What does it mean to experience something as yourself and not as per the influence of others on “how” you should feel?
We feel when we let ourselves be. When we truly allow our mind and body to react as they do, not as we think they ought to. Our thoughts and perceptions are molded by our environment — by the people we grow up watching, the people we interact with, the people that raise us, directly or indirectly. Not everyone is cognizant of this influence, but there are those of us who can pinpoint exactly where certain phrases, hand movements, facial expressions, style of laugh, style of smile, or body language have been picked up from. Thus, most of those are learned behaviors, unlike that of feelings.
Although many people are unfortunate enough to be told how they should feel in certain scenarios or society tries to dictate how one “should” feel to be considered as having an “appropriate” reaction to an occurrence, this is not how feelings operate. How you feel about something comes from within you in the form of an involuntary reaction to the situation. How you truly feel about something is your first reaction to it. Not the reaction afterwards where you recalibrate what is expected of you in that moment, but rather the reaction you naturally respond with.
To accept who you are and how you respond to the world, without the influence of perceptions and thoughts, is your acknowledgement of nobody-but-yourself. Society would like nothing more than for you to forego this acknowledgement and bend to the “norms” it or the infamous they have defined as appropriate. But to live and to breathe as nobody-but-yourself is the greatest feat of them all. It’s not an easy one, anyone who’s done so or is doing so can vouch for this, but to live as oneself, for oneself, and in spite of the world’s assault against it, is one of the most admirable achievements in life.
Thank you, Sushant, for showing the world how beautiful a soul can be when it is nobody-but-itself.
In honor of Sushant Singh Rajput, the late Bollywood actor and brilliant mind, on the anniversary of his passing, and for the loss of such a beautiful soul.
To be oneself And no one else Is a feat itself Among all else
The world attempts Day in and out To make you change What you’re about
Oh what strength If in all that You remain you One can respect that
People often continue through life in the expectations of society and the community they are surrounded by, and spend all their time living up to those expectations. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that there is a set path we need to follow in order for life to be “successful” or “complete”. What is forgotten in this conditioning is that everyone is unique and has their own path to follow. Each individual gets to decide how they shape their life and success is defined by them and no one else. If there is anything to glean from this year, it is that life is unpredictable, so rather than waiting for society’s expected life moments to be happy or do the things we want to do, we should do those things now. We should make time for and design our life around what our hearts say our life needs. Most people wait to do that when they ‘retire’, but you don’t know what life will look like after 40 years, let alone tomorrow, so why wait to live it until then?
Holding back your passions or waiting to do the things you want to do in life is just preventing you from living your life to the fullest. In an effort to encourage y’all to live your best life, let’s recognize and celebrate what you gave time to in 2020. I want you to recognize what’s important to you and aim to give more time to those things in 2021.
For the last day of 2020, and Day 1 of Fast 5 of the Last 5, let us celebrate the time we gave to what was important to us.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things or people that you made time for in 2020.
1. The People I Love
2. My Passions
4. My Personal Growth
5. Life Goals
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate the value of what you gave time to.
This had to be the fastest yet slowest year we have experienced. It felt like life was slipping away and we were not able to make use of it as we originally intended and yet it was moving so torturously slow that it felt like the shenanigans of the year would never end. For those familiar with the game Jumanji, it definitely felt like someone started the game in the first quarter and each stage of the game was a new kind of crazy that we couldn’t wait to get past. Well it’s finally the last day of 2020, and I join everyone in the hopes that today runs smoothly and we just make it to tomorrow without anything falling apart. When the 31st of December comes each year, we tend to reminisce about all the things we’ve done this year – the good and the bad – as well as all the possibilities of the year to come. Since we tend to make time for the things we truly enjoy, and we spend time frivolously on everything else, I want to spend this last day thinking about the hours and days I spent on the things that I truly valued.
One of my greatest accomplishments this year was that I did make time for the life I love and the one I have wanted to live. Even before the pandemic hit, I had envisioned this year as one that I would spend building the foundation for the life I deserve. I initiated a lot of that work in the first few months, and when the pandemic hit, I actively chose to allocate time focusing on the tasks and lifestyle choices that aligned to that life. It was a struggle, as much of this year was, but I am proud that I was able to make some amazing strides and succeeded in making time for what mattered most to me.
To continue the theme of making time for the things that matter, I am not going to go into deeper reflections on my 5 things in hopes that you all spend today making time for what matters to you. Let’s spend the last day of 2020 celebrating not just the end of this year and the beginning of the next, but celebrating life itself and the fact that we get to live it!
