3 Ways Mother Nature Helped Give Me a Hand Up and Out of Depression

The face of depression has an infinite number of sides. Its expressions may even seem, at times to be smiling right back at you. But, when it settles in for an extended stay, often times, depression can become a way of life. This is where I found myself, a seemingly endless, 6 months ago.

Depression runs in my family. We talk about it frequently and we all have a pretty good idea of what it looks like when it manifests in us. I have battled it a few times in my early 20’s and spent many sleepless nights trying to drug it away, drink it away, and even submitting to it completely. I wear my battle scars as badges and am proud of what I overcame and who I am today as a result of it, which is why I was blind-sided in late January when I woke up and found myself peeking through a haze which I (later) discovered I had been sitting in for going on two months.

Everyone has their own set of reasons and their own triggers and it is important to mention, their own CHOICE to allow those reasons and triggers to carry you to that dark place. In the end, no single reason or trigger is worthy of taking your joy and power away, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have some pretty great justifications. A miscarriage, two failed insemination attempts, all of the crazy hormones that come along with said attempts, not being able to get pregnant; all of them, my reasons. And I allowed all of them to affect me, my husband, our daughter, my family and my friends, whether they actually realized it or not.

Waking up to depression is only the first step. Then, there are the subsequent steps that you have to remain hyper aware of every single waking second until you reach the colossal steps which you then must arduously climb upward and finally out. I am happy to say, I am finally out and I am sharing with you, for whatever it is worth, the most precious moments that, even while I was still in the dark, helped me to climb every single one of those massive steps, up and out and back in to the beautiful world of my life.

Feel the Warmth of the Sun
This first one just takes one step. That first crucial step. Just get out. Get up, get out and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. That’s it. It may seem so simple and maybe even silly, but it can be the turning point for many. That one baby step forward has the potential to propel you towards a reawakening which in turn can lead you to a path of healing. The first step is the hardest. I know. Just do it. Seriously. Trust me.

sun-depression

Listen to Soft Sounds of the Creek
The simple act of sitting and listening to the sounds around you has a wonderfully calming effect. It allows you the time to see the immense beauty that is constantly surrounding you. For me, personally, there is nothing in the world that is more calming than sitting creek-side, listening to the trickle of the water passing by, imagining where it has come from and pondering what other wonders it will see on its journey. A perfect metaphor for our lives, just like all of us, moments are fleeting and nothing stays the same forever, we float by the hard times, the good times and everything in between and we are always the navigators of our course. Oh! And while you’re at it, smell the roses and the honeysuckle and the evergreen and feel roughness of the the dirt and the softness of a smooth rock and watch the bees buzzing by and the ants trek across the terrain and…everything else! Just be still and soak all of its wonder in to your soul.

Seeing the Bigger Picture Instills Hope
We are big fans of  volunteering in our family. We have witnessed first hand how Giving Back, Gives Right Back to YOU. Try donating your time and your services to paying it forward and it will come back to you a thousand fold. Putting yourself in the service of those who need help is one of the best ways to not only give a smile to someone else, but it will, most-assuredly put a smile on your face! When we place ourselves in a situation where we have the ability to empathize with others and realize a bigger picture of the world around us it helps keep us grounded in reality and is a great way to keep our own problems in perspective.

So, go out in to your community and give a helping hand! Plant a tree, pick up trash, get dirty, find a way to reconnect with Mother Nature and all of its inhabitants and you will immediately feel her loving arms wrap around you like a warm, comforting blanket. I know it worked for me!

Hiking the Santa Monica Mountains: The Peter Strauss Ranch

One of my most favorite things to do is to just jump in the car and drive… and keep driving until something in my soul tells me to take a left, then my fingertips tell me to veer right and somehow, we end up somewhere we’ve never been. Nine times out of ten it’s someplace magical and that is exactly how we happened upon the Peter Strauss Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.

We were heading back down to LA after a weekend visit with my mom up north. We had no plans for the day and so I decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway up instead of jumping on the boring 101 freeway. Driving along, watching the waves crash along the shore, enjoying the brown pelicans zoom down the beach, an itch in my nose whispered, “take Kanan.”

Hiking Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

Kanan is one of those gorgeous canyon roads that begins at PCH and meanders through the Malibu hills and meadows. I kept my eyes open for a state park sign or a trail head marker, knowing this road had many to choose from and it wasn’t long before we spotted exactly what we were looking for: a new discovery! Peter Strauss Ranch!

Tree climbing at Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

This 64-acres of ancient live oaks and chaparral was once home to the Chumash Indians, later it was the perfect backdrop for pre-WW II dances under the light of the moon and rumor has it even some of Charles Manson’s gang hung out there! Now, as our luck would have it, Mother Nature has reclaimed it as her own and it is the perfect spot for an easy hike, a lazy picnic or a game of hid and seek!

Playing hide and seek at Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

Its parking lot is huge and its trails are on the short side and super easy, making it a perfect starting point for moms just getting back out there with their infants or toddlers clocking in their first tiny-footed trail miles. Nestled in the quiet Malibu hillside, this hidden gem of a park is rich in history and offers plenty to explore and discover!

Full Disclosure: The (Sometimes) Reality of Being a Work-At-Home Mom

Last wednesday we left for an amazing 4 day road trip, meandering up the coast to Monterey, California, a land beautiful beyond words. Jump cut to Monday: 700 photos sitting waiting to be processed, payroll to be sorted out, three story deadlines to meet, 2 new wedding client contracts to be drafted and a three year old to nurture and entertain. Sometimes, full disclosure of the reality of a work-at-home-mom is the only appropriate discourse, and so as I run to kitchen to try and scrounge up something that looks like dinner, I have chosen to simply leave you with this; a picture of our living room, that I am lovingly referring to right now as a tornado.

It’s not too pretty. Our suitcases still haven’t been unpacked! (haha) Our cameras are waiting patently to be cleaned for the next job, my laptop sits bursting with photo processing and social media managing, dirty lunch plates screaming at me, toys strewn about and our toddler pleasantly painting a masterpiece.

In the brief moments when I think, about the ‘greener grass’ peering at me from a windowed office, I remember just how incredibly lucky we are as a family to have the experiences we choose, feel the love we feel and continually build upon the life we aspired to in the wildest dreams of our youth. They are coming true in every direction we look and I stand here in the middle of this mess feeling nothing but gratitude.