Meet Corene Summers - Health & Wellness Expert

Corene hiking the Annapurna Mountains

Corene hiking the Annapurna Mountains

Meet Corene Summers - Health & Wellness Expert

An interview by Nichole Devolites

I’ve always been in awe by the women I surround myself with. They are beautiful, strong, intelligent, and don’t give a second thought to forging their own paths.

I met Corene nearly ten years ago when she was still living in Washington, D.C. and working for a wealth management firm. She’s always been confident, insanely smart, and super down-to-earth. So when she traveled to far away lands and also moved across the country, it was a huge loss for all of us, though a huge win for her, because she realized her true calling, and is now living her best life.

Below is my interview with her, and I hope it leaves you as inspired as it has left me.

ND: You’re definitely a busy lady these days. Since leaving the wealth management world, you’ve taken on some incredible endeavors. What are your main areas of focus?

CS: I’ve definitely taken on a few things! I’m an Entrepreneur, Meditation Instructor, Wellness Coach, Reiki Practitioner, and Yoga Teacher.

ND: You’ve also moved around a bit, too, which works well with your lifestyle!

CS: I am a bit of a gypsy, and that’s by choice. I grew up in Chesapeake, Maryland, and later moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But as an adult, I have lived in Arlington, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, and now Chicago, Illinois, in that order. The biggest question remains: where to next?

ND: I, too, can understand a bit about the gypsy lifestyle, as I moved around a lot, too! There’s something so freeing about experiencing different cities, as they are all so unique! So, tell me more about your transition into the Health and Wellness industry. How did you get into Wealth Management and what was the pivotal point that made you decide this wasn’t for you long-term?

CS: It has been such a fun ride! Before my career in the Health and Wellness industry, I spent a decade in Wealth Management working for large financial services companies, and at first, it’s all I thought I’d ever do. My father owned his own Financial Planning firm in Pittsburgh, and from the age of 12, I’d help him in his office, knowing that one day, I’d forge my own path in that same industry, and I did! I went onto excel at a variety of sales and leadership positions, across the U.S., but in 2011, during my four-month solo backpacking trip to Nepal, Tibet, and India, that all changed. I felt a pull towards becoming a coach and a teacher, immediately immersing myself in learning about yoga, meditation, nutrition, Ayurveda (India’s holistic healing system), Reiki, and other healing modalities I discovered throughout my travels. The more I learned, the more passionate I became about wanting to spread this knowledge and teach these tools for managing stress and improving overall wellness.  When I returned from my trip, I continued to train and complete certifications in yoga, meditation, Reiki, and corporate wellness and nutrition.  This eventually led to me shifting to a part-time finance career to focus on the continual growth on my wellness business.

ND: So when did you finally shift to a full-time career in health and wellness, and how did it feel to make that shift?

CS: In 2016, I went full-time when I launched Artisan Farmacy - a wellness coaching and educational program business, designed to help busy and stressed professionals find more balance and peace in all areas of their lives.  It was a long process that required a lot of intense dedication of both time and energy, as well as sacrifices.  Was it worth it?  Yes, absolutely.  It was also a huge risk and a leap of faith to leave the stability of a high-paying career to do something I truly believe in and am passionate about, to be an Entrepreneur.  The path has been full of challenges along the way, as life goes, but it has been immensely rewarding and healing for my soul.  And now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else in life.

ND: I know how hard it is to go out on your own, and the mental toughness it takes to overcome the hurdles you’ll undoubtedly face in the process. But, once you’ve mastered the tough stuff, you’re right, it’s incredibly rewarding! Tell me more about your services and why you chose those to offer those.

