When they must go out to follow their bliss, simply let your children fly away…
Yesterday went in a blur. All day Vaani and I were reminiscing the growing up years of our children Aashirwad and Aanchal. The four of us are very close to each other. Yet Aash has been away from home for 9 years now and Aanch too left yesterday.
As parents, we both are experiencing a completely empty nest for the first time. Surely, we are not the first set of parents to feel this way. And undoubtedly we are not the last. Feeling the emptiness at home, however, has been an interesting, learning experience.
Over a drink last evening, I marveled at Lebanese American writer-poet Khalil Gibran’s wisdom and insight. His unputdownable verse – “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself, they come through you but not from you, and although they are with you, they belong not to you…” – is what is helping us accept our new reality. Besides, as we are realizing, being an empty nester brings a spiritual flavor to one’s role as a parent.
I now recognize that parenting is not just a responsibility. To be a parent is actually a blessing. Because it gives you an opportunity to mold another Life by inculcating values in your child. And then when the child is ready for the world, you give your child wings and let her or him fly away. That’s how you learn to practice detachment in Life.
In Vaani’s and my case, we see another very beautiful dimension playing out. Which is that since children are Life’s longing for itself, Life always steps in to take care of them, even if you as a parent can’t contribute in a given context. As parents, we have not been able to support the college education for either Aash or Aanch. Our enduring bankruptcy leaves us numb each month – we never quite have enough even for our monthly living expenses. Yet, through this past decade that we have been bankrupt, we have had Aash’s under-graduate Program at the University of Chicago funded through remarkably generous people. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) And now Aanch’s grad school tenure is being covered by a very benevolent sponsor who is paying her tuition and related costs. What this essentially means is that Life really takes care of and provides for all that it creates. From this experience, Vaani and I have learnt that if as parents we let go and don’t let our insecurities or ego come in the way of our children’s aspirations, Life will always unquestionably, undeniably, give them what they need.
Also, as we are learning from Aashirwad’s experiences over the past two years, when children go away to pursue their dreams and build their Life their way, they are bound to face challenges. Naturally, as parents, we want to protect our children. But what we are understanding is that you can’t do anything to change your children’s Life design. If they have to go through a catharsis or a challenge, they have to. There is no escaping it. But please don’t conclude that a Life challenge is a curse or a punishment. It is Life’s way of coaching someone to be stronger, wiser and happier. The earlier we recognize this truth about Life, the more equanimity we will have as parents.
Bottomline, we only have one key responsibility towards our children – we must guide and inspire them to be good human beings. We must raise them with the right values and let them go wherever their bliss takes them. While we can pray for them, we can’t prevent Life from serving them crises. So, there’s no point in pining for them or worrying about them or wanting to keep them with us so that we can protect them – because, however hard we may try, we can’t ever live their lives for them!
Focus on what is, than brood over what isn’t!
A reader reached out to me and said she feels so lost, so lonely that she wonders if she is even alive. She said she feels like a shell on a beach. “The shell had a living organism in it at some time. Now the shell just exists. There’s no Life in it,” she said, sounding low and listless.
It is perfectly normal to find yourself, from time to time, in a situation where everything that you dreamed of, everything that you stood for, every value and principle you held on to and practiced diligently, lies shattered, taken away from you and every evidence seems to point that you have been so naive and are on the wrong path, while the whole world seems to be making merry progressing in a different direction. It is okay to find yourself alone. In such a situation, what you need to be doing is surveying what’s left of your Life – focusing on what you have than brooding over what isn’t there. Remember not to focus on what’s not with you anymore but to look at what you still have.
Of the pieces, or threads, that are still with you, pick one that is very dear to you. Maybe your dream. While all your efforts thus far may have been run aground, nobody can take your dream away from you. Even if the world does not value you for the principles you follow, you still are who you are. Nobody can change who you are and what you believe in. Not even you. So, your values and principles are still intact. There may be other threads__someone out there who still believes in you, a glimmer of light that shows the way ahead. As you emerge from surveying what you are left with, resolve anew to pursue. Focus on the smaller, beautiful (the ones you love) pieces than on all your problems at the same time. You have air in your lungs, you have your values intact, your dream’s still in you__these are good enough to reboot your Life’s journey.
There’s a beautiful line in Hindi literature that says, “Doobte hue ko bas tinke ki zaroorat hoti hai”, which means, “The one who’s drowning, just needs a straw, a reeper, to cling on to”. A friend’s Facebook status yesterday read as follows: “Haiku of the morning: “Dad passed away. Feels like the roof over our head’s blown off. But the sunrise is brilliant.”” That’s what a reboot is all about – summoning the right attitude to move on…So, look for your Haiku! And you will surely find it. Reboot! Look out the window. There’s a beautiful sun rising for you. (Or surely, in a while). Just for you. Perhaps, it is time for you to stop mourning, stop moaning and start living?
Right and wrong arise only from social – or religious – definitions!
As we drove through Poes Garden yesterday, my Uber driver asked me: “Sir, do you see the irony of it all? The working class keeps slogging away harder and harder; the looting class keeps stashing away more and more and yet they get away scot-free. She (Sasikala) may have gone to jail; but our state is in the hands of her clan…so that the looting can continue and the looted treasures can be hoarded and protected. Why do wrong-doers always have it good in Life? And why do the honest always suffer?”
Although these questions have been asked with respect to the murky political scenario in Tamil Nadu – as I write this blogpost the Sasikala faction has won the Trust Vote in the State Assembly – they apply to all contexts and scenarios, to all people, in Life. Why do wrong-doers always have it good in Life? And why do the honest always suffer?
First, let us understand, there is no right or wrong in Life. On a spiritual plane, all actions are equal and are made by individuals basis what drives them, what inspires them and what possesses them at any given moment. Society, for reasons of regulating large masses of humanity, prescribes guidelines that have, over time, led to the classification of some actions as right and some as wrong. Religion has invited itself to this party and has given what it deems right, a God-stamp, a blessing; and whatever it deems wrong has been labeled sinful. So, for instance, a man having sex with a partner outside of his marriage is merely a “normal action that satisfies a physical craving in him and his partner”. But society labels this very basic, physical, need as wrong, brings in a definition of polygamy, prescribes punishment by way of social ostracism and religion labels it adulterous and, therefore, as sinful, punishable in the “eyes of God”. So, right and wrong arise only from social – and, if you will, religious – definitions. In Life, everything, when viewed objectively, dispassionately, is only an action.
Now, let’s get back to my cabbie’s questions. If you look at those that are pissing on democracy in their lust for power, you will realize that they are doing it only because they are very clear this is what they want out of Life. They want money. They want property. They want control. They want position. And they see nothing wrong with the means they have chosen because it is the end, and only the end, that matters to them. The conscientious common folk though want governance, want basic needs met, want some money to eke a livelihood, want peace of mind and, basically, a good night’s sleep. They see their righteousness alone as right and everything else as wrong. To this class, the means is often more important, and sacrosanct, than the end. None of what the common-folk wants is causing them any misery except two things – one, a desire for good governance and two, a desire for Life to be fair to them. Now, what is the point in desiring governance while refusing to participate in the political process actively? By active participation I mean going beyond exercising your right to vote alone. I mean getting involved in the process of citizen activism, contributing to the political process and to democracy as an institution. I mean that just as once upon a time, families sent their children to serve the country through the armed forces, the time has come for us to groom our children to be national leaders and honest politicians. The second desire to want Life to be fair just because you are a class of sloggers, good natured, ethical, humans, is misplaced. Life never promised anything to anyone. Life just keeps on happening. You bring in an expectation of fair-play and so you are responsible for inviting suffering into your Life. Bottom-line: on both counts, you have an option to end your suffering. Just drop this right or wrong debate. If you want to fix the system that is holding you to ransom, go down to work on it. Your suffering, and your ranting about it, is not going to fix any system!
Here’s the nub: those that lack scruples are clear that values don’t matter to them. It is only those who are scrupulous that are confused about wanting to hold on to their values and also wanting all that which comes from being unscrupulous. This confusion is what is causing all the turmoil, the suffering, in them. I sincerely believe in this – if someone can walk without any sign of remorse over being self-obsessed, why shouldn’t the self-righteous walk equally freely – with their head held high? They surely can – if they can resolve the conflicts in them by choosing to be non-suffering!
Personal integrity is unlike a social rating – it is deeply personal and is not dependent on what others think of you.
At my Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk in Mysuru recently, a man in the audience, asked me, “What is the definition of self-respect?”
