Time Marches On.

No matter what, the sun rises + sets. Another day begins -- a fresh slate, a brand new start. Our lives are always in motion + it's so important to understand that time marches on -- during the good, the bad + the ugly. Here are 3 tips that ground me.

When I find myself waiting for certain things -- or in a rough patch -- I've found the following to be super helpful:

1) Fill your days with the things you love. Delicious meals, exercise + wandering. Whatever makes your heart happy!

2) Plan an adventure. It's always fun to have something to look forward to. I adore traveling so making plans for our next trip is always exciting -- whether it's near or far.

3) Take a yoga class. Connecting your body + mind to your breath is extremely powerful. You reset your central nervous system + have the opportunity to quell any worries or anxieties. You move + flow -- and it's pretty magical. If you're in NYC, try classes at exhale or Earth Yoga. If you're in Ridgefield, try classes at Ridgefield Hot Yoga or Grow Wellness.

When all else fails, shut off your phone, snuggle on the couch with a juicy book! :)

What helps you when you're in a rough patch or waiting for things? I'm all ears!

A tiny gesture of kindness.

Last night, I arrived at Harlem 125th Street train station - commuting in from CT. It was torrential downpour. Luckily I had packed an umbrella but I can often forget! As I sped-walk to the subway, I noticed a woman walking with as much gusto — but no umbrella. I asked if she wanted to come under mine; we kept the same cadence. She said, nice people DO still exist. I smiled, and said of course, we are here!
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She asked if I reverse commuted as well, sharing she works for Dannon (the yogurt company, amongst other products) in White Plains. We spoke about how she was transferred from Mexico City. I asked how she liked New York? She said it’s good but can be lonely, that she has family visit her often.
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I asked if she likes to exercise, she said she likes to run. We discovered we both live on UES + enjoy running in Central Park. I gave her my card. We plan to meet up for a run!
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Never underestimate the power of a simple gesture of kindness. 

Stay the Course.

A full circle moment…Beyond energized to share this news…

In March, I started teaching fitness at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine Center. This opportunity has been in the works since last summer. Though I’ve been planting the seed for years.

I will be starting a young adult program for cancer patients + thrivers. My dream + goal – classes, workshops + community events. This is so needed. Something that I wish excited when I was a patient recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, when I was 23 to 25 years old.

MSK is a large institution + it can be tough to start something new. I had reached out to the Integrative Medicine team for years – the timing simply wasn’t right. And I stayed the course. The stars finally aligned when I met with the administrator, Dr. Mao, in September of last year. The opportunity truly felt surreal. I am so excited by this next adventure + challenge. My heart knows there is a young adult community waiting for something like this. I’ll stay the course + we will build this brick by brick. What a true dream.

At the moment, I am working at MSK on Monday’s – with the idea that more time will be added once this program gets going. I’d love to hear your thoughts + ideas – please do share!

Embracing the Unknown

We don’t know what the future holds. I am a natural born doer + planner – in work + life. I often find myself constantly thinking about the future. The anxiety can be crippling. Here are 3 tools I use to help me stay grounded.

1)   Protect “Me” Time. I regularly carve out time to rest + recharge. Every other week, I have appointments for acupuncture + massage therapy. These are nonnegotiable. We so often put others’ needs in front of ours.  Long term, this is not sustainable.

2)   Take Small Steps. I think about what tiny action items I can tackle to move toward my goals. Can I make a quick phone call? Do some research? Take a quick 30-minute run? Respond to an email? Achievements take time, focus + determination. Patience is a quality that I work on everyday – understanding that our to-do list will always exist.

3)   Practice Mindfulness. I pause, take a deep breath + bring my awareness into the present moment. How does the earth feel beneath my feet? What do I notice around me – sounds, smells, sights? This allows me to arrive in the moment + come home to my body. Full, deep breaths.

Remember, paying attention to the present moment can help ground us + reduce stress/anxiety. It’s a practice that requires consistency. No one knows what the future holds. We only have control over our own actions + behaviors. We simply do the best we can with what we have. Be sure to sweep away the excuses, they can hold us back. Believe you can + you will.

