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Life and Your Parents

Life is so confusing at times. I tend to write down ideas when they come to me and then just down my browser to continue with what I was doing. I had written this about my mom around Mother’s Day. Our parents, no matter how much of a pain they may be at times. Continually asking where you are (yes even at 23 a parent’s job never ends), telling you to wash the dishes, the list goes on. I mean I could write an entire blog post on that 😉 Anyway, no matter how much they may feel like a pain, it’s that unconditional love you have for them. Here is a letter dedicated to my mom in particular.

 

“This mother is dedicated to a pretty strong, badass mom of mine. Many of you may know her, but if you don’t… Here is why she is one of the people who shines the light on cloudy days.

 

My mom. My mom is selfless and most importantly displays the most unconditional love any mother ever could. At a young age, she met my dad, and they became friends. Little did she probably know, they would become high school sweethearts, fall in love, and start a family of two boys and a girl.

 

My mom. My mom is a teacher of over 25 years in the same district and shapes the mind of little ones each day. If you don’t know my mom, she has a smile that will make your frown turn upside-down. She has a laugh that you could probably hear miles away, but it is so contagious, it’s hard not to laugh with her.

 

My mom. My mom is someone who you can talk to, relate to, and understand life.

 

My mom. My mom usually spends Mother’s Day with my daddio, hiking, drinking wine, or finding some cute restaurant. This Mother’s Day, my daddio will be there in spirit. He will be looking down at her while she has another ‘first’ without them.”

 

For whatever reason you are reading this, hug those parents tight, no matter how much they text and call you during the day.

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Let’s Talk.

It’s the little things in life like having a mental health chat with your family at your favorite restaurant in town. Ever since I can remember, my mom and dad always brought us to Barker’s in our hometown, Hudson WI. This grew as a family staple. I remember one of the last times I went there with my mom and dad was when I got good grades in one of my last semesters in college. I texted them and said let’s celebrate! Barker’s Bar and Grill was always a place of celebration for our family. When my dad passed away they graciously brought food out to us and our extended family members and honestly is was one of the best ways to remember my dad. This last time we went to Barker’s we were celebrating a friend being in town and some of dad’s favorite foods (11/10 recommend the wings). When we sat down per usual we saw people we knew, recognized servers because we were regulars by now.  Through eating our delicious meal, we were chatting about suicide and family history. Talking about signs, medical records, etc. I know, not your usual family dinner talk, but hey… We have now made that a priority in our house. After we were done we were getting ready to pay when a server said that another server wanted to buy us dessert. We were shocked by the kindness and were amazed by her generosity. The server’s name was Kait. We went to high school together so I figured last week was dad’s one year angelversary.

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When the dessert came to our table, she brought it to us and expressed that she knew about how hard last weekend must have been for us. Then, without hesitation she spoke about how in a couple days will be 5 years since she attempted suicide (yep, I was on the verge of crying). This amazed me. The courage she had to speak up about her own story. With people she barely knew. This got me thinking. One. What a strong community I live it. Two. Look how much of an impact just one person had speaking about her story. Just think, if we talk more about suicide, impacts, and the resources around us, think about the impact that we could make. Thank you Kait, Barker’s, and my Hudson community.

 

Xoxo, Anna

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Letting Go

Sometimes in the midst of life, you turn another year older, and you sit in your room reflecting on the past 23 years. Where am I now? Where did I want to be by now? Sometimes it’s time to let go. Live a new life. Sounds scary… right? Sometimes I sit and get anxious thinking of all the projects I have taken on. Writing, being a mental health advocate, starting a non-profit. How come I was not born with all the natural talents of creative design, writing, athletic ability, the list literally could go on and on. Anxiety works in mysterious ways. Here is what I have learned.

 

  1. Shut anxiety out.

Leave the room you are in. Take a walk outside. A long breath. Literally breathe. Life was not intended for you to worry about all the little things.

  1. Embrace who you really are.

All my life I’ve had to work extra hard. ‘Things’ never came easy for me. I play hockey for 13 years and people always asked me ‘were you good’? and I always said. “I was never the best, but I loved the game.” There is a difference between being good and having passion towards something and truthfully, hockey showed me that. I love to write, but I am not a naturally born writer. I have had to practice, I still am! I am known to be too hard on myself even when my motto is you can always be better. You can always do better. There is so much to learn in life. About life. I’ll never stop learning and trying to be better.

  1. Find the good.

I dare you. Stop what you are doing right now and write down a gratitude list. 10 things you like about yourself. It’s harder than you thought, huh. Reality is it shouldn’t be. Love who you are! Find the good in life. In yourself. It’s all over, I promise.

  1. Take time to breathe.

Easier said than done, I know. With juggling a job, social life, and extra curriculars you feel like you don’t have time to breathe. We weren’t designed to busy bees. That’s a choice. Love what you do but remember it’s okay to stop and breathe. Believe me, I’m doing that as I write this.

  1. Lastly, let go.

Let go of the worry, the stress, the regret. Life is too damn short to be stressed and worn out.

 

For whatever reason you are reading this, love who you are, who you were made to be.

 

Xoxo, Anna

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Wicked Calm Candles

Do you ever feel stressed out or under the weather? My go to is either turn on my diffuser, but my latest is to light a candle!

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Wicked Calm Candles are handmade soy products that benefit the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. While each candle is carefully handcrafted with love, they come is all shapes, sizes, and scents that help calm the nerves or generally make you feel better.

On their Etsy site found here, they write “5% of ALL purchases made in our shop are donated to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation for Mental Health Research!”IMG_8930.jpg

I personally ordered one to test it out and here is what I found:

While browsing their site you can find this directly from their about section;

Soy Candles Promoting Mental Health while Burning Down the Stigma!

At Wicked Calm Candles we strive to provide our customers high-quality soy products for those who suffer with a variety of mental health conditions. Wicked Calm Candle’s are used as a daily reminder to participate in self care, working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and maintaining a positive mindset. Each soy candle or wax melt is handmade with the highest quality soy wax, essential oils, organic ingredients, and eco-friendly materials. We only create blends of scents that can be found in nature for the most pure and rejuvenating candle burning experience.IMG_8928.jpg

We personally test each scent, thoroughly research the ingredients used, and hand pour these candles in small batches with 100% certified organic and vegan friendly materials. Scents that promote overall relaxation and in turn a better quality of life. We firmly believe that every single person deserves the right to take moments out of their day for self-care, without having to break the bank. Momentarily escape your problems, relax, and keep wicked calm! We are here to help!

Our company is a proud contributor to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, donating 5% of all orders to support their research in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of Mental Health disorders. When you purchase from us you are giving back to the future of Mental Health research funding and for that, we thank you!

** These candles should never substitute seeking medical attention from a certified physician for any preexisting physical or mental condition **”IMG_8932

I received my candle in a timely manner and got a wax melt along with it. The second I got it, I could not wait to try out the wax melt! The scent was amazing and they are made with natural ingredients so you know it’s not bad for you.

I love finding fun small businesses that are striving to make a difference!

Thank you owner and creator, Mary Kate Dixon for all you do!

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Self Care Boxes

While browsing Instagram, I found this amazing non-profit… Self Care Boxes. We hear about self love and self care all the time now, and really it is super important especially with your mental health. Self care for most is an item or an activity that makes you feel stress free, relaxed, and ready to take on the rest of the day. Some people it’s a good book, some its a relaxing bubble bath, others it’s going for a run. Self Care boxes sent me a box and I was overwhelmed with positivity and mindfullness. IMG_8918.jpg

Recently, they opened up an Etsy shop to help fund their non-profit. Here is the link to their Go Fund Me where they raise money to be able to send boxes to people who request them. If you follow their Instagram, they pick about 5 names bi-weekly. Then send those boxes out.

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On their Go Fund Me page their write “Self Care Boxes is a non-profit charity dedicated to sending self care goods to those suffering from mental illness.
Every little bit helps as we will be sending as many care boxes as possible out every month.
We will update on each box on our Facebook page “Self Care Boxes”  “IMG_8917.jpg

Coloring books have been making a comeback for adults these past couple years… if you have yet to sit down and take time to color, I highly recommend doing that. Your mood with thank you!

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Each item they pick out to put in a box (items vary per box/week), they are gravitated towards that self care soothing feel. Nothing like coming home after a stressful or long day, and relaxing with essential oils, or washing your face with lavender cleansing wipes. IMG_8916.jpgThank you for putting smiles on people’s faces who are struggling!

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10 Months Tomorrow

10 months tomorrow you you physically left this earth to Heaven, but your spirit lives on in each one of us kids everyday. Everyday I see you in my brothers, the way they talk, the way they laugh, the way they live their life. 10 months ago tomorrow, you went to Heaven, but not a moment goes by we don’t bring you up in a story, or think about how you would help us out in a time of distress.

10 months ago tomorrow.

It’s kind of interesting how this journey has evolved. Through tough conversations with people you find out that a lot of people have lost a loved one some way or another. I often times wonder what Heaven for you is like. I picture the grass vibrantly green, a brand new scag turf mower waiting for you. I imagine a field of unlimited hydrangea flowers with a beautiful waterfall. I imagine your radio playing KFAN as you wander from one project outside to the next. I hear your goofy laugh and your sunburned face from being outside and mom wondering where your sunscreen was. I hear you opening a can of Mountain Dew, later winding down on the couch with a bottle of Miller Lite. Baseball season has started so you are watching the Twins play. I see you with a tooth pick in your mouth and a computer in your lap as you follow along with other sports fanatics on Twitter… even though you actually did not have an actual Twitter account.

Now and then I remember Mom and I laughing and being our usual loud selves in the kitchen and you turning up the volume saying “really?” without even looking at us… oh what I would give to joke around with you again.

Grilling season is arriving and even though you grilled year round like the midwestern you were, I smell the deep frier as you make cheese curds for us, inviting our college roommates over for dinner as you grill your famous burgers. You carefully picked out the perfect RJ’s hamburger buns.

Can you believe it will be 10 months tomorrow? I sure as hell can’t.

But your legacy lives on in each of us kids. The kids you raised to not worry about the little things. The kids you raised to love the outdoors, hiking, gardening, sports, you name it.

We miss you, but know that you would want us to Choose Happy.

xoxo, Dad.

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Dear Grief;

Dear Grief;

I really don’t know how to handle you. You cling to me everyday and everywhere I go. I don’t know how to get rid of you. Grief, you blurt out everything and anything at the best and worst times possible. It feels like word vomit. Unlike when I was diagnosed with my anxiety and depression, I knew that one day I’d see the light at the end of the tunnel… yet here you are and it looks never ending. Grief, you have ruined relationships, you have strengthened some, you have made me laugh, you have made me cry, scream. You taunt me in my sleep, you make me babble on and on. You make me run and most days I just want to wake up from this never ending nightmare.

Grief, I know I didn’t expect you, and that no one really can, but I wish you had a manual on how to survive with you constantly by my side.

xoxo, Anna

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Real Life: Mental Health

If there is one thing that I always try to remember when speaking out about mental health is that I know that I did not go to school to become a mental health professional. I don’t have all the real known facts. All I have is the raw real-life truth. I have learned so much through a Dialectical Behavior Therapy program at Nystrom and Associates in Woodbury, MN. After multiple therapists, one other DBT program that I dropped out of because I wasn’t in the mindset that I actually needed it to be healthy and make a life worth living. This was a year long program, but it did indeed take longer than that to complete because again, I was not in the mindset I needed it. I figured, well, I have had three months with no anxiety, I have been able to get out of bed, and I really do not want to drive allll the 20 minutes to Woodbury. Little did I know, my therapist knew I had it in me to make a life worth living, she helped me get through the mistakes, the rough times, the good times, the fights, the setbacks. She held nothing back when it came to tell me how it is, and I needed that. Sometimes you need someone to kick you off your high horse, appreciate what you have, put life into perspective, and let you know that you need this program more than it needs you. I was put on “vacation” for a couple months because I missed too many times.

This program was more than skills to help my anxiety and panic attacks, it has helped me cope ahead during stressful times, get me out of bed, and help me with everyday tasks. I encourage everyone whatever you are going through to look up “Dialectical Behavior Therapy”. I still go to Nystrom’s to see a psychiatrist every three months, and I have been impressed every visit with the knowledge and care. Now, like I have said before I did not go to college to get a degree in this, but I know first hand the feeling of helplessness, finding hope, and getting better.

https://www.nystromcounseling.com/ <—– find more information here.

Another place I have gone is Collaborative Counseling in Hudson, WI. What I liked about this experience is my Dad actually went to some sessions with me and so my therapist got to know my family. Since my Dad passed, I went back for grief therapy sessions to talk through everything and for her to have met my Dad in the past, we were able to connect and get through so much it was a life savor. Collaborative is a great resource. My goal is to discover more resources locally so people amid a crisis can get the help that I was fortunate enough of receiving to create a life worth living. Life throws us a lot of curve balls, but there is so much to appreciate, accomplish, and inquire it is unreal.

https://www.collaborativemn.com/ <—– find more information here.

For whatever reason you are reading this, check out these resources and let’s help each other make a life worth living.

xoxo, Anna

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Goodbye January

 

Now that the month is coming to an end, I am reflecting on all the new opportunities that I have been given or experienced. This month was more than a start of a new year, it was the start of new experiences, friendships, and moments. This month I have celebrated my late father’s 50th birthday at his favorite place in town. He had his 7-month angelversary… can you believe it has been 7 months? Holy moly. To be completely honest, I almost forgot it has been 7 months when the 10th came around because of celebrating his birthday.

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Lots of emotions this month for sure. We came back from Hawaii which was so much fun. It was everything I have ever dreamed of and more. What a special treat it was to enjoy this vacation with my mom, and two brothers. The holidays were a little tougher than I expected, but I knew my dad would want us to enjoy time together. I have also joined a weight loss group at a local gym in Hudson.

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For me it’s not so much about losing the weight, it’s about becoming healthier and stronger mentally. This is my first month as a college graduate and it really hasn’t kicked in yet. There are so many different feels. This year is also a year of first without my dad so half the time when events happen, I feel 5,000 feelings at once and sometimes I just have to stop and take in the moment to help myself out. Starting my non-profit has helped a ton coping. Knowing I am doing something good for people and helping them get through their own hardships in life is what makes me personally get excited to wake up the next day. One question I often get is “did you start this in honor of your dad?” The answer is no. I wanted to start a non-profit a few months before my dad passed away, but nothing spoke to me at the time. Then when he passed away I decided to take a break and focus on my own healing.

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Come November, The Butterfly Project popped into my mind and thus I started back wanting to help my community. As I focus on the ‘year of firsts’ I am currently reading, Option B. This book has given me such hope and even more insight on what others are going through besides me. It gives me a good point of view of what my mother, my brothers, aunt and uncles, grandparents, close friends of my dad, and so on are going through. Before my dad died, I had no freaking idea what people were going through who have lost a close loved one. I thought that I had a plan set in place for my life and now I have learned that you need to seize the day and take it on with a grateful heart. To understand that everyone you come across in life has their hard. So, here is to the year of firsts, Dad. Here is to my guardian angel.

For whatever reason you are reading this, don’t let your ‘hard’ define you, but understand that it is apart of the journey.

xoxo, Anna

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5 Ways to Survive the Holidays

The “happiest time of the year”… or is it…

Now that the holiday hustle is over, I have had time to sit and really reflect on surviving my first major holiday season without my Dad.

For some of us it’s a year of firsts or continuing to survive the holidays without a loved one. Over the years of dealing with mental health, I have found it easy to start coping ahead for what you know will be a hard time.

Whether you have just lost someone or are still coping with the loss of a loved one, there is one thing we all can agree on, grieving is hard and takes a lot of energy out of you. Here are some things that I have found that have helped me, or I know they have helped someone else survive the holiday season.

  1. Self-Care: this has been a hot topic lately and something that I am never opposed to. Go get your nails done, get your hair done, go to the gym, journal, take time out of your day for just you… you won’t regret it.
  2. Stick by Family: family is always first and as sad as some may be, still stick by them. Celebrate with them. Make new traditions.
  3. Go on Vacation: this is something that was a treat for our family. We left the cold and went to Hawaii and my lord was it the more relaxing vacation I have ever been on. The vitamin D did us good.
  4. Talk about your loved one: This is something I think that some people stay away from because they do not want to cross a line. I love talking about my Dad and the memories with him. I cherish those and want others to think the same about their times with him too.
  5. Lastly, Celebrate: you made it this far. Now that is something to celebrate. Reflect on your past year and how strong you really are. Wake up, kick ass, repeat. You got out of bed when really, it was one of the hardest things to do that day. Remember you cannot change the past, or worry about the future, so celebrate the present times.

For whatever reason you are reading this, pass it on to someone you care about. Start the new year off right.

 

xoxo, Anna