After spending $$$$ for 2 summers since we bought a house, my husband decided to buy a lawn mower last summer. The Ryobi electric rear engine mower. It drives like a race car, only slower ;). Hubby had fun mowing the lawn and saving money last year. It also gave him a chance to spend time outside in fresh air. This year however the task of mowing our lawn fell in my hands as his work travel increased. At first, I tried to convince him to sell the mower and get someone to do the job. But it didn’t fit in the budget and I realized I ought to give it a try.
My first lawn mowing experience felt like I had bugs crawling all over my body. I liked being outside but the phobia of spiders, ticks and other insects around kept me from enjoying the fresh air. While mowing the front lawn for the first time, I realized some of the cut grass was falling off. I called my husband and found out that this was bad for the lawn as it blocks sunlight and kills the grass. I felt irritated with the task and the fact that I had zero tips on fixing my mess. He asked me to check a few things before giving up. I did and rest of the mowing was a breeze. The task of emptying the bags filled with cut grass was tiring but the crisp air and smell of earth felt refreshing. From then on lawn mowing wasn’t difficult until today. We missed 3 weeks of mowing and of course the grass had grown (even though we begged for it to stop 😉 ). Rains didn’t help either.
So, this week when the sun was out on Friday evening, I tried to mow our back lawn. I had to open the mower and clean out the grass 3 times before giving up for the day. I waited until today to see if the grass would dry. Sun was shinning brightly when I woke up and after making some coffee, I went out to check the grass. To my disappointment, it was wet. I decide to wait until afternoon. During my kid’s nap time, I went outside and started on the job. After just 1 round in the back lawn my mower was shedding grass instead of moving it to the collection bags after slicing it. I opened the pipe and blade assembly and with no doubt started cleaning the build up. I reminded myself to count the number of times I had to do this tedious task. It involved removing the pipe, throwing the grass stuck in the pipe and around the blade into the collection bags and re-attaching everything. I wanted to let me husband know how much hard work this involved (My way of saying I will not mow the lawn ever again if possible :D). Again I felt the irritation building up. Why did I have to do this. Why couldn’t we just get someone to do this job. And then the reasoning came back. We had the best mower and most of the time it involved just sitting on it and enjoying the surroundings while working. It wasn’t that bad.
Then I remembered the power ladder reviewed recently in one of the colleague resource group seminar at office. The power ladder reminded me to accept the fact that this was my task and I had to own it and solve it. So, once I accepted it, I became curious as to why the grass was getting stuck in the mower blades at all. “It is wet. It has grown to a length where sunlight isn’t reaching the bottom” came the answer. I started listening to the machine. I heard the changing sounds of the blades while moving on the grass and realized it made a dragging sound when something was stuck. I was using my brain and natural instincts rather than reading about it on the internet. I stopped, cleared the blades and pipe assembly again and started mowing. I also came up with the plan of dividing the back lawn into 2 parts rather than trying to cover a large area. At least that way I could finish half the task if I got tired in between or if the mower battery gave up. I also experimented with the blade height in the areas of high growth where the blade was getting stuck. It helped tremendously. At the same time, I started cleaning just beneath the blades instead of removing the assembly that I had already attached and re-attached 6 times. This helped clear the area around blades faster. Finally, I did mow our lawn today and felt accomplished. I didn’t feel insects crawling over me as I had literally rubbed my hands inside the mower pipes and blade assembly. I felt comfortable with the nature. Thanks to my lawn mower. Funny ain’t it :D.
Ryobi lawn mower:
The pipe and blade assembly pic:
The collection bags:
Second half of the lawn to be mowed:
Everyone revers saints. In Jainism, a person taking Deeksha (Vow of celibacy) is considered a supreme human being. They are respected for leaving the Samsara. But come to think of it, it seems to be an easy path. Once you become a monk, you are committing your life to achieving enlightenment. Your own enlightenment, peace of mind. On the other hand, people living in this world go through various tasks of maintaining relationships, keeping jobs, raising children etc. So many roles to play, so many emotions taking a toll on you. Sometimes, it feels like you are going through your own personal hell.
I started wondering, how can we common people achieve that peace of mind that saints achieve. We might gather courage to take the vow of celibacy but does it really make sense for us. Who are we kidding. Even in our own selfish way we love our family, like our lifestyle, earning money and spending on material things. Deeksha is not for everyone. So, I started looking for meditation related audio books. My mind was telling me that I would doze off within first few minutes.
A few searches later, I found “Bodhisattva mind” by Pema Chodron and was in for a surprise. Never have I had so much fun listening to a monk. Pema is a Buddhist teacher, monk helping people take control of their minds. She has this honest, sarcastic, funny way of teaching. She captures your heart and mind instantly. As you listen to her you realize how stupid we are and how foolishly we spend a lifetime creating wars within our minds. While explaining one of the Buddhist verses, she says, “Imagine you have a wild elephant inside your mind and it’s on a rampage. Not just that, it’s pooping all over your mind. That’s what wild mind does to you”. That’s her way of explaining a negative mind. A negative mind is someone who is unconscious of their thoughts and actions. Just like me.
There were days when I would wake up and feel irritated about something. Something negative that might have occurred few days or weeks ago. My mind would remember it and get wired to negativity in seconds. I hated it. So, I started practicing Pema’s teachings. After waking up, I would concentrate on my thoughts. I took deep breaths to let irksome thoughts go and remind myself to be PRESENT. It sounds easy but it’s not and I often forgot about my resolution for the day. It took a lot of time to remember and practice and I still have a long way to go (10 years for a beginner as per Pema :)). Practicing her teachings made me realize what light as a feather literally feels like and it feels like being re-born. All humans should try it ;).
Below is the list of Pema’s books I liked:
- Bodhisattva Mind
- Don’t bite the hook
- Getting Unstuck
Every new year I see people excited, making plans for the new year’s eve and goals for next year. I was a similar happy camper until my parents passed away. Now, on the last day of the year, first thought that comes to my mind is “Another year they will not be able to see”. In the next thought, I am reminded of my own mortality. The new year is part of my life and my initial thought only applies until I live. It feels a little scary to question ourselves – “Is this going to be the last year of my life?” Then a moment of courage immerges saying “If it is, I want to die with no regrets”.
So, this year I promise myself to have 365 days of happiness. I pledge to,
- Be more present in the current moment of life instead of technology.
- Concentrate more on positive moments/experiences of life so my brain can recollect them often instead of their evil twin :-).
- Improve contact with family and friends.
Not a big list but an important one to remember in this fast paced world.
HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!
“The most painful goodbyes are the ones never said and never explained” – By someone.
In my 32 years of life, I have seen my two mothers (Mother and grandma) die of lung disease. I lost my father suddenly when my daughter turned 6 months old. Loosing the people who brought you up is heartwrenching. This year brings another death in our family. My uncle passed away today. He was suffering with multiple problems from past few month and was in ICU kept alive by a ventilator machine. He was a healthy person who started a third career as a manager at a relative’s office after retirement. He had been a business man all his life. Owned textile factories in his 30s and setup his own business with a famous Indian brand wholesale agency in his 50s. After retirement he couldn’t sit at home and started working again. He had a good life living with his family (wife, son, daughter-in-law, father). He used to go for walks every day with my aunt.
Suddenly,one day he fell sick with diabetes, jaundice, later with infection and then lung fibrosis. All these problems arose in a span of 4 weeks. It was like someone had pulled the trigger on his life.
