On Judgment 

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve been hearing recently about people who speak about the so-called ‘contradictory’ life I lead. Where I profess one thing, and presumably live another. I’ve also been hearing criticism around the way I look with statements like “I am ten times prettier than her”; or statements like “I am decent, she is twice divorced with two kids from two different fathers”. Now, anyone who truly knows me would know that I care a toss about commentary like these because I am aware enough to know that, living in the public eye, sharing my life in all its hideousness and glory makes me susceptible to judgment and criticism all the time. I have come to understand that most often; this judgment is passed by people who sit on the wayside of their lives, with self-righteous indignation, pointing fingers instead of taking a cold, hard look internally. (Sounds harsh but believe me, I am using artistic licence very minimally here).

But this is what bothered me slightly about these recent judgments: they were from women. I am not about bashing another woman. I don’t need to see another woman beaten down in order to feel better about myself. And I guess this is where awareness comes in. And this post is to that end, to try and create a level of awareness for why judgment should never be passed if you are someone who has little insight into who YOU truly are.

I’ve spent many years learning about who I am. I have spent years doing the very hard work to get to a level of understanding about why I’ve made certain decisions in my life. Being a woman isn’t binary. It’s not an easy feat. I’ve stumbled in the dark more times than I can count, breaking my heart and back in an effort to be everything this world required of me. For years, I tried to be the so-called epitome of a ‘decent Indian woman’ by society’s definition and forced myself to be in a marriage that didn’t serve the beat of my own heart. I smiled externally and remained silent, while my insides were screaming and my soul was dying. It took an enormous amount of courage, strength, tenacity and bravery to forge ahead and leave my second marriage because I knew I wanted and deserved more. The flaming spirit that is truly me was literally dying to emerge. And that was a good enough reason to leave. Facing death is sobering. It puts everything into perspective and that is why I have made it my mission in life to always and forever put my happiness first. Nothing else is more important than being happy and at peace.

I have paid my dues and earned the right to put my middle finger up high. I’ve worked myself to the bone to own the bad-ass that I’ve become. I never relied on anyone else to save me; I had to fight until my skin was bare to get to this point. Which is why I am extremely proud to own and embrace every facet of my past experiences: from the two divorces, to the failed relationships to having two kids with two different fathers. I have walked through fire to get to be who I am now and I am unapologetic about it. The reason I make reference to this here, is simply to reveal that not everyone knows my story, so why do people feel like they get a narrative regarding my choices?

Let’s cut to the chase here. This kind of judgment from women to women is a nascent act of violence done in the most sinister and divisive way. It keeps us from stepping into the power we own as women. It also unfairly places the blame on men for sexist behaviour, when women are actually the culprits. Why does speaking about the way I look matter when it’s far more important to focus on what I am looking AT?

It may appear contradictory, if my choices are scrutinised. But, being true means owning MY TRUTH. It doesn’t have to be accepted or approved by anyone else. If it’s true for me, if my intention is only about love and peace and not set to hurt another, then I am not a contradiction, I am still fully in my authentic power. This truth of mine may be terribly inconvenient for others but again, it’s only ever right for me.

Judgment is easy. It’s very easy to point fingers, apportion blame, use slandering words like “whore” or “slut” or “bitch” liberally. It’s easy to criticise a path you’ve not taken, or choices you’ve not made out of fear because then it is far simpler to remain a victim of circumstance. For those of us actually doing the work, we don’t need the judgment. You can turn that mirror inwards, you may not like what you see. 

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Why The “You Complete Me” Mentality Is A Load Of Shit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2017 by tivaniam

LOVE is a disease, in and of itself, of which, I am the greatest sufferer. I hold it in reverence; and watch as it turns me from a rational woman, into a manic, fevered-face, high-pitched and deranged shadow of my former self. I am an over-the-top romantic and adore grand displays of affection and attention. A man saying “you complete me” would be met with a theatrical ‘slow-fainting’ display, complete with requisite ugly cry (yes, I’ve watched Jerry Maguire more times than I can count).

But, let’s be real. The stuff movies are made of, aren’t real life and the messages are often very dangerous. The inference that we need another to feel complete is the reason so many of us, women especially, keep yearning and searching for that big love and often times, never find it. Not with that mentality anyway. The universe taught me this lesson early on, but I chose to give it the “up yours” sign and instead became a chameleon in order to make the man happy:

Him: “What’s your favourite food?”

Me: “I don’t know…what’s YOUR favourite food?”

Him: “Probably sushi”

Me: “Oh My God! ME too!”

PS. I HATE sushi.

Enough said. I hang my head in shame.

The universe in Her infinite wisdom, made the lessons harder and harder, until finally, I was sick of my own shit and said, “fuck this, I need to be my own hero and complete myself”, which is the journey I’ve been on for the last 14 months.

So this is the problem with movies like Jerry Maguire; it’s all fun and games and dancing in the dark until we try and apply it to real life and the men run away. Fast. It sets the narrative for a love that isn’t real and cannot be sustained and leads to much disappointment.

I am indefatigable when it comes to love. I peel myself back, layer by layer, for the whole world to see. And I love being that way – gloriously lavish in the face of love.

But, the difference is, notwithstanding my expansive heart, I will never again be a man’s sinner, saint or scapegoat in the quest to make him complete me or vice versa. That is way too much of pressure on him and me. The completeness is an internal job. And it’s a deeply personal job, untainted by the pressures of what society thinks I should be. I will be doing the world an injustice if I choose to fade away and live in the shadows of what any man needs me to be, in order to love me. I will be negating my truth if I stay quiet about who I am. I will die a slow death if I succumb to any labels others place on me, as a result of their personal fight with their own significance. I cannot own any of that anymore. I speak loudly, I cannot be unseen. I leave a lasting impression.  I am unapologetic about it.

Being complete all by myself means that I can love without expectation, demand or fear. So when love came knocking at my door, magic was created because I am me, fully, and he is him, fully.

I am versed in a new lingo. It’s no longer, “you complete me” but rather “I see me, in you”. The point being, I see ME first. And that for me is the REAL love story here. It will never ever end.

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Why Self-Love Matters

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2017 by tivaniam

As a woman, I know how hard it is to revere another woman’s beauty without questioning my own. It’s an inculcated habit stemming from a warped society that gives girls a distorted view about beauty. I am sad to admit that I’ve debased myself repeatedly through the years for not being thin like so and so; or pretty like so and so; or just more of someone else and less like me. 

The problem with that measuring stick is that it’s broken. Comparing our insides to other women’s outsides is like comparing apples to oranges. It just doesn’t translate and we end up feeling deficient because of it.

I never fully understood the concept of self-love, simply because it was lacking for the better part of my life. When I read about people who ‘suffer’ from a self-love deficit, I ticked all the boxes because I never truly understood my worth and assumed it was a normal thing for most women, until I saw this deficit infiltrate so many parts of my life. A healthy self-regard is not simply new-age shit that we need to adopt. There is empirical evidence that shows the correlation between our life choices, our happiness and relationship success based on our belief about ourselves. This basically means that we can only love another, once we have truly learnt how to love ourselves. We cannot honour the divine in someone else without honouring it within ourselves first. And for so many of us, this is incredibly hard to do.

My journey into this idea of self-love and cultivating it stemmed from my failed relationships. I couldn’t understand why I kept attracting a certain type of man into my life – those who were emotionally detached and sometimes abusive. It was only when I made the connection, that I attract who I am, did I take a step back to evaluate. Every one of these failed relationships served as a mirror for me, revealing those parts of me that needed tender loving care. I had to learn how to love, honour, respect and treat myself with kindness in order to receive that back in return.

But, let me say this frankly…self-love and living through awareness is FUCKING HARD. It requires constant introspection and the gentle in-pouring of love into the broken parts within me. This nascent shift for me is bigger than my words can approximate here with metaphors. It’s the ‘knowing’ that I’ve read so much about and which I am now starting to comprehend. The belief that I am the amalgamation of a fierce and formidable spirit housed within a human body that serves me well. It has nothing to do with the size of my waist, colour of my skin or any other superficial trait. 

Today, my invitation to you is this: look at yourself with fresh eyes and marvel at what you’ve done and who you are. Start pouring love into the cracked bits of yourself and watch those pieces merge into something whole. That is an internal job that cannot be executed by another. Love yourself as though your life depended on it, and then watch the effects that self-love has on every single thing you do going forward and watch your relationships transform as you begin to attract only the beautiful things. I know this for a fact as I got to experience the kind of love I have only ever written about and watched in movies, that manifested only when I began to love and honour myself. The mirror effect!

 

 

#MeToo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by tivaniam

I recently shared a #MeToo post on my Facebook profile, because obviously, #MeToo.

For those who aren’t aware, the recent #MeToo social media campaign invited women from across the world to use the hashtag as a way to increase the scope of visibility of those who’ve experienced sexual harassment; from your everyday woman, to celebrities, to politicians. This only serves to highlight the prominence of what is endured silently. And now, women are choosing to banish the shame and fear, and speak out.

This has absolutely nothing to do with victimisation or creating propaganda or more divisiveness. This is about creating awareness and highlighting the change that needs to happen. This is about treating the cause with the reverence it deserves.