In this life of mine The unknown is time To live life accordingly Is the main goal of mine
The pandemic took a lot this year from the world, from families, and from our plans. What the pandemic or anyone else in this world cannot take away is knowledge. What you learn remains with you and becomes a part of who you are. My mother always taught me that there is a lesson to be learned from everyone and everything we encounter. Each conversation teaches you something about yourself, about that person, or about the topic being discussed. Each story you come across by reading, watching, or listening has a moral to take away. Most of all, each moment in your life is an experience that you grow from if you pay attention to what it is teaching you. It is this perspective that helps those who believe in “everything happens for a reason” stay committed to that belief because in a single moment you’ll either learn something immediately or, if you can’t figure it out just yet, you’ll know the lesson is coming. So whether you experienced something that left it’s mark, realized something about yourself, or picked up a new skill, this year was abound with opportunities to gain some knowledge and I want to hear all about it.
On Day 2 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020, let us celebrate all that we learned and will take into this next phase.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things you learned in 2020. I’m very excited to share mine!
2. Value of Nature
3. Hoarding is Handy
4. Dogs are the Best
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) because I want to know what you’ve learned!
Every year I try to focus on one thing I need to work on in my life. Since I already know I learn from people and experiences daily, I pick a bigger topic to address for the year overall that will take time to accomplish. This year, even without knowing that Covid-19 was going to overhaul the year’s plans, I had intended on pursuing my passions to make them more integral parts of my life. Prior to 2020, I dabbled in my passions from time to time when I felt like it or needed an outlet, but this year I wanted to make time for them every day because I recognized the value they added to my mood, my happiness, and my overall wellbeing. By the end of 2020, I ended up nurturing some passions while I also having learned some valuable life lessons.
In my humble opinion, I believe TikTok and short-form video was a significant and positive outcome of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. The platform gave people confined to their homes a new form of entertainment that was quick, easily consumable, and actively engaging. The active engagement of course was and is optional, but became vital as people realized that they were beginning to become one with their furniture and needed some form of movement in their day. Although I did not jump on the TikTok or short-form video trend immediately, I thoroughly enjoyed consuming it and learning the value of this new channel of entertainment consumption and production. In the latter half of the year I began creating some content for TikTok as well as the Instagram contending functionality, Reels. I continue to learn about this platform as I explore it and intend to continue producing content for it. If you want to join the fun, check out my TikTok here and my Instagram here.
Value of Nature
I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in my life having visited 14 countries and 48 states of the United States, and experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer across all of them. As such, I always enjoyed nature and respected it accordingly, but this year I saw how powerful it is that it could fight back so vastly that it crippled the human race. Nature pushed back on us so fiercely with Covid-19 that we were forced to be confined to our homes and could no longer continue the destruction we were inflicting on our habitat. During this confinement, I took the time to understand survival methods using what nature has to offer, the delicate balance of provider and destructor that it is, and how much of the modern products we use leverage what it has to offer but muddy it with synthetics. I enjoyed learning all that I did because it opened my eyes to so many cool aspects of nature I had not known previously, but also because I have a new sense of respect for what it is capable of.
Hoarding is Handy
Everyone witnessed the embarrassing manner in which folks attacked stores for the supplies they thought they needed in preparation for the global lockdown, but that is not the hoarding that I am referring to. Natural hoarders, like myself, have always bought supplies in bulk and maintain a constant stock to ensure that one is never without necessary items (and often unnecessary items, but ones that we cannot seem to bear parting with). When the pandemic was declared, my survival training kicked in and I immediately took inventory of what I had, how much I had, how long it would last, and what was missing. It was of no surprise to me or my friends that I had most of what I needed, and that stock would have lasted me about 3 months. In learning more about the virus and seeing the political reaction to it, I knew that I needed to have at least enough for 6 months if I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to leave my premises because my asthma puts me at a higher risk. Of course when I did enter stores, they were practically empty! The community had already panic bought and cleaned out supplies. I could not have been more grateful for my hoarding than in that moment because I got through the initial weeks of the pandemic on my original stock alone before gaining access to the additional supplies and stock I intended to maintain.
Dogs are the Best
My boys – the S Pirates – are my babies and I learned to cherish them even more than I already did! I am grateful that I got to spend so much extra time with my boys and they are ecstatic that I have been home 24/7 this year. What I learned in that time is that no matter what happens in life – with work, with relationships, with the world overall – the moment you look at or snuggle your fur baby, it all dissipates. In that moment, you feel such engulfing love, that you cannot help but be convinced that you have a companion to get through it all, no matter what. There were many days where the lockdown tested my trauma healing and the first thing I did whenever I felt low was take one fur baby into a snuggle and close my eyes. The peace I feel in doing that is inexpressible and I am so glad to have so many fur babies to experience that with. Knowing that they love me and are with me no matter what life throws our way, makes them one of the best parts of my life and I’ll never doubt that.
I learned to play a new instrument! When I visited Hawaii, I purchased a Hawaiian-made ukulele (correctly pronounced oo-koo-ley-ley) and I vowed at that moment to reengage in my musical passions. I’ve previously studied and trained in piano, harmonium, tabla, and Indian classical singing, but stopped everything years ago due to many reasons. I have always been musically inclined because I love the feeling of the music through me. Many may not understand what that means, but the vibrations one feels from different instruments in the way they strum, beat, or emit the sounds triggers something in each person differently. There is quite a bit of scientific literature on this, so I may explore that with you all at some point, but for now it is just important to note that it is a passion of mine that I had let go of many years ago and I was elated to bring it back into my life. I had always intended to learn this instrument virtually because my time was already so aggressively allocated that I felt virtual lessons were a good start. I was fortunate enough to find a teacher, Paul Elwood, via Lessons.com (a great place to find virtual teachers!) that had been hosting virtual classes for quite some time now, so when the lockdown was announced, my lessons were not impacted. I am proud to say that I have successfully learned one instrument and reignited this passion, so I hope to share more of it with y’all soon!
Life is full of lessons If you could only see Each experience is the key To all the possibilities
Change is inevitable, yet it is one of the hardest things for us to accept. We often fear change because it falls within the realm of the unknown. Whether you are spiritual or not, it takes some level of trust or faith in the universe to be open to the unknown that life can and will bring. I like to think of changes as opportunities to grasp and grow from and today’s activity encourages you to do just that.
Welcome to Day 4 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down the days to the new year with 5 activities each day to celebrate your life!
Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or moments that changed for the better in 2020. Below are mine.
1. Worked From Home
2. Reallocated My Time
3. Clarified My Priorities
4. Removed Toxic People
5. Respected Myself
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate change together!
I was quite surprised by my list actually and what came to mind when I considered the things that changed for the better for me in 2020. It’s not that I don’t align with my list, because I’m actually perfectly aligned with it, but I spent some time afterwards thinking if I’m missing bigger changes. This goes back to our expectation that bigger is better when it comes to what is important in life. Once I wrote down my changes, I realized that they each play such a vital role in who I am at the end of 2020 and that’s what matters. This activity reminded me that I am a product of each choice in my life, no matter the value others place on those choices – big or small. I’m very happy with how 2020 has shaped me and the changes I’ve accomplished that make me elated to be alive.
Worked From Home
The moment companies prioritized or were forced to prioritize their employees’ health over productivity and place everyone on work from home status was a huge win for people and for the corporate world. Not only did it force people and companies to realize the value of the internet in making virtual interactions seamlessly successful, but it also displayed the value of a proper work-life balance. In reflecting on this further, I actually spun into a full blown rant on the subject, so I’ve decided this topic really deserves further elaboration as it’s own post at a later date (subscribe to see it in 2021!). For the purpose of this activity, what I will say is that this change reminded me why balance and boundaries between one’s work life and personal life is crucial. This balance allows one to feel fulfilled in both aspects of life and cherish both more because you are not forced to choose one over the other. This was a major paradigm shift that the world went through and I think it is just the beginning of the virtual world we are about to enter (cue The Matrix theme music).
Reallocated My Time
Time management is something almost everyone struggles with and it became extremely necessary for me to change my approach to it this year. I was genuinely struggling with the excitement of additional time to work on my passions and my future goals and the workload I already had, which resulted in this constant feeling of getting pulled in too many directions. There eventually came a point when I shut down entirely and had to step away from it all, only to realize that each item is important to me in my life and I need to find a way to make it reasonably work. I recognized that if I want to work on each item, I need to find the right time allocation to give each the focus it needs without derailing other items. It’s taken almost all of 2020 to figure out the balance for me, and I finally employed a tactic I tried post-trauma which just last week finally clicked, making it clear to me how I want it all to work. I’m practicing the implementation of my strategy and things are finally looking promising! It’s a year-end change, so we’ll see the fruits of this change in 2021.
Clarified My Priorities
In the time I shut away from all interactions to figure things out, I realized that I was teetering on the verge of burning out once again and, along with time management, I needed to realign my priorities to give focus to the right things. I found that I was spending quite a bit of time on certain activities that were not in line with my future goals, and were just nice-to-have activities that I enjoyed. It’s not that one shouldn’t enjoy those activities, but they need to be de-prioritized in the face of actions related to ones’ goals, and they should be placed aside entirely when higher life priorities arise. It may seem small to some, but this was a special moment when I realized this and made the decision to take action on it. I found a methodology that works for me to prioritize my decisions in such a way that I achieve a little bit towards every goal without feeling like I’m missing out on other things.
Removed Toxic People
I lost one too many dear individuals this year – not to Covid-19, but to their toxic nature – and many have expressed how sad that is but have also experienced this. What I’ve realized is that it is not a loss, but a win that those individuals are no longer part of my life or have shifted from close friends to distant acquaintances. These individuals were my friends for many, MANY years and those closest to me know they were at one point my chosen family (some were biological family!). For me to call you my family means a lot and I don’t use it lightly. These individuals had done some pretty toxic things in the past, but being the overly-understanding and accepting person that I have been told I am, I looked past those things and loved them dearly anyway.
I did that because I followed my heart in believing that they were good people and convinced myself that they cared for me, too, because that’s what they said. If nothing else, life has taught me severely that when words do not match actions, you are playing with toxicity. So when these individuals took actions that disrespected me or they could not handle my dissenting opinion on matters, I finally chose to remove them entirely from my life or distanced myself enough that they no longer take respectable space in my heart or mind. It’s quite freeing actually to have taken this action, and that’s honestly how I knew it was one of the best changes in my life and one that has made me immensely happier.
This defined my 2020. I have always been a cordial individual and maintained relationships even when people have hurt me (as I mentioned earlier) because I always felt my heart and mind were strong enough to withstand the hurt and not take it out on others the way others would do to me. What I’ve learned is…THIS IS WRONG. Everyone deserves to be treated well and respected, and if someone is treating you poorly, overlooking it or making excuses for their behavior because you’re “understanding” is just teaching them how to treat you. In case you missed it, they are disrespecting you and you are showing them that it’s okay because you won’t react to it. If you are unable to express your dissent towards something or are reprimanded for setting your boundaries, then please know that you are not the problem.
Any individual that you cannot have a dissent-driven discussion with or is not willing to accept or respect your boundaries is toxic and you should respect yourself enough to disengage from them entirely. I have had to learn this many times over the years, but in the past most of those people have cut me off. This year I worked on sticking by my beliefs & standards and setting my boundaries – a big change for me as it is contrary to my understanding nature – and I had to let go of many people I thought were my people because they showed me that they didn’t respect me. That’s when it really sunk in that you are truly better off respecting yourself and losing such individuals because the one’s that are meant to stay will do so and will respect you choosing and being you. And so this year’s biggest change, and biggest win for me, truly is respecting myself and protecting my boundaries.
Change is coming whether we want it or not So have faith in what is meant to be Your peace & happiness is worth a shot
We are often asked what we are grateful for and there are some usual suspects that folks answer with, as is customary, because we are expected to be grateful for certain things like family. Gratitude, by definition, is the willingness to be thankful for or show appreciation or kindness towards something or someone. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are not equally blessed with people or experiences that we can be thankful for, and so we should be gracious to those who are grateful for other things in life because of what those things mean to them and their life. For example, not everyone has family or even should be expected to be grateful for them if that “family” has been abusive or disruptive to their life or peace of mind. Therefore, those individuals may be grateful for a great many things or other people in their life and that is absolutely, unquestioningly acceptable and I am grateful if you prioritize yourself and your peace of mind enough to recognize what is okay for you.
And so, with an open mind and an open heart, I welcome you to Day 5 of the Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down to the new year! If you’re joining for the first time, please visit the introduction to this new year-end tradition, and then return here for the first activity below.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or experiences you are grateful for in 2020. Here are mine:
2. My Crew: Mommy & the Boys
3. The Family I Choose
4. My Health
5. My Freedom
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can be grateful together!
My list actually rolled off the tongue quite expeditiously because I realized what truly mattered to me after a traumatic period in my life. I often refer to that period as a previous life because it genuinely feels as though I died and was reborn with a second chance at the life I want and deserve to live. That’s not to say my list is not specific to 2020, but it just so happens that the pandemic reaffirmed for me the importance of these 5 things and why I am grateful for them.
