August 7, 2020

Year in Review- Inspiring mums of 2019

Mums and Stories features several interesting and inspiring moms and as a round up we are showcasing moms who have made a difference in their lives and others.

Meet Anusuya Alva who has been a professional athlete, participated in the Triathlon sport in Australia in 1991 and won the bronze medal in 1992 at the Triathlon Asian Championship in Japan.

She shares with Mums and Stories her journey of taking up professional sports and giving it up to take on motherhood role full time and now she is back as a fitness enthusiast.

Anusuya shares, “I grew up in Bangalore and right from childhood, I was inclined and encouraged to get into sports. I was an athlete during my school days and later was keen to participate in Triathlon which was a new game in the world back in 1990’s.

I remember running on the roads as part of my training. There was no facilities, equipment’s, coaches, marathons; none at all as a form of training. I would cycle to Hoskote and be back as a grind. I did training on my own for my participation in the triathlons.

(Anusuya at the Triathlon Nationals, Chennai). ( Photograph subject to copyright).

My dad was a terrific supporter and at 19 years I had achieved quite a bit. I enjoyed it and completed my education. Soon I was married and had a baby. Before I knew, I had somehow myself in being a mum and said a goodbye to the earlier avatar. There were no regrets back then and it hasn’t been even today.  It was my choice and I was involved in what I took up and it was parenting.

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/03/08/embracing-transition-is-important-to-move-ahead-in-life-says-athlete-anusuya-alva/

B) Kavita Baluni’s story on her special child.

Kavita Baluni talks on adopting a specially abled child

Love can be in various forms and this is a special story of a lucky child who has found a home and adorable parents. Kavita Baluni Kaktwan, a mum residing in Delhi shares with Mums and Stories her choice to adopt a specially abled child.

She shares, “Adopting a girl child was always in my mind since I was a teen. I always find it ironic that generally people in society are busy in raising their own family, but a very few are concerned about kids who do not have a family to look after them. I shared this thought with my husband before marriage; we discussed it through and decided to have our child through adoption, although special needs came quite late into consideration.

We came across the word “Down’s syndrome” when we were in US. We saw a few kids with Down Syndrome. We started exploring the internet and watching videos about it. We spent the next few weeks and months gathering detailed information about Down Syndrome. As we got more into it, we were really inspired to adopt a baby with DS as we couldn’t find any reason why not to do so! And so we came back to INDIA as we couldn’t adopt from US and everything happened afterwards.

Veda is now 3 yrs old, she came home when she was 15 months old. The adoption process was smooth we registered under CARA and within a week our Home study got done. As there is no waiting  period for special need adoption, I searched for Down syndrome kids available for adoption under disability section and found her. We completed our adoption journey in 45 days from day we registered under CARA.

I used to be a pre-school teacher and before that I have worked as HR Recruiter for couple of years, but  when I thought of adoption I knew I have to be dedicated for it only. As my baby is my top priority, so her well-being has kept me far away from thinking about working for someone else.

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/02/14/kavita-baluni-talks-on-adopting-a-specially-abled-child/

C) Supriya Jain with a hugely inspiring story to be shared to others.

Supriya Jain talks on becoming a mum through IVF and Surrogacy after her husband’s death

This is one of the unique stories we have ever featured. Supriya Jain a mum chose to have a baby three years after her husband’s death.

The miracle was of course it would be his baby.

Speaking to Mums and Stories over an email interaction, Supriya begins her story with childhood memories. “ I think the best memories of my childhood are playing hop-scotch on the rooftop, sunning in the winters, eating Gajak, and watching kites fly on Sankranti.

I grew up in Jaipur and it’s a close knit community – we spent a lot of time with cousins and family gatherings were large. My parents separated when I was very young, and mom raised us single handedly. We went to the best school in Jaipur and never wanted for anything that could help us excel academically. I draw my strength from my mom, I’ve seen her battle all odds and stay strong, and I think I learnt independence from her.

