Business, Goals & Growth, Yoga & Massage

How I started my Massage Practice

I graduated from massage school in late March of 1999.  I was 5 months pregnant with our daughter, Taylor, and after paying for school, working very part time and trying to prepare for her arrival – was flat broke.  I couldn’t even afford the entrance fee to sit for my State Massage Therapy Exam.  It took me a few months to save up, and in the meantime, Taylor arrived in late June.  When a newborn shows up in your life there is a lot of downtime, which was perfect for healing and studying.  I was finally ready to take my exam in August, and I was ready to go.

I never had any real intention to work for anyone, so I was scouting for opportunities to get started on my own.  One day while scanning the classifieds, I found an ad for a space to rent for massage, in a barber shop, for $150 a month.

Barber shop, huh?  What the hell.  Why not.

The barber shop was a stand alone house on a busy highway, less than 10 minutes from my home.  It was on the same property as another house that had been converted into a hair salon whose target clientele was retired ladies getting perms and style and sets.  The barber shop was in the back of the house and had an old time feel to it.  The front of the house had been turned into a nail salon with a little closet type room off to the side that they decided could fit a massage table in.  The floor was sloping, the walls were wavy, it had a pocket door that you could neither open nor close without two people helping you, and the building shook when a semi drove by.  It wasn’t perfect by any means, but sometimes you do the best you can with what you have to work with.

When it came time to negotiate with the owner, I had an idea.  I said “I don’t have any clients, and I can not afford to pay you $150 in rent.  But I noticed you do not have any one answering phones for the nails or barber shop.  If you don’t mind me bringing my daughter in with me, I will sit and answer phones for you in exchange for rent.  In the mean time I will fix up the room, and get to meet new people and hopefully get them on my table.  As I start making money I can pay you rent.  Would that work?”

He thought about it and eventually said yes.  I replaced the pocket door with a swing door, covered the walls with discounted fabric I found on sale at the fabric store, and furnished my room with things I found at yard sales, Thrift Stores and even on the side of the road.  As I made a little money, I reinvested it into building my practice.

The nail tech, Becky, had a little boy just a few months older than my girl, and on occasion she would have to bring him to work as well.  When she had clients I would watch him, and when I did she would return the favor.  There was even a day a woman in her 90’s walked in for a massage.  I tried to book her for a later time when I could have someone watch Taylor,  but she laughed and said “You bring that baby in the room!  She’ll sleep the whole time I bet.  Plus crying babies don’t bother me, I’ve raised enough of them!”  And so I did a massage with my infant sleeping in a  baby carrier in the corner.  I showed up every day, whether I had appointments or not.  I used the time to learn about marketing and creating systems to run my little business.  I thought if I consistently show up, clients will too.


how I started my massage practice(1)


When Becky and I had down time we would dream about going out into the world and what having our own perfect business would be like.  At this time there was a large building for sale across the road that I though would be perfect for a Day Spa/Wellness Center.  I called the realtor and remember the number being in the $300,000 range and in my mind that may as well have been $3 million dollars.  There was no way I would ever be able to buy it.  So instead I got out a .75 cent spiral notebook and made lists of what my perfect practice would offer.  I wanted multiple Massage Therapists, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Skin Care, Yoga, Wellness Classes, and more.  I wanted a pond and a place for people to go outside and rest. I wanted an outdoor treatment space.  Lots of parking and roadside visibility.  It felt like I was basically wanting for the impossible, but it was a fun way to pass the time.

It took me less than a year at the barber shop to realize I really did want more.  My practice was growing, and in order to keep that momentum going, I would need more space.  I kept scouting around the area for where I was going to move.  Again, I had a list. It needed to be less than 2 miles from where I was now.  Space to grow, decent parking, and affordable.  It took me almost a year, but I was patient.  I found an office complex less than a mile up the road and it had a space open.  The space was for 1500 sq ft and I knew I couldn’t carry that over head.  But I would still think about it every day I drove past it.  Sometimes I would stop in and peek in the windows and visualize what I could do with the space.  I also kept track that it stayed unrented for a long time.  I reached out to the landlord several times with ideas, until one day I suggested he split the space up and by closing up one door I could rent 450 sq ft making the remaining 1000 sq ft easier for him to rent.  Reluctantly he gave in, and shortly thereafter he rented out the other side.

I was in business alone, but again knew I wanted more.  So I dropped my name and created North River Body Therapies.  I decided against North River Massage because I didn’t want to limit my future options.  A few months later I hired my first Independent Contracted Massage Therapist, Jennifer Hargis, to work with me.  She stayed with me for almost 8 years, and was incredibly important to the growth of my practice.

And so began my realization that first you decide what you want to do, then you find a way to do it.

While this isn’t the end of my journey, this is the end of this post about my time at the barber shop.  Stay tuned for more…

PS – Becky also moved on to open and run her own business. 🙂


Goals & Growth

The voices in my head are running.

“If you see me running, you had better start running too!”

As a Massage Therapist, I have had many clients that were runners and joggers and they would tell me about their experiences and races they signed up for and gear they had bought.  And while I was interested in what they were saying, the thought would cross my mind “Why are they doing this to themselves?  Don’t they like themselves?  This seems like torture!”  Even though I have always been active, I have never really considered myself a sporty or athletic type.  I did not play for any real sports in school (except that one time I played T-Ball).  And I could not possibly wrap my head around why ANYONE would consider running if there wasn’t anything chasing them.

Around late 2010, early 2011, I was having lunch with my favorite goal setting partner, Jen, and we were making lists and discussing the goals we wanted to set for ourselves that year.  I believe very strongly in having accountability partners when it comes to goals.

As we were setting our goals, I asked her if she had ever run a 5K.  When she said no and asked me why, I stated “I have told myself my whole life that I could never be a runner.  I have said – out loud – that I could not even run to the mailbox if I wanted to.  If I could train for and complete a 5K, that would prove that little voice in my head wrong.  And if it could be wrong about that, what other things could that little voice be wrong about?”

Right away we decided that we should find a fun place to run our first 5K.  And we should schedule spa services to reward ourselves afterwards too!  We had been to an amazing spa at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida for a FSMTA Convention a few years prior, and thought that it would be the perfect place to start looking for our first race.  (For perspective, Boca is about 4 hours away from where we live.)  We searched online, found a race called the Rock and Roll 5K and signed up, giving us 3 months to go from non-runners to runners.

Once we committed to the race we started looking in to scheduling our spa services (3 months ahead, yes I know.) This is a pretty expensive resort, especially coming from a massage therapists pocketbook, so our intention was to get a hotel close by, and go there for spa treatments.  There was a glitch in my plan, however.  It turned out you could only book spa services if you were staying at the resort.  So now our whole reason for going to Boca to run this 5K was going to cost us a lot more money.

When I broke the news to Jen she laughed and said “That seems like an excessive reward for just a 5K.”

I replied “It’s not the 5K we are rewarding.  It’s the re-wiring of a belief.  It’s challenging the voice that holds me back.  It’s a substantial shift that deserves a substantial reward.”

First 5K
Up early at the start line for our very first 5K in Boca’s Rock the Run race!

We ran, we spa day-ed, we conquered.  It was a fantastic experience that fueled several more races, and even bumped me up into half marathons.  I can honestly say that was a game changer for me.  The moment I realized that I did not have to believe what that little voice was telling me, was so significant to other ways I had been holding myself back in business.  I started making better decisions with more confidence.  I started getting into the habit of challenging that voice every time it told me I could not do something.


It was running for me, but it could be painting or singing for you. That voice spends the same amount of energy discouraging small goals as it does to big ones. It’s our perspective that makes them bigger.  It’s the same voice that says “I could never leave my hometown.  I could never start my own business.  I could never go back to school.”  Yes you can.

What ever it is, it is possible.

What has the little voice in your head been saying that holds you back?  What are some beliefs you have that feel real, but maybe with a little effort and vulnerability, they are not?  Pick one, right it down.  That voice in your head that tells you all the reasons you can not do something … is a liar.  Find out the truth for yourself and see what happens next.

Chase your dreams and send that voice running!



