TLC: A Community by Choice : Connecting Fairfield’s Holistic Tribe for More than 20 Years
Dec 10, 2018 03:15AM
By Beth Leas with Nicole Miale
When Beth Leas discovered energy healing more than 25 years ago—she practices Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu—she immediately felt she had found her calling. At that time people still had phone land lines so Leas had a second line put in her office to support her new energy healing practice. The answering machine message said, "You have reached the TLC Center”; it was just Leas in her spare bedroom. As the saying goes, begin with the end in mind. In 1997 Leas found space in an old Victorian house in Norwalk and created a TLC Community that to that point had only existed in her mind.
“I was referring my clients to other practitioners for services I did not provide—and I thought it would be wonderful to have a place where clients could have a choice of many holistic health services under one roof,” Leas explains. “My vision was also that it would serve as a community for the practitioners. TLC was founded with the premise that a single candle burns brighter in a gathering. There is a synergy that is born when people come together to serve the greater good.”
The TLC Community began as a small group of practitioners offering private sessions and group classes and workshops out of the space. Initially most of the TLC members were holistic professionals such as medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, energy healers, acupuncturists, herbalists and nutritionists. Over the years, the community grew to include yoga teachers/studios, financial advisors, psychotherapists, web designers, lawyers/mediators, graphic designers and others.
“It began to attract anyone whose target clientele included people who are interested in healthy living/holistic health,” Leas says. “We offer the practitioners not only community via networking and support events, but also marketing to a targeted audience of almost 5,000 people with a specific interest in healthy living.”
After 20 years as Fairfield County’s largest holistic resource center, TLC lost its lease one year ago when the building was sold. Leas was initially concerned that not having a brick-and-mortar space would prove detrimental to the cohesiveness of the community but the opposite has proven true. For the past year, the TLC Community has been meeting at local restaurants and TLC members’ offices and is thriving as a result of the change. New practitioners are joining each month and Leas says members are developing deeper relationships by visiting each other’s locations instead of one central location.
The staying power of the community’s connections and support for each other is exactly what Leas had in mind when she began. “Early on in my private practice, I realized the number of people I could offer healing sessions to was limited,” she says. “I realized if I supported other practitioners in growing their businesses, it would exponentially increase the number of people who could benefit.”
The business coaching and mentoring services Leas provides to TLC members have proven instrumental to the growth and enhancement of countless practitioners and holistic businesses in the area. Leas says she loves supporting other practitioners/entrepreneurs and helping them expand their ability to reach more clients. “It’s all about effecting greater change,” Leas explains. “Over the past 25 years, I have seen many super-gifted practitioners struggle with getting enough clients simply because the business aspect is a completely different skill set and one they just didn’t bother to learn.”
The challenge inherent in coaching passionate entrepreneurs is that they are independent-thinking people by their very nature. Leas says getting people to come together sometimes feels like herding cats but she draws even the most reluctant to join in the fun offered by the larger group. “I often say our networking events are the anti-BNI,” she laughs. “We welcome everyone.
I don’t believe in competition. There is plenty of business for all of us. We can all learn from one another and there is synergy in collaboration. There’s enough pie for everyone. We can always make a bigger pie!”
Leas says despite—or perhaps because of—an abusive childhood, she has always been a "the more, the merrier" kind of person. Having a place for people to come together—a center— appealed to her in part because it created an opportunity for her to do her own deep healing around the meaning of family. Her personal healing journey began when she was 15 and learned to meditate as a way to deal with the harsh reality of being a trauma survivor. She discovered a powerful lifelong practice which decreased her anxiety and helped her process traumatic events.
“We can’t take people where we haven’t been. I have spent 40 years meditating, writing, in therapy, receiving energy healing, acupuncture, massage, doing yoga, more therapy,” Leas says. “Through it all, I came to understand that although we alone are responsible for our healing, there is tremendous power in being witnessed along the journey. We are all connected at a very deep level, though we appear separate at the surface.”
Leas’ vision for TLC continues to evolve. She would love to help build TLC Communities in other areas and link the TLC Communities. She enjoys creating connections and nurturing relationships and wants to explore synergistic collaborations. She says, “Community isn’t a luxury—it’s essential to our well-being. As our extended families grow further apart in modern times, finding and supporting our communities of choice becomes all the more important.”
For more information, connect with Beth Leas at 203-856-9566 or visit 203TLC.com for a directory of practitioners and to sign up for the newsletter including a list of upcoming events. See ad, page 25.
Nicole Miale is Publisher of Natural Awakenings Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley, CT and Natural Awakenings of Greater Hartford, CT. Connect at [email protected]