Five Benefits of Meditation and How to Begin Practicing


Learning to train the mind through meditation for better focus, concentration and relaxation provides a host of benefits, both physical and mental. Just as we may practice a range of physical exercises to train our bodies and increase the level of difficulty as fitness improves, the same principle can be applied to meditation – start gently, increase the time and vary the practices as we become familiar with each exercise. Below we explain five of the benefits meditation will bring and how to begin practicing.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a group of exercises for the mind that are designed to improve focus, concentration and awareness. The continued practice of meditation develops mental clarity, emotional calm and stability and feelings of contentment and well-being.   There are a number of different ways to train the mind with meditation – mindfulness meditation, concentration meditation and visualization meditations – while each is slightly different, all types of meditation practice induce a relaxation response in our bodies, reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being.

Benefits of meditation

Heart health Daily meditation practice has been shown to improve our heart health; reducing blood pressure, improving circulation and reducing Lipid peroxide in our bodies. This compound is responsible for hardening arteries and causing atherosclerosis.

Boost the immune system Meditation works in two ways to boost the immune system, firstly activating the left side anterior part of our brains which is closely linked to the control of our immune system and secondly, boosting our production of immunoglobulins and T Cells – the immune systems ‘soldiers’ that seek out and annihilate bacteria, viruses and germs that cause illness.

Boosted memory function along with boosting the parts of our brain associated with our immune system, meditation also improves the brain’s function around memory. Meditation improves our cognitive ability by strengthening the connections in our brains and as such boosts memory.

Better Sleep People who practice daily meditation for ten minutes or more enjoy better sleep. Sleep is imperative for both our mental and physical health. Lack of sleep is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, difficulty managing stress and changes our brain chemistry in ways that are detrimental to our physical and mental health.

Reduce stress and manage anxiety Meditation cuts the cycle of stress and anxiety by decreasing cortisol levels, blood pressure and our respiratory rate. While meditation can’t reduce the occurrence of stressful situations in our life, it does modify the way we respond and increases our resilience to manage the emotions invoked by stressful situations.

How to start meditating

To begin meditating, start with short sessions of just 3 – 5 minutes long and gradually build up the amount of time you sit meditating for to 15 – 20 minutes each day. Some guided meditations can be downloaded onto a smartphone or other device for free and can help you get started. Many will allow you to adjust the time of each meditation so you can lengthen the sessions as you become more comfortable with the practice.

You’ll need a quiet place to sit and a timer (or recorded meditation). Choose a time each day that you won’t be disturbed – early mornings are great and can set you up for a happier day. Sit comfortably and start with some deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Keep your back straight, a soft focus to your gaze, and after around five breaths, gently close your eyes. Then focus on the in and out of your breathing as it returns to normal. Don’t worry about not thinking, simply return your focus to your breath each time you notice your mind has wandered. If you find it difficult to focus on your breath, try counting them, one for in, two for out, up to the count of ten and then begin again. Carry on like this for 3 – 5 minutes and leave the focus on the breath for around 10 seconds. Let your mind do as it pleases. After this, bring your focus back to your body, the weight of it pressing down on the floor, the sounds around you and even the smells, and gently open your eyes.

Meditation is as simple as that and needn’t be difficult. Just as other skills become easier with practice, so too will meditation. The benefits of meditation are so great that it make sense to begin today.

Written by Elise Morgan

Suggested Guided Meditations:

5-Minute Positive Mind Meditation

12-Minute Morning Gratitude Meditation

10-Minute Chakra Balance Meditation

5-Minutes To A More Productive, Joyful Day

Image by  Pexels

Image by Pexels

10 Positive Notes to Start the Day


10 Positive Notes to Start the Day

Grab a journal and light up an incense or a candle. Meditate on, reflect over and jot down these 10 Positive Notes to help set your intentions for a joyous day.

  1. Center yourself, release any fears, and move completely into faith. Tell the Universe you are ready.

  2. You can and deserve to stand tall.

  3. Leave the Ego out. Learn and create from the heart.

  4. Do not self-berate. Do not criticize, lament or judge. Just redirect your thoughts back to where your desired focus is.

  5. Do the work of exploring what you really want. Name it, affirm it, and claim it as though it’s already true.

  6. Your Power is Now.

  7. Invert all fear and turn it into Faith. Trust the inner and outer guidance to work in Harmony.

  8. Every part of you is important and full of possibilities.

  9. Be vulnerable. Acknowledge the feelings happening within you. Process them. Accept them.

  10. Let go of anything no longer serving you. Move up the frequency scale. The truth is: anything is possible.

Choose to do one or more of the items below to restore your spirit and bring yourself back into balance this week.

20 minutes of Yoga

5 Minute Guided Meditation

Epsom Salt Bath

24 Hour Social-Media Fast



Eight Hours of Sleep

Discover the Meaning of Thanksgiving from the Native American side

“For many of us, thinking about Thanksgiving makes us think of the First Thanksgiving between the Indians and the Pilgrims. There are many versions of this story though, but many of us know the one we are taught in school.  In 1621, America would have their very first Thanksgiving Dinner between the two different groups. Today it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. 

The very first Thanksgiving was to celebrate a treaty between the pilgrims and the Indians. This was a large feast that had enough food to feed everyone for weeks. On the table was foul such as geese, turkey, swans, duck, etc. There was also lots of meat, vegetables and grains provided by both the Indians and the pilgrims. Everyone had a wonderful celebration, and certainly a wonderful meal.  The Native Indians even signed a paper stating that the pilgrims had the right to Plymouth.

Thanksgiving to the Native American Indians may not mean the same thing that it did to the white settlers in American History.  To the Indians, Thanksgiving would mean a totally different thing. This was the beginning of their end - a time where they had given up their land in return for gifts that were full of disease - which would kill many of them later down the road. 

The White settlers would see this as a friendship being started, knowing that without the help of the Native American Indians, they would never have survived the rough winter.  It was a time of celebrating with family and friends and being thankful they were still around to do it.  Today, we celebrate it with our own family with turkey, yams and ham. 

Thanksgiving will always be remembered as a time when the Native American Indians and Pilgrims sat at a long table and ate together, sharing everything they had with one another.”

Food for thought: What does the holiday mean to you?

Original piece:

November Campaign: Native American Rights Fund

Not only is it more important than ever to dig into our nation’s history for clues, but recently our hearts have been called to help serve the voices of a people nearly forgotten. For the month of November and beyond we intend to spread awareness, raise voices and collectively work together to understand the Native American’s continuous battle for basic human rights. The Native American Rights Fund ‘is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.’ *

NARF’s Priorities Include:

  • Preserving Tribal Existence

  • Protecting Tribal Natural Resources

  • Promoting Native American Human Rights

  • Holding Governments Accountable To Native Americans

  • Developing Indian Law

  • Educating The Public About Indian Rights, Laws And Issues

In reflection, much of our nation is oddly asleep on the history, culture and frankly appalling foundation on which we stand. Where we are exposed to everyday mascots (literally and figuratively speaking) the miss on Indigenous loss speaks volumes to the systems we abide by today. Treading carefully with politics, we admit that even our ignorance gets the very best of us at times. Selling dreamcatchers and arrowhead jewelry for profit, falling into seemingly dire trends and using alarming keywords for return investments. Although we cannot argue our complete innocence, we can create a dialog for change.

The atrocities that continue to push the Original peoples of America into the ground need to be brought to light. We cannot change history nor do our apologies make change for it, but we can spark positive thinking and create a wave of awareness that will wash up on the shores of what is good and what is right.

How Can You Help?

Have a conversation. Ask a friend, family member, co-worker or mentor what they remember about Native American history. Talk about the things you were taught in school and inform yourselves of the chronicled events that brought us to present day. Below are some great resources for quick reads and informative narratives. Speak about how it makes you feel. Imagine how it must feel/must have felt for Native Americans. Understand there are two sides to every story. Explore these ideas and see what kind of understanding, compassion and enlightenment it brings you, if any.

Consider sharing our blog and campaign to spread our words and thoughts and hopefully assist in directing realization, recognition and an eagerness for change.


