Happy Mother’s Day to me!

A few nights ago, I dreamt October 17th 2008. I dreamt the weirdly colored pink pacifier because we lost the other one in the hospital. How could I remember that date so clearly? Because it was the day that I handed my 30 day old son to doctors, not knowing if I would get him back.

My son was born strong and healthy and even though I was a single mother, I had an exceptional support system. I was at home by my parents and being spoilt as much as their first grandchild. My milk was slow to come in so I chose to breastfeed and supplement with formula. Every morning, my mom would come and take my son from my room at 4.30am
 feed him, change pampers, play with him and I got to sleep late.

But everything changed when he was 10 days old and he vomited for the first time. But that’s what babies do right? My inner voice told me that something was wrong but I was a new mama, so how much did I really know? Our pediatrician’s office became our second home and as the days slowly crept by, the vomiting got progressively worse. This was vomit spewing 3 feet away from a baby only 2 weeks old. We changed formulas countless times, I monitored my diet in case there was something in my system that was passing to him through the breast milk. But there was no change. I became completely overwhelmed
 I wouldn’t let anyone feed him. Even though my dad was driving me and my mom to the doctor, I held my pain and wouldn’t let anyone know of the level of discomfort that I was experiencing just days after a C-section. The doctors could not find anything wrong to cause this extent of vomiting. So it became a constant guessing game trying to rule out possibilities. My son continued to vomit and with each day that passed, I blamed myself more and more. I believed that if I was a better mother, then my baby would be well and this would not be happening; even thinking that God was punishing me for my decision to be a single mother.

When my son was 27 days old, I was forced to rush him to emergency. He was severely dehydrated after being unable to keep down anything for almost 48 hours. I held my baby for countless x-rays, ultrasounds and a barium swallow (which I would not wish on an adult).

October 17th 2008, when he was 30 days old, I handed him over for exploratory surgery. While it was strongly believed that his condition was pyloric stenosis (an abnormality of the lower stomach muscle that causes the muscle to tighten and not allow for proper digestion, thus causing him to reject all oral feed), none of the tests had definitely confirmed their suspicions. So I had no choice but to sign away my son and pray for the best.

We were waiting for the time of surgery to be confirmed, so I pulled out my phone and snapped some pictures of him. My mom was with me and she initially moved his right hand, the one with the drips attached, out of the way. I put his hand back in place and she looked at me confused and asked “why are you taking pictures of his drips?” I responded nonsensically saying “he looks cute with it”. The truthful answer, which I never said out loud was “ I don’t know if this will be his last moments and I need this memory exactly as it is”.

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The moment that I handed my son to the doctor for surgery will stay with me for as long as I live. In that single moment, I understood the saying that “to be a mother is to forever have your heart walk around outside of your body”. Physically ripping my heart out of my body would have been less painful than what I experienced.

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To this day, I can still remember that anguish as if it happened yesterday. And I can still remember the overwhelming relief and incredible joy when my baby was returned to me, full of life as if nothing had happened.

It was confirmed that he did in fact have pyloric stenosis, but with no added complications. He recovered quickly and continued thriving.

This was the first of several trials that we have had to endure. With this first situation, he proved to me that he is a fighter like his mama and with the support of his mama, will triumph regardless of the challenge.

I am honored and blessed to be your mama 💙

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Finding my passion

In 2012, I was officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. Truthfully, this was something I had always battled with, but getting it on paper meant confronting the demons. I finally understood that this wasn’t a bad day or week. This was something that I needed to accept was going to be present, probably for the rest of my life. I fought the perceived stigma of taking anti-depressants for years until I realized that if I didn’t, my suicidal ideation would eventually become a reality and my son would wake up one morning without a mother. I took 3 different tablets before I found the one that worked for me.

In the following months, I was forced into a great deal of introspection and slowly, the realization hit that I was not getting as much joy from my work, as I had in the past. I started wondering if my state of mind was boredom and stagnancy… maybe 12 years with one company had made me lose my drive for more. The undeniable fact sank in that I didn’t want to be in the corporate world anymore. But what do you do when all of your education has prepared you for the path that you no longer want to follow?

