Letters From Home…Saluting Military Spouses Across The World

If you’re not in love with a soldier, you can’t know adventure. You don’t understand why green & brown camouflage bags & fatigues are better than any designer clothes & mil-wifeaccessories. If you’re not in love with a soldier, you don’t know what it’s like to say that good-bye.  If you’re not in love with a soldier, you won’t know what it means to stay away for years shouldering your share of family responsibility, while he is responsible for protecting the country. If you’re not in love with a soldier, you can’t know the immense joy, the uncontrollable smile, or the butterflies in your stomach when you see your soldier march into an airport lounge, get off on the railway platform and walk towards you with his lopsided smile. If you’re not in love with a soldier, you don’t know what it’s like to wait for a phone call or email or a text message for days. Yes, even in this age of super fast internet connectivity. 

This open letter is for all those who wish to know what a military spouse goes through. We are the “silent ranks” and there is a reason why we are silent. We wait…for  letters, phone calls, emails and most important, homecomings. But, hold on, there’s more. We wait for practice camps, new commanders,  military exercise schedules and dates for field.postings. We also wait for leave approvals and short weekend breaks…which sometimes get cancelled.

We are not perfect wives. The staying away gets to us and sometimes nothing seems to go right. We get tired of taking decisions all by ourselves, at nights the pillows are soaked with our tears when we consistently try to stay strong. We become a single parent in that period of separation and learn to grin & bear it. There are times when I go numb with the loneliness…however, when I think of how much I love my soldier, I am proud to be an army wife.

We are like other wives, yet, different. We clean our homes & mop floors but, are unsure for how long we will do it in the same place. We plant and grow gardens wherever we are, but we can’t grow roots. So, potted plants become as dear a possession as any. Like  other wives we too buy furniture. It can’t really be fancy antique stuff. It has to be sturdy enough to last various postings and moves. We learn to entertain by serving a six course meal wherever possible, and with just bread & eggs too…with the same ease & panache. We make new friends all the time, yet, never discard the old ones. Because we know we will meet somewhere, sometime and that bonds us for life. The same holds good for our children…they learn to network and build lasting relationships.

Sure, I have been frustrated at times and been angry at certain situations in our life. When the exigencies of military life have kept us apart not just for days & months, but, for years, I felt that life is unfair. However, I also realise that it is the same for my man in uniform. I also know that he goes through the same levels of frustration of not being home with me & the children. I pray that he is safe when he is posted at the borders, not just because he is fighting the enemy. He is fighting harsh weather conditions also. I also know that when he is posted to certain operational areas and there are tragedies that take place, I am the only person he will turn to, to share his emotional upheaval. I am his rock, anchor & stronghold…I am the woman he loves. And that, is a feeling I will never exchange for anything in the world.

mil-spouseAs military wives, we take care of our homes & families for months & months, without letting our husbands know some of the challenges. Not because we don’t want to tell them. But, because we want them to focus on protecting you & us. Like someone very correctly said, “He risks his life for people he doesn’t even know, imagine what he’ll do for me.”

There is a universal recipe for being a military wife…3/4th cup patience, 3/4th cup tolerance, 1 pound courage and a dash of adventure (every now & then). Mix all ingredients together with large tablespoons of elbow grease. Marinate frequently with salty tears. Keep aside for a year. Pour of excess fat. Sprinkle lightly with money regularly. Knead the dough until payday. Season with spices from across the country. Bake throughout the soldier’s tenure. Serve with complete pride.

So, the next time you meet a military wife, do look beyond the obvious that is shown to the world. Discover the inner strength & the fortitude the lady hides behind her words & smile…you will get to know a “woman of substance.” 10845816_10153364758294444_3709304054657174943_o

This post is also a tribute to two beautiful ladies, Radha Patil & Shakuntla Malik, both army wives & women of substance who have been responsible for shaping me as an individual…Radha Patil from the day she gave birth to me and Shakuntla Malik in my  formative years. You both continue to influence my life in myriad ways. Thank you!!!

When I Fell In Love With Mr Tambourine…

May God bless and keep you always black-and-white-bob-dylan-hero-i-love-him-favim-com-874865
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young…

That’s my prayer tonight for the one & only Bob Dylan. Young in terms of reinventing yourself, creating new poetic waves and awakening a delicious sensation in the likes of me, when we listen to you.

Falling in love with Dylan is something that happens every time I hear him sing. It did not happen the first time I heard him, though. I was all of 14 when I first heard him sing “Forever Young”. I also heard Joan Baez sing it and fell in love with her voice. Then something compelled me to listen to Dylan again…and again…and again. “Forever Young” is part of his album called “Planet Waves” which also had some other amazing songs “Something There Is About You”, “Tough Mama” & “Never Say Goodbye”. I didn’t want to say goodbye…in fact I wanted to say hello all over again.

The next day saw me in a music shop asking for Bob Dylan cassettes (yes, those were the days of cassettes and LP records). The store owner looked at me as if I didn’t know what I was asking for. He told me there is no singer like that! I argued and he finally gave me the address of another store and said “try there…you will find English music”. I walked into this shop that looked like it needed repairs 50 years ago & approached the old man at the counter who was humming “Country Roads”. He smiled and I asked him”Bob Dylan?”. His reply was “No darling. John Denver” and both of us laughed. “Aren’t you too young for Dylan’s music?” he asked and I said with all the passion of a 14 year old, “I can’t get his songs out of my mind”. In later years when I started dating the love of my life, he actually wooed me with Dylan’s music – “Tangled Up In Blue”, “You’re A Big Girl Now” & “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome  When You Go”.

