A Seven Treasures post by Sabrina Ramnanan

Sabrina Ramnanan

Sabrina Ramnanan

SABRINA RAMNANAN was born in Toronto to Trinidadian parents. She completed her BA in English and BEd at the University of Toronto. Sabrina is also a recent graduate of University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program and the recipient of the 2012 Marina Nemat award. Her work has appeared in Diaspora Dialogues, Cerulean Rain, Writing in the Margins, The Caribbean Writer, and Joyland. Nothing Like Loveher debut novel, will be published in April 2015.



Four years ago a dear friend gifted me a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Journal. It lives in my office, as most of my treasured things do, facing the door so that every time I enter the space I can’t help but notice it. I have made what I consider a valiant attempt to write one happy sentence a day since I received it. I haven’t always been successful. In fact, there is at least one day marked with an angry X for a reason that now eludes me. But for the most part I have chronicled in this journal four years of random snippets of joy that I can flip back to and relive as many times as I like. This simple act of penning my gratitude makes me appreciate things big and small, reminds me to smile on days I’d rather not, and calls to mind a friend with a spirit as lovely as this gift.


I adore my collection of the Thousand Paths series of books. They are stunning little things full of simple wisdoms, and I am constantly arranging and rearranging them on my bookcase and desk because of how cheerful and pretty they make every space. I hunted these down in a used bookstore one summer, tiny gems in big bins of throwaway paperbacks. It’s funny that I haven’t actually read them all — or even one in its entirety — but every page flipped to at random holds just the perfect message, and I can’t imagine writing in my office without them.


officeprintsI had these prints custom made for my office about the same time I decided that I was going to be a writer — and tell people about it. Both quotes perfectly encapsulate how I felt when I made that decision, and thankfully, how I still feel now. They are reminders that I chose right, which for a person as vacillating as me feels like an Olympic win.


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
― Robert Frost


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. Henry David Thoreau


courageAt a conference a few years ago, I was asked to close my eyes and choose an engraved stone from a box of maybe one hundred. My fingers could have closed around a Truth or Peace stone, but instead they found this Courage stone and hung on. I needed courage then. I was at a crossroads in my life, trying to figure out how seriously I should pursue a career in creative writing, and if I did, how far I should veer from the only career I’d ever known: teaching. I struggled, went back and forth on the decision a million times, it seemed, and for just as many reasons. For months I kept my Courage stone at my bedside table, and then gradually, as I felt more compelled to write, I moved the stone into my office, where it has remained ever since. I still need courage now; I need it every day, to write, to teach, to be a mother and a wife, to balance my roles and still look and feel like a normal (whatever that is) functioning person in society. And so, this stone is always relevant, special, and holds all kinds of meaning for me. This Courage stone chose me, and so I keep it near.


My yoga mat isn’t the most expensive mat in the world, and these days I don’t use it quite as often as I’d like, but still, it is dear to me. On this mat I have discovered pleasant and unpleasant truths about myself, the strengths and limitations of my own body, and how to find stillness in the chaos. It is a symbol of my growth and a gentle reminder that my journey is only just beginning. This mat, so much like a magic carpet for all the places it has taken me, never fails to deliver just what I need, even if I don’t know what that is before I unroll it.


In my filing cabinet lies an envelope in which author Lawrence Hill once mailed me feedback on a short story. I haven’t opened it in years, but it is tucked away in my writing folder along with all the other kind words instructors and writing mentors have given me over the years. When I feel discouraged, or begin to question just what it is I think I’m doing, pretending to be a writer, I glance at the file and know that all kinds of well wishes are tucked away in there just for me. They are like silent cheerleaders from the past and present, endlessly bolstering my spirit.


pondMy Canadian home backs onto this lovely pond framed by just enough trees to give it a rural feel, even though it is a dot in a suburban maze. In the autumn at least one flock of Canada geese glides across the pond’s surface; in the winter it is a Narnia wonderland; and in the spring and summer a blue heron perches on a rock in the middle to witness the unfolding of warmer days. There is always something to see on the pond. I can lose myself in its simple beauty at any given time of day, and when I walk away from the window I am always, always just a little stiller.

Read an excerpt from Nothing Like Love here.

For more writing inspiration, browse the Seven Treasures series.

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