Creative birthing..Are you in labor yet?

On a flight to California from Chicago, unable to rest my mind which is stimulated from reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet, here I am struggling to move my fingers on my laptop (courtesy the person in front of me who decided to extend his back rest) and yet experiencing no discomfort penning down my thoughts. At this point I don’t know whether it’s a blog or the beginning of a book and I am OK not knowing it.

Let’s dive into the subject at hand!Like most creatives who have experienced this, birthing of an idea is similar to child birth where conception occurs long before the actual child is born. There is gap between when an idea germinates in your conscience and the day you act on it. It is not that you as the bearer of the idea don’t want to act on it but it’s the fact that not everything else has come together yet for the successful birthing of that seed thought. Much like farming, you sow the seeds and it grows into a plant only when all the other conditions around it are just right.  I am one of those people who believe that the child chooses its parents and the surroundings in which it would like to be born and where the utmost growth could occur for her. Similarly, we don’t choose the ideas we work on but the ideas choose us. More often than not the bearers of the idea will experience anxiety and restlessness within themselves because they know they are not acting on something but if the time isn’t right yet, it just won’t feel right and will evaporate into thin air. Just like a woman always carries an egg inside of her and waits for the right man to co-create a child, so does the bearer of an idea have to wait until she finds the right time to fertilize her seed thought. This happens to be a very private, personal and self-consuming affair. It isn’t meant for someone who can’t be comfortable with solitude. In some ways, bearing a child is easier on one’s mind because for the most part, one knows what to expect and is aware fully well that she is bearing a child. When you are carrying an idea, you don’t even know that you are pregnant and how are you to know that you will need to carry this mixed bag of anxiety and joy inside of you until such time as deemed fit to deliver it. You are also aware that you will know when the time is right to birth it and you also know that you will doubt yourself when that happens. It is at this point that one makes a key decision. This decision is let go of the ‘I’ in you and surrender yourself to this entire process as it occurs. You choose to roll with it and take a leap of faith. Not everything from this point on will be a known and yet you will know that the birthing needs to continue. That’s the only known and you are aware that you aren’t the owner but a trustee here. A vehicle, a vessel, a medium through which the idea needs to be conceived, received, held, nurtured and delivered. It is perhaps the most selfish and selfless act at once.

Drawing parallels with the delivery process of a child, a creative idea takes form in the following ways:

  • Organically i.e. with less intervention or help from others. This could be a single person or more than one person acting in synergy without much input from anyone else. It could be closely guarded until the idea has been born and taken form. You could utilize the assistance of people with special skills like midwives who are present and hold space while assisting you in giving birth. These could be people who have necessary skills that you don’t possess yourself but find it imperative to the birth of the idea. Examples could be people who could assist in marketing, finance, networking etc but who are veru rightly holding the space for you and not threatening your rights as the idea bearer.
  • C-section- this is perhaps when an interventionist who was not party to the idea germination process acts as a doctor who advises a C-section for the health and safety of both the mother and child. This albeit would never be the most preferred option, is much needed for the idea to come to life else it risks never seeing the light of day. Such an interventionist could be a mentor or a close confidante who enjoys trust and credibility with the idea bearer.

In either of the above cases, one will have to experience first-hand the process of going through labor. This is the phase when you know that you can no longer hold the idea in. It is asking to have a life of its own as was intended. These are the times when you are compelled to act whereas earlier you could get sidetracked by other thoughts and go through a normal routine life. You may not be able to sleep//rest until you create the right conditions for the idea to be born. This could mean anything from starting a website, to begin prototyping your idea , incorporating your company , attracting other like-minded individuals, buying office space etc. More often than not, once the ball is set rolling, the other things do fall into place or you could say that you find the strength to make everything else happen.

