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Connecting with Ourselves to be Present & Find Purpose


Connecting with Ourselves to be Present & Find Purpose

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my wellness warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications. Through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who has helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy.

 Welcome to my wellness warriors podcast today. It’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Alan River.

 Alan is so many things. He’s a leader and he leads with purpose and passion. And has had a career that spanned a multitude of so many different areas of contributing in work as a CEO, certain corporate areas to now guiding people through purpose, presence, mindfulness. You’ve had a really colorful career, Alan.

Alan Riva: Yeah. It’s been, it’s been fun so far. That’s yeah, I feel sad and grateful life’s journey. And it’s kind of interesting how really underneath it all, underneath any, all the different aspects of, I guess what we call a career has been the practices that I was lucky enough to learn early on in life, which you mentioned, you know, help us become more present as people.

So, and I feel so kind of blessed that much of my work now is how I live. It is about just helping people become more connected.

Felicity Cohen: I’d like to talk a lot about presence and purpose, because there are two words that we do hear so much more, but I think they’re words that we can really actually understand a lot more about.

But before we go into what is presence, what is purpose and how do we get to achieve all of these things in our lives. You spent a lot of your life guiding in the Himalayas that must’ve been a fascinating time of your life. 

Alan Riva: It was beautiful. And it’s a kind of a place that I still have, still feels like home.

So obviously prior to COVID, and locked down, I would go back almost every year as well. When I was in my early twenties, I made a choice to sort of leave London and early career and follow my intuition. And I went out and I lived on the Indian side of the Himalayas for a couple of years and, you know, made amazing friends with people up in the mountains and then just spent a lot of time in remote community and deep in nature.

And I think that, I didn’t know at the time, cause I was just following my intuition, but it kind of became one of the greatest gifts that I gave myself. In that environment, it almost naturally happens that you begin to sort of strip off the layers that I had put on throughout my life, throughout my teenage years. Different identities, you see them for what they are, and you just recognise that maybe they don’t suit you best moving forwards.

And so, yeah, it was like, it was full of fun and at the same time, it just taught me so much. 

Felicity Cohen: So it’s obviously a part of the world that you gravitated to, not just that dream. And I feel like that’s often a bit of a boy dream to go and trek the Himalayas. I know my own brother did that before he got married.

He decided to just take off and do that one last Trek through the Himalayas. And it’s funny how you hear, you know, when people have that dream at something that they need to include in their whole, big, you know, agenda of travel. But for you, it obviously holds a very special place and to have remained there and have become a guide through the Himalayas.

What did that look like? And how much time did you actually end up spending there? 

Alan Riva: So, so yeah, it was. It kind of all started for me I think actually when, when I was very little and I was lucky enough to spend time in Beijing, China, when it was almost. It was just after the end of the cultural revolution.

 And there was almost no other foreigners that were there. It was through my grandfather who was working there. We didn’t just stay in Beijing. We got to travel around and we got to, I guess, my eyes were just opened. And as a young kid, I was so curious and inquisitive about this culture that had been closed for so long.

 And then from there, I was lucky enough, again, a little bit later to find myself in places like the far west of China up in the Xinjiang province. And then I traveled from there through the desert and onto the Tibetan plateau. And I was kind of, adopted, if that’s the right word by some friendly nomads. And I just traveled with them.

We had no language, and other than the universal language of a smile. But, yeah, they took me with them and dropped me off at a monastery. And again, I got to kind of just drop into that world. And it was really incredible experience for me because I got to see people who had lost so much. Because of course their country had been taken away from them. Many of them had lost family and friends and, you know, their land and so much. And really in comparison, I had such an easy upbringing and yet they seem so peaceful. And it fascinated me. And thankfully, one of the older monks they had a really good level of English much better than my Tibetan, obviously that was kind of one word or two words hello and stuff.

And, yeah, we got to chat and we would like walk each day and sit and meditate. And, he just, he guided me to the inner world is what you know is what it’s kind of known as. And that was just that when we create stillness and peace through being present internally, then no matter what’s going on in the outside world.

