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5 Year Plans

Yesterday I met up with some of my friends who happened to be passing through Dubai. As we sat in Costa Café at the Festival City Mall and nibbled on our snacks (must mention here that the 10% City Bank discount plus the 5% Expo2020 discount was a welcome surprise) my friends began asking me about my life in Dubai and where I saw myself in the future. Then, the inevitable question surfaced.

‘Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?’ they asked.

Why do people always want and in most cases *expect* you to plan out the little details of your life right down to the last detail? When asked that question, I feel like I am almost *required* to concoct a false future. If I answer with “I just hope I’m alive and well” then I’m called boring and uninteresting. If I say, however, I hope to be (for instance) the Principal of a school, doing magnificent things, then I’m ‘incredible’ and everyone applauds my dreams. How realistic is that though? I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream big. Dreams are what make us thrive. It just sucks that we’re expected to have such a handle on those dreams 5 years before they happen.

5 years seems so far away that I always imagine my life will be so different from the present. So much can change in 5 years. People change. Is where I am now, where I thought I would be 5 years ago? Nope. Is my career playing out to what I dreamed it would be? Again, no. Well guess what? In my books, that’s absolutely fine! I cannot live my life being a slave to the ideas of my future that I promised to myself when I was 18 years old. When I was 18, I was a different person. I’m a different person today.

It is incredibly important to think about the future. If we don’t, we’re at risk of becoming too “comfortable.” But remember Goals are not glue. And they aren’t permanent. They change.

Lately, I have felt like I have let my 18 year-old self down because a lot of what I’ve dreamed of or planned for still remains unaccomplished. But, I’m happy and to me, that’s above and beyond any desire I’ve ever had.

So, coming back to the question I’ve been evading.  Where *do* I see myself 5 years from now?

For one thing I’ll be 34 years old (34!!!!!! Hopefully by then I’ll feel and behave like a grown up) and other than that fact, I have absolutely no idea. And for the first time in my life, I’m content with that.

I just hope I’m happy, I hope I’m surrounded by the people I love and doing the kind of work that I love. Everything else is neither here nor there.

 

 

 

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Worship Refreshed

There’s something so uplifting about listening to good worship music. This morning I woke up and switched on the Hillsongs YouTube channel and it’s been playing ever since as I have continued to get on with my weekend chores.

imagesCAS9HOEOMusic has always spoken to me. I can still remember the songs I learned as a child in Sunday school and the lyrics that spoke to me as a teenager as if they had been written just for me to understand the stuff I was experiencing— and I remember exactly how I felt at the time. I remember the joy and the tears, the peace and the discontent. And the longer I journey with the Lord, the more I believe that He intended for me to attach music to my life experiences in this way. That’s what the book of Psalms is for, isn’t it? There is literally a song for every life experience.

I miss the worship from my church back home. Not the songs, not the instruments but the experience – the feeling of being in the presence of friends and family as we sing about our faith, our hopes and aspirations and our collective gratitude and praise.

Worship helps me refocus my life on Him Regardless of what I see or what I am feeling inside. You see, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on the Lord, everything around us looks different, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I have walked through some tough experiences. I have been humbled and tested over and over. Worship songs somehow capture my complete and utter dependence on the Lord and remind me of His strength and faithfulness months and years later. When I sing those songs now, I’m transported to those moments when every step I took depended on His strength, and my faith is strengthened and refreshed anew.

Anyway I don’t have anything deep or serious to say this morning. I woke up feeling a little down and the weather outside did not help make me feel better. But like always, I tuned on some worship music and I was instantly reminded of how blessed I am and how His grace will always be enough for me.

Whether it was singing in the choir, being part of outreach music programmes or simply humming along to Paul Blaoche or Sandy Patty’s songs while I was growing up, the language of music is an integral thread in the fabric of the person I am today.

If you’re feeling down, give it a try – it will uplift your spirit too.

“Don’t let life affect your worship; let your worship effect life”—LaMar Boschman

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Things Change But I Wish They Didn’t Have To

I slept fitfully last night. This morning I woke up and my mind went back to when I was a teenager and would dream of being 30, with all of its grown up responsibility and freedom. I remember spending my weekend mornings helping mum with her household chores. I remember helping her sort the groceries, making tea for my dad as he got ready for work, singing along to Anne Murray or Tom Jones songs as the weekend morning kicked-off in the bliss of domesticity .What followed was some homework, leisurely afternoon chats, mom’s cooking and a jaunt to New Market for some customary window shopping.

Now that I’m not too far from 30, I find myself wishing I could be a teenager again.

Very occasionally, on days like today, I lie in bed, close my eyes tight and wish that things would be slightly different. But instead of opening my eyes and having my wish come true I open them to long to-do lists staring at me in the face and a plethora of other things screaming out for my attention. Nothing is significant enough on its own to cause me distress but all together sometimes they bring my spirits down. So I take a few deep breaths.  Get out of bed, make myself a mug of coffee and take on the world, one person or problem at a time. I try to prioritize, get little or no exercise and the cycle continues.

The world looks a lot different today. I return to an empty home, and though call rates are cheap, there are hardly any stories worth narrating to mum and dad. The casual banter with my neighbors is missing – replaced by the impersonal hi! on Facebook. I don’t even know when seasons change; of course they do, but only outside the glass windows of my workplace and the ones at home that I never open.

Today is one of those days. You know, the kind of day when you’re reminded that being an adult is difficult and very overrated?

Don’t get me wrong. I love how my life is right now. Of course there are things that I wish could be different. I wish I could spend more time with my family, I wish I had more chances to goof around with my dog, I wish I could travel more, I wish more of my friendships would endure the tests of time and distance, but that being said, I am grateful for the way my life is. I know I’m blessed.

It’s just that there are days when I wake up and think of people from my past. People I’ve not thought about in a while, people who’ve probably forgotten me. They were important to me at different points in time, that’s changed. I relive childhood memories, I become nostalgic about times spent watching my mum and dad slow dance on a Saturday evening, or singing along with my brother as he strummed his guitar. I miss sharing my dreams with my college friends. You see what I mean? So many things change as we get older. It’s inevitable and that’s what I hate most!

Life was so much easier back then when scrapes from my bicycle ride were the worst pain I could think of, or the worst fight I had was about who should have the remote control. Life was so much easier when goodbyes meant “I’ll see you tomorrow.” But, as we grow up things change. Or maybe we do. Gradually fading away, drifting with the flow, losing ourselves, forgetting childhood dreams and old promises. We get lost in the whirlpool of professional priorities and synthetic emotions.

As we grow up things change. It is so much tougher to be happy. We want more from life, we expect more from people. People disappoint us. We lose more. We trust less. Dream less. Sleep less. Anyways, I could ramble on and on about childhood memories and adult realizations but all I’m really saying is this: As we grow up things change drastically and I wish they didn’t have to.

 

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Because 2041 Beckons…

The Global Countdown – http://2041.com/

Visiting the Antarctic is a dream that many nurture but only a privileged few are able to fulfill. If you go as a tourist the cost usually means you have to wait until much later on in life. So imagine how great it would be to go as a student and not just visit Antarctica but to actually be part of a global movement dedicated to preserving this final pristine frontier from the very real dangers that threaten it each day.

935873_153856004815049_1158433249_n9 lucky students from GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai are planning a trip to the Antarctic making that distant dream a very present reality. They will be accompanied by Sir Robert Swan; environmental leader and the first person ever to have walked to the North and South poles.

Needless to say, this will be a life-altering experience for them. It will expose these 9 students to all kinds of environmental and social issues and give them a much broader perspective of the planet on which they live. In my mind, going to Antarctica is kind of like going to another planet and once you’ve done that you can’t help but be affected by it – for life, can you?

I’m so proud of the students of my school, every single one of them. While 9 students get to actually experience the wonders of this white wilderness, I’m amazed by the dedication of all the other pupils who are so keen to make this the most historical undertaking Modern has ever had.

In today’s day and age, raising environmentally passionate future generations has got to be at the center of every educational institution’s philosophy. As teachers, there are only a limited number of things we can do or say to press home important facts about preserving and protecting our planet. But unless children are exposed to the harsh realities of the real world, progress and action will continue to be scant.

As Modern’s 9 buccaneers prepare to set out on their once in a lifetime expedition and be part of the Leadership on the Edge conference in Argentina, we hope that you will support them by spreading the word about their endeavors. You can follow the progress of Modern’s Buccaneers on their facebook page ‘Modern on Antarctica’ or follow @beckyblitz97 and @sydneydxb on twitter for more updates.

Watch this space for more information.

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I Don’t Know What to Title This

Let me just preface this post by saying that very rarely do I attempt to write in verse and after you’ve read what follows, you’ll know why. It lacks structure, there is no form, neither does it rhyme nor can it be categorized as blank verse….so I really don’t know what this is.  All I do know, is that this is a very honest articulation of some thoughts swirling around in my head these days so, please be kind in your feedback.

(Insert Title Here)
They are amusing things, you know -
my mind, my heart and my soul.
Each perpetually seeking to assert themselves in my life;
continually demanding my attention or my surrender.
And it seems as if the one I choose to allow onto the stage of my experiences,
Is the one who directs my course in those moments,
while the others revolt in rage – screaming out at me for making the wrong decision. Again.

Is a peaceful co-existence between the three possible at all?
Or will it always be that when one rises
the others fall? Why does every decision have to be wrought with unease? Always over-thought.

But today, right here, right now I am simply what I am.
My strained breath is my only steady friend while the world around me seems to be exploding with the crazies.
Peace of mind. Blissful peace – I’ll take it whenever I can have it,
for if I don’t, I know the world around me will try to grab it.

I guess I’ll just continue to surrender unknowingly to the three imposters and allow them to lead me to those very things that I’ve sought so long. Right now, peace, truth and fulfillment seem so elusive from where I’m standing;

but perhaps, just perhaps – I’ve been looking in the wrong direction all along.

 

 

 

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Thoughts for a Monday Afternoon

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with someone recently. The friend I was talking to has just made a huge change in his career. When I asked him why he had decided to make this change after so many years, he said he was very happy but didn’t feel fulfilled. That got me thinking, and the idea has been simmering in my head for a while now. Is there really such a significant difference between happiness and fulfillment?

The way I see it, happiness is temporary, but fulfillment is lasting. Perhaps I am just playing with connotations here, but to me happiness comes in sporadic moments, from memories that you share with family or friends or a great conversation you’ve had with a confidant – but fulfillment brings peace of mind and a calmness of spirit that washes over you and stays with you no matter where you are or what you’re doing. It reassures you that your life is going the exact way that it was meant to be. Perhaps society too often teaches us to pursue happiness and only later in life do we realize that happiness can be fleeting and that fulfillment is elusive.

I guess we usually equate being happy with fulfillment. I’ve discussed this idea with a couple of people in the last week and here’s what the general opinion has been. Happiness comes while one is pursuing personal dreams but a deep sense of fulfillment will emerge only when you finally connect the person you are with the things that you choose to do. Does that make sense to you? In my head it seems pretty simple…but I wonder if I’ve been able to successfully articulate my ideas here on the blog.

Am I happy at the moment? Yes I am – 100% happy! Being with the children I teach makes me happy. Waking up each morning and knowing I get to teach and learn from kids, that makes me happy. But, am I fulfilled yet? I don’t think so and it’s too early to tell….there is so much more I want to do, so many things to accomplish and I just hope and pray that the path I am on now will get me there eventually.

 

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Ithaca – Poetry Inspiration 101

I was talking to some friends at my local Starbucks the other day and brought up an allusion to one of my favorite poems – a poem they were unfamiliar with: Ithaca, by Constantine Cavafy.

I used to have a printout of this poem stuck inside my cupboard at home in India, probably since I was about eighteen years old. Every time I looked into my cupboard I saw it and while I didn’t always stop to read the whole thing, sometimes my eye would just catch a line as I walked by and I’d be reminded of why the poem meant so much to me. Other times I’d miss the paper entirely, focusing on one of the other bits of paper or the Aishwarya Rai or Bon Jovi cut-outs I’d stuck up with cello-tape to give my door some personality.

When I moved to Dubai, I remember one of my best friends saying, as we talked about homesickness that she’d read the poem for the first time. I think she was surprised she hadn’t read it before and it soon became a poem she began to count as a personal favorite too. Either way, the poem is special to me for so many reasons.

In my line of work, payoffs are hard-won, sometimes unseen ( in the sense that they happen but we might never even know so) and often delayed. There are so many moments of self-doubt, of questioning, of wondering ‘is it all worth it?’ At other times we luxuriate in the fulfillment that comes from impacting young lives. As I said to my friend, the best we can hope for is that years after we die, somebody might remember us and acknowledge that they were positively affected by our work and our words.

At any rate, Ithaca is one of those poems that’s worked its way into the canon of my significant and literary references, so I wanted to share it with all of you. Below is the text of the translation of Ithaca as well as a voice over by Sean Connery that is sure to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention! Give it some time to sink in, savor every word, read between the lines and let it resonate with the deepest parts of your being like it has for thousands of people since it was first written over a 100 years ago.

I’d love to hear back on what you make of it!

ITHACA
By Constantine Cavafy

When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
an angry Poseidon — do not fear.
You will never find such on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, and your spirit
and body are touched by a fine emotion.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
a savage Poseidon you will not encounter,
if you do not carry them within your spirit,
if your spirit does not place them before you.
Wish for the road to be long.
Many the summer mornings to be when
with what pleasure, what joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time.
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase the fine goods,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and exquisite perfumes of all sorts,
the most delicate fragrances you can find.
To many Egyptian cities you must go,
to learn and learn from the cultivated.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better for it to last many years,
and when old to rest in the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you wealth.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road.
Nothing more does she have to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

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