Category Archives: Public Talk

Searching For Light

Favourite books I read as a kid were stories about ancient civilizations. Stories about humans of far away lands with rich cultures and heritages. That being said, I did not hear the words racism or slavery spoken until we moved to Canada from former Yugoslavia in 1993. I was almost 12. In an immigrant family household, survival was the main priority (we were refugees for over a year as a result of war prior to the big move across the ocean). As a 12 year old girl, I was figuring out who I was while at the same time learning about the society we were now living in. We moved to a diverse and multicultural neighbourhood and it was reflected in the students of the middle school and then high school I attended. In fact, I was a minority amongst students in a high school of just over 700 who attended, and looking back on it, I was blessed. I learned about the richness of different cultures from around the world and experienced beauty, intelligence, creativity and friendship of human beings who were mostly not white. I also felt like I was amongst my people – people who were new immigrants or first generation Canadians, people who were trying their best to study and set themselves up for some sort of a stable future, like I was.

We are shaping our tomorrows by the choices we make today. And we are accountable for those choices.

Fast forward to 2020. I am a healthcare worker who works in an inner city trauma health centre, on the frontlines of a pandemic. It is mid-June and the last time I hugged a human being was mid-March. With the exception of my brother who I’ve seen in person three times from a six feet distance, the humans I regularly interact with at work and the essential workers at the grocery stores and market I see weekly, I’ve only spoken to my friends and family via text, phone or video call. At work, I wear a mask at all times except when on break. We are advised to social distance with one another, and I wear full PPE (gloves, gown, mask, face shield, bouffant) when in contact with any patient for their exam. I’m dehydrated often and I’ve had many breakouts as a result of wearing a face mask for long stretches of time. I developed contact dermatitis on my forearms from a hand sanitizer with a high alcohol content. I am constantly tired and find it difficult to catch my breath at times (I’m basically rebreathing my own carbon dioxide for seven hours a day, five days a week). I’ve been swabbed twice for COVID19 and was negative both times, thankfully. (In case you’ve not experienced it, it feels like someone is trying to tickle your brain for five seconds.) As a healthcare worker, I am at high risk for contracting COVID19 as I come in direct contact with patients who are being tested for or are positive for the virus, yet the current Ontario government did NOT include my profession in the pandemic pay. As a healthcare worker I feel a social responsibility to be very diligent in practicing social distancing outside of my home, for I could be an asymptomatic transmitter of the virus OR I could contract the virus and then spread it to sick patients or coworkers. I feel exhausted, spent, segregated, excluded and undervalued, and I am starting to experience what I can only describe as mild depression, as I experience frequent periods where I cry often for no reason, have very little energy or motivation to do anything on weekends except rest and sleep, and often feel as if I am searching for something to grab hold of and pull myself up and out of this. This is how I feel as a result of three months of new work and social norms, three months of no human contact other than what I disclosed, three months of no hugs, three months of coming home from work exhausted and every night carrying out full decontamination and cleansing (includes shower and hair washing, placing clothing I wore that day into the washing machine for laundering, disinfecting my phone, washing my glasses etc). This is my personal experience, only if you speak to other frontline healthcare professionals, you may hear a similar story. I know because I’ve heard them.

In the midst of a pandemic, our society is highlighting injustices and societal conducts which need to be abolished and changed. Root causes of injustice began over 400 years ago and evolved into what can only be described today as institutional racism. Let’s explore a few examples, shall we?

Do you know who Kalif Browder is? Kalif is a black boy who spent more than half of THREE YEARS in solitary confinement at Rikers Island Prison without a trial after an arrest at sixteen years of age for allegedly stealing a backpack. He became depressed, felt isolated, anxious and paranoid after he was released. Can you even imagine his experience? Neither can I. (I haven’t hugged a human being in THREE MONTHS while free to move around and I am feeling depressed.) As a result of the trauma he endured in prison and unable to cope, some time after his release Kalif transitioned by suicide. My heart aches for the injustice this young soul endured. And this is just one story of a young black male getting arrested and placed in prison for an alleged crime, in this case robbery of a backpack. Why is a TEENAGER in PRISON and in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT over a backpack? (The Kalif Browder Story is playing on Netflix.)

