An Edited Life: Kendra Kantor, Wellness Mentor and Guide

An Edited Life is a series where I interview women Life Editors who are living their authentic stories. Please say hello to Kendra Kantor!

Welcome! Please introduce yourself and your business.

Hi lovelies! I’m Kendra Kantor. I’m a Wellness Mentor and Guide for creative women looking to embrace their self-discovery and improve their mental health wellness.

What that means is that I pull on my own experiences with depression, anxiety, and postpartum depression to encourage, support, and be a friend to women like me and help them find out who they want to be and create a life they love.

How do you help women edit their lives?

I help women find out what they want and work with them to create action plans to make that happen.

Sometimes that means focusing on themselves more for self-care time. Sometimes that means encouraging them to let go of poor habits or negative relationships.

Often it means I encourage them to journal, be honest with themselves, and learn to be introspective to determine who they really want to be and what they want their lives to look like.

What led you to start your business?

I’ve always wanted to run my own business. I never wanted that normal 9-to-5 job. In high school, I was sure I wanted to be a photographer and even went to art school.

After a bad year of having no support system, feeling a lack of encouragement from my professors, and personal issues that made art school difficult, I decided to leave.

After dropping out of art school in 2010, I tried to embark on a mission to “find myself” and figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life instead of photography.

I’ve had depression and anxiety all of my life, but after 2010 I went through a very debilitating phase. I had a hard time leaving my own bedroom. After barely surviving the first 6 months of my son’s life in 2012, I realized what I wanted to do was help women like me.

I remember what it was like to be that 13-year-old girl, wanting to die and feeling like no one understood. I felt like there was a lack of realness and honesty and support from women who had been there. I wanted to become that support.

[Note from Sage: Click here to read the story of my depression and suicide attempt.]

So after focusing on my own health for about a year, in August 2013 I embarked on creating my Wellness Mentor and Guide business. I am so in love and passionate about what I do and aim to help as many women as I can.

Imperfection and embracing our flaws is essential for an edited life. You’re vocal about having a mental illness, but it doesn’t seem to slow you down. What advice do you have for my readers who may have their own mental, physical, or emotional struggles?

Be proactive in your life.

I know that it’s easier said than done because I’ve been in that dark place where it feels like nothing will help. I resisted support and resisted taking care of myself for a long time.

It wasn’t until I realized how much my health and wellness was impacting my newborn son that I decided to take action.

But it’s changed my life. I’ve grown in leaps and bounds in the last 2 years, and while I still struggle and have bad days, I am proud of my success and progress.

You don’t have to be perfect every day. You don’t have to go at this all alone.

Being honest and saying, “I need some help with this. I’m ready to start focusing on me and getting well,” is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

I talk about self-care (white space) often on my blog. Why do you believe self-care so important?

Self-care is more than just having a bubble bath or buying yourself a new book. Self-care is about focusing on yourself. It’s about being realistic with your needs and honoring your body.

Self-care can be going to therapy or taking medication. It can be going on a date with your partner or rolling around on the floor with your child. Self-care isn’t all about luxurious feelings or spoiling yourself or even being selfish.

It’s caring about yourself like you would care for your child, your best friend, or your partner.

If your partner was sad, you would help him or her through it. If you child got hurt, you would kiss it and make it better. If your best friend just got dumped, you would do an ice cream and movie sob fest together.

Treat yourself with that same kindness and love.

What does an average day look like for you?

Depending on if my son is going to daycare or if his grandma is babysitting, we either wake up to the alarm (around 8:00 am) or sleep in until about 9:30 am—love those days! My son is almost 2 and a half, and some days he wakes up with so much energy and shouting “Eat! Eat!” in my face.

Other days, we cuddle in bed and he jabbers to me for about a half hour (I prefer those days). We get up, have breakfast, and I drink as much coffee as I can before he starts pulling me off to play or get ready to go.

Around 9:00 or 10:00 am, I’ll either drop him at daycare or hand him off to my mom to babysit, then I make my way to my work area (with more coffee of course). I usually only have about 3 hours to work so I don’t spend much time browsing on Twitter or Pinterest, but I do set aside about 15 minutes to 30 minutes every morning before turning on my computer to do some art.

I’ll either work in my art journal or paint on a canvas or even wander into the backyard with my camera. When I skip my art time, I am much less focused and productive during work.

During my work time, I write blog posts, interact with the groups I run on Facebook, work on creating my next course, do copy writing and sale page creation, schedule social media posts, and do interviews or write guest posts.

I usually wrap up work around noon and then make lunch for myself and my son. The rest of the day until 5:30 pm when my husband gets home is spent trying to keep my son entertained and keep as many tantrums at bay as possible.

We have lots of fun painting together, playing with his doll house, throwing the ball for the dog, watching Toy Story or Curious George and going to the library. Sometimes we go to French class or tumbling class.

I am so thankful that my son is great at independent play so when he’s happily reading a book or playing with blocks or bubbles by himself for 10 minutes, I’ll do some social media work on my phone or some note taking. I try really hard to be mindful and in the moment when I’m with my son, but sometimes I think about work and need to jot some notes down so I don’t forget.

Sometimes when my husband gets home, I’ll do some more work until bedtime but that just depends on my deadlines and such. Otherwise, we eat dinner and spend the night playing together.

I don’t work every day, and ideally, I would have a few more hours/days to work, but I do what I can with what we have for now.

I know I am immensely lucky to be able to stay home while my husband works and supports us. Our dream is for my business to be our main support within the next few years (wish us luck!).

What routines, habits, beliefs, or other things help you live an edited life?

Having a toddler and managing anxiety means my life is full of routines. If I suggest we sit in a different chair for lunch than normal, watch out! So I try not to rock the boat in that way.

Even though I work from home and run my own business, it helps immensely to know when I’m going to work and how much time I have. I can manage my tasks easier knowing what needs to get done and when I’ll next have a chance to accomplish something.

I have 2 routines that are my favorite: working on my art before work and doing a photo practice I call #MindfulMondayPractice on Instagram.

Both of these practices help me focus on what I’m doing, help me realign with my inner self, and give me space to breathe and work through any problems or negative thoughts I’m dealing with.

Do you have anything to share with my readers?

My favorite way to start improving your wellness is to look at your self-worth and to start taking stock of all of your big and little achievements.

When I was starting to really focus on myself a few years ago, my progress was very slow, and I didn’t always notice it.

So I started writing down the things I did like, “Today I took a shower,” “Today I went on a walk with my son without having a panic attack,” or “I emailed 2 people about opportunities for my business.” They were small things but they really added up in my life.

I wanted to help you do the same thing, so I created a 14-page printable journal called “I Am Proud!”

Start taking stock of your big and little achievements and realize how much progress you are making. Start improving your self-worth today! Click here to get your free copy of “I Am Proud!”

Where can we find you?

Thank you for sharing your edited life, Kendra!