Overcoming Health Challenges: Life on the Road with Perry De Gennaro

Perry is a touring playback tech, working with some of the world’s biggest acts in the EDM/pop music scenes. He also happens to have Crohn’s disease. This has led him to find some unique ways to manage his health whilst living and working on the road, and I’m so happy that Perry shared with me some of these insights.

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Lessons From My Miscarriage

Just over a week ago I miscarried my first pregnancy. Being the staunch advocate of story medicine (and serial oversharer) that I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to harness this unique and powerful experience by writing a little bit about it, and hopefully spreading some awareness to others.

 

One in every four known pregnancies will end in miscarriage – once I began speaking about it, I quickly became aware of a plethora of women in my life who I didn’t realise were also members of this ‘secret society’ - and yet my personal experience of pregnancy loss has revealed the stigma that often surrounds this topic. Miscarriage is the natural end of a non-viable pregnancy. It’s just as natural as full term pregnancies, still births, and live births. Yet in our culture there is only one way to feel about a miscarriage: sad, and mostly silent, with an emphasis on immediately looking to the future (where hopefully a happier and healthier pregnancy awaits). Likewise, I find it counter-intuitive that there is only one socially acceptable way to feel about a continued pregnancy: delighted, blissful, and grateful, with no room for any feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, resentment, or sadness.  Like aspects of mothering, miscarriage is a complex rollercoaster of physical and emotional loss, denial, anger, sadness, and ultimately acceptance and healing. I have allowed myself to lean into these feelings and let my intuition guide my experience of pregnancy loss, and these have been my insights:

 

It Will Take Longer Than You Think

There is an all-too-common belief that when miscarriage (singular) occurs, a woman suddenly ceases to be pregnant and therefore goes back to the way she was before. We are expected to move on very quickly, both physically and emotionally. This is incredibly unrealistic. First of all, from a purely physical perspective, miscarriage is not a linear process.  It doesn’t just all come out and then you’re done. The physical symptoms can last for weeks and a woman will most likely need to go to work, attend social events, and generally function as though everything is fine and dandy during this time.  Emotionally there is an expectation that we will start off sad and gradually become less sad until we are happy again. This simply isn’t how it works. When you lose the baby that is literally growing inside of you, you feel every feeling in the world simultaneously until you collapse in bed crying your eyes out, sleep like the dead, and wake up to do it all again the next day. These early days feel like forever. There was nothing that anyone could say to me during this time that could help me more than what I kept repeating to myself: “This too shall pass”.

 

Everything Feels Like A Trigger, For Ages

There is a series of unpleasant ‘firsts’ following a miscarriage. The first shower, looking down at your body and knowing it has changed. The first time you cook a meal at home, spy the prenatal vitamins on the kitchen bench, feel your throat tighten and then move them to the back of the cupboard where they’ll be out of sight for the foreseeable future. The first trip to the grocery store where somehow all of your fellow shoppers have multiple kids in tow, or are nursing infants, or pregnant bellies. I went from listening to ‘birth stories’ podcasts one day, to ‘life after miscarriage’ podcasts the next. I scrolled through the pregnancy app on my phone in which I had enthusiastically tracked the first days of my baby’s life, found the ‘pregnancy loss’ button, and clicked on it to be met with a notification that read: ‘We are sorry for your loss. Resetting all data….’

There is no way to predict what will trigger feelings of anger or immense grief. As a result it can feel quite dangerous to go out into the world and participate in some semblance of a normal life.

 

The Universe Has Your Back

A few days before my miscarriage I was fretting about what I perceived as a lack of close friendships in my adopted home town of Melbourne. I could not have been wrong. People came through for me in the most incredible way after the loss of this pregnancy. Far from feeling alone, I have felt overwhelming support from people from every corner of my life. I can unequivocally say that miscarriage has not only deepened my existing friendships, but forged new ones.

 

You Can Love Your Body Through Miscarriage

A common sentiment expressed by women after a miscarriage is one of feeling betrayed by, and disappointed in, their bodies. This can lead to a feeling of disassociation from the physical body, and feelings of shame and negativity in the physical relationship with self. I feel fortunate to have emerged with a newfound respect for my body after miscarriage. Not only did it grow something beautiful, but it managed to recognize that something wasn’t right, and that it was best to let go. In doing this, my body has taught me an incredibly powerful lesson: there is no life without loss, and loss is a natural part of life.

 

Now that my journey into motherhood has begun (because let’s acknowledge and understand that all pregnant women are mothers immediately and forever, regardless of the outcome), I am committed to walking down the next part of this path with more trust than I had the first time around. Trust in myself, in my own strength, and in the people around me. Trust that the fear of loss is so much worse than the actual loss.  There are no guarantees in life. Statistically speaking, I have the same chance of miscarrying again in a future pregnancy as I did the first time around. For all our human brilliance, ultrasound machines, medical research and statistics, there’s a lot that we don’t understand about fertility and the human body.  It frightens me to think that I could miscarry again in the future. But in the words of psychologist Susan David, discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life. My first significant experience of loss has encouraged me to live boldly and face each day with a faithful and open heart. If you or somebody you know is on this journey too, I send you strength, love, humility, and I hope you find peace.

In the spirit of paying it forwards, below are some resources that I have found really helpful during this time.

Even just by following some of these as accounts on social media, I have felt very connected to others moving through a similar experience and I’ve found that really healing.

Gather Women Space

I Had A Miscarriage

Pregnancy Loss

Life After Miscarriage podcast

Emotional Agility by Susan David

 

 

 

Routine Is A Dirty Word.... Or Is It?

I recently realised that in all my years of being a super organised Type A person, I have never once planned ahead to have time out in my week for self-care or rest. Free time in my calendar is very quickly re-purposed into project development time, side hustle time, music practice time, house cleaning time… basically for all the other stuff that I feel needs to get done, and that I haven’t managed to fit in elsewhere in my week.

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Why East Meets West Is Best: My India Studies Recapped

Since completing my 200hr YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) in late 2016, I’ve taught in gyms, schools, studios, in my own home, and in the homes of total strangers who became beloved students. I’ve undertaken more speciality training in particular focus fields such as yin yoga, and have spent many hours as a student in weekend masterclasses, advanced teacher trainings, and studying online – all of which have helped me to develop confidence in my teaching, my message, and how to relay this to others in the most accessible way possible.  Why, then, did I feel the need to travel to India at the very beginning of the year and undertake an entire month of further intensive training?

For me, it was a combination of things that led to me investing the time, energy, and money (teacher trainings aren’t cheap!) into my most recent 300hr YTT. First of all, I knew that the opportunity to dive deeper into certain aspects of yoga would benefit me hugely, and in terms of my schedule as a freelance creative and yoga teacher, an intensive course is the way to go for me personally (at least when I leave the country for a number of weeks, I know I won’t be distracted by other work!). Secondly, I hadn’t yet popped my India cherry and thought that Goa would make an appropriate ‘soft introduction’ to this incredible, but sometimes intimidating, destination for soul-seekers and wayfarers from the world over. Thirdly and finally, after many hours of research, I found one course in particular that I knew would allow me to dive deeper into several aspects of yoga that I found fascinating, but hadn’t had an opportunity to explore in much detail:

 

Ayurveda

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Therapeutic Yoga

 

Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a few things in common – both are ancient systems based on five elements inspired by nature; the theory being that each of these elements are present within our bodies, and we function best when we are able to achieve a state of balance between each element. When a person in India feels unwell, they might visit an Ayurvedic doctor to get advice on which of their elements is out of balance, and how to bring things back to into equilibrium using herbs, medicines, and specially selected foods. Similarly, in Chinese medicine when a person is unwell they might visit a traditional Chinese medicine doctor for acupuncture, cupping, and herbs to feel better again. Prevention, rather than cure, is one of the main principles of both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Instead of waiting for a serious malady to present itself, an individual’s quality of life is examined to provide an insight into what might benefit the person.

 

The difference between these two systems and Western medicine is that, in the West, we treat the disease, not the patient. In hospitals in the Western world, we’re diagnosed based on our most obvious physical symptoms (heart rate, cholesterol, hormone levels, blood tests) without giving any consideration to the other factors that might be influencing our poor health (mental and emotional challenges, stress, tension, fatigue). Don’t get me wrong, I staunchly believe that we would be nowhere without Western medicine, and that in many cases the provision of medication and antibiotics is essential to providing the first step towards healing for people suffering from physical and mental distress. However, it’s been my belief for a long time now that Eastern therapies are an invaluable counterpart to the way that we manage our health. During my training, this concept of customising yoga classes to the individual culminated in our final assignment: to design a therapeutic yoga program for a particular person, or group of people, and to use a wide range of tools to support the holistic wellness of the body, mind, and spirit.

 

This training has been incredible, and I can’t believe how much fantastic content has been packed into one huge month! In addition to the elements I’ve already mentioned, there has also been a big focus on yin yoga, functional anatomy, adjusting, and above all the opportunity to share ideas, feedback, and thought-provoking conversations with my peers every day about how we can support our respective communities through the practice of yoga. A group of 19 people from all over the world has so much to teach one another. I’m grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow in my teaching, and I’ll be travelling home on Friday with a new understanding of what yoga can be when we put dogma aside, and approach all things with a curious mind and an open heart.

 

 

One Week In India - My 300hr YTT Experience So Far!

Greetings from India, where I’m currently spending some time in South Goa for a 300 hour intensive teacher training course! We’ve just finished the first week of a month-long program, so I’m a quarter of the way through, and since I’m currently sitting at a café with very reliable wifi (not a common occurrence) I’d thought I’d take the opportunity to write a quick blog post about my experience thus far.

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Letting Go: A Control Freak's Approach To Yoga

Have you ever been called a control freak? I have. It’s not my favourite term in the world, but I can hardly argue with it when it’s used as a descriptor for my approach to life. Since I’m the first to admit that I struggle to let go and relinquish control in daily life, I thought I’d unpack this myth a little, and share some of my ‘control freak’ insights in the process.

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Falling Forwards: My Teacher Training Experience

As a new year starts to grind into motion, many of us become inspired to make changes to our lifestyles by beginning the year with some serious goal-setting. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, take a solo trip, or just start some healthier and mindful habits – and stick to them. This time last year, I set myself a goal to complete my yoga teacher training before the year was out. 

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