SPECIAL TO MASALAMOMMAS
Life as a mom is without a doubt a daily challenge, a welcomed chaos – one that most would never change. With elections less than two months away for our US readers, this takes on a completely different meaning for one mom who for a lack of a better word, I can only call, Super Mom!
Shefali Razdan Duggal, a South Asian mom currently residing in the SF Bay area is making waves in the political front. An area typically that did not feature many Women let alone South Asian women; Shefali is breaking through barriers. She is a member of President Barak Obama’s Presidential Partners, a member of the National Finance Committee (NFC) for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, a Co-Chair for Obama Victory Trust (OVC) an a member of the Northern California Finance Committee for President Barack Obama.
We asked Shefali to share briefly how she does it all, what inspired her to choose her career path and still maintain culture, tradition and balance with her children. In this interview, she opens up and also gives us a peek into her life.
What kind of affect does your busy life have on the family? How do you find balance between the two?
I truly believe that we are all leading fairly busy existences and I am certainly not unique within the capacity of learning how to juggle multiple commitments, all varying in complexity and importance. Although, admittedly, after my children were born, I personally came to understand with absolute clarity how I must prioritize my responsibilities, and for me it was all centered around my two children and their needs. When I look at life through this lens, it very quickly aligns my timetable to the commitments based around what functions most comfortably for the entire family.
And, often, when I can, I do bring my children to events, so that they can be exposed to the political system, the actual mechanics of a campaign, and they can see what is possible for them to strive towards, should they be interested in pursuing a path within politics and/or government. I would like to additionally mention that I absolutely understand that there are very diverse perspectives on this topic and I completely understand and respect them all, although this is the one which sits more comfortably within my life.
What would you like for your legacy to be as a South Asian woman in the political world in the US?
I am striving each and every moment, to the best of my ability, to be genuine and transparent, with my actions/behavior/words/thoughts all driven from an attempted kind, thoughtful and compassionate place within my heart. I deeply and profoundly believe that it is imperative to complete each undertaking which we are assigned (whether by self or others) with unqualified motivation, optimism and determination, and it should be accomplished within a methodology which encourages to ourselves that we can and should be authentically true to our core beings.
We are all so very diverse in our thoughts, our beliefs, our experiences – – although if one approaches life in all capacities (family, work, personal life, etc.) in a fashion which is confidently and consciously reflective of who we truly are, then things will be accomplished in a more productive and positive manner, both from the source and for the recipients.
What’s a typical family night like for you?
It is absolutely blissful and relaxing! I try to be very cognizant that these moments are fleeting, as children grow so very quickly. Often, we share dinner at home, having a lively conversation about the day’s events, and then cuddle and watch a movie. The last flick which we just viewed was “Legally Blonde” – – we all loved it! I particularly enjoy that movie because the central character portrays a good-intentioned young woman who shares her heart and soul on her sleeve…and, the end result is that folks came to lovingly appreciate her authentic, imperfect being. This movie is a particularly charming teaching moment for the children to experience, as it emphasizes to have faith in the goodness of people, pursue your dreams, work diligently, pay attention to details and most importantly, be yourself.
What was the defining moment that led you to your career path?
I have always been sincerely interested in the political system and dynamic, ever since I was a very young child. I began by dutifully watching the “CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite every evening from the age of 6. Particularly, I was quite inspired at age 9, watching the Carter v. Reagan Presidential election of 1980. I was absolutely fascinated by how these two diametrically opposite gentlemen were vying to govern the United States and were also asking citizens of our great nation if they could be the visual representation of our country to the rest of the globe. Whilst other little girls were playing with dolls, I was voraciously watching this election. I resolutely admit that this might have been the beginning of the geek phase which followed me for several years (and, I likely am still gleefully experiencing!).
How did the women in your life (mom, aunts, and cousins) influence your life in leading you to this choice? Are / were they supportive?
The only woman in my life I had around me as a child was my mother. And, that was certainly an amazing blessing, in and of itself! Since we were the only portion of our family (on both sides) which had migrated to the United States at the time, I did not have any family surrounding us within our lives. My mother has always been extremely fascinated by the American political system and how the United States is truly a meritocracy.
She had a very challenging life, and witnessed how her hard work was, ultimately, rewarded because she was kind-hearted, hard-working and consistent in her efforts. My mother continually made it very clear to me that if one works honestly and with earnest effort, the world is a fair and beautiful place. This translated into her enthusiasm for politics, which then transferred by osmosis to myself.
What challenges did you come across in trying to break the mold from the traditional career choices that South Asian parents expect their children to choose?
Thankfully, I didn’t experience challenges…just maternal concern (which, admittedly, might well be the greatest challenge to a child of all!). Only because there weren’t many South Asians visibly accessible or available within politics during my childhood and formative years, my mother accurately had concerns for me to enter this career path and even to pursue my degrees in this major. Although, when she observed my enthusiasm and resolve to enter this field, she felt comforted in knowing that due to her own deeply ingrained spiritual beliefs, along with her faith in the fairness of opportunities within the United States, that it would all work out fine. Honestly, my mother did hope that I would enter either business or medicine, although my firmly rooted interests did not actively exist within those topics.
What advice can you give your daughters that other moms can carry on to their children?
I have one daughter, and she is truly my princess. The advice I give to her, in the capacity that I am still evolving and learning myself and still firmly ingrained in God’s potter’s wheel, is to focus each day on being a good person, being kind to others, showing empathy to all around you. And, that we are all different.
Each individual has a unique personal history and experience, and we each have a divergent skill set to one another, and that is quite okay…in fact, it is the beauty of the fabric of life. I categorically emphasize that it is essential to authentically feel and express gratitude, and that it is our fundamental duty to the heavens above to express gratitude by being kind, thoughtful, and respectful to all around us.
That we should do things from a pure intentioned place in our hearts, and it is most important have a deep and true faith in God and/or a higher essence. I attempt to teach her that it is through positive thoughts and positive energy which can thoughtfully change our destiny into a magnificent experience for both ourselves and those around us. I remind my little girl that we should all be acutely cognizant of the energy which we both emanate and surround ourselves. Life is beautiful and a blessing and it is our responsibility to positively continue and deeply widen the circle of love by consciously practicing, each and every moment of our lives, a positive thought and living process. To listen to your heart…and, your mind will later understand its logic.
We at Masalamommas strive to share the thoughts and stories of moms across the globe that are inspirational, role models, teachers and mentors for not just other parents, but for women, girls and people all over. We would like to thank Shefali for taking the time out of her schedule to chat with us!
For more info on Shefali, please visit her site: www.shefalirazdanduggal.com
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