Paying Homage to A Soul Sister: Keshni Pillay

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2017 by tivaniam

Ambush is the word I use to describe my relationship with food – because struggle suggests resistance – and let’s face it, food never puts up much of a fight. It just sits there looking delicious and lets me eat it all. For me, my struggle with carbs and sugar is to create an induced coma, which in turn prevents me from feeling much. Mission accomplished. I overeat because it works. Not in the long run of course. Which is where I find myself now – a place of enlightenment and ready to face my demons.

I’ve said it before, that truth is a boomerang. As women, our stories are different threads of one tapestry, generation after generation. For me personally, there is a deep and profound connectedness when I “feel” someone else’s words. My friend, Keshni Pillay, highlighted exactly how I feel every single time I ambush food. And how, through her own journey, there is hope for the rest of us. This is her story.

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I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in October 2009 – an autoimmune disorder where my immune system attacks my thyroid and results in my thyroid not making enough hormones for my body’s needs.  Coupled with severe anaemia, I had no energy to work out and comfort ate my way through a depression caused by my relocation from KZN to JHB, with no family support.  Regular gym had zero impact until I was diagnosed and put on medication. Eltroxin is no miracle worker and while it may slow down weight gain caused by Hashimoto’s, I did not miraculously lose any weight as a result of being on it. I tried working out five times a week, training with a personal trainer and even completely cut out carbs from my diet… but it didn’t last very long. While I did lose a few kgs, I gained it all over again and was still at least 20kgs overweight. My self-confidence was at an all-time low and I was constantly moody, tired and upset with myself for being overweight. A heartbreak in 2010 left me even more depressed and comfort eating.

Fast forward to 2012 – I had met my soul mate the previous year and suddenly life didn’t seem so bleak. But, at age 26 I was bordering on a size 16. Fast food became my best friend. Pizza, Chuckles and Pringles washed down with Tropika became a regular treat – and that was all in one night! In March 2012, I was introduced to SureSlim by a friend and I embarked on the most difficult yet rewarding weight loss journey. By November 2012, I had lost 20kgs and a total of 53cms and found myself wearing colour again (I used to only wear black so I didn’t draw more attention to myself).

Although I had lost all that weight, which I have maintained, give or take 1kg, I realised that I was still rather unfit. In 2013, I tried my hand at pole fitness for the first time, which I fell in love with, but stopped after a year due to a host of issues such as work pressure and load-shedding traffic. I missed it every single day for a whole year but just didn’t make any effort to start again. In 2016 I joined the SA Polefit Academy and I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in! I haven’t lost any more weight but I am stronger and more toned after every single class. I have stopped obsessing about that scale and instead focus on how many burpees, squats and push ups I can do. I can even dance a 3 minute routine without passing out!

I’d be lying if I said losing weight was an easy journey. There were many days when I could think of nothing else but carrot cake and a latte for dinner. Yes, I succumbed to my cravings many times along the way, but I picked myself up again the next day and got back on track.

I would not swop the self-confidence and freedom I’ve gained for all the carrot cake and lattes in the world!  While maintenance isn’t easy, I vow never to be that miserable woman again. I owe it to myself and my loved ones to be the best I can be.

Some of my recent hang-ups have been focusing on the lumps, bumps and stretchmarks instead of celebrating the fact that I earned those stretchmarks when I lost 20kgs. I have obsessed over the size of my arms to the point where I would not leave the house in anything sleeveless. I have focused on the 1 or 2 more kgs I’d like to lose rather than appreciate how far I’ve come in my fitness journey. However, over the past year, I have made a concerted effort to celebrate my body for all the wonderful things that it can do instead of focussing on how much it weighs. Pole fitness has helped me to overcome those hang-ups. I am a work in progress and that’s perfectly fine, and, I have biceps now!

Last year I came across a quote that absolutely resonated with me, “other women’s bodies are not our battlegrounds.” As women, we constantly compare ourselves to and measure ourselves against other women and their beauty. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with admiring another woman’s beauty however, being kind to yourself means that you don’t question your own beauty in that process. Being kind to yourself also means accepting compliments as graciously as you dish them out. Why is it so hard to just say “thank you” rather than side step a compliment?

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by positive influences. My supportive family, pushing me to new heights… the fun, fearless females at my pole-fitness classes who celebrate every new pole victory and my muscle “gains” with me… but most of all my fiancé who tirelessly strives to make me see my body the way he sees me. All these people have positively influenced the way I see myself.

You can lose all the weight in the world but if you don’t love yourself, you’re going to be weighed down forever.

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Relatable? Definitely. I know that I often vacillate between staying on the cold floor (eating my way through stuff) or getting up, and showing up for my life. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together and can’t be separated. It’s about embracing both and living well, hard and real by being healthy, kind and loving to ourselves first.

Thank you Kesh for sharing your story xoxo

 

 

 

 

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Let Go and Let Come

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2017 by tivaniam

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu

Letting go is a simple concept. Like dropping a pen. It is, however, by no means simplistic. It is not passive. It is far from lazy or giving up. It isn’t merely saying “whatever” to the world. Letting go is wisdom and enables the flow of love and energy to move across freely.

I am the kind of woman who thrives on extremes. I love control. Letting go, goes against the grain of my neurotic patterns. For me particularly, during times of loneliness I want to move left or right. Over the last few years I have learnt the art of sitting in the middle and feeling what I feel.  It has been an incredibly difficult process of grasping and clinging and only after a while, easing my body into peace.

Most recently, I’ve had to address the aspect of letting go in relationships. Very big process for me. I had a major lightbulb moment when chatting to my friend the other day who mentioned that I am literally too intense and have no idea how to be light. I mother and smother and suffocate. Big, big moment of profound truth. When these things happen, learning is immediate – if you are open to being honest and actually paying attention. The common denominator with my failed relationships has consistently been my role as a “mother”, and my desire to have the love evolve in the way I want it to.

So my recent reflections had to be about the detachment that is necessary where love is concerned.

Detachment here is not about letting go of the relationship, person or love itself but rather the expectations and preconceived ideas that I carry into each relationship. I pride myself on being an awakened woman but relationships always challenge my shadow side, pointing out the work I need to do.  I’ve had a relationship blueprint that I thought I should follow: meet, date, kiss, talk, love, kids and families meet, move in together, ring, happily ever after. This became a plan for me that is actually totally limiting. I have such an issue with loose ends and undefined and indescribable situations. I have this compulsion to know exactly the type of situation I am in so that I can apply the aforementioned plans.

How limiting is that???

Am I not able to love someone and let the relationship speak for itself?

Fortunately, with insight, expectations can change and therefore the resultant experiences.

Today brought a new context. A big, scary one that if I didn’t document here, would fade into my thoughts. My writing cements my commitment to myself and forces me to level up. I cannot profess to be authentic if I write it but don’t live it or vice versa – that is my role as a conscious writer.

Going into a new relationship without any idealised thoughts of what it could be or how it SHOULD be allows for the union to develop organically rather than forcing it inside a box of my own definition of love. I want to love the man I am with because of the person he is without the expectation of him loving me back. To let go and let come means being able to enjoy the moments because there are no guarantees in life. This kind of love is not easy. It forced me personally to sit and call my demons by name – those frightful companions called “I am not worthy” and “I am alone” that rode shotgun with me everywhere I went. I had to learn that these feelings are mine to own. I cannot become anxious or fearful and look to a partner to heal me.

Letting go means respecting my partner’s journey. It means that the relationship cannot be forced. Love must be approached as an offering, acknowledging the sacredness of the feelings we have for each other, regardless of action, choices or results. Letting go creates the space for beautiful new journeys.

I am learning.

