Massage has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom was a certified massage therapist before I was born, so there was always a folded up massage table in our house. Most of the time it blended into the background of our daily life, but occasionally my mom would welcome a friend or relative into our home, and the table would come out of its usual spot against the wall. I remember feeling a pull to it, though at the time the thing that really excited me about the table was the way the sheets fell off the side to make a blanket fort.
I was curious about what massage was and how it worked, so when I was around five, I started asking questions. My mom began teaching me some of the techniques she used and I started practicing on her; she was my first instructor. The times spent learning massage from my mom are some of my favorite memories and now that I have chosen massage as a career, they mean even more.
My mom was also chronically ill for a lot of my childhood, and has since been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There were times when she would ask me for a massage because the techniques she had taught me were helping relieve her pain. When I was a teenager, she started having issues with one of her feet. The pathology escapes me this many years later, but she developed a spot that was hurting her so much it became difficult for her to walk. If I spent time massaging it though, the next few days she would feel great. She told me how much of a difference I was making in her pain, and I remember her saying, “you could do this as a career”. Unfortunately, like every teenager, I was opposed to taking my mom’s advice so I didn’t consider massage as an option for my future.
I knew I wanted to have a job that helped people though, so I pursued social work. Throughout my education and hundreds of hours of volunteer work, I learned about societal pain and the policies that created it, as well as the policies that tried to ease it. I saw myself doing macro level social work as a policy maker, with a potential future in politics. I wanted to make big changes for a lot of people.
When the pandemic happened, I was working at a nonprofit and saw, both in my job and in the government, how even when policies have the best intentions, they are often not enough, and sometimes they create even more problems. The injustices of the summer of 2020, and the injustices that continue, shook my belief in social work as a viable means to improve the lives of others. I was burnt out before I had even graduated with my bachelor’s degree, but with only one year left I felt stuck working toward a future I didn’t want.
After spending so much time “zoomed out” thinking about policy and politics, the pandemic and a cross-country move greatly changed my world and forced me to zoom in. What if I could make a big difference for a lot of people, I had just been approaching it the wrong way?
As I understood how the stress of the world we live in affects our bodies, I realized that I had been overlooking the trees for the forest. If our bodies hold and process everything we experience, there is a lot of healing that is needed on that level. The idea of going to massage school came into my head and I couldn’t shake it. I thought, “my life had already changed so much in such a short amount of time, what’s one more pivot?” I’m so happy I took the leap and followed my heart into the massage and bodywork profession. I can now see that the spark I felt learning and performing massage in my childhood is the same one I felt through my education at Avalon. That spark has grown, carried me through to graduation, and I know it will continue to grow as I become the bodyworker I want to be.