Why I Became A Licensed Massage Therapist

Clients sometimes ask what made me go into massage therapy. Around 2008, as an amateur athlete, I became interested in sports massage. I had a table and a book, and would work on friends and family at home. I was very interested in the muscular anatomy and the aspects of sports recovery.

In 2011 or so, I was doing some deep soul searching. I spent hours on 2 wheels contemplating my purpose in this life. I rode from Rhinelander to Lake Superior on one solo adventure (135 miles each way – lots of time to think). I camped in a tent near the Union Mine River, and started my official Bucket List. I pick something off of it every year. The first thing was to ride in the Wausau 24 solo category – 24 hours of as much mountain biking as a person could do. This year I’m kayaking Pictured Rocks. At any rate, massage school was on my list. Logistically, though, it seemed far-fetched. It is a commitment of time and thousands of dollars. $6k just for school, not to mention insurance, licensure, equipment, etc, etc. The nearest school is over an hour away.

Then, in 2016, my sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. By the time it was found, it was beyond treatment. My sister was handicapped since she was an infant, and I’m not sure she understood what was happening in her body.

Becky<—Becky receiving massage and music therapy from Aspirus hospice, shortly before her death in June of 2016. When her massage therapist came to visit, she would have a moment of relaxation and it made her feel so much better. It was the most beautiful work I had ever seen.

Later that summer, my husband and I were visiting a friend, who introduced us to his lady friend, an RN/Massage Therapist. I was treated to her massage and knew I needed more of that in my life. The environment was calm and relaxed. The touch was enough to send me to that peaceful state of bliss….. I felt like between these 2 women, I was being urged to at least check into massage school.

My husband, per his usual, was supportive in me checking it out. I was working full time as a hospice nurse, with one overnight of call every week. I had struggled financially big-time prior to living with my husband, so I didn’t think a bank would actually finance me. Still, I needed to know. I started by calling my bank. No problem, and a decent APR. The school I decided on (Health Touch) for several reasons had just recently started and would accept me a few weeks in, due to my medical background. They met 2 evenings per week, 3-9pm. One of them was my on-call night. A fellow nurse switched nights with me, no problem. It all just fell into place. How could I not??

I’m still not sure how it all worked out. The schooling was not easy, even with my background. It was 12 hours of classroom and 4 of driving, plus practice time on various friends/family, plus studying, plus full time work every week for most of it. Nuts! Just goes to show you what a determined soul can make happen.

My original intention was to massage for hospice, but there have been no openings in my area for that. In the meantime, my little part-time self-employment gig has taken over in an amazing way, for which I’m grateful. I still hold most Wednesdays open in case hospice needs me to put on my scrubs and help as a nurse, but there’s talk of transitioning my hospice role to massage therapy later in summer of 2018. I’m totally down with that. I love bringing calm and caring touch to the people.

If that isn’t a rambling answer to the question, I don’t know what is! There you have it. 10 months into my professional massage therapy career and I’m wholly in love. Pursue your passions <3

On Being a Nurse and a Massage Therapist

Many of you know that I’m a nurse as well as a massage therapist. I had met my edge in nursing with overnights on call, and sought balance in my life by going to massage school. My plan was to do each job 2 days per week and have a weekday to myself for solitude/errands/house cleaning/adventures. I left my full-time hospice nursing job and took a casual position, working on a pretty regular weekly basis for Aspirus Comfort Care & Hospice Services. No on-call expectations, help out when I’m available and they need me, etc. Perfect arrangement. Balance. Two wonderful jobs.

My massage business quickly took flight. I expanded my hours for a crazy promotion in November 2017, in which I gave away 100 thirty minute massage sessions to the community. I called it Project Give Some to Get Some, and it was a resounding success! Since then, my calendar has been full 6-8 weeks out. Some clients signed up for a year at a time! My expanded hours have stuck, so my only available day for hospice was Wednesday. Most weeks I work as a massage therapist now 4-5 days (and try to squeeze my husband in on Sundays!).

It’s been some time since hospice needed me on a Wednesday. I generally have massage clients hoping they can get in that day as well, so I give Aspirus first dibs.  As of now I want to say it’s been about 6 weeks since I put on my scrubs.

And a funny thing happened recently. Once I put aside my guilty conscience for having invested in my education to become a Registered Nurse and hone my hospice skills (I do love hospice work), I realized that the very work that has taken over my weeks (massage therapy) is everything that I hoped nursing would be.

I meet a new client and assess their needs. I diagnose (not medically, duh, I’m not a doctor). I make a plan. I implement the plan. I evaluate the treatment (I love it when folks follow up in the couple of days after their massage – it helps me shape their treatment).

I provide hands (ok, feet too!) on care. I provide touch. I provide comfort and space to just be. I nurture. I help. I develop a relationship with my clients that gives continuity to my work. As I get to know them, I give thought to ways I might better serve whatever they’re coming in for.

This is what I went to nursing school for. And I’m finding it as a massage therapist.

I don’t love spending as much time charting as I spend with patients as a nurse. I don’t love turning down overnight call (my body just doesn’t handle that well at all – hello adrenal fatigue!) because I feel like a jerk even though I know it’s not expected. I realize people have pain and die in the middle of the night.

I love being my own boss, too! Heck, if I’m feeling overworked I have no one to blame but myself! I get to work in yoga clothes every day. My meditation and yoga practices benefit not only me, but those I work with.

So here I am, away for a weekend of ashiatsu massage training and excited to learn. Every day I spend in my rental room downtown giving massage, I am so grateful. My heart overflows. I needed more calm in my life and I found it. My work is my creativity. We’ll see if Aspirus feels like keeping me around or if I go 100% in on massage.

Either way, thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion.