Unlearning

I’m unlearning. Taking one by one, pieces of myself and placing them in front of me. Looking at their uneven edges, running my fingers through their chipped paint and wondering what happened along the way.  It’s tough being human. Alive. So many emotions and memories, we hold in our cells. It feels nice to keep them down once in a while, and unburden. I can see why someone would want a break from the mess that is us. The pieces that is us become too heavy, too broken and just too noisy, so much that I would want to become someone else for a minute. A day. It’s one of those days that I’m unlearning, dismantling and deciphering myself. Each birthmark, I know on your skin are scattered like consolations in the sky. I’ve kissed them many, many times over. Each one on a different page, a different city and a different life. I’ve known you for so long, that each piece of mine smells of you, their harshness worn, softer. When I pick myself up from the floor, piece by piece, and place them back inside, I know I’m not proud of me. But at least I know you see all of me, each piece for what really am.

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Milk

The house is empty, and there is the smell of milk lingering around me. There is so much suffering and pain in the world that moments like this, when the air is so still and heavy, almost lulls me to sleep. The leaves of the coconut tree rustle ever so gently. Even the ocean is quiet today. Tomorrow is poya, the full moon peeks from behind a cloud and absentmindedly, I search for the sudu hawa in it, the way amma taught us. Does the world know what I did? Are they all judging me?

I can hear a woman shouting in the distance. Usually, the sound of the ocean drowns all our voices, but today it doesn’t blow as harsh. My breasts hurt, but I welcome the pain. I do nothing and after a while, it soaks my blouse and two flowers on my chest get darkened as though I’m bleeding from not one, but two hearts. One for each of them that I gave away.

Living a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka

Living a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka

2018 has been incredible. I’ve changed so much, that I don’t think I’d recognise me this day, last year. I think it all started with me switching to the menstrual cup in March. It made me realise that making such a small change, can have such a big impact on my health, the environment AND my purse. It’s as though a curtain had been lifted and I could suddenly see. I was shocked to see the things we do to our bodies, how harshly and unsparingly we treat it. This one tool that we live in for the rest of our lives. The one tool that I’ll always have until I don’t. The one place I can call home. And I was ruining it.

chemical-free-sustainable-lifestyle-in-srilanka
You only have two homes.

We eat rub, ingest, inhale, lather, apply so many things to our system, this temple of ours, without questioning them just because we see it on TV or it looks and smells really good, or somebody recommended it. But this year, with the cup, I changed the way I looked at myself. I started to love my body the way it is, with all its imperfections, flabbiness and white hair.

I no longer, shave, wax, thread and pull at my hair. (I actually got some pretty painful boils after I shaved and waxed so I don’t do it anymore. I trim my pits occasionally to be able to apply the crystal deo better). I no longer eat rotting animal flesh. I no longer force my body to absorb chemicals that it very clearly rejects in the form of blisters, rashes and dry skin.

Instead, I eat great food in the form of colourful vegetables and fresh greens that I shop and select that my mother (and sometimes I) prepare. I make my own spices, run a plant nursery on my balcony, exercise as much as I can at least thrice a week, meditate and even stopped buying clothes, shoes and other random stuff (I just don’t buy anything unless I really really need it, which is every 6 or 12 months).  And I’m happy that I can finally, after 26 years of trying to change how my body naturally is, I am truly comfortable and happy with it. But I’m not completely there yet. (Trying hard to stop cheese completely and go on a fully plant-based vegan diet. Increase exercise to five days a week. Paint at least once a week. And things like that.)

meatless-monday-sri-lanka
My food has looked like this, this entire year. Colourful, healthy and cruelty-free. 🙂

I still get bugged from friends about eating mayonnaise/yogurt/cheese or not having enough protein, but I’ve learned to think of myself as a work in progress and suffice to say, I’m happy with how and where I’m heading. I get messages from others who are trying to go vegan, reduce chemicals etc but get demotivated with how other people don’t understand it and make fun of it (added on to the general struggle of living that way)

My advice for you is to keep on doing what makes your heart sing and the earth happy. Regardless of how much bullying /bugging/peer pressured you get into championing each of your causes, remember that if you’re doing something right for you, for the animals and the earth with good intention, “ඔයාට වරදින්නෙ නෑ” i.e nothing will go wrong for you.

