Health · Kajal · Uncategorized

Setting Boundaries

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries. I clearly needed to set some with fellow yoga classmates in my last blog. This time I am just thinking about boundaries in general.

I always thought that a boundary was a negative or implied something was wrong. It meant you are closing something off or building some type of wall. Apparently, boundaries today are viewed as part of having a healthy life. And setting boundaries is a skill, but one that most of us have not learned, which makes sense why it feels so foreign to me, but keeps turning up as a theme.

But, in this new age of health and well-being, I’m learning that boundaries are good things. That having them means you know and understand what your limits are. They are the sign of a healthy relationship and giving yourself permission to put yourself and your needs first, especially at work.

It means speaking up for yourself, and not being a doormat. For instance, at physical therapy for my ankle, I was displeased with the young woman who was supposed to help me with physical activity after my therapy. Her efforts were mediocre at best and she finished up well before my time was up. I was and still am not happy about it and plan to speak to the person who runs the place.

At the very minimum, you have to speak up or politely push back without making it feel like you are pushing back, which is an art in and of itself. But, one I guess I am going to learn. Hopefully, younger generations are learning this stuff at an earlier age.

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Art and Soul · Kajal · Uncategorized

Looking Back 100 Years into the Future

Last weekend, I took a friend to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). First time for them, while for me, I’d been many times before. I love art and seeing all the greats in one place and didn’t mind going to see them once again, especially when it’s been a while. We undertook seeing the entire museum from top to bottom, starting with the MOMA’s most well known collection featuring paintings like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Monet’s Water Lilies and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

IMG_0005While touring the greatest hits of modern art, I stumbled across a group of artists representing a movement I’d never heard of before – Futurism – an Italian avant-garde movement of early 1900s that celebrated the machine, speed, violence and change, or what they regarded as modern life, and sought to destroy older forms of culture (yes, the 1900s). Italian painter Umberto Boccioni was among the painters at the forefront of this movement. His painting from 1913, Dynamism of a Soccer Player (see photo above), moved me in a way that I’ve not felt about a work of art since first witnessing some of those greatest hits.

The painting’s energy, with its bold kaleidoscopic color, and the movement of shape and line transported me to another place. Oddly enough, I don’t see a soccer player anywhere, but I love how it’s movement and dynamism inspired me, especially when I had zero expectations for seeing anything new or finding a new work of art to admire and enjoy. I’m amazed that it was painted more than a 100 years ago. It feels so relevant and encapsulates today and the digital world we live in. Ironically, a graphic designer could probably create something like this in an hour using the right software program. But, I’m not sure it would evoke the same feelings as seeing it live in person at the MOMA, where I can almost touch it, for the first time.

–Kajal (Apologies for not writing yesterday, I had to take a sick day.)

Kajal · poses · Uncategorized

Creative Confidence

Last week, I listened to a TED Talk about creative confidence by IDEO founder and partner David Kelley. He discusses how some people get dubbed as being highly creative, while others go through life believing they are not creative. In reality, he believes, we all have creative capability. It’s just that at some point in life many of us are told we are not creative, whether it’s at school by teachers and classmates, by our parents or some other triggering event that then takes us down other paths. This results in us losing our creative confidence.

I have always loved to write. Becoming a dancer on the famous tv show Fame and writing were two of my aspirations. I did not pursue dance in any way shape or form. And writing as a communications professional is what I do for a living. But I never did pursue creative fiction writing and I’m starting to think it was because of taking Creative Writing classes at my undergrad Dartmouth. Creative writing of that nature is so personal that you have to have a really thick skin to be able to take the criticism and just do what you want and believe in yourself. It wasn’t anything anyone said or did but I just don’t think I had that confidence I needed back then to really propel me forward.

That’s why writing this blog is so important (even if it is a Friday and I am a day late in posting). It is almost therapeutic and is helping me to regain or rediscover that creative confidence dormant inside of me for so long.

Similarly, practicing yoga, especially standing tall in a pose like Tadasana is so good for one’s confidence. It is more than standing, if you do it properly planting your feet firmly into the earth, lifting your knee caps, tuck your tailbone under, lengthen through the spine and most important of all spread your shoulder blades, lift your chest up, extending your arms on either side and facing your palms forward — you will start to feel that confidence come through with each inhale and exhale.

Namaste.

