How #blogging started for me #guestpost

Hi All!

I’m happy to have a guestpost on my blog today by Shalz, one of the most strong-minded bloggers I know you will call a spade a spade. I love the topics she writes on, be it body shaming or taking people to task for their hypocrisy. Her foodie and travel posts are to die for. Read on as she shared how her blogging journey blossomed. This is part of a guestpost marathon in December where few bloggers have come together to support each other as a community.

My blogging journey

I stumbled on the word blog in the year 2009 when I had just moved cities and was going through a terrible time in my then relationship. Bangalore was new and exciting to me with its avenues of touristy stuff to discover plus new friends to make in the city.
I was also terrible lonely and miserable; hence taking off alone for long walks to discover museums, heritage trials, food memorabilia, photo treks was some things I took up most enthusiastically.

Folks around me marvelled at my effort and suggested me to keep a diary of it all; kinda a photo album of sorts which I could show around too. That’s when the idea of an online diary struck me quite hard and I started to research “blog”.

I made a really “cool” looking blog on Word press as it was free and I loved the themes plus the navigation was pretty simple and easy to a tech retard like me. That’s it – I just started chronicling down my daily trips on it with great enthu and shared them via emails with friends and family who were keen to read about it.

Cut to 2016 when I first heard about AtoZ challenge for bloggers and that’s when I realised that my blog was not even a drop in the ocean. Through networking via twitter, I came in contact with loads of bloggers – pros in their fields; many of them quite keen to help a newbie like me. That’s when the world of self-hosted / SEO/ tail words / alt tags / and what not opened up to me and I also got a crash understanding of graphic related softwares and how to create good looking content for my blog posts.

For the first seven years of blogging I was winging it away without worrying about monetizing and influencer tricks. And I didn’t think I was doing too badly either though the traffic on my blog was dismal to say the least.

Thanks to the helpful blogging community, I soon got some understanding of the crucial SEO stuff and started to implement it as best as I could. I also read up some tutorials to dress up the blog, played with themes and finally chose one that looked the best to me. I haven’t really invested in my blog by way of themes, fonts, graphics- been using all free stuff; so my customizing options have been limited.

Only money I have spent is in community hosting via a web host company which gives me a piece of internet real estate in terms of a blog home.

I did think making money would be easy and the best career option; but soon hit earth when I realised that 99% of brands will give you “free” stuff but won’t pay a dime for the content you generate and spend time and skill on. I think very few lucky ones are successful in making substantial money this way.

Two years of scrambling around finally gave me the knowledge that this is not a steady career option for me nor am I looking to fill my home with “free” items of little or no worth.

Now I blog with a free mind to satiate my love for writing; which is the original intent of keeping an online diary for me.

Are you a blogger who makes good money or are you like me fed up of the freebies and free offers?Whats your blogging experience like?

About Shalzmojo

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An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.
Pls do check out my post Your writing sucks!!
This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo

Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love
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Thank you, wholesome food! #ThankfulThursdays

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Every time I see the Snickers commercial, the diva-like tantrums thrown by the cute college boys make me smile. The tagline Hunger acche accho ko badal deta hai has certainly been written intelligently. Hunger entails lot more than craving for food and someone who has felt those pangs can understand that perfectly. Thanking food for the role it plays in our lives is hence one of the deepest forms of gratitude.
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Food is essentially for nutrition but its benefits run far ahead than filling our tummies. It helps us bond with our family, friends and neighbours, it is a way to show we love and care for someone, it is a silent apology, a celebration and a form of appreciation, it is the love of creation and presentation of something precious, it is the one thing that knows no borders and, going by the numerous cookery shows on television, it is a career option that didn’t popularly exist until a few years ago.

Given that my Mom was a super-fabulous cook, I being a foodie would hardly be surprising. Ours being a Marwari household, achars, papads, laddoos etc. had a permanent place in our kitchen store while dollops of ghee regularly made its way to our chapattis and dal chawal. It wasn’t just about heavy food though. Fruits, salads, lentils and the compulsory glass of milk in the morning kept us healthy and fit. I try to inculcate the same habits in my kids too.

I believe in respecting food for the nourishment and fulfilment it gives us while never forgetting how blessed we are to experience them. Every time my kids want to leave uneaten food on their plate I tell them it is Anna Devta ka apmaan to do so. The gluttony and ignorance of teenage have given way to moderation and watchful eating of approaching midlife. I’ve seen enough health-issues around me directly contributed by lethargy and bad food habits.

Is the food served to us on a platter the only form of food though? Like our body, our mind and soul need food and nourishment in the form of positive and motivational thoughts which can be achieved through inclination towards spirituality. A healthy mind in a healthy body, hence both eating and exercising right are crucial. As a blogger and writer I have a steady diet of extensive reading in any medium on various topics and genres.

On any gloomy day I don my apron and enter the kitchen with a vengeance. Cooking is my therapy and I pamper myself lavishly. A perfectly raised cake or impeccably seasoned gravy gives me immense joy. Exploring the wide diversity in vegetarian food is my hobby. If my well-received food posts on Instagram are anything to go by, I find food blogging a tempting venture. What better way to thank food for the role it plays in my life than giving it an exclusive place, right?

Linking this with Amrita and Tina for #ThankfulThursdays

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Thank You, my lovely family! #ThankfulThursdays

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As I write this Angel is on her toy phone calling up her cousin and inquiring about his day at school, patronising him and informing him that she has a tiger (placard) in her school. She isn’t attached with A Jr in the same way, I’m afraid. As kids the concept of extended family or even not related by blood family is hard to understand, isn’t it? The whole world is one happy place and everyone who is good to us is part of our family.
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We were a nuclear family but were brought up in a set up where eating, playing and even sleeping in neighbours’ homes was a commonly accepted practice. Househelps didn’t just do chores, they were trusted enough to look after our homes and kids while our mothers had their building wali kitty party. The neighbourhood kirana owner knew us well and allowed us kids to pick up anything from his shop after noting it down.

Such was my Dad’s clout, that I sometimes got reprimanded by complete strangers for speeding up my Kinetic in teenage years. Since I was the only girl in the Mechanical engineering course, my teachers were especially caring and protective for me. My hostel warden during my post-graduate days, who admonished and pampered equally, was no less than a mother to me.

My grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and a whole gang of cousins made every simple occasion special and memorable. Thank you, each and every one of you. It was because of you that I had to watch over my shoulder all the time, wasn’t lonely when I was alone and felt looked after even in a new place and city.

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When I remember so many different people who enriched and enlightened my life, can you presume how priced my own family would be for me? I was blessed with the most broad-minded and loving parents in the world who trusted me blindly and gave me a free hand in doing whatever I wanted with my life. My brother, with his wicked sense of humour, is my biggest silent support. I had to scold him to stop making me laugh at my own bidaai and not make a spectacle of me. Imagine! :-/ 😀

The three gems of my life, my three As, are my mirror and my reflection. Never before did I feel as complete in my life as I feel around them. In many ways, they’ve made me a better person. While A brought some much-needed stability in my otherwise hassled life, both my babies give me reason to smile and count my blessings everyday. No amount of gratitude can make up for this precious feeling. God is smiling fondly at me. ❤ ❤ ❤

We don’t get to choose where and which family we’re going to be sent to. The ones born with a silver spoon or the ones who have to fend for their lunch from a young age, everyone has issues. I agree not all families are perfect. We all have our good, bad and insanely ugly days. What matters is how we deal with and get past them. Remember, whether it is a glittery Diwali puja or a decorated Christmas tree, a family makes any celebration worthwhile.

Linking this with Amrita and Tina for #ThankfulThursdays

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Even in my worst I’m best with you, Yeah! #ThankfulThursdays

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We never know when, where and how we will run into them. We may take a fair amount of time to completely decipher what ticks them. We will have our share of furious disagreements with them. We may be as different from them as chalk and cheese.

Yet, being with them will assure us that we belong.  They will be the ones we seek out whenever we’re in distress or need a shoulder to cry on. These all-purpose, all-weather and all-relations-inclusive people can be no other than our friends! 🙂

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I was always affable, yet making friends was never easy for me. I was over-sensitive, insecure, and found it exceedingly difficult to take any teenage fun pranks on my chin. My self-consciousness would’ve driven me into agonizing isolation but for some precious people who came my way and held my hand, never to leave it.

During every stage of life I was blessed with at least one person who helped me grapple the challenges life chose to throw at me. I see a tiny reflection of each one of them in my personality. Refuting body shaming thoughts, standing my ground under any circumstances, grieving but moving on in life and most of all, believing in myself and my capabilities was what they hammered into my mind, albeit affectionately.

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G deserves a special mention in this #ThankYouNote post. I met this fireball when I was in seventh grade. We lived in different cities and had little in common but the moment we met, we became best friends. He was everything I was not; confident, jovial, effervescent and famous. He was as protective of me as I was in awe of him. We fought and made up, everyday. However, like fire and ice we couldn’t exist together for long. 😀

Twenty three years later, we still haven’t grown out of that phase. Although confessions about crushes are now replaced with those of spouses and kids and instead of sneaking out for movies we now look forward to spending time alone with friends, we know that our relationship is far from any pretence. There are no screens between us. He was the first person to suggest professional writing to me and has never allowed me think less of myself. Thank you, G. I owe you a lot. ❤

Ours was an arranged marriage but A is no different from my college mates who pulled my leg at every given opportunity. Even though he’s a husband and a father now, he goofs around the house with the kids in tow. We dance, sing and watch cartoons together. Would it be a cliché if I say that my family is my friend? I had a beautiful relationship with my mother and wish to have the same with my kids. Mom will send me her blessings, I’m sure. 🙂

With this post I’m also trying to convey my gratitude to all those who’ve stood with me through thick and thin, have suffered and survived my unpredictable temperaments, have counselled me countless times (without getting paid for it, ouch! 😛 ) and are still just a call away. You are all my favourite people. What would I do without you? ❤

P.S : Nothing else drives the point home better than FRIENDS Quotes. Agree? 🙂

Linking this with Amrita and Tina for #ThankfulThursdays

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Does your lock make you think, How Safe Are You?

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Home is where we come back to at the end of the day for comfort and security but paying enough attention to whether our home is safe to live in is just as important. It takes the smallest slip on our part and all things valuable to us, including our lives, can be ransacked by robbers who are always lurking around trying to find and sizing up their next target.
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With this in mind, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems initiated a brilliant campaign #HowSafeAreYou on 15th November calling it #HomeSafetyDay, at the Hubble Office, Plant 13, Vikhroli. They released three videos, made with reformed real robbers, to enable us unlock the working of a robber’s mind. This is a digital campaign, and I was glad to be invited to be a part of the event as an influencer and share their vision.

The Panel Discussion

The impressive panel was an eclectic mix of personalities from different fields. Dr. Kaminidevi Bhoir – honorary Psychiatric Counsellor for Mumbai Police, Mr.Vivek Agrawal – veteran crime journalist and author, Mr. Shyam Motwani – EVP & Head of Business, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems, Mr. Prakash Borgaonkar – Western Region Head of Helpage India and Mr. Supreet Sudhakaran, a robbery victim.

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After a compiled video of a robber’s mindset was shown to us, an affable Sujit Patil, VP & Head Corporate Communications, invited the panelists and introduced them to the audience. We listened with rapt attention as they shared wonderful insights on how small negligence on our part can be the one opportunity robbers are waiting for to strike us.

Mr.Vivek Agrawal, who has interacted with criminals closely, elaborated that nothing is taboo for them and their cruelty can be unimaginable. Their modus operandi is simple yet effective and a naïve mind can fall prey to it easily.

Dr.Kaminidevi Bhoir, the panel’s psychology expert, shared the concept of Kleptomania- an Impulse control disorder and that robbers are not murderers but can turn into one if someone becomes a hurdle for them.

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(L-R) Mr.Vivek Agrawal, Mr.Shyam Motwani, Mr.Sujit Patil, Dr.Kaminidevi Bhoir, Mr.Prakash Borgaonkar and Mr.Supreet Sudhakaran

Mr.Prakash Borgaonkar explained that increasing occurrences of attacks on senior citizens stems from their loneliness and trustworthy nature and makes them easy targets for familiar people like house-helps, watchmen and other helpers.

Mr.Shyam Motwani, the technical expert in the panel, discussed the evolution of Godrej lever locks to the current sophisticated ones. He spoke of advanced security systems that rely on biometric and digital data and can unlock without turning keys for patients with diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and can send notifications through an sms in case of a break-in.

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This was followed by a good Q&A session and Hi-tea for the attendees. Interacting with fellow bloggers was enjoyable as always. We also received this lovely goodie bag as a takeaway.

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Important points to consider:

~ Investing in a good lock isn’t a choice, it is a requirement.

~ Frequently changing personnel like security guards, house-helps etc must be avoided. Register them and make sure they do their jobs vigilantly.

~ Keep an eye out for any markings on your house or presence of unauthorised CCTV cameras in front of your doors.

~ Thumbprints on biometric locks must be wiped out after use.

~ Stray dogs can be our silent protectors and inexpensive alarms. Don’t ward them off.

~ Like our phones, television sets and other technical gadgets, updating our security system should also be a priority.

~ Duplicating keys or purchase of locks must not be delegated and should be carried out ourselves.

Home safety is of utmost importance and deserves only the best security solutions. Next time you hand over your home keys to someone or plan for a long vacation, stop for a moment and ask yourself, #HowSafeAreYou?

You can watch the video here:

Writers, Words and Brevity

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When Twitter increased its character limit to 280, it drew sharp reactions from around the world. The funny thing, however, was that while most people claimed to despise the new expanded space and proved it by stuffing it with junk and spam messages in the beginning, soon they started utilising the opportunity to write complete sentences, present refined ideas well and combine short threads into one.

I wasn’t tempted to react in the extreme, either way. I’ve woken up to the Twitter world only recently even though my account is a few years old. I’m not very proficient in using social media, which, much to my dismay is a blogger handicap. The fact that my blog followers still outweigh all my social media followers combined is a huge encouragement that my writing touches someone enough to want to come back for more.

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Coming back to the character limit, one thing that disappointed me was that brevity of people with the best things to say went for a toss, big time. For long posts there are blogs. Tweets must be short and crisp. I believe in the weight and value of words. Words should be used sparingly but effectively. The skill of a writer isn’t tested with how ornamental his language is, what matters is whether a reader can remain glued to his piece or not.

Until I started freelance writing, keeping a tab on the number of words in a blogpost never occurred to me. I wrote what I had to and kept writing to my heart’s content till I was done. Bound by a word limit, sometimes I feel doing slight injustice to the topic at hand. Well, what can we do! Kudos to writers disciplined to write thousands of meaningful words, with a complete story in place.

What is your take on it? Are you a Twitter person? Do you like long posts or short ones? Anything at all, let me know about it in the comments section!

Thank you, Home! #ThankfulThursdays

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It is said that we don’t realise the importance of anything until we don’t crave and strive for it enough. While this might be true with regard to umpteen things, as a Navi Mumbaikar who had been on the prowl for the right abode for a long time, I can currently relate it perfectly with having a home that we can come back to everyday, which is filled with positivity and which is ours.

