Blue's UnBashful Blog

Blue's UnBashful Blog

Saturday, February 11, 2017


I have been overwhelmed with positive emotions as of late and I've had a hard time articulating these feelings.  At times,  I have felt too giddy or too happy that I thought something was wrong with me.   Turns out I'm just happy and it turns out I have never been consistently aware of such a feeling.  Rather than continue to overthink my thoughts and work on the perfect blog post, I've decided to just let it flow and to share away.  I also want to practice my writing and my expression as I feel both have become rusty over the years. 

I'm looking at the world and everyone and every situation around me with wonder and curiosity rather than fear and uncertainty. It feels like I've been wearing foggy glasses for years and I finally wiped the glasses clean and can see clearly.  Though some things, people, and experiences continue to haunt me, I have learned to deal with them in a variety of ways from diet and mindfulness to self protection and most importantly through self reliance. 

Winston Churchill said, " If you're going through hell, just keep going" and those words are so true. In the spirit of Wilson Phillips, "hold on for one more day", It does get better. Sometimes it's not about adjusting your sails, it's about bowing down and facing the storm head on and hoping for the best.  After "adjusting my sails", didn't work, I hunkered down, took the beatings, let time pass, and let the emotions come and go. I prayed and begged for it to end, and then I waited for calmer waters. If you are going through bad shit and feel like there is no way out, no support, nothing.....just hunker down and wait.  It WILL pass, like a fucking kidney stone but it will pass.  Sometimes that is your only option and choosing that option is only up to you.  Choosing to live when I no longer wanted to was the best decision I ever made, on numerous occasions.

 A year ago, I couldn't get out of bed and I didn't see a future. For the first time in my life, I didn't have a vision for my future nor did I have goals beyond waking up and surviving another day..That was difficult because all of my life I had vision for my future and goals set to achieve. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.  I was moving forward blindly and with little hope.

It has always been strenuous for me to define happiness. I don't remember the last time I was consistently happy; but, I have been "slap- happy giddy" for no other reason than just because.   There is nothing more rewarding than surviving what at many times seemed impossible. Happiness is surviving the worst times in life. It's surviving the darkest, most miserable and most painful moments.

For me, happiness comes from figuratively being kicked in the gut, brought to my knees, crying out in pain like someone literally ripped my heart out, and having the wind knocked out of me. It comes from being violated in such a way that at the time seemed irredeemable.  ....and then kicked and spit on afterwards by people close to me, complete strangers, and everyone in between..... with my hands tied behind my back while blindfolded. (Uphill battle seemed like an understatement).   We all have breaking points, and what one person perceives as devastating is different than what someone else perceives as devastating.  Keep that in mind before judging others. 

Happiness IS in our control. For me, happiness is wanting to break out in song and dance at random moments just because. Happiness is sincerely laughing, sometimes just because.  I laugh so  much now and it feels amazing and it feels genuine.   Happiness is wanting to get out of bed, excited for what the day will bring AND having the energy to do so!  Happiness is being ME, regardless of what other people think and regardless of how goofy I may appear. Happiness is having vision and goals that make me excited and give me something to work towards. Happiness is making other people smile. Happiness is contagious. Happiness is having meaningful connections to others but not relying on others.

Happiness is feeling happy regardless of weight gain and how your clothes fit, it's' loving myself for once and for all!   ( I honestly think I gained this weight to learn to love myself unconditionally, I didn't love myself without it) Happiness  is being happy  regardless of who is around you, and regardless of material things. How do you define success? For me, success is being happy, it's being challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, and a healthy way.   Happiness is knowing, truly knowing,  that I don't need to rely on anyone for anything and knowing that I will survive. 

I am now successful, I am happy, and I am hungry (it figuratively feels like I haven't "ate" in years).  I am voraciously hungry... hungry for improvement, hungry for movement, hungry for exploration, immensely hungry for love and connection, hungry for achieving my goals, and hungry for knowledge...most importantly I am hungry for helping others.  I still have really bad days, but those days are outnumbered by my happy days and that is how I know everything is ok and everything will be ok and because of that I  know I am happy. And I know that I am resilient and tenacious.  I am a survivor of many things, and that is badass. 

 I'm elated to share my appetite with you and to share my journey.  I will post as things come to mind, rather than wait for weeks and weeks to pass as I try to create a perfect blog post.  It will never be perfect but I need to share. I need to inspire and I need to help. There is too much pain, desperation, and emptiness in the world.  I want to change that.

Thank you for following, please contact me via email ( with any questions or insights or leave a comment.  And please share <3

Believe Love Understand Empower.

 I needed me a me for as long as I can remember so I became a me, to me. Now, I can be a me to others ♡. You have the power to save yourself, to heal yourself, and to love yourself. Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower yourself....then empower and help others Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower themselves. It's a fabulous cycle! Be your own hero, then go be a hero to others ♡

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pill Gate, Just Say No to Politics

I remember everything about Tuesday November 26, 2013. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I met with a representative from LACADA, Lorain County's Drug and Alcohol Addiction Services, in the morning to get a better understanding of the heroin epidemic.  A former high school classmate overdosed a few weeks earlier and it surprised me, I didn't understand why.  I wanted to see if there was anything that I could do as an elected official, to raise awareness, educate, and help prevent.  At lunch I met with a friend to confirm dates for our "self- defense and home invasion prevention program" for the community.  

Later that day I walked (I refused all driving privileges from my DUI since many people vilified me for allegedly receiving "special privileges", I also felt I had to make things as challenging as possible to punish myself) to town hall for a rescheduled council meeting at 5:30pm.   The council meeting finished and per typical council practice, though very much in violation of Ohio Sunshine Law when village business was discussed, I left and council stayed behind.  Also staying behind in common practice was former mayor Shari Sczepanski (she attended all the council meetings as any "Bitter Betty" with a lot to hide would).  I walked across the street to the library to rent movies.  When I left, I noticed that council's vehicles and Shari's vehicle were still at town hall.  I thought to myself, "Wow, they are still at it" and proceeded to walk north to grab some take out and visit with my sister at work.  I posted on facebook, "Today was a good day".  When my sister got off work, we headed towards Wal-Mart to grab a turkey and other food for our thanksgiving feast.  We giggled and goofed around while shopping.  On the way home from WalMart, I received a text message from a friend stating that I was on Fox8 News, being charged with drug charges.  Supposedly a pill was found in the back seat of the Deputy's cruiser the night of my DUI, though I wasn't aware of this pill that night and it wasn't brought to my attention, over 50 days earlier.  

This news was the biggest sucker punch I had ever received.  And I felt it, like the wind was knocked out of me and my heart was ripped out.  I was brought to my knees in tears that painfully poured down my face.  Feelings of anger, disbelief, disgust, and disappointment overwhelmed me.  I was being labeled a drug addict, a heroin addict.  The pill was a pill that is taken for overcoming withdrawals from heroin.   Jesus, I didn't even take Tylenol and I always tired to fight illness holistically, often declining antibiotics.  What. the. fuck.  After a night of tears, heartache, and stomach pains I began to look into what the fuck was going on. 

After speaking with Fox8 News, I learned that news was given to them via an alleged "Press Release from the Sheriff's Department", after speaking to the Sheriff's Department and receiving correspondence between a police officer and a sheriff deputy (via their government property communication devices) it was brought to my attention that the press release didn't exist.  Fox8 apparently runs stories without verification or investigation as does The Chronicle Telegram. 

