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2021 Was All About Family, Pursuing My Passions and Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

2021 Was All About Family, Pursuing My Passions and Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

  • As we step into the year 2022, I’m hoping that we all stay safe and use the lessons learned in personal and professional life to guide us to a better tomorrow.

As I spent Christmas day at home with my family this year, I looked back and reminisced about what a wonderful year it’s been.

This year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and dared to do something different than what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years or so. I got to spend more time with my family. I gave myself more time to pursue my passion for dancing. I made sure I kept every promise and showed up at every event I committed to. This year, our younger one celebrated her ‘Sweet 16’ birthday, and our son graduated from college and started working. This year, my dear husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by getting married again at the Guruvayur temple in Houston.

However, the year didn’t start out promising for me. I was jobless as my project was canceled and I was furloughed from my cushy job as a structural engineer in the oil and gas industry. Even though I enjoyed a couple of months just being at home with my family and the brand new puppy we adopted, I quickly realized that I have to take the future into my hands and do something on my own. Hence I entered the world of entrepreneurship and became a licensed realtor. Within a month, I also became a Licensed Structural Engineer in the State of Texas. I tell my family that there is nothing more dangerous than a woman with a license to practice engineering and real estate at the same time. Only “License to Kill” by James Bond sounds more dangerous than this!

I quickly fell in love with my profession as a real estate agent as it was an extension of what I already was doing in the community, helping people. This year has been the most rewarding for me in my 20-year experience in corporate America. Needless to say, I’m in love with my new career.

Another wonderful thing happened: I got to spend more time with my family at home. My kids were attending their classes from home for the first half of the year. I had my mom visiting from India and stranded here during Covid because of travel restrictions and my husband had his business trip reduced. This is the first full year in our lives that we spent more time at home together than in an office or school building.

Since I didn’t have the pressure to go to the office from 7 am to 5 pm, I found more time to enjoy my hobbies of cooking and gardening. I was able to record many gardening and cooking videos and try to educate and inspire others by posting them on social media. I’m proud to say that since summer we have been getting a steady supply of homegrown organic vegetables for our consumption. I plan to continue it in the coming years as well.

We adopted a puppy, Tippu, in 2020 during the early days of Covid and he kept our spirits high all through this year as well. I also record his videos almost every day and post them on social media not knowing if anyone will even watch them. To my surprise, I got such an overwhelming response. The highlight of the whole experience was when a cancer patient who is going through chemotherapy treatment told me that she looks forward to Tippu’s videos every day and that keeps her spirit high and she laughs a lot.

This year, I decided to dedicate more time to learning Kathak, and just finished the 2nd year exams and moved on to the next level. I’m also trained in Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. This year, I also decided to support the mom entrepreneurs and buy exclusively from them. I love how the moms thrive doing small business from home while taking care of family.

I emceed a dancing show over the zoom, anchored a health talk show over the zoom, participated in sari shows over the zoom and presented a speech over the zoom. This year was all about getting things done over the zoom.

Last, but not least, I decided to use my time to volunteer with organizations to help spread awareness on 2 areas that are close to my heart. I’m on the board of IACAN (Indian American Cancer Network). As a bone marrow donor, I spent my time educating people about the importance of being registered in the bone marrow registry and saving someone’s life. One of the highlights of this year was organizing a meetup of a donor and recipient in Houston. The recipient was someone that I worked very hard to find a match with and last year he got matched with a donor and got the transplant and he is a healthy and happy 11-year-old now. It was exciting to see all my efforts paying off.

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I am also on the board of IAPAC (Indian American Political Action Committee), which is a bipartisan organization supporting the political candidates of Indian origin and also spreading awareness about Indian Americans getting involved in politics and having representation. We also raise awareness about getting Indian-origin voters to vote and their voices are heard.

As we step into the year 2022, I’m hoping that we all stay safe and use the lessons learned in personal and professional life to guide us to a better tomorrow. I’m excited and looking forward to what the New Year brings my way! Happy New year everyone. Everyone, please stay safe.

(Top photo, Gayathri Rao with her husband Narendra and their children.)

Gayathri Rao is a structural engineer by profession and a realtor by passion. She is a resident of the Houston area for more than 23 years. She is married to her husband Narendra for 25 years and has two kids — a 22-year-old son and a daughter who’s 16. Gayathri started her life in the U.S. as a new bride, being a stay-at-home wife and later as a mother. She was always attracted to service to the community and she started working part-time at the local women’s center. She eventually worked her way to a profession of engineering in the oil and gas industry, but still stayed involved in the community through her volunteer work. A trained classical dancer, she enjoys photography, yoga and movies.

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The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
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