Become A Life Adventurer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2017 by tivaniam

We are all raised with traditional dogmas that some of us – if we are really lucky – get to unpack as we get older. Growing up, I was supposed to honour the traditions that Indian women are raised with – selflessness, timidity and an unquestioning belief in the methodologies used by my ancestors. The questioning of these methodologies and ingrained beliefs were never obvious, it was more a desire to be more and do more. As a result, I defied convention in often cataclysmic ways. What appeared to be royal fuck-ups to others, became the unfolding of my soul. The beginning of this adventure was always quietly forming, appearing as restlessness and rebellion, all the while waiting until it was ready to emerge. As the emptiness grew, the desire also quietly unfurled.

So many of us play with the seduction of safety. We hear the waves of turmoil rise and relent until we hit rock bottom and our courage gets rekindled. As a result of living through this courage, I have learnt to trust the promise of beginnings that are aligned to my life’s desires. My spirit of adventure has been awakened and I have found a new ease in risk. My soul literally senses the world that awaits me.

I personally never pursued spirituality for spirituality’s sake, but being a life adventurer has culminated into a selfish service, where my quest for defying convention has allowed me to live my dream of being a writer and growing my own spirituality in a way that makes sense to me. We didn’t come here to live someone else’s life. Being a life adventurer is about living deliberately and creating consciously. As a writer, I get to plant seeds into people’s souls that would eventually give them new thoughts and hopefully the choice to live a new life.

This new year don’t make resolutions that are not sustainable. Instead show up every single day out of your comfort zone and run with those divinely inspired invitations to be even more awesome than you presently are. Life is an adventure. Dream big. Where you are is never who you are.

 

Being Brave

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2016 by tivaniam

The most repeated phrase in my holy text is, “don’t be afraid”. Even now, even after all the big moves I have made. Fear it seems, is the predominant reason for any of us to remain stuck. We all have fear. Fear is necessary in some instances and serve to protect us. In other instances though, we cannot allow fear to govern our decision making or let it prevent us from making breakthroughs in our lives.

We spend too much of time wishing and hoping. Wishing things could change or hoping for a miracle. Fear prevents us from listening to our internal whisperings and longings to be brave and do something different. Those whisperings end up becoming a roar if ignored, and most often that roar happens when you’re lying in a heap on your bathroom floor. Why do we need to wait for rock bottom in order to make that move? Surely the drama is not needed? I speak from personal experience here. Meltdowns happened because I ignored the inner voice and then landed on my bathroom floor bartering with God to make the pain go away.

For twenty years I heard a voice telling me, “You’re meant to be a writer”. I ignored the whisperings until it became a white noise that I got so used to hearing, I lived by its rhythm. Five years ago, that voice was screaming at me to be different, to make a change. I was so unhappy doing what was the “right” thing. It was also terribly inconvenient as I was a single mum with two kids and being a writer was scary. One morning, I woke up and resigned from my corporate career that made me miserable. I studied journalism and got to writing. I was not impressive. I garnered no attention. I got lots of rejection emails from magazines and editors who were not interested in my work. I was a novice writer and made no money from writing. But my soul was screaming. It was doing a dance of joy every single time I put pen to paper. And so I pushed through. And then my blog got noticed and one editor decided to publish me in her digital magazine. Then another. Then another in print. Then another newspaper. Now, five years after those rejections, I am published on many platforms, have a day job as a writer and am now busy with the manuscript for my first book.

Being in a state of flow has allowed me to sit with my fear but not be reduced by it. I have walked away from marriages, relationships, jobs and people that no longer serve me – some of them amidst harsh criticism and judgment. As women we HAVE to be brave. We have to train ourselves to listen to our inner voice and trust it. I know the amount of energy that is required to be true to myself and what that actually means. Therefore I know how hard it can be. I know the struggle of the unknown. But I REFUSE to allow women to shrink themselves. It is not okay to remain in bad marriages or relationships or careers thinking that you will not survive with the alternative. You WILL survive being alone. You WILL survive as a single mother. You WILL survive with less money, doing something that makes you come alive. You need to trust yourself and believe in your inherent strength and divinity and light – something that is in ALL of us. Not some of us.

