Stanford University entrance with Memorial Church

Ideas for Impact: Stanford Alumni for Social Impact at Night of Ideas

New decade, new ideas! What better way to start off 2020 than at an evening full of forward-thinkers, innovators, artists, and community organizers all with one goal: to have a positive social impact on our world.

This is exactly what happened at the annual Night of Ideas sponsored by the French Consulate in Los Angeles. As the social media representative for newly formed alumni group, Stanford Alumni for Social Impact, Innovation, and Investing, I attended Night of Ideas, hosted by the Natural History Museum, to learn about what my peers were doing to make this world a better place for all.dinosaur skeleton exhibit at natural history museum in los angelesThe worldwide theme for this year’s Night of Ideas was “Being Alive.” My first inspiring conversation of the night happened at the XPrize Foundation booth. The XPrize Foundation, with some notable Stanford alumni like Google co-founder Larry Page sitting on the Board of Trustees, and Stanford Women in Business president, Priyanka Jain participating in their Innovation Board, uses global competitions to solve some of the world’s most critical issues, and hopefully bring “us closer to a better, safer, more sustainable world.”

After speaking with Haneen and Anya, both very enthusiastic XPrize representatives, I learned that a recent competition resulted in lowering carbon emissions while using the emissions to make items like sneakers, sweatshirts, and even vodka! As we chatted about all of the different arenas where social impact is necessary, I was thankful to be in a room with like-minded change agents.

XPrize foundation and the Google lunar challenge

Next on the agenda was an inspiring mini lecture by Evens Stievenart, world class cyclist and race car driver, on the importance of mental and physical endurance. The 2019 winner of Race Across America, Stievenart was the perfect candidate to talk about how training his mind and body enabled him endure extreme conditions, ultimately driving him to champion status. Walking the audience through his rigorous daily training schedule, which includes a mindful meditation practice, Stievenart inspired the crowd with his closing words. “Activate your body, activate your mind. I was looking for my limits and I haven’t found them yet. You don’t know your limits yet; you don’t know what you’re capable of. Trust me – you are more powerful than what you think.”Evens

Wow! What great words from this French champion to motivate everyone to make a positive social impact, no matter what area of the world we inhabit. Continuing on through the Natural History Museum, I met community organizers from Friends of the L.A. River, Black Girls Trekkin’, and Latino Outdoors. It was inspiring to see such a diverse representation of Angelenos working together to make the world a better place for all.

Which is exactly the mission of Stanford Alumni for Social Impact, Innovation, and Investing: to unite alumni who are passionate about incorporating the principles of social impact into their professional and personal lives. As a global alumni group, we’re able to connect with alumni and community leaders from Los Angeles to La Paz to London…and everywhere in between!Stanford alumni gathered to participate in community serviceAs our group begins to plan events around innovation in the social impact sphere, as well as how to invest in socially responsible ventures and companies, we would love for you to be involved. If you’ve ever participated in Stanford’s Beyond the Farm community day of service, this is a way to keep that spirit alive throughout the year. Join us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and of course through your Stanford Alumni Association page.

New decade, new group, and more social impact!

 

 

sitting on bench in outdoor area with trees at Healience resort

Back to the Source: A Wellness Tour in South Korea

hills on lake in SeoulI’ve only recently begun to understand the power of my words, manifestation, and how to define my future with clear intention. In early October 2019, I stood up from my desk after a frustrating call with client and huffed, “I need a week in South Korea”. To my surprise, within a week I was contacted by the Korean Tourism office about a possible campaign highlighting their wellness properties. Yes, yes, yes!art park in SeoulHow could one say no to a week of wellness activities in a country that I fell in love with only a year before? But this trip would be quite different from my visit to Seoul in 2018. No fashion week runways, no tasting menu accompanied by wine pairings from South Korea’s best sommelier, no dancing until dawn. In fact, I’d be waking up with the dawn to enjoy wellness experiences like nature hikes, spa treatments, and meditation exercises meant to cure anything that ailed you.forest walk along small creekWhile en route to my wellness tour in South Korea, I thought back to a presentation that I had heard over a year ago on the other side of the world. At ILTM in Cannes, Anna Bjurstam, founding member of Global Wellness Summit, discussed wellness travel, its growth, and offered a name for that transformative thing that can happen while on a wellness tour. This transformative thing, which Anna termed a “wellness gateway”, typically occurs while we’re on a relaxing vacation, health retreat, or nature excursion far from the demands of our daily lives.

