Let’s Talk

I just got home from Chapters – I spent the afternoon there reading. I have exactly three weeks before my next book club meeting on the 21st, and my goal is to read the whole book at Chapters (can’t buy them all!). The book selection for this month is “Stay With Me” by Ayobami Adebayo. It’s set in Nigeria and it’s about the consequences of wanting to have a child at any cost, and touches on the themes of betrayal, jealousy, and insanity.

What I look forward to most about Chapters is getting my tea/latte and a treat. Today I had an English breakfast tea and a Valentine’s Day heart cookie. The barista informed me that I had been missing out on free refills! I didn’t realize that with my gold card, I can get free refills on tea. She was really nice and gave me a couple tea bags to go.

Here are a few of my pics from the day:

While at I was sipping my tea, I read one of my favourite blogs, written by my old writing teacher, Beth Kaplan. She’s in New York City right now, where she is going to deliver a talk, and is touring the city and taking in its wonders. I love her writing style – she is so honest and funny, and not afraid to write about the rough parts. I especially love her commentary on Donald Trump, who (like most of us), she absolutely detests. Here is what she wrote about him today:

Another great thing was that we completely missed the State of the Union address by the orange blowhole.
– Beth Kaplan

Lol! The orange blowhole. I know exactly how she feels. I tried watching the State of the Union address yesterday, just to be informed, but couldn’t get through even five minutes of it – it’s like nails on a chalkboard. On a funnier note, why is he obsessed with celebrities these days? One of his latest tweets was directed at Jay-Z, and he said “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!”.  Hopefully this is true, although even if it is, can it really be attributed to his policies? There is a big difference between correlation and causation (but that is a topic for another day).

While I was reading at the shared table near the back of the store, I met a woman named Alice who was very chatty and sweet. She said “When I was 80, ….”  Huh?! I couldn’t believe she was actually starting a sentence with “When I was 80”.  She didn’t look a day over seventy. Alice told me that she moved to Ottawa from Victoria Island over ten years ago, and loves it here because everyone is so friendly. She lives close by to Chapters, and comes often to read and meet new people. I hope I run into her again!

My Dad picked me up after a few hours, and we dropped off some books at the library before heading home. The roads were incredibly slippery and snowy – and when I got home I stepped into what must have been at least three inches of snow! It was beautiful. I had to resist jumping in and making snow angels. Overall a fun excursion!

Hmmm what else is new with me? There are many things on my mind these days, some of which I’ll fill you in on in the near future (just send me your positive vibes in the meantime – there is something I am hoping for and the wait is killing me!).

Today is Bell Lets Talk Day, which was created to raise awareness about mental health and to stimulate conversation, reduce stigma, and improve dialogue. For every tweet or text that uses #BellLetsTalk, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health initiatives. It’s around 7 PM right now, and the website shows that there have been over 100 million interactions today (so that is a total of $5 million dollars – wow!). I talked to my friend Mandeep on the phone earlier, and we were discussing the importance of ‘talking’ – not just texting and tweeting and giving the elevator pitch on mental health, but actually striking conversations with strangers, and being friendly, open, and compassionate. I am always amazed that how in Toronto, a city of over 3 million people, it is possible to still feel lonely. No one that is surrounded by that many people should ever feel lonely!

Speaking of isolating experiences, this morning my sister sent me a video about a hypnosis experiment conducted in Netherlands that simulates the experience of being a refugee. In particular, it follows the journey of a female refugee and all that she endured in escaping her country. It was pretty tough watching it and seeing these ordinary people have to endure the torture of this plight, but it helps knowing that they will be relieved of their hardship in only a few minutes. The end of the video is very touching – definitely worth a watch if you have the time:

Well that’s all I have for now, will write some more soon I’m sure!

Hope you all have a great evening!

A Walk To Remember

It was a gorgeous day today, sunny and only -3 degrees! (balmy for January in Ottawa). In the afternoon, my Mom and brother went shopping, my Dad took a nap, and I decided to take a long walk. Well initially I thought it would be a short one, but I ended up walking and exploring for over an hour and a half.

I walked through trails and along roads, to the Beaverbrook plaza, through puddles, and across a little bridge over a stream. I saw many people along the way – a woman out for a walk with her young daughter, a couple taking pictures of the sky, and a girl walking her dog.

At Beaverbrook plaza, I saw that CHEO Autism Services is opening soon. It’s so great that the plaza has become a hub for community services – there is the Lotus Centre which offers music therapy for special needs children, Main Street Community Services, and now CHEO Autism as well. It’s amazing that there are so many resources available for special needs kids and low-income families, and I can only imagine the synergies that will be created between these three organizations.

I walked over to Kumon, hoping to run into my friend Sanjit who runs the centre, but it was closed for the day. I guess the kids get a well-deserved break on Saturdays!

Eventually my legs started to tire and I walked home, snapping photos and selfies along the way. Here are a few:


When I got home, my Dad was in his PJs making tea. I went to my room and lay down on my bed to relax – just as I was getting sleepy, the doorbell rang (my Mom and brother were home), and I heard “Mitttaaaaaa….. I need you in the kitchen!”. Then the real fun began. ;-)

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

 

 

 

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.