Full Access announcements!

May 14, 2015

Greetings Friends of Full Access!

Full Access is undergoing big changes in the next month.  First of all, we are in the process of separating our agency from one to two!  This means that we will have Full Access serving Lane County.  And, we will have Full Access High Desert, a newly certified Support Services Brokerage, serving Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook and Lake Counties!  We are doing this to advance the best possible service to all our customers and their families.  Having smaller organizations made sense to us since we were as big as two brokerages compared to some other places in the state.

It will take a few months for all the internal details to work out about this change to two agencies, however, we officially separate our businesses July 1st.  Each will be separate operations with their own Board of Directors, staff, State contract and management.  We are so excited to share more news about this!  We are very fortunate to introduce you to the Executive Directors for both agencies.

Heather Hopkins-Slechta, Executive Director of Full Access High Desert

Heather Hopkins-Slechta, new Executive Director of Full Access High Desert

Heather Hopkins-Slechta, known to most of you, has been promoted to the Executive Director role for Full Access High Desert.  Heather is one of the original staff hired by Full Access in 2002.  After 13 great years with Full Access, she is looking forward to the opportunity for the growth of services focusing on the High Desert region.  Please add her to your contacts: 541-749-2158 and hhslechta@fullaccess.org

As a member if the ‘sandwich generation’ it is very important to Heather, both personally and professionally, that services are available to support individuals to stay in their own homes or their family homes. She is a strong proponent of self-directed services and advocates that these services continue to abide by the original philosophy that created the brokerage system.

Heather received her degree in psychology from the University of Oregon and has been working in social services since 1992. She has participated on several state and local advisory committees, as well as planning committees for state-wide conferences, related to services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

After spending several years in the Willamette Valley, Heather moved her three generation household to Bend in 2013. She and her family very much enjoy the area and the outdoor recreation the Central Oregon and the High Desert has to offer.

Todd Teixeira, new Executive Director of Full Access

Todd Teixeira, new Executive Director of Full Access

We have also selected the Executive Director for Full Access, supporting our Lane County clients with Margaret Theisen leaving in June.  After interviewing with over 30 people representing Full Access, Todd Teixeira was hired as the Executive Director effective July 1.  Todd’s email address is tteixeira@fullaccess.org and he can be added to your email contacts at this time.

Born and raised in Northern California, Todd has life-long experience with disability. Visually impaired since birth, he understands having necessary services and supports are essential to an individual achieving their personal goals. Todd holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Jose State, and a Certificate in Management from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. For the majority of his career, he has worked as a department and division director in the nonprofit social services industry for organizations serving the cross-disability community, including individuals who are blind or visually impaired, physically disabled, and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Todd’s passion, leadership and management skills are well suited to direct Full Access into the next phase of success. Away from work, he enjoys spending time with his wife Louise, and their two daughters, Brandy and Jasmyn.

We hope you will join us at our Eugene office to celebrate my departure and to welcome Todd on Wednesday, June 17th, 3: 00 – 5:00 p.m.  Full Access High Desert will be announcing an open house as well, later this summer.  We are all very fortunate to be welcoming and congratulating Todd and Heather as Support Services Brokerages Executive Directors!

Best regards,


Day Of Advocacy Friday, April 17, 2015

April 23, 2015

Guest post from Full Access client and staff member, Nick Kaasa:

Hello friends of Full Access,

UntitledSome of you may have received the letter from our CEO Margaret Theisen, Urging clients to ask legislators to fund The brokerage workload model at 95% .The Executive Director of the Oregon Support Services Association Katie Rose & myself met with representative Nancy Nathanson’s Aid Gillian Harger to discuss this matter. Both Katie and myself, were very excited when we were told that representative Nathanson’s office had been receiving many phone calls specifically from , Full Access clients regarding the letter they had received. Being both a client and employee I have seen the effects of this issue from both sides of the coin. Currently 45 clients to one personal agent leaves PAs finding it difficult to give that individualize support that  brokerages , were implemented to do and clients, are having frustrations directed towards their personal agents lack of availability . But I know if we keep working hard on these important advocacy issues we can make change to brokerage workload models for brokerages all across the state, for the client. and their PA’s
Nicholas Kaasa