Have you heard of Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana Jr? In 1989, these young black boys were wrongfully accused, convicted, incarcerated and almost 20 years later exonerated, of rape and assault of a white woman in NYC Central Park. All five teenagers were sixteen years of age or younger (!) at the time of the incident. Korey Wise‘s story is especially heartbreaking – he was tried as an adult because he was 16 years old and as a result, he was sent to Rikers Island Prison, served the longest sentence and spent time in solitary confinement. Can YOU imagine going to prison as a CHILD for a crime you did not commit? (You can watch When They See Us on Netflix to learn more.)

Have you heard the name George Floyd? Breonna Taylor? Eric Garner? Trayvon Martin? Tamir Rice? Ahmaud Arbery? Philando Castile? Sandra Bland? Michael Brown? Emmett Till? These are human beings, and are just few of the souls who are no longer with us, as a result of violence by police or citizens who they encountered for the first time the day they died. Human beings who died because they have black skin.

If you found yourself exhausted when you read the paragraph about my experience of being a healthcare worker during a pandemic over a period of three months, I would think that human beings born black are exhausted from the grief, anger, and sadness of the aforementioned (and not mentioned) injustices and tragedies black people, communities they live(d) in, and their families have sustained throughout history AND in the three months we’ve been under lockdown and isolation during this pandemic. A universal truth is that we are shaping our tomorrows by the choices we make today. And we are accountable for those choices.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I named this blog A Rainbow In The Clouds after seeing Dr Maya Angelou speak in Toronto in 2011. She opened by sharing a folk song: “when it look like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds”, eliciting the possibility of hope. Hope, which I seemed to have allowed to slip from my grasp, or was it taken? I’m not sure, but I want it back. Hope of light shining through is what will carry all of us through this time in history. As will the courage to keep going. Do you have hope and courage? Are you contributing to equality, inclusion, healing of your Self? I have learned that when you want something with your whole heart, the universe conspires to help you achieve it. (Paraphrased from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.)

My spiritual director encouraged me to revisit a book I have read, Man’s Search for Meaning written by Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist who was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp as a Jewish man in WWII. I opened the book to a random page and started reading. There I found light:

“…intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence…”

“As the inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before. Under their influence he sometimes even forgot his own frightful circumstances.”

“…I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, ….and the light shineth in the darkness.”

And I remembered my own inner light, and the inner light which shines in EVERY human being, irrelevant of their creed, skin colour, religion, sex, gender. That inner light is the grace, courage and strength which is accessible for each of us to learn, grow, evolve, elevate and do better. Then I recalled a spiritual teaching which was taught by all great teachers, and introduced to me by Caroline Myss – What’s in one, is in the whole. That means that the need for AND the unravelling of past societal structures which are shown to us through news media and social media, are happening within each of us. Human beings are angry at the injustices black human beings have endured throughout history and in present time! Would you not be angry if you saw a human being murdered, asking for mercy, while handcuffed on the ground with someone’s knee on his neck, and MERCY not being granted?! (Caroline explains this eloquently in this video.)

I don’t know what it’s like to be of a different skin colour other than the one I was born with. I’m perceived by society we live in to be a white woman. I understand that comes with privilege. I also can only extrapolate a little bit of the feelings from my experience of THREE MONTHS working in healthcare during a pandemic, (mainly feeling segregated, isolated, exhausted, not seen as equal by the government, because of my work,) into what I imagine is a life long emotional space for many experiencing Earth school as a human being with black skin. Again, I don’t claim to know this for sure, I am only grasping the feelings expressed by those who have this experience, what is felt by the collective and my own limited understanding. Remember this Oprah show?

Although I don’t have the experience of being in Earth school with black skin, I KNOW that black people are not being treated the same as white people. I KNOW that more black people live in poverty than white people. I KNOW that more black people die as a result of racial prejudices and violence than white people. Those are heavy truths. Also, I am not an appointed government official who can better fund our healthcare system and put laws, policies, and people in places to abolish institutional racism. But I have something in me, which every human has, that NO ONE can touch. That is my own inner space, my own personal power. I can use mine to elevate, learn, transform and impact change in the relationships around me, which will reach all corners of the globe (think how a virus did that). I can educate myself and use my VOTE as a voice, for ultimately that IS the loudest voice. I can stay connected to my inner space, move with integrity, be loving, compassionate, move in light. And so can you. Remember, standing in light does not mean not standing up for what you believe in. Rather, stand in your light in a way that brings change, draws justice, and creates a society where a human being can go outside feeling safe to do so, no matter their race, sex, creed, religion, gender. A human being is a human being. Bring your humanness to light.

All my love,

T


“You’re a powerful being.” – Virus to Human

You may have read the title to this post and thought I made a mistake. We are presently experiencing a world where a virus is impacting human movement, where the world has taken a pause, a TRUE break, because of a microbe. But I did not make a mistake in the title of this post. I believe that if we can move past the fear, anxiety and panic, we might be able to take an objective perspective on what this experience is teaching us, collectively and individually.

Perhaps you’ll join me in a reflective practice on seeing things symbolically? If you are choosing to continue to read, I hope you keep your mind and heart open.

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Imagine late November of 2019, a human being in Wuhan, China develops cold or flu like symptoms but thinks not much of it, and continues on with their daily life activities and practices. Let’s say this human has lived in Wuhan their entire life and perhaps has moved within a 100 kilometre radius for their entire life, not much farther. List of places and things this human may have visited and done (and other humans they may have been in contact with) is endless; however, let’s just assume that due to the cold, they had to stay home in late November for a few days, but before the symptoms developed into what they did, this human was living their normal life – time was spent at work, and with friends and family, privately and publicly. This was patient zero of COVID-19. Now this human in Wuhan, who has not travelled far (according to my educated presumptions, as I’ve followed the spread of this microbe since it was first reported back in December 2019), has touched every single corner of the globe, people whom they may have known or not known, people they’ve never heard of and will never meet.

Let’s pause and breathe for a moment. Deep breaths, please.

In the midst of the presently palpable global panic (and anxiety created as a result), each of us has a choice in how we act, what perspectives/views we take on, and what we learn from this pandemic. We can look at obvious things such as the importance of maintaining good hand (and overall) hygiene, keeping common public areas and surfaces clean, staying away from others when not feeling well (especially those who are immunocompromised), as all are part of a social responsibility we’ve always had towards each other that has been highlighted by the current world pandemic. We could also look at what it means to have a well funded healthcare system, what the real risks of overpopulation are, and how our individual carbon footprint contributes to the health of our planet and each human being (irrelevant of our proximity to them). If you thought of those, you’d have valid points to present to policy makers, politicians, CEOs, as well as arguments against consumer economic model’s impact on overall health and wellness of all humans. But I want to challenge you to perhaps look at it with an even broader perspective. One that affects the state of your inner being.

Are you still practicing deep, mindful breathing?

I want to talk about patient zero of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China. This human had no idea that the infection they were battling would reach humans all around the world, impact travel, stock markets, economies, healthcare systems, all businesses, trade. This human had no idea that they were even infectious or spreading anything to anyone, but just going about their daily life.

I’d like to challenge you now to imagine that patient zero of COVID-19, this human, has lived their life with great awareness, and commitment to self evolvement, growth and learning. Imagine that this human has healed their inner childhood traumas and faced themselves with honesty and compassion. Imagine that as a result of all of the self work that this human has embarked on that they are now open, loving, compassionate, self-aware, socially and environmentally conscious and responsible, empathetic, reflective, that they make choices with integrity and honesty (considering how their choices affect not just their life but others, animals and the environment), that they have good self-esteem and that they practice good self care.