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Some people may think that maybe I chose the wrong path. But I always loved sciences and still do. I pursued my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry and then followed with my Master of Science degree in Food Science and Technology. Those choices always felt right and allowed me a very comfortable career. Why then did I suddenly feel as though I had made the wrong decision? And was it possible to fix at this stage of my life?

I restarted practising yoga with no other intention than relaxation and after a few months, my yoga teacher offered her first training program… a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified program. Some aspects were opened to the public as individual sessions and I signed up for all. Those sessions dealt a lot with yoga philosophy and really understanding the roots of where yoga came from. As soon as I attended, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do this training.

I started planning for 2014. Being a single mother with a recently diagnosed autistic son didn’t make matters easy. However, planning a year in advance was a huge advantage. Godparents were called on for babysitting duties and support as I embarked on yoga teacher training in 2014.

On the 2nd day of training, I told my yoga teacher that I wanted to do this full time. As much as she wanted to, I’m not sure she believed me. But all of the ambiguity in my life suddenly made sense. Turning my back on 14 years of building my career to become a yoga teacher, with an unreliable income, having to hunt for work made sense. And if you don’t know me… I’m a Type A personality, very OCD, Virgo, who plans my life to a T. Yet casting everything to the wind somehow made me feel more confident and secure than I had in years.

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I spent the next two years fine-tuning my skills and building my financial safety net. On February 12th 2016, I officially left the corporate world and adopted the new job title of yoga instructor.

Fast forward two years… no regrets but sometimes worrying moments. Finances are tighter than when I had the luxury of a consistent, unvarying pay cheque, but so far I’ve been comfortable and blessed. The one lesson I’ve learnt is that you cannot put a price on peace of mind. I’ve now made peace with myself that my depression and anxiety are not something I can snap out of. They are as a result of a chemical imbalance and I will likely be on medication for the rest of my life. But I’m ok with that. And being in a profession that allows my mental strength to develop is always a benefit. Having a profession that allows me to be connected with a passion that I never imagined possible brings me a greater level of positivity and joy which never previously existed in my life.

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Yoga is an experience that will transform your thinking, your views on life and the world. Working hard for something that you love is called passion and I have found my passion in yoga.

Yoga every blessed day… and fighting ahimsa

Yesterday I completed my very first yoga challenge… you know those ones where you practice every day for a month and post a pic every day 😣😼 Yup, that kinda yoga challenge! And I did it! Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried something like this. But it’s definitely the first time that I truly committed 110% and for that reason, I achieved a much higher degree of success than in the past. I’m usually the person who always over-commits to everything… so why was this such a stumbling block when I attempted it in the past? Because often the emotional struggles are the ones which threaten to defeat us more than the physical.

Day #1 – Padmasana or Lotus Pose

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My self-esteem has always, and continues to test me. The image in the mirror doesn’t always reflect as I think it should… so the first few days of the challenge, I literally took 2-3 dozen pics each day to find the perfect one to post. Either the lighting looked weird or there was a shadow falling on my face or it wasn’t centred or I knew I could go deeper into the pose.. to the more critical issues of my alignment being a bit off or the pic giving a wrong impression of what the pose should be about.

That obsession bothered me internally and by day #4, I knew that it was something I needed to address. The practice of ahimsa or non-harming as one of the yamas (moral restraints) of yoga is an integral part of one of the eight limbs of yoga. Very often, we forget that non-harming doesn’t only apply to those beings around us, but also to ourselves. And if our words and our thoughts to ourselves are those that criticise and undermine our efforts, then we are causing emotional harm to our inner being. I then promised myself that the first step in breaking this pattern would be to take no more than three pictures each day and accept that whatever those pictures captured, would be where my journey was on that day.

