Inspiration, LIfe

Leibster Award

The lovely, very young Lauren Geatches from loquacious. nominated me for the Leibster Award.

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Well not nominated, exactly. She asked and I volunteered on this very warm, welcoming & supportive group of bloggers hosted by Blog Society on FB.  You can check out their FB page and ask to become a member if you are into blogging.

A girl after my heart I have to say after reading her blog “Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work”. 

Yep. And I have a “hate” relationship with running too 🙂

I had not heard of this award until now and more than happy to go with the rules that have been passed on!!!

The first one being, to find 11 other bloggers to nominate. I am supposed to check if they have less than 200 followers. That one, I break. I don’t know. These are the ones I enjoyed reading and am very likely to follow!

A very compelling title seduced me to the blog The Story of Telling and found myself purchasing the very accessible “Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to your Customers” by Bernadett Jiwa.

Tess Barlett who writes love letters that get into your soul.

Dhanya who seduces me into thinking I too can cook.

Mama Said who in a heartbeat took my back to my first days as a mum.

Starlight Mummy how can women do it all!!!

And another gorgeous working mum at Girl in the PJs

And I know why I go to Pilates because of a thousand times too short

Am envious of Andrea’s farm. Check out her travel stories at The Pineapple Cake

Why I am a little crazy with Natalie over at Our Parallel Connection

I wanna go road tripping with Julie and become a nomad-nester

Slow down with Bex and her breathtakingly poetic pictures at Cup of Tea & Bex

I am meant to reveal 11 random facts about myself, so here it goes…

  1. I was born in Chandigarh, just because my Mum went to her parents home for her first child!
  2. I am afraid of swimming in the ocean or those beautiful water pools in the wilderness
  3. I cannot cook to save my life. Or my pans
  4. I get bored easily
  5. When I quit my job in India to come to Australia, my boss gave me a book called “Hope for the Flowers” . I still read it.
  6. I like the idea of going on big long walks and camping. And am terrified of the creatures in the wild!
  7. I enjoy food and am a terrible cook
  8. I love gardening and can kill almost anything
  9. I love being surrounded by beauty but just CANNOT keep my clothes “neatly” folded. I pick up clothes from the floor only because I like being surrounded by beauty
  10. I enjoy pampering
  11. I am wickedly naughty and a rule breaker.

Here are the simple rules of the Leibster Award:

  • Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers. ( I broke that rule!!)
  • Acknowledge and link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you has listed. Here are mine
  1. Where is your favourite place to write? In my studio, where I can look out into the gum trees and listen to the birds flying by.
  2. Which 3 people, alive or dead, would you want to invite to dinner? Pierce Brosnan. Meryl Streep. My Dad. They are all alive.
  3. How did you come up with the name of your blog and what does it mean to you? (double question – I’m sneaky!) Stuff from the heart. I think I was just being lazy. And being me.
  4. What are your personal or creative resolutions or goals for 2015? Balance. I want to be able to step onto the balcony and back into the dance, several times a day.
  5. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be? Salted Caramel. With ice cream.
  6. Who or what inspires you? Nature
  7. What is your best piece of advice for life? Be yourself
  8. What are five words to best describe your blog? Honest. Real. Playful. Plenty said!
  9. If you could donate all your money to a single charity, which would it be? End Poverty
  10. What is an embarrassing fact about you or your most annoying habit? Farting at night
  11. If you had to say goodbye to your sight or your hearing, which would you choose to keep, and why? Hearing. I am an introvert anyway and I love to see things.
  • Ask 11 questions you would like your nominees to answer – here are mine:
  1. What makes you happy?
  2. What makes you sad?
  3. What makes you mad?
  4. What makes you afraid?
  5. What is your wildest dream?
  6. What is the one thing you cannot do without?
  7. If you knew today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
  8. What would be the naughtiest thing you would do?
  9. What rule do you want to break and have not?
  10. What is the one thing you regret not doing?
  11. What is the one thing you regret doing?

 

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Inspiration, LIfe, Social Agenda

Happiness is overrated. Want to know why?

What would you say if a child came up to you looking sad?

You will reach out to comfort them. Instinctively, we know it is “not ok” to feel sad. It is kinda hardwired. I bet most of us have been conditioned to believe that feelings such as anger, sadness, and frustration are “not ok”.

And I will admit that I have been quite taken by “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

For a long time.

And this is what I have learnt.

Fear is a faithful friend. It is always with us. It is what keeps us safe. It will never go away. It is also the reason we may get angry, sad or frustrated. So if I am really mad, I know that something important to me has been taken away from me and I fear that I will not get it back.

Fear serves another purpose that is hugely powerful. I believe fear is omnipresent so we can fly.

Remember when you got that really BIG WILD idea?  Fear was probably right beside you, saying…

“Oh, now that is stupid.”

“You will never be able to pull that off”

“People will laugh at you.”

Know that thought? And I am sure you would have learnt/ read that we could just replace that with “I can do it”.

There is another way. Which is to say, “yeah, it does sound stupid. I may not be able to pull it off. And yes, I may fall flat on my face.” So who can I talk to about this idea? How can I take this forward?

And the most important question to ask yourself is “Why is this idea important to me?” “What about this idea is getting me so excited?”

The answer to that question is the secret held deep inside you that drives everything you do, the choices you make and is that light that guides you telling you what “feels” right and what “feels” wrong.

It is your closest friend. The one you sit beside when they are sad. Just sit. Listen. Hold hands. Treat your fears as your friend. They are.

When you feel sad, mad or just plain frustrated, imagine your friend has arrived. Do what you would do with a friend. Sit with them. Listen. Let go of your judgment for a bit. Go outdoors. And wait until your heart opens up and you understand why it is.

On the Beach 1

On the Beach 2

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Social Agenda

Shopping, Farmers, Local, Artisans… crazy foolish people striving for a better world

To live with an open heart… like a child. Unfettered. Simply curious. Innocent. And compassionate.

Well that bit, maybe not always 🙂

We are a crazy bunch. Some of us that is.

As a HR Director, I was constantly tracking for what is out there…. tripping with excitement about some of the wonderful stuff people were experimenting with to help people live life large. Be in tune with what they value. And partner with leaders and teams to do stuff that will create the environment for people to do their best work.

I loved it. I was also restless. Wondering what else was out there.

I fell into making soap a year or so ago…. and I think I keep falling deeper because it allows me to be curious. It makes me think about what I buy, from whom and when.

So if I was to Get off the dance floor for a bit, and be an observer, what would I see?

I would see me getting a bit tired of large organisations like J&J, P&G, Unilever seduce us into buying stuff with the promise of whatever it is that was seductive.

I would look at the guy standing at his stall in my local markets. Like, I would slow down, and linger. Appreciate the work that went into getting up early in the morning loading the car and putting their soul into making their space look inviting. They are just plants. These are the ones though that even I cannot kill.

This I know to be true.

Orchids from marketSucculents from markets2

I would watch myself spending a bit more time with stall holders; getting to know them. Just curious. How do you make this. What is it about and then get pulled into their world for just a bit… Like Lindy Lawler who makes these beautiful pieces and tells a beautiful story that I can never say the same way. All I know is that there is a sense of abundance that is celebrated through her work.

Jasmine

Sometimes though, I have to get a few things from a far away land. Ghana is where my Shea Butter comes from. Kwabena, who is the Managing Director of the company based in Adelaide, works with women’s co-operatives that work in the Zabzugu – Tatale district in Tamale located in the Northern part of Ghana. Traditionally it has been the women who go and pluck or gather the shea nuts. The women sometimes have to travel as far as 17 kilometres on foot and carry bags in excess of 40kgs on the heads whilst carrying their children on their backs.

Shea

It is the same story with Neem Oil, where my dear friend introduced me to Agrocel, an organisation that works with the farmers to get us beautiful cold pressed Neem.

