Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I Can't Hurry Love

At Cedar Point with Greg. I'd learn he was very scared of roller coasters so we rode small rides all day. Ah, the things you do for love.


I was still bopping to the sounds of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice on the silent car ride home. My first junior high dance was in the books and a TOTAL success. The harem pants from Express were perfect for doing the Running Man and Roger Rabbit until I was out of breath. I cannot believe a circle formed around me! I felt like Paula Abdul! Even a few EIGHTH GRADERS came up to tell me I'm an "awesome" dancer! Whew, such a great time! But, it had to come to an end when I saw Mummy walk in to the gym to pick me up...

"Uh, bheta?" Mummy said with furrowed brows.

"Yes, Mummy?"

"I saw some of those girls and boys... dancing close..."

"Uh huh..."

"And girls sitting on boys laps."


"Well.. Sheevu, WE don't do that, okay?"

"UGH! Mummyyyy!"

"No, you're too young, Sheevani!"

"The kids you saw are going together! Like boyfriend girlfriend."

"How the school can allow that?!" She mumbled something else in Gujurati through gritted teeth.

"Mummy, it's not a big deal!"

"School is for studies!! Not boys!"

We sat in silence. I'd had versions of these conversations with my parents before, so it wasn't surprising to hear what Mummy was saying, only this time her words were coated with more urgency and worry. It was as if she was forced onto a stage to give a speech well before her lines were memorized. In an effort to not let this escalate into a shouting match (something my family always tended to do), I decided to change the subject.

"I think I got a 100% on my pre-algebra quiz today."

"THIS is why all these girls get pregnant! This is what is wrong with America!"

I guess we're not changing the subject. Her hands were gripping the steering wheel for dear life and her eyes were darting around with panic. There was no going back now, she was in it.

"Okay, GOD!! I didn't even say I wanted a boyfriend!!"

"At the salon, I hear about these things, okay? I know more than you, Sheevani."

"Mummy, you don't understand because you didn't grow up here! This isn't India where the girls and boys are separated!"

"Doesn't matter! You just concentrate on your studies, bheta. After college, then you can think about that stuff."

"AFTER COLLEGE?!? I have to wait that long?"

"You are not in school to do this dating dating stuff! School is only for studies!"

Eh, what was the point of arguing? Not that a lack of a point ever stopped me before, but I didn't want the buzz of my first dance to wear off because of this conversation. I mean, the relevance of this subject doesn't even apply to me since the thought of having a boyfriend freaks me out. Better to save my energy for when this actually matters... so for now, I'll just stop... collaborate and listen.


I didn't experience my first love until the age of 19, during my sophomore year at Michigan State University. I arrived on campus excited to return to the freedom of college life as well as redeem myself after a mediocre academic performance my freshman year. My mind was also occupied with awakening my forever dormant love life. Freshman year had proven to be the year where I made a lot of guy friends, but romance was in weak supply. There were a couple of attempts at dating, but my lack of experience with the opposite sex and the insecurity that caused only led to many (wonderful) platonic bonds. I mean, I really loved my guy friends, but during my 2nd year, I was hoping to find a relationship deeper than analyzing R.E.M lyrics.

My arms were juggling a poorly packed box of disorganized belongings when I first saw him. We were in the back parking lot of Gilchrist Hall where droves of students and parents were maneuvering around each other carrying boxes, mini-fridges, TVs, desktop computers and Yaffa Blocks. It was brief, but time slowed as he walked by me and I immediately noticed everything about him. "Whoa, some hotties in the dorm this year," I thought. Historical evidence shoved the next thought into my brain which was that I'd never stand a chance with someone like him, and I'd probably fight waves of jealousy seeing him with numerous pretty girls all year. "Ah well, I'm used to it," I thought.

Crush Crazy

My first crush happened in 7th grade. I had never felt as distracted by a boy as much as I had with Tim, and it hit me like a bolt of lightening. He was tall and funny with a wide smile and bright blue eyes. I suppose you could characterize him as the "all-American" boy and this little brown girl was all about it. I found myself trying to catch his eye, raising the volume of my voice in his presence with some interesting rehearsed dialogue or racing to be next to him in the lunch line. None of this was reciprocated, mind you, but that didn't matter to me. I knew I didn't want to be his "girlfriend" per se, but these feelings were exciting and definitely made school something to look forward to. That is until my friend asked if he thought I was cute one morning before first hour. She knew I had a crush on him and said, "Wait here! I'm going to see if he likes you!" Before I could protest she was off and my only choice was to peek around a locker to watch the interaction unfold like a silent movie. His answer came in the form of an expression consistent with smelling a fart. The crush dissipated slowly after that and then completely disappeared when he told me I had "E.T. hands" in science.

By the time high school rolled around, I had a crush streak on numerous cuties for the entirety of my four years. Sometimes they would overlap and other times I would fixate on one guy. There were a couple crushes that lasted from freshman to senior year that ebbed and flowed depending on who else was on the roster. My type remained that typical all-American boy who was both popular and unattainable. There was no agenda to these crushes other than to make my days in school a bit more bright and tingly. Since my parents were pretty strict with all things dating, I felt crushing on those impossible guys would cushion any disappointment of them not like-liking me back. "I wouldn't be able to date them anyway - so what if they aren't interested?!" At Kimball High School, a weird egalitarianism existed when it came to popularity. There was no distinct division between the jocks and guys who participated in the arts. Often times the captain of the soccer team was also the lead in the school play, or the wrestling champ had a solo in the choir concert... and I crushed on all of them - from the popular drama club guy to the popular tennis player guy. The one thing they all had in common was their complete indifference to yours truly.

G.S + S.D = 💗

Turns out that guy I saw on moving day was the younger brother of one of those platonic friends from freshman year. I had heard about Greg from his brother, but of course he left out how dreamy he was! I was so excited that I had an "in", but being the brother of a friend and living in the same dorm could be complicated. Even knowing the risks, I couldn't help but feel an electricity when he entered a room. If he talked to me, I'd try to be cool but jumbled my dumb words and sounded like an idiot. I was secretly hoping he'd be a jerk so that the impending rejection would actually be a relief, but no such luck; he was incredibly sweet, genuine and charming. Yeah, I had it BAD for Greg.

The idea of bagging Greg seemed as implausible as any of the dudes I crushed on in high school. I was sure that, at most, we'd become friends and I'd have yet another platonic dude to add to my collection. I'd often imagine hanging out with him and his eventual hot girlfriend while I'd jealously sit there shrugging my shoulders at the predictability of it all. Nothing in my dismal dating past told me that this tall, blonde, athletic, self-assured dude would want anything to do with me and I came to believe that as a fact of life.

Only, being away from my parents and having the freedom to spend a lot of time with this guy could change those odds, right? Since my feelings weren't going away and despite my insecurities, I went full-court press on my pursuit. Most of our interactions were in a group setting, which was perfect for my level of game; I had no moves, I had no technique, I didn't know the right pathways that avoided friend-zone traps - I knew nothing. Amazingly, my clueless approach worked. By the time the leaves had all turned to the brilliant shades of autumn in Michigan, Greg and I were inseparable.

He was my first... everything. I'm not sure I was prepared for the sheer intensity of those unfamiliar emotions, but I gladly dove into all of them. He was all I thought about and minutes away from him seemed like hours trapped in molasses. It was all the ooey-gooey feelings for which I had longed and I couldn't believe they were coming true. I couldn't get enough of Greg and he couldn't get enough of me.

Leading up to the first Christmas break after we became a couple, Greg was understandably concerned that I had not told my parents about our relationship. He was aware of their outlook on dating from our many conversations, but he also made it clear that he wasn't a fan of being a secret. As a first generation Indian-American, I'd seen my fair share of secret relationships amongst my friends in the community. Dating happened under the guise of various cover-ups, from study groups to extra-curricular school activities... basically if the lie included some sort of academic diversion, it was a fail-safe. Even though it made my stomach lurch with anxiety, I loved Greg too much to keep him a secret, so I decided to tell my parents over the break.

My dad sat in silence and my mom sheepishly nodded after I said the words out loud. By Desai family standards, the conversation was a success; there was no yelling or unreasonable assumptions or tangents. My parents absorbed the information calmly but also without a hint of what they were feeling. My mom suggested that we invite Greg over to our house so they could meet him and my dad agreed by not moving a muscle, no doubt fixating on the fact that this Greg boy lived in the same dorm as his only daughter.

"I almost threw up on the way over here," Greg said under his breath as I held the screen door open for him. My parents greeted him with smiles and awkward handshakes. The details of that first visit are fuzzy, but suffice it to say, it went completely fine and everyone was on their best behavior. For our entire relationship, my dad was never very warm towards Greg and many years later he'd express regret about that. "Beecharo," my dad would say which is Gujurati for "poor guy." This first love was a learning experience for all of us, my parents included. To his credit, Greg handled it all like a champ, which only made my love for him grow. He didn't quite understand the rules, especially after he had proven to be a great person, but he never once expressed any disrespect toward my parents.

We stayed together for 3 years. The end of our relationship was not messy or the result of betrayal, but rather the realization that perhaps we weren't each other's best match for the long run. I called my brother immediately after Greg and I broke up. Even though it was a mutual split, I was devastated. "Was it another girl or something?" Sheel asked as I was struggling to speak through sobs. "No, nothing like that... we've just grown apart and... (sob sob sob) we don't think... (sob sob sob) there's a real future for us.. (bwahahahah)!" Just as Sheel was impressed that I was open to our parents about my relationship with Greg, he was impressed with the mature outlook that caused our break-up. "Well, that sounds like a really smart way to think about it.. I mean, better to realize that now." I knew Sheel was right and I knew Greg and I were done, but I couldn't help but mourn my first real love and how much I'd miss him.

About a year after we broke up, Greg emailed to let me know he was bringing his new girlfriend to a wedding we were both attending. My heart raced as I read his words and it was all I thought about for the rest of the day, week.. pretty much every minute until the wedding. I went over to a friend's house, sprawled on her couch and tried to understand what I was feeling. Upset? No. Jealous? No. Panic that I'd need to find my own date for the wedding? A little. Ultimately, I think it was just a finality to our relationship that comes with any first love... he'd moved on. Of course it also stung that I was totally single without any prospects on the horizon. At any rate, his email allowed me to be perfectly prepared to see him with another person. At the reception, I made sure to thank him for that. We had agreed to always look out for each other after we broke up and he certainly did with that gesture. It was a compassionate way for me to get closure.


