Posted on February 6, 2023
Creekhaven Inn & Spa is a beautiful bed and breakfast located just minutes away from Wimberley Square. Its owner, Helena Hauk, is dedicated to creating a healing and relaxing getaway for her guests. It’s not just a pretty place to stay among the trees. Creekhaven is meant to be a backdrop for transformative experiences, and people of different ages and backgrounds are bound to find what they’re looking for there. A big part of this is Helena’s extreme dedication to providing the best service she can give to her customers. Helena also shares how she is giving back to the community as a whole and how she is taking care of herself as the prime driver of her business. Tune in and be inspired by her story!
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Creekhaven Inn & Spa: A Place Of Rest And Rejuvenation With Helena Hauk
In this episode, our guest is Helena Hauk, Co-owner of Creekhaven Inn & Spa, a beautiful bed and breakfast just minutes from Wimberley Square. Helena is not only dedicated to a healing and relaxing getaway for her guests but she’s also dedicated to the health and success of this wonderful community. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you, for having me.
I’m excited to talk with you here. We have been working together on several different things. I have been spending time in your beautiful property. It’s amazing. I don’t know why it took me so long to get there or anybody else who hasn’t been there. Let’s back up a little bit so that you can tell all of the wonderful and amazing stories and the journey that got you to where you are because you have so many talents that are the backdrop of what Creekhaven is now. Tell us your story.
It’s a long meandering story. When I was fourteen years old, I discovered there was such a thing as a bed and breakfast, which I thought was so fascinating. Randomly, I was volunteering at the Chamber of Commerce in Greater Las Cruces, New Mexico and that’s where I stumbled upon learning about business, commerce, tourism, and hospitality. It sucked me in and was fascinated.
I began to soak up as much information as I could. I found that there was a high school course that led to a tourism college credit at the local university at MNSU and that was my first formal educational pursuit as it were and continued on from there. Throughout school, I was an academically ambitious high schooler. I was not your traditional kid.
I did AG in jobs outside of school and didn’t pursue sports. I was working. I got a scholarship to go to the University of Houston, Conrad Hilton School for Hotel and Restaurant Management, a mouthful, and was in Houston for five years. Working and pursuing my degree alongside each other. I had some great work experiences, including waiting tables, front of the house, operations at restaurants and hotels, and then back of the house as well.
I spent two years at the Houston Club where I had a lot of interesting experiences there, events, membership, marketing, and all kinds of good stuff. I got an internship at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary, Canada. When I came home to the states from that internship, there were lots of wine-drinking stories that I want to share those stories over a glass of wine more so than for a show to fill in all of those gaps.
When I came home to the States, my parents were in Kyle, Texas, down the road. After a 32-hour straight drive home, two days later, I went to a chamber networking event with my father. He was managing an RV dealership in Buda and found out that they needed an admin. I applied there, started working, and became the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Kyle.
How long did that take?
I was there for just about two years. My father had been diagnosed with cancer. He was given 90 days to live. I had been pursued by one of our board members of the Chamber to consider changing careers and pursuing lending. A very niche commercial real estate financing product that is an SBA Government-backed product and has lots of compliance. It’s a very obscure program. It’s not the first program you think about when you say, “I need to get a loan to grow my business.”
It’s a very beneficial program. I have come to be passionate about it but in any case, I found out my father didn’t have much time left and I wasn’t making the most income to be able to contribute to help my mom in any way, shape, or form. I felt if my dad wasn’t going to be here, I needed to step up and help my mom somehow. I asked for an interview for this lending position and I got hired and spent thirteen years as a small business lender. I became an expert in the SBA 504 and 7(a) lending space. I had my own consulting firm, went to Colorado, and helped grow or start an organization that wasn’t the best fit for myself and my family at the time.
I’d also found out I was pregnant with my daughter, our second child, and my best friend and my mom were trying to get us back to Texas. Another margarita story in there. We came back to Central Texas, this was now 2016. I had been hired on by a bank out of Houston to start their SBA department in Central Texas and to lead that team. When my husband and I came back to Texas from Colorado, that whole experience opened my eyes to realizing that I was not on the path to pursuing my passion.
