Bill & Tedd’s Excellent Adventure: A story about turtles & growth

Bill & Tedd

Bill & Tedd are two red-eared slider turtles housed at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health, the Laguna Hills campus.  Today they turned 5 years old! 

The growth of Bill & Tedd is directly tied to my growth into the Director of Laguna Hills.  Here is our story:

My name is Harmony Curtiss, I am the daughter the founding owners of Healing Hands School of Holistic Health, Paula and Neha Curtiss.  In some ways I have  worked for Healing Hands as long as I can remember – digging through boxes of registrations, carrying books, ect.  It was a running joke in our family that we couldn’t possibly drive into town without stopping by the school.

In 2012 I moved to Orange County to establish a full-time office presence to support our students.  I had to be self-motivated in order to fill the time with projects that would enable the school to grow.  And I am happy to say that not only did I accept the job, but I accepted the challenge that it came with.  I overcame so many struggles that first year: communication, massage clinic growth, ect.  But the hardest thing, was being alone 40 hours a week.

About 7 months into working all alone, I was out on the town with some friends in LA, when Jilly Bee, a leader in the Flow Arts Community, bought a pair of turtles as a surprise gift for a friend.  At the time I knew my roommate had a small fish tank he didn’t need – and I figured – ‘Hey, these guys could fit in my office! Without taking up to much space!’ And so I bought a pair of turtles for myself to keep me company.  They were about the size of a half dollar when I bought them.

At first the turtles names were Lomi Lomi and Mertle the Turtle.  Lomi was the bigger, lazier one that would punk on Mertle.  Lomi loved to bask on the rocks while Mertle loved to swim.  Constantly. But my parents insisted they be named Bill & Tedd.  Over the years, after much laughter from prospective students and current students alike – I embraced the names Bills & Tedd.  And as they have grown – so have I.

They started in a small 5 gallon tank.  And I hired my first part-time employee – Andrea Pinsonneault.  Andrea helped teach me

Bill & Tedd’s 50 Gallon Tank

 professionalism.  From dress, to marketing, and sales.  But eventually the turtles outgrew the 5 gallon tank and we upgraded to a 50 gallon tank.  About this time, Andrea moved on to be our Marketing Coordinator and I hired Haley Simon as a full-time employee and co-worker.  I moved the turtles into their new home, and proudly showed them off to visitors.  

From that moment on, I too had a partner in the office.  Hayley and I struggled to bring Healing Hands into the digital world.  Getting student files to be digital, digitizing handouts so they could be emailed, creating systems to track all these files and forms.  And as we grew into a powerful team, we outgrew our office.  In 2014 we moved into the Suite the Laguna Hills office is in today, and of course the turtles came with us.

Bill and Tedd had always been the center of the office, people sit by them, feed them, play with them through the glass.  And Bill & Tedd respond.  Don’t believe me? Just go give them a look in the tank, they will jump off and splash around – hoping you’ll feed them some shrimp. 

Bill & Tedd’s 150 gallon home

In 2015 I acquired a 150 gallon tank for Bill and Tedd.  With the help of about 20 friends, we got the 150 gallon tank up the stairs and into the small room in the back where I could refurbish the tank.  I repainted and re-glazed it so it could be professional enough for an office.  By the time I had the tank installed, Hayley was moving on to go to Acupuncture school, and I hired 2 people to replace her. 

These two people, Jennifer Acuna and Adam Bovenkamp, dealt with one of the hardest years I have had at Healing Hands School.  The laws and regulations surrounding a massage school became tighter on a national, state, and local level. 

During the height of our stress, Bill became sick!  Bill was swimming lopsided, not quite able to swim right.  So off to the vet we went!

After having to give poor Bill anti-biotic shots for pneumonia every day for 2 weeks, I got him back swimming and gave the tank a new make-over.  Increasing the plants and items in the tank, giving them both their own platforms and lights to bask on.  My turtles had become teenagers, and they needed separate areas. 

At the beginning of 2016 there was roughly 300 massage school approved by the California Massage Therapy Council.  By the beginning of 2017 there was 100.  Bill got better, and the paperwork surrounding the school stabilized.  Jenn moved on to pursue a career in counseling, and Adam moved into a partnership with a clothing company, so I hired 2 new people. 

Loving those hide-away places!

