Monday, September 21, 2009

Great Fall Equinox Spa Party last night...

I conducted a focus group back in July of 2009 with some of Pavia's best clients. I played several games with them and ran some ideas by them on a warm Sunday afternoon. One game I played was called, "Speedboat," where I asked them to imagine that Pavia was a speedboat and that we had anchors that caused our speedboat to be "slow." I asked them to each write down the name of the anchor and come and post it on the poster of the speedboat. This is a game intended to get them thinking about what they don't like about Pavia.

One of the biggest anchors was, "Have more parties." Meaning, they wanted us to have more events and spa parties - I didn't realize these events were so enjoyable, so I decided to listen to them and do quarterly parties. Along came the inaugural "Fall into Pavia" equinox party, to celebrate nothing more earth-shattering and impactful than the seasonal transition. Which, in California, is kind of non-existent. (The full import of this realization occurred yesterday, as I was scattering leaves throughout the spa and putting paper pumpkins into vases, that it was fall inside the spa, but it was definitely summer outside, if the 95-degree weather had anything to say about it).

Nevertheless, we proceeded bravely with our "Fall into Pavia" event last night and we had a great time. Even me, though I was running around for the most part a la a headless chicken. For the first time ever, the party was completely sold out, and I think this was due to our membership program. Every guest was either a member or the guest of a member, and if they were neither, then they became a member by the end of the night. We offered services that I tried very hard to name as "cutely" as possible:

  • Stick-Me: Acupuncture. Although our LAc, Anne Dugan, is so fabulous she can do needle-less acupuncture.
  • Peel-Me: Facial, featuring our Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel from Eminence. Great for fall!
  • Read-Me: Tarot reading, featuring the ever-insightful Theresa Hatcher. 
  • Forget-Me-Knots: Massage. Forget my knots, get it? Haha. 
  • Wrap-Me: A body wrap, which included dry-brushing session followed by a wrap in the Eminence Pumpkin Cream Wrap in our wet room, which has a 5-headed Vichy Shower in it (makes for an fabulous water treatment).
  • Me Dogs Are Barking: A foot treatment. Because the swine flu has hit our town pretty hard, I included a hot oil treatment with Thyme and Eucalyptus to bolster immunity.
All the guests seemed relaxed and content afterwards, which is always a good feeling. It was stressful this time, especially as the person who was going to cater canceled on me one day before, and she was also one of the estheticians who was going to perform the peels. We did a last-minute scramble (thank God for our new hire Kim Boyd, who is a nail technician possessed of an esthetician license), begged Summer to come in and do the foot treatments, and all was well that ended well.

Took a quick poll to see if the next party should be before or after the holidays, and they seemed to concur that it should be post-holiday, when everyone has time to relax and detox. Am going to have fun concocting mini-treatments for that, for sure!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MBF Leasing continued...

Okay, I'm reasonably even-keeled now. Let me tell the facts of my story.

1. I thought that just because I am a Stanford MBA, that I could never be swindled. Well, I was WRONG. Joke's on me!

2. This was actually a good lesson in humility for me, because I had a habit of behaving like an arrogant ass in the past, and I definitely needed to be taken down a peg.

3. In July 2005, I was approached by "Dave" of Vericomm, who explained that he could save me a great deal of money on my Visa/Mastercard processing. Instead of paying 2.5% on all charges, I could pay just 1.69% (this did not turn out to be true either, but that is a story for another time). I agreed to take him up on a meeting.

4. During our meeting, he stated that in order for me to take advantage of his low rates, I would have to lease some equipment from an affiliated company (MBF Leasing), even though I already owned my own credit card processing equipment. He said that my equipment could not be re-programmed to work with his, and that leasing from this company was the only way to process with Vericomm. Well, this turned out to be patently false, too, but I didn't learn that until later.

5. "Dave" explained that this would be a "lease-to-own," and that it would cost $159.95 per month, for 48 months, after which, the lease would cancel. He showed me the one-page lease, and I signed it. He left me a copy of the one-page lease that I signed, which I have until this day.

6. Later, I search online and find out that the equipment I have leased are purchase-able for just $400. I became incensed at myself, just furious. I lay awake for nights crying, feeling my heart racing and my blood boiling and that terrible, tight, taut feeling in my chest. I must have shaved a few years off of my life during all those sleepless nights full of tears.

