Learning how to dance in the rain (or snow!)

It’s been a terrible winter we’re experiencing here in Chicago. Everyday in the past two weeks I’ve been back from my trip to India, the weather has been below 10F. Wind chill has been below zero consistently. Everywhere I go I see people miserable with the cold, including me. Snow is an unnatural occurrence in my life, since I have been lucky enough to live in tropical or temperate climates. It’s frustrating to have to put on layers of clothes and lug around bulky snow boots. I’m tired of it.

Of course, I have to blog about the bitter cold in Chicago at some point.

But negativity is also something that I try not to dwell on, and in order for me to get through this winter, I need to think about that which is good and comforting. Whenever I curse at nature for the icy cold wind that slaps me in the face whenever I go outside, I remind myself to say a little prayer, instead of muttering curses under my breath as I walk toward the bus stop. My walk to and from work in total gives me enough minutes to pray the whole rosary. I feel great afterwards, because it calms me down, and also because I know I’ve invested that time into something worthwhile and diffused off negativity.

It is not always easy to see the positive when the situation is thick with disappointment, fear and stress. Sometimes, at work, when we feel under pressure, we resort to negative actions. Today, we had a big team meeting and one of my junior coworkers clearly was demonstrating negative attitude toward the project, raising her voice and talking over others who are more senior than her. It probably feels good for her to do this, but it is only instant satisfaction. She is too young to understand that the longer term ramification is negative perception of her because the higher ups who have more experience can sense this. Especially when one of the higher ups is only a few years older than her; I’m sure he has an acute sense of the emotional states junior people feel, because he’s just been there (or is still going through this stage). I cringe at her behavior but cannot do much. She will learn in time, I thought.

How do we exactly learn how to dance in the rain? I think it’s driven by our attitudes and mindset. It is a conscious decision, to go toward the positive, and keen acknowledgement of the negative situation at hand. You can’t leave a negative state when you’re so caught up by it, you’re unaware you’re in it. It takes time to see the situation for what it is and detach yourself from, and it is not easy to leave what is negative and plunge into positivity. Sometimes, we are tempted to dwell in that which is harmful, and dwell we do.

I think it’s a constant exercise to train oneself to handle pressure and stress. Learning to dance in the rain is in itself a process. We are not born resilient right away. We develop this trait when we face events that test our wits and patience. I consider myself to be a resilient person, and I can tell you it is not an inherent trait, but an outcome of all that I’ve been through. I still get nervous at work, when presenting, or speaking to a crowd, or talking with my manager sometimes. I stutter when there is so much I want to say and feel like I don’t have enough tools to articulate everything at a given moment. But I know that I still have room to grow, and growing personally is a priority for me, so I ride through the discomfort and pain. I know I will come out more courageous, and better able to manage it all next time I’m put in a less-than-stellar situation again.

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Start of Lenten Season

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I didn’t know it until the day before, from posts on Facebook made by friends who were celebrating Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras. I quickly reflected on what it is i want to give up for lent, and told myself that I will give up a few things, tangible and intangible. As I soul searched, I realized lent is not only about giving things up but also moving toward positive things, and I reflected more about the positive spaces I can move into to enrich my life and become a better person.

It was a coincidence that I had to fast the morning of Ash Wednesday because I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled. It was difficult to skip breakfast since it’s part of my regular routine, but I had two reasons that helped me get through it– physical exam and Lent. After my doctor’s appointment, I went to get my ashes. I thought about the ways in which Lent my sacrifices for Lent will help me grow spiritually, mentally and physically strong. I hope I remain true to it no matter how difficult it will get.

Fasting is no joke, it is tough, but for me it’s a reminder to live minimally and simply, and giving up desires for physical pleasure. Two years ago, I was better at eating simply and cleanly, mostly vegetables and fruits, and what drove me to do so is my commitment to minimalism and the knowledge that all that my body to remain strong needs are healthy vegetables, fruits and simple meals, nothing more. My body doesn’t need alcohol. It doesn’t need tasting menus. It doesn’t need very rich food and finely prepare meals that feel luxurious on consumption. All of these are pleasurable things, and to be honest I like enjoying them, but in the last two years I feel that I’ve been consuming so much and seeking pleasure this way. Most of the time, it’s a means to another goal: to spend time with friends, meet new people, participate with colleagues through parties, but I know that I can achieve these goals without having to consume so much. I need to rethink about my mottos I have on consumption to help me get back to a minimalist lifestyle. More than anything else, I think Lent is a reintroduction to being mindful about what we consume, and to only take as much as what our body needs to operate healthily, and everything else we should seek in God, for He will provide.