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    Woman – Bold & Beautiful!
    by Anupama Iyer

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    “I am woman, hear me roar; in numbers too big to ignore…
    …If I have to, I can do anything,
    I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman”!!!
    This beautiful and inspiring song by Helen Reddy defines a woman of substance; a living embodiment of vitality and grace.

    But, in this chaotic world, we often feel overwhelmed and disarranged, thus leading us to the juncture of being confronted by identity-crisis. In the wise words of Melinda Gates, “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”

    Women feel bogged down with family, work and responsibilities. Additionally, we also experience significant health-related transitions like puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, etc. Yes, they are all a part of our life, but is it necessary that they should become our definition for life??? Should these encompass our life completely and leave little, and more often than not, no space for our interests and passions?

    Recently, there was an article in one of the leading newspapers about a group of cycling enthusiasts pedalling their way through the majestic Himalayan country, Bhutan. Among the riders was a social worker from Mumbai. Being a mother of two and a working woman, she must have been in a real quandary over joining the cycling expedition in Bhutan. Yet, of course with the overwhelming support from her family, she went on to be a part of the adventure that she longed for - she took charge of her life and dreams and strived to make them true!

    How many of us really have the courage to chase our dreams or indulge in our passions? Let me put it this way, let nothing stop us from taking control of our lives and living it to the fullest and limitless. We alone are the pilot of this remarkable flight called life. So let us steer this incredible flight to those destinations that give us purpose, bliss and contentment.

    The following line from Jane Eyre summarises the underlying thought perfectly: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

    I am bold, beautiful and live limitless! I am a woman!!!


    Lessons from an octogenarian!
    by Anupama Iyer

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    My maternal grandmother lived in a small town in Kerala. And I was a part of the concrete jungle of Mumbai with my family and the millions who have the made the city that never sleeps their dream destination. Though visits to my grandmother were restricted (unfortunately) to once a year because of education and so on, the innumerable and worthy discussions on the dinner table, on the wicker chairs on the portico of their modest home or during walks through the by-lanes of the rustic town, have remained with me, forever etched in memory.

    A lady of a small frame, beautiful silver grey hair tied up tightly in a bun at the back of her head and dressed in crisp cotton sarees, my grandmother would always be seated on the portico facing the main road and her angelic, wrinkled face would be the home of a benevolent and welcoming smile. Many of the townspeople who crossed the house during the course of the day, would stop by and engage in pleasant conversation with her. I would watch her fascinated and marvel at the never-ending polite mannerisms of my grandmother. I would think, how can she be happy always? Never a rude word, never a frown on that cherubic face. I would bombard her with all the questions that would course through my mind. She had been through many hardships in her life. From losing her husband, son and daughter at a young age to being robbed, she had seen everything. And yet there was never any despair in her tired eyes.

    She would tell me that everything and everyone in this world has a purpose. If the Lord took something away from us, he would give something back. Hopelessness and unhappiness were not going to help us in any way, so why even bother having them around us? I had often seen her note down things in her little back book; they were all positive and encouraging quotes from the Bible or the newspaper or an article. She inspired me to make a black book for myself. She would tell me, if you are feeling down, read that book of positive quotes, think of the good things that have happened to you in your life, think how you have helped someone in need, how you are a blessing to your near and dear ones. No one wants a grumpy, miserable human for company. So, why be one? Her mantra was a very simple one; life goes on no matter what, so enjoy it. And as though seconding this sentiment, this simple yet powerful sentence appeared in one of the articles I read, “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given life. And it’s up to you to make it good or bad.”

    Today, sometimes when I feel blue or sombre, I think of her and all that she asked me to do. Though I cannot jump from grief to glee like a switch being turned on, I at least feel less burdened and look forward with renewed determination.

    And yes, I still have my little black book of positive thoughts! I suggest you make one too!


    Vacation? I need a solo-cation!
    by Anupama Iyer

    female reproductive system

    Like everyone else, I too have a list of cherished movies and among them is “Last Holiday”. The movie’s lady protagonist, on being diagnosed with a terminal illness, decides to give up her over-cautious lifestyle and indulges in fulfilling her dreams by taking a vacation to her prized location in Europe. While the movie leaves you feeling lively and gratified, it also awakens the need to ask oneself: do you need a life-threatening disease or an unpleasant chapter to prompt yourself into tak-ing a personal vacation? Holidays with family and friends happen anyway, but with growing ne-cessity of personal space and freedom, the idea of taking off on a solo vacation seems like the need of the hour.

    Family vacations can be fun, but it takes a lot of patience to you make sure your companions are comfortable, grin and bear in case things don't go your way. More often than not, you are left ex-hausted and with a nagging thought in your mind; had I gone alone on this trip, I could have seen and done so much more. I read somewhere that a solo journey is a balm for the soul. You search for your innermost need, passion and emerge at the destination. From backpacking across mountains or lying on a lounge chair on a beach to going on a photography expedition, there are many options to explore. Moreover, travelling solo gives you the benefit that your mistakes are your own and your accomplishments are more exciting. It helps build self-confidence and pushes you out of your cozy comfort zones.

    But, though the idea of travelling alone and spending quality time with oneself is so inviting, it can be received with shock, panic and criticism. And mainly, safety concerns, thanks to the rising as-saults by creeps. Yet, it should not act as a deterrent. In this ever-emerging travel industry, there are many websites and travel companies who offer variety of opportunities and comforts for solo jour-neys. Through these channels, you can be better prepared for the vacation; not missing out on the important aspects, yet enjoying them in one’s own company.

    Before commencing on the journey, create a checklist of all that you need to carry and need to do. Keeping your family updated with places of stay and contact information will help them breathe easy. At the same time, being armed with a list of emergency contacts and identification will aid you in case of any unfortunate incident. Not all places that you visit will be equipped with easily accessible medical store; hence carry first aid supplies along with hygiene-related items like sanitary napkins, etc.

    And last but not the least, don't be afraid of doing things alone. Going solo gives you the advantage of being overwhelmed with freedom, being open to change, no guilt-ridden feeling of not being able to fit into a group, giving explanations or handling other’s disappointments. It caters to your feelings and gives a chance to recreate yourself! So, happy solo-journey ladies!

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    July 2015