Areille - the Lioness of God

Monday, July 31, 2006

Annual Performance Review: 01 Aug '05-'06

Another day . . .another year of my life over. My time to look back and ask myself:

- Have I lived this year to the fullest?
- What have I accomplished?
- What mistakes have I made?
- Have I rectified them?
- And what are my plans for the coming year?

On the eve of my 2005 birthday, I had introduced a few changes in my life and I guess my aim of Aug'05-'06 was to live those changes. Below is a summary of the things which mattered to me that I managed to do:

- Stuck to veganism
- Raised 2 cats
- New years 2006 in Goa(lot of accomplishments there, which I don't think I should really elaborate) ;)
- Took a 3-week vacation to India with my sis and didn't fight even once (actually I am lying, we fought the day before I left but I think that was because we were subconsciously already missing each other!) =)
- Met and hugged Salman Khan in front of 1000s and 1000s of ppl!! (lifetime acheivement award on this one)
- Started running in Jan atleast 4 times a week and have stuck to it on most weeks!
- Losing weight ever since slowly and steadily. Look better and feel better!
- Ran my first 5K on March 25 - UT Fun Run
- Bought my first new car - Honda Accord 2006 ( I know, I know, but I am pure desi and can' t help it)
- Went white water rafting on the Ocoee river w/ my siblings in March
- Had a reunion gala with my undergrad buddies at Purdue.
- Attempted saving a little more, spending a little less (not really accomplished my goal but mid-way there) --> much better than I was last year!
- Trip to Tirupathi and walking up the hills (this is a yearly one)
- Made lots of good friends, lost a few, forced myself to lose a few . . . ;)
- 4 trips to Atlanta in a span of 3 months! (not really something I wanted, but loved every minute of it)
- moved apartments (now thats just lame, and yes, I am running out of things) :)

Anyways, the bottom line is, I laughed a lot, partied a lot, cried a little and had a great year.

For the coming year, the 2 things I hope to do is run more & pray more. I think everything else will find its place. :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dear Lord - Part 2

January of 2005: I was living with my brother in his condominium. I had an excellent job and a satisfactory paycheck. I was very fond of my co-workers and the few friends I had made. I was comfortable . . . content . . . . happy! I had a routine going and I loved every moment of it. I would spend my evenings playing with my cat or cooking for my brother or just watching TV. I was in California; I enjoyed the beautiful weather. We had already completed a year of living together with absolutely no fights. He is 7 years older but he gave me all the space I needed and we never meddled in each other's business. He adviced me on boyfriends, my friends, career but at the end of the day, he left all the decision-making to me. What more could I want?

My company wasn't doing too well. I didn't seem to care. It hadn't been doing well ever since I joined. I just figured things would turn. But I was wrong. One day, the CEO was let go and the company announced that in 2 months time 50% of the people would be let go. I felt kind of lost, I didn't like this. I didn't think we deserved this. What did we do wrong? It was unfair. Why should I have to be the one to look for a job all over again?

As the D-day neared, I realised I needed to gear up. I pulled out text books, studied hard. Interviewed mostly around the area. Ofcourse I didn't want to move. But fate had it all differently planned. I interviewed in Austin, got an offer and it was time to make the decision. And ofcourse to spice things up, the deadline to sign my offer was the 30th of March and the lay offs were scheduled for the 31st of March! I spoke to my family, all had their own viewpoints. Me living with my brother was very comforting for my parents. My brother ofcourse loved it coz he hardly ever did any cooking, cleaning or laundry. My brother-in-law, the ambitious one, told me that I must move as it looked like a good career growth opportunity. My sister was torn apart and didn't know what to say. It was definitely one of my toughest decisions till date. I signed the offer and the next day, the director told me I wasn't laid off and that they would promote me if I stayed. But I had made my choice and I wasn't going to look back. I was still scared, worried and a little lost.

Today: Here I am in Austin, a year later and all I can say is that the move was my best decision ever! I love the place, the people, the energy, my friends, and everything else. I thank my stars for placing me here. I love my job and the recognition I get. All those fears I had a year back are long forgotten. It's not that California was bad, but I would have never experienced the Austin fun if I hadn't gotten out of my comfort zone and chosen to move. After all, life in Austin is my new cheese. ;-)

Dear Lord, please give us the power to anticipate change and enjoy it and not fear it. For it's only change which helps us let go of the old . . . and it's only when we let go of the old, we can look out for the new. And, also please help us remember that there is ALWAYS new cheese out there.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dear Lord - Part 1

"Who Moved my Cheese?" I read the book twice on Sunday and only wondered why I hadn't sooner. So much to learn from the 4 little characters, so much more I needed to grow. It took me less than an hour to complete, but contained a life's worth of wisdom. If you haven't read the book, please read it rightaway. This isn't a book review. I just wanted to pen down short fictional stories(loosely based on reality) followed by lessons from the book that I could have applied to the situation and should apply to our lives.

I felt like going to Mozarts. A cup of hot soy vanilla chai next to the cool lake sounded so inviting. I decided to call him for company. Didn't get through. At first I thought, 'Oh maybe he didn't hear the phone ring.' So I waited for him to realise that he had a missed call. An hour went by and then two. 'Oh my! He must have definitely checked his phone by now. I mean it's a cell phone. He must be ignoring me. I wonder if he is upset with me. Maybe it's something I said. Maybe something I did.' I didn' t know what I had done but wished I hadn't done it. My mind raced into all the possible & impossible scenarios. I decide to call again. 'Uh-oh! Voicemail! Should I leave one? Will he think I have called once too many? I don't want to seem pushy' I decide to hang up. Another hour goes by. I begin to cry. I call her cause I knew she would undertsand what I was going through. After all, she has been through the very same multiple times. I sobbed about all that I had thought I had done and wondered why I ever did such a thing. She consoled me well. I mustered up courage and called him again and decided to apologize profusely. Gasp! He picked my call. "Hello?", said a sluggish voice. I cleared my throat and said, "Umm, hi, its me! I had called earlier cause . . . " "Oh shoot!", he screamed,"Its 9pm! Wow, I have been sleeping for the past four and half hours. Man! I had a rough day at work. How am I ever going to fall asleep tonight? Anyway, how you doing dear? Want to meet up for coffee? Mozarts, maybe?" "Oh! Yeah! Sure!" *click*

How many times have each of us been in such a situation? Maybe not to this level or maybe even worse! How many times have we inflicted unnecessary pain on ourselves and then realised that we were fretting about a non-existent situation? But somehow we do this over and over (atleast I do). This brings me to the my first and favorite lesson from the book. We humans always over-complicate and over-analyse the simplest of things. I can't even count the number of times I do this in just one week. Given the time, we can scrutinize, dissect and make a hodgepodge of the simplest of situations. And in return all we get is misery and stress.

Dear Lord, help us keep things simple and clear . . . just how its meant to be.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I *love* 601 N. Lamar, Austin, TX

Yes, I really really love the place. I consistently spend an hour or two of my relaxing Sunday evenings here and I look forward to it week after week. This location is the home to the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods - The Whole Foods Market! And so I have decided to compile a list of things I have noticed and love about the place.

1. As mentioned in a previous post, they acknowledge & encourage you to bring your own bag by offering a 5c discount at checkout.
2. They have an enitre vegan/vegetarian fare section with some delicious kung pao tofu and sauteed edamame.
3. They have a granola selection to die for in their bulk produce aisle. My fav: Cherry Vanilla granola. It's pink and it's yum!
4. They have a gelatos bar which serves vegan chocolate gelato. Its thick, its creamy & umm umm good!
5. They have a juice bar where they use no frozen or sweetened fruits. Its all fresh and made right in front of you. Personal fav: Carrot+Apple+Orange . . . delish!
6. They have a raw foods bar: I have never tried it . . . someday will cross the line. But it sure does make me feel good that I have the option to do so whenever I wish.
7. The people . . . everyone at whole foods looks so healthy! I love the air and the energy of the place. It definitely helps uplift my spirits.
8. The labels in the soup bar spells out every ingredient they have used to prepare the soups. That's a big help to a vegan soup-lover like me. I hate having to confirm and re-confirm that there really isn't any chicken stock in this soup!
9. *Everyone* in the store knows what "vegan" means! In fact I have heard multiple times that more than 50% of their employees are vegetarians or vegans or raw foodists!
10. They have the ultimate wine collection and offer samplers too. They also usually have a wine expert in house which helps a clueless wine lover like me! :)
11. They have a beer alley with beers from all around the world. Now, I wouldn't say that particularly fascinates or attracts me but I like the fact that it's there.
12. They have so many fresh baked breads to choose from.
13. Eggless cookies - choc. chip oatmeal . . . droollll!
14. Lots of inviting colorful organic produce and plenty to sample.
15. They have a bin for recycling used plastic grocery bags.
16. Olive bar: (love the garlic/jalapeno stuffed green olives)
17. It's right in the middle of downtown Austin and still has lots and lots of parking(~900 spots).
18. They have a lovely outdoor seating place were you can sit and sip on your yummy coffee and pretend you are reading a book while you eye all the hotties coming in! :)
19. They sell organic soaps, cosmetics, clothes - I can't afford to buy it all but it just feels good that the place is giving people the option to try and buy!
20. They have fresh peanut /almond/cashew butter making machines.
21. The company originated in Austin.

I think I could go on and on and I might add on later, but for now, this is my tribute to 601 N. Lamar, Austin - the beautiful location of the Whole Foods Market headquarters!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Paper or Plastic?

An hour of decision making finally comes to an end. You believe you have made the better choice. You chose 1% milk over the full fat, baked potato chips over the fried ones, some fresh fruits for snacking, whole wheat pasta, carrot juice and what not. You are on your way to the checkout corner to make your final choice when the bagging lady asks you - Paper or plastic?

I don't know about you, but I definitely have always wondered which one is the better choice. I knew that paper was bad cause they are cutting down trees for it but plastic is bad too cause it isn't as easily recycled. So which which which? Well some facts first (sources- too many to mention):

Plastic bags are light and sturdy; so they can be reused. But they are difficult to recycle as the bags are made of different plastic types and thus have to be separated for recycling purposes. Also, plastic production uses and produces a lot of toxic materials and plastic burning creates harmful gases.

Now you must think paper bags is the way to go since we have all heard they are natural and recylable. Paper bags, to be as sturdy as they are, cannot be made from a lot of recyclable material. Paper bags are also thicker and so they occupy a lot more landfill space and contrary to popular belief, don't biodegrade any faster than their plastic conterparts!

So sadly there is no better choice. We have reached a lose-lose situation which only we can help. A small & promisingly effective change would be investing in some cloth grocery bags and using them on your shopping trips(keeping them in your car is a great way to remember to take them). Another one is using and reusing the bags we already have in our homes. Places like Whole Foods actually give a 5c discount every time you use your own bags. Even if one person takes this advice on one shopping trip, this will be time well spent and space well used. So, next time that uninterested checkout lady bags your pack of gum, please act!

P.S. Watching movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" and reading up articles on similar thoughts, has forced me to feel it's high time each of us stop blaming someone else for all that is happening and start taking actions. Our main problem is we don't believe that "I" can make a difference. We have become so used to blaming it on the government and the poor and the rich and our neighbors! I will keep coming up with more environment friendly and mother nature love posts on and off. Boring but necessary points to get across.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Love . . . or something like it!

True love is unconditional, blind, pure . . . blah blah blah! Yes, we have all heard this before but are you one of those people who profess this crap? Pls say yes cause I am in a mood to give you a fun reality check. No no, I didn't get up on the wrong side of the bed and nor do I have those nasty Monday blues. I am well relaxed and in a great mood really. But when people talk about idealistic love, it annoys the crap out of me. All I can think is "Dumb dumb Dumb!"

Don't get me wrong, I love love. I love falling in love. I love being in love. I love being loved and if you know me well enough, you know that I am always in love. But when people babble about purity and selflessness true love holds, it makes me want to shake them up.

Lets break it out:

Love is unconditional? Seriously, think about it. Can you stay in 'love' when the person you love rejects you? Ofcourse different people take different time spans to recuperate. But thats entirely different. That's not 'still being in love', that's how long it takes your bruised ego to heal. If love was so unconditional, why would you ever want to move on? You move on cause you are on the hunt for that person that would feed your ego and satisfy your needs. Your boyfriend only loves you, cause you care for him, and cook for him and show him your wild side. And your girlfriend loves you cause you make her feel wanted, do sweet things for her, give her surprises & take her out. When you feel that in this relationship, you are just giving and giving and not getting any(pun intended :D), you always want out.

Love is blind? Ya right. Do I even need to refute this one? Now I am not saying all of us are totally superficial and want only Pam Ands and Brad Pitt in our arms. But the fact remains that all of us do want someone we can appreciate, someone we are proud to show off. We need to reach a level of physical attraction for the relationship to run. We all have different standards and contrary to belief, I don't think the standards are directly proportional to our looks. But we are definitely not blind. We do look at looks, wealth, habits, hygeine, manners etc etc. If love was so blind, M.A.C and Lancome would be bankrupt, and I would be married to Salman Khan!

Love is pure? What does that even mean? I am going to ignore this one cause you have to agree with me on this: the dirtier the better!

Anyway, to me, love is needy, love is selfish, love is motivated to get what it wants & love is contingent and thats what keeps me in love all the time! :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

As the blue fades away . . .

The alarm rings, I am ready to get up. Don't want to laze around, don't want to snooze. I open the shades, let the sun fall on my face. Love the feeling, love the warmth. My kitty jumps on my bed. He wants some love. I get amused with his purring and his cute meows. Start getting ready for work. My pants feel loose . . . 'Yes! I have lost some weight.' I take a look at myself . . . 'I look gorgeous.' Just yesterday I was so blue and today I am so bright. Was it my 40 minute run yesterday that gave my body a makeover? Don't know about that, but my attitude sure did take a U-turn. That brings me to my favorite thought - Attitude is Everything. There is nothing in the world you can't acheive and as long as you believe you can, you can.

