Category Archives: Death

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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Photo © T.Nikic 2015

Photo © T.Nikic 2015

 

 

Dearest,

 

I am not sure you are my dearest of them all, but I guess once upon a time, you were. I write you this from the heart of that space, reflected upon in the space and time I exist in now. It’s illuminated by wisdom and forgiveness, and oh so much growth. And peace. Beautiful peace. I do not know this for sure, but I think you may still be in search of it, in your own way.

 

I realize I’ve started this letter rather abrupt…

 

I hope that you are well. I hope that you are happy.

 

F*ck it, it doesn’t matter anymore, wishing you well. You’re going to portray what you think I want to see, not the truth, although I somehow always seemed to have been able to piece together your reality. The reality that you painted in numb strokes that only a fool would see emotionless. Your choice of colours was often a reflection of what you thought was how I’d want to see you. It seemed you’d forget that each hue had its base colour; one I picked out through the haze you layered it in. Darling, your attempts to escape into a world you wanted me to enter, was too small for us both and too empty for me to live in. The deeper you went into it, the more sure I was of my exit from you. I felt as if you had wrapped beautiful silk thread around me, which seemed warm and cozy at first, but then started to suffocate me. It took every ounce of strength I had in my mind, body, and spirit, to break through it and escape. You had wrapped me in your strokes and colours so tightly that I was not sure if any of it was real. All I could do was run as far and as fast away from you as possible until I was sure I was safe to rest and recover. It took a while it seems to regain my strength, and when I did I just kept moving forward without you. I scrubbed away any traces of your colours on my being and burned them the same way one burns old photos – there is no thought or emotion involved in knowing that you’re erasing history, you just do it and allow the wind to spread the ashes wherever it feels like. The thing of it is, sometimes, even if you burn the photos, some stay engrained in your memory, whether you want to remember or not….

 

Truth be told, I type this teary eyed. In my memory is a photograph of a breezy, starry summer night. We are sitting across from each other, eating popcorn and sharing stories. Our night is filled with laughter and tears, both sad and happy. The magic of the evening is interrupted only by the wind…or maybe the wind is what brought it? I recall the stories from that night, but there is where I allow them to rest. The wind seemed to have been in sync with our words, bringing ghosts from our past to the appropriate moments in our conversation. They added to the beauty and tragedy of it all. I recall the twinkle of the North Star because it was there that night, in your eyes, along with the truths I realized for the first time. These truths have stood the test of time.

 

The first is that we loved each other, truly, madly, deeply, with every unearthed bits of our souls. The warmth of that night encapsulates me.

 

The second is that I knew then that our love was only going to manifest a tragedy more profound than Shakespeare could have written, if we ever tried. No emotion evoked.

 

The third is one that I am able to see today and not before – it was real. Peace.

 

 

 

Sweet dreams,

T.


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


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

 

 


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.

 


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.

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

*
“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


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