• VisionPassionFaith

Wellness for Real, Part Three of Series

Updated: Aug 20

With Lara Davidson, Spa Director at Spa at Pebble Beach My third interview in my "Wellness for Real" series, is with Lara Davidson, Spa Director at Spa at Pebble Beach. What a great time we had on this interview, so much to chat about! Hope you enjoy! Me: So I usually start off with this question - Do you have your own definition of "wellness" that you can share? Lara: I think "wellness" has become a kind of "catch-all" phrase. Wellness and happiness go hand in hand. If I am happy I am well. If I feel good, healthy, am achieving something - I am happy. Happiness and well being go hand in hand. My takeaway: I agree with Lara, and think this is one of the truest definitions of "wellness." It sounds simple, but it is also profound. Simplicity is always where there is truth. In my opinion, many in the "wellness" community are not genuinely happy. When I think back to the times in my life when I was the happiest, I was also the healthiest. As soon as an individual or a group tells me, what I need to be doing, how I need to be doing it, what I need to be eating, or how I need to be thinking- this is not what "wellness" is about. We are all born with the right to think for ourselves, express ourselves creatively, and believe what we want. I also believe we know what foods make us feel good and vibrant. What works for one, may not work for another. When we are aligned with who we are, and take actions from this place- we are happy.. Lara is a true example of "walking wellness"- she is happy, aware, and thus encompasses what it means to be "well" for real! #simplicity #truth #happiness #beinghappyiswellness Me: I know that you have been the Spa Director over at Pebble Beach for a long time. In an industry where there is a lot of "movement" - it is my opinion, when someone stays at a location for a while, it speaks to the management. Good leaders keep people, and create some longevity with their employees. Tell me a bit about how you have been able to stay at Pebble Beach- obviously you enjoy your job. Anything more? Lara: I have been at Pebble Beach for 19 years. I love what I do. For many of the larger corporations, they have "management training programs", and grow their own managers. Part of this sometimes requires movement as they see that there is " value" in moving, and theoretically growing. One of the things Pebble Beach does, is encourage growing within the company. It is a property that values longevity and history. Founded in 1919, every year we celebrate our " twenty five year club" within the company. There are 250 active employees who are active members of this club. This is really unheard of in hospitality. Our company values us and values their team. They give us the freedom to do our job, to take care of our guests, and to be successful . One gentleman here, who is banquet captain, has been here 53 years. My takeaway: I studied Social Psychology at Tufts, and took a class called "Psychology of Corporations." I learned back then, that when a corporation and its leaders are "healthy" at the top- it trickles down. The reverse is also true. When a corporation and its leaders are "unhealthy" at the top - it trickles down too. Being in the Resort/ Boutique Hotel arena for over 15 year, I have observed this, while interacting with small boutique hotels, large brands, mediums sized companies. "Healthy" companies versus "unhealthy"- has nothing to do with the size. Has everything to do with the leadership. I can always tell when employees are valued and appreciated. I am so happy that Lara is treated well, as she is no doubt a valuable asset to whomever she may work with and for. I am glad she is in an environment where she can thrive, be happy, and be fulfilled. #healthyleadership #healthycompanies #healthycorporations Me: So, I am thinking after this last question, I would think that you must also then get a lot of regular guests. Typically, in these types of environmentts where employees are happy, the guests can feel this, and want to return. Do you get a lot of regulars? Lara: Yes, we do get a lot of regular guests. Some people have been coming here for forty years or so , and come every year at the same time. Many of them also request their same room. They know everyone in our front office, and we also have lots of groups coming here, some thirty years or so, year after year. Many of our guests feel like they are coming to their "other home." It is a very nice feeling. Kinda like "Cheers" - our regular guests like coming to a place "where everyone knows their name." My takeaway: We all want to feel "at home." Whether traveling for business, personal, leisure... with so many choices, most choose where they feel most welcomed and treated well. People are not "numbers" and the number of guests/occupancy should not be reviewed by "spreadsheets." In my opinion, the true value and barometer of a good Resort/Hotel is do their guests love coming there, as well as coming back. And are the employees happy and do they feel appreciated. #hotelloyalty #resortloyalty #happyemployees Me: I know you have been like many of us, who have been embracing their time at home. There are some who are "bored"- I have never in my life been bored. And there are some who are constantly calling others, and want to chat , and "infringing" on what others are choosing to spend their time "off" doing. I know you have been baking a lot, and enjoying this time at home . In my opinion, this is indeed an aspect of "wellness"- being able to fill one's days with things that bring them joy. There is not a "one sized" fits all approach to this. People find their joy and inspiration in all different ways. I have been finding all the blessings in this time, and I think