Kelly Spencer is a Certified Life Coach, yoga instructor, author, speaker, and the owner/operator of Indigo Lounge Wellness Centre in Tillsonburg, Ontario. Indigo Lounge offers wellness workshops, yoga classes, an organic café and eatery, naturopathic services, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, and massage, as well as fitness classes. Kelly's on-going practice, as well as her extensive past experience as a registered nurse, make her an amazing resource for those trying to find balance and optimization in their lives with everything around us moving faster and faster. I sat down with her to discuss her journey becoming self-employed, as well as what she has learned over the years that others can use to balance their personal life with their work life.
What did you do prior to being self-employed and how did you transition to where you are now?
I was a registered nurse working in all different types of nursing. My last decade of nursing was in Pediatrics. I worked at the Children’s Hospital of South Western Ontario in the ill-infant unit and I was just a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I loved it but I was often stressed and sick with various ailments. Then, when I had my own kids, I started dabbling into holistic healing and health. In my personal life, I realized that modern medicine wasn’t enough for me and I needed to take responsibility for my own health, and it seemed to work best through a holistic approach.
I loved nursing, but it just seemed to me that there were more options, opportunities, and methodologies to treat people than just modern medicine. So, rather than just treating the symptoms of cardiovascular issues, cancer, lung disease, mental health issues etc., I realized we could improve our life in a less invasive way with fewer drugs by finding ways to release stress, eat healthier, honor our body and our minds, and find healthier ways to live. Many holistic approaches have fewer side effects, surgeries, and drug treatments. I think in a lot of cases people are being over-prescribed. I’m in my early fifties and I was at the doctors recently, but prior to that it had been 14 years since going to a doctor. They asked for my list of medications and diseases/surgeries in the last 15 years and seemed to be surprised when I told them I don’t take any medication or have any acute or chronic diseases.
Modern or allopathic medicine is wonderful, exciting, and advanced. Allopathic medicine, or allopathy, refers to science-based modern medicine, such as the use of medications or surgery to treat or suppress symptoms, or the ill effects of disease. I prefer a naturopathic approach which can focus more on addressing the root cause of the issue and what you can change about your lifestyle and ways to prevent illness. Ultimately, treating us as a holistic being (body, mind and heart) with allopathic and naturopathic medicine, as well as approaches working together if needed, is the best approach in my opinion. The mind and body are in constant communication with each other, so a holistic approach is imperative.
What did you struggle with when you first started your business?
There was a component of trusting my intuition and initial inspiration. When you’re opening a business, you could be moving away from a good pay, a good pension, and steady work, to no guarantees and wondering if people are going to embrace your business. So, when I first opened, there was that initial component of fear being countered with courage to trust my feelings and step into it.
I am a Certified Life Coach, yoga teacher, writer, speaker, as well as a business owner. It was a challenge to learn to delegate and juggle the various roles I have. I do the administrative work and book-keeping, so there were moments where I would remember back to when I was going through school for nursing while also working at a grocery store when I was promoted to work in the office. I learned how to balance the books and work with the numbers of the business, so that became very helpful. Also, when I was in high school, I was in a situation where I had to take a grade 13 accounting course. I didn’t’ think I would ever use this information. I literally had a moment when I first opened my business where it all came together, and I realized I had all these tools to run my business.
What’s something you would’ve done differently looking back on when you first opened your business?
When I first opened, I was also working as a nurse at a high school just outside of town. I opened my business in the summer of 2011. My plan was, when school started back up in the fall, to go back to working 2-3 part-time shifts per week with the students, but when September rolled around, I realized that I wouldn’t have time for that big of a commitment on top of my business tasks.
At the end of the day, I don’t have any regrets with it. I think the only thing would be that, since I was more on the compassionate side when I started, I don’t think I had as strong or firm “boss” boundaries as I needed for hiring people and other business practices. I am still learning how to be a compassionate but strong leader.
What do you do outside of your work to stay balanced?
That’s a tough question for me because I have expanded the business so much since I started. At the beginning, I only had half the building and a few yoga and fitness classes, then in the second year I opened the other half of the building adding an organic restaurant, added more classes and holistic medicine practitioners, and now we do workshops, retreats, certifications, and it just keeps expanding. I also started doing a newsletter for my clients that expanded to a weekly wellness column for the Tillsonburg News, which I have been doing for about 5 years now. This transitioned me more into writing, so I have now published several articles for wellness magazines and five wellness books. I also do public speaking as a mindfulness and empowerment coach and speaker at businesses, organizations, and schools. So, balance isn’t really my strongest trait as one might look at the traditional sense of balance.
Fortunately, I function well when I am busy and my kids are in university, so I have a little bit more freedom to be busy. I have so many ideas for my future expansion, so I have had to schedule “balance” in my life. I don't need much for that to happen. Even a walk in the woods for an hour brings me back to alignment after a long week, so it works out well. I generally work six days a week, so one of the things I have done is the decision to work from home two days a week, so it is a little bit easier to do the correspondence and planning without distraction. I can focus and slow my pace a little bit more and it works well for me.
What is your opinion on continued education and personal development?
I’m a huge fan of ongoing development and believe if you’re not growing, you’re dying. It is part of my daily routine. I like to start my day with a coffee, meditation and watch or read something that helps me learn, grow, or expand. I honestly think that there is no finish line, there is no finding all the answers, and we can always learn a little bit more about ourselves.
My whole business is a holistic approach and that is because it speaks to me as a person beyond my business. My business is just an extension of how I think we should be living life, no matter what our job is. Each of us has all of these pieces that make us who we are, and there are all different areas like health, purpose, free time, family, friends, and occupation.
We must look at how big a part each of these pieces takes up in our lives and how satisfied we are in each. If you’re working at any job and loving it, then that is going to affect your life and happiness. You could even be doing a job that makes a huge positive impact on the world, but if you hate it, then it is going to show up in your health or other areas of your life somewhere. It’s making sure to do all that we can for our health and happiness, in all different aspects and areas of our lives.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Patrick MacDougall and I am a licensed REALTOR® based out of Tillsonburg, Ontario. I service the Oxford, Norfolk, and Elgin County areas and work everyday to bring as much value to others as I possibly can.