Pondering the birth lottery

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/23/2015

With the recent attacks in Paris, Mali, Kenya and so many other places I’ve been thinking allot about what the solutions might be.

So many people and politicians are saying “keep out”, “stay away”, do not come to our Countries, and as much as a part of me can see and appreciate this reality, AND reason with “if we can’t build our church in your Country, you can’t build yours in ours”, I STILL find myself drawn to those who know there is another way.

Those like Elizabeth Gilbert who believe that the problem is — “when we shut ourselves down, we lose our mercy, and without mercy, we are all doomed. Without mercy, nobody is safe”.

or, I’m inspired by Fred Wilson’s post. “I do not think we should be demonizing religions and people seeking refuge. Demonizing is the behavior the terrorists want to see from us. We should not let them have that victory.”

Then in the comments of the www.avc.com post by Fred Wilson above I read a story that moved me to get sharing right now.

Yasmin Musafa was born in Palestine and due to one of her brothers being born in the US and war breaking out she landed up in Philadelphia. Her farther bought a 7/11 in which all the children worked but after 10 years of running it he sold the store and left the Country, taking with him ALL the family life savings and leaving 5 children and a mother to find a way to survive.

These challenges were turned into opportunities by Yasmin.

I truly believe if more people contemplated the notion of the birth lottery, the world would be a better place

So now I’ve moved from thinking about solutions for all this violence to pondering the birth lottery and being much more aware that I can do something about it, in my own small way I can help others by

  1. starting something that inspires and moves people
  2. being kind
  3. mentoring someone – cause we never know how encouragement can impact someone’s life.

To learn more about Yasmin’s Story watch this 30 min video, it WILL open your heart and remind you that we are all in this together regardless of where we were born.


Daniel Amen

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/20/2015

Anyone that takes time to study the human brain gets some serious credit in my world. There’s no doubt that it’s the most complicated and powerful tool we have available to us but if it’s not working properly it can be the most destructive tool we have available to us too.

quote daniel amen brain

“Psychiatry is broken,” so says Daniel Amen and “psychiatrists remains the only medical specialists that rarely look at the organ they treat.” He scoffs that diagnostic methods have scarcely progressed since “the days of Abe Lincoln.”

I’ve included 2 of his TED talks that I think are worth listening to. This is a topic on my mind allot these days. I’m not near any kind of conclusion, only that the idea of actually scanning the brain, finding patterns and measuring activity resonates with me. Still I think it’s far more complicated than any machine will be able to tell but I feel this is a step in the right direction.

After scanning 70 000 brains Daniel’s conclusion is that if you:

“Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,”


Critics in the Arena

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/05/2015

Showing up and being seen is a part of life, arguably one of the most important steps we need to repeatedly take in our lives.

There’s no doubt that I’ve been outside the arena since April 2014 and it’s time to jump back in. I’ve learnt that stepping softly and tiptoeing usually keeps me on the edges. Somehow I land up in thinking mode and forget that walking and making mistakes mode is the only way I feel connected in my life. And, connection is a core value of mine, as is courage.


My fear of not being loved, or liked for that matter. My fear of doing it wrong or being rejected keep me in my head where I can distract myself from doing the things I know I really want must do.

Brene touches on Shame, Scarcity and Comparison as 3 reality’s that won’t go anywhere and that we need to find ways to acknowledge and ignore. These are the critics that will always be there, these are the critics we must learn to live with if we are to live fully and feel the kind of connection that propels us forward in life.

Brene Brown released ANOTHER magnificent talk recently. A reminder that…..

“When we stop caring what people think we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think we lose our capacity to be vulnerable.”

Therein lies the paradox of living fully. At least for me.


They also faced the sea

by Tanya Monteiro on 09/08/2015

I’m in Portugal celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday and enjoying time with family.

It has long been a struggle for me to understand or try to make sense inside of myself the mix of cultures I have in my blood. In particular the Portuguese history. Then in 2008 I decided I needed to live near 1) Family, 2) The Sea, 3) The Sun. It was either Durban or Estoril – I chose Portugal.

The time was excellent for me, I learnt to surf, play golf and taught yoga full time. 90% of my clients were ex-pats and I realised that speaking English is my preferred language although I will try to speak Portuguese, more often than not I am asked if I am Brazilian and that’s ok with me. I also made lifelong friends and spent precious time with my grandmother, a goal I had deeply desired for years.

Slowly, with time, I am learning to realise that there are always bits of everything that I will love and loath. Fado is an absolutely NO GO for me, then I discovered Carminho and Pablo Alboran and suddenly that kind of Fado was ok.

There are many moments these day’s that I am now very aware of this duality in living.

Another beautiful example of this reality is this exhibition currently on in Provincetown, USA.

The installation of five larger-than-life black and white photographs of Provincetown women of Portuguese descent, mounted on a building at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf in Provincetown Harbor, is conceived as a tribute to the Portuguese community and its fishing heritage.


