Category Archives: Books

Blue, not true.

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

“FEED YOURSELF.” – Mike D.

I heard those words a few weeks ago and they truly were the most poetic thing I had heard that day. In the context of the conversation to which they were offered, perhaps it was a reference to food, but they resonated much deeper. See, in all things we choose to do, the people we interact with, the time we spend doing things which make us happy, the foods with which we nourish our bodies, I recognize that we do in fact feed ourselves on different levels. Spiritual, mental, emotional, physical states of being are deeply interconnected, in my experience and opinion. It’s not so much that one aspect of our being feeds the other, it’s that all feed and depend on each other for its wellbeing. It’s deep, right?

The state of our world is a concern for myself and many others – the way that we hurt each other and the reasons with which we excuse hurting each other, is simply wrong. The words we speak and the acts we commit, make me think about what it is that we, as human beings, reflect in those behaviours. Are we actually saying that we truly hate another, or do we hate ourselves so much that we don’t have the capacity for acceptance or love of another? I do not think that I have an answer to that question that doesn’t require pages of discussion involving psychology, history, philosophy, spirituality, emotional and mental health, our societal norms and pressures, in the hopes of even touching on a plausible explanation, although I will say that I believe that our lack of love for our own Selves has been the root of much of the chaos reported on the internet, newspapers, radio and news channels as of late.

But in all the ways that we intentionally hurt another, we also mark others with scars. We may think that we don’t, but we do. And those scars affect not just the person who bears them, but all the people they interact with. How I understand scars is a reflection of my personal experience and knowledge, although it may resonate with you.

Scars are not erasable. They may look less noticeable with time, care and healing, but a scar will never be exactly like the space it inhabited. The scar will tug at certain parts of your being you’ve tried to put aside or forget, a memory often triggered unintentionally by a song, a word, a photo you come across, which brings back the feelings, ALL the feelings, interwoven in the scar. Maybe those feelings no longer take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride like they once did, but you still FEEL it. That’s hard for anyone to fully accept or make peace with – for the ones bearing the scar and the one seeing it, trying to understand it. Because you cannot possibly explain or articulate why that scar is there, who scarred you, why it still affects you although you’ve forgiven and let go, that doesn’t take both people there. And that scar could have many names – death, rape, verbal/physical/mental abuse, racism, sexism, murder… – all translating to one thing: p a i n . You may not acknowledge it as that, but it is how we, human beings, process it.

 

 

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Be mindful of what you feed your Self with, what you feed others, and what you accept from others. Scars run deep.

 

Love,
T

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Honouring Dr Maya Angelou

 

"The rose is without why, It blooms because it blooms, It cares not for itself, Ask not if it is seen"~Johannes Scheffler  (Photo © T.Nikic)

“The rose is without why,
It blooms because it blooms,
It cares not for itself,
Ask not if it is seen”~Johannes Scheffler
(Photo © T.Nikic)

June 28th will mark one month since Dr Maya Angelou’s passing. I have wanted to write this since, but I simply wasn’t ready. I suppose you could say that I needed some time to process and reflect on the lessons I gained from her books, her poetry, her wit, her wisdom, her grace.

 

This blog was inspired by her. In fact the title, ARainbowInTheClouds, was inspired by the words I heard her speak in person. The very first blog post is about the time I saw Dr Angelou speak in Toronto. (You can read it here: http://wp.me/p1AZhb-6 .)

 

I watched the live streaming of Dr Angelou’s wake on June 7th+8th at home (you can watch it here: http://new.livestream.com/wfu/angelou ). I cried through most of it. It was such a wonderful celebration of joy, which she exuded much of. There were some powerful and amazing things said about Dr Angelou which I noted.

 

“As long as we have time, we should keep the courage to begin again.”~Bill Clinton sharing what he learned from Dr Angelou.

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“When I look at you, I am really looking at mySelf in a different costume.”~Oprah sharing what Dr Angelou taught her.

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“Anything that diminishes a human being, diminishes all of us.”~Guy Johnson on what his mother taught him.

 

 

After her passing, I went through my own meditation and reflections of her lessons, which I did through this sketch of her:

Dr Maya Angelou Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper

Dr Maya Angelou
Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper

 

The greatest honour, I believe, that Dr Angelou was given at her wake is this one:

 

“Sequined in the black velvet sky of night,

shines a star with fiery hot, fire possessed,

leading all those who wish to claim what is right

to look within themselves and find their best.

Over my life shines this glorious beacon,

lighting my path through the dark shadow land.

