LeaP Productions, by Leah Podollan is a lifestyle and wellness blog written from the heart and fueled by a passion for health and the soulful art of living.
Who is Leah?
A self-professed Spa-Junkie, I have long ago turned the word “Spa” into a verb. Spa’ing for wellness is my passion! Owning and operating my own, award-winning spa has been one of the greatest challenges and joys of my professional life. I truly believe that, “Spa’ing should be a healthy habit, not just a luxury earmarked for once a year”.
Though I consider a spa to be my sanctuary, I am also blessed to have a lifestyle that does ‘occasionally’ take me outside. As an athlete, I am constantly driven to push myself and in my fortieth year, became a rookie tri-athlete & yogi. I ran a 2:01.12 half marathon, finished my first triathlon (although I can barely swim; more to come on that later) a GranFondo cycling race (122 km). Since then I’ve ran several more 1/2 marathons (1:53:00 pb), and ran the New York City Marathon in 2014.
A Culinary Adventurer
Back at home, I ROCK the kitchen: my specialty is soups & salads ~ working with farmer’s market fresh, real and organic. Every year I preserve and can 200+ pounds of local produce. My passion for healthy food combined with the challenges of preparing meals for our highly anaphylactic child has given me a great deal of creativity in the kitchen. I delight in health food stores and I will spend countless hours reading labels and experimenting with recipes.
A Diva & A Coal Miner
Every woman I know is wonderfully complex. None of us are one-dimensional (thank goodness!), and neither am I. The “Diva” in me loves to be adorned with fine fabrics, stilettos and designer handbags. But, when the 4” heels come off, I will be the first one to climb on our roof and clear the leaves out of the eaves.
I’ve never been afraid of hard work; at one point I took a job as a coal miner. With steel-toed boots, a hard hat and all of the accessories, I shoveled coal at the bottom of a breaker station in an underground mining shaft to pay my own way through school. I am fiercely independent and determined.
I am an organizer and a planner; I can carry off dinner parties for 16, co-ordinate charity events and single-handedly plan weddings for 150. I love to entertain.
I am a friend. I need to be surrounded by positive energy and I believe that friendships are nurturing and shower us with huge physiological dividends. Knowing that I have a close circle of genuine friends is a blessing for which I am truly grateful.
“To have a good friend is one of the highest delights of life; to be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings” ~Anonymous.
A Little History
Life experience demanded that I was all grown up by the age of six. My type A personality helped me to balance a tumultuous home life, whilst excelling in extracurricular activities. I was a contestant at the Miss Teen Canada Pageant and graduated with honours. I’ve always pushed myself, am willing to take risks and am often described as an “all in” kinda gal. I don’t believe in regrets; everything happens for a reason ~ to learn and grow by those reasons is a gift.
I am a passionate wife. Not exactly of the “yes dear, no dear” composition, but blessed to have found my soul-mate; my til-death-do-I-part guy who treats me like a princess, but knows the strong woman that I am.
With 20 years between us, our relationship is complex and communication is key for even though David is the older one, he remains young at heart and retirement is not a word with which he is familiar. I’m the younger, more mature one, with a twist of prim and properness and, thankfully, the wisdom to know that though he is “Disneyland” and I am the “White House”, that it is these differences between us that make it work. Together, we love intensely (strangers have commented on the irrefutable chemistry between us) and navigate a life filled with spontaneity, joy and common marital challenges. We are blessed with 3 children and 3 grandchildren between us.
I am a proud, protective, somewhat tiger-like mom. To be there for my children in their activities as well as in the simple quiet moments of life, is a responsibility and a privilege that I take very seriously. With great support, I encourage my children to be active and involved with life in the pursuit of their joy.
I’m ol’ fashioned and somewhat traditional, creating a dinnertime that is family time, a bedtime that is story time and a home that is a safe place to fall at the end of every day. Somewhat strict and very trusting, I value the open and real relationship that I have with both of my children.
The corporate social responsibility of my spa is in alignment with my personal focus – to women, youth and wellness. Annually, both corporately and personally I strive to give of the heart to various organizations and events. In 2013 I joined a volunteer build project in a rural and impoverished region of Nepal. The objective of our trip was to finish work on a school and dig the footings for a women’s vocational centre – Unako House (translates into “it’s hers). Through friends and colleagues I was able to raise over $25,000 towards this build. I plan on making another trip to Dang, Nepal.
2012 was my fortieth year. My childhood taught me many valuable lessons and gave me strength; my 20’s were a whirlwind ~ a career, my baby girl & a fairytale romance; my 30’s were hard work, highlighted by a dream wedding & our tenderhearted son. For my 40’s the tone is time for a soulful decade.
I intend to be kinder to myself. I vow to better look after myself (time to loosen the buckle a notch) and to stop taking myself so seriously. Yearning for restful sleep, letting my hair down and enJOYing more in life. I plan to engage in meaningful endeavours that soulfully increase the quality of my life. In taking better care of myself, I will be in a better position to give more of myself…and I plan to do just that, in some very meaningful ways and it all starts here.
Let the journey begin…
What do I do?
2018 will be our milestone 20th year in hospitality. My husband and I have built a boutique hotel chain, Podollan Inns, (founded in 1998) that we own and operate in Western Canada. After 12 years of being involved in start-ups, capital purchasing and overseeing operations, I retired from my position as hands-on Hotelier and decided to devote my professional focus to my spa, The L Spa and Wellness Centre.
The spa has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Spas in Canada, Top 100 Spas 0f America and it is a Quality Assurance recognized spa by the Leading Spas of Canada (since 2011), an Eminence Green Spa and has been featured in Alberta Venture Magazine as one of the “Best 25 Things in Alberta”. It was a finalist for the 2012 Alberta Business Awards. I’ve been on the Board of Directors for the Spa Industry Association of Canada and in 2014 I quite humbly accepted a nomination by the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce for for the Alberta Women Entrepreneur Awards; one of 33 Alberta women entrepreneurs recognized at the Celebration of Achievement Nominee Reception of the Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in Edmonton, in 2014. In 2015 the spa was nominated for Employer of Choice and Small Business of the Year (10-100 employees) for the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce. We were overjoyed and truly honoured to have been awarded Employer of Choice.
I’m truly inspired and driven to discover the most that spa’ing for wellness and healthful living, has to offer. I travel regularly, visiting spas around the world to soak in as much of this wonderful experience as possible and I’m very excited to share those experiences with you right here…