Rita Garnto and her journey towards self-care
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
Author, Rita Garnto, has a new book coming out entitled Simple Self-Care. The book encompasses her story and how she managed to persevere through some trying times through the art of self-care.
Where are you now and what’s next career-wise?
Currently, I am a licensed massage therapist and continue with a small private practice. I teach self-care education, and I am a soon-to-be publisher (book should be released in November). I am transitioning into full-time speaking, seminars, and workshops.
What is rewarding about teaching self-care?
The ability to connect with my clients on a personal level! And teaching them how to put themselves on the top of their to-do lists with simple self-care.
What motivated you to shift your career direction?
I wanted to go into the healthcare field and did so by becoming a respiratory therapist right out of high school. I was burning out of that career after almost 20 years and was inspired to become a massage therapist by a colleague. Transitioning into a self-care educator and mentor has been a natural progression from being a full-time massage therapist with the encouragement of some of my massage clients.
What does your educational timeline look like?
I graduated from high school 1981 with honors, in 1984 I completed a three-year respiratory therapy training program at college (which resulted in a 20 year medical career), and graduated from massage therapy school in 2002.
As a writer, where did you find your inspiration?
I am a mom of two tweens, an adoptive mom, I am a business owner, wife, daughter of an aging parent 3000 miles away (my Dad is 88 years old) - so making sure I get enough "me-time" and self-care can sometimes be very challenging. This is what motivated me to write a book about simplifying self-care.
We hear you are into taekwondo. Any other interests?
One of my biggest hobbies is taekwondo. We are a martial arts family and have been part of the taekwondo community for over eight years. I am proud to say that at the age of 54 I have earned my 2nd degree black belt. Hi-yaa! I am also an avid reader of both fiction (mostly) and non-fiction, enjoy gardening, knitting.
What gets you going each day?
Self-care and helping others; making a difference in the world; making a positive difference in people's lives; helping others; sharing my life challenges and experiences to help others overcome their own challenges and difficulties. Feeling pain-free and being active also makes me happy.
What causes are you involved with?
I am a "storyteller" with MHA (Mental Health America) Central Carolinas.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
Having had the privilege of being a part of the trauma flight team - MedCenter Air - at CMC here in Charlotte for three and a half years, earning my 2nd degree black belt at my age even after having lower back surgery in my 20's, living with a diagnosis of arthritis in both knees (2005), and having neck surgery in 2011 after one of my disks ruptured, and completing my first self-care book (it's with the publisher).
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I deal with anxiety on an almost daily basis and I have learned to keep it in a good place with a combination of self-care, medication, and counseling.
What struggles have you faced in your life?
Divorce, infertility, adoption, death of my mom, maintaining almost daily contact with my dad who is 3000 miles away, lower back surgery, knee surgery, neck surgery resulting in three fused vertebrae and a titanium plate and three screws in my neck, anxiety issues, major stress, living in a war zone (I was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War), dealing with sickness and death on a regular basis while working in the critical care environment.
What events in your life or family's life have impacted you?
Four miscarriages, three tumultuous years in the adoption system, my mom's sudden death, and my brother's struggle with cancer.
Have you had a life changing event in your life?
Six months after we had adopted our daughters, I had a near nervous breakdown due to extreme stress. Seeing my doctor that day and him asking me, "What changes are you going to make in your life?" gave me a sense of control back and permission to take better care of myself. I feel that this really was the biggest event that changed my life journey to self-care education.
Where are you from?
I was born on the west coast of Canada in British Columbia. I grew up in a small city and lead a pretty sheltered life.
How did you become a Carolinian?
In 1994 I moved to Jacksonville, NC, from Saudi Arabia because my now ex-husband was in the Marine Corps at the time and was transferred. I then moved to the Charlotte area in 1995.
What do you love about the Carolinas?
The people I've met, the fall colors, the access to beaches and mountains within 2-3 hours.
What part of Charlotte do you call home?
The Ballantyne area.
Two daughters, two dogs, two cats, and ONE husband :) ... oh, and an empty fish tank soon to be re-populated
Where do you vacation?
I usually go to Canada once a year to visit my Dad, go to the beach every few years, go to the NC mountains once in awhile, visit family in Georgia, and Tennessee.
Dark chocolate and lots of half & half in my coffee
Favorite TV series?
One right now...Face Off
If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your time each day?
Write more, blog more, travel with the intention to help women and men everywhere deal better with stress through simple self-care.
Where do you see yourself retiring?
Here in Charlotte unless our daughters move far away. Then we may follow them!
Favorite spot in the Carolinas to visit?