Rochester Woman Online's February 2024 Edition

Page 1





Megan Macnamee

Dr. Kelly Lisciandro




Jane Giambrone




The Treehouse 114








YOUNG UP & COMING Paige Polchowski



Sharon Potter, Mari Potter & Nancy Wilkes





Daniel Jobin


Dear Rochester Woman Online Community,

As we embark on another inspiring edition of Rochester Woman, I am thrilled to introduce you to our remarkable cover women for February 2024: Sharon Potter, Mari Potter, and Nancy Wilkes. These three extraordinary women are not only successful McDonald’s franchise owners with over 16 locations and counting, but they are also pillars of our community, making a significant impact through their entrepreneurship and involvement with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. Turn to page 16 to delve into their incredible stories of resilience, determination, and philanthropy.

But that’s not all – this issue is brimming with more stories of empowerment and inspiration. Meet Daniel Jobin, the influential man behind Before the Last Call Equine Therapy, providing vital support to veterans, first responders, and their families. Plus, discover the groundbreaking work of Dr. Kelly Lisciandro and the unwavering dedication of Megan McNamee, our women who inspire features this month!

Of course, we couldn’t overlook our fantastic advertisers and the exciting upcoming events in our community. And if you know a woman who embodies empowerment and inspiration or if you’re eager to showcase your business in our upcoming editions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

As we celebrate 15 years and counting, I am filled with anticipation for all that lies ahead. Thank you for being a part of our journey, and here’s to many more years of uplifting stories and connections.


With gratitude and inspiration,

Sharon Potter, Mari Potter & Nancy Wilkes photographed on location at McDonald’s & the Ronald McDonald House of Charities.








Kelly Breuer

Marisa Zeppieri

Kelly Breuer

Brandon Vick Photography

Christopher “Goodknews” Cardwell

Michele Ashlee Meade

Kristin Rose Photography

Root Photography

Lisa Ireland

Kelly Wahl

Karen Messina

Robin DeWind

Lisa Wagner

Karen Messina

Denise “Karma” Clifford

Bonnie Floyd

Kelly Metras

Kim Fischer

Kaitlyn Vitozzi

Sheryl Vega

Dan Clor

Daniel Jobin

Chance & Brian Lowry

Laura Ponticello

Jane Giambrone

The ACS Team

Joanne Ryan

Kelly Lisciandro

Meghan Macnamee

Vinny Mongavero

Dee Lucas

Paige Polchowski




Kelly Breuer

Network Rochester

Network Rochester

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} Rochester Woman ONLINE is the premier professional woman’s online publication in the Greater Rochester area. Our feature articles address major topics that interest local women. Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local area women. The electronic magazines are distributed freely through your favorite app store and will be in your inbox electronically by the first week of every month. The publication is available free of charge. Please feel free to contact publisher Kelly Breuer at 585.727.9120 or you can email us at Download our current media kit at
magazine is published 12 times a year by Rochester Woman ONLINE. Copyright © 2024. Rochester Woman ONLINE. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publisher. Rochester Woman ONLINE is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Rochester Woman ONLINE and will not be returned.



In the latest edition of Rochester Woman Online magazine, we are honored to have three incredible female entrepreneurs and owners of a collective of 16 of the local McDonald’s franchises. Please welcome Sharon Potter, her daughter in-law Mari Potter and Nancy Wilkes. These women are true leaders in an industry that is male-dominated and are truly setting themselves apart from the rest.

We know their interview with RWO will inspire you, and as Mari says, “It is never too late to launch your next career endeavor!”

Can you introduce yourselves and share a bit about your background before becoming franchise owners of the Rochester and surrounding area McDonald’s?

MARI: Hi! I’m Mari Potter. I am the Owner Operator of 13 McDonald’s restaurants in the Rochester area. I have held many different titles in various industries before becoming a franchisee – I even started a martial arts school! It wasn’t until I was 49 years old that I decided to take my entrepreneurial skills, a new perspective and fresh ideas to the family business. It took three years of extensive training and achieving lofty goals to become a McDonald’s Owner Operator, but it was worth it. It’s never too late to launch your next career endeavor!

NANCY: Hi! I’m Nancy Wilkes, and I am a part of my family’s long-standing McDonald’s business. My dad opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1982. I worked there as a crew person in high

school before I went to college. I went to culinary school and worked as a pastry chef at Strathallan Hotel before returning to McDonald’s.

SHARON: Hi! I’m Sharon Potter. I’m a McDonald’s Owner Operator with my husband, son and daughterin-law. Before becoming an operator, my husband was in the service. When he got out in 1969, he worked for the McDonald’s Corporation for 17 years. Between those two jobs, we moved our family 10 times in 20 years, and my husband traveled often for his job. We

knew it was time for a change.

What inspired or motivated you to become franchise owners of McDonald’s in this particular region?

MARI: We are so grateful to be a part of this community. My in-laws, Elmer and Sharon Potter, opened their first McDonald’s restaurant here in 1986. After my husband, Tim, graduated college, he joined his family’s business, and trained and studied to become an Owner Operator. After six years of hard work, Tim purchased two of his

parents’ restaurants. When his parents decided to retire, Tim and I purchased their remaining eight restaurants, and expanded the company with the purchase of an additional three restaurants. We now own and operate 13 restaurants in the area.

NANCY: With all the hard work, success and joy my father experienced in the McDonald’s business, I was inspired to continue the legacy here in Rochester. I have an entrepreneurial spirit by nature and knew that I wanted to stay within the McFamily. After a successful stint in the pastry business, I returned to the family business. I started in the back office and eventually became an operator, alongside my brother. We purchased my dad’s restaurants from him, and the rest is history. We love this community and feel fortunate to be a part of it.

SHARON: My husband Elmer and I decided to move our family to upstate New York where we knew the McDonald’s operators and were familiar with the restaurants that we would purchase. It was a natural, seamless transition because we knew the business. The career change was not a risky one – with Elmer’s knowledge of the business and both of our love and passion for working with people, we knew we would succeed. We have been doing just that for almost 40 years and consider Rochester our home.

As female leaders in a predominantly male-dominated industry, what challenges have you encountered, and how have you navigated through them?



“I am the Owner Operator of 13 McDonald’s restaurants in the Rochester area. I have held many different titles in various industries before becoming a franchisee – I even started a martial arts school!” - Mari Potter

MARI: While I have certainly encountered challenges in my previous roles, particularly when I worked in the tech industry, I have not once encountered an issue as a woman in my career as a McDonald’s Owner Operator. With 10 women operators throughout the Empire region, I am part of a large, supportive group of female entrepreneurs – all of whom are amazing women that I take inspiration from. I have never felt unheard or unseen by my peers in leadership. I’ve always had a seat at the table, and even contribute in various elected leadership roles within the Empire Business Unit, which consists of all McDonald’s restaurants from Buffalo to Albany.

NANCY: While we continue to see more and more women successfully own their own businesses across industries, this shift hasn’t come without challenges. Luckily, McDonald’s has always been supportive of me and my career goals. They’ve provided me with endless guidance and opportunities to grow. I continue to surround myself with other female entrepreneurs who inspire me through local women’s organizations.

me in this incredible position with such a supportive and caring brand.

What unique qualities or approaches set you apart from other McDonald’s franchise owners?

MARI: While all Owner Operators have their own set of unique skills that they bring to the role, having the background in various industries, especially in technology and online sales and advertising, helped me bring a fresh

entrepreneurs and community advocates. We want to see our people and the towns and cities we serve succeed. While we all share these qualities, I think what sets me apart is my determination to succeed as a woman in this business. As a minority, I work just a little bit harder and have had to have a bit more grit to get to where I am today.

SHARON: The biggest challenge was becoming an operator in the late 80s when there were truly not many women at all in the same position as me. Things are much different today. It gives me great joy to see so many women taking ownership and joining

perspective to the position. Unlike a lot of Owner Operators, I didn’t have an extensive McDonald’s background and therefore I had to lean into the skills I gained in other roles to help me think outside of the box and propose new ideas.

NANCY: We are a people business, not a hamburger business. As franchise owners, we all collectively care about our people – both in front of and behind the counter. We’re natural born leaders,

SHARON: As operators, we all share the same passion and drive to succeed and support our people. I enjoy working with people! Collectively, my family and I focus on developing our team and providing them with the tools they need to be the best they can be. This includes a flexible work schedule, competitive pay, team building activities, holiday parties, and the option to participate in Archways to Opportunity – a program that provides crew members tuition assistance and access to free education and career advising services, as well as the chance to learn English as a second language.

Could you share your involvement and history with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Rochester, New York?

MARI: My history with Ronald McDonald House Charities began well before I was a McDonald’s franchisee. I had a sick child who needed surgery and leveraged services provided by the organization. Through that experience,



“With all the hard work, success and joy my father experienced in the McDonald’s business, I was inspired to continue the legacy here in Rochester.” - Nancy Wilkes

I saw first-hand how much RMHC helps families and provides the care and assistance families need during difficult times. Later down the road, my older daughter was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital and, again, we looked to RMHC for support. Additionally, my in-laws, Elmer and Sharon, were instrumental in the Rochester House’s development, inspiring a strong family tie to the organization locally.

Today, as an owner/operator, my relationship with the House has only grown stronger. I am on the Board for RMHC in Rochester and also serve as the Development Committee Chair. I’m proud to be giving back to an organization that has had such a positive impact on my life and the lives of others in the community.

NANCY: My history with RMHC is both personal and professional. I was one of the first people to stay at the Rochester House. I had a premature baby in 1990 and my family needed to be close to the hospital as my baby was in the NICU for quite some time. I later joined the Board and worked on RMHC committees. I am most proud of the role I played in creating support services provided by the Ronald McDonald House for youth with mental health challenges. Prior to me joining the board, the only children served by the House were children who were medically ill. Rochester was the first House in the world to accomplish this and through my relentless efforts, I helped bring this to fruition. And

because of the bold step we took, other Houses have now started serving this population. I’ve always believed in their mission, what they represent and what they do in local communities. It’s been my mission, as both a mother and an Owner Operator, to help children and their families.

SHARON: When we moved to Rochester in 1986, RMHC of Rochester was just beginning. We were here for just a few months before we began volunteering our time and raising money for the House.

the historical relationship between McDonald’s franchises and the Ronald McDonald House Charities?

MARI: McDonald’s is the founding and forever partner for Ronald McDonald House Charities and I think that speaks volumes about the people that make up our brand. I’ve always found Owner Operators and crew members to be very warm and caring people and that really is who we are at our core. Everyone is always willing to help the House and it’s something that has been woven into the culture here at McDonald’s since the inception of RMHC. We strive to ask every guest if they would like to Round Up to the next dollar with their purchase to help the House. This resulted in the Owner Operators in our area helping to raise more than $80,000 for RMHC of Rochester last year.

Over the past 38 years, my husband and I have been advocating for the House, we’ve both been on the Board of Directors, and our restaurants and our crew are heavily involved. Each of our restaurants participate in “RoundUp for RMHC,” where customers are asked after they order if they’d like to “Round-Up” their total to donate to the House. We also collect pop tabs for the House – every little bit helps this incredible organization, and we are so proud to be a part of it.

What significance do you see in

SHARON: I was raised by a mother who taught me the importance of helping the community. I believe my passion for working with, and helping, people come from her. In addition to my work with RMHC, our organization is involved in many charitable endeavors such as filling backpacks for children with the supplies they need to have a successful school year, food drives, pet supply drives, Angel Tree through the Salvation Army and we are even stewards of Little Free Libraries at each location.

What personal values or beliefs drive and inspire you in your work and community involvement?

“ We are a PEOPLE FIRST business. Seeing our people SUCCEED is definitely at the TOP of my list. ”

“I was raised by a mother who taught me the importance of helping the community. I believe my passion for working with, and helping, people come from her. ” - Sharon Potter

NANCY: I was taught “The Golden Rule” at a young age: to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I live by this in both my work and my community involvement. I believe everyone should be given a fair chance – both my crew and customers. I want my employees to be the best they can be and to grow and be given the opportunities they need to succeed, which is why I offer flexible schedules, competitive salaries and Archways to Opportunity – a program that provides crew members tuition assistance and access to free education and career advising services, as well as the chance to learn English as a second language.

SHARON: I was raised by a mother who taught me the importance of helping the community. I believe my passion for working with, and helping, people come from her. In addition to my work with RMHC, our organization is involved in many charitable endeavors such as filling backpacks for children with the supplies they need to have a successful school year, food drives, pet supply drives, Angel Tree through the Salvation Army and we are even stewards of Little Free Libraries at each location.

MARI: We are a people first business. Seeing our people succeed is definitely at the top of my list. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our crew members do great things and excel in their careers, whether they stay within our company or move on and become teachers or psychiatrists. It is amazing to witness and be a part of the growth of our people.

come through and work here and go on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, mothers, and entrepreneurs. It’s also great to see the ones who stay and work their way up from crew members to managers within our company, taking advantage of the benefits and growth opportunities offered here.

What aspects of your role as franchise owners do you find most fulfilling or rewarding?

NANCY: The most fulfilling and rewarding part of my role as a franchise owner is watching the development of my 350 employees – whether they stay with McDonald’s or move on to other careers. 1 in 8 Americans have worked for McDonald’s, and it’s so neat to watch those people

How has your connection with the Ronald McDonald House impacted your perspective on your work as McDonald’s franchise owners?

MARI: Our dedication and work with RMHC shows that what we do is about so much more than selling burgers. We are a restaurant, of course, but it’s about so much more than the food – it’s about community and giving back. Our connection with RMHC empowers us to be brand ambassadors, championing initiatives that support others and raising awareness for the organization in a philanthropic way.

What strategies or initiatives have you implemented to foster a positive work environment within your McDonald’s franchises?

MARI: We offer flexible work schedules, competitive pay and great benefits. Our employees all have access to Archways to Opportunity – a program that provides crew members tuition assistance and access to free education and career

“It’s remarkable to think about the number of people who have come to work for us over the past 38 years, who knew nothing about RMHC, and now they are active volunteers and continually support our local House.” - Sharon Potter

advising services, as well as the chance to learn English as a second language. We aim to celebrate our people as much as possible. Recognizing our team through milestones in performance, or tenure, is important and allows us to cultivate relationships with our crew from the start. They aren’t just employees – they’re our McFamily. It’s a true testament when we have former employees’ children coming to work in our restaurants. We also take the time to connect with all of our people on a personal level. We host Coffee Chats multiple times a year to hear their needs and what’s happening in their lives – it’s become a great way for us to identify opportunities where we can support their development and education and help them get to where they want to be.

NANCY: While we do team building activities, host holiday parties and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, I think the most impactful strategy I’ve implemented to foster a positive work environment with my company is offering Archways to Opportunity to my employees. I’ve witnessed several of them obtain their high school diplomas and earn college degrees. There’s no greater gift as an Owner Operator than watching my team grow, succeed and achieve their dreams.

SHARON: We want to make sure our people know that we are there for them and want to see them succeed. We provide training for our employees and encourage their growth both within McDonald’s and in their personal lives. We also try to promote fun! We have had many crew outings which included

family members at various fun parks in the area such as the Seneca Park Zoo and Sea Breeze. We also host summer outings and holiday parties to allow our people to interact with each other outside of work and have fun.

In what ways do you balance business responsibilities with community involvement, particularly with the Ronald McDonald House?

MARI: Our work with RMHC goes hand in hand with our business and community involvement – there is not one outside of the other. From donation contributions made through the purchase of a Happy Meal or Shamrock Shake to customers “Rounding Up” their total to give back, our commitment to supporting RMHC is ingrained into our business and, therefore, we don’t view them as separate initiatives.

Could you share a memorable experience or story that reflects the impact of your involvement with the Ronald McDonald House?

MARI: I have so many memorable experiences, but some of my fondest memories are when I’ve been given the opportunity to share RMHC’s mission with those who are not familiar with the organization. For example, one of our local vendors was unfamiliar with RMHC. I gave them a tour of the House in Rochester. It was amazing to see them so engaged in learning about what the House does and the services they provide for families. Seeing others realize the importance of this organization is so impactful and being the one to

introduce companies to RMHC is truly special.

What advice would you offer to aspiring female entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the fast-food industry or franchising in general?

MARI: First, I’d tell them that it can be done! I would also advise them to surround themselves with talented and driven people and ensure that your core team shares your ambitions, vision and values. Of course, success won’t happen overnight so be sure to give yourself some grace as you learn the industry and know that, while you will hit bumps along the way, if you have more gains than mistakes, you will make it.

How do you see the future of McDonald’s franchises evolving, especially concerning community engagement and charitable initiatives?

The biggest area where I can see us continuing to evolve is through technology. Any time you visit one of our restaurants, you have the opportunity to “Round-Up’ your order to donate to your local RMHC. Having the McDonald’s app makes it easier for customers, especially those who opt for McDelivery or contactless pickup, to participate. Technology is where our future lies and that can be said across so many industries. While we will continuously provide new ways to engage in community involvement and charitable initiatives, technology makes it easier and expands our reach while making customers feel good in a convenient way.


Businesses like McDonald’s play a critical role in supporting local communities beyond their commercial operations. We all support each other. ” - Nancy Wilkes

NANCY: McDonald’s keeps up with the ever-evolving world around us, specifically when it comes to how consumers operate and technological advances. While I don’t believe the way McDonald’s franchisees are involved in community work and charitable initiatives will necessarily change, I’m confident they’ll continue to grow and expand – always looking for new ways help the communities we love and serve every day.

What role do you believe businesses, like McDonald’s, should play in supporting local communities beyond their commercial operations? How do you view the correlation between corporate social responsibility and the success of a business, especially in the context of a well-known brand like McDonald’s?]

for and supported.

What message or legacy do you hope to leave behind through your work both as McDonald’s franchise owners and advocates for the Ronald McDonald House?

As a business owner, I hope our crew members view their time with our organization as a supportive, positive

grow. On a personal level, I aspire to grow the business for our children and continue our dedication to our people and organizations like RMHC to help raise awareness around the good that we can collectively create within our communities.

NANCY : I hope to continue to advocate for young children and their families and grow the services that are supported by the House for families with children struggling with mental health.

MARI: Our business is only as successful as our community allows us to be and that directly ties into the value and emphasis we put on corporate social responsibility and giving back. As small business owners, it’s our responsibility to support our local community in the same way they support us. We like to view our restaurants as hubs for the community to come together – at McDonald’s, we are more than just a place for a great meal, we’re somewhere families can come and know that they are cared

opportunity to learn and grow. On a personal level, I aspire to grow the business for our children and continue our dedication to our people and organizations like RMHC to help raise awareness around the good that we can collectively create within our communities.

MARI: As a business owner, I hope our crew members view their time with our organization as a supportive, positive opportunity to learn and

SHARON : I am incredibly proud that my son, Tim, and his wife, Mari, are taking over the business that my husband and I worked so hard to create. They are so involved and have such fresh ideas. They’ll carry on our legacy: It’s all about the people. You take care of them. They’ll take care of you.




It’s February… a time when most of us in Upstate NY begin to miss the sun and warmth. During the holiday season, it feels easier to embrace the cold as part of the festivities—and the decorative lights help the gray to feel less dreary. But in January, the colder and shorter days set in and by February there is a profound longing for the sun. Weeks of winter remain, and spring feels so far away. Thankfully, there are a few highlights in February, school break allows some to the chance to find the sun in warmer parts of the country. And, of course, there is Valentine’s Day. A day dedicated to celebrating those we cherish with flowers, candy, and all things that emote love. The world becomes draped in pink and red and sprinkled everywhere with tiny hearts…

placed in the skilled and gifted hands of Golisano Children’s Hospital’s top pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr George Alfieris, Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery—along with his team—to make tiny hearts whole again.