And of course right now in COVID, we’re at a point where in the last 18 months, two years, the outside world has been in greater kind of uncertainty and change, and potentially turmoil, if you use that word. Then it’s maybe been in most of our lifetimes. And so this kind of lesson that I was going to guide it into around creating this calm centeredness within, just was, it was kind of just so kind of enriching.

 It’s stayed with me. And when I left that trip eventually, it was like a piece of me obviously had been reborn almost in, in that region. And so I was always drawn back. So yeah, so then I went to ask the question around kind of what I was doing. I went back out like a few years later, as I mentioned, and I stayed there for kind of close to two years and then have, that’s when at the end of, that was when 9/11 happened.

 So as a guide and someone helping some great friends who have got tourism based, you know, companies within India, Nepal, and Tibet, it was super, super challenging because no one was traveling to that region or very, very few people. And so the opportunity came to then actually go out to Belize in central America.

And I had another incredible experience kind of living on this island, 14 miles by boat to the nearest human being and helped with a great friend, helped lead a team developing of local people, developing and building an eco resort for two years, which we then launched and was subsequently sold.

So, but I was always for me, and I loved that was beautiful and that, you know, I returned to Belize as well and see great friends and stuff. And, but yeah, the Himalayas sort of has, if it’s the right phrase, it holds a piece of my soul and my spirit. So, I’m always drawn back and yeah, just prior to lockdown, I was back in this incredible part of Nepal. It’s an old, independent kingdom called Mustang, which is where you get almost a taste for some of the most traditional elements of Tibetan Buddhism as well. It’s a high altitude desert, and it’s just beautiful. 

Felicity Cohen: So is this where your whole concept and learning or self-learning around presence really became apparent, understanding that that inner stillness is what really defines presence?

Alan Riva: Yeah, it was definitely a real catalyst for me. And then since then life, which is a great teacher for us when we allow it to be, and also just being, again, being really fortunate to spend time with and connect with lots of different people in different places. So in believes there were some incredible indigenous people and elders, and the same when I was in Mexico, who I’ve learned so much from.

 from tying in, in Kenya with the massage, and then most recently over here in this beautiful country that I’m now lucky enough to go home with, with the first ,nations culture, which I think it like, not think it holds so much for us. That could help on so many levels. But if we talk about kind of mental wellbeing, connection, and community, because obviously mental health and loneliness are two of the major things that have been identified as challenges for us in our world.

 Yeah, I guess the experience that I’ve had and the things that I’ve been lucky enough, and I’ve only walked a very few small steps with them, but to learn from indigenous cultures here, really, really are like it’s I would encourage anyone to, to open their eyes and just dip into it. Because all of these things, all of these cultures all come down to a couple of fundamentals and one of the meanings, the state of presence, because when we’re present, we are in our most deeply connected state. Which on an environmental level means that we are connected with mother earth or the planet or environment. And so therefore our relationship is not about taking from that becoming one of a cycle in relationships with others. When we are present we’re in our most deeply connected state where we listen better, we have more empathy.

We just were there to love and support, whether that’s at a workplace, which we might use different expressions from love, but, you know, to collaborate and cohesion and connect with people. And also with the people that we love most. And then also for presence for ourselves helps unlock this clarity where we’re not in this distracted, busy mindset the whole time.

And we can access clarity that helps us build a more fulfilling and enrich life. So. Yeah, the Himalaya’s was at that early stage was a big catalyst for me. And then it has been, it’s been so lovely to have continued just to stay open and learn. There’s an incredible concept in Buddhism, which is called the beginner’s mindset.

And, and that’s always just about being inquisitive and staying open and not allowing ego to get in the way of thinking, you know it all. 

Felicity Cohen: Were you able to take all those learnings from that period of time that you spent in the Himalayas into your role, you’ve had multiple roles as a CEO, in some award-winning, you know, companies within Australia. How did that help you actually perform at your highest potential performance level? 

Alan Riva: Yeah, it definitely, for me, it’s been, it’s kind of been critical to my journey, because when we’re present.

 Let’s just say, let’s just start at the kind of the usual place for business, which is, our ability to create results, whether that’s money or impact or a mix of the two. So when we’re present, we are in our most potent state at work because our mind is not split. It’s not somewhere else.

So you’re able to bring all of your energy, all of your focus, all of your experience and all of your understanding to this particular moment. So it might be the task, creating a solution, or co-creating a solution. It might be a conversation. It might be a meeting. It might be a presentation.

So, you know, absolutely for me, continuing to practice being present in a particularly unpleasant world sometimes, which is the business world, really helped in performance. It really helped me in just trying to, again, when sometimes the tide fields is going the other way to help try and support the amazing teams and people that were working in each organisation to build cultures that were more connected, more cohesive, more collaborative, and just cared for each other.

Cause often when you’ve got great people and you help them look after themselves, then most of the results follow. 

Felicity Cohen: Did you actually enjoy the time that you spent in the corporate world as a CEO? It sounds like it’s a complete antithesis to who I see as Alan River, in that kind of corporate environment. 

Alan Riva: Yeah, that’s a great question. I learned a lot and I’m grateful for my time. And it’s helped me learn that language, learn the language of the corporate world of this, you know, short-term shareholder model, these sorts of things, so that I can now go in and speak that language, but from a different place.

So I’m incredibly grateful for it. I’m not sure I’d say that I got a lot of deep joy out of it. I met some beautiful people. Like there’s so many benefits to it, but there’s definitely places I enjoy more.

Felicity Cohen: What are the things, some of the most significant challenges around the shifts that you’ve had to kind of transform your working life throughout the last 12 months into this online space?

What are some of the changes that you’ve noticed and how have you managed that whole shift? 

Alan Riva: That’s another great question. It’s a big one. I guess the changes I’ve observed and then how I’ve managed myself potentially, of course, one of the big things is with the series of lockdowns and every, you know, every state has had it differently. But with every lockdown, that connection has dropped out for people in terms of our ability to be able to physically connect, which is incredibly important as we all know for humans.

And so that’s brought with the challenges. Challenges on an individual level, from a mental health perspective, challenges at the organisational level around how you keep kind of motivating and supporting your teams to help move the organisation forwards. So that’s definitely been one big thing that I’ve observed.

 The other thing that I think is really important is that, Well, this is, this is not the result of COVID, but COVID has kind of been helped to be a magnifying glass for this is that, in the west, because we kind of a rational society in terms of our model and our culture. We’re reductionists.

So we try and simplify and reduce everything, which has some benefit in some areas. But like everything, life is best when it’s balanced. So you’re able to hold complexity and, you know, and simplicity at the same time. And one of the things that I’ve definitely seen is that, every individual is going through their own experience every day.

And it’s really important within, for example, the business. But that can be acknowledged and systems can start to evolve to support that. Now it’s very hard. If you’ve got an organisation that’s, you know, a hundred people or a thousand or 10,000 people to try and get down to the micro level of individuals, but there are like, there are ways of getting better at supporting and life is a journey.

It’s not trying to find the ultimate solution. It’s about walking the journey and every time. So I think. Recognising that everybody is going through shifts and changes every day, which is the rhythm of life, but COVID has sort of magnified that and the loss of connection. I think there’s, we could talk about this for hours, but they’re definitely two big things.

And then, so for me, how I’ve personally helped myself and, and sort of beautiful family and anyone else that, that, that I’m able to. Is to simply prioritise the, myself and the practices that helped me just stay in the most positive state, which is presence. I just, I mean, I just call them presence practices, but, and, and, and cause it’s very easy to when things are getting challenging and our mind is firing up and we’re getting negative thoughts to drop into negative habits.

And so it takes, it takes. You know, commitment and persistence and, and sometimes it’s great to have a support network around you, you know, like almost, accountability pals or whatever you want to call it. But the fundamental thing for me is being, not just keeping those in, but dialing them up and finding ways as the world changes to dial them up.

So I like you, I spend a lot of time on zoom, and you can be exhausted at the end of the day. I mean, zoom fatigue is a thing that’s been, you know, it’s something that’s kind of come out of, come out of COVID and so these things aren’t complex, that’s, what’s beautiful about, and they’re really, really simple.

So all I do in between each zoom is I closed down. I don’t take any distractions. I, my phone and I don’t have a smart watch if I had it, I’d take it off. and I just got. I just go outside and I, if I can take five or 10 minutes, I will, if I can take two minutes, I’ll do that. And I just breathe, bring myself back.

And I just do a very, very simple, slow, mindful walk. And that in between each. Enables me like the, the, the difference at the end of the day when I, when I wasn’t doing it. And when I did do it, when I really broke these practices down to bite size chunks, was, was night and day. 

Felicity Cohen: I think you really give new meaning to the whole understanding of the word presence.

So rather than all of a sudden, for me, my personal understanding and interpretation of this word being A little bit, maybe overused and rather into a certain degree, sometimes a little bit redundant. I feel like you, if you’re going to hold a whole new depth and with that throughout this whole period.

And my understanding is that COVID being a catalyst, you’ve developed a whole new program around presence called the 10 days of presence. Can you walk me through what the program actually looks like and what are the goals and intentions and what can people expect to actually achieve once they’ve engaged in the 10 days of presence, Alan? 

Alan Riva: Yeah, sure. Yeah, it really was the, I guess, seeing the change that was happening in lockdown, I really wanted to, to take what I’d been doing in a face-to-face level and see if it can, if I could help people, through this period.

And it’s been incredible, it’s been so lovely to see the uptake and hear all the feedback from people. the. The simple, I guess, goal or the simple dream is to help people is to help people move from, a state of kind of overthinking of being trapped and caught by our thoughts. and, and this story of busy-ness and always being on and constantly distracted by technology and other things.

So to help people move from these negative states or these less than optimal state. And become more present. And as I mentioned before, why? Because when we’re present, we’re in our most potent state for work, we’re in our most deeply connected state in our relationships. And it enables us to find clarity that helps us create and build an enriching and fulfilling life.

So that that’s really at the heart of it. And then the, the program itself, over 10 days just takes people through the simple process of what is presence. So that we have understanding. Cause when we have understanding, we can then start to build that into action in our lives. And so the action are each day.

There’s a very, very simple. Presence practice. And the reason that there’s it, they flow across the 10 days is is twofold. One is because, building presence is a little bit like, and I know, you know, this world so well is by building a healthier life, build, becoming more fit is we all have things that work for us.

And we’ll just have things that work for us in different life stages as well. And they change. So if I was trying to get. Then, then oily say someone’s trying to get fit. Then someone might like running and someone else might like swimming and someone else might, might like cycling or yoga. And the thing is, is finding what works best for you.

Because when we find what works best for us, it’s so much easier to keep in our lives. Otherwise we can have the best intention, but never do it. So, so each day is a different presence. Practice that again, focused on. I’m making it as simple and as easy to apply into our lives. So it takes two to three minutes each day.

And I haven’t met anybody in my journey yet from high-performing CEOs to athletes and all sorts of people [00:23:00] who can’t argue that a few minutes, each day to get to your most optimum state is not a good investment so that you liked fitness. You can find the ones that work best for you. You can apply them into your life.

In almost no time. Of course, the longer you do it, the greater the benefits, but in almost no time and they will get better or you will feel better. and so that’s the practices each day. And then also supporting those is to help deepen people’s ability to reflect and as a result grow self-awareness cause then we can, when we’re more aware of what our stuff or perceptions, behaviors, and habits.

And we were aware of them. They’re no longer invisible to us, so we can start to work on them and we can start to shift and move from perhaps perceptions and behaviors and habits that, that we developed in the past that no longer suit us best anymore. So really that’s, it is that it’s, it’s a series of very simple but powerful transformative practices with a reflection or a short video that helps you deepen awareness.

And over 10 days, the reason for 10 days. Purely because I’m just like getting fit. if I hadn’t exercise for three years and I’d been sitting on the couch and I got up and went for a run, I wouldn’t be fit the next day. And so the 10 days helps you start to establish a small part of a habit in a behavior.

Felicity Cohen: And I guess over 10 days people are already starting to experience some form of change that they can, that they can feel that they can sense that they can articulate. So it’s almost like an opportunity to create that impetus for change that they can then continue. 

Alan Riva: That’s it? Yeah, absolutely.

Cause when we start to experience the benefits, then of course it’s easier to continue as well. And what’s also been lovely that, people have started doing it in teams like friends or they’ve started or had companies buy it for their employees and embed that into kind of growing a greater kind of supporting wellness culture around around the organisation so that they can talk about it and share.

Cause the reflections obviously helped bring stuff up. so yeah, it’s been so lovely that, absolutely. When we start to feel the benefits where we tend to continue with things or there’s a better chance. And then also it’s been so lovely that people have started to connect with people they love or work with and share the experience themselves, which helps keep us on, on the track .

Felicity Cohen: I love that. And I actually love the terminology around wellness culture. Building a wellness culture is so fabulously valuable. So the idea of kind of incorporating this into a workspace and driving that positive outcome. I just think it’s spectacular. So congratulations on designing this new program.

I’m actually excited to take a look at it myself. So thank you for the explanation. The other, I guess, significant, word, terminology or something that you actually aspire to and empower others to achieve is their sense of purpose. and it is also another word that we hear a lot more about. what do you think is the most significant thing about how do we drive our own purpose every day?

Alan Riva: yeah, that’s another big topic. but a fun one. So, there’s some of my, my, my work is kind of split between organisational purpose. So that’s not for profits and NGOs and social enterprises through to corporates, and then personal or, team-based purpose as well. But, so what tends to happen is that if I touch on the organisational purpose first . The purpose is simply the reason why they exist.

It’s not to make money. It’s, it’s, it’s actually deeper than that. It’s not at a transactional level. It’s not the operational level it’s like we exist to , that when you, when you build a shared purpose within an organisation, it’s the, the level of, of commitment and motivation and connection significantly increases. So all the research shows that employee engagement grows that you check you attract talent. and also what’s been beautiful to see, certainly, and I’ve been working in this space for over 10 years, is that, certainly and it’s grown, but certainly in the last five years, the public for consumers are gravitating towards and looking for what’s called pub.

Orientated businesses or businesses that they share values with, and that most likely are going to have some kind of positive impact on communities, society, environment. So that’s, it’s, it’s a beautiful, just to be a part of that and see that grow and then on a personal level, yeah, it’s It’s an incredible kind of process to, to witness and also for me to continue to explore and, and developing myself, and the process of purpose or finding our purpose is if you were to ask someone, usually what it is is they developed to an idea based around an aspect of their identity.

And that’s great. It can be incredibly motivating for them. but also what you can do is you can help them start to become more present step out of your thoughts. So you can observe your thoughts that are supporting or born from the identity and the need state. And you can start to find deeper purpose in life.

So you, sometimes you I’ll work with people whose purpose maybe defined by the work they do. And it’s not that it’s an, it’s not, it’s not. It’s not that it’s, that that’s a part of it. And so actually, when you are able to, to sit with people and help them look deeper and deeper into themselves, they find a more rounded person.

More rounded purpose that isn’t just based on external validation, which usually is what comes from the workpiece, you know, to be successful, to have great impact in the world to be X or Y or Z. And there’s nothing, again, those can be incredibly positive, but quite often what happens there is that if we have a purpose that is purely based on external validation, then if it’s not met.

The external validation in terms of then, then it, it can cause a lot of challenges mentally and emotionally, et cetera. and, and, and so finding a purpose, which is ultimately, around how, how we are, how we choose to be in each moment. And then we find the expression for that. Again, helps people on their wellbeing June.

 but also just it enriches life. It’s an incredible thing to see when, when people incorporate an external purpose, which is like creating impact in the world with their internal purpose. Which again is so personal that it’s sort of hard to do. Give particular examples of that. 

I mean for me, my, my purpose is simply, this. It’s right here, right now. My purpose is to be with you and be in the magic of this moment and to experience it. And, and, and for me from this, and from being in the moment, as much as I possibly can, everything else seems to happen. There’s this kind of magic thing that happens in life, where the more I drop into being present, the more life reciprocated.

And synchronicities happen. All these other things, doors open, rather than going searching for them the whole time. So, yeah, so it’s, it’s, that’s really kind of the work I do around purpose there’s organisational and then individual, which is helping marry the external with an internal purpose.

Felicity Cohen: Fascinating. Thank you so much. That was a fabulous explanation. one of your other projects, I guess passion project is a fabulous book that you have written, and it is called, is it the jar of dreams? I actually need one of those because it sounds so beautiful. And what a fabulous title for a book it’s so enticing.

Tell me all about the jar of dreams. I believe it was an, the idea behind the novel came from. Something that happened to you when you would add this somewhere in the Himalayas. So I’d love to hear about the book. 

Alan Riva: Yeah. It’s yeah, it’s it’s a fun, beautiful part of life that, so, so you said the job dreams.

 it came to me in a dream when I was halfway up a mountain in the MLS and, I woke up, I was. Next to a glacier and everything was, I don’t know if you’ve ever been near glaciers, but it like, everything was alive, cracking and moving. And anyway, I woke up, found my head torch and a piece of paper and scribbled down the dream.

 I didn’t, I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t, I didn’t have any idea that it was going to be a book. I just, it was a fascinating dream. I didn’t want to forget it. It was so blinking, like so alive for me anyway. So so that happened and then, Then I went through this incredible experience where, that dream started to kind of almost come alive around me.

So I’d meet people, certainly when I was out, you know, in that region. And they would suddenly become a character in this story. So what would happen is that as soon as I’d finished meeting them, I’d sit and scribble again. And so it was a really organic process. And then I’d go to a place. And it’s almost like I would step through a doorway or a portal.

And I be seeing that place as if I was in this story as well. So again, I just kind of keep scribbling and this, this kind of organic thing happened for a while and I just, I just loved the experience of it. And that’s really been through way up, has been, I’ve never been. Had any expectations for the job dreams.

And I, again, it was kind of an intuitive thing. Like my first trip to the, to the, that was my first trip or that trip to the MLS. and what has turned out is that, I’ve been writing now solidly for seven years every day. and when I was running companies, it was at five o’clock in the morning. and it brings me such joy.

I haven’t had one bad moment. I can honestly say that, with it. It’s and, so, so yeah, so, so it was born in a dream in Himalayas. It kind of organically wrote itself just by observation and by, I guess being inquisitive and just being open. and then there was a, there was a period of a year actually, where I would wait.

 it say, let’s just say four 30 in the morning, early in the morning before my alarm. And the only way I can describe it is that the book was writing itself through me. So I’d get up and it would literally just I’d sit and I’d write type on the computer or scribbled. and, and sometimes I actually had to go back and re rewind.

’cause I wasn’t, I didn’t know. I was like, oh wow. You know, like, cause that’s kind of in, I don’t know I was in this kind of in-between space and it’s like something gonna be spoken to a lot of people who’ve become great friends who are incredible authors and artists and stuff. And of course it’s quite can be quite a common experience of this kind of some people call it flow.

Some people call it channeling, whatever it might be, but it was just, it was magical. I, I almost had no choice, but I certainly wouldn’t. Not chosen it. Cause it was, it was great. So that then led to, let’s just say 70 odd thousand words being written, fairly amateur and a bit of a jumble. and, so I, but then I thought I would kind of put out in the world.

You never know. And I shared it with two friends, one who had been in publishing and one who was a film director. So both new story and stuff and. yeah, long story short, it’s just, it’s gathering momentum. And I continue a little bit like the beginner’s mindset that I mentioned earlier. Like always being open to learning.

I just loved learning the craft of writing. and people have been so generous, you know, I think it’s one of these things that when you follow a passion, isn’t it incredible how people really support you along the way. And they really want to help you, people who perhaps have. cause I think it’s just, it’s infectious.

Isn’t it? 

so where are you up to in the process now? You’ve been riding it for seven years. At what stage is the book at? Right. 

So, I I’m lucky enough, I’ve got this lovely agent who lives out in Patois, pre COVID between Paris and New York. and there’s some, incredible publishers who were in mid conversation with basically, but I’m actually just this morning.

I was, I was re I went, I went back in, I was rewriting another part of it. And again, the gift of being able to just do and the publishing industry. I was blown me away. I obviously, for my work, I’ve been in lots of different industries. And one of the things I’ve found is how generous people are. I think people must get now they’re getting into publishing because they’re passionate about writing books.

And, even when I’ve got a thanks, but no thanks. Cause it’s not quite right for our list or strategy or whatever else it is. It’s always come with an incredible amount of instance. So it’s not like the copy paste rejection email. It’s been that someone’s taken time. I’m the first one, which was someone who was involved with Harry Potter in England.

And I, and I sent her the first draft that really very happy I did it, but, you know, you can also be a little bit embarrassed that you send something that was kind of such a harsh hotspot to of words. But she had been involved with JK Rowling and Harry Potter, and she sent me this three page email when I printed it.

That was just dripping in insight, you know? Cause she’d been like people who’ve been in this industry for so long, just passing on their wisdom. So yeah. So it’s, it’s currently in, what’s probably called publishing mode, and is out there. And and I’m loving that too. It’s just a, it’s kind of like this fun adventure.

Felicity Cohen: I think a really valuable skillset to have, but also that opportunity of the storytelling and the sharing and creating a legacy through that storytelling. You know, I’m I love reading and I love books and I also enjoy writing. So yeah, if you feel like having an extra pair of eyes proofread, I’d love to have a look through it.

 Just for the fun of it, you know. This week, a beautiful author, a man by the name of Eddie, Jack, who, who wrote the book, the happiest man on earth passed away at over a hundred years of age. And when I was looking back and I, you know, when I read his book, I just thought it was such a beautiful story, but it reminded me of how lucky we are to have the opportunity to put things down in writing and to maintain that legacy.

It’s always going to be there, that memory, that legacy and that story is enduring forever. So yeah, it’s wonderful to be able to engage in that process. And I’m really excited to read your book. I can’t wait. 

Alan Riva: Thank you. I’m always happy to send it out by my agents was like, no, no, no, keep it tight. I was like, no, no, you just send out in the world and, you know. 

Felicity Cohen: I really feel like you, for me, you give greater depth and understanding of the two words, presence and purpose, because, you know, I just feel like they are words that we hear a lot, but the way you describe the understanding of both of those words and what they mean and how we can engage in so many different aspects of our lives, if we are on purpose and present in every single day of our lives, you just changed the way I think about it.

And I’m sure you changed the way. So many others think too. I’m really excited and looking forward to seeing what the 10 days of presence brings as well. It sounds like it’s going to be a great program for many, many people. it’s great chatting to you and I love having you here on my podcast, and I hope that, you’ll also take that kind of chance to fly up here and be a speaker at some of our events or one of our events to start with at some point in the near future.

I love to invite you up to speak here and. Before I end, there is one question that I love to ask all of the wellness warriors, podcast, guests, Allen, what does wellness mean to you? 

Alan Riva: so before I answer that, I just like to say, thank you. Like it’s been lovely and I love how, like, it’s just this lovely organic chat, you know?

And, I’ve always loved our catching up in our talks. And so thank you. And thank you for doing the amazing work you are doing, putting out into the world as well. So, Yeah, thank you. And I’d love to, I can’t wait to, you know, get in a plane at some point in time. I’d love to come up. but yes, the wellness.

 So for me, wellness is around our state, our internal state, and really how, for me the metaphor is, is how full our cup is. Because if we take the out the other side of wellness, which is when we empty our cup, like by always being busy, always being on, always giving out to the world. Then what we’re doing is we empty our cup teaspoon by teaspoon until eventually it’s empty and when it’s empty, we’re empty.

And so that’s when the doorway to whether it’s stress or anxiety, physical illness, all these things open up for us. And so wellness and wellbeing for me is when we’re able to fill our cup. Like doing the things that help us most, both physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, if that’s your thing.

And what happens then is when we build these practices into our days, each time, it just puts another drop into the cup to the point where our cup gets full and then it overflows out into the world. And so at a state of kind of optimum wellness, our cup is so full that we have more of ourselves withdrawing from this infinite of ourselves to give out the world, to give out to our work, to our families, to our friends, to community, but giving to ourselves at the same time. 

Felicity Cohen: Thank you. That was an absolutely beautiful explanation of what wellness means for you. I love that. And thank you once again for joining me today. 

Alan Riva: Thank you so much.

It’s been lovely, lovely, catching up. 

Felicity Cohen: Thank you for joining the wellness warriors podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you online with us. If you enjoy the series, please leave you a review, subscribe and follow it. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

Meet our team


Chealse Hawk

Nutrion Leader Coach

Isabelle Cole

Nutrion Coach

Joshua Chambers

Nutrion Coach

Laura Barrett

Nutrion Leader Coach