In honor of Women’s History Month, The CBD Department and Aravinda Yoga & Natural Healing are using March to highlight empowered women who are using their strength, knowledge and heart to bring something special to the world around them. And in order to help them continue to send good vibes out into the universe, The CBD Department is helping guide these women through a journey into CBD – optimizing their physical, emotional & mental abilities and #creatingbetterdaze!
Elise K., 29 – Social Worker, Alaskan Adventurer
It is no wonder that Elise ended up pursuing a career in social work. “As a kid, I always sought out the lonely kids and tried to connect with them.” Simply put, a social worker is someone who helps others cope with the challenges they are facing in their lives and advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves. But social work is far from simple. Their work environment, patient load and work schedule can change daily. They fight social injustice and provide support to those suffering from drug and alcohol addictions, mental health disease and financial difficulty. “Two trips to El Salvador taught me the amazing resiliency of humans and the goodness that comes from true compassion. My passion for human connection blossomed through work with individuals experiencing homelessness. I wanted to reduce stigma and provide opportunities for healing.” Now Elise runs a residential treatment program in Seward, Alaska, often reminding herself and her clients that humans are resilient, capable of navigating their mental health challenges, and are always striving to achieve a meaningful life. She says her favorite part of her job is “simply being with people, watching their growth and healing processes – each one is so unique.”
By the time she made it to Alaska, Elise had already done her fair share of exploring the United States. She was born and raised in Connecticut, spent time in Boston and Colorado and then moved to Alaska in 2017. And Elise is very honest about how she made it there. “The raw truth is that I followed a seasonal fisherman from Colorado to Alaska – a decision I laugh about, but do not regret in any way! After finishing graduate school, I figured I’d take a summer to explore Alaska before diving into a career. I ended up falling head over heels in love with the land and staying.” In truth, Elise had always dreamt of the adventure, wilderness and Northern Lights in Alaska. She currently lives within the Kenai Fjords National Park. She says that literally every day, stepping out her door is an adventure – “surrounded by larger-than-life mountains, where glaciers are abundant, wildlife is ever present and people truly rely on the earth to support their lives.” Immersing herself in this environment, so vastly different from Connecticut, has taught her to embrace the resources around her, to appreciate the Earth for everything it provides and to love the Alaskan people for everything they have shared with her. And Elise has taken full advantage of being surrounded by these natural wonders – salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay, traversing glaciers and ice caves, eavesdropping on orca whales from the rocky shore and snowshoe tracking snow lynx through the wilderness. And she does all of this exploring with her sidekick Turtle, a resilient therapy dog. Turtle had been found living in the storm drain of a Taco Bell in New Mexico with a broken leg when Elise decided to foster him. Now, officially adopted, he has hiked more trails in Alaska than most humans.
All of this time learning to appreciate our planet, it’s population and it’s natural wonders has taught Elise a few lessons. But most importantly, “Don’t hesitate – if something is calling to you, listen.” She continues, “I think I’ve made several decisions in my 20s that people around me questioned. Though perceived as risky by some- like moving far away from home without a lot of support – I made these decisions based on feelings that lived deep in my bones. They just felt right. I can’t really explain how, but I knew they would lead to growth.” And they did.
Elise’s biggest challenge when it comes to her profession is the struggle to make time for her own self-care. But she says it is so essential. “Listen to your body, especially when it comes to mental health – there is no ‘one size fits all’ therapeutic approach. It is important to find your own path to wellness. If you feel tired, allow yourself to rest. If you feel energized, use that energy. The connection between mind, body, and spirit is powerful.” As many in her industry know, it is much easier to preach self-care than to practice it ourselves and it is a common weakness amongst healthcare workers. But she says “in order to be helpful to others, my job requires that I can show up as my best self.” Elise has always been an avid runner and says that running up and down mountains of Alaska is the best stress reliever she knows. But running and hiking through this landscape can certainly lead to sore muscles and joints. She also knows the restorative power of sleep as an essential part of self-care and believes that CBD may help her to promote healthier sleeping patterns.
