“Do you ever get tired of looking after your body?”

A question I often get is whether I ever get tired of looking after my body. Yes. All the time. It’s a lot of work, much like looking after a hyper active kid who wouldn’t let you rest and requires all your attention because you never know what he might knock over or set fire to. Of course it’s tiring!

Over the last few years I realised that sometimes it’s almost impossible to find a direct link between what you do and what happens to you. The right thing to do then is to do your best based on the info you have. Can you imagine the kind of questions we’d have answered by now, in the realms of chronic illnesses and life if it all worked on a very distinct cause and effect basis?

I’ve personally noticed that there could (not always) be a cumulative factor to it instead. Ten different things added together may lead to a particular favourable or unfavourable result.

For example, sticking to my daily routine in terms of self care and rest, my nightly routine, my weekly physio and pilates, all my strengthening exercises, medications, spending time in my safe and healing environment, following my specific diet, all my doctors’ appointments, not signing up for any societal obligations and exercising the power of saying NO, usually allows me to manage my health symptoms better and sometimes even do more.

Similarly, not being able to do any of the above causes my body to start de-conditioning and overtime I start to lose my day to day strength. Now, add that with significant movement from traveling and a few days of too much activity and my health starts to deteriorate. Hence why I speak of sticking to a daily routine, setting flexible goals and drawing boundaries for yourself. It can become the difference between me fighting a chronic illness versus managing one — and that’s a big deal.

Over the last ten weeks, i was somehow managing my symptoms but not doing a very good job of it. Sooner or later, my body was going to begin to de-condition. It’s happening now. After a horrific night of painsomnia and lack of sleep, I just spent the entire day curled up in bed.

I think I’ve hit my limit and all I want to do is rest. #chronicillness

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Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

There’s been a lot on my mind lately and I’ve been thinking all this while whether these things were appropriate to be shared on my blog. These things are somewhat personal and sensitive but I remembered my very purpose of starting this blog in the first place — it was to create a safe space for me to be exactly who I am, share my experiences openly knowing that my account, while helping me make sense of my experiences and live life to the best of my ability, may even help someone else in their journey.

So keeping that in mind, I finally decided that sharing my experiencing and expressing my opinions out here is definitely worth it.

My recent move to India has brought up so many thoughts and emotions for me. For sure, some of it has to do with my childhood and leaving my home of twenty something years. However, a larger part of it has to do with my inability and struggle to make sense of how the system and culture functions out here. I agree that I grew up around lots of Indians and that I didn’t fully lose touch with my roots, but I remember very clearly and from a very young age, feeling very strongly that I don’t fit in.

Let me try and be a little more specific here.

I was seven or eight when I left India. My parents, like many other parents, were highly protective of us. Basically, I have barely any memory whatsoever about the world outside of the comfort of my home in India. Ask me about my pre-Singapore childhood experiences at home and I recollect them as if they happened yesterday. Quite frankly, I remember every painful experience inside of the four walls. Somewhere, as a very young girl, I believed that the world outside was a perfect place. You could say I was rosy-eyed; believing there was peace and love everywhere because somehow that was all I cared about. Naturally, I was naive and didn’t know enough about the actual world out there.

Then, after moving away to Singapore, India became a vacation spot we’d visit once or twice a year.Obviously by then Singapore has started to feel like home. India, to me was this place I’d visit for a limited time, meet limited people and well, say goodbye and return. It was great meeting everyone but a part of me always craved going back. Almost as if I already knew at that age that something about the environment didn’t sit well with me. Or, as I said before, I didn’t fit in.

As I grew older, that feeling got stronger. My views about my homeland started to change drastically, as if blossoming into a young woman brought along a threat I wasn’t quite aware of. While I truly enjoyed my time with family and friends in India, I got more and more uncomfortable about the culture, certain family dynamics and gender roles. As I write, I’m trying very hard to remember at least ONE holiday where something didn’t stand out for me, or that I didn’t feel threatened by some men outside family, or where I actually felt like I could connect or relate with the women I came across. There was just too much out there that made me feel terribly uncomfortable. Being a highly-sensitive child, I didn’t need to fully understand things; the vibe around a situation were good enough.

Today, twenty something years later, I’ve returned to this place again, no longer as a teenager who couldn’t entirely relate to her own culture or who felt threatened as a girl, but as a healthy-looking grown woman, confident in her individuality and her choices AND ALSO as someone suffering from a chronic illness.

For the kind of internal work I have committed myself to for a few years now (I make mistakes but I’m consciously working on myself every single day and seek guidance when needed), I have returned to India knowing very well that the transition isn’t going to be a walk in the park. That said, I find that I am open and willing to embrace this place and all that is in store. I am willing to put some of my most traumatic and painful experiences away and look at this place with a new pair of lenses.

Initially I thought the approach of camouflaging (not fitting-in, that’s different) will get me through circumstances here. You see, you don’t have to fit in, but you could just camouflage your way out, no? Not stand out too much. Watch what you say. Watch what you wear. Watch what you share on your blog. Be nice all the time with everyone. Watch your voice. Don’t react even if people are condescending towards you etc. But as the days went by, I reached a conclusion (for the millionth time) that fortunately or unfortunately, there is absolutely NOTHING camouflageable about me. Not my face, nor my body, not my personality, nor my lifestyle, not my story, nor my parents’ story…etc. etc. and that is just how it is. My life experiences, in general, are nothing less than a cultural shock to most people here. All the work I’ve done to accept myself, set healthy boundaries and evolve as a person is such a waste of time if I focus on camouflaging!

So, I stopped. I don’t want to fit in and nor do I want to camouflage my way through life here. Trying to be anything less or more than who I’ve become makes my days feel less fulfilling. Living on someone elses’ terms or expecting my story to be understood as is, both, eat into my precious energy.

To say the least, it’s been quite a challenge being a young, single, work from home (or not, if health doesn’t allow), chronically ill and pretty woman in a place like India. That whole combination somehow doesn’t seem to help. I’m award that women like me in other parts of the world struggle too but for the sake of this post, or collection of posts, I’ll be writing about my experiences here in India.

It’s been harder than I thought. You know how knowing is one thing and actually experiencing something is another? I’ve not known enough about India (from my personal stories and reading) to make informed decisions but never have I had to experience the culture the way I need to this time. I’m seeing things around me that I don’t quite like (never did) and I’m learning to respond in a way that honours my present self.

If you know me personally, you’d know that writing is extremely healing for me. It helps me process my thoughts and allows my emotions to move through my system (who wants that gunk sticking around inside anyway?) more easily. I usually write for myself, some of which I share and some I don’t.

Over the years I noticed that as I write and put things out there, I also directly and indirectly connect with people around the world. Maybe me sharing my experiences as I manoeuvre my way through this transition and issues like sexism and ableism, could potentially make someone else out there feel heard and less alone.

At the moment, the closest of my relationships consist of men — my brother, my dad, one of my best friends who is a guy and a male cousin. While they can try and understand how I feel, they cannot possibly, even if they wished, fully grasp or wrap their heads around the actual intensity. Of course, they’re around to help but certain sensitive topics require more than just that. They require being put out there. Being spoken about, often publicly too.

My closest girlfriends, on the other hand, share the same opinions as I do too but once again, being chronically ill takes things up a notch. Your environment and how things function in it affects your health to a level not understood by most.

This is going to be a step up in my journey. As I learn to own my story once again (this time in a very unfamiliar setting) show up for myself and become completely okay with not fitting in, I hope to keep my posts on here rather raw and as unedited as possible. Obviously that means if you’re expecting a level of political correctness, my posts are not for you :)

Do wait up for more posts coming in as they come in. I will only be writing if my health permits.

Lots of love,

Manasi

P.S. I will even be turning off the comments section on some of the stories I share. Please feel free to reach out to me on my e-mail if need be. Should you have anything defensive to say about my stories, please remind yourself that our experiences can very well differ and neither are necessarily invalid.

Judge me all you want

Your judgement is nothing but a reflection of your own mind and its ability (rather, inability) to open and grow.

I’m currently working on giving zero f*ks about what this society thinks and trying to focus on living in integrity with myself.

I guess my conclusion that I would rather not be liked by too many people than to exchange my peace of mind, self worth, and my lifestyle for their approval is constantly validated out here.

I see my empathy and sensitivity as my strength and they’ve proven to be in so many circumstances. It’s exactly what allows me to connect with people at a depth which makes many others rather uncomfortable.

However, I’ve also learnt to show up for myself when my empathy is taken advantage of and when my kindness is taken for granted. Today I’m doing just that — showing up for myself and learning to be comfortable in my choices.

So go ahead, judge me all you want.

P.s. I feel so grateful to have been brought up in a different place. A place that allowed for expansion of my heart and mind, and, encouraged me to stand in my authenticity despite the opinions of others.

You can be kind and assertive at the same time 💗Say no when that’s exactly what you want to say. Also, ask yourself who you’d like to explain yourself to and who you can do without having to.

Hello there spoonies and other friends!

So while I was off social media, I took some time for myself and made sure I brought my interaction with people to a bare minimum. I met just a few people apart from my pilates instructor, physiotherapist, ayurveda therapist and naturopath but I made sure to look at my phone and laptop less. In fact, I wrote more in my journal and typed less on my phone.

Some of the experiences I had just over this week made me think through a lot about how far I’ve come and how far I’m yet to go. When you really make an effort to disconnect with the noise around you and connect with what is already within, you finally hear the noise within you loud and clear. And if you dig deep enough, and have the courage to dig further, you find that there’s so much wisdom residing in there that you barely ever need to seek answers from outside. A lot of what we need to know, we already do.

So, obviously, I made a list of ten things that came up for me in the course of this one week. I took some time to journal and think through each point even more and I figured I have so much to share and so much to learn at the same time. I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to share this list with everyone but I’ve made up my mind to do it anyway. Who knows, it might resonate with someone out there.

1. Listen more; to your inner wisdom and to those who need to be heard
2. Express more gratitude
3. Have the courage to ASK for your needs to be met
4. Be brave and say ‘NO’ if/when necessary
5. Preserve your energy; it’s everything
6. Reframe your past, refocus on your present and reimagine your future
7. Return to the thoughts of peace, love, health and success
8. Validate yourself for every progress you’ve made
9. Make your own decisions. You know what is best for you.
10. Trust that you will always be supported if you’re willing to jump off the cliff. Keep doing your best and being your best even if you’re at your weakest.

The most important thing I realized was that I NEEDED this time. Unless I make a conscious effort to create a space for myself, I will always be a part of something I don’t need to be a part of. Love, Manasi ❤️ #chronicillness #selfcare

If you have a story, write. If you have a story that changed you for the better, write for sure. Because when you do, you heal and create a safe space for others to heal.

There can never be enough stories of struggle and harsh realities which lead to strength, courage and acceptance.

Don't let your story confine you.
Let it become a catalyst for your growth, your ability to adapt + respond and your enthusiasm for life.

Love,
MD

Keep on going on 

There’s so much I’ve been thinking about lately and want to write about but my health has been keeping me terribly busy and I’m almost alway too exhausted for anything else.
My back, shoulders and knees have been screaming at me all at once with my right wrist, left thumb and neck taking turns. It’s tiring on all levels, especially with the brain fog kicking in every once in a while. Maybe this is the new exhaustion and fatigue level I need to learn to work around now that I have a new “normal” or new baseline to consider. It feels like I’m either resting/doing things that involve looking after myself or teaching/working on classes but to be honest, there is so much more going on in between! I’m doing a lot and I need to keep telling myself that.

Sometimes in the midst of trying to figure out everything, I forget that I’m doing my best and that there is only so much I can do given the circumstances.

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Sometimes we create our circumstances and sometimes we’re born into them. Either ways, we can only learn to respond to what is.

Keep on going on! You’re doing everything.

Have a happy weekend 🌺

07/05/17: Mandala Making Workshop

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Beautiful day. Beautiful space. Beautiful people. Beautiful artwork. Beautiful lessons.

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Here’s me setting up everything, one pen at a time. And check out my wobbly left shoulder holding on to its dear life. 🌷

I had such a wonderful time teaching the Mandala Making Workshop last weekend. Somehow, those two hours made me feel more alive than anything else has in more than half a year now. The most beautiful thing about the experience was the very fact that it brought people from different walks of life together, for one shared purpose: to give a break to their busy minds and let their creativity run wild.

We had a retiree who was looking for ways to keep her mind active, a yoga teacher exploring ways for self-expression, a mandarin language teacher who had forgotten that she can create, a computer engineer who needed her calculating brain to quieten for once… none of them had ANY background in mandalas or pattern-making, hadn’t done much research and yet they were there because it seemed right…I mean, isn’t this just WOW?!

Even though it is not uncommon, I am still so amazed at how the whole process shifted something for some of the participants. For me, being there and seeing that in itself was such a deeply moving experience. To be honest, I’m still letting it all sink in. Everything from the place, to people and to the tea we had seemed right. I don’t think I could  have asked to be anywhere else on that Sunday morning but there, teaching, sharing and learning. I’m fatigued out of my mind and yet so full in my heart. Let’s see how long it takes for me to recover from all of it physically but I know I’ll be okay and I’ll do this again when it’s time. My body needs rest now. Conducting a workshop after half a year of being 90% bedridden is a big step ahead for me. And it didn’t just happen overnight… this big step comprised of many, many small steps over the last so many months and years…

One day at a time

One step at a time.

🌷🌿🙏🏼✨