My wellness gateway in South Korea began at Vista WalkerHill, a luxury hotel nestled in the Achasan mountains just outside the bustling city center of Seoul. With panoramic views of the Han River, I enjoyed an invigorating foot spa, some much-needed laps after a long flight, a couple of vigorous hikes to the hills nearby, and my favorite – a private soak in a cypress hot tub under the light of a full moon. Time to define my future with clear intention!front window of Vista Walkerhillfoot spa with bubbles on deck at Vista Walkerhillfront façade of hotelsitting on edge of indoor pool at Vista WalkerhillOur next destination led us a few hours outside of Seoul, the perfect setting to escape from the fast pace of urban life. A stop at Museum SAN, the name a homage to Space, Art, and Nature, beckoned me into a dome that was designed to represent both a womb and a tomb. As the meditation music melded with the tinkle of tiny raindrops, I felt worlds away from any stress.meditation dome at Museum SANart display in field at Museum SANsculpture and red leaf trees at Museum SANtrees reflecting on pool at Museum SANyellow leaves on tree at Museum SANreflection of building and sky on pool at Museum SANMuseum SAN was the perfect transition to our wifi-free mountain retreat at Healience Resort. As we ventured further into the Wonju mountain range, I couldn’t help but marvel at the magnificence of the tall trees in all of their fall glory. Who knew that the next morning these same trees would lead me to happy tears, a pleasant side effect of this forest bathing experience amongst the statuesque Korean pines. yellow trees at Healiencemeditation cave at Healience resortsinging bowl at meditation cavehealthy meal at Healience resortFull moon at night over Healience resortMore meditation and mindful eating followed in this resort designed to help you go within. Into that endless well of wellness inside of you. But how to tap into that source? Our tour guide had the perfect answer: a visit to Jeju Island, home of South Korea’s first health and wellness resort, WE Hotel. WE, standing for “water energy”, is appropriately named after the healing properties of the high grade mineral water used in all of their treatments.

But treatment is an understatement to what I experienced at this wellness resort. A crystal sound bath was first on the agenda. As I relaxed on the floor, intense sound waves reverberated through my body. Earlier in the week, each of the tour participants had to choose a word to describe the mood after our forest bathing among the powerful pines. “Release”, I said. It seemed to envelop my feelings at that moment, and where I was at in my life overall. Ready to release the past, partial relationships, and previous disappointments. It was time.tea ceremony at WE hotel in Jeju Islandpool therapy room at WE hotel in Jeju IslandTears flowed endlessly. My body shook. This symphony of sound waves moved through every cell, clearing the chaos. It was as if I was both orchestrating it and a participant, as I watched a translucent figure rise up and out of my body. Pain leaving. 

A water massage awaited. Submerging into the soft touch of the water, I followed my therapist’s lead as he held me like a baby, pushing and pulling my body through the warm pool. After a delicate dance of therapeutic poses that left every limb loose, he lifted my cushy corpse up and out of the glowing water, leaving behind any remnant of discomfort. He held me up for what seemed like an eternity, but was really only a magical moment suspended in time. Offering me up to some higher plane, the gateway to my inner well.

Wellness never felt so complete! Of course this release didn’t happen like the flip of a switch. Harboring pain in different areas of my body, mind, and spirit had been a gradual process which required an even more paced and tender approach to the healing that was taking place on this wellness tour in South Korea.foot spa and rock massage area at Paradise Seouldj booth and sauna at Paradise SeoulRenewed with an assured aura and attitude, I now felt like stress would just slide off and out of me. As our wellness tour closed at the mega-spa in Paradise City Seoul, full of over a dozen treatment pools, stone therapies, water slides, and endless options for both relaxation and fun, I thought about how I could continue along my wellness path back home.indoor pool area at Paradise SeoulVIP area at indoor pool in Paradise Seoul hotelOn my return flight home, I realized that we are our best healers. Once we discover our inner wellness source, which exists in all of us, the opportunities for healing are endless. And it’s exactly what modern medicine doesn’t want us to know. Pharmaceuticals, prescription pills, and addictive drugs, whether it is in our food or prescribed by a doctor, all prevent us from becoming our own holistic healers. Whether it’s Coca-cola, codeine, or cocaine, it is designed to prevent you from becoming your best self.

