Don’t Quit Your Day Dream: A Guest Blog on Cultivated Wellbeing

A Deep Yearning

This article was written by Megan Lipsett as a guest blog on Toni Sicola's website - Cultivated Wellbeing, a a health a wellness website that is dedicated to "sowing the seeds for a sweet, rich life". 

Let me start by asking you a question that you likely avoid sitting with, but hold in some layer of your consciousness all the time: What is the deepest yearning you have in your life, but can’t quite find a way to actualize? Each one of us has a unique and important purpose on this planet – and each of us goes through a kind of deep initiation to learn to overcome the challenges that can sometimes pulverize us along the way.

In a world that is shaped by extrinsic rewards, addiction to technology, and disconnection from our deepest selves – how do we begin to reclaim true happiness? This is a question resonating from the hearts and minds of many of us today. We desire exhilaration and purpose. We long for freedom and connection. Navigating a complex world, we can sometimes find ourselves stuck, disempowered, and overwhelmed. We may be tempted in these moments to get lost in a world of “shoulds,” we may follow a trail of social media that starts with comparison and ends with self-doubt.

But what if I told you that the first place to begin — if you truly want to create optimal health, sustained contentment, and a meaningful impact on the world — is right in your own wise and loving heart?  True: self-reflection doesn’t pay the bills.  There is a need for dedication, organization, and practical behaviors that bring us income. AND, when we begin to infuse our everyday lives with a deep remembrance of the preciousness of life and a deep knowing of our unquestionable value, everything begins to change. Read more...

5 Resources Every Wellness Entrepreneur Needs

Whether you are a health and wellness coach, nutritionist, or yoga workshop facilitator, developing business skills is a very important part of succeeding.  This is also something that is typically glossed over in even the most prestigious health practitioner programs. Check out these 5 resources every wellness entrepreneur needs. These are just a few of the tools and resources offered in the COPIA Health Mentoring and Leadership Program, a six-month program for wellness entrepreneurs to develop sustainable programs, build increased leadership capacity, and generate social impact.

Low Cost Business Mentoring and Legal Advice

You can attend low cost workshops at the SBA Entrepreneur Center. The U.S. Small Business Administration delivers loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. Check out the Small Business Administration’s listing of workshops. You can also register for free business mentoring and low cost training designed for aspiring and existing business owners at SCORE. While not overarchingly excited about legal structures,  wellness entrepreneurs need to comply with legal requirements. Though legal advice can often be very expensive, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights offers free legal advisors for entrepreneurs in the Bay area.

Financial Organization and Savings

EARN is the nation's leading microsavings provider. EARN provides the tools for working people to learn how to regularly set aside savings. As an entrepreneur, you will also need organizational tools for your finances, such as Quickbooks, Mint, and Freshbooks.

Personalized Business Modeling

Many business strategy methodologies are impersonal and bland.  Business Model You is a great workbook for conceptualizing your strategic planning and organization. Although many wellness entrepreneurs love to say “my wellness services are for everyone”, it is extremely important to know your target audience.  Use this worksheet to define your optimal client.

Automated Scheduling and Reminders

Wellness entrepreneurs often spend a significant amount of time with business administration.  Using online tools for scheduling clients that syncs with your calendar, such as Calendly, is a great way to save lots of (unpaid) time. Sign up for Mailchimp, an email marketing service provider, allowing you to send automated emails based on customer behavior and preferences, and get reports about how your emails are performing.

Social Media Savvy

Use a social media manager and scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite to schedule content for facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. can save a lot of time and keep your content fresh without you needing to be on social media continuously. Consider using free online infographic tools such as canva, to make interesting social media content.

The COPIA Health Mentoring and Leadership Program is a six-month program for wellness entrepreneurs to develop sustainable programs, build increased leadership capacity, and generate social impact. The next round begins January 2016.

Common Humanity: Preventing Depression through Social Connection (not Social Media)

When we are suffering, we often have the mistaken, yet very real experience, that we are alone in our suffering.  We can create the notion that “everyone else has it figured out” and we are somehow uniquely flawed. The sense of disconnected and isolation that this mindset generates can cause us to fixate on what is not working and prevent us from taking action to changing our situation.

According to health pscyhologist, Kelly McGonigal, helping other people can truly be one of the most uplifting actions we can take, reminding us of our purpose and value.  Yet, isolation tendencies can prevent both supporting others and asking for support. The critical things that we are forgetting during these times is that all people experience stress, distress, and suffering. Even those who we imagine to be free of troubles and deeply happy have experiences of anger, loss, pain, grief, and uncertainty.

In her book, The Upside of Stress, McGonigal outlines the factors that can amplify this effect. Often, we determine our personal suffering to be greater than that of others because we are deeply embedded in our own internal experience and know only the external presentation of others.  The trend in conversations and social media towards presentation of a positive image and life experience can amplify our sense that we are alone in our full experience of being human - which includes ALL emotions, many ups and downs, and times of deep sadness and fear. Studies show that spending time on social media can increase loneliness and decrease satisfaction with life, says McGonigal.

Researchers call the degree to which you see your own struggles as part of the human condition common humanity. A higher degree of common humanity can help us to feel more connected to others when we are struggling the most. When we convince ourselves that we are alone in our stress, we are more likely to experience depression, become avoidant, give up on our goals, and avoid stressful experiences, according to McGonigal. Those who understand suffering as a part of the human experience are more resilient, happier, and satisfied with life.
So, what should we do about it?  According to McGonigal, the first step is to increase your awareness of other people’s suffering.  The second is to be more open about yours. If you are reading this, you officially have permission to go be vulnerageous! Go connect with an old friend, or make a new one! Tell your partner about a challenging experience, or bravely speak your challenges to a co-worker.

Integrative Health Approach to ACL Knee Surgery

Integrative Health Approach to ACL Knee Surgery: Blending Western and Alternative Medicine for Optimal Recovery

As a health and wellness educator with an MA in Integrative health, I am always interested in supporting my body’s overall health and well-being - especially after surgery. After completing my second ACL surgery, and doing a lot of research, I realized that there was no comprehensive explanation of what to expect during the process of ACL / meniscus reconstruction, nor a reliable resource for complementary, alternative, and integrative care to support such a procedure.  The following is a map of my recovery process, which includes:

  • Self-care practices following surgery that are supportive of your overall health and well-being

  • Tips on how to educate yourself based in medical professional experience, research,  and self-knowledge.

  • A breakdown of things to expect before, during, and after surgery.

  • Suggestions on how to make the best of your surgery and have a healing experience.

  • A list of milestones to look forward to in your recovery process.

The following is based in a personal understanding of health and well-being. However, it is merely a guideline based on my own experience and does not take the place of medical advice. There is also no such thing as a standard recovery process.  Your individual experience will depend on many factors and you should listen to your own body’s signals to know how to navigate your unique recovery process.

  1. Preparing for Surgery: Empowerment, Education, Research, Health Insurance

Preparing for  Surgery: Research & Education


With multiple procedures, constantly advancing knowledge, and a wide variety of experience levels, preferences, and capabilities amongst surgeons - it is important to be proactive in your research, questions, and requests during the process of receiving and recovering from knee surgery. Although it is a huge gift that there are surgeons who are able to perform ACL reconstruction procedures, that does not mean that every surgery has exactly the same (or long-term) result.  Many western medical doctors may not be educated in the kinds of practices that can support your overall health and well-being during the time surrounding surgery. Stating your preferences and learning what is best for your body will be supported by a level of personal initiative in planning your surgery and recovery.

Necessity of Surgery

Some injuries can be healed through alternative means (prolotherapy, yoga, supplements), others require surgery.  Do your research around the necessity of surgery.

Types of Procedures

If you ACL needs to be replaced, there are 3 common grafts that are used, which are either Autografts (from your own body) or an allograft (from a donor).  The autografts come either from your hamstring or your patella. The allograft comes from the ACL of a cadaver. You would be benefitted by educating yourself about the various results and impacts of your choice of graft. Also research the source and processing type for an autograft. Depending on how they are treated, the allografts can be less desirable or, alternatively, may have an excess of chemicals.  Ask others, read reputable / peer-reviewed journal articles, watch animated videos of the surgeries online, and speak with your surgeon.

Experience and Preference of Surgeon

It is a good idea to ask your surgeon how often they perform the particular type of knee surgery you are interested in.  Some surgeons definitely have much more experience than others, especially for specific types of surgeries (i.e. patella graft or revision ACL surgeries).


Do some research into the safety, cleanliness, and reputation of the facility you are interested in using.   Some facilities have higher rates of infection, for instance, speaking to their level of cleanliness.

Health Insurance We all know that navigating the insurance system can be very stressful. Try to give yourself plenty of time, it can take a long time to get calls returned and to get all of the answers you need.   A few things to consider:

Finding out what is covered

Surgeon and facility and anaesthesiologist all need to be in network to receive in-network benefits.


Some insurance companies will pre-authorize your procedures, which can help you understand what will (and will not) be covered.

Staying organized: Keep notes about everything you and your insurance representatives discuss.

Surgery: What to Expect

Initial Visit

You will have an initial visit with 1 (or multiple surgeons) who will diagnose your knee

through palpation, x-rays, and MRI’s.

Intake Call

You will receive calls from the hospital and anaesthesiologist to ask you intake questions and health history.  

Food & Drink

You will likely have specific parameters around food, drinking, and bathing prior to the surgery (e.g. I had to stop eating and drinking the day before the surgery, wash with a special cleanser - hibiclens, and no drinking alcohol, of course). You will likely be asked not to shave your legs and need to be careful not to cut your leg the week before surgery.

Pre-surgery Visit

You will meet with the surgeon on the day of surgery to ask any questions, confirm which knee will be operated on, etc.

During Surgery and Post-op

Surgery will likely last several hours. There will be several small incisions made around your knee. You will likely be wearing compression socks when you wake up, to help prevent excess swelling and blood clots, which you will likely wear for several weeks. You may have a drainage tube, collecting the blood around your knee.


