Blogmas 2017 Christmas Tag

Many, many thanks to Lavender and Levity for tagging me on the Christmas tag this year. My apologies for not being able to get to it on time, but hey, better late than never, right?

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

  • There’s too many, but I am particularly fond of the humor in A Christmas Story, and the sentiment behind A Wonderful Life. Charlie Brown Christmas gets a special mention because I often feel like CB on days when you’re expected to be merry.


Do you like to stay in Pajamas or Dress Up for Christmas day?

  • I’m practically always in pajamas unless I have to go out. Then I wear something suitable for wherever I am going. Christmas day is no different.

If you could only buy one person a present this year who would it be and why?

  • I would buy our family the gift of health. The witches better get brewing!

This is perhaps also a good time to explain why my blog has been so neglected past few weeks. My husband ruptured a tendon in his knee a couple of weeks ago, and is now looking forward to at least another month of immobilization in bed. Since he is unable to do anything that requires any mobility (which is just about everything when you come to think of it), I have been taking care of him, our home, as well as the new job. This is quite a role reversal for us – our personal “upside down.” Needless to say, this has not left me feeling the best, but more on this episode later. The point of the story here was to illustrate how we could both use a bit of Link’s magic health potion right about now!


Do you open your present Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

  • Christmas morning.

Have you ever built a ginger bread house?

  • No, but I’ve built a Halloween cookie house! From a kit. Still counts?

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas season?

  • Hmm, I was looking forward to a holiday with friends in New Jersey, but we had to cancel that following my husband’s accident. Now I am most looking forward to him getting better!

Any Christmas wishes?

  • I wish people could take a quiet moment and look inward this Christmas. Self-reflection and finding peace within oneself is so important. I am with the Dalai Lama in that there can be no lasting peace on Earth until people find peace within themselves.

Favorite Christmas smell?

  • Cinnamon and chocolate, or dark chocolate and peppermint. (That they are also popular coffee flavors has never escaped me.)


Favorite Christmas meal or treat?

  • Ferrero Rocher

How do you traditionally spend your Christmas day?

  • Very little is done “traditionally” over Christmas in recent years because I am never in the same place. I often visit my parents in India during the winter. If I’m there, we repeat a childhood tradition of visiting the nuns at my old grade school (it’s a Catholic school attached to a convent), and bring them presents. There’s a Christmas party we attend at a country club, and receive Christian friends who share delicious fruit cakes with us. If I’m with my husband, we are sometimes traveling on Christmas day, or visiting his parents, sharing some food and exchanging presents. Oh, and simply relaxing watching Christmas movies! Rudolph, Frosty, Christmas Story, Scrooge(s), Polar Express…

Do you open stockings first or presents?

  • As a child, I used to open stockings first because they were closest to the bed. Now I don’t put any stockings up so there’s no competition.

When do you put up your tree?

  • As soon after Thanksgiving as possible!
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Festivities (digital)

Least favorite part of Christmas?

  • Probably how much a day like that comes loaded with behavioral expectations. That scares me because I’m not sure if my mask is bleeding and my anxiety is showing through.

Any unusual traditions during your Christmas?

  • My husband and I enjoy driving around some of the neighborhoods that do pretty lights and decorations over Christmas and looking at peoples’ houses and yards. We do this for Halloween too, and most often they are the same neighborhoods.

Favorite childhood Christmas memory?

  • When I was seven or eight, we were traveling one Christmas Eve by bus, and I was understanding of the fact that there was no way I could get presents that night. Nonetheless, my mother made me hang a stocking which I thought would be pointless. I didn’t really ever believe in Santa, and I knew my parents didn’t have time to buy gifts. But lo and behold! On Christmas morning, I found some ornaments in that stocking!! I was flabbergasted!! I couldn’t get it out of mom how she did it! She kept insisting it was Santa! I figured it out eventually, but for a while that day, I remember wondering if perhaps there truly was Santa!

