That morning, I arrived to Manhattan ready to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new people. Funny enough, that actually happened right away. There was a group of women standing outside (including myself) who got there early. We all started chatting about where we were from, who we were excited to see speak, etc. Four of us who were talking to each other all ended up being from Boston – such a small world. From there, I connected with Erika, who ended up becoming my W.E.L.L. Summit buddy for the weekend and now, my new friend.
Once we got inside, we received gift bags full of goodies from amazing companies and made our way upstairs to find our seats and sample food/products from vendors before we sat down to listen to the first speaker of the day, Latham Thomas (@glowmaven). Latham is a well known author as well as a wellness and lifestyle guru. She began our afternoon by guiding a grounding, heartfelt meditation that not only helped calm the mind, but also connected every attendee in the room on a much deeper level. Her meditation brought us together, encouraged everyone to be open and vulnerable – which then lead to a whole bunch of hugging, hello’s, smiles and laughter.
Sara Divello was the opening keynote speaker. She is the author of “Where the Om Am I?”, an informative and hilarious book (definitely a must read in my opinion) as well as a speaker and a yoga teacher. She is such a beautiful soul, both inside and out. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with her multiple times prior to the Summit. Today she spent time talking about her personal journey and what ultimately lead her to leave her corporate job and go after a career she is truly passionate about. One question she asked us really stuck with me, “Is this the great work of my life?” If the answer to that question is “no”, you should begin making some changes in your life – to figure out what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. She also discussed the importance of taking care of yourself – mind, body and spirit. She encouraged us all to find activities that nourish each aspect of our health. For example, therapy for your mind, yoga for your body and making time to do something that you love for your spirit.
5 Ways to Create and Embrace Your Best Life:
1) Acknowledge the fragility and preciousness of life
2) Make time to do what fills you up
3) Cultivate gratitude for what you DO have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have
4) Take a mind, body, spirit approach to your health and wellness
5) Create a vision for your best life and hold it with you at all times
She reminded us that there are days that it won’t always be easy and a lot of the time we may feel scared. Creating your best life is an internal process, not an external process, you will feel vulnerable and emotional at times and that is okay. Everyday won’t be perfect but as long as you are sticking with what resonates with you, it will feel almost perfect.
The topic of The Relationship between Happiness and Success, a discussion lead by Kathryn Budig and Kate Fagan was the perfect segue after listening to Sara speak. Kathryn is an author and an internationally known yoga teacher. Kate is also an author and sports reporter/commentator for ESPN. Together, they have a podcast called “Free Cookies”. They began their discussion with a quote from Aaron Rodgers (QB for the Green Bay Packers): “I’ve been to the bottom and I’ve been to the top. Happiness comes from somewhere else.” They went on to explain that our society thinks that success equates to happiness and that this constant quest for success is making people sick. This is SO true. So many people think that once they achieve X, they will immediately be happy. Hence, why so many people are becoming sick. They work and work non-stop, until they’re completely burnt out, all to try and achieve happiness. At the end of the day, things will never bring you happiness; it comes from within.
Finding Happiness Exercise:
1) Write down your top 4 core values
2) What do you want in life? What don’t you want?
3) What’s draining you?
4) What’s fueling you?
In closing, they explained that you need to spend time figuring out what makes YOU happy. You can read all the self-help books you want, but no one will really have all the answer(s) for you. YOU have to make time to do some soul searching. Figure out what you are craving in life and go after it. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. But also remember that extremes aren’t always the best way to go about it, you need to find balance in your life. It IS possible to start out small, rather than following the “go big or go home” attitude.
The next topic of discussion was Self-Care Starting with Ingredients. This panel was lead by Erica Corsano (lifestyle and travel journalist) and included a great group of people who are well known in the healthy food space; Zach Adelman (CEO of Navitas Naturals), Linda Barron (CEO of Steaz) and Cassandra Bodzak (author and holistic lifestyle expert). In regard to products that are currently on the market, Zach and Linda spent time explaining WHY we should check the ingredients and sugar content. They also reiterated the importance of eating REAL, whole, organic, sustainably sourced food. “Eat the Rainbow” as Zach put it, know WHERE your food comes from and WHAT is in the food you’re putting into your body. They encouraged us to do our own research, find companies we can trust and support them by voting with our wallet.
Cassandra began a discussion on eating with intention. Just take a minute to think about this – when was the last time you focused on simply EATING a meal, without any distractions (TV, phone, etc.)? She explained the concept of food mood journaling, for 1-2 weeks, you commit to writing down what you eat and how you feel an hour later. Doing this gives the power back to YOU, it teaches you which food(s) your body responds positively or negatively to. It reminds you to LISTEN to your body and to make educated food choices that leave you feeling good. It’s extremely important to honor the wisdom of your body. Our bodies are always telling us something, if you have a stomach ache or a headache, it is for a reason. Journaling about the foods we eat and how we feel afterwards teaches us what fuels our bodies best. In the words of Cassandra, “everyone has their own individualized food prescription that fluctuates”. Listen to what your body tells you and eat food(s) that feel good for YOU.
We had a short break after this discussion where we had time to meet and connect with other attendees, try some local products and food and stretch our legs. After we had sampled our way around the room, we sat back down to listen to a wonderful panel of women talk about Beauty as Self-Care. The four women on the panel included Tara Foley (the founder of Follain), Sandra Lanshin Chiu (studio director of Treatment by Lanshin), Kristine Keheley (co-founder of Vapour Beauty) and Rebecca Casciano (Make up artist & Natural Beauty Expert). It was such an interesting topic and discussion to listen to. All four women hold different job titles, but they could all relate to each other because they all believe in clean beauty and self-care. They stressed the importance of making time to take care of yourself, especially as women.Women tend to take care of a lot of people and take on a lot of responsibilities. In turn, they may forget to take breaks to recharge themselves. Remember that you have needs too and you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. If you don’t spend time taking care of yourself, you will end up burnt out. Create a routine for yourself – whether it be in the morning, afternoon, night or even on the weekend. Even if it’s as simple as doing a face mask before bed, that is still considered self-care. Or maybe even treat yourself to a massage or a facial. Give it a try for a week and notice how you feel.
The second part of the discussion, clean beauty, was one that everyone was very passionate about. We live in a world where the make up industry has created products full of toxic chemicals, dyes and even animal products. Luckily, over the past couple years, there has been a huge demand for products that are cruelty free and made with real ingredients. This is not only exciting for the people in the clean beauty industry, but it’s exciting for all of the consumers as well. It’s beneficial to everyone. Clean beauty means you are taking care of yourself, your skin and the environment. Do some research on organic beauty or skincare lines, read their mission. Find one (or a couple) that you like, support them and share it with others.
After learning more about clean beauty and utilizing it while practicing self-care, we moved onto listening to the amazing speakers of the W.E.L.L. Panel. The panel was lead by Sara Divello and included Josh Rosebrook (founder of his own skin and hair care line), Koya Webb (holistic health coach and yoga instructor) and Latham Thomas (author, doula and founder of Mama Glow). It was so special to listen to everyone on the panel because they were so open, honest, and genuine. There were so many questions and topics included in this panel that it’s hard to summarize it in a couple sentences. Each speaker spent time talking about their own journey, what lead them to living a more holistic life and how they built careers they love.
After learning more about clean beauty and utilizing it while practicing self-care, we moved onto listening to the amazing speakers of the W.E.L.L. Panel. The panel was lead by Sara Divello and included Josh Rosebrook (founder of a skin and hair care line), Koya Webb (holistic health coach and yoga instructor) and Latham Thomas (author, doula and founder of Mama Glow). It was so special to listen to everyone on the panel speak because they were so open, honest, and genuine. There were so many questions and topics included in this panel that it’s hard to summarize it in a couple sentences. Each speaker spent time talking about their own journey, their lifestyle and food choices and what lead them to living a more holistic life and how they built careers they love.
Takeaways from the W.E.L.L. Panel:
1) Go within and figure out what YOUR soul needs.
2) You need to create rituals to honor yourself.
3) Figure out what works for you by experimenting with yourself mind, body and spirit.
4) Don’t label yourself or put yourself into a specific box, we are constantly growing and changing.
5) Be gentle with yourself, we aren’t perfect – we’re human. Be aware of how you’re talking to yourself.
6) It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. We have to be more flexible in our thinking.
7) Educate yourself on the products and companies you support. There is a story behind everything we consume.
8) Wellness is a practice, balance and an art.
9) Try not to compare yourself to others on social media.
10) Be aware of what you’re spending your energy on, don’t waste your time doing things that don’t serve you.
Bottom line, wellness is not just about what we eat or drink or how much we exercise, it’s about what we think as well. Love yourself, love others, love the planet. Trust in the universe – ask it to bring like-minded people into your life and it will.
And last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of listening to the closing keynote speaker – Agapi Stassinopolous. She is the author of a best-selling book (Wake Up to the Joy of You) as well as a motivational speaker. Let me tell you guys, this woman took us on an emotional roller coaster – we we laughed, we cried and by the end we were dancing. She talked about her struggles to become an actress and how she was told she would never make it. She got sick of people telling her she couldn’t so she decided to just do her own thing. And guess what? She DID it. She became successful all on her own because she believed in herself and what she had to offer to the world.
Wake up to your Joy Takeaways:
1) Fulfillment is what you should focus on, happiness is fleeting.
2) Be authentically you.
3) Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to do something. Just go for it, without hesitation.
4) Love yourself despite your disappointments.
5) Don’t compare yourself to others or their achievements.
6) Heal the parts of yourself that need healing and move on.
7) Make each day special, don’t take tomorrow for granted.
8) Don’t allow negative people into your space.
9) Meditate when you can.
10) Joy is a huge part of wellness. Find your joy and nurture it.
She reminded us that you don’t know what you have inside of you until you open up and try. She asked us to begin writing down three things that we appreciate about ourselves each day. The one question that she asked that really stuck with me was, “What robs you of your joy?” Whatever that is, evict it. Find mechanisms that work for you. In closing, she told us that life should be a love affair and it starts with YOU.
I still can’t believe how much I learned from attending the Well Summit. This blog post only covers Friday (don’t worry there will be a part II covering Saturday’s breakout sessions and activities). All in all, I have to say that Gianne Doherty (the FOUNDER of the Well Summit) and her team completely outdid themselves this year. Thank you for bringing together such a wonderful group of inspiring people to speak and for creating a warm and welcoming space. I can’t wait to see what you do in the years to come!