So here I am, eager to greet this beautiful day . . . and as the blue fades away, I think, rang de basanti.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I'm Blue da ba dee da ba daa

I hate this feeling, but I can't help it. It follows me quietly all month and then catches up with me every 28 days. I try to stay cheerful, but it makes me all sad. I try to smile, but I end up maintaining the frown. Curses on this time of the month.

I feel alone. I suddenly remember we are all going to die . . . and we are all going to die alone. I realise how fragile each of our lives are. We live in a selfish selfish world. We are forever running behind things. When we want something, we make ourselves beleive that nothing else in the whole world matters. But as soon as we attain it, we even forget to maintain the 2 seconds of happiness before we find something else to run after. How sad are we.

I feel a void in my life. I am looking for things around me to fill that void. Should I be making more friends? Maybe a vacation? Should I get married? Maybe have a child? I *think* this will make me happy, but will it really? Or will it just increase my desires and then my expectations and in turn, lead to a bigger void.

What are we running after and why are we running at all? Why can't we just be content? Happy with what we have. Oh, that sounds absurd. If things were that simple, would antidepressants ever sell.

But all this also makes me wonder, do we really want to be content? Or are we actually content with the loneliness and void we feel. Maybe we feel we have something to talk about, something to complain about. Maybe we like the drama around us . . . it keeps us going. In fact, I think contentment repels people & as we all know, misery loves company.

In conclusion, I am just blue and need to blab!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Do you speak the right language?

At a family brunch on Sunday, my brother started talking about a book he recently read - 'The Five Love languages'. The author describes that there are only five love languages that everyone in the world understands. They are

1. words of affirmation
2. gifts
3. quality time
4. acts of service &
5. physical touch

To express your love to a person, you first need to figure which one of these languages he/she understands. Most people commit the mistake of conversing with their loved one in their own love language, which would be equivalent to speaking Hebrew with me. And so a lot of dysfunctional couples *think* they are putting in a lot of effort(which they probably are), but when the effort isn't the *right* type, it's of no use.

My family after learning this continued on with a fun game. All of us thought of our own love languages for 5 mins and then guessed each others languages. This *game* opened up so many unknowns and in some way I think helped us undertsand each other a little better. I was with my siblings & my parents . . . I have known them for so long, and yet I erred in understanding what would be the most important to them. But once brunch was done, I felt like I knew what to do . . . I had the power to please, to love, and to be loved.

As cheesy as it sounds, this got me thinking of each of my friends, relatives etc. All I wanted to do next was to tell them how much I love them cause I don't think I ever have.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cats, Dogs and Men!

In some weird scary way, I have come up with traits in cats and dogs which would compare to my ideal and not-so-ideal man respectively:

INDEPENDENCE: Cats have a life of their own. They don't want to do *everything* together. They play around the house with their toys, and they happily bask in the sun all alone. I get to do my own thing while they play. Dogs are demanding. As soon as you come home, they pounce on you. Their only form of play, is when you go out to the park and throw them a frisbee.

ASSERTIVENESS: Cats love to be pampered. But they don't need to be pampered all the time. Infact, they will let you know clearly when they need to be pampered. And if you don't pamper them, they will demand it. Dogs on the other hand, are a little wussy(no clue if that's a real word). They will wimper and look all puppy faced(aaah!), but will never put their foot down. They will bear the torture of 'not being pampered' cause they imagine thats what their master wants! *Boorrring!*

SELF-CONTROL: I can leave out 3 days worth of food when I go on a weekend trip and my cats will only eat what is required. Dogs on the other hand can eat a whole 15 lb bag of food in one sitting and kill themselves, if you keep pouring their bowl.

WELL-MANNERED: Cats never have to be litter trained or given a bath. They religiously spend hours cleaning themselves up to make their whites whiter and colors brighter. My 4-week old kitten, never once littered outside its box. Before he knew where he was, he knew where to potty! Dogs on the other hand, will get dirty as soon as you give them a bath and then will make it a point to roll over your new persian carpet. Ofcourse, never on purpose, just pure stupidity.

PREDICTABILITY: You never know what a cat is thinking. They love keeping you guessing, keeping you wanting more. They never let you have too much of them and that keeps your desires at peak. Dogs are too busy wanting to please. They will stand, sit, roll, shake hands at the twitch of your finger. They never go out of the box & once they learn the tricks you have taught them, they hardly ever surprise you.

This post is dedicated to my 2 beautiful kittie-kats.

Disclaimer: I love animals and have nothing against the canines.