Category Archives: Family

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

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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


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


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


Can we talk about something else…please?!

I must admit – there is nothing like having a day to yourself to do whatever it is you want to do. Currently I am sitting in my living room/studio space, sipping on some hot chocolate (made with almond and coconut ‘milk’), enjoying the view of the lake. And I think to my Self *in Louis Armstrong voice* what a wonderful day!

I reflect on the current state of my life and I can honestly say that I am happy. Of course my life is not perfect, and there are things that I am working towards making better, but I feel good about who I am and how I’m living.

There is no shame in that, is there?

For me, there isn’t. For some looking in, I – a woman in her early thirties who lives on her own, has a full-time job, writes and performs poetry, paints, has obtained two degrees, a woman who is LIVING her own life – I have not achieved the two most important (according to THEM) things in any woman’s life. That is I am not married and I do not have any children…yet.

In recent months, the unnecessary conversation with those who ‘know’ me, usually goes something like this:

THEM: “So T, what’s new?”

ME: “Not much, I’m just working and focusing on my paintings right now. I really want to complete enough work to exhibit.”

THEM: “Oh that’s nice. So do you have anyone in your life?”

ME: “I have lots of people in my life.”

THEM: “Well no, do you have that ONE person in your life? You know, it’s time to think about getting married and having children.”

ME: “Um…no I do not.” (And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell YOU. That is what I think, not say.)

THEM: “Well you’re young, you have time.” (Voice full of pity.)

END CONVERSATION.

Now there will be a different interpretation of that exchange depending on who is participating, experiencing or witnessing it. But as the person on the receiving end of the unwanted exchange, I’d like to share how I feel about it.

NOTE: If you are reading this, and you fall into the group of ‘THEM’, I do not hate you. Thank you for reading and learning about MY point of view.

We, as women, are taught by society, culture and family, to look for stability and that the most stable thing we can enter into with a man is marriage, especially if we follow that up by giving birth to other lovely human beings. I began questioning this a long time ago. Since when does a title guarantee stability? Who came up with this ‘idea’ centuries ago? Why do women have to be married and with children to be stable? (And who said that being married means that you will always be happy?) A committed relationship, is a committed relationship. A ring, or a big wedding marking this commitment will NOT make it BETTER. Yes, for those who have exchanged vows in front of their family and friends, have affirmed that it is special but their relationship did not necessarily change for the better. NOR DID GETTING MARRIED MAKE A WOMAN, A BETTER WOMAN (OR A MAN, A BETTER MAN).

Yes, there is value to the institution of marriage. But entering into a marriage or becoming a mother does not necessarily equate to stable and better.

I do NOT think that MY life’s value or my worth as a woman, is determined with/by entry into a marriage and/or motherhood. I am not for or against either. I just don’t want to be married to just anyone nor do I want to procreate with just anyone (or simply for the sake of getting married or procreating). I don’t think my life’s value is decreasing as I get older and am not married or a mother. Nor do I feel the pressure to follow societal, cultural or familial ‘norms’ in any way.

I do not feel self-pity for not being married. I am a complete person and I do live a fulfilling life, even ALONE.

Marriage or motherhood isn’t for everyone.  I am absolutely happy for those around me who are married and/or mothers. I think it’s lovely to experience that. Perhaps one day I will as well. But you better believe that I don’t spend my days imagining or thinking about it. Sure it has crossed my mind and I have spent time thinking about if I’d like to experience either, but at the end of the day, marriage and motherhood is about with WHOM you enter into marriage and create a life with. (At least to me it is.) And you better believe that I DO NOT have an age in my head that I need to ‘achieve’ this.

As individuals, we all have different concerns in life. Being married or having children is not one of mine, at least not at this moment in time.

I have a brain. Like an actual functioning brain. I am capable of thought, and I do exercise that capability. ON A DAILY BASIS. I reflect, I think, I analyse, I consider different ideas, view points, happenings, decisions, etc. As stated above, I have thought about marriage and motherhood but I really don’t feel ‘stuck’ there, in my thoughts. I have two science degrees and actually enjoy reading about physics, chemistry and the cosmos. I read a lot about psychology, physiology and development. Especially physiological development of a fetus…which is also something I had studied in university. I often ponder and am intrigued by the idea of energy. I READ. A LOT. OF REAL BOOKS. Perhaps not the same books you’ve read but I do read. I create. I cook. I exercise. I practice yoga.

So I CAN hold a conversation about things other than the weather….or marriage…or motherhood. Silence does not make me uncomfortable either. And I do know of many other young female professionals who will say the same thing.

There is NOTHING WRONG with discussing marriage or motherhood. At all. Ever. But I do think that there is a need to grasp the idea of other than, which can be considered for conversations, but also for grasping the greatness and capability of a woman. I think that everyone’s path in life is a choice. And just because someone’s choice doesn’t coincide with yours, does not mean that theirs is wrong or bad. It’s just different. I pass no judgement on those who are in a marriage and miserable or those who are miserable because they are not. Those are all individual choices and circumstances. Just because for centuries (and still!), women were placed in a box labeled “WOMAN” which only included the words “WIFE” and “MOTHER” in it, does NOT mean that that is all that a woman is capable of doing or thinking about, or that that IS her actual definition, OR that that is her only value on this planet.

So next time we talk, can we talk about something else…please??

T


One Day, It MUST All Make Sense…

It’s past my bedtime…kind of. I’m sitting up in my bed, with my old laptop on one leg (can’t have both legs go numb…yes my laptop is quite old…but it works!), and with my hair still wet from my shower, I am reflecting. Looking outside of my window, I’ve decided that mother nature is creating some kind of a winter wonderland that we’ll all wake up to. If I look up from my laptop, a painting I bought in India a few years ago, greets me. Even as I write “a few years ago” (which it actually was), I shock my Self, because that trip to India seemed to have happened a lifetime ago. In fact, this entire year, feels like it encompassed more than a few…at  least to me.

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know that for me, 2013 was a tough one. As I reflect back on it, I am still in awe that so much had happened. And yet I am able to look back in pride and say that I DID IT! I not only survived but in some ways, I thrived! And I can honestly say Thank You and FAREWELL! without any regrets, sadness or anger. I’ve learned a lot, and I’d like to share my lessons with you. I’ll list them. Maybe you’ll find something good in them. Maybe you’ll want someone you know to read them. In either case, I am sharing them here, and wishing YOU a VERY Happy New Year!

Much love!

T

“MY BIGGEST LESSONS OF 2013”-LIST:

– finding forgiveness in your heart for whomever hurt you, gives you your power back

– the universe nurtures and protects you when you listen to your heart

– connections with others can come about randomly and unexpectedly, but relationships only willingly

– know your worth and speak your truth

– secrets erode relationships along with your mental health – free your Self of the burden and start healing

– it doesn’t make sense to keep doing what you’ve always done when you’ve learned and grown from who you were before

– if you want it, go for it

– learn to let go…and learn to listen to your Self on WHEN to do so

– NOTHING is promised or guaranteed – not even this moment – find gratitude in everything

– you have to learn to save your Self…often from Your Self

– do you

– there are some really amazing people out there

– not everyone is, nor has to be your friend

– people come to your life for a reason, season or a lifetime – know when to end a season tactfully

– listen to your intuition

– there is nothing wrong with seeking help of a professional (counselor etc) to help you deal or get through something

– family isn’t perfect but that won’t make it or break it – communication, respect and effort (or lack thereof) will

– addiction kills spirits – of the addict but especially of those who allow the addict in their circle

– know and state your boundaries when needed – those who care will respect them

– laughter. is. necessary.

– love can happen when you least expect it but don’t use it as a reason to knowingly start a going-nowhere relationship

– there is SO MUCH MORE to relationships than love

– love DOES NOT make a relationship

– crying is a good release

– do what you love – everything else is secondary

– be with people who make you feel good – anyone else is unnecessary

– don’t be afraid to face your fears – you grow and become so much better as a result

– a good hug goes a long way

– when you follow the truth in your heart, the universe helps to guide you to your dreams

– there are omens for everything

– stop and take in the sights, sounds and (SOMETIMES) scents around you

– take pride in your work

– stand for something

– love. just love.

– honesty really is the way to go

– know your worth

– being present alleviates the stress over what was, and the uncertainty of what will, be

– being present in each moment of now is tough but extremely rewarding and fulfilling

– what often hurts us the most is not expressing our Selves AND the thought of how something SHOULD be

– heart smiles are wonderful

– YOU ARE IMPORTANT

– YOU MATTER

– YOU ARE LOVED

– YOUR ABILITY TO LOVE IS NOT ALTERED OR SUPPRESSED BY PAIN, BUT BY YOUR CHOICE


Slow Dance

Nat King Cole’s voice, his music, his words, make my day better when I hear him. 

It makes sense it’s interwoven into a dream, right?

Dance well.

T

********

I want to slow dance
While Nat King Cole plays
In the background
With my best friend…
In our living room….
Amidst the chaos the day has left behind –
Toys, bibs, papers, – the results of lives
Our love has created.
I want to look into the eyes of my best friend
Before we embrace for our slow dance
And see his heart, his pain, his soul, his love….
I want to still see myself.
As he holds me close,
I want to rest my head on his shoulder
To take in his comforting familiar scent,
In gratitude,
And remember all that it took
For us,
To get to that present moment,
With the knowledge that it was all worth it.
I want to slow dance with my best friend…
Dance…
Slow…

 

Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gETTFM2PCYg


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