Sunday, February 26, 2012

The skinny on the F word

Today, I would like to write about something that is very close to my heart. I want to talk about size, weight, and body image.

While I was born with a weight of 3.1 kg, a steady diet of milk powder and cake crumbs ensured that I was  a fat baby, possibly by the age of one. I have always been fat. I have been called every euphemism {and dysphemism} in the book, starting with the very endearing 'chubby' to the very offensive 'elephant'{May have been by my obnoxious baby brother, but it still counts!}, and I have been innately trained to laugh it off. You take part in the joke. That is how you gain your first lessons in self awareness and self acceptance, or so I have been told. 

I have been lucky in that I have not been bullied regarding this. In a country where everyone has a hundred reasons to be bullied about, {such as poverty, skin colour, the marital status of their parents, the relationship status of their siblings and so on}, I had one - my weight. And it really didn't matter that much to anybody because it is a common condition - I was lucky.  However, I realized the enormity of the stigma attached to a greater than average weight, through media, namely through books and television. I grew up knowing that being fat was something that was typically laughed at and joked about. 

On the other hand, while I was not confronted much with the social implications of being fat, I was constantly reminded of the repercussions of it with respect to my health. I come from a family of doctors, and I also have a strong history of obesity in my maternal side. I do not remember ever {EVER} eating a piece of cake or a burger, without the fear of calories and disease looming over me. I always asked to be thin in all of my wish lists. This desire pervaded every thought and every action, and while this did not change my actions to the slightest extent, it was always something that was a part of me. In that sense, being fat goes so far beyond the physical - it becomes part of your psyche and your personality and effectively your being, and achieves a permanence of its own. In short, for me, while the connotations of being fat were not as shameful or negative as it probably is for a lot of people in the world, the fact itself, as well as it's implications, were huge in magnitude. 

For instance, I don't remember ever running after I turned ten. Somewhere, I knew that I probably would be laughed at for running funny, and I just chose to make myself believe that I didn't like running. Or exercising. Or moving at all. While attitude shapes behaviour, the reverse can also be true and this example is case in point. I believed that I would run funny and I stopped running. Now it must be noted that this fear was instilled not because someone had actually made fun of me; rather, it was a deduction that I had made from observing people in real life and in media:. Fat people run funny. Simple as that. Delusions that are created simply to protect the ego are the worst kind; they blind you from the truth and shape your behaviour in unnatural, grotesque ways. And that is such a tragic thing. 

I digress a bit here, but there is something else that I want to talk about. By now, you must be wondering how I can keep referring to myself and others as 'fat';, as opposed to one of those other more pleasing terms, such as pleasantly plump. Or fluffy. Fluffy is so endearing, right? I could well be a fur-ball of a dog with that title! 

The Dictionary defines fat as 'containing excess adipose tissue'. However, there are way too many negative implications of it, in common usage. These include 'laziness, ignorance, ill-health, gluttony, lethargy, anger, a lack of self control and willpower, a lack of ambition, ugliness, a lack of cleanliness, malodour, etc.' In common parlance, fat has come to be a derisive, jeering and taunting term for a bad / socially irresponsible person. 

To counter this, there is a growing list of 'synonyms' {euphemisms} for 'fat'. These are

A Few Extra Pounds, Ample, Big, Big-Boned, Buxom, Chubby, Chunky, Curvy, Cute and and cuddly, Fluffy, Frumpy, Full bodied, Generously Proportioned, Gravitationally Challenged, Hefty, Homely, Horizontally Tall, Husky, Juicy, Large, Matronly, Natural Body Type, Oversized, Overweight, Person of size, Plentiful, Pleasantly Plump, Plus-Sized, Plush, Prime Figured, Robust, Rotund, Rubenesque, Stocky, Stout, There's More Of Me To Love, Thick, Voluptuous, Well-Built, Wide, Zaftig
These euphemisms thrive because of the negative associations and implications of being fat, while in reality, none of these deductions are accurate. Being fat does not imply uncleanliness, lethargy, gluttony, misanthropy or malodour. It only means that I have 'excess adipose tissue'. Fat is an adjective that is as credible, valid and respectful as 'thin', 'naughty', 'pale','bright', 'bookish', 'worldly', 'blonde' or 'brown eyed'. It is simply a statement of fact, and of that fact alone, rather than being a pointer towards other supporting descriptors.

