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More With Marti Dunne

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: June 27, 2008, from the July 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 2 of 4

Following these sucesses for all concerned, sadness, trauma and loss came into my life. My gorgeous soulmate mother died a terrible death to ovarian cancer. I retired from Hyatt Regency Tahoe quietly after 25 years of award-winning dedication. My precious marriage of 19 years was ending, Pristine North Lake Tahoe was becoming another Aspen for the wealthy and loosing its pioneer, rustic flavor. The long cold winters had given me chronic lung disease. With Sept 11th, my 30 years at lovely Lake Tahoe were over. I tried Reno for a year, and worked for a world-renowned naturopath doing microdermabrasion, and assisting him in facial laser surgery. At that time, there was still a chasm between the spa spirits and the medical field. Communication was difficult and frustrating on both sides. A starkl, cold winter brought illness which overtook me. Laying on old matress on the floor of an unfurnished, freezing mobile home, I was in terrible emotional and physical pain. I realized someone up there loved me and was trying to get a message across! Helllooo! A week later, I abandoned my vast belongings and jumped on plane to Maui, Hawaii. I kicked the surfer out of my small beachside apartment and moved into the mess. The following year was spent mourning, reclaiming my health and going back to school to get all my certificates. I began my own business called Kahana Rose Skin Care. I decide to get my CNA (certified nursing aid)license to be more savvy in the world of Western medicine. Blessed again, while attending all these schools, I fell into calling I never imagined. I had become a hospice volunteer in Tahoe. I was now a CNA, still repeating my massage and esthetician education. A dear massage therapist friend here, Candy, hooked me up doing elder care. The first odd Irishman was a pain in many ways; I spent most of my time taking away his cigarettes and hiding his booze. But the money was OK and the oceanfront room I slept in had its perks. Eventually, I connected back with my fondness of elderly women. My grandmother had been a boundary-breaking, assertive, elegant, aristocrat whom I deeply loved and was loved by. So began my career in elder care for ladies. I would not only provide for them in every way, I would give them facials, apply attractive makeup, fix their hair in flattering, elaborate styles. Rummaging through the mothballs, I would find pretty dresses and slinky lounging outfits. Ear lobes would be repierced and thier fine costume jewelry adorned. When I showed them to the mirror, there would be shrieks of happiness and tears of disbelief. We went on outings, recreated formal dining scenarios and their self-esteem and happiness was reinstated, if even for a short time. I was always in beautiful homes on tropical beaches enjoying the best of everything, but paramount was the sweet recreation of something that once had meant so much to them. Most of them transitioned into lovely women once more. Also through my Kahana Rose elder care, I began to help out at the senior citizens centers and developed a skin care lecture series. This was more well attended than I had ever thought it would be. It gave me a reason to brush up on my past public speaking skills and get these mature women excited about recieving facials and using anti-aging professional products. I could also do some pro bono work for women who had limited funds and keep the facial price very low to help them get started and realize the rejuvinating results are real.

Soon, I was able to qualify for working in the exotic, expensive state of Hawaii. I worked at a Major Hotel again and did facials and massage at a cute, happening day spa that was sort of impersonal and mostly about the numbers. There was no senority, motivation or positive reinforcement. There was much about it I did appreciate as I met many wonderful Maui healing practioners there. My soul was starving and my hands ached to reach in and help hurting people on a much deeper level. Somewere lost inside me, I knew God had given me a gift to do much more.

Taking my evening walk along the beach last October, I noticed an old pioneer building being remodeled, and a sign outside advertising for massage therapists. I did not really want to give up my facial work, but knew I needed a change of attitude/venue. I obtained an interview with two very likable women, total opposites. Courtney Johnson is a slim, grounded, attractive, athletic, direct-speaking woman and a doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncturist and massage therapist.Laura Markison is beautiful, bubbly, warm and empathetic with a masters degree in psychology and is a former health food store owner. I identified with all that they had to say and envision. They called me back a week later for another interview, and let me know I had a position when they opened. Another week later, they met with me and said the had never dreamed of offering facials, but after perusing my resume, they said they were impressed with my education and experience, and asked if I would be willing to head up some kind of skin care program. And of course I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. I was at that time asked to be the principal (head) esthetician and massage therapist.

Five months later now, I remember how my grandmother taught me to mentally visualize to manifest what is good for me and all those concerned. The Wellness center has been that and more. Laura and Courtney carefully interviewed each employee. We are treated like we are each very special and inimitable in our own way. We have, besides Laura and Courtney's myriad skills, on staff two rolfers, a douala, a zenshiatsuist, other acupuncturists, nutritional specialists, Lomi Lomi therapist and soon will have a gifted, spiritual-based chiropractor. I do many modalities. There are not many souls in need that come in the door that I do not manage to find a bond with. I work a lot with intuition. It sounds sort of New Agey, but when I lay my hands on a body or a face, I feel as though, if I listen with my heart, it speaks to me of its wounds and needs. I rely on this connection very much in my work. Rather than pamper, I nurture. I know life, even in Maui or tourists can be tough. If I can earn their trust, let them go limp while my hands grow strong and my breath meets theirs, they can go where they need to be to heal. What I tell myself at the end of a tiring, physical day is that if I have helped change, inspired or even brought just one hour of comfort and bliss into this person's lif,e I have done a good thing. When my clients compliment me, I am quick to mention that I believe there are three essential elements causing a healing: Spirit (God, Universe, nature), the client and me. I am a conduit from a great source to facilitate peace and progress in this body I am honored to work with.

The wellness center treats us with appreciation, accommodation and respect as individuals "artists" and not as timed, expendible, money-making machines, which sounds harsh, but that mentality exists in many spas today.