#IAMWHOLE

It’s 22:21pm as I write this… but better late than never. It is still #worldmentalhealthday and Rizzle Kicks star, Jordan Stephens has launched a mental health campaign to normalise the stigma around mental health and to fight for the support that the campaign needs, for young people and simply for us all.

More than one in three people between the ages of 11 and 24 suffer with mental health difficulties. That is quite a statistic. That is a scary amount of young people in this day and age who feel like they are alone, who feel like they shouldn’t speak up and get the help that every human being deserves. Jordan created the hastag #IAMWHOLE to soar throughout social media giving anyone suffering in silence the opportunity to click on it and have their eyes opened to a circle of people, holding out a hand so that they don’t have to feel isolated anymore.

Like my photograph above, many of us have joined in with the campaign by drawing a black circle on our hand. We have joined in because we have personally been touched by the effects of mental health difficulties, we want to help raise awareness to a cause that matters or like me, have suffered personally.

It took me a long time to accept that the anxiety attacks that I would have, the ones that would frighten me and effect my life so dramatically, fell under the mental health umbrella. I don’t know why but when I finally realised how I was ‘labelled’, I felt ashamed of myself. I felt weak, alone and embarrassed to admit it to my friends and closest family. It defined me for quite a long time. I was afraid a lot of the time, it stopped me from enjoying life as much as I wished that I could. I hardly said ‘yes’ to anything anymore, I limited myself completely and when I got so bad, my chest would go so tight, beads of sweat would drip from my face and I would be convinced that I wouldn’t get another chance to breathe. Panic would take me over completely and I was left, crying on my bed…a shell of the person that I used to be.

It was incredibly hard, to accept and to fight.

I know how it feels to feel so far from who you used to be, so out of control…So tired.

I want to help anyone who feels like I once did. I want you to want to help. We have to help.

I am a mother. This campaign matters for the future, for our children. For us all.

#IAMWHOLE

Are you?

With Love,

-Ria x

 

 

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Thirty

When I considered this post, the best part of a year ago, I imagined it to be different. I thought it would resemble a highlight reel of the year that I was twenty-nine. I imagined that it would be a lot of ticks off of my ’30 before thirty bucket list’. I wondered if I would talk about all of the things that I had planned for my twenty ninth year, how I had changed aside from simply growing older. I deliberated over which photographs I would use and I thought that I already knew how they would make me feel before I even had the chance to take them.

The truth is, the year that I was twenty-nine has been much more of a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of chapter. Sometimes a little solitary. In one breath, I would say a fail in terms of the expectations that I had set for myself but in the other, I would say it has been one of the most important years of my life.

Return To Sheldon Spa

This past year, I have learned more about myself than I thought was possible and none of it came from the bucket list that I thought would be so important at the time. None of it came from the bucket list that I never began. I learned more about myself by simply coasting with life, letting go of my need to control everything and simply being a human being who realised that she didn’t have a fucking clue what direction she was meant to take next…let alone ‘find the perfect skincare routine’ while ‘reading thirty new books’.

I learned that the little goals of my bucket list were kind of pointless, my way of regaining control…making everything feel stable.

I recall the afternoon just recently, I had a little time, an hour or so until I needed to collect my little crazies from school. I looked at my list of things that I deemed important to achieve, almost a year ago and they kind of made me shudder. Don’t get me wrong, my ideas were lovely, cute…some beautiful yet suddenly, I didn’t get it anymore. I didn’t understand why I had to read thirty books, try thirty different recipes, have the perfect picnic or aim for ‘thirty acts of kindness’.

It’s about finding THE book that you relate to, changes you, inspires you… Not reading thirty shit ones! Food isn’t an aim, picnics are better when they are spontaneous and why would I limit kindness. I am kind, everyday… I am that person who throws kindness around like confetti.

Shorne Woods Country Park

I remember sitting there with a cup of peppermint & Liquorice tea and asking myself why I chose these things to aim for? Why were they relevant? What did I expect to gain by ‘achieving’ them? Happiness? Self-Worth? An attempt at self development perhaps? I still don’t know the answer. I do know that I still love the idea of bucket lists, goals and targets…making your dreams come true but this list just didn’t speak to me any more.

Faversham Hop Festival

I was already listening to the moments this past year that I hadn’t planned for, in the year that I let life happen. I listened to the quiet that I had planned to make noisy, the times that I felt such joy, unexpectedly. The past year was speaking to me and I was enjoying reminiscing about all of the things that I could have missed out on in a bid to tick a box. Like when I went Glamping in November, in the freezing cold with my slightly mad family which was good for my soul. Like when I opened up about and faced past body issues which I now realise was a heavy burden to carry. Like when I attended a photoshoot in London which saw me step out of my comfort zone massively. Like spending time with my siblings (my backbone) at the theatre and being exactly who I am. Like being on billboards all around the country and having the loveliest women show support, It felt nice. Like enjoying being outside in the Summer with my children for camping, picnics and making memories because they are my heart. And lastly, deciding to extend our beautiful family by one more (hopefully) because I am proud to say that I love being a mother. I made some truly happy memories this past year. I learned a lot about what happiness means.

A Weird And Wonderful week

I think once you conquer happiness, you become free. Once you are confident enough to simply choose it for yourself, you will start to feel it…even in the most testing times. People spend their lives searching for it, sacrificing things they love to get closer to it, feeling miserable because they don’t have it… viewing it as unobtainable, a bonus. It doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t think that I have actually changed that much this past year to be honest with you but the one thing I have noticed in myself is how much believing in happiness has altered me, for the better.

I feel blessed to be going in to my thirtieth year, choosing happiness. Plain and simply.

I may still not know very much about different wines, I may still not know what clothes I want to wear, I may still follow every recipe to exact instruction and I may still feel like I don’t know my exact direction (like most of us!) but that is actually okay by me. There’s something exciting about it.

And it may have taken me a whole year to find the purpose of the ‘year that I was twenty-nine’ but at the end of it, I discovered something pretty great. Something that I can take in to ‘thirty’ and the rest of my years, something that will serve me well, look after me… make me a better person, full of light, love and positivity.

I get to be thirty and I get to be happy.

Twenty-Nine, it’s been amazing but I have a new chapter to begin, with a smile… x

Chasing Sunsets

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Return To Sheldon Spa

So to end ‘My Weird And Wonderful Week’ quite perfectly, on Sunday morning, Matt and I escaped for three whole hours to Sheldon Spa in Faversham- my secret place, my hideaway. Last year for my best friends hen day, I visited for the first time and immediately knew that I wanted to come back with Matt for a romantic morning of peace and tranquility. Matt turned thirty years old quite recently, so I booked in for a belated birthday treat. It was just as lovely as I remembered.

We came with a little breakfast picnic of pastries, blueberries and smoothies and hung out on a lounger for a few minutes to have a morning cup of tea and some refreshing lemon water to start our relaxation.

The pool was so warm like a bath and we were actually really good and did some lengths before we hit the sauna.

The sauna was incredible. I suffer with a sun allergy and after we had some incredibly beautiful weather recently, my skin really suffered and it hadn’t yet managed to soften up properly and get back to normal. The steam and heat really cleaned out my pores and my skin felt incredible after using it. We sprinkled some eucalyptus oil on the stones before pouring (perhaps a little too much) water over the top and it smelt so beautiful. I felt like I could really breathe and let any worries of the previous week simply float away, completely out of my system.

We managed about seven or eight minutes in our first burst and then moved on to the jacuzzi where we chatted and let the bubbles massage our (pretty tired) bodies. It was just lovely!

I managed to read some of my book as I hooked myself on to the side of the pool and treaded water. After being a part of the promotion on Thursday, I really wanted to get lost in it and honestly it is so good so far. Once I am finished, I will do a book review and let you know a more detailed opinion for anyone thinking about reading it. As I read, I did tell myself off a little. I definitely need to make more time to read. It’s the perfect escape from reality and… it reminds me how much I really hope to write a book of my own one day. That would be my dream come true.

Matt went for his treatment which was a half an hour back, neck and should massage…and I read the whole time that he was there.

