I love distractions.
Sometimes I have a mountain of work to do. I might work on the less urgent, more comfortable stuff first. And then someone comes and asks me to do something else. And I grab that lifeline because it’s one more excuse not to do the hard, most pressing stuff!
One of my goals this year needs to be to focus more. To have a laser sharp focus on the 20 percent of my work that will produce 80 percent of the results.
I was inspired by this Seth Godin post about focusing.

“You will care more about the things that aren’t working yet, you’ll push through the dip, you’ll expend effort and expose yourself to fear.

“When you have a lot of balls in the air, it’s easy to just ignore the ones that make you uncomfortable or that might fall.”

Three things that have helped me so far are:

1) Filling up my Outlook calendar with top priorities a day or even a week before.

2) Sneaking away to Starbucks to clear my head and get side projects done!

3) Jotting down ideas and thoughts and next steps in Evernote, so I can flesh them out later and get things done more quickly.

Traditional Credentials Are So 10 Years Ago

Vanessa Chase at The Storytelling Nonprofit recently made a confession.
She has her own business with three part-time employees and has fundraised more than $10 million for different causes.
And she just turned 26.
She says:
“…no one put up a job posting for what I currently do. I just did it. Because you are never too young or too old to say, “yes” to what you really want to do.
“…We are too often told in Western society that there is a proper way of moving into certain professions and that we are well advised to follow the beaten path.The reality is that you don’t need this validation or certification to do what it is you want to do in life. Only you need to say yes to your dreams and desires. “
In my early 20s, I had a complex about being young. I was frustrated at the things I didn’t know. I thought you had to have years of experience or letters behind your name and pay your dues before you could achieve your dreams.
Years later, that changed as I started to see people in college or barely out of college crushing this mentality.
Now, 20-somethings are starting businesses left and right. They realize they can gain the skills to succeed more quickly by venturing on their own, rather than pushing paper as a junior at a company and waiting years to use even a tenth of their true potential.
And enterprising people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are realizing they can start a new chapter and take control of their career, without waiting for validation by a boss or industry peers.
More people are finding a need in the market and doing something about it.
Personal finance/”rich life” expert Ramit Sethi knew that tips like “stop buying lattes” or “pinch more pennies” or “use your willpower” did little to produce real results. So he spent years perfecting techniques and processes that helped people get rich.
After building a huge following, getting results for his clients and making big bank, he still gets asked about his financial planning and counseling credentials.
He wonders if this might be the most annoying question in the world.
What does he offer up in response? Evidence of helping people. And content that shows years of research and testing.
He’s not a certified career counselor or financial planner, but his results certainly speak for themselves.

“If you believe experience and credentials are the only ways to land a dream job, you’re missing out on the entire world of people who are simply sidestepping you.   …

“The truth is, we don’t need magical credentials to get ahead. Yes, experience matters, and in some jobs, credentials really matter.

“But we all know people who defer finding a dream job until they have “all their ducks in a row” — typically $100K of grad school, maybe some worthless certification, only to find out that nobody really cares.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that scoffed at hiring MBAs, preferring people who can show they’ve got the experience, guts and endurance to meet business goals, regardless of their degrees.
So if you’re waiting for permission to put your strengths to work and start making things happen for yourself, it’s time to kick yourself in the butt and start moving!
It’s about not waiting for permission, but taking action. You’re not a clone. You’re not a slave to systems.
You find the market. You find the challenge. You offer the solution.

Sethi says:

“Just remember this: We don’t need to wait for years, praying and hoping for our boss to swoop down and grace us with ‘success.'”

Pregnant again.

My first pregnancy was magical. Just a little morning sickness here and there. Even at 7 or 8 months I had the energy to go for brisk walks, be out at events and gallivant here and there. We spent weekends visiting friends in Chicago, New York, Dallas and Austin.

This second pregnancy was fine up until around 6 months. I could feel all my organs dropping lower and lower as if into some kind of abyss. My stomach has the weight of a thousand bricks. My footsteps are small, to avoid any pain or pressure. For a time I had ice cream or chocolate every day. I don’t exercise. I barely stand up or walk.

Truthfully, the pregnancy is going pretty well; it’s just not as magical as the first time.

Today at work, it felt like people were almost ducking out of my way, like they think I’m going to poop out a baby if I keep walking. One woman looked at me and shook her head and all she could say was, “Oh, Lord Jesus.”

She put her hand on my belly with a worried look and said, “In the name of Jesus.” I’m sure it was a prayer of blessing. But it came out like she was in pain from just looking at me, and she might as well have said “Thank you, Jesus, that I’m not in her shoes. Let me get out of here before her afterbirth gets on me.”

Anyway, thank God for mothers. My mom brought me backyard-grown beets, jeera and bean thoran yesterday, along with some chicken. I had some for lunch today. My friend Pokie even stopped by with some delicious homemade pasta last night.

jeera beans beets chicken

I went for a 3-hour gestational diabetes test yesterday. I don’t have the final results, but it wasn’t looking so good. That meant I had to turn down a plate of jello and tres leches this afternoon. Bummer! I can’t wait for the moment it’s safe to sit down and eat a blackberry pie with a side of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Typical Morning with a Toddler

I haven’t written too much about momhood, so I thought I’d share a glimpse.

Layla usually falls asleep around 10 p.m. (Yes, this qualifies us in the bad parents category.) I’ve got to be at work at 8:30 a.m. at the latest. So she does not get the pediatrician recommended 10-12 hours of sleep. Heck she’s lucky if she sleeps more than I do.

Anyway so I like to get up, read, wash dishes, make eggs, take my time.

During this time, my girl is still catching her zzzs. At some point, either Layla wakes up, or I start changing her clothes while she’s sleeping. That’s when she wakes up or she just hisses at me in her sleep that she needs to keep her pajamas on.

For breakfast, she eats eggs or yogurt. Some days I’m lucky if she eats just raisins or pretzels. (Bad mom alert!) So you can see why she had the distinction at her second birthday of being in the first percentile for weight.

Anyway, we went through a week or so where she would not even sit on the potty, brush her teeth or eat before school. At some point the clock was ticking, time was up, and I just had to drive her to school with the morning routine incomplete.

This would be followed by nagging rants from me to her. I would go on and on about the things we were not getting done. It sounded like I was yelling at a teenager or something.

You might think, She’s only 2, she is not hearing all your nagging!

But I know she hears every last bit. At some point over the next few days, she would repeat bits and pieces of my rant.  Anyway, eventually my dear daughter started back on the routine and is now walking around with brushed teeth. *phew*

Usually, her dad is already at work by the time Layla wakes up. So if she actually does what she is supposed to in the morning, she’ll say to me, “I’m going to tell Daddy I went pee pee and brushed my teeth!”

And sure enough, when he walks into her classroom at 4:30, she doesn’t just say “Hi, Daddy!” She beams and proclaims, “Daddy, I pee peed and brushed my teeth this morning!”

Yes, 9 hours later she is proud of having done something that will make her pops happy.

Anyway, so keeping my toddler clean and adhering to basic hygiene, this is the daily battle this mom fights. Not to mention the whole eating and sleeping ordeal. Can I get an Amen, anyone?

The Un*Garage Sale

This Saturday marks a first for Sajan and me: our first garage sale!

Except, this un*garage sale will be not in front of our garage but in the Aquatic Center parking lot on Austin Parkway (behind HEB). It’s hosted by our homeowners association. Come see us between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Here are some items that will be on display.





OK I have these cute little shoes from India. I don’t know if I can actually part with them; we’ll see. But we will have some saris and salwars.


photo frame coasters
















Check out more goods that can be yours on Sajan’s blog.

A walk around the innards of Kozhencherry

One day, my mom’s youngest brother, Babu Uncle, took us on a walk through Kozhencherry, past all the houses and pathways he used as a kid. We started outside St. Thomas College and walked way up a hill. Up past their childhood home. It was interesting to see all the power lines and modern things that were not there way before.
st thomas college kozhencherry

We walked past a Che Guevara spray painting, a common sight.

che guevara kozhencherryIt was sundown, so we couldn’t capture the surreal beauty of everything we walked by. We even went through a wild, grassy, rocky path where there was no path, up a big hill. We shined our flashlights to not trip on the rocks and hoped there were no snakes around. And they used to walk these trails barefoot.  The site below is supposed to be korangan mala (monkey forest), where maybe a few hundred years ago there were monkeys.
monkey forest kozhencherry

We walked by a candle-lit Hindu temple.

temple candlesWe walked and walked. It was great to see the calm, residential part of Kozhencherry.



Many of my cousins who I don’t normally get to see often all happened to be in Kerala for the housewarming of my cousins Sajanchan and Ligychechi. They built a grand beautiful house for their visits back home from the Middle East. Above is the house at night with a tent in front for the party to come. It started with a prayer meeting.


Then the pala kacha where you turn on the stove for the first time and heat up some milk for some chaya. In this case, a little fire was lit. The house has an old-school chimney like this, and a real-deal stove in a separate kitchen.


The family took nice group photos before the festivities began.IMG_3249

This is a few of the ladies hanging out in the master bedroom, including my mom’s two older sisters and my cousins.


Here’s some family fun happening in the sit-out.India2013-45 IMG_3344

Did you notice the basket-weave well? It’s the latest style and pretty eye-catching. Apparently, cup and saucer style wells are all the rage, too. There’s plenty of gravelly space to hang out and chat even beyond the sit-out.IMG_3340