Mom Shanti

Musings on living abroad, motherhood, yoga, and all the in betweens…

pensive sitting… August 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 12:18 pm

The toe is still really hurting.  Fred’s grandmother, the infamous storytelling Elga, told me that now I should understand why this is one of the primary ways that torture is used.   Messing with the extremities.  OUCH.  And yikes!  Elga’s got some kind of thought process going on her little 91 year old tete, let me tell you!

I must admit, though, being stranded on the sofa has given me a chance to think about some things.  Like how I am on facebook WAY too much.  A yoga teacher that I am friends with recently said this, “…fb is not at all helpful in the practice of minding our own business…this is definitely not ‘off the trail’ behaviour…”  You know, just like your mama always told you (or mine anyway).  And it is that exactly that is seriously getting me into a funk after I scroll through people’s posts and new photos and whatnot, it’s just this false sense of connectedness.   We have the info without the connection… Not good.  That connection is what really serves us, the information is really just a minor detail.  Don’t get me wrong, when I need to advertise an event or a workshop or whatever, it’s an amazing place to get the information out there, but I am reaching the point where I seriously need to start drawing the line.  Facebook withdrawal.  We have no television (ok, no cable to be precise,) so being on the internet is really my only source of news, etc, but I am reaching a breaking point, especially in these last few days of not being able to go anywhere but internet sites.

I am also wondering how to take care of and use Echinacea plants.  I recently put a little garden in my backyard, but I haven’t a clue what to do with the lovely blooms.  We are having an English summer here, it feels, which makes for gorgeous gardens, so me planting in the middle of the summer was no probs whatsoever!  One day its 85 and the next we don’t go about 65…  I brought swim diapers with Nash to creche today in order to jinx this confusion of a summer that we have had.  And to think that in a week’s time we will be (ok, depending on the toe status) in Oslo… it doesn’t seem to go above 65 there, period!

Thankfully Nash’s daycare had an extra place for him this afternoon, so I can sit with my foot up.   He was literally squealing as we walked down the sidewalk this morning and he saw Veronique through the glass door.  I am pretty sure he loves it there, and I love that he is Mr. Social with all of his little mates there.  Creche (as its called here) has been closed for the last four weeks, and while we had fun with Sadie Nardini visiting, traipsing through Tuscany and then mending mommy’s toe (Be CAREful, Maman, I have heard more times than I can count), it was very sweet to see him so excited to be back at “school” (as I call it for my big boy.)

peace out…


The insanity of time passage and loss thereof… August 7, 2011

Filed under: Kids,Nyon,Uncategorized — momshanti @ 8:24 pm

Let me just say, the workshop in Mexico was incredibly motivating.  Like, fire in my undies motivating.  So much so that I arrived at

Alesha and I! New partners...

home, met a woman who was itching to do SOMETHING with yoga as much as I, stopped daydreaming about it and took the plunge to start a business with a complete stranger over lunch.  So began Gather, our collaboration together:   We haven’t looked back, and so far we’ve even put on a couple of successful workshops and are in the process of organizing the Geneva Yoga Conference with its founder, Daniel Anner!  Things have been going swimmingly, and I have been managing the start of this business and my lovely little nest relatively well considering, well, we are trying to start a business.

Or so I thought.

I just read a post (holistic , mind you) that “injuries to one’s lower extremities signal a disconnection with foundation.”


Nash and his two cousins.

Going on a week ago, we celebrated the ‘premier aout’ (1st of August) here in Switzerland, comparable to the 4th of July in the States.  Lovely display of fireworks (estimated 1 million for each commune on Lake Geneva!  Not the same recession that the US is feeling right now it seems.)  The following day, Nash and I decided to spend at Grandmaman’s, playing in the yard, jumping on the trampoline, walking to the pool, hanging with the cousins… typical Swiss summer day.  That afternoon post nap, we packed it up and were headed out to pick up Papa from work (and my favorite Thai curry), so I was a little hasty in our departure knowing that I needed to swing by my sister-in-law’s to pick up a lovely table that Fred has inherited.  It has a glass top.  I carried it to the car mindlessly, instead focusing on how I would cool the car more quickly as Nash was sweltering,

THE table.

all pink and sweaty in the back seat.  Even more thoughtlessly thinking of whether or not I would order the curry in advance or just stop by, I turned the table on its side to pop it into my trunk.

