Archive for Tag: spa management company
Einstein Wasn’t a Spa Consultant, But…

April 9, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Einstein Wasn’t a Spa Consultant, But…

You might not hear Albert Einstein’s name come up very often in a discussion about spa management, but here at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, NC, we like to look at things a little differently. And we think Einstein still has something to teach us.

Einstein, a brilliant theoretical physicist who gave us the theory of general relativity and who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, could easily be considered one of the greatest minds of the 20th century – if not the millennium. This was a man who did not shy away from tough questions or hard work. 

Einstein’s Three Rules of Work

Einstein is, rather famously, said to have had three rules of work: “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” 

Our spa consultants think these “rules” can be very relevant to the situation we all find ourselves in these days. 

  • Rule #1: “Out of clutter, find simplicity.”

Have you noticed how very many people are attacking the clutter in their lives while staying safe at home? Yes, many people have time on their hands and are looking for productive ways to fill it, but we think there’s more to it than that. Clearing away the clutter is a wonderful way to gain a sense of control over your surroundings. And once things are clutter-free, it’s much easier to see the way forward. 

  • Rule #2: “From discord, find harmony.” 

From our perspective as day spa consulting professionals, we see this as a reflection of the value of diverse perspectives. Einstein didn’t say, “Ignore those whose ideas differ from yours.” It’s almost as if the discord is an essential element of harmony. 

  • Rule #3: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

It might be a bit of an understatement to say that we are all in the middle of difficulty these days. But we believe that Einstein’s rule holds true and that out of the incredible difficulties we face, incredible opportunities for the spa industry will emerge.

All of us at ISM Spa Management Company hope that you and yours are staying safe. We look forward to working with you when the time is right to start exploring those opportunities for the spa management industry.

Lessons Learned from Spa Management

March 18, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Lessons Learned from Spa Management

The spa consultants here at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, thought this might be a good time to take a few lessons from the day spas we manage

Wellness has become such an important aspect of spa design management and well as day-to-day spa management. And if ever there was a time for all of us to focus on our own physical and mental wellbeing, this is surely it.  

Wellness at Home

All of the spas we managed are powered by Privai, a botanical based product line that promotes a ‘spa in a bottle’ experience. Because Privai is readily available to our guests online, it makes the essence of every innovative spa service accessible at home. Here are 4 ways to recharge and replenish your skin in between spa days:

  1. Apply a facial masque {weekly} – to lock in hydration and keep your skin fresh. Privai’s Aqua Gel Masque is a game changer.
  2. Use an aloe-infused serum – hydrating serums are like a tall glass of ice water for your skin. Use directly after cleansing your face. If you haven’t tried Privai’s Calming Aloe Hydrator, add it to your to-do list.
  3. Stay moisturized – after taking your makeup off at the end of the day, apply a night creme. Privai’s Matte Moisturizer is a guest favorite.
  4. Drink 6-8 glasses of water, every day – and watch your skin thank you for it.

If you’re running low on beauty products, we encourage you to explore Privai’s luxuriously natural line. Upgrade your at-home skin care routine at: www.privai.com.

Of course, visiting one of the day spas managed by ISM Spa Management Company isn’t possible at the present moment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all continue to pursue wellness in our own homes. 

Fortunately, breathing exercises – one of the easiest ways to manage stress – can be done anywhere. 

Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

As the health experts at the University of Michigan Health system explain, “There are lots of breathing exercises you can do to help relax.” They recommend belly breathing as a great one to start with if you want to relax and relieve stress.

Belly breathing

“Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress,” U of M says:

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

 

All of us at ISM Spa Management Company wish you and yours the very best during this difficult time.

ISM CEO and Spa Management Consultant Earns Award

September 6, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

ISM CEO and Spa Management Consultant Earns Award

There’s something about Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of ISM SPA, wellness design management, Ilana Craig Alberico, that you should know. She wants all of us to be the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves that we can possibly be. Seriously. Fortunately for all of us, she brought that philosophy with her when she and Christina Stratton started this boutique spa management company

“Serving people is at the heart of what we do,” Ilana has said on more than occasion. And she means it. 

