The Goddess Yoga Retreat April 14-21, 2018

THE GODDESS YOGA RETREAT

Join Tiffany Zoldan for a beach yoga retreat in beautiful Tulum, Mexico in April of 2018. This is a chance to explore the Mayan ruins and jungle landscape of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea, all while deepening your yoga practice, absorbing a gentle ocean breeze, and setting life-affirming daily intentions.

THE PURPOSE

The mission behind this retreat – to get in touch with, and awaken your inner Goddess and true self while recognizing any barriers within, and releasing / breaking those barriers in order to move on and love yourself. Being a goddess means being pampered and indulging the mind, body and spirit. The embodiment of this retreat to “fill up our cups” whether it’s by eating the scrumptious local food, treating yourself to a massage, skinny dipping in the ocean or enjoying some cocktails, you have permission to INDULGE!

THE REASON

Women are divine beings often spending time comparing themselves to other women instead of elevating one another and working together as a support system. By coming to this retreat we plan on pealing off the layers, letting go of any factors holding us back, and digging deep to unveiling our feminine powers to connect with our tribe.

THE WAY

We strike a balance between solo, reflective time, and social time. Through self-care practices, intelligently sequenced warming flows, (optional) sunrise meditations and walks on the beach, soft afternoon yoga, and powerful daily intentions, we will become the embodiment of love and the bricklayers of a cooperative human future. Expect to rid yourself of negativity through dance and movement, healing rituals and emotional exercises that aid in the transformative process of LETTING GO and AWAKENING THE DIVINE FEMININE WITHIN YOU!

THE LOCATION

Tulum, Mexico is about an 80 minute drive south of the Cancun Airport. Tulum is perhaps one of the most spiritually abundant little beach towns I’ve ever experienced. You can’t walk down the beach without gazing upon someone meditating, or practicing yoga. The food is healthy and delicious. The Caribbean Sea is warm and healing. People wake up for the sunrise over the ocean and climb towers to see it set over the jungle. The friendly community is off the grid but features comfortable amenities, and many healing services, from massage to clay baths to sweat lodges. Whether you seek to explore the Mayan Ruins and mystical cenotes underground crystal clear water caves, or simply lay in a hammock on the beach with a cocktail, THIS is a week to live in rhythm with nature’s cycles. This video captures the essence of what Tulum offers:

THE VILLA

Our private oceanfront villa combines the best of both worlds – privacy, spaciousness and chicness of our own 5 bedroom beach house, and the top quality service of a well-reputed resort. Where else would you have the option to ask for “room service” while staying at a beach house? Especially since ZAMAS Que Fresco restaurant is one of the best in Tulum, with seafood brought in fresh daily right out of the sea.

As soon as you walk through the gates, you will either want to change into your swimming suit and dive straight into the pool or head to the beach across the street. You will love burying your feet in the soft white sand, savoring the feeling of being on vacation in one of the best places in Riviera Maya.

CHECK OUT THE VILLA’S DETAILS

This charming vacation house is nothing short of beach bohemian’s dream. Designed with beautifully decorated rooms, high ceilings, antique hacienda doors and furniture, the house exudes a Mexican Caribbean laid-back feel that Tulum beach is so famous for.

With 5 large bedrooms, 3 ½ bathrooms, a sunken living and dining areas and a fully equipped kitchen we will have the freedom to prepare our own lunches at home and spend the day on the beach, swimming, paddle boarding and snorkeling. If you want to explore Tulum, the beach road is at your doorstep, and the town of Tulum is a short bike ride away.

RETREAT PRICING

Ranges from $1,775 to $2,375 with various room options in between. Both shared and private rooms are available.

Price INCLUDES:

▪ Beautiful accommodations (tax & tip included)

▪ Two yoga classes per day & meditation nearly every day

▪ One Sound Healing Sound Bath

▪ Breakfast and Dinner each day except for two off-site dinners.

Price DOES NOT Include:

▪ Airfare

▪ Transportation to and from airport or around Tulum

▪ Excursions/bike & kayak rentals

▪ Additional healing services

▪ Two off-site dinners

THE FOOD

The food at the resort is fresh, plentiful, healthy and delicious with a Mexican flare. The meal plan is based on the philosophy of “from the earth to your plate,” so preservatives and processed foods are not part of it. There will be lots of fresh fruits and veggies, with local fish and chicken options. Cocktails are not included, however, this is also a RETREAT FOR YOUR TASTEBUDS so feel free to INDULGE!

Restaurants nearby are quaint and amazing, so I have planned a couple of nights out to enjoy.

THE SCHEDULE

We are arriving to Tulum on Saturday, April 14th. Plan to depart on Saturday, the 21st.

ADVENTURES

You’ll find much to do in your off-time in Tulum. The city features Mayan ruins, cenotes (underground water lagoons), wind and kite surfing, nature preserves and more. The reservations desk can help you book these trips.

THE YOGA

Tiffany is an experienced, mindful teacher who will guide you through a safe yoga practice. Morning classes will be open-level Vinyasa style, appropriate for most practitioners with some yoga experience. Experienced practitioners will be invited to deepen the practice according to the body’s needs. Afternoon classes will be cooling, gentle, and restorative-style classes. You are welcome to take both classes or just one. The time in Tulum is YOURS!

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WHAT TO EXPECT: On your first evening of arrival, we will meet for dinner and then continue with welcome discussion and gentle flow. You will start each day with morning yoga and meditation under the Villa’s Palapa, followed by a delicious healthy brunch. There will be time to enjoy the sunshine, relax, read, get a massage. or explore many of Tulum’s sights. After all the yoga, healthy eating, discussion and sunshine, you will return home as a healthier and happier you – body, mind and spirit.

SAMPLE SCHEDULE:

Arrival on the 14th – 6:00 pm dinner, followed by 7:30 pm Orientation meeting and gentle yoga. Since this is a travel day, no other meals will be provided.

15th – 8:00 am Meditation or Beach Walk, 9:00 am Warm Yoga Flow, 10:30 am Brunch, Free time for sunshine, swimming, excursions, or exploring Tulum on your own. Then 4:30 pm-5:30 pm Afternoon Yoga Session, 7pm Dinner OUT as a group.

16th – 8:00-10:30 am same, Optional Day Excursion, 6:00 pm Dinner at the Villa, 8:00 pm Restorative Yoga session

17th – same as the 16th, with optional Mayan Temazcal (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony at 4:30 pm.

18th – same as the 16th, with optional Sunrise Sun Salutations at 6:30 am.

19th – 8:00 am Meditation or Beach Walk, 9:00 am Yoga Asana, 10:30 am Brunch, Free time, 4:30 pm-5:30 pm Afternoon Yoga Session, 7pm Dinner OUT as a group.

20th – same as the 16th, but instead of Restorative Yoga, at 7:30pm we will embark on a Multi Vibrational Journey with Alessandra Montana for a 75 minute Healing Sound Bath.

21st – 8:00 am Warm Yoga Flow and 9:30 am Brunch to accommodate early departures.Since this is a travel day, no other meals will be provided.

ADD-ONS

Depending on your desires, we have the opportunity to enjoy some additional Workshops! If you are interested in any of these activities, please share in the comment section. If there is enough of a demand, I will organize the workshop!

  • SUP ‘Stand-up Paddle board’ yoga on our own private lagoon. Click here for more info!
  • Barre3 classes. My talented and dear friend Jackie (the Owner of Barre3 Henderson) has offered to teach some barre classes if there is an interest. Click here for more info!
  • Temazcal (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony. Click here for more info.

ROOMS AND DETAILED PRICING

All-inclusive costs includes Breakfast and Dinner (excluding two nights to dine out) taxes and $15 per day tips to resort. Group is limited and will likely sell out quickly, so reserve today! There is an option to pay 50% today, and the remaining balance by February 1st, 2018.

THE MASTER SUITE ~ SOLD OUT 1 Private Master King ~ Top Floor with Private Bathroom

$2375 – private (single occupancy)

$1750 – shared bed (per person)

THE KING ~ SOLD OUT 1 Private King ~ Top Floor with shared bathroom

$2150 – private (single occupancy)

$1575 – shared bed (per person)

THE QUEEN ~ SOLD OUT 1 Private Queen ~ Top Floor with shared bathroom

$2150 – private (single occupancy)

$1575 – shared bed (per person)

THE DOWNSTAIRS KING ~ SOLD OUT Semi Private King ~ First Floor, overlooked by 2 single beds on Mezzanine level (shared bathroom)

$1950 – private (single occupancy)

$1450 – shared bed (per person)

THE TWIN ~ 2 Single Beds ~ Mezzanine Level overlooking Kitchen (shared room/bathroom)

$1775 – single bed (per person)

1 Single Bed ~ SOLD OUT ~ Mezzanine Level overlooking downstairs King (shared room/bathroom)

$1775 – single bed

TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT

Enter your NAME, EMAIL & SPECIFIED ROOM that you desire! You will be sent an invoice for the total amount with the option to pay 50% now. The remainder is due by February 1st, 2018. Please let me know your intentions!

CANCELLATION POLICY: If you cancel more than 60 days prior to retreat, you will receive a credit to use for future Aquaholic Yoga retreats, (no cash refunds). If you cancel less than 30 days prior to retreat, no refunds or credits are offered as we will still have to pay the resort for your spot.

LOGISTICS

• Fly into & out of the Cancun, Mexico airport. Arrive suggested by early afternoon on first day and depart anytime on final day.

• Shuttle packages available at additional charge from airport to resort. Prices range from $209 USD roundtrip for 1-2 guests to $255 USD roundtrip for up to 10 guests.

• You will need a valid passport when entering & leaving the country. Plan accordingly.

• Rooms are booked first come / first serve – doubles generally fill first. First included meal is dinner on first night & last included meal is breakfast on final day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to and from the airport?

We will arrange transportation for you in accordance with the resort, and a reliable resource they have used for years. The ride is about 90 minutes and I will help coordinate to share rides once you have your flight. Shuttle packages available at additional charge from airport to resort. Prices range from $209 USD roundtrip for 1-2 guests to $255 USD roundtrip for up to 10 guests.Renting a car is another option!

Do I have Internet access?

If you bring your laptop, wifi is available in the Villa and Resort.