Besides the two birthing possibilities, there are also possibilities of miscarriages, still births and the child dying right after birth. One thing that I have learned from life is not to beat yourself up over things which are not in your control. You may have been attached to your idea but when its dead for reasons other than your desire to birth it and bring it to life, you can only take it as a learning. In many entrepreneurial books, I have read that an entrepreneur’s success depends on discerning the right time to move away from a stagnant idea. You know it when it is dead but you don’t want to give up because you thought it was yours. It is here that one needs to apply the concept I suggested above in which ideas choose you and it does not work the other way round. We tend to get too involved with failures and lose time. The purpose of that failure was to help you grow and learn. It is when you understand this death, that you can respect it’s life and what it gave you in the short span that it existed. It was perhaps your first idea which gave you’ the confidence to go and talk to investors or the first piece of art you shared with the world and it is exactly this nudge that it came for. If you knew from the beginning that it would die, you wouldn’t reach here. And then one can wonder..does it really ever die? Perhaps not.

Creative birthing isn’t for the faint hearted and if you are one, then watch out..you are about to receive an upgrade..whether you like it or not!

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Walking on my unique path, I feel supported and connected to all that is Life.-Pooja Joshi

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image in here was found on pinterest and the words followed:)

My dirty laundry epiphany

My dirty laundry epiphany

I am beginning this blog with a confession for a change.Here it goes..

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Airing laundry, Mumbai

I spend a lot of my time denying my humanly flaws and limitations. Somewhere I nurture a belief that I am superior to others or better than others in some ways. Where I learned that from? Well, I will give myself credit for some personal work I did through self reflection and seeking feedback from people whom I placed at a pedestal. For the most part of my life ( just so you know..I am not 50 years old) I have also been what many people understand as a ‘spiritual seeker’. During my associations with several spiritual organizations and teachers I believed that I was being ‘good’ and doing ‘good’ by being of service to people in different ways. I was almost convinced that I did not have much stuff to process and that I was just a few meditations away from having a ‘halo’ around my head ( I smile as I write this). My life was hunky dory until some relationships mirrored my stuff to me i.e. rigidity, ‘I am right and you are not’, extend your wisdom only when asked. My intention in writing this here is to say that today I am willing to acknowledge my own ‘shadows’ or ‘ego issues’. I have often found myself irritated and frustrated when I have projected my issues onto other people which in itself has been a learning process. Phew! An example of a epiphany would be that I may be available to help another person in some kind of distress with insights/tools/experiences/ways to better themselves etc etc..but every individual has a choice to not accept my offering at that point. Also, I may not necessarily be everyone’s ‘teacher’ ( there’s that dreaded word). I have had to learn to hold back and offer myself only when asked. Believe me, it’s a very hard lesson. Why am I writing all of this? Today while I was in the gym, I stumbled upon the idea of relating the process of washing clothes in a washing machine / manually to our internal cleansing process if you will. Bear with me as I describe this mundane process: we take our dirty laundry, insert in a machine, choose the spin cycle depending on how dirty the clothes are or the nature of the fabric, add detergent and let the cleaning begin. The inherent assumption here is that we recognize we have some dirty laundry. If we refuse to see it (and I have lived with some roommates who stunk the rooms with their laundry…digressed, ok), it keeps piling up and the stench grows. Assuming we are fairly reasonable people, we take our laundry and begin the process of cleaning. Our detergent is our external cleaning agent to intensify the process and our helpers are the adjustments in the cycles. My aha moment happened when I thought…there is a point in the cleaning process when the dirt coexists with the cleaning. These are simultaneous occurrences and over a period of time and effort, the dirt gets washed off. Beep, beep!!! In my personal life, I have found relationships to be instrumental in highlighting my dirty laundry. It does take a couple of blows in different intensities to identify and acknowledge – ‘my bad’, ‘ I am wrong’ and the likes. I know it in my body when I am trying to deny something that has come up for me. I become defensive, feel tight in my shoulders and breathe shallow. Some individuals tend to use guilt and shame towards themselves to which I can say today ‘hey..whatever works for you’. However I love myself too much to put myself through that ‘spin’ and I tend to choose a gentle cycle. Interestingly enough, I am now fairly comfortable acknowledging my flaws and find it easier to relax knowing that ‘both are needed’ i.e. the dark and the light (I thought of the Chinese yin-yang symbol while writing this).As I work on my strengths and increase my capacity to be aware of my limitations, I need to sit with some level of discomfort on a daily basis. I can also say that ‘this is just a part of being human’. As I accept myself better, it will also reflect in the nature of my relationships. As is said in some schools of thought, once your awareness has increased, you cannot be the same person as you were. Our external cleaning agents which we can use could be journaling, meditation, talking to a friend, personal coaching and just being open to that inner voice that exists in all of us. Isn’t it much easier to be in the flow..instead of holding on to dirt and adding unwanted weight!So..what do you need to clean up? Hahaha.