Generations of Strong Women

April 16, 2015

Dear Friends of Full Access:

This past weekend an enormous family and community members gathered to say farewell to Eileen Aanrud, a person I had not met but have heard about for many years.  She was “Grandma” to Angela Farmen, a 12 year employee in our Eugene office.  Although I never met Grandma, I regularly heard brief stories about her from Ange.  Recently, as Grandma was in her last days and weeks, it was more apparent to me, who Eileen Aanrud was as a person to her family and community.  This was most obvious with the majority of pews being filled at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Cottage Grove, the place of her memorial service.

Though memorials are sad to me, I eagerly listened to passionate stories about not just Grandma, but her eight children and 34 additional grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.  I was so inspired seeing the generations celebrate Grandma’s life, and deeply grieve her death.  She was deeply loved.  I was struck with her life, lived for others, as a family member shared about her and read numerous letters acknowledging the family matriarch.  It painted a picture of Grandma’s strength, the strength she passed along to her children, and clearly for me, passed along to Angela.

Everyone knows Ange Farmen is tough as nails!  Through these years of working together I have seen her go through life changes, family changes and of course, unending changes at Full Access.  In the early years working together Ange processed time sheets and other paperwork for dozens of our clients’ employees.  Within two years we had 270 clients; by year five, 650;  by year ten, we exceeded what anyone had expected of brokerages with over 700 clients.  Now, nearly 900 clients receive support through our agency.  And of course, their employee numbers are nearly 1000.

For each and every one of our clients’ Personal Support Workers, Ange has dedicated herself to making things not just work well, but work perfectly!  There isn’t a payroll that goes by where she doesn’t have to solve a new type of problem.  With a team of Full Access staff in our two major offices, we now are processing paperwork for nearly $1,000,000 every month to ensure people are paid accurately and on time.  Are we perfect?  Some of you know we aren’t!  But can you find a more dedicated staff person working for you than Ange?  I say no.

Much like her Grandma, Ange doesn’t just have a job but children and grandchildren of her own.  She has worn down more car tires than anyone I know, driving to support family in their activities and to make sure everyone is okay.  She doesn’t know all the stories I have heard about her helping coworkers prepare for volunteer events, paint their houses, help with clean up, run to Costco and all types of things we have to do just to get through daily life.  With the onset of the state eXPRS payment system, anyone who knows about this must know it has been difficult (to be polite about it).  Laboring through this change required days to start at 6:00 a.m. and end at 10:00 p.m. at times, and hours and hours of overtime.  This truly has been a labor of love for Ange, who has to make things work as best they can for everyone!  Even people she will never know or meet, but are those who get paid for supporting our clients.

I thought it would be fitting to acknowledge the generations that came into this world from Eileen Aanrud, so a brief part of her obituary is below.  Mostly I think it is fitting to acknowledge her for the character she built throughout her family, and the gift she gave us in her granddaughter Angela.  She’s one of many extraordinary staff in our organization, and now I can see where her strength came from.

Godspeed, Eileen!



GrandmaEileen Aanrud of Cottage Grove died on April 2 at the age of 89. She was born on October 30, 1925 in Conemaugh, PA to William and Marie (Burger) Diamond. She married Richard Aanrud on January 10, 1945 in New York, NY, and traveled all over the country, including to Cuba, as a Navy spouse. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother. She was also an accomplished seamstress. She worked as a seamstress and waitress. She was a member of the VFW, and of OLPH Catholic Church in Cottage Grove. Eileen is survived by daughter, Arleen Funai, Honolulu, HI; daughter, Sherry Farmen, Cottage Grove, OR; daughter, Rickie Jeramiah, Payette, ID; son, William Aanrud, Anchorage, AK; son, Owen Aanrud, Cottage Grove; son, Lewis Aanrud, Coquille, OR; sisters, Arlene Diamond and Helen McClemins, both of Pennsylvania; 13 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