I replied: “The ability to look into your own eyes in the mirror is self-respect.”
He repeated the question, a tad aggressively: “What is self-respect?”
I replied again: “The ability to look into your own eyes in the mirror is self-respect.”
He demanded one more time: “….the definition of self-respect!”
I repeated myself: “The ability to look into your own eyes in the mirror is self-respect.”
He was now visibly charged. He said gruffly, “Okay, what is ability…”
I said, “Ability is ability…what you can do…when you are able to look at yourself, face yourself, that, to me, is self-respect.”
He then stated impatiently: “Oh! So, you will borrow money, you will say you don’t have the means to repay and you will say you will learn to be happy despite the circumstances, but what about those who lent you money, what about their happiness?” “I disagree with your whole Talk, your perspective,” he added, laughing crudely.
“You have a choice to disagree. And I respect that,” I said. Vaani added that, happiness here is the ability to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, despite the excruciating circumstances we are in. I made my point again, that to me, self-respect is the ability to face yourself – despite what you have done, what you have caused.
The gentleman nodded in disagreement, got up and left.
At all my Talks, even as I open, I tell my audiences that they are free to disagree with what I have to share and with the choices Vaani and I have made in our Life. So, I neither had a discomfort with the question the man asked or with him leaving in a huff. In fact, we do have people who tell us they would not have done what we have done – which is, stay on, dig our heels in, and face up to Life and the people who we owe money to, stoically. It is fine if people have a different view of what they would have done in our shoes. To each one their own. Vaani and I have chosen to be happy, despite our circumstances, so that we can keep facing this enduring crisis, keep making efforts to turn our business around, so that someday soon, surely, we can repay all the money that we owe people.
This is where self-respect comes in. Let me explain.
I feel that in any situation, three perspectives are possible: what you, the person in the throes of a situation, feels you can and must do; what the world wants you to do; and what the world thinks you are doing. Maybe there is a fourth. Or more. But these three ring as immediate possibilities to me just now. Among the three, from what Vaani and I have learnt, only the first one appeals to us. Which is doing what you can and must do in the situation. If you have done that, then no matter what the outcomes of your efforts are, no matter what the world thinks of you, you can sleep well, you can look into the mirror and face yourself. This, to me, is self-respect. Self-respect is really about you. Any other perspective that is not your own is a mere perception. If you engage too much with your perception value, chances are you may be very unhappy. Because you are not true to yourself. When you are unhappy, when you are suffering, you cannot function with focus and efficiency. So, self-respect is very important, crucial, in fact, to progress and to endure a difficult, or apparently no-go situation.
Which is why I am sharing this experience and this learning here. I have understood, and experienced, that no matter how “worldly-wise” someone’s point of view may be, how suicidal it may be to do something that may be perceived by the world as wrong, if you feel like doing what will never make you feel ashamed of yourself, go do it. Personal integrity is unlike a social rating – it is deeply personal and is not dependent on what others think of you. It is about what you think of yourself, how much you value your inner peace. To be sure, you can never prove your personal integrity to anyone. Either people relate to you and “feel” your honesty, even when there’s no material evidence, or they don’t. Period. Your personal honesty is your sense of conviction and your ability to face yourself in the mirror. If you can do that, you can last any crisis, endure any situation, no matter how long it takes!
Can you gift your children their best friend today – “You”?
My blogpost yesterday on parenting had some people write in to me. A common thread that linked all the questions and sentiments was this: “How do you draw the line between being a parent and a friend? How do you decide when is the good time to step in and take charge when your child is drifting away?”
I will answer this from our own experience of raising Aashirwad (now 26) and Aanchal (now 21). We resolved early on to treat them both as individuals, allowing them the freedom to make their own choices from when they were toddlers. When they entered their teens, we told them both that we are their best friends, that we will always be available for them. And, we made it clear to them that in certain contexts, we will surely talk from our experience of what is right for them and what is not. To take our advice or draw from our experience, we said, was always left to them. We often summed up any parenting conversation with this line: “We are your best friends. But if you see us behaving like your parents, remember, you are responsible for it.” Let me tell you, this empowering approach with our children has really worked for Vaani and me. Of course, our children have stumbled, fallen, got hurt, cried and made poor choices – but each time they have come back to us, and continue to come back, for our perspectives.
