Thursday, December 29, 2016

Counting my blessings while reflecting on the highs and lows of 2016

It just feels better when one is able to sort out and clearly express all those jumbled up thoughts occupying much of the mind. And writing is one of the best forms through which I can untangle my knotty thought - threads. Besides, end of the year everyone tends to get reflective. I'm no different and so here I am.

There's no denying that 2016 offered me a mixed bag. There were sharp ups and equally acute descents in my life - graph during that period. My greatest happiness and accomplishment was that I completed my eight book (and my fourth novel). As a writer, that was one of the toughest feat to achieve as I was pushing my boundaries and writing in a genre I knew nothing about. The book is now with my literary agent and I'm hopeful that it will find a good publishing house.

The biggest challenge, however, was at a personal level. Coming to terms with the formal end of my marriage (which happened towards the end of last year) and accepting and owning the changed status fully. It was more difficult than I'd initially thought it to be. But thankfully, my supportive family, friends and my own positive and healthy state of mind helped me heal and move on. I have moved on but once in a while one tends to pause and look back. At such times one has to be the strongest and accept things as they stand. I'm glad that I have always found the inner strength to hold up well during such moments of weakness.

Besides, there's so much to be really thankful for. For instance, how my son, Vidu continues to receive utmost love and care from both his parents. Also, how my ex - husband, continues to be a part of the family. And most of all how I've been able to cope and carry on with life despite the lows experienced in my personal sphere.

Moving on to other cheerful highlights -

An absolutely marvelous and unexpected gift of year 2016 has been my receiving the Karmaveer Chakra award(instituted by iCongo in association with UN). It's not so much the award but the idea behind it. It is given to people and organisations who work selflessly for the benefit of people and planet.

 I've been working in the social sector for more than a decade now.Before joining the social sector, I had seen the 'highs' of the corporate world. I've worked for an international airline (SAS) to a Business resort (in Singapore), and had even opened my own Start Up - an event management company, (again) in Singapore. But somehow, that life left me feeling empty.  I felt stalled and unfulfilled in all that I did and that is when (after completing my Masters in Human Rights) I decided to switch to the social development field for good. It was a conscious move. No one in the family was in favour of this switch in my professional career. The (financial) returns were not even half of what I used to earn earlier...thus everyone felt it was a huge mistake, one I would regret later. I seldom regretted it.

At times, I do feel bad about the amount of commitment and hard work, I put into the kind of work I do and how very little it is understood or acknowledged by the world - donors, government and people at large but then I chose this myself and I feel content working in this area. I continue to expand my life - state and working for the cause of Education and Mental Health, two main areas I am involved in at Empowering Minds. In fact 2017 is going to be an exciting year and I'll will be exploring newer horizons.

The Karmaveer Chakra awarded to me along with several other path breakers, activists, social workers is a solid endorsement to the work that I am doing. I'm so proud of it.

The New year 2017 has already thrown some challenges at me and I'm so looking forward to starting on a happy note -

Vidu will join school from next year. (2016 was a gap year for him as he was ahead in his class, age wise, and as parents we felt the pressure would be too much for him and thus he studied at home and did plenty of other wonderful things with his extra time).

I am hoping to start something of my own along with my colleagues at EM. We've been working on it and plan to unveil the project early next year.

There's plenty of travel mostly work - related and then

have to go House hunting...

And I also plan to start writing the fourth book in my 'Pursuit' series in 2017.

It's going to be another interesting year full of challenges, joys and things to look forward to.

Let me end with a stanza from my own poem - That Woman You See, which is also the title of my short story collection that was released in 2015. The full poem appears at the end of the book.

That woman you see

is not the woman you know

For the woman you know

has sides you've yet to see.

Happy New Year 2017!

Keep smiling!