“Do you wake up with passion?” With Beau Henderson & Sara Quiriconi

Do you wake up with passion? Do you face Monday with joy? Do you know your WHY for living? If the answer is yes, you are deeply connected on a spiritual level, and probably at a higher level of mental well-being than most. However, if the answer is ‘No,’ then we have some work to […]

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Do you wake up with passion? Do you face Monday with joy? Do you know your WHY for living? If the answer is yes, you are deeply connected on a spiritual level, and probably at a higher level of mental well-being than most. However, if the answer is ‘No,’ then we have some work to do. Most of us are somewhere in between. Spiritual well-being comes typically last, because the other branches help to align our greater purpose in life. I wasn’t sure of my WHY or purpose and passion for living until years later of working on the previous four levels of mental health. Like chakras build from the base up, I believe these pillars of mental health do as well. Similar to Maslow’s needs, once the basics are strong, the levels of spiritual growth, connection and purpose can then illuminate.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Quiriconi. As a leader and entrepreneur in the Travel Wellness sector, Sara takes wellness, travel and creativity to another level. Basing her empowering content and message on her previous struggles with mental health issues, addictions and overcoming cancer, Sara’s Live Free Warrior approach is real, authentic and retable for any Wellness Warrior. Founder and creator of the Live Free Manifesto, “Unfck Your Body” Series, and author of “Living {Cancer} Free”, Sara is a 16-year cancer survivor who is living proof that you can move through anything. A warrior, healer, creator, and determined soul, Sara travels the world filming, interviewing, experiencing, sharing, and creating online content, speaking events and life coaching to inspire others to live a life of choice, freedom and intention. Sara holds a High Honors BFA Degree in Advertising and Design with over 8 years in the professional corporate marketing world, and now is a producer for edu-tainment content specializing in the wellness and travel sector.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve been active my entire life, playing sports as a kid growing up, a gym rat through college, and being a part of an entrepreneurial family Ski & Snowboard business. I didn’t get into the profession of fitness and wellness to teach and inspire others, however, until years later after overcoming cancer, eating disorders and alcoholism years later. I was laid-off from dream job as a creative in advertising, left without the funds to commute in and out of the city to the gym I was a member at.
So, I took up yoga at a studio that had just opened up within walking distance from where I lived at the time. It was a way for me to still burn calories (that my goal back then) while being an affordable options. What started as a calorie-burner quickly turned into a life-changing practice. The more I flowed on the mat, the more I began to heal within my body and my mind after years of destroying and disconnecting from it.
I knew that if I had discovered this profound impact of yoga, well-being and taking better care of myself, many others in the world would benefit too.
That was the real “entrance” into my career and path as a fitness entrepreneur, and the seed that was planted to later leave my corporate job and begin teaching yoga full time.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I truly believe the story continues to evolve, and reveal each and every day! The more “breadcrumbs” of inspiration I leave in my path and throughout my life, the greater I realize there are other humans out there suffering from similar struggles and in need of the Live Free message I have experience to share.
This may be a vague answer, but it’s the honest truth!
Today, I get many messages from individuals I used to teach back in Boston 5+ years ago sharing how much my yoga classes influenced their lives. Today, I receive many emails and DM’s on social media of other “warriors” expressing how one nugget or phrase I mentioned in a live, post or share positively impacted them to change or connect. So, it continues!

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

My need to perfect and plan each class sequence prior. When I was learning to teach yoga, I was so focused on getting the right “flow” down, to be sure I wouldn’t screw up in the class when teaching. Or, forget something on one side.
Over time, I realized that no matter how much I planned or memorized a sequence, I ended up teaching something different anyway! A good teacher instructs and leads to who is in the room; not what is on their personal agenda. As a guide, it’s take the crowd in front of you from Point A — from where they begin — to point maybe T on the timeline. It’s not point Z, where you had intended, but landing somewhere in between on the guided way is exactly where the students needed to go for that day and in this point in time.
In teaching yoga, and in life, no matter how much you plan, be prepared to throw it completely out the window and teach to what (or whom) is in front of you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My ex-husband supported me, emotionally and partially financially, when I transitioned from my corporate job in marketing and design to becoming a yoga teacher and health professional full-time.
When I was laid-off from my corporate job, freelancing for two years, until finally finding another full-time job in design, they were some hard moments of not feeling good enough — yet again. For the moments I wanted to give up, in every way, he always shared the belief with me that something good will happen and come.
Later, when I decided I wanted to teach yoga full-time, I left my job in corporate marketing and slowly began to take on more classes to support my portion of the expenses. It was really hard, at that time, picking up classes in a very competitive market. There were so many moments where I wanted to give up teaching, throw in the towel, and thought it would just be easier to quit and go back to a corporate job instead.
He always instilled in me, don’t. That wouldn’t make me happy, so keep trying, motivated and pressing forward. It will happen. And, later, it did! I may not be in this fitness profession had I not kept pushing on forward.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

I remember when I first started yoga and I had a goal to accomplish a perfect handstand in six months from my starting date. That, of course, never happened. Thinking back on that goal, it’s so funny to think that it would actually work out that way. I mean, yoga especially.

Yoga, and life, have many parallels and overlaps in our process to learn and grow as humans. On that note, my advice to others in the same industry:

Good things take time. Have patience, have a goal, be OK with those goals being flexible as well. You will have plans, a structure, an outline and deadlines. They won’t happen as you planned, and that’s ok. The best outcomes happen when your plans allow for flexibility and we stop controlling them all the time.

Keep learning, fuel your inner passion, or your work you love will quickly fade to become just that: work.

Take breaks when you need, and before you try to please and fill others around you, fill your own cup first.

Be you, authentically you, and be ok to be honest in the face of needing the last line I mentioned. Honesty creates integrity, and can be the courage others you’re help to hear you’re human, and they are just the same too.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

We feel the sun’s warmth the most when it’s directly positioned above us. It pours down from the sky, onto our skin, and we feel that energy absorb into us.

The same goes for well-being, mental health, lifestyle changes, and personal growth — as a leader, you are the sun, sharing that energy, light and guidance to others walking within your path. Be the change you wish to see in your work culture, starting from the top, it will shine down to be absorbed into the culture you’re creating.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

Wellness and mental health are such all-encompassing words, that it helps to break such an umbrella term down. Taking them into steps, or stages, I prefer to look at mental health in various categories that fuel optimal mental health.

  1. Physical

Move your body, daily in some way, shape or form. Exercise has been proven to improve our mental well-being, releasing hormones that can increase our happiness and, in turn, our self worth. When you’re physically taking care of your self, you wake-u and like what you see in the mirror, that can create a mind and body connection that was missing before.

This was a huge first step for me when I was starting to overcome an eating disorder. Yoga was a healer for me to begin to develop inner strength, enjoying the movement my body was able to do when taking proper care of it.

2. Emotional

A little different than mental health, emotional well-being feeds into the thoughts and words that go through our minds. What words are we saying to ourselves in our minds throughout the day? Are they positive? Are they supportive to the person we ideally want to be? If not, we have the power to change those with observation, thought and implementation.

This was a secondary step for me with overcoming both an eating disorder and alcoholism, after the physical stage (which may be different for us all). When I started to change the phrases “I’m not worth it” and “I don’t deserve…” to “I am worthy of health” and “I deserve better for myself” that’s when huge shifts in my actions began.

3. Environmental

Who you are surrounding yourself with will greatly impact the person you become. If you’re not around people who support you being authentically you, change the crowd. Toxic environments are like cancers that can seep into your passion for life and suck the energy out of you, leaving you mentally, physically and cancerously drained.

I talk a lot deeper on this subject, of your environment, and its importance, in my book, “Living Cancer Free” for that exact reference above. I had to change the environment of people I was around in order to begin to break the bad habits I was employing on myself. Removing the “cancers” removed the dis-ease within my mindset.

4. Nutritional

You are what you eat, and what you eat is what you truly become. Eating well is another branch in the well-being tree. Certain foods contain higher energies (raw and alive ones, mainly). When you eat things are alive, YOU will be feel more alive.

Aiming for foods that are green, raw, without barcodes, and natural will awaken your body on the cellular level, vastly improving your mental health for how you think, act, and react.