some of us, will come out of this stronger in who we are , and healthier in all aspects, as well as with some deeper connections with others. This is an amazing time to "know thyself" and not allow others to tell us who we are, and what we need to be doing and thinking during this time. Thoughts? Lara: So , I am working from home, and I also come in once a week, and take care of things that I can not do from home. I am definitely maximizing my time at home, and this is the most my children have seen me and they are appreciating it. Aside from baking, I am gardening. and reading books. I alternate between good fiction and trashy types of beach reads. I was just reading an article in Harvard Business Review, on the topic of career change and how this is a time to really process a lot of emotions and desires, and just be. I do not feel like I have to do every project around my house, I do not have to spend all my time reading books on self improvement. etc... I signed up for a Yale course online, on wellness, but I haven't started it yet. Our brains need time to just be, to have space; and also capacity to expand. My takeaway: I could not have said this any better. I am a big believer in spending time in joy and doing things that light us up. I have always had a lot of hobbies and things to do that inspire me. In my opinion, as Lara said in our opening... the term "wellness" has become some "catch all" phase . I predict in the very near future, that we will have a new and more evolved term to reference when we speak on "wellness"- possibly the words " wellness alignment " may work better. As Lara so eloquently shared in this interview, at the core of "wellness" is happiness. and to be happy we really have to be aligned with who we are, and what makes us happy. #justbe #beingversusdoing #wellness alignment Me: So would you be able to share that article, I would like to reference, and also of course read it. Lara: Sure. I'd be happy to. My takeaway: It was not one minute after this interview, that Lara emailed me the Harvard Business Review article! Please see below referenced link: Hope you enjoy it, as much as I did. These are terrific times to just "be" and reinvent. #harvardbusinessreview #reinvention. https://hbr.org/2020/04/reinventing-your-career-in-the-time-of-coronavirus Me: So you mentioned not taking the Yale online class. For those like us that have so many interests, we really have to prioritize our time and energy, and make good decisions from our core. How do you make decisions, whether to do something or not? Lara: I have been blessed with so many opportunities to learn and grow. Here at Pebble Beach I had to learn retail, and F&B; I also went to massage school. Learning new skills and finding things that interest me is always terrific. Twenty seven years ago I started in this industry, and it is important for my own sanity to continue to have something fresh. It does not have to be "huge" like getting a Masters/ MBA. I look to whether or not it would really be worth my time, energy, and money. My takeaway: Love Lara's answer!! I am a huge believer in looking especially at the "energy expenditure", when it comes to making decisions. Even if a "small decision." I wrote a poem a while back on Energy ROI - there is indeed a "cost" to our energy expenditure. Lara is one of the few that I know who mentions time, money, and energy. When making decisions, obviously there is always a time investment, as well as things may also require a financial investment. Most importantly, for me, I always look to the energy. How much energy will I need to expend, and will I find joy, and fulfillment from this expenditure. If there is no joy, no fulfillment - it is hard for me to invest energy. #joy #fulfillment #energyinvestment. Me: So in reviewing your bio, I saw that you went to school for English and History. You have a BA in both. How did you evolve into Hospitality and Spa? Lara: I have a degree in English and African American History. All in my family are scientists.( parents and grandparents, cousins) - all but me. I went to school and was a chemistry major. I was always good at science and math. In college, it was not as interesting to me, and I chose to take classes that were interesting to me. English and a lot of authors (southern authors and African American), I really enjoyed. In my junior year, I was told that if I took two more classes, I could have a "double major." My takeaway: Like Lara I have a double major - Social Psychology. Like Lara, I was very good at science and math, and took honors physics in high school. I thought I would end up being a physics major. When I went to college, though I was still interested in physics, I gravitated towards the psychology and sociology classes, as I enjoyed them the most. When it was time to 'declare" a major I was top heavy in both these areas, so this was my major. To this day I am fascinated with energy, especially as it relates to individuals. I believe that we all hold a frequency, based upon our level of consciousness, and based upon the healing that we have done at our core, (dealing with any conscious and / or subconscious blocks). We are here to be well, thrive, and be happy, vibrant, and fulfilled. This interview with Lara was definitely a deeper eye opener, as to how many of our "relationships" hold deeper threads of commonality than we may think. Getting to know Lara on a deeper level was such a treat for me, and I really enjoyed our chat! It was light, fun, and quite refreshing! I so appreciate Lara's time to chat about "wellness for real." To learn more about Pebble Beach and the Spa at Pebble Beach, please check out: https://www.pebblebeach.com/the-spa-at-pebble-beach/ https://www.pebblebeach.com

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