Category Archives: Love

A funeral, a workout, and 101 Dalmatians

A vivid memory from my last visit with my baka (grandmother) in Bosnia a few years back:

I was sitting with my baka and her sister, and they were talking about their ascensions. The selection of clothes for their burial was complete long ago, and the clothes were pressed and ready. The selection of their bodies’ resting places at the cemetery were already chosen, bought and paid for, complete with the incomplete story that comes after the “-” on their, you guessed it, chosen, bought and completely paid-for, tombstones. Even their funerals will be of no real financial burden to their families as they have already been paid for in advance.

I sat there taken-aback, listening to them speak so matter-of-factly about their future bodily farewell. The acceptance of, preparedness for, and the peace made with, their eventual deaths did not make me feel morbid or depressed. I mean, yes, there was a moment or two when I felt that they’ve put themselves on a countdown of sorts, but if anything, they made me love life and living, even more. Is it not incredible that in living one has accepted the fact that death is a part of it?

The way we ‘go’ affects those whom we leave behind more. The age at which we ‘leave’ makes a difference too. The age and state of those who remain ‘after’ adds to the light and the tragedy of our ‘departure’. And what does it all truly mean to me?

 

It is always a bit of a strange day when it starts with a funeral. It was set for 10am, my ideal time of awakening on a Saturday. Because it was in Fort Erie, and because I had to meet my parents close to their home, I was up by 6 and out of my house by 7:05am. Dressed in black, because ‘that’s what you’re supposed to wear to a funeral’, it made me even more tired, but who am I to complain? It wasn’t my mother, sister, wife, aunt, daughter, friend, a cancer fighter whose body expired at the age of 47. Yet, I felt tired.

The absence of radio or music during the almost two-hour drive there was fitting, I suppose. There wasn’t the intent of being morbid or sad, as one would expect a mood in such circumstances to be. My parents and I simply talked to each other at times, and at other times drove in silence. Perhaps that’s a sign of true comfort with another – the ability to sit in silence with them. I was fully awake the entire drive there.

The church service, in my perception, was hopeful and light, if that even makes sense, in such circumstances. Her eulogy, delivered by two beautiful women, her nieces, was funny and celebratory of her life. I felt it was lovely that they also read excerpts from Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman poem. Tears were shed but I was fully there. Although the burial itself was private, almost 50 cars saw her off in the funeral procession. Imagine being loved that much.

Perhaps what stayed with me the most was the little reception, after the service and the burial, where those who attended, gathered. There were about five large collages of pictures put together by her family, of different times in her life. And what it reminded us all, is that she lived. I did not cry after that but I did share a few long hugs with others, her family members and relatives. Perhaps the emotional imprint of the morning hit me on the drive home. Without radio or music, I fell asleep.

 

What is the rational thing to do after a funeral? Probably spend time with your family. And I did…after I went to the gym.

It could have been my need to reenergize or to encourage the movement of blood through my body after a few hour drive, that triumphed my lack of motivation in light of the morning’s events to go to the gym. But I did. A quick, hard workout, and a hot shower, does wonders for cleansing the spirit and the body of emotional buildup. At least for me it does.

 

I had made some french macarons the day before, to share with my family Saturday afternoon. Made with love, and loved by all – from my 2 and 5-year-old nieces, to my parents – the macarons were served with tea or coffee alongside the animated classic 101 Dalmatians; a story which reminds us of how far those who love us will go in order to fight for us, to protect us, to save us when we are unable to do so for ourselves, it brought things full circle for me.

 

We rely on our parents to care for us when we are born, until we are old enough to care for ourselves, and eventually they get older and then, we often have to care for them. Not everyone thinks to, or has the means to be prepared for death, the way my baka and her sister have. And that is something that may only come with a certain age, perhaps. However, how we ‘go’, is not something we are able to decide and prepare for ahead of time. Perhaps not all of us will get a chance to say ‘goodbye’ to those we love in the bodies they are in, in this life. Perhaps it will be sudden and we will be unprepared. But if we find our Self in a situation where the loved one who ascends has fought a battle of any sickness, and we were able to say ‘goodbye’, then there is hope. There is hope not that their ‘departure’ will necessarily be lighter, but that our life after they’re ‘gone’, is.

We cannot go back in time and change anything, but in moving forward, a moment at a time, we gain peace with respect to our past, if we so choose to make that effort. Once a body expires, we aren’t able to physically show or express our feelings, thoughts, emotions towards that being. And that knowledge should not hold us, but the memories of the moments we had shared with the being who ‘left’, should lift us. Because they lived, and we shared space and time with them. Because we loved them and they loved us. Because they, nor you, are their/your body. Because energy cannot be created or destroyed, it simply changes forms. Because we still have life and a responsibility to live it and explore, love, share, laugh, dance, travel, write, paint, imagine, cook, listen, taste, breathe, listen to our intuition and follow our dreams. Because our human experience is unique. Because you are free.

 

I spoke with my baka the following day and we talked about the ‘ascension’ of the human being whose funeral I attended. She told me that she cried too. She said “there are too many young people dying today”. Perhaps she’s right – there are too many young people dying today. But what stayed with me are these words I once heard:

“I guess the main lesson would be to love even when you don’t ‘feel like it'”. ~Lenny Kravitz

Love,

T


The Allowance of Change

Photo © T.Nikic 2012

Photo © T.Nikic 2012

 

Happy New Year!!! As we enter this “newness”, perhaps we can entertain the idea of change. At 3am on January 1st, 2015, I had decided that then would be a great time to talk about it, so I posted a video and shared my thoughts. You can watch the entire thing here but here are a few thoughts from my brain to err your electronic computing device you’re reading this post on… :D

 

We want things to change around us, in our life, our relationships, but we don’t allow or embrace for change of others or of our own Self, for that to truly happen. There is an interconnectedness between cause and effect; between who we are and the state of our lives. There is no way that something can change without something else being affected. But we have to be open to it. To allow it. To embrace it. In others, in our life, in ourSelves.

 

“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.” ― Malcolm Gladwell

 

There is something to be said about committing to a project or making a decision and staying true to it in its absolutism until we see it come to fruition or full resolution, however, when it comes to ideas, perception, thoughts…an absolutism ‘state’ does not allow for growth or even learning. We are HUMAN BEINGS. Being human does not equate to perfection or ideal or right or wrong. We are in a constant state of change – from our physical to our emotional states – we are not static. Even when we are absolutely still, there is movement of molecules and atoms in our bodies which we cannot even feel, but it happens. I have taken note of the fact that for many human beings, we get comfortable in being a certain way, in our routines, in thinking a certain way, in our perspectives. However, this form of existence, as comfortable as it is (and it is comfortable because it’s familiar), does not allow for certain lessons to be learned, for a growth (on mental, emotional, spiritual levels), which is necessary for LIVING. And I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this nor am I passing judgement, but I am concerned if we aren’t receptive to hearing someone else’s point of view or idea and we aren’t thinking about it before we make any decision if we’re going to accept it, or reject it, or break it up into bits which seem “right” or “wrong” to us.

 

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”― Aristotle, Metaphysics

It is also a concern of mine that, generally speaking, we group people as “good” or “bad” depending on how we’ve interacted with them. I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. But the truth is, people’s actions and reactions are a reflection of their emotional, mental, sometimes spiritual states (and their level of stress), that they are in at that exact moment in time. We are all capable of making poor decisions. In fact, mistakes are the seeds of great life lessons for many of us. But we cannot apply an absolutism to a person for we, as human beings, truly are too complex for that. As beings with a capacity for sensory stimulation, we are also affected by whatever we are stimulated by visually, mentally, etc., which DOES affect our thoughts, beliefs, reasons, and such. There has to be room for us to say “there walks someone who made a poor decision but they’re still a human being”.

 

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes – it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self… The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” ― Maya Angelou

(NOTE: Of course, I do not condone actions, thoughts, and intentions which hurt people – physically, mentally, emotionally – EVER. But the history of the world has marked perhaps a few hundred, and if we’re being generous we’ll say a thousand, names of people who have done despicable things to other human beings on a large-scale, in all of the history of humans. It was counted that there have been 108  BILLION humans who have walked on Earth, and 7 billion exist today. If you do the math, most humanity is not all that bad. And even the ones who intentionally hurt other people have had a few good thoughts or ideas, I’m sure. For we each have the capacity to do good or bad. Therefore it is a matter of choice. )

I’d like to end this post by extending a big thank you to every single person, in my life, who has made allowance for my own change, for your support, has added altitude to my own flight. Namaste.

Love,

T


Vulnerability…Recovered

 

A page from my journal entry:

“Dec 1st, 2014

I spoke with my sister this evening and I recalled a memory my mom shared with me, of me, when I was a child. My mom described me as this little girl who just did not want to go into the sandbox with the other kids, to play and get dirty, but would instead cross my hands behind my back and observe the other kids playing. It’s an image that parallels a lot of the struggle I experienced as an adolescent, a young woman and an adult in my friendships and relationships with others. I was the observer who didn’t really feel that I BELONGED anywhere, but instead observed others and their interactions, but was somewhat scared of being ‘known’ so I simply kept my true self hidden from others. It wasn’t until recently that I thought about displacement as a result of war (I am from former Yugoslavia, the region of Bosnia), and what that truly did for my spirit, understanding of self and others, my lack of the sense of belonging anywhere, and its effect on any relationship I attempted to participate in, that it dawned on me… THE one thing I thought I wanted, truly wanted, was the one thing I was truly afraid of – BEING LOVED.

 

I was afraid of being loved.

 

Why? Well I did not love or like mySelf for a long time, which is a starting place for reflection. But when I looked into it deeper, I realized that: 1. being loved means that someone is making a ‘commitment’ to me which they may not be able to maintain consistently; and 2. that would involve vulnerability on my end, and on that person’s end, and I simply wasn’t comfortable with it. That basic human essence – birthplace of creativity, love, nurturing and mindful relationships, a true display of courage – was very uncomfortable for me.

 

Why was it uncomfortable? Why is being vulnerable so scary? Because you put your true Self in the spotlight, on display and it may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, so you open your Self up to criticism, rejection, ridicule… Except when you decide to face your fear, be vulnerable in showing who you really are, you find that people respect you more and are more accepting OF you. And that’s love.

 

So I’m stepping forth on my intentions of building mindful, respectful, nurturing, loving relationships, and allowing mySelf to simply BE ME, my true self, in all situations and people I encounter.

 

That does not mean that everyone deserves, or will be given, a backstage pass to my life, but it does mean that the right people will be invited to know ME.”

 

In order to get a hug, you must give a hug…

 

Love, T


A Song Broken Down…

Any form of art we create, has its own life, which is carried by those who receive it with any of their senses. Its life lies in connection with a memory, feelings, a recognition of, and a relation to past experience(s) of the person who is engaging with it, be it via visual or auditory (or taste etc) stimulation. We are human beings. What makes us truly human, in my opinion, is our ability to FEEL. Emotions, feelings, are part of our human experience.

 

Photo ©T.Nikic, 2012

Photo ©T.Nikic, 2012

A very important side note: Our souls don’t ‘feel’. Our souls are a distinct energy which allows us to develop a spiritual awareness during our human experience. We are able to ‘recognize’ souls we’ve met in a previous life or those souls we are inherently connected to (i.e. soul mates). But our souls, even at the moment of recognition of another, do not have the experience of FEELING. But our humanity does. Our souls simply experience an elevation of the vibrational frequency of their energy at this time. That’s something we as humans can FEEL as part of our human experience, but our souls just have an energy ex/change. That is all.

Why am I talking about art, souls and the ability to feel as part of our human experience?? Because of a song I just stumbled upon. Yes, it’s that deep. Why am I going to the extreme of writing a blog post about it? Because it matters and because I recognize our human tendencies of getting caught up in emotions which can subsequently lead to an emotional roller coaster ride. Remember Adele’s Someone Like You? Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You? Or even bits of Rihanna’s Stay ft. Mikky Ekko? If experienced in a misinterpretation, rather in a state of being that is in an uncentered emotional turmoil, those songs could lead to a prolonging of (or the creation of) an attachment to a feeling which is fleeting, as all feelings are. ALL FEELINGS ARE FLEETING. This song, to me, is a more mature, aware, grownup, male version. Oh you’re wondering what song I’m talking about? Read on, please. :)

When I first listened to it, I found the song, like parts of the aforementioned songs, ego based, because initially I felt that it was written from a space where there was an attachment to a person/feeling (as the songs above were). However, after watching the video, and listening to the song on repeat for a few hours, just reflecting and connecting to it, I realized that (or interpreted that) this piece of art was rooted in honesty. I felt that it wasn’t a song about longing for a lost love but a realization that one missed out on the experience of love because he did not allow himself to be vulnerable. He realized too late that his fears and ego prevented him from experiencing LOVE, because he was scared, for whatever reason, and now he is in this melancholy, not regretful, but a very mindful state of awareness: TO EXPERIENCE LOVE, WE MUST BE VULNERABLE WITH ANOTHER, AND OVERCOME OUR FEARS.

