Often when people learn that prior to becoming a massage therapist I had a very good job at a corporate medical device company and chose to take an early retirement option to pursue my career change, they ask what made me make such a drastic one. My answer has varied over time as it became revealed to me. I started with a craving for perhaps a less lucrative career, but one that made me feel I was truly helping and connecting with others. What I have ended up with is so much more.
When you are in training in massage therapy, one of the first things the school professionals tell you is that you are going to learn new things about yourself and may experience much self-reflection and growth. Being a seasoned executive, more senior than many students I took this comment lightly, not thinking it related to me. How wrong I was! None of my experience whether it was in my entrepreneurial days or corporate ones was going to prepare me for the tremendous amount of work I needed to do. The anatomy and physiology classes (even though I had a good education) were tough. Physically, coming from a desk job, my body was not ready to be on my feet all day providing massages. I had to start working out more and eating better. Emotionally, I had to question many preconceived notions that did not serve me well to be the best therapist I could be.
I had wonderful teachers who were very patient with my excuses when exams didn’t go as I had planned (like me blaming failures on mid-life moments) and were always supportive and a wealth of knowledge. It was through their examples, and especially one teacher (who is the same age as my daughter), that I could see how becoming a massage therapist was not just a profession but a kinder, gentler way of life. I wanted what they had. A balanced approach to life and a boatload of patience. My perseverance and hard work paid off, and before I knew it, I was embarking on my new career and retired from my previous one.
The most valuable lesson for me was one about pushing my boundaries. It was scary and sometimes frustrating, but in the end the sense of satisfaction I felt was immeasurable. I was very secure in my corporate life and had years of experience to always draw on. In a way, people assumed that you had the answer, and usually in work life you did from many years of similar situations arising. Massage therapy was a whole new world for me, and now it’s my favorite destination. Opening my own studio this year was amazing. It is my personal space where I can welcome clients and continue to grow in my massage practice.