Then it was my turn (and I had the same treatment). The massage was amazing. I felt so pampered and relaxed after and I think I may have fallen asleep for a little while. I obviously needed it. I probably needed to catch up on the sleep that I lost when I was full of worry in the past week. When it was finished, it took me a while to regain my place in the day… I felt like I was somewhere else completely. It was amazing.

It takes a lot to leave me short for words, but I was too relaxed to speak.

Return To Sheldon Spa

It was so nice to have a little space in time to be completely selfish for a change. It was nice knowing that Noah and Ellenah were safe and happy so that I could feel much less guilt about taking some ‘me/us time’ on their time.

Sometimes it is so hard for me to listen to what my body really needs. What I really need, as a person.

The truth is, I want to give everything that I am to the people that I brought in to the world. When I say that they are my everything, that’s no joke. The parenting thing, I’m totally in it, one hundred and ten percent! The reality though, is that I can’t give EVERYTHING because then there would be nothing left…no good bits, no patience, no understanding, no empathy! And, I would be half the person that they deserve. I want them to have the best.

In this video HERE, I talk about ‘Me Time & Motherhood’…but I am terrible at taking my own advice.

It’s only when I went to collect the children after the spa and Ellenah had a melt down about who would help put her shoes on, I realised that I felt way more confident in handling the situation and myself. That little bit of time away stripped everything back and gave me a fresh start and a fresh voice.

I mean, I can’t be nipping off to the spa every day for a little talk with myself, can I?…I’ve gotta get real and knock that wonderful idea on the head.

But, surely I can save a little piece of myself in other ways. For the greater good?

How do you mama’s revive yourself and you sanity to be the best mum you can be?

With Love,

Ria x

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‘Okay, I just need to weigh you and take your blood pressure, would that be okay?’

‘Sure, no problem…’ I replied. I know the drill- quick, quick…do all the normal checks, get handed a prescription and I’ll be back again in three months time to see how it’s going.

‘Did you know Mrs Langner, we have the same weight for you since you were seventeen years old?’

I knew, it’s not the first time that they have mentioned it. Surely the fact that I am at my natural weight can’t be that baffling to science really, can it? Plus, I’m not that sure how I’m supposed to answer that question, I’m not sure if I’m being scolded, congratulated, questioned… If i’m honest, I don’t know why they bring it up every time. I know for my height I’m classed as ‘under weight’ but I know as well as they do that I am healthy. I would rather we didn’t talk about it. It’s not the reason that I came.

I kind of grunted and said a meek ‘oh!’, I grabbed my prescription and left.

It got me thinking about my body and what I think of it.

I grew up hating it in some ways and loving it in others.

I always hated being tall, I was bullied for being lanky, I never felt in proportion…especially not to how invisible I wished I was in secondary school anyway. My limbs were long and skinny… You couldn’t miss me and I was an easy target. In secondary school I hated being me.

I walked a little crooked just trying to be shorter, I never looked up incase people were staring. I had an unhealthy obsession with food… I just wanted to ‘fit’ somewhere, be like the other girls…. be and look like someone else that wasn’t me, even for a little while.

People were mean to me. People were mean about my body. Being a teenager was hard for me, it’s hard to think about.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad.

I could dance. And those limbs that I had grown to despise helped me to fly. I felt like I had wings as I leapt through the air and moved so gracefully. The neck that I would crane over so that nobody would see my eyes would elongate and I felt so high up, like I could really breathe from up there…like I could love my body forever because it allowed me to fly, to breathe, to see and to be me… away from the opinions and horrible things that people said.

I could run too, really far and really fast. My body let me push it, further and further and I got better and better. I got stronger and stronger and as I held the medals in my hand that basically told me to love my body, I still couldn’t bring myself to give it much credit. I told myself it was all in the mind.

And in the wake of the school years, away from the toxic people that had broken my confidence, I realised that I was wrong. I started on a journey to truly love my body and be happy in my skin.

Of course, early adulthood wouldn’t be the same without drinking a little too much, partying a little too often and eating the wrong foods with your friends as you talked into the the following day. Early adulthood wouldn’t be the same if you had enough sleep and didn’t abuse your body in some ways. It’s part of growing up and a part of life.

And then I reached the age of twenty two and I learned that I was going to become a mother for the first time. At first it was daunting. I was worried how I would look and feel after having a child, I had come so far in my journey of self-acceptance… I didn’t feel ready to deal with more body issues.

And then I felt that flutter like little butterflies. My son.

From that moment, it wasn’t just my body… it was a home. The first home that I lived in with my little boy. It’s where I grew him, fed and watered him and where I kept him safe… and later on, my beautiful daughter too.

I watched my body change in front of my eyes. I watched it push its limits, further and further, life felt better and better and my body was the reason that my baby grew stronger and stronger. And then, I started to give my body the credit that it deserved all of those years ago and especially in that moment when I was growing a child, the first and second time.

I realised that my body is capable of such incredible things. And I loved it a little more.

Of course, my body changed. Yes, three days after having both children, I was back in my jeans and if you didn’t know me, you wouldn’t ever have guessed that I had just had children.

I knew.

It was almost like Noah and Ellenah had carved their names into the walls of their first bedroom and in it’s place, left me with a couple of faint stretch marks to mark the occasion. Over time, they have become almost invisible but they will be there forever. And, I will treasure them until my dying day.

I don’t hate them like once upon a time I thought that I would. How could I ever?

And that brings me to now, approaching thirty this year and more in love with my body than I ever have been. It has been a journey, one I won’t ever forget.

My body is more than ‘a weight’.

My body is more than a statistic.

My body is more than a comparison to anyone else.

My body is mine and there isn’t another one out there like it.

And I do, I absolutely love it and everything that comes with the privilege of ageing it.

My Body

With Love, Ria x

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When I was asked by my childhood friend and the lady who I refer to as my little sister, to be her Matron Of Honour… I cried! My voice became so high pitched and things got a little awkward for poor Matt when he was trying to communicate with me. Needless to say, I was so happy.


I awaited my list of tasks and To-Do’s from an incredibly laid back Bride-To-Be… Not much came. Honestly, this girl takes life in her stride and has faith that all will be fine. Is it possible that I am Bridezilla in her place, desperately wanting her to have the most wonderful day and to feel like the Princess that she is? I would be on the end of the phone, waiting for the call to whip out my highlighters and colour code the crap out of her wedding planner… But everything was in hand.


Eventually, my turn came to step up. The other bridesmaids and I had to put our heads together and plan a Hen Night for our girl.


Ideas were flung around, opinions were exchanged and we agreed on an idea at a secret squirrel meeting over drinks at a local pub. I felt like some kind of secret agent… I can’t lie!


There were twists and turns along the way and in a turn of events, the bridesmaids and I decided that our idea wasn’t the one. it wasn’t how we wanted Katie to say goodbye to her single life and hello to her new one… and name!


So, we decided on something that I hope she will forever look back on with fondness and a smile.


Katie is a beautiful person, inside and out. She is calming and kind-hearted and honestly, the nicest person I know. In all of our years growing up together, when I would be walking home, singing a bit of Bob Marley to myself after one too many vodka, lemonade & Limes after a night out on the town… Katie would be nowhere in sight. 


She is sensible, classy, family-orientated and she not only knew that nights out on the town, drinking too many vodka, lemonades and lime were not for her but she knew what was and she knew exactly how she liked to spend her time. 


She knows exactly who she is.


She introduced me to quinoa, we marvel over travel and we could talk for hours over one cup of tea and a bag of Maltesers about life and our futures… She is unique.


So she deserved a day that would compliment who she is.


We decided to throw her a Bridal Shower.


We invited the long list of ladies in her life who she holds dear.


We decorated my garden. 

There was bunting.

Fresh flowers.

Fizz.

Good Food.

Smiles.

Happiness.

Friendship.

Games.

Words of wisdom and advice.

Earliest, funniest and sweetest memories of our dear friend, written down and shared around. 

Mounds of support.

And….

a whole lot of love for a very laid back Bride-To-Be……

The sun shone down on the day and the blossoms blossomed. It felt like we were all so grown up and it was the perfect start to not only the weekend but hopefully, of her long and happy life with a man named Tom, her true love.

xxx

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