An Exploration of Love

Join me on a five-day exploration of love.
Be inspired by words, art and music to explore what love means to you and how you want it to manifest in your life.

Full Playlist: An Exploration of Love

Day 1 – Defining Love

Questions to contemplate
What does love mean to me?
What are the different types of love I experience or want to experience?
What does love feel like?
Who or what do I think of when I think of love?
What’s one word that describes love to me?

Quotes to explore
Love is like the wind, you can’t see it, but you can feel it.” — Nicholas Sparks

“If you do not know what you feel, then it is difficult to choose love.” — Bell Hooks

“We can only learn to love by loving.” — Iris Murdoch

“When I look at you, I can feel it. I look at you, and I’m home.” — Finding Nemo

“Love is a friendship set to music.” — Joseph Campbell

Songs to flow to in your exploration
1. What is Love? Haddaway
2. Is this Love? – Bob Marley & The Wailers
3. What is this Love – Blue Rodeo
4. Lovesong – Jessy J
5. Must be the Love (Enamour Remix) – ARTY, Nadia Ali, BT, Enamour
6. This is What Falling in Love Feels Like – JVKE
7. You can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
8. In the Name of Love – Saxity
9. What’s Love Got to Do with it – Kygo, Tina Turner
10. I want to Know What Love is – Foreigner
Playlist (song 1-10)

Mantra to meditate on: “I welcome and choose love”

Day 2 – Self Love

Questions to contemplate
Do I believe I am worthy of love?
In what ways do I show love for myself?
When was the last time I told myself “I love you”?
What do I love most about myself?
What are my top five personal values?

Quotes to explore
“Before life’s purpose comes self-love. You must love yourself before you can love your expression of self.”

“Self-love is the foundation of our loving practice. Without it, our other efforts to love fail. Giving ourselves love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional love we may have always longed to receive from someone else.” — Bell Hooks

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha

If you love yourself, you love others. If you hate yourself, you hate others. Because in relationships with others… the other is nothing but a mirror.”

Songs to flow to in your exploration
11. Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld
12. Good as Hell – Lizzo
13. If You Don’t Love Yourself – The Script
14. i – Kendrick Lamar
15. Self Love – Jayson Lyric, Nevaeh
16. Be Good to Yourself – Journey
17. Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley & The Wailers
18. Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) – Ne-Yo
19. Love Me More – Sam Smith
20. LOVE – Jhené Aiko
Playlist (song 11-20)

Mantra to meditate on: “I love myself, and every day I fall more in love with myself”

Day 3 – Receiving Love

Questions to contemplate
What does it mean to allow another person to truly love me?
How do I want to be loved?
Do I believe I am open to being loved? How do I know?
What is the most vulnerable way I let someone into my life?
What does being loved feel like for me?

Quotes to explore
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” — Maya Angelou

“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.” — Angelita Lim

“Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.” — Loretta Young

Songs to flow to in your exploration
21. Just the Way You are – Bruno Mars
22. Love Like This – Faith Evans
23. Let me Love You – DJ Snake, Justin Bieber
24. Own It – Stormzy, Burna Boy, Ed Sheeran
25. Do You – Troy Boi
26. Love Tonight – Shouse, David Guetta
27. Love Me Harder – Ariana Grande, The Weeknd
28. Learn Ya – 6LACK
29. Better Together – Jack Johnson
30. The Heart Asks Pleasure First – Michael Nyman
Playlist (song 21-30)

Mantra to meditate on: “I accept and receive more love, abundance and harmony into my life”

Day 4 – Giving Love

Questions to contemplate
How do I want to love?
What are my love languages?
How do I know when I love someone?
What do I want people to feel when they’re around me?
How has the way my family loved affected the way I give and receive love?

Quotes to explore
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music, a little more poetry, and a little more dance to it.” ― Osho

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Songs to flow to in your exploration
31. Be my Lover– La Bouche
32. My love – Justin Timberlake, T.I.
33. Somebody Loves You – Aly & Fila, Plumb, Paul Thomas
34. I Love You Always Forever– Donna Lewis
35. Only Want You – Rita Ora
36. LOVE – Kendrick Lamar, Zacari
37. I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
38. I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
39. That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson
40. No Man No Cry – Oliver Koletzki, Jimmy Sax
Playlist (song 31-40)

Mantra to meditate on: “Today my heart is open, and I am ready to love.”

Day 5 – Manifesting & Celebrating Love

Questions to contemplate
How do I create space for love?
Who do I love and what am I doing about it?
Are my actions guided by love or by fear?
What are three words that describe the aspirations I have for my love life?
What does healthy love look like to me?

Quotes to explore
Find love in each moment.”

“We are most alive when we are in love.” — John Updike

“There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved” – George Sand

“Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Franklin P. Jones

“Love does not dominate; it cultivates.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.” — Bil Keane

Songs to flow to in your exploration
41. Big Love– Louis the Child, EARTHGANG
42. All I Want – Tube & Berger, Goatchy
43. When Love Takes Over – Davida Guetta, Kelly Rowland
44. Where Have You Been – Rihanna
45. Lovesong – Snake River Conspiracy
46. Love Life – Desire
47. Realla – TOKiMONSTA, Anderson .Paak
48. Dance for Me Wallis – Abel Korzeniowski
49. Cosmic Love – Florence + the Machine
50. Love Mantra – Dossé-Via
Playlist (song 41-50)

Mantra to meditate on: “Every day and in every way, I attract more and more love into my life”

Resources for Elite Athletes Transitioning Careers

A year ago, I asked my network for recommendations on coaches specializing in elite athletes and transitions.

I had a few responses but nothing really hit what I was looking for and ended up going on an exploration to find the practices, tools and guidance I was seeking. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far (will update overtime):

Athlete Soul – an independent support solution for retiring athletes.
Their mission is to support athletes as they transition away from sports, raise awareness about the challenges of athletic retirement, and empower athletes to develop beyond sports.
They support athletes before, during and after their transition with educational resources, transition and career coaching, and networking opportunities.

My takeaways from HLTH 2022

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s HLTH event in Las Vegas on Nov. 13-16, 2022.

#hlth2022 was the first time I had experienced an event at this scale with attendees that included more than just traditional healthcare/biotech players and investors. Attendance also included tech, consumer-focused wellness, and at a smaller capacity – patients and non-profits.

I congratulate the HLTH team for creating an event that acknowledges how we approach health is changing and that the tools and systems necessary to allow everyone the opportunity to be healthy goes beyond what health insurance traditionally covers. I hope the conversations at HLTH lead to more common language and openness for alignment on the scientific rigour necessary for a consumer product to be taken seriously by traditional health players.

Connecting key health stakeholders from diverse backgrounds is a significant step in the right direction, redefining what is considered “healthcare” and who pays for what is needed. Although consumer and retail products have value, affordability is still an issue, especially if payers are not considering these offerings for reimbursement. Many valuable solutions may never reach those who need them most due to the inability to pay out of pocket.

Further, more efforts are required to help improve benefits communication, patient and caregiver education, benefits communication, and guidance around coordinating whole health care. As discussed during the Sexual Healing panel – language matters – we need to meet individuals where they are. Creating complicated reimbursement schemes or unclear patient pathways further deters the engagement of high-need but historically marginalized individuals.

Reimaging healthcare requires greater awareness and more conversations around the inequities and barriers to access that exist to being healthy. I was happy to hear many talks at HTLH discuss inclusion, health equity and social determinants of health (SDOH). However, I found that much of the heavy lifting and progress around these initiatives still comes from female and minority-led start-ups, non-profits and government. Big healthcare, life sciences and tech need to step up and better support efforts through partnerships, acquisitions, and funding versus building lacklustre duplicates or “check the box on DEI” solutions.

For start-ups and capital providers, HTLH also confirmed that a course correction in funding is occurring. Although many blame COVID for creating a funding ecosystem that led to waste and significantly overvalued start-ups, this trend was already apparent in mid-2019. COVID only added fuel to this unfortunate trend.

I stepped away from consulting with digital health start-ups at the end of 2019 due to my frustration of encountering many organizations that had raised significant funds but were not incentivized or interested in genuinely moving the needle in healthcare. Instead, many start-ups chose to take the consumer route to hit early funding milestones. At this time, I opted to join Veeva for 2 years, a rare example of a Healthtech start-up that raised minimal cash ($7M total) and reached $1 billion in yearly revenue within thirteen years of its inception.

