Sunday, September 10, 2006

Article - The Brat Syndrome

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Poor child! So, no - cannot agree with that..… Moreover, if that is one tough kid you are dealing with, then, “poor rod

Seriously, though, parenting has never been and will never be an easy task. As far as jobs go, being a parent is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding one! However, until you yourself become a parent, you never can fully appreciate your parents and the kind of experiences you might have put them through.

As a mother, life is that much more…. everything! It is more complicated- more gratifying, more terrifying and more work. Parenting - especially for the mom, begins right from pregnancy. Yes, the responsibility of being a parent begins with conception. What you eat, how you look after yourself and your general emotional “well-being” - are all relayed to the foetus. That is how complex motherhood is.

Having gone through a great deal to establish the “mother” status, you are already headlong into the job of your life! Your foremost responsibility is to provide a safe and secure childhood for your child. Once you are well on your way into that, one concern - just one of the concerns that might face you, is the “brat-syndrome”. Toddlers with tantrums and children with occasional bursts of frustration do not necessarily mean that a brat is in the making.

You are sure to recognize a brat when you see one! However, it is more difficult to recognize it in your own child. It is unpleasant to realize and keep in mind that if your child is a brat, you are at least partially responsible. Having said that, (and the damage having been done) it must be pointed out that you will have to do something about your brat as he or she will certainly not “grow out of it”. In addition, here is another incentive to undo the damage done – it is an end to your frustration as well as all those tiresome and very sapping moments, a brat can cause.

Undoing the “brat-syndrome” is daunting to say the least. More importantly, the child actually suffers from being a brat; Being branded as one, for instance. Enduring snide remarks and being sidelined thanks to “brattish” behaviour. I have even known people who avoid socializing with parents as families because of their brat(s)! Nobody likes brats – deep down, not even the brat himself! Believe me, the child goes through a lot thanks to the stigma. Equally important to note is that the child has to make a great deal of adjustments to undo the brat status. Besides, how reasonable is it to expect the child to undo what you have (albeit unwittingly) done?

First of all, learning to say “No” will go a long way. The trick is to be firm and consistent about it. Easier said than done! Secondly, try not to hate yourself or feel sorry when the tears come. The child can sense your weakened mind! Thirdly, do not fuss over your child unnecessarily. Children need some independence and their own footing. A control-freak of a mother may do more damage than she thinks.

It is a fact that half the problem is solved once you have been enlightened about your child’s transformation into a brat. It is easier when you as a mom spot this early as, if you leave it to the child to evolve out of it naturally, there can be other psychological damages and bad memories in your spoilt-child-turned-knowing-teenager. He or she will find it difficult to live with or even shed the “brat” tiara!

Not for nothing was it said “Spoiled children rarely make happy adults”.

Article - Dress you up!

Look good, feel good and be good.
Every woman’s motto.

After my baby was born, life came to a standstill. Correction: MY life came to a standstill. My baby’s life has been …well, you know what babies do - drink milk, burp, and play, soil self, sleep, and on and on. My husband’s life has been … the usual. Read newspaper, go to work, get back home, relax in front of TV, chat on phone (or in person) with friend, and drop down to bed! But, my life?

My life is all about other people. Agreed - it is my baby I am tending to, and my husband I see off to work, but it is still other people, right? What about me?

My wake-up-call is a “get me coffee” grunt or a “waaaah” or a phone / doorbell ring. After that, its rush hour - sorry, rush hours – plural. Get baby milk, get you-know-who coffee, get breakfast organized, run after maid / baby / husband…so on and so forth. By the time baby settles down for a nap (or basically, when the house is at rest), I am ready …for nothing.

That’s just it. I am ready for nothing except more of the domestic stuff. Earlier, when I was working, in the years of B.B. (Before Baby) so to speak, life was different. However, having quit the job to look after family interests, which, by the way is no mean task, I find that being a “home-maker” is even more challenging than my air-conditioned, sit-on-my-backside-8-hours job! Suddenly, I am home – dealing with everything that and everyone who - comes my way. At least when I was working, I had my work, my job. What is in it for me now? (Yes, sure, I am with you on that can’t-beat-feeling of being a mommy!)

