Rainbow Zebra

Made this for my daughter, her birthday gift from Mama. She loves Zebras and wants everything to be rainbow colored. My little Yoda is growing up so fast.
Kids teach us so much and my little one is my special teacher, she teaches me everyday to slow down, stop to look at the purple bonnets (not bluebonnets because they aren’t blue), be true to my words and to simplify.

She is the reason behind Like Wise and any art I create for kids. (I am taking custom orders.) This last year has been all about to listening to my little Yoda’s wisdom. I’m sure you have stories of your kids or even yourself when you were kids that are just in your memories. If you’d like them illustrated, please send them to me.

While I’m trying to figure out what’s next on my To Do list she says, “Mama, silly Mama, let’s just play.” So that’s what I’ll do for now, play. Hope your weekend is rainbow colored and full of play time as well.

If you are in Austin, are 14+, like the art I create, would like to learn and practice art, that’s completely customized for honoring your being, please lets connect.

Also part of #the100DayProject here: https://www.instagram.com/likewisearts/

 

Women in STEM hosted by Psionics

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I was invited to attend a Women in STEM event hosted by Psionics, the only all girls FTC team in Westlake High School. The goal of the event was the girls to learn about women engineers’ careers, work-life, challenges and success stories. They would also provide insight into their world of robotics and STEM glory. I have to say I was beyond impressed by all the work the team had put in to their project. While I was amazed by all the technological problems they have solved, challenges they have overcome and competitions they have won, the main thing that won me over was their team spirit and the will to continue the legacy of this group. The group, Psionics, was started couple years back and even though the original team members have graduated and moved on they have kept the group alive with the help of their coaches, mentors and with a sense of making possible for others what was made possible for them.photo-5252085001748480

The Women in STEM event was attended by about thirty technical women who shared their stories ranging from what their typical work day looks like, challenges they have faced and specific instances that proved to be turning points in their lives. The one thing that rang true in all the narratives was the humility and professionalism with which each individual has approached their careers, overcoming the typical ups and downs of an industry that largely male dominated. While the girls learned from role models they look up to, I learned that we are all so similar. We might have different working styles and routines, we might work on a variety of different problems in varied roles and capacities, what’s common and what brings us together is the recognition that we are a village working together. Some work in it to purely for financial sustenance, some love the work and have incomparable passion for it they couldn’t find anywhere else, some work with a desire of improving and changing the face of technology, some work with a sense of giving back. Whatever the reasons might be, in the end, all of us do our bit to contribute to a bigger picture, a puzzle that comes together because we do what we do while remembering why we do it. I took home with me a small piece of this puzzle myself with a sense of rejuvenation and a reminder to keep doing what I’m doing.

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Thank you Psionics for this incredible opportunity. I wish you much luck and send you this message, “There’s a real joy in creating when the vectors don’t point at you, they point at a bigger purpose, but they originate from you.”

RIP Levi Felix Fidget

The world lost a visionary, a change maker, a proponent of connection, the founder of Camp Grounded, Levi Felix. I lost a friend, a guide, a source of inspiration, Fidget. After putting up a kickass fight he was taken from this world by a rare form of brain cancer. If you know about my journey, you know that me finding the power to finally take the decision to bring about a change was a direct result of camp and people like Fidget.

Adam Smiley Poswolsky has a wonderful article here about Fidget, his life, his visions and the magic he created. As for me, when I heard the news I went through a range of negative emotions – sadness, anger, shock, denial, grief. Then I got my box full of camp craziness out and as I thumbed thru my camp pocket book, the painted rocks, feathers, stickers, glitter, the many letters I’ve received since camp, I couldn’t help but smile. Positivity wins this battle, it has to, because this is what Fidget would have wanted. He would have wanted me singing out loud while chasing butterflies in a rainbow colored tutu. I smile, because that’s what my spirit is giving me permission to do right now. Here’s a memory that keeps coming back to me:

It was the last day of my first camp. As everyone was saying their goodbyes, I was standing there for a bit trying to wrap my head around what I had just experienced in the last four days. Fidget happened to walk by me and asked, “How are you?” I said, “I don’t know.” He stopped, looked at me, smiled, said nothing in words but the expression on his face told me that he wanted me to continue talking so I did. He had just given his closing speech in which he had spoken about clasping your hands the other way, with the less dominant thumb on top, about making the harder choices and embracing those changes. I told him how I was indeed trying to take the road less traveled and how horribly difficult I was finding it to be. This is what he said and I will never ever forget it,

“Even in your clasped hands your middle finger can stick up and say, Fuck you inner critic.”

We laughed. He then gave me a hug. I will never forget that laughter, that hug. He left me with an experience that changed my life. He gave me, us, the gift of camp, ever lasting life long friends, our community. Thank you. I remain forever grateful Fidget. Love you.

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From Orange, White and Green to Red, White and Blue

From Orange, White and Green to Red, White and Blue
Written on the eve of becoming a US citizen

Today, September 20 2012, is the last day of my Indian citizenship.
Tomorrow I’ll be taking the oath of loyalty and citizenship for the
United States of America.

I have always believed that India is my janma bhoomi (birth land) and
US my karma bhoomi (land of work). I adopted the US more than 11 years
back, but today I’m reflecting on what it means now that this country
is adopting me. I came here as a clueless 21 year old who was told to
go to the US for higher education and a better standard of living. I
think we upper middle class Indian 21 year olds are really less mature than
Americans of the same age. I lived with my parents, ate my Mom’s home
made meals, had home service for cleaning, laundry and what not. I
would barely lift a finger except for some bare minimum amount of
studying to go to college and get a Bachelors degree. Life was all
about enjoying with friends and almost zero responsibilities. Until
one day I graduated and came to the US with my entire life packed in
2 suitcases. Quite a drastic reality check happened at this point.
There was no one to help here, just some equally clueless friends at
the University. I went from being a pampered daughter to a 4am front
desk shift worker at the library in a matter of one week. Yes, that
was my first job ever. My first pay check totaled a whole $74 after 2
weeks, but the dollars left me as quickly as they found me. There were books,
groceries and rent waiting to be paid. Luckily for me I had the
support of my family and a scholarship which helped pay for school.
Now, 11 years later, I make several digits more than that and don’t
think twice before spending $74. And for that, I am thankful to this
country. It’s isn’t just economical growth that I’ve found here, I
have learned a lot of lessons, formed life long memories and grown
into a versatile woman in her thirties.

What I like the most about this country is its forgiveness for
failure. Everyone gets a second, third, fourth, nth chance here.
Failures are not judged and carved on your forehead. They are
gracefully embraced, learned from and put behind. At any point, I can
decide to change paths, change careers, change my lifestyle and no one
will stop me. Maybe no one cares. Or maybe every one is supportive.
It’s a matter of perspective. And that’s the beauty of the US. If I am
optimistic this place will come together to help reach my goals. If I
am cynical and want to find fault in everything, there are enough
movies I can critique while being a couch potato. Everything is
supported and anything goes.

Does this mean I’m happier being a US citizen? I don’t think that
question has a clear Yes or No answer. My favorite music is still from
bollywood, but a saxophone’s jazz tunes can get me moving too. I still
dig out the best Chaat in any town but boy! do I relish that tiramisu.
I will still watch cricket all night long over super bowl, but I will
also gaze up dreamily as fireworks light up the 4th of July sky. Maybe
then I am a citizen of both the countries. Unfortunately, that luxury
does not exist officially. Just the way we never stop loving our true
first love, I can never stop thinking of myself as an Indian. I am
thankful to India for planting the seeds and am thankful to the US for
raising me up to make me who I am. The two countries are my two
parents. One who nurtured and sheltered, and the other who gave me
wings to fly and explore. One who gave me the freedom to grow beyond
what I had imagined and one who found me a settling point.

India gave me the roots, the senses, the education and the blood that
flows in my veins. US gave me the personality, the ethics, the work
and the dream that sparkles in my eyes. My husband, my daughter, my
friends, my home, my US. My parents, my town, my people, my home, my
India. When I go to India next, I will cross international boundaries
as a Person of Indian Origin, but I will be going home to sleep
in my comforting bed. And when I come back to the US as a citizen, I
will still be going home to sleep in my comforting bed. Whether
I look at the moon from here or there, here’s hoping that the comfort
of home never fades in either place.

