Category Archives: Strength of women

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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.


Maybe it’s just me….

I was in my first ‘relationship’ when I was eighteen years old. It was a late summer romance that lasted until about the following spring. He was a handsome, nice, hard-working guy who was close with his parents and did his best to balance full-time school work and a part-time job. During my holiday visit of him and his family, I vividly recall one interaction. We were out the night prior and got up late. His mom was home and we were discussing breakfast. I remember one minute he was looking at me like I was sunshine, smiling at me and then, just before he got up to grab something from the coffee table, he turned to his mom and said these seven life-changing words: “Show her how I like my eggs.” I am not sure what prompted him to say this and if he felt that in some weird way I would find it endearing, but something felt ‘off’ about that to my eighteen-year-old Self, who did not have the language to articulate or even understand how she truly felt. Perhaps then, this blog post was born, when I was eighteen years old.

 

A single woman living alone in a big metropolitan city, with a stable job, hobbies and close friends, in today’s day and age, is, frankly, common. It has not always been this way, as noted in the workforce composition/proportion of men vs women, in the last century. Perhaps it is somewhat of a recent trend, of say the last three or four decades, that women have gained the courage to be even more independent from their ‘home base’ where they were raised.

Of course, not every woman who completes school and/or secures a job which provides her financial independence, acts on it by leaving her parental home, solo. Be it for cultural reasons or to save money so that she can become a homeowner on her own, some independent women stay home and I pass no judgement on them. I, however, live alone in an apartment with a view of the lake, that is walking distance to work. Okay, my entire life is within a 15 minute walking radius. I’ve worked really hard over the years to make my world an oyster, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Perhaps due to my strong independence gains, I’ve become less tolerant for interactions with others, and notably men, which simply do not nurture MY personal growth, but often leave me feeling….kinda motherly. I’ll admit, I have that motherly, nurturing thing inside my Self that comes out naturally, whether I am aware of it or not. I’d like to think I’ve become more aware and mindful of it, but it’s hard to be someone you’re not. And I like me. Unfortunately, I think that attribute of mine has played a role in the kinds of men I’ve attracted over the years. I’m not saying ALL of them, but there have been a few interactions I’ve looked back on which somehow illicit a feeling of nauseating panic and…a shudder that seems to always be paired with an involuntary ‘Ugh!’. Some were good people, but it was my allowing of some of the interactions which took place, the length of time I stayed in IT, how much precious energy I expended on these men, which lead to these internal reactions of my Self. I’m going to share a few of these stories because, well, there are lessons in them for every man and woman. And also, I am not the same woman who went through those experiences so my shame has turned into forgiveness, wisdom and love for my Self. You may relate to some of these….be it as the guy or the girl.

 

 

Mott Haven, Bronx. August 1979. From The Faces in the Rubble, by David Gonzalez.

Mott Haven, Bronx. August 1979.
From The Faces in the Rubble, by David Gonzalez.
Confession: I posted this photograph because it represents what I’d love to experience: the two of us (the man I’ve yet to meet who will choose to be a part of US) dancing together, to a common beat…it’s one of my dreams. 😉

 

 

I’ll start with a choreographer who I met through a social network. He was charming, funny, sexy as hell, cool. We spent hours talking about life and seemed to have a lot in common in terms of our values and views of relationships. He had done a lot in his life already, as had I. He intrigued me. It was a long distance connection, and although based on previous personal experience I did not believe in long distance romance, I really liked this guy. He was exciting to me. He took an interest in me. He even flew countries on short notice to spend a few days with me, despite the fact that we had not spoken in almost a year at that point (back story: I had created a distance between us about six months into IT because of, let’s call it, a woman’s intuition). It felt like something too good to be true but I convinced my Self that this must be love. The time we spent together was magical and beautiful, but it felt to me that there existed a lack of something in his Self which he battled silently most of the time. And I found his silence to be loud and suspicious. A few months later, during our following, and ironically, last encounter, he acted out one of my deal breakers and made me end IT, for good. So at this point, this interaction had lasted over eighteen months and although I had learned so much from IT, I was exhausted. I had gone out of my way to welcome him with a home cooked meal anytime he made time to visit me. I allowed him to use my credit card to book his flight to come see me. I tried to please him and make him laugh because I wanted to see him happy. But he wasn’t. From the last time I had seen him, until he had paid me back for that flight, more than a few months had passed. And despite his emotional distance and unavailability, I wasn’t completely over this man at that point. It wasn’t that I felt he was the right guy for me – I had convinced my Self that he was. When I was finally over him, and this took a long while, I randomly came across a post on another social network (you never know who’s going to ‘like’ what, thereby showing up on your feed), of him and his girlfriend, dated around the same time he had flown out to see me. Suddenly, it all made sense. His distance. His moods. His unavailability. And I realized, I did not love this man. I just loved the excitement, I thought, he brought to my life.

