(End of) Monday Muse

May 15, 2017


Rediscovering Old Interests

January 14, 2017

Where did these 6 years go? It just feels like a couple of months, at the most, have gone by without a single post or interaction with the blogging community.

As I look through my old posts I almost feel like I'm observing a different person. Did I actually pen those posts? It's quite fascinating to read them and reflect on my state of mind from six years ago  -  I had, at that time, some specific goals to create engaging content through my blog and it sounded like I was determined to follow through. But somehow that didn't quite happen...I guess life happened, priorities changed and the disappointing realization that, with the increasing digital overload, my content would make minimal or worse, no impact at all.

Tonight as I lounged around in a hotel room in College Station, I realize that I have missed out on an activity that was therapeutic, meditative, and one which gave me a creative outlet to explore my interests and share them with a wider audience.

It seems appropriate that on this Martin Luther King weekend I would rediscover my love for this avenue of expression. His inspiring words to do the best that you possibly can and follow your dreams, propels me to embark on this journey again. I hope you can join me and participate in these dialogues.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!


Eye on the Solution

June 15, 2010

I attended a webinar recently - a Primer for Speaking Confidence , whether at a public speaking engagemen, a presentation, or even a one-on-one discussion. I came back with one point that was crucial to presenting effectively - "provide a solution".

If you take away all the frills , the slide deck, the cool powerpoint, fancy images etc, the main focus of the presentation is to provide a solution. This applies to any blog or website, any message that you are trying to communicate....are you providing a solution, food for thought? If so, your presentation/blog/ conversation will be well received and your audience will change their mind .
What is the purpose of your communication?


Back Again

June 12, 2010

Well, it only took a year to get back to my blog. If you recall, I had started to work full-time last March, and that's when this blog fell by the wayside. I know there are people out there juggling several jobs, a family, lots of other volunteer activities, and still have time to blog. So really, I have no excuses. All I can say is it has been a hectic year but I'm glad to be back and begin again.

It's amazing how a year can go by so fast. You tell yourself you'll get something done in a week or two and before you know it , months have passed and it's whole new year.

Someone that said that the later years of your life go by like the the last few sheets of a toilet paper was so right. Life's just whizzing by.When we were younger the summers seem to last forever and when we got back to school, everything was so new and fresh like you've been away for a long time. The funny thing is my kids seem to realize now, how fast the days go by. They are so aware of how short the summers are and how they're growing up so fast and adulthood and responsibilities are looming in the horizon. I wouldn't have expected that sort of emotions at such a young age. I wonder if our pace of life is so hectic and stressed that the children don't have the lazed, relaxed feeling about life that we did when we were kids.

Maybe it's time to evaluate the way we lead our lives and reexamine what we're role modeling for the kids. Time to stop and smell the roses, maybe?


The Monday Muse - Time

April 13, 2009

The weekend went by in a flash and I didn't have a chance to put up my Monday Muse on time. Well, better late than never, here it is - a thought on time.

Do you feel rushed and overwhelmed? How do you manage your time?


The Monday Muse - Family

April 6, 2009

It has been a hectic but fabulous week with family visiting from Virginia. It's so wonderful to spend time with relatives that we don't see very often and an opportunity for my children to bond with their cousins from out-of-state.

How do you spend time with relatives that live far away?


The Monday Muse - No Excuses, Just Show Up

March 30, 2009

Just showing up and doing something, making something is the first step.
What have you have started today? What excuses did you have to get past to get started?


Writing Lessons Learned from the Community

March 26, 2009

Joanna at Confident Writing has a writing project going on. The topic is writing lessons learned from your blogging community. Unfortunately I couldn't send in the post by the deadline but I wanted to write about lesson learned so far in my recent blogging career.

Here's what I've learned:

  1. Blog posts can be short and crisp and deliver the message succintly.

  2. Blog posts can be long and lengthy and be a joy to read and digest.

  3. You cannot make money by blogging.

  4. You can make a ton of money by blogging.

  5. Commenting on posts helps build relationships especially if it's motivated by adding value to the discussion instead of using it to increase viewership.

  6. Commenting adds value whether it's in agreement with the post or not and is not done as deliberate link-baiting.

  7. I've learned that being yourself is the key to writing even if that inner critic is making vicious comments on your writing style.

  8. Analytics and stats are not the driving force behind blogs but you can't help but feel encouraged or discouraged depending on the numbers.

  9. It's amazing to see the connections you can make with people from all parts of the globe through your blog and learn so much from them.

  10. New bloggers have a wonderful support system. We're not in this alone and the journey is exciting only when we develop long-lasting relationships that we can learn and imbibe from and grow in the process.
{Image credit: Chris Campbell}


The Monday Muse - Something New and Different

March 23, 2009

I've been fortunate to be a SAHM the last several years and I enjoyed every minute of it. The kids are still in school but getting older. So it seems about the right time for me to venture into the world of working outside the home. I start work today, Monday, March 23rd. It seemed apt to ponder over this quote on a new start in life.

What are your thoughts on new beginnings? Are you comfortable with change? Do you crave for it or do you prefer status quo?


Uncomplicate Life by Staying Organized

March 20, 2009

Staying organized is crucial for me. Organizers, calendars, to-do lists, check lists on whiteboards, miscellaneous pieces of paper to jot down notes, etc are some of the tools that I use. Trying to store all that information and reminders in my head stopped working a long time ago.

As I start a new job that will take me outside of the home, I want to be able to communicate with my family and have all our calendars and tasks in sync. Since we spend a lot of our time on the computer, I've been looking for something that has many different features and can be accessed online as well.

There are several such free software as well as web-based resources to help organize and manage our numerous activities. Here's a list that I've found useful:

  1. Famundo - This online resource is a tool for the entire family. Several different members can add to the calendar, t0-do lists can be created and assigned to specisic members, list for particular events. It even has a blog and photo feature which I don't acccess but could be useful if you want everything in one place.

  2. Cozi - This is somewhat similar to famundo. It has all the features of famundo with the added benefit of mobile access and synchronization with MS Outlook. I may switch to this one since the interface seems very user-friendly.

  3. Hott notes - This software helps you place little sticky notes on your desktop. There are three choices: a note, a checklist, and a scribble pad. If you work on a laptop and tend to move around, you can take your sticky notes with you on your display screen.

  4. Doitdoitdone - If you don't like signing up and creating yet another user id and password, this is an efficient tool. It acts like a little yellow pad where you can add tasks, you could send the url to other members of your family who can add to it and cross out as and when tasks are completed. It doesn't have a calendar but is a simple and easy notepad for online use.

  5. Remember the Milk - This is a simple web tool to add, manage, and share tasks via email, sms, and instant messenger. It can be used with igoogle and Google calendar as well.
If you're looking for more GTD (Getting Things Done) productivity and management tools, Mashable has a comprehensive list of more than 100 such tools. Here's another list from Zen Habits.

What tools do you use? If you are currently using a GTD tool that has worked successfully for you, please share them in the comment section.


The Monday Muse

March 16, 2009

I enjoy reading inspiring quotes. It starts a chain of thinking that keeps resonating and helps to examine my actions. I thought of extending it as a blog post to reflect, resound, and resonate during the course of the week. So every Monday I plan to post a quote to mull over called the Monday Muse. I know there are a lot of motivation Monday sites but for me, the act of putting down something in writing helps keep my actions aligned to the goal.

If you have any thoughts about the quote or if it's something that you're applying in your life, please share your knowledge in the comment section.


One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

March 10, 2009

One of my favorite past times is going to estate sales. It's like going on a treasure hunt, you never know what wonderful objects you might find. I'm particularly drawn to mid-century furniture, lamps, and objects with a clean and classical structure . I love the uncomplicated lines and the organic simplicity of these pieces.

Most estate sales are usually
held when someone has passed away and the family that has inherited the property are trying to get rid of all possessions. Sometimes you see possessions that give you a glimpse into the recent life of the owner-- an adjustable bed, a walker, maybe some medical equipment.

The sight of these
makes a part of me feel like I'm some sort of a vulture, hovering over to get a good bargain. But the other practical part reminds me that, I will cherish and value those pieces just like their owners did and it won't end up, forlorn and lost, in a dumpster.

The pieces may not be in the best condition,
but with a little bit of elbow grease, they can be restored and treasured for generations. Be aware that very old furniture may have been painted with lead-based paint and refinishing these will require extensive safety precautions.

I believe, estate sales are the ultimate in recycling. With so much emphasis being placed on going green and reducing our carbon footprint, shopping at estate sales is an ecologically sound way to recycle old treasures and breathe new life into them with the added benefit of designing a living space that is unique and created with one-of-a-kind pieces.

The pictures, above, are some of the the neat finds that I acquired over several years of being an estate sale junkie.


Could brevity be the soul of blogging?

