Lessons Learned from Child Loss & Grief

This day, one year ago, life changed forever. With no prior warnings or symptoms, my daughter’s heart suddenly stopped beating. She would spend the last six days of her life on this earth in a coma before passing in our arms on the 14th. This week will always be a haunting reminder of what seemed like an eternal hell.

I’m still trying to even process this senseless loss. There are so many people young and old that have been impacted by this deep trauma. How could this bright light go out without warning? There are still so many unanswered questions and confusion regarding this senseless loss. Despite this, here are some things I’ve learned within the last 365 days:

💔 The world never stops or slows down, not even for a second. Even when time no longer even makes sense.

💔 The pain associated with grief does not get easier with time (at least it hasn’t yet).

💔 The adjustment to this new reality seems impossible somedays.

💔 Every moment of day to day impatience or aggravation from the past is amplified into a debilitating guilt that is sometimes impossible to shake.

💔 You can feel so lost when the biggest part of you (your loved one) is suddenly missing from this existence.

💔 You learn who’s really there for you in life once the initial shock passes and people stop checking in.

💔 This life here is so incredibly short.

Despite the painful, here are some positive things I’ve learned this year as well:

💜 Life is incredibly precious and should not be taken for granted even for a moment. Truly treat every day (and everyone) like it could be your last. Aim to lead with love at all times. You learn to be more present and live within the moment.

💜 Always be grateful for what you once had and have in this moment. There are always good things to focus on, even when things seem so dark and impossible.

💜 There is so much beauty within the human spirit, although sometimes drowned out by the day to day struggles of this existence.

💜 There is much more to life than this temporary human experience. I have never believed that more. Death is a transition to a higher place, full of incredible love and light.

💜 Those of us still alive (in human form) have much work to do (purposes and missions to continue filling) before we leave this place.

💜 You cannot hold onto expectations of what you thought life would be. Stop fighting against the difficult current and learn to float downstream (go with the flow). Some things are beyond our control.

💜 The pain of losing someone you love can motivate you to make necessary changes to improve yourself and the lives of those around you. You learn to appreciate things much more within each moment.

💜 I’ve learned to let go of the little things in life. I will not waste my energy sweating the small stuff. Life is too precious and truly a gift.

💜 We are all here to learn, to grow and evolve.

💜 Life is a constant battle of perspective. What you choose to focus on will absolutely become your reality. Both peace and happiness are created by you within the mind.

To My Child… One Month Since Your Death

It’s been one month since I’ve seen your beautiful face. It’s still hard to believe you’re gone, Paige.

As a parent, it’s natural for us to worry for our children. From the day we become the protectors of an innocent, fragile little life, things forever change. We experience a version of love that we never knew was even humanly possible. It’s the strongest kind of love I’ve ever known and am grateful to have had the privilege of experiencing the phenomenon for fourteen and a half beautiful years.

This overwhelming love for our children takes over our entire existence and introduces us to a whole new level of lifelong worry. With such a strong sense of love and instinctual need to protect these beings, it’s natural to experience a healthy amount of fear that accompanies that love and to work towards finding the delicate balance between the two.

Kids make us worry, like that time you broke your leg while going down that slide before you even turned two. Or again when you broke your hand while playing soccer. I worried for you on your first day of middle school when you got on the wrong bus and headed to the wrong school. I felt extremely awful and was absolutely terrified for you. We had the police searching for you and until that point, I had never been so scared in my life. You didn’t mind too much once it all worked out and you finally got your first phone (you’d been begging for) the next day.

While it was always my instinctual job to worry, I had never prepared myself for your death. You were always a happy, healthy child. Beautiful, bright, talented, overwhelmingly kind and accepting of everyone. An impressive black belt in Tang Soo Do and a compassionate and patient teacher to your students. The former captain of several soccer teams and a talented instrumental musician and singer; just days away from your middle school graduation, ready to dive on into the world of high school. You never had a pre-existing medical condition and got regular physicals just like any kid.

On June 8th, while having a great day with her friends, Paige suddenly fainted and went into cardiac arrest. Although rescue workers were able to get to her very quickly and did their best, it took at least 11 minutes to bring her back to life. Paige fell into a coma and was flown via helicopter to a children’s hospital, where we spent the following 5-6 days in a terrifying blur of an unreal nightmare. We gripped on to any and all shreds of hope we could muster that our incredibly brave and strong teenager would wake up and come back to us.

Unfortunately, her body and all of her organs suffered too much physical damage. Paige’s father and I (along with my father) held Paige in our arms as she left her body here in this world.

One month.

One month and it seems like just yesterday, yet forever ago all at once. Time has stood still and for a while made no sense at all.

I’ve always said that you saved me. I’m not sure if I’d be here today had you not come into my life and turn it around in the most magical way. You’ve taught me so much about life and continue to do so every day since you’ve been gone.

I guess in the most “messed up” way, things have really clicked for me since I left that hospital without you. I know what I have to do with my life. You gave me an overwhelming and unexplainable amount of strength the first few days after you left. Your presence has been so strong for many of us who love you.

I could feel that you wanted me to help your little sister, your cousins, and your dear young friends through this. Kids are supposed to be kids and not have to worry too much about death, especially when it comes to losing their fellow peers. This has been so heartbreaking for so MANY people.

I was able to do my best to put on a brave face and help those kids and my family and intend to continue to do so for as long as I am able. I know you want me to really get serious about making a difference in the lives of others and I intend to do my very best to make you proud and get our message across.

Like those I know who have experienced grief told me it would, the pain comes in waves. Although your presence was overwhelming the first few days and you continue to show you’re still with us, doing what you can to guide and comfort us, the reality of your absence creeps in a bit heavier with each day. Since the hole left in our hearts is still so new and raw, there is a sense of sadness we carry around at all times. Yet nonetheless, we carry on. We go about our lives as we have to, because although our world has come crashing down, the rest of the world does not slow down for a moment.

We do our best to function and push on in your name, but every so often, the tidal wave of grief comes crashing down upon us and shakes us to the core. Trying to start a new life without you here is strange and foreign. It hurts.

I know in my heart that you came here for a purpose and a serious mission in which you filled to it’s fullest. A mission that is difficult for us as humans with egos to accept and understand. We miss you, Paige. And how could we not?