Want to chat but don’t know how to spark that conversation? Drop your thoughts and questions below!

Mental Health Awareness: Facts and Resources


JUNE CAMPAIGN: Mental Health Awareness

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan. Learn about and share the facts of mental health and treatment options available.


  • One in five American adults experience a mental health issue.

  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression.

  • One in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

  • Each year, serious mental illnesses cost the U.S. almost $200 billion in lost earnings.

  • Members of the LGBTQ community are twice as likely as straight individuals to have a mental health condition.

  • 50.5% of adults in the U.S. who have had a problem with substance abuse also suffer from mental illness.

  • The rate of mental health disorders doubles for those who have been to war or lived through a major disaster.

  • People with a mental health issue are generally nonviolent. In fact, only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with a serious mental illness.

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.

  • Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

  • Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

  • Many people do not seek treatment for mental illness due to the associated stigma. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment.

  • Less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

  • Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including: Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry. Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse. Family history of mental health problems.

  • Treatment for mental health problems vary depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both and and holistic treatments such as yoga and meditation. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.

#NeverApologize #EndTheStigma


Mental Health Screening

Stress Test

Finding Therapy

Art Therapy





Love Free Movement Mobile Boutique and Our Feud with the City of Denver


The first time I drove a step van was actually hilarious and pretty embarrassing. I’m circling around a half dirt, half concrete parking lot leaning hard into the turns with a group of spectators’ heads moving simultaneously as I made my rounds. Dirt flying into the air as I hit the brakes, hard. 

I can honestly say to this day that I have no idea what the hell I was thinking creating a mobile business out of a converted fed-ex truck! I would actually really love to know what I was thinking. It must be a combination of millennialism topped off with a graphic design degree, a little bit of savings money, one fuck-the-system attitude. Throw in some Pinterest DIY tutorials and the rest is history.

I can also honestly say that although this journey has been unexpected and hard, it has been so beautiful, too. I have learned a lot about myself and have watched strangers around me become unique friends. I have been humbled by the art of business. Most importantly I think I have grown. I am very thankful for that.

While I do feel hope for the future of this business, there are certain realities that need to be faced. So that’s what I will do is be very real with you. If you are reading this, that means that in some way you have support for this business and I honestly can’t thank you enough for that. What we have experienced with the city of Denver and the Denver City Council has been impactful and frankly pretty sad and sour. I truly built this business on a dream and if you’ve ever pursued a passion of yours then you might know that broken dreams can break your heart. I have felt at times that powers out of my control have been detrimental to this business and this dream and now we need your support, your ear and your voice to help us continue the movement that we started.


A quick backstory:

In June of 2016 the City of Denver issued an ordinance on fashion trucks due to the nonexistent permit for our business model. Simply put, there was no permit for mobile retailers and they had no idea what to do with us. So I get it,  you’re a brick-and-mortar - you pay rent, lights, heat, overhead costs, and way too many taxes and you see this truck roll-up, take what may or may not be your business and to all appearances pull away without facing the various challenges and charges that you face on that same block. I get it, I honestly do. That’s not fair. In no way do I want our business to hurt other businesses. But we firmly believe that a thriving city should have room for both structures of trade. We actually freeze our asses off in a tin box because no, we don’t pay heat. But we do pay our taxes. We give a healthy portion of our earnings to a city that seemingly doesn’t even want us.

For over one year we sat between emails with city employees, conversations with other truck owners, getting kicked off multiple public streets, a few articles were written. We waited and watched our businesses become out-of-sight, out-of-mind - hoping that there would soon be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll never forget the feeling of hating myself for not being able to make this dream become a more sustainable reality.

Our silver lining was being able to take a deep breath and a step back from the business to have some amazing experiences. Traveling, purchasing a home, playing for a women’s tackle football team, celebrating my now wife, co-owner, biggest supporter and best listener, Bianca. Being with family, celebrating holidays. Just a life without the stressful weight and what-ifs. It was important to take a minute to heal-up.

Now, after taking some time to refocus, the City of Denver has finally handed us a retail truck permit through a ‘pilot program’ that essentially makes doing business in Denver impossible for us and several other traveling shop owners. They want us to re-convert our truck with a side opening and an ADA compliant entrance. They require written permission from the same people who had us kicked out of these areas to come back to these areas and they left us with very limited situations that would coincide with their parking restrictions. Basically they copy and pasted various regulations onto a word doc, slapped their logo on it and proceeded to consign us into oblivion.


At this time and place, I don’t see a sustainable future in Denver. They have proven to us that our business doesn’t matter as much as others and despite the rapid growth the city is undergoing, they are still unable to welcome innovative ideas and legislation that many other cities have already accomplished.

At 26 years old, I often feel so very young and naive on this entire journey. But I never knew how much creating something like this would mean to me. All of the time, thought, money, effort and dedication that has gone into this business could vanish if we don’t find growth somewhere new. Despite some of these crippling circumstances, we are not ready to give up yet.

With your help, word of mouth, sharing our website, links, story and blog. Telling your favorite Aunt Beth about our shop maybe passing an idea along to someone who would want to host us, helping us spread our mission - that is the most positive impact we could ask for. 

The hope is that several years from now, two young girls will come along with the idea of opening a mobile boutique and the road will already be paved.





EDIT: This post was written, re-written, re-read and edited over the last several months. We just got around to finally sharing our side of the story because of the significance that processing this whole mess has had on us. The only thing I would add or change here is that this hasn’t been a feud at all. See, the definition of the word feud is: a mutual enmity or quarrel that is often prolonged or inveterate. This has not been mutual and our voices have not yet been heard. We are hoping that changes today with the help of our family and friends. 

To learn more, share our story and shop our collection visit

Thanks for reading.


Written by Anna Klausmeyer

Soul Dog Rescue

Our October Campaign, Soul Dog Rescue, is near and dear to our hearts. Our 7 year old red heeler/collie mix was rescued from San Antonio after living outdoors, being shot and never receiving the human care that she so deserved. After rescue, rehabilitation and the loving guidance of Soul Dog Rescue, sweet Alice made her way into our life and changed our hearts forever!

Similar to many small businesses and organizations, Soul Dog has faced some hard ships from losing unhealthy animals to facing regulations put into place by people who do NOT work alongside these animals. We ask that you join us in nominating them for a $2,500 business grant by simply voting at the link below!

Click on the VOTE button and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will see a form for submitting your vote. Read through the additional categories and vote for your favorites including Soul Dog Care. Winners are announced on Thanksgiving Day.

If you are interested in adopting, fostering or volunteering, please consider going through Soul Dog Rescue.

Learn More.

Let's Work!

Get in touch // drop a line

for anything custom!

We have been working small, custom jobs since the beginning of our small business adventure. We love getting to know our clients and bringing them the freshest home decor and apparel items on the block. Hit us up for a quote and allow us to bring your visions to life!


  • Custom Apparel
  • Canvas Paintings
  • Jewelry
  • Candles
  • Prayer Flags
  • Prints + Digital Art
  • Mystery Apparel Group Orders
  • Mystery Kits
Name *

Fashion Truck Regulation

Crain's photo by Paul Karolyi

Crain's photo by Paul Karolyi

Since our peak season in June of 2016, we have had run-ins with the city regarding fashion truck permits and regulations. Because of this stand-still we have been unable to fully operate the business that we spent much time and dedication creating. Now, news sources are beginning to take notice of the unusual regression, writing about our collective experiences as mobile boutique owners. With our busy season just around the corner, we are beginning to push with more urgency that the city works to help us all get back on the roads sooner than later.


Please read and share this write-up by our friends at Denver Style Magazine:


Please read and share this informative article by Crains Denver:

Please share these articles, blog pages and other sources to support the creative community that has grown so well here in Denver. It's time to bring innovation and mobility to our beautiful city. 

Stand with Standing Rock

The Fight Is Not Over: Standing Rock

December was #NoDAPL Month of Action. We have all come to know the appalling events unfolding over the Dakota Access Pipeline construction routed through the water of Lake Oahe along the Missouri River. This water provides life for the Dakota and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline threatens the growth, development, and preservation of the sacred Indigenous land. It is our duty as Americans to respect Native lands and stand behind the sovereignty and sacredness they represent. 

The pipeline was rerouted from the town of Bismarck - a 90% caucasian community - to avoid threatening water sources. The pipeline was rerouted through burial sites, next to graves and sacred tombs. The 3.9 billion dollar pipeline was rerouted through a community where the majority of citizens struggle to pay for heat and electricity in harsh, life-threatening winters. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not opposed to economic development or energy independence. For over 200 years - they have been opposed to oppression. 

Time and time again, we have been forced to look at a deeply painful American history. Now is the time for us to accept our responsibilities, rise up, come together. We must use peaceful and honest protest and prayer to learn how to make America thrive for all of its people.

This month and every month we stand with Standing Rock.


Factual education and allocation is the first step in overcoming our misconceptions of many world issues we face today. We must feel compelled to dig further into these issues for our own understanding and for the betterment of others. Please visit and share these resources that come from the very heart of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Please guide yourself to learn more about the community and the complexities that our fellow Americans are facing.  |

The next step in correcting our path is to become proactive for our Native American community. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been fought by the Sioux Tribe since 2014. This is reaction. Connect with your local tribes, enlighten yourself on a rich, diverse, and wise culture and most importantly - give your additional time, money and compassion to the well being of a righteous people that are so often forgotten.

Find Your Local Tribe

It is a beautiful thing to see so many allies come together for such a powerful cause. There are many opportunities to make an impact. Please visit, share and invest in the stories and resources that are fueling momentum and strength for the #NoDAPL movement. 


Sign A Letter To President Obama

President Obama: Thank you for temporarily halting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Please respect Indigenous lives, their sacred waters and our precious climate and permanently reject this pipeline.


Understanding Banks Behind Pipelines

It is time to create conversations and actions that result in positive change.


Go To Standing Rock - Camp Etiquette

Dear Allies: Standing rock IS NOT: a photo op, a resume builder, a business opportunity or a festival. This is a sacred struggle in need of peace, prayer, wisdom and togetherness.


Supply List

Use trustworthy and localized resources to navigate camps, understand needs and bring the appropriate supplies to the front lines.


Oceti Sakowin Camp Wishlist

Sacred Stone Camp Amazon Wishlist

10% of our total proceeds from December will go directly towards purchasing items listed on the Sacred Stone Camp Amazon Wishlist.


Vets at Standing Rock

Standing Rock Compost Toilet Initiative


Follow these social media pages for trustworthy and up-to-date resources:

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Sacred Stone Camp

Oceti Sakowin Camp




People of many faiths, backgrounds and religions are uniting through prayer in unprecedented ways. No matter your belief system, please unite with us in lifting words for our fellow man and woman fighting on the front lines for Mother Earth and Her precious resources.


Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give; 
Never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
Never to deny our hands for the building of earth's beauty; 
Never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand;
That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion; 
That to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;
That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench; 
That as we care for her she will care for us.
We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst,
Help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution, 
Help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.
Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse, 
Help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed, 
Help us to find a way to replenish them.
Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption, 
Help us to find the way to restore our humanity.
Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, 
Whose breath gives life to the world, hear me; 
I need your strength and wisdom. May I walk in Beauty.

- Unknown


Grandfather Great Spirit -
All over the world the faces of living ones are alike.
With tenderness they have come up out of the ground
Look upon your children that they may face the winds
And walk the good road to the Day of Quiet.
Grandfather Great Spirit -
Fill us with the Light.
Give us the strength to understand, and the eyes to see.
Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.

 - Sioux Prayer


Oh Great Spirit who dwells in the sky, 
lead us to the path of peace and understanding, 
let all of us live together as brothers and sisters.
Our lives are so short here, walking upon Mother Earth's surface, 
let our eyes be opened to all the blessings you have given us. 
Please hear our prayers, Oh Great Spirit.

 - Native American Prayer


Treat the earth well.  We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

 - Native American Proverb


Mother, Father to you I raise -
My whole being, a vessel, emptied of self.
Accept, my Creator, this my emptiness
And so fill me with your Light, your Love, your Life -
That these, your precious Gifts may radiate through me
And overflow the chalice of all I come in contact with this day.
Revealing to them the beauty of your joy and Wholeness
And the serenity of your peace.

- The Prayer of the Vessel


This is the Earth, healed again, growing green and blue. 
I want you to remember this exactly as it is, 
and then go and tell the people that if enough of us hold this image in their minds, 
we can heal the Earth and make it like it was a long time ago.

 - Grandfather Rolling Thunder, Cherokee Medicine Elder


You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers.
So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our Mother.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground they spit upon themselves.

This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.
This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.

 - Chief Seattle

2nd Annual Blessing Bag Fundraiser

AUGUST CAMPAIGN: 2nd Annual Blessing Bag Fundraiser


Welcome back to the second year of our Blessing Bag Fundraiser!

For the month of August we are asking for your generous donations to help us create over 200 blessing bags to hand out to those in need in Denver and surrounding communities.

Blessing Bags are care packages that contain several useful products such as:


  • Bottled Water
  • Crackers
  • Granola Bar
  • Sunscreen
  • Lipbalm
  • Hand Lotion
  • Wet Wipes
  • Hat
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Bandanna
  • Poncho
  • Comb
  • Soap
  • ToothPaste / Toothbrush
  • Handwarmers
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • NotePad
  • Pencil
  • Change for Bus Fare
  • Local shelter map with telephone numbers
  • Etc.

As we drive and park our mobile boutique around the city, we constantly come in contact with individuals who are in need of these basic items. We all know that gut wrenching feeling when pulling up to a red light and not having loose change to give to someone holding an 'anything helps' sign on the curb. Blessing Bags help turn this moment into something positive and almost everybody is extremely grateful and receptive.

The more money we raise, the more bags we can make, the more people will be able to receive a small act of kindness. Help us take a small step forward in giving back to our beautiful community!

Visit our GoFundMe page to make a contribution today!





Comments | Questions | Suggestions

Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives.

Drug abuse and addiction have negative consequences for individuals and for society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately $193 billion for illicit drugs,1 $193 billion for tobacco,2 and $235 billion for alcohol.3 As staggering as these numbers are, they do not fully describe the breadth of destructive public health and safety implications of drug abuse and addiction, such as family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, and child abuse.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.

Fortunately, treatments are available to help people counter addiction’s powerful disruptive effects. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient’s drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug abuse.

Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. And as with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure—rather, it indicates that treatment should be reinstated or adjusted or that an alternative treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.

What Happens to Your Brain When You Take Drugs?

Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs cause this disruption: (1) by imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers and (2) by overstimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain.

Some drugs (e.g., marijuana and heroin) have a similar structure to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. This similarity allows the drugs to “fool” the brain’s receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages.

Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine) or to prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signaling between neurons. The result is a brain awash in dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in brain regions that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this reward system, which normally responds to natural behaviors linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc.), produces euphoric effects in response to psychoactive drugs. This reaction sets in motion a reinforcing pattern that “teaches” people to repeat the rewarding behavior of abusing drugs.

As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. The result is a lessening of dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit, which reduces the abuser’s ability to enjoy not only the drugs but also other events in life that previously brought pleasure. This decrease compels the addicted person to keep abusing drugs in an attempt to bring the dopamine function back to normal, but now larger amounts of the drug are required to achieve the same dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance.

Long-term abuse causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that influences the reward circuit and the ability to learn. When the optimal concentration of glutamate is altered by drug abuse, the brain attempts to compensate, which can impair cognitive function. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Together, these changes can drive an abuser to seek out and take drugs compulsively despite adverse, even devastating consequences—that is the nature of addiction.

Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Do Not?

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology. The genes that people are born with—in combination with environmental influences—account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.
  • Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person’s life.
  • Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because areas in their brains that govern decision making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.

