Reflections & Resolutions

years end is neither an end nor a beginning

Before the year comes to a close, its time to recount the happenings of the last year. The things to be grateful for and the experiences to learn from. What went well and what could be worked upon. All this is an effort to honor my year and to have clarity and zeal to grow more.

stay hungry stay foolish

I believe that its important to not be too content in our life journey. We must keep trying to improve ourselves, but without stressing ourselves. This journey of self improvement must be taken with a lot of lightheartedness, ease and joy. So in this spirit, it is time to evaluate my journey so far.

Many choose to recount their lives journey as a graph, with the ups and downs. I choose to compartmentalize, the things that are important to me. This allows for clarity and helps me to not get foggy about my future goals and plans.

Wellness

Touched upon an extremely significant milestone – 5 Years Cancer Free. I am in gratitude to my team of doctors, nurses, family, friends and everyone who was a part of this journey. Without this network of support it would not have been possible to reach this point.

This 5 year journey has been about giving complete priority to gaining back my health in totality, which included wellness of the physical body, the mind and the spirit. Now its time to take it a step further and focus a little more on body image. Being an artist means gaining a certain level of physical fitness which will allow me to take on more challenging roles and opportunities. This is something which I look forward to working on.

you are more than you realise

Another aspect which I would like to work upon is not being fazed by challenges and obstacles. Although I am extremely driven and motivated, I have observed myself procrastinating and loosing confidence in face of obstacles. Eventually it all works out, but I would like to resolve to be more focused in face of any challenges.

Relationships

Spending the major part of 2017 in Kathmandu gave me ample opportunities to bond with my family here. Travels with mom to Haridwar & local Nepal sights have been wonderful bonding moments. And in the coming year, I resolve to find or make more time for my old friends and bond with also.

treat you family like friends

Relationships need constant work. We must strive to accept ourselves and each other and this means we must avoid judging, complaining and trying to fix each other. Just accept and love each other. An aspect which I will work on is communicating very gently with all. One thing I have realized is that earlier I used to not speak out at all and now I am working on learning to be more mindful of what I say.

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Professional Life

My work is an essential part of my life. As you grow older and as you grow more mature it becomes more important. It can take a different shape and form but it will always be an important aspect of life. This year, I have added to my plate, my vocation as a motivational speaker.

Manisha Koirala TEDx Jaipur

On the cinema front the year has been very eventful. Starting with the release of Dear Maya to working on Dibakar Banerjee’s Bombay Talkies 2. And of course working on AR Rahman’s maiden project 99 Songs and portraying Nargis Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani’s next has been extremely satisfying. I wish to continue this trend by ensuring that I take on work which challenges and forces me to expand my own limits.

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2017 also saw a slew of speaking engagements from prominent corporations such as HCL, Apollo Hospitals, a few government led initiatives like the Women’s Parliament event and many more. However the cherry on cake was definitely coming on a platform like TEDx. This gave me an opportunity to meet and interact with individuals across different industries and it was definitely a brilliant experience.

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Finally getting felicitated at Dadasaheb Phalke Award and by Navbharat times was the highlight of this wonderful year.

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Philanthropy

Every year I have like to evaluate if I have made a difference to wherever I have gone, if I have impacted communities possibilities. Starting at home base in Kathmandu, we took great strides in cleaning Bagmati River. A lot is yet to be done, but on the outset progress has been made. Lot of work was undertaken in tandem with the UNFPA team, we travelled twice to the tarai areas of Nepal, once for flood relief and another for the fistula awareness program. Also steps were taken towards cancer awareness with Cancer Care Nepal, working with young committed oncologists was wonderful, and at Bhaktapur Hospital and of course meeting the lovely girls at St. Mary’s High School in Kathmandu.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender 920414267_1514240848632618_8426459263076805295_oWhatsApp Image 2017-06-24 at 3.43.49 PMManisha Koirala during the Bagmati River Cleaning Campaign

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Similar efforts taken in Delhi by Walk For Life CanSupport and the the My Hair for cancer event undertaken by the Nargis Dutt Foundation in Mumbai. Every time a philanthropic work is undertaken, it appears no matter how much you give, you end up taking more in terms of life experiences and realizations. Hope that 2018 brings more opportunities to reach out and do a lot more.

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Finances

the goal isn't more money

One more chapter I want to discuss is my relationship with money. Its more about a certain amount of energy you create in the world than just maintaining a bank account. Our earnings are also linked with a sense of worth, the thought that we can generate that money if wish too, so it becomes a confidence building process as well. In the coming year, I will value and respect this energy more by taking steps to preserve current funds and be mindful of my expenditures.

Travels

2017 was indeed the year of interesting experiences. Beginning at the Nepal, whilst Kathmandu is not very comfortable due pollution and crowds, just a couple of hours away you have the most beautiful hiking spots. There is the scenic Budhanilkantha – Baghdwar hike and of course another place to visit around Kathmandu is Chitwan National Park comprising of thick lush jungle… jungle safaris, elephant rides, boat rides and beautiful sunsets. Couldn’t be close to Nature.

Next was the Kailash Trip.This was the most finest and exotic trip ever. There is a certain amount of mysticism, certain amount of mystery and attractiveness here. Its something which unspoken, unsaid and unexplainable. Such things can only be experienced.

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We started with camping at Lhasa to acclimatize and then we traveled to Mt. Kailash.For most of the trip, I was on horseback and it was on the last day that I walked a lot. It was extremely calming and soothing experience. While we all were in a group, everyone was also by themselves by silently taking it all in. The whole energy was just fantastic.

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There were a few challenges related to hygiene, washrooms and sleeping in dusty probably used beds, these made me very uncomfortable. But a place like Kailash has a different vibe, and you realize that you can actually tolerate the hardships and go beyond the physical and mental hardships. Once this this obstacle was lifted, I found that I could tolerate this kind of atmosphere and this was very liberating for me. God willing, the next year I would be back for a couple of weeks, do some meditation and try to absorb more of that energy.

A few other noteworthy trips included Haridwar with mom, where we mediated on the river banks, Goa trip with Aysha my friend from Denmark, Poland for the first ever film festival and Cape Town for shooting of the Dutt bio epic with Rajkumar Hirani’s film unit. All wonderful experiences where the beauty of the places and the joy of travel was increased twofold with the right company and travel partners. Travel is something which will definitely continue in the new year, i hope to discover some unknown places and learn more about different cultures, histories and way of life.

Here ends the review of my past year and hope that the next year will be as eventful as the last and brings in ample opportunities to learn, grow and indeed have a content year ahead.

I would like to close by asking you dear reader about your year. What are your reflections of 2017 and resolutions for 2018?

On Women Empowerment

What does women empowerment actually mean? To me it means the ability to control my life; to confidently make a decision for myself, and to have the ability to dream, aspire and achieve goals. To live a full life the way life is meant to be lived, for me that is empowerment.

Swami Vivekanand Ji had once said said, “There is no chance of the welfare of the world unless the condition of the women is improved, for it is not possible for a bird to fly only on one wing.” and it is important to talk about this for in a patriarchal society like ours when a boy is born there is so much of pride and so much of joy, “beta hua hai-beta hua hai.” We hear that with so much of pride and joy, but is it their the same pride and joy when a girl child is born?

Let me share my personal story. When I was born, my Nanaji, my mum’s father, made a disappointed face. My mum was deeply hurt. She didn’t speak to him for weeks, and when I got to know about this years later, I was deeply hurt too. It made me wonder that why my birth did not give joy to my grandfather?

I found a common thinking behind this, which is so common in everybody that beta is a symbol of security and bread winner- “Hamare budhape ka sahara banega, Budhape ka lathi, Hamara vansh chalyega.” Whereas, the moment a girl is born, a sense of responsibility comes. Her safety/security becomes the prime most important thing for a parent, and the best way to ensure that is to get her married. To me it appears as though the responsibility is shunned from one hand to other.

Let us take a journey into a woman’s life from the time she is conceived in a mother’s womb till the time she dies. First issue, female infanticide, almost 50% girls under the age of 18 are married off. India and Nepal both featured lowest in female literacy.

Next, dowry issues, this problem is not only available for the poor and uneducated, but I was appalled to know that this problem exists in the middle class and upper middle class families too.

