I am sick. You may not know that by looking at me, but I am. My illness is invisible. There are those out there who would say mental illness isn’t real, or isn’t as important as other medical ailments – cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis. And to them, I ask: Why? Why is my illness unimportant? It affects my mind and my body on a regular basis.Read More
I couldn’t focus. Every day seemed harder and harder – I was losing my ability to accomplish my daily tasks and I couldn’t understand what was happening.
Nothing seemed to work. I’d get up and walk around, and when I sat back down the first thing I would reach for is my phone, my crutch when I was bored. The thing was, I wasn’t bored. My brain was being challenged, I was learning new things, and I had a lot to do. But I couldn’t seem to get anything done.Read More
On Wednesday, April 19th I was checked by my midwife and she reported that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. Naturally, I got super excited and assumed delivery was imminent. I was wrong. No bloody show, no broken water. My midwife wrote me a prescription for a tincture to help induce labor. It consisted of blue and black cohosh root, ginger, and Lobelia. Two days later and one empty tincture bottle... still nothing. At this point, I was more than ready to get this show on the roadRead More
Amy Bleuel founded Project Semicolon in 2013 to honor her father who died of suicide 10 years earlier. About the symbol, she wrote: ‘A semi-colon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.’ Project Semicolon's tagline - "Your story is not over" - gives hope and inspiration to countless people.Read More
Only two weeks away from my due date and I’m so ready for this baby! Overall it's been an easy, joyful pregnancy and I’ll always be grateful for that, but these last couple of weeks have been tough.Read More
When we last spoke, I sadly had four failed IUI’s (intrauterine inseminations) under my belt and had just publicly gone through a very devastating miscarriage of our identical twins following our first IVF frozen embryo transfer. And while it was heartbreaking and we miss our twins every single day, we discovered from that heartbreak that we indeed could get pregnant.Read More
Not all diseases or illnesses are obvious. There are so many people who suffer, chronically, without anyone ever knowing. Just by looking at me, you wouldn’t even know, but I am one of those people.Read More
My first memory of my mom’s drug usage was when I was 10. I was taking a shower in her bathroom when I pulled a perfectly folded towel off the rack and a mirror, knife, and small white baggie came with it.Read More
Throughout my pregnancy, my OB appointments have been somewhat of a disappointment. Once you get over the initial rush of your first ultrasound, doppler, and measurement, the appointments start to feel rushed.Read More
It's been one year since I wrote my piece for your magazine and what a year it has been. January last year was the beginning of my recovery and last month I celebrated one year into my recovery.Read More
"I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." This was a line from "Invictus," a poem I had not studied in years, yet I found myself thinking about it one morning on the way to hot yoga.Read More
They say that worrying as a new parent is normal, that you’ll worry about your child for the rest of his/her life. That may be so, but I was experiencing something I couldn’t imagine feeling for the next 18+ years of my life.Read More
My brain was hijacked by overwhelming fear at the age of twelve. A fear so strong that it eventually took over my whole being. At the time, I did not understand why all of this was happening to me.Read More
Single-mom isolation, gastrointestinal problems, a business in the dumps, and a box of vegetables: who would have thought that this particular mash-up could lead to a more self-expressed life? But that’s how it came together for me.Read More
Almost seven years ago, I was told that the cruel way I treated my body was going to eventually kill me if I kept counting calories and restricting my intake at the rate I had been pushing myself. The day my doctor said to me if I were to continue to do these things to myself, I would not live to see my twenties was the day I decided to defy all odds.Read More
There’s so much technology around in today’s society that it's no wonder there doesn’t seem to be a need for learning braille. There seems to be this idea surrounding braille that it’s no longer useful in contemporary society, and that it doesn’t have as much value nowadays, but is that really true?Read More
Anxiety, stress and fear affect all of us in some way or another. Almost everyone today either knows someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder or has the disorder themselves. It didn’t seem that common to me until a few years ago. I was actually surprised to read that approximately 40 million adults in the United States ages 18-54 suffer from anxiety.
Even with that many people suffering there seems to be a bit of a stigma around anxiety. It’s not a topic you just hear people talking about freely – the sufferers are embarrassed and the non-suffers look at it as an ‘it’s all in your head’ kind of disorder. Until you’ve suffered the true effects of anxiety you have no idea how helpless and scared you feel.
I was a born a ‘glass is half-full’ kind of person. I typically have positive thoughts and am known for looking on the bright side but when my business grew by leaps and bounds a few years ago I started feeling anxious. Suddenly I realized that the more you have the more you have to lose. More clients meant making more people happy, more employees meant more people’s lively hoods I felt responsible for and for a brief moment I started feeling overwhelmed, stressed and fearful of my own success.
Having watched friends and family suffer from anxiety I knew that I needed to take immediate action. I needed to clear my head, narrow my focus and try to stop the anxiety from creeping in. That is when I turned to mindfulness.
According to the dictionary mindfulness means a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. For me mindfulness means achieving a positive outlook on life, casting out fear and replacing it with strength and confidence. The great thing about mindfulness is it can become what you want it to become. You don’t have to fit it into a cookie cutter definition of what someone else wants it to be. It can become what you want it to be.
If you feel run ragged, stressed, tired of your job, exhausted by your kids, or even anxious or depressed mindfulness can help in renewing your sense of purpose, it will increase your energy and motivation, and decrease your stress.
In order to practice mindfulness all you need to do is sit in a quiet comfortable place for just a few minutes each day. You need to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, your surroundings, the smells and the sounds. Let all of your muscles relax and just breathe. In and out. Let all of your worries wash away and in that moment just be you – the real you. Not the you everyone else wants you to be – just be you.
Research suggests that practicing mindfulness and meditation decreases anxiety and stress levels as well as can transform personality traits. You can become more positive and obtain a happier disposition as meditation does transform the neurons in your brain. The good news is you don’t need to mediate for years to start reaping the benefits, one study showed brain transformations after just 8 weeks of meditation. For me I honestly felt like I was feeling results immediately! I was calmer, more focused, more positive and was able to push the fear and anxiety right out the window.
Although this sounds super easy, some people find meditation hard to do. Why? Because even as adults some of us can’t sit still. Start with one minute and then increase your time a little bit each day. Set a timer so that you don’t have to worry about how much time is passing. Just concentrate on your thoughts – positive thoughts and your timer will beep at you when your time is up.
One minute may not sound like much but the first time I tried it I set the timer for one minute and was surprised at how long it felt. I now try to fit in 10-15 minutes Monday thru Friday.
I honestly wish I had stumbled across mindfulness when my children were younger because I really could’ve used it back then, too!
Whether you are looking to achieve success or looking for inner peace, mindfulness offers a lot of benefits. The great news is it’s something you can start today!
Danae Branson is the Co-Founder of Elite Virtual Assistants, a virtual assistant company that matches VAs with coaches, authors, speakers, creative entrepreneurs and savvy business professionals. She loves to spend time with her husband and three children soaking up the very few rays of sunshine they get in Minnesota. Danae’s hobbies include reading magazines, paddle boarding and race walking, okay maybe not race walking but she does like to walk.