You Are Enough.

I'm just back from 10 days of sunshine in Grand Cayman. It's super tough for me to "turn off". I deeply enjoy my work, so my brain is always buzzing with ideas. Go, go, go, it cheers. This past year, I've been pretty hard on myself, especially after our ectopic pregnancy. 

As we’ve been trying for a family for 1+ year, the rollercoaster of fertility has been a true life hurdle. Even though I feel like I shouldn’t, I feel sadness, guilt + shame. I wonder how the process of building a family would’ve been different had I not been sick with cancer. The chemotherapy I received during my 2nd bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma certainly impacted my fertility. It is a miracle I didn’t go into early menopause + I am grateful for that. I wonder, did I have an ectopic pregnancy because of the chemo? Unfortunately, there is no known reason why ectopic pregnancies occur — there are risk factors, but I don’t fall into any categories.

Regardless, this has been tough. All around me: pregnant bellies, pregnancy announcements, newborns. My heart wishes we’ll have ours soon.

There is so much information on fertility/infertility out there — I am often overwhelmed to sift through. It’s challenging to know when to make certain decisions. I frequently have to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can. You are enough.

Acceptance has been a giant lesson for me. As an event planner, I’m quite used to lovely calendars + sketching out our schedule months in advance to squeeze the juice out of life. I’ve had to adapt to become more fluid. Kindness + compassion have been pillars as we continue to navigate this space. I do feel the sense of heaviness through my body; but I keep positive - knowing goodness ebbs + flows.

I wish I had a magic potion to lift us up while we’re down. We keep moving forward + keep the faith that our time will come. You are enough.

give yourself permission to succeed

I am a Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer with American Cancer Society + American College of Sports Medicine! On Friday, I walked into the testing center, belly full of nerves. I'll admit, I had PTSD from taking my GMATs twice a few years back. Little did I know, I really didn't need my MBA to cultivate the path I'm on now. 

I knew I wanted to study and earn this certification. There’s an estimated 16 million cancer survivors – and they really need support! Exercise reduces the risk of recurrence. I am super energized to start working with this population. I can, firsthand, understand the challenges of a cancer diagnosis, treatment + recovery. I will hold space for these brave souls. We will get stronger together. More to come on that front!

In 2012, I was studying hard for the GMATs – I really wanted to go to NYU’s part-time MBA program. They had an amazing concentration in nonprofit management + social innovation. One of the toughest pieces of the GMAT (at least for me) was time. I actually could get most of the questions correct, but part of the challenge was that you really didn’t have much time. You had to act fast. I struggle with cognitive issues and delays + looking back, I was in denial that I needed to request extra time. I thought, what will the school think? They probably won’t accept me if I ask for extra time, etc. The nasty internal narrative went on and on. Well, I never ended up requesting the extra time – and I didn’t do well enough on that darn standardized test to get accepted into the program. Door closed.

Fast forward a bit, I recall trying to balance into Crow’s Pose during a yoga class. The teacher said, give yourself permission to succeed. That concept has stuck with me ever since. So often, we get in our own way. There are seriously endless excuses we can give ourselves for not achieving something we’re interested in achieving. It comes down to the desire + commitment. I’ll often hear, I don’t have time to exercise.

I was recently chatting with my sister, who has one of the busiest schedules I know -- managing working + 3 children with special needs. During this fuller time in life, she has transitioned into in-home workouts – that works for her. She rises early + gets her workout in before anyone else is awake. Right now, she’s doing a program that’s 6 days a week for 20 minutes. I mean, 20 minutes?! I think we all can squeeze that in. I digress a bit.

 So, this concept of giving ourselves permission to succeed. What would that look like for you? If you just simply got out of your own way + moved forward into a space that felt energizing to you. Of course, it might be really freaking scary. I get it. Been there. I’m there. I kinda thrive there. But you can do it. If you are doubting yourself, I’m here to tell you – YOU GOT THIS. I BELIEVE IN YOU. YES YOU CAN.

Now, let’s go make this day, week, month, year – the best it can be!

 

 

3, 2 and 1. Finish Strong!

I talked about this concept recently on my Instagram @ChiChiLifeNYC + it resonated with many. As we counted down the end of the year, I reflected on the concept of finishing strong.

As a fitness teacher + movement devotee, I’ve been noticing how, during class, the “and 1” at the end of a countdown often gets lost. I wonder how many 1 second finishes I’ve been missing all these years. It may seem small, but I’ve been bringing my awareness to finishing the “3, 2 and 1” sets super strong. It’s easy to just roll over at the end, especially with just 1 second left.

But what if you continued to push ALL the way to the end. Each second is an opportunity to make a change, each day is a fresh slate to follow through — to the “and 1”.

Stay strong, I’m right there with you.  

ROUGH PATCH? I GOT YOU.

Life can get tough. Sticky. Rocky. Email me your mailing address + I'll send you a card full of sunshine. No questions asked, all love. I got you. I can understand some of the hurdles we experience in life + here's why I think support is so important to healing. 

Simply put, we feel less alone. When we can crack ourselves open to our friends + family, it opens up the path for us to support one another. We are humans who experience the high’s + low’s of life. Surrounding yourself with people who “get it” — no questions ask — are the ones worth investing your time + energy.

When we can share the tough parts of life, we can step in to simply show up for each other. Visits, cards, calls, texts, gifts — and more. These boosts of kindness help us move through life’s challenges. Even when we don’t think possibly anyone can understand — and perhaps they really can’t — our friends + family will be there for us unconditionally, if we let them.

Remember, shoot me a note with your mailing address (lauren@chichilifenyc.com) — and a surprise will arrive in your mailbox! Lifting you up.

RIDE THE WAVE.

Last week, I met a new friend in CT, a freelance writer + breast cancer survivor, who -- after a long marriage -- went through a divorce last year. She noticed my MSKCC tattoo + said, I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo in the SAME SPOT on my wrist! I asked her, what are you thinking? “A wave” she replied emphatically. And we dove in.

Let’s call my new friend, Susan. Susan told me how life is tough + you have to keep moving forward. Through all the waves – the good + the bad. You simply have to learn how to ride the wave.

This got me thinking about the ability to be flexible + fluid – with all of the curveballs that happen in this life. “Riding the wave” has been such a strong theme for me this year – with my shoulder injury, purchasing our first home, my ectopic pregnancy, mom’s major back surgery + my hubby Russ starting a new job. There have been lots of bumps + transitions. I haven’t been feeling all that grounded – and to be honest, I’ve felt a little lost.

How do I spread my energy + efforts – in both CT + NYC? We are sharing the time at the moment. I want to build business + community up in CT – but also adore my tribe in NYC. It’s difficult for me to envision how my life will look in the future. The event planner in me always wants to have a timeline! I’ve been patiently learning the art of fluidity. Embracing the unknown – with a delicate balance of still putting coals in the fire to keep the goodness flowing.

Currently, I feel like the waves are knocking me down. But nothing beats putting your feet strongly back in the sand + standing back up – stronger than before. Who’s with me? I know Susan is.

THIS IS LIFE!

E-Biking + Planking in the French Alps!

E-Biking + Planking in the French Alps!

We were in France cruising down this giant mountain on our e-bikes (before I hopped off for this plank photo!). And I kept talking about how incredible the views were + how blessed we were to be in this moment. A fellow retreat friend, Sandra, squealed with excitement, THIS IS LIFE! Indeed it was.

The time in the Alps was really rejuvenating. Connecting back with nature truly helped my soul. It’s been a tough few months. If you’ve been reading along, you know the story. I’ve been trying to be really patient with my body + mind as they bounce back from our ectopic pregnancy. I find the sadness comes in waves + I’ll randomly find myself crying, unsure of what triggered the tears. There still is this sense of loss, but we are confident we will have a little one someday.

In the meantime, I’ve been soaking up the magic of the summer + enjoying life. The idea of, THIS IS LIFE, reminds me everyday to enjoy the simple pleasures.

 

Warm hugs.

Fresh coffee.

Joyful smiles.

