So True

Week 43!! Yesterday was a beautiful day. For many reasons… because it was Diwali, because I got to have a nice dinner with my brother, because it was Gosia’s birthday, because I facetimed my grandparents, and because I got to explore the city and discover new sights and sounds and meet new people. It was also the day after Halloween, and I’d had a great night at Marah’s annual Halloween bash. I dressed up as Frida Kahlo and Jasmine was Audrey Hepburn, and I have to say we made quite the duo!! I slept in as expected, lazily got ready, and left the house around Noon. Raju was still sleeping so I left him this:

Diwali message for Raju

I was aiming to get to Gosia’s for 1 PM but it had been awhile since I’d just explored and walked around on my own, so I grabbed a latte from Jimmy’s and walked up University towards Yorkville. The plan was to get to Yorkville and buy my iron supplements and also pick up something for Gosia (I had bought her some creams last week but I forgot them at work! And today my hands were dry so I ended up using them LOL :p). Along the way I stopped at Victoria College and took in the beauty of the scenery, standing in awe with another woman who gazed in wonder and proclaimed, “I don’t want to miss this moment!”

Fall colours, Victoria College

I had wanted to send out a heartfelt message on Facebook about Diwali, like I had in previous years, something about the inner light within or how it represents the triumph of good over evil or the return of Ram and Sita after 14 years in exile. But I didn’t do it, and so I’m reflecting on it now. I didn’t know that Diwali also celebrates the return of the Pandavas from vanvas (aka exile) after they were sent to the forest when they lost a bet. (what is up with these forest sentences?!) Oh and how can I forget the most important meaning – the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. The I AM mantra that I do regularly invokes her name. Isn’t she beautiful?! I could stare at her forever.

Lakshmi Devi, Goddess of Wealth, Abundance, and Prosperity

As I walked up Avenue, just past Bloor, I noticed that the doors to the church at the corner were open. I’d walked by there a million times and read the quotes posted outside but never considered going in. At first I debated whether to enter since I had my coffee with me, but then I saw a girl walk in with her Starbucks cup so I went ahead. It was stunning inside. Being inside a church always brings me peace. The last one I went to was with my cousin Hiten in Ipswich, and I had a similar feeling. Funny enough, I came across a picture that looked like a “Rangoli”, which is an art form that is done during Diwali… how interesting that I would find one on Diwali and in a church of all places. Of course it probably wasn’t intended as a rangoli, but nonetheless it brought the spirit of Diwali into that space… and into my heart. Check out the pics!!

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I spoke to a man near the snack table (he recommended the lemon cookie which actually turned out to be a ginger snap), and he said that the sermons happen every Sunday at 11 AM and they also have programs in the evening. I think I might go back… I really liked it there and everyone was so welcoming.

I got to Whole Foods and it brought back lots of memories as usual…. I think I’ve tried pretty much every supplement in the whole store! I met with a woman who made her own natural skin care products and she gave me a bunch of free samples, including a deodorant cream and face mask and this odd grey powder that reminded me of Vibhuti (sacred ash that Sai Baba used to materialize, and also many devotees spread three lines of it across their forehead in homage to Lord Shiva). I picked up some flowers for Gosia and then headed to her place on the Danforth.

As usual, it was a magical experience. She had designed her own puppet show stage and her, Terrence, and her mother put on a hilarious show. It was great to see the kids enjoying themselves, even out in the freezing cold, and interacting with the show and helping out (like when Terrence, aka “the big bad wolf” couldn’t get through the door to see grandmother). Afterwards, we went inside and I had tea and caught up with Daniela and her love life. I filled her in on mine… well it’s always hard to talk about my feelings in that area, because I honestly don’t know how I feel about him… hmmm as I say this I’m drawn to “Sita’s Ramayana”, the book sitting on my desk that I brought to work, the woman who cried a million tears yet she was resolute in her love of life and ability to go on.