 

I’ll skip to the lawyer, because this IT was short-lived. We met on the train platform on a hot summer day. Tall, dark hair, and handsome, he threw me some cheesy line I found cute. I found his mannerism boyish yet mature at the same time. He seemed like the no-nonsense type, so I gave him my number. And I was right – he contacted me later that same day. We met and had a great date on yet another hot, sticky, summer day. Over the course of his courtship, we went to the movies, the beach, went on excursions, he wrote me poems, discussed the future, how we’d deal with our cultural differences, our individual family relationships…it seemed mature. The first red flag was his initial suggestion he cook dinner for me at my place on our second date and have a sleepover. I wasn’t feeling his self-invite and simply told him that it’s too soon for me and I will inform him when I feel comfortable with having him enter my home. Had he not brought it up again, I may have been able to work through it. But the third time he asked, over our sushi dinner date, if he can come over ‘just to sleep next to me while cuddling and nothing else’, I snapped. I told him that it’s not his place to keep inviting himself over, but for me to extend that invitation should I so choose. (Of course each time he had done so, a seed of doubt that was initially planted by his first self-invitation, grew.) I did not expect nor anticipate his actual reaction, but it had ended THAT. This intelligent lawyer who took on human rights cases pro bono and was very convincing of his belief in gender equality, sent me a slew of emotionally charged messages in one of which he stated that my ‘rejection’ of his self-invitation to MY home, made him ‘feel emasculated’. In that one sentence, he ended IT…although he didn’t see it that way. I clarified it for him politely initially, and ultimately silently.

 

Now, the lawyer wasn’t the only one who had extended a self-invitation to my home, but I found his reaction most honest. There was this one guy who I went out with on less than a handful of platonic ‘dates’, who, on top of extending a self-invitation to my home, that seems to always come with dinner (which, in retrospect, I think I would have financed in his case), also thought that it would be fair if he did his laundry while at my place. And when I pointed out that he was trying to take advantage of me, decided that it was ok for him to continue IT without an apology or an acknowledgement that he overstepped his boundary with me. It took a long while for him to stop sending me messages despite my lack of response. At one point, I was concerned that this one may turn out to be a stalker, but I was fortunate he didn’t. I think….

 

There was also the artist, who I felt was a soul mate. We had this incredible connection. He made time for me. We did things together. He professed his love to me. He taught me a lot. We had deep conversations about life and shared secretes with one another that we hadn’t told a soul prior. We discussed the future. He told his mother about me and brought me around his child, whom I loved. It wasn’t until I felt emotionally invested in IT, that I found out he had a substance abuse problem. I had cooked for him, and paid for most outing expenses, because that’s what you do when you care for someone, right?? Besides, he was pretty much a single parent, as he had his kid for most of the week, so I thought that was right… Except it rarely made sense. Looking back on it now, I realize that he was someone who was so lost in his self-denied substance abuse, that I almost lost my Self in IT. And in all the ways it seemed like L-O-V-E, at the core of IT was a slew of justifications for self-destructive behaviour that had hurt me. To this day, I’m not sure he fully understood that but I did not stick around to make sure he got it. (When someone compares their chosen substance of abusive consumption to what coffee does for other people, it raises a huge red flag. And, despite your repeatedly expressed concern that it sounds like a serious problem they need to deal with, they not only continue their use more heavily but attempt to feed you words to try to convince you otherwise, you stop banging your head against that wall. It only hurts you.)

