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Monthly newsletter November 2015
Doing it my way
By I-Winner Dr V. Janaki
’'If we don't make the mostof ourselves,how can we expect to be made much ofby others?'
’'Alone we can do very little, together we can do so much.'
These are some pearls ofwisdom by that indomitable pioneer ofthe disabilitymovement,Helen Keller.’
Our minds are like parachutes, they function only when open. This is a credo that I have tried to imbibe and follow in my life.
Being flexible, realistic, to expect the unexpected, being situation-centric, focusing on the job at hand and having the goals in my
mind - I have tried to follow these and more. I have been successful to some extent; failed in others. But one thing stands out -
doing things my way; weighing the pros and cons of any situation, be it professional or personal, has always stood out in my
Recalling a four decade long journeyis no mean task.It has been a very eventful and fulfilling one with many ups and downs.
2. As a woman, and a woman with a hearing impairment, life has been all about checks and balances, of compromises and choices,
of reacting to situations to the bestof my abilities and more.’
’Segueing my way to academia after 18 years as a homemaker-cum-activist-cum-article writer has taught me many things. A
woman regardless of her achievements, qualifications and experience has to straddle diverse roles and expectations according to
different situations. The access to and availability of choices and options at different points of time is a daily challenge for a
majorityof women,both at personal and professional level and across spatial boundaries.
Having stated thus, it is pertinent to note that there are no foolproof methods to success for a woman as far as career
development is concerned. Neither is there a mantra for instantaneous success nor is there a Midas touch in whatever choices we
make or live by.
’My experiences at the work place have been diverse. Fresh out of post graduation, I tried to balance the demands of a doctoral
degree and learning to research as part of a research team on 'early childhood development and environment'- being part of an
international conference on child welfare as a rapporteur; recording the experiences of ordinary men and women with regard to
upbringing of children; teaching post graduate students in social work was a highlight of a different kind, similarly working as an
expectant mother in an NGO working for the reproductive rights of women in villages adjoining Chennai as the publication's co -
ordinators posed their own challenges; as a mother of a nine year old balancing the demands of home and my jo b at a national
cross disabilities organization in Chennai and now as a teaching professional in sociology for Under Graduate students - the wheel
has come a full circle - from a novice researcher,teacher at 26 to a mature one at 45.
’The highs and lows in my professional journey
’These are some momentous moments in mycareer.
Joint state second rank holder in Sociology in Plus Two examination in 1987
My first article published in '93
Seeing my photo in competition success review thrice on accountof my highly commendable essays
Being part of the media monitoring committee ofAIDWA- learning activism,giving meaning to mybeliefs and views
Presenting papers ata National Conference on Women's Studies in Jaipur in 1995 and later in 2013
My first job in 1994 amidstbreak ups in differentNGOs and teaching sectors
More published articles and being invited to write an article for the golden jubilee issue ofSocial Welfare, a national
journal of the Central Social Welfare Board,New Delhi.
Confermentofmy PhD in Sociology in 2001, the firstwoman in my family, realizing my parents'dreams for me.
Invited to be the chiefguestto address the inaugural function ofthe Association ofthe Departmentof Special Education,
Avinashalingam University,Coimbatore on August 13, 2014.
Video interview on an online disabilityportal (due to come out soon) in August2015.
’The lows included grappling with my fears and doubts regarding my ability to handle different situations especially when dou bts
were often verbalized by family members; overcoming the sheltering and protective atmosphere of home that looked to shield me;
being scared of the telephone- yes, it made a huge impact on me. I have overcome all that. I have acknowledged and accepted
’Lessons learnt and learning anew:
BE AWARE- of yourself, your strengths and limitations.Say it out loud if need be.
Of omissions and commissions - Eliminate whatyou do not want to be or do not need. The picture or situation will be
clearer and easier to handle if one is aware.
3. Be open minded and flexible.Do not assume people,situations or issues.There are always two sides ofa coin. The
ability to agree to disagree and being open to new thinking will always be handy.
Be a team player, negotiating and navigating wherever possible.
Explore all options and opportunities- always have plan B and plan C, in case things do not work out.
Stay positive and cool.
Network: maximize the use of technologyfor the larger good;share knowledge ofissues and resources;leverage on
Be resourceful;think out of the box where necessary.
Write things down:it helps filter one's thoughts and actions;have a green book for jotting things that come to one's mind
and carry the book with you always.
Walk the talk- do things yourselfbefore you preach to others;advice others only when asked;we are not mind readers.
Update your knowledge on all issues.One can never predict when they will be useful;read more,learn more.Life is the
Learn to be humble and diplomatic in differentsituations.
Mind your language;verbal and nonverbal cues convey much more than we intend. Sometimes silence is more eloquent
than shouting out.
Enjoy and express yourselfin whatever you do- no one pushes us to do things.Reading,listening,volunteering,chatting
with friends - it is upto us to balance the demands and supplyand challenge opportunities-options thatwe come across
Our minds are our biggestfriends and allies.Optimize our strengths;letit not be a barrier to achieve or harness our
Be creative; reinvent yourselfaccording to the demands ofthe situation
Time,endless time,eternal time,thatis a constant.Time managementis crucial to everyday activity at home or work or
in public life
These are some of my observations through a four decade journey. Having a disability was always at the back of my mind. I have
been luckier than most and count my blessings; having the courage of my convictions and convinced of the same, has stood me
in good stead. Though it has not always been accepted or acknowledged in my interactions with my peers and family; turning my
strengths, optimizing them to do what I enjoy and to my commitments as an informed citizen -has been a mind blowing
experience till date.’
’The secret of success is the constancy of purpose; ignorance of the law or anything is no excuse. Life is meant to be lived; li fe is
a sponge ofexperiences- soak in them;you can make or mar your life - it is UP TO YOU.
FLEXI Careers India
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Chennai - 600041,
Phone : 044-42941100 / 1200,
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Editorial Board: Karthik Ekambaram, Kanakadurga Ramani