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Death Happened

And so he died. He walked his usual morning walk, sat down perhaps a bit out of breath and died.Since he died, resting at a bus stop, daily travellers saw him. People gathered and whispers began. The police came. And all this before it was 7 am.

Crowds and strangers knew before his family did.

Who called the cops? The street cleaner- she had seen the man sit down and then she saw him die. She called the cops because she knew his walk routine.

It hit me then- more so because I had just finished my ‘routine’ walk. Is that what we do every day? We wake up, follow a routine and then fall asleep and then wake up and do the darn thing again? And then die.

Sure may be the over exercise has made me more fatalistic than usual. Or more tired. And the gloomy November coupled with pain doesn’t help, but that scared me!

We live one life. We know this. And we know every day is a gift. Yet we seem to just be content doing the same thing every day. And then before you realise it we’re done.

So this week was about celebrating the ‘un-schedule.’ Sure, we did the ridiculous exercise every day and the spinning- but we also did a #DateBreakfast ,a #MidweekMovie, a card game evening, a shopping afternoon, a girls dinner and a trip to Alibag…

The week was longer than it should have been but way more memorable. I shocked my routine, surprised my self doing more things in a day than I thought possible- but it was amazing.

I always said I will not die until I live and somewhere along the way somehow even the crazy, psychotic me, lost my madness in routine. And I guess death was a big wake up call for me. Thank you Unknown Man, you made me value my day a lot more.

P.s. (Palat says)-: Re look at your life… it shouldn’t be a movie you are bored of. It should have all the masala and romance of your favourite film. After all , here you are the star.

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The Big Fight

This blog has become a venting outlet for my week, my pain, my stress and all my drama. And this week had all of it in bucket loads!

The exercise routine is tiring me out more than I care to accept and 5 ams, look no brighter on a Friday than they do on Mondays. Add to that a long work week and new pain in areas I didn’t know had sensation, it was a recipe for disaster.

So when the husband decided to argue with me on an obvious non-issue, my world fell apart. Having been friends for so long the honesty that we share is comforting and frightening all together. But he laid bare about his stress with my pain and illness and how that became frightening for him. In turn I felt like I had further complicated his life and felt truly ashamed and frighteningly alone. The over tiredness and stress had gotten to both of us and we said things that we definitely shouldn’t have. However under all the layers what did shine out, was that this journey is scary.

I am blessed. I see my Multiple Sclerosis. He’s the invisible villain, but I know of his existence. Life is scary and as much as we’re trying to get through this journey as unscathed as we possibly can, life happens! Life happens when you least expect it. And it just doesn’t happen to us, it happens to all those around us too. I can howl in pain, Aditya stresses. I can take a tablet or 5, but those around me just have to watch helplessly.

I don’t need your pity or help. But know you feel hopeless when you can offer me none..

So today, to all those in my life who silently play cheerleader- thank you. I am sorry you’re on a journey that neither of us bargained for. And I’m sorry I keep taking you on my rollercoaster without acknowledging that you too our stuck on this ride with me and often without a seat belt.

Thank you for your love and support. I am proud to have you.

P.s. (Palat says)-: The big fight will end and will start again but every so often it’s important to have the honest conversations. These make for the good fights even if they are big ones. But it’s very important to have them.

Burn the Old

And in keeping with the theme of the year Diwali had me with the flu! The Diwali party I went to had me in tears when a guest innocently asked me about my health. I blamed it on over tiredness and far too much medication with almost no food but it spoke to me of a deeper worry. This year my health got me scared. I was tired of being ill, fed up of the pain and was almost desperate to have a day where I felt better. It also made me realise that while I was so busy pretending that none of this mattered to me at all, in truth, it actually did.

The party was cut short by the worried husband and I fell asleep with more medication, wheezing severly and in pain.

But like always we started the new day , with me pretending the previous vulnerable me didn’t exist. I marched around the house lighting lamps, cleaning up, powering through a back pain, fever and faking that I could actually breathe. It was then in the evening, the magic of Diwali happened.

Some friends came over- just to relax, hang out, have a drink and laugh. They didn’t care how I looked or what I felt like. They accepted that I couldn’t get up so easily and that I was cold and flu-ish. They marvelled at the little lighting I had done and played new games which neither of us understood. They made Diwali easy. Diwali became about friends and family. It became about no judgement and easiness and the lights were all of us in that room- laughing and smiling.

I stopped pretending and guess what, the world didn’t stop loving me… and I didn’t lose face either… a remarkable revelation , in many ways most so for me!

This Diwali wasn’t fancy.It was simple. It was intimate. It was messy. And that was perfect.

P.s. (Palat says)-: The end of the year sometimes also means learning to put an end to the expectations and drama you carry within yourself. If you kill your inner Ravana (ego), you can allow your soul to fully shine through…

Warning: Angry Post!

Beware this is an angry post… cos I am …well… angry!

She didn’t even know me. She walked up to me as I was crossing the street, and in pain because of my back and chose to talk to me. “Are you Divya Palat,” she curiously questioned. To my affirmative, she immediately said “Oh you have put on…” emphasising her point by showing me how much larger she assumed my frame had become.

“Yes, I also have a brain tumour,” I added not skipping a beat. The quickness I replied, masked the hurt I felt by this thoughtless comment. “Oh,” her face changed and she now seemed to want me to accept an apology and allow her to feel forgiven for her insensitive comment. She didn’t try hard enough and I didn’t wait and honestly even if she tried, neither would I have forgiven her nor would I have cared to even understand her audacity to have made such a comment.

My mother always told me if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And maybe her insecurity shone through her stupid statement. But it still stung.

But when did it become okay to comment on how people look? When did it become okay to hurt people, for no reason at all but just because you could? In the last 20 years, with Multiple sclerosis and a brain tumour, I have put on weight and then lost some and then put it on again and then lost some again but that is my journey. I’m sure our self- entitled beauty critic has changed a fair amount in 20 years too, even without illness. And even if that has happened it would be crass of me to take pot shots of her and her journey because neither has she asked my opinion nor am I entitled to make personal judgements about her.

When did being mean become the new normal?

We can all wander about saying we shouldn’t care about what people say or what people think but why should that give people carte blanche to say whatever they want, whenever they want and to whom ever they want?

I have multiple sclerosis , have a brain tumour and have been in and out of treatment this year and on and off of intravenous steroids to manage the illness. I have slipped a disc in my back , haven’t slept a good night’s sleep for 2 weeks and am in unbelievable pain every single day. I still make sure I give my best to the day and give each person I meet respect, empathy and thoughtfulness… You don’t have to care about me or my journey… but may be you could not volunteer your unnecessary point of view and just quite simply SHUT UP!

Or is basic decency too much to ask for now?

The ‘Perfect’ storm

This weekend I had a realisation– more often than not , while we’re so busy trying to be perfect and appear flawless…we sometimes put on the same front for ourselves. Appearing ‘perfect’ for someone else is fine, but conning yourself into believing that all is well, is delusional, silly and can be downright harmful.

In my life, I’ve always tried to appear the trooper, someone totally in control and someone who needs little to no help. And sometimes, especially on the difficult days I have my guard up so high, I almost believe it. But the week had been long and tiring and the weekend came as a welcome respite and for the first time in a long time, I was truly honest with myself – about my fears, the pain, my negative habits and the mean voices in my head. And as I talked about them with the husband, who, is my biggest confidante, my best friend and long time sufferer of me :); I became calmer and stronger and less afraid.

We build walls around us to mask who we truly are because we feel the world won’t like us and then over time, some times we forget who we truly are behind those very high walls. And it may take more than a few moments for you to find out who you really are, flaws and all; once the mask is removed. But every so often it’s important you do that, and lay yourself bare, if not for someone else, but at least for yourself. It is the most incredibly cathartic, terrifying and completely freeing thing you will ever do.

This weekend was long, scary and wonderful for me.

It opened me up to a week where I start to build my walls all over again, but I’ve decided to acknowledge the walls this time, acknowledge that I’m building up a shield , so that may be I can keep a small door open at the side, to allow me to still know and recognise and most importantly love my true self.

P.s.(Palat says)-: There will always be those that judge you… don’t stand behind them in line…Find your own cheerleader and if that’s hard to find then be your personal cheerleader!

#BadDay

The Doc’s appointment was not the easy, breezy, smooth sailing Friday evening I expected… Instead I was given a scary fact check and reminded that despite the fact that I take my illness (Multiple sclerosis) rather lightly, it is a serious illness and I will need to start taking more care of me.

And so I did, what else, but go out on Friday night and just had fun!

We celebrate all our wins and achievements but more often than not, we don’t celebrate sorrows or losses. I am not in the habit of celebrating just the wins… I learnt a long time ago that life happens when you least expect it and we might as well celebrate everything- the highs and the lows because it’s all part of the ride of life.

Much like a roller coaster where you are waiting for the high you get on the drop, you enjoy the anticipation of the climb as well – such is life. For every low, you will have a high… but just celebrating the highs make the lows seem lower and the highs seem higher and in my mind that doesn’t add up.

It seems easier to say than to put in practise but try this in your life once and you’ll find the bad day becomes a whole lot better… and I like better days , good days and great days…! I mean, who doesn’t.

P.s. (Palat says)-: A bad day is just a day… and tomorrow can always be bright , sunny and amazing. So if we focus on the happy… the happy focusses on us!

I’m weird!

I’m a little weird and I know that most of you who know me will think that this is a glaring understatement. But I think , in the most part, so are each of you!

This week was a mixture of emotions. With the looming doctor visit today, the week had a sense of foreboding and horror. The start of the week though seemed promising- we had the premiere of ‘The Joker’ to watch. An unbelievable performance shone light on a character’s incredible personal turmoil and struggle and desire to be accepted. In all his strangeness , eventually he desired to be seen and , if possible, loved. And isn’t that in a way, each one of us, don’t we mask our imperfections with a mask/ filter. We colour of thoughts with politically correct words thinking it will make us more liked and accepted.

Aren’t we all in one way or another wearing a disguise?

And then I realised that the one thing I have learnt over the years is to allow myself to feel, to be vulnerable, to yell and to shout and to cry. And this who know my weirdness also know my many, many flaws. Sure , it may be better to hide them; but really what is the point?

I’ve realised no matter how much you change or try- some people won’t like you and no matter how hard you become the person you think they want you to be nothing changes.

But if you look hard enough, you’ll find your people. They will be weird , in different ways, but they will accept you. And when you do find them, learn and allow them to be who they are, so you each can grow, learn, accept and be stronger.

With ‘The Joker’ I looked inside of me. And with the rest of the week that followed, I learnt that I can’t be everything to everyone. I can just be me and that’s ok too!

P.s. (Palat says)-:The week has been a roller coaster… I’m hoping tonight’s doc visit ends on a win… But nonetheless I’m out partying tonight! What am I celebrating…? I’m celebrating making it thru another week! And that’s awesome!

This too shall pass…

Those who know me know I believe strongly in numerology… numbers- the ones I like and especially the ones I don’t like help me make choices between access cards to offices, square footage of my office and even hotel room numbers. But in life, even if all the numbers align; sometimes you have great luck and some times not so great. As a number ‘9’, I usually am supposed to have super high highs and very low lows and this was true of me a lot of the time. Call it me being ‘over dramatic’ like the sign in my room says- ‘Drama Queen,’ or just over-emotional… I was always having the worst day ever or the best day ever. I either loved or hated and couldn’t manage the mid point at all.

Now over the years…(and NO I HAVE NOT BECOME OLD), I just realised something truly important- 4 words- THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

With this I realised the best day and most amazing news would also pass tomorrow and the ‘worst day’ of my life would also move over and be yesterday’s news.

And some times , more often than not, just saying this aloud makes the busiest week less tiring and the longest days more bearable. It also makes me appreciate the nicest of days knowing that it will also pass and I should truly live in the moment and relish it.

The sun will still come out tomorrow, the world will still keep spinning and everything that’s in between will keep passing. The only thing constant is change and that’s all we can depend on!

P.s.(Palat says)-: I miss the madness some times of over reacting… but I don’t miss the blood pressure! 🙂

Slip Disc Musings

And so keeping in tune with the year the back collapsed on me… with a slip disc I hobbled around albeit sideways while my puppy tried his best not to trip me up on stairs (unsuccessfully) and my husband worked on being the ‘perfect stick’ for me to lean on (equally unsuccessfully).

And though I was told I should rest I hobbled thru my walk ( a much shorter version though) and turned up to office and went to meetings as was scheduled. I even went to a friend’s party on Saturday and ….. hung out on the uber comfortable couch (thanks Nosh)… but I still went!

I had a friend over on Wednesday and we chatted for hours and I heated food and served it and went about hosting her like a pro, or so I’d like to think…And tonight we’re going out again… cos I’ve realised its mind over matter and pain mustn’t stop me from doing things or meeting people… because I don’t want to regret times I ‘could have had.’

And despite being called ‘a control-freak’ by some-namely Mom and Aditya, I realised that what I had was the most positive version of #FOMO.

#FOMO (the fear of missing out) is usually regarded as a negative, negative hashtag and often in our busy lives we really make fun of it and enjoy the precious silences and alone time.

But take it from me, when it becomes difficult to do something, you really miss the time it was easy. You miss choice when you don’t have any. When people wonder why I clock the time when my arm hurts ; it’s because I need to be grateful for the time it doesn’t. What I miss most about my life pre-multiple sclerosis; is waking up without any pain. But now every day I get up; I get out and make the best of it. I know that today is possibly easier than tomorrow and I’m not going to miss today.

So I love having too many invitations and try and do everything because there is no joy for me in missing out… We take too many things in our lives for granted- let’s now enjoy every moment of the ability to be able to do all the things important to us! There is true joy in that.

P.s.(Palat says)-: Don’t hate the noise and busyness … the silence is lonely.

Kill Cruella!

I have always been rather self destructive. My parents remember this well, when I got myself in trouble when they were in the midst of shouting at my sister for something she had done and I would suddenly point out something I had done which was worse.

But cute as that seemed as I grew older, I got even more destructive. The critical little voice in my head was almost a shout and I was never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or worthy enough. And so I hurt myself, I had terrible bouts of anxiety and stress. I was depressed at times and was easily swayed into believing that I was lucky to get anything because I obviously didn’t deserve it.

And when I got sick (multiple sclerosis), this became even worse. Now I was living proof of someone who may never be pretty enough, smart enough or worthy of anything- but something switched inside me. I was stuck so long listening to this evil shouting voice, I never took the time to hear the softer, more encouraging voice in my head. And when I did take the time, and since in the hospital ,I did have just time- I started hearing the voice that told me to believe.

It’s the voice that tells you that ‘you can be more, you can do more and that you are better than you think you are.’ It’s the voice that tells you to believe in yourself and that you are ready for the meeting, for the interview and even to take over the world! It’s the voice that tells you that your body- in pain, fit or unfit- is amazing because it’s yours. It’s the voice that tells you every day can be amazing because you are part of it.

And once you listen to this voice , the evil one becomes softer and slowly becomes non existent, if you work hard enough.

Initially and even sometimes now, when I hear Cruella (yup she has a name) popping up with her fears and doubts in me… I loudly proclaim how sure , how positive and how amazing I am so that Miss D (yup she has a name too) gets the strength to go louder than ever!

P.s.(Palat says)-: How successful you are will often be a direct relation to how much you believe in you. Don’t look for the applause from outside. Be proud to be your biggest cheerleader.

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