So, I would recommend that if you want your children to grow up to be mature, intelligent, responsible, good, caring, loving human beings, stop being their parent. Start being their best friend.
True friendship is the ability to speak your mind, without being overbearing, and yet being available without being emotional or nasty or preachy with a regrettable “I-told-you-so”. The only way we can enjoy parenting without worrying and being anxious, is by being our kids’ best friends. Remember: they are your children. They are intelligent. They like to be treated with dignity. Sit with them. Have conversations. They will want to go back to Facebook. They will want to be on the phone for hours together talking silly nothings. They will want to run away for a movie than stay back and do the dishes. Don’t lose patience. Friends don’t. Parents do. And sometimes, despite your advice not to do a certain thing__like enter into a relationship or take up an extracurricular activity that will distract from the core academic curriculum__ your child may do it and then will come back home, heartbroken, defeated and want to cry on your shoulder. At that time please don’t say, “I-told-you-so!” Say instead, that you know what it means to feel lost in Life and that you say so, because you too have been there, done that. That’s how friends talk to each other. Tell your child you know what it means to be in her or his shoes. Watch the difference in your child’s attitude. See the learning, the awakening happen.
At the same time, good parenting is also being firm and steadfast on values. Your conversations with your child must be always full of anecdotes and not just preachings. You must lead the values campaign at home by example. If you want your child to know what integrity means, then demonstrate it. Don’t expect your child to practice integrity if you both are going to watch a pirated movie downloaded illegally online or if you are going to bribe a cop on the street (in India) because you parked wrongly! If you want your child to understand dignity and equal opportunity, practice that with your spouse first. If you don’t want your child to smoke, you must quit smoking yourself. If you don’t want your child to drink and drive, you stop doing that first! Of course, children will want to experience sex, sooner than we would want them to. Again your conversations help here. Don’t stop them from doing it. Tell them instead, when is it a better time to do it. And why.
And then take a few positions on what’s a no-no as far as your family is concerned: swearing in public, drugs, being rude, dishonesty, lying, whatever, lay down certain ground rules and make sure no one __ that includes you __ breaks them. Despite this if your child breaks one or more of them, get back into conversation mode.
Our parenting doesn’t make a child rebel. Our being unavailable when they want us is what makes them rabid. Fundamentally understand that children are human too. They have their own independent view of a world they are waiting to explore. Let us allow them that space while we remain available to them. Let us not bring our anxieties, insecurities and experiences into limiting their lives. If you believe you are a good human being, despite all that you have seen and been through in Life, know that your child too will eventually emerge as one.
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Forgiving someone for a transgression and yet being firm on the issue need not be mutually exclusive.
A young manager I know is in a quandary. His boss has been harassing him at work – to the extent that the young man went into depression. His colleagues advised him to report the boss’ behavior and to seek a new role within the organization. The manager got himself assigned to a new project within the company over some months but he has chosen not to complain about his ex-boss. Over coffee the other day he asked me if was right or wrong in a. forgiving his boss and moving on and b. not reporting his boss’ behavior to his company’s HR leadership on grounds of breaching an organizational value – ‘respect for the individual’. “I am not sure I can be forgiving and also report him,” he confessed.
As I have learnt from Life, you can – and often must – do both. There’s a warm and compassionate side to each of us. We are, by nature, willing to forgive people for their transgressions. But often times our softer side is viewed and interpreted as our weakness by people who trample upon our emotions or deny us our freedom or even basic, fundamental, human courtesies. In such situations, it is absolutely fine to stand up for yourself, look the someone who is bullying or harassing you in the eye, and say that you will not take this treatment anymore. Besides, in this particular manager’s story, it is important that his boss’ behavior is reported. Because it conflicts with an organizational value and if left unchecked it may cause serious emotional injury to other employees and also impair the organization’s culture.
Important, when you are forgiving someone, you are gifting yourself freedom from the trauma that following any pain that has been inflicted on you. Forgiveness frees you of suffering. But fighting for the injustice meted out to you in the first place, that’s issue-based. So if you choose to stay firm, and unrelenting, on not allowing such an issue to arise again, either to you, or to anyone in the future, there is no conflict whatsoever.