After all family is family…

It has taken me quite an experience to understand this fact of life. For years I heard people say this to me and I was also fortunate to see some people act on this belief. Being a person who needs to experience things first hand to understand them ( you can read it stubborn), it was not an auto response for me to nod my head when my father said to me ‘ in trying times, it is only your family that comes to your rescue’. In my share of life experiences I had seen friends and well wishers come to your help when it was needed and when they couldn’t I just did not take it as an opportunity to fall back on my father’s words. I always believed that you meet people in your life as per your needs and friends become your extended family or sometimes even acquaintances reach out to you when you need it the most. It is also important to mention that these experiences I am referring to occurred in my life when I had the luxury of having a permanent roof on my head ( provided by my father) and some money in my bank account (courtesy my employer). What I needed the most then was more of emotional support and I sought it from my friends.
Today, I am a student in a foreign country (US of A) who does not have a permanent income or accommodation. Being a romantic optimist I chose a university where I do not have any family relatives or friends that I knew from before. Somewhere in my heart I used to feel that life was too easy for them who had relatives that they could lean on when they needed. I would see some of my roommates who would go live with their relatives over the weekends and could count on them when they needed some help in this foreign land. When I saw the relatives help my roomies I would think , it need not just be family but anyone (who is your friend) would come to help you when you need it. Fortunately in addition to a couple of Indian friends, I also made some non Indian friends here who helped me go to a grocery store (you had to have a car to move around in the uncivilized neighborhood I lived in), drop me home from school, help me shift apartments and the likes. These experiences affirmed my beliefs that there are good people out there in the world to help you out. I felt that these people who helped me until then were my friends and I thanked the guy above for having met these people. What I am going to share further is completely a personal experience and I don’t intend to generalize it. Two months ago I fell very sick and I had to be hospitalized for a serious respiratory infection. This was sudden and I had not dreamt that I am going to need hospitalization. That day in my head when I was searching for someone to come and get me stuff I needed, I could just think of one name of the many friendships I thought I had developed here. It could be my shortcoming but some of my other experiences had made me aware of some cultural differences between Americans and Indians. A small example would be that I felt the degree of cautiousness surrounding common cold/cough and the likes among the people who were brought up here was very high compared to what I have seen back home. At times it irritated me and at times I was successful in making myself see the benefits of being so cautious. When I fell sick, my head told me that I should not try and call someone who generally is overcautious about avoiding infections. I did debate with myself saying that may be the people I was thinking about may understand the complexity of my present situation however I decided against putting anyone through such a dilemma and called on the one person I had no doubts would understand.

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Boston

During my stay at the hospital, I recalled the times when one of my family members fell sick and without a second thought we would do what was required. When I was here in a foreign land without anyone whom I could assume would bring me my clothes/ food and other basic stuff I remembered how members of a family perform such duties as an ‘auto’ function. As much as I am thankful for the two friends who helped me the most during this period, I did gain a far better understanding of what it means to be a family. No matter how strained your relationship, when need arises its your family that takes over the situation and understands your needs even before you verbalize them. I have been fortunate to find such support with people who are not ‘related’ to me however there is always a limit to what friends can do. Some willingly cross that limit and go out of their way to be around you when you need it but that limit always stays. Beyond that limit is when you enter the circle of your family and close relatives. Sometimes members of extended family may do it as an obligation but I guess it still counts because at the end of the day they do help. I have not personally experienced the ‘extended family’ reaching out to help part but have seen this happen with people around me when cousins and uncles traveled distances to settle their niece/ nephew in this place they would otherwise be foreigners to. Perhaps, you can say that I have learned to appreciate some relationships when I did not have them around me.