Would you like to participate?

I am afraid it is a little too late to tag anyone, since this is supposed to be something done by Christmas 2017. But if you see this post, and you think it’s fun, please consider yourself tagged! All you have to do is answer the same questions as I did above. Please leave a link back to my post, so I know about it because I would love to read your responses. And tag your post with #ChristmasCheer on Twitter so we can find each other!

From the questions above, nothing seems Christmas-specific. It could be used for any holiday. So if you like, pick your favorite holiday or the one that means the most to you, and answer the same questions about that day!

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Ladies of the Light (digital)

I sincerely wish that the end of the year brings all my friends much happiness and loads of spoons!




Unique Blogger Award

I am so grateful to have been nominated for the Unique Blogger award by Mackenzie over at Life with an Illness. She has an awesome blog where she writes about her experiences with chronic illnesses. Check it out for some positive vibes and helpful tips!

Here are the “rules”:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer their 3 questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate however many people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.


Like I said earlier for the Real Neat Blog award, I love these awards for their ability to connect us bloggers and help us get to know each other better. So here are my responses to Mackenzie’s questions!

  1. What makes you happy? (Is it a person, a hobby, or food?)

It would definitely have to be a person that truly makes me happy. At the risk of sounding super cheesy and a hopeless romantic, that person is my husband. However, my hobbies (reading, writing, painting) come in a close second.

  1. What is one goal you want to accomplish?

I have actually been giving this topic a lot of thought lately. It seems too simple to say that I am looking for a fulfilling career for myself in the long run (though I am). But the truth, as usual, is a little more complicated. I’d say the one goal I’d like to accomplish would be to find my authentic self and live an authentic life. I don’t know if a goal like that can ever be truly accomplished though. Perhaps “accomplishment” in such matters is just keeping up the continuous pursuit of the goal. If so, I’d like continue the search all the life.

  1. If you could talk to your teenage self what kind of advice would you give yourself?

I lived kind of a double life as a teenager. My inner world was quiet, that of a poet; it could be interesting and colorful but oftentimes it was dark and hopeless. I struggled with clinical depression and anxiety disorder as a teenager, suicidal at certain points. To that person, I would like to say. “This too shall pass. Just stay alive; it will be worth it.”

The way I hid my dark inner world was by being angry and rebellious on the outside. I never fit any societal mold, and I was (and still am) proud of that. To that person, I say: “Be bold, live wild! Have faith that your crazy maverick attitude behind the quiet, mature mind will treat you well in the future.” Too often as elders, we try to quench the sizzling fires of the young because it seems too much for us to deal with at the time. But those fires slowly wind down with age (or in my case, illness) anyway. I would like my teenage self to know that everything she did (good and bad) got me to where I am today, so keep that fire burning!

My nominees (blogs I would love for you to check out!):

  1. Chronicles of Being Ill
  2. Sickly Stardust
  3. Shot Down in Flames
  4. The Spoonie Nurse
  5. Dunelight
  6. Bella El Hasan Art & Illustration
  7. Lavender and Levity
  8. Hypermobility Syndrome India

For my nominees who choose to participate, my 3 questions are:

  • What makes you tick?
  • If a genie could fulfill only one wish for you, what would you wish for? (Fine print: No wishing for more wishes!)
  • What’s the first thing that popped up in your head when you awoke this morning?


thats all folks_1



Real Neat Blog Award

Some time ago now Lavender and Levity nominated me for the Real Neat Blog award, and I am just getting around to it. (And of course, since Halloween was yesterday and it’s such a fun holiday, I had to do something with that, hence the creepy logos!)

Let me just start by saying thanks; I am so grateful to have been nominated for this blogging award! It’s always gratifying to know your blog is being read and that somebody enjoys it enough to nominate it for an award, thus encouraging others to check it out as well. I also enjoy how these awards make for a great way for us to get to know each other more informally. So here goes!

Real Neat Blog Award_2

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; don’t accept awards; etc.)

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know you nominated them (e.g.: comment on their blog; linking their blog notifies them too I believe)

Real Neat Blog Award_3

Here are the answers to my 7 questions:

  1. What natural disaster best represents you?

In public: Snowstorm. I can be very cold and freeze people out if they aggravate me, or if I feel they are a negative impact on me.

In private: Volcano. I can sometimes erupt and spew lava with some ferocity, typically after small aggravations have been brewing underneath and building for a long time.

  1.  If you had to pick one of the two, would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Too cold. (I am not fond of the heat at all!)

  1.  If you won a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Hmm, maybe to some of the Caribbean islands! I visited the Virgin Islands a few months ago and fell in love with the ocean in that part of the world.

  1.  If you could only have one of the following in your dream home, which would you choose: a housekeeper, a personal chef, a personal assistant or a landscaper/gardener?

Housekeeper. No contest there! My husband is a great cook, and I can be my own PA. I can even do some gardening if needed. But cleaning? Ugh! That’s anathema to me!

  1.  What’s your favorite drink?

There’s too many and they are too varied to list just one.

Non-alcoholic: Other than tea (including herbal) and coffee, I am currently loving coconut water, kombucha (cultured tea with probiotics), and tamarind soda.

Alcoholic: I love most cocktails (White Russian & Sangria are definite faves); Hoegaarden is a particular favorite in beer; as for wine, I am reasonably fond of slightly dry, not too heavy-bodied red wines, but Auslese Rieslings are probably my favorite (somewhat sweet, fruity, white wines that are a delight just by themselves or with fruits).

  1.  You should have been in bed an hour ago, but you are still on the Internet. What non-blog webpage is open on your browser?

Netflix; though technically, it’s open on my TV through our Nintendo Wii. If I’m on the computer, probably YouTube.

  1.  Why do you think you were nominated? (Hint: it was because I felt there were good things about your blog, so positive answers only! I want you to humble brag!)

I had to ask my husband to help me with this one, and he said I have a way of digging deep and sayings things which are difficult to put in words; that my posts are very honest, well-thought-out pieces about living (not just surviving) with a chronic illness. Ideally, I would also hope to fill a niche with my blog about scientists with fibromyalgia/CFS/similar invisible illnesses. There’s not very many of us, that I know about, who openly talk or write about going through graduate school in the biomedical research field (which is very competitive and infamous for long work hours, and hence not friendly at all to tired old slow-pokes like us). It is my hope that my blog is a window where people can read about the experiences of one scientist with fibromyalgia, and hopefully help others in similar situations as myself.

Real Neat Blog Award_0

My nominees/Blogs I’d love for you to check out:

I know a lot of people don’t participate in these awards, so don’t worry about it if that’s the case. If you do, I would love to see your responses to the questions below and get to know you more in a fun way!

  1. Crafts, Chronic Illness and Adulting
  2. Fibroloveaffair
  3. Invisibly Me
  4. Ginger Fancy Photography & Reflections
  5. Mabel Kwong

My questions:

Lavender & Levity did a great job of coming up with awesome questions, so I’ll reuse most of them and add a couple of my own!

1. What natural disaster best represents you?

2.  If you could swap lives with someone for a day (living or deceased), who would you swap with and why?

3.  If you won a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

4.  If you could only have one of the following in your dream home, which would you choose: a housekeeper, a personal chef, a personal assistant or a landscaper/gardener?

5.  What’s the one thing that annoys the crap out of you?

6.  You should have been in bed an hour ago, but you are still on the Internet. What non-blog webpage is open on your browser?

7.  Why do you think you were nominated? (Hint: it was because I felt there were good things about your blog, so positive answers only! I want you to humble brag!)

thats all folks_1

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a bit more through these answers! And I look forward to the responses of my nominees, if they choose to participate. Thanks again to Lavender and Levity for her nomination.



Creative Blogger Award

A huge thank-you to Rene (the blogger behind Periwinkle Pursuits) for nominating me for the Creative Blogger Award! I am very new here so I feel honored that my blog was acknowledged with the nomination! Rene has a wonderful blog herself, where she shares her creative pursuits as she makes her way through a life with fibromyalgia and raises awareness for the same.


Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Share five facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate at least 5 other bloggers and add their links.
  4. Notify the bloggers you included.
  5. Keep the rules in your post.


Five facts about me (that you probably didn’t know):

  • A long time ago, when I was in middle/high school, my mom wanted me to take self-defense lessons. So I trained in Shorin-Ryu karate. I am a black belt (1st dan).
  • Sometimes I have trouble making my left and right brain hemispheres talk to each other, even though they both work perfectly fine by themselves. As such, I don’t always understand the musical difference between punk rock and heavy metal, but I like one and not the other. I will also be able to hum a classical piece (so I obviously know it) but will not be able to remember the name of it.
  • I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. It is long and thick, and I love the way it looks when it behaves. Trouble is, it’s a problem child and doesn’t always behave. Then I just look like Joey Ramone (which I don’t mind either).
  • I may have had a past life as a fish. I absolutely love being in the water, and would like to train as a scuba diver one day. Between asthma and fibromyalgia, I am not sure if that will ever come true, but a girl can dream!
  • When I am stressed out, the mess that I live in suddenly becomes very apparent, and I go on a cleaning spree. This is about the only way the apartment ever really gets cleaned.


My nominations/blogs I would love for others to check out:

  1. Fruitful Dark
  2. Isabella El-Hasan
  3. All Things Chronic
  4. VisualAtelier
  5. Jill Millward Artwork
  6. The Doodle Chronicles Blog
  7. The Invisible F

Thanks once again to Rene for the kind nomination!!



The Spring of Joy

A few months ago, I took an online course called A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment, which (perhaps ironically) was taught by a business school professor. As a person who thrives on cognitive therapy, I thought this was one of the best decisions of my life.

One of the “habits of the highly happy” (as Dr. Raj puts it), is simply making the choice to be happy. Somehow that made an odd kind of sense to me. Happiness is, after all, a state of mind. You cannot be smiley-happy or excited-happy all the time, but unless you are in the absolute deep dark pit of depression (and I have been there before), there is probably a little spring of joy lurking somewhere just underneath your conscious judgement. All you have to do is choose to find it and then drink from it!

Today is one of those days when I need to consciously remind myself to look for that hidden spring. On days when it seems the farthest, it may be closer than you think. For instance, with Spring in full bloom, there is so much beauty just outside the building I work in! All I have to do is choose to really see it instead of just walk by it everyday and never quite notice my surroundings. The simple act of living in the moment can bring much joy with it just by itself. When I start to wonder what the point of it all is, the grand oaks remind me that perhaps there doesn’t need to be a point. They have simply existed through droughts and hurricanes for a century and a half or more! Beauty exists in its own right and for its own purpose, as does perhaps life itself. There need not be a rhyme or reason to find joy in the moment. The moment itself might be your spring of joy!



The Liebster Award


Can you imagine my surprise to have been nominated for the Liebster Award barely a couple of weeks into starting my blog?? Many many thanks to Life as a Spoonie for the kind nomination, and also for the wonderful blog! It is a refreshingly honest, unadulterated view into the true feelings of a chronically ill person.

This award has some “chain mail” set of rules:

  • The award goes to new bloggers (blogging for less than 2 years and have less than 1000 followers)
  • When you are nominated, display the badge, thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog from your page
  • Answer 11 questions about yourself
  • Nominate up to 11 other bloggers for the award
  • Ask your own set of 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate
  • List the rules in your blog, and provide the nominees with a link to it so they can learn more about it

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

Tell us 1 piece of odd info about you.

