Blog

Unsolicited Advice…My Fear of Driving…And Why Words Matter

So, as I said in my last post, my husband had his first seizure two years back. At the time, we were extremely stressed and I was even more vulnerable than usual. I know a lot of people who hide these things from others for a variety of reasons. However, being the younger kid (I guess?), I always look for support from those around me. I tell everyone close to me if I’m going through a rough time, and look to them for support and for telling me that everything will be okay.

I derive my strength from my support system and I’m fortunate that I’m surrounded by the kindest, most caring of people (touchwood), who are always available for us. However, after my husband’s first seizure, I realized that outside of our support system, there were a lot of people ready with unsolicited advice that didn’t have anything to do with our concerns at the time.

Since then, I observed others’ and my own interactions with people, and I noticed that unsolicited advice is, more often than not, people’s (including me) spontaneous response to conversations about challenges. So, I have been trying my best, since then, to listen without interruptions to anyone sharing their worries with me, and respond to them with anything other than unsolicited advice. There have been slip-ups, yes, but I try to make up for them through follow-up conversations.

The main reason why unsolicited advice fails, according to me, is that it is based on the premise that others’ priorities are the same as ours. At the time of his first seizure, my husband was a commercial driver. So, our first concern was about the status of his job, since we knew his licence would be suspended after his seizure. Second, we were worried about the reason behind the seizure. We were still getting a lot of tests done, at that point, so we didn’t know if there was anything we needed to worry about. That being said, when some of our acquaintances found out about the seizure, their first worry was that I didn’t drive. They felt that this would add to my husband’s stress (one of the possible triggers for seizures) as we would have to walk to get groceries or take cabs for doctors’ appointments.

Although this unsolicited advice came from a good place (like all advice does), it was as thoughtless as the firefighter’s comment in my previous post. One, because it ignored our state of mind and all our concerns about the seizure. Two, because it made me feel like I was adding to my husband’s stress, which was even worse than the first.

Instead of giving advice, when someone is venting out their stress, we should let them get it all out of their system. Especially when someone has been through a challenging situation, we should quietly listen to them. When they’re done, we should probably say something like – ‘I’m sorry you have to go through this. Tell me what I can do to help.’ Some of the beautiful gestures shown by our loved ones after these episodes have been:

  • Coming over with food and watching our kids (not possible this time, due to Covid-19)
  • Leaving food, snacks and flowers outside our door (this year)
  • Getting groceries
  • Checking in on us from time to time
  • Helping out with hospital visits/stays

My husband had his third seizure earlier this month, and with the stress of Covid-19 and life, in general, a little sensitivity/kindness from people around goes a long way towards decreasing our stress and anxiety levels. I understand why driving seems so important, particularly in the current scenario, and I would love to learn how to drive…I have tried taking lessons twice, but perhaps because of a nasty accident we were in, when I was a child (I’m not completely sure why), I dread being behind the wheel. I know it is up to me to overcome my fear, and perhaps some day I will, but until I do, criticism from people hardly increases my drive to drive (sorry…word play runs through my veins). In fact, it bothered me so much that I wrote a poem about it, in typical writers’ fashion.

What are your thoughts about unsolicited advice? Do you think it is justified? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Do let me know through comments or drop me a message here. Stay safe and well, everyone.

Here is my poem. It is a little dramatic, when you read it in context, but a poem is the perfect place for a little drama, don’t you think?

Behind the Wheel

They made me sit behind the wheel again.

“A woman must learn how to drive,”

they said, condescendingly,

“Learn how to be independent.”

I silently chuckled as they failed to comprehend

The inherent irony of their claims;

As they took me on a road I didn’t recognize,

To a destination I had no inkling of.

As I struggled to find my way

On the path they chose for me,

Their loud lamentations deafened my ears,

And their passionate protests clasped my mind.

“Women are such bad drivers,”

They derisively exclaimed,

“They have no sense of direction, I say!”

I listened to them silently,

Filled not with rage, but a surprising determination.

Oh, I will sit behind the wheel again;

I will learn how to drive.

I will learn how to drive when I’m guided

By the music of the clouds in the clear blue sky,

Not the jeers of my backseat drivers.

I will learn how to drive

When I choose my own path and destination,

Not when I have to follow another’s directions.

I will surely learn how to drive

When independence is a necessary link

In the chain of my existence,

Not a skill to be learned,

And definitely not a boon to be granted.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog, Poetry

What I Mean When I say I’m a Writer by Birth

So, if you’ve read my bio, you know I’ve been writing since the age of 5. What exactly does that mean, though? Did I scribble a few words on the page? Or was it an actual poem? See for yourself:

A Rough Translation of the Poem I wrote at Age 5

I wrote these lines in Hindi on the last page of my notebook. I remember this distinctly. I’m still amazed I didn’t use rhyme for this, but it was probably because it seemed too hard at that age. The poem went something like this:

Once upon a time, in a village,

There was a king, who was like a step-king (Cinderella was my favourite story, at the time).

He was extravagant, but did not share anything with his people.

One day, the king died.

All his soldiers cried for him. (Deep and moving, don’t you think? My thoughts were always on the negative side, I guess.)

The queen said, “I should die, too.

My husband is no more, so I don’t have

Any purpose in life anymore.” (Hmmm, Patriarchal much!?)

Smile

This one is in English. I wrote it when I was in Grade 6. It is more positive, kid-friendly and…it rhymes!

A smile is something lovely,

It is indeed very cute,

It is as sweet as someone

Playing on a flute. (I was BIG on rhyme at the time, did I mention that?)

It looks very good

On children’s face,

When they have an adventure

To some exciting place. (I was big on adventure, too, it seems.)

Smile, smile, smile, (I still love repetition – excellent device)

It is a lovely word.

It is present on children’s face

All over the world. (how marvellous!)

Work of Life

I wrote this in Grade 8. It is in English, too, and it rhymes. This and Smile were published in a local newspaper- big achievement for me.

Mother says, Study all the time,

Book of math or book of rhyme,

Brother says, What’s the time?

Brother, Brother 2 o’clock.

Sister says, Give grains to cock!
(It seems like I just let my imagination run wild on this one. I have no brother and we had no poultry in the house, except what was in the fridge, so I have no idea what I’m talking about here. My mother was always asking me to study, though, so that part is accurate.)

Father says, Polish my shoes. (Papa used to polish my shoes, at this age, so imagination at work again.)

Food is ready for the goose. (Nope, no goose either.)

Mother, Father, Husband, Wife,

This is the only work of life. (My priorities were always set, I guess. Also, is it really deep or am I just conceited?)

The Carefree River

I wrote this one in middle school, too, but it was in Hindi. This is a rough translation.

I am a carefree river,

I flow and flow all day long,

Morning or evening,

Day or night.

Even when I see a beautiful sight,

I can’t stop to admire it.

I see everything, I absorb everything,

Then, I go and find my destination

In the deep blue ocean.

I narrate everything I’ve seen on the way to him.

He tries to make me understand,

That my life is nothing more than

Flowing endlessly. (When my family read this one, they knew I was going to be a writer.)

I love that my parents always encouraged me to realize and work on developing my passion for writing. They always took me to book fairs, got me pens, notebooks, cute stationery – to indulge in my love for writing. We were always reading literature, discussing it – and that really helped me grow as a writer and as a person. I’m proud of my journey and I’m proud of the role my family has played in that journey.

Would you like to tell me about your journey? Comment below or contact me through my Contact page. You can find prints of my poems on my Etsy shop, and a few downloads on the Free Downloads page.

Blog

Life around COVID-19: Kids’ Birthdays

I feel really thankful for the things I have in life, especially since COVID-19 struck our world. So, savouring every moment and celebrating our special occasions seems even more important to me now, than it was before. This month, we are celebrating our kids’ birthdays. Since we spent the entire year between lockdowns, I wanted to record their achievements throughout the year, and cherish the fun times we had with them, despite lockdowns and not meeting anyone outside our household, for the most part.

Since both of them were born in the same month, I have decorated one wall with decorations based on my 5-year old’s preferences, and a second wall with decorations inspired by my 2-year old’s preferences. I also designed and printed posters for both of them, as recaps of their year – their choices, the things they like to do or eat, among other things, and taped those posters on their respective walls. I put collages of their pictures taken through the year, in the photo frames on the poster. Take a look.

I also got two folders, one for each of them. When I take the decorations off, I would keep these posters safe in the folders. I have decided that I would make such a poster each year, going forward, so that we can cherish these memories of our kids growing, changing, evolving little by little, every single year.

So, even though we may not be able to call our friends or our kids’ friends over for a party, this year gave us a new family tradition to follow and make our celebration of our big days a bit more unique and special.

If you would like to buy this kids’ birthday poster from toy Toronto-based business, please visit my Etsy shop.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

How I Used WordPress to Create an Online Writing Portfolio

So, I have been applying for a lot of copywriting jobs lately, and everywhere they asked me for a link to a portfolio, which I never bothered to make. Last week, I came across a job I was really excited about, so when they asked me for a portfolio, I just took the leap.

The process of creating a website for portfolio is pretty simple, and I really don’t know why I kept putting it off.

First, login or sign up at wordpress.com.

After choosing to create a website, you have to choose a name for your website. Based on that name, you will get domain name choices, like these:

I chose the free one, because I just wanted some space online to save my writing samples and examples, whose link I can share with employers. Then, I was asked to select a plan. I again chose the free one.

After that, I chose a theme. I wanted a basic layout, nothing too fancy, so I chose the simplest one I could find and just changed the content to add text and remove images.

I just picked a font pairing and then, I was directed to the page which I could customize and launch my site.

It looked something like this.

Once I was done, I just pressed the launch button and my portfolio was good to go.

Then, I just added a Portfolio page and a hidden Contact page (I provided a link for it at the Home page), but I wanted all the attention to be on my portfolio. I made my portfolio page the page to which posts will be added and I just kept adding the examples or samples of the different kinds of content as new posts.

Every time you add a new page, you have to go to Customize under Design section of the sidebar, and change the menu to include the new page. Until I did this, I was not able to see my page on the live website, even in the menu. This is how I kept my contact page hidden, too. I did not customize my menu to include it.

I will share my portfolio in another post. Please feel free to contact me if you need any more information about this, or if you feel like I have missed something out.

Need writing, editing or proofreading services? Connect with me to discuss your project.

Check out my posters on writing, available as free downloads on this website.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Life Around COVID-19: Believe in Yourself

Believe in Yourself Poster

Hello,

Here I am again to share a poster about life around COVID-19. Life in the last twelve months has been interesting, with ups and downs that we had never seen before. During this time, I have seen that the smallest of things have made me feel ecstatic, and the smallest of things have made me devastated.

Living between on-and-off lockdowns has also made me feel that I now look at my life through a microscope, analyzing, questioning everything I do, everything I don’t and everything I could or couldn’t do. While that has made me more compassionate towards others, it has ironically also made me harsher on myself.

So, I often need to remind myself repeatedly to be kind to myself, to believe in myself as I, like everyone else, am doing the best I can – and sometimes, especially in times like these, that is enough.

If you feel like you or someone you know needs this to lift their spirits, download this free printable today. I have just taken a simple print of this A4-sized poster at home and pasted it on the wall right opposite my bed with transparent scotch tape, so this is the first thing I see every morning.

Please let me know in the comments what you have been doing to feel better over the last 12 months. Stay safe, stay well, and remember to believe in yourself.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Uncategorized

Life Around Covid-19: Good Neighbours

For the past year, all of us have been steering our lives around COVID-19, haven’t we? It seems like we have been making adjustments constantly to “the new normal”, which doesn’t seem normal, somehow, even after 12 dull months, perhaps more. One after effect has been anxiety, irritation, mistrust, that I’m sure all of us have felt, at some point, in the last several months. Hostility at grocery stores, criticism for sending kids to school – there have been negative interactions quite a few times in our life around COVID-19.

So, this incident was a breath of fresh air for me, personally. I know that unwanted noise can cause a lot of anxiety when you’re stuck at home 24/7, so we take extra caution not to let the kids do anything to cause anyone any disturbance. However, the kids are housebound, too, and sometimes, it becomes difficult to achieve that. Carpets are a solution, but they accumulate a lot of dust and were making the kids show allergy-like symptoms. When our neighbour came to our door, we were embarrassed and apologetic, and seeing that she understood how hard it was for us and acknowledged it, was a big relief. We could also see that it was a relief for her that we acknowledged her perspective.

We were wondering if the interaction would have been different if either of us had an accusatory or confrontational tone. Who knows! For now, let’s just try to understand the other person’s perspective and let’s try to be “good neighbours” to make life around COVID-19 a little easier.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021