The new year is upon us. Without a doubt, 2017 was one of the most challenging years I have experienced so far during my 36 rotations around the sun. On January 1 2017, the oncologist came and sat with my parents and I on Dad’s hospital bed and told him that his melanoma had become an uncontrolled freight train and there would be an inevitable collision. That freight train hit on the 20th January, the day Dad struggled for his last breath. He held on with every single ounce of strength he could, he absolutely did not want to go. I can hardly sit here and write about it without feeling that choke of emotion sitting right in my throat – almost one year on. So, after this harrowing experience, 2017 saw me take a sabbatical, a step away from my career. I resigned from my job as a university academic, taught yoga and spent the majority of my time focusing on my role as Mum and Wife. Inevitably, this brought challenges, mainly financial, as being a yoga teacher whilst it might sound enviable and glamorous, is mostly a love job and sadly, love doesn’t pay the mortgage. I have never been one to worry too much about money, but when you go from having a stable, well paid job, to a very unstable, uncertain and generally low paying one, a heavy spotlight is suddenly shined upon that area of life. My ego took a battering, I cried regularly and felt like a failure most of the year. Thank God for the unwavering support of my husband, my friends and my own personal yoga and meditation practice. However, from this frustration, Chill Mama Wellness was born. A way for me to share my love of working with women to promote wellness and peacefulness. I have loved every minute of nurturing this small business and the people within it. In early December, after yet another day of my mind questioning my own worthiness (a daily battle), I received this message from one of my clients that put all that questioning to rest (and made me cry, again!). This client had attended prenatal yoga with me all through her pregnancy, attended an Active and Mindful Birth Workshop and also came for a massage late in her pregnancy. It went something like this:
“I had the most amazing labour and birthing experience and I have you and prenatal yoga to thank for a lot of that! Throughout my contractions (back labour again) I could hear you saying “breathe in through your nose, and out through your nose” which helped me stay calm and focused but most importantly when the contractions stopped, all I could think of was to “enjoy the break – don’t worry/stress about how the next lost will feel, just enjoy the break”! I got through a lot of the last stronger contractions in supported childs pose lying over the peanut ball gently rocking and only needed gas for the last little bit and pushing! Thank you very much for all of your guidance and your help in giving me the most amazing experience. xx”
Needless to say, after this message, I felt reassured that what I was working on was worthwhile, that I was making a difference to somebody and to keep on going, even though the road less traveled is tough on my soft feet (and ego and bank balance!). So, now that my sabbatical is coming to an end, I need to take heed of my own words. I feel I wasted a lot of 2017 worrying about what I was going to do next. I didn’t enjoy the break as much as I could have. I felt like most of the time I needed a mind epidural away from the relentless thoughts of “what next?”, “where will the next dollar come from” , “am I good enough” etc. It’s my pattern, I know, and I’m officially taking this moment to say that in 2018 I will be continuing to work on breaking this habit – the worry habit. As well as focusing on growing Chill Mama Wellness to give more Mamas opportunities to have birth experiences like the one above. My words for 2018 are minimalism, strength, courage and determination.
I have also promised multiple people on multiple occasions, the recipe for my Raw Peppermint Slice that features for afternoon tea as part of the Active and Mindful Birth Workshops, so here it is (I’m a bit of this, bit of that kind of cook, so apologies if it’s not super accurate):
- 2 cups of dates (soaked for 10-15 mins in boiling water)
- 2 cup of nuts (I like hazelnuts and almonds)
- 2/3 cup cacao powder
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup coconut
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 5-10 drops DoTerra Peppermint oil (depending on how minty you want it)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or a scraped vanilla pod if you’re feeling fancy)
Blitz all the dry ingredients in the food processor until fairly fine. Drain the dates leaving some of the liquid behind (about 2-3 tbsp), add to the food processor with the peppermint oil, coconut oil and vanilla. Blitz until it all comes together. Press into a lined slice tin (I use a tupperware slice container with a lid) and set in the fridge for a couple of hours, then cut into squares and enjoy. You can also top with a mix of melted 85-90% dark chocolate and coconut oil for extra deliciousness (can’t remember the exact ratios, a bit of dark chocolate and a bit of coconut oil, microwave til runny, mix, pop it on the top of the slice, set in the fridge?!).
For those of you who have attended yoga or birth education or massages with me since August 2017 when Chill Mama Wellness was first born, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! I am quietly and humbly looking towards 2018 with optimism and a wish to facilitate more peaceful births and relaxed Mamas, including myself (minus the birthing part, just the relaxation will do!).
By Amy Vaccaro.