March 3, 2009

It is said that brevity is the soul of wit. I believe it's particularly true with reference to blogging, especially in this digital age of microblogging. Blog posts should be brief, concise, and say what needs to be said succinctly. These are the reasons why:

  • There are more than 108 million blogs and most blog authors are also avid readers. Between researching, writing, running businesses and families,and updating their twitter status, there's hardly any time left for reading and responding to blogs.
  • An integral part of being a blogger is commenting and adding value through discussion. Short, crisp posts are easier to read in entirety and allows for meaningful responses.
  • Most people subscribe to a number of blogs through RSS feeds. Catching up on reading all the interesting blog posts, takes a lot of time-- time that we end up borrowing from the next day by staying up late to read. Your readers may not have much time to go through all of your lengthy posts.
One of my favorite reads is Seth Godin's blog. While his writing is geared towards marketing and social media, many of his thoughts can be applied to enriching whatever field you may be working in. His writing is short, crisp,and absolutely hits the spot. In most instances, you don't have to use the scrollbar even once to read his entire piece. But he manages to convey his ideas very well without expansive posts.

As a new blogger, I have a tendency to ramble on, like I'm doing right now. It's because I play devil's advocate in my mind, anticipate arguments and defend those, and write counterarguments and rebuttals, with the result the post ends up being lengthy and long-winded.

I remind myself constantly that there is a comment section which can be put to good use - a place where readers can voice their views and where the stimulating discussion can continue.

Do you think short posts can engage readers better? How do you manage your time to read all of your favorite blogs?

{photo credit: Martin Bravenboer}


Love for Learning Begins at Home

February 25, 2009

After listening to President Obama's speech last night, I was enthused to write this post. This not a politically motivated post. I just want to applaud the fact that he stressed the importance of home in learning and the competitive edge that America can achieve by focusing on education. These are his words.

The responsibility for education begins at home.

A good education is no longer a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite.
These are powerful words because they highlight the significance of the home environment and how it affects a child's perception of learning.

How many of you believe that education is the key to success?
I'm not going into what constitutes success because that's a whole different topic, maybe for another post. I think that we can all agree that education is very important. Yes, there are success stories of people that didn't go to college but those are the exceptions not the rule. As to whether schools provide quality education, here's an interesting take on what schools are.

As a parent, I believe, schools are a place of learning but they are not the only place where learning takes place. Learning begins at home. Good home environments can foster a love for school by providing a place free of distractions and through the role modeling of good reading and writing habits that children can pick up on.

Families may be in situations where they may not be able to devote much of their time and energy on their child's academic enrichment. But, as a community we can step up and try to fill that gap and as parents we can provide encouragement and support. Here are some ways in which we can offer assistance:

As a Community

Volunteer at a local school
Helping out by copying class materials, reading to kids,and assisting with classroom activities, can provide much needed time for teachers to prepare for curriculum
related work, thereby enriching the students' educational experience.

Become a mentor

Mentoring takes only a few hours every week but it can be so rewarding. There are so many disadvantaged kids that just need someone to talk to,someone to guide them, someone to whom they can express their fears. Talking to an adult who cares can make a huge difference in the choices that they make at school or outside of school.

Provide tutoring services

Use your special skills and expertise in your subject matter to tutor struggling students. Some students just need that one-on-one instruction to help them perform better

Use your voice

Participate in School Board meetings. Express your opinion if you think any new legislation or policies may affect children and their education adversely.

As a parent/Caregiver

Be an integral part of your child's life

I don't mean be in their face all the time, but know where they're going, who they're texting, and who their friends are. Since friends are a major influence in a person's life, make sure you're children choose their friends wisely.

Be Approachable
Let your children know that they can come to you and share whatever it may be that's bothering them, irrespective of the enormity of their mistake.


Talk to your children's teachers, ask questions, and show them you are involved in your child's education. At the secondary school levels, a lot of teachers may resent this but show them you are doing it with the best interests of your child and not questioning the teachers' ability or judgement
and they will happy to keep you in the loop.

Imparting a love of learning may be the best gift that we can give our children. In what other ways can we forge their enthusiasm for learning?

{photo credit: books by Hashmil}


Building Strength through Support

February 24, 2009

As Alina Popescu celebrates the 4th year anniversary of her blog by hosting a Blogging and Relationships writing project, I celebrate my 10th post by writing about the people in blogland that have helped me reach this milestone.

I first started my photoblog back in September 2006. My first post was my last post as well. I gave up because I didn't have any confidence in myself to believe that I could write well, contribute, make a difference by voicing my thoughts.

Two years later, in October 2008, a friend sent me a link to the Lauren Luke site on youtube. I was astounded, not because of her ability to do make-up tutorials very well( which she does amazingly well, by the way), but because of her courage and perseverance in pursuing her dream. I have an entire post on this, so I won't go into the details. The long and short of this is, Lauren Luke inspired me to restart my blog.

This time I didn't want to take on this task single-handed. I looked for resources on the web - resources that provided writing tips, encouraging words, inspiring stories, confidence building and the occasional kick-in-the-butt that I needed to move forward. I call them my online support group. These are a few of the authors from whom I've acquired a wealth of knowledge.

Sara, at
OnSimplicity, writes such insightful posts that make me reassess what I already knew. Her writing makes me rethink what I believe of myself and helps change my negative perceptions.

BZ Riger at the
Art of Allowing Mindset inspires me with her spirited attitude towards success.

Melissa Donovan's writing tips, ideas, and suggestions, in her blog Writing Forward, encourages me to write even when the muse is not present.

I find information on social media, and tools to promote blogs, on John Welsh's blog,
These Digital Times.

And, of course, I have to include Joanna Young, of Confident Writing whose blog was among the first ones that I subscribed. I draw tremendous inspiration from her posts.

Though I've not had much personal interaction with these blog authors, I've learned a lot about, not just, how to write better but also how to be more self-assured and not stay in my comfort zone, with respect to writing as well as life.

I realize that I'm still new to the blogosphere and there will be changes and improvements as I continue to write. There will be moments of bleakness when I see no comments on my posts. But I take strength in knowing that it will not always be so. This time around, I have a wonderful support system that makes this journey so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

(photo credit: stock.xchng)


My Two Homes

February 20, 2009

These photos were taken in India. I love these street photographs because they remind me of the intense vibrancy and vitality of life in India. There's always people walking on the streets, vendors selling fruits, vegetables, and flowers from their carts, and scooters, cars, bicycles, and cows sharing the road with people.

Your senses are bombarded with the heat, smell, noise, and colors that are all around you. I spent 24 years in India before moving to the United States, but I continue to be amazed at the sheer energy of the place, every time I visit.

What bothers me most about India, though, is the poverty that you see everywhere. It's such a heart-wrenching sight. But now, with the advent of the IT industry, there are numerous cafes, upscale restaurants, bars and high end-shopping malls as well. India can be such a puzzling contradiction.

I visit India every two years. My first few weeks are simply bliss - staying with my parents, meeting relatives, shopping at my old, local haunts and then I slowly start missing my home, my friends, the quiet and calm life back home in America. And when I'm here, I miss being in India.

Do you have homes, in two different environments, and love both of them with equal intensity and passion?

(picture credit: Nithya)


How jump starting your car can have a profound effect on your view of life

February 19, 2009

Have you ever had your jump start cable burst into flames as you tried to jump start your stalled battery. Well, that’s exactly what happened a few days ago in my garage. Let me back up here a bit and get to the beginning.

One of our cars had a dead battery. We knew it had to be replaced; we were just too lazy to get it fixed. My significant other, my wonderful husband, decided that we had to jump start it as quickly as possible since we had get to our daughter's piano lesson. My husband connected the cables and turned on the engine, but, there was no response from our stalled vehicle.

All of a sudden, I noticed smoke arising from the cable. I screamed at my husband to turn off the vehicle as the smoke started to fill up the garage. The next few events happened in seconds and I know, this sounds like a cliché, but it seemed like an eternity.

As the plastic on the cable started to melt, a part of the cable caught fire and the flames started moving towards the car’s battery since the cables were still connected to both cars. I grabbed a heavy, blue, blanket, which luckily, happened to be lying in the garage, rushed towards the car, and started beating the flames out. The fire died out, and we picked up the burnt, remnants of the yellow plastic from the engine of our car and cleaned the floor of the garage.

The rest of the evening my mind kept going back to the incident. I knew that if I hadn’t been able to put out that fire, we were very close to having our cars blown up, and since this happened in our garage, our house would have also burned down, and we may have all been killed.

While I tried not to dwell too much on this, a few things struck me which, I know, is common knowledge but which we tend to forget.

