Welcome to the eleventh interview of the Let’s Get Inspired Series. A series where I interview our fellow WordPress.com bloggers on their blogging process, what they write about, their passions, their blogging dreams and their blogging tips. Each blogger has a speciality, well, more than one. Which I attempt to bring out in the interview.
Today we are going to speak to Pragalbha Doshi of the Infinite Living blog.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Pragalbha; it is a page-turner. I had no idea of Pragalbha’s story, how she blogs and her accolades as a writer. Do enjoy.
Pragalbha and I have known each other for a long time, maybe since 2016, when I started blogging. I think she found my blog, and that lead me to see her blog. Her writing is from the heart and always, always leaves me in deep contemplation or an awakening of sorts. She writes on topics that always gel with me and bring out more reflection within myself. She gives me another perspective in which to look at life. She has become a wonderful blogging friend, and her posts are just what the heart needs.
When and why did you start blogging?
I started my blog in October 2015. For a length of time, I treated myself on WP and my writings as happy surprises, and all appreciation on my work as happier surprises. I mostly felt only gratitude and sometimes overwhelmingly so.
By 2015 I was on the recovering end of a debilitating auto-immune disease. The painful journey coincided with a kind of a spiritual awakening that I was unaware of. I felt very different and the world felt very different to me. The clarity of my perceptions left me in a very confused state, feeling very incongruent with the world around me. Every encounter with anyone had an overwhelming impact on me. I was operating on pure instinct, as if devoid of any prior conditioning. I perceived the suffering of all others around me. I simply wanted everyone to be ok. And yet I was trying to go back to the old ‘normal’, regain my ability to function from day to day with my husband & sons who were 10 and 13 then. I did not have appropriate guidance or understanding of the shifts that had happened for me. All my experiences were very intense in emotion, be it love, joy, grief, guilt, the entire range.
Suddenly poetry became my sanctuary and a way of expressing my intensity. It became the medium of processing my emotions that came through experiences with nature and people around. I was so accustomed to living the surface level life (read turmoil) that this expression from the depth of my being felt alien to me. I remember the moment when I felt ‘forced’ to type some words. What came out completed looked like a poem to me. And more came, one after the other. I sent them one by one to trusted friends, asked them if the words meant anything to them. They were stunned, they said.
I then began to share them on FB. Some friends would respond on those poems whole heartedly, some even said they were finding guidance for themselves through these poems. When the frequency of my poems increased, a good friend suggested that I need to shift to a blog to have a permanent safe place for my poems. I did not know what a blog meant nor did I know the different purposes for a blog. I said yes innocently and asked my husband if he would help me set up a site to store my poems.
I remember how it took only few minutes to come up with the title Infinite Living, the tag line – Where the essence of life experiences rhymes into poems, or flows in prose! I just put my fingers to type text for my About page and it got revealed to me that I have discovered a way of being that is beyond my defined roles of being a mom, a sister, a wife, a daughter, etc. Everything got purely channeled, as if being introduced to myself anew. I had only known myself through the relations that I am in, in this lifetime and something greater had awakened showing me my spirit existence, my essence.
It took me tremendous courage to begin sharing publicly, as if baring my soul naked to be judged or accepted. I needed the kind approval from a trusted friend before I published, and sometimes my husband to hold my hand while I hit publish with the other. My heart raced a thousand miles an hour before the first like, the first kind comment came in, as a seal of approval for my eligibility to continue being whatever I was in this world of existence. After each poem I often thought, surely it was the last one? I always wondered, where is this coming from?
Often, I typed words I did not know, looked it up to find out what it meant and it was exactly what I needed it to mean and rhyme in the poem. Sometimes I made up words not in the dictionary, and they conveyed the right meaning. As some generous reflections and appreciation came as responses, I was utterly grateful as I was sure every time it was my last poem. The authentic exchange of perspectives and heartfelt interactions on WordPress helped me thrive, grow, flourish and nourish my being. I was amazed beyond measure at how a genuine word, true expression and pure intent becomes evident through words alone.
