Today we’re talking to Leonie Nanassy, founder of transformative retreat and workshops Hands On Life, and creative consultant. Leonie shares the power of pausing, why California will always have a special place in her heart and her go-to Instagram feeds.

#1. So, what’s your favourite word?


#2. Excellent. What gets you up in the morning?

Hope, tea and the dog.

#3. What do you truly, honestly think of social media?

It’s a minefield, exciting, endlessly creative, time-consuming and time-wasting.

#4. Kindles or books?

Oh, books. Books are beautiful.

#5.  Roger that.What do you think is the biggest challenge to your industry right now?

Within massage? It’s the no-touching policy. There are laws around touch which, in certain circumstances, is the right thing as you have to be so careful, but it means people are kept away from touch. Touch is what helps us to pause, ground, and nurture our body and minds, helping us to thrive and reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones… and it’s a fabulous tool to express your creativity.

#6.  What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A teacher but somewhere along the way, I started to have dreams of being an actress or dancer, and then a sculptress. In one way actually, now I am a teacher and I dance. 

#7. What led you to your current career?

When I was working promoting the arts and doing fairly big creative events, I burnt out. I went to California when a friend challenged me that they would pay half the fee for a month long massage training at the famous Esalen Institute. The whole experience along with very inspiring teachers absolutely resonated with me. It felt like I could explain everything I felt through my hands. 

#8. Can you use your favourite word in a sentence?

Yes please.

#9. Now can you make it rhyme?

Yes, let’s make a mess.

#10. Yes, lets. What advice would you give to your younger self?

To pause…. Be more accepting of imperfection; it doesn’t have to be perfect, just be as authentic as possible, and work on that on a daily basis. It’s so easy to race through the day. Pausing and thinking: ‘am I being authentic?’ doesn’t come naturally; it’s a muscle that needs to be trained, especially when you’re younger. My advice would be to listen to yourself, your body and ask, is this what I really want? Does it feel right?

#11. What’s the best thing anyone’s ever done for you?

So many magical things have happened. Being introduced to Esalen Institute. I came into myself and started to connect more deeply with myself and the world around me.

#12. Magic. Tell us, what’s been your ‘career-defining’ moment?

Oh, how can one define a career? It’s so three-dimensional. Someone can have ‘made it’ but still be desperately unhappy.

#13. True. If you won a big award of some kind, who would you thank?

To a certain  extent, I would have to thank the people, places and situations I got into that were really hard and unsupportive so that I could see and find ways to pull myself out.. and be thankful of family, friends and strangers that were there and ready to help when I was ready to listen. The world is magical in that way.

#14. Can you give us a timesaver of the day?

Take the time to pause. Just a simple little pause can do so much to help calm your mind and recharge your batteries, giving a real boost of creativity to help you prioritise.

#15. Where do you see your industry in 24 months?

Thriving. The need for the healing arts will be bursting at the seams.

#16. Where were you 24 months ago?

Doing more events, consulting, spending time building connections and helping grow a community.

#17. What’s an interesting fact about your company?

It’s more three-dimensional than people might realise. It’s not simply one activity; it’s really important that we create a diverse, meaningful programme, that incorporates each of the senses. The food is nutritious and delicious, the setting, stylish and nurturing. The teachers, therapists and team on board are very, very genuine and committed – it makes a great combination. The general feedback has been participants have learned so much more than they expected; creating a depth and space for change and transformation.

#18. Where do we sign? If you could have a 24-minute Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Oh la la, Susan Sarandon or David Bowie. Can I have both?

#19. What’s one word you’d want people to describe you with?

Creative.  Warm. And funny.

#20. Cheeky. Would you mind taking a selfie for us?

Here you go

#21. What’s your favourite Twitter handle or social media campaign?

Moving Ventures, educational programs in healing arts

Anya Hawkes, yoga teacher and wellness expert

Jo Betts, yoga instructor

The Seed SistAs, Sensory herbalists

Love Stories Intimates, gorgeous lingerie brand

Harvey Lynch, perfect for anyone looking for art for their workspace or home

Happinez magazine, I just love this

The Freelance Naturopath, Sarah Murphy, herbal alchemist

These are all fabulous people – go follow them!

#22. What’s one quote that defines your work ethic?

“Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow” Frances Hodgson Burnett

#23. What’s been the best part of your day?

The sunshine.

#24. Finally, anything to plug?

Take a look at the retreat calendar at Hands On Life; our next retreats include Sculpture, Yoga and a Jewellery Making weekend.  Also, please do contact me if you would like to discover how to make touch more of an integral part of your life.


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