Although I am a logical adult with black belt in karate and generally not afraid of much, the bathroom and closet doors (overlooking the bed) MUST be closed at night. Also, the lights in there MUST be off. The little gleam of light at the slit at the bottom of the doors somehow reminds of the gleam of an alien ship. All I can figure is I must have repressed (wiped out??) memories of alien abduction. Yes, I know it’s a logical improbability – that’s why it’s “odd”!

If you could live anywhere, where would that be?

A tropical island would be amazing… like Nevis or the Bahamas. Wouldn’t hurt to have a mountain on it either.

What is your favorite animal?

Fish. Does that count? Dogs come in a close second.

What type of film/tv do you like?

Mystery shows, mostly British

If you could have a superpower for a day, what would it be?

Invisibility. The power of flight would be cool too. A nice combo might be if I were to become a ghost. Then I could float around without being seen.

If you could have a conversation with ANYONE living or dead, who would it be?

I can think of three: (1) The Dalai Lama, (2) Rosalind Franklin, (3) Rita Levi-Montalcini. They all achieved greatness against the face of all odds; the first as a spiritual leader, and the other two as scientists (though Franklin couldn’t get the Nobel Prize posthumously for helping to work out the structure of DNA). Their resilience and love for what they do inspire me.

Chocolate or Lemon?

Chocolate. All the way. Though lemon is nice in some things, like lemonade and chick pea curry.

If you could have any job, what would it be?

I would be love to be a professor with a genetic counseling practice on the side. I enjoy doing science and mentoring students/teaching. I think I would also like to do some outreach work as a professor. But a life in the ivory tower is not quite for me. While the job security is nice, I would like more human interaction and meaning in my work, and generally be able to feel like I can help people with my knowledge. With a Ph.D. in progress in molecular genetics and epigenetics, the genetic counseling would be an obvious choice.

If you could have a special skill, what would it be?

I would love to be able to foretell the future (if that counts as a skill). I could see that coming in pretty handy.

That, or be able to cook. I managed to go through over a quarter of my life without being able to cook anything past instant noodles and eggs. (Perks of being married to a man who loves to cook I guess!!!)

Where were you born / raised?

A small industrial town called Jamshedpur in eastern India, which has some sprawling greens and hills nearby.

If you could change 1 thing in the world (don’t overthink it, make it fun) what would it be?

(1) Make the world a less judgmental place. But that’s not very fun, so (2) Have more hotels on the sea floor with views of lovely fish and corals!

And I answered a “free” 12th question, just because I am sure almost everybody wonders about this:

Why did you start this blog?

Fibromyalgia can be a very frustrating condition in more ways than one. And developing it while in graduate school does not make it any easier. This blog is my way of taking back some control over something that can make me feel very powerless. It is also one more window into the outwardly invisible world of graduate students/scientists with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

My nominations to pass on the Liebster Award:

  1. Beyond the Masquerade
  2. Frankie Plus Me
  3. One Mountain at a Time
  4. Eccedentesiast
  5. Talking Through Life
  6. Nikki’s Confetti Life
  7. Light Everyday
  8. Loving Leisure Time
  9. Expressing the Silence of Pain
  10. jenn2dabennphotos
  11. Think Farris
  12. And a bonus 12th: Sunlight in Winter (yes, bonuses are theme for this post… somehow after teaching undergraduate freshmen for a while, you simply cannot escape the bonus bug)

And below are my 11 questions:

  • What made you start your blog?
  • Tell us a secret about yourself.
  • If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
  • What/who is your most favorite book/author of all times?
  • Think of (at least) one thing that you could be grateful for even on your worst day.
  • If you could have a superpower for a day, what would it be?
  • If you could go on a date with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
  • Painting or Photography?
  • Name one thing that made you happy today.
  • If you could have a special skill, what would it be?
  • If you could change one thing in the world (don’t overthink it, make it fun) what would it be?

That’s it! Thanks again to Life as a Spoonie for nominating me. And I hope to learn more about my fellow bloggers.