Day #11 – Viparita Virabhadrasana or Reverse Warrior

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Did I love my pics everyday? Often no… and it required huge amounts of positive self-talk in order to persevere and continue. However, by limiting myself to only three pics, I was able to let go of the expectation of something perfect and instead, truly focus on a positive practice. The pic became a bonus, if it happened. And by day #19, I realized that I was genuinely enjoying the experience.

Day #19 – Matsyasana or Fish Pose

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I would love to say that since becoming a yoga instructor, that I practice religiously every single day, but it would be a lie. This was the first time in my life that I did practice daily. Sometimes it was a hot, sweaty, super intense practice. Sometimes it was no longer than ten minutes of easy, gentle stretching. And a few times, it was awesome fun with my favorite #hunnybunny as we played with different poses.

Day #25 – Forearm Plank or Dolphin Plank

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Feel free to check the social media links for my yoga journey… Breathe In Yoga:

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/breatheinyogatt
Instagram breatheinyogatt

The Battle of Tight Hips and Locked Emotions

As a child I always sat in lotus, not just crossed legs… full lotus. There wasn’t anything yogic about it at the time… I just liked to sit like that. As I entered my teens, it started becoming uncomfortable and by my early 20s was no longer possible. Every few months, I would revisit but it was completely inaccessible to me and eventually I gave up trying and considered it lost to my childhood. In 2012, when I started on my journey of rebirth, I was forced to face demons that I had buried within me and that was when I discovered the connection between my physical body and the manifestation of my locked emotions. The realisation that the tightening of my hips started at the same time as my eating disorders, the continuation of tightening corresponding to other physical and emotional traumas that I experienced in my life. About 3 years ago, I attempted lotus again and even though, I felt that I had made significant progress towards facing my demons and my physical body felt more open, I was still dealing with an incredible level of daily stress and the pose continued to elude me.

I started teaching yoga full time almost 2 years ago and the benefits to my well-being, my peace of mind and my emotional state have been mind-blowing. So imagine my shock when I attempt lotus and it happened… I wasn’t expecting it, had let go of the attachment to achieving it, and it happened. I literally sat there thinking “this can’t be lotus… how did this happen??” I may not be able to do a handstand, my poses may sometimes be awkward and wobbly, I may often prefer child’s pose… but my emotional state has made a breakthrough and from that, only beauty and inspiration can emerge 💞

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Feel free to check the social media links for Breathe In Yoga for updates in my yoga life

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/breatheinyogatt
Instagram breatheinyogatt

My Final Blog Post for 2017

Finally

I shared my thoughts earlier on introspection and how this might help you to determine some of your goals for 2018. In my final blog post for 2017, I share some of my greatest accomplishments of this year. Several of these were goals that I attempted in previous years but finally happened in 2017.

2017 accomplishments

It’s always a work in progress. Many of these goals will continue and here’s my vision board for 2018. Be sure to stay tuned for updates on these goals… and maybe some added ones as I continue to reflect on my joys, challenges and experiences in 2017.

2018 vision board

Introspection and Resolutions

As 2017 draws to a close, expect social media to be inundated with the “New Year, New Me” posts, coupled with the multitude of failed attempts at resolutions. But why are resolutions so difficult for many of us to commit to and so easy for us to fail at? I think the answer lies in what we set as our resolutions. How genuine are these goals and how accurately do they reflect our true desires? Are we attempting to learn a new skill because it might help us with our personal marketability or because it sounds cool to say? How about those fitness plans… because it’s the easiest goal to think of or because we really have a vested desire to be healthier?

A few years ago, I changed my approach towards resolutions. Instead of focusing my attention on setting goals, I started using this time for deep thought and then allowed goals to unfold from my thought process. For me personally, I think introspection is needed for growth. This allows me to reflect on all that I accomplished and decide what is most important for me to focus on as we move into the new year.

One of the tools that helped me was an introspection article, which included a list of 100 questions that can sometimes help in your thought process and maybe allow some goals to unfold for 2018. I’m sharing some of my faves with the hope that they can assist you as they’ve done for me. Allow your thoughts to run as deeply as possible… not simply answering the question but focusing on the why in your answer.

  1. When was the last time you told someone “I love you”?
  2. When was the last time someone told you that they love you?
  3. Can you be alone without feeling lonely?
  4. What is one thing you love most about yourself?
  5. What made you feel the most alive this year?
  6. What did you do this year that you regret?
  7. What made you cry the hardest this year?
  8. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
  9. What did you accomplish this year that you’re most proud of?
  10. Was 2017 better or worse than 2016?
  11. Who is that one person you can talk to about anything?
  12. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?
  13. If you died tomorrow, what would you be most remembered for?
  14. What was the best book you read this year?
  15. When did you feel most at peace this year?
  16. Who might you owe an apology to at the end of this year?
  17. What’s the most important thing you learned this year?
  18. Are your actions guided by love or fear?
  19. Do the people you surround yourself with add value to your life?
  20. Are you more likely to follow the crowd or listen to your own heart?
  21. What is one thing  that you could start doing to immediately improve the quality of your life?
  22. When was the last time you did something nice for yourself?
  23. What was the last new thing you learnt?
  24. Are you a happy person?
  25. If you had to give a child one piece of advice, what would it be?
  26. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  27. Is there someone who has hurt or angered you that you need to forgive?
  28. What has my heart been telling me that I might be ignoring?
  29. Where am I not being honest with myself and why?
  30. What would you do differently if you only had one more year to live?

Stay tuned for my 2018 resolutions in a blog post coming soon.

My top 13 favourite books of all time

I love books! Will read almost anything. So as 2017 is coming to an end, I thought I’d do a compilation of some of my favs. Why 13? Why not? But then I couldn’t narrow it down and it became 23 đŸ€ȘđŸ€“Â I didn’t include any reviews or this blog would’ve taken forever 😁 But I did include why some of these were so important to me.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The absolute bestest book ever written in my humble opinion. The sequel Go Set A Watchman never measured up.
  2. The Stand by Stephen King – Truthfully anything written by SK except for The Tommyknockers… that was simply weird and not in a good way.
  3. The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger 
  4. Lucky and Chances by Jackie Collins – Technically that’s two books, but since it’s on one line it only counts as one; and realistically, I think they had the potential to flow as a single book.
  5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  6. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – I thought I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. This was one of those books that you knew was going to have a sad ending but you really hoped it wouldn’t… almost like the ship sinking in Titanic. You knew it was gonna happen, but you held out hope to the last moment.
  7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – Loved both the movie and book but it always baffled me as to the two very different endings. Strangely enough, I found both endings equally fascinating.
  8. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This list wouldn’t have been complete without a few children’s books.
  10. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  11. Misery by Stephen King – Almost every SK book could make this list so I’ve attempted to refrain from making this a review of SK books. But I still had to include the ones dearest to my heart. This was the first SK book that I didn’t consider to be a horror and that initially threw me off. By the end, I loved it just as much as all his other books.
  12. Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst The Rwandan Holocaust by Ilibagiza Immaculee
  13. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  14. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson 
  15. Flowers In The Attic by V. C. Andrews 
  16. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson – I’ve always found that the simplest inspirational books tend to be short, which means you have no excuse not to read them. No more than half an hour and you
  17. Christine by Stephen King – This was my very first SK book so it will always hold a very special place in my heart. It also inspired many of my high school English essays much to the chagrin of my teachers. This was also my first extensive introduction to the “f word” and I was amazed at how many times it could be used đŸ€Ł
  18. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
  19. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – Similar to Who Moved My Cheese? this is short but will provide a lifetime of motivation.
  20. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  21. There’s A Wocket In My Pocket by Dr Seuss
  22. War And Remembrance by Herman Wouk
  23. The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough 

Feel free to share your own favs in the comments and if there is any book here that you would like more deets on, ask away and I can elaborate.

Happy reading!