Ed note: I am pleased to present this post from guest blogger Ms. Amanda LePore.


I have anxiety. It runs in my family, so I should have expected it (thanks a lot, genes!). Growing up, I felt that I wasn’t completely “normal.” (insert all the jokes about me being an “awkward weirdo” here) I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood with a loving family, great friends, etc., but I noticed that I would act a bit differently than my friends. I was a “goody-two-shoes,” but to the point where I would cry and it would be a huge deal when someone was mad at me or I got in trouble. In hindsight, I had a lot of guilt over things that now I realize weren’t that big of a deal. One memory  is from 2nd grade when I told my friend that a lunch lady was fat and having that friend go and tattle on me… then I needing help getting my shoes tied and the only person available was the one I had insulted. I felt like such an awful person (this was one of the things I confessed at my first Holy Communion……

Read more: coping with anxiety; a personal story

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The intensely heated political season in the US is leading people to unfollow others from their social media sites. It’s not just strangers they are unfollowing, either. I know of friends of mine who are unfollowing long-term friends, and, in one case, unfollowed a family member due to the political postings and comments they make on social media. Social media allows for a sense of anonymity, or, at least, a physical distance from the person with whom you are communicating, allowing people to feel more open and safe to engage in interactions which eventually lead others to unfollow them.

But what about in “real” life, as opposed to social media? There are people with whom we interact, whether it be at work, school, social circles, or even family members, whom we need to “unfollow” for our own mental well being. In a Forbes article (10 Toxic People You Should Avoid At All Costs) author Travis Bradberry writes: “Recent research from Friedrich Schiller University in Germany shows just how serious toxic people are. They found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive…

Read more: 5 tips for knowing when to unfollow someone

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"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms...to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." - Viktor Frankl

I’m writing this article while sitting at home on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, this summer holiday is being rained out in my part of the world. The cool temps, clouds, and rain make today feel more like autumn than mid-summer.  So, while sitting here, I am thinking about freedom and how freedom applies to my life and not just a country. Do I have freedom? Am I truly free? Yes, we all have the potential to be free! Let’s find out how.

Have you ever thought of how minuscule our place is in the universe? I do. Try it now for a moment. In reference to the vastness of the millions of galaxies, and the large size of our planet, focusing now on my exact location, where do I really fit in? Am I just a cog in the gears of the universe, or do I have freedom?

A few weeks ago I attended a symposium focused on the current heroin epidemic in the US. The conference room was filled with…

Read more: Rest Stop (Fri) ... freedom & hope is possible: here's how

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Today the United States celebrates its Independence day, a day we recall freedom from oppression. On this day we also remember all those who struggled, and those who have died, allowing us to live in freedom.

As I reflect on today, my thoughts wander to the meaning of freedom. When I think of freedom as the opposite of oppression, I not only think of physical oppression, but also of emotional and cognitive oppression. How often do we self-impose oppression through our thoughts and feelings?

On this day of independence, let's reflect on the following quote from Viktor Frankl. In his statement he reminds us of the meaning of true freedom.

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms...to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."

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Read more: Rest Stop (Independence Day) ... Freedom

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Based on my experience, there are two main reasons we have trouble sleeping: either because you are excited about something upcoming, or you are anxious about something upcoming. I can still vividly remember that night before we as a family were leaving for Washington, DC for the first time. I was a child then, and the thought of travelling all the way to where the president lives was almost overwhelming for me. I tossed and turned in bed; walked around my room, looked out my window into the dark, and before I knew it, I looked out my window to see the sun rising above the horizon. I finally fell asleep in the car during the over 8 hour drive to DC.

Personally, I suffered for many years on Sunday nights trying to get some sleep. I dreaded Sunday nights because as soon as I would lie down in bed for the night the worries and stress of the upcoming week flooded into my thoughts. I had not yet found the peace of living mindfully, and so I allowed the thoughts of the future to take over, believing the worst of what could happen come Monday morning at work. Note…

Read more: Rest Stop (Tues) ... Tips for sleeping soundly

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