Domestic violence, crimes like assault, kidnap, rape, and acid attacks. When we hear so many stories on the news, it makes me wonder aren’t there laws? But of course we have laws, but implementing these laws are a problem because of the legal loopholes. There is a need to implement the laws so that there is a fear of the law. We need to hear more stories like if there is crime committed against woman, he is punished by the law. We need to see more examples like this.

Another rampant issue, income inequality. Imagine your equally talented, equally hardworking and equally sincere in your job as your male colleague, but just because your colleague is a male, he would get 25% more income. Is this fair?

As a Bollywood actress, I my story to share. There was a time when I was doing a lot of movies, and I was at the top of my game. I was shocked to know that the difference between my salary and the hero’s salary was huge. I thought I was important for the film, but when I saw this, I was hurt and disappointed. I asked the producer of this, told him that this makes me feel unwanted and small. Think about it, why don’t they make movies with only men, if female actors are not valued enough?

Finally, and the most important point is political participation. We have almost 50% of the \ voters as women, yet only 11% member of parliament are women. Imagine, if we have more women on decision-making chairs, on policy making and changing chairs; the kind of parliament we would have, and the kind of government we would have. We need more women in our boardrooms, in our courtrooms, in our schools and universities. The kind of society we would be making. The kind of nation we would be having.

I asked a question to myself: What can I write that would add value to you dear reader? Not long ago; some years back. When I was young, I saw double standards in our society, and in my work area. It angered me, and then I became a rebel. A rebel without a cause. I am not saying that’s the best way to be or that’s the best way to react. Many years later with a couple of wrong decisions, I now know better.

I am a little wise now, and in times of confusion, and in times of disappointment there is a better way to deal with, which is to stay inspired with the great ladies that this country had already produced. We had Rani Lakshmi Bai known as Jhansi ki rani. We had Ahilya Bai, and we had a Kalpana Chawla, we had a Mother Teresa. There are so many women, we need can be inspired by them. When it is in our culture, and in our history, for in our genes then why not take benefit from that. Let us remember them, and in times of confusion never forget who we are, we are Shakti, the wisdom to deal with life’s problems is all within us.

To Redefine Life, Simply Change Your Values

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I simply love Cynthia Occelli’s words: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

Inside that tiny seed lies the potential of  becoming a huge, sturdy, fruit –filled , flower laden, leaf-canopied  tree, which can provide a home to numerous birds and give shade to many travelers. But can the uninitiated see that?

Life is all about re-invention, re-alignment, re-defining oneself. It is in this challenge that growth lies. Those who miss this point, misunderstand the purpose of this beautiful journey called life.

Each decade of our lives gives us a chance to pause, reflect, refill our souls, drop dead chains that bind us and to joyously soar into the skies towards our ecstasy.

Having travelled through the hurly burly of my life, with all its myriad experiences: the good, the sad and the unforgettable, I feel as if I am now able to view everything in a sharper focus. All seems rain-drop washed, lime-fresh, wind-cleaned and crystal-clear. With this new-found maturity everything non-essential, non-interesting, non-valuable seems to be whittling away from my being, leaving me to focus on that shining Core inside that defines my essence and IS me!

At this beautiful juncture of my life in my fourth decade, I have hit upon my personal formula  for growth and happiness: To redefine life, simply change your values.

How have I done that?

I have consciously evolved from being shallow to deep, from being outward-looking to being inward-seeking and from being a limited human to becoming an unlimited, spiritual being. No longer for me the dead chains of my past’s value system. Today, I rejoice in the simple, the mundane, the ordinary…

Earlier, my life was all about “working hard and partying hard.” I loved rebelling against established norms, simply because I loved rebelling. Perhaps  the title of “rebel without a cause” suited me perfectly back then.

I was brash and outspoken and said whatever came to my mind, without thinking of any consequences. Today, I cringe when I re-read some of my earlier interviews. I wonder, ‘Who was I, back then?’

I used to spend a lot of time and money on shopping. The clothes had to be up-to-the-minute and the bags had to be  designer. Labels mattered.  In fact, in my girlie group, we all bought, displayed and bought some more, just for kicks. Shopping was mindless fun.

Then— Life happened….

With that, came a sharp change in perspective. I suddenly began looking at life from the other end of the telescope and was struck by its vastness and magnificence. Suddenly, all material things seemed to shrink before the majesty of Life itself. I was in awe.  At first, the shift happened in my heart…then in my mind and finally… in my entire being. I felt reborn, revamped and renewed. So how could such a new person carry old values?

Don’t get me wrong. I still love pretty clothes, bags and material comforts. The difference is I am not consumed by them.

I have hit upon the truth that life is Simple. It is we who make it Complex. Therefore, true joy lies in simplifying one’s value system. The new me is a Holistic person and am I enjoying it? You bet!

I now give value to things that make my everyday life better, healthier and  therefore, more fulfilled.

Here is a list of things that interest me now:-
1) The exciting decision to choose between a blender and a juicer. What is the value a good choice will give me? It will give me good quality green juices. And that will boost my health by keeping my body alkaline . i came across vitamix through my sister in law as she has always been a health freak .  vitamix

2) Choosing the right coordinated and comfortable gym clothes.

3) Membership in a good Health Club. I feel blessed that a good Health Club and a Spa has sprung up near my home. Members get private trainers and clean equipment. Besides, I love going to “The Club” for an occasional swim and my morning-evening strolls.  inch by inch

4) I have been super excited about my new bike. I have to thank my neighbor and old pal Shahid for initiating this! But I must admit that I am still a little wary about the traffic in my city. Yet, every time I whizz away, I think about what a great investment it has been!
5) My Yoga/ Pranayam classes with my brilliant teachers Shambhu ji and Abhay ji I love Pranayam and while breathing, never forget to send gratitude to the heavens for the magic of the breath. read more on..

6) Organic foods—I simply love them. I am a huge fan of Whole Foods. I also feel that if organic vegetables are expensive, they are certainly worth it! Farmers market Bandra

(Ah, how I ❤ my organic Farmers’ Market visits on Sundays, as also shopping at other stores like Nature’s Basket in Mumbai and Whole Food store in NYC.

7)A good Nutritionist– I accidentally found out that my ESR level was high, instead of my IGF-1 level. ..meaning I had high inflammation. I began looking desperately for a good Nutritionist and thankfully stumbled upon my very reliable Rachna Chachi.read more..

8) A good doctor/hospital I can rely on. After 30, I strongly recommend periodic check-ups.I love seven hills as its very clean and doesn’t  have the smell of a hospital 😉 seven hills Mumbai

9) Newer researches on Wellness. It’s s whole new world out there. Why not discover it  by being fit and healthy?

10) Good skin/face products. Especially after 40, one must make very informed choices. Nothing should harm  our precious bodies.

And has this switch to a healthier lifestyle made me a complacent, contented being who has finally found what she was looking for? No way! It has only spurred me on towards newer frontiers. It has turned me into an energy –filled, luminous being who is hungry for the latest research, breakthroughs and offers on health and wellness. I want to Be more… to Do more…

Here’s My Wish List:-
1. Attending and organizing Cooking classes on healthier options.

2.Going for Ayurvedic /Health Retreats in order to understand my body… to discover and customize what exactly works for me.

3.Increasing  my circle of friends who are into Wellness.

4.Reading and writing more on Wellness- on the blessings of life and living.

5. Contributing more.

6. Spending more time  with Nature.

7. Focusing on buying skin products that will make me look the best at my age rather than make me look younger than my age. I do want to look the best at my age without cosmetic surgery. I would rather be dignified, slim, fit and healthy than an artificially beautified clone.

8 .Becoming  more organised.

9. Doing only those films that give me joy while I am on the sets.

10. Being more positive, more happy and certainly laughing more!

11. Spend more time in self growth, I can’t stress more on how important Oneness University has been for me since its a topic which needs a lot of space to do justice,I would write more on this soon but for time being read on..Oneness University

Today, I no longer care about carrying the latest designer bag as my arm candy. I even don’t care about travelling in Economy Class. Life is all about finding the joy inside yourself, rather than seeking it outside–in things.

It is funny how a little shift in perspective can bring such a huge shift in values, is it not?

I am finally brimming with Life….

Joy Unlimited,

Manisha Koirala.