The Signs I Ignored

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“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

Marilyn Monroe

Hi Moms are always tired…right? I became a mom before I turned 20 and by 40 I had 4 kids with a grandbaby on the way. Many of my symptoms I attributed to motherhood, being a wife and working full time. I also have 2 types of anemia so I figured it must be a result of that, or stress from going through my divorce in my early twenties and subsequent custody battle that was on/off for years. I made excuse after excuse instead of paying attention to what had been building over all this time.

Flag 1 – Why can’t I stay asleep?

The insomnia started in my twenties, the baby was sleeping in way past my wake up time.  I would take advantage of the fact that I was an earlier bird to drink my coffee in the morning quiet, read magazines or start to tackle my to-do list for the day.  I never complained about the fact that I was getting fewer and fewer hours of sleep as the years went by. I could fall asleep with no problems (probably because I was so exhausted from my day) however I was starting to wake up between 3:00 am and 5:00 am more consistently.

Flag 2 – Why do I wake up with a headache?

The next flag should have been the headaches….I would wake up in the morning and my head would be throbbing, a dull ache in the base of my skull or in between my eyes.  I must be dehydrated, need my caffeine fix, slept wrong or maybe a migraine would be on the horizon due to the barometric pressure. Sometimes it would pass after a few hours but the frequency was definitely increasing.

Flag 3 – Why can’t I remember anything?

I know that stress, lack of sleep and poor eating habits can lead to memory issues but I have also have pernicious anemia which causes brain fog if my vitamin B12 levels get too low.  I have monthly injections to maintain the proper level and grew accustomed to a few days of memory issues when I was due for a shot. What began to happen was that the fog never lifted.  I tried diet plans, increasing my B12 dose, sleeping pills and even sought help from my acupuncturist.

The Verdict 

The truth of what was happening didn’t come together for me until 2019.  I was diagnosed with seasonal depression and started daily light therapy with a Happy Light.  My brain was loving it and so was I because after each light session I would feel more awake and energized.  I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time, my memory has improved and I was sleeping 6 hours straight at night.  I was relieved that I didn’t need to take medication but then the New Year hit….

In the first 3 months of 2019, I had several family members that had health crises which lead me to have an overload of stress and put my anxiety into high gear. I was worried about everyone and everything – ALL THE TIME. I was terrified of what could happen next. My positive personality was sliding into darkness and all my usual tools were failing me.

For weeks the insomnia escalated until I did not sleep for more than 2 hours straight for weeks.  I was lucky if I slept for a total of 3-4 hours a night. I began to get the shakes, tremor in my hands and was experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and hide from the world.  I would struggle through the day, try to put on a smile and be there for my family.

When I sought out professional help the message was clear: Stop, Sleep, Eat, Fill your cup.  I had to hear the words Adjustment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Depression from my Doctor. It wasn’t an easy moment to absorb.  I needed some medicine to help balance out my serotonin – after a few weeks and playing with the timing of the dose – I started to feel like me again. 

This blog is part of my therapy, I do it to stay accountable and to help others who struggle with Mental Illness. I am here to bring awareness on mental health topics and to share what I’m learning in relation to self care.


If you have at least four of these symptoms on a pretty much  daily basis for more than a month, please talk to someone you trust and seek medical intervention. 

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day or people asking if you are OK.
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in activities always enjoyed
  • Increased headaches
  • Eating too much or too little (unintended weight gain or loss)
  • Change in sleep (more or less than usual)
  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive worry or inappropriate guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Keep in mind that besides headache, other body complaints you can experience with depression are:

  • Pain (neck, back, abdominal)
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Overall body weakness

I want everyone to know that they are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help. I’d love to connect on social media and hear your story.  We can learn a lot from each other by sharing our experience and squashing the stigma that exists on mental health challenges.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha


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3 Ways to Quiet your Mind

“A quiet mind is able to hear intuition over fear.”

Yvan Byeajee
Find time to quiet your mind.

Nowadays, we are so overscheduled and our days are so packed full of activities that we barely have enough time to sleep. Consider yourself the exception and not the norm, if you have accomplished a sense of balance in this hectic society that we all share. For many reasons, we overextend, overachieve and overstress ourselves to the point of breaking. Taking on too much can not only hurt our body but also stresses the mind. 

I realized my mind was hurting in the Fall of 2018.  It started slowly, headaches and insomnia crept into my life, I had aches and pains in my neck and shoulders and I was super jumpy.  I would overreact to regular everyday noises – the phone ringing, a door squeaking, even someone clapping their hands or laughing – would send me into a fight or flight response. I was overtired, unable to focus and my memory was failing.  For several weeks I made excuses for what was happening, I thought that if I could just get a good night’s sleep or make it to the weekend, my symptoms would disappear. It didn’t happen of course and what started out as seasonal depression evolved into a serious anxiety disorder that I could no longer deny.