Dr. Alfieris has achieved the highest cardiac surgery survival rate in New York State for the most complex congenital heart diseases. He is the only pediatric cardiac surgeon in the region and stresses a team approach to the care of infants and children. Dr. Alfieris works closely

stressful time of surgery, and every effort is made to have parents be with their children as much as possible during the hospital stay.

Caring for the family as a unit is our goal, and RMHCR stands ready to support these families during some of their most uncertain and frightening days. It is a humbling experience to be an extension of this amazing and gifted team, witnessing the strength of families during such vulnerable times. We know that a newly diagnosed critically ill or injured child means a family has just been

At Ronald McDonald

House Charities of Rochester (RMHCR), when we speak about tiny hearts, we mean something very different. Our tiny hearts are not made of chocolate or multicolored candies imprinted with cute messages, our hearts are part of our families’ stories and sometimes these hearts are broken, underdeveloped, or damaged. In our world, many families are focusing on tiny hearts because they just received a frightening or difficult cardiac diagnosis during a mom’s routine ultrasound, at the time of delivery, or shortly thereafter. Minutes Matter to our families and access to the very best and timely care is the number one priority. Every day, our tiny hearts are

with the Golisano Children’s Heart Center cardiologists, intensive care specialists, anesthesiologists, surgical nurse practitioners, child life specialists, patient care coordinators, nurses, and a group of allied professionals to care for the patients and their families.

Dr. Alfieris’ patients are cared for in a 12-bed state-of-the-art pediatric cardiac intensive care unit—and just a couple of minutes away—through a few corridors, families will find a special Ronald McDonald House within the Hospital to accommodate parents of children requiring intensive care. Special attention is given to families during this

families can do just that!

Cardiac diagnosis is the second highest diagnosis of the families in our care. In 2023, 69 families stayed with us at our Westmoreland House due to a cardiac diagnosis, totaling 853 family nights. And 81 families stayed with us at our House Within the Hospital, totaling 727 family nights while their child underwent or recovered from cardiac surgery. Our families know all about tiny hearts.

We are truly fortunate to live in a community with such state-of-theart and world-renowned pediatric and surgical care. Children come from across the globe for life-saving procedures that

“Our goal is to provide the highest quality supportive care possible in collaboration with our healthcare partners at URMC, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and RRH including those most vulnerable, and at-risk families.”

treatments, we clear a path for families. WE make it possible for them to be close to their child, and to remain fully focused on their child’s health and wellbeing.

Ronald McDonald House Charities is a global mission with over 387 chapters in 65 countries. There are 176 chapters in the US and 5 in NYS. While together we all serve the same mission and work to keep families close, each chapter has the full autonomy to serve their communities in the most relevant and impactful way.

Our Rochester chapter utilizes health outcome data from national, regional, and local health and human service experts, in conjunction with area thought leaders and community health partners, to guide our strategy and identify opportunities to innovate and meet

our community’s health needs. Our commitment to remaining relevant is a result of our frequent surveilling of the community to ensure our programs and services meet the critical needs of our families, healthcare partners, and the community at large.

Our goal is to provide the highest quality supportive care possible in collaboration with our healthcare partners at URMC, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and RRH including those most vulnerable, and at-risk families. Our supportive services are more important today than ever. We wrap our arms around the families in our care by providing a place for parents, caregivers, and other key family members of critically ill or injured children, and high-risk pregnant mothers. But we are so much more than just food lodging and transportation. Our supportive services are impacting

health outcomes in powerful ways. All free to our families.

In 2023, RMHCR provided 8,500 nights of lodging within or next to the hospital, served 3,000 family members, provided 31,000 encounters, and saved families over $2,000,000.

This season whether you find warmth visiting a sunny region or celebrating someone you love, please know that RMHCR will be doing our very best to support all of our families, including those needing help with tiny hearts.



“Putting Together the Puzzle Pieces of Longevity” panel at the US Library of Congress.



“However, our readers can also take steps to promote their healthy aging: maintaining consistent exercise, adopting healthy eating habits, and adhering to regular sleep patterns have an enormous influence on one’s well-being.”

First of all, congratulations on your keynote address at the Library of Congress! Can you start by sharing with us your journey into longevity science and how it aligns with the current discussions on extending both lifespan and healthspan?

Thank you, Kelly! My recent keynote address at the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) was an incredible opportunity to highlight the essential work our organization is doing. The message of healthy aging, free of debilitating agerelated diseases, resonates with everyone, and I am no exception. Like many of us, I have family members who could have lived longer and healthier lives if the science related to aging was available. At the end of the day, longevity is a matter of getting to spend more healthy years with our loved ones.

I initially graduated with a degree in communications with a minor in political science, but soon after decided to pursue a career in philanthropy, allowing me to contribute to remarkable organizations. Each step along my professional path has enabled me to impact the lives of the communities I’ve had the honor to serve.

In late 2022, I was approached by a recruiter, offering me the opportunity to lead a global longevity nonprofit, the Longevity Science Foundation (LSF). It didn’t take long for me to accept the position: throughout my life the idea of accessibility of resources resonated with me greatly, and I was thrilled to join the organization that pursues making longevity-care and medicine available to

all. Our work centers around funding novel aging research and raising awareness about the field of longevity, and I use my skills and network to help fund aging science, democratize longevity medicine and ultimately extend the healthy human lifespan.

How do you address the ethical considerations surrounding longevity research, particularly in terms of accessibility and affordability?

Accessibility is paramount - we’re trying to break away from the notion of longevity technology being reserved solely for the affluent and highly educated. We believe that everyone deserves a long and healthy life, free from the burdens of age-related diseases. Our collective desire to safeguard our well-being and that of our loved ones forms the essence of our mission: we aspire not just to extend lifespan, but to infuse vitality into every year we live.

We diligently seek out and evaluate promising early-stage research based on its potential impact, degree of innovation, and accessibility of the end product. It is crucial that the solutions we support are accessible to the wider scientific community and the general public, allowing everyone to benefit from their advancements.

What are some of the most promising advancements in longevity science that you find particularly exciting or impactful?

Predictive diagnostics and personalized treatments play a vital role in promoting

healthy longevity by combating and even preventing the progression of serious illnesses. One area that deserves particular attention is biomarkers of aging: a diverse range of parameters that aid in monitoring age-related changes and predicting the onset of pathologies.

These biomarkers encompass a variety of factors, including telomere attrition (1), epigenetic alterations (2), loss of proteostasis (3), deregulated nutrientsensing (4), mitochondrial dysfunction (5), cellular senescence (6), stem cell exhaustion (7), genomic instability (8), altered intercellular communication (9), disabled macroautophagy (10), chronic inflammation (11), and dysbiosis (12).

Biomarkers have proven indispensable in assessing one’s biological age. Now, there are tools called “aging clocks” that enable the assessment of these biomarkers and the determination of biological age. Accessible and precise aging clocks show immense potential in tracking, mitigating and potentially reversing biological aging. Recognizing their significance, the Longevity Science Foundation has focused its grant call on aging clocks. We welcome our readers to learn more about our efforts in supporting the groundbreaking research on aging clocks.

Could you elaborate on the intersection between longevity science and neural health, and the potential implications for cognitive function and brain aging?

Neural health is a cornerstone of healthy aging. Debilitating, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s



“However, through collective efforts and political action, we can make strides by urging governments to prioritize citizen health and acknowledge the necessity for federal investment.”

severely compromise our health and well-being. We cannot achieve healthy longevity on a large scale without addressing these issues, and I was glad to delve deeper into this intersection during the panel discussion at the LOC with Kelly O’Brien, the vice president for Prevention at UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

While there are numerous ways in which neural health influences our health and lifespan, at the Longevity Science Foundation, we have chosen to spotlight its frequently overlooked and stigmatized aspect: psychological well-being. Earlier in the fall of 2023, we closed a grant call focusing on the convergence of psychological health, biological aging, and psychedelics. There is a reason why the LSF turned our attention to psychedelic compounds: these substances have emerged as promising tools for addressing complex and treatment-resistant psychological conditions. Moreover, there is substantial evidence to suggest that psychedelic compounds hold potential for neural regeneration, offering new pathways for understanding the complexities of brain health and functionality.

We eagerly anticipate the outcomes of our grant reviews, confident that the research projects selected for funding will bring the scientific community closer to mitigating neural health afflictions, whether they be diseases classically associated with cognitive impairment (Bell’s Palsy, Alzheimer’s, etc.), or psychological conditions, such as personality disorders and depression.

In your opinion, what role do public

policy and government initiatives play in supporting longevity research and its translation into practical interventions?

Policymakers play a huge role in helping longevity research and technologies reach practical applications. Currently, aging is not looked at as a disease-like process, hindering the translation of research findings into clinical practice. We are a long way from having aging classified as a legitimate, multifactorial disease within the existing frameworks. However, through collective efforts and political action, we can make strides by urging governments to prioritize citizen health and acknowledge the necessity for federal investment.

One effective approach when engaging with policymakers is to frame the issue of unhealthy aging as a substantial financial burden on our economies. The financial repercussions of unhealthy aging are apparent: the rise of the population aged 60 and above brings about a surge in age-related ailments ranging from Alzheimer’s to atherosclerosis and glaucoma. A growing proportion of aging individuals contend with multiple chronic conditions; in the United States alone, nearly half of the older population grapples with two or more. It is easy to see how the treatment of these diseases places escalating pressure on the American healthcare system.

Fortunately, there has been some progress on this front: a year ago Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Congressman Paul Tonko announced the Congressional Caucus for Longevity Science. This move has already sparked similar initiatives across

the world, giving enough optimism to believe that the movement will gain momentum, bringing nations together in our joint fight against biological aging.

What are some misconceptions or myths about longevity science that you encounter, and how do you debunk them?

One myth that I tend to encounter a lot is the belief that there exists (or will exist) a magic pill, a silver bullet that will eradicate the detrimental consequences of biological aging. Aging is a multifaceted phenomenon, characterized by interconnected mechanisms that are not fully understood. Moreover, everyone possesses vastly diverse biological and genetic profiles, rendering a one-sizefits-all solution improbable.

Another misconception is that longevity science is reserved exclusively for billionaires, leaving ordinary individuals like you and me with no prospect of achieving healthy aging. Even though not entirely unfounded, numerous projects worldwide are underway to enhance accessibility of longevity interventions and medicine.

At the 2023 Aging Research and Drug Discovery Meeting in Copenhagen, our scientific advisor and director of the Center for Healthy Longevity (CHL) at the National University Health System in Singapore (NUHS), Dr. Andrea Maier, announced the launch of a healthy longevity clinic in a public hospital. In May of the same year, another groundbreaking initiative was announced: the opening of the Sheba



“We diligently seek out and evaluate promising early-stage research based on its potential impact, degree of innovation, and accessibility of the end product.”

Longevity Center at Sheba Medical Hospital - a public longevity clinic, led by Dr. Evelyne Bischof, the chair of our Scientific Advisory Board.

These are just some of the projects directed at democratizing the field, enabling broader public access to longevity treatments and technologies. The Longevity Science Foundation proudly stands alongside other longevity and aging-research nonprofits, confident that our work will contribute to advancements capable of enhancing everyone’s healthy longevity. However, our readers can also take steps to promote their healthy aging: maintaining consistent exercise, adopting healthy eating habits, and adhering to regular sleep patterns have an enormous influence on one’s well-being.

Can you discuss the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in longevity research, and how it contributes to innovation and progress in the field?

Our industry unites a variety of disciplines, drawing together professionals from the life sciences, healthcare, longevity advocacy, and medical technology sectors. Researchers use various approaches to address different facets of aging, including gene therapy, geroprotectors, diagnostic tools, and personalized medical-care solutions.

This highlights the breadth and intricacy of the central challenge we are trying to address: biological aging. It also underscores the need for a longevity ecosystem, one that facilitates the development of actionable roadmaps

and cohesive frameworks to expedite progress and consolidate the efforts of numerous talented individuals dedicated to fighting biological aging. One notable collaborative venture in this regard is the Biomarkers of Aging Consortium, funded by our colleagues at the Methuselah Foundation.

Substantial collaborative strides have been made within the field of longevity medicine. I am proud to highlight our Scientific Advisory Board once again: over a year ago, Dr. Maier and Dr. Bischof founded the Healthy Longevity Medicine Society — an international medical association of physicians and aligned professionals — aimed at promoting unified standards, fostering collaboration, and explaining the practices of longevity medicine. Dr. Bischof, together with the fellow Scientific Advisor of the LSF, Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, and their colleagues, created an educational platform for longevity physicians called the Longevity Education Hub, designed to familiarize interested parties and students with the “latest advancements in biogerontology, geroscience, and precision medicine.”

What are the key challenges facing longevity research today, and what strategies are being employed to overcome them?

While the field is rapidly developing, it contends with significant obstacles, slowing the overall progress and decelerating the clinical transition of many promising solutions. One such obstacle that comes to mind is the very problem that lies at the inception of the LSF: the low survivability of

fundamental scientific research due to inadequate early-stage funding. Between the conception of a research proposal and the stage at which its outcomes become viable for venture capital exists a critical gap - the space where “good ideas go to die”.

Many research teams lack the funds needed to translate their findings into useful therapies and interventions, which ultimately deprives us of scientific progress. Even though pre-translational research is the backbone of innovation in the industry, it struggles to secure nondilutive funding due to heavy bureaucracy and limited sources. As a result, we miss out on many groundbreaking discoveries that researchers could have saved many lives. Moreover, one direct consequence of underfunded research is the unequal access to longevity medicine, therapies, and treatments.

Finally, what also presents a big challenge is the fact that aging isn’t looked at as a disease-like process, which, as mentioned earlier, greatly impedes clinical translation of research discoveries into actionable, real-life applications.

How do you engage with the public and raise awareness about longevity science, its potential benefits, and the need for continued research and investment?

Increasing public awareness is paramount, and we must strive to enhance the accessibility of information. When I just took on the role of the president and CEO of the LSF, I was struck by the vast amount of information available,

“ The message of HEALTHY AGING, free of debilitating agerelated diseases, resonates with everyone, and I am no EXCEPTION. Like many of us, I have family members who could have lived longer and healthier lives if the science related to aging was AVAILABLE.”

much of which will be daunting for the average person seeking to learn more about anti-aging endeavors. To succeed, we need broader engagement, ensuring that our message rings clear and resonates with people outside of the field. This is one of my top priorities: having worked with STEM-focused nonprofits like the RMSC (Rochester Museum & Science Center) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), I know the impact that layman’s education can make, and I regularly communicate with both leading researchers and interested parties, be that prospect donors or just family and friends, trying to shed more light on the great work that is being done in the field. Besides that, my frequent travels and speaking engagements at various events and conferences provide

ample opportunities to engage with international audiences. My keynote address at the LOC serves as a recent example, and judging from the reactions and the numerous requests to connect, the LSF is heading in the right direction.

The entire field is committed to expanding its outreach. Dr. Zhavoronkov, the aforementioned scientific advisor of the LSF, exemplifies this dedication. In 2013, he authored the book titled “The Ageless Generation: How Advances in Biomedicine Will Transform the Global Economy.” His work has been followed by publications from other key-opinion leaders in the longevity community, including “Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To” by Dr. David Sinclair in 2019, “Outlive: The Science

and Art of Longevity” by Dr. Peter Attia in 2023 and other amazing works that explain the science behind human longevity and emphasize the critical importance of optimizing healthspan.

“Putting Together the Puzzle Pieces of Longevity” panel at the US Library of Congress. Left to right: John Fenn, Lisa Ireland, Kelly O’Brien, Susan Magsamen and Jon Kay.


“Our mission is to help our brothers and sisters deal with the physical and mental tolls endured from their life or serving others, and to help them find an alternative, healthy way of dealing with that. We want to be there Before that Last Call is made for preventable reasons.”

“I feel at such peace when I am with them, and seeing that connection being made with our participants and their favorite horses is amazing.”

Daniel, can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?

Yea my name is Daniel Jobin and I am the Founder and Director of Before the Last Call. We are an equine therapy program for First Responders, Military (active & veteran), and their families. I grew up with horses and competing in western events. When I graduated high school I became a firefighter with Bushnell’s Basin FD, and eventually a Paramedic with several agencies in the area, serving for a total of 17 years. About four and a half years ago I was involved in a motorcycle that almost took my life and changed it forever.

Before becoming CEO of Before the Last Call, what were you involved in professionally?

I was a volunteer firefighter, paramedic, on the Eastern Monroe County Rope Rescue Team, a Haz-Mat tech, and on a national touring extrication team. I was also the Vice President of one of the 501c3 firefighter motorcycle clubs in Rochester.

What inspired the creation of Before the Last Call, and what is its mission?

there had to be a way to combine the two. Knowing the power that horses in any setting hold, let alone in the country on little slices of heaven on earth, I knew there had to be a way to combine the two. After my accident I wanted to recover enough to get

brothers and sister first responders deal with the traumas we endure on the job. Looking at our demographic and knowing the connection between veterans and first responders with many first responders being veterans, I wanted to include them as well.

When I joined the fire department at 18, I fell in love with helping people. I had gotten out of horses, but always missed it and thought

and realized that my dream did exist and finally had some sort of idea of what it looked like. Being a First Responder for as long as I was, I wanted to do this first to help my

We all are a unique breed and that brotherhood/sisterhood we find in each other’s company is huge to us. Our families have not only deal with us being gone on the job or deployment, but when, and how, we return and how we deal with the traumas we endure. So, we felt it was only right or natural to include them as well in our program. Our mission is to help our brothers and sisters deal with the physical and mental tolls endured from their life or serving others, and to help them find an alternative, healthy way of dealing with that. We want to be there Before that Last Call is made for preventable reasons.

Why did you choose to use horses for therapy specifically for first responders?

Was there really any other choice for me? I grew up wanting to be a cowboy and was lucky enough to have parents that sort of made that a reality for me. Obviously, things and costs were a lot different in the 90’s growing up in the Adirondacks. But because of this I have had a lifelong love of horses, and that country lifestyle. I knew

“My personal goal is to get the word out there about us and to help as many brothers and sisters as we can.”


the beauty and power of horses and nature from a young age. So, when I became a first responder, I just had that feeling there had to be a way to combine helping people with that beauty and power.

Have you always had a connection with horses, or was it a newfound interest?

I have always loved them. I’m not so sure about the connection when I was younger. But since my accident, and starting all of this, that connection is definitely felt each and every time I am working with each of our horses. It is an incredibly powerful feeling when you connect, and you can see it, with a horse and they with you. I feel at such peace when I am with them, and seeing that connection being made with our participants and their favorite horses is amazing.

far have gone towards training, and working on getting the word out, and things around the barn and for the horses. I have an amazing team helping me (we wouldn’t be where we are without them), and I want to take care of them and make them paid staff. That will guarantee we have people able to help participants 7 days a week. Other than that, we have many irons in the fire that will take a while to reach them all. I am excited for our future and the future

What goals do you aim to achieve this year, both personally and for Before the Last Call?

My personal goal is to get the word out there about us and to help as many brothers and sisters as we can. Our immediate goal is to obtain our 501C3 status (we are just waiting for it to be processed). For the program I want to obtain funding, grants, major donations, etc. to make this a fully staffed program. My team and I are operating 100% volunteer right now. All the funds we’ve raised so

of our First Responder and Military communities in our area and beyond.

Could you share one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had working with first responders?

All our sessions are private, and our participants’ privacy is one of our top priorities. So, without using any specifics, seeing the connections being made between participants and our horses. Knowing the stories, and their feelings when they first come in and then seeing them after

a few sessions and seeing the change in them is incredible. But not only between them and the horses, but other participants and staff. We have really built a community here, and I love it. Participants know that the staff (being first responders & vets) have or are going through what they are, but they start bumping into other participants around the barn. They start to see that there are others like them out there and start to connect with each other and their shared experiences.

You mentioned being involved in an accident recently. Can you tell us how that has impacted your work?

Unfortunately my accident left me with injuries that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. Neurologically and physically, I have treatments for different things every couple of months, but I’d rather not go into my condition further. This and the program aren’t about me, and there are plenty of people out there worse off than I am. I consider myself lucky every day that I’m still here and in the condition that I am.

Share something about yourself that most people may not know. Oh I don’t even know what to say. I’ve always been a pretty open book about everything.

“I am working on being more comfortable in this role, but it’s not easy. Luckily working with such amazing animals gives me an outlet just like the participants.”


Who is someone that inspires you, and what qualities do you find inspirational in them?

Gary Sinese, and Keanu Reeves. They both are incredibly humble human beings and do so much to give back. They have used their fame and money to do amazing things for people, even when nobody is looking. They are truly inspirational, and we need a whole lot more people like them in this world.

How do you balance the challenges of being a CEO and working directly with therapy animals?

That’s a tough one, because if it was up to me, I would be at the barn working with the horses and people every day. I am working on being more comfortable in this role, but it’s not easy. Luckily working with such amazing animals gives me an outlet just like the participants. My team and I joke that we are our own participants, but it’s true. So, when I really need it, I saddle up one of my favorites and head out on the trail for some peace.

Can you discuss any unique aspects or programs Before the Last Call offers for first responders?

The biggest unique aspect/perspective that we offer is we are the same as our participants. My team are all first responders and veterans. So, we know what you are going through, because we are going through, or have gone though it too. We may not have all been through the same exact situation, but we have been through similar and because of that we offer a

different level of understanding that only a brother or sister in service can offer. We are also partnering with Salvatore’s Saloon and starting a campfire social with a slice, and an employment assistance program. As well as working on a music therapy program, and a few other things.

What role do you see technology playing in the future of therapy for first responders?

There are so many things that technology can do in the future for therapy of first responders and our military. But in our case, we put that technology away and use the power of nature, horses and that old school country way of life to be our “therapy”. I personally think we need more of that, and that’s what we offer to our participants. A safe place to turn the noise of the world off.

How do you personally unwind and take care of your mental well-being amid a demanding role?

Luckily, I get to spend a lot of time with the horses to begin with. But when I really need to, I head out (usually my big boy Moose) on the trail and go for a nice long trail ride. There’s nothing like a nice peaceful long ride in the countryside on your favorite horse.

Are there specific challenges or misconceptions you’ve encountered in promoting equine therapy?

I’d say the biggest challenge is getting active first responders or military, and veterans to “buy in”. Whether it is because they are scared that it will

be used against them and their job, or they are still in the I’m superman, or woman, and this won’t affect me phase. Usually, mental health being an issue is realized too late. We want to be there Before that Last Call is made for any of our brothers or sisters, for the wrong reasons, but getting them to accept that is the greatest challenge. We are too used to being the tough protectors, and the ones there for everyone else in an emergency that we don’t feel comfortable asking for help, and that needs to change.

What advice do you have for individuals looking to support first responders or get involved in similar initiatives?

Many hands make light work. There are so many different organizations out there that may align with your personal likes. Find one and reach out to them and see what they might need for help. All of us need volunteers to make our missions work and then of course donations. There is a cost to making initiatives like ours work, and especially with ours being FREE to all participants there is always a need for donations. Lastly, I think most importantly is always be kind.

First Responders are always dealing with the worst out there. Things that people should never have to see or deal with, but they are the ones running into that burning building, or towards to shots being fired. They don’t want to be writing you that ticket or defending themselves. Assuming the worst of the situation or shoving phones in their faces only complicates

“We are an equine therapy program for First Responders, Military (active & veteran), and their families. I grew up with horses and competing in western events.”

things. So be kind and realize they are humans just trying to do their best to do their jobs and get back to their families.

Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that Before the Last Call is excited about?

We are really excited for our Casino Royale Fundraiser on Friday March 8th at the Holiday Inn Downtown, and the other fundraising events we have planned this year. We are working with Escarpment Arms on a

Military vs First Responder shootout tournament, Mission 22 has asked us to become the area’s ambassador for them and will be doing a Mission 22 walk, run, ride (horse) event with a party afterwards. We will have our Food Truck Rodeo and Vendor Fair again, as well as our benefit concert the Jam on Jefferson (which will be bigger and better than this year thanks to our friends over at WBEE and Salvatore’s).

Best regards,

Before the Last Call Horses Healing Heroes




“In the Marines I learned a whole new level of discipline and mental strength.”

My journey into Fitness started at a very young age out of necessity and fear, a way to stand up for myself. Losing my father at 16 months old and being raised primarily by females in my family had an effect on the way I perceived life as a smaller than average young boy. In school I learned the hard way that people are not always going to be nice and that if you don’t stand up for yourself you can get taken advantage of and even get beaten up. Then it all changed, a new friend moved into the neighborhood, he was a few years older and he had a stack of comic books including Wolverine, The X-Men and Conan The Barbarian, this was also around the time that I discovered He-Man and Rambo. I instantly gravitated to the strength of these characters and the way they were built. They were strong and powerful, everything that I felt I was missing in my life as a youngster. This led me to receive my first weight set as a gift at the age of 7, this gift changed my life forever!

After getting stronger and building confidence with weights and fitness I joined the world of Martial Arts and Wrestling. This is where I really started to embrace the mental side of fitness and combat sports. Even

though I was beginning to build mental and emotional strength through competition, the mental side was still a challenge for me. I would often paint a negative outcome within my mind, the emotions of fear had to be channeled in a positive way. I had a solid Wrestling career in High School, I do know if I would have developed and nurtured the mental time, the Universe will always guide us and put us where we need to be.

experiences started making sense to me, I started to piece together a sound mind with a powerful body. I eventually became a Personal Trainer in Southern CA and in the Marines while in Ramadi, Iraq, yet there was still a large piece of the puzzle missing.

Enter Spirituality, Meditation and Peace of Mind. Studying Bruce Lee extensively opened up so many doors for me on a Spiritual and Philosophical level. Here I learned about the “Warrior In a Garden” concept. The expansion of our minds, opening up a world that is much bigger than ourselves. How to connect with our own Higher Power, how to breathe and experience nature and all of its gifts. Exploring mediation, breathwork, aromatherapy, Stoicism and multiple other mind and soul expanding mediums. It was then that I realized that my journey had led me to the ultimate destination, the Mind, Body and Spirit Alliance.

Fast forward to adult life, with a strong fitness background and experience with competitive combat sports and training I became a US Marine. In the Marines I learned a whole new level of discipline and mental strength. The mental side was by far more challenging than the physical side in Recruit Training, all of these

“ The MENTAL SIDE was by far more challenging than the physical side in Recruit Training. All of these EXPERIENCES started making sense to me, I started to piece together a sound mind with a POWERFUL body. ”



Are you a native of South Carolina, and how did your roots influence the creation of Bella Luna Romantic Luxury Mountain Treehouses?

I am a native of South Carolina but grew up in Old Lyme, Connecticut. As kids my bother and I built forts in the woods near our home to play in. I’ve always loved the outdoors and nature. We moved back to SC when I was in middle school. My Dad had purchased land in the mountains and we used to go camping on his property on Mountain Rest Lake before there were so many homes there.

Over the years my Dad built several homes here in Mountain Rest. He was a master carpenter and home builder in the area. As kids we would go to work with him during summer break from school That’s when my love for construction started.

What is your personal connection to Mountain Rest and Walhalla, and why did you choose this location for your treehouse venture?

My dad had several pieces of property in the area and he gave me the 3 acres that the Bella Luna is built on. I live about 3 hours from Mountain Rest. When I would visit him we would chat about building a cabin on my 3 acres.

Treehouses first spark, and what inspired you to pursue it?

Treehouse Masters was really popular in 2017 and we decided that would be a little more fun to build a treehouse than just a cabin. When I would visit him we’d drink coffee and sketch out ideas on napkins over breakfast. When we finalized the plan we sent

have hosted several small intimate weddings over the years. But the model of being a “Luxury Romantic Getaway” has been very successful and it just seems to make sense to do what works.

How do you go about selecting the decor and crafting the overall ambiance of each treehouse to ensure a romantic and luxurious experience for your guests?

later we started clearing the road into the woods where the treehouse was going to be built.

Have you engaged in any other entrepreneurial ventures within the Airbnb real estate realm or explored new business endeavors?

I struggled with which direction to go as far as decor when I first started this project. I decided was just overthinking the whole thing. I just started picking up pieces that I loved and somehow it all came together. It’s an eclectic mix of things I love. Antiques, modern, woodsy organic and of course romantic with all the flowing drapery. Lighting is everything. Little stings of fairy wire makes it a bit magical. The vintage German chandelier makes it feel luxurious. The Rainbow Poplar live edge headboard makes it feel natural and organic. It just all came together when I quit being worrying about others not liking a certain style. As with anything do what you love and others come along that love it too.

When did the idea for Bella Luna Romantic Luxury Mountain

I have toyed with the idea of creating a small wedding venue here. We

Did you personally design every aspect of the treehouse, including the intricate details, or did you collaborate with other professionals?

“Treehouse Masters was really popular in 2017 and we decided that would be a little more fun to build a treehouse than just a cabin.”


This is all Dee. I chose every finish and every piece of furniture. I loved putting little things in the treehouse that had a little story or special meaning. Like my grandmothers old sewing machine base for the coffee station.

Do you primarily cater to romantic getaways or host bridal parties, and what elements do you incorporate to enhance these experiences?

I’ve hosted several wedding sand marriage proposals. I’ve help several people plan their proposals complete with candles, flowers, rose petals and goodies for their stay. It’s always exciting to get these requests.

We host a ton of anniversaries. I get requests for certain goodies, wine, flowers and balloons. We try really hard to give our guest their dream getaway.

What advice would you offer to other women aspiring to embark on a venture similar to Bella Luna Romantic Luxury Mountain Treehouses?

and called back wanting to buy my plans. I would say if you really want to do something like this visit existing Airbnbs and see what others are doing. See what you like or don’t like and get a plan together. It really is a fun process.

What were some significant challenges you encountered during the establishment of your business, and how did you overcome them?

As with any construction project weather and subs contractors are

like have reached our sweet spot on pricing.

With the success of your first treehouse, what are your plans for future expansions or additional ventures?

Currently I am renovating the sister treehouse that I just got possession of in January 2024. It was owned by someone else who has since sold their interest to me. My Dad built this one as well. This will complete my Airbnb venture. I plan of running it a few more years and then reevaluating my situation. As retirement approaches I may want to be a little less involved.

always a moving piece.

It’s a ton of work to build a place from the ground up. I’ve learned how to do a lot of things I never thought I would be able to do. Having resources like my Dad made it easier. But I would encourage anyone wanting to do something like this to go for it. Get good building industry professionals if you are building from the ground up. I have had 2 or 3 couples come

Just keep your eye on the finished project and have a good business plan. Do your homework. What are similar things renting for? What can I do differently to make it more unique? A lot of it is trial and error. There were price adjustments as we went along. Our very first guest said, “You should be charging way more than this.” Well okay then…. I feel

How can individuals interested in experiencing Bella Luna Romantic Luxury Mountain Treehouses find and book their stay?

Comesleepinthetrees. com is our basic informational website. The Airbnb link is on the site.

We are currently building another site so when the other treehouse is up and running again we can launch the new site.

Could you recommend some favorite local attractions or hidden gems nearby that you often suggest to your guests?

This area of Oconee County, SC is laden with beautiful waterfalls, many


“My dad had several pieces of property in the area and he gave me the 3 acres that the Bella Luna is built on.”

hiking trails, winding rivers and stunning mountain views. Stumphouse Tunnel is a local favorite. It was a train tunnel that was being built through the mountain and the Civil War stopped the construction. It’s pretty much solid rock that was being blasted and carried out to create the tunnel. Clemson University owned it for many years and they used to age their blue cheese in the tunnel. It’s a very cool place to visit.

What sets Bella Luna Romantic Luxury Mountain Treehouses apart from other accommodations, and what can guests expect during their stay?

I think people really appreciate all the little personal touches that we offer. We leave fresh muffins, juice and of

course have everything you need for morning coffee or tea. We have nice linens and fluffy bath sheets. We leave a S’mores kit and there’s plenty of firewood for the fire pit. We pretty much have everything you need for your romantic.

As the owner and visionary behind these treehouses, what brings you the most fulfillment in sharing this unique experience with others?

I just love the fact that people are working on their relationships, celebrating milestones and just taking to time to spend with each other. Life gets busy and hectic sometimes and it’s nice to offer a respite from the busyness of this world. A lot of guests tell me that they hate to have to check out.

It really is a magical little place nestled in the trees. When building it I oriented with windows over the bed east and west. In the morning the sun comes up behind you and hits the crystals on the chandelier and for a few minutes you get to see all these little rainbow prisms of lights all over the room. It’s just beautiful. To me it is a reminder that there are so many special little moments in life. They come and go quickly. Soak them up. These little moments are what build the happy memories in life. Get all you can. Life is short, Come Sleep in the Trees.



Megan, could you share a bit about your background and how your 20 years as a hairdresser influenced your venture into helping with hair loss?

My career in the beauty business started in Tampa Florida twenty years ago. I had previously been a flight attendant for American Airlines based in NYC... It was such a fun time experiencing travel, great food and all the city had to offer. Unfortunately, due to 9/11 I was laid off. Everything happened so fast I had to take some time to reflect on what some of my passions were before the airline industry. I had always enjoyed styling my roommate’s hair whether that was an updo or a sexy ponytail before their flights that day. This is how I decided to go to Cosmetology school!

As a hairdresser my most satisfying days were when I saw that big smile on a client’s face after looking in the mirror. It made me so happy that I made them feel beautiful and excited for the day! As the years have gone by, I wanted to do more. From time to time, I would have clients experiencing hair loss and wanted to help them. I needed to find a way to help these people out, as it was turning into a huge need. I started researching and educating myself on everything and anything about hair loss, wigs and non-surgical hair replacement. I began

traveling to many states for training including California, DC, NYC, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota. It’s been a wonderful and fulfilling journey as I have met so many amazing people in this industry. The fact is, people want to feel good about themselves, confident and happy and that’s what my goal is for Reimagine U. It says everything in the name and more.

Can you highlight some of the services provided by Reimagine U for individuals dealing with hair loss?

Reimagine U offers many options for hair loss. High quality heat friendly synthetic wigs, human hair wigs, and hair toppers in multiple colors and lengths. We also offer non-surgical hair replacement for women and men.

Could you clarify the distinctions between wigs, hair replacement, and hair extensions for those seeking solutions?

What inspired the name “Reimagine U” for your business, and what does it represent to you?

Reimagine U offers a new feel and a new sense of pride. So, when you are able to offer a service like I do one can only reimagine themselves. It is my sincere hope that these services can and will change someone’s life.

My wigs and hair toppers are utilized for the flexibility of one’s daily wear and lifestyle compared to the non-surgical replacement which is an adhesive based process offering that more permanent feel. The hair extensions I offer are simply for women who are in need of that extra volume for minimal hair loss.

Among the services you offer, which one do you find most fulfilling or rewarding?

All of the services I offer are very fulfilling to me. After I discuss and listen to my clients, we decide what the best course of action is for their particular hair loss need. I believe whatever makes my clients feel better about themselves is clearly what is most rewarding.

In your experience, what sets nonsurgical hair replacement apart, and how does it benefit your clients?

Non-surgical replacement is an adhesive process offering my clients

“. I have been in the beauty business for 20 years, and I decided what’s important to me is the satisfaction of helping others.”


Unfortunately, many people will experience hair loss, whether that be from alopecia, chemotherapy, surgery, or trauma. We offer several options to combat hair loss for all clients that may be faced with these life changing scenarios.

As a female entrepreneur, have you faced any unique challenges in the industry, and how have you overcome them?

As a female business owner, I do not look at my challenges in a bad light. I look at them as opportunities. I think every business owner has things come up, but keeping a positive attitude and addressing each issue as they arise in a professional manner will keep the business strong for many years. The things that won’t kill you will always make you stronger…or so the saying goes, is a statement I truly believe in. Solving problems in a customer-centric way seems to work for me, and will always be the motto for Reimagine U.

offer me more insight into the business.

Are there specific success stories or transformations from your clients that stand out in your memory?

Almost weekly I have great stories to tell about how I was able to make an impact on one’s life. There is one touching moment that will always stay with me. I heard about a friend in the past who was going through their second chemo treatment and didn’t have insurance at the time and began losing her hair. I

Megan, what advice would you offer to someone considering non-surgical hair replacement for the first time?

When a person is considering nonsurgical hair replacement, first and foremost, lets set up a consultation. We then can evaluate the situation and discuss all of the options, whether that be bonding or other adhesive measures. The non-surgical replacement process is absolutely amazing and can help so many people. I think it best to come see me, and we can decide what’s appropriate together.

Could you discuss the emotional impact that hair loss can have on individuals and how your services address both physical and emotional needs?

How do you stay updated on the latest trends and technologies in hair restoration to provide the best services? Styles change for my toppers and wigs, and I always want to provide the most up to date selections. I order new styles weekly. I also take pride in my business and continue my education annually. I am always attending new seminars and alopecia workshops throughout the country that enhance my skills or

picked out three different styles of wigs that would make her feel like herself again and was on the next plane. Obviously, American Airlines (chuckle). I could see her self-esteem grow in front of me as we fitted it to her head and that was such a wonderful feeling for her and me. I am truly appreciative that I can make such an emotional impact during such a stressful time in one’s life. We all need shoes and clothes and in certain times we might need makeup for our hair. It’s all about the way you look at it.

I started Reimagine U to make an impact on our community and help anyone experiencing hair loss. I have been in the beauty business for 20 years, and I decided what’s important to me is the satisfaction of helping others. Hair loss has been and will always be an emotional factor in any person’s life. Starting a business and offering solutions for such an emotional and physical issue, will keep me going for the next 20 years. I LOVE watching people walk out of my boutique smiling, confident, and happy…

How do you create a personalized approach for each client, considering their unique needs and preferences?

Each person that sets up an appointment with me will always get an individualized evaluation. Each person is different and has different needs. I do a consultation

“Losing your hair, especially for women, is a very personal struggle and to provide a service that improves one’s life will always be my biggest accomplishment.”

and listen to my clients and what is important to them. Some may only want a topper, others a wig, or some even may want to utilize my non-surgical hair replacement offerings. All of my years of expertise will give them comfort that I know the best options, but listening is the key.

What role does education play in your business, both for your clients and the broader community?

My clientele certainly knows all about what their needs are. They are going through hair loss, which is traumatic. They also know the difference between quality wigs that will last and have that real feel and look compared to ones you may see at a five and dime store. Reimagine U offers items that will be an investment in their daily lives, so the quality items I offer will always be my business model.

Can you share any future plans or

expansions for Reimagine U that your clients can look forward to?

Offering a service to clients that are experiencing any type of hair loss, whether that be temporary or permanent, I am always looking for opportunities in other markets. Outside of the Rochester area, I get client requests/visits from all over upstate and western NY, so eventually opening more locations is certainly a possibility.

Being in a service-oriented industry, how do you maintain a balance between business and client satisfaction?