Merde, I dropped the glass off the top of the table, and MERDE it shattered on the ground, and MERDE my toe hurts, it must have hit it!  So first I was thinking of how I would pick up all the glass in my sister-in-law’s driveway, when upon closer analysis, I realized that the reason my toe hurt was because I had severed it just below the bottom of the nail bed when the glass hit.  My toenail, rather than facing the blue Swiss skies were actually facing forward.  Yes, forward.

So its cheaper to sew the old toenail on as a bandaid it turns out.

To make a long story kind of short, Fred came in a taxi and drove me to ‘urgence’ and I probably spent the next 4 and half hours there having my toe sewn back together.  And I cannot help but wonder if I will even have a lovely smooth nail again, even though I know I should be thanking my luck that I a toe at all.

And so now, my bum feeling as though it will sprout roots and grow deep into the folds of the sofa, I finally have a second to come back to a space that I created almost a year ago when we moved to Nyon.  Oh the neglect.  For those of you checking this out, thank you for your patience.  I will try to make more of an effort now that the novelty of ‘starting a business’ is wearing off, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the work is any less, that I am sure of!

What I realize is that this little base of a soapbox that I have been writing from was, in a way, my journal of keeping track of comings and goings and just little episodes of our life here.  And I miss sharing that.  It seems so sad that it simply comes to a screeching halt after the climax that was Mexico!

So, back to foundation, connecting a little to my root- to my expression of what is going on around me- that creative outlet that in some ways I completely attribute to the latest chapter/adventure.  I know that letting some of that expression out gave me way more space and loads more confidence to move forward with Gather.   There is so much to be said in getting the word on the page… (literally!) Writing the story in a way that makes you shine.  And knowing that every single situation holds that potential…  Not that this last story is so much that, I was anything but shiny last Tuesday, but here I am. Planted to my couch and back to tippity tapping on MomShanti.  It’s a start!

And this is such a new chapter that maybe it needed a dramatic break before it began.  Motherhood is not so different than it was before, although I do feel now there is a little more juggling going on with schedules, but if anything I am the better for it.  I am chosing to participate in the life that I want to live.  And the best part about it?

Living as an example for my son.


aahhhhoooommmmm…. January 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 1:13 pm

Yes, that is indeed a big fat sigh of relief after a much needed week in Tulum, Mexico for a yoga retreat.  Its a relaxing ahhh followed by a grounding and centering OM.  I packed my bags and headed back across the Atlantic for a week-long focus on my well-being with Sadie Nardini, an experience that has most definitely recentered me after almost 3 years of full time baby-ing.

Tearing myself away from Nash was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  We celebrated his second birthday on Saturday in Lausanne with a whole herd of our family and friends in tow.  Nash didn’t really get that all the hoop-la was, in fact, for him until the birthday song was sung and everyone in the room was fixated in his direction.  And this is a photo of the realization that, aha! I am the center of attention… this is all about ME!  

The cutest part of the party was the gift ‘ceremony.’  The organizer of the event pulled two little rattan chairs out, and sat Nash down in one of them. (I was shocked that he sat still long enough for this to ensue.)  One by one, each child, or pair of siblings, came and sat in the chair as Nash opened the present from them and then promptly said, “Merci.”  It was adorable, and surprisingly, only one of the children tried to reclaim her gift!  Nash loved the party, especially the gifts, and the joy in his eyes abated my guilt if at least only temporarily.