7. Finally, I decide that it may be an expensive lesson, but I deserved to pay for it, since, after all, I had signed that "non-cancellable" lease, had I not?

8. I faithfully allow them to withdraw $178.10 each month out of my account (even though the lease was for $159.95) - when I asked why, they said it was for "insurance waiver" and "sales tax." I didn't really understand this, but I was too busy running my business to protest.

9. So imagine my happiness when 2009 comes around and I can finally get out from under this very expensive lease and move on with my life. July 2009 is my last payment, supposedly.

10. Except that in August 2009, they take another payment out of my account for $179.70. I leave 3 irate messages (after holding for 7 minutes each time) at 1-866-781-0411. They never return my calls.

11. They do it again in September 2009 (on the 3rd), and now I am incensed. I tell my bank to put a stop payment on any charges from MBF Leasing. Whaddaya know, NOW they start to call me back, because NOW they have no access to my money.

12. Here's the kicker: they tell me that the lease I signed is only the FIRST PAGE of a four-page lease. Bullshit. There was only the 1 page. They even FAX me a copy of the lease I signed, which in no way, shape, or form, resembled what I actually signed, because what I actually signed was just one page...

12a. By the way, this lease they faxed over, which was never presented to me, basically said that the lease was not cancellable, regardless of whether the equipment worked or not. Now, I may be a doofus, but I am not THAT big of a doofus where I would sign something that said I owed someone even if the equipment they provided did not work. I am SURE that was why this "Dave" of Vericomm never provided the real lease to me.

12b. The copy of the lease they sent me says, "Page 1 of  4" in teeny tiny print at the very bottom of the page. MY copy of the lease that I signed has no such thing. This has become a rallying cry for them, as Mark, ID # 8290 of MBF Leasing, said to me, "Why would you sign a lease document if you didn't have all the pages? It clearly says, 'Page 1 of 4.'" Um, no, it didn't. He admonished me for not "reading carefully" - well, I did read carefully, and the copy presented to me said NOTHING about any other pages. I mean, I can't help it if this "Dave" from Vericomm fraudulently gave me only a single page to sign, and now they want to hold me to this lease that I was fraudulently induced to sign?

13. So now they tell me that I have 3 options: 1) buy out the equipment; 2) go month-to-month; or 3) return the equipment AND pay a "payoff" balance of $359.40. This despite the fact that I have paid them over $8,000 for the right to use a $400 piece of equipment, that I only ended up using for 3 months total. Because after THAT, I was swindled by yet ANOTHER company...and that really is a story for another time, because it will provide evidence that I might really be genuinely stupid.

14. And the thing that struck me as hilarious, was that Mark, ID #8290, was repeatedly argumentative with me...and he's supposed to be a customer service guy. And what's more, he did not sound AT ALL surprised by my complaints, which meant that - ding ding ding ding ding - he's heard them before! In fact, I bet he's heard them hundreds of times, from hundreds of other people. So he's got to ask himself - are all of us leaseholders just evil and trying to lie our way out of a lease (I mean, I at least paid for ALL of mine), or is there something really sinister going on at his company? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Well, folks, this was a public service announcement. I will likely just suck it up and pay off the money, because I don't want the negative energy and I just want to flush Vericomm and MBF Leasing down the toilet of life like so much dog excrement and move on to better things. But I wanted to save anyone who might be reading this the toil, trouble, and heartache of dealing with these inglorious you-know-whats. I'm out!


I really wrestled with myself as to whether or not to write this. On the one hand, I hate to complain, and feel terrible doing it. It just brings negative energy to me. On the other hand, I have learned some really expensive lessons that lessened my faith and trust in my fellow human beings, and I want to share them so that other innocent people are not victimized. So I will tell my story in the hope that I can prevent other people from being rampantly de-frauded and victimized by a company that has zero ethics or morals.

Here is the MORAL OF MY STORY: Read every contract diligently. MBF Leasing, also known as Northern Leasing and Lease Finance Group, is OUT TO GET YOU. DON'T SIGN ANY LEASE, OF ANY KIND, WITH THEIR NAME ON IT. YOU WILL REGRET IT, I PROMISE YOU.

Here are some links posted by many, many other people who also have a tale of woe. In fact, all you have to do is type "MBF Leasing" into Google and you will see the 26,900 listings that almost all have the terms, "ripoff, complaints, scam, beware, pissed, or fraud" in them. I wish I had done this myself, BEFORE I signed that lease.
They were even on the news for their sins:

Okay, my blood is starting to boil again, mostly in anger and self-reprobation. I will go take a few deep breaths and see if I can calm myself down enough to write again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Changing the Date & Time for Pavia Well-binar

Well, as it turns out, I consulted no one's convenience but my own when scheduling our inaugural Pavia "well-binar." I basically scheduled it for when it was convenient for me, and me alone. Duh. Everyone knows you should not do that. Except, apparently, me. So I have gone ahead and changed the date and time to a day when others are NOT working. Here is the new information:

"Interpreting Your Dreams for Personal Success" Well-Binar
  • Date: September 26, 2009 (Saturday)
  • Time: 10am Pacific
  • Cost: $8 (20% off for Pavia Health Nuts and Health Advocates)
  • Registration link here
  • Instructions: Click on the link above, choose the week of 9/21 to 9/27/09, and you will see the class listed under Theresa's name.
  • After you register, we will send you the link for the on-line well-binar!
Hope to "see" you there!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Everybody is always coming and going...

Sometimes I think Pavia is not a spa, but a train station, a gateway point where different people intersect, for what seems just a transitory moment in their lives. We don't have the turnover issues that others in this industry have, but it has felt lately like the comings and goings at Pavia rival those of Grand Central.


  • Well, Miss Annie Banannie (that is what we call her) is dropping down to just one day a week at the end of October. Our nail goddess extraordinaire is just working way too hard with two jobs.
  • Julie Matthews is now working at a chiropractor's office as an Office Manager. We really miss her - lucky for us she is not too far away.
  • To replace Annie's hours, we have hired Kim Boyd - she is a truly cool lady with a great vibe and I know everyone will like her.
Going...but Coming Back
  • Shelly Shelly Shelly...having a baby, and will be out on maternity leave until December. Can't wait to meet baby Dylan!
Coming...but Going Again
  • Sarah, CMT, is back at Pavia from her sojourn in the city, and she has brought back some great ideas for us. She has an idea for a new service that I can't wait to launch...more on that later. But this little dynamo is moving to Chicago in January, and I will miss her sorely.
  • Angela, a long-time friend of Shelly's, is also substituting for her while she is out on maternity leave. I've gotten really attached to Angela. So I don't even want to put her in this column...hopefully we will manifest a way for her to stay on past Shelly's return.
See what I mean? A veritable train station...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inaugural Pavia "Well"-binar: Interpreting Your Dreams for Personal Success

So excited to announce our first ever Pavia "Well-binar!" Theresa Hatcher, intuitive healer, Reiki master, certified hypnotherapist, and dream interpreter extraordinaire, will join me to discuss the importance of our dreams and why they matter for our wellness. We will talk about how learning the language of dreams can provide insight into and solutions to our problems, the meaning of certain dream symbols, and common dream scenarios. You will also have the chance to hear Theresa interpret two of my own personal dreams (Yikes! Talk about baring my soul) and answer your questions.

If you care to join us, please check out the details below:

  • Date: September 25, 2009
  • Time: 10am Pacific
  • Cost: $8 (20% off for Pavia Health Nuts and Health Advocates)
  • Registration link here
  • Instructions: Click on the link above, choose the week of 9/21 to 9/27/09, and you will see the class listed under Theresa's name.
  • After you register, we will send you the link for the on-line well-binar!
Hope to "see" you there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Changing business models!

I am trying a radically different experiment for my spa that no other has ever thought least, not that I have ever heard before. It's a true wellness model, one that encourages clients to come more frequently to experience true wellness. Remember that old guy Hippocrates? Yeah, the first true "doctor." He said the way to health was through an aromatic massage and bath every day. Well, why can't we resurrect that old model? I know, I know, we're busy, not enough time, not enough money.

So I thought of a way to make wellness more affordable...I created a membership program that provides a hefty discount on all spa treatments - 20% off. The membership fee is $20 a month (our Health Nut level), or $25 a month (our Health Advocate level). As a Health Nut, you get 20% off of all treatments, all the time, no matter when you come. You even get 20% off of Off-Peak services. As a Health Advocate, you get the same, plus you get to share your discount with two non-members each month, so that you can promote health and wellness. At these prices, my hope is that people can afford to come 1-2x every month, creating true well-being and really getting the benefits they need to get out of going to a wellness spa.

There will also be members-only services that others are not privy to - I am having a great deal of fun designing them as I write this (almost gleeful). We will see how it goes - this could either be the greatest thing since sliced bread, or I could fall flat on my face with this "economic recovery plan." But nothing risked is nothing gained, so I am moving forward bravely with this plan. I would definitely be interested in hearing anyone's feedback on it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Woman vs. Hill

Lately the hubby and I have taken to walking up the Stanford foothills on Sundays. Okay, to be candid, we have done it 3 times in the last month or so, and each time seems to be a little easier on me. It's that hill that Stanford Avenue ends with, the one that goes up steeply, like the back of an elephant's behind. I know it doesn't look that bad, but it FEELS like it. My ass can attest to that - it always hurts afterwards.

So, the first time I go up, it's the early part of May, the height of my allergy season. O-M-G. I couldn't even talk about one-third of the way up that hill. I was quite a sight - my face was red from the struggle, tears were coursing down my sweat-stained cheeks from my allergies, and I was panting like a walrus (do walruses pant? I mean, they seem like they do). I dearly wanted to strangle my husband, who was coasting along cheerfully. What was the most humiliating was, these two grannies go zooming by me, talking about their hedges and not a single iota out of breath, and most unforgivably, not a day under seventy.

I had thought about turning back, but not after that. I kept going and going until my thighs were burning and rubbing together so hard I thought my underwear was going to catch fire. There is a great birthday card that uses that as a punchline, but I do wish I had made that up first. So, needless to say, that day, I fought the hill, and the hill won. But I've been up twice since, and each time it's gotten progressively easier - I wouldn't say I've run up that hill, but the day will come when I do! So that's where I've been since April - celebrating the hubby's birthday (April 26th), celebrating our 7-year wedding anniversary (May 10th), and celebrating my 37th birthday (May 15th), and working on my physical self and whipping it back into shape!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to Impress a Spa Owner in the Interview

There are 5 cardinal rules that I feel strongly about, and all 5 of these need to be observed when someone comes to interview with me, or any spa owner, for that matter. If any one of these rules is broken, then I am likely to have an extremely negative impression of the prospective candidate and their chances of being hired are just about nil.

Rule #1: Be on time. This may seem like the easiest of rules to follow, but to me, if you're not even able to show up on time for the interview, which is the FIRST CHANCE you have to make a good impression, then you're not going to show up on time for your job. I've had candidates come as much as 30 minutes late, with no phone call. If you're lost, or stuck in traffic, or find that you cannot come because of an emergency - that's understandable. But at least give the courtesy of calling ahead to let me know - by the way, nail technicians are the worst offenders when it comes to not showing up for interviews. They are so in demand, they don't even bother calling to cancel.

Rule #2: Bring your resume. Don't assume that just because you sent it to the spa owner by mail, email, or fax that she will have it ready and available. We get tons and tons of resumes and applications each day, we rarely have the time to print out your resume, and if you show up without one, then we'll need to take the time out of your interview to search for it and print it out. NOT a good way to spend the first 10 minutes of your interview. I myself have made the mistake - twice! - of not bringing a resume to an interview, assuming that the prospective employer already had it. Well, both times, I did not get the job, and guess what? That's 100% my fault, and I accept responsibility for that. I would never do that again.

Rule #3: Be prepared for common interview questions! Have your answers thought out beforehand. Okay, you got yourself there on time, you brought your resume. Great! But when asked, "What are your three major strengths and weaknesses," don't just give a blank, cowlike stare. Or worse yet, you say 3 positive things about yourself, but then say you have no weaknesses. Um, WRONG ANSWER. Everyone has weaknesses. I have a list of weaknesses a mile long, and I am not afraid to share it. This lets prospective employers know I am self-aware and open to improvement. I'll even make it easy - this is what I ask in every interview:

* Tell me about yourself.
* What motivates you to work in the spa industry?
* Why did you choose to become a ____________ (insert esthetician, massage therapist, nail technician, etc.)?
* What are your three greatest strengths and weaknesses?
* Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
* What goals do you hope to accomplish in your first year at Pavia?
* Why did you choose to apply to Pavia?
* Why do you think I absolutely need to hire you?

