W.E.L.L. Summit hosted its third annual event earlier this month, and I had the privilege of attending. Located at a few different locations throughout Manhattan, W.E.L.L. Summit promised to be a 360 degree view of wellness. I was excited to attend and hoped to gain knowledge about beauty and wellness trends I hadn’t yet explored. I got SO much more, my beautiful friends! It was absolutely incredible, and I cannot wait to go again.
Since it was my first year, I decided to just take part in the Friday activities, as I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I attend again, I will most certainly sign up for both days. Here is a sneak peak into what the day was like on Friday and what I took away from the full body experience that is W.E.L.L. Summit:
Friday’s events were hosted off the beaten path in Midtown Manhattan at Metropolitan West. Check-in began at noon, and since I arrived a bit early (per usual), had the opportunity to chat with some fellow tribe members to get an idea of what I might be in for. I met a couple of fabulous ladies right away, that I was quick to exchange contact information with, find out what podcasts they are currently listening to (this is a question I ask nearly every new person I meet), and whether or not they had attended before. This was the third annual W.E.L.L. Summit and it seemed there were several repeat attendees, as well as multiple first timers, like me! I was beyond pumped at this point.
We checked in, received our $200 goodie bags, and headed upstairs to peruse the vendors and have lunch before the speakers got started. A few of the products I tried and were especially impressed with included: MatchaBar, Seed Phytonutrients, Kosmatology, and Karite Shea Butter. At this point, I snagged a seat a few rows from the front in the middle so I could have an up close experience with all that was about to occur.
To get us acquainted with our new friends and ensure we were in a good energetic space for the upcoming few hours, we engaged in a 15 minute chair yoga routine led by Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and pilates instructor, author, and mom. If you’ve never done this when needing a break at work, I highly recommend. She offers a free download so you can try it at home, while traveling, or whenever you need to hit the reset button. It was great!
The opening meditation ceremony, hosted by the amazing Latham Thomas, whom was dubbed by Oprah as a Super Soul 100 Member, author of Own Your Glow, founder of Mama Glow, celebrity doula, yogini, and so much more! I’ve never been much into meditation, but the exercise she helped us experience took me to a level of spirituality I had never felt before. Over 300 of us attendees, were led into a chanted hum in synchronization that lasted 3-5 minutes and it was so beautiful and moving, I actually teared up. Safe to say, Latham Thomas is my new hero, I bought her book, and can’t wait to dive in. She also messaged me back via Instagram after I tagged her in my story and told me she loved me, so basically we are besties and I know Oprah 😉
Creating and Embracing Your Best Life Now
Sara DiVello, a writer, speaker, yoga teacher, and author of “Where The Om Am I” gave an enlightening talk about how to live life to the fullest. She shared a very personal story about her mother losing her fight to breast cancer (the second time I cried at W.E.L.L. Summit) and explored the thought that to “live each day fully, is to honor the gift we’ve been given to live.” This especially resonated with me as she spoke about going from a secure career in Financial Services to teaching and speaking about her passion. She practices a mind, body, and spirit approach to maintain her wellness and embodied the motivation to make the career switch, by asking herself, “is this the life I would want to be living if I had 6 months left to live?” Sara also shared the 5 aspects to take into your own journey and flourish:
- Acknowledge the fragility and preciousness of life.
- It won’t be easy, it will probably be really scary, especially when you care. You don’t have to be all, but you do have to give it your all.
- Cultivate deep gratitude for what you have in this moment.
- Take a mind-body-spirit approach to wellness.
- Create a vision for your best life and hold it with you.
Sara encouraged us to “set and hold these intentions”. It’s not about checklists or social media likes, it’s about fostering a deep-seated contentedness within yourself to understand that there will still be hard days, but something about this life and this moment feels right!
The Space In-Between: The Complicated Relationship Between Happiness and Success
Kate Fagan, author of “What Made Maddy Run” and Kathryn Budig, author of “Aim True” as well as podcast personalities of the ESPN Radio show, Free Cookies, spoke about how finding true happiness comes from within. Now, this seems like a total cliche quote, but the way they were able to expand upon this concept was what really drew me in. Kate shared a quote by Aaron Rodgers where he said, “I’ve been to the bottom and been to the top, and peace will come from somewhere else.” The chasing of arbitrary things, such as fame, fortune, success, or whatever, is not the answer. Happiness is built from within a core set of values which varies from person to person.
The duo encouraged us to write down 4 CORE VALUES. These must be truly core values and not an absorbed value which occurs when we see people positively react to something and then we shift our values to match those. For example, if you write a book with the intent to share your thoughts and it becomes a best-seller, people congratulate you and make it a big deal. Is the core value finishing writing the book or becoming a best-selling author…see the difference?
- What do you want versus don’t want?
- What is draining you versus what is fueling you?
Wishing to be happy is okay. Wishing to be happier than others is a soul-sucking endeavor. We always assume others are way happier than they are.
Self-Care Starting with The Ingredients You Feed Yourself
This panel was made up of Zach Adelman, founder of Navitas Organics, Cassandra Bodzak, author of Eat With Intention, and Linda Barron, founder of Steaz. Erica Corsano, lifestyle journalist, hosted the panel. These experts detailed how food played a daily role in their own self-care routines. My biggest takeaways from this panel were as follows:
- Stop sticking people into boxes and mandating we call ourselves Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, etc.
- This especially resonated with me as I practice a mostly vegetarian diet, sometimes close to vegan depending on the week, but sometimes crave fish in particular. The goal here is doing and eating what feels good for you. Sometimes that means plants only, sometimes meat is necessary. Don’t put so much pressure on following societal standards when it comes to wellness trends.
- Start a Food Mood Journal.
- Recommended by Cassandra, she suggests you eat normally for 1-2 weeks and jot down how you feel immediately following the consumption and then an hour after. You can start to pick up on patterns you may have otherwise missed. It might not necessarily mean you are allergic, but have a sensitivity to certain food items. If you are aware of these trigger items, you can make a conscious choice to avoid those items when you need to be at your peak performance level.
Beauty as Self-Care
Tara Foley, founder of one of my favorite places to shop, Follain Beauty, hosted this panel which included Kristine Keheley, co-founder of Vapour Beauty, Sandra Lanshin Chiu, founder of Treatment by Lanshin, and Rebecca Casciano, founder of the Sacred Beauty Movement. These beautiful ladies shared their stories about how in some cultures it is considered normal to spend time in putting ourselves first, and others it is deemed selfish and unnecessary. Well, I am 100% on board with their thought that not only is self-care good for me, but it’s also good for all those around us as well. I found Sandra’s perspective to be incredibly intriguing as she explained her Chinese culture of self-care and the practice of strengthening your Chi. I’ve already signed up for a Gua-sha class to learn how to practice this treatment at home!
The other concept I found to resonate was banning the term “anti-aging”. Why would we want to stop a process that means we have lived? I’m pro-aging! It means I’ve experienced, had joy, fallen down, gotten picked back up. Let’s thing about aging beautifully instead of the opposite.
Live W.E.L.L. Panel
Latham Thomas (see above) made a return appearance…much to my delight…and she was joined by the fabulous Koya Webb, founder of Get Loved Up, and Josh Rosebrook, founder of Josh Rosebrook Skin and Hair Care . Sara DiVello joined us again as the host of the panel this time. This entire panel sort of summed up the previously mentioned talks and it started with the question, “What does wellness mean to you?” All three answered with a version of this:
- Listen to your self, your body, your soul. Are you living from a place that feels good from within?
- Do what works for you! Nix the labels. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.
- Comparison is killing us. Recognize. Stop. Pivot. Take what is not serving you and get rid of it.
- Ask for help. It’s okay….really!
- Focus on the good. Don’t succumb to the negativity and focus on failure.
Find your community; your tribe. Spend your energy wisely within those that can lift you from within. Time is precious. Find light and hold it close.
Wake Up to the Joy of You
Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of multiple books and motivational speaker was the third and final person to make me cry during W.E.L.L. Summit. Agapi is a fiery Greek woman whose name literally means love. She spread that love through the entire space in a way that is truly Agapi. A few quips from her energetic time on stage are as follows:
- It’s not about a happy ending, it’s about a joyous beginning.
- Don’t always want to to get more, want to become more!
- You see the light and then the journey continues.
- Do your own thing!
- You have something I need to know….everyone is put on this plant to share a gift, what’s yours? Why are you meeting this person today, right now?
- We are not supposed to fit in, we are meant to stand out.
- What is my treasure? How can I share it with others?
- We are made up of 37.2 TRILLION cells. Life is miraculous. Be grateful, share the gratitude.
If you have the chance to hear Agapi speak, it will truly change your life. She has a passion and energy that is matched by few. We were on the edge of our seats listening to her perform a monologue one minute and dancing to Bruno Mars, Just The Way You Are the next! We ended the day with a dance party that I never wanted to end.
Live W.E.L.L. Party and Departure
W.E.L.L. Summit 2017 was incredible! I have little to compare it to, but was moved, informed, enlightened, and so many other things during an eight hour time frame. I finished the evening with my new tribe at a party where we enjoyed Kombrewcha, got our nails done by Ten Over Ten, and browsed other brands like Wedderspoon, Thorn and Bloom, Spruts, and multiple others. It was truly a day to remember and something I look forward to doing again. I have tons of reading to do over the next few weeks after hearing from all of these amazing power-houses. Stay tuned for upcoming posts where I review the books!