I’m sharing these simple changes that can really have a positive impact on your mind and reducing the stress you encounter on a daily basis.

Its up to you!

Practicing Gratitude

It’s so easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way. From the moment we spill our coffee, lock the keys in the car, and forget our lunch on the kitchen counter, a spiral of negativity results in a downward tailspin. However, we have the choice to stay in a state of discontent and let that dictate the rest of our day, or we can be grateful for the other things in our lives that have gone as planned.

Have you ever noticed that when something great happens, we tend to smile briefly and then move onto the next moment like nothing happened?  However, when something goes wrong, we feel the need to tell everyone and anyone that will listen how bad things are. It’s in those exact moments of unhappiness that we need to focus on what we are grateful for, and it is then and only then that we will pull ourselves out of the negative zone. 

Staying focused on gratitude offers your mind something to smile about, regardless of what’s happening around you. Focusing on people, places, and even things that make you grateful, enables your mind the break it needs from stressors to stay active and healthy.

Nothing is a Choice

Everyone has a busy schedule; that is a known fact. We all have created our schedules to overflow and then complain that we do not have time for ourselves to rest, recharge and reflect on the day. Take a good look at your day or week so you can see what you can remove and what you can delegate to someone else. If you are going to have a healthy mind, you need to take care of it just like you care for your body. You need your mond, body and spirit to align in order to live your best life.

The best tip I can give you for quieting your mind is prioritize self care in schedule. Put it in big red pen on your calendar, text yourself a reminder, and place it on your list of things to do during the week. Make time for family and friends, a visit to the spa for a mani/pedi or massage and partake in activities you enjoy.  Take some deep breaths, find a calm place to meditate and be thankful for the blessings that occur all around you throughout the day.

Taking One Minute

Being in the moment has become a cliché; but if you really take the time and trouble to learn what that truly means for you, then you will learn how to quiet your mind in no time at all. Focus on what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it. 

In this way, you are focused on the moment at hand and not two days from now when something big might be happening. These are just three helpful tips for quieting your mind.

A great app to get you started is called One Moment Meditation.  You can download it from the Apple or Google Play

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

The 24-Hour Mental Health Vacation

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“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

I know the positive benefits that a night away has on my mental health.  No hubby, no kids, no pets, and a bed all to myself equals a good night’s sleep. Most importantly, the one or two nights of freedom without any responsibility enables me to focus on selfcare without any interruptions.  I am able to fill my cup and recharge.

Here are 4 vacation suggestions that will help you feel refreshed and restored.

  1. The Zen Seeker
  2. The Creative
  3. The Outdoor Enthusiast
  4. The Lover

The Zen Seeker

This 24-hour vacay is the most challenging of the four.  It takes a lot of commitment on your part but will be the most revealing.

  • Disconnection
    • Technology break for 24 hours (no TV, Radio, computer or phone)
    • Book a manicure or pedicure – or both!! (yes, guys can do this too, you can thank me later!)
    • Call the local yoga studio and sign up for a free trial – take you first yoga class
    • Go out for dinner and/or brunch with your friends
  • Movie Madness
    • Watch 3-4 movies in a row that you have on your wishlist
    • You can do this escape with the hubby or a group of friends
    • Pick a theme is you want – romance, horror, comedy, favorite actor/actress director.
    • Do not answer the front door until the take out guy arrives – this is the only exception…
    • Take note of what you enjoyed about the movie or have a discussion if you are doing the activity with others.
  • Ladies of Leisure
    • Get a bunch of you girlfriends together and hunker down at someones house or rent an air B&B for the weekend.
    • Your goal is to do some or all of the following:
      • Stay up late talking, reminiscing and joking around
      • Eat your favorite candy
      • Sleep in
      • Shop til you drop
      • Enjoy great food – Plan a menu or pot luck that everyone can contribute to
      • Connect with your tribe!
  • Bookworm
    • Grab a book you’ve been wanting to read – read it without interruption from cover to cover.
    • Find a great place to read – the park, a local garden, poolside or cozied up with your favorite blanket.
    • If you want a connection and ability to discuss the books you are reading, check out online book clubs or set one up with your book loving friends or coworkers!

The Creative

  • Dancer, Dance, Dance
    • If you don’t like a late night but still love dancing with the girls, then invite your besties over and get dressed, do hair and makeup and much on some great appetizers with a glass of your favorite cocktail.  If you prefer a mocktail – try this one (LINK)
    • Hit your favorite club and dance until your tootsies hurt
    • Sleep in the next morning and spend the day in your PJs recuperating.
  • Beautiful Artiste
    • Visit a local gallery, take time with each painting and absorb the creativity required for each piece of art.
    • On you way home, visit an art supply store and choose an inspiration project to paint, sculpt or draw
    • If you have kids, then include them in the art project and display everyone’s work at the end of the day.
  • The Foodie
    • Sign up for a cooking course and learn some new culinary skills.
    • Explore the local outdoor market and treat yourself to a new ingredient, fruit or delicacy.
    • If you prefer to consume more than create, enjoy Breakfast, lunch and dinner in a new city.  Do you research, read some foodie reviews and let your appetite me your guide.

The Adventure Seeker

  • Explore your own city
    • Visit your own backyard with fresh eyes – Make a list of places or activities that you have not visited in the city where you live.
    • Attend local events or festivals
    • Visit the museum, aquarium or walk the canal
  • Learn something new
    • Whether its a single day course or over a few weeks explore:
      • Skydiving
      • Water Skiing
      • Glass-Blowing
      • Pottery
      • Horseback riding
      • Rock climbing
    • Immerse yourself in the pursuit of your new skills as you made need a change more than some extra rest.
  • Into the wilderness
    • Grab a tent, sleeping bag and enough food for 24 hours and find the nearest campground to explore. (if you are not a camper, many locations have cottages or teepees you can rent)
    • If you forget to pack something, no worries, you can do without for 1 day!
    • Hike during the day, float in the lake, cook over the fire and soak up the stars in the nighttime sky.
    • Breathe in the fresh air and nature sounds.

Share your favorite mini vacation spot or getaway idea in the comments below and inspire the Tribe.

Share a pic to Instagram at #violetbuddhatribe

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

The Power of Breath

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“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Anxiety and panic can arise at the most inconvenient and unconventional times.  I have found myself on many occasions in the midst of an attack when I am all by myself, with no apparent trigger or intrusive thoughts but for some reason my body reacts.

It took some time and several entries in my journal marking down the environment, what I had been doing or thinking prior to the attack and compiling my symptoms to come to the realization that I had a warning sign every single time – my breath.

As I start to feel overwhelmed by thoughts or feelings, the first thing that changes in my body the speed and depth of my breath.  My breathing starts to become quick, shallow and uneven. My nervous system goes into overdrive and with each breath I escalate my fight or flight response from my nervous system. I needed an antidote that was quick, easy and available at all times – the key was breath.

Calming Mind and Breath

Learning to be conscious of my breath through bost meditation and my yoga practice has been particularly beneficial to my anxiety disorder. Having the instinct to breathe slowly and evenly through my nose while engaging my diaphragm has improved my posture, lowered my blood pressure and significantly decreased my stress related pain points.

Whether you are trying to improve your health, or seeking a bit of zen, pausing several times a day to breathe deeply promoted relaxation, concentration and improve mental clarity.  Another positive result that I have noticed is when I do my deep breathing throughout the day and then about 30 minutes before bed, I have much improved sleep. As someone who has struggled with insomnia for years, this has been the most amazing side effect.

Deep Breathing Basics

Here are two easy exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees toward the ceiling and keep your feet flat on the floor.  Put a hardcover book on your abdomen (just under your belly button) and watch how the book rises and falls as you breathe deeply, slowly and evenly.
  2. Lie in your bed, with a pillow under your head and both hands resting on your stomach.  Watch you belly rise and fall with each breath. Try inhaling for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts and then exhale completely for 5 counts. Repeat this 5 times or until you feel the tension in your body release.

If you prefer a little more guidance and flexiblity to do your breathing practice at any time, then try the OMM app…..

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/one-moment-meditation/id873255555

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onemomentmeditation.omm1&hl=en

Inhale.  Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Journaling is easy as 1, 2, 3!

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”

Mina Murray

Ready, Set – Journal!

So I started small.  I found a great lined notebook with a purple cover to capture my day, a blank notebook from the Dollar Store to doodle in when I was stressed or anxious.  I was lucky to find an app – in my first search – to track my symptoms and also another one to do my daily gratitude practice.

I was reluctant to start a journal when I experienced my anxiety and panic attacks.  I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to explore the triggers or assess how I was feeling both emotionally and physically.  The thought of reviewing those more difficult days wasn’t high up on my priority list. I focused on the positive side and tried different ways of capturing my thoughts, feelings, symptoms and accomplishments.

Here are my suggestions to start journaling on paper, electronically or even both!!  There are a few things to consider in order to make the habit stick:

