Archive for Philosophy

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

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. 

On Getting Older

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 17, 2013 by tivaniam

I have developed an irritating habit since turning thirty. I feel the need to be introspective ALL THE TIME. With my birthday approaching, I have naturally felt the need to analyse every life lesson I had the misfortune of learning in the past year. It’s exhausting, painful and annoying. Not to mention the fact that I am incapable of having fun as a result of my constantly elevated stress levels. Unwinding and freeing my mind of these burdens are fruitless because I don’t know HOW to unwind. I don’t drink or smoke or do recreational drugs. I don’t party or socialise (I am a mum, see). I don’t gym. I can’t indulge in emotional eating because then I would analyse why I had to unwind using food as a coping mechanism! See my predicament? Out of my 99 problems, I have discovered that these moments of introspection often result in some profound lesson that leaves me feeling like a wise old owl, and one surely cannot be wise and not impart the knowledge! That feels sacrilegious. These are my lessons for the year.

“Family” has taken on a new meaning. It is better to live a life alone, authentically, than live a life surrounded by people who do nothing but bring you down and who don’t have your best interests at heart. “Family” are the people who invest in me and offer me their infinite love, kindness, compassion, support and lack of judgment. Those people are not blood relatives but people who think I am worthy enough to make an effort for and whose love far surpasses anything my blood relatives could offer me.

“Wealth” means more than just having lots of money. Money cannot buy happiness or good health. But, as the saying goes, “it’s more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle”. Financial stress is the ultimate test within a marriage and few survive. I know people who have chosen to end their lives rather than live in financial ruin. The mistakes I have made are too many to mention but what I have learnt this year is that living basically, removing excess and making wise decisions go a long way. I am far from being out of the woods, but I will make informed decisions and never spend senselessly again.

“Sometimes you just gotta let things slide”. This is particularly hard for me because I am merciless when I am hurt. I feel the need to always say exactly what I feel and sometimes that isn’t necessary. I have learnt that I’d rather be happy than right and backing down from a fight sometimes requires more strength and courage than fighting to the death.

The most important lesson I have ever learnt and I get reminded of, year after year, is the fact that nothing is insurmountable. We really are stronger than we think.

So here’s to another year of self-discovery.

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