Lance Svendsen on His New Book titled Run Anyway – A Story About Running in Two of the Most Famous Marathons in History

Author Lance Svendsen’s new book on running, life, and hope. Bottom line: a must read.

Lance Svendsen is so many things, a father, a pastor, a runner, and a writer to capture it all. 

Always having an interest in people, Lance sought opportunities to help everyone he met. Lance’s interest in people allowed him to easily transition into youth ministry after college, where he felt a strong purpose in helping young adults navigate life and their faith. Lance felt particularly called to preaching within youth ministry, despite it personally being nerve wracking to do so. The belief that Lance’s own discomfort helped others feel more comfortable and grow in their faith carried him through. 

Lance took this principle and strived to apply it in other areas of his life. Having an interest in running, Lance saw the opportunity to run in order to raise money for his cousins, who had recently lost their father, Lance’s uncle, due to cancer. Lance was determined to run in the New York City marathon, a worthy feat, and had just one month to prepare. In 2012, however, the marathon was cancelled for the first time ever due to Hurricane Sandy. Despite the race being cancelled, Lance wanted to fulfill his promise of running for the cause and, when Lance reached out to others who were going to participate in the race, he uncovered a whole running community that related to his strong desire to follow through on a promise. In just 35 hours, Lance organized a race that was attended by over 3,000 people as a substitution for the missed marathon. At the starting line, Lance realized just how much racing meant to so many of those runners- an opportunity to show up for the individual causes they believed in. 

This was enough to motivate Lance to help organize and participate in many other races, such as 500 for the Fallen, a 500-mile continuous relay leaving from Concord, MA and arriving at Arlington Cemetery to raise awareness for children who have lost a parent while serving in the military. Lance also participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he finished the race just 10 minutes before the terrifying terrorist bombing occurred in downtown Boston. It’s easy to say that Lance’s running experiences have shaped his perspective around life, faith, and personal sacrifice. 

Lance continued using his gift for running and true grit in Guatemala, where he volunteered for an organization called Hope of Life. With Hope of Life, Lance would go on foot into specific Guatemalan villages, that could not be accessed via car, to bring sick children to locations with proper medical care. Although at the time the guide that runs this program would not normally allow non-natives on these dangerous trips, Lance had just completed a 50 mile race, which he used as leverage when convincing the guide of his willingness and ability. It’s as if all of the pieces leading up to this moment fell right into place. 

Lance just recently released his first book called Run Anyway, documenting this incredible journey from makeshift marathon to perilous trek through the mountains of Guatemala. The book documents this series of events from a first person perspective, much of the book being inspired by intimate excerpts from the personal journals that he kept throughout his life. These journals formed the building blocks for the book, which expertly knits together both significant national and personal events to take the reader on an incredible journey. 

During our interview, when I asked Lance about one thing he learned throughout the book writing process, he mentions that he’s glad he didn’t wait longer to start writing. When Lance first began, he didn’t know how his book would end, but he knew that he had a story to tell.

It’s a story about the recalibration periods in Lance’s life. Chances for Lance to self reflect and to ensure that he is always on the right trail, going the right way. 

It’s about someone who stepped out of their comfort zone and then stepped out again. 

It’s about adventure, catastrophe, faith, and hope. 

It’s about life. 

Give it a read. 

Get the book here!


Gua Sha – the Next Practice to Add to Your Skincare Routine

Sponsored by our “editor-in-chief of the day” winner: Luna Zhang!

刮痧: gua sha, pronounced as “gwa shah”.

Most of us have seen the words gua sha when perusing online beauty blogs and facial menus, but what does the term actually mean? How do you practice it? Where did the practice even come from?! I did a deep internet dive to answer some of the most pressing questions around this new trend in skin care, so let’s get into it. 

rose_on_Twitter-removebg-previewAccording the Health Magazine, gua means “to scrape” and sha refers to “sand or small pebbles” in Chinese, a the term that directly describes the traditional Chinese medicine practice itself. Gua sha dates back to as far as the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, according to Ping Zhang, DOM, L.Ac, a New York–based traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) guru, recently featured in Vogue. The practice was originally used as a home remedy to treat heatstroke and other mild illnesses, where practitioners would use knuckles, coins, spoons, and other tools on the patient’s back to increase circulation and supposedly draw out toxins. Because there was a significant amount of pressure used during the process, bruises would often form where the skin was pressed and intense red marks were left on the back. Gua sha relates to the Chinese belief in qi or chi, which needs to be balanced and flow freely to ensure good health. 

Although the recent skincare trend has adopted the same name, westerners are practicing gua sha in a very different way. In western practice, skincare enthusiasts are using the practice on their faces to drain the facial lymphatics from excess fluid, relieve facial tension, and reduce the appearance of aging as well as sculpt the face. The practice is done with uniquely shaped stone tools, which are often made out of jade or rose quartz and, when applied to the face, is done with significantly lighter pressure as to not injure or bruise. Today, gua sha has been integrated into many facial treatments, where a skin oil is applied before the stone sculpting occurs and relaxation is the goal. 

Speculators believe that the practice might have become more popular in recent years because of one’s ability to inexpensively purchase the tools and practice a gua sha routine in the comfort of their own home. As the trend of self-care has increased, so have practices like gua sha! Gua sha also shows visible results within a short period of time, which has added to the practice’s intrigue. What is great about gua sha is that it can be performed by just about anyone. However, if you are interested in giving it a try at home, make sure that you are practicing in good form!

If you want to learn how to perform gua sha at home yourself, here’s a video for you!

