Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma is a writer who blogs about family, food, and wellness, all with a multicultural flair. Her blog MapleandMarigold.com is a love letter to India and Canada. Maple represents Canada and her family’s life here, while marigold represents her roots in India. Puneeta grew up in India and moved with her husband to Dubai shortly after they got married. Since then they have moved to Toronto, then Calgary, and finally a few years ago back to Toronto. After a lifetime of moving — Puneeta’s family moved frequently when she was a child in India — she finally feels like Toronto is home and that they are here to stay. Puneeta and her husband have two kids, both of whom had their first plane rides when they were just a few weeks old. Today, 12 and 8, they’ve accumulated more flying miles than many adults. People who knew Puneeta pre-kids were shocked that she traded in her beloved, high-stress marketing career to be a stay-at-home mom. Blogging has allowed Puneeta the flexibility to be around more for her kids while also providing immense creative and entrepreneurial challenges.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
In my twenties, I was focused on carving out a successful career and life that I had envisioned for myself. It was in my thirties that I became a mom, twice over. This was also the decade of change, and of “root shock.” This is a gardener’s term and it describes the stress that a tree goes through when it is transplanted – moved from one environment to the other. Care has to be taken to minimize the shock so that the tree can flourish in the new environment. I didn’t take that care for myself. I was busy looking after a new baby, relocating cities and home, and starting a new job. That’s how I spent my thirties and life, though fun, was a blur. The shift in my thinking took place around the time I turned 40. Predictably, I was on an airplane. Sitting there, thinking about my next steps, I thought, “What if I just trusted my instincts?”. From that moment on, I consciously started following my own path instead of what I thought I should be doing. The result of that shift has been kinder, more honest relationships, more comfort in my decisions, and increased confidence.
When do you feel that you’re most powerful?
When I am outdoors with my family surrounded by nature. I also feel the power when I’m creating content that will help people lead healthy, happy lives.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
Number one is raising happy, healthy kids who have the tools to navigate this constantly changing, ever-bombarding world we live in.
Two, I am re-focusing my efforts on lending my voice to people in need and the community around me.
Third, I am supporting and collaborating with others who share my values and who, much like me, would like to change the world and make it a more peaceful and happier place for our kids.
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I take the time to make sure that my decisions are intentional. I know now that if I over-commit or do things that don’t line up with my values, I end up feeling like a rubber band that has been stretched beyond its limits – at risk of snapping. To keep my elasticity I take a breath and try to enjoy the moment.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I am investing in myself by choosing what’s important to me and fits with my values. Yoga and meditation have also helped me enormously in overcoming the stresses of recent months.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in a midlife redesign?
Open your heart to possibilities. There is a bigger world than we can ever imagine; one filled with new avenues and new choices and even a new career.
How can people connect with you and your work?
I have recently started an initiative to offer people a platform to share their favourite food memories. Food is the most portable form of history that exists. This is even more true for people who have transplanted themselves from one corner of the world to another. What we eat, the ingredients we use, and how we cook them are all influenced by our experiences. My initiative, #MyFoodMemory is to inspire and encourage people to share their own stories.
Visit my website MapleandMarigold.com. Or, come hang out with me on social media at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can also search for the hashtag #MyFoodMemory or #MapleandMarigold to connect with me.