The BackStory: A Little Bit About My Journey
I am an Indian American living in North Carolina with my German husband and our french-speaking cat (well, he understands all languages). I am truly grateful to my parents who have experienced the typical immigrant story starting from scratch to follow the American dream. They worked hard to put me through a prestigious university so I could get, in their view, the best education. I was born in Mumbai, India, and my family moved to the US when I was 14.
Because I grew up speaking English (as it was the main language of instruction starting in kindergarten), I easily transitioned into the education system. Culturally, however, I felt like I had one feet in the East and the other in the West. And I continue to feel my identity connected to the human-ness of us all rather than a particular nationality - plus, if you play a game of Cranium with me, you will win every game because I still don't get a majority of the intensive cultural references!
The prestigious university that my parents worked hard to afford me is New York University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television production. I wanted to make movies - documentaries on the "real" issues. I wanted to tell the story of those whose stories needed to be heard, to help create a change. Realizing I had no clue about the real issues, I happily took an amazing job at the United Nations in New York. My first full-time job out of college, the position at the UN was absolutely wonderful. As a Public Information Assistant a.k.a. tour-guide, I got to lead group tours through the UN headquarters and talk about global challenges and global change. I got really interested in international development. Not only did I learn about real politik, my colleagues were some of the most brilliant and kind people I have met. And yes, I also met my husband while I was giving a public tour of the headquarters (that's another juicy story)!
After working for four and a half years at the United Nations Headquarters, I moved to Germany and received a Master of Arts from Jacobs University Bremen in International Relations. This is where my personal transformation a.k.a. downward emotional spiral took place (which is also why I am so passionate about helping people live happier). This was a pivotal time (read challenging) in my life and going through it has made me stronger and more resilient as a person. It was during this time that I realized, that I am the one who chooses how my life will look like and how I feel is entirely based on what lens I am looking through. This is where I decided to choose the lens of joy, happiness and gratitude and my life has transformed exponentially. Eventually, I got married, started my company Reflection Pond and we moved back home to the US.
After graduation, I found myself in the huge roster of new graduates looking for a job in international development. Having great prospects to work again at the UN, I applied also to my favorite charities such as World Vision and others. While I was waiting on my application status, I began designing a digital wedding photo album to turn into a coffee-table book. Seeing me have so much fun with it (I worked for three days with just a few hours of sleep, I was that excited), my husband suggested that I offer this as a service to other people who want to turn their paper/digital photos into a coffee-table book. I looked at him perplexed. My thoughts said, "This is not what I went to grad school for!" But when he suggests something, it is always worth listening, and that is what I did. Soon, I was the co-founder of a photo-book design business based in Germany serving clients from USA, Mexico, Italy, UK and Germany. It felt good to help people reflect on their lives through their own photos. And I began to reflect on my life, too. Gradually, the company evolved to its current role today in that we help people reflect on their life through transformational programs and coaching.
After five years in Germany, we moved back home to the US in 2010.
Indeed, I have had an amazing life. Today, I relish in my life as I get to do what I love (help people be happy), write, create movies and just feel blessed and am so grateful for all of it. And one of the highlights of the past year for me was when my 9 year old neighbor, Noah, came over to give me a gold medal. He said it was for me because I was happy!