Prevention Is the Key

Drug addiction is a preventable disease. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. Thus, education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse. Teachers, parents, and medical and public health professionals must keep sending the message that drug addiction can be prevented if one never abuses drugs.

Other Information Sources

For information on understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see our booklet, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior—The Science of Addiction.

For more information on prevention, please visit our Prevention information page.

For more information on treatment, please visit our Treatment information page.

To find a publicly funded treatment center in your State, please call 1-800-662-HELP or visit


  1. National Drug Intelligence Center (2011). The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Justice. Available at:, 2.4MB)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Available at: (PDF 1.4MB).
  3. Rehm, J., Mathers, C., Popova, S., Thavorncharoensap, M., Teerawattananon Y., Patra, J. Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet, 373(9682):2223–2233, 2009.



This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

An Open Letter To All Women

First and foremost we owe you a generous thank you. If you are reading this that means we have successfully beat the millions of advertisements for beauty products, work out clothing, accessories, yoga pants, shoes, career possibilities, political agendas and ‘people you may know’ at getting your bold, beautiful mind focused on exactly what we have to say. What you will find here is none of those things, however. Because while many companies, establishments and individuals may be bent on telling you what you need to buy or say or do or be to improve upon yourself, we are here to simply say that we think you are wonderful - just the way you are.

In a world that seems to be continually folding under violence, hate and fear, it is more important than ever for us to stand up - together - and continue breaking the barriers that have been placed before us. For your reassurance, this is not a political or controversial letter. This is not a “To-Do” list or a bash session on men, either. This is simply a letter to tell you that you are doing absolutely fucking fantastic. You are doing great! You are a creation of purpose, love and beauty. In this exact moment of time, you are everything you are supposed to be. Keep going, keep fighting, keep loving and learning and struggling and surviving and succeeding and I promise you that wonderful things will fall into place. Wonderful things will happen in your life.

Ladies: despite your background, your ethnicity, your religion, your job, martial status, political views, heath or habits, flaws or perfections - we all simply want the same things out of life. We all want happiness, success, love and respect. We all want to be admired and find people we can admire in return. We all want to be seen and appreciated for exactly who we are. That much is clear. But ladies, know this, too: there is no reason that one woman's success is the equivalent of anothers’ failure. There is no reason that one woman's achievements can't be an achievement for all of us. There is no reason that we can’t go further in life by helping others pursue their goals rather than pushing them aside to pursue our own. Know that there is a time, a place and an opportunity for all of us to accomplish our dreams. Know that we can collectively push the boundaries, open minds and break barriers. Know that you CAN and you MAY think for yourself - despite what the world is constantly telling you. Most importantly, know that you are not alone. And for those days that feel heavy, like the entire world is against you - know that we are here encouraging you to keep going. We believe in the idea that history is being created everyday by women just like you and me. We believe in the power of togetherness, mindfulness and hope. Mostly, though, we believe in you.

So, as Woman’s History Month comes to an end, I encourage you to do just one thing: find the light in the women around you. Be inspired by other’s stories, triumphs and defeats. Learn more about how you can push others towards their goals and be an open ear or shoulder for those who need it, as we all sometimes do. By doing this, we not only strengthen our respect for one another, but we open doors for others and ourselves. Humility and kindness are some of the strongest qualities we can put out into the universe. And with all of the negative energy constantly fighting for our attention, it is no doubt that true, honest and real change start with belief in one another.

This is an open and honest letter to you, the woman finding her place in this world; to the student, to the teacher, to the 9 - 5er, the overnighter, the businesswoman, the janitor, the coach, the lawyer, the hairstylist, construction worker, fashionista and military troop.  To the nurses, doctors, athletes, artists, musicians, dancers, authors, poets. To the mothers, homemakers, sisters, cousins, aunties and grandmas. To the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the grocery store clerks. To the travelers, free spirits, and the shy girls. Whether you’re left or right, big or small, black or white, young or old, lost or found, whether you wear tennis shoes or high heels, dirty jeans or mini skirts, whether you wear make-up or not - know: you are beautiful, purposeful, inspiring, intelligent and completely adored. 

Thank you for being you.


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