The World Became A Slab Of Lead Sitting On My Chest

Week who-knows-what. All I know is that I’m not stopping. If I can do this walk in this state of utter devastation, that means I’ll do it forever. And it’s amazing how it still always delivers – there are twists and turns, darkness and loneliness, and magical coincidences and friendly strangers that guide me. There is insight into what is deep within, and what I’m holding onto. There are moments where my pride gets the better of me, and moments where I let it all go and reach out for help, so that I can talk to that friendly compassionate voice on the other end, who brings some light in the darknes and takes me home. And for all of it I am grateful.

I headed out around 3 PM from my home, and walked to Aakanksha’s place. Her grandfather greeted me (I’ve been having fun chatting with her grandparents since they are here visiting, and it’s been helping me practice my Gujarati). I went inside and her dad came downstairs and told me that they must have forgotten the session, and so he called his wife and sure enough, they were still at Carlingwood Mall. So I said it was ok, that I would come back another day. The grandmother was a little hurt that I was leaving so soon (she said “What? Is my company not good enough?”) so I stayed for a bit and had some tea and chatted with her. Before I left, I went to visit the Mandir and the symbols of Lakshmi and Ram and Sita and Hanuman and Durga, and I needed to do that, because there is still so much hurt, and also it feels so nice being in the presence of God. And I say that not just because of the mandir, but all-around. Throughout all the pain, there is God, there is love, there is hope. (catch me on another day and I may sing a different tune!!). I saw that the grandfather was reading a Krishna comic book as I walked out and I made him promise to lend it to me when he is done with it.

Then I wandered over to the park nearby, in the 40-degree sweltering heat, and that’s when everything fell apart and I felt lonely and torn, and that same relentless pain of the memory of when I saw him with her at Nathan Philips Square, that memory that hurt me so deeply, came up and made me crazy and there was nothing to do with the pain. So I went on the swing and I pumped up and down, over and over and I was flying high. Then I messaged by friend Neteesha who is going through something similar and she really understood, and made me feel so much better. Wow. Thank frickin’ God for friends. She was funny and compassionate and was like ‘Fuck them’. I made a typo and said ‘Suck them’ which is kinda funny but probably not a bad idea either. Hahah. People keep telling me that I need a fling but I’m pretty sure that’s not what I need. I just need a latte. And some other stuff that I probably shouldn’t mention here.

I took a path down Stikine Drive, that led to a park and to a beautiful old building that used to be a school-house until 1963 and is now a community centre. They have weekly Toastmasters meetings there, where I’ll be going tonight with my Mom. Isn’t it just beautiful?! I think my Toastmasters group in Toronto is going to be jealous.

S.S. No 1 March, Kanata

I ran into a man there with his two dogs who told me a bit about the history of the building. It was built in 1886 and housed children from European immigrants that had come to Canada from France, Germany, and Holland. These families worked on surrounding farms and sent their kids to this school to learn. Can’t you just imagine it? At lunch, the kids would swim in the pool (which is now a water hole in the Kanata golf course). I didn’t see the water hole but I’ll check for it the next time I go. In 1985, it became a Children’s Art Centre, and is now it is a meeting spot for people in the community. It reminds me of another place called the March House which used to be a restaurant and is now a rustic spa.

I walked to a little clearing in the woods nearby, and was engrossed in an article in The Star about Egyptian Olympian Doaa Elghobashy playing volleyball in her hijab. You go girl!!

I have worn the hijab for 10 years. It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them.

And then. Enter Beyoncé. I watched the video “Sorry” and it blew my f’ing mind. If you haven’t seen it, take a look and be prepared to be amazed:

Then I ran into a man with his daughter and they were engrossed in this Pokémon Go game that has taken over the city. Everywhere I go there are people on their phones trying to capture these little critters. It makes me feel like I’m living in a fantasy world (I already feel like that considering how many 69’s and signs from the universe I see everywhere). He convinced me to download it and I’m definitely going to try it out – hopefully the next time we go to Andrew Haydon park, the park where I grew up, where we’d used to have picnics and make kitchdi and go for walks.

Then I continued on and got to Chapters where I had a tazo chai latte and read a bit from The Prisoner of Tehran. Marina Nemat might be the bravest woman I know. She refuses to reveal the names of her friends, despite the demands of the prison guards and even though she is aware of the lashes that will ensue. But her heart is another story. It must close for awhile because she is unable to process the amount of emotional pain and shock she is in. Imagine being safe at home one day, and then being thrown into the world’s most notorious prison. “The world beame a slab of lead sitting on my chest,” she says.

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While there, I leafed through the Anna Karenina colouring book (I have a copy of it back at home in Toronto). Also Roshni bought me the novel which I’m really looking forward to reading! I wonder if it is the same one that all these beautiful quotes are derived from.

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Following Chapters, I walked down Campeau towards the library (stopping to say hi to the bunnies along the way – I swear they have taken over this city). I watched a game of tennis which made me long for simpler times, when all there was to do was just play, or maybe it reminded me of how my Dad and I used to play badminton here. Or maybe I was just dying to get into the game. Then I got to the library just as it was closing.

I walked home along Beaverbrook, talking to my friend Vaishali, telling her about my darkness and my journey and thankful for her kind voice and understanding. Finally made it home, greeted by my parents who are always there and constant and so amazing; my dad a little worried because it was so late, and my mom smiling and happy, never doubting that I would make it home. Not sure where my brother was, probably listening to music in his room. It felt good to be home.





The Girl and The Golden Key

Wednesdays are always great because I have my toastmasters meeting at SickKids. Like meditation at the Shambhala centre, it was something I picked up years ago, and then I stopped going. At the time I was really really frightened of public speaking, and even more so scared of not appearing put together, letting my insecurities show. I could barely even introduce myself! This time around things are a little better. I’m more comfortable with myself and more willing to look foolish. What a relief it is to allow yourself to be vulnerable! Rejection is never fun (I say this as I await the response to a question I just asked a friend), but once you get used to it, a lot of doors open for you. Because the worst that can happen is the person says no, or you don’t get the job, or you fail. And for me it feels deadly. Like it actually sears my heart. But I’m getting stronger and I think I’ve just had a lot of practice in getting rejected!

The theme of today’s meeting was ‘striving’, and the word of the day was ‘optimal’. The table topics are the best part, where the table topics master prepares a list of fun and interesting topics that relate to the theme, and people go up and choose one and deliver an impromptu speech between 1-2 minutes. The topic I chose was: “Many movies describe strivers and their journey towards achieving their challenging goals and dreams. What is your favourite striver movie?”.  I chose to talk about Wild, a movie about Cheryl Strayed’s solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon was amazing in this movie and really portrayed the emotional journey with rawness. I related a lot to this movie because sometimes I feel as though my struggles with depression and anxiety are never-ending, but each step along the way, there has been wisdom gained and also heart-breaking beauty. I can’t say that it’s been worth it but I know that it has opened my heart. One of the topics that was presented beautifully by Lynna (who wants to start her own statistical analysis consulting business) was: “You have turned your hobby or passion into a thriving business. Describe the process and the challenges along the way.”  I loved this topic because I am planning to start my own consulting business! It’s actually really exciting and unbelievable. I never thought I was the entrepreneurial type, but turns out I don’t like being told what to do and I like to do things my own way!

After the toastmasters meeting, I sat in the Sick Kids cafeteria and edited my friend Daniela’s beautiful children’s book (the picture above is one of her illustrations). It is a story about a girl who is given a magical golden key and eventually finds that it is the key to eternal happiness and laughter. She experiences loss, adventure, and encounters many wise souls along the way. I loved editing this! It reminds me of my Mom’s dream of publishing a children’s book. Hers was called Tom Makes A Difference, and it is a wonderful story about a boy who is always nice to everyone and willing to help, and through his example inspires others to change. I hope to help Mom publish this book one day!

Went to Freshii and had my favourite tex mex burrito, and read the newspaper. I came across an awesome commentary on Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s bizarre singing of “Smile Back at Me” that she wrote for her daughter. I love how she is unafraid to bare her soul and be herself no matter what anyone thinks! I have faith in our prime minister simply because he is married to her! Great line from the article:

Yes, Gregoire-Trudeau’s performance was painfully awkward, ill-timed and in some places not quite in tune. But can you really dis a woman who bares her soul in such a weird and spectacular way? Even if she chose to do so at a profoundly inappropriate moment, are we not all richer for it?

Yes, yes, and yes!! So inspiring and makes me feel better about my ill-timed baring of the soul. :p



New Years Resolutions

2016. A new year and exciting opportunities ahead. It was so stressful coming up with these resolutions but I finally have a list!

  1. Teach my kriya meditation to my friends or whoever is interested, and complete the Shambhavi meditation course
  2. Complete at least five toastmasters speeches
  3. Take three Creative Writing Courses at the University of Toronto
  4. Do my yearly Walk In Her Shoes campaign, this time walking 10 km once each week and blogging about my experiences
  5. Launch blog, advertise, think of ways to increase visibility
  6. Help Mom to complete her children’s book
  7. Take flamenco dancing classes at the Esmeralda Enrique Dance Company
  8. Speak to a classroom of students about my experiences with anxiety and depression
  9. Perform at a comedy club and this time actually invite my friends!
  10. Get my first project management contract either through my own consulting business or through an organization

Tools/Ongoing Practice

  1. Daily kriya meditation (2x/day)
  2. Body scan meditation (4x/week)
  3. Yoga (3x/week)
  4. Eating healthy and cooking lots