Sometimes the Thing You Can’t Do is Actually the Thing You Can’t Do

I was recently offered a great opportunity to expand my private practice. I was offered the chance to perform chair massage at a local company with a large (for Vermont) workforce.

I was deeply honored that they contacted me, and moreover I was impressed and grateful that they valued their employees so much as to offer massage as part of their employee appreciation day.

It broke my heart a little to say no.

Five years ago—heck, three years ago—I would have jumped at the opportunity. Two years ago, I’d have done it but regretted my choice by the end.

Now… I’m eight years into a massage career. To say that hundreds of bodies have been on my massage table is putting it lightly.

If I do the math, I’ve done over 1,500 massages in eight years.

My hands, my wrists are tired. Moreover, I’m 44 and arthritis runs in the family. I can feel it starting in my thumb and finger joints. I’ve started taking collagen as a protective measure, but it will only help so much.

The simple fact of the matter is, I am no longer physically capable of providing the quantity of treatments I used to do. It is very common. Many of the therapists I know who have been doing this as a career for longer than five years seldom do the number of hands-on hours a newbie in the profession does.

Many of my massage classmates are no longer massaging at all. Few of us made it past the five year mark. Several are getting trained for new careers that take them even further away from the craft.

So, where does that leave me? It is a hard thing to admit that you can no longer do something you used to love, and still love on some level. It was hard to say no this wonderful opportunity. I was able to recommend others who are still growing and thriving in their practice, and it felt good to be able to do that.

The struggle to realize that what was once a yes is now a no is difficult. It kinda sucks. You feel like you’re letting everyone—including yourself—down. You feel like you’re selling yourself short; you should be able to do it. So you should do it.

Where is should coming from? If you can’t do it, don’t do it. If the idea of something makes you want to cry, don’t do it. It doesn’t matter if last year the same thing sounded like the best idea ever. People change. Things change. You can’t apply last year’s rules to this year’s game. They’re different.

I’m different. In honoring my needs (and yes, my limitations, and boy does it hurt to admit I have limitations), I am moving forward and making sure I stay healthy, fit, and uninjured for the long haul.

And that’s the goal. The long haul.

Me on graduation day from Massage School. I was so excited for the future!