Tools Recommended

  1. Gua sha ritual kit
  2. Rose quartz heart facial gua sha tool
  3. Jade gua sha facial lifting tool
  4. Transforming Petite Gua Sha Butterfly
  5. Virgin Marula Oil by Drunk Elephant

CEO Sit Down: Sara Ferrer on Zoey Koko

Inspiring girls everywhere to prioritize self-care with whimsical body products.

Sara Ferrer always knew that entrepreneurship was her destiny. Going to Babson further instilled in Sara an eagerness to build something of her own that embodied her true passion. Nearing graduation, however, Sara had encountered a fork in the road. She wanted to explore her entrepreneurial bug, but also needed real-world job experience. Sara decided to start a job at TJX as an analyst. The long days behind a computer screen, coupled with a lack of passion, made her realize that after 2 years, the corporate grind simply wasn’t for her.

Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 8.46.24 PMSara had always loved makeup, skincare, and beauty. She researched the spa industry and found a local 1200 hour esthetics program that would allow her to pursue her dream of becoming a medical esthetician. Sara’s day went from desk work at TJX to performing chemical peels, facials and waxing in a more social and dynamic atmosphere. When making the career change, Sara looked to her mom for inspiration. At 49 years old, her mom had transitioned from her 25 year corporate career to her dream job of becoming a high school Spanish teacher. Sara felt that her career change was a similar leap into the unknown and her mom’s journey was motivation to push forward.  

As a medical esthetician, Sara felt that she had fully tapped into her desire to make people feel good with her treatments. However, as time progressed, Sara noticed an alarming trend in the industry.  As beauty treatments promised faster and more dramatic results, women were fed media messages that created a “quick fix” beauty culture.  This, in turn, created rampant negative self-talk amongst her female clients. Sara started to question her role in providing help for these women, asking herself questions like “am I creating more goodness or darkness in the world by doing these procedures?” and “where is the point at which women go from feeling unstoppable to being incredibly insecure?” More importantly, Sara noted that many of her clients were mothers to young girls who were also starting to experience self-doubt and insecurities. This vicious cycle worried Sara.

Screen_Shot_2021-01-01_at_8.54.22_PM-removebg-preview (1)

Sara was then thrust towards another fork in the road. She could either continue to develop professionally and expand her medical skin treatment offerings or she could venture into the unknown once again. 

In thinking more about the root cause of the insecurities that she and her clients experienced, Sara realized that developing a positive self-image starts at a young age. During the tween years and younger, girls experience lighting fast social, emotional, mental, and physical changes. This can be a vulnerable time where self doubt starts to creep in. This is also a time when girls are introduced to the concept of self-care. Sara observed through her research that “For a girl, self-care is about social bonding, sleepovers with giggles, smelling lotions, and testing out nail colors- figuring out your own tastes, preferences, and uniqueness”. Sara noticed that there were exciting products for this age range on the market, but they had horrible, synthetic ingredients. She paired her knowledge of skincare chemistry with her passion for the healthy social and emotional development of girls and decided to start her own company, Zoey Koko.  Her business would specialize in tween bath and body products that are made in the USA, formulated with clean ingredients for sensitive skin, fun to use and featured uplifting messaging on all of their packaging. Who wouldn’t want to buy a body lotion for their daughter that is “infused with girl power” or a bio-glitter sparkle gel that is “infused with imagination”, as the label states?

Sara tested her products with hundreds of girls, showing her products at gymnastics events and girl scout spa events. Wherever she could get a trusted girl’s or mother’s opinion, Sara found the opportunity to refine and perfect her products. With a tried and tested product line, Sara had the confidence to drive to 50 retail stores around the Boston area to pitch her products, bringing her best selling unicorn body butter and a positive attitude. Can’t believe it? Sara did all of this, while still working full-time at the spa. 

From there, Sara continued to grow Zoey Koko by hosting mobile spa birthday parties for girls ages  6 to 12 year olds that centered around  spa day activities, such as facials, manicures, pedicures and a DIY craft. Sara’s mission was to sell her products, but also to provide an opportunity for young girls to foster happy memories around beauty, self-care and bonding. 



Although she has not been able to host any product parties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sara is optimistic in her business surviving great adversity, as she has surmounted great obstacles in every year of her business. 

“My first year of business was all about figuring out what I was doing. My second year was about honing in on my pitch and getting my products into retail stores. This year, my third year, has been all about expanding my e-commerce business,” Sara mentions. 

Just this past year, Sara has hired a new website designer to streamline the user experience, continued to test the market for future product releases, and looked to expand her products into more retail stores with the help of a toy sales group. And all of this hard work has paid off, as Zoey Koko landed a new deal with luxury children’s boutique Maisonette, and  tripled holiday sales projections. Add on to this the partnership opportunity Zoey Koko has with the e-commerce platform CityHome, as well as the cult following her shop has on Etsy and things are running full steam ahead. Her company has also made a significant impact in their contribution to the Big Sister Associate of Greater Boston, as a  percentage of the company’s profits are donated to this charity that Sara is incredibly passionate about.

For Zoey Koko, the future looks glittery, whimsy, and bright. And for the future of young girls? Things look optimistic, as Zoey Koko inspires imagination, confidence and positivity through the whimsical self-care products they provide. The brand’s mission of having girls everywhere “feel smiley in their skin” has only just begun.  

Ask Adam: Questions Everyone Asks their Therapist (Part III)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

There are some questions that everyone wrestles with at night when all of the lights go out. Why did that girl reject me? How do I stop constantly comparing myself to others? How come I lack confidence? I have recruited Dr. Adam Brown to help you answer some of those questions in our last part of our three part therapy series. I hope that this series has been an incredible resource for you and maybe encouraged you to think about seeking out therapy. You are never too young, too old, too smart, too lost, or too anything to begin therapy! And all it takes is saying to yourself “I need a bit of help”.

How do you consult people who have self doubt and a constant comparison to others?

The truth is that everyone has their own baggage and it is so easy to project how wonderful others have it. Yet, it is important to note that there are also plenty of people that have what we have and are content. However, this does not mean that the issue is not a complicated one. We want to encourage ourselves to be ambitious, but if the pursuit is not making us happy and the goals aren’t clear, we won’t feel better about ourselves. 

If you are perpetually someone who is looking for external validation, it might suggest that there is some unresolved grief, trauma, or depression that you should explore with a professional. Moving to the tropical island because life looks so great there is most likely going to leave you with a sunburn, itchiness from the sand, and missing home. 

How do you help a client with low confidence?

Fake it till you make it works, but it matters how much you are faking it. You have to go out and get yourself business clothes if you are working in business, but if you don’t know how to put business clothes on, it’s a problem. Similar to those who compare themselves to others, if you have low confidence, you have to pick some specific goals to work towards. My job is often helping people explore the things that are most important to them and siloing pieces of their life to focus on certain areas. I help some people get really focused on what they want and why they want it. If you want to move to Hawaii, talk to people that live there! Let’s just figure it out, step by step. Where do you see yourself in a month? I make it a rule not to set goals with a client more than 90 days out. Looking too far into the distance isn’t going to help you put one foot in front of the other today. Of course, it is important to have some long term goals, but what can we manage right now? What is it that you want and what measure we use to know that you’ve achieved it?

How do you help a client overcome rejection?

Rejection is a horrible feeling and the first thing to do is simply acknowledge the truth and reality of that. It isn’t ever helpful to say “just get over it,” but rather “what piece of the rejection do I own and what was out of my control?”

If you were applying for a job and maybe they already had a candidate in mind or the casting director was looking for a taller person for the role. Owning what is yours and really letting go of what is out of your control is so important in moving forward. One thing not to do is to beat yourself up over the other person’s impression of you. In a relationship, if you feel the compulsion to confront the other person about the rejection, it’s important to be prepared for an unthoughtful and unsatisfying answer. 

What constitutes a good relationship and what steps can you take to achieve one?

Communication, communication, and communication; I cannot say it enough. You don’t have much of a relationship if you don’t have respectful and constructive conversations with the other person. Here are some quick pointers that I live by when it comes to conflict resolution:

  • Be aware of your positionality or role in the relationship
  • Be aware of your tone
  • Understand what you want to get out of the conversation as well as what the other party desires, the baggage they are carrying, their motivations, and their perspective
  • Be specific in what you are looking to gain from the conversation
  • Speak in the first person, use “I” to say how you think, feel, and what you heard, not “you” to tell the other person what they think, said, or did. 
  • It is O.K. to express personal emotion in regards to the conflict, but make sure those emotions are relevant to the situation.  

Conflict in a relationship is healthy, and even necessary. Conflict avoidance is a slow death to a relationship. If you don’t have conflict from time to time, you aren’t being honest with each other.

About Dr. Adam Brown

Follow Adam on Twitter @adamofbruce

Screen Shot 2020-12-13 at 2.15.18 PMAdam Brown, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, City University of New York and a psychotherapist in private practice. His research has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including “Children and Youth Services Review,” “The Journal of Interpersonal Violence,” and “Sexual Abuse,” and he is an invited presenter multiple times annually at clinical and scholarly conferences internationally. His research has been featured in Rueters, Yahoo!, and Fox news, and he has appeared as an invited expert for comment on events in a variety of media outlets, including for “The City” in New York City, and the “Shanghai Media Group” (SMG) in China.

Dr. Brown is an expert consultant for Park Dietz and Associates in Newport Beach, CA, and a consulting clinician at the Institute for Sexual Wellness in Weymouth, MA. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and his Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work.

Ask Adam: COVID-19 Related Therapy Questions (Part II)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

Let’s be honest, life is incredibly tough and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it tougher on us. With unemployment at 6.7%, pandemic fatigue hitting a new high, and our loved ones becoming sick with the virus, 2020 is not all that we expected- and 2021 appears to be its evil twin. I thought that it was only necessary to interview Adam on questions regarding our current global pandemic. Although Adam disclaimed that there is no “one size fits all” solution to every one of my questions, he helped me to share his guidance on some of the most common questions we are all wrestling with over the course of the pandemic. I hope that this dialogue will be as helpful to you as it was to me when I sat down with Adam for this interview!

Adam, have you seen an increase of patients during COVID?

b625d5e2796629128c2d64b2d7dc636f-removebg-previewYes. Speaking for myself and what my colleagues tell me about their practices, our client books have become very full. However, these sessions have had to be modified to adapt to our “new normal”. Primarily, therapy sessions right now are actually taking place on Zoom. From a therapist perspective, the more information you have of the person that you are working with the better, so video communication is generally preferred to telephone. For example, it helps a therapist to see physical signs, for example if a patient hasn’t showered in a long time, in order to derive meaning from the interaction. From a patient perspective, if a video call is better for the therapist, it will be better for the patient in terms of receiving guidance and attention. Phone sessions are also completely fine if video isn’t an option or isn’t tolerable to a client! Whatever both you and your therapist agree on and are comfortable with is always the right way to go. 

What are the main topics on a lot of clients’ minds during the pandemic?

There are a few things that my clients are concerned about right now some of them being an increased sense of job insecurity, concerns about getting sick and even dying, and worries around the repercussions of losing a job or family member. Tangentially, people have been thinking about their pasts a lot and reexamining their current relationships, given that so many people have more time to reflect on these aspects in their life. Marital and relationship problems have arisen, since people have been living in such close quarters. Some of my clients in their time off, for example, have also even wanted to talk through instances of childhood abuse that have been suppressed. It’s amazing that, when we stop to reflect and process, so much can become unraveled that we don’t even know we are suppressing. 

How would you consult people that have anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and are even afraid to leave the house? 

968073__39661.1564753443-removebg-previewFor people who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, the best treatment is a combination of medication and therapy. Medications are not by any means cure alls, but they can make all the difference for many folks. Exposure therapy is also a great treatment for OCD, however, the troubling part of exposure therapy in this case is that the effects of getting COVID-19 are very real. In other words, having an extreme fear of germs is quite adaptive right now, so we certainly wouldn’t go for a walk and touch railings. I think that the most important thing, overall, is for those suffering with extreme anxiety or OCD to recognize the issue that they are facing and being open to treatment of some sort. 

How do you combat pandemic fatigue?

EntrelacKnittingTutorial1-ef838add67064bceb8b12a43ce1973d6-removebg-previewI recommend people can get outside if they can to take walks and be in the fresh air. If being social is something that you are struggling with, try to join a pod with others you trust, such as neighbors or close friends you can see on a more consistent basis. If that isn’t an option, make a point to check in regularly via Zoom or over the phone with friends and family. Zoom fatigue is definitely real, but it can make all the difference seeing those we love over just hearing them. I personally make it a point to make eye contact and say hello to those that I see out on my walks. It is easy to hide behind your mask, which is why engaging even in the smallest ways can make the most difference. The pandemic has also presented a great opportunity to try new things or do something that you have been putting off because you couldn’t find the time. Make learning a new skill a priority by setting aside some time in your calendar. Practice knitting, learn how to play the guitar, or speak a new language. Time is on your side. 

What are some strategies for not seeing an end?

What helps me to have hope is doing a historical analysis. We have overcome pandemics before and we didn’t have a fraction of the resources or knowledge we do today. Vaccines are here to help lower the rate of infection and spread, but it’s going to take educating people on the vaccine to ensure its effectiveness. Help is on the way! We just have to have patience and hope for the future. 

About Dr. Adam Brown

Follow Adam on Twitter @adamofbruce

Screen Shot 2020-12-13 at 2.15.18 PMAdam Brown, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, City University of New York and a psychotherapist in private practice. His research has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including “Children and Youth Services Review,” “The Journal of Interpersonal Violence,” and “Sexual Abuse,” and he is an invited presenter multiple times annually at clinical and scholarly conferences internationally. His research has been featured in Rueters, Yahoo!, and Fox news, and he has appeared as an invited expert for comment on events in a variety of media outlets, including for “The City” in New York City, and the “Shanghai Media Group” (SMG) in China.

Dr. Brown is an expert consultant for Park Dietz and Associates in Newport Beach, CA, and a consulting clinician at the Institute for Sexual Wellness in Weymouth, MA. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and his Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work.

Stay tuned for next week when Adam answers more pressing questions on therapy, life, and navigating our world’s current challenges. 

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Ask Adam: Finding a Trusted Therapist and More (Part I)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

For Dr. Adam Brown, the path towards receiving a doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and becoming a consultant, professor, and licensed clinical social worker was anything but straight. 

When Adam graduated from Colby College with a degree in English, his goal was to become a professional working actor. With this in mind, Adam moved to New York City, Boston, and finally to Los Angeles in order to chase his dream. Shortly after arriving in LA, he also began performing stand-up comedy and eventually working as a comic. Approaching 30 years old, Adam began to reevaluate what he was striving for, imagining his future working in the industry. To Adam, it boiled down to becoming famous and acquiring the privileges of those with whom he rubbed shoulders. Thinking about it further, having known members of the rich and famous personally, Adam did not see them as any happier than he was. Adam realized that even if he did achieve the fame he was looking for, it would only make him more unhappy if he didn’t feel fulfilled internally. 


Adam soon packed up and moved back in with his mother in Rhode Island, taking a job from his uncle who owned a construction company. In taking this job, Adam had access to health benefits which he used to pay for psychotherapy, hoping it would help him in figure out his next steps in life. To Adam’s surprise, the therapist recommended that he come more than once a week, his visits turning into regular occurrences 3 to 4 times a week. Adam cites his experience in therapy as being such a transformative time that it helped him to realize a lot about his priorities, perspective, and values. More than that, Adam saw himself as being interested in doing the work of his therapist. 

Adam felt compelled to go back to school, attending Smith College School for Social Work to get his Masters of Social Work (MSW), which has an outstanding reputation for training psychotherapists. After Smith SSW, Adam worked at a foster care agency, which had an opening for a clinician to work with kids as a psychotherapist. Through this experience, Adam worked with many children and adolescents that committed sexual offenses. Adam became troubled by the way in which the system treated the youth, as perpetrators more than victims, and found that he wanted to become part of the solution to the systematic problems that he saw.                                                   

With that in mind, Adam went to get his doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Now, Adam is a professor of clinical social work at the Silberman School for Social Work Hunter College. He is a sexual abuse prevention researcher who focuses his research on youth and young adults who have committed acts of sexual harm. Adam also has clients that he sees regularly for general therapy. 

It is safe to say that Adam is the expert when it comes to social work, which is why I have enlisted him to answer some therapy questions on the blog. So, let’s jump right into it. 

