Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yoga La Vida Lanka Part 3

This last installment of the Yoga La Vida Lanka series deals with Yoga and Life in General.  These are basically the lessons that I consistently need to learn.  Let me share them with you and Claire Dederer’s words and experience may speak to you too.

“Being still can be the hardest thing you’ll do in yoga.  If you find your mind raising, just return to the breath.  You don’t have to breathe any special way, but just observe the breath.  Don’t try to control it.  Don’t try to deepen it.  Just watch it go in and out, and with that helps your mind to quiet.”

What simple words and simple things to do!  I find my mind racing – especially now that I have all of these things to do and prepare for the coming of our baby.  It’s like there’s no time to waste – even sitting in the car for the long drive to work and back home I have something to do (catching up on my baby book reading).  When I get home all my time is spent doing things.  Thank God for my twice weekly pre-natal yoga classes that I just get to breathe.  But even then sometimes mind will race to many different things – my to-do’s after class, etc.  I just need time to quiet down…

“Those of you who are really bad at yoga, you’re in the right place.  I hope everyone will allow themselves to be really crappy today, to walk away from being perfect.  The real yoga isn’t in the perfect pose; it’s in the crappy pose that you are really feeling.  You want to feel it from the inside out, rather than make it perfect from the outside in.”

When I was doing my poses last Sunday, I was reflecting how different yoga is from ballet as the focus on perfection is really key in ballet.  However yoga serves another purpose and it is not in being perfect.  It is what it is, for you where you are at, at that moment.

“What if the whole point of yoga wasn’t getting ready for the future, but was instead finding whatever pleasure we could in the present?”

Isn’t the present what matters?  Somehow I find myself overly obsessed about what’s going to happen next.  But life happens now.  And it is fleeting.  So be in the moment or…

“If you’re busy being good, you’re probably going to miss this.  You’re going to miss the real stuff that’s going on all around you.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Help La Vida Lanka

Warning: The post that follows is one major rant session on dealing with the help.  Negastar alert!

Handling help seem to be becoming one of my biggest “grown up” concerns.  For one, I’ve never had to handle help before.  Leave that to my mom!  Based on what I see – it is mega stressful.  So stressful that it came a point in time when even my dad refused to hire full-time help.  Our then driver went AWOL after receiving his Christmas bonus and our then maid also resigned or something like that.  In any case when the driver tried to come back, needless to say, he was no longer welcome.  And we settled with driving ourselves (by that time all of us knew how to drive already) and taking a share of the household chores (mostly cooking and washing dishes).  We always had our wash and iron lady as well as a general cleaner.  Manang Franz, our wash and iron lady comes daily (except Sundays) while our general cleaner, Manang Conching comes once a week.

Landing in Sri Lanka, in as much as cleaning is not my forte, since I stayed at home for 3 months, we didn’t find the need to hire help.  Except for the company-provided driver for hubby of course.  When I started working, it was no longer sensible to try to do everything ourselves.  We first had our clothes washed and ironed in a store.  But we were getting unhappy with their services – plus it’s a lot of work taking note of all the clothes we send there.

Maid in Heaven or Maid in Hell? (photo courtesy of

We then hired a maid who does cleaning, ironing and washing twice a week.  She cleans really well, does the laundry ok but not exactly an expert in ironing.  After a while, she was showing some signs of breakdown in performance.  Suddenly my whites became a little blackish, she would displace my things (putting things at odd places – like cookbooks at the topmost shelves – no one is 8 feet tall here!) and not cleaning out the lint in the washing machine and what not.  After giving her numerous reminders and patience running out, today I came home and saw my ruined yoga pants – never been worn and totally brand new.  She ironed it when it wasn’t supposed to be ironed.  She told me she’d pay for it (in installments as the price of the pants would equate to 5 days of her salary) – and I really want enforce it.  Plus a serious talk this Saturday.  After a few ruined clothes plus this – I think it is just fair.

But I am also exploring my options.  Call it serendipitous but my friend just texted me this afternoon that a maid is going to be available soon.  In as much as I want to give my current maid a chance, I also have to watch out for my needs and I definitely don’t need this right now.  And especially not when the Luna comes.  I would need excellent hands to help me around the house – who will not give me unnecessary stress as I focus on Luna when she arrives.     

And those are just my maid issues…

When I started working, the company provided me with a driver.  The first one they gave me was a 22-year-old mad driver.  He doubles as a bus driver on weekends – so I guess that explains the driving skills right?  I had to get the Admin Manager and the Fleet guy to help me discipline him (he knows little English) and sent him to driving school.  His skills improved immensely!  But he asks for an advance almost every month.  Then one day, he went AWOL. 

They were able to get me a replacement after a couple of weeks but this guy, a bit more mature but knew less English than the first one and was a bit, say, “slow” in understanding.  You have to repeat many instructions (even when translated) and he was really getting to my nerves.  Add to the fact that he runs on red lights and loses his mind when he drives (as in "lost" siya).  Come on man, after the first driver – this is what I get?  I don’t even understand why they would assign that kind of a driver to a foreigner! So NOT safe!   

Hubby’s driver is such a find.  Although the English is still a challenge, I would consider it good already.  He is friendly, thoughtful (gives us fruits and food), street smart and has an excellent work attitude.  Of course there are moments when he doesn’t understand certain instructions and ends up really irritating me but his strengths outweigh his weaknesses.  So overall I am happy.

I now have a new driver but hubby and I decided that we’d switch (I’d get his and he’ll get the new guy).  I really can’t deal with a new driver right now – patience has dried up for training and re-training and re-training.  Though he’s really old (think your family driver that grew up with you and still serves your family up to now kind of old) but he is very experienced.  I like his driving style – very swabe and confident.  He actually just came from abroad and maybe also because of his age is having a hard time getting a job.  So we’re lucky to get him at the rate within our budget! 

I’ve heard a lot of “maid” or “yaya” or “driver” stories from my friends.  But never has it occurred to me that I would be dealing with the same issues.  As I build my own household, I also need the help to manage it.  And it is one hell of a task.  It’s like being the head of my own company really.  And if I have the same level of standards with my house help as with my team at work, well that is truly a source of major frustration.  I’m thinking should I lower my standards?  I don’t think so – because it’s the standards that I want for my life and I think we are all entitled to that.  Should I just be happy that I have the help while other people and other countries make it difficult to have one?  What if instead of help they create havoc?  Extending your patience?  Well I guess that is key.  But can’t we just get a really good help around the house?  The talent war is not just upon corporations – it is also on households as well.  And it is a really difficult and a “I really don’t need this right now” kind of challenge.  And one of the most difficult growing up lessons I am learning…  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: My “Mommy Club” Away From Home

Pregnancy away from home is quite a challenge.  I’m lucky to have found my mommy references locally.  These are mommies who openly share their experiences of pregnancy and motherhood and who are easily within reach whenever I have an urgent paranoid moment.  Apart from that I also chanced upon a Facebook Group called Mums in Colombo where you can post questions (anything under the motherhood sun!), read interesting resources and even get discounts for some mommy treats.  Moreover they have a Classifieds site where you can post your items for sale – heck I was able to buy our crib (at a really good bargain) from that!

As mymommyology suggested, we have to stay connected both people from home and locally – and somehow these two outlets (office mommies and Mums and Colombo) are helping me deal with my “local” mommy issues (where can I buy this, etc.).  Of course my OB will always be a trusted source.
What is also awesome in this day and age is that my mommy friends back home are also a Facebook message away!  I’ve started a few threads on Facebook with my mommy queries such as what are the necessary stuff to buy for maternity wear (the answers are pretty interesting and my own experience is you really don’t have to sweat it that much – which warrants another post altogether!), to essential baby items for the first 8 months (that’s when hubby’s contract in La Lanka expires).    

The ultimate mommy resource who is ever present in Facebook and now even more in Skype is my mom.  It was difficult for me dealing with this new experience away from her but with technology of today – we can have our daily contact about mommyhood and even the usual household and neighborhood news back home at a fraction of the cost! 

As one of my friends, G, mentioned – she was once pregnant away from home and it was ok.

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

Celebrating Our First Wedding Anniversary La Vida Lanka!

They say when you get married to someone, you’ll get to see so much of the person like you’ve never had before (no matter how long the relationship was) – mostly said by my girl friends with a roll of the eyes!  When hubby and I got married, we moved to Sri Lanka, just the two of us, no family, no nothing.  And it was a great backdrop to see just what kind of person is this that I married.

After a hearty anniversary degustation dinner at Chesa Swiss

I discovered that one, he gets irritated when after taking a bath I put the wet towel on the bed.  Hello, it will dry up anyways!  Second, he also gets irritated when I don’t re-cap my shower gel, shampoo and conditioner after using.  So that it’s easy to use next time I take a bath!  That’s my OC hubby! Haha!  But, he also has his share of un-OCness.  First, he likes keeping plastic/paper bags.  See when hubby goes Christmas shopping, he just asks for more paper bag from the store so that it’s easier for him to wrap his presents in.  And it’s free gift wrapping I must say!  But the store tends to give more than what he needs, and it gets stored up in the cabinet for YEARS.  And he doesn’t want me to throw them away…  Second, what he buys from the grocery/market, he forgets to use/eat.  That leaves us with rotten stuff and a waste of good money!  Upto me to clean the refrigerator!  Third, he uses our house as a filing cabinet for his office stuff.  When he brings home files (hubby loves working anytime, anywhere… even in the, you know!), he intends to fix them in binders at home.  But forgets to deal with it.  I’ve already offered my services to do the filing for him! 

So did I marry the right guy?

I also discovered that my husband does not complain.  Even if I nag him!  This is such a new thing for me because it takes a lot of swooning for my brothers to do something for you.  Hehehe!  Even if you don't ask him to, when he knows you need it, he will do it: he lovingly prepares me my pre-natal milk, packed snacks and lunch.  I also discovered that he is able to cook for a week’s meal, wash the dishes, work, go on a business trip and take care of me without going berserk.  I would have been the #1 biatch for the week if I were faced with such a task.  Streeesss!  And he has the ability to find greater love for me everyday in spite of who I am.  I am not a bad person, but I always tell him he’s a much better person than I.  And it makes me wonder how could I have been blessed with a husband like him? 

And everyday, in as much as I discover the little quirks about him – these just endear me more to him.  What I find is that everyday, there is something I discover about him that makes me love him more. To my hubby, happy first anniversary!  “You are God’s most precious gift to me.  And I am lucky to find you, know you and love you.”    

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: My Bump, My Bump, My Lovely Baby Bump!

As the second trimester came, so did my lovely baby bump!  At least I can keep the food in this time!

Here are some pictures of me, hubby and our baby.

Hello! Can you see that?
One Big Happy Family
Baby's latest picture! Most likely a "Luna" :-)

Halfway there!  And so excited for our Christmas blessing! 

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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: What Kind of A Parent Will I Be?

I was introduced to by mymommyology and it has been such a useful and essential pregnancy and (for advance reading) parenting resource!  One of my favorite articles is Being an Anti-Perfectionist (How Kids Learn By Making Mistakes).  It struck the unanswered question in my mind: what kind of parent would I like to be?  Or even more terrifying, what kind of parent will I be? 

Check out!
The fear comes from my reflections of how I am with myself (control-freak, obsessed with performing, impatient – a classic Type 3 in the Enneagram).  And how I manage other people at work (high standards, high energy, not as control freak but still quite impatient).  I had the unconscious belief that people could be just like me and hopefully even better!  But I realized that is not the case and people have their own styles and paces which may be different but not necessarily “bad.”  During my farewell in my previous company where I stayed for most of my career, one of my direct-reports said something to the effect of I’ve pushed them really hard (yikes) but it was to the point that enabled him to realize how much more he was able to achieve (haay thank God for his awesome attitude!).  My other very good friend (who was my previous boss in the same company) also told me something to the effect that “naku, your child doesn’t know his/her whole life has already been planned ahead!”  Well, I have rough plans already - ok fine travel plans lang naman and what classes s/he will take like instruments, sports, etc.) – to which my husband just reacts with “My Wifey! Ano ka ba?”  Can you already see where we’re headed in the parenting realm here?         

