Tag Archives: being human

A funeral, a workout, and 101 Dalmatians

A vivid memory from my last visit with my baka (grandmother) in Bosnia a few years back:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Love,

T

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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


Vulnerability…Recovered

 

A page from my journal entry:

“Dec 1st, 2014

I spoke with my sister this evening and I recalled a memory my mom shared with me, of me, when I was a child. My mom described me as this little girl who just did not want to go into the sandbox with the other kids, to play and get dirty, but would instead cross my hands behind my back and observe the other kids playing. It’s an image that parallels a lot of the struggle I experienced as an adolescent, a young woman and an adult in my friendships and relationships with others. I was the observer who didn’t really feel that I BELONGED anywhere, but instead observed others and their interactions, but was somewhat scared of being ‘known’ so I simply kept my true self hidden from others. It wasn’t until recently that I thought about displacement as a result of war (I am from former Yugoslavia, the region of Bosnia), and what that truly did for my spirit, understanding of self and others, my lack of the sense of belonging anywhere, and its effect on any relationship I attempted to participate in, that it dawned on me… THE one thing I thought I wanted, truly wanted, was the one thing I was truly afraid of – BEING LOVED.

 

I was afraid of being loved.

 

Why? Well I did not love or like mySelf for a long time, which is a starting place for reflection. But when I looked into it deeper, I realized that: 1. being loved means that someone is making a ‘commitment’ to me which they may not be able to maintain consistently; and 2. that would involve vulnerability on my end, and on that person’s end, and I simply wasn’t comfortable with it. That basic human essence – birthplace of creativity, love, nurturing and mindful relationships, a true display of courage – was very uncomfortable for me.

 

Why was it uncomfortable? Why is being vulnerable so scary? Because you put your true Self in the spotlight, on display and it may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, so you open your Self up to criticism, rejection, ridicule… Except when you decide to face your fear, be vulnerable in showing who you really are, you find that people respect you more and are more accepting OF you. And that’s love.

 

So I’m stepping forth on my intentions of building mindful, respectful, nurturing, loving relationships, and allowing mySelf to simply BE ME, my true self, in all situations and people I encounter.

 

That does not mean that everyone deserves, or will be given, a backstage pass to my life, but it does mean that the right people will be invited to know ME.”

 

In order to get a hug, you must give a hug…

 

Love, T


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