As I lay down after giving my pups their morning meal and taking all six of them for their nature’s call, I sat on my bed with a cup of Tulsi organic green tea, in complete silence while I reflected upon life.
My career began in 2010, and I mark ten years out of college on June 7th this year. I thought back on all that I have done in these ten years, and I suddenly realised I have actually done so much, or rather so much has happened to me.
So many decisions were made, without blinking an eye, fearless and quick without prolonging.
As a performer / entrepreneur I think its a great idea to keep a diary of life where one can note down bullet points of all that we have done each year. With so much travel and activity, I feel like I have forgotten half of whatever I had done in the last decade and it all seemed like a blur.
Until I sat to remind myself.
One thing that struck me the most today was how the times I got up and took a decision, I felt absolutely fearless and confident in my decisions. I don’t think I’m so confident with my decisions at all times in general. So what made me so courageous and confident in those moments?
How did I get all that courage to take a decision at those times, tell myself this is what it is and go ahead with it without even wondering what if my decisions are wrong?
And guess what, I don’t think any decision has been wrong so far. The only times I have felt I was being wrong was the times I was being indecisive.
Here is a little letter to courage, for standing up for me at all the times it did, for I myself didn’t know I had that in me.
Thank you for being there. I know I wouldn’t have been able to stand up and take all those decisions in my life, from quitting my corporate job, to deciding how I wanted my lifestyle to look like, from hustling every single day to advance in the performing arts which is a mammoth task anywhere in the world. Despite the arts which is unpredictable in its outcome, you stood by me, helped me take the plunge so many times, whether it was for auditioning for a TV show where I was blessed to be selected, or to conduct dance productions, to moving houses and moving cities, making Youtube videos without fear of being ridiculed or being judged. I know you live inside me, and are strong like the strongest support I have, and I know that courage lives inside each of you, waiting to be heard so that it can be given a chance. The courage inside you just wants a chance to be heard. Just like the courage inside me wanted to be heard, and helped me shine during those glimpses where I allowed it to. Dear Courage, Thank you for being there for me.
Priya, the tiny curly haired girl with big dreams.
The last two weeks have been nothing short of chaos and distractions. I live in the state of Gujarat, India and the heat unbearable around May. Me and my family have been looking after six Indie puppies, and I had to constantly bring them to my room during afternoons to save them from the heat. Plus they are in their adolescent phase right now, so its a challenge to keep up with the energies of six cranky, energetic puppies going mad inside the house. Plus living with family has its own quirks, especially during lockdown and I have been doing much more housework in the last three months than in the last many years.
Anyway, for me I just felt like I had finally got myself back into an absolutely powerful routine, where I was documenting my Bharatanatyam and dance practice, my yoga routine, and also lifting weights daily, apart from meditating and getting good sleep.
And then all of it went for a toss. Plus I was just stressed, not feeling great about anything. But still doing everything to keep up with all that.
I had made a set of goals for four weeks two weeks ago about my work, dance and business. And needless to say, the last two weeks went in a complete blur.
And out of the goals (that I thought were realistic) that I set for myself for these two weeks, I did ZERO.
I woke up today feeling absolutely terrible about myself. My inner critic was whispering to me, “Wow, you couldn’t even START your four week goal list, leave alone leaving it half way. So much for believing in yourself. Can you even be trusted?” and other such really harsh words.
I practically had to remind myself, that it’s OKAY.
I mean, I have no other choice right. Beating myself up just makes it worse. And it’s not like I sat around eating pizza, watching Netflix all day long.
Anyway, the weather thankfully is great today, looks like it is going to rain. So pups will be less cranky and they can be in their kennel during the afternoon, so one day to me where I can reset my goals and figure how to resume from where I had left off.
This exact feeling I’m feeling right now was that of not being able to trust myself to do the tasks I had set out doing.
Such an important word right. Trust is everything.
And there is nothing worse than seeing the foundation of trust get shaken up.
Especially if it is towards yourself.
But they say nothing is permanent right.
Not even losing trust on oneself.
I wanted to remind myself that just because I wasn’t able to do tasks that I planned out did not mean this was game over. I still have the chance to get back, redeem myself and gain back the trust in myself.
