Dreams Can Come True

Maher and I met at university in Montreal when I was barely 19 years old. Understandably, (at least from my perspective;)) I wasn’t too serious about the relationship and decided to keep it light, emotionally.

A year after we were together Maher moved to Beirut where he started working. I insisted that I would stay on in Montreal to finish my degree. What was supposed to take me one year took me two to finish due to some mistakes in my understanding of required courses.

I spent the summers in Lebanon and Maher visited me in Canada once or twice a year. On one of those visits I wasn’t in good shape. The long distance was taking its toll on me. I wanted us to be together. I was falling for him more and more. Over time. That’s part of my story with Maher. A slow, long process of falling. Deeply. In love.

So me in my naive, idealistic manner I suggested we move somewhere together right then. Maybe a small town or an island in South America. It was rather close and most importantly, it was warm.

Maher, the grounded practical one entertained my request jokingly, and asked, “And what would we do? With what money do you expect to live?”

“Well,” I smiled dreamily, not really believing in what I was saying, “You can teach sport, maybe a running group, and I can teach dance.”

Maher was running everyday, even through the Canadian winters. His limit for running in the cold was -20 C. He always encouraged me to run with him, motivated, even coached me.

And I missed dancing. I had danced since I was 5 years old and while in Canada from the age of 17, that aspect of my expressive movement life was missing.

“Hmmmmmmm…..” he sighed, and that was the end of that.

At least until about 15 years later.

Now.

We made it to out warm tropical island, albeit in Thailand, the other side of the world, and we are manifesting that long forgotten, distant memory of a dream, Maher with Samui United Academy, his new project for football and sport camps and me with a funky little dance/ fitness/ yoga studio I am taking on.

A friendly, fun, confident dance and fitness instructor, Ashley, whose classes I’ve been enjoying lately walked into his studio one morning. I was the first person there. We bid good morning, kiss each other on the cheeks, and I ask him how he is.

“Well….” he starts as he tells me how he is planning to leave Samui. Suddenly and for good. He says he will sell his studio and do what he loves most, which is arranging weddings. Back in Europe.

I was gutted. It was such a great space and so convenient, so close to my kids new school, a spot where I had met so many wonderful women. In such a short time.

I took what was one of his popular classes, “dancersize” followed by TLTA (tums, legs, and a tight ass!) to hip music, blaring, all of us chattering and clapping, laughing, often speechless from being pushed so hard, but there was the feeling of being part of a tribe that got us through it!

At the end of the class he made the announcement to everyone present, that he was leaving Samui, that he was selling.

My shy self waited for everyone to leave, then practically whispered to him “I am interested in the studio, please send me an email with more info.”

And this was literally two hours after I had heard the news, two days after I told my psychotherapist I felt ready to teach again, and also 2 days after my doctor reduced my meds.

Today, three weeks later, I have been given the green light to get off the medication altogether. Today three weeks later, I gave Ashley a goodbye hug as he handed me the keys to the studio.

I feel that I am flowing with life, that it is intriguing. Full of surprises and love. How different from when I was 14 in Lusaka and a suicide attempt survivor, 20 in Montreal drinking too much, depressed, and dreaming of warm weather and lightness, 26 in Chengdu running my little yoga studio on my own and burning out, to 29 and birthing premature twins, to 35 in Samui and having a complete mental health breakdown, to today!

Manifesting dreams.

I have many, many people to thank for their love and support over the years, but Maher is the one I choose to bring up today. We’ve been together 18 years now, and we made some dreams come true because we came out of the rough times together, stronger, more open, with a trust that we could improve and live our lives in support of each other.

That was a mouthful!

Here’s to more adventures, more connections, more risk, more love and laughter!

From One Woman to Another

The woman with the deep chesty cough,

She exudes sadness through her tears, even through her sweet smiles.

She throws her head back in abandon as she laughs

For a month she’s felt the raw soreness in her throat as she:

Cough cough cough coughs!

Developing a 6 pack that hurts now.

From a separation, to challenging societal norms, unperturbed by the reactions of her grown children.

I caught it from her, took on her pain,

No judgement,

Without words, a visceral connection.

From one woman to another.

My Dragonfly Life

Listening to the sounds all around me

On this land of coconut trees and blue seas

The insects are humming to their fullest

Making the most of their weeks as beings

Flitting from here to there doing what they should be doing

I am pondering on my own story

As I am fluttering from one place to another

And buzzing around in other people’s wonderings

My dragonfly life seems to be continuing on

Moving away from the mindless bouncing around

Into sweet moments of creativity

We’ll be Butterflies

Sometimes alone

Sitting and watching

The breath recharging

At other times included

Feeling safe and together

Belonging in a sense

Living on this land and it’s dreams

Of pirates and no rules

A paradise of stillness in its views

Forgetting the suffering of the confused

Lost in the intricacies

And the fear of being

First the old then the young

Maybe next lifetime

We’ll be butterflies

Alone Time

A moment alone, a cherished one

So deep is the desire to dive into the cool, yet the tiredness holds her back

Maybe a nap will take care of the fatigue

Her heavy eyes rest in silence,

She listens to the background sounds of the jungle

She does what she can,

She drives from school to football to dance class

Communicates with strangers to set up extra lessons, workshops, and tests

Designs costumes and builds tents fit for princesses

Combs out lice, not once, not twice,

more than thrice!

