Brain Health//

Ann Romney On The 2012 Campaign, Love, Stress and Depression

Plus why her husband is her secret life hack.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Ann Davies Romney: When I wake up in the morning, I am just filled with gratitude for my life, my husband, my children and grandchildren, and this beautiful world. So, I always take a moment before I start my day to reflect on that feeling and say a prayer.

TG: What gives you energy?
ADR: My horses! When I started to ride again after my MS diagnosis, I was weak, but even though a few laps around the ring were physically exhausting, they were emotionally exhilarating. Horses continue to be therapeutic partners for me. I’ve heard people describe a “runner’s high” and it sounds a lot like how I feel when I’m riding.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
ADR: Hands down: having a loving, supportive partner. Mitt and I have been in love since we were teenagers, but he is also my best friend. In all things we are equal partners. Everyone needs someone to lean on. Find this person.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
ADR: Definitely the Bible. I wasn’t raised in a religious home (my father’s religion was the amazing uniformity of nature), so when Mitt and I fell in love in high school, I peppered him with questions about the LDS faith. After Mitt left for a two-year mission in France, I started going to church with his parents, George and Lenore Romney, and eventually I was baptized in the faith. It really is amazing what a central role religion now plays in my life. The Bible gives me peace and comfort; an assurance that there is a loving father in heaven; and that we have a redeemer that is Jesus Christ.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
ADR: No, it does not. I turn it off at night, when I’m riding, or when I really need to give all of myself to something. I don’t want it to interfere with anything important.

TG: How do you deal with email?
ADR: Most days, I check email in the morning, and then again in the evening. My days are not driven by it or tied to it.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
ADR: I love to scroll through Instagram and see what our grandkids have been up to!

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
ADR: During Mitt’s 2012 campaign, I kept a heavy schedule, flying across the country, meeting voters, and making speeches. Pretty soon, I had completely burned myself out and had an MS relapse. I immediately left the campaign trail and took the time I needed to recuperate. Once I was well enough to hit the trail again, I knew that I had to pay better attention to my schedule, my eating habits, and my sleeping habits.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
ADR: Today! I tend to rush through life, and today, my rushing led to me to having to redo a project. I ended up spending twice the time I would have had I just taken a breath and paid attention to the details the first time. I try to remember to slow down, take a breath, and pay attention to the moment I’m currently in.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
ADR: I’ve always loved this poem by Emily Dickinson. I fell into a deep depression following my MS diagnosis. The disease had robbed me of my ability to take care of my family or myself. I was bedridden and felt I had lost my identity. In those darkest days, I would reflect on what Mitt said when we got the diagnosis, which is that we were in this thing together, and that gave me hope. A little hope, I’ve found, can help us shoulder the heaviest loads.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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