By the afternoon that day, I was a complete wreck.  Crying at the drop of a hat at the thought of leaving Nash and flying to Mexico, my anxiety peaked that night as I tried reading a story through sobs.  Nash never even batted an eye.  During the week with me gone, he took everything in stride, even when we saw each other on Skype.  He stayed with Fred’s mother, which is just around the corner from Fred’s office, so it turned out very well for all involved.  This was also a big deal for Fred’s family as it was their first time having Nash all to themselves without me hovering about, so needless to say, last week was monumental for many reasons and for many people!

As hard as it was to leave, I knew that it was necessary.  I had both positive and negative feedback before I left and somehow, it didn’t matter.  It was simply something that I knew had to happen.  So, early Sunday morning I boarded that plane and headed out, stopping along the way to meet newborn baby Stella, the daughter of one of my favorite people (Heather) in Miami during a layover.  (Beautiful! Such a poetic beginning to this amazing experience.)

My arrival in Tulum was very late, and I was deliriously tired, so I didn’t have a chance to check anything out at all.  The only thing I did notice, slipping into the oblivion of unconsciousness was that the ocean was washing up on the shore right outside my open window.  I took my shoes off and only put them back on again for bike rides to Mayan ruins, fish tacos, and an amazing swim in a ‘sweet water’ cenote just down the road from our eco-bungalow (no-paper-in-the-toilet-eco, whoa!)

The week was spent pondering yogic concepts that cannot help but bring one back to that space deep inside the heart where joy, integrity and love reside.  It was such a peaceful passage of six days, I hardly even saw them go by.  Caribbean Sea fish on the plate caught that day, mango margarita’s, fish tacos with pickled onions and a simple sliver of avocado wrapped in homemade tortillas, pico de gallo on everything …  fresh, local, delicious, and I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Right now as I sit trying to paint a picture of this week of intense thinking, practicing and relaxing, I realize that so much of what I lived is impossible to put into words.  The quiet talks with strangers who became dear friends within the quick passage of time spent in Tulum, the silent walks for hours on the beach, scribbling words to myself about life, love, patience, respect, generosity, gratefulness and *astonishment* in my little black journal and then laughing with my new friends at the frivolity of all of those exact concepts in a mango margarita hum, Mayan healers and their magic ways….  all of it seems like this surreal memory that I only have to mull over in my mind now.  And yet, enshrouded in this haze of post-retreat bliss, I am a better me.  And that was the point exactly.

Happy Birthday, Nash! 


Season’s Merry Greetings! December 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 6:23 pm

So this is the first white Christmas in South Carolina in something like 50 years!  It made an already great day even better for us as the rain puffed up throughout the afternoon and turned into full fledged fatty flakes by dinnertime.  In Pelzer it is so picturesque today after a night of it falling continuously, so couldn’t help but take advantage of the photo op this monring.   We arrived in SC about a week ago after a HELL of a trip… 3 hour delay in Geneva, missed flight and thus night spent in Washington, 4 hour delay the following morning… and seems like this is trying to become a habit for us with flights.  Our flight to New Orleans today was under travel advisory, so rather than risk it, we decided to postpone the departure a day and play in the snow instead!



a week in Nyon… November 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 1:02 pm

On the boat to Yvoire

(Sigh…)  They left today.  Remember all that I said in my last post about maybe people living so far away is better somehow?  BS.  I call BS on my own blog.  Because they left today and now my heart is aching not only for myself, but for Nash who, once we arrived back at home (me sniffling the whole way), Nash looked at me and asked, “Mom?”  No, Mom’s on a plane.  And Christmas is feeling decades away, let me tell you.

We awoke to temperatures that plunged into the 30’s this morning.  I think the green in the leaves is on its last leg with this kind of weather. Last week was really almost perfect, though.  Dad wasn’t feeling great after the long travel and a sore hip, so we didn’t venture too far away from home.  We did Morges, Rolle


and Yvoire…  each for their respective patisserie/coffee/filets de perches stops along the way!  Living here I will admit that I love becoming a total tourist when tourists come to visit me.  I completely indulge in afternoon millefeuille (a bit like Napoleons if you’ve ever been to New Orleans), mid-morning croissant or pain au chocolat (just finished the last one with Nash as our dessert after lunch today.)  Apart from a haze that kept us from seeing the Mont Blanc in the distance (I swear this always happens when they come), it was a great week.  And for Nash to have all eyes on him, he loved every second!  After bathtime every night was a little show of him skipping and running and jumping and dancing around the living room…  his little personality is really blossoming, especially with an audience!

We also took advantage of the dairy farm down the road.  Nash loves going here and I did a wee photo shoot while we were there.

As you will notice from most of the photos, there is actually very little interaction between Nash and the ‘moos,’ as he likes to refer to them.  This is more about the mini-tractors, stroller, and the big litter box, I mean sand box, that he digs around in with shovels that look as though they’ve passed through many a hand here at the dairy farm.  It is moments like these that are my ultimate test of suppressing my urge to immediately douse my child in antibacterial anything on hand!  Having a 22 month old, one most let go of most notions of what cleanliness might have been prior to this age.  The dirtier and muckier and stickier (actually, he abhors being sticky, its hilarious!), and grimier the better.  Puddles are are oasis to the child, he is like a fly on, well, you know, so I am trying to bring myself to not be attatched to the adorable boots and shoes that I dress him in because inevitably they will become filthy, there is just no getting around it.

But for me, the dairy farm is all about the cows.  I love the sounds of the clanging bells and watching the pigs spring from one side of the pen to the other in anticipation of a snack.  Wish Nash shared that kind of appetite!  When I have a franc or two on me I fill up at the auto-milk-mat which is open 24-7.  It is raw milk so they give a quick description of how to pasteurize it, something I rarely do considering we usually finish the liter within a day.  Nash is becoming more and more a fan of milk, thankfully.  So yeah, this really is one of our favorite hang-outs as of late.  The only down-side of visiting the farm is the ‘au revoir.’  I am not kidding, they must think I am pinching my child the way he freaks when its time to go.  Even after a ritual saying goodbye to all the dusty toys and a discussion on when we’ll be back (usually within a day or so), he still loses it when we have to go.  But the fact of the matter is that right now, anything I need to happen with Nash is fascilitated with a ‘want to go see the moo’s?’ and seeing as I usually do try to follow through with what I say, we make visits all the time.   Bribery?  Most certainly.  Effective?  Hell yes.



my muffin obsession…. September 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 11:29 am

Have I mentioned that I LOVE making muffins?  Not just a little.  Really, I thought for a while that I would start a business baking and selling muffins out of my little Siemens oven in my little Swiss kitchen.   I even went so far as to ‘sell’ a batch to one of my yoga students.  I have never been so stressed and had such a meltdown as I did that morning in preparation for delivery.  It almost put a damper on my passion, but not for long.  It did, however, make me realize that I am not cut out for that right now with a wee man running around and all (and that I commend those who have figured out how to be equipped for that!)  I digress…

But seriously, I am not quite sure of the rationale behind Swiss boulangeries not being able to produce a proper muffin.   They can make croissants and eclairs, tarte au whatever-you-like and ramequins, anything and everything chocolat…  and yet, somehow when it comes to the muffin they are either a) not interested or b) incapable of producing anything worth consuming the calories.   In order to get my fix, I have to do it myself. What this means is that I am always on the hunt for new recipes.  Zucchini Pine Nut, Sweet Potato Cupcake muffins, Multigrain Blueberry…  and since I am married to a bit of a health nut (he would adamantly deny this, but seriously, who would scrape icing off of a cupcake?), I usually do try to find things that are, well, a bit healthier.

I actually can’t take credit for my latest batch.  I hosted my first fete (birthday) here in Nyon for my mother-in-law (belle-maman in French, which means ‘beautiful mother’…  only the French would endear the mother-in-law in such a way, right?  But she is lovely, I must admit…)  I was on the hunt for recipes for the festivities and it was actually MY mother (equally as lovely) who stumbled upon the absolute perfect recipe for the occasion.  It is a from a website that we both love and visit frequently (her probably more so than I) called DesignSponge.

this was the idea for the cake

Oh dear deliciousness with a healthy undertone heaven.  Pistachio Olive Oil Fig Compote Layer Cake with Cream Cheese frosting.  And I substituted agave nectar for the sugar to make it slightly less guilt inducing.  But let’s face it.  Icing is icing.  And I absolutely smothered those suckers in it.  Best prepared with a big hunk of butter, an even bigger hunk of full fat cream cheese and as refined as you like powdered sugar.  YUM.  It was amazing.  I actually botched the first batch baking in a tin that was too deep and not well greased.  Upon turning it out, it fell out in three distinctly separate and un-rejoin-able (if there is a word for this concoction that I have just put together, do tell) pieces.  Morning of the party with Nash dumping the contents of an entire box of Puffins cereal (am) AND his bowl of green peas (pm) onto the floor coupled with having to do TWO batches of the cake…  I was not a happy Martha to say the least.  But, in effect (and happily so) what we were left with were handfuls of cake which went very well casually schmeared with the extra icing (I doubled the recipe).

muffin sandwiches

As for the party, we took a stroll to the dairy farm to get our fresh milk for the weekend and to feed the cows.  The adventure was complete with a few meltdowns between the cousins fighting over who would ride piggy-back on Grandmaman, a dig in the community children’s sandbox at the farm, glasses of fresh milk for the kiddos, a frolic with the geese (actually they were more running/flapping frantically FROM the kiddos), and a visit with the pigs (I can’t really handle the squealing ever since Hannibal, so sans moi.)  This worked up quite an appetite for the party-goers, I must say!

My intention was that it be kid-friendly, and it was, but what that also meant was that most of it looked a bit slopped together (and thereby not worth photographing.)  Even the muffins are a bit scrappy, but something about the structure of them on the little wooden paddle, well, that I felt ok about sharing. (as soon as we dig the cable to connect my fancy Canon to the computer, I will add it;)


Artichoke-Spinach Dip (a throwback to parties back in Greenville on McDaniel Avenue hosted by Mom.  Always a staple at her functions as I remember, and I always loved it!)

Southern (kinda) Purple Cole Slaw with Avocado (it was pretty amped up with all the naughtiness of traditional cole slaw, but had to add a little essential fatty goodness to the mix.  An homage to my South Carolinian heritage for my Swiss family.  Next party I will be attempting pulled pork as finding this is as much a challenge as a good muffin.)

Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie (just as it sounds, but for veg I tried to get a little creative and added red peppers to the mix.  Intended to put mushrooms, but they got a little ‘saucy’- and not in a good way- before I could use them.  Nash’s favorite dish at the present, always with a variation on the veggies- Eggplant has been the biggest hit so far!)

Zen Sangria (for the grown-up’s but the look of it was VERY tempting for kiddos.  Looked like Hawaiian punch but was a fiesty version with Green Tea infused vodka in the mix!  Fun times.)

So that was pretty much our weekend.  Sunday I did a morning yoga workshop with Chris Chavez ( at the newest yoga studio in Geneva (AOM Yoga).  Feeling it this morning as he had us trying to push up from Lotus into Crow (legs still bound in lotus) and directly into Handstand.  Yikes!  But fun challenges to spice up my own practice a bit…

A bientot, y’all!


friends. (sigh) September 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — momshanti @ 10:13 am

So the last few weeks have definitely been some of my most challenging, as I mentioned yesterday.  (And yes, you are not mistaken, I am completely trigger happy with the ‘Publish’ option these early days as a new blogger, two days in a row, wuh-bam.)   Not only was there the uproot from Geneva to Nyon, and then the passing of my husband’s father after quick, vicious bout with lung cancer, but there was also Nash’s rite of passage into the 18 month old realm of absolute chaos, and then the realization that most of my friends in this expatriate haven of French-speaking Switzerland have already or will be in the near future, leaving me.