You will receive anesthesia on the day of surgery. There are several types and procedures for this.  Make sure that you keep track of what type you receive, for future reference. See more about anaesthesia below.

Follow-up Visits

This will be dependent on the surgeon, but may include 2 week, 4 week, and 2-3 month follow up visits.   


It is required that you have someone to drive you and take care of you immediately following surgery.  I highly recommend that you find someone who will be very closely caring for you for at least one week after surgery, to help with cooking, bathing, keeping track of medication schedules, emotional support, etc.


It is important to take a lot of notes (or even record conversations) before and after the surgery.  Stay organized, making a document to keep track of names of surgeons, contact information, appointment times, types of medication, medical opinions, etc.  Using google docs helped me to keep everything in one place.

Day of Surgery: Making the Best of it


After my first surgery, I was terribly sick for the week following surgery, primarily because of the anaesthesia.  On my second surgery, I received an IV of propaphal (without gas), and then a “block” which is more like local anaesthesia.  I was much less nauseous the second time.

Stress and Anxiety

I suggest having a close friend or family member with you, enhancing your feeling of safety.  You can also consider bringing guided meditations or soothing music into the hospital with you to listen to before you go under anaesthesia. You can download meditations on iTunes specific for pre-surgery.

Joy and Humor

You can still be creative, positive, and playful - even through a process of surgery! I suggest making something to give to the hospital staff (my mom and I made muffins) to make a personal connection and to slow people down (hospitals are commonly fast-paced and stressful, anything you can do to support the health and mental well-being of the staff will ultimately support you, especially when you are unconscious!). You may choose to have your family member film your strange utterances upon waking from anaesthesia, or paint your face, or whatever your unique expression may be!

Recovery & Self-Care

Medications: All prescription pain medication is likely to have at least some side effects and create a burden to your organs and tissues. My strategy was to minimize the use of painkillers, without creating so much pain that I could not sleep, function, or progress with my recovery goals.  

Narcotics: I was on percocet (a narcotic) for the first 3 days, and tramadol (opiod) for 2 days after that.  Then I switched to tylenol for a few days.  

Anti-Nausea: I was also taking an anti-nausea pill along with the percocet and tramadol, which helped.

Tylenol: Tylenol is now well known to have a damaging impact on the liver, especially when taken in high doses or for long periods of time.  

NAC: The supplement NAC is supposed to help support the health of the liver when taken concurrently with Tylenol.  I aimed to minimize my tylenol use and use an alternative.

Side Effects

The side effects I experienced included nausea, itching, confusion, fatigue, hallucinations, spasms / myoclonic jerks, lack of appetite, and a sensitive stomach.

Length & Amount

I suggest taking as little prescription medication as possible.  Not doubt, you will need it, however - you may find that you can wean yourself off of it much quicker than you (or the doctors) expect. Find a balance between managing your own pain and taking enough pain killers to be able to function and take care of yourself. I was only on prescription medications for about 5 days.  

Alternative: Cannabis Tincture

I received my knee surgery in Colorado, where it is legal to purchase Cannabis.  I found that using a small dose of Cannabis Tincture (an oil taken under the tongue) which was low in THC (the element that causes you to feel “euphoric”) and high in CBD (the element which is calming and pain-relieving), was as effective as tylenol without any of the side effects. I used it prior to sleep about 4 times and once a day for about 4 days after I stopped using the biomedical prescriptions.

Icing & Heating

Surgeons and Physical Therapists alike will encourage you to ice your knee liberally.  Many alternative practitioners (e.g. Traditional Chinese Medicine) will also tell you that alternating icing and heating is advisable (after initial primary swelling has subsided, which is likely to me after 1-2 weeks).  The heating is encouraged in addition to the icing to promote increased flow of new blood to the tissues, which is the primary way in which the body naturally supports healing.

Touch / Bodywork

Massaging the knee and the leg (or the whole body for that matter!) will help to: remove toxins, increase lymphatic flow, support circulation, relax tension, reduce pain, support nervous system function, reduce buildup of scar tissue, and raise awareness about the area. Therapeutic massage and other modalities (e.g. Rolfing and Trigger Point Massage) are very helpful post-surgery.  

Natural Pain Creams

Using natural pain creams, such as Traumeel or homemade pain creams with essential oils (e.g. peppermint, wintergreen, balsam fir, copaiba, clove, tangerine) supports the tissues and encourages massage.


Although movement may feel like the last thing you can imagine doing, it is very supportive to your healing to move in whatever way feels safe to you (even if that is simply wiggling your toes!  I was able to move many other parts of my body - supporting blood flow and pain reduction. Bending and straightening your leg is recommended as tolerated.

Physical Therapy

Not all PT’s are alike. Call ahead of time to research the experience level and style of

your physical therapist. Be sure that your physical therapist has the plan prescribed by

your surgeon. Passive range of motion activities will start soon after the day of

surgery.  Quadricep and hamstring activation, as well as knee extension, are the

primary focus in initial recovery.