I’ve been sexually harassed more times than I can count over the years from men who chose to contact me, unsolicited and uninvited, commenting on everything from my legs; to my ass; to my hair; to my breasts; bartering first, then more insistently explaining why I need to have sex with them. This has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older – it’s become worse.

Today, I received a few of these messages on my public business Facebook page, of which two stood out. Man #1 commented on my legs saying he simply loved the fact that I “showed them off”. When his comment received no response, he messaged me back to say that “I’ve disrespected him by ignoring him”. Man #2 sent me a message saying “Hi honey, I want to get to know you because I like you and you are sexy and I am lonely”. I didn’t respond so he publicly posted his displeasure on my wall: “fucking moron bitch, you are an asshole”.

So this is the thing. It’s easy to harass and abuse power, exert control and dominance or physically intimidate women into silence about these things. I know that I’ve been very afraid to speak about my incidents over the years because a lot of these men were physically overwhelming and scary. Now with social media, virtual harassment is the common practice but not less scary. The bottom line is, hurt people hurt people and it’s about time we get to the real issues, of what’s behind the abuse – pain and fear – and start addressing these social evils that keep us all as sick as our secrets.

The psychology and sociology of these patterns of behaviour need to be looked at, individually first, because from there it has a ripple effect on the collective humanity. We cannot possibly move forward and make the shifts we need consciously if we see ourselves as separate from each other. To those men who choose to dishonour women: understand that by such behaviour, you prevent yourself from levelling up and you perpetuate these vicious cycles onto the next generation and the next generation. Your actions demonstrate your internal inefficiencies and that holds us back from progressing, if it’s left festering in filth.

Immediately, we can start to do better. This starts with being aware.

‘No’ means no.

‘No’ does not mean ‘try harder’.

Single does not mean available.

How a woman dresses is not an invitation for you to pursue her.

Respect boundaries.

Watch your language. There is a fine line between a compliment and sexual objectification or obscenity. 

Hear us. See us. Pay attention.

#MeToo

 

Ellyphantshoe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve always known that nothing worth having comes without some sort of fight. The same can be said for awareness; it tends to be cultivated during those moments of utter despair, usually when you’re face-down in the gutter and everything you’ve known to be true gets questioned.

I’ve spent the last three days immersed in the poignancy that came with the book Ellyphantshoe – a modern-day love story by author Asheen Dayal, who recounts his heart-breaking journey of losing the woman he loved together with the complete and utter degradation of his entire life. Through daily love letters written to her, he speaks of his depression and coming to terms with his life falling apart. Now this is a story I am all-too familiar with.

For 72-hours straight, I looked at life through the lens of Ash, and it was a book that spoke my own personal truth in uncanny ways. Many times during certain chapters I would message him aggressively, asking what sort of wizardry was he up to, and how did he get into the very crevice of my locked away internal and very personal dialogue. His words were always: “keep reading”. I took moments to wipe away hot tears, and at other times laughed at his unpacking of certain things – which closely resonated with my own beliefs. It is raw, unadulterated, sometimes seditious, sometimes ostentatious and sometimes laden with aspersions that made me cringe – all of which were regaled in truth and authenticity.

Ash lays his heart on the line and speaks his truth in all its hideousness. When I playfully critiqued his spelling mistakes he told me that the letters were never meant to be published and when he decided to turn those private letters into a book, he wanted to make it as authentic and real as possible. I respected that immensely and dropped my editor and writer’s hat. I read the book as a woman and it spoke to the very core of me.

More than being voyeurs into the life and heart of a man, this book is an invitation. Very often I have expressed that sentiment in my work, saying that people don’t need to agree or disagree with what my thoughts are, they simply need to sit with the possibility of what merit can be found in my words. The same rings true for Ash. And I’ve said it a million times over that truth is like a boomerang, it comes back to you. And when one person speaks their truth, it gives other people permission to do the same. So when I read Ash’s words, I was so grateful that someone else in this world felt as I did. That you simply cannot exchange goodness for immunity from life’s challenges. All of us get bludgeoned by life and even if we don’t understand it now, these happenings are all meant for our highest good that we’ve attracted into our consciousness, so that we can learn something that will propel us to where we need to go in order to grow. People don’t remember easy. People remember the blood and the bones and the long agonising fight when we claw our way back from rock-bottom. And that is how we become legendary.

People like Ash and I – the proverbial truth-tellers, become that way because of devastation and when you’re faced with it, you develop an aversion for lies. The lies we tell ourselves daily. It is when you learn the hard lessons that you realise that not a moment can be wasted on half-truths. So many of us have been where faith and hope couldn’t find us and we stare blindly into the darkness. At the end, everything does eventually become quiet and all that’s left is the beat of your own heart. You better like the sound of it. All the battles we wage are with ourselves.

Ellyphantshoe – an invitation to be stunningly unusual instead of perfectly fake. Thank you Ash. I honour you.

 

 

Stepping Into The Arena

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve always loved the excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech that goes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

This resonates deeply with me because I consider myself to be in the arena, trying to make a difference. By speaking my truth and sharing my stories, I try to provoke thinking and honest, open conversations. This takes an enormous amount of courage because the vulnerability required to proverbially lay myself bare, leaves me open to massive amounts of criticism. Sometimes the criticism hurts, only because it triggers self-doubt and a fear-based belief of not being good enough. But, I have recently started to learn how to love myself through the process of owning my story and in this continued learning, I silence my inner critic.

As a writer I know that telling my truth, being vulnerable and living authentically means I can easily get my ass kicked. I am learning how to be comfortable with that, because the bigger picture is not about winning approval. It’s about showing up and being seen. That is part of my purpose. And this purpose is not static, it is dynamic. In the hope that my courage becomes contagious, the idea for me is about giving others permission to see that a rise can come after a fall and that it’s okay to be afraid but we need to start waking up and paying attention. Leaning in to our fears and taking a closer look at our darkness is where we start making space for the light and joy to enter our lives. If we are constantly judging and shaming others, we remove our ability for connection and love. How do we ever progress individually or collectively if that remains our default way of being?

I understand the pervasiveness of fear and why it’s easy to default to self-preservation by becoming defensive and critical of others. But, as is self-evident with what is happening in our world right now, it’s become so much more important to take off the game face and armour and allow for our true selves to be seen. This means taking a step back, listening more than talking, and practising our values, rather than simply professing them. When we spend our lives performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving, we negate our truth and become as sick as our secrets. It is incredibly difficult to practice compassion and empathy if we have issues internally that we refuse to look at. Compassion is only real when we recognise our shared humanity and know our own darkness by name so that we can be truly present with the darkness of others. Choosing to live in judgment of others and engaging in shame-inducing behaviour only reveals the pain and fear inside you.

The bottom line is: all of us need to be in the arena. All of us. We need to shift our consciousness from fear-based behaviour into love. Our hopes for a better world for our children rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted behaviour of full acceptance of ourselves and others, which arises from beyond the mind.

Today, choose to walk into the arena, knowing there’s a chance you’d get bloodied and bruised, but also with the sense of pride that by living in your truth, you are giving others permission to do the same.

 

Love And Death 

Posted in Uncategorized on September 17, 2017 by tivaniam

Darkness paid me a visit this week. The days blended into each other after I got the news of my ex-husband’s death. We had such a turbulent relationship for the 21 years we knew each other, and for the 16 years of our daughter’s life, he’d been absent. The years brought with it lots of anger and resentment for the myriad ways in which he fucked up royally, top of the list being his perceived lack of regard for our daughter. 

Every single day this past week, fear was doing push-ups while I tried to sleep, and every morning, it won the fight. I was consumed with fear of how my daughter would handle this. And I was plagued with sadness of my own, for the loss of a soul that I wasn’t able to save.

But. Death is a beautiful gift. Because it brings with it only love. And I realised that the places where I have the biggest challenges are the places where I have the most to give. So I forgave him. And allowed his soul to transcend this dimension in peace and compassion. Strangely that process of letting go filled me with absolute authentic love for him. And I was able to honour him as the father of my child. In so doing, I gave my daughter permission to do the same. 

But, death shouldn’t be the catalyst for forgiveness and love. And that for me was the bigger lesson. That while we still have the chance, forgiveness and love should be extended to whomever wronged us, in order to set our own souls free. Harbouring resentment and pain only perpetuates pain in this world and we all know we can do with a lot more love and light.

I finally saw in him, a man who was overcome with pain and sadness and who resigned from his life years ago. His lack of emotion literally caused his heart to shut down and the traumatic experiences he endured and never faced only served to keep his energy stagnant. This was all he knew how to be. And I couldn’t save him from that. It wasn’t my job to undertake.

For the most part, this week has taught me a lot about myself too. For knowing when to accept the things I cannot change and being able to grow through really rough times. The impermanence of life is this and we have to move with the ebb and flow. Resistance only causes suffering and that’s futile. Accepting what is and knowing when to surrender – that’s one more step to life mastery. At the end of the day, the very basic truth is: Love is all there is. And it’s bigger than fear. It’s even bigger than death. 

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