After reviewing the police report via a public record's request, I noticed that at the end of the police report from the DUI it stated, "Upon miss Flanigan requesting her cell phone, I  (Deputy Perkins) went back to the police cruiser and found a pill, a fleece pink headband, and a plastic bag."  Um,'s my issues with this.....  1. That night of the DUI, when I was told that I could go home, I asked where my cell phone was because I didn't have phone numbers memorized.  The deputy went back to his car, told the holding cell supervisors that my phone was not in the cruiser BUT NEVER ASKED ME IF THE PINK HEADBAND, PILL, AND PLASTIC BAG WERE MINE......I wasn't aware of these findings.  If I was being accused of having drugs, why didn't anyone ask me?  If I was charged with the pill why the fuck didn't the pink headband come home with me?  The video CLEARLY shows me wearing a BLUE headband and my BLUE COTTON headband came home with me in my "take home bag".  2.  I WAS SEARCHED before being cuffed and put in the cruiser, I WAS SEARCHED at the JAIL, they took my headband and my belly button ring and bracelet (all of which I got back).  3.  Why the fuck wasn't I charged then? 4. Why was I charged with drug charges over 50 days AFTER the incident???? 

Furthermore, after seeing council's cars post council meeting that night I became curious as to what exactly was being discussed.  I called Councilmen Dukles and Divenceno- both revealed village business was being discussed, Divencenzo stated that former Mayor Shari Szcepanksi informed them that I would be getting charged with drug charges and that it would be on the news that evening........HOW THE FUCK DID SHE KNOW this information?  How does the whole viewing area learn of this information before I do?  

Ironically, the Thursday before (November 21, 2013) news FINALLY (because fraud and misspending of tax payer money is not news) broke about councilman Tom Smith's bribes from the village engineer, Poggemeyer.  Ironically, this case began in spring of 2012.  At this time (spring 2012), I was threatened by councilman Tom Smith for moving forward with this investigation(Ironically he also works at the jail and worked at the jail the night of my DUI).  No charges were pressed regarding the threat, the village prosecutor (the one that I was railroaded into appointing, after being told by the Law Director (another appointment that I was railroaded into and through which the village charter was violated ) that I "had no choice but to appoint Mishak " Ironically the bribery case sat on the county prosecutor's desk for over a year and a half, the BCI investigator was perplexed as to why it was taking so long and why he couldn't get a response from the prosecutor's office. 

I've been told a variety of things with regards to reasons behind Pill-Gate from discrediting me to revenge.  Regardless of the reasons, the events that led up to and resulted in me being violated via "Pill- Gate" are incredibly disgusting, disturbing, and disappointing.  Pill- Gate is to this date the worst violation I have received.  Even 3 years later, as I write this I tremble, tears roll down my cheeks, I feel sick to my stomach, and my heart hurts. 

Justice...When we are violated in any way especially in an unlawful, unethical, immoral manner we immediately want and expect justice. Any violation, be it rape, assault, character defamation, betrayal, abandonment, abuse, and the like, creates anger, (rage) hurt, disappointment, emotional pain, all of the overwhelming feelings that come with being violated. Most desirably we desperately feel the need for justice. Everyone wants to see good prevail over evil and to see an...d have justice for all, as it should be. Realistically it doesn't always happen.... I've been thinking of justice and the lack thereof a lot, quite obsessively. I've been observing others ( those I admire after learning of their stories and watching them not only move on but become better people as well as heroes in my eyes ) who haven't yet received true justice but still perservere and illustrate bonafide resiliency. I finally had an "ah ha" moment after these observations of true role models . I've realized and learned a lot about my own experiences and violations. I continue to wait for justice on some and with others I know justice will never happen. Sometimes justice in a court of law doesn't happen immediately if at all. I have realized, WE CAN FIND AND CREATE OUR OWN JUSTICE. We can believe in, trust, wait for karma and have faith that everything will work out. In addition, we can create our own personal justice through telling our story in hopes to bring awareness to the injustice, to have our voice heard, and to inspire and educate others. First and foremost, the BEST JUSTICE we can get, that we have complete control over and can happen as soon as WE decide and allow it to happen, is overcoming the violation and growing personally from it, learning from it, and ultimately becoming stronger and better in spite of the violation and the lack of justice. When there is no "real" or tangible justice immediately or never, we can either choose to suffocate ourselves with regret, pity, hate, spite, and bitterness or we can rise up and choose how we react moving forward and we can choose how we will move forward. We can achieve personal growth and become better and stronger than we were before the violation and we can choose to help, inspire, and educate others during our "personal justice process" or afterwards. We can create our own justice from within through our body, mind, and soul. We can empower ourselves and we can empower others.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

The summer of 2016 was one of the fastest summers.  I was a zombie for the most part; but, I started to move forward.  I moved forward like a turtle in slow motion but I moved forward.  Once I had my "enough is enough" moment I began the journey back to my health and wellness (again).  July and August I did great.  I was getting in my "FitBit" steps and calories burned goals, I was walking, spinning 3-4 days a week, and practicing yoga 3 days a week.  I mostly went through the motions, forcing myself out of bed following an alarm clock trail that led to the coffee maker, and I just did it.  My main goal was to get moving daily.  Then August 9th I sprained my ankle (again).  For the 3rd time in 4 years I sprained the same ankle, the same way, around the same time (walking.....on the sidewalk).  I limped the mile home with blood running from my knee, tears flowing from my eyes, and prayers that no one would cross my path because I was overwhelmed with anger. With my previous sprains I was stubborn and I refused pain relievers, rest, and I forged ahead 100% holistically and it took a while to heal and move again.   

This time around I did everything I could to insure a speedy recovery.  I came home and loaded on the ice, elevated my ankle, called the pharmacist and asked which was best between Aleve and Ibuprofen, popped the recommended Aleve and recorded the time so that I stayed on schedule, popped my turmeric, drank my tart cherry juice, and began a guided meditation specifically for healing.  I then did some research on some products I am familiar with in my training.  One such product, Frog Fuel from Frog Performance , came to mind.  I was using this as a protein supplement after "more strenuous" workouts.  After talking to the company it was recommend I take 1 packet 3 times a day and so I did....immediately and religiously.  I was back on the spin bike on the 11th and recovered faster than I had ever recovered from a sprained ankle.  I remember going to the studio with my obvious ankle brace on and a friend asked what happened.  I explained the non eventful/ not fun walk on the sidewalk that led to my almost fall back into not moving at all.  She stated that it must be a sign that I was "over-doing it and need to slow down". I thought to myself (and surely I gave my head titled to the right, raised upper left side of my lip expression...... aka my "perplexed look" aka my "WTF" look) "slow down?! I thought..... I can't go any slower!!!".  I attended yoga after that spin session and I had an ankle sprain epiphany.  What if this means that I'm going in the right direction, that I'm healing, and that I CAN handle shit happening?!  I thought, "Yes.... I AM stronger" and I visibly smiled in my wobbly tree pose.  And so I carried on through August....but wait..... there's more......I was knocked on my ass again, literally this time, towards the end of August due to my health. 

I was learned that I had a reason for all of the alignments and struggles that haunted me post politics and I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue.  When my doctor said I needed to watch my diet, he really meant it.  Caffeine, carbs, alcohol, sugar (all the good stuff) are counter-productive with Adrenal Fatigue (and health in general ;) ).   I quit all of those things immediately, started taking a "tonic" from my holistic doctor, and began healing......again.  Alas, I was able to squeeze in 2 SUP (stand up paddle board sessions). I LOVE water!

September flew in and my niece was born!  She is an amazing ray of light.  I remember feeling more balanced and more grounded when she was born.  I felt like everything is as it should be and everything will be ok.  It was a great feeling.  I also reached the half way point of my Integrative Nutrition Health Coach certification.  I'm super excited to help others reach their health, wellness, and happiness goals in life! I've been learning about holistic health and wellness for a few years and I am thankful that I was able to enroll in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  More on that later....a bit more happened in September..... An American Hero came to Lorain County!   

I was able to get Kris "Tanto" Paronto from "13 Hours in Benghazi" to come speak on September 22 at Lorain County Stocker Arts Center.  Wow.   He is an AMAZING man and I have so much to say but am still overwhelmed with the experience.  It was incredibly healing, inspiring, and humbling to meet and talk to Kris.   It was a pivotal point in my life at exactly the right moment.  (stay tuned for my "Male Role Model" blog post for more details!)

Fall came in furiously and I was bummed that summer was over but happy for the experiences.  I knew that this year would be a "recovery from politics"  year, I wished for a quicker recovery but I am pleased with my progress (However this election is really testing my patience and my sanity, and obviously my faith in government and the political process). 

I was able to go to a Notre Dame game with my parents.  The last time I was at a home ND game was in 2010 (I'm blessed to have been able to go to the 2 bowl games but nothing beats a game at The University of Notre Dame!).  We had a blast and they didn't win; but , it was great hanging out with my makers and participating in traditions such as Rocco's Pizza, Bloody Mary's at the Morris Inn, the best tailgating in tailgating, and prayers at The Grotto.

With the end of October approaching my mom and I went to the Holden Arboretum for the first time.  I LOVE nature and I'm terrified of heights but I LOVE facing fears.  We (along with everyone else that Sunday) checked out the canopy walk and the fire tower.  We had a great time and the scenery was breath taking. 

As I said in the beginning of this year, 2016 is the year for the 216! The Indians made it to the World Series!  We were fortunate to have tickets for game 1, the same night the CAVS started their season and received their CHAMPIONSHIP ring!  The CLE was electric (and I didn't have anything to eat).  
Winter IS coming (and of course it's supposed to be a "bad" one); but,  I have definitive goals, visions, and awesome things to work on as I finish up 2016 and get ready to rock out 2017!  

There will be a few changes and some new and exciting things coming from me so check back often, Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower and..... stay tuned.....the BEST is coming.   


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Did you know that 3 years is 1,095 days ? Did you know that a few bad people in a profession do not represent the entire profession?

Related blog posts
 907 days later 
I will not drink and drive.....because I said I would 

Oh September 28, sigh. This date ("anniversary")  bothered me more last night and today than the last 2 years for whatever reason. No one can beat me up like I do, I'm my toughest critic. Minion defined: a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one..... I don't like the glorification of minions, I think it's absurd. I realize it's a cute kids movie and the minions are "totes" "adorbs" but being a minion isn't a good thing. Just my opinion. Maybe 3 years ago and stupid o'clock I saw a minion and ran it over "lol".  "To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it" -Charlie Chaplin. "If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane"- Robert Frost. "Don't be a minion and don't drink and drive" -Me

Three yeas ago, (1,095 days) I made a personal bad decision.  1,095 days ago I learned that I was the only human to make a mistake (how I felt). 1,095 days ago I learned that the media cared more about a personal mistake than government corruption and that my personal mistake "story" needed to immediately be brought to the attention of all of Northern Ohio, and almost nationally.   (Interesting how the word of my mistake traveled so quickly, almost immediately after...when it usually takes days for the media to learn these things). Oh, the media had a field day and the keyboard warriors commenting on social media had fun too.

1,095 days ago I learned how it felt to be judged, threatened, and destroyed on social media and local news sites across Northern Ohio.  Hey, I made the mistake and I was in the public eye so I can't complain.  1,095 days later I still own my mistake AS I DID from day one and have not and will not ever put myself in that position again......never.

As if the media didn't have enough to focus on, an officer (one of the participating officers involved with  "pill gate") released a police report to the media  (not sure that's even legal).  It was from Christmas of  2009.  It was a domestic violence call that would finally end a 3 year abusive relationship, something that took me a while to get over and affects me still to this day.  It took a lot to get away from this person and having someone trying to get this out to the media, 7 years later was pathetic, desperate, and cowardly. Christmas 2010 I didn't press charges; but, the officer that followed up with that call, 7 years ago, was instrumental in helping me see that it was a bad relationship and that I didn't deserve what had happened. This officer's comments and compassion opened my eyes and I will be forever thankful for him.  It was a wake up call for me and I finally ended that horrible 3 year long abusive relationship, much thanks to that officer. 

Alas, 59 days following September 28, 2013 (1,037 days ago), I learned that I provided the perfect opportunity for a corrupt few to wrongfully, unethically, and illegally assassinate my character, attempt to discredit me, to get me to "shut up", to set me up for "my accidental death" down the road (as I was warned), and to deflect from corruption that I discovered.    1,095 days later I know the who, what, where, and how of what happened 1,037 days ago, "pill gate" is solved.  I respected all responding officers 1,095 days ago and blame NO ONE but me, it was MY choice, MY mistake. 