Here is a video I did to encompass all of the items I talk about on the blog. 🙂 Enjoy!

I’ve been sharing my journey over the past several months on Instagram, and many have asked me exactly how and what I do to try to live a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka. Here goes:

Alternatives for a Chemical Free Bathroom in Sri Lanka

1. Menstrual Cup

Instead of the disposable sanitary pads and tampons. 

menstrual-cup-in-sri-lanka
Switching to the cup, or cupverting as we like to call it, is the best thing you can do for yourself, your purse and the environment.

Most favourite chemical-free, earth-friendly hygiene product of all time! If you know me, you know my journey with the menstrual cup and how it has changed the lives of close to 140 women in Sri Lanka through Boondh Cups in India. This tiny device is saving me 3000 LKR a year for the rest of my life! 😀 And I create no waste with it and there is no chemical reaction to my body with it. Best invention ever!

Price: 1700 LKR and 3300 LKR (where you can buy one and donate one to another menstruator)
Used to spend: 3000 LKR+ per year

2. Natural crystal deodorant and perfume

chemical-free-deodarant-and-perfume alternative
Perfume and deodorant are harmful for your body. Instead, use a deo crystal or a baking soda mixed with water in a paste. Touch it up with a few drops of essential oil and you’re set!

I’ve not used chemical deodorant since 2017 July and perfume since sometime this year all thanks to this natural crystal deodorant by Gaia Skin Naturals and Aastha Naturals essential oils.

The science behind it is that the crystal particles are larger than the skin pores so it isn’t invasive with the skin i.e. it doesn’t clog the pores like chemical deodorants. It remains as a protective layer around your skin and doesn’t let bacteria grow on it! I first apply the deo crystal as soon as I shower while my pits are still damp, wear my clothes and then dab it some of my home-made natural perfume. I make my own perfume with Aastha Natural essential oil and virgin coconut oil (1:2 parts). Combined, these two keep me from smelling bad!

One of my dance partners told me I smelled like that very expensive Spa brand and I cracked out loud cuz not a single atom of me would spend on big branded nonsense! But in reality, it had just been my combination of oils that I use on my hair and body. During my transition to this chemical-free alternative deodorant, I was nervous, thinking I’d start to smell, especially since I dance, which requires me to be physically close to someone else + a lot of seating! After a year of using it, (and I’ve asked a few people to double check!) it’s all good! 🙂

Price: Deo crystal start from 200 LKR. The two rocks pictured here are 1000 LKR. I got a travel size and a regular use size that will most probably last me 3+ years by the wear pattern seen.
Essential Oil = 1000 LKR per bottle.

Used to spend: 9000LKr on a Versace, was gifted a powder deodorant and an ESCADA bottle as well. See all that plastic I’m adding to earth?

chemical perfumes and deaodarants

3. Natural scrub, lime, and virgin coconut oil

alternatives for a chemical-free bath
Water cleans just as well. Try it.

Instead of chemical-ly, expensive, plastic-packaged shampoo & conditioner, I use water because it cleans just as well. If my hair is extra oily, I squeeze a lime on it. If its dry, I mash an avocado on it. I apply some on my hair, my face and eat it all at the same time!

For body scrub/soap and body lotion I use a concoction of venivel, kokumpothu, sandalwood and iramusu powder (1:1:2:1 ratio) to derive a heavenly scrub that I use once or twice a week to get rid of any dead skin cells. And as for a natural body lotion, virgin coconut oil! Add a drop of essential oil if you want it to smell nice, but coconut oil is just as great! ❤

Price: lime 50 LKR , scrub ingredients cost me about 1000 LKR for over a year’s worth of powder, and virgin coconut oil is 150 LKR per 1/2 a liter.

Used to spend:  3000 LKR on shampoo & conditioner alone per year. Can’t even remember how much I spend on other nonsense, but it was a lot.

