When Will and Grace align, anything is possible

I woke up at around 10 am this morning, the after effects of last night’s evening of magic still on my mind. My friend Gosia threw a fabulous party, where we danced and sang and enjoyed each other’s company. The sounds of the guitar and the rhythms of Ella’s dancing filled the room. I sang “I’m not the only one” by Sam Smith and “Hello” by Adele, and was elated to hear that my voice was strong, that I could reach deep within myself and sing the tunes of my heart.

I went to Raj’s class and he talked about Will and Grace. (individual will, and the grace of God). It was quite uncanny that this morning I had watched an episode of Will & Grace, which I hadn’t watched in so long. Coincidence?! I was kind of led to watch it, because my internet stopped working and I couldn’t watch Netflix, so I turned on the TV and watched the episode where Will and Jack pair up on a business venture that doesn’t end up working. Today was the last of Raj’s class series on finding inner balance. The theme was the story of Jesus, and Raj told the story of the crucifixion. It is a beautiful story.

I went to Casa Loma after class, since it was close by. I love it there! I made a wish and tossed some coins in the fountain – Here’s to hoping my wish comes true.

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Then I made my way to the Khalsa parade,  in celebration of Vaisakhi, and got there just in time to hear mayor John Tory speak. I love going to the parade every year. Usually I go with Jasmine, but she was busy so this year I was on my own, dodging through the crowds, having my hot chai and channa masala. It is such a peaceful gathering, and I feel right at home, and so grateful for the free food!

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Following the parade, I walked down Queen West, where I saw a beautiful tribute to Prince that was painted by my friend Victor the street artist. I can’t believe that he died so suddenly. The songs “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” are two of my favourites, so haunting and beautiful. May he rest in peace.

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My brother told me about an event happening at 567 Queen West – Drake was promoting his new album “Views from the 6” and giving away free t-shirts. I got there and tried to bypass the line by telling the bouncer that I write a lifestyle blog and that I was covering the event. Unfortunately it didn’t work – he said I could cover the event from the line. Haha! It was such a cool vibe though – here is a video of the scene outside the shop:

On my walk home, I saw this beautiful wedding shoot by the lake. So pretty!

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Magical wedding photo shoot, Harbourfront

 

 

 

We Are Warrior Women

I just finished listening to a CBC radio documentary about Lorelai Williams, who is an advocate for missing and murdered aboriginal women. She has experienced a lot of trauma and loss in her life, and even though she finds it extremely difficult to listen to the stories of violence and injustice, she faces it every day. It is amazing how she has turned into an advocate and leader, and is the person that people turn to to speak on their behalf. It was a heartbreaking story. Near the end there is a person she works with that talks about how she and the others are all ‘warrior women’. Which was striking because today was my class on the Goddess Durga, the warrior goddess, power incarnate, victory incarnate, and the representation of good over evil.

As usual Raj Balkaran was on fire! [Ok I just took a break to watch the Superbowl Halftime Show, and damn.. Beyoncé was on fire! I love the ending so much – the entire stadium spells out “I Believe In Love”]. Back to Durga. She empowers individuals to find their own power. There is a myth where she induces Lord Vishnu (the Preserver God) into a deep slumber prior to the creation of the universe. Two demons arise from Vishnu who threaten to vanquish Brahma (the Creator), who then pleads with Durga to destroy the demons. She instead leaves him so that he can awaken and vanquish the demons on his own. Raj used the metaphor of ‘Give a man bread or teach him how to bake’. Empowerment is about enabling the person to uncover their greatest potential on their own. Without dependency. This is difficult for people who like to feel needed. It is definitely difficult for me at times!

Tomorrow I’m going to do my weekly Walk In Her Shoes and I’m thinking I’m feeling a bit better about it. There are a lot of things I’m doing in life right now that I haven’t fully processed and this commitment is one of them. I was reminded in today’s class that the power within is the most potent force to transform oneself and the world. Which is why the message of “I Am Powerful” resonates so much with me. Here is what I initially posted when I did the 50 KM last year.

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“She has the power to change her world. You have the power to help her do it.”

It’s that time of year again… Walk In Her Shoes! This year I’ll be walking 50 km, over the course of the week. This is my fourth walk!

I love the messaging of this campaign: I Am Powerful. It focuses on a woman’s inherent power to overcome adversity and realize her true potential. Once a woman’s power is unleashed, it transforms her own world, the lives of those closest to her, and her entire community. It is an unstoppable force that is capable of transforming the world. Join me and let’s walk this road together!

 

 

 

 

 

Your Soul Is Not Made In China

Today was pretty wonderful. Beautiful weather, great conversations, a full moon, and inspiration all around. My creative writing class was cancelled, so I had some extra time in the morning to work on my blog (as I write this, I still have not shared this blog with a single person!), and also I stumbled upon a video of Walk In Her Shoes in the U.K. and was deeply inspired by how much it has taken off over there. And so I announced on Facebook that I would be doing this 10 Km walk for the entire year, thinking it was kind of a big thing since I had been struggling with it so much, but no one even noticed or cared. Lol. So I set off. I walked along University Ave, where I saw a reporter from Global News discussing the Sammy Yatim case, and as I walked by I thought that maybe that will be me one day, reporting on Walk In Her Shoes and what women experience on a daily basis in all parts of the world. I do believe that it is the greatest human rights crisis of our time, and is the root cause of many other conflicts in the world.

