THE SELF Center by Donna Kelly

THE SELF Center: Find Your Bliss
By Donna Kelly

Just off the hustle and bustle of motorists on U.S. 17 in Winter Haven, perched between a dusty parking lot and serene lake, is an oasis of peace and tranquility offering respite from life’s stressors.

THE SELF Center, owned by mother-daughter duo Phyllis Ferguson and Cari MacConnell, offers a wide variety of services and classes designed to soothe and heal the mind, body and spirit, from massage and facials to yoga and tai chi.

For those seeking to delve deeper into the self, the center offers life coaching and personal development classes as well as a touch of the metaphysical with intuitive counseling, past life regression, and classes based on various world philosophies.

“It’s a place where you can escape the world, learn techniques, and take them out to the world to make it a better place,” says MacConnell. “This is a safe place for healing.”

“We picked the name because it is what we want – we want to feed the self,” Ferguson says.

Following Bliss

The center’s founders believe in the power of focus. Ferguson, 60, a licensed massage therapist, life coach, and Reiki master, was happily working part-time in the wellness arena for 17 years when she decided to follow her dream. MacConnell, 38, was settled in the financial planning industry for years and doing massage on the side until she was laid off and forced to reevaluate her life.

“I was at a crossroads. I could stay in the industry or follow my bliss, so I jumped off with both feet,” MacConnell says.

Less than a year ago, they took a class together called “Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” based on the book, “Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity: A Simple Guide to Abundance” by Edwene Gaines.

“The instructor told us to set a goal and we both wrote down the same thing,” Ferguson says. When they were asked what they needed to do first, they both says, “Get a building.”

“We literally had a building in three days. It just lined up,” Ferguson says. The duo opened the doors of THE SELF Center on February 1 of this year. “What you focus on is what you get – this has been a real focus,” Ferguson says. It’s a family focus. Ferguson’s son, Steven, is a licensed massage therapist who also works the front desk and attends classes.

Carroll Franklin, an instructor and intuitive life coach, says Ferguson and MacConnell are the heartbeat of the center.

“The Self Center is a collaboration of these women,” Franklin says. “They both have a desire to offer a welcoming place to the community that centers on the wellbeing of the whole self.”

For Ferguson and MacConnell, it is tangible proof of one of their life truths.

“Following your faith, following your bliss, does work,” MacConnell says.

Mind Opening Experiences

Franklin, a retired emergency room nurse, taps into her Native American ancestry and her intuition to offer intuitive counseling, past life regression, meditation, and animal totem classes. She also leads Full Moon and Native American medicine wheel ceremonies.

“Relationships are kind of my specialty,” Franklin says. “It’s using my intuition and the person there to see things that might help them grow.” Counseling sessions are relaxed and private.

“I just feel the person’s energy and start talking. It is literally just having a conversation,” says Franklin, who trained at the Arthur Ford International Academy of Mediumship in Miami. “Whatever they need will just come out.”

Franklin guides clients in discovering behavioral patterns, such as repeatedly picking out the same type of incompatible mate.

“It is good to see the kind of things you’re doing over and over so our souls can heal. It’s so freeing when you see something you’ve always carried and realize you don’t have to do that anymore,” she says. “I think there are a lot of fractured souls out there.”

Past life regression is a guided meditation that walks a person back to another time and place to help her deal with an issue causing a struggle in the present.

“I take it back like it is a movie. It’s like seeing another side of yourself,” Franklin says. “It’s going back to help you deal with whatever is happening in your life now.” Other classes, taught by various instructors, include Free Thinking: Life Beyond Spirituality; Communicating with Spirit Helpers; Reiki, a form of energy healing using spiritually guided life force energy; numerology, the study of numbers to reveal the future or hidden information; guided meditation; and Soul Group, a gathering to discuss various topics.

New classes are continually added to the schedule and are repeated upon request.

Former librarian Phyllis Brinson not only gets regular massages at The Self Center, but she attends every class she can. She began with a Sage-ing – or positive aging – class when her late husband became ill. She quickly began attending classes about Reiki; stones and crystals; and Chakras, a Hindi tradition based on energy sources in the body.

It changed her life.

“I met this wonderful group of people I didn’t know existed. I started seeing all of these different things. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to handle the deaths of both of my husbands,” says Brinson, a 67-year-old Winter Haven resident.

THE SELF Center has become Brinson’s sanctuary.

“It’s very calm and peaceful. It just helps you through your week. All you have to do is come in and sit on the sofa with the girls and talk,” says Brinson, whose allergies and asthma have disappeared since applying principles learned at the center.

“When you let your mind rest and relax with the classes, all the busy hustle and bustle problems in the world are their problems not yours.”

The secret to THE SELF Center is the caring with which healing techniques are shared and applied.

“As long as we are on this earth there is something to learn. We all have our own stories and something we learned,” Franklin says.

Getting the VIBE Instructor Tara Wohlrabe collectively exercises the mind, body, and spirit in her VIBE class using guided meditation, breathing techniques, and toning exercises.

Wohlrabe, a 30-year-old certified trainer through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, designed the class to fill a need in her own life during a time she was working 50 to 60 hours a week and stress was beginning to take its toll on her.

The class begins with breathing exercises to clear the mind, relieve stress, and gain focus. Then there’s 25 minutes of working on the body to high energy music with basic strength and toning movements for all the major muscle groups. Mind, body, and spirit are pulled together at the end with a guided meditation. VIBE is suitable for all age groups and doesn’t require weights or equipment other than a yoga mat.

“It’s not for those who want to want to kill themselves with exercise for an hour,” Wohlrabe says. “It mixes exercise with the spiritual component they won’t get at a gym. There’s no religious base at all, it’s just very spiritual and open.”

Wohlrabe says many people are leery of meditation and don’t know how to use it.

“People sort of fear what they aren’t familiar with. Just come and check it out and you will find a lot of really warm, kind-hearted people. They (Ferguson and MacConnell) had the opportunity to get together and share things that are really good for this area,” Wohlrabe says. “These are guided meditations, so they are just ways to relax.”

THE SELF Center is a place of learning, says Wohlrabe, where people learn about themselves and how to lead a balanced life.

THE SELF Center is located at 2750 Hwy. 17 North in Winter Haven. For more information visit or call 863-875-5635.