Giving Enough and Getting Enough

Truth Byte #66

“Not everyone is as nice as you.”

 

I was raised to be nice. I did not yell at people, I did not swear, I did not gain any pleasure from other people’s pain.  Jealousy, rudeness, and stinginess were frowned upon in my family, and generosity, care, and selfless giving were our pillars. I took on the eldest sister role and learned very quickly to put my wants aside so the littler ones could be happy. We would hunt out the strays during the holidays and bring them home, because my mom felt no one should be alone at Christmas. We always made extra loot bags at birthday parties, because, as my mom used to say, “You never know who’s going to show up!” Read More

Who You Are, Not What You’ve Done

change, self-reflection

Truth Byte #65

“You are more important than your accomplishments.”

I grew up in an immigrant household where only one parent went to university, and that parent was only around until fifth grade. My under-educated, single-parent, working-class mom knew that the best way to secure our future was to push us to do well in school.

So I did.

I did really well.

Ph.D. well.

And because of that, so much of my early sense of worthiness came from my academic success. Preparing that neatly written report or getting the 100% (plus bonus marks!!) on the math test or knowing the teachers adored me was what gave me a sense of identity, a feeling of value. Read More

The Empath’s Guide

Self-care

Truth Byte #64

“Avoid energy zappers.”

 

I am an empath. That means I feel deeply what other people are feeling, sometimes even when they aren’t directly experiencing the feeling. It also means I can see into people’s emotional landscape even when they have spent a lifetime perfecting their masks of “everything’s fine.” I don’t know if being an empath is an official thing, but it’s an idea that has helped me understand and cope with my incredible sensitivity and often-debilitating compassion.

 

For much of my childhood, this made me seem like a crazy person. When there was tension in the room, I would feel it in my body, and my eyes would well up long before voices were raised. Read More

Sweat and Yoga

Truth Byte #63

“Flexible is the new strong.”

 

I started up my yoga classes again. It has been a few months since I rolled out my mat, because I was starting to feel like an hour of yoga every week was a bit indulgent. After all, I could be spending that time folding the pile of laundry that chronically sits in my guest bedroom, or vacuuming out the backseat of the car (damn kids and their food crumbs) or catching up on emails (over 4000 in my Inbox that need to be filed or deleted) or de-cluttering my garage. So I skipped yoga for months, thinking I would spend the time doing all these other annoying tasks, which, by the way, I never did. I simply took a longer shower and chatted on the phone with my sister instead.

 

But I digress. Back to yoga. Read More

Lemonade and Gypsy Trips

Self-esteem

Truth Byte #62

“Self-doubt will slow you down.”

 

When life gives you lemons, what do you do?

 

I know when I heard that phrase as a child, I panicked.  I had no idea how to make lemonade. The closest I ever got to that sweet and tart beverage was dumping a can of frozen pulp into a plastic jug and stirring.
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Re-Writing My Story

Truth Byte #61

“Change your story, change your life.”

 

I finally got it. The phrase that captures what I am trying to do here in my little corner of cyber-space. I, Dr. Saira, have one message that has finally become clear to me:

 

change your story, change your life.

 

Over a year ago, my husband and I sat down for a serious conversation about what kind of future I saw for myself in my career. After a long, intense conversation (including a white-board-mind-map!), I could actually picture myself at my professional peak point. I saw myself teaching, counselling, and storytelling. I saw myself on a stage making the audience laugh while crying, and at the same time, I saw myself in a private, quiet room with one other person, helping them to get to the other side of their pain.  I saw a balanced life where I could make my own hours, where my paid work felt interesting and engaging, and yet did not intrude on my number one priority: the people I love.
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Taking Off the Mask…again.

Truth Byte #60

“Being real will get you there.”

 

I have tried on a lot of flavours in my life. After my early years as teacher’s pet and uber-nerd, I moved to my teens where I tried hard to make hip-hop culture fit me, and then into my early twenties, when I joined the pseudo-spirituality of the New Agers.

 

It is finally now, in my later thirties, that I am settling in to a hybrid version of all these other identities. I have come to peace with loving books more than people and the urgent-yet-glazed feeling I get when I am wrist-deep in a new novel. I have internalized the struggles of the marginalized, joining marches and protests when there is a social issue I just can’t keep quiet about. And I Feng Shui my house, and teach my kids how to stop their bodies from bruising through simple energy healing techniques.
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My Two Grad Dates (and Other Secrets)

Truth Byte #59:

Somebody adores you, even when you can’t.”

I am on a personal retreat this week. And while I ponder the big and small choices I have made over the year since my last retreat, a lot of good “ahas” are coming up. Last year, just after coming home from my retreat, I wrote Truth Byte #14, That’s Not Really a Tiger, about how to be gentler with ourselves. Today, I want to tell you something else.  Today I want to tell you that somebody adores you, even when you don’t have the capacity to adore yourself.

Let me tell you a story. I was in twelfth grade, and it was the evening of my high school graduation party. I had two (yes two!) dream-come-true dates, a guy from my faith community that I had crushed on for two years as we went out on group excursions and attended religious education classes, and another that made my heart flutter every time I passed his desk in Chemistry class who I secretly loved for all three years of high school. I actually used to go to “the bathroom” two or three times every class I had with him just so I could pass by Bachelor Number Two, make eye contact, and get a whiff of “he’s-not-just-a-boy-he’s-a-man-because-he-wears-it” cologne.  Maybe that explains my less-than-stellar final marks in that class…
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