Inspiring Okeechobee: Marci Lookabill doesn’t feel inspiring

OKEECHOBEE — Marci Lookabill has spent most of her life in Okeechobee. She is a business owner, a wife and a mom. “I’m not a quitter, and I don’t let things get in my way of being responsible and being the kind of parent that a lot of single parents miss out on,” she said. “You don’t have time to blame people. You don’t have time to depend on other people. You need to do it yourself.” She just has that in her, Ms. Lookabill said. She’s just kind of stubborn in some ways, but then again, she has always figured it out for herself.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
Marci Lookabill took a leap of faith and opened her own business, the Purple Orchid, in November 2017.

She had her son when she was 23, and she said she just worked hard to support herself and him. A massage therapist, she got a job at Sybil’s and did that until she could find another job where she could make more. She took a job at a pharmacy in the prison even though she had never done that before. She knew she wanted her own place. She was renting a place and knew she would not be able to rent and save, so she moved in with her dad and applied for a SHIP grant.

Ms. Lookabill She was able to buy a house. She wasn’t making much, but with the grant, she was able to buy a house, she said. She paid a daycare and a car payment. She never asked her family for monetary help. She just did what she had to do as a mother.

Eventually, she got married, and they had two daughters. They were together about 15 years. During the divorce, Marci was able to fight for her home even though she knew she couldn’t afford it. She got the mortgage modified to fit her needs because she was working out of town at the time and wasn’t going to move her kids, she said. They were in school, and that was her priority. Her career wasn’t her priority. She quit traveling so she could be home with the kids. She began building a clientele here in town, but it took her a long time. She worked part-time at Bella Rose and contracted with Pine Creek to do their massages out there. She had some private clients, and when she didn’t have her kids, she was working.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Marci Lookabill is pictured here with her children (from left) Andrew, Kelci and Maci.

Sometimes it seemed like life was pure hectic! Marci is remarried now, and it is a really good marriage, she said.

When she dreamed of opening her own business, her husband, Matthew said, “You can do this.” They opened The Purple Orchid (professional massage therapy services) the first weekend of November in 2017, and it has been great, she said. One of the hardest things she has had to do was just this last week, when she told her last two private clients she could no longer come out to their homes to take care of them. It just about broke her heart to do it, Ms. Lookabill said. There were times over the years where if it weren’t for them, she would not have been able to pay her light bill or bought groceries. She appreciated them so much. She will really miss them, but there are just not enough hours in the day. Season is coming, and season was really busy last year.

The kids are doing well. Her son is productive and holds a job. She told him the whole time he was growing up that she knew he liked fishing and hunting and her daughter likes shopping, but they each needed a job that provided insurance and pension, retirement, healthcare. So now he is with a union and has a pension and health insurance, and her daughter just graduated from Air Force basic training. “My younger daughter is only 12 so she is still a work in progress,” she laughs. “I did something right.”

When her son was little, she did get child support, and she used it to help pay for preschool at Peace Lutheran. When he started at North Elementary, rather than look at the daycare money as money in her pocket, she decided to take half of the money and open a mutual fund for him. Then every month, half of what she would have paid the daycare went into his mutual fund. She did the same thing when her daughter started school. It’s still there. Marci taught them how slow money comes and how easy it goes, she said. “It’s worked so far.” She taught them if they wanted to do hobbies or extracurricular activities, they would need to earn the money to pay for those things. She wanted them to learn to be responsible adults, productive citizens, someday, and it has paid off for the two who are adults, she said.

“I don’t feel inspiring,” she said. “I see so many moms who if they just dug deep, and quit relying on other people or on the system, they would be really proud of what they could do. I just want to say, get up. It’s not easy, but get up. Go figure it out. I think sometimes our system has become a crutch, and it entices people sometimes to stay on that crutch.”

Marci Lookabill has spent most of her life in Okeechobee. She is a business owner, a wife and a mom. “I’m not a quitter, and I don’t let things get in my way of being responsible and being the kind of parent that a lot of single parents miss out on,” she said. “You don’t have time to blame people. You don’t have time to depend on other people. You need to do it yourself.” She just has that in her, Ms. Lookabill said. She’s just kind of stubborn in some ways, but then again, she has always figured it out for herself.

She had her son when she was 23, and she said she just worked hard to support herself and him. A massage therapist, she got a job at Sybil’s and did that until she could find another job where she could make more. She took a job at a pharmacy in the prison even though she had never done that before. She knew she wanted her own place. She was renting a place and knew she would not be able to rent and save, so she moved in with her dad and applied for a SHIP grant.

Ms. Lookabill She was able to buy a house. She wasn’t making much, but with the grant, she was able to buy a house, she said. She paid a daycare and a car payment. She never asked her family for monetary help. She just did what she had to do as a mother.

Eventually, she got married, and they had two daughters. They were together about 15 years. During the divorce, Marci was able to fight for her home even though she knew she couldn’t afford it. She got the mortgage modified to fit her needs because she was working out of town at the time and wasn’t going to move her kids, she said. They were in school, and that was her priority. Her career wasn’t her priority. She quit traveling so she could be home with the kids. She began building a clientele here in town, but it took her a long time. She worked part-time at Bella Rose and contracted with Pine Creek to do their massages out there. She had some private clients, and when she didn’t have her kids, she was working.

Sometimes it seemed like life was pure hectic! Marci is remarried now, and it is a really good marriage, she said.

When she dreamed of opening her own business, her husband, Matthew said, “You can do this.” They opened The Purple Orchid (professional massage therapy services) the first weekend of November in 2017, and it has been great, she said. One of the hardest things she has had to do was just this last week, when she told her last two private clients she could no longer come out to their homes to take care of them. It just about broke her heart to do it, Ms. Lookabill said. There were times over the years where if it weren’t for them, she would not have been able to pay her light bill or bought groceries. She appreciated them so much. She will really miss them, but there are just not enough hours in the day. Season is coming, and season was really busy last year.

The kids are doing well. Her son is productive and holds a job. She told him the whole time he was growing up that she knew he liked fishing and hunting and her daughter likes shopping, but they each needed a job that provided insurance and pension, retirement, healthcare. So now he is with a union and has a pension and health insurance, and her daughter just graduated from Air Force basic training. “My younger daughter is only 12 so she is still a work in progress,” she laughs. “I did something right.”

When her son was little, she did get child support, and she used it to help pay for preschool at Peace Lutheran. When he started at North Elementary, rather than look at the daycare money as money in her pocket, she decided to take half of the money and open a mutual fund for him. Then every month, half of what she would have paid the daycare went into his mutual fund. She did the same thing when her daughter started school. It’s still there. Marci taught them how slow money comes and how easy it goes, she said. “It’s worked so far.” She taught them if they wanted to do hobbies or extracurricular activities, they would need to earn the money to pay for those things. She wanted them to learn to be responsible adults, productive citizens, someday, and it has paid off for the two who are adults, she said.

“I don’t feel inspiring,” she said. “I see so many moms who if they just dug deep, and quit relying on other people or on the system, they would be really proud of what they could do. I just want to say, get up. It’s not easy, but get up. Go figure it out. I think sometimes our system has become a crutch, and it entices people sometimes to stay on that crutch.”

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment