Monday, November 18, 2013

My second long drive - 600 miles, 12 hours in one day

Well, here I am - exhausted somewhat but excited to pen down my 600 miles driving experience. Mind it - it was all in one day! 

This was the second time since I have been in US that I drove for so long - nonstop! Well to be precise with one hour break. So,I drove in two stretches, each five and a half hours long with one hour break in them. What say? :-) 

People write about their first experiences and here I am - blogging about my second. I did share about my first long drive on facebook though but since I am owning a blog now, thought it might be a better idea to share it through this portal. Gives me more room to write. Another reason - I am no longer on facebook! 

Talking about my driving experience, I have been driving in US for a while now. But have not drove for this long of a distance independently. I started early morning - 5:30sh, the last time when I drove, but for this time  - add two hours to it. So, it was 7:30 a.m. Not that I "got" late, but it was intentional. Anyways, the result was returning home later than expected and "desired". I prefer to reach back home by late evening (before it gets too dark). Sometime like 6:00 should be good. But it was 8:00 pm this time and I was pretty tired. Compared to the first time, I found today's drive a bit more tiresome. One of the reasons being that there was considerably more traffic on my way back home this time and it started getting dark after 5:30. I find it relatively stressful to drive after it gets dark in the evening. Leaving early morning (even before sunrise) is not a problem for me. Probably because I know it's going to get better as the day unfolds. But with evenings, its only going to grow and to add to it, after already driving for 5-6 hours one is exhausted. Result - more concentration required. And I did not have company on the way back. Except my CDs :-) But they were indeed saviors and an excellent companion :-) I created two new CDs, with relatively new songs, the day before I had to leave. 

I am glad to have finally experienced driving over  long distances. Knowing that, if needed, I can do it is nice. Getting over this inhibition of whether I will be able to drive independently for this long was important and makes me feel good.

Already had one cup of tea. Before I convince myself for a second, a better idea would be to switch off the lights and go to sleep! 

Take care and thanks for reading.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

In my domestic diva avatar!

It's funny to imagine my my mom's reaction at this post's title! She will be like - O really????

Anyways, so this was yesterday evening. As I came home from school, I thought of taking a break from my research and after having a cup of tea and snack, there I was - putting together ingredients for preparing an Eggless mango cake! :-)

It came out really good. Do not go by the pictures. These are more like proofs that I did make it but not to be judged for the quality of its taste :-) :-)

Alright then, signing off for now. Good night everybody.


Creativity speaking

I recently came across these two posts - one in library and one in a shopping mall. See the pictures below -

The one above was in library. I thought this was a nice way to create awareness about plagiarism and the extent of the seriousness with which it is taken up. I found the responses posted by students pretty interesting.

I am not sure if the text in the picture is readable? In case not, here is what it is saying -

"Daniel had a lot of trouble getting started with a communication paper and asked a friend Jordan who is in the same class to see her paper for ideas and inspiration. Jordan was happy to help. When Daniel showed Jordan his finished paper, Jordan thought the two papers were too similar. What should Jordan do?"

Some students posted how they would respond had they been in Jordan's situation. I will be glad to see some of you sharing your thoughts about this scenario as well!

The other stuff that caught my eye was today at one the stores (the section displaying scarves) in a shopping mall. Funny but creative surely.

What do you think?

- Dippy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Empowering lessons to recalibrate our thoughts

As the famous proverb goes, 'If life gives you lemons, make lemonade'. This blog post is related to the message conveyed in this saying by Dale Carnegie.

I have been reading few books (non-fiction) recently and came across some really good pieces of advice that I would like to share in this blog post. I am going to pull some excerpts from one of these books. There are some that I can completely relate with and for others it was purely the writer's writing style that captivated my interest. 

The three books I read are - The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, Lean In by the Facebook CEO - Sheryl Sandberg and The Best Advice I Ever Got - Lessons from Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric. I am only going to jot down some pieces of text from the book - The Best Advice I Ever Got here in this post. This book is a compendium of short stories from some of the most successful, revered people. For us to realize that even today's best and brightest had hurdles to overcome, for them too, things did not always pan out as hoped and then what was it that brought them to their current position.

I usually do not enjoy reading or even laying my hands on the books that talk about inspirational/motivational kind of stuff (I find blog articles on these topics still alright). My mind is predisposed to put them in the same category as self-help books, telling me that something sad, wrong is going on in my life if I am feeling the need to read these books. I tend to feel exactly the opposite of how these books advocate (be confident, learn from your failures and so on). 

