Twenty years

I am filled with so much love and gratitude for this place, it’s hard to even express. And despite the fact that the positive emotions I feel for this place almost equal the negative memories I am still working on letting go, my heart aches knowing that I am leaving a place I called home for the last twenty years.

I made mistakes here.

I experienced pain and suffering here. I was young and naive.

I made friends here. Real friends I’m so grateful to have come across.

I fell in love here.

I spent sleepless nights here. Crying, laughing, secretly believing in fairytales.

I made promises here.

I saw dreams here.

I set goals and achieved them here.

I was betrayed here. By near and dear ones, and by strangers.

I learned to protect myself here.

I was diagnosed here.

I fell apart here. Completely shattered into tiny pieces, I couldn’t myself anymore anymore.

I put back myself back together here.

I faced my very own demons, alone, right here.

I learned to trust again here. Myself and people.

I found my medical team here. My support system, without whom I couldn’t have come this far.

I dared to recreate dreams here.

I learned the art of letting go, here.

I finally found my true voice here.

I learned to speak my truth here and encouraged others to do the same.

I learned to be of support and service to the world, right here too.

I came across my tribe, people like me, right here.

I felt safe here.

This is where I wilted and learned to bloom again. This is where I learned to own my story, fully and wholly.

While I can’t lie that recreating a similar lifestyle and routine else where is going to take time and more patience than ever before, I do genuinely believe that it’s not entirely impossible. Somewhere I trust that the process of wilting and blooming over and over again has equipped me with the ability to deal with uncertainties of all kinds and be okay with not knowing.

You know that feeling when you look back and think perhaps everything happened to prepare you for something that is yet to happen? That’s kind of how I feel right now. As if I have levelled up in this game called life and now need to put my skills and tools to use in order to handle the next level; the next phase. There’s a lot I still don’t know but perhaps I am able to find peace in knowing that I have made it through incredibly painful times before and probably can do so in the future too.

Singapore, thank you for all the blessings and lessons.

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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. ✨

#throwback to December 2012

This is me just four years back (4/9 joints down) – a point in my life I would never want to go back to, even if someone paid me a million dollars for it.

I had received a diagnosis just two months before this photo was taken. My parents’ divorce was at its peak and there was so much uncalled for responsibility around it. My career and life plans were falling apart. My boyfriend of 5 years and I were going through a very painful break-up. I was popping 8 painkillers a day + 6 muscle relaxants + non-addictive sleeping pill and yet finding no relief. I had migraines which drove me mad and there was this annoying, buzzing noise at the back of my brain which just never stopped.

I couldn’t close my eyes or be alone in a room because I feared my body might fail me in some way. I rarely slept and if I did, I got nightmares and I’d wake up drenched in sweat. At times I was afraid I’d never wake up. I had palpitations and sudden fall in blood-pressure a number of times in a day. I would lose balance as I walked. I couldn’t wash my own hair or even dress myself. The creative inside me was no where to be found. My body needed energy and I couldn’t eat. I was hospitalized a few times because I started reacting to some medicines.

I only got weaker.

I was trying to hold onto my life, every bit of it, and the harder I tried, the more defeated I felt. My body was screaming at me and I didn’t listen. People around me wanted things out of me that I simply couldn’t give. I needed myself more than anyone else and I kept putting everyone else before me.

There was nothing familiar left about me or my surrounding. I didn’t trust my body and I didn’t trust anyone else either. The fighter in me could no longer fight. I thought I knew what strength was all about but I clearly didn’t.

I needed to let go.

And after what seemed like eons,

I finally started learning to let go,

to accept what can’t be changed,

and to work with my body.

There is more to learn + create,

but right here today,

It’s all okay.

Paddle Boat 

Let me tell you a short story about yesterday.

So I left home with a friend, expecting to go to a flea market and be back home within two hours. The flea market turned out rather pathetic so we landed up in this adorable cafe and had traditional Chinese milk tea + an almond cake. Then, since I was extremely excited about finally being out (not a medical appointment for once) after my flight back from India took a toll on me, I thought I could handle a couple more hours of staying out. We decided to go this beautiful place and sit by the water and think about life.

What happened next was totally unexpected and impulsive – instead of just sitting by the water, we went on a paddle boat for an hour. At this point, I must tell you that I love water (I think it has some healing effect on me) and I’ve always enjoyed water sports as a child. Just about seven years ago, I was close to getting a kayaking license and was looking forward to kayaking to some nearby island.

Okay, back to the present – some memories came flooding in and I was surprised that none of them made me sad or upset. Past is gone for a reason and my reason here (health) is of immense value, something most chronically ill people understand. I realized that paddle boating was probably the closest I was goinh to get to any form of water sports now so why not just give it a shot?

 The seats didn’t exactly look comfortable and were clearly at an angle that’s bad for my back. The paddles too, were located at an angle not quite right for my knees but even then… I wanted to give it a shot. I trusted my friend to take over when I needed a break so we hopped onto the paddle boat and went paddling away.

Well, we had a blast. We literally blasted Bollywood songs and laughed our heads off. Unfortunately, the winds were pretty strong and the waves were kind of harsh so we needed to be towed back after our time was up. I was kind of tired anyway so I’m glad we got a quick ride back.

So today, I woke up with noticeably high pain levels and extreme tightness in my lower back. It’s a challenge to walk around the house and I had to cancel Pilates just to stay in and rest my inflamed lower body. My calves, hamstrings and glutes really did a lot of work last evening. You might think that’s good, but trust me, this isn’t your after-workout-feel-good-and-sexy kind of pain I’m talking about.

Anyway, to conclude my little story. I’m super happy that I attempted something new. Something from my past but not quite. Something more present. And, I realized that it’s something that didn’t quite work for me – which is fine because I’ve got more information about my limitations. So do I regret getting on it? Yes and no. Yes, because dude pain is never fun. And no, because a part of me would’ve continuously longed for that experience and the sheer possibility of it perhaps not hurting me would’ve bothered the shit out of me.

Now I know better and next time, I’m taking one more person along with me so I can rest and the other two can paddle. Royal treatment? Sure, that’s better than being royally screwed (by pain) later.

Love,

Manasi

Breakfast Popsicles

Experimented with breakfast Popsicles today! Whole point behind trying this was that I don’t feel like having breakfast these days – my stomach doesn’t want food, I have to eat in order to take my tablets, and of course I want coffee or chai in the morning! Also, it’s a good change from your typical breakfast, no?


So, how about a cool breakfast Popsicles on a hot summer morning? Sounds perfect to me! Think about it, if you can have overnight oats, why can’t you have your coffee and breakfast in the form of a Popsicle? :) 

(It’s all good… Except, I ended up using dairy instead of a nut milk. Let’s see how my stomach takes that!)

List of things you’d need: 

  1. Rolled oats (GF free)
  2. Peanut butter (Natural please)
  3. Organic dark cocoa
  4. Good quality coffee or instant coffee (whatever!)
  5. Honey or Coconut sugar (low GI) – I usually don’t need my food too sweet so I just use sugar sparingly. You can always adjust.
  6. Chia seeds
  7. Milk or Nut milk

First layer – Peanut butter and oats + milk. Keep it chunky

Second layer – Organic dark chocolate + coffee + honey

Third layer – Chia seeds + milk. Let it sit for a while till it plumps up before using. This layer will sink right to the bottom.

Add layers into a Popsicle mold and freeze for approximately 4-6 hours. Enjoy :)