So here I am. Grateful to be surrounded by many many people who love me. Doing stuff that I am not ashamed of saying that I am not an expert in the domain. That I am learning. Having fun. And maybe, bringing some abundance into a few moments when people read the stuff I write or buy something to pamper themselves or a dear one.

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Inspiration, LIfe

Call me Stupid

It was about 14 years ago that we decided to make the move from Vadodara, a small city in India to Sydney. I was HR Manager with a very large engineering conglomerate. It was a great job, one where the VP of the business was continuously challenging me to do stuff way beyond my comfort zone. When I told him I was going to Australia his response was typical. “you need to get your head checked”.

And he gave me this book called Hope for the Flowers. It is about the foolish caterpillar who keeps “leaving” what he is doing in search for “what else is out there”…

it is getting dull

and then he realises he needs to hang upside down for a while. And then he will become a butterfly and fly.

Ahem. I am still waiting 🙂

And I wonder what I will find.

I know no different. I quit working a year or so ago. “It was getting dull”. I felt like I was missing out on life. The life that was possible.

I don’t know that it was conscious at the time that I was taking on the role of a change agent… helping the management team work through a request from our transgender employee who wanted to use the female toilets in our offices. In my head it was simple. Be honest. It is a legitimate request.

I managed a big move of our offices from a dingy stuffy building to an open beautiful building… more space, more meeting areas, plenty of parking.. I thought working through the issues is the way forward. It was tough moving forward surrounded by a couple of men who wanted to be heroes. I didn’t know how to play power games. The move which could have been a celebration felt like a battlefield.

These men were hugely successful in their careers. And here is this midget saying lets invest in becoming effective leaders. “What?” Start with those folks in the middle first. We talked about having a great culture. How about we measure whether our people are engaged? “Convince everyone else, and then I am on board” says my boss.

We got there. We measured engagement. We talked about it. We got people to understand it, take action and measure again. And we got traction. We started investing in our leaders. And yes, the executive team got on board. And we had the most amazing conference where the executive team participated in a world cafe where the entire organisation got talking about how we will get to where we wanting to get to.

“It was getting dull”.

So I quit… that was 11 years later. “What would it be like in a Not For Profit Organisation”… that is what I wanted. Now who would want me? “I was too corporate and would not want to get my hands dirty”… Someone was game. Thank you!!! So I had this awesome short term job where I become acquainted with an organisation that works on the toughest social agendas with no security of income, reliant on government funding on a short term basis and quickly realised that there is plenty to do in setting up and plenty more that someone else could do much better than me.

So another corporate job. They measured engagement and had not looked at the results. So that was easy. Lets understand this, act on it, measure it again. Lets invest in ourselves for a bit too. “You are asking us to do a leadership program?” “We have done plenty of those. I don’t want to go into another one and sing.”

And we did. There was no singing. There was plenty of real talking. A year or so in … “This is unlike any program I have done….”

“It is getting dull”.

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Soaps, Social Agenda

Craftmanship – Creative Confident Explosive

I continue to be astounded by the craftsmanship that is so alive and thriving in this day and age… surrounded by appliances, machines and all things that automate our lives to make it easier and at the other end you find people painstakingly sewing a beautiful dress for a two year old…. or making a terrarium in a tiny glass jar that becomes a beautiful pendant.

My hubby is so eager and enthusiastic whenever I describe to him these little timber trays I have imagined I must have to present my soaps.

NOT.

So here, in Vadodara, I asked my Dad two days ago if there is a carpenter near by who would make me these trays. And I was really surprised when he said yes.

We walked down to this humble shop 300 meters down from our home.

I was looking around as we walked and noticed this broken clay pot on the road ….

Having grown up in India, I am very familiar with the clay pot that is in many households, even rich ones. It keeps the water cool and I think it is healthy too. The clay would act as a natural filter I imagine.