Talking about her life with her late husband, Gaurav, Supriya shares, “ We felt more culturally connected here in India and were open to traveling, but not moving to a different country. I think it was fate that pushed us to opt for an IVF treatment. We decided very late to have a baby, and with my PCOD and our corporate lifestyles, the doctor advised some treatment. I have no idea what prompted us to opt for IVF, hence I think it was fate.

The universe knew that time was running out and Gaurav won’t be around much longer to finish the doctor’s recommended plan. It was only because we very unconventionally opted for IVF that I had the sperm sample preserved. If we hadn’t done that, I would not be able to bring ‘our baby’ in to this world.

IVF is a draining process. It’s basically hormone therapy – so it puts you in a very emotional state. Unfortunately my husband passed away a week after our first embryo transfer was done. After that I spent 2+ years in trying to have our baby. But even multiple embryo transfers were not successful.

I underwent every possible test, but the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. And still I was unable to get pregnant. Finally I had very few embryos left, and once these were over I would not be able to try again as we had finished the sperm sample. It would mean I would not be able to have Gaurav’s baby and any chance to bring him back would be lost. That was when I decided to opt for surrogacy as a last resort. One of the conditions of becoming a surrogate are one prior uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery – so I felt there is a better chance for a surrogate to get pregnant. And my gut feel was right – ultimately one of the last two embryos successfully implanted in a surrogate and my baby boy was born. It was a difficult decision – but the right one.

Family and friends were very supportive, there were some questions about whether I am sure I want to do this, and how will I bring up a baby alone, but once I explained to them what it means to me, everyone accepted it. And now that my boy is here, everyone is showering him with love and attention.

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/01/21/supriya-jain-talks-on-becoming-a-mum-through-ivf-and-surrogacy-after-her-husbands-death/

D) Luvena Rangel going beyond sterotypes

Luvena Rangel says she is striving to normalize acceptance of people beyond clichés and stereotypes.

Luvena Rangel comes across as this rebellious mum who is making her stance evident wherever she goes. Yet talking to her or even knowing her story through her words, prove there are many more layers than what one can see.  Sharing her story with Mums and Stories, Luvena, founder of Curvy Yogi goes back on her childhood memories. “   I had a lovely childhood – I was born & raised in Kuwait and was surrounded by a strong and close-knit family & community.

My grandmothers were there along with uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family and friends. My best memories were the regular dinners and celebratory parties that my parents had at my place. My parents loved to feed people and have a good time. They were very helpful people in the community who were always looked up to and relied upon for help. We also grew up in an environment where a lot of effort and significance was put into supporting each other as a family unit but with a strong sense of purpose.

Going further, we moved to India. My mother still lives & works in the Middle East and making the decision to relocate to a new country was hard – especially on my oldest son who was just 12 at the time. He was scared, nervous and completely hesitant to move. My younger two were better – especially the youngest, who was only 3 then, and only felt that he was in Dubai one minute and the next he was in India.

(Luvena with her sons and brother. All photographs are subject to copyright).

I think my oldest has taken the toughest brunt of the move, but they’re great kids and very resilient who took the decision that was made for them in their stride. I do notice that they still struggle with identity and the cultural aspect.

But Bangalore has been particularly kind to us and I am constantly surprised at how beautifully we have put down roots here. Of course, it makes it easier that we are from Mangalore and my childhood community set in well defined customs and flavor and coming home to Karnataka doesn’t feel as lost as I had feared it to be.

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/05/23/luvena-rangel-says-she-is-striving-to-normalize-acceptance-of-people-beyond-cliches-and-stereotypes/?preview_id=4000&preview_nonce=3617f2dedc&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=4419

E) Farida Rizwan who has been able to move beyond every possible obstacle

Farida Rizwan thanks her special child for making her independent and to be a risk taker in life.

Meet Farida Rizwan who has battled several obstacles including a life threatening ailment at an advanced stage to the continuous journey of raising a special child. She also runs a preschool and daycare called My Giggle Garden where inclusivity of special needs children is a norm. She is also a counselor, psychotherapist and working  on bringing in inclusion in preschool level for all children.

