"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." ~ Marianne Williamson

Friday, October 28, 2011

Meet our Inspirational Person of the Month: Maritza Melendez

See, Believe, & Achieve Inspirational Person of the Month
Maritza Melendez, Arrives in Washington, D.C. to embark on the grueling 26.2 mile run of her life!

Stay tuned for the upcoming post about Maritza Melendez, who will be running in this year's Run for Wounded Warrior's Marathon in support of wounded warriors like herself. After a severe back injury led to an extensive surgery, doctors informed her that she could possibly never walk again, much less run. Six months later, this former U.S. Marine, mother of two, personal fitness trainer, and certified nutritionist is just two days away from proving the nay sayers wrong. Please join me in wishing Maritza good luck as she pursues her goal to finish the 26.2 mile race with a personal goal to finish in 4-hours! She truly is an inspirational person whose story embodies what it means to See, Believe, & Achieve!

Please join me in supporting Maritza and our wounded warriors by visiting her page and donating to this great cause! http://www.active.com/donate/teamazalea2011/mmelend11

Inspirational Person of The Month

It has been a busy few weeks for me and in the brief moments between work and rehearsals for an upcoming musical I'm in (phew!), I have found myself reflecting on the people that keep me motivated. I was inspired to include a monthly post featuring inspirational people I have met (and will continue to meet) along my journey, who have moved me to be better, work harder, and stay positive. The human spirit is so powerful and surrounding yourself with positive people is essential to good mental health.

I love people and nothing keeps me going than someone who has overcome a difficult situation in their life or encompasses such a passion towards life, that it pushes me to continue moving forward. The people who live to inspire and motivate others are true celebrities to me. Regular folks making a difference. Now that's something worth writing about!

I'm excited about introducing you to the upcoming individuals each month and hope you find a message of hope and motivation to get you through your own journey!

Stay tuned....

Big hugs,
Ane :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S for Mental Health!

Well, thanks to Gwen Stefani's song "Hollaback Girl" I will forever know how to correctly spell the word banana. This fruit is my favorite of all time, not only because it tastes great, but it is one of the best brain foods. Bananas contain Tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that converts to Serotonine. Seretonine is what affects our mood, causing us to feel happy (high serotinine) or sad (low serotonine). During my talks about mental health, I constantly refer to the term Serotonine, which serves as the base in helping to send out signals to various parts of the brain. Although Serotonine is developed in the brain the majority of it is stored in our digestive tract. This is just another reason why eating healthy is so important not only for your physical health, but mental health as well. So back to why bananas are rad. The Tryptophan found in bananas is also found in turkey and other protein foods. Tryptophan is associated with that sleepy feeling you get after that big Thanksgiving dinner. I tell ya, share this info at the dinner table this year and your potential in-laws will think you're the smarty pants they were hoping their son/daughter would always find!

Personally, I love bananas and have found them to be beneficial not just to my mental health, but also physical health. In prepping for Miss America and that pesky swimsuit portion of competition, I ate at least five bananas a day. Not only are they good for your mental health, but also help with weight loss and insomnia. Feeling a little puffy? Eat a banana. Had a little too much to drink during that Sunday night football game and your head is pounding? Slice a banana in your cereal. The list goes on and on! So the next time you're having a bad day and need an extra boost, instead of reaching for that can of soda or candy bar- try eating a banana first and see how you feel.

Now, who would have thought a simple fruit would have such great benefits? Maybe a banana a day is what really keeps the doctor away? Hmmmm....now maybe that's something that would make Gwen sing, "This shhhh is bananas...B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

PS- Check out this great link that tells you a little more about how awesome bananas are- Going Bananas

With love,
Ane :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"There's never a right way to do the wrong thing"

Mayor/Coach Henry O. Sanchez and I at the annual New Mexico Highlands University Alumni Banquet,
Las Vegas, NM

Blog song of the Day: "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

It's almost time for me to board a plane to my home state of New Mexico and I'm counting down the minutes! In exactly 24-hours I will be giving a free mental health/suicide prevention training in my hometown of Las Vegas, NM.

In 2004, I read an alarming statistic that New Mexico ranked within the top five states for suicide rates. This raised a sudden sense of urgency within me. I didn't know how this issue was going to be addressed, but all I knew was that someone, anyone, had to do something. My parents were currently living in Houston, TX so I immediately drove to the one place and person who I knew would care as much as I did, and had the power to do something. Pulling up in my 1988 red Nissan Sentra (primmered on the side). I parked my car at City Hall and walked in to visit Mayor Henry O. Sanchez, (nationally recognized basketball coach and living legend). He and my father were good friends, so I grew to learn that the man everyone called coach was also one of the most interesting, honest, and true humans I'd ever met. Many knew and admired him for his coaching skills. So many more know him for the sense of hope he instilled within them to succeed and be more. When he ran for political office, I was excited. When he won for mayor of my hometown of Las Vegas, NM- I adopted him as my mentor. I payed great attention to his demeanor and the many ways he always led with honor. His favorite saying was, "there's never a right way to do the wrong thing." I was serving as Student Body President of my University during this time and so naturally when I needed advice, I'd stop by (always without an appointment) and he'd lend an ear. After learning about the suicide rates in New Mexico, I knew he'd be able to help provide me with some ideas. Informing him about The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program, I told him that someone from the community needed to get trained. He sat in silence for a few seconds then looked up and said, "you're absolutely right! That someone is you!" Without even thinking about my answer, I agreed. His only stipulation was that he would pay for me to travel to Colorado and get trained, but I had to promise him I'd return and train the entire community. I agreed again. As I stood to leave his office, I looked back and there he sat smiling back at me. While at that moment I knew nothing about suicide prevention, I knew letting the Mayor down was not an option. Little did I know that from that moment on, my life would forever change and I would soon find my purpose and passion.

Getting trained in suicide prevention is the greatest thing I could have ever done. It is the love of my life and something I have committed to do forever, with hopes that one day suicide will become non-existent. Since becoming trained, I have kept my promise and every year it is an honor to travel back to New Mexico to train my community. The opportunity Mayor Sanchez gave me some years ago, is something that has blessed me over and over again, through the people I have met, places I have visited, and so much more! My work in suicide prevention set the tone for my educational and professional career. This year, I completed my Masters Degree in Public Affairs-with my thesis focusing on mental health policy. Today, I live and work in Washington, DC working on critical national mental health policy.

A few weeks ago, I was deeply saddened to hear that Mayor Henry O. Sanchez passed away. The thought of him being gone, immediately fills my eyes with tears and a lump in my throat. I'm grateful for the chance to have met him. I'm even more humbled he took me under his wing. Some often wonder how I can work in the area of suicide prevention and mental health. The question I get the most is, "how can someone so happy work in such an area filled with sadness?" Well, for me it makes sense. I love life! I believe in mental health. I have seen the positive ways it can help others. Most importantly it saves lives. Living your life at your full potential is a message Mayor Sanchez worked throughout his life to share with anyone he encountered. Mental health and suicide prevention are part of the belief that no one should ever believe that this world would be a better place without them. We all have a purpose in life. Each day we are given is one more opportunity to have a positive impact on someone else and the communities in which we live. The loss of Mayor/Coach Henry O. Sanchez, serves as a reminder that life itself is short enough as it is, so while we are here we might as well make the most of it. If you ever find yourself in a situation and don't know which path to choose, remember that, "there's never a right way to do the wrong thing." Be well my friends and hope to see you all soon. May the man that so many of us loved and respected rest in peace. You will be missed.

With love,
Ane :)