I know, I know, woe is me and whatnot, especially after my ruminations yesterday about the sensory beauty that surrounds me here in Switzerland, but come on.  Six years.  A best friend a year.  You do the math, that’s a lot of time spent cultivating quite a bit of closeness and then saying goodbye to that presence in my life, at least from a physical standpoint.  And really even more than that because seriously, it is hard to keep up that tight ‘So, whatcha’ up to today’ on the telephone from thousands of miles away.

And so here I sit feeling a bit sorry for myself that one of my closest mommy-friends is moving away in a few months.  She hasn’t even left yet and I am already grumpy about it.  There are times when I lament, ‘ If I know that a new friend is leaving in the next year, she’s out.’ Or, ‘I am not wasting my time on expats anymore…’  Or even still, ‘Whhhhhy do I keep making friends from my own cultural/linguistic background, I must only befriend with Swiss women, they aren’t leaving anytime soon!’

But then I realize how my abandonment (ok, so I am being a little dramatic) is spawning this blog in the first place and I guess I should be telling all you deserters (and you know who you are), Thank you!  I miss each and every one of you so much and for the most part don’t get to speak to you nearly enough, so here is my new outlet for *hopefully* inspiring you to share more with me.  Isn’t that how this all works, karmically speaking?  The more you give of yourself, the more comes back to you in return?  But on the other hand, and to be completely frank, in some ways me writing like this feels like self-indulgent yammering on about my spoiled pampered life here in Switzerland.  N’est pas?

But wait, back to other hand.  The fact is that as glamorous as living abroad sounds, the reality is that it is actually no different than anywhere else’s daily affairs (Western world specific, of course).  We get up.  We eat our cereal.  We run laps around the kitchen.  We chase cats in the garden.  We reheat our cold coffee a fourth time.  We put on Yo Gabba to have 25 minutes of peace.  We call our friends to organize our day.  We read crap online.  We forget to pick up the baking soda at the grocery AGAIN.

You see where I am going with this?

Granted, some weekends we will make trecks up into the Alps for a fondue (rare).  Or jump on that three hour train to Paris (done it only a handful of times since arriving here.)   Or float in Lac Leman (Geneva) to cool off on a hot summer day (because we have no A/C and let’s face it, its only warm enough to do that here about 2 months out of the year.)

So what I am getting at is that it’s the same you-know-what.  Bedtime ritual probably looks as similar as that of the morning, no kidding.  So before you go rolling-your-eyes-and-want-to-punch-me-in-the-face on me, have a think about that.

And this brings me back to my earlier lament about my friends here.  With all the beauty (yes, the views are breathtaking all the time) and all the Europeanness and all the ‘glamour’ of this life here, the real reality is that friends don’t stick around.  And it sucks big time.

But what it does mean (to lighten this up a bit) is that NOW I have this network of beautiful, amazing, interesting, affectionate women in my playground that is the world, right?  And while that usually means that early morning chats are out (minimum 6 time zone hours ahead is not on my side), if I DO happen to wake up and can’t sleep in the middle of the night, guess what?  I am not alone!

What I am trying to say as you so generously check in on my goings on is that hopefully me getting this out, me sharing my life with you in this forum will motivate you to do the same (it already has for some of you!)  And then, I don’t have to feel as though this is all in vain, that I am just blabbing on to hear myself type.   Because I miss all of my friends and family immensely all the time, and I wouldn’t take back a second (even if they were VERY limited) of time with any of you, that is for certain.  And seriously, guys, Facebook just isn’t cutting it for me.  I feel like a stalker, plain and simple.

…to all my friends (and fam) far and wide, my self-proclaimed excusez-moi for being so out of touch over the last six (or one or two or TEN) years…   love, nat