Looking back on my relationship with Greg, I can't help but be so thankful. Those love-less years prior to meeting him, I had no clue what value I could bring to a relationship, and he gave me such confidence about my worth in that realm. Our years together were filled with ups and downs, dramas and romance, near break-ups and cannot-live-without-each-other honeymoons. Through it all, even in the deepest of lovey hazes of our relationship, I could always sense a missing link between the two of us. I wouldn't let myself dig too much into what that was, but it was constant. Years ago, at a mutual friend's destination wedding in Mexico, I met Greg's then fiancee, now wife. After observing them together for a couple of days, I thought, "Yes, that is exactly who Greg should be with." She had that indefinable missing link that I did not have, and I was genuinely glad he found that.

In those 3 years, I learned so much about myself and how I should be treated, not only as a woman, but as a partner. He set the bar pretty high which is probably why I chose to marry someone who is pretty damn spectacular. Today, we are distant Facebook friends and I often scroll past pictures of his family that make me smile. After my father passed away, Greg sent me a heart-felt email that included memories I never knew about. He even organized a group donation to the American Cancer Society from all the guys he lived with at MSU.

A recent conversation with friends exposed me to how rare this wonderful first love experience can be. Some got cheated on, some were constantly lied to and others went through worse. Those experiences often created baggage that took years to reverse. My experience, however, gave me the self-assurance I needed to define my standards in a relationship. Thanks for that, Greg. Also, thanks for showing me that I need to be with someone who doesn't watch an obscene amount of SportsCenter. Sorry, but that shit was brutal. 😜

Monday, December 10, 2018

Forever Front-Butt

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The sun was setting outside the huge bay windows of the dining hall as I walked over to join my roommate. I loved the look and feel of the older buildings on this side of campus. Yakeley-Gilchrist Hall was the perfect place for me to spend my first year in college. As I set my tray down and sat, I struggled to get comfortable.

"I swear, I think the dryers in the dorm are too hot or something..."

"What do you mean?" my roommate asked.

"My jeans... they are so tight. They don't fit quite right anymore."

Cortney stifled a laugh and stared down at her turkey tetrazzini. 

"What?" I asked. Even though I had roomed blind at Michigan State University, I hit the jackpot with a roommate who ended up being like my sister after a few short weeks. 

"You're blaming the dryers?" Cortney looked at me incredulously.

"Well yeah.. they're crappy! Ever since I've been using them my jeans just get tighter and tighter!"

Cortney couldn't hold it in any longer. Our sisterly relationship allowed for a certain type of bluntness only reserved for family.

"Um, maybe you're just gaining weight, Sheevani."

I crinkled my face ready to pounce and defend myself, but a movie reel of trips out to the dumpster to dispose of pizza boxes and chicken wing bones flashed in my head. Oh shit, it's happening.


Welcome to the 80 billionth post about a woman struggling with her body image! This is another area where my mindset just won't budge. I have some good days, but mostly I find myself getting unreasonably frustrated with my bod no matter how many times my husband tells me I look great. And yes, I feel totally cliché writing about this and well, I guess I'm just living my truth, honoring my journey, focusing on self-care while brunching with my girls! ROSÉ ALL DAY, BITCHES!

Up until the age of 18, I was the girl who could eat anything without gaining a pound. Yup, I was the annoying jerk who couldn't relate to the girls struggling to keep slim. "Sucks to be them," I thought. My lanky figure wasn't the result of exercise and a healthy diet, just ask all the sports coaches who didn't know me and drive-thru dudes at my favorite Taco Bell (where the sauce to bean ratio was perfect in my burritos). I was just plain blessed with great metabolism. My best friend's father was once horrified/impressed when he saw me mouth-pound a family serving of Thai food just for myself without a hint of difficulty. Sigh, I was living the dream of eating anything I wanted while easily slipping into my Abercrombie jeans.

As my opening story implied, my metabolism slowed from a sprint to a spirited jog during my freshman year of college. It was still fast, but not as forgiving. After Cortney broke the case of my "shrinking" jeans wide open, I realized that, with age, comes bodily changes that really suck. It was the first time in my life I had thought about watching what I ate and maybe even... gulp, exercising. Whoa, I just heard the collective, "Shut up, bitch," from many of you.

After age 21, the frequency of drinking beer and late-night eating didn't help my situation. I remember crying in the Gap dressing room because I had to go up a pant size. The rubber really hits the road in those dressing rooms, man. Between the bad lighting and 3-way mirrors, it's a wonder there aren't more women being arrested for vandalism at your local mall. The photos from my last year in college revealed a young woman afflicted by a condition coined by my best friend; party bloat - the chubby face and mushy body caused by too much alcohol, junk food and the sloth-like lifestyle that goes along with it. Luckily, I lost a ton of that weight the following summer on a trip to India for my brother's wedding. There's no diet like a summer in India; sweating all day, drinking little to no alcohol, eating vegetarian foods made fresh daily followed by diarrhea - also made fresh daily. It was the perfect antidote to my party bloat and I came back to the United States able to slip back into my smaller clothes.

Things are VERY different today. A summer of releasing fluids through my pores and butt would not have the same body-changing affects. All those years of youthful gluttony are a faint memory since my body has been super punctual when it comes to slowing metabolism. I could swear the day after I turned 30, my abs decided to store every fat cell it could find. I mean, A&E could have filmed an episode of Hoarders in there. After I had each of my kids, other parts of my body joined in. My chin was all, "Hey, ass and thighs, pass some of that fat up here wouldya!" Today, I'm freshly 40 and bracing for the turtle-speed metabolism I've heard so much about.

