How mindful living has helped this new parent surrender to the journey

New mum to the adorable Maya, Via Tendon is on the parenting learning curve… though we can’t help thinking she’s had a sneaky head start! A marketing comms whizz, entrepreneur and yoga teacher, Via first discovered the healing power of yoga years before baby-making was on her to-do list! A daily yoga practice led her on a path of discovery, grounding and self-love that’s undoubtedly helped her surrender to the joy and chaos of new parenthood. And lucky for us, Via’s on a mission to cast her net of loving-kindness far and wide to support families in finding the right tools to raise resilient, tolerant and mindful kids. You go, girl!

You have an awesome track record in marketing communications, and were awarded a B&T 30 under 30 in 2016. Can you share a little about your career journey with us?
Thank you – it’s been quite the journey! Landed my first gigs with The Digital Society (SoDA) in digital operations and with Carat as a strategy coordinator. Since SoDA’s based in the States and Carat in Australia/New Zealand, I juggled two jobs around the clock for a while. Then visa issues caused a bit of a detour. I had to put my life on hold and go home to Indonesia. When I came back to Australia, I had to find a full-time role in order for me to stay here (shout out to all the visa kids!). I was very blessed to secure one with Spark (now Haystac) where I spent the next five years helping build the team from scratch. Last year I moved over to the client side at Cbus to build their in-house team, and I’m loving it!

You had a baby in July 2020 and are currently on parental leave. Congratulations! How did you feel as your parental leave approached and how are you finding the experience?
YES! Thank you. Well… five days into my parental leave, Maya joined us earthside, haha. So I didn’t get much time to relax before her birth! It is genuinely life changing in the most beautiful way and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. While this whole pandemic is outrageous, we were blessed to have my husband work from home as we eased into our new life and spent our days with her. To be honest, it’s the first time in my career where I’ve felt so at peace about ‘leaving’. Leading up, my team had everything under control: our CEO sent me a personal note; our finance manager took me through all my benefits; our people and culture team organised a smooth transition. The supportive environment really made a huge difference. And to be able to take leave and have job security during a very stressful period says a lot about who they are as employers. Very lucky!

How has motherhood changed your perspective on life and career?
Oh complete 180! It’s a humbling experience. 

I went from being in control, leading a team and getting shit done – to having absolutely zero control and completely surrendering to the whole journey. 

Things I thought matter, don’t. Things I swore I wouldn’t do before being a mama, I do. It is the biggest learning curve and it can be an incredibly lonely experience (hello 4am feeds!). But in all that also exists tremendous joy and love like no other. My centre of gravity has completely shifted. My priorities changed. And I get to watch her experience the world for the first time; my goodness…

You side-hustle as a yoga teacher and praise the benefits of yoga for good mental health. Can you tell us more about your journey to yoga and self-love?
Years ago, I walked into a hot yoga class for the first time, almost died and (insanely) thought this is cool. Let’s do it again! So I did. Every day. For years. Then realised it was a lot more than just physical. This moving meditation was healing. There was discipline and intention behind every movement. I wanted more and signed up to do a teacher training. And of course I did it during a very stormy period in my life (‘cos when else are you meant to pivot, right?!). Suffice to say, the whole thing stripped me back. I discovered how I was lacking a lot of self-love. I was running around demanding it from others and when I didn’t get it, I was destroyed. Yoga was the path that helped me discover the tools I needed to learn to love myself, let go of expectations, and ground myself. I don’t think I’m very good at it. But you know, practice!

You are passionate about educating families to put children’s wellbeing first, and coming up with fun and simple ways to promote good mental health in kids. Why do you think it’s so important to teach children how to establish good mental health practices early in life?
Because life is messy. Real real messy. And I want my kids (and others) to have the tools to live wholeheartedly. To thrive, not just survive. When I was a child, mental health wasn’t a ‘thing’ like it is now. Looking back, I was lucky that my parents were great at being there for me and holding space for my big emotions. But truthfully, none of us had the tools to manage through the real sticky parts. No one was comfortable to just sit with it. 

Pushing through was how we dealt with things, right? And sure that’s made a lot of us tough, but when you block out the darkness, you also block out the light. Surely there’s gotta be a better way to live?! 

I now know better, so I want to do better. That’s why I created Metta Play (bilingual yoga and affirmation cards for kids). For my kids. Yours. And everyone else’s.

What tips do you have for parents in raising kind and compassionate kids?
I’m so fresh to this whole parenting world, so I’m no expert and I am in the thick of it with you! But I know that with Maya, even though she is very young, she can sense me. When I’m stressed, she responds. When I’m calm, so is she. And I imagine the more they grow, the more they absorb the world around them. So start there I say, start with you. As a new mama, I’m very hard on myself. I don’t talk to myself in a kind way. And when I catch myself, I realise that that is not how I want Maya to be. So I start with me. And keep trying because I know we won’t get it right every time!

You’re an active supporter of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and the broader community. What do you think needs to change?
Everything?! Hahaha. For a diverse and inclusive society to truly exist, we need to understand that it includes all of us, everyone, not a selected few. We all have the responsibility to try to understand one another, to treat each other with compassion and respect, and to take action. We’re humans, we need each other. We need to stop tip toeing around one another. If you don’t know what to do or say, ask. Talk. Connect. Let’s chat about race, religion, politics, money, all that. Let’s have a discourse, or hell, even a spirited discussion. I mean, really why can’t we celebrate what makes us human, our differences, our colour? If we’re not willing to be uncomfortable or have an honest conversation, it’s going to be incredibly challenging to make any changes. *Though if you cannot handle a spirited discussion, I suggest giving meditation a go first!

How do you set work-life boundaries and make time for the things you love?
Honestly I stopped having work emails on my phone for over three years now and I’ve turned off notifications since forever too. It’s distracting and I’m unable to give two to three different tasks or people the same amount of full attention. So I try my best to be mindful in everything I do and it makes a huge difference! I think it’s important to respect your time and energy because there’s only so much of it and no one can pour from an empty cup. Though I have to admit it’s harder with lockdown where life and work blends into one. And with a newborn, boundaries do not exist. So in tough situations, I find it helpful to count the little things we do as self-care and boundary-setting like no screens during meals, or making a cup of hot water with lemon in the morning, or going for a walk after work.

My top wellness tip for busy working parents is… Breathe.

Fave time of the day… when I have the rare two minutes of quiet to myself. Husband, baby, and dog are all asleep. BLISS.

I’m reading… Mama Rising by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz (a must for first-time mamas!).

I’m bingeing… Chicago Fire (I need a series to get me through nursing 24/7).

I’m listening to… Brené Brown’s podcast (powerful shiiiiiit).

I’m grateful for… my family’s and my health, safety and wellbeing.

I’m inspired by… Maya.

Discover more Real Stories from our Circle In community HERE.

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