Posted on Leave a comment

Solar Cancer, Lunar Leo: Understanding Myself Better Through My Natal Chart Interpretation

I met Sundea Salamatahari via her husband Fauzie Wiriadisastra, composer, physicist, and fellow co-founder at the Bandung Philharmonic in 2015. Since then I have had the privilege of her friendship and professional advice as an astrologer. Yes, you heard me right. Sundea studies natal (birth) charts and interprets them professionally for those seeking her help.

I was going through a huge change of my career in 2016. The philharmonic had just been launched, so the level of stress, responsibility, and risk that we took on ourselves were overwhelming. On top of that, I had just gotten out of some very abusive personal relationships (in fact Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships is the most read article on my blog). Oky, whom I eventually married in February 2017, was expressing interest in me personally, and I simply did not know what to do.

What I Learned From My Natal Chart

That was the first time I asked Sundea if she could help me read my chart. At first I was a bit scared and nervous. But I had known her for a while, and I trusted her. Thus Sundea read my chart and explained to me what it meant to be a “solar cancer”. My protective shell is very thick because I am incredibly sensitive inside. I am easily hurt, but I don’t show it. She discussed my natural tendencies in a relationship, and what I should be aware of because they were my “default settings.” It was an eye opener! Understanding my “solar cancer” nature helped me navigate personal relationships with much more ease.

Understanding my “solar cancer” nature helped me navigate personal relationships with much more ease.

A couple months ago, Sundea described my other nature: the “lunar leo”. As a “lunar leo”, Sundea showed me that I need a lot of attention from my inner circle. I become lost when that support falters. Leo and Cancer are also two very different natures, so I can sometimes be very confusing to myself and others. She gave me some suggestions on how to handle my differing natures, and how to seek the right audience for myself. I felt like she was reaching into my soul!

I find her readings deeply insightful. Take a look at Sundea’s profile, and if you are looking for a little help understanding yourself, consider the Renjana and Sanubari readings available at the shop.

Posted on 1 Comment

How Music Helped Me Deal with My Eating Disorder

This is a summary of my Instagram Live Interview last Friday 15th of Januray 2021 with Mutiara Nusantara International School in Bandung, Indonesia. It was hosted by Mely Sutrisno, School Director. I would like to thank the school and Ms. Mely for making the talk happen.

What is an eating disorder?

Let me give a disclaimer first that I am not a psychologist. I will be sharing what I experienced with eating disorders, from my point of view. There are three common types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Details of each type can be found in this great article by Healthline.

What type of eating disorder did you have? Was there a trigger that started the disorder?

My eating disorder was bulimia nervosa. At that time I was 12 years old, studying in a junior high school in Bandung. I was a very unhappy teenager. My relationship with myself was bad, I did not have a mentor to speak openly regarding emotional issues, plus ideals of beauty from images shown in the media were all factors that contributed to the disorder. The trigger however, was when a friend called me “montok” (which translates into curvy). I thought that being curvy was not beautiful, and so I had to do whatever I could to change my body. I had this disorder for 10 years, until I was 22 years old.

At which point did you realize that this was bad for you, and when did you try to stop?

At that time in Bandung, there was no awareness about eating disorders. So I did not realize that it was a destructive or dangerous habit. When I went to college in Michigan, there was more awareness about various types of disorders. Some people openly talked about their disorders. Student counseling services were also available, and that made me understand that this was something I needed to stop. From then, it took me about 4 more years to be able to heal from the disorder.

Did your family know you were dealing with bulimia? Or did you keep it all to yourself?

I kept it to myself because I was ashamed to be doing this. I did not know how they would react if they knew about my habits. My parents were also busy, so they probably did not notice the symptoms and my behavior patterns. At the time, they probably did not even know that such a disorder existed.

What are some symptoms or behavior patterns for parents of teens to look out for?

In our culture, we can easily miss the symptoms because one of them is eating a lot of food without control. We tend to encourage eating a lot, especially in family gatherings. So eating a lot can be (mistakenly) seen as a good thing. After the binging, I would always go to the bathroom to try to throw it out. So be on the lookout for that-going and staying in the bathroom for a longer period of time after one has eaten a lot of food.

Were you affected also by your social life in school?

For me, not so much. It was more the home situation, including the eating habits in the family. Older people tend to dump food on my plate, making it harder to be in control of my eating. So that’s a good tip for families: don’t put food on people’s plates, or force them to eat more food. Just let them serve themselves.

So how did you manage to stop the habit? How did you distract your emotions?

This is where music comes in for me. In college I studied piano performance so I had to practice 6-8 hours everyday. Piano practice required intense focus and high concentration. Since it was my degree program, I wanted to do it well. I needed to do it well, so I threw myself wholeheartedly into piano. One thing about music is that when we succeed to make better sounds, it feels great! It made me happy. I became proud of myself. (Check out this related post about how being happy helps to build a healthier mindset.)

Another factor was a college roommate that also had the same disorder. We trusted each other and made a pact to try to support and help each other change. This is crucial. I would not have been able to do it by myself.

What are activities would you suggest for teenagers who don’t like music?

Anything that is physical, requires concentration, and makes you happy. Drawing, dancing, sports,…lately I got into diving and that is an activity that requires full concentration underwater plus makes me really happy. But diving can be expensive, so just find another option that fits your budget!

Why should we try to stop the habit? What are the dangers if we live with that disorder?

Well, with anorexia you are malnourishing yourself, so you will be losing out essential nutrients your body needs. With bulimia, I was throwing up everyday. On my worst days I would throw up twice to three times. Imagine all that acid coming up through your system several times a day for years. It causes stomach, esophagus, and oral irritation and damage. Not to mention the emotional and mental destruction you are doing to yourself.

It is quite damaging for the long run. So one really should try to get help from a professional, or at the very least find a supportive community with a positive mindset.

Yes! And don’t get discouraged when you start trying to tell other people. Parents might not know how to react, some friends might not understand, but don’t get discouraged until you are able to find the help you need.

So what would your advise be if a child or friend told you that she/he is struggling with eating disorder?

Do not judge if your child or friend shares something with you. Acknowledge that it takes a lot of effort to be able to speak about it, so receive the words with care and love.

We’re at the end of our talk for today, do you have any last words for our teenagers?

Being a teenager is so difficult isn’t it? I hated being a teenager. But life gets better. As you get older you will have more experiences and be more confident in handling others and handling yourself. Hang in there.

Okay! I think that’s a good end for today. Thank you very much for your time, and I wish the best success for your music, work, and writings.

Thank you so much for the invitation and the opportunity. Have a good evening 🙂

*The full interview (in Indonesian) can be accessed on Sekolah Mutiara Nusantara IGTV.

Posted on Leave a comment

Favorite Hand Stretches

I might not know how to take care of my feet (read the post on plantar fasciitis), but as a pianist, I do know how to take care of my hands to avoid dreaded hand conditions such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. If your work depends on your hands, then watch out for these conditions because injured hands can be absolutely detrimental.

Prevention is key, and a way to prevent hand injury is to take breaks often throughout the day. Don’t go on doing the same thing over and over again for hours at a time. This is especially easy to forget if you do a lot of typing, drawing, or practicing a musical instrument. As you are taking the break, incorporate some stretches which will relax your hand muscles. Check out this video for my favorite hand stretches.

Your hands are incredibly precious assets, so I hope these tips will help you take good care of them! If you have other tips to take care of your hands, please share them in the comments.

Posted on 1 Comment

The Excruciating Pain of Plantar Fasciitis

In the beginning of the lockdown, I set myself up to building a new “stay home” routine that would keep me happy and functional. I took walks in the morning and evening, started cooking again (I haven’t cooked in ten years), read a lot of books on my reading list, and kept a very close eye on how I was spending my money. I also picked up something new: gardening. It was a complete joy.

I did all of these inside the house, bare feet. And I did my walks outside with flipflops.

A couple months into the lockdown, my feet started to ache, especially in the morning after I woke up. Then I contracted dengue and had to be admitted in the hospital for one whole week. I was so heavily medicated that I stopped thinking about the ache in my feet. My whole body obviously had more urgent matters to deal with. But a month after the dengue episode, the ache returned and this time even worse than before. On some days I couldn’t even stand up due to the excruciating pain in my heels.

I decided to go to the hospital again, this time to get checked up by an orthopedic.

The diagnose? Plantar Fasciitis. Treatment? Steroid injections.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is a common foot condition, affecting more women than men. It involves inflammation of the tissue that connects your toes to your heels. One of the reason women are more prone to suffer this is because women who are inside the house taking care of children or other chores are constantly using their feet, and often without proper indoor footwear. Too much standing or walking in high heels can also cause the inflammation.

I was aghast. The injections hurt like (insert some swear words). It really was that painful. And the steroid injections were expensive. They helped, but only for a couple weeks. I had to incorporate new habits such as daily stretches for the feet, inserting silicone gel pads inside my shoes, and wearing padded footwear inside the house. I still do all of this up until today.

Recently I met an older woman and was telling her about the shots. Her reply was “how many shots?” which made me almost pass out. One injection per heel was already traumatic enough for me! Apparently she had to get the shots quite often due to the her chronic pain.

This experience with plantar fasciitis has made me rethink everything about my footwear. The one good thing about all of this is, I think I won’t ever have to wear heels again.

Read more about symptoms and causes of plantar fasciitis here. To see stretches for heel pain, click here.

Posted on 2 Comments

Covid Hoax and Hopes – Podcast Episode 1

pexels-photo-5863359.jpeg

A new feature, which is as trendy as trendy gets this year… PODCASTING! In my podcast I interview women around Southeast Asia to bring their unique stories and experiences to empower other women. It’s the perfect way to introduce inspiring voices to this website.

Anna Meiliana, scientist

In this first episode, I interview Anna Meiliana. She is a scientist at Prodia Clinical Laboratorium, but not just any scientist. Anna is the scientific assistant for the chairman of the company. It’s safe to say she has the insider’s information on scientific progression of the virus which changed all of our lives this year. “Covid Hoax and Hopes” covers her current clinical experiments, to an in depth explanation of different types of tests, predictions on vaccines, and all the way to how this situation has changed her life habits. Listen in –all you have to do is click play!

Leave some questions in the comments, and maybe Anna will answer them in a future episode! If you want to share your story with me, let me know via the contact form.

The first episode is with special thanks to BASE Recording Studio.

Posted on 3 Comments

How to Stay Calm During Stressful Situations with this Breathing Technique

four rock formation

Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, is a deep breathing technique that will help you stay calm in stressful situations. It is especially useful when an emergency arises, and you really need to stay calm instead of panicking. With a calmer attitude and clearer mind, you will be able to assess the situation at hand and see what needs to be done.

This breathing technique is also useful if you have a high pressure job that needs extreme concentration, or when there is a high stake moment like an important sales pitch coming up. Resetting your breath and grounding your mind will relax your body, which will increase your performance. I myself use this breathing technique almost on a daily basis.

Watch this tutorial to understand how it works. When you try it, make sure to expand the rib and the belly as you are inhaling. Shallow, fast chest breaths will only cause you to panic more. Repeat as many times as you need.

The relaxing music in the video is by Bensound. To read more about deep breathing techniques, visit this article from Medical News Today. To read daily habits for improving self performance, visit this blogpost.

If you have found this video useful, please leave a comment, share, or subscribe so airinefferin can visit your inbox!