The thing about rock bottom is, you are forced to get real. And the truth hurts. Badly. But that is how life lessons go. We always know exactly what to do. Always. Our heart and heads are often not aligned, but our feelings reveal the truth. That is the indicator of what is right and wrong in your life and where changes need to be made. We get too comfortable in the realm of “not knowing what to do”, but we always know. Always!

Sometimes that knowing, means you have to risk everything and yes, some people will hate it. Some people will never understand or forgive you. Some people may walk away from you. You may walk away from the situation, whatever it may be, with a battered heart. But remember this, if you are afraid to be true, the alternative is to stay stuck in the same bullshit death swamp that you’ve been stuck in FOR YEARS.

And that is not living. That is existing. It’s time to be brave. The time is now.

Painting The Canvas Of My Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 7, 2016 by tivaniam

A few months ago I had a rant about the distorted perception of beauty ideals that society feeds us. I thought I was over it but a couple of days ago I was filtering through Instagram and came across hundreds of photos of different women who all look exactly the same – flawless, thin, immaculately contoured faces (and necks!), fashionable clothes and requisite duck-faced-pouting on cue. I am not an envious woman by any means but I found myself marveling at the beauty of these women whilst simultaneously questioning my own.

I am 35 years old and have two kids. I have had enough life experiences to call social media out on bullshit. For heaven sake, I am an advocate for authentic living! I pride myself on my quest for continuous personal development! I know I am awake enough to understand that my body is not my masterpiece – my life is… yet here I was, equipped with all that awareness and I sat obsessively googling “how to lose fat in three days”. Not my finest moment. For a few solid hours, I thought of my body and face as a project that I need to revise. Whatever Instagram tried to sell me, I bought. It took all my fucking money.

For a while. And then I stopped because I was exhausted. It’s exhausting trying to portray my body and face as art. My body and face is a paintbrush that gets to TRANSFER the INSIDES onto the canvas of my life where others are inspired by it. My body can never be my offering. I cannot be cursing my paintbrush every day because if I didn’t have it, I’d have nothing with which to paint my life’s work. And, my life’s work is the love I give and receive through the stories I tell. We are encouraged and willed to obsess over our shapes and sizes and this has no effect on our ability to accept and offer love or kindness or peace or comfort. None. I am sick of it. The longer I sit wringing my hands in agony about the shape of my paintbrush, is less time to get to work painting my life.

I have realised that the truth about it all boils down to one thing. Every single paintbrush shape, colour and size works perfectly – just perfectly. Anyone who wants to tell me the opposite is trying to sell me something. I am not fucking buying. I am painting.

 

Finding Courage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by tivaniam

I’ve fought my whole life against people who raise their voices and noses; and talk more than listen. The judgmental types who have little introspection and who live in glass houses. It used to irritate me no end and made life unbearable and stifled me from living.

Two years ago, I got the greatest gift of awareness and inherited a tribe of people who want to change the world through Love and Kindness.  I was taught to shift my mind-set from worrying about what people think, to living authentically and courageously. These days, parts of my life do look shiny but underneath it all I am still confused and scared and make mistakes (some repeatedly). Through it all, I choose to show up big anyway.

I have chosen to live and operate differently. Trying to touch strangers by regaling them with stories from my own heart and script. Telling the truth about my fear and the ways in which I fuck up. I invite people in and try to pass on courage, through the gifts I have been given – that of love and storytelling. I give these away as though it’s good enough to heal the world.

Courage flows in all of us like the ocean waves touching the sand. It never stops and never ends.  We consume ourselves with the burden of taking too much of credit for our brilliance or dying in shame for our failings. Life is bigger than that.

The amount of courage that it takes to leave a relationship or marriage that doesn’t serve you; to leave a career that brings no gratification; to take the leap onto the next step of whatever it is you’re afraid to do. As simplistic as driving a car [took me 12 years to learn] or immersing myself fully in love despite several failed relationships [still learning]. But I am all in. No half measures. There are people who skate gracefully on the surface of life, while I live at heights and depths that people can’t see and doesn’t know how to reach. I do not skate. I crash and fly.

Daring to live boldly means breaking free from convention and learning to find ease in risk. It’s time to awaken your spirit to adventure and allow your soul to sense the world that awaits you. Be courageous. Tomorrow is not promised.

 

 

An Open Letter To My Daughter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2016 by tivaniam

This was originally meant to be a private conversation between my daughter and I, but, in line with what I was saying on Facebook yesterday, the truth is like a boomerang. And this is a concept you would hear repeatedly from me. I decided that there is nothing shameful about being human. There is no way to be a perfect parent but there are a million ways to be a good one. One of those ways, for me, is to free my truth and allow my children to truly know their mum. I believe that we all share similar longings, feelings, traumas, flaws and fears. And if we remain silent about these things, we would never learn how to be better. Or to accept ourselves. I turn my insides out when I write. And with that, I try to help the world become a bit free-er. That for me, is the part I play in this world. I refuse to profess to live out loud if I only do it when things are going well. Who learns anything then?

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Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet. To go over everything…

Just kidding.

So this note comes from me with much love for you. Not just as my daughter, but as a young woman forging her way in this world. I wanted to say that I know I have been a mediocre mother. I know that there are times when you don’t understand me, my choices or my decisions. I also know that you are not at any level TO understand it, but I am hoping this letter gives you some insight into some things – the rest will come as you grow and evolve.

As women, our lives are generally and typically governed for us. We need to be a certain way. I have never been that way. And how lucky are you to be born to an unconventional mother who will teach you a different way of being??? Right???? [I see you roll your eyes kid].

You see, I knew I was different from a young age, and I knew that I was destined for more. I knew that I couldn’t live the life that society wanted me to live and I knew I had to pave my own way. When you and your brother came along, I KNEW it wasn’t only me to think about, but my strong desire to be more, sometimes overshadowed my role as a mother.

For me, being a mother boils down to one thing only – loving you unconditionally and being present in your lives daily. Which is what I believe I am, regardless of distance, circumstances, domesticity, cooking or cleaning or making lunch or doing homework and the rest of it. Love is love.

I know that there are moments you felt shameful for choices I made. And sad at having to explain those choices to others. I am sorry for that. But you will never understand those choices now at your age. But I hope with every conversation or every post you read of mine, you learn to understand ME.

Every “bad” decision was a catalyst for me to grow. It HAD to happen. Every heartache, every failed relationship or divorce, every move we had to make or even now, our separation from each other,  has become a fire in me that burns even stronger. I KNOW that God intended to use me and my story to share His love and hope with people who mistakenly believe themselves unlovable and hopeless. Maybe God loved me back to life for a serious purpose. On the outside it looks like nothing has changed. I have still not achieved the “success” that other people consider important. But [pay attention now because this is vital info here] – crises in life shakes out excesses and leave only what’s important. Crises shake things up in such a way that we are forced to decide and hold onto what matters most. And THINGS don’t matter. Not the money, cars, houses, clothes, stuff. People matter. And who you ARE matters. I am getting to become who I have always wanted to be.

As women, we are creative enough to handle anything and everything that comes our way. That’s what women do. We create. And then we re-create. Then often we have to re-re-create what we thought we were done creating. Makes sense? Probably not. But again, remember the words because it will make sense one day. So while NOTHING has changed. EVERYTHING has changed.

So while it feels weird now, I know that my story is a redemption story and I know that you and your brother will get to know that you have a mother who may not be a mother in conventional terms, but she is a mother who loves her children and who will teach them the art of being true.

Love you my girl. Be a good human.

xoxo

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