Do You Know Where the Weight Room Is? I'll figure it out...

When I first got into fitness in my 20s, I was simply motivated by vanity. Please note that low-rise jeans were popular then, most likely designed to give a sexy peek at a whale tail or low-back tattoo, which were other horrifying trends at the time. So yeah, I wasn't interested in any other benefit except to keep my bod small enough to fit into those devil-spawned jeans without a hint of a muffin top. Jennifer Aniston's physique was my goal. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I'd rip out articles outlining Rachael Green's workout and obsessed over her like a pathetic gym Gunther.

Today, my motivation to exercise is a lot more diverse; risky family history, energy, setting a healthy example for my kids, keeping those blood work results positive and yes, getting a smoking hot body. I'm at the gym 5 times a week kicking my butt with yoga, cycle, weight lifting, dance, pilates, etc. Since the days of Thai food marathons are long gone, I've also adjusted my diet to include lower intakes of sugar and salt while increasing lean meats and veggies. You know, everything Jennifer Aniston does. It's all great on paper, unless that paper includes a photo of me from behind and then I wonder if it's all worth it.

Weight of Mind

My mindset challenge here is to achieve body acceptance. For as much as I work out and watch what I eat, I'm not exactly thrilled with the results in the mirror. I see a reflection that personifies what they meant by "stubborn problem areas" in those Dexatrim commercials that aired during Gilligan's Island re-runs. It's all so trivial and stupid, but alas, my mind will not budge. Perhaps it's because I came of age during the "waif era" of the 1990s. Kate Moss was the biggest... er, I mean most famous supermodel and she was the size of a guard rail. This led to many actresses looking anorexic on red carpets. Magazines would print a cover photo of Calista Flockhart peeking over her shoulder in a backless dress next to big block letters screaming, "TOO THIN?" Even my beloved Jennifer Aniston fell into the skeletal, waif shit. Just watch the transition from the season 4 finale to the season 5 premiere of Friends. She lost half an Emily Waltham over that summer! (I'm available for any Friends Trivia teams, by the way.)

Whatever the reason, I totally pressure myself into thinking I need to weigh less and take inches off those stubborn areas. For someone who has never considered herself a perfectionist, I sure do expect some unrealistic perfection from my body. I cannot help but compare myself to the fit women I see at the gym since those studios are 75% mirrors. However, I've heard those same women talk about their own "problem areas" that I do not see at all. The woman with a flat tummy hates her wide hips and sagging ass. Another woman loves her big ass and thighs, but hates her flabby arms. An instructor doesn't wear light colored leggings because her cellulite might show through. It's as if we're all programmed to self-criticize our bodies and never be satisfied.

This distorted expectation for my body own perfection is never projected upon other people. I can see beauty in all shapes and sizes as long as the person is not me. There are people in my life who struggle with their weight and when I look at them, I see many gorgeous attributes they aren't seeing themselves. It's not as easy to be forgiving to ourselves like we are to others. Just ask Chandler Bing...

I'm determined to keep chipping away at this stubborn mindset for my kids, especially my daughter.  The last thing I want is for them to see me complain about my body and how I'm not skinny enough. They know how much I go to the gym, and sometimes they even ask why. "Mama wants to be around for a long time, so I have to take care of myself in order to do that!" I tell them. I am also encouraged by the more body-positive images I'm seeing in the media. The fact that my kids aren't seeing unrealistic representations like I saw growing up gives me hope that they won't be prone to a narrow view of what a beautiful body can be, and that healthy bodies come in many varieties. Honestly, that message is just as valuable to me as it is to them.

I want to be clear that I don't hate my body. In fact, I can easily recognize that I'm in the best shape of my life. When compared to my twenties, I am so much stronger and have a ton more stamina and energy. I'm just... NOT in my twenties anymore. Letting go of the expectation that I can achieve the same measurements from 2004 is where my mind needs help. Sure, I could try some diets or supplements that are supposed to get you to your goals, but for me, I need something sustainable. You don't want to be around me if I'm not eating carbs, let's just say that. My social media algorithms have correctly calculated the ads a vulnerable 40-year-old will blindly try - anti-aging detoxes, juices that burn belly fat, Goop crap - but I know there is no magic solution. It's more about taking the weight off my mind rather than my body.


I may never stop sucking in my front-butt or cringing when my arms jiggle, but I'll also never stop trying to walk tall and proud in my Mom-bod, no matter what it looks like. I'm lucky to have this body, I'm lucky I'm able to go to the gym, I'm lucky to be healthy and dammit... I'm just lucky to be alive. I mean, like, I don't know... just dance like no one's watching, sing like no one's listening, live, laugh, love and just f*ckin' rise and grind, you guys!! After all... no one told you life was gonna be this way...

The only way to finish this post is by clicking on this link:


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Validation Station

This is my yearbook from 8th grade; the only one I kept from junior high since 7th grade was so awful I trashed any memory of it. 

Click HERE to listen to this post! 

