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Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

Penelope Tiam-Fook, Founder of Tiam Wellness (formerly Embrace Organica)

(BSO’s Interview with Penelope is 👇👇👇 her bio)

Penelope Tiam-Fook’s Biography

Penelope Tiam-Fook


Hello, I’m Penelope Tiam-Fook. I am a Holistic Wellness Coach and Functional Lifestyle Practitioner, and the founder of Tiam Wellness, formerly known as Embrace Organica.

What led me to become a wellness coach was my struggle to get my hormones back into balance after my pregnancy, dealing with adrenal fatigue and burnout from lack of sleep, and managing a demanding career while being a new mom that required a lot of travel.

I was exhausted and stressed-out with no recovery in site. My symptoms such as blinding headaches, surviving on coffee, and being unable to lose weight to feel like myself again really took a toll on the quality of my life.

I remember feeling underappreciated for the work I accomplished at the office, guilty that someone else was raising my child while I traveled for work, and exhausted to really enjoy motherhood as I envisioned.

Then, I discovered wellness coaching, a 360 perspective of living a better life, and studied functional nutrition from the viewpoint that what you put into your body affects how your body functions.  It was during my journey of awakening to these two approaches to health and wellness that I decided to try a holistic approach to turn my symptoms around. To my surprise, it worked!

My symptoms disappeared, and I started losing that stubborn weight around my midsection and thighs. I began to feel like myself again.

I realized then that lifestyle wellness coaching was my life’s calling, and now I specialize in helping women go from being stressed out, exhausted, and unhappy with their weight to feeling like themselves again. If you’re interested in learning how I work with women to help them love their body and lives again, I would love to schedule a time to speak with you about how I can help you achieve your own wellness goals.



BSO: Tell us about the inception of your business.


I have always been interested health and wellness.

Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. I remember my mom taking me, when I was a little girl, to visit a friend or family member who was in hospital. I remembered thinking how rewarding it would be to help someone get better to regain their independence. That dream got diverted in college when physics became my roadblock. I worked my way through undergraduate and graduate school, got married, then divorced while working in administrative healthcare-related jobs. Later, I worked for a national non-profit as an advocate and program director for moms and babies.

It wasn’t until a couple years after my daughter was born, that I found myself struggling with major burnout, traveling a lot for work, and dealing with postpartum recovery that wasn’t going so well. Thanks to following my intuition, I left the nonprofit world to become a stay at home mom for a while. It was during that time at home, caring for my daughter who had some health challenges at the time, that I became determined to find non-medicated ways to heal my body and rebalance my hormones. That one decision began  my journey as a holistic wellness coach and functional lifestyle practitioner.


BSO: There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Share with us your a.m. to p.m.


I believe that it’s important to live what you preach at a foundational level.

In the mornings, I like to start my day with morning prayer. Some days, I may have 5 minutes to do so, but I average 15 minutes as this centers my thoughts for the day. I do either yoga or active and restorative stretching. This helps with pain management to minimize muscles spasms, particularly in my neck and shoulders. I drink a glass of warm lemon water or celery juice. If school is in session, I make my daughter breakfast, then prepare and pack her meals for school. Once she is off to school, I will eat breakfast. If I have time to workout in the morning, I’ll do that first then eat breakfast within 45 minutes of that workout. The rest of my day starts from there.

My evening routine varies depending on what’s on the schedule. I prefer to have dinner between 5 and 6 pm, but that is often not realistic in my home due to our schedules. So, we strive for 7 pm. If the weather is nice, my family and I will take a walk with our dog. Sometimes, we may watch a movie together if time permits. Often, however, we relax for at least 30 minutes before prepping for the next day.


BSO: What are your ‘can’t live without’ software applications?


Microsoft Word, Keep and Memo for notes, Google calendar and Gmail, Practice Better


BSO: What was the best advice you received when you started your business?


Be true to your story; find your voice, and genuinely be of service to your tribe while maintaining boundaries around the rest of your life.


BSO: What has been your strategy for building awareness of your business?


I’ve learned that getting to know your audience and who they are is key to how you run your business.