-Kajal

gratitude · Kajal · Uncategorized

Giving Gratitude

Rachel and I launched our blog almost two months ago exactly today. Appropriate, considering it is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. and one of the many things I’m grateful for is having this experience to write a blog about yoga and writing with Rachel. (Wait, writing the blog = 1, yoga = 2, and my 20-year friendship with Rachel = 3 things to be grateful for rolled into one!) We took this giant leap for ourselves and I am loving it.

Gratitude is so much more than a simple “thanks.” It’s a “thank you” wrapped in a warm hug or embrace to someone who has brought meaning to your life or helped you in a deeply profound way. Being grateful takes on so many forms, everything from the daily necessities we take for granted, to the food we are blessed to eat, to the miracles and momentous occasions we’ve seen or experienced in our lives.

Here are just a few of the things I’m grateful for:

Nature. Life has unfolded for millions of years. The absolute simplicity and complexity of a leaf or the vast expanse of the sky with stars shining at night inspire and awe me.

Love. Starting with love of oneself and of those near and dear to us. Love’s many powers include healing, bringing people together, and fostering a sense of gratitude.

Learning. The possibility we all have to continuously grow and explore new ideas and avenues. I’d never have started this blog without taking a yoga teacher training class. Both of my trainings have taught me so much. I’ve also learned the power of gratitude and how it can shape our lives into something wonderful.

Instead of giving thanks, I’m giving an abundance of gratitude this week for so much that life has to offer.

– Kajal

(Note: The Light Within will take a short break on Thursday, November 23rd in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.  And please do stay tuned for Rachel’s blog which will appear tomorrow.)

Kajal · Uncategorized

Personal Origin Stories

My dad left India to come to the United States when he was 17 to study engineering. The second youngest of ten children, he was always provided for and fed, but grew up with very little, sleeping out on a balcony of a tiny 1 bedroom apartment he shared with his brothers and sisters. In addition, he was partially deaf and had terrible eyesight. Despite that, he was a math wiz and incredibly bright in school. In those days, the elder siblings got the advantages and the younger ones were left to find their way. With little to no prospects for work after he completed school, and family members that really weren’t going to help him, he figured how other guys he grew up with were going to the US. His eldest brother, lent him the money to come to the US, on the condition that he pay him back. There was no such thing as helping each other out or parents providing for all of their kids’ futures.

So my dad flew to the US, his first time ever taking a plane (or several planes), that too to another country, with $13 in his pocket. Thanks to his hard work and fortunately, how the world worked back then, he was able to support a family and build a life here. Granted it wasn’t easy, but, with hard, I mean really hard work, it was achievable.

Things have changed since my parents’ time. It’s much harder for a young couple that’s just starting out. But it made me think of my dad’s story and why it’s so important to me. Having a story like that brings meaning to and purpose to my life. We all need to have stories like that to inspire us, especially as we build our own lives, which will become stories for our children and their children. I searched for the right word to describe what these are. Folklore, legend and myth, while inspiring, are made up and fictional. To me, this is a very real and personal story. Memoir and biography are closer to the idea of what I am trying to define, but still not exactly the right words. Genesis or origin are closer fits. I’ll keep looking for them and write a future blog about it when I do.

-Kajal

Rachel · Uncategorized

On rainy river runs and clearing obstacles

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After I drop my kids off at school downtown, I run back home mostly along the river. I do this maybe three mornings out of five. When I’ve mentioned this plan to others,  the response has often been some variation of : “Wait until it gets cold” or “That will only work in good weather.”

Today it was rainy and in the low 40s. There were fewer people out. No construction going on. No helicopters. Much more peaceful than on those beautiful fall days we’ve had (and those ghastly, apocalyptic October days in the high-80s).

I was happy running along, cozy in my fleece and windbreaker.

Yet just as I caught myself feeling comfortable, almost in the moment, (as close as I can usually get) I thought—Wait, this is only light rain and it’s not that cold and there’s no wind.

This doesn’t prove anything at all. The naysayers may still be right.

What about when it’s ten degrees colder? Or 20? What about ice? Snow? Even just a pounding rain—Could I handle that? Would I still be out here?

Just as I had faced one obstacle, I was already discounting it, steeling myself for a harder one.

Is this perfectionism, about which Kajal writes, the inability to say, “I am enough” ? 

Preparing for another obstacle is also the mainstay of ambition. Persistence. Terms of heroism, right? But the terms of heroism are the language of empire, too. Needing to expand. Build higher. Be greater. To not only do, but to out-do.

Running on a chilly, rainy late fall day out the the river. One of the few out there still doing it. Can’t that be enough?

—Rachel