Being a Parent on Day 1 of Trump’s America

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When it started to go bad Tuesday night, I sat on the couch with gathering dread in the pit of my stomach, like millions of Americans. I was sobbing before the deal was sealed, already terrified and angry that it could be that close. The first coherent thought that crystalized within the fog of disbelief and terror was, “Oh my God, how will we tell the kids in the morning?” Continue reading

India Travels and Writing: Why My Real-Time Blogging Plan Didn’t Happen

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“Sometimes the passion of life is happening at too great a volume to be simultaneously regurgitated.”—Amanda Palmer.

I’m fairly new to blogging. I started this one 7 months ago—a move that was way out of my comfort zone but very necessary. Luckily for the people in my life, I am torturing them a little less with long emails now that I have a proper outlet for my writing.   I’ve ignored the abundant blogging advice to avoid writing on multiple topics in favor of a tight focus.   So far, it’s been easy to avoid writer’s block since I’m writing about whatever I want.

That is, until recently when my family and I took our fifth trip to India—our first since I started writing.   Continue reading

Belonging, Where You Least Expect It

IMG_6557By the time we took our most recent trip to India, our fifth, this radically different and magical place had become familiar to me. I am used to the color, the beauty, the tragedy and the chaos. I am used to the horse drawn carts alongside huge top-loaded semi trucks, free roaming livestock, and entire families on motorcycles all together on busy main roads. I am used to seeing roadside barbers and bicycle carts carrying anything you can imagine, including furniture, and the hustle-bustle of the street markets that photos and video can’t capture. I am used to seeing slum shacks and pigs and cows foraging in giant garbage piles in residential areas as women walk by wearing the most beautiful, colorful clothes. My husband no longer gets a sore arm from me hitting it every two seconds, saying, “Oh my God, look at THAT!”   Continue reading

An East-West Love Story’s Strange Beginning

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In 5 days, my husband, our two boys and I leave for India. This is our fifth trip, our third with kids in tow. The picture above is G and I the day we left for our first trip to India together 13 years ago.

As I make lists, run errands, and get out suitcases, scenes from previous trips always play in my mind. This time, that first trip is coming back to me the most. Continue reading

More on Ritual: 6 Favorites that Make Our Lives Better

In my last post, I wrote about a prayer ritual from my husband’s religious tradition that I do every day. Since then, I’ve been thinking more about the role of rituals in my and my family’s lives. It’s kind of funny that I’m writing about this, because I used to hate the word “ritual.” It conjured up vague but frightening images of biblical animal sacrifice. Or something. Either that, or it was synonymous with routine, which I used to equate with boredom and rigidity.  Either way, I had no use for it.

I love the word “ritual” now. This was a gradual change, and I never noticed or thought about it as it was happening.   Without ever planning it that way, I keep adding rituals to my life one by one, and now they are my spiritual container, my guideposts. Initially foreign and even a little bit forced in some cases, with time and repetition, most of them have become part of me now—as comfortable and familiar as a favorite pair of broken-in shoes.   They are reliable reminders to focus on what really matters. On the harder days, they help me hang in there. On the best days, they create more joy in our lives.   Continue reading

The Gift of Ritual

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Sometime during the year after Boy 2 was born, depression snuck up on me. I had experienced several bouts of it since adolescence, but it took a while for me to figure out what was happening since it came on gradually and I had some legitimate stressors to pin it on. Once I finally accepted that it was more than just situational stress, I got some counseling.   Just as important, I thought about lifestyle changes I could make—more exercise, a regular meditation practice, etc.  I was talking with my husband, Gurpreet, about that and he said very definitively, “You need to do prayers.”   Continue reading