The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

night circusAs we march past this heavy month, it seemed trivial for me to round up my monthly favorites, but at the same time I am starting to appreciate some kind of normalcy to keep myself sane. In fact, I’m trying to be a lot more productive with the time I have in hand. So let’s get on with today’s post where I focus on the book I read this month, and I’ll create a separate post on my beauty favorites!

One of the main goals that I am trying to be consistent about is reading. This month, I wrapped up ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern which is a fantasy novel focused on a mysterious circus that acts as an arena for two magicians competing against each other (Note, this is not a ‘wand duel’ or ‘fighting one another with their powers’, but it’s more about showing their talent and creativity by building enchanting, magical attractions). 

The description and narration is really captivating and it pulled me into this world and mesmerized me with the magic that is portrayed. I felt myself turning the pages eager to know how the rival between the two magicians progresses (who eventually fall in love with each other) and more so the story of all other characters as well. Erin Morgenstern’s writing was simply perfect and I was amazed at how well I could perfectly imagine every place, person and event that the author writes. 

My only gripe with the novel was that towards the end , it felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere, got tiresome and I found myself ‘fast-reading’ the pages to get to the point. I truly wished the book had kept me mesmerized throughout if only it had built up the pace. However, I was really satisfied with the experience, it was a different kind of a fantasy novel from everything I’ve read so far and I am glad I gave this book a shot. 

What book did you read this month? It would be wonderful to continue this conversation and get to know about more books. I am also listening to ‘A Good Neighborhood’ by Theresa Anne Fowler on Scribd and I am thoroughly enjoying it!! Can’t wait to share my thoughts about it soon. I am halfway into completing it already. 🙂

Thank you for your time, and as I’ve been stating in the past couple of posts, 

Stay Home and Stay Safe y’all! We’ll get through this.

Season of Strength and Resilience

When days go by
But I head nowhere,
I know that I am doing some good
With this world showing a feeling of brotherhood.

I wake up in the morning with some bad news,
Only adding to my Monday blues.
I begin to wonder what our future holds,
Yet, I smile when I see the sun shining bright as my day unfolds.

Is this how it’s meant to be?

Stay stronger than ever,
Stay wiser however,
Take this moment to breathe long
And not only wish you had done this all along.

Know that we’ll get through this
With tears of gratitude and pure bliss.

~~ Stay home and stay safe my fellow humans!

Let’s focus on our hobbies!

In the midst of these panic stricken days, let’s calm ourselves by focusing on what we love, what we’ve been wanting to do, but never had the time or energy for such activities!

Why don’t we focus on the hobbies we’ve been wanting to do? I love reading and I’m so glad this is my most favorite hobby because I can stay put at home and still connect with humanity on a deeper level. Thanks to all the ebooks and audiobooks I can take this time to tackle my TBR list one at a time.

I’ve been wanting to paint for a while and I have all the tools necessary. I might focus on getting a few paintings in, which also becomes a form of stress relief meditation!

YouTube has become such a great platform to find whatever we need! I love Sydney Cummings and Hasfit for killer at home workouts. For my dose of daily yoga, Yoga with Adriene always comes to my rescue. Who are your favourite youtubers?

Sending lots of positive vibes and energy to everyone out there. Please stay connected with your community, support local businesses, don’t forget to support each other and help those in need if you are able to. We’ll fight through this phase and good things will come to light soon. ❤️

A Month of Gratitude Journaling

While scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, I stumbled upon this ad about a gratitude journal. I went to their page and I really liked the quotes that they share everyday and I also liked the simplicity of their journal. So, I went ahead and ordered it! Everyday, I fill in a page with very specific prompts that help me focus on exactly where I need to put my energy in at the moment. It does not take a lot of time from my day, but the 10 minutes I dedicate to it in has been truly useful so far. Of course, there have been certain days where I missed an entry in the journal, but because the pages are not dated, I don’t waste any page and I can pick right back up on the day I write in it again.

What am I benefiting from this so far? Over the month, the journal has helped me start with feeling gratitude towards something/someone I choose to write about, set the intention and mindset for the day and it doesn’t just end there. At night, I fill in more prompts to close out the day which helps me recollect good memories and observe what I can do better the next day. Just a word, a phrase, a sentence or two is more than enough for every prompt and it totally depends on each day for me.

Do you journal? If so, what kind of journaling are you into? On certain days I just write what my heart tells me to in a notebook, certain days I pull out my planner and my to-do list becomes my journal and most days it’s this gratitude journal. I hope to continue this through the year to reap maximum benefits and I might revisit this topic to understand what changes journaling has brought in me.

Thank you for reading this post and I hope you have a great day, week, month, year ahead!

My Favorites of 2019

Here’s a log of all the things I loved this in the year of 2019

My favorite books of the year

I read fewer books that I intended to, however, I thoroughly enjoyed every book I read or listened to.

  • Neil Gaiman has become one of my favorite, if not my most favorite author in fantasy fiction. The two books I read this year were “Norse Mythology” and “Neverwhere”.
    He KNOWS how to create a world and all the characters in it that it’s impossible not to get lost in this world. It takes me a while to get out of the story once I complete the book which tells me how much I’ve enjoyed reading. It’s not just a read, but an experience.
    As Gaiman rightly says in the book I started 2020 with,
    “When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world, and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.”
     
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-  
    “There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

    That is how I felt about this book, there was something interesting and compelling about it. Montag’s character was excellent, the book explored how and why books are essential for us. I wasn’t very sure of the ending which seemed weak, but nonetheless I was glad to have given this book a chance finally and donot regret it one bit.
  • Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
    This is a YA (Young Adult) trilogy and I switched between reading the books and listening to the audio books and it was SO MUCH fun!  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The books were based on Egyptian mythology; they were surprisingly hilarious, great characters and had all the aspects that you need to have a fun reading experience.
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
    I started the year of 2019 with this book and it remained my most favorite read of 2019. This book instilled in me a great interest in Greek Mythology, in which I never put any effort to learn more about, I had always been a fan of Egyptian Mythology…until this gem! I even found a series on Amazon Prime, thanks to the interest I gained after reading this book and I got hooked to it. I discovered a great author with this book, and I think this was the best character development in a book I read this year, or maybe even in the past couple years. Everything about this book was brilliant and this will definitely be in my rereads for years to come!
  • ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama (Audiobook Version)
    I realized the only way I can ever get into a non-fictional book is by listening to it, especially if it’s the author narrating it. In this case, it was Michelle Obama narrating her own personal story and it truly was an extraordinary experience. Throughout the book, I felt like it was a friend talking to me about her life and I had to remind myself every now and then that it was Michelle Obama herself! It made me respect and admire her even more. Her story is inspiring and she shows there’s so much we can accomplish if we are confident, true to ourselves and grab the opportunities that take us in the path we desire.
  • ‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah (Audiobook Version)
    If you are a fan of the Daily Show, you know Trevor Noah and his comedy style. If you like his sense of humor, you would be intrigued to know more about him as well- which I was! I’ve been a fan of him and I had the opportunity to go for one of his episode recording in New York as well.  Once again, I opted for the audio book of course and I had Trevor Noah talking for 8 hours with me! This book had a lot of emotions. I learnt so much about him and additionally learnt a lot more about serious and important issues which still do persist in this day and age. I was rooting for Trevor so much through all his heartbreaks and emotions, he is a true hero and his mother is a true gangster and she became my idol through this book. I even had the greatest opportunity to see him perform his stand up in our town and it was a memorable experience indeed!
  • ‘Naturally Tan’ by Tan France
    Queer Eye on Netflix , I think, was the greatest thing that happened this year so far. I absolutely adore the Fab Five, and I watched every season, atleast 3 times. I made my friends and family watch it and I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching the episodes with them and see them falling in love with the five gentlemen just as I had. I was so thrilled to see Tan coming out with his memoir and as a fellow South Asian, I knew I would love this book and truly wanted to know more about his life. Ofcourse, the audiobook stole my heart and there were moments when Antoni surprised the audience with his visit to the studio and it was fun hearing the two of them talk about how they met and how their friendship grew.  