Ever since the doctors confirmed that there was no hope left for him, I started thinking about life and death. What is the purpose of life? Everything new born thing is fragile at start, gets stronger with age, starts withering after a while, becomes fragile again and dies. This is the circle of life for every being on Earth. A constant relationship exists between life and death from the moment we are conceived. Sometimes, external forces play a role in the start of our affair with death. But an affair it is when our time is up. We have so many to dos in our life’s list that we forget the actual purpose of life- To LIVE HAPPILY. So, why don’t we accept the fact, ignore life’s to do list and just have two to dos that is to be Happy and take care of our health.
As my husband says, life is a paradise when we are happy :-).
I thought about this a lot – Should I spend money on a smart watch? Is it worth it? What would be the benefits of owning a smart watch? Like a phone, a watch isn’t a necessity. It’s just a nice to have. There are cheap smart watch options available on Amazon to get phone calls and text alerts. But if you are spending money you might as well go for a good model with additional features like fitness, gps and much more.
As I was interested in owning a wearable device, I tried pebble time first. Pebble’s price range seemed reasonable. The simple interface of pebble, the ease of setup, sleep and fitness monitoring were likable. But the lack of speaker phone and functionality to answer phone calls were a turn down. My main reason for trying out a smart watch was to refrain myself from using iPhone in front of my 2yr old who has acquired an affinity for phones. You could argue that if a toddler can learn how to use a phone and open YouTube by themselves, they can surely figure out any smart device. That would be correct but the tiny display on smart watches isn’t something that catches their eye much.
I have been using Apple Watch for over a month now. The integration of watch with iPhone and life feels seamless. I don’t have to hold on to my phone unless I want to send long messages or make phone calls in private. For most part of the day, I forget I am wearing the watch. Tap notifications are a reminder. It took some time to remember that I can look at the time on my wrist instead of the computer or phone :-).
The watch has helped me set fitness goals. Every week I set a calorie, exercise and stand goal for each day of the coming week. You get reward badges for various achievements from going over your goal to achieving a new maximum. It has helped me exercise more. GPS taps are a plus although it takes some time to get used to it. For most part, my hands feel free from having to hold something (My phone) all the time.
One hesitation I had before buying the watch was the attachment we have to our phones now-a-days. There isn’t a place where we don’t take our phones with us. I should say most of us. So, my concern was that this addiction of being connected will increase with the watch. Not quite so. I hardly check my phone for messages or call alerts. I know the ever so helpful Taptic Engine will alert me as soon as they are delivered. The most used app on my phone now is kindle.
Often I have made phone calls from my wrist while cooking, walking towards the car or doing laundry. It’s just so easy and feels like the technology is invisible. We are in the future NOW.
Another year has gone by and a new one is beginning in few hours. The first thing that comes to my mind every year end is that my parents won’t be able to see it. Every new movie that comes out and makes me laugh, touches my heart or just makes me happy, I feel my parents missed seeing that movie. When my daughter says a new word, sings, dances or does anything new, I feel they missed seeing their grand daughter and their daughter (a mom now) grow up. Then, a hard thought hits me – “My time is running out” and my mind goes through a flashback of all the moments that I wasted with negative emotions and energy during the whole year. The thought that follows is that I missed taking care of my health during the year and next year health should be my focus. And that’s how all the new year resolutions start building up. As I go through a list of new year resolutions I try to remember if they were on my list last year but I don’t seem to remember if I made any resolutions for the year that just ended. Finally, I decide not to make any resolutions.
But, somehow my mind cannot settle for a new year without resolutions. So, this year my resolution is going to be – “Just relax, be happy, no negativity”. Hopefully, I can make this into a habit and remove it from the list altogether 😄.
What goes through your mind at the end and start of a year?
A creative mind never sleeps. Every moment, it keeps thinking of ways to capture, create and innovate. A photographer’s mind wants to capture all that their eyes see transforming it into pictures that live forever. A painter takes blank canvas and covers it with breathtaking beauty. An artist is connected to creativity through passion.
Above picture was taken at the cog railway station in North Conway, NH. I am adding this picture for the daily photo challenge of “Connected” because riding the wooden train with steam engine made me feel connected to travel in 18th century.