The Story of Mobile Om: Part 3 - Making Moves
Invigorated with a new sense of purpose, I took the advice of the therapist and started to research massage therapy.
First, I spoke with a family friend who was an amateur Shiatsu practitioner. The conversation was discouraging. He explained the need of having a complete understanding of anatomy and physiology akin to that of a student in medical school, the lack of acceptance of massage as a healing modality, and even worse, that one could not make a proper living. Needlessly to state, I was disenchanted.
So I took a step back, refocused and decided to concentrate on a career in the hospitality field. I had taken a job as a hotel manager and although I enjoyed my job, it began to lose its luster. More than a decade can do that to a profession, especially one you don’t love. I missed the world of theater.
When I left my career in dance behind, I had shut the door completely and disassociated myself from all but a few dancer friends, unable to watch a performance without being overly critical. Theater wasn’t the only thing I missed - I realized that I truly missed working with the human body.
It wasn’t until I turned my eyes southward that I saw something for me on the horizon.
One of my fellow co-managers and friends had moved to Miami Beach. That year, Pennsylvania had two massive blizzards---all roadways closed down, hotel guests stranded, employees unable to come in. It was beyond stressful.
Knowing I was frustrated and not having a vacation in years, he invited me to visit, teasingly adding, "Oh and there are several massage schools nearby, as well as tons of spas and resorts that hire massage therapists." I accepted his offer to visit. It was the first vacation I had taken in thirteen years and was excited about four weeks in the sun and sand.
After my first week, I received a call from my corporate office indicating that I would have to return immediately. The hotel I managed was being sold and I had to meet with the new owners and prepare the staff for the transition. Despairingly, I returned.
The sale went through smoothly and the new owners and employees were happy, but I was not. I wanted more in life than exceeding forecasted revenues, scheduling, updating budgets, meeting guest expectations, and the like. Although my previous management company offered me a position, I opted to stay with the new owners, asking that within the year, I would be permitted to a leave of absence so I could take a massage course in Miami. They agreed.
In the blistering heat of a July day, I loaded my Toyota Celica with two suitcases, a travel companion, and a desire for change. The plan was to attend a six-month massage course and return to my position as hotel manager. I enrolled at Florida College of Natural Health, and found an apartment in the heart of South Beach a few blocks from the ocean. It was amazing.
One week later, fashion icon Gianni Versace was murdered only a few blocks from my apartment. There was a serial killer on the loose. Police, helicopters, news crews, FBI, fear, panic, and pure bedlam filled South Beach. I sat alone on the floor of my empty apartment questioning everything. What had I gotten myself into? I was scared. The previous week I had made large financial commitments in signing a lease, ordering furniture, and enrolling in school. There weren’t any other options. I had to stay committed.
I’m glad I wasn’t deterred because the first day of class was another day that changed my life.
I chose Florida College based upon its reputation, curriculum, and requirements for completion. Entering the massage program mid-course, the class was preparing for an exam. Students were engrossed in anatomy books, discussing muscles I have never heard of; terminology such as origins/insertions, adduction/abduction, supination/pronation; tapotement, petrissage, circular friction. How would I ever catch up?
Since an exam was being administered (on my first day, no less!), the instructor offered me a massage. I was nervous as hell. The truth is, I had never had a professional massage and had no idea what to do, what to expect.
"You want me to get naked in front of a group of strangers?" She stopped and inquired if I had ever had a massage before. I nervously told her the truth that I had not. She quizzically looked at me asking, "You have never had a massage and yet you want to be a massage therapist?"
She explained the procedure, adding I would be covered at all times---a technique referred to as draping. I recall while the instructor was working on my hand, her telling me to relax it. I thought, oh my gosh--I never felt so relaxed, why does she keep telling me this?! Now I grin at the memory: I was holding my arm straight up in what resembled a salute from Nazi Germany.
After class, I went to the registrant's office informing them that I no longer wanted to participate in the six-month program. Instead, I wanted to enroll immediately into the degreed, advanced clinical program. I was hooked.