As part of the International Womens Day celebrations in March, 2014, India BWN ran a blog contest to showcase the passion of women colleagues in driving initiatives and interests outside office work, and the response was overwhelming. Here is a compilation of three stories amongst many great ones.
Mark Twain said: The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop. The first time I read this phrase, it only seemed like a humorous quote. Not until a couple of years since I became a mother did I comprehend the meaning behind this statement. Motherhood provided me a sense of responsibility like none of my other roles as a daughter, sister and wife did. It gave me the realization that not only am I raising my child but I am also raising tomorrow’s citizen. This realization, coupled with the objective to instill the values of communal harmony and sense of belonging in the young minds of children, not only mine but also of those in my neighborhood, prompted me to start a children’s club in my residential society. I put forth the idea to a couple of like-minded neighbors and we came together to kick-start the activities of the club with a children’s carnival conducted in our housing complex. The idea was well received by parents and their children alike as was evident from their participation in the carnival in events like children’s parade and games, their excitement in being given a chance at entrepreneurship (we had invited children to put up food and décor stalls and sell their wares). Lessons are learnt better when learning is made captivating. This is the driving force behind the activities of our club. Every activity here is initiated by a group of well-meaning parents who appreciate the worth of the time they spend with their children, engaging them in what they like to do best. Some of these activities include reading, gardening, art and craft sessions, and the likes of it. These activities are envisioned, planned and organized by our residents themselves, the supplies for which also come from our own drawing rooms and tool boxes. What started as a small idea in my head was given wings by a small group of co-operative friends and enthusiastic little participants who helped me contribute my tiny part to build a close-knit community.
On any given day, when I am at work, I strive to live up to the characteristics that best describe a professional; a smart, efficient, competent and ambitious individual. Come weekends, this meticulously built persona metamorphoses into a character closely resembling Santa Claus; for every hour dedicated to the children’s club’s activities exemplifies the importance of imparting virtues to tomorrow’s bright minds.
According to statistics I read two years ago, 1 in 4 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum and in India it is 1 in 7. My son was tested for autism when he was 2 when he had a slight speech delay. Around the same time, I came to know that SAP was sponsoring the setup of an exclusive music therapy center for children with autism. I am an Indian Classical Singer, trained for 15+ years and I had never never sung for anyone outside my family and friends circle. I met Mr. Ganesh Anantharaman, founder and former Director of Samporna and I promised to volunteer as a Music Therapist. So from then on, I became his first music therapist, took a Diploma in Music Therapy ( a one year course from Nada Music Therapy, New Delhi) and managed somehow to do therapy every week for children in the autism spectrum. This began as an experiment with no center offering music therapy for autism anywhere in India and I enjoyed every bit of the journey along with the core management group and other therapists. We as a team have written papers, established our reputation and have created our own approach to music therapy using indian classical music and are really driving Music Therapy as an established profession in Bangalore.
To give some credit to our work, I often hear comments from parents when I visit the center:
“my son looks forward only to his music therapy session, nothing else outside”.
“my son is really verbal and talkative after your vocal session”.
In our annual day celebration in January this year, one parent commented:
“I and my husband believe only music therapy can help our child, and we trust no other therapy we have tried so far”.
We know we are doing something right here.
I learnt several lessons during this course of volunteering, about work-life-balance, and the strengths of a woman in providing and nurturing life skills and values. Here I pen down a few of those thoughts:
- 1. Myth:”I don’t have time”. Reality: “Time is stretchable”.
- 2. Doing something outside work, something I am passionate about and good at, actually fuels my productivity and creativity at work.
- 3. The third important lesson I learnt is to overcome the inertia that we tend to have to do something and just do it. I remember a fantastic quote I read from the founder of Zappos. He said: “if you create your world, believe in it and open-up, people will come and live in it”. Women like us have the necessary skills and strengths to create such worlds, small and beautiful. We just don’t seem to know it, or don’t take ourselves seriously or don’t seem to believe in ourselves. And that brings me to the fourth lesson I learnt.
- 4. Woman have a killer advantage in several fields outside engineering and business: as nurturers, educators, creatives. Our visual thinking is much advanced, our ability to multi-task and make connections are really good and our ability to empathize with people needs no mention. A combination of intuition-empathy-creativity-productivity is a great asset to put to use in so many ways! I chose music therapy last year. This year I choose design-eduction. Next year I would do something else. What I realized is that there is no end to how we can reach our fullest potentials. Men should be envying us reading this 😉
With these thoughts, I leave you all to think about your strengths and discover alternate professions that can fulfill your passion and dreams.We have to get out of our homes and office and serve the world around us. I also learnt by finding such alternate professions, we can also breathe better and live healthier, despite the pollution in this city:-). And trust me it is divinely satisfying and will make all the hurdles and turnmoils we come across at work more agreeable. We have a huge role and responsibility to shape this world and we are made to do it.
Reading and writing was always my favorite hobbies ever since I was a child. The genre and kind of books that I read and wrote varied over the ages. Writing always rejuvenated me. Sometimes I wrote to kill time, sometimes to vent out my frustration and sometimes just to express my happiness. As responsibilities in life took new branches, hobbies slowly disappeared even without me realizing it. In fact I even forgot to express my feelings. Until one fine day while I was reciting one of the rhymes for my daughter, I knew I was missing something- I had not written a single word for years!!!
I decided to pursue my passion amidst the tight schedules. It was the rebirth of my hobby and I started by writing small rhymes for my daughter. I felt proud and excited when she recited the rhymes written by me. Slowly I started penning down the murmurs that came from within my soul. Sometimes I wrote for my daughter, sometimes I wrote just for myself and in some cases I shared my work to the public. And sometimes I even wrote something related to my work. I joined writing communities, shared my work, reviewed others’ works, took part in writing contests and was happy as never before. I vented out my frustrations and expressed my excitement through my pen as before.
Whatever work you do, it is important that you find time to do what you mind urges you to do. I believe, that would be your true passion and that would energize your mind and soul and would make you a happier person.