“But, how are you really doing?” #MentalAwarenessMonth

May is “Mental Health Awareness Month” and given the current state that the world is in, we are ALL way past due for a mental health check.

So how are you doing? I mean reaallllyyyy doing? And I am asking the real you. Not you as a mom or wife or the rock of your family. Not the you that has to hold it together because you have so many people depending on you and a To-Do list a mile long and bills to pay. Strip away the titles and reasons why you can’t feel the way you feel and tell me how you’re really doing. Not so well? Yeah, me either girl. So let’s work on that, together.

Lately I have felt my mental health being on the decline. With every blessing that I’ve been getting lately there has been bad news soon to follow. And although that’s life, I can’t help but feel worn thin. Life is rough enough when you have the option to forget your cares for a while at a Happy Hour or Brunch but unfortunately that won’t be an option for a while. And since the corporate office at Target still refuses to put a bar in any of their stores we’ll have to figure out other means of maintaining our mental well-being. So I’ve put together a list of 5 things I’ve been doing to incorporate self-care into my daily routine.

1. Prayer and Morning Devotionals. Girl I pray every day. Every single day. And I try my best to start and end my day with prayer and daily Devotionals. As a Christian I find it so important to seek guidance from God each day and to take on the day in his strength and not my own. I use the Bible App to do my daily Devotionals each day because of the wide array of Devotionals they have. But whether you practice a religion different from my own or no religion at all it is important to ground yourself each day in your truth.

2. Maintain A Gratitude Practice. There is so much power in counting your blessings. Taking note of what you’ve accomplished in life and the beautiful occurrences in day to day life helps so much with shifting your perspective. And once you have a more positive perspective on your life overall, your mental health will improve tremendously. Some people like to keep a journal but even taking time to verbalize what you’re grateful for each day is a good practice to keep.

3. Exercise. Okay…okay, hear me out. I know this sounds crazy but exercise really does improve your mood! The chemicals in your brain called endorphins are released whenever you exercise and those are your body’s “feel good” drug. Not to mention you’re moving closer to whatever body goals that you’ve set for yourself so that’s a bonus. Here are a couple quick exercise videos that I’ve been doing.

Mom Pouch Be Gone

Round Booty Here We Come

4. Adult Coloring. Yes! One of our favorite childhood pastimes is perfect for relieving stress. I find it so therapeutic to color. I feel like I’m bringing a dull black and white picture to life and seeing my masterpiece is so rewarding. There are tons of physical coloring book options for purchase on Amazon but if you want an option that is readily available whenever you feel that panic attack coming along, these are the apps that I’ve been using.

Happy Color
Colorfy

5. Talk to Family and Friends Regularly. What is life without the people you love? I am my most happy when I’m talking to my loved ones. Laughing is definitely my favorite past time and I have the most entertaining tribe on the planet. No matter what challenges or rough days I am facing I can count on them to brighten my day. Whether we are taking trips down memory lane or poking fun at each other, it is always a blessing when we connect.

6. Bonus Tip: Drinking Coffee. *Pauses for dramatic effect. Mamas everywhere rejoice! I have recently found out that drinking coffee has been linked to lower rates of depression, according to Mental Health America, and it’s a shame that this news has brought me this much joy! So now when I’m on my third cup of coffee to keep up with my wild two year old I can rationalize that it’s good for my Mental Health and you can too. You’re welcome.

While I love to lighten the mood in my posts and provide my readers with a light hearted read most of the time, I feel it important to stress the importance of seeking professional help if you feel as though your Mental Health has declined past a point where you can regain your footing on your own. There is nothing wrong with seeking out help from a physician or licensed therapists to talk to you and walk you through options such as medication or therapy sessions. Many Mental Health resources are paid for by insurance, I know first hand. And there are other free options available as well.

1. Suicide Prevention Hotline

2. The Samaritans

3. Crisis Chat

Please remember the importance of your Mental Health. As mamas and women in general we tend to put ourselves on the back burner, we are naturally selfless. But you can not be the best mama, wife, daughter, sister or friend if you are not the best version of yourself. Don’t forget you. ❤️

🌼Our Mothers’ Gardens🌼

My Nana, Mama and I
(All Around the Same Age)

“Whatever she planted grew as if by magic, and her fame as a grower of . flowers spread over three counties. Because of her creativity with her flowers, even my memories of poverty are seen through a screen of blooms-sunflowers, petunias, roses, dahlias, forsythia, spirea, delphiniums, verbena … and on and on.” – Alice Walker

I’m certain I never truly understood the significance motherhood held in shaping generations until I, myself, became a mother. There is a power that women who have been initiated into motherhood have that they use to shape the lenses by which their children will see life. And while it’s true that we don’t have the power to be our children’s only influence, we do play a big role in how they interpret the outside influences around them. We, with no exaggeration, cultivate the leaders of each generation, as did the women that came before us. So on this day we celebrate our womanhood, our motherhood and the powerful women who made us powerful women.

I have to admit that I am celebrating this beautiful day with somewhat of a heavy heart. Because although I am ecstatic that I have managed to keep my son in one piece for 2 WHOLE YEARS (insert applause here) this is also the first year I am celebrating Mother’s Day without my Mama. It is hard to describe the feeling of having lost your mother while simultaneously being a mother. For the first time in my life I now fully understand how much she loved me, a love you only experience while loving your own child. The unconditional, all encompassing, fear inducing love that washes over you every time you think about your little one. It is innate, it is even somewhat primal and it is awe inspiring to know that someone that walked this earth felt this way about me.

While this day weighs heavy on me and those whose mother figures are no longer here physically , I find comfort in the garden my mother left behind through me. The seeds that she planted, the weeds that she pulled, the flowers that blossomed because of who she helped me become. So here are five flowers my Mama left behind, through her children, from her garden.

1. A Love of God: Now this is definitely the work of both my Nana and my Mama for sure. My Nana made sure we made it to church every Sunday and that I knew the fundamental lessons of the Bible. Sunday school, choir practice the whole shabang! If it involved church, it involved us. But my Mama showed me who God was outside of the building. The miracles he could perform, the prayers he could answer and the lives he could change. And with every fall from grace she showed me what his unconditional love looked like. This is undeniably my favorite flower that she left for me.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

2. Writing: Yes, my queen was a writer and an amazing one at that! Some of my earliest memories were sneaking and reading her poetry books. Her handwriting is engraved into my brain. The swoops and curls and slants. (I also mastered it to forge her signature on school excuse notes and failed tests, so theres that). She would tell my siblings and I of the letters that she would write to God as a child. She loved to write out her prayers. (I do too!) And she encouraged my writing from day one. She taught that writing immortalizes people and captures moments forever. The power of the pen.

My Nana and My Mama at my Wedding ❤️

3. Compassion: Oh how much of a softie could one girl be? And I got it from my Nana and my Mama. Whether it is lending an ear to a complete stranger so that they can vent about their day or almost literally feeling the heartache of family and friends alike, I have compassion for everyone. I’d like to think that this has aided in forming the long lasting relationships that I have and I feel blessed to be able to be a rock for so many people when they need it.

❤️

4. Lightheartedness: I take pride in the fact that I can find joy in just about every situation and that people occasionally find me humorous. I love that I can make people laugh, even when I don’t entirely intend to. I know my joyful Mama taught me this and every time I think of this flower, I think of her laugh. And how similar our bursts of laughter are. Despite the fact that I have a calm and quiet voice and demeanor, my laughter is a loud loud roar, just like my Mamas. And although the sounds aren’t completely the same, the infectious joy it gives those around us is. I love this gift.

Mama Laughing While I Got Ready On My Wedding Day

5. Confidence: Of course I’m sometimes unsure of myself at times, everyone is. But when it comes to knowing who I am as a woman and the value that I bring to whatever I am apart of, I never falter. My mother and grandmother engrained in me how strong and brilliant I am, not only in my own strength but in the strength that I find in God. They have taught me to grow from every lesson and every blessing that I come across in life and that has shaped who I am today.

Mama, Nana and I at My College Graduation

So what are five flowers that your Mama planted in her garden that have blossomed through you? Comment down below and post on social media with the hashtag #OurMothersGardens listing 5 flowers from your Mother’s Garden. As long as you cultivate your Mother’s Garden she will always be with you.

Cheers to all the Mamas and Mother Figures who have made us who we are today. And God bless all of us Mamas trying to maintain our sanity raising the generation of tomorrow. Today we celebrate us!

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

Black Maternal and Fetal Health. Let’s Talk About It.

Source: @PrettyEyedTye

Bringing life into this world is the closest any woman comes to death, without seeing death through”-Joann Purnell (My Grandmother)

I have come to know first hand that there are few things in this world that are more empowering than being the vessel by which soul and flesh come together to make life. This power has been felt by any woman who has had the privilege, yet daunting task, of delivering a baby. And while this is an honor that should not be taken for granted (given the countless women having faced infertility, still births and miscarriages) the major health risks associated with pregnancy and labor should not be overlooked.

In an NBC News Women’s Health article written by Elizabeth Chuck, recent data on the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is highlighted. Based on the standardized mortality data from all 50 states, it was concluded that there were 658 maternal deaths in 2018. These deaths, due to complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth, have put the U.S. in last place among all other developed countries with relation to maternal mortality.

Of the 658 reported maternal deaths, the data found that “black women fared the worst, dying 2½ times more often than white women.” While researchers could not provide a clear explanation as to why black women were experiencing disproportionately high maternal mortality rates they did suggest that institutional racism within the healthcare system and society as a whole most likely play a part in the data. These statistics are put into perspective when first hand accounts from those who have lost loved ones, due to black maternal health disparities are reported.

In a news report published on npr.org the tragic death of thirty-six year old Shalon Irving is brought to light. Shalon worked as an epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and made it her life’s work to research and eliminate the factors within communities that would lead to poor health outcomes. Rashid Nasir, her friend and mentor, described her as being passionate about doing away with victim blaming as it related to largely marginalized individuals such as those that belong to low-income communities. He said, “She wanted to expose how people’s limited health options were leading to poor health outcomes. To kind of uncover and undo the victim-blaming that sometimes happens where it’s like, ‘Poor people don’t care about their health.’ “

It was mid-2016 when Shalon discovered that she was pregnant and while unexpected; her colleagues, family and friends reported that she was thrilled. But everything came crashing down when three weeks after giving birth, Shalon suddenly collapsed and passed away due to complications with high blood pressure. So where did things go wrong? Shalon did not belong to an impoverished community. She was well educated, having obtained two masters degrees as well as a dual subject Ph.d and she had excellent health coverage. So how did Shalon come to fall victim to the very factors she worked so hard to eradicate within minority communities?

Unfortunately the concerns of black women, regardless of socioeconomic status or educational background, continue to be ignored. According to a study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health “33 percent of black women said that they personally had been discriminated against because of their race when going to a doctor or health clinic, and 21 percent said they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern they would be racially discriminated against.”

But with all of the statistics, stories and data, what is the solution? An article written by Nina Bhadur may hold some of the answers. Some very key points she makes include addressing the implicit bias among medical professionals, collecting and maintaining detailed data on Maternal mortality rates and extending fourth trimester care. I encourage all of my readers to read her highly informative article and in depth breakdown of eight solutions to this issue.

I pray that this post aids in raising awareness to this unfortunate reality and strengthens the voices of those women who feel as though their concerns are falling on deaf ears. Please keep advocating for your mental and physical health because you have, and always will matter. ❤️

Life Interrupted

It is now day (who the hell knows?) of quarantine and your friends with kids are not okay. (Seriously…text us to set up a virtual happy hour or something.)

Unless you are living in some blessed part of the globe where Coronavirus hasn’t reared it’s ugly head then you are unfortunately experiencing the all too real effects of LOCKDOWN. That’s right. Anything deemed non-essential has been closed until further notice.

Jobs are closed (so no leaving out for your workday and getting a break from your kids). Restaurants are closed (so you can’t brunch with your girlfriends while also getting a break from your kids). Schools are closed (so your kids won’t be leaving out to get an education while also giving you a break from them). Life has been completely interrupted and we’ve all been forced to readjust.

I would like to say that I did start the quarantine off strong and quite optimistic that I would “better myself“ during this time off from work. I got up early the whole first week of quarantine. I worked out and even had a nutritious breakfast waiting for my husband and son when they woke up. But that was 3 weeks and God knows how many bottles of wine ago. Flash forward to present day and my son and I just had animal crackers for breakfast and I am unashamed. We are in survival mode.

But, although some days my household slips into complete and utter chaos, I am still attempting to maintain some shred of order and normalcy. So this my “MakeShift Maintain Some Sort of Sanity Quarantine Schedule.“

8am (or whatever time is the hour before your children wake up): MANDATORY ME-TIME! I don’t care if you read, pray, workout, meditate, drink your coffee while it’s still hot for a change, ANYTHING! Start off your day by taking time out for yourself or the whole day will pass without even giving yourself a second thought. I’ve been making it a point to start my day with working out. It’s been giving me tons more energy and I feel good knowing that I’m working towards my fitness goals. Here are the quick workout videos I’ve been using to start off my fitness journey. They’re both around 10 minutes each but they’re extremely effective!

2 Week Abs!
Lower Body Burn!

9am (or whenever the tiny dictator wakes up): Feed him. Change his diaper. Get him into his daytime PJs. (Let me know if you’d like a post about some of my quick, go to breakfast ideas).

10am-12pm: Educational Play-Time! I’ve been getting compliments recently on how well my son speaks for his age and taking this time out with him each day is why! We don’t have a set routine for this time of the day but some of my go to activities are reading, practicing number/ letter identification using our diy chalkboard and playing on ABCmouse.com! (ABC Mouse has done wonders with helping my son identify his animals and colors so far and they offer a 1 month free trial!) We typically end this time of the day with a crazy dance party and running around playing hide and seek. (Insert long walk around the neighborhood here if your cabin fever is getting the best of you).

12:30-1:30: Lunch-Time! My son is obsessed with French fries right now so they’re usually incorporated into his meal in some way. That’s typically thrown in with something quick like chicken nuggets. Most of the time I’ll add in some type of fruit for some razzle dazzle and to keep my mom guilt at bay. (Let me know if you’d like a post about some of my quick, go to lunch-time ideas).

1:30-2:30(or 3 if I’m really lucky): The blessed hour. Nap-time! This is my time to drink my second or third cup of coffee and to reset for the second half of the day. My type A personality also forces me to clean feverishly the mess from the morning although it is inevitably in vain, because my son wakes up and destroys the house in less than ten seconds.

2:30-6pm: Survival time. This is the hardest part of the day. My son has a bunch of energy from his nap and I need to find some way to keep him entertained until dinner time. This is usually when I let my son get some screen time. YouTube Kids is a life saver and surprisingly educational. My crazy child is also already into video games (yes at 2), so I let him play those. This is broken up with intermittent snack times and dancing because we all know that toddlers have short attention spans.

Gamer Baby In His Element

From 6pm-8pm everything is calming down. Dinner is being made and hubby is getting home from work. We eat as a family and watch tv. It’s my favorite part of the day.

My little love bug goes to bed around 9:30 (on a good day) and then it’s WINE DOWN time. Ugh! Jesus turned water into wine for a reason. It’s liquid gold. Especially after a long day of trying to keep it all together. My husband and I use this time to catch up with one another and then inevitably we make our way to bed around 12am. And then I wake up and do it all over again 🙃. Pray for me.

Well, that is how we’re maintaining in the Witherspoon household as of late. I hope this post gives you some sort of blue print for maintaining a schedule of your own and I’d love to hear any of your tips and tricks on how you are making it work during this crazy time.

We’ve Got This Mamas!

#Mom Life

“This mom sh*% is not for the faint of heart”, will inevitably be printed across my tombstone as it is my most used phrase since having become a mom a meager two years ago.

I say it when an old friend reaches out to catch up, when my husband checks in to see how my day is going, when I’m changing my 100th poopy diaper of the day or when I am trying to rationalize negotiating the demands of someone who can barely speak in three word sentences. No truer words have ever been spoken because well, “this mom sh*% is not for the faint of heart.”

Motherhood is arguably the toughest gang I’ve ever been apart of! And while it’s honestly the only gang I’ve ever been apart of I’d put my money on a Mama Bear over the leader of any well known gang any day of the week. (We don’t play about our kids.) The initiation process is also a million times harder! Trust me. I got initiated May 13, 2018 after 18 hours straight of agonizing hazing. I lie to you not, after being asked by the nurse how I felt I answered, “I feel like a bad bi*%,” while cuddling my newborn baby in my arms. And that’s honestly how I felt.

You see, they say that the human body can only withstand 45 units of pain, yet at the time of birth a mother can experience up to 57 units of pain. They equate that to 20 bones getting fractured at once. Now I didn’t fact check this and I’m honestly not sure how credible a Facebook meme can actually be, but if you’ve experienced the pain of contractions first hand then you know, they might be on to something here.

I rep #MomLife like Tupac repped Thug Life because it’s honestly just as hard. Have you ever tried to navigate a full blown, fall out on the floor tantrum in public? I’d rather risk it all selling drugs! (I’m kidding obviously… but like not.)

So, cheers to all the Mamas who are raising good humans the best way they know how, stumbling through motherhood ever so gracefully. I’m here to let you know you are not alone because honestly, we’re all just Winging It.