The Goodbyes…

And I have realised that every good bye is tough…

When I did plays – as much as I loved opening night and all the grandeur and excitement; it was always bitter-sweet. There’d be no more rehearsals, no more swapping stories and gossip, no more long coffee breaks and bloopers. The family that we created would graduate and move on to their own lives. Of course we’d meet for shows , much like families meet for the holidays and we’d have the quick catchups and the familiar laughs but there would now be a distance and it would never quite be the same.

But then before you know it there’d be a new show and a new family and the closeness and bonds would be forged again.

When I started expanding Balancing Act, it became the same. Each person was hand picked and chosen and I made them family over time and every time one left there was a part of me that missed the relationship we shared and another part excited about the new person/ people I would meet.

I now know that life is a journey. You will meet many people on the way. People come in to your life for many reasons. Some to help you , even when you didn’t know you needed help; some to teach you lessons – even the harshest or hardest of lessons and once you receive the help or learn from the lessons they will leave you and move on as their purpose has been served.

However there will be a few who will stay on and on and on, because both you and them will keep learning, growing and helping each other. And these are the people that you will find over time, that you will learn to value and who will always have your back. These are the people who are on your journey with you- so you will never be alone.

These are the people you won’t say goodbye to.

Look for these people. Treasure these people. Love these people.

P.s. (Palat says)-: Every good bye has a hello just waiting to happen!

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I’m Not Ok. You’re Not Ok!

So the discussion veered to ‘Mental Health.’ How brave is it for someone to acknowledge that they need a mental health day, or that they are going through depression , or that they need help-I was told?

Brave as it may be, I countered, it’s often still a luxury for most families in India to be allowed a mental health day. And as much as I agree we can’t ignore depression or mental health, I wonder how many companies allow their employees this basic need.

When yesterday I received a call from an Agency at 9 p.m. while they were still at office, I wondered, how many hours people spend at their desks? In India, the time you spend at your office seems to have a direct and completely ludicrous correspondence to your work ethic…is that truly healthy? When in India, hours are spent commuting to jobs in over crowded commuter trains and buses and little to no time is spent with family- how does that help mental health? When going to a counsellor or mental health professional is associated with a person being unsound of mind and gossiped about- how is that healthy? We can ask for a sick day at work, but eyebrows raise if a mental health day was asked for- may be the pressure or stress is too much, it is assumed.

How can we claim to be sensitive to mental health- when everything we create around us, or expect from others is in direct contradiction to mental health?

It’s a luxury in India to talk about depression. It’s a luxury almost none can afford.

Till Indian companies start hiring a counsellor/ mental health professional on the payroll, like they do with HR and legal and other departments- it will always be a luxury. Till it is mandatory for every employee to get even 15 minutes where they can vent / talk to someone qualified to monitor their mental health- we cannot discuss or pretend to be evolved enough to acknowledge mental health as being important.

Till schools have counsellors and make it mandatory for children to visit and talk taking away the stigma attached to talking about mental health- we cannot assume that we are taking mental health seriously.

Till then, ‘mental health’ and our worries about them remain castles in the clouds. Unless we decide to remove the stigma and make a difference in our company lives, in our children’s lives and in our own lives- it will always remain a Celebrity first world problem and something that we will never actually even attempt to address.

P.s. -(Palat says): It’s easy talking about problems… we all have a ton of them. It’s solutions that are hard. Work out the solution rather than always looking for the problem.

Take a Chance on Change!

To start over…something must end. To say hello… sometimes we have to say goodbye.To laugh again…sometimes we need to have cried!

Divya Palat 

It’s so hard when things are over when we just keep holding on! I realised this when I produced my first set of shows and the run was complete and as everyone was about to go on stage , I was bawling in the bathroom not willing to let go. Since then ,it’s been 10 years and it’s still hard; but the public display of tears has significantly reduced and I’m learning to let go of incredible shows, amazing experiences and new found family to make way for even more incredible moments!

A lot of my girl friends are the same with relationships. Trapped with bad boyfriends, terrible husbands, abusive relationships- they aren’t even having a great time- but they’re scared of letting go- what if there’s nothing amazing in store for them next? What if this is as good as it gets? A friend of mine stayed with his cheating boy friend just because she was too afraid to actually go out and find someone again. “It’s too hard,” she told me ..”to start over!”

But even if we’re unwilling to change, scared to let go and holding on with all we’ve got- Life is way faster, smarter and trickier than all of us! Sometimes despite all our ‘clingy’ efforts , we’re going to have to change, have to let go, have to start over! And maybe the new is scary but may be it’s what we needed all along.

A perfect planner, I hated to lose control till I got sick and then paralysed and then suddenly had to allow nurses, doctors and family control of my choices, my life, my body! Suddenly in a moment, all that I was clinging to- my ridiculous plans, my naive thoughts on my career progress and my life ambitions had to be re-thought, re assessed and restarted overnight! And when you stop fearing the future and embrace the change then suddenly Life is an adventure and you can be part of an incredible journey. Had I resisted change, Balancing Act Productions (my company) would not be in it’s tenth year , I would not be married to my soulmate and best friend, and I’d never have walked again.

Sometimes Change makes all the right choices you were just too scared to make! Sometimes Change gets it right!

Trust!

Time travails!

So we each run around talking about how we don’t have time. we don’t have time for this or that….and that we wish we had more hours in a day….but do we actually make PRODUCTIVE use of that time…???

an actor with a day job i was speaking to once told me after a rehearsal that his job with a well known tv channel was really not that challenging… he came in by 10. 10- 10:30 he had breakfast with a co-worked either at his desk or at the co-workers desk. and then he went back to work, where he logs in to gmail chat…finishes his work in an hour and chats online the rest of the time or better still facebook’s! then it’s lunch and he and his group usually take a long lunch from 1- 2:30, after which it’s an hours work and then off to tea from 3:30-4:30 and they pack up by about 5:30 ish…

Productively he has 2 hrs of work…the rest of the day the company seems to just want seat-warmers!

that’s the one thing i learnt at stanford…it didn’t matter how much time u spent at the books…what mattered was what you gave in….results mattered….it didn’t matter whether you could absorb what you read in an hour and party the entire weekend , starting friday morning…it mattered what you gave in at the next class.

companies lay too much importance on desk sitting and less importance on actual competence! my friend at stanford finished his entire under-graduation a year early–where did he find time, with his excess partying and trillion extra-curricular activities…i don’t know…but i do know that he was valued on his work and results an not how much time he sat looking at books! sitting for 8 hrs at your desk does not make you productive, finishing deadlines, completing tasks- that does!

google and so many other software companies in palo alto have chilling rooms where employees can play ps3 , bounce basket balls ..even go for a swim-DURING THE WORK DAY to INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY!!! there is even a software giant who has a sleep room for a quick afternoon siesta!

PRODUCTIVITY is about making optimal use of your energies …

think about it….

walk into an office and you’ll see 9/10 employees on social networking sites. that’s great- they need the downtime! but wouldn’t it be better if you worked with them basis deadlines and not basis 9-5 p.m.!that way maybe you’ll even end up saving on electricity bills and have a happier group of co-workers….

so today….just start setting personal deadlines for you and those in your team (WORKABLE personal deadlines) and then let them be adults and make them deliver on their deadline… surprisingly ,like what happens in palo alto software companies a lot of employees because of the time freedom they get end up working a lot later and a lot harder….so its win-win!