Blogging 101 – Update!

So as you all know, I started Blogging 101’s course a couple of weeks back, and I’ve been having great fun with it!

From being a sporadic blogger who didn’t know how to go about being a more active part of the blogging community, I feel like I’ve already come a long way! I now have a fabulous, and very attractive theme, title, tagline, background, sidebar et all! (At least I think so!) πŸ™‚ I have also written more than 5 posts in a span of less than two weeks.. which might easily be one of my biggest achievements so far! πŸ˜€ Oh! I completely forgot.. I now have 55 followers, and I’m also following a good number of blogs! πŸ™‚

But I think my biggest takeaway from this is – I’ve learned that I actually have the ability to commit! Irrespective of how busy my days were, I’ve somehow managed to stay committed to this challenge – and completed all the assignments set by the Blogging 101 community. With that huge accomplishment, I’m only even more excited to see what the rest of this challenge brings! πŸ™‚

Until next week,
With love,
Writer on the rocks.

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Fit in or stand out?

A few days back, I was reading through some blogs as part of Blogging 101’s “Know your neighbour” activity. This post by Dhanya on conforming to societal concerns immediately stuck a chord with me. The following post has been inspired by Dhanya’s post. πŸ™‚

No matter which country or culture you’re born in, there is always this invisible but permanent feature attached, called ‘The Society’. There may be so many things that you want to do, but you invariably end up doing what you’re “supposed” to do. And who decided what you’re supposed to do? Obviously, the society!

1. Go to school and get good grades
2. Go to a reputed college
3. Get married before you turn 25.
4. Pop out a kid within 2 years of marriage max.

And so on go the dictates of the society. You try varying even slightly from the norm, and you can be sure that you will have to answer a barrage of questions from all quarters. More importantly, you have to be mentally prepared to be “frowned upon”.

I wanted to study English Literature once I finished school, because even by then, I had realised that language is something I’m passionate about. However, these were the reactions I got from people.

“Are you crazy?”
“What! You didn’t good grades in your boards?”
“It doesn’t matter. You can study whatever you want. Anyway you’re a girl. Your husband will earn enough for the both of you!”

Of course, my own parents didn’t allow me to study English. They decided that I need to study something that will give me a lucrative career; so I ended up studying Journalism, which allowed me to focus at least partially on my passion – writing.

At least, I had the good sense to take up something that is connected with what I want to do. I have a number of friends who bowed to societal pressure and took up a professional Engineering course, because that was the fad then. Society respected you only if you were an Engineering student. As it turns out, those Engineering students are currently in the same job as I am – a customer service oriented job which any graduate can perform.

A couple of years later, I met the love of my life, and we decided to tie the knot pretty soon. When my marriage was fixed, I was only 21. You know how I said the society wants us to get married “before 25”. Apparently, they have even more specific criteria – “get married between 23 and 25”. 21 is too soon, obviously!

“Why are you marrying off your daughter so soon? Does she have any health issues?” – this one was to my dad.
“You studied in a college for women! How did you meet a guy?”
“You must be a responsible woman and earn for your parents. Why do you need love at this age?”

…were the questions that followed. The first time, I succumbed to societal pressure. This time, I didn’t. I knew what I wanted, I knew how to get it, and so I did!

The point here is that there are always people telling us what we should do. But whether we do what they say or not, is thankfully our prerogative. We needn’t do things just for the sake of conforming to society. It doesn’t matter what everyone else does or doesn’t. We should do what makes us happy!

You want to abandon a corporate job and start a music band? Go do it!
You want to take a few months’ break to write a book? Definitely do it!

These are just examples. Happiness means different things to different people. And as individuals, we have the power to choose to do what makes us happy. Whatever we do or don’t do, our decisions need never be based on what ‘the society’ thinks, says, or does! πŸ˜€

Until the next post,
With love,
Writer on the rocks.

I love my theme! :)

Blogging 101’s fifth challenge – love your blog’s theme. Try different ones and find one that you’d like. Even if you love your current theme, try different ones anyway to see if you like something better.

Boy, am I resistant to change! I love my current theme. I have “Adelle” by WordPress; I’ve customised it quite a bit to suit my tastes, and I didn’t intend changing it for about a hundred years. Before getting started on this challenge, my blog looked like this.

Original

My motives while choosing a theme for my blog are fairly simple and straightforward – I want it to represent me! I don’t necessarily look for a picture in the blog header, or a particular font style to see if it matches my personality. I look for a lot of fundamental things, and look into how I can build it to suit me. And also, I always… always go for a 2-column theme. Because 1 column is too little, 3 columns are too much!

I chose “Adelle” because it was a 2-column theme, and because it had simple straight clean lines that gave a neat look. And also because it had a very mild shade of pink – in the header, in the fonts, and kind of everywhere – but that’s the thing.. you’ll never notice it unless you look for it. This shade of pink, I felt, represents me – it describes my femininity, while at the same time, conveys the fact that I am not just a woman – but a stronger person. The theme itself is rather simple, and I’ve had to tweak it a bit to get the right effect, but still it was very tweakable, and that made my job doubly easy! πŸ™‚

So this challenge definitely made me uneasy. Mostly because WordPress doesn’t have a “Preview” feature, where you can see how your blog looks like in that particular theme, and then accept it or reject it. You will have to actually activate the theme for your blog, and then if you don’t like it, you have to reactivate the original theme, and customise it from scratch.

But I braved it! One of the life lessons I’m learning of late is that I can never just be in my comfort zone. That is not how life works. You have to try out new things, take some risks, see what life pops at you. Anyway, after all that unnecessary philosophical connotations, I got back to the simple task of choosing a different theme for my blog. I followed Blogging 101’s tips, and tried one that I liked, and at least two that I wasn’t really drawn to.

This one I liked immediately, because of it’s simple and colorful look. But then I realised that it is very similar to my current theme, but it just wasn’t the right fit. When you know, you know!

liked

This one is all black! I like black as a color – but I hate white text on a black background. Nevertheless, I tried this one anyway, just to see of it might change my mind. But nope.. if this is how my blog looks, I won’t read it myself!

black

Lastly, I wanted to REALLY get out of my comfort zone; so I tried one with multiple columns. Gahhhh! Worst.idea.ever!

columns

Anyway, after these experiments, I looked at other blog themes, but nothing really caught my eye. And then I realised that 99% of the time, blog themes need to be customised in order to really speak to us. The WordPress themes are generic, and hope to appeal to multitudes of people. They’re a lot like life.. you come across lots of people or situations that are bad, or just okay. But you go through them and customise your attitude towards each person or situation – in such a way that it favours you! πŸ™‚

So I went back to my current Adelle theme. It works for me because I’ve customised it to a great extent – I’ve retained the layout and the pink, but I’ve included an image in the header that represents a strong woman, and also put a glass of wine in her hand to match my blog title! πŸ˜€ I also added an image of myself with a background full of greenery, to provide that burst of freshness against the pastel shades. I even changed the font to one that I like!

So there it is.. I love my blog’s title and tagline, and I love my theme. They’re perfect as they are, at least for now! The future may bring winds of change, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! πŸ™‚

Until the next challenge,

Love,

Writer on the rocks.

For my daughter.. 20 years hence..

Today, we’re on to Blogging 101’s fourth challenge – to write a post for your dream reader (that one person whom you secretly wish reads your blog and appreciates it). 4 days into the challenge – and I’m alreadyΒ feeling challenged! I thought this one out for a long time.. so long that I panicked that I won’t end up having time to actually write the post. I thought of a lot of people for whom I wanted to write this post – but I had a little to say to each of them, but not very much to any one person in particular.

Like I said before, I am not a big sucker for being an “open” person. I find it difficult to wear my heart on sleeve. So writing a post for my daughter here on a public forum is going to be a wholly new experience for me! πŸ™‚

So to begin with, my daughter doesn’t exist.. yet. I am hoping that someday in the future when I have a child, it will be a girl. I fully intend naming her Ishaanvi. Also, please note that I’m assuming that she will take after me, and not her dad so much. Because, let’s face it.. I want her to write; I want to read her blog one day! πŸ™‚ So, this post may be a little subjective, since I’m assuming she will be a lot like me.

This is not going to be a letter to her, because then that would mean she HAS to read it. I want her to come across my blog accidentally, and read, and be inspired, and realise that I’m the coolest mother on the planet! πŸ˜› No, this post is going to be a page in the journal of her 25 year old mother.

18 de Septiembre de 2014

Today was a fantabulous day! πŸ˜€ Mainly because.. a good friend of mine actually mentioned me in the acknowledgement section of his Ph.D thesis, as having helped him from afar, and indirectly. Very few things in life remind us that we actually live, and don’t just exist. Making an impact on someone without even realising it is one such thing. He made my day! πŸ™‚

Among the more brilliant highlights of my life right now, came a profound realisation that at heart, I am a deeply spiritual person. I woke up one day and suddenly realised that I’m getting a lot from life, but I’m not giving anything back.I felt mortified, and cheap, and disgusted. Maybe I’m becoming old, but this is a point of no return. I can’t go back to not doing anything for the world, for life. And so after much intent introspection, I decided that the one cause I’m passionate about is female education. So I now donate a small amount every month to the CRY foundation.

Also, on a related tangent, I am in love with Dr. Gregory House.. I’ve already been in love with Dr. Meredith Grey for a couple of years now. Watching 2 hours of medical dramas a day can have some serious psychological impact on you. Which is probably what made me pledge my organs for donation after death, myopic eyesight notwithstanding.

I also blog regularly now.. almost one post every day, thanks to this new course cum challenge I discovered – Blogging 101. I get this insane surge of endorphins when I put pen on paper, or in this case, fingers on keyboard. I am going off on a tangent here again – these endorphins make me wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life?

I am happiest when I write – so why am I not writing more?

I am even happier when I am learning a language – so why I am not doing that?

My life’s ambition is to get locked up in a library, and survive on a diet of books – Β then what in the world am I doing in a small suburb called Madipakkam in India, trying to write this post, while at the same time, trying to figure out how to make a tomato sabzi in the back of my head?

Society? Peer pressure? Too many nay-sayers? People who try and dictate that I should live my life within the confines of a social norm? No, I am one of those lucky modern 21st century women, who is highly independent and a bit of feminist – qualities that go really well together. Β I have the power to act. The question now is why am I NOT acting the way I want.

25 is not too late.. for change! One day, maybe a few years down the line, I want to look back on this moment as my moment of epiphany! Now that I’ve realised what I want to do, I never want to look back and realise that I’ve made the exact same mistake all over again!

One of the most inspirational quotes I came across recently:

10635924_10152401747866523_5264847437536639081_n

To a new tomorrow,

With love,

Writer on the rocks

Hola Neighbour! How are ya? :)

So today is Blogging 101’s third challenge – follow 5 topics in Reader, and follow 5 fellow bloggers!

I had a really great time today, looking for topics that I love reading about, and also skimming through many blogs, some of which engaged me so much that I rather forgot that I am supposed to stop reading that one at least temporarily, so that I can also look for other such blogs!

You’d think this is a fairly simple task, since there is so much variety and choice! But what I realized today is – every single blog and/or blogger has something unique to offer. With every blog that I came across today, I could think of a 100 reasons to follow, but not a single reason to NOT follow. I was spoilt for choice; however, the challenge gives a number for a reason, and I say out of experience that an inundated Reader will only make you lose interest in reading. It is much better to follow and read 5 blogs regularly, than follow 20 but not find time to read any of them.

Therefore, I followed these 5 blogs today:

1.Harsh Reality:

http://aopinionatedman.com/

Because this opinionated man has a lot of opinions that are very similar to mine. Because he writes about issues that one has to identify with, to understand them. And he makes us identify with them. I am proud of being the 44,747th person to follow this guy! πŸ™‚

2. Call me mom:

http://dotmom61.wordpress.com/

Because she writes a lot of impromptu stuff, and also because she is like me – trying to find herself in the middle of many things, and in her case, parenting.

3. House and Home:

http://littlebitsofgranola.com/blog/

Because she writes about managing our home effectively and other useful life-hack tips, that a 20-something married career woman who calls herself an awesome multitask-er, but really isn’t, like me, desperately needs! πŸ˜›

4. Oh The Places you’ll go:

http://daniellewong09.wordpress.com/

Because I started reading her blog and couldn’t stop. Oh! and because she lives in Spain! πŸ˜€

5. Learning to thrive in 1455:

http://thrivein1455.wordpress.com/

Because one quick skim of her blog, and I immediately identified myself with her. Because she seems a lot like me! πŸ™‚

Well, I guess that tells us that I like reading blogs written by women, and people whom I identify with, on a personal level.

Next, the 5 topics I followed today – I didn’t actually think too much for this; I opened the “Explore” option in Reader, did a quick scan, took a minute to think about which topics I am passionate about, and have long nurtured a passive interest in. And then I followed the below 5:

1. Books

2. Culture.

3. Religion

4. Spirituality

5. History.

I also searched in vain for tags called “Language” and “Mythology”, but drew a blank. The topics are self-explanatory, and say a lot about me, I suppose! πŸ™‚ Blogging involves a lot of “opening up” about yourself. I am not someone who wears my heart on sleeve, but I am learning to, day by day!

Until tomorrow,

Love,

Writer on the rocks.

Writer on the rocks – My weekly glass of Vodka

Blogging 101’s second challenge – is to change our blog’s title and tagline, or stick to the existing one and explain why it is awesome!

My blog’s title “Writer on the rocks” doesn’t have any profound meaning, but I love it all the same. πŸ™‚ I basically wanted something really funky – and didn’t think too much before coming up with one. My title and tagline can be summed up in a few thoughts:

I wanted to stay away from all the usual cliched synonyms of communicating – ranting, rambling, thoughts, voices and the like. I just wanted to write – so the title communicates that I consider myself a writer.

Also, I started this blog just a few weeks before I turned 25, when I was going through a quarter-life crisis. Amidst feeling ancient, stuck in a rut, and realising just how much time I’ve wasted in life, I wanted my blog’s title to reflect my newfound inspiration to live life to the fullest, and also wanted something to indicate just how “young” I was feeling! Hence, the reference to a Martini πŸ˜›

An alcoholic drink may or may not convey those meanings for everyone, but most women in India don’t drink – alcohol practically represnts the word “forbidden” in our dictionary. Hence, a reference to a glass of martini is my way of saying that I’m yearning for some freedom to shape my life the way I want. Yeah, turning 25 can do that to you! 😦

I think I kind of hit the jackpot with this title, because “Writer on the rocks” has a really nice ring to it. Literally, it conveys pretty much nothing, but figuratively, it conveys a lot about me, I think. πŸ™‚

And my blog’s tag line doesn’t exactly mean anything either – I added the tagline as “My weekly glass of Vodka”, because 1. I was planning to write at least, and approximately one post a week, and 2. I wanted to retain a reference to “On the rocks”, so that the title and tagline seem connected to each other.

And there you go, my blog is titled “Writer on the rocks – My weekly glass of Vodka”. I don’t intend changing it anytime soon! πŸ˜€

Until tomorrow,
Love,
Writer on the rocks.

Who am I? And why am I here?

I know that the title sounds all metaphysical, as if I am suddenly introspecting and asking deep questions about life. How I wish! As it turns out, there is nothing metaphysical about all this. I finally decided that I want to do something meaningful in life (meaningful here refers to “doing something I want”) – like continuing to learn Spanish, becoming a better cook, travelling the world, zumba-ing my way to fitness etc.

One of the things in this list is “Becoming a better and more active blogger”. I’ve been a sporadic blogger for a long time now, and chalk up my laziness to “writer’s block” far too frequently for my own good. So I decided that one of the first things that I want to do as part of revamping my life is to become a better blogger. After all, nothing like acting on your passions to make life a hundred times more joyful.

I’ve previously tried setting a goal for myself – “to blog at least one post a week”. It didn’t work. There was no accountability to anyone, and it was only too easy to convince myself that I have other important things to do, or that I really have nothing to write. I recently came across Blogging101 and Writing101 – free courses that give us bite sized challenges and help us slowly develop our skills and build a good blog. I signed up immedately, and the challenge starts today! πŸ˜€

So the first challenge is to introduce ourselves to the blogging community.. and here I go! πŸ™‚

I am Iyshwarya, from Palakkad, India. I don many hats – Corporate woman in one of the best consulting firms in the world, married to the love of my life for the past 3 years (and still going strong!), a traditional 20-something from an orthodox Brahmin family, vodka-lover, coffee-hater, writer, blogger, avid reader of books, passionate learner of languages, love anything to do with history and mythology and Oh! I’m looking to make a mark in this world.

I’m sorry that sounded more like a Twitter bio than a formal introduction, but that is me in a nutshell. Out of the many hats I don, I’m most proud of my ability to write. Not to boast, but since this post is all about my foray into blogging, I’m going to take some liberties. πŸ™‚

I have been a voracious reader since a very young age – I get engrossed in a simple pamphlet or basically any written page that I can lay hands on, and promptly become oblivious to everything around me. Maybe because of that, or maybe because of my innate affinity towards languages, I’ve developed a good grasp of the English language over the years.

As I grew older, I continued to be fascinated by the written word – and hoped to write like that myself one day. I then took up a Journalism course in Undergraduation, and learned a lot about newspaper and magazine writing. It was around this time that I started my very first blog – and filled it with day-to-day stuff that I came across, ranted, rambled and so on, growing as a writer with each post.

I blogged on an off over the past 7 years, served as a part of my department editorial teams in college, and generally kept in touch with writing over the years, until now, at 25, I had an epiphany that writing is something that I want to do seriously.. like maybe “write a book someday” seriously!

And thus my new and current blog was born – I am a sucker for new leaves, fresh turns and perfectionism. I now attempt to write seriously with every post.. I even tried my hand at fiction once. My blog doesn’t have a specific theme or a purpose. I aim to write anything and everything that comes to my mind. My focus is more on the writing itself, rather than the subject. When I write a post, I want to research it well, write it cohesively, improve my language skills, convey more in fewer words, and so on.

I would also like to write on a variety of topics to experiment and find out what kind of topics I’m most comfortable with. And of course, who wouldn’t say no to a bit of popularity? I would definitely like my blog to become interesting and famous! πŸ˜›

And last but never the least (my aim is also to avoid using such cliches :P), I have made a lot of good friends through my blog over the years. I am really looking forward to making a lot of friends through Blogging101, as fellow writers are the best critics, and one of the best things in life is to have people that you can share your passion with! πŸ™‚

Until we meet again,
Love,
Writerontherocks.