Once a dancer always a dancer

So I was busy decluttering my to-be home office, discarding the old and making space for the new. It’s a ritual that I take seriously because it allows me to work with my feelings about the things I own, my past, present and future.

Determined to pull an all-nighter according to Canadian time so that I can peacefully fall asleep at night, I decided to play a list of fast Bollywood songs which is specifically created to lift my spirit up from time to time. I thought it was helping me stay up and get work done.

Just then, this one song plays and I’m like nahhhh, everything can wait. Everything must wait. I need to do this.

Think about it for a moment:

With the dark cloud of chronic illness constantly hovering above us, what can we do to lift our spirits?

What sparks true joy within us?

Could we be letting our disability confine us more than it needs to?

Can we not find ways to work within our limits and still experience similar feelings of passion?

I think we can.

We’re all different, with different illnesses, different degrees of severity, different scale of limitations, different support systems, different biographies which could very well translate into a drastically different experience altogether — there’s absolutely no reason for us to even make that comparison. All said and done, each of us is doing our best to work with the cards we’ve been dealt.

BUT. In the midst of the pain and suffering, I think it’s possible to find ways to work with or around things we truly enjoy. I can’t dance like before, nor can I move with as much energy, but I do know for a fact that when I’m on my roller chair and if symptoms are manageable for the day, I might be able to move a little and FEEL that same feeling I experienced when I danced in the past. I do have to be careful though but I’ve reached a conclusion that you can’t take dance out of me.

It makes me feel alive and so I do it very often :) I hope you enjoy my crazy and find something that makes you feel a tad bit crazy too.

Lots of love,

Manasi

#onceadanceralwaysadancer #bollywood #dance #passion #love #joy #wholehearted #chronicillness #pain #fatigue #suffering #smile #invisibleillness #ehlersdanlossyndrome

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#marathimuli

After more than two weeks of thinking through whether I wanted to or if I was even in the mood to host a mini Ganesh Chaturthi dinner, I finally figured I had to do it this time. I got a couple of messages from friends who were looking forward to it and I knew it wasn’t going to be like last year. This time round,  everything was going to be different.

Because it is different.

Things change, times change.

What remained the same as last year was the feeling of love and joy, dressing up & being around a few people and knowing that no matter where life is heading, you’d always have some memories to look back upon and smile. To feel grateful for.

Ultimately, that’s really all I care about when it comes to festivals. If you’re like me, spiritual enough to respect that people get to have their own set of religious beliefs and, you’d agree that if any festival is celebrated with the people who love you and people you love, people who have been there for you and people you’ve been there for, and if you’re present in that moment, do a small ritual and feel immense gratitude, it is more than enough. You get to choose how you want to live your experience.

Amongst all the amazing photos captured that day, these three will always remind me that despite everything,

you have a choice.

To pick a family,

To dream freely,

To hope without fear,

To laugh without guilt,

To cry with your heart,

To love with your mind,

To sing your very own song,

To live with what you have and make the best out of it.

P.S. if you’re wondering what’s happening up there… you know, we were just trying to dance on “raat ke dhaaii baje” and “pinga” for very obvious reasons. Also, did you notice my freakishly bendy fingers?

Seek

Throwback to when I could still swim and position my arms a little more comfortably than right now. And now even though I end up walking in the pool or swimming with every move calculated and rehearsed thrice in my mind, I still find some peace being in the water. There’s something absolutely healing about water and I can’t find words to describe it. Leaving behind swimming 15-20 laps a day was hard because swimming was my escape or meditation (and it kept me physically fit enough) I thought, until I couldn’t escape anymore. Until I couldn’t run away from home, from a space I could barely breathe or be alone in, to really listen to my heart beat and know I was still alive. Until  my body forced me to stay in bed and find a way to deal with reality, with love and compassion for myself first.

Again, it doesn’t hurt so much anymore so I can actually share these things with you. In fact, this is so freeing, realising that I’ve learnt to let go of things I tried holding on to for a very long time, almost hoping they’d come back and fit together into this picture-perfect life; things that I thought made me who I was. Perhaps the way it happened wasn’t the best but I’m grateful to have realised very early in my life what truly matters. What I was never wrong about was that I was constantly seeking peace and a reason to be happy and activities like dance and swimming kind of gave me a taste of both.

Today, I am thankful my experiences have taught me that true source of peace and happiness, the kind of peace and happiness that makes you really glow, is within us. I can be in bed and in pain and still be at peace, still be somewhat happy knowing what I  now know for sure. Getting here took equal parts faith (in my body and something bigger) and conscious actions (because even when you think you don’t have control, you still have a choice to remain stuck or take the next best step), and maybe a dash of sparkles. ✨

Alive

🤷🏼‍♀️💃🏼🤦🏼‍♀️

🌸Do what makes your soul smile. If that’s dance and you can’t dance, find a way to feel like you’re dancing. Feeling is everything. Find ways to keep your spirit alive while you have to deal with and work around a not-so-healthy body. It’s hard enough on a daily basis and you’re allowed to find ways to make it a tad bit lighter on yourself, okay? You don’t need anyone’s permission for that. You are doing your best with the cards you’ve been dealt.

I can’t dance/perform like before, I can’t just stand up and let loose and dance freely but I can imagine doing it in my mind. I can imagine dancing, performing and choreographing like before and I can FEEL it as if it’s true. It makes me smile from within. That said, I know my body has its limitations and I know what’s right for my health. I don’t have it in me to be stupid and push my body in ways I tried to back in the past. You see, I might have had to leave dance behind but my love for dance will always stay with me and you know what?…that’s enough for me.

This isn’t some law of attraction discussion and I’m not going to say “imagine and you’ll have it” because if you don’t get it, you’d think you didn’t want it enough or you haven’t tried hard enough. If that were really the case, if only imagining solved all my problems, I’d be doing different things at this point because trust me, I’m bloody good with my imagination. All I’m saying is, be true to who you are and things that keep your fire going. Be a little #crazy in your own special ways. Keep those things alive; things that keep your enthusiasm for life going. Keep working on finding ways, finding solutions. Be open to possibilities while being aware of your #reality. I’m not going to tell you to have high expectations out of yourself when you have REAL LIFE limitations and when you’ve worked so hard to leave your old life behind.

Acknowledge your present with your heart and mind. Please do not work on going back to the life in your past which doesn’t serve you anymore today. Please don’t force yourself to walk backwards and create more suffering. Past is gone for a reason. Walk forward with what you have and what you can do. Be very practical + imaginative where necessary 🌸 #chandralekha #bollywood

New Planner Love

You know it’s New Year’s soon when you get your next planner! I am so excited to start using it! Just look at how gorgeous this flowery-pink planner is. Absolutely love love love everything about it.

It’s my third kikki.k planner in a row (2015,2016,2017) and I’m still not bored of it. Unlike other times where buying a new planner is more of a self-ritual for me, this planner came as a gift from my best-friend.

I think I’m ready for 2017.

P.S. I know my thumb looks rather creepy in the second pic. Let’s just focus on the sheer beauty of these planners instead, shall we? :)

GBM My Style

It’s Ganesh Chaturthi today, the birth day of Lord Ganesh and basically …

I don’t know enough about it (but Google does!).

(Oops.)

However.

What I do know FOR SURE is this –

🔸This day always fills me up with excitement each time

🔸It’s an occasion that used to bring my entire family together and I’ve got some incredible memories of this festival

🔸I am aware of the basic rituals – a little prayer that you do, certain dishes you prepare (I’m not sure why you make each), general overview of the days you celebrate (5,7 or 11 days I think) it.

🔸It is a great opportunity to dress up

🔸I miss my brother

P.S. Whatever you’re reading right now is being typed as I get ready

I wouldn’t call myself particularly religious; definitely not like my parents or family. I think I am “religious” about things that work for me and I believe in them. I’ve always been given the freedom to have my own belief system and hence I am fine with everyone else choosing what works for them – whatever helps one feel happy and peaceful from deep within + helps him/her get through the hardships of life. You might have guessed  by now that religion is really not one of my favourite topics.

Having said all of the above, here’s how I’m doing it –

I’ve set up my altar, with a beautiful statue of Lord Ganesha resting on coral beads. I haven’t specifically decorated my altar because my alter is rather personal and symbolic in itself. Every little thing on it is there for a reason. All I did was just cleaned it up, added some fresh flowers, lit some candles and rose incense sticks – that’s it.

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Beautiful coral beads

I’ve invited a couple of really close friends over to my house. We’ll sing along one or two devotional songs (okay okay, I do know the lyrics of some. It happens when your family has been singing it for years you know?) and have a mini dinner, which we’ll probably call for. My dinner is going to look rather different from their’s as I’ve got a SIBO test on the very next day. More on that next time.

Oh, here’s an important bit. We’ve decided to dress up too because HEY!! We don’t get a chance otherwise! Who gets a chance to wear a nath these days anyway?! Nath, by the way, is a Maharashtrian style nose ring and I’ve been dyingggg to wear mine (I don’t get a chance to wear it these days anymore since I don’t perform much). I can’t wait for my friends to show up now!

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It took me approximately 2 hours including 4 ice-pack breaks to look like I do here

As prashad, we’re having (my friends) some dark chocolate (instead of these sweet rice dumpling kind of a thing called ‘modak’) and I believe Ganesh ji is going to like my modern twist to his birthday celebration.

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How about a ‘modak’ shaped oversized Hershey’s Kisses?

I also plan to FaceTime my family and my close friends later in the evening. Everyone’s all over the world this time so I’m freaking thankful for FaceTime. I’m beyond grateful for a small set of close friends I have today – they’ve done so much for me up till date. Sometimes they willingly become my extra pair of hands, helping me with things I simply have no physical ability to do. Other times, they patiently sit next to me (they get me dark chocolate quite often) while I just lay down in pain. I can’t thank the Universe enough for a bunch of loving people around me.

Let’s see… I think that’s it. That’s really it. That’s my version of a mini Ganesh Chaturthi celebration in my sweet little apartment. We’ve got Ganesh ji + positive vibes +  food + friends + a grateful heart + good clothes + technology to keep in touch with the rest of the world – what else can anyone ask for?

This photo was added later

By the way, in case you’re wondering,GBM stands for ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’, which supposedly means ‘Lord Ganesh Bless’. For me, it’s something you happily and enthusiastically yell out a number of times through the course of this festival.

Happy Lord Ganesha’s Birthday everyone! *Yell GBM now*

Ending my last Pilates session of #2015 with my instructor of two.five years, @oneknee😎

 I was more regular with my sessions than I have ever been and that makes me feel really good. Even a tiny bit of improvement in the muscle tone makes me feel happy because I like to believe that my body is responding to how I look after it. Perhaps the #progress isn’t as much as I was wishing it would be but again, if how I looked was the gauge to the progress (and the kind of progress) I’ve made, it’s not going to be accurate at all.

With patience, understanding and support from just a few people, and with my personal effort, commitment and love towards my body, I’ve made progress on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This year, I’ve got another joint (that’s a grand total 9 joints affected) to worry about but I’m less fearful and more trusting of my body and its experience. I’m more accepting towards my constantly changing body because I realize that it is a physical manifestation of the experience I’ve had or am having. I see how just dealing with an illness is not enough – one needs to work on healing and growing with the illness too.

#2015 has opened me to so many #possibilities – ones which I was either afraid to consider or didn’t even know existed. Today, I understand that even if my life looks nothing like before, it looks fine. It doesn’t look bad. I had a chance to question what I really want out of life and though my goals and #dreams are still just evolving (re-evolving), I feel certain about the years to come. 2015 has given me the #opportunity to come to terms with my past, remember the lessons and grow from that place. We are nothing without our #story and there’s no reason to hide it. I can now look back, acknowledge what was and that this illness is a crucial part of my growth,and, continue writing a new ending.

Thank you to all those who’ve stood by me and have been a part of my #journe, and most importantly, thank you for giving me space to just simply have my experience. One Day At A Time.
Happy New Year’s Eve!✨