Find those opportunities to tap your inner well. Go on a nature hike this weekend, book a spa vacation to Seoul, or download a meditation app. Foster those moments for wellness. Open up the gateway.sitting in black bikini in front of dj booth and sauna room

 

white flower that looks like a georgia o'keeffe painting

New Year, New Decade: Live Your Life with Value!

IMG_3212.jpgThis New Year’s, I didn’t want my resolutions to be made from a place of lack, or what I was “deficient” in, but from a mindset of motivation. Oftentimes, resolutions seem to highlight areas of our life where we feel we are “inadequate”, or have some behavioral issues that are preventing us from living our best life.

Instead, I wanted my resolutions to come from my own inner well of inspiration and insight. So I revisited an exercise that I had completed in the spring of 2019 from the Allbright Academy titled “Define Your Values.” This exercise was a segment in the first lesson from the Entrepreneurs course called Project You, an honest and reflective program that I needed to refresh myself, my brand, and my business.IMG_2330The exercise asked you to go through a list of over 100 words and narrow them down to the three, yes only three, that held the most power for you. Whoa! Narrowing this list down was going to be tough. To give you some perspective, just the words starting with “T” were going to be hard to get rid of!

Tact

Talent

Teamwork

Tolerance

Tradition

Transparency

Trust

Truth

After culling the list for the first round, I grouped the words into categories and noticed some trends. I admit it was hard to eliminate some of the 120+ words, so after realizing what was important to me, I made some statements about my values with the dozen words that made it through to the final cut. Here are two of the four statements I created:

“Vitality and health allow me to have the energy to be positive and live a full, fun, and happy life.”

“Abundance and wealth allow me to be generous and create opportunities for others while having choices in my own life.” 

IMG_5827I figured if my plan to improve my life in 2020 came from things that I valued, I would have a better chance at achieving my resolutions. Reflecting on that first statement, I looked at some of the words that contributed to that sentence: presence, health, image, spirituality. Having already partially committed to that statement in 2019, I thought about how I could magnify my health and vitality in 2020. 

In the spring of 2019, I stopped drinking alcohol. I found it was limiting my productivity, making me sick, and restraining my physical potential. How could I improve on this for 2020? What small change can I make in 2020 that will improve my vitality and health, allowing me to live by my values? A self-proclaimed donut addict, I will be reducing my processed sugar intake from my daily sweet in the morning to once a week. I’m going to start small! This is a new year’s resolution I can handle. 

This small commitment made me think of the book Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, PhD. I remember something that he said that really stuck with me in terms of resolutions, behavior change, and all that good stuff that helps us get on track with our best life. “You can do this habit,” he recommends when choosing a behavior to change. Choosing something that I literally can do will set me up for early success with my resolutions, and inspire me to eventually make supportive and complementary behavior change later in the year, and in my life. IMG_3705

Gratitude

Learning

Education

Potential

Financial Freedom

These are some of the words that led me to create my second statement: Abundance and wealth allow me to be generous and create opportunities for others while having choices in my own life. One opportunity that I’d like to create is a writing scholarship. While that may seem like a daunting task for someone who still has student loans and credit card debt, at least I know that my core values are leading me in the right direction. 