You came here with a plan. To touch so many lives. To accomplish so much, and you did. You still are. I know you still have a lot of work to do. You will continue to watch over all of us. To inspire us. To be an example of what and who we should always strive to be. A reminder to love each other a little harder. To not allow the trivial inconveniences of life sway the incredible gift of each day. To find joy in the smallest things, as you always did because after all, this part of life is all too short.

It’s still (at times) hard to believe you’re gone from this life. The wave will come and go, likely forever. But I find solace in knowing you are safe. You are happy and loved and forever with us. I’ll do my best to make you proud and lead by your example, Paige. I love you more than words could ever express. I am so grateful for every moment I’ve been blessed to have known you. You are my sunshine. Forever.


Deep Relief CBD: An Honest Review of an Amazing Company

In the last post, we explored why everyone is raving about CBD including what CBD actually is and the amazing benefits of using cannabinoids. We explored different forms and ways CBD can be taken and discussed what to look for when shopping for your own CBD products.

As promised, I will be giving CBD products and companies my honest opinions and reviews. My intent is to offer truthful opinions in order to help YOU find a CBD product that is right for your needs. The first company I am reviewing is Deep Relief CBD and I’m pleased to say, they did not disappoint.

I am happy to share with you why I LOVE this company and their products for so many reasons, from their 30 day money back guarantee to their excellent, high quality products, free shipping and awesome customer service.

I am thrilled to announce that you can also receive 50% OFF of your order by using THIS LINK and using the code: YOUNIVERSE … more details about this AMAZING DEAL are available at the bottom of this article.

Review of CBD Products:

For this review, I tried 3 different products from Deep Relief CBD. Below, I will break down my impressions and opinions on each of these products.

1500 mg Tincture

The first product I tried from Deep Relief CBD is this 1500 mg tincture. I was all around very pleased with this product and its effectiveness. This tincture has a mild, chocolate mint flavor (natural flavors, no actual chocolate in the ingredients). It does taste a bit like hemp due to its high quality, however, the chocolate mint flavor made it MUCH more pleasant than other CBD products that I have tried. It was very tasty and easy to tolerate as I held it underneath my tongue for fast absorption. For anyone who doesn’t especially enjoy the taste, it can be mixed in with drinks or foods. You can also use a “chaser” such as water to wash it down after you hold it underneath your tongue for a few minutes to ensure you will not experience any sort of after taste.

The bottle’s label is packed with lots of helpful, valuable information such as supplement facts, ingredients, and detailed instructions. Unfortunately, not all companies offer all this information, so I was very pleased to see everything I needed to know was right there on the bottle. I think this is very important and way too often overlooked. It is refreshing to see a company that is not afraid to share all their ingredients and that offers dosing guidelines. It also came with a labeled dropper, which makes it much easier to select the right desired dosage. This again is surprisingly rare with CBD products.

This particular 1500 mg tincture is stronger than some of their other tinctures and is recommended for medium to severe issues. Although I do not talk about my struggles very often, I do live with a rare autoimmune disorder that causes me daily inflammation and back and shoulder pain.

About an hour after I took the tincture, I felt very calm and consumed by a feeling of general well-being. And being a mother of two (teenager and a toddler) I’ll gladly welcome that relaxing feeling any day! I could also feel the tension within my back begin to loosen up. Rather than being so stiff and tight, I was able to move around easier, and could physically feel relief from my pain.

The price for the 1500 mg tincture is $125 and worth every cent. And don’t forget, you can use my coupon code for 25% OFF of your order! There is also a 500 mg tincture available for just $55.

300 mg Gummies. Organic and THC FREE

I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the gummy bears. I’ve gotten accustomed to using edibles, tinctures and other products that taste like straight up “skunky” weed, so being used to the flavor, it really doesn’t bother me too much. However, I can think of many other tastier flavors for gummy bears than “marijuana”. To my surprise, these gummies were DELICIOUS.  No lie, they legit taste like yummy candy gummy bears.

Both the gummies and tincture did leave me with a calming, relaxed feeling. I was not drowsy at all after taking either yet was able to get a BEAUTIFUL night’s sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and energized. This to me is amazing because many people take prescription sleep medications just to ensure they can sleep. Not only does this often leave people feeling groggy and “hung over” in the morning, but like any prescription drug, other sleep aids can cause harmful side effects. Having an all-natural solution to getting a good night’s sleep is truly a revelation.

The price of these 300 mg gummies, 15 count (20 mg each gummy) goes for $30. They also offer 600 mg gummies for $60. They also have a special available that includes both the 1500 mg tincture and the 300 mg gummies for $150. And did I mention you can use my coupon code for 25% off? 🙂


My favorite of all of the products I tested from Deep Relief CBD was this CBD Balm. As I said, I suffer with pretty severe inflammation and pain in my back and shoulders. I was truthfully skeptical and did not expect much relief. I’ve honestly become so accustomed to dealing with constant pain that it is always just another day for me. Nothing aside from prescription pain medication has ever brought me any relief. Given the dangers and epidemic of opioids, prescription painkillers are not a viable, healthy, long term option. I’ve seen loved ones struggle with opioid addiction first hand and do not wish these struggles on anyone. I’d given up even bothering taking over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen because it did not help my pain in the slightest. I’m telling you… NOTHING helped.

After hardly 5 minutes of applying the CBD balm to my back and shoulders, the amount of relief that I felt was mind-blowingly INCREDIBLE. I honestly could not believe that I was feeling such relief from my pain. I had to question myself- wait, is this real or is this in my head? Do I really feel this good right now? But to my surprise, each time I applied the balm, I felt like a new person. You can feel a bit of a tingling sensation from the balm and that’s how you know it is working. This balm also helped me to sleep. There is nothing like feeling relaxed and pain free to help you drift off into a glorious night’s sleep.

I am INCREDIBLY grateful for Deep Relief CBD and this balm. It 100% blew my expectations out of the water.

The balm is easy to apply and goes on smoothly. The scent is honestly pretty interesting. It reminds me of a mix between hemp and citronella. It was not too overpowering and really did not bother me in the slightest. And to be honest, it could smell like dog poop and I would still use it given how effective it was.

The price for this ABSOLUTE MIRACLE of a CBD balm is $65. There is also a 150 mg balm available for $40. And yes, yes… you can use my discount code for this magical product as well.

What Makes Deep Relief CBD so Wonderful?

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About the Company

This company claims to have the best CBD oil GUARANTEED. They are so confident in this, that there is a risk free, 30 day money back guarantee. That right there showed me that these guys aren’t messing around. They are producing great quality products and fully stand behind that.

Aside from Deep Relief CBD’s awesome products, I was also very pleased with their customer service. These people know what they are talking about, are extremely friendly and were so helpful with answering any questions that I had regarding CBD and their products. You can tell that these people are in the business of helping people and really changing lives. To me, that is very important. I really love that this company is a family run business that “takes great pride in bringing you and your family nothing but the finest all natural, pesticide free products that are grown in the USA.”

Double-Blind Tested

Deep Relief CBD uses a double-blind test to ensure quality. This means that they use 2 separate testing facilities completely independent from one another. Having numerous testing facilities helps to ensure that customers are receiving very high quality, safe CBD products.

100% Colorado-Grown Hemp

This company uses 100% Colorado-grown hemp that must pass the strictest quality guidelines in the industry. Every bottle produced has a full set of 3rd-party Certificates of Analysis associated with it that is available online for clients to view. Their testing process includes a separate analysis for the cannabinoid profile, potential microbial life, mold, heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides/herbicides/insecticides.

This means that you will NEVER have to worry about Deep Relief CBD containing any traces of toxic or unsafe ingredients. You can rest easy knowing exactly what you get in each product. With the CBD industry on the rise, this is very important because lots of companies try to cut corners with malicious intentions to only make money, which can lead to unsafe and ineffective CBD products. But not these guys!

Deep Relief CBD’s dedication to safe, high quality products continues with their use of high quality MCT Oil to increase bioavailability as well as a higher absorption rate. Many other companies use hemp seed oil or palm oil which is cheaper and does not deliver nearly as well. MCT products are purified extractions of coconut oil, making them a higher concentration, making it an efficient source of energy.

100% Full Hemp Extract

The extraction methods used by Deep Relief CBD is the most raw and beneficial form of hemp extract, making Deep Relief CBD one of the top in the industry. They use Kosher 190 proof alcohol for extraction. Unlike CO2, Alcohol extraction maintains the entourage effect and keeps terpenes, plant fats, lipids, and phytocannabinoids present within the finished oil without being unhealthy.

Very Informative and Helpful Website

The Deep Relief CBD website is very easy to navigate and offers a great amount of very helpful information. The lab results and ingredients for each product are available to review as well. On the “FAQ” page, you can find a plethora of answers to commonly asked questions. And of course, if you cannot find the answer to a question that you may have, there is a contact form and phone number available.

Variety of Other Products Including Pet CBD Available.

Deep Relief CBD currently has products that offer different levels of strength. For example, along with the 1500 mg tincture that I reviewed earlier, they also have a 500 mg tincture that is recommended for minor to medium issues. You can choose what sort of level of relief you desire. There are also different options for the gummies and CBD balm as well. They also offer pet CBD, because like us humans, pets sometimes suffer and deserve relief as well!

THC FREE “Pure Line”

One of the very best parts of this company is that they offer a “PURE LINE” that lab testing has GUARANTEED no THC within the products. This is amazing news for anyone who is a little hesitant to try CBD products. While some of their products contain a very small amount of THC (0.3%) the amount is so small that there will not be any psychoactive effects or feelings of being “high” or “stoned”. Even though the psychoactive effects are not present, taking the small amounts of THC can rarely be detected in drug tests. This is what makes the Pure Line so amazing. Customers can still experience the miracle of these products without the worry!

Receive 25% off of your order NOW with My Coupon Code!

If you would like to experience how amazing Deep Relief CBD really is, risk free, click here to visit their website. Be sure to enter in the coupon code YOUNIVERSE to get 25% off of your order and remember they offer FREE and FAST SHIPPING!

CBD… What’s All the Rave?

With the popularity of CBD products on the rise, everyone has been raving about how amazing CBD really is. In this article, we will discuss what CBD is and mention some of the incredible benefits CBD has to offer. We will explore the different forms of cannabidiol available and what aspects should be considered before selecting the right CBD for you.

What is CBD?

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Cannabidiol (or CBD for short) is just one of the chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant. CBD does NOT contain the compound Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. This means that CBD offers the amazing medical benefits of marijuana, without the psychoactive (mind altering) effects or “high” that is experienced by consuming cannabis. Like marijuana, CBD is non addictive and can be consumed safely by people of all ages and even pets! And the best part? Hemp derived CBD is legal in all 50 states of America and you can access it almost anywhere from online to your local gas station.

What are the benefits of CBD?

The benefits of CBD have been lifechanging for some. Many people have found relief for more than 50 medical conditions.

CBD Can Help to Prevent:

  • Epileptic Seizures
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes

CBD Can Help:

  • Manage and Relieve Pain and Inflammation
  • Treat Symptoms of Autoimmune Disorders
  • Improve Mood
  • Improve Conditions of Autistic Children
  • Reduce Anxiety and Depression
  • Reduce Psychotic Symptoms of Schizophrenia
  • Reduce Symptoms of PTSD
  • Promote Cell Repair
  • Strengthen Bones
  • Improve Quality of Sleep and Combat Insomnia
  • Alleviate Cancer Symptoms
  • Combat Addiction and Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms

The wonderful thing about CBD is that it is all natural and offers great relief from a variety of medical conditions. This could potentially mean replacing some prescription medication(s) with CBD, helping to reduce harmful side effects and dependency issues related to pharmaceuticals.

There is also some research that suggests that CBD can kill off harmful cancer cells, preventing and treating cancer.

Different ways to consume CBD:

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CBD comes in many different forms and levels of strength. There is no right or wrong way to consume CBD. Luckily there are many options for people to explore in order to find what works best for them. Here we will discuss: Oils and tinctures, edibles, capsules, vaping and topical options.