Moving forward, I hope fundraising becomes more intentional and investors take the time to build relationships with entrepreneurs and organizations closely tied to the communities they claim to serve. Further, due diligence needs to focus on more than just financial returns. Considering clinical outcomes, societal impact and addressing unmet needs are also important.

I commend HLTH for providing a platform for many aspects of health, including nutrition, sleep, sexual, mental and dental health. I also appreciate the diverse representation of individuals involved and impacted by the health industry, including rural communities, providers, caregivers, incarcerated individuals and athletes.

Thank you, CoverMyMeds, for the fantastic beauty station, Carrot Fertility for their free headshots, and for Brightside Health (I believe) for providing a hammock for an epic mid-event nap.

Where I struggled at HTLH was how much of the focus of networking and connection was around the consumption of alcohol and unhealthy food. I appreciate that there was a group exercise option offered early on Monday and Tuesday morning and some “wellness” features throughout the event. I would love to see more activities, happy hours and networking opportunities beyond drinks and mingling. I am happy to connect with any organizations interested in exploring this (check out Eat Move Meditate for inspiration).

Thank you, Jerrica Kirkley from PlumeScaleHealthRedesign HealthSamsung NextKomodo Health, and Paytient, for your hospitality and for creating space for intentional connection. Thank you to Matthew Holt, Melissa Faukner and the UCSF Health Hub Digital Health Awards team for helping me with my ticket.

I am grateful for the many insightful conversations with incredibly thoughtful and inspiring individuals throughout my time at HLTH.

Here’s to creating an abundance of intentional partnerships and collaborations in 2023 that allow for improved quality of life for all individuals and decrease the burden and cost of illness on society.

The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what “planets are squaring your moon.”
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to “hide it” or “fade it” or “fix it.”

I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to “be realistic” to “remember the limitations of being human.”

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Play the Role

If you want to be loved,
Darling, just play the role.

Remember, I decide your value.
You are only here for how I need you, nothing else.
Your comfort… not my concern, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

How naïve are you?
Oh perfect… you don’t listen to your boundaries.
Use and abuse?
Of course you won’t pushback.

You keep telling me you want to be loved,
But then you push back and tell me I’m doing it wrong.
Don’t you get how this works.
You don’t get a say in how you want to be loved.
Your pleasure isn’t my concerned.

Now you want to hold power and be in control.
I’ll make you pay.
I’ll use those feelings, that care, compassion, and empathy to destroy you.

Did you forget?
My feelings are your responsibility.
Your job is to take care of me first.
How dare you push back and think yourself worth is even close to mine

How dare you make me uncomfortable.

You do not get to be the comfortable one.
Show me how much you actually love me.
How dare you enjoy anything that diminishes me.
You will be punished if this makes me look bad.

How dare you enjoy something at my expense.
How dare you challenge me. You are not equal.
Take it, take all the abuse, more, you deserve it.

I’m so sorry.
You should have just listened.
You don’t know better.
You’ll do better next time.

If you want to be loved,
Darling, just play the role.

Maybe this time it will be different

The harder he pushes, the worse he fucks.
That aggression, so relentless,
Yet that thrust, so limited, so underwhelming.
The talk, the insistence, the pressure,
I give in, my brain convinces me it’s just easier this way.

All for….
Disappointment, emptiness, sadness.
One minute of ecstasy?
Was that what that was supposed to be?
Unclear, as I left my body the moment my brain gave in.

I lay there now, tossed aside.
Needs unmet,
Needs not communicated, not heard.
Angry at myself.

I let it happen again.
I did not respect my boundaries.
This weakness, to fall back into behaviours that don’t serve me.
For what?
To believe that this is my only value.

I know better,
I deserve better,
Yet I struggle to believe that this is not my only worth.

What Did it Take?

What did it take for you to finally stop and smell the flowers? 
To take the time to really taste a meal prepared with love, 
To gaze with wonder at the stars. 

To put your phone phone away and be present?
To let go of insecurities and assumptions. 

To remove ego. 
To be vulnerable.
To let go.

To feel
To really feel how you actually feel.
To listen to your body.

To hear what the universe was trying to tell you.

What did it take? 

When did it hurt enough?