5. Spiritual

Do you wake up with passion? Do you face Monday with joy? Do you know your WHY for living? If the answer is yes, you are deeply connected on a spiritual level, and probably at a higher level of mental well-being than most. However, if the answer is ‘No,’ then we have some work to do. Most of us are somewhere in between. Spiritual well-being comes typically last, because the other branches help to align our greater purpose in life.

I wasn’t sure of my WHY or purpose and passion for living until years later of working on the previous four levels of mental health. Like chakras build from the base up, I believe these pillars of mental health do as well. Similar to Maslow’s needs, once the basics are strong, the levels of spiritual growth, connection and purpose can then illuminate.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Absolutely keep moving, create connections and find a purpose or spiritual meaning. I can relate to losing a job (which, even if retirement is chosen, it’s still a loss in many ways) from being laid off in my mid 20’s from an advertising agency. The attachment we put to a job title can be strong, yet at the same time limiting. We aren’t only a VP of XYZ Company, or the Senior Manager of ABC Store. We are humans, with so many other characteristics that we now have time to develop, enjoy and share without the job title. Delve into that.

Movement is life, and will keep your body healthier being able to move and be mobile.

For years, our co-workers become the people we connect with the most. Once the retirement comes and the job ends, we lose those connections almost immediately. So, it’s important to find and develop new connections to steer away from a dangerous feeling of loneliness and isolation.

Lastly, creating a deeper purpose. Once again, our job isn’t our SELF. It was a chapter in our lives. How does that next chapter use the lessons of the previous, to write a new purpose, joy and passion? In many ways, that newer passion can be the answer to the life-long question that we typically don’t allow ourselves to answer and take action on: “What would you do if you didn’t have to work a day in your lives?” Well, now’s that time. Go out and DO it.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

Social media plays a large role in my life, and an even greater role in teens and pre teens today.

Choose your feed, making sure it fuels and uplifts you. The beauty that it’s YOUR feed is that you can select who you are friends with, who you follow and chose only those that inspire and uplift you.

Remember, too, that social media is almost always a highlight reel into someone’s life. Not many are willing to share the 32 terrible photos they took to post the one beautiful, edited and filtered one you see. Nor are many going to share with you that behind that perfect image? He/She is suffering just as much as you, with the same insecurities, flaws, and inner questioning, if not more. Filters and edits are real life. The REAL life is what happens when the phone isn’t even present, and what happens without the screen.

Lastly, the most important LIKE or FOLLOW is the one you give yourself. LOVE you first, and the rest of life will fall into perfectly imperfect place.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson.
This book gave me a few lessons:

  1. You can swear while getting a message across and still be professionally viewed
  2. The world is ready — and needs — real talk and in-your-face honestly (Warrior) not just the coddling and kind approach
  3. Spend your time valuing and putting an effort towards only that which really matters the most to you. I’m not a pleaser, I’m here on this planet to make REAL, impactful change on others’ lives. That requires being real, and nothing that’s sugar-coated or band-aided

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A Warrior Revolution, where we inspire and uplift each other with stories and messages of triumph, overcoming personal struggle points. This could be a virtual platform, that leads to something greater, such as forums, events, and online programs for those who cannot afford or reach professional help, and more.
So many out there struggle with mental health issues and feelings of being alone in their journey because of not having access to the right tools, or the money to receive it (eating disorder patients run into this all the time, where health insurance cuts their funding, even when he/she is far from healed).
I would love to be the pioneer leading such a revolution that empowers each other to RISE above all.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I have 14 of these lines, so it’s tough to choose just one! I wrote a Live Free Manifesto, showcasing the 14 life lessons I live, breathe, make decisions on, and take action by.

Manifesto Link:
Here it goes:
“You have the power to choose any life you desire to live.”
There is a big differentiator between the mindset of a Warrior and the mindset of majority. Majority can come across as “victims” of what life has done to or given them. Their circumstances are the cause of something external that has done them wrong in some way.
A Warrior, however, like an entrepreneur in many ways, takes full responsibility for each and every cause and outcome — good and bad. The freeing part of all of this? Once you accept responsibility for every outcome, you also realize you have control over every choice and opportunity you take as well. All of those choices connect together to create what is called our LIFE!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram: @livefreewarrior

Twitter: @livefreewarrior

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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