As they say Business is Business, but client satisfaction in my book is above all the most important item to be successful. Of course, you are in business to make a profit, but without clients you will never get there. I believe you must always be looking at the larger picture and how each day may be important. Offering a great product, a personal touch approach, and placing my client’s needs

first is how I see my business evolving each and every day!

As you reflect on your journey, what accomplishments with Reimagine U are you most proud of, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

The accomplishments of my business are many, but I would say the main one is when I see my clients’ faces after I have provided them with a solution that made them feel confident again. Losing your hair, especially for women, is a very personal struggle and to provide a service that improves one’s life will always be my biggest accomplishment. I always feel like I am learning something new every day. I may not have exactly what they are looking for in the boutique, but taking the time to understand the need, and working with my multiple wholesalers, we will always find that one item that the client will walk away happy, and that is what makes me proud to be in this industry today!



Could you please introduce yourself to our audience and share a bit about your background, particularly your journey as the owner of Lisciandro Wellness, a woman-owned business kicking off the new year?

My name is Dr. Kelly Lisciandro, DO. I am the owner of Kelly A Lisciandro DO LLC direct primary care. I opened this practice six weeks ago, it is a membershipbased practice that provides individualized medicine with the focus on the patient and preventative health care. I am retained as a patient’s physician with a monthly fee to provide all their medical needs.

The membership fee covers their physical yearly and all the follow-up related to their medical needs and chronic conditions. I do not bill insurance or take insurance. I am able to bill at a reasonable fee and keep my overhead low to provide this kind of care.

I am at 40% goal as of today. It has been an honor to provide the quality of care I am providing. I can spend time with my patients, learn about their lifestyle habits and issues they need help with. I have found that this model is effective and efficient at getting things done. I have been able to get authorizations for MRIs and CTs quickly and get them scheduled in a timely fashion.

This is beneficial to me and my patients. There is no delay in diagnosis which allows me to treat my patients faster and better. I practice evidence-based medicine as I always have. Having been in practice in Rochester for 20 years, I have established working relationships with specialists and subspecialists. This will benefit my patients with excellent

physicians and specialty care. I will continue to use this referral base. I have so much support from my colleagues with the path I have chosen. I have not changed the way I practice medicine. I just made it easier, better, and patient oriented. I have found so much passion for medicine again. I am medicine. This is exactly where I should be.

I received my Doctor of Osteopathy from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in old Westbury, Long Island, NY. I was a student there from 19962000. I did my residency at University of Rochester Primary Care Program in Internal Medicine from 2000-2003. I joined Linden Medical Group in 2003 and continued in that practice for 20 years. I left to pursue my own direct primary care practice. My goal is to focus on preventative health care while still practicing day to day internal medicine. This model of practice serves both my and my patient’s needs to provide effective and timely care. I look forward to the future of this practice.

Prior to my medical education, I received my Master of Science at the University of Buffalo, Roswell Park Division in Natural and Biomedical Sciences. I found that the lab was not the right place for me, so I re-applied to medical school. I was not accepted into medical school the first time I applied. I still had the desire to become a doctor, so I didn’t give up. I also didn’t find it as a rejection but just not the right fit for me. I was accepted into an osteopathic medical school which was more intune with my beliefs and ideals. I loved my education and found myself approaching medicine with the holistic approach that

I was learning. I believe that it made me a better physician in that I could believe my hands. I developed “healing hands” with osteopathic manipulation. I could fix things. The philosophy of osteopathic medicine is that if you can put the body back into its natural state then it will heal itself.

Osteopathic medicine is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine. It emphasizes physical manipulation of the body’s muscle, tissue, and bones. The belief is that the body tends toward health, and it is inherently powerful to heal itself. A doctor of osteopathy, or DO, is a medical doctor that is trained medically and in osteopathic manipulation.

Osteopathic medicine is a whole person approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms. With a focus on preventative healthcare, DOs help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but also help to prevent it.

I am living with that philosophy even more so now with the changes I have made in my personal life.

I am originally from Jamestown, NY. My late father was instrumental in my desire to pursue medicine. I grew up in a medical home. My father was a small-town pediatrician that worked endless hours, to take care of most of Jamestown’s kids. He loved his work and his patients. It was difficult for his children because we had to share him with his career. He worked hard. I would sit with him and listen to his phone calls with the patients day and night. He would meet his patients in

“All care is modified to provide the best and most effective care to that patient. The focus is on the patient. There are no time constraints within reason of course.”


his office. He was a true small-town doctor that loved medicine. I learned my passion for medicine from him. I still use his “home remedies” in my practice. I learned a tremendous amount from him. I wanted to be just like him.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?

My father was instrumental in my career choice. He practiced pediatrics in Jamestown, NY FOR 46 years. I worked in his office. I hated the sound of a baby’s cry so I knew I could not be a pediatrician. But I always knew that I wanted to be a physician. I never said anything else or dreamed of being anything else.

I never gave up on my goals and dreams. I graduated from college with the wrong degree. I was a division 1 springboard diver and a pre-med major. The demands of both were impossible so I changed my major and honored my athletic scholarship. It was the wrong path to take but it paved my way to the life I experienced after college until medical school. I do believe that I am in a better place for the life experience I had during those 7 years. I matriculated in medical school at 29 years old. It was exactly what I was supposed to do and I was where I was supposed to be. Since I was an older student, it was much easier to focus on my studies and education.

I do believe that medicine was a calling for me. I truly love practicing medicine!

My medical education was challenging but, honestly, I feel like the last 3 years of practice have been the most challenging

in my career. The pandemic changed things so much but me and my partners stuck it out and got through it. It is post pandemic that things had to change. I was burned out but that was just the volume of patients and everything that goes along with it creating a never-ending amount of work. There was not enough time in a day, week, month, or year to complete all the work expected of a physician in 2023.

--As someone with over 25 years of experience at Rochester Regional Health, what prompted your decision to venture into your own business after such a substantial tenure?

Since the pandemic, our focus in primary care had become “sick care”. It was a natural change in the setting of the pandemic since our offices were trying to decrease exposure to the virus. We put preventative health care on hold to treat the patients that needed treatment and kept the healthy out of the offices. We adopted telemedicine as an alternative means of providing safe medical care to the sick and the healthy based on their preferences. If patients were too anxious to come into the office, then we accommodated them on all platforms which had emergency authorization during the pandemic.

We have yet to revert to basic primary care. It is time to get back to the basics including preventative health care, lifestyle medicine and patient driven healthcare. There is a disconnect between patients and physicians.

I started to feel like I didn’t have time to

see patients who wanted to discuss weight loss and healthy lifestyle practices. There were so many sick patients that needed my office time. Once a physician starts to think that way, we have a problem. I should be seeing patients that want to talk about weight loss. Patients that want to prevent disease and be healthy. Patients that want to adopt lifestyle practices that are conducive to living a long and disease-free life. I was practicing disease management, not disease prevention. I found myself with professional conflict. I wanted to do both. I just didn’t have the time to do both. There is a shortage of primary care doctors in our country that means the practicing physicians are expected to have large practice sizes which decrease the quality of care and diminish access. The things that are so important were adversely affected by the volume of patients that lead to physician and patient dissatisfaction. Who wants to hear from your patients that they’re disappointed in your lack of time and access?

I found my patients in the same conflict as mine. I didn’t have the time to help them be healthy and prevent disease. These are goals that all of us have in life. We want to be healthy for our kids and grandkids. We want to be able to see them move through the phases of life as healthily as possible. As parents, these words have come from all our mouths. We don’t want to get sick.

I knew that my patient satisfaction had changed. I am good at medicine and good at treating the sick, but most of my patients wanted me to help them be and stay healthy. One of the biggest


“I do believe that medicine was a calling for me. I truly love practicing medicine!”


t examples of this is the weight loss industry and the new weight loss medicines. This has become a time consuming process that many physicians chose not to prescribe. I felt that I was doing a major disservice to my patients. And I know they felt that way. As physicians, we are trained to observe. I was observing the dissatisfaction in my care. I didn’t like what I had become as a physician and dug down deep to decide that it was time to change my practice and situation.

How do you see the landscape of healthcare evolving, especially regarding personalized wellness and preventative care?

Membership practices are the future of primary care. A physician is retained by a patient to provide easy access same day slash next day appointments and individual individualized care, one patient at a time which means that the physicians to know their patients and their medical issues. All care is modified to provide the best and most effective care to that patient. The focus is on the patient. There are no time constraints within reason of course.

I see this as the future model of primary care. In our world of corporate and insurance-based medicine, primary care physicians cannot survive physically or mentally. Burnout amongst physicians is probably the highest it has ever been. We are overworked. This has been the case for years, but it got much worse in the aftermath of the pandemic. There is no doubt healthcare/primary care is in crisis in this country. The model being adopted is with nurse practitioners acting

like primary care doctors. That is not the right answer. Nurse practitioners are not trained to practice medicine as a physician is. I feel very strongly about this. Physicians are trained for 7 years very intensely to be effective in the clinical primary care setting. Then, we start in practice and spend years gaining the clinical knowledge it takes to be effective at providing the best medicine possible. My experience is why I am a good physician. I know when I don’t know something and have the confidence to voice that to both my patients and the specialists I work with. The key to providing good medicine in 2024 is to use your experience to guide you, listen to your patients and their needs and to know when you don’t know. The agenda must be the patients now. We have done sick care for years now, it is time to get back to the basics and preventative healthcare.

I work hard to find the answers for patient care. I practice evidence based, cost effective medicine. I am open to alternatives to traditional medicine which is so crucial today. Patients are smart and want a holistic and alternative approach to healthcare. That is why my wellness business (Lisciandro Wellness LLC) is so marketable. This is a separate business then my primary care practice. It is holistic, natural, anti-inflammatory, detoxing, and immune enhancing with the side effect of weight loss. These are the buzzwords in healthcare and naturopathic medicine these days.

I can manage most of what comes through my door. I only refer when I must and that is after I have done the initial work

or exhausted my level of expertise. My referral base and specialists know that when I refer that it is an appropriate referral and that me and my patient need their medical expertise. That is good primary care. That takes the burden off the healthcare system to not overload the specialists, so they are not available for months for patients that really need specialized care and knowledge.

I am an advocate for my patients. I will always be that. If I don’t know it, then I will do whatever it takes to get the answers. Sometimes we don’t have answers, that is the way of the body and medicine. Whether it is subclinical or our technology is not quite good enough to detect an issue, the fact that I have exhausted a workup cost effectively and evidence based instills confidence in the patient. That is the key to a good patient-physician relationship.

Like any relationship, it must work. It must be both parties to share and trust one another. Without that there is not a therapeutic relationship. Patients want to feel comfortable talking to their doctor and feel like they are being heard. I can sense when a patient doesn’t like me or my style or trust me. That relationship should not continue. I appreciate my patients over the years leaving my practice because of this. The patient-physician relationship should not be hard or strained. We are doomed if we try to continue it unscathed.

What challenges have you encountered, especially during the past few years amid the pandemic, transitioning from a larger healthcare system to establishing your wellness center?

“My father was instrumental in my career choice. He practiced pediatrics in Jamestown, NY for 46 years.”


During the pandemic, it was difficult to feel fulfilled practicing medicine. I felt that the community lost faith in the medical profession. It was difficult to work with patients because everything had changed in such a short period of time. There was a lot of fear with the virus and how anyone was going to do with it. We didn’t know. We couldn’t predict who was going to get sick and who wasn’t. Because we stopped seeing our regular follow ups, things changed and the relationships became stressed. There was so much fear in parents working from home and keeping their children at home. The mental health effects of the pandemic were astronomical. People wanted to be taken out of work for stress and to care for their children. There was so much anxiety and depression. I don’t think anybody but physicians really knew the magnitude of the social effects the virus had on our country. Physicians were put in hard positions. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle every day.

I couldn’t please anyone. I couldn’t see patients face to face. As primary care, we were on the front lines in a sense but it was trying to manage the mental health effects of the pandemic. We had much different challenges than the front line in the hospitals. Medicine took a hit and doctors were trying to be safe and keep their families and patients safe.Patients were not trusting of our recommendations especially with issues that hospitalization was recommended. We were forced to manage strokes, mini strokes, heart attacks and respiratory failure outside of the hospital. It was impossible and something we had never experienced before. My recommendations were

questioned by so many patients. I felt untrusted by patients that had always trusted me. Our relationships were strained. I have felt like we are still trying to pick up the pieces and still trying to prove our expertise.

That was the most challenging part of my career and I had lost my father at the beginning of the pandemic. I was so isolated from my family and friends. I was grieving and feeling like I was losing my career. I was so thankful that I got to go to work every day. I was not tolerating the isolation at the beginning. I never got COVID until 6 months ago. And, that was post operative and contracted from the hospital.

I have recovered from so much of the toxicity and negativity I felt for a few years. I took a vacation by myself to clear my head. I came back in a much better headspace and I have continued to heal since. It really wasn’t until 2023 that I really started to question my career path. That was after my trip to Guatemala in 2022 and dealing with an illness in my family that took me away from work to help.

I was able to reflect on what I had experienced during the pandemic and the aftermath that lead me to changes in my personal and professional life. I knew a year ago that I had to leave my practice and do something different. I am exactly where I am supposed to be now. I see this practice already as beneficial to both me and my patients. My patients are loving my office and the ease of it. No waiting, quiet and personal.

What are the primary areas of specialty you’ll be focusing on at the Direct Primary Care Practice, and how do you envision delivering services differently compared to a traditional medical practice?

Lisciandro Wellness is a separate business from my medical practice. It is an excellent adjunct to my primary care practice. The combination of the 2 businesses and my knowledge of nutrition and clean eating will benefit both patients and clients. Nutrition, wellness and weight loss are passion of mine.

In Lisciandro Wellness, I coach clients through a program called SHAPE reclaimed. It is an immune enhancing, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory program with lifestyle changes. The side effect is weight loss. I am a client of SHAPE so I know first-hand that it works. Who doesn’t want to feel great and look great all while shedding pounds and inches.

My story is truly incredible. Before SHAPE, I was struggling with my weight, sluggishness, constant stomach distress and swollen everything! I knew it was time to take care of myself. I had sent patients to Goshorn Wellness over the years and watched their success with health and weight loss. My patients were coming off medication for diabetes and hypertension. I kept putting “me” off. I became so sickly and felt so poorly that I didn’t have a choice. I had gained a lot of weight with a breakup. I knew I could no longer abuse myself and my body when things got rough. It was affecting all aspects of my life. When I went to my primary care doctor, I

“ The PHILOSOPHY of osteopathic medicine is that if you can put the BODY BACK into its natural state then it will HEAL ITSELF. ”

“I recommend that people find a primary care physician that they work well with. Right now that is easier said than done with the primary care shortage.”


I was told that I had all the skills to lose weight and that she would not consider medication management for weight loss. I felt patronized and not heard by my primary care doctor who has never had to struggle with her weight. She scolded me for my weight gain and blood pressure and prescribed a statin and blood pressure medication. At that time, I was 54 and on 9 medications for my medical issues.

When I started the program, I started to feel so good and full of energy. The changes happened so quickly. I had complete resolution of migraine headaches, body aches, and my irritable bowel syndrome. I was able to come off 6 medications on my own with all my issues now managed with diet and lifestyle changes. It was incredible. My non-scale wins were much more beneficial to me then the scale.

The mental clarity I gained was what brought me here today. I developed a much different outlook on life. I felt like my brain had changed. I started to feel more confident in myself and my ability to start a business with the goal of making it a primary care practice. I had always dreamed of being on my own just because I wanted to be my own boss and make my own decisions. I never had the confidence to set it into motion until I started to take care of myself.

I started Lisciandro Wellness because I wanted to help so many people in this simple and effective weight loss journey. I wanted to show them what it feels like to have energy and mental clarity. The brain is very much my greatest non scale win. I am a different person.

How do you perceive the role of a woman-owned business in the healthcare industry, and what does it mean to you personally?

I am so proud of my businesses. I love to empower women, and this is practicing what I preach. I knew there was more for me in my career, I just had to get there. Doing my medical mission in Guatemala in 2022 changed my life and my ideals about medicine. I came back wanting to change not only me but everything about me and the way I was practicing.

Providing Medical care in the third world country was so eye opening for me. I was seeing patients that have never seen a physician before. But, they were healthy and happy. They were a gracious society that walked miles for health care. Most of them had musculoskeletal complaints and headaches. There was a lot of high blood pressure that was easily managed with the plan for follow up. As impoverished as they are, they are healthy and happy and fulfilled in life. We were called angels on earth, and we’re told that we are sent by God to help them. I still have chills thinking about the experiences that I had there and how it changed me for the better. They were richer in life than I have ever been.

How is it possible that a third world country is healthier that America? There is something wrong and we are doing something wrong. They live so simply, and they are so full of love and happiness. Prior to that trip, I was miserable, struggling with my weight, depressed, and just getting through dayto-day. Now, everything has changed for me. I live much simpler and try to live

every day with clarity, confidence, love, and happiness. I can find happiness in so many aspects of my life now. But what I know is that we can all feel this way by making simple changes in our lives. I still prescribe medicine and follow guidelines, but my approach is different now. I have more time to discuss and engage in conversation with my patients about our treatment plan. I used to tell patients what to take, I am not sure, but now, I make recommendations which elicits discussion.

What unique approaches or techniques do you plan to incorporate into your practice to enhance patient care and overall wellness?

I am pursuing board certification in Obesity medicine which is an interest of mine. I plan to do a lot of lifestyle management, nutritional counseling, and medication management for weight loss if my patients work with me on the nutritional aspect of weight loss. SHAPE ReClaimed is such a great alternative to any of the weight loss drugs. I would always start a patient there. For me, I think that a naturopathic program like SHAPE is a great tool for weight loss. It is much more affordable also.

Could you shed some light on the specific services or programs that Direct Primary Care will offer to its patients?

I have started doing nutritional counseling for diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and for obesity and weight loss.

I am offering urgent and acute care appointments to my patients but do consider opening that up to nonmembers. It just depends on what things look like as I grow. I am 40%



“I am planning to start doing nutritional counseling for medical illness, weight loss and in conjunction with medication management including semaglutide. I have a plan to manage patients affordably and nutritionally. ”

to my goal right now and I am busy.

In your opinion, what is the most significant aspect that differentiates your wellness center from others in the region?

SHAPE ReClaimed is a specific wellness program that I coach. There is only one other provider in New York State where I was a client. It is a program that is highly effective for wellness, detoxing and weight loss. It is a simple program to follow but with astronomical results. I enjoy this role very much. I am an effective and invested coach.

What aspirations or goals do you have set for Lisciandro Wellness in the next few years?

How do you plan to collaborate or engage with the local community to promote health and wellness initiatives?

I am networking with other female owned businesses primarily in the health and Wellness industry. There are so many great services out there for women to grow and better themselves.

As someone with an extensive medical background, what advice would you give to individuals striving for a healthier lifestyle in the upcoming year?

I recommend that people adopt clean and healthy living. We must start to take better care of our bodies and stop putting genetically and chemically engineered processed foods into our bodies. Food is medicine and food is killing us. We need to heal as a society. We have been duped by the food industry. We are getting fatter and sicker.

I recommend that people find a primary care physician that they work well with.

Right now that is easier said than done with the primary care shortage. It is so important that a physician gets to know her patient and look at the whole picture. For instance, labs are not “one-size-fits-all”. A pre diabetic that is overweight or obese needs to be more aggressively managed then a prediabetic with the normal weight and BMI. Our cardiometabolic risk factors need to be looked at individually. That is going to take time and effort by a physician and their patient. If there is no continuity of care and no relationship with the two then we are just going to get sicker and more disease ridden. The relationship is so important for us to get healthy. Patients need regular follow up with their physicians and progress needs to be tracked. Patients and physicians need to be held accountable.

We like data and we like to see data change. That is how i am tracking all my clients and my Wellness Center and I have started to do so in my medical practice. This is really at the forefront of preventative healthcare and lifestyle medicine. We have all the tools we need to be healthy we just need to start to utilize them and look to the health care and Wellness industry to help us.

What motivates you the most in your journey as a healthcare professional and business owner?

I want my businesses to provide the best services and care to my patients and clients. I strive to be the best that I can be in both running the businesses but also in my knowledge and expertise.

Could you elaborate on any specific projects or initiatives you’re excited about launching soon at Direct Primary Care?

I am planning to start doing nutritional

counseling for medical illness, weight loss and in conjunction with medication management including semaglutide. I have a plan to manage patients affordably and nutritionally. I will recommend

SHAPE ReClaimed

to most of my patients and clients based on its ease and cost, but some patients are still looking for pharmaceuticals for weight loss.

I have started to pursue my board certification in obesity medicine which I am excited about. It will render me even more effective at helping my patients in their wellness and weight loss journey.

Can you share insights into your wellness challenge and what participants can expect from it?

My plan is to launch a wellness challenge in March. My goal is to enlist 10 clients to start the program at a lower cost to start the program with the goal of a 15 lbs weight loss by June right before our swimsuit season in central NY.

To have that rate of weight loss, the program needs to be followed completely. I do not find that nutritional protocol hard at all to follow. It is the easiest thing I have ever done for weight loss. I have always felt that if I was told what to eat and how much then I would be fine and not struggle with my weight. That is exactly what happened when I started SHAPE.

In all my years of practice, I have never seen this rate of weight loss in any program including the non-sustainable diets. This is really a lifestyle change with healthy, clean, anti-inflammatory nutrition with incredible results in health, wellness, and weight.



Creating Connections through the Power of a Story

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued.” – Brene Brown.

In today’s evolving world, we continue to lean into technology to share content, but what about creating a community where we listen, hear, and respond from a heartcentered place? To hold the hand of another – maybe a friend in need or a loved one, or to form a human bond with a client. That’s why the power of communication requires human interaction.

Even if it means touching, feeling, and sharing thoughts with another person.

While providing them a vehicle to share their truth and to inspire them to showcase their personal stories.

However, the world propelled by social habit tells us it’s okay to leverage technology for broader communication, especially in post-pandemic times. While I fundamentally agree that we can connect over email, via text, and on Zoom meetings – something is being lost in translation when we negate human contact.

Pepperdine University in The Importance of Human Interaction by Charlotte Walker imparts, “Whether a smile in passing, an endearing touch, an open ear or a lingering conversation, shared moments bring vibrancy to life.”


are based on human interaction – versus Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an example.

Once engaged in a communication connection, we garnish insight into customer needs and the span of human capabilities, along with engagement in the entire emotional spectrum.

As a seasoned storyteller and publicist whose job is to help craft a compelling narrative messages, and to hold the space for honest conversations, I have learned three things about the importance of forming

passionate about your offer. Never let anyone own your remarkable story – it’s distinctively yours, so you should tell it.

3. Forming Connections - when individuals come together, magic happens because the power of connections helps us form relationships, explore feelings, and showcase our truth. That’s why stepping outside our comfort zone sometimes to engage with others is critical to our growth, instead of relying on technology to share our words.

Inspired Idea – Try engaging in a conversation beyond your current circles of connections. Maybe it’s at the local coffee shop, the soccer field, the meetup for professionals in your area, the work environment, or at a gathering – but say hello, my name is, and I would love to learn more about you. Then, actively listen to their story. You might be surprised by the connections that form.

That leads us to choose how best we will communicate with each other. Also, in an emerging marketplace, where entrepreneurs, in particular, have a choice of how to sell their products, an opportunity exists to share their story surrounding why they created their products, or services. In return, to listen to the customers, with an understanding that formidable partnerships

connections and effective communication:

1. Space for active listening – be open to engaging in conversation that’s a two-way dialogue. Listen, and then respond. Also, asking thought-provoking questions helps garnish insight into your customers’ needs or even what your children learned at school today – because you have left space for dialogue – versus one-word answers.

2. The best advice is to be authentic: speak from your heart about why you created the product, service, book, or art or are

Laura Ponticello is on a mission to help empower connections between all walks of life. As a twenty-year publicist veteran, three-time bestselling and awardwinning author & transformational coach, she knows the importance of human interaction. You can connect with Laura and other amazing speakers at the upcoming Influential Women Expo – Mind, Body and Spirit Wellness Expo on March 3rd at the Holiday Inn, Downtown Rochester, NY & at the Influential Woman Entrepreneurs Expo Leadership Expo on Sunday, April 21st to share your story. Aso be part of community sharing connections—#creatingcommunity.



How Your Squad Can Catapult EntrepreneurialYourSuccess



“In the world of entrepreneurship, success isn’t a solo journey; it’s a team effort. Your friends are more than just companions; they’re your confidants, collaborators, and cheerleaders rolled into one.”

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, success isn’t just about hard work and hustle; it’s also about the company you keep. Your friends aren’t just your cheerleaders; they can be the secret sauce that propels you to greater heights in your entrepreneurial journey. Let’s dive into the deep end of friendship and uncover how your squad can be the ultimate game-changer in your pursuit of success.

1. The Support System You Need

Every entrepreneur needs a support system, and your friends are the backbone of that system. They’re the ones who lift you up when you’re feeling down, cheer you on when you’re making strides, and provide a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough. Surrounding yourself with friends who believe in your vision and have your back can make all the difference in staying resilient and motivated through the ups and downs of business.

2. Inspiration and Motivation

Your friends are more than just sounding boards; they’re a wellspring of inspiration and motivation. Whether it’s sharing success stories, brainstorming ideas, or offering pep talks when you’re feeling stuck, your squad has your back. Their enthusiasm and encouragement can reignite your passion for your entrepreneurial endeavors and push you to go the extra mile.

3. Networking Goldmine

Friendship isn’t just about emotional

support; it’s also a networking goldmine. Your friends have their own networks and connections, and tapping into these circles can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and partnerships. Whether it’s making introductions, sharing industry insights, or providing referrals, your squad can be your ticket to expanding your business reach and connecting with key players in your field

4. Honest Feedback and Constructive Criticism

True friends aren’t afraid to tell it like it is, and that’s exactly what you need in entrepreneurship. Your squad can offer honest feedback and constructive criticism that helps you see things from different perspectives and course-correct when needed. Whether it’s refining your business idea, tweaking your marketing strategy, or addressing blind spots, your friends can provide valuable insights that keep you on the path to success.

5. Collaborative Opportunities

Entrepreneurship is all about collaboration, and your friends can be your first collaborators. Whether it’s co-founding a startup, launching a joint venture, or simply brainstorming ideas together, the possibilities for collaboration are endless. Your friends bring unique skills, perspectives, and experiences to the table, making them valuable allies in bringing your entrepreneurial visions to life.

6. Emotional Wellness

Success in entrepreneurship isn’t just

about the bottom line; it’s also about your emotional well-being. Your friends provide a much-needed dose of laughter, relaxation, and emotional support that helps you recharge and stay grounded amidst the hustle and bustle of business. Whether it’s sharing a meal, going for a hike, or simply venting about the challenges of entrepreneurship, your squad keeps you sane and balanced.

7. Celebrating Milestones Together

In entrepreneurship, every win is worth celebrating, and your friends are the perfect companions for the journey. Whether it’s landing a big client, hitting a revenue milestone, or launching a new product, your squad cheers you on and shares in your triumphs. Celebrating milestones together not only strengthens your bond but also reminds you of how far you’ve come on your entrepreneurial journey.

8. Resilience in Times of Adversity

Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride with its fair share of ups and downs. In times of adversity, your friends are your rock. They provide a listening ear, words of encouragement, and unwavering support that help you weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side. With your squad by your side, you can tackle any challenge that comes your way with resilience and determination.

Conclusion: Squad Goals for Entrepreneurial Success

In the world of entrepreneurship, success isn’t a solo journey; it’s a team

“In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, success isn’t just about hard work and hustle; it’s also about the company you keep.”

effort. Your friends are more than just companions; they’re your confidants, collaborators, and cheerleaders rolled into one. From providing emotional support and honest feedback to

opening doors for networking and collaboration, your squad plays a pivotal role in your entrepreneurial success. So, nurture those friendships, lean on your squad when you need it

most, and together, you’ll conquer the entrepreneurial world one milestone at a time.



“You don’t walk into Revive just to take a class, sit in the sauna, dip in the plunge, etc. You walk in knowing that you are going to be surrounded by a community of individuals that will encourage you, and have your back.”

“First and foremost Revive is not a gym, we are a community. We are a family.”

How did Revive Fitness, a veteranowned business, come to life?

Revive started as a personal goal after my own experiences with injuries, surgeries, aches and pains that I sustained from my years in the military, from my extreme training, all of my Spartan races, tough mudder races, half marathons, two ACL surgeries, left shoulder rotator cuff surgery, L4 L5 Disc herniation, and just not being as young as I was before I had to figure out how to keep my body in the best shape possible. The more realistic goal was also the longevity of how much longer can my body hold out. Once I finally figured out the perfect formula of weight training, mobility training, physical therapy, holistic approaches (including Infrared Saunas, cold plunging, chromotherapy and red light therapy) I finally felt like I was healing. I felt like if my body could begin to heal after all the trials and tribulations faced, then there had to be others that were in the same position and needed that healing as well. This became my driving force behind bringing Revive to Rochester.

What sets Revive Fitness apart from other fitness studios in Rochester, New York?

The difference between Revive and other studios in Rochester is 2 things. One is our community. You don’t walk into Revive just to take a class, sit in the sauna, dip in the plunge, etc. You walk in knowing that you are going to be surrounded by a community of individuals that will encourage you, and have your back. The second being our focus on the recovery aspect along with the fitness aspect. From

the trainers keeping an eye on your movements and helping you adjust, down to the specialized flooring we have to take pressure off your joints, everything that goes into who we are is to ensure that you push yourself to hit your fitness goals, while keeping your body feeling good so you can continue to reach and set new goals.

Can you share the benefits of having an infrared sauna and fitness studio in one location?

A large part of why people don’t incorporate recovery into their routines is the simple fact that they don’t have the time. Being able to offer fitness and recovery under one roof allows people to make one stop. You know you have to make time to go to one single place, spend a little over an hour here with us, and then be done with your workout AND recovery session.

Tell us about your signature cold plunge and its associated benefits. Our signature Cold Plunge is one of the most love hate recovery methods. Our plunges sit between 38 and 42 degrees, colder than any ice bath you’ve made at home. Once you are able to push past the mental aspect of it, focus on your breathing, and allow your body to adapt, you will be able to sit in there for 1-5 minutes and reap the benefits. The cold plunge has been proven to improve muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and accelerate metabolism. Plus when you first step into the plunge it spikes your dopamine levels and provides a rush of endorphins which can help improve your mood, focus, and stress levels. After your first

session you’ll wonder how 39 degrees could actually feel so good.

What inspired the tagline “Bringing fitness back to life by changing the color of recovery”?

At Revive we use colored light therapy within our group workouts, personal training, individual workouts, and also with all of our recovery treatments. Chromotherapy has been proven to have many great benefits and positive effects on the body and light therapy is used in many healing treatments. There are different benefits and effects for each color, but all have been shown to have a great impact on the mind, increase focus, better performance, and help alleviate stress and anxiety. So instead of thinking of fitness and recovery in black and white, we wanted to bring Fitness back to life by first having the bodies heal and recover, so that you can perform to the best of your ability.

What do you enjoy most about running Revive Fitness?

My absolute favorite aspect of running Revive is having somebody walk in with any form of aches and pains, discouraged, feeling like they want to give up because they can’t figure out what’s wrong, or they can’t workout like they used to. Being able to sit with them and hear them and be that outlet for them, then providing them with a training program, or our recovery treatments and within 2 to 4 weeks they look at me and say wow I’m actually feeling so much better, I feel like I’m on the right path, feeling like myself again, etc. Hearing someone say those things is priceless for me and reminds

“At Revive we use colored light therapy within our group workouts, personal training, individual workouts, and also with all of our recovery treatments.”


me of why I love what I do.

Could you highlight some of your favorite services offered at Revive Fitness?

It’s hard to have favorites! I would say our Oasis Room because it includes every recovery treatment possible. Start with Normatec Compression, then follow that with a sauna session and red light therapy, end it with a cold plunge. That’s the ultimate recovery and relaxation sequence!

How do you select trainers and staff for your studio?

When finding trainers and staff for our studio the biggest traits we seek are passion and drive. There is a large difference in loving to workout vs. being passionate about the industry. This is an ever changing, ever growing industry to be in. It requires one to be adaptable, strive to constantly learn, improve, and want to help people in countless ways. There is endless growth to be had in this profession. Clients come to us for more than a workout, they come to us to find a community to push them in the best way, lift them up, and guide them on a path to bettering themselves. Whether someone is a trainer, working front desk, etc. each individual in our facility plays a role in our clients lives so we always ensure we have the best of the best.

What are the advantages of combining infrared sauna sessions with fitness activities?

When you combine any type of

fitness activities with sessions in the infrared sauna, it is going to elevate your performance and allow you to participate in those routines/activities with faster recovery times! It will also decrease any pain and inflammation you might have as a result of intense training.

Can you elaborate on the benefits of the infrared sauna, both physically and mentally?

Infrared Saunas are great for the body and the mind. The benefits for the body include decreased inflammation, improved circulation, enhanced muscle recovery, and detoxification (Sweat out the bad!!), as well as provide a boost to the immune system. Benefits for you mentally include reduced stress and tension, improved sleep, overall relaxation, and can even help with mental health diagnoses of anxiety and depression. Sitting in an Infrared Sauna regularly helps to decrease cortisol levels, while also optimizing the production and reception of the natural antidepressants in your brain.

What types of classes does Revive Fitness offer?

We offer semi private training classes. Our classes are high intensity interval training. The way our classes are set up is on a 4 week program, similar to what a 1 on 1 training session would give you, just in a small group setting which allows for personalized attention from the trainers.

How do you ensure a supportive and inclusive environment for your members?

First and foremost Revive is not a gym, we are a community. We are a family. I feel that the only way to truly help someone is to have them wholeheartedly believe in you and to know that through the highs and lows, ups and downs, good days and bad, no matter what we are here for them. Family never leaves. We are about uplifting, upholding their goals and standards. There will be good times and bad, we will have disagreements here and there, all families do. But regardless we love, support, and defend each other all the time. No matter what we have each other, and always will.

Why should people choose Revive over other fitness locations in the area?

I’ll say this, if you’re looking for a community, a family, that is going to hold you accountable, encourage, and make going to the gym something you look forward to, choose Revive. You might walk in just looking for another workout, but you leave with something far greater than that here.

How does being a veteran-owned business influence the atmosphere at Revive Fitness?

The Revive Family is so absolutely amazing and supportive of myself and our local Veterans with the foundation we are part of “Operation SWET 4 VETS”. We’ve raised over $12,000 for our local Veterans! Revive members never hesitate to step up and pledge and donate when we do fundraisers and events for our Veterans. For them I am so grateful and thankful.



“When you combine any type of fitness activities with sessions in the infrared sauna, it is going to elevate your performance and allow you to participate in those routines/activities with faster recovery times! ”

Can you share some success stories or transformations from members at Revive?

Brianna Hill- A year and a half ago I made a commitment to myself to prioritize my health. I had no idea just how easy Vinny and the rest of my Revive family would make it to keep it. A girl who loves to sleep in, now sneaks in early morning classes before work, and is out the door headed to Revive 7:45 every Saturday morning. There’s something so special about the energy and the people here. I felt it from the jump and was hooked. And when I wanted to look and feel like my best self for my wedding, I trusted Vinny wholeheartedly to get me there. It’s easy to show up when you have so many people cheering you on and pushing you forward. There’s not a person in the room who doesn’t want to see you succeed and meet your goals. I definitely got stronger. And not just in the ways you can see (definitely a plus though), but mentally and emotionally too. Revive was, and still is, my stress reliever, my place to escape. And whether you’re planning a wedding or dealing with the crazies of life, you sure need a place to do just that. Vinny has been with me every step of the way - from creating goals to smashing through them, and always making sure I take the time to recover as hard as we train, too (HELLO SAUNA!). I’ve never trained with a coach who works as hard and is as dedicated to his clients as Vinny is. He listens, he’s ridiculously knowledgeable, and he

never settles-so you won’t either. I was so proud of the person I saw in the mirror on my wedding day. I found a confidence I didn’t know I had in me. It was a year of the hardest work and the most impactful growth. I could not and would not have done it without Vinny and Revive. At 29 years old I can happily say I’m in the best shape of my life, in more ways than I can count.

Taylor Wegman-The earlier you can start your wedding body journey, the

He provides personal training level support in an encouraging group class setting. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose weight, or just find a new routine, Vinny will help tailor the programs and workouts to meet your goals. His knowledge and excitement towards fitness is contagious and the community you gain at Revive.

better. Nothing inspires and energizes you quite like wedding planning and working out is a great way to channel all that energy (and let’s face it,stress) in a productive way. The key to feeling and looking great on your wedding day is a consistent and balanced routine. The months leading up to your wedding can be chaotic, making sure your work-out plan is set to autopilot before then is crucial. This is where Vinny comes in. If you show up every day with a positive attitude and willingness to be coached, he’ll take care of the rest.

Jessica Kaiser- I have been a runner since high school, and for nearly fifteen years that had been my primary form of exercise. After years of marathon-running, I began to experience recurring hip and knee pain that had me seeking out other ways to work out. I tried at-home online fitness programs, but continued to experience joint pain. I began physical therapy, where I was told I had developed uneven muscle through my years of running, causing a strain on my joints. It was a few months into PT that I heard about the classes at Revive Fitness, and thought that taking classes coached by someone who understands how to work the whole body more evenly was worth exploring. As I began consistently attending classes with Vinny, I experienced so much more than I could have hoped for. All the pain I had been experiencing the last few years was virtually gone, allowing me to return to running. I ran my first half-marathon in over three and a half years this past May of 2023. I have been nothing short of amazed at how fast a body can recover from years of incorrect training when

“Being able to offer fitness and recovery under one roof allows people to make one stop.”

you are given the proper guidance and coaching from someone who genuinely knows how to design a program for balanced whole-body fitness, and can simultaneously meet you at your current limitations while helping you push beyond them. Beyond grateful for Vinny and the Revive Family!

What role does community engagement play in Revive Fitness?

Community engagement plays a vital role in helping Revive expand and help more people in our community. The more events we go to, people that see us, hear about us, the more people know what Revive is all about. In the fitness industry in general community engagement is what helps grow studios. We are incredibly thankful for each and every event we attend, repost we

receive on social media, reviews left, etc. Our goal is to help as many people in Rochester as possible and community engagement is a large part of how we can do that.

How do you keep your services innovative and up-to-date in the ever-evolving fitness industry?

In my opinion the best way to stay ahead of the curve and try to be as innovative as possible in the fitness industry is always going back to your members. Asking them what are they looking for? Always going back to what their goals are and trying to program for their needs. Trying to stay ahead of the trends in the fitness world in an ongoing evolution. Things change on a daily and weekly basis. Things that we were doing a year ago or now, are no longer being

done or methods that we were training in are now showing to have negative side effects, etc. Always learning and growing, listening to mentors, going to fitness conferences and workshops, are just some of the ways to stay ahead and also to provide our members with the best possible fitness options around.

Are there any upcoming events or special programs that members can look forward to at Revive Fitness?

There is always something to look forward to with us as we are ever evolving and making adjustments to provide only the best services for our members. We will have some new promos in the near future too so always keep an eye on our social media and our website for those and all other latest updates!





“My life’s mission, The Daley Sparkle! The moment I was born my Papa decided I was ‘Sparkles’, and the rest is history.”

Can you share a bit about yourself and how you first entered the pageant world?

I am Paige Polchowski and I am the current American United Miss - Miss New York. I am attending Monroe Community College to earn my degree in fine arts. I hope to continue and earn my bachelor’s degree to become an art teacher. I was crowned in September of 2023 and will compete for the national title in September of 2024 in North Carolina. I originally thought that pageants were just a cattle call, and not for me. I was encouraged to enter my first pageant just to see what it was all about. The pageant I entered was just a local one, and I walked away with the local title. This led me to compete for the state title later that year. To my surprise, I won the state title and it was the first Miss NY title I held. Since then I have entered a variety of pageants and the reason I was hooked was the friendships I was making.

Being the American United Miss New York is a significant achievement. What has this title meant to you personally?

with the motto “It doesn’t cost a nickel to be kind”. I have carried that message throughout my life.

I have always worked to give back to my community. The name for my life’s mission came from my Papa’s last name, and what he named me the night I was born. He looked at me when I was only a minute old and announced, “That is my Sparkles”. So using the name “The Daley Sparkle” was just a natural way to honor him and all he meant to me. My local charity partner is Worth More Nation which is a wonderful organization that provides support, workshops, and

Who are some individuals that inspire you, and what qualities do you admire in them?

My mom is someone who inspires me. She inspires me by always standing up for what is right. She is confident and speaks her mind, but is always kind in doing so. She thinks outside the box and helps me tackle any situation I come across. My mom never fails to make me laugh and answers all my questions no matter what.

In your experience, what has been the most rewarding aspect of participating in pageants?

The title of American United Miss - Miss NY means so much to me. I can represent our great state of NY, and I can give back to the community in so many ways. It helps me extend my message beyond the border of New York state.

Could you tell us about the platform you promote as part of your role?

My platform is called, “The Daley Sparkle”. The Daley Sparkle was inspired by my Papa, Victor Daley. He raised us

pageants to any young girl who has experienced trauma in their life. We collect formalwear from pageant queens around the country and we give away these dresses to wonderfully deserving ladies in our community. My national charity partner is the American Cancer Society. I lost my Papa to lung cancer, so giving back and supporting others fighting this battle is close to my heart. I am creating “Sparkle Bags” to give to people who are fighting this terrible disease.

This is easily the friendships I have made over the last few years. I have such an amazing group of “sisters by sash” as we call ourselves, that are there for me no matter what. By connecting with them I can spread my mission throughout the country. The wonderful thing is that they support my work and I can support theirs. There is strength in numbers when creating positive change in the world. 1.

What motivated you to pursue the title of American United Miss New York?

I had taken time off from competing to focus on my pursuit of my degree in art education. I saw the American United Miss system on social media. What struck a chord with me was the mission of “Unity - Compassion - Service” through their sisterhood. All three of those ideals are important to me and my life’s mission. The bonus of meeting new friends who also value those ideals just made it the perfect choice for me.

“I work hard to spread my message of “it doesn’t cost a nickel to be kind” and I can motivate others to do the same.”

How has your role as a titleholder influenced your perspective on community involvement and service?

Long before I entered the pageant world, I was focused on giving back to my community. My family has always stepped up to help others in need. I have found that as a titleholder my reach for service goes even farther than just my family. I work hard to spread my message of “it doesn’t cost a nickel to be kind” and I can motivate others to do the same. There is strength in numbers, so the more people who reach out in their community the better our world will be. I have also found that when I am having a difficult day the best remedy is to help others in need. It makes my heart happy to be able to do for others.

Are there specific people you’ve enjoyed working with in your pageant experiences? Any memorable collaborations?

I have worked very closely with Sandy Arena and Worth More Nation for a few years now and it has been the most amazing experience! Worth More Nation is a nonprofit organization that helps girls who have been impacted by trauma find confidence through pageantry. This past December was the Worth More Nation pageant and I was able to help all of the amazing delegates that day! From the moment they arrived to rehearsals to the crowning moment! Seeing the girls slowly blossom throughout the day and gaining self-confidence was the most incredible thing!

What do you believe are the misconceptions people often have about pageantry, and how do you address them?

They are a popularity contest for which

girl is the prettiest and most attractive. Before I dove into the pageant world I was one of those people. I didn’t know what they were truly about until I put on a crown and sash of my own and got out into my community. Pageants are really about being the most professional version of yourself and showing the judges what you bring to the table and what makes you YOU!

How has being part of the pageant world shaped your personal and professional growth?

I have struggled with anxiety for years and used to struggle with meeting new people and being in unfamiliar places. Pageantry exposed me to something I was really scared of and showed me that it wasn’t bad after all! I now feel confident standing in front of a group of people instead of a nervous wreck. Through pageant interviews, I have gained a lot of skills on how to communicate with different people in different social settings. Pageantry has all around helped me to be more effective with communication and confidence!

Can you share an inspiring moment or encounter that stands out from your time as American United Miss New York?

I donate regularly to a food cupboard in my community. At my weekly stop, I was approached by a woman and her dog who needed food.

She shared her story of how she got to this point in life due to medical complications. She told me the dog she had with her was her friend’s pet. Her friend had died a few weeks prior and she had taken in the dog. I discovered in talking to her that there isn’t enough food in the food cupboard and she often

goes hungry. I asked her to tell me what would be on her wish list of groceries. It broke my heart to hear it was things like milk, fresh bread, vegetables, and some dog food. I told her to come back in 1 hour and would be filling that wish list for her. I went to the store with my mom and we filled up a cart with what she needed, as well as many staples for her cupboard. Of course, I picked up dog food, dog treats, and a new toy for the dog. She couldn’t believe we came back and brought her everything she needed. This was such a wonderful experience for me.

What are some of the values and principles that guide you in your pageant journey and daily life?

My life’s mission, The Daley Sparkle! The moment I was born my Papa decided I was ‘Sparkles’, and the rest is history. He always said, “It doesn’t cost a nickel to be kind.” Working with Worth More Nation I can see girls sparkle, shine, and shimmer on stage where they feel beautiful and strong! Being able to share that sparkle with the Worth More Nation girls is such a rewarding and heartwarming experience! Losing my Papa to lung cancer I connected with the American Cancer Society to bring awareness to cancer. Very soon I will be able to meet patients undergoing treatment and gift them “Sparkle Bags”! A few comfort items to make something difficult a bit more comfortable and relaxing.

As a young woman with a significant title, what message do you hope to convey to others, especially young aspiring pageant contestants?

Without rain, there are no flowers but you also need sunshine to bloom! No matter what you do in life there will


“Long before I entered the pageant world, I was focused on giving back to my community. My family has always stepped up to help others in need. ”

always be pushback and obstacles that get in your way. Don’t try to avoid the struggle, accept it, work through it, and you will have learned something along the way. Pageantry is a lot of “No” and rejection so it is really difficult to not let it affect you emotionally. Waves on a beach have high and low tides, everything comes in waves but they aren’t permanent. Staying true to yourself

and understanding that a “No” doesn’t define you will change how you see the world and yourself!

Looking ahead, what are your career aspirations and how do you plan to leverage your pageant experience in your future endeavors?

I love working with kids and making art! Naturally, I want to be an art teacher!

Before pursuing a degree in fine arts I originally wanted to do something in the world of fashion. I loved being able to put together outfits for all of the different pageant competitions. Fashion is another medium of art, being able to express yourself without saying a word. I also have gained a lot of public speaking experience which will give me confidence to run a classroom!




Before I became a business owner, I was a behavioral specialist. I worked at a Hillside Children’s Center Day Treatment School - a program for students who experience significant challenges in school and or the community which impact their academic performance and/or social development. It was there that I learned about the magic of Restorative Justice. We introduced it into our program and watched how rapidly it turned things around for our students, the adults working with them and our program.

When I became a business owner, I realized that I was once again a disciplinarian, but to a completely new age group – my peers. Knowing that traditional, punitive punishments just don’t work, I began to explore the role Restorative Practices could have in the workplace when rules were broken or harm was caused. I began seeing every workplace misstep as an opportunity to repair harm, build community and restore an equitable balance.

In schools, utilizing Restorative Practices is a powerful tool because it prioritizes relationships, encourages accountability, teaches essential life skills, and contributes to a positive and supportive school culture. Who wouldn’t want that in a place where they spend roughly 40 hours a week? So, what is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is an approach to discipline that aims to repair the harm done to victims. A neutral party works to ensure that offenders take responsibility for their actions, to understand the harm they have caused, to make things right and make plans for the action to not

be done again. For victims, the goal is to give them an active role in the process. In the criminal justice field, Restorative Justice became popular as law enforcers realized that the rate of recidivism increased even though stricter punishments were being handed out. It’s all about dealing with wrongdoing in a way that’s inclusive and collaborative. Instead of just punishing, it emphasizes accountability, empathy, and healing. In the workplace, Restorative Practices are a perfect fit and can create a culture that prioritizes communication, understanding, and problem-solving. Restorative Justice gained popularity in the US in 1970s, but the roots date back much further to indigenous tribes in Africa and Native Americans in Canada. Check out Fania E. Davis’ The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justic for more information on the origins of Restorative Justice.

How does this translate to the workplace: Using Restorative Practices at work is like a team-building superpower. It sorts out issues by bringing everyone together to talk and understand each other. It’s not about punishment but about learning and growing, making the workplace a happier and more relaxed space where people can be more collaborative.

Traditional (punitive) methods involve things like reprimands, suspensions, or even firing. It’s about blame and consequences, often without addressing the root problems. Restorative Practices focus on understanding, repairing harm, and making individuals accountable. Dialogue, empathy, and collaboration are key, aiming to restore relationships and prevent future conflicts.

Examples of Restorative Practices in the workplace:

• Restorative Circles:

Get the team together regularly for open discussions to share thoughts, resolve conflicts, and build a sense of community. At Hillside, we started our staff meetings with Circles. Most classrooms started each day with a Community Circle – a chance to talk about their night, discuss the upcoming day, and share news. Restorative Circles let everyone express themselves, working together to find solutions. Circles are also a great way to discuss issues or events that everyone has a stake in.

• Mediation and Facilitation: When conflicts pop up, bring in a neutral third party to guide discussions and find constructive solutions. This helps address the root causes and ensures everyone’s heard. Let’s say 2 colleagues have a disagreement over a project. Instead of the traditional approach of assigning blame back and forth and trying to prove who is right, mediation can be a useful tool.

• Restitution and Repair: Encourage those involved in conflicts to take responsibility and work towards fixing things. This could mean apologies, making amends, or collaborating to set things right. Let’s say 1 employee unintentionally, but carelessly, damages a valuable piece of equipment that is needed by several people. Instead of just requiring the employee to pay for the damage, a Restorative Conference can be held to discuss what happened, those affected by the act can share how they are feeling, the person who broke the equipment can apologize and

“ When I became a BUSINESS OWNER, I realized that I was once again a disciplinarian, but to a completely new age group – MY PEERS. ”
“IRestorative Justice is an approach to discipline that aims to repair the harm done to victims. ”

making amends, or collaborating to set things right. Let’s say 1 employee unintentionally, but carelessly, damages a valuable piece of equipment that is needed by several people. Instead of just requiring the employee to pay for the damage, a Restorative Conference can be held to discuss what happened, those affected by the act can share how they are feeling, the person who broke the equipment can apologize and understand that their actions affected others and a plan for restitution can be made.

• Community Building Activities: Shake things up with team-building activities that focus on positive relationships and creating a sense of belonging. Fun activities contribute to a more unified and cooperative workplace.

How Restorative Practices Make Workplaces More Cooperative:

• Improved Communication: Restorative Practices create open

lines of communication, letting team members share thoughts and concerns without fearing punishment. Better communication leads to understanding and cooperation.

• Increased Employee Satisfaction: Employees feel valued when their concerns are heard and addressed using Restorative Practices. Higher job satisfaction means more productivity and happier employees.

• Positive Culture: Embracing Restorative Practices builds a positive and inclusive organizational culture. This culture encourages collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to the organization’s mission and values.

While Restorative Practices offer tons of benefits, there are times when strict punishment is necessary, especially for serious misconduct. Finding the right balance between restorative approaches and accountability ensures a workplace

that’s not only efficient but also caring and supportive.

Restorative Practices bring a fresh perspective to the workplace, creating strong, cooperative teams. By putting communication, understanding, and accountability first, organizations can turn conflicts into opportunities for growth and make the workplace a thriving, enjoyable space. While recognizing the need for accountability through punishment in some cases, integrating Restorative Practices is a powerful way to build a workplace that’s not just productive but also compassionate and supportive.

If you would like additional information on Restorative Practices and how to implement them in to your personal or professional life, please reach out!




Jane, can you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you became an expert in diabetes management?

I would love to Kelly. I am a registered nurse for over 30 years. I have been a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist for 28 years and a Certified Professional Life Coach since 2003. Currently, I am Rochester Regional Health’s Clinical Care Manager and Diabetes Specialty nurse at Unity Diabetes & Endocrinology Services. I also have a business called Diabetes Help 4U which offers consulting and individual diabetes coaching. I have worked with thousands of people with diabetes assisting them reach their health goals.

You mentioned that you have a new book. Would you provide an overview of what the book is about?

Sure! The name of the book is Take Charge of Type 2 Diabetes, Successfully Solve Your Diabetes Puzzle. The book was written specifically to assist people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; however, it applies to all people because there are 97 million people in the United States with prediabetes. Making positive lifestyle changes will potentially help those people prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes.

taking diabetes medication, weight release, nutrition, activity, sleep, stress management, and more.

After each chapter, there is a summary of the chapter called Bottom Line and Powerful Questions to reflect on the chapter that was read.

Bonuses in the book are pre and postassessments of lifestyle, self-coaching tips, and a Resources chapter.

How has your journey working with people with type 2 diabetes influenced your perspective on life and health?

That’s an interesting and profound question Kelly. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have a chronic illness. A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that rings true for me is, “The First Wealth is Health.” I make sure I keep maintaining my health forefront of my mind. I tell my clients I too “walk the walk” and work daily to maintain my health. I do the things I recommend doing.

My journey working with people with type 2 diabetes has firmly established the concept in me that small steps make a big difference! I have seen my clients incorporate small steps that have made a big difference in their lives, health, and management of diabetes. Some thoughts that came to mind are walking 10 minutes a day can assist with lowering blood sugar or releasing even 10% of body weight can lead to improved blood sugars and other blood work results.

The book addresses many “puzzle pieces.” The “puzzle pieces” address different aspects of managing diabetes and improving health. For example, how to balance high and low blood sugar and what the numbers mean,

What inspired you to write about type 2 diabetes?

My patients inspired me to write my book. I have seen the positive outcomes of the people with diabetes I have worked with. I have a deep desire to help people and I wrote the book to do exactly thathelp people. I have confidence this book will do just that. Writing the book will help more people. I want my reach to be far and wide.

What are some of the most significant challenges your clients are dealing with type 2 diabetes, and how are you helping them overcome the challenges?

That’s an excellent question, Kelly! Some significant challenges people with diabetes have had are understanding what food to eat, incorporating activity in their day, and balancing blood sugar from not going too high or too low. The most frequent question I get from my

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” - Ann Wigmore

clients is, What do I eat? The truth is that a person with diabetes does not need to be on a special “diet.” It’s eating in a way that everyone ideally would eat. To start I recommend not drinking sugarsweetened beverages and cutting down on food portions. I work individually with people because what may work for one person may not work for another person. Some of my clients say they don’t like to exercise. I recommend just to start adding more activities such as walking in their home during television commercials or marching in place while waiting for the coffee to brew. Every little bit helps! Many clients will feel frustrated because they are not sure why blood sugar levels go too high or too low. I recommend being like a detective and getting information through blood sugar meters or a continuous glucose meter. The information can assist in figuring out how their life is influencing their blood sugar. I highly recommend having a 1:1 consultation with a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist!

In your book, do you share any specific strategies or tips for managing type 2 diabetes that have worked well for your clients with type 2 diabetes?

Yes, there are many tips for managing diabetes in the book. Some tips that have worked well for my clients with type 2 diabetes are:

• Drink water and avoid juice, regular soda, or sweetened beverages. (Reserve juice for low blood sugar).

• Walk every day for at least 15 minutes or more (even in the house if it’s too cold outside).

• Check blood sugar at least two to four times a day or obtain a continuous glucose meter (for example, Freestyle Libre)

• Check body weight weekly and record.

What is very helpful in the book is a chapter on self-coaching which gives strategies in identifying what is important to the person reading the book and skills to use to maintain motivation.

Would you tell us about any key moments or realizations that prompted you to share your story and expertise with a broader audience?

I wrote this book because I felt I needed to. So many people struggle unnecessarily with diabetes. I will never forget the key moment for me was the time a woman with diabetes was crying and said, “My whole life is diabetes. It is so overwhelming. I want diabetes to be a part of my life, not my entire life.” I agree with her. The book helps people sort through some of the confusion managing diabetes can have.

Who do you hope will benefit the most from reading your book?

I hope many people will benefit from reading the book! Even though the title is Take Charge of Type 2 Diabetes and yes, it is for type 2 diabetes, the book is for everyone who wants to live a healthier life. Many people who reviewed the book on Amazon who don’t have diabetes said, “This book is for everyone. Everyone can benefit by reading the book.”

Are there any misconceptions about diabetes that you aim to dispel with your book?

Yes, there are misconceptions about diabetes. One misconception is people think only food raises blood sugar levels. My clients ask themselves, my sugar is high, what did I eat? It’s not only food that raises blood sugar. Other factors can increase blood sugar levels. Stress is another factor that raises blood sugar. Another misconception is a person is a diabetic. A person is not their disease. A person has diabetes, they are not diabetes. More accurately stated is PWD (Person With Diabetes).

Also, another misconception is that if a person is overweight, he or she must lose a lot of weight to make a difference with their diabetes. Starting out releasing 5-10% of body weight is a big help in managing diabetes.

What are the key takeaways you’d like readers to have after finishing your book?

The number one key takeaway I would like the readers to get is diabetes is doable. By incorporating recommendations from the book, applying consistently, and not giving up, inevitable progress will be made. Please don’t take my word for it. Try it out. 

Would you share a bit about the support network or resources that have been most valuable to people in managing diabetes?

Support is key with diabetes because much of the diabetes care is self-managed. I recommend attending a Diabetes Management class. My colleagues and I at Rochester Regional Health teach Managing Diabetes classes. These classes provide an understanding of all aspects of diabetes. It’s also a benefit to be in

“The book was written specifically to assist people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; however, it applies to all people because there are 97 million people in the United States with prediabetes.”

class with other people with diabetes and share thoughts, and ideas and to get support.

As stated previously, included in the Take Charge of Type 2 Diabetes book is a Resources chapter. There is also a chapter on Support.

Do you have any advice for individuals who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and are looking for guidance?

For many, I know a diagnosis of diabetes can bring up some fear, uncertainty, disbelief, sadness, and possibly anger. Those feelings are normal. I suggest it’s ok to feel those feelings and don’t stay stuck there. People who made positive lifestyle changes after being diagnosed with diabetes made a difference in how they felt physically. The blood sugar levels improved also.

I suggest learning a lot about diabetes. In addition to getting my book, get other diabetes books. Schedule an appointment with an RN or RD, CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist), or a Diabetes Consultant and Coach. Also,

register for a diabetes class.

Would you touch on the role of diet and exercise in managing type 2 diabetes?

In my book, Take Charge of Type 2 Diabetes, I refer to what is commonly known as diet as Nourish Your Body and Exercise as Move Your Body. The roles of these both are so important I devoted a whole chapter to each one. These are two cornerstones in helping manage diabetes. The other 2 cornerstones are taking diabetes medications and stress management.

What we choose to eat has a big impact on our health. Food can lead us towards health or away from it. The quote at the beginning of the Nourish Your Body chapter is by Ann Wigmore. “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

Moving our body is important too. Despite the numerous researched health benefits of exercise, most Americans don’t exercise. In the book. there are tips to beat the sedentary lifestyle.

Are there any plans for outreach,

workshops, or speaking engagements to further support people with diabetes based on your book?

Yes, I plan to do outreach and speaking engagements and am open to opportunities. The book will only help people if they know about it.  I will do a book signing on March 16th at A Different Point of View on Monroe Avenue in Brighton. I will also be doing a talk at a Diabetes Support group in Brockport in April.

My website is and Diabetes Help 4U has a presence on Facebook and X (Formally Twitter).

Lastly, what is your biggest hope in sharing your experience and knowledge with your readers?

My biggest hope in writing this book is that the book will help make life easier for people who have diabetes. I hope the people with diabetes reading the book will understand diabetes better and that they will say to themselves, I got this! I will then know writing the book was worth it!

CALL TODAY! (585) 261-2096 Where Dreams Come Home! R i t a Pettinaro|Real Estate Salesperson SPECIALIZING IN • First time home buyer • Residential Home sales • Luxury Homes • Investment Properties • Commercial Real Estate



Throughout clinical practice, there have always been common muscular skeletal problems that have proven difficult to manage. As these conditions are not commonly life-threatening, there has always been minimal effort to advance, research, and provide treatment options for these conditions. This has led to years of over-prescribed pain medications, deteriorating quality of life, and a lot of people living in chronic pain.

So where is the most time and energy spent on pain management and muscular skeletal injuries? If you guessed professional athletics, you would be correct. With multi-billion dollar franchises and multimillion dollar contracts, you can bet the athletes get topnotch care.

While completing my education and specialty training in Sports Medicine there was a lot of “buzz” talk about a treatment called “shockwave therapy”. It was listed as an effective treatment option for almost every orthopedic condition on the list, yet not once, in any training room, clinic or facility did I see or use this option. Yet we knew all the big names in pro athletics were using them. Furthermore, there was a particular “Shockwave Unit” called Softwave Therapy based out of Germany that was catching a lot of attention. Softwave had restructured the production of the sound wave and received many unique patents and FDA clearances.

bought a Softwave unit and became the first clinic in NY to provide this service. As the need grew we expanded and that is how we started Northeast Pain Solutions. We bridge the gap between the elites and our local communities. On top of that, we provide this service at under half the cost of the national average, allowing all to access and use the same treatment options that are provided to the “elite”.

Therapy is its ability to promote tissue regeneration and repair. By delivering acoustic waves to the affected area, Softwave Therapy stimulates the production of collagen, a key component of tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. This can significantly accelerate the healing process, reducing pain and inflammation while restoring overall function.

So what exactly is Softwave Therapy?

Softwave Therapy has emerged as a groundbreaking treatment for a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. This non-invasive and highly effective therapy utilizes acoustic waves to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, offering a plethora of benefits for patients suffering from acute and chronic injuries alike.

So what did we do? Our Geneva location

One of the primary benefits of Softwave

In addition to its regenerative properties, Softwave Therapy also modulates inflammatory effects. By altering pain and increasing blood flow to the injured area, Softwave Therapy can provide rapid and longlasting relief for patients suffering from conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and even chronic back pain.

Softwave Therapy has been shown to improve range of motion and flexibility in patients with various musculoskeletal issues. By breaking down scar tissue and adhesions, Softwave Therapy can help restore normal joint function and mobility, allowing patients to return to their daily activities with greater ease and comfort.

The application of Softwave Therapy is wide-ranging, making it a versatile treatment option for numerous injuries and conditions. From sports-related injuries such as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow to chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia, Softwave Therapy has demonstrated remarkable efficacy in promoting healing and reducing pain.


application of Softwave Therapy

is wide-ranging, making it a versatile treatment option for numerous injuries and conditions”

Moreover, Softwave Therapy is particularly effective for conditions that have not responded well to traditional treatments. This includes chronic tendonitis, osteoarthritis, and other degenerative conditions that often prove challenging to manage. Softwave Therapy offers a non-invasive alternative to surgery, providing a safe and effective option for patients seeking relief from chronic pain and debilitation.

The versatility and efficacy of Softwave Therapy have made it an ever-growing choice among athletes, healthcare professionals, and patients alike. Its ability to stimulate natural healing and

provide long-term pain relief without the need for invasive procedures or medications has contributed to its widespread adoption as a preferred treatment for musculoskeletal injuries.

As the demand for non-invasive and holistic treatments continues to grow, Softwave Therapy is poised to play a crucial role in the future of injury rehabilitation and pain management. Its ability to address a wide range of conditions and promote natural healing makes it a valuable tool for improving patient outcomes and enhancing overall quality of life. With ongoing research and technological advancements, the

potential applications of Softwave Therapy are likely to continue expanding, offering hope and relief for individuals suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain.



“A dog like Ryan can find themselves living in a shelter for a long time just simply because of the way they look.”

Just look at this stout boy! This is the wonderful Ryan. He was a transfer from South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter back in 2021. A dog like Ryan can find themselves living in a shelter for a long time just simply because of the way they look. However, Ryan also didn’t get along with other dogs which unfortunately for him, put another stop on his record.

We don’t know most of the histories of the animals that come into our care, especially those transferring from other shelters. We try our best to work with the animal in front of us and do what we can to help them work through any adversities they may have. We learned Ryan was full of bubbly energy, and one of his favorite things to do was go on walks. He was also quite eager to please. Ryan was an A+ student in the ACS Behavior Program, catching on quickly to what his handlers were asking of him. He also found himself enjoying splashing around in some water and bobbing for treats like we bob for apples. We learned he was a fun guy! We were pleased to see Ryan was adopted fairly quickly, just a couple of months after his arrival.

his adopter brought him back to us, that he got out of the shelter for a few weeks, and he was safe. It can be hard for animals to come back into shelter care after being in a home, but Ryan maintained his bubbly personality. Just two months later, he was adopted again! This time for much longer. Ryan was with his new person for over two years when sadly they suffered a house fire. Ryan was brought back into our care on

extra special attention to him. The last thing we want for any of our animals is to shut down, not be happy, comfortable, or sad. We do everything we can to allow them the highest quality of life possible. Ryan went on long decompression walks, he got lost of pets, treats, and time splashing around. He also continued working with our behavior team to help him overcome his reactivity to other dogs.

temporary status while his person searched for a new place to live that would allow him too. With no luck in the search, Ryan was officially rehomed back into our care, and we got back to it.

Unfortunately, he returned just a month later. Although we were sad it didn’t work out, we were happy

This time, Ryan was a little more reserved, so we made sure to pay

We were hopeful Ryan would find another home and we were going to do whatever it took to help him get there. Ryan was adopted again and has been in his new home for almost 3 months! We are happy to report Ryan is doing well in his home with his newest adopters. We couldn’t be happier for Mr. Ryan!

Ryan Facts:

• Almost 4 years old

• Transfer from South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in 2021

• Adopted and returned 2 times in addition to a 3d adoption where he’s currently residing

“We are so excited to share, Lynn was adopted just after Christmas of 2023 giving her and ACS the best gift possible.”

Lynn prefers a home that allows her sassy attitude to not only be tolerated but celebrated! She has a strong personality and is particular in her likings. Even with all the sass, Lynn is capable of showing her sweet and affectionate side.

Coming to Animal Care Sanctuary as a rehoming intake, Lynn was welcomed with open arms. With her beauty we anticipated she would be a quick in and out. However, that wasn’t the case. Lynn stayed with ACS for a long year and seven months.

Shelter stays for animals are tough on them, especially for those staying as long as Lynn did. We pay special attention to our long stays, ensuring they receive the best possible welfare to reduce the chances of them deteriorating before finding their new homes. Lynn is resilient. She is tough and opiniated. We appreciated this about Lynn because she was clear in letting us know what she needed. We listened to her and learned she is thrives best when alone and values one on one time with her people in a quiet and uninterrupted space. Lynn had her own special communal she got all to herself where she felt most comfortable. We provided her with daily enrichment by offering her puzzle toys, play time, offering her time to roam the entire cattery floor to her desire, quality pets, and of course various platforms for her to explore with in her living quarters.

the efforts we put in to help her be seen and increase her chances of being adopted. We would bring interested adopters her communal, we advertised her on our various social media platforms, we even took her to the WETM Elmira news station where she got 3 minutes of fame all to herself. Nothing happened. However, we persisted and kept encouraging Lynn to hang on. That she would find her home eventually and until then, we will be her home in every capacity possible.

Facts about Lynn:

• Rehomed due to her previous family bringing a puppy into the home. Lynn did not take well to the puppy and the family felt it was best to bring Lynn to Animal Care Sanctuary so she could find a new home.

• Lynn was a part of our cat behavior modification program helping her learn strategies to self-regulate her stimulation highs and lows.

• Prefers to be pet in between her ears and the top of her nose and does not welcome belly rubs.

• Although Lynn gives clear warning on her mood, we determined a home without kids, cats, or dogs would best.

• Has piercing green eyes and stunning markings. A true and beautiful Tortishell.

• Energetic and playful that has a mischievous streak and can be quite audacious at times.

Lynn is a stunning cat that just seemed to be overlooked and passed on regardless of

We are so excited to share, Lynn was adopted just after Christmas of 2023 giving her and ACS the best gift possible. This loving couple understood what Lynn needed and desired. We will continue to support Lynn as we do every animal that leaves our care as they enter and live in their new homes for as long as they may need. Happy New Year to Lynn, we are so excited for you!

• Came to ACS on 5/24/2022 and stayed at ACS until she was adopted on 12/30/2023.

• Estimated to be around 8 years old.

Visit Animal Care Sanctuary to learn more about our adoption process and see adoptable animals.




Unleashing the Power of Women’s Group Travel

In recent years, the travel industry has witnessed a transformative shift as more women are seeking empowering and rejuvenating experiences through group travel. The rise of “Goddess Getaways” has emerged as a trend where women come together to explore exotic destinations, fostering connections, and unleashing the power of collective female energy. From the lush landscapes of Costa Rica to the captivating beauty of Italy and the tropical paradise of Bali, these destinations are a few that provide the perfect backdrop for women to embark on transformative journeys. Additionally, the choice between land-based and cruise-based travel, as well as the emergence of wellness getaways like spas and yoga retreats, adds an extra layer of diversity to the experiences these trips offer.

Costa Rica: Embracing Nature and Adventure

Costa Rica, with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse ecosystems, serves as an ideal destination for Goddess Getaways seeking adventure and connection with nature. From ziplining through the canopy to exploring volcanoes and relaxing on sun-kissed beaches, Costa Rica offers a myriad of activities that cater to diverse interests. The Pura Vida lifestyle, emphasizing a pure and simple life, resonates with the spirit of Goddess Getaways, promoting well-being and a sense of community. Organizing group activities such as waterfall hikes, wildlife safaris, and ecoconscious adventures allows women to bond over shared experiences, fostering a

sense of empowerment and camaraderie. Whether staying in eco-friendly resorts or participating in local community projects, Costa Rica provides a transformative backdrop for women to connect with themselves and each other.

Italy: Nourishing the Soul with Culture and Cuisine

Italy, a land of art, history, and delectable cuisine, invites Goddess Getaways to immerse themselves in a sensory-rich experience. From the enchanting streets of Florence to the romantic canals of Venice and the sun-soaked Amalfi Coast, Italy’s diverse landscapes provide the

perfect canvas for women to explore their passions and indulge in the finer things in life.

Culinary experiences, such as pastamaking classes and wine tastings, not only satisfy the taste buds but also serve as opportunities for connection and celebration. Cultural excursions to historic landmarks, museums, and art galleries offer a chance for self-reflection and inspiration. Whether strolling through charming villages or cruising along the Amalfi coastline, Italy’s allure lies in its ability to ignite the senses and create

lasting memories for Goddess Getaways.

Bali: Relaxation and Rejuvenation in Tropical Paradise

For those seeking the sun-drenched tranquility of the Southeast Asian archipelago, Bali stands out as an idyllic destination for Goddess Getaways. With its crystal-clear waters, powdery beaches, and vibrant coral reefs, Bali offers a serene setting for women to unwind and recharge. Group activities such as snorkeling, island hopping, and beachside yoga sessions provide opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.

Luxurious resorts and spas scattered across the island cater to the wellbeing of Goddess Getaways, offering pampering treatments and holistic wellness programs. Whether lounging by the pool or exploring the spiritual richness of local temples, Bali creates an atmosphere conducive to self-discovery and rejuvenation, allowing women to embrace their inner goddesses.

Land vs. Cruises: Tailoring the Experience

The choice between land-based and cruise-based Goddess Getaways depends on the preferences of the group. Landbased trips offer more flexibility, allowing participants to delve deeper into the local culture, cuisine, and activities. Itineraries can be customized to cater to the interests of the group, fostering a sense of ownership and connection with the destination.

On the other hand, cruises provide a unique setting for Goddess Getaways, offering the convenience of exploring

“The rise of “Goddess Getaways” has emerged as a trend where women come together to explore exotic destinations, fostering connections, and unleashing the power of collective female energy.”

multiple destinations without the hassle of packing and unpacking. Cruises often come with a variety of onboard activities, entertainment, and dining options, creating a self-contained environment for women to bond while sailing through exotic locales.

Wellness Getaways: Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Soul

In addition to traditional travel experiences, Goddess Getaways are increasingly turning to wellness retreats focused on rejuvenating the mind, body, and soul. Spas, yoga retreats, and mindfulness workshops offer a holistic approach to travel, allowing women to prioritize self-care and personal growth. Spa retreats in destinations like Bali or Thailand provide indulgent treatments amidst serene surroundings, while yoga retreats in India or Mexico offer spiritual

awakenings through meditation and physical practice. These wellness getaways cater to the specific needs of Goddess Getaways, promoting inner balance and empowerment in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Goddess Getaways have become a powerful phenomenon, allowing women to come together, explore the world, and unleash the strength of collective female energy. Whether choosing the adventurous landscapes of Costa Rica, the cultural richness of Italy, the tropical paradise of Bali, or opting for land-based or cruise-based travel, these experiences create lasting bonds and memories.

As women continue to seek travel experiences that align with their desires for connection, empowerment, and wellbeing, the trend of Goddess Getaways

is likely to flourish. With an array of destinations and travel styles to choose from, women can customize their journeys to reflect their unique interests and foster personal growth, making each Goddess Getaway a transformative and empowering experience.

Soulful Journeys with Beth Travel Agency specializes in Women’s Wellness getaways and is poised to curate the perfect Goddess Getaway for your group. With a focus on nurturing the mind, body, and soul, Soulful Journeys ensures that every journey is a soul-enriching experience, fostering connection and empowerment among women. Book your Goddess Getaway with Soulful Journeys and embark on a journey of self-discovery, camaraderie, and rejuvenation.



Embracing the Mediterranean Diet During Menopause


As midlife women navigate the intricate journey of menopause, prioritizing health and well-being becomes paramount. One dietary approach that has gained widespread recognition for its potential benefits during this transformative period is the Mediterranean diet. Let’s delve into the reasons why embracing this wholesome eating plan can be particularly advantageous for women in menopause.

1. Hormonal Balance:

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, contributes to hormonal balance during menopause. Essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, support overall hormonal health and may alleviate certain symptoms associated with this life stage.

2. Bone Health:

Menopause often brings concerns about bone health due to a decline in estrogen levels. The Mediterranean diet incorporates calcium-rich foods like dairy, leafy greens, and nuts, providing crucial nutrients for maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Heart Health:

Cardiovascular health becomes a focal point during menopause, as hormonal changes can influence cholesterol levels. The Mediterranean

diet, emphasizing heart-healthy fats from olive oil and nuts, is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, offering valuable support during this stage of life.

4. Weight Management:

Many women experience changes in metabolism and weight distribution during menopause. The Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on lean proteins, whole grains, and plant-based foods can aid in weight management, promoting a healthy body composition and potentially reducing the risk of obesityrelated health issues.

5. Mood and Mental Well-being:

Menopause can bring about mood swings and increased stress. The Mediterranean diet, with its abundance of antioxidants and nutrients, may have a positive impact on mental well-being. Incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and walnuts, may also support cognitive function.

6. Reduced Inflammation:

Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues, and menopause can exacerbate inflammatory responses. The Mediterranean diet’s antiinflammatory properties, attributed to its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and olive oil, may help alleviate inflammation and its associated symptoms.


For midlife women navigating the intricate landscape of menopause, the Mediterranean diet emerges as

a holistic and beneficial approach to support overall health and wellbeing. By embracing this nutrientrich eating plan, women can harness the power of wholesome foods to navigate the challenges of menopause with grace, promoting vitality and resilience during this transformative phase of life.

For more on the Mediterranean Diet plan, join the Midlife Menopause Makeover (a private Facebook group) to get your free 7 d7-dayay meal plan. (Remember to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure an effective management plan tailored to your individual needs.)




I admit it, I bought into the self-care era.

Face serums, vitamins, hair masks, lip oil, collagen peptide drinks, protein shakes, omega 3’s, and chia seeds are now added to my plain Greek yogurt.

Gone are the days when remembering to take my makeup off and flossing was considered an accomplishment.

An 8-pound weight vest was added to my daily 10-thousand steps routine to improve my endurance and bone health. My 40-ounce Stanley goes everywhere with me like a pacifier.

TikTok is my new feel-bad obsession.

It is full of attractive, skilled people preying on us bedtime scrollers who are afraid we are not ‘doing’ or ‘being’ enough.

Are we buying into our fears? True self-care is not found in a pill, powder, or practice, it is in the power to shift your thinking.

Instead of feeling energized and excited, my self-care routine feels more like a chore, and at times I could care less.

Chasing the promise of better health, calm, and maybe a little restored youth has left me feeling bored by it all.

“I should go to my Body Combat class.”

“I should use my retinol drops from Sephora.”

“I should wake up earlier.”

I should eliminate “should” from my vocabulary. When we beat ourselves up every day over what we did not do - or what we did not get done, our self-care turns to self-loathing.

My thumb has isolated arthritis and I struggle to button my jeans. I woke up and my heel started to hurt for absolutely no reason. I am suddenly aware of strange lines and puckers on my arms, legs, and neck. Yes, I have been sucked into the Crepe Erase infomercial more than once.

We reach a certain age in life where there is more time behind us than ahead. It is a scary proposition. In my mind, I feel like the same person I was twenty years ago, but my body says otherwise.

Everything hurts and looks dramatically different. Self-care is supposed to relieve us of our stress and anxiety, but all it has done to me is lead to self-judgment.

I have decided to stop the lotions and potions and focus on being present and embracing the bored and normal moments of life that -do- make me feel energized, happy, and at peace.

Here is how I am choosing to reevaluate my self-care routine.


Walking has become my favorite exercise. I am letting go of the idea that I need to carry a vest since the natural weight of a workday takes care of that. I go to the gym when I can, try to lift weights, and play pickleball once a week. But walking fits into almost every day and is a date I keep with myself. My back usually hurts, it can be bitter cold, but I never take for granted the gift of health and movement.


When you are getting married, raising children, and grinding out the peak years of a career, your girlfriend relationships suffer. At this stage, I am finding my woman friends are more valuable to me than ever. I try to make a date, once a week

to see one of them, for dinner, or a long call with a glass of wine. They know me best. We have all become better listeners, free of judgment and envy. My best outfits are saved for them, simply because we appreciate the effort that goes into making the time.


As a lifelong reader, I am not sure why I stopped. Maybe it was failing eyesight or watching too many “reels” on Golden Doodles, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift. I have lost touch with this wonderful, calming, beautiful habit. There is nothing better than reading something that fuels the mind and inspires a better conversation with yourself. “101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think” is highly recommended.


For too much of my life, I have tied religion to faith. An invitation from a friend to join her for a church service was uncomfortable. I am still astounded I was open to it. Prayer and gratitude provide a connection for a greater purpose in my life. It helps me cope and let go of what I cannot change, I am not sure I could get through the journey of watching my mom decline due to Alzheimer’s disease without faith.


Every day I wake up and think of my end zone. The moment that will bring me joy. It can be as simple as a morning walk with my dog Ted, the anticipation of a trip to Target, a new lipstick, or stopping what I am doing to watch an old comfortable movie. As I write this, “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton is on, and I am content in my freshly cleaned home, sipping a glass of wine, and eating Cheez-Its.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde.



Moving Back into A State of Flow

Winter solstice and the new year naturally bring us into a time of recharging and reassessing. We get to contemplate our upcoming year and if we are aligned to our past year’s goals and purpose. It can also bring with it a creative funk and stagnation of flow state. Feeling down and at a loss of direction can be an overwhelming state of being but is also common during the winter. It can also last well past that unless we find ways to jumpstart creativity.

The term, “flow state,” refers to a time when you can tune out ego and just go with your gut. You find creating anything to be effortless and can even feel as though someone else worked through you to create a beautiful and meaningful design. I’ve been fortunate enough to have made entire paintings while in this state of flow and wondered who made that when I finish. They are by far and away some of my best works. Why would that be? Speaking from my own experience, I felt led and free because I didn’t need to make a single decision myself. All of it felt as though it were being made for me in ways that were what I had deemed beyond my own capabilities.

So how did I prepare myself to get into this state of being? I love to start my creativity practice with a quieting meditation. Deep breathing and asking for guidance from forces that are beyond me have always put me at ease while making me feel supported and loved. It’s as if the heavens are rejoicing that I am about to partake in making something meaningful and beautiful. Like they’ve been lying in wait for me to finally show up in my studio or to begin writing. They feel especially present while I teach

others how to achieve this state of being during their lessons.

Have you had days where you knew you were meant to be doing something but just can’t find the gumption within you to begin? You are not alone there. Last year, after my mom passed, I was in a funk. I was happy she no longer had to suffer and honestly, I have the best relationship I’ve ever had with her right now. It’s like she finally “gets me.” But the guilt of that was weighing heavily on me as a mom and grandmother myself. Guilt can feel like slogging through a dense swap of emotional baggage. Until we remember that our loved ones and our ancestors want to watch us soar and live at our highest vibration. When we get up and dance with life again, they rejoice loudly and with unbridled enthusiasm. We get our own cheering section!

One of my mentors, who is inherently filled with joy is Lynn Whipple. I took an online class through Carla Sonheim Creative* several years ago of hers, (which I highly recommend). I remember her saying something that was so simple yet profound that I refer to almost daily. She said to “just move your hands!” I even bought a poster of hers that has that slogan to hang in my studio where I see it each day. I hear her voice happily reminding me that the key to doing your art is to just start. Once I begin following her advice, I instantly feel better. It’s as though the sun starts to shine again.

Music is a wonderful tool for getting into the right mindset. Create playlists with your favorite dance tunes or ones that contain happy memories. I also like to play my classical music list if I’m having trouble concentrating and have

either detail work or desk work that needs me to be laser focused. Somehow, it works to keep me on-track and get my dreaded accounting work done a lot quicker with less mistakes. Knowing that work I don’t love doing and keeps me from my art is done and I’ve now created space for painting time, opens me up to more of that fabulous flow.

Another great way to get back into our real essence as inherent creators is by doing something tactile and has fun movement during the act of doing said fun thing. Personally, I love to get out chalk pastels and just put them on paper with no plan or agenda. I just want to get some on the paper and mush it around with my fingers. It reminds me of being a kid and using sidewalk chalk. We didn’t care what it looked like or if it got washed away in the rain. An entire afternoon could fly by without us noticing and we felt as though we had created a pretty masterpiece.

Cooking, repotting a plant or weeding can be the same way. I love to walk barefoot through the grass in the summer to feel grounded and centered or stare up at the sun while I lie in it. As I allow the earth to support me and run my hands through the grass, I feel a huge sense of gratitude. Mother Earth wishes to help us transmute that which no longer serves us and recycle it back into loving energy for you to relish in. Make a snow angel and then lie quietly, lavishing in that bit of peace. You deserve it. It also creates more love and peace in the world through that simple act of just being.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they

“Winter solstice and the new year naturally bring us into a time of recharging and reassessing.”

y move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Theresa

When all else fails and you’re still feeling uninspired, try to take inventory of what you have and, of that, what can you bless and release. Organizing and cleaning out our space is a cathartic activity that moves us towards doing this on a personal level, too. Asking ourselves if our “things” continue to give us joy or whether we will use it in the next few months or years is a great guidepost. This is a skill I’m still working to perfect. We artists own every art supply ever invented. It’s amazing but also a bit overwhelming when it comes to storing all of it.

The same can be said about activities or relationships we are involved in. Do they add or take away from your energy? Tighten up that which we will now allow to stay within our personal space because that which then remains feeds our souls and makes us brighter and better. All else can be allowed to fall away as we bless it on its own journey. When we declutter all areas of our lives and find new order, it gives us some true breathing room to settle into.

One final suggestion is to go out on a limb and try something completely new and scary. Especially if it is something you’ve always wondered about or had secretly wanted to try. Or maybe a completely different vocation because your current work isn’t fulfilling or is only adding stress to your life. What have you got to lose? I love to try new art mediums that I haven’t felt comfortable with or am attracted to for some reason

I can’t quite pinpoint.

This year, I’d really like to try to do more portraiture work because it’s my Achilles heel. I always figure if I’m not good at something I clearly need to give it a bit more attention to see what it has to offer me. Plus, it certainly can’t hurt and will only improve all my other work. If I’m not happy in a circumstance, job, or relationship, I really like to ask for guidance from both my angels and from my therapist. Is it something I need to improve with my own attitude or misgivings? Or is it something I’m not at all aligned with anymore?

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So, what will you be doing to move yourself forward and back into creative flow? You deserve better than packing it all up and wallowing in your sorrows. There is a creative solution to working through your discontentment and stuck energy. You aren’t meant to sit in it. This challenge is here for your growth, and you have everything you need to move into a more loving space for your mental and physical wellbeing. Make 2024 Your Year. The year your pivoted away from self-sabotage and into a loving way of being. I’m so excited for you and your new journey of self-discovery as you move along to your true rhythm of life.

* Check out all Carla’s fun courses here. There are so many to choose from and a wonderful community of people that are supportive and kind. Plus, it’s for all levels of creativity. PS: Lynn Whipple’s classes are a fun place to start!

Lynn’s website: http://lynnwhipple. com/



“No matter when your culture’s New Year is on the calendar, it is a time for reflection and hope in the start of something new.”

No matter when your culture’s New Year is on the calendar, it is a time for reflection and hope in the start of something new. So often this turns into something demanding, rigorous, and short lived. What if we applied a more balanced approach for sustained resolutions?

While many folks in the USA think of yoga as just exercise, the postures are just one of yoga’s eight limbed approach. The first limb of yoga is the less known Yamas or ethics. There are five of them, here along with their English translations:

Ahimsa: Non-violence

Satya: Truthfulness

Asteya: Non-stealing

Bramacharya: Energy Moderation

Aparigraha: Non-grasping

While the Yamas are nonlinear, at yoga’s core, non-violence should always be held in the highest regard. If you are reading this article odds are you likely don’t intend to harm your another person, but what about the negative self-talk we impose on ourselves that we HAVE to be different instead of letting ourselves be enough? The thoughts that we are too fat, too thin, the wrong shape? If you find yourself creating a new restrictive diet each year that doesn’t nourish you, or is bound to fail – is that really health and wellness?

Much of it comes back to the yama of truthfulness. This is why often I recommend February resolutions – take January to reflect on what really matters to you. To paraphrase an Instagram

post from Gary Vaynerchuk, think about who you trying to impress. Is it the people who fill you up, or some made up societal norm? For me, when I realized much of the life I was creating was to stick it to ex-boyfriends, things changed. I was able to form a health and wellness routine that I liked, even enjoyed! So if you are prone to a less balanced approach of health and wellness, take a few different classes, visit a few gyms, cook and takeout some vegetarian and some meat dishes. Do some self-study on what resonates with you and how your body responds. If your body doesn’t respond well to the mediterranean diet, it’s okay! Don’t force yourself into it.

Apart from learning to love oneself a little bit more, a lot of what I see in my yoga therapy practice this time of year is a lack of energy moderation. Over exercise or overly repetitive exercise that causes injury. Or swapping out sleep for exercise. We all really only get this one body, this one earth walk. Be kind to yourself, your muscles, your joints. If you need to slow things down and pick up less weight initially to get your form correct in strength or cardio classes, take it. The same way a house needs a safe foundation, so does your movement practice. If you are exhausted, be easy on yourself those days – either take time to rest or if there’s something that fills up your spirit about moving that day, move gently.

Nongrasping can also be translated to nonattachment, and this time of year we need less attachment to the outcome. Hopefully if you do take

some time to reflect on what your true why is for building a healthy routine your longings will be satiated. But if the goal is to lose weight and you find yourself building muscle instead, are you going to spiral into a negative headspace? Punish yourself? Instead, be open to what arises. Maybe you start going to the gym and you don’t lose that extra weight but you might make new friends, hear new music. Try to be present to what is here, it truly is the journey not the destination.

Years ago I was at the gym on New Year’s Day in the weight circuit room. I was 21, super fit, and had super type A personality. The gym was closing at 1 PM. It was about 12:50 and in my head I HAD to get my three sets on the adductor machine in so I hopped on the machine to get my workout completed. Well I was so focused on checking it off my list that I didn’t notice the woman next to me who wanted it, which resulted in her yelling at me and also feeling so upset that I didn’t get MY perfect workout in. Remember, 80% is perfect – be willing to shift and adjust. Maybe one day’s run becomes a walk, or a meditation turns into a yoga practice or an apple turns into an orange or string cheese. Be flexible. That brings me to the last Yama, nonstealing. Enjoy the process. We often find ourselves stealing from the present moment for our future self or upset with our past self simply by letting our mind wander. What if you tuned into how good it felt to be outside in the cold, (or inside in the heat) in the moment? If your body is craving a stretch, why are you forcing it into a run?

“This is why often I recommend February resolutions – take January to reflect on what really matters to you.”

Does this feel like it just threw your new routine out of whack? Don’t let it, anything is a worthwhile experiment as long as the Yamas apply. Here are some good places to start:

• Build a morning routine

• Carve out time for rest and play

• Consult a physical therapist to check

in with any muscles or joints that bother you

• Reach out to a dietician who practices HAES (Health At Every Size)

• Seek out joyful movement

• Practice self-massage and body oiling (or book a professional one!)

Feel like you need more help than this

article to get back in balance? Visit to schedule a free phone consultation.



Welcome to 2024, a year for Opportunities and Open Doors. I talk to entrepreneurs every week, and I am always being asked about opportunities.

The right opportunities change lives.

What are your goals and dreams for 2024? Where do you want to go? What would you like to accomplish?

Allow yourself to dream. Unlock the power within and embrace new choices.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ~Woodrow

Reflect on what drives you. What defines you? Don’t allow your circumstances or your past to define you. How are you going to show up in life? We can achieve more in what we haven’t yet explored.

One of my favorite opportunities I am involved in is travel writing. I can explore and expand my horizons and I get to write about them, produce published articles, and show others how to do it too. My press trip to Outer Banks, NC, was a treasured adventure. Ocala, Florida, is my next travel writing retreat and press trip where I get to experience the World Equestrian Center. Their

refined quarters include a spa and restaurants in an upmarket hotel within an equestrian center, plus a pool. Pool and horses? Count me in.

I spent half a million dollars on personal development, events, coaching, referral networks, business ideas, and business opportunities.

I have some exciting opportunities, services, and programs that I want to share with you.

Do you want to understand how to overcome challenges in life? There is a LORI Factor for that. Do you want to understand how to create more opportunities? There is a LORI Factor for that.

Invest in opportunities where you invest in yourself and your business. If you invest in events, coaching, marketing, or book projects then we need to talk.

If I were to get presented with another co-author book opportunity, I look for certain things and if it didn’t include what I wanted, I would not join that opportunity or I would ask about adding that in.

The co-author book project I just launched was an amazing success. They delivered on all their promises. What a wonderful collaboration. I enjoy inviting others to join that project as well.

I created a process of how I look at opportunities now. I spent half a million dollars on personal

development, coaching, referral networks, business ideas, and business opportunities. I created an asset where I mapped out a list of opportunities where I gave my feedback and notes and outlined what was promised and delivered. Do you want access to it for free? Text me 585-371-8328.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on what I do, personal development, coaching, book projects, guarantees, strategies, and marketing, and different opportunities. I can give you my experience on that; the type of opportunities I’ve invested in and did they work or not, and how I rate them, what was promised and what was delivered, and which ones were valuable to my business.

I’m putting together a referral network of my favorite entrepreneurs for 2024! Want your business included? Also, I would love to see if you have opportunities that I can promote to my network. Who am I looking for? You quality if you have a high-ticket offer, do business with entrepreneurs, and have success stories.

I want to know your biggest need. Do you want to get on more podcasts, write a book, become a published author, get on more stages, get into media, get PR, get more clients and increase your revenue?

That is why I created The LORI Factor referral program. I have a service that brings you opportunities, referrals, and potential clients. I help entrepreneurs find good opportunities

“Evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. We have the ability to create wealth and enrich lives.”

I have a FREE gift for all of you. You’re going to get access to my process of how I find opportunities, what I look for and what are the red flags. Text me and I’ll send you the link so you can access the opportunities that I have been mapping out completely free so you can see how I find good opportunities.

I am constantly talking to entrepreneurs and I can’t do business with all of them, but they all have specific needs. If you have anything that could benefit entrepreneurs in some way, I want to talk with you. If you match what I’m looking for, I can promote your business and your opportunities.

There is a VIP option available. I have opportunities that I don’t share publicly (have a separate private list of opportunities) because they are very exclusive. They are limited and only a few people get to access them.

Evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. We have the ability to create wealth and enrich lives. Get Real Results with The LORI Factor. It’s as easy as ABC. Have conversations with people who will support you, encourage you, and equip you to Achieve, Believe, and Conceive the desires of your heart. You can dive deeper with The LORI Factor 90-day program if you need specific guidance

on what you want to accomplish and create.

What’s holding you back? Is it selfsabotage and self-doubt? Let me help you bust through your obstacles and get clarity and the courage to discover a part of yourself you didn’t realize was there. Start living life on your terms and have the courage to seize opportunities.

I never knew launching The LORI Factor would evolve and continue to expand like it is.

Let’s soar together in 2024 and beyond!



How many of you have ever struggled with perfectionism at some time during. your lifetime? Although it’s praiseworthy to high standards for our performance, it’s ultimately self-defeating to insist on pursuing consistently flawless outcomes. Regardless of how hard we try, perfection is not ever a truly attainable goal. Repeatedly trying to reach such an aspiration is a futile exercise, and one that proves to be hopelessly inefficient. It simply wastes our valuable, finite resources of time and energy. Furthermore, consistently trying to obtain perfection undoubtedly produces additional stress in our lives. Consequently, our ability to engage in creative, divergent forms of thinking is further diminished.

Given that perfectionism is so unrealistic, why do so many of us still insist on trying to obtain this goal? Several hypotheses have been proposed: 1). Cognitive distortions; 2). Parents or caregivers with unrealistically high expectations for our performance; 3). Desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment; and, 4). Equating our self-worth with our performance.

Procrastination is frequently linked to perfectionism. An individual may put off starting a project if he/she believes that they are incapable of executing it without any mistakes or flaws. After all, if you take zero action, none of your actions can be deemed less than perfect. Conversely, procrastination is sometimes actually linked to a fear of success. You may delay expending effort due to the strong belief that your success will inevitably lead to further expectations for your performance.

Not infrequently, perfectionistic behaviors begin as a response to trauma having been experienced in an individual’s life. Trauma, of course, involves a dramatic loss of control in one’s life. Perfectionism is an extreme form of attempting to exert control.

Women may be especially vulnerable to perfectionistic tendencies about their physical appearances. Our frequent scrolling through social media, along with engaging in ongoing teletherapy sessions, has heightened our awareness of our every flaw. Ironically enough, the very filters that are used enhance one’s appearance in social media profiles distort one’s actual appearance.

For example, an adolescent female who is raised in a home with a parent struggled with alcohol use disorder is exposed to repeated trauma. She may be highly vulnerable to developing an eating disorder, since it allows her to exert an extreme degree of control over what she places in her body, despite being unable to control what is happening in her family environment. This may be combined with perfectionistic tendencies, further cementing an eating disorder.

I like to label myself as a “recovering perfectionistic.” It has taken me more years than I care to admit, plus my own involvement with receiving therapy, to learn that very good is indeed, “good enough.” Taking a watercolor class, approximately thirty years ago, proved powerfully instructive. I quickly learned that perfection is the enemy of the good when working with this artistic medium. If you attempt to fix a minor error when painting in watercolor, you merely end up defacing the paper upon which you are painting. Therefore, good has to be “good enough.”

As my career as a clinical health psychologist has unfolded during the past two decades, I’ve happily learned that the world hasn’t stopped spinning because I’ve failed to submit less than perfect progress notes, psychological reports, or other forms of assessment. Of course, the increased demands of establishing a private practice forced me to have relatively less time for

the luxury of obsessing over how perfect my documentation might be on any given day. I soon learned that timeliness and efficiency were critical factors for my overall success as a practitioner.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be an effective therapeutic intervention for individuals who struggle with perfectionism. Essentially CBT is posited on the basis that our cognitive distortions are responsible for eliciting uncomfortable emotional states. By challenging our maladaptive thought patterns, we have the power to directly alter the moods that are triggered by our thoughts. Of course, this form of therapy doesn’t yield immediate results.

Most of us have acquired faulty thought patterns over periods of many years, even decades. Still, it is incredibly exciting to realize that engaging in CBT can yield results that are comparable to those achieved in individuals who take antidepressant medications.

The most recent research supports that individuals who struggle with perfectionism will greatly benefit from reception of CBT.

Psychotropic medication may also be necessary, if an individual who displays perfectionistic behaviors meets criteria for either an anxiety or depressive disorder. It is generally accepted that the gold standard of treatment is for an individual to receive medication, plus psychotherapy, given that this combination yields synergistic results to either treatment pursued independently.

Please remember, if are truggling with perfectionism, help is possible. Receiving psychotherapy can help you challenge unhealthy though lt patterns about needing to be flawless in order to be valuable.

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