I watched a lot of cooking shows like Emeril Lagasse and their life story. I was fascinated by the fact that so many of these amazing chefs and, fill in the blank, celebrities who knew what they wanted to do since they were very young, set out on that path, pursued it, mastered it, or amazing loving life, and so on. Not everybody has that whole story but I was looking inward going, “What am I missing? Why are things not lining up for me?”
I was unhealthy. I was suffering from migraines and adrenal fatigue. Barreling towards complete adrenal burnout, which is constantly sick while raising two children, leading teams, trying to grow multimillion-dollar SBA departments, and always trying to help others. I finally got to the bottom of understanding that my natural inclination towards hospitality and working with people and helping other people was what I loved about my banking job and all of the lack of control and arbitrary rules.
You can be so passionate and check all the right boxes for a client and still not get a deal done for them because you have folks in a boardroom that have never met this person. These businesses make the decisions on where they are lending their money. The disconnect between the two and the effort was just weighing on me alongside my health declining big time.
I saw a lot of parallels between my father’s health decline to what I was experiencing. I told my husband, “Something’s got to change. We have got to redirect this energy and figure out how to get off the train.” With that, we had an interesting experience while we were in Colorado, where we ran across a bed and breakfast that had been burnt down in Morrison, Colorado, near Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
It was the first time in our relationship where we both had ideas or we had this role, beautiful energetic exchange of, “I love that. I had that idea too. We could do this and we could do that.” We were starting to unfold this vision of owning a bed and breakfast together that we had never talked about before. When we came back to Texas, we said, “Let’s revisit that discussion, and let’s put a 5 to 10-year plan together on trying to pursue that.”
There are a couple of things weaved in here. I’m still working full-time for a bank and have a newborn and a toddler. During the whole year of 2017, I had three surgeries on a constant health decline, and weekly migraines, just constantly sick and still constantly trying to pursue. I remember it was a Sunday afternoon. I’d gotten off the phone with my chief credit officer fighting for one of my clients. I said, “I can’t do this anymore. We have got to do something different.”
We had already determined that we wanted to have something in the Hill Country. We were in Spring Branch at the time and we had bought the Domain Hill Country Haven. We knew we wanted it in the Hill Country and it to be some a haven. I had been pursuing an integrative nutrition coaching certification as a means to better understand health and wellness for myself. It sparked a passion in me for, “If I’m going through this, surely other people are. How can I be a positive cog in the wheel of all this and bring this forward to share with others?”
We looked at land all over the Hill Country and found this property that was near a wedding venue and another wedding venue opening. We were about to put down a deposit on securing the land to build a home for ourselves and two cottages. I had a vision of being able to host people. Not only for the weekends but for weddings because there’s no lodging near these wedding venues. I thought, “25% occupancy right there, easy-peasy,” then build this wellness, retreat type of environment.
After I got off the phone that time because we were going to put on an offer. I said, “I’m going to see, we had dismissed buying somebody else’s business,” because having been a lender for years, I did a lot of business acquisitions. I had witnessed what it looks like to buy someone else’s problems and sometimes it worked out well and sometimes it didn’t. In hospitality, from a venue, the physical structure standpoint, and having a background in commercial real estate construction and financing all of that. I was hesitant to step into anybody else’s anything.
After having that a-ha moment after I got off the phone that day, I did a quick search and I found Creekhaven Inn was for sale. I did a Google search and I remember Don was working in the yard. I was on the back porch and I said, “What do you know about Creekhaven?” Rewind really quick, right after Don and I got engaged, he moved down from Dallas to Kyle and got an assistant innkeeper position at Inn Above Onion Creek, which is now Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek. He worked there for five years. That was his first exposure to hospitality and he loved it.
When he worked there, they referred business to each other. Creekhaven would refer to Inn Above Onion Creek and vice versa. He had some familiarity with them and knew them as a premier property in the space. From there, I called the owners and said, “We are interested in looking at the property,” just getting a peek behind the veil.
