I grew up on Long Island, New York. After graduating high school in 1980, I spent over ten years in the restaurant business. I started out by going to bartending school and working a variety of establishments. My favorite jobs found me spending summers in Westhampton, NY. I completed several college classes in working toward a degree in early childhood education. Realizing that my main motivation for pursuing a teaching career was to to have summers off, I returned to the the restaurant business, continuing with bartending, waitressing and some management. Still, because of the undesireable hours, I knew this was not a career track that I wished to be on later in life.
One Christmas I met massage therapist, Nancy. I found her career choice fascinating and through the years I frequently questioned her about it. She was very patient with answering the same questions every year and suggested that since I was so interested that I explore education at the Swedish Institute in Manhattan – the best massage school in America. I sent away for brochures and repeatedly put off the decision. Money was extremely tight and I had a hard time fathoming how, in the financial situation of a young restaurant worker that, I would be able to able to attend school full-time. My cousin Roseanne called to tell me that she decided study massage therapy at the Swedish Institute. Roseanne had no idea that I desperately wanted to attend the Swedish Institute and I felt strong pangs of jealousy. I laughed and told her my feelings and she suggested we go together. Although there was another massage school an hour closer to where we lived, but we both agreed that The Swedish Institute was the only serious choice. This was the final push it took for me to get moving and I spent that summer working day and night to pay off my car and save the down payment for school. After that, I worked at least one day a week to pay for the train ticket and a daily slice of New York pizza.
I graduated in 1994 and began working at the world-class spa and vacation destination, Gurney’s Inn International Spa in Montauk, Long Island. I worked three days a week from 10 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening with only an hour break for lunch. Although physically grueling, it was an incredible learning experience. Gurneys staffed a head nurse, acupuncturist, massage therapists of various modalities, personal trainers and yoga instructors. The opportunity to work with such a diverse and knowledgeable group instilled in me the great importance of life-long learning and aligning myself with skilled professionals so that I would always be able to exchange expertise and complete the most important mission of all – helping the client.
Since Gurney’s Spa was a two hour drive, I established a local business along side two chiropractors and an acupuncturist and soon had a thriving practice. I became very popular and began booking massage appointments a month in advance.
My husband of 14 years and I amicably parted ways and I decided to start life anew elsewhere. I had lived on Long Island all my life and was more than ready for a new adventure. I researched Asheville, North Carolina on the Internet and was planning to visit there when two friends told me they were relocating to Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. In June of 2004, my niece volunteered to accompany me in scouting the area. So, I immediately cleared my schedule and, much to her surprise, off we went to beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. I fell in love with the area and thought I could be happy and make a living, so I put money down on a house just off Scruggs Road and by August, 2004 I was living here! My very smart niece decided to accompany me in the move to Virginia. She worked at the Landing Restaurant for some time and eventually decided to relocate to Roanoke where she joined the Big Lick Conspiracy comedy improv troupe. She earned her real estate license, then the bubble burst and now she is a very successful representative for an array of organic product companies.
As for me, knowing very few people in the SML area, I took a chance on eHarmony late in 2004 and for $49.95 I was connected with my soulmate and best friend, Rick. Although we were already planning to get married in July of 2005, we eloped to Gatlinburg on a Monday morning in early May.
Life is VERY GOOD for us in this area and we hope to stay here for a very long time.
Thanks for reading my story and getting to know me. I look forward to meeting more of my neighbors!
Peace, health, and happiness!