A Comedy of (Slight) Errors

November 4, 2017

I’m late with my posts but hey, as long as it’s in chronological order who cares right?! right.

I have a funny story to recount from my day! This anecdote stars my SuperMom and me in a random, comical confusion of sorts.

MORAL OF THE DAY: Misunderstandings can never be blamed on one person. A communication gap is a lot like clapping. Both sides need to put in equal and opposite effort for the desired result. In fact, the person who talks needs to be very clear, making sure their thoughts are being formed into words, while the person listening also needs to consciously hear without putting their own interpretation into it. A gap grows when a speaker cannot put his or her ideas into words, and a listener cannot understand what he or she hears.

Since I started this Maun, I’ve been relying on hand signals and my version of sign language to communicate with my family. [Actually, only SuperMom can understand what I’m trying to get across, and she has to translate for my dad and everyone else, who just frown and give me blank stares. Let’s hope they get better at playing Dumb Charades or decipher my coded signs before the month ends!]

Anyway, this morning marked my mom and my first epic fail….. Thankfully, the misunderstanding was nothing serious, just funny from my point of view. As I was leaving the house to soak up my daily dose of Vitamin D this morning, I signalled SuperMom the following:

What I mimed:

SAY — HIM — I (my) — BATHROOM — NO — I — SHOWER — LATER

She nodded her understanding, and I left. (Normally SuperMom verbally repeats what I’ve mimed to her so that I can confirm she understood correctly, but this time we somehow forgot that step.) So, what did my hand signals mean? Well, isn’t it obvious – I said “tell him (the cleaning guy) to not do my bathroom because I’m going to shower when I get back.”

I soon returned, covered in beads of sweat and wanting to jump straight into a cold shower. Only… it was being cleaned. Did SuperMom forget to give the cleaner my message? I went in search of SuperMom to find out what happened. That’s when I realized my sign language got lost somewhere in translation.

Bottom line, SuperMom interpreted my signals to mean:

What she (mis)understood:

‘tell him to clean my bathroom because I’m not going to shower today.’

Ummm…. oops? Honest misinterpretation right?? Funnily enough, the slight difference between what I said, and what she (mis)heard, is a completely understandable situation.

Had I originally mimed what she thought I mimed, then my hand movements would have looked more like this: “SAY — HIM — CLEAN — I (my) — BATHROOM — (pause) — I — NO — SHOWER — NOW.”

Not much difference right?! The difference in meaning is so minuscule, that it could easily have happened between two speaking voices anywhere. Thus, Day 2 of my vow of silence began with this comedic exchange.

Until next time,

Ciao!

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Hello there!

Exciting news! I’ve decided (on a bit of a whim) to take a vow of silence (also called Maun Vrat) for the month of November. Depending on how I get on after 30 days, I might extend my vow! I’m hoping to document some of my insights from my journey here on the blog too, so keep checking back for more!

Since my mind is exhausted and now blank after a full day of introspection, relaxation, and settling into a new routine, I’ll just get down to some basic Q&A for today.

Enjoy!~

What’s a vow of silence?

A vow of silence is when you commit to not using your voice for a set period of time. Whether it’s an hour or a lifetime of silence, you can make up your rules. Vows of silence can be private (silent vacations, silent retreats) or public (while going about your daily routine). A vow of silence can be undertaken for religious, spiritual, and even political reasons. It is also known as Maun Vrat (Mauna Vrata in Sanskrit) or simply Maun (meaning silence) in many Indian religious traditions.

My explanation is rather elementary, simply because there are so many ways to undertake a vow of silence. In terms of complexity and variety, there is a lot left unsaid still, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

So what kind of Maun are you doing?

Glad you asked. I have previous experience with religious (Jain) Maun Vrats, but decided to take a public, non-religious, and more spiritual vow that does not focus on not speaking or talking at all, but rather targets increased awareness and presence of mind. Therefore, I’ve given myself the freedom to communicate in any way I see fit as long as it doesn’t use my vocal cords.

In the past, my religious Maun Vrats have meant I abstain from any form of communication with others. No making noises, sign language, hand gestures, facial expressions, and no writing/reading/singing/talking. This means practitioners cannot use cell phones, and technically, cannot write, read, or type. This cuts a person off from the rest of the world because sending emails, writing journals, making blog posts, sending texts, and attending to social media are all distractions from looking inwards to hear your inner voice and meditate upon your thoughts and consciousness.

While I enjoy these religious experiences a lot, what I want for myself right now, in 2017, cannot be fulfilled under the Jain guidelines for vows of silence. Instead, I’m interested in noting down the thoughts I have while I’m having them, and making this experience about learning to listen, increase one’s spiritual awareness, and be more in-tune with myself and who I am and who I want to be.

When do you start?

