WORK FROM HOME – A LUXURY OR AN AUSTERITY?

Ever since the lockdown began, things seemed a little upsetting. For me, it was just a complete stop to the new beginning of my office going. as I was just getting used to the environment at work almost after 10years of being at home. But again work was normal to me as I have been freelancing for a while but going to the office and being with my colleagues was a fun time. Thanks to the lord that i am always surrounded by happy people who keep me at joy.

But again, Everything is a blessing in disguise.

Lockdown and back to work from home did have lots of pros for me as a mom, and a woman as such. There were those times when I hardly took care of myself and every day was a marathon for me. And indeed the new job thing was also taking up my time with my kids, family and my besties. Now with my travel time saved, I kind of profited extra time which I surely get to use in plenty.

I also started working out much more and also took time to be with my kids. Things never seemed to be complex amidst work and life balance for me. Even though at times I do feel exhausted and lost (obvious mood swings), I still feel this is PERFECT!!.

I started to focus on my writing and even reading too. I helped my children to get to read more and also enjoyed my “Me-time” as well as my “buddy-time” which was almost negligible then.

There are also things which are not in our control like work-wise the expectations lay more specific as we have no excuses to make or run away from work. But again, here I feel blessed as my work is my passion, hence it never took my mind off.

Everything seemed to change, but some things never changed, like;

  • everyone around me asking for one more dosa, when I am in a hurry to finish my kitchen work and get to work,
  • asking for attention, when I am lost in work…
  • asking for specials to cook, when I am exhausted…
  • asking for an extra walk, when my legs are aching to take a break…
  • asking for the long story at bedtime, when I am in love with the bed, who is cozily rolling me into sleep.
  • the alarm that goes beeping, when these winter nights are for sleeping.
  • the morning rush, even when I am on a holiday, as others are not…

I know these things will never change, even if its work from home or not. All I need to change is my attitude towards it.

And all will look PERFECT as I wished for.

DON’T LET THE BEAUTY OF YOUR REAL BE ROBBED BY YOUR VIRTUAL

There is a guy who had lost his lower limbs from childhood. He can’t walk around, run or works like all others who have legs. He was depressed all the time, isolating himself in a corner of his house. But his life changed since his uncle gave him a VR Set. He now can not only walk now but can even run, climb and kick people on their butts… all virtually. But he is happy, satisfied with what he got.

A low self esteem, introvert, not so good looking girl… she was unable to make friends in her school even during her college time so she spends time in loneliness and depression in a corner of her room. Parents are disturbed for her. She loves to read books but how long will she read books. Her Papa recently gave her a new laptop. Her life changed. She got the taste of facebook. She doesn’t have much friends in real so she created a fake account with a beautiful avatar to her profile, She got friends, many friends… not only girls but also guys… she is now happy and engrossed to her screen… to her world of virtual friends.

A man who was engaged to a beautiful girl but was rejected and denied later on for some reasons… He was angry, frustrated and was suicidal. He was in front of his screen…surfing. He found a new dating site. He logged in to try and found many girls and their beautiful proposals… He got hooked to one and became friends… Now they have updated their statuses as “in a relationship” and romancing… all only on virtual. But he is not suicidal anymore…

A married woman is frustrated sexually because her husband has work all the time. He stays away in the names of work. She doesn’t have scope to go outside much as she had to look after her children, her in laws, cook etc. But her husband had given her a new Samsung A7. In her facebook profile she keeps on updating her beautiful pictures… there were many strangers who send friend requests and she accepts few seeing their profiles… And one profile was making her go crazy. She enjoys chatting with her… and so on…  Her frustrations and deprivations were satiated to certain extent virtually…

The list of stories like this can go on and on…

I have observed an astounding fact about those who have online identities. My study says those who are physically active in different works either professionally or with some other purposes are less likely to use social networking sites. And those who are sick, depressed, introverts, self pitied, handicapped or vulnerable in any manner are more likely to be having a virtual profile for themselves in these networking sites. I knew this because I am one of them. I was trapped in this net when I first came to Kolkata in 2001. I was all alone, extremely bored and my physical immobility made me to be addicted to Yahoo Messenger. I was introduced to this world by a cousin though… I was a naïve completely then. But once I came to know about it I became an expert of it…  Then came Friendster.com, Myspace.com, Orkut.com and finally the king of social networking sites Facebook came and booked my face for the web though lately whatsapp took over everything that you can find on this earth. But they all literally captured some part of my real life which was not a good thing at all in the long run which I realized much later.

I did a bit of research further on virtual world before writing this article. I came across an article or two from which I want to quote few lines which will make us understand the negative effects of virtual life…

1. Emotional Wounds

What happens in cyberspace does not necessarily stay in cyberspace. The emotions and feelings of intimate contact felt in VR will be carried over into the real world. So if a partner is being “unfaithful” online, the emotional consequences and impact on their existing relationship are clear.

Are we about to redefine the rules of fidelity itself? What counts as cheating for one person may not be for another. However, studies show that the impact of online infidelity is likely to be the same as that of physical affairs.

2. Physical Injuries

Many experts predicted that 2016 would be the year that Virtual Reality or VR would finally “take off” or “explode”. Why is it then that everyone isn’t jumping on the VR bandwagon and hailing it? Is it because of the worry, as CNBC poised in this thought-provoking article, that the health risks being ignored? Are the health risks really that worrying? The side effects of virtual reality that cause most of these qualms are virtual reality sickness/cybersickness, probable damage to the eyes and physical injuries.

Apart from the above two major negative effects there are many other negative effects like, intrusion in our private lives, social isolation,  destroying relationships, chances of losing reputation, negligence in work life and family life, makes people lazy and irresponsible, decreasing productivity and takes away the life’s survival skills. 

Last two days I tried my best to stay away from Whatsapp and I found out I didn’t loose my friends, I didn’t miss out important information at all, I was not barred from my friends’ friend lists but I could do lot of work that were pending around me, I could concentrate on few of my household as well as official works and it also gave me a sense of maturity and satisfaction.

Recently, one of my friend gave her number to be in touch with on Whatsapp but warned me not to expect her to be much active on it. I assured her to contact her only when I need an article from her.   

Are you a captive of social networking sites? Don’t be… Don’t get robbed off of your peace which you can have in your real life around you…

Stay Balanced! Stay Blessed!

OUR MOST TREASURED MOMENTS ARE WITH OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family is our cocoon. Family gives us strength. And our friends are our life line. Our life is very colourless without friends. Both are very essential part of our life. But at times in this fast paced life we get a feeling that we are being pulled in multiple directions. And we end up giving more importance to only one aspect of our life.

Let’s take an example, on one end of the spectrum is Sukriti. She is a working professional. She has set sight on some lofty professional goals. And rest of her time goes in tending to the needs of her husband, kids and extended family. But then this leaves her no time for letting her hair down with her friends. And leads to frustrations.

And on the other end of the spectrum is Nikita and Sunil. They are a very social couple and have many friends. Almost every weekend they are out with friends or they are entertaining at home. But slowly this led to too much interference of the friends in their household matters and lead to rift between Nikita and Sunil.

And there is a third scenario, like in the case of Ruma and Ritesh. Ruma is a very outgoing kind of girl and Ritesh is an introvert. Ruma always wants to plan movie or party or picnic with her friends and wants Ritesh to accompany. Whereas Ritesh is highly uncomfortable in this kind of a group. His idea of chilling out is relaxing at home in front of the TV.

Are any of these situations familiar to you? Have you ever been in a similar situation. The resolution of this problem is a family and friend balance.  Few suggestions from my side to attain this balance:

  1. Screen your calls. Decide the time you will give to your friends. If your friends are always calling you when you are getting your little one ready for kindergarten then please tell them that you are available only in certain time slots. If they are really your friends they will surely understand. Don’t try to juggle both… You will end up messing up both.
  1. Remember all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So please take time out for that girl’s night out. Occasionally we all need to let our hair down and just chill. So please make time for spending some awesome moments with your friends away from the responsibilities and duties. It is a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
  1. Plan activities that the family can do together. Family time is very precious specially with the kids growing up. Soon they will fly away and we will have an empty nest. Family dinner tradition is usually part of all our childhood memories. Similarly we have to create beautiful memories for our children too.
  1. Husband and wife should respect each other’s nature and requirements. We are different individuals with different outlooks in life. An understanding can always be achieved by talking and doing something for our loved ones. I mean once in a while even if we don’t like outings with a friend we still go as it gives happiness to our spouse. And sometimes we just curl up on the sofa in front of the TV and spend a relaxing weekend with our better half watching movies. Don’t let outsiders have too much say in your family matters.

“Nature chooses our family and we choose our friends”. And they both hold an important place in our life. As we have been reading this whole week life is all about a happy balance between work, family and friends. So guys don’t let it tip too much on one side. And enjoy…

WOULD YOU OPT FOR PRINCIPLES OR RELATIONSHIPS?

What do you think – ‘are relationships made to upkeep principles’ or ‘are principles made to keep relationships in place’? Let me make it a bit easier – ‘Does the sun rise so that we can call it daytime’ or ‘we call it daytime because the sun rises’? Well, it’s both, actually! We cannot exactly get into a cause-effect relationship in such things because they are interdependent on each other. One cannot thrive without the other.

Relationships are bound by principles and flourish if the principles are adhered to.

Think of a newly married couple all set to start their journey together. For the couple to enjoy their marriage and live together in nuptial bliss they need to adhere to certain principles like – fixing the timing to come and go out for work, the time they need to spend with each other, they social circles they would maintain and those they would have to let go, the habits they would want to inculcate and the habits they would want their partner to live with, finances, leisure-time habits, ethics, and endless goes the list. Of course, these need not be water-tight do-or-die rules! Nevertheless, the sanctity of adhering to these principles would lead to the couple to enjoy their marital life.

So far so good.

Think with me…

A situation arises in which the man has to choose between abiding by the principles which would cause him to put the relationship (here, his marriage) at jeopardy, and forgoing his principles to save his relationship. What would be the ideal thing to do?

Tough situation, right?

What would he gain to be called an ideal man, but have lost his marriage/family? His marriage/family intact, would he survive the guilt and consequences of compromising his principles, if he chooses to hold on to them?

Choosing between ‘relationships’ and ‘principles’ has always been difficult. But, before we choose to stand by our principles, we need to be sure if our principles themselves are true (and not faulty). Rules vary from place to place. Norms vary from culture to culture. And that makes things tricky.

But, let me tell you one thing – just as we all agree without bating an eye that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west – similarly, the standards set by the Creator for His creation are universal. Adhering to such absolutist standards helps keep relationships intact while keeping principles in place.

Of course, in extreme cases one has to have a tough pick. To give instances, an Army General whose child has been kidnapped by extremists can hope to see his child alive only if he takes sides with the extremists. Relationship (parental love) or principle (loyalty to the job)? Taking bribe would fund the surgery of an ailing spouse. Relationship (love for spouse) or principle (faithful to the job)?

Next time when in doubt how to balance relationships and principles or which to choose over the other, ponder for a minute as to what God would want you do. Therein lies the key to the balance.

Adhering to principles often cost relationships, but are eventually rewarding. Wise discernment is a must!

PHEW! WORK AND FAMILY AND ME…

8:45 am already! 2 year old Parth is still crying, his mom Roma is getting nervous about her meeting at 10 am. Will she be able to make it? Her mom in law is trying to help, but Parth’s screams are only getting louder. “Parth will also go with Mumma” – that’s all she can make out in between the screams.  

5:30 pm already! This report needs to get done today at any cost – she knows. But if she doesn’t leave now – Parth is going to be quite upset. “Will the report get done today, Roma?” – Her boss just interrupted her thought. “Yes, you will get it in your inbox by midnight. I need to rush now.” – She says while shutting down her laptop. 

10 pm already! Ok, so dinner is done, kitchen is clean, Roma’s husband is back. So she can probably take a deep breath now. But Parth is no mood to sleep. “I need to get him tired” – she thought. “Take your ball, Parth. We will go downstairs and play”. A moment of happiness comes in when she sees him so thrilled. They play downstairs for about half an hour and by now he is quite tired. Milk is ready, so her husband now puts Parth to sleep.   

11 pm already! Roma opens her laptop and gets on the report. In an hour, it is done. Just when she is about to close her laptop, a mail from her nutritionist drops in – Roma, please limit the intake of coffee to just one cup a day. Also you need to stop skipping your lunch – it is not healthy. Your carb intake is higher and I notice that you haven’t worked out since last one month. Can we have a quick chat tomorrow about your progress? 

Well, with no energy left to think about her food and workouts – she goes off to sleep. “I will deal with this tomorrow” 

6 am already! Next day morning, she wakes up and first thing she steps on the weighing scale with her fingers crossed. 1.6 kgs more than last month and she feels like crying. She looks at herself in the mirror and notices that those dark circles are getting prominent and her body needs a visit to the beauty parlour badly. 

This is isn’t an uncommon story. In fact, it is very similar to my story. Everyday people struggle with managing their work pressures against family pressures and their own health and other hobbies. In India, Mothers get more affected than Fathers do because of the way our Indian culture is. Hobbies? What’s that? All mothers just have one hobby and that is to take care of the children. Right? Extremely wrong.  

An individual needs to be happy him/herself to be able to take care of others. Happiness comes from little pleasures in life – not from being perfect in every area of your life. 

It is ok if your child isn’t excellent in his/her class. It is ok if you get a little less salary hike for a couple of years. It is ok if that promotion gets postponed by another year. It is ok if your husband doesn’t carry an extravagant 3 dabba lunch to office. It is ok if house is a bit messed up all the time. It is ok your life isn’t perfect. Find the little things that can make you happy. Stop judging yourself.  

I realised this some time back after a long period of extreme stress when I was trying keep everything perfect. Now when I look back I see that when I am not happy with myself – it is impossible to keep my son happy. He is all the more cranky when I am stressed out. My husband gets irritated with me because I keep snapping at him when I am stressed out. It doesn’t work for anybody. 

I dropped everything at one time and promised myself that I will take care of myself first. That included working out regularly, eating healthy, parlour visits, reading books, watching movies, meeting my girlfriend’s etc. And when I decided to do this – I realised that I do have time for myself because I can squeeze out time from other areas. Saying NO was the biggest challenge. Even now it is but I am getting better.  

Think of alternatives, what can you delegate at work and at home. Delegation at work largely depends on the kind of work you do. Delegation at home means – can you engage other family members more in household chores? Can you hire help from outside? Can you set the expectations about your availability with other family members? Can you create a support system to take care of kids, while you need to be away?

Think of possibilities and before you make your world your number one priority – remember it is YOU who must come first.  

Lots has been written on how to attain a balance that is almost impossible – be a top performer at work, be available for your family, be fit and healthy yourself.  

The only key for me is to give up being perfect and to do little things for myself. To make this possible, I created a support system for myself. That’s the only way that I have discovered to maintain my sanity while balancing my life! 

What is your solution to this problem? Please do share in the comments.