 

 

In relationships with another, irrelevant of the intensity of the connection, we have to be emotionally naked in order to truly experience LOVE, with another. After all, in order to receive a hug, we must give a hug. The difficulty for some lies in showing love, but more often than that, it lies in difficulty in receiving love, of ‘allowing’ another to love us. The reasons for this can be complex and are often rooted in our childhood ‘misinterpretation’ of love. But it basically boils down to feeling unworthy of someone loving us. That’s a painful and damaging lie we carry with us, unknowingly sometimes. But this song, as simple as the lyrics are, describes that realization, of the fact that he did not experience that closeness with her because he couldn’t go there with her, on an emotional level. His ego led him to think that she’d come running back to him, but she found happiness with someone who wasn’t scared to go THERE – to be open, and honest, and vulnerable on an emotional, spiritual and mental level. He held on to that ‘ego thought’ until he realized that the reason it didn’t work out between them, was because of his fears and ego holding him back from that soul baring nakedness, that is needed to experience such closeness with another human being. He is grieving the death of his fears, as he realizes that those fears are what was ‘killing’ him, his spirit, and his ability to experience LOVE, with another.

 

I have shared my breakdown of this song because I wanted to remind all of us that in order to experience LOVE with another, we MUST not just be vulnerable and courageous enough to love another, but also be vulnerable and courageous in allowing another to love us. I wrote this because I want to see people engaged in mindful, loving, and emotionally fulfilling relationships, myself included. Of course there is more to relationships than this – they take work. But imagine if we based them on, and built them in a sacred space of honesty, vulnerability, and soul baring nakedness? I bet there’d be more happy people walking around…

Love liberates. Love doesn’t bind. Love liberates.

 

And no, it will not eradicate powerful art. If anything, it may feed and fuel the creation of more art, that’s even more touching and powerful.

 

Oh and about the song that inspired this post? Click here to hear it.

Peace and love,

T

 

 


The Dream Effect

Poetry, like dreams, stem from some truth –

a feeling, a thought, a perspective, an experience.

I cannot tell if my dream stemmed from a poem, 

or if this poem stemmed from a dream.

But it bloomed…and I hope your being

blooms, too.

Love, T

*****

 

 

I had the most beautiful dream

the other night.

It was a dream that stemmed from,

and exuberated, LOVE.

And I mean LOVE.

Pure and true.

And real! So very real!

 

The love of my life

was in my dream

and he was happy.

I mean HAPPY.

His smile, warm and contagious,

lighting up his face in a way

I always wanted to remember him by.

He was healthy too.

Healthy and happy.

Is there a better combination of state,

to have one BE,

in life?

I don’t know if there is

anything much better than that.

Truly.

It was a sight to see…

He was the way you would wish

someone you love

TO BE, but really,

to feel.

He was always beautiful,

to me,

but in this dream,

he was shinning.

Bright.

It felt amazing

to see him in that

light.

 

And it wasn’t just he

who was in my dream,

although he stood out

from the rest.

It was a home,

full of happy people.

My home.

My family.

 

Exhilarating.

It was an exhilarating dream.

It lifted me to a high that spilled

over into my

reality.

Not because it gave me hope

that my love and I will

BE,

one day.

But because my love

was healthy and happy.

I couldn’t wish him

anything other than

health and happiness…

 

I hope my dream

turns into his reality,

into YOUR reality,

into YOUR love’s reality…

health and happiness,

from my dream,

to your being.

 

 

Live.

Love.

Learn.

Grow.

Let go.

 

 

Fly.

 

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

Photo and edit © T.Nikic 2014


VOICE

 

 

This poem is for every person,

who is scared, that there may not be

something even better out there.

There is.

Fly!

T

**********

When the heart is in your throat,

Where does your voice go?

I wonder, darling,

Do you love me enough,

to let me go?

To let me be?

To leave me in my flight of life?

 

The truth is so clear to me:

What we had was special,

Deep,

Real,

Sweet…

And bittersweet.

 

But I taste the lack of lifetime in it,

Every time I think of it.

Of you…

Even though I know,

You still haven’t fully let go of it,

of me.

 

It’s not something I can help you do,

It’s a choice;

An understanding and respect of love.

A knowing that one must let go of a love,

Because love is free,

And everlasting.

 

Perhaps it’s not easy for you to see this,

but I must let you know:

Daffodils bloom,

only in springtime.

Just like my love for you,

It bloomed only once.

Our love, was never my lifetime.

 

We are done now,

Have been for a while,

So let it go;

Let me be.

I am a bird in the sky.

I was meant to be free.

 

I hope you figure out

your own flight,

and soar the skies,

enjoy the horizons.

It’s beautiful up here.

Believe me.

 

Go on, love.

We are both free.

 


My 5th…

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

On the 15th of August 2009, I followed through with a decision I had made which had ended a reality, that for me, I did not fully understand how it came to be. I mean I had understood that the choices I had made actually contributed to it, but it seemed like something you’d see in a movie or a music video or something not real life, and definitely not MY life….

On that day, five years ago, I had moved out from the apartment I had shared with my ex boyfriend. It was a space I had tried to make into a home, but I was sharing it with someone who did not understand what that means, and I’m not sure he quite experienced HOME, in the full sense of the word, himself. This person, who I had spent two and a half years of my life with up until that day I moved out five years ago (the last 11 months of which we shared that space together), contributed to the misery and terror of the energy that space carried. I did not know what a mature, mindful, nurturing, adult relationship should look like, nor did he. My perception and understanding of love was absolutely skewed and his was very superficial. But I had wanted a home outside of what my parents had provided at that time (no it was not bad, I was simply ready to leave) and I had chosen him because….because I was young, and stubborn, and felt like I had something to prove to somebody, and because I was in my mid 20s which meant I should be in a stable relationship and think about marriage and kids and a house….but also because I was stuck on all of those ‘wants’ and I just went with the guy who seemed to have been really into me.

I had ignored all the signs which said “this guy is lost and hurt, and he will hurt you”. I ignored the proof that the universe was sending my way to warn me that this guy is not a person of heart, integrity, honesty or truth. (But who am I kidding – back then, neither was I – I was lying to my Self the entire time.) I ignored those signs because I wanted what I wanted and that was that. I don’t need to tell you the details of that situation for you to truly relate to it, do I? You’ve been there too. We all get there at some point. And then something happens and we snap our Self back to reality. I awakened to the reality of my life not long before the day I had moved out. As soon as you know better, you start to do better. My ‘better’ at that time, was to leave, which was the right thing to do. But I didn’t bargain on all the Self work that I had to do since then.

 

I’ve not been in a serious relationship after that one. It has taken me five years of soul-searching, of getting to my truth, of growth, of learning, of dealing with my past (and unexpectedly with other issues I was not aware of), to become a human being I am proud of. I love me. I respect me. I honour my soul, my spirit, my heart, my mind, but most importantly, I have learned to not just listen to my intuition but to follow it and allow it to guide me. Yes, it took me five years to do all of that. It takes a long time to return to your Self after you lose yourSelf and allow someone to break you down. It’s not about anyone else’s journey or experience that we have to live out, but our own.

 

My return back to self involved many incredible travel experiences (including India, a solo trip to Europe and a few other destinations), great books by human beings who have also gone through turmoil in their life (Maya Angelou, Paulo Coelho, Brenda Shoshanna, David Richo, Bell Hooks, Rumi, Sonia Sanchez, Pablo Neruda, just to name a few), teachers and lessons who came in forms of strangers and friends sometimes, a great counselor who provided therapy that was right for me, and as part of my human experience, I also made some bad decisions from which I had chosen to learn from.  The biggest returns to my Self involved starting this blog and sharing my love journey with the world (so to speak) through writing and poetry, my engagement in the poetry community via performances, and my rediscovery for my love of arts, being creative and painting. I really spent time with me, getting to know me, facing the mirror and stepping up to the ownership of MY being.

 

Solitude is necessary for getting to know one’s Self after going through any experience where one has lost their Self. Read again: Solitude is necessary for getting to know one’s Self after going through any experience where one has lost their Self. Just once more: Solitude is necessary for getting to know one’s Self after going through any experience where one has lost their Self. I’m not saying withdraw from the world and become a monk (although for some, that is what they feel they have to do), but really spend quality time with YOU without any stimulants or distractions. Yes, it can be painful and hard, but YOU are worth your journey back to YOUR SELF. And let’s face it – it is YOUR work to be completed by YOU.

 

As much as solitude is necessary, we have to be mindful of the fact that we are our relationships. Translation: the circle of people around me changed as I got back to me. And that was perfectly okay. Sometimes, we outgrow people, sometimes they remove themselves from our life, and at other times, we remove our Self from their life. So long as I engaged with others always with the intention of learning something from that interaction, the ‘goodbye’ wasn’t sad, and was often simply organic and necessary. Letting go of what no longer makes sense, is part of our return to self, too. That may include some friendships and relationships.

 

The greatest thing that I can say, has happened during these last five years for me, is the understanding that the essence of our spirit, is love. My return to love truly allowed my soul to soar and reach incredible heights. I am so glad that I didn’t give up on my Self, and as tough as I have been on me, I really like and love, me. And that was the point of all of this.

 

 

Much thanks to every soul who was a part of my journey thus far. I love you.

Fly, love!

T


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