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!







Shakespeare In Love

Walk In Her Shoes Week 19. I think I’ve reached the tipping point where I’m feeling pretty confident that I’m actually going to complete all 52 weeks!

Yesterday was really great. It’s funny how it seems great in retrospect, however when I awoke I was really distraught. All this uncertainty has been making me crazy, and although I know that everything works out, somehow my mind has developed this negative-thinking pattern. When it’s really bad, I start to believe it rather than just seeing it as a pattern. Luckily Tashana called and told me to stop by her place before I headed out for my walk. I went over and her dog was clamouring all over me and barking like crazy. She looked fresh and happy, and I got to see her little place that she had moved into after the divorce, that she shares with her two kids. We put up a painting and talked about her dating life (which is quite exciting!).

I set off along University, and the weather was so beautiful, warm and barely a cloud in the sky. I found myself stripping off layers of clothing as I walked – well just my scarf and jacket, and then rolling up my sleeves. I stopped at Osgoode Hall and lay down underneath a tree, propping my head up with my bag that I padded with my scarf, and spreading out my jacket on the grass. I basked in the sun and I read for about an hour. I’m reading the Self-Illusion by Bruce Hood, and it is making me aware of a lot of things about myself, and about all of us. How we are conditioned to often act irrationally and blindly because of other people and the need to fit in. However when I read these books I always feel like something is missing. It’s based on something Sadhguru said, that most psychologists study average people with strong karmic patterns, and rarely do they study enlightened beings or those that have transcended their karma and reached the heights of human potential. It’s really encouraging to know that those possibilities exist, and I’m confident I will continue to reach new heights if I stick with Sadhguru and continue my kriya meditation. Haha, I just noticed how I veered off onto the subject of ‘spirituality’ and it reminded me of a comment that my friend Tally said: “your blog is a little too spiritual for me”. Lol!

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My view from under a tree at Osgoode Hall

I continued to walk up University and at around SickKids Hospital I ran into my old friend Nadia Rashid, who I used to work with at Cancer Care Ontario. She looked wonderful and was just heading back to work after a meeting. She now works at Ontario MD, which is an organization that supports physicians in implementing electronic medical records. We had worked together on a project at Cancer Care, to collect data from hospitals regarding wait times in emergency. I had recently been thinking of her because I went to the Hot Docs festival on the weekend and saw a movie called “What Tomorrow Brings” about girls’ education in Afghanistan. A few years ago, Nadia and I had watched a movie called “Beyond Belief” by the same director about two women who lost their husbands in 9/11, and instead of holding grudges, they reached out to women in Afghanistan who had also lost their husbands in war. Both movies are extremely powerful and I highly recommend them.

I made my way to Balzac’s and spent some time researching CAMH, since I’m hoping to get a job there soon. I read about their mission, vision, and values, and it made me cry, because of all that I’ve gone through and the thought that there are people who understand and are trying to ease people’s suffering and reduce stigma. Lately I’ve been realizing that the worst stigma is the stigma that comes from yourself. I’ve done so much to deny my own experience, and it makes me so angry that I do (both suffer and deny), as if it is a sign of weakness, but it’s not, and I know that there are lots of people who experience the same types of thoughts and emotions, and that I’m not alone.

In the evening I went to a talk at the Reference Library about the Stratford production of Shakespeare in Love! It was such a great conversation, conducted by a well-known theatre critic Richard Ouzounian. The two lead actors, Shannon Taylor and Luke Humphrey, were riveting and spoke about their love scenes and the amount of trust they have with each other in order to feel comfortable and do the scenes right. I had a crush on Luke – he was so charming and I got lost in his answers. He spoke about how there is a bit of nudity in the play, and after awhile you just get used to being in your underwear or showing your behind, and that he was kind of like a stripper that speaks eloquently. It’s funny because he actually looks a little bit like Channing Tatum, so that totally fit. Shannon talked about her character and how it was difficult to relate to her, because she was naïve and a virgin, which would not be likely in a contemporary setting. Overall it was such a treat listening to them. Theatre is so exciting and I love actors because they are so intensely present!

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Luke Humphrey, Shannon Taylor of Shakespeare in Love, interviewed by former Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian

I stopped by Chapters after the session, and there was a book signing by author Chris Guillebeau. He quit his job a few years back and travelled the world, volunteered in Africa, started his own business, and has been working independently ever since. I picked up one of his books and there was a line that caught my eye.

There’s no rehab program for being addicted to freedom. Once you’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, good luck trying to follow someone else’s rules ever again.

It’s so true! I’ve been off work for over three years, doing whatever I please, and I’m a little frightened that I’m going to lose that freedom once I start working. Although Roshni said something to me that I think is true and I keep reminding myself of. She said that maybe work will actually enhance my creativity rather than hinder it. Because really work is also creative. Everything is creative. It’s all about the energy that you bring to the task. And doing what you love is important, and surrounding yourself with good people, and having a mentor that can help you develop your skills and guide you. I’m really excited to get back into the workforce! More excited than scared now.

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity

I also talked to Neil Pasricha while I was there, the author of The Book of Awesome. I’d met him a few years ago at a book-signing at my favourite Chapters (on Richmond & John) which no longer exists. I was telling him how I had thought that by following my interests, money would magically come my way, but that hasn’t seemed to be the case.

On the way home, I stopped to smell the tulips everywhere!! The city is filled with them!

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Tulips on University Ave