A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

Month: February, 2016

Trail of a snail

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Trail of a snail
A morning stroll in the vivid and lush park
On the glittering grass, my footsteps leaving an elusive mark
I longed to partake in nature’s creative spark
After a refreshing summer drizzle
The crisp air crackling with a mild sizzle
Under a sky undecided between clouds and sunshine
A band of colors lending it a mystic charm so very fine
I ambled along the old path, my thoughts candidly flowing
The ground below bright and glowing
A stone of beige lay partly concealed
A casual glance…a movement revealed
Just in time, I skidded to a slippery stop
A snail with a fancy shell balanced on top
It surely could carry itself in style
As it navigated its way over a leafy pile
Its spiral house its only accessory
The destination it seeks still a mystery
It made its way across the uneven terrain
Discouraged not by sunshine or rain
I followed, enchanted by this quaint sight
A creature moving at ease…at a pace just right
Progressing faster than I believed it could
As it closed in on a flower, I guessed for food
Its complexion so strikingly pale
Its antennae quivering as it probed
Probably for nectar it thoroughly combed
Firm little footsteps draw closer
A shout of delight and a clap of hands
With a twirl and a spin, on her feet the child lands
“Oh! A precious and tiny snail for a pet”
“Let me grab it with a butterfly net”
“Then carry it in a bottle with a lid having a tiny hole”
“I can then play or watch it crawl or roll”
The snail goes still then stretches lean
Off it leaps into a bush not to be seen
“A leaping snail! what a grand surprise!”
“Hm…but now catching it does not feel so nice”
“Maybe I’ll let it go free after all!”
She sprints away holding her ragged doll
As the light sprinkle gives way to a steady rainfall

©2015 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Butterfly_share

An ant in my view

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An ant in my view

Sun Bird

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How to get your child to read?

Is reading at the top of the list of habits you would like to cultivate in your child?
If yes, then you are probably also aware that as a parent you have the power to empower your child to unlock his or her full potential and reading plays a significant part in this. Yet reading is not a skill all kids just pick up naturally.
Knowing this, can be daunting to a lot of parents. I know it was for me, till I realized early on, love for reading can be slowly but surely nurtured. A realization that turned into a joyful learning experience for me…a return to childhood with my kids as we embarked on a reading journey.
From an initial haphazard start of cajoling, convincing, bargaining with them to get them to read, to now keeping track of the kinds of books and content for age appropriate reading, it has been an interesting and exciting ride.

So how to get your child not just keenly interested in reading but sustain and grow that interest? So much so, that their actions follow their interest and they look forward to reading with growing eagerness.

Thought I would share some of the tips or rather activities that have been working well for me.

  • Read aloud to your kids

You have probably heard this before, several times over.
But I found this does help immensely. In fact reading aloud to my kids I feel has worked wonders. It would be great to start this right from when they are toddlers or even earlier. But it is never too late to begin.
This is a great way of introducing them to the world and joy of books, apart from helping you bond. You may very well find this to be a much anticipated activity, that continues even after your children have turned into proficient readers.
Children can be great listeners and observers once you capture their attention.
Well, I am yet come across a child who I found is not absorbing all the audio visual information around him or her, in spite of sporting an indifferent look.

Now coming to the catch…ie., sparking their interest and gaining their attention. Lead by example and show your enthusiasm as you read and soon…their curiosity will be stoked and mimic you they will.

Read out loud and don’t hold back, infuse your words with feeling and yes….dramatization helps. Using puppets or props to dramatize, if you feel up to it, can intensify the read aloud experience for both you and your children.

Of course, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy yourself, as you pick up a book to read aloud to them!

 

  • Discuss about books already read

It really helps to talk about the books, that you have already read out to them or the ones they have read.
Ask them about their favorite characters, what they liked and did not like about the book and let them ask you as well. Talk about alternate endings or beginnings to the stories. If the book has been made into a movie, schedule sometime to watch it together. Nothing can trigger off a lively and sparkling conversation, like a comparison between the book and the movie made based on the book.

 

  • Repetition

Reading the same story that the children really enjoy, every day or on alternate days can yield benefits. This will help inspire them to try reading the same story by themselves. Listening to the same story can encourage them to finish some of the lines in the story from memory and also mimic you by trying to read. This will go a long way in building self confidence in their reading capability, motivating them further. Repetitive listening of the same story is known to have other advantages associated with memory enhancement as well.

 

  • Establish a reading rhythm

Set up a not-too-rigid reading schedule where you set apart some time every day towards activities to encourage reading. The aim here is to start and sustain the reading activities and have fun along the way!

You will observe that initially from a conscious daily effort, reading will gradually and eventually be inculcated as a habit.

 

  • Encourage them to pick a book

Show them a set of age appropriate books. Let them choose a book that they would like to read or be read out to them. This engages them in the process and also helps you identify the kind of books they are leaning towards. Ensure that you let each of your children take turns in picking a book and don’t forget your turn as well.

 

  • Picture books

Start with picture books that contain short and simple sentences in large and easy-to-read font.
Play show and tell with the pictures before you even start reading. Then compare that with what you read.
Point to each word as you read. Then point at the picture once you complete reading the sentences on that page. This will allow them to familiarize themselves with the words that form the sentences and how it associates with the picture.

 

  • Show tons of appreciation

For a beginner trying to read, every single word counts. Every word for which they take the initiative and are able to independently read, ensure you praise them and openly show your appreciation in words and with expression.
When they see that you are enjoying listening to them, they will naturally feel encouraged to go further as they read aloud to you. Continue to show your appreciation as they progress from words to sentences to paragraphs. Soon you will find it is time to introduce chapter books.

 

  • Read together taking turns

Slowly begin taking turns along with them to read aloud a few lines from the book. Gradually let them read more lines than you do in your turn. Might seem like a simple enough tip, but will go a long way in building their proficiency in reading.

 

  • Interactive Quiz time

Pick a book on General Knowledge and engage them in a game of quiz.
You can take turns to pick the topic and to be the quiz master. The quiz master can silently read facts from the book to herself/himself and then frame a question based on what was read. Keep it simple. It is a game I found children enjoy and and it is a fun way to encourage them to explore and read non-fiction books and expand their knowledge as well.

 

  • Send them on a word, scene or character quest

As you progress with the reading activities, this is something that helps sustain the interest in reading and introduces the concept of reviewing and appreciating the book.
Ask the child to find the most interesting, or funniest or silliest (you get the idea) lines, word or characters from the book and share it with you.

 

  • Role playing

Pick a story or a short play that has already been read and have them enact it out. Also try it with different sets of play acting rules, where you don’t have to stay true to the plot of the story and allow for variations. This will help fire up their interest and imagination as well.
Don’t forget to join in on the fun and play a character from the story as well.

 

  • Take them along to the local library or book store

Introduce weekend outings to libraries and book stores. Expose them to different types of children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction and give them access to a variety of age appropriate books. This will also help build their awareness to a wide range of book genres out there for them to choose from. Let them feel free to pick and choose a book of their liking during every visit.

 

  • Create pleasant memories of reading

Make reading a delightful experience that engages multiple senses. Multiple stimulation is known to lead to enhanced memory. Few things can beat the pleasure of that first look, feel, touch and smell of a book. These get registered in their minds even before they hear the words being read out aloud, or begin reading the book themselves. Serve some delicious cookies, savories and beverages like hot chocolate or cold lemonade for instance, to go with the reading to enhance the experience. Also ensure your spirits are up and buoyant during the reading session to create joyful memories. Memories that are associated with reading.

This will enable the kids to strongly perceive reading as an enjoyable and cheerful activity that they will long for and look forward to.

On the same lines, it can certainly help to invest in a modest library at home, of selected children’s books and don’t forget to reserve a room or even a corner for reading in the house. So go on a book shopping spree with your kids (with a predetermined budget of course) 😉 and start creating compelling and multi-sensory magical memories of reading.