I was trying to articulate in my head what trust in myself really meant. Quite simply put, if I said I would do something, and if I did it time and again, I know that I would be able to trust myself.
That is the only way that one builds credibility with oneself.
Restarting my goal list for the four weeks, starting today.
On the bright side, a good thing about last week was I started icing my face every morning all week and I’m already seeing amazing results. I’m mind boggled how effective icing your face in the morning is for your skin. I’m LOVING it !!!
I hope you are having a great day. And if you aren’t, just remember, you can always start today and it will all be okay.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. They all seem to have an independent mindset, the need to not run the rat race and do more with their life.
We call ourselves the bohemian family, because our outlook on life doesn’t fit the conventional norms. My mother has had a lot of genius ideas in her life, and I look forward to executing these ideas so that we can see these ideas grow together.
My lifestyle has turned completely in the last decade. The few things that remained constant are my workouts, my nutritious foods I make for myself and dancing.
Apart from that I’ve incorporated so many wonderful things in my life right now that I’m so grateful for.
I started meditating : I started meditating in 2016 and have not stopped since. And I’m so glad I started.
I reduced my spending habits, and started saving : Bangalore had me have crazy spending habits, with wasting money in pubs as well as clothes. I didn’t really drink as such, but ate shitty pub/restaurant food to fit in with my friends. I didn’t feel as good eating those, and I spent way beyond my means. Ladies, if I can tell you ONE thing that would be to save. Save and invest. And always think of avenues to make money. Financial independence is the number one game for women. And men. Start now. Learn about money. I still am. But step by step.
I read books and listen to podcasts : I’m all about learning and growing now. And books are the best way to do that. A book I recommend I’m currently reading right now is Tony Robbins’ “Money, Master the game”. Also Tony Robbins on Spotify.
I started saying no to people/ friends who were toxic for me : A big one, but has been life changing cutting off anyone who was bringing my spirit down, and being discouraging of who I was and my dreams. Life is too short to keep toxic people around. And only bring in those that bring joy to your life. Like Marie Kondo says “Keep only those things that bring joy to your life.”
I started a gratitude journal : Because the positives in your life outweigh the negatives by a gigantic amount. And you need a reminder every single day.
What are the new lifestyle habits you have incorporated in your life in the last decade?
Being self employed is all levels of challenges that a person faces, and is very different to the lifestyle of someone who is a salaried employee.
I am not saying being an entrepreneur is better or worse, because when I list out the pros and cons they both offer a lot of interesting insights. So no clear winner here for sure. I guess it just depends on an individual and what is enjoyable for them.
Being an entrepreneur, a self employed individual requires a lot of networking capabilities, the drive to drag yourself out of bed every single day to work towards a vision you create for yourself, that others around you may or may not understand at times.
And it all starts with habits.
Habit to reach out to people on a regular basis, habit to get up and give yourself a stipulated time to work, habit to get your workout squeezed in on a daily basis.
Just like any other person, I’m on this quest to get certain habits into my life incorporated so that I can work better, be more efficient and get more work done in a day without putting in more effort, and effectively be more successful depending on how I define my own success.
A few habits I am trying to incorporate into my life right now :
Practicing sessions of Bharatanatyam and Choreography creating every single day – I admit I’m more sporadic in these, and work in bursts due to shows. I want to change that and work on a daily basis.
Emailing and reaching out to new people every single day – Emailing clients, sharing our company work with them, reaching out to mentors for advice on my career and my future prospects, calling that audition for that TV show I’ve been putting off for a while because “I’m not ready yet” excuse.
Waking up at 5am
Challenging myself every single day and believing I am so much more than what I am currently doing – This means not putting off the big things for something mundane.
I started applying this new concept in my life recently. It is called Minimum Enjoyable Action (MEA). MEA is a very clever tool for people who have the habit of procrastinating their important tasks of the day. The idea is to figure out your MEA for each of your important tasks you want to focus on each day. The MEA of your task should be such that at least you do that bit that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. Slowly and steadily, you will start doing more of it.
The same principle applies to flossing. They say if you keep a goal of flossing all your teeth you are bound to miss it. But if you floss just one tooth a day, you would probably end up flossing all your teeth anyway.
Applying this logic to my habits that I’m trying to incorporate right now would look like this.
Daily Bharatanatyam and Choreo Sessions : MEA – 5 minutes of Bharatanatyam on any music, and 5 minutes of song choreography and ideas.
Networking Daily via Emails and Phone Calls : MEA – Sit on laptop and find email addresses for networking for 5 minutes.
Waking up at 5am : MEA – Keep an alarm at 5am whether you get up or not doesn’t matter. Put your favourite song ‘Here comes the sun’ as the alarm.
Challenging myself every single day and believing I am so much more than what I am currently doing : MEA – Sit for 5 minutes and think of one small thing you can do each day that challenges yourself.
If you had to choose your MEAs, what would they be?
I have had a hectic but brilliant start to 2020. January started with me being in Goa for about ten days, followed by shows in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Vellore and rehearsals in Bangalore and Trivandrum.
I also happened to attend two weddings, one in Hyderabad and the other in Jaipur. So needless to say, there has been a lot of travel and lot of flights that I took the first two months.
Not environmentally friendly travelling by air, but I had to pick my battles and I decided that I will switch to being a vegetarian and a very lenient vegan. Having said that I still ended up eating meat on one or two days in the beginning of 2020, and that happened mainly because there was no vegetarian food around.
Someone told me that is called being a ‘flexitarian’ and apparently that is a real thing in the UK. Being flexitarian essentially means you try and practice vegetarianism and veganism as much as you can, but on days where there is no availability or you are under circumstances where you have no choice but to eat meat, you eat it in very small quantities.
Anyway, so the first two months for me has been a lot of travel, be on stage a lot with a LOT of dancing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.
I got back home to Gandhinagar, Gujarat end of February. We have an Indie dog in our house named Rachel who had given birth to six adorable puppies on December 13th, 2019. I got back and started looking after them.
And looking after six teething puppies while training them to learn basic commands like “Sit” and “Poop” is not all that easy, but it is absolutely fulfilling. In the process of taking them for their morning and evening play-time I have ended up being in nature more than I would.
As much as I love the IDEA of nature, I feel like I don’t spend enough time in nature. And I feel the immediate difference once I started spending enough time in nature.
This is backed up by the two audiobooks I listened to recently.
One is the 3 Day Effect narrated by Florence Williams and the other is Habits for Happiness by Dr. Tim Sharp.
There were a two points of narration that struck me most about these two books that I’m going to list down below.
“Being in nature increases creativity” : This hit me like a lightbulb. Ideas may not strike sitting with a book and a pen, and putting a timer, expecting you to come up with genius in that sort of corporate/examination work pressure. It happens around nature, while taking a pleasant walk and enjoying the plants and sunshine around you.
“Face your fears” : This hit me hard. On all different levels. Has it ever happened with you that you genuinely wanted to do one thing, but the mind either finds it so unachievable so you think of easier alternatives. But then deep down you believe you are meant for that big thing. Whether you get the big things in life is irrespective, but whether you want to work towards aiming for the bigger thing is the real question. Are you willing to put fear aside and work for the bigger thing? I have built a lot of fears in the past few years and it is holding me back. But not anymore. I want to get rid of all the fears, one by one. Because as the Bollywood actor of romance Shah Rukh Khan says it in the most filmy way “Dar ke aage jeet hai”. More about facing fears in the next blog.
“Expressive Writing” : One of the main reasons of me writing this post today. They say that when you articulate your thoughts on paper, or on a laptop, the mind gets decluttered, and we get clarity of thought and decision. I then reflected upon how much I loved blogging earlier, and used to blog almost 5 times a week in my older blog (http://priyakumarnitb.blogspot.com/). It seems to have got lost in the process of “creating content FOR PEOPLE”. And somehow it did not help me, nor did I create content ‘for people’. I want to revive my love for blogging again, without the pressure of creating content that specifically helps people. If my thoughts inadvertently help people, then these ramblings on a blog page would be more than ramblings. If not, even then it could help me document my thoughts on a regular basis. So this is a win-win.
Happy Sunday everyone. I am sipping on some diluted Black coffee, fresh out of a decoction machine from Bangalore after a good half an hour yoga session following the instructions of Boho Beautiful (check her out on Youtube.)
To work towards achieving goals is a very natural trait that comes to me more often than not.
When I put down a goal on paper (or blog about it), I find myself having a greater drive to go achieve it.
I’m listing down a list of goals I want to achieve in my life next (more will get added as these keep getting completed):
Create a series of Dance online curriculums on one of the educational platforms and get 1,00,000 people to subscribe and use it in its lifetime. Deadline – 1 year from now to make the curriculums.
Create a solo dance production, by using unique stage set design ideas, lighting ideas , costume ideas and an amazing script and weave that into a fabulous performance that moves my audience every time I perform it. Deadline – 1 year from now.
Start waking up at 5am. Everyday. Make that a habit. Deadline – Set up the habit within a week from now.
Self care daily. Make time to either put a homemade face pack, oil your hair, or exfoliate your body with coffee scrub. Deadline – Start from today.
Get a perfect handstand. Deadline – To be able to balance without a wall by the end of 2019.
Travel to 10 countries to perform in the next one year. Deadline – TBD.
To make one dance video every week for my youtube channel, to keep the practice of being in front of the camera alive on a regular basis. Deadline – I’m nervous about saying this but starting this week onwards.
Wish me luck. And I’ll blog about this as often as I can . Updates. Good, bad and the ugly.
I’m experiencing changes in my inner spirit. I’m sure we are in an ever changing state called life, but I have noticed the changes becoming more stark in the last few years.
I don’t know if age does that to you, or just knowledge.
You may or may not agree with certain thoughts, but this is a candid blog post where I share my personal opinion.
I made two big changes a few years ago.
I started reading and started travelling.
Two best changes in my life.
A few years ago I started reading a lot of books. I was never a regular reader before, forget a voracious one. This is an interest that developed over the last few years somehow.
I think reading is a double edged sword. It makes you wiser, smarter, develop more insights about the word, give you an opportunity to dive into the world of knowledge that this universe carries. The more you read, the more you realise how less you know.
But that also makes you question the things you had been doing so far, and wonder if half of them feel silly now in hindsight. Or if you feel like you are growing out of it.
Same goes with travel. I am just blessed with getting opportunities to get out and travel. All the situations conspired for me to travel so much and I’m so grateful I got an opportunity to savour each of those travel escapades.
I got opportunities to travel abroad, to some stunning places in the world along with solo trips to unbelievable places in India.
Travel taught me how beautiful this world is, and how VAST this world is.
But it also taught me that humans are similar. They have the same heart that pumps the same kind of blood, we all have the same emotions.
Anyway, for those following my journey so far, I became a professional dancer a few years ago and started a Youtube channel.
I used to make a lot of Bollywood videos at that time. And I actually enjoyed Bollywood music and dancing to it when I was 23.
I realise I don’t enjoy the latest Bollywood music much anymore. I don’t know why that is, but I’m not able to feel fascinated by Bollywood music like I did when I was 23. I believe it has a lot to do with having exposed myself to art from across the world, right from the beautiful performances in Paris to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I felt like I belonged there. And it felt like I had so much to learn.
A big part of my soul just felt like it hydrated itself after feeling thirsty for the longest time.
Its funny but I remember every moment of those performances, those holidays so vividly. My soul just spoke to me and said “I feel like I’m at home finally”.
I find myself not being able to teach dance on the music that I have stopped enjoying. The whole process is just difficult and cumbersome to my spirit. I love folk music, independent artists across India and the world. I love all of those, but I find myself fighting the process of trying to choreograph on a mainstream latest Bollywood music. (I still enjoy songs from before, but have not found the inspiration recently)
I believe that people want art that is created out of the need for creation. And that there is a niche audience for all kinds of art in this country.
I also know that popularity in this country wants more Bollywood dance covers. More dance covers on the latest songs within a week of the song release and ace the Youtube numbers game.
I’m sure you know how it all works. And there is nothing wrong with it, nor do I judge anyone gaming the system (in fact I applaud them, if they have the drive and motivation to push themselves to keep making dance videos after dance videos and still keep the motivation whether they enjoy the music or not.
I have personally started finding it really cumbersome to play the social media race game, I believe art is to be created out of real creativity in the mind, but when there is the pressure for it to become a mass production to please audience, some folks can do that really well, but some buckle under pressure and start stifling their creativity.
I’m the second kind.
I’m not saying I will never dance to Bollywood music, but I want to let it flow organically.
I enjoyed doing certain things creatively at 23, but to expect the same from myself when I turned 32 two weeks ago would just mean we are looking at stagnation. And stagnation has proven never to be good for anything.
Oh yes, on that note, I turned 32.
I can’t believe it too.
I am blessed with pretty good genes I’d think, and I follow a great diet and regular exercise plus I smile and laugh a lot, and I’m petite in my frame so I don’t really look my age.
But one thing I have learned with age and about India.
That age shaming in India is REAL.
I find it hilarious because I am considered young every time I get out of India, and 32 is considered still in your prime of your career, whereas in India 32 is considered ancient.
I find it hilarious because I wonder if this conditioning is what causes a lot of our late 20 somethings and early 30 somethings to stop enjoying life, stop dressing up and working out just BECAUSE they are OLD according to Indian standards.
Gujarat has been the best example for me. The number of times I’ve been asked whether I’m still pursuing my studies or got asked what college I am in right now, and the mistake I make of telling them my real age is the biggest sitcom like experience. Once they realise how old I am I am told things like how I should have been having a husband and a kid by now that also goes to school. I’m sure I’m going to ask someday whether the government scheme that is giving away rewards for “Who produces the child first gets the best prize?”. I believe motherhood is a personal journey. I could have been 18 and had a child, or I could be 37 and have a child. This bias of one is right and the other is wrong is beyond my comprehension.
There are obviously a lot of evolved souls around who understand that a life different from theirs is not necessarily a bad life.
This city might not have seen many 30 something year olds wandering about independently , so I don’t blame them as well.
At the end we can always lead by example, and show them there are different ways of leading the world.
On that note, I can see that it is raining outside and I’ll finish my warm cup of green tea.
Also, on a separate note, I have been consuming a plant rich diet in the last one week and my energy levels have spiked. What that taught me was whatever diet you follow (vegetarian, non vegetarian, vegan etc), if one can include a lot vegetables and lentils in their daily diet they can see muscle recovery and increased endurance. More about this in another separate post.
Ever felt like you look back into your past and wonder “But I think I knew what I was doing back then and I’ve suddenly forgotten what I am doing now”.
For the past many months I have been pondering upon this subject. I feel like I have reached a point where I have forgotten a little bit why I am doing what I am doing. It’s not like I don’t love the things when I do it, it’s just the feeling of “okay but what is the purpose of all this. Is this even making a difference after all?”.
Its ironic that I switched my career in my 20s, from finishing with an engineering degree to working in an analytics company for eight months before deciding to switch to dancing full time. If you asked me then whether I knew what I was upto, the truthful answer was, no. No, I did NOT have any idea of where I was going with this, but it just felt so right at that time I went ahead with it.
And there were indeed a few things I learnt about myself in the last eight years in this journey that I would call Self Discovery. (more about self discovery and identifying what my purpose in life is continued in part 2 of this blog later)
Nothing gives me greater joy than being in a dance class. Of all the moments that I look back in the past, the ones that stand out as proud memories and almost achievements for me are the classes I attended and learned, and the classes I went to and taught. I have NEVER NOT enjoyed a class honestly. So that I know was an achievement as a part of my self discovery. This includes classes where I have come out exhausted, and sometimes not having given my best performance (and some really sub par performance practices too). I would procrastinate sometimes before going to a class or conducting one I’d admit, but the second I can push myself to attend one, I come out happy and satisfied. Always.