However, my reading experience with the above three books has been to my surprise pretty positive. In the book by Barack Obama, his talks about how he rose to being the President of United States given his background, the stories about his determination, persistence, the values that he believes in, both at professional and personal front - those were the things that kept me interested despite of the pages discussing political world (which I just skipped at times or even if read, then I do not remember).

The idea of going through this inspiring-suggestion-list below might probably sound preposterous and mundane since we know about all these things, but I think it is worth to come back to it time and again. Some times we have to keep listening to the same message over and over until we actually absorb it completely and implement it in our lives. Of course - taking any advice with a proverbial grain of salt. You might not concede with all of what is being said and suggested by other people. And that is perfectly okay! Just pick up what you makes sense to you.

Here are few of the take-away's that I gathered from the book:
    • "Life is not a recipe. Recipes are just descriptions of one person's take on one moment in time. They're not rules. People think they are. They look as if they are. They say, "Do this, not this. Add this, not that." But really are just suggestions that got written down. (The following statement is one of my favorites) As you cook up your own life, never let anyone else's recipe for success intimidate you or get in your way. Know your truth and live by it" - By Mario Batali, Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur 
    • During the challenging times of life, tell yourself - "I do not have the luxury of negative thought!'  - Christina Applegate, Emmy Award-Winning Actress
    • In his write-up titled 'Fail Better', Tavis Smiley (PBS Host and Author) mentions that, when people do not acknowledge the mistakes they have made along the way to success, they promulgate an artificial concept of success. The concept that success can come without ever failing, what he calls as 'success scars'. 
    • "Life is unfair" - We do get this feeling several times in life. There is one article in this book by Valerie Plame (Former United States CIA Operations Officer), where she mentions about one of her father's teachings. She quotes that as a child she got accustomed to hearing her father say that 'Life is unfair', whenever she used to complain about something. But the hidden message was - "Despite the obvious fault of unfairness in the universe, it can not be used as an excuse for not trying to be your best self. Use unfairness as a starting point to be sure that your actions are the best you can muster."
    • "When we accept the fact that things will happen in their own time it takes a lot of pressure off, freeing us to put in the necessary work and follow the path before us" - Alicia Keys, Grammy Award Winning Artist, Musician, Actress and Activist.
    • "You will never achieve a deeper understanding of your work, or learn the tough lessons, if you are liked and comfortable all the time" - Laura Linney, Award-Winning Actress
    • "Acts of bravery don't always take place on battlefields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and yes, your soul  by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world. You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high." - On 'Don't be Afraid', by Anna Quindlen, Bestselling author and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist.
Let me know if you liked and were able to resonate with some of the messages in particular. 

Signing off with another tip - expressed through a picture (Downloaded from web)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When the smallest of your dreams come true

Apart from our personal and professional goals, we often develop some wishes, dreams as our life progresses or as and when we encounter something new. All of them more or less stay in mind but some of them fascinate us to the extent that we get reminded of them very often. 

Visiting California at least once has been one of those later kind of dreams for me. I do not know why and when I developed this fascination. I am guessing that it has to do with my strong interest towards travelling, exploring new places and also for all that I have heard about west coast. Well, so here I am - living my dream these days. I got a chance to visit couple of places in California recently. I can say that my love for this place has only increased!

When I posted my initial few pictures, for when I first landed in CA about a month ago, my friends pretty much laughed, calling it my madness for a place. I know, it is hard to imagine that a place can be so thrilling to someone and also when there are numerous places out there in the world which can be called prettier than CA. I agree. Hopefully, I can visit other places too sometime in my life. #being-greedy-now :-) But for now, CA is really cheering me up. That's me at the Golden gate bridge ----->

The fact that I am here for work serves as an icing on the cake. Paid vacation, right? :-) Not to deny that since I am enjoying my work, it is coming as a big factor in making me enjoy this place (CA). After all, it was work that brought me here. I need to get that done first.

When your smallest of wishes, the ones that are not going to influence your life significantly, but can surely can bring a big smile on your face, can make you feel happy, fulfilled, (Yes, this CA trip is fulfilling for me 
:-) ) when they come true, you tend to "realize" the good things happening around you. Probably because it opens up your heart? If I am sad or feeling low, it gives me a feeling of optimism or in general, strengthens my belief that sooner or later, all my dreams will eventually come true. No matter small or big!

Signing off for now..Take care and stay optimistic!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being inspired and moving forward

Hi everyone,

So, this is my second blog post and I am feeling equally excited writing it as I was when I wrote the first one. Many Thanks to all of you who took time to read it. 

I have had few aspirations apart from academics that I have harbored deep down my heart somewhere for many years. At times based on circumstances and even more so, out of my own ignorance for how much happiness they bring to me, I had just put them on a back burner. But I am realizing it from last few months that may be, I should spend some time there (Writing, being one of them) My first blog post helped me break that inertia. Lots and lots of thoughts run across my mind all the time and  I have also thought of penning them down. The first post here on the blog helped me gain some momentum as well, but apart from being excited about writing, I believe that one has to feel the words to be able to bring life to them. 

Today, I  think I am in that mood. After having my dinner and a casual chat with my roommate, I decided to watch one of the interviews of Sushmita Sen. Although I have seen this video several times before, but it is always a pleasure and worth the time to check it out again. Her personality, her individualism has always fascinated me. 

Some of us might feel that we can not relate to her since we do not belong to the same class of people that she does. Her lifestyle, principles are very different from some of us. I agree. But still she inspires me. Because I can see a lot of objectivity in her talk as well. She is not always talking about high end things. "Taking 100% responsibility of one's own actions" - one does not have to be rich and affluent, or famous as she is to bring this concept into one's own life. Also, we need not adhere to everything she is saying. It is her opinion. We can pick and choose whatever we like. I like her ambitious, progressive attitude in life. I like the confidence that is reflected in her voice for whatever she is pursuing. The society does not encourage adopting two girl children and raising them as a single mother. But she was confident enough to follow what "she" thought was right. Of course, in this case we can account for her lifestyle to some extent. But keeping that apart, in general, I think her action of adopting Renee and Alisa reflects the style of living on one's own terms. There are several sections in her interview (see the link below) that I like. When she is asked to define beauty, the fact that she is defining it in terms of giving respect to other person's judgement is really admirable. She says - if someone likes doing make up or anything of that sort and as long as that makes them happy, she would celebrate his/her call. Isn't that great? So, just minding one's own business, not being judgmental about others. Making our life's and relationships simpler indeed. We often tend to pass comment on others very easily, giving ourselves enough reasons, calling it a natural behavior but do get offended when the same thing happens to us. 

So, I just wanted to share with all of you this interview of hers. Hope you like it and that it makes you go ahead and explore more of her interviews. 

Here is the link to the video:

Life will keep throwing challenges from time to time. It does get very hard to embrace them and keep one's spirits high at all such times. But only by conscious effort and channelizing our mind, our thoughts with positive energy is what will help us cross those hurdle and be able to see hope and light on the other side.

Thanks for reading. Please do write back. I will always be on the lookout for constructive criticism and compliments of course :-) 

Stay motivated and take care.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lessons learned and some yet to be adopted: Speaking from my own experiences

Hi Everyone, or may be more of a hi to myself, since what is going on in my mind right now and what I am going to pen down in this note now is more of a talk with myself. But I like putting things on paper and sharing them further. It helps me tremendously in understanding my own thoughts, much more clearly. I hope that you enjoy reading the post as much as I liked writing it.

I always enjoy watching videos related to career advice or any interesting sessions for that matter. Better put, I would say I love watching videos of people who are motivated towards what they are doing. That may serve as an advice for a professional life or may well be more inclined towards social, personal aspects of my life . I was watching a keynote speech by Nora Denzel few minutes ago. She was a keynote speaker at Grace hopper celebration of women in computing 2012 and has been Director at IBM, SVP at Hewlett Packard and currently sits on two public boards ! So cool and actually overwhelming..right? I know. She offered some excellent career advices in her speech (Do check them out. Just google her name and you will find a link). Really inspiring but one thing that daunts me when I try to bring some of what they talk about in myself is, looking at all the years that have passed by and the difference that I see in myself as a person vs. them when they were at my position. I feel that attitude or the success they have in their career today is a result of the way they have pursued things all the way in all their past years. They surely talk about how they have improved themselves and that even they were not as good as they stand today but for the differences that I observe between myself and them, can I overcome them now? Right now, my mind is telling me that possibly I can. But i would need to make extra effort to cover that difference possibly. 

Few months back I was watching this video by Sushmita Sen. It's titled "Living life on your own terms". Just amazing. I loved her attitude and the poem where she defines what success means to her is simply great. I would say the best definition of success I have come across and I am sure thinking of many of us will resonate with how she has defined it. Likewise many more such videos of several other inspiring, enthusiastic people. Watching them and introspecting after that, makes me feel that I need to change many things in my attitude. We all might be already having some of them but still reminding ourselves helps in keeping a check. I am listing them out here. Feel free to add if you have some more tips. I will also keep editing this note, adding things as and when they hit my mind :-)
1. Being disciplined: I have a long-long way to go here. I wake up by 7 or 7:30 but unless there's a deadline in front of me, I will not start working without squandering the best of my day's time, when my mind is totally fresh, in listening to music for sometime. I really want to work during morning hours but even knowing it, I miss it most of the times. And I hate this thing about myself. I think it is extremely important to channelize our energy in the right direction rather than spreading it out. Just knowing what our goal is, is not enough unless we work towards it. I am working towards improving myself here. One the same lines, there's this syndrome by the name 'Watson's Syndrome' that i read about in one of the books. Something we really need to be careful about. I definitely need to watch myself for it. It happens when you have a daunting task at hand, something that we are finding hard to pick up because of the fear of not being able to complete it for whatsoever reason. And in order to avoid it, we tend to remind ourselves of some other 10 things which are just not at all so important at the present than our task. Let me give an example: If I am working on a project at hand that is my topmost priority but because I am finding it hard, it comes to my mind that, you know what, I need to go to bank or need to get groceries and so on. These bank and grocery shopping are all indeed tasks that I need to do soon but not right away. I am just looking at them as an escape from the project work. That is what Watson syndrome is.
2.  "You are average of five people you spend your time with" : That says it all what I wish to mention here I believe? :-) This is from a philosopher, Jim Rohn. Being conscious of the company and talks we enjoy and spend out our time essentially, can be big factor in shaping our thoughts and personality. At times when we wish to take a break, our preference should be to spend that time doing other things we enjoy rather than being in a company where we might enjoy at that point of time, but in retrospect we feel that it is influencing us in a direction which we are trying to avoid.
3. Being a fighter: We all have our share of ups and downs in life. It is okay and in fact important to give ourselves time to come out of those hard times. Expecting to be so strong that you just try to pull yourself up much earlier than what you also think is not enough, that way you are not just being too hard on your self but it is not even realistic and practical. By putting such goals for ourselves we are just building walls of disappointment, something which will bring us even more down. It is okay to be sad, mourn, cry when things do not seem to be going our way, but staying there longer than what is necessary is what is not right. Our friends (true ones) and family will always be there to support us, but i always remind myself that yes, I am fortunate to have them, but i should not let that support become my crutch. There will be times in your life when you stumble, your loved ones will be there to hold you and make you stand back but if you do deny to walk, you are essentially putting their efforts go down the drain. From my experiences, I have learned that following these two steps really work.Tip 1:- When we are constantly thinking about a problem, we are literally looking at just that ONE path. Talking to someone you can count on or taking your mind off it some way, helps us to think objectively. Tip 2: Whatever did not work out, accept it. One thing that always helps me and actually that is something that really helps when nothing else gives me comfort,is saying this to myself "Thinking of all the good things that have happened in my life, God has been so kind to me. If things have not worked out the way I wanted them to be this time, I will take that as HIS will. I have a short vision. May be if my wish is granted, i might feel happy at the present moment but in the long run, it will not stay the same way. So, trusting in his will is THE best thing to do". Believe me, it might be sounding very philosophical and more as a something to comfort one's heart,  but that has helped me many times in my life and I have got my answers too for the most part. For The ones I haven't I am more than 100% sure, I will. 
4. Develop hobbies: It is absolutely great when we enjoy our work and we should. But there are times when we need a break to keep that enjoyment alive, rejuvenate ourselves. Develop hobbies, instead of killing that time by doing things you do not really enjoy, the whole process of taking a break gets defeated otherwise. I personally enjoy reading blogs, listening to music (Oh God..I need to lessen that. It is stepping out of my hobby zone and taking on to my mainstream work! ) and guess !!!!! (something that acts as my stress buster too sometimes)
5. Give your best in whatever you do, once you decide to pick it up: Once you decide and accept some task, do it with all honesty. Do not come up with reasons later for not being able to put your 100% . Let me give an example: lets say you get a job offer but the salary does not commensurate with the workload. If you eventually decide to accept it, even after not being excited about this salray-work structure, do not try to take it lightly and cut corners. Yours going out and explaining your line of reasoning for doing so is not going to benefit you in any way except hurting you by casting a negative impression on your attitude. You are essentially losing your credibility for work.
6. Self-Respect: I wonder how I am bringing it after 5 points ! I give 100% value to one's self-respect and dignity. It is so very important to me. May be the most important. But the hard fact being that in spite of admiring this trait so much, I am not able to follow it when it comes to my own self-respect. Trust me, I have hurt myself so many times. But hopefully, being conscious about it and reminding myself will make me follow it more firmly for myself. Never let anyone step on your toes and of course with that being said, make sure that you watch your actions too. It is very easy to lecture others for hurting you. But also keep a check on your own actions and also we need to be able to draw a line that defines our self respect for our own self and eventually others. We can not stop others from crossing that boundary without ourselves being aware of where that line begins. It is tempting to confuse self respect with ego at times. I think, Self-respect is being able to stand up for your beliefs, to be able to speak up for your own actions, dignity in your own eyes where as ego is the attitude you throw on others. You do not have to be an egoistic to maintain your dignity !
7. Learning to say 'No' and a firm one: It happens with many of us that if we are helpful, polite and sensitive, we get pushed around a lot. People around us tend to catch that personality trait of ours and aim to take advantage knowing that saying no will make us feel obligated and conscious and we will eventually end up saying yes. But practice saying 'no'. By saying no, we don't just save ourselves time to do things we actually enjoy doing but also saves us from getting into the situations that are going to cause stress later on.And in doing so, do not worry about what other person will think about you. If they really like you, they will understand why you said no and if they are not your real friends, they will not start liking you in the true, genuine way just because of you said yes this time. They might say nice things on hearing a yes but always have another chance to show their anger any time you end up saying no in future. And do not try to soften the no with an apologetic tone.That will make it weak. Be firm. This comes from one of the blogs that I follow (Preeti Shenoy's). She writes really well.
8. Do not be too hard on yourself: Sometimes we try to be an extremely strong critic of ourselves. May be when we are aiming for something or trying to change an old habit.Accepting that things will not fall in place as quickly as we wish or expect will make life and the journey to ultimately achieve the goal we are striving for relatively easier.  But we tend to be such a strong judge of ourselves, set our expectations so high for a change to occur, that even when we are progressing towards it, no matter how slow but we fail to observe that movement entirely. We just keep our eyes on the destination, without realizing that it is a time-consuming process and as long as we are working "towards" it, it is all good. It happens a lot with me atleast. I tend to analyze myself so strongly at times that it just leads me to a low state, which in fact pulls one down. 
9. Hard to figure out what is right/wrong in dealing with people?  Now, this is more about personal aspect of life. We at times run into situations where we are not sure if the way we are behaving with other person is right?  I feel that the best and most accurate solution for that is to put yourself in other person's shoes and go over the same situation again. Ask yourself, What if you were at other person's place and the way you behaved with him/her now, if he dealt with you in the same way? If you are talking to yourself with all honesty, you will get the answer. This might sound like over-thinking but one has to decide - hurting someone or over-thinking a little bit. And you know what, we are fine over-thinking much more than this when we ourselves get hurt :-) 
10. Day-Dream :-  I am a big advocate of this, but of course only when it is limited and as long as that's not the only thing you do ! Having dreams in your life , having a list which makes you feel that if you get this, you will be so happy, really helps you in staying motivated. Now, this does not conflict with being dissatisfied or ungrateful for what you have or achieved so far. If you keep complaining for things you do not have at present, that is definitely not the right way. But feeling thankful and happy looking back at all things you have in your life so far and being motivated to achieve more, taking inspiration from others is all in good spirit ! And having a set of goals/dreams for yourself also helps you get up and look at the road ahead when you are pulled down by some hardship/setback in life.

Well... so easy to say all these big-big things naa..:-) I know. I am writing all these things here today with the hope that saying it out in public and also writing it down will make me conscious! Fingers crossed here  :-)

Be hopeful, healthy and stay motivated. Take care !

PS If you are reading till this point, you are on my list of fives  :-) LOL !