At work that is acceptable – I am no The Devil Wears Prada – I am nice and even fun to work with (I think! I hope! Haha!) but we all have to pull our weights at work.  But at home, I think it has to be different.  I have stopped myself from nagging my husband to fix this and do that (again I think and I hope!).  Because I know at the end of the day he will anyways (even to a higher degree of performance than I!) plus I don’t want to add home pressures from the already demanding work he has.  Moreover in parenting – I think I really have to take a different approach. 

First because I want to teach my kids to think.  In as much I have my opinions and what not, I want them to decide for themselves – and I am hoping that the path they will take will be one that is grounded on the Catholic faith and sound principles and values.  Which I think will be our responsibility to instill but the rest is upto them. 

Second I also want my kids to learn how to handle the consequences of their actions and to learn from it.  I want to raise resilient kids – I think I will lose my mind if I try to shield them from everything bad.  However I want to teach them how to be strong amidst all.

Third I have this vision of myself as a “really cool mom.”  I don’t mean permissive, but cool.  You know, chillax.  I can already hear my brothers and my dad laughing their heads off with that.  Me? Chillax? Ha! A girl can dream! But honestly I want to be cool enough that my kids will be open to talk to me and my hubby without fear of being judged, misunderstood, and all the other angst of children (ok teenagers).

So how do I do that?  I guess I will not really know until the time comes but as I said during the start of this post that Being Anti-Perfectionist actually gave me a few pointers (hopefully I remember them when the time comes!) which basically would enable my kids to think, learn (and be resilient) and talk to us.

Click on the link to be directed to the full article. The piece was written by Alina Tugend, author of Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong.

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

Running in the Rain

I woke up to a rainy Colombo today.  Thank God for rain! It has been dry for a couple of months now and the heat was just too exhausting for my pregnant body.  Otherwise, I love the sun! I love sunbathing in the beach and just enjoying the sunny weather.  Except when I run.

When I learned that you wouldn’t actually get sick when you run in the rain (thanks to my cousin J and my coach J – two totally different persons both refuting my mom’s nervous qualms about running in the rain), there was a newfound appreciation for the “bed weather.”  I loved running in the rain because I feel like I can conserve my energies more.  If it’s too hot, I feel like it drains the life out of me.  Bad for long runs!  Also there is just a certain kind of strange mystery and appeal that comes from a surrounding refreshed by nature.  And there is also that wonderful sensation of being kissed by the rain while you swish through the wet ground.  And because for the longest time I couldn’t go running in the rain (mom would stop me and tell me all of these scary things that can happen to you turning into a gremlin and all), there is a sense of freedom of actually being able to.

It wasn't raining then but good old memories of running!

But no, of course I did not run today.  I’ve been feeling under the weather for the last couple of days lately.  Plus of course let us not forget my pregnant belly!  Today just made me miss running and my life as a runner.  The last time I seriously stuck with a program was just before I got married.  And that wasn’t even the kind of intense training when you prep for a big race!  I just miss checking out for races and tips and other running stories.  It happened to be the first blog that I really watched out for!  In as much as running has been such a social outlet (just to be seen at races), I guess that’s better than being in a place where running has not gained much traction.  No weekly races at all! It has its social purposes as well of course, I miss an early morning run with my girlfriends C and W followed by a breakfast date.  But it was also an outlet for me – a kind of balancing factor – in my otherwise stressful life.  I have yoga but it doesn’t give the kind of high I get from running.

Just rambling on what this weather has made me think… So running, until we meet again!  Next time to lose the baby weight maybe?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reflections on The Lion King

 Last month during our short trip to Singapore, hubby and I were lucky enough to catch The Lion King.  I've never watched the play and not even the Disney movie.  But of course the songs were familiar.  Who doesn't know "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" or "Hakuna Matata?"  In as much as I have never watched the movie, my favorite Disney cartoon movie song is "The Circle of Life."  Needless to say the theater production was awesome.  And full of Pinoy actors (yeah!)!  But what struck me most was how relevant the meaning of the play was (and the songs were) to what I am going through in life right now.

Let us begin with "I Just Can't Wait To Be King."  I saw myself in the little Simba.  That was me for the most of my life... I am fortunate to have parents who built up my self-esteem and made me believe I was made for great things in the world: "I'm gonna be a mighty king, so enemies beware!... I'm gonna be the mane event, like no other king was before, I'm brushing up on looking down, I'm working on my roar!"  Yet as much as I was gaining traction, something about it didn't feel right.  Is this the "great thing" that I really want?

With that question, a new chapter begins...

While wanting to be "king" was somehow been ingrained in my system, life seems to show me there might be something else... "there's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do that can ever be done, there's far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found."

Indeed there was... "There's a rhyme and reason, to the wild outdoors, when the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours."  
But the "roaring" does not stop.  Or maybe I just didn't know what to do with myself other than what I've been doing for most of my life.  I have found my place but maybe my time there was up.  It was time to take "on the path unwinding in... the circle of life."

And the circle of life planted a new life in me.  Literally and figuratively.  Maybe this is what I've been waiting for... And "roaring" has no place in nurturing the life inside me.  I may not be one to take on such a "wonderful phrase," but I had to say "Hakuna Matata" to my worries to that this new life inside me will grow fine and happy.
But it is a struggle.  Because "hakuna matata" is a phrase not fit for a king.  And if I take on such "a problem-free philosophy," I would be less of a king.

Then Simba had a conversation with the spirit of Mufasa.  At that time he was struggle if he should go back to Pride Rock because he has changed, he has taken on "hakuna matata" - he was no longer a king.  Yet his father assured him that in as much as he has grown and changed, some things never change: he will forever be his son.

It was a fitting message to me.  In as much as the last couple of years I have seen myself morph into a person I only recognize half of the time, it doesn't mean that I have lost myself.  My good friend K said it beautifully, I am just expanding myself.  It wasn't about being a "king" anymore - or losing the ability to "roar."  I'm sure as a mother I will have a lot of "roaring" to do (haha!).  It's just about being able to take on a different philosophy here and there - whatever suits the situation best.  And as we grow through the Circle of Life, we take on more philosophies we haven't even realized existed.  Just because the world is also changing, and to be successful, we have to adapt and that may mean expanding our repertoire in how to deal with the situation.  We can't just "roar" you know.  But the key is to be in touch with the core - the constants in life.  God, family, friends, principles.

At the end of the day, "it's the circle of life, and it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the circle, the circle of life." 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: What's Your Guess?

I just realized that it is not long before we hit the 20th week mark.  Which means that we are halfway through!  This means two things for us:

1)   On the not-so-positive side, towards the end of our first trimester we found out that my placenta was low (ergo some slight bleeding) but at that point not to worry.  The key point is to see if the placenta’s position improves by the 20th week.  In most pregnancies it does, however if it does not, a possible placenta previa might be diagnosed.  If it has not improved, we will have to re-look my activity level and have no choice but to deliver via CS.

2)   The 20th week (roughly 5th month) scan allows you to see baby’s gender! Woohoo! 

So let’s focus on happy thoughts…

Photo courtesy of kristin_a on flick
We are totally excited to know.  Don’t count on me to wait till we give birth! Patience is not exactly one of my best virtues!  A few people have their own thoughts:

-       My husband, in as much as he is open to either, wants a girl since he grew up in a brood of 3 boys
-       My mom and brother both had a dream that baby is a girl
-       I was Skyping with my brother when our laundry and iron manang passed by and saw me – she also says it is a girl
-       My office seatmate, upon seeing my baby bump said it looks like a girl
-       I myself had a dream about baby, that she’s a girl (with a beautiful singing voice at that!)
-       Yet baby could also be a boy because (get ready to be grossed out) I see a mysterious growth of baby hair on my stomach… testosterone?

So you, what do you think?

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: First Trimester Reflections

I never expected to feel down when I’m pregnant, especially this is something hubby and I have been waiting for.  It is a welcome gift to be pregnant!  And because of that I did not also expect to be subject to the usual (or even more than normal) pregnancy blues.  The handy guide What To Expect When You’re Expecting actually gives you a fair warning as it outlines “what you may be feeling” month on month.  And for most of the first trimester, it says:

 “Instability comparable to premenstrual syndrome (but probably more pronounced), which may include irritability, mood swings, irrationality, weepiness”

In as much as “instability” is normal, mine was heightened by a bad case of morning (all-day) sickness. I was honestly afraid that the post-partum depression came early for me:

I suddenly understood how it is to be like s*it.  I really felt I was a dark, wet, lump of s*it.

Photo courtesy of
I was miserable because I didn’t know when it would really end.  It’s not like having colds and cough, somehow you know what is the feeling when it’s about to start, when you’re in the thick of things and when you’ll be better soon.  With this, most people say by the second trimester it’ll be over.  While some say for most (if not all) of their pregnancy is ridden with morning sickness.  Let us not even talk about those who did not have to deal with it.  Luckily by my fourth month it was gone. 

“Sleep all day” and “The Lazy Song” were the perfect anthems to my days.  I am normally uncomfortable with lull periods.  So much so that I always bring a book with so I am able to spend my time productively.  But during my first trimester, I swear I could just basically stare at the ceiling all day.

Photo courtesy of
I prefer literal darkness.  Our apartment faces the east so imagine the sunlight that comes in.  I never really had any problem with this until the first three months of my pregnancy.  The curtains (tacky at that) became my friends.  Plus I looked forward to the rain.  I was never like this – I only liked the rain before when it was a Thursday, my coding day hoping the MMDA won’t brave the rain and I could leave the house a little later.   

I was crazily longing for home.  I just wanted to pack up my bags and move back to Manila.  I needed a semblance of familiarity, in food, in surroundings, to be with family and friends.  They say just before you die, your whole life flashes before you.  I say, during my first trimester, my whole life was flashing before me and it made me homesick like hell.

When I was running (which I miss so much right now) I discovered my body could endure the pain, the hardwork, and my thoughts to keep me company.  Just me and the hard concrete for hours on end.  It was amazing.  During my first trimester I was amazed how I can even experience a whole day of vomiting.  When you get pregnant, your body really changes and I felt sensations that were not at all familiar.  

Reflecting on this experience, as shared in Morning Sickness No La Vida Lanka, I’ve learned quite a few things:

    • Listen to my body!  Somebody else is living inside of me and I have to be sensitive to how he or she is. 
    • There is no use beating myself up for stuff I can’t do. My energy and my capacity are just not at their usual levels.  And I can only work with what I have.
    • It is ok not to “perform” – my self-worth is no longer dependent on what I can do or not do.  Because I no longer just live for “me.” 
I guess in the last three months, I’ve experienced a lot of undesirable things.  But what I can say is through it all I’ve expanded my sense of self.  That I am no longer just the “can do” girl who when she sets her eye on the prize gets it with such relentless effort.  But I am also the woman who can discern when it is needed to take a step back and who is still ok amidst being faced with a stark different sense of self. 

Hubby and his vow
But the learning is not only about me.  It is also about the man who takes care of us (baby and I).  You see my first trimester, is one of the most stressful and loaded seasons of my husband’s work.  Add to that a business trip here and there.  But true to his vow, he not only just “cooked omellettes” for me but he pre-cooked a whole week’s meal for me because he would be away and I couldn’t go into the kitchen.  And would continue to cook for me.  And during this time in as much as it was difficult, he is steadfast and does anything as long as it was to make me happy.

So this trimester’s hero is not me.  It is my hubby.  I wouldn’t have survived it without him.  And for that, I am deeply grateful.  And ready to take on the next two trimesters!

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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