Rule #4: Don't ask about compensation right off the bat. So one time, we had barely sat down and introduced ourselves, when the candidate cuts me off in the middle of my first question (which was, "Tell me about yourself") and says, "How much do you pay? I want to make sure it's worth my while to even interview." Okay, gong! Thanks for playing. If a candidate asks about compensation immediately, then it turns me off and tells me he/she is only in it for the money. I will know right away that this person is not a fit, and end the interview on the spot.

Rule #5: Dress appropriately. You know, I don't know where some people get their interview wardrobes. I have seen so many inappropriate outfits, I don't even know where to start. Here is a list of things I do NOT like seeing at a first interview: tank tops, denim anything (jeans, jackets, etc.), tattoos, flip flops, low-cut tops, T-shirts, short skirts, hot pants, tennis shoes, skintight leathers, chaps, stiletto heels, nose rings or body piercings, and my favorite: sweats! Ugh! Just remember you are meeting someone for the very first time, that it's your one and only chance to make a favorable first impression. You don't have to wear a suit, but what's wrong with a button-down shirt and khaki pants or skirt? I'm just saying...I think it's important to be inoffensive when you don't know what the interviewer's personal tastes are and when you want them to concentrate on you and your talents, not your clothes.

That's it! Next time I'll talk about the qualities of my favorite kinds of employees...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Green Zebra Guides!

It's important to me that I support green businesses, because I really do believe the way I spend what's in my wallet can help make a difference in the world. And so when Green Zebra offered me the chance to advertise in their Bay Area guide, I said, "OF COURSE!"

The Pavia coupon we put in is awesome - it represents a total savings of $75. It's so good, in fact, that I just bought one for myself yesterday! (Hilarious: using my own coupon at my own business). But beyond the Pavia coupon, it's still a book of discounts worth $10,000, for only $25! Ha, that will be the fastest ROI ever for me. There are coupons from some of my favorite places: Whole Foods, East-West Bookstore, Planet Granite, and others.

We are selling these at Pavia, but if you can't make it in and want to buy it on-line, you can do so by clicking on the banner below:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My first bikini wax...

All right, I admit, I have never had a bikini wax, despite having owned a spa for 5+ years and despite believing that I should try every service we offer before a customer tries it. I just couldn't do was too weird a concept for me and entirely too personal.

Well, impetus #1 was, I had to go to Mexico (which I blogged about on 4/1). Impetus #2 was, I rented the movie Sex and the City and was horrified at Miranda's "growth" - I was right with Samantha when she asked her, "Wax much?" as she spotted the veritable jungle spurting out from under Miranda's swimsuit. And impetus #3 was that I have been shaving all my life and finally got tired of the bumps and ingrowns and itchiness. And that AIN'T a place that a woman can just scratch whenever she wants. Note: a man, on the other hand, can scratch there at will. It is not only accepted, it is expected.

So, I decided to give the ol' bikini wax a try. Result? OMG, I am now addicted. I don't think I can go back to shaving. It's been 2 weeks now, and I'm still swimsuit-worthy. No bumps, no ingrowns, especially since I've been taking Ila's advice (Ila is my esthetician, and she rocks the house down on waxing) and exfoliating a lot.

I guess it's just one more "maintenance" item to add to my monthly agenda, but it is worth it. Now, the next step is...........BRAZILIAN, mwahahahaha. Okay, I'm *probably* not quite there yet mentally, have to work up some more courage. But hey, it's walk, then run, then fly, right?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just got back from Mexico.......

...where the sun was shiny and the boys were lovely. Oh wait, I'm married. Ahem. Let's start over - just got back from Mexico, where the sun was shiny, the sand was warm, and the spas were .... pretty cool!

One of my BFFs surprised me with a trip to Cabo for Christmas, and we ended up, due to a serious of somewhat-life-threatening-and-alarming mishaps, going during College Spring Break. In addition to feasting on eye candy (translate: men who were in diapers when I was in my teens), we swam with dolphins, bought lots of turquoise, and what else? Went to the spa.

I wasn't that impressed with the spa at my own hotel, the Riu Santa Fe, to tell the truth. I had a male therapist, and usually, the male therapists I've had are very careful not to go too high up on the inner thigh. He did nothing inappropriate, it just felt funny. Also, he rubbed my face AFTER rubbing my feet...hmmm, not that my feet aren't clean, but what if they were dirty? Well, I should have said something.

I ought to know better. In fact, what I thought was most hilarious about this spa was on the intake form: "If you have any concerns, please state them to your therapist. Otherwise, we will assume you had a good experience." I thought that was "great" - I am a spa owner, and I even have a hard time speaking up during my "spa experience." I can't imagine what non-spa prima donnas must go through when they feel somewhat uncomfortable during a service.

Next up: the spa at the Pueblo Bonito Rose. I booked myself in for a body wrap and scrub, and I finally got to experience it on one of those tables with the blue cushion on it that looks like a shallow bathtub. Ahhhhhhhhh, it was heavenly...mostly. Not to be Ms. Picky Pants, but I hadn't specified what service I wanted because they told me I could pick when I showed up. When I showed up, I chose the Royal Mexican Lime treatment, but I guess they failed to communicate this to the therapist, because I got the Tropical one.

I learned several things from that particular service: 1. Wraps really are cold. This room had no overhead heat lamps, so I shivered as she scrubbed me front and back. I said, "Es frio!" multiple times to her through gritted teeth, but what could she really do? 2. Wraps get warm really fast after they pile on the mylar wrap and the towels. Now that's nice...but my feet started to hurt because of the way they were splayed out under the pressure, so I am making a mental note that clients might appreciate a little support under the knees during a prolonged wrap. 3. She left the hot water showering me for 30 minutes - this was DIVINE. I loved loved loved it. I thought I'd died and migrated to Heaven...I wish I could replicate this in my own spa, except that if I tried that, it would interact with the washer/dryer and my drains would plug up.

Overall, it was splendido! This spa had two awesomely warm jacuzzis, a waterfall, and then an extremely cold plunge bath. I alternated between the hot and cold twice, then just gave up because I couldn't get more than hip deep in that freezing water. And I loved my therapist, Lupita! We had a good old time communicating in Spanglish.

Oh gosh, if I could go back tomorrow to Cabo, I would...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yelp, Yelp, Yelp. When will you GET it????

So, I got another email from Yelp today. It read:

Hi Maryling,

Some of your reviews were flagged by the Yelp community, and our Customer Service team has determined that they fall outside our review guidelines (, specifically as it relates to conflicts of interest. We appreciate that you've disclosed that you own a spa when reviewing other businesses in that category, but in our opinion we believe this presents a conflict of interest and so we need to remove these reviews.

In the future, please remember that your reviews should be unbiased and objective.
If there's any hint of a conflict, please don't post the review. We hope you will
continue to provide great reviews, while keeping in mind our Review Guidelines. See
you on Yelp!

Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Oh my goodness, all I've got to say is that they have their head further up their collective ass than I thought. Okay, so here are the facts:

1. I had legitimately been to ALL of the day spas or spas that I reviewed as a customer. I handed them my very own precious money.
2. I had great experiences at ALL of the day spas I reviewed, and I posted 4- or 5-star reviews about each one. If I didn't have a great experience, then I did not post a review.
3. For most of those reviews, I did not even own a spa when I had those experiences. So now I can't write about them?

It's okay to leave up a review from someone who's never been to your spa or just wants to write something evil about you because they have a vendetta against you, but it's not okay to preserve a review from a legitimate customer? What gives? And it's not okay for me to say GOOD things about spas that are now my competitors (simply because I bought a spa now, but did not back then)? HUH????????????????

I am scratching my head. Well, just another arrow in my quiver for why I just will never, ever support Yelp financially.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Soul Therapy Room - Finally, a Reality!

More "move your stuff, change your life" - we have cleared out my office and opened up a new "Soul Therapy" room! Yay! Thanks so so so much to Claire, Sushila, Ila, and my very own hubby for helping to make this happen. Without them, that office would a) still be messy and b) still be non-revenue-generating and c) still be mine, and instead, we now have a new haven for taking Soul Therapy clients! I'm so excited.

Can't wait to do Aromatherapy or Herbal Consultations in there...we are going to be doing all Acupuncture, Astrology, Tarot, and Reiki in there from now on! Yee ha! We can truly be a wellness spa now, instead of being a wellness spa masquerading as a day spa.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Laundry, Laundry, Always Laundry

The lifeblood of a spa is....not what you'd think. The phones? Yes. Although these days email and Instant Messaging are also ways for customers to schedule appointments. The employees? Well, yes. Without them, there is no capability to schedule appointments or take customers. But what really brings a spa to its knees? The laundry machines - the washer and the dryer and when they break!!!

Sorry, I feel particularly strongly and particularly emotional right now because at the moment, our dryer is broken. The kicker is, I paid ~$120 over Christmas to have it fixed...first it was squeaking, so we called in an appliance repair team. They came, but then broke the dryer even worse because it stopped working shortly after they came. Turns out, a belt was loose. So I paid another $21 or so to replace the belt, and all was hunky-dory again.

Well, fast forward to February 26. Once again, my staff call me up and tell me the dryer is squeaking again. I get to the spa on Friday, February 27th, and sure enough, the things sounds like an army of mice are caught in it. So I call up the same repair place - yay, it's under warranty. Yay, or so I thought. They come back today, and guess what?!??! They broke it worse again! Not only did they not fix it, but a part caught on fire when they went to plug it in, the dryer sparked, and now it doesn't work any longer. Give me the army of mice any day!!! At least it worked.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! Okay, okay, I am calm now. I am obviously resisting the situation, and I could just choose to drop the resistance....but that doesn't help with my dryer!!!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feng Shui-ing Pavia

Lately I've gotten on this "Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life" kick. I've moved things around my apartment, and also at Pavia. Pavia, especially, is a mixed bag when it comes to Feng Shui or Vaastu (the Indian version of placement). On the positive side, we have an entrance in the WNW that is auspicious, and we have a stream that flows south to north in the east of the spa. On the negative side, our abundance corner (the Northeast Corner), has a bathroom in it, which means we are "flushing" our money down the toilet. Well, not much I can do about the bathroom. The water lines are where they are, right?

But the front lobby, on the other hand, was something that I could change. When you walked in the front door, there was a fountain smack dab in the middle, against a wall that the previous owners put up. It's certainly beautiful, but it also creates an unnecessary energy block and cuts up our beautiful, auspicious entrance. The fountain facing the entrance, of course, means the abundance is going right back out the front door.

So, with the help of Claire and Julia, two of my wonderful staff, we moved the fountain to the northeast corner of the lobby (the abundance corner). Claire had the idea to create a "portal" with a mirror that would allow the auspicious energy from the entrance to flow "through" the energy-blocking wall and towards the whole spa. So we put up a mirror and a nice hallway table, and I think the whole thing looks lovely. Well, it can't hurt, right? We will see how it goes...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IQ is not EQ, apparently....

I was completely fascinated by Mr. Stephen Fowler's performance on Wife Swap. I don't usually watch that reality show (America's Next Top Model, Survivor, and Amazing Race are more my speed), but I just had to find out what happened to stir up the rage and ill will of an entire nation. I went onto Youtube and searched on "Wife Swap Fowler" to find the highlights posted, and I was completely stunned. I started looking him up and reading all the blogs about him that I could find, and I even went on LinkedIn to look up his profile, sure that he must be in my network somewhere. Sure enough, I am only 3 connections away on LinkedIn from Mr. Fowler, so I know people who know people who know him. Small world indeed. I even posted on someone else's blog about him.

When I watched the videos, I thought, well, that just proves it. All the IQ in the world doesn't buy any EQ - emotional intelligence. Mr. Fowler has impressive credentials and pedigree, to be sure, but I think he is realizing this week that all of those outward accomplishments are useless if he is hated on sight. The sad part is, I think I used to be like him, valuing myself only by my education and achievements. And the truly sad part is, his display of superiority is only a reflection of how deeply he hates and despises himself. Can you imagine what it must be like to be so filled with bitterness and devoid of happiness that the only joy you can take in life is in the fact that you have an MBA from an elite school? I can imagine it. I've been there. So I'm not going to rag on Mr. Fowler. In fact, I have compassion for Mr. Fowler.

So that's why I'm not joining the chorus of those who are dying to send him back to England, see him suffer bankruptcy and loss, or wish him major misfortune and calamity. His life IS a disaster now, I am sure. He shared his extreme self-hatred with the nation, and it does not take a psychology major to see that this man is deeply damaged, fractured, and possibly even depressed. How did this happen? How did an apparently successful executive with so much going for him create such a mess for himself? I can guess: the void inside that causes him to strive for external accomplishments to fill that void, the deep-seated inferiority complex that causes him to want to lord his superiority over others who are less "accomplished" on paper, and the self-loathing that causes him to spew vitriol to anyone who will listen, even in front of his children, even to a guest in his home.

Mr. Fowler, I sincerely hope that you are able to find something more to love in yourself than your Cambridge and London Business School education. Those are monumental achievements, but they in themselves, do not a joyful life make. I hope you can pick up the pieces from this public relations nightmare and move on to a more healthy life with your wife and children. And lastly, I hope you are able to show your face safely sometime soon...the good news about us "horrible" Americans is that we forgive and forget....quickly. Good luck!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dr. Suzanne Hamilton - In Memoriam

When I learned recently of the death of Dr. Suzanne Hamilton, my dentist and my client, I cried all night. My poor husband, who had to bear the news all day and give it to me at night, also had to bear my initial tantrum. I shouted at him, "Stop it! What do you mean? It makes no sense! What do you mean, she 'passed away'? A woman of 39 who has given birth only 12 weeks ago does not 'pass away!'" It was truly surreal. At one moment, I could separate myself from my body and watch it going through the initial shock, then the rage, then the disbelief. My mind said, "Oh look, I'm going through a stage of grief: denial."

I had only known her a few months, but she had apparently touched me deeply. I don't think I've cried so much in a long time, nor for anyone else. She had everything to live for - a husband she deeply loved, and who deeply loved her, a newborn daughter, a thriving and successful practice, and the admiration of a whole community. She was one of those "telepathic" dentists - what I mean by that is that she seemed to know exactly what I was thinking at each moment, but could not convey because in our normal interactions, my mouth was usually wide open and she was drilling in it. And yet, all I would have to do was "think" a question at her, and she would answer it as if she had heard me.

The last time I saw her, January 14, 2009, she was putting a crown on me. It seemed to take a bit longer than I expected, and I sent a thought at her, with my mouth wide open, left side of my face numb and drooling, "Why is this taking so long?" She said, without missing a beat, "Oh, I'm sorry it's taking a while - I had to take an extra mold of your tooth to make sure the lab can make your permanent crown perfectly."

She was also the most extraordinary dentist I have ever met, someone who was constantly seeking ways to improve her patients' experience. I know this firsthand, because she came to me for Aromatherapy advice. She wanted to know if I could make her a blend for her dental patients to "relax" or "calm" them. She understood that people visiting her office had anxiety about it, and she wanted to reassure them through every sense possible, including smell. And so she bought Lavender, Chamomile, and various other soporific essential oils, as well as a blend I put together for her office, and put it on diffusers throughout the place. She even put it on my bib that last time I saw her. That was Dr. Hamilton for you - loving, caring, nurturing, and always thinking of the needs of others.

All I can really liken her to is a flower - no, a rose, the queen of flowers. Like a rose, she was generous with her own special unique fragrance, and in her case, if I could bottle it into perfume, I would call it, "Compassion."

We attended her memorial service yesterday and listened to all the stories of how she lived her life, which only further served to confirm that a bright light has truly gone out of this world. She was beloved by many, if the standing-room-only crowd was any indication. I, too, loved her, though I only knew her a few months. I will miss her sorely, and I pray fervently that God offers comfort and solace to those she leaves behind and are most wounded by her passing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Great Recipe for Holiday Room Spray

I had to get this down before I forgot it. I just combined 20 drops Clove, 20 drops Cardamom, and 20 drops of Orange with 2 ounces of vodka in a spray bottle. Mmm, mmm, mmm, smells soooo good - sweet and spicy and holiday-like!