Single Mom Confessions: Ade

 Most parents are out here winging it. (I'm one of them.) It's easier when you have a partner that is supportive. Many single parents don't have the support that they need and deserve. They are in situations that have a resistant co-parent, a toxic co-parent, and sometimes a supportive co-parent. Regardless of the co-parenting situation, I feel that the stories of single parents should be heard and maybe something will be revealed allows other parents to make healthy changes in their parenting and in themselves as individuals. The Confessions of a Single Parent Series is for all parents to learn, grow, and know that they are not alone. These are their stories. (It just got a little Law and Order in here...).

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Can you describe your co-parenting experience and the plan?

Since my son's father and I separated it has been challenging. The challenges exist not only with having my son by myself the majority of the time but also maintaining a positive relationship with his father. Initially, we started out in therapy so we could better co-parent and it helped to address some of our issues but he decided not to continue with and we again had to go through re-establishing an amicable relationship. Now we are friendly and able to communicate. My son sees his father every weekend. I hope to develop a relationship where we are able to work together more.

How has becoming a parent altered your view of the world and has it deferred your dreams?

Being a parent has inspired me to reach my full potential so I can show my son what is possible. It seems I have been able to accomplish more with more obstacles in the way. My son motivates and inspires me.

How do approach parenting as a single parent?

Be clear about the type of parent you want to be. Expect to have to stand alone in some of your beliefs and practices. Keep an open mind. Do you best. Enlist help. Lot's of self care ( the most important).Don't abandon your own dreams it will you to be an better example to your kids.

How have you dealt with co-parenting difficulties?

I just try to do my best. That's it. There is nothing else I can do. I try not to compare myself to other people even if I'm using them as a resource.

What advice would you give another parent having difficulty adjusting to being a co-parenting?

Accept the other parent for who they are. Don't impose expectations ( especially as a the primary parent) Ask for what you need but without imposing expectations and always have a back-up plan. The less pressure you put on the other parent the more likely they will be to work with you even without you asking for help.

 

What advice would you give another parent having difficulty adjusting to being a co-parenting?

Accept the other parent for who they are. Don't impose expectations ( especially as a the primary parent) Ask for what you need but without imposing expectations and always have a back-up plan. The less pressure you put on the other parent the more likely they will be to work with you even without you asking for help.

How would a support group help you get through co-parenting difficulties?

If there was a support  group that could help me connect  with other single moms of like mind, additional childcare ( because I need to work  more) and finding male mentors for my  son that would  help me a great deal. As far as co-parenting, I need support from others that empower me to be the best parent and be true to myself and my son because I'm doing this on my own for the most part.

Here is a list of resources for parents looking for support resources in Baltimore County:

I would like to thank Ade for her candor and courage to share her story. She is an up and coming jewelry reseller and entrepreneur. 

If you or someone you know would like to share their story please contact me.

 

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Latisha Ellis is a therapist at Lotus Therapies. She is very passionate about  self-empowerment for parents, adults and teens and helping people through group work that focuses on working through the challenges of life, being present, and communicating honestly in all types of relationships. Please be sure to check out her blog and social media links!

Latisha Ellis, MS, LAPC, CAMS

Interview with Indira Midha from Indira's Inner Beauty

My mission is always to empower adults, particularly women. I do this by connecting with others that strive to impact the lives of others by sharing their personal stories and experiences so we can learn from and uplift each other. Indira Midha from Indira's Inner Beauty is a young woman striving daily to impact change in herself, her community, and young women through her blog where she shares of her fears, triumphs, and growth. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for this post.

  Can you tell the readers a bit about yourself? Absolutely! I am 19 years old, and a media student at the University of Illinois. I run the blog indirasinnerbeauty.com and I write for a few other publications at my university. I am half Spanish and half Indian, but born and raised in Michigan. I've been extremely fortunate to have been able to travel to both Spain and India often to visit my enormous family. I am extremely talkative, sassy, and giggly. I love feminism and social activism, so I associate those two things with my identity. In my free time, I love writing, photography, reading, watching Netflix, and playing with my niece. 

What made you start your blog? I originally started Indira's Inner Beauty (IIB) as a YouTube channel with a video that I had to make for my AP English class my junior year of high school. This video was about how social media is detrimental to the self-image of teenage girls. I experimented with what I wanted my content to be about, and I ended up realizing that I could make my voice heard better through my writing. I started the blog version of IIB and I knew that I wanted to help people, specifically young girls. Since then I have focused on writing about social activism, inner beauty, body positivity, and even a bit about college. 

How important is it to use your voice to highlight women's issues instead of remaining quiet? Why is it important for you to highlight women's issues? I am a firm believer in the fact that everybody has a voice that they should use somehow. Through IIB, I am trying to be the online figure that I would have wanted for myself in my younger days. I am trying to show young girls that it is absolutely possible to love your imperfect self. I want to teach young girls about feminism so that they can stay empowered and take care of themselves. It can be a hard world to be female in. Traditional sexism is ingrained in most people's brains, I think that is how this society raised us. I am trying to do my part in combatting these outdated beliefs, not just for myself but for other people too. I wish that the people I was watching/reading on the internet when I was younger taught me about these topics.

How have your experiences and your cultural background played a part in your identity and your message to women? I have a very complex background, I am Hispanic and Asian but I look White. I have recently learned a lot about privilege, and it has changed the way I view many of the issues that I face in my life. I have endured some racism simply for being Hispanic, and I have definitely endured racism as a "White person" in India. I've experienced a lot of feelings of inadequacy because of my cultural background. However, I have had such a unique and culturally aware life because of my ethnic makeup. I think that my unique experiences with culture have taught me how to defend myself from ignorant comments/people, and how to solidify my identity within regardless of what others on the outside think or say. This attitude has spread to many aspects of my being and life. 

As a college student, what are some surprising things you learned about yourself that will help other young women? I think the biggest one is that nobody can do it all. As much as you may want to be a perfect student, a perfect staff-member, a perfect blogger, a perfect friend, a perfect daughter/sister/aunt; you cannot do it all. Aiming for perfection is always going to make you feel like you're hitting your head against a brick wall. You can only expect yourself to do your best while putting in your personal best effort. That is enough, even if it doesn't always result in perfection. Also, time for you to just relax and breathe are just as important as taking time out for you to study or work. I struggle with this still, but I'm working on it. :) 

What would you tell other young women about being empowered, respecting themselves, and staying true to themselves? Empowerment is an inside job, but you are stuck with you for the rest of your life - why not have a fantastic relationship with yourself? That will make for a better life. Be true to yourself, because you are the way that you are - why not make the best of it? Because being somebody who you aren't is exhausting and not fulfilling at all. Stay empowered and stay you, my loves.

Whether we are searching for who we are or working towards revealing out best selves we are all human and there are people out there rooting for you. Indira's message of self-discovery, healing, and activism may help you learn more about yourself. Thank you to Indira Midha for allowing me to interview her. Please check out Indira's blog and follow and support her journey.

Lotus Therapies|Interview with Indira Midha|Indira's Inner Beauty

Indira Midha of indirasinnerbeauty.com is a 19-year-old blogger and college student who studies media at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Indira is very passionate about social activism, self-empowerment, and helping young girls through the challenges of adolescent female life. Please be sure to check out her blog and social media links!

 

 

Self-Care in College

It's always a pleasure to get other points of view from other people that want to uplift others. Indira Midha from Indira's Inner Beauty whose mission is to "encourage others to become empowered and make it her mission to empower others who will hopefully go on to empower others" is sharing her thoughts on self-care for college women. This topic is important because college, in general, is stressful and without great support and an adequate self-care routine it can seem to spin out of control. I hope Indira's tips can get you started on taking care on yourself.

Guest Post by Indira's Inner Beauty

Engaging in self-care is one of the most crucial parts of taking initiative to positively nurture your mental health. I am a firm believer that nobody is responsible for your mental health but you. It is extremely important to have loved ones support and guide you, but the only person who can look in the mirror every single morning and decide that you'll be taken care of it you. As somebody who attends a rigorous university full-time, works for several publications, and runs a blog completely independently, I can attest to the challenges of making time for self-care. I often find myself feeling guilty for taking a breather when I have a million and seven responsibilities on my plate, especially time sensitive ones. The catch is, if you aren't taken care of and in good shape mentally, you can't effectively tackle your endless to-do list. Here are my tips on engaging in self care while in college, and what I do to keep myself mentally well. 

  1. Sleep enough and at a reasonable time. This one is extremely important. I am a firm believer that appropriate sleep is the foundation to good health. For me, it meant making sure that I turned off the Netflix at a set time each week night, and speeding up my morning routine. By committing to sleeping every day from 12am to 8am, I was extremely well-rested this past semester. This resulted in my mood elevating, and my focus being sharper than when sleep-deprived in previous semesters. Some people aren't willing to give up their morning makeup and hair routine for sleep, which is definitely very understandable. You do you, girl! For me personally, spending the hour sleeping instead of spending it on hair and makeup, like I would in high school, was life-changing for me. The extra sleep made me personally happier than the makeup did. 
  2. If you aren't a big workout person, like me, there are simpler ways to engage in physical activity. In my younger years, I loved participating in volleyball, tennis, and track & field at school. Now, if you tell me to run I will probably scream at you. However, I have realized that there are huge benefits to engaging in physical activity. My two favorite ways of doing this are through walking and dancing. My campus is huge and widely spread out, so I took it upon myself to walk everywhere when the weather permitted. This is an extremely simple way to just move. Before you know it, you'll have racked up a few miles! It may not be some tough workout, but it's proven to be good for your heart. Taking the stairs is a quick burst of a workout, if you have the habit of running up and down them like I do. Also, dancing is a very fun activity that I have recently really started to enjoy. I have the same amount of rhythm in my body as a potato, but I have so much fun. I am not into college parties, but I do love going to the Latin dance nights hosted by my university. I love having "dance parties" with my friends in my room. It's awesome for your physical health to get your blood pumping, and also for your emotional well-being to just put on a fun playlist of songs and dance around. It's not some scary commitment like going to spinning classes four times a week, or running miles every day. Whatever physical activity works for you, do it!
  3. Easy on the coffee. Coffee is a stimulant, so while it may help you wake up, it is proven to elevate anxiety in those who already deal with it. Being one of those people, I have decided to switch to green tea. I have gotten to a point where my anxiety is barely present in my life, except for when I have a big cup of coffee. Many people will disagree with this approach, but I say save the coffee for emergencies only. 
  4. Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of every day. This is quite simple, really. You have to bribe yourself to get through the long day, many times. Let me spill a secret: that's okay! I like to reserve anywhere between half an hour and two hours in my evening for me. I often use that time to get dinner and catch up with a friend, watch Netflix in bed, schedule a FaceTime date with a family member or friend who isn't at school with me, or paint my nails. These are things that make me happy. I love staying in touch with my loved ones, I love TV, and I like to have my nails painted because that prevents me from biting them. These are simple things that really help me get through the tough parts of the day. Having this time to unwind from school and work really helps me prepare for good sleep with a happy soul. Also, following this pattern, I like to give myself something to look forward to at the end of the week. I like to make fun and exciting plans the weekend after a rigorous work-week. This helps me keep myself in going and not feel like I'm drowning in responsibilities. Some things that I like to do on weekends are check out new restaurants with friends, go to a concert or performance (there are tons of awesome free or cheap ones on college campuses!), or have movie nights with friends and order takeout! 
  5. Put it in a digital list. For me, putting all of my responsibilities in a list is essential. I have so many things to do, and tight deadlines; I can't afford to forget things. I recommend keeping a running to-do list either in Word or on the notes app in your phone. Include all categories: school, work, blog, personal, errands - anything. This saves me from anxiety because I have my responsibilities sorted out and in front of me. Also, I recommend doing this digitally because you can have your list with you wherever you go, and it is so much easier to edit it (as opposed to on a paper with a pen). 
  6. Make time to keep in touch with your loved ones. This one is huge for me - I am always on the phone, FaceTime, or WhatsApp with my family members and friends from home. I am a very family-oriented person, so many people don't need to do this as often as I do, but I make sure to call or FaceTime with my mom at least twice a day, with my dad once a day, with my sister and niece once a day, with my best friend from home every few days, with my nephew once a week, with my aunt once a week, with my grandpa once a week, and with my cousin once a week. I also text and WhatsApp with them all the time. This may seem like a lot to some people, but with my family being spread out across the world for my whole life, I've always sworn by this. Interacting with my loved ones makes my heart happy, and theirs as well. Communication with loved ones is so healthy and therapeutic, no matter how little or how much.
  7. Find your place where you get things done, and find your place where you unwind - but make sure they aren't the same place. This is more of a productivity tip, but I found it extremely helpful to walk into the communications library or my favorite café, because my brain would go immediately into work mode. For me, my bedroom has always been my sanctuary. I make sure that I have lots of blankets and pillows to ensure optimal coziness. It was also extremely helpful to be able to walk into my room and automatically feel comfortable. I was very lucky to have a roommate who I became best friends with, so my room could be my safe place. Many people don't have that luck though. If it can't be your room, find a place where you can just walk in and feel comfortable. My friends found that safety in certain coffee shops, local parks, or dorm lounges after trying a few options out.  
  8. Eliminate (or cut down to the bare minimum) any interactions or people who make you feel negative feelings. This is so simple, yet so hard. But, after having made friends with some people who made me feel un-empowered, insecure, and unloved, cutting off or limiting those connections really changed my moods in a 180 degree manner. It also really improved the way I was feeling about myself and talking to myself in my head. There are 7 billion people in the world, we don't need to hold on to those who make us feel small, insufficient, or unworthy. There are many absolutely lovely people who can be supportive, positive friends. Look for those.
  9. Find songs and TV shows that you can lose yourself in and can help uplift you when you're down. This is essential for me. My small playlist of about 5 songs that uplift me has worked miracles for me. Sometimes you find the words you need to hear in music, and when you find a song that makes you feel this way: keep it. A few of my favorites are Love Me More by Maggie Rose (about self-love), Beautiful Flower by India Arie (also about self-love and empowerment), and The Climb originally by Miley Cyrus, covered by Sundance Head (about overcoming and embracing challenges). Also, I think it is very important to have a funny, light-hearted TV show that you can completely lose yourself in and giggle with to de-stress. For me it's Friends, because I grew up watching it and it provides humor with which you don't have to think too much. After a rough day, just 22 minutes with Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey can help me feel better. Finding a self-care/unwinding show is a good way to help you remove yourself from stressful situations for a bit. 

