Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Attitude is my choice

I once took one of those Facebook quizzes "Which Hero are you?" referencing the TV show "Heroes". This was my favorite show for about two-three seasons until it became way too complicated to comprehend. My answers led me to have powers like Peter Petrelli, who coincidentally was one of my favorite characters.

If you didn't watch the show, his character didn't have his own super powers - i.e., to fly, to start fire, to stop time. His were "empathic mimicry". If he was around a hero who had a certain power, he could exhibit those powers. On his own, he couldn't fly, start fire, etc.

I found this really intriguing because that is true about me. I sense others strengths and weaknesses and absorb them as my own. I've gone to Atlantic City with gamblers and non-gamblers. Guess when I was lucky? I've worked or been friends with ambitious people and non-ambitious people. Again, guess when I did well?

Last week this trait struck me at the gym. I was on the treadmill and there was an elderly woman adjacent to me. She was walking at 3mph or something. So, I ended up cruising around the same speed. She left after some time and a thirty-something year old guy came on. He's a regular at the gym and has a lean, runner's physique. He was running at 9.0mph (yeah.) Somehow I picked up speed and was running faster than I was, really pushing myself. No one told me to go slow or fast. I just pick up the mood around me and accelerate (or decelerate) to that level.

I get inspired very easily and happy I have people in my life with high standards about different aspects. On the other hand, there are people in my life who are very negative and unmotivated. This is where I have to find my own strength and push them away.

I saw an image online - "My attitude, my choice..and I'm chasing happy." That's where I need to be. Even Peter Petrilli had to find his own purpose.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spin on Chinese Mothers

Amy Chua's essay in the Wall Street Journal has caused a buzz on new sites, discussion boards, Facebook, NPR, or wherever anyone wants to talk about Chinese Mothers. So, I had to add my two cents to this topi

Some of her comments are tongue-in-cheek, while others are not. It seems to be pretty hard for the western readers to swallow some of these statements she's made in this essay. There's a different cultural mindset with which most are not familiar, so it comes off harsh. It seemed a lot of people were shocked by the 'no play dates and no sleepovers' statement. The biggest worry on the boards seems to be socializing skills that the children are being deprived of and how they are becoming 'robots'.

First of all, this topic resonated with Chinese, Indian, Korean, Russian, and other immigrant communities quite strongly. The one similarity between these ethnic groups is their extreme competitiveness. Being just average is not acceptable. One has to stand out above the others not only to be successful, but to survive. The immigrant parents couldn't even make it to the US by being average or just coasting. This is what they know, and this is why they want their children to be successful. It's a matter of survival of the fittest. On one board, a commentator praised the American mothers of the 30's, 40's and 50's and their values. Well, they were women who came from the Depression and knew what it was like to struggle. And, they would instill the values of education and discipline so children would grow up able to survive.

However, little did the immigrant parents know their kids would be fascinated with proms, pop concerts and beach parties. There are countless hyphenated Americans who struggled pleasing the parents while seamlessly blending into American society. If you're from one of those communities, you didn't go to the prom, or if you did, Lord knows you didn't go to the after party at the shore.

There has to be a middle ground and that's the key. You can ease up on the homework and the 3 hour practice sessions. As a mom, I find myself cringing at the B's my daughter brings home. I know she can do an A job, but she's not focusing on it. I see the potential and don't want her to waste it and recognize the A's are her goal.

While Chua is talking about no playdates, we had a 'no dating policy' at my house. My parents were quite strict about this with no phone calls from boys and no parties with boys. It was rough and we hated it, argued and tried to convince them otherwise. Later, my sister and I were actually fine with their actions and appreciated it. This is one rule I'll probably carry over. Really, does a 13 year old need to have a boyfriend? There's only one time in your life you can be in drama club or on a varsity team. Take advantage of that in your free time. There's enough time for dating (I know a lot of people who feel they've been dating forever!). There's so much going on in high school that you don't need the hassles of relationships that don't really go anywhere. I don't know if I'll be as strict, though I believe my husband will be.

At my high school graduation, my family and I were surprised at the enthusiasm and achievement many Americans had toward the graduation milestone. This was it! Kids worked hard to graduate high school and they could be rewarded. What is all this fuss? How could you not graduate high school. It's not the final stop; there's more coming.

The pressure is intense - no doubt about this. My parents were lenient over those of my Indian peers. My parents acquiesed my junior year to allow me to get a liberal arts degree versus the business degree that would promise me a job after college. My father has a chemistry degree, and he is a writer. He said he saw himself in my eyes when I said I couldn't get out of Calculus. He had to let me go. My favorite party game  was "Guess my major?" Most Indians rattled off the usual - Engineering, biochemistry, pharma. After I'd announce I was an English major, I could see awe and surprise in their eyes. Then they'd confide how they wanted to be English/Sociology/Psychology themselves, but have to do engineer/biochemistry/pharma because of their family's expectations. It wasn't until I changed my major did I make the Dean's List.

This is part of the middle ground for parenting. It doesn't matter what your major is, but your focus in life and your values for personal development. I later completed my Masters, and my brother is now researching PhD programs (and he was the one that rarely brought home a decent report card!).

I was surprised in this essay that there is a lack of demonstration between parent and child. As an Indian (and Gujarati to boot!), we grew up with lots of love and affection. Adults have no problem being affectionate with children. It's PDA between couples that's absent since love is expressed differently.

Anyway, Chua is harsh in her essay and some points seem extreme, but the core points are there. this is like the saying - Aim your arrow for the sky. Even if you don't hit it, you'll be higher than you would be if you were aiming at the ground.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Word Masala Poetry Anthology

A great way to start the new year!

I have two poems included in the Word Masala Poetry Anthology. It is published in the UK and was edited by Yogesh Patel. I haven't gotten my copy yet, but recognize some of the poets on board and know their reputations as writers. So, please support the publisher.