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Introducing Raji Lukkoor

I play the roles of daughter, sister, wife, mother, relative, and friend in the movie titled My Life. Beat that, Bollywood! I’m also the writer, producer, and director of My Life. Steven Spielberg, you wanna go?
Hi! I’m Raji Lukkoor, and I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.
Some in the outside world know me as a published author. Some recall my years as an environmental engineer at the City of San Jose. Others choose to remember my culinary skills, my singing talent, my body’s flexibility in yoga, my deftness at using PowerPoint, my organizational skills, my zest for life, my reading hobby, my zeal for entertaining, or my volunteering contribution. The question is, how do I see myself?
Emancipated at birth, I’ve been a life enthusiast since the late sixties. Around the same time that Neil Armstrong prepared to brand the moon, I prepared to march forward and learn the power of play.
Then in the 1970s, as America shifted its orbit from the Vietnam War to Star Wars, I transitioned from a liquid diet to solids, from connecting with blocks to connecting with peers, and from babbling the ABCs to studying the 3Rs.
Many local and world events in the 1980s steered and shaped the impressionable teenager in me. At the time, however, I lacked even the faintest understanding of the significance of these influences. The list is very long; I’ll only mention the top three: The triumph of the Indian Space Program in 1984 that launched Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma into space was the pinnacle of pride for me as an Indian. This success story lodged deep in the recesses of my mind, kindling the sparks of drive, diligence, and dedication. Mary Lou Retton’s scoring of perfect 10s on floor exercises and vault during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles sowed seeds of hope and inspiration in me, firing up my confidence, and encouraging me to perform to my potential and follow my dreams. The 1985 Live Aid concert, held concurrently in the US and the UK to benefit famine-ridden Ethiopia, stoked the embers of compassion, igniting my resolve to always assist those in need.
Needless to say, my hard-working parents, brother, and scores of national leaders, teachers, friends, neighbors, and well-wishers all served as role models. They encouraged my talents, challenged my creativity, guided my thoughts and action, and corrected my mistakes. The values they demonstrated—values such as hard work, thrift, integrity, empathy, respect, gratitude, self-reliance, patience, personal responsibility, individual initiative, and temperance—etched in my mind like a masterpiece on canvas.
The year 1990 steered the winds of my future rather swiftly. I graduated from college with a degree in civil engineering, got married and migrated to the United States—all in a span of a few months. I reveled in American life, taking in all of its power and passion. Two years and a graduate degree later, I started a career with the City of San Jose. Two children followed and I decided to trade my career to become a full-time mom. Mention must be made here of my husband, Anjan, whose love and support contributes to the mosaic that is me.
I didn’t realize it then, but I had slipped into a phase in which I had begun to take all of the social, moral, and cultural components of childhood, test drive and reject some, assess and refine others, then conflate them with the real-life experiences of adulthood to light and launch my emotional and spiritual growth.
Then, two summers ago, I attended a vipassana meditation course. This compelling experience held up a mirror to the reality of my existence, furthering my spiritual evolution and helping resurrect the authentic me. Thus was born my first publication, “Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me.”
Today, as I stitch together the fabric that is me, an aspect of life that jumps out is the willingness to listen compassionately and learn. This quality has helped me suspend judgment, confront fear, embrace shortcomings (yes, I do have several), nurture strengths, update skills, explore new horizons, avoid problems and pitfalls, and make appropriate decisions. Similarly, the power of effective communication has helped me develop and maintain phenomenal relationships on both personal and professional levels, write more poignantly, and live life with a deep sense of awareness and clarity.
So, under the mask of profession and social status, outside of the confines of race, culture and nationality, and beneath all the layers of identity, how do I see myself? I see myself as a human being—faults and all—who’s living her best life.

© copyright 2011-14 by Raji Lukkoor. All rights reserved.