Archive for life

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.

Rising Strong – My New Take On Getting Older

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2017 by tivaniam

My 36th birthday is looming and with it, the newfound excitement that I have for getting older. Yes, you read right. I am excited to be getting older.

For many years, I dreaded my birthday for different reasons, most important of which was the realisation that my lost youth could never be recaptured, as I inched towards “middle age”. That idea meant I had to finally step up into this whole ‘adulting’ concept, something I’ve waged a war against for many years. I do it grudgingly, and most often, badly. These days, I’ve learnt to embrace being a grown up and with that comes many privileges.

The last three years have been amazing for me from a growth perspective. Some of my toughest life lessons were the catalyst for such a deep awakening, so much so, that I still shock myself with the enormity of what I’ve managed to manifest in my life. This year, reflecting on my 36th year, I realised that I spent over two decades worrying about what people thought about me. And now, finally, I have zero fucks to give. Zero. I am so happy! I don’t care anymore about fitting in. I don’t need to please anyone except myself and I don’t need to conform to society’s idea of who or what I should be because no one knows, except me, the truth of who I am. Therefore why ask permission? Why ask for direction from people, for places they’ve never been! It’s no one’s job to know who I am becoming. That’s my job. So I don’t take on their fear because I choose to be brave about my life.

When I was 18, I entered a beauty pageant because I thought that would make me feel better about myself. Midway, I lost the lines to my speech and had a real life “drop the mic” moment and ran off stage. I don’t think I ever got over the judgment I thought I faced amidst the hordes of people who witnessed that, neither was there a bigger affirmation that I was not good enough. That narrative stayed with me and intensified over the years and needless to say, I created that reality of judgment and the perception of not good enough was revealed to me because that’s the literal way the universe works. And, for two decades that’s how I’ve lived.

Now, at almost 36, I am finally unbecoming. It’s only taken 36 years. I am finding my way back to innocence, purity, childlike joy and wonder and wide-eyed hope. It’s taken 36 years to return to myself instead of being what the world told me to be. With each year, I become more and more of who I’m meant to be. I embrace the fact that I’m a grown up and nobody is the boss of me anymore. I don’t need to audition for life because there are simply no more judges in front of which to freeze.

I am finally allowing life to live through me and I am finally listening to the call of my authentic self. That for me is the greatest gift of getting older.

Become A Life Adventurer

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

We are all raised with traditional dogmas that some of us – if we are really lucky – get to unpack as we get older. Growing up, I was supposed to honour the traditions that Indian women are raised with – selflessness, timidity and an unquestioning belief in the methodologies used by my ancestors. The questioning of these methodologies and ingrained beliefs were never obvious, it was more a desire to be more and do more. As a result, I defied convention in often cataclysmic ways. What appeared to be royal fuck-ups to others, became the unfolding of my soul. The beginning of this adventure was always quietly forming, appearing as restlessness and rebellion, all the while waiting until it was ready to emerge. As the emptiness grew, the desire also quietly unfurled.

So many of us play with the seduction of safety. We hear the waves of turmoil rise and relent until we hit rock bottom and our courage gets rekindled. As a result of living through this courage, I have learnt to trust the promise of beginnings that are aligned to my life’s desires. My spirit of adventure has been awakened and I have found a new ease in risk. My soul literally senses the world that awaits me.

I personally never pursued spirituality for spirituality’s sake, but being a life adventurer has culminated into a selfish service, where my quest for defying convention has allowed me to live my dream of being a writer and growing my own spirituality in a way that makes sense to me. We didn’t come here to live someone else’s life. Being a life adventurer is about living deliberately and creating consciously. As a writer, I get to plant seeds into people’s souls that would eventually give them new thoughts and hopefully the choice to live a new life.

This new year don’t make resolutions that are not sustainable. Instead show up every single day out of your comfort zone and run with those divinely inspired invitations to be even more awesome than you presently are. Life is an adventure. Dream big. Where you are is never who you are.

 

Being Brave

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2016 by tivaniam

The most repeated phrase in my holy text is, “don’t be afraid”. Even now, even after all the big moves I have made. Fear it seems, is the predominant reason for any of us to remain stuck. We all have fear. Fear is necessary in some instances and serve to protect us. In other instances though, we cannot allow fear to govern our decision making or let it prevent us from making breakthroughs in our lives.

We spend too much of time wishing and hoping. Wishing things could change or hoping for a miracle. Fear prevents us from listening to our internal whisperings and longings to be brave and do something different. Those whisperings end up becoming a roar if ignored, and most often that roar happens when you’re lying in a heap on your bathroom floor. Why do we need to wait for rock bottom in order to make that move? Surely the drama is not needed? I speak from personal experience here. Meltdowns happened because I ignored the inner voice and then landed on my bathroom floor bartering with God to make the pain go away.

For twenty years I heard a voice telling me, “You’re meant to be a writer”. I ignored the whisperings until it became a white noise that I got so used to hearing, I lived by its rhythm. Five years ago, that voice was screaming at me to be different, to make a change. I was so unhappy doing what was the “right” thing. It was also terribly inconvenient as I was a single mum with two kids and being a writer was scary. One morning, I woke up and resigned from my corporate career that made me miserable. I studied journalism and got to writing. I was not impressive. I garnered no attention. I got lots of rejection emails from magazines and editors who were not interested in my work. I was a novice writer and made no money from writing. But my soul was screaming. It was doing a dance of joy every single time I put pen to paper. And so I pushed through. And then my blog got noticed and one editor decided to publish me in her digital magazine. Then another. Then another in print. Then another newspaper. Now, five years after those rejections, I am published on many platforms, have a day job as a writer and am now busy with the manuscript for my first book.

Being in a state of flow has allowed me to sit with my fear but not be reduced by it. I have walked away from marriages, relationships, jobs and people that no longer serve me – some of them amidst harsh criticism and judgment. As women we HAVE to be brave. We have to train ourselves to listen to our inner voice and trust it. I know the amount of energy that is required to be true to myself and what that actually means. Therefore I know how hard it can be. I know the struggle of the unknown. But I REFUSE to allow women to shrink themselves. It is not okay to remain in bad marriages or relationships or careers thinking that you will not survive with the alternative. You WILL survive being alone. You WILL survive as a single mother. You WILL survive with less money, doing something that makes you come alive. You need to trust yourself and believe in your inherent strength and divinity and light – something that is in ALL of us. Not some of us.

The thing about rock bottom is, you are forced to get real. And the truth hurts. Badly. But that is how life lessons go. We always know exactly what to do. Always. Our heart and heads are often not aligned, but our feelings reveal the truth. That is the indicator of what is right and wrong in your life and where changes need to be made. We get too comfortable in the realm of “not knowing what to do”, but we always know. Always!

Sometimes that knowing, means you have to risk everything and yes, some people will hate it. Some people will never understand or forgive you. Some people may walk away from you. You may walk away from the situation, whatever it may be, with a battered heart. But remember this, if you are afraid to be true, the alternative is to stay stuck in the same bullshit death swamp that you’ve been stuck in FOR YEARS.

And that is not living. That is existing. It’s time to be brave. The time is now.

Painting The Canvas Of My Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 7, 2016 by tivaniam

A few months ago I had a rant about the distorted perception of beauty ideals that society feeds us. I thought I was over it but a couple of days ago I was filtering through Instagram and came across hundreds of photos of different women who all look exactly the same – flawless, thin, immaculately contoured faces (and necks!), fashionable clothes and requisite duck-faced-pouting on cue. I am not an envious woman by any means but I found myself marveling at the beauty of these women whilst simultaneously questioning my own.

I am 35 years old and have two kids. I have had enough life experiences to call social media out on bullshit. For heaven sake, I am an advocate for authentic living! I pride myself on my quest for continuous personal development! I know I am awake enough to understand that my body is not my masterpiece – my life is… yet here I was, equipped with all that awareness and I sat obsessively googling “how to lose fat in three days”. Not my finest moment. For a few solid hours, I thought of my body and face as a project that I need to revise. Whatever Instagram tried to sell me, I bought. It took all my fucking money.

For a while. And then I stopped because I was exhausted. It’s exhausting trying to portray my body and face as art. My body and face is a paintbrush that gets to TRANSFER the INSIDES onto the canvas of my life where others are inspired by it. My body can never be my offering. I cannot be cursing my paintbrush every day because if I didn’t have it, I’d have nothing with which to paint my life’s work. And, my life’s work is the love I give and receive through the stories I tell. We are encouraged and willed to obsess over our shapes and sizes and this has no effect on our ability to accept and offer love or kindness or peace or comfort. None. I am sick of it. The longer I sit wringing my hands in agony about the shape of my paintbrush, is less time to get to work painting my life.

I have realised that the truth about it all boils down to one thing. Every single paintbrush shape, colour and size works perfectly – just perfectly. Anyone who wants to tell me the opposite is trying to sell me something. I am not fucking buying. I am painting.

 

Finding Courage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by tivaniam

I’ve fought my whole life against people who raise their voices and noses; and talk more than listen. The judgmental types who have little introspection and who live in glass houses. It used to irritate me no end and made life unbearable and stifled me from living.

