Happiness is…

…growing plants from Seeds in my own TINY APARTMENT KITCHENMicro greens in my tiny apartment kitchen "garden"
Happiness is…


(essentially Jan 2 – Jan 15)

I stayed on my money budget and on my calories budget for 2 weeks straight. I am so proud of myself…and so happy. I have never stuck to our expense budget for longer than 3 days until now. I would curb my spending for 3 days and then out came the credit cards for a sushi lunch here, an ebook there and before I knew it, I would have spent more than $100 on unnecessary purchases in a single week.

And did any of it make me feel good? Not really. Not even the lunches. I ate out almost out of a destructive compulsion of habit. And then, when the bill came, would think that the meal was hardly worth the $18 I just paid for it. And when Friday came around and K sat there with his notebook and laptop going through our week’s spending I’d feel both guilty and defensive.

So, you see, I have reason to be proud. Here is my report card for the month so far.

The Good:

  • I have lost 1 lb of weight. (2 lbs actually but one of them was losing the weight I had put on in the last week of December)
  • I have eaten more plant matter than animal matter (and my twin pimples are now gone). I was eating too much meat and not enough vegetables. I wanted to fix that in 2015 and I am happy so far.
  • I packed lunch from home every day. It not only allowed me to control the calories that I consumed but it was also the only way I could stay on budget.
  • I cooked dinner at home almost every day. This saves us a lot of money and helps me keep true to my diet.
  • I got rid of all my magazine subscriptions that weren’t already pre-paid because I really don’t have time to read them anyway. The only subscriptions I have now are to Bon Apétit and Cooks Illustrated.
  • I have cooked a nice assortment of Ottolenghi dishes from his three cookbooks that I own: Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem.
  • I stayed on budget. I think I’ve talked about this enough already. 🙂
  • I baked 3 new types of bread and my breads. 

The Bad:

  • I am not meditating nearly enough times.
  • I cannot stop thinking about the new DSLR we will be buying at the end of the month. The end of the month is not coming fast enough, if you ask me. We are not going to buy the expensive Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.6-5.6G lens yet anyway, just the camera body and the 35mm lens. But that should be enough to get me started.
  • I still spend far too much time obsessing over that person I dislike intensely. It’s a waste of time and completely unproductive, but there it is.

So what do you think? How did I do?


Gone with the Wind…My Story

It was wicked windy and cold in Boston last night. 30 kph (19mph) winds and -19C (-2F). I As I pottered along to the T (subway) station after my workout I was aware only of the wind and of the intensifying growls of hunger coming from the depths of my stomach. Unconsciously I rubbed the last $20 bill from my Christmas present money in my pocket between my fingers. I could buy myself a snack — a dinner even — and break my budget without it showing up in my weekly budgeting: a technical loophole. It defeated my goal of applying self-discipline and curbing my spending habits, however. I knew I was cheating.

I was still thirty feel away when I heard the train before I saw it. I had to make it to make the 7:10 PM bus home from Riverside so I started to run…or waddle really because I looked like a massive, unweildy purple marshmallow in my heavy winter hiking jacket and my backpack stuffed with my now dirty gym clothes and running shoes and laptop. I was still ten feet away when the train arrived and doors opened. People were packed into it like sardines in a tin, and somehow, more people piled in. I would make it but I had not a second extra to spare. I waddled faster and started pulling out my train pass from my jacket pocket at the same time.

The $20 bill had been swaddling my T-pass. As I yanked it out, the money came out with it. It happened in an instant but I felt I watched it in slow motion: the howling wind swept the $20 bill in a rising spiral over my head. The seventh US president, Andrew Jackson, the face on $20 dollar bills, and I locked eyes for a second. Even as I flung my hand forward — fingers outstretched — to grab it, it flew away from me along the station. There was a momentary break in the wind and I I watched it fall and come to rest next to a red minivan parked outside the station twenty feet away. I dashed towards it as fast as I could. It was pointless, however. In another split second, a new gush of wind lifted the bill back up and off it was gone…hurled into the darkness of the night.

I remained transfixed by my bad luck. I was cheating my budget but fate cheated me instead. I don’t know how long I stood there. It could have been a minute, five minutes or even ten. I was brought back by a loud angry rumble from deep inside me. The train was gone and I was quite alone on the platform as I waited for the next one, disconsolate and unhappy.

Now there is no buffer of secret money left. Now it’s just me vs temptation and/or hunger.

Gone with the Wind…My Story

Off to a Bad Start

I’ve got a zit — an actual pimple! — on my chin. And, it gets worse: there’s another one growing right next to it. It’s like my chin is sprouting its very own Twin Towers. Argh! Getting pimples at my age — or any age past college — is so embarrassing. I’m seriously considering putting a Band Aid over them, right beneath my lips, tomorrow morning so nobody sees them. A Band Aid across my face has to be less embarrassing than the Zit Twin Towers. Right?

I’m probably getting zits because I cannot remember when I ate a vegetable since our dinner out on December 30. I seem to recall eating 3 bananas (in 3 days, mind you), but not a single vegetable or anything that contains any vitamins. Beige and Brown. That’s all I’ve eaten since the morning of December 31. Not a good start indeed.  Continue reading “Off to a Bad Start”

Off to a Bad Start

Resolutions for 2015

I am a big believer in reinventing oneself. It’s something my father taught me. Each year, on January 1, he would give me a new diary — one with a full page for each day of the year— saying that while it is hard to be honest to others or even one’s own self, it is easy to be honest to pieces of paper that nobody but the writer would ever read.

He would then ask me to sit me down and  list five school-related and five personal life-related changes that would would make life a more positive experience for me. I didn’t need to show them to him. All I had to do is be honest — to the diary. Then, he would ask me to use the page for January 1 to list 10 habits I could develop that would help bring about those positive changes in my life. What he said, paraphrased (because I cannot remember the exact words) comes to this:

What life doles out to you, or, how others behave, are largely beyond your control. How you react to what life or others dish out, what principles you live your life by, and what habits you adopt that set you up for either success or failure, are entirely within your control, however. So, today, being the first day of a new year, is a new beginning: You can decide whether you are going to set yourself depends on the habits you inculcate. Today, think about how you want to be, and spend the rest of the year doing your best to be that better version of yourself. If you are unsatisfied with yourself, re-invent yourself. New beginnings have great power: the power of the seemingly clean slate. So, be a newer, better you.

Continue reading “Resolutions for 2015”

Resolutions for 2015

Reflecting back on 2014

I’ve been away from this blog for a while — that was a mistake, one I will work hard to avoid in 2015.

Because a realization came crashing down on me yesterday: it’s that I am turning into a miserable, grumbling curmudgeon with a steady stream of negativity running through my head at all waking hours quite like a 24-hour news channel covering US politics.

Negativity about what you may ask?

About absolutely everyone and everything that is not just right: in-laws reminding me to get situated behind a white picket fenced house and pop out some babies; about Keith being afraid to ditch it all and move across the world to start a new and exciting life somewhere far away from the all-consuming American Dream (AD). About sucky Sonya, who really does suck, but that has been established by all that work with, and around, her already so why harp on the point.

I’ve been walking around with my very own, custom-built-for-me hell in my own head.

Is that why my blood pressure is through the roof again? Is that why I still have not lost the 20 lbs I set out to lose at the start of last summer?

Today, after many months, I listened to an episode of the Vedanta podcasts again after many months. A sentence from it spoke to me…as if it was spoken just to me:

The world we see is a reflection of our own minds

How apt! And how true. The people we meet in the world are as ugly or as beautiful as people as we see them. The world has felt so awful to me of late — where I thought everyone was out to stop me from living the life I want to live. But the world has not gotten any worse than it was, really; the lens through which my mind processes the world has vile slime smeared all over it. I’ve been poisoning it with my own thoughts.

No more!

Thankfully, it’s my favourite time of the year: time to decide what goes into the software for Swati version (n+1). It’s time to make some RESOLUTIONS!

My next post will have my resolutions for 2015. The key will be to make small changes to my life each day that add up over time…like money in a retirement account. That’s so the goals are not so lofty that they seem unattainable and I feel that it would be useless to even try.



Reflecting back on 2014

Happiness is Making Progress

My lack of control over my eating has been the source of great frustration and unhappiness for me for a very long time. I have been working out at an expensive, women’s-only small group gym that has a personal trainer for every four women and had been getting nowhere with my weight. It wasn’t the gym’s fault either. My muscles have been getting toned; I can see muscles in places where I had never, ever felt any before and under half an inch of fat on my belly, I can feel rock-hard abs. I was building the muscles…only, they were hidden under a thin cover of fat.

My nutrition plan is simple:

  • Eat good food
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Eat a balanced meal
  • Eat until full, not stuffed
  • Drink lots of water

I have stuck to my diet/nutrition plan well these past 10 days — including the weekend — and already I have been rewarded. Continue reading “Happiness is Making Progress”

Happiness is Making Progress