The hallway was crowded, and I was trying to make my way up to Holly and Lindsey. I could have sworn Holly heard me call for them to wait up, but I guess not. The 4 minutes between classes was always stressful, and jockeying for a clear path in the hallways of Churchill Junior High was never easy; kids zig-zagging to avoid the obtrusive, saggy backpacks because the one-shoulder method was the only acceptable way to wear them. 

“Did you invite Sheevani?” I heard Holly ask Lindsey when I finally maneuvered into a spot behind them.

“No,” Lindsey said with a snicker, “She’s so annoying!”

“I know!” Holly said as her peripheral vision caught my presence behind them. Her face fell when she saw that my expression confirmed I had heard what they just said.

“Oh, um... not you Sheevani, another Sheevani... from the roller rink.” Holly’s wide eyes told Lindsey to play along.

“Right, um... we know another Sheevani... I think she goes to Shrine.”

I tried to respond but choked on the lump in my throat. Instead, I nodded and smiled, totally accepting their pathetic attempt to convince me there was another Sheevani in white-ass Royal Oak who goes to the local Catholic school. 

A few days later, I got a last-minute invite to Lindsey’s party. I wish I could say I didn’t go. I wish I could say I got the message that day in the hallway. I wish I could say I didn’t need their approval. Instead, I went to Lindsey’s party and pretended like I belonged. 

My previous post highlighted some moments in my life where I was able to change my mindset in order to bring some contentment to my life. In this post I’d like to discuss one of the areas where my mindset can’t or won’t budge; the need for validation from the wrong people. 

As you can tell from the opening story of this post, I wasn’t exactly crushing it when it came to friends in junior high school. Looking back on that time, I can confirm that I probably was annoying. I’m not trying to put myself down or justify how those girls treated me, but I do cringe at some memories of trying to fit in. My major issue was the desire to be “popular.” I had watched The Breakfast Club enough times to know that I’d much rather be the princess than the basket case. Prior to junior high, I was generally accepted. So, I figured, why not shoot for the fences when it came to new friends in junior high? I could totally fit in with these girls who suddenly seemed 20 years old. So what if my emotional maturity was still grounded in a world of playgrounds and flip-top desks?

The first half of the school year was spent trying to wedge my way into that world. I changed the way I spoke, acted boy-crazy, rolled my eyes at the “weird” kids, you name it. So, my fake-ass dove right in only to be spit back out. If only that rejection came with invisibility. Instead I was punished with a rotating set of cruel mind-games; looking at me and laughing, whispering to each other while looking in my direction, prank calling me almost every single day, calling my name over and over only to ignore me when I’d respond. The worst was “psyching” which meant they would act like my friend, sometimes for up to a week, and then at the end of the ruse one asshole would yell, “PSYCH!” revealing it was all a joke, and I was sent back further than where I started. Individually these may not sound so bad, but for a sensitive kid like me, it was torture and I fell in the trap every damn time. Girls at this age don’t need brute force, they are masters at devising psychological tactics specifically designed to torment their victim.

Today, there are a handful of people in my life who can trigger this weakness. These folks have shown, time and time again, that they have no genuine interest in me, yet I seek their approval. The degree to which I let it affect me varies, but I do grant a couple of them an unreasonable amount of power and I end up hating myself for it. 

How I Get Triggered to Seek Approval

  1. Meet someone who is well-liked by someone I know
  2. That person gets to know me
  3. We're cool and get along for weeks, months or even years
  4. Without warning, this person changes their attitude to either ignore me, act indifferent toward me or is plain nasty to me (an adult PSYCH! if you will). Various pieces of evidence show the behavior only applies to me and no one else in the friend-circle
wish I could change my mindset to say, “Oh well, I guess she doesn’t want to be friends,” and go on my merry way, but it stews in my head far too often and for far too long. I rack my brain to figure out if I did something to offend the person. Text chains are combed through, Facebook posts are scoured, every conversation examined as best as my memory can serve. Is there an odor I’m unaware of? Do I black out and start yelling insults? Did the recent selfie in my Depeche Mode shirt push them over the edge? Believe me, I’ve gone over it all and I always assume it’s my fault. And as difficult as this is to write out and share with you, I’m too afraid to ask them for the actual reason for fear of looking pathetic. 

As further evidence that this need for validation stems from my 7th grade anguish, the above scenario usually happens with women. I go into sort of a tailspin similar to when I wore tight-rolled jeans and Malibu Mist. I can’t help it. When I see the person in a social setting after the shunning, I’ll never reciprocate what she is dishing out. In fact, I go above and beyond to rekindle the connection and it never works. I guess it stings so badly because (brag alert) I’m generally a good person; I avoid drama, I’m sensitive to other people’s feelings, I’m supportive, I’m kind and most of all, I’m genuine. No longer am I pretending to be someone else for acceptance into a group. That’s something I’ve worked on for several years and well... (brag alert #2) I’m proud of the person I am today. 

The individuals who have this hold on me are well-liked by people I love and respect, so the need for validation stems from a place of, “I must not be good enough.” When I experience a shun from dickheads, I can brush that off very easily. Even when I decided to start this blog, I thought, “Oh, so-and-so will think this is so stupid.” In fact, I probably delayed my first post for a good month because I was thinking about the reaction of one person. It’s this senselessness that I wish I could reverse. Sometimes I can talk myself out of those emotions, but I know it’ll only last until the next trigger launches them out again.

Bottom line, I know it’s probably not me. These people may have other shit going on. Or, they’ve decided they just don’t like me. Perhaps someday I’ll get an explanation as to why they stopped calling, texting or caring about my life, but I’m not holding my breath. There are plenty of friends and family who support and love me, so focusing on the tiny number of people who do not is a waste of time. 

The power of that 7th grade experience astounds me. 28 years later and I can still be transported back to those same emotions when a friendship is abandoned. This stubborn mindset may never completely turn around, but I have noticed I’ve been able to reduce the length of time I will allow it to bother me... and that’s progress. I think that 12 year-old-girl would be happy to see the woman I’ve become, although she’d be sad that I didn’t marry the lead singer from Color Me Badd. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Got My "Mindset" On New

Dealing with my son's colic for over 8 months almost broke me, until I changed my mindset.

The lump in my throat grew as I searched the list for a 3rd time, but my name was nowhere to be found. My friend, Ryan, could see the heartbreak on my face. “Oh, that sucks, Sheevani, sorry.” We walked to the cafeteria together; me in a daze and Ryan in an uncomfortable panic, no doubt searching for a way to escape our lunch. We didn’t even go ten feet when my ugly cry pushed forth with immense vigor. I wasn’t going to be in Hello, Dolly!, the Kimball High School Spring Musical of 1993, and I was devastated. 

Later that day, I had an after-school meeting for the student environmental club. I walked into the library with my Rudolph-red nose and swollen eyes from crying on and off all afternoon. A fellow club member, Mona, looked over at me. “Oh my god, Sheevani, what’s wrong?” I choked up and barely got the words out. “Ohhhhh noooo!” Mona said as she stood to give me a huge hug, “We’ve all been there, trust me!! Ohhh, you poor thing.” She hugged me even tighter. “Just volunteer for stage crew! That way you’ll be a part of the show, just behind the scenes! It’s SO fun!” Later that night, lying on my twin bed lamenting about my thespian misfortune, I thought about what Mona said and had one of those moments where you just know the next step. As soon as I could, I signed up for stage crew and ended up having a blast making props, sets and helping with costumes. The whole experience exposed me to another side of theater that I knew very little about and gave me an appreciation for all the work that goes into a show. If it weren’t for Mona, I would have just stewed in my bitterness until it overtook any hope for me to flip the situation. Mona changed my mindset.


My version of wearing embroidered holiday sweaters from Kohl's is looking up inspirational quotes on Pinterest. Look, I’m not proud nor am I promoting this behavior, but dammit if they don’t help. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more reflective about my life. Those journeys into the depths of my past and doubts about my future can be incredibly scary, so if reading words in those little Pinterest boxes lifts me out of a funk, I’m gonna lean into that shit. 

At last count, about 100% of my friends have been annoyed by my workout posts. Yes, I’m that asshole who snaps a pic on my yoga mat, stationary bike or with barbell equipment to post on social media. Hey, as a former couch potato, I’m very proud of the fact that the gym employees recognize me! An unexpected discovery from being so active is the ability to change my mindset. I NEVER used to be that, “If I put my mind to it, I can do it,” type person. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I finally chose to surround myself with friends from the gym who inspired me to keep going, I saw the potential I held within myself, not only for fitness, but in many areas of my life.  

There have been a few major shifts in mindset that have stuck with me, from my high school musical heartbreak to a major transition last year. I look back on these points in my life to remind myself that I can’t outsource my own personal fulfillment. If I do, it’s a one-way ticket to disappointment and resentment. Holy shit, I’m posting that one on Pinterest! Gotta find that perfect swirly font…

This Baby Hates Everything
“Emerson fussy, Mama?” my little Faye said with her big, curious eyes. She was a little over 2.5 years old and was used to seeing me bounce her little brother all the live long day. “It’s okay, I go play by myself.” What was that, heart? Oh, you’ve just exploded with guilt… sounds about right. My little bundle of rage was 9 weeks old, our house was still full of unpacked boxes and my tolerance for it all was at an all-time low. Since about week 2, I could not figure this kid out. I adjusted my diet in every way in case it was my breast milk, I swaddled, I let him cry, I wore him, I tried a swing, I did the four S’s until the point of passing out; nothing worked. My son was just pissed. 

So many of my friends who dealt with their own colicky babies said that at 12 weeks everything changed. The crying stopped, and life was beautiful again. My mental alarm was set to July 12th to awaken from the colic nightmare. Nope, didn’t happen. “For my baby, it was close to 14 weeks,” one friend told me. Oh, just a couple more weeks and I’ll be smooth sailing into the land of fuss-free bliss! Nope. “Sometimes it can be 4 months of colic,” I read in a friend’s message. Given the stamina of my son’s hatred for the world, I knew better than to put any more end-dates on his ire.  I was at the point where my body could no longer take the constant baby-wearing, my heart couldn’t take hearing him cry and fuss all day and my brain couldn’t stop telling me I was a horrible mother.

Finally, my dear friend, Jenna, recommended a Facebook page called, “Wait it Out.” It was created for a community of women who were dealing with colicky babies. THIS PAGE SAVED ME. It was full of posts by women who were going through the same situation and many times, a lot worse than what I was experiencing. Just spending a few minutes on this page completely flipped my mindset. I was no longer alone, and I knew it was going to get better. 

After finding that page, I approached every day so differently. I expected the fussiness so that when it did happen, I didn’t crumble into a ball of frustration. The most profound change was that my new mindset emitted an energy that had a calming effect on my son. For so many weeks, he was feeding off my negative emotions. While there was still a good amount of fussiness until month 8, it became less and less, and I knew how to handle it through a new set of eyes. Today, that little guy more than makes up for that hellish beginning. I’m spoiled with so much love from him every day.

Rocky Mountain Cry
“I think we need to talk about Denver,” my husband said. My stomach flipped, and my heart started beating in my ears because I knew what was coming. “Oh yeah?” I tried to say in a breezy tone. Paul proceeded to tell me how this latest consulting project that had taken him to Denver for the last few months had convinced him that we should move there. It had been awhile since I had heard my husband speak about something with such thirst and emotion. I never imagined staying in Michigan for the rest of my life, in fact, I was eager to start an adventure somewhere else since childhood. But Colorado? That had never occurred to me.

In an effort to make this post shorter than War and Peace, I’ll save my thoughts on my tendency to over-compromise due to an imbalance of power in my marriage for another post (JUICY TEASER ALERT!), but suffice it to say, even though I had my reservations about such a big move, I knew almost immediately that I’d give in to my husband’s wish. After all, he had supported me through my career woes, improv ventures, post-partum hell (twice), insecurities about my worth, etc. And to be blunt, he’s making the cash in this family. 

After we made the decision and put the deposit down on our new home, the emotional rollercoaster I rode rivaled anything Cedar Point (or insert your favorite amusement park here) has to offer. There were days where the resentment of this huge undertaking bubbled over and well, keeping my emotions in check has never been my forte. Conversely, sometimes I would get excited about the adventure of it all; new places to explore, learning to ski, seeing mountains every day, 300 days of sunshine per year. Then, I’d remember my family I’d be leaving and all the friends I wouldn’t be able to see so regularly. There were so many ups and downs, it was like I was painting the Miyagi fence in my head and heart. 

On August 1st of 2017, we arrived in Colorado. I’d made my peace with leaving Michigan and thought I was on a healthy path to make a smooth transition. I wasn’t quite prepared for the extra-sensitive antennae that sprouted out of my head the first few weeks. Something as minor as long red-lights could set me off. “What the hell is wrong with the traffic lights in Colorado?!” At my first venture to our local supermarket, I kept getting electric shocks while pushing the cart and I angrily blamed it on the dry climate. “Am I going to have to wear gloves all the time here like a mental patient?!!” I could even find fault in the yoga studio at my new Lifetime location. “Oh, the cubbies are on that wall?”

“I want the old you back,” Paul said to me one afternoon with a look of concern. We’d been in Colorado less than a month and he could tell I wasn’t adjusting very well. His request was made with love, but I couldn’t help but feel a little attacked in that moment. “You know what? I want the same, Paul. But this is a huge change for all of us and I need you to be a little patient with me.” I had to be honest; I did need some latitude because, unlike him, I still had the huge task of finding my purpose in this new life. His look of concern only deepened, he nodded and walked away. 

It was that short exchange in our new master bathroom that forced me to wake up and CHANGE MY MINDSET. Over the years of marriage and being a parent, so many of my ugly tendencies have been exposed, like bugs on an over-turned rock. One of those tendencies was my expectation that someone else is supposed to make my life complete and if I feel incomplete, it is his fault. I had put the onus of my happiness completely on Paul’s shoulders, which was a mistake I had made before. I mean, I’m a grown-ass woman who knows what she wants and I’m certainly capable of designing a life that will keep me fulfilled. Perspective helps as well. For instance, my mother moved to a completely foreign country where she barely spoke the language, left everything and everyone she knew in India and all for a man she married 2 weeks after meeting him. Yeah, stop whining about the damn red-lights, idiot.

I will stress that my emotions weren’t wrong or unreasonable; I needed to go through them to arrive at the reality that it was up to me to change how I approached this change. I’m sure Paul would have preferred another route that didn’t go straight through multiple Meltdown Forests, but he knew what he signed up for when he married me! After changing my mindset, I was able to dissolve so many of the bitter emotions that were clogging up my view of a gorgeous future. 


These examples have helped me learn a lot about myself and my own capabilities. However, I’m not sitting around patting myself on the back for being so evolved considering there are still a few stubborn areas where I cannot seem to flip my mind toward a healthier track. To be continued...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Big Nose

Shots at profile angle still give me anxiety, but I'm getting more comfortable with them


I could feel her eyes on me as I sat at the coffee table figuring out the value of ‘x’ on my pre-algebra homework. My Masi (aunt) was visiting from India. It was her usual yearly visit where her presence brought with it a comfort; from the scent of her perfume to her infectious laughter while watching American television. Ever since she had arrived a few days earlier, she kept commenting on how much I’d grown since the previous year. A pretty typical comment every time she came to our house, but this year it was said with a little bit more investigation in her eyes. I was in 7thgrade, struggling to figure out the social constructs of junior high while keeping up with the increasing academic responsibilities. My mother served some nastas (Indian snacks) to have with their chai, and they settled in to enjoy General Hospital. I stared at my homework when I heard my Masi say something to my mom without a hint of discretion.

“Aha! I know what’s so different. Sheevani’s nose got big.”

