I found an old can of paint in the basement of our house leftover from the previous owners. The Alger Heights hardware store tinted the paint key lime pie green for $3. With two gallons of paint and a six-pack of beer, my friend Chad and I tackled the white office walls.
The whole suite resembled an abandoned 1970s dentist office. It was what I could afford, close to my house, and I negotiated for a gentle and gradual increase in rent for the first six months. I decorated almost the entire office with furniture from Goodwill and a desk found at a garage sale for $25. It wasn’t much, but it was my not much.
While school had prepared me to sit with clients and offer nutritional, herbal and lifestyle suggestions, we never got a course on running a business, LLCs or trying to decorate a suite in desperate need of updating. My wife and I were about to have our second child, and no time really seemed right to get this business started. I was gambling. I was betting on me.
The moment I was introduced to naturopathic medicine, I fell in love with it. From herbs to gardening, I consumed everything I could get my hands on. Before I started my naturopathic program, I would spend hours at Harvest Health’s tea room and pour over natural health books. I had never been one for deep study, but this stuff fascinated me. I would harass anybody who new anything about “alternative health” with question after question consuming every drop I could squeeze out of them.
When I started school to become a naturopath, I received a bag of first-year books, and I was excited. Really excited. An entire library that I could read and re-read anytime I wanted. I could study for hours and completely lose track of time. I had found something that spoke to me deeply, and I sensed it would change my life forever. Even after four years of school, seven years of practicing, and thousands of clients later, I am still just as deeply passionate about healing, probably more.
It was a good gamble. It worked. Slowly, but surely, people showed up. Some wanted to find a different way to eat, others wanted to find better options than drugs or surgery. All of them had a story to tell. Many of them were frustrated with their doctors, a lot of them were frustrated with themselves. There is power in telling our stories. There is power in learning that we as humans are responsible for our own lives. From the beginning, I felt a deep sense that this is the work I am meant to be doing.
Seven years later, Continuum Healing has moved, the Remedy Room opened, and there are six other practitioners on staff. A number of classes and events continue to bring education to West Michigan. In 2015, I co-founded the Wellness Collective which is a community of 18 holistic practitioners committed to cultivating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The “I” has become “we,” and we at Continuum Healing and The Wellness Collective have grown in size and number while maintaining the same commitment to seeing people as whole human beings, working not just on the physical level, but the emotional, mental and spiritual level, as well.
Sometimes I walk in our collective space on the weekend when everything is quiet and nobody is around and I think “we did it.” Sometimes I want to laugh, and sometimes I cry.
I think about that old office that started it all, and the way friends and family stepped in to help. I think about those first few appointments and how nervous I was. I think about my wife who kept things running, while I was scraping by with evening appointments and learning how to run a business. I think about the incredible clients I have worked with over the years and their commitment to their own growth and change.
This is what I dreamed up, this is what I always wanted.
This blog post is nothing more than a slow down, take note and celebrate, to tell my story and to tell our story. Before the next chapter it is best to let out a big YAHOOO followed by a YIPPEEEE. Thanks for the ways that you have been a part of my dream and have supported us in big ways and small.
A special thanks to:
My wife and kids for all the pieces they have picked up on this bumpy ride and the ways they have loved and supported me and my dreams.
My teachers, Bessheen Baker, Delores Spence, Moshe Daniel Block and Mike Cohen who have all passed on knowledge and deep wisdom.
Heather Colletto, Naomi Sorrel, Andrea Marz and Shelbe Ogburn for all their help in organizing me and my messes over the years.
Our entire Continuum Healing staff that feels more like a community and family than co-workers.
Chad Morton, for all of his help, from painting to consulting, and mostly for believing in me.
Leah Grace, my business partner, I am very grateful to be on this journey as a team.