Be a Sponge

Soak up new ideas, new learning, new experiences:

you can’t learn or create without vulnerability and humility. Being open to taking on new things, even though I didn’t have the experience or knowledge, has been taken me on some of the best journeys of my life.

It shouldn’t be surprising that I grew up with engineers, doctors, nurses and teachers. The surprise, I guess, is that I didn’t become any of those, instead, ending up in HR and music! But we had a “workshop” at home, equipped with fret saw, lathe, vices, soldering iron and various other gadgetry, where I would watch my dad and my gramps make things from scratch, chemically propelled submarines from used talcum tins, jigsaw puzzles as birthday gifts, doll houses made from plywood and bicycle spokes with minature furniture… it wasn’t long before I was trying out the gadgets myself, making my own jigsaws and melting lead :-) and all over the house books books books and more books, that I read voraciously. I am so blessed that I had such fantastic influences, who lived to learn and try out new things.

My parents never asked us about homework, or if we were set for our exams! As long as we passed and did reasonably well at school, they were happy. This gave me so much space to participate in every school and college activity there was, from sports to general knowledge quizzes, to drawing competitions, the school orchestra, marching band (yes, playing drums, the snare and the kettle haha), debates, theatre and singing competitions. I doubt my parents knew quite how many things I signed up for! They even stopped examining and counting my certificates after a while. Exams to me were a necessary evil and my gramps would wake me at 4:30 on the day of the exam with a cup of steaming coffee so I could cram last minute. But because I was exposed to so much variety growing up, I carried this versatility and adaptability with me into adulthood. This is what defines me today with my career and my music, and it’s easy (to be honest, even necessary) for me to switch between musical styles, but also leadership styles and business capabilities.

I never learned to read or write music, but when I was 11 my dad bought me my first guitar and a chord book and I taught myself to play, so I could accompany myself while singing. I’ve never had a vocal tutor. I bought a book and read about how the vocal cords and breath works, studied the styles of different singers and practiced a variety of techniques. I joined a choir and signed up for every singing opportunity I had. I love having the freedom to sing lyrics that touch a chord in me, regardless of the style. I’m not a musical snob and find joy in singing everything from folk to rock, pop to jazz, and broadway to soul. Some day, I promise, I’ll learn to rap!!

Being open to new people and challenges has lead me to establish the most wonderful and empowering relationships a person could ever be lucky enough to have. I’ve had both male and female champions and mentors and owe my career, music, and where I am today to them. Women especially have been so empowering! My mom, what can I say! She role models strength, resilience and an iron will. She became a widow at 52, my dad died when he was 53; her life has been a roller-coaster, but through it all she has maintained her calm and faith.

My HR and business experience has allowed me to work with different teams and juggle the ups and downs, while my musical experiences and recent album projects have allowed me to be creative and harmonious at work. I’ve learned that taking on new things doesn’t mean shucking of the old. They’re all cumulative experiences, blended together to give me versatility and resilience and keep me growing.