Nothing is as sad as superficiality

Positive vibes. Spirituality. Positivity.

These terms have been become so overused and meaningless in the past few years.

I merely see them as fancy hashtags for Instagram posts. The recent trend.

Don’t get me wrong, I was following this trend as well. However since the beginning of this year, I started to go through a whole mental, emotional and spiritual change. My whole way of thinking began to evolve. I can feel that I am vibrating on a whole new frequency. This shift is scaring the hell out of me, but the more I become aware of it and talk about it, the more I am accepting and embracing this new me.

I just feel like so many individuals are living a life for a very superficial and monetary purpose. Money. Status. Please others. Please self on a superficial level. There is deeper sense of being, which I strongly believe in. We are born for a higher purpose. This higher purpose is short of being easy. On my route to finding my higher purpose, to serve others, I have been becoming more and more aware of myself. This awareness is scary as hell. You start to realise that there is a lot more to our creation.

What we are currently experiencing is a mere illusion. It takes a lot of courage to delve deep and figure out where we sit in this world. What purpose we are going to serve to make this place a better place…because guess what, that is what this messed up world needs more of. Humans who have built a life to serve others and help create a better generation of humans for the centuries to come.

A weekend in Bath

I took a very private trip to Bath with my boyfriend this weekend.

My definition of ‘private’ is that I did not tell many people I was actually going. Not my friends, my family. I basically did not make a big fuss. My boyfriend and I wanted some alone time without the distractions of being in our ‘normal’ environments.

Honestly it was such a beautiful time. My boyfriend and I had some quality alone time where we truly got to enjoy our own company. I felt like we both spent a lot of time with each other in London (where he lives/I come from) or Birmingham (where I currently live); but we have never really taken time out to travel together, which is something we both wanted to do. Living in different cities, where both of us work on different full-time work schedules, with our side hustles, does make that much harder to sort any time to meet up, let alone plan holidays haha!

It was a miracle that we managed to find a weekend where both of us were free so we made it happen!

Bath was amazing and we are both into learning so we made the most of it. We went to the Roman Baths and spent a good half of the day taking a tour around the site – learning, discussing and teaching other what we learnt. After a beautiful lunch, we then had the best time at Thermae Bath Spa. We both needed detox time. We spent a good hours, without our phones, not taking photos, and just enjoying each other’s company relaxing, unwinding and feeling grateful about the life we had.

After the beautiful spa afternoon, we brought the evening to an end with Indian Fine dining (so our style!). We spent time talking about our peaks and pits of our day and what we were looking forward to. Our day came to an end.

Now for those who know us well, would know that my boyfriend is very into cars. As a result I have become more clued up about cars! So on our second day, we went to car showrooms and managed to test drive some cars in Bath! What an experience.

The reason I wanted to share this is because by reflecting on how much of a wonderful time we had, I am able to feel that much more grateful about the relationship I am in. From the outside, not many people understand the relationship between me and my boyfriend. We have been judged by many for numerous reasons. Nonetheless we have stood strong by each other. I am so grateful that he has been by my side no matter what others have put us through. And taking this time for us and appreciating why we love each other so much has made me more aware of how amazing of a human being he is.

To my dearest mother,

You are honestly an inspirational human being. This letter is from me to you, to say how much I love you and am proud of you.

There was once a time when we did not really see eye-to-eye. We had so many differences. Your values were different to mine. Ultimately we just did not vibe, the way I dreamt a mother-daughter to vibe.

I used to look around and be jealous of other mothers and daughters and I wanted that for myself. I started blaming you for me not having that.

I realise how wrong I was. Now, all I do is love you and be proud of you. What has brought about such a change in me? Well it is where I am at right now, and what I see on a daily basis through my job.

You were always a very ambitious woman. You were smart, grounded, knew what you wanted in life and did all you can as teenage girl, living Sri Lanka (amongst all the political stresses against the Tamil community) to live your dreams.

You wanted to be of service to others, and managed to work a great job at one of the top banks in Colombo. Then you got married, and came to London, putting all your faith into a man you hardly knew (my wonderful father – honestly he is such a legend, and can’t wait to write about him soon!).

You had to start from scratch in the UK. You did courses at a local college and successfully got qualifications, and managed to find yourself jobs. You were a girl in her mid to late twenties, trying to navigate herself around the busy London, figuring out tubes, travelling in the late hours on public transport on your own. You proved that you had a courage like no other.

Then I was born! You started to juggle motherhood and working full-time as a mother of a toddler so perfectly. You proved to me again how strong a woman can be. You put your family first and understood the importance of working to support your husband to provide for your small, imperfectly perfect family.

You managed like this for 6 years before my sister was born. During this time, you were blessed with the help your own mother, whom you managed to get London, all the way from Sri Lanka. Grandma’s time in the UK, was short. Two years following the birth of my little sister, your second daughter, grandma was lost to cancer.

Two young children in your hand, a family to bring up, and having lost your own mother. Honestly, you stood strong and became an even stronger woman. At this point you and dad had the ‘talks’ and decided it was best for you to stop working so you can look after me and my sister, whilst dad provided financially for the family.

This time was life-changing for me and little sister. You learnt driving so you could take us to all our classes: dance, music, swimming, tuition; and all our dance and music shows. You sacrificed your evenings waiting in the car whilst sister and I had 1-3 hour classes. You sacrificed your social life so you could be there for us to make us endless cups of tea when we had exams coming up. Your sacrificed couple-time with dad, so you could embrace and comfort us when we were stressed out with life.

When we started university, you sacrificed your weekends: making food for us to take back to university; doing our laundry because we were spoilt brats who did not know how to do the washing; ultimately making sure we had a stress-free time at university.

Basically you started living your life, for us. That became your purpose and that still is.

I have come to the biggest realization. I am able to live the life of my dreams, pursuing my passions in various avenues, because of all your sacrifices. I cannot imagine a life where I am not able to be a doctor, a dancer and blogger. I cannot imagine a life where I do not live independently. I will always want to live on my own two feet. But for me to have the courage to be the person I am now, you sacrificed your independence and dreams. I can only imagine how scary that must be, because the thought alone makes me sad and anxious.

You sacrificed your whole life for me and sister (and dad, but dad is dad! Haha). We became your world, your social life, your passion, your love. You CHOSE to make us your world. Our successes are not ours. They are yours.

Amma, our relationship is not perfect. But it is nonetheless beautiful. I love how we are working on it on a daily basis. I love this new openness we have, and I can’t wait for more of such beautiful memories together, because amma, you are a superhero in my eyes.

So damn proud of myself

I am going to keep this short.

I’m so proud of myself!

Today I went to cinema on my own, for the first time in my life, and watched Aladdin (2019).

Now you may be thinking, seriously is that all Praveena?! Actually this is big deal for me. I have always done things with other people. If there are things I want to do, and no one else is on board, I have not pursued it. I decided a few weeks ago that this needs to change. If I want to do something, however big or small it is, I just need to do it.

I have always been the person to get a little anxious when I have to do things on my own. When I found out Aladdin was coming out today, I literally booked a ticket for myself without a second thought. I just couldn’t be bothered to ask around and wait to go with other people. I wanted to go so I booked it. However, today at work, the thought of going on my own got me very anxious. I was so close to not going to the cinema. I spoke to my boyfriend who said, ‘Praveena, you are going.’ (Gosh I do love him for his tough love). So I came back from work, showered, and then left to go to the cinema. I bought popcorn for myself, went to the theatre and queued outside on my own and sat on my own.

Literally it was the best decision ever!

May this be the beginning of a journey or self-love and self-development, where I grow more and more courage to do things and be present as much as I can. If I have a burning desire to do something, I don’t need to wait for anyone. I should just do it! Even if that means I am on my own.