The “Wow-I-became-a-mom”-high notwithstanding, the feeling of nothing to do for the self is quite unnerving once you have stopped to think about it. I always need to have a purpose otherwise, depression or frustration rears it ugly head too often! Certainly if you do some serious introspection, you will find that which is missing. I reiterate - being a daughter/wife/mother/grandmother, etc. are wonderful roles to play. Still, I bet there is a certain longing inside everyone, to do something. I cannot tell you what to do. Nevertheless, there is something that you can do until you figure it all out.

Get ready.

That is all there is to it, to begin with. Yes-get ready. Don’t sit in your nightie – or worse, change into yet another nightdress after you wake up in the morning - that might well be your first step to self-loathing!

As soon as possible in the morning and at your convenience, bathe, wear a nice comfortable, breezy, smart outfit; and apply some light make-up and …generally, spend some quality time in front of your mirror - With yourself. It is a psychological thing. You can be purposeful even without an immediate purpose! It is reverse strategy - which gives you a fantastic, refreshed feeling.

If I have not yet figured out what to do with myself, at least let me get ready for something that might come my way! Whether it is a call from a friend with an invite for a cuppa, or your husband frantically calling to order you out of the house to buy a gift for his boss’ birthday, or a sudden realization that your baby “wants” a new toy… you can decide later. To start, focus on the feeling of being clean and fresh and “all made-up” – it’s something else!

Want to try it? I have. I got ready.

It is as good as it gets.

Unpublished Article - Mental Hygiene

“Mental Hygiene”

Bet you are all about fitness and health. Working out and exercising -- aiming for or maintaining a toned, fit body. It is all about your body: its BMI, measuring skin-folds and converting fat to muscle. Great! Some of the good things you do to your body make their way up there to your mind –Increased agility of mind, concentration, alertness and so on. Conversely, whatever goes through your mind shows on your body. Umm…bad mood, anyone? It will even be apparent in the way you walk. Heavy steps, jerky movement or a disquietingly placid exterior – Dead Calm. The simmering mood hides inside! That can’t be good.

What caused the bad mood? It could have been a fight with a (currently-opposite-of-) loved one, or the imbecile auto-rickshaw who scraped the side of your car and jauntily pushed off, or an irritant colleague’s chirpy phone call that rudely interrupted your morning caffeine-kick -- Anything that threw your mind off–balance. Irrespective of what causes the bad mood, it is there for you to deal with. After all, is it not a little too easy to lose your temper? The repercussions on the other hand, are so-not-easy to deal with.

An “I am so sorry” card used to be popular. On the inside, it read, “You know how temperamental I am…90% temper and 10% mental!” All of us are “mental” in some way or the other. To put it kindly, it means we each have our own idiosyncrasies. However, if our idiosyncrasies include moodiness and short tempers, it can lead to offshoots like frustration, depression, “friendlessness”, hysteria and worse… not necessarily in that order, so it is time we cleaned up our acts. As geared up as we are to work out, lose weight and get healthy, these are bodily aspects and the mind may feel left out! It needs relaxation; which few of us have learned to do – Relax. It is no wonder that there are so many relaxation techniques, books, CDs and lectures galore out there to help people relax!

Any relaxation “technique” or exercise needs practice and patience the latter of which is the lacking element in the first instance! So, we may as well try to accomplish this by ourselves first instead of spending good money on outside factors to do it for us! Try listening to old, bring-on-the-nostalgia songs, or indulging in any activity that you love; be it cooking, baking, watching a favourite sitcom, going for an evening stroll, having a long chat with a friend or…absolutely anything that gives instant, easy pleasure and that does not have any value-add except that it makes you smile a bit! Take a break that you like.

Ever notice how your whole body tenses up when you frown? It is an unexpected by-product of a frown. Now smile – you automatically tend to breathe a bit slower and your body smiles with you. Observe that when nobody is watching! It can be fun.

If you cannot afford to take time off your schedule to do what you would ideally like to, then how about a “one-to-one” chat with yourself? Talk yourself not to the brink of insanity obviously, where you will end up talking only to yourself (!), but…give yourself pep talks and words of encouragement that only you will be able to hear – a true monologue! It is really quite relaxing and motivating...Sometimes, silly things that you can say to yourself will make you smile. Which is what we are trying to achieve – a smile is reflective of your mental good health. Mona Lisa, here we come!

Bottom line: Mind your mind… you cannot afford to lose it!


Sujata Tarakesan.

Thought for the month: -

The mouth may do the extra munching,
But the stomach ends up with all the crunching!
The more you sit down and munch,
The more you gotta sit-up and crunch!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Article - Fitness - Health Issues

“Health Issues”- I have always flinched at this phrase. Nevertheless, that is what I experienced these past few weeks. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that I was advised not to exercise; and that was at first, very frustrating. You see, for a person who is struggling to lose weight, ANY break from a regular workout costs dear! If this were me at the beginning of last year, I might have thrown up my hands and resigned myself to fate. However, this is me today – a LOT lighter and more confident and well,… much more sensible - even if I say so myself!. After a few hours of feeling frustrated and sorry for myself (really, I should win an award for candid talk!J), I went about planning how I would control my weight.

I decided that losing the weight on a “no-exercise” period was not as important as controlling the weight. You “never-been-overweight” people out there might smirk “what’s the big deal about that?” However, those who have “been there” and “done that” will fully empathize with what I am trying to say. When your exercise regime slows down or halts for even a brief period, you can literally see those numbers go up on the weighing scale (not unlike magic!! ). So, I wondered, what could I do to keep those numbers status quo and perhaps even make them descend a wee bit?

The answer is quite basic really. Diet control. Oh, I don’t mean starving yourself or eating “boring” food (Here, I risk drawing a frown from the nutrition experts;)). I just made seven, simple rules which I now fondly call the “Seven-Up/Chin-Up” strategy!!
Lower sugar and salt intake (just take what you absolutely need)
Stick to skimmed milk – for coffee, tea and curds, buttermilk, etc.
Eat dinner before 7 pm
Snack healthy - fruits, etc. will do it. Even if the occasional snack were a bit oily or fatty, I would have a very miniscule quantity – just to get that craving out of my system. It is very important not to crave. When the mind craves, the body tends to give in. At least, mine does! Candid indeed!
Drink around 3 litres of water through the day – it has to be a conscious effort
Stay active in the house or in the office – walk around, do some cleaning and sorting – every little bit helps!
VERY IMPORTANT – Weigh self every day
I cannot be more emphatic about how important it is to get on the weighing machine every single day or every other day. Lots of us have been in denial and avoided the weighing scale like the plague lest the bad news reaches our eyes! That’s half the problem. Face reality – that is what life’s about!

I have an added advantage MIND YOU. By that, I mean my 2-year old toddler who thinks that her mother has to give chase for a fair distance and then use some considerable resourcefulness to pin her down and catch her before she can be made to do just about ANYthing! (Am sure she knows her mom needs some exercise!)

Hmmmmm…. “Health is wealth” is an age-old proverb. Food for thought?

First-ever Article - Fitness - 'Weight and Watch'

“I am no fitness expert…but I definitely am a FATNESS expert!” This sentence has never failed to elicit a chuckle. However, that HAS BEEN the story of my life - from when I was 12, to be precise.

The “battle of the bulge” as most “like-bodied people” know, is no mean battle and as a person who has been overweight for more than 95% of her life thus far, I can vouch for it. Finally, after my pregnancy, delivery and subsequent, STUPENDOUS weight gain, I stood at a whopping 102(or was it 103?!)Kilos- unhealthy and lethargic, not to mention depressed. My good doctor suggested that I “do something about it”. He put it rather mildly, but since I detected the warning note in his voice, I decided I would ‘do something about it’.

I zeroed in on Fitness 1-- my-kind-of-clean ‘n’ classy gym -- last year and joined the aerobics classes and a little later, the gym itself. Managed to lose 15 kgs last year alone and have embarked on the uphill task of losing another 15 this year!! “Miles to go before I sleep” (thank you, Robert Frost), I like to quip. Initially, it was tough. I had not exercised in ten years and I first developed a bad back and knee pain and then, a strained hamstring, but regular exercise and stretches eased the pain off and the weight came down slowly but surely.

I now recognize and understand the mistake I made from the age of 12 (was JUST 67 kilos then!)– The mistake was: exercising / dieting in spurts – only to give in to cravings and binge and then gain it all back … and then some. “And then some” became 102 kilos at 31 years! I LOATHE it that I hit a century – not on the cricket field but on the weighing machine! Still, when I look back over the past year, I am QUITE satisfied with my weight loss and am praying that this newfound determination and (dare I say it?) self-control, continue…… long as I live.

Must wind up now as I don’t want to bore my reader with more of this personal yarn - but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I reiterate that there is no shortcut to good health. The only way to get there is through exercise and a balanced, reasonable diet – it HAS to be a way of life. That is a fact - better face it and enjoy it rather than ignore it and “suffer like a duffer”, I say!

Joke in context: My late father had many German friends who used to visit us with family. One day, when this German gentleman asked me what “Sujata” meant (he could only say “sujaba” or suraja”, never got it right!) , I puffed myself up to reply. You see, I had just then checked out a book in Landmark on the meaning of Indian names and thought I had it down pat.

I told him, “Sujata means WELL-BRED!” In the ensuing pause, I kind of thought the Germans looked quite impressed until my witty father added “Actually, it should have been “WELL-FED”, not well-bred!! (I admit, I really treasure this anecdote despite being the butt of the joke).


Poem - No smoke without fire

Why on earth do u smoke?

Smoking is injurious to health
It causes bodily damage by stealth
A warning on every cigarette packet
Fails to stir up a racket.

You sit at a party and at it you puff
Soaking into your body …all the bad stuff
But it “feels so good” you claim
Be sure – your lungs smoking will maim.

What is the use of all the exercise and diet?
You may lift weights and avoid a tasty bite -
You jog, you cycle, you sweat, you run,
But smoke ….and you ruin all the fun.

Diseases, terminal illnesses, a persistent cough…
It can reduce your lifespan by half.
Think it will not happen to you?
Want me to wager on that a bet or two?

Do not think you will get a warning sign
That will tell you its time to resign.
You may wake up one not-so-fine day,
Realizing you smoked your life away.

You say smoking gives you a high
A subtle joy you won’t yourself deny.
You think its so cool and stylish -
When asked to quit, you turn mulish.

However, that is what I am asking you to do.
Think I have a vested interest do you?
Nope. I do not smoke, but I am on the real High -
Yes, I know because of smoking, I will not die!

Friday, March 10, 2006

O.E. Post

O.E. stands for Over Enthusiastic,..posted pillayaar suzhi and got soooo excited that I felt compelled to add another right away.

Feeling good folks,..feeling good.

I was avoiding this whole blogging business though quite a few friends and family members are blogging away merrily,...but today,..I decided to get on board - I mean, what the heck?Want to type away all my various thoughts and emotions - without being interrupted.

Speaking of interruptions, guess whose family (including 20 month old daughter Tara) is asleep right now thereby allowing this BLOGGING to happen??Ha, ha.

O.E. is ebbing,..will post again when I have something to say.

Pssst,..teesu is beginning to talk to much, eh?;)

pillayar suzhi

Hello and welcome,..this is just the beginning. Want to start off and hopefully keep at it in the days to come.

Today's job is overcoming the "starting problem".

See you again soon.