When It’s Time, It’s Time

Sometimes, you can maintain the status quo. Sure, things might get a little snug as you outgrow where you are, but you find there’s still some give left. Sometimes you stretch things out a little too far, and the zipper gives and holes tear in awkward and embarrassing places.

Last week things stretched too far and I reached my breaking point.

Ten years ago, I entered massage school. Nine years ago, I started work in my new career. I’ve done some loose math, and I have done well over 4,000 massages in my almost decade-long career. For the first two years of my career, I was doing one hundred massages a month. It’s only been in the last eighteen months where my goals have gone from twenty-five massages a week to thirty massages a month.

Me at massage school, me at my private massage practice.
The top image is me nine years ago, during clinical week at massage school. The bottom is me before shift this past Sunday.

People are always quick to ask how a massage therapist manages to do so many massages. They are floored by the physical exertion and can’t imagine giving a ten-minute massage to their loved one, let alone doing five hour-long massages in one day. Therapists tend to shrug off such questions in the moment, answering with a vague nod to body mechanics and training. But the reality is, it takes a toll.

What no one ever asks is how a therapists deals with the emotional and mental toll it takes on you.

Regardless of one’s belief around energy work, the truth of the matter is when someone books an appointment, they come in because something is off. Maybe they’re stressed out, or maybe they’re in physical discomfort. Maybe they just went through a break-up, or a death, or some other emotional event. Whatever they have going on in their life, they come to the table seeking healing.

And if you’re a good therapist, you care.

You care about what they’re going through, how they hurt. You want to help them feel better. You want them to leave in a better state than when they came in. You keep a box of tissues handy for those emotional intake sessions. You give your clients a safe space to share what they may not be able to with anyone else. Massage is all about increasing mobility . . . but that doesn’t always mean physical mobility. You give them a place to let go, so they can move on: physically, emotionally, or mentally.

After nine years of helping my clients find ease in their bodies, minds, and emotions, it’s time for me to show the same compassion to myself. So, at the end of the month I am officially retiring from massage.

I love that I am able to use the word “retire” here. Because it’s the right word. When I left marketing, I didn’t retire from it; I GTFO. I ran as fast as I could from it, and never looked back. I still treat it with a fair share of trepidation and distrust. I was so unbelievably over it that any sentimentality I might have had over the good things was tarnished by my frustrations.

Massage, however, has treated me well and I’m grateful I found it. I’m beyond humbled at all of the amazing practitioners and people I’ve met as a result of this trade. I feel like I’m gracefully bowing out at the right time, knowing there are other wonderful, highly-skilled colleagues that will come in and continue the good work.

What will I be doing next? Well, I’ve got a few things percolating, but the long and short of it is I’ll be focusing on building my writing and editing empire. Well, mostly editing since I’m still working on a few self-imposed writing roadblocks. But it’s time for my lifelong dream of working with words to take the stage.

I am excited for this new path in my life. It’s pretty damned scary, truth be told. But, it’s a path I literally need to take right now. I have no idea how long this little trail through the woods is. It could be a wee little adventure; there could be hobbits involved. But it calls me like it never has before.

So, it’s time. I’m going to put on my little red cape, pick up my basket of goodies, and try to avoid any and all wolves along the way. How exciting!

Looking forward to my future, to my next steps, to possibility.
Looking forward to my future, to my next steps, to possibility.
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