5 Ways to Focus Naturally with Adult ADD/ADHD


There are lots of reasons why it can take a while to accomplish your goals: Time, Money, Family, Career, Responsibilities, etc.  I can relate to all of them, however, one of the biggest hurdles for me is my attention span.


I have never sought to be officially diagnosed with ADHD, but all you have to do is spend a little time with me and there will be no doubt.  Ask my co-workers, my family and my friends.  They will roll their eyes and in some loving way, say they find ways to deal with me.  And being that I was raised in an environment that was Complementary Health Care and not Traditional Healthcare, medication is not ever my first choice for resolution.

So here I am, taking life by the horns, Ritalin free.  That’s not to say there aren’t times I have seriously considered it (and still wonder if my productivity would be of much higher quality if I did break down and go on meds) But for the past 42 years and counting, here is how I have learned to make the most of what I’ve got:


5 ways to focus naturally
How to Focus with ADD/ADHD Naturally


Exercise is absolutely an important part of managing my ability to concentrate and focus.  I have always found ways to incorporate movement of some sort in my life whether it was at a gym, hiking, yoga, bike riding, or running.  I am not an athlete by any stretch of the description, but I have always been very active.  After reading the book Spark by John J. Ratey MD,  I have a better understanding of why innately I knew that exercise should always be a part of my life, no matter what.  Most mornings I defy my desire to sleep in and walk or jog with my neighbor.  Every few months we back off for a couple of weeks, and in those breaks I always notice a difference in my attentions span.

2. Supplements
I went to a Doctor at Renewal Point in Sarasota, where we did a full blood, saliva and urine work up to find out what neurotransmitters needed boosting.  I have been taking this supplement for a couple years, and while I don’t really notice much change when I am taking it consistently, I absolutely notice a difference when I run out and forget to order more.  I quickly remember how easily I am over stimulated by lots of people talking, temperatures (feeling too hot or too cold and not being able to concentrate as a result) and even down to how my clothes feel on my skin.  Calm PRT definitely keeps me from feeling over stimulated, but not necessarily more focused and productive.

I recently noticed I was retaining some fluid in my legs and wondered if it was the CALM PRT.  So I experimented and it seems to be connected to the days I took the supplement.  After doing some research it appears that 2-3 years taking it consistently might be the reason I am having this reaction. Sooooo … I am now trying a different supplement called MINDLABPRO  I am always skeptical when I try something new.  I believe in the mind body connection and that if you believe something is going to work, it will.  So each time I try something new I am always thinking, “Is it really working, or do I just believe it is?” I have only been on MindLabPro for about two weeks, and in that time I got his blog up and running.  I feel very focused on the task I am working on, with much less need to interrupt myself by getting up and getting snacks, or opening up 6 or 7 more tabs to browse in between writing.  I am aware that I am still in the honeymoon phase of trying something new, but this one is giving me hope.

This post contains an affiliate link that may generate a small commission if a purchase is made.  Just sayin’


3. Meditation, Yoga, Massage
I am putting this in a different category than exercise because of the calming meditative quality Yoga has on the mind that I have found to be very different then running or going to the gym.  I am not saying it is better, I am only saying it has additional benefits in calming the mind.  As for Massage, it is like hitting the reset button for your body.  Often times we live with pain and tension for so long that we start to ignore that it is there.  The problem is, that it is there, whether you choose to pay attention to it or not.  Pain and tension can be a big source of distraction, depression and dysfunction.  Do yourself a favor and get a massage.

Take a few yoga classes (you can find some great ones online if you don’t want to go to a studio) and start incorporating short meditations into your “work day”.  It can be as simple as while you are taking a shower:  let the warm water flow down your back, close your eyes, as you inhale slowly think the word “Slow” for the entirety of the inhale.  As you exhale, think the word “Down” for the entirety of the exhale.  You can pick any number of two syllable words or phrases.  My two favorites are “Thank You” and “Help Me”.  Repeat this over and over until you feel calm and relaxed, or the hot water runs out. 😉


5 Ways to ManageADD_ADHD


4. Tips for desk work/computer work
Music!  I have a hard time working in complete silence, so love to put some music on while I work.  I have learned it should not be lyrically heavy or too many BPM.  If I find I am concentrating on the music too much, I will change it until it is just background noise.
Allow for fidget time!   I need a minimum of 45 minutes to “settle down” before I really start working on projects.  During this time I am procrastinating, getting drinks, and snacks and checking my social media, emails, clipping my nails, giving my dog a bath … anything NOT to sit still.  Placing a tennis ball under my feet so I have something to roll my foot over seems to help a lot (and it also gives me a foot massage at the same time!) Snacks!  I like to have a bowl of grapes or cut up fruit, ice chips, (sometimes candy but don’t tell anyone) etc. so that I have something to reach for and munch on, and it gives me one less excuse to get up from my desk.