So, began my love affair with Dylan’s poetry, music and writing. I couldn’t get enough of him or Joan Baez for that matter. I would look for every piece of information I could get about them. My brother & I were holidaying in Vietnam with my parents in 1984 and my Dad sat with me to listen to “my kind of music”. I got him to listen to “The Wall” by Pink Floyd first and then “The Times They Are A Changin'” by Dylan. One of my happiest moments was when he said, “Out of all the music I have heard you listen to, over the years, this man sings in a way I can understand”.

MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Bob Dylan - Show

That is actually the power of Dylan’s music. It is something that most people can understand and relate to. Guitar & harmonica, bass, piano & ensemble strings all accompanied the lyrics to create musical poetry. Dylan phrases his writing so perfectly that the meaning is rendered starkly and with profound resonance.

The Nobel Prize for Literature has surely created a buzz among critics & analysts of his career.That Dylan has never conformed to the usual and Dylanologists love that about him. After five decades of “creating new poetic expressions” and not separating the music from the words & voice (you simply can’t), Dylan came up with The Tempest & Shadows In The Night primarily drawn from the great American Songbook. What’s so different, one may ask. Almost every singer from Robbie Williams to Paul McCartney to Carly Simon to Rod Stewart have done it. Just one difference I think will suffice – most singers make albums vaguely attempting to create a blend of their best-loved classic works; Dylan makes albums that bring up a world before Bob Dylan existed – filled with music that sounds like blues, country or just plain rockabilly from an era when pop was still untouched by his influence. That, my dear readers & friends is quintessential Bob Dylan.

He has threaded himself without any obvious knots & cuts, into the complex tapestry of American popular music. He has borrowed from the past, reworked melodies, images, characters and most of all, attitudes. The Dylan I fell in love with mocked the world from behind his grey – blue- black shades by combining  symbolic poetry and the tempo & energy of various music forms. He deserves this Nobel Prize only for that. For just being himself!

Living…with a dash of sass

There’s something about the year end that puts most of us in an introspective mood. This year end is no different. There have been ups & downs, mostly ups, which include my girls doing well in their respective lives, a brilliant holiday we all enjoyed together, setting up a second home in another city and the launch of a couple of new businesses. The downside is realising that we are fast losing one generation of people to the inexorable process of ageing. While on one hand, I understand this is part of life’s cycle, it nevertheless saddens me that this process deprives us of one of the most extraordinary generations that India has seen. The veterans of World War I are no more and the people born during World War II are in their late 70’s or early 80’s.

I have spent time with that generation. I have sat through their stories of growing up in an India that you and I can only visualise and never experience. This is not to undermine any other generation’s experience. I am writing to share what I have learnt from these septuagenarians and octogenarians. This particular blog is dedicated to all those who belong to the 15th Course of the National Defence Academy for you all have influenced me to lead a rich life!

Find Ways To Do

One of the easiest and simplest thing is to find reasons why we can’t do things. They are called excuses. My biggest lesson from these stalwarts is to find one simple reason to do things. That one overwhelming “why” that will ensure the barriers come crumbling down. Living in different cities, leading hectic lives make it difficult to meet close family & friends. However, the older generation has taught me that it’s important to cherish those relationships. I still see them make an effort to be a part of everyone’s lives around them. new-year-quotes-07

Share Your Life

My parents have shared their lives with my brother and me. It just made communication so much more easier for all of us. I never had a problem expressing to my parents what was going on in my mind and why. I also realise that this was only possible because they were genuinely interested in our lives and shared activities with my brother and me. A lot of things I do now in my life are because of activities initiated by my Dad and his friends, while I was growing up.

Choose Happiness

Almost everyone I have met in that wonderful age group focus on quality of life and they choose happiness as the one determining factor. Most of them have gone through some kind of illness/surgery/treatment in the recent years. They see a sense of fragility that belongs to these experiences as directly contributing to their ability to savour life. “Tomorrow is unknown, future uncertain at our age. Lighten up and live life completely today.” Wise words from wise people. Rythm

Accept Life & Connect With Yourself

The terrace at my parents’ place offers a lovely view of the green canopy of trees in a quiet residential area. A wall of windows at my second parents’ home overlooks a lovely verdant patch of lawn bordered by flowering shrubs and lemon tree. Having spent ample time in both places, I see that later life has brought all four of them a sense of wholeness, acceptance, and the ability to enjoy small pleasures. They love the place they live, people visit them and are always welcomed, they entertain the way they want to and not because they are expected to…a complete sense of liberation & contentment.

Build A Life With Someone You Respect & Love

It sounds simple. Yet, very few can say this. Most of the couples I know, in their grand old 70’s and 80’s are the ones who have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. What I have observed and learnt can be succinctly shared in the following words…you have to like each other. Be friends, try to get past the initial heaving and panting, and make sure there’s a real friendship underneath that. I don’t think identical interests are important, but shared values are. That is the bedrock of the relationship. And critical. Build on that a set of dreams that both cherish & work towards.

And as my soul mate and I complete three decades of knowing, understanding, accepting & loving each other, I can happily say, we both love certain kinds of things. We both love movies, good movies, and part of our courtship involved staying up all night and talking out what an Ingmar Bergman film really meant. We both love to read, and we love to talk about what we read. A similar sense of humour — that is a very important part of our life together. The ability to make each other smile and laugh has seen us through some difficult times. story3

Here’s wishing all of you all a magnificent 2016 and praying that Santa Claus fulfils your dreams (incidentally, I still believe in magic and miracles for my life has been so). I sign off with C Joybell C’s quote, “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

 

 

 

Because Love Is All There Is…

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”― Ray Bradbury. 

I chanced upon an article in New York Times and it has left a deep impact on me. And because it is about love, Valentine’s Day seemed the right day to write about it. This is the story of Isaiah Berlin and Anna Akhmatova. For all my readers who do not know them, Isaiah Berlin was a 20th century political theorist, philosopher and Anna Akhmatova was a great pre revolutionary poet. Berlin met Anna in Leningrad in 1945 one night, when he was hanging around with a friend.

Berlin walked into the apartment to meet a beautiful woman, powerful, but wounded by the atrocities of war. Her HVDhusband was executed in 1921 on false charges. She had stood for 17 months outside the prison, vainly seeking news about him. Like all strangers meeting, Berlin and Anna met. Their conversation was restrained, talking about war experiences and British Universities. People came and went.

By midnight they were alone, sitting on the opposite sides of the room. She told him about growing up, her marriage and her husband’s execution. She recites Byron’s “Don Juan” with such passion that Berlin turned his face to the window to hide his emotions. She then recited some of her own poems, breaking down as she described how they led the Soviets to execute one of her colleagues. By 4.00 in the morning, they were talking about the greats – Pushkin and Chekhov. Berlin was impressed with the light intelligence of Turgenev, while, Anna appreciated the dark intensity of Dostoyevsky.

Deeper and deeper they delved in their conversation, baring their souls. Anna confessed to her loneliness, expressed her passions, spoke about art and literature. Berlin did not want to break the spell of that conversation…so he refused to go to the bathroom also. Both of them had read the same things, knew what the other knew, understood each other’s longings. That night, Berlin’s life came as close to as it ever did to the still perfection of art. When he finally pulled himself and went back to his hotel, it was 11.00 am. He flung himself on bed and exclaimed, “I’m in love, I’m in love.”

The night Berlin and Anna spent together talking stands as the ” beau ideal of a different sort of communication.”  It’s that communication between individuals who felt that knowledge most worth attending to does not need data, but, in  great HVD 1
works of culture, in humanity’s great storehouse of inherited emotional and existential wisdom. Both came from a culture that encouraged people to possess a certain intellectual scope to lead an interesting and fulfilling life.

My own experience has been when you have such life altering conversations, it is because my man and I have done our reading, discussed big ideas and big books (classics & neo classics) that have actually taught us how to experience life in all it’s richness, make subtle emotional and soul searching evaluations…and not judgements. This can happen when both are spiritually ambitious, combing through the common language of literature, written by amazing geniuses who understand us better than we understand ourselves.

That night, Berlin and Anna experienced a beau ideal of a certain kind of bond. A bond that is felt once or twice in a lifetime. Just that much, because I would like to call it a sort of love bond that depends on a lot of coincidences. For Berlin and Anna, it was piecing of the jigsaw puzzle…a puzzle that seemed incredibly complicated when they were introduced in the early part of the evening. As the night progressed, they discovered they were the same in many ways. There was such harmony that all inner defences crumbled in one night. This communion that was intellectual, emotional, spiritual, created a combination of friendship and love. It was an important night for both. For Berlin, it was an event that left him HVD 2totally changed. For Anna, it later turned in to suffering. The Soviet government tortured her for cavorting with a British spy. Her son was imprisoned and Anna expelled from the Soviet Writers Union. Yet, she never once blamed Berlin for all this. Instead, she continued to write about the luminous magic of that night.

I am not sure how many people want this kind of a relationship or life today. How many actually look beyond the transactional aspect or the utilitarian moment of our lives? How many couples or partners can say “I am all the more enriched, fulfilled and empowered because of this one person, who liberates me in more ways than one?”

I can say that with a big smile on my face, and…in my heart!

Happy Valentine’s!!!

 

Life – A Series Of Stories

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Phillip Pullman story4

I love listening to stories & story telling.There is a lot that we take away listening to stories. Some stories impact us immediately and some crop up at different intervals in our lives and leave their footprints. I have believed that everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes us what we are. We build ourselves out of that story. Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here!

I would like to share some stories that have impacted & inspired me and I carry them with me now. I know as a story teller I must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story2story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. So, I am hoping that these resonate with you all in some way.

Food For The Soul

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer, a building contractor, of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

His employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but it was easy to see that his heart was no longer in his work. He had lost his enthusiasm and had resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and his boss came to inspect the new house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built for ourselves. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

 

How Great Love Is

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, and all of the others including Love. story1

One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left. Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help.

Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, “Richness, can you take me with you?” Richness answered, “No I can’t. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place for you here.”

Love decided to ask Vanity, who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, “Vanity, please help me!” “I can’t help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat,” Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, “Sadness let me go with you.” “Oh…Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!” Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly, there was a voice, “Come Love, I will take you.” It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name.

When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder, “Who helped me?”

“It was Time”, Knowledge answered.

“Time?” asked Love. “But why did Time help me?”

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, “Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”

 

The Fence

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad or worse than a physical one.”

 

Big Rocks Of Life

A while back I was reading about an expert on subject of time management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.  story3

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.” The title of this letter is the “Big Rocks” of Life.

What are the big rocks in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the “big rocks” in my life or business? Then, put those in your jar.

The last one is a personal favourite, as a lot of people ask me how I pack multiple activities in my life. My response to them I have found my big rocks…time to find yours now 🙂

 

Home Is A Person & Am Finally Home!

