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!