I’ve now been an active, practicing licensed massage therapist for just over a year, and what a year it’s been! I’ve learned much; I have great people I work with, who practice a variety of modalities, and are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience. Gotta love this industry; we’re in it to help people, and that includes other therapists. In any other industry, I’m pretty sure competitiveness would kick in, but here? No. It’s all about “Oh, I do this, let me show you how!”
I’ve worked, for the last year, for a large massage franchise. I know, I know; if you’re a practitioner, you’re probably cringing as I say that. I cannot tell you the amount of flack I get because I still, to this day, staunchly defend this franchise as a beneficial work environment for some. I mean, let’s take me. It’s given me a year now to figure out what to do, how to do it, and perhaps most importantly, what I don’t want to do any longer.
Let me explain. I go in to work on scheduled days, during scheduled hours, which I picked. My clients are lined up for me. I don’t have to solicit them, they come to us. The front desk associates strive to line up clients with me who want what I have to offer, so I seldom get stuck with someone who needs a lot of deep pressure, when I prefer to work at a light-medium pressure. I don’t have to worry about laundry, providing draping materials or any of the props/supports necessary to different types of massage, nor worry about music, ambiance, so on and so forth. In short, I go in, I do my hours, I go home. Life is good.
What’s not so good, however, are the pay rate (I do believe we’re very much underpaid) and the mess-ups that see clients paired with me who should be paired with someone else. This is a problem both for the client, who doesn’t receive the work they want, and for the therapist who often works outside his/her comfort zone, attempting to provide what the client desires. In some cases, this can actually cause injury to therapists.
In addition, I’m not able to specifically reach out to the client base I want. What’s that mean, you ask? Isn’t massage just massage, and what’s the difference? The difference really is that mindset. You see, most people come in and receive massage for two reasons: Either they want the stress reduction and relaxation that comes from massage (which is, in my experience, fewer clients) or they want some specific problem fixed. “My neck/shoulders/shoulderblades hurt.” “I pulled something in my back.” “I was jogging yesterday and something in my foot started hurting.” “My doctor told me I should try massage for my sore hips.” “My sciatic nerve is killing me!”
As you can see, the majority of these ailments are very physical in nature. Now, don’t get me wrong! It is one of the more gratifying experiences of my life, knowing that I can help with these ailments! But … and yeah, there’s always a but, right? These aren’t the ailments I feel drawn to reach out to, to assist with. In short, the ailments I feel drawn to help are more, I believe, of the soul-sucking ones. The ones that can destroy confidence, that can make one feel isolated even when they’re around people. The ones that are patently “abnormal” when compared to the rest of our society. These ailments are Anxiety. Depression. Stress. PTSD. ADHD. SPD.
And massage can, and does, help with these as well. However, these are not the majority of the clients we see at our franchise.
So, I took a chance, and reached out to a local Reiki clinic here, and was accepted there as a Massage Therapist. Yay me! This, now, will give me the opportunity to begin catering my business where I want it — helping people who struggle with the same issues I’ve fought my entire life.
Well, now comes the difficult part. You see, the call-in clientele for Massage Therapy at this clinic is small. This means that I’m in the driver’s seat now. I have to find my clients. I have to reach out to them. I have to overcome their natural, in-born defensive mechanisms — especially in regards to touch — in order to begin to demonstrate that massage can benefit them. In short? I have to drum up the business to pay for the education to continue the business in the direction I wanna go.
Whew. That’s a lot, huh? I gotta say, I’m amazingly grateful to my franchise. Not only did they agree to keep me on one day a week (I have clients there with whom I’ve developed a trust relationship that I cannot void), but I’m also able to put myself on the schedule for additional days. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys; despite what folk say aboutcha, I like ya!
I’m scheduled, August 15, to attend a Wellness Fair for a local school district. I’m pumped. And nervous. And and and … so many things! But this is good, I keep telling myself. You see, I want to reach out to people for the things I mentioned above and, sadly? Many of the clients I can help are children. So this could be very good, right? Yep, I keep telling myself that!
Small steps, then, I must remind myself. Progress is progress, and moving forward is moving forward. I’m not the first who’s done this, especially within my field, and I won’t be the last. It’s doable, and it’s right. The time is now. So just breathe.
Let me tell you, folks. When you step out, off that cliff, you know you’re going to fall. But you believe, even in the face of known physics, that you might fly. Right now? I’m stepping off, looking up rather than down, and believing firmly that flight is possible. This is an amazing journey, and I’ve been gifted by being allowed to take part in it. So anything else is just gravy, right?
Rebranding ain’t easy. It’s stepping out into the unknown. However, most of our lives involve that stepping out, taking chances. It also invariably involves failure. But our view of failure can change. We can choose to see it as a loss of ourselves, or we can choose to see it as a new possibility. As the ability to figure out what didn’t work, and move forward. Much as I figured out what I didn’t want to continue doing at my franchise. Much as I have figured out that sometimes, it takes a goad to get us really focused, and eliminate that fear of failure. I have to wonder; how many great ideas never came into fruition because I was afraid I’d fail? How many books unwritten, songs unsung?
Not this time. This time, I step off knowing I’ll probably fall. Assuming the cliff ain’t too high? I’ll pick m’self back up, dust m’self off, and climb back up. Only to step off, again.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m amazingly lucky to have reached the point in my life where I can see this, do this, and accept the falls.