“Vulnerability brings connection.” When you are vulnerable, you give others the opportunity to connect with you, to meet you where you’re at, and to have the opportunity to help. Being vulnerable does not make you weak, it just makes you human
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terra LaRock, founder and CEO of Mindful Mamas and a licensed psychologist. In March 2020, her company launched a mindfulness and self-care app for moms and moms-to-be called “Mindful Mamas.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I’m Terra LaRock. I’m a mother to two darling children; a child, family, and school psychologist; and the founder and CEO of Mindful Mamas, a maternal wellness company.
As a school psychologist, I had always used mindfulness as a way to teach my students and their families to take better care of themselves and process their emotions. It wasn’t until I experienced postpartum depression and OCD that I realized how paramount mindfulness was to my healing and overall well-being.
We get one chance to do motherhood, and I knew I didn’t want to experience the first years of my children’s lives through a haze. I fought hard for my mental health. I found strength and resilience through mindfulness and meditation. I discovered that taking care of myself was actually part of taking care of my children. As it turns out, self-care isn’t selfish.
The more I began to practice mindfulness and meditation, the more I fell in love with teaching it to women everywhere.
On March 19th, 2020, I launched a mindfulness and self-care app for moms and moms-to-be called Mindful Mamas. I am thankful everyday to be truly living out my life’s calling to “mother the mothers.”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I had always thought that I was going to retire as a child, family and school psychologist. Starting a business was never a goal of mine. But when I started speaking out and vulnerably sharing about the shame I felt about being a mental health provider battling my own mental health crisis, I realized how many other women were suffering right alongside me. The stories I heard were heartbreaking. I talked to so many women that felt alone, and I knew that I needed to shift the narrative that our society has led us to believe. A woman should not wonder what she needs to buy in motherhood, but rather she should wonder how she wants to be in motherhood.
I felt like Mindful Mamas was born out of the wounds I experienced during my battle with postpartum depression and OCD. As Oprah Windfrey eloquently stated, “there is wisdom in our wounds.” Everyone has a story to share and sometimes it’s these very stories that turn into a business — solving the problems that the business owner experienced first hand. That is exactly what happened to me and Mindful Mamas.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes are all part of the learning process. I try not to be too critical when I make an error. It is the errors that have taught me so much. I like to think of mistakes as “failing” forward. When I make a mistake, I take time to process the mistake, practice self-compassion, and then move on.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It’s been incredible to see Mindful Mamas go from a recurring idea that kept me up at night to a revenue generating business. One person I am eternally grateful for is our Head of Mindfulness, Carina Devi. She is our narrator on the app and helped me write and create all the content. When I approached Carina with this idea to teach moms mindfulness, without hesitation she exclaimed yes and has been my right hand man (or woman) since the beginning.
Her passion, expertise, and talents have played an integral part in helping Mindful Mamas shine. When I think of Carina, I think of a warm hug. She is a ray of sunshine and one of the most joyful people I know.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
On average, mothers have about 17 minutes per day to themselves. They are constantly pouring into others, so it’s no wonder so many mothers are walking around feeling depleted and run down.
Mindful Mamas aims to help shift the narrative to help women understand that they can get “sips” of self-care throughout their day without needing to alter their to do list. We teach women tangible, practical skills that they can use whether they are on the go, cooking dinner, or up in the middle of the night tending to their children.
Small children rely on the nervous system of those around them to regulate their own bodies and behaviors. If we are able to help mothers learn how to model self-care, regulate their emotions, and negotiate their wants and needs, then imagine all of the children that will grow up learning these precious life skills from their mothers.
At Mindful Mamas we believe that if you teach a mother a new skill, she will teach the world.
Can you share your top five“lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Below are my top five lifestyle tweaks:
- Cultivate a gratitude practice: Gratitude is known to “gladden” the heart. Write a gratitude list before bed or invite your family to say one thing they are grateful for around the dinner table. You’ll be surprised at just how much there is to be grateful for.
- Get outside every single day: We often walk around feeling so disconnected from the world around us. It can be incredibly grounding to connect with nature and escape the constant distractions of our lives. Every day, make it a point to step outside (even if it’s for one minute), note the weather, the sounds you hear, and take one big full breath.
- Drink a full glass of water in the shower: Water heals us inside and out. Use it to cleanse within your body as it is washing away the dust that accumulates on the outside of your body.
- Practice mindfulness: Whether you have 60 seconds or 10 minutes, a mindfulness practice that helps you lock into the here and now can help to reduce stress, deepen relationships, get better sleep, and cultivate self-love.
- Say this mantra: I am feeling ______ and that’s okay. When you name an emotion, you are less likely to suppress it, and when you say “that’s okay,” you give yourself permission to feel exactly what needs to be felt in the moment. The first step to process strong emotions is to identify them.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe that if everyone around the world paused at least once a day to put their hands over their heart or belly and took one deep, rejuvenating breath, we would have more regulated and connected human beings. Breath is powerful. It can be both rejuvenating and relaxing. It is the very thing that gives us life.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- “This will be hard, but it will be worth it.” When you own your own company there isn’t anyone to pass off the worry to. You are the one that thinks about payroll, employee health and happiness, the growth of the business, ect. Yet despite carrying the emotional and financial load of the business, you also get to reap the benefits when your company does incredible things, no matter how small or big.
- “Your intuition is wise. Use it.” There have been times when I thought that because I have never run a business before, I was ill-equipped to handle particular situations. I relied too heavily on other people who I thought “were experts in the field,” and it ended up costing me more in the long run. It’s always a wise thing to consult with people you respect, but if your intuition is screaming at you to go a different direction, listen to it.
- “There is no such thing as work/life balance.” I believe in work/life integration, not balance. My life and work are integrated — some days I lean into work more than life and other days it’s quite the contrary. If I think of it as balance, I tend to be hard on myself for not giving either my work or my life enough attention or focus. When I think of it as integrated, it feels much more even. I am better able to juggle and enjoy all that is asked of me.
- “Mindful listening is a super power.” People in this world are craving to be heard. Really heard. When you can drop in and listen to what those around you are saying without thinking about how you’re going to respond, multitasking (looking at your phone), or focusing on the time, you can hear a lot more than just the words. You discover the heart of others, what’s beautiful about them, and their idiosyncrasies. And when someone feels heard, you build trust. And trust, my friend, is the key to relationships in both your personal life and in your business.
- “Vulnerability brings connection.” When you are vulnerable, you give others the opportunity to connect with you, to meet you where you’re at, and to have the opportunity to help. Being vulnerable does not make you weak, it just makes you human.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is my focus. As a postpartum depression survivor who almost lost their battle with suicidal ideation, I know first hand what it’s like to live thinking that you don’t matter. We need to do a better job normalizing therapy. You wouldn’t expect someone with a broken leg to walk to the hospital, yet we expect someone with a broken brain to do essentially just that. We need more understanding, education, and compassion for mental health. My hope is that Mindful Mamas can help shift this narrative for women and mothers around the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Let’s be friends. Find me on Instagram and Facebook at @mindfulmamasclub, twitter @mindfulmamasapp, and Linkedin at /terra-larock-544b13188/