I continued up University, through the MARS centre, stopped to have lunch at Hero burger, and briefly stopped at one of my favourite used bookstores on Yonge street, where I read a bit of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground. Reading it made time stand still. His books are truly works of the soul. Twisted, dark, clever, and offering deep insights into human nature, our demons, struggles, and triumphs. I can’t wait to read all his stuff. I eventually made it to the reference library where I read a bit of The Great Work of Your Life and First There Was a Mountain, about a woman around my age that goes to India to learn yoga with B.K. Iyengar, a Guru that developed his own system of yoga based on Patanjali’s yoga teachings. I love reading this book because I feel like I’m in India, where I often long to be. It’s weird that it feels like home even though the last time I was there was when I was 15.

I went to Balzac’s where I chatted with Isaac, a guy that comes in there often, about starting your own business and what it entails. Then Raj, my mythology teacher, called me and we discussed pretty much the same thing. He is my accountability partner. We are both developing our own brand and thinking of what we have to offer to the world, and holding each other accountable on a weekly basis to make sure that we are progressing on our goals. Raj is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. His ability to transmit ancient stories, transport you into another world, heal your wounds, and take you to higher place is something that you need to witness for yourself. I feel like everyone would benefit from his teachings. I am taking his Faces of Power class about Indian goddesses, and the last class was about Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, learning, and artistry. She represents the subtle. She will take you to your higher self and bring you awareness. Someone asked a question about patriarchy and why it exists, especially in India where the Goddess is worshipped and revered. He said that patriarchy is a response to fear of the feminine power. I couldn’t agree more! He also talked about how Saraswati represents the soul, and how the soul has no colour or race or geography (“Your soul is not made in China” he said).

After that I walked home, through Nathan Philips square where I watched the skaters and bopped to Jesus Walks by Kanye that was playing in the background. I got home and I just finished watching Justin Trudeau speaking at the World Economic Forum. He talked about how men should not be afraid of the word ‘feminist’, and how he refers to himself as a feminist all the time.

I’m incredibly proud to have a partner in my wife Sophie, who is extremely committed to women and girls’ issues. But she took me aside a few months ago and said Okay, it’s great that you’re engaged and modeling to your daughter that you want her empowered and everything, but you need to take as much effort to talk to your sons—my 8-year-old boy and my 2-year-old—about how he treats women and how he’s going to grow up to be a feminist just like dad. And by the way, we shouldn’t be afraid of the word “feminist.” Men and women should use it to describe themselves any time they want.

I just love listening to him speak about this stuff. As you can see, I am a sucker for charming men!

 

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.

 

Breasts Like Cups of Nectar

I went to the ROM today and was mesmerized by the bee colony. The kind gentlemen who works there spent probably twenty minutes explaining the inner workings of the colony, and how everything works synchronously, with all the bees doing their own part without being told what to do (don’t you wish humans were like that?!). It seems as though it’s by magic that everyone knows their roles, without being told, bribed, or without any hope of reward. Basically the queen bee runs the show, the worker bees know exactly what to do in their respective roles, and the drones are only needed to fertilize the queens. The feminist part of me loves this – impregnate me and get out of my way. Ha! The drones die soon after mating, or else they are ejected by the worker bees once the food runs out.

I listened with fascination as he told me how some bees may return to the colony drunk off the pollen. These drunk bees are killed because they are useless and can’t work. Bees get bloated with the honey and pollen and when they return to the colony, they regurgitate it to release it and put it into the cells. There are undertaker bees that carry away the dead bees and dispose of them far from the hive (so that animals are not alerted to the presence of the hive). Everyone has their role, their duty, and nothing is out of place. Everything is exactly as it should be.

So fitting because it is similar to what was discussed in my Myth & Meaning class this morning. The teacher is Raj Balkaran who is a gifted storyteller and scholar in comparative mythology. He talked about Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey. All of us are on a hero’s journey. A part that struck me was when he described his conversation with his friend who was experiencing deep grief, and he said to him “think of when King Dashartha had to part with Rama when he went into the forest for 14 years” and his friend was able to see that his grief was not unique, it was a shared human experience.

The power of narratives and stories is that it sheds light onto human experience, which has lost perspective in the age of reason, where everything is logical and not valued unless scientifically proven. He talked about a subtle reality that exists, where energies align and events occur that appear like coincidences but are actually examples of this synchronicity at work. I’ve experienced this myself quite profoundly over the last 3 years, with the number 69 appearing over and over (God only knows why that is my number!), suddenly tuning into the time at 11:11 over and over, and having thoughts that lead to my questions being answered, or running into the person I was thinking about, or something or someone coming into my life that addresses my very thought or intention.

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At the Eastern civilization exhibit, I came across a beautiful picture of a dancing gopi. Gopis are the dancing cowgirls who were all in love with Krishna, and would leap out of their beds and leave whatever they were doing when they heard the enchanting sound of Krishna’s flute. Gopis were in a state of constant ecstacy, because of their complete surrender to Krishna and abandonment of their self-consciousness and wordly obligations. There is nothing that could stand in the way between them and their beloved. Gopis are revered because they exhibit the purest love that only complete devotion can yield. Radha was Krishna’s favourite gopi, and the two of them enjoyed many ‘loving pasttimes’ together (aka sex).

Then I went to visit the dinosaurs. I feel like a little kid in this exhibit, because I cannot believe that there was a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth!!!

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Overall an amazing day! I wish I could spend every day at the ROM!