With this as my guide

I shall not weaken my strive

to be a strong but gentle man.

Others had been led by its incandescence

to be more than mere flesh and bone.

To love and be loved is its true essence

for only the heart can change this world of stone.

Thus fortune graces me like none other

for this star,

this nova,

is my mother.”~Guy Johnson’s poem for his mother, Dr Maya Angelou

 

 

Dr Angelou, you believed that words are things which seep into everything – walls, hair, hearts, spirit. There are not enough words to express the gratitude I feel in my heart for the love, lessons, life and wisdom you shared with the world. I agree with you – courage is the most important of all the virtues. It takes courage to love, to speak the truth, to forgive, to engage in our own soul flight. As I am typing this, I am watching birds in flight, high in the sky, and I am reminded, once again, why the caged bird not only sings, but is free – we all are, when we learn how to fly the wings of our soul, our spirit. Thank you.

Love,

T

 

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word LOVE, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”~Maya Angelou


How To Be An Adult In Relationships…

I have chosen to write a conversation piece over a poem this week for personal reasons. I feel that this post is necessary.

I’d like to discuss the impact a book has made on my life and why I (and my friend B) think that everyone should read it. It’s called “How To Be An Adult In Relationships” by David Richo.

My friend B and I have made this book our relationship bible because it guided us both in our individual growth periods. It’s a book which is to be read at your own pace as it is deep and because it addresses many different issues relevant to having a healthy relationship with oneself first and foremost, which then leads to a healthy relationship with other people. It takes you on a reflective journey of your past experiences and allows you room to decide what it is that you want for yourself as an individual and in relationships while teaching you tools in how to go about doing that. The book has been a saving grace for many of our friends who’ve also read it. I’ve given this book as a gift to a few people including my mother and sister. It does not matter how old you are, what you’ve gone through or where you find yourself currently in life. If you’re struggling with personal issues, unresolved pain or painful situations, OR if you are in a happy relationship this book is relevant.

I want to let you know that if you feel like you don’t have a good grasp of your life or your emotions, if you feel that you’re at a crossroads of sorts, if you feel that your life is a bit of a mess or that you fail at having successful relationships, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’ve ALL gone through “stuff”, experienced pain, been disappointed, have been unsuccessful at something. But the thing is, you CAN overcome all of that IF YOU TRY and do the work.

Since reading the book “How To Be An Adult In Relationships” by David Richo, I’ve become more aware of my reactions, my actions and the words I use when communicating with other people. It is difficult, however, after doing all that work and going through the growth process which the book guides you through, to not pass on the knowledge and tools learned from it in helping other people, which is why I’m writing about it. I would like to note, however, that this isn’t directly from the book but these are some of the things which I’ve become aware of while reading it.

Some of the things which I learned about myself while reading this book have helped me return to a place of peace within. Don’t get me wrong – my life is not all roses and like everyone else, I also go through problems and difficult situations. It’s just that I’ve been able to stand in the midst of it all and be at peace. I suppose there were other things I did while reading this book which helped me but because that is an individual and personal choice, I choose not to disclose those as not to skew anyone’s perception. What I will say is that ANY type of creative expressions, activities which help you focus or remain calm, should be engaged while doing this work on Self.

I feel that this book has given me tools and guided me in dealing with and understanding my emotions and feelings better. That is a big deal. So many people out there are riding emotional roller coasters which creates unnecessary drama not just for them but for people whom they deal with. I’ve read many books and have done plenty of work on myself prior to reading Richo’s book, but after making the commitment to really work through it, I was able to elevate my own sense of self in the way I conduct myself, in how I see myself and in who I am in relationship type situations. (Note: this book is highlighting non-platonic relationships but it’s applicable to ANY kind of relationship – family, friend, romance, business, professional etc – because it will strengthen the relationship you have with your Self and make you more aware of your actions, words and reactions towards others.)

Another thing that the book helped me with tremendously was making peace with, and understanding my past. By doing the work laid out by Richo, I was able to grasp how certain things which occurred during my childhood, teenage years and early adult life (that includes situations which happened in different types of relationships) affected me emotionally, how it affected my current relationships and more importantly, it helped me sort through things that I was holding on to which had a hold on ME – i.e. my actions, reactions and words towards other people. Take a moment and honestly ask yourself how many of us actually do that? Most people run away from their past (which turns into a lot of baggage later on in life) instead of actually sorting through it and dealing with it before moving on to another situation. THIS IS IMPORTANT WORK, in my opinion and I encourage everyone to do it.

You may find another way to do your work which will work for you, but if you’re unsure of where to start or how to go about it, I strongly recommend that you go and pick up “How To Be An Adult In Relationships” and start working towards creating the life you want to live, by being who you are or want to become, and having the kinds of relationships that you want to have.

Love, T

PLEASE NOTE: I am not an advertiser nor do I have any affiliations with the publishing company or the author. This is simply me practicing my “sharing is caring” mantra.


I am a lady…do YOU understand ME?

Let’s talk about something real…or is it real? I confess – I bought and read Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” when it first came out and read it cover to cover…twice. When it was published, I had just got out of a long-term relationship. Okay, it wasn’t a very good one and I don’t really want to use the word ‘relationship’ to describe it because I don’t think it was a grown-up RELATIONSHIP, as in between a man and a woman…but I digress. Tonight I watched the movie, based on the book, called “Think Like A Man”. It was funny. It was cute. It was real. But to me, it was also missing something…

Man. Woman. The ying and the yang? Venus and Mars? Opposite sexes? Penis and vagina? Depending on where  you’re at in life you might use one of those to describe the relation/link (or difference) between the two, but the truth remains – we are unique.

Now I do agree with Mr Harvey – men are hunters and women the hunted. I also agree with Mr Harvey that men do chase the p**sy and yes it does run the world. The way he broke it down about standards, and ensuring that women lay them down from the beginning, is true…but REAL women KNEW that already. The truth is every REAL man and every REAL woman have standards and they stand in their own integrity to maintain them no matter what the situation is, nor whom it involves. I think that the book and the movie are good guides to say someone who is in their 20s and has really just started ‘dating’, to understand what it means. However, the thing that I didn’t really care too much for is the fact that it has been broken down, and presented as a game.

Personally, I hate playing games and it’s not that I don’t think that people play them but REAL men and REAL women, don’t have time for that s*it. They’re either in or they’re out. And guess what THAT is based on? It’s not about waiting 90 days to sleep with someone, or about forcing him to grow up, or about making an ultimatum to put you first, nor is it about getting him to put a ring on your finger. The truth is, well what I believe is that it’s about connections, deep connections actually, and the right timing. And THAT is something that NO ONE can give you guidance or clear-cut rules about. In fact, when something like that happens, your life becomes a love song, and a romantic movie, and a romance novel because it is something which changes your whole perception of what the world is truly about. You feel like a teenager again – you know that time in your life where you had dreams and aspirations and you felt able to achieve them all? Yes, THAT connection aka true, unconditional love. And you know what happens when a MAN and a WOMAN connect deeply at the right time and find unconditional love with each other? They commit to one another on every level and they work as a team to live the life that they decide on. They respect each other and they nurture each other’s love. They live. Not happily ever after, because one, nothing is promised and two, life isn’t always great. But they live through the good and the bad, and the happy and the sad and they work hard to grow together and give the needed amount of time and energy to their RELATIONSHIP.

And you know what else is real? When you meet ‘the one’…you will just know. The belief of that truth and that feeling will radiate through your entire being and you will know that you have never been more sure of anything in your entire life.

But that only happens when YOU and your love are both READY.

If you’re just dating, it is useful to read “Think Like A Lady, Act Like A Man” and the movie “Think Like A Man” is a good one to watch. But before you apply any of those ‘rules’, get to know yourself and understand where you are in life. ‘Cuz if you really are in tune with you, you’ll be honest enough to admit to yourself what YOU need to work on in order to PREPARE yourself to have someone by your side.

T


LOVE, FEELINGS AND ALL THAT JAZZ…

“I’d like to run away
From you,
But if you didn’t come
And find me…
I would die.”
― Shirley Bassey

Some would argue the following but I think one big thing that distinguishes humans from other species is that we are emotional beings. Our ability to feel is precisely what drives us to do what we do – be it in our career choices, creative expressions, our interests but most especially the people who we choose to spend time with. So it is safe to say that we aren’t able to really and truly live if we don’t feel…wait, is that actually possible – not to feel?!

I have been blessed with an old soul which some have humbled me by equating it to wisdom. And T’s ‘wisdom’ has been taking some notes in the last couple of years as my own work on Self has been progressing. AND since sharing is caring….read on! 😉

I have become aware of the increase in the number of people who are walking around ‘not feeling’. Some of them walk around shuffling their feet, others putting on the biggest smiles, some yelling and screaming at anyone they can, but most of them are ‘normal people’ just like you and I, walking around doing ‘normal people’ things in ‘normal people’ ways. Yet I can never turn away from their gaze without seeing that glaze over their eyes which to me, just screams…well it screams many things – fear, pain, self removed from the world. Now remember, you would never be able to know what it is that that person has gone or is going through. The only thing that you will sense is their emotional disconnect which makes it hard for them and for you to effectively connect/relate to and communicate with each other.