After my last post I have received comments and calls from people with whom the words resonated. I also had a lot of people query me about one point in my blog – “I don’t find my relationship with my partner/spouse as it was before, there is no common ground, how do I get over the boredom in my relationship, we don’t know what to say to each other, etc etc”   I'm home 1

It is unfortunate, but, true. Most couples face this at some point in life and they really don’t know what to do with each other. The children flying the nest brings home this fact in a more hard hitting manner. This is where couples have to make the extra effort if they want to sustain their relationship and nourish it with a different kind of love. Love is not just about finding the right person, it’s about working with them to create the right relationship – working with them in different stages of life to nurture that relationship. For it is the truth, as we move from one stage of life to another, our relationship also changes. Therefore, the way we manage that change is fundamental to how our bond strengthens with our partner.

Always make time for each other.

In every relationship, it is imperative that we make time for each other. It doesn’t matter whether you & your partner are in the same city or not. Always make time to communicate with each other. Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than anything else. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with someone than simply being there for them.  Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused.  Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring on that particular day for your other half.  IMG_185610755141423

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger.  This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.

Bottom line:  I put in effort & stay in close touch with what’s going on in my partner’s life – communicate openly on a regular basis.  Not because it’s convenient, but because he is worth every bit of it. 🙂

 

Ending the day together.

Over a period of time, we all develop our schedules and time tables. Most couples create individual routines and forget to include their IMG_73268588016637significant half in that. What I find endearing about my man is that he waits for me to finish my last chores for the day and then we spend time together. It could be watching the news or a movie or a sport on television, play a game of scrabble or quiz, read something together. Then retire to bed at the same time. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow.

Bottom line: this is a routine that helps us bond over music too…both of us love to listen to music before falling asleep. 🙂

 

What’s common to you both?

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. It’s also very important you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my partner doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch.

Fortunately for us, we do share a lot of common interests – travel, music, genre of books we read, board games, crosswords, quizzes, golf. He isn’t very fond of getting into the pool, but, does so only because I enjoy it. I learnt all about football including certain terminology and nuances of the game, which he claimed women find extremely difficult to grasp.I only had to show him that women can learn whatever they set their mind to, especially if a loving partner is involved.

Bottom line: I made the effort to learn about some of the sports he enjoys because it gave me chance to reciprocate what he did for me & continues to do for me. 🙂

 

Actions speak louder than words.

When you love someone you have to act accordingly.  They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.  IMG_71679248329286

You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. Sometimes just words will not be enough. I have always used a combination of things to show my man that I really mean every emotion I feel for him. I have surprised him for his birthday, brought him unexpected gifts, whisked him off on a date just like that, sneaked up from behind to hug him while he was working hard on something. It’s important to learn what matters to your partner and work on it. This is more so with regard to certain existing relationships in your partner’s life.

Bottom line: walking hand in hand, occasionally exchanging a hug during the day (whenever work permits), doing a “weather” check once a day, sending a loving message  to each other…we do all these things…now it comes naturally to both of us. Yes, it definitely adds zing to our more than two decade relationship.

 

Socialize together.

Chances are most of your friends are in the same age group as you, give or take a couple of years. Over a period of time, while the kids are growing up, moms & dads tend to have a separate social life and find it difficult to in later years to  accommodate each other’s friends. One ofI'm home 2the common binding factors I have found with my soul mate, is that we have treated our respective friends as common friends. My friends are his friends and vice versa. As a result, our social evenings have invariably been with a lovely mix of people that we both know.

To this I have to thank our upbringing also. Both of us have not seen our respective parents go partying without their significant half.

Bottom line: when I treat his friends like mine & vice versa, we just increase the set of fantastic people in our lives. 🙂

 

Open up…especially in trying times.

We all go through highs and lows as individuals. Let your partner in when you are in your dark corner. I tend to share even the smallest of things with my partner. I don’t expect him to solve my problems or fight my battles for me…however, he faces them with me, supports me when I go through my crabby moods because of those challenges. Most times, we all just want somebody who understands, accepts and becomes a sounding board. relationships1-250x250

Allow your partner to stand by you. No false heroism that ‘I can do it on my own’. When you stand there with all your insecurities and vulnerabilities, you also give the space to your partner to share his/her own challenges. Always remember, sharing is mutual, never a one way street.

Bottom line: I share because it shows my man what I am feeling and I also get to hear the words “I love you” more often that way… 😉

 

More than just looks.

It’s true when grown ups say looks fade away, it’s the character that matters. When you fall in love, sure, looks make a difference. But, that’s not enough to sustain the relationship. I recollect reading somewhere, infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favourite food based on colour instead of taste.  It makes no sense.  It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction.  There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on life.

In the journey of life, when you go through the rough & tumble, it’s not looks that show the strength of your partner, it’s what’s inside. Just as we all have our preferences for spicy food, chocolates, mint or cinnamon flavours, we also get attracted to certain characteristics of people. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very platform that hold you together in the long run.

Bottom line: “no one gets me the way you do” these eight words became the bedrock of our relationship. The day my partner said this to me, I knew we had reached a level of understanding in our relationship that will sustain anything.

 

Little somethings of everyday life.

It’s the everyday stuff that makes life interesting or boring. All of it depends on how you and your partner view it. For us, our everyday stuff is exciting, expectant and exhilarating because we chose to make it so… yet, it’s also everyday stuff. Nothing new. We don’t beat around the bush when it comes to expressing – if you appreciate someone today, tell them.  If you adore someone today, show them.  Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.  There might not be a tomorrow.  Today is the day to express your love and admiration. I'm home 3

A great relationship with your partner is based on team work and communication – both are two way processes. I have figured out, the most important trip I have taken in life is to meet my partner half way through. Otherwise, I would not have been his partner. It really is a full circle.  The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship. Finally, we as two individuals, determine the quality of relationship we want to have.