I hope that these tips and suggestions can help you the way that they helped me! Please let me know if you try out any of these things, or if you have any other tips of this sort! I can be reached on Twitter and Instagram at @midha_ind, on Facebook at Indira's Inner Beauty, or via my blog, indirasinnerbeauty.com. I look forward to hearing from you! 

Love and best wishes, Indira

Lotus Therapies|Self-Care for College Women|Indira Midha

Indira Midha of indirasinnerbeauty.com is a 19-year-old blogger and college student who studies media at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Indira is very passionate about social activism, self-empowerment, and helping young girls through the challenges of adolescent female life. Please be sure to check out her blog and social media links!

Interview with a Stepparent...

No, I couldn't find a vampire who was also a stepparent. So I decided to interview a real, live one. This interview is important so that others can understand the experience of what is is like to co-parent as a stepparent and maybe feel less alone, find some parallels through other people's experiences, and maybe figure out how to improve their own parenting situation. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kenni J. from Florida. She is a soldier, wife, and mom to 3 kids, two of them being her stepchildren. 

Lotus Therapies|Interview with a stepparent|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

What is the biggest struggle when adjusting to being a step parent?

                The largest struggle is learning to be an additional co-parent. Loving a child is easy, as children, especially young children, tend to offer unconditional love to anyone they feel deserving. The most difficult aspect is proving yourself to the other parent. Adults tend to still have residual emotions following a divorce and may inherently dislike their former spouses' new partner for any numerous of reasons, which may place an additional strain on your current marriage. As a step parent, you must accept that you cannot coerce the other parent to be receptive and approve of you. The other parent must decide to accept the step parent on their own volition and the reality is that the other parent may never accept the step parent.

How has stepparenting altered your view as a parent to your biological kid?

                For quite some time I was unsure if I was capable of having children. Therefore, I have loved my stepchildren as my own. I have always considered my stepson as my first child as I was a part of his life since he was a toddler. When I was blessed to have a child of my own my perspective remained the same and I still want the best for all of my children.

What would you change about challenges?

                In hindsight, the other parent in my relationship is simply unwilling to have a relationship with me therefore any changes to previous interactions would be futile. If you are dealing with a reasonable other parent, whom is not consumed by emotions, I would recommend being polite, making an introduction, and simply being respectful to the other parent. It is not necessary for you and the other parent to be the best of friends, but it is important to be cordial, especially in front of the children. If you are dealing with the spawn of Satan, simply do not engage. All interactions will be viewed as hostile and disrespectful regardless of the intent.

What is the ideal picture of your blended family?

                Ideally, my spouse and the other spouse would have a workable parenting plan that involves very little communication between the two of them. They currently have a toxic relationship that is basically unsalvageable. The best thing for all of us would be an exceptionally detailed parenting plan that allows both families to function with limited interaction. At this point, any interaction typically leads to a full-blown argument between the biological parents and exacerbates stress within the family.

Advice for step parents?

                Be prepared to be a flexible and understanding spouse. Understand that your stepchildren may not accept you or like you for quite some time. Do not attempt to “win over” the other parent with overt gestures of kindness as this will be perceived as you being disingenuous. Introduce yourself to the other parent, be respectful, and do not discipline your stepchildren without the presence of your spouse. Be aware that all of your interactions, both good and particularly bad, will be shared with the other parent. Don’t create more tension in the relationship by causing strain on the parent-child relationship.

Information like this is valuable in appreciating the difficulty of being a stepparent and seeing how you as coparent in this situation can make the experience more bearable and productive for all paries involved.