  • Life can cease to exist in a blink of an eye. This is, definitely, not a staggering revelation except to teenagers, who believe they are immortal. Everyone is aware of the ephemeral nature of life, but sometimes we need these experiences to contemplate what it means and take stock of what’s important and meaningful to us.
  • Procrastination causes bigger problems. Never get into the habit of putting things off. It will only lead to messier situations.
  • Be grateful for today. I never like to say I had a bad day and I advice my kids not to as well. All days are good if we have a roof over our heads, three meals, a warm bed, and good health. The other crappy things that happen are challenges that strengthen us.
  • And Never Ever mix up the positive and negative terminals of your jump start cable.
Do you think we need to experience some kind of ordeal to see clearly, what is right before us?


Goal without a Plan

February 14, 2009

It's been a week since my last post. I have been tweaking my generic blogger blog, trying to add a better comment form, customizing my share button for easier access, reading up on SEO and surfing the Web for everything I can think of, except, doing what I should be doing...adding content to my blog.

All I've been doing is postponing the inevitable which is, staring at a blank screen. Oh, have I told you that I've also been reading hundreds of posts on writer's block and how to get past it. It would help if I followed some of the advice, instead I keep searching for that quick fix, where I'll have some sort of epiphany and words will pour forth without resistance. That has not happened yet.

What the experts say about writing is true. It's 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. I realize now that the three most important words in writing are structure, structure, structure. Attempting to write, during the 30-minute wait time in the parking lot outside my daughter's piano lesson, is not a very efficient way to write.

I read this bit of wisdom in the most unlikely place, on the marquee of an automotive repairs place. "A goal without a plan is just a wish". Those words made me drop everything and formulate my goals and strategies right away. I'm keeping it very simple, no lofty and unrealistic ambitions like 10,000 visitors a day or make $1million in a year.

Here are my uncomplicated and straightforward goals and strategies to keep on track.


1. Write 3 posts a week.

2. Read blogs, news feeds, and twitter updates for ideas and inspiration.

3. Comment on at least 5 different posts everyday and make a positive contribution.


1. Allot a 4 hour window everyday for writing.

2. Allot 2 hours to read and comment on interesting blogs.

3. Find good online tools to organize thoughts, blogs, and notes.

4. Write a list of ideas with a brief blurb.

I think this is it for now, This list may change as I gain more confidence and add more content, and who knows, maybe even include one or two lofty goals at that time.
How do you structure you're writing process?


Fear Factor

February 6, 2009

My last post was on courage. So it makes a lot of sense to me to follow that one with this post on fear. We all fear many things. But, I think the real fear, the mother of all fears, is our fear of failure. You can even say that it is a result of perfectionism. To me, they are two sides of the same coin.

When we expect perfect results, we fear mistakes. And so we make sure that we don't make mistakes by not taking any action. All we're left with, in the end, are regrets. How true are those words, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail"?-Robert Schuller.

For the longest time I believed, that, if there was even, a slight chance, of accomplishing anything less than complete success in a venture, then I'd certainly not attempt it at all. And is there anything in life, worth pursuing, that is 100% failure proof? No, definitely not!

This blog is my attempt to throw out my old way of thinking. My new philosophy is to try, strive, push the boundaries, tell myself it's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to fail, because these will become my stepping stones for the next venture.

I remind my kids that perfection is overrated. As Salvador Dali said,"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never attain it". So go out there and do your thing and don't worry about falling flat on your face in your attempt. You know you did your best and tried very hard and, now, you can say, you have no regrets.

Have you overcome deep-rooted fears to reach your ideals? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

(Photo credit: Caroline )


Courage is Vision

January 31, 2009

A few days ago on twitter, I responded to the hashtag, "courage", and my contribution was Einstein's profound words, "Most people see what is and never what can be". As I thought about what these words meant, I realized that I knew someone who follows that wisdom unwaveringly.

My sister has a 13-year old autistic son. His life is a constant struggle with many successes and improvements, through therapy, over the years and many, many setbacks and downturns as well. In these 13 years, I have never heard a word of regret or a defeated tone in her voice, however tough the circumstances may be.
How is it possible for someone to be so cheerful and optimistic all the time in such a situation?

I think it has something to do with what Einstein believed in.
My sister's philosophy is that every special-needs child can be taught and is capable of learning. It's just that we, the teachers and the parents, have not figured out the strategy yet. She believes that, while progress may be slow, with sufficient time and effort, these children will learn and, one day, can become independent.

Where others see a special needs child, she envisions what they can become. Where others see their disabilities, she sees their potential.
I'd like to salute all those remarkable mothers, fathers, and caregivers for their compassion, perseverance, determination, and above all, their vision.

Do you know someone with the ability to look beyond what is and see what can be?
What are the qualities of such a person?

In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on.
-Robert Frost

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