Very recently I had the pleasure of getting reaquainted with a beautiful woman named Anoma Whittaker. Jessica and I knew Anoma in our pre-baby magazine days, back when the biggest problems we had were which event to hit up each evening. At first we were simply eager to catch up with Anoma–she’s got style for days and is smart as can be. She’s one of those people who looks cool even if she just rolled out of bed and threw on workout gear (as you can see in the photos below).
In the years since I’d last seen her, she and her husband have raised a gorgeous little family–her son Etienne is now 5-years-old, and their little girl Isa is 2. “They are hilarious together. It’s non-stop moving, dancing, hugging, squashing of noses, shoving, wrestling and all-round sibling love/annoyance,” says the Boerum Hill mom. “It’s been so wonderful to witness pure love and comfort unfold with those two. Their eyes light up for each other, and they both are able to make the other laugh and cry in seconds…..ahhh, siblings.”
That pure love she speaks of pours out of their warm home. And while Anoma pre-mama was someone who glowed from the inside out, there is a new level of life appreciation that radiates from her as a result of her recent experience. At around 7-months-old, her daughter Isa began having seizures. She spent several months on a wide range of intense drugs and diets, and was in and out of the hospital. Isa was having around 25 seizures a day, and sometimes more than 50. At age 13 months, a cortical dysplasia tumor was located in her left frontal lobe. The seizures got more intense, and the side effects of the many drugs affected her so much that the family opted for brain surgery. In April 2013, Isa underwent a multiple stage surgery. The doctors removed the tumor and surrounding brain, and she was in intensive care for a month.
Fast forward: the family just celebrated Isa’s one-year seizure-free anniversary. “The last few years, with all the challenges, have been the most intense and scary of my life. However, I have to say, they have been truly beautiful and reaffirming of my love for my husband, parents, mother-in-law, sisters and friends. I feel and appreciate the power of positivity and the need for connected community more than I had before. I say ‘thank you, world’ every day, that we live a wonderful engaged life. It’s not been easy, but we are living it fully,” says Anoma.
But that full life doesn’t just stop at the benefit of others. Whittaker has somehow learned to balance her life as not only a mom, wife and art and fashion director at a menswear label, but also as a woman who takes care of herself. “I started running recently as I had all this adrenaline from the stress and high-focused attention to detail with Isa’s care. I had to release it, or I felt I may go even more batty. I’ve been practicing yoga for 15 years, but just couldn’t find my center calm at all. So started to run. It hurt, and I was crap at it, but that toughness felt right to me…a psychical pain that I could put my mental attention on. The upside benefit was getting my stress-eating/hospital-staying body back in shape,” says Anoma. “Now I enjoy running because of the group of women that I run with. Also, being outside in the city before most wake up is quite magical and cinematic.”
I drank up all the inspiration that I witnessed during the time we spent together. And now’s your turn. Here’s a look at what a morning looks like in the life of Anoma Whittaker and her family.
5:20am — Rise, fight the urge to go back to bed, drink water and stretch(ish).
5:50am: Leave the house, run, stop running, ask myself “why am i doing this,” keep running.
6am: Meet the other running mums, try and keep up as we go over one of the bridges.
6:50am: Everyone has to run faster and split to get home.
6:55am: COFFEE (instagram if i have a good picture or time).
7am: Back at house, jump in shower, do hair and makeup, get dressed.
7:30am: Give kids meds, food, pack lunch and negotiate everything with them.
8am: Get kids teeth, face and hair decent and negotiate everything when getting them dressed.
8:15am: Leave house, stay calm as Isa screams while trying to put on her coat or shoes. Get in car.
8:30am: Drop Etienne at school, smile at Etienne’s teacher as she asks me to stay for one or another event, as i remind her again, I won’t be able to as i’m working, and stay calm as Isa screams or pulls off her shoes or wants to stay at Etienne’s school.
8.45am: Pick up Isa’s shoes and socks that she’s kicked off and drop Isa off at sitter’s house.
COFFEE and time to chat with Damian (husband) about the week’s going on and get to the office or studio. Take a deep breath and start the day.
Photography by Lindsey Belle