Windy Cities

Wow, what a crazy week it’s been. Feels like nonstop from Wednesday till now. On Wednesday evening, I went to Toronto (road trip with my neighbour) for a Salesforce conference. The conference took place at the Beanfield Centre all day Thurday. It was pretty good – I networked, learned about how the software is used in universities, went to a session on Salesforce in healthcare, and learned a bit about their Artificial Intelligence module called Einstein. But I must say that the highlight of the day was winning Cody the Bear, a plush stuffed animal that I had to wait in line for 45 minutes for (!!), and also successfully complete a training module.

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Thursday night I went to Scaddabush restaurant with my brother, and we were both very impressed by the quality of food. I had an amazingly yummy peach & mango belini that looked like a birthday cake.

Friday morning I went to my old-time favourite coffee shop, Balzac’s at Yonge & Bloor, and then spent some time reading at the Reference Library. It felt so good to be back in that place of peace and wisdom, leafing through new finds, and reading a chapter from one of my favourite books, “The Great Work of Your Life” by Stephen Cope. (a must-read if you haven’t read it already).

That afternoon I met up with my friend Cybele and we went to the OCAD design fair (showcasing student projects and artwork) and hung out in park… it was the perfect day to bask in the sun, lounge in the playground, and stroll through the park.  Around 5 PM we went to grab some nachos at Margarita’s on Baldwin, and that’s when the fun began. The wind picked up pace, objects started flying about, trees started to sway violently, and people started to get frantic. We walked towards Queen’s Park, feeling as though we were going to be blown away! We came across one tree that had fallen down onto the street, blocking traffic, and taking a hydro line with it. Luckily someone was already calling the police as we passed by, so we continued on.

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Fallen tree & hydro line, Henry St.

We met up with Jasmine at Innis Town Hall, and watched the Finnish documentary “Entrepreneur”, about two very different businesses that are trying to scale up and become successful. One sells meat from a truck, and the other sells a popular meat replacement product which they call “pulled oats”.  We were not impressed at all (it was so slow moving and not at all engaging). After the movie, Cybele headed home, and Jasmine and I went back to her place for a fun evening getting sushi (late celebration of her bday!), watching movies, and catching up.

Saturday I went for a walk by the harbourfront and then caught my train home from Union. I met an amazing woman from Lebanon and we chatted for a lot of the trip. My parents and neighbour picked me up, and a few hours later we went to the International Fair at a local church, where we were dazzled by amazing entertainment, representing many different cultures, and sampled delicious food from across the globe.

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My favourite ladies, heading off to the International Fair

Today was Easwaramma Day at the Sai Centre, celebrating the birthday of Sathya Sai Baba’s mother. We got home in the afternoon and were totally spent!!

Hope you all had a wonderful week/weekend too!

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:

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What If God Was One Of Us

I’m at the Jimmy’s Coffee across the street from Raju’s, and I just adore this place! Three floors, mostly full of hipsters… definitely not 9-5ers. I’m sitting here with my latte and book (If Nuns Ruled the World), at the long wooden table on the second floor. I love these tables because it makes me feel like I’m part of a group. Ok, it’s not like we talk to one another (the girl across from me has her headphones in and is texting away) but it just feels nice and connected somehow. I love the natural light in this place, it fills the floors and lifts my spirit.

Alright let’s see if I can remember the walk from October 6 (week 40!). I left my place at York & Queens Quay around 11:30 AM, walked up Bay and through Nathan Philips Square, and got to the Duke of Somerset at around noon. I met with Steve, my old manager at CCO to discuss a potential role as a Senior Analyst. It was so good to see him and I have to be honest, it brought up so many old memories. Good ones and painful ones. He is as passionate and clever as ever, and when I looked over the role and said that I didn’t think I was qualified, he said “Of course you are. You are smart and capable.” We chatted about work and how important it is to pick the right people to join your team (he has a great knack for that). I had a veggie burger and I think he had a burger too… we were a little pressed for time because he had to run for a 1:15 PM meeting, but he pushed it back a little further so that we had more time to talk.

Then I went over to 525 to see Jasmine and get my eyebrows done by her lovely colleague. She took me into the boardroom that she’d booked and cleaned them up for me, gave them a little more shape, and it all cost only $3. Wow! I normally pay more than $25 at La Main Dor Salon, but Shahla is a goddess and she’s been doing my eyebrows for years. She plays the most beautiful Indian classical music or Spanish guitar or haunting Persian songs. Sometimes we talk, but sometimes I just lie there and take it in. I fall into deep relaxation on that table.