Often people offhandedly mention they are grateful for life as a general act of respect for all that life encompasses. My appreciation for life is a bit different though because I have been close enough to death, had multiple near-death experiences, and experienced the loss of literally everything in my life to truly recognize that every ounce of life I get to live is a blessing. Every person, every object, every sense I get to experience is beautiful to me and I actually wake up thankful for this opportunity daily. This year in particular reminded me how quickly these things can be taken away and reignited my desire to live my best life, so I’m grateful for that realization and the opportunity to exist here.
My Crew: Mommy & the Boys
As a result of the 2020 pandemic, we were confined to our homes to be left only with those living with us. For many this was difficult, dangerous even, and an unexpected sentence the world delivered them – and I feel for you all deeply. Fortunately for me, I could not have been more ecstatic to get to spend all of my time with just my Mom and my boys (my fur babies – Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Sparky, Sonic, and Shadow – learn more about them here!). Outside of the pandemic, the world had become so focused on the activities and people we needed to engage with to feel like life was being lived, but I have known and was beyond grateful to get to engage with the ones I love most in this world because they deserve my time the most. They are the core of my being, the why for my existence, and the ones I would venture to the ends of the universe for. There is nothing that makes me happier or brings me more peace in this world than being with my crew and seeing them happy, so I’m grateful for the time I had and continue to have with them because each moment is a blessing.
The Family I Choose
Everyone is born into a family (biologically), whether you know them or not, are close to them or not, or in whatever form that may be. Society tends to promote the expectation that everyone should strive for and hold onto the “nuclear family” because that is the “right” way to live. In 2020, I believe we’ve progressed enough to realize that the modern family is what you make of it. Your family is the culmination of the people who choose you and with whom you reciprocate that choice because there is mutual respect, trust, and love in those relationships. If those three elements do not exist, then quite frankly, you have every right to not want to maintain the relationship and should not have to.
I learned this the hard way in life, but have come out with a strong family I choose that is a combination of biological relations and beautiful souls that made their way into my life, both of whom choose every day to be active and supportive parts of my life, and I in theirs. I got to spend beautiful moments with most of these people (all within the context of the safety protocols of this year), and we made memories for life that I truly cherish. The pandemic also showed me the true colors of many individuals I thought to be a part of that family and had to let go of in honor of my self-respect, and so I am even more grateful for realizing who is meant to be here and chooses to be.
Over the past 6 years, there was an onset of many random and life-induced medical conditions that I struggle with even today. In 2020, whilst the world was battling a health condition that has taken the lives of so many and continues to bring strife, I learned to appreciate my state of wellbeing more than ever. I am an asthmatic and Covid-19 has been a particularly high risk for me, so coming to the end of the year without having Covid-19 and remaining in generally good health for the greater part of the year outside of a few natural hiccups, is astounding for me and something I am truly grateful for. I’ve realized the importance of healthy practices and intend to continue the activities I engaged in this year to build my immunity and strength to remain well in the coming year.
In America especially, we speak of freedom as our right but take it for granted more often than not, especially if you are privileged enough to not experience freedom-hindering actions against you. I have lived a generally privileged life as it pertains to my freedom because my parents maintained a liberal mindset by which I was allowed and encouraged to explore the world and myself with their full support. Even coming from an Indian background where the culture does not always support such liberal lives, my family has always been this way and are loud and proud of it. It is probably due to us being of Punjabi descent (from the northern state of Punjab, India), in which such liberal nature is quite common compared to other parts of India. That being so, I ended up in a very traumatic marriage where that freedom was stripped away entirely and I was a modern-day slave in a life I never could have imagined for myself. After being freed of that entrapment, I realized the value of freedom and recognized that one cannot fully appreciate it until that freedom is taken away.
In 2020, as we were forced to remain in the confines of our homes and the Black Lives Matter Movement exploded with the attempted eradication of an entire peoples’ freedom, much of the trauma from that torturous time resurfaced in the form of thoughts of what life would have been like if I was not thrust out of that life. In revisiting those experiences and working through that trauma, I realized that freedom is not just political with regard to what you can and cannot do in society. Freedom is the inherent right you have to live life the way in which is true to you without any impediment by others or in any way that harms another’s freedom or life. That being said, in 2020 I am eternally grateful for the freedom I have to wake up every day when I want, how I want, and to live the life I want.
Life is what you make it If you are able to do so Let us all be gracious For we reap what we sow