So how can I turn this into a new year’s resolution? While I may not be handing out a scholarship in 2020, I am putting some tiny behaviors in place today that will lead me to financial freedom. Just last night, I looked through my spending habits and debit card activity, and found ways to reduce frivolous purchases. Tiny habit – go to CVS once a month instead of twice a week!IMG_3198After completing this values exercise early in 2019, I looked at how I was being compensated for my work. When some collaborative partners didn’t want to pay me for my creative work, I turned down those projects. As hard as that was at the time, I knew those projects were not in alignment with my values, nor were they going to enable me to become financially free and leave a legacy of scholarships. My content is quality, insightful, provocative, global – I wasn’t going to give it away for free. As I build on that statement for a 2020 resolution, I am charting out the ideal client. I want collaborative partners who share some of my other values: sustainability, adventure, intimacy, healing. 

However you formulate your 2020 resolution list, do what matters to you. Start with what you value and reflect on what matters to you. While it will probably look different from those around you, that’s ok! Encourage your support network to do the same and revel in the wide range of what keeps us all going. I’ll leave you with a quote from motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru, “There’s no beauty without difference and diversity.”IMG_3234

 

we

Casa & Mar: A Wellness Hotel in Rio de Janeiro

wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroA house and the sea. Such a simple concept, and yet that’s what makes it so elusive. What is it about the ocean, about nature, that draws us to ourselves? I had a chance to reflect on this while visiting Rio de Janeiro’s only wellness hotel, Casa & Mar.wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroCM25Set up on the cliffs outside of a small beach town north of Rio called Maricá, Casa & Mar is the perfect location to explore wellness – in every sense of the word. With sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean from every room, this ideally situated hotel is a natural gateway to healing and health.wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroSpeaking of healing and health, as I learned from Anna Bjurstam, Vice President at Six Senses Spas, during her presentation at ILTM in Cannes, “Wellness Tourism” is 25% of the global tourism market with a value of over $639 billion dollars. Just this past year showed a 14% increase in wellness travel bookings! As Anna pointed out, “wellness gateways”, a term she uses to define an experience, a person, or even a location, are a person’s first experience with health and wellness, and are often discovered on a vacation or retreat. Maybe I had just entered a wellness gateway here…

 

 

So why are people spending more time seeking wellness vacations? I found my answer at Casa & Mar. From the moment you enter the gates, there is a garden greeting you with fragrant flowers and fauna, including my favorite Brazilian fruit, maracujá! Walking down the path to the reception, I was welcomed by the owner of Casa & Mar, Alex Reznik. Greeting me with a guava smoothie, he told me more about the history of Casa & Mar.CM30“I had been looking for a place to build a health and wellness hotel; I searched all over the world. And I found this beautiful enclave!” Sharing more about his own health history and philosophy on fitness, Alex started my tour with a visit to the hotel’s impressive gym. With every angle overlooking the sea, I knew it would be an easy feat to stay on the treadmill and squeeze in a workout with such an incredible view! As we headed back towards the reception, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the glimmering pool below. I already felt better!CasaMar1What could be better than a dip in this gorgeous pool? Sitting at the pool’s edge and peering out over the vast ocean. In fact, as I gazed out over the natural beauty, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by poet Khalil Gibran: “In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.”ALEX01-yourshadowOf course, another key element of wellness is taking care of your body, both inside and out. As part of my visit to Casa & Mar, I had an evaluation of my posture by Dr. Alex Kalinin, trained in osteopathy, as well as a private sunrise session with yoga instructor, Julia Glazkova. Painfully reminded of my sedentary lifestyle back home, I knew that sitting for hours in my office chair was definitely not a key to wellness! With a spa menu that includes shiatsu, lymphatic drainage, and sports massages, just to name a few, it was hard to choose. But you must not leave Casa & Mar without trying their Signature Hammam experience. Tailored to fit your physical needs, the hammam experience uses essential oils from Brazil, clay, steam, scrubs, and of course a therapeutic massage to leave you feeling in total bliss!IMG_5441Bliss was just this. A meditative massage with the soundtrack of the sea below. I felt completely transformed! Back in my suite, I sank into my bed feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. As the gently lapping waves lulled me to a sweet sleep, my freshly massaged limbs melted into the cool sheets, and my mind into a dreamlike state.EEAF1C30-44A5-4944-BB2A-98C776F94A0BIMG_6368IMG_6478CM5How to lure me from my dreamy suite? With the seductive aroma of freshly grilled shrimp and bananas coming from the café below! During my delectable lunch, I learned more about Mr. Reznik’s plans for future wellness-themed events around yoga, healthy cuisine, and homeopathy. Joined by guest chef, Karen Slater, who was visiting Casa & Mar to infuse the menu with some of her unique creations, we all chatted about the evolving trends in travel.CM15CM19CM18Biting into the succulent shrimps, I listened to Karen share some of her ideas for the new menu. Having owned and operated two cafes in New York, with a focus on organic, vegetarian, and vegan food, Karen highlighted the addition of grilled eggplant and sweet potatoes, and what already sounded like my new favorite – pineapple cake!wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroWith a full belly and a happy heart, Alex and I walked up to his neighboring hotel, Pousada Colonial, where he maintains a garden that fuels much of the hotel menu. Star fruit, aloe vera, papaya, grapes, mint, and so many more glorious finds in that garden! I knew Karen would be thrilled to use these local ingredients in her new menu – I’ll have to sample some of her inventive recipes on my next visit…CM6IMG_6449CM3Back at Casa & Mar, I ventured down to the rocks to get a closer view of this natural landscape that locks in the hotel from all angles. Once there, I was completely transported to another realm. There is nothing like communing with nature. As I listened to the roar of the rhythmic waves, a flood of gratitude rushed over me. Maybe this is why wellness travel is trending. To push people back to the simplicity of nature, away from our electronic lives. To open our hearts to gratitude and wonder. The longer I sat in this sacred space, the further my seaside meditation led me down a reflective path.CM24wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroCM26CM10As I thought about the name of the hotel, Casa & Mar, I flash-backed to a psychology class where I learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. With basic needs of shelter, food, and health met, only then do we move on to fully appreciate and experience love, strength, and self-actualization. Health – the important element that I was reminded of here at Casa & Mar. Reminded through the food, touch, conversations, yoga, nature, and meditation that I experienced during my visit. I felt complete.CM20CM21CM7wellness-hotels-in-rio-de-janeiroBack on the patio of my suite, I remembered a quote from one of the other presenters at ILTM Cannes: “The greatest wealth is health”. As I breathed in the balmy breeze, I knew exactly what that meant. Rich in every sense of the word, I was healthy, happy, and whole. COLINAL_VISTA01

Contact me to book your visit to Rio’s Casa & Mar!

 

 

Credits:

Photography: Bitlab Media

Makeup: Alicia Ramirez

Wardrobe: Lenny Niemeyer & VIX by Paula Hermanny

 

 

how-to-stay-healthy-while-traveling

Healthy Habits Go Global

My first solo trip was to a yoga retreat in Spain, back in the summer of 2006. I think I was prompted by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, with an emphasis on the “pray” part. Seriously!

But what was most pivotal about this trip was learning how to honor my body, from the inside out. I walked away from the Kaliyoga retreat with a fresh focus on my mental, physical, and spiritual health. Since then, I always travel with these things in mind and do what I can to foster that sense of calm, wellness, and peace wherever I go.

Yoga at W
Poolside yoga at W Beverly Hills, California

Whether or not you practice yoga, one thing that you should always try to integrate into your routine while you travel is some exercise. It’s a great way to both deter and recover from jet lag, as well as give you that natural high! Some tools that I always bring with me, and luckily don’t take up too much space in my carry-on, are my yoga socks and gloves, an exercise band, and a jump rope.

MBGSTaylor Workout Gear

Yoga socks are helpful when you can’t travel with your mat and want to squeeze in some yoga wherever you are. While they’re not critical to performing a meaningful yoga practice, they definitely help grip your palms and feet to slippery floors. If you’re staying in an Airbnb and there’s no fitness center or studio nearby, these are good to have on hand. Luckily, many hotels will deliver mats to your room, but better to travel prepared.

No studio? Don’t let that be an excuse! If I’ve forgotten a yoga sequence, or just want some new inspiration for my routine, I turn to one of my favorite Instagram accounts by Dr. Shauna Harrison, whose videos and photos take you step-by-step through all kinds of moves with some funky beats as background music. Read my interview with this fitness powerhouse here!