I notice it with fresh eyes now. Perfectly formed, impossibly thin. Some one has made millions of these possibly not pausing to recognise the talent he or she has…
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At the shop, we are describing what we want… we choose teak and I give the dimensions… Dad kept challenging them and insisted that we see some samples before commissioning 30 pieces. “Bring the soap here, so we can test it. ”

Clearly, my father has a lot of faith in my ability to measure 😉

Back home, I give the soap to Dad. He looks at it. He has his feet up on the sofa. After a while he says, “Yes, these dimensions will work”.

Ahem. It is a new found skill after all, so I guess the incredulous realisation that I can measure accurately is well founded!!!

I walked down to the shop later that afternoon to see the two prototypes Mr Smartie created for me. He was so excited to see me… “here they are”, grinning from ear to ear.

I loved them. I had my iPhone with me because I wanted some pics.
“Can I take a pic of you to share the story?”
“No” he says. “Why would you want that?” ”
Can I just take one of your hands while you are working on these?”
“No. You might cut off my hands then, like the people who worked on the Taj Mahal”.

I burst out laughing. “Do I look like Aurangzeb!!?” I retorted, laughing!

It wasn’t even Aurangzeb.. I forget the history lesson 😉

Any way, no photos of the craftsman then.

I do have photos of the trays and of course I had to see how these looked with soaps in them.

I took those along to Mr Smartie so he could see what he has created….

“Ah, these are soaps?”
“Yes”
“And you make them?”
“Yes”
“How?”
“I take some milk, add lye, mix it all up with oils and voila!”
“And you send them overseas?”
“No, I make them overseas.”
“How much do they cost?”
“I will bring you one. I have one of these – pointing to the clay & loofah one.”
“Yes, that is the nicer one.”
“Bring two” This was a guy standing next to Mr Smartie.
“We will try them and see how they are” … unabashedly mimicking a good lather up with the soap!
Yes, Sir

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Uncategorized

Why Women Can’t Have it all

There were many heart tugs as I was listening to the utterly gorgeous Indra Nooyi talk about why women can’t have it all.

I agree. 

And I wondered why I do.

For me, it was because I wanted more. Always. 

When my Aditya, my first born came into our lives, I was in a small town called Vadodara after a business degree from one of the most prestigious business schools in India in the field of Human Resources. In Vadodara they had not heard of XLRI and I was on a pay that was a fourth of what I was earning in my first job which was based in New Delhi. Even so, I wanted to work. And when Aditya was all of 7 months old, I went to work as a “Management Trainee” (after three years under my belt). And I remember coming home and breastfeeding practically “on demand” through the night because I could not express milk!!! I missed what would have been happening through the day and as soon as I came home, there were a million questions… “what did he eat, what did he do, what did I miss”. And I wanted to be in both places!

I missed being there when he bumped his forehead and had to get stitches. 

And then, Sanj came along. I was not there when she casually walked into our underground water tank and nearly drowned. Of course I was a couple of times when she did something similar right under our eyes, but that does not matter. 

I remember getting stressed because my Dad who was visiting would sit patiently at the table with a bowl of cereal because I asked him not to nag me in the morning. He sat there not saying a word, looking down, hoping I would snatch a few mouthfuls before running out of the door. And now, I find myself asking my grown kids if they have had breakfast. 

I missed being able to joyfully run into the open arms of Sanj who would come racing down when she heard the sound of my car drive up back home, in the dark winter nights of Sydney. “Oh, I just want a moment to breathe”… was my head. And I remember how Sanj was doing multiple cartwheels in our home and calling me “a tired little monkey” as I sat on the couch wondering how much more tired I could feel!

I miss the calls for “can you tuck me in and read me a story”… really, gosh you are 13 Aditya. Yes mum, “it is not like you are home to make a snack when I come back from school” he says with a twinkle in his eyes. “I will tell your friends you want a tuck in when you are 13”. Quiet. Emotional Blackmail never worked in my house. I would beg them to come to the beach with us on the weekends, so we could get some quiet together time.

“No Mum”.

“Please, for my sake”.

“No Mum, no emotional blackmail.”

