Monday, 30 April 2018

Women Empowerment?? Let's empower ourselves!!



Ladies let's not just sit around and talk. You want your life and the world to change, first let's change ourselves. 

Empowerment is the talk of today. We talk about women empowerment everyday but what does it really mean; especially to you? 

All available literature defines women empowerment as the process in which women expand and recreate what it is that they can be, do, and accomplish in a circumstance that they previously were denied. It can also be said to be the process which refers to increasing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of the women, to ensure equal-rights to women, and to make them confident enough to claim their rights.

But all the laws and rules and regulations set by governments all over the country and even the world cannot help empower women if women themselves don't begin the process by first empowering their minds, their bodies and their souls.

Unshackle your minds, challenge yourselves, increase your knowledge and capabilities, learn to do more, stretch yourselves, be charitable, be kind, be generous, be gentle, empathise and above all be better humans and forget all the talk about feminism, gender differences or equality. 

Don't make excuses, don't justify your laziness, don't say you have no time, don't say you are too busy with work and kids, get out there and do it all. 


Empower yourself by standing on your own two feet, work, have hobbies, study, empower yourself by exercising your body, take out time for yourself to get that fit and healthy body you have always craved(walk, run, do yoga, join a zumba class, join a gym, swim, dance but don't sit on your butt), empower yourself by exercising your mind by reading, following current events, writing, learning to do one new thing every year( cooking, sports, art and crafts, designing, studying, gardening, recycling, agriculture, photography, travelling, the list is endless), empower yourself by learning everything there is about money and investments and taxes and teach your family and yourself the value of money, empower yourself by delaying gratification to understand that life is full of ups and downs and you should be able to handle all situations and circumstances and support your loved ones through it all, empower yourself by giving, give your money, time and resources to people who are not as fortunate as you are ( give more and be kind to the helpers around you, your maids, your dhobi, your car wash guy, your garbage collector, the shopkeepers, the delivery guys, teach a child, man or woman to read and write, give away food, clothes and books to charities and orphanages around you, help other women empower themselves, this list too is unending), empower yourself by learning to drive, learning to change the tyre, learning to repair things around the house, empower yourself by being a better citizen of your society and country( vote, contribute by first learning about and then following laws, rules and regulations be it tax laws, traffic rules, societal norms and traditions), and the most important of all, empower yourself by becoming a broadminded, modern, more accepting of others individual, empower yourself by learning more about your culture, religion, traditions, values and principles and share what you have learnt with your family and friends thus ensuring your culture lives on but at the same time no one follows anything blindly so as to incapacitate them and empower yourself by doing menial tasks around the house and not depending on your helpers all the time ( clean the house, keep it neat and tidy with no clutter, decorate and redecorate by using innovative and inexpensive materials and means, set an example for the whole family by being independent and active), empower yourself by being a good daughter, wife, mother and employee, empower yourself by not being judgemental and a rumour mongerer or a gossip and over and above empower yourself by investing in yourself and your family and being happy and healthy. 

And all this to free yourself from all that you feel is tying you down. So empower yourself for your family's life, the society's life, the country's life and the world's life. Stop complaining and cribbing about what you don't have and how unfair and discriminatory the world is, get what you want and don't expect your family, your friends, your society, your government, your country or even God to come to your rescue. 

Empower yourself and the world.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Who is actually responsible?

There's a very highly educated and qualified career woman I know for a fact who is abusive, mentally and physically to her maids. Maids in the plural because none of them stick around for more than a month. Now these are not rumours or gossip, 2 of them have actually asked for help to escape her clutches. While fortunately for all concerned, things have never gone out of hand and each of these girls safely found employment elsewhere, the much in news Unnao and Kathua rape and murder cases sparked a debate in my head with myself.

What did I do, what actions did I or the others who were aware of her awful misdeeds take even when the girls brought it all to our notice? Yes they didn't come to us directly asking for help but they did talk to us about their employers behaviour. Like all others except for some mild commiseration I looked the other way, not wanting to get involved.

Everyday the newspapers and other media channels are filled with rapes, murders and abuse of children and women. Other than a very brief moment of sadness and bitterness very rarely do I give these reports another thought. What else can I do I say to myself. This stuff happens all the time. Children and women get raped, murdered and abused by strangers and more often than not by their own fathers, brothers and uncles. Men are killed too for greed for power, money, and fame always have and will rule humanity.

And a mute spectator is what i have become. Looking at it all from the outside not letting it all affect me because really what's the point thinking about such dreadful things. Living my life, turning a blind eye to all of it with only a murmur of - what has this world come to, I put down the newspapers, change the channel and go back to my daily routine. What can I do I say to myself again and again, deceiving myself to live with a false security inside a bubble believing that such things won't happen to me or my loved ones. But really, the secure bubble can burst anytime because what have I or anyone else around me done to make our world a better place to live in.

What is it that I or many others like me can actually do to ensure that we and the coming generations do not have to deal with what has now become rampant - society's degraded moral fibre and our silent acceptance of it.

We are all writing about the brutality of the 2 incidents, posting pictures, talking about it, joining candlelight marches, playing the blame game...didn't we do the same when Nirbhaya was brutally raped and killed not so many years ago? Did the shame and shock the entire country went through not bring about any change? Haven't we learnt any lessons?

Very obviously no because that's who we are. Humans with no humanity, savage and sadistic beasts we take pleasure in our cold hearted and ruthless devilishness because well that's how it is. While all of us play the blame game, blaming everyone else but ourselves it all carries on, never stopping for a minute in our very own country, city, village, street, and in our own homes.

We have learnt to shield ourselves from all depravity because you know it's all part of life. Rapes, murders, corruption, abuse, harassment, lying, cheating - we are all used to it. When a mother of a 20 something boy from the local slum beats up a girl because her son has hundreds of girls begging for his attention and how dare she complain about his unruly behaviour, when a mother in law justifies her son's abusive behaviour towards his wife and daughter, when a father tells his son that girls are asking for it, when a friend eggs his friend on to go get that girl, when 8 year olds drag their classmate to a corner of the lobby in school wanting to have fun, ( all true incidents) when parents forget their duty as humans to teach their children what is right and wrong because they themselves have forgotten what is right and what is wrong, when we all believe 'kya karein aisa hi hai ' , 'sab karte hain', 'Karna padta hai aajkal', and justify all that we do wrong, we all become culprits and participants in the rapes and murders that take place so commonly.

So as we easily put the blame on the politicians, religion and police, we forget they are us, a reflection of who we are as people and the society we belong to. And till each of us cleanses our souls and detoxifies our minds of the perverted and deviant behaviour we have accepted as being a part of our lives, nothing is going to change, no one is going to get justice and it's only going to get worse. Till that time we can only hope and pray that what happened to that 8 year old innocent child never happens to any of us.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Right Way or the Wrong Way...I say Tamato you say Tomato!


She said she was right while I said no I was right...well, so in a way we were both right.

I said she was wrong while she said no I was wrong...well, so in a way we were both wrong.

A few weeks ago I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I refused to take a step back and understand that what I had said to a friend had hurt her and it was only when we hashed it out were we both able to come to the conclusion that our different perception about what had happened was the culprit.

Confused? Don't know or understand what I am talking about? Well, don't worry, you are not the only one stuck between black or white; right or wrong; good or bad; correct or incorrect; should or shouldn't; can or cannot...right or wrong. 

As for me, like all of you, as I have grown older I have begun to realise nothing in life is as simple as being right or wrong and black or white. But what still confuses me is what lies in between. Is everything that is not right or wrong actually grey or something else? Is there a grey at all or is it how it has always been...black and white, the only difference lying in the eyes which perceive the distinction.


Perception says it all. Most often than not, we know what is right and wrong, thus leading us to act with supreme confidence. Human nature being what it is, has led us to believe we have a copyright on being right.

