5 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago #WordsMatter

A dose of wisdom arrives with every fine line! Yes, we learn more about life as we get older.

As I sit today and reflect, I realize that with passing years, I have learned quite a few things. Had I known them some 20 years ago, I would have made different choices, both in my personal and professional life. Here are 5 things about life I wish I had known 20 years ago…

1. Develop Healthy Eating Habits

20 years ago, I believed that I had a lifetime free pass to eat whatever junk I wanted and it wouldn’t affect my body in any visible adverse way. But now that I’ll be 50 in a couple of years, Boy! Does this fat love my body!?! The fat sticks to me for dear life!! And my best and sincere efforts to banish it, fail miserably. I wish, I had known 20 years ago that a healthy diet is important when you’re young. And that’s because, what you eat today has a big impact on your health tomorrow

2. Worry Less

Worry has been my middle name. I have spent sleepless nights worrying about big things like jobs during recession, rising inflation, health scare due to air pollution and small things like the tone of the email from the boss or about getting stuck in the traffic. I have imagined dire scenarios about all these big and small things. It’s only now that the greys in the head have made me realize that most of the imagined worst case scenarios never happened! I wish, I had known 20 years ago that worrying is pretty useless as it often gives a small thing a big shadow. And life usually turns out just fine.

5 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago

3. Let Go

For years, I have carried heavy baggage in my head. I have lived in the past for a long time. I have nurtured the hurt and resentments so much that they made me bitter. It was much later that I learnt that you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one. I wish, I had known that letting go of things that pull you down will not only free you but give you peace and happiness too.

4. Enjoy the Journey

I have spent most of my life, ticking off things in my to-do lists. I crammed my day with obligations and responsibilities, and raced from one task to another like a worker bee and felt smug at the end of the day to see the accomplished tasks. It has taken 20 years to know that it is important to focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.

5. Maintain Quality Connections

Life gets busy and it runs at a faster pace after the 20s. I am seeing that so many of my friends from school, college, co-workers from earlier work places have slowly faded from my life. Relationships are a big part of our lives, yet it is one of the easiest things to neglect. I wish, I had stayed connected with a few of my good old friends. And that is because there is no better “fix” than having friends (more specifically girlfriends) to vent to, listen to, shop with, have lunch or a glass of wine with, support, or hold us up through a storm!

What are some of the life lessons you wish you had known 20 years ago?

I received this tag from Parul Kashyap Thakur at Happiness and Food. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Vinay R from I Rhyme Without Reason. There are 29 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 1st, 2nd and 3rd November. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!

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Raipur Women Make 2 Lakh Green Diyas #WATWB

As festive season is being celebrated all over India, the women of Ban-Charauda in Raipur, Chattisgarh are extremely busy—applying another coat of paint or drawing beautiful motifs on the diyas (small lamps) that they make from cow dung. This Diwali, the women self-help groups (SHG) of Ban-Charauda are making over 2 lakh green diyas made up of cow dung to help India celebrate a cleaner and greener Diwali.

Made out of cow dung, dried and powdered herbs and tamarind seed paste – the cow dung diyas are 100 per cent eco-friendly and can last a long time. Even if they are discarded after the festivities, they will decompose in a jiffy, leaving no residue.

Gothaan, which literally translates as a cattle shed, is a programme introduced across 1905 villages of Chattisgarh in 2019, aimed to empower the livelihood of rural women through cattle rearing and procuring dairy, as well as repurposing cow dung into eco-friendly daily-use items.

In early 2019, when Ban-Charauda village was enlisted in the Gothan project, the basic idea was to involve the village women in producing vermicompost and organic manure from cow dung. Little did the authorities know that the women would invest their creativity and launch a range of innovative organic products like idols of gods and goddesses, flower pots, candle stands, mobile phone stands and even keychains… all made from cow dung.

The process of making these green diyas is quite interesting. First, the cow dung is dried and powdered in a machine, following which compostable adhesives like tamarind seed paste is added for binding. Then, dried herbs are added for fragrance and preservation, the dough is kneaded and placed into diya-shaped moulds. Once dried, the diyas are painted with all-natural colours and ornate motifs.

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Priced between Rs 2 to Rs 10 per piece depending on their size and decorative intricacy, these cow dung diyas have already landed advance orders in bulk from cities all over India. Needless to say, the women artisans are working day and night on a war footing to keep up with the market demand. Around 4,000-5,000 diyas are being produced each day at Ban-Charauda SHGs.

Gothan is managed by an all-women group. Their daily tasks are hardly a cakewalk. From tending to a huge horde of cattle to ensuring their food, water and even medicines – the women in-charge of the Gothaan have a lot on their plates. Yet, they manage to take some time out and collect all the cow dung, which are later sold and repurposed by several other SHGs.

As more and more individuals are inching towards a greener Diwali, the cow dung diyas can truly be a perfect item for them this festive season.

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This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly blogging event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase stories of hope and light. This month, I’m helping out as a co-host, along with extraordinary bloggers : Lizbeth Hartz, Sylvia McGrath, Mary J Giese and Belinda Witzenhausen. Please hop over to check out their WATWB posts as well as from other WATWB participants for a dose of feel-good to last you a whole month. You’ll be happy you did!

Reading Showdown – Kindle Vs Paperback

Kindle Vs Paperback!

This is one debate which will probably never end and perhaps continue for a long long time. While, all readers started their reading journeys with the good old paperbacks but there are quite a few who have changed their loyalties and moved to read Kindle books and then there are many who are still on the fence. It’s true that paperbacks have an air of charm and nostalgia associated with them but Kindle nonetheless is a worthy opponent.

Today, I have a few avid readers on my blog here who are sharing their reading preferences. All these readers have strong arguments and thoughts supporting their reading choices. Let’s see whether they are Kindle Fans or Die-Hard Paperback Fans or Still Indecisive Fans.

And the debate begins :  Kindle Vs Paperback

Vidya Sury

Kindle or paperback? As a voracious reader, while it’s always nice to curl up with a paperback, I do find the Kindle app a boon. Being visually challenged, I like that I can zoom text and read comfortably. I usually read at least three books at a time, and carrying them on a handheld device aces everything else. Especially while traveling–I remember the days when I struggled to accommodate two Stephen King novels in my luggage and felt miserable when I exceeded the weight allowance. And let’s not forget the price savings. That said, I have a massive library of thousands of paperbacks across various genres. And oh, when I read in bed, a 700-page novel hurts more when it falls on my face when I feel sleepy. So, I say yay! for Kindle.

Tulika Singh

I stand right in the middle of this Kindle vs Paperback controversy. Yeah I’m a past-life Libran. I resisted the Kindle for a long time but I’ve grown to love it since. Here’s how it works for me – I buy a book, a physical one, if I think it’s a ‘keeper’, that I will read it multiple times and might also like to lend and share it, the ones whose sight delights me as they sit in my bookshelf. On the Kindle I prefer one-time reads – thrillers, travel quickies and the books I get for reviewing. I absolutely love the ease of carrying multiple books as also the Kindle’s inbuilt dictionary and the facility of marking passages. I find myself looking up words which I would have otherwise skipped over. That’s a plus.

Now

Corinne Rodrigues

I never thought I’d say this but in this Kindle vs Paperback debate, the Kindle wins hands down. In our Mumbai flat, our bookshelves are overflowing. So when we moved to Hyderabad, it made sense to keep things slim, because eventually the books from Mumbai will move here. So space is an issue. While I still prefer reading non-fiction paperback, most of my fiction reading is done on my Kindle Paperwhite. I love reading more than one book at a time, so it makes sense to have them in one place and I can skip from one to the other easily. I read a fiction paperback after about 3 years recently, and it was one of the books you gave me, Shilpa – After You, by Jojo Moyes.

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal

I am a Kindle devotee, even though I love paperbacks but what I truly love are books. Travel is a big part of our lives so I collect my favourite books on my Kindle with the freedom to stock up on books without filling shelves. It helps me travel light, read anywhere, anytime with an eclectic collection of books. The instant access to a book, no waiting for the courier and the low cost of buying an eBook than that of a paperback is a win-win for me. Plus, I am the proud author of three published eBooks on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing so I can’t imagine my life without Kindle.

Kindle vs Paperback

Shalini Baisiwala

When the world was introduced to e-books, I too gave into the allure of it. But I was sorely tested in my reading as I couldn’t concentrate on the text because it felt very mechanical. There was no paper smell to add to the essence of reading and not being able to physically turn the page was a huge bummer for me.  Add to this the audio books which folks said is great as its as good as listening to a story telling. But guess what? It was a huge let down for me again. I couldn’t stay focused on the story as my mind wandered. I tried this while walking and just sitting down too. Both times I was bored by the audio telling and it was a pain to complete the book.  So I reckon I am that old school book Nazi who needs to hold the book and be able to touch and feel it while reading it.

Rubina Ramesh

I was a die-hard fan of a paperback. I still remember being around eight years old and stealing my mom’s books. The first book I read under the blanket was Yargo by Jacqueline Susann. Such a forbidden fruit in those days but a story that stayed with me all my life. More than that, what stayed with me was the musky smell of the paper, that overheated blanket and the feeling of being marooned on an island where no one disturbs you. Then came the world of Kindle. I was delighted at the number of books I could carry with me while traveling. Being a traveller in the early days of my marriage, I didn’t have the luxury of taking books with me. Kindle became my best friend since. So as a romance writer, I can genuinely say I am cheating on Paperbacks with my Kindle. But first love is never forgotten.

Chicky Kadambari

Kindle vs Paperback—that one choice that poses existential crisis to all bookworms. After all, are you really a bookworm if you aren’t living between the pages of a book? A real book… made up of real paper… smelling of real ink? Are Kindle ebooks even books, or are they just digital files on the cloud? These questions continue to haunt me as I struggle with point 2 on my 10-bookish-challenges list. And though the added screen-time threatens thicker eyeglasses, I am sorely tempted by the compact storage and portability offered by the kindle app on my phone! For the time being, still a “confused” reader!

Lata Sunil

I hate the debates on Kindle vs Paperback as I read them both and I also love audio books. But given a choice, I would still like to read the Paperback. Why? It doesn’t need charging. Most times, I have to postpone the reading as the Kindle is not charged. I read multiple books simultaneously and it’s a bit difficult to keep track on the Kindle with its thousands of books. And god forbid if my son feels like browsing something when I am not reading. I am unable to read on the Kindle late evenings, sounds weird but its true. I love to hold the book in my hand, put it under my pillow and that smell is divine.

The verdict on Kindle Vs Paperback… well, we have a divided house. And where do I stand in this reading showdown. Read all about my reading preference here.

What about you?

Are you a Kindle devotee? Or are you still in love with reading the good old-fashioned paperbacks? Or are you a bit of both?

15 Things To Do While On Bed Rest

“Bed rest and a large steaming mug of hot chocolate. I always find that cheers me up.” JK Rowling

True, after a day’s hard work, relaxing and lazing in bed with a beverage of your choice is sheer bliss. But what happens when being on the bed is not laziness but a necessity and is prescribed by the doctor. Guess, it wouldn’t be so much fun.

People who are recuperating after a surgery or have pregnancy complications or have any medical illness or injury often have to stay in bed, to allow their bodies to heal. Bed rest for extended periods of time is no walk in the park. It can be irritating to be confined to bed and be dependent on others for simplest of tasks.

Last week, I fell down from the stairs and fractured my ankle bone. My leg is in a cast and am now confined to bed for at least 5-6 weeks.  Since, both the boys go to their respective works after sorting everything at home, I stay alone for major part of the day. “You must be getting bored.” is something that everyone tells me. “No!”, is my immediate reply. I am busier than before, as I have so much to do.

They say that you should never let the things you cannot do, prevent you from doing the things you can. Here’s a list of 15 things you can do while on strict or partial bed rest and enjoy the downtime.

1. Read, Read & Read Some More

Face it – reading a book non-stop for hours is not a every day occurrence. While on bed rest, you can read to your heart’s content. Pick a book that will entertain, relax or thrill you. I couldn’t read much last month, so this is the perfect time for me to catch up on my reading goals. I just finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and have started reading a murder mystery, Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino. I am also reading blog posts of fellow friends, news on inshorts and Q&As on Quora!

2. Scrawl, Scribble or Write

Being on bed rest gives you lots of time to think. If you’re looking to creatively vent your thoughts, emotions, plans or observations, pick up a pen and paper or let your fingers dance on the keyboard. Start a gratitude journal or write your goals for the new year or update your bullet journal. I have noted down a few topics to write and updating my blog regularly is on my agenda.

3. Binge Watch

Now is the time when you can have complete control on the TV remote. Watch your favourite shows and movies. I am watching the recorded movies and series on Tata Sky+. Have just started watching the recorded season 7 of Orange is the New Black which was aired in July this year.

4. Chill with Netflix

Grab a bowl of popcorn or ice cream and binge watch movies and series on Netflix. I have been watching some really off beat and interesting series and movies like Unbelievable, The Silence, Evening Shadows, Article 15, Soni, Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane Ki Baarish, Margarita with a Straw, Badla  etc.  Of course, this will make me run out of internet data much before the month end but we will cross that bridge later.

5. Play Games

How long has it been since you’ve done a puzzle? Crosswords, Sudoku, and regular old jigsaw puzzles are all great ways to pass the time and stimulate your mind. Clearing levels of Word Cookies on my phone or playing Uno Flip with AG when he is free, keeps me engrossed and entertained.

6. Calm Your Mind and Body

Meditation increases calmness and physical relaxation, improves psychological balance, helps to cope with illness, and enhances overall health and well-being. Practicing breathing exercises or Reiki and chanting helps me relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, general mood and helps me to sleep better too. Some light yoga does a world of good too.

15 Things To Do While On Bed Rest

7. Earn While You Rest

If you work from home then it will be business as usual for you. A part of my work profile is working from home, so there’s no break there and I am earning my bread while on the bed too. It’s also a good time to follow-up with customer care of some services which make you wait forever!!

8. Engage in Retail Therapy

Retail therapy is the real medicine and can be a great mood enhancer too. Shop online to your heart’s content or if you are a ‘sensible’ shopper like me, then just do online window shopping!

9. Fuel Your Soul with Music

A great song can lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good. Listen to your favorite songs and explore some new music too. After years, I have taken out my iPod and I am listening to the large collection of old classics that I have on it. It’s a great way to take my mind off things and relax too.

10. Clean and Organize Your Electronic Devices

If you have OCD to organise and clean, now is a good best time to organize the files, folders, photos, emails on your laptop and phone. Just yesterday, I took the back-up of my system on the hard drive. It took quite a few hours, but I am happy with the outcome.

11. Catch Up with Friends

Get in touch with friends or  family members who you’ve been meaning to get in touch with but haven’t. Chat or call or write emails or send handwritten notes or invite some awesome friends over!

12. Get Crafty

Tap into your artistic side, and take up knitting, crocheting, or any other craft you’ve wanted to try. I am waiting for a friend to get me her crochet hook and yarn and hoping to learn this needle work technique. Fingers crossed!

13. Learn Something New

There’s a lot to explore and learn something new through online courses, tutorials, YouTube videos, podcasts. I am planning to learn a bit more about SEO for my blog in the coming days.

14. Create Stories in Your Head

A daily dose of daydreaming heals the heart, soothes the soul, and strengthens the imagination.  So daydream, visualize, reflect….

15. Take Naps

When everything else fails, take a nap. There’s nothing that a good nap can’t fix! Sleep is probably the most obvious thing to do while on bed rest. And I don’t feel guilty about taking frequent naps at all hours of the day.

They say that if you stumble, make it a part of the dance. If you are confined to bed due to any reason, there is a lot you CAN do while on bed rest than you may think and enjoy the downtime.

What other things can one do while on bed rest?

Share in the comments below.

Dear Writer, How Many Times Have You Been Rejected This Year?

Hello Folks! Today, it is my pleasure to host Damyanti Biswas, author of best selling crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin.

I’ve known Damyanti for several years now. She is the most generous, compassionate and supportive person I have met online. She comes across as a warm and intelligent woman with inner strength. If I were to describe her in one word, it’ll be… Inspiring! She writes about Writing, Social Justice, Travel, and Reading on her blog. Today she is sharing about dealing with rejections in the life of a writer. Over to you, Damyanti…

Rejections, when raw, are the worst thing. I should know, because I got rejected  this morning–for a grant I’d worked very hard to get, for an organisation I adore. The lack of this grant might mean the closing down of a school that was built at the site of a reclaimed dump yard more than a decade ago. It is now a vibrant, colourful place that might shut down. Reason? Rejection.

At the moment, it feels terrible. Like there’s no worse thing. Over the years though, I’ve come to handle rejection. make friends with it even. As a writer whose stories have been published at various venues, who helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine and is now a Pitchwars mentor, I’m acquainted with rejection from both sides–I receive them, and I send them.

The devastation I’m feeling right now is part of the process. Depending on how bad I feel, I get out a tub of ice-cream, and go to work. You might be tempted to stop reading, right here. I’ll urge you to go on, because we all face rejection, but not all of us call it a friend.

Here’s how to deal with rejection:

1. Take it on the chin

There’s no hiding from rejection. You wanted something: a publication, an agent, a review, a litfest, and you’re not getting it. We may not be toddlers any more but not getting what we want hurts, especially if we’ve been wanting it for a number of years. But the first part is to try and take it in–accept that you have been rejected. Sounds funny? On to my next point.

2. Go through the 5 stages

The very first reaction to rejection is denial. You want to check the list or the email again. Maybe they made a mistake. This mirrors the first stage of grief. To cope with grief, you must move through the stages of grief : Denial and isolation; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance.

While dealing with rejection, Denial and Anger form my ice-cream-binging phase. If I’m through that, I try and bargain, with myself, with the Universe. None of that works, so there’s of course, crushing sadness. Then, acceptance. Over the years of submitting to magazines, I’ve these stages down pat. No matter how many times you get rejected, it stings. How much it stings, for how long, and how it affects your writing, is completely up to you. The faster you move through the five stages, the easier it is for you, and your writing career.

Dealing with Rejection in the Writing Life

3. You’ve accepted the rejection, then what?

Ironical as it sounds, the acceptance of a rejection is the most useful step. Once you’ve made peace with the fact that you’ve been rejected, you can move on–and try again.

Usually, with a short story, I go in a tier-wise fashion. I target as high a tier as I dare, and keep moving below as each tier rejects the story.

You can make rejection into a process, and a game in order to take the sting out of it:

a. 100-rejections-a-year challenge–This is a challenge I used to do each year when submitting short stories and flash fiction. The acceptance rates at most good magazines is about 2.5 per cent or lower. If you ratchet up 100 rejections chances are you’re submitting enough to get a piece or two accepted.

b. Resubmit rejections–If you get a straightforward form rejection a few times, look at your story again. If you get tiered rejections (e.g. we like this, but…) then keep submitting till you find the right home for your story. Writers often find homes for stories that have been rejected upwards of 50 times.

c. Excel sheets–I use/d an excel sheet where I noted down where I have subbed a story, and when, and then forgot about it. But it is always nice to know where your story is at in case you decide to send it to places that do not accept multiple submissions. You also want to avoid sending a rejected piece to the same venue twice. My practice was: for every tiered rejection, I sent out the piece to a few venues the same day.

4. Rejections are not personal

Everyone knows this. Ask any writer their honest answer though, and they’ll tell you that it feels very personal. Like the one who rejected your work rejected you. Ever since I started editing for the Forge Literary Magazine (It’s a good venue. Send in your best stuff!), I’ve realised just how much thought and effort goes into the selection of a piece. Even when rejecting a piece, we try and give feedback if we have the bandwidth, or a piece particularly moves us. But sometimes it is just down to subjective taste, or what else we have on the editorial table that month. We do not enjoy rejecting writing–we are all writers ourselves, and know the bitterness of rejection only too well.

So, rejection. It is good news. A friend you need to hold by the hand. Embrace.

If you’re getting rejected a lot it simply means you’re writing a lot and submitting a lot. If you keep writing, chances are you’ll get published, sooner than later. Most successful writers owe it as much to their perseverance as talent–I’ve seen way too many talented writers give in to the sadness of rejection and lose the spirit to write.

If you don’t write and don’t submit, you’ll not be published in the traditional format. It is that simple. Yes, you can self-publish, but the rejection there can be even more brutal–because readers can be as generous with their dislike, as they can be with their love. Best take rejection as a part of the process, a stepping stone. If you’ve been rejected, you know that there are that many less venues to knock at, and you’re that much closer to finding a home for your work.

I’ve finished that tub of ice-cream now, and as I wrote this post, I took breaks to find an even bigger grant someplace else. I have a list now, and will be trying harder.

How many times have you been rejected this year? What does rejection feel like to you? What’s your most rejected work that has been published?

Author Bio: Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter.

 All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.  

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