I’ve began with local networking, then I began testing out my market using a FB page when that was a new thing to do. When live video came on the scene on FB, I began doing live video to build the know, like and trust factor with my followers. I’m a behind-the-scenes type of person, so that was a major challenge for me. Early on, I also had practice clients so that I could build confidence in my coaching and practitioner skills. In the past year or two, as I refine my niche and who I want to serve, I’ve been testing my audience on Instagram. When school starts back for my daughter, I will visit some local business groups get to know more women locally, make connections as I’d like to do some workshops, and build a word-of-mouth referral network locally. I think this will also help with my online presence as I would like to have a virtual practice as well.


BSO: What are your proudest achievements, professional & personal?


In my personal life, that would be becoming a mom. Bringing another human being into this world…what an amazing thing to do! There is no manual. I am in awe of God’s work and the fact that He blessed me to be a parent. It’s not an easy job, but one that is very worth it.

Professionally, that may be a tough question as my career has mainly been working as part of teams. From a big picture perspective, I would say its having had the opportunity to work with a variety of moms and dads, community organizations, NICUs, and business owners who care about the health of moms and babies, to protect programs and implement awareness campaigns to help parents-to-be have healthier babies, and moms to safely make it through their pregnancies. I, myself, went into preterm labor in my third trimester and had to be on bedrest for the duration of my pregnancy. At the time, I went from what felt like 100 to 0 miles per hour, so to speak, and that sort of change has a major affect on how you live your life every day, your social life, how you contribute to your family and society.


BSO: What are you currently reading?


I can’t seem to read one book at a time. Haha! I am currently reading, I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott, and The Greenprint: Plant-based Diet, Best Body, Better World by Marco Borges


BSO: What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?


I’ve volunteered for a few different nonprofits and worked for a national nonprofit.

It was during my nonprofit career that I started a program called the NICU Holiday Donation Drive. This program was created for a few different reasons, one of them being that the staff at my office wanted a way to show that we cared about our community and were not just about raising money for the cause. We had a very good relationship with the NICU nurses and director and so I reached out to them to present my idea. Once they approved, I began working internally with staff, and board members to launch the program. We even had grandmothers making santa stockings to put the items collected into the stockings. Then on Christmas day, each family who had a baby in the NICU would be presented with a stocking, or if discharged in the month of December during the Christmas holiday. Every stocking presented was presented a surprise gift. It was our way of saying, “We see you. We empathized with what you’re going through, and we want you to know we care”. It was a small way of giving a family hope.


BSO: Who has influenced your career the most?


My parents always encouraged and reminded my siblings and I to choose a field of work that we are truly interested in, where we could mature and excel. They encouraged us to make a difference and to ignore the naysayers.


BSO: What is your advice for starting a business?


Taking the leap is not for the light-hearted person.

On your journey, you will encounter failure and mistakes.

Let that be your norm, not the exception.

Let go of comparison as it is the thief of joy. When you focus on your competition or what someone else is doing, you slow yourself down and can lose the energy and passion you brought to your business.

Mind your words and what you say about yourself to yourself, as well as what you to say and how you treat others and your customers. And remember, your business will change because of the lessons learned along the way. Change can be good if you let it so don’t sweat the small stuff.


Dr. David Hanscom, Orthopedic Spinal Deformity Surgeon

(SCROLL 👇 for interview with BSO)

Why I’m Leaving My Spine Surgery Practice

From the day I entered medical school, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. I was planning on practicing internal medicine, but on a whim I applied for an orthopedic residency and, much to my surprise, was accepted.

I came out of my residency and fellowship in 1985 on fire, ready to solve the world’s spine problems with my surgical skills.

About six months ago, something shifted deep within me. In the three decades I’ve practiced spine surgery in the Seattle area, I’ve tried to address the whole patient. But I didn’t yet have a clear idea about all the factors that affect a person’s physical and mental health.

In fact, for the first eight years of my practice, I was part of Seattle’s movement to surgically solve low back pain with lumbar fusions. A new device had been introduced that ensured a much higher chance of a successful fusion. Our fusion rate for low back pain was nine times that of New England’s. I felt badly if I couldn’t find a reason to perform a fusion.