Take a minute and think – have I just described you or someone you know? Don’t stop reading – you are not being judged. I still think that you are amazing. Take a big breath and remember, you are not alone.

Just like a person has many layers to them, some of which aren’t always complimentary but are actually contradictory, so do feelings! Every emotion we feel has its own truth, time and place. It’s not about breaking down the emotion and labelling it as good or bad, but taking it as what it is and allowing it to be expressed in an objective way – similar to different aspects of our personality, huh? The thing is, we’re not always taught how to deal with emotions, communicate our feelings or express them in a way that doesn’t consume our whole being so we take it to the extreme – either by getting completely lost in them and allowing them to control our actions and reactions OR by suppressing them. Being someone who has done both, I can honestly tell you that neither of them are healthy for any part of our being.

Getting lost in my emotions paved the way for draining, incoherent arguments which were damaging to the relationship and both parties involved. They would leave both people feeling absolutely exhausted and confused as to how things escalated to that point. I understand now that I was holding on to feelings from the past I hadn’t dealt with, which actually had nothing to do with the conflict I was dealing with at the moment, but because these emotions (past and present combined) were overwhelming for me, I couldn’t see myself outside of myself nor outside of my emotions….well until someone who I love and highly respect pointed it out to me and literally changed my life (shout out to S.A.M.!).

I’ve also suppressed feelings which…well to be honest I suppressed feelings which made me feel pain, embarrassment, anxiety, but I also suppressed love. You see, as a result of an unhealthy relationship, combined with unique childhood circumstances, death of my hero, and a splash of growing pains which I simply ran away from, I blocked myself from feeling. I didn’t think I did this of course because I was still social, and fun, and did things, and travelled, and interacted with people….except that I wasn’t really able to BE. It was as if, I kept myself busy with everything that I felt was good for me, just so I don’t have to feel certain things. ‘WHY?’ you ask? Because I was scared.

I feared feeling. Not only did feeling lead me to emotions that I didn’t understand how to handle in a healthy way, but it also led to pain – “Even when I loved, it sometimes hurt so why would I do that again?”, I thought. But the thing that broke my carriage was all that heavy baggage…and garbage. You see, we can only suppress feeling any emotion for so long. At some point you come to realize that something is just not quite right because that ‘success mountain’ (success could be any personal advancement, be it love, career or family) whose top you’ve been trying to reach has suddenly quadrupled in size because you have too much ‘stuff’. And then you realize that you gotta stop and take a break wherever it is that you are at that point to sort through all of that ‘stuff’ which you’ve been carrying around and not dealing with.

Now I’m going to keep it real here – sorting through your ‘stuff’ is NOT easy, it is A LOT of work and it’s NOT always fun! However, very quickly after engaging in the process (which by-the-way is unique to everyone), you start to realize how much lighter you feel, how much more meaningful your interactions with others become, and most importantly you realize how much you’ve grown. No longer is the ‘child’* inside of you, who does not have the right tools, experience or knowledge to deal with emotions, telling you to hide, but you’re actually consoling it and nurturing its growth and maturity. You took your ‘child’ emotional state by its little hand, and walked it along the path of love really.

I can already sense some readers thinking “Love?! What’s love got to do with any of this? We’re talking about not feeling here! Stay on point T!” but the truth is to truly love anyone, including Self, we have to love ALL – the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, the ‘happy’ and the ‘sad’, the ‘angry’ and the ‘forgiving’, the ‘serious’ and the ‘goofy’….that’s called UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. And if we’re suppressing our emotions because some of them don’t make us feel good, then it’s the same as not accepting the multitude of layers of our personality – we cannot love unless we embrace and accept ALL. Our feelings and emotions are reflections of us and truths of who we really are. They’re not always going to be lovely and nice. They’re just going to BE. And we have to allow them to be and feel them in order to climb the ‘success mountain’ which has now become almost a flat plain with bumps and hills and mountains and valleys along the roads but it’s not so draining walking it anymore. The ‘stuff’ isn’t heavy now and we’re so much more fit for any rough terrains and weather conditions…well that’s been my experience anyway.

I would not be who I am today if I didn’t have all that ‘stuff’ but I would not be able to keep going if I didn’t deal with it.