Chair Yoga & Yoga Therapy

Although most yoga classes offered today would NOT be appropriate for people post-surgically, there are some classes which are designed for this.  Check to see if there are any in your area.  Call ahead of time (or better yet, go to the class before your surgery to check it out) and speak with the teacher about the style of the class and their experience with post-surgical people.  You should be doing very gentle poses, supported with a lot of props and modifications, primarily on the floor of in a chair.  There are a number of gentle chair yoga videos online as well. Supporting the mobility of your hips, ankles, spine, pelvis, and shoulder joints will benefit overall healing and comfort.

Therapeutic Swimming Pools

You will need to wait until your incisions have closed to be submerged in water (which could be 3-4 weeks after surgery).  You can also wear waterproof transparent bandages (e.g. Nexcare) after that time to keep incisions protected.  Being in the pool can feel freeing after weeks of limited mobility.  Your physical therapist can guide you towards the appropriate movements (which will be limited, such as walking with hand rail support and bending and straightening the knee).

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is more important than ever when recovering from surgery.  The following is a list of foods and drink I found ideal during recovery. Your immune system will likely be working overtime, so it is a good idea to support it.

  1. Fresh, whole fruits and vegetables

  2. Bone soup

  3. Fresh juices with: beets, carrots, ginger, sea vegetables, apple, orange, kale, parsley, celery, lemon

  4. Teas: Ginger Tea for Nausea, Natural Laxative Tea, Tummy Tamer Tea

  5. Coconut Water (can loosen stools)

  6. “Neutral” foods, such as foods with no spices, or bland foods such as gluten free macaroni and cheese

  7. Natural Whole Foods Supplement, such as Vitamineral Greens or Green Vibrance

  8. Collagen for join support


Meditation is widely known to reduce stress and pain, calm the mind, support the function of the nervous and immune system, and aid in the healing process. Choosing to spend some of your recovery process paying attention to your breath or the sensations arising in your body (rather than watching movie after movie), can support you in responding to the needs of your body.

Optimal Healing Environment

Your environment has an impact on your recovery process, as well as your mental and emotional state.  Consider these factors when designing your recovery environment:

  1. Sunshine & Fresh Air

  2. Pleasant noises

  3. View of Nature or Plants

  4. Calming smells, such as lavender or peppermint

  5. Community support (asking your friends to send you love letters)

  6. Joy and Humor: I suggest decorating your crutches. This shifts most interactions beyond sympathy to encouragement and positivity.   

Detoxing from Anaesthesia & Medications

The following are ways that you can support your body in the detoxification process after surgery.

  1. Castor Oil Packs

  2. Lemon Essential Oil & Grapefruit Seed Extract (a few drops in water)

  3. Ionic Foot Bath

  4. Therapeutic massage (with an experienced practitioner)

  5. Fresh, clean foods (no red meat, processed sugar, alcohol, corn, soy, processed foods, wheat, etc)

  6. Acupuncture

  7. Cooking with turmeric

Infrared Lights

More and more people are using infrared lights to support healing.  I found these to be incredibly relaxing and calming.  Much the the impact of acupuncture, I felt deeply calmed by the use of infrared lights, which are purported to support the basic cellular metabolism and healing.

Tips / What to Expect

  1. Stairs: Trying to navigate stairs is tricky after surgery and on crutches.  Try to avoid stairs all-together for at least 1 week after surgery.  Have others support you if stairs are necessary.  When you do go on stairs, it’s “up with the good, down with the bad”

  2. Everyone experiences different levels of pain, swelling, and fatigue.  You can expect at least some of all three.   


  1. Post-surgery

    1. Showering: Expect to give yourself a sponge bath the first day or two after.  Set up a folding chair in the shower. Get help and try to use a floor-level shower, rather than trying to step into a tub. You will likely be given a water-proof  stocking to wear over your leg for the first several weeks.

    2. Eating: Depending on your response to anaesthesia and pain medication, as well as your level of pain - you may have a reduction in appetite after ACL knee surgery.  If you are nauseous, you can talk to your doctor about anti-nausea medication. You may do better with bland foods.  Be sure to eat something (even if it is a cracker) when you take your medication.  

    3. Bending and Straightening your leg: This is a bit different for everyone.  You may be restricted to bending your knee no more than 90 degrees for the first few weeks, to keep your knee safe.  It is important to work towards full flexion and extension overtime. The sooner you can get full extension, the better. Complete flexion and extension can take several months, due to tighteness, protection, and swelling,

      1. CPM machine: Although some doctors do not use the CPM machine at all, those who do will likely suggest that you use it for 4ish weeks.

    4. Sleeping on your side: The first few weeks after surgery, you will likely not be able to sleep on your side.  A good reason to practice gentle chair yoga during your recovery.

  2. After initial recovery

    1. Removing incision tape (usually after 2ish weeks, depending on level of bleeding)

    2. Weight bearing & Crutches

      1. 30% weight bearing (after 1st week) / 50% weight bearing (after first few weeks)

      2. Walking with one crutch (3-4ish weeks)

      3. Walking with no crutches (2ish weeks after you start walking with 1 crutch)

    3. Driving: If you have an automatic car, you will be able to drive short distances as soon as you are no longer on pain meds and as tolerated by your knee. If your car is manual, you will need to work with your physical therapist to manage pain and build strength enough to use the clutch, which may take several weeks.  

    4. Running: It will likely be about 4ish months before it is safe to return to activities such as running.

Compassionate Determination

How can we be fierce and committed in our goals, and still remain open to different pathways and modes of getting to those goals? One of our primary texts of yoga, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the following advice is given: Sthira Sukham Asanam. This can be translated in the following way: The way in which we relate to the manifest world should embody both a resilient understanding (compassion), and a steady focus (determination). When setting goals, plan to bring compassionate determination. Stay determined to align with what you are here to do and your metrics for success, while bringing compassion to the process of getting there.

Setting realistic and attainable goals and creating useful tools for measuring our success is an essential tool.  It is important to consider clear parameters for your goals. The process of living and manifesting our visions is never linear. Creating unique and individualized goals, as well as adapting to and refining goals as your ideas are re-shaped through interaction and experience, is important.  The less clear you are about what is most supportive to you now, the more likely you are to be overwhelmed by “everyone else’s ideas”.

Many of us have been taught to invest in the results or the attainment of a specific goals in a way that can sometimes lead to rigidity and stress.  Over time, we define our happiness in such a way that it becomes conditional on the outcome.  Although it can be crucial and supportive to create goals, it is also important that we remember to invest in the process (not the outcome). The moment we couple our happiness (or sense of self) with something conditional, we have entered a contract that will result in either: temporary and shallow happiness or guaranteed unhappiness.Learning to take advantage of the utility of goal-setting, without attaching one’s happiness to it, allows enjoyment and excitement in the process, even when it (as is so often the case) does not happen in the way that we expected it to.  At a deeper level, this is the practice of learning to be with the reality of the present as it is, not as we want it to be AND moving from the present moment with the capacity to manifest our visions. From this perspective, we are embodying the belief that everything is fundamentally okay and that we are inherently and unquestionably valuable exactly as we are. Moving from this assumption, we create goals simply as tools to organize our thoughts, actions, and the physical world around us - honoring the absolute gift of the experience of being alive.

Guest Blog 3: Sara's Wellness Coaching Journey

They say that in order to walk the warrior’s path, one must first surrender.


What is the war we’ve waged upon ourselves? Does it live in our brains? Our hearts? What kind of warriors are we aiming to be? What is the battle? And why, in order to achieve our accomplishments, must we first surrender?


Those are deep questions. And I’m still looking to be able to throw a white flag. But I don’t know if I’m there just yet.




Let’s step back for a second, back onto solid ground and away from my hyper-extended metaphor.


This week’s session was difficult for me. Much less invigorating than the previous ones because we got to a pretty deep place when talking about interpersonal relationships. And the trouble I’ve been having with them recently. It made me realize all the ways I’ve been having trouble my whole life.


The holidays are a hard time. Especially if you’re away from family. Especially when everyone is busy doing their own things. The weather is colder, the days are shorter, and people tend to get depressed around this time.


That usually isn’t the case for me, but I stayed in town instead of going home. So I felt extra lonely. I’ve been in a year-long transition and keep trying to find my balance. Usually, the way I am used to coping is by spending time with other people. Busying myself until I can busy myself no longer and can finally sit quietly with myself and my thoughts. It’s a constant feeling of homesickness that I am trying to quell with meaningful conversation and time spent.


To me, it’s no big deal. Because I pride myself on giving of myself to other people. I am happy to do it and rarely ever say no to others. I like being a good friend. This is what Megan and I examined this week. It’s not that simple. She asked me three very pointed questions in regard to these things:


·   What am I getting from my giving?

·   Is my giving based in fear?

·  Am I giving without expectation of return?


What am I getting from my giving? Before being asked this, I didn’t think anything. I thought I was just being nice. But I am getting something from being a good friend – the feeling of being a good friend and on some level: validation. Yes, Sara. Thank you. You ARE awesome.


Is my giving based in fear? It certainly has been in the past, in regard to dating relationships. In most of my past relationships, I was knocked off balance by inconsistency and my trying to regain it was in an unhealthy way: by giving as much of myself as possible to show the person how much I cared and hoping that they would start to reciprocate again. Spoiler alert: it’s never worked. And I ended up at a much lower point because I gave so much of myself away without practicing any self-care.


Am I giving without expectation of return? Again, before I was asked this, I didn’t think I was expecting anything from other people. And I would say that a good 75% of the time, I’m still not. But this ties back to the first question: yes, on some level I am expecting something back. If not in the moment, then as kindness down the line eventually. But with expectations come disappointments. And feeling uncared for, etc.


Megan suggested meditation. I couldn’t even concentrate on the one we did before delving into our session. Instead, I reached out to my lovely friend The Internet and came across this quote by Danielle Koepke on Tumblr a few hours later:


It’s easy to feel uncared for when people aren’t able to communicate and connect with you in the way you need. And it’s so hard not to internalize that silence as a reflection on your worth. But the truth is that the way other people operate is not about you. Most people are so caught up in their own responsibilities, struggles, and anxiety that the thought of asking someone else how they’re doing doesn’t even cross their mind. They aren’t inherently bad or uncaring — they’re just busy and self-focused. And that’s okay. It’s not evidence of some fundamental failing on your part. It doesn’t make you unloveable or invisible. It just means that those people aren’t very good at looking beyond their own world. But the fact that you are — that despite the darkness you feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others — is a strength. Your work isn’t to change who you are; it’s to find people who are able to give you the connection you need. Because despite what you feel, you are not too much. You are not too sensitive or too needy. You are thoughtful and empathetic. You are compassionate and kind. And with or without anyone’s acknowledgment or affection, you are enough.


It’s so hard to remember that in the moments you need to. Different people are different and part of the whole self-awareness finding-self process is finding that other people aren’t always going to be able to communicate the way they care in the way you need it at that very moment. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. But it’s also not their job to take care of you.


That’s something I need to remind myself of from time to time. Maybe more often. That, and to just breathe. Meditation works, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. Back to the trenches, and in the meantime I hope you will join me in Copia’s 30 day New Year’s challenge! The team has come up with 30 days of inspirational challenges for us to share on social media. Head over to their Facebook for more details!



Guest Blog 2: Sara's Wellness Coaching Journey



This week’s session was simultaneously a whirlwind and exactly what I needed. Something I find incredibly interesting is therapist or wellness coaches or whoever always trying to thread the line from parenting to our current behavior and worldview. It’s not really something I’ve ever thought too much about until this last year. Mostly because I thought myself an incredibly autonomous person. But as my once-favorite-book The Celestine Prophecy pointed out: we are direct results of our parents’ personality types.


Maybe this is why I got so into Myers Briggs personality types. I like to know people’s motivations. Not that a personality type can excuse someone from bad behavior. But I like to see the world through different lenses all the time.


It’s why I write. But I digress.


So today we sort of unpacked my relationships with my parents and how that has affected me - specifically my mom. A caveat I always state when talking about my relationship with my mom is that she has always meant well. She has always done exactly what she thought would make me happy. What she never stopped to realize (perhaps because she never had a wellness coach or a therapist who dug deep enough or asked the right questions) is that what made her happy was never going to make me happy. Did I need a personal trainer as a chubby 12 year old? No. But she was skinny and thought that would make me happy, too. Because boys.


Fast forward 17 years later: I’m gay. And still a little above average weight-wise. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


The other thing Megan and I discussed was processing emotions. More than ever, do I wish there was a contraption that you can insert your heart and brain into and it would process them both together and alleviate any form of anxiety, fear, sadness, hurt, or worry. Such is not the case. So we have to deal with the emotions ourself. And we do it in 3 ways:


  1. Psychologically: we explore the narrative / story we tell about our experience.

  • Oftentimes we merely react or project when we are feeling vulnerable or fearful or anxious or upset or any other number of things on the spectrum of “negative” emotion. I know I do. And the way that manifests is generally in compulsion because if I can’t control other people’s actions, then it leads to me not being able to control my feelings. And then I end up projecting my frustrations in an unhealthy way. And that is, well, unhealthy!

  • So I am learning how to investigate these stories within myself. How to seed them. How to unpack the emotion and create a story for the what/why/how (and not necessarily the who, because that causes blame again.)

  • It’s important to allow these feelings and to stay or sit with them instead of immediate repression or expression.

    • For example, after sitting with my feelings about my new relationship and the inquiring within as to why I have been anxious lately, it was only that I was able to come to the conclusion that a lot of uncertainty for me is triggering. And talking about it creates intimacy that I am not used to after being pressured into or feeling like I had to bottle things up in previous relationships. That’s the story and baggage we carry.

    • This led back to the parents. Because everything does. We talked about attachment styles (smother mother, emotionally distant dad, guilt things, etc.) At some point, there is a disconnect because we seek similar attention to what we grew up with. Sometimes that’s not necessarily attuned to our specific needs, however. Which leads to the next area of processing emotions…


  1. Spiritual / Mystical Perspective

  • The most important management tool for emotions via this lens is realizing that emotions are energy. And the awareness of that energy helps you observe the narrative and how that affects the true nature of the emotion.

  • Our most natural state is love and compassion. Before you close the window and chalk this up to being nothing but a subtext of “The Secret,” hear me out! Have you been in a relationship where you were wounded and then cut yourself off from all possibility of another relationship? I’ve done it. I’ve claimed celibacy more times than I can recall, only to serendipitously be thrown into another relationship a few months later. (See also: the last few months of my life.) But I don’t see it as a bad thing. I see it as practicing staying open, which is the most important part of understanding with compassion. I just needed a few months to regroup.

  • The goal is the journey, y’all. Things fall into place every moment of every day. We’re constantly moving forward, even if we are backsliding. Those are my pearls.


  1. Physical Expression of Emotion

  • This one may be the hardest for me. As someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, most of my expressions of emotions are physical. If I am anxious, that turns into me organizing my books in color order or counting all of my steps or counting to 8 over and over or washing my hands until I feel like they are clean enough. And these are all physical distractions from anxiety. And the anxiety is fear. And the fear is placed inside of us from things gone wrong over and over before. We only have our own experiences to draw from, after all. So it’s not that surprising of a thing for us to recoil when we feel a current experience mirroring a past one.

  • But one of the most important things I have learned, especially around physical expressions of emotion is to let it happen if it needs to. I’m not hurting anyone. And certainly, if I am doing it healthily (like cleaning my bathtub instead of showering 5 times or going to the gym instead of walking around the block and counting my steps), I need to let it happen. It’s my anxiety, and I can clean if I want to!

  • And then I need to make fun of it. Because that’s how I deal with things. I swear that I’ll have a stand up OCD act one day. Until then, I need to imagine what “level 10” of this physical expression would be. And rest assured that I can control it not going there again. I just have to be present.

Okay class, any questions? Kudos to you if you made it this far!

I think the biggest thing gleaned from today’s session would be this: The relationship binary is trustworthiness and imperfection. And learning how to work with them - with yourself, with your parents, with your significant other - is the goal. Once we realize that we are all (on some level) imperfect, it is only then that we can find someone else who works with our personality and allows for our wholeness. Forcing people to live to an impossible standard only leads to disappointment. I have been on both sides of that before and it’s no fun.

Interested in Health and Wellness Coaching with Megan?

Guest Blog: Sara's Wellness Coaching Experience

Whenever I heard the term “wellness coaching,” I’ve always thought about soccer moms in white tennis skirts, holding lattes while nodding their heads to whatever life advice another ex-soccer mom in a tennis skirt, who was just “a little more enlightened” would give them.

I was wrong.

And that’s okay. Because I’m on a self-improvement journey. And I swear I’m not an LA soccer mom in a tennis skort.

I am a late 20’s writer who has finally decided to take control of her own destiny. Maybe I shouldn’t use phrases like that or words like destiny. I just wanna get better. There.

I’m a person who has dealt with anxiety my entire life, but it wasn’t until 9 months ago that I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is through this wellness training with Megan Lipsett and Copia Health that I intend on breaking through many of my compulsions.

As Megan explained it, these compulsions are coping mechanisms that turned into habits that turned into things that I physically couldn’t help. Or that I thought I couldn’t help -- my mental habits were “running the show.” The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I’ve done with my therapist has helped in this arena -- a lot. I only shower once or twice a day and limit myself to reorganizing only when it’s absolutely necessary. The counting is a little more difficult, but it’s all a process. What I’m hoping to fix with wellness coaching is the obsessive part. The hamster on the wheel in my head that won’t get off. The cars on the Autobahn. And the highway is my brain

I also see a therapist and I have a personal trainer. I know this isn’t helping convince anybody that I’m not secretly a soccer mom. I just have a lot of time on my hands because I quit my job and am trying to find myself. But I’m not Lena Dunham and I don’t have a television show or a book deal with which to do that.

The main difference between therapy and wellness coaching is the relationship. Megan is now my spiritual/health/mental guide. She is the Rafiki to my Simba. And I am truly looking forward to being held up on Pride Rock while the rest of the animals cheer because I made it!

So, we started with what triggers me.

My entire life, I have felt entirely disempowered by people “we-ing” me, starting with my mom telling me, as a chubby 12 year old that “We should get a personal trainer.” (Spoiler alert: she’s a size 0. By “we,” she meant “Sara.”) Ditto with Weight Watchers when I was 18. A life of therapy. Etc. In my first session with Megan, I processed that and realized that’s exactly why I hate group gym classes and can’t stand my friends who want to be “accountability partners.” Part of me even thinks that’s how or why I became resentful and ended my most recent relationship. I don’t like being a we. I just want to be me.

The problem is, up until very recently, I wasn’t quite sure who that me is. I still sort of don’t. I mean, I have all the labels:

  • ENFP

  • 4w3 Enneagram

  • Gemini

  • Rising sun in Leo

  • OCD

  • Millennial

  • Social Media Manager / Copywriter

  • Floridian New Yorker living in Denver


  • And all of those are in my “About me” on the dating site I’m on. (Not the OCD part, obviously. I’d like to think I could save that tidbit til the second date!) But do those things actually define me? I’m not so sure. So, this wellness journey will help me engage all the layers of who I am, as well as get me to where I want to be. The trick is figuring that out first.

I do know this: I am ready to stop the rushing faucet of thoughts and turn them into smooth lava lamp ones. I may even get a lava lamp to meditate on.

Follow me on my journey. Maybe it can help some other skeptics out there.


Who made all this stuff I use?

Have you ever wondered who made the shirt that you are wearing, the environmental impact of the food that you are eating, or what happens to prescription medication that gets “thrown away”? Chances are, it wasn’t made in your community, or even your country.  In fact, it is estimated that 86% of seafood, 50% of fresh fruit, and 20% of the vegetables we eat come from another country.


While we have become accustomed to eating every type of fruit all throughout the year, or expecting to have access to fashion from around the world; this convenience has a high price. The downside to the globalization of our economy turns out to be pretty drastic, and includes:


1. Disconnection from our foods and products.

Lack of understanding, empowerment, or choice about the quality of our foods and products.

2. Chronic illness and dis-ease.

The less we know about what we are consuming, the more likely we are to consume things that do not contribute the health and well-being of our bodies and minds.

3. Choosing profit over sustainability.  

Profit-driven corporations choosing manufacturing, distribution, and disposal practices that are detrimental to the environment.

4. Resource inequality at the global scale.

Studies are beginning to show that resource consumption in wealthy areas leads to ecosystem degradation in areas inhabited by poor members of society, thus affecting the health of multiple groups of people (Corvalan et al., 2005).

5. Hidden energy costs.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research has shown that nearly half (46 percent) of the energy we use is indirect, meaning that the energy is used to produce, package, distribute, and dispose of foods, medicines, and consumer products. The highest level of indirect energy consumption is in health care services and pharmaceuticals, and the second highest is in food production and preparation.

6. Hidden social damages.

Social and socio-economic impacts that go unseen because of the complexity of the system.


What can you do to consume more consciously?/make more conscientious choices? What resources are available? There are a variety of ways that the problems inherent to globalization of our economy are being addressed.  These include: Truth in Food Labeling (In 2007, a new law came into effect from the The U.S. Department of Agriculture - this “Country of Origin Labeling”, or “COOL” law, requires food retailers to notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods), certification programs (i.e. fair trade and organic), “Buy Local” movements, purchaser education (e.g. and buycott), and product life cycle systems (see below).


Have you thought about the life cycle of your products? Product life cycle systems help to show the links between social needs, how to meet those needs naturally and economically, and the environmental impacts this creates. Life cycle assessment (i.e. cradle-to-grave analysis) evaluates the resource consumption and environmental burdens associated with a product or activity associated with all the stages of it’s life cycle (such as extraction and transport of raw materials, manufacture, packaging, transportation, maintenance, and disposal).


Would you have purchased the (“shoes on your feet”) if you knew the factory where they were made (provided unsafe conditions for its workers)?  Social life cycle assessments consider the social and socio-economic impacts of a products life cycle. This kind of assessment considers impacts on the workers, the local communities, the consumers, and the society. This takes into account human well-being (quality of life, living standards and human development, welfare, life satisfaction, basic human needs fulfillment, human development, happiness and utility).


There are some manufacturers and producers who are standing up for transparency and integrity in the life cycle of their products. Here are a few who are raising awareness and making socially and economically responsible choices :


1.Tumeric ALIVE

Tumeric ALIVE uses organic, non-GMO, domestic, and family-farmed ingredients. The ingredients are chosen for quality and health benefit.  We love that they do not add excessive sweetness to the drink (as nearly ALL other drinks, “health drinks” included, do). In fact, this drink uses ingredients known to benefit digestion, immunity, and cleansing.


Tumeric ALIVE is committed to transparency in the relationship and information exchanged between the manufacturer and the farmers. When possible, Tumeric ALIVE purchases ingredients from farms that are local to the manufacturing facility. They report being committed to buying from, selling to, and supporting local businesses. The distribution facility had been certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and is powered by renewable energy.


After speaking with Daniel Sullivan, the founder of Tumeric ALIVE, it is clear that he is bringing awareness and discernment to his choices, working to choose the most sustainable practices possible in the making of the product line.


2. Jamii Goods

Heather Snyder, at Jamii Goods, is taking the commitment to socially-responsible business even further. JaMii is a socially conscious business that creates opportunity for female artisans from Uganda, Cambodia and India to sell their work in order to gain economic freedom and independence. Heather has personally worked in each of these countries, doing service work for a variety of social causes and working directly with the partner organizations. Jamii is committed to supporting the female artisans in creating sustainable livelihoods and achieving economic independence.


3. Numi Tea

Numi Tea has created long-standing partnerships with farmers and built cooperative farming model enables workers to become shareholders, and some of their teas are now fair labor certified. Numi reports fair treatment of workers, better working and living conditions, and an overall improved quality of life for families and communities. The products are also fair trade certified, which guarantees farm workers are paid a minimum fair wage for their labor and empowers them to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities. According to Numi, the worker community votes democratically on how Fair Trade premiums are used to invest in education, health, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.


With the interest of reducing carbon emissions wherever possible, the Numi team has been tracing supply chain outputs since 2009. According to Numi Tea, they carefully monitor the impact of the logistics for transporting our raw materials from all over the world as well as travel and have conducted annual emissions audits. They then purchased an equivalent amount of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) through Big Tree Climate Fund.

Part of the vision of COPIA Health, is to raise awareness about the impact of the indirect energy use inherent to our products and services.  We believe that remembering our connection to the greater web of existence will naturally inspire us to explore ways to reduce our energy expenditure. Raising awareness about the embodied or indirect energy used in the life cycle of a food or product will generate practices in conscious consumption, promote ecological sustainability, and encourage participatory self-care practices.