Two years ago, I got the greatest gift of awareness and inherited a tribe of people who want to change the world through Love and Kindness.  I was taught to shift my mind-set from worrying about what people think, to living authentically and courageously. These days, parts of my life do look shiny but underneath it all I am still confused and scared and make mistakes (some repeatedly). Through it all, I choose to show up big anyway.

I have chosen to live and operate differently. Trying to touch strangers by regaling them with stories from my own heart and script. Telling the truth about my fear and the ways in which I fuck up. I invite people in and try to pass on courage, through the gifts I have been given – that of love and storytelling. I give these away as though it’s good enough to heal the world.

Courage flows in all of us like the ocean waves touching the sand. It never stops and never ends.  We consume ourselves with the burden of taking too much of credit for our brilliance or dying in shame for our failings. Life is bigger than that.

The amount of courage that it takes to leave a relationship or marriage that doesn’t serve you; to leave a career that brings no gratification; to take the leap onto the next step of whatever it is you’re afraid to do. As simplistic as driving a car [took me 12 years to learn] or immersing myself fully in love despite several failed relationships [still learning]. But I am all in. No half measures. There are people who skate gracefully on the surface of life, while I live at heights and depths that people can’t see and doesn’t know how to reach. I do not skate. I crash and fly.

Daring to live boldly means breaking free from convention and learning to find ease in risk. It’s time to awaken your spirit to adventure and allow your soul to sense the world that awaits you. Be courageous. Tomorrow is not promised.

 

 

An Open Letter To My Daughter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2016 by tivaniam

This was originally meant to be a private conversation between my daughter and I, but, in line with what I was saying on Facebook yesterday, the truth is like a boomerang. And this is a concept you would hear repeatedly from me. I decided that there is nothing shameful about being human. There is no way to be a perfect parent but there are a million ways to be a good one. One of those ways, for me, is to free my truth and allow my children to truly know their mum. I believe that we all share similar longings, feelings, traumas, flaws and fears. And if we remain silent about these things, we would never learn how to be better. Or to accept ourselves. I turn my insides out when I write. And with that, I try to help the world become a bit free-er. That for me, is the part I play in this world. I refuse to profess to live out loud if I only do it when things are going well. Who learns anything then?

***********************************************************************

Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet. To go over everything…

Just kidding.

So this note comes from me with much love for you. Not just as my daughter, but as a young woman forging her way in this world. I wanted to say that I know I have been a mediocre mother. I know that there are times when you don’t understand me, my choices or my decisions. I also know that you are not at any level TO understand it, but I am hoping this letter gives you some insight into some things – the rest will come as you grow and evolve.

As women, our lives are generally and typically governed for us. We need to be a certain way. I have never been that way. And how lucky are you to be born to an unconventional mother who will teach you a different way of being??? Right???? [I see you roll your eyes kid].

You see, I knew I was different from a young age, and I knew that I was destined for more. I knew that I couldn’t live the life that society wanted me to live and I knew I had to pave my own way. When you and your brother came along, I KNEW it wasn’t only me to think about, but my strong desire to be more, sometimes overshadowed my role as a mother.

For me, being a mother boils down to one thing only – loving you unconditionally and being present in your lives daily. Which is what I believe I am, regardless of distance, circumstances, domesticity, cooking or cleaning or making lunch or doing homework and the rest of it. Love is love.

I know that there are moments you felt shameful for choices I made. And sad at having to explain those choices to others. I am sorry for that. But you will never understand those choices now at your age. But I hope with every conversation or every post you read of mine, you learn to understand ME.

Every “bad” decision was a catalyst for me to grow. It HAD to happen. Every heartache, every failed relationship or divorce, every move we had to make or even now, our separation from each other,  has become a fire in me that burns even stronger. I KNOW that God intended to use me and my story to share His love and hope with people who mistakenly believe themselves unlovable and hopeless. Maybe God loved me back to life for a serious purpose. On the outside it looks like nothing has changed. I have still not achieved the “success” that other people consider important. But [pay attention now because this is vital info here] – crises in life shakes out excesses and leave only what’s important. Crises shake things up in such a way that we are forced to decide and hold onto what matters most. And THINGS don’t matter. Not the money, cars, houses, clothes, stuff. People matter. And who you ARE matters. I am getting to become who I have always wanted to be.

As women, we are creative enough to handle anything and everything that comes our way. That’s what women do. We create. And then we re-create. Then often we have to re-re-create what we thought we were done creating. Makes sense? Probably not. But again, remember the words because it will make sense one day. So while NOTHING has changed. EVERYTHING has changed.

So while it feels weird now, I know that my story is a redemption story and I know that you and your brother will get to know that you have a mother who may not be a mother in conventional terms, but she is a mother who loves her children and who will teach them the art of being true.

Love you my girl. Be a good human.

xoxo

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