Oils and Tinctures

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Oils and tinctures are often mistaken to be the same thing, so I will attempt to clarify the differences of the two. Both CBD oil and tinctures come in similar packaging- tinted glass bottles with the purpose of keeping light out and ensure freshness. Both can be taken directly or added to your favorite food or drink. That’s one way to boost your morning coffee! Oil has no added flavor while tinctures can have different added flavors such as fruity flavors or chocolate. This may be easier for some to consume if they are turned off by “skunky”, marijuana flavor that you’d find in an oil.

Oils are typically the most potent and expensive of CBD products. They are referred to as “oils” because they are mixed with a carrier such as hemp or coconut oil. Some CBD oils can also contain other nutrients or vitamins such as protein, fatty acids and chlorophyll.

Tinctures are made by dissolving the cannabis in a high proof alcohol or other solvent in order to preserve and enhance the effects of the CBD. The effects and duration of tinctures is comparable to that of edibles. They are low in calories and have a strong potency, so you don’t have to use very much. Some tinctures can be in spray form as well.

Tinctures and oils can be taken as a sublingual, meaning it goes under the tongue, or against the gums and cheek for fast absorption through your mucus membranes. This speeds up the process by skipping the time it takes to pass through the digestive system and puts it on the fast track to your bloodstream. Both can also be swallowed, where as it will just take a bit longer to take effect. The effects of tinctures typically last between 4-8 hours.


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CBD can be consumed in the form of edibles, meaning that the extracted CBD has been mixed into different types of foods of your preferences. You may have seen CBD in the ever-popular gummy bear form, but the options are endless! You can have or make CBD cookies, brownies, cake pops, make butter for your toast, whatever your heart desires.

Edibles are discreet to use, easy to dose and good for those who don’t want to irritate the lungs. You can even make them yourself! Edibles take a bit longer to feel the full effects (between 30 min- 2 hours) as they are broken down slowly by your digestive system. While it may take longer to kick in, the effects can last 2-4 hours longer than smoking or vaping.

CBD Capsules

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CBD can also be consumed orally in capsule form. Like edibles, this form of CBD is very discreet. The capsules are typically tasteless and are possibly the easiest method of consuming CBD oil. This is because unlike oils and tinctures, the capsules are pre-measured, meaning you can expect the same results each time, taking the intimidation out of the process. The ease of CBD capsules makes them a great choice for those who are new to exploring the amazing benefits of CBD. The duration of effects from CBD capsules is usually around 6-8 hours.

Vaping CBD

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Many people prefer vaping CBD because it is easy to do and works very quickly. Inhaling CBD oil can offer almost instantaneous effects. This can be very helpful for those dealing with stress, anxiety or pain when they cannot wait very long to feel relief. There are different styles of vapes that can be explored. Some vapes can be refilled, some have pre-filled replaceable cartridges, and some are altogether disposable. Vapes are convenient and can be carried around in your pocket or purse for easy travel. Vaping is quick, easy and discreet and while the effects are felt quite quickly, they do not last as long as other forms such as tinctures or edibles. Expect for vapes to take up to 20 minutes to feel the full effect and to last for about 2-3 hours.

Topical CBD

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CBD is also available in a topical form. By applying a topical directly to the skin, symptoms of pain, inflammation and arthritis can be significantly reduced. Topical CBD can be in many different forms including creams, ointments, oil, lotions, salves, balms and patches. These topical options are great for a localized area on the body in need of relief. Topical CBD can take up to an hour to work and offer about 5 hours of relief.

What To Look For When Purchasing CBD Products

Not all CBD products are created equally. With the popularity of cannabidiol on the rise, many companies are producing low quality CBD products that offer little to no results and may contain toxins and pesticides. When shopping for CBD, there are some things you should look out for to ensure your CBD is safe and effective.

There are different ways of extracting CBD from the hemp plant. Some companies try to cut corners by saving money and time and extract in ways that involve toxic solvents that are dangerous when consumed such as propane and butane.

Here are some things to look for when shopping for CBD products:

  • Inquire about their extraction method to ensure that they do not use harmful chemicals in the process
  • Look to see that a company’s products have a 3rd party test available
  • Ensure that the company is using USDA organic-certified, hemp-grown farms that are GMP Certified
  • Make sure you can see a full list of ingredients so that you can avoid CBD products that contain toxic solvent residues, pesticides, artificial flavors and pesticides.

Check out my review of Deep Relief CBD and be sure to use discount code YOUNIVERSE to receive 50% OFF of your order!

Meditation Made Simple

Meditation does not have to be some complicated, intricate, process. You don’t need to be an enlightened monk or yoga guru to participate and reap the incredible benefits associated with meditation.

Meditation can be made simple and can be done anywhere, at any time. Think of meditating as an opportunity to focus on bringing your awareness to your breathing, rather than focusing too much on silencing the thoughts that are controlling your mind.

Here Are Some Benefits of Making Meditation a Regular Practice:

Meditation Reduces:

  • Stress
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

  Physical Benefits of Meditation Include: 

  • Improved immune system
  • Ability to lower respiratory rates
  • Ability to lower blood pressure
  • Pain relief
  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Improved sleep

 Meditation also physically restructures your brain, in a good way, helping to improve:

  • Decision making skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Memory 
  • Attention span
  • Emotional health
  • Self-Awareness

Other Benefits of Meditation:

  • Helps to battle addictions
  • Increases creativity
  • Improves your ability to perform under stress and pressure 
  • Increases lifespan

Even if you don’t know much about meditation, you have likely heard that the overall point is to silence the mind. With nearly 70,000 thoughts cruising through our heads each day, this can be difficult and even seem impossible, especially when you first begin to practice.

You see, when we are not consciously focused on one thing in particular, a part of our brain referred to as the default mode network (DMN) is switched on, resulting in our minds aimlessly wandering.

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This activity within the default mode network (DMN) is often referred to as the ‘monkey mind’. This scattered, random flow of thoughts make it difficult to concentrate and live consciously as the mind is too busy being overwhelmed by the excess clutter.

Taking the time to meditate helps tremendously in the process oftraining your brainby physically altering grey matter, improving attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.