Shaunalifts
That time I worked out with Dr. Shauna Harrison!!!

I love exercise bands, although I sometimes hate doing the exercises that go with them! They are multi-purpose and you can look online for different routines to get the most out of yours. They’re perfect for resistance moves, and take your leg lifts up a notch! An exercise band can also double as a make-shift strap for those yoga poses that require some serious stretching. Paschimottanasana, anyone?

I’ve traveled solo to many places, and some destinations are more dangerous that others. But don’t let this deter you from getting in some quality cardio! A jump rope is a good thing to carry along if you’re staying in a place where you feel unsafe running at night, but want to squeeze in a good workout. Or if your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center, this is a good way to get your heart rate up at a nearby park or plaza during daylight hours.

MBGSTaylor Nutrition Pack
My nutrition arsenal

Whether you’re traveling for work or heading out on that well-deserved vacation, one thing is for certain – your eating habits will change. There’s usually an increase in alcohol, whether at a client dinner or the trendy nightclub down the way, which ends up taxing your liver. This is one of the worst ways to derail your usually healthy diet and send your system into overload.

Before you even get to your destination, plan ahead and call your airline to change your inflight meal to something healthier. I always opt for the “Low Sodium” meal after learning the hard way that some airlines interpret “Vegetarian” as rice smothered in fattening, sodium-laden sauce.

MBGSTaylor Airport Snacks
Healthy fruit packed in a recycled container – easy!

Another thing to consider is what you’re going to eat while you wait endless hours at the airport if your flight is delayed(highly probable!). While airports are increasingly adding health-conscious options for travelers, plan ahead and eat something either before you leave home or on the way to the airport. One of my favorite pre-flight meals is my green smoothie recipe from Kimberly Snyder that I drink on the way to the airport. I also carry some cut up fruit in an old yogurt container that I can quickly eat and then toss while I’m in that long security line. Apples, bananas, and oranges all make good choices too, and have eco-friendly “wrappers” that can easily be tossed into the trash.

belmondteaJPG
Tea service at Belmond Iguaçu Falls

Snacks are another key part of staying healthy while you travel. I always have a small arsenal of teabags, nut bars, seaweed chips, granola, and a piece of dark chocolate in case I need to ease any hunger pangs. And don’t forget to pack your vitamins and supplements! Those can be hard to find in some out of the way locales. My mini-medicine cabinet includes magnesium, powdered greens, milk thistle, and elderberry supplements.

ammasampler
Break open in case of an emergency!

Finally – relax! This means different things to each of us, but do spend some time offline. One of the best things about my aforementioned yoga retreat was that it was before the smartphone era, and so it was easy to “disconnect”. While I’m as guilty as the next person of scrolling through Instagram or reading work emails, it’s critical to your mental health and wellness to take a break every once in a while.

MBGSTaylor Decompress

One of my favorite ways to get in touch with my inner spirit is to write in my journal. Whether it’s reminiscing about my latest adventure or making a list of things that I’m grateful for(flight being on time, a room upgrade, or simply the opportunity to travel), spending time writing down my thoughts is a great way to relax.

bathtub
Candle: model’s own, Champagne & Bubbles: courtesy of hotel

Speaking of relaxing – create a mini-spa in your hotel room! I always bring along a eucalyptus-scented candle to freshen up my hotel room, in addition to some bath salts to soothe tired muscles from long overnight flights. And one of my favorite ways to treat myself is to do a calming moisture mask to revive my tired skin. Leave it on while sitting in the bath, or while you’re plotting out your itinerary, and emerge renewed!

MBGSTaylor Travel Spa
Travel-size spa-aaaahhhhh!

If you absolutely MUST look at your phone, at least put on Insight Timer. It’s one of my favorite apps that has endless guided meditations, soothing sounds, and positive affirmations to help you tune in while tuning out.

All of these items won’t take up much space in that precious carry-on luggage real estate. Choose your favorites and enjoy your next travel adventure with a healthy heart, powerful body, and revived soul!

RelaxHotel
Start and end the day with an attitude of gratitude!

Contact me to book your next relaxing & rejuvenating getaway!