2021 in Retrospect

2021 was an incredibly hard year for many, including me, but I am hopeful that 2022 will be better.

This time last year I was enthusiast about the year 2021 as the entire world was suffering from Corona Virus, and was looking forward to hear the news that the pandemic is over. Who knew that 2021 turned out to be worse, and would shake up our lives? We seen the virus being less dangerous at times, but most of the times, it was still spreading fast. In India, we had a very unfortunate 2nd wave of Covid. Way too many people were critical and lost their lives, including a member of my family.

Gosh, who would have thought that we would face something like this? My heart goes out to those who lost their loved ones or suffered from crisis financially and emotionally. It feels so surreal, yet, here we are, at the end of another year that many would just write-off and forget, including me.

As this year started, I was faced with an unexpected health issue which required an emergency surgery. As the year progressed, Junior had a surgery to get his tumour removed. Then we faced the deadly 2nd wave of Corona Virus, where a family member lost his life. As we were just recovering from the loss, my parents tested positive for Covid, in which my father’s health rapidly declined. During the same time, Junior too fell critically ill. The E. Coli bacteria had made a comeback and Junior had started urinating blood and throwing up.

In all this mess, I had to take care of myself and would get myself tested for Covid every week as I had to step out of the house for Junior’s treatment. My anxiety has broken all barriers this year. Besides stressing about the outcome and thinking about the worse case scenarios, I had developed a lot of physical symptoms which I have mentioned in my older post.

Well, it doesn’t end here. As my father and Junior were recovering, my mobile got stolen. When I asked the Universe “can this year get any worse?” I wasn’t challenging it………ha ha ha ha! But right before the year is about to end, I was robbed.

With the daily barrage of bad news from around the world and in my personal space, the only thing I knew was to keep myself busy and out of my head, if I was to maintain my sanity. Which to my surprise, I successfully did by finally overcoming my anxiety. All these unfortunate events gave me some time to self reflect and the first thing that came into my mind was “I cannot live like this and be a slave of my own mind and thoughts.”

This was the best thing that happened this year. I am not saying I have cured my anxiety, but now I very well know how to control it and not drown in it like I did all these years. I am still working on myself and learning about myself every day. By God’s grace, everyone is in good health now and fortunately, the year is ending on a good note.

In my endeavour to stay positive, I started to appreciate and find joy in small, everyday things. That’s the first thing you can do to start living a mentally healthy life.

I always thought that I had made a lot of positive changes in my life after my separation from my ex husband. But this year made me realise that I was not even half way there. The biggest change that I had to make was in my head, and I am proud to say that I came full circle. The hapless events were a blessing in disguise for me.

What this year really taught me was 1) focusing on the positive, no matter how small, 2) acceptance, which helped me in handling conflicts and uninvited events with a better prospective, 3) health is wealth, mentally and physically active life is the need of the hour, and 4) having a hobby, which can turn into a side income, as well as keep you busy in doing something you love.

So, in retrospect to 2021, it was an opportunity for me to take a step back, reflect and make some positive changes. Who knows what 2022 has in store for all of us? All I can wish for a better year and look forward to it in enthusiasm.

Here’s wishing you all a Very Happy, Healthy and A Successful New Year! Please stay Safe and Positive!

How much freedom is too much freedom?

Is there such a thing as too much freedom? In case of dogs, I don’t think that such a thing exists! Atleast in my house. What I believe is, dogs are already confined to in one house, if you have a backyard, then one house and a backyard. In that, if you restrict them to not enter the kitchen or bedroom or on the bed, then it is not fair. But this is entirely my perspective. And far more easier for me as I live alone.

Casper and Junior had no restrictions in the house. They were and are allowed on the couch, bed, kitchen, practically everywhere. They had full access to the house. But before we achieved this freedom, I have paid a little price for it. That is, I had to train both my dogs so that there were no accidents or damage. The price I paid was, eaten walls, eaten wires, damaged shoes, a little fall here and there, peeing anywhere, broken crockery, eating scraps in the kitchen, and some more little accidents.

But this freedom still comes with a price. There is dog hair everywhere. On the couch, bed, kitchen platform, wardrobes, bathrooms, etc. As I mentioned earlier, it is easier for me as I live alone and I pretty much now cannot live without coming across dog hair from anything I use.

However, there are some dogs that cannot be left loose in the whole house. If that’s the case with your dog, do not get disappointed. You can always crate train them. Crates are great to keep the dog safe and out of trouble. Since I was always of the opinion that dogs should be left loose in the house, I never found the need to get a crate and trained them accordingly. I had also trained my dogs to stay alone at home when I was not there. Again, initially I paid a price for it, because when I came home, I would find poop at random places or torn mattress or chewed bottles, etc. I never left them alone for long hours and they always had access to fresh drinking water. Also, they were always fed before I left the house as I have also managed my time according to their feeding schedule.

So, if you are thinking about giving your dog full freedom and if your dog is still having accidents or if he’s chewing off-limit items, it may be too challenging for him to be left loose while home alone at this point. Just keep working on the basics and use a crate for now. There is no magic age that says dogs can suddenly be given more freedom. It all depends on your unique dog’s behavior, so just be patient.

Don’t think about giving your dog too much freedom too quickly. You have to build a solid behavioral foundation for him first. I would like to bring one important point to your notice, i.e. never force your dog into the crate and never use it as a punishment. Always create a positive atmosphere by using treats and extra goodies like stuffed toys or durable toys while you are away.

Besides crates, there are also pet gates. They are fold-able and portable. Let’s say, you do not want your dog in the kitchen. You can put the gate at your kitchen entrance and restrict your dogs from entering the kitchen. Or you can use these gates anywhere in the house where you do not want your dog to have access to.

Now, let me make one thing clear. If your dog is trained and goes hours without any trouble in house, doesn’t mean he can be let off leash or let roam free outside your house and in your locality. No matter how well trained and well behaved your dog is, it is neither safe nor appropriate to allow your dog to roam free or off leash outside, even with supervision.

Every dog is unique. With time, you will understand your dog’s behavior and will be able to take a call if your dog can be allowed in the whole house or restricted to a particular area. None of the decisions will be wrong. Start by leaving your dog alone for 30 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. Accordingly adjust the time as per their meal schedules and your work schedules. If you do not want them on the bed, get them their own bed. I would also like to suggest to not leaving your dogs in the crate all day long. Besides their walks, let them play or roam a little in the house or your backyard.

Never punish your dogs, specially for making funny Instagram or TikTok Videos

Although everyone wants to give their puppy plenty of space to play and explore, allowing it free run of the house too early on is a sure recipe for disaster. Keep setting your puppy up for success by making sure it has toys to play with, has had plenty of exercise beforehand, and has already gone to the toilet.

Eventually, once he is able to go a full month without making any mistakes, he will be truly ready to roam the house on his own. Don’t expect a completely smooth process- but do expect a rewarding one as you develop an unspoken bond with your dog.

It’s Ok to Not Be Ok

It’s really OK to not be OK. Everyone has their own struggles, and it’s OK to struggle. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help, and it’s the first step to becoming OK. While it’s easy to let emotions cloud over our judgment, the challenge in life (and at being successful) is being able to control yourself. “Not only is it ok to not feel ‘ok,’ it is essential. It is essential to feel your emotions every now and then to understand which area of our life needs a change or needs to let go off. 

I know this topic has been discussed a lot of times before, but today I am going to talk about my personal experience. The most important life lesson I have learnt from not being ok all the time is, “Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

Ever since my separation, my life has been a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes I am screaming out of joy and sometimes tears are flowing down my eyes out of loss or fears. Many a times I even questioned myself if my divorce was worth it, and most of the times I feel I am better off alone than being in a relationship where I had to question my self-worth every day.

But is life only about marriage, relationships or partners? Woefully, 90% of the times – YES! It is said, that it is very important to choose a good life partner as majority of your life revolves around them. Find the Yin in your Yang. Throw out the idea of perfect, as none of us are. But having a trustworthy partner by your side clears a lot of stumbling blocks.

Take me for example. I have everything I need. I have a source of income, a beautiful dog, a house, my parents and siblings, extended family and some friends who genuinely care, hobbies, beauty, and education. Looking at me, everyone feels I am a very lucky and a strong girl and lack nothing. Infact, many even advice me to stay single all my life as being with a partner will increase my responsibility and headache…..ha ha ha ha!

But the truth is; I am lonely. Not depressed, not sad, not suicidal, plain lonely. There are days when I cry my eyes out of fear. Fear of dying alone. Fear of not finding the right partner before I become too old, fear of not having kids as my body won’t be able to take it as I age, fear of keeping all the love within me that I have to share. I am not ok, and it’s ok.

Life cannot be spent alone and it is very important to have a trustworthy and genuine partner. Majority of the people regretted and confessed on their death bed of not spending enough time with their loved ones or cheating on their partners. Human bonds are made out of emotions and the emotion LOVE is supposed to create the strongest bond known to the mankind, love heals like no other medicine so if you feel unloved or unworthy due to someone’s comments or actions regarding you, let that toxic piece of shit go. No matter how much time it takes for you to be okay, take your time and value the presence of people in your life who are holding you altogether no matter how bad the situation is, just hold onto them and most importantly HOLD ONTO YOURSELVES and trust me YOU WILL BE OKAY and bursting with happiness again.

One of my cousins’, who is a Tarot Card Reader, was telling me that, majority of her clients, infact 99% of her clients have questions relating to only Love and Relationships. She said; everyone’s life is only revolving around boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. Infact, even their careers and money matters are directly/indirectly connected to their partners. No one is happy, but no one wants to change their own self. My cousin always advises her client and others in general to love yourself first, feel your emotions and “it’s ok to not be ok all the time.”

This is exactly what I practice. When I am not ok, I just be with myself and let my emotions flow. I don’t do anything to stop it. Sometimes it gets too overwhelming, so that time I ask for help, like I call someone up and talk to them or meet someone or exercise. Besides having everything I need and more, I am still not ok. Every so often I keep thinking about the past. Or fear of the future. On occasions I even dwell too deep in fear on a simple statement when someone asks me about my dog’s age and their average life span. I fear losing Junior. At times, I fear losing my parents as they are turning old. Earlier I was ready to get married to a guy who was living 1000s of miles away abroad. But now I refuse to even leave my city, forget even another state. This pandemic made us change our priorities.

You are allowed to change your mind, to take a break or leave a situation if you don’t feel comfortable, I am very much righty-ho to leave friends behind or people behind with whom I am not congenial anymore or that I have realized they were with me only for their benefits and convenience. I am not a people pleaser anymore and I don’t care how many years of friendship we had in the past.

Rough patch, a bad day, a major setback. Sometimes, it seems like one thing goes wrong after another. And another, and another. Sometimes an unexpected challenge or an obstacle might come my way, and I find myself stressing out, worrying and not knowing what to do. And, some days, I just have nothing – zero motivation, no creativity. All of a sudden, I am being plagued with self-doubt. And some days, I am on top of this world. An unexpected income, a surprise gift, a stagnant work kicks off or even a phone call from a long lost friend makes my day.  But it’s ok. I am human after all, and without the downs, I would have never valued the ups and got the maturity I have today.  I don’t know if things will ever go back to the way they used to be. What I do know is that admitting that I’m not doing too well, even to myself, wasn’t easy. But with time, as I mentioned above, I learnt to be ok with not being ok, and realized that removing time for me was not a selfish move.

We all should be allowed to fall apart sometimes, so that we can find ourselves again. What is not ok is staying there and making it your comfort zone. Once you are done feeling all your emotions, get up once again and try once again. Go out there, look good for yourself, work for yourself, exercise for yourself, and if again you feel like your emotions are taking over, let them.

Its okay to fully experience whatever it is you’re feeling. It’s okay to say that you’re not okay. And that means your feelings and emotions are valid, no matter what they are. Take the time you need to rest, recharge, and breathe. Take care of yourself the best way you know how. You know yourself better than anyone.