Blogathon Reflection

Final post of this year’s blogathon. Can’t believe we are at the end of January already. It’s been a great month of getting back to the rhythm of writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had personally challenged myself to try and not do cheat posts. I mostly succeeded but had to resort to picture posts on a couple of days. I haven’t been regular in reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts this month, apologies for that. I am hoping to do so in the next few days. I will also catch up on the comments on my post soon. I also took up a few other challenges personally this month like working out and walking. I found myself constantly on the grind to meet my goals every single day. I am looking forward to not blogging daily in the month of February *sheepish smile*.

I don’t want to say that I will try to be regular. I can promise that I will be back next January and do this all over again. I will try to post in between but if the past years are anything to go by, it gets harder to write the longer you don’t.

I want to end this post by saying thank you to all the bloggers who participated this year. It means a lot to have this virtual re-union every year. For those of you who couldn’t, I really hope you join next year. The more the merrier. Thanks to the very few readers I have left, thank you for visiting this space. It means a lot to me 💖

With that, I’m signing off! Wishing you all a great year ahead 🤗

Unforgettable incident

We went to a explore a couple of caves that are next to the beach in Central Coast today. We decided last night and the girls asked if we could take their friend L along. I messaged L’s mum to ask if she was ok for L to come with us. She agreed and I told her that we would pick her up in the morning.

It was an hour and a half drive from Sydney. We had a great time exploring both the caves. The girls wanted to get in the beach water to cool down. Abbas and I sat on the shore. The girls were next to a group of people in the water. And the next moment we saw them drift towards a rock. We started signalling them to come towards us, we heard them screaming but that’s how they had been talking all along. We thought they saw us signal and acknowledged and they were trying to head towards us. But within a few seconds, we felt that they were going further and further. Abbas and I ran towards the rock, we saw a man rushing too and heading towards them. As we got closer to the girls we realised that they were in trouble. They were trying hard to swim towards the shore but couldn’t. Then a surfer urgently jumped into the water with his board and reached them. I was almost on the verge of a breakdown, Abbas and I standing there helpless and hoping that those two men could bring the girls back. The girls were constantly trying to swim but they were in the same place. They hardly moved despite frantic efforts to swim. Soon the surfer got L and Mannu to hang on to the surf board. The two men then dragged the board from the front and brought them to safety. We could see Tammu on the other hand drifting further. I kept yelling Tammu Tammu helplessly when I saw the the two girls safe but my other daughter alone, trying her best to stay afloat with all her might. The men then went back to get her and they managed to do so. My heart went back to its place from my mouth. Those two men were blessings in disguise today who saved our girls by going in at the right time. I am still reliving that scene again and again as it is flashing in my mind. I hugged the girls a little too tight and for longer than usual tonight. Beyond grateful for those angels who saved them from danger.

One of those men said that they were on a shallow shore where the water was not even knee deep. But right next to it, there was a rip and it was easy to get caught in it. Once you are in it, it requires immense strength to swim out of it. It was fortunate that one of the men had a surf board. We usually always go to a beach where there are lifeguards and ensure that the girls swim between the flags. Today the beach was quite shallow and it was too hot, so we thought it was ok for them to dip in the water to cool down. Biggest lesson learnt, for us and the girls!

Leaving you with some pictures from before this incident.

Red Hande Cave walk

One of our longest and toughest walks yet, in the lead up to the Flinders Range trek in May. We set off to do the Red Hands Cave walk in the Blue Mountains area. We had go down steep bends from the Glenbrook Depot to the causeway. The signage there said it was a 2 hour return walk. We kept walking, enjoying the scenery, savouring the nature’s miracles. For the first one hour, we met a few people who were headed in the opposite direction. After that we kept walking and it seemed like there was no end to the route. We kept dragging ourselves thinking we’re almost there. After almost 3 hours, we finally made it to the Red Hands Cave park but funnily enough, we hadn’t seen the caves 😅

We sat at the car park to rest for a while. We met a group of elderly who had started at the same point at us. They had passed by the Red Hands Cave apparently, which caught us by surprise. Because we didn’t think we had caught a fork on our path that we would have missed. They directed us to take a different path on our return. It did lead us to the cave, which is a beautiful piece of Aboriginal art and cultural heritage in the Blue Mountains. There was a collage of handprints inside the cave that was the legacy of people who lived there almost 1600 years ago. They had used paste of ochre to imprint palms with hue of red, yellow and ombre.

From there we headed back to reach our car park. The return journey was tougher, we were both exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Neither of us expected the walk to be thing long, we hadn’t carried a snack and we had very little water left in our bottles. After what felt like eternity, we managed to reach our cars. We had walked close to 11 kms and completed 18 thousand steps and it took us close to 5 hours. More than the distance, the fact that the path was an uneven terrain made it all the more difficult.

At the end of the day though, Ange and I were super proud of ourselves that we did it. On a totally different note, the day ended with Barty creating history at the Australian Open! As a country, we couldn’t be prouder of her.