CS: I chose to focus on meditation, Reiki, and my holistic wellness coaching program because I find them to be the more mindful, calming, and brain-focused. Whether we know it or not, we need to find that internal balance amidst the craziness and over-stimulation of the modern world we live in, and exercise, alone, doesn’t cut it. Believe it or not, about 99% of people seek exercise as a way to calm down and find release from their stress and worries, because they love the exhaustion produced by the over-exertion. These days, given how glued we are to technology, exercise isn’t enough to distract us away from that, which means we aren’t practicing as much mindfulness as we used to. Think about it - how often are you on your phone on a treadmill, or are texting in the middle of a weight-lifting set? You’re still attached to that device that is causing you more stress than you need, which can somewhat defeat the purpose of your workout, if you’re there to destress. The reality is, we’ve been conditioned to immediately react to everything that comes our way, regardless of how “urgent” the request actually is, which involuntarily abuses our emergency response system of fight or flight. That subsequent release of cortisol and adrenaline causes us to experience “crisis mode” far more than we should, causing us far more stress than we were meant to handle.

So, I decided that I wanted to teach people how to be mindful, how to relax and improve their sleep, and how to improve their focus and concentration through the tools and knowledge I’ve gained and put into practice for myself. You can learn more about my services on my website, Artisan Farmacy.

ND: All of that is so true! I make it a point to NOT bring any devices with me, other than my iWatch to track my workouts, because it’s my time to focus on ME. But, I’ve also learned I take on secondary stress from those who do bring their phones with them, sit on the machines longer, and take up valuable time in the process.

Tell me more about your travels and the inspiration you gained while on them.

CS: It’s fascinating when you can look back at certain moments in your life and recognize them as a catalyst to great change. As I mentioned, in 2011-2012, I spent several freeing months on a solo backpacking trip to South Asia, which turned out to be an unbelievably pivotal point in my life. If I close my eyes I can clearly recall each adventure vividly. I volunteered at an orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal for six weeks, and wanted to take every child home with me.

Corene visiting the orphanage in Nepal

Corene visiting the orphanage in Nepal

I also traveled to little villages there and befriended locals, went paragliding in Pokhara over Phewa Lake wearing a “Free Tibet” helmet, practiced yoga on rooftops, participated in the beautiful sacred traditions of a local wedding, as well as that of the birth of a new baby. I hiked the Annapurna mountain ranges while learning about yoga, meditation and stories from the Upanishads; shared an American Thanksgiving celebration with new friends from all around the world while in Kathmandu; rode buses with goats and chickens; spent ten days exploring the stunning ancient world of Tibet; gazed at the awe-inspiring Mount Everest; visited and meditated in countless temples and monasteries; went swimming with sea turtles off the beaches of Sri Lanka; and rode motor bikes through busy streets and wide open spaces while exploring India, I also took Ayurvedic cooking classes from a local, and dedicated ten whole days to complete silence while staying at a small, quiet Ashram in Rishikesh on the bank of the Ganges. There were incredible moments through the simple things like feeding a cow a pomegranate; and also through mentally and physically tough ones like white water rafting with strangers. The point is, I stayed lost, wandered through the striking chaos and beauty of it all, while immensely enjoying every moment of it. I lived a lifetime in those months, soaking up every vision, color, flavor, and palpable second with great awe and excitement.

Feeding a Cow a Pomegranate

Feeding a Cow a Pomegranate

ND: And now I’m ready to take four months off and do the same thing. This sounds so life-changing, and so surreal. Tell me about a particular experience on this trip that was almost soul-defining.

CS: One experience that vividly stands out was my visit to Agra. I had only wanted to spend 24 hours there, so I could quickly check Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri off my list, and then scamper off to see something remote before meeting friends in Udaipur for a week.  It was winter, and I had already been traveling for a couple months, so was starting to feel worn.  Unfortunately, I came down with a terrible cold and fever the day before I was supposed head to Agra, but I decided to go anyway, and braved my way to the train station.   When I arrived at the guest house, this tiny old man greeted me at the door and gave me a big, smiling hug.  He took my shoulders in his hands as he looked me in the face and said “Hmm. You are not well.”  No, I was not, “but I would be just fine”, I remember saying. He quickly rushed me inside to the kitchen, where we sat on cushions scattered on the floor.  I watched with growing curiosity as he cooked three or four whole garlic cloves over an open fire, along with some ghee.  To my surprise, he scooped them directly out of the pan and into my hands to eat, and then handed me a cup of tea made of fresh cut ginger, honey, turmeric, and lemon.  He told me to drink-up and go to bed, and I would feel better in the morning.

Though not fully recovered, my fever broke, leaving me energized and well enough to wander and explore Agra before continuing my travels.  That moment permanently shifted my ideas about how everything we put into our bodies, along with other body-destroying habits, could be used to support overall well-being and maintain good health.

ND: That’s an incredible moment! So, after all of this travel, and after all of the hard work you’ve put into pivoting your career, what are some of the biggest drawbacks you’ve faced, and overcome, in this industry?

CS: First, I do want to say that the positives significantly outweigh any negatives. And, I think the drawbacks are probably comparable to those of entrepreneurs across all industries - you’re always hustling, it’s unpredictable work and income, you have to learn how to motivate yourself every day, there’s nobody around to bounce ideas off of, and it can hard to step away from it when you may desperately need self-care time. And yet, some of those very same things are also the plusses to being an entrepreneur. You figure out how to make it work for you. 

One recurring struggle, for me, has been navigating competition and protecting my content. It’s a ruthless world out there, and I think I went into this expecting a little more from the wellness and yoga community as a whole, because everyone is supposed to be all zen and shit. I’m unquestioning and open with people until I have a reason not to be, which has occasionally been to my detriment. I have definitely been given some good reasons not to, and have learned some tough lessons. It’s important to know that I fail at stuff all the time! But, I am always determined to stay resilient, and stay true to being kind in my response or in any action I take. This includes being kind to myself too.

ND: You know, I always had much of the same assumption about that community and the innate desire to help each other, given the nature of the work. But, I also know this industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds, so I can see how the competition has turned fierce. So how do you work through it?

CS: There is never an easy, one-size fits all answer. I handle each challenge as it comes, tackling one thing at a time. I do what I can, every day, and let that be enough. I use the tools I’ve learned, through the course of my studies, to release my stress in healthy ways - I breathe, I meditate, I flow, I pray. I then face the challenge head-on and decide how best to navigate the situation from a place of love, rather than fear, for the best possible resolution for those involved. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt.  I’m learning when to stand up for myself, and when to walk away to preserve my own energy health by not resisting. It’s a daily balance.

ND: What are the top three pieces of advice you’d give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in this industry, or any career that shifts them into entrepreneurship?

CS: First, BE YOU. There is no other you out there, and you are beautiful and amazing just the way you are. Start a private vision board on Pinterest that represents the way you want to be in your business – how you want to conduct yourself, what you are/should be known for, who your ideal client is, the branding and colors that reflect you, where you travel, how you dress, where you live, etc…. and look at it every day. As crazy as it sounds, it will start to become seamless with who you are. You will behave accordingly, write your content accordingly, dress on-brand, etc., and you WILL attract your ideal clients!

Second, don’t worry too much about social media. It is a moving carrot, and takes real, honest, consistent engagement to build, which takes a lot of time - patience is key! If you come from a place of caring for others, you will succeed in connecting with the right people. 

Third, remember to HAVE FUN! I forget this sometimes, and have to come back to it again and again. For me, my passion and all of the things I used to do for fun became my business and day-to-day grind, so I had to re-learn how to have fun in other areas of my life, and find new hobbies outside of it. It’s a great way to explore and discover new parts of yourself!

ND: Yeah, I need to take this advice as well. So, I like to end interviews with a rapid round of fun questions. First, what is your favorite country you’ve traveled to?

CS: A ridiculously difficult decision! India FTW! It really stole my heart, and launched my path towards becoming a teacher and coach.

ND: What are some recommended books every woman should read?

CS: I’m terribly boring, as I only read wellness and personal growth-related books, except for White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Can I request recommendations instead - hah! If I must, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Thought Power by Swami Sivananda, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

ND: What is your favorite thing to do when you have some free time?

CS: Ideally, travel, and hang out with all the people I love! If I can’t see them face to face, my next go-to is WhatsApp video, as well as chatting on the phone. On the weekends, I can almost always be found brunching or reading at a coffee shop with friends and/or my incredible wife!

ND: If there was one thing, anything, you could do with your life, what would it be?

CS: Lucky for me, I’m already doing it! I guess it must be time to start dreaming bigger again!

You can read the original article on Nichole’s blog, the Inspiruption.