Colleen Q., 29 – Jiu Jitsu Brown Belt, Three Guys & Cider Manager
During the day, Colleen works her 9-5 job as an administrative assistant to the VP of procurement department for a global chemical company. Like many, the pandemic left Colleen working from home, which has been an adjustment for her but one that she is using to her advantage. She says “It allows me to have more time to myself and to focus on improving aspects of my life that I may not have had time to in the past.” It also allows Colleen to focus her attention on her passions outside of work – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Three Guys & Cider podcast. And she is continuing to learn about herself and grow through these endeavors as well. She says “I’m trying to learn to not let pressure get to me. It’s okay to make mistakes and have fun while making them, not everything has to be perfect. Jiu Jitsu has definitely taught me to be humble and learn from my mistakes and working with the 3 Guys has taught me that being goofy and having fun can really turn into something amazing.”
Colleen took her first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with a friend, who’s brother Adrian had been practicing for years. “I went into class not knowing anything about the sport and was overwhelmed with how intense, but also how welcoming it was.” She found her first experience with Jiu Jitsu intimidating, but also intriguing. Over time she completely immersed herself in the sport. She says ”seeing these bad ass women show up every day and not just hang with the guys but also beat up on them too was so empowering. Training with men can sometimes be a double-edged sword.” She says there will be guys who go too easy on her – because she is a girl – and then those who go too hard – because they don’t want to get beat by a girl. “It’s taken a while, but I’ve found it’s important to learn from every roll and try to take something from it. If a guy is going ‘too easy’ on you then you have to prove them wrong and if a guy is going ‘too hard’ then it’s time to step up your game.” And Colleen has proven that she can roll with the best of them. She received her brown belt in March, a huge accomplishment for anyone in the Jiu Jitsu community. The brown belt is the forth in five basic levels of achievement, and is often a time used to refine techniques. Students progress through the belt system by demonstrating determination and consistency, improvement their performance and developing technique. “Being one step away from by black belt honestly feels a little daunting. It’s so easy to doubt yourself and feel non-deserving, but when I look back, I’ve put 7 years of hard work into learning this art and it’s nice to know that my instructors and training partners feel like its an achievement that I’ve earned.”
And somehow Colleen still finds the time to coordinate and oversee the development of The Three Guys & Cider podcast – her now fiancé Adrian’s show, who is also a Jiu Jitsu black belt and instructor. She says “I like to call myself the Three Guys & Cider manager/babysitter!” They host a podcast following 3 Guys – Adrian, Pat and AJ – around the world tasting ciders, talking with cidermakers and connecting with the cider community. The group did a cross-over episode with Jeff and The CBD Department back in July of 2020! She says the 3 Guys have so much fun drinking and learning from the cidermakers but someone needs to be responsible for making sure everything is being recorded and observed from an outside perspective. That’s Colleen’s job. “Adrian’s always been a dreamer – which is one of my favorite qualities he has. When he came up with this idea, I had no idea it would take off like it did.” Colleen handles the logistics, planning and facilitation of Adrian’s big ideas. She is responsible for the group’s logo designs, making & selling t-shirts, video handling and Instagram marketing. Plus, Colleen has her own cider social media page called @ciderunited. The account was originally started by Adrian and is used to re-share content from existing cideries, cidermakers, cider reviews and cider enthusiasts. But Colleen’s main goal with this page is “to bring attention to the inspiring people in the cider community.”
Colleen is excited to explore CBD as a supplement to her training, especially to aide in recovery. “After every night of training, there’s always something that’s bothering me. It’s often hard to sleep because of back or neck pain.” Colleen knows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory and sleep promoting properties can be of huge benefit to her. Follow Colleen’s journey with the CBD Department to see how incorporating CBD into her routine will hopefully help her to wake up feeling ready to get back on the mat to train all over again!
Denise S., 28 – Registered COVID Nurse, Nurse Practitioner Student
Much like our last Woman of the Week, this woman’s profession is in her blood. Denise dreamed to grow up to be a nurse, and to help people like her Mom did as a registered nurse. Denise – coined the “Queen of Calm” by her coworkers – has been working on her unit for 5 years and serves as a preceptor, or a nurse who trains new orientees to work on her remote telemetry floor. The benefit of a positive, intelligent and calming coworker is indispensable on an acute care unit. She generally cares for patients with issues ranging from minor surgery to complications of drug and alcohol abuse to elderly patients with dementia. And currently Denise is studying to become a family nurse practitioner. She explains “nurses carry out the treatment plans for their patients, while nurse practitioners have the ability to create those treatment plans. I want to be a healthcare provider that helps educate on good health strategies to prevent them from getting sick, rather than treating patients when they are already sick.” Denise is a huge advocate of a healthy lifestyle and preventative medicine, hopefully ensuring patients don’t need her care in the hospital.
But by the end of March, the world turned upside down and Denise’s unit was transitioned to a COVID isolation unit, so she and her colleagues suddenly found themselves responsible for some of the hospital’s sickest patients. The most critical who “want everything done” go to the Critical Care Unit. The rest go to Denise’s unit – some of whom have decided that they want nothing more than to be made comfortable. Generally when one chooses a nursing career, it is with a passion for helping others to recover so they can return home stronger. Denise remembers, “but with COVID, it was hardest for me to watch patients fight so hard, only to get sicker and sicker. Vicarious pain is traumatic, and is something that a lot of my coworkers and I struggled with during the pandemic.” COVID nurses know the difficulty of watching their patients struggle without their family support systems due to the contagious nature of the virus, so these nurses often stepped in to replace that support as much as possible – soothing them as their condition worsens or holding their hand as they passed. She says “we have to use our patience and resilience to help our patients be patient and resilient too.” But the impact of this environment on a healthcare worker is indescribable. For nurses struggling to cope in the pandemic, there are free resources like The Emotional PPE Project that offer therapy to first responders. Denise has used this resource and says that connecting with others that share similar experiences can be relieving, reassuring and much less isolating. She reminds all of this that you are not alone, we are all in this together.
According to Denise, in order to deal with this unprecedented situation that turned the world on its head, it is so important to find the things that make you feel like you again. She says “I learned to listen to what my mind needed, and what my heart wanted on a moment to moment basis, rather than worry about being 10 steps ahead of myself.” So what made Denise feel like herself changed often, and she honored that. “During the pandemic, I kept myself surrounded with friends who enjoy the same things that I do. We started our own Twitch TV channel and created our own small brand, Switchibooz, by streaming games a few nights a week. Keeping these girls around me regularly helped lift me out of the depths that working in COVID sent me into. Surrounding yourself with others help you grow, cope and can help you heal.”
Denise is also new to CBD and its plentiful benefits. The “queen of calm” is still pushed to her limits daily, even as the world begin to take control of the COVID pandemic. So she is looking to use CBD to ease work related stress. And since her biggest stress relief is gaming with her friends on the west coast, she is working with a 3 hour time difference and has to adjust her sleep to odd intervals. She’s hoping CBD can help her to regulate her sleep as well. Denise’s integration of CBD into her routine – and her evaluation of the process as a medical professional – with the CBD Department.
Emma G., 27 – Middle School Teacher, Graduate Student
Emma comes from multiple generations of teachers. The value of quality education and the potential impact of educators has been engrained in her since the very beginning. Emma has a passion for teaching middle school students because the students think they are just learning history – “then, you sneak in all the other skills they need without them even realizing: social skills, time management, problem-solving etc. You watch them turn into self-sufficient, capable human beings, all the while they’re ‘just learning history’.” That rewarding feeling keeps Emma coming back to the classroom day after day. And she is now going to back to school herself, working towards a Master’s Degree in Special Education, saying “I have always enjoyed school. It is a place I easily find success. I think that’s why I have such a soft spot for students with disabilities – I never experienced struggling in school, but I know many people do and I want to create an environment that helps them to love learning too.”
Educating students, especially during a pandemic, has been an unprecedented challenge. But a strong support system will make all the difference. And luckily, Emma found a group of colleagues who have become so much more than that – and they call themselves the Bad Apples. She says the moniker was originally just a ‘pun-y’ name for the group chat the co-workers used to share ideas, vent about tough days and support each other through thick and thin. Emma says “we hold each other and ourselves to a very high professional standard, but we also embrace our lives outside of school. Teachers deserve to call out of work when they just need a day, to turn off e-mail notifications after 3:00pm, and to self-care instead of plan 24/7. We deserve to be human too, with no apologies.” Emma has learned to put a very special emphasis on prioritizing her mental health. She says reading, yoga and snowboarding are her escapes – that “a good book, flow or mountain run completely consumes my mind, and allows me to forget about all the e-mails to answer, papers to grade, lesson to plan. I can just be.” Ultimately Emma says – “neglecting your own mental and physical health doesn’t help you, or anyone who depends on you and for me, that’s about 100 little humans.” Mental health has been a struggle for Emma her whole life – but she reminds us that if we can make ourselves a priority and care for ourselves just a deeply as we care for others, we have a much more compassionate and positive effect on the world around us. It is important to take time to detach from our professional lives and obligations to celebrate the other parts of our lives that make it so special.
In fact, this support system Emma found has also lent it’s name to an educational Instagram account, designed to help other young teachers like herself. She says being a new teacher can be so overwhelming, and so it’s not surprising that new educators often choose a different journey if they are left without proper support and mentorship. Emma reflects “I know many people who have left the teaching profession because they are overwhelmed, lack the education ‘basics’ or are just simply without the proper guidance needed to survive the very difficult first years of teaching. I hope with advice and support, I can convince even a single person to stick with it. It hurts me to see so many people leave before they can embrace and experience all the wonderful things about teaching.” Emma does truly love this profession which she says pushes her brain, her skills and her limit – recognizing that becoming an effective educator not about perfection, but about reflection and growth.
Emma does have some experience with CBD already, and she is an advocate of its benefits! She says “we are constantly on the go: planning, creating, teaching. Barely refueling just to gas out again. The restorative and healing properties of CBD help to reduce the effects of chronic stress on the body.” And that’s what Emma needs! She is looking to broaden her CBD experience by finding products that can seamlessly fit into her busy routine, helping to relieve stress along the way. Follow Emma’s deeper dive into the world of CBD with the CBD Department!
Deanna D., 28 – Yogi, Owner of DeeVine Light Yoga and Wellness
Sometimes the universe has different plans for you than you had for yourself. And Deanna knows this all too well. She received her bachelor’s degree from Centenary University with a certification in Elementary Education and Students with Disabilities. Deanna reflects, saying “My journey is very different from most and when I went to college, I was very much set on being a teacher. In my eyes, there was nothing I wanted more. Unfortunately, after years of part-time teaching positions and/or temporary leave positions, I became quite discouraged. Thankfully, I always had my yoga practice to escape to – where I was able to put my mind and body at ease. The rest was completely fate and everything aligned.” Soon that escape turned into a passion. She began her yoga teacher training in September of 2019 with CBD Department co-founder Grace and soon earned her certification! Deanna’s motto – Trust the Process – has followed her down every path in life. She says “As discouraged as I felt, I continued to remind myself that everything happens for a reason; just trust the process and embrace your own journey. I am where I am today because I learned to let go of how I thought my life “should” go, accepted where I was, and trusted in the universe to guide me. The truly interesting part about it all is that I’m still teaching, just in a different form.”
And now, Deanna has also become a business owner, opening DeeVine Light Yoga and Wellness in August of 2020, at only 27 years old. She says her favorite part of opening the studio has been the ability to watch an amazing group of individuals grow so close to her and each other, in an environment she helped to create. Deanna’s warm and welcoming nature creates a sanctuary that leads many of her yogis to describe the studio as their “second home.” She gets to use her creativity daily to empower others who are creating better daze by finding strength, focus or peace on their mats. DeeVine Light offers hot and non-hot vinyasa, yin-yang, children’s and yoga sculpt classes. But opening a new studio during a pandemic does not come without its challenges. Deanna acknowledges that the hardest thing about being a new business owner is accepting the fact that there are no days off. She knows that she must take every opportunity she can to grow her business. Luckily for Deanna, who is also eternally grateful for quality time with her family, the studio is a second home for them as well. Deanna’s sister and mom of (almost) 2 babies, Marissa, manages the yoga studio and offers Holistic Wellness coaching through DeeVine as well. Who run the world – girls!
Deanna says “I am thrilled to say that my studio has become a sanctuary where clients are able to feel grounded, find inner peace, and become part of a community. As a teacher, I honor each student’s uniqueness and help them move freely with each breath. I feel eternally grateful that yoga was introduced into my life years ago, and I am so lucky to now be guiding my students on their yoga journey daily.”
The CBD Department is excited to collaborate with Deanna on her next journey – into the world of CBD. Long hours at the studio and constantly demonstrating back bending often makes her chronic back pain flare. Deanna is also searching for a product or routine that will help bring her energy and focus both on and off her mat. And we also know as a devout yogi that Deanna is always trying to make sure her body, her temple is in optimal health. Stay tuned to the CBD Department to follow Deanna’s journey into cannabis.