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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Week 37. Trying hard to remember last Friday’s walk. :-) I set out and it was a hot day in Kanata, especially for September. My goal was to try out a new café that had just opened up, the Morning Owl. My Dad had told me about it weeks ago and I had been looking forward to going somewhere cool and hip, and somewhere different than Starbucks or Tims. Part of me just wanted to go somewhere familiar, like the Chapters or the library, but I really wanted to try out this new place! I left the house around 3 PM, walked up Weslock, then down Knudson, and then eventually to Canadian Shield Avenue near the Senior’s home. I walked around the bend and beheld the sight of the new café. Isn’t it gorgeous?!

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Morning Owl Café, Kanata

It was really nice inside, and I could tell everyone was friendly even though I wasn’t really in the mood for making friends just then. The owls everywhere brought me back to the time in 2012 when I was on an intuitive high, and had constant flashes of inspiration and designed my tutoring business cards (mathwithmita@gmail.com). I pulled one out of my pocket and it filled me with joy to see those cute symbols of wisdom and all-knowing!

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Owls Galore, Morning Owl Café, Kanata

I ordered a fruit salad and sat down on the comfy couches, then I decided to move to a table in order to work. The music was perfect. As I listened to one slow 90’s R&B hit after another, the tears I’d been holding back started to flow. They were playing one of my favourite songs, All Cried Out by Allure. (is it possible to be all cried out, or do the tears just keep flowing? kind of like Sita in Sita Sings the Blues… her tears fill the ocean).

All alone on a Sunday morning
Outside I see the rain is falling
Inside I’m slowly dying
But the rain will hide my crying

And you, don’t you know my tears will burn the pillow
Set this place on fire ’cause I’m tired of your lies
All I needed was a simple “Hello”
But the traffic was so noisy that you could not hear my cry

Ah, I gave you my love in vain
My body never knew such pleasure
My heart never knew such pain
And you, you leave me so confused
Now I’m all cried out over you

Writing out these lyrics reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to write out all the lyrics to songs in my diaries when I was going through heartache. I think at the time it was Jayson Titterton, or maybe Andrew Guennette or Jamie Whiteside. Hahah mind you I didn’t actually date any of these people – it was unrequited love – the worst kind! It’s funny how heartache is so universal yet you feel like you’re the only one feeling it so intensely. After a slew of slow songs, my mood perked up when I heard “Don’t turn around” by Ace of Base. I started to sing and even taped myself (I’m sure people thought I was nuts). “If you want to leave, I won’t beg you to stay…and if you gotta go darling, maybe it’s better that way.” I swear, I will start sharing these embarrassing videos again soon. After all, those are always the best ones.

Finally when I got out of my slump, I went over to the bar area to make friends and took a couple pics for the girls sitting there. They were happy and smiling and just loving life. I talked to Nancy, the owner, who is a beautiful, kind woman with those nerdy glasses that somehow still looked sexy on her. She told me about how she’d decided to open up this café to try something new and how excited she was about the future; also this Morning Owl was different than the other Ottawa locations because it’s the only one with a liquor license. I was instantly calmed by her demeanor and how genuine she was. She told me that there would be a grand opening sometime soon with live music and food. She asked if I live in Ottawa, and I told her how my life is in flux right now, and that I’m looking for work, ideally in Toronto but lately I’ve been pretty confused about what’s best for me. I think I’m just going to keep applying and trust that I’ll make the right decision when the time comes. Nancy told me about her friend who recently moved from Toronto who is a project manager at Canada Post. She said she would pass on my resume to her – so nice of her! (update: her friend passed the resume to a recruiter who contacted me this morning).

