Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yoga La Vida Lanka Part 2

The second set of quotable quotes from Poser, to-date my favorite Yoga Memoir by Claire Dederer resonate with the transition I’m going through since I moved to Sri Lanka and the second wave of transitioning to becoming a mother.

“I have discovered something: there was a pleasure in becoming something new.  You could will yourself into a fresh shape.”

Coming to Sri Lanka I have definitely willed myself into a totally new shape: that of a housewife.  Although I have dreamed of becoming an expat’s wife and have actually looked forward to a housewifely existence, I didn’t know that it would be that difficult.  Who was I kidding?  I was fresh from a corporate existence for most of my adult life who was brought to this new “career” by circumstance.  However, in as much as at that time it was painful, looking back, I actually reshaped my whole being.  I must say as paradoxical as it may seem, I have actually expanded my sense of self.  And now, becoming a mother, I am more excited to be “willed” to a fresh shape – literally.  Although at 14 weeks I may not look pregnant at all, I am so looking forward to the baby bump!

“…poses were not about perfection but process.  The yoga… is in the trying.”

Probably one of the biggest lessons that I had to learn and re-learn and re-learn.  Coming here, I wanted to take my life where I left off: from one job to another in another country.  However it was not meant to be.  So during that time I was anxiety-ridden: “I want to have a job!” Or “Yikes, 2 years without working, what am I going to do with myself?”  The wait was only 3 months (which was actually the “timeline” I’ve set for myself), I had to be in that space for 3 months.  There was no other way around it.  As much of the painful things in life.   

“Submission, trust, transmission from teacher to student, imperfection, the release of the ego – these were the things that would save me from myself, even if they were as unfamiliar as Krishna with his blue face.  You can’t go deeper and know what you’re doing the whole time.”

Again, one of the lessons I need to learn and re-learn constantly.  Submission, trust, transmission from the universe as my teacher.  Uncertainty is my enemy but somehow as I grew older, I am slowly learning the lesson that it has to be my friend.  This line is just perfect: “You can’t go deeper and know what you’re doing the whole time.”  Growth does not thrive on certainty.  And if you recall, in your life, it was always during these moments when you had to just trust, to submit, to take a leap (to quote Fr. Ferriols: “Lundagin mo beybeh.”) were the times when you experienced absolute growth.  And if I may quote another: “There is a certain amount of purposelessness that is necessary to lead a full life (Dr. Wyatt, Bones).”

“For concentration is better than mere practice, and meditation is better than concentration, but higher than meditation is surrender in love of the fruit of one’s actions, for on surrender follows peace.”
(from the Bhagavad Gita)

And at the end of the day, once you’ve surrendered, even if you haven’t even gotten what you wished for, there is a certain sense of creation already, of receiving, of peace.

“Here I was, a different person, a person who could do a headstand.  It seemed a significant change to me.  Not as big a change as getting married or having a baby, but maybe as big as seeing my byline in print for the first time.  In a moment, in the kick of a heavy leg.  Different.”

Through that time when I was grappling with my new and expanded identity, like Claire, I could actually do a headstand.  As shared in Yoga La VidaLanka Part 1, I came from such an experience that hurt my self-esteem and left me traumatized from believing myself.  But when I was able to do that headstand, I knew they were not entirely right and I still had that power in me.  But you can’t do a headstand fighting, yes you may have to kick initially but there is a sense of serenity that is required to hold that pose.  It was a different kind of power I am feeling.  I couldn’t even believe my yoga teacher told me I looked serene, relax.  Is this me?  I guess, this is another side of me! 

“You might be feeling discomfort now.  If it is time to stop, it is time to stop.  But if you can, stay with it.  What is discomfort?  What does it feel like?  Is it really pain, or are you just in an unfamiliar situation?  That’s an ok place to be.”

Now, I’m back to my “old corporate self” but I am not the same.  Motherhood is affecting me greatly by shifting the focus from me, myself and I, to what is right for me, my husband, our baby – our own little family.  And because I have changed (or in the process of changing) how I am strong and what success for me now is different.  But somehow my definitions are taking a while to be up to date.  It has started during my housewife days, but it has such a lasting effect on me.  Plus I know my life will change (again) drastically after baby is born (hubby and I have made certain decisions that will, again, expand my sense of self) – and I’m excited to get there.  But now is not the time – yet.  I want for this phase to stop and move on to the next.  The next phase is more exciting and what I have been waiting for for sometime.  Yet I know I have to stay here, as uncomfortable as it may seem.  At the end of the day, it is still an “ok” place to be.

“Maybe everyone needs to retreat every once in a while, or you don’t know who you are or what you’ve become.”

What more can I say about that? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Another Note on Morning Sickness

I came across this article on on the World’s Worst Morning Sickness.  I wouldn’t say the author and I were on exactly the same boat but it was one of the most physically demanding experiences I have to endure (hopefully soon this will be in the past).  I contort myself in yoga and sometimes even defy gravity yet it’s not the same to have my head turned upside down puking all over the toilet.  I know I can physically push myself when I got into running but I’ve never been this spent throwing my guts out with no definite end in sight.

A New Pre-Natal Yoga Pose? Photo courtesy of
In my pregnancy, I’ve encountered people who do not have any idea that morning sickness is really rooted in physiology – and nothing psychological.  It’ NOT in the mind people!  I didn’t have this bad an experience, but it came close (I had a couple of trips to the hospital and one had to be rehydrated with an IV plus the suppository medicine I had to take home!).  It really lead me to feel oh so blue (more on this later) and had the usual question “why God, why me?”      

I do not wish to scare away moms-to-be or those planning to have another baby.  As any parent would say, the joys of parenthood are endless.  And everytime I see the scan and know that baby is developing well, all the hormonal imbalance is worth it.  But hopefully this will help people understand what at least 60,000 women a year experience.  And never ever tell a pregnant woman that it’s just all in the mind.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Belated Happy Independence Day Pilipinas!

Our National Hero, Jose Rizal (photo courtesy of

Did you know that our national Jose Rizal came to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) on his way to Germany?  And he thought the place was quite lovely!  Who would have thought right?  It was the Honorary Consul General William John Terrence Perera who shared this factoid with the Filipino community during the 113th Philippine Independence Celebration in Sri Lanka last Saturday, 11 June 2011.

It was so comforting to see our kababayans (countrymen) in Sri Lanka.  Again, who would have thought the Filipinos here could actually fill a mid-sized ballroom?  They come in different shapes and sizes too!  Doctors, Engineers, Managers, Filipinos married to Sri Lankans, or Filipinos married to other nationalities who have been assigned to Sri Lanka.  It was also pretty to cool to be seated with Sri Lankan Airline Pilots (5 Pinoys that we got introduced to!  That’s quite a lot!) who seemed like they were my dad’s friends (hehe!).  It was also quite fascinating to see families as well. 

In the true spirit of Filipino family, who else to better entertain other than the kids with songs (both Filipino and contemporary) and some dancing (Interpretative Dance of Bayan Ko or the 90’s hit Macarena).  Not to mention the native Tinikling with audience participation.  But the moms and other ladies also made a run for the kids’ money with their high-energy dance number to the tune of JLo’s On The Floor.  It was such a fun-filled event although it would have been perfect if lechon (roasted suckling pig) was served.       

All in all, I was happy to part of this celebration albeit a short one.  Preggy-ness is not exactly compatible with partying.  But at least, my intense homesickness was cured, just for a night. 

If you wish to contact the Association of Filipinos in Sri Lanka, you may e-mail them at
Details of the Consulate General of the Philippines in Sri Lanka:
41 Ernest De Silva Mawatha, Colombo 7
2696321, 2522524
Office Hours from 900am to 430pm

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yoga La Vida Lanka Part 1

I’ve always wanted to write about my Yoga experience.  But somebody beat me to it!  So let me just highlight a few quotable quotes from Claire Dederer’s Poser and invite you to get a copy yourselves! A must read for Yoga lovers like me.  And because of the wealth of wisdom this book provides, I will serve you this entry in 3 parts.  

When I first came to Sri Lanka I did not exactly come fresh from a “work” trauma but as with big things that happen to one’s lives, sometimes it takes time for us to deal with it.  Maybe when we’ve distanced ourselves away from it that makes it less bigger than what it really is.  Or we are a bit readier to deal with it.  Yoga has helped me put that experience into perspective and this was the moment in my life that I’ve always associated when I do my poses the first three months of our stay here and Claire Dederer’s words have summed up the lessons that helped me process my experience.  

“When we fit our bodies into an idea, it’s dangerous.  We stop feeling from the inside and take cues from the outside about what we should be doing.  This can lead to injury and, even worse, dissatisfaction.”

I was offered an opportunity that may not have been ripe for the picking.  It was a huge jump but being the “can do” me believed I can do it.  The person who provided me the opportunity believed so too.  Why shouldn’t I?  Right?  But somewhere along the way his (and probably greatly affected by other people’s) expectations overpowered the belief.  He ceased helping or maybe his efforts were not helping.  Or maybe because I realized that I was trying my best to “fit my body into this idea” that was totally against what needed to happen at that time.  It did lead to injury AND dissatisfaction.

“When we breathed, we felt more.  When you are literally tying yourself in a knot, this is all you can do: Breathe into sensation.  Stop and take in air and find out what you’re really feeling.”

And so I took the time to breathe.  It may have been driven by another person, of a similar stature telling me I should go and find another way.  I was baffled by that message… was that something you tell someone you’re grooming for a bigger role?  To someone you actually offered another more suitable opportunity albeit out of the country.  It doesn’t mean that if that same opportunity was offered to him and he wouldn’t take it for nationalistic reasons, I shouldn’t take it as well.  Well I got so mad and indeed did what he exactly told me.  To the chagrin of person #1. Many things (even worse things than this that happened and were said) have been brewing inside me and this was pretty much the last straw.  I took a breath and exhaled this whole experience out of my system. Physically at least for quite some time.

“For some reason, it’s important to learn yoga from a live person.  Maybe it’s simply seeing the poses done in three dimensions.  But it feels like something more than that.  When your teacher shows you how something is done, there’s a feeling of possibility, a transmittal of something like faith.  Yes, this can be done.  I’m seeing it right before my eyes.”

There are many shoulda, woulda, coulda’s in that situation.  But Yoga made me realize that as a manager or even as a person in general, I will be mindful not to do the same thing to my direct report and to people in general.  I vowed that I will show in three dimensions how it is done… to walk the talk.  But more importantly to keep the flame of possibility alive and to keep the faith.  Both for myself and the one I’m trying to help or develop.  That s/he will think, “Yes, this can be done.  She is doing it, so can I."

“What if I didn’t have one goal for how I might act but simply acted differently?  Simply stopped being so pre-occupied with doing this perfectly.”

What I was trying to do to myself is to do it perfectly.  It was what was expected and being a Three in the Enneagram, I will perform to that expectation.  But what if that is not what is meant for me?  I snapped out of it just in time and for the first time in 7 years, I acted differently.

“Get over yourself! You’re gonna fuck up!  And it’ll be OK.”

Was it a failure?  I wouldn’t be quick to judge all my 7 years as a failure – of course not.  But it taught me that yes I am human and “I can actually fuck up.  But it will be Ok.” 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: My Name Is... Slim Shady?

Not only have hubby and I chosen what to call baby, we have chosen what baby will call us as well.  They say when you have children everything changes.  And that includes your name and your identity.  From just being a “John” or a “Jane,” you become a “dad” or a “mom.”  Quite advanced thinking I know but you see, it’s easier to settle that now because when we talk to baby in the tummy, I can’t refer to Mr. O as Mr. O or myself as Mrs. O, right?  That’s just plain strange.  So hubby and I discussed what that will be.