Is gratuity included?

$15 Gratuity per day is included in the rate for the staff.

For all other questions, please inquire!

Until we meet in Paradise,

Tiffany

Why Tulum?

I was late when it came to ‘discovering’ Tulum. By the time I booked a vacation for my husband and I to explore Tulum, it had already blown up on Instagram, was considered a “Yoga Destination” and was featured as THE hottest spot to visit in various publications world wide. It was December of 2014, and Benjamin and I decided to have one last holiday before we were going to try for our first baby. I chose Tulum because of the yoga factor, and we were were searching for a place where we could ditch the alcohol and focus on clean eating and juicing. We certainly found what we were looking for…and then some!!! The beautiful long stretches of white sand beaches with aquamarine waters, dazzled my eyes. The countless yoga shalas to practice in, soothed my muscles. The incredible array of fresh fish, ceviche, fruit and juice nourished my body, and the magic of it all fed my soul. In many ways, Tulum awakened my senses. The gentle reminders on various road signs like “Stay Present” and “Follow that Dream” kept me in the moment.

The variety of places to explore ignited the adventurer in me. The hidden gems on the jungle side of the beach road sparked up the romance with the soft music and candlelight. Tulum sounds like the ocean, smells like copal, tastes like mezcal, feels like yoga bliss, and looks like paradise. However, waking up to the sunrise over the ocean each day was perhaps my most priceless experience. On any given morning I would see many gather on the beach for the sun to rise. Some would be walking the shore, others would be practicing their Sun Salutations, I even encountered a gorgeous topless opera singer who would serenade the sun with her voice. She reminded me of one of my dearest friends, and I was drawn to her freespirited fiery soul. I myself looked forward to the ritual of the sunrise, and envisioned my own dreams by manifesting them in those quiet moments before the day began. Perhaps Tulum is part of the reason I got pregnant with my first without ever trying. I literally got home after our first visit to Tulum, and within a week conceived. My soul had been satisfied, my heart was full and I set my intentions on that sacred beach the Mayans discovered centuries before.

Tulum-RuinsOver the last 3 years we have visited Tulum a handful of times and I’ve comprised a list if my favorite places to enjoy while there.

YOGA

Offers an incredible array of yoga classes in a beautiful jungle side yoga shall.

A stunning yoga studio right on the beach, offering the most exquisite view.

One word: MAGIC

BEACH CLUBS

Good vibes, amazing mixologists, and great daybeds to post-up on.

This place has a fun atmosphere with a caribbean feel.

BEACH DINING

Italian food, extremely romantic, and beyond charming.

Authentic thai food with the best view in Tulum.

Gluten, dairy, grain and refined sugar free food. SOOO delicious.

JUNGLE SIDE DINING

Argentinean steakhouse with a beautiful ambiance.

EVENING COCKTAILS

A magical mezcal bar to enjoy a cocktail or dinner, then dance under the palm trees and disco ball.

Really romantic place to settle in and try an array of fabulous cocktails.

DOWNTOWN TULUM

Located on the best block in downtown Tulum and my favorite place to get caffeinated. Also next to the best bar downtown that serve fresh mojitos right out of an old painted volkswagen beetle.

Local dive. HUGE portions. The ceviche is ridiculously good.

 

 

Yemaya’s Water Birth at Home

For weeks, I hadn’t slept well. Perhaps it was even months. Every night my intention was to go to sleep shortly after we put our toddler down at 8 o’clock, but I would lie awake in bed until after midnight each night trying to beat the heartburn that felt like a fire in my chest. On top of that, my growing little baby inside of me would dance from 10 PM till midnight every night. It was like the night brought her to life! As I got closer to my due date, she would burrow her head down onto my cervix. It was a sharp and shocking pain and there was no way I could sleep through it. My intuition told me that one of those nights she was going to dance me into labor. So on Saturday, January 21, I finally had the urge to sleep. My belly had dropped the week before, but for some reason I didn’t feel heartburn that night. I managed to fall asleep around 10 o’clock, only to be woken up at 12:41 Sunday morning with my waters trickling out between my legs. I was so elated! I woke my husband Benjamin up in excitement and told him my waters had broken. Then I wrote my midwives, and expressed how I felt like it was “go time!” They had other ideas. They told me to get rest while I could, and go back to sleep. Are you kidding?! I couldn’t sleep for the life of me. I felt like I was moments closer to meeting my baby girl, and it felt like Christmas eve all over again. My husband went back to sleep, but I laid in bed staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, I started having contractions and they were less than 10 minutes apart, each lasting one minute, for one hour. At that point I woke Ben up again and he called for the birth tub to be delivered to our home, but sadly by 4 AM my contractions came to a stop…

The next morning I shared the news with my midwives again, and they still told me to get rest because my contractions would eventually come in. Feeling good and resting was the most important thing. My day was pretty uneventful as I felt like I was just waiting. Waiting for something to happen! I labored for four days with my first baby, and it had only been 15 months prior to birthing this baby, so it was still fresh in my mind. I could still access the intensity of contractions like they happened yesterday. I could still feel the burning sensation of the ring of fire when I pushed my daughters body through my body and into my arms. It was all still so visceral. I think that’s why I was so anxious. Most women say they forget what birthing their babies feels like, but I didn’t have time to forget. Due to the grueling labor I experienced before, I had a lot of doubt circling my mind while I contemplated whether or not I could ever do this again.

