Love Is The Answer

Week 44! It was Halloween. I stayed late at work that night to write my blog post from the week before (So True) and it felt good to remember and be more present than usual. I was the last one to leave. I walked home along Queen and decided to walk North on Crawford. It took a few ghosts and ghouls passing by me to realize that it was in fact Halloween. I passed by a pumpkin carved into the face of Donald Trump, cleverly called a “Trumpkin”. It scared me, not just because it was scary, but because I was reminded that Trump could actually be the next president of the United States (what?!!). I will be watching the election on Tuesday night at my friend Sheldon’s election party (he is renting out his office space at Infusion to host 100 of us!!)… biting my nails along with the rest of you. It will be a historic night indeed.

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“Trumpkin”, Crawford Street on Halloween

I passed by some cool graffiti on the way home – someone had written “Love Is The Answer” along the side of a building on Queen (feature image). I sent it to Home Base (chat group with the girls), and then continued on home to Raju’s. Tomorrow I’m heading to Samir and Shannon’s place in the Distillery… they are leaving for India to get married and are letting me stay there for the next few weeks! K better get some sleep… I have to work tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

How Long Can We Hold Women Back?

I’m barely alive right now. I’ve been processing my pain and there is a lot coming to the surface that has been suppressed for a long time. It’s funny how things happen in your life and it’s not until months (sometimes years) after that you process them and assimilate them into your experience. Sometimes I feel like I am choking on grief. It’s actually a wonder that I’ve been able to function like this.

It was a beautiful day in the city, with all the snow and the branches laden with white, glistening and still. Everywhere I went I just wanted to capture it forever by closing my eyes and holding the image in my memory. I had missed doing the walk yesterday (I usually do it on Mondays) but it was family day and I stayed home pretty much all day studying for my project management exam. I set the date to three weeks away hoping that it would help motivate me to study but so far it hasn’t worked.

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Walking on University Avenue, near Victoria College

I walked past 525 University and stopped to talk to Anthony, the concierge. He showed me pictures of his daughters building their very first snowman in Canada (they’re from the middle east so this was their first Canadian winter). Then I walked to Balzac’s where I read an article about a filmmaker that created a documentary about a girl Saba from Pakistan, who was almost killed by her uncle and father because she married a neighbourhood boy against their wishes. It was a very difficult story to listen to (I’d heard it first on CBC radio), especially the part where her father boasts about it and says he now feels more empowered after teaching her a lesson, and his other daughters and the girls in the community will know better than to go against the rules. It made me so angry. One part that resonated with me was when the filmmaker said “How long can we hold women back? I see cracks in traditional society. More and more women know their rights because of how interconnected they are; they’re no longer isolated. Even in the remotest of villages you have cellphones now, and of course this is going to shake the status quo in a patriarchal society… Women now want a greater say, they want greater economic independence, they want a greater say in the kind of marriages they make, the kind of education they get, where they work.” Seriously! It is amazing that these societies all around the world have managed to hold women back for so long. Like Raj Balkaran says, patriarchy is a result of the fear of the power of the feminine. Who knows what this world would look like if women were enabled to unleash their power? I think we are going to find out! There is no holding us back anymore, that is for sure. And when I say ‘us’, I mean us as a global community. Because when a woman is repressed anywhere in the world, it affects us all.

Truest With A Capital T

Another cold, harsh day. I can’t believe I’ve actually committed to doing this walk for the entire year. A part of me is resisting it, while the other part, my spirit, is feeling great about it. I walked to the reference library and met my friend Gillian for a very late lunch at Jack Astor’s. She is the co-director of a documentary about Phoolan Devi.  We chatted about her recent trip to India where she worked on the editing of the film and also received an ayurvedic treatment to improve her overall health and well-being. The film is her passion and she wishes to get the story of Phoolan out into the world, to inspire and address the global issue of violence against women, and provide a story that shows that anything is possible. As I’ve said before, this woman lived nine lives in her one short life. And she underwent an amazing transformation. She transcended her pain. Unspeakable pain. Pain that most people cannot even comprehend. Gillian showed me pictures of where Phoolan used to meditate, in a valley in India, while she was on the run.

After our meeting, I read for a bit at Balzac’s. There was an interesting article in the Star about Indian brides-to-be navigating through matrimonial websites, trying to find honest men with good intentions. Ha good luck! There are a lot of frauds on the sites as well as men that use them for harassing women. There was an interesting passage which captured the ideal Indian bride:

Whether advertised through Sunday classifieds or matrimonial sites, finding a partner has always been a family business in India. The most sought-after-bride is one who is demure, traditional, light-skinned, respectful, as well as educated and working. The groom is a catch if he works for a multinational company or is an engineer, a doctor, or a bureaucrat. If he works abroad, he scores higher. The man and woman have to be from the same caste and religion, and horoscopes will be matched by an astrologer.

It’s so interesting how we have these requirements for the opposite sex. What is the ideal woman in our society? And the ideal man?

After Balzac’s I went to an author talk at the library: Gabrielle Hamilton. She is a renowned chef (she owns a restaurant called Prune in New York) and writer. She recently wrote a memoir about her life – it sounds so interesting, I will have to read it and tell you more about it. The interview was great, she is so funny and brutally honest. She talked about her viciously sad marriage and how disconnected she felt. The interviewer, Ian Brown, asked her how she was able to be so honest about it, and whether her ex had a reaction to the material. She said that there is nothing else to do but be honest, that it would be beneficial to all if everyone spoke their truth, especially about troubles in their relationships and marriages. It’s true. No one really likes to talk about it, yet when someone does it really piques our interest. There is something about a good love story that we all can relate to, and also to a relationship that falls apart, betrayal, heartbreak, and grief. He asked her about how hard writing is and she said that it is the hardest thing in the world, to write truly, without all the bullshit, without being concerned what people will think, just laying it all out on the page the way it is meant to be. That something takes over and it’s almost like it’s happening on its own. I know what she means. Kind of. I’m still pretty self-conscious about what people will think of what I’m writing, and also there is only a certain level of my personal experience that I’m willing to share. She said that it takes awhile to find your Truest voice (Truest with a capital T). What is that voice? It is the voice unhindered by fear. The voice that comes from the deepest part of you, that says what needs to be said.

After that I walked all the way home, through St. Mary’s College, down University, and through Nathan Philips Square. I just love walking through there at night, watching the skaters and listening to the Top 40 music, seeing people so happy and enjoying the cold winter. It brings me so much peace and happiness.