There is a reason why Christina Bucci, owner of Indulge Spa on Hilton Head Island, likes to surround herself and her work environment with images of butterflies. Far from being just an aesthetic adornment, this beautiful insect has come to have deep personal meaning for her after an experience that occurred several years ago.
"Things weren't easy for me and I think I had hit rock bottom," said Christina. "I literally thought that maybe I wasn't supposed to live past my late 20s. Then one day I was sitting on the beach crying, when all of a sudden there were 20 to 50 butterflies swarming all around me in a pack, circling. And in that moment, I felt a surge of energy come through me, as if those butterflies had transformed my feelings. It was so powerful."
Not long after this experience, Christina changed the course of her life. She took a leave of absence from her job as a nail technician so she could take classes at massage school, and she even took the summer off to rediscover her love of singing and dancing. For years afterwards, Christina would be outside, maybe riding her bike somewhere, when a butterfly would light on her chest or arm, reminding her of her own power to transform her situation.
By 1997, she had become a licensed massage therapist and in '98, she started practicing out of her home, serving a handful of clients, many of whom continue to come to her. Four years ago, she opened Indulge Spa in South Island Square, where she specializes in massage, facials and eyelash extensions. But it's obvious that massage is her passion.
"It used to be that massage was a luxury," said Christina. "Now it's a way of life. Bob Hope used to get one every day and he lived to be 100 years old; people swear it's because of massage."
She explains that the health benefits of massage go beyond just relaxing you and relieving stress. This therapeutic touch can actually help rid the body of toxins. In terms of beauty, the increased circulation brought about by a massage serves to make the skin supple and give it that healthy, rosy glow.
"Think about never being touched by anyone for a month," said Christina, emphasizing humans' need to feel external stimulation. "Anything you do to make yourself feel better on the inside is going to make you look better on the outside."
Just like those butterflies who gave Christina the wake-up call on the beach, massage can be transcendental, a vehicle for transformation.
"You come in here with a problem," she said, "and you may just leave feeling like a blossomed butterfly."
Hometown: Massillon, OH First came to HHI: on vacation in 1978; made the permanent move in 1994
Why she loves it here: the open energy of an island without tall buildings that act as barriers
Favorite spot: Plantation Drive in Sea Pines
Hobbies: biking, swimming, hiking and fishing
Prize catch: a 72-lb. tarpon which now hangs over the bar in Land's End Tavern
Favorite color: light blue Guilty pleasure: shoe shopping
When she's 89 she'll be: getting lots of massages
Words to live by: the Golden Rule Inner beauty vs. outer beauty: "Beauty is not how good we can look on the outside; it's how good we feel on the inside."