Yes, there have been good things about 2020: babies born, businesses started, quality time spent with immediate family, gourmet cooking discovered, and then some. But for the most part, this year has been excruciating, challenging, and depleting for a large majority of people.
For my last ‘The Balanced Life’ column of 2020, I wanted a piece using stories from real women with the hope they be inspirations for years to come. So, I asked friends, family, and colleagues what kept them going this year, when the boundaries have blurred, the commute reduced to under five minutes, and when they felt tested on a daily basis. What motivated them to wake up and own the day.
Priyanka Komala is a tech leader and the host of Curryupstartup who lives in Washington DC started her leadership podcast spotlighting Asian innovators and entrepreneurs in 2020.
“The pandemic has opened our eyes to bloom where you are planted,” she says. “We often think that when things get to normal, we will be our happy selves again. But, being in the moment is key. I have always enjoyed meeting people, being curious about their life experiences and spotlighting fellow Asians who are often underrepresented in the media. A congruence of all of this has been the Curryupstartup podcast. Meeting amazing people, sharing positive vibes and learning from each other’s story on how they traverse life with resilience, growth mindset and taking things in a positive stride are key takeaways that have provided meaning to my passion through this podcast amidst the pandemic.”
Komala suggests identifying three components in your life that make you happy.
“Thus, your passion is born, and it keeps you going through these challenging times,” she says.
When I spoke with Sandhya Nemali, a potter and owner of Maati-Ka in Singapore, she attributed her calm and balance to her work.
“Clay keeps me grounded and centered. Pottery has many life lessons to offer. Concentration, focus, perseverance is what pottery teaches you. Even one moment of distraction, one split second of lost focus, your piece loses shape and you have to start all over again. It has given me the most amazing feeling of liberation.”
Nemali chose to be a stay-at-home mom when her kids were born but was always on the lookout for “me-time” that would honor art and her mind. What initially started as a hobby, became a passion and now an occasional commercial enterprise. Maati-Ka was born in 2016 when Nemali’s father passed away and her older son went away to college.
“In what was great timing, my husband gifted me a small potter’s wheel early this year,” she says. “So when the pandemic came upon us, I was incredibly fortunate to have all the tools of my trade with me at home. I was able to dive into my passion as a distraction whenever I needed to.”
Rita Morar is a London-based fusion music artist who, at the beginning of lockdown, said to herself, “It is now or never.”
For Morar, music is a source of energy that keeps her soul ignited and passion burning, urging her to learn and create more.
“I decided this year now that I have more time on my hands to make use of it in the best way possible,” she says. “Having a home studio setup gave me a head start as I was able to create my first ever EP ‘Blossoms in Isolation’ and the single ‘Habibi’ (with the help of other fine talent and technology). To keep the positive music energy, I created an IG series called Music Heals to discuss with a create individual what music means to them and how they heal through music and particular songs. It has been received very well. I have hosted over 50 episodes with varied guests and it is still going strong. I am doing the best of my ability to keep me going as a creative and keep others in good spirits too.”
Since the pandemic has decided to hang around in the New Year and we are seeing more lockdowns in place, do you plan to reach out and touch your dreams? The one thing I realized is that those who have a passion and purpose were able to navigate the pandemic a bit more seamlessly and less strenuously. Maybe the two Ps worked as a good distraction?
Danielle Duckery reminds us, “Determination, motivation, and dedication are what you need for inspiration.”