Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Metamorfosis by Gyscha Rendy

Today’s THE BIG DAY! My new book Metamorfosis is officially released in Indonesia!!!

My heart is full at this moment, not only because I am incredibly relieved and proud to put my work out there but more than anything, I am humbled and grateful for your love and support. Even though I had this little doubt earlier and was thinking to cancel everything, pull the plug and just keep the book for myself but I remember again YOU’RE all the reason why I wrote this book. Metamorfosis might be far from perfect but at least I try and I believe the only way to get better is to put yourself out there.

After working on this book for more than 17 months through ups and downs, I am so grateful that what started off as a dream and originally was just a rough idea I had in my mind for so long…now has been officially released!!! This book is no longer mine, but yours. Metamorfosis reminds me that nothing is impossible. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Although sometimes the journey can take longer but as long as we try, work hard, stay consistent, and don’t give up easily…we’d eventually get there.

Metamorfosis is a celebration of life, dreams, and hope. A journey about self-love and the courage to dream big, to take a risk, to do the hard things, and begin again. A lesson to let go, to enjoy the moment, and trust the process. Each page in this book has a different story, journey, lesson, inspiration from some very special people in my life that I hope will resonate with yours too. Writing Metamorfosis is hands down one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s not always easy to show up every day and maintain consistency but I guess when you care about something so much, you’ll find ways and do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. The best part is…when you pour all your heart and set a good intention on it, life would support you through and through. Writing this book has taught me to let go, to observe, to listen, to love, to surrender, to be less hard on myself, to be more patient and to trust the process. I started writing this book in February 2019. My short trip to Bhutan and Sumba that month not only have reminded me of the art of enough and the beauty of living a simple life but also inspired me to create again. At the end of the trip, I asked myself how can I give back? Being incredibly lucky to do what I love and always surrounded by amazing people who constantly create and make a difference finally convince me that yes, I can do the same things too. I learn that sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a difference, even the little actions can bring huge changes. You can always give back or create a positive change by doing something that you love. And if by doing something that you love can help or inspire someone, then that’s what success really means to me.

At the beginning, I didn’t enjoy my writing process at all especially when I set the goal I have to complete my manuscript in 3 months. But the moment I accept to write at my own pace, to take my time and create with love…my frustrations started to melt away and writing gets a lot easier. Yes, I still have my doubts and fear but I choose to do it anyway. I realized I will never be 100% ready, but I just have to try and keep improving myself, that way I’ll be ready. Which reminds me when I first started blogging in 2012. From small blog posts eventually give me the confidence to write articles for big magazines, then self-published my first travel zine, podcast, and finally… this book. Throughout the writing process, for the first time in my life I experience this weird cycle when one day I can write a few pages, feeling extremely inspired and productive. Then the next day I couldn’t even get out of my bed, feeling totally lost, confused, broken, heavy, not sure what I’m doing and just want to give up. But whenever I think about giving up, I just have to remember again the reason why I’m doing this and take one step at a time. It’s totally okay if all I did today was breathe or only write few words, one paragraph, read, or a little bit of editing. It was hard to process so many emotions and experiences, but also beautiful to witness just how much patience and strength I have to finish this project. Even at times when I hit the rock bottom and feel like losing hope and faith, writing – strangely enough always gives me extra strength, love, joy, peace, and inspiration to keep going. 

It is scary to put your work out there, to send your manuscript to publishers only weeks later you’d receive rejection letters. It is scary to think what if I never get it right, never quite arrive, never work it out or people would hate it. And I could go on and on and on worrying about things I can’t control, but what if the whole point is about showing up again and again, finding little joys in the moment and continuing on? I’m not interested in perfection but it’s the act of showing up, not the outcome that’s most important. Process over product. To know that I create with love and have the courage to finish what I’ve started, go above and beyond, and finally have faith that the right people will find my work and vice versa. That’s what I can fully control and truly matters at the end of the day. Even if this book fails, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I’ve got nothing to lose, I know I can always begin again. I can always write, paint, take pictures, record or create something. Even if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but as long as I keep trying, give my best, and keep putting one foot in front of the other then I know I’ll be fine. Despite the rejections or challenges I had to bring this book come to life, I have learned so much in the last 17 months working on this project and absolutely enjoy every moment. One thing for sure I know this book won’t be my first or last. Writing has been my passion for so long, my favorite place that I will always come home to. 

Who knew a decision to write a book would teach me so many things about myself and life, take me to a whole new journey I’ve never been before. The last few months haven’t been easy at all but to see this passion project slowly coming together and now my family and friends can enjoy my little work – it makes all the hard work really worth it. While I’m so lucky to find comfort in creative writing, I hope my little book Metamorfosis will give you comfort and inspiration too.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Vanda Seetoh on Embracing Vulnerability

This week I’m so happy to introduce you to a good friend of mine, also one of my favourite dance teachers Vanda Seetoh. I met Vanda at Milan Pole Dance School, Singapore when I first started pole dancing in 2016. It’s funny I joined her class a lot but we never really talked until we both happened to be in Oslo two years ago. I was just about to start my tour around Norway when I found out Vanda would teach pole dance for a month in Oslo. I thought oh, what a sweet coincidence to be in the same city with your favourite teacher. So I decided to extend my stay, join her class, then we’d explore the city together. It was during one of the dinners we had at our favourite restaurant Alex Sushi when we found out we actually had a lot of things in common. From our habits eating Milo balls in bed, to huge love for hiking, music, movies, pole dancing, road trips, to sleeping at the airport ( like a pro ). But what I like best about Vanda is her passion for dance, kind heart, and her commitment to grow and always strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection.

When Singapore announced circuit breaker a few months ago, I reached out to Vanda to find comfort. Everything basically changed overnight, leaving us suddenly yearning for the good old days. We’d talk about a lot of things; from those simple days we spent together in Norway, to our short holidays in Bali, to pole dancing together and going through big changes in life. Obviously never in a million years would we have thought this to happen but we still consider ourselves really blessed not only for our perfect health but also for the opportunity to travel before the pandemic. Like most people, Vanda and I struggle to deal with uncertainty. Some days are harder than the others. But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Perhaps this is a lesson and opportunity for all of us to reflect and rise from a painful experience. The best thing about being surrounded by a bunch of doers and dreamers like Vanda who constantly creates, even in the midst of uncertainty like this, she inspires me to stay creative and curious. To have the courage to create and express yourself, to tell the story and be seen when you have absolutely no control over the outcome.

When you see Vanda dance, you don’t only see her body move but you see passion, vulnerability, strength, and grace. Her authenticity is simply mesmerizing. The way she shows her most vivid emotions, raw, chaotically tranquil, wild yet at a state of calm gracefulness through choreography. Every dance step she takes is the accumulation of many small acts combined to shape her final work of art. Vanda would define vulnerability as an authentic state, it is not weakness but the birthplace of joy, creativity, and power. The simple message she’d remind herself and others that we’re all works in progress. We’re never done. We were meant to be infinite and there's always more to learn, understand, and relearn. That's the incredible thing about this journey and what makes life worth living. It's never ending, it's always unfolding.

As a dancer, Vanda loves to push her creativity to the limit and let her personal ideas dance across the room or on stage. While as a teacher, she enjoys her role to be on a journey of discovery with her students. To encourage and watch them grow. One thing I always remember whenever I join her class, she’d remind her students to be gentle to themselves. That progress is still progress, no matter how small. ⁠Dancing has always been about community over competition; to build, support, and lift each other. Grow. Grow. And never stop growing. Vanda has seen not only our progress but also the pain, the stories, the broken dreams, the will to fight on and the great ambitions that still exist. To be with someone and be truly seen and heard is one of the greatest gifts of all. Vanda understands on a deeper level what we've been through in class, who we are now and all we wish to become.⁠ A true connection. You know when they say people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime - well, I like to think Vanda came into my life for one beautiful reason…to remind me and hopefully anyone out there that we always have the freedom to create and the capability to be more than just one thing in life. To grow and evolve. Nothing is permanent. You are enough, you are strong, you are so capable to do great things in life. You matter.

It’s a special moment like this when you meet like-minded people, you just click with them right away not only because you have so many things in common with them but you also share the same point of view - is the reason why I love traveling and meeting new people. It’s like finding a little comfort, home far away from home or familiarity even in a strange place. Who knew your definition of home would change as you travel further. It’s no longer about the city you’re from but it’s the special people you meet along the journey who change, shape, and inspire you. Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you even when you don’t always believe in yourself. Make sure you stay open to their guidance because it's coming from a rare place of truly wanting the best for you. ⁠

Scroll down to find out how Vanda discovered her love for dancing and what makes her soul shine…

So, tell me about your background and what are you passionate about!

Hi, I’m Vanda Seetoh from Singapore. I started my dance training professionally when I was 18.  Lots of theory with mainly ballet and contemporary training back then.

I would say my passion is finding light and lightness in the things I do.  Of course, dance and teaching are mainly what I engage in and it has always been what I love doing the most but I think ultimately it is to be in a safe space where I can express myself creatively, sharing moments with like-minded people. To experience nature is definitely one of them too. 

When did you start dancing? How did you find your love for dance?

I started dancing when I was 18. I don’t really remember at which point I fell in love with dance but there was on one occasion where I saw an elderly woman dancing freely and I got so moved that it brings tears to my eyes just to see how she enjoyed herself very much in that very moment.  It was probably subconscious that every decision I made has drawn me closer to explore dance and eventually got me more exposed to it.  I’ve grown to enjoy dance more as it became a new language for my body and myself. I love how it is so electrifying, liberating, and how I can be so in touch with my feelings that I often find it hard to express. 

Why pole? How long have you been pole dancing?

I like how singular the pole looks but in actual fact it reveals the many possibilities on what can be done on it. It makes me feel whole. A combination of strength, grace, flow, stops, light, weight, dance, tricks. It connects people together, teaches me to trust myself and others. Been able to dance many feet off the ground and to defy gravity feels pretty dope. I’m intrigued by the technicality and physics aspects of it, new discoveries every day :)

What do you love most about your profession? 

To be on a journey of discovery with my students. Witnessing the confidence, strength, grace, and trust they build within themselves by time through much patience, dedication, sweat, and love for the things they enjoy doing most.  I love listening to their stories, struggles, and how healing it can be for some and be inspired by them every day. 

Take us a little bit on your process making choreography and the art of storytelling through dancing. 

I’d pick a song - sometimes a song from a movie, a song people would play in a store, or just from a sitting at a Kopitiam. Something that rings and resonates. I prefer not to intentionally go look for one and try to make sense of out of it. After I make a decision which song I’m going to use, I’d usually listen to them a few hours before physical working on the piece. I love looking up on words and sometimes the choreography revolves only just from one sentence of song and it slowly progresses. Usually, I’d have a scenario, an expression, or a character in my choreography. Sometimes nothing at all or everything at once. Part of the process involves the students who are attending the class, I like to challenge them with movements out of their comfort zone and comfort them back with familiarity.

I think first it is to have empathy towards the story, person, memories or message etc that you are trying to express out from your heart into your muscles which then creates the movement as an aftermath effect. I think behind every movement there needs to be an intention.  

When and how did you become interested in contemporary dance?

It was a gradual process and discovery through reading about various contemporary choreographers and watching different performances. I like how the boundaries are constantly being redefined and challenged, putting new perspective in existing idea, the limitation, and freedom that comes with it that interest me. 

What do you do to spur your creativity when you’re feeling stuck?

Hmm…when I’m feeling stuck I’d restart my whole creative process again. Most of the time when I’m feeling stuck it’s because I have a certain expectation of how the choreography should look like in my mental vision but once I erase that image in my head like starting again on a blank canvas and straying away from that expectation, there’s usually shift in state physically and mentally.

If you could collaborate, perform, or dance together with someone - who would it be?

No one in particular. Anyone with a light explorative mind, collaborative, willing to take risks, and open to failure.  Sometimes I reminisce dancing with my dad if that counts. 

What makes you happy? What makes your soul shine? ( I think I know the answer…bubble tea )

Walking under the rain, free dancing to my favorite tracks, a long hike and exploring foreign lands alone, watching nostalgic films and… bubble tea can? The happiness from first slurp to last is a real one leh!

To know that I have given my best for the day, that’s the best feeling!

I know you teach pole dancing in Europe. What’s the biggest lesson you learn during your time teaching around the world?

Go with no expectations and adapting the different challenges that come my way. Make the most of every moment and everyone that I crossed path with because time flies when love and play become a part of your job.

Have you ever doubted yourself? How to overcome fear?

Yes.  To first acknowledge that, then resolve it by questioning my intention and values. Then I’d be brutally honest with myself; either to shift my beliefs or to accept the truth forgivingly and I guess it's all work in progress still. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life?

I don’t really have any biggest lessons but it's all the small lessons I learned the most from.  And that less is more. 