Up until that moment, I hadn’t really thought about my looks in general, much less my nose. I mean, at 12 years old, there were some unsettling changes that were happening, and my tween brain was working overtime to figure it all out. Many of the things I’d half-forgotten from 5thgrade sex ed came screaming back when I looked at my body; from embarrassing breast buds to sparse pubes. The journey from 6thgrade (which was still elementary school for me) to 7thpresented this mystifying world, where the same friends with whom I was playing 4-square just a few months earlier, were now wearing training bras and French kissing boys. 

My Masi wasn’t trying to be cruel. Call it cultural or just a trait of my family, but bluntness was a part of being around my relatives. My mother once told me the story of a visit to India after having my brother. Her usual petite frame wasn’t quite the same between the baby weight and months of eating American food, and her family didn’t hesitate to tell her she’d really packed on the pounds. I recoiled as she told that story, but she said, “What’s the big deal? If they don’t tell me, then who will?” So, when my mother’s sister sat on the couch and announced that my nose had “blown up,” (loose translation from Gujurati), I knew she hadn’t turned into some evil demon. She made an innocent observation and I was enlightened to a new physical insecurity. 

Look, I would have figured it out anyway. I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror as a kid. Mostly to make funny faces and master some impressions of people I knew, but also to investigate the changes in my face along the way. After that particular day, I took my mother’s hand mirror into my room, positioned myself in front of my dresser mirror and angled the hand mirror in such a way that I could see my profile. Yup, that was a schnoz, alright. No one really sees their profile very often, but from that moment forward, I’d look at it on a daily basis. I felt the more I looked, the more I’d be okay with it… or something. Honestly, I’m not sure the real reason, but safe to say I became obsessed with my nose.

Weirdo Things I Did with My Nose  
·     Pinched it for minutes at a time in hopes of reducing the width
·     Avoided any pics that showed my profile
·     Destroyed any pics that showed my profile
·     Measured the length and width so I could draw it to scale
o  This was done in hopes that, on paper, it wouldn’t look so big (the results proved to be the opposite)
·     Drew and cut out small nose shapes and held them up to my profile to imagine myself with a smaller nose
·     Selected which celeb nose I’d choose should I ever get a nose job (I believe Courtney Cox won)
·     Covered it completely in my reflection to imagine myself with no nose at all

Obviously, it was all about vanity and feeling attractive. Dudes weren’t exactly swarming me at that time, and while that could have been for a number of reasons, I zeroed in on my prominent beak as the main cause. At my hostess job in high school, one waiter would flirt with me quite a bit. He was in his late 20s and had a Dana Carvey quality that was very endearing. One day, after seeing that I assigned him a pretty busy section where he’d make a lot of tips, he put his arm around me and said, “Sheevani, you’re the best. I’ve always had a thing for girls with big noses.” 

I laugh SO hard when I think of that moment now. I mean, who the hell says that?! Now, you may think I had to run to the restroom to sob, but his off-hand com-sult (compliment + insult) taught me something that I hadn’t thought of before: Everyone finds different things attractive. I had been looking at beauty in such a small scope where perfection was the only option. So, thank you creepy-waiter-who-had-no-business-hitting-on-a-16-year-old, you taught me a valuable lesson. I wasn’t cured, by any means, but that moment sticks in my mind as sort of a turning point about my perception of being attractive. 

My mother was, and still is, the epitome of beauty in my eyes. Whether it was a regular day or fancy occasion, I always thought she was the most beautiful woman in the room. She never acknowledged her beauty, but she certainly took pride in her appearance. As a cosmetologist, my mom was expected to look her best at the salon, so every morning there was a ritual of hair and make-up that took time, precision and expertise. One day in high school, she told me how a co-worker asked if she’d had a nose job. “Why would she think that?” my mother said, “I have such a big nose!” 

This was the first time I’d ever heard my mom say anything about her looks. My instinct was to say, “No you don’t, Mummy! You’re so pretty!” But, since she didn’t say it with a hint of shame, I just absorbed her resolve. That moment taught me so much about accepting yourself with humility. And yeah, my mom has a big nose, it is big and beautiful. I had associated a big nose with being unattractive for so long that when I realized my own mother, who was the standard of beauty for me, donned her nose with pride, I really woke up.

Do I feel ridiculous dedicating an entire blog entry to a physical feature? A little bit. But, unless the world drastically changes overnight, comparing oneself to the societal standard of physical beauty will always exist. One thing I promised myself when my daughter was born was to never put myself down in her presence. She’ll never hear me say, “I wish I was skinnier,” or, “These wrinkles are so ugly,” or “I hate my big nose.” Her insecurities will arrive no matter what I do, but I certainly won’t be the cause of them. She may come to me one day in tears because she hates something about her body, and I’ll listen, honor her feelings and share everything about my past and present insecurities that may help. But I want her to see me own them. I want her to see me take care of myself, not to be “perfect” but instead to show how that care will shine through in ways beyond the physical. 

Today, I own this honker. Sure, I watch a fair amount of make-up tutorials on nose contouring and I tense up at a shoot when the camera is at profile angle, but overall, I’m at a place where I don’t often imagine rhinoplasty as an option. As an improv and sketch comedian, it’s an asset, just ask anyone who has seen into my brain as I flare my nostrils on stage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was once quoted as saying, “A woman should never worry about being pretty while being funny.” That has stuck with me throughout my life. Between making people swoon at a perfect face or laugh at a funny face, I choose the latter in a heartbeat.