Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank You, Michelle: Childless People Have No Stake In The Future

I just finished watching the very moving, very passionate and very emotional DNC speech of Michelle Obama - a mother's plea to vote for the right candidate for the sakes of the children of America. I think the speech was poised to make a double impact - a woman AND a mother making the speech. The metaphor of children that runs through her speech appeals to the deepest emotion in us and only the hard hearted can ignore the strong emotions it evoked. 

She learnt well from the exposure to her husband's speeches in the last 8 years and delivered hers with perfection. She put a great speaker's toolbox to the best use with the right intonation, pauses at the right places, powerful adjectives and an end that can galvanise an entire nation to action! 

Although the applause after her speech hasn't yet died down, I think she put the last nail in the coffin for people with no children. I am not even getting into the recent furore about women who have no children. And the collective voices across the world to support Sania Mirza or Jennifer Aniston's decision of not choosing motherhood...yet! While we stand up against bullying Jennifer, we also shame Theresa May, a senior politician with proven track record, for not having children. She too was reminded that she had no stake in the future and hence wasn't capable of running her country. She was forced to speak about a very private and emotional matter of her maternal status. She was compelled to justify why she cannot be defined by, in Jennifer's words, "(her) maternal status"

But Michelle's appeal to parents at large and reference to herself and Hillary as mothers has yet again proven that childless people continue to be excluded. People who aren't contributing to the future of the country and clearly, have no stake in the future. While her image of a bright future for the children is a great rhetorical device, I strongly believe she just added fuel to the whole parenthood debate. That speech is from one mother appealing to vote for another mother. And I refuse to have anything to do with it since I am not a mother - it doesn’t talk to me. She has just reinforced that only being a parent is worth any while and nothing else is as important. 

She seemed to say - actually pretty much said it - that the future belongs to parents who have the divine duty of nurturing the next generation. I feel like the time of childless people on this planet is over. No matter how much the world erupts in support of people’s rights to decide their parenthood status, there will be these reminders to people with no kids by being left out, of not being the majority (apparently) And when something like this goes down the annals of history from the First Lady of the United States of America, we are far, far away from a time where people can be just people. Not 'parents' and 'not parents'. 

I might be over-reacting. But these are some of the thoughts that I strongly feel after watching the speech. And this post is my way of reaching catharsis and making sense of a melee of emotions - indignation, sadness, sense of injustice - that I've been through watching it. You may choose to agree of disagree but I am hoping, you'll respect my right to express what I feel. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

5 Life Lessons I Learnt From Working Out Regularly

Working out regularly changed my attitude towards life in a lot of ways! (Photo credit
It all started a couple of years ago when people started pointing out - like they usually are the first ones to - that I had become fat and should do something about it. My gym had shut down a few months ago and I hadn't gone back to working out. And dieting is really not my thing. So I guess I had become fat! *eye roll*. So I walked into this fitness centre - they insist that it's not a gym - on the next street from my house (proximity is always my number one criterion) and got details from them. It didn't seem like a bad place since they claimed to have a mix of workouts like Pilates, Yoga, Kettle bell, cross fit, aerobics etc. Variety and group activity come a close second and third when I choose a work out place. I have endured enough of proper gym with a treadmill kind of boring, monotonous workouts and am never go back to it. 

Once I started working out, I was pleasantly surprised. Astounded, is the right word. My stamina started building and so did my muscles!!! I had never dreamt that would ever happen. One hour of workout is still the best time of my day. And the trainers come up with the most ingenious ways to challenge our fitness levels. A glimpse: 

The black ball here is 6 kilos heavy!
I did not intend to share the story earlier but it just all came tumbling out once I started writing. So coming to the real point - I have not just developed stamina but also learnt a few precious life lessons that have stuck:

1. It’s not easyAlmost nothing in life is. Although a set class time makes it easy for me to set an hour out, it's still not a breeze to make time. I pretty much plan my whole day around it. I leave office/meetings to ensure that I am home 30-45 min before class so that I can rest, change and be there on time. Anything that we want to achieve in life needs meticulous planning. You will see results only when you put in consistent effort. I have been lucky to have great trainers who keep me motivated and drive me towards results. Hence, a great support system matters. Find your own. 

2. Regular efforts will yield results: I am an impulsive person and give up easily. But working out over a period of time - and setting up my own company - has given me the much needed lesson in patience and perseverance. Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither will anything else of substance. Over time, I can see a rise in my fitness levels, boost in my self esteem and I feel great about my body. Anything worth it takes time and a lot of work. Giving up is just an easy escape. 

3. Don't compare yourself to others: This is a philosophy I believe in life too. When I joined my class, there were others with better fitness levels and who worked out 6 days a week. I was stuck working out with minimal weights for months and did it 5 days a week (still do). But I figured that's where I started with my stamina and to compete with people who have already been working out is a futile effort. All of us have our own path to our goals. Each is different for each of us. We need to put our strengths to good use and we will hit the heights that others have eventually. Or maybe push the bar even higher with our efforts.

4. You will fail: Or will you? It all depends on how you look at faltering or taking a break. I have traveled, taken vacations, fallen sick in the last 2 years and all this has taken a toll on my workout routine. Faltering is not bad. Never getting back is. Every time there is an interruption, I just resume like before. Even if it's the 7th of July and it's a Thursday, like it happened this month. We all have times when life takes over and we can't get done all that we planned. Take blogging, for instance. I have been off and on on this blog because my work takes a lot of my time. But I do get back and write sometimes. I haven't given up because of my absence and never will. Just show up - that's the key. 

5. Work in progress is permanent: This is personally a very important lesson for me. My impatient self has always looked for instant gratification. All these months of working out and my shoulders are still not strong enough to do a full push up. So many years of blogging and I still struggle to keep up a routine. And I have become a lot more patient with work in progress as an accepted status for a lot of things in life. Like I mentioned earlier, each of us has different goals and each take his/her own time to get there. Celebrate small victories and keep your eye on the big goals. Enjoy the process.

There's nothing like an intense workout to prove the presence of endorphins - the feel good hormones that kick cortisol - the stress hormone - in the butt. And with the stressful lives that we lead, I am happy to get away from it all and invest an hour a day to take care of myself. And many times, it's hard to work after I'm back from my workout because I am sore and exhausted from it. But endorphins are addictive and I look forward to my dose at the end of each day!

Is there something that you've loved doing over a period of time? Long enough to notice how your world view is shaping because of that? I'd love to hear about it. Do drop in a line about it and let's get the conversation started! :)