The Plan for Full Access Becoming Two Brokerages

March 5, 2015

Dear Friends of Full Access:

I have an update about future planning at our brokerage!   As I shared a few months ago, I am leaving Full Access in June this year.  A big part of the preparation for that is completing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and strategic plan.  So far this has included work within our agency and outside of our agency, getting feedback from community partners, clients, family members and a broader group of constituents.   We are getting great input from dozens of people.  Any time you want to share your thoughts about Full Access, you can call or email me at 541-284-5070 or mtheisen@fullaccess.org

One of the things we have been discussing in this process is that our primary region of Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Lake Counties is quite different in some ways from our Lane County region.  As the largest brokerage in the state with 875 clients, we have been considering changing the agency into two separate brokerages.  We recently started to actively pursue this!  It’s exciting news for most of the people that I have spoken with or heard from in surveys.  Our board of directors has had very meaningful discussions about this and approved us going forward to create two agencies.  In late January, our Assistant Director, Heather Hopkins-Slechta, and I met with people in leadership at the state.  We have an agreement to go forward with this separation.

One of our surveyed community members shared this viewpoint:

“I can only see this as a plus. FA seems to really cover 2 distinct service areas. Customers truly value local access to their case management service and to have the ‘main’ office really be local will likely be significant to the community. I also think having a brokerage who speaks specifically for that area of the state could be valuable.”

I agree with this perspective.  After more than 13 years leading the 5 county area as one brokerage, I see this new future as holding the strongest vision for locally driven support services.  We will have initial work done for the separation by July, 2015.  We also will have a very close working relationship for as long as it takes afterwards to have a smooth transition.  It will take quite some time to complete the internal changes.  We do always intend to stay in a close working relationship, even though the governance of the agencies will be different.  Each will have their own board of directors and operate as a separate business.

This also changes how we are hiring for the new person that will fill my role.  It is now our plan to hire an Executive Director for Lane County and one for the four other counties (Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Lake).  We have a search committee involved in our hiring process.  Once we have those positions filled, we will make announcements through our Facebook page and other means.

As one more big change to work through, the change to two agencies will take focus and hard work.  We are very excited to be part of the creation of the 14th Support Services Brokerage.  If you would like to share your thoughts about any of this I would be very happy to hear from you!



A Lifetime of Achievement

February 13, 2015

Dear Friends of Full Access,

Margaret with her award and a few of her fans

Margaret with her award and a few of her fans

Last night, our CEO, Margaret Theisen, was awarded the 2014 Lisl Waechter Lifetime Achievement Award from The Arc Lane County.   This award honors a volunteer or professional who has devoted themselves to making life better for individuals with disabilities. Nominating Margaret for this award was an obvious choice for those of us who know her.  What follows is our nomination letter outlining Margaret’s dedication to the people we serve.

Congratulations, Margaret!

-The Full Access Team


To Whom it May Concern,

We are writing this letter on behalf of the staff at Full Access.  We would like to nominate Margaret Theisen for the Lisl Waechter Lifetime Achievement Award.  Margaret has worked in this field for more than 25 years.

During her tenure, she has been a fierce advocate for the people we serve!  Over the years, she has worked tirelessly with the State to ensure the quality of life for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  She’s been proactive in making sure services maintain the focus of self    directed supports and that the supports we offer make a difference in people’s lives.  Margaret has advocated for client choice.

Margaret has incorporated self-determination as a guiding principle at Full Access.  This has been done by ensuring that all aspects of our operations are referenced to a single question: “Will this    decision/action, within a framework of health and safety concerns, be consistent with the                commitment to support the principle of self-determination in the lives of people with intellectual    disabilities?” This is seen through Full Access’ organizational structure, budgeting, job descriptions, hiring practices, staff training and support, support delivered on behalf of people, relationships with service providers, and quality assurance practices.

