The Story of Mobile Om: Part 3 – Making Moves

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.  

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