“Women of substance” who triumphed all those impossibilities, that came in her way of making a mark!
Cheelu is a graduate in Psychology, Journalism and Literature and holds a postgraduate diploma in Psychotherapy & Counselling. She is also a certified trainer of the ‘Silver Ultra Mind method ESP’ of mind control.
A multifaceted personality she is a Professor of pulse diagnosis (Nadi); a Life coach & trainer for grooming, stress management, motivation and interpersonal relationships; a melodious singer; choreographer; great cook; eloquent orator and a prolific writer. She was recently felicitated as a mentor at the 50 young conference.
Brief introduction and tell us how do you manage your life wearing so many caps with utter perfection?
Let me begin with the word perfection. Perfection is embracing our flawlessness and accepting our imperfections. With regard to my many caps, I take it day by day, moment by moment. I have a daily general to do list and I work with that. More importantly I forgive myself if I couldn’t manage to fulfil all my given tasks. I simply go back and prioritise. Whatever I am doing at a given moment, I immerse myself fully into it. Things actually get done faster, more efficiently and thoroughly this way. MOST importantly I love what I do and I do what I love. If there are some things that I don’t like doing, I just say thanks and go about it, normally before I settle down to doing the things I enjoy. And I have learnt to enjoy almost everything. I am grateful for having the physical and mental capabilities to be able to do so much. It’s the way you look at something; at anything.
What ignited the spark in you to have a own start-up? Please talk about DeBox?
For years now, after I quit my corporate profile as a journalist etc., I have been working for myself albeit in a rather loosely structured format. During my years spanning more than twenty years life threw me all kinds of challenges- from physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse to having had paralysis of almost my entire body. I had no money, two children to feed, hardly any family support because by this time my mother had died, my father was angry and was convinced that I would become a prostitute to make ends meet and said to me that my children would become drug addicts and juvenile delinquents and that my life would just be one big struggle. He said that I was mentally deranged. Most of my friends disappeared. I fell into deep depression, became an alcoholic, suicidal even until one day, to cut a long story short, I decided to turn things around and start living.
During this phase I started on a journey of intense soul searching and looking for some meaning to my life and my mission. I knew that if I was alive, my mission in this life is incomplete. As a part of this journey I came up with my own set of life skills based on whatever I had learnt. Life began to turn around beautifully when in 2013; I had a paralytic attack that paralysed my entire right side. I lost most of my memory and started life from scratch, learning how to sit, walk etc. At this time all I knew was one corner of my bed. That was as far as I could comprehend. As my brain fog began to clear, I began asking questions again but my question was not why me but what message this episode had for me and how I could use it for a greater good. The first flash, so to speak came in the form of a book which I have written and is pending publication. But I wasn’t satisfied because I wanted a wider reach and that was when DeBox came about.
I have had so many life experiences, questions, answers, learnings and I wanted to have wider reach and the next flash came in the form of starting my own organisation. At a brainstorming lunch session with my friend, we came up with the name DeBox. It basically stands for Think, Live and Destroy the box of conditioning, lack, limitation, fear, judgment that keep us stagnated and thus was born DeBox. In other words DeBox was born in one corner of one corner of bed when my whole world ended at the foot board of that bed. Today in less than two years, the story line and the horizon has changed and is constantly evolving.
Something about your journey and future goals.
My journey so far has taught me many things, patience, persistence, trust, belief that it will happen and unconditional dedication. It has been an absolutely thrilling experience as I learn new things every day. I have never been an entrepreneur before so this road sometimes feels like an uphill climb but it makes me fitter to continue on it.
I have a big and clear vision for DeBox. Immediate goals are to have workshops under the umbrella of Wellness and Abundance. This will comprise various topics like Love vs fear, embracing your Inner Child, The Abundance Mind-set and sub topics from here. I will have a platform for me and others to share their inspiring life challenges. My long term goals include setting up wellness spas and cafes serving DeBox Foods. I already make nut and seed butters and my own recipes. My aim ultimately is make everything in house. The idea is to build mind-body-spirit (emotional) harmony. As human beings we cannot claim to be truly well and happy without being harmonious in all three areas of our lives.
There will be a DeBox Academy where there will be train the trainer programmes.
There will also be short films called ‘take a step back’ series touching on topics like mental health, unconventional relationships etc.
What all challenges did you face and what were your strategies to overcome them?
My challenges so far have been mainly physical. Recovering from paralysis can be quite a task at times and every day is not like the next. My motor skills are still work in progress and at times my mind becomes foggy, I cannot function at all. Other than this I don’t look at anything else as a challenge but just a life lesson. I have found that people in general behave in extremes with me ranging from being very inspired and loving me for who I am to complete non-acceptance. I found this hard to digest but now I am learning to let go.
I overcome my physical challenges by taking it one day at a time. From extreme self-loathing, I have come to love and accept myself as I am. That helps in my forgiving myself, if one day I am dysfunctional. I let go, I surrender while keeping my goals and dreams firmly within my line of vision.
With regard to people and other circumstances I overcome those challenges by saying to myself that my dream is far bigger than anything and any one and that the universe is on my side.
What are your views on the thought, that as compared to male counterparts, it’s harder and more struggling for females to make a mark professionally?
According to me, if you have a clear vision, a set dream and the desire to succeed, you can do wherever you want to do, irrespective of gender. Having said that, I agree that at least in India, there is still quite a wide gender divide but fortunately and slowly but steadily that gap is closing. And the moment women see and realise their immense inner strength and potential and not see themselves as a struggling or weaker gender, the sky is the limit. The fact that women go through child birth itself is a testimony to that Shakti. The feminine energy is divine and that much stronger because it is implosive in nature.
What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
First of all there is no such thing as an age to start anything. My life began from scratch almost when I was 50. However, if you are young there is an edge in terms of energy levels and having that many more years to go towards your goal.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a beautiful and viable dream but sometimes it can be fraught with nightmares. At other times you will feel as though you are hitting your head against a brick wall. My suggestion to you is to keep hitting that brick and one day it will break and the light will come rushing through. Be passionate and relentless about what you and keep your eyes on the prize so to speak. The prize of achieving all that you want to.
There are no adversities in life, only challenges, no mistakes, only learning curves and no disadvantages, only lessons. Life is but a mirror and whatever you face is a reflection of what you are feeling within you and about you.
Remember there is enough going around for everyone and all you need to do is stick by your beliefs and never do or say anything to the detriment of another.
According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1. A clear and precise idea of what you want. Put it down in words.
2. Taking one step at a time towards your goal.
3. Trust, passion, relentless pursuit.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life, how supportive has the family been?
My current family are my two children, my brother and my partner. Each of us has our individual dreams that we are working towards. Because of that, we are well aware of what goes into making dreams come true. My family life hasn’t been affected at all and we are there as a solid support for one another. We encourage one another to do whatever it takes, we hold one another when the going doesn’t feel so good and nothing ever feels like a sacrifice. If you love what you do and are passionate about there will be a balance and people around you will not only feel inspired by you but will soon learn to accept you.
What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India?
Maybe because of pre-conditioning of things like a woman’s place is in the kitchen and other theories that have been handed down to us, I think every initiative to promote women entrepreneurs and empower women is good. The issue as I see it is that it tends to become a bit aggressive, rather skewed and a little too one sided, read feminist in a manner of speaking, which in my opinion is not required. Struggles of making it, achieving your goals and dreams are not really gender specific. The focus should be more making a woman realise her inner potential, as I said earlier and create a cooperative environment rather than a male bashing or unnecessarily competitive one. We are all human beings with dreams to succeed; let’s work together from a place of empowerment and encouragement. Women’s energies are highly potent and strong from the sheer multiple roles that she plays. This needs to be tapped carefully and nurtured gently. After all, “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned”