From 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao

Usually when I read these daily meditations I open the book on a random page. Today I've chosen to check the meditation for the 5th of December. It's simple, it's beautiful and so true.

"Learning is the fountain of youth.
No matter how old you are, you mustn't stop growing.

Don't think that creativity is only for artists, writers, and musicians. Creativity is essential element for everyone. Unlike the outer-directed creativity of making art, solving problems, or writing, the creativity that everyone can engage in is learning.

As long as we continue to learn, welcome new ideas and ways of doing things, and continually expand our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, then we are engaging in the ultimate creativity of the self.

If one looks carefully of those seniors who are ongoing and vital participant of life, one will see that a common habit is continuous learning and interest. These seniors are not the same as they were in their youth. They have found new ways of learning and acting.

As we enter each new phase of our lives, the parameters change. If we are sixty, we cannot do the same activities that we did as teenagers. Therefore, we need to revamp ourselves according to our situation. That continuing act of creativity keeps us young".

Any comments?


Lessons in Self-Love

'You have to love yourself', she said. Oh my God!, I thought and rolled my eyes. We were sitting in Starbucks on College and Euclid. I have just met Abbey. Abbey is a therapist. It was our first meeting. I expected something more than a person telling me to love myself. I cringed. I cringed and I was swallowing my tears at the same time so desolate and desperate I felt. Desperate for a change and directions that I would do everything and anything to stop feeling the way I felt. I wanted to solve problems, I wanted work on things, I wanted a formula for a good relationship with a male human being and there she was telling me that all I had  to do was to establish loving and carrying relationship with MYSELF. The rest would follow, she suggested.

This is what I have learnt about self-love:

1. It's looking after myself physically and mentally.
2. It's being gentle with myself.
3. It's making sure that I tells the truth which belongs to me without the fear of being rejected.
4. It's being aware of my capacities and limitations. 
5. It's a constant dialogue with myself and checking where I am with myself and other humans.
6. It's making sure that I take the ownership of my life. 
7. It has nothing to do with being arrogant and self-centred.
8. It's nothing to do with sacrificing  myself in order to make others happy.
9. It's allowing myself to be. 
10. It's a path, it's a challenge, it's a process. It's hard work.

When talking to a friend few days ago I said that I feel I have finally realized that there won't be anyone to rescue me and that I am the only person who can really influence my life. I am the engine. S. said that it seems to him that everybody really carries this fantasy of a savior or a good god-mother equipped with an array of magic spells to help us out. A normal human thing. We concluded that indeed we don't get saved by anyone but we do get and meet people on our way who help us out. People who we encounter to teach us something when we are ready to receive a lesson. (If we are not ready the lesson will come back to us again and again, and again. In the next life as well, won't it, Shirley?) 

And so I met women and a Man who gave me examples of how to love oneself and live by this principle.


Back to Asia 2012

It didn't happen without my strong objections. I wanted to stay. Even my creepy landlord wanted to help me by marrying me or marrying me off to his friend Harry. I was told: Ania, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Sometimes you even have to do things you won't normally do. Hmmm, not even tempting but thank you, Jack. I might have considered his offer if I were in desperation and running away from some sort of terrible oppression. But wait, then Canada would accept me no problem.

Then it was work. They tried to help but before hiring a foreigner in Canada an employer has to prove there's no citizen/preeminent resident to fill the position. I am not a neuroscientist, any scientist, I have no money on a bank account. I'm not a skilled worker too: I can't plumb, I can't lay bricks, I don't know how to wire houses. I ain't no asset for the Canadian economy. Not yet, at least.

But I am an asset in Asia.

So here I am back in Asia.
Back in Bangkok.
Another circle in my life.

I came on Monday, which I thought was on Sunday. And so Steve waited for me at the airport on Sunday morning when at that time I was still in Abu Dhabi. I really got confused with the time zones plus it didn't cross my mind that it is possible to travel for two days. I mean with the time changes.Whatever it was I was late. A day late.

And then I arrived in Bangkok.
Here I am, back in Asia.

Not a Mindless Coffee Serving

I miss my coffee shop. I will always remember it and go back with memories to Timmothy's in Atrium on Bay.
Oh, what a splendid time I had there! What fantastic people I met. Each person different, each with a story. I wanted to hear out each of them. It'd never been a mindless coffee serving. I wanted something more. I wanted people who come to me feel special, taken care of before the reality of a day hit. 

I'm not a big fan of getting up but there was a time when getting up and going to these people was a lifeline. When nothing made sense, making coffee and serving it with all my ethusisasm were my ways to survive. This job gave me so much pleasure, pleasure of being there for people and with people.They felt it and gave me wonderful feedback. With some of them I became close friends and I know these friendships shall continue. Many of them I will probably never see again but nevertheless they contributed to my growth, to my being a better person. 

I spent wonderful six months working with a really good team, with really friendly and helpful managers. Thank you Linda, thank you Evangeline, thank you Andrew, Sanaz, James and Di. It was a pleasure to work with all of you. I hope I will see you again.


Giving My Thanks

It's Thanksgiving today and I have some things to give my thanks for.

I am thankful for the whole year of difficult work I was assigned to do. When I was coming here I didn't know what was awaiting and that I will receive one of the most important lessons in my life in the days to come. My life has put me on a path which I will follow: the path of self-appreciation, self-respect, self-trust and other selves which I can't think of. Self matters. Self matters to each of us and each self is important. Try to ignore your self and you will cheat not only yourself but everybody around you. Try to ignore who you really are and you will die, your spirit will die, your body will die. I witnessed that. 

I am grateful that I have people around me who told me: you matter and what you feel and think matters. Your life should be lived the way you want it to be lived and only you have the power to change it if such is your wish. I have received a gift of unconditional love which I see in the eyes of my Shirley each time she looks at me. I know that I don't have to be anybody else. I know that I am enough. I am taking that all with me.

I am grateful for lessons of love and compassion when I needed them from my friends in Poland and people who just met me here and recognized the great need in me to be hugged and reassured that everything will be fine, that the pain goes away and that Life doesn't give me more than I can handle. Sometimes it felt as if I would not go through the next minute, so huge the pain was. But I did. And these are also valuable lessons of how resilient a human being is.

I am finally grateful for and daunted with the task of taking the responsibility and ownership of my life. I had a history of victimizing myself, looking for the answers to whys in wrong places when it has turned out all the answers were in me. Slowly and not without resistance I am unearthing my truth: my truth about myself and who I have become in the past years and the reality that almost everything in my life comes from me - not some external powers working outside me.  I am the beginning and the end of my own journey.

I am grateful for my Family. We have been through a lot and I understand that each and single of us has challenges. I know that each of us is trying to make the most of what we have at our disposal at the moment. I trust that there is a happy end, against all odds.

Finally I am grateful that I am.


Here and Now

I am reading a book The Practicing Mind. Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner. It is about how to achieve goals without being obsessed with the end product but rather enjoying the process, the journey that leads to this goal. The premise is that people want an instant result and do not develop the skill of working hard towards their dreams. It is also about how we find difficult to be in a moment having all these disruptions around, emails to answer, phone calls to return, worries to ponder over. And as much as all above mentioned are important, what really matters is the present moment. NOW. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. NOW. Neither past nor future, but now. With the help of this and other book, talks with inspiring people I think I am getting better and better with now. Because now has become very important to me.
This is how I practice. 
In the morning when I wake up, depending how late I am for work, I would find a minute to stay in my bed and remind myself where I am: Toronto, Canada, this and that day. I lead this internal dialogue telling myself what I will be doing next: step by step: now you are going to try to find all the pieces of your garment and put them together in a coherent outfit, then you are going to brush your teeth, and run/bike to work. 

When biking to work, I sometimes find myself already on College and Spadina without even noticing how I got there, which is a message that I haven't been paying attention but instead I had been thinking of something or somebody else. So then I say to myself: ok, now you are riding a bike. You are going to work. Oh, look, there's the CN tower over there, now lest's turn into the Beverly Street, then Cecil, then Baldwin, through University and Bay into the Elm where you leave the bike. Oh, look what a beautiful light on the building. Remember this, you will never see it again. And here is a lady you pass every day who yelled at you once for riding on the pavement and you weren't very polite to her which probably is why she never scolded you again. The internal dialogue continues. I also take pleasure of the wind on my skin and try to really feel it:  is it warm, cold, sticky or dry? All this reminds me that I am, here and now, at the given moment and that I recognize that I am in this moment. Here and now.



These things will never happen: We will never go for a walk again, we will never speak again, we will never see each other again. Never, never, never... never again. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. You will never see my face, I will never see yours. You will never taste my food, I will never taste you food either.  I will never annoy you with my yet another strange haircut, you will never criticize it again. I will never criticize you too. We will never go to Thailand or Cambodia together and never enjoy the palms and the sun with each other. I will never dial your number again to hear your voice and I will never again be waiting for you to call me. We will never laugh and cry together. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. You will never say how much you love me and how much you miss me, or how much you want me to be near. I will never be able to tell you how much I love you and how much I miss you and how much I would like you to be near. We will never misunderstand each other. We will never understand one another.
When somebody dies,  NEVER means NEVER. 


The Universe and Sweet Peas

This is how the Universe works.
Couple of days ago I was talking to my life time friend Marysia and in the conversation sweet peas came up. Sweet peas are related to my childhood in Lublewo and are for always attached to my Mom. She used to plant them at the fence so that the plant climbed the fence and beautify embellished coarse wires with its flowers. Flowers were pretty but it's not what I remember the most. The smell of sweet peas in the evening after the sun sets is unforgettable. Sweet and distinctive, like nothing else. I remember my Mom would sit at the terrace and breath in the smell of summer. We would sometimes sit there together and use our senses to admire the beauty of the world around us. 
How I miss Her, sweet peas and these evenings -  I would think after the conversation I had with Marysia. Yesterday I was sitting and smoking a cigarette on the sun deck in the place where I'm renting now and what I see is are sweet pea flowers climbing up the fence.
This is how the Universe works.


Moving out

So the days has come and I finally moved out from 420 Palmerston.Packing was a nightmare - I didn't realize that I have collected so many things over the time of eight months. I came here loaded with possessions thinking that I will be my home - so winter clothes, summer clothes, shoes this and that. I will have to think now and think hard how to fit in one suitcase wherever I will be going next. Ohhhh, and I will have to leave all these good books that I have purchased... Sucks.

My new place is a strange place. I'm renting from a 54 years old guy who is too sad and depressed to tidy up his place so the apartment is full of various shit and it's very difficult to move around. The good things are: the location and the sun deck where I can smoke and chill.

I will miss Palmerston and Dave., of course. I spent important time there with a man I still love and who will always be close to my heart. We've had some good time, some bad time, we've had it all. I have some regrets about this relationship but I will never regret coming here and experiencing life with David. I wish I could put it in a better way. I will remember every day with him. Every even the saddest second. I will remember that we fought for something.


False Identity

There are many levels of my experience here. One of them is a job.
I came here expecting in a way that in an English speaking country I will have some problems with finding a job as an ESL teacher as there are herds of English teacher roaming around the city. I gave it a go and I left my resume in many places around. No response. Nada. Depressing since I know that I'm a good teacher with loads of experience. Depressing since I love teaching. Nobody wants me here. My CELTA, which I was so proud of,  is not enough. My experience means nothing. I'm supposed to pay 2000 dollars to get my Canadian qualifications. I don't have 2000 dollars. Depressing. Conclusion: I'm not enough. Of course. It's all my fault - I'm not enough. I'm not enough and what is more I don't know who I am any more.
Then I start working in this terrible Greek tavern where I am verbally abused by drunk customers, paid under the minimum wage, I'm shouted at by the owner... Life sucks. 
This job situation made me think how tricky it is to build identity on a career. I was a confident English teacher working in Cambodia with a prospect to have a great job opportunity in Bangkok. In Summer 2011 I felt like the whole world belongs to me based on my job, I dare to think. I got recognized, I got appreciated. I thought I knew where I was going. But then... It was enough to take this away from me and what happened was that I didn't know who I was any more. I wasn't a quite successful English teacher any more. I didn't know who I was. Then I started to think that it is indeed very illusive to build identity on the outside world phenomena. I am inside not outside. No matter what happens the core should be there. I should be the same person whether a teacher or janitor because unexpected happens and I might be forced to do odd things in my life whether ambitious, grand or not they should not influence the core, the I. And the truth is that I can do whatever job if that's what is needed in a situation. I doesn't matter in a short run. I have to think about my career but if there's a twist in it, this twist shouldn't undermine my perception of myself as a capable, knowledgeable human being.
So I'm working on the core now to strengthen it  for the future so that next time I don't feel so terribly disappointed with myself when I have to do a job for a period of time which is not exactly my career. 


See, Feel, Hear

I've been having moments of being shocked at the beauty of the world around me.
I will now stop and look into the sky, look around me and SEE. See the world, people, trees, the sun. I will close my eyes take a deep breath and FEEL the air passing through my nose - something I wouldn't even think of before. I will feel how this air goes into your lungs. Feel how my chest fills with this air. And when walking I will feel my steps. I will feel how my feet touch the ground, HEAR my steps, feel my comfortable (or not) shoes. I will see things I have seen before but through a different eyes. It's all new. Every day. Maybe the same but every day different. There's no repetition even in the most repetitive  act, I have learnt.
It all comes to being here and now. Not tomorrow or yesterday. Here and now with all my Aniasness.


Mother's Day

If she was alive, I'd call her and tell her that I love her. I would tell her that I'm with her and I understand. I would try not to be judgmental, I would try to be patient. I would try to be compassionate. I would tell her that she is not alone and things can work out. But I can't call her. There's no phone number there where she is, no Internet access. She is nowhere and everywhere. But she is. In me. Every day.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.


The World Around Me

Every day before I go to sleep I thank the God (whatever the God is) and the Universe for being here. I do the same in the morning when I wake up unless I'm terribly late for work, which luckily doesn't happen that often. So before and after regressing in the realm of unconscious I try to be grateful for everything and everyone I have a privilege to meet in my life. To truly meet a person is a privilege. To be let in another human being's life is a privilege. To be in a friendship is an honor. I'm grateful for privileges and honors in my life. I'm grateful that I am and I'm grateful that the world and people around me are.


In Canada. Intro.

I haven't been writing this blog for ages. I stopped in Cambodia. I got burnt out and didn't know what to write about when there was for sure thousands of things to write about. I just couldn't pull myself together and write, WHICH HOPEFULLY WILL CHANGE NOW.
My Canadian adventure starts in July 2011 when I met David who visited Poland and saw me in Warsaw. We fell in love and thought that it will be a good idea for us to be in the same place and see how we will work when living together. I landed in Canada in early October to come back to Poland few days later tragic and sad circumstances.
My friends and close ones know that past months have been very difficult for me and my family. I would like to thank everybody for being with us when saying good bye to my Mom. The pain is still there but I know that people think about us and pray for us, and have good memories of us when we are all together. Thank you people as without you I wouldn't be able to make it through initial months and even now, as the mourning hasn't finish yet for me.
I came back to Toronto in early November. I came back to live in 420 Palmerston Blvd where our house is located and where I made my home for ongoing months.
David's family accepted me immediately as a member of their family and have been looking after me ever since. Thank you David, Shirley, Susan, Fred, Doris, Hilde... it all wouldn't be possible for me without your support. I appreciate every moment spent here even if some of them haven't been happy. You've made me feel at home here, which is just amazing and makes me feel a very special person. I might not stay in Toronto  but all of you will stay with me forever deep, deep in my memories and in my heart. You give me hope and courage that the future holds a good hand for me, I just have to wait to be dealt the cards.

The Fall and Winter passed. I worked in a terrible bar about which I really don't want to remember. The Spring brought me a new job but a breakup with David. Life has proven a bit more complicated than we both thought.

I'm staying here until I can though. Toronto in Spring and in Summer is absolutely amazing and I want to show you people and places here that I love. I will show you how beautiful it is here. I'm so lucky I can be here.