Have you imagined it? Close your eyes and breathe until you get there.

Now I want you to imagine that instead of spreading a microbe to others in late November, patient zero spread empathy, compassion, honesty, love, self care practices, healing, social and environmental consciousness, or choices made with integrity. What if we were to spread those energies like a pandemic but instead of a viral pandemic which debilitates and hurts lives, it becomes a ‘pandemic’ that is energetically illuminating for all humans, all animals, as well as our planet?

Let’s contemplate a perspective and imagine that what this virus is actually teaching us is not about how powerful microbes are but how powerful we are, because every word we utter, every thought we have, every choice we make, every single thing we do or don’t do, impacts not just us individually, but every single human we come in contact with, and humans that they come in contact with, and so on and so forth, so that you, individually, create an energetic ripple that reaches people you may never meet. YOU are a powerful being!

Look at how much personal power patient zero of the COVID-19 pandemic has, to have reached every continent and impacted many different aspects of societies. Patient zero of COVID-19 is not much different from you or I. This human does not have fame like a well-known artist does, for example. Sure, we could give the virus some credit with respect to its efficient spread globally, but you could also give compassion and kindness the same kind of weight, if you practice it. YOU are a powerful being!

Each of us has a choice to hold ourself accountable to our personal power and live our lives with integrity. In doing so, we spread all of who we are, energetically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, to others, just like this microbe which has travelled from Wuhan, China to places that patient zero of COVID-19 may have never visited or even heard of. YOU are a powerful being!

There may be another viral pandemic in the future. There may be economic challenges. There may be wars. There may be travel bans. There may be shortages in supplies. No matter what happens, remember that you have the power in you to elevate and grow through anything, and to look at the event symbolically, so that you understand what this means for everyone, globally, and to always remind yourself that YOU are a powerful being!

Love & light,

T


BIG Questions

 

There are a few big truths I’ve learned about being human thus far:

Understanding ones Self allows an understanding of others.

Trusting ones Self fully allows one to trust another.

Empowering ones Self allows not just the ability to empower others but to practice self-esteem and speak one’s truth.

A lot of these lessons I understood through my own reflective practice, though I’ve read and heard many teachers hand these priceless jewels out in their writings and lectures. Of course you can only fully understand something if you sit with it in reflection, practice and experience it.

I have come to understand that a reflective practice is vital in our growth however I only learned to ask the big questions, questions which served me and my growth, in the last year. These questions stem from an awareness and a big truth which is that nothing anyone ever does is about us but is an extension of the space in their Self in which they dwell. However, asking why someone does, says or thinks something, is not a question which serves us or helps us grow.

The only place you can surely settle into and, if you choose to do so, learn intimately is your own Self. Immersing ones Self into the depths of your soul or spirit, whether through a meditative practice or a reflective practice or through creative expressions etc, is a sure way to centre oneSelf. However, to navigate these spaces, even through different practices,  one must ask questions which serve you.

I have learned that some of the big questions which serve your growth include:

Why do I think this or think in this way?

Why do I feel this way about an event?

Why did I say this during a specific event?

Why was this my internal reaction to an event?

Why do I believe this?

What is it about this person/place/situation that makes me feel the way I do?

One of my favourite teachers, Caroline Myss, would say that these questions are not small but “they’re great big huge and you cannot possibly answer them that quickly.” I feel that the list of questions above are good starting points for reflection.

In my own reflective practice, asking these questions has provided a lot of clarity for me, but more importantly, they have acted as an anchor to my centre, my true Self. These questions have also brought up inner work I wasn’t aware I needed to do. I found that awareness painful at times, but the more I’ve done it, the easier it has been to be centred even during events that have in the past taken me far away from that space.

Our humanity dictates our imperfections, and thereby demands courage to grow, learn, evolve, allow, and ultimately, to fly. To me, the greatest representation of freedom are birds in the sky – they can fly anywhere, see things from different altitudes and perspectives, experience different horizons – and I view finding one’s centre to be like a bird in flight, gliding across the sky, without attachment, free and prepared to experience anything, anyone, in any weather. For me, dwelling in big questions, objectively and without judgement, has allowed my own freedom of flight and, so far, the views have been illuminating.

Wishing you love, light and a soaring flight,

T


A PERSPECTIVE ON FEAR

    FUNK 2 THE RIGHT | T.Nikic 2016 | Oils on canvas.

By T. Nikic

It is not something you’re born with, but something you learn. And you do not learn it because you need to learn it or because you learn it from a happy situation. Often times, fear is laced within a scar that is hidden. People hide their scars when they think it makes them less attractive or less beautiful. It’s the same thing with fear. People internalize their fears and don’t talk about them because they think it makes them less attractive or less beautiful.

 

Some people are aware of their fears and have made a lifelong commitment to facing them. Others have allowed their fears to guide them in life. Never risking too much, playing it ‘safe’. Only going so far within relationships and with people whom they meet. But those who have made a commitment to facing their fears often don’t realize that they have a fear until someone, whom they do not know very well, triggers it.

 

Triggers of fear can be very random, overwhelming and surprising. How one addresses and deals with these triggers is a choice. But because people who have made a commitment to face their fears in life have often internalized their battle, they only really know how to go within themselves and try to deal with it internally. Alone. It’s not that they do not want to connect with others, but they feel shame and remorse that that fear exists, and feel that they will no longer be attractive to another if they see it.

 

The thing of it is, fear can sometimes be like a gust of wind, bringing with it everything great and everything not so great that was surrounding you and the person who triggered the fear. It could be the most beautiful connection, your ideal in fact, and you want to enter that space with the other person, but fear is just blowing this strong current at you, creating a small tornado-like storm around your being. You have no clue on how to stop it or calm it down enough to maintain the connection with the other person.

 

In many ways, you feel crippled. Stunned. You think to yourself, “I just met the most incredible person. Someone I’ve been hoping to meet. And here they are, ready and willing to explore this connection with me, but I’m so scared.” My fear questions everything, “Is this real? Are they real? You’ve not been here before; you think you can actually do this? They will see you’re scarred and then they will walk away, don’t you forget that.”

 

You do not want to push people away, but because you allow your fear to take you into your Self, you aren’t able to nurture the connection you discovered with the other person. And they do not know you well enough to know if you’re still there and interested, or if you’re pulling away. They do not have a good reason to stand the fear storm with you, because you haven’t given them enough to go on.

 

As you’re trying to sort through your fear, your surroundings become foggy and you can no longer maintain eye contact with them. You want to ask them to be patient with you, to wait for you, and maybe even hold your hand, but you think that that’s way too much to ask from someone you don’t know very well. You feel them slowly pulling away. Shutting down. Shutting you out. You hate seeing the change in the energy between the two of you, but the fear has gotten really strong at this point. It has exhausted you and you’re falling. A thick fog has formed around you and you have no way of seeing past it. There is nothing for you to do except to try to minimize the pain of the fall by curling up into yourself, completely looking away from the person you wanted to let in.

 

After some time, you wake up and realize that you’ve managed to survive and exhaust your fear. Sure, the fear storm has scattered all the shame and remorse on the ground surrounding you, but you do not reach for them. The scar your fear was interlaced with is completely exposed, but that doesn’t make you feel less beautiful anymore. You realize that the fog has cleared. It’s not sunny but it’s calm. You look around, trying to locate the footprints of the person you wanted to let in, but the fear storm was so strong that it has erased them. You start to panic and begin thinking of how to get ahold of them, how to reach them. You have no signal on your phone. There is an old payphone but the cord has been cut. You try walking down this path and that path, but they’re all dead ends.

 

You make your way back to the space you first met them, the road of brave souls, and you sit there, alone, with the hope that they might come back for you and give you another chance. You’re there for only a short while, because you realize that it’s not about going back, but moving forward. If you cross paths again, you’ll have to show your scars and tell them those stories. Otherwise that fear you broke free of, will win. And fear will always win…. if you let it.


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


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… 😀

 

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


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


“You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”

Until a few days ago, I didn’t realize that this post was necessary…

I regretfully thought that it was ‘men’ who act inappropriately and without integrity when dating. My eyes were opened this week when my friend and I started chatting about relationships and dating values, and he proceeded to tell me about a girl (‘cuz when you act like one, I cannot refer to you as a woman although you’re of age) who did some things that MEN and WOMEN consider to be wrong.

There is a lot to be said about integrity and treating others with respect. You really cannot do that until you figure out who you are, what you want your life to look like and the kind of people you want to have in it. But that’s really an aside note…

As per my standard, this post will not sugar coat.

Here’s the situation: A man met a girl whom he liked and she liked him. They exchanged phone numbers and started chatting. A connection was established as well as a comfortable vibe. He asks her out on a date and she accepts. Later he finds out that the entire time they were ‘talking’, she was seeing someone else. (This story could also read “A woman met a boy whom she liked and he liked her…Later she finds out that the entire time they were ‘talking’, he was seeing someone else.”.)

Here’s the reality: THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Do not treat others as if they are disposable. It is NOT okay. If you are seeing someone, give that relationship your full attention. If you are unsure about it, leave – you are not a tree.

Let’s look at things objectively… One, if you are involved, you have no business exchanging numbers with those who you have a non-platonic interest in/connection with. It’s basically a prelude to cheating. I am sure that you would not appreciate it if the person whom you are dating did it. Two, if you are involved, you shouldn’t be ‘talking’ to others with whom you have a non-platonic connection. It’s pretty much cheating because you are allowing someone new in your life and you’re not focusing on the relationship you’re already involved in. Again, imagine if the person you are seeing did that with others behind your back. Three, if you are involved and someone is showing interest in you, you are accountable to yourself, the person you are already involved with AND the person who is interested in you, to disclose to them the fact that you are involved. It is YOUR responsibility to disclose that information. Don’t hide behind the infamous “well you never asked,” followed by *shrugged shoulders*. You knew you were doing something wrong. Four, this type of behaviour must stop. Our society is losing basic relationship values because they are no longer being shown, practiced and taught by those who date.

Each of us should ask ourselves these questions: What kind of relationship do I want to have with another person? How do I want to feel within the realm of that relationship? What values are really important for me to have in a relationship? I bet if each person was true to their heart, being cheated on, dealing with their partner’s inappropriate behaviours and being made to feel disrespected and disposable would NOT make that list. And if that isn’t how we want our relationships to look like, then we need to act accordingly. After all, the energy that we put out into the universe, does end up coming back to us. We must be mindful of that.

I think that often, those who are seeing someone but are secretly talking to other people, show a lot of insecurity because they need to know that they are desired by many people. But the truth is, desirability by others should not be the driving factor of whom you spend time with or talk to or the number of people you talk to. I think we each owe our Self, our relationship and our society to really spend time alone and understand Self before venturing out and dating. Period. We should know what we want in a partner and be clear about it upfront.

What are you doing with your life?

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


Sole Less

Random thoughts of August 27th, 2013 which aren’t exactly what I’d normally share on my blog but these struck me so deeply that I felt a responsibility to my Self to do so…

Ai Weiwei AGO Exhibit reflections from Saturday marked down on Monday but made more sense Tuesday:

I checked out the Ai Weiwei exhibit over the weekend. His work is powerful. But one particular image stayed with me – it was a pair of extremely thin sole shoes wrapped around an empty bottle of wine. It struck me because someone shared a dream with me they had involving sole less shoes. And I had written this poem a day after that:

Sole less shoes

Wrapped around an empty bottle.

Did the liquor wear away the sole,

Or did the sole consume the liquor?

*

Soulless shoes

Wrapped around an empty bottle.

Did the liquor dissipate the soul,

Or did the soul abuse the liquor?

***

Lunch:

I got my lunch at my usual spot but took it to go, as I wanted to sit out in the sun.

Picked Dundas Square to nourish my body…

As I entered, under the big Yonge/Dundas Square sign, was a man sitting in a chair, alone, with his shades on, smoking a cigarette.

Even before I came close, I recognized him. I knew his ex-wife and daughter, his in-laws and many of his friends, as he is from the same town as my mama. I suppose leaving a country you grew up in and coming to Canada isn’t such an easy thing for anyone, but for him it must have been particularly hard because he turned to alcohol…. to escape his thoughts? Reality? Fears? Loneliness? I’m not exactly sure nor do I care to guess. Anyway, I remember hearing from other family years back, that his wife divorced him and that he ended up alone, on the street. I’ve actually seen him randomly before, but today when I saw him I looked to try to see him.

He was sitting in that chair, under the big sign, watching the intersection closely, watching people pass him by.

It was then that I had a thought – alcohol, and any form of other substance, abuse allows us to become observers of life instead of active participants.

I suppose that’s a less painful existence but is it an existence?

Is that really LIVING?

I’m not sure, I’ve not gone down that route but all I know is that every alcoholic, substance abuser, addict…they all end up alone.

And it makes sense, doesn’t it?

They’re simply observing everyone else who is participating in living (living – probably not by the addict’s standards, and perhaps not even by societal standards, but I’d say everyone else who is TRYING to make something out of THIS life); the addicts stay stationed in their chair while everyone else is trying to get places, passing them by.

What a way to ‘exit’.

What a sad way to die…on the inside.

***

Evening:

I watched a documentary on Basquiat today. He, like many other artists of his time (and unfortunately even now), used drugs, and drugs killed him. What struck me was him, in all of his glory and fame, questioning the quality of HIS greatness, HIS creativity, HIS talent, HIS work, HIS art, WITHOUT the drugs. It struck me because that is what you would expect an observer of life to question. What wore away at HIS soles – the drugs or the pain he carried around and was unable to deal with? What dissipated HIS soul – the drugs or the pain he chose not to overcome?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMSXTYvEB-0

***

Substance abuse, of ANY form, hurts and often times kills the abuser. But what the abuser fails to see is that they hurt everyone else around them too.

In the case of that man I saw earlier today, he hurt his ex-wife and his daughter by spending their money (of which was mostly brought in by his ex-wife’s two jobs) to the point where they had no food to feed their child or pay bills or rent. I’m not even going to touch on the psychological and emotional scars that left on both of those women. (Please note, I’m not sharing their story to expose them in any way, especially since I wasn’t there, but to use as an example of REAL repercussions of one’s actions.)

In the case of Basquiat’s story, his ex-girlfriend describes him as becoming violent. He started looking bad. Imagine seeing someone you love slowly degrading BY CHOICE? How could that NOT hurt?!

In the case of the person who dreamt of sole less shoes…all I can say is that this person’s light, in their raw-est, most sober state, lifted my spirit, and my soul, to heights it had never been lifted before.

Our actions DO affect other people.

Substance abuse hurts EVERYONE…especially the children. And they’re left with a permanent scar.

I read a quote by Paulo Coelho today: “You can’t avoid pain, but you can choose to overcome it.”

You can’t overcome pain by being an observer of life. You have to participate and LIVE IT. If YOU are (or someone YOU know is) dealing with substance abuse, PLEASE get help. Stop hurting those around you and your Self.

Love, T

http://www.drugandalcoholhelpline.ca/Directory/Browse

http://www.drugandalcoholhelpline.ca/Directory/Organization/1615

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/addict/addict_mn.html


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