By the way, the movie was so epic!! It reminded me of my childhood dreams of wanting to become a princess!

I mean…I don’t know

I cannot believe that the last time I wrote here was over three months ago.
Honestly I have been wanting to share the whirlwind of emotions I have been going through. I have made a start to write. I have paused. I have disliked it; I have become more anxious; I have started over-thinking about who is going to read it, and why those who may come across my writing would even care about my emotions and feelings…so I delete what I have written and go to bed feeling unaccomplished and more anxious than ever.

A lot has happened to me in the past few months, and I would like to say it is for the better. I am growing to be a wiser, more humane person. I have started to forgive. I have started to break down all the grudges I have held against others. I have started to share more positivity. I have come to terms with my own pain and disappointment, which I have felt with myself and others. Basically, I am growing up at a rate faster than ever before.

You might be thinking, okay why is she blabbering on so aimlessly. On the contrary, you might not think anything at all. I mean why do I do I need worry about what you may be thinking? I have spent too many months worrying so much about what others may be thinking of me, that I have stopped thinking about what I think about myself.

I honestly do not even know the purpose of this post. I just needed to release a lot of tension in my mind, and give credit for myself. It has been a hard few months for me mentally and emotionally. I have been fighting many internal battles. I am not writing for anyone’s sympathy. I am just writing for my own peace of mind. The lack of any structure to this just shows how jumbled my mind has been.

But Praveena, do not worry, it is getting better. You are getting better. Do not waste your time worrying so much about what others think of you. You are so freaking amazing. You have been through so much, and you are coming out of it all stronger than ever. You are so freaking strong. I am proud of you.

PS: I do apologise to those, if any, reading this. It may serve no purpose to you, but it is serving a huge purpose to me. That is all that matters.

Alive, Well, Happy & Grateful

It has been quite a while since I blogged. I have been so busy with medicine and dance which has meant that finding the time to sit down have time for myself to reflect on my life and thoughts has been a lot more difficult. However, I am back, and I have a few things I would like to talk about.

Firstly, ‘work’. I say this in inverted commas because I seriously do not see medicine as work. It is my passion. I am grateful that I can say this. I love waking up in the mornings, I look forward to Mondays and do feel sad when Fridays come. Yes, I am a very bizarre human being! I was never that ‘perfect’ medical student. Truthfully, I did not enjoy being a medical student as much as I enjoy being a Doctor. I feel so purposeful now and I realize how worth-it all those years of hardship were. I am still clueless most of the time, and I have several moments when I have to turn to my colleagues and the amazing nursing staff to help me out. I have even experienced moments where I was so near to tears in the middle of the ward. Nonetheless, this is what being a Doctor is all about – LEARNING and GROWING, not just as a Doctor but as a human being. I am so much more driven to be a good Doctor, seeing first-hand and working with some amazing ones. Ultimately, it is not easy at all and most of the time I have no idea what I am doing; but the key here is, I am doing my best and turning to someone for support when I need to. This is just the beginning of my medical career. I have so much more learning to do, so many more exams to sit, but for now I am enjoying every moment of my medical career however pain-staking and stressful it gets.

Secondly, dance. I do not think many people believe me when I say I have dance rehearsals pretty much every day of the week. Well I do! If I am not doing anything medicine related, I am doing something dance related. This could include working on dance shows, wedding choreography or own projects. Currently I am focusing on the former two. I do not want to say much about it now but do trust me when I say I am busy with dance rehearsals.

