Today is a big day for me.
I feel like I’ve “made it”. A milestone has been reached.
Ding! Level up.
Today is the 10th Anniversary of starting my own massage therapy practice.
A few weeks ago, I had another anniversary; my 16th as a massage professional. That’s kind of a big deal too, seeing as the average career length is currently 7 years. Yep. I’ve totally “made it”.
So, by way of nostalgia, here’s my story!
Massage has always been a part of my life. I have lovely memories of my Opa rubbing my back, or my Grannie massaging my hand to help me fall asleep. Fast forward to my formative years, I was a theater kid, and massage circles are a regular team-building and warm-up exercise. I was also training to be a professional dancer, was even majoring in dance while in college, so massage was a regular thing for me.
My first professional massage was when I was 16 years old. My mom gave consent, and I had just received my driver’s license, so I drove myself to my regular appointments. I usually had some type of ache or pain associated with dancing, or an occasional injury, and I found therapeutic massage incredibly helpful in keeping me going.
I always found massage therapy incredibly interesting, but on the back-burner it went as I pursued a place on stage. I had an idea that I would study massage one day, after my dance career was over. Needless to say, I got into it a lot sooner than I expected.
I have to laugh as I think back to what motivated me to enroll in massage school; I was pissed at the Dean of the Dance Conservatory at the college I attended. I was doing really well in my dance classes, catching the eye of many of the instructors, as well as the Dean himself. When it came time to register for the the next semester’s courses, I wanted to take an Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) course. He said I couldn’t, which made no sense because I had every single prerequisite necessary to enroll. He said I couldn’t because I wasn’t a Junior. What a great way to ruffle my feathers; telling me I can’t do something despite having everything in order to do said something.
So, I decided to study A&P the next semester anyway. At a different school. [shrug] I spent the summer deciding on where to go for massage therapy training, and decided going to Lakeside School of Massage Therapy in Milwaukee, WI was a good fit for me. They had a fantastic program, a commendable track record and employment rate, as well as a 100% pass rate on the Board test. Sold.
We jumped right in to the coursework on day 1. I didn’t think I would last the first week. I was going to be a massage school drop-out. I had a 4.0 GPA, and I couldn’t handle it. I was so out of my element; I didn’t understand many of the anatomical concepts. Everything was so foreign! Thank God for my hubby. We were newly engaged at the time, and over the phone he talked me off the ledge and explained the principals I was having a hard time grasping. He was so patient. I need to remember to go give him a big hug when I’m done here 🙂
After that, I did extremely well in my coursework, graduated at the top of my class, and passed my Boards with ease.
My first two jobs were as a spa massage practitioner. I was good, but so very green. I quickly found I am incredibly unsuited to work in a spa. It’s not the type of setting or pace I thrive in. It’s also not my “sweet spot” of working most effectively with clients. I like developing relationships with my clients, and working in tandem toward their health and wellness goals. Can’t do that in a spa. You are lucky to even remember the person on the table’s name. There was also a lot of drama. A lot…
From there, I practiced for a few years in a well-respected massage clinic. It was definitely more my pace and matched my philosophy. I enjoyed working with other clinically minded therapists. We weren’t immune to drama, to be sure. There was still a lot of that, with close-minded competition and a helluva lot of ego. Learned a lot, but could only take so much for so long.
At the same time I worked at the clinic, I freelanced at a chiropractor’s office. Again, learned a lot, but the pace wasn’t my preference. It felt like a “treat and street” approach to massage. I was basically there to warm-up the patients before they were adjusted. There was little talk or appreciation for the amazing things massage could do for a person. It felt sleazy to me. I felt like I was being pimped out. This was not the approach, nor integrity, I wanted to Practice with.
At this point, I am about 6 years into my career. I was definitely figuring out what I wanted to do mainly by learning what I didn’t want to do. So, I…..jumped!
I rented office space from a chiropractor who had an extra room in her office but had no desire to have staff. It was a great way to really get my feet wet with minimal financial risk. I was able to set my own pace and work in a manner I saw most fitting and beneficial for the clients. It allowed me to have the time and the financial resources to really start focusing on my post-grad training, studying with some of the brightest minds in the industry. I was finally able to create something I envisioned.
I stayed in that office for a few years until I was ready to bite off a little more and take the training wheels off and go it completely alone. So I jumped again….
And here I am now. 2005-2015. I feel like I’ve arrived. And it feels good.
Looking forward to reveling in the moment….and looking forward. 10 years calls for a sharpening of the lens on my vision. Innovation is my mantra at present. What am I going to do next? Great question! And anything is possible!