Oh I forgot the main event of that day – I got a job offer from CAMH!! So the whole morning I was reeling and informing everyone. At the time it wasn’t final, still dependent on reference checks, but in my heart I knew that it was and I think I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I’ve been applying there since 2012 when I left CCO and I just didn’t know if/when it would happen. When I set my New Years resolutions for the year in January, for #10 I had originally written “Get a job at CAMH” and then I changed it to something more general. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess! Anyway, I’m still feeling overwhelmed and I can’t believe that I start on Monday! Holy moly. What a crazy way I’ve been living… not even “on the edge”, but “at the edge” as my Dad says.

I continued to walk to University College, where I meandered through the Harry-Potter like buildings (my favourite is King’s college) and I went up to the second floor where they were setting up for that weekend’s book fair. The year before I went with Gosia at Victoria College and it was a magical experience where we picked up lots of one-of-a-kind books. The lady there told me that it wasn’t actually open yet so I had to leave. I found an almost abandoned classroom with two girls working away, and I sat down and worked for a bit. It was an interesting afternoon since my phone had died earlier on (that’s why I don’t have many pictures in this post).

Ok I have to stop for a second because Colin just messaged me and said that CAMH called and he provided the very last reference check. I love that guy.. he has really been looking out for me lately. I told him I owed him a drink (and he gladly accepted). Hmmm.. the most amazing song is playing right now at Jimmy’s, and it’s giving me goosebumps:

What if God was one of us?
Just like a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

I feel like my writing has been like an episode of Family Guy lately… it seems to be following a story, and then goes off on a tangent. Well that’s how my mind works lately. In fragments. In memories. In bursts of laughter. In confusion. In poetry. In emotions so deep that sometimes I beg that I won’t feel them. In drama. And hopefully if all goes right, in peace. In groundedness. In love. In compassion. In expansiveness. In freedom.

I carried on and came across this poster for Mindful Moments at U of T – every Monday and Thursday they offer meditation classes. Hopefully I can go for free with my U of T card!

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U of T Campus, Kings College Circle

Then I went to the Eaton Centre, standing in the line at Shoppers listening to two young girls (teenagers I think) chat about Angelina Jolie and how she has no soul and isn’t as nice as Jennifer Aniston. I joined in the convo and defended her, saying that she has seen a lot of suffering in her life through her humanitarian work, and I’m sure she carries that with her. My two cents haha! I went to Canadian Tire and bought more boxes, and dragged them home on the subway, knowing I had a full night of packing ahead of me.

In If Nuns Ruled The World, I read about Sister Madonna, who made a wager with God: If she couldn’t complete this 2012 Canadian Ironman triathlon, she wouldn’t try it again. But she did it. And at age 82, she has run more than 366 triathlons!

Running not only helped me solve my problems, it reduced my anxiety and cleared my soul, taking away any brooding darkness that took away my positive attitude.

When I got home, I had a message from Mandeep who sent me a quote that I totally needed to read. (picture above). That Dr. Seuss was a wise man.

Success In The First Round

Week 39! I woke up at Jasmine’s place where I was staying and felt good about the day, although nervous as hell since I had an interview in the afternoon with Critical Care Services Ontario for a Senior Business Analyst position. I listened to CBC radio to keep me occupied, and made myself a simple breakfast which included Mom’s yummy carrot bread (normally she makes zucchini bread but she made it differently this time). I sat down to watch TV but couldn’t figure out how to work the remote controls! (later discovered I was using the wrong ones hehe).

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Breakfast at Jasmine’s

The evening before, Jasmine and I had been watching New Girl (the one where Jess and Cece try and recruit sorority girls to vote for Hilary) and I was trying to just relax and enjoy myself, but I kept thinking that I hadn’t prepared enough for the interview. So when Jasmine went to bed, I stayed up for a couple hours and reviewed my notes and it felt great. I knew I was prepared, although it didn’t seem to help with the nerves.

In the morning I walked along the harbourfront. It was windy, the lake was choppy and felt almost like the ocean. I stood out on the dock and felt so alive with the wind blowing in my hair and listening to the sounds of the waves…

I walked to my apartment and waited for Mandeep to arrive. As soon as she got home, I ran in, grabbed my black Waterloo clipboard, and a few samples of my work. I was glad I remembered that because it turned out to be useful during the interview.

I walked up University I think and stopped at the Starbucks in 525 to grab some water. I got to the interview and waited in the lobby of Lucliff place, reviewing my notes and I think my teeth were chattering I was so nervous. Luckily I got a message from Roshni wishing me luck which helped. Lately I feel like I need support every step of the way! The interview went pretty well – I talked a lot which is a good sign, and was happy to share my experiences and learn about the role and their plans for critical care services in Ontario. I was free to be myself which was nice. I had been feeling pretty self-conscious about being out of work for almost four years (which is crazy because I’ve done so many wonderful things and grown so much), and so I found one question particularly funny. One of the PMs asked me why I wanted to give up my ‘exciting’ life and go back to a mundane everyday job. I told the truth, which was that I was an I.T. geek at heart and I am actually craving doing something analytical, applying my project management skills, and working in a team. I want to do it all, although maybe it’s not possible to do it all at once! :p Too bad I’m not like Krishna and can’t replicate myself. I really wish I could, then maybe I wouldn’t be suffering from so much FOMO.