Last but not least, YouTube. Now this is one I have wanted to have a heart-to-heart about, with you. The reason is because I have not been amazing with staying on top of YouTube. This year I set myself a goal of wanting to be more active with producing YouTube videos – dance videos, tutorials, discussions. However, I have only managed to release on dance video and two discussion videos about dance. I have been meaning to film another video but I have not had the motivation to film it. I am not going to make any soppy excuses here. I would like to be open and honest. I did want to try YouTube and I am glad I did, but, is it for me? Unfortunately not; well not now anyway. I wanted to give YouTube a go and I am glad I did; I got such a wonderful response to my videos. So many of you were very encouraging and spreading so much positivity which made me feel very grateful. YouTube, however, takes a lot of commitment and time. At this point in my life, with my medical career, dance shows/projects, wedding choreography business, I am struggling to find the perfect time to film and release good-quality content. Therefore, for the time being, I am going to pause with my YouTube videos. I do not want to promise that I will be back on YouTube; I will try my best to produce content in the future if time and circumstances permit. I will blog about the topics I wanted to create videos on, so keep your eyes peeled.

I would like to thank everyone for your patience with me. I believe that I do not need to post constantly on social media to prove that I am doing something purposeful/useful, which is why it may seem like I have gone very quiet…but folks, I am alive, well, happy and grateful!

Lots of love,
Praveena

PS: Feel free to message me if you have any questions about medicine, dance, blogging, YouTube, or anything really. Would love to hear from you!

Life as a Competitive Dancer

I watched a Tamil movie called Lakshmi last weekend. The day before I watched this movie, I was on stage in front of an audience of 1600 competing in my first ever professional Bhangra competition. Therefore, watching Lakshmi really struck a chord with me. This is why I am sat here right now blogging (after what seems like ages). Lakshmi is a movie which probably hit a chord or two for every single individual who has watched this movie so far. Dancers who struggle to convince their conservative parents of how important dance is to them will really understand the emotions of the protagonist who struggled, as a child, having to face the same issue. Dancers who have experienced stage fright would really understand how the protagonist felt on her first ever stage performance, whilst being blinded by the strong stage lights and immense crowd. Dancers, who have experienced relationship problems as a result of their arduous dance training schedules, will be able to relate to this movie as well. Those who do not dance may want their child to become as strong of a dancer as the protagonist is in the movie, or maybe even not!

For me however, watching this movie really hit home regarding the life of a competitive dancer. This includes: the auditioning phase; getting onto the team; sacrificing free-time/family-time/social life for training; facing failures as a dancer and as a team member; fighting through pain whilst struggling on stage; protecting and fighting for your team-members no matter what; knowing the feeling of having your team as your new-found family and willing to sacrifice anything and everything for this new family. All these factors get amplified 100-fold when dancers are also balancing another professional career or degree as well.

I competed in my first ever dance competition at the age of 9 years old. At that age I had no idea that I would be spending a large proportion of my dance career training for and competing in competitions. But here I am now, 15 years on, having competed in 11 national dance competitions: 3 Bharathanatyam competitions, 1 Bollywood, 2 Gaana/Tamil Cinematic Dance and 5 Bhangra competitions. Of the 11, 8 of them happened in the last 3 years!

I am writing this to showcase the realities of training for a dance competition. It is tough. It is not as glamorous as it sounds or looks. The final product that the audience sees is merely a 5-10 minutes result of more than at least 100 hours of training. The sacrifices competitive dancers make to perform the way they do on stage are terrific.

I am writing this blog as an awareness to those who do not know of what we, as competitive dancers, go through on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Many of us competitive dancers have sacrificed spending time with family and friends on numerous occasions. There have been times when I have not seen my family for 3 months! I have whole-day dance training during the weekends; I have university/work during the weekdays. I cannot jeopardize my team at any point. Ultimately I have signed up to investing my weekends into dance training, so I cannot just turn around and say, I cannot go training because I feel homesick, unless of course something urgent crops up.

The overall lifestyle of a competitive dancer is very different to that of a normal person. Firstly, I have to think twice about what I eat – I do not eat out; I cook my own food which I try to keep as clean as possible; I stay away from Tamil food, even if it is home-cooked. Secondly, I have to be cautious about what social and physical activities I do; for example, I have to avoid going out because I do not want to feel drained for training the next day and I want to feel well rested before training. Finally, competitive dancers have to get used to living with injuries – shin splints, blisters, muscle aches – I spend most of my time outside of training dosed up on maximum pain-relief and walking like a penguin, because of how many injuries I suffer. Even as I write this now, I am typing with my right hand because I pulled by biceps muscle in my left arm during training for my most recent competition I took part last weekend. No imagine this being our normal life for the most part of a year. Yep, that’s our life!