The minds of those who suffer from anxiety or depression tend to wander even more than average. This is due to the inability to stay fully in the present moment. Focusing on events from the past and worrying about what has yet to come in the future are signs of destructive, negative overthinking patterns and habits.  Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps to silence the “monkey mind”, reduce clutter, increase concentration and allows people to live more peaceful, happier lives. Often times when people suffer from anxiety and/or depression, they feel hopeless and often turn to prescription medications in order to feel like themselves again. Meditation brings forth lasting improvements and results without harmful side effects rather than masking and numbing them.

You can practice meditation regularly (once or twice a day) to experience all of the awesome benefits we have discussed. Meditation is also a great stress reducer that you can utilize when you are feeling overwhelmed or upset. Stepping outside of your thoughts brings forth excellent clarity, calms the mind and body, while allowing you to recharge your brain, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized.

If you are feeling badly, the thoughts in your head are not serving you. You can work on sorting out letting them go or changing your perspective, but if you truly cannot pull yourself out of a funk, then practice meditation. Meditation does not have to be some intricate, spiritual process. Just think of it as an opportunity to focus on your breathing, rather than the thoughts that are controlling your mind. As I said, you can practice a mindful breathing meditation at any time, any place. It may be helpful to set aside some time to begin practicing the technique at home before you start meditating in traffic or while trying to center yourself in a stressful work situation.

So, without further ado…

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Step One: Set an Alarm

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It can be difficult to have any concept of time while you are meditating. Designating an allotted amount of time is helpful in the sense that you won’t sit there wondering “How long have I been doing this for? How long SHOULD I be doing this for?” Choose an amount of time that you are comfortable with in order to begin. I recommend starting with anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Once you are ready to start meditating, you may place the alarm within reach. I’d recommend a nice, calm, soft ringer for your alarm. No one wants to come out of their meditation with the sound effects of a nuclear blast warning (that iPhone tone scares the crap out of me every time. Ha).

Step Two: Make Yourself Comfortable

Find a comfortable spot where you can be unbothered by distractions (parents, I know all too well that this can seem impossible or even comical, but do your best to escape for some healthy “me time”). Once you have found a nice, quiet area to practice in, get yourself into position. Traditionally, meditation is performed in lotus pose, with your legs crossed, but for now… let’s just focus on being comfortable. You can choose to either sit or lay down, just ensure that your spine is as straight as possible in the position that you choose. Most people close their eyes while practicing meditation, but you may also pick an area of focus for you to focus on, such as a random spot on a blank wall.

Step Three: Focus On Your Breathing

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Once your alarm is set and you are in a comfortable position, it is time to begin! In order to practice mindful breathing, you must simply bring your awareness to your breath. To do so, simply inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four. As you inhale, think “in”. Hold your inhale for a second or two and then exhale slowly through your mouth with pursed lips (as if you are slowly blowing on a candle flame) as you think “out”.

Step Four: Acknowledge Your Thoughts- Don’t Fight Them

This is where people often find the most difficulty. You are in your comfy, meditative position and begin focusing on your breathing, seems simple enough, right? It is at this point where the meditation practice is interrupted by that “monkey mind”. You may never realize how much your mind wanders until you attempt to keep it still. The most random thoughts are going to come flying in, seemingly interrupting your meditation. But fear not, you do not have to work so hard to silence your thoughts. Trying to do so likely won’t be successful anyway. Do not become frustrated with yourself and give up. Instead, simply acknowledge each thought and do your best to bring your attention back to your breathing pattern.

Here’s a Helpful Analogy:

As a thought pops up, imagine it as a passing cloud. Allow each thought to drift by without taking over your mind and potential mood. If it helps you to remember to breathe, use your exhale breaths to blow the thought clouds away (regardless of how corny that may sound). Continue to keep yourself clear of attaching your energy to your thoughts and learn to simply be.

Understand that you are NOT your thoughts. You are simply the observer. You have an awesome ability (some may say super power) where you get to determine which thoughts that you cling to and focus on. Let go of the attachment you have to your thoughts. Practicing daily mindfulness will help you to strengthen your ability to simply “be“.

You can also practice focusing on your breathing regardless of where you are or what sort of physical position you are in. Especially during times of stress, deep mindful breathing can help you to calm both the body and mind. Stressed out at work? Upset with someone? Feeling anxious about the future or difficulty letting go of the past? Just breathe. While it may not be a complete miracle worker, it does significantly help.

One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation.

Eckhart Tolle

Try out these tips and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your feedback. Challenge yourself to practice meditation twice daily for a minimum of 2 weeks. At the end of that time, reflect on how you feel compared to when you started your consistent practice.

6 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

Image by: Ashlee Ann @Youniverseinyou

There are ways to work on reducing and eliminating anxiety and depression. In order to improve your mindset, you must eliminate unhealthy thinking patterns and adapt new ones!⁣⁣

You have to ‘Train Your Brain’!⁣ 🧠 

⁣Here are some tips: ⁣⁣

🌸 Be kind to yourself. Make sure that inner dialogue of yours is kind and compassionate. Most people treat others MUCH better than they treat themselves. At the end of the day, we are always left with our own minds. Self-love should always be a top priority as it sets the tone for all other relationships as well. If you have trouble with your self-esteem and loving yourself seems far out of reach, start with working on self-acceptance first. ⁣⁣

🌸 Stay in the present moment by practicing constant mindfulness. Mindfulness means living consciously and being in a state of awareness. Often times, anxiety comes from either worrying about what may happen in the future or not letting go of something in the past.

⁣⁣🌸 Although we have nearly 70,000 thoughts each day, scientists are still unsure of where thoughts even come from. Know that you are NOT your thoughts and it is your job to OBSERVE and filter them out. We may not be able to choose each thought that pops into our heads, but we do have the power to CHOOSE which thoughts that we focus on. If you are feeling badly, take note of what you are focusing on. Choose something that feels better such as practicing gratitude or visualizing your goals and dreams coming true. ⁣⁣

🌸 Switching up your perspective can make a world of difference. When feeling troubled, it is necessary to step outside of the situation and reach for a different outlook. Ask yourself if you can view or approach things in a different, more positive way. Look out for repeated patterns in life so that you may discover the lesson that the universe is trying to teach you. ⁣It may be necessary to step outside of the ego.⁣

🌸 Don’t sweat the small stuff. If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes thinking about it! Life is too short to spend it STUCK in a low vibration. It’s much healthier to let things go and be happy. ⁣⁣

🌸 Accept what you cannot control. In order to train your brain, you must work on your self-development. This means adapting healthier habits and accepting and loving yourself. You can control your thoughts, your beliefs, your attitude, who you surround yourself with etc. If you are stuck up on something that you have no power to control or change, you must learn to let it go. Find healing and peace in order to live happily.

