roommates. You’re on bed number 24D with one cupboard for your clothes. The silence bell rings in 4 minutes and then you will reach the meditation hall for sitting order allocation.”

I ran to my room, which was on the second floor. A brief hello to everyone was followed with an exchange of names. A quick question from an older roommate: “Would it be okay to have the window open for airing in the early mornings?” (The temperature outside was minus 23). A democratic decision from all roommates: “Yes, but if someone is freezing, the person should walk up and close the window by herself.

Gong! And the ‘Silence’ had begun. The gong would be our instructor and friend for the next 10 days telling us to wake-up, proceed to the meditation hall, head for our meals, proceed for the multiple language pre-recorded sermons, and go to bed.

The only writing that would be visible would be the timetable for the day.

The only interaction: breathing.

The only time to talk (with the meditation in charge) – 5 minutes reserved for those who volunteered to sought advice or ask questions regarding technique.

The only time to walk: anytime other than the 14 hours of meditation each day and the 7 hours of rest phase at night.

The only time to eat: meal times, in the common dining area.

I was sure I’d lose weight – and I did! 3 kilos in 10 days (joy-oh-joy). What do you expect on a breakfast of hot chocolate or tea with fruit or a slice of whole meal bread with peanut butter? I started off with ‘dalia’ – but the gooey mass was too unappetising at 6am – two hours after the morning meditation session.

Lunch was served at 12. Delicious vegetarian food and salads. But with no exercise, you barely have an appetite. Plus you don’t want to stuff yourself and go for a prolonged noon snooze. After a light meal, I’d go out for a walk in a confined area and then snooze for 30 minutes before the next meditation session. After meditation, a dinner of fruits and tea was put out at 5 pm. I couldn’t go beyond a tea and ½ a banana and ½ an apple. Shortly after an hour-long dinner break, we would head into the next slot of meditation until 9; followed by an hour-long recorded sermon. Then it was time to clarify technique or get questions answered and lights off at 9:30pm.

Day two: I thought I’d die of boredom. I mean… how much of the same kind of focused breathing could you deal with? My head hurt. The newness had already ebbed. I wasn’t sure of the number of times I had brought my mind back from nothingness (read snoozing) to thoughts of my life at present and day dreams. I was breathing in a focused way but I had to get myself back every now and then. The headache was killing me already! Migraine. In my 5-minute talk, I asked for medication, only to be refused. This was perhaps a way of cleansing… I was told. A painful way, I thought. I was sick. No eye contact. No interaction. I was shrinking into myself. Into sadness. Into a cold emptiness that I didn’t like.

I had begun to reject the concept of birth and death, of detachment. I was a mother and a wife. I could not come to terms with believing that “nothing was mine. There was no ‘me’. And hence my kids and husband were not mine either… I wanted out!

I contemplated running away. But no – I wasn’t a quitter. I would not be able to face myself in the mirror, in the knowledge that I gave up! That I gave up something I wanted to experience so bad. (Later, I learned that 2 of the 13 women had left without a whisper and 3 had thought of running away.)

No… I told myself. I can’t quit. It was just a matter of a few more days. But how many? I had lost track of time. The days and nights, noon naps and nighttime sleep, breakfasts and dinners, meditative sessions and sermons – all merged into one ritual with no beginning and no end!

I kept sinking into hollowness. My thoughts were disturbing. I couldn’t control anything. The mind was like a monkey that grabbed on to one branch of thought without really leaving the other that seemed to be still  lurking in the head.

Thoughts sneaked in and out of the mind without any indication. It was like intruders trespassing your person!

Past, present, future, reality, dreams, fears, reality, imagination and the surreal – everything merged into one big chaos in my head. There was no focus. Meditation, sleep – it all one big state of stupor – a negative feeling of despair. There were no boundaries – and if there were, I never knew when and why I crossed from one into the other. At times unaware of the crossing over myself! I was tormented. My mind would explode, I thought.

My eyelids turned into a screen. I saw it all. Tom and Jerry cartoons from my childhood to Star-Trek. My grandparents and great grand mother talking to me on one side of the screen and my family coming over to pick me up on another part of the same screen. Yes, it was a very disturbing phase that seemed never-ending.

Finally, the breathing techniques had been developed further. While listening to the sermon, I realised it was day 4. What!

Just day 4. It had seemed like a lifetime! There seemed a little change in the routine. After a while (it may have been a day or, may be,  two) my ‘aha’ moment came along. I felt that my life was beautiful. Everything I questioned in my past unfolded. It seemed like I was living my life from my earliest memories of when I was barely two, to now. Things that I was not aware of, but had questioned came to light. I saw my life like an open book – and realised that every moment was meant to be the way it had been. For, there was no other way. It was destined by my ‘karmas’. I was at peace. No regrets. No questions. My inhibitions, my fears had fallen away or I had seen the reason as to why I had felt the way I did.

I smiled. I felt cheerful and lighter. After what seemed like days, I looked beyond my toes and noticed other life around me – some dragging there feet for they were perhaps fighting there own ghosts and challenges; others sprightly, for they had, perhaps, reached their ‘aha-moment’.

One thing was certain – these days of silence were impacting everyone in some way or the other. From being bored stiff, to combating sedentary stiffness and discomfort, to having a blast – there was a wave of experiences in all attendees.

I now had a spring in my step and looked forward to every next day – as it would be a day closer to getting home to my family. A day completed successfully at the ‘ashram’. I started to meditate better; wake up happier; enjoy my meal and savour the simple flavours; go for my walks, forgoing the 30-minute afternoon nap and sleep deeper.

Finally, it was time to go home.

Talking seemed an effort. Everyone sounded hoarse but eager to share their experiences. The barrier between men and women was removed. I had forgotten in these 10 days that another gender of the human species existed! We could open our lockers and call our loved ones.

Yes. I had successfully gone through 10 days of complete rejection of concepts to partial acceptance of some and complete acceptance of some others. 10 days of fighting off the monotonous depressive sermons, coming to terms with what seemed sensible but far-away concepts and realigning life and thoughts within were now behind me. 10 days of going crazy with my mind monkeying around and groping at memories, imagination, reality and the surreal were a story of the past. This was in February 2016.

My takeaway in one line: This too shall pass

My learning: Be aware and live in the moment to maximise on every experience in life

My perception of Vipassana: Like any other meditation or self-development exercise, this too has its ideology. I don’t think I can accept everything. But what I do choose to accept has certainly added a calmer dimension to my life.

Please feel free to add comments and remarks – but do remember – my views are mine – and in no way do I intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

Danke vielmals!

For featuring me on the front page – and inside!

Being a journalist provides ample excitement. True. But being on the other side of journalism… being covered ‘by’ the media instead of covering ‘for’ the media is a different ball game altogether. It gives you the thrill of accomplishment – however big or small. It leaves you with profound humbleness and gratitude. It gives you an understated gleam of confidence and pride. And it makes you want to scream out “thank you world” off rooftops!

Yes, Aradhna is on a high. Blessed. Humbled.

Have a look :

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Read on!

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Becoming Swiss: a fun ride!

Becoming Swiss – if your partner is a foreigner in the country, too – is far from child’s play. Other than the obvious prerequisites of having a clean criminal record, financially sound background with all dues and taxes paid, insurances in order, etc.; you need to be truly integrated – linguistically and socially. And you need to let that reflect in your behaviour in all ways as possible; be it by immaculately separating your garbage or wishing your neighbours ‘gruezi’, etc.

If you really want the Swiss passport with all your heart and for the right reasons, the journey gets easier as you automatically and seamlessly integrate and ingratiate yourself into your society.

But back to the basics first: If you’ve lived in Switzerland for a period of time (usually 12 years for non-EU and non-Americans, such as yours truly), you can visit your ‘gemeindehaus’ and express your desire to be Swiss. They will then enlist the documents you need to assimilate to begin the process.

Be ready to pay at every level for each document and the tests that follow.

Different cantons, different rules

There are other conditions. For one, each canton has a different set of rules. And within the canton, each ‘gemeinde’ has an additional set of independent criteria. So we were in for a rude shock when we were told to wait another 4 years since our particular ‘gemeinde’ needed us to have lived there not for 2, but for 6 years; irrespective whether or not we had fulfilled the country’s law of having been in Switzerland for 12 years already.

However, rules change within cantons. So within the next 2 years (instead of 4), we were called to apply for the citizenship.

The process described below is not a national standard. The tests are now in the process of being standardised though.

Study time

Weeks after collating and sending in your documents to the cantonal migration department, the ‘gemeinde’ will inform you whether the application and documents has met the prerequisites or if any other information needs to be supplied. Once the formality is complete and everything is in order according to the canton, the ‘gemeinde’ will inform you about the once a week, 6-week-long ‘Gesellschaft’ lessons that are held at the district headquarters. You can also get your dossier with all the information for self-study; but, in my view, the course makes it easier.

In addition to testing your knowledge on ‘Gesellschaft’ which is a crash course on themes including history, geography, democracy and federalism, rights and duties, social security and health issues, the work and education system as well as the local religions followed and holidays, you also have a separate test on language skills. So train well in advance!

The Exam

The ‘Gesellschaft’ examination that lasted an hour and 45 minutes with a 14 pages of multiple choice and other questions in clearly demarcated sections: Country, canton, gemeinde.

It wasn’t a cakewalk.

A week hence, I appeared for another long language exam followed by a 30-minute interview in German and Swiss German.

The politicians step in

If all goes well, and you pass all exams with a minimum of 50%, you and your partner will be invited by the ‘Gemeinderat’ for a personal interview; in a way to get to know why you want to be Swiss, how integrated you feel. Treat it like an emotional test where your motives, lifestyle, the ‘at-home-here’ feelings are rated.

The media steps in

Your intent to become Swiss and the recommendations of the eight municipal politicians are then published in the local newspaper, with the announcement that the residents of the areas are now welcome to vote for or against your citizenship at the next ‘Gemeindeversammlung’/village meeting.

The voting

On the day of the meeting, it’s best for you and your family to be visible and present for it is much appreciated by the residents to see you there in person as they raise their hands for or against you. You may be asked to step out of the meeting during the voting process in certain cases. There may be questions or discussions; but the sailing can be smooth.

And once all goes well, you are announced as a citizen of the village, canton and country. Congratulations are in order.

Now commences the payment of additional bills and the wait for your call to go in for your biometrics and finally the Swiss passport.

A seemingly long process, I believe it is a good one to ensure integration at the political, social and emotional levels. If you have your heart on the right side and want to make this country ‘home’ – however taxing the process may appear to be, you will feel secure and valued at the end of it.

(Original article – later published in Mothering Matters.)

Aradhna Sethi is the author of “The Entrepreneur’s Wife – A Survival Guide”.  Follow her on aradhnasethi.wordpress.com and on Twitter.