It’s been 6 months since my fellowship journey started and it’s been a continuous learning process. My days have been filled with highs and lows. In this period with swings of highs and lows, I think I found the key to thrive in this journey.
It’s surreal to experience a sense of development in your self – counting small milestones and not undermining ourselves. I have gone from being a girl who used to whine and always have self-doubts to figuring out ways to get the most of even gloomy days.
I think appreciation and validation helps all of us, and I too want to show-off the new, improved me. More than show-off, I want to share the small things that helped me become calmer and find peace within myself. Staying away from family and outside my comfort zone in a completely new area, one thing that got instilled in me was the need to recharge my soul by having a little me time every day.
In our fast-paced world, we just get caught up in day-to-day grind ticking off tasks from our list and forget to take care of ourselves. One might not even realise that one is simply ticking the tasks off the list. For instance in start of my fellowship days I had tasks like – interacting with the community , listing down issues in village, etc in my to-do list. So I went on interacting with people with a motive of just knowing the issues prevalent in the village. It took me sometime to realise while I might have ticked off things from the list but I forgot the larger vision of truly understanding and connecting with the community. In the race of ticking things off the list, I missed out on being present in the moment and later reflecting on what happened. My time in trainings and on field have made me realise the importance of reflecting and a neutral third person perspective of situations.
Different forms of art and crafts calms me down and allows me to reboot. Art helps me in interpreting and expressing my emotions. The forms of art I use range from dancing to painting to doodling . Having a language barrier with my community, I felt I couldn’t establish a strong connect and rapport with community it was through crafting session with SHG women that made me feel I am thriving and all I need is a little push and try different things.
I would like to share an instance that made me ponder and write about ‘me-time’ and it also made me wonder how privileged we are to know the importance of recharging one’s soul and also being able to take time out for it. It was during one of session- DREAMS, when I casually asked what these women do for themselves, they didn’t seem to understand the question.
Later, when I explained what I mean, they told me they love taking care of their household and have never thought of doing something for themselves. The idea of “me-time” was new to them.
Even in sessions whenever I asked what will they do if they earn money, all of them will reply that we will get things for our children and save some money for unforeseen circumstances.
To make them realise the power of me-time, to reflect for mental well-being, I conducted a crafting session as a team building activity. The activity was for 45 minutes and those 45 minutes I saw all the women so engaged, smiling and giggling. For that little time, they looked worry-free, expressing themselves through paints and designs. I could see how elated they were after the completion of dream catcher. As the session got over they all wanted to share their feelings on how this session distracted them for a while and made them happy without any efforts. They also gave me suggestions for the next session.
One doesn’t realize how a small activity can make us forget all worries and tasks and distractions. Art and craft can be a great means of connecting and creating a bond with people. It helps us find common interest with others and such collaborative exercises can help build trust and communication. Little did I know that my way of me-time can become a activity and help me create bonds where language isn’t a barrier.
This bond is now helping me create apparels for myself with women in my village. The process of making a garment with them is fun, as they are very skeptical of the designs I draw. They still go along and after stitching, once we have the final product they say, “we didn’t expect it to come out so good and look so good on you!” Now they often ask me what other new types of design and products are there available in the market and can we learn to make them.