Buying local and eating organic

Most of you know my love for gardening, eating organic and natural foods. While I try to grow most things, I do have to buy some vegetables and fruits. Whole Foods and Sprouts are great, but they are sometimes over priced and do not always have locally grown foods.

Here are more pictures from my home garden.

One way to reduce our carbon footprint is to buy from local farms, hence reducing the resources spent on transportation, storage, preserving, etc.. This also supports our local economy and increases our self sustenance. Besides, locally grown food is relatively fresh as it is mostly plucked after ripening on the tree. Foods shipped from farther away are sometimes picked before maturity, artifically ripened or in the case of picking after maturity, a lot of resources are spent on storing/ preserving them and keeping them from rotting.

In addition, several local farms grown organically. I know “organic” has become a debated term, so I will say that they are pesticide/ insecticide free. They may or not be from Genetically Modified seeds (GMO). They are also, usually, free of chemical fertilizers.

Well, so why am I going on and on? Getting to the point now – If you would like to buy local, here’s a great website that lists where to go. For those of us in Arizona: http://pickyourown.org/AZ.htm

They are missing one really cool one: http://farmstandagritopia.blogspot.com/
They have the best melt-in-your-mouth Mejdool dates ever!

There are also Co-ops you can join, where in you get a selection of fruits and vegetables on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly basis. Here is one: http://www.bountifulbaskets.org/

For additional Organic/ Fair Trade Food sources within Arizona: http://www.organicconsumers.org/state/greenbiz.cfm?state=AZ&type=food

If you have other contacts, please let me know. I’d love to hear abt them.

Happy International Integration Day

Lets call today “International Integration Day.”

Today, on the eve of a remorseful September 11, the world is immersed in profound emotions, when some barely got done with Mother Mary’s birthday celebration, some are welcoming a new year with Rosh Hashanah, some bidding farewell to a favorite month and giving thanks with Eid ul-Fitr, some are singing Happy Birthday to Lord Ganesha with Ganesh Chaturthi and some are asking for forgiveness with Michhami Dukkadam. As each individual group plays its part with reverence to its own God, our integrated world plays a balancing act of happiness and sadness.

We are famous!

Woooohooooo! Ola blogs about my art class students and their wonderful giraffes. Yayyyyyy!! Thank you Ola at One Million Giraffes. Everyone here was so happy when I told them about this! We send Ola huge hugs and much luck for the last 70k! Not too far to go. 🙂

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Here’s Ola’s generous blog post about us.

Update: Aug 24, 2010:
Congrats to Ola! There are now One Million Giraffes with 129 days to spare.

Find your identity and your legacy

Warning: Rant ahead!

Everyday I drink tea, different kinds, and the tea bags have a thought written on them. Yeah, the quirky me collects these tea bag tags. So today’s message is, “It’s important to find your identity and your legacy.” I read that, took a sip of the gratifying green tea and let out a deep sigh! Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Now, lets get to finding the identity. Hehehe! 🙂

For the last few days I have been dreaming (while sleeping and not) of getting away. You know the vagabond style. The sit on train tops and watch the scenery types, explore the country side types, with no particular destination types, no return date types, walk, walk and walk types, mingle with the locals types, ohhhh! but how hard it is to do that! With work and home, even such a trip would have to be planned. Ugh! Defeats the purpose, no? Like I wish I could just get up and leave today. Oh no! But I can’t! I have to tell my manager when I will come back, I have to figure how many days will be PTO and how many unpaid, I have to tell my gardener to water the plants for me, even pay him extra for that, I have to make sure all the tax filing for the month is take care of in advance, so much planning! so much baggage! I know! I know! Once we have kids, I can kiss such dreams goodbye for ever. So if I have to do it, I have to now! Can I? Will I? Should I? How? Where? When? No, No, No, I don’t want to plan…. I just want to fly away.