Actually, I started at the stroke of midnight on November 1st (Indian standard time). So today was my first day on my vow!

How did Day 1 go?

Surprisingly well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to prepare for this month on Halloween – that would be yesterday. I notified friends, family, co-workers, and people I communicate with on a daily basis. I also sat down and tried to hash out the terms and conditions I’ll be following while I’m on my Maun Vrat. Made good headway today, but definitely hoped not talking would save me energy, and that I could use that surplus elsewhere.

Any new insights you’d like to share?

I’ve been thinking and note-taking a bunch of points in my little notebook today. But I have made one important, and insightful decision today.

THIS VOW IS ALREADY A SUCCESS, WITH NO CHANCE OF FAILURE. WHATEVER HAPPENS, I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY OR BLAME MYSELF FOR ‘NOT DOING ENOUGH.’

Taking this decision automatically made me feel happier, more relaxed, and put my mind at ease. I’m a master of self-deprecating humour, and more often than not, find myself the butt of most of my own jokes (where others will laugh at my expense). Alongside this, I also have unrealistic expectations of myself, which I can rarely ever live up to.

I’m a recovering perfectionist with the tendency to be overly critical of my own merits or successes. By choosing to not feel guilty, or be too hard on myself, during my whole Maun Vrat was both liberating and enlightening. May it propel me forward to strengthen my skills and convince me of my talents.

So how long is your vow of silence?

Because my decision to do the vow of silence was only decided one day in advance, I haven’t fixed on a length or duration for my vow. It will be anywhere in the vicinity of one month, going up to 12 months. But to play it safe right now, let’s say my vow of silence will be for the month of November 🙂

Why 30 days? and why now?

Well, as soon as we enter October and approach November, I always get a bit anxious. Somehow, this NaNoWriMo phenomenon makes me think of the month of November as a sort of free-for-all Lent (where I need to make a resolution and stick to it). With such strong feelings associated with the eleventh month of the year, I decided November first as initial day.

I could have waited to start on new year’s day or any other important day I wanted, but the only thing going through my head was…. why wait? If you know you’re going to do it anyway, then why waste time. Just jump right in. And so I have!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

(Some Afterthoughts)

Wow, it’s been ages since I wrote my last blog post! But here I am, and I did it. I’m not going to make any excuses or apologize for my absence.  I’m relieved to say my health and mood are much better now. But what does my mood have to do with blogging, you may wonder? Well, I’ve noticed that I tend to write and blog under three conditions:

[1.] when I’m under loads of stress,
[2] when I commit myself to doing a challenge, or
[3.] when I’m feeling particularly depressed/angry and need to get it off my chest.

So what does this mean? It means that when I’m happy, content, and feeling calm, it never crosses my mind to write anything. This is why I’m gonna keep this journey guilt-free and not challenge myself to post x times a week during this personal time.

Peace out everyone!

Writing Piece: Simplicity

November 22, 2015

**I found this little gem I wrote as a sophomore in high school and it resonates with who I am and want to be. Although my life is nowhere as carefree as it was back then, I think the true goal of “voluntary simplicity” is a high and virtuous art of living!**


Simplicity

My life is simpler than most people would prefer.  People would say I am very lazy, but it just turns out that I like to sit around at home doing what I call “nothing” all day.  My hobbies and routine fit perfectly with my way of life as well.  I am not in the least fond of shopping, computers, using cell phones, etc… and would rather spend that time watching television, reading books, eating, and sleeping.  I prefer to have as much free time as possible, instead of cluttering my schedule with classes one after the other.  As I become stressed very easily, I find no need to strain myself with things that don’t interest me.

I strongly believe that one’s lifestyle is heavily dependent on how he is raised in his childhood.  Coincidentally for me, my life has never consisted of too much busyness. As a child, my parents encouraged me to take a few classes in Japan and New York but they never interfered with my daily life.  Now, I don’t take any classes, other than joining a few after-school clubs.

I have stayed at relatives’ houses over a period of time on numerous occasions and I find their lives too fast for me.  My cousins have to run from one place to another, and literally fall asleep before their head even touch the pillow because they are so exhausted from the day.  I quickly become worried for most of the day for no apparent reason and am aggravated when put into this atmosphere.  Being a perfectionist, I find myself troubled about everything as it feels like I have no time to breathe once in-between activities.

If someone were to ask if my life could be any simpler, my answer would be absolutely not.  However, if asked what I could do to less simplify my life, I wouldn’t mind taking a few classed, the way I did several years ago, but nothing more.  I like the way my like has shaped up and find no reason to burden myself with clutter so early in life, as I will have to go through more hardships in college and later on in life.  Some people choose to adopt the lifestyle of “voluntary simplicity” and I am one of them.

