You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. – Richard Bach I have had a couple of intense weeks what with some meditation classes, some yoga sutra studies, some intense conversations with an aunt and uncle on philosophy and life – all of it seemingly asking me to try to be the best version of me. It can get to you, you know! Do not get me wrong. I loved the meditation challenge. I loved the conversations. The understanding that came to me is incredible. I am able to understand and respect the fact that “every one is at that point in their life through some struggles…..no matter what we think”. But, what I like the most though is just being! Conversing or thinking intensely is not my strong suit. I sit looking out the window at the dull yard in contemplation, pausing what I am doing. The weather report promises a sunny day, temperatures building up to a high of 32F by 4 pm. I smile. I know that sun is welcoming, no matter the temperature! I draw my attention back to the piece of paper on which I am making a rangoli. This has been an activity that absolutely helps me keep calm, rejuvenates me and one that I miss so very much. While every festival is an opportunity to make a pattern at the front door, winters get particularly hard. So here I am sitting with a dot kolam, struggling to see the pattern and not able to, staring out the window. This struggle brings to mind the mandalas that many people in my yoga group are familiar with and the conversations around it. I am always surprised with their amazement at mandals! The number of rangolis made and cleaned in India are not even given a second thought! Given, making mandala is a different story. I am also not attached to the rangolis I make either, no matter how beautiful it comes out. How is gardening different from making a mandala or a rangoli even? All that back breaking work through spring and summer only to see the work wither away come fall and winter, and the cycle continues. Yet, I am eager to get out and can't wait to get my hands dirty! Continuing to look through the window, I am enthralled with the trees standing bare, showing their true form without the camouflage of leaves. The beauty of course, is in the eyes of the beholder. The Sunrise is rising earlier by the day, even if only by a minute and the trees look breathtakingly beautiful. I sigh, taking another look at the design in front of me and suddenly I see a pattern that I had missed earlier! I am thrilled. I am busy finishing off what I had started. Finally! Perhaps it is my mom coming in my dreams often this past week, asking me to relax - one time inviting me to sit down with her friends with a glass of wine and another time, enacting a scene telling me life is just an adventure, asking me to enjoy it. I must have gotten pretty serious about myself, if my mom who was the most serious person I ever knew, is asking me not to take me so seriously! I realize that “thoughts create a world inside us and then there is this beautiful world around us, the external or outside world.” Mindfulness is being aware of those inner thoughts, realizing their ephemeral nature and reconnecting with the world around! It is easy to lose that connection you know. I have been reading stories about barbies and role models, the inspiration presidents take from what they surround themselves with and such! As I light the lamp to God before I head out to work, I too wonder about role models and inspirations but for now, all I can think of is a four-year-old who one time had asked me if it was God’s Happy Birthday as I lit the lamp while he was playing in the room! What a beautiful thought that is! Talking of birthdays, I get a birthday wish once a day, sometimes even twice or thrice and yes, I do age as rapidly as the wishes come, aging by four years in a single day! These young minds that I teach have been struggling to find my actual age. So, every day is “happy 34thth or 50th or 52nd birthday Mrs.S” and as of yesterday I am already 64 years old! I walk into my classroom armed with the word of the day – Gobbledygook. I explain the word and look around for a reaction. After some laughter and excitement trying to say the word, a hand goes up and this kiddo sheepishly yet wanting to be the class clown goes “If a smart kid speaks nonsense all the time, can he be called a Gobbledygeek?” Despite myself, I burst out into laughter finally losing all that seriousness I had built around myself the past couple of weeks! I feel instantly light hearted. The week seems to have just begun and we are already into a snow day! Who would have thunk shoveling snow can be so much fun! I am glad that shoveling seems like a normal thing (at least) to do in these unusual times and yes, I did say “thunk” for my students always choose to use these unusual words every now and then just to get me to say “Come on, kiddos you speak one language. Do it well!” Little rascala…s Kids I tell you. Perhaps I have tapped into that spiritual playful being, finally -for now at least!