 

I think I will stop here and probably in a future post also share the titles of some of the books that I enjoy reading with my children.

Would love to hear from you, on reading tips and tricks that worked for you!

 

©2016 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Shadow of words

On a day just like any other
A shadow of words swept past me like a mere touch of a feather
I was lounging and swaying in my easy chair
Not ready…my musings to share
My mind wandering across time and space
As my chair rocked to keep pace
My eyes fluttered unseeing
Reveling in this state of just being
Lulling me to a sleep like state
Unaware of an approaching fate
My comforting wheel of daydreams suddenly sputtered and stuck
That is when I was struck!
By a flurry of emotions
Each one weighty and equally keen
Requests really from many a thoughts unseen
My surroundings gradually blurred
And my focus drawn to a jumble of words needing to be heard
They approached with a plea
One so humble and true, as they faced me
“We have no where to go!”
“Yet we continue to grow”
“We wondered what to do?!”
“Then finally we were led to you”
In unison cried they
“Would you find us a place we can call our home” they meekly began to say
“A place of our very own to live and to play”
I regarded them carefully
To reject or to accept I did have a choice surely
Or so I did honestly believe
But that was just too naive
Before I could think further words tumbled from me
“Yes, I will” I heard myself voice in glee
Then another appeal from yet another
Soon I am swarmed from all over
By requests no less strange and no less real
I was overcome by an irrepressible feel
A floating cloud of ideas drew closer
As the last of my doubts started to cease
They whispered to me “Ground us please”
“We have had enough of this aimless flight”
“Help us now, help us to the ground alright”
“That is all we ask”
I considered long and hard, thinking “hmm…not an easy task”
Yet “Sure can and will” are the words that slipped out instead
And so I set to work before I could lose the thread
‘Cause a wish granted has to be wish delivered
No other way
No other say
So I anchored the ideas with words heavy and bright
Tying them up in a plot neat and tight
Infused them with a kind of strength that only a stroke of a key or a pen can lend
Concocting up what I believed to be a rare and fine blend
Stirring up a fabric so fluid
Attempting to lock-in that indescribable mood
As in awe I watched new worlds unfold
Drawing me irrevocably into their fold

 

©2016 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Life sure is a balancing act!

This one is for the folks who constantly strive to strike a balance between career and life.

  • Have you ever battled feelings of guilt over having to compromise quality family time over a work related project that you felt personally responsible for?
  • Conversely have you experienced guilt over having skipped an important meeting to attend your child’s school function?
  • As a homemaker have you been plagued with multiple requests flowing in from different directions while you felt lost. All this on a day the dishwasher just stopped working, the vacuum cleaner got stuck on the rug and of course the domestic worker conveniently and spontaneously decided to take a day off.
  • Do you find yourself blaming your significant other for not sharing responsibilities, your parents for not supporting you enough or for that matter countless other people or machines for bailing out on critical days…all factors that are way beyond your control leading to a sense of discontentment, lack of peace and order around you?
  • Have you tossed and turned in bed as you relived the events of the day wondering if you could have done anything different to justify your role at work and at home?
  • Does every weekday morning end up being an impossible race to get yourself and the kids ready, fix breakfast and host of other things to get the morning going and you find yourself drained by the time you are hardly half way through the day.
  • Say you have set aside quality time to spend with your family…But to your dismay, just when you are surrounded by family all you can think about is the call that you need to get into, right after the quality time comes to an end. Have you experienced this?

Well if your answer is yes to any one of the above, then you are in a boat riding over stormy waters. Frantically rowing, hoping you had more hands as you went shore to shore…knowing that multiple destinations, goals mean having to travel in multiple directions. A boat that I used to frequently find myself in as well, till not so long ago and I still do at times.

I know now that it was not about work life balance but rather the incessant quest for perfection that had me in knots. The quest to concoct that magic formula to attain perfection in my roles as a career woman as well as a homemaker (read as perfect mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend)

After removing career from the equation I was filled with a sense of amusement and dismay to realize that I had just exchanged a specific set of challenges and dilemmas I had faced, with another set equally formidable if not more. That is when it hit me. It was never really about my career woman role juxtaposed against the role of a homemaker. But rather the challenges that stemmed from my burning need to prove to myself that I could satisfy all the parameters that would qualify me as the perfect all-rounder. It began to dawn on me then, that the answer to this burning predicament lay in finding your own personal equation. One that can balance the different aspects of life that really mattered.

Below are some guidelines that have been helping me along the way in balancing different aspects of my life.

 

  • Stay energy, time and purpose conscious of the tasks at work and household chores

Sometimes you feel compelled, to go out of the way to take on chores for your family members which they can actually do themselves. The same might apply when it comes to your team at work and you find yourself delegating less and doing more on their behalf. Times when you go that extra mile even though the end result does not bring quantifiable benefits. Maybe this comes from a deep rooted desire to feel appreciated and needed. And what better way than getting them to depend on you. This can feel like a blessing from time to time for the people on the receiving end. But in the long run it can have unexpected and negative impact both on you and them.

As the kids grow up encourage independence rather than dependence on you for little tasks to begin with. Little tasks like helping with setting the table, ensuring their dirty clothes are dropped into laundry basket rather than on the floor. Well you get the idea… Might seem like little tasks, but at the end of the day they can add up to be time intensive if you are the one doing it all.

At work focus more on guiding and mentoring rather than hand holding your team and control yourself from stretching yourself too thin by taking on additional responsibilities that won’t add up to quantitative results.

Consciously make it a point to derive self-appreciation from this aspect of letting go.

You can channel this time and energy saved towards a multitude of activities…that contribute towards your personal or career enrichment. Read a book, learn a new skill, reconnect with friends from school or college, join a cycling or book club…

This will give an opportunity for your family members and others to take a step back to know, appreciate, admire and even be inspired by you as a person with strengths and interests that go way beyond mundane household chores or holding a job.

Pay attention and stay conscious about the amount of energy and time you are investing in an activity.

Maybe it is not all that important to iron out every crease on the bedspread or get the house rid of every speck of dust…

Maybe this will ease your daily juggling of time and you can carve this time towards quality time with family, friends or “me” time.

 

  • This phase shall pass too.

There might be phases where you feel overwhelmed. Times when you are bombarded from all sides with things seemingly spinning out of your control as you run back and forth being reactive while trying to play catch-up. It is important to remember it is a transient phase that shall surely pass. Considering everything in the universe is in a constant state of change…this phase is just not meant to last. So just hang in there and ride the storm with your head held high even though you can’t seem to feel the ground. Keep things in perspective. Sometimes having a bad day is just that…a bad day, be it a frequent or occasional occurrence…but it is not the end of the line.

 

  • Building and sustaining confidence and recognizing inbuilt capability

Build and grow self-awareness to understand your inbuilt capabilities. Be conscious of the activities that inspire and excite you and make you want to push the limits. Ensure you set some time aside to engage in these activities especially if they are outside the scope of your work or the chores of a typical day.

Once you have identified your strengths it is important to draw upon them and use them to your advantage.

Feel proud about all that you have achieved and let yourself visualize achieving all that you have dreamt about.

Learn a new skill that is outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself by exploring or trying something new like breaking a complicated code or learning kick boxing. Aim to push the limits, be it on an intellectual level or on a physical level.

Focus on sustaining success rather than just attaining quick material success that fades away swiftly. It is about leaving a positive and lasting impression.

Remember that pursuit of joy and childlike enthusiasm and self-discovery fill you with a lasting satisfaction rather than pursuit of perfection or instant gratification or quick results.

There might be times when you find yourself at a critical junction in your life. For instance a situation that compels you to choose between continuing with your career or taking a break to be a home maker. Apart from logic, more importantly draw upon your courage to trust your inner compass to guide you in the right direction if ever you find yourself at the crossroads to choose one path over the other.

 

  • Get the smart phone to work for you rather than against you.

You don’t need to respond to every forwarded or shared message or image across any social media apps or sites.

Set a timer for the amount of time you spend on social sites and chatting. Keep track of the time you spend on social media consuming information, chatting and socializing versus contributing and sharing meaningful content

If you are fretting over lack of time to read the newspaper or about catching up on financial or world news, then explore using your smartphone to deliver custom news updates at your fingertips when you are on the move, but are hands free.

You can use the scheduler on it apart from exploring the use of other time-saving apps.

Keep your messages succinct and crisp. If you are slow at typing or review and deliberate long before sending a message, just make a call or record a message and share. Customize it so that you receive notification only for meaningful events. These are just a few guidelines to get you thinking on these lines.

 

  • Prioritize and streamline your activities

Create and follow a schedule of all that needs to be accomplished for the day. Don’t forget to include the time to hang-out with family, friends, or for that matter to read a book to your kids.

Build efficiency when it comes to operational and repetitive household tasks. For example ensuring the prior night, that things are in place…right from the dress for you to wear and the kids for the next day, deciding what to cook for the next one week. These will go a long way in starting off the day on a smooth and positive note. Develop a routine to streamline daily repetitive chores but at the same time dare to break the routine every now and then and experiment with a change in the schedule.

Indulge in routine activities that you love and explore alternate ways to do things that leave you drained. Like for example running grocery errands.

If the act of shopping for household needs is not something you look forward to, then look for alternate ways like getting it delivered to your door or consolidating grocery errands and deferring where possible. But if you are someone who takes delight in walking aisle after aisle marveling at the impressive range of produce and products and feel it gives you an opportunity to engage your senses of sight, smell and touch as you go about exercising your right of choice then by all means go ahead and bask in it.

 

  • Keep your energy levels high as you cruise through the day.

Eating right and ensuring you get sufficient shut eye will naturally help. Apart from keeping healthy snacks handy it helps to listen to music of your choice or hum a tune of your choice whenever possible. Do things to keep the spirits high as you swing through the day. This especially works when you find your interest levels ebbing for activities you consider rather boring.

There are times when you get to do the work that you love and times when you find yourself doing something that does not you inspire you much.

When you are passionate about what you do, indulge and draw as much enjoyment as you can from that. As for activities that you find draining and downright boring, infuse them with excitement like maybe with a touch of music.

 

  • Presentable

Dress for comfort and internal feel good factor rather than for a compulsion to look your best at all times. The catch with looking your best is that you end up putting in your best efforts to get there. Efforts that wreak havoc on your time and energy unless you already have a natural talent and passion in this space.

Know that it is not always necessary to follow the popular trend especially if it is not to your liking. You can stick to your own trend, sense of fashion and carry it with confidence and panache.

 

  • Distance yourself from negativity

Negative vibes can flow your way in the form of juicy gossip, caustic or negative comments thinly veiled as well-meaning suggestions.

If you cannot avoid at least do not react to these. Reacting will only serve to feed the negativity and these can turn out to be energy and time guzzlers dragging you down.

 

  • Exclusive soul enrichment time

There are certain activities that contribute towards your personal growth and is the underlying foundation to what defines your peace, happiness and well-being.

Set aside some reasonable amount of time that you absolutely do not compromise on. Time to connect with your parents, husband, kids and last but not the least yourself.

For instance dabble with nurturing, growing and tending to plants. A terrace garden, some potted plants on a balcony or a sprawling garden can all serve the same purpose. It can have a therapeutic effect.

 

I don’t claim these have transformed my life dramatically or for that matter that I have followed all these guidelines at all times.

But I can attest to the fact that whenever I did, they did make me feel lighter and more relaxed. They have succeeded in taking the edge off on what could have turned out to be a difficult day and instead put a smile on my face. A smile with a contagious effect on the people around me…

 

 

©2016 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

 

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