 

The last one I’ll mention is the student who was actually really sweet. And he came into my life at a time when I was finally ready to end my almost five-year ‘singlehood’  stretch. When I met him, he had a job, ambition, he was going to school, and had interesting perspectives. He was there whenever I needed him and he did his best to play the role of a mature man despite our age gap (I was older). As time went on, he quit his job and started hanging out at my place a lot. (Towards the end of it, even when I was not home.) Initially, I understood it as his attempt to spend time with me, but he didn’t exactly contribute to my home financially or domestically, and I came to resent it. Our parting was amicable but I was a little surprised when he called me a few months later, confused about why I had ended it. While we were in IT, I was too frustrated and annoyed with the situation to clearly express my feelings but when he had called me I was able to articulate my stance clearly: he made me feel like I was his mother. In fact I remember this one argument we had towards the end of IT, when I was at my limit of tolerance for his lack of ambition and motivation, where he wanted to add his boxer shorts to my laundry load and I refused it. It made me feel like I was in IT with a child instead of an adult and it completely turned me off. I have zero romantic inclinations towards children….which is how I ended up feeling towards the end of IT with him, towards him. And that was THAT.

 

I take full responsibility for the decisions I had made during those interactions, for my reactions and choices of words (or lack thereof). I also took many lessons with me from each of those situations (which, by-the-way, are NOT in chronological order), and have applied those lessons to interactions with men I connected with thereafter. I find many of those situations humorous now. I mean how else do you look back at someone you just met extending a self-invitation to your place for a sleep over AND to do their laundry during their ‘visit’??

You’re probably wondering why I’m even bothering sharing these stories on such a public platform, right? I see a lot of my old self in so many single, independent folks. And it’s not that they’re bad or interacting with bad people, it’s just that they’ve not fully understood or come to grips with THEIR self-worth. A person who understands and has complete knowledge of what they bring-to-the-table in any type of relationship – be it professional, friendship, platonic or non-platonic interaction – has developed an ability to not only listen to their intuition, but honour it and stand in his/her own integrity.

While recalling aforementioned stories, I remember my old Self; a generous young woman with a big heart, lacking a sense of her Self-Worth, with an underdeveloped emotional maturity, and a shortage of courage to uphold her Self-Love. I’ve not changed my Self, my integrity, honesty, transparency of who I am and what I stand for, but I have grown up. Everything I identified as something I lacked (such as emotional maturity) which I also want in a partner, I worked on developing in my Self. Sure, it took time and without a doubt there is always room for growth and improvement, but this has enabled me to make decisions with respect to my interactions with other people, much easier. It has also allowed me to articulate how I truly feel with not just a lack of fear, but mature confidence. And I’m feeling good (Nina Simone voice). 😀

I’d like to honour my eighteen-year-old Self with these important words:

I like MY eggs mostly two ways – sunny-side up or soft-boiled. 😉

Love,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

T


The Dream Effect

Poetry, like dreams, stem from some truth –

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

I cannot tell if my dream stemmed from a poem, 

or if this poem stemmed from a dream.

But it bloomed…and I hope your being

blooms, too.

Love, T

*****

 

 

I had the most beautiful dream

the other night.

It was a dream that stemmed from,

and exuberated, LOVE.

And I mean LOVE.

Pure and true.

And real! So very real!

 

The love of my life

was in my dream

and he was happy.

I mean HAPPY.

His smile, warm and contagious,

lighting up his face in a way

I always wanted to remember him by.

He was healthy too.

Healthy and happy.

Is there a better combination of state,

to have one BE,

in life?

I don’t know if there is

anything much better than that.

Truly.

It was a sight to see…

He was the way you would wish

someone you love

TO BE, but really,

to feel.

He was always beautiful,

to me,

but in this dream,

he was shinning.

Bright.

It felt amazing

to see him in that

light.

 

And it wasn’t just he

who was in my dream,

although he stood out

from the rest.

It was a home,

full of happy people.

My home.

My family.

 

Exhilarating.

It was an exhilarating dream.

It lifted me to a high that spilled

over into my

reality.

Not because it gave me hope

that my love and I will

BE,

one day.

But because my love

was healthy and happy.

I couldn’t wish him

anything other than

health and happiness…

 

I hope my dream

turns into his reality,

into YOUR reality,

into YOUR love’s reality…

health and happiness,

from my dream,

to your being.

 

 

Live.

Love.

Learn.

Grow.

Let go.

 

 

Fly.

 

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

Photo and edit © T.Nikic 2014


VOICE

 

 

This poem is for every person,

who is scared, that there may not be

something even better out there.

There is.

Fly!

T

**********

When the heart is in your throat,

Where does your voice go?

I wonder, darling,

Do you love me enough,

to let me go?

To let me be?

To leave me in my flight of life?

