Monday, December 15, 2008

Survivor Gabon Finale

Yes, I watch Survivor. Religiously. It functions as a guilty pleasure for me, and I am not so sure I feel that guilty about watching it. Anyway, I can't stand the last tribal council because people who were voted off invariably come back and say unforgiving things to those who outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted them. And last night was no different.

There was this one woman, Corinne Kaplan, who I am ashamed to say is a Florida Gator (my hubby went to Florida, and I usually root for those who went to UF in all things). Anyway, she said what has to have gone down as the meanest thing ever said on reality TV: "Sugar (yes, that is the name of one of the contestants), you are unemployed, uneducated, and a leech on society. All that I would vote to give you is a handful of antidepressants, so that you can seem more sincere when you're crying about your dead father." Well, maybe it wasn't that VERBATIM, but it was pretty darn close.

That comment knocked me back a mile. Wow, Sugar had lost her dad only 5 months before the show started, and was obviously still processing her grief while on Survivor. This woman's comment was so un-loving and hateful, and so completely unnecessary. What was she thinking? And then, on the reunion show, she was given a chance to apologize by Jeff Probst. When asked if she had any regrets, Corinne replied, "It was like being stuck out there with a colicky baby!" In other words, "No regrets. I am a true bitch, through and through."

Wow. I did not realize people like that existed in this world. I thank my lucky stars that everyone I magnetize into my sphere is loving and lovable. Corinne must be carrying around a great deal of self-hatred to behave like that, and to "enjoy" behaving like that. Talk about unconscious. She was definitely crowned Empress Bitch of Survivor last night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My first Aromatherapy Class at Pavia...

Okay, I'm finally doing it. All that money spent on Aromatherapy education is not going to waste. I am teaching my first class on it, called "Holiday Aromatherapy," on December 14, 2008. We are going to make holiday-scented diffuser blends, bath salts, body oils, room sprays, and carpet powders. We are also going to have a blast - yes, that's on the agenda too.

Here are the details:

Date: Sunday, December 14, 2008
Time: 5:30 to 7:30pm
Place: Pavia
Cost: $35 (includes all the goodies you get to take home)
RSVP: 408-741-1555 to sign up!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Beside" myself...

Lately I've been coughing up a storm. And not to gross anyone out, but stuff was coming up and it was....well, gross. Hacking away at work, at home, especially whenever I lay down flat on my back (i.e., to go to sleep), just had me feeling totally beside myself.

Which brings me to this rumination: what does it mean to be "beside" oneself? Is it like, I've stepped out of my body and I am sitting next to it watching it suffer? Or is it, I am so discombobulated that I am out of my mind (which could be a good thing) and disembodied, even? Well, these stream of consciousness rantings come as the culmination of several sleep-disturbed nights, that is for sure.

Last night, however, I did something as a last resort that seemed to help right away. I took a drop of Thyme oil on a teaspoonful of honey, and then I put a drop of Ravensara oil on a square of paper towel and held it over my nose. Then I went back to bed, and counted the seconds until I coughed again. I was like a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse as I lay there, watching, waiting, tensed up to cough.

But it never came, and the next thing I know, I am awakened by the sound of the tree-cutters working next door. So I guess it worked! Yay! My husband said it was the first truly "quiet" night he had heard since I first contracted the cough, so this could be good for him too. Poor guy, has had to put up with a phlegm-spewing and lungee-coughing wife for over a week now. He ought to be canonized.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pavia Meditation 101 Seminar, 11/10/08.

It seems like all we hear is bad news on a daily basis. The economy is in turmoil, big, trusted companies like GM are running out of cash, respected investment banks like Lehman Brothers have gone out of business completely, and the government has put together a $700 billion bailout program for the banking industry that will cost each taxpayer about $8K in debt.

(Where is the government when small businesses need them, I wonder? I would not mind a bailout *wink*. But that is neither here nor there.) Actually, I don't need a bailout, because I have unlimited abundance and I create my own reality. And, I know how to meditate and anchor my life in harmony and peace.

This is why I asked my staff soul therapist, Theresa Hatcher, to give a session called Meditation 101. We know that times are tough for our spa clients, too. But perversely, we know they especially need relaxation right now, and do not feel they can afford it. So, we put together a "Meditation 101" seminar that will introduce them to two meditation techniques....and meditation is free, once you learn how to do it, and you can access that inner peace and harmony anytime.

Here are the details:
Date: Monday, 11/10/08
Time: 6:30pm to 9pm
Place: Pavia
Your host: Theresa Hatcher
Cost: $30 (but includes Theresa's "Meditations of the Heart" CD, which is a $22 value alone)
RSVP: 408-741-1555, or email

The list is filling up fast, so RSVP soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wow, I am so happy.

Watching Jesse Jackson's face last night in the crowd and listening to Obama's victory speech, I felt so indescribably happy. It does not matter that as a small business owner I am normally Republican, or that I would have voted for McCain had he chosen a more palatable VP candidate, I was just happy at the change that America has gone through. Electing Obama says that we as a nation are willing to change, to release old patterns of consciousness, to evolve into something better, to live up to the standards that we set for ourselves so long ago. Watching him on TV and all the jubilant faces in the crowd, I felt a surge of hope that I have not felt at any presidential election since I first voted for Clinton in 1992. Since then my voting track record has been a bit....well, no self-judgments necessary. Let's just say I voted for Bush twice.

Anyway, I am excited and positive and hopeful. We've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I got lashed!!!!

Okay, I am really excited, perhaps unjustifiably so. But I got lash extensions today from my employee, esthetician Kristine Van Tassel, and I just love them! Wow, what a difference! No wonder I've always been so jealous of those with naturally long lashes...your eyes just look so much sparklier when you have long lashes!

Here are some before and after pics (hopefully, I don't have to say which is before and which is after!!!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Doing my part for the economy!

Okay, let's not buy into the fear! I know things seem scary, but if we also realize that we, as a collective human race, created our reality, then we also realize we have the power to change things. We can create a different, and more prosperous, future for ourselves.

So I decided go shopping! If we all went and spent some money, we enrich each other and we can get ourselves out of this mess. Of course, what I spent was a drop in the bucket...$513 at Anthropologie on new work clothes...but it was the energy behind it that mattered. As I put down my debit card, I thought to myself, "I am unafraid to spend...spending with others increases the energy around others spending with me."

And I feel so confident in my new clothes, and they are so fashionable. They are sooooo worth it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The husband bought me a scale....

and I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse. Of course, I asked for it. I told him it would motivate me to lose the twenty extra pounds I've been carrying around for 10 years. Except when I got the scale, it said that I actually weigh THIRTY more pounds than I should. And now I'm de-motivated. 20 seems like a surmountable number, but 30....might as well not even try. Haha.

And it's one of those "Biggest Loser" scales......which means it allegedly does percentage of body fat measurements, too. But every time I step on, it says "Er03," and when I look up what that means in the manual, it says that the "impedance" is too strong, and my body fat is immeasurable. Wow, great. I surmise that that means I have SO MUCH body fat it is immeasurable, and the scale doesn't even know where to begin. Lovely!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lash Me, Baby!

I am bringing Lash Extensions into Pavia. For a long time I wrestled with this decision, given our focus on "Sanity, Not Vanity." But my short lashes drive me IN-sane, and I know it's 100% ego-driven. But I have always longed to get my fringe on, and I know many Pavia clients agree with me.

So, I am making the one exception to vanity that I can. No, I cannot articulate even a single health benefit of having lash extensions, except maybe that a set of raven's wings lashes will help me....keep more dust out of my eyes? Ahem. I know. I'm reaching.

But let me tell you, getting one's fringe on is a high-maintenance thing. The initial set is $220, and takes the esthetician 2 hours as she painstakingly bonds each and every synthetic lash onto each and every real eyelash. Apparently, it doesn't make lashes any thicker, just longer. Obviously, if there is no lash to bond to, then it can't be simply glued to the skin. The first follow-up session is free, provided it is scheduled for within 2 weeks of the initial set, but then a follow-up every 2 to 4 weeks after THAT is required. We will charge $75-100 per follow-up, because it could take 45 minutes to an hour of her time.

And then, every 3 months, another set has to be put on...sigh. I know I will be first in line, but I don't know if I can sustain the upkeep that is required. On the bright side, there's always Revitalash....

Friday, September 26, 2008

I just couldn't do it.

Nope, I didn't get my Amazon Rainforest at the MGM Grand Spa after all. I just couldn't justify spending the $280 plus built-in 20% gratuity of $56. I just felt so....irresponsible that I could not do it.

But I do so badly need a massage, so I am getting one tomorrow at Pavia, plus a facial. For the same $336, I am getting an hour massage, an 80-minute facial, and eyebrow and lip wax. And my people are waaaaayyyyyy better than any hotel or resort spa, simply because they cater to locals and we all care that they come back.

I also didn't sleep well in Vegas, for some reason. The lights outside the MGM are an eerie green, and all night long I would toss and turn and stare out the window at them, reflecting on my life. Vegas in general seems like such a hollow place for me now, whereas I used to love love love it! How strange that I've grown out of gambling, drinking, clubbing, partying, and gambling some more.

