I feel like I could be a tree. I even look like one: I’m tall, my hair is always all over the place – like branches trying to reach higher and let the sun shine through them. With each gust of wind I bend to one side and then the other – sometimes intensely like in a storm, and sometimes just flowing along with the soft breeze, but always having my roots firm in the ground. That’s the way that I am, a thousand miles per hour but also chill and full of thoughts that never stop.
Since I was a kid I kick off my shoes as soon as I can, to have my feet in contact with the earth. That, for me, is one of the best things in life. It’s the way that I found to feel connected with the vast world in which we live, I love feeling where my steps land and the slight nuance found in each of them. On the other side, my mind is always flying, fast like a rocket, and sometimes even getting lost.
The anxiety that exists within a restless mind like mine is for sure my biggest challenge. It gives me the strength to move forward, but also stresses me out and gives me an urgency about the things that happen here and now.
Words come out easily. I’ve found that writing is my outlet, it’s a way of materializing what goes around inside my head.
I can’t talk about me and not mention that I am a mother. Since the beginning of my pregnancy I could feel that a lot was going to change. I suffered a lot with morning sickness and it wasn’t only in the mornings. I basically felt sick all day long. At that time I couldn’t see the reason for all of that, but now I understand that I had to literally throw away everything that no longer belonged to my life. I had to let go of the aspects of my life that would no longer make sense after my son was born. I lost a lot of weight, spent weeks in bed, didn’t feel like doing anything.
At the time I worked at an international media company and one day my boss told me that I had to know that the baby that was growing inside me was far more important than any job I had, that the child’s well-being should be my priority, this was going to be the human that I was going to love the most.
I thought I was irreplaceable at my job, that the projects I worked on couldn’t go on without me and I had to let go of this need to be in control, had to calm down my lack of patience and give up pursuing material gains. The months I spent in bed were crucial to trigger this change. When I finally went back to work I already saw things in a different way.
Motherhood changed me more than I could ever imagine. I had everything planned. Created spreadsheets with the amounts of every single thing the baby would need, I has a schedule that had to be followed in order for everything to be ready before the baby was born. Then BOOM! Life once again forced me to see that I am not in control. Martin was born way before his due date, on an unforgettable Friday, right before Carnival. And just like that I had to say goodbye to my dear plans, and welcome a whole new reality. Everything worked out and I was able to dive into motherhood, to be with this new human being that I truly loved more than anything, for him I found that necessary strength to face my fears.
When maternity leave ended I couldn’t even think about the possibility of leaving my baby with someone else. I negotiated a few more months but they were gone faster than I imagined and I still wasn’t ready to go back into the workforce. At least not in the way I used to, at the office from 9am until 7pm, it just didn’t work for me anymore. I had already understood that I was replaceable for my employer but not for my kid. I faced the fear of leaving behind a great job, with all the benefits involved with it, and with the support of my family I decided that it was time to let it go. I changed my lifestyle to be able to afford been with my baby and to be able to there for him and watch him grow. I breastfeed for as long as I wanted, with the necessary calmness, something that every woman should have the right to do.
I figure that living with less also works just fine, I don’t need most of the things I used to believe were necessary. I prioritize what is important to our family, we don’t eat out very often, but on the other hand I buy local and organic foods to cook high quality and delicious meals at home. We go to parks to get some fresh air, go for walks with the dogs, spend time together, we even nap together, things I would not be able to do frequently if I didn’t have what I consider the most precious thing in life: time to spend with my son.
I am learning a lot. As Martin evolves, so do I. I am connecting with my emotional side, setting myself free from the stereotypes that don’t allow me to live my life the way that I want.
It’s a gradual process but I feel that as the days pass I can better throw myself to the wind and flow with it. Just as the tree I have always seen myself as. I understand that plans fall apart, or change, that things sometimes just don’t happen as you had hoped, but one way or another we always end up exactly where we were supposed to be.
During this process I found myself going back to cooking, which has been very special for me. I believe I could say that I found or, to tell you the truth, that I reconnected with something that actually inspires me.
I remember that when I was five years-old I already used to love spending time in the kitchen, specially baking sweet treats. We had a cook, Maria, a very sweet and special soul. I loved to watch her bake cakes and a famous Brazilian sweet called brigadeiro. A few years later, when I was around 12 years old, Flávia replaced her. She was also an amazing cook and a very special human being–always happy, and always eager to learn. We got along very well since the beginning and I learned a lot from her. She was very patient with me, helping me make cookies to sell at school. During my teenage years, every week I came up with a different diet, and Flávia would always help me to prepare the meals I wanted and always with a smile on her face. At the time I thought I had to lose weight and the funniest thing is that at some point I did lose the couple of extra kilograms that bothered me, but that only happened when I stopped focusing on diets and only worried about being healthy.
I am going to be honest here, I still have a thing for sweets, when I have lunch at my Grandma’s I just can’t resist eating her pudding, it’s the best on earth, I swear. But that’s ok, I had a healthy breakfast, full of fruits and whole grain cereals. If it’s the exception to the rule and your usual daily meals are full of fresh and healthy foods, it’s actually healthy. At least, that’s what I believe.
In 2011 I spent a year living in Canada with my husband and my sister. We lived in a small apartment with a VERY small kitchen, but at the time it just didn’t feel small. We used to spend a lot of time cooking together. I started going to farmers markets and did a short documentary about community gardens that opened my eyes to the importance of knowing more about the foods we choose to eat. During that year I also did a culinary course, learned the basics of cooking and had the opportunity to learn in an industrial kitchen.
Naturally I started passing on to my sister my connection for cooking healthy and flavorful meals. At the time I didn’t notice what I was doing, we just enjoyed spending time together but that way she also developed a good relationship with cooking. It was the first time I had the opportunity to teach someone about something that is so natural for me. She now cooks very well and is always doing the recipes from my blog which makes me very happy. I am so proud of her, I planted the seed and she sprouted by herself.
Currently I live in São Paulo, in a calm neighborhood with lots of trees around, and where small (very small) monkeys appear every now and then. I spend my days taking care of Martin and our two dogs, writing and cooking. I spend hours thinking of different ways of combining foods, how to make healthier versions of popular dishes, and make sure Martin eats a wide variety of flavours as often as possible.
When I share recipes on social media and receive positive feedbacks my eyes sparkle, I feel so happy to be able to help other families eat better meals. I am inspired to keep looking for new ideas and to continue spreading to the world out there that eating healthy can be way easier than we imagine.
Am I going back to work with media and television content? Maybe. But it will look very different than before.