I have a corner seat in my office where I can lift the blinds from the tall glass window and glance outside. When I am writing and can’t find the right word or tone, or even mood, I just gaze outside or stand next to the glass trying to capture inspiration from a tiny piece of concrete- ensnared Universe.
When I lifted the blinds this morning, I saw a yellow butterfly in a small manicured green patch. Throughout the day I shivered in the office air conditioning while admiring the blue sky and the cotton candy clouds, imagining it to be a pleasant winter morning. The truth is after a week of regular Monsoon rainfall, the sun was back with vengeance. The washed sunlight was extremely harsh outside. I felt sad for the yellow helmet-clad cleaning and construction guys. Somehow, their work never seems to end.
The sun beat down upon them as they shoveled through their assigned chores. I wonder if they saw the butterfly, or the sky, or the white cloud drifting by. All I could do was sigh, return to my desk to work, and pay my taxes so that the world still goes around, and there is always a patch of grass that needs to be manicured. Such is life!
A poignant post on LinkedIn by a woman leader about work from home and personal life “imbalance” caught my eye yesterday. You can read Kim Crean’s post – She wrote me a note – here. It got me reassessing how it’s never been easy for working parents. The pandemic-driven work from the home situation has brought all our job stress, conversations, and reactions to the home.
Children hear everything; they imbibe our stress; they wonder about our problems. They are struggling with loneliness and online education. As a parent, I have had moments like these in the past 2 years. The workday begins early and goes on until you can convince yourself not to check the next email.
The lessons I learned was to:
Keep the weekends free and for the home. Resist the temptation to check emails unless there is something really important going on. Every weekend cannot have something demanding urgent attention.
Be aware of your child’s schoolwork and online interactions. Let them know you are there to guide them. Take interest in their day. I helped my son with some essays for his winter break homework this week and I enjoyed it. We learned things together.
Take a break, sneak in a snack, indulge in a light banter in between work, just as you would do in the office. Don’t remain glued to your home office. Your child will also get a break from constant screen viewing.
Even the youngest of kids can understand things explained to them. So, if you know there is an important meeting coming up, let them know. Talk about the importance of being quiet and disciplined for that half-an-hour. Thank them for adjusting. Reward appropriately, if needed. Acknowledge their contribution to your work life. It usually sets a trend and the children pick up cues for similar circumstances.
My 11-year old has held up post-it notes asking something when I am on a call. How different is it from diversions at the workplace – the message ping, a quick scribble of Lunch! on your desk whiteboard by a colleague, a gesture from across the hallway by a friend? It is not. Take it all in your stride.
We are humans navigating the strangest of times. Be gentle with yourself. A few years down the line you will recall. these days with your children. Your family 👪 is the best team you are working with right now.
I usually sleep after midnight but on New Year’s eve, I dozed off at 11:00 pm. I was brutally woken up by loud wailing. It took a moment to realize it was people shouting, hooting, and celebrating from balconies in our gated community to usher in 2022. The jubilation still sounded like wailing to me!
I lay half-awake thinking the word to describe this cacophony is “lament.” Even the bursting of firecrackers could not shake off this thought. At one point it became eerie. Maybe it was the memory of gloom and despair playing on my mind. When you know a large part of the world is hurting and fearful, the dread seeps in to our lives. How we perceive the world around us depends on our inner state.
Each one to their own. The optimists do make our world better and keep alive hope but 2021 was cruel. The cheerful and the inherently happy bring a much-needed emotional balance. The New Year 2022 starts as a reflection of the past 2 years, with similar events unfolding. It is as if we are stuck in an endless cycle. In 2022, many lost loved ones and suffered emotionally and financially. Last night for every cheer there was a tear, somewhere, and this is a realization that stayed with me. This is a humbling thought and even in the background of sadness, it fills me with gratitude. Hope and gratitude remain the driving force for another circumambulation around the sun.
The threat is not from artificial intelligence but our eroding intelligence.
While I am quite a techno-enthusiast and a fan of emerging tech wizardry, I am not keen on a virtual world as a way of existence. It’s all hep and geeky when used for specific and specialized purposes in a controlled environment. It is scary as an extension of our personal lives, infiltrating our homes.
I am all for virtual robotic surgeries or a few global corporate off-sites, maybe simulated training but I don’t want a virtual holiday or have children don avatars and hone online personas. I would rather have my son scuba-dive than wear virtual reality (VR) glasses to “experience” the ocean world.
It started with the small blue notepad his mother handed over to him. She was busy in the grocery aisle; he was running around, getting in the way. She ripped out her shopping list and gave the notepad to him to entertain himself. His 6-year old fingers doodled and channeled his tiny self out of trouble.
Waiting in the checkout line, she entertained him by dictating all the items in her shopping cart. He was proud of his first list. He felt almost grown-up that day. After all, writing and list-making was the effortless skill of adults. A notebook became his constant companion.