It’s good practice at the end of each day to remind yourself what you are grateful for. At times when everything seems horrible, or it seems as though everyone and everything gets on your nerves, this can be as simple as “the sound of the rain” or “solitude” or “the soft feeling of my bedsheets.” In times of pain, we can still be grateful for these things; actually, these things feel even more intense during times of pain because they are in extreme contrast with the bad feelings. Apparently with life and with feelings, it’s all relative.
Apparently with life and with feelings, it’s all relative.
Be grateful for where you live, for your family and your friends, for the fact that you are alive today. In many parts of the world, people do not have access to secured housing, clean water, healthcare and education. Be grateful that this too shall pass. Be grateful for God and for the universe.
Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations With God, says “The way to move out of Judgment is to move into Gratitude”.
One of the most difficult things is to be grateful for yourself. My counsellor asked me to describe what I appreciate most about myself, and I found myself a little tongue-tied. I didn’t want to sound conceited, which is crazy because obviously there are things you appreciate about yourself!
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!
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.
It’s 11:30 PM. I think I’m getting a little better at this Monday routine, but still don’t know how I’m going to do it all – I still have my meditation to do after this! I guess Mondays are just going to be late nights. I’m realizing that this walk that I was fighting so much is really my favourite thing to do. Why resist the inevitable? Sometimes the things that matter to us most are the hardest to do.
My walk along University today was perfect. It felt like spring, and I loved the sunshine on my face, my jacket unzipped, and seeing the beautiful trees along the way. Ever since I learned about the presence of fractals in nature, I’ve been seeing them everywhere. And now the branches that loom out into the sky appear stark and beautiful – I see the patterns in the branches, that seem to never end, so complex yet so simple and knowing exactly what to do and how to continue. I walked through King’s College circle, and the Harry-Potter like buildings brought me into the land of magic and awe, and as usual I savoured every moment of it. I arrived to my creative writing class a little late, just as people were working on the opening writing exercise: “On my walk this morning I saw…”. Our class today was focused on reviewing one another’s writing pieces (200 words maximum). A piece that touches upon the five senses and pulls you into the experience. I was nervous about mine, as I always am, because the writing was not very sophisticated, but from the heart. I wrote about a friend of mine, Tsege, because I want to remember her. She is a lady I used to tutor who is resilient and wonderful and directly in touch with God. She inspired me so much and I felt that she loved me a lot. She suffered from schizophrenia, and unfortunately over the holidays this past December, she ended her own life. I don’t think I’ve processed it fully yet; it is a shock and it scares me a lot. My piece was about her:
I arrived five minutes late, and the door opened automatically. She had used the button from inside, the one she had specially installed to help her with the heavy door. I walked in and there she was, in her wheelchair, with a smiling open face, greeting me with blessings, and happy as always to see me. “Do you want tea?” she asked, as the door slammed shut behind me. “Sure, why not?”, I replied, and already the scent of fresh mint leaves and black tea jolted my senses. She wheeled over to the kitchen. I knew better than to ask if she needed help. I slumped down into the chair at the table, and took out my pencils and notebook for our session. She came back to the room and said “I put the kettle on – it will be just a few minutes.” I commented on her bright blue shirt: “That colour is wonderful on you!” and she acknowledged the compliment with a beaming smile. “Thank you”. Then we began the lesson. She pulled out her red binder and said “I really need help with math!” and I replied “Ok then, let’s start with math”. And it felt the same as every session, yet somehow wonderfully different.
It was wonderful to listen to everyone’s pieces, and offer my comments and suggestions. This skill is an important one, and I’m happy that I’m developing it in this class. I’m also working on it in toastmasters. Wow, writing that last line just hit me hard. I can barely even write now. Something about toastmasters really grounds me and touches upon something in my core. Either it makes me very nervous or I must really love it! (or both) I am definitely grateful for it.
After my creative writing class I went to Balzac’s where I read from Falling Up. I just love this woman; she is such a fighter. She reminds me of myself a lot. She pushes through with zest and personality, and refuses to settle. And she has faith that it’s all going to work out just fine. There is a part where she tries to ascend a hill by herself in her wheelchair – she doesn’t think she can make it but eventually she does!
I was devastated. I looked at the hill – it was about 30 yards of slight incline, but it looked like Mount Everest. I’d never done a hill like that alone before. Today, apparently, was the day to try. It took me a good 30 minutes to push up the hill by myself. Inch by inch by inch by inch….
After Balzac’s I went to see Yann Martel (author of Life of Pi) speak at the reference library with my friend Gosia. I loved when he talked about a quality that was shared by Jesus, the Buddha, and other enlightened beings. They all have the ability to be fully present. When Jesus spoke to his disciples, he was fully there. Every cell of his being. With an open heart. That ability to be fully present is something we all aspire to.
I wonder if I’ve been avoiding the actual purpose of this walk because it is so difficult for me. Ever since I watched Nirbhaya, I’ve been pretty traumatized. The image of the woman with burns on her face, who was set on fire by her husband because her family did not pay enough dowry, haunts me still. Haunts is not the right word; it has tormented me. I want to bring attention to what is going on all over the world, so that we can join forces and unite in a common goal and plan. I need to be more in touch with the goals set by the United Nations and other organizations, so that I can align my thinking towards that common goal. So much to do, and so little time. And an underlying sadness that I can’t seem to shake.
Christmas is here. A wonderful day to celebrate with your family and friends and all those you love. I’m fortunate to spend this time with my family every year. It also really makes me miss those I care about that are not with me. It makes me think of everyone around the world, including those who are suffering, and wish that everyone could experience the love and joy of the season. When I was young I wrote a little essay on the meaning of Christmas, and as I read it now, the words still resonate (see image below). And when I hear the song ‘Someday at Christmas’, I dream of a Christmas where there is peace on earth, and love prevails. My family has a yearly tradition that renews my faith in humanity and love. We go to the Glebe Centre in Ottawa and sing Christmas carols to the seniors. First we go to the different floors and knock on their doors and ask who would like to join, then we wheel them down to the third floor, and we all gather and begin singing. A lovely woman Zorana plays the keyboard and her voice carries us through. We sing all the favourites, Silent Night, Away in a Manger (which always makes me cry), Deck the Halls, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and we finish off with We Wish You A Merry Christmas. It is difficult to see people who seem to have lost their Christmas spirit along the way, and amazing to see tears streaming down faces as their childhood songs are brought to light and emotions surface that they didn’t even know were there. I would try to look out at them while I sang, but then it would make me cry too, so I kept my eyes on the paper and my voice strong. Here are some pictures from the morning: