5 Ways I Learned to Refocus After My Father Died

Uncategorized Apr 01, 2021

My father passed away unexpectedly three years ago. No matter how old you are, you’re never prepared to lose a parent.

My dad survived two heart attacks: one at age 47 and another at age 71, followed by triple bypass surgery. He had such a will to live that I often thought he was immortal.

I think he knew, though, when his time was up. It was as if he’d planned his final day of rest: Three weeks after we celebrated his 84th birthday and three months after his dream vacation, a family cruise to Alaska.

My dad awoke, sat up at the edge of the bed and then fell backwards. He died beside my mom, who was sleeping.

I have one big regret, something I still think about today: I had no sense of closure.

Usually when a Jewish person dies, loved ones gather for a week of mourning – called shiva – and everyone draws comfort together. I regret that we never gathered for this tradition. Instead, in the 48 hours following my father’s death, my brothers and I scrambled...

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When the Wellness Expert Becomes the Patient - The Sequel!

Uncategorized Mar 25, 2021

In February, I shared my health crisis with you. Yes, the Wellness Warrior was blindsided by total exhaustion. Here’s what’s happened since then.

After a month of tests – blood work, an MRI, radioactive scans -- and doctor’s appointments, I was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis, a rare thyroid disorder that affects 2-3% of the population, usually caused by viral infections.

I’m convinced that in my case, stress brought this on.

Most of the time, after cycling through hypo- and hyperthyroid phases, this condition goes away on its own over time. Turns out, this was the best diagnosis I could wish for – I initially thought I had throat cancer because I was in so much pain.

Three good things happened during my patient journey:

1. Swinging from hyper- to hypothyroidism meant my weight fluctuated, but I finally dropped the excess weight (10 pounds) that I wanted to lose, enabling me to finally fit into my designer jeans from 2012.

2. I got...

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Social Icebreakers to Boost Engagement at Your Virtual Events

Uncategorized Mar 17, 2021

Forget starting off your sessions with "Hey, how's everyone doing today?"

With so many back-to-back virtual events, your attendees will quickly become Zoom Zombies unless you grab their attention right away.

Social icebreakers are a great way to promote inclusivity and engagement, strengthen team member bonds and stimulate discussion.

Click HERE or on the image below for 23 Social Icebreakers to have inside your meeting toolbox. These social icebreakers are perfect for virtual roundtables and breakout rooms and can be tailored to your specific event needs and objectives.

Want to brainstorm ways to boost engagement at your next virtual event? Let's talk!

Be well,

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3 Ways to Engage to Boost Attendee Engagement

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2021

One of the biggest mistakes that meeting planners make is to take the same agenda from a live event and plop it into a virtual platform.

We all want to keep attendees in their seats absorbing every morsel of content. But I’m going to drop some truth bombs with you:

  • While planners are so razor-focused on tech, scheduling and session content, attendee enjoyment and engagement has fallen off your radar.
  • Instead of “sold out” events, we’re ending up with zoned out audiences.
  • Audience’s eyes are glazing over, they are turning off their cameras and dropping like flies – out of events.

That’s the bad news. But there’s also some good news.

You can create successful virtual and hybrid events.

…. And it has NOTHING to do with tech stuff.

Grab this Starter Guide to help you plan your events differently in 2021, starting with attendee engagement.

Successful meeting planners ….

  • Put themselves in their attendees’...
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Why Virtual Events Aren't Going to Go Away

Uncategorized Feb 24, 2021

If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s been the value of human contact—a hug, a smile, the incredible treasure of being able to gather and share an experience, together.

While the pandemic has necessitated virtual meetings, even after vaccines are fully rolled out, industry observers predict that hybrid and virtual meetings will be the norm.

From awkward Zooming, to technical glitches, mind-numbing hours of boring content and turned off cameras, we all experienced our share of virtual connections gone wrong in 2020. So why would anyone want more of that once we’re post-Covid?

Because the meetings industry learned a lot about virtual meetings in 2020 and 2021 is the year to do things differently.

Here’s a closer look at the good stuff and why hybrid and even full-on virtual meetings aren’t likely to go away anytime soon:

We’ve become more tech-savvy

The learning curve has been agonizing and steep for sure. But ultimately, most of...

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2021 events should focus on the human element

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2021

Here’s what I believe: Attendee engagement 2021 will be all about finding the human element. We need to build empathy and compassion into our programs, to feed the human operating system.

Participants remember experiences over information.

They want inspiration and transformation.

In my recent guest appearance on the EXPOsed Conferences™ Podcast, I share lots of tips about making the link between attendee engagement, well-being and compassion, including:

  • Integrating wellness and self-care into your program
  • Creating shared experiences such as virtual volunteering
  • The value of virtual events as a broadcast platform

Have a listen here.

Let’s focus our attention on the PERSON attending your virtual meeting, not the technology they’re staring at. Empower your attendees to make healthy choices. Help them set their intention for the day, because energy flows where your intention goes!

I can help you create an experience that makes an impact so your attendees...

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When the Wellness Expert Becomes the Patient

Uncategorized Feb 10, 2021

My timing could not have been better…

I was looking to up my game in the virtual events industry as a professional speaker and producer of virtual wellness experiences. After all, my EAT/SLEEP/MOVE/BREATHE approach to wellness and self-care is especially important right now, as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

But then, two weeks ago, I was blindsided by an unexpected health crisis.

This is me, the Wellness Warrior, attending a virtual conference.

I was just diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, which hurled me into a state of total exhaustion.

Walking up the stairs was about all the exercise I could handle. Suddenly, I went from feeling healthy and fit – and teaching my clients how to accomplish this – to experiencing these all-over-the-place symptoms:

  • cold and hot flashes
  • constant fatigue, yet problems falling asleep
  • having no appetite, or being constantly hungry
  • unintended weight loss

Before I launched my wellness business in 2012, I ran ‘The...

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What my son's visit taught me

Uncategorized Jan 20, 2021

My father lived for my visits home to Vancouver - from my graduate school college days until he passed away 3 years ago. I never appreciated how much he held onto every minute with me until Sunday when my son Josh returned to college (Miami University where I did my master's degree).

After Josh left, I walked into his room and broke down and cried. My dog is still moping around and hasn't left Josh's bedroom ....

If nothing else, the pandemic has helped us cherish the gift of time. The gift of being present. A renewed opportunity to seize the moment because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Like my dad, I savored every moment, every memory I could get with Josh. I arranged my work schedule around Josh's schedule so that I could be present with him at home -- in our PJ's, enjoying t he simplicities in life like talking, watching movies and hockey games.

Our lives are so much more integrated now while working from home, attending back-to-back Zoom meetings, working-out at...

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Here's what Peloton taught me to do differently in 2021

Uncategorized Jan 13, 2021

My Peloton bike has been storing clothes and clutter, not burning calories and collecting points.

So on New Year's day, I decided to finally take my Peloton for a spin and start the "new year, new me" resolution: to get up early and squeeze in some exercise before starting my workday.

Otherwise, my plans to exercise EOD don't happen. I'm swamped with back-to-back Zoom meetings. My days blur into evenings. And by the time a window of exercise opportunity presents itself ... I'm too tired....

..... and instead binge watch a Netflix series (I just finished Schitt's Creek; I loved the "byte-size" episodes. What have you been watching?)

Peloton instructor Kendall Toole shared some thought provoking messages during her 30-minute "top 50 of 2020" end of year ride like "Do Less. Give space for more to happen."

The pandemic has prompted us to pause, reflect, reset, and envision possibilities for change.

Here's what I will do differently in 2021:

  • Schedule space between my...
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Last month I became a proud US Citizen ... last night ...

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2021

Last month, on December 15, 2021, I became a U.S. Citizen. To my surprise, I had the interview, test and Naturalization ceremony all in the same day.

I was so nervous about the test. But not sure the time spent studying was worthwhile. One of the questions I was asked was: "Who is the President of the United States." Seriously!

As I left the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in Baltimore, feeling like a proud and grateful American, a bird greeted me. The bird was a red robin: a symbol of renewal, fresh beginnings, hope but also danger.

I awoke this morning in tears, feeling scared for our country (I live in the Washington DC area, where I moved 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada). I pulled out Trump's "Dear Fellow American" letter from inside my Naturalization package to read for the first time. Some excerpts include: "You share the sacred rights, responsibilities, and duties that unite us as one people," "Our patriotism is the bond that holds us all tightly...

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