Margaret has been a champion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She has accomplished a great deal of work in the nearly 13 years of Full Access’ history.  Some of these       accomplishments have been in our local area and some have reached to other parts of the world.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Over the course of the last 13 years, Full Access has helped 1,360 different individuals pursue a quality of life that is consistent with their preferences and choices.  Margaret was the first employee hired by Full Access and when the doors opened March 1, 2002 there were 79 clients enrolled and 6 full time staff members hired.  Since then, Margaret has helped grow our agency.  Today, we serve 866 clients with an equivalent of 39 full time staff members.  Margaret understands that to best serve our clients we need to hire, and retain, qualified staff members.  In order to accomplish this, she has created a work atmosphere that is beyond compare! Full Access has been recognized in several ways and received various awards, greatly in part to Margaret’s leadership and her commitment to our mission:
    • The Sloan Award, a national recognition for a family-friendly and flexible workplace. Full Access ranked in the top 20% nationwide.
    • The Family Forward Leadership Award. This means that Full Access was ranked in the top four businesses in the state that received the Sloan Award nationally.
    • Recipient of Oregon Business Magazine’s #1 Medium-Sized Non-Profit to Work For three years in a row!
  • Margaret has a wealth of knowledge about the people we serve and she is often invited to share that knowledge with others:
    • She presented information on the legal approach to systems reform, the Staley Agreement, and ADA to a group of people with disabilities and attorneys from Japan.
    • She has spoke at a House Human Services Committee on behalf of the brokerage system for people with developmental disabilities.
    • Through MIUSA (Mobility International USA), she traveled to Bahrain, in the Middle East, and provided consultation on disability issues to a group of professionals also traveling to Bahrain. MIUSA is an agency whose mission is in “advancing disability rights and leadership globally”.  The host in Bahrain, Essam Kamal from Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation said this about Margaret and MIUSA, “The awesome success of the recently concluded U.S./Bahrain Professional Exchange Program held in the Kingdom Bahrain makes us more enlightened and focused.” and “Let us appreciate your elite delegation’s insight and expertise that guided us to better concepts and projects to support the disabled in a fruitful manner.”
    • She supervised an intern who was one of the trainers on the trip to Bahrain. The intern was developing a non-profit agency to do international work with youth.  The focus was on teaching young people how to advocate.  Their goal is to make sure that young people with disabilities learned to set and reach their own goals.
    • She was selected for two presentations on the National Council on Disabilities invitation-only Forum in Portland.  She represented not only Full Access, but our IDD services system at this important event.
    • She served as the brokerage representative for the management team for collective bargaining advocating on behalf of clients throughout the state.
    • She was invited to be part of a lecture series at The Boggs Center in New Jersey on support services.  The Boggs Center lecture series is a prestigious opportunity.  Through this opportunity, Margaret was able to represent Full Access and our work in Oregon.  She was invited at the suggestion of a former Oregon State DD Director.
  • Margaret is committed to broadening public awareness of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and breaking down barriers between all people, particularly those who are marginalized or ignored.
    • 2015 will be the 9th year that Full Access will host The Sprout Film Festival.  For a film to be a part of Sprout it must: show a realistic portrayal of somebody with an     intellectual or developmental disability and if there is acting in the film, the person or people in the film with a disability must actually have that disability.  Over the last 9 years Margaret has been instrumental in growing this event to include a free matinee performance for clients and their support staff, shows for students at elementary, middle and high schools as well as community showings in Bend, Cottage Grove, Eugene and Springfield.
    • She was instrumental in the development of the film, “Against the Fence: The Riley Campbell Story.” This is a story about a young man’s recovery from a brutal beating and his own participation in bringing justice to his life.  With Margaret as the producer, this impactful film has been accepted into local, national and even international film festivals.
    • She is the co-chair of the Look Me in the Eye campaign. This campaign was created by Two Agencies: One Vision, a cooperative effort of Full Access and Oregon Supported Living Program.  The goal of the Look Me in the Eye Campaign is to develop relationships between people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their communities.  The Look Me in the Eye campaign has reached a wide audience ranging from students through our multiple school presentations, local, county and state legislators through annual proclamations of Look Me in the Eye month, community members through our participation in the Eugene Celebration Parade and the hosting of our Evening of Elegance event.
    • Through a grant from the Federal Centers for Disease Control, she began the Preparedness Mentoring Project.  This year long project helped develop plans for our clients in case of disasters.  She also wrote two grants to our State DD Coalition for community trainings.  One of the trainings was in Eugene as a Transition Forum; the other, included several trainings in Central Oregon on the Abuse Reporting requirements.
  • Margaret thinks outside of the box! She is often working on new, innovative ways that will help reduce the operational costs of Full Access so that we can redirect those funds in a way that will help us be in a better position to support our clients.
    • She led the way for Full Access to partner with Oregon Supported Living Program to purchase the building that our Eugene office resides in. The purchase of the building will assure that Full Access won’t see increases in lease payments and needing to spend additional operational funds.  It will also allow for us, once the building is paid off, to redirect all of the funds needed for lease payments into other areas of the organization.  She also coordinated grants that helped with the installation of solar  panels which will be an additional savings for our building.
    • A few years after the building purchase in Eugene, through Margaret’s leadership, Full Access purchased the building that our Bend office currently resides in.  This building has been named the Beth Rixe Service Center after a client of Full Access.  Her parents, Katie and Dave Rixe, had this to say, “There are no words for what Full  Access did for us.  They stayed the course and kept us moving forward.  Beth’s 7 years of independent living is largely due to the support and guidance of Full Access.” 

Oregon Support Services Association recently said, “We are deeply indebted and grateful to Margaret for her influential and principled leadership.”  We couldn’t have said it better!  To sum it up, we think that “Margaret ROCKS!”  She has been an employer, a teacher, an advocate and a      visionary, all the while keeping the focus on our mission of assisting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to pursue a quality of life that is consistent with their preferences and choices! 

For all of these reasons, we believe Margaret would be an excellent candidate for the Lisl Waechter Lifetime Achievement Award.


The Full Access Team

Full Access and Future Planning

December 9, 2014

Dear Friends of Full Access:

Some of you have become aware that I am planning to leave Full Access next year for a “semi-retirement” experience!  For others, this may be news!  I have been in conversations with our board of directors about this and considering it for quite some time.  After close to thirteen years here, it is time for me to pursue other opportunities.  Our current plan is for me to stay until we complete several projects in preparations for the transition.  I will be leaving in June 2015, and we plan to have a replacement person hired by April.

My leaving is really at a very good time for the agency.  I already have been working on what is called a SWOT analysis, which is a process that helps create a strategic plan.  Strategic planning describes the process organizations use to determine how it can best meet its objectives and carry out its mission.  A SWOT analysis is a common strategic planning tool that can help us evaluate how to continue the great successes our agency has experienced.

The term “SWOT” stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”  It involves creating lists of the internal strengths and weaknesses we have and then creating lists of opportunities and threats that exist outside Full Access that could impact our future.  Once all four lists are developed, we can brainstorm ways to maximize strengths, limit weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities and avoid or reduce threats.  Anticipating a new executive director of the agency, that person will be charged with the final strategic planning portion of this process, so she or he will be able to incorporate their own vision with the communities’ and agency’s input.

We will also use this process to determine what kind of qualities and skills are needed for the next director of Full Access.  Through surveys, interviews, focus groups and other communication, we will complete the analysis and also be looking for information to use in our hiring process.  We will reach out to our clients, families, staff, board of directors, advisory groups, and all our community partners that want to be involved such as CDDPs, state partners, other brokerages, providers and more!  This will be a comprehensive look at our work so we can ensure the best service for our clients well into the future.

This is such an exciting time in our system and even in difficult times of change, we can flourish!  By thoughtfully planning the future of our agency, we will make sure the excellence in our service system continues.  I look forward to working with all of our friends of Full Access to create the next step in the future!

Best regards,


The Surprisingly Wonderful Benefits of Mindfulness Training for People with Disabilities, Their Families, and Caregivers – Part 2

November 20, 2014

Dear Friends of Full Access,

In part 1 of this series, we looked at some evidence showing how a regular mindfulness practice can not only benefit the practitioner, but can also profoundly and positively impact recipients of care within the I/DD community. In part 2, we will look at hypotheses and neurological evidence indicating why these effects occur and how to develop our own mindfulness practices.


Why does mindfulness work?

KEEN1010-1The researchers in these studies hypothesize several possible reasons for why mindfulness not only benefits the study participants but also those in their care. It could be that mindfulness imparts to the practitioner a beginner’s mind: a blank slate without expectation [3] which allows the care provider to disengage from preconceived notions of how the recipient of care typically behaves, and eliminates the tendency to preemptively control that behavior [2]. Mindfulness improves one’s ability to be available in the present moment, to roll with the punches. It also diminishes the tendency to judge behaviors as good or bad, but rather to see them simply as behaviors. In the studies discussed in part 1, staff members who trained in mindfulness were observed being more patient, creative, and adaptable when interacting with the individuals in their care. This mindset may be key to the success of mindfulness training. Singh, et al. found a link between staff attempts to preemptively control violent behaviors and the subsequent acting out of these same behaviors [2]. It may be that many recipients of care follow the behavioral modeling set in place by their caregivers. Once an interactional pattern has been established, people tend to repeat it. With a non-judgmental focus on the present moment, we have the room to act and react in novel ways, making space for new, healthier interactions.


A momentary brain geek-out

Now, let’s talk about the brain. Brain plasticity has been a popular topic in the neuroscience community for many years now. Plasticity describes the brain’s ability to change, both structurally and chemically, as a result of life experiences. For example, when a person is under chronic stress, the structures of their brain adapt accordingly. The hippocampus shrinks [5,6] which, in turn, impairs attention, learning, and memory functions. Amygdala volume increases [7] which can influence a person’s behavior toward more reactivity and less emotional control.

However, after only 8 weeks of mindfulness practice [8] evidence predicts a reversal in both of these structures [9, 10]. A decrease in amygdala volume could mean less emotional and physical reactivity to stress. An increase in hippocampal volume may lead to improvements in learning and attention span. These results add to a large body of work indicating that the effects of stress on the brain are reversible (i.e.: plasticity at work) [11].


The red and yellow dots are the left hippocampus. The red bar measures how much denser it became. The blue bar measures a group of people who did not meditate during the same period. Retrieved from: http://mindfulnessresearch.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html


A success story

The following story was told by a father of twin boys with Asperger’s Syndrome, after participating in mindfulness training:

 I needed to let them know that the game would end in 10 min. Previously, this thought would have ruined the fun for me. The remaining 10 min would have been filled with anxiety and dread. But on that night, I realized that I could have the courage to issue the warning now and then move on and enjoy the time that followed for what it was—a good time. I could do both. I could, in the moment, take care of my special needs children in the special way that they required, and then, in the next moment, enjoy them. And I could do this without bitterness or regret. This was a new path [1].


So how is it done?

The following is an example of a technique taught to participants in a 2006 Singh, et al. study [1]:

Calming the Mind

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Close your mouth and breathe through your nose.
  3. Feel the sensation of your breath as it flows in and out of your nostrils at the tip of your nose. You may feel the sensation more strongly within the nostrils or on the upper lip.
  4. To help you locate where you feel the touch sensation of the breath most distinctly, inhale deeply and force the air out through your nostrils. Wherever you feel the sensation most clearly and precisely is the place to focus your attention during your meditation sessions.
  5. Feel the beginning, the middle, and the end of every in-breath, and the beginning, the middle, and the end of every out-breath.
  6. Sometimes the breath will be short—there is no need to make it longer. Sometimes the breath will be long— there is no need to make it shorter. Sometimes the breath will be erratic— there is no need to even it out.
  7. Just become aware of the breath as it goes in and out of the nostrils at the tip of the nose.
  8. Feel the beginning, the middle, and the end of every in-breath, and the beginning, the middle, and the end of every out-breath.
  9. Let the breath breathe itself.
  10. Every time your attention moves away from the breath and shifts to a different object of awareness, such as a physical sensation or a thought, gently but firmly draw your attention back to the touch sensation of your breath.


My own mindfulness practice is inconsistent. I do great for a few weeks: meditating for 20 minutes a day, feeling a lovely calm begin to envelop my life… Inevitably, however, the practice starts to dwindle until I wonder how I ever fit it into my schedule. The thing is, for me, it really does help with anxiety and depression, so eventually I try again. I’ve been practicing this way for years. Each time I begin again, I start off finding it difficult to empty my mind. I repeatedly and gently redirect my attention to the flow of breath and remind myself not to judge my busy brain. Every time I sit, I feel myself sinking into the sensation more deeply than the time before. In his book, Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh provides a nice example for how to re-focus the mind: “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” Remembering this quote always helps me.



We know that caregiving can be stressful for both the caregiver and the recipient of care. Even with the best of intentions, we may still find ourselves stressed, uninspired, or burnt-out. We also know that stress is harmful to our bodies. It damages our respiratory and cardiovascular systems, kills brain cells, and can shorten our lifespan. More and more, studies of mindfulness as a therapeutic application are showing a reversal of symptoms associated with chronic stress. Mindfulness practice is free, flexible, and simple to do. So there it is, let us sit and do nothing. It just might save our lives.


Melissa Farley
Personal Agent





  1. Hwang, Y. , & Kearney, P. (2014). Mindful and mutual care for individuals with developmental disabilities: A systematic literature review. Journal of Child and Family  Studies, 23(3), 497-509.
  2. Singh N. N., Lancioni G. E., Winton A. S. W., Fisher B. C., Wahler R. G., McAleavey
    K., Singh J. & Sabaawi M. (2006b). Mindful parenting decreases aggression, noncompliance & self-injury in children with autism. Journal of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders 14, 169–177.
  3. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Curtis, W. J., Wahler, R. G., Sabaawi,
    M., et al. (2006a). Mindful staff increase learning and reduce aggression in adults with Developmental disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 27, 545–558.
  4. Dykens, E.M., Fisher, M.H., Taylor, J.L., Lambert, W., & Miodrag, N. (2014). Reducing
    distress in mothers of children with autism and other disabilities: A randomized trial  Pediatrics, 2, e454-e463.
  5. Gold, S.M., Dziobek, I., Sweat, V., Tirsi, A., Rogers, K., Bruehl, H., Tsui,W., Richardson,
    S., Javier, E., & Convit, A. (2007). Hippocampal damage and memory impairments as possible early brain complications of type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia, 50, 711–719.
  6. Sheline, Y.I. (2003). Neuroimaging studies of mood disorder effects on the brain. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 338–352.
  7. McEwen, B.S. (2007). Physiology and neurobiology of stress and adaptation: central role of the brain. Physiology. Review, 87, 873–904.
  8. Lazar, S.W., Kerr, C.E., Wasserman, R.H. et al., (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 1893-1897.
  9. Hölzel, B.K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M. et al., (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research, 191, 36-43.
  10. Hölzel, B., Carmody, J., Evans, K., et al., (2010). Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Soc Cogn Affect Neuroscience, 5,11-17.
  11. Farb, N. A. S., Anderson, A.K., & Segal, Z.V. (2012). The mindful brain and emotion
    regulation in mood disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57, 70-77.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers