Archive for spirituality

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. 

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#MeToo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by tivaniam

I recently shared a #MeToo post on my Facebook profile, because obviously, #MeToo.

For those who aren’t aware, the recent #MeToo social media campaign invited women from across the world to use the hashtag as a way to increase the scope of visibility of those who’ve experienced sexual harassment; from your everyday woman, to celebrities, to politicians. This only serves to highlight the prominence of what is endured silently. And now, women are choosing to banish the shame and fear, and speak out.

This has absolutely nothing to do with victimisation or creating propaganda or more divisiveness. This is about creating awareness and highlighting the change that needs to happen. This is about treating the cause with the reverence it deserves.

I’ve been sexually harassed more times than I can count over the years from men who chose to contact me, unsolicited and uninvited, commenting on everything from my legs; to my ass; to my hair; to my breasts; bartering first, then more insistently explaining why I need to have sex with them. This has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older – it’s become worse.

Today, I received a few of these messages on my public business Facebook page, of which two stood out. Man #1 commented on my legs saying he simply loved the fact that I “showed them off”. When his comment received no response, he messaged me back to say that “I’ve disrespected him by ignoring him”. Man #2 sent me a message saying “Hi honey, I want to get to know you because I like you and you are sexy and I am lonely”. I didn’t respond so he publicly posted his displeasure on my wall: “fucking moron bitch, you are an asshole”.

So this is the thing. It’s easy to harass and abuse power, exert control and dominance or physically intimidate women into silence about these things. I know that I’ve been very afraid to speak about my incidents over the years because a lot of these men were physically overwhelming and scary. Now with social media, virtual harassment is the common practice but not less scary. The bottom line is, hurt people hurt people and it’s about time we get to the real issues, of what’s behind the abuse – pain and fear – and start addressing these social evils that keep us all as sick as our secrets.

The psychology and sociology of these patterns of behaviour need to be looked at, individually first, because from there it has a ripple effect on the collective humanity. We cannot possibly move forward and make the shifts we need consciously if we see ourselves as separate from each other. To those men who choose to dishonour women: understand that by such behaviour, you prevent yourself from levelling up and you perpetuate these vicious cycles onto the next generation and the next generation. Your actions demonstrate your internal inefficiencies and that holds us back from progressing, if it’s left festering in filth.

Immediately, we can start to do better. This starts with being aware.

‘No’ means no.

‘No’ does not mean ‘try harder’.

Single does not mean available.

How a woman dresses is not an invitation for you to pursue her.

Respect boundaries.

Watch your language. There is a fine line between a compliment and sexual objectification or obscenity. 

Hear us. See us. Pay attention.

#MeToo

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Let Go and Let Come

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2017 by tivaniam

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu

Letting go is a simple concept. Like dropping a pen. It is, however, by no means simplistic. It is not passive. It is far from lazy or giving up. It isn’t merely saying “whatever” to the world. Letting go is wisdom and enables the flow of love and energy to move across freely.

I am the kind of woman who thrives on extremes. I love control. Letting go, goes against the grain of my neurotic patterns. For me particularly, during times of loneliness I want to move left or right. Over the last few years I have learnt the art of sitting in the middle and feeling what I feel.  It has been an incredibly difficult process of grasping and clinging and only after a while, easing my body into peace.

Most recently, I’ve had to address the aspect of letting go in relationships. Very big process for me. I had a major lightbulb moment when chatting to my friend the other day who mentioned that I am literally too intense and have no idea how to be light. I mother and smother and suffocate. Big, big moment of profound truth. When these things happen, learning is immediate – if you are open to being honest and actually paying attention. The common denominator with my failed relationships has consistently been my role as a “mother”, and my desire to have the love evolve in the way I want it to.

So my recent reflections had to be about the detachment that is necessary where love is concerned.

Detachment here is not about letting go of the relationship, person or love itself but rather the expectations and preconceived ideas that I carry into each relationship. I pride myself on being an awakened woman but relationships always challenge my shadow side, pointing out the work I need to do.  I’ve had a relationship blueprint that I thought I should follow: meet, date, kiss, talk, love, kids and families meet, move in together, ring, happily ever after. This became a plan for me that is actually totally limiting. I have such an issue with loose ends and undefined and indescribable situations. I have this compulsion to know exactly the type of situation I am in so that I can apply the aforementioned plans.

How limiting is that???

Am I not able to love someone and let the relationship speak for itself?

Fortunately, with insight, expectations can change and therefore the resultant experiences.

Today brought a new context. A big, scary one that if I didn’t document here, would fade into my thoughts. My writing cements my commitment to myself and forces me to level up. I cannot profess to be authentic if I write it but don’t live it or vice versa – that is my role as a conscious writer.

Going into a new relationship without any idealised thoughts of what it could be or how it SHOULD be allows for the union to develop organically rather than forcing it inside a box of my own definition of love. I want to love the man I am with because of the person he is without the expectation of him loving me back. To let go and let come means being able to enjoy the moments because there are no guarantees in life. This kind of love is not easy. It forced me personally to sit and call my demons by name – those frightful companions called “I am not worthy” and “I am alone” that rode shotgun with me everywhere I went. I had to learn that these feelings are mine to own. I cannot become anxious or fearful and look to a partner to heal me.

Letting go means respecting my partner’s journey. It means that the relationship cannot be forced. Love must be approached as an offering, acknowledging the sacredness of the feelings we have for each other, regardless of action, choices or results. Letting go creates the space for beautiful new journeys.

I am learning.

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