I realised something in the moment when my boss refused to sign my leave.
I was very excited when my husband told me the news. I had a chance to go to Amalfi coast in Italy for an arts residency for 3 weeks. It was an opportunity and experience I didn’t want to pass.
I excitedly went to my boss’ office very confidently that he’d be excited to know this. I loved my job, peers so never really had a problem with it all. But when he refused – I was shocked. In that moment, I realised something that hadn’t occurred to me before: I wasn’t free. I realised I always be at the mercy of someone else to decide when I work and when I don’t.
But I am not a digital nomad. Or anything like that.
I am a mum, who wants to watch her son grow and do good work that matters in other people’s lives and leaves them better off. I want a comfortable life for myself and family as opposed to an ’empire’. I want to treat others with care and respect and want to do the same for myself.
I want choice to design my days, and routine that allows me to do things that matter to me, work on passion projects and do business in a way that aligns with my own values. I want to take off whenever I want. In those little acts, lies the big act of defiance – Living and Working Unapologetically.
I want you to meet someone.
She’s a dreamer. She isn’t regular.
She is defiant. Aggressively individualistic. Profound as some may call her.
She lives in a small (ish) town. Slowly. Mindfully. Mostly. She is not good at listening to the rules. And certainly not following them. Unless they are her own. Disobedient!
She wants freedom. Nothing outlandish. Freedom to do yoga at 11am if she wants to. Break into a bollywood song and dance at 2pm. She wants to do the work that makes her feel lucky. Her home office has a wide window overlooking the infinite array of hills. And sometimes she folds her laptops and walks to a little cafe around the corner to work. Her favourite breakfast of avocado on toast, drizzled with lemon every morning, she thinks how lucky she is to be doing this work for the people she adores.
She travels for hours to perch herself on the cliff overlooking the blue beach to catch the spectacular views. And some calm. Sometimes she’d scribble in her moleskin diary from there. Solo trips to a different country or a town are her favourite thing to do.
She’s someone who cooks a meal for a friend in need and leaves it on her doorstep. She doesn’t understand Tarots, but when she’s feels the pangs of anxiety, she takes them out and let them guide her.
Bold and Soft. Ambitious and Kind. Considerate and Firm. Apologetic And Strong. Hard working and Restful. Strategic and Creative. Open to feedback and unyielding. She knows she can be both.
She doesn’t do anything just because she ‘should‘. She does everything because she ‘wants’ to. She dreams of working for the little girls in Africa and India so they can have access to sanitary pads and books. She wants world to be more friendly, more inclusive. She wants less judgement, more love.
She stops on her walks and picks up the Jasmine white flower and smells it. She’s quiet yet fierce.
She’s Disobedient. Creative. Kind.
This place is for women like her.
I am Neha
Me in a snapshot
+ Psychology Nerd
+ Non-native English speaker and writer (so look beyond the pesky grammar errors here and there. )
+ 5 minute – Curry Expert
+ Creative + Intense-at-times + Too-deep-for-shallow-talks
+ Heels 50% Yoga pants 50%
+ Borderline Woo
+ Has an accent nothing like Appu. And has successfully acquired an interesting Aussie twang after decade of living here. And some slangs too. G’day mate!
+ Mommy to Neil. Wife to Mehul
How I got started
Two Bags. A brown backpack. Mostly filled with spices.
With no recipe. For life. Or work.
A Masters degree in Advertising and Marketing and a bachelors in Computer science. Journalism background in the biggest national selling newspaper. A tonne of hope. Extra dash of excitement.
That’s what I came to Australia with. From India. I saw coral lush beach, kangaroo and a koala. All for the first time in life when I arrived. It has been endless love affair since then. A never ending adventure.
Business feels a lot like that adventure too.
My love to know what makes people tick started in my first job as an intern in Rediffusion Y&R. As I watched new ad campaigns roll out, I got more and more fascinated with how human brain worked.
After moving to Australia, I started as an Advertising Executive. I quickly moved up the ranks, changed sectors, and found myself in a glass cabin with a spectacular view of high rise buildings and cafes underneath.
One day sitting in my chair I rolled around and looked in to the horizon, I felt an unexplainable tinge of sadness. It wasn’t the first time I had felt that. But it was strong this time. I stared at the door which said in white embossment – Head of Marketing. This was a chair so many people would love to sit in. “So what’s wrong with me?” I found myself asking.
Even though I loved the work, all along the way, I felt like there was something missing. No, I wasn’t craving to change the whole world. But infact change my own universe. I wanted to have more meaning, more joy, more fulfillment to my day.
I couldn’t live pretending my days were awesome. I couldn’t live pretending I loved wearing black skirts with pointy heels, and going to Friday night drinks to schmooze and impress the bosses in order to move up the ladder.
I realised I was climbing the wrong ladder.
I had to make a choice. So I did. I left my corporate career.
Now I help women starting the business or who want to start their business, who might be struggling with making this Marketing thing work online, and earn a good living while they help other people to live a thriving life.
And more importantly, want to come home to themselves.
I don’t have an earth shattering big mission. Infact I have a small selfish mission that drives me.
I want to pick up my little son from the school everyday and bring him home and be with him for a couple of hours.
I want to do good work, that helps other kind-hearted people to do what they enjoy doing, travel with my family and feel fulfilled in my work everyday.
I want to work on my own terms and in the outfit with bright mustard colour instead of only greys and black suit.
I want to do the work that makes me feel it matters in someone’s life and enriches my soul.
In doing so, I may be able to show others how they can live a life on their own terms. Because I believe, to change the whole world – we first need to start with our micro-universe.
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They think you are crazy. Crazy enough to start this journey on the dusty tracks of freedom. To throw yourself into creating something from nothing. Some call it business. You call it Freedom. They say “This is a ridiculous plan. It will be exhausting.” You say “Some of us find normal …quite exhausting.”
You started the trek the dead centre of a seed of a crazy idea and now you know it will lead to the glorious ending of freedom and fulfilment. The winding road will be full of awkward, stumbling, messy points along the way. And very few people will be able to appreciate the beauty of trekking through this utterly barren land. That’s ok. As long as some people do.
I am one of those crazy adventurers too. Because I see your fire, and the daredevil inside you. I see that person who refuses to shrink and valiantly pursues the calling of her heart.
So join me, and others who scream that failure is normal, pursuit of purpose is liberating and dusty tracks are exciting.
I think we’d have a great time sharing our journeys, exchanging maps, sipping some tea around the fierce campfire along The Dusty Tracks.
“The Dusty Tracks”
Sign up to receive my bi-monthly digital column in your inbox. For the disobedient and quietly fierce trailblazers.