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Friday, December 24, 2010

Visit My New Home and Free eBook

This blogspot site has moved to a new home at Wordpress Site.

Please visit Happy Heart and Mind and put this on your favorite and Bookmark it for future visits.

You can come and download my free ebook at Meaningful Celebrations: Free Ebook download.

See you there!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blogging Philosphy: for Pro or newbie - Real heroes are readers

 I talked about reconnecting with our neighbors, and other people we meet everyday during, filling gas, standing in grocery lines, at post office, and so on, To see original post click here . Blogging  is also like online community that we meet on world wide web, how do we connect with them all, get to know them?

Many people blog for different reasons, for some it is connecting with far away relatives for family update, for others it is making money, or writing about subject close to their heart, place for rant, rave and other life's philosophy, some people use it as an online journal to some people write about things they want to change in their life such as debt reduction, getting fit and so on.

Whatever, your reason might be, none of us could survive without people's support, real people behind the screen. These people could be in the same city or be in different country, be it readers or blogger. Wherever your readers are, they are "REAL" people, how to be sensitive towards them?

For "Pro Bloggers": Bloggers who are very successful and blogging is their full time job.

No matter how expert or successful they may be, all of us have feelings, fears and emotions. They may not have time or chance to respond to all people who wants something from them. It is not personal, they are just bogged down and it is hard to differentiate between people who wants some piece of action/help from them to people who are true fan. Leave them comments (if they allow it), send them email or find other ways to communicate. Do not stalk, let it go, if you do not hear from them. They are very busy and can use some down time for hundreds of fan trying to get hold of them. You can still learn a lot from their writing, their tweet messages and their interview on other popular blogs.

Do not be envious, when their post gets 100's of comments such as , great post, I agree with you's, while you wrote similar post a weeks ago, which was excellent and similar by the way, got merely a few comments. The problem is not your post or your writing, problem is no one knows who you are and where you are,yet. Besides, everyone wants to hang out with popular and successful people, and while some commenter might be posting comment just to advertise others about their new blog. (I am guilty of this myself)

If you are "Pro Blogger" overwhelmed by thousands of fans, try to be grateful and be kind to those upcoming bloggers. As a expert on your field, you can educate and help wonderful causes and I see many great bloggers doing that, giving back to community. I know of a few successful bloggers mentioning new upcoming blogs on thier blog, helping newbie bloggers, I have found many gem blogs that way that I read now.

Remember good old days when you really could reply to each comments and knew your readers.  I know of some bloggers still try to response to each comments personally even when comments are in range of 80s or more. That is a dedication and weather they know it or not, I think people who read their blog sure appreciate it.

For small or Newbie bloggers:

Try not to be jealous of someone's success, while it does not seem fair, when you are working hard on your blog, not making any money or getting many comments, it is hard to measure your worth. Remember that very popular blogs that you are so envious of, were once small and newbie blogs themselves. While some may have been lucky to find success sooner than others, most of them have worked hard just like you. Key is consistency and do not give up blogging, even when there is no money, no comments; keep doing your work.  Lord Krishna (Hinduism) has said  "Keep doing your work without expecting any rewards, it will come in due course". Follow that great wisdom and you will be lot happier while climbing the success ladder no matter where it takes you.

Blogging now is lot easier compared to a few years ago, when a bloggers had to know html or other type coding to actually do blogging, so I have been told. We new bloggers have it lot easier so let's count our blessing. There are social media and other tools available for those technical savvy to help achieve success. If you are in this for get rich quick reasons, I am sure failures comes easy as there are not short cuts for making money or be successful.

I know of a few blogs that gotten so much publicity due to guest postings, twitter messages and Facebook friends connections, but that person may have worked very hard for it, you may never know. So relax, let go of any envy you may have and do blogging for yourself, for your true fans and readers and leave rest to destiny. Without hard work nothing is gained.

For commenter without blogs:

My hats off you all, as you comment for article and yourself and without ulterior motive. Some of you visit or subscribe to blogs, making them a successful. Without commenters and readers, we will not be anywhere. Thank you from bottom of my heart for taking time to comment. For many bloggers like myself is true measure of writing and self worth.

So be kind and comment often, not only on this blog but other new one, successful ones, we all need readers feedback. Sometimes simple "Thank you" is enough, other time "constrictive" criticism is welcomed, as long it is not in form of personal attack, remember we are all real people with real feelings right, just like you.

My way of connecting

I reply to my each comments and emails and I usually check out commenter's blog (if he/she has one) and comment there too.I choose not be part of any social media right now, as I do not think I can do justice to it fully with my kids, family and other responsibility. In future, if it is possible, will see. I see this is my minimalist way of online life for now.

I go to blogs that interest me, despite they are in same subject blog as me or not, I have many interests and it goes into my reading others and writing here. I comment on posts usually like and love to share my point of view. I try often post comments on new blogs more as I know some people have been kind to me when I was a brand new blogger (I still feel newbie) and I am passing the favor I got.

Web  is big place and it has a place for all of us, pro blogs, medium size blogs, small blogs, niche blogs,mishmash blogs, and parenting blogs and many more. Blog about something you are passionate about, which has value to help others at the same time, it will be sustainable and has a chance of success.

We are all real people with real emotions and we have an opportunity to connect online to friends whom in real life we could have made.  Let's connect by being our true self online and be kind to each other online too.


Monday, March 8, 2010

5 ways of overcoming your fear

My mom and my grandfather both are published authors and poets. I too write short stories, novels and poems when I am at my creative best. Although none of my fictional work has been published, and that is because of my own fear of rejection, a incident that happened to me in past.

When I was in high school, I wrote a short fictional novel on subject was close to my heart and worked hard on it to send it off to one of New York's publishing house, who were specially looking for teen's point of view stories. I waited patiently for any reply and none came. I finally took a courage to write them and ask what happened to my entry? I never got my copy back but I got short answer saying that my story style was not they were looking for that time and I should try again future.

Now, I am not saying I was great or even good writer as a high school student and nor I claim to be now. But, I know I enjoy writing my thoughts and I have vivid imagination. That rejection was so tough on me, as I had worked hard on it and it was my favorite piece of writing. I took it personally and took it hard. I still write but for my eyes only. It took me long time to share with Zenguy and few close friends what I wrote. It has been very slow change.

Thing to remember that even Jane Austen's first version of Pride and Prejudice called "First impressions" was rejected by a publisher. If she would stopped trying and writing, world would have missed some of the best and now popular story. Then again, I am no Jane!

While, I may not still be ready to publish my novel anytime soon as I am not ready for another heart break and rejection. Since then, I have written and published white papers on technical subjects and have published a few magazine articles all non-fiction, mostly at and during my corporate gig and now I am writing here on my heart and mind blog for public's eyes, on subject that is close my heart and to help my readers. My readers comments are the best yardstick for me, I can measure and improve my work!

Do you have any fears that is stopping you from living your life or living your dream? While many of us have many types of fears but if we follow a few simple steps, we can learn to conquer the fear that is stopping us to live the best life that we can live, and we got only one.

Why we need to do the hard thing? Because...
  1. Fear limits our opportunity, our living.
  2. Fear creates other fears.
  3. We do opposite things than we want because of fear
  4. We lose freedom 
  5. It is not real, but affects the real person
In most cases we fear things that are usually unknown to us, in my case, it was fear of known thing, repeating itself, a traumatic past experience. While we may have a fear of public speaking, losing loved ones, getting rejected or being laughed at, fear of being broke or not providing for kids and some fears actually motivates to do better, change our life style to improve our lives. Some fears may keep us alive from danger and it is good thing. But, fears that holds from being our best can not be good and we must change our brain thinking to slowly get over our fears that is/are holding us back by following a few simple steps.
  1. First thing to do is imagine a good future, be it approval of publisher, acceptance by loved one, keeping your job, whatever your fear might be, close your eye and imagine (really imagine) yourself in happier future.
  2. Another opposite approach is to practice crazy and silly asking game with some friend with only possible answer of "no". When you know in your heart that it is only a practice, it becomes fun exercise. If you liked this idea, can I ask you to come and fold my laundry please? :-)
  3. Get more knowledge about the subject that you are afraid of, sometimes knowing more is enough to get rid of the fear. For example, if you are afraid of dogs, knowing more about dogs and being close to friendly one helps you stay calm near a dog.
  4. Accept the inevitable. There are some things out of our hands and we have no control over it. For example, I am afraid of losing my loved ones, but there is nothing I can do to stop it. However, if I spend my happy moments with them and tell them I love them, will bring sweet memories of both of us, no matter who goes first. 
  5. Change your fear to a motivation, challenge and help others with their fear, either by sharing and working on it with someone else helps. Make it about others, for example, I know of a mom who lost her teenage daughter to a drunk drivers, is spending time educating other teens about safe driving. Her loss of daughter, fear has became a inspirational cause for her and others.
Do you have fear that is stopping you from your dream, the best you can be? I have many still and I am working on one at the small steps, would you like to join me? Do you have any other tips or suggestions that may help others? I would love to hear from you.

Now go and conquer your fears or else ..:-) I might do another post for you!!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

25 tips to make your marriage rock!

Zenguy and I are friends first and seemed to be married for zillion years or so. While we have mutual love and care for each other, we still need to work on our marriage and relationship often time. Here are a few ways, you can do that with your spouse. While this tips are for happier marriage, it can be applied to other relationships as well as such boyfriend or girl friend, a friend, parent, siblings etc.

1. Do not take each other for granted.
2. Always make time for each other, no matter how busy you think you  are.
3. Do not hide information from each other, no matter how bad it might be.
4. Respect your partner. Without respect, you can  not love anyone.
5. Say sorry when you are or might be wrong.
6. Be a good listener. Don't interrupt.
7. Do not compare your partner to someone famous or fictional. (Note to self: Zenguy is not Colin firth or Mr. Darcy!)
8. Work through your disagreements and fights. Don't ever physically abuse in anger.
9. Never go to bed angry. (This works, I know as Zenguy keeps talking till 3 am, until I can not keep my eyes open and ready to resolve the issue :-)
10. Marriage is a full time job, give 100% each, not 50-50%.
11. Never kiss and tell about your fights. Write in journal instead (for your eyes only)
12. Make each other laugh, do silly things. Laughter is best remedy for most issues.
13. Trust each other.
14. Be faithful, expect same.
15. Do something special for them, that you usually do not do. (Zenguy read a Jane Austen book for me)
16. Express your love everyday in small or big ways.
17. Kiss and show love in front of kids. It is okay and healthy (as long it is only kiss and not more.)
18. Show love in action and behavior, not just words.
19. When angry, do not say what you might regret later. If you did say it by chance, apologize as soon as you can.
20. Falling in love is easy, maintaining it hard, work at it. Remember why and how you fell in love first time.
21. Take time for yourself, love yourself first before you can give love.
22. Don't let your in-law affect how you feel about your spouse.
23. Don't let your friends in between your life.
24. Do not argue or fight in front of kids or other loved ones.
25. When going gets tough, hang in there. Give your relationship a chance or thousand chances as it is worth it.

Bonus tip just for fun: Secret to happy marriage:  be too tired to fight :-)

How do you work on your marriage or relationships? Do you have tips to share? I would love to hear from you.


Photo Source: rd.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quotes: Being happy

Here are a few of many wonderful quotes on being happy by some wise and famous people. Enjoy and be happy today!

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.  ~Jacques PrĂ©vert

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are.  ~Palmer Sondreal

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.  ~Mark Twain

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.  ~Edith Wharton

Nobody really cares if you're miserable, so you might as well be happy.  ~Cynthia Nelms

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.  ~Norm Papernick

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.  ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

What a wonderful life I've had!  I only wish I'd realized it sooner.  ~Colette

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.  ~James Openheim

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.  ~John Barrymore

It's pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness.  Poverty and wealth have both failed.  ~Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.  ~Margaret Young

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one's self?  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are seldom happy with what we now have, but would go to pieces if we lost any part of it.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

The happy have whole days,
and those they choose.
The unhappy have but hours,
and those they lose.
~Colley Cibber

You cannot always have happiness, but you can always give happiness.  ~Author Unknown

What makes you happy? Sometimes simplest things in life makes me happiest.
1. When little P and R are not sick.
2. When clothes are folded and sink is empty of dirty dishes.
3. Hot chai-tea made by Zenguy
4. Seeing smiles on my kids face
5. Watching My favorite movie or reading a book (yet again)

How about you?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Celebrating meaningful Birthdays

I am into simple and minimalist living, but it sure is a bit more complicated when you have small kids and are surrounded by many consumerist minded family and friends.  Zenguy and I have stopped making a big deal out of our birthdays since kids came along, we still celebrate our birthdays, doing things that each of us really want that, we can not simply go and buy.  For example, I like some alone time, meaning I should be able to take shower without kids knocking on door, writing, reading a book, blog or magazine while sipping hot tea, things that matter most to me. For Zenguy, his passion is nature, music and food. On his special days, either, I cook his favorite food, or sometimes we go out to eat his favorite restaurant and go to easy outdoor hiking or listen to classical music at home.

Kids birthdays are little bigger deals and celebrated with a few friends and family, R is old enough to ask for what he wants to eat, and what he wants as gifts, little P is too young, he is simply happy to be crawling around or play with empty boxes with his brother and us.

Last weekend we had a birthday celebration party for kids, as little P has turned one, and R had turned 5 a few weeks before. We asked everyone to just come, have fun and give blessings to kids, and no gifts. Zenguy and I both believe that R and P have way too many toys and do not need more stuff.  However, at the actual party, everyone came with some type of toys, clothes, and books for gifts. What else could I have done to convince everyone not to bring gifts? Or we as a society, do not know how to stop consumerism even when asked not to buy. I can understand the peer pressure to bring something and not come empty handed, even I would feel the same way many times. However, I would call the host and ask, what do they really want or need and do that and if they still insisted and I felt it was genuine, I would try to honor their wish of no gifts.

Our well meaning friends did not budge so we got so many gifts that we do not need or want. We are going to donate most of these gifts that we got and keep a couple of toys that kids might like, that is the best solution I found that keeps our friends and family happy and us happy too.

I am not against gifts or buying things we may need or want, however, I am against buying so much, more than we could ever use.  Once we went to Christmas party where a 7 year old got about 52 gifts, I saw the kid's eyes light up while opening the first gift, and the second, after the 10th, he was tired, bored and did not care for all the well meant gifts that people gave. I remember growing up with one or two toys, and they were special to me and I remember a doll that I carried everywhere. Now a days, R and P have too many toys, despite our wish to be simple, grandparents, friends and other relatives keep buying stuff for both the kids, thinking we are depriving both our kids by our minimalist approach. My mom who grew up simply, also likes to spoil kids by buying things.  There is a thin balance between your values and other people's emotions.

Some of the gifts that were given to us in past, were not needed, wanted or even useful. One of our friend knows I like cooking, so they gave set of cooking stuff, which included some egg and meat cooking utensils, which were very nice to someone who ate meat or eggs, they were utterly useless to us as life long vegetarians.

While I do not know how to stop others from giving and recycling their unwanted gifts to others; I think most of us will be lot happier if we got useful things as a gifts, such as;

  • Hand written coupon for watching kids for an hour or two
  • Cooked meal, Running an errand for them
  • Lawn mowing (when you are sick or have new baby)
  • Experience gifts such as yearly membership to favorite museum
  • Teaching something you are expert at and they want to learn/know
  • Just one-on-one time : Uninterrupted, talking and listening
  • CD compilation of favorite songs, recorded story telling for kids
  • Book or journal sharing special memory with them

How about you? What do you really want for your birthday that is meaningful and special to you? How do you celebrate? How do you deal with grandparents, relatives or close friends not honoring your wish so all of us can be happy? Finding a balance is sometime tough, but we have to keep working at it until we are living the life we want to.


Photo source: www.webweaver.nu/clipart

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to stay cool under tense situation

Life is very interesting, it keeps giving us some challenge, one after other to keep us occupy trying to resolve those challenges! Yesterday Zenguy got a ticket for using a cell phone while driving (actually sitting in traffic). A few years ago, California passed a law about using hand free cell phone only while driving. Zenguy generally uses his blue tooth, hand-free device to usually call anyone, if he needs to use a cell phone while driving. Yesterday, however he forgot his blue tooth at home, and he called home while sitting in traffic to see how is little P doing and see if he needs to come home early, as P has been sick with cold and cough and little fever for past few days. Before we could finish the talk, phone was cut off and he was getting a ticket from near by traffic police.

This was first ever cell phone use offense for Zenguy, and he explained the situation to  the traffic officer, nicely that he was sitting in traffic and not driving, he called because his infant child's health issue and his action was not putting in anyone nearby in jeopardy. No matter what he said and nicely he asked, the officer did not budge or let him go with only warning, he got full ticket with court date and all. I am appalled, angry and frustrated at the whole thing, once I found out. How come, it is not okay to use quick cell phone while sitting in traffic and it is okay to eat, drink coffee etc., put on make up, shave and much more things that I have seen some drivers do?

Sometimes, some traffic officers have quota to meet, and traffic violations are big income generator for the state government. It has been really long time since we got any ticket so this was a shocker, while this was only cell phone usage ticket issue, (and not a speeding, or missing a red light or stop sign, Zenguy is careful and law abiding driver) it can affect some insurance carrier's price and ticket fees can go up to $150-$200 with assortment of various fees. I am starting to think how in world, some one who is unemployed or poor can afford this price? This is outrageous, to get an ticket like this and first timer should be given a warning and not the actual ticket, while there are real dangerous or drunk drivers are out there on the road. It is not about the price but also principle as well.

But getting upset, will not change the outcome, so we had to think about the whole situation in calmer manner. I am not sure, but I guess we are going to have to state our case to a judge and see how it goes. Do you have suggestion or story to tell?

Here are few tips to follow, whenever you are pulled over; Even if think, you are NOT at the fault.

1. If you see a police car flashing behind your car, pull over to a safe area. If you think safe, lighted area is little further, motion the police before driving slowly further until you find safer place, but not too far.
2. Some experts suggest to turn off the car and get keys out, so the officer won't think you will start driving all of sudden.
3. Leave your hands on wheels, where it can be seen.
4. Stay in car, don't search of license and registration until you are asked to do so.
5. Answer only what you are asked and not more.
6. Do not beg but ask politely for a warning only, explain situation.
7. If the officer, still gives you ticket and you think it is unfair, do not blast off, take the ticket. You can fight it in court later, fighting with officer will make things worse.
8. Write on blog and ask others, learn from others.

This is serious stuff, so counter balance I am sharing a traffic funny story that I found on the web! Enjoy and Drive safely.

A police officer pulls a guy over for speeding and has the following exchange:
Officer: May I see your driver's license?  Driver: I don't have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI. 

Officer: May I see the owner's card for this vehicle? Driver: It's not my car. I stole it. 

Officer: The car is stolen? Driver: That's right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner's card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there. 

Officer: There's a gun in the glove box? Driver: Yes sir. That's where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk. 

Officer: There's a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!? Driver: Yes, sir. 

Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver to handle the tense situation: 

Captain: Sir, can I see your license? Driver: Sure. Here it is. It was valid.
Captain: Who's car is this? Driver: It's mine, officer. Here's the owner's card. The driver owned the car. 

Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there's a gun in it? Driver: Yes, sir, but there's no gun in it. Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box. 

Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told you said there's a body in it. Driver: No problem. Trunk is opened; no body. 

Captain: I don't understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn't have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glove box, and that there was a dead body in the trunk. 

Driver: Yeah, I'll bet that lying officer told you I was speeding, too. 

Source: Superlaugh.com


Friday, February 19, 2010

101 Small changes: change 1 - Reduce drinking Soda

I am starting a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over again for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

If you are heavy soda drinker (drinking 2 can or more per day), let's reduce soda drinking by 1/2 can only.
Soda without sugar is tiny bit better, not a best solution though, so I would not recommend to drink sugarless soda instead, unless your sugar is high.

If you are occasional and social soda drinker (once in a while) you can reduce by smaller amount, or 100% juice instead. You can replace Juice with water slowly.

Key is to do without feeling deprivation, if you really really want go ahead  and drink it but reduce amount for 1/4 or 1/2. With every step, it will become easier and you may never feel deprived of it.

How do I know? I have been soda free for past 8 years now. As a college student, I was heavy soda drinker, for caffeine to keep me awake to study and work during those hectic days. After college, I slowed down, not by choice but some how looking for job first and working/learning new things at work kept me busy to really think about soda everyday. I became social soda drinker, when I met with friends and I could not eat Pizza without soda, yep I got duped by advertisements. I got cavities and weight gain to prove it, however it did not stop me. I got heartburn often, I did research and try to do cold tofurky to quit soda all at once. I would not recommend it anyone but it has to be done as my digestive system was in such a shot condition. I am in better health condition now than when I was in my early 20s.

What is in soda? The average cola contains carbonated water, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, caffeine, phosphoric acid and high-fructose corn syrup. Many of these ingredients not to mention high-fructose corn syrup is very unhealthy sweetner.

Reasons to reduce and stop drinking soda:

1. Soda is never "cool", even though it might be advertised by your favorite sports person, singer, actor.
2. Soda has addictive. Makes you crave more.
3. Can cause weight gain, cavities, diabetes, heart burn.
4. May cause, kidney damage, high BP, liver damage
5. It can cause dehydration, as sugar and caffeine has diuretic effect making one more thirsty.
6. It has no nutrients value, and there are other healthier choices for drinks.

How much soda are you drinking now? Are you willing to reduce a little and make small change in your life to make you feel better?


Friday, February 12, 2010

Simplifying your Valentine day: Free e-book

Valentine day is second most greeting cards sending holiday, just after Christmas. Americans alone spent approx 14.7 Billion dollars on 2009 alone for Valentine day gifts. Men spent lot more about $147 per person and Women were not too far behind with $87 per person on Valentine day gifts.

Valentine day is supposed to show your care and love, everyone you love including, your friends, kids, parents, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, all people you know and care for. Please be kind to single friends or recently single person in your life, as no holiday should exclude any group or any one.

Why does anyone have to wait for February 14th, to express thier love? Why it can not to be today, tomorrow, or everyday?

Before we had kids, Zenguy one valentine day surprised me by cleaning up computer room mess that was bothering me a lot. That gift meant a lot to me and I still remember it after many years while all sweaters and perfumes gifts are long forgotten. Now as a family, we celebrate it together, this year we are planning to visit a local museum that we all enjoy as a family, un-traditional maybe!, we may have whole museum to enjoy by our self that day who knows.

If you do celebrate this holiday, please take our consumerism out of it and do it from heart and handmade by simply following next few tips for more meaningful holiday.

1. Wish and show love to everyone you know, not only your spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend.
2. Instead of flowers, give plants or seed packets to your loved one.
3. Cook something together instead of going out to eat.
4. Make handmade coupons to redeem later such as special uninterrupted time together doing something you both or all enjoy.
5. Tell or write 10 reasons why you love them.

Please download free ebook Simplify your Valentine day from New American Dream a group that promotes sustainability and avoiding consumerism. This free e-book has traditional and alternative ways of celebrating this holiday and if you do buy gifts, be a conscious consumer.

Make everyday Valentine day. Wish valentine day to everyone, specially someone who is alone, your single friends, elderly neighbors, your parents, kids. Wishing you all happy and meaningful valentine day. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Re-connect with community around you

Have you ever watched "It is wonderful life", 1946 movie with James Stewart and Donna Reed? Many of us watch it during Christmas holidays as a holiday tradition. Why am I talking about a holiday movie in February time?

What I love about the movie, is not only uplifting and inspiring story, but also a sense of community in the movie, where everyone knew each other by name and were friends. I would like to live where everyone knows us, and we know them and are friendly with each other too. Our older generation used to know people around them such as neighbors and other everyday folks they met during the course of the day.

Now a days, we have lost that connection with people, a sense of community is hardly there. Many of us live in Apartments, Condo or house for months or years, yet we do not know many of our neighbors! I mean really know them as a friends not just by face or car they drive only. We no longer know people we deal with often such our bankers, bakers, gas station workers, mail man as they keep changing jobs often and due to lack of time on our part. And not many knows "real" us either, as we seemed to busier than ever.

We go to work, office, business, school, college or work at home, busy making money and paying bills, running errands, yet hardly we take time out to connect with people whom we meet. Take an example of us, Zenguy and I have lived in same place for many years yet we both used to work crazy hours till late evening. We used to eat out or crash in front of the TV eating take out food, we did not have energy for people who lived around us. Now, that I am home and we have 2 little ones, we are just beginning to know some of our neighbors truly. However, there are still some neighbors who are busy working long hours or as soon as they come home, they close garage doors, so no one gets to know them.

R loves to say hello to our mail man and garbage man, he genuinely  is interested in them and want to know their truck and how do they deliver mails or how the garbage truck picks up the big trash cans. If they are rushing, R still likes to wave at them and smile. And thanks to him, I am also getting to know people and  helpers around me.

Sometimes when we go to grocery store, we say hello to people in line with us, chatting up with cashier as well.  Once Zenguy saw one couple ahead of us in checkout line, and gave them our extra coupon that he saw they were buying, so they can save few bucks. They were surprised and very thankful. Little P was restless and crying so I wanted to rush home, like I used to, but that act of Zenguy made me not only proud of him but reminded me to connect with others, even though we may or may not see them again.

While, we may not be friends with neighbors like in movie "It is a wonderful life", but we are improving and getting better. We have have made friendship with single old woman in her late 60s and have shared some meals with her, we were there when her mom passed away and she in turns shares her stories with us, and helps us when we least expecting it.

There is always a first step to every journey and these are our conscious choices to smile and say hello to everyone we meet such as neighbors, grocery cashiers, Bankers, farmer market sellers, garbage truck driver, mail man and even those who solicited selling things at our door. It does not cost us anything to smile and be friendly and in return we get good energy that uplifts us.

Do you know people around you? Are you always rushing from one place to another? If so, slow down a little and get to know your community around you, slowly. It may do wonders for you.

If you are friendly with people around you, I would sure like hear your story.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Some Asked Questions: Person behind the blog

I thought of answering a few asked questions and other possible questions you may have for the person behind the blog. It is not needed, but I always think it makes it personable when we know each other. I always like personal tidbits on blogs; so here it goes for those curious minds that want to know more!

And for those, who are fine without such details, I want to know how do you come to such a Zen mind? :-)

1. Are you on Twitter, Face book, other social media?

I am not currently on any of these social media. I do not want to be too much networked right now with 2 little ones at home. I may seem to be behind in technology but this is a conscious choice to keep little sanity in my life.

I still try to response to each comments posted here or sent via email as they are important to me. So far it has been easy as blog and email comments are small and manageable. If anything changes in future, I will sure to update information on the blog.

2. Why do you write anonymously?
It is matter of personal choice and comfort level. However, whatever I write everything here about life, kids and Zenguy are 100% truth.

3. Where are you located?
I live in SF bay area, in Northern California.

4. You say one of your passion is cooking, will we see food post here on the blog?
Yes, one of my passion is cooking along other things. I may post some healthy recipes occasionally here. My main focus here is personal and life improvement though. Meanwhile, you can check out many wonderful cooking blogs, one of my favorite is Holy Cow, Earth Vegan Blog , check out for yummy, healthy vegan recipes that will be liked by vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

5. How do you make money?
First, I thought of ignoring this question but after some pondering, I thought of answering it here. I have made so far (about 6 months of blogging) $0.00 on this blog. While I would like to earn some pocket change someday, this blog is almost advertisement free (except small amazon bar). My goal is to help others get a better, more fun and stress free life and get more balanced view between what heart wishes and mind wants.

6. Why name Zengirl?
I answered this in my earlier post here, please check it out.

7. Why name: Happy heart and mind?
Please check out here for details.

8. How often you update, post on your blog?
I post about 4-6 posts every month. I post when I get free time between 2 kids, home and being preschool teacher (volunteer post) among other things in life.

Also, if you want to know more about the person behind the blog, please check it out here .

Got more questions?
While, I do not claim to be expert, if you have questions, please feel free to ask them in comments here or email, I will answer to my best ability.

Question for you all.
Now, let me ask you, how can I make this blog more useful to you? You like what you read here? I am simple girl, with simple goal, let's make each other better person, shall we?

Thanks for reading and learning journey with me.


Monday, February 1, 2010

You are richer than you think!

You may have heard these, "Misery loves company", "When it rains, it pours!". Sometimes, when one trouble comes, other troubles/problems seemed to be right behind it. "When life give you a lemon, make lemonade", strategy works sometimes, but other times, it is just too much effort to be cheerful or see positive side. I fall in to this trap often. Zenguy is natural at being positive and optimistic even in bad situation, while I learn from him a lot, seeing innocent smiles on my kids also lifts my spirits up.

Most people's worry and concern seemed to be money related now a days. No matter how poor we think we are, we are still rich, because we have roof over our heads, health, family and friends and food to eat, clean water to drink. We have lot more compared to many folks in the world.

If you still feeling bit down about your financial outlook, here are a few ways to make you little bit more happy and content with yourself.

1. Help others in need.
2. Do one thing you really love, everyday at least for 10 minutes.
3. Get close to nature, be outside, gardening, walking in park, looking at birds.
4. Spend/give time each day to your 6 area for balanced life as seen 6 critical areas for life balance.
5. Practice silence everyday for 10 minutes: or meditate.
6. Be optimistic and positive.
7. Don't dwell on decision making. Making wrong one is far better than indecision.

Don't believe me? Check out Global Rich list calculator. Just type in your salary, it has choices of currency in Dollar, Pound, Yen etc., and see yourself in top percentage of world population. Your perspective will change!!!

How did you financially rate among the world's population? How did it make you feel? Did your perspective change?


Photo source: Long Beach city college Newsletter at http://fina.lbcc.edu

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life balance: 6 Critical areas

Many times, we often are busy with many non important and non-urgent tasks and life gets out of balance. If we focus on following six areas, we can be balanced. All of these six areas need attention in order for our life to be in balance. One can be healthy, wealthy but yet lonely,that will not be a true balanced life, you get the picture.

1. Money:
Money is one of the biggest issue we all face, if it is ignored, it can destroy happiness and harmony in any relationship, including one with yourself. Did you know, many married couple or family members fight about money and it is #1 cause for divorces. Not to mention sleepless nights and constant worries that will wreak all other aspects of one's life. Best way to deal with this issue is to spend less then you earn, pay off debts via snowball and automate your financial life, so you will need to spend little time maintaining it and more time enjoying it.

2. Health:
Some one has said " True wealth is health", which is so true. We will realize it only after being sick often that how easy we had it and how we abused our bodies by eating unhealthy and not exercising. Health problems can make us feel miserable, cut our social and financial life short. It is good to spend little time cooking, eating healthy food, drinking water and exercising your body and staying right weight. Doing little changes everyday will have a major impact on your health, slow and steady wins the health race too.

3. Family time:
If this list was based on priorities, it will be at the top. If we are so busy making money and exercising but not spending enough time with family, our life will be out of balance. At the death bed, no one wishes that they had made more money, or worked long hours. All of us want to be loved and tell loved one that we love and care for them. Make a effort to spend time with your spouse, kids, mother, father, siblings, and in-laws and friends. You will be glad you did.

4. Religious/ Spiritual:
Prayers do wonder for most of when we are down, worried and do not know where to turn. One does not need to be religious for a prayer, being spiritual also helps. When we are down, a simple prayer to a god from a heart does us so good. Mahatma Gandhi has said "There has never been a time when God has not answered my prayers". Even if we do not have conviction like Gandhi, being spiritual helps tremendously when we are drowning in worries. Even when the problem does not go away, big burden on your heart might be lifted and that is a good reason to pray for most of us.

5. Knowledge/Learning:
One does not need to keep learning from PhD, Masters and other degrees to keep learning. For many people who are working, they keep learning, new tools, software, technology to help them get better at their professional career. However, even for people are unemployed or work from home, stay at home like myself, there are many ways to keep learning and gain new knowledge.

Learning can be simple as learning cook, or sew or garden. Learning how to save money, invest, how to be a better parent, reading various books on topics you might be interested in. Learning about other countries, culture also counts. As long as we are constantly learning, we feel part of society, part of contributing member of family.

6. Social:
We human are social creature. Solitude helps us focus what we want in our life from time to time, however, we need social contacts from family, friends to talk our feelings, hear others perspective and live among others. Too much social and not enough inward focus will leave this area out of balance.

Stephen Covey has once said, we play many roles and fulfilling each roles will help us achieve balance we seek. For example, my role is as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, woman and home CFO (basically bills payer), if I ignore any of the role long enough, my life would be uncomfortably out of balance.

I believe, if any of us followed these 6 critical area of our lives, our lives would be happier and smoother and in balance. Do you agree? How do you balance your life? Would you like to add any suggestions that would help?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irony of Recession: Expensive and Cheaper things

 In our recent downturn economy, certain things have became more expensive and other things have became cheaper to purchase. Irony is most basic necessities such as food, medicine, education items have become more expensive while, more want items such as electronics, cars have become a little cheaper. Read on and you be the judge!

Information on statistics of percentage increased and/or decreased is taken from MSN money article here . Analysis and thoughts are mine.

7 things that are getting cheaper:

1. Homes
Although not quite so cheap, house prices have fallen way down in many part of the country, leaving many home owners upside down in their mortgages.

2. Electronics
Electronic gadgets such as flat screen TV, DVD players, camcorders and camera, computer seemed to be getting smaller and cheaper.

3. Clothing
Prices of cheaply made clothes have decreased so much. Many people have to replace their not so well made clothes almost every year. I doubt that it is cost effective in long run.

4. Cars
With recent program "Cash for clunkers" success, car prices seems to be down and making many people believe they can afford newer model of car, and prices of used cars have plunged even more.

5. Air fare
Air fare have decreased but additional fees for baggage, food, seat selections have increased. So it actually makes illusion of reduced  price while actual total prices have increased for flying. I even heard that Ryan air planning to make coin operated restrooms!! I am not sure that will go well with most of the travelers.

6. Alternative energy
Although MSN article mentions alternative energy as getting cheap, I am not quite sure if solar panels are affordable for most average people just yet. Yes, there might be discount for having an alternative energy installed, I am not sure it big enough to qualify as a cheap or even affordable for most of us.

7.  Toys
Cheaply made plastic toys prices have decreased significantly. However, there are still outrageously priced toys sold in a store such as $200 robotic dinosaur, which can move and roar, does our children need that at all? I think not.

7 things are getting expensive

1. Food/Groceries
Prices of staple food such as corn, rice and wheat have increased so much that many poor people in mexico and iraq and other developing countries can barely feed themselves.

2. Medical care
Despite the health care overhaul, prices of medical care and hospital stay have increased, even before recession began. Some of the service have increased  to over 84%  in last 10 year since 1999.

3. College education
College tuition have increased to almost 30% since 2006 to 2009. Many middle class parents can barely afford to send their kids to college now.

4. Gas prices
Gas prices always fluctuates, lower during election time and higher during summer and Christmas holiday vacation time. But it has increased over 6% in a few months time period and that is a lot.

5. Garbage/Water/Utility
In our area price of garbage collection and water usage have increased. There is proposed Utility increase again since last increase in 2005. There are no lower rates for people like us, who compost and have only 2 small bags of trash every week. Rain water collection is also not legal without a permit, in many area too.

6. Beer/Alcohol
Another great reason to give up drinking, raising prices of alcoholic beverages. Enough said.

7. Prescription drugs
Price of prescription drugs have increased over 200% since 1990, who knew? I think even with generic prescription price is still going to be high. It is not so great news for people who are on daily or monthly medication plan such as diabetes or cancer.

What did you think? I would love to what has increased or decreased price wise in your area.


Picture Source: MSN Money

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Backing up computer and data is very important

Quick and short update. We are back from our trip from east coast to visit family, and we are getting back to routine slowly here in California.

My laptop hard drive died for some reason while we were gone and all my files and blog posts that I had in the laptop are lost. Zenguy is trying to recover data, so let's see. Meanwhile, I have to re-create many things.

My posting will be minimal until we get my laptop up and running. Meanwhile, I suggest to all of you back up your files, and data even when you computer is running fine. I hope a few of my readers will still stick around to more great content to follow.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New year Resolutions

Every year, most of us make new year resolutions, only to lose it in shuffle by February rolls around. Does it happen to you? What are usual new year resolutions? We all tend to have similar resolutions year after year.

History of New year resolutions:

According to mlive article here , is short history information on New year's resolutions.

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, looking at the past and future, Janus became the ancient symbol for resolution. Actually, month of January is also named after Janus, the mythical king.

January 1 was always start of a new year and it only became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons of privious years.

It is interesting to note that not every culture or countries celebrates new year around this time but everyone celebrate January 1st as a start of calender year celebration .

Interesting tidbit huh? Also, According to Wikipedia, some of the popular new year's resolutions are;

Success rates of these resolutions are low 12% of people, which is quite surprising that I fall in 88% of population, by late January. This year, I am making only resolution that I know it will be successful. How so? I have decided to not to have any resolutions this year at all. I have goals instead, such as do less stuff and enjoy more life. I think goals are easier than resolutions, only time will tell it will be a success or not.

Do you have new year's resolutions? How successful you are keeping those? What strategies works for you?


Image source: Wikipedia