How Darlene Got Her Groove – and Her Wellness – Back and BETTER

Photo of Darlene from Alexandria Wellness

Darlene has had quite a year; she has been through some of the top stressors an individual experiences. These experiences might have made any other person feel isolated, frustrated, and lost. Yet she’s “done the work” to prioritize herself, her wellness, and her happiness.

When I asked Darlene to share her successes and describe how she is gaining confidence after this past year, she quickly identified the top three things she’s learned. Normally, when I ask a member to share their story, it is typically met with trepidation – a bit of “why me?” and honest-to-goodness fear. With Darlene, it was an instant “Sure!”

As a concierge member in our community, something members can count on is confidentiality. We share a lot, we are vulnerable with each other, and we commit to holding everyone’s information in a vault. Brene Brown, the famous shame researcher, says of the “vault:”

“Vault: Learning how to keep confidences, to recognize what’s ours to share and what’s not. The challenge is to stop using gossip, common enemy intimacy, and oversharing as a way to hotwire connection.”

– Brene Brown

Darlene is excited to be a member of our early morning concierge small group program starting in September. She is eager to share what she’s taken away – and made a habit – from our one-on-one concierge work. She found the work we did on “belonging,” drawing largely from Brene Brown’s work “Braving the Wilderness,” as the most rewarding success of our work. As a highly successful executive helping to care for her elderly father, who lives in another state, she could have found her wellness “tank” empty. We can often find greater fulfillment from “fueling” ourselves first.

Often self-care is fraught with the notion of selfishness. Over time, Darlene began to recognize that “putting on our oxygen mask first” is essential. Additionally, to feel love from others, self-love is crucial. Put another way, self-love is not selfish.

Poem by Maya Angelou on glass in a garden

Darlene counts this Maya Angelou poem as an anchor to rely on as she forges her path for health, wellness, and life:

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

-Maya Angelou.

Darlene said, “Every time I read this, I inhale and exhale deeply because it calms me and reminds me that I’m where I need to be … for now.”

When we first started our work, we dove deep into the art and skill of listening. Listening can open up the doors of our wellness because it helps us connect with and listen to others, yet even more importantly, to ourselves and our true purpose. She said:

“Learning to listen well never ends. It means stopping and really listening… and closing off the voices in your head that are already answering and thinking of what you’re going to say before your companion finishes speaking.”

To say Darlene has always been the student who worked the hardest, sweated the most, and never missed a session is an understatement. When stress tolerance became her top strategy to reach the wellness she truly wanted, she knew her approach to exercise needed to change. When we reach midlife, our bodies are different, and how we exercise must also be different. A third lesson or takeaway for Darlene is:

“Working out does not have to be exhaustion every time. I have found the balance between cardio and strength to reduce stress and elevate endorphins and to raise my calming hormones… and go back to lesson one.”

Over time, Darlene’s professional and personal commitments left less and less time for her own self-care. For example, during one of our coaching sessions in April, Darlene mentioned that one of the things that gets in the way of her wellness is traveling to care for her dad. She said it is much easier to get in her wellness at home than it is at work or while she is caring for her father in Florida.

This is a typical story. We do well in one place, yet everything falls apart on the road, when family visits, etc. Instead, if we can count the “little things,” the little habits, then we get motivated to attach other habits, and then our list of wellness activities expands.

I “assigned” Darlene the fun task of creating a Venn diagram to highlight her wellness activities at home, at work, and in Florida. Believe it or not, as she developed her list, she realized that many of the small habits she has committed to at home CAN be part of her work life and Florida life too.

Darlene's small habits equal big results

When we think of health and wellness, we often believe the actions and behaviors need to be HUGE and long in duration. In our program, we boast of 5-minute flows while the tea is brewing and celebrate the tiny successes. Why? Because they add up!

Despite having a tremendously challenging year, Darlene found ways to prioritize herself, her wellness, and her happiness. As a dedicated member of the AW community, Darlene has learned to focus on small habits that improve her well-being each day. Darlene is an inspiration, and she continues to impress me with her commitment to her health and wellness.

We want to help you (and your team!) take charge of your health and wellness and make it FUN. Here are two ways you can get started today. If you’re interested in joining our Small Group Concierge program, email us at We have almost filled our 6am session and are quickly filling our lunchtime group. You’ll have a built-in community of others seeking holistic wellness!

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