And of course, hubby dear always wanted sex! Really?

My fondest memory is of my son utterly traumatized the day I said I will stop washing his clothes. I found myself on the weekend running through loads of washing and then nagging both kids to put away the clothes I had washed.(And folded).  It occured to me that I want to enjoy my kids, so let’s remove the cause of the nagging, shall  we!

So my stoic resolution kept getting stronger as the pile of clothes grew taller and I had to navigate Mt Everest to go give my kids a morning hug. I loved it. It was fun. 

Work always gave me a high. And was also always a source of nervous, aggressive energy. I remember presenting a case for investing in Leadership and slowing watching people shift, move, being thankful for the experience. I wanted desperately to bring World Cafe into the organisation to prepare our people for transformational changes in the industry and to get them excited about what the future has to offer as opposed to fearful of change… it was big, exciting and I knew exactly how it would play out… so stayed on my bandwagon, getting fretful and frustrated with all the concerns being expressed around the exec table… short of the much needed compassion and belief that may have made the internal stakeholder management so much nicer for everyone. On the day, it was as though time stood still and it was magic as people flowed in and out … the palpable energy in the room and the genuine, heartfelt thank you from my Manager at the time, the MD…and the unending comments after about how powerful the experience was.

And it is at work that I also met some wonderful people. People who I have looked at as mentors, friends, fellow journey people. 

Where I learnt to stay a bit. Linger. Like when Sanj crawled into my bed and I was thinking I have to get out and shower and run to work. I just stayed. Felt the warmth of the hug. And in a moment, she left. And slowly, I got out of bed, went into the shower, replenished.

And it continues on … the constant search for more. I think I learnt it from my father… no fear of consequences. High need for change. Very little ambition. A desire to explore the world. Even if it is only from my armchair!

I have hope. I hope that in India, over the next two weeks I find progress. I can connect to the strong, smart women who are creating and leading change… the Sarpanch in our villages. The woman who decides to leave an unhappy marriage. The woman who dreams big. 

And I think yes, women can’t have it all. And I say thank you. Because if we thought we did, we would not be who we are… constantly looking and fighting for a bigger, better world. 

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Skin care

Discovery

Yesterday we were scheduled to be at Palm Beach Markets. So all packed up we headed up at around 8 am driving through some rain. We arrived to find there were no stalls at where the market was meant to be. It was cancelled. And of course, I had a number I could have called at 7 am that would have told me just that 😉 Details. So we headed out to the Boathouse, our fave place and indulged our senses… it just has a sense of abundance with loads of flowers hanging out off baskets, vintage baskets and trunks and the most stunning timber pieces. A nice leisurely breakfast, a bunch of the most glorious tulips and roses and we headed back home to the rest of our long weekend. Image Last night I was looking at these tulips and wondering how they hold their own and find their own unique way to stand in the vase even after being cut. They are just gorgeous and I love how each stem takes its own path…. Image So where am I headed with this story? Sometimes you have to wander to get to where you want to be 🙂 A few days ago I finished my 2 kg pack of Raw Honey so needed to get some more. I found Ambrosia at our local farmer’s market and paid $13.50 for a kilo. Image   I also wanted some bee pollen, royal jelly and bee propolis to add these to my Shea Butter & Coconut Oil… create some magic, shall we? I headed down to GoVita where I found this same Ambrosia Organic Honey for $19.50. Right next to the Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen etc… And decided to look around a bit. The prices of Royal Jelly and the Bee Propolis vary from about $7 to about $27! And I found it strange that you can get Honey from the farmers but the the other stuff is “owned” by the pharmaceutical companies. Uh Oh! So we are back to where we began…. Coconut Oil is a miracle, so is Shea… and Honey. If it is raw, organic, it retains all its therapeutic benefits. So I am back here. Banaban   With the simple Coconut Oil, Shea Butter & Raw Honey. I will whip up a very indulgent, deeply nourishing, vitamin bursting goodness hair mask made with just these 🙂

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