You just know there is an amazing story to be told when someone gives you a “life status” that reads like this……
2x Cancer Thriver.
Filled With Passion to Serve + Spread Sunshine.
Inspiring Others to Lead their Best Lives Possible through Mindful Movement.
Values deeply Family + Friends.
Lauren Chiarello founder of Chi Chi Life NYC, a business that brings together fitness, events + fundraising + cancer advocacy, has a story that made me sit up and take notice.
“My Stem Cell Transplant Birthday is the day that
I was given a second chance at life.”
That statement puts a different perspective on a birthday. Not only has Lauren turned a stem cell transplant day into a celebration, Lauren ran a marathon on that special birthday this year. Impressed.
I can think of no better person to chat with about resilience, a quality that Lauren clearly has in abundance.
First up, a little background…..
Me: Where do you call home?
Lauren: I’ve lived in Manhattan for 9 years (where does the time go?!) but I grew up in Westchester County in a small town called South Salem. Lots of woods + horses! My family is still there.
Me: Best time of the day?
Lauren: This one is tough because I LOVE the freshness of the morning with a full day ahead – blank slate to create magic; however, I also find sunset time so calming – there’s something about the day ending in a peaceful ritual.
Me: Favourite fitness fix?
Lauren: I love LOTS of different types of exercises so my biggest challenge is giving myself a rest day from barre, Pilates, TRX, spin, yoga + running.
Me: All time fave food?
Lauren: Oh gosh. The Italian in me immediately squeals, PASTA! I just love penne vodka with peas. Whole wheat penne is nice with it, too.
Me: To chill out?
Lauren: Couch time or yoga with my husband, Russ.
Me: The last time you had a huge belly laugh?
Lauren: Joking with Russ or watching Seinfeld – the show never gets old!
Me: Can’t live without?
Lauren: My friends and family (including my sweet nephews + niece). They are my everything.
Me: What are you excited about right now?
Lauren: I am BEYOND thrilled to lead “Heart, Soul + Barre” at Sharing Bali next July – I’ve been dreaming about traveling to Bali since I was a teenager. It is literally a dream come true to fly around the world to do something I love, experience adventure + explore with other like-minded humans.
Me: we can’t wait!
Let’s get back to resilience….
Me: Where do you get yours? How do you get back from that lowest of low places?
Lauren: The mind is such a powerful tool for us. No matter what type of challenges come up, I’ve always had the mentality of “keep moving forward.” I believe strength in the mind + body takes an incredible amount of dedication + focus + time – consistency is key! I grew up an athlete but I vividly remember setting foot into my first barre class + thinking everyone was crazy. The method is a completely different + super specific way of moving + strengthening the body. And now look where I am! The class, method + teachers changed my life.
To keep my resilience up, I love reading Ralph Marston’s The Daily Motivator. Each day, Ralph writes a short passage on life – lots of themes but he always has a instinctive way of putting things in perspective + I feel like the messages are relatable to anyone no matter what stage of life they’re in. http://greatday.com/#vhU0TWPHsQq6pcfm.99
Me: Great tip. I will be including the Daily Motivator into my life. Thanks.
Through your cancer advocacy work, you no doubt see people at the same place you have been, digging deep to fight back. Finding themselves thrown into a fast moving, overwhelming health system must be frightening. Where do you start to help them?
Lauren: My main goal is to listen. I am there to support them in this super tough time. I hold space for them. Connecting with someone who has been there immediately creates a connection and offers a bit of relief. The patients know they aren’t alone. Someone else went through this exact same thing + made it out on the other side. I also offer tips and insight into my experience and offer tools to help them feel more accepting of their current situation. I encourage them to stay in the present moment as much as possible + take each phase of treatment step by step.
Me: You declare yourself to be a “life lover”. What does that mean? Were you always so?
Lauren: Simply put: I live each day to it’s fullest. I am a life-long learner. I celebrate the little juicy things. I revel in people’s stories. I adore exploring new goodness: neighbourhoods, fundraising events, restaurants, fitness studios, concerts, events, shops, parks + more! I’ve always been a lover of life but my battle with cancer elevated my desire to thrive even more. There is so much to experience in this beautiful world of ours that any day we are alive, is a damn good day in my book.
Me: Totally inspired. Lets not waste a day.
I love that you are so honest about your first impression of Barre! That’s a big leap from thinking everyone was crazy to becoming an instructor. What would you say are the top 3 benefits for anyone thinking about trying Barre?
Lauren: I know! You are totally right. In the beginning, I was happy I just made it through class but a two things kept me coming back – my inspiring teachers + gaining strength. I was a student for 5 years before I started teaching. There are LOADS of positive effects from barre but here is my top 3:
- The movements vary — from small, range of motion and isometric holds, which literally change the shape of your muscles. When you feel a burning sensation in your muscles, that’s the magic happening
- With consistency, barre will improve your core strength which is crucial to protect your spine and likely will improve your posture
- You’ll leave with a sense of calm as the method connects your body and mind through movement and breath.
Me: I think retreats are all about getting out of the busyness of daily life, disconnecting to reconnect. Sharing Bali retreats are not about what I call ‘opting out” in order to do this. Every day is a totally new experience, a chance to kick start some healthy habits, explore, get some fresh perspectives, refresh the body, mind and spirit and of course have some fun. Fast forward to our farewell lunch on the Heart, Soul & Barre Retreat……how will we be feeling?
Lauren: My vision is that we will all feel more grounded, energized and connected. Authentic connection is so important to me. Throughout the 6 days, my hope is that we will be fully present, share stories and be our whole beautiful selves. This unique experience is a wonderful opportunity to create forever friends!
I admire people who not only have the Resilience to overcome the tough stuff that life dishes out, but to come out totally in love with life.
Lauren is certainly one of those and I can’t wait for Lauren to enter our Sharing Bali life to lead the “Heart, Soul & Barre Retreat”. All the way from the village of New York to our village in the hills of Bali. We have co-created a retreat program that brings together everything we love in life…..
Think: Fitness + Adventure + Community.
Do: Bali Barre, Pilates Strength, HIIT, Cycling, Yoga and Trekking.
Give: contribute to a community service day and support Bumi Sehat Foundation
Enjoy: Fresh and nourishing food, rejuvenating body treatments, simple living.
Time for YOU.
Be: In love with life.