Leaving some visual treats for you all from the walk:

Do you ruminate?

Before COVID, I disliked working from home with a passion but…

After COVID, I cannot imagine myself not working from home with occasional purposeful visits to office to socialise or when it made sense to be there in person

Before COVID, I would work at the office only and hardly ever felt the need to do so at home

After COVID, I work only at home and the few times that I have been to the office have been for team lunches or training. I could not get any work done while I was there.

Before COVID, the moment I shut my laptop and set off for home, I would disconnect myself from work mentally

After COVID, there is no shutting the laptop, it is always accessible and it is extremely hard to disconnect from it

Before COVID, coming home meant it was my time outside of work, to rejuvenate, recharge, spend time with family or on my hobbies without thinking about work.

After COVID, it is hard to draw a line between work and home. I often end up worrying about work or thinking about my pending to-do list even when I am done with work for the day.

I learnt that there is a term that describes this – ruminating. Apparently it means mulling over something constantly. It is also the word that describes the action of cow chewing its food and then regurgitating it to chew again and again. In one of the wellbeing sessions at work, our lovely P&C folk shared a few tips to overcome this. There was one that stuck with me and has worked really well to overcome this habit. Every day when I log off for the day, I write down all the tasks that I need to work on the next day. Even if it is a small task like booking a meeting or asking someone a question or a bigger task at hand, I write everything down. As a result of this, my mind is tricked into thinking that I won’t forget about it tomorrow and there was no need for me to worry or try hard to remember the tasks until I login tomorrow. Especially on Fridays, I spend an extra hour or so sitting down writing all the things that need to be addressed on Monday. Even though I’m tempted to call it a day early on Fridays, spending a little extra time has proven to be a blessing. I have noticed that it allows me to relax and enjoy my weekend by being fully present in the moment.

It doesn’t even have to be about work. If there is anything else that you ruminate about, write down the actions you need to take to overcome it. (preferably on paper with pen instead of typing). It has worked for me and I hope it will for you too. If you do try, let me know how you go. I would love to hear from you.

Leaving you with this video on the same topic that is insightful.

At wit’s end

That’s where I am trying to rack my brain for today’s post. As we are nearing the end of the blogathon, it gets harder and harder. What do I write about? I had written a post about all the things that I say or do that my Amma used to. I thought I’ll write about everything that I don’t do. Not today, some other day I decided. Then I considered writing about my maternal grandmother, who passed away recently. I wasn’t sure if I was in the frame of mind to do so. Then I thought I should write about some of the male colleagues who try to put you down intentionally or otherwise, but that’s going to be one long rant of a post. Don’t have the energy for that today, my tummy is growling of hunger.

I’m starting at the water dispenser at my desk as I type this. Why dispenser you ask? Well, remember the 2 litre bottle of mine that broke just before our trip to Queensland? I did not have a large water bottle at home. Since my home office is upstairs, I prefer to fill a large water bottle in the morning and get it with me to my desk. Most often than not, I find myself in back to back meetings, without having the time to rush downstairs to refill my bottle. I would end up drinking very less water throughout the day. I did not want to wait till I go out and buy one, I thought of the big water dispenser that we had at home. We use it for parties or when entertaining during get togethers or so. It is usually tucked away in the storage. I got it out and now it adorns my desk. I have already completed half of it just while working.

I am laughing at myself for such a nobody-asked kind of a post. If you did make it till here, I would like to honour your readership with two takeaways:

  • Don’t give up after coming a long way in the tunnel, you might be this close to see the end of it.
  • Shop your closet / wardrobe / garage before going to the shops. You might as well be getting a wear out of an item that would have otherwise been lying around without being used.

Leaving you with a picture of my water dispenser. Now you can laugh at my cost 😀

Yawn!

Mid-week public holidays are the best if you have no agenda but to laze around and chill.

Today being Australia Day, we had a public holiday. Very last minute plans were made with our neighbours to have a bbq lunch where each person will bring a plate. Everyone else was bringing meat to grill on the barbie. So I decided to put together a grazing platter, lemonade and a make-your-own Pavlova station for the kids. Full-on day and I feel more than ready for the weekend. But the though of going back to work tomorrow is making me feel sleepy. Leaving you all with some pictures of all the food.

Wishing you all a very happy Indian Republic Day and Australia Day.

Just when

  • I thought I haven’t had a head ache in a while, I’m down with a severe one and hardly able to function.
  • I was feeling happy that I haven’t done a cheat post yet in this year’s blogathon, I’m so tempted to just post some pictures today and go rest.
  • I had established a good routine with working out in the mornings, walking in the evenings and everything in between, the kids go back to school next week. Will have to change the routine to ensure that I keep up the new healthy habits
  • I find some time to focus on a task at work, I get distracted by someone pinging me with a question or ask for help
  • I tell myself that I will not take on more than I can chew, I find myself give in finding it hard to say no
  • I finally got interested in the book that I started reading the third time, I haven’t been able to pick it up due to life getting in the way
  • I plan to start working on one task, I somehow manage to digress and find another one and then the next, only to feel guilty about not having done the first, yet not giving myself credit for having completed a lot more that wasn’t on the to-do list in the first place
  • I feel impressed with myself for having written so many points after randomly writing ‘Just when’ in the title, I realise that point 4 and 7 are the same really!
  • I reflect on the fact that this such an incongruent post with scattered thoughts, I’m happy that I did manage to write a post for the day.

