Harpreet M Dayal
Harpreet is a poet and author originally from London, UK and now lives in Canada.
Harpreet's poetry is refreshingly positive in nature, exploring the properties of the soft power of love between two souls who are devoted to one another. Harpreet wrote her first children's book, 'Wilbert the Worm' shortly after moving to Canada to live with her husband. The book provided Harpreet with a creative space to pen her anxieties and fears (through the character of Wilbert) of moving to a new home in Canada, away from her family and life in London.
Harpreet is also the author of a poetry book called 'Svadhyaya' (illustrated by Uma J), The name Svadhyaya is the Sanskrit word for "study of the self", and much like 'Wilbert the Worm', this book became the medium through which Harpreet was able to channel the emotions and feelings that come with moving from the familiar into the unknown.
Tell us about Harpreet M Dayal.
Harpreet is a poet and author of two books; one a collection of poetry and the other a short story for children. After having lived my whole life in the UK, I moved to Canada where I now live with my husband and our pet dog, Coco.
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis or have you faced in your line of work?
Resisting the urge to do “too many things at once” is a challenge I’m certain most people can relate to. No matter how good I think I am at multi-tasking, nothing beats focusing solely on one task at a time, giving it my heart and soul. One common challenge for writers is writers block, which often appears when my mind is too cluttered. I would much rather do with a block of cheese, vegan of course. Another challenge is balancing personal life with work and creative endeavours. It can be emotionally draining when working two jobs, managing an Instagram page and finding time for creative outlets such as singing and writing.
If you had to, what would you get tattooed on your forehead aka, what’s your motto?
I don’t have to think of one, my head has a motto on it already. When I was nine years old, I was involved in a car accident resulting in a head injury amongst others. The injury resulted in a scar on my forehead, like Harry Potter. And no, not a lightening bolt and yes, it was imperative that I make that reference. When I was young I used to think it was a curse when in actual fact it turned out to be a blessing. This one accident shaped who I am today, I suffered from extreme self- esteem issues and as a teenager there was a lot of self-loathing. As I grew older and wiser, I began to learn to accept it as a part of me. Eventually the looks and taunts stopped and I began to learn more about myself. It taught me to be resilient and never let anything hold me back, no bullies and not even my own self-doubt. What I am trying to say is that this scar, as trivial as it may seem to others, has been a motto for life, strength and overcoming obstacles most of which are self-imposed.
How do you stay motivated?
This may sound a little cliché but what keeps me motivated is my desire to keep learning and to experience new things. I always think that what ever I am doing, I can do better so I keep trying to hone my skills or find a new way of bettering them.
Whenever I have a new experience, for example, when I had my first radio interview I said to myself “I can check that off my bucket list”. Funnily enough, I actually don’t have a bucket list; I keep adding things to a non-existent one because I don’t want to confine myself to a list!
Over the years, I have wasted a lot of time trying to chase friendships, seek approval from people who in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter. I have really come to understand what it means to have close family and a tight circle of friends and what their true value is. I now go out of my way to seek friendships and connections with people who I feel I can learn from, who encourage me, guide me and support me in reaching my fullest potential. Life is too short to be chasing people and things that don’t serve your higher purpose.
One of my biggest motivators is my husband Deepak. Since the day I met him and in our two years of marriage I have learned so much from him. He is quite wise, when he is not being silly. He encourages me to come out of my shell and try new things. When I want to give up he gives me all the reasons why I should keep going.
What makes you feel good?
I am not for the extravagant things in life. I love the simple things; maybe it has something to do with my upbringing. I always loved the small things like sharing a big bowl of cereal with my two siblings, watching cassette tapes wrapped up in a blanket on those rainy days, drinking cha made by my mother. Simple pleasures fill my heart the most.
I’m a big homebody, even now spending quality time with my husband, getting cozy with a good book, or watching a film in a comfy blanket with a cup of tea are things you would find me doing on a Friday night.
Other than that a good workout, dancing to my favourite tunes makes me feel good. I don’t meditate enough as I should, my husband has a regular routine and he is always encouraging me to. When I do meditate or practice yoga it makes me feel rejuvenated and helps me feel more centered.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
I think there has been more than one struggle in life!
One of the greatest struggles I have faced throughout life would be a lack of self-belief, which stemmed from bullying at school. That definitely spilled over into adulthood.
Another struggle for me was moving to another country and leaving everything that is familiar and being away from my family. That fear was quite paralyzing and I still remember those sleepless nights. That was the moment when I turned to writing and began taking it more seriously. From my fears a children’s book was born called ‘Wilbert The Worm’, which was inspired by children’s books I grew up reading by authors such as Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson.
When I did finally move to Canada from England I started channelling my fear more productively. I began writing more and more poetry and with the encouragement of my husband I began reciting at open mics in Calgary, eventually sharing my words at charity events and mental health workshops. As I say to a lot of people I faked confidence when I moved. I never spoke in public before but the more I did it the more comfortable I became on stage.
Aside from creative writing, I try to journal as much as I can because I feel it makes me self aware of my thought patterns and how to tackle the negative ones. Most of the time it is a matter of accepting what I am feeling rather than trying to change it.
Self-love is important and I can put my hand on heart and say I didn’t know what that was until I met my husband. He really showed me how little I valued myself and how little I took care of my own well being. So now I make the concerted effort to take time out of my busy schedule to meditate, practice yoga and just take a break when needed.
How have your family and friends encouraged you to pursue what you are doing?
Growing up, I was expected to pass exams with flying colours and eventually become a doctor or work in finance, which I did. When I was in England I did take the very traditional path. I started working in banking soon after graduating but it was never for me. I still continued to work there thinking that I was making my parents happy.
But now it’s different, the joy my parents express when they hear me on the radio, when they see photos of me at book signings or the first time my parent’s held my first book, these moments are priceless. For my every day successes, my brother, sister and sister-in-law are back home in England rooting for me, telling the world and me how proud they are.
My husband keeps pushing me to be better and he is always at every event, I don’t think I could have achieved as much as I have if it wasn’t for his constant support and help. He really is my rock.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your creative work or outlook or who/what inspires you?
I think inspiration comes from everywhere. It can come from the people around you, from nature or from our connection to the universe. It comes from the tiniest things, like witnessing the connectedness between two strangers on a crowded bus or from large humanitarian efforts in developing countries. For me, I have a particular affection for individuals who have overcome struggle.
I cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning some of the people in literature and the arts who have truly inspired me, for example, Paulo Coelho, Roald Dahl, Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda and others.
You are having a dinner party – which three people would you invite, and why?
Elizabeth Gilbert, because she is someone who inspires the masses and her way of thinking and being creative really resonates with me.
Norah Jones because she seems like such a gentle soul and her music touches my heart, listening to her can be a true source of comfort.
Adele, because she is also from east London and is totally awesome! You can tell how genuine she is and what I love about her is that she is unapologetically herself.
Tell us an interesting fact you would like to share!
Not many people know this but one of my special powers is being a hug reader.