I love health and wellness. Everything about it. Yoga, pilates, nutrition, food. I was 12 when I got my hands on the first book about “Foods for good health” that my mom had purchased from a second hand clearance book sale for herself. And thanks to her, I also got my hands on my first book of yoga by Dr. Phulgendra Sinha. There was a reason I gravitated to reading about health , fitness, wellness and nutrition. Kids pick their choice of reading, and non fiction attracted me more. And that stays even today. There was a point where I had started thinking if I try and stay healthy and look good only for Instagram or social media or because my job demands so. But then I realised that on a daily basis, I do all the things to strive to be healthy even if no one knows about it. Even if it is me on my yoga mat all alone, where no one in this world at that point would even know if I am actually working towards something or just sitting aimlessly waiting for something to happen. I work towards knowing how to be mentally, spiritually , physically healthy.
Having an environment where I can nurtureand be nurtured gives me great joy. Nothing more precious than coming back home to people you love, your pets, your kids. Especially if your personality is the nurturing kind. I believe I have a very strong nurturing aspect to my being. Be it cooking for someone, or playing with my pets or even rescuing dogs and cats on the road, or even putting makeup on my mom. For women (and men) that have this extremely strong nurturing aspect to them should always look for ways to create an environment that lets them do just that.
Financial stability is important to me indeed, but not at the cost of doing something that is just not “me” . This career just like any career in the arts always comes with its “trends”. During some phases you get ten event calls each day and you reject eight of them and pick your two favourite, but some phases of time you sit back wondering with crippling self doubt if you are even good enough and where is it that you are going so wrong that you are not getting the events that you want or need. I’ve been on both sides of the extremes, phases where I’m close to burnt out with work and phases where I’m depleted of work, and what I’ve learnt is that its all temporary. Both success and failure. But since humans come with a negative bias mindset, we just focus on the negative. And what I’ve come to a realisation is that I might not actually be able to enjoy my art till I have a solid plan of my finances. And no, I still need not take a job I absolutely do not like to make that happen, and neither do you. I’m sure in this world of growing economy there is just enough and more places for each of us to make our mark and figure out finances. The secret to this is Multiple sources of income. So if you are into events, multiple sources can be teaching, online courses, maybe tapping into writing as a part of your subject, video content making and so on.
I love movement. Skating, playing basketball, doing yoga, taking a walk, dancing, running, anything that makes my body move I feel like I’m being true to my real sense of self.
More about purpose in life and self discovery continued in the next blog post.
‘ What do I want from life?’ is a question I have asked myself this question for a very long time now.
And to find out answers I went back to my old blog I maintained from 2008 – 2014. Just to see what it was that I seemed to want from life back then. Link below for those who want to dig into the younger me. (I’m amazed at all the vulnerability I let myself pour into blogs when I was younger, I’m so much more guarded about things I let out in public now)
How did I forget how amazing it was to maintain a regular blog and talk about your life and your priorities on a regular basis so that you could go back to it and look at how far you have come?
A few things on my ‘Wish list’ from all the way back to 2010 (9 years or more) and more were :
To get the split (wrote this in 2012) – Never realised but I managed to get not just the right side split but also the left split pretty easily. Felt like time did half the work and I was just half as consistent (had I been totally disciplined I might have achieved that even before)
Get a dance troupe and perform in National and International shows – I wrote this down in 2012, and it just so happened that I managed to get some fabulous dancers through my journey in Piah Dance Company and performed in a lot of shows across India. Also, working with Daksha Sheth Dance Company gave me some opportunities in the UK and France and I’m so grateful for the same. Also, how can I forget my stint at National TV with Zee Dance India Dance ? Never knew that could happen back in 2012. But it did. So thank you stars. Its been great so far. And I’m filled with gratitude.
“Can I leave my job and become a danseuse” (September 2009) – I asked myself this over a blog in 2009 when I watched Rama Vaidyanathan’s performance. This was still while I was in college, and eventually I did work in a company for eight months and then did quit my job and become a danseuse. Funny how life seems to listen to what your mind wants, right.
And that brings me to 2019. What do I really want from life now, at this point? What are the things that make me happy and give me a strong sense of fulfilment?
First, good health. I might be a little more biased because I’ve had this annoying cough and mild fever that has been around for more than ten days and I’m beginning to get impatient and can’t wait for this to heal soon.
More about this very soon.
Note before I end this post – I bought a bottle of Dr. Braggs apple cider vinegar to heal my cold. I did not mind the taste at all, and I’m hoping to see a difference and see my cough heal soon.