"Pill gate", in addition to the domestic violence police report leak to the media illustrates that there are corrupt police,  BUT it is only a SMALL percentage and that small percentage does NOT represent the entire population of that profession.     It's not only just a very small percentage of police that are corrupt but EVERY profession that holds "power" is at greater risk of corruption and bad intentions including doctors, nurses, priests, lawyers, politicians ( I must say that the percentage of corruption among politicians is probably higher), the media (I have yet to see any ethical, informative, factual, unbiased local news sources), scientists, CEO's, and the like. Furthermore, all professions have a small percentage within their population that are corrupt, of ill intent, abuse power, and so forth.  It drives me insane when I see people judge an entire group of people based off of the bad actions of a few and regardless of the handful of "bad apples" that I encountered, I support law enforcement, because I know that small group of minions does not represent all. 

1,095 days later I'm learning to forgive myself for this mistake/ bad decision.  I am incredibly thankful that no one was hurt and I will never do that again...never.  You could not pay me to take just a sip of alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car,  key in ignition or not.  1,095 days later I'm still a bit mad for putting myself in that situation because of what happened 59 days after, however, I learned a lot, it will never be repeated,  and I'm not the only human to make a mistake.  Regardless of my mistake/bad decision, it does NOT make what those who orchestrated "pill gate" 1,037 days ago right, it doesn't justify anything, it doesn't let them off the hook, and even more so that is not my fault.  Regardless of what a handful of people in one profession did/ do, I do not and will not judge the entire population of that profession.  I support our officers that bravely risk their lives 24/7 and I am thankful for their service. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Favorite Month is Over....July-ing?!?!

My favorite month is over, July-ing!?!? Get it?  ("you- lying?!")  Ha!

My favorite month is over which means my favorite season is almost over.  July started out fast, and it went by even faster.  I was dreading turning "35" and frustrated with many things out of balance in my life.  I started receiving "Parents" magazine in the mail....really?  I'm 35 and still single, can we focus on finding a decent man to date first?  And, who the heck pays for this?  

On my birthday I literally ended up having "enough" and really started focusing on my health and wellness journey; but, that will be another blog post.   My birthday was quiet.  I spent the evening at Touche in Vermilion eating dinner and drinking cocktails with my makers (aka my parents, aka my friends).  We sat outside by the lake, as I love my water as well as patio time whenever the weather is not cold.     (I recommend reading Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols, it is a great non- fiction book explaining the amazing positive effects of water). 

Sunday the family attended The Phantom of The Opera.   I first saw the musical in the late 80's when Colm Wilkinson was The Phantom (my favorite Phantom actor), and I fell in love with the musical. I've seen it many times since, I've dressed up as The Phantom for Halloween way back in the day, still have the cassette tape, and learned to play the music on the piano back in the day when I took piano lessons. It's still my favorite musical. Though there were some changes it didn't disappoint and it brought back great memories.

Monday I enjoyed time with my little sister, my "twin 10 years and 8 days apart".   We grabbed an early dinner at Crocker Park and did some shopping, we were both exhausted but it was a lovely time hanging out with my sister and having girl talk- sister talk.   I love her wild spirit! 

Wednesday July 13th I attended another year of "Best of Lorain County" and supported my mother's restaurant, The Unicorn Restaurant and Pub, as they were again nominated for several categories.  Plus, my friend Janet came back from Florida for a quick visit so it was great to see her as well.  
The following day I attended the "Soft Opening" of  my parents NEW venture/ investment,  Foundry Kitchen & Bar   (See article here: New Restaurant Opens) .  

