Hi! I'm glad you've found your way to be well + balance! Here's a little bit of background about me: I am a certified and licensed occupational therapist (OTR/L) and a certified ergonomics assessment specialist (CEAS I). I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Human Performance and my Master of Arts of Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (fight on!), and I am currently pursuing my Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Boston University. My passion is promoting health and wellness by empowering individuals to create their own lifestyle balance while engaging in the occupations that are meaningful to them. Some of my most meaningful occupations are cooking, spending time outdoors, traveling, cheering on her favorite teams, watercolor painting, reading, and playing with my dog.
Interested in more? Read about my story and my mission below.
about the founder
from the beginning
I didn't have that one "dream" job growing up. Identifying a realistic career path was something I always struggled with because I had so many interests and ideas. First I wanted to be the next Amy G. of the San Francisco Giants, then I wanted to be a fashion designer for petites (because short girl problems). When I was 12 years old, I started my first entrepreneurial pursuit making and selling personalized luggage tags with a friend. That entrepreneurial spirit eventually led me to thinking of but never following through with other business ventures -- wearable devices to prevent you from losing your phone, dating apps based off astrology, and other ideas that someone else turned into reality.
Clearly I didn't have a real direction, and when it came to applying to colleges and selecting majors, I went with what I knew best at the time. I played competitive soccer from 8 years old until I was 18 years old, and that, combined with being clumsy and injury-prone landed me in physical therapy on a regular basis -- so naturally, I gravitated towards the idea of becoming a physical therapist. I pursued a Human Performance degree at the University of Southern California (USC) and loved everything about the major -- the science, the psychology, the connection to sports -- yet something was still missing. While I had always had an interest in health and wellness, there was a part of me that was craving creativity. I picked up a minor in Marketing to better understand human behavior while putting my creative capacities to use. My first internship turned full-time job out of college was in marketing/PR at an LA-based cosmetics company. It offered me that creative aspect, but I quickly started to feel out of touch with my passion that was health and wellness (not to mention I was also concerned with the fact that I wasn't putting the majority of my very expensive education in health sciences to use).
so now what?
Like many of you, I had no idea what occupational therapy (OT) was -- even after completing undergrad at USC, which at the time had the number one OT program. I had heard the name thrown around here and there, and the first time someone had suggested I look into it as a profession my first thought was, "I don't want to help people find jobs..." Obviously I hadn't done my research, but after realizing marketing alone wasn't for me, I took the time to really look into what OT was and I knew I had found my match. It was a perfect combination that optimized my personal interests and skills: integrating health and wellness through its focus on human behavior and function, while exercising creativity and using analytical, problem-solving skills. Within a month of hearing about OT, I was scrambling to complete four prerequisite classes, find three professionals to write me letters of recommendations, study for the GRE, shadow an OT wherever I could find the opportunity, and apply for the Master of Occupational Therapy program at USC so I would be able to matriculate in 8 months.
Spoiler alert: I got in and graduated with the unwavering support of friends and family.
my OT journey
The thing about OT is that the options are really limitless. You can work with essentially any individual -- of any age, any ability level, any setting, any health status...you get the point. To be honest, it was really overwhelming -- it's kind of like that famous jam study, where the more choices you have, the harder it is to make one. How do you possibly decide on an area of practice when there are so many to choose from? (Trust me, this is really a good problem to have, because this also means that if you ever want a change of pace, there is always a new setting to switch to!)
Luckily, I had my practice area interests figured out pretty quickly. Once I entered the world of OT, I started hearing about this thing called "Lifestyle Redesign®" and I was instantly intrigued. It was different than the traditional hands-on OT that you might typically envision if you are familiar with the profession. Lifestyle Redesign® was founded at USC and is an evidence-based treatment approach based off of the USC Well Elderly Study. In addition to reduced long-term healthcare costs, results of the study demonstrated improved wellbeing and quality of life for participants. The unique approach has now been adapted and designed to empower a wide range of individuals to thoroughly analyze and modify their lifestyles to help them promote their own health and prevent or better manage disease and disability. It is the foundation of lifestyle-based OT interventions and offers means for people to adopt healthier habits across all aspects of life.
I was immediately sold, and being at USC, I was set up to get the best of the best education in this particular treatment approach. While in the program, I took every class I possibly could that focused on Lifestyle Redesign® and was then fortunate enough to complete a clinical rotation at the USC Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice, home of Lifestyle Redesign®. I experienced first-hand how to educate and empower college students and individuals with various chronic conditions, covering topics such as eating routines, sleep hygiene, exercise routines, stress management, and time management, ultimately helping them discover and successfully integrate new health-promoting and sustainable habits and routines. These individuals were able to live full lives, despite chronic conditions, such as pain and headaches, or overwhelming stress.
While many of the clients I worked with were already living with chronic conditions, and while changes they implemented made a huge impact on their quality of life and function, I always wondered, "What if..." What if someone had educated them on ways to prevent chronic conditions before they had one? What if they had known about ways to modify their habits and routines earlier on? What if society as a whole promoted the importance of self-care to teens and young adults as they begin making their own lifestyle choices? Would so many people be suffering from chronic diseases? My educated guess:
This is what first inspired the creation of be well + balance, but what has ultimately driven my passion behind the website is my own personal journey to wellness -- one that is ongoing and far from perfect. It has taken years of struggling, not knowing how to effectively manage all aspects of my wellbeing, and reaching my breaking point to ultimately find my personal sense of balance. While I am human, and still live through ups and downs along the way, I have experienced tremendous personal growth by implementing new routines that support my physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. I hope to inspire you do the same.
be well + balance
My mission is to educate you on the benefits of lifestyle-based occupational therapy, to promote the practice of self-care, and to empower individuals with knowledge and resources to adopt healthy habits and routines into their own lifestyles. By doing so, my hope is that more people are able to live healthier, happier, and more meaningful lives, both now and for years to come.