The one biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get into the habit of treating yourself when you feel stressed out! We often forget ourselves in our busy routines, and this is your body’s way of saying that it needs care and pampering too!

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Everyone has days or moments in their day when they just want to throw their hands up and just stop everything because life’s getting a tad too stressful. Or you are so mentally burdened it’s time to force relaxation. Either way, the usual tips given – to eat healthy, sleep enough, exercise regularly, meditate, and take time out for yourself – can all start to seem like a chore when you’ve reached your breaking point.

Either way, give yourself at least an hour or to relax and calm down. Over the years, I’ve come up with my own toolbox of things I can do to give myself an enforced time-out. Everyone’s toolbox will be a bit different, as it depends on what you consider work and play – for example, walking doesn’t help me clear my head so I don’t do it!


The following Top 10 quick pick-me-ups are quite helpful stress busters. Make your own Top 10 activities toolbox that can be your go-to whenever the next stress bomb hits too!

1) Take a Hot Shower

Other people walk to clear their heads, I shower. There is something about standing under a hot jet stream of water that dissolves all my stress. I’ve had days when I take 3-4 showers a day just to wipe my mind blank!

2) Take a Nap

I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Especially when I’m trying to write a 5000 word essay the night before my assignments due (procrastination queen) or after big fights or particularly bad depressive episodes. As long as you’re not an insomniac, and even if you’ve had enough sleep during the night, just turn the lights off, snuggle under your covers, and close your eyes. I find these naps refreshing and the pressures of the day don’t look so scary when I  open my eyes again.

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3) Get a Haircut

I’ve mentioned this in yesterday’s post as well, but going and getting a haircut or highlights  is a great stress buster. You can’t do this activity too often as it can become a very expensive endeavor (plus you only have a certain amount of hair to play with), but I’ve been known to use this method about 2 to 3 times a year.

4) Do a Color-by-Numbers

The mechanical and rote action involved in coloring needs your full attention and it stops you from thinking about other things. I see it as a form of active meditation. I learned to do this from my friend in Chicago. We’d have coloring parties when the tension of being grad students was crushing us!

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5) Watch a Movie

I go to the cinema (or nearby discount theater) to watch my movies but you can just as easily watch them at home too! Just make sure it’s not a heavy and serious film. I get wrapped up in watching and it takes my mind off….well, me. Sappy tearjerkers are a bonus.

6) Get a Face Massage

Massage-lovers will love this one! Any kind of massage is good because they are such a treat, but I’ve found that the following areas often feel the best when I’m particularly stressed out: face, head, arms, and hands. Do it yourself, find a professional, or teach your spouse/partner!

7) Do a Jigsaw Puzzle

For jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts like myself, I’d definitely recommend this method of relieving stress. I have one or two easy puzzles in my house that I love to make when I’m stressed. I made sure they’re small enough that I can complete them in one sitting (my beach puzzle is 500 pieces and takes me 2 hours flat to complete). I never choose a puzzle I’ve never done before, it’s in the ‘familiar’ that relief and comfort lies. Again, it has to do with making the movement as rote and mechanical as possible to produce the effects of meditation. If I’m still not completely de-stressed by the time I finish, it’s not uncommon for me to disassemble the puzzle and start over again. Sometimes I’ll feel better even if the puzzle’s not complete, and I just put it back into the box ready for another ‘rainy day’.

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8) Have a Cry

Again, I’ve used this therapeutic tactic for as long as I can remember. When things get overwhelming, just have a cry and you tend to feel better afterwards. If you’re having trouble crying to the point of relief, can I suggest looking at your red, blotchy face in the mirror – it’s bound to bring on a fresh wave of tears!

9) Eat a Take-Away Meal

Delivery doesn’t do it for me because it involves interacting with the delivery guy/gal too long. Instead, I walk to a nearby restaurant that serves yummy food, order, pay, get some other nibbles at the corner grocery store, pick up the food, and head straight home. You don’t have to worry about cooking, and eating great food can be your treat for feeling so stressed.

10) Text your Friends

Sometimes it’s nice to talk to friends and partners face to face too (they are natural pick-me-ups), but that can seem like too much work at times. Sometimes you just want to scream or punch a pillow and aren’t ready to talk about it yet. A simple, one-sided text full of frustration and angst is enough to make me feel better. Even if they don’t reply for a few hours, just sending it seems to soften the ball of stress within me. I have a handful of friends who I will write to, at any time of day or night (and always out of the blue), with a short burst of “I’m going crazy!” or “why is life so hard :'(” or something similar. They have come to expect it from time to time, and send their own versions of similar outbursts when they are feeling overwhelmed as well. There is no need for explanation. If you don’t do this already, get into the habit! And honestly – that’s what friends are for!

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Happy November to the blogosphere!

I’ve missed another year of Halloween festivities and now its on to NaNoWriMo month. Although I’d secretly love to write a novel or have my own love story written down before I croak, it’s definitely not on my list of priorities 2015. Indeed there are lots of plans and ideas I have brewing for the future that will make their appearances throughout the next round of blog posts, but all of them have one thing in common – an active mind.

It’s been roughly 3 years since I updated this blog. Only seems like yesterday I was hunched over my laptop with worry crinkles on my forehead wondering what I should post next…alas! Suffices to say, I’ve been busy with a spectrum of emotions and milestones that make up my so-called life. So I’m not regretting letting my blogging duties slack. In my 3 hiatus, I’ve spent a major part of it as a graduate student at the University of Chicago for another Social Science MA (as mentioned in earlier posts here and here) which I struggled with from Day 1. In fact, I’m still struggling to finish up, and ended up returning home after trying my hand at working part-time out there in the big bad world. After that, I spent a considerable amount of time recovering from a cocktail of unhappiness, stress, and exhaustion, and spent months in Japan reacquainting myself with my childhood home while caring for an ailing grandparent.  I’ve managed to take up many new hobbies in this last six months, surprising even myself as I didn’t think I had a creative bone in my body, and even managed to squeeze in some time for self-discovery via a meditation retreat!

Wish Manjree Luck 2015

So now, with only a couple months before we ring in the new year, and using the excuse of NaNoWriMo to keep me motivated, I’ve decided to activate my charcoal-like mind to challenge myself to write at least a post a day for all of November 2015. I know you’re technically supposed to write blogs to help people and tell them what to do (or at least that’s what successful bloggers advise) but for me its more a mental exercise for me to stay on top of my game. Blogging, I find, involves a lot of time, effort, and hard work. It is a daily battle to come up with something that can pass as acceptable for viewage by thousands of unknown people out there… if you know what I mean!

So it’s my aim this month (November 1st – 30th 2015) to get back into writing, reading, and thinking creatively. What’s important here is that I do this alongside all the other responsibilities and goals I’ve got lined up already. A cousin’s wedding to attend at the end of November, planning where to go in December, continue to feed my Asian drama addiction, keeping my DIY artsy crafty projects going, and doing market research and gaining the skills and knowledge base to start my own business sometime early next year! And of course, last but definitely not least, I’m trying to be happy, stay connected, live healthy, exercise, and eat healthy.

All right… it’s time to get a’writing! Wish me luck on my 30-day challenge!!

~M

Hi Everyone!

I think it’s getting to be nearly 2 months since I’ve written anything on here, and boy has it been a crazy and eventful 2 months! I’m getting ready to go to Chicago in a few weeks so that I can start my ‘MA Program in the Social Sciences’ which could more easily be described as my second MA in Anthropology and hopefully some History mixed in. So the countdown has officially begun. There is a lot more preparation to do before I make the big move, like finding a place to live (!) but hopefully luck hasn’t left me and it’ll all work out in the end.

Part of the prep of leaving home has been to help my mom (whose birthday it was today coincidently – Happy Birthday Maa!!) make some room in the house by getting rid of years and years of paperwork that I’ve hoarded since my high school days (eek!). So we’ve just got suitcases full and my cupboards are overflowing with clothes and lots of memorable junk, so the spring cleaning for Manjree has commenced. Boo-ya!

Anyway, so the good news is, while I was rummaging through stacks of projects and lecture notes, I found my ‘MEMORY PILE’ – which is literally a pile of poems, stories, essays, etc… that I’m really proud of from the olden days – which means I’ll have more to post on here soon. I thought I’d lost it, and it majorly sucked because nothing was saved on my computer since my last one unexpectedly died years ago. But thank god I’ve found it now and I’m not letting it out of my sight anymore… So a big yay and thumbs up!

I’m excited to share my writings with you…keep an eye open for upcoming posts!

~ Manjree

Non-Eatable Foods

June 7, 2012

I found this post really interesting while still being informative. It’s a take on everyday life that not many people care to discuss (or divulge) but is perfectly natural to do.

Moment Matters

We are adults now, so we can eat balloons whenever we want.

I swallowed a coin. It is not accidental but I really put it into my mouth and sipped every irony taste of it. It is delicious; sometimes it could be a substitute to candies if you ran out of it.

The coin traveled down to my insides but got tucked within my esophagus, and that wasn’t a good feeling. I fought against my involuntary muscles to free it, but to no avail. Quickly, my brother handed me a banana, ate a slab of it but before taking it in, my brother slammed my back and I vomited it all, including the coin. Aaah, I’m amazed it worked!

My friend used to eat dog food, but he thought it was biscuits for humans. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t know the difference and it tastes alright. Another friend of mine loved…

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