You can learn to live without anxiety and/or depression. Having a Mindset Coach like Ashlee Ann can make all the difference! Ashlee helps in the process of leaving unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors behind in order to adapt healthier new ones. This is how you learn to live your BEST LIFE and create the reality that you desire!

By using a mixture of positive psychology and spirituality, Ashlee provides valuable information so that client’s can understand the basics of the psychology behind training your brain while simultaneously working on your spiritual journey and connection to the universe (or God if you prefer). Ashlee walks clients through the training process with easy to follow, step-by-step instructions and provides guided exercises involving self-reflection and healing.

Ashlee works together with clients to create a detailed Action Plan in order to turn their dreams into obtainable goals and helps people to find their dream job or “purpose” (if necessary).

Start your FREE Coaching Consultation now!

How to Make the Most Out of Your Yoga Practice

So far, we have discussed topics such as:

  • The incredible benefits that yoga has to offer
  • How to begin your yoga journey without the intimidation
  • How to incorporate yoga into your busy schedule

In this post, we will explore different ways to make the most out of your yoga practice by:

  • Making sure that your progress is unique to you and not compared to the journeys of others
  • Listening to your body and get the most out of your practice
  • Deciding how you perceive your regular yoga practice
  • Learning to set your intentions

Do Not Compare Your Yoga Journey to Anyone Else’s.

Whether you have been practicing for decades or have just started to hit the mat, your yoga journey is yours and yours alone and should not be compared to the journey of others. There are many factors that contribute to the difference in each person’s progress and abilities such as: how long they have been practicing, how often they practice, level of flexibility and strength etc. It can be discouraging to see people seemingly effortlessly standing on their heads or hands while you struggle to maneuver your body into less intricate poses. Do not get down on yourself just because you aren’t at the same level of others or even meeting your own expectations for that matter.

It is easy to become inspired by all the yogis that we see on social media. They have a way of making things look so effortless that we aspire to master their difficult poses as quickly as possible. While it is always great to have goals, be gentle with your self-expectations. Remind yourself that this is a journey, not a race. Focus on connecting with your body and learning from the experience as you go. Notice the small improvements that you make each day in regard to improving your strength and flexibility. Celebrate each little progression by practicing gratitude and being proud of your accomplishments! Always be sure that you are accepting of where you are at in your physical journey. It is okay to strive for improvement, but never forget to give yourself credit where it is due. If you are practicing consistently, you should be proud of yourself!

Listen to Your Body.

Push yourself but know your limits. You want to challenge yourself and your body in order to advance and increase your overall strength and flexibility. However, it is vital to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. Poses can be modified to different levels of intensity. Using props such as blocks, and belts can help train your body so that you can ease into tougher poses. It is all about improving flexibility and gaining strength as you go, so there is no shame in modifying poses or using props to get you closer to reaching your goals.

Be sure you are aware of the difference between a good stretch and a strain. Know that it may take time and practice to accomplish challenging poses. Always be patient and kind to yourself in your journey. Practice makes progress so remind yourself that each time you work on your poses, you are bringing yourself closer to where you want to be. Remember that there are always benefits of practicing yoga aside from gaining strength and flexibility. Sometimes, even just the calming mental benefits of yoga should be the main focus. 

Perhaps the most important tip is to practice conscious, mindful breathing. I am a huge advocate for Mindful Breathing (just ask any of my coaching clients). By focusing our awareness on our breathing patterns and consciously taking control of each breath, we provide our bodies and our minds with incredible benefits such as:

  • Relaxation of the Body and Mind
  • Boosting the Immune System
  • Improving Focus
  • Relieving Tension
  • Pain Relief
  • Allows You to Let Go of Negative Emotions
  • Releases Toxins

The payoff of consciously breathing is extraordinary yet often overlooked. Doing so helps to create a deeper connection mind, body and soul while allowing us to live fully in the present moment. We should ALWAYS be aware of our breathing pattern, not just during our yoga practice. Shoot for slow, productive, deep breaths.

Decide How You Perceive the Practice of Yoga.

The way that you perceive your yoga practice will make all the difference in the progression of your journey. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation needed to practice. Although there may be days that you will struggle with finding your drive, you will likely never regret taking the time to hit the mat. Always remind yourself of the amazing benefits that yoga has to offer and allow this information to persuade you to practice. If you are short on time, choose a few poses that have the greatest benefit for you. For example, if you want to focus on increasing flexibility, practice poses that challenge you to do so. If you’d like to focus on gaining strength, take a few minutes to enter poses that are physically challenging to you such as chaturanga or “plank pose”. Or you can choose a couple of poses that will benefit your specific needs. If you are experiencing back pain, focus on poses that target back pain relief.

Take the time to reflect on your personal perspective of practicing yoga. It may be helpful to ask yourself some questions in order to assess your feelings such as:

Why did I decide to begin practicing yoga in the first place?

Perhaps you have decided that it is vital for your overall well-being and health routine. You love yourself (or are working on your self-love) and understand that practicing yoga is beneficial for your physical and mental health. Remind yourself of the incredible benefits of yoga and why you made the decision to practice!

Is Taking the time to practice fun and relaxing or do you see it as a tedious chore?

Remind yourself of self-love and how important it is to make the time to do things that are good for your mind, body and soul. Don’t think of your practice as a chore, think of it is your time to connect with yourself and to generate calm, peaceful feelings.

Set Your Intentions.

Set an intention or mantra for your practice. Doing so will help you while you are on the mat and long after. Each time you practice, set your specific intention to give your practice a greater meaning. Some examples of intentions may be:

  • I am at peace
  • I am strong
  • I am grateful
  • I am aware and conscious
  • I am one with the universe
  • I am love
  • I am balanced and calm

Listen to your heart and intuition in order to choose an intention that resonates with you.

Incorporating Yoga Into Your Busy Schedule:

If you are looking to incorporate yoga (or any healthy, new habit) into your routine and schedule and are determined and dedicated to sticking to it, the first thing you’ll need to do is create the goal.

Grab a journal or some paper and join me! Let’s write about your goals. Putting your goals to paper increases the likely hood of achieving them.

Step 1. Create a Goal!

I want to practice yoga ________.

How often would you like to practice yoga? You can choose whatever is believably obtainable for you. Would you like to practice every day, twice a day, every other day, three days a week? Choose where you want to start. You can always adjust this later on, if after some consistent effort you notice it is not working for you.

Example 1: I want to practice yoga once a day.

Example 2: I want to practice yoga 3 days a week.

Step 2. Create a Schedule.

I always like to plan out my weeks as well as individual days ahead of time. Using a planner or calendar is very helpful in keeping up with a busy lifestyle. By staying organized, you will always be prepared for upcoming tasks/events on your schedule. You can set yourself daily and weekly goals/tasks to accomplish.

Decide what days and/or time of day would be best for you to practice yoga. Pick a time slot and stick to it! Be dedicated. Consider what time of day you will need yoga the most. Doing some yoga in the morning instead of hitting the snooze button is always a good idea. It will get you up, stretch our your body, allow you to gain mental clarity and get you prepared to start your day off on the right foot. On the other hand, practicing in the evening such as after work or before bed is a great way to unwind from the day. I’m not going to lie, both of those sound pretty fantastic. Do both if you wish, but all you need is to choose one slot of time for now. It can be your lunchbreak, while your kids nap, whatever works best for you. If you are finding it difficult to incorporate time for yourself and your well-being into your schedule, you may need to do some reflection on which areas of life that you can begin to limit. If you have the time to binge watch Netflix, surely you can make time to improve your mental and physical health.

Example 1: I will practice my daily yoga in the morning as soon as I wake up so that I can stretch, become alert and start my day off right.

Example 2: Since I’d like to practice yoga 3 times a week, I’ll choose the three specific days that work best for me. Since I prefer to practice yoga before bed, I will make this a part of my nightly practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday nights.

Fully commit yourself to this new goal you are setting. Do not give yourself permission to not practice. Understandably, this is the real world and sometimes things pop up that may make it difficult to complete your practice one day here or there. If something comes up, forgive yourself… but the only way to create new, healthy habits, stay consistent and see actual results is to stick by your commitment. Create your schedule, write it down and follow it. If one session is interrupted and impossible to complete, decide when you can reschedule it, but do your best to stick to your original plan.

Beginning Your Yoga Journey (Without the Intimidation)

Yoga is everywhere these days. All over the world, more and more people are discovering the excellent benefits of practicing yoga. Although the physical and mental benefits are more than impressive, sometimes people who are interested in trying yoga find themselves intimidated and unsure of where to start.

Here are some possible concerns of those who are intrigued by yoga:

  • Maybe you think that you are not strong or flexible enough.
  • Maybe you aren’t graceful. You’ve never been able to do a cartwheel, let alone stand on your head.
  • Maybe you don’t know where and how to start.
  • Maybe you are nervous about joining a class when you don’t know what to expect.

These thoughts and feelings are all natural. The world of yoga may be unfamiliar territory and you may be worried that you’ll embarrass yourself or wont be able to keep up with others.

In this article, we will explore yoga with the intent of making it a little less intimidating and give you insight and tips that you need in order to get started on your journey. We will discuss the basics of yoga and talk about where and how to get started.

Everyone can do yoga. And you can begin your journey at your own pace and even in your own preferred style.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Yoga?

Yoga originated within the Hindu religion, in India as early as 26,000 years ago.

Yoga includes spiritual, mental and physical practices.

The word yoga can be translated as “union”. The purpose of yoga is to disconnect from the outside world and to connect (or create a union) your mind and body with the universe.

Yoga involves physical movement as well as breathing techniques and exercises. Practicing different physical postures aka Yoga poses (or asanas) exercises and engages your body as a whole and helps to stretch, tone, and increase flexibility. Yoga poses help to relieve stress and pain, allow you to relax, and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. 

Now that you know a little background information about yoga, lets explore different options on how and where to get started!

Every person is different. We may all have varied preferences and comfort levels when it comes to trying new things. Luckily, in the world of yoga, there are many ways that you can get started. There are plenty of varied settings and learning tactics that you can explore in order to decide what works best for you. Lets look at some different options together:

 Start from home watching tutorials. In this day and age, we have easy access to unlimited amounts of  information. Thanks to platforms like Youtube, we can explore countless accounts that offer beginner yoga lessons. There are complete beginner videos that can walk you through a quick yoga workout and introduce you to some basic poses you can practice. Along with Youtube, you can purchase instructional beginners DVDs, explore yoga apps, read books about yoga etc. The knowledge is out there, waiting for you to explore and familiarize yourself with the world of yoga. You can even pay for your own, personal, private virtual yoga studio classes. This is a great way to get the experience of a class, with the instruction of an expert, from the comfort of your own home.

Venture out into the real world and try a beginners yoga class. Going to a physical yoga class can be intimidating. You may not know what to expect and this uncertainty can be uncomfortable. Since this is all new to you, you don’t want to be completely clueless with a bunch of yoga masters twisted up in pretzels. Don’t worry, there are level one, beginners classes that you can attend. This means that all of your fellow classmates are going to be new to this, just like you! Any good yoga studio will have a knowledgeable, patient instructor, ready to assist you and walk you through each pose with ease.

Go a little early to pick out your spot. Not rushing in will make you more comfortable. There will likely be a designated area to keep your socks and shoes. Don’t be shy! Introduce yourself to the instructor. You can tell them it is your first time and you are unsure of what to expect. Let them know of any injuries that you have so that they can offer you different modifications of each pose if need be.

When the class is complete, the instructor will likely put their hands together, bow to the class and say “namaste”. The meaning of namaste is to say “I see you, I honor you.” In order to participate, place your empty hands together in prayer stance. Place your hands in front of your chest and say “namaste” as you participate in a small forward bow. Repeating this is your way of saying “thank you” to the instructor.

Do your own thing. Your yoga journey can be as laxed as you wish. Put on some relaxing tunes. Stretch and do what feels good. There have been times where I have literally spent hours just stretching out my body and doing what feels good/right. There may not have been any actual official yoga poses involved at all. Just a lot of me laying on my living room floor, moving around and holding different stretches/positions wherever I felt any tension. As long as you are peaceful, and focusing on your breath and the needs of your body, you are doing something right. You can keep it as casual as you’d like. Stretch throughout your day whenever you get the chance!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we explore additional tips for beginning your yoga journey including yoga props you may need, ways to stay motivated, beginner yoga poses, tips on incorporating yoga into your schedule as well as reviews on some of my favorite yoga clothes and gear.

Yoga Confessions

It’s time for a little truth bomb. Like the rest of you, I am working on my self-development. I think it is important to call ourselves out on our own bull shit from time to time. This way, we can bring awareness to the areas of ourselves that we need to improve and focus on.

I’ve done the research, I know the incredible benefits of yoga and preach them to my clients.

Here are some yoga facts for you:

Physical Benefits of Yoga:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves posture
  • Builds/tones muscle
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases joint mobility
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Reduces migraines
  • Improves your overall balance
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Improves heart health
  • Increases blood flow
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Improves sleep
  • Eases digestive issues

Mental/ Emotional Benefits of Yoga:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves your ability to focus
  • Increases serotonin levels, making you feel happy
  • Increases awareness
  • Improves mental calmness
  • Improves overall mood
  • Increases mindfulness practice
  • Improves symptoms of depression, PTSD, schizophrenia

Pretty incredible stuff, right? Despite knowing all of these amazing benefits of yoga, and sharing this knowledge with others, sadly, I’ve been slacking on my practice. For far too many consistent days, I’ve allowed myself to accept the excuses that I create to avoid pulling out my mat and spending a few minutes reconnecting with myself. Day after yoga-less day passes by, until suddenly it’s been months since I’ve dedicated the time and it SHOWS.

It’s easy to allow life to get in the way of really listening to your body and what it needs. The world doesn’t slow down just because I’m dealing with some back pain. So what do I do? I ignore it and keep powering through my day. I have work to do, a family and home to take care of, there is no time to slow down.

While ignoring my problems and plowing through seems like the only option at times, it is an unhealthy and self-destructive choice. If we do not practice constant mindfulness and pay attention to what our bodies need, the pain and stress will not be relieved, it will only worsen and escalate into more problems. If our needs continue to be ignored, we will eventually find ourselves in a complete state of suffering, until we are completely incapable of avoiding our needs.

I preach the benefits and importance of yoga to others, but lately I have neglected my own personal needs. While I can come up with a bunch of reasons why I cannot seem to find the time or energy to practice, in the end, practicing yoga is what my body needs. If I am not taking care of myself and my own needs, I will be unable to function properly and won’t be able to help to anyone else! We cannot pour from an empty cup, as they say. If we don’t make our physical and mental health needs a priority, we can find ourselves in some really unfortunate situations that can be very difficult to climb out of.

This is one of the reasons why practicing mindfulness is so incredibly important. Mindfulness is about being in a state of awareness. By practicing mindfulness, you can easily assess what your mind and body need in any given moment. It may seem like an involuntary, obvious thing to do (being aware of what your body needs) but without actually stepping outside of the subconscious mind and taking the time to live consciously, we aren’t being mindful of ourselves. Consider that the mind is typically driven by the subconscious mind nearly 95% of the time. Isn’t that insane? We literally run on autopilot mode the majority of the time, unless we can make the time to practice mindfulness, step outside the 70,000 thoughts that pass our minds daily and live consciously. Are you practicing mindfulness on a consistent basis? Reflect on the way that you feel. and what your mind and body may need to stay healthy.

Here are a few signs that you may need some yoga in your life:

  • You have tense, stiff, sore muscles/joints
  • You feel stressed
  • You are feeling anxious
  • You are unable to focus/ think clearly
  • You are tired, restless or having difficulty sleeping
  • You spend too much time sitting
  • You are having difficulty breathing
  • You are having difficulty regulating thoughts/emotions
  • You feel lost or overwhelmed
  • You have pore posture
  • You want to get into shape
  • You are looking for ways to relax and unwind

Don’t let excuses stop you from being your best self. Look, I get it. I’m busy too. I work, I’ve got two kids, most days, it doesn’t seem like there will be enough time to achieve my goals. But there will never be enough time unless you MAKE the time to work on yourself and your self-development. Join me in this adventure of self-improvement. Whether that is through yoga or adapting any healthy habit to create a better version of yourself (meditation, reading, writing, eating healthy, exercise, painting etc.).

We HAVE to listen to our needs and take the time to focus on ourselves. Our own relationships with ourselves set the tone for all other relationships that we have. Self-love should always be a top priority. Make the time to listen to yourself. Do whatever you can to fit things in your schedule that serve you and are related to your journey of self-development.

In order to create new, healthy habits, they need to be practiced consistently. Otherwise, we will not be able to create a routine and will slowly find ourselves slipping into our old, less healthy habits. Listen to your mind and body. Practice mindfulness and be aware of what you need. We must learn to make the time. Even if we are super busy, all the more reason to adapt healthy habits such as yoga in order to mentally prepare ourselves for a busy day or to unwind before bed.

I have made the personal decision to stop slacking and truly incorporate yoga into my daily schedule. If you are interested in joining me on this journey, please stay tuned for new upcoming posts. I will be sharing my personal yoga journey and stories. Whether you are an advanced, expert yogi or simply interested in learning more about yoga and considering practicing for yourself, you’ll find great tips and insights here. We will talk about how to get started with yoga, how to create goals for yourself and incorporate them into your schedule, different ways and places to practice and more! I will also be sharing my own personal reviews on yoga/meditation products, props and clothing.

I look forward to your company on this journey. Please feel free to reach out here or on my Instagram page @Youniverseinyou and share some of your own tips and tricks. I’d love to hear about your journey and any advice that you have for someone who is in the beginning stages of their yoga practice.

And as always, visit my Instagram for daily inspiration and feel free to message or email me (youniverseinyou@outlook.com) for your free Mindset Coaching Consultation.