Then a paper came out in 1993 documenting that the success rate for fusion in the Washington Workers Compensation population was only between 15 to 25 percent. I had been under the impression that it was over 90 percent. A lumbar fusion is a major intervention with a significant short and long-term complication rate. I immediately stopped performing them.

I also plunged into a deep abyss of chronic pain that many would call a burnout. I had no idea what happened or why. I had become a top-level surgeon by embracing stress with a “bring it on” attitude. I was fearless and didn’t know what anxiety was.

What I didn’t realize was that my drive for success was fueled by my need to escape an abusive and anxiety-ridden childhood. I was a supreme master of suppressing anxiety until 1990, when I experienced a severe panic attack while driving on a bridge over Lake Washington late one night.

Although I was skilled at consciously suppressing my anxiety, my body wasn’t going to let me get away with it. Anxiety and anger create a flood of stress hormones in your body. Sustained levels of these hormones translate into over 30 possible physical symptoms. I descended into a 13-year tailspin that almost resulted in my suicide.

I can’t express in words how dark my world became. I experienced migraines, tension headaches, migratory skin rashes, severe anxiety in the form of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, burning feet, PTSD, tinnitus, pain in my neck, back and chest, insomnia, stomach issues, and intermittent itching over my scalp.

In 2002, I accidentally began my journey out of that dark hole by picking up a book that recommended writing down thoughts in a structured way.  For the first time I felt a shift and a slight decrease in my anxiety. I learned some additional treatments and six months later, I was free of pain. All of my other symptoms disappeared.

I began to share what I learned with my patients and watched many of them improve. Addressing sleep was the first step. Slowly I expanded it to add medication management, education about pain, stress management skills, physical conditioning, and an improved life outlook.

I still didn’t know what happened to me or why. Then in 2009, I heard a lecture by Dr. Howard Schubiner, who had trained with Dr. John Sarno, a physiatrist who championed the idea that emotional pain translates into physical symptoms.

Within five minutes of the beginning of Dr. Shubiner’s lecture, the pieces of my puzzle snapped into place. I realized that sustained levels of stress hormones can and will create physical symptoms. I also learned how the nervous system works by linking current circumstances with past events. If a given situation reminds you of past emotional trauma, you may experience similar symptoms that occurred around the prior event.

I felt like I had been let out of jail. I’ll never forget that moment of awareness.

What’s puzzling is that these concepts are what we learned in high school science class. When you’re threatened for any reason, your body secretes stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. You’ll then experience a flight, fight or freeze response, with an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, muscle tension and anxiety. When this chemical surge is sustained, you become ill. It’s been well documented that stress shortens your life span and is a precursor of chronic diseases.

Modern medicine is ignoring this. We are not only failing to treat chronic pain, but creating it.

Spine surgeons are throwing random treatments at symptoms without taking the time to know a patient’s whole story.  It takes just five minutes for a doctor to ask a simple question, “What’s going on in your life over the last year?” Answers may include the loss of a job, loved one, divorce, or random accident. The severity of their suffering is sometimes beyond words. But once we help them past this trauma, their physical symptoms usually resolve.

What has become more disturbing is that I see patients every week who have major spine surgery done or recommended for their normal spines. It often occurs on the first visit. Patients tell me they often feel pressured to get placed on the surgical schedule quickly. At the same time, I am watching dozens of patients with severe structural surgical problems cancel their surgery because their pain disappears using the simple measures I’ve learned.

I love my work. I enjoy my partners as we help and challenge each other. My surgical skills are the best they’ve been in 30 years. My clinic staff is superb in listening and helping patients heal. I’m also walking away from it.

I can’t keep watching patients being harmed at such a staggering pace. I have loved seeing medicine evolve over the last 40 years, but now I feel like I am attempting to pull it out of a deep hole. I never thought it would end this way. Wish me luck.


BSO: Since our interview years ago, please share with us ways in which you’ve 1) challenged yourself and 2) grown, personally AND professionally.


• I have become increasingly disturbed by this aggressiveness of the medical culture encouraging and even pushing physicians to offer treatments that have been documented to be ineffective in addition to being expensive and risky. Mainstream medicine is pretending to offer care and not delivering on the promise. I quit my surgical practice at the end of 2018 to do what I could to slow down this juggernaut of surgery.

• My main focus is on writing a book, Do You Really Need Spine Surgery? Advice from a Surgeon, that will be published this fall of 2019.

• Other efforts include:

o Creating a business structure to educate the public and providers about effectively treating chronic pain and avoid the pitfalls of surgery. The name of the corporation is, “Vertus, Inc.”

o Chairman of the Scoliosis Research Society non-operative care committee – focus is defining the structure of non-operative care and to define it prior to undergoing surgery.

o Co-creating a software program to teach the DOC (Direct your Own Care) process to patients and providers in a self-directed manner.

o Ongoing podcasts, lecturing, consulting

• My personal ongoing challenge is to become more aware of people’s need’s around me – especially close friends and colleagues. I realized that I have been moving so fast that I am often not really seeing what is right front of me. Even more importantly, I am watching my effect on others. If I am impatient or sharp, I may not see it, but if is perceived badly by others, I want to be aware of their reactions and adjust my behavior.

• I am committed to taking full responsibility for every aspect of my life. It is difficult, as it is easy for me to blame others. However, the benefits have been huge in that I am no longer pulled into a lot of controversy and spend little energy thinking about all the wrongs in my life.

• There is an increasingly disturbing trend to perform major surgery on spines that have normal age-related changes. I retired from my spine surgery practice in December of 2018 to do what I can to slow down the juggernaut of aggressive spinal surgery.

BSO: With what you’ve learned about yourself and all that you’ve achieved, what are 3 pieces of advice you’d give your younger self?


• Don’t take anything too seriously.
• Be nice to people.
• Play – at work and home

BSO: That never ending ‘balance’ question (wellness, career and family). What’s your typical day look like? Or share with us a sample of 2 days. 


  • I feel that “balance” is a word that creates stress, not lessens it. It implies that there is some way of creating a work-home balance that will make you a happier person. I feel the key is to get happy first and work on staying that way. That translates into a passion for what you are doing, which is rarely reflected in a “balanced” life.
  • If balance is your goal, you’ll constantly be judging yourself and your day against what should be happening to create a balance. It takes away from your day. I feel I am better diving into what I am doing with a full commitment and don’t worry about balance.
  • I retired in December of 2018 to pursue presenting viable solutions for chronic pain to the general public. My work days were usually between 12 to 16 hours a day and I loved what I did.
  • My retirement is almost as busy, and I am working on creating a structure to engage in my mission and also create a more enjoyable personal life. My day begins between 5:30 and 6:00. I work on my writing for 3-5 hours. I catch up on my “to do” list around the middle part of the day and am able to take most
    evenings off.

BSO: To function at our highest level and to continue tapping into our creativity, Weekends should be restorative, physically and mentally. What does yours look like?


  • I am trying to take one of the two days off of the internet and mobile devices. I am having some success with it. We spend time with friends, playing golf, tennis and I do work out at the gym almost daily. My favorite part of retirement is taking an afternoon nap.
  • Am deciding on what hobby to take up. I have historically enjoyed bird watching. I am taking voice lessons.

Danielle D’Amour, Founder

Danielle D’Amour, Biological-Ecological-Conservation Expertise ~ Passion for Building Partnerships ~ Founder of


nonprofit organizations



BSO : You have an incredible background of extensive travel in exotic locations, a passion for wildlife, a deep passion for supporting women and wellness through oils and yoga. Plus you are a busy mom. Tell us about your life journey and your vision for your future. 

DD: Nature and I have had a long-term love affair.

I used to spend hours hanging out with wooly bears or exploring fox dens when I was a young kid growing up in New England. It’s no surprise that I swiftly became obsessed with wildlife of all kinds, especially African Wildlife. It was always a dream of mine to live and work with wildlife in Africa.

At 19, I took my first trip to Africa to suss out this whole wildlife thing. I fell deeper in love with this planet. Going to a place so far out of my ‘Bubble’, I couldn’t help but drown in the pure vastness of our planet and how small my little world was. At the same time, my heart grew to experience how breath taking our natural world is but also how closed my mind was to other people and cultures. It was humbling yet motivating. An insatiable hunger to know and experience more ran my decisions for the next 20 years.

I spent my final years of college doing my best to learn all things wildlife, ecology and diversity. After school, no job was too remote or paid too little…as long as it fed my hunger to learn. I jumped at the change to work in the Cascade mountains of Oregon where I was able to really get knee deep in wildlife research. There, I got extreme hands-on experience with black bears, mountain lions, elk and black tailed-deer. Jumping out of helicopters onto elk, snaring black bears, tracking mountain lions with hounds, and the shear beauty of the Cascade Mountain Range are imprinted in my being. Again, growing my love.

From Oregon, against all advice and opinions of friends and family, I accepted a research assistant position deep in the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The diseases, the war, the poisonous animals” they all said….but love is blind. I followed my heart and gave no acknowledgment to my ‘rational’ loved ones. Here, I was incredibly fortunate to study one of the most endangered and beautiful creatures on the planet. Bonobos. Our closest living relative. The “hippies of the forest”. My heart pounds even reminiscing about this…. All of the ‘what ifs’ of danger were obliterated by the mind and heart expansion this place instills. A large piece of my heart still beats in those trees and rivers.

Falling deeper and deeper into love with how magnificent our planet is, I kept my eye on the prize of continuing my education and dedicating my entire life to learning, protecting and honoring our natural world and the souls that are living in it. I threw myself full force into higher education. To me, this seemed like the most impactful way of reaching my goals.

After getting my MSc in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, I found myself on a plane back to East Africa. I spent 2 years facilitating groups of study abroad students to learn about wildlife conservation techniques. As exciting as this role sounds, I couldn’t help but reflect on how effective my role actually was in terms of contributing to wildlife conservation and awareness. At the same time, my heart started to yearn for something more…a connection to people…to building relationships with my own species.

The embers of that desire led to me to a place a bit more populated, California. I landed a job working for a small non-profit with big impact. I worked with wine and produce growers to adjust their farming practices to not only to get them in compliance with environmental regulations and laws but also to help them enhance wildlife habitat on their land. We documented significant reductions in chemical use and fine sediment runoff into waterways as well as completed countless habitat restorations projects.

It is during this time that I met my husband, got married and had a couple of kids. It was a whirlwind….and somewhere along the line, I had the hardest breakup I’ve ever experienced.  I left my passionate love affair with living and working in remote forests. In it’s place, I have real humans with real reciprocal love who love every piece of me regardless of my goals, achievements and failures. To focus on my new loves, I had to let go of the thing that consumed my heart for so many years.

I quit my job and opened up a yoga studio in hopes that it would give me more time to grow my family but also connect me with people on a deeper level.

For the next few years, I learned about people and the human heart. Listened to the stories of trauma, of physical and emotional injury. The yoga room opened my eyes to the sufferings of the souls…where there is a sensation of incompleteness in people. I came to understand that our society is suffering from a disconnect. There is a hole in our human experience where a strong connection to community and the earth used to fill. And those little embers in my heart began to stoke. By creating a space for people to heal, connect, move and communicate, I was filling that hole and creating impact in my community. It felt like a secret. This secret of providing the glue to keep people connected to their happiness. How important!

Life takes it’s twists and turns and eventually, the road led me straight back to my roots in New England.

First and foremost, my love and energy goes to my family…but there is something about your first love that stays with you…


BSO:  You recently launched Belle Terre. Tell us about it & what’s your vision with it.

DD : Belle Terre or Beautiful Earth, is an expression of all of my past experiences, lessons and desires. Belle Terre represents what we all want and need in life. Community, connection, Respect.

I believe there is incredible value in connecting and respecting our natural world. It is a human necessity in terms of well-being. Another important source of human satisfaction is connection with other human beings. Especially women. We are not meant to be islands and I believe in order to create and accomplish any good, we need to connect to nature and each other.

Belle Terre is a tool to connect people. To connect them to themselves, to each other and healing. To help heal their hearts and give support. To connect them to the healing nurturance of each other and Mother Nature.

The recipe is simple. Connect to each other and nature, and we thrive.


BSO: What can attendees expect from attending your Yoga in the Vineyard and New Moon Intention gatherings?

DD: The goal of yoga and my intentions for these events is to connect people with deeper contentment and happiness.

Yoga in the Vineyard is an opportunity to connect with other people and move our bodies. This workshop is meant to be light hearted and fun…maybe even a little sweaty. Hopefully it gets people out of their comfort zone and hopefully they learn some new things along the way. Whether they are experienced yogis or beginners, there is always something new to learn about yoga. If you have never used essential oils before, or maybe you are interested in experiencing them in a new way, the combination of yoga and oils has a profound impact. What is special about this event is that we will have a full hour after class to sip on some delicious wine and get to know each other a little more. Life is fine with yoga and wine!

The new moon gatherings are a little more thought provoking. At these events we discuss what our goals are for the month and for our lives. We discuss tangible ways to achieve these goals with just the right amount of accountability. Why do we do this on the New Moon? As our bodies consist of mostly water, we are affected by gravity and the gravitational pull of the moon. Just as the tides ebb and flow with the pull of the moon, so do the waves of water in our bodies. So even if we can physically see the push and pull of gravity, we are none the less affected by it. The New Moon’s affect on us comes in the form of introspection. It is a time of quiet analysis of our lives and a good time to focus on what we want to create. Traditionally, farmers plant their seeds during the new moon. So it is a time to plant the seeds of your desires and intentions. With the proper care and nutrition, we can encourage those seeds to grow into the life we desire.

The New Moon events are a great opportunity to connect with community, focus and gain a fresh perspective on your life.


BSO: Describe a typical day, morning to night.


  • 5:30 am: wake up…with or with out without a screaming baby. Roll out of bed, scrape my tongue, drink a glass of water.
  • 6 am: Baby is definitely awake by now. Change diaper, dress and feed the baby.
  • 6:30-7am: Wake up, feed and dress the toddler.
  • 7:30-8 am: Drop the kids off at school and head over to teach morning yoga class.
  • 8:15-9am: Prep for class or post events on social media, check emails
  • 9-11 am: Teach yoga class (or Oil Spotlight)
  • 11:30-12:30 pm: Come home, continue emails, prep/planning for events, customer care. Brainstorm business growth.
  • 12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch
  • 1:00-2:30 pm: business conference calls and follow up
  • 2:30-3:30 pm: Continuing education
  • 3:30 – 4 pm: Dinner Prep (sometimes teach another yoga class)
  • 4 – 5:30 pm: Pick up kids, shuttle to extracurricular activities
  • 5:30-6:30 pm: cook and eat supper
  • 6:30-7:15 pm: Play time and family time (Sometimes I have evening events from 6-10 pm)
  • 7:15 -8 pm: Bed time routine for the kids
  • 8-9:30 pm: Finish lingering business tasks or emails. Prep plan for following day.


BSO : How can our readers learn more and meet you?


1) Facebook and instagram, come to a class or workshop!

2) Join my mailing list to receive emails, newsletter, and updates.

3) Call me to host an essential oil make and take workshop at your house or business.

-Stress relief

-Green cleaning

-Oils for kids

-Oils for immune defense

-Oils for emotional wellness

-Oils to balance nervous system


Regular Weekly Classes

Teach Tuesday, Thursday mornings at k2 in somers ct.

Weekly oil spotlight Wednesdays 10am

Special Events

Yoga in the Vineyard May 22, 2019 6:30 pm

New moon Intention Setting Circle April 9, 2019 7pm  & May 2019 (TBA)

Upcoming events Location Date and Time TBD

“Balancing your weight, hormones, emotions and life”

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