We think her authentic desire to inspire and facilitate wellness combined with her tireless commitment to excellence had a lot to do with her being selected for the Women Entrepreneurs Best in Business Award sponsored by Webb Investment Services. 

Charles Thompson, director of rooms at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, was among the many who were happy but not surprised to learn that Ilana had been chosen as the recipient of the award, which recognizes a woman who demonstrates the transformation of her dream into reality and who exhibits the traits of an entrepreneur such as: willingness to take risk, personal drive, focus, innovation and business acumen.

“[Ilana] is an outstanding individual,” he said. “She is a motivated individual who is driven to truly excel in her industry and she is an excellent candidate and very well-deserving recipient of this award.” 

As Mr. Thompson noted, “Biltmore and ISM have been a partner for several years now and I’ve watched ISM continue to grow. Ilana is constantly on the cutting edge of understanding what the new trends are in the industry.” 

ISM Spa Management Company has provided a number of services for The Spa Biltmore, including  design, concept and consulting, training and education, pre-opening, daily operations management. 

“Innovative Spa Management provides a very consistent service for our guests,” Mr. Thompson said. “[Ilana] is always trying to be one step ahead in providing what guests are looking for when they go to a spa, what they’re hoping to experience. 

“Ilana and her creative team come together, and they understand Biltmore,” he continued. “They understand what we’re about and who we are. They take and pull inspiration from the Estate and the gardens and they meticulously pull together and create spa packages and spa treatments to provide to our guests which really which really resonates with who we are with our authenticity of being on the Estate.”

If you are interested in the award-winning services provided by ISM, which offers both day spa management services as well as hotel spa management, please contact us.

NEW Privai Rituals & The Bliss of Beauty Sleep

August 15, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

NEW Privai Rituals & The Bliss of Beauty Sleep

It’s the heart of the season of sunshine. What better time to announce that we are releasing three brand-new Privai Rituals aimed at creating personalized wellbeing! 

Christina and I began sensing a need to create a special massage therapy series of body rituals that hold space for deep restoration and disconnection from the demands of your every day. One that also used products that were made from high-quality holistic materials rich with jojoba oil, lavender, and other botanicals that promoted wellbeing. I started feeling that even with massage memberships and frequency on the rise, people were still yearning for something more special, deeper, more complete. 

Over the course of twelve months, I reconnected with my massage therapist self. I pulled out my old journals, formulas, and meticulous notes I had kept from my old massage therapy practice. One that I built alongside a vibrant career in a resort spa working on dozens of people a week. My favorite services to provide, and the ones that produced the most powerful results, were in my private practice. I only booked 90- and 120-minute massages and incorporated a rich array of modalities, tools, and techniques enhanced with natural essential oils. I would use holistic blends rich with skin loving Jojoba oil and lavender essential oil. I wondered ‘why aren’t I creating this restorative and holistic space in our spas today?’ Out of this, the Privai Rituals were born. 

Christina and I developed Privai as a wellness company. Our skin and body care line is made up of products that are specially formulated blends which promote wellbeing. Together with our team of formulators at Privai, and our village of massage trainers at ISM SPA, I knew that we could develop industry leading treatments that feature both our powerful products and our professionally creative massage therapists to create transformational experiences for our guests. 

The Privai Rituals are thoughtfully tailored to deepen self-awareness and facilitate healing on all levels through a complete and transformative wellness experience.  We used historical and originative approaches to wellness along with specially-formulated handcrafted botanically rich products that are uniquely crafted to heighten the experience of these rituals. 

I invited our Corporate Trainer, Daniel McCurry to my home in Atlanta and together with my husband Vincent Alberico, we worked in my loft (now known as the ‘spa loft’) for a week to fine tune the elements and features of each Ritual. Christina took the lead on the ingredient and specialty-sourcing to ensure that we were able to bring about what we all envisioned. Then, Daniel fine-tuned the experiences even more and went on a training tour to bring them to life. 

Our Privai Rituals include Sacred Beauty, Restorative Sleep, and Essential Balance and will be available at the following luxury spa establishments: 

Ama Spa

The Spa at Callaway Gardens

Cypress Spa

Island Spa

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Asheville

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Orlando

Poseidon Spa at Casa Monica Resort & Spa

Poseidon Spa at the Mansion at Forsyth Park

Spa Space

Below, I’ll share with you the Restorative Sleep menu description to provide a better understanding of the meticulous details we undertook in developing each special experience. 

RESTORATIVE SLEEP

Slip into a deep and peaceful sleep tonight with Privai. Sleep is essential for recharging your mind and body. This luxurious 130-minute ritual was designed to help enhance your sleep quality by establishing profound relaxation and relief from stress that builds throughout the day. Certified organic pillows and linens envelop the body, while parasympathetic massage techniques paired with divine essential oils are used to calm and soothe the nervous system. Weighted blankets offer restorative pressure and a warm comfort similar to being held. The art of reflexology completes the ritual—implementing rose quartz, the stone of love, and a heavenly Ultra Rich Body Butter foot massage that will send you into a blissful sleep in no time.

As a business owner and a mother, restful and restorative sleep is an essential ingredient to my success. By consciously dedicating the time and space to ensure a healthy night’s sleep, I can show up as the best version of myself, whether my role is “MOM” or “CEO.” It is absolutely imperative to well-being. There’s no separation between the two.

Can you even imagine the level of intelligence our body requires to function each and every moment?

In this often hectic and endless world of to-dos, many of us will compromise sleep to plow through our day. Over time, these choices can wreak havoc on our bodies. Therefore, it’s not simply an option, but a sheer necessity, to get ample sleep.

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. We are asleep for 1/3 of our life. This is the time that our bodies recover, recharge, and reenergize. Make that environment as pure as possible. Many times, people do not realize that their mattress may be the most toxic piece of furniture in their home, filled with chemicals that we lay down and dream on every single night. Finding an organic or natural mattress is not hard and doesn’t have to be expensive. This is why we partnered with Natural Sleep Mattress & Organic Bedding in Atlanta to create a custom massage table topper for us to create the feel of a luxury organic mattress in each treatment room for the Privai Rituals to create a restorative and luxurious feel to each massage table. The toppers along with the use of holistic essential jojoba and lavender essential oils magnify the total experience of the ritual. We desire each aspect of the Privai wellness experience to be highly curated for your wellbeing. 

Sleep retreats are the new frontier of wellness. They are increasing in popularity across the world. What a wonderful investment—an escape to a tranquil setting with no distractions, to focus on healing sleep deprivation and hopefully, also gain tips and techniques to bring home. It’s not only attaining knowledge about the act of sleeping— it’s also learning how to create the right sleep environment that feels perfect for your unique body type. 

Sleep keeps our heart healthy, reduces stress, makes us more active and alert, boosts memory, restores and repairs cellular functioning, helps to regulate hormones/appetite/mood and much more. There are so many levels and layers of coordination and communication that are performed within the body. All we need to do is learn to listen so that we can heal.

May you all have peaceful, profound, unaltered sleep tonight and every night. Sweet dreams!

 

Sincerely,

 

Ilana Craig Alberico

Founding Partner of Privai and ISM Spa

Spa Consultants know a thing or two about stress

July 20, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Spa Consultants know a thing or two about stress

When most people talk about how stressed out everyone is, it’s usually seen as something negative. In the world of spa management, however, the ever-increasing levels of stress in our world could be seen as promising. 

The hectic pace of today’s world is undoubtedly one of the many factors driving growth in the international spa industry. And according to recent research, it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change any time soon.  

At ISM Spa Management Company, we don’t take pleasure in the stress of others. In fact, we go out of our way to alleviate stress and promote wellness in any number of innovative ways. 

Are we really more stressed than previous generations?

Yes, we are. And Gen Z – those who are currently in the 15 to 21 year age range – is perhaps the most stressed of all. 

Every year, the American Psychological Association commissions a nationwide survey as part of its Mind/Body Health campaign to examine the state of stress across the country and understand its impact. The most recent survey revealed that more than nine in 10 Gen Z adults (91 percent) said they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom because of stress, such as feeling depressed or sad (58 percent) or lacking interest, motivation or energy (55 percent). 

According to the APA, the survey also shows that, “Only half of all Gen Zs feel like they do enough to manage their stress.”

“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer, commented when the findings were released. 

Is it just us?

The short answer is NO! Live Science recently ran a story titled, “People Across the Globe Feeling More Sad, Stressed and in Pain Than Ever.”

“A new survey of people’s daily emotions found that, worldwide, reports of negative emotions — including sadness, worry and stress — have increased over the last decade,” they report.

To understand what global and domestic trends like this could mean for the growth of the spa industry, you can rely on the expertise of the spa consultants at ISM SPA, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, North Carolina.

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

July 8, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

As one of the leading spa management companies on the international scene, ISM SPA management company offers sophisticated spa consulting, spa design management and spa management services specifically geared toward the unique needs of hotel spa management. 

ISM SPA consultants understand that successful hotel spa management goes above and beyond the requirements of day spa management. It is essential not only to operate a spa that maximizes revenues and profits but one that also: 

  • Adds to the value of its client hotel or resort property 
  • Helps to establish the property as a service-centered destination 
  • Inspires repeat visits
  • Contributes to increased occupancy 
  • Enhances the overall brand image

 

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

At ISM SPA, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, NC, our mission is to provide operational excellence and optimal experiences, promoted by our commitment to curated connections, guest gratification and employee engagement. 

Our featured hotel spa management projects will give you an idea of how we pursue that mission:

  • Privai Wellness + Spa

We would like to wish the Privai Wellness + Spa Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, Orlando, Fl, one of our featured properties, a very happy anniversary! It was approximately one year ago that this amazing property first opened its doors. ISM Spa design consultants were intimately involved in the development of this engaging concept and are proud to provide ongoing hotel spa management services. 

ISM Spa consulting and management services provided for the Privai Wellness + Spa at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld include: 

  • Feasibility
  • Brand Concept
  • Renovation Design
  • Spa and Hotel Integration training and IT
  • Pre-Opening Operations
  • Ongoing Management

 

For more information on hotel spa management services from ISM SPA management firm, please contact us.

The EmpowHER Conference: How To Fight Stress

July 2, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

The EmpowHER Conference: How To Fight Stress

I’m thrilled to announce that I was selected by Modern Luxury as one of three speakers for Best Motivational Success Story at the EmpowHER Conference on June 28th. This two-day conference brought together female entrepreneurs, business experts and community leaders to support and celebrate women thriving in business. I’m incredibly honored to have participated as a panelist alongside Elizabeth Morrison, owner of The Fit Atlanta, and wanted to share with you key points from our discussion on how to fight stress.

I believe that stress is a choice. Every single day, we have the choice to set up our lives for success. Ask yourself a bigger question: who am I? Why do I make these decisions? Define your ultimate path and then say no to anything that doesn’t align with your journey. Organize your tasks for the day, but do not dwell on your to-do lists, or you will live in stress. Your stress management is a personalized process. When stress enters our brains, we can make the choice to interpret this stress and stay in the present moment. Take control of your internal landscape. Compartmentalize your life in a new way to avoid this feeling again. When we are pulled in too many directions, we lose sight of what brings us joy. 

The five aspects of well-being are emotional, physical, spiritual, financial and social well-being. Instead of trying to live up to the unrealistic expectation of remaining perfectly balanced in each department, give 100% to whatever area you’re actively working within. For example, when I’m in the office, I try to give my professional duties 100% of my attention. When I’m at home with my children, I give them 100% of my love and attention, and so forth. We now know from research that we can control stress in our brains. The steps for success based off of my experience is to:

a.) Recognize stress when it forms

b.) Understand the power that our minds hold over our reality

c.) Control our external environment by creating a calm space, lighting candles and diffusing essential oils, investing in a high-quality mattress for better sleep, etc. Our environment is conducive to how we physically feel, so let’s make it relaxing as a harbinger for our success!

We underestimate the power of visualization in our lives. Create a vision board. Whenever you have a spare moment, write down in a journal your goals and intentions. This will grant your dreams an exponentially greater chance of being achieved. When you’re in a stressful moment, return to this journal and reflect on your personal pathway again. This will keep you focused and able to say no to the elements in your life that distract you or dim your inner light. 

Give yourself permission to restore when you need to restore. Set yourself up to be the most beautiful, successful version of yourself every single day. You got this! 

Happy Independence Day to you and your family! As we celebrate the freedom of our nation this week, let’s also take active steps to free our minds from the daily burdens of stress.

Sincerely,
Ilana Craig Alberico
Founding Partner, Chief Executive Officer of ISM Spa

Branding is essential in modern spa management

May 28, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Branding is essential in modern spa management

Branding can be an incredibly powerful tool – when done right. 

At ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, TN, we understand that effective branding can provide a competitive edge. Our expertise in both brand promotion and brand development has enabled our clients to enjoy that edge. 

History of Branding 

The background information available on the development branding reveals interesting aspects of successful branding.  

According to a scholarly paper by Karl Moore, at the time an Associate Professor at McGill University, and Susan Reid, an Assistant Professor at the Williams School of Business and Economics, “Brands are as old as civilization.” Indeed, they found evidence of branding, in various forms, dating back to 2250 BCE in the Indus Valley. 

For centuries, branding was used to keep track of the ownership of livestock, a practice that carries on to this day. The modern concept of branding, on the other hand, can only be traced back to the 1970s.  

In How Brands Were Born: A Brief History of Modern Marketing, which appeared in The Atlantic, Marc De Swaan Arons noted that, “The shift from simple products to brands has not been sudden or inevitable. You could argue that it grew out of the standardization of quality products for consumers in the middle of the 20th century, which required companies to find a new way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

From there, he says, “’Winning’ was determined by understanding the consumer better than your competitors and the[n] getting the total “brand mix” right. The brand mix is more than the logo, or the price of a product. It’s also the packaging, the promotions, and the advertising, all of which is guided by precisely worded positioning statements.”

In the 21st century, “The market looks very different to just 20 years ago,” Arons wrote. “The average western consumer is exposed to some 3,000 brand messages a day.” 

Cutting through the Clutter

Our spa consultants work closely with you to develop a concept that will infuse your brand with value. We look at market research to gain insight that will allow us to strengthen your spa’s position. We craft an authentic brand concept based on your spa’s culture that will pave the way for success. We can then weave your spa brand into every aspect of the guest experience – from product and service creation to subliminal design enhancements.

The bottom line: ISM Spa Management Company cultivates successful spa branding. For more information about Concept Development and Branding – or any of our other professional day spa management services – please contact us.

Our spa management company is keeping an eye on 2019 wellness trends

March 6, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Our spa management company is keeping an eye on 2019 wellness trends

As leaders in the field of spa consulting, the team here at ISM Spa makes a point of keeping up with the latest trends – not only in spa management but also in wellness and other related areas.

If you’re interested in spa management – whether day spa management or hotel spa management – you should, of course, already be aware of the ever-increasing importance of wellness. The majority of clients are as interested in strategies for wellness in their day-to-day lives as they are in wellness treatments at the spa.

At ISM Spa, our unique understanding of the spa industry and its clientele has allowed us to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to developments in wellness – both inside and outside of the spa.

A little earlier this year, we saw a report from a Forbes contributor on Wellness Trends You Have To Try In 2019, which was geared to consumers..

Our top picks from their list include:

  • Unplugging. Dr. Alka Gupta, co-director of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing program at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told the reporter, “We are seeing a variety of apps and tools that help us monitor our use of social media. Sometimes consuming social media is important and can be helpful, but we often access this information mindlessly. I think we will continue to become more aware of the way we consume content, allowing us to unplug and avoid digital distractions that are not helpful.”
  • Finding big meaning in small rituals. “This year, we’ll all be shifting into a practice of curating moments that make us pause, appreciate and realize we deserve beautiful moments whenever and wherever we can get them,” Ashli Stockton, founder and chief executive of Sunday Forever, said.
  • Getting back to simple. “People are longing for permission to simplify, unplug and connect in meaningful ways,”  Dr. Lisa B. Nelson, director of medical education at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, says.

 

ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, has designed advanced wellness experiences that are redefining the spa industry. If you want to be ahead of the next trend, one of our spa consultants would be happy to speak with you.

Igniting the Future – It’s a good time for inspired spa management

April 25, 2018 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

The annual International Spa Association’s Conference & Expo provides opportunities for spa professional to learn from and network with respected business professionals and spa industry leaders. This year’s event will be held September 24 through 26 in Phoenix, Arizona. “This isn’t your typical spa event,” organizers say. “It’s an inspiring experience developed for today’s spa professionals by spa professionals.”

One of the highlights of last year’s event was an appearance by acclaimed poet Richard Blanco, who wrote “Ignite the Self Who Loves You Most” specifically for the occasion. Blanco is one of the most beloved and influential poets and storytellers writing today. You may remember when President Barack Obama tapped him to serve as his presidential inaugural poet (only the fifth poet so honored). In addition to his poetry, Blanco keeps busy today as a public speaker, teacher and memoirist. And, as his website says, “He continues to travel the world, inviting audiences to reconnect to the heart of the human experience and all of its beautiful diversity.”

It may be time to start thinking about this year’s conference, but it’s always a good time to take a few minutes to revisit Blanco’s poem.  You can read the poem below or click over to YouTube to hear him speak at last year’s conference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1oF5davKWU

In the poem, Blanco talks about the self “you ignore too often, but who’s always there in the murmur of your every breath, even when you’re not listening.” Here at ISM SPA consulting, we’d like to think that our spa management company was born because we were listening.  

Our company culture celebrates service, welcomes innovation, rewards smart solutions, fosters wellness and reflects the passion that inspired founding partners ILANA CRAIG ALBERICO and CHRISTINA STRATTON. ISM SPA specializes in day spa management and hotel spa management as well as providing a range of spa management services. The spa management company’s approach is grounded in creating positive lasting relationships with clients by building branded spas that offer unsurpassed service, impressive results, attention to detail, and a commitment to continuous improvement.  

 

Ignite the Self Who Loves You Most

By Richard Blanco

Like far too many mornings, you probably woke up today with a stranger who is you, the self you haven’t loved enough, but who’s always loved you, more than enough. The one you ignore too often, but who’s always there in the murmur of your every breath, even when you’re not listening. The invisible arms of the one who holds your soul, no matter how much you resist that embrace. The self who remembers the dreams you’ve given up to the darkness, who’d redeem them for you in full-color, if you’d trust yourself. The one who draws in dawn’s light so you can soothe the worry in your bones and burdened blood you keep living with, though you have a choice. 

The self who calls you to rise like a songbird— sing your truth, though too often you remain mute with fear. The face of the one you hide behind your own face, not daring to stare into the mirror, see straight into the self who does dare to believe in you, wanting you to erase all doubt in your eyes as you brush your hair for the day. The self who invites you to sit for coffee at your kitchen table, and chat like a best friend who knows just what to say to you. The one you don’t talk to enough, whose hand you don’t hold enough, or cry with enough— to let you step at ease into the raging world. 

The self on your way to work who tempts you to turn the radio off, tune your noisy thoughts into a melody. But also longs for you to sing out loud to a favorite song like a prayer. The one who sees poetry in the clouds like a symphony in the distance, sees the pines like giant angels pointing toward heaven—who sees your life like the road before you—one mile at a time. 

The self who makes you stop for strangers to let them cross the street, reminding you of your path. The one you don’t thank enough for teaching you how to give, as rain gives to a river, as mountains give way to dust, as waves give to the shore. The one you forget to give to as much as you give to others. The self you need as much as a bird needs a branch to rest, and a cloud needs wind to carry it, and the moon needs the sun’s touch to let its face shine. 

Enough. Tonight, come home with the self who’s always lived within you. Greet yourself at your door, let yourself in. Pour wine. Break bread. Write in your journal. Forgive yourself, as you have forgiven others. Dance again with the one who’s always been your perfect partner. Pour through old photos and remember the self who’s known all your joys and sorrows since you were a child. The one who can heal all you must heal, who praises all you must praise. Then, carry yourself off to bed in the arms of the one who’s your most loving self. Listen to that pure voice who’s always been your guide, your counsel, your lullaby. Fall asleep as one with the one who’s always burned within you as bright and true as the starlight in your eyes.