Thursday, 21 January 2010

On reconnecting and being told like it is

My friend Rema got back in touch a few weeks ago, and over the last couple of days, we've...exchanged opinions on burqas, not necessarily in the calmest of fashion on my part, to be fair. Suddenly, after I made Rema's status, a familiar name from the era of maxis and big collars popped up and I HAD to answer. My heart leapt: "OMG, it's Aunty Farida!"

Aunty Farida is related to Rema by blood, but was a friend of my family. I remember her being glam and hip - she still looks it - envying her long hair, her freedom, her utter coolness - ooh, and that RICH alto voice. And her husband, Uncle Akhtar, used to draw for me, and that totally rocked my world. I was spellbound - I was amazed someone could do that so...easily.

Aunty friended me whilst I was dealing with some 'she's crazy' (true)/'she should know some real Muslims' (I do) comments on Rema's status, with a 'Irim, I don't know if you remember me...'

Oh please. Like I could forget.

As I was typing on her wall, a chat window popped up, and off we went. Immediately, I felt surrounded by her love and warmth, totally safe, and the edge that everyone but those closest to me see just disappeared. I felt like a hedgehog whose prickles just flattened.

Finally, we got to the parent thing. And as proof that you can take the girls out of the Punjab, but not the Punjab out of the girls, it went a bit like this:

Farida: Yeh! it is good advice. Nothing can be so wrong to warrant this. You do need to talk to your mom. God forbid, if something happened to her, you will regret it for the rest of your life. So "fix it before it's too late".

Irim: *Grins* I so knew it wouldn't take you long to call it like you saw it.
If you're not Punjabi, I make you an honorary one - that was worthy of someone from Okara... ;) Ja, I know - and your kids are so lucky to have you

Farida: I am Punjabi. The guilt trip always works. [future status update]

Irim: AUNTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Darn it, I fell for it again

Farida: Next time I talk to you, I hope you will tell me you have already spoken to your mom. I love you XXXX

Irim: My mother is a travel agent for them! Love you too xxxxxxxxxxx

Farida: For the guilt trip? HA HA HA. We all mothers are alike. When you become one, you'll be the same, don't worry. [Also future status update with previous few lines] Have to go now. Hope to hear the good news soon. Love you xxxxxxx

And she does, pure and simple. When she later said, "You are like my daughter," I believed every one of those five words.

Was she blunt? Yes. But the love and support that held me as she said it, the 'I am here for you as you are' allowed me to hear it without prejudice.

She reminded me that the truth told in love is more powerful than almost anything else.

I can't even begin to know how much will change yet, but change it will.

Love changes everything.

Monday, 4 January 2010

My 2010 resolution - Living consciously

There was a man back in '95
Whose heart ran out of summers
But before he died, I asked him

Wait, what's the sense in life
Come over me, Come over me

He said,

Son why you got to sing that tune
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon
Let an angel swing and make you swoon
Then you will see... You will see

I was waiting for one of my favourite programmes - "Criminal Minds" - to come on. Paul McKenna's "I can make you thin" is on beforehand, so I figured I'd watch it.

I'm hooked.

Now, I'm not in the market for losing TOO much weight - I love my cleavage - but I do need to lose some, and I do want to tone up. I'd like to be able to wear a sari unselfconsciously. It'll take work, but I'm not one for putting a huge amount of work into it.

Paul McKenna had four simple rules:

1. Eat when you're hungry. Physically hungry - and bear in mind that 75% of the time that you think you're hungry, you're probably dehydrated - so try drinking water first.

2. Eat what you want - No argument there :-).

3. Eat consciously. Put your fork down. Eat slowly. Savour what you eat. He did a fascinating experiment where he blindfolded people eating breakfast in a cafe, so they really had to focus on what they were eating - and they ate considerably less. Ditto the people he asked to sit down and eat at a quarter of their usual speed. They don't miss the 'I'm full' signal and go over into 'I'm sick'. And note that your tastes may change...are you really going to want McD's if you're really TASTING it?

4. Stop when you're full. And remember it can take 15 minutes or so to know that.

Love the rules - will definitely be trying them with food this week and will be ditching the 'Must empty plate' rule.

But I'm going to go further. I'm not just going to eat consciously, I'm going to LIVE consciously.

Try, anyway.

And I started with "Criminal Minds" - I've seen the "Fisher King" double episode once (episode 1 at least twice), but this time, I decided to REALLY watch it. Not fb through it, not talk through it, none of it.

And I LOVED it. I saw things I hadn't seen before, caught nuances of character, snatches of dialogue and El's conversation with her father during her near-death experience was more touching, had more depth. I found myself watching with the wonder of a child, at a level I hadn't experienced before.

If I'm honest, the universe has been really nudging me in this direction - my study partner's ability to nudge unexpected answers out of me; Vivian saying, "Don't assume it's the obvious answer,"; discovering the unexpected when I thought I knew the pattern; being told over and over again to sit with raw emotions and events rather than trying to make sense of things too soon.

Not living consciously, imposing patterns too early are ways of avoiding the unknown and life's mystery. It's a way of being certain of things - something I slam religious folk for over and over again. Hmmm, wonder why. Couldn't POSSIBLY be my shadow, could it? Yes, very often I have a right to be angry - but too often, I'm not going deeply enough to find out why I am SO angry. I cast a rather large shadow: I think it's time we got to be best friends.

There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time
There are answers we're not wise enough to see

To find, we must seek - which means being present - emotionally, physically, spiritually.

So this year, I'm going to try to be present, live consciously and not just react: at work, at church (that will be the hardest), with friends, at home. I've been lazy and playing out too many patterns. If a sermon bothers me, I'm going to ask why, what it's really about. If an interaction is bothering me, instead of pulling out my big guns, I'm going to try to stop and listen - to the other and to my heart. If I'm feeling raw emotion, instead of imposing order, I'm going to see what arises from the chaos.

Son for all I've told you
When you get right down to the
Reason for the world...
Who am I?

I'll see where it takes me, but I already know the sense of joy and rightness I get when I am truly present - holding a baby, listening to a friend, on my counselling course, writing, those unexpected moments of beauty the world offers us. Already, one thing that's arising from this resolution and my time in the land of the dark sun is a sense of purpose:

I guess we're big and I guess we're small
If you think about it man you know we got it all
Cause we're all we got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free
I love you freely

Here's a riddle for you
Find the Answer -
There's a reason for the world,
You and I

(song lyrics - The Riddle by Five for the fighting)