Annual Princess’s New Year’s Address – 2013

Thought I’d forgotten, hadn’t you? Delayed perhaps, but not forgotten.

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Best thing I can say is that we didn’t lose anyone close in our family this year for the first time in years. We actually went from one Christmas to the next with the same number of people. My health took a turn for the worse last winter, but having resolved that, I’m still here. For that, I am truly thankful.

I’ve started in a role that I am extremely happy in, but I would just like to do more of it. But the move to Hamilton has certainly been a good one for me. It’s given me perspective and has introduced me to so many more people than I ever thought possible. I haven’t been doing much training over the last year in part because of the relocation, but I am optimistic that it will change in the coming year.

I’m going to keep the message short this year and simply say that I have many people and things to be thankful for this year and that the list is ever growing. To you all, I wish you health, wealth and happiness, wherever or in whomever you find it. Many thanks to each and everyone of you for making my life a better one by simply being a part of it.

Om Shanti.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge.

My refuge.

Bathtime

Bathtime

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful.

I believe things happen for a reason and there are no coincidences. Interestingly, I wrote a post on this topic here. Even more so, the timing is appropriate for my birthday this coming week. Here’s my “Peaceful” photo.

Me looking at the Indian Ocean

Me looking at the Indian Ocean

Annual Princess’s New Year’s Address – 2012

As the Princess, it is my place to give you not the Christmas Address (such as the Queen of England does) but a New Year’s Message.

It has certainly not been the easiest year on record for me. I will not bore you with the details of the past, but instead, will share with you plans for the future. Many years ago, I told my cousins that I would never move to Hamilton. Well, let me say publicly, you were right. I completed my move and once the house is set up, I hope to have some people over for a proper open house, which has been lacking in the most recent years. I’m turning tragedy into opportunity by moving into the house my grandparents bought brand new 50 years ago. So, I’m calling it my new/old home. I’ve known it all my life. New year, new home, new city… new life.

This is a chance for me to reboot my life. I’m not so far away from my old life that I’m not going to have it any more, I just need a change of pace and expand my horizon a little bit.

If nothing else that life has taught me so far, it is to not take anything for granted. Don’t just wait around for something to happen, make it happen. No more procrastinating. This is the year I begin to live again.

I toast you all that are still part of my life and continue to support me on my journey, as I hope I have done in yours. May the new year be fruitful, auspicious and kind.

– Shanta

P.S. If you’re looking for my Bridget Jones post for the coming year, that will also come soon.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing.

Rocks at Lafontaine

My feet were certainly feeling refreshed in the cool water.

Happy 5th Anniversary To Me

This was a cover that I used for my second level Niei Chi

This was a cover that I used for my second level Niei Chi

Saturday marked a real milestone in my life. It has been five years since I stopped smoking. It also marks 5 years since I graded for my first black belt.

I was never a very heavy smoker. A pack a day was a challenge. I averaged 7 or 8 a day and smoked ultra light menthols. I’d tried quitting before and it usually lasted about 6-8 weeks before I’d go back to it. I even had major surgery to remove my spleen and thought I could beat it. I tried acupuncture but because I could go for 6-8 weeks on my own, they said it wouldn’t do much good.

Taken one day after class on the East Beach in Toronto

Taken one day after class on the East Beach in Toronto

In our organization, all black belts must sign their name stating that they are smoke free. I’d been promising myself each belt level that I was going to quit. But as I went through them, I kept smoking.

Grading for your black belt is a great honour and I regarded it as such, including the oath I took. The day I graded for my black belt is the day I smoked my last cigarette.  A month later when I was awarded my first black belt, I smoke half a cigar in celebration and haven’t smoked since.

Since then, I’ve been to Hong Kong for 5 months, where everyone smokes like chimneys. I could have cheated but something a friend of mine kept me in line. Whenever I thought “Maybe just one; no one will know.” His voice would answer: “But you will.”

I finished university, go the rest of my shodans, went onto my nidans and about to start my sandans in the fall.

Thank you Sensei. Ous.

Words to live by

Even if I don’t necessarily agree with some on the list, someone will, so why remove any? Because: A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. Enjoy 😉
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

If you got a tattoo, what would it be?

Japanese Calligraphy for peace: "Heiwa"

Japanese Calligraphy for peace: "Heiwa"

If you got a tattoo, what would it be?

I’ve always said there is nothing that I would put on my body that I could honestly keep for the rest of my life. Having seen how some people frivolously put tattoos on their body, such as a boy/girlfriend’s name, even husband or wife, and then within a few years it’s over. To me, nothing is forever.

But, this is a hypothetical discussion, so here it is. The one thing that I could possibly think of that I would be willing to put on my body is the symbol for peace in Japanese calligraphy, “Heiwa”. For those who don’t know, the Hindi name, Shanti means “peace”. The derivation of that, Shanta, means “peaceful”. It sounds a little self-serving/selfish, but the only thing that I could honestly rely on and know through and through, is me. There are people for whom I would lay my life on the line, but those people have changed. One can never know what events might change who they are and what might cause the change. Why Japanese? Simple: I’ve always loved the Orient and I am a student of martial arts.

In addition, the bigger picture is that I believe that we come from our roots. This is a great symbol of my grandmother, whom I wrote about in a previous post. I know that I can be combative at times, but I usually get riled up when I believe that there is some injustice. Ultimately, I want peace. I might sound much like a beauty pageant contestant, but it’s true. I believe that in order to survive, we all need to get along. As my friend Dan Levy (@TheDanLevy) said: “/rant”

Dealing With My Bully – My Other Prom Story

As we approach the prom season, I feel that I must share yet another prom story. This one, I’ve told many times, but now, I want to share it with everyone.

I met “JM” in Grade 6 after I moved to Toronto from Burlington. He was in a different class but we all moved up to junior high together.

In Grade 8, one of my friends tells me that he has a crush on me. Now, understand two things:

  1. I was not a popular kid at school…he was.
  2. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very approachable, so if he really was interested, he could come to me directly

He acted shy though I could smell a rat…or a trap…or a rat trap! We finally set up a date to go to the movies at the local movie house. Thank goodness I took my two friends with me as a back up because, as predicted, he stood me up.

A short time later, at Halloween, he and his buddies were outside of Lick’s, a busy spot in the Beach. As we walked away, they followed us squirting our asses with water guns. After we got across the street, I handed my candy bag to one of my friends, went back across the street and asked him to step aside with me so I could talk to him. Then I turned around and slapped him. I walked away before I could see him recover, but I didn’t hit him very hard. His friend chased after me and told me “You hurt my friend!” I replied (and my friends have never let me live it down) “Well, he hurt me emotionally!” We kept our distance after that…until Grade 9.

We ended up in the same math class and had to sit alphabetically by last name. I sat right behind him. I could have tortured him all year, but I took the higher ground and offered a truce. I figured we were stuck here for the rest of the year and had better make the best of it. He accepted and it lasted all the time in high school…until Prom.

I was setting up a shot of a couple of friends with my dad’s SLR camera. As I looked through the viewfinder, I saw someone jump into frame. I pulled to camera away from my face to see none other than JM standing in front of me and though I didn’t look down, I knew he was “all out”. I looked to my left to see my entire graduating class watching.

You know when you’re in a moment like this and you look back years later and wish you’d had the perfect line? This was not one of those moments. Almost instantly I said: “This is a telephoto lens, not a microscope. Put it away.” He turned red, put it away and everyone else laughed.

I still see him every now and then in my local pub. But everytime that happens, he leaves very soon after that.

I’ve recently read: “The best revenge is a vow to never be like the one who hurt you.” I believe that.

What is the story behind your given name?

What is the story behind your given name?.

My first name “Shanta” is a Hindu name meaning “peaceful”. The more common name “Shanti” means “peace” and is more commonly heard in eastern chants such as “Om Shanti”.

When I was born, they said that I was so peaceful that they decided to give me the name of my paternal grandmother. It is truly an honour to have the same name as she.

She became bedridden shortly after my grandfather passed away. There she stayed for more than 12 years. Her hearing started going along with her eyesight. But she never complained. She would sit there day in and day out praying for the welfare of her children and grandchildren, like me.

I was fortunate enough to spend two months in India in her home and the last day I gave her, along with the other women of the household, including the servant, a dozen roses. I like to think that whenever she smelled roses, she would think of me. She passed away a few months later.

I can only hope that I will do her name justice and continue to bring peace.