Portuguese women faced the sea in many ways: as mothers, wives, sisters, friends and family of fishermen, as cooks, laundresses, nurses, teachers and telephone operators. They kept the culture alive, sang the songs, danced the dances, buried the dead, gave birth, cooked and kept the church at the center of their lives. Above all, they were resilient through good times and bad, their strength and courage easily matching and supporting that of their male seafaring counterparts.

I have come to realise that RESILIENCE is a trait that comes naturally to most Portuguese women I know. And it is without doubt a skill my Portuguese Grandmother passed on to me.

Obrigada Vovo

Celebrating my Vovo's 90th Birthday. The sharpest mind I know.

Celebrating my Vovo’s 90th Birthday. The sharpest mind I know.


A grandma’s advice worth remembering

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/27/2015

This story is just worth reading, possibly over and over and over again. Thank you UpMoments

She Tells Her Grandma That She’s Just Been Cheated On So Grandma Tells Her To Do This

This is a good lesson for all of us, no matter what stage of life you’re in. You’ll see what I mean.

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.


In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.


“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

May we all be like the COFFEE.

Share this with your friends and family today.


Be Brave

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/23/2015

I’ve recently discovered an application called Canva. I used to use PicMonkey allot but for some reason I’m just fascinated by Canva and the millions of amazingly creative and practical images it helps us create. I’m certain there is a place for illustrator and the many millions that can use it, guess those people find Canva a breeze, unlike me.

Regardless of the challenge I am loving the learning and the ability to use my own images and ideas and colours and basically do anything I want.

These two are amongst my first doodles and I figured there is no harm in sharing the messages.


BE BRAVEBe Brave Maureen M quote


Compassion and Empathy – Joan Halifax

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/12/2015

To encourage others in similar positions to me to value their own lives and their voices and reach out for help is a choice. We all know how these issues are so difficult to address.

Once I connect though, there is a collective sense in knowing that who we are and what we have experienced is not something to be ashamed of.

Authentic love and compassion does not silence, shame or abuse.

It’s important to remember that Compassion has enemy’s. Enemies like pity, moral outrage and fear. Often in a state of fear our capacity for compassion is paralyzed. For many people compassion drains them but really it can energize us. It can even enhance our immune system.

Love, Compassion and Empathy are a necessity not a luxury and they are a Strength not a weakness.

“I wish you a strong back and a soft front”.

Join me in coming out of our caves and partnering with ourselves and others to feel and share Compassion.


Nature ‘N’urated by Julia Roberts

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/10/2015

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
― Vincent van Gogh


Surviving and Thriving – Amy Purdy

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/09/2015

The human foot has 150 muscles to balance us as we walk. I found that bit of information fascinating. 150 muscles in one foot, just think about that for a moment.

This TED talk by Amy Purdy is inspirational.

– at 19 years old Amy contracted a form of meningitis, 1 month later she had both her knees amputated.
– 7 months later she was told no feet were available for snowboarding so she made her own and eventually entered into the paralympics.
– Today, Amy she dances with the stars. That’s the TV show BTW.

In her mind “she knew she would do it” – Amy was living with the knowingness, to see it, believe it so she could achieve it.

Her motto is to

Live an inspired life, not just be an inspiration

and the whole way through this journey a little voice was saying to her “You’re meant to do more Amy you’re meant to do more.”

I think tons of us live with this little voice in the background, the trick is moving from surviving to Thriving and Trusting that that little voice will lead you there.


A Tribute to Discomfort

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/03/2015

A couple of weeks ago I was walking with someone who told me that “if it’s hard it’s not worth doing”…….”if it’s hard you should give up”. Absolutely anything that is hard is out of the question, this person is 100% certain in herself that anything that is difficult is not working, and you must change or do something else right away.

Not sure what her take on giving birth was like giving birth was like? I wonder….Is it even, EVER easy to give birth?

I don’t know and I won’t ever know. What I do know is that every single person I have spoken to that has experienced childbirth has attested to the discomfort those moments created in their lives and their bodies sometimes for months and years.

In my experience life’s been a mixture of discomfort and comfort. If we don’t have both, how do we know the difference? or what it is to grow? to move beyond, above or through certain experiences?

Comfort Zone

Discomfort has taught me how to feel. It has pushed me to stay awake and aware that life can be lived in this dead end comfort zone, a place that can and does work for millions of people only, I’m just not one of them, and for that I am grateful.

It’s true that I can fall into this “it must be easy” comfort zone and even worse I can get caught up in long detailed day dreaming of how simple my life would be without discomfort, or I can get totally distracted when I have conversations about how easy life should be, but, when I’m lucky enough to can catch myself in those moments of realising that this is just not the reality life lives by, I remember allot more than discomfort. I remember how good it feels on the other side.

Today I discovered one of the most inspiring video’s on discomfort that I’ve seen in a very long time.

“Cory Richards was homeless and dropped out of highschool when he was 14. He started to photograph, climbed mountains in Pakistan and eventually, he became National Geographic Adventurer of the year. There is only one way to live: Live with passion. Every day”

Thanks to Sab from www.justonewayticket.com for posting a link to this special reminder!

May anyone reading this be blessed to know when the discomfort is worth staying with and when the discomfort is worth moving away from.

{ 1 comment }