I still haven’t picked out a book for my walks – I was reading Sally Armstrong’s Behind the Veil which I left back in Toronto. However the theme of I AM POWERFUL continues as I meet powerful, amazing women. As I had my latte and chocolate chip cookie, I struck up a conversation with a girl sitting next to me, who looked like she was in her twenties. Funny enough we both had similar stories in terms of going out on a limb and trying something new in terms of creativity and giving up secure jobs. She writes a blog called Kouture Kitten which I encourage you to check out. It’s about faith, fashion, and style. Her writing is edgy, relatable, and flows really well. She writes from her heart. I was so grateful to share that moment with her and had been thinking about her lately. And then the craziest thing happened this morning. As I was writing this post, I researched her blog and came across this post on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/p/BKpE94yA4FS/). I was so touched!! It actually took me a moment to realize that she was talking about me. It is amazing how we can influence people without even knowing it.

Hours passed. I started to blog live from the café, writing about the sounds and the people, what they were wearing, the expressions on their faces. My opinions and thoughts about what was going on around me. I wish I’d had the courage to just post it, but something held me back. I guess it was thinking what each person would think if they happened to read it and came across such detailed descriptions of themselves. Lucky for me I don’t have too many followers!! Hahaha.

As I left, I was in awe of the gorgeous night sky that reminded me of similar ones in South Africa.

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Part of me wanted to take the familiar route home, but instead I decided to wander. “Not all who wander are lost” someone once said. I wandered to the overpass that led to the other side of the highway. On the way I met a man named Emmett and we shared a beautiful moment, talking about the full moon and the raccoons that were scurrying about. I went to the food basics, and then my friend Sam called from B.C. We talked for almost 40 minutes all the way home.

Wake Me Up Out Of My Slumber

11:48 PM. It was a bad idea to come home and do my body scan meditation before starting to write! I really should write while all the ideas are fresh in my head and I’m going off the energy and excitement of the day.

It was nice to sleep in and then walk to my creative writing class. We explored character and how important character is to a story; all other aspects – setting, plot, language – are attached to character. And what makes a great character is inner conflict – a person who is torn between two (or more) conflicting thoughts/ideas/emotions that cause them to act often irrationally, inconsistently, or at least explains their behaviour and the motivations behind it. It is important that the story reveals what the character really cares about in terms of long-term and short-term goals. And is what they say they want really what they want? We gave some examples of characters in movies/books that stood out for us. I thought of Lord Rama in the Ramayana, and how he battles with himself throughout the story. Especially in the seventh, often hidden book, where he decides to send Sita to live alone in the forest because society does not accept her after she has lived in another man’s home (Ravana’s). He is conflicted and torn, and whatever decision he makes is sure to lead to great pain. It sucks when both options are painful – sometimes you are likely to pick the less painful one, but really it gives you an opportunity to actually do the right thing, because either way it’s not going to be easy.

After class I walked to Balzac’s, where I read a few chapters of The Color of Grace. It is a beautiful story about a young woman who goes to Uganda to help children that have suffered greatly due to war. She is deeply affected by what she sees and through the depths of her soul, offers all that she has to her work, to God, to the children, and all those she encounters. It is unbelievable to read her diary entries and witness the depths of her own suffering and of the little souls she encounters, and to find beauty, hope, and resilience through incredible hardship and trauma. In one of her diaries, she references the great poet Khalil Gibran:

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Interesting… I’m just now noticing that the quote I chose actually links to the ‘character’ theme of today’s class – so cool! Today was actually a huge synchronistic day for me… I saw my number (69) probably at least 20 times. On license plates, signs, addresses of buildings… it was everywhere! I’ve gotten so used to it now that it no longer surprises me but is a constant reminder that the universe is alive and there is an underlying force that connects everything and everyone. It is comforting, sometimes scary, and always beautiful. I wish I could say that it was enough to wake me up out of my slumber, but it seems I’m taking my time – the conditions aren’t quite right and I get defeated easily still. But all that is changing and I have lots of hope for this year! I’m so behind on all my resolutions but I know I’ll get them all done because it’s just the way I am. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

Following Balzac’s I went to see Daniel Clowes speak at the reference library. I haven’t been there in awhile and it felt good to be back. It was an engaging discussion about his career and his process in creating the comics and how he sees comics making a comeback and becoming more popular in the future. Following that I walked all the way home! I’m proud of myself for completing the 10km today because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it!

 

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!!!

me at the rom

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