  1. Get a notebook that you will want to write in.  It can be your favorite color, have an inspiring quote on the cover or is unlined so you have the option to add drawings instead of just words.
  2. When a quiet moment arises that you are alone, do a quick check in:
    • How are you feeling?  Happy? Sad? Anxious? Annoyed?
    • What happened during the day that brought forward these feelings?
    • Write down your thoughts on the cause and then take 3 deep breaths to let the feeling go.
    • Close the Journal and continue on with your day, try to let go of those emotions. Consider the feelings you jotted down and you can reflect what you wrote down at the end of the day. Only do this if you feel the need because the feelings are lingering.
  3. Did you know that multiple journals can also be very helpful?  Here are some addition journal types that could inspire you:
    • The PMS Journal: Track how your cycle affects your physical, emotional or mental health.
    • The Food Journal: Track you food choices, calories or even physical reactions to certain foods.  I used this type of journal during an elimination diet so that I could follow if my symptoms improved as I made different food choices in relation to dairy, wheat and eggs. This was a tremendous help for both my family doctor and allergist.
    • Gratitude Journal: This type of journal is fantastic for staying in a positive mindset and be thankful for the people that have an impact in your life. As I mentioned, I have been using the thankful app on my iPhone because it also allows me to include pictures in my entries. I am a visual person so the images trigger memories and evoke strong emotions.
    • Dream Tracker: Do you thrive off of looking into the meaning of your dreams?  Do you like interpreting the experiences and gain insight on your dream patterns.  A dream diary can definitely help you reflect and learn more about your personality.
    • Pregnancy Diary: As an adult, this was my first real attempt at journaling.  Tracking my pregnancy experiences was rewarding and has enabled me to compare each experience (I’ve had 4 pregnancies!!) to see how unique they all have been.  Another benefit is the ability to share this information with my children as they get older. In fact, my oldest daughter just had a baby and was so appreciative to be able to look at my pregnancy experience with her.
Doodle Art

Countless Benefits

There are plenty of reasons to keep an online journal or diary. The most rewarding can be in regards to your emotional health.

Mental health benefits from journaling:

  • Reduces overall stress
  • Increases happiness
  • Keeps you on track to achieve goals
  • Increases your emotional intelligence
  • Develops self-awareness
  • Improves memory
  • Allows you to emotionally heal from trauma
  • Boosts problem-solving skills
  • Gain clarity on confusing situations

I suggest that you have some kind of schedule in order to make journaling a habit and incorporate it into your lifestyle.   Journaling throughout the day helps me capture all the various emotions and experiences I encounter. I aim for upon waking up, mid day, while cooking dinner and before bed. Just a few minutes per day has improve my mindset, gratitude and appreciation for all people and things that contribute to my journey through life.

Do you Journal? How has it benefited you? I’d love for you to share YOUR experience with the Violet Buddha Tribe and help others incorporate journaling into their daily To Do list.

Hellow Sunshine Journal

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Zen Your Way to Work

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs

Getting up and going to work can be a real challenge. When you are returning to work after an extended leave or illness can be overwhelming but it doesn’t behave to be! There are small changes or additions that you can incorporate into your routine that will help keep you in a positive mindset and create a comfortable work space when you arrive at your desk.

One day at a time…

Below is a list of zen ideas to help you transition back into the office:

  1. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual – allow yourself time to press the snooze button, ease your feet to the floor and lift your head off the pillow.
  2. Take time to sip your favorite morning drink. Whether it’s a cup of hot water with lemon, a fruit smoothie or a steaming cup of coffee, let that first sip be a moment of self care for the day.
  3. Dress the part – keep the goal in mind. Of course there are days that I wear my jeans to work with a nice top but for the most part I dress like a boss. The key to incorporating some zen into your wardrobe is picking out the articles or accessories that make you feel good. Wear a comfy pair of colorful shoes, a funny pair of socks, stacks of bracelets or your favorite printed scarf. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual – allow yourself time to press the snooze button, ease your feet to the floor and lift your head off the pillow.
  4. The commute to work can be quite stressful as we need to do drop offs at school and/or daycare, make our way through traffic and various weather conditions. With a little advance planning, you can create a playlist of tunes, download some podcasts or listen to audio books to shift your focus elsewhere during the commute.
  5. Add 1-2 family pictures to your desk area along with a green plant ( or more of you have a green thumb!) occasionally bring in flowers to freshen up your desktop.
  6. Keep your work area clean. Remove piles of papers, extra office supplies. Make a point of dusting and wiping down the desktop at least once a week.
  7. Get an ergonomics assessment done to ensure you have all the office furniture and supplies you need to be comfortable, productive and efficient.
  8. Consider a happy light! If you are in an office with no natural light, a happy light for seasonal depression can be your savior. Even if you have a window office, it can be a great tool for those dark Fall and Winter days that are part of many time zones.
  9. Determine if music helps or hinders you. I have never been able to study or work In silence – I need background noise. I have a small radio at my desk to energize me with some tunes to keep me on task.
  10. The sense of smell is connected to our emotional center, so adding a scent that evokes pleasant memories can calm your nervous system. My personal favorites are fruit incense stick in grapefruit, lemon and strawberry. Peppermint, cinnamon and rosemary can help with energy and focus. If you share an office and can’t have essential oils or candles, you can make a cup of tea with these ingredients have the benefits.

I hope that some of these ideas will help you while you start your progressive return or restart your daily work routine.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha