Posts tagged mental health
Getting 'Unstuck' From The Rut
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Here I am pulling myself out of the huge, gigantic, rut I’ve been sitting in for the past few months.

I used to have so much energy to actively snap pictures with thoughtful posts and the ability to write and edit children books for hours on end. Now, I find myself unable to write and unable to tune out all the noise and distractions in life to write anything at all.

I am a writer who has stopped writing altogether. Nothing could be more damaging to my professional skills and my sanity to stop doing what I love. Navigating life lately has been like sitting in a lifeboat on an ocean and each challenge has been a bigger wave that could take me under. As soon as I recovered from one wave, another was on the horizon.

Finally, the rocky waters cleared and it felt like I could breathe and recover when we finally moved out of my in-laws’ home. The pressure of trying to find a house, find a nanny, find a new school for Aria, establish Sire’s sleep schedule, make time for my new husband, manage the housework, keep a fridge full of food, spending time with the dogs, all while working full-time with NO vacation in sight was absolutely crippling. Even my outlet, writing, began to feel like a chore and God knows I already had enough of those.

I have had enough of this dark place I had been dwelling in and I am determined to start back writing and creating by remembering what had driven me to become a professional writer in the first place, my family. In 2016, I published my very first book ever and dedicated the story to my daughter, Aria and my husband, Dezmond.

They both inspired me for different reasons to put my work out there for kids and families to read. Having Aria inspired me to write books for kids of color so they would see themselves in the books they read and Dezmond inspired me to pull the trigger and release one of the many manuscripts I’ve been hoarding over the years.

When I finally published my book, I got such a high from seeing my words come to life with the illustrations and visiting classrooms, guest appearing at radio programs in DC, and having two professional readings at Barnes & Noble which is a huge fete for an independent author. I was even a nominated as Author of the Year in Social Awareness at the Indie Author Legacy Awards in 2018. I went on to publish 5 new books in 2018 under my business, A. Cole Books, and have mentored countless new indie authors since then. I know how incredible it is to create art, inspire kids, and challenge myself, so why did I ever stop?

Well the truth is, I had to move out obstacles out of my life that affected my creativity. I was living in the wrong place, hanging with incompatible people, and had the wrong mentality to take on new projects. We finally found a house, we found a nanny, we found a school for Aria, and all of a sudden, it felt like I could breathe again!

Moving to a new area allowed us to get a fresh start in a new home that my husband and I have already had a ton of fun decorating together. Eliminating my major ‘stressers’ allowed me to want to get back into my lifestyle as a blogger and an author because it’s who I am and what I love.

Have you ever been in a giant rut when life took over? What helped you overcome it?

Here’s what I’ve learned

Getting out of a rut is 99% about changing your mental state and 1% about the physical effort to do what you enjoy.

XO

Love thyself: Three Months Postpartum
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I had a baby three months ago.

This is the honest truth I have to say out loud when I look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes, I have to say it over and over again. I had a baby three months ago.

It seems like society places so much emphasis on “snapping back” after having a baby. I had so many people commenting on my body after having Sire, it made me incredibly insecure. I felt like a specimen in an invisible cage that was on display for people to comment on and give their opinions to.

I heard everything from “Yeah, you look bigger now,” only two weeks after having Sire. Well, duh. I also heard “Wow! You just had a baby?” [Cue the eyeroll]. Some people let it be known that it annoyed them that I lost most of my weight so quickly. Regardless of the feedback that I heard, it left an awful taste in my mouth like my weight and body were being picked apart by people I knew and even absolute strangers.

Why is it anyone else’s place to tell me how good, or bad, I look after having a baby? Three months postpartum, I still have about 8-10 pounds left to shed to get to my “pre-baby” weight but I am in absolutely no rush to see any specific number on the scale. Why? Because, I am so incredibly proud of my body and what it has done to deliver two healthy beautiful babies. So what if I have extra weight on my hips or that those stretchmarks from my first pregnancy look more noticeable than ever.

What I wish people paid attention to more than a mother’s physical appearance is her mental health. This time around, I’ve been able to keep postpartum depression at bay which is an incredible feeling to have a sound mind. I can be fully present at my job, and when I’m home being a wife and mother. I don’t have the fog of darkness that surrounds so many of us when our hormones are going haywire.

I know there will be plenty of time for toning to get ready for summer when I’m ready. I haven’t been putting emphasis on working out rigorously because I’ve been so busy trying to nurse a baby and establish a sleep schedule for Sire with my [amazing] partner.

I know that I’m rounding the corner to depart from my 4th trimester which is all about loving yourself and your new flaws as well as obsessing over your new baby. Love thyself. It is so important to be kind to yourself even in the midst of constant criticism from people who make a comment about your body. I’ve officially said screw all the feedback. I am damn proud of my mom-bod and the incredible blessings it’s provided, my children.

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What I’ve learned…

All you can honestly do is tune out all the comments and focus on eating healthy during and after pregnancy, especially if you’re nursing. Set fitness goals for yourself to start at your own pace. I encourage you to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs and focus on loving yourself from the inside out.

Keeping It Real With Mom-Blogger Sam Lenz

My goal is to share our experiences of women all over the world to show how much we can relate to each other, as well as support one another! I'll be reaching out to mom-bloggers, artists, entrepreneurs and influencers who you should be following if you aren't already.

Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment.
-Samantha Lenz

Samantha Lenz is a mom-blogger who should inspire us all. Not only is she a freelance writer who makes her own schedule, she advocates for mental health awareness and effortlessly snaps pictures of her life in British Columbia which is incomplete without her adorable toddler, Ry.

1. I was raised by a single mother and I know how tough it can be. What is your biggest struggle parenting solo?

Hmm, that’s a tough one - because most of the time the struggles can change day-to-day. One day I can be having a struggle getting my son to eat, and no other parent to try and help, etc. It can be something so minor to something so extra.

For the most part I would say my biggest struggle would be financially supporting my son on my own and the fact I am a “solo” parent. There is so much more responsibility - you’re playing the role of both parents.

2. What is your biggest concern about introducing new people you’re dating to your baby?

What’s dating? HAHA just kidding. Honestly, I haven’t had this concern yet. My son will be two in a few months and I sadly haven’t even gone on a date (I’ve considered it) but being a single parent - you don’t get out on your own much. So dating yet alone meeting someone is a hard task.

I feel though, my biggest concern when introducing someone is - not wanting me son to see me get hurt or attached to someone and have it not work out. And visa versa, I don’t need him getting attached to someone who isn’t in it for the long haul.

3. You were able to breastfeed longer than most of us could! How were you able to incorporate that into your busy schedule? Do either of you have separation anxiety after choosing to ween him?

Oh the topic of breastfeeding is one I cringe at but also smile. I was one of those people who were completely against it. I wanted no part of it (I said I’d breastfeed 6 weeks max)... well here I am 22 months later and still breastfeeding. I should say primarily at night and the odd time in the day still. You just do… I don’t really have an explanation for it. I finally got comfortable in public - so doing it wherever and whenever my son needed was how I fit it in.

I think he is having some separation anxiety and maybe I am too? We’ve cut back the day feeds - which yay! It was getting a bit too much for me. The night-time is hard though, he uses it strictly for comfort and I am exhausted. I’m hoping as he improves his sleep schedule and the amount of times he wakes up that it’ll improve his neediness for the breast.

I’ll update you once we’ve officially weaned though!

4. You talk openly about your battle with depression which affects so many of us especially after baby. What do you do to cope with your mental illness?

It does. And for myself I had it well before I had my son and to this day still have it. It’s not something that just goes away… it takes a lot of time (medication, therapy, etc). to get a handle on things. I don’t think I will ever get over my depression - but I can use tools to help manifest it and properly deal and cope.

For me I see a psychiatrist monthly - it’s a big help. I have also become very self-aware over the years so that also helps. I journal (hence I am a writer, I love to write) and read. Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment. Other things that I know can worked and have for others are exercise, support groups, and just talking to family and friends.

5. How does your depression affect your life as a mom and your everyday life?

The way it affects my life as a mom would be towards to simple everyday things. Some days I am just too down to want to do anything or leave the house. Don’t get me wrong I am still putting on my fake smile and being the best mom to my son. But some days there may be extra cartoon time and we’re eating McDonalds for dinner. It’s sad because I want to enjoy more of the little things… going to the park etc. but my depression and anxiety hinders me sometimes.

Same goes for my everyday life - I am very controlled and calculated and stress very easily. I can’t just be like oh let’s go to the zoo today. If I wake up on the wrong side, something doesn’t go right, the day is already shot to me. I like to pre-plan and be organized. I know this has to do more with the anxiety but depression hinders you from having a “normal” outlook on day-to-day things.

6. Blogging is definitely a great creative outlet. What other outlets do you have to blow off some steam?

I like to read, write, go to the driving and shooting range, shopping. Sometimes just having a good ol’ vent to a friend is cathartic!

7. Being a freelance writer takes a lot of entrepreneurial skill. What do you love most about the writing industry? What is your biggest obstacle for launching your writing business?

I like that the writing industry is always changing and evolving. Writing and written content is never going to go away. However the biggest obstacle is making sure you are unique. There are TONS of other people out there who can do exactly what you do. You need to differentiate yourself and make sure you are well rounded. I’m still new so growing my business. I also want to take some courses so I can offer my clients and future clients more within house and not have to outsource it.

I currently still work with and for a lot of other clients whereas I hope to have that go the other way around. I work for just me and have people I can eventually contract out. At the end of the day it’s a competitive business (price wise, how many people in your area do the same thing) there are a lot of logistics.

Also networking and knowing the right people is key! That is definitely a huge obstacle.
 

8. Life is one big balancing act. How do you balance having your career and having time to spend with your son?

Ah the word “balance”, I am not sure I ever will have balance or have ever had it to begin with. First off, I am lucky to be able to work from home; however the downside to that though is I am at home! Lol. My son and I literally spending 24/7 together. For the majority of the day it’s focusing on him and running errands and maybe a random work function or task. My real day doesn’t start till about 9pm once he’s in bed.

All about time-management and doing what works for you. I’d love to work during the day, but my son is only little for so long and that time is precious. I am fortunate a lot of work functions take place at night - but for business meetings and calls during the day my son comes with me (for now). Once I start doing better financially I can look at maybe doing drop-in daycare for those important meetings.

Prioritize!!!
 

9. British Columbia is one of the most gorgeous places on earth and you spend a lot of time outdoors. What are your favorite activities to do with your son?

Everyday things. Going to the park, beach, playground, etc. My son loves being outside and we have a great backyard full of toys and outdoor activities for him - endless things for him to consume himself with.

As he gets older I am excited to do more day trips though - go into the city, sight see, take day trips!

10. You and I share a love for writing, and tattoos! What is your favorite piece that you have inked on you and why?

Writing and tattoos really two things I love! I have ten tattoos currently, and have a few in the works. All of mine have some sort of meaning so I cherish each one in a different special way. I have one on my left forearm that says “Ich Liebe Dich, Opa” written in his handwriting. Which means “ I love you, Opa” in German. My Opa has since passed so it’s a nice reminder he is always here with me.

Follow Sam Lenz on Instagram at @snlenz