She told me, “Sure. We can meet with you. You will have to have a considerable down payment.” I will remind you, we had started our 5 to 10-year plan to save money to build a property and so on. Meaning we didn’t have any money. We are regular people trying to live the dream and figure out how to make it happen. “Sure. No problem. We can get investors together.” I’m creative. We can figure this out but they were going to be out of town for weeks.
We set a meeting to meet when they got back. That same day, I was at a closing in Lockhart. On my way back, MapQuest took me home to Spring Branch through Wimberley. I drove through the property at that time. I think it was Memorial Weekend, Don and I came up that weekend, drove through the property, and tried to look around but it was booked by a family. Anyway, we started pursuing and nibbling at whatever information we could start gathering.
We met with Bill and Pat, hit it off, and had a great first discussion with them, establishing our interest and our background, and sharing with them, “We will figure this out. We will come up with investors.” All the while, we’d leave the meeting going, “How are we going to do this?” I put together a structure that was a lease with the option to buy that allowed us to remove some barriers to entry, which is usually a hefty down payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and put a lease structure together.
I presented to Bill and Pat and I said, the previous owners, “Either you can make more money off of us or I can dilute our earnings and ownership and get investors. There’s not a big margin here to dilute with. Here’s a business opportunity for you.” I made it appealing and it worked. We had a five-year runway. What that means is we gave ourselves a five-year lease, an absolute net lease, which means we were responsible for everything with the real estate.
If there was a repair that needed to be made or property taxes that needed to be paid, you name it, we were responsible. We went back and forth on a lot of the details. I didn’t want them going off into retirement. They had a mortgage payment still to make then did not make their payment then the bank comes and we did everything right. I made their payment for them. We put a lot of safeguards in place for each other. We created an extremely transparent working environment between each other where we basically were, “You folks can go vacation in Florida and start your retirement process and give us the reins.”
Draw lines in the sand on revenue and all the things from a technical standpoint. There are a lot of technical components that went into it. There’s a lot of trust and faith. We all left and it worked. We got handed one problem after another from day one. First, our website. We were relaunching a new website. We rebranded with a new logo. The website kept getting hacked and we kept getting into the Google no-fly zone where you look like you have been spammed and hacked by China.
We had to move domain hosting and servers. There were a lot of technical things Don had to build and rebuild the site. He’s amazing in that skillset where he can look things up, read things, and figure out how to do whatever. We start to get our feet under us about halfway through 2019. We took over on December 1st, 2018. It’s about halfway through 2019, we are finally getting through things and we agree we weren’t going to spend a penny on the property that wasn’t necessary from a cosmetic standpoint.
From my experience in business acquisition financing, you don’t go in and start changing things no matter how much you think. It’s just a big no-no. You go in, you wear it, you experience it, you do it, and then you start identifying low-hanging fruit and priorities and you go from there. A lot of that comes from guest feedback or client feedback and that’s where you prioritize your first action steps.You don't go in and start changing things no matter how much you think you know better. You go in, wear it, experience it, do it, then start identifying low hanging fruit priorities, and go from there. Click To Tweet
We quickly determined that the decor was twenty years old. It was very relevant at the time that it was but it was very dated now. We started lipstick on a pig type of thing. Started painting and cosmetic things. We took out all of the heavily draped linens that you couldn’t wash. Every guest turns them into duvets and duvet inserts and where you could start turning things over.
I started becoming a toxin-free environment. I have a lot of migraine and headache triggers and allergens. With my integrative nutrition background, I learned all of these things about toxins and the bodies being constantly assaulted every day with all of these different environmental toxins. Removing as much of that as possible, Clean and Clear laundry detergent, and no perfumes and dyes. Starting to change the menu to where we could incorporate some more scratch-made offerings.
One thing at a time, little by little, then we got hit with COVID, got shut down, lost six weeks’ worth of revenue and lots of deposits, and lots of angry people that we had no way to combat that, “I’m coming for a wedding and I’m never coming there again if they are not getting married. I don’t want a gift certificate or I don’t want this or that.”
It was quite challenging in a lot of ways but during the first eighteen months that we were owners of the inn, both Don and I worked at our banking jobs outside of the inn full-time. In March 2020, I got laid off from my banking job because the bank said they weren’t going to be doing any more small business lending now because everything was uncertain. My mom was working as an underwriter and packager for a national lender service provider.
We all were doing SBA or all SBA specialists. The next priority is PPP. While we were crickets at the end, we stayed in place at the end so that way we could be there to respond to anything that showed up, came up, or whatever but we were processing PPP loans, all three of us 24/7, around the clock. I had several lenders in town that were referring local businesses and churches to me that I had been networking with prior to getting laid off.
There were about 30 businesses here locally and churches that I was able to source for PPP, got our loans for PPP, and SBA idols. I did UTSA SBDC consulting for a bit too for their COVID response team and tried to stay nimble, flexible, aware, and respond to the opportunities and the challenges that were getting thrown at us. Fast forward to the fall of 2020, once everything opened up in May of 2020, we went up.
Our trajectory went nice with the line chart going up and up. Every month, we surpassed the previous month on gross revenue and we couldn’t believe what was happening. People wanted to get out. They wanted to see a local and to be able to have their own air conditioner. In September 2020, we refinanced the acquisition with an SBA loan with the program that we knew or that we knew so well. The previous owners were able to get that first big payoff. We had our five-year runway, we hit it in eighteen months with all of these challenges that were thrown at us and continued to grow. In the first three years of ownership, we tripled the top-line revenue.
We are trying to run the business like a business and there’s nothing negative in that. The previous owners were in semi-retirement mode, so there were investments they weren’t willing to make back into the property or the operations and that worked for them. We have taken a very business-minded approach to growing a business and being very deliberate and intentional about everything that we are bringing into the space. You mentioned values-driven businesses and that’s been 100% at the core of everything we do from a clean environment and I mean that in every sense of the word.
Supporting women-owned businesses and local businesses in the products that we are selling, featuring, and utilizing from our linens to our coffee. The very first change we made was the coffee. We were at BOO! Hole, which is a local October Halloween Fest at our Blue Hole Park. There was a vendor there, D’s Roastery. It’s a local organic roastery and a sweet family. It’s a wonderful couple that owns it. That was the first change we made to Sam’s Club Coffee.
We took one little thing here and there but were constantly at it. If there was a guest feedback that said, “This could have been better,” and every single guest, we ask the question, “What could we have done to make your stay better?” We ask them that in person. We do follow-ups, surveys, and emails but we implement them. Sometimes we can respond right then and there to a guest’s suggestion need.
We had one guest and this is not something that you can do easily anytime but we have our own list of things we want to do then when a guest comes in and says, “I thought this room had a fireplace,” for example. That’s not an easy one to fix but we have this one suite that is a cabin-like feel. It’s called our creek house. There’s no place to put a fireplace because it’s a rock wall, at least easily. We thought, “We will put it. We will go to Lowe’s and buy an electric fireplace. It will still be a nice ambiance and an enhancement to the experience.”
We went and bought it right there during their stay. They were in for another three nights and they were just blown away that we went and did that. There are makeup mirrors, so we have tried to put makeup mirrors in all the rooms. It’s funny because I will have women in their 60s or 70s, “These old eyes, I need a little magnification and it would help.” I tell them, “It doesn’t matter what age you are, if that’s helpful, we will see what we can do.” We try.
If there’s a local product, all of our toiletries, the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and lotion in our rooms are from Hummingbird Farms, which is a woman-owned business out of high between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. It’s a wonderful quality product and we get to support a local woman-owned business.
Our bath products from bath bombs and bubble baths are handmade and handcrafted in Houston by another woman-owned business. Our spa and our facial line, a woman-owned businesses. She’s a little further away but it took me a few two years to land on that product line because I wasn’t finding a product that met the values that were clean, organic, woman-owned, and accessible. That’s the other thing is it doesn’t need to be hundreds of dollars to be a good quality product.
I have come across an introduction from you, for example, for another product out of Austin that I’m interested in exploring further. I have inquiries into tea companies, chocolates, and all kinds of things in and around the Austin area. I’m in constant pursuit of who, what, when, or where can I support our offering. How can I enhance the guest experience and also support a locally-owned business?
Another area that you seem to have at the top of your mind, you seem to have a lot of things at the top of your mind.
It’s very busy up there.
It’s effective, so that’s good. The concept of integrative wellness, you mentioned the certification and integrative nutrition but you were talking about clean products in the rooms. Tell us about some of the other things that you have implemented into the end like the food and dietary options and things that you have thought about on the horizon.
At the beginning of 2020, before the bottom fell out, I had personally in my wellness journey decided I wanted to do a mind-body-soul focus for the year. There was a local wellness event that was going on every February that hasn’t happened for the last two years. I met a yoga instructor at an Ayurveda 101 breakout at this particular event. I also met Mary as well there. I was fascinated by Ayurveda. I had tried yoga myself numerous times over the years and sometimes it made me sick because there’s this theory that sometimes your body is so toxic and so sick that when you try to do something good for it, it releases the toxins into your system and it refloods your system and makes you feel sick again.
Your pursuit of well-being seems almost impossible because every time you do something good, it feels bad. That’s what I kept experiencing but I kept having a filling a pool towards yoga and this holistic idea of wellness. I had been exposed to the integrative nutrition coaching program as well. In any case, I committed to the yoga immersion that was starting in May 2020 in February. The instructor, Becky, had a local yoga studio lined up to host it.
It was a three-month immersion, 200-hour yoga teacher training. The first half was an immersion and then you could continue on to become a certified yoga instructor. I committed to that process with her, then COVID happened. She said, “I’m going to have to cancel the class.” I was like, “No, you can’t. I’m ready for this. Finally, my teacher appeared. I’m ready to commit.” I offered to host it outside at Creekhaven. That opportunity opened my eyes to the ability, opportunity, and potential for Creekhaven to be a backdrop for many more transformative experiences like I had just gone through the yoga immersion and teacher training.Creekhaven is meant to be a backdrop for transformative experiences. Click To Tweet
I felt since the day that we looked at Creekhaven that it is meant to be the backdrop for transformative experiences. However, simple or small to significant, those experiences may be from a couple coming to retreat and reconnect on their anniversary and having quiet time away from the kids to yoga and women’s wellness resets, where you rarely have an opportunity as an individual to connect with yourself at a new whole new level that you didn’t know was possible or getting exposure to a new modality or technique of healing and wellness. A discovery level of accessing new areas that you might not have been exposed to before.
You have the spa, which has a lot of standard treatments but you also are currently offering reiki and you have talked about integrating sound bath, which is something that a lot of people haven’t experienced but it’s transformative.
It is and that’s one of the things I can ramble on in minute detail but there were spa services. There was an alcohol-style massage offering when we took over. I wanted to have a dedicated spa space to create the ambiance and the space and to immerse yourself into the relaxation and higher practitioners that are the best in the area that we can get our hands on to not only from traditional Swedish relaxation massage, which in itself is healing and therapeutic to deep tissue. A little more of a sports therapy, just therapeutic stretching and movement.
Some of our guests will walk out of a massage going, “I didn’t know I needed that and that was amazing.” Amazing facials and Ayurvedic scalp oil treatments and reiki which, in simple terms, are the movement of energy through a skilled practitioner that’s channeling the support there. Everything has energy in it and it’s mind-blowing once you start learning about all of that. There are scientific components to it beyond the metaphysical.
I know a lot of people think of Wimberly like Sedona, very woo-woo but it’s amazing when you start to see the effects on your own health and wellness. Sound therapy sessions are so healing in so many different ways. There’s a local practitioner that I adore and I love working with her. I’m hoping that we can integrate more consistently her skills into the spa and wellness offering, yoga classes. I have had yoga instructors and I have instructed myself.
Winter is a tough time for us because our setting is so outdoors. It’s immersing in nature as part of the experience with Creekhaven. We are on Cypress Creek. We have thousands-year-old trees. It’s amazing to be in the presence of nature not only within Wimberley but on the Creekhaven property. Being able to expand upon all of that immersion and additional wellness modalities. I’m looking forward to continuing to expand upon those in the outdoor setting.
The biggest challenge on our property is we don’t have a ton of available air-conditioned space. We have one restroom that’s not in a guest room. We don’t have a ton of parking. We are like in an island on our own back there because we are tucked next to a creek and other properties. We can’t build on the property and expand in the way that we would love to expand for all these offerings.
We lean on nature. We have got a ton of beautiful lawn space and creekside space where being able to have these different experiences but winter sets us back and we have to adjust our schedules. Coming into the spring, we will be rolling out yoga by the creek again based on Thursdays. We will be able to start rolling those out.
Keep following us on Facebook and Instagram to see that. We will keep you posted there. Steph and I and some other locals are working on some workshops and retreats that we hope to unveil very soon here at Creekhaven. Let’s begin the next stage of unfolding our wellness offering at Creekhaven. I didn’t talk about the food.
That was going to be one of my next questions. You did change up the menu quite a bit. You have a lot of experience. You are trained and then also, it’s not that you have a passion for good food. You now have this understanding of wellness that you didn’t have when you went on that journey.
I’m semi-classically formally trained in cooking. That was a requirement at U of H, the Conrad Hilton School. For simplicity’s sake, pre-packaged and pre-made items were outsourced to the breakfast menu by the previous owners. We began making things from scratch, from scones to a numerous array of pastries.
In the early days, Don and I were in the kitchen predominantly and we played a lot, so we experimented with things. We started one raw ingredient at a time as we could afford to do so, started swapping out to organic ingredients, and getting more tuned in with gluten-free baking. We have an amazing in-house staple granola recipe that’s gluten-free. It’s very light and refreshing.
We have a vegan version. We were gifted a recipe book from a friend of ours out of Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s the bank that Don works for is based out of Lincoln. It’s a lady that owns a bakery that has a lot of intolerances herself. In her bakery, she offers a lot of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan completely free from baking and she does an amazing job with it. She came out with a cookbook that has conversions for pretty much every recipe to be fully all-in, all the good/bad stuff to vegan flax eggs, for example, how to make a flax egg to replace a traditional chicken egg.
There are a number of things that she teaches you in each of the recipes. We have played with some of those recipes. Our standard cinnamon roll recipe has come out of there and is a traditional cinnamon roll recipe. If you are not intolerant but you choose to be free from it, it’s a good one to cheat with. There’s an amazing apricot oat bar recipe. I get asked for the recipe all the time. I get asked for our frittata recipe all the time. It’s been interesting.
There was a buffet with these pre-packaged and pre-ordered items. We went to continue the buffet but made things from scratch. Scones were the first thing I started to master. Organic fruit in the scones was possible. There’s this great frozen mixed berry blend that is a mixed berry scone with a lime glazed and fresh lime in the dough. It’s a special one.
I have come up with over 25 different scone recipes and have fun with them. At one point, one of my team members had a t-shirt made for me that said, “Scone Queen.” Don’s the Cinnamon Roll King and I’m the Scone Queen but we have played with a lot of different things. We have hosted groups where there have been lots of different dietary restrictions. Everybody’s going through something or trying to pinpoint what it is that is making them ill, feel bad, or fill in the blank.
There’s a lot of suffering that’s happening out there. Some of it is stemmed from what we are putting in our bodies. Part of that integrative nutrition component is how can I support people in what they are going through. It could be from a vegan. I think we have gotten a lot better at the vegan offering, tofu scrambles, meatless bacon, sausage, and whatnot. There are some things that I have made that I’m like, “I would eat that every day. That’s pretty darn good.”
It’s sautéing vegetables together and making things from scratch and sourcing clean ingredients sometimes can make all the difference in a recipe coming together and tasting good. I have a tomato basil soup recipe that everybody loves. It’s very creamy but there’s no cream in it. I can make it completely vegan or I can add chicken stock and vegetable stock for example and it can go either way. The way that you make things, source things, and incorporate them can make all the difference and it’s tasting amazing. Everything’s made with love, so you get that too.
Now the tough question, we talked about all the things that are in your mind. You are working with the city on all sorts of different matters, the Chamber of Commerce and hotel occupancy, techs, and all the different things constantly thinking about how to connect, give back, and how to grow your own business and provide health and wellness and retreat. How do you take care of yourself and continue to think about your own wellness?
