Stress, Don’t Just Talk About it…Do Something About It

People often ask me, “You have such a full schedule. How do you relieve the stress in your life?” My answer is simple. You must force yourself to build in a structured stress relieving activity within the week. It must be something you love doing. It doesn’t have to be a vacation in the sun…just plan a short mini-vacation daily or weekly.
People are dealing with multiple pressures in their lives. Many don’t even realize that they are under stress. I know. I was one of these people. Working to keep my Studio 904 salons going became my priority.  I felt like there was no time for me to do anything else other than work and taking care of my family.
I am sure many of you know what I am talking about. You might be feeling lost and depressed. The best advice I can give is to find a hobby you feel passionate about and force yourself to engage in it weekly or even daily.

Here’s a short story of how the sport of Agility relieved my stress.

The salon is buzzing. Customers filled every chair. The clock on the wall said it’s 2:45 PM. I started to get nervous… I’m scheduled to leave work at 3:00 in order to make it to the 4:30 Agility training class. I can’t leave…so many problems need my attention. I mumble to myself, why did I commit to doing this? I get my self under pressure to leave the salon every week to take my dog Max to his agility training.

I managed to run out of the salon at 3:05. I drove home to pick up my dog Max and his training treat. I hit the freeway going south. I should have known, the traffic was backed up and the cars were crawling to get passed the bottle neck to the Maple Valley Highway.


Whew… we arrive at the Maple Valley Agility Center at exactly 4:30. Max began to bark, sensing that it’s time to go in to exercise his skills in running, jumping and weaving through the trial equipment.

Max and I walked into the old wooden make-shift building with the saw dust floor. We quietly took our place and began watching Lucy, the Australian Border Collie. Lucy strutted to the start line, her piercing eyes focusing on the obstacles which lay in front. The minute her handler said go, Lucy was off like a bullett …. knocking down all the jump poles, leaving the place in shambles. We all laughed and clapped and told Lucy what a great player she is.

Max coming out of the tunnel
Max coming out of the tunnel

Next up was Ralph, the senior chocolate brown lab. Ralph was laid back . His owner constantly encouraged him by saying, “Good boy, come on Ralph”. All of us on the bench chimed in, “Come on Ralph, little faster!” Ralph performed everything in his own methodical way and finally got through the course. We all jumped up and clapped saying, “Good job Ralph!”.

Max came flying down from the A-Frame!
Max came flying down from the A-Frame!

Finally our turn. Max and I ran up to the start line. I whispered in his ear. ” Sit Max…wait…good boy.” I gave him a yummy piece of his favorite beef liver. He lapped it up and looked at me intently. “Ok, let’s go Max!” Living up to his Jack Russell, high energy mentality, he ran the course…stopping at nothing….

constantly looking for my ques directing him to the next obstacle. By the time we finished, we heard the whole class room clapping shouting, “Wow, Max what a run!”. Max sensed that he did good. I threw a double dose of beef levers on the ground to let him know I was pleased.

When class ended, my mind was crystal clear. I didn’t remember anything of the stress I was experiencing earlier in the day. I thought this is what it’s all about. Getting down with these smart fun-loving dogs and play like we did when we were kids!

The Power of Five Dollars


Recently, Shelley Rotando, CEO of Northwest Harvest came in to my salon, Studio 904 to get her hair colored and cut. I asked her how things at Northwest Harvest was going.

“Kay, summer is a tough time for us. Nearly half of Washington’s school-age children go hungry during the summer due to lack of school meal programs. This means one of every five children in our state go hungry,” She said.

I was surprised to hear such an alarming number.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone could be hungry. Most of us can go to our refrigerator or to a nearby restaurant and satisfy our growling stomachs at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t you agree?


As a small business owner with a vision to “improve lives of our citizens”, I felt compelled to share this information with our customers and ask for their help.  I wanted to involve our 800 clients who pass through our door in one given month to donate a small amount of money towards this cause. I’m a believer that a small amount of money collected from many people can raise a large sum of money. The best part of this giving philosophy is that it hurts no one. It truly creates a win-win for all involved.

Here is what Studio 904’s “Feed Our Kids” fundraising program asked our clients to do:

  1. Purchase a $5. Raffle ticket to enter drawing of baskets filled with products and $50. Gift cards from Studio 904.
  2. Attend a “Flower Power” class where I will teach how to make beautiful flowers, like the ones I made to decorate our salon. Suggested donation to attend is $30. (Why not use our talent to raise more money?)
  3. Simply write a check to NW Harvest for a tax deductible expense.

Our team and customers are supporting our fundraiser with enthusiasm. It brings me joy to watch all the happy faces as I watch our donation box grow with money to feed our children!
I’d love to hear what you’ve done to raise money for your favorite cause.


Entering 2014 with Renewed Energy!

Now that all the busy days of the holiday season are over, I’ve been thinking a lot about what will I learn and do this year.

Nelson Mandella said

One phrase keeps going through my mind: “If you do nothing new, you will get the same results. My goal this year is not to set lofty goals which I probably will not be able to accomplish, given my super busy schedule, but to set realistic goals for myself. I used the format from SMART Goals to get my mind thinking. I always find this process helpful to clarify my new year’s direction.You might want to do the same.


New Years by Karen Hopting Art


S-Your goal must be specific

M – Mesurable

A – Achievable

R – Reachable

T – Time based

I love this art by Karen Hoepting (the pup looks an awful lot like my Max), but does this seem achievable? Good luck setting your goals for 2014! We feel a lot better about ourselves even if we only aspire towards improving our lives a little bit.

A cute girl

One of my goals is to be more thoughtful. I’ve decided to send two hand-made cards per week to people who I think might need a little encouragement….to delight them and help create a “happy day.”

Take a look. This is a collage I created on a 3″x3″ mini-canvas. I took a photo of the canvas and created multiple images in Pages (Mac). I printed them and found

More cutie girls

that the colors were not as vivid as in the original art work. I touched up each of the images by outlining the shapes with my Micron pen and brightened up the colors using acrylic paint plus Copic markers. I love the end result. I already sent these lovely cuties to four deserving people in my life!

Doll in front of the clouds



This set of Cloud painting was given to me by a dear Artist friend, Linda Davidson. She surprised me on Christmas Day with this wonderful gift several years ago which I’ve been admiring since. It’s nice to be on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtful gesture. I photographed my favorite doll sitting in front of the clouds. I gaze at this cute little scene every day….really makes me happy!