BELONGING

Living Well: Our Neighbors on What Self-Care Really Means

By

Erika Riley

– VOL. 16

“Wellness” is having a bit of a moment. While we’ve always had fitness and diet culture feeding us new fads and trends, the idea of wellness is a bit more holistic these days. Consumers see it as nearly synonymous with health, yet encompassing so much more. As an industry, it’s estimated around $1.5 trillion

But being well means something different to everybody. For some, it’s attending a yoga class. For others, it’s escaping through travel. And others might get the same boost from a loud night of dancing that others find in a silent meditation retreat.

We spoke with neighbors from different Venn communities throughout the world to find out how they seek self-care, and where they like to go to tap into wellness in their neighborhoods. 

Because wellness is so individualized, neighbors shared different meanings behind the word. For Natalie Flaucher, a Kansas City neighbor who works at Beautycounter, an all-natural cosmetics company, the idea encompasses physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. 

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Natalie Flaucher, a KC Neighbor, works at Beautycounter, sharing all-natural cosmetics at Small Business Wednesday Meetups at the Arc.

“It takes effort every day to live an intentional life and it can be difficult to keep a constant state of well being,” she says. “I find wellness is crucial because by taking care of myself, recognizing my own needs, and maintaining good health, I can be the best version of myself for others.”

Similarly Moragen Ferrell, another KC neighbor, considers wellness to be an all-encompassing term. Before moving to KC last year, she suffered a staph infection that left her bedridden for months. Boxing was what helped her get out of bed, and six months later she was back in the ring, winning a national title. For her, healing her body, mind, and spirit all go hand-in-hand, and exercise is a vital way to accomplish that.

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Moragen Feller connects with KC neighbors, sharing her wellness and empowerment message,  at Small Business Wednesdays, too.

Moragen went on to found Champion Way of Life, an organization that allows her to teach boxing to vulnerable populations such as domestic violence victims and underprivileged youth. 

“Working with people who have been through traumatic experiences, you realize that we carry a lot in our body and carry a lot in our minds,” Moragen shares. “Wellness is really about being able to do the work at a pace that you can sustain for your lifetime.”

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Iman Benet is a DTLA Neighbor who challenges traditional defintions of wellness through cooking, storytelling, and communal meals.

In DTLA, Iman Benete, Venn neighbor, storyteller and chef, prefers the word “healing” over “wellness” and approaches her own healing with cooking, food, and togetherness. 

“I would say that both of those words represent this idea of being whole and nourished as much as possible. ‘Whole’ as in not being afraid of things that society may have told you are bad,” said Iman, explaining that those “bad things” may be a mental illness, eating disorder, or a hard time in life. “Because I’ve done that in my work, it opens me up to healing in a way that is all-inclusive. I get to own the harder stuff, as much as I own my light.”

Here are some of the spaces our Venn neighbors recommended for tuning into your own personal version of wellness:

The Kitchen

Cooking both alone and with others can be an act of love. Iman found that when she started practicing intuitive eating and listening to her body, she felt more whole and nourished. Cooking for herself and others is a way to share that nourishment. 

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In Kansas City, neighbors come together at the Arc for a communal dinner.

“What I love is bringing people together and sharing a meal that I’ve poured my love into and… seeing them just come to life through food,” Iman shares. 

Natalie of Kansas City agrees: “When I cook for myself and others, I fill my cup by doing acts of service, and by ensuring I have nourishing fuel for my body,” she says. 

The Gym

Moragen shares that she loves the gym in her Venn community. Not only does it have a punching bag, but it gives her an opportunity to see other people that live in her neighborhood. Additionally, she enjoys going to local boxing gyms to meet others who are involved in the sport. 

“I plan to open my own one day—but until then, there’s so much talent in these little neighborhood gyms,” she shares.

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Neighbors gather for a poolside yoga class in Kansas City. Practicing in community can up yofa’s restorative powers.

Because physical well-being plays into wellness, finding a physical activity you enjoy doing can make a big difference, and open you up to a community. For those who enjoy adventure, Natalie recommends the Kansas City rock climbing gym Sequence, or renting a bike from RideKCBike in the city and at the Lenexa City Market. Those looking for a more chill activity might enjoy Yoga Gallery in downtown Overland Park. 

“Find what speaks to you and makes you lay in bed at night,  breathe a deep satisfying breath as you close your eyes to rest, and then do more of that,” Natalie says. 

The Market

Visiting a farmer’s market is a great place to get some Vitamin D, interact with your community, and pick up some local food, too. 

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In LA, Iman recommends the Santa Monica farmers market for its seasonal produce.

“I love being able to talk with the farmer, being able to connect with the people who have grown the food that I’m now going to prepare,” Iman says. “It’s like this really beautiful relationship that we’ve cultivated.” 

Iman favors the Santa Monica farmer’s market, which often has more exotic and unusual ingredients than other markets. For quicker local runs, she prefers the markets in Downtown LA and Hollywood.

The Outdoors

Visiting a farmer’s market is a great place to get some Vitamin D, interact with your community, and pick up some local food, too. 

Many people find healing and nourishment through spending time outdoors. Public parks are a great way to connect with friends, get out in the sun, or spend time alone—all for free. Moragen recommends Memorial Park and Hyde Park in Kansas City.

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LA neighbors head to the canyon for a sunset concert. Nothing is better for the soul than music and good company in open air.

Hearing these recommendations from our neighbors is just another reminder that the place wellness starts is, ultimately, in the everyday. It can be as simple as a bite at your favorite restaurant, or enjoying your coffee ritual while giving yourself a rest from the screen. 

“And perhaps most importantly, being mindful to see the joy in small things,” reminds neighbor Natalie. “Like the smell of wildflowers, lighting incense before stepping into the shower, the first few sips of your morning coffee, or the kind compliment from a stranger.” 

Do you have a special place or habit that inspires wellness in your life? Connect with a Neighborhood Manager to see if it’s something that we can help you share, whether in the Marketplace on the Life at Venn app, or through an event you can host for your neighbors.