The art of letting people in

In a previous life, I had a secret baking blog on WordPress. It was called Thoughts and Cakes.  I was young and full of hope of making a life selling cakes and used books. There were silly posts like ‘how to make Mascerpone cheese in an Indian kitchen’ and recipes for Armenian Nazook (I no longer remember what that is) and Nutmeg cake. The blog was doing okay, then after about three years of lurking around I shared it on my social media. People could not’ve been kinder, they said incredibly kind things and shared it with their friends and family and the blog grew overnight. There was only one problem, I simply couldn’t write anymore.

This is what happened. I couldn’t believe the nice things people told me, I was convinced that I was getting away with something and if that blog had continued to live people were going to  figure out that I was a fraud and a fake. So I left it at that point where the people still liked me. Maybe that is a feeling all of us have at some point in our lives to varying degrees.

That was about five years ago, a lot of things have changed in this time, now I have the luxury of walking into a grocery store and buying a tub of Mascerpone but I no longer bake, my beloved camera died and I am much more cynical but it turns out the imposter syndrome still remains the same.

The last few posts have been the ones most close to my heart but it seems like the more honest I get with my writing the lesser and lesser engagement the posts get. Some of you have openly expressed your dislike about the last posts and I am incredibly grateful for that, that is exactly how it should be.  I don’t want you to have my back no matter what. But there is also that part of me that wants to be liked and keep all of you around.

The solution in this case of course was starting another blog and another secret internet life which I have been doing since Feb but that is also going to have the same fate, its just a matter of time. So here I am trying to keep this going. Trying to get a thicker skin and trying to believe there would be a few people around even when I let the guard down. Let’s see how far it goes.

Love,

Jo

PS: Some people who are reading this blog are absolutely not allowed to hate me, you know who you are!

Here is to surviving the holiday season

I might have had some unrealistic expectations about the holiday season this time and they might have sucked. Big time.

milkyway
Just a sketch I made

All the books I were to read, all the stories I were to write, and all the art I were to make still remain untouched. I spent the last three weeks curled up in a blanket drinking chai, watching snow and Netflix, okay a bit more of Netflix than snow.

It also makes me wonder if there were no external pressures, I might spend my whole life trying to escape life, just lazily looking at things drinking tea.

firefly.jpg
Just another sketch I did

2017 is going to be a good year.

I can feel it.

So here is to all of you who survived the holiday season.

Love and hugs

Jo

Maybe it is okay not to be grateful all the time.

It could be worse.

There are people who go to bed hungry every night.

You are lucky, look at all the things you have.

All of the above statements are so very true. Almost all the problems pale in comparison to someone having to live day-in-day-out in hunger. Perhaps, if we were to make a priority list of all the problems humanity has to solve, eradicating hunger should be on the top of the list. Let us say we manage to provide a person living in perpetual hunger with a life where they will never have to be poor or hungry again, would gratefulness be the only thing they then feel their whole life?  Would they be able to get through all the heartbreaking instances of life with that one thought of at least I am not poor anymore? I am grateful that I never had to experience poverty, more grateful than I could ever express through writing. But am I then allowed to be discontented about certain other things?  Racism? Homophobia? Rampant mental health stigma? Sexism?

For me, when I am one hundred percent grateful about something it’s because I like the way the thing or situation is, in other words, I would not want it to change. But there are many things about me that I would like to change and it usually makes me very guilty that I am not always grateful about life.

I got an opportunity to live and study abroad about four years ago, all of my friends and family were very happy for me. A lot of people sent me messages saying they were proud of my achievements. After I finished the master’s program I was offered a PhD position in a national space agency, but then nobody was happy nor proud of me. Because I was 27 years old and marriage should have been the next logical step in my life. The messages I received told me something along the lines of, think of all the girls who did not get an opportunity to go to school at all, here you got the opportunity to study in a foreign country, now that is enough, get married. Yes, I was thankful to have had an amazing opportunity to study at one of the world’s best engineering institutions but was I then wrong to have been discontented about being forced to make a decision I did not want to?

atleastitisntworse
Found here

You know what, I was not.

This argument of always be grateful is usually made in mental health related discussions quite a lot, wherein depression is said as a lack of gratitude. Most of the times it comes from a well-meaning place. The intention might be to make someone aware that everything isn’t as bad as they think it is and there is still hope. But that one phrase dismisses a person’s right to feel bad, and nobody should have to earn their right to feel bad. Now I know how privileged I was to have had an insurance that paid my stay at a psychiatric ward and to have a group of friends who took care of me like family in a foreign country- my mental health is stable enough to appreciate those facts now but it didn’t help to hear it back then.

When someone is going through pain might not be the best time to remind them to be grateful. There is a time to do it when they are better able to appreciate the whole picture, when they have gotten some space from their pain, when they are able to be rational and logical about it, when they can grab a yellow legal pad and make a pro and con list.

Gratitude and discontent can exist hand in hand. We can be thankful about something and discontented about something else. Maybe the magic is finding that balance and it is something we can learn and practice. It always helps to appreciate the big picture and sometimes even to write down all the things that are good in our lives so that we don’t forget them but it is okay not to be like that all the time. Last time I checked we haven’t yet turned to robots, and as long as we have a beating heart we are going to be not grateful from time to time and that is OKAY!

I will leave you with a quote that I absolutely love

gaiman-discontent

Hugs

Jo

Footnote: Madelyn left a comment and I thought it is important to share it here.

YES! “Gratitude and discontent can exist hand in hand.” Important point and great post.

Those “positivity purveyors” have missed the point of gratitude entirely, IMHO. It’s not designed to be denial’s handmaiden. It’s a technique for helping us weather our storms by encouraging us to focus on what we *can* be grateful for – *after* we’ve acknowledged the fact that sometimes things just suck (without measuring it by degrees in comparison to anyone else challenges and sorrows).

AND, it is not kind in the slightest to attempt to drag somebody over the positivity line when what s/he needs is a loving ear to listen while she pours her heart out. It’s not THEIR job to remind you to be grateful – you’ll get to that all by yourself when the time is right – if they’d only commiserate or be silent.

Would they overstep a mother’s grief after the death of a child, encouraging her to be grateful for the ones she has left because some people aren’t even able to conceive? SAME THING.
xx,
mgh
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
– ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
“It takes a village to educate a world!”

A sketch of my favorite bookshop

readery

I have mentioned this bookstore and its co-owner L in many  of my previous posts. She is publishing her first book in December and to celebrate that fact I did a sketch. It was just supposed to be the store, but as overcomplicating things have become sort of second nature to me, it ended up looking like that!!

Tell me what you think?

Have a good Thursday y’all

Love

Jo

11 random facts about me and an award

Michelle from Forest city Bookworm nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger award and I am super happy. It means a lot coming from a fellow bookworm and it really is reassuring, especially because I have been thinking of shutting the blog down. Thank you so much, Michelle, it means a lot, virtual hugs are on your way.

Here are the rules

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

sunshine-award

 

1. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

Jo is totally not my name, it is not even remotely similar to my real name. I am a pretty insecure writer and hence hiding behind a fake name helps a bit to shush the inner critic. The idea of settling down is very scary for me, I would like to think of having the possibility of a future where I can keep hopping from place to place learning things on the way just like a tumbleweed and hence the name Jo the Tumbleweed 🙂

2. Do you prefer ebooks or physical books?

Hard-bound books, paperbacks, audiobooks, and then e-books. Preference in that order, but anything with words would be okay 😀

3. What’s your ideal pizza?

I hate pizza, sorry but I really do.

4. What’s your favorite childhood book?

I wasn’t a book-loving child, didn’t start reading outside of school until 13. The first book that got me hooked was The Harry potter series,  and it will always be so very special to my heart ❤

5. What cheers you up?

A Gilmore Girls marathon, yellow shoes, and beaches

6. Are you an introvert or/and extrovert? 

Introvert absolutely. All about warm tea, rain, books, cozy couches, and staying in.

7. What’s the last book you read that you simply could not put down until you finished?

The graveyard book. Neil Gaiman is a wizard.

8. If your life was a movie, which actor/actress would play you?

The name of the movie would be The perks of being a wallflower without a doubt but my life  is not at all like Charlie’s and can I get Penelope Cruz to play me? 😀

9. Which is the longest book/anime/TV series you’ve read/watched and how long is it?

Longest book was 1Q84 I guess.

10. If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

There is a layered flatbread  we get in my home state in India, its called porotta-absolutely delicious, pair it with beef stir fried with spices, shallots, and coconut flakes and I am in food heaven.  Not at all a healthy option..but dear God I am hungry now!!

11. What’s your favorite book genre?

Historical fiction, that is how I learn the world. Right now on a WW2 reading spree.

My questions

  1. Where do you feel most at home?
  2. Have you ever read a book and thought “this character is a lot like me”, if yes, which one?
  3. What book are you reading right now?
  4. How are you today?
  5. Tell me one of your favorite songs?
  6. Do you prefer phone calls or texts?
  7. What do you like the most about blogging?
  8. Do you prefer traveling alone or with people?
  9. Is there one specific thing that you are really passionate about or are you curious about a lot of different things?
  10. Tell me one thing that you always wanted to learn but never got a chance to?
  11. What are some things that make you happy?

I am going to nominate five (sorry about breaking the rule) fellow bloggers who inspire me for a variety of different reasons.  I don’t know what your policy on awards is and please don’t feel obligated to accept. Just wanted to tell you how much your blogs mean to me.

The coffee bean brain– I absolutely love this blog. Her writing is really heartfelt, honest, and funny. I am an intuitive reader and most of the times I cannot explain why but her posts resonate with me quite a lot

Kate– Kate supports us newbie bloggers and it is inspiring to see her do that, I have come across a lot of exciting blogs because of her. Thanks Kate

Anam– She is another fellow book nerd. Very young but with a razor sharp worldview, there is an innocence in her writing voice that I simply love.

Nina– Nina’s blog has encouraged me quite a lot to share my struggles with BPD. Her writing is bold but not imposing, she does not shy away from discussing uncomfortable topics and whatever topic she picks, she does so much justice to it.

Vrushali– Another young blogger. Multitalented book-nerd. You should really check out her art on Instagram, it is brilliant.

Thanks again Michelle.

Love

Jo