It got unstoppable. The poems, the prose, all came as these intense surges just wanting a place to land. Initially I posted without adding any pictures to my posts. When friendly advice came in about how a successful blog needs pictures, I was unable to choose any from stock photography websites, as I didn’t feel a sense of connection to any. Slowly it started dawning on me that there were pictures taken by my photographer friends, my husband, and later also myself that spoke the words I wrote. None are ever clicked with a plan to go with my post. It is meditative and miraculous to me in how perfectly they choose to come together for a post or a word image.
My vision is to have a more integrated website that brings my personal life expressions from this blog and my experience of working through yoga therapy together. Currently I have a separate humble website (www.yogasaar.com) for all my background and information on my education and offerings through yoga. Eventually I wish to serve a wider audience. I believe that will happen as a result and reflection of my inner work that might bring me the capacity to reach multitudes. I am not in a hurry, as I am content and thrilled with the miraculous journey afforded to me until now. I am enjoying working with the perfect students and engaging with generous reader friends I am blessed with.
How has your blogging Journey evolved since you started blogging?
The emotional intensity from which my poems came has found a balance, my personality has changed quite a lot. I have owned myself as a writer by now. I have become more comfortable in my own skin.
I went through more healing phases, embracing this renewed gift of life and the joys of it. Major shifts happened for me as I took on more responsibility at home. As a result, my urge to blog seemed to wane around 2019 and my breaks became longer into several months at a time. I felt the call to return more regularly since end of 2020. I feel more integrated in how I express on the blog, with more assurance and confidence in myself. I think the process is in continuation with everything becoming one flow of life.
How often do you blog or carry out blogging related actives?
For almost 4 years at the beginning, I published 2 or 3 times a week, except a few short breaks. Every single day I read from other writers. Since returning from my longest break of 6 months, I now post once a week, every Monday. That gives me a peaceful pace to remain open to inspiration for posts, read my blog friends’ work regularly, stay responsive to comments, and also remain present to family life while pursuing my lifelong studies in yoga philosophy, my work to facilitate others through therapeutic applications of yoga.
How long does it take to write a blog post?
Writing a blog post is a leisurely activity for me that can take anywhere from 30mins to even a few hours. I truly indulge in it, as if a gift. Posting poetry is the quickest as usually it has already come in whatever form it wants to take. A picture to go with the poetry usually becomes evident to me immediately. Rest of the time is for proof reading, tags, and checking in if there are any lingering thoughts that need to be expressed with the poetry. With articles, it takes longer as the first draft comes and then it might need some cleaning up, changing formats. Creating a word image, if that is what I am inspired to do for a post, currently takes me anything from 15minutes to an hour, until it feels just right. It used to be a lot longer when I was still learning the tools and understanding the aesthetics of it.
How many times do you proofread, edit etc.?
I proof read my work perhaps 3 times or so, including reading in preview version. I often find minor edits in the preview mode, that I tend to overlook in the Edit mode. After I feel done, I simply sit with the post before hitting Publish. It has been my experience sometimes that the post just isn’t ready to go out. That’s when I go back and read yet again, to find that some words need to be changed or removed. Once I make those changes, the post feels bright and ready to go. That’s when I readily hit publish! This can happen immediately or take a while; I have learned to trust and not hurry.
Full Disclosure: If I am feeling particularly vulnerable with some post, I find myself rereading it obsessively countless times. When I catch myself doing that, I simply close my eyes and sit longer, asking when it is ready to go i.e., perhaps when I am ready to let go 😊
Do you have a favorite place to write?
In the initial years I actually wrote endlessly while resting in a blanket on my cozy sofa. I also wrote in the backyard, listening to the trees and the birds. Sometimes while on long drives, or the kitchen table, the stairway, or typed on my phone sitting up in the middle of the night. Basically, I simply had to stay wherever I am and write what needed to be written. More recently I sit regularly at my desk overlooking a window. I have also created a small outdoor courtyard space with some of my favorite little things where I write when the weather is warm.
How do you generate ideas for your blog topics?
I have always been writing more personally than I have been posting. Drafts of different inspirations and topics that beg to be expressed get collected. I simply get quiet and ask what wants to be posted today? It is either for my own sake or for someone who might need to read exactly what I am writing. It belongs there for them. Sometimes something brand new emerges, sometimes I am very sure about a topic that has developed for me in the previous week, or from few months ago. To this day, there are some poems just sitting in draft and they just don’t want to be out there LOL.
What software do you use to write your poetry and thoughts on your photos?
I use simple tools from PowerPoint to create my word images.
Your blog posts are always so deep and profound and from the heart. When you write such deep thoughts, do they leave you healed, deeper in thought, or even tears?
Writing is a natural & profound healing journey for me. How I process life events, relationships and experiences trigger my blog posts. Some of it come from what I perceive in our collective humanness, some from personal experiences or those that others share with me. Relentless seeking for authenticity and alignment creates peace or turmoil within me. In either case, there is a truth waiting to become evident. It is expressed in how we feel, our emotions. I write from that place. That inner world where we process our experiences is more real to me than what is playing outside of us. I find genuine tears as precious as a genuine smile – they are an inescapable way of us being human. Sometimes tears/joy creates the writing and sometimes vice versa. I do feel happy and healed at times after writing a post, and that is transient too. Sometimes I learn from my own poems in the past, as if they got written to guide my future (now current) self. There is always stuff to be worked on. So, there is always something to write about.
How often do you publish a blog post?
Once a week as of now.
Out of all your blog posts that you published to date – which 3 are your favourite? Please list and provide links and explain why.
Ah that’s tough – is my first thought about having to choose 3 favorites of my own 😊 A few do come to my mind, when I decide to choose only from my prose, as all poems feel special to me for how they come on their own.
- Inspiration Gallery – This regularly updated page is a collection of all quote/word images that I create on personal photographs by my family and few close friends. Creating these has been a very fulfilling activity for me. The skills for editing the photos and learning the tools didn’t come easily for me and I enjoyed the process thoroughly.
- Finding My Balance – This piece of prose is full of metaphors for our relentless pursuit of peace and stability, and how we falter.
- Be-Come – It is not about what I want. It is about what wants to Be and Come through me. I personally need this reminder to practice in accordance consistently.
Your blog posts generate a lot of comments and you have a real strong tribe. Well done. What do you believe is your secret – please share so we can all learn how to improve?
I am humbled that you ask this. I don’t know if there is a secret. My priority and desire have been genuine connection. The incongruency in the written or verbal word, and the intention has always bothered me. So, I strive to offer that genuineness in my way of being. I sincerely have come to look at us as a Universal Family having this wonderful vacation time on this planet, with a precious opportunity to share time and space. I am quite unskilled in how I live this belief in the everyday world, I deal with a lot of conditioning myself. WP is my sacred ground where I cultivate and practice authenticity and gratitude. I made a commitment to keep reading other writers in the community as they unfailingly offer enriching, inspiring pieces of the life puzzle that I often go missing from day to day. I simply follow the trail of goodness felt through the energy and intention of a blog and remain loyal to their work as much possible, truly immersing and engaging with their words.
What do you love about blogging? And Why?
I continued to write poetry and articles that got labelled as inspiration by readers, and I fell in love with conversations and connections at a deep authentic level in the WP community. I am humbled by how much more I receive than what I attempt to give through my writings. Blogging is perhaps my favorite way of socializing, nourishing for the heart, mind and soul. I found support, encouragement, motivation and inspiration in this space, sometimes to the point of cracking myself open through my own resistance. The numeric growth of my blog followers and readers has been very slow, if I really choose to look at it, yet my personal growth has been enormous and fulfilling.
What don’t you like about blogging?
I genuinely don’t know 😊 It has been a perfect experience for me, and I am curious where it would lead to.
What is your biggest blogging lesson?
Until a couple of years ago, it would happen often that I wasn’t able to keep up with the train of ideas coming to me and I couldn’t find the time to write them all down. I used to struggle with that a lot. For a while I felt the pressure of having to create something bigger with my writings, I didn’t have the How or What and there wasn’t enough time ever. Gradually I learned to understand that all experiences need not be written about, and all writings need not be shared immediately. Some life experiences are deep learning for me, I am meant to steep in them myself, allow them to become a part of me.
I felt quite a bit of grief and guilt with realizing that I might not want to write or post again. This is around when my 6-month long break began, not knowing how long it would be. A couple of blogger friends inspired and encouraged me to take the break, even disappear if that’s the possibility. To not continue on the blog felt as courageous as when I began. Yet it felt so peaceful to admit to myself that I do not want to post any more.
So that would be my biggest blogging lesson until now, give yourself permission to do exactly what you want to do. Nothing that is truly meant for you goes away. I came back as easily to find so many of my old blog friends welcoming me back. Some had also checked on me during my break.
What keeps you blogging? Do you find it hard to juggle life and blogging – please explain? And how do you get yourself out of it? Do blogging breaks help you and how do they impact your blog?
Blogging gives me the opportunity to connect with my Universal Family, inspires me to keep pushing the boundaries of my vulnerability, softens the edge of what would feel like courage, find my true self hidden in all the roles I play in life.
I realized that the longer break that came about was actually an opportunity to rediscover myself in deeper ways, and also understand the nature of my relationships, redefine how I would like them to be. It was an opportunity for me to reconnect with my sons, enjoy some beautiful family times and go through some difficulties together. This break did impact the number of readers and interactions on my blog significantly, but that awareness quickly blurred with the kind interactions that did happen. The numbers are still not back to what they were, yet it doesn’t seem to bother me.
Blogging is a commitment. I do find myself unable to give time to other pursuits that are aligned for me. I have given up juggling and struggling mostly. Currently my day is filled with daily fresh cooking and family chores, few hours of blogging activity, teaching classes in group and private, personal study and practice of yoga. Any more classes added, random situations or any family event/vacation takes away time from blogging. I trust the guidance for where I am meant to be.
Do you have social media accounts?
I do not enjoy having multiple social media accounts, so I have been very slow in building my presence. I posted my blogs simultaneously on Medium for more than a year. I was even awarded the Top Writer of Inspiration on Medium. I stopped posting there as I couldn’t do justice with time for being on both platforms simultaneously. It was a very enriching experience while I was there.
I recently created an account on Instagram and am enjoying it at my own inconsistent pace. I sometimes create content specifically for Instagram, or post different versions of my blog posts. You can connect with me on Instagram with @pragalbhadoshi. All my blog posts immediately get posted on my Facebook public profile along with occasional posts related to Yoga that do not appear on my blog.
Do you have any advice for bloggers starting or struggling with blogging?
I might not be the best person for any advice. Perhaps I will say this, allow it to be a joyful expression and extension of your being, allow your heart to shine through. Learn from the experts yet implement from a place of inspiration. It takes time to find and build your tribe. It is very unique how it works for each one of us. If any of my sharing has helped you in any way it is my privilege to be a channel that serves a purpose, you have my deepest gratitude.
Are you inspired, motivated?
I hope you have enjoyed this interview with Pragalbha . It’s a page turner and very inspiring. Life throws us stones but we can make flowers and change our life.
Do visit again next week when we have another blogger interview. In the meantime, please do take some time to visit Pragalbha at her blog Infinite Living. Pragalbha is the eleventh blogger in this series, below are the other blogger interview; please do take time to read their interviews.
Images: Supplied by Pragalbha therefore are her copyright. Feature image created by myself on http://www.canva.com (canva is very easy to use; I have created a YouTube video and post on it)