Winter at Dusk

It was dusk,
And I decided to wander off the beaten path, the one
that was taking me safely back home,
without much adventure.

I came across tiny footprints imprinted in the soft snow,
and followed the clues to a large open field,
guided by trees reaching into the sky, striving to be
none other than themselves.

As this pretty sight beheld me,
I felt my heart glow,
like it does to the characters on Jane the Virgin
(you know when they show that golden light around their hearts).

“I can’t believe it’s March,” I thought to myself,
as the vast Canadian winter
stretched out before me.

A woman called out to her dog “Riley, it’s time to go!”
The dog didn’t listen —
But instead stopped to scamper through the cattails
and eye me suspiciously.

I took a video for my Instagram friends
And a few pics as well.
Which filter shall I use?
Which one will bring the experience most to life,
And which one will get the most likes? (come on we all know we
think it before we post it!).

Of course I had to include a little bit of me in the clip,
placed in the middle of the scene as if in a movie.
The sky was shades of purple and blue and pink,
And I could hear an owl hooting in the background.

It was hard to leave, as it always is —
When surrounded by such beauty, and while standing in the light.
But I turned my back, knowing it still stood there,
And would still be there again tomorrow.

The Magic of the Gayatri Mantra

Today at the Sai Centre, we sang the Gayatri Mantra, which is an ancient Sanskrit hymn that dates back thousands of years. It originates from the Rig Veda, a sacred text in Hinduism, and is dedicated to the Savitr, the Sun god. According to Hindu mythology, this prayer was said to be given to the sage Vishwamitra as a gift for his years of dedication and penance. The lyrics are as follows:

Om Bhur Bhuva Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayaat

There are many translations of the mantra, some that are line by line and word by word, and others that are more interpretative. Some of the ones that resonate with me are:

“We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.”  — Swami Vivekananda

“We meditate on the effulgent glory of the Divine Light; may it inspire our understanding.” — S. Radhakrishna

“Oh Creator of the Universe! We meditate upon thy supreme splendor. May thy radiant power illuminate our intellects, destroy our sins, and guide us in the right direction!” — Unknown

My Mom and I chant the gayatri mantra nine times in a row at 12 noon every weekday. It’s an opportunity for us to stop what we are doing, join forces, and align ourselves with cosmic energy (at least that’s what I think we’re doing!). It definitely reminds me of God and the universe and ancient wisdom, and returning back to my true self. With all the different mantras available, having discipline and establishing a routine are very important.

Speaking of universal energy – the craziest thing just happened. As I am in the middle of writing this post, I received a text message from my friend Gayathri (who I haven’t spoken to in months) saying Happy New Year and that she is happy to see my different profile pics on Whatsapp. Is that not a crazy coincidence?! She is also a Sai devotee, and a vibrionics practitioner (but that is a story for another day). The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes – but then again, maybe that’s just how life goes when you are blessed.

I Am

I am beautiful
I am worthy
I am raw and wild and untamed
I am intelligent and rational, spiritual and intuitive
I am dignified, yet when it comes to love
willing to throw it all out the window.

I am love incarnate.
I am submissive, yet defiant;
sensitive, yet callous –
I long to experience the joys of love and union,
yet value my independence above all.

I am WOMAN.
I have eyes that can see through the depths of your being,
hair that falls graciously beyond my shoulders,
hips that sway to the rhythms of the earth.
I am everything you think I am and more,
yet can be magnificently misunderstood.

I am logical, yet open to forces much greater than me
I am powerful, yet acknowledge that the black hole of doubt
can drain me of my strength.
I am an artist, seeking his muse.

I am everything at once, yet deep down I know that I am nothing.
I am spirit and soul, earth and water.
I am never-ending….

***

“I AM” is the strongest creative statement in the universe. The universe responds to this as would ‘a genie in a bottle’ – it knows no other way to behave. My friend Melinda once asked me to summarize what I thought about this statement and this is what I said:

I always say that “I AM” is the most powerful statement in the universe. It has the power to change your body and mind, which can be rewired simply by repeating this basic mantra. It can be as straightforward as “I am love, I am light”, or as intricate as “I am the being that recognizes the God in you.” The repetition is important, especially in times of doubt and when you don’t believe what you are saying is true.

This is the passage from Conversations with God that first introduced me to its power:

“When  your  thoughts  are  clear  and  steadfast,  begin  to  speak  them  as  truths. Say  them out loud. Use the great command that calls forth creative power: I am. Make Iam statements to others. “I am” is the strongest creative statement in the universe.  Whatever you think, whatever you say, after the words “I am” sets into motion those  experiences, calls them forth, brings them to you. There is no other way the universe knows how to work. There is no other route it  knows to take. The universe responds to “I am” as would a genie in a bottle.”

Another cool fact about “I AM” is that the reverberation it makes in your body has a realigning effect. In every enlightened being, and in every major religion, you will find the sound “I AM” – in Hinduism it’s AUM, in Islam it’s Ameen, and in Christianity Amen. They all derive from the same universal source/sound, and are one and the same. Cool huh?

Here is a recording of me saying “AUM Shanti” – have a listen and pay attention to how you feel when hearing it. Then when you have a moment on your own, take a deep breath in, and on the exhale, let out a long “AUM”. There are lots of different opinions on how to say it properly, but I just say it the way that feels right to me.

As you go about your day, keep this AUM sound with you, and let it lead you to the place of peace within yourself.

Good Morning

I
The soft sheets,
the warmth of the morning light,
Grateful for another day.
Remnants of dreams swim through my mind –
He asked if I wanted to board the train with him,
and I had refused.
Glared at him.
But why did I do that? I think, and then Poof,
the image disappears,
his black coat fades;
And I no longer remember what I dreamed of.
I snuggle deeper.

II
The scent of coffee reaches my senses,
but still I do not rise;
Glancing at the clock, and
hoping that 8:32 AM will stay
etched that way forever.
My phone buzzes beside me…. Dare I look?
And examine the flood of emails;
The messages, that contain
last night’s memories.
I snuggle deeper.

III
To snooze or not to snooze,
That is the question.
I hear a car door slam shut,
The sound of “You forgot something!”
I can picture his hurried steps –
robe still on, delivering her lunch.
The chatter of neighbours heading to work.
I snuggle deeper.

IV
My to-do list is slowly invading my mind;
Each item marches to its own rhythm.
Apply for job.
Do laundry.
RSVP to wedding invitation.
Don’t text him.
I snuggle deeper.

V
I hear sparrows chirping outside,
What are they saying?
I formulate their words,
Imagine one asking the other,
“Doesn’t the sun feel good?” “Can you believe it’s November?”
“Don’t you have a doctor’s appointment this morning?”
What?
I get up.

Home Is Wherever I’m With You

Wow I can’t believe I’m finally getting around to posting this – it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been on this site!! I wrote this on Dec.3, but then my computer died before I got a chance to post it

* * *

Sitting at the Starbucks at the MARS Centre, listening to Christmas tunes, beside two young women who are discussing careers and gossiping and talking about job opportunities at UHN. Earlier today I learned the dance sequence to Beyoncé’s formation video:

Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated

It was a fun class, and I was exhausted and didn’t think my body could take it but somehow I survived it and even had a bit of fun. Like a lot of things these days, things seem to register as fun well after the fact. :-) There was a girl next to me who I would turn to every time I didn’t catch what the instructor had just shown us. Too bad she ended up leaving early! I wish I could post the video we took but it is forbidden for liability reasons. :p I hate that I have to abide by all these rules… I wish I could just write whatever I want, but I guess censorship is part of writing, or at least thinking about others feelings. I don’t know how Malala did it.. makes me admire her even more. Writing anonymously from her little house in the village, knowing that every word could get her in trouble. And yet still managing to keep a smile on her face!

It’s been a rough little past while, as you can probably tell since I haven’t been writing my blog posts which is very unlike me. However I have been walking the 10 KM at least once I week so I will write them all eventually.

Week 45!! It was a memorable one. I woke up early since I had promised Arvin that I would join him for a session at landmark forum. He asked me to be his guest since he is working on a documentary about mental health and addiction – his documentary profiles three people on the streets who deal wih addiction, and shows how they became addicted, their childhood, where they grew up, relationships, etc. I’m meeting with him next week with a few other folks to brainstorm further [Update: this didn’t end up happening – they met all the way up in Etobicoke!]. I walked from the Distillery where I’d been staying for most of November (at Samir and Shannon’s place while they got married in India), past some beautiful churches, up Jarvis, and to the hotel boardroom where the event was being held.

At first I was skeptical – I had heard both good and bad things about Landmark – some of my friends swear by it, and some people say it’s like a cult and they are really aggressive in getting you to sign up. So I went in skeptical, and emerged inspired. It was the stories that did it for me. One girl spoke about how she and her mother were separated for so many years because she held onto grudges and hadn’t fully forgiven her, and then during a Landmark session, she decided to call her and surprisingly, her mother was at a Landmark course just across the street from her! At that moment she realized that her mother had never actually abandoned her, she was always there. Hmmm… as I’m writing this it’s making me realize that I’m not alone either, and even though I don’t see my loved ones all the time, they are always with me. It’s hard to remember these things when you are feeling a little lost and hopeless (or a lot lost and hopeless).

Following Landmark, I walked out to the Allan Garden conservatory which was closed but I love that area so I sat on a bench there and FaceTimed my sister (or maybe she FaceTimed me, I can’t remember). We were both still upset by the Trump win… in fact I think I still am. I can’t believe how hard it hit me!! I had a great time at Sheldon’s election party, and then as I fell asleep, I was hoping that when I woke up, I would hear that Clinton had won, but instead I read that it was Trump. And my body locked up, and I felt SO much anger. Roshni and I talked about how she had been debating with Dad over a few things, but I could’ve told her that there is definitely no winning those debates!! Lol. Chris also felt really upset about the Trump win, because he resonated a lot with Clinton and what she stood for. I’ve noticed that all the leaders have been very positive in terms of making statements about working in harmony (like Clinton, Obama, Sadhguru, my Mom)… but I don’t know if I buy it. Usually I’m so positive but lately I’ve been a negative nancy to say the least. Where has my sense of humour gone?! There are moments it surfaces, usually around people. I miss the kids I was tutoring, I miss my old life, I miss my creative writing classes, I miss my old self. Not that I’m not grateful for my job and where things are heading, it’s just hard letting go of the things you love.

The next part of my day was pretty wild, insane, magical, unreal. In the middle of our FaceTime call, my phone died, which was pretty odd since it had 42% battery, and it normally works even if it’s 1%. I had an immediate urge to go home, charge my phone, make plans, absolutely anything to get escape this anxiety of being in the unknown – but instead I took it as a sign to explore and I wandered into a church at the corner. As I read my book, The Bandit Queen, about Phoolan Devi, my mind started to spiral into depression and I didn’t think I could continue. The words started to blur and not make sense and my mood got so low. And just then a woman came up to me – she had short black hair, was of African descent, very thin, and exuded kindness and warmth. She asked if I was staying for the event that evening, and I said what event, and she said that they were having an International Fair where there would be foods from all different cultures and music and dancing. I asked what time it was at and she said that it started at 5 PM. I glanced at my watch and it was only 3, so in my head I thought I probably wouldn’t stay that long – she caught my look and said vehemently, “You must come” so I agreed, still not entirely convinced.

I tried to read my book again, and that’s when a short man approached me – he had long white hair and a long white beard (he kind of looked like Santa Claus, or a character from Lord of the Rings), and he also asked me if I would like to join the festivities that evening. Now I could hear the universe loud and clear – I was going! In case there was any doubt, he handed me a long paper ticket and said that this would get me in (the cost of the event was $20, all proceeds going to children’s programs at the church). Just as I was thinking, now what am I going to do for the next two hours, he asked if I was hungry and of course I was, so he led me down to the basement and suddenly I felt like I was in another world. It was like I was in one of those black churches from the sixties, back during Martin Luther King days, where everyone was wearing those amazing hats and long dresses. There were people from other backgrounds too, there was an Indian family who had just left, and I would say white was in the minority. The man brought me a plate of yummy vegetarian food, and I heard from the guy sitting next to me whose name I now forget, that that is one of the values of the 7-Day Adventist church – they believe that a vegetarian diet is best for the mind, body, and soul. Similar to Hinduism in that way.

As I ate, I asked this guy so many questions about their beliefs and his own life story. He said that he was the only one in his family that was religious, the others weren’t into it and didn’t really understand his connection with the church. It’s hard going against the grain and doing something that your family doesn’t approve of. It reminds me of this movie I want to watch called Moonlight, about a boy who black and gay and growing up in a poor Miami neighbourhood. So excited to see it with Rhonelle after the holidays!

I told this guy (let’s just call him Evan because I’m going to keep talking about him) that I had stayed at Chris’s parents place the week before and stayed up all night reading The Book of Job, one of my favourite bible stories. Poor Job didn’t stand a chance… yet eventually his faith in God was restored and he was blessed with fortunes far beyond his wildest imagination (probably because like me he figured out that your imagination doesn’t exactly function in times of despair). Let’s hope my story follows a similar path to the other side! Evan’s eyes widened as I continued to share my insights on Job, and he pulled out a booklet from his bag that was a summary/study of guess what – yep The Book of Job! He said that every week in his church they study a different part of the bible and this week it was Job. What a crazy coincidence.

Then Evan started to excuse himself – he said that he had to set up for a workshop about anxiety and depression. That’s when my eyes grew wide. Oh wait, I forgot to tell you about the other amazing person that I met at the table – her name was Candace and she and I instantly connected. She had been through an abusive relationship and suffered from low self-esteem and didn’t have much money to live on. I told her about things I’d been going through too. It is amazing how we were able to be so open with one another. She and I were welcomed by Evan to join the workshop (he could probably tell we needed it!!). We listened to videos by an expert on mental health and addiction, and then did activities around goals and ways to overcome obstacles. Finally it was time to forget our woes and just play and have fun. We went into the adjoining gym for the International Fair, the event that had enticed me at the start to enter this magical place. Candace and I sampled food from all over the world in that little gym – India, Guyana, Kenya, Jamaica, and many more. We danced and let loose. We had ice cream and authentic home-cooked treats, and watched the kids having so much fun running around and being free.

After the event, we took some pics in the abandoned church (picture above). I was wearing my favourite t-shirt that says “Home Is Wherever I’m With You”. I love that T-shirt so much! Then we got to the bus stop and met this cool homeless guy who was sitting there drinking, and who ended up asking me out! He was actually really sweet; he said that sometimes, a person just needs to talk. How right he is.