Both of us have always believed that a relationship can never be 50:50 all the time. Most of the time one of us will be stronger than the other. However, yes, there will be times when both of us have to be strong together. As long as the two of us understand that, we continue to be happy and smiling.

Saying “I love you”, “good morning”, “good night”, “how was your day” all have a long term impact on the relationship. Like the old adage goes, you can never have too much of the good thing in life. These are all good things of life, which when shared with your partner, strengthens the relationship at a subterranean level.

Say the following line to your soul mate and mean every word of it…like I’m saying it now to my partner(he hasn’t heard this one before) – Walk with me… no questions are that tough, when you walk with me in the journey of getting the answers.

Bottom line: it’s easy to fight about stupid things. When I look at his photograph, think of all the great times we have had and continue to have…when I look at how our children adore him and dote on him…I know that there is no other person on earth I want to wake up with every morning!

 

 

 

 

 

On The Road…For A Hat Full Of Sky

I was wondering what random thoughts I would write about now on my blog as I was talking to my man one night. I asked him and he said travel. That caught my attention…I do follow a couple of travel blogs and I find them fascinating. The writers pour their heart into their writings and manage to transport me to their world.   Travel 1

Travel has always fascinated and interested me. It fulfils a deep yearning of the wanderlust in me. The sheer joy of going to a different place, meeting new people, exploring the culture, the cuisine and the countryside…all give me an adrenalin rush. The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he wants to see. It’s a very profound statement that GK Chesterton made. And this only people who are travellers will understand. A mere vacation person will never know the pleasure of travelling to a destination to enjoy the travail. I know I may sound arrogant when I say something like that…however, I have experienced check list vacations and have hated every minute of it. I realised that I enjoy my travails more than quick holidays.

This prompted me to go down memory lane and think about all the travelling I have done and enjoyed. I have done my fair bit of domestic and international travel. What strikes me while the international travel has been fun, I want to share with all of you out there some of the places I have visited in India that have left a deep impact on me in terms of beauty and culture. I don’t think I will ever forget those experiences.

1. Sonamarg, Kashmir

The whole state of Jammu & Kashmir has been described as “heaven on earth”. I particularly fell in love with two places. Sonamarg or Sonamargliterally “meadow of gold” is one such place. Sonamarg is backed by the might Himalayas and the lovely Sindh river meanders through the valley. My first impression of Sonamarg was during autumn and the all the hues of the season against a bright cerulean sky, with fluffy white clouds…I will never forget!!! The crisp mountain air would keep me outdoors most of the day and I would love walking through the valley exploring different things locally. Many a times I had some food packed for me, with a couple of books and my music, I have spent blissful hours reading, gazing at Mother Nature’s marvels and just…day dreaming.

 

 

2. Ladakh, Kashmir

Two thing that struck me about Ladakh were – stark and crystal clear. The desert landscape is so stark that it touches your soul deep down yak-ladakhsomewhere and forces you to introspect about so many things in life. My first trip to Ladakh was a bikers trip with friends and the pristine beauty of the place left me wanting more. Which obviously meant I was going back for more…

My second trip was trekking and camping and discovering the place on foot…again with some friends. Ten days through Hemis, Latza Kongmaru, Tilut Sumdo and finally arriving at Padum through Zangla not only helped us bond as better human beings, but, also brought about clarity in so many things that I was doing in life. You see, while communing with nature, I had nothing to do but think of myself and my life :). It’s funny how the noise and pace of the city life keeps you superficially connected with yourself…one trip at 11,000 feet is enough to get you to listen to your heart more than your mind.

 

3. Pondicherry

What is that feeling when you are driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? That was the feeling I had when I left Shrikant and his family after my travail into Pondicherry. My first visit to this lovely state was purely business and theHotel Pondy Pondy first evening when I set out on foot to explore the city of Pondicherry I fell in love. So, I went back again…

I fell in love with the slice of France that co exists with varied slices of India. The time that I spent there was indeed “gimme a break” time and my friend Shrikant and his lovely wife Sharada, helped me take that break. The French part of the town, with its boulevards, white and ochre buildings, clean roads and inhabitants on cycles…all reminded me of my trip to the villages of Southern France. Auroville, the area where Aurobindo Ashram is situated is such a peaceful place. The silence and quiet calm of the Ashram once again plucked at my heart strings for this was the final resting place of a great soul who was not only a freedom fighter, but also a spiritual guru – Shree Aurobindo Ghosh.

 

4. Shivas, Cliffs & Kapu Beach Lighthouse, Karnataka

On a visit to Mangalore for my company’s recruitment drive, I met Prasanna Shetty who introduced me to the virgin coastline of Karnataka. His description of the 40 odd kilometres of drive along the Bhatkal coast piqued my curiosity enough to plan my exploration in that region. And I did not regret.

Kiran surfingThe three places I have mentioned, Shivas, Cliffs and Kapu Beach Lighthouse are relatively unheard of for a regular tourist or vacation person. I also discovered that these three places are a surfer’s paradise in India. I know, I know…a lot of people will say…”surfing? here?”. It’s true…I got to meet surfers from France, US & UK while I was beach combing for crabs, shells and other oddities that you can find only in such places.

The small town of Maravanthe where I stayed at a homestay, has one stretch of the beach where a two lane highway runs parallel to the ocean within 15 meters of the water’s edge and on the opposite side of the highway is a big fresh water lake. In the lake are several islands with villages on them and there is an ancient 2,000 year old temple. The entire stretch along the sea reminded me of one of my favourite book series – Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. The five friends who go from cove to cove, discover adventures and solve mysteries…while I didnt solve any mysteries, I went from cove to cove, discovered white sand beaches, stretches of water that made me realise what a small place I occupy in the world.

