At the end of a grueling day during a business trip, Mary Blackmon ducked into a spa for the massage that would change her life. It was the late 1990s, the Internet was in full bubble and Mary was riding the wave as an online advertising executive. The pace was taking its toll. She was sleeping too little, eating too much and exercising not at all. The massage would be a much-needed break.
"I couldn't afford to go to spas often," she says, "but every time was transformative." That particular visit was not only the end of her clandestine smoking habit, but the beginning of a new career for the Louisiana native. The power of something seemingly so trivial as an hour of pampering convinced Mary to help others tap into it. So, in mid-2002, she launched Spa-Addicts.com, a website offering discounts to spas nationwide.
The irony? By last year, she'd poured so much of herself into creating the business she realized she was once again subsumed by her work. The lesson, she says, is that "balance isn't an object that can be "found"—"it's more fluid.¨ And while some may think a spa diva should have a life of total bliss, Mary prefers living in the real world. "I know how hard it is to take time for yourself. But we have to keep reminding ourselves that we're worth it—and then act on that.¨