Monday, September 28, 2015

Receiving Mahatma Gandhi Parvasi Samman

Receiving Mahatma Gandhi Parvasi Samman 

This past summer, the Los Angeles Business Journal recognized Malibu Chronicle as one of the best small businesses in Los Angeles. At that awards ceremony, I met Mr. Mohammad Islam, President of the SABAN (South Asian Business Alliance Network), and we spoke about promoting my book, ‘Learning to L.I.V.E’.  Some time later, Mr. Islam introduced me to Mr. Singh who is in the publishing business. He thought Mr. Singh could help promote my book in the Indian market, and that, with our common business and publishing backgrounds, it might be good for us to meet. He told Mr. Singh about my life, my business background, my inspirational ‘All Good News’ magazine Malibu Chronicle, and my self help book about how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and how to find a life after abuse. Mr. Singh graciously agreed to meet us for a half hour at his hotel near the LAX airport.

That short meeting quickly turned into a family affair.  Mr. Singh invited his wife and nephew to come meet us. He had many questions for me, and we spoke openly for a long time. He wanted to know about my life and my journey from Michigan to Malibu, from software engineer to publisher, from living in a traditional role of wife and mother, to being free to do and live my life on my terms.  We also talked about my most recent life journey on the peace path with my education in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica, and conflict management, having just received a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University Law School. By the end of the meeting, we had made plans to meet again in L.A. and India to discuss more business opportunities.   

At that time, Mr. Islam and I did not know that Mr. Singh, while travelling throughout the U.S. and other countries, was also in search of worthy candidates for an upcoming event at the House of Lords in London, UK in which individuals of Indian origin living outside of India are recognize and honored for making the name of India shine with their inspirational work and lives.

A few days after our meeting, Mr. Islam and I received an email from
Mr. Deepak Singh that he had nominated me to the NRI Welfare Society of India for the Mahatma Gandhi Parvasi Samman award. The award is named after Mahatma Gandhi because he was an Indian living outside of India when he began his amazing journey that brought freedom to the country.  Parvasi means Indian living outside of India, and Samman is the honor. I was surprised and could not believe the email, so I called Mr. Islam. He was happy for me and told me that he would confirm the details with Mr. Singh, which he did. He also said let’s wait and see what happens with the nomination.

Two weeks later, I received an email from Mr. Singh that the board accepted my nomination.  He said that the decision of who would receive the award would be made soon. He also told me that, if I were one of the awardees, he would like me to go to London to accept the award at the House of Lords; it would be a good place to meet the other awardees from around the world.

This started to seem real, but though I wasn’t sure I would be going to London, I still needed to start making tentative plans. I wanted my sons Kunal and Rahul to come with me, and I had to make sure they were available the end of September.

Then it happened.  In early August, Mr. Singh wrote that I had been chosen as one of the awardees at the House of Lords this year!!  It was real! I had to decide quickly if I was going to accept the award in person, which meant I had to buy the tickets and ask my sons to clear their schedules.

This was the first time I would be away from Malibu during the “crunch” week for the magazine, getting the October issue ready to go to print. I would be back in time to go over the layout, but a lot of work is necessary before then. My staff had to assume a huge responsibility. I had to trust JC, our Director of Operations, and Sue, our Editor, to manage without me being physically present to oversee every step as I usually do.  They encouraged me to go and assured me that it was good for the magazine. Thanks to both JC and Sue’s commitment, and the wishes and encouragement from the rest of the staff, I was able to take this trip.

I reached London with my sons on the morning of September 21st.  After a short rest, we met Mr. Singh and a few other delegates at the Hotel and headed to the House of Lords. It was all very formal.  We reached the Tower and each handed the guard our individual invitation card required to enter the Gates to the House of Lords.  We walked into the reception hall, which was filling with dignitaries, officers of the organization, and delegates. We were meeting everyone for the first time at this reception.  Delegates had come from around the world to be part of this prestigious event. Most of them had come with their families.  I imagined that, just like me, they wanted to share this once in a lifetime moment with their loved ones as they received this illustrious award named after Mahatma Gandhi.