 

5. Harsil, Uttarakhandharsil-sunrise

Situated in the lap of the Himalayas, on the banks of the river Bhagirathi, I discovered Harsil on my way to Gangotri. While the world hears of Gangotri as a one of the pilgrimage and tourist attractions in Uttarakhand, Harsil is the poor but beautiful cousin no one has heard of.

The place is a nature lover’s paradise, with dense deodar forests, chirping birds, gushing waters of the river, salubrious & serene environment. It also offers innumerable trekking routes that allow you to explore the mountainside and experience beauty like never before. I fell in love with the state of Uttarakhand…but Harsil remains a never ending passion. During the 70 odd kilometres of drive from Uttarkashi to Harsil, the green mountains were dotted with an occasional spot of orange. I later realised that these trees were called flames ofHarsil bridge the forest. The roads are dotted with apple trees and during the harvesting season the air is heavy with the smell of apples – quite intoxicating is all I can say.

An unexplored territory, Harsil was however featured in a Bollywood movie I was told by the locals…a movie called Ram Teri Ganga Maili!  I thought to myself a career as a location hunter in a movie production house is a good option if it allows me to travel, discover & explore.

 

6. Forts in MaharashtraJanjira

I love history…I love the romance associated with the stories of yore. A road journey to some of the lovely forts in Maharashtra allowed me to soak in Maratha history in such a way that no classroom had done in all those years of studying the subject. Maharashtra alone boasts of 350 forts of varied sizes…a treasure house I can say. I haven’t visited all of them…the ones I have, left me with echoes of the past and the impact it has had on generations after.

Starting with Shivner Fort, the place of  the Maratha emperoor Shivaji’s birth, we travelled to Sinhagad Fort where he lost is trusted and most brave commander in chief, Tanaji. Purandar Fort, the capital of the Maratha kingdom has a quaint charm of its own and is about 40 kilometres from Pune, the culture capital of Maharshtra. Shivneri

The twin forts of Sindhudurg and Vijaydurg off the coast of Mumbai were built by Shivaji in the 1660s to protect the land from coastal invasion. The Mumbai Fort is also part of the same vintage and today has only parts remaining in the business district of Colaba in Mumbai.

The fort of Murud Janjira, near the small fishing town of Alibaug was also constructed for the same reason by the rulers of Ahemdnagar. Ahemndnagar itself boasts of a lovely fort, which falls into the old fort category – more than 600 years old. Our journey then took us to Lohagad and Visapur Forts, near Malavalli, Pune. These two forts that are separated by a ridge are relatively newer – constructed in mid 18th century.

Sometime in the future I will write about some of the other places I have travelled to in India. To me India is a cornucopia of delight where you Travel 2discover something new every minute, at every turn and bend and never get disappointed with what you discover!!! My restless roaming spirit does not allow me to stay home very long…a wanderlust at heart. I realise that the best journeys answer the questions that in the beginning you don’t even think to ask. I want to travel far & wide and one day when I sit and recount my travails to people around me, I would like to say “I have left my heart print on the world map”

The icing on the cake is when you have a family that loves to travel as much as you do. I am lucky that way. The man in my life loves it as much as I do…if not more! In fact, one of the things that keeps our relationship going is our love for discovering new places, new experiences. That the children love to indulge in this with us is an added joy. The one thing I keep sharing with him is,”I want to make memories with you all over the world”…and do that we will!

 

 

 

We Are The World…Being Humane

There comes a time, when we hear a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh it’s time to lend a hand…

This is a song that took the music world and the human world by storm when it was released. Musically, it was a brilliant piece of composition comprising of more than 25 singers. Humanely, it touched a chord in everyone who heard it. There have been many people who have cried after listening to this song…yours truly included.  We care

The world has been coming together as one in times of war, strife, calamities, terrors. Yes, we have to be grateful that people rally around in difficult times. We need people most around us at that point. What I think would be more gratifying is when people come together as one even in happy times. That I feel will be the easiest way to spread more positivity around us.

I attended a global conference of networkers in Malaysia last week conducted by the QI Group. I have been attending this conference for the last four years. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day during the conference. Every speaker on stage that day paid tribute to not only their mothers, but to mothers all over the world. Of course the audience saluted this gesture…about 55% of the audience were women!!!

This got me thinking about how the concept of motherhood binds all humanity. I mean there is no difference between a mother’s love in Kenya or Canada or Cambodia. All mothers are the same…world over 🙂 :). Meeting and interacting with people from more than 50 countries brought home another point. Human beings are pretty much the same world over…at the very basic emotional, mental & spiritual level. Physically/physiologically we are different..sure that makes us interesting also.

Here is what I think binds and bonds people together and this is my take away from the conference itself.

1. Everyone wants to be respected. More than 11,000 people attending this conference in Penang, would walk into the stadium quickly with no pushing, pulling or breaking the queues. Respect – the bedrock of any relationship anywhere in the world. I would rather be respected than be loved…my take…if I am respected, love will follow sometime.

2. Smile – it costs nothing. The most endearing expression that can connect you to anyone…from a child to an elderly person. A smile that comes straight from the heart, reaches your eyes and manifests on your lips can accomplish a lot.

3. Listen and listen with your heart…not just hear with your ears. Very often we do not listen to understand intent, we listen to only reply. Listening is actually the secret to discover great stories. Suffice it to say that every good conversation begins with good listening.

4. Humor is a great equalizer. When sharing a good joke you break more ice with people. And we have a lot of common things that we can joke about without hurting sentiments. A common thing that kept everyone rolling with laughter at the conference were mother in law  jokes…that humor transcended all geographical boundaries.

5. Love makes the world go round. Love is critical for any human being to live a fulfilling life. Love can arise out of a common vision, a common goal, dream and we can connect with people across the globe with this one emotion. Mountains can be moved if this emotion is strong enough in all of us.  Rythm

6. Inclusiveness – people like to be included and not ignored when they are in a group or together. Unfortunately we focus more on dividing people based on categories. We also forget that these categories are made for specific purposes that create exclusiveness first, and then, divide people permanently. Inclusiveness resolves this.

A testimony to all that I have written above is the beautiful concept of RYTHM NATION created by the QI Group. RYTHM stands for Raise Yourself To Help Mankind and 11,000 participants became part of that nation with one vision that they were focused on – to be successful networkers and fulfil their dreams.

 

The DNA Of A Happy Life…

Happiness – a frame of mind everyone wants and, yet, few do the things that it takes to make them happy. Why do most people end up doing the “easy things” rather than the “right things”, which can actually make them happy?

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln. This is true! To me that happiness is valuing what you have, and enjoying the people, places, objects and events in your life for what they are.  It’s not about making massive breakthroughs every minute… sometimes it’s simply about being, appreciating, and making small tweaks.  And you can almost always enjoy the things you have and make the best of the events happening around you if you decide firmly that you will! my happiness

Never look for a perfect life…create your own life based on the spectrum of emotions we live. We just have to…

1. Be humane – embrace your humaneness. What people miss is being human and humane – to feel, to give, to take, to laugh, to dance, to get lost, to be found, to love & to lust… to be so unapologetically and beautifully human in every imaginable way.

2. Realize your greatness – you are not a failure because you’re not perfect, got rejected or laid off, struggle to make ends meet, or have a family with issues.  You are great because, despite your circumstances, you keep loving, you keep getting back up after every fall, and, above all, the little steps you keep taking, you take with grace.

3. Exercise your power – this life is mine and I have the power choose to what I want to do and do it well. I have the power to love what I want in life and love it genuinely. Therefore the power to be happy lies in me.

4. Accept yourself just the way you are – Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t.  Everybody has their own strengths & weaknesses and it is only when you accept everything you are, and aren’t, that you will truly find happiness and success.

5. No external validation – I don’t have control over what others think of me, but I do have control over how I internalise their opinions of me. What I work on constantly is to allow others to love me for who I am, and not for who they want me to be.

6. Choose your own thoughts – The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. And often times this means choosing your own thoughts over the opinions of others.

7. Stop resisting what is – Flow with reality, not against it.  And don’t be trying 24/7 to fix everything.  Some things don’t need fixing… they just need acceptance. What you resist persists. When you fight something, you only make it stronger.  happiness rainbow

8. Appreciate each day for what it’s worth – If what you did today didn’t turn out as you hoped, tomorrow is a new opportunity to do it differently, or to do nothing at all.  What’s important is to realize that you have a choice.  So no matter how tough the day was, always try to end it with a positive thought, knowing that a new beginning starts in the morning.

9. Be grateful – Gratitude is simply the awareness of what’s right. Count the blessings in your life, and start with the breath you’re taking right now.

10. Forgive – Sometimes we don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it, because we need it, and because we cannot let go and move forward without it.

11. Leave the past & negativity alone – it is rightly said that “today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”. The past and the negativities of our life have no place in our present. They create toxicity and we definitely do not need it.

12. Keep your faith – Very often with adversity, we lose faith in ourselves and in our abilities. We lose faith in people around us and in the universal process. Seriously, it is important to take pride in how far we have come in life and have faith in how far we can actually go. Treat each day with renewed freshness and faith…life becomes a beautiful journey.

13. Celebrate the small wins in life – The bigger things in life take so much space in our thoughts that we forget to appreciate the smaller things in life. We also forget that life is a series of daily small things and not just a few big things. It’s the daily small things that need to be celebrated more regularly. Who can stop my life being a party then?

14. Enjoy learning & growing – Acknowledge your troubles but gather strength from them, and laugh at your mistakes but learn from them.  Getting second chances in life is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures. It’s about learning as you go and positively adjusting your attitude and efforts toward future possibilities.

15. Everyday meaningful actions – What I do everyday matters…more importantly, WHY I do them matters most. While I work on things that I really love to work on, I also look at making my time more meaningful to me. It’s a measure of my happiness quotient. happiness

16. Express yourself – Life can become regretful if we fail to express our feelings and emotions at the right moment. There is no greater sadness than holding on to the words you never had the courage to speak.

Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat, Pray, Love, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” 

I am sure all you beautiful people out there have your own recipe for creating happiness in your lives. The floor is yours to share those recipes…who knows, you may be making some other soul happy today!!!

 

Islands In The Stream…Forever In Love

“Baby when I met you there was peace unknown…” crooned Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton. The song brought home a discussion some of us were having with regard to sustaining, long lasting relationships and how they have endured the test of time. There are many kinds of relationships and as many kinds of love nudging those relationships in the right direction. Our discussion that day was more on the nurturing of romance and what’s important in relationships.

The-secrets-to-a-long-lasting-relationship-quote  As the picture says, the secret to a long lasting relationship is all of the above…true. But, why would two people want to do it? Simply because of a crazy little thing called love! One of my favourite quotes (and I have a lot of them depending on what I feel at that moment) is “Grow old with me…the best is yet to be”. I want to grow old with the man I fell in love with years ago. For that to happen, we have to sustain our relationship on a continuous basis. All relationships need that sustenance…only then will they flourish, grow & mature like wine.

One of the questions that came up in that long discussion among friends that evening was, what can we do to sustain. Here is my two bit and I can say happily that my man & I both agree on these. In fact, putting some of this into action just came naturally I would say..and I know he will have a smile on his face as he reads this 🙂

In any romantic relationship passionate love is very important, but long-term couples also engage in deliberate acts of love that nurture their partner and their overall couple relationship. Love as a continuous engagement of the heart, body & soul, that includes how you love your partner and how your partner wants to be loved. For some people it may mean saying, ‘I love you.’ For other people it may involve changing the oil in the car. Love also means being empathic, meeting each other’s needs and supporting your partner when they need you. Healthy adult love exists when both partners are emotionally interdependent; meaning that both partners love one another, care for one another, desire physical closeness with one another, but respect each other enough to have their own identities as well. Tall order you would say…not really! Let me share something here, about my relationship. Both of us have our individual careers and have given each other the space to enjoy our professions. I have always been told to soar in whatever I do and he does give loads of encouragement to be the best. Now that inspires me to no extent…it pushes me to stretch and be better! Would I love him less or more for that? The answer is obvious 🙂

Loving relationships take effort…consistently and continuously. Its like growing a beautiful garden filled with greens, foliage, flowers, lovely soft springy grass and enjoying the fruits eventually on a regular basis. We also have to be careful about the weeds & pests that crop up occasionally. I don’t worry about them any more, because I know it’s a natural process. What’s going to make a difference is how we, as a couple, deal with it. Here’s what has worked for us!

Putting our relationship first: We make each other a priority. We communicate with each other. In this age of technology, we use it to the maximum and check on each other during the day. We make it a point to have date nights where it’s only us! If date nights can turn into date weekends then it’s even better. Undivided attention is what we give each other when we communicate.

Manage arguments: It’s absolutely ok to have arguments…it’s natural. We are only human, we are bound to have differences. It’s how we deal with those differences that will decide how strongly we sustain our relationship. We have our differences…but we strive to understand those & we make allowances for each other. I’m ok watching sports on Saturday or Sunday nights with him and he reciprocates by watching chick flicks with me when I’m in the mood!

Have a strong foundation: Our interests, opinions and experiences can change as we grow. But if you share the same core belief systems, foundationyou will have a platform from which to build a strong relationship. For us, as a couple, our belief system is the same. It has remained the same the last 25 years. This forms the foundation of the love and affection we have for each other.

Have fun in the relationship: Whether it is listening to Andre Rieu, going for a drive, shopping, scuba diving, dancing or even enjoying a glass of wine or single malt, we have fun. I can honestly say that I have the maximum fun when we are together. The truth is we genuinely enjoy each other’s company…we can talk about pretty much anything under the sun and laugh. We can laugh with each other and at each other…a healthy mix I would say. Statistics say that couples who laugh together stay together.

Dream together. Knowing what you both want out of life and working together to make those dreams a reality will strengthen the bond in your relationship, I have a vision board that includes a lot of our dreams. What makes this sharing exciting is it gives us glimpses of each other’s deeper ambitions. Visualising those dreams together and weaving our life’s story around them strengthen our feelings for each other. These dreams change over a period of time…earlier we dreamt about what we wanted out of life, today, we talk & visualize about our kids. Yes, their dreams are also an integral part of our dreams now.

Daily nice acts: It’s true the daily mundane things take over in every couple’s life. The only way to overcome this is when we perform daily nice acts for each other. One of the things that we have ensured is when we are in different cities, early morning and late night texts are always exchanged. Saying “I love you” to each other is equally important. Very often as we grow older in the relationship, we tend to not express this love, verbally and non verbally. A hug, a kiss, holding hands, cuddling all are critical to pull out the weeds and pests in the garden of love.

Sharing feelings and not thoughts: Most times couples don’t even get the meaning of this. Focus on what feelings you go through when both are having an argument, when your partner does something to please you or surprise you. Express your feelings then…it establishes a connect that can help build a stronger relationship. Let me share a secret with all you women out there…men do have a tough time getting this point across. We just need to help them a bit :). They may shy away initially,but, in my experience I have found that they do share eventually. Patience is the key here!

Embrace your partner’s individuality: The idiosyncrasies we once fell in love with can frustrate us today. Always remember…that is what attracted you to your man/woman in the first place. It’s important for our partner to be themselves. Here the three A’s become the pillars here – allow those idiosyncrasies, accept that your partner has them and adjust yourself accordingly. An early morning ritual of slippers, newspaper, a cup of finely brewed Orange Pekoe & reading glasses is what has become an endearing habit in my life. My reward for accepting this is I get to snuggle on the sofa and solve crosswords with my man.

Ask questions when you’re unsure or are making assumptions: All too often, we make up our own stories or interpretations about what our partners’ behaviour means. For example: “She doesn’t want to cuddle; she must not really love me anymore.” We can never err on the side of asking too many questions, and then listen to the answers from your whole self — heart, gut, mind and body. Equally important is to hear what’s not being said — the facts and feeling that you sense might be unspoken.

inspirational-quotes-3 (1)Creating a WE instead of two I’s: When practising all the above, we have been able to create space for “We” instead of two individual “I’s”. Two individuals can retain their personalities yet remain soul connected. In co-dependent relationships, each person sacrifices part of him or her self, compromising the relationship as a whole. When you are separate and connected, each individual “I” contributes to the creation of a “we” that is stronger than the sum of its parts.

Finally, there’s no fairy tale formula for true love. It begins and blossoms with partners committing and recommitting to each other, both in vow and in action. As Mark Sharp said, “Long lasting true love is when two people make a commitment to each other and choose to act in ways that sustain their feelings for each other and their connection to each other over time.”