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For a woman, having a home she has decorated and defined herself is almost as important as the family that resides in it. Right from selecting the perfect shade for the walls and the type of furniture to bath and bed linen essentials, she wants only the best for it. After all, a home is lot more than a roof over the head. It is where one tries to find comfort and relaxation after a long day.

This prompt couldn’t have come at a better time, since thankfulness for a home of our choice has sincerely been on our minds of late. Even after saving enough and getting all the financials in place getting a home was proving difficult for us, mainly because I didn’t want to settle for a typical Mumbai apartment which leaves little scope for privacy and fresh air. Thankfully, God was listening to me ! 🙂

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Next six months are going to be the most eventful and exciting in our lives because the keys to our new home are going to be handed over to us soon and all the painting and furniture work will begin there. We’ve been frequenting home décor showrooms over the weekend and locking horns over stuff that is required right away and which can be put on a backburner for a year or so.

Our discussions fast become spirited and loud but what I love the most is A’s participation and excitement for it. From suggesting fake grass for our bedroom balcony and keeping a small barbeque set there to getting textured walls or a wallpaper and putting up enlarged framed photographs of both kids in their room, he is giving excellent helpful inputs! I forget this is probably his dream too?

After moving in and out of rented places for last eleven years, the thought of growing roots is very heartening. Finally, I and the kids can rejoice at the fact that we belong somewhere and not mentally calculate the time till we have to give up on a temporary home and new friends yet again. Permanence is one thing that has been gravely missing from our lives till date.

Thank you, my new home, for filling my heart with joy and giving me something new to dream about everyday. I can’t wait to come and live in you! ❤

Linking this with Amrita and Tina for #ThankfulThursdays

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Thank You, dear Health #ThankfulThursdays

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Health is a word that gets associated with us right from the time we step into this world to the time we breathe our last. Some people relate it to a healthy lifestyle while some erroneously assume absence of disease as being healthy. Whatever the case, one cannot ignore the fact that it greatly influences the quality of time we’ve spent on this planet in more ways than we normally care to accept.

In past few years there has been a sharp increase in lifestyle diseases in people belonging to different financial strata alike. Increase in healthcare facilities has also seen a rise in the cost and availability of affordable treatment, which further stresses the importance of maintaining good health. Isn’t it easier and advisable to take proactive steps towards it then?

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Couple of years ago I lost my mother to prolonged illness aggravated by renal complications arising due to years of diabetes and heart health issues, despite the fact that she took good care of herself for most part. Last year I lost a cousin of mine, who was in his mid-forties, to cancer. Until the tumour got detected he was known to exercise for an hour and a half daily and eat moderately, so presumably healthy. Two deaths in the family in quick succession are enough to rattle anyone, aren’t they?

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Belonging to and married into a family that has been battling with health issues makes one vigilant about their own health from a young age. This is not to say that I’m in the pink of my health, although I would give myself credit for identifying problem areas and taking (if only) baby steps towards correcting them.

I’m not a qualified professional but some things can be understood and expected to work wonders even without being certified to do so. Here are a few things which have helped me and I hope will be of use to you too.

~ ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’ is true, and so is vice versa. Positive thoughts can make you go a long way in feeling fit.

~ Healthy food is your best friend but occasional indulgences won’t harm you either.

~ There is no alternative to sweating it out. Choose what works for you, a sport, a jog, enrolling in a gym, power yoga, etc and stick to it.

~ Don’t shy away from making drastic changes in your lifestyle, slowly and surely. It won’t be easy but worth it.

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I’m thankful to my health today:

~for making me strong and not being dependent on anyone to get by.

~for two happy and uncomplicated pregnancies and normal deliveries.

~for being able to set an example to my kids and motivating them to exercise.

~for encouraging me to keep temptations at bay yet eat good food.

~for making me feel younger, fitter and more beautiful than ever.

~ for the flexibility and stamina to push my limits and surprise myself with what I’m capable of doing.

and finally,

~for proving that health issues don’t run in the family. Personal care can change that perception.

Are you thankful for being blessed with good health or are you working towards achieving it? Do share your thoughts and comments with me.

Linking this with Amrita and Tina for #ThankfulThursdays

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The Party #FridayFotoFiction

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“You know I don’t like this ‘Work hard, Party harder’ lifestyle.” he had carped under his breath. She had heard it anyway.

“You cannot tell me what to do. I haven’t asked you how to conduct my life. We aren’t having this conversation again, ever!” she had blasted at him and banged the door hard enough to rattle the entire neighbourhood.

This happened a month ago but was etched on her mind, fresh and clear.

Could she forget that some drunken eve-teasers had cornered her and her friends that night passed lewd comments and tried to assault them?

That when she called him he alerted the cops and promptly reached there to help them?

Couldn’t he use his classic “I told you so” to reprimand?

No, he couldn’t. Fathers aren’t made that way. They love their princesses.

Another party was planned today. Shopping for it didn’t seem too exciting though.

Linking this with Mayuri and Tina for #FridayFotoFiction

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5 untold things about Motherhood #MondayMommyMoments

 

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I belong to the generation that has been witness to some of the most life-altering situations in terms of social perceptions. From seeing our homemaker mothers at our beck and call all day and having our fathers perform few household chores, we are acclimatising ourselves to the changing equations where both parents are bread-earners and share the entire load equally.

Motherhood, hence, has also seen a drastic change in its approach and responsibilities over time. True, like always we have a whole lot of unsolicited advice pouring in right from the time that stick shows two lines to the time we’re prepared to marry our kids off. Yet, we’ve now come to acknowledge the fact that pampering and canoodling our kids isn’t entirely what motherhood is all about. We can and we do a lot more than that.

Despite knowing that every mother’s journey is special and unique, I would like to share certain things I’ve learnt from my experience of raising two kids, mostly with no extra set of hands for help.

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I feel terribly guilty now for all the eye-rolling and silent sniggering when I was leaving home for higher studies and my Mom wept uncontrollably while letting me go. Just sending a toddler A Jr to school made me realise that separation anxiety is a real thing in mothers, although the intensity might change for individuals. Dealing with it can be challenging but one cannot feign being untouched by it.

Children today appreciate being treated as equals and are more matured and understanding than we were at their age. While our education system doesn’t take practical learning into consideration much, as mothers we need to introduce them to concepts like handling money, personal security, good touch and bad touch, etc at an early age while not letting them get overwhelmed and feeling reasonably accountable.

I loved keeping a diary as a teenager, a practice which seems I was into eons ago. That time, however, is safely nestled between those pages and a peek into them once a while makes me go all mushy and nostalgic. Imagine having your kids’ precious childhood carefully preserved through photographs, a diary or a blog and being your companion in old age when they’ve flown away from the nest! Yes, motherhood will make you love keepsakes more than ever.

People unfairly expect motherhood as an excuse to harbour prejudice for you regarding matters that do not concern them. Whether you go to work leaving your toddler behind or take a career break to willingly tiptoe around it, you are going to be judged. Everything you do will be scrutinised with scant respect for your everyday hardships. All you can do is develop a thick skin and learn to shrug it off nonchalantly. Whatever you choose to do, never ever regret it.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but motherhood isn’t all sweet and rosy. Some days you wish you hadn’t put yourself in this situation (of course you don’t mean it) while some days you want to fast forward a few years of your life to a time when your kids will be independent and won’t need you round the clock. Be assured, you’re not in this alone. These thoughts run through every mother’s mind at some point in her life. Not everyone accepts it though.

Do you identify with any of these points? Do leave a comment and let me know. 🙂

Linking this with Amrita and Deepa for #MondayMommyMoments

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