Strike a pose and Selfie

Making the world a happier place one selfie at a time

Since the past few years, Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr have been flooded with selfies from around the world. So pronounced was the usage of the word alone, that Oxford Dictionary announced “Selfie” as the word of the year 2013. Not only does Internet abound with selfies of famous stars and politicians but almost anyone who owns a smartphone or webcam has at some point taken at least one “selfie” and in most cases several. There are reports of toddlers taking selfies as well as more disturbing accounts of people taking selfies with the deceased in caskets at funerals. Thanks to the ease of use; taking a selfie and posting it on social media has made it a worldwide phenomenon. Oxford’s editors say use of the word alone has gone up a staggering 17,000% in the past year. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/11/18/selfie-named-word-of-the-year-2013/3634727/)

Our fascination with the use and prevalence of “selfie” may define the millennia’s self-indulging and narcissistic fascination with self. But the concept of a selfie is nothing new. A visit to any Museum or classical Art gallery will confirm that selfies are as old as art itself. Artists have tried to create both artistic and realistic portraits of themselves in paintings and sculptures. Some notable artists who created self-portraits are Jan Van Eyck’s, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Paul Cezanne, Peter Parler, Henri Rousseau, Jean Fouquet, Van Gogh and many more. Artists have used all forms of medium to create portraits that actually help us chronicle history better today.

Posting a selfie on social media is the common man’s instant claim to fame. By a simple click of the button, one can share a selfie with the world and almost instantly start receiving hundreds of likes.

And what’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Just as long as you do it in fun and don’t get too self-engrossed with yourself and your selfie. So go on, Smile and Selfie!

Thanksgiving 2014; The 10 things I am most grateful for

Yes I know, Thanksgiving was day before on 28th November, 2014.  We just moved into a new location so we spent all of Thanksgiving and the long weekend packing, unpacking and settling into the new place. Until today I did not even have Internet set up at my new place. Moves are always hard; both physically and mentally. But change in itself is always positive or so we hope.

While it is hard to live out of cardboard boxes for a week or so, it is nice to get a chance to dig into the mountains of baggage one has accumulated over the years and do a thorough spring cleaning (literally and metaphorically speaking). After a long time I took a look at my closet and saw all the clothes, beauty products, hair products, vitamins, household goods, handicrafts and decorations that I never really used, and so I decided to box them up for Salvation Army. So this thanksgiving I took a resolve to be more vigilant while buying. Here is my resolve for future, “Buy little at a time, and buy only what you absolutely need.”

But Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, rather than lessons learned, correct? Well, here are the 10 things I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving. God bless them all!

  1. I am grateful for wonderful parents: No matter whether I am doing well or badly in life, whether I am healthy or under the weather, the one thing I am always and forever grateful to God for is having the best set of parents I could ever ask for!!!!

 I truly must have done something great in my past life to deserve wonderful parents like I have. When I was young someone told me that a child needs parents physiologically but a grown-up needs parents emotionally. I could not agree more with that person. While as a child, I may have needed my parents to care and provide for me, growing up I have realized how fortunate I am to have two beautiful people in my life as my parents. These are the kind of people that I would have fallen in love with for their kindness and seasoned intellect even if there weren’t my parents. While I am on the subject I want to clarify that my parents are not the adulating parents who fawn over their children and talk endlessly about them, condoning all their faults. Infact my parents are my toughest critics. They always tell me when I was in the wrong and are tough on me when I fail to do my best. They did not care whether I was the best in my class or not, they just wanted me to be the best I could be. But most importantly, they showed me that there are two sides to a coin and it is important to look at everything from the other person’s perspective. This has helped me see the good in everyone and accept the weakness in myself. It teaches one to be humble and accept life more openly.

  1. I am grateful for my family: There is truly nothing more saddening than having to spend the holidays alone by yourself. I am so grateful to God for having a loving husband and such a happy dog. My dog Ziggy is one of the purest souls. He teaches me that the happiest souls are the simplest souls and that if you wish to find love you need to give love. From my husband I have learned the art of being organized and living in the “present”. Although admittedly it is not an art I have fully yet grasped. Because when I look at myself critically, I am most guilty of either living in the past or always dreaming about the future. I rarely ever live in the moment. From my husband, I have also learned to enjoy the best in life. When it comes to shopping for myself, I always cut corners. That doesn’t mean I don’t buy enough for myself, it just mean I just don’t buy the “best” my money can afford. This mentality costs me more in the long run. Also subconsciously you train your mind to accept less than the best. I enjoy my husband’s mentality to buy the best his money can afford and enjoy it thoroughly.
  2. I am grateful for my sister: I am also very grateful for my wonderful sister and all the conversations I share with her. From my childhood she played a key role in shaping my personality and influenced me to be more outgoing. She helped me work hard on my people skills by promoting me to take part in elocutions, debates, school plays and even writing competitions. Her never dying faith in me has helped me have more faith in myself even when the going got tough.
  3. I am grateful for my job: I am grateful for having a good job with great colleagues that I can learn so much from. And yes, we may not be family and there is a healthy competition at workplace, it helps me to always keep my skills up to date. I am grateful to have a job that not only brings bread and butter to my table but I get to do what I enjoy and am good at.
  4. I am grateful for having a roof on my head: There is nothing better than coming home after a long day at work. And if you have to drive the 405 you will definitely understand the concept of stress! I am also thankful for the Californian weather, the beach and the lush greenery around me. I love to take my dog for a walk in the morning and see humming birds sucking the nectar out of the chrysanthemum’s in the park outside. That alone is enough to brighten any day!
  5. I am grateful for good health: When I was in pre-school my English teacher would make us write endless pages of cursive writing in the hopes that it would improve our penmanship. It never did anything to salvage mine. I sometimes have a hard time reading my own hand. But one thing it did do for me is that I learned a lot of nice sayings. See the thing is she would give us a saying and ask us to write it repeatedly for pages. It was sheer drudgery. The reason I am sharing the story is because one of the sayings I learned by heart was, “A cow hath its tail until lost”. I never really understood what it meant until I was much older. To me health is exactly like a cow’s tail. You take it for granted until you have lost it. All the joys of the world become meaningless the moment you don’t have health. Even something as simple as a house cold can bring a strong man to his knees. I am grateful for my health and will persevere to keep it by exercising, eating healthy and keeping stress at bay.
  6. I am grateful for good experiences: I am truly fortunate to have had so many great opportunities to visit the world since my childhood. Visiting new places and learning bits and pieces of foreign languages really opens the vistas of the mind. When I look back at my life, I know I have travelled a long way and had a sleuth of experiences.
  7. I am grateful for getting the best of two worlds: When I look at the news and see so much injustice and inequality around us, I cannot help thanking God for being fortunate enough to be born in a country like India which teaches you the importance of culture while training you to strive hard to maintain your independence and right to speech. I then moved to US (about fifteen years ago) and found USA to be one of the safest places for a woman to grow and flourish. I respect America for giving everyone an opportunity to succeed as long as they work hard. So today I cannot but thank God for the country of my birth and the country of my choice. Forever, I shall be indebted to the two countries.
  8. I am grateful for providence: When I look back at my life, I feel convinced that there is a higher power in play. Every time I have been in a fix and did not know how to get out of it, someone or something practically turned at my door step to help me in the form of a friendly advice, an offer of help, or even just inner strength that I did not know I had. As a young student in America, I was happily surprised by the kindness of absolute strangers, who treated me with so much love and kindness. I am grateful to my school that took care to provide an excellent community to its International students. I am grateful to all those wonderful people and send them bouquets of love.
  9. Lastly I am grateful for this blog: Yes, I am grateful to Ubecute as blogging helps me get out of the daily grind, even if just for a while. When I post an article and get comments from other bloggers or people on the web, it is like opening doors and windows in space and having happy loving faces peering back at me. I am grateful to my colleague who suggested I write a blog and my sister who pushed me to maintain it.

*Deep breath*. I practically wrote the 10 things above, in one breath. Now, that I have given my thanks, feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you are most thankful for? And don’t forget to pingback to Ubecute with your own Thanksgiving post.

A very Happy Thanksgiving all year round!AbottKinney3

Skin deep portrayal of women

We live in a world where more is less and less is never enough. Commercials on TV and web abound selling us dreams of a life that would be impossible to achieve without these products. Likewise, markets are flooded with merchandise that promise beauty in a jar, a killer body by consuming weight loss pills, a great social life by virtue of sporting an expensive handbag and so forth. Movies and TV shows feature stars that are embodiments of perfection itself. Every year the bar for perfection is set just a notch higher thanks to the pressures of media and marketing. Unfortunately, material goods and outwardly appearances alone can only provide fleeting satisfaction. Is it any wonder then that more and more men and women feel the pressure of being less than perfect?

When our image of ourselves is based not by who we are inside, but how others perceive us, how are we to find happiness? In US alone, more than 19 million people suffer from depression out of which nearly twice as many women as men suffer from depression every year. Depression is even more common amongst young people. Although both men and women may feel the pressure of society, surveys suggest that women are more susceptible to feelings of insufficiency and low self-esteem. Could it be that sometimes we are our own worst enemies? Women are notorious for being unfairly critical of themselves. Young impressionable women are constantly exposed to ads showing thin, well-proportioned models that are not only beautiful to start with, but these pictures are also photo- shopped after.  Women who are more likely to make upward comparisons with these extraordinary portrayals of feminine beauty may end up feeling less than attractive.

wonder-woman_e589afe69cacMovies abound where men are attracted to a woman who is not only stunningly beautiful but practically a wonder woman. She is an excellent career woman during the day and then in the evening she will change her Business suit for a sleek gown showing her perfectly chiseled body. She will then jump on the stage flip her hair and make an impromptu performance that would put the Spice girls to shame. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against a multi-talented woman. In truth, most of the women I know are really nothing short of amazing. They are excellent career women, great moms, perfect daughters, loving wives, sisters and friends in need.

My problem is merely with the portrayal of women in mass media. Such roles set high standards of expectation. The criteria for attractiveness just keeps becoming impossible to achieve while becoming more and more shallow. If the average American woman is 5’4” and 140 pounds why do we have actresses representing them who are 5’11” and 120 pounds? Why can’t we have more role models with less than “perfect” looks? Why are feminine characters in most movies, so two-dimensional and focused on their physical attractiveness?

ugly-betty-ugly-betty-6828040-1280-960In truth the portrayal of women as nothing short of “wonder women” is exacerbated by the fact that we women are tough critiques of our achievements and accomplishments. The ABC’s series “Ugly Betty” hinges on the portrayal of an attractive yet less than glamorous Betty fighting to make her mark in the glamour world while fighting her own self esteem issues caused by how her peers perceive her. To me, ‘Ugly Betty’ is a classic example of a regular working girl in today’s world. I am waiting for the media world to take more risks and start creating flesh and blood characters where women like men are valued as characters rather than their physical and sexual appeal.