One fine Saturday afternoon, while having lunch at Cricket Club, hubby and I were within earshot of a British family also having their lunch.  They have two lovely children, one was a girl and one was a boy.  The boy was just intent on doing the activity sheet the waiter gave him.  The girl needed some things from her parents so she kept on calling them: “Mommy, Daddy” (in a fine British accent even for her age – quite formal at 4 years old!). 

Then a light bulb moment for hubby.  “I know what our kids will call us (excitedly): Mommehy… Daddehy.”  That’s mommy and daddy in a thick British accent.  Come to think of it, rewind to a couple of weeks back, I had the same idea.  Hubby was not serious in discussing the topic at the time so I let it slide.  Plus, really – Mommehy, Daddehy? 

Coming from me, yes it can be a joke.  But coming from my uber serious husband, well if he says it like that I will believe that he is not at all kidding. 

So I posed a challenge… It has to be something that would be natural to US too!  Hello? And what if baby already knows Filipino and how would a combination of a few words sound like: “Mommehy, Daddehy (in thick British accent), natatae ako (in thick Filipino accent).”  Hmm…

Ok fine.  Hubby still cracks the joke on “Mommehy and Daddehy” here and then but we have settled into what our baby would REALLY call us.  I grew up calling my parents Nanay and Tatay, I would like to be called Nanay.  It’s natural and I would like to say quite traditional as well… my father called his father Tatay and calls his mother Nanay.  My cousins call their dads as Tatay and mom as Nanay as well. So for me, My Name is Nanay!  Hubby on the other hand, wants to be called Dad.  So that baby will easily transition to “Daddehy.”  Haaay….

But for what it’s worth, we’re ready to be Nanay and Dad!

Note: After 6 months and a dose of creative inspiration, I've changed the series title from Mommy Diaries to Mama La Vida Lanka :-) 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: First Trimester's Goodbye Gift

I was sooo excited for this week as this week marks the end of my first trimester.  Thank God I’m not having a complicated pregnancy – I mean of the medical kind.  But I have to say that I’m having it rough and tough.  Mostly driven by the insane olfactory sensitivity and the unforgiving morning (more like all-day) sickness.  I am gathering all my positive energies just to get through the days and the loooong first trimester.  As the days went on, the havoc of “morning sickness” has dissipated and the future finally looks bright.

Until this morning.  I woke up having a weird feeling in my tummy. I tried not to get too freaked out and went on my usual morning routine thinking it would eventually go away.  But it worsened.  It was one of the most indescribable feelings (not the soaring magic carpet ride I must say!).  I didn’t know if I needed to poop, vomit or just lie down.  I guess there are many events in pregnancy that are just as indescribable, right?  I eventually did all yet the pain did not go away.  It became less, but did not go away at all.  I was getting scared like s***.  So just to be sure, we went straight to the E.R.

While in the E.R. they couldn’t find a reason why and my OB ordered immediate scan (advancing it by a couple of days since I was due for another scan this weekend anyways) and to see her once the results are out.  This is my second E.R. visit in my pregnancy and was kind of getting a bit worried for what the doctor ordered. 

First, THANK GOD baby is ok.  Actually MORE than ok!  Baby is growing fine and hitting all KPI’s for his/her trimester.  All the hormonal imbalance is worth it I guess.  Amazing how subsisting on not exactly the healthiest (best effort naman though) and not exactly my usual eating capacity still ensures baby is ok.  Second, looks like the pain is tummy related.  Something I ate or maybe I ate too much last night – hubby’s cooking is just sooo yummy!  Thank God now I’m feeling better.

Look at those hands! Hi daw oh!

Play time?
Just when I thought the worse is over, it bids adieu in the most memorable way.  But in as much as I got such a scare, hubby and I got such an amazing gift of seeing baby today.  And boy does baby look more like a baby already!  Baby even said “Hi y’all! Look at that.  Or even showing some boxing moves?  Just to say “hey, folks, really, I’m ok.”

That and doctor gives the clearance to fly this trimester! Wohoo!  Manila, I'm going to eat your heart out.  Literally!   

Note: After 6 months and a dose of creative inspiration, I've changed the series title from Mommy Diaries to Mama La Vida Lanka :-) 
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