We were seated at long decorated tables.  The servers offered appetizers and drinks as people were being seated and introductions were being announced.  After dinner, the award ceremony began.  The Mistress of Ceremonies announced the names and a brief background of each delegate receiving the award. The Minister of Tourism and cultural affairs of the Seychelles, Mr. Alain St. Ange presented the award medals, and the Right Honorable Baroness Sandip Verma, Minister of International Development, U.K., handed the award certificate to each delegate. The cameras of the professional photographers and proud family members flashed with every award, and the hall was roaring with applause in recognition of every awardee. The atmosphere was euphoric.

Then I heard my name announced. I stood to receive the award. My sons Kunal and Rahul followed me, capturing the moment in pictures - the pictures I later sent to JC, who posted them on Facebook.

After all the main awards were delivered, the Minister of Seychelles expressed his thanks to the NRI Welfare society for inviting him to the ceremonies. To everyone’s surprise, he then announced that he had awards for two very special people he met during this visit.  I was shocked when I heard him call my name. He invited me to the stage again, where he presented me with a beautiful award and extended an official invitation to the India day celebrations in the Seychelles, or to use any time to visit the Seychelles as his guest.  I was overwhelmed with this honor and invitation.

It was wonderful to have my sons there to share this amazing experience with me. I feel blessed.

I am proud of the work my staff and I put into bringing this beautiful magazine to you every two months. This prestigious award is a good sign that our work is being noticed and recognized around the globe.

I tell everyone I am a shameless networker and salesperson, so, of course, my luggage was full of Malibu Chronicle magazines and a few of my books.  I used the Minister’s speech about my magazine as an opportunity to share them with some delegates and other visitors. Soon, people were flocking around asking for the magazine and my business cards. They asked if I would do speaking engagements, and wanted to talk to me about other events and awards.

It was a proud and wonderful evening for the Malibu Chronicle and for me. I am grateful that I was able to attend, and I thank all my staff, family, and friends for their support that made it possible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Do I feel totally happy, blessed and fortunate? You bet I do!!

Learning to L.I.V.E.

Loving yourself is the hardest thing to learn.
Insisting on Freedom is the most important thing to do.

Victory over victim syndrome is the surest way to be really free.
Empowerment is your birthright, and you deserve it!

Do I feel totally happy, blessed and fortunate? You bet I do!!

I am in this state of JOY, not because I found my soul mate or won a Mega Lottery. I feel completely happy and blessed because I feel loved and cared for by the Universe.  When I pay attention to what the Universe is telling me, everything seems to fall into place. I am fortunate because I have my family and friends who love me, and are always available and willing to listen to me when I need to brainstorm to make sure I am on the right path of taking care of ME.

I feel loved because I know that, even when I am not sure about my choices, someone much bigger than me is looking out for me.  I have felt this over and over in my life. When I’m not being true to myself, and I am compromising or settling for something less than I deserve, the Universe makes sure it intervenes. It lets me know that I am not on the right path and that I am not making the right decision by sending me the feeling of discomfort or incompleteness.

My normal self is usually singing, dancing and smiling. When I am off my destined path of self-love and care, I can see myself losing those inherent qualities about me. I stop singing and I don’t dance as much. I try to be happy, but I have this nagging feeling of being incomplete or misplaced. I know inside that I am not happy on my path. I decide to change it, but then allow myself to be convinced by others to abandon my decision in order to keep someone else happy, even when I know that is wrong. I have done this many times and I have failed every time. I have always known and now firmly believe that I cannot make someone else happy for long unless they want to make themselves happy. I choose not to sacrifice my joy. Being in joy is the only indication that I am doing the right thing. Someone very wise once told me, “If it is not FUN, don’t do it.” I finally believe it.

That uncomfortable, joyless state, when I can’t sing and dance, does not leave till I truly listen to my inner self, and make the tough decision of saying NO to what is bothering me. It is my job to take care of myself.  Short of actually talking to me in a big thunderous noise (like in movies), I see the Universe doing everything to show me when I need to fix my ways and what I need to do. All I have to do is listen to my inner self and choose the path of JOY. I deserve to be in joy all the time. We all deserve that, and can have it if only we learn to listen to our inner selves. We all know when we are happy and we also know when we are not. We have a choice. We have a choice to choose JOY.
The Universe loves you!! Love yourself!! And Enjoy living Your Life!