How do you know that you need or should see a therapist?


Everyone in some way could benefit from seeing a therapist, but some specifics include individuals that could need help getting some perspective, are stuck in a job or a relationship, it could be anything. Going to therapy is not going to solve your problem, but it will shorten the process- maybe even shave off some years if not months. It is all about getting you somewhere where you are already headed in terms of problem solving. A therapist does not give advice, they really help you ask yourself the good questions to enable self-discovery. 

What are things you look for in a good therapist? What makes a therapist a good one? 

Even though it’s hard, it is really important to take at least two to three sessions to decide how you feel about your therapist. A good therapist will encourage you to do that and shouldn’t make you feel that you are pressured into seeing them. Therapy is such a personal journey, if you are uncomfortable after the first session, it may be that the therapist is pushing you to confront the tough questions. It might be a good test to say to your therapist on your next visit “I almost didn’t come back because… XYZ reason” and see how your therapist reacts to this statement. If you feel ashamed, sad, uncomfortable, or don’t want to tell the truth to your therapist, that is a different story. Then, you should consider looking for another therapist. 

It is a therapist’s job to provide a “holding environment” for you, where even if life is uncomfortable you feel like you are in a safe place. 

What is the average duration of a relationship with a therapist?

It really depends on the presenting issues and on your readiness. If you come to a therapist with a very specific and identifiable issue or goal to address things might take a shorter time, like three months. It is more common for therapy to last a year or longer. Sometimes, many years. There is really no definitive way of knowing when you start. 

What is the best way to prepare for a therapy session?

To not prepare. You really need to go in and be ready to be yourself in a therapy session. When you first arrive, your therapist is going to say things like “how can I help you” or “what brings you here”, don’t over think what it is you are supposed to be doing there. If you have a specific goal in mind then that’s always great, but there is no need to “prep” necessarily. 

What are some resources you recommend for people that are looking to seek help?

If you have a very specific issue, a good place to start can, surprisingly, be Google. You can use your zip code to find support groups and specialists in your area of need oftentimes. Most of the therapists I know have a page on I don’t have a page there now because I only work on a referral basis, but if I were going to accept more clients, I would. Another place to find a therapist is to ask a friend that has been in therapy. In some cases, your friend’s therapist could talk to you about what’s going on and act as a referral. 

If you are not ready for in person therapy, there is online texting therapy.,, and are good ways for people to dip their toe in. You can pay one month at a time and see how it goes. 


For resources, Brene Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us” could also be a great resource. She talks about many things related to mental and behavioral health that most folks can relate to. Additionally, these are books I always recommend to those I work with:

“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book provides really wonderful models for having difficult conversations and how to engage with people that are typically hard to engage.

“Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher is also an incredible resource.

Stay tuned for next week when Adam answers more pressing questions on therapy, life, and navigating our world’s current challenges. 

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Hugh Thompson on Becoming a Doctor during COVID-19

Hugh on answering the call to step into the field of medicine.

Entering into the field of medicine is a noble act, which only very few are cut out for. Hugh Thompson, however, is just one of those people that was born to practice medicine. Having grown up visiting and engaging with doctors, Hugh knew that he wanted to impact the world in the same way that medicine had impacted his life- for the better. Hugh’s story is not one without its challenges, but one that is inspiring because of its challenges. If you have ever considered becoming a medical professional, this article is definitely for you. If you are interested in the field of medicine and healthcare in America, this article is also for you. Hmm… if you have ever seen a doctor, this article is just for you.

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 3.16.32 PMHugh, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello everyone! First of all, I want to say that I am truly honored and humbled that you would ask me of all people to chat!

In terms of a little bit about me: I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2017. After graduating, I moved back home to central New Jersey for 3 years to build up my resume and save up a little bit of money before going to medical school. During those 3 years, I volunteered as an EMT in my hometown as well as worked as a scribe in the Saint Barnabas Emergency Department, ultimately becoming the ‘lead scribe’ for the final 2 years of my time there. I was offered an acceptance at New York Medical College in Westchester County, New York in the Spring of 2019 with a deferment – meaning that instead of starting in the fall, I would start in the fall of 2020. And here we are!

What made you decide to go to medical school?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.37.24 PM

I can’t say there was one of those “ah-hah” moments that made me decide to want to pursue a career in medicine. For as long as I can remember, having the opportunity to care for others has been something I have wanted to make my life about. I was born with a genetic condition that meant I was around medicine quite a bit as a child, and what child wants to be in hospitals or at doctors offices? One of the moments that has stuck with me that represented the power that medicine can have on an individual arose from one of those trips to the hospital. 

Preface: I am incredibly lucky to have parents who stopped at nothing in their pursuit of ensuring that I received care from world-class practitioners of all sorts, and for this I will forever be grateful. After a variety of hospital trips, tests and the like, my mother ultimately settled on following up with a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We had only been there a couple of times and I was probably only in 5th or 6th grade when I was visited by another practitioner during my regular visit. I was- and still am- a huge baseball fan, and I must have had a copy of Sports Illustrated with me, because the practitioner noticed and told me that he couldn’t wait to see me playing third base for the Phillies when I got older.

Now, my condition has never been life threatening or even significantly debilitating, but it does ensure that playing sports at more than a recreational level is not really possible for me- and this is something that that practitioner would have known. Nonetheless, the fact that someone like that took the time to express interest in me and in doing so, communicate a genuine and profound kind of empathy was an incredible confidence boost as well as an eye opener for me. I am sure that the practitioner doesn’t realize the kind of impact such a small statement made, as there was no way for him to have known that the child he engaged in was at the time having self confidence issues. I am less sure whether that practitioner was consciously aware that his positivity and empathy made more of a difference in my care than any medicine could have. Either way, having had the time to reflect on my experiences as a patient including moments like these, I have come to realize that it is positivity, a smile, even just a shared interest with a patient that can change a persons day, week, or life. By definition, for a patient to be a patient, something likely has gone wrong and the patient has made the decision to entrust their vulnerability to said physician. This trust, this faith in the physician’s ability, this hope that is inextricably linked to the patient-provider relationship is a privilege, and personally I can think of no higher honor than having the opportunity to improve the lives of others through medicine. That is all just a long way of saying that being able to possibly impact someone in a similar manner as I was has been a dream of mine for quite a while. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how you view medicine and the healthcare industry at all?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.38.39 PMI was able to witness the work that emergency providers put in during the height of the pandemic in our area firsthand and it was truly inspiring. To watch providers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs band together to fight for our communities made me wish I was through medical school and able to fight with them. From my viewpoint, Saint Barnabas never reached the depths that many hospitals in New York City experienced, but we were pretty overrun and hard hit nonetheless. Single use masks were being rationed and reused several times over. The hospital was out of hospital beds, almost out of ventilators, and short on capable providers. A lot of the providers weren’t allowed to return to their homes while they were in the middle of the pandemic, at the risk of infecting their loved ones. And yet, everyone came to work day in and day out, ready to fight with and for every single patient that came through the doors. I can honestly say that being able to witness the compassion, resilience, and strength of the providers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center was one of the most inspiring ‘moments’ in all of my living memory. So while the pandemic has been saddening on many levels, it has reinforced my faith in and desire to be a part of the medical community.

Is there a lot of discussion in the classroom about the pandemic and, if so, what is the conversation about?

Honestly, there has not been quite as much discussion in our academic classes regarding the pandemic so far. However, I have no doubt that once I transition into our classes regarding disease processes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will get plenty of airtime in our lectures. 

Laboratory_art_print_cimestry__laboratory__vintage_science__flower_print__wall_art__vintage_print_on-removebg-previewI will say that beyond the classroom, the pandemic has definitely been a significant talking point. The school itself seems to have made concerted efforts to address how the pandemic and all of its side effects (isolation, Zoom classes, etc.) has affected us as students. Specifically, my school has what is called the “Resiliency Curriculum Committee” which existed even before the pandemic as a means for training the medical students in healthy emotional and psychological choices. I obviously cannot speak to what the topics covered in prior years Resiliency Curriculum were, but the discussions during the small group sessions this year have had a distinct COVID-19 pandemic flavor, which I think is extremely important. The pandemic is the elephant in the room here: a year ago, it would have been absurd to think that students would be attending lectures given by professors sitting in their home offices. To that end, the fact that the school wants to address how this is affecting its students and try to guide students through such a stressful time is something I appreciate. 

What is one thing that you wish you knew before you committed to going to medical school?


Hugh along with his co-workers

I can’t say there is a particular piece of advice that would have changed how I did things. The one thing I find myself wishing for was an advisor – none of my family are involved in medicine of any kind, so at times I did feel as if I was flying in the dark in terms of building my resume for medical school. I never knew what types of jobs to apply to, when to take what classes or tests, how to make myself a better applicant, etc. The pre-health advisory system at my undergraduate college was great – they were more than happy to provide specific answers to many of my bigger questions, but because they were dealing with literally hundreds of students, there was really no way to go to them with little questions or concerns. I ended up relying on the two or three of my friends that were also planning to go to medical school for guidance, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without their patience and advice so I am lucky and grateful to have them around (shoutout Ryan and Mike!).

What excites you most about medicine in general?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.40.18 PMHmm, thats a great question. At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I am super excited about a lot of the science behind medicine. It is truly amazing how ‘well designed’ and finely tuned the human body is. And then when things go wrong, the creativity that scientists and physicians have implemented in coming up with solutions and treatments is incredible. Being able to spend the rest of my life learning about all of this and implementing it to help patients is super exciting. 

That being said, the reason I wanted to go into medicine is for the people. I love people and their stories, and medicine provides a great way to simultaneously build relationships with a huge range of people, while also having the chance to positively impact the lives of those people. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to being able to ‘fix’ everyone’s medical issues. I realize that often, physicians do not have the answers, can’t solve the problem, or have to be the bearer of bad news. But where I feel that physicians make an impact is in how they are able to handle these types of moments. I recently finished reading both Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and one of the sentiments that really stuck with me from those books was the importance of physicians in speaking candidly with their patients, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time. Being able to help guide patients through these tough moments is just one of the ways that I hope to be able to make an impact down the road, and it is these types of moments that I am excited to play a role in one day. Though admittedly, I could go on and on about everything I am excited about with regards to becoming a physician… 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in going to medical school?

Don’t let anything stop you. If you know that you want to be a physician, you can become a physician. 

So many people get discouraged by the amount of work that the application process takes: the pre-requisite classes during undergraduate years, studying/taking the MCAT, school application essays or fees, or any of the other barriers. If you want it bad enough, none of that matters. Hard work and passion for the field of medicine are the single two most important factors in getting into medical school, because they will always help you overcome the barriers that are put in place. 

One last thing on this question: one of the best physicians I have had the pleasure of working with applied to medical school 3 times and had started podiatry school before he was ultimately accepted to medical school. 

My Journey as a Runner

Not all races end at the finish line.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I recruited my friend Lance, an incredible human and marathoner, to give you his expert tips for beginner runners!

I have always loved running since I was little. I remember being one of the fastest kids in Elementary School and every year appointed the captain of the girls relay race at our annual field day. Sprinting was a strong suite of mine, which got me involved in track and field and field hockey when I entered High School. However, it wasn’t until I was a Junior in High School that I decided that I wanted to run cross country. The supportive environment of the team was something that I always loved, despite the sport being relatively individualistic. Running these long distances was something that I was never proficient at, but I knew that I wanted to push myself- if I was able to compete on the team I would be showing myself that I was capable of doing something I had never thought I could do. A few races into the season, however, I was out of commission. At one of our 5k races, I left the start line feeling O.K., pacing myself and focusing on my breathing. Yet, as I entered the middle of the race, I could feel a sharp pain in my left ankle, as I was entering the steep woods portion of the race. What I thought was mere tightness in my ankle, I would later find out was a stress fracture in my left Fibula bone. I was out for the season after that, having to walk in a boot for several weeks. I remember dreaming of running again every day I drove past our school’s vast fields going to and from school. 


Upon entering college my Freshman year, I remember the gym as being a place of solace for me. My college gym had an indoor track on the second floor that I would frequent and found an immense stress relief. Whenever I felt bummed about not having plans on a Friday night or could feel my anxiety creeping up on me, I would shuffle my way to the gym for a run, music blasting on high. Sometimes, it was the only way that I could make it through the week- a way for me to just be present. When Sophomore year rolled around, I became incredibly busy with a new on-campus job and friends that I put off my regular running for a bit. Yet, when my anxieties ramped up again Junior year, I knew I had to return to my running for some much needed sanity. But, I needed a way to stay committed. I decided to sign up for the New York City Marathon, something that I never thought that I could do, but was on my bucket list. I began training in January of 2019, knowing that I would need a head start if I was going to complete this thing. I spent hours training, going on runs in the pouring train, indoors on the track, and outside in the Boston Spring air. As the summer came, I was really hitting the ground, coming home from my internships in New York City to run in the summer heat or running along the West Side highway after work. I went from barely being able to run over two miles without stopping, to running eight miles in one shot. I became the runner I never believed I could be. Until I hit a wall. After many bouts of heat stroke, constant stress in trying to balance my two internships, and an ankle injury, I knew enough was enough. I was going to have to put my dream of running the New York City Marathon on hold that year. I would complete the marathon at another time, and that would be O.K. 

06D70FBC-F6C3-4BCD-A1E8-3BF3AF7D5816I share my story because I want you to know that, even if you think that they can’t, you can become a runner too. Even during my runs, I would question how I could be doing all of this running. How could I mentally, physically, and emotionally get up and run almost every day? But, I just did. Forcing myself into my workout clothes also helped!

It is important to recognize that any progress is some progress. Every run of mine was hard in some way or at some point, which is a reality that is important to grasp. If you know that at some point the workout will be hard and you will want to quit, it becomes an inevitability that you know will pass once you get over that wall. And once you do that is where the magic is. Sometimes I would surpass that mental wall and find myself being able to run for miles- feeling a “runners high” that was altogether unexplainable. 

It just starts with one small step, then a leap, then a jog.


Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Remind yourself that you will hit a “wall” on your runs- acknowledging this is half the battle. Once you get over the “wall” of sluggishness you will feel amazing. You have to convince your body that you are deciding to spend your energy and calories on this run, the sluggishness comes from your body wanting to preserve the energy and calories you are spending. Basically it’s your body asking “Are we really doing this?”. 
  • Get a fanny pack to store your phone and keys while you run. They are way better than arm bands, as the weight is equally distributed to your center. 
  • In your mind, set a goal before you start and commit to it, you can surpass the goal or slightly modify it, but try to stick with it every time.
  • Keep track of your progress, this will motivate you when you are feeling down and show how much you have accomplished so far.
  • Share your progress with someone that can celebrate the small wins with you.
  • Take it slow, progress in running can take a long time and ramping up too much in the beginning will only lead to discouragement and injury. 
  • Get good running shoes, the less that is inhibiting you from being comfortable, the easier it will be to get out there and run.
  • Find a go-to song that will get you hyped up and energized when you are feeling sluggish in the middle of your run that can activate some much needed energy to help you get through. 
  • The best thing about running is that you can always convert the run to a walk and still be exercising, its O.K. to slow down sometimes when you aren’t feeling too hot.
  • Go for time not for milage if you are aiming to run long distance. My goals were running for an extra 5 to 10 minutes at a time, slowly increasing as I was able to run farther. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I recruit my friend Lance, an incredible human and marathoner to give you his expert tips for beginner runners!

Jenna Willis on being a Personal Trainer to the Stars

From actor to personal trainer, Jenna keeps fit and her clients fitter in sunny California.

Jenna Willis is a Jersey girl, born and raised, who grew up with three older brothers. With familial competition running deep in her veins, Jenna notes that athleticism was not a choice for her. While attending college, Jenna was the shortest Division 1 collegiate volleyball player in the nation, a credit to her natural knack for sports. However, Jenna involved herself in competitive sports as much as in theater and dreamt of becoming an actor one day. Jenna’s pursuit of professional acting led her to ultimately move to California to chase her dreams. 

Working as an actress in Los Angeles, Jenna never abandoned exercise and used it as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety. She mentions that exercise was especially crucial for her when she was dealing with a difficult break up a few years ago. Jenna began exploring strength training and lifting more during this time, which helped to strengthen her body and clear her mind. As Jenna’s career took off and she was able to book more jobs in TV and modeling, she noticed that she was also attracting greater attention in the gym. On three separate occasions, Jenna had fellow gym-goers ask her for help with fitness techniques, using machines, and targeting parts of their body. Jenna took this as a sign that all of her dedication to fitness had led to a greater purpose: helping others achieve personal success in their health and wellness journeys. 

Jenna BandsImmediately, Jenna signed up for a course to become a certified personal trainer. Soon after, along with auditioning and booking acting jobs, Jenna started to train clients on the side in 2017, getting paid for what she loves to do. A win-win I would say! Jenna credits hard work and preparation in enabling her to be successful in her personal training business as well as the support she received from her friends. Since she started personal training, Jenna’s business has been growing tremendously, capturing the attention of celebrities like Tara Reid, Lala Kent, and Liza Koshy, all of whom she has trained.  

What differentiates Jenna from other personal trainers? Not many incorporate the mind, body, and spirit as she does, Jenna says. Jenna is adamant about the fact that what you see on the outside is only a fraction of what is important. The true magic is when the mind, body, and spirit are aligned in terms of healthy and holistic living. Jenna also wasn’t shy to mention that she is a natural goofball that isn’t afraid to show people who she truly is in front of her audience. Like all of us, she pokes fun at herself and embraces the awkwardness that can come along with working out. “We are all growing together. Fitness is not perfection” she states during our conversation, an important reminder for all of us to take to heart. 

IMG_5995 (1)Even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jenna was doing virtual training sessions to people all over the world, which has made her exclusive transition to digital so smooth. Yet, Jenna notes that her biggest motivation in starting her newest program “Don’t Sweat It Alone” was her lack of motivation in the beginning of the pandemic. Jenna was having a hard time getting excited about doing her training and couldn’t imagine that if she couldn’t get up and do some squats, what others must be feeling like. As a result, Jenna made a promise to show up, not only for herself, but for her followers by going live on Instagram with her workouts. Jenna received such positive feedback from doing those sessions, which motivated her viewers to get out of bed in the morning, that she turned the Instagram Live sessions into a regular occurrence. Jenna has since formalized “Don’t Sweat It Alone” into a virtual fitness and healthy living membership and community that is all online. Jenna goes live three times a week within the community, with workouts that are tailored to working out home with minimal equipment. Jenna also ends every workout with a meditation and brings in nutritionists and experts from across the fitness spectrum to talk on the platform. If you sign up for the program get ready for sweaty selfies, free giveaways, and a lot of plank rows and squat presses- two of Jenna’s favorite at-home moves! 

What has been the most challenging part of starting this venture of personal training? Jenna mentions that there is always going to be road bumps, but it’s figuring out how to pave them. Every time you take two steps forward, be prepared to take five steps back, but be motivated enough to make the leap forward again. “Trust the process” is what Jenna says, a mantra that we can all use to benefit from.

Want to get in on all that “Don’t Sweat It Alone” has to offer?

Head to the website and follow her on Instagram

Don't Sweat It Alone MONTHLY corp FLYER (1)

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part III)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

Time sure flies when you are having fun! We have finally come to the last post of Christine and my series on wholistic health during quarantine. It has been such a joy to share some of the things that we are doing to make this time more manageable and constructive. Christine is a wealth of knowledge and I am so happy to have collaborated with her on these posts- trust me I have learned more in these few posts than I have all of quarantine. This week, we talk about one of the most important aspects of our being: our spirit. Whether you are a religious person, spiritual person, or you are just going along for the ride, there is something nestled in this post just for you. 🙏



  1. Find a quiet uninterrupted place, and set aside time each morning, noon, or evening to read the Bible and pray. I know I’ve had times when I’ve struggled with loneliness during this period, but it helps me to remember that I can find fellowship with God, anytime, anywhere.
  2. Identify an accountability partner to do a Bible Study with you. I recently did Breaking Free by Beth Moore with one of my friends. We each completed the daily studies on our own and then texted each other screenshots of the parts that challenged us most or just our general reflections on the content.
  3. Stay consistent with attending church, even if it’s virtual. Pour your morning cup of coffee, sit down, and prioritize this period of worship, as you would in person. If your church offers virtual connect hours and/or small groups, I would highly recommend attending these as well. Each Sunday morning, I tune into my church’s virtual service and then join the Zoom “coffee hour.” It’s been such an encouraging time of meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and praying over our respective requests and praises.


A few final thoughts. It’s okay not to be okay some days and to just cut yourself some slack. The world and our personal worlds are all in flux. Everyone is going through something. Don’t feel like you have to minimize your own experience because someone else “has it so much worse.” Take time for yourself and turn for support to family, friends, and most importantly God. He has the world in His hands and will always supply your daily bread, whether you anticipate it or not.


During this challenging time we are facing, getting in touch with our spirituality is super important, thanks for reminding us Christine! It is crucial for us to be able to clear our minds and find stillness, which can come through prayer, meditation, yoga, or some deep belly breathes. When we hold tight to things, it can only bring on more frustration and anxiousness. Sometimes it is best to just let go and see what happens. I have also found that talking it out with someone can really help bring light to the stresses I am facing. In doing so, I have felt that some of the things that I was so stressed about, were all made up in my head! I am no stranger to the fact that I often stand in my own way. It is important to find someone you can speak to and confide in to help with your mental well being. Trusted therapists, family members, and close friends are important people to have on standby that can help you to gain a new perspective, offer some helpful advice, and lend an ear. 

Calm and Headspace are two popular meditation apps that might be useful to you. Headspace’s Chief Music Officer is John Legend, so if that doesn’t spell success I don’t know what does!

My parting words? 

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