 

Chemicals vs natural thinsg
Don’t rub* on your body, what you can’t eat.

My challenge for you is to try having a bath with just water. For a week. See how it works for you. The beauty of alternatives is that you can trial it and see for yourself. If you can’t switch completely, you can at least reduce it! For example, you can shampoo your hair only once or twice a month, but the rest of the times, you can use these natural alternatives.

4. Baking Soda & Vinegar as a cleaning agent

Baking soda and vingar as a natural cleaning agent
Combine baking soda and vinegar to make a natural, chemical-free cleaning agent

Baking soda is awesome! I use it up with a metal scrubber and coconut husks. (Coconut husks and used coconut shavings were used long before green living was a trend in our good ol’ Sri Lankan households. We don’t eat meat/fish in our house, so cutlery doesn’t smell. If at all, we’d use coconut oil as an oily base which washes away.  For floors, I actually just use water to mop the floors and add a bit of pangiri thel to rid of flies etc. For windows, I use vinegar and newspaper.

Price: Baking Soda 400 LKR per kilo which will last you atleast 7 months. Unsure of the price of Vinegar.

Used to spend: All this must be atleast 2000 LKR in total which will last you a year. And where does all that plastic go? Companies don’t give a shit about recycling. So these will end on earth somewhere.

chemical liquid cleaners I used to use
Look at all that nasty chemicals!

A small video clip to remind you what we will remain on earth hundreds of years after we die.

Earth-friendly Alternatives in my daily life

At first, remembering to take these was difficult. I’d be outside wanting to buy something, and then realise I don’t have my cloth bags to put it in. But eventually, it grew on me and now, the same way I take my phone and keys, I remember to stuff these in my bag before I leave the house.

  1. Polythene Bags vs Cloth Bags

    I’ve completely stopped using polythene bags. I’ve asked my family to not bring any to the house as well. I use Cally Reusable Bags for everything from shopping for groceries and on the rare occasion that I buy any clothes. I use a glass jar to bring home the spices I don’t make (rather than bring it in a small polythene bag), I buy lose soy and grains from the pola market when I do the weekly shopping and use Cally Reusable Bags to buy anything I buy from the supermarket such as vegetables and rice.

    plastic-free shopping in sri lanka
    The idea is to reduce the use of plastic. So every little bit helps.
  2. Metal Reusable Lunch Box & Bottle

    I’ve completely stopped buying food in polythene bags or using plastic single-use water bottles. When I travel within Sri Lanka (which I do quite often) or I leave home, I take these three items (minus the cat) with me.

    Metal Water Bottle = 370 LKR
    Metal Lunch Box = 700 LKR
    Cally Reusable Bags with 10 bags = 1900 LKR

    reusable-bottle-lunch-box-no-single-use-plastic
    Essentials in my bag for an earth-friendly life here in Sri Lanka
  3. Cloth serviettes, hanky and butt wipes

    I’ve stopped using tissues whenever I can in restaurants, at home, and at the office. Instead, I use towels. The bleaching in tissues, very much like the bleaching used in pads are dangerous to our bodies. When we use the toilet, we dab our most sensitive parts with these bleached tissues! Yikes!

    alternatives-for-single-use-tissue.jpg

  4. Anything wooden and clay

    I’ve started to make more (rather all) the purchasing decisions in our house, and I actively buy anything that will not harm the earth. Brooms and clay pots for the kitchen so that after I use it, I can throw it away and it will biodegrade without too many negative impacts.

Eco-friendly Sri Lanka

Our ancestors (my grand mom’s time) have been using and reusing almost everything way before all these “earth-friendly”,  “eco-friendly” and “going green” fads saw the light of day. They used and reused everything! There was a time when we had to hand over our used milk bottle to get a new one, waited for the bothal pathataha man (fellow who collects bottles, papers and everything else for recycling) and kept on sewing our shoes when they broke without throwing it away and buying a new pair.  If you have grandparents and even if you ask your parents’ generation, they’d tell you how simple and different and earth-friendly life was those days.

