Nurture your motivation

p2c2u:

A lot of this is also applicable to writing. The point about building habits, for instance: I’m still struggling to write everyday simply because I have not yet built the habit of setting aside one hour for the activity. Similarly, if I set a realistic goal – such as writing a 1000 words everyday – or if I thought only of the joy of writing, rather than the pain of editing it all later, I feel like I could do much better.
On a side note: I’m also trying to get healthier, so this blog post really has two levels of importance for me!

Originally posted on Motivade - Blog:

“80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen
“Impossible is not a fact. It is an attitude.” – Mohammed Ali

You have probably heard of Abraham Maslow and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Everyone has basic physiological needs like breathing, food and water that need to be satisfied first. Needs can be described as inner imbalance and the relative strength of different needs guide one’s behavior and desire for action. Needs and motives give reasons and base for certain behavior. These together form motivation.

Motivation can be considered a driving force. It is an inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal.  Motivation can be considered as a desire to do things. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control…

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I Can’t Lose Myself in Books Anymore

Confessinons of a Book-Addict

Confessinons of a Book-Addict (Photo credit: -Georg-)

I’m getting older. In another year and a month, I will be 30. I discovered yet another grey hair on my head a couple of months ago, bringing the grand total up to 2. I can’t really eat an excess of chips and fries without it disagreeing with me (I once breakfasted for a whole week on a packet of chips). I can’t drink alcohol 5 days in a row, and I certainly cannot stay up all night. And, perhaps most tragically of all, I can’t lose myself in books anymore.

I know I can still lose myself in stories. Just the other day, the hubby and I were watching The Practice reruns and we caught the ‘Head in a Medical Bag’ case. As the episode  drew close to its end, I found myself growing nervous. I was worried about the fate of the defendant, George Vogelman, because I believed he was innocent. I was so worried in fact, that when the judge asked, “Has the jury reached a verdict?”, I gathered up a handful of my husband’s leg in my hand and twisted it.

I haven’t done anything like that in a long time with a book though. And I must admit, I have been worried about it. “I can’t seem to read two pages without falling asleep,” I complained to my husband. He agreed and pointed out that just the previous night, I fell asleep with my glasses still on and my left index finger marking the paragraph I was on.

And I know it’s not the books that are to blame. I read Gone Girl a few months ago. Anyone who read it raved about it. I stalked the local bookstores for months before the book finally hit India. In fact, I was so impatient that I just ordered a more expensive copy online, rather than wait for it. And no, I wouldn’t even do this for Murakami’s new or the second part of Marquez’s memoirs. I did it for Gone Girl because the numerous reviews I read online promised me that this book was ‘unputdownable’. That I would “stay up all night reading it”. And that “the twist halfway through the book will make me drop it in shock”. And I really, badly needed to feel all that.

Only, I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong: I think Gillian Flynn has crafted a cracker of a story. The characters are superb, the twists are truly shocking and the bare carcass of the marriage that she portrays is chilling. In short, I enjoyed the book. Also, I read it on a train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai. So I didn’t really get the chance to see if it would keep me up all night, but I have a sinking feeling that I would have fallen asleep two pages into this book too, if I had been lying down on my bed while reading it.

I’m a person who has always lost herself in books.  As a child of 10, I would get home from school and immediately plop down with a Famous Five – even during exam time. I gulped down Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone in one afternoon. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I read The Kite Runner, and I couldn’t stop laughing out loud when reading PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams. I was so horrified by the incest in one of Sidney Sheldon‘s books (I forget which one), that I moved about in a cloud of gloom for days. And I couldn’t sleep the night I read the first few chapters of The Dreamcatcher. But  I don’t remember the last time any of this has happened to me with a book.

It must be the fact that I’m getting older, obviously, as well as the fact that I have responsibilities to my work and family. But that doesn’t make it any easier to accept the realization that I can’t lose myself in books anymore. In fact, it really, really sucks.

I’m currently reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. It’s the first book in the Wheel of Time series. I can tell that its an rollicking good read, full of adventure and magic and mystery and had I read this a few years earlier, I would have devoured it in less than a week.  As it happens, I have been struggling with this book for two months now. I’ve been abandoning books too, in fact, I read the first three books in the Song of Ice & Fire series, and with the fourth I have been stumbling. I have started on it twice now, only to stop after reading the first 3 chapters, because I had to review some other book. There just isn’t enough time, is there, to read all the books you want?

Where Have I Been?

coppersmith barbetRight here! Although, I must admit that I was lost. You see, what happened was that I discovered a crazy world once I got a permanent job again (last year), and I realized, that the internet has a ton of stuff that I have not yet discovered (I know, I know…BIG surprise). Anyway, so while I was away and not doing my duty by blogging, I was doing the following:

1) Reading and reviewing books: Yes, that continues, although at a much slower rate than before. And THIS time, someone (People magazine, to be precise) is paying me for my reviews. Big Yay!

2) Working: Like, duh! Obviously, I have to work if I get a job. It’s time-consuming but fun, especially since it helps me discover new things, as I said before (For instance, I got to work with this awesome company)

3) I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. Most of it is so-so. Some of it is really good, like the vegetable dalia with peanuts that I made.Yes, not original, but so what? And yes, I discovered that super tiny dalia can be passed off as cous cous.

4) I’ve been doing some writing. THIS I have been really unhappy about because I should have been doing LOTS of writing, but it seems like I’m more committed to my daily bread-and-butter than to my so-called passion. In any case, I have written some poetry, worked on a few fragments and abandoned one more novel.

6) Birwatching: So far, I have spotted the coppersmith barbet, common tailorbird, Indian golden oriole, greater coucal, scaly-breasted munia. Yes, it’s not a lot. And that’s mostly because I do it from my balcony.

5) I FINALLY learned how to ride a scooter – properly – in traffic. And this is bad, mad traffic so I figure that another few months of this and I will be able to drive anywhere in the world.

Oh, and those things that I discovered: some lovely, design-y things called Infographics! I mean, that’s not even a real world and MS word keeps highlighting it for spell-check, but whatever…I love it. Period. So, why don’t you take a look at this one that I found, about one of my favourite books.


Was The Great Gatsby Broke?

 

2012 in review

Not as good as I would have liked, but certainly better than 2011! Here’s my WordPress report. I suppose this should encourage me to post here more often, and I hope it does.

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.”

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Wildings

I had never imagined that a novel like The Wildings would come out of India. After seeing shelves after shelves of predictably tragic literary fiction and badly written commercial fiction, I had given up the hope of ever seeing anything this vividly imaginative.  The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy, however, shows me I can be optimistic: not only is it a beautifully produced book, but it also takes on a subject that few ‘serious’ writers in India would dare to explore: the lives of cats.

Yes, Dear Reader, Cats. If you, like me, are crazy about cats no matter how much they ignore you, then this is a book you want to read. And if you don’t like cats, I still think you should read this book, because you just might come to appreciate them and their talents a little more.

OK, the part about the talent needs to be scratched, because this is after all fiction. But how I wish it were true! All those times when I saw my cat sit in balcony and look outside – they make so much more sense now that I have read this book.

But I’m running ahead of myself. You need to know what this book is about. So, The Wildings is about a clan of cats living in the bylanes and ruins of Nizamuddin in Delhi. They live by a strict code of ethics all their own and they are all connected to each other through a strong, invisible web of scent and whisker transmissions. There’s Beraal, a beautiful black-and-white queen who is also a fierce fighter, Miao the wise Siamese who is the clan elder, Katar the strong and brave leader, Hulo the warrior and Southpaw, the curious kitten who can’t help but get into trouble. Other animals make appearances too, such as the deadly and powerful Kirri the mongoose, the brave little mouse Jethro Tail, a pair of squirrels called Aao and Jao and the cheels who rule the skies. Life in Nizamuddin is not luxurious, but it’s good, nonetheless. The cats survive catching prey like mice, rats and bandicoots and often forage through the rich leaving found in the midden heaps of the Bigfeet (humans), most of whom usually leave them alone. They  wander the roofs at night and doze in the cool shade offered by trees.

This serenity is interrupted by the arrival of Mara, an orange kitten with monsoon green eyes. She is what is known as a ‘Sender’ – a cat who can transmit her thoughts to other cats and animals so powerfully that most of them see a projection of her in front of them. A Sender is a rarity, a cat who only appears when times are set to get tough and when the other cats need her the most. And Mara is the most powerful Sender to have ever appeared in Nizamuddin.  A series of extraordinary events follow Mara’s arrival, such as encounters with tigers and a battle for survival against a crazed and bloodthirsty group of feral cats, but it all ends…well, I suppose.

In fact, the end is pretty ambiguous. You think it ends well, but when you really consider it, you can no longer be sure. The attitude of the Bigfeet towards the cats seems to change a little and Mara still has to struggle with her fears and doubts, but there is no immediate threat to the cats’ survival in Nizamuddin. It seems like a happy ending, but I highly doubt it. There’s no end to danger in the lives of street animals and the saga of the cats of Nizamuddin is endlessly fascinating. If Roy ever decides to come out with a sequel, I will be one of the first in line to buy it. Even flipping through the book affords one such pleasure. The illustrations by Prabha Mallya are beautiful and they fit in exactly with how you imagine the characters would look like.

While I loved the book, there were some things that bothered me. One was the names of the cats, such as Southpaw, Abol and Tabol, Qawwali, Affit and Davit. These are human words and I’m not entirely sure how they fit into cat vocabulary, especially since the cats refer to the humans as ‘Bigfeet’. That last detail, then seems like a superficial touch, which exists merely to add a touch of the ‘cute’ to the story.

Nevertheless, this is a book that I will hold on to – the story is worth visiting again and the illustrations, like I said before, take the experience to whole other level.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

Herland: A Dystopian Motherland

Recent paperback edition

Recent paperback edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was, for me, one of the more interesting discoveries of the Fantasy & Sci-Fi class in Coursera. I had read Gilman before: her fascinating and highly disturbing short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, to be exact. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you do. It’s freely available on Project Gutenberg, as is Herland.

Now, I won’t say that Herland is as accomplished a story as The Yellow Wallpaper. The latter stirs me deeply; it stirs a visceral reaction, which is part horror and part pity. And that’s exactly what its meant to do. It makes us shudder because we see what supposedly ‘benevolent’ subjugation can do to a woman. In Herland, on the other hand, we’re presented with the picture of a world populated only by women. There’s no question of subjugation. Everything runs smoothly and like clockwork and the world is as pretty as a painting. Nevertheless, there are some disturbing aspects to this supposedly ‘perfect’ world, and those are what I chose to write about for my Coursera essay. Read and enjoy!

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s book, Herland is presented as a Utopia which is free from disease, corruption, poverty and other vices that mar the rest of human civilization. But is it really the wonderful place that Gilman makes it out to be? Throughout the novel, one finds references to the practice of Eugenics in this nation where women, who are deemed unfit for the task, are prohibited from becoming mothers.

While the basic idea behind this selective motherhood is sound – that only the most capable should ideally be doing a job that comes with so much responsibility – modern democratic sensibilities rebel against it. There’s no denying that a woman’s role goes beyond the bearing and rearing of children, but it is entirely a woman’s prerogative to have children or not. In this matter, Herland citizens behave in a manner that would seem out of place in the kind of ‘Utopia’ that Gilman seems to be describing. After all, the freedom to procreate that we take for granted,  is something that is protected even in the most tyrannical societies. Whether a person is a ‘suitable’ parent is not for the state to judge, unless the child herself is in grave mental and physical danger.

What makes this even more disturbing is that, early in the story, the Herland citizens tell the three visitors that they have ‘bred out’ nuisances like dogs and cattle. Later, we find out that Herland also ‘breeds out’ girls who are seen as posing a danger to the stability of their society.  Would this be allowed to happen in a truly Utopian society?

Just like other stories before it, Herland points towards the dangers of ‘Utopian’ fantasies – whether they are seemingly harmless like Gilman’s or Hitler’s more brutal vision. This may not have been the conclusion that Gilman wished for readers of Herland to draw, but reading the book today does raise these questions.