I used to think nothing of losing $300, back when I was a student and losing just my loan money. Now that I work so hard to earn it, I can't even stomach the thought of putting down $10 for a hand of blackjack......I keep thinking to myself, "$10!! That's a movie! That's 1.5 to 2 hours of entertainment and I would lose it in 2 minutes here!"

Yup, I've become a turnip, for sure.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vegas, baby!

Well, I flew into Vegas today for business (for my high-tech marketing consulting practice, that is), and am staying at the MGM Grand. I figured, why not avail myself of the spa services here? After all, I haven't ventured out and tried a new place in a while. In fact, I haven't had a treatment since that RIDICULOUSLY GOOD facial Kristine VanTassel gave me at my own spa on Sunday, 9/14. Yup, I'd say that 1 week is too long to go without a good spa treatment. :-)

So, I scheduled an "Amazon Rainforest" ritual tomorrow at the spa here. Can't wait can't wait. Among the other attractions, the spa's web site here plays soothing music. And THIS is how the service is described:

Amazon Rainforest Ritual (100 Minutes)
This healing ritual contains Plantain and Cocoa Powders, and a South American herb called "Una de Gato", used for many years to stimulate the immune system and to reduce inflammation. The rhythmic massage uses Cocoa butter or Passion Flower oil.

But DAMN! It's expensive. It's $280, plus a mandatory 20% tip!! So it's a whopping $336, and do you know how much you could get for that at my spa?!? An hour massage, an hour facial, a Gardener-manicure and a Lavender & Lemongrass pedicure! So, what would buy you 4 hours at Pavia buys you 100 minutes here. Sheesh!! It better be good! I will update later, after I've lost an arm and a leg to the spa.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A facial so good, it was ridiculous!

I had a facial yesterday with Kristine VanTassel, my newest esthetician. It was SO good, it was ridiculous. Ridiculously good. Everything was perfect, her touch, her massage, her extractions, everything, EVERYTHING! I can't say enough about her, I am just so honored to have her on my staff!

FINALLY! An esthetician who is my perfect ten! I know we all have different preferences, but this facial was the closest to my ideal experience that I have ever had. Kristine has IT. I mean, I think all of my esthetics staff have been very good facialists (otherwise they would never have made it through my screening process), but I did not actually audition Kristine because I had my lead esthetician, Sushila, try her out first. Sushila gave her the thumbs up, and I have to agree! Two thumbs, way way up! I wish I had more thumbs, I'd give her 3!

I looked in the mirror this morning and my face was almost glowing. I pretty much did not even have to put makeup on...I had the cleanest pores and the freshest complexion and I was just so thrilled. I am so glad she joined my staff and isn't out there on her own would be HARD to compete with this woman!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Neverending Quest for the Perfect....Massage Lotion?

You would not think that massage lotion would be a difficult thing to settle on at a spa, but believe me, when the egos and opinions of seven different massage therapists are in play, it can become a hornet's nest.

We had been using Soothing Touch for a while, which seemed to be a great choice for both clients and therapists alike, and everything was hunky-dory. And before I went to go and knock everything out of whack, I mayhap should have just asked myself, "If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?" Well, the reason WHY was that Soothing Touch was not organic. It contains such chemicals as Diazolidinyl Urea, a compound that was recently classified as IARC-1 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer - IARC 1 means it is a known human carcinogen - as well as parabens (both methyl and propyl), as well as TEA stearate.

And I'll be damned if all I'm going to do is talk the talk and not walk the walk. That is in no way, shape, or form the kind of person I am. So, I decided to stop getting Soothing Touch and go get Bon Vital. Oh my good Lord, what a hot mess that was. Everybody hated it, saying it was slimy, smelled like old sweat, you name it, that was a complaint about that product. "But it is organic!" I protested. "Well, it's unusable," was the reply.

So I hunted around some more and found a wonderful, all-organic brand called Sacred Earth Botanicals. What a great combination! Vegan massage lotion, only the purest and most natural ingredients in it, and when I got some for the staff to try, they LOVED it! The best of both worlds, right? Well, sort of.

I was afraid they would like it, actually, because that sucker is 45% more expensive than Soothing Touch and twice as expensive as Bon Vital (yes, the sweat-smelling organic lotion). At $54.95 per gallon, this stuff will put me in the poorhouse, so to speak.

Well, what can I say? It's important to me that we use only the best products on our clients, they deserve nothing less than that commitment. If we represent ourselves as an organic spa, then doggone it, we're going to be one, even if my massage lotion costs double. So that's what we did...we've arrived at the end of our quest, we've passed Go a hundred times, we are sipping, at long last, out of our grail.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I am excited that we are going to announce this month that Pavia will be offering BodyTalk Access services. I am so excited about my staff member, Claire Stringer, a BodyTalk Access Technician, performing these services.

Seems like such a simple methodology, just tapping on one's heart and crown chakra, and yet it has done such amazing things for so many people. Claire explained to me that tapping the heart and the crown chakra helps the body "remember" how to heal itself, strengthening the mind-heart connection that gets broken every day through the stress that we modern day human beings incur. Or rather, subject ourselves to, because I think it is a choice.

This morning I got up and heard a frightening thing: Tom Brokaw's voice saying, " least 4 airliners were hijacked, I repeat, at least 4 airliners were hijacked this morning..." I froze while brushing my teeth. Every hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood up. It was like the nightmare was back from 7 years ago, when my husband was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and I had no idea whether he was dead or alive, and all I could see was a pile of rubble.

I ran outside into the living room and saw that it was a minute-by-minute reliving of 9/11/01. But in that split second before I figured it out, I could feel the stress and adrenaline rushing through me, and I was ready to fight or flee. That was for sure. It just seems that some people spend all their lives in that fight or flight mode - maybe that explains some Yelpers - and of course the mind-heart connection is completely broken.

So if tapping helps it, then I'm all for it. It's completely simple and effective, and you can do it for yourself anytime you want. Now I just want to know if there is a tapping methodology for getting my body to lose weight! ;-)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I deleted some posts.

A one-star Yelp review posted by paris h. made me more closely examine my previous posts. She said that I was insulting clients on my blog, and that woke me up because I had never perceived it that way.

But Claire and Sushila, two wonderful members of my staff, got me to see that I was being defensive in my blog. At first, I protested that I had started the blog in the first place to tell the other side of the story, the side that Yelp doesn't allow you to tell, the side that malicious Yelpers also don't mention. Like the fact that they have never visited your spa, for example. I also did it to stand up for my staff, who were insulted in certain Yelp posts and called stupid.

Anyway, when I went back and read the posts, I could see I was being defensive. I could see that I was emotionally charged when I wrote them, and so what I want to say to paris h. from Yelp is: You are right. I was being emotional and unprofessional. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I accept this and I will change.

I realized I was so focused on the unfairness and negativity in the reviews, I was lowering myself to the vibrations of the people who posted them in the first place. And that is not where I want to devote my energy, so thank you for reminding me of that.

And to Claire and Sushila, thank you for sharing your wisdom and opinions with me. I know I have a tendency to shoot the messenger sometimes, so I appreciate your tenacity. See, I do listen!

Thanks for making my newsletter a success!

One of my favorite ways to market to my clientele is via newsletter. I've grown the list to almost 2,500, and have had a great deal of positive feedback about the issues. I don't just ram promos down their throats, because that's not providing anything useful...that's just pandering for business. I take the time to write informative articles about health issues and how spa services address those health issues. I also use the newsletter as a forum where clients can tell me their opinions. If you want to check out past issues, here they are (I am keeping this month's issue a secret because I want to keep the promo for newsletter members only).

August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

That's it.

Well, this past weekend was a joyful one in my family. My brother, Oliver, got married to a wonderful woman named Anika May. Okay, not just Anika May, but Dr. Anika May - she is a first year resident going into Family Practice medicine. The event went off perfectly in Sacramento, CA, and although it was hotter than the 9th circle of hell on 8/29 during the rehearsal, by the time 8/30 (the wedding day) rolled around, it was only 94 degrees out and I barely broke a sweat.

Okay, so this is the part where I said, "That's it, I've had it." Check out this picture of me posing with my new sister-in-law and my first cousin. I look like a beached whale! I am tipping the scales at a whopping 140 or so pounds and for the first time, it shows and I am tired of it. That's it! I'm going on a diet, I am going to stick to it, and I am going to lose 20 pounds. There's nothing like getting your self-esteem steamrolled in a bridesmaid dress to motivate you, huh?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics: Pleasure & Pain

I've had Olympics fever for the last several nights. Ever since it started, I've been up until 2:30 in the morning gobbling up every moment, from Phelps' golds to the men's gymnastics surprise to the women's gymnastics meltdown. I *love* the Olympics - I always feel so inspired and happy to watch the culmination of so many years of hard work, determination, and perserverance. I feel like it is a time when we can celebrate each other's achievements. I am just as elated to see an American athlete achieve their dreams as any other nation's athletes. After all, people are people and we all want the same things for ourselves, our families, and our children.

