Archive for Relationships

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.

 

 

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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

 

 

A Return to Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by tivaniam

The dominant theme of my life for this year was Love. Love within and without.

It began in February when my soul merged with another. To use the word merge is mild in itself. It was a combustion; a fire so powerful that I couldn’t come out unscathed. It was the stuff dreams were made of, except this was so far ahead of my own dreams that I battled to keep up. I melted into him, his arms were home. He was my doorway to another world. It was the most intense spiritual connection that made me believe in all of the things I’ve only ever read about. For the first time in my life, I learnt the TRUE meaning of love and it made every other interaction pale in comparison.

Notwithstanding that connection, we were never in a relationship. We hardly saw each other. It was unorthodox and unconventional by societal standards, but it was real and true for me. It taught me about the value of truth, where I got to decide the truth about things for myself and not adopt someone else’s biased view. This love taught me patience, something I’ve always lacked. It taught me about the value of time and how precious one hour can be. It taught me about loving someone unconditionally, through their light and their darkness. It taught me about the expansiveness of my own heart. It taught me that “forgiveness” is love’s other name. It taught me that I am so much braver than I ever imagined myself to be. It taught me how to be more awake, more conscious, and more present as the universe gave us such big synchronicities that were more than simply romantic; it was the presence of a divine spark. It taught me about how love is a mirror. He made me face my deepest and darkest fears of insecurity and inadequacy. It taught me how to be my essence of peace and it revealed to me when I was deficient. This spiritual love changed my life forever and changed the very foundations of everything I’ve known to be true and real. It pushed the boundaries of convention and it made me a true believer of magic and divinity.

Through all this beauty, came the proverbial white elephant. And suddenly I had to face certain realities. It wasn’t about giving up; it was actually about REFUSING to give up on me. You see, sometimes a woman has to make a choice to say goodbye to what is even the best thing in her life, because it just doesn’t serve her.  The truth is often painfully clear and goodbye is necessary to remain in the light. It’s the difference between taking the short view, or the long view. There is a chasm wide gulf between co-dependence and love and my very role as a mother is teaching my kids what love truly looks like. And sometimes love is leaving what you think you need.

Each of us has inherent strengths. Mine is listening to my own truth and following the directions, even what that voice of truth sounds terrifying as fuck. My dream was to teach women that strength, women who woke up and found themselves in the middle of their own nightmare. I am here to teach women, through my truth, how to not sit inside that nightmare. That means I have to ACTUALLY live my truth. And my truth has always been about what works and doesn’t work for me and me alone.

I am showing up daily and working to remain strong and not give up even when the wind pries with stiff fingers to rip apart my very foundation. I try and bravely put one foot in front of the other in an effort to stay in the light, because it’s so easy to get back into the dark. The dark is a safe space for someone like me, it’s familiar and I can abdicate all responsibility. But I’ve worked too fucking hard to be that small. I have to do whatever it takes to stay in the light. This means saving myself and returning to love, in order to show others how it’s done.

I’ve believed that in order to find your life, you need to lose it. I have felt like I lost my life again. My hopes, dreams and wishes. But with it gone, I know my life is emerging. Exactly how it’s meant to. That is the way of the Phoenix, rising higher and higher each time, determined to save the only life I could save. Mine.

It is still a love story. Love always wins. It just comes in different shades. My wish for every one of you is that you get to experience this kind of love, even once, because it will teach you how to live. If the invitation comes, take it with arms wide open.

I am grateful for it and grateful for now returning back to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Him: “What’s your favourite food?”

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

Him: “Probably sushi”

Me: “Oh My God! ME too!”

PS. I HATE sushi.

Enough said. I hang my head in shame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ellyphantshoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stepping Into The Arena

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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