Fashion Mood Boosters

Perk Up Your Day

I sit in front of my computer typing this blog post in bright red sweat pants and curled up in a cozy black fleece jacket lined in faux fur. Both of these appeal to my need today to be comfortable and warm as it’s a chilly autumn day where I will be close to home. Whether I am spending a day chasing my toddler at the playground or attending an art opening I want to feel good in what I wear. Fashion is one way to express who we are to the world outside ourselves. What we wear can have a very big impact on how we feel about ourselves.

I came across this short segment on Cityline, a Canadian talk show, about ways to boost your mood through what you wear. Cityline is a show that I view on a daily basis as the segments are always interesting on a variety of topics from cooking to fashion. Each day of the week revolves around a specific topic like beauty or family. The show is a breath of fresh air from the pessimistic television news or violent prime time television.

The details can be what makes the most impact. As a busy mom, if I can make a little effort then it makes me feel like I am still a beautiful and sexy woman. A scarf can elevate a basic outfit to a level where it becomes very chic. I love to throw on a scarf or a hat to change things up when I head out my door. A cross body bag is a practical solution when out running errands or going to work. Your choice of shoe illustrates who you are and what you do with your day. Even when you choose to purchase a coat with a pattern, or to choose something more traditional like a grey or black wool makes a statement beyond the need to dress warm.

Clothing can be a great creative expression that allows us to shine our inner light to the world. What’s also wonderful is how thrift or consignment shopping can lead to some great quality finds. Most of my “investment pieces” were purchased in this way as I have champagne tastes but a beer budget. So it is definitely worth having some fun with the hunt and experimenting to find your own person style!

Hear Me Roar

Something this past week lit a fire within me to express myself about how society’s perceptions of motherhood are unrealistic. Yet if one is brave enough to raise your voice loud enough others will judge you for having your own mind. Motherhood and life are a messy business.

Motherhood is the most challenging experience that I have had in the past two months. The time that I spend with my son, Dylan, is by far the most rewarding and challenging. You learn a great deal about yourself and what you are passionate about once you become a parent. I am become even more willing to express myself since my son was born as I realized that I could do far more than I thought.

Most of my adult life I have been dealing with both post traumatic stress disorder and depression. I have gained a lot of wisdom and much healthier coping strategies over the years. Mental illness does not make a person into an unfit parent, or a person who is less deserving of happiness. Our society does not encourage mothers to seek help for post partum depression, and many mothers fear judgement for asking for help.

Society says that we should be able to handle motherhood on our own without the help of family, our partners, or even outside assistance. Media portrayals of motherhood are far from accurate. What we believe and expect of ourselves as mothers is complete and utter bullshit! Our speed of lightening society doesn’t give anyone the right to breathe and try to do things differently. It may make me unpopular or even a bit of a rebel, but I choose to speak of my own experiences honestly. If someone doesn’t like how I express myself or who I am then that is their problem; not mine. As Katy Perry sings, “Hear me roar!”

Amanda

Nightmare at Rocks

Midnight blue sky without stars or moon

Wind howling as it whips through the trees

Weighed down by a weariness

That she cannot shake in light of day

Or when the moon comes out to play

Holes punched in heart’s cloth

It’s a ragged garment soon to be cast off

She looks down at the blackness below her

A sound of water rushing against the rocks

No one calls her name behind her:

Would anyone mourn?

She swallows gulps of air then takes a running leap

Floating towards the water’s blackness

As the water fills her lungs

Sitting bolt upright in bed awakened from

Nightmare at the rocks

Poster Girl

This evening I decided to depart from my regular viewing habits of watching a movie or catching up on a television series on Netflix. I found the documentary “Poster Girl” that aired on HBO in November 2011. This documentary follows Robynn Murray, a veteran, who works to reclaim her humanity as she overcomes post traumatic stress disorder. Robynn is very candid about what the experience of post traumatic stress disorder can be like. She has spoken about her experiences before other veterans and the public to raise awareness. The documentary is unflinching and can be very graphic, but the topic requires this brutal honesty.

Amanda

Postpartum Challenges

Since I arrived home from the hospital I have struggled to adjust to motherhood. It is not an easy transition for many women. There is judgement attached to when a mother expresses anything other than joy after she has given birth.

Sleep deprivation, hormones, and the gap between expectations of what motherhood will be like versus the reality can bring on postpartum depression or make it worse. If one has a history of mental illness then the likelihood of developing it can be greater.

Alanis Morrissette talks about her own struggle with postpartum depression also referred to as the “baby blues” in this interview to raise awareness. I am writing about the topic on this blog for similar reasons as even though I was aware that something didn’t feel quite right. I really didn’t feel like myself when I came home from the hospital. It is actually difficult for me to describe something that felt so raw emotionally.

It took me a while before I was willing to speak to anyone about it, because of societal attitudes towards those who admit that motherhood is not any easy adjustment for everyone. Long term it would do worse harm to myself and to my son to not deal with it.

Amanda

Curious Paradoxes of New Motherhood

The arrival of a new life is a little like a hurricane has come through shaking everything up to the point where you don’t recognize the landscape any more. I had a reader comment on one of my recent poems that the adjustment to motherhood appears to be agreeing with me. Becoming a first time mother is exhausting, scary, joyous, frustrating, and can feel like you are going a little nuts. In some ways I have enjoyed the transition that I am adjusting to as a new mother. In other respects I find the change to be very overwhelming. 

My son, Dylan, is now two weeks old. He has no qualms about making himself known when he needs something, or even just wants to be held. As a new mom, I usually start with basics. Does he need to be changed? Is he hungry? Is he too hot or too cold? Is he overstimulated or overtired? Does he just want to be held? Is he gassy (big source of discomfort for babies)? Sometimes though a baby will just fuss, and there isn’t too much you can do about it. This last one is frustrating when you’ve had very little sleep, and your son or daughter seems uncomfortable. 

Once you have a child you will find yourself laughing at, or saying things you never thought that you would. A few days ago I was getting ready to give my son a bath when he peed all over the towel, so I had to get my husband to fetch me a clean one. Baby boys require very fast diaper changes by the way. If you have had a little baby boy and been peed on enough times you know exactly what I am talking about. Once the cold hits his little penis it is like dealing with a fire hose. A few minutes after the pee incident, I was laughing, because my son was making bubbles in the bath water from his farts. Bathroom humour normally doesn’t make me laugh yet now it appears to. 

As a new mother, you worry about things that you never cared about before or that prior to having a child weren’t a concern. For example, if I want to take a shower or even go to the bathroom then I have to make sure if I am home alone that he is either in his crib, or another safe place. I normally leave my bathroom door open so I can hear him if he starts to cry. 

Self care is an important part of me staying well myself, and bare minimum for me is eating 3 meals per day, a shower, and brushing my teeth. Emotionally I speak regularly on the phone or have coffee with those friends of mine who have had young children. With a newborn sleep is probably the most challenging basic need for me to meet. My husband during the weekends takes the night shift to care for Dylan so I can get some rest, and during the week my mother will take him for a few hours so I can get sleep or a sanity break. I love my son, but appreciate him even more when I get short periods of time away from him. At first I felt a bit guilty about taking the time away from him, and I think most new mothers do feel like they are being selfish if they are away from their children.

Labour, delivery and the adjustment to becoming a new mother have not been easy on me emotionally or physically. Physically I am still recovering from a c-section. My staples that held the incision together came out shortly after Dylan was a week old. I am still in some pain from my surgery, and have another two weeks that I am restricted in what I can and cannot do physically. I have been lucky to receive help from family members, so cleaning, dishes and laundry are kept up. I have had to relax my standards quite a bit as I am trying to find the balance between what needs to be done, and what isn’t that important. My body also underwent a huge change physically as I dropped down 28 pounds when I gave birth from the loss of fluid, no longer carrying my son, or the placenta.

Emotionally, hormones have had some fun playing mind games with me and sleep deprivation probably doesn’t help matters either. My anxiety has been a big challenge recently as I have had a hard time trying to relax, or rest. I also find that I do not tolerate large amounts of visitors very well. It has been important to set some strict boundaries to limit how many people come to my house at once. I have been making it a point to get out of the house every second day for a walk, or even for just a coffee as I know that isolating myself will make things much worse. The first week that I was home from the hospital I was very weepy, and this is getting a little better over time. What I was wondering at the time was why am I crying when I have this beautiful little life in my care? Some of the tears came from the knowledge that his care is largely all on me. I just learned how to take care of myself not too long ago and now I am responsible for a little soul. 

New mothers don’t talk very often about the fact that it can take a while to feel a bond with your offspring. I loved my son when he was in the womb as the connection felt so very intimate. I did not finish labour and delivery with Dylan as he would not have made it through my pelvis. His entry into the world felt very surreal to me. Day by day though I am slowly getting to know this little soul who appears to have a strong personality already. My favourite moments with him are when he is snuggling with me after a feeding, taking him out in the stroller, or he is watching TV with me on the couch. It’s in those quiet times when it is just him and I that I can feel love slowly growing. 

Amanda

 

Breastfeeding and Being a Rape or Sexual Abuse Survivor

Breastfeeding and Being a Rape or Sexual Abuse Survivor

Here in Canada, most healthcare providers are very pro-breastfeeding and there is a lot of great information out there on the many reasons why it is good for both the health of the mother and her baby. For some mothers, myself included, we have an extra consideration when it comes to whether we choose to try to breastfeed or not. A few of the issues faced by survivors are some of the recent ones that I have been struggling with, while trying to breastfeed. This article is informative, and gives an accurate picture of what a survivor may struggle with when trying to breastfeed or being okay with the choice even not to do so. Whatever a mother chooses no one else has the right to judge if her choice is meant to keep her and her baby healthy.

Amanda