So that's why the photo of the Spanish basketball team slanting their eyes in an advertisement hurt me so much. I even commented publicly on a blog about it. This is what I wrote:

"When I saw the photograph of the Spanish basketball team slanting their eyes, I felt extremely hurt and saddened. As a Chinese-American growing up in Georgia and in Pennsylvania, I remember painful moments during childhood when classmates tormented me with this very gesture. They pulled at the corners of their eyes and said, "Me Chinese, me play joke, me put pee pee in your Coke!" I always went right to the bathroom to cry secretly in the stalls, and would do so again later at night before going to sleep. I remember feeling different, less worthy, less good-looking, and certainly like I did not belong. I fully understand and credit that the players were not attempting to offend, insult, or injure, but as we all know, what we think we are saying or intending does not always reflect what others are receiving. The Olympics is supposed to build bridges between cultures and nations, not tear them down. This gesture highlights differences between the Caucasian and Asian races, rather than trying to unify us as a human race."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Featured in Renew Magazine. Cool!

When I got in on Friday I had a message from a Dana DeLaurentis (sp?), owner of a Chicago-based day spa. She said she had read about me and our new spa cancellation policy in this month's issue of Renew magazine and had questions to ask me. I called her back (she was pleased and surprised - but I told her we spa owners have to stick together), and it turns out that we were in an article called "20 Ultimate Spa Business Boosters" and we were #6. So cool!

I had NO idea that we were going to be published in a nationwide magazine. No one called or interviewed me to ask me any questions, but I guess the author of the article subscribes to my newsletter because she quoted me directly from there. I got really curious and went online to search for it and voila! Click here if you want to read it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So relaxed after ACUPUNCTURE.

I am so tired right now and so relaxed that I could crawl under my desk here at work and fall asleep. I had an acupuncture session this afternoon with Anne Dugan, L.Ac. of Sunnyvale (123 S. Murphy Avenue, 408-245-4820), and I never thought it would put me under this way. She only put 5 or so needles in me...but I had an amazing nap there and have basically spent the rest of this afternoon in a continued haze. I still can't remember what my name is as I type.

Oh gosh, how am I going to make it to my staff meeting tonight at the spa? I may just close up, jump on a massage table, and snooze 'til morning...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mare at 17...and 36.

I was rummaging through a box of high school memories the other day, and came across a pic of myself at seventeen years old, taken in the summer after high school graduation. I thought I'd post it for fun and for self-serving purposes. Fun because, haha, who doesn't like showing pictures of themselves at seventeen, when they were young, dumb, and didn't know any better. And self-serving because, well, I really don't look that much different at 17 than I do now at 36, almost 19 years later. Of course, there is the fact that back then, my eyebrows were unkempt and the hair above my upper lip was positively...manly. Or that I am definitely about 25 pounds heavier now, and it shows in my fuller face! But substantively, I am still recognizable in these photos as Mare. I think it's a great testament to the efficacy of regular facials (which I started at age 20).

So if you haven't started getting facials yet...what are ya waitin' for???? Life is long!

Friday, June 27, 2008

About Tipping

This is a tough topic for me. I can see it both ways, now that I've owned a spa for the last 5 years. Actually, I can see it three ways, because there ARE three perspectives: the client, the technician, and the spa owner.

This is how I feel as a client: "I'm already paying $100-$150 for my (insert your service here). If I have to put a 15-20% tip on top of that, then my bill is skyrocketing to $115 - $180. It costs way more than at a restaurant ($115 - $180 is a meal for 3-4 people), so I don't really want to tip that much. Besides, these therapists make a lot more than minimum wage, unlike the wait staff at a restaurant who depend on gratuities to make a living."

"I work hard. Giving a one-hour massage is the equivalent of working out for an hour. Unlike the wait staff at a restaurant, I actually had to go to school to develop my skills. And as a trained professional, I had to pay for a license as a (insert your profession) to gain the knowledge of (insert skin care, anatomy, nail care, sanitation, as appropriate) in order to provide therapeutic services. So I definitely deserve a tip!"

Ugh. Talk about monkey in the middle. I can't stand when my technicians look eagerly in their tip boxes to fish out their gratuity envelopes, only to turn away in disgust when a) their client has not tipped them; or b) their client has not tipped them "enough." To me, any amount greater than $0 is a blessing because a) it could have been $0; b) some cultures do not tip - in fact, most cultures don't, including those in Europe and Asia; and c) a tip is supposed to be an expression of appreciation for a service. It should not be expected, it should be earned. And most of all, it should be appreciated by the receiver.

Of course, tipping is a big part of a technician's income. I think I figured out that tips are about 25% to 33% of their paychecks each month, so that is a huge deal to them. It's also a huge deal to me because I pay an additional 13.45% of their tip in payroll taxes, without receiving ANY economic benefit from their tip. And that's BEFORE any credit card charges are figured in either. It is literally a straw that can break the camel's back.

So from a financial perspective, I am on the fence about it. Sometimes I think, "Don't tip! If you tip, I'll have to pay taxes on that tip." Other times I think, "No, tip them...they work darn hard and do an outstanding job and deserve the extra money."

But bottom one should *expect* a tip. EVER. And when they get one, they should be grateful. And when you, the client, come to our spa, you should NEVER feel like you are obligated to leave a tip, unless you really really enjoyed your service and want to let your technician know it.

So there are my two cents on tipping.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stress, Digestion, and Plane Seat Assignments.

Bear with me: I am having one of those stream of consciousness days. What can I say, I am on my cycle, so it is going to be a barely coherent blog entry. My husband was getting ready to leave for Orlando this past Saturday, and he wanted to secure his seat assignment on the way back. He called up the airline (think it was American), who told him that if he wanted to secure his own seat assignment on-line, then it would be free, but that if he was going to call up and have his seat assigned by an agent, then there would be a charge. My husband replied, "Well, if I had been able to do it on-line, I certainly would have, but it isn't letting me."

Wait a second, that wasn't my point. My point was that they're even taking this vestige of customer service away from us! How many more human interactions are going to be reduced in the name of corporate profits? We don't go to tellers anymore, we go to ATMs. We don't really call up airline agents anymore, we book tickets and fares online. We don't even talk to a live human being when we have a question about our electric bill before we punch a long string of numbers into the keypad or listen to an interactive voice response system that has me (usually) shouting "NO! NO! NO!!!!!" at the top of my lungs into the phone. And even that isn't really my point. So let me get to it: with less and less human interaction, human touch is even more important. Trust me, we are here on this Earth for each other, and no other reason. I don't care if you had all the blessings in the world, money, cars, clothes, your health, toys, private jets, land, buildings, mansions, yachts, it would not be worth one iota to you if you were the last human being alive.

It breaks my heart to think of all the people who go through life without sufficient human touch. And our lives are getting more complicated, not less. Truly. I was doing herbal consultations all night long at our Midsummer Night's Dream spa party, and what do you think most people wanted as their customized tea blend? EVERY SINGLE CLIENT I saw said she had trouble with stress, anxiety, and digestion. EVERY SINGLE ONE. What does that tell me? Well, we all know stress leads to indigestion. Of course it does, because all the resources that are normally used to properly digest food are being diverted to galvanize us into action, to achieve more and deliver sooner and accelerate our advancement in...whatever....faster. So every single blend I made was pretty much nervine (valerian root, skullcap, chamomile) and digestant (peppermint leaf, licorice root, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and marshmallow root). I had oodles and oodles of juniper berries left over! Okay, I am digressing again.

Anyway, this all means that spas are more relevant in this day and age. And not just any spa. I am not talking about the kind where you pay to get a MACHINE to work on you. I am talking about the kind where a real person, a human being with a talent for creating a healing sanctuary and the attention to detail to tailor it to your needs and the skills and training to perform a therapeutically excellent service gives you an hour of bliss.

I never understood these spas with machines and such. Why do people pay to be zapped, squeezed, injected, lasered, or rubbed by an electronic device anyway? I never got that and I never will. That's not a spa, that's a....that's what we call torture in some countries.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A beautiful Midsummer Night's Dream.

It's 11:21pm, and I have just gotten home from our spa solstice celebration: A Midsummer Night's Dream. It went splendidly, with all 18 clients leaving extremely happy. I must say, as fun as it is for the clients, it is equally fun for the staff. It really is true that when you give, you also receive (if not more so).

Claire was solidly booked for the night, with all 9 of her available slots taken by clients interested in learning more about BodyTalk Access. Next was Sarah, ever popular with the mini-massage. So popular, in fact, that we had to co-opt Annie into doing quite a few of them as well. Shelly did mini-facials, with Annie backing her up, Sushila and Teri did Tarot, and I did all the herbal consultations and custom herbal teas (because poor Bridget had a death in her immediate family and had to pull out).

The most rewarding parts of the night were when a client named Stephanie said to me, "You have a great staff! They are all just so wonderful." And another client, Donna, who came all the way from Florida, said, "Your business should just be doing fabulous. There is such a loving energy here, you can really feel it." Oh goodness, it meant so much to me to hear that. My heart was full to bursting.

I didn't realize my little manager-on-duty Julia was such a great cook and an obvious Foodie. She made watermelons with balsamic, feta, and mint! Good Lord, that is a concoction that I would never in a million years think of throwing together. I guess this is how you find out about your staff's hidden talents! Phew, I am exhausted, but really happy. What a great midsummer celebration it turned out to be.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I have a great staff. :-)

I was really touched on Saturday and today by the caring hearts and minds of my staff. On Saturday, a client called same-day to cancel, and instead of being upset at this client, the technician that was affected said that the client was going through a difficult time and we should not charge her our cancellation fee. This particular client had gone through the death of a spouse and whenever she does come to the spa, she spends a lot of time during her treatment crying.

Immediately, when this story was related to the staff members standing nearby, these other staff members volunteered to do healing work on her, whether massage, Reiki, or just general take-care-of-the-client services. I was so touched I started tearing up myself at their willingness to expend their precious energy healing someone else for no money.

And then again tonight, we had a client faint twice during her time at our spa. There was an army of staff surrounding this client, getting her juice and food, putting cold towels on her, holding her hand. It really made me so proud to hear how much concern my staff had for her, and to watch all of their faces bearing those angelic, loving expressions. They were really ready to jump through hoops to ensure this person's health, safety, and good experience. I *know* that anyone who does come to us is getting wonderful service. I know that for a fact, and I am so proud and honored to be working with such people.

It's days like these that I get to see their true colors and I really like what I see. I hope all my clients see this as well, and appreciate them for the gems they are.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I have never terminated a single employee in the last 5 years of owning the spa. This past month, I terminated two. Talk about gut-wrenching, unpleasant, yucky, stressful, sad....just "ugh."

I have always put people first, even if it is at my own expense, or that of my business. I attempt to be flexible, understanding, even-keeled, and lenient. I think that gets taken advantage of, big-time. I was saying to one employee that instead of, "Three strikes you're out, I'm more like 25 strikes and then you're out." The employee said back to me, "No, Mare, you're 25,000 strikes and then you might get a slap on the wrist." That's a very telling statement, and eye-opening, to say the least. If that is how I am perceived, then no wonder I experienced all these problems.

I had this one employee who was chronically tardy. You could basically count on her to be tardy at least once or twice a week, and she only worked four days a week. I mean, come on. How hard is it to be on time? But I put up with it, giving her verbal warnings and my version of "tough love." Did it work? No. The problem only got worse. It got so bad, in fact, that a client stormed out of the spa in a fury because this particular person showed up more than 30 minutes late to her appointment. It made us look ghetto and low-class. I don't blame that client in the least. I probably would have done the same thing myself.

The other employee, well, I have this habit of tolerating "physical limitations." Other spa owners could care less if you're in pain or hurting, you are going to be working your entire shift no matter what. Business is business, after all. Well, not me. If someone came to me and said, "Mare, I don't feel well, can I leave after my last appointment?" I usually say "Yes." My rationale is, if you're in pain, you're not giving a good service anyway. Secondly, it's less of a workers' compensation risk to let that person go home, even if it means turning away same-day business.

Well, I went away Memorial Day weekend, and this other employee asked to be let out early. When the front desk did not accommodate her request, she went ballistic. She said, and I quote (well, this is secondhand, of course): "F--- this shit! F--- this place! I am so over this place." Wow. When I heard that, I was on my way to a wedding in Washington, D.C., and my heart sank into my stomach and made a hole there. Even worse, it was a client who told me that she had overheard this while sitting in our lobby!

I felt mortified. I felt furious! I felt ... pretty much worse than I've felt in a long time. So, needless to say, I had to terminate that employee as well.

I don't choose to run my business this way anymore, or treat my clients this way. They deserve better, and they will get better. If it means I have to toughen up, then so be it, I will toughen up. I have never wanted to be one of those employers who just mowed through employees, but I think I need to a) manifest the right people in the first place and b) remain conscious and true to my clients. I had hoped that by taking care of my employees, they would, in turn, take care of my clients. But that is evidently not the case.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Odds and Ends

Wow, I am surprised at how much support my 1-star review of Yelp has gotten. Lots of compliments, sympathetic private emails, and even 12 Useful, 4 Funny, and 6 Cool tags. Just goes to show you that when one person thinks a certain way about you, at least 10 others do as well. Which is why we have to be careful about pissing clients off...they'll also go TELL 10 people about it.

In this particular case, that of Ms. Angela Frenkel, it is a totally different story. I am just amazed that a person exists in the world who can hold a grudge for so long over something that never actually happened. I think that must actually be a real skill of some sort.

Well, onto happier topics. The May 18th spa party was so successful that we are doing another one June 22nd. This time, we're calling it Midsummer Night's dream, and it will be a Tarot/Dream/Herbology/Energy party, mostly. Details are in our June newsletter, that I just killed myself to get sent out yesterday (June 3rd).

What with consulting 28 hours per week at NetApp and finishing up my Master Herbalist classes and also finishing up ROI models for two telecom clients, I don't even have time to go to the bathroom, let alone write thoughtful, witty, and useful newsletters on time. Or blogs, for that matter. But I will do better!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yes, Yelp. I'm reviewing YOU.

This is the text of the review I put up on Yelp last night, ABOUT Yelp. Felt great to get it off my chest. But of course, Yelp has found a way to hide it already. Just par for the course.


"I never write one-star reviews. I figure, if I don't have anything good to say, I just won't say it. But as a conscientious business owner who cares about her clients and uses online reviews as a way to improve our services, I must openly deplore the lack of accountability on this web site. I mean, people can give you reviews for not even ever having set foot in your business, simply because they have a personal grudge or vendetta against you.

I know this, because Yelp has allowed a review from a certain Angela F. to be posted about my business. Little does Angela F. realize that by posting her picture, I recognized her as the woman who first came to my spa in tight leather pants held together by safety pins trying to sell me spa consulting services. I even did her the favor of referring her to someone else. Fast forward a couple years, she applies for a front desk position, and I do not respond to her (as I do not respond to about 99 of the 150 applications that I received for the same position). She, not to be outdone, comes onto Yelp to give us a 2-star review and how if people want to "overpay and leave dissapointed [sic]," they should come to our spa. All I've got to say is, "Lady, I am sorry for you because you are obviously at a dark place in your life. And secondly, please go take a spelling class. And thirdly, how have you ever overpaid when you haven't handed us a dime and the only times you ever came into my business were to try to sell ME something?" Can you spell: L I B E L?

And Yelp, of course, is unresponsive despite my flagging the review and explaining the situation, identifying the Yelper by first AND last name and phone number. Okay, fine. Don't respond to me. But then don't add insult to injury, having your ultra-unctuous marketing people calling and exhorting me to advertise on your low-classed, irresponsible web site. They are all so oily I want to go take a shower immediately after getting off the phone with them. So let me get this straight: you want to take my hard-earned money AND still allow libelous reviews to appear about my business that anyone who knows me knows that I put my HEART and SOUL into and lose many nights of sleep over?

Normally I am all about forgive and forget, personal growth, enlightenment, reaching Buddhahood, etc. etc. But your pettiness has to be pointed out...even calling your web site "Yelp!" is obviously encouraging users to complain and spread negativity into a world that has more than enough of it already. I wish I could give you negative stars, but alas, you even rigged that."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yay! More Good PR!

I just found this article about Pavia recently, and was extremely delighted to see it, having completely forgotten that it was going to be written. It was published in San Jose Magazine in the April edition, and the subject was "Spas Going Green," and I love the fact that the entire first section is devoted to PAVIA. No, I did not pay the reporter anything to have this placement, but yes, I did comp her a facial so that she could experience and have something substantial to report on. (Sorry to the grammar-phobes, I am aware I ended the previous sentence in a preposition. What the heck - can't be perfect.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Ego and 10-Year Reunions.

I have a pimple on my forehead so big it hurts. It throbs, in fact, and is doing so right now. Lovely. At least I can be grateful that it didn't manifest during my 10-year business school reunion, which transpired just this past weekend.

My ego would probably have killed itself if that had happened. My ego wanted me to appear as the youngest-looking woman there, first because I AM either the second- or third-youngest woman in my graduating MBA class, and second because I am Asian and therefore must represent the gene pool well, and third because I actually own a day spa, and therefore have no excuse to be showing up pimply anywhere. I even went and got a facial before I left...that's how egoistic I was acting.

Well, it was a great reunion, but somehow unsatisfying. Did I get to look great? Yes, but as with everything the ego desires, it wasn't fulfilling. Did I get enough COMMENTS from other people that I looked great? Well, no. Nothing is ever enough for the ego, and mine has a rapacious appetite for compliments. "Oh, it's the beautiful Maryling. You're still stunning, I see." That was the best one of the night, care of Barnaby Grist. Upon its utterance, I was so moved that I asked him to marry me, forgetting momentarily that I was already married.

It was unsatisfying because...well, because I didn't get to really have many deep conversations. I wanted to pull aside so many of the 200+ people in the room and find out every detail about their last 10 years that, well, I ended up only having somewhat short and stilted conversations with about 30 people or so. Oh well. There's always the 15-year, right?

I am off to the bathroom now to squeeze out my pimple. That's a no-no for the rest of you, by the way. Or at least, if you're going to do it, use Kleenex, not your fingernails.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May 18th Spa Party!

We haven't done a spa party in at least 4 years. I am so excited for this one, though, because we have so many cool things to offer this time. For $75 per guest, each guest receives:

* 3 mini-spa treatments (out of a choice of 6)
* A valuable gift bag
* Yummy food and drink
* Great company
* 10% off all retail purchases made that evening

So, I can't wait. We're calling the spa party, "MOM-ents," after MOM. Haha, get it? (I sure hope so). Each of the mini-spa treatments is called a "MOM-ent of ____," and we filled in the blank with "Peace, Rest, Bliss, Awareness, Truth," etc. etc. to describe the purpose of the treatment. (I thought it was clever, but maybe that's just because I thought of it.)

Here they all are:

* MOM-ent of Peace: A youth-ifying hand treatment that gives back vitality to your overworked hands. Includes our revolutionary Omega Peel treatment.

* MOM-ent of Balance: A super-relaxing Ayurvedic facial rejuvenation treatment that restores balance to your skin with a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha oil blend massage.

* MOM-ent of Bliss: A chair massage that includes a refreshing and uplifting Geranium and Ylang-ylang scalp rub.

* MOM-ent of Awareness: Want to try Bodytalk? Now's your chance to learn and experience this simple, yet extremely effective, form of energy medicine.

* MOM-ent of Allure: We show you how to create eye-catching peepers with our Colorescience mineral makeup and a simple three-step process.

* MOM-ent of Truth: Want some insight? Have a mini-Tarot-and-numerology reading that will shed light on your current life experiences.

Want to join us for an evening of fun and insight? Call us at 408-741-1555 to reserve a spot.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Still Acting Egoistically...The Only Difference Is...

I'm aware of it. Since reading Eckhart Tolle's book, I would say I became conscious. But what has surprised me is that it hasn't stopped me from continuing to behave out of my ego and my pain body. What is the point of being conscious if I am just going to repeat the same old patterns of behavior? Is it truly better that I am aware of it?

I recently had a situation where one of my favorite employees experienced a personal loss and family tragedy. This particular employee was going to leave in late May anyway, but she was so distraught that she decided to quit her job immediately without giving any notice, and without talking to me personally about her situation.

I noticed that I carried feelings of irritation and anger and disappointment about how it was handled. I said things out loud to myself like, "You just don't do that to an employer who has treated you so well. You just don't!" I wanted her to have said to me, "Mare, I'll give you 2 weeks notice," or "Mare, I really am in no emotional shape to work. Please, help me...let me leave the company early."

In the middle of ranting and raving about it to my best friend, I realized something important: that even were this employee to have given me two weeks' notice, I would not have accepted it anyway. Did I really want someone who was that emotionally fatigued and fragile to be working at my spa? No way. The other staff would notice and clients would notice and everyone would be affected adversely. So what was I so mad about?

Well, at its core, I just wanted her to observe the NICETY of giving me the two other words, I wanted her to quit on my terms, not on hers. And that is solely EGO. Hello, my old friend. You never do seem to go away, do you?

In any case, I want to say to this employee (and you know who you are): I wish you all the joy and abundance and happiness that life has to offer. Thank you for your wonderful work at Pavia. The time you gave us was cherished and held precious. Your warmth, your beautiful smile, your giving nature, all of those things were treasured by me and the other staff. I know that you will be successful at everything you do. May you heal and rest, and then may you flourish. I release any ill will, and I hold only loving energy for you here in my heart. Love, Mare

Saturday, April 5, 2008


It's bad enough that I have to worry about people coming to the spa for a service, not liking their experience, and then writing about it online and giving us a negative review. But I never thought I'd have to worry about someone who's NEVER been to our spa for a service whatsoever, never paid us a dime, and still went on Yelp to blast us! What am I talking about? I am referring to this 3/22/08 review of our spa, written by Angela F:

2 Stars: 1 for Great Website Design and 1 for Marketing Efforts, what ever else they could of gotten was dissolved by my in person experience -very dissapointing and misleading.

I wonder how they got Best Spa by anyone who actually visited them - starting from Obscure location in a dingy strip mall, small over stuffed space claiming to be a Day Spa for Relaxation, to say the least there is nothing that will want to make you spend a Day there.

Yet one thing for sure if you want to over pay and leave dissapointed visit Pavia "Day" Spa.

If I would give them any Award - it will be for Over Promising & Underdelivering...

How do I know that she's never been to our spa before? Because I know who she is, and her name is not in our database (she posted her picture on, and I recognized her). She called me three years ago asking to come talk to me about doing spa consulting for me. I agreed to a meeting, and then after meeting her, realized her skills were more appropriate for a larger spa (she specializes in creating healthy, nutritious menus for spa clients). So I referred her to a friend of mine who owns a much larger spa.

Then, fast forward to March 14, 2008, when she called Pavia to respond to an ad I had placed on Craigslist for an open spa coordinator position. Because I had already hired someone, and because I was overwhelmed with responses for that position, I did not contact her (or any of the other 56 people who had applied that I could not meet or hire). So clearly, she went onto to fulfill a personal grudge and smear our reputation.

This is why I really hate Yelp. You can't respond to negative reviews publicly, and no one who posts there has any accountability for what they write. Obviously, they can write stuff about your spa and never have even been there for a service. What actually really cracked me up was her statement that if you want to "overpay and leave dissapointed [sic - obviously, she's never won a spelling contest]," then go to Pavia. Haha, seeing as how she's never handed us a dime, I don't see how she overpaid for anything.

I did alert Yelp that this was a libelous review, and we will see whether they do the right thing. I trust that they will remove the review soon. And if they do not, I don't see that there is much I can do about it, unless I want to file a libel suit.

Well, I will just blog about this and then let it go. She is evidently in a difficult place in her life, and I feel only compassion for her. I will send her light during meditation and hope that illuminates the darkness within her.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cancellation, schmancellation.

Our cancellation policy is something I've wrestled with a long time. On the one hand, clients who don't give us any notice before cancelling or rescheduling their appointments hurt us a great deal. If you don't know until 10 minutes before their appointment that someone is not going to show up for their service, then you've held that slot and turned away others that you could have taken instead. So some amount of compensation for your lost revenue and the opportunity cost of replacement revenue seems in order.

On the other hand, clients get really PISSED when they are charged for services they did not receive. Sometimes, life is beyond our control, such as when our flights are delayed, or when we get into car accidents, have to go to the hospital, have family emergencies, and more. So I really do see it both ways. My therapists are really disappointed and upset when they are canceled on, and my clients are really angry when they are charged. It seems like goodwill is lost no matter what.

After thinking about it a long time, I decided to take a different approach from most spas. I passed it around to my 2,300+ newsletter clients, and a significant number of them wrote in to give me feedback on my new idea. And we arrived at something I think will work out well!

Basically, it goes like this: as a spa, we want repeat business. That means we're interested in a long-term relationship with our clients, not just one-night stands. So if life "happens" to them, then we want to be understanding of that fact. We WILL charge a 50% cancellation fee, but we will then allow the client to use 100% of that fee towards their next service, so long as it occurs within 3 months of the original appointment that was canceled. This way, the client doesn't "lose" the value of their money; they will simply have pre-paid for part of their next appointment. That preserves their goodwill, and meanwhile, it also ensures us that they will, indeed, come back (if they want to use up their credit on file).

So far, we've had good comments on this policy. We are implementing it starting this month, so we'll see how it goes!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fell off the wheel!

Future spa owners take note: don't take your bad mood to work. Your employees will get contaminated by it, they will think you are irritable, rude, and angry at them, and the spa's entire atmosphere will be permeated by it.

I should know: I made this mistake this past Saturday. I chose to react negatively to some of my staff showing up late, some of my other staff continuing to make the same mistakes as they have done in the past, and some of my other staff took my negative attitude personally. Oh, you could say I fell "off the wheel!" Where was my Eckhart Tolle training when I needed it?

I am still wrestling with my own ego and its position of ascendance. Some days I do feel completely open and peaceful, and other days, before I even know it, I am walking around under a nest of storm clouds. I guess it's just continuing to practice calling myself to awareness and understanding the emotions that are roiling around inside me AS they are roiling around, before they've caused suffering to others.

My spiritual teacher, Theresa Hatcher, often calls me "Little Buddha." I have to be worthy of the name, though! So I went back to the drawing board and flipped open Eckhart's book for a second read last night. I guess I would say I am still a "Buddha-in-Progress" at this point.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just gaw-geous!

Today was a wonderful day. I don't normally work Sundays, but I had an appointment with a couple today that I had to make customized aphrodisiac blends for, so I dragged my husband to the spa with me (since I don't get to spend much time with him except on Sundays).

On our way to Pavia, driving down Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, I felt a most blissful sensation, the most unutterable and profound joy that swelled up in my chest and made it full to bursting. It was the sight of those cherry blossom trees, the ones that bloom pure white and carpet the ground in pale pink and white petals in the springtime. At least, I think they're cherry blossom trees (I'm not sure). What I do know is I was just in awe of their beauty, and just so grateful to get to drive past them each day.

While at the spa, I got to welcome several clients and introduce them to my new herbal tea bar, which consists of 6 blends that I personally specified and had custom-formulated for Pavia. I just LOVE doing that. I LOVE introducing people to healthy ways of living, and seeing their reactions to herbs and realizing how helpful they can be.

Then I met my clients, and I started off by brewing them some aphrodisiac tea (our "Sensuali-Tea" blend consisting of rosebuds, damiana, nettles, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract). Then we created a custom aphrodisiac blend for the husband and wife together that they each really liked (what a charming couple they were). The gentleman settled on Sandalwood, Ylang ylang, Ginger, and Grapefruit, and it made for a very sensual, yet not too feminine scent. It smelled great. The wife's blend consisted of Sandalwood, Rose, Anise, and Peppermint, which was surprisingly fresh and yet sexy. I was getting very turned on myself. Hee hee! That was tons of fun.

I also showed them the differences between True Rose oil and Rose Perfume oil. I had them experience the real one and the fake one and watched, beaming, as it dawned on them that their own nose could help separate out the good stuff from the bad. I love that ah-ha moment that people have when they realize that their nose "knows" the difference!

Then after the appointment, my hubby and I went to Il Fornaio and had their "Tosto Francese," french toast smothered in berries and mascarpone cheese. I tell you, I was in heaven today right here on earth. Beauty in my eyes, beauty in my stomach. Life just can't get any better than this!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Think I've Pissed Off My Pineal Gland.

In my Master Herbalist class, we are studying the endocrine system this week. That is essentially the system of glands that secrete hormones that affect our bodies so profoundly. Anyway, I think I've learned the hard way that I may have run afoul of my pineal gland.

The pineal gland sits in the middle of your head, and it produces the hormones melatonin (at night) and serotonin (during the day). Some have called the pineal gland the "third eye" because it receives sensory information from the optic nerve, and the light and dark that comes through that nerve causes it to vary its output of melatonin (increasing at night and decreasing during the day). This may be why melatonin is thought to be intimately associated with our body's internal timekeeping mechanism. (Source: Structure & Function of the Body by Thibodeau and Patton).

While melatonin is not all that well understood, scientists believe that its effects are mostly restorative. It promotes sleep (which explains its use in sleeping pills), is a good antioxidant, appears to be able to inhibit cancer, and blocks the negative effects of estrogens. Okay, so now let's hold this thought for a second.

The other thing I learned is that all these cells doing all this work in our bodies generates our body's own electromagnetic field (EMF). It's not surprising that nerves and muscles require electromagnetic energy to function and do their jobs properly. So, it should not be surprising that man-made electrical fields can interfere (or at least impact) our own EMFs...and that constant exposure to large power lines, computers, or electric blankets can produce negative effects. EMFs are known to inhibit the body's nighttime release of melatonin. But if melatonin can be anti-cancer, then couldn't it be putting ourselves at increased risk of cancer if we disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycles or stay on the computer too long?

As a matter of fact, one study showed a correlation between breast cancer incidence and exposure to large power lines. And another study showed that there was an increased risk of breast cancer for women working night shifts (presumably the theory goes that their melatonin levels are off because they're working against the body's natural cycle). So, there may be some food for thought there.

Now, back to how I've offended my pineal gland. I've been unable to sleep well lately...I'll go to bed early enough (11pm or so), but I'll toss and turn and flail around like a beached whale and next thing I know, I stare bleakly at the clock and it says 2:00am. In fact, my IPod said it was 2:41 am when I turned it off last night. And here I was, up at 8:18am again this morning. My theory is that it's because I am glued to the computer all day long. At the spa, I sit in front of a computer. When I come home, I sit in front of the computer. Even when I'm watching TV or having dinner, I have a laptop on me! So I think I've screwed around with my EMF, which has screwed up my melatonin, which has caused me to be unable to sleep.

I am going to go cold turkey on computer use for a while (especially at night). No more after 8 or'll be hard to resist checking emails, but I need my sleep back!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smile from the Liver!

One of my favorite parts of "Eat Pray Love" was when Ketut Liyer, the Balinese medicine man, tells Elizabeth Gilbert, "Smile from the liver, Liss. You will have pretty power!" He was teaching her a simple smiling meditation, which is really very simple. It is just this: sit and smile. But smile from the liver.

I tried this technique, actually. Once you actually locate your liver, it becomes easier to do, and to imagine a big fat smile emanating from it. We also happen to be studying the liver this month in my Master Herbalist diploma class, and let me tell you, if your liver isn't working properly, you are f***ed. It's probably got the hardest job in your body after the heart. It is the main organ of detoxification, and everything you ingest...EVERYTHING...eventually makes its way to the liver to be cleaned. So for a lot of prescription medications to work, they have to come into your bloodstream in such large amounts that they are able to bypass the liver's natural cleansing mechanisms. Scary, huh?

Well, with all the toxins out there in today's complicated society, the liver works extra hard in all of us. Liver congestion means that the liver can't do its job properly, which means that you can have excess fat in the liver, essentially rendering it ineffective at performing its myriad functions. According to my coursework, signs of liver congestion can include headaches, indigestion, tiredness, apathy, a poor appetite, easy weight gain, and general muscle weakness and pain.

So what to do? A good liver cleanse to flush out that old liver never hurt anybody. And an easy way to do it is to take the juice of half a lemon and combine it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Drink it down first thing in the morning before breakfast...and DON'T have breakfast until more than an hour later. Do this for 3 days in a row, then take a break for 4 days, and start again for 3 days, and so on and so forth. Or if you don't like the slimy sensation of oil oozing down your throat, you can also imbibe lots of dandelion tea or coffee (it's called dandelion "coffee" when the "tea" is made with roasted dandelion roots, instead of just regular dandelion roots).

Your liver will say, "Thank you!" Oh yes, and it will also be smiling.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Egos, Sore Throats, and How Herbs Lead to Health and Happiness

My ego is always looking for ways to feel superior to other people. Years ago, it was that I had to be better educated, which is why I strove and strained to go to places like Stanford. Then, I had to be better-looking and recognized as such, and that's why I entered beauty pageants. Then, it was that I had to make more money, which is why I went back to Stanford to get an MBA and join the ranks of the 6-figure salaried luminaries.

Now that I own a spa, wherein my degree, good looks, and financial earning power have no use whatsoever (and perhaps do not even exist anymore), my ego is still looking for ways to feel better. And the mechanisms are really laughable: the other day, I found myself saying, VERY proudly, to an employee of mine who was sick, "I NEVER get sick. I can't remember the last time I was sick. I just have the strongest immune system." And in saying so, I purposely hugged her and touched her on the shoulder. And here is what was underlying that sentence: "I am better than you. You are sick and I am not, which means that I am MORE than you. Haha."

Well, as Providence would have it, I woke up the next morning with a sore throat. The kind that is scratchy, sore, and hurts when you swallow. The kind that makes you wish you didn't need your trachea for breathing, talking, or ingesting food or drink. Ow! My first thought was, "This serves me right." My second thought was, "What can I do to make this go away? I would prefer not to feel this way."

I dragged myself off to the kitchen to make myself a hot infusion of horehound and elecampane, both very good expectorants. I took a half-teaspoon of each and infused them in 8 ounces of steaming hot water. I took one sip and the bitterness of the brew nearly stopped me cold. I then pounded some rock candy into submission and dropped it into the cup, and then I had me some liquid Ricola (at least, that's what it tasted like). And then you know what happened?

My sore throat went away. It really did, I am not kidding, and I am not lying. I felt great the rest of that day and the next. The sore throat never did bloom into a full-on cold or flu or debilitating ailment, thank goodness. So, unlike my ego thinks, it's not really my immune system that keeps me healthy, it's good old knowledge of herbs and Nature's medicine chest.

So here's to HHH: Herbs, Health, and Happiness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

So excited!

I found a local herbalist in Campbell, CA. She got her Master Herbalist diploma from the same program I am currently attending, and she has the same birthday as I do! Well, okay, so she is 6 years younger. Her name is Bridget, and I have brought a lot of her products into the spa. They are absolutely fabulous and delicious. Can't wait to have our clients try them out.

The best part is that I'm supporting a local herbalist instead of one far, far away (like in Europe or NY or Seattle), and that the products are 100% pure and organic and natural, etc. etc. I like being able to understand the ingredient list exactly. For example, the Rose Tonic syrup contains: Dried organic red roses, vegetable glycerin 65%, and distilled water. I just love it!

We formulated several teas together, and I am going to start selling those too. She does herb walks as well, and when spring rolls around, that will be such a fun activity to offer clients. I can't wait, so fun so fun!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Appointments by IM?