After Gosia’s I went to the So True event happening at Black Swan Tavern on the Danforth. The theme was Disguise. The event was started many years ago by Beth Kaplan, my writing teacher for Life Stories I. Next year will be the 10-year anniversary. This event celebrates the craft of writing and between 8-10 individuals share their best stories; they are selected beforehand by Beth. I hope to read a story at one of these events one day!! Each story was a work of art. One woman spoke of her daughter who had died suddenly in Costa Rica, and how she had a beautiful encounter at a hairdresser’s when she faced the reality of the situation and talked about her daughter with the hairdresser (the woman had also been her daughter’s hairdresser). I ran into my friend Kathryn while I was there, and she thanked me for referring her to Ranjini George’s class, Meditation and Writing, that she had taken this past summer. I got goosebumps hearing about it because Ranjini is one of my favourite people, and I just LOVED that course. It was where I wrote the story “The Perfect Wife” and was first introduced to the combination of Buddism and writing. Ranjini has studied with Thich Nhat Hanh (a well known Buddist monk) and she is an incredibly compassionate, wise person that always gives you her full attention and love.

In the evening I had dinner with Raju – we ordered in from Aroma and he played the most amazing Indian classical music playlist. It made me nostalgic, brought me to another time… not a physical time.. but a place in my soul that has been cut off lately. It was beautiful.

K I’m officially the only one left at work, but I’m glad I got this post done… now off to head home and have some leftover Indian food!





The Best Kind of Superheroes

I’m at the lovely Movenpick café at Wellington and Yonge, sipping a caramel macchiato and excited to get this blog post done before I head to Emilia’s for dinner. I saw her the other day at Yarina’s for a girls night, and it was so great seeing her after so long. We walked home that night – Emilia, Vicky, and I – through St. James Cathedral and Park, stopping to take a picture at Sculpture Garden.

Last Monday’s walk was week 42! Holy crap I only have 10 weeks left! I wonder what I’ll do next year for Walk In Her Shoes. I don’t think I’ll be doing this walk once a week anymore, but will definitely do the group walk and continue with the message of “I AM POWERFUL”. Next year CARE Canada is hosting the walk again Canada-wide so it will be great to join forces with other fellow activists. I also want to get back to the original intent of the blog, and write about lots of other topics – more book reviews, reporting on events, and travel especially.

Last Monday was an important day because it was my first day of work at CAMH!! I woke up at 6am feeling excited and a little scared, hopeful and trepidatious. It has been over four years since I’ve worked in the field, so it’s a big thing to be back at it. I sifted through my closet (Raju has given me the hall closet for my stuff) and decided on a violet/blue dress that Sharon gave me. I had peanut butter and toast and tea for breakfast, and even made a sandwich for lunch!!!

First day of work outfit

I walked West on Gerrard, and down University Avenue (Lol I can’t seem to get away from that place). As I walked by the Global News cameras, the camera guy turned and checked me out and the journalist said in an exasperated voice to him: “Keep your eyes on the prize!” (meaning her not to me). It made me laugh out loud.

Global News AM, University Avenue

I walked past Osgoode Hall and then caught the streetcar at Queen and University. I got to work and met with my manager, and then the rest of the day was a whirlwind! I was thrown right into things and attended four or five meetings. I walked a lot throughout the day – so somehow the day ended up being 10,000 steps. :-)  I’m excited to work in the project management office – they are doing great work across the organization and the project that I’ll be working on will advance their clinical information system to the highest level of integration (only one another organization in Ontario has achieved this level).

On the way home I passed by a beautiful café – isn’t this picture hauntingly beautiful? I love the way the sunlight is filtering in.

Café on Queen West

I continued to walk home to Raju’s place – through Kensington Market where I went into this cool bookstore run by a friendly guy with dreadlocks and a toothy grin. I went in and sifted through a few books, looking for one to buy for Yarina – I was thinking I would bring a book instead of a bottle of wine to her dinner. (I ended up lending her Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur that I dug up from my box of books).

I finally finished reading If Nuns Run The World! I will definitely miss this book and being immersed in the experiences of such an amazing group of women. Nicholas Kristof, the author of Half the Sky and a journalist that covers women’s rights issues, had this to say about it:

In an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.
– Nicholas Kristof

Couldn’t agree more.

A Whole New Chapter

I’m sitting in my brother’s apartment, where I’m crashing for the next little while. Excited to start at CAMH tomorrow!! This is the start of a whole new chapter. I updated my profile on LinkedIn so now it’s official LOL.

Last week’s walk happened on Tuesday Oct 11 – Week 41! It was Dussehra, which I remember because Neesha sent me this cute animation in the morning:

Dussehra, The Defeat of Ravan and triumph of good over evil

Dussehra (also known as Vijayadasami, meaning Victory) represents the triumph of good over evil – on that day it is said that Lord Rama defeated the great demon Ravana, at the end of a long, arduous journey to win back his wife Sita (who he later turns away because she is considered impure, but that is another story altogether), and also it represents removing the 10 bad qualities within you which are synonymous with the 10 heads of Ravan. These qualities are:

  1. Ahankara (Ego)
  2. Amanavta (Cruelty)
  3. Anyaaya (Injustice)
  4. Kama vasana (Lust)
  5. Krodha (Anger)
  6. Lobha (Greed)
  7. Mada (Over Pride)
  8. Matsara (Jealousy)
  9. Moha (Attachment)
  10. Swartha (Selfishness)

I think I’m going to need more than one day to remove these qualities!

Before I headed out for the day, I waited for the cable guy to come and hook up the internet. Poor guy had trouble finding a parking spot because of the construction and because the loading zone was occupied. He finally made it up, bumbling through, apologizing and talking away. He hooked up the high speed, and I set up a password (which Raju thought was lame and is planning to change) and I was all set. It was nice to have internet after relying on my Telus plan (which had gone over by $250 the month before!! It’s because I was in Ottawa and still using it as if I was in Toronto :p). It was using it as a personal hotspot that did it. Geeta Foi had told me how you can do that, and so I tried it out and watched shows on Netflixx which cost me like a million dollars.

The cable guy also told me that there was a gift for me hanging from the door!

Welcome to the building gift from Victoria

On Thanksgiving I’d met a girl Victoria on Raju’s floor, and I’d knocked on her door the next day – she wasn’t home but her boyfriend was and looked rather shocked to see me. Anyway, she was so nice and left me this gift bag full of facial products – a cleanser and toner and bronzer. I texted her to say thank you and she mentioned that she doesn’t actually live in the building but had just been visiting that day. Hopefully I get to see her again.

I walked out of Raju’s place, down Gerrard and to the Atrium to do my change of address (as I write this I’m slowly processing that I’ve moved out of my place – yeah I’m a little slow that way).  I did an address forwarding thing for the next 3 months… I still have to inform all the banks and stuff of my actual address (who knows where that will be come January 1). Right now I’m a bit of a nomad. I don’t mind crashing at people’s places though, I’m really grateful for it and also it’s actually pretty fun and exciting (as if I could use any more excitement right now).

I went down to the harbourfront to see my doctor, who I just missed because she only works until 3 PM, then I texted Yarina who told me to come by. First I walked by the lake and stopped to listen to this soulful singer named Woody (I will have the add the video later because it’s not uploading right now). He sang “You say it best when you say nothing at all” – such a beautiful song! After I listened to him, we talked for quite a bit and he told me his story. Over 34 years ago, he visited a psychiatrist to deal with his grief over his father’s death. Yet instead of helping him, they sent him to a mental institution where he spent over 2 years, was locked up, often with no social interaction, given shock treatment against his will, and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was deemed incurable and unemployable. He said that’s it taken him over 30 years to heal, and he is only now getting back on his feet and singing (he does a little bit of pot and drinks a bit to take off the edge).  He said that while he was in prison (the mental ward), he heard the voice of God speak to him ever-so-gently, telling him not to lie or steal, and from that guidance he was able to forgive his perpetrators and felt an enormous energy course through him, freeing him from his pain albeit momentarily. He has worked hard over the years, defying expectations, doing every job from lifting concrete blocks to landscaping to waterproofing roofs. His story is featured in the documentary Low Down Tracks about Toronto’s street musicians. He says that the newspapers won’t feature it because they don’t want the city to look bad, and that it would shine a bad light on the situation of homelessness in Toronto and across Ontario.

I could have spent all day by the lake, but realized I was late so I headed to Yarina’s which was definitely the highlight of my day. I love her so much! I got to play with the baby and talk about Navratri and Dussera with her and Sandro. I’m really grateful to have them in my life – it always feel like home. And I swear that baby could melt the stoniest heart – she is the cutest thing in the world!!

Omigod I almost forgot – I met a lady earlier in the day (she must be called the ‘pigeon lady’) in front of SickKids that attracts all the pigeons and sits peacefully among them. She reminded me of a man that I met at St. James park that feeds the squirrels.

Woman with the pigeons, SickKids Hospital

I really want to write about what I read in If Nuns Ruled the World, but it’s almost 10 PM and I have to get home and get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work!