 

The truth is so clear to me:

What we had was special,

Deep,

Real,

Sweet…

And bittersweet.

 

But I taste the lack of lifetime in it,

Every time I think of it.

Of you…

Even though I know,

You still haven’t fully let go of it,

of me.

 

It’s not something I can help you do,

It’s a choice;

An understanding and respect of love.

A knowing that one must let go of a love,

Because love is free,

And everlasting.

 

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

but I must let you know:

Daffodils bloom,

only in springtime.

Just like my love for you,

It bloomed only once.

Our love, was never my lifetime.

 

We are done now,

Have been for a while,

So let it go;

Let me be.

I am a bird in the sky.

I was meant to be free.

 

I hope you figure out

your own flight,

and soar the skies,

enjoy the horizons.

It’s beautiful up here.

Believe me.

 

Go on, love.

We are both free.

 


My 5th…

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

Photo © T.Nikic 2014

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Fly, love!

T


EXIT

I’ve been practicing Bikram hot yoga (at Bikram Hot Yoga Center ) since September 2009. Not consistently or as frequently as I’d have liked to, but nevertheless, I feel that it has been challenging, engaging and beneficial enough to my body, spirit and overall well-being, that I’ve attended the 90-minute classes (held in a  40 degree Celsius room of about 40 percent humidity), for almost five years. And it’s no small feat to captivate my interest for that long – I LOVE being challenged and this yoga practice is very challenging.

 

I receive the BYC email newsletter and in the most recent one, I saw that two intermediate classes with music were added to the schedule. With music, captivated me. In fact, when I went to practice a few days ago, I asked a teacher if I’d be eligible to take it, and when he said yes, I immediately made the commitment to my Self, and to him, to attend.

 

Today, was the very first class offered at an intermediate level with music at BYC. Was I excited? Yes. Was I nervous? Yes. Was I scared? Absolutely! Even after all those Bikram yoga classes I’ve attended, I still did not feel as if I could always get into the deepest expressions of some of the postures nor have I ever done a head stand. But I stuck to with music and that helped me calm my nerves down…a little bit.

 

Unlike regular Bikram yoga classes, this one did not have verbal instruction, but we all were to move in unison with our instructor. It was simply incredible to practice yoga in synergy and with music which included Hindu chants, prayers and songs of Shri, Krishna Das, as well as the music of the band Stars, Leonard Cohen, Eva Cassidy and Dan Gibson! The absence of verbal instruction and correction from the teacher made me feel more accountable to my own Self awareness – body, posture and position, as well as mind/thought and feeling. The few new postures which are a part of this class were challenging but surprisingly enough, I was able to do most of them…except for the head stand. I mean I did try to set it up, and even though it was something I’ve always wanted to be able to do, it was just too scary for me to do it on my own, for the first time, in this class.

The group of us who attended the class, were told at the very beginning to bring our mats in towards our instructor, as we were meant to be much closer together than in a regular class. Somehow my yoga mat ended up directly in front of the EXIT sign and door. After the standing series, I was faced with that EXIT sign every time I laid down for the Shavasana. I started thinking about the word itself. EXIT goes with escape, with letting go, with some form of freedom. And I realized that I did not allow my Self to EXIT my own thoughts which made me apprehensive about doing or attempting something new, something different, something scary. Although there were other things in my life this applied to, in this case, that was a head stand. Well, remember how I told you that I love challenges? I asked for some help and this is what happened:

I did it!

I did it! (Source BYC Instagram page)

I realize how powerful our thoughts are – they can help us face our fears or nurture them. I chose to literally EXIT the realm of CAN’T, with music, and some help. Like the mural at the BYC studio states: “Be afraid not of growing slowly, Be only afraid of standing still.”

 

Love,
T


Honouring Dr Maya Angelou

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

Dr Maya Angelou Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper

Dr Maya Angelou
Charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper

 

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

 

“Sequined in the black velvet sky of night,

shines a star with fiery hot, fire possessed,

leading all those who wish to claim what is right

to look within themselves and find their best.

Over my life shines this glorious beacon,

lighting my path through the dark shadow land.

With this as my guide

I shall not weaken my strive

to be a strong but gentle man.

Others had been led by its incandescence

to be more than mere flesh and bone.

To love and be loved is its true essence

for only the heart can change this world of stone.

Thus fortune graces me like none other

for this star,

this nova,

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

 

 

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

Love,

T

 

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


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


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