Well, I've decided to try something new and different...again. I've decided to make it more convenient for clients to schedule appointments with us, this time over INSTANT MESSENGER! I remember how nice it was in my corporate job to be able to just send an IM over to a colleague instead of having to ring them up or climb up out of the chair to go talk to them. Hmm, perhaps this is why I also gained 20 pounds in corporate America too.

In any case, sometimes clients don't LIKE to ring us up on the phone to make an appointment. Sometimes, the client feels email takes too long. And sometimes, the client sits in a cubicle, and just plain doesn't want those surrounding her to know she's booking a bikini wax or a brazilian. (I wouldn't even want anyone to know I was making a spa appointment of any kind!)

So IM is perfect...silent, but effective. Anyway, if anyone out there wants to add us to their Instant Messenger list, our Yahoo! Messenger ID is paviadayspa95070. And our email is, of course.

See you online!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ideas for Books

I've always wanted to write a book. I fancy myself some kind of published author, engendering worldwide praise for the people running around in my imagination that are just dying to be introduced to the general public. I think, if I were to really get down to it, I would love to write a fantasy book. A fantasy book set in a non-traditional place (most fantasy is sword-and-sorcery), like the Chinese Imperial Court perhaps, or an environment very like that.

In any case, with the advent of, I really CAN easily and cost-effectively publish my own books. But I thought, a full-on fantasy epic is a little too much to take on right now. So how about a nice, 20-40 page volume about essential oils or herbs or something similar that I can either give away to good spa clients or sell?

I was thinking of two topics, and I think this will do just great. One is "As Within, So Without: The Herbal Approach to Good Skin," and the other is more whimsical, "The Girlfriend's Guide to Spa-Going." The former is about how to use herbs to bolster the body's natural toxin elimination systems, which in turn, helps keep our skin clear, supple, and blemish-free. The latter is, of course, giving advice about how to go to spas - in a very "gal pal-like fashion." So we shall see, I thought these were cute ideas. Now I just have to implement them.

I have 12 pages of the first book written, and I am excited to finish it!

Friday, February 8, 2008

How often is YOUR chassis maintained?

It seems to me that there is an ever-present tug of war between our bodies and our cars. By cars, I mean our vehicles, our know, that all-important conveyance from point A to point B? I think if we were to ask ourselves honestly, how much we spent on maintaining our automobiles in any given year, the answer would be somewhere between $600 and $1,000.

As for me, well, last year alone, I had a scheduled service (think it was either the 90K or 100K mile service) for $350, the alternator went out (another $300), and 3 oil changes ($35 each). So that is a total of...$755.

Now ask yourself the question: How much did you spend on maintaining your body? NO, doctor's visits and insurance co-pays don't count. After all, if you let yourself get to the point of having to visit a doctor, then you weren't *really* maintaining yourself, were you?

My point is, most people would not bat an eyelash at spending $600 to $1000 per year on their cars, but if asked to turn that same spending on themselves, well, sputtering, spluttering, and gasping occurs. "But I need my car to go to work!" They say. But don't they need healthy bodies too? I presume that in any kind of job, whether you perform physical labor, sit at a desk, or get on a plane, you need to have a decent level of health, mobility, tranquility, and clarity to get it done.

So the next time you feel like a massage or a facial or a pedicure or a body wrap, but feel guilty about it...DON'T! Your own chassis could use some maintenance in between those hard-earned vacations, and you shouldn't consider it "spoiling" or "pampering" yourself. It's maintenance, pure and simple. (Why do you think I never use the "S-word" or the "P-word" in any of my marketing literature or web site?)

To make it easy for you, here's the link to our massage therapy page. Now go take your own body (not just your auto's) in for some servicing!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Practicing Meditation

I have always wanted to meditate successfully. When I say "successfully," I mean drop into that zone of perfect bliss, that zone where I am one with divinity or God, where all the mundane worries of the world just fall away, and I float in perfect wisdom.

However, to date, whenever I have meditated, I have quieted my mind only long enough to receive....a to-do list. Just when it seems I have put away all thoughts of the husband that I miss (he is away on business), the spa business that I LOVE but fret over, the children that I do not have yet (but want very much), I start hearing, "Did you remember to call so-and-so? You have to take delivery of her product soon," or "Remember to sit down one-on-one with such-and-such employee to talk about her behavior," or even, "Are we out of toilet seat covers at the spa? Shoot!" And then I choose to become absorbed in the to-do list, and fall out of attempting to meditate altogether. And lie awake at night, tracing the whorls on the ceiling with open eyes.

So I would not choose to label my "meditations" as successful. Then this past Superbowl Sunday, I went to my lovely friend Teri's house (yes, Teri is the psychic/intuitive on my staff, who has her own very lovely blog) to watch the game, and her roommate, Bobbi, lent me a book, called "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I should make a disclaimer here that the book is actually Teri's, but Bobbi said that Teri would never read it, so it should be okay for me to just snatch it and read it and she probably wouldn't even notice. Bobbi said the book was amazing, transcendental.

And it was. I can't believe I'd never heard of this book before. It was absolutely amazing. More importantly, I think I learned how to meditate from it. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, also had problems meditating, but she was taught to use a mantra, "Om Namah Shivaya." Her Guru taught her that if she repeats the mantra over and over in her mind, it gives the mind something to do, a task, so that it does not interfere with the true voice of the heart that comes up during meditation. I believe that "Om Namah Shivaya" means "I bow to the divinity within me," or something that contains the recognition that I have something wonderful and lasting and surpassing inside of me.

I've tried the mantra for two nights now, and while I have not gotten THERE, to that peaceful and serene center of the universe, I have been able to at least recognize the to-do list thoughts as they came. My mind, apparently, cannot keep up a mantra AND make a to-do list simultaneously. I feel like I'm standing over home plate (my meditation) like a batter, and as each unwanted, to-do list thought comes pitching in to my serene space, I swing that bat and send it flying way, way, way...above? Out? Away. Just way, way, way, way away then.

So I have made a little progress, after all. And after several swings, I fell asleep. Which I will not judge, since I must have needed to sleep, obviously. I guess this is why it is called practicing meditation...which is what I intend to do every night.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

War Stories

Whenever I take my staff out to tea, or to dinner, I always make them go around the table and tell me "war stories." In other words, tell me their most difficult, awkward, gross, or tough situations with clients in the room. I've always been avidly curious about what goes on behind those closed doors, given that I'm not a technician myself.

Well, as you can imagine, these stories were quite entertaining.

Of course, there is the usual gross fare: like a client who forgot to completely clean themselves and was coming in for a Brazilian, or a client who had toilet paper still sticking partway out of her rear-end.

Then, there are the high-stress stories: one of my poor estheticians had a client whose skin seemed to react to everything she put on it, and she had to keep taking off products and putting on new ones.

Then, there are the stories that are just BIZARRE: one massage therapist related that a certain client just could not be pleased with ANY kind of massage stroke, whether effleurage or petrissage or percussion or open fist or open hand or elbows or thumbs. Instead, she wanted to be wrung. Like, you know, giving someone an Indian rope burn? But it turned out that even being wrung was not what she wanted. Exasperated, the massage therapist simply asked her to leave - the heartache and headache was apparently just not worth it to her.

Listening to the stories from the safety of a lunch or dinner table, of course, these seem absolutely hilarious to me and I laugh loudly and heartily when I hear them related. But I can imagine how having to deal with it live and in an enclosed room could change my perspective really fast. So here's to the wonderful technicians out there, not only on my staff, but on those of all spas around the world. They really do put up with a lot!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Guinea Pig...But There's A Limit!

As a spa owner, I know I'm supposed to experience every service my spa has to offer. And I can honestly say that I have experienced MOST of them. But there is one that I will not go near: Brazilian bikini wax. Here is a random thought: How does the nation of Brazil feel about having a bikini wax named after them, one that means "everything off?"

The very idea of someone not my husband and not my OB/GYN being in that area is just so absolutely, crushingly foreign to me that I just cannot fathom it. I have never had a bikini wax, or any waxing above my kneecap, let alone the whole enchilada! I can only wince with pain when I think of how much it must hurt. I cannot think of any reason that we would want to remove the hair from that region (although, admittedly, I cannot think of any purpose for HAVING hair in that region either).

I know many women who do it to please their significant others, but I find this a bit ... strange. When all the hair is removed, doesn't one end up looking like a pre-pubescent girl? And what does that say about the significant other who gets a sexual thrill out of that look? Isn't that a bit...pedophilic? I don't know, I am not judging, I am just wondering.

So, unlike other services, I simply trust that my estheticians can perform this service skillfully and professionally. For other services, I actually climb on the table and try to control the client experience end-to-end, but for this one, well, you couldn't pay me enough to get up there and be a guinea pig. Not even in the name of bettering my business.