My favorite podcasts of the year

  • Star Talk Radio with the one and only Neil Degrasse Tyson for all my space nerds out there. This will forever be in my favorites list.
  • Getting Curious with JVN- for all my Queer Eye fans and for everyone who are just as curious as Jonathan on a variety of topics
  • A little about a lot- I’ve been watching The Sorry Girls on YouTube for a while and I was excited that they started a podcast. This is a lighthearted everyday kind of podcast that you can listen to while you are doing your chores 🙂
  • The Habit Coach by Ashdin Doc who’s an Indian with his bite sized podcast with healthy tips and focusing on creating habits that help us get better in our lives. You don’t need to invest a lot of your time in this but you’ll learn a lot.

My favorite series of the year

  • Chernobyl (OH.MY.GOSH)
  • One Strange Rock (Must watch!)
  • Crown Season 3
  • Stranger Things Season 3
  • Dark Season 2
  • Delhi Crimes (It was the most difficult series to watch)
  • Selection Day
  • Queer Eye (Duh!)
  • Game of Thrones finale season (of course it was disappointing at the way it ended but also disappointed that it’s all over 😦 )

That’s all folks!! If you reached the end, thank you for reading through this post. Do let me know what your favorites were for the year of 2019 and what do you have in your sleeve for 2020!

A Wrap on 2019 and Hopes for 2020

Looking back, I think of 2019 being uneventful yet pretty impactful for me. There have been a lot of joyful moments and some not very, yet moments to remember they surely were (I went a bit Yoda there).

I read a good number of books, but not as much as I was planning to. However, I thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them and I hope to share my quick thoughts on them.

I made new friends, got even more closer with some friends and family, said goodbye to friends who were shifting to a new place, laughed quite a bit and cried even more.

I worked hard on myself while my mind was trying to work against it. I questioned my belief while trying to hold on to it.

I took a lot of measures to have a sustainable lifestyle and I only hope to be more aggressive about it. Folks, we don’t have the luxury to make any more mistakes and I urge everyone to start making changes one step at a time.

I started discovering spirituality and I have just dipped my toes into it and there’s so much more I would like to understand in the near future.  

All in all, I stepped into 2020 with lots of hopes, dreams, faith and patience. Isn’t that all one needs to wake up every day with excitement? I surely hope so 🙂

My focus for 2020:

  1. Improving my physical health- This is always my number one priority for every year, and it will not change 🙂 I would like to share a little more on why it’s even more important this year for me, document my journey, to know and let others know that we are not alone in any aspects of our lives.
  2. Improving my mental health- This has taken the number one spot as well because, wholesome wellness is very much important and having gone through a lot of hurt and pain this year I know the only way now is to go up the ladder.
  3. Read more books- This is also a usual yearly goal for me and I hope to continue focusing on this beautiful hobby which has turned into a necessity! I am excited with the books I already have in my list and I cannot wait to read and share my thoughts on them.
  4. Create more art- I’ve always been interested in some form of art and I definitely want to pour my heart into it as it helps with my goal #2 🙂
  5. Spiritual journey- I am excited to continue on my spiritual journey because I know I will only benefit from it and there is absolutely nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.  

I know I will have a lot more to add every day goes by, but it will all revolve around these main aspects of 2020 and further years. While it’s cliché to set goals in the beginning of a year, it is also completely okay to go with this flow, because it’s not just you, but the whole world is in the same momentum as you and we will only benefit from this united positivity.  

Hope you are having a great start to 2020 and if you are reading this post, thank you very much for taking the time and please do share your thoughts and dreams for this new decade!

Grateful: Music For Every Mood

Today I want to share my love for music. My current favorite on repeat is ‘Memories’ by Maroon 5. It’s a sad yet sweet song and it tugged at my heart the first time I heard it. The more I listen to it (which is like a million times per day) the more memories it truly evokes in me. It makes me cry and smile at the time. I get reminded of the times when things weren’t great but how it was always followed by something memorable and unforgettable.

“… Everything gon’ be alright…

Music has so much power and magic to transport you to a place that you can visualize so clearly! You want to be motivated to work out, there’s a song for you. You want to feel positive in a difficult situation, there’s one for you. You are in love, well, of course, there’s always that one song you listen to. You want some music to relax, meditate or concentrate at work? You know my answer. You feel all the emotions you truly want to and there’s no escaping it.

Before social media and smart phones took over this world, I would take time out to lie down to listen to my favorite music and do nothing else. I would just get immersed into the songs and let it take over my mind. I would take the effort of downloading them in my music player(remember those devices?) and it would never leave my side. Wherever I would go, it went along with me.

I still remember so many song lyrics from early 2000s’ and even from the 90s’. Ask me now how many current songs I remember in entirety, there would be very few. There are so many distractions these days, that, I would feel restless to just sit and listen to music. My brain is wired to immediately check my phone and multi task mindlessly. I would rather be watching some YouTube video or scrolling through Instagram while waiting in a clinic. Isn’t it sad how distracted and less focused we are these days? (I know I am)

I just want to thank all artists over the centuries who have dedicated their heart and soul in this magical talent and we get to experience their artwork whenever we want to at the tip of our fingers. I am going to take every effort to mindfully listen to the songs that I love and truly appreciate being in the moment.

What is your current ‘On Repeat’ song? Do you know the complete lyrics? What emotions does it evoke in you? I would love to hear from anyone who has read this post! (And I thank you for taking the time to do so!)

Grateful: A Daily Post Thanking Little Things In Life

We are in mid-November which means the year is going to end in the blink of an eye! Am I sad? Am I looking forward to it? Am I excited? I don’t know, but does it really matter? No matter how I feel, the year is going to end. Period. So, I would like to take this time to slow down, just breath and focus on one thing every day that I am truly grateful for until Thanksgiving (Until Thanksgiving, because I will be heading to India to visit my family! More to come on that soon 🙂 )

Hope everyone’s having a lovely November and getting ready for the festivities and holidays. Please do take some time for yourself in the midst of all this and just pause and smile 🙂

In today’s post, I want to talk about the Indian festival of Diwali, which can be considered as an Indian Thanksgiving because the entire year builds upto this festival, we gather around with friends and family, wishing everyone prosperity and just being grateful to be together. I remember, as a kid, all the excitement I felt right from buying new clothes, the delicious sweets and savory that mom would make and hanging out with friends in anticipation for the day of Diwali. We would start bursting crackers a couple of days ahead and the sound would fill the air with more excitement. Everyone would deep clean their house to welcome the warmth and light that Diwali represents. We would visit friends and family and exchange goodies , buy diyas (lamps) to fill up the entire house inside and out, put up string lights on windows and doors. What a sight to see! You could see every single house and building and even some of the roads decked up in pretty lights. The atmosphere sucks you in and you have absolutely no room for anything else other than happiness! There would be street vendors everywhere selling locally made lanterns, lamps and various home decor items.

On the day of Diwali, we would wake up before dawn, the cool November breeze would freshen us up and we would have no difficulty waking up so early that day. Mom would give us a hair oil massage first thing in the morning until we were soaked in it. There would be Diwali special TV shows and movies that air from early in the morning up to night. We would all just enjoy a cup of coffee together, watching TV and then we would take bath, pray to God and put on the new clothes that we purchased. We would then go down the apartment building to catch up with other families who have completed their rituals at home and we would all just burst a few crackers welcoming the morning as sun begins to rise. We would have a heavy home cooked meal, thanks to all the hard work that mom would go through, sleep in the afternoon (i.e food coma) and get back up again to have another round of snacks and change into another set of new clothes, go down and burst some more crackers, hang out with friends and families through the night.

As we grew older, we started realizing the impact of firecrackers and we stopped purchasing them and instead focused on the other aspects of Diwali – quality time with everyone we love and enjoying lighting lamps and gorge on sweets as if we would not be getting any later. Which is almost true, Diwali is one such event during which it was OK to have sweets as your breakfast.

I am truly grateful for every single festival that we celebrate because it brings people together, forgetting each one’s differences and focusing on one common event that we all love and enjoy. I’m thankful for all the memories that I have had the opportunity to cherish through the years with friends and family, there have been times where I did not feel the best even in the midst of all festivities, but I know that I have many shoulders to rest my head upon, that I am not alone, that everything will be alright and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, because Diwali is all about lighting every corner of your life.

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I would like to say, take a moment today, to recognize and cherish such bright moments in life and thank the folks who have been with you through such memories!

Stay warm, cozy and most importantly stay positive y’all!

A Fall Sunday Morning!

My alarm went off and I hit the snooze button to get those ‘five more minutes’ of sleep. The room was cold but my comforter kept me, well, comforted and warm. I did not like the thought of getting out of the coziness on a Sunday morning but I reminded myself of the fun plan we made for ourselves ahead.

I turned on the coffee machine and waited for the aroma to fill up the kitchen and truly wake me up. Mr.P and I got ready with a light jacket which was all that we needed on this perfect day. We drove on empty roads which was covered in a thin layer of fog and we could already see some trees changed to flaming red color. Let’s talk about Fall/Autumn shall we? This is my favorite time of the year, as I’m sure is for many! The cool weather, crispness in the air, colors changing, walking over fallen crunchy leaves and of course sweaters, scarves, warm scented candles and books! There’s also the warm toasty drinks, holidays right around the corner and some cozy TV shows to catch up or re-watch (hint: Gilmore Girls)

We drove through Hobbs State Park and reached War Eagle Mill only to see that there were a lot more folks who came in way early than we did. It was the fall crafts fair weekend which made this visit even better. There were a large number of vendors showing their creativity ranging from vintage finds to self made products-decor, food items, candles, soaps etc. We spent a good amount of time strolling through each stall and finally headed into the mill to see it’s ‘belly’ in the working and to grab a quick bite to eat , not to forget, purchase their flour (We purchased their corn bread flour, I’ve tried their all all-purpose flour too in the past which is pretty good). We got out of the mill and walked over the historic bridge enjoying the serene Beaver lake beneath us and just breathing in fresh air that we all fail to get daily. We walked over to the other side only to find a hundred more crafts and food stalls!! I think this was the biggest craft fair I’ve been to in Northwest Arkansas. We were truly tempted and purchased a jar of Dead Sea scrub that smells oh-so-heavenly! The family selling this scrub make it in their own garage with so many scent options and it’s not just scrub, they make bath bombs too (I might be forgetting a few other products) I also purchased two vintage pendants -one for me(duh…) and my dear friend who will be visiting us very soon. Walking back, we had a fantastic view of the bridge, the mill and their water turbine that powered the mill along the lake, It felt so perfectly rustic and screamed fall 🙂

To think that we used the most natural renewable resources back in the day and how we’ve moved backwards by over-consuming and misusing what nature provides us is beyond my understanding. I only wish our next generations get to experience what we did and it can only happen if we protect this planet with all our force.

All in all, it was a perfect fall outing and we returned home with a fresh mind, ready to tackle the next week!

P.S As I sit in my backyard writing this blog post I see my plants and vegetable patch wilting and in their last days, but I can only think ‘This too shall pass’ because I remember how spring arrives with full gust and all plants and trees get ready to show their beauty once again.

Happy Fall Y’all!!