Love yourself, embrace and feel your emotions, and LIVE your life fully.

T

*I use the word ‘child’ here not because it is a reference to things from our childhood but to highlight the fact that, in a way, not dealing with our stuff and not feeling OR allowing our emotions to control our actions and reactions, suggests that we are in a child-like emotional state and that there is a need for growth. It is not meant to be derogatory or bad or to make anyone feel bad – after all, that is how I would have described my young Self – but it’s just my perspective.


C Challenged Me

Picture of a Buddha Painting taken at Delhi Airport January 16th, 2011

What should you know about my friend C? He is one of those people who will tell me everything that I don’t want to, but need to hear. He is honest and straight forward and never sugar-coats anything. He is a true friend. In addition to of all that, he likes to challenge me in my way of thinking. The volume of our voices, during our telephone conversations, may make people wonder if there is a need for us to use a telephone at all. But the friendship goes both ways so I can be just as much of a pain-in-the-derriere as he is sometimes. 😉

I was running short on topics for this week’s blog as the current stories of my life are not ripe enough to be shared so I asked C for an idea. He suggested that I write about “knowing that where you are in life right now is not where you would like to be but that is exactly where you are”….

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People read self-help books all the time and I’ve read one or two myself. With every visit to the bookstore, I take note of how big the self-help book section is! Clearly, there is a market for them and people are reading them. On the streetcar last week, I noticed a man reading a self-help book on realizing your dreams and for some reason or another, that image stayed with me and planted a pondering seed in my head.

Thoughts of self-help books on realizing your dreams raised some feelings and questions like: Do we really need them? Perhaps they are good for providing us the tools to achieve things we want to, but are unsure of how to go about doing so. But what is really fundamental in achieving your dreams? For me, three things came to mind:

1. Knowing them.

Perhaps this is kind of obvious but it is important to state. Often, many of us are unsure of what it is that we want to obtain or achieve. I think that not knowing what you want is not always a bad thing as it allows you the freedom to explore and try new things in order to figure it out. I don’t think it has to be just one thing we have to settle on achieving in life, especially since most individuals have many different interests and talents. But I do think that there is an absolute need to decide what it is YOU want…which inherently feeds into the second and the third point I came up with.

Please note: having more than one thing on that list is, in my opinion, absolutely great!

2. Being conscious of them.

Perhaps this is more subtle but in my opinion very important. It is about being aware of the fact that whatever you are doing right now is in fact shaping the outcome of the dreams you have set out for yourself. At the same time, I think that it is important to understand the big picture in its relation to the ultimate goal by knowing that the journey to get there may not reflect it at times but is nevertheless imperative in it becoming a reality.

3. Learning yourself.

Sounds funny, right? How does one “learn oneself”?

It’s a bit of a soul-search, in my opinion. It’s a whole lot of nothing but it incorporates everything. Your thoughts and mindset. Your experiences. Interactions with others. Big one is: facing your fears.

From my personal experience it’s about breaking down all your opinions, feelings, thoughts, (current or of the past) with respect to how those came about and why they are so. It’s about questioning everything but accepting it for what it is and allowing yourself forgiveness for that which is inherently you and changing that which does not make you happy.

I also think that this can be done in many different ways. We could read books (not just self-help books but fiction as well – a great example of one is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho), talk to friends, go to therapy, listen to music, or allow whatever creative outlets we have (ex painting, writing, playing an instrument, drawing, photography, etc) to guide us. I can say, from personal experience, and trying different avenues, that each has a fitting place, time and circumstance.

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I do not think there is a right or wrong on the journey of life or that of ‘knowing yourself’ as we are all so different in how we learn, process or understand information, as well as in the ‘way we deal’ with whatever comes our way. I think it’s important to note that knowing your dreams, being conscious of them and learning yourself are not inclusive of each other but are very much interdependent and interconnected. I do not think that it’s about placing focus on one but not the other at any point in time, but rather it’s about allowing your innermost sense of self to guide you in all three ‘ventures’.

I think that sometimes, when we feel that we are in a place in life where we do not want to be, it can either motivate us for the better, or consume us to the point where we feel ‘lost’, overwhelmed and sometimes even depressed. Maybe, just maybe, by finding peace in your right now and understanding it as a part of your journey, it’ll give you strength and uplift you to push ahead and take another step forward. But just like everything else in life, this too, is a choice.

T

NOTE: I am NOT an expert on anything. I am only sharing what I have learned to work for me. I am however encouraging EVERYONE to follow the truth in their hearts.


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