I have learned this from Swami Sathya Sai Baba: “In any relationship between two people, one may well be a cow and the other, a bull. There’s nothing wrong in being either. Each has a role to fulfil and each has something to offer the other. But at any time that the bull starts taking advantage of the cow’s benevolence, mistaking it for meekness, the cow will be well within its rights to assume the ‘avatar’ of the bull. In taking a stance, in your own interest, there is no right or wrong. Just be true to yourself – do what you believe must be done in any context. The cow need not perpetrate any acrimony, aggression or animosity. But the cow shouldn’t suffer any of these either.”
In essence, while to make a mistake is human, and to forgive such a mistake too is human, to suffer in silence and sorrow is both unjust and inhuman. It is the biggest hurdle to inner peace and joy. So, don’t confuse being compassionate and being firm. They need not be exclusive. Simply, no matter who it is, don’t let anyone take you for granted, trample upon your self-esteem, piss on you and pass you over. Remember: if you don’t stand up for yourself – chances are, perhaps, nobody else will!
Live your Life your way, when you still have the time!
I was asked by a lady recently if it is possible for someone like her, who comes from a conservative family, to go do what she loves doing and find happiness. “I have been raised to always believe that my husband, my in-laws, my children, my extended family comes first. I somehow feel guilty every time I think of doing something for myself,” she said. I asked her if she is happy being the way she is. “No. I am very unhappy. My husband and I have a huge distance between us. Everything I do is only a chore. My children give me solace but they are young adults now and have gone their ways. Despite all my education and talent, I feel lost, wasted and useless,” she confessed. I advised the lady to decide what she wanted to do basis only one parameter – her happiness: “A large part of your Life is over and done with. You can’t live brooding over the past. Recognize that you only have so much time left. Do whatever makes you happy.”
Actually, this perspective applies not only to this lady’s context, but is true for each of us. Sometimes, we get so caught up in serving our circle of influence that we miss attending to ourselves. Respecting the needs of your family and living by family values and culture is undoubtedly important. But if it is going to leave you drained, miserable and unhappy, what is the point? We must understand that being happy, doing what you love doing, is not being selfish or irresponsible. Only when you are happy can you live a more productive Life. Simple.
Let me clarify further. I am not saying that looking after elderly parents or serving an extended family is wrong. Of course not. But if doing so is going to ruin your inner peace, and cause you (and others) suffering, you may as well choose to do what makes you happy. Because you live only once; this is the only Life you have. And being happy is the only way you can live meaningfully.
Between Vaani and me, interestingly, we have had contrasting experiences on this front. Her father lived with us for 14 years, after my mother-in-law passed away, till he died last year. Vaani served him and cared for him till the very end. In the last five years of his Life he became entirely dependent on her and this meant that a lot of her time was invested in looking after him. This did come in the way of her aspirations. But Vaani served him happily. She was always at great peace with herself – never did she complain, never did she shirk whatever she had to do for him. Now, I, on the other hand, have made a conscious choice not to have my parents live with me. The singular reason for this is that my mother and I cannot co-exist – there is no chemistry between us. In the wake of our bankruptcy my siblings accused me of being selfish, opportunistic and irresponsible because a. I had lost all the family wealth to my failed business and b. I refused to have my parents stay with me. I talk about this choice I made in my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal too. People often bring up this point in conversations with me. What would I have done if my siblings had not offered to support my parents? Am I not failing in my duty as a son, as a brother? And I always reply that I made my decision with a singular focus – I cannot be happy while engaging with my mother. Strange, but that is the way it is! So, unfortunately, we both can never stay together. I have no regrets about the decision I have made and I have the greatest respect and admiration for my siblings for doing what they are doing. If we had had the means, I would have provided for them with a separate premises and support staff. But since we ourselves have been living for the longest time on a grant and on the generosity of my sister-in-law and her husband, I am presently not volunteering any support. Now, my stance may appear to be cold-blooded to some. And a difficult or tough choice to others. But I sincerely don’t care about what others think of me. I know that unless I am at peace with myself, I can’t do what I must do – which is, claw my way out of the financial mess we have been in for years now. I clearly don’t want to be fighting internecine battles with my mother that will leave me drained and depressed every single day.
Yes, it may be the case in some instances that, when you are the only one in a family available to serve another member, you don’t have a choice. Then one has to accept the reality and stop complaining about Life. In such choice-less situations, happiness and inner peace comes from total acceptance of what is.