The jihadis think they are right in killing innocents because they are fighting for justice; the murderer thinks he is right in killing because he believes he was wronged; the employer sucks the blood out of his employees because he knows that is the only right way to get work out of them while the employers believe he is treating them unfairly; the businessman who evades taxes and stashes black money in the belief that he is convinced he owes no one anything, but the government who persecutes him for doing the wrong thing; the politician who revels in what he believes to be his moral right to misuse his power and position; the bully who teases another because he enjoys doing it; the corrupt who think it is their right to amass wealth by whatever means possible while the victims suffer by participating in making him richer; the teacher trusts her judgement when punishing her student but the student feels frustrated because he feels singled out and unheard; the parent who hands over the keys to motorbikes or scooters or even cars to their teenagers proudly, fully knowing it is dangerous and illegal; the biker who drives without a helmet; the driver who zooms around on the roads speeding towards nothingness, endangering himself and others, while enjoying himself, but pedestrians curse him for doing the wrong thing; the drug lord selling his wares to the not so innocent without any compunction; the adulterer who justifies his actions; the violent who think that is the only way; the rude who feel they are doing no wrong...and it carries on.

Each of us in our own minds think we are always doing the right thing, following the correct path, as is evident from the examples above. So is there really no right or wrong? Is it all just a matter of perception. 

As a parent teaching my children the difference between what is right and what is wrong and what they should or shouldn't do is a daunting task that scares me. Children are innocent and blank slates who learn from example and do what you tell them to, at least when they are really young. For them to learn from me I need to be absolutely sure first of what to teach them.

But the fact of the matter is I find myself at a place and time where I don't know what values and principles to impart because I maybe right as I perceive it but wrong as the other perceives it. As parents we try our best to guide our children towards the so-called right path. But here is where I stumble. While I tell them about and impart the values and principles I have learnt and practiced I realise most often than not that I am not certain anymore if all that I believe in holds true in someone else's world. Each day as I face the confused questions and troubles in my children's minds, I get more and more perplexed.

Do the scriptures have the answers, does religion, do the spiritual gurus know, do the politicians who make all our decisions for us, does anybody? Will my children and the coming generations find the answers.

I for sure don't have any answers. But I know this...Doing the right or the wrong thing depends largely on the individual and how he is brought up and how environmental factors have affected the way he behaves or acts. So, there is in reality nobody who governs the laws of right and wrong. 

And I also know this...If we want a better more humane and kind world as yes, I see it, we need to find the answers. We need to draw a line between right and wrong, good and bad. Otherwise we are doomed.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Road to 10 k


Huffing and puffing and with great effort I had finally managed to reach the finishing line. Oh thank goodness it was over. Why the hell had I agreed to this? Why was God punishing me? What did I do to deserve this? Why couldn't I have been one of the fortunate few who don't have to wage a never ending war on considerable weight gain all through my life.

I had had no interest and motivation in participating in the marathon. I was there because my husband, a hard-core runner since the last year and a part of the freerunners group coaxed me to experience the thrill of running. He had benefitted from it so much that he didn't want me to miss out on it. 



Thus I had relented and taken part; running the 3 kms was a challenge, a big, nasty, scary challenge I was not interested in or motivated to do. But I did it just wanting to experience this new wave of enthusiasm and craze for running that was spreading all over the country especially if Facebook is to be believed. 

Now that was in 2017. Let's cut straight to March 2018 at the same marathon organised by the freerunners. Huffing and puffing again I reached the finishing line but this time I had run an extra 7 kms - a total of 10 kms to be exact. 

Everything had changed in one year. I was running 5 kms daily, trying to increase my stamina, bettering my pace and time which is still pathetically slow and strengthening my body. However, what I realised was that it was more vital for me to strengthen my mind as I went along strengthening my overweight body. 

For an extremely lazy person like me whose idea of a nice entertaining evening is sprawling in front of the TV, munching on toxic and unhealthy snacks, it has been really  tough to put on my running gear, strap on my Garmin watch, pick up a bottle of water and head down to our society club house where my running mates get together everyday to run. Honestly I get anxious when the clock chimes remind me it's time. But I also know if I don't go or take even one day off, my body and my mind will never forgive me.

No excuses no justifications...shut up and run is how I take that step out of the door each evening to go and join my trainer and husband (it was only because we met Cdr Jeetendran Nair, President Freerunners, that I can run today) and my running group. 



And that's how I and my running buddy were able to achieve our target. Our plan had always been to give another passionate running mate company for 10 k but unfortunately she couldn't run and we got stuck with it. But then, we decided to go ahead, got serious. We practiced, convinced ourselves that we could do it and never looked back. 

Our pace, timing, posture, style still leaves a lot to be desired but for me it was a win of epic proportions...a win over my body, a win over my mind, a win over my laziness and inertia and a win over my fears. We were extremely motivated too. Seeing the hordes of women participating gave us the added incentive to not only finish but also better our time. 

I started running only because I wanted to lose weight and remain fit. At 43 I need to force myself and my body to remember that as the years advance I should be fit, healthy, happy and independent. I want to be up and about and active as my 2 boys grow up. I want them to perceive me, their mother as a woman who can take care of herself, her family, her body and mind and as someone who would be there for them always.  And that can only happen if I look after myself thus setting an example for them too. 

I have been exercising all my life, gymming, sports, swimming, cycling and to be frank it was only because I wanted to lose weight and look great. I lost a total of 50 kgs twice before after both my deliveries. I had put on 30 kgs each time and was obese. But even though I was able to lose weight and remain fit, it was running that has changed my life and me. Nothing was as freeing as running. It has not only changed my body but has also freed my mind, taught me a few lessons in humility, perseverance, determination and patience. It has changed me as a person. 

I am a woman who knows now that nothing is impossible if you work hard at it because I have experienced it first hand. Many others like me do it everyday, taking out time from their busy lives and most are even better at it, running half and full marathons like professionals. But I know this, they started like me, slow and steady, and won the race...the race against time, the race against inertia, the race against unhealthy bodies and minds, and the race against themselves. 

And till I can do  that I run and keep running, running away from an unfit life, body and mind. If I can do it you can too...anyone can.

Friday, 9 March 2018

WHY NOT MEN'S DAY?


  

“Today is Women’s Day, Mama, when is Men’s Day?” my 8-year-old asked me yesterday on International Women's Day.

“There is no Men’s Day,” I told him without giving it much thought.

And yes, he did go on to ask me why. It was time to think, now, wasn’t it?

“Well,” I told him, “you see, because women are very important and people everywhere need to respect them and need to be reminded that they should be celebrated.”

“Aren’t women respected? We respect you and love you. You are our mama and the most important person in our lives just as Papa is,” was the prompt reply.

It was time to get serious now. The standard replies weren’t going to be enough for a curious and inquiring mind.

“Yes, but women don’t get importance everywhere and not everyone thinks like you, baby,” I said.

“What do you mean, Mama?”

Fortunately for me, our recent visit to the National Defence Academy, my husband’s (a fighter pilot, in the Air Force, now retired) alma mater, sprang immediately to mind.

“Do you remember, there are no girls in NDA? You had even asked me why there were no girl cadets there. A lot of girls want to join institutions like the NDA but aren’t allowed to. Do you think they should be able to join the defence forces or study or work wherever they want to?”

“Of course, Mama! But why aren’t they allowed to? Who tells them they can’t?”

“Over the years, the society which includes many people, the government, schools and colleges, employers and many such people decided that women should not and would not be able to work as well as men do, so they were not allowed to study, vote, get jobs, be in sports, join the defence services etc. etc.”

“Oh, but you work Mama and you went to school and there are so many girls in my class, but yes, there are no girls in NDA.”

“Like many other women, now, I was able to study, vote and work because of the struggle of a few brave women who also wanted to live a life like mine and the girls in your school. Because they weren’t allowed to, they decided to protest and raise their voices. And, that is why Women’s Day… (it was now time to google) … was first organised by the German socialist and theorist Clara Zetkin along with 100 delegates from 17 countries in March 1911. When it first began, women were demanding that they be given the right to vote - which they received in Britain in 1918 but just last year in Saudi Arabia - to hold public office and to be given equal employment rights as men.”

“Ok then, I got it Mama, I feel sad for you. I don’t know why they did such things then but you can always work and go for running and do whatever you want to do. I will tell Papa too.”

Tearing up, all I could do was give him a big giant hug.

Why the hullaballoo I had been thinking yesterday morning! Aren’t we secure enough in the knowledge of our inner strength that we need to shout it from the top of mountains or in this case buildings? So, we celebrate women only on one day out of all 365 days of the year. Is it Men’s Day the rest of the year? Why the need for a set day to bring to people’s notice that women all over the world need to be cherished and loved. Why the need at all to highlight the fact that women need to be respected and valued. Why is it that we found and still find it difficult to give women equal opportunities, equal pay and most importantly equal respect?

Has the society failed over the centuries to ensure that everyone is to be treated equally without any parity? Yes, unfortunately that’s the truth. That sounds terrible and horribly sad. But, unfortunately, it is true for many many women all over the world, I thought after my conversation with my son later in the day.

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900's - a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. Socialists first put forward the idea of advancing women's suffrage through a day to mark women's enormous contribution to humankind.

Did you know, women are predicted to face another 118-year wait for the gender pay gap to close, with only 55 of the 500 richest people in the world being women?

International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity and after mulling over it and talking to a friend I realised we do need to remind people and society to celebrate the spirit of womanhood.

Is there a better way to call out the misogynists, the chauvinists, the conservatives, the hypocrites than celebrating one day of the year as women’s day? 

Maybe, maybe not. But it is one way of doing it. Gender equality… Women empowerment are the call of the day and there is no two ways about it. That is if we want our children to create a better society and world.

We just need to wake up! Everything else will fall in place. Men and women have to rise above and share the responsibility, be stronger – strong enough to change mindsets, lead by example, educate their families, stop asking for concessions and freebies and special treatment and prove to everyone that they deserve all this attention.

And till that happens, let’s celebrate, commemorate, and honour and cherish!

Monday, 8 January 2018

GOING BACK TO THE KITCHEN

“When my kids came home, there was music, and there were lights on, and there were great smells coming out of the kitchen,” he said. “And it was just a joyful place to be, and that’s what I wanted,” said Rick Moranis opening up about his retirement from movies.
 
                                    


The other day I came across an article on Rick Moranis, the guy I knew from Ghostbusters and Honey! I Shrunk the Kids. Wondering what happened to him after all these years, I read the article. The article mentioned how after his wife’s passing, Rick Moranis fled filmmaking entirely, leaving behind an unimpeachable legacy. He’d been unofficially backing out of Hollywood for several years before that, since the death of his wife to breast cancer, and then suddenly, arguably at the peak of his career, Moranis just … vanished.

He just quit! The article quotes Rick as saying that having had a wonderful childhood himself, he wanted to recreate that for his own kids who had lost their mother.

Wow…how many people can do that. Yes, you might say, he had the means to be at home looking after his kids and didn’t have to work because he needed to earn money but really, even then, how many of you out there can quit a career you are doing marvelously at and earning pots of money too.

There is something to say about that staying at home, making it a wonderful place for the children to grow and thrive in. It certainly struck a chord with me. I am a stay at home mother too but I won’t say I work as a homemaker day and night, cooking and cleaning. I pick up freelance assignments, I work-out, I socialise, I write… while most of the homemaker chores are done by my two trusted shall I say assistants. Now, I have trained them so fine that they really don’t need any supervision and the house runs like a well-oiled machine, at least most of the time. I am more of a delegator and supervisor than a homemaker actually, who does all the back-breaking work herself. The dictionary defines a homemaker as ‘a wife who manages a household while her husband earns the family income,’ and I do just that, manage the house, leaving all the arduous and laborious tasks to my ‘assistants’. This includes, cleaning, laundry, cooking, gardening and so much more all you people know well enough.

A few years ago, I had gone through what I can only describe as a ‘horrid horrid phase’ struggling with myself and my place in the world. And as much as it upset me, it was my family which was the worst affected. But as the cliché goes…each time the sun sets into a dark dark night, it rises to a better and brighter morning.

What helped me out of the dark phase was involving myself in my family and home. I immersed myself in cooking, cleaning, the kids, their school and homework, fitness of the whole family, my work, but more importantly, I kicked off the bad habit of depending on my help. I began by cooking in the mornings for my kids (my kids need 3 tiffins each), my husband’s and my mother in law’s breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, and making the beds.  

Not much, just a small part of the daily chores, but this brought about a whole lot of difference to our lives at home. The children were happy, more helpful, less demanding because it was their mother who was cooking now. I could even involve them in some of the chores at home in the guise of helping me, I could supervise and manage better because I knew what was going on in the kitchen, my husband and mother in law were more accommodating and cooperative too, impressed that I was taking on some of the cooking and cleaning, over and above the tasks of looking after the kids and their needs and my professional work. My husband has never learnt to cook but he makes sure he stands next to me to help me or just give me company. My 8-year-old also has developed a passion for cooking, his favourite being pancakes on Sunday mornings. All of us therefore ended up spending a lot of time together as a family. Simple pleasurable moments…this has all of course brought us closer, helped me get a hold of myself, made me sort out a lot of my issues. I now take pride and delight in the simple things in life.

Many told me that doing these chores at home will soon get old and that they are a big waste of time especially when we have help and that we have more important things to do like going out to work, going to the gym, shopping, partying…but I must admit I have not developed a hatred towards the so called menial tasks I have to do every day. Many others do it…cooking for the whole family before they leave for office and then coming back tired and exhausted but still finding deep within themselves the strength to cook, clean and spend quality time with their kids, all on their volition. While most perform most of their homemaking chores because they have no other choice, there are many who are homemakers because they love making their homes a loving and warm place for their families.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying others who don’t find enjoyment in cooking or cleaning and leave it to their help are doing any less or anything wrong. Everyone needs to find what they want to do and derive satisfaction from it in their own way. I also don't want my boys to grow up thinking a woman's only role is in the kitchen and that they shouldn't have to help out around the house just because their dad goes out to work and I stay at home. Like I mentioned before, seeing me and their dad working in the house has taught them to do their own chores and help out more. I also plan to teach them how to do their own laundry, clean up after themselves and cook, because these aren't inherently female skills.  

What Rick Moranis did for his children was impressive and very rarely done, but there's a lesson for everyone to learn here. Spending lots and lots of time doing regular, everyday things with our children – like making and eating dinner and cleaning up afterwards – isn’t that what enriches our lives and relationships, removes distractions and promotes values.
At least in my experience...  


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Running – A Life Changer


Two months ago I had shared my experiences on becoming a runner and how running has changed my life. Running is just like life, it’s tough and you don’t want to always do it but when you do, its totally worth it. After the pain comes happiness both in life and running. 

Here's another write up on running by a running partner and friend...Anantha Rusum. I hope you enjoy it!

I started running in 2016. Prior to that, I was obese, and was living a stressful life for multiple reasons. Things hit rock bottom, when my father got hospitalised in 2015 May and from then on, his health went on a steady decline. He had to be hospitalised regularly. My husband and I had our platter full with a lot of things, and with two young children, it was becoming increasingly difficult for both of us to cope up with all the stress.                                


Things went downhill when my father passed away in 2016 January. I had lost both my parents within a span of 4 very short years. My stress levels shot up and were far too high to not have any consequences. I began suffering from anxiety attacks, gastric problems and chest pains. After consulting my doctor who advised a Tread Mill Test to check my heart, just 2 weeks after my dad passed away, I became an insomniac. Life was turning out to be a disaster, with things going wrong one after another. It was one of the worst phases in my life.

Feeling suffocated at home, I began seeking ways to escape. I ventured out alone and began going for small walks. I would walk in the mornings, afternoons with the hot sun bearing down on my head at 2’0 clock and nights just to take my mind off things. Less of a walk and more of an escape, I would wander around aimlessly, for at least an hour each time, 3 hours each day. 

Then, one day, I decided to pace up. Instead of a brisk walk, I opted to sprint intermittently. Gradually, this became a norm. Everyday morning, I would wake up by 5:30 AM and start sprinting for an hour. I did this for a few months, and things started taking effect. I was beginning to lose weight and could sleep properly. And most importantly, I seemed to be calming down. When I was running, there were no worries in my mind. And after the run, the head was much clearer. It was working out quite well. I ran alone for almost a year. I could see the results before me slowly taking shape.

In March this year, someone in our apartment complex WhatsApp group, put up a post, saying Captain Subhash Sharma, who is also a part of the FreeRunners group, is willing to coach ladies for running in the evening. As I mentioned earlier I had been running on my own without company or guidance.

Happy at the prospect of some training and company, I went and met Subhash to see what he had to say. There were 8-10 other ladies who were present. He first talked to us about the basics of running and its benefits. And then started us off with warm up exercises. I had been running for a year but these sure were not easy. After the warm ups came the run and then the cool down. 

The first 2 months were very trying. I started off running at my own pace, stopping intermittently and varied my pace based on my capacity. But running continuously needed a far greater effort and determination. Slowly and gradually, Subhash taught us to run 1 km nonstop.  I would run with a water bottle in my hands (my throat would dry up making me cough), and would go out of breath after the first kilometre. I was always the last one to finish the circuit, and was one of the first to be completely zapped out. But as time passed by, my body started cooperating. My first target was to complete two and a half kilometres nonstop. 

The varying exercises for each day, muscle strengthening, hill repeats, fartleks and on other days, a slow and steady run helped me to run better. Gradually, I got used to all the exercises. Albeit at a slower pace, I could then run around 3 Km nonstop.  And as of today, I am able to run 5 Km without stopping anywhere except for a minute pause with a ‘not so bad’ pace. I have lost nearly 14 Kgs. My health issues are more or less settled. I get much better sleep these days.  And am much more at peace. My energy levels have increased and I can contribute a lot more to my family, friends and work, than what I used to do before.

                               



 RUNNING IN A GROUP

Running alone was one thing, but running in a group is completely different. The group energy boosts up a lot of confidence. The person at a faster pace pulls up the person who is running slowly. The first one round is usually a warm up, where we all chatter quite a bit, and catch up on the happenings in our lives on a day-to-day basis. The second round is when we usually pace up. Then we do not talk, we just run. As we run, we hear our footsteps echoing. We like to match it so that they are in sync. We control our breathing, and we usually don’t want to be left alone, so the pace improves automatically. And when we finally finish our rounds, even though we are panting for breath, we are all rejuvenated.

Running has been a game changer in my life. Not that all my issues are still settled, but it helped me look at things in a better perspective. It helped me meet a lot of people with different outlooks. People have noticed the change in me and I have received lots of compliments, the best one from my mentor Subhash. While running in the Free Runners marathon, he being one of the volunteers handing out water bottles to the runners, handed one to me too. I had almost completed 4 KM and nodded a quick no to him. "Remember, just 6 months back you wouldn’t even run a single step without a water bottle," he said to my retreating back. He has been our inspiration and the pillar for our progress. All the women in our group are committed, they make an effort to take that one hour off their hectic daily schedule for themselves. For, it is worth it. 

Most women have to make a lot of adjustments in our life styles because of our families, our children and work. And in due course, somewhere down the line, we lose our focus on ourselves, especially our health issues. It is imperative that we take care of our physical and mental health. So, if you have not started, it is not too late.

Go out into the fresh air and take that one deep breath, go take that first step. Let go of all your worries and start running. Feel your breath. Celebrate the Woman you are. And prove your worth to yourself, your mind and your body – your two best companions in life. They need you to take care of them.