Thankfully, I have hired estheticians who ARE highly trained, and who have gained the loyalty and trust of their clients. But none of that credit goes to me!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Wonderful New Blog by Theresa Hatcher

Well, it's about time you started your own blog, Mama Buddha! Teri Hatcher, our resident soul therapist and intuitive extraordinaire at Pavia, has finally put her toe in the water of the blogging world. You can read her insights here: She is going to talk about all kinds of issues of the heart, and her words are truly a balm to many troubled souls. I am so lucky to know this woman, let alone have her on my staff. Some day she will be on Oprah, mark my words.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spa Finder + Spa Wish sitting in a tree...

I don't know if you have heard that SpaFinder has bought out SpaWish. They are now Spa & Salon Wish and while they are keeping the SpaFinder brand for higher end resort and destination spas, their new Spa & Salon Wish brand will focus more on mass-market desires for local day spa services.

I remember when Peggy, the owner of Preston Wynne, asked me to join her in not accepting SpaFinder gift certificates anymore. She said that Pete Ellis, the CEO of SpaFinder, had finally figured out a way to take money out of spa owners' pockets. At first, I was kind of at a loss as to what she meant. But, I think am now starting to see the light.

You see, SpaFinder has been dumping their gift certificates at Costco for some time now. You can buy a $100 SpaFinder gift certificate for $79. And you can then take that gift certificate to spas like mine and pay for $100 services. So why pay $100 per service when you can pay $79 per service? How does this hurt spas like me? Well, firstly, I don't get that $100, I get $83 when SpaFinder pays me back. So how can SpaFinder be making money if they're getting $79 but paying out $83, you ask? Well, if Costco comes up to you and says, "Here's $20 million for a bunch of Spa Finder gift certificates at $79 each," are you going to say no? Heck no. You're going to gamble and hope that you can turn the $20 million into $21,012,658 before the underlying gift certificates get redeemed...hope they can play the market.

Anyway, the dilemma is now whether to continue accepting these or not. Clearly, accepting them poses the problem I just stated above. But not accepting them is kind of like being one of the OPEC cartel and trying to fix prices...because other spas will. Clients who are stuck with SpaFinders are not going to just choose to come to our spa and pay full-price...they're going to go to other spas and use them. And then we run the risk of losing them. So either all day spa owners agree to not accept them (and we have to trust each other), or the ones who stay in the game accept them and try to take the lion's share of this market.

What to do, what to do...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Full Closet, Nothing to Wear

I am sure every woman out there knows this feeling: you look in your closet, which is overflowing with all manner of clothing, but you announce to your husband/boyfriend/whomever is within earshot: "I have nothing to wear." It even sounds ridiculous to your own ears, since you are obviously presented full in the face with evidence to the contrary.

Well, I am a huge perpetrator of this offense. The other thing I do is that all day long I think of cool topics to write about in my monthly Pavia Desiderata newsletter, but when it comes time to write them, I can never think of what they were. Just today I thought, "For February, I'll write about aphrodisiac herbs and essential oils, for March, I'll write about safe herbs/oils for pregnancy and children, for April, I'll write about using hydrosols as toners..." and so on and so forth. But I will bet you any money that on January 30th, when I sit down to actually write the Pavia-Pothecary section of the newsletter, I will draw a blank.

So I decided to blog about this problem that can be fixed so easily simply by blogging about it. Because now, when I do draw that blank in about half a month, I will simply sign on to my blog and say, 'Aha! I have something to talk about after all.' Problem solved.

Now, if I could just remember to remind myself to sign on and read my blog...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Every time I log onto Yelp to read reviews about Pavia, I inwardly wince at the slight POTENTIAL of seeing a negative one. I tense up, my heart beats fast, I get nervous and fluttery, and then I go to our page of reviews and usually heave a sigh of relief. Well, then I came across this one, posted by "S.S.:"

"I saw that Pavia was voted best spa in the San Jose Mercury News and decided to try it out. The aesthetician, an Asian woman named Christina, completely burned my skin. I had to go to a doctor and it took nearly 3 weeks for it to heal.

If you value your body, don't go to this place. I wouldn't want anyone to go through the pain and discomfort I suffered."

And then the blood roared in my head and I saw only red and felt pure rage coursing through my veins. I thought, "Wow - she really tried to do harm to my esthetician's career without delivering ALL of the facts." She named Christina by name (Christina is no longer with me, by the way - she went to open a day care) and also by race, as if to ensure that she would never be able to work again. Meanwhile, we refunded her all the money she paid for the services, and we also paid for the cream she purchased from the dermatologist, even though she had not given us the chance to resolve it first. AND, all of this was demanded at the top of her longs, accompanied by her mother and father for orchestral support. These, however, she did not mention.

Perhaps it makes no difference to her, though. I felt that we did right by her, going beyond the normal call of duty (certainly simply refunding the money she paid should have been enough) in trying to secure her happiness and goodwill. And I perceive that she took our fervent efforts and then tossed them back in our faces by writing this kind of a review.

Well, c'est la vie. My initial rage at her review has cooled, melting first into a gentle indignance, then subsiding into an indifferent pity (as in: poor, misguided, fractured soul, she has to resort to these kinds of racist remarks to make herself feel better), and finally dissipating away entirely. I wish her well and I hope God heaps blessings upon her. After all, she is the one who has to live with the karma engendered by her words, not me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hear, hear!

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite poets and scholars EVER. Anyone who has ever read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" or the poem, "Phenomenal Woman," can hardly fail to be infused with her beautiful spirit or touched by her open-hearted, lyrical words. She is truly a RENAISSANCE woman.

That said, at first I didn't really see how she would be a guest speaker at the Orlanda ISPA show - ISPA stands for International Spa Association (except, somehow the acronym doesn't quite match the individual words). What would Dr. Angelou say to a bunch of spa owners and operators? Well, apparently it was highly inspirational. And here is what she said in closing:

"I know when some people think of spas they think of spa as a frivolity, a place for frivolity.

I know that the intention is to offer people a chance to better themselves. . . and if they better themselves physically they will feel better about themselves psychologically

OMG, when I read that, my heart about stopped. How could this woman know me so well? How could she see into the depths of my soul and know that that is what I am trying to provide? A place to better oneself...she has done it again! Touched my heart with the exactly perfect description of my mission in life.

Well, she rocks rocks rocks. Here is her web site, for anyone who wants to know more about this thrilling woman:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not to point fingers, but...

I just had to share this anecdote. I used to share an esthetician with another spa. It's another Saratoga spa, yes, but it will go unnamed in this blog. However, there aren't THAT many of us, so I am sure the astute will figure it out.

This particular esthetician told me that when she reported to work at the other spa, her colleagues would ask her how it was to work at Pavia. And this esthetician, let's name her something anonymous - how about Jane - would respond, "It's great! We actually get to use real products in the backbar/facial rooms." And her fellow estheticians would ask her, "You mean to say that the owner there lets you use Jan Marini on clients? During facials?" You see, the embarrassing truth is, that at this other spa, they don't actually use Jan Marini or branded products in their backbar.

They SAY they do, they tell the clients that they use it, so that when you come out of the facial, they can say, "Oh, this C-Esta Serum is what I used on you." When, in fact, it wasn't. I only feel I can make this public now because this spa no longer uses Jan Marini, and has gone all private-label, but it is another example of "take something that is worth $5 and pretend it is worth $50." I guess that is smart business, right? I just can't do it. I can't lie, or ask others to lie, about the products being used on a client's skin.

Imagine: a client is handing you money to perform a service. There is a trust involved there, and to me, that's almost sacred. You can't just slather on stuff that's cheap and tell them it's expensive. If that's how you're supposed to make money in this business, well, then....I guess I'm not supposed to be in this business.

It's one thing to say, "Well, we DIDN'T use Jan Marini, but Jan Marini is what I am recommending for you." It's another to just lie about it. Apparently that happened all the time at this particular venue. Caveat: I am going on hearsay, although my sources were plentiful and all internally consistent. Yes, I used to hire ex-employees of this spa, and they were only too thrilled to come work for me, contrasting it between Heaven and ...that other place.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Heck in a Handbasket

I promised the hubby I would not swear. So I will say this...I picked up a Wall Street Journal for the first time in 10 years (since Business School, really), and I saw that the world is going to heck in a handbasket. Oil at $100 a barrel? Gold over $800 again? The dollar lower than the Canadian dollar? Give me a break.

I've had my nose so close to the grindstone trying to make the day spa work that I guess I have not been paying attention to the overall economy. Yuck! Now that I have glimpsed the world, however, I am inclined to stick my nose back to the grindstone.

And what the heck was I doing picking up a Wall Street Journal? I swore off that stuff when I got my MBA. I only wanted to be like all the other MBA students and carried one around under my arm, pretending to actually read it during my spare time. Yeah, right. Well, I happened to be waiting around in a lobby for an interview.

Yes, I am interviewing! For consulting positions in technology marketing on a temporary basis. I want to do so many things with the spa - put in new paint, new carpets, perhaps a steam shower - but can't do them without more capital, so hence, I need to get an interim job just for the purpose of infusing more cash. Fun fun!

Well, thank God for my loyal spa clients. I've really been so blessed to meet so many wonderful people doing this work. On days that are "from heck," I remember them and it becomes unthinkable for me to do any other kind of work.