About a month after I met Andrew he shared with me that he always thought he would meet his person when she sat at his bar and ordered an oat milk latte.
I belly laughed at this because he did indeed meet his person when she sat at his bar on a Saturday afternoon and ordered a drink – but it was not an oat milk latte. It was a bloody mary.
This person proceeded to convince Andrew to swap out his health-centered Saturday night plans of foam rolling with mezcal margaritas and bask in the undeniable magic of the East Village on a warm September night.
And that person was me.
I owe y’all a much bigger explanation to my current life status (as this was my last update), but for now, meet my love, Andrew Atwell. Wellness is something he embodies as effortlessly as breathing. Our first night together exemplifies this as his definition of wellness is “letting the quiet whisper within us point us towards the next best thing we should do for ourselves.”
And the next best thing for him to do that September night was obviously drink mezcal margaritas with yours truly.
If you know me, you know I CRINGE at anything “wellness.” But Andrew’s gentle, grounded, and refreshing approach to wellness (and his thoughts on how it’s been corrupted), has got me not just softening, but leaning into the lightness that comes with feeling well (and finally sleeping properly).
I owe y’all an even bigger (and funnier) explanation about how I ended up with a Holistic-Lifestyle Health Coach and Yoga Teacher who is known to wake up at 5am to meditate, while I’m known to be out till 2am living by the life motto “I’m not here for a long time, just a good time,” but for now, enjoy Andrew’s thoughts on all things wellness.
(And I promise you this, I might be enjoying early morning coffee walks for the first time in my life but you will NEVER see me drinking an oat milk latte. You can pry my bodega, black coffee from my cold, dead hands.)
How do you define wellness?
Wellness is our personal journey, a journey moving us further from fear and closer to love! A journey in which we must first wake up, and only then, begin to slowly walk home, home to our “true-selves.” When we’ve finally made contact with that true-self, our inner-knowing, we now have the opportunity to proactively move out into the world from a centered, whole, and generative place.
The journey towards wellness today is challenging and complex, with so many conflicting voices and inputs telling us what we ought to look like or do, but real wellness is simple, it’s asking ourselves, if I really loved myself, then I would… And then doing that next, most necessary thing.
Two years into the “forced-pause” that the Covid crisis has allowed, I believe one of the most important questions we should be asking ourselves, individually and collectively, is how we ought to define wellness. Who’s really living well, and who just looks damn sexy, but is perhaps unwell? The world around wellness has been muddied by the powers that drive our adolescent worshiping culture, into “doing workouts we hate, for bodies we still can’t quite love.” But “in the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” (thank you, Charles Einstein for those words) I hope we evolve to an approach towards wellness that is more specifically dialed in to the individual, and defined by the individual.
This evolved approach allows us the time to go inward instead of to the mirror or the magazine, letting the quiet whisper within point us towards the next thing we should do for ourselves, and thus, our wellness.
What do you do daily for your wellness?
I’ve been described as an Olympic-level self-care practitioner, so my daily wellness regime is extensive. I borrowed the idea of tweaking Maslow’s hierarchy-of-needs-pyramid from a mentor of mine, and at the base of it are my daily practices/rituals/wellness routines that are pretty much non-negotiable, 6 days a week.*
I start almost everyday with a brief, seated 5 to 15 minute meditation, as a quick temperature check, trying to gauge how active my mind is in the morning, how much fear or anxiety is unconsciously rumbling around and seeing if I can get a sense of the whisper, “the next and most necessary thing” my soul is asking me to do today. The brief ritual and subtle framing of stillness and connecting to my knowing to begin a day has proven powerful.
Next, I start drinking coffee, sort of aggressively, which doesn’t sound very much like wellness to some, but I have a mind/body that metabolizes caffeine pretty well and a hard caffeine curfew at noon to protect a nights sleep, so here I use it intentionally as a nootropic, for improved focus, as I start to read and study for the next hour. Topics are almost always something that I’m currently using in my work- mind/body/wellness material, healing trauma, & depth psychology are some current topics of interest.
I then pull out a notebook and stream-of-consciousness journal. Whatever is alive in me at the moment, especially if I locate fear, I start letting it loose on the page- with the rough framework of telling the truth, starting with myself.
Then it’s obviously time to move the meatsuit. It often looks like a sunrise run, but sometimes it’s a heated yoga class or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If I wake up and my body is too fatigued for a hard workout, I’ll prioritize a walk and some time barefoot with light movement on a grassy section of the city. If I begin a day with movement, it’s a win!
Lastly, (and this is ideally a daily thing, but living in NYC I’m required to think outside the box), is to spend some time in semi-wild nature. This might simply be taking a conscious breath and saying something kind to one of my potted plants, but more ideally it would consist of some time on the Hudson River, barefoot on the grass, viewing a horizon or in Central Park on the bridle paths, trying to spot some wildlife and enjoying being amongst the trees.
*These practices hold true until I fall in love, then everything is negotiable and I’m prone to eat waaaaaay too many chocolate croissants, just ask Veronica.
What do you do weekly for your wellness?
Once a week, usually on a Sunday, I will prioritize a tech-free/work-free day, a Sabbath of sorts. Ideally the day is spent outside, in nature, sometimes alone, but preferably with my baby. It might start with a treat of chocolate croissants and lots of good coffee, include a walk or hike out into wild or semi-wild nature, and be capped off with some hazy IPAs as the sun goes down at one of our favorite beer bars, relaxing into the community vibes of a good bar.
The intention set in the morning is to practice the power-of-presence with the woman I love, and invite myself to be awed by nature and the immense beauty “of miraculously being a part of something, rather than nothing.” (Shoutout to the man with the all the right words, David Whyte)
Back in the city and immersed in culture, I find respite in the treats of talented bakers, exceptional craft-beer makers, real voices, laughter, and a most-beautiful soul to share it with. It’s the weekly ritual that I don’t always get to practice- but when I do, my life is so much better!
What do you monthly for your wellness?
Once a month, it’s important for me to try something new in the wellness space. That may look like taking a yoga class at a studio I’ve never tried, visiting a spa and softening into self-care of a different sort, or exploring more esoteric modalities like acupuncture, sensory deprivation tanks, and sound healing.
It is a way of trying to stay open to what is trending, placing myself in the hands of some of the most talented “healers” available, and challenging myself to keep an open mind with regards to how complex our overall health is, and how many useful tools we are fortunate enough to have available.
Another major facet of my overall monthly wellness is prioritizing time for psychoanalytic-counseling with my therapist whom I’ve been seeing for several years now. Placing myself inside this container, attempting to relax my ego and trying to tell the truth, has allowed for many a blind-spot to be spoken into, and for, in many ways, profound healing.
What do you do yearly for your wellness?
Once a year, I have to get away from “culture” and go somewhere solo, where it’s just me with me. The solitude acting as a palate cleanser, an active attempt to cease my pathological people-pleasing, my incessant self-forgetting, and my infinite appetite for distraction. It’s time to just be, be with all the different parts of me.
Places like Baja, Iceland, small beach towns in Costa Rica, and the Catskills are places where I experience the land as imbued with a certain power, and I can count on wild-nature “cracking me open” a bit, a sharp pattern-interrupt from my over-socialized city living.
The only real intention I set is to get still, relax into wild-nature as I get in-formation, and realign with what I believe is my ecological niche (my soul/purpose/dharma), and then return to NYC living more truly from that center. The trips are always different, but one thing is consistent, a healthier human returns than the one who left…
What is the ONE thing you wish everyone would do for themselves?
The one thing I would love to encourage people to begin with is a walk, without the phone, and ideally in or near nature with the ability to view a horizon. I know, it’s not sexy. But you know what is sexy, being well, and you can walk yourself to well!
This intentional time of light movement, connecting to breath, and time in nature allows for a comedown from the grinding that our culture so very much affirms.
A walk out into nature, connecting to our body and our breath will automatically begin to draw you a bit closer to your knowing, to the whisper.
But if I’m allowed two things, also SLEEP. Sleep is the foundation upon which the legs of the “table of wellness” rest. If you don’t have sleep, well then you simply won’t have this wellness you yearn for.
Walk your way to wellness, save yourself with sleep, connect IRL each day with someone you love, relax into a hug, and move along the continuum towards optimal wellness.
Andrew is a Holistic-Lifestyle Health Coach, Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher, and nature enthusiast, who’s gentle approach will help you to tend to the garden of your inner-life, assist you in untying knots in your physical health, and walk alongside as you call forward your full radiance and vitality. He’ll help ya Get Well Soon!
As seen above, you can find Andrew at least once a week at Hydra Studios, a wellness hub for modern professionals, helping you restore what daily life takes out. Optimize your body, health and mind by reserving private suites for physical and mental wellness.