The following Wednesday I went out to dinner with my parents, we were hoping to see some RNC action and were curious of the activities but we stayed outside the "perimeter" and ended up at Johnny's on Fulton Rd.   We sat on the patio (which is detached from the inside restaurant).  I had to use the restroom so I walked outside and then inside where right away I recognized American Hero, Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell.   I was shocked and didn't know what to do, I hurriedly used the restroom, and quickly returned to my parents. I got choked up as I told them, Marcus Luttrell is inside!  (repeat a million a times).   I don't like to bother "celebrities/ those in the public eye" because I understand the value of being able to go somewhere and have a peaceful evening without someone interrupting,  Alas, he is a hero and male role model and I had to meet him. (I'll explain the importance of male role models and the current lack of male role models in today's society in another post).  We went inside for a "night cap"and I walked up to his table, tapped him on the shoulder and basically said "Thank you" a million times, shook his hand, and I was able to get a picture with him.  Pardon my facial expression, I was literally trying not to burst into tears,  I take the sacrifice, dedication, and courage of our veterans very seriously and with the deepest and most sincere gratitude.  I also met Governor Rick Perry, another admirable man.  I shook his hand and said, "Thank you Governor".   

 Speaking of American Heroes, this month I was also able to initiate, secure,  and begin coordinating an event here in Lorain County with an American Hero .......details coming soon! 

The month ended with my maternal family reunion.   This was bittersweet as I haven't been back since 2013 when my Grandma passed away and I have been distant since my Grandpa (the only person that understood me) passed away in 2003.   My maternal grandparents meant the world to me and I've missed them painfully, especially during the tumultuous times as of late.  I'm so glad I attended, it was great to see everyone, great to see the farm, his tractors, and great to be back to an area that provided so many great memories. 

 It's hard to believe that July is over.  I hope you all enjoy the last few weeks of summer....  Winter is Coming!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MEDITATION...Why you should and How you can!

How meditation is even more Important.....
Top 10 reasons to meditate

There are many articles giving evidence on why mediation is important and all of the benefits it has to offer.  The above links are 2 of those articles. 

     Meditation is typically done sitting with a straight back with legs crossed. Your hips should be higher than your legs.  It can also be done on a chair or against a wall (if your back needs support).   It can be done anytime and anywhere.  A park, at work, a friend's house....anywhere!  The goal is to quiet your mind, even if you are surrounded by noise and distractions. 

     I have a small area set up with cushions to sit on and a blanket in front for support.  "My place" is also where I practice my yoga.  The cushions are set up at the top of the mat.   My meditation area includes a few other things but that is not necessary. For example, before I begin I read an excerpt from a book , I really enjoy Meditations of John Muir by Chris Highland,  then I start the timer and begin my practice.  When the time is up, I close with a short saying or some wise words from a variety of sources, currently I use Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior card set.  The card set includes "53 Principles for Living Life with Fearlessness and Gentleness".  I also enjoy the various card sets from Wayne Dwyer and Loiuse Hay.  The front of the card has an intention and the back of the card elaborates on that intention with words of wisdom.   Sometimes I light a candle or some incense before beginning. 
     Meditation can be done for any amount of time.  I have a kitchen timer and I have a dedicated place in my house, with rituals as I explained above; but, those things are not needed. As far as length of time,  I have meditated for as long as 30 mins.  I started out with just 5 minutes, then after a few weeks, 10 minutes, and so forth.   Using a timer timer for the desired time is helpful so that you are not checking your watch, interrupting your meditation.  Most phones have timers!   The goal is to be present and feel your breath, your body, your "world" and to not be thinking about what you did or what you should do. However, these things will pop into your head from time to time or you will hear something that distracts you and that is ok and normal.  When this happens, acknowledge it and continue into your meditation.
There are a few different types of meditation:

1.       Mantra Meditation.  This type involves saying a mantra over and over, sometimes with the help of a Mala Bead (kinda of like a rosary but just beads, usually 108).   In this type of mediation you repeat a short mantra over and over.  It’s usually something that you want to feel, do, be, etc....and you say it in the present tense.  For example, “ I am strong, I feel great”, “I am where I need to be, everything is working out as it should”.  It should be something short so that you can remember it.  I often use these mantras while racing or when negative thoughts arise.  “ I feel strong, I feel great” I will repeat on a run when I’m starting to feel sluggish or when negative thoughts start to come in .   But it can also be said during a mediation, using mala beads, or just sitting for a period of time. I'll expand on the power of mantras in another post.

2.       Mindfulness mediation includes sitting for a period of time and being present.  It’s basically sitting and focusing on breath, feeling the breathe as it comes in and goes out.  During this time you focus on the here and now.  Feel the breathe come in through your nose down your trachea and out and acknowledge other sensations in your body, like your stomach rising and falling, your body touching the ground, etc.

3.       Walking mediation involves the above but paying attention to your movements, your feet touching the ground, the birds chirping, the crispness of the air and so forth.
The point of mediation is to be present, to not think of past and future, what to do, what not to do and all of those other things that pop in our mind daily.  Remember when a thought like that arises, acknowledge it and get back on track.

 4.      Active meditation (like walking meditation but more intense) is something I discovered while taking a spinning class at a specific studio with teachers who "got this".   We would spin to the beat of our music the entire time, focusing on the rhythmic beat from the music and also focusing on our breath.  We were so present to the beat and our bodies and breath that it was like a meditation. I have found this active mediation personally in swimming, trail running (running in the woods- with NO headphones), YOGA, and SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding).  When I am doing these actions, I am living in the moment, focusing on each step as a run,  the nature sounds around me, I am "paying attention" to the here and now.  I'm kind of forced to be present so that I don't trip over a rut or run into a tree.  It is the same with yoga.  In yoga we are moving into poses but we practice to focus on our breath, breathing is the basis of yoga, not thinking what we had for lunch or "do you these yoga pants mack my butt look good".  Again, the same is true (for me) with swimming and SUP.  Others would also mountain biking, hiking, volleyball, etc.  There are many studies, info, articles out there that acknowledge this "Active Meditation".  There many organizations for PTSD treatment that utilize these active meditation activities/ sports as part of the healing process.  Surfing is a popular sport for mindfulness and there is a veteran organization that takes veterans to Hawaii to surf to help recover from PTSD.   Here is an excerpt from an article regarding healing PTSD via surfing. 
“The physical exertion and intense focus required to surf often produces flow states, which flood the brain with neurochemicals like anandamide and serotonin, the same substances found in antidepressants. In addition, it’s believed that when people are submerged in water, their bodies alter the balance of epinephrine and dopamine to the levels achieved during meditation.” from the article
"Why Surfing Soothes PTSD" (click here for link to article ) .  This applies to anything that requires that "physical exertion and intense focus".  
Try doing a vigorous physical activity without headphones and that requires your present attention.  It feels amazing afterwards. 

    As a child from very early on I learned to "day-dream" to avoid uncomfortable situations, during classes, in the car for long trips, etc. and this "UN-present" practice continued through adulthood.   My mind was trained to "wander off" and to not be present. I didn't grasp the concept of being present until I started spinning with teachers that focused on the beat of the music ( I didn't know what it was then but I liked it)  I then began practicing yoga and taking private lessons.  (All around 2010, I believe)  It wasn't until I started working one on one with a yoga teacher, Jen, that I began to truly understand being present, mindfulness, and breathing through yoga poses rather than escaping off to "day-dream" land or thinking whatever thoughts that popped into my head like "when can I get out of this pose".  I had an amazing yoga teacher that really helped open my mind to this "mindfulness" stuff.    I practiced with her for several years and learned so much. 

Meditation is the opposite of daydreaming, it’s being fully present.  It doesn’t matter where you do it or for how long.  I started with just 5 minutes.  You can start with 3 minutes and build from there.  Start small, practice, and notice the positive changes that start occurring! 

There are so many great books on yoga and meditation, and the importance of being present.   Here are a few excellent beginner books:

The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen 
The Yimas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele
How Yoga Works by Gesne Michael Roach
The Peaceful Warrior Series (3 books) all by Dan Millman---- AMAZING!

PLEASE feel free to email me questions.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” - Lao Tzu