I’m constantly resetting. Like most women and the mother figure giver role, the ultimate feminine constantly gives back. I have learned a lot about self-care and I have found a big attraction towards slowing and going inward more. It has to do too right now. I’m trying to line up with the seasons a little bit better. Winter is more of a slowing and restorative. Taking more downtime, trying to incorporate in baths, reading, podcasts, and relationship building too. That’s an important part of what I restore from.
Trying to constantly come back to it because it doesn’t matter how good you are at self-care, self-awareness, or your own wellness needs, something’s always going to pull you away from it. Having the awareness to know I’m being pulled away and to bring yourself back to the center, I do a lot of meditation. I’m constantly consuming podcasts, books, and anything I can get my hands on, more or less.
This doesn’t all happen by myself. I have an amazing team. My mom is an amazing huge component in me being able to do all of these things. Don incorporates into that as well and helps with the kids. Everybody contributes in their own way. It’s not rainbows and unicorns. It’s not perfect all the time. More allowance and acceptance of that awareness and growing as an individual human being on my own continued wellness journey. It’s not any one way or any one thing. It’s a lot of things and it takes a village to make it all happen.
Has your health improved since you got out of lending and started paying more attention to making decisions that are healthy for you? I want to take the moment to reiterate that a wellness journey is individual. Certain things that are healthy decisions for some people are not for others, so you have had to discover that along the way.
Stress was a big component of my illness, my not being well but stress is everywhere. It still is everywhere now. It’s how you manage it and have the tools to manage that. Guided meditations, yoga, and breathing. Stopping and breathing are huge components of that. In October of 2017, I was having weekly multiday migraines with vomiting and completely debilitating. Not able to function at all weekly.
I’d come out of 1 after 3 days and I would start to get going again and I’d be right back down. Now my migraines are more monthly. I still have some debilitating migraines. In the last couple of months that now that I have had them, I have been able to curtail them and still have a day to navigate. Whereas before, I’d be in a dark room with an ice pack and no noise. Completely shut off from the world of having newborns. Not being able to hear your kids’ happy sounds is heartbreaking.
That was my why. That was like, “I have got to do something. I can’t keep going on and not be able to interact with my own children,” because I’m so ill that I can’t handle it. Fast forward to now, there are ups and downs. There are starts and stops, progress, 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 2 steps forward, and 4 steps back sometimes but it’s a continuous process and much improved. When I committed to my yoga journey, I was nervous that I was going to pay this money and make this investment and not be able to be well through it.
Amazingly, not only did I do well through it, I thrived and excelled. I was most improved. I was the furthest away from the goal when I started from the other students there but I have learned so much. I have incorporated so much in these past few years. I have met some amazing practitioners in this community in particular and have been able to explore lots of new areas that weren’t even on my radar before. That’s where I go back to being able to create a safe space for discovery for others that might be in that same career. “Go.” I’m sick. I don’t feel well but I don’t know what’s wrong with me or I go to the doctor and they can’t pinpoint anything or I put on these meds and nothing’s helping me.
The biggest benefit I have gotten from anything has been breathwork and meditation. Slowing down and just focusing in on where the pain is, where the discomfort is, where the whatever is, and giving that space and processing through. There are old traumas, old wounds, and hurts. Our first child, I lost in delivery at 42 weeks and I almost didn’t survive myself. I have done a lot of processing in that loss with her, here in Wimberley in particular.
I have had a lot of great breakthroughs in that. Creekhaven has even been an important space allowing me to have those opportunities unfolding. I’m going to get all emotional here but I want so badly for others to feel that and experience that. I have had so many opportunities with the guests that I have experienced at the end where we are hugging each other and crying together because we have created that space for them. I am heartfelt because it’s happening like it’s really happening. They are heartfelt because a human being has expressed and shared human kindness and created real authentic space for that to happen and we need more of that.
Wimberley itself has such a beautiful healing energy and spirit and the members of the community here do. Your space is right in the center of it on the creek, there’s an energy there that I agree is meant to foster renewal.
Renewal, reinvigoration, and rediscovery. I was sharing with you that we came up with this re-campaign, What’s Your Reason? There are many words that are so relevant and they might hit home differently with a different person. Maybe there’s meant to reconnect with their spouse or themselves, a sibling, a mom, and you name it. There’s so much of that. A rediscovery and recommitment are relaxing. We don’t stop and relax and give ourselves space to be anymore.We don't stop and relax and give ourselves space to just be anymore. Click To Tweet
Isn’t it wild like my first introduction to meditation or anything in that realm was realizing how much I needed to take a deep breath before a big call or meeting? I was like, “That completely changed my physiology and the success of the meeting.” What would a 5 or 10-minute meditation do? Much less a whole 2 or 3-day getaway.
Taking a couple of days out of the year for you. It’s interesting because no matter what you believe in, there is provable data and facts out there to support the benefits of meditation, the benefits of slowing down and stopping.
The benefits of being in nature. You don’t even have to get out in it. In hospitals, the reason why almost all hospital rooms have windows now or have an indoor garden is because of the healing power of even seeing nature. In hospitals, if they don’t have access to outdoor windows like it’s an older building. They have replaced all the old cityscape photos with images of nature because even an image of nature is going to have more healing power than any other image.
If you are a stats-driven person, you can find it. If you are a feely metaphysical person, you can find that. There’s so much to support it. One of the new things that I have been able to do in Wimberley is I’m a contributing author to the Wimberley Living Magazine in the wellness category. That’s been a different, fun, and interesting thing for me to get to explore. I have enjoyed the relationship and the feedback that I have with the editor, Ashley Brown.
She will give me direct feedback on, “I would go a different direction with this or whatever.” That’s been part of the healing journey too. Being able to share on a different platform and so writing about forest bathing, sound immersion, different elements of integrative nutrition, coaching principles, and various things along those lines has been a fun experience for me here.
You had mentioned talking about the incorporation into the community. I’m a firm believer in giving back and being a part of the community. It’s not enough to have a business and pay taxes. My kids go to school here. We are members of the Wimberly Youth Sports Association for soccer. My daughter’s about to start gymnastics here with a local business owner, which is a woman-owned business too. I’m now on the Chamber board, the Merchants Association the City of Wimberley, the Occupancy Tax Advisory Council or Committee, and the Economic Development Committee. I believe that’s a lot and it is. They are all connected.
There’s a bridge to bring different initiatives together. Everyone that I meet is a wonderful initiative and intention and everyone wants to do good things for this community but some folks are doing the same thing in different ways and there are opportunities to bring people together. Either make the effort by a way of many hands make less work, make light work and the rising tides rise all ships. Those concepts I believe in completely and I do believe that I’m meant to be a part of supporting the positive next chapter for the community and how we grow and navigate that.
You are Creekhaven Inn and Spa. Is that how people can find you on Facebook and Instagram? Is there a particular handle or is that pretty much it?
That’s pretty much it. It’s all in the name and our website is CreekhavenInn.com, where we are also continually updating our activities page to book yoga, spa, etc. Instagram and Facebook are live updates as it were.
One thing that you alluded to is we talked about having our own workshops and retreats for people, but Creekhaven is also a great place for businesses and small groups to have their corporate offsites, especially on those early weekdays.
We love the opportunity to support anyone’s vision or mission for their own retreat. We have got a lot of infrastructure to support that great food and wonderful space for small groups.
Support such creative thinking. The last question, what advice would you have for anyone out there questioning whether or not they should take the big leap to follow their dreams or do something they are passionate about?
I would say that you got to try. It never hurts to try. You have always got to ask the questions and begin the leap, do the research whatever’s in your respective area. Take an educated leap and there are lots of resources out there to help navigate an educated leap. I personally love having conversations with people in a consultative way if they are looking at things. I have consulted people as well on business acquisitions and transactions. It’s not for everybody but if you fill a very strong pull, that usually is coming from somewhere and it’s worth exploring. Give it some space and time to see how it comes up for you and start, getting curious about it, and open that exploration up.It never hurts to try. Ask questions and begin the leap. Click To Tweet
Thank you so much for talking with us and talking through your journey.
Thank you. I know it was long-winded. Hopefully, it was helpful.
It was good. No, it was great. I loved it. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you for having me.
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