A year in Review – Reflections on 2018

b0d2c169-fc61-4173-975a-7ade59e06ea0A year in Review – a memorable year in my life – so many wonderful memories and experiences, traveled to places which I never thought I would go – not even existent in my non-existent list … experienced the transformation of my life in an amazing way – the essence of the year is the profoundness of Sadhguru’s grace upon me. The amount of travel I have done this year and the places I have been to have never happened to me in my entire life. This year had another significance in my life – my 60th birth year.

The year started with my usual India trip in Feb, immediately few days after I landed in Hyd – we had a mini family vacation with 12 adults and 3 kids to Goa to celebrate Unnu’s and Prati’s birthdays. We have stayed at Taj Exotic Resort & Spa at Benaulim – staying next to the beach, chasing the Sun from Sunrise to Sunset, walk as much as I would love to, walking in the sand near the beach and going into waves as much as I can and bumping into one of the family members all the time, roaming in and around the area are some of the amazing moments I could keep it in my heart so fondly. I always always love to watch Sunrises, Sunsets especially when I am around beaches, and oceans. I make a point to wake up early just to watch Sunrises.

96C71EA9-E061-4812-BC7A-5E1B79782408Then I went to Anakapalle and Vizag for few days after almost close to 40 years. Anakapalle – the place where I  was born and brought up – the place where I spent most of my life in India – 18 years of my 22 years in India – so many childhood and adulthood memories, the places I visited there were the College where My father worked as Principal for 18 years and the college quarters where we lived. To my disbelief, I could not even spot the place where our houses were – all 6 houses were demolished, I could not even recognize the place except for few places. In my memory that place was very huge but somehow I felt it very small especially from my dad’s office to our house. I wish I could have stayed there for considerable time to visit and feel every little spot I have memories with, but I could not as it was very hot and the place is wide open. Thanks to Chanti (Yashodhara) who made it possible. And we visited Nookalamma temple at Kasimkota and returned back to Vizag. I met few of my cousins, had lunch with them all. As Chanti lives close to Rama Krishna Beach, we both went for a walk along beach side before sunrise to get a glimpse of Sunrise over the Bay of Bengal – moments to live for and moments to die for …

And a week after my return from India, Sekhar and I instantaneously decided over a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts to attend Inner Engineering (IE) with Sadhguru at Philadelphia in the first week of May. That is the best decision I ever made and wonderful things in my life have been happening since I attended IE.

Read this – The Profound Effect of Sadhguru upon me – how he came into my life years ago before IE Happened to me

That was a huge milestone in my life. When we were at IE program, we were shown a video of Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru and it touched me very deeply. Through out the IE program, a desire born like a seed and has grown into humongous tree – Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru – it was a burning desire – never in my life I had given any thought of being at Kailash not in my dreams.
So the Monday after inner Engineering, I have opened my FB, and it asked me what is on your mind Sarada – I immediately posted the following
kailash“What’s on your mind, Sarada” FB is asking.
I would say #KailashYatra with Sadhguru; Inner Engineering course has a profound affect on me, every atom and molecule in me is longing for #KailashYatra; feeling highly emotional; whether I can do it with my knee issues🤔 ; but then remembering Sadhguru’s sayings – do not think of what is possible and what is not possible 🙏

And how my Kailash yatra happened – Shi-va alone knows – My inward journey to Kailash

This is what I would have said if I had to at Sathsang with Sadhguru in Kathmandu on our return trip from Kailash – SHI-VA that which is not

Everything happened in a matter of 3 months – IE, the desire to be at Kailash and finishing Kailash Manasasarovar Yatra. Truly blessed.

dhyanalingaIn between these two major events, I had another desire to visit Dhyanalinga at ISHA Center Coimbattore, India, that too on Guru pournami day. and I was reading at ISha website that only two days in a month – Amavasya and Pournami days all the devotees are allowed to do water and milk abishekam to Dhyana Linga and the desire becoming intense day after day. When I went to India before I started Kailash yatra, I had to stay at Hyderabad for 5 days awaiting for my group visa to Tibet. I planned a day trip to Isha Ashram at Coimbattore on Gurupournami day.e8c5aef2-82ef-41ac-a1a4-94164ba2437b

Visiting Isha Ashramam at Coimbattore India – July 2018 on Guru Pournami Day

Kailash and ManasaSarovar yAtra in detail in another article

I wanted to attend Bava Spandana (BSP) with Sadhguru – an intense desire aroused- when I heard that Sadhguru would be conducting this program at Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences (III) at McMinnville, Tennessee in October. I was just praying it should not be the same weekend as Ram Sai’s wedding (my very close family friend’s son), he is like my child, he and his sister are literally like my own kids, I have seen them from their birth, celebrating Christmas times with them at their place and at my place year after year, a very strong bonding with those kids to me and to my husband. To test my intense desire, BSP happened the same weekend as his wedding weekend. So initially I dropped the idea of BSP and did not want to apply as I would not go anyways. I was in Hyderabad before my Kailash yatra started when the registration for BSP opened up and I have received an email with the registration form. I did not take any action and my cousin’s wife from Buffalo called me and my cousin mentioned about the BSP and he told me that he has applied and asked me to apply and I told him the same as I would not be able to attend BSP; nevertheless after the phone conversation, I have applied for it and knew that there were remote chances only of getting into it. Throughout my Kailash trip, I was trying to check my mail where ever I got internet and I was not sure with which email I have registered – personal or office. I was not able to open my personal gmail through out almost my trip and I was sort of concerned what if I miss the confirmation email. People I met during Kailash trip told me how amazing BSP was and it should be taken by Sadhguru only and was also told it would be very difficult to get a slot when Sadhguru is conducting the program and there was a rumor going around that he would stop conducting this program soon and hand it over to trained teachers. I was back to New York from kailash trip on 16 August and went to Boston with unnu on 18th August and returned to New York on 21 August. That night I was talking to Lakshmi and I asked her whether Sridhar had gotten any message from ISHA regarding BSP and she said they haven’t received any. After I finished conversing with her, I have opened my office email and to my astonishment, I have received an email from ISHA around 7 pm confirming my slot for BSP (19 October to 22 October). I was on cloud 9 or whatever high I could be at that moment. I had to respond to them in 4 days otherwise I would loose my spot. Then the real struggle started – how to convey this to my friend – I have applied with the real intention of attending BSP and I knew my chances were very feeble. I applied (even though back in the mind there was a strong desire to attend) not to regret later that i did not even make an attempt. the next day I called my friend and broke the news to her and she was not very happy. But luckily they were performing pellikoduku (making the bridegroom) function on Raleigh, North Carolina on 18th October and I told her that I would attend that event and go to McMinnville, Tennessee from there on 19th morning. She was not very happy for that. But for some reason I did not want to miss attending BSP as there was no guarantee that Sadhguru would conduct this program again and even if he did that I would get a slot. Then I started listening all stories from my ISHA Kailash yatra whatsapp group that they did not get their slot and have been on waitlist even last year also. So BSP happened to me in a very euphoric way. another article on BSP (not in detail but just to touch it peripherally) would follow soon. I really felt everyone I know or unknown without any exceptions should experience BSP. Looking forward to volunteer for BSP to relive those moments again.

Then with in 2 weeks after I finished my BSP, I had an opportunity to volunteer at Inner Engineering with Sadhguru at San Mateo, San Francisco on 3-4 November. So much blessed to be in Sadhguru’s presence for so many times in a matter of 7 months. Initially Inner engineering with Sadhguru at Phily in May, about 30 minutes in his sathsang at Isha Center Coimbattore end of July, almost 3 hours of Sathsang with Sadhguru at Kathmandu on my way back from Kailash yatra, 3 and half intense days with Sadhguru as BSP at Tennessee, IE at San Francisco – blessings to be grateful for.

I have volunteered 4 days at a teacher led IE program in New York on my 60th birthday – how blessed I was to spend at IE on my milestone birthday.

I had a nice birthday party with family at prashanthi’s place and she has made a cake for me with all the things and people I am so passionate about.

Of course I had a real surprise birthday party from all the people whom I would proudly, lovingly, and dearly called my second family Surprise birth

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day party – 60 is just a number

Thankful and grateful for all these loving people in my life …

Then came Christmas – wondering what should I do with ornaments as handmade and handcrafted have become my signature these days – then Unnu came up with the idea of family photos ornaments – actually she said I should make photo ornaments – 60 things I am very passionate about (to commemorate my 60th birthday) – here is the Christmas tree – No No family Christmas tree – have a glimpse – I was able to bring my maternal grand father, my mom with her sisters, my parents, my siblings, people very close to my heart  – the big challenge is to select the pics and reprint them – I missed making ornaments of many other people those are close to my heart and take some space in my life, not overlooking them, but in the limited time and resources I had (time to go through my albums to pick their pictures, get them printed and also the availability of CD shaped clear ornaments).

and I tried to push my boundaries – baking cakes/cup cakes.

PR cakemade#DoubleLayeredVanillaCoconutCake with lemon curd in between the layers and topped with blueberries and raspberries and dark chocolate covered Almonds;

Few of our office staff had planned a baby shower to our colleague Monica and there were not sufficient funds, so I have decided to bake a small cake for the party – Coconut lemon curd cake (which I have tried once for Prashanthi’s birthday). monica baby showerI wanted to make double layer but I could not handle it. So a single layered cake which received nice appreciative comments from my colleagues. For Thanksgiving get together at my sister’s place, I have made chocolate cup cakes and with all the appreciation I received, I made Sparkling Cranberry Vanilla cup cakes and Chocolate cup cakes for my office Christmas party. Actually 2 days before the party, I was talking to Unnu and checking something on the phone and suddenly these Sparkling Cranberry vanilla cup cakes showed up with the recipe. The pics were so attractive and I thought I should try it and they are instantaneous hit. Again I baked the same combination for the Christmas get-together at Prashanthi’s place.

And I tried my hands on some healthy salads – my very own recipes

Of course I laid my hands on Photography classes another passion I would want to be proficient in – Prashanthi gave me beginner’s photography class (JP Teaches Photo) at Manhattan as a gift for 2017 Christmas and I have used it in March and then I got so excited and registered with them for 3 more classes. So much fun but I have to learn a lot. Mastering the art of photography is one of my ever lasting passions. and it has become a burning desire when volunteers at Isha going around with the state of the art cameras at Isha events especially when the events are led by Sadhguru.

And 35 years at the UN –

I have traveled a lot this year than in any other year of my life since I was born. Year started with my India trip in Feb – where I traveled to Goa and Vizag), then to Philadelphia to attend IE in May, then to Buffalo in May for few days, then again to India in July – visited Isha Ashramam in Coimbattore, kathmandu, Tibet, ManasaSarovar, Kailash, after my return, few days to Boston, and to Raleigh in October to attend Ram Sai’s pellikoduku function, then to Isha Institute at Tennessee to participate in BSP, then to San Francisco to volunteer at IE. I missed the last trip of the year to Van Cover with my vadina which was cancelled at the last minute.

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sadhguru

So many accomplishments, so much to thankful for, so much to looking forward to – the profound effect of Sadhguru on my life changes the way I think, I act and I react and I move on with life as it happens – In is the only way out

I do not know how it unfolds 2019 for me but as an Ishaan, I am ready for life as it is happening and explore every possible dimension of life. My only prayer and wish is let Sadhguru happen to every creature on this universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blend of Traditions

IMG_8581#Christmas2017 #BlendOfTraditions last year was my first Christmas tree  at home and of course I wanted to do it differently and used fresh flowers theme and it was a smashing hit. This year I have been looking into some novel ideas; since I have done hand made diyas on a large scale for Diwali with air Dry clay and painted them with colors and decorated them with small muggulu and jewelry, I wanted to make some diyas and small mason jar decorations for the tree.

I have started looking for small mason jars to put some tea candles and hang them to the tree and also diyas with small tea candles, that is where my amazing journey to the #BlendOfTraditions #ChristmasTree2017 decorations started – #discoveringInnerStrengths; #becomingStrong day after day, #ArtsAndCrafts 

Then started looking into Pinterest for more ideas besides having diyas and mason jars – and decided to buy plain glass ornaments, paint those and draw muggulu (rangolis) on those and then I have entered int a domain that I am not familiar with  – I used to put muggulu and gobbaemmalu from my childhood until I finished my undergrad. but never in my life I was into arts and crafts this way as I am for the past one and half years. I never knew I could be creative with my hands (I thought I was good only at programming).

 

Then my amazing journey started. I enjoyed every minute of this 3 weeks project – running back and forth to Michaels store – could be for paints, or for the plain glass balls or anything in between. It was like a retreat to me, more like meditation, just focusing on the work no thoughts of any sort. #immensepeace #completebliss

I kept my tree at my sister’s place as I do not have space at my apartment and brought it back when I went to her place for Thanksgiving weekend. then I put up the tree after a few days and kept it like that for more than a week. last year we have used 300 lights and Karthi has fixed those as he does it in a typical way and then I decorated with flowers changing them over for 3 times. This year also he has offered his help, but I wanted to do it myself as I want to learn things on my own. he even wanted to facetime.

So ‘decoration of tree lights’ has become a nightmare and every time when I looked at the tree, I felt like it was asking when I would adorn her with lights and decorations and I was feeling miserable. Prithi was coming to New York for a day and I wanted to call her and ask her help, but I held myself from doing that. Christmas Tree without lights looks like Times Square during daytime, no kidding I swear.

I did not want to wrap the light strings around the tree, may be that is how many trees are being adorned. So I started checking for youtube videos on decorating the lights on the tree, the first one or two were not very helpful but then I found the perfect one and I just followed what I understood and it came out very beautiful. I had

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tree with 500 lights

another 200 lights which I bought for Diwali, so I had 500 lights and I thought I was in a good shape. But with those I could come only half way through the tree but I really loved the way it was coming up.

 

of course I had to buy more lights, I have decided to buy 300 more and may be an extra 100 in case. But finally ended up having 500 when I was at the counter to pay. I have used 400 of those.

 

 

9DE68C4D-E4E3-41C0-AADA-63086EE7A09DMy beautiful tree with 900 lights.

I feel so proud as it got its professional look and I also got the compliments for that look

 

 

Then came the ornaments – I have decided to have simple muggulu and some Christmas spirted designs – I am taking pics of every piece of decoration which caught my eyes’ attention and tugs at my heartstrings – let those be on the windows of any place, or Pinterest or even from the cardboard box from Michaels stores, every frame is locked in my iPhone.

I checked for small muggulu on google, I practiced the ones I like few times before I laid my hands on the ornaments. So I used some foam balls too besides glass ornaments.

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IMG_8668 Then came the idea of making snowmen and took some suggestions from Prashanthi and opened the doors for another domain, I bought some felt to make the caps for snowmen and used wool yarn to make the scarfs. Just in time for our first Snow storm.

 

I used foam balls to make cup cake decorations and some with small designs with ‘Sree’.

I did not buy a star but I used last year one not anything specific but I wanted to add pine cones to it and used 25 lights to it.

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I wanted to make a candy cane wreath to hang on the front door, I made it but I do not think it is strong enough to be put on the door so I used it as a decorative piece.

 

 

 

I used 6 small mason jars – painted them inside and filled them up with Epsom salt with eucalyptus fragrance and placed remote controlled LED Tea Candles and used them as decorative pieces rather than adorning the tree with them.

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I wanted to make a wreath with all the different ornaments I made for my tree – a cup cake, a diya, glass ornaments painted and designed with muggulu on them, and a mini snowman.

 

I have made snow flakes with coffee filters and hang them from the ceiling9BCA4E97-8A6B-4F41-B950-8EEB7619E68A

CCBE68AB-A7B1-4309-9E4D-27F0DA880786I bought Christmas train last year. my beloved husband and I had a special fascination for trains and we would love to watch these trains going around the tree around this time of the year and we used to buy these for our dear friends’ kids for Christmas. There is a toy trains shop on 45th street between 5th and 6th Aves into which I never entered into, which is 15 min walk from my place and every time I pass by this store, I stop for a moment listening to the train sounds reminiscing the beautiful memories I had with my beloved husband; and I miss him very dearly especially more during this time of the year. I am sure that he would be so proud to watch all my achievements and I am longing to see the sparkle in his eyes. He was and he is the biggest strength I have on any day.

I have made about 121 ornaments out of which I gifted 17 ornaments and used 4 for my wreath (the diya on the wreath is the one I made for my Oktofest),

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gift hamper for karthi

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gift hamper for prashanthi as her theme is Santa Clause – so everything is in red and white

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Lakshmi has gifted me this beautiful piece which has live action with Christmas Carols playing

 

 

So finally my gorgeous tree with 100 ornaments with 900 lights and the star with 25 lights stood as a testimony of my passion, hard work, determination and novel approach.

Some of my beautiful pieces

Watch here glimpse of my tree showing every ornament

Check here for my complete christmas tree 2017 picture album

Handcrafted/Handmade has become my signature lately. Thanks to Baba for making me a better person day after day and His immense support and guidance in everything I do. He is the Kartha, Karma, and Kriya