Afterwards I sent a message to my support group (aka my family chat group) to which I got this great response:

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Family chat group, The Patels

In the evening I met up with Jasmine and while she was at her naturopath appointment, I facetimed my sister. At first the screen was black, but then Chris walked in and turned on the light so I got to see how cute she looked!

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Evening FaceTime chat with my sister

Jasmine and I went to her favourite store, Naked Red. I couldn’t afford anything but happily tried on a few things – I love this pic of us wearing the same tops!! (image above) Then we went to Local for dinner in Liberty Village. I had the fish and chips and she had a big juicy burger. Melinda and her friend Lauren joined us too. Melinda was telling us about her crazy schedule and how she has to commute two hours each way to get to work. At night I read a bit from If Nuns Rules the World. I’m glad that I bookmarked the page. Jo asks Sister Jeannine if she ever regrets not having a husband or kids. She says “Not at all!” I, along with Jo, am impressed that she is so certain about her future and what she wants. God knows I’ve gone back and forth a million times. Sister Jeannine acknowledges this indecision and lack of commitment in most people.

If only we could all be that brave. If only we could all choose not to live up to everyone else’s expectations and do what feels right to us.

I would add one additional thing: if only we all had the courage to speak our truths, however painful (or humiliating) it may be. It’s a bitch having your life out there for others to judge, but sometimes it takes more energy not to tell it. Or sometimes you just do it because you said you would, or because that’s how your fingers move. I remember I would always be amazed when writing my diaries how the pen would just move effortlessly across the page.. it is such a beautiful motion. I haven’t written in awhile… perhaps tonight I will have the energy and time to return to it. Or maybe I should get back to packing! Hope you are all having a wonderful night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Sleep For The Lucky Few

Monday was an incredibly hot day. I think it must’ve been 40 degrees with the humidity. I woke up early and went to the Starbucks at 525 for a couple hours to work. I’ve been doing that lately to get myself back to a morning routine. Hopefully the right job will come along soon. I interviewed at Cota Inspires last week and the interview went pretty well – they will let me know next week if I got it. The job is an Executive Lead to lead a campaign to provide 20,000 homes for Toronto’s homeless by 2018. It is an exciting job that I would be honoured to be a part of.

I sat outside on the benches at SickKids and read the morning Metro. There was a study about sleep deprivation and how there are certain people who genuinely don’t need a lot of sleep – only a few hours will do. Sadhguru is always talking about how little sleep is required for those who are vibrantly alive and get their energy from life energy. There are yogis that can survive just off coconut water because their kundalini is activated. I’m definitely not one of those people – I love my beauty sleep!

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I walked through the MARS Centre and came across this white board filled with suggestions on who people would like to see come speak at MARS. I agree with a lot of them – Obama would be amazing! And Drake, Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk.

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I started reading Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women in Afghanistan. As you can tell, I’m obsessed with Afghanistan. And Islam. And Women. Not to mention I love author and journalist Sally Armstrong. I saw her speak at a GenNext event at Spoke Club one time and she was so inspiring. She was one of the first journalists to report on the crisis that women were facing during the Bosnian genocide. She said that since then the media has come a long way in terms of giving attention to the atrocities women face, especially during times of war. She thinks that Facebook is instrumental in gathering forces and providing a platform so that everyone has a voice. The book profiles extraordinary women, like Dr. Sima Samar, who is a doctor, activist and a natural storyteller.

“Let me tell you a story,” she began. “A sixteen year old came with her parents to my clinic. She was six months pregnant and terrified. She had been raped. The law, according to the extremists, is that a woman who is raped must have four male witnesses to prove that she didn’t cause the rape. Naturally, no such witnesses are ever available. Without them, the family is obliged to kill the girl to protect the family honour.”

I made it to Balzac’s where I did some work, and then went to the ROM to get a refund for some tickets I bought for Friday Night Live and didn’t end up going to. I asked to use the bathroom (which they normally don’t let you do because it’s inside the museum) but they let me so I took advantage of it and saw the exhibits for free. There is something so calming about being in the presence of a Buddha statue.

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Buddha statue at the ROM

Then I met up with Marissa from my Toastmasters club so that she could help me with my interview preparation. She is the director at AIS (Accomodation, Information, and Support) and is very knowledgeable about homelessness and supportive housing. We met at the Toronto Western hospital. She quizzed me on a few things like what my first steps would be in implementing changes described in the consultants report, and why I was good for the role.

On the way home I stopped by the jazz festival and caught the rehearsal of a jazz ensemble that was performing later that evening. So talented!!