Ability to move.

Good friends.

Good family.

Lovers of life.

Learning new things.

Curiosity.

The list goes on. Traveling encourages me to live in the moment + helps me to immerse myself in my surroundings. I simply adore it. The exploring. The learning. The adventure.

I hope you start this beautiful fall season with the theme, THIS IS LIFE. Savoring the simple pleasure life moments.

SURRENDER TO WHAT IS.

As a professional event planner, I truly love to plan! Go figure. Time really slipped away from me this month as I have been trying to stay afloat -- balancing work flow along with life hurdles. So it's 7:27pm in NY, but 1:27am in Paris. But I'm committed to sending this beautiful love note to you all within the first few days of the month. 

In the land of Lauren, surrender + acceptance walk hand-in-hand; like best buds. When challenges arise, those are the true tests of your strength + character. There are some tough dynamics that I cannot control + I truly try to arrive with my two pals; surrender + acceptance. I understand what I can + can't do. What is within my control.

I can control my attitude + actions + positive spirit. Even when I feel like shit; guess what; I pull myself out of it + show up for my community. I adore you all + it's so important for me to provide you with warm hugs + smiles. I hope they help you as much as they help me.

Lifting you up from Paris! Off we go to the French Alps for an epic Active Travel + Simply Luxury retreat with my pal Karen - who I teamed up for my Heart, Soul + Barre retreat last July in Bali.

Je t'aime!

Villanova Women: The Art of Slowing Down - Event Recap!

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I started these quarterly events to empower women to have open discussions -- the goal is to have a shared human experience with elements of movement + personal / professional development. I am a firm believer in community + connection -- and when we can come together + be vulnerable, we are stronger together.

So, how the heck do we slow down? In our full-of-goodness world, it can be tough. Last night, beautiful Villanova Women gathered at Sweaty Betty Tribeca in support of this effort. Aileen Axtmayer of Aspire with Aileen + Lori Gildea of The Pure Bag joined me in sharing their stories + insights into how we can integrate self-care into our lives. We kicked off with a Core Blast + Restorative Yoga class then dove into our intimate chat. Post-class, we were fueled by Sweet Nova - delicious + refreshing Smoothie Freezes - + enjoyed 20% off Sweaty Betty's new collection!

Thank you Sweaty Betty for our matching Power Leggings!

Thank you Sweaty Betty for our matching Power Leggings!

Lori shared how her experience with illness (from bacteria / virus that she picked up at the gym) inspired her to start The Pure Bag - the stylish + germ-resistant way to protect your gear. and you! Using resources + relationships through ICE, the Villanova Business school accelerator, Lori has built her brand + business + launched recently - in March of this year. I love the passion + dedication Lori has poured into her business + The Zip Pocket goes with me everywhere.

As a holistic health + career coach, Aileen spoke about how her brother's fight with Hodgkin's Lymphoma inspired her to take her health + wellness more seriously. She spoke about setting boundaries, understanding your why / defining your values, figuring out life hacks to fit in the experiences that are meaningful for you + finding out what works best for YOU.

What an energizing evening -- I always leave these gatherings feeling motivating + inspired. Thanks for everyone for shining bright + showing up! Raffle prizes were generously provided by Chi Chi Life, Aileen, Lori, LYMBR + Sweaty Betty.

Do you know a NYC-based Villanova Women? Have her sign up here to stay in the loop

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Keep Moving Forward.

This year has been pretty tough – shoulder injury, ectopic pregnancy + my mom’s back surgery. The outpouring of support has been so heart warming. I truly don’t know if I could navigate these life hurdles without my community – so thank you for being you. I’ve learned, once again, the importance of moving forward.

There have been so many days – past + current – when I don’t want to face the day. I’ve struggled both body + mind. But I have been keeping the blind faith. I stand so rooted in my belief of consistency. Doing what you can. One foot in front of the other. I keep saying to my mom – step by step. It’s so darm true. During recovery – and in life – we simply take small steps to move forward toward our goals.

I’ve often felt like a fish out of water – flailing + flopping around. I go back to exercise. It lifts me up when I am down. Despite being in worst shape I’ve been in since I started Chi Chi Life – I am trying to be kind to myself. I’ve always been extremely hard on myself + I’ve gotten better over the years. I remind myself of what I can control. I choose my outlook + my actions – not the situations / moments that happen. And I choose positivity + being of service to others.

Even when I’m in the depths of life hurdles, I strongly believe that it’s important to keep moving forward. I have a deep drive to squeeze the juice out of life. Each day is a gift + we can choose to focus on gratitude. There is always something going on in our days + lives that we can be grateful for.

Right before bed, Russ + I ask each other what we are grateful for? We share tiny + giant moments. We set the tone for sleep on a high from the day -- and the commitment to keep moving forward. How do you move forward each day?

Young Adult Cancer Survivor Resources

At the age of 23, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December 2007. I received 6 months of chemotherapy, was in remission for 6 months, relapsed + received a Stem Cell Transplant in April 2009. For more on my story, check out this Health Magazine article. I've been working with patients + their families for 10 years. I love sharing this awesome list of resources; I hope you find them helpful. Email me with questions or additions, lauren@chichilifenyc.com :)

Support - 1:1, Group, Social Work

Imerman Angels / Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Patient + Caregiver Support Program / Gilda's Club (NYC) / Cancer Care / Lacuna Loft / The Samfund (grants)

YA Cancer Networks

Stupid Cancer / Annual OMG Summit / Livestrong

Cancer Survivor Retreats, Trips, “Camps” - FREE!

First Descents / Athletes 4 Cancer / SYBeInspired Foundation / Project Koru / Cowgirls vs. Cancer / Dream Street Foundation (Ages 18 - 24)

Fitness Classes

Yoga4Cancer (free or donation-based) / Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Integrative Medicine Center

Inspiring Cancer Thrivers

Boundless by Kara / Woody Roseland / Suleika Jaouad / Ethan Zohn / Rach DiMare / Ali Shapiro / Tiffany Dyba

Thoughtful Gifts

Because Love / Vented in Brooklyn (Save 15% w/Code: CHICNYC15) / Beyond Boundaries Outfitters

Books

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We were pregnant + then we weren't. I had an ectopic pregnancy + on MON 5/14/18 I had emergency surgery to remove our wandering soul 💛
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An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, in my case — the fallopian tube. Less than 1-2% of pregnancies are ectopic + they're quite dangerous. I only knew about it through the fierce @jenpastiloff — she had one several years ago. I admire her bravery in sharing her story. I felt less alone knowing someone else had gone through this. That's my hope in sharing with you, my sweet + supportive community✨
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Holding hands with my love @rscmika has been my savior. It reminds me —
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I am loved.
I am safe.
I am strong.
I am courageous.
I am alive.
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We will get through this.
Hour by hour.
Day by day.
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We will carry our little wandering soul in our hearts always + forever ❤

Be A *ucking Super Star!

A few years ago, my friend bought me Danielle LaPorte’s #TruthBomb deck. It’s a collection of awesome little cards that fit perfectly in a note or sit snuggly on top of a desk – doses of inspiration + awesome reminders. I got to thinking about how we can best support each other + how we are stronger together. 

For those of you who know me, community is everything. I strongly believe in the power of community + supporting each other. It means showing up. It means taking a risk on someone who might be starting out. It means helping others who need it. It means trying to include everyone. It means making connections, building bridges + forging new paths.

I love giving #TruthBomb cards to my friends! We all need reminders that we can rock life – that we already have the innate ability to tackle challenges. We just need the courage + the belief to take the steps to move forward.

Who can you reach out to today to remind them how amazing they are? Tell them you notice how much they care, how hard they try + how they are crushing life. Sometimes you need a phenomenal humas to remind you to “Be A *ucking Super Star!” – you know?

 

 

YOU VS. YOU

I often reflect on obstacles that hold us back from what we really want. Our goals, aspirations + dreams. How do we make the magic happen? Sure, there are outside realities that need to be considered — but it really comes down to YOU vs. YOU. 

I don’t know about you, but I have frequent conversations with myself.  I try to rationalize, analyze + figure out the game plan of my business + life. This self-talk can often hold us back from what we’re really looking to achieve.

Here are a few my internal narratives + how I choose to move forward—

  1. What if I fail? There's always the fear of failure. Always. It really doesn't go away. What fuels me is the feeling of regret. How I will feel if I DO NOT take the chance / new opportunity / risk. I make an active choice to push past the resistance - which isn't easy.
  2. Is this what I "should" be doing? Oh man, this one is a doozy. "Should" held me back for a long time. I still trip over it from time to time + what a deep practice it is to push through the "should". I try to sit with my decisions + listen what my gut is telling me. Usually, I can tell pretty quickly if something is the best fit for me.
  3. What will people think? At the end of the day, you're the one living your life. You're in the driver's seat. My dad once told me, "when you close the door at night, you're the one that has to live with your decisions" -- and that is so damn true. Only YOU have the power to choose how to live your life. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you!

YOU VS. YOU is a dance. I encourage you to talk with your friends + family about what you feel is holding you back. When we bottle up our feelings + emotions, we can start to feel pretty isolated. In our super connected world, our vulnerability can truly help each other -- and ourselves. 

 

International Women's Day - Playlists!

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Tune into these playlists -- featuring rockstar female singers + songwriters! Cheers to strength + empowering women all over the world today, and everyday!

Here's my playlist for my TRX/Pilates 30/30 class.

Here's my playlist for my Pilates class.

Here's my playlist of everything that I couldn't fit into 2 hours of classes - hint, there's A LOT of goodness!

What / Who are your favorites? Did I miss anything? Comment below!

Take the Risk.

Chi Chi Life celebrated 3 years last month. GIDDYUP! And over these years, I’ve taken many risks. Some have worked out. Some flopped.  I firmly believe in the power of taking risks – that leap of faith. You know, when your heart starts to beat faster – and you start to doubt your decision. This is why I think it’s all worth it.

1)   You grow. If you didn’t take a chance, you wouldn’t have the chance to grow. I never feel like any new risk or leap of faith is a waste. I use it as a building block to my next challenge.

2)   You learn. Each experience teaches me valuable lessons. Sometimes the nuggets of wisdom are more obvious than others. Nonetheless, I approach each phase of my business (+ life!) with an open mind + heart.

3)   You ignite change. When you take risks – it can be infectious. One of my hopes with Chi Chi Life is to inspire others to live their best lives. Life is tough – and when we can be vulnerable + share, I believe we can help each other.

What was the last risk you took? How’d it work out?

Less But Better.

I’m in the depths of reading a pretty life-changing book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s all about the philosophy of “less but better”. Which goes against the grain a bit. We think we can do it all. We’re pretty conditioned to think more is better. More clients. More events. More classes. More money. This will all lead to more success. More of nearly anything will make us the happiest, right? After reading even the first few chapters, I realize I’ve been sorely mistaken.

There are 4 clear parts to this book.

  • Part 1: Essence, what is the core mid-set of an essentialist?
    • To kick off, the author talks through the power of choice, the unimportance of practically everything + examining trade-offs.
  • Part 2: Explore, how can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?
    • Now we’re in it. McKeown discusses the perks of being unavailable, assessing what really matters, the importance of play + sleep and finally, the power of extreme criteria.
  • Part 3: Eliminate, how can we cut out the trivial many?
    • We then cull through the non-essentials. The author shares the power of clarity + a graceful “no”. He goes on to highlight the benefits of uncommitting + setting boundaries.
  • Part 4: Execute, how can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?
    • Here’s the time to take action. McKeown talks about removing obstacles, the power of small wins + the genius of routine. Focusing on what’s important now is vital.

Overall, the takeaway is that Essentialism is a lifestyle – and it takes work and oodles of mindful choices to sustain the philosophy. But here’s the good news – there are loads of benefits including improved clarity + added joy in the journey of LIFE!

This is going to be a big theme for me + Chi Chi Life as I ease into 2018. What are your intentions / goals / hopes / dreams for 2018? I can't wait to hear!