My grandmother used to make her underskirts using my old school uniforms. She’d tell us not to use the fan so much and to use it only if it’s really really hot, or reminded us to always switch the lights off during the day and close the tap when we’re using soap to stop wastage. I thought it was weird. I mean, we paid for it, we want to use it and we have the ability to use it. So why should we not use it? Throughout the years the reason dawned to me.

Nowadays, our generations are completely different. 90% of us just don’t care. I see it so often around me that it breaks my heart to see how insensitive we humans have become with our relationship with nature. We exploit and waste because it is easy for us, because we’re so busy, and we just don’t have time to care. We take, take and take, and take some more. We’re quick to blame the government or the cooperations (who we fund by buying their garbage ) but we don’t take any responsibility to what we as individuals do. We’re as much a part of all this as animals and nature are, and what affects the planet, affects us too.

A friend asked me, ‘What are you proud of this year?’

And this was my answer. The lifestyle choices that I made for myself, my family and the earth. That’s what I’m proud of this year. ❤ By sharing what I do and how I live, I hope I inspire others to live life just a little differently, to be a little more sensitive towards our bodies and earth and to live a life that is good the planet, its beautiful plants and animals and good for you. ❤

living-a-chemical-free-lifestyle-in-srilanka

Something beautiful

There is something beautiful about falling in love with your friend. You know him. Her body is a familiar place, like home and you’re always welcome, especially after a really bad day.  You just want to be cradled and told that everything will be alright. The beauty in it is that there is no talking; just sitting in silence while you digest a well-deserved Giovanni’s pizza and that’s all the comfort you need in the world at that point. There is something everlasting about the setting sun that soaks you in golden sunbeams and blinds the evening sky with streaks of salmon pink.  There is something very real about new lovers discovering each other, and old lovers stumbling upon long-lost fears. About friends wrapped in each others’ emotions, in each others’ warm skin and the ocean singing her endless song in the background.

There is great meaning behind losing everything and still finding it in you to stand up and walk away from a cheating partner, letting yourself heal after a broken heart and letting the pain strip you down and re-build you from scratch, stronger, gentler. There is depth in being vulnerable with your friends when you confess to them that you have cancer and that you need treatment to be better. There is something beautiful about dancing in the rain, with the energy that swims from a body to body and living your dream of creating art in front of a hall full of friends. There is magic in between your fingers, in the way you reach out to feed rice and curry to your friends like your mother did, fondly, carefully, in the way your fingers run across curly hair, decoding each hair strand and pulling it closer to you, in the same way they move across a keyboard to message someone you like, in the way they cradle an injured baby bird or run across your neck absentmindedly, like an afterthought you hang on to for just a little while longer.

There is something hauntingly beautiful about all these little things in life, that we sometimes miss because life is too fast and we’re too busy trying to keep up with it to actually live life in its moment, right now.

Not okay

I haven’t said this out loud in a while. I’m not okay. I’m saying it again. I’m not okay. Things aren’t that great. My mind is a rush. I haven’t been myself lately. I feel a bit confused. I don’t really know what I’m doing. Or what I should be doing. Things are moving so fast, that I haven’t had any time to make any sense of it. I’ve been in such a rush, getting ahead of myself from yesterday, convincing myself and everyone else that everything is alright, that I’ve forgotten what it feels like when things aren’t okay.

I feel ashamed to admit that I’m not feeling alright. Because everyone else’s lives look so amazing and so incredible, that I feel ashamed to say that mine isn’t going that great. Instagram doesn’t help. Everyone is living a fabulous life on it. (Not me though.) And the worst part is if I say this out loud, people are going to talk behind my back, shaking their head, “Such a nice person no? Didn’t think that will happen. She has everything no. He is so smart no. In vain. api kiwwuane. We told you so. In vain. Such a nice person.”

Well, nice people have off days too. So take a deep breath. Have an off day. Take a day off. It’s okay to not be okay. ❤

Continue reading “Not okay”

Pride and prejudice

Every time someone I love is upset, and doesn’t answer the phone, I panic. I worry that if I don’t reach them, somehow, right now, through a friend or colleague or someone at home, there is a chance that I will never see them again. It happened once, and I will not let it happen again. I didn’t pay enough attention the last time and I lost someone forever. And I don’t think I can live with myself if I ever let it happen again.

Since last year, all of us have been walking on a ticking time bomb of ‘what ifs’. What if we had called before? What if I just sent her a text? What if we’d just listened some more? What did we do wrong that we should have done right? 

The answer to that, I’ve found out throughout the months, is nothing.

There was absolutely nothing that you could have done to change what happened. No decision, phone call or angel, would have changed the course of her destiny.

So I’m tired of aunties asking us “Do you know what happened? Did she tell you anything at all? Were there signs? You were her friends, no?” I want to slap them on their confused-ass face and tell them, “No, I don’t know what happened. I didn’t live her life, I don’t know what made her do what she did. I don’t know what it feels like to go through what she did and say ‘oh, if it were me, I would not have done such a stupid thing’. I couldn’t have possibly told you what would make someone normal, like you or me, someone who was just texting us the night before asking to see us the next day for lunch, do something as crazy as jump in front of a train.”

The thing with people is that, no two are the same. The way I react when something happens to me, will not be the same way that you react when the same thing happens to you. If someone as sane and normal and fun and amazing as she, could do something so incredibly out-of-this-world, I do not, for one millisecond, doubt that someone normal, like you or me, can do something just as outrageous.

Since then, I’ve tried to understand why someone would do something that is considered out of their normal behaviour. I’ve run over that thought over and over again; the same way that I’ve run my tongue over and over again on the place where a wisdom tooth is emerging, rupturing the gum underneath. And I’ve searched and searched and searched, and ended up with nothing, except the annoying feeling of an unwanted wisdom tooth. There is no right or wrong way that someone will act in a situation that shatters their world. There is no telling what you or I would do if we were cornered into a cavern where we could see no escape.

So you have no right to say that what she did was wrong, unless you have done the same.

When someone is going through a shit-storm, they just need you to listen to them and tell them that it is going to be okay. Not how if it were you, how you would do it differently. Or how stupid they’ve been or how they’re going to be in trouble.

You just need someone to tell you that it is okay.

No matter what has happened, regardless of what you have done, it will be okay.

Just that one phrase. “It will be okay.”

I wish I had said it to her enough. I wish I had told her some more.

I wish she had had someone to say it to her.

Just that one phrase.

It will be okay.

Menstrual Cups in Sri Lanka

Menstrual Cups in Sri Lanka

The magical Menstrual Cup is now available in Sri Lanka!

Since I’ve tried the period cup, I’ve been telling any woman who would listen to me, about it! 😀  By the beginning of 2019, I’ve cupverted 170 women since I first spoke about this on my previous post Bleeding into a cup in Sri Lanka and so many women have sent inquiries about the cup since then. About 30 women have reserved cups from boondh.

I’m psyched that so many of you approached me asking about it, sending emails and messages back and forth and discussing possibilities of using it.

Congratulations on wanting to take this giant leap!

I guarantee that it will change your life forever, for the better! If you haven’t reserved one yet, please email me on nadeeshapaulis@gmail.com. I can’t wait for you to try it out and feel fabulous! ❤ 🙂

Here’s a small summary of what the menstrual cup is for those of you who are new to the idea.

 

How much is the menstrual cup?

Boondh is a social enterprise in India and I’m just trying to spread the love here. I bought it from them since it’s tested by them plus it serves their cause. Profits will fund their campaigns and make available cups to women in low-income communities. When you buy from Boondh, you sponsor 10+ years of someone’s menstrual product!

PRICE

Single Cup: 1700 LKR
Together Cup: 3300 LKR where when you buy 1 cup, you donate another cup to a rural menstruator in India and also support boondh in their work.

You can select colours from Sunshine Yellow, Imperial Red, Fuschia (pink) and Teal.

menstrual_cups_in_sri_lanka_bleeding_women

What’s included?

  • 1 Menstrual Cup
  • 1 user manual ‘How to use your boondh cup’
  • 1 cute pouch to carry the cup with you

your_boondh_cup_includes_menstrual_cup_manual_and_pouch

How to use your Menstrual Cup?

The first rule of using this cup is that you have to be on your period because the blood acts as a lubricant and makes the cup slide up your fanny — no hassle. There is an instruction manual attached to it also so you will be fine. Feel free to message me anytime and I will help answer your questions. If you send me questions, I’ll add them here as an FAQ too so others can benefit from it.

There are a lot of articles and videos out there that show you how to do it, but let me tell you what I do. Will add a short clip here soon too.

FAQ’s

I’m filing this space up with questions that you want answered. So please send / comment and so on so I can have it open for everyone who’s curious. We can discuss more when you meet me to pick the cup.

  1. How do you know how far in it has to go? 
    No part of the cup can be outside your body and you cannot feel it if you have inserted it right. Even the little nob at the base has to be inside, but just within reach when you put a finger. Don’t worry, it won’t go in too far as only liquids can go past your cervix.
  2. Do you put it right when you see you got your period? I can’t predict my period.
    Just as soon as you see red on your undies, similar to a pad or tampon. 
  3. I’m scared it won’t come out. What do I do if I can’t get it out?
    Just breathe and push down (thatamanna) as though you’re going to poop or push a baby out. Put two fingers in and pinch the base of the cup. This breaks the vacuum and you can pull it out. It was easy for me to get mine out when I pushed down on my pelvic muscles. If it doesn’t work the first time, come back later and try again. On your first attempt taking it out, remember, do not panic. If you panic, there is a chance that your vaginal muscles will tense and you will find it more difficult to take out.
  4. Does it hurt when you insert it?
    Personally, it didn’t hurt, just a slight “pressured” sensation for the first few seconds which is also rather pleasant when the cup is warm after sterilisation till I push it past the flappy bits at the vagina opening. I did a little standing up/ squatting ritual till the rim of the cup was inside and just pushed it and –floop- it slides into place and opens up. And after that, I don’t even feel it. I am not exaggerating. You don’t even feel it inside you. I have got feedback saying that taking the cup out hurts a bit. This is probably because the opening of the cup is larger when it comes out than it goes in.
  5. How often do I have to sterilise it?
    Wash hands well with soap before you handle the cup. You can wash the cup in boiling / warm water before the first use in every cycle. Rinse it with normal water between insertions. If I was at home, I just dipped it in boiling water too since I had access to it just cuz I could. But it’s not compulsory.
  6. I have a heavy flow. Will the cup be enough for me? 
    A woman will bleed about 30 to 40 ml. That’s about half a cup or a few tablespoons. A sanitary pad will hold about 5ml but as you already know, it looks like you’re bleeding a river down there. That’s probably because of the way the pad absorbs, and it gives us the false impression of how much we bleed. The boondh cup holds 12 ml of blood, which is why we can wear it for longer, almost 8 to 10 hours even on the first day.
  7. Do I lose my virginity when I use it?
    No. And here is a comprehensive article as to why that is a no.
  8. What about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? TSS (which mimics flu symptoms) occurs when bacteria grows. This can be avoided by sterilising the cup before you use + only having it inside you for 8 – 12 hours at a stretch.
  9. What if I can’t sterilise it before I use it? If you don’t have the facility to sterilise the cup right before you insert it (travelling etc) you can sterilise the cup, store it in a clean, dry place and insert the cup within 24 hours. Reason being, not everything you stick up there, is sterilised.

You might take a few tries to get to the rhythm of it. Once you do, you’re going to be writing your own blogs and testimonials and buying these magic cups to your girlfriends asll. Trust me on that one! 🙂

How do I buy a period cup in Sri Lanka?

You can buy the boondh cup from me. Please place your orders on this form, and you will receive a text confirmation of it. I offer delivery as well as the pickup option.

 

getting_periods_sri_lanka

 

I’ve also opened up Instagram and Facebook social media pages to reach more people. So give us a follow to join the talk on all things period. ❤