What an honor I received. My business was awarded Small Business of the Year! After almost 9 years of being in business, it actually means more now than if I had gotten it in the earlier years. I truly cannot believe that time has really passed so quickly. It'll be 9 years this August that this all started. 9 years ago Bear and I were just finishing up the last stretch of our college years. We were living together at the time in a tiny, nasty apartment in Dinkytown for $700/month rent. In May we graduated with our degrees and only he knew what he was going to do with his life. That summer we moved back into our own parents houses and started the work on what was to be "our house". We spent every moment that we weren't working on that house. Sanding and restoring hardwood floors, lots of painting and lots of cleaning. I had gotten three part-time jobs that summer working at The Holiday Inn, Border Bob's and Sha-Sha. I had basically followed the same pattern every summer I came home. The summer flew by. Driving from Ray to town and helping fishermen at Border Bobs and then literally driving out to the lake to wait on the same fisherman and serve them burgers. Then I would drive the 40 miles from the lake to Ray. Every.Single.Day. Bear in the meantime was working every day 8-4:30 with his dad and brother at the electrical business they own. We managed to plan our wedding and still have some fun in there. I don't remember being all that concerned that I wasn't working in my field. Until mid July. My future Father-in-Law was wiring this little women-only exercise place in the mall and mentioned to the owner that I went to school for something like "working out and food" AKA Exercise Sport Science and Nutrition. It all kind of fell into place. I got an "interview" with the owner, which consisted of me being overdressed with a resume in hand and her simply saying, "so when can you start and what size t-shirt do you where?". I also had been offered and accepted a fill in job at Rainy River Community College for a teacher who was going on maternity leave. We opened Curves August 6th, 2001, I got married on the 18th and started teaching Exercise courses at the community college on the 26th. Busy month! 4 years later and a baby on the way, I bought out the current owner and made Curves all my own. I have had a faithful following of my community and members. It has been 5 years since I took ownership and I have continued on this journey that I started with these women. It has been a great one. When 2 of "my girls" asked if they could nominate me for Small Business of the Year, I said that I would be honored. I really think that I was awarded because of the wonderful words they wrote. When I was called by the Chamber of Commerce I truly was in awe. Of course I started bawling. I have become quite a weeper in the last year. I started announcing on the circuit that I had won and by the next day I had a huge bouquet of flowers from one member, a giant "Congratulations, we love you" sign from another and tons of hugs and tears. I am truly blessed to be doing what I am passionate about. Bear and I are both blessed to be back in our home town, working in our fields of expertise, raising our children so close to family and loving every minute of it.