A business coach for life, or a life coach for business? Its quite the same.

Professionally, for the last year or so, I felt as if I am at the foot of a hill trying to climb my way up. I am trying to bring more sense and structure into our company and struggling to find time for fulfilling my dream of writing.

About 10-11 months back when we realised that the growing business needed to graduate from a family run enterprise into a more corporatised structure, we were confused where to begin. Suddenly everything felt as if needed to be over-hauled. Outlook had to be changed before bringing in any systemic changes. Our company Anchrom was started 38 years back by my father and mother-in-law and most people in the company are older than Akshay and me and have much more experience at Anchrom.You can imagine the reluctance of people to adapt to change, I am myself averse to it. But some things have to be done. I did not know where to start. Days and nights were spent worrying. Anxiety, acidity and heart-burn were not far behind. Thats when my father-in-law suggested that we talk to Mr. Uday Arur – his business coach and long-time friend and mentor. With 23 years of holding managerial position in pharma companies and then being a business and life coach for 13 years, we knew he was perfect for us. But what startled me was that during these 4 months of coaching, he pushed me to find the answers which lay within. He believed, like any good mentor should, that I am fully capable of doing the things that I want and need to do and that its only a matter of going towards it full throttle.

Now I am a staunch believer of conversations and the fact that talking can help sort every difficulty. Sometimes is in the form of talking to my mom/husband/best friend or sometimes it is introspection or writing in a journal. Or sometimes talking to a mentor/ a coach who will guide you through it. While doing CA or while even growing up as a young girl I never wanted to work in my own business. Coming from middle class salaried background, I always wanted to do a job, where monthly salary is guaranteed. But life as we know it – always has different plans. I fell in love with a guy I knew from school, got married and started working in our own group of companies. And I terribly enjoy it. The process of building something together is exhilarating for me. But it comes with its own set of challenges, a very different working environment. My father-in-law, the MD and founder of the company, always supports Akshay and me in the decisions we take and gently guides us if we are not seeing a side of the story. Still, I always self-doubted my decisions. I lacked the confidence to make rules and implement them. But Uday sir convinced me that I should go ahead with full authority. He asked questions to make me delve deeper, consistently kept on asking me to examine where a particular fear was coming from, sometimes listed to my rants about misogyny for hours, took notes to make sense of my ramblings and constantly pushed me one step further towards believing in myself. I see that I am a new person now. I dress up well while coming to the office (even though it is just 5 minutes away), I don’t feel shy about being assertive. I also find that people have started taking me seriously, my staff and colleagues seem to be more forthcoming. Do they see the clarity in my head or is it that I just feel they do because I believe in myself now? I don’t know yet, but I love being in this positive frame of work and plan to leverage it to our benefit.

One day, Uday Sir bluntly told us to not take our acidity and stress as a badge of honour. It is in-fact something that needs to be worked on and eliminated to be able to work most productively. And ever since I stopped believing that high amount of stress = high productivity, I have stopped having headaches. I feel calmer and poised. I find time to write, follow my passions and still steer the company in the direction we want it to take.

A few weeks back, a fellow mentor from MMI asked me to recommend her some books to navigate through a rough patch of life. I am going to urge her to find a mentor, a coach who will help her. Who she can talk to without being afraid of judgements. Who will help her find a way for herself, because as we all know, some of the most sticky problems in life get sorted only by looking inward. The answer is right there, someone just needs to show her a way to unravel it.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear your stories of your favourite mentors.

Take care,

xoxo

Rutvika

Australian Lamingtons and Separation Anxiety

I am not sure how much three-month old babies understand, but like all moms, I think my baby is super smart. Yeah, let me tell you why I think so:

  1. After my first day of work, baby boy protested my absence by crying. Yes, crying in my hands and then stopping once in the arms of his grandmother. And he continued to look at me and cry in a complaining tone ‘How did you leave me and go? How am I supposed to know when you will come back?!” And so on. It continued for five minutes (which is very long when a baby is crying), and then I scooped him up, held him close and whispered in his ears till he calmed down. Luckily for me, he soon forgot all about it and started giving his toothless smiles.

  2. Next day : He knows that I am all dressed up and will go to office after feeding him. So while he is nursing, he tightly clutches my kurta with his little fingers, and starts wailing as soon as I position him for burping. My otherwise cooperative boy, is throwing tantrums now. I start feeding him again and he just wants to suckle, while not hungry. To stop me from going to work. I go, nevertheless, but with a delay.

  3. Everyday now, once I dress up and get ready to go to work and then when I start nursing him, he cries. He may have associated my deodorant smell to me going to office. It feels surreal, but that’s the only nursing time when he is crying. It does break my heart and I took a leave one day, but he will have to get used to it. So the next day, I braced myself and went to work.

He is a man of discipline, my little boy. Exactly at 9.30 at night, he gets cranky. Only till the time that we take him to his bedroom. Then I start the daily nightly ritual of some massage, changing his clothes etc and he enjoys it. But he has to be taken to the bedroom at 9.30 or else he cries as if I haven’t fed him in ages. He has a set routine and detects any change in it. And detests it. I won’t be surprised if he soon starts making baby to-do lists in little planners with a tiny pen. (How incredibly proud that would make me of him, don’t even ask.)

No, but seriously, baby boy Ar. has definitely noticed that I disappear for most part of the day. He may not know what to make of it, and so he gets cranky. Even when he is extremely fond of his ajji. And my mom thinks he has also lost some weight. But you know she is an advocate of “baby-needs-mom-a-lot-and-then-some-more” and so she may be over-reacting. But baby boy is crankier than before. I admit that.

Strangely, when I was growing up, I was convinced that I would be a stay at home mum for at least first 5 years when my kid(s) is small. I have no idea what that notion was based on, but as time flew by and I actually got married and had a kid, the need to work and have a life beyond home and the baby has become immense. I am sure Ar. will soon get used to it, we will find our new normal, but for now, we have some separation anxiety.

Sometimes when my mom and mom-in-law say that he is very fond of his mother, I think they are saying it to make me feel better. Or perhaps to encourage me to form a closer bond between me and the baby. But may be what they are saying is true. And he does recognise and prefer his mother over the others. It’s a double-edged sword though. How guilty it makes me feel to goto the market or even to go for an exercise walk after already being out of the house most day for work. But certain things need to be done. This is life.

But one thing is for sure. When I am at home, I am at the mercy of his smiles, gurgles and coos.

*******       *******       *******

For a long time I wanted to make these Australian finger cakes called Lamingtons. They are basically cubes of yellow cake dipped in chocolate frosting and coated with coconut. When I saw this recipe of HomeBakersGuild, I knew I had to make them. I am very fond of fresh coconut and hence used fresh coconut to coat my lamingtons. It made the cake very soft and juicy, if I may say so. And the pastel color looks super cute.

Lamingtons 2

Pastel Lamingtons

What you will need :

For the simple cake :

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour / maida
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

For white chocolate icing and decoration:

  • 170 gm white chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • few drops of food color
  • 3 grated fresh coconut

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20 cm cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder and keep it ready.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy with a hand blender.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and incorporate.
  5. Add milk and vanilla extract and blend well.
  6. Now fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, one cup at a time.
  7. Pour in prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  8. Let it cool, then trim off the browned edges and cut the cake into squares.
  9. Make the chocolate icing by heating chopped chocolate, butter, milk in  saucepan till they melt.
  10. Take it off the heat and icing sugar.
  11. Add food color as desired.
  12. Roll the cake cubes in the chocolate, one at a time and then in desiccated coconut. Sprinkle with some strawberry jam for decoration.

Notes :

  • The browned part of the cake tastes extremely delicious, eat it up straight away.
  • The icing can get a bit sticky while rolling the cake. You can even hold it with a fork and pour the icing over it.
  • If you roll it in dry desiccated coconut , the cubes will be drier and easier to handle. But I prefer the crunch of fresh coconut.