Agree to disagree

When Mantam were finishing their primary school, we were in a dilemma about their high school. I might have to do an elaborate post on it but to stay on topic for this post, we ended up enrolling them in a Christian School close to home. Our neighbour’s kids go there and we had heard great things about the school from them. We also visited the school and got good vibes from the environment and the staff. The only thing that was a point of contention for me was that they it was a religious school and they were very much open about it. They did mention that kids from all faiths study there but they will be imbibing Christian teachings and also have Biblical studies that the kids must attend. When they were in primary school, there was a religious class where we could choose from different options and the girls always attended the non-religious class which focussed on morals or just casual play/learn. I was not sure how the transition would be for them. Abbas was very keen on the girls attending this school, as he studied in a convent himself. And he firmly believed that it is what we taught the kids at home that mattered more than what they were taught at school. Considering the fact that it was a really good school for the kids, I gave in with an open mind.

Ever since the girls have started in this school, almost every day they have come back with anecdotes of what the teachers preached and how ridiculous they found it. While I agree to most of them, I have had to be cautious about sharing my views with the girls. And I also did not want to fully influence them to think in a certain way based on my perspective. So we have been having great discussions at home, open conversations about the pros and cons. The girls still question pretty much everything, which we have always encouraged them to do. It is amazing to learn their views and how they perceive things.

There was also discussion of LGBTQ+ and some of their friends are homophobic. Mantam had a huge argument with their friends and came back home all upset. I was really worried about having influenced their outlook at a young age. I did not want them to burn bridges and break friendships because of disagreements. We then sat them down and made them understand that their perspective is shaped by our views. Yes, they are old enough to research for themselves but at the same time they cannot deny the fact that their parents being allies did contribute to their thinking. We explained to them that it was the same with their friends. It was important for them to share their thoughts with their friends but without being in their face about it. They had to learn to have a respectful conversation, be polite while being on the opposite side of a disagreement. And they could agree to disagree without it affecting their friendship.

We have finally come to the conclusion that we need to be respectful of other people’s beliefs. If we try to establish that our belief is right and others’ is not, then what is the difference between those dogmatic religious preachers and us? Ultimately we all believe in the good within everyone. But everyone is different, our upbringing, our situations, our environment and our experiences shape our beliefs. We must learn to live and let live!

New Apps

I have hit a writer’s block again and struggling to find words for today’s post. I will write about a few new apps that I have started using lately.

Sweatcoin

Found this app that pays you for getting your steps up. I joined almost a week ago on learning about it. I’m trying to get my steps in anyway, if I get some additional benefits for that, why not? Here is the link to join if you are interested: https://sweatco.in/i/seemaali63836562488

Spendee

I have been meaning to track our actual spend in a way that we can easily get insight to analyse our patterns. Although we have a forecasted budget for a month, we have found it hard to track the actual. I tried some spreadsheets but they are tedious. Found this app called Spendee and it seems to be a simple one to use. I’m liking it so far. But will know better when I use it for a few more months to be able to do more analysis. Do you have a mechanism that works well for you?

Spriggy

This App helps you get a pre-pair visa card for your kids. You can link it with you bank account and top it up on a regular or adhoc basis. If you pay your kids for chores, it can be managed using this app efficiently. I find it very convenient as we can control the amount attached to the card on need basis.

Find My

This is not new but I started using it recently. I have shared my location with Abbas as I go for weekly treks now. In case I lose reception or unable to contact him, it will allow him to track my gps location on his phone.

Notes

Again not a new app, but did you know that you can scan documents using the Notes App on Apple devices? I stopped using Cam scanner after learning this. Notes makes it so much easier to scan documents with its artificial intelligence and user interface is intuitive.

Splitwise

This app is a blessing in disguise if you are going on vacations or having an event where costs are split between individuals or families. The App is extremely easy to use and makes expense tracking and splitting effortless. It also keeps the process open and transparent so that there are no disagreements when it is time to pay people their due. This is not a new one, have been using it for many years now. But I thought it might be beneficial for anyone who may not have used it before.

So tell me, what new apps have you discovered lately? I’m all ears 👂

Team Ben or Team Paxton

If you have watched Never Have I Ever, you are either Team Ben or Team Paxton. Tammu is on the latter and seems to be very ‘in your face’ about it. She sent me a tiktok today and claimed her loyalty to Paxton. We had a little Whatsapp roast session. Also with the virtue of being her mum, I have a stock of stickers ready to embarrass the girls. Sharing the snippets here. Also read through to find out who actually makes my heart flutter !