October is a happening month for me. There are festivals and birthdays (including my own) plus everything that needs my attention on any given day. Sometimes we are exhilarated by the events while at other times depleted by the demands of daily life.
Here are three reminders to keep in mind for the festival season:
- Connect with prayer – to the divine and to those around you
The nine-day Navratri festival that celebrates the divine feminine in different ways in different parts of India has just ended. It is a time for
🍲Fasting and feasting
❤ Gathering, dancing, dressing up
I love these nine days despite all the extra things that fall on my plate. As a child I enjoyed traditional celebrations, and later put in the effort required to make this festival a memorable one for my children.
However, at this point, even though my children have grown and flown, I continue to do what I have always done because I ENJOY IT.
Festivals as markers of time and season
Life tends to get monotonous.
Days turn to weeks and then months. And you wonder, is it October already?
This is especially true if you live in a place without a change of seasons. In Singapore, the world outside doesn’t give you any clues about the passage of time.
How do we mark special days then?
Through special activities. Of course, we can mark birthdays and anniversaries, but communal celebrations have a different cadence.
Whether it’s done in groups or alone, prayer has been a way for me to temporarily lay down my burden and seek divine intervention. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.
Right now, I am seeking a non-invasive, painless solution for a persistent cough and a recent blister on my foot!
Is prayer just a wishlist sent out into the universe?
I am aware that all the answers and guidance I am seeking does not come purely from my logical mind. Sometimes I am inspired. Or led to a novel solution well outside my thinking zone. Or put in touch with the right person far from my sphere of influence who can help me.
Have you ever had this kind of experience?
Times when you had to shake your head and admit that was happened was way out of the realm of the ordinary. Serendipity? Or perhaps a response to a prayer?
Faith is a funny thing. It holds out the option of surrender when everything else has failed.
I wrote this sentence in my book, Rewriting My Happily Ever After while describing the peace I felt while listening to the priests chanting Vishnu Sahasranamam at a temple in Hydearbad. Life was difficult during that time. I was confused. It seemed as if the chaos and indecision would swallow me.
Yet, that hour in the temple would transport me to a better state of mind.
Now, when I attend Lalitha Shasranamam chanting sessions during Navratri, I am energised by the environment, the sheer power of women collecting together for a common cause. Today it is for a festival. But tomorrow we can support a cause close to our heart.
Prayer helps us connect. Sometimes with the divine and sometimes with those who are right here.
The first reminder is to take a moment to experience the essence of prayer through connection.
2. Creativity is a way to amplify your life, there is no competition with anyone else
As I add my voice and presence to celebrate the divine feminine during Navratri, I see examples of how women are limited by their conditioning.
Let’s take a look at creativity and all the forms in which it manifests. Which of these describes you?
🎻🎨Do you draw, paint, sing or play an instrument?
🍲Are you a wonderful cook?
🏠 Do you set up your home in a manner that always brings you compliments?
👩🥻Are you creative about how you dress up?
✍️ Do you share your thoughts through prose and poetry?
🪡 Are you energized by crafts projects and building things?
These are just some of the areas in which women excel.However, so many of us rarely follow through on these avenues as a source of consistent joy.
Because we are afraid of criticism. Perhaps it’s the perfectionist in us. Or the part that feels we are not good enough. Or that others may not be interested in what we have to offer. Or worse, we will be criticized for it.
Creativity is an outward expression of your inner abilities and desires. There is no competition. There is no prize.
In the last week I have seen many expressions of creativity in the homes of friends. From delicious food, to eye-popping decor, from beautifully put together appearances, to creative offerings, I am thrilled and humbled by the many manifestations of creativity.
We don’t need to shrink and accept a smaller space because we don’t feel we deserve. We need to be honest to ourselves first and show up authentically in the world.
Yet, I am guilty of not showing up authentically in areas where I feel I am lacking, or not perfect or simply not ready. While hesitation is OK, it should not be for fear of criticism.
The second reminder is that a creative life is an amplified life. Own your creations. Share them widely and without fear.
3. Be like Goldilocks
Do you tend to go overboard?
Navratri 2022 has been a wonderful motivator for me but also a reminder to keep myself in check.
Like many of my peers, I have a tendency to go overboard. I believe that enthusiasm is an underrated quality.
I am naturally enthusiastic (about most things, but there are areas of my life where I deliberately remain unmoved), I prefer to hangout with others who share the same quality.
👍The upside is that life is never boring. There is always something interesting going on in someone’s life and whether I participate in it or not, I am carried along by the happy wave of doing something with zest.
👎The downside is that there is ALWAYS something going on and oftentimes, there is a tendency to go overboard.
Particularly with festivals and gatherings, there is too much food, too many arrangements to make, too many schedules to coordinate.
It can get overwhelming very quickly.
📚I came across “The Little Book of Lagom” at the library. Lagom is a Swedish concept which refers to a lifestyle choice of choosing balance, modesty, unfussiness and contentment.
It reminded me of Goldilocks – not too much, not too little, but just right.
Some call it balance.
Some prefer harmony.
I call it the sweet spot.
A hypothetical place where everything you are involved in is in the right proportion.
“Lagom can be worked into every aspect of life” says the book which has several ideas on how it can be practically applied to our everyday life – using sustainable resources, eating healthy, creating a work-life balance that is uniquely suited to you, all the while keeping in mind the impact of your choices not only on yourself but also on the word around you.
We tend to think that our choices as individuals are of little consequence to others. But that is not true, every word we say, every action we take, every path we choose to walk on, creates a ripple that has the power to affect others.
The third reminder is to make sure that you engage in activities that ‘just right’ for you – both in the what you choose and how much of it you want to do.
Don’t get swayed by what others are doing.
👱♀️Be like Goldilocks!