Sharing her story with Mums and Stories, Farida shares, “ I grew up in Kadugodi, near Whitefield in Bangalore. If I have to share one of my best childhood memories, I would say that it would be on coming second in local inter- school running race despite having clubfoot. It gave me immense confidence and belief in my ability.”

When asked on how she has been a fighter all along, Farida shares, “Fighter may not be the right word because I don’t fight. The truth is I do not surrender to whatever tries to pull me down that includes III  stage breast cancer, which  I was diagnosed with 24 years ago.

Circumstances earlier made me a single parent as my husband has lived in gulf 90% of the time. Somehow I feel  when I look back on my life journey that troubles or more appropriately challenges take a liking to me. I deal with it first by acceptance and later by tackling it head-on. Without accepting you have a problem, you never find solution to it.”

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/11/06/farida-rizwan-thanks-her-special-child-for-making-her-independent-and-to-be-a-risk-taker-in-life/

F) Vydehi hemmige talks on why financial independence is important for mums

Vydehi Hemmige Prashanth insists on mums garnering financial independence

Being a working professional right through her life phases of adulthood, Vydehi Hemmige Prashanth talks to Mums and Stories and shares her opinion on why it is important for mums to garner financial independence in life.

Bringing a new perspective, Vydehi, a Communications professional herself shares and points out that it is more on the mindset of mums than other external factors and once you have made your mind, you can have things work out for you as getting back to work is easier now than the last decade.

Going back on her childhood memories and upbringing Vydehi  shares, “ I was born and brought up in the historical town of Karnataka, Mysore. I spent the first 25years of my life in this beautiful, serene and peaceful place. We are a family of six, with 2 elder sisters and an elder brother. I loved growing up in the pre-technology era. We played a lot of outdoor games like throwball, running and catching, lagori, hopscotch etc.  I have fond memories of the campus life in Gangothri area and of course  Dasara was a huge celebration, during which we siblings and friends burst a lot of crackers and gorged on food.

Mysore is such a close knit community, everyone knew each other. Education finds an integral part of Mysore life. I did my engineering in one of the best colleges in Karnataka, JCE and later did my MBA in Mysore.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my working life. I strive to strike a work-life balance. Yes, I have taken breaks for motherhood. For a woman it is very important to do justice on all fronts, be it  motherhood, work life, social work etc. She adorns multiple crowns of a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mom, a grandmom, a leader, a guide etc. She is gifted to transform and fulfill each and every role seamlessly.

I personally advocate every woman to be financially independent. To reach here it becomes imperative to be a working professional. Financial independence not only makes her confident but also helps her to be focused, hardworking, stand up for her rights and be fair. I would like to help the underprivileged section of the society as well. Financial independence plays a huge role in achieving this.”

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/01/10/vydehi-hemmige-prashanth-insists-on-mums-garnering-financial-independence/

G) Aranyani Bhargav talks on why it is important to be normal during pregnancy too

Pregnancy and Dance aren’t conflicting says Aranyani Bhargav

We as a platform feature inspiring and interesting mums. We also bring stories of those who are about to step into motherhood or want to pay a tribute to their mum. Here’s an interesting story of this  would-be-mum who’s through her dance performance with her team caught attention for trying to shatter age old beliefs on a woman’s phase of life.

Aranyani Bhargav is a Bharatnatyam dancer, director of Vyuti Dance Company and was recently in limelight for bringing a piece to Bangalore audience where in her sixth month of pregnancy, she performed as a regular dancer. According to this artiste, pregnancy is a normal phase of life and it is important to address key issues and shatter myths.

Aranyani shares with Mums and Stories, “ My childhood was spent primarily in New Delhi. I was born there, later  I spent the first three years of my life in the UK because my father was finishing his PhD there. And subsequently, we came back to Delhi. And I pretty much started and finished school and college there, and a large chunk of my Bharatanatyam training also took place in New Delhi.

( Featured Image and this picture- photographs by Sonali Zohra. ) ( Photographs are subject to copyright)

Trying to find the best memories amongst the 18 years I spent in New Delhi is like asking me to find a needle in a haystack. There are just too many. What I can say with absolute conviction is that I had a happy, fulfilling and busy childhood!

Both my parents are deeply interested in the arts, even though neither of them is are artists. But they’ve always been inclined towards theatre, music, dance, painting and literature. So from the time my sister and I were little children, we’ve spent countless hours at dance performances, music concerts, art exhibitions, street plays – you name it. But they never pushed me into anything – I think they could see that I was beginning to show an interest in dance, and encouraged it. They nourished that interest until it became a passion, and supported my decision to choose dance as a career when the time came. I’ve been practicing dance since I was five years old.”

Aranyani shares there are huge challenges in choosing dance as a career. “ There are tremendous struggles, but also marvellous triumphs in choosing dance as a career. Being the founder and Artistic Director of Vyuti Dance Company has been one of the most trying and challenging, but also one of the most brilliant experiences of my life! I literally cannot describe in words or demonstrate in any way – how much immense joy and sheer satisfaction Vyuti’s very existence brings to my life. It’s my first baby, and I’m proud of it every minute and every second of my life.

I think dance should be a part of everybody’s life. In many ways, it already is! Human beings dance all the time. We dance (jump for joy!) when we succeed at something, we dance to celebrate – whether its at parties, or at a wedding; we dance in remembrance – in some sub-cultures in India and some cultures in the world, dance rituals exist at the time of someone’s death; there are dances that are attributed to combat and war – I think humans have found reasons to dance since time immemorial. Moreover, why shouldn’t kids dance? It releases endorphins that make you happy and less stressed, dance helps you stay fit, dance helps you express your feelings – where is there reason NOT to dance?”

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/04/05/pregnancy-and-dance-arent-conflicting-says-aranyani-bhargav/

H) Vaishali Raithatha on becoming a storyteller after being a mum

Meet a mum who is residing in United Kingdom, Vaishali Raithatha  who shares how from a corporate, she has shifted gears to a new medium that enables her to spend more time with her child too.

Vaishali shares with Mums and Stories, “Coming from a joint family, I have some beautiful memories of spending a lot of time with my grandparents, aunts and cousins during holidays. I must say that boarding school was a lot of fun , growing up with friends and endless stories in the dressing room , dormitory etc.

Holidays were another special affairs with family gatherings and the best part was everyone had so much to share that there were stories around everything . Little episodes , anecdotes , jokes ,picnics , festivals ,Kathas or paths as you call in Gujarati which my grandmother read during her pujas , having done  all these in a large joint family those were some of my best childhood memories.

I loved every bit of my life as a HR Professional.  I was into recruitments and mass hiring and it gave me a different high reporting to work everyday and different level of satisfaction at the end of the day  while rolling out offer letter to candidates and getting appreciation at work from my bosses .

However, after a child  I chose a different path but that does not make me any less happier or less accomplished.

Both roles have given me equal challenges n joy. I kept myself happy in both .

I am a story teller and my son turned me into one.

(Photographs are subject to copyright).

When  he turned 2.5 yrs and I started reading aloud to him , his friends would also come and join and slowly I realized I was reading and narrating stories not just to him but to all the kids who lived on the same floor in my apartment. They loved it as much as I enjoyed with them .My elder sister encouraged me then to attend a beginners workshop on storytelling to get started with it.

So I did that and thoroughly enjoyed getting exposed to this world of storytelling. I always loved children and they were equally fond of me and storytelling was a bridge .

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/04/25/storytelling-was-a-bridge-i-stumbled-upon-after-my-son-came-in-my-life-says-vaishali-raithatha/

I) Sudha Menon who insists on being feisty at fifty

Sudha Menon author of Feisty at Fifty talks on why life after 50 should be without baggage

This is an author feature and we were simply intrigued by the book title itself and the theme she has written on living life. Meet Sudha Menon, a former journalist, a mum, an author who loves to unabashedly proclaim her age, her mind, her attitude and living life the fullest in fifties.

Author of Fiesty at Fifty, Sudha Menon shares with Mums and Stories on her decision to write the book, “ My decades as a journalist and later, as an author has trained me to be a keen observer of things around me. As I entered my late forties I watched in fascination the changes that my own body and my emotions were undergoing- I was in the thick of  the dreaded years of pre-menopause, the sense of losing control over myself self and of thing around me. It was one hell of a roller coaster ride till I gradually trained myself to look at the funny side of being fifty plus. The fifties might be the end of perky and the beginning of a free fall with everything, including the moraIe drooping but the scramble to make the best we can out of what we have can be adventurous, challenging and exhilarating.

At almost fifty I could not identify with all the things I had heard about women of that age. I did not believe I was over the hill and I certainly was not ready to hang up my boots and disappear. Two years since I hit the Big Five-Oh, I am having the time of my life with work and my many projects. I have rediscovered long lost friends, I am bonding with my amma, my sisters, my family and cooking up plans for the rest of my life. I feel a sense of liberation and exhilaration because I no longer care to fit into any boxes that societal norms expect me,  nor do I care what judgements are passed on labels fixed on me. I want to tell everyone that the fifties and the rest of our lives can be the most fabulous part of our life.”
When asked on recommendations for mums in their fifties to do, this interesting author mum shares, “ Women in their fifties, indeed, those at any age, must make sure they have a life beyond their families and their responsibilities at home. Nurture your friendships, hold them close because these are the relationships that will help you get past the lows of life, the challenges that come your way. Rediscover your relationship with your mother and your sisters-you will be surprised how much joy will come your way from simply being in their company. Cultivate an interest of your own, be it learning to sing, paint, swim or dance or trekking. Make that your own private world with no spill over from family. This is your ‘Me Time’.

Reignite your passion by working out, exercising and keeping yourself fit- the energy that comes from this will help you with all the stuff you have to do in your everyday life.


Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/06/10/sudha-menon-author-of-feisty-at-fifty-talks-on-why-life-after-50-should-be-without-baggage/

J) Sreesha Ravindran talks on why mountains draw her again and again to them

Sreesha Ravindran says the stillness and silence of mountains make her go for bigger treks

Meet Sreesha Ravindran, a mum and a passionate trekker who believes in living life outdoors in extreme climates apart from cozy indoors.

Originally from Palghat, Kerala this mum is currently residing in Bangalore.

Sreesha shares with Mums and Stories on why she loves trekking, “It all started when my dad took me first to Himalayas and we covered the great lakes of Kashmir and Goecha la trek. Initially I was not comfortable as it offers no luxury or comfort. Later I got addicted to the stillness of the environment and the gripping silence and solitude. Now I spend money on going to Himalayas than visiting different countries as this gives me more confidence and peace and I feel it’s worth every penny I spent or every muscle sprains I go through.

I go solo, with group expeditions and sometimes with my son too. My family has complete faith in me and they are very proud whenever I complete any trek. Most of the people ask me what I do with my son, when I go on such treks. My parents, sister and husband take care of him when I am away. Also being a mother I am judged a lot in this conservative society, Many have passed comments like I am not a good mother or good wife and I am not giving time to my family. But I am determined and focussed on what I need and hence I never give any importance to all these comments and faith of my family in me has helped me to forward. Furthermore, my friends are of great support to me and also motivate me to do this. I have to say that I am blessed to have such family and friends.

I am also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and little bit of Kathak and western dance. I practise every day for at least 1.5 hours in the morning to be fit. Apart from this I am also a blogger and work as a Tax manager.

I have also done lot of road trips in the Himalayas during winters. I choose winters, because the crowds are minimal and the thrill of challenging weather does not give a tourist feel, but an explorer feel adds to the excitement .

Trekking has reduced my thoughts. I am clearer about my vision, goals and what I need in life and what exactly makes me happy. It has also given me very good confidence. I am happy to say that I have also inspired lot of people not to shy away from anything they want to do in their life due to circumstances or any other challenges.

Read more on https://www.mumsandstories.com/2019/12/04/sreesha-ravindran-says-the-stillness-and-silence-of-mountains-make-her-go-for-bigger-treks/

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