I share Vaani’s story and my story here only so that we all appreciate that each of our lives is unique. This so-called social norm of “family values + culture comes ahead of individual happiness and inner peace” is all humbug. Each of us has to do what we want to do, what we love doing and what we have to do. Your Life is yours. Period. As long as you are true to yourself, as long as you can face the person in the mirror, always do what you must do to be happy and at peace with yourself. Blaming others won’t cut ice when your number is called and it is time for you to depart. What will stare you in your face then is the brutal awakening that you may have perhaps lived your Life differently. What will be the point of brooding over an unlived, unhappy Life then? So, stop kidding yourself. Go live your Life happily, your way, when you still have the time!
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Revisit the past – only if you must; more to see how far you have come and never to brood over what could have been.
Today is special for two reasons – it marks 20 years of entrepreneurship for Vaani and me; and it is also the second anniversary of my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal’s (Westland) launch.
It was on August 1, 1996, that Vaani and I set up imagequity+, Asia’s first Reputation Management Company, in our small apartment on Second Main Road, R.A.Puram, near the Kaliappa Hospitals (now Billroth) in Chennai. We set it up with all our love, passion and vigor – in the 50th year of Indian Independence even as Rahman’s Vande Mataram tugged at our heart strings – to be the consulting Firm from India for the world. We grew fast and grew well in the first 5~7 years of our existence. And then we made mistakes. Strategic ones. That changed the course our Firm – and our lives – took, forever.
It is almost 9 years since that Firm went bankrupt. I remember how, four years ago, I sat on the ground in a makeshift office (where we had moved, unable to sustain operating costs following our business going bust), and personally shredded display boards and signages of the Firm’s Purpose, Vision and Values. In the journey of the last 20 years as an entrepreneur, that was the most numbing moment for me personally. I was literally, and figuratively, presiding over the funeral of a Firm that we had birthed with Purpose, with Vision and with integrity. Even so, despite the catharsis, we feel no bitterness in us. Yes, there is great pain – owing to the physical demands that a bankruptcy places on your Life – cashlessness, worklessness, cluelessness and lightlessness in a dark, seemingly endless, tunnel. But there is no aftertaste – no regret, no heartache, no sense of loss, grief or suffering.
I believe our non-suffering state has been achieved by treating this period of material loss and acute physical strain, as one of awakening and evolving. And this is the spirit of my Book as well. I wrote it through the darkest phase of our Life. I wrote it because I first wanted to share with my children how you journey through Life, how you flow with Life, as it happens. At their insistence I took an edited manuscript to Westland’s Gautam Padmanabhan who put it to review and vote with his editorial board. Karthik Venkatesh, a key member of that board, gave me infinite support and direction as we prepared, over the summer of that year, to release it on August 1, 2014.
Fall Like A Rose Petal, even as I wrote it, and even now, continues to be a spiritual journey. My story has no beginning. And it has no end that I can see. Yes, someday in the future, Vaani and I hope, the physicality of our bankruptcy will end and we will eventually become debt-free. But I don’t think we can ever repay the debt of gratitude that we owe our 179 Angels, our creditors, who came forward and selflessly supported us and to whom we still owe money. So, this journey will continue as a means of continuously evolving, hopefully paying it forward by way of being as compassionate with others in need as the Universe has been with us.
Dates, anniversaries and wishes of what could have been don’t make sense to me anymore. They are but ways of reminding yourself that this is where you are in Life – having traveled from where you once were! At least, that’s how I have learnt to look at Life. I realize that merely clinging on to the start of my entrepreneurial journey, this day, 20 years ago, will keep me chained to the past; a past that is dead. Instead, I am eternally grateful for my past – for, without the experience of being an entrepreneur, without leading, winning and getting whatever I wanted, without making mistakes, without stumbling, falling, going bust and broke, without pennilessless and worklessness, I may have never discovered the power of reflection, resilience and resourcefulness. I may have never written my Book – which has connected me to hundreds of people who have found the lessons I have shared very useful to cope with their own Life situations. Without turning an author, I may have never been delivering Talks and curating events that inspire happiness. I may have never taken to writing this Blog – which to me, is a truly immersive, therapeutic, daily experience! Without the Life I have had, I may not have been the person that I am today – perfectly at peace with myself in my beautiful, bountiful, yet apparently imperfect, world!