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The Tenacity of the Human Spirit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2018 by tivaniam

A couple of months ago, a very special friend of mine got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – a potentially disabling disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. My friend is in her late 20’s and was relatively well until this diagnosis. When I heard about it, my immediate and instinctive reaction was grief and sorrow for what the future now holds for her. I am ashamed at myself for having that reaction. Even more so after seeing her a couple of times this week. She’s vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic and accepting of her diagnosis with more strength and positivity than I gave her credit for, even through her changing physicality.

Similarly, another very special friend was diagnosed at the age of 17 with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy – a weakness and wasting away of limb muscles. She’s in her early 30’s and led an active life until the point of diagnosis. A few weeks ago she was bungee jumping off a dizzying height, followed in tandem by the experience of sampling Mopane Worms – a LARGE, edible caterpillar. My idea of adventure is a lovely, DRIVEN experience through a scenic countryside. So when I questioned my friend’s sanity, her emphatic response was that life is meant to be lived.

I believe in the adage that, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And in these two beautiful humans, I was taught invaluable life lessons. I am no stranger to crisis and I often wax lyrical about finding the gifts in them, yet my conditioned response to these two women, was to engage them with sympathy. What a small mind-set to have, and what a stunning lesson to have learnt. I’ve watched in awe, the way in which these two women have dealt with their respective diseases and how they both now choose to live their lives – fully and completely present in the now. Each moment for them counts, each day of good health is one to be celebrated in gratitude. Life for them is about creating memories and cherishing the good times. How fortunate am I to have such amazing teachers in my life!

We cognitively know that life is precious and a moment of impact can change it forever. But, we actually take for granted the enormity of what this actually means. Don’t wait for something cataclysmic to happen before making a change.  Don’t waste time waiting for the perfect moment to say something to someone, or to do something, or to take the leap toward the life of your dreams. Everything can change in an instant and there is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow will come. There is also no meritocratic system in this world, bad shit happens to good people. But, through the bad shit, there is always a lesson. And you need to pay attention to what the universe is trying to tell you.

Maybe you’re cruising and not doing what you’re meant to be doing. Maybe you’re lazy as fuck and letting life pass you by. Maybe you’re so focused on negativity that you just create more and more of it, and don’t see any possibility. Maybe you’re a perpetual victim so the world simply hands your ass to you, time and again. Whatever it is, your current life situation is telling you something. How you FEEL is telling you something. And the time is NOW to make that change, if you want to, towards a more fulfilling life…or, remain the same, and live with regrets later on. The choice is yours, so are the consequences.

The lesson for me, was a reminder of the tenacity of the human spirit and its ability to transcend anything. More than that, is the wake-up call I needed to step up, and be more fierce, more courageous, more compelling with my truth…just more. I made a promise to myself four years ago that I would never play small and these two women served as a reminder to myself, of that commitment.

 

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Who Are You…Before The World Taught You Who To Be?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2018 by tivaniam

There is a fundamental need that we possess, which we aren’t talking about. It’s the need to tell the truth. Our individual truth. The voice we try to suppress and drown out.

This past week, two celebrities committed suicide within days of each other, shocking their friends and families, all of whom assumed that these people were happy. When you’re living a life of pretence, you become the greatest actor. Life imitates art.

In this era of social media dominance, we are consumed with comparing our “behind the scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel”.  We have lost perspective and forget that people are putting forward the very best versions of themselves, which can often be nothing more than a facade. We spend so much of time pretending to have perfect lives externally, when the internal reality paints a very different picture.

The desire to fit in is so consuming that people are choosing to end their lives, literally, because of the suppression of their truths. We fake the smiles and happiness. We post stuff on Instagram and Facebook pretending to try and bridge the gap between who we are, and how we want other people to perceive us. We’ve become masters at meeting other peoples’ expectations.

All of this pretending is nothing more than lying. Lying to please others. And it’s making us sick physically and emotionally. We’re a society that is anxious, depressed, addicted and suffering. We’ve become so obsessed with fitting into a societal norm that teaches us to do more, to have more, to want more…and all it seems to be doing is making us more and more miserable.

So, who are you, before the world taught you who to be? Do you even know what that looks like? What freedom tastes like? What happiness feels like?

Prior to my failed suicide attempt four years ago, I was never able to answer these questions. All I wanted to do was fit in, be accepted and not judged. I moulded myself into the woman everyone else wanted me to be. I never listened to my own internal voice and truth and I negated my desires and dreams until I was prepared to end my life for it. Surviving my suicide attempt was the wake-up call I needed. I promised myself then, that I would never ever sacrifice my life in the pursuit of making others happy, or conforming to some stupid prescribed way of being that never encompassed my personal truth. I wanted to figure out who I am for myself, and what I was here to bring. And I got the answer. I discovered my voice and purpose and I was never silenced again. That is true authentic power. Had I fulfilled that intention to kill myself, this world would be robbed of my voice, my words and the gifts that I am here to bring; teaching others about hope and redemption. I will never again give anyone the power to dictate how I should be, how I should live or who I should love.

When you step into the light of who you truly are, you find real freedom and happiness that is authentic which can never be taken away. When will you understand how precious life is? When you’re on your deathbed riddled with regrets? Think about it.

Make today the day. Start now. Choose you.

 

Opening Your Heart To Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2018 by tivaniam

I had the honour this past weekend to be in service of others, assisting them to transcend the bullshit and begin to live through the lens of their real essence. In so doing, I served myself in the most powerful way.

I’ve always held a reverence for love, and I have learnt through the years, the power and magnitude of it. But never have I seen so powerfully, the PHYSICAL manifestation of it, than I did this weekend. It rendered the entire group of witnesses, speechless and emotional. It became so clear to me then that the ego can try and put up the best fight, but it never ever wins. Love ALWAYS wins, and I bow before its grace.

We’ve been raised with so much of conditioned thinking and prescribed ways of being. It is so difficult to listen to the call of our own voice in the midst of the whisperings of others. We’ve been fed the dichotomy that men are emotionless and women in need of saving. Movies and fairy-tales lend credence to this hype and we fall prey to the belief. As a result, men are scared to be vulnerable. They’re taught to “cowboy” up, balls to the wall, and get on with it. Women are meant to be selfless and quiet. So the Heart loses to the Brain in the game of Love, when Truth wants to emerge. The Brain, knowing it’s about to lose its power, kicks in, amps up, puts up the biggest fight and ruins everything in its wake.

An example of this, is my boyfriend, who is a verified head case. He is a civil engineer by profession and also someone who fell into the habit of conditioned ways of thinking. To him, everything should be analysed, preferably on an excel spreadsheet, with clearly defined formulae to get to the root of a problem. This thought process can take days, weeks or months to be completed. And often ends up with no solution (much to the disappointment of his very male-ego).

So, I taught him another way, and made him delete the spreadsheets. I showed him the power of love that was inherent in him as the way to get to solutions, through the FEELING of it, which is actually the real compass. It’s been a painstakingly difficult task. But, I know it has worked to transcend his stupid ego and analytical brain, because now he is a man who FEELS AND CRIES.  Openly. As was the case this past weekend, where he got to witness men just like him, transcend their own bullshit and emerge as pure love. It was so beautiful to watch.

This is the lesson for every one of us. To be aware of when the ego speaks, in the form of the stories it tells, and when the heart speaks, in terms of the actual truth. Your GPS is your feelings. They navigate you to your destination on the route of least resistance. It is the only thing you should listen to. You are never ever required to stop and ask anyone for directions. No one knows your destination. We have to get into the habit of drowning out the voices of others. We have to un-become. We have to reverse the conditioning, shut down the ego, and discover what is real and true for ourselves, something that is subjective and personal. We need to become unapologetic about it. This is life mastery. And the way to get there, is only and ever through love.

Who Are You Going To Blame Your Life On Today?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2018 by tivaniam

For many years, I owned the title of “victim” and wore it as a badge of honour. It served me so well. I got sympathy when I needed it, and it absolved me from taking any ownership over the shit-show that was my life. It kept me feeling small and was the excuse I used to hold myself back from making any sort of progress or achievement in my life.

I played the blame-game and reached pro-level at pointing fingers for what my life had amounted to. It was nothing more than entrapment and justification for why I was where I didn’t want to be. On the surface, it looked like a very difficult life – and with respect to me, it really was. I experienced the kind of things that would render most people insane and institutionalised. BUT, I learnt that all of this happened to me because I created it.

Taking full responsibility and owning this mentality is a very bitter pill to swallow for many people.  Taking a long, stark look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers is the hardest job in the world. It involves brutal honesty, absolute introspection, and accountability, and that is extremely scary and overwhelming.

Four years ago, after my failed suicide attempt, I was forced to wake up and pay attention because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. So I began the hard work, taking ownership of every aspect of my life and where I found myself. It’s a never-ending journey that requires me to be awake every single moment of the day because it’s so easy to default to victimhood and blame. Taking a look inward isn’t easy but it’s empowering and liberating to accept that no one has the power to make you feel any particular way. No one has the power to control your life and no one has the authority to tell you how to live it. When you accept that, you make your life less of a democracy and you step into authentic power where the actions of others have nothing to do with you.

I don’t have a history to guide me as I navigate unchartered territories. I am simply brave enough to explore the realms of my own possibilities, and because, as an author and writer I choose to have my life publicised, I hope that my truth-telling can become the key to unlocking the prison of someone else’s mind. More than that, taking responsibility for my life and telling the truth about it, gives my kids permission to do the same. My kids don’t need me to die from the burden of pretending. They don’t need a mother that’s a martyr. They need a mother who is real and true. That begins with taking full responsibility over my life.

The change from blame to responsibility shifted me emotionally and life followed suit. I began creating magic where once only shit resided. Where my life is now compared to a couple of years ago is such a big contrast that it shocks me still. And that tangible difference allows me to remain conscious even during those moments when my ego takes over and I point a finger. The awareness forces me to look inwardly, ask the tough questions and make the correct changes.

So, are you willing to hold up that mirror?

Or, who are you going to blame your life on today?

 

Banishing Silence: Stepping Into Truth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2018 by tivaniam

At the age of 19, I was raped.

For 17 years, I kept it a secret, only telling a select few, until last year when I decided to write about it in my autobiography. The details of the incident are discussed in my book, but to me are inconsequential. The bigger issue for me is why I remained silent. Why women continue to remain silent.

Over the years, I’ve experienced sexual harassment verbally, physically and digitally and only recently elected to openly discuss these issues. Why? Because, for years, I was filled with shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear of judgment and ridicule and more importantly, the belief that I would be considered “less than” by any man who wanted to be with me.

It’s a generational pathology to simply do what was always done. And for decades women have been taught to smile and be silent out of fear of judgment and shame. We live in a society that teaches women to shrink, and to be ashamed of telling the truth. But for me, the moment anyone invalidates someone else’s truth, they dehumanise them. I had to learn, that when people start the rumours, when they judge, when they re-tell my story disparagingly, when they mock or ridicule or try to shame me, it’s never ever about me.

Writing has become my solitary place where I’m paying the most attention. It’s a place where my heart is wide open and I am the purest version of myself. It’s also where I am told to be silent, because truth is very inconvenient. I’ve always known that my silence never served me, and since beginning this journey of  truth telling, I accepted my life is the amalgam of brutal and beautiful and I needed to own that, unapologetically, if I was to make any difference in this world.

As women, we are taught that certain things are “unbecoming of a girl” and when we cross the line, there is a hefty price to pay. We weren’t allowed to speak about contentious issues like rape, abuse or sexual harassment, and we couldn’t be smart and draw attention to our intellect.

But silence either makes us too tender or too tough. This metastasizes into either ass-kissing and people pleasing, or conversely, aggression and anger. We become as sick as our secrets.

Fear of judgment, shame and guilt, is a nefarious act that holds us captive from speaking out. This tyranny of impoverished thinking has kept us prisoners in our own minds. We don’t speak out, because we want to be “normal” and accepted but we end up with the truth seeping out sideways through depression or addiction. We need to open our mouths more often to let the truth exist outside rather than allowing our bodies, minds and souls to rot by keeping it inside.

Offering my experience to the world was a form of truth-telling in a way that changed the trajectory of my life. My silence gave other people the power to decide my worth and plan my life for me. When you’re living in the echo chamber of your own mind, you cannot have discernment. When I chose to speak my truth, I did so for posterity’s sake, to change belief systems and give my daughter and the generations to come permission to do the same. No one will determine my story, only I will. My voice will change the world. If it makes you uncomfortable then it’s working. Truth sounds a lot like hate, for those who hate the truth.

In an era that promotes universal facades and pretence, telling the truth starts a revolution.

Insurgent women, it’s time to rise up. Be less concerned with judgment and more concerned with redemption. The time is up for remaining silent.

A Letter To All Parents

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2018 by tivaniam

When I became a mother 16 years ago, by my own admission, I fucked up a lot. Like most people, I subscribed to deep-rooted cultural beliefs that defined how I parented which closely resembled what I had seen and experienced growing up. In the Indian community especially, there is a prescribed way of parenting and that involves control and enforced discipline, unquestioning uniformity with religious beliefs and an unhealthy affliction toward academic excellence and career aspirations that fit into parents’ unequivocal instruction.

Thankfully, I woke up four years ago, and managed to change my belief system before it caused serious damage to both my children. It is very easy to fall into the trap of becoming puppets to a cultured way of thinking that decides for us what being “good” or “bad” means. We have unconsciously bought into this parity to the detriment of our children. I was lucky enough to start questioning whether I wanted to conform to this ideology of what was taught to me and began empowering myself as a parent. Culture has taught us that disciplining our children is what is required in order to turn them from “bad” kids to “good” kids. Culture has taught us that we need to control our children and that they need to be busy every day. But do we really understand that the culture we’ve bought into only exists in our mind? We’ve created this mandate that if our kids are “bad” we have the right to punish. We have the right to push them to succeed and constantly achieve. We have the right to threaten them and constantly compare them to others or compete with others. Do we understand that this methodology means placing our kids at the bottom, and us, as parents, on top?

I am here to tell you that this way of thinking is the reason that suicide levels amongst the youth are so high.

I am here to tell you that this is why depression amongst pre-teens turns into drug and alcohol abuse later.

I am here to tell you that this is how stress, anxiety and fear take over the joy and aliveness our children are born with.

I am here to tell you that this begins and ends with you, parents.

I have chosen to separate from culture and not give a fuck about who will judge me. I’ve chosen to allow my kids to figure out what is uniquely their own talent and not what I want for them. I want them to discover their own spirit and essence. This is my role as a mother. To take their soul into wholeness and not disintegrate it, as some parents do. This can only be done if you separate from the indoctrinations that govern your parenting style.

If you really love your children, and want to do better, it’s time to think about the way you parent and the destruction that is caused by your behaviour. We do not own our children. We do not live vicariously through them. Our children are here to teach us. We need to pay attention.

 

 

Being Still: An End To 2017

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by tivaniam

For the first time in many years, I will be spending this Christmas and New Year all alone, without my family, friends or kids; purely by choice. It may seem like an odd concept for those who fall prey to the hype of what society has conditioned us to believe December ought to be – a time of partying, holidays, celebration, festivities and frivolity. And yes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t buy into the hype too at one point, but for me, this year has been a shift, an ‘unbecoming’ of sorts. So, in that vein, I wanted to end the year differently; alone.

I have done no shopping for Christmas, bought no presents, and have minimised my life for the next few weeks in order to find out what is real and true for me. And the only way to do that is to get really still. It’s an emotional clearing that only solitude can bring. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in this world that teaches us to keep moving and never stop. This is how ‘dis-ease’ creeps in, where we make ourselves sick and miserable believing we are missing out if we don’t join the race. Yet oftentimes, we are like hamsters on a wheel, never making progress toward anything meaningful, trying to strive for a dream that may not even be ours.

I want to find the rapture of living that makes my heart leap, without the pomp and fancy. This is where true transformation takes place, where only my heart speaks and the imperious voices in my head become still. In silence, there is certainty and it introduces you to the secrets of yourself. Water derives lucidity from stillness, imagine how much more profound it can be with the human mind. I want my life to be a reflection of my heart, and that involves a spiritual stillness that takes root in my soul.

Everything gets created through an idea and a thought, and those moments of creative spark can only come through from the nothingness of silence.

So while I am trying to find this expansive spaciousness, I wish you and yours a happy and prosperous 2018. And if, like me, you’re alone this festive season – by choice or circumstance – I wish for you, the gift of clarity and beauty that may be found in the ordinary things. Where we can savour whatever we have, wherever we find ourselves.

I will see you on the other side.

With much love, aliveness and peace xoxo

 

 

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