A Family Affair

Week 35. My cousin Hiten and I headed out after breakfast at my Mama and Mami’s house in Ipswich (I’m in England right now, visiting my grandparents and cousins and nieces and nephews). It was a cloudy day but warm, and it was nice being in his company, since it had been awhile since we had spent a day together. He is someone that really gets me, and always has, along with my cousin Krupa who somehow seems to know what I’m thinking and totally relates to my journey. We walked to the docks area and it was gorgeous. The boats reminded me of the Toronto harbourfront area, which is close to my heart and I’ve been missing so much lately. At one point I started to tear up a little when talking about how my Dad had offered to pay for my flight to Iceland (gratitude always makes me cry), and he was ok with my crying although he might’ve said that I can’t keep on crying forever. He said “Have you ever thought about just living? – you know without all this other stuff?”. Ummm isn’t that what I’m doing? How could I not be living? Living happily is a different story I guess. Like right now I’m sitting at my cousin Vanisha’s computer, upstairs in her son’s room, while my Mom and Masi and Kumar sit downstairs and I can smell the masala tea and I can’t wait to go down and join them. Just have to finish this post first by 2pm.

We walked into town and I was pleasantly surprised by all the cute little shops and cafes. Ipswich is clearly under-rated. We sat at a Starbucks and I got a latte, he got a frappucino, and we sat outside and talked about volunteering and a wonderful organization called International Volunteer HQ that does short-term volunteer placements around the world. Here is a pic of him representing the organization. Doesn’t he look great?!


We wandered to the shops and inside the churches and the light from outside streamed ethereally through the stained glass. Hiten said that he had been going to the pub just outside the church with his mates (that is British for ‘friends’) since he was young, yet he had never gone inside the church. We were both taken aback by its beauty. The church is now  a cafeteria and there was a man there who explained the meaning of the beautiful  images at the back – it was the story of Jesus, from his birth to his death to his resurrection. Here is the scene, although you can’t really make it out. I wish I’d taken one closer up!

The story of Jesus, Church of Ipswich

We continued walking, passing by some of the pigs that have overtaken the city. There is a Pigs Gone Wild app that you can download and scan the code at each pig that you encounter. All the proceeds go to the St. Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich.

We wandered into the sweet shops, took in the sounds of the street performers, and at one point I started to sing too. I told Hiten that it helps me access my heartache, and it was amazing how I felt comfortable enough to sing “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” and Sam Smith’s “I’m not the only one”, and some of Adelle’s Hello. Singing helps me to access my joy too! (yes it’s in there). We continued along and found an eclectic furniture store and I commented on how I would buy everything in there to decorate my own place. It is called The House In Town and is owned by John Manning, a jolly chap who selects all the pieces himself and buys them from all around England. Next door to him is his Mom’s shop, and next to hers is his brother’s shop. He showed us an article written about them that details how the business has been a family affair over the last 20 years. As I wandered through, I was drawn to the paintings of powerful women, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. I admire Audrey so much for her free spirit and humanitarian work she has done throughout her life. She was also very fond of animals, and was even known to sleep with a young deer. As I gazed at her beautiful face, I was reminded of a similar painting I have back in Toronto, hanging behind my door, that I used to see every day before heading out. I’m actually moving out of my place on October 9th! I can’t believe it. I’ve been there for 7 years, so it’s a huge thing. It will be fun packing up all my things and heading towards something new!

On the way home Hiten and I stopped by the park nearby his place, and of course I had to stop and go on the swings. Then we arrived home after a long day, greeted by my Mama and Mami who were wondering what we’d been up to all day.

Overall it was a great day. :-)  The only thing missing was that I didn’t get a chance to do any reading up on women’s rights and also I had forgotten my book for my walks, but the theme of I AM POWERFUL played in my mind. Ok off to eat now!!

I AM Invictus

Recap of Monday’s walk, which I haven’t gotten around to writing about until now! Clearly need to organize my time better. The kids at the Ronald McDonald House (where I tutor on Wednesdays) listed ‘organizational’ skills as one of the most important in their career-building activity today, and I agree that it is very important to be well-organized, otherwise your life can feel like a bit of a disaster.

It was beautiful weather on Monday, and I walked up University, past 525, and up to Queen’s Park. There was a big crowd gathered so I stopped and asked what it was about. A friendly man in the crowd told me that it was for an appearance by Prince Harry, who was in town to promote the Invictus Games, which are being held in Toronto next year. The name Invictus is Latin for “unconquered, undefeated.” The games are for wounded, injured, or sick veterans to compete in sporting events, and are a wonderful event that bring people together, show the power of perseverance and the indomitable human spirit, and generate lots of excitement and goodwill. Prince Harry was inspired to start these games after his time serving in Afghanistan.

I waited for maybe half an hour, and saw him arrive in big black SUVs. Unfortunately we just saw the back of his head and everyone was pretty disappointed.

However if I’d waited an another hour for him to leave, I would’ve been able to meet him along with these lucky people!

The games help veterans heal not only from physical injuries, but in terms of their mental health and PTSD. It is interesting that the motto for the games is “I AM”, as in I AM Invictus, unconquerable. I AM is also the most creative statement in the universe – anything that follows these two words will change the way you think and feel.

Following my Prince Harry failed sighting, I walked along Yonge street, and passed by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

IMG_3735 (2).JPG

At Balzac’s I ran into Isaac who gave me a long explanation of the dangers of drinking tap water because of the fluoride content. He seems to be very knowledgeable about this stuff! I also ran into Elizabeth, who is a woman that walked the Camino, an 800 KM trek from France to Spain. She told me about an article she was interviewed for, which got published in the Star this week! She advocates for a better justice system that is easier to navigate and more cost-friendly (she herself had to pay over $100,000 over the last 7 years in family court). We also talked about getting over heartbreak, and how physical exercise helps in getting your power back.

Coincidentally, I was at the part in The Underground Girls of Kabul where Jenny talks about women and sports in Afghanistan, and how women are held back in this area because it is not appropriate; it may make them too masculine, too competitive. Women are instead expected to be spectators at men’s sporting events. But the real reason is something deeper, that has to do with the patriarchy and the position of men in segregated societies.

A woman who feels her own physical strength may be inspired to think she is capable of other things. And when an entire society is built on gender segregation, such ideas could cause problems for those who would like to hold on to wealth and power.

On the way home I stopped at Chapters to pick up a card for Mom, and ran into Rahim and Monika. It was nice to have some company on my walk home!




The Most Powerful Statement In the Universe

I woke up this morning to the most beautiful view. I love living up so high and seeing nothing but water. I felt so grateful to be alive.

Then in the afternoon I went to tutor at CCVT. I go there every Tuesday as a volunteer for the homework club. It is a place of joy and laughter, a place where children and volunteers and the wonderful staff come together to provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids to learn and explore and play. It is so much fun to be a part of, and I’m always left in a great mood. Today I helped one of the younger children with his math homework. We learned long division and practiced his multiplication tables. The picture is of Amy who runs the program and some of the kids. So much fun!

This evening I met my friend Emilia at the Shambhala Meditation Centre. I used to go there years ago, and then like many other things I’ve started over the years, I stopped going with the intention of picking it up again when I was less busy. It’s an incredibly peaceful place and there is an overall calming energy. We did a 1-hour instructional meditation session, and then had tea and cookies and talked about things we notice about ourselves, in particular insecurities and self-defeating thoughts. One thing that I’ve noticed is that meditation has helped me over the last couple years to become less self-conscious. I am more open and generally more willing to make a fool of myself. Maybe not a good thing but life is much more interesting this way! I sometimes surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth.


On the subway ride home Emilia told me that she was reading The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen. I perked up at this, because it was a reminder of how powerful the statement “I Am” is.  It is the most powerful statement in the universe. I first encountered that wisdom while reading Conversations with God, and have noticed its effects ever since. Whatever you say following the statement I Am actually affects your reality. I have a mantra that I repeat daily, and it starts with “I am a reservoir of peace, I am an ocean of love…. “.   Much more effective than “I am a raging bitch” (which to be honest is also quite true a lot of the time).

Here is the excerpt from CWG that I’m referring to:

So, you’ve asked when your life will “take off,” and I’ve given you the answer.
You get your life to “take off” by first becoming very clear in your thinking about it.
Think about what you want to be, do, and have. Think about it often until you are
very clear about this. Then, when you are very clear, think about nothing else.
Imagine no other possibilities.

Throw all negative thoughts out of your mental constructions. Lose all pessimism.
Release all doubts. Reject all fears. Discipline your mind to hold fast to the original
creative thought.

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 I am
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.

Here’s a little peak into the Shambhala centre: