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!





Faces Of Power

It’s 12:26 AM and I got home not too long ago after a fun night. I visited my friend Shez and got to hang out with Leah and Ava. Here is a video from the evening that I’m pretty sure I will watch over and over again for the rest of my life because it is really just amazing.

Ava came home after girl guides and we played a game where we put shapes back into their places with our eyes shut. Then we did arts and crafts and used stickers to bring our pictures to life. My favourite stickers were the owls!

Then I met my friends Gosia, Daniela, and Terrence, and a few others at the Absolute Comedy club. The show was awesome! The headliner Joe Bronzi was so amazing! We were dying of laughter. He made fun of this one couple whose entire dating life had involved instagram and snapchat and other apps. Then after that we went to dance at Alleycatz for a bit. No one was there but we still got our groove on!

Oh forgot to mention my morning at Raj Balkaran’s mythology class. Today we learned about Aphrodite, the goddess of sex and sensuality. She is Love incarnate. I am taking his other class about the Indian goddesses and the faces of power. Here is the breakdown of what we’ll be learning – I’m so excited!!

1. January 24, 2016Sarasvatī, the Power of Eloquence & Artistry
2. January 31Lakṣmī, the Power of Health & Prosperity
3. February 7, 2016Durgā – the Power of Sovereignty & Protection
4. February 14, 2016Kālī, the Power of Destruction & Transformation

Why are there so many Indian goddesses?  Why are they worshipped? What do they represent? How can they assist you in your journey? Given that “goddess” is synonymous with the ancient Sanskrit word for “power” itself (śakti), each goddess-manifestation personifies a specific energy which practitioners might like to invoke for their specific aims. This workshop explores key personifications of divine power, drawing from India’s ancient Goddess traditions. It interweaves various philosophical and mythological strands of India’s spiritual traditions in order to present a thematic survey of Indian goddesses as manifestations of, e.g., Artistry, Health, Prosperity, Protection, Transformation.  You will come to know the rich symbolisms and associations of key goddesses, and the role they might play in your own journey.