And now, a bit of alone time is in order

If not, she will collapse,

Possibly relapse

All she knows now, is a bit of alone time is in order!

Exhaling

Into the depths of despair

She plunges head first

Fingertips break through

Not a splash is seen

She confuses fatigue with darkness

She searches for routine, for stability

And up she comes,

Fingers reach for the surface

A gasp of air, a lifting

She looks out at the view

The creativity flows

And back she dives exhaling,

Into the depths of the unknown

Words

It’s all slipping out

Now, all of a sudden

Rolling off my lips

Syllable by syllable

This new expressive form

Of love, of coming through fear,

Of abandon and yearning

Sounds coming to life

Now, all of a sudden

Rolling off my lips

Syllable by syllable

A striking, piercing gaze

Unshaken by doubt

From boredom to creativity

Words become pictures

Now, all of a sudden

Rolling off my lips

Syllable by syllable

Timelessness

Without beginning or end

There is the here and now

The essence of love

Is evident

Even as emotion runs wild

The presence of life

Is immediate

I look into my child’s eye

Where to now?

The unknown space of lightness

Of joy

Of depth in pain

Of surrender

In this timelessness

There is space to ponder

Only

On the here and now

Heavier, but Happier

Getting comfortable with changes in our body can be interesting and can take time. Since I started taking medication almost 2 years ago I have put on more weight than I ever have in the past, except for when I was pregnant.

I remember the period when I moved to Canada to attend university, I put on quite a bit of weight. I lost it with regular exercise and after I met Maher! Things looked just a little bit brighter with him in my life.

Then another time was when I was pregnant and in bed rest with the twins. I put on a whole 30kg and I only got to 7 months of the pregnancy! I wasn’t too nervous about it but I thought I’d never be able to lose all the weight. Having fed the two of them breast milk for 9 months got me most of the way back to my normal weight and size. The rest came off with some regular exercise, healthy eating, and two babies to care for!

But this time something is different. I can’t seem to loose the weight. It never used to be an issue because it always came off on its own without much effort other than the general time and energy I spent on movement and eating well. This time it will take a bit more.

I am over 35 now. There is that “aging phenomenon” to take into consideration as well! My body has changed. So has my resilience to the change.

My sudden weight increase left me feeling uneasy, not so much in the recent past as when it first changed, and when I moved back to Samui after the two months in Bangkok that summer. Everyone on the island around me seemed suddenly much thinner than I was used to!

It’s all relative I suppose.

At first I resisted taking medication, not only because I didn’t believe I needed it- I didn’t believe that I was paranoid, but also due to one of its side effects. Weight gain. But I realized soon enough that I chose my family, my husband and children and in this case I needed to take the medication, at first to save the family, and then later when I realized I was indeed paranoid, to keep myself in check. In balance.

My psychiatrist has mentioned to me that we will start reducing one of the meds in a few months. I look forward to that. Of course with the understanding that if there is a relapse, there is no shame in going back on the meds.

So here I am now, dancing again, back to my milder, gentle yoga practice, not yet teaching.

I did my first performance since being hospitalized just yesterday, with a friend. I resisted performing until now. Partly because I didn’t want to be the center of attention, I didn’t feel very confident with my dance skills, and partly because I was uncomfortable with my new body shape. I’d never performed with the “extra” weight on me.

It turned out beautifully. We were well surrounded and supported. Well received. We enjoyed the practices that led up to the performance as well as the moment itself. I had my days feeling uncomfortable inside of myself, but they were fleeting and not strong enough to overpower me.

I do have the secret wish to lose a few kilos when I reduce my medication, but mostly I am more and more comfortable with who I am regardless of the weight. The dancing is becoming enjoyable, a daily practice that I look forward to. Even better now that I am adding some structure to the sessions.

I feel that I am happy to be out there with my Facebook dance videos, definitely a little bit nervous with the exposure at times, but I am motivated to dance and share, perhaps inspire, as does @nivetha.shree.dancer a beautiful Indian tribal fusion dancer. A few of us are practicing everyday or as often as possible and tagging her in our Instagram posts with #practicewithnivetha. Join us!

So here I am, back at it, heavier, but happier and not concerned about what reaction I get anymore. In fact I never used to dance with my belly showing until the last few months. I used to be shy and insecure about that. So maybe the added weight was needed to allow some grounding, some feminine power to shine through me. Not to say that I am complacent and letting go. I continue to try hard to maintain the weight if I haven’t been able to lose any yet.

It’s not about the perfect weight anymore, it’s more about enjoying the practices, the connections, and the moments.

Thanks for reading!