Luckily I didn’t have too! As promised, second babies come so much easier than first. It was now the night of Sunday January 22nd and I went into labor after watching a movie with my mom on the couch. Benjamin, my husband had been sleeping for a few hours because he had come down with some flulike symptoms and a horrible headache. I personally think it was nerves because he knew what was about to take place. Needless to say, I got ready for bed because at this point I was exhausted, but as soon as I got under the covers, I started having very intense contractions and this time they didn’t stop! Ben reassured me that he was ready to be my complete support system and promised me that the sleep he had gotten rejuvenated him and he was feeling great! I on the other hand was completely drained from being up the night before, and because of the mind games I had been playing with myself all day. At this point I hadn’t gotten into the tub once even though it had been set up and ready for an entire day. This time I didn’t want to labor as long in the tub because when I did that with my first birth, I got extremely tired and relaxed which caused my contractions to slow down. This time my plan was to fight through the rushes and try and wait until I transitioned before I got into the birthing tub. Funny enough, everything was actually going to plan! My toddler was asleep in her crib, my contractions got increasingly closer together and more intense by the minute, and I continued to breathe through the intensity with the help of my husband’s strength. I tried to rest between each contraction but when they would come I would drop to my knees with my husband behind me squeezing my hips together with all his might. It was the only way I could bear it. I kept thinking… I remember this… I don’t know if I can do this… This is the toughest thing I have ever been through. I was very much in my head, and I remember crying to Ben at some point “it’s not enough!” What I meant was I needed more. More distractions and relief to push me through what I was feeling. I wanted the water! I practically ran down the hall to the yoga room where I birthed my first baby to jump into the birthing tub. I wanted the heat to surround me. I wanted to melt into the depths of my favorite element. Ouch! I couldn’t bare it! I put one leg in the tub and instantly pulled it out. The water was so hot because it had been sitting for 24 hours with a cover over the surface. It was 110° and I started to panic! I have a quote written on the wall above the door in my yoga room. It says “Just breathe. You will never have this moment again.” I focused on that truth. Ben immediately came in with buckets of ice to cool down the temperature of the water. I tried to wait patiently but my contractions were very close apart. For what seemed like an eternity, and in reality happened pretty quickly, I was finally able to get in the water. I sank down into the tub but felt an overwhelming heat through my body. I knew it was still too hot for baby and me, so I got out. It was short-lived, but nice all the same.


The next thing I knew I was in the living room on the floor on my hands and knees fighting through contractions. Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore Benjamin recited an intention to me. It helped a lot to think about these positive words as opposed to being in my head clouded with doubt.

Next Amy arrived! She has such a calming presence about her, and I immediately noticed that I started moaning and groaning less, and breathing more deeply in her presence. I felt safe. Half of my birthing team, or as I like to call them my “woman tribe” had arrived. Amy had been with me during my first delivery as an assistant midwife to Tiffanie who was also my midwife again this time around. Most importantly I got to hear my daughters heartbeat for the first time since my water broke and It gave me a new surge of relief. I had been wondering for the last 24 hours how my baby girl was doing. Now I could hear her tremendously strong heartbeat urging me on. We could do this. We could do this together and make this journey a beautiful one. I believed in my abilities, and I believed that my daughter would be strong enough to sustain this journey of ours. I felt reassured and connected to my baby, and was able to relax into the process of it all a little more.

Meanwhile, Ben and Amy got me through the next few hours of labor. They worked seamlessly together. Ben constantly squeezing my hips together with every contraction and reminding me to think about my breathing, while Amy whispered words of empowerment into my ears, and constantly reminded me to relax my shoulders. In between contractions I closed my eyes and fought sleep. I was exhausted and really just wanted to check out. My daughters little body moving further and further down held me accountable though, and got me to check back in each time. Amy gave me water to drink in between each contraction and rubbed my back. Ben continued to reassure me how incredible I was. It’s amazing how time seems to stop when your body remains in fight or flight mode. I had no concept of time as each rush of pain would slowly creep into every nerve of my body, then build up like a tsunami wave, then come crashing down taking all of me with it. There is nothing more intense then the miracle of birth.

Amy brought me back out of my head a few times and reminded me to pee. She wanted me to try a few contractions on the toilet. I’m not sure why, but this time around I only wanted to be on hands and knees. While birthing Kenza (my first) I tried to labor through my contractions with all sorts of positions…another benefit to birthing at home. My feminine body was made for this, and it needed to move. My body knew what to do, and I had reached a point where I was ready for the birthing tub. The lights were dimmed, my labor playlist was on, Ben and rolled up wet washcloths dipped in essential oils and kept them on ice for me, and my shrine with my aqua candle was lit. I made a shrine because of the name we had chosen for our second daughter. Benjamin and I had discovered our baby’s name a few months before she was born while on vacation in Tulum. Benjamin and I are both Pisces, and are happiest by the sea. Her name meant “Goddess of the Ocean” and I knew it was fate while I floated each day in the ocean cradling my baby bump and gazing up to the heavens. She was going to be our little water baby. Needless to say, choosing this name on vacation inspired me to take a nude photo of my pregnant body holding my nude toddler Kenza against my chest. My intention was to use this photo to focus on during labor. To me, this image was tremendously symbolic. It was an image of the divine strength I carry as a woman. An image of the female energy within my firstborn, my unborn baby inside of me, and me as a mother of two. All three of our heartbeats beating together, sun kissed and posing by the aquamarine water…the manifestation of my drams coming true… captured in a moment forever. That photo was placed on a table next to the birth tub, with a candle surrounded by sand, seashells and sea glass beside it. This was a shrine made for the Goddess of the Ocean Yemaya, mother of all, to grant me the safe passage of my baby.

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Once I was in the water this time, I remained there, humming and even swaying a little to the music I had chosen for this birth. My moans increased and so did the pain. During each rush Amy would slowly pour water over my sacrum letting it trickle from a cup. It felt magical.

Tiffanie arrived and Amy continued to check on my baby’s heartbeat. It would quicken like mine with every rush, then slow down like mine as the contraction subsided. Baby was doing amazing. I was given some honey to keep my energy up and some melon as well. Benjamin continued to place cold mint washcloths on my face and I felt his devotion and support. I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I was to finally be experiencing my dream birth…the birth I had envisioned but never had with my first.

The sun had risen and soon after my mom arrived to be with Kenza when she woke up. My mom had witnessed my first birth, and her energy, love and kiss on my forehead worked wonders as she entered the room to share her belief in me. Shortly after Kenza began to stir.

I was close, although I didn’t know it because I was still trapped in the past and preparing mentally for the marathon. Amy used the Doppler again to hear our sweet girl’s heartbeat but she was having a hard time finding it as I contracted on hands and knees in the water. Ahhhh, there it was. The most incredible sound in the world. Music to my ears. Life. My baby had dropped even lower. What felt like moments later, I had the urge to push. I didn’t even feel my body transition. I just felt a “jump out of my skin” sensation and literally wanted to do just that. My body took over, I jumped up and stood in the tub while bearing down and pushing with all my might. I heard the distant voice of Tiffanie telling me to get back down in the water, then the next thing I hear is to pick my baby up out of the water! It was in slow motion for me, but the birth video shows that this all happened in seconds. It was an out of body experience for me. I remember looking down and seeing my baby girl at the bottom of the tub with eyes wide open looking up at me! Insane!! Tiffanie grabbed her and next thing I know she is on my chest still fixated on my face! Our eyes locked.

I was coming back to my body. Tiffanie kept saying she’s here. I was in shock and disbelief! One push and she dove headfirst down into the tub making an entrance into the world with a splash. She was our water baby alright! Yemaya was perfectly pink, had huge eyes and a tiny but strong body. She was holding her head up to look at me. It was love before first sight this time because with second babies you already know the feeling of a love stronger and more protective then anything in the world. You already know that this tiny little baby will make you more fearful, emotional, empowered and fierce then ever before. I had doubts that my heart may not have enough room to expand any more then it already has with Kenza. I used to think how could I possibly love my second child as much as I love my first? Well it just happens. Instantly. My heart is more full then I ever imagined it could be…and the moments that followed are burned into my mind forever. Benjamin behind me, gazing over my shoulder at our new daughter

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My mom bringing Kenza into the the yoga room, this sacred place in our home where both of my daughters came to me earth side…


I will always recall the sound of Yemaya’s first cry…Kenza reaching out and touching her baby sister for the first time…

My husband gazing in wonder at his second daughter before cutting her cord…


Laying in my own bed with my family and my midwife Tiffanie helping Yemaya latch on to my breast for the first time…

The moment I realized that I was there in my room with my girls…my two girls! My two incredibly healthy daughters! The whole idea of it was surreal! I was a mother of two!

Seeing Ben enjoying skin to skin time with our new baby and the bond they had sparked.


Suddenly we were a family of four, and as we gathered and embraced each other I felt complete. I was certain that this little girl had chosen us to be her parents for a reason. Gods master plan was unfolding, and for the first time in my life, I learned the lesson of simply letting go and trusting. Yemaya was here.

Yemaya’s Birth Playlist ~ Goddess of the Ocean

Written by Tiffany Zoldan

Midwife: Tiffanie Gonzales

Assistant Midwife: Amy Huntsman

Hi, I’m Tiffany & I’m an AquaHolic

It all started with a family trip to Venezuela when I was a kid. It was the first time I had ever seen water so blue…aquamarine to be exact. We were flying to a place called Margarita Island, and as I looked out the airplane window, I was dazzled by the various colors of aqua and turquoise below. Considering I grew up in Canada and had been accustomed to grey skies and cold weather, I was shocked that colors like this actually  existed in nature. That was it! I decided then and there that I was going to travel the world to discover the perfect white sand beaches and azure seas.

Fast forward to now, and while I have searched far and wide for the most beautiful beaches in the world, from the South Pacific to the Caribbean, Australia to Europe, Asia to South America, I’ve been blown away by the awe-inspiring pieces of paradise I’ve been blessed enough to visit. However, I realized over the years that it wasn’t enough for me to just visit these places, I wanted to choose one and live there… and this is where the story begins.

See this blog is called AquaHolic JOURNEY for a reason. I know it’s cliche, but it’s really not about the destination, it’s about the journey. If it had been up to me, I would’ve moved to a bohemian beach town years ago, but I’ve had to learn patience, which is MUCH easier said than done for me.

I also met, fell in love with, and married my soulmate, and somehow convinced him to take this crazy journey with me, although he didn’t need much convincing since he is a water lover also.

We have much more in common then our wanderlust and love of the ocean though. We are both Pisces, exactly one week apart in age, we were both born and raised in Canada, but are also American (thanks to each of our American Mom’s) and we adore our family. Oddly we met in Vegas where we currently reside, but that’s another story.

Back to patience…the virtue I just do not have (sigh) I’ve had to learn patience because my husband is rational and realistic, and I am a dreamer. Luckily for me he makes dreams come true, and he does so with careful thought-out planning. Needless to say we put our plans into motion, and have been moving forward, albeit slow and steady. Not to mention our plans have changed and evolved over the 8 years we’ve been together, and so have we. Our goal is still same, but we certainly upped the anti…We started out as a young couple without a care in the world and no responsibilities, to a more practical duo who got married and bought a house. After a lot of work and saving, plus a ton of market research in various beach locations around the globe, we purchased our plot of land in our dream destination. Now, we are ALL in with 2 baby girls, a mortgage, a motorcycle, some land and a dream… So THIS story is not so much about MY journey as a free spirited gypsy soul…because while I am still all of those things, I am now part of a fabulous and fearless foursome, and together WE are on an AquaHolic journey to living a life by the sea.

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This journey will include all things related to water in our lives, including my two natural water births I had over the last two years. It will cover the progressional steps we are taking to start our business, learn a new language, move to a foreign country with our beach babies in tow. Also, we may live in the desert right now, but I’m on the lake as much as possible teaching SUP Yoga, planning my yoga retreats, and using the water to get my pre-baby body back~ whether it’s through swimming or mermaiding;)

So if you’ve ever dreamed about leaving the rat race for the beach pace, my hope is our journey will inspire you. Even if you are choosing to live a more authentic life by tapping into your own dreams and pursuing them, I would love to know what your passions are!! It takes courage, faith and perseverance to make a dream become reality, so be prepared to hear the up’s and down’s and everything in between when it comes to ours.

I’m Tiffany and I’m and AquaHolic. Who are you, and what are your passions?

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Kenza’s Water Birth at Home

Before Birth

It was Sunday September 27th, 2015 and I was a week overdue with my first child. That night there was a blood moon eclipse, and my husband and I went to a music festival in Vegas called “Life is Beautiful” (how fitting) to dance under the sky in hopes of inducing labor naturally. To our dismay, my high energy dance moves did nothing more then wear me out! If only I had foreseen how important rest and sleep were going to be in preparation for the week ahead…unfortunately my husband Benjamin and I had no idea…

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Day 1

On Monday afternoon my incredible midwife Tiffanie Gonzales came to our home to sweep my membranes with the intention of hopefully jump starting my labor. I was starting to worry that my dream water birth at home wasn’t going to happen if I stayed pregnant much longer. After Tiffanie examined me, she said I may feel some cramping, and sure enough that night I began to have menstrual type cramps. By 6 am on Tuesday morning, I felt my first contraction, and that was the pivotal moment when my marathon of a labor began. My husband Benjamin and I were excited, and decided to walk around the neighborhood to help with my contractions. We purposely held off on letting anyone in our family know that I was in labor, because we wanted to wait until I was definitely in active labor. Funny enough, most of our family and friends called or ‘checked in’ that morning anyway, as if they had a sixth sense of what was taking place. Tuesday ended up being a long day because my contractions were happening every 8-10 minutes and would last 45 seconds each time. This went on for most of the day, but then suddenly the contractions would stop for an hour and I’d have a break. I was also bleeding, which Tiffanie reassured me was a good sign that my cervix was changing. I was feeling very optimistic and since the contractions were nothing that I couldn’t handle, Benjamin and I decided to distract ourselves and leave the house for a couple hours that evening. He went to play golf with a buddy, and I went over to a girlfriends house for dinner with my mom. All the while I timed my contractions on my phone. After dinner, I left my friends house in good spirits thinking that I would meet my baby later that evening! It had been over twelve hours of pretty steady contractions, and I thought I must be getting close. Tiffanie suggested I have a glass of wine to help me fall asleep, but Ben and I didn’t have much luck as I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour before I’d wake up in excruciating pain. I didn’t realize that the fetal position I was trying to sleep in, was the reason I woke up with really intense contractions. Once again, at that point I had no idea that this position of side lying would end up both helping me and haunting me in the near future. Later that night, my contractions intensified and I had to put all of my attention and concentration into them. We got the okay to call for the birthing tub to be delivered. It was “go time!” The tub was delivered and set up in our yoga room at 2:39 am. Benjamin set the tone for a beautiful birth~ the water birth I had envisioned since the moment I discovered I was pregnant. We couldn’t wait to meet our daughter, and we wanted to welcome her into a soothing and calm environment. Candles were lit, soft music was playing, and snacks were prepared. I was alternating between birthing positions by pacing the hall, bouncing on the birthing ball, getting on my hands and knees, slow dancing and making out with Benjamin, all which seemed to be helping my body to open up. We worked through the rushes of contractions all night, and before we knew it, it was Wednesday morning.DSC05112

Day 2

Benjamin and I experienced much of the same on Wednesday, except that the contractions were harder to handle, as they would last over a minute and were happening more frequently. Tiffanie said my body must be trying to move baby into a better position, and that if I didn’t get into active labor by Thursday, I could start taking herbs, and she would try stripping my membranes again. I was also beginning to feel discouraged and tired, so I turned off my phone to disconnect and concentrate on the task at hand. I needed to live in the moment. I was paying close attention to baby’s movements, thinking that this must be hard on her too. On Wednesday evening Tiffanie came by the house to check on me. She felt our baby’s heartbeat and dropped off the herbs. Our daughters heartbeat was strong and steady as ever, and I focused on that to get me through. Tiffanie also examined me and said that I was 100% effaced and 6 cm dilated, and admitted to me that the first time she swept my membranes on Monday, I was only 50% effaced and not even 3 cm dilated. That sounded like progress to me! Tiffanie told us to rest up. Needless to say, sleep never came that night, because as soon as I dozed off in fetal position, I woke up 20 minutes later frightened due to the sensations I was experiencing. I literally dropped out of bed onto the floor convulsing with unstoppable shakes in the middle of the night. The pain I felt was unbearable and I was suddenly freezing. I started crawling to the bathroom feeling disoriented and crying. It was the first time during the labor that I went into a dark place in my mind. I felt the urge to be put out of my misery. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was exhausted, and didn’t know what was happening to my body, and I felt so scared. Benjamin rushed over to me with a pile of blankets and wrapped me up while trying to calm me down. I felt delirious and just wanted it all to end. I spent most of the night in the birthing tub so I could feel warm again. Having the warm water surround my body helped soothe me.DSC05093

Day 3

By 5 am on Thursday morning, when I was pacing the hall, my water broke! The gush was undeniable and it gave me a new sense of hope that I was in fact making progress! An hour later I took the herbs to help speed things up, and we had our acupuncturist come to the house to see if she could help. She gave me clary sage to rub on different points of my body and worked her needle magic. The contractions were picking up and coming about 7 minutes apart and lasting over a minute and a half each time. Benjamin was keeping Tiffanie updated via phone. Now, when I read their text messages to each other, their words warm my heart; Benjamin: “Her breathing is strong, mind is strong, body is showing signs of exhaustion. Tiffanie: “I know she’s tired but she has what she will need to birth this precious girl. Hug her for me and tell her I will be seeing her soon.”
Tiffanie came again Thursday evening to check on me. She didn’t do a vaginal exam because my waters had ruptured, but I was able to up the amount of herbs I was taking. My spirits were sinking, although Benjamin was doing everything in his power to keep them high. He was also sleep deprived, but he never wavered. He was my rock. He was there for me through every contraction, and every painful rush of sensation. That night, after four consistent hours of having contractions coming every five minutes, and lasting for over a minute, we called Tiffanie to let her know we made it to the 5-1-1 labor rule. The first person to arrive at our home was Amy, a midwife in training and professional doula. We had gotten to know her over the course of my prenatal care, and we loved her sweet and positive vibe. She told us she dreamt about my labor and delivery, and in her dream my labor also started and stopped over and over again. However she assured me that I ended up giving birth in our home with Tiffanie by my side, and she saw our cute, healthy, wide eyed daughter. I was truly hoping that Amy was right! This was Ben’s and my third sleepless night, and I felt like I had checked out of my body to try and cope with the sleep deprivation. The rushes were strong and relentless. I couldn’t seem to catch a break. I tried to visualize meeting my baby but started to doubt whether or not she was going to come. I knew I was losing it. Also, I didn’t want to be anywhere else but the tub because the hot water helped me cope with the pain, but it also fatigued me quickly and seemed to stop my contractions. Amy probably sensed my frustration so she encouraged me to insert my finger inside of me to feel my daughter’s head. I was nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect. Questions circled my mind like; how far would I have to put my finger in, or what if I damaged her little head? I tried it while I was in the tub and was surprised by how close she was! I just couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long! I decided to trust the process and allowed the anticipation of meeting my baby to keep me feeling positive.

Day 4

Early Friday morning, Benjamin, Amy and I took a short nap on our living room couches. Lying on my side however increased the pain so much that I couldn’t sleep. That was when Amy suggested I try the side lying position for a few contractions, and explained that although it will hurt, it will help turn the baby and move her down. I hated it, but I managed. Tiffanie arrived later that morning, and wanted me to have Acupuncture again. Our Acupuncturist Angela had a peaceful way about her, and seeing her in our home with her 6 month old daughter, gave me some confidence. She could see how discouraged I was, as I explained my fear of the contractions pausing again. I later found out that Angela mentioned to Tiffanie that she thought it was going to be another long day. She was right. Acupuncture tired me out, so Tiffanie got Benjamin and I, to cuddle up for a catnap in our bed. She woke us up at 2pm. That’s when what I call the moment of truth “come to Jesus” conversation took place. Tiffanie looked me straight in the eye, and told me that I needed to get into active labor within the next two hours, or we would have to transfer to the hospital. My biggest fear of being inadequate flooded my mind. I also felt guilty thinking that I was harming my baby, not to mention myself by being stubborn and trying to handle four days of labor without medical attention. I was terrified of medical intervention and having to get a C-section, so I asked Tiffanie what could I do to make this happen? She told me to go outside and walk up and down my stairs while doing lunges. I knew, that she knew how badly I wanted this home birth. I turned to Ben and asked him to finally let our entire network of family and friends know that I was in labor. I needed support more than ever. I asked him to send out a prayer call. A good look at myself in the mirror put me into action. I told myself to open, and that my body was made for this. I then took my 42 week pregnant butt up and down those stairs with gumption.DSC05106Benjamin put on happy tropical dance music and I started to believe in myself once more. I would not be defeated. I found my courage and repeated the words “I am a woman and I am strong” over and over again. Finally I put myself into active labor…and for the first time, the contractions didn’t slow. It was tough, but I was excited to transition. My breathing became shallow as I fought through the rushes, and Tiffanie reminded me that if I don’t breathe deeply, our baby won’t get any air. I grasped onto Benjamin by draping my arms over him, and we stood there rocking and breathing together through every wave of building sensation.dsc05118-e1498715233853.jpgAll my efforts were paying off as Tiffanie mentioned she saw that baby was dropping. My mom had joined us at this time as well. Ben and I really wanted an intimate delivery for just the two of us to experience as this was our first born, but having my mom come at the very end was exactly what we needed. Considering what we had been through, her soft touch and soothing words made all the difference. Benjamin finally got a bit of a break and had a chance to eat as well. All seemed well until Tiffanie wanted me to try the side lying position on the couch again, and I lost my mind. I immediately said no. She politely nudged my mom and Benjamin to make me do it, and I literally started begging them to not make me. I would try ANYTHING else but that. I was frantically shaking my head no and my mom says she saw a fierce look in my eyes pleading to stop this from happening. If I sound dramatic, it’s because after every sensation I had felt during my entire labor, side lying was the only time I truly suffered. Pain comes and goes, and while the pain of a contraction is like nothing else I have ever known, it at least comes, builds up to a climax, and then subsides. Side lying in Active Labor however, is still the reason I don’t know if could ever put myself through birth again. Words can’t describe the horror this birthing position put me through, and after 4 days of contractions, no sleep, no drugs and no baby…I just couldn’t handle suffering. Unfortunately I did. I got it done kicking and screaming, but I got it done, and my mom and Benjamin got me through it. Afterwards, I desperately wanted to be in the tub again, so in I went. Shortly after I had the urge to push!!! I was elated! No one could tell because I looked and felt like death, but I was completely relieved to feel something different! I was close to meeting my daughter, and I put my finger inside once more to feel her head. It was soft, and right there! She was so close! Unfortunately I missed out on the first set of urges to push because I was still trying to breathe deeply through them. It wasn’t until I understood to hold my breath and bear down, that I was getting somewhere. I preferred being on my knees and leaning over the edge of the tub searching Benjamin’s eyes for faith. He never let me down. He stared right back at me urging me on with positive affirmations, and his touch made me believe. After three pushes my daughters head was out! Tiffanie shone a flashlight on her and confirmed that her eyes were open and she had her little hand pressed to her head. We all waited for what seemed like an eternity for me to have another urge to push. It didn’t come, so Tiffanie asked me to push anyway. I worried about my daughters head just hanging underwater without air, still stuck halfway inside of me, so with every last ounce of my energy, I pushed with all my might, and let out the loudest scream with it. At that moment, my life changed in an instant.

IMG_20170628_230620Our daughter Kenza was born with eyes wide open, and was lifted out of the water and immediately put on my chest for me to hold. I didn’t cry then because I was in shock that she was finally in my arms, and I was so relieved that she and I made it through this difficult journey together! I’m crying now however, as I relive how insanely magical it was to create life, give birth and then meet our child for the first time. Kenza Aria Zoldan came to us earth side at 11:04 pm on October 2nd. She was 7 lbs 9 oz. I too was reborn, but this time as a mother.IMG_20170628_230933

After Birth

As far as my health goes, I had a few complications that only happened because of the length of time it took to deliver. Naturally the body will eventually give out when it has been so taxed. We also had no idea that Kenza was stuck because she had her hand presented above her head (nuchal hand) and her elbow was preventing her from coming out. My little super girl was determined to come out hand first, however, after 4 days and what seemed like an endless labor, not to mention 42 hours after my water broke, I gave birth to my healthy and tough baby girl with her strong heartbeat and strong will. I personally believe that Kenza is so alert and healthy, because I was able to give birth without any medical interventions, in the comfort of my home, surrounded by my loved ones who truly believed in me. It’s proof that birth works, even when all odds are against you. Birth works.

Kenza’s Labor Playlist

Written by Tiffany Zoldan

Midwife: Tiffanie Gonzales

Assistant Midwife: Amy Huntsman