Monday, February 29, 2016

It Takes Twenty Seconds

I've often faced the task of trying to push people into some form of action.

Get out of bed in time to come for a Zumba class.

Update that resume so you can get out of that Job you crib about everyday.

Sometimes it gets irritating to play the role of the constantly enthusiastic 'Come on, you can DO it' type of person. But then I remind myself that there have been PLENTY of times in my own life when I've faced that kind of inertia - the kind that keeps you down, negative, complaining and immobilised.

I don't remember exactly when I discovered the 20-second rule - maybe I read about it on a blog or a book or whatever. But it was when I started applying the concept of nudging along my 'activation energy' in the direction I needed to go that things really started to change.

To put it succintly - just make it a little bit easier for you to make a positive change; and a little bit tougher on yourself to continue a negative habit.

I was really surprised to find, over a period of time, that the 20-second rule works. 20 seconds is really all it takes!

So, because I was lazy about practicing my guitar? I brought it into my room instead of where it lay 10 feet away outside of my room's balcony door. Into the room. That's all.

I wouldn't always 'find the time' to do my yoga? So I began to keep my yoga mat in plain sight in a corner of my room.

Who had the time to practice new Zumba choreos? My sport shoes now stayed in the room right next to the music system.

I've definitely done more of the positive ones than the ones that require me to give up bad habits - for example, I'm still liable to press the snooze button on my morning alarm. Should just keep the phone twenty seconds away at night. And I'm still guzzling more sugar than I should. You get the picture. But at least there's a whole bunch of things that I'm able to magically 'fit into' my every day.

Try it yourself. I'd really love to hear if this works for you! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

So it's that time of the year already. I can't believe how fast time flies. It seems only yesterday (well, okay that's just a figure of speech) that I wrote this post for Vijay 'Valentine's? Bah, Humbug!'

February is that kind of month for us - we had my birthday last week and our anniversary next week. Valentine's Day falling smack in between.

Our weekends are always more crazy than our relatively predictable weekdays. Just yesterday, this was our routine -

I woke up, spent a little time with the kids and then jammed off to Zumba class; in the meantime, Vijay was off for his experiments in farming. Since he can only do this during weekends, I'm forced to be understanding about his absence for half-days or even full-days during this time.

But then I realized that little Papad needs attention for his ear, and quickly made appointments at the Hospital with the help of Vijay's sister, who is also a doctor there. And so Vijay rushed back and the two of us were off with little Papad, who happens to think that particular Hospital is a mall and thoroughly enjoys his time there.

We first rushed to meet a doctor who was due to leave in fifteen minutes, and he examined his ear. Except that he couldn't examine anything due to the wax build-up and asked us to come back on Monday after putting in a solution. Then we went to a paediatric surgeon because Vijay's sister was concerned about a bump on his head in which she had noticed that there seemed to be some fluid collection. And then, for good measure, Vijay decided that we should also get the kid's eyes checked out because his eye check up has been due for a while.

'Why don't we get you a room, Papad?' he told our child sardonically. 'Just like a doctor? You can sit there and keep saying 'Next'. And the doctors can come in one by one to see you.'

'Okay' said Papad agreeably. He was looking forward to getting some time at the Hospital Playground.

We went home in time to grab a late lunch but young Peanut informed us that we were supposed to be at her piano recital an hour before time. A whole hour, I groaned. We gulped down our cold lunch and then Vijay and I were on our way, this time with little Peanut between us. She was all nervous, but had taken great care to put on her best dress and looked quite the dainty little princess.

About halfway to the music school, she said 'Uh-oh.'

This was never a good sign. 'What?' I muttered.

'I forgot the music.'

'Ah.' I said through gritted teeth. 'You forgot the music that you are supposed to refer to while playing in the recital - the same music that I just told you before we left that you shouldn't forget?'

'Yes.' said the worried child.

'Don't worry.' said her father soothingly. 'I'll go back and get it after dropping you. No worries at all.' He tried to catch her eye in the rear view mirror.

'Why, why, why are you taking this way?' I squeaked. 'That's the wrong turn, it will take much longer from here.'


So we got late, both Peanut and I cursing the hapless Vijay for taking the wrong way. He dropped us off and then rushed off again and we waited for about forty minutes. In the nick of time, just before they shut the door, announcing they were locking it so that the performers would not be disturbed, there was a little commotion at the back of the room and Vijay burst in, waving the precious three pages.

And so Peanut performed, quite well, I might add. But by the time we got home in the evening, we were completely exhausted. We all just had time to get dinner, put the kids to sleep and then conk off ourselves.

This morning started out no different, with me making it to Zumba just in time and Vijay running off to the farm and coming back with more fresh green vegetables than we know what to do with. It was as he was putting the veggies away, that he said 'Hey, there's a mouse in the trap.'

This particular trap that we've been using is a cruel but effective one - the kind of gumpad on which a mouse gets stuck. We resorted to these when we realized nothing else worked to get rid of the pests and this is one of the downsides of living on the ground floor. My children always run to see them, but I can't stand the sight. The maids just dispose them off.

'Oooh, it's a tiny-weeny one.' said Peanut. 'Come look, ma.'

'No way.' I grumbled. 'Eeyuck.' All the same, this time I went over to look. It was a very small mouse indeed.

Vijay said nothing. I went back to my room and after a while I noticed it seemed rather quiet out there. I was just starting to get worried when the kids burst back into the house, shouting 'Daddy saved the mouse.'

He came into the room to wash his hands, saying gruffly. 'He was so small. Got him off the trap but then he was stuck to the ground. I was worried something would eat him. So I just used some water to wash it off, and after a while, he was okay and he ran away. If he can run, he can save himself. Right?'

He looked at me.

I looked at him.

'I love you, honey.' I said.

Then I sat down to write what is perhaps the first ever Valentine's Day post about hospitals, earwax and rodents.

How did you spend the day?