Lamingtons

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta and the end of my maternity leave

This week is the last week of my maternity leave and I will soon resume work. It is difficult to believe that it’s been 3 months since I gave birth , since the first time my baby boy tightly held my little finger till his fingertips looked white. He still does that, but now he wants to firmly hold on to my index finger. And he looks directly into my eyes, follows me as I move from one side to the other while doing my chores and sometimes I just move to check his ability to follow me. He has also graduated from ‘newborn’ clothes to ‘3-6 months’ set of tee shirts and onesies. And my little boy now generously showers everyone with that toothless gummy smile.

I talk to him a lot. I tell him how momma needs to go to office now, but his ajji will take care of him. He coos as if he understands, but makes me promise him that I will cuddle and hug him as soon as I come home. I promise, he animatedly waves his hands and I pick him up. He is my son, we have a connection and he knows momma will be happier when she works.

As for me, it’s been four months since I am at home. Initially bed rest for a month and then these three months. Now that my baby has a set routine, it gives me time to think of things beyond him. I have to restart from the basic things. I have nothing to wear, pregnancy has made me an L from an M and I need to go shopping. My hair is in a frizzy mess, good foot wear is non existent and my sense of traffic has gone for a toss. I ride my two wheeler at the speed of 20, because after being home-borne for 4 months, even 20 kmph seems very fast. I gotta get back on track before I can resume work.

It’s strange the ways in which motherhood can change you. It has made me paranoid. I worry over his every sneeze, try to monitor his next milestone and insist on placing his blanket exactly at the same place every night.  Moreover I am constantly worried that something might happen to me when the baby is so fully dependent on me. Every fast approaching vehicle feels as if it will bump into me and give a bloody fracture. And so I need to start working. I need to start spending some amount of time away from baby worries otherwise it would make me go crazy.

My baby is exclusively breastfed and I plan to continue that for another 3 months. Office is close by so I can drop in for his feeding times and perhaps also express milk for alternate feedings. It’s a good thing, I will be on my toes. And anyway work expands to fill the time available. So I guess I will be able to do justice at my workplace too.

This baby boy and hence we as parents are lucky. He has one set of grandparents living with him (or we living with them) and another set of grandparents just 5 minutes away. And all four of them dote on him and are indulgent babysitters. It makes it so much easier for me to go out, knowing that he is in very good hands. In fact it becomes my responsibility to be very efficient at work and at home since I have a strong support system.

But right now when I look at him having a conversation with his beloved ceiling fan,  I wonder if I will constantly miss him while at work.

May be. But I need to slightly detach to attach better.

Xoxo,

Loving mama

*******       *******       *******

For the last few days, I have been baking and cooking a lot. Experimenting with new flavors and textures. And one such byproduct is this Balsamic Mushroom Pasta. I like my pasta little well cooked so that it melts in the mouth with the creamy balsamic glaze. Without much ado, presenting a simple pasta dish which can be whipped up in half an hour.

Mushroom pasta

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta

What you will need :

  • 2 cups mushroom, washed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup penne, cooked al dente for 10 to 12 minutes or as per instructions on the packet
  • 1 cup water in which the pasta was boiled
  • 3-4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar / balsamic glaze
  • 2 cubes or 40 gms Cheedar cheese cubes, grated
  • dried oregano, basil or other herbs as per taste

Pasta in a pot

What to do :

  1. In a big pot, melt butter and olive oil. Add the mushrooms and let them cook on medium heat till soft.
  2. Then add the chopped or crushed garlic and stir.
  3. Ad the cream and salt and mix well on low heat.
  4. Then add the pasta to this. Mix well.
  5. Add water and milk to the pan and cover and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat so that the sauce gets creamier and coats the pasta well.
  6. Then add the balsamic glaze, stir well. Add the grated cheese, dried herbs and stir well.
  7. Serve when hot with some red chillies or paprika.

Pasta in a pot and bowls