Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A small update...

Aw crap. I'm not even going to do that obnoxious blogger thing where I apologize and list all the reasons why I haven't updated in 6 months. Just gonna keep on truckin'. 

Updates and happenings since the last post: 

I started, and stopped, esthetic school where I was. It was a horrendous and unprofessional program, not up to my standards. I decided to withdraw (after a very candid conversation with the school's owner) and am starting at a school with a much better reputation and higher quality curriculum in February.

The downside to this is that it has pushed my move timeline back. Luckily I am able to do the full-time program at this new school (The Salon Professional Academy, or TSPA) which will have me done in just under 6 months. So, this means school 9am - 5pm Tuesday - Friday with work at the spa 6:30pm - 9pm Tuesday - Thursday and 9 - 6 Saturday and Sunday. Good thing I don't have that much of a social life! My anticipated graduation date is the very beginning of August 2012, and my targeted move date is now early October 2012. 

Honestly, this didn't greatly upset me. TSPA will provide me with waaaaay better training and more in-depth education, and the extra time here in the States helps with planning and saving for the move. I'm on no one's timeline but my own, so whether I was there in March or October doesn't really matter. One way or another, I'll be there!

In August I was promoted to manager at my day spa. I was thrilled and honored that Jenni had that kind of faith in me and was willing to hand me further responsibility even though I'll be leaving next fall. I'm loving my new position and leading my beloved team, and I'm really really proud of the spa and all that we've achieved. We had a very successful anniversary party a few weeks back, more team members are meeting their goals on a regular basis, retail sales are doing better, and my girls seem to think I'm an ok manager. I'm grateful that I am getting the added experience of a managerial position to help boost my resume and add tools to my belt. Somedays I do want to tear my hair out. I figure that's to be expected. As a dear friend of mine told me shortly after I took the position, "Heavy is the crown." Ha. No kidding.
Coming in to the West End ferry terminal

And finally, in October I finally went on my trip to the British Virgin Islands! It was, truthfully, the best week of my life. I stepped off the ferry in Tortola and knew that I belonged there. There was that little shred of doubt in the months leading up to my trip in the event that I didn't like the Caribbean, but after being there less than 24 hours I was certain that it would be my new home. 

I swam. I slept. I ate. I read. I sat on the beach with my toes in the sand. I hiked. I talked to friendly strangers. I had meals in restaurants by myself. I drank Painkillers and watched the sun set over the water. I journaled (a LOT). I prayed. I cried. I laughed. I relaxed. It was a glorious week of sunshine and happiness. Countless times I caught myself with a giant grin on my face, and would think to myself, "People actually LIVE here. And I am going to be one of those people!" while looking out over the pristine blue water and lush greenery. I felt comfortable there. I felt at home.

On the beach at Cane Garden Bay
I will detail my trip in some upcoming posts and break it down day-by-day, but the piece de resistance to this whole shebang was my meeting with Toni, the owner of Sole' Spa. We had been corresponding via email for a few months and planned to get together one of the days I was staying in Road Town. That day came along, and after my INCREDIBLE massage with one of the therapists, Toni and I had lunch and a nice, long chat. I am excited to say that I have a position with my name on it and waiting for me next fall! I loved Sole'. It will be like working at MY Solei, only in Tortola. Toni and I got along just swimmingly. I am so thrilled that this opportunity has come my way and that she feels that I will be a good addition to her team. We discussed the position, moving, getting set up, the work permit process, how to move pets, island time, life as an expat, and all sorts of other things. Toni said we'll start the work permitting process in late July, so as to have everything cleared and ready by early October. I'll finish esthetics in August which gives me 2 months to get my license and all my loose ends tied up. The trip, and my meeting at Sole', could not have gone better. I left feeling 110% confident that I will be moving there next fall. It's scary and exciting and crazy all at once, but life is too short not to take big risks. 

I just wish my dad were around to see me do this. I know he would be so proud of and excited for me. He was always my biggest supporter, even when everyone else thought I was making stupid decisions. Before I left on my trip, a very dear friend and guest of mine at the spa told me that my dad is in every beautiful thing I see. That thought was with me throughout my trip in the BVI, as everywhere I turned was beautiful. I felt so close to Dad and took the opportunity to talk to him often, and I'm certain he was with me. 

So, in less than a year I'll be making the big move. BVI, here I come!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Jenni and I met my first day of massage school in March 2007. She was my very first hands-on instructor and I knew from the moment I met her that I was going to like her. Her obvious love for massage and bodywork and her laid back vibe were exactly what I was hoping to have in an instructor. Throughout my year of training, I was lucky enough to have Jenni for that first term of hands-on as well as two terms of spa class.

Her classes were always my favorites (followed closely by my deep tissue instructor Jason), and I especially loved hearing her talk about her time living and working in the British Virgin Islands. Tortola, Peter Island, Necker Island, gazing out at the beautiful blue water while giving a massage, swimming in the ocean on her days off...it sounded amazing. I admired Jenni in so many ways. Not only was she this incredibly gifted massage therapist but also an esthetician, teacher, wife and mother. She loved what she did, and made us love it too. Being her student was a gift to me.

Jenni often talked about her dream of opening her own spa. The years she'd put into the business and her extensive experience working and managing spas all over had fostered a years-long goal of doing her own thing. She'd talk about her plans and all of us students would tell her "I'll work for you!" while she kindly placated us with assurances that she'd call us if it ever happened.

When I graduated massage school in February of 2008, Jenni and I kept in touch. I knew she liked me as a student (I've always been one of those...it's the goody-goody in me) and I knew I could always turn to her for advice and information. Still, I was flat out shocked when she called me up that summer to say that she was doing it. Her spa was becoming a reality. Construction was in progress. It was really, finally happening...and would I join her team?

What?! I might have peed. Really.

At this point, I had less than 6 months of professional experience. I was massaging out of a little studio space I rented and doing in-home work off and on for friends while still working an office job. I was not exactly spa experienced. Yeah, I'd done the spa internship at school and took the spa training, but I had never worked anywhere as an employee. Jenni told me I was on the short list of people she wanted, and one of only a few former students.

When a dream job opportunity falls into your lap, you don't turn it down. I told her I was honored and that I would love to work for her at Solei.

November was our grand opening. We struggled and cleaned and jury-rigged and McGuyvered and pulled stuff out of our butts for awhile, but soon enough we were up and running and actually felt like a real spa. At first I just worked Fridays and Saturdays, but by March of 2009 Jenni offered me the opportunity to go full-time at the spa and leave my office job.

I have been blessed to have worked for some really amazing people in my short life. Jenni definitely ranks up there as one of the best. Over the past 4 years she has been not only my teacher and boss, but my mentor, my therapist, and my friend. She has supported me (and numerous coworkers) as we've juggled work and school, or work and family, or work and school and family. When I dropped the bomb that I was getting divorced, she and my Solei family swooped in to support me (and give me more hours if needed). When I had a mental breakdown followed by the death of my dad 3.5 weeks later last winter, Jenni insisted I not worry about my job and focus on myself and my family, constantly checking in on me and offering to help in whatever way possible.

She has encouraged me professionally and personally. I have become the therapist I am because Jenni believed in me. So when I told her I was contemplating following in her footsteps to the BVI, I was not surprised when she told me to go for it and that she'd do anything she could to help me. Of course, she hates the thought of losing me at Solei, but she understands the bigger picture. She's excited for me, because she loves Tortola so much herself and knows what the experience did for her.

Seeing Jenni's dream become a reality, and being a part of that process, is something I will always cherish. I have so much pride in Solei. But mostly, I am proud to know Jenni and so incredibly grateful for the huge impact she's made on my life in many, many ways. I can only hope to be half the therapist and woman that she is.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Escaping the Constant Gloom

I love Washington, don't get me wrong. It is beautiful and green and clean and nature-y here. Though it's taken me many years to get to this point, I do appreciate the scenery. But in order to have the year-round greenness we have to have a METRIC F*CKTON of rain and gloom. So. Much. Rain. I am a California girl at heart. I am not made for this constant grey. I deal, since it means we at least have pretty trees and grass and blooming things in return.

However, when I wake up to yet another grey, cold late May morning here in the depressing Pacific Northwest, I can't help but be ecstatic that the temperature in the BVI averages between 77F in the winter and 83F in the summer. Yes, there is rain, but less than 50" a year. Besides, this is what you get in return:

Now that is MY kind of weather!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Hunt!

The hardest part of this whole ordeal, I think, is going to be nailing down a job and getting my work permit in place. The fact that I'm going down and will have the chance to meet employers face-to-face and do a practical helps me, but I'm worried it will be difficult as I'm not going to be moving for another few months after that. "Hey, I want to show you how awesome I am in the hopes that you'll have a job for me in the very near future!" I'm just trying to keep my chin up and trust that everything will work out.

The BVI has very stringent work laws. If not, they'd just have people move there to bum on the beach. So as a foreigner coming to live and work on their beautiful island I have to obtain a work permit that is quite pricey and kind of a hassle to get. Luckily, as an employee my employer should pay for my permit and get all the ducks in a row there. I just can't be on island until they have the permit in their hands. I'm also lucky that I have someone (my boss) that has lived and worked there and knows the process, so it won't be as unknown for me.

Please take comfort that I will not just be moving there with no gig and no plan. I have to have a job before I go, or I'll get stuck on St. Thomas and sent back to WA.

SOOOOO! The first bit of job excitement is that I heard back from Sole Day Spa (where the eff is the accent mark? There should be one over the "e". Gah.) yesterday, and the owner definitely wants to meet with me in October but would like to Skype with me sooner! Woo! This is the spa that my boss worked at and helped to open, and she was extremely excited to hear that I had not only contacted them but that they got back to me so fast. Jenni would just die if I worked there. It'd be very cool. Sole is a small day spa, unlike the other places I'm sending my resume to (big, giant resorts), but it's the place all the locals go and it's right in the heart of Road Town. It'd be a GREAT gig, and I could always work there a few days a week and a few days a week at a resort. The owner seems very nice and I'm looking forward to "meeting" her via Skype.

Also, I just want to point out that today is my Failiversary. I would have been married 4 years today. I will be officially divorced for one year as of Saturday. I have, for the most part, grieved that relationship but I still feel that twinge of pain in my heart. However, if it weren't for that massive upset in my life I wouldn't be pursuing this amazing opportunity. Gotta look for the silver lining, right?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Taking the Plunge

Well, I'm actually doing it. Putting the wheels in motion to leave everything and everyone I know and love. Leaving the comfort of this cocoon known as the US to become an expat. Heading to the British Virgin Islands, 3799 miles from my family and friends.

I couldn't be more excited.

As a massage therapist I have the most incredible career. Day after day I make people feel happy, healthy, better, special. Service to others is my call in life and it's just taken me a bit of time and soul searching to confirm that the best way for me to do that is by continuing in the spa industry. By the end of the year I'll be an esthetician as well, making me more useful and marketable. I'm single, no kids, no mortgage (the ex got that in the divorce!). I need to spread my little wings and fly. Why not work in paradise for awhile? Or forever? Shoot, who knows what the future holds?

So, I have booked a trip to the BVI for October 14-21 to scout out the islands, see where I'd want to live, and hopefully interview with a number of spas. My esthetic schooling will be done at the end of December, my 30th birthday is February 24th and I'd like to be with my family for that, and my lease is up as of March. My plan is to let places know that I'm available as of March 1st. Really, that's 8.5 months away. Not a lot of time to plan and execute a move to a foreign country, let alone a little island.

Today I sent out my resume to:

I'm still researching and figuring out where else to contact. It seems so far in the future but in reality it isn't. My October trip is less than 5 months out, and hopefully my move will be only a few months after that. Crazy, crazy stuff.