Training to be a competitive dancer means you are training to be an athlete. So yes, it is extremely difficult, but what is worth keeping will not come easy. I do not regret any part of this journey at all, because with every competition I have become more and more of a committed and disciplined individual. Every competition enables me to hone myself into a better dancer as well as a better human being and that is all I care about right now. Onwards and upwards.

Don’t take for granted freedom of speech

Words are so powerful. They have the ability to make or break any situation.

I’ve seen so many use words so powerfully to create such an impact in society. That is what I call inspirational.

In contrast, there are people who use the term ‘freedom of speech’ to talk bad about others and harm/hurt others. This is what I call an embarrassment to humanity.

If more and more individuals understood the power of their words and how to tailor it to meet the needs of society, we would all be growing at an exponential rate!

Love with no judgement

Spiritual practice is not easy. It takes time. Praying, meditating and chanting mantras are a fraction of this vast world.

I believe spirituality comes from a place of love, where our thoughts, words and actions are positively in line with each other.

Spiritual practice and spirituality is truly tested in the way we think of and treat those who have done harm to us, or those we have a reason to dislike. If we turn to them and embrace them with love and forgiveness, that is when our spirituality is truly rewarded.

Medical School, Dance and everything else

‘Praveena, how do you manage Medical school, dance, blogging and everything else you do?!’

I am not going to give you the cliched ‘Time management’, ‘organisation’, ‘commitment’ talk. That is given in life regardless of what you want to pursue.

I am going to tell you how much I struggled. Honestly it was tough. Society prefers me to do one or the other, but not everything. This is because society does not believe that I can do all of it well.

I wanted to prove society wrong. I think it is completely okay to have a passion for multiple things. I think it is also okay to pursue it simultaneously with the right mindset.

Being a medical student (now doctor!), dancer/choreographer, having a small wedding choreo business and blogging sounds glamorous but it involved a lot of sacrifices at different stages of my life.

To pursue my medical studies, there were moments in my life that I had to stop dancing. To pursue dancing, there were moments when I had to put dance over medicine. When I wanted to establish my business, I had to sacrifice my health and well being and travel more between cities (driving two hours from Birmingham to London and back doesn’t sound as strenuous but imagine doing that nearly every weekend for the past year!). To blog, I had to invest so much more time into reading.

To pursue it all at the same time, I had to sacrifice my social life big time…and I still do. I couldn’t go out as much because I would have to be awake early the next day to drive back to London/Birmingham. I stopped watching TV shows for a whole year, because I genuinely did not have the time. The big reminder is, this is the CHOICE I made. Others may not be like that and that’s completely fine. Just remember to make a choice that is true to what you want.

During each stage of this process there were failures and disappointments I experienced. As a result I was constantly being judged for my choices. By several people, but I put that all to the side because I knew exactly what I was doing. It may have not been the way others may have done it, but that’s okay because I am slowly getting through it.

Sometimes the balance has tipped and I have made mistakes. It was not all as smooth as it looks. My health, my education, my dance career, business, blogging have all suffered at some point or another. Nonetheless, finding the drive to get through and find the light at the end of the tunnel was key.

Moral of the story – be ready to sacrifice. Be ready to commit. Be ready for criticism. Make the choices to pursue what you love. You do not need anyone’s permission except your own to do good. So just do it!

The journey has only just begun. Being a student did make it a lot easier to pursue everything I wanted to and establish a strong foundation for my passions. I will start working in a month and a half. Therefore, work life is going to present to me a whole new set of challenges, so I do not know what is going to happen and how difficult it is going be. That’s the perks of life though right…ready to take on the next set of challenges to further establish my profession, passion and everything else.