Friday
Oct162015

When the heart breaks...

In the last three years, I have had a lover in another country.

But before I dive in, let's rewind the clock...

I was emerging out of one of the most toxic relationships of my life. It brought me down to my knees and shattered every sense of self I had. I plunged myself into my work and dedicated my time and efforts to the craft I humbly offer in every class.
It has been worthwhile and so brilliantly amazing... But I didn't know it until three years ago that there was a piece of me that was lost when I came out of that relationship.

When I met my lover, the gift he gave me was that happy reminder of the woman I once was and would continue evolving to be. A woman who is steadfast in her femininity, powerful with a graceful fragility, courageously vulnerable, comfortable displaying her sensuality and charged with shakti.

And as time passed within the last three years, I've penned outrageously romantic moments with this man. Everything, like a scene from the gooiest romantic film starring the likes of Ryan Gosling

(Like this scene from The Notebook).

 

Our lives will be peppered with people coming in and out of our spheres of existence. Each of them will offer you a valuable lesson... Sometimes, these lessons are hard, sometimes these lessons are beautiful, sometimes these lessons are lifting and sometimes these lessons will break your heart.

Human nature is a funny thing and we hold on and replay and hope to relive certain aspects. But time... Well, it doesn't work like that.

I was gifted with the realization that I could reclaim the woman I left in the dust in my journey as a teacher over 3 years ago. But, drunk with ambrosia like feelings... I started to hold on to something else in hopes to replay and relive those wildly romantic moments. In effect, shutting me off from anybody else and anchoring me to an idea, a scene from a movie, a piece of wonderland.

And so... I bid farewell with so much love and so much respect for this man. The universe conspired and worlds collided to bring our paths together again in this version of our lives. A touch and kiss so tender and familiar that it must have happened in a previous lifetime... It's just not the right timing in this one.

A great and inspirational friend said to me once, "time is all but an illusion. Time-ING, is everything". (Thanks Peter Jack!)

And so... my heart breaks in a strangely beautiful way. The seams, splitting apart and exposing the raw and authentic vulnerability that lies within us all. I wept for the loss and reserve the right to cry again at a later date, perhaps when I am reminded of him. But, there was a sense of calm even as I cried because I knew. I knew.

When the heart breaks... It opens.

When your heart breaks, it blasts open

Monday
Sep282015

That's a wrap...

When my friend Amy originally told me she was running Surf & Yoga retreats under Oshiis, I was so happy for her to pursue and forge forward in her dreams.

When she asked if I would be a part of it, I didn't hesitate to sign my name up after hearing everything they would offer. I am always one that wants to provide an experience for my peeps to remember forever and always going the extra mile.

The Oshiis Surf & Yoga experience was such an amazing thing to be a part of and I am honoured to be a chapter in this journey and so blessed that so many took a leap of wild faith and joined me and Amy in Costa Rica.

When it comes to leading retreats, all I can do is figure out the logistics on my end, cross my fingers and then throw it out to the universe. I never know what is going to happen and I am always humbled and so grateful for the way it turns out.

Being surrounded in a group of like minded individuals who come as they are (authentically raw) is such a rare treat and something I hold and honour. I had so much fun learning to catch the waves, trying to zip down the line and laughing over many shared stories with so many amazing women.

Props for the new friends I have made... Wow! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. My heart is so damn full of love, good times and laughs. I am so happy to share the other side of who I am when I'm not teaching with you and looking forward to the QT with you when we are back home or bumping into each other in our travels.

Shoutout to Amira... The actual woman behind "that's what she said". She IS she people are referring to. I had so much fun laughing and dancing the sweaty nights away.

To amazing Gilbert Brown and Rigo muffin... You two are the best surf instructors a girl could ask for. Thanks for being so amazing at teaching, for coaching and guiding us into those waves. My first surf camp experience will be hard to beat. #oshiissurfergirls #rambutanis

And finally to Amy... You blow my mind. Thank you for this F*** yes moment! Thank you for this experience. I am so proud to be a chapter in this story and definitely eager to see everything bloom for you.

Coincidentally, after my last retreat in Bali and after this retreat in Costa Rica... It coincided with lunar eclipse.
And with any lunar eclipses... It signals a compelling time to shed old and fruitless habits and ways of thinking. It heralds in an opportune time to recreate your story to aid the flow to a new way of being, living, moving and dreaming.

More and more, I move further away from a rocky moment in my life when I first started leading retreats (some know the story but for now it's a moment for another time when I feel stronger to tell the tale). Transforming the retreat experience into magic, love, courage and strength. Thank you everybody involved beyond what you might know at the moment.

Costa Rican Caribbean life has put some things into perspective for me and so many new ideas to sit on, hatch and foster.

I. AM. READY.

Sunday
Jun212015

Fajah's day!

While I love both of my parents, it's undeniable that my dad and I are cut from the same cloth. Down to mannerisms, the way we think, our habits and the sparse eyebrows (thanks dad... haha).

Growing up in a Chinese family means that overt expressions of love are never really done. We don't hug, we don't say I love you, we don't say I miss you and he was pretty strict growing up. But, there's always deep love and fierce protection of the family and I have always known that and have never questioned it.

I remember from a young age that my dad was always listening. If I said something about craving a certain thing, the next day, it would be waiting for me after school or that's where the family would go for dinner. That applies not only to food (which is obviously very important in the Mak family) but to everything in life. I wouldn't say that my sister and I were spoiled children but our lives were made easy, rich and full and everything we really wanted, we had.

My dad came to Canada at 18 years old to go to University and left his home in Hong Kong and would never return (except to visit). As I get older, it gets more obvious all the sacrifices my dad made in order for his young family to have everything. The man works hard (still working) and makes sure that he gives my sister and I every single opportunity to thrive, to become something and to help shape us into the women we are.

He is eccentric in his way, funny without trying to be, a softie as he ages and so loving even though he might try to play that one off. Every family works hard in their own ways and my experience growing up in an immigrant Asian family as first generation is definitely that my dad (and mom) worked hard so that my sister and I could have an amazing life in Canada. If I grew up back home in Hong Kong, I doubt very much that I would be a yoga teacher or that I would have travelled to so many amazing places in the world and to be able to carve out my own life. 

One of my favourite memories with my dad is during a meteor shower way back when I was in junior high. My sister and I drove out with my dad at the very wee hours of the morning to watch the showers and it was just so amazing. My dad... always wanting us to witness the world! I recalled when I was young that I asked my dad if he could go anywhere in the entire world where that might be... he answered Egypt. It wasn't until a two years ago that my dad and I went to Egypt together. You see, in the years following it became something that just fell down his list of priorities because taking care of his family, making sure we were set for life, helping me buy my first home, moving my sister (twice) to two different sides of Canada and saving for the proverbial rainy day. That was such an incredible experience to see Egypt, but to see it with my dad. :) Memories, I'll cherish forever...

I am honoured, I am blessed and I am grateful.

Dad, you did more than I ever imagined or deserved. Thank you.

And to all the dads and to the badass moms too!! Happy day!

Wednesday
May272015

Safe and sound

At 0515 yesterday morning, it was a rude awakening to our sweet little apartment complex as a fire broke out on somebody's 2nd floor balcony. It took till nearly 1400 for the final batch of residents unaffected to quickly pop in to grab a few items out of their homes.

Have to thank the Fire Department for the quick response and being able to keep the fire from spreading into the 66 unit building. We did lose 4 units to the fire and my heart breaks for their loss. Units close by and under will suffer from water damage and smoke damage. It's a very sad thing, since we were all just getting over the flood.

Aside:
Public Safety Announcement... Putting a cigarette out in a potted plant is not the same as dirt. Potting soil is a fire accelerant and a hazard! It's mixed with peat moss, vermiculite, bark, wood chips and more. All of which, when dry can be easily sparked. Then all the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous (the components of fertilizer), will accelerate the fire once lit.

Even though my heart breaks, it's also filled with love and gratitude.
It was beautiful to see community pull together without question and without hesitation. On a whim, I called into Phil & Sebastian via the wonderful Jacquôt, and they brewed up a huge container full of coffee while we all waited.
Despite being directly affected by the fire, Maia and Jayme from UNA sent over a tonne of their amazing pizzas and their signature kale cesar salad for us all to eat while we waited for fire crews to bring us all back in one by one.

My phone could hardly keep battery because it just kept going off with emails, phone calls, messages, tweets, etc... Of people checking in and offering their help. I had a warm bed with my name on it within hours!! My Lululemon family responded straight away to get clothes to me and to people who lost their clothes. And Dr. Mark Ross of Eye Spy Optometry rushing to help residents get their vision back with glasses. I mean... Wowowowowowowow!!!

I am SO beyond filled with love, with honour to have these people in my life and so inspired to do better myself.

Wow.
Just wow.
Just fucking wow!!!!

Oh... The wing my unit is on is totally unaffected and I am one of the very lucky ones who are just displaced at the moment. Thank you for checking in!

Friday
May012015

The year is 2083

 

My recent trip back to Asia, I made it a priority to spend as much time as I could with my paternal grandparents (Yeye and mama). Specifically, my grandfather who is 96 years old now.

The signs of old age seemed exponentially more apparent than when I saw him just 10 short months ago.

And I wonder, what would it be like to live close to 100 years. An entire century of witnessing the world.
Both my grandparents have seen all five of their children get married and have seen their 7 grandchildren grow up. In addition, they lived through the Second World War, civil war, the depression and the boom of Hong Kong's population.

The story behind the Mak family is quite an interesting one and certainly one that I would want to learn more about because details are foggy.

Yeye's father arrived to work on the railroad in the states. He worked hard and sent money back to his family whenever he could. He survived and started up a laundromat where he continued to work abroad till the end of his life (unable to get his family over, he never saw them again).

His death was discovered when there were several days when the laundromat didn't open. My great grandfather's friend went in and found that he had passed away. He also found all this money my great grandfather was saving. I do not know this man's name but acknowledge that he started a series of events that would start a domino effect all the way up to 2015 where I stand today.

He took all the money, went back to China and found my Yeye. At that point, Hong Kong was still a port city without much development. This mystery gentleman gave my Yeye advice that would change the course and the game. The advice, to take all of the money and buy up as much land as possible in Hong Kong.

A young Yeye with a dream.So, Yeye set on a path to get forged documents to get his family out of China during the war. I don't know why (and need to find out why) but he had to go to Venezuela to get the papers all sorted. Our family name was then changed to Chan so that the family could escape China and get to Hong Kong.

And to Hong Kong he went, bought empty packets of land... And watched as Hong Kong exploded in population. This enabled him to provide for his growing family and have the means to send each of his children to top schools in Hong Kong and to pay the tuition for post-secondary education in Canada.

My dad stayed in Canada to work and after about a year of snail mail love letters to my mom (whom he met on a tour in Thailand), they would marry and shortly later, I'd come into this world.

I don't recall my childhood in Hong Kong but there are many pictures from the 80s posted into picture frames and underneath glass tops on desks all around the flat as well as pictures documenting all the grandchildren growing up. Even the awkward teen picture (haha).

Going back there with more understanding and reflection leaves me in a place of so much gratitude for the rich history of my family. For my great grandfather's sacrifice in leaving his homeland and family for a country he would not know the language, where arduous and back breaking railroad labour would be his day to day, to continue working hard and taking a leap of entrepreneurial gusto and for giving the nugget that would blossom for generations to come. For my Yeye in raising his family with all the opportunities of the world, for my first car (to make getting to school easier for me as I chose a self-directed and self-taught high school with special acceptance nearly 1hr away via public transit), for loving me (he always used to peel my fruit for me after dinner), for being the light that shines for all his family and for pushing each of us to be our best.Mama carefully walks down the stairwell so that she can wave at me while we drive off to the airport (and I want to cry)

My dad being able to do his schooling in Canada would give me the opportunity to grow up with not only the comforts of life but the grand luxury to choose my passion and my path. Being a yoga teacher is definitely a fringe path for an Asian family's child to take and I am only able to do it because of the hard work, sacrifices and love from generations past.

I can only hope that by 2083, I am able to continue forging forward, continue to witness the evolution of self and of the world and to leave a legacy that touches others and changes lives of perhaps my own family.

100 years.
Wow.
So much can be done.

Yeye and mama's first two kids (my uncle and dad)

A younger Yeye and Mama with their young family.

Mama and Yeye today

My dad as a wee boyA young Kate Mak in Hong Kong playing with water (my favourite)