One year later my newest employees, Vanessa Leal and Trey Powell, have become Healing Hands School advocates of their

own.  Feeding the turtles every morning, turning on their lights, and turning them off every night.  They enjoy taking care of Bill and Tedd, our 2 mascots, on a daily basis.  And as my daily work load has changed to working on the future of Healing Hands – I still clean the tank.  In the end, I am still responsible for the well-being and health of Bill & Tedd just as I am responsible for the well-being and health of the Laguna Hills Campus.   And I hope we are able to grow together for many more years.

So, without further ado – HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILL & TEDD!!!!!! You are some of the luckiest turtles in the world, just like the students who find Healing Hands School, may your Adventures Be Excellent!



Healing Hands Expands to San Diego!

Healing Hands Expands to San Diego!

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health brings Massage Therapy and HHP programs to IPSB location and students!

Come meet us at IPSB Sunday, Jan 8 at 7 pm!

We accept FAFSA. Begun in 1992, we provide heart centered holistic health education.

Check out: and come and see us this Sunday!

9025 Balboa #130, San Diego, CA 92123

¡Conviértete en un terapeuta masajista bilingüe!

Clase empieza el 03 de enero de 2017 en Laguna Hills.

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health sanación da la bienvenida a Mariano Reyes. Mariano ha completado su programa de terapia de masaje y ayudando e interpretar en la clase de masaje circulatorio. ¡Tomar el advatage de esta oportunidad para comenzar su nueva carrera como terapista de masaje bilingüe! 

Regístrate ahora o llámenos para obtener más información.
(949) 305-2722

Holistic Massage School Asks: Want a New Career in the New Year?

If pursuing a new career is one of your new year’s resolutions for 2017, Paula Curtiss, Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health wants you to know your timing couldn’t be better!

“In 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics announced its projection that employment growth for Massage Therapist will continue to grow at a rate of 22 percent (vs the average 7%) between 2014 and 2024, adding 36,500 more professionals to this field” said Paula. “The astounding number of job opportunities received by HH’s Job Placement Department in 2016 is evidence of this growing demand. With the assurance of job security for years to come and a starting salary of between $25 to $45 an hour, becoming a Professional Massage Therapist is more rewarding now than ever” she added.

Massage Therapists employ their knowledge of Anatomy/Physiology plus a variety of hands-on strokes and manipulations to relieve pain, reduce stress, relax tight muscles and positively affect every system in their client’s body! With dozens of modalities to choose from, today’s Massage Therapists have a variety of ways to facilitate health and well-being for their clients. Some Massage Therapists may choose to specialize in relaxation, employing modalities such as Circulatory (Swedish) or Lomi-Lomi (Hawaiian Massage), Pregnancy and Geriatric (Elderly) massage. Those more oriented toward rehabilitation, may choose to specialize in Sports Massage, Deep-tissue Manipulations, Myo-facial or Trigger Point therapies.  Most often, however, Massage Therapists become adept in several modalities, each of which require specific skills, strokes and techniques.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for Massage Therapists was $37,180 in 2014. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made more than $71,950, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $18,460. According to an articles published in US News, Massage Therapists rank #50 in The 100 Best Jobs and, ranked #8 in Best Health Care Support Jobs based on the following 6 component measurements:

  • Median Salary
  • Employment Rate
  • 10-Year Growth Volume
  • 10-Year Growth Percentage
  • Job Prospects
  • Stress Level
  • Work-Life Balance

What’s even more inviting, Massage Therapists now work for employers in a variety of private and public environments.  These include the traditional Spas, Massage Clinics, and Chiropractic offices plus the not so traditional jobs now being offered on Cruise ships, in Casinos, in Shopping Malls, at Gyms, and in Corporate board rooms to name a few. Regardless of their working environment, Massage Therapists still enjoy the satisfaction of providing instant relief and facilitating long-term health and healing for the clients they serve; what can be better than that!

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health has been serving residents through two regional campuses located in Escondido and Laguna Hills for over 24 years.  Considered a trail-blazer for Holistic Health Education in Southern California, HH has prepared more than 6,700 students for successful and rewarding careers in Massage Therapy and Holistic Health and can do the same for you! To learn more about HH, or to explore if a career in massage therapy may be right for you, please visit us online at  or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido. 

Holistic Massage School: Holiday Gift Ideas for Health Advocates


Santa Says…..
Stop by Healing Hands School for the
 Perfect Gift this Holiday Season!



You don’t have to be a Professional Massage Therapist to enjoy giving and receiving a therapeutic massage.  At Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (HH), you can learn how to give your friends and loved ones a therapeutic Circulatory Massage in as little as 1 month!  Imagine, you can start a class in January, and by February have the knowledge and skills to relieve pain, reduce stress, relax over-worked muscles and positively impact the lives of those closest to you. HH’s Circulatory Massage class can be a unique and valuable experience for yourself, a friend or a loved one. 

If a massage class didn’t make it on to your holiday shopping list this year, then consider one of HH’s holistic health classes.  With more than 80 courses to choose from, there is something of interest for everyone at HH.  In addition to dozens of massage modalities, HH offers classes in Aromatherapy, Health & Dietary Practices, Homeopathic 1st Aid, Herbal Studies and Applications, Nutritional Superfoods, Advanced Herbal Preparations plus a variety of Energy-work classes.  Our on-site bookstore also offers a variety of unique books, study-guides, and self-care products, a collection you won’t find anywhere else this holiday season.

Note: Bookstore hours are: 9am to 5:30pm Mondays through Fridays at
 125 W. Mission Avenue in Escondido or 23022 La Cadena in Laguna Hills
Visa and Discovery Cards accepted



Price Range

Instructors, Denise Fultz and Raina Colvin’s




Instructor, Shana Lipner’s Sage Country Herbs Products


Deluxe Massage Oil

Therapeutic Pain Solution (small/large)

Sore Muscle Salve

Lip Balm









Massage Tables

$290.52 Standard Plus Pkg.

$430.92 Classic Deluxe Pkg.

$430.92 Versalite Pro Pkg.

$484.92 Prima Table Pkg.

Massage Chair Package


Massage Oils, Lotions, Creams & Gels



$6.47 –  $22.73 (8 oz)

$45.95 (1/2 Gallon)

$71.95 (1 Gallon)

La Crosse Balls (for Deep Tissue and



Knobble (for Self-Acupressure)




Anatomy Study Guides 


Anatomy Flash Cards


Advanced Circulatory & Sports Massage Study guide/folder


Advanced Circulatory & Sports Massage Study Flash Cards



NOTE:  The above is a partial list of items available, please visit HH book-store to view them all.

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health has been serving residents through two regional campuses located in Escondido and Laguna Hills for over 24 years.  Considered a trail-blazer for Holistic Health Education in Southern California, HH has prepared more than 6,700 students for successful and rewarding careers in Massage Therapy and Holistic Health. To learn more about HH, or to explore if a career in massage therapy may be right for you, please visit us online at  or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido. 


Holistic School: Circulatory Massage for Hospice Patients

“Circulatory Massage is an excellent integrative therapy that can be used to enhance the quality of life for Hospice patients”, said Paula Curtiss, Founding Director at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health, (HH). “Massage Therapists who work with Hospice patients provide a very nurturing experience that helps reduce pain and discomfort while restoring feelings of self-esteem and self-acceptance”, she continued. 

Paula is a Certified Massage Therapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and the Founding Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (HHSHH).  Possessing over 25 years of experience as a multi-modality Massage Therapist and Instructor, Paula understands first-hand how providing a gentle, therapeutic touch delivered with focused attention can diminish the feelings of isolation and loneliness many terminal patients experience. Proven to be useful as a primary or integrative therapy for any condition with a stress component, Circulatory Massage can provide substantial relief to patients diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, one of the most stress-full events one can experience.

In HH’s Circulatory Massage class students are educated about age-related changes and their impact on the Hospice patient. These include, thin, fragile skin, bones, joints as well as common clinical conditions. Students examine the causes and contraindications associated with chronic and terminal illnesses. Through lecture, demonstration, and hands-on practice, students learn a variety of bodywork styles and techniques to address aging concerns while also promoting relaxation.

Circulatory Massage facilitates the release of neuro-chemicals that reduce stress and alleviate pain.  With regular Circulatory Massage, many Hospice patients enjoy a reduction in the need for narcotic and psychotropic medications which often come with their own negative side-effects.  In addition to physical benefits, Circulatory Massage delivers many significant and immediate psychosocial benefits for terminally ill patients.  Once diagnosed, many experience a roller-coaster of strong feelings, emotions, thoughts and fears.  These may include but are not limited to:

  • Denial about their diagnosis
  • Anger about the negative mental and physical effects of their disease or treatment
  • Frustration about the limitations imposed by the disease
  • A sense of being powerless and vulnerable
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Guilt about how their illness and dying will affect loved ones
  • Mood swings caused by drugs, dementia, or simply the situation itself
  • Fear of death – the unknown, and/or the progression of the disease


Paula shares the reality of this work with students, explaining how working with the dying isn’t easy and often presents uncomfortable, even confrontational challenges.  It requires a willingness to face our own limitations and emotional vulnerabilities and to stay present and engaged despite of our fears.  She also shares how Circulatory Massage given to the terminally ill allowed her to share many enriching and fulfilling moments with patients she might otherwise have missed. Paula believes that providing Circulatory massage for Hospice patients can facilitate profound growth, both personally and professionally for the Massage Therapist and encourages all students to explore this soul-enriching massage specialty.

Considered a trail-blazer for Holistic Health Education in Southern California, HH has been serving residents from campuses in Escondido and Laguna Hills for over 24 years.  To date, HH has prepared more than 6,700 students for successful careers in Therapeutic Massage and can do the same for you! To learn more about HH, their Circulatory Massage class or any of the other 80+ classes offered, visit us online at  or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido.


Holistic Massage School – Sponsers

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health Acknowledges the following Generous Sponsors – for our Holistic Networking Potluck – Nov. 13, 2016


Stronglite has been providing massage equipment to the bodywork community. Over those years massage has become increasingly more mainstream, expanding its roots into the medical, sports, health, and beauty industries. With this growth, massage continues to prove its validity and massage therapists show how they are making a difference. Our goal is to continue to supply innovative massage tables, massage chairs and massage accessories at competitive prices, so that massage therapists can continue to make an impact on the people, companies, and communities around them.


SacredEarth Botanicals’® mission is to promote a line of professional massage therapy products with a focus on certified organic ingredients, environmentally friendly packaging, and sustainable business practices. We offer our customers peace of mind knowing their massage products have been thoughtfully developed with the health of the therapist, client, and the environment in mind. Our facility is certified organic by the Oregon Tilth and the USDA.


Massage Envy Spas of Orange County – Whatever life throws at you, it’s the daily wear and tear that takes its toll on your body. Massage does more than just relax the body and calm the mind. Regular treatments give you the time to check in and tune up to help you be ready for more of this wonderful thing we call living.


Burke Williams Beyond the Spa – Burke Williams created the original urban day spa in 1984, elevating the spa experience to a new art form. Drawing inspiration from world-class European day spas, we combine the finest traditions with nourishing innovations to transport you from the stress of everyday life. Our dedicated, professional therapists will treat you to the ultimate in relaxation and renewal. We are a sanctuary, a place of wellness and beauty, inspiration and optimism.

Holistic Massage School: Benefits of Meditation

The Benefits of Meditation

“Today’s Scientists are discovering a wide range of immediate and long-term benefits that can be derived from regular meditation practice”, said Paula Curtiss, Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (HHSHH).  “Recent studies have shown that meditating for just 20 minutes a day for even a few weeks is enough for subjects to begin experiencing the many benefits meditation provides. That’s why the faculty at HHSHH encourages students to include the practice of meditation as an essential part of their holistic self-care program,” she added.

No one knows the exact date of meditation’s origin, however, Archaeologists and Scholars agree that it dates back about 5,000 years.  Since the 1950s there have been hundreds of studies on the effects of meditation, which has become a growing subfield of neurological research.  Technologies such as MRIs and EEGs are used to discern what happens in the body when one meditates, and how their bodies and brains change after meditating on a regular basis. 

Body AwarenessAlthough there are hundreds of types of meditation, most fall into one of two categories.  The first, Focused Attention Meditation, is when an individual focuses his/her attention on something specific for the duration of the meditation session.  This ‘something’ may be their breath, a mantra, visualization, part of the body or object such as a crystal or flower.  Examples are: Buddhist Meditation, Chakra Meditation and Sound Meditation.

The second category, Open Monitoring Meditation, is a process of non-reactive observation of one’s moment to moment experience of their thoughts, feelings, memories, sounds, smells, surroundings, etc.  Examples of Open Monitoring Meditation include Mindfulness Meditation, Vipassana, as well as some Taoist Meditations.

Regardless of the style, meditation provides numerous benefits to one’s Mind, Body and Emotional Wellbeing.  As you’ll see from the lists below, just 20 minutes of meditation a day can make substantial changes that can dramatically improve your quality of life.  (Note: These lists represent some but not all of the benefits with sources provided at the end of this post.)

Benefits to your Mind:

  • Enhances cognitive skills
  • Positively impacts creative thinking
  • Better decision making and problem solving skills
  • Increases memory retention and recall
  • Improves mental focus
  • Quicker information processing
  • Diminishes effects of ADHD
  • Helps you ignore distractions
    Hayley Simon, a student practicing in the park

    Hayley Simon, a student practicing in the park

Benefits to your Body:

  • Improves immune system function
  • Helps prevent Arthritis, Fibromyalgia & HIV
  • Lessens inflammatory disorders
  • Reduces premenstrual and menopausal syndromes
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves breathing and heart rates
  • Reduces recurrence of Asthma
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Improves longevity
  • Increases relaxation

Benefits to Emotional Well-being:

  • Enhances one’s self-esteem and self-acceptance
  • Increases optimism and awareness
  • Improves your mood
  • Enhances emotional intelligence
  • Helps develop positive social connections
  • Reduces feelings of depression and loneliness
  • Lessens feelings of anxiety & impulsivity
  • Reduces fear and worry
  • Helps prevent emotional over-eating or smoking

Up-coming Meditation Classes:

  • Spiritual Healing with Faun Parliman
  • Chakra Balancing with Perla Pintado
  • Healing through Kundalini Yoga with Alex Young
  • Holistic Living Retreat with Paula & Neha Curtiss

This classes can be found on our schedule located here:

Healing Hands School of Holistic Health has been serving residents in Escondido and Laguna Hills for over 23 years.  Offering day, evening and weekend classes, HHSHH’s staff of highly qualified Instructors have prepared more than 6,000 students for successful and rewarding careers as Massage Therapists and Holistic Health Practitioners.  To learn more about HHSHH or the 80 + classes offered, please visit us online at or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido.



Time Magazine, American Heart Association, HealthCentral, Bloomberg, NCBI, American Psychosomatic Medicine Journal, Journal of International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology, The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, NPR News, ScienceDirect (1), ScienceDirect (2), ScienceDirect (3), Medical News Today, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, HealthCentral, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal., ScienceDaily, NCBI, PLOS One, Stanford School of Medicine, Sage Journals.

Holistic Massage School Discusses Benefits of Yoga

Have you ever watched a dog as it wakes from a nap?  They usually will yawn, then stretch their front paws out in front of them and move their upper body to the floor stretching into an upside down “V”.  Once they have stretched to their limit, they release the stretch then end it with a full body shake, before happily trotting off on their way.  It’s as if dogs instinctively know the benefits of stretching to relieve accumulated tension, align their spine and energize their bodies. HealingHands-LagunaNiguel_048

“A well-rounded, daily practice of Yoga, can go a long way to relieve muscle and joint pain and stiffness caused by excess tension held in the body”, says Paula Curtiss, Founding Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (HHSHH).  “In addition to improving circulation to the muscles; regular Yoga exercise helps you become stronger, more flexible and can enhance your over-all posture, ease of movement and mental clarity.  Because Yoga is such an important and effective self-care tool, we encourage all students to practice it regularly.  In fact, we include Yoga stretches as part of the warm-up exercises for many of our massage classes”, she added.

The word “yoga” comes from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language and is considered an ancient Hindu spiritual discipline.  This spiritual science offers a direct means of stilling the natural turbulence of thoughts.  Yoga’s purpose is said to be “the uniting of the mind, body and spirit.

While there are many different versions of Yoga practiced today, most session will include breath control, simple meditation, and the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits.  Practiced regularly, Yoga’s been proven to enhance overall health by creating balance in the body and by inducing both physical and emotional relaxation.  Depending on the yoga tradition, the poses may be done in quick succession, creating heat in the body through movement; or, when done slowly they can increase strength, stamina and help to align the spine.

To find out more about Holistic Health or the 80+ Massage and Holistic Health classes offered at HHSHH, please visit us online at  or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido.