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.

 

 

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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. 

An Open Letter to Indian Men

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2017 by tivaniam

Disclaimer:

This post is guaranteed to offend someone and in that event, I invite you to take a long, hard look at yourself and consider why you find this offensive – perhaps there is some truth to what I’ve said, and if so, that’s the first step in changing patterns of behaviour that are harmful. Secondly, while this is directed to Indian men, solely from the standpoint of being an Indian woman, this does not preclude men from other races who adopt the same attributes.

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As a published writer, opening myself up to public commentary and judgment is par for the course. It’s something I signed up for when I committed my life to my craft: to live my purpose as a conscious writer.  I know I am not here to win points. I am here to create awareness through my writing by sharing candid and authentic stories of hope and redemption, based on what I have experienced in my life. This is the only reason I reference my past – not to focus on negativity, but to provide relatable stories that anyone can resonate with and be inspired enough to believe that life can change and get better.

Recently, a newspaper contacted me wanting me to highlight my story and journey with depression. I shared my story openly, and received some amazing feedback from so many wonderful men and women, who felt inspired and hopeful to overcome their own experiences. I’ve had a few people – men and women alike – tell me that I saved them from suicide, which for me was the biggest affirmation that I am living my essence and my soul’s calling.

That opened itself up to lots of interaction with a lot of different people. I received messages from broken Indian women, who are held captive by depression because they’re in abusive relationships with Indian men. The stories shared with me filled me with horror – stories of violence, degradation, humiliation and emotional abuse of the worst kind. It left me emotionally and physically depleted because I am totally ill-equipped to deal with this and all I could do was lend a comforting ear.

Over and above that, the brevity within which Indian men slid into DM’s on every social media platform that they could find me, to strike up random non-related conversations, ranging from complimenting my looks and my legs; to asking for my number; or pretending to need writing work done then asking for my number – culminated in this post. I realised that I may not be able to do anything for these women who are beaten down, but I can use my voice through the written word.

Indian men: many of you were raised in homes that predefined the role of a man. You were led to believe that being a man means negating your feelings and emotions and ruling with an iron-fist. You were raised in a society that promoted ‘manliness’ over sensitivity, relegating the latter to a solely female trait. You were taught to believe that you had to have a partner who was submissive and you had to be respected because you were born a male. Many of you were told that men don’t cry. And as a result, your emotions got suppressed and you became hardened, and suppressed sorrow can only turn into rage. Rage that gets taken out on those you love.

Indian men: many of you were raised as misogynists, considering women as second-class citizens, sex-objects there for your glorification and people of lesser intellect and strength.  This is why you continue to objectify women instead of seeing us in God-form and equal. This is why some of you can confront a woman through social media, commenting on what she looks like, rather than what she is looking AT or trying to achieve. Many of you violate women based on your internal deficiencies and illnesses. The way a woman looks, dresses or carries herself is not an invitation for you to proceed – violently or otherwise. And, ‘single’ does not mean ‘available’.

Indian men: many of you perpetuated the cycle of dysfunction that you were raised with, modelling the role of your own father who was absent or conditioned from his personal experiences and childhood.

Indian men: this is the cycle you will continue with your children – sons who become hardened and angry, and girls who learn how to become doormats.

But, Indian men: cycles can be broken. A new reference point can begin. It starts with you. It starts with talking openly and honestly about stuff that men are told never to speak about – feelings and emotions. I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing transformations of so many Indian men, who were once plagued by cyclical dysfunction, but who were brave enough to transcend it and pave a new way for himself and his children and the generations to follow. We need to shift into a new way of thinking and Being in this world. We simply cannot operate as the generations that came before us. It is self-evident that they fucked it up. We have to begin afresh and create a shift in consciousness by returning to innocence and purity.

Indian men: my invitation to you is this. Change how you view the world and yourself in it. Let go of preconceived ideas and ways of conditioned thinking and indoctrination. Stop regarding men and women as being separate. Instead, consider all of us to be the same thread stemming from the same tapestry. Teach your sons and daughters that gender specific roles are an illusion – anyone can do anything at any time. Indian men, start believing that a house is made a home by both parties and that domesticity is not confined to a woman, neither is raising kids nor cooking. Understand that women can be the fiercest opponents in business and are capable of running our own finances and getting shit done.

Indian men: understand that violence of any kind is an explosion of the pain that is internal. Deal with the pain and not the trigger of what set you off.

Indian men, the time for restoration is now. The world needs more comforters, nurturers, peace-makers, truth-tellers and game-changers. Indian men, it begins and ends with you. What you do today can alter the course of generations that follow, which collectively is the change we need to see in the world. It’s time to step up and be about something.

Follow Your Bliss: A Journey Inward

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2017 by tivaniam

For many years my idea of ‘following my bliss’ was very singular – becoming a writer. I spent two decades immersed in fear and wondering if I will be accepted because in my mind, there were countless writers who came before me, doing the same thing. I eventually got tired of my own shit and persistent internal longings and chose to live in my truth, because the idea to be a writer had nothing to do with recognition and everything to do with the sound of my own heart. So I did an excavation of my soul and actualised that longing, removed from ego.  And so I thought I had arrived. I followed my bliss and I am living it daily.

Then, over the last six months, I had a revelation that the concept of bliss is incredibly multifaceted and not exclusive to what I do, but rather about how I want to spend the rest of my days. And this is the biggest thing because it means that my authenticity has to be absolute and consistent.  For the last few years I felt like I could pride myself on my authenticity until recent events showed me how inconsistent I’ve been. Lessons are still repeating itself because of a deep-rooted belief that I’ve held on to and evidently NOT released  – the need for approval and acceptance, the desire to be LIKED because I’M A NICE PERSON.  Meaning, I am sort of ashamed of some truths because of how I may be received. Therefore, I am not completely and fully authentic. Well, fuck.

So, this is the thing. Until we learn, the lessons never end. And, they get harder. And when you learn the lessons, even more gets revealed – sort of like peeling an onion. Layers and layers of stuff get revealed that we are forced to look at – if we want to – or ignore and cause suffering to ourselves.

This was the biggest lesson for me in recent weeks. Letting go of the need to be chosen, the need to be accepted and liked, the need to be revered and validated – all of that stuff is the opposite of following my bliss. Following my bliss means being true to me. Only me. My own heart, my own dreams, my own passions, desires and happiness. It sounds selfish but it’s actually the biggest act of love. Love emanates from self-love first.

I wrote this piece because I felt like we all need to be freer. We could all use the release of this heavy pressure we place on ourselves where we hook our worth from our performances in this world. We need to learn how to re-centre our lives on grace for ourselves first without the desire to prove anything to anyone. I am learning with each new day what it means to be truly present. And that for me starts with being absolutely true to myself, without the fear of how that is perceived to others or whether I am liked. Now, following my bliss means doing whatever it takes to be well and truly happy. Imagine if all of us chose to live that way? A humanity that loves freely and fully and lives their lives to the beat of their own drum, the sound of their own heart…That for me is the divine spark we all need to intertwine our hearts – making us all that much more grateful and gracious. That is how we shift collective consciousness. THAT is the bliss we need more of. And yes, it starts with me.

 

Ditching Shame and Guilt

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2017 by tivaniam

Shame and Guilt: two bastard passengers who rode shotgun with me through the journey of my life. For over two decades they followed me everywhere, making my trips arduous and preventing me from sightseeing.

Then, 3.5 years ago, I tossed them out the car. Mid-drive, I opened my window, wind flying through my hair, and told them to fuck off. I was taking this trip alone. And so I did.

For a while it was great. I enjoyed the ride. I felt free and alive. And then recently, someone invited Shame into my life again. And I accepted the invitation, believing wholeheartedly that I missed the company.  Guilt followed soon after, without the invitation, knowing his presence was always welcomed.  I lost myself briefly, carrying the weight of two unwelcomed passengers until I had to learn the lesson again, this time in a more painful way. The all-familiar conversations happened in my head, as it used to, years before:

“Who do you think you are?”

 “You’ve been divorced twice, you’re not worthy”

“Look at you, failing again. Stupid”

“You’re a joke, a fake, a mistake”

This kind of behaviour can quickly become so entrenched, that who I really am, gets blurred even to me. But because I am a truth-teller inherently, I know when I’m not aligned to my purpose. Even if I lie to myself, my body tells me loud and clear when I am off-centre: insomnia, stomach issues, migraines, crying all the time, chest pain – all happening at once. I know that the minute I listen to the murmurings of other people, who don’t have my best interest at heart and who simply have an agenda, I end up getting physically sick, anxious and depressed. And that for me is too high a price to pay. I spent so many years being ashamed of myself for so many different things, it kept me from being the full expression of who I am. I was content to play it safe and remain small because the alternative was way too scary. Life had other plans for me though, and if I was going to use my lessons in service of others, I knew I had to start living in my own truth. I haven’t worked this hard for this long to go back to being asleep.  So I call myself out on my own shit, ditch the noise and reconnect to my truth. And then, obviously, share the lesson.

So here it is.

There is an epidemic in our culture. People are living in sacrifice because they choose the safety and seduction of living a lie and owning shame and guilt offered to them by others.  The ‘others’ I speak of – however well-intentioned – are people that serve to stifle you from your own growth because they’re too afraid to live their truth. Old constructs of thinking, handed down from generation to generation is another reason why people remain stuck. Removing shame and guilt is incredibly difficult. It means being vulnerable because telling the truth leaves you exposed and open to judgment and criticism. It can sometimes mean the end of relationships, severing family ties or friendships and going against the norm. For so many, this is an enormous thing to bear and therefore honesty and authenticity is unattainable.

For women: shame is a straightjacket, telling us to compete with society’s ideals of how we’re meant to be – thin, perfect, silent, smiling.

For men: don’t be weak, die on top of your white horse instead of falling down. Don’t show your emotions. Work is first. Pursue status.

This concept is flawed. Because, if you choose to live within the confines of shame and guilt, negating what is real and true for you and thinking you’ll be okay with the lie, your sadness, pain and suffering will transpose in another way: alcohol, drug or sex addiction; depression; binge eating or starving yourself; suicide ideations; physical ailments; or hopping from one meaningless relationship to another in order to seek validation.

The idea is not to set up residence with the shame – it’s to find a way through it. We have the most compelling reason to have these conversations – people are killing themselves because the pain is too consuming. When will we ever learn that the truth sets us free! Living a life of authenticity, ditching the shame and guilt for what we perceive as failure, IS a catalyst for massive growth. It’s the gift of freedom, peace and self-love. Every single person who made a difference in this world did so by being true to their own heart, by listening to their own voices and telling the truth. This meant owning their failures and many of the most formidable and inspiring people failed many times over. They had to experience failure in order to grow from it. There is no learning involved when things go smoothly. Ruin is where transformation begins. There is no shame or guilt in that.

The vulnerability needed to release shame and guilt and step into your own truth and your own voice is the single biggest act of courage. Today, I invite you to embrace the courage that lives inside you, and start being true. It will lead you toward a path of happiness and peace. There is nothing more important in this world, than that. The alternative is a slow death. This I know for sure.

Effecting Change: Rebelling Against ‘Indian Woman Syndrome’

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

“Smile quietly” was in the contract I signed when I agreed to be born an Indian and specifically a woman. We are raised to smile quietly because of “what the people would say”, and we are raised to smile quietly “for the sake of the children”. Two principles that I ferociously rebel against, and which I refuse to subscribe to, something that has become such a pandemic that I refer to it as the “Indian Woman Syndrome” although it extends deeply to Indian men alike.  Even in progressive times, this seems to be the mind-set that Indian people STILL adopt.  And sadly, as a result, we stay as sick as our secrets – that which we refuse to acknowledge, face or speak about.

As an Indian, specifically a woman, I was supposed to stay in my marriage for the sake of the kids. Because, what would people say if I chose the alternative? So I stayed. For a while, until death became an option. And I realised that my choice to live my life in sacrifice, wasn’t serving anyone, least of all my children – MOST of all myself.

So I left. Twice. Two marriages, several relationships and jobs and people – everything that didn’t serve me or make me happy. I went against the grain of what I was SUPPOSED to be, and chose to be real. And yes, people judged. Harshly. I lost friends and family. The words I was called and the judgment thrown at me stung me terribly. Enough to make me want to shrink back.

But I didn’t. Because there was something inside me that screamed louder than any of the names I was called.

Saying “fuck-it” to the ideals society prescribed for me meant choosing to turn my insides out, and with that meant not only making different choices, but also doing it vocally. I began writing my truth, living my truth and BEING my truth. And as I shared my life through my words, my truth started setting others free to share THEIR truths. Because there are people, Indians specifically, who knew EXACTLY what I was feeling, who shared the same hopelessness and helplessness and despair but stay in bad marriages or relationships for the children and because of what people would say if they chose to be selfish and do what makes them happy.

This limiting belief system perpetuates the cycle that I see continuously with Indian people. The antiquated, indoctrinated beliefs predominantly stemming from religion that promotes patriarchy and teaches us to live in sacrifice. The need to put on facades in an effort to save face has caused so many Indian people to lose themselves and live existentially, miserable and hateful of the world. This in turn gets repeated with their children who emulate what they learn – the boys become misogynists, the girls, doormats – and without any concept of what authenticity, aliveness, freedom and love truly means. Ingrained prejudices are carried forward and we do not progress as a culture or the collective human species.

So why choose to live in that limiting way?

To try and be liked by everyone? What a waste of a life. Because no matter how hard you work or how self-righteous you think you are, you will never EVER make everyone like you. But, if you make yourself heard, if you live a life that’s true, you will find the RIGHT people to love and be loved by. You would encourage your children to be real and teach them, through example, about self-love and true freedom of expression. Can you imagine the possibility of what the world could hold for them or you if you expanded your belief system instead of following old ideologies that had no place back then, certainly not now, that only serve to make people conform?

Be a rebel. Live your truth out loud. And see the ripple effects of what that authenticity, peace and aliveness does for you, your children and then the world at large. When you choose YOU, you give others permission to do the same for themselves. I am a living testament of that, and so are my children who are happy, well-adjusted, emotionally stable, kind and loving kids NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that I left their dads. Or perhaps…because of it.

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