Long story short, to me, there is nothing shameful about being fat. I am brown eyed, creative, lazy, impulsive and fat. And I am alright with being called exactly that. And while I will continue wanting to lose weight because I am unhealthy right now because of my weight and also because I possibly will look better, I no longer believe that everything in my life depends on it and I refuse to call myself pleasantly plump in the mean time. {Anyone who has ever been called pleasantly plump will understand what I am talking about. You just have to take our word for it.}

I want to take ownership of my 'fatness', so to speak, and reject all the other negative connotations of it. {I most certainly refuse to believe that I am ignorant or angry or lethargic because I am fat!}And that is why I am able to boldly and without shame, call myself fat.

Now, getting back to the earlier discussion, here are a few oft quoted facts on body image and weight.

  • 80% of children are afraid of being fat. 8 out 10 women are not happy with their reflection. 
  • Twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.
  • The American weight-loss industry brings in at least $55.4 billion in revenue per year. [Marketdata Enterprises, 2007]
  • In a survey of adolescents in grades 9 through 12, over 18% of girls and 8% of boys had gone without food for 24 hours or more to lose weight in the last 30 days. Of the girls, 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight. [Center for Disease Control, 2004]
  • Eating disorders are 18 times more likely to develop in adolescent girls who dieted at a severe level than in those who did not diet. [Patton et al., 1999]
  • In one study, white and African-American girls (ages 10 to 17 years) threw a softball as hard as they could against a distant gymnasium wall. The researchers found that the extent to which girls viewed their bodies as objects and were concerned about their bodies’ appearance predicted poorer motor performance on the softball throw. Self-objectification, it appears, limits the form and effectiveness of girls’ physical movements. [Van den Berg et al., 2007]
  • If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions. She'd be 7 ft 2" and 101 lbs. Her head would be the same circumference as her waist.
  • About 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular.
  • If GI Joe were human, he’d have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.
  • Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.
  • In 2007, there were about 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Ninety one percent of these were performed on women.
Can I tell you something interesting pertaining to my blog?

The third most viewed post in the history of this blog {There are 352 published posts on the whole.} is this nondescript post with only a photograph of a pillar. Why? Because the title of the post is 'There was. A girl. So tall and thin and fair.'. Search engines pick up 'tall, thin, fair girl' from this and produce this post as a result. Interesting, huh? 

Therefore, while it is important to be of a healthy weight and have a healthy and attractive body, it is equally critical to keep all this in mind. 

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Britney Spears volunteers before-and-after pictures to be shown in schools to help students overcome body image issues.
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Faith Hill before and after. 

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Life Sized Barbie Draws Attention to Body Image Issues and Eating Disorders

And as for Kate Moss's incendiary claim that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, I bet that she said that only because she has never tasted butter cream or chocolate mousse. 

Poor little thin girl!

And I can't help but leave you with this.

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Tina Fey is da bomb! La bomba!

All images can be found here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This is Rad(ish)!

Don't let lovin' feelings that you expressed on Valentine's Day for your lover, your mommy, your sibling, your daddy or your doggy go with the wind like my resolutions, two weeks after New Year. Send them a Sugarboo Card.


These stacking rings combine techniques of Macrame and silver jewellery making. 

Back to roots stacking rings
Find the ring here.

Now I studied how to do Macrame while I was living in Dharamsala and learning yoga. But the technique is complicated and if you don't follow up the learning with oodles of consistent practice, you will forget it as quickly as you learnt it. {Life Learning # 57262891}

Check out Lunatic Art's Etsy shop for lotsa silver and bits of macrame.

Never have I wanted to colour my hair, as much as I did when I saw this.

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'Gasp!' would be an appropriate response. 

If there is anything you gotta make, it's this!

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Home made Snickers: they are all that we need besides world peace and faster Internet.

The prettiest Little Black Dress.

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I wonder when I'm gonna fit into one of these! The feeding frenzy that the Snickers picture sent me on is not going to help.

That is why I'm going to ask God for this. Here goes.

Dear God, 

Can I get one of these? 

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That would  be all.

Good night and good luck.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Life as I know it

So, today was Day 3 at my new job, and it is interesting, to say the least. I was late to report to work on the first day... what a cliche! If you ever wanna feel like time is rushing by too quickly and also not moving fast enough, try getting stuck in traffic on your first day at work. It is a psychedelic sensation!

Like I said in a previous post, I joined as an Academic Editor in this Communications company that edits all kinds of written material, especially academic writing that is primarily intended for journals. I am being trained for 3 weeks, and so far, it has been good. English is such a beautiful language, and the rules and conventions that it follows are infinitesimal. I cannot even tell you how many times I was gob-smacked by something that I had heard for the very  first time. For instance, did you know that the American spelling of the British 'aesthetic' is 'esthetic'. (I guess a lot of you probably know that. Well, I didn't!) There are so many things! I'll teach you too, alright?

by Rodney Smith: by Rodney Smith

I'm still trying to find my bearing with respect to all this, though. I take the bus to and from work, and this takes an hour each way, which makes me one of the luckiest people in Bombay, because the commute time is relatively much smaller than the average and the journey is pretty easy - I get to sit for most of my journey. I come home at a decent  hour right now, but I am still dog tired, and it makes me wonder how billions of women juggle careers, husbands, kids, parents, in-laws, friends, hobbies and homes at the same time. I can barely manage 3! If you are someone like this, I hail you! And you must tell me your secrets.

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I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am concerned about what will happen to this blog. I cannot even tell you how much I love this space and how grateful I am for all that my journey as a blogger has given me. On an average, I have spent 8 hours a day, pretty much every day, reading other blogs (primarily) and writing in my own. I know that this is not sustainable, but I hope that I will not end up feeling like I have no time for this blog. That would be just so very sad! But on the positive side, this job will ensure that the writing here is grammatically sound. That can't  be a bad thing! :D

So I'm gonna sign off now and go to bed.

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Love you all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The end of an era

Today is the last day that I will be a non-working girl... the last day when I will be at home while everyone around me goes to work or to college... the last day of two years when I got to spend every moment, doing only the things that I wanted to do... like a child. Today is my last day of freedom. Today is the end of an era.

24th December 2009 was my last working day. Since then, I have travelled to 13 states in India and three foreign countries, lived in The Himalayas for a month, done 150  hours of yoga to complete the basic course at Agama Yoga, gone to Varanasi - the holiest city of the Hindus, started and nurtured my darling blog, grown thinner and fatter, injured myself in various places {the trend continues - my pinkie is severely burnt right now and is missing several layers of skin. Did you know that flesh looks yellow when it starts healing? Grody!}, read many, many awesome books, called off a wedding, gotten married, learnt how to cook cabbage {barely}and make Chai{very well}, bought a gazillion gorgeous sarees, made no new friends in real life but several ones through my blog, and made no headway into figuring out what I want to do with my life.

The last two years have been epic.

I have been asked a multitude of times whether I get bored sitting at home; whether I feel wasted or like I'm wasting my life. I have been asked, with credulousness and with sarcasm, what I do with my  time and how I could be happy with doing 'nothing'. I have been told by many, that they could never do what I do, and not want to kill themselves. I have been told that I am indeed wasting my life. This is what I have to say about this.

I completely understand why you would feel that I am wasting my life. Ironically, I felt like I was wasting my life when I was working, because the focus in a job is on working, rather than on learning. Of course, this is the point of working - the company is not doing charity and trying to get you to learn  stuff everyday. However, I do learn a lot, lot more when I am sitting at home and reading stuff, than when I am working. How, then, would I feel like I am wasting my life.

I do not get bored because I do something at every moment of my day. I am pretty sure I have ADD - I am not one to sit for a moment and not do anything, because I would get bored. The saying, 'only boring people get bored' has been my  mantra for these two years. Cheeky, right? But I truly believe it. There is so much to read and so much to see in this world that I don't know how you can get bored, ever.

And as to what I do, I read books, I read blogs, I watch a few television shows on the computer with astounding regularity, but I hardly watch television {my life is very purposive!} and I cook. This is what I do.

And as to why I am gonna start working even though I am super happy not working, this is the reason: I don't think that it's fair that my father and Thom  have to support me financially just because I don't want to work. It is absolutely my responsibility to contribute financially to the household and I have put  this off  for way to long. That is why I am going to work and that is why I am ok with doing that.

And as for today, I am going to be nostalgic. And I am going to mourn the passing of these two years. And I am going to rejoice and revel in the fact  that it was beyond spectacular and it was all mine.

Baby, baby, baby, oh

What are you saying!!!!!

I like The Biebs!

And this song... It's a classic!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Up-cycling Girl

There are some people whose work makes you sigh and leaves you with stars in your eyes. They are the ones who make you dream of a better you, who inspire you to sing a better tune and who remind you that it could be you doing something extraordinary with your life this time around.

Look at this. This is the work of Esther Coombs.

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More tea, perhaps?

The London Skyline on a vintage plate!

Esther Coombs, London Skyline, Upcycle, Tea cup and Saucer, Vintage, Ceramics

A stunning cake stand!

These are seed markers for your garden. I would consider settling in the country side if I had things like these in my garden!

etsy find: esther coombs

A housing block tea pot.  

Esther Coombs, Housing Block, Tea Pot, Upcycled, Vintage, Ceramics

Loose Tea and Tea Mugs

British Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea

You must check out her website and her Etsy shop. 

She says this of her work: "I began illustrating discarded ceramics about two years ago, and I have found people want objects in their home that, in addition to being beautiful, are useful and have a story. The cake stands are a particularly pretty way of giving a new lease on life to unwanted crockery. My range has now expanded to include up-cycled china seed markers, up-cycled printed tea towels and the newest addition to my work which I'm very excited about up-cycled cushions."


I might be off the rocker here, but people like her really make me feel like dreams are achievable and that I too can do really whimsical, flighty, fancy things that are not the outcome of the well trodden path... things that I will be proud of when I, lying on my death bed, look back at my life.

Have you ever seen someone's work and felt the same? Does it happen to you all the time or is it something that happens once in a while. {FYI, this happens to me all the time... way too often. I guess I really want to do something epic and leave a legacy of some sort.}

I would love to know what you think. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Puppy Love

5 reasons why I deserve a dog

1. I miss my baby girl Nikki, and while she was as perfect as perfect can be {No one can ever be as perfect and no one can ever take her place.}, I think that she would want me to move on and get someone else to carry on her legacy.

Nicola Kiddog

2. A dog will make me get off my bottom and make me take it for a walk. It might be the only way I will ever exercise. EVER. {And it is cheaper than buying a treadmill.} I think I need to explore this option before giving up on movement altogether. 

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3. A dog will roll around on the floor and clean it. All I'll need to do then, is shower thedog. That can't be all that difficult. {Note to self: Need to buy a dark haired dog with a lot of surface area and fur that doesn't shed.}

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4. I can name my dog whatever I want. Otherwise, I will have to adopt a dozen boys and four score girls to fulfill all my naming needs.

Dog name tags

5. A dog can eat all the leftover food, namely rice and veggies. I am tired of being the human recycle bin wherever I'm at. It's the reason I'm so unhealthy! {Always shift the blame of everything about you onto others and take all the credit!}

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5 reasons why getting a dog may not be such a hot idea right now

1. Any time I tell someone that I need a puppy, they tell me that what I need is a baby! {Now there's a buzz kill if there ever was one!} Why can't I get a dog and then have a baby? If anything, I'll get trained in motherhood in the process! Plus I'll have one more pair of helping hands with the baby.

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2. I hate waking up in the mornings. Dogs don't really care about that kinda stuff.

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3. Tiny one bedroom apartment in an area with an overwhelming number of needlessly aggressive street dogs. Also I start a new job on Monday. 'Nuff said.

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4. I have a sneaking, suspicion that Thom will like the dog more than me. I'm pretty sure, actually. And he won't have to keep telling the dog that it's hairstyle does not make it look fat.

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5. Dogs are so, so, so, so, so cute! They are the cutest thing in the world! Wait. What was this list about, again?

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What's your verdict?

p.s. All images, unless otherwise specified, can be found on Christine Martinez's 'Phodography' board on Pinterest.

Christine's awesome. I love people who love dogs. And guess how many followers she has on Pinterest? 986809. And counting.  Yup. Not kidding.

And she and her darling, darling dog, Miles, have a blog called Miles to Style. Sigh! You have to check it out. Why? Because they have a 'leg up on fashion'! ;) Stylish, and cheeky to boot!  Go Miles!

Profile Picture of Christine Martinez
Miles and Christine. Aren't they darling!!!
And while you're at it, please do visit Caroline Ghetes Photography.

Here is one of her brides. 

She is awesome! I want to jump into a pool with my wedding clothes on too! Oh well. Some other time. 

Also, I wanna be a photographer! Have I said that before?!!!}

Read about her here. It makes for an interesting read. She makes it all sound so achievable!

And please do tell me what you think about my obsession with dogs and what I should do about it! My heart {uterus?} skips a beat any time I see a dog or see a picture of a dog or read about a dog or think about a dog or hear a dog bark. Do I need help?

And the Liebster went to...

Pink, yellow and white

I know that it's Oscar season and everything, but this is just as important, alright?

I just won my first award!

They asked me what the most important thing in the world was, and I said, "World peace, shoes, cupcakes, American television and some more world peace.". And whaddya know! It worked!

Not really. Jane from 'Shoes and interiors to match' very graciously gave me this award.

This is the Liebster award and it is for blogs with under 200 followers. It is intended to make you feel loved, safe and secure, and also drive home the message that every dog has its day. Oops. Every blog has its day.

{Liebster means darling, beloved, favourite, dearest etc. in German. 'Ich Liebe Dich' means I love you in German. 'Ni oru kuthira anu' means I love you in Malayalam. Do try it out if you know anyone from Kerala, India.}

So from the bottom of my heart, I thank my grandparents, my parents, my brother and my darling boyfriend, Thomas-a-Tatamus, for being there always and for buying me red nail polish. Means the world to me.

A big thank you to the universe for the fact that my blog is not so popular that I have more than 200 followers. Wouldn't have worked any other way!

I would also like to thank all you peeps {including my 39 followers}who make my life worth living. Here's to you for being so Liebster!

And lastly, but most importantly, I would like to thank  the academy, namely the splendidly awesome Jane, for giving me this coveted honour. She is an interior designer and her skills are evident and clearly on display on her lovely and tasteful blog. Awesome and inspiring design elements abound there. Check it out yo!

And as for me, I have to now give this award to 5 others, and this is the easiest thing to do 'coz I know some many darling bloggers.

So the Liebster goes to

1. Megs

2. Sarah

3. Catherine

4. Skye

5. Jules

You guys are all Liebsters to me. Carry on the good work. :)

The rules are:
  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  4. Reveal your 5 blog picks.
  5. Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment.
Or don't. Whatever you want to do, do do that. But it's nice to share the love.

Hugs and kisses,

Your Liebster Lizzie

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This may or may not be me, jumping in joy on winning. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

This is {fabulous}!

There are a few things that I wanna say today.

Chocolate wrapped in a love letter in a pretty pink box... This might just be the most perfect Valentine's Day Gift ever. {Are you listening, Taye Diggs and Mr. Thomas? This is all I want!}

Martha Stewart is da bomb!

Also, did you know this?
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as food agencies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, advises against washing poultry. Rinsing chicken will not remove or kill much bacteria, and the splashing of water around the sink can spread the bacteria found in raw chicken. Cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit effectively destroys the most common culprits behind food-borne illness."
Makes sense to me! Am I the only one who did not know this?

I have fallen in love with the raw, unabashed beauty of the blog, We Live Young. Photographers Nirrimi (19) and Matt just had the most beautiful baby girl, and here, she talks about her birthing experience. And here, she talks about why she wants to have children young.

Chantelle's blog, Fat Mum Slim, has the most captivating and concise 'About Me' page that I have ever seen.

Are you thinking about going green but don't know where to start? I am! I have been, since I saw Captain Planet when I was ten and  knew that I had to change the world. Read Eco Novice's amazing blog. It's interesting and full of useful tips. And the best part? She is not preachy!

This list of '10 things that have made all the difference in marriage' is so sweet! I wonder what my list would be, 5 years into marriage. Do you have a list of your own? Will you tell me if I say 'Pretty please!'?

What's your favourite tea? {Just curious.} Mine's Earl Grey with lemon. But aren't these gorgeous! I would want to frame them for my kitchen wall!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

All work and no pay

Just click on the picture to enlarge. 

High up in the Himalayas, during one of the last sessions in our 150 hour long basic Yoga course at Agama, Monica, our instructor, gave us a very valuable lesson. "Never teach yoga, or anything else for that matter, for free.", she said. "You might think that you are sharing your knowledge and making the world a better place, but you are, in fact, encouraging your students to not value their new found knowledge, simply because they received it for free. It is in human nature to not understand and appreciate the worth of something, simply because they haven't paid for it. Charge something, even if it is nominal, and it will make a world of difference to you and to them."

I am terrible at asking for money. When I went for my first ever job interview, they asked me how much I was expecting to get paid, and I spontaneously blurted out, "Rs. 3000 - 5000 per month.".{This is equivalent to about $100.} And we were talking about a 10 hours a day, 6 days a week job in the most expensive city in India. It is a miracle that my interviewer did not laugh in my face. But they did end up paying me Rs. 8000 per month {Thank God they didn't listen to me!}, which in retrospect, is still an incredibly terrible salary.

There are many reasons for why I thought the way I did {and probably still do}.

1. Asking for money is classless. It's like going to a Louis Vuitton shop, finding out the price of the newest trolley bag and then telling the shopkeeper that it is too expensive for you. A girl's gotta always act like money's no matter for her. 

I wholly understand how ridiculous this sounds! I am as silly as silly goes. And I no longer feel this way. At least, not entirely.

2. Money is too 'base' a need, as compared to motives like service, love, kindness, compassion, and upliftment.

I am a little bit of an 'I wanna change the world and as long as I can do that in some way, nothing else matters' kinda girl. But the point of this is lost if this behaviour itself is not self sustainable. When I was in the aforementioned job, I could barely pay the rent for my crappy apartment, let alone buy food and other supplies. My father supported me a lot financially at that time. Therefore, while I thought that I would be doing a good deed by not asking for money from a really, really rich woman who was making a socially relevant film, and hence was trying to cut costs, my father had to pay the price for it. And that is absolutely not fair.

3. I should not have to ask for anything. People need to know what I deserve and give it to me. 

{Yup. This makes me a prize as a partner. Ask my husband!}

Employers need to be fair and true, and offer employees what they really are worth at every stage of their career. 

This is really a whole lotta jazz, for the most part at least. I have figured this out the long hard way, with not just what has happened to me,{I have been underpaid and overpaid.} but also from the lives of pretty much everyone around me. Some get paid way more than they deserve and some get paid way less. It's all part of the circle of life. And that is why you need to be fair while you are quoting your price, and you also need to negotiate. {Here, by 'you', I really mean 'me'.}

Well, that's about it. These three reasons, combined, make me terrible at asking for money and even if I do get myself to do that with a great deal of trouble, I buckle under pressure and the whole 'negotiation process'  falls flat instantly.

In any case, I'd like to think that it all evens out in the end. It better!!! Otherwise, by the time I reach the Pearly Gates, the Universe will owe me a few million bucks!

This ingenious flowchart is by 'letterer, illustrator, type nerd, and secret web designer', Jessica Hische, whom I am a big fan of.  My blog button is made with letters created by her.