5. Timing
Find your natural algorithm for productivity.  (For me it is between 1pm -4pm and 9pm-12pm)   Try to build your schedule around your personal peak productive times.  I realize this is not always possible, but if you have the flexibility to shift some of your tasks to be done during the times you feel most calm and focused you will get more done in a shorter time.

It’s also important to think about the amount of time it takes you to find your groove.  I am much like a steam train when it comes to productivity.  Slow to start, but once I get moving, I am good to go.  However every interruption is like stopping the train, which means I have to start all over again.  I purposely do my admin work for my Day Spa at my house (when no one is there) instead of at the office, as people are constantly stopping to talk to me – I never get anything accomplished!  And if I only have an hour to work on a project, I won’t even consider it, because I know I’ll waste the time any way and be completely frustrated with myself.


ADD ADHD quote


6. Food/Diet
I know I said 5 tips, but this one is probably the most important.  Be mindful of what you are eating.  My attention span is dramatically better when I have had quality protein and I am well hydrated.  If I have been eating a lot of junk food (aka SUGAR) I can promise you that my attention span will be that of a gnat.

I can remember being in Kindergarten at snack time, telling my teacher not to give me a cookie because “They make me go crazy.”  Turns out I was sensitive to sugar before it was cool.

I am not a dietician, nor do I pretend to be, so I won’t tell you what to eat or when.  But I will encourage you to look at what you eat on the days you feel great.  Make a note of it in your phone or calendar.  Then notice what you ate (or didn’t eat – if I am hungry you can just forget about me doing anything other than complaining about how hungry I am) on the days you really struggled with focusing.  If you are not already doing this, it could be a game changer.


I embrace the unique quirks that make me who I am.  There are many ways my brain serves me very well and provides an advantage over others in thinking outside of the box.  In fact my number one reason for not wanting to take medications is the fear of losing that gift.

Does this sound like you? How does ADHD/ADD affect your life in positive ways?  Do you have any tips on managing your mind naturally?  Share below!


“Lyric from “Sail” song”


Business, Goals & Growth

How to Make a Vision Board

What you will need:

1 board – it can be a firm foam board or poster board.  I have even used a side of a card board box!

1 pair of scissors or exacto knife

Adhesive of your choice – double sided tape is my favorite, but you can use any kind of tape, push pins (on foam boards) or even glue! (be careful with using glue as it can warp your cut outs if you use too much)

Magazines, newspapers, post cards, etc.

“How to make a vision board”

What are Vision boards anyway?

A vision board is part Arts and Crafts, part Subconscious Goal Planning, and part  Conscious Wishful Thinking.  Put it all together and you get a very powerful tool to help you reach your goals.


How are they helpful?

A vision board is a fantastic way to get creative with getting your goals out of your head, and in to real life.  If you are a visual person like me, seeing something over and over again can be a very helpful reminder of what you are wanting to bring in to your experience.

If your dreams are just floating around in your head like butterflies such as “Someday I would like to swim with dolphins” chances are kind of slim that dream will come to fruition.  But if you cut out a picture of a person wearing a life vest and a huge smile while holding onto a dolphins fin in the lagoon, and place it somewhere that you will see it often, that dream stays in the forefront of your mind.  You will start noticing opportunities.  You may be inclined to look online to find places that offer this kind of experience.  You may even choose your next vacation based on it.  And before you know it, you made your dream a reality.

If you believe it you can achieve it.

Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success! For instance, Natan Sharansky, a computer specialist who spent 9 years in prison in the USSR after being accused of spying for US has a lot of experience with mental practices. While in solitary confinement, he played himself in mental chess, saying: “I might as well use the opportunity to become the world champion!” Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!

Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!- read more in this article from PsychologyToday.

Believe me now?  Ready to get started?  Let’s go!

Step 1)  Gather

You can create a board for a specific goal- such as relationship or career, or a life in general board.  It can be about feelings, things, or experiences.  There are no rules here!  Collect magazines, newspapers, postcards, ads, photos, etc and start clipping anything that jumps out at you.  It could be colors, words, buildings, clothes, faces, ANYTHING!  Don’t question WHY you want to cut it out, just do it.  This is where you let your subconscious do its thing.  When you feel like you have enough, set that pile aside.

Step 2) Sort

With your foam, poster or card board in front of you, along with your adhesive of choice, Start sorting through your loot.  Pick the ones that really jump out at you and start arranging them on the board.  Here you will either “Create” your story, or let your story “Unfold”

*Note:  Some people like to adhere the pictures right away and let the “story” unfold organically, while others arrange and rearrange until they are ready to commit and stick their images and words to the board.  I can not tell you what to do here, it is totally up to your style, intention and intuition.

Step 3) Stick

As you would expect, this is where you take the board in front of you, along with your adhesive of choice, and adhere them to the board.  If you are using glue, allow plenty of time to dry.

Note:  Don’t worry if you have blank space on your board!  That just gives you room for growth!  Our dreams and goals are always evolving, so it would only make sense that you board does too!


 Step 4) Placement

A vision board will not work if it is hidden in your closet, tucked away in a box.  The key is to be able to SEE it on a regular basis.  Your office, bedroom or bathroom are popular places.  Every month or so, move it to a different location so it stays fresh.  At least once or twice a year, look to see what is on the board that you are close to achieving.  Some boards work right away.  Others may take years depending on the goals.  I have a couple of boards that are almost completely accomplished, and others that I am still working towards.

What’s that?  You can have more than one?!  Absolutely.  Especially if you have lots of goals in different areas of your life.  I have found Pinterest to be like a digital Vision Board.  The only problem is when you have too many pins, you aren’t seeing them on the regular.  In that case it is necessary to take time to review your pins to keep your ideas and goals front and center!


Have you made a vision board in the past?  What will you put on this one?  Are you wanting more of a general life board or specific area of your life goals?  Share with me below!  You can even share a picture if you want to!

Goals & Growth

5 Ways to Change Your Thoughts

Does the little voice in your head have a story it likes to tell?  Or an underlying theme to the chatter that tells you all the reasons why you can not do something, or why it will never work, or that no one will like your work enough to pay money for it?  First, tell that voice to sit down, and shut up.  That voice is trying to protect you from getting hurt.  But what it doesn’t realize, is that by doing so it is hurting you.

It’s time to retrain your thoughts.

  1. Become aware of your “story”.  What is the common thread in your life?  What stories do you tell over and over?  “There is not enough (time, money, love, etc)”, or “Poor me, I am always the victim.”  Try to record a few of your conversations.  See if you can pick up on a theme that “holds you back”.  Ask a trusted, honest friend what they think your self sabotage tool of choice is. Start journaling so you have something to look back through to find your “story”.
  2. Make a list of the things you really truly like about yourself.  Shoot for at least 10 things, even if you really have to stretch to complete the list.  Hang the list on your bathroom mirror.  Add to the list at least once a month.change+your+mind
  3. Take note of the people you spend the most time with.  You become like the top 3-5 people you spend the most time with each week.  If they are not positive people, it will be hard for you to be positive as well.  Make the effort to surround yourself with solid role models with values you admire.

  4. Think about the music or media that you watch or listen to each day.  Really listen to the lyrics, the messages, whether obvious or not.  Just as you become like the people you spend the most time with, you can also take on the mood of the media you spend time around consistently.
  5. Appreciate the gifts you already have.  If the Universe does not think you appreciate what you have so far, why would the Universe want to gift you with more?
    Who is the most positive influence you have in your life right now?  How often do you see that person?  What is your favorite song?  Do the lyrics have a significant meaning to you?  Tell me in the comments!