What's your biggest achievement or your proudest moment?

To enjoy what I do for a living. 

If you could travel back to the past, is there anything you wish you could change and why?


If you could do/be anything in the world. What would it be?

I would love to be a mountain guide and live up in the woods. Also, it will be fun to have a second hand or vintage shop.

What's the lesson or hardest challenge during quarantine/pandemic?

I guess it was all the negativity and bad news that were projected everywhere on the media which got me quite depressed. It’s hard to deal with uncertainty but other than that, it wasn’t a big change for me as before the pandemic, I don’t go out a lot except for work. And at the beginning of quarantine, I was still recovering from my surgery. The rest and quiet time worked out for me. 

What inspires you?

Hmmm.. many things really. The smell of rainy weather,  a good song, the woman who cheerfully greets everyone every day without fail at my favorite yong tau foo stall haha. I think anything as long as I am present in that moment many things are inspiring. 

Top three favorite movies?

Most challenging question la babe! Okay…umm, Fight club, Millennium Mambo, Into the wild

What are you most grateful in life?

Whatever I have now. I am most grateful for having you as a friend, being part of this interview :)

Three words to describe yourself?

Idealistic, light-minded….and I have no idea.  Haha!!!

What’s next?

Tomorrow :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Yosi Yulandika on Reinventing Herself

When I think of someone who’s constantly reinventing herself and always improving, Yosi Yulandika immediately came to mind. We met few years ago in Club Med Cherating Beach, Malaysia when she was working as a nurse. Originally from Sumatera, Indonesia – Yosi and I share the same passion for creating positive change and dreams to see and experience the world.

My friend Yosi radiates warmth and positivity. She is fearless, bold, passionate, and kind. During her years working at Club Med, Yosi would help those who need her in the infirmary. After her shift ends, she’d continue training at the gym or learning aerial circus acts with the circus team. Her curiosity to learn something new and passion for circus finally led her to a big opportunity to join the circus team. Obviously it’s not easy to change and start all over again - especially if you join the circus, it’d require a lot of training, self-discipline, and commitment. But Yosi knows as long as she keeps putting one foot in front of the other, work hard, stay consistent, and never stop learning – she would be unstoppable. 

Last April 2019, Yosi told me about her decision to learn yoga in India. While she loves the circus and enjoyed performing with her team, she realized she still needs to improve her strength and flexibility. Once again Yosi took a leap of faith to move to Rishikesh for a few months, take yoga teacher training courses and travel a little bit around India. At the end of her stay in Rishikesh, Yosi has earned not only a yoga teacher certificate but also proved herself that she can always reinvent herself. You are limitless and what you do matter. Yes, change is hard and growth is often uncomfortable but it’s always worth it. Just remember to be patient with yourself, don’t rush the process…Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. 

It’s been really amazing to see Yosi’s journey and how far she has come in the last few years. More than just a registered nurse, a circus performer, or a yoga/fitness instructor…Yosi defines herself as a life enthusiast and she knows the best is yet to come. Even though there are so many things she had planned this year didn’t end up happening, but Yosi believes what’s meant to be will always find its way. Meanwhile, she can always choose joy and focus on the things she can control. In the midst of uncertainty like this, Yosi feels grateful for the opportunity to teach yoga where she can connect with her students, comfort others, and make them feel good. To know that sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a difference, even the little actions can bring huge changes. All you have to do is show up and be the best version of yourself, that’s how you’d create a positive change and inspire others. 

I find it really inspiring to see how far someone can go and the way life would support and surprise you the moment you decide to take a tiny step and change your life. That no matter what your current situation at the moment, at the end of the day you always have the freedom to start again and move forward.

Scroll down to read my interview with Yosi. I hope her story and journey would inspire you. 

Tell me about your background

Hi, my name is Yosi. I’m a yoga and fitness instructor based out of Penang, Malaysia. I’m also a registered nurse where I used to work at the infirmary at luxury resorts taking care of patients with emergency cases. Ever since I ventured into nursing science and kept an active lifestyle, I started to appreciate the importance of a healthy life.

I know you were a nurse before then you switched career to the circus. Why circus?

Why circus? Because it’s fun and amazing! It’s something that I never thought I could do in my life. I find it really amazing and mind-blowing at the same time to see how circus performers can fly really high while holding on to a single trapeze bar without fear. Or when their body moves so gracefully on a hoop or silk. That amazing drop they do when they perform aerial silk or hammock on the stage just under the spotlight…it’s so beautiful and breathtaking like falling in love at first sight. That was how I discovered my passion for circus.

