Thursday, January 28, 2016

Color Me Happy!

Of all of the mindfulness practices I've tried - meditation, journaling, yoga - coloring works best! I am totally in the moment. I lose track of time. I'm relaxed and happy . . . . All while playing with color! I think I've found my happy place!

I've been coloring alongside Sofia while she's eating breakfast in the morning. It's amazing how peaceful I feel and how much I enjoy being alongside my girl! Every morning she's complimented me on my "masterpiece" - "Mommy, that is beautiful!" - which also feels great!

My "studio" is my kitchen counter, and my supplies are Sofia's "yummy scented" gel pens (these are my fav) and a cup of tea!
Here is Tuesday's "masterpiece:" 


Yesterday I used just two colors - pink and orange - and I worked on it throughout the day, each time I got lost in the colors and felt calm and happy. 

Today I was short on time and I went with one color, and had Sofia help me finish it as I wrapped up breakfast so we could get out the door for school.
Do yourself a favor and get a coloring calendar or coloring book! You will love it!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas in India

Many people have asked me what it was like celebrating Christmas in India. In a word, "different," but it was great! I was surprised to see that Indians celebrate Christmas since only about 2% of the population is Christian. But Indians are festive and they like to celebrate. 

Sofia and her cousins woke up very early anticipating Santa's arrival. They were dying to know if Santa would find them in New Delhi. Sofia's 8-year-old cousin Lars had been up since 1 am and Sofia woke up around 3:45 a.m. Our times were still so messed up so it didn't really matter!

They were SO excited that Santa found our hotel, but very disappointed that he didn't bring them lots of gifts like he does at home. Sofia got a Kindle (which she loved - and then lost on the flight home, ugh, that's a story for another day!) After the kids recovered from their "different" Christmas morning, we hit the road for a day of sightseeing.

Our first stop was the Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, part of the Qutb Complex of red sandstone temples built by the Muslims in 1200 CE. 

Next we visited a huge Hindu temple - the Chhatarpur Temple in Old Delhi. It was very colorful and decorative. We had to take our shoes off for the whole visit. It was a bit stressful to take off our shoes since we had been cautioned not to wear sandals or open shoes to avoid water-born bacterial infections. So to walk around barefoot in Old Delhi seemed crazy. But, as my sister-in-law commented "When in Rome...." Or in this case, "When in Delhi." We survived and it was worth it.  The temple was beautiful - but very crowded. It kind of felt like Disneyland with long lines of people winding their way through the complex!


Next up on Christmas Day, we went shopping for wedding outfits for Geoff and his brother Bjorn. And then our tour guide delivered us to a great restaurant called the Chicken Inn for lunch. This guy greeted us at the front door!

The food was great and the restaurant was very festive and decorated with pastel balloons covering the ceiling. It felt more like a baby shower than Christmas! They were playing cheesy Christmas music including Alvin and the Chipmunks (the worst!). Remember I said it was a very different Christmas?!

For Christmas dinner we were invited to the home of the groom's parents for a lovely dinner with about 50 people, mostly their family and a few close friends. The hosts were so warm and hospitable and their house - which is like an art museum - was elaborately decorated and so festive. It was an honor to be included. Here are a few pics from the memorable Christmas dinner.

The children were excited because Santa made an appearance...

And so did Gandhi - with his cell phone and adorned with mistletoe!

From Santa to a Muslim world heritage site to a Hindu temple, it was a very different Christmas but fun to experience it in India.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Holy Cow, India!

Old cow in Old Delhi. Photo by Sofia, age 8.

We've been back from India for a week and I'm still wrestling with my thoughts, memories and lessons learned from this big adventure to share with all of you. I finally finished unpacking yesterday and I'm almost over jet lag - hopefully. With a full 13 1/2-hour time difference, it's quite an adjustment.

In a word, India is mind-bending.

In a nutshell, India stretched me, strained me and drained me. It also inspired and enriched me, and I'm so grateful for the experience. I'm also extremely grateful for our life at home. Travel is good for so many things - like appreciating all that we have!

India is SO very different than Seattle, or any place I've ever been for that matter. I'm actually having trouble coming up with the similarities with the western world.

There are SO many people India - or as my sister-in-law quipped one night in a tired stupor: "There are just extremely many people here."

It is also a country of extremes: extreme wealth, extreme poverty, extreme temperatures (fortunately it was very comfortable when we were there), extreme pollution, extremely many people.

New Delhi, where we spent half of our time and where the wedding was, is a city of 20 million people, in a country of 1 billion. It's the most polluted city in the world - which was very hard for me.

There are cows EVERYWHERE! I mean, everywhere. When we first arrived it seemed novel to see a cow lying on the side of the road, or running down the middle of the road. But after seeing about 1,000 cows (I'm not exaggerating), not in fields mind you, the novelty wore off. There are also stray dogs everywhere - and monkeys and pigs and elephants, and the occasional camel.

I think I now know the true meaning of culture shock. EVERYTHING in India is different - and I felt it acutely with all five senses, all the time. But it works - for them. For me, 18 days was enough!

Here I share a few pictures selected at random from our more than 2,500 that I'll be culling through to bring you the highlights: from sari shopping to the five-day wedding festivities to ancient forts, palaces and temples.