Why India? Why yoga?

India was yoga’s birthplace many thousands of years ago. I would love to learn more of traditional yoga, as well as the philosophy behind it. My passion for yoga was the reason behind my visiting and studying yoga in Rishikesh (Northern India). Outside of yoga, I believe India to be the most amazing country. A melting pot of religions, languages, and cultures that makes a place I believe everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

I sometimes experience difficulty maintaining strength and balance on training days. I discovered that this was coming from poor breath control. There are many ways to fix breathing techniques. In yoga, we refer to this as pranayama; the control of life force, the extension of breath and the flow of life energy.

Practicing yoga has personally helped me with my breathing. So much so, that I would love to share my experiences through my practice with others, to help them create a happy and balanced body and mind.

What was the hardest challenge from switching careers and reinventing yourself from nurse to circus to yoga instructor?

The hardest part is to maintain and improve my skill. Nurse, circus, and yoga are completely different from each other. Being a nurse, I always have to study, do some research, attend some seminar to keep me updated while being a circus performer and a yoga instructor, it takes a lot of practice, self-discipline, and commitment. Especially with yoga, there’s a lot of body and mind exercises. If you don’t exercise enough, it’s easy to lose your balance, strength, and flexibility that you’ve built for so long and it’s going to be hard to start all over again.

What was your favorite memory about India?

It’s very hard to say because I have so many great memories from India. But one thing for sure, India is an amazing country. Indian people are so friendly, you’ll find a wide variety of healthy food too. During my yoga training in Rishikesh, I loved to start my day taking a morning walk by myself. Then I’d go to the edge of the river and sit there alone, close my eyes and meditate for maybe around 15 minutes….I love the minute I open my eyes again, I’d see the sunrise and beautiful nature around me. The crystal clear water of the Ganges river, the lush greenery, the sounds of birds chirping and bells ringing from the temple. It was just so peaceful and magical beyond words I have to take a deep breath and remind myself again how incredibly lucky I am to be able to witness this special moment.

Have you ever doubted yourself? How to overcome fear?

I never doubt myself but during training, I often feel exhausted, run out of motivation, and just want to give up. I find building confidence by learning more towards the goal that I want to achieve can be an effective way of overcoming fear.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned lately?

To create and maintain a positive mindset especially during difficult times like this.

Just like many people out there, the coronavirus pandemic has affected my life too. There are so many things I had planned this year didn’t end up happening or projects got canceled. The fitness studio where I usually teach has closed and my training was less effective since I could no longer work out with fitness equipment at the gym but at the end of the day, I’m grateful that I’m healthy and I have enough food and money to survive. And obviously I hope things will improve soon.

What’s your biggest achievement or your proudest moment?

When I set goals and achieve them successfully

If you could travel back to the past, is there anything you wish you could change and why?

I don’t want to change anything even if I could. But I do wish to create more beautiful moments with my family, especially now that I’m away a lot and we don’t get to spend time together like we used to. You know, people come and go but your family will be with you even when you’ve fallen. For the longest time, I’ve always been overthinking everything…especially when it comes to decision-making and I wish I was braver.

If you could do/be anything in the world, what would you be?

I would like to join the Air Force. Flying a helicopter with a mission to protect the country. Also, I would like to lead and empower women. Inspire and help them to build more confidence without losing their true feminine power.

What makes you happy? What makes your soul shine?

I’m not the kind of person who complains about anything in life but when something annoys or bothers me, I like to take some time alone so I can reflect, breathe, and relax. In general, I love to create happy moments every day like talking to my family and friends, learning something new, cooking healthy food, doing my training at the gym or at the park, or just laying down in my bed and watching Youtube, movies, or TikTok videos. It’s all about appreciating the little things and the simple joys in life.

What inspires you?

Anything in life. It could be you, that girl or that guy. I believe everyone has their own story. Your journey and experience matter more than you know. You never know how your story is going to inspire and motivate someone else. In this world especially during difficult times like this we need to share love, peace, be kind, and help each other.

What are you most grateful in life?

That I have a healthy body and mind

How would you describe yourself?


What’s next for you?

I’d love to improve my training and teaching skills. Maybe travel to a new country, learn martial arts, and get certified in NASM functional training.