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My Career Path

June 5, 2009

Since I started blogging, I’ve received several emails regarding my job as a massage therapist, and I thought some of you might enjoy reading about how I ended up in my chosen career.

I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in history.  After spending my junior year studying in London, all I could think about all senior year was getting back to Europe.  So, after graduating, I obtained a student work permit and moved back to London to work and travel around Europe.  Yes, I was a backpacking bum, but eventually I had to come home and find a real job.  The following Christmas, I returned to Nashville and somehow landed a job in non-profit fund-raising and event planning.  I worked for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and then later for the American Cancer Society.  

When I returned from Europe, I missed all the constant walking and tried to walk as much as possible.  The walking turned into running, and after a few local races, I was hooked.  I began training for my first full marathon back in the Fall of 2002 and did way too much way too soon.  I developed a stress fracture in my pubic bone (fun, huh?), but didn’t realize I had it until I pulled my groin muscle during an easy 8 miler (even more fun!).  My groin injury was unbelievably painful.  For 3 weeks,  I couldn’t even lift my leg to get dressed!  After going to two different orthopedic doctors, I finally had a bone scan done, and as suspected, I did indeed have a stress fracture.   I was told not to run for 4 months, and misery set in as I knew I wouldn’t get to run my marathon.  I kept up my cardiovascular fitness with pool jogging (the most boring cardio ever) and the elliptical trainer.  However, even with physical therapy, my groin was still bothering me, which led me to this woman:

Don't you just want to give her a big hug?  Love my Juliana!

Don't you just want to give her a big hug? Love my Juliana!

I read about Juliana, a local massage therapist, in Nashville’s alternative weekly newspaper, and the testimonials from other runners she had worked on prompted me to schedule an appointment immediately.  

Juliana, a native of Trinidad, has practiced massage therapy for over 20 years, and her knowledge of the human body rivals any doctor I’ve ever met. Now, Juliana’s sessions usually aren’t pleasant, but after my first session with her, I went from walking with pain to running with no problems.  This woman is truly amazing and has blessed my life with not only her healing touch, but with her passion for helping every person that enters her door.

Massage therapy changed my world, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through all that running I used to do without it.  In fact, I was so inspired by how much it helped my body, that I quit my job in the non-profit sector (I was totally overworked and underpaid anway) and within a month, I was a full-time massage therapy student.  With the help of my parents and a few part-time jobs, I was able to take classes days, nights, and weekends and was licensed exactly 12 months later.  I’ve been working for the same alternative medical doctor ever since I finished school, and I truly love my job. Everyday, I make people feel better, and they are so grateful.  The power of touch is truly an amazing thing!

I get to wear yoga clothes to work - bonus!

I get to wear yoga clothes to work - bonus!

Now, I know most of you workout, and I cannot stress the importance of massage therapy enough! Listed below are just a few of the benefits:

  • Decreases pain
  • Increases circulation
  • Reduces stress & anxiety
  • Reduces muclse soreness
  • Improves range of motion
  • Boosts immune system
  • Promotes tissue regeneration
  • Lessens depression
  • Eases stress

To find a local massage therapist in your area, check out the following websites:

The National Certificaton Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

I know for many people, massage therapy is not an option due to the cost.  If that’s the case, I recommend contacting a local massage therapy school in your area as they often offer discounted student massages to the public. 

Again, human touch is something we all need in our lives.  Everyone, from an marathoner to a complete couch potato can benefit from massage therapy.  What are you waiting for?  Go schedule yourself an appointment right now!

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52 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2009 12:28 pm

    I absolutely LOVE getting sports/deep tissue massages and I try to incorporate them in my training regimen as much as my budget allows – thanks for this post and congrats on getting to do something you love so much!

  2. The Novice Berker permalink
    June 5, 2009 12:30 pm

    That’s an incredible story! Juliana sounds like a miracle worker, whoa. I’m so glad that life’s events have led you to a job that you TRULY enjoy and believe in!!

  3. June 5, 2009 12:33 pm

    what a great post! I like learning more about everyone’s life that we DON’T see on the blogs too much.

    Plus, yoga clothes to work? I think I definitely need a job change- and fast!

  4. Andrea permalink
    June 5, 2009 12:34 pm

    Great, now I want a massage. 🙂
    My boss broke her back a few years ago and the only thing that makes it feel better is massage. I’ve been to her girl a couple of times and she is amazing – there’s something so healing about another pair of hands working to make your body feel better.

  5. June 5, 2009 12:35 pm

    Very neat! Loved hearing about your career journey. I have never had a massage but it can be covered by my extended medical care so I should look into it, I carry so much muscle tension in my shouldders and back.

  6. June 5, 2009 12:36 pm

    Love your story!!!!

    It is so true. Human touch is so essential. We NEED to connect with others and feel that friendly touch and connection. We have talked about this in yoga teacher training. A lot of people though are so scared of it! THey don’t WANT to be touched. I can understand why people with certain background wouldn’t like it, but what’s better than a loving hand on your shoulder in a touch time? NOTHING!

    Massage really is SO important. I have learned so much about it since I have deepened my yoga practice and have HUGE respect for you and all the other great massage therapists out there!!!!

  7. June 5, 2009 12:41 pm

    I totally agree – the human touch (both literally and metaphorically, as in a hand written note) provides the soul with so much more than a sterile doctors office or an email, no matter what the intentions. Massages are one of the most healing things I can think of!

    I love your blanket. 🙂 Mexican wool? I have 3. Granted, I’m from NM, about 40 minutes away from the border, so its not much of surprise on my half.

  8. June 5, 2009 12:51 pm

    What a wonderful post Heather! You’re always so open and honest with us, and thats one of the 1000 things I love about you!! I love massage therapy, I just wish I could afford to go more often. My dad is a natural healer (studying Incan/Peruvian methods in the Andes right now actually!) and he’s got me fascinated with all the different techniques out there! Wish I was closer so I could take advantage of your chosen career 🙂

  9. June 5, 2009 12:53 pm

    What an interesting post!!

  10. June 5, 2009 12:57 pm

    This is amazing – thank you so much for sharing!

  11. June 5, 2009 12:58 pm

    Love your career path story, Heather!!

    Can you share your running story someday? 🙂 I know you used to run a lot, but not whether you loved it, why, what kinds of races you did, etc.!

  12. Lindsey permalink
    June 5, 2009 1:03 pm

    I’ve been trying to convince anyone I can that I need a massage, but no one seems to believe me. Maybe this will be the proof I need… =)

    Have a good weekend!

  13. Nicole permalink
    June 5, 2009 1:06 pm

    What an awesome job!

  14. heartswholefoods permalink
    June 5, 2009 1:07 pm

    Hi Heather! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and thought I’d say hello.
    A few days ago my physical therapist recommended going to a massage therapist and I am now more excited to go after your post. I have chronic back pain (at age 21!) and have done everything from acupuncture, herb medicine, and physical therapy.

    Thanks for this great post. It was very interesting! Love to see that you do what you enjoy!

  15. June 5, 2009 1:10 pm

    We’ve talked about this before, but thank you again for posting about it. I’m still unsure of what I want to do, and massage is definitely still on the table for me… I really like hearing about your history of traveling, working, then finding what was right for you. I keep coming back to something health related, whether it would be massage, or nursing, or becoming an RD.

    At the moment I feel like I’m in limbo. We don’t know where we are going to be in a few months, and I’m hesitant to start a program for anything. (Reason – Bobby’s job is not so certain anymore, we miss our east coast families – so we literally don’t know where (location) we’ll be in in the near future.)

    I’m glad to see that it’s okay to take a few years to find your calling 🙂 I LOVE my massage therapist (her name is Lois, and like Juliana, the massage is not always pleasant!) and the way I feel afterward is amazing. I wish it wasn’t so expensive so that I could go more often.

    Sorry for the long comment 🙂 Just wanted to say that I think you have a great story, and a lot of people benefit from hearing about it!!

    Have a lovely weekend 🙂

    p.s. i had a very CD-approved lunch yesterday with lots of parm. yum.

  16. June 5, 2009 1:17 pm

    GREAT post! If you ever come to NY I will gladly pay for a massage with you! I’m so happy you found a career you love.

  17. June 5, 2009 1:18 pm

    Great post Heath! I have been soo sore from dance and stuff, I need a massage so badly!! I’m gonna chickety check out those links.

  18. June 5, 2009 1:28 pm

    What a great story! I have been comtemplating a massage a lot recently as I have a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders. Thanks for the info 🙂

    I’m also still trying to find what I should be doing for a career so this is inspiring for that reason too!

  19. June 5, 2009 1:38 pm

    I loved reading this, Heather. It always gives me hope when people take risks and end up with careers that they LOVE. I’m so, so happy for you. You get to do what you love AND help people – how awesome is that?!

    I really need to get massages more often – I might look into the school thing so it is less money. Do you have clients who come in with knee problems? I’ve never had knee problems before and am not sure how/if massage would help?

  20. Serena permalink
    June 5, 2009 1:38 pm

    This is a great story – thanks for sharing! I just started reading your blog not too long ago and think it’s great – I really love how respectful you are to your body and I enjoy your healthy, if not sometimes unusual :), food combinations!

    So since you brought this up, I have a question maybe you can answer. Do you have any training in pregnancy massage? Can you explain to me the concerns about massaging certain pressure points (ankles, knees)? I see bits and pieces online about this but don’t really trust the sources I’m reading, and before I get my first pregnancy massage (I’m three months), want to understand what should and should not be happening. I’d love your advice!

  21. June 5, 2009 2:02 pm

    Way to go HEAB for following your passion – and what a worthy passion indeed. When you come visit me in NYC I shall commission a massage from you. 🙂 I can’t lie – ever since I had my first Thai massage it’s all I can ever think about when I think of any kind of spa treatment! Totally rocked my world and I absolutely can see how it would produce the benefits you listed above when done regularly.

  22. Dea permalink
    June 5, 2009 2:31 pm

    I have to say you must be a special person to have the ability to have that hands-on ability with people. I truly respect that!

    I’m an advocate for massage (and yoga). When I first started running several years ago I found myself a massage therapist out of the phone book and 3+ years later I still see her about every 4 weeks. It’s sometimes a struggle financially, but my health insurance allows me a 25% discount (and because of our relationship my therapist hasn’t raised her rate for me), but I view it as “maintenance” for my body just like diet and exercise. This last time I went 6 weeks between massages and boy did I feel it!

    Bottom line…my massage therapist knows my body and I appreciate her for it.

  23. Lara permalink
    June 5, 2009 2:48 pm

    Great post. I love massages and have found them very helpful for recovery during periods of heavy exercise. A massage therapist was able to help my IT band pain much more so than my orthopedist or regular doc who just wanted to give me pain killers.

  24. June 5, 2009 2:56 pm

    What a great story! I miss getting massages for sure!

  25. sweetkaroline permalink
    June 5, 2009 3:21 pm

    Massage therapists…GOOD ones that is…are hard to find but when you do find one they are truly miracle workers! I wish I could afford a weekly massage but have to make do right now with a foam roller. As soon as I can I’m going to try to schedule at least a monthly massage.

    Massages are fantastic for athletes!

  26. June 5, 2009 3:33 pm

    “Everyday, I make people feel better, and they are so grateful…”

    Indeed you do, Heabs. The Lord has given you a very special gift. Not only with touch and massage but a spirit that so sweet and so encouraging. THAT is a gift to be shared and you do that each day with your blog.

    The power of touch is truly amazing. A simple rub on the back and or a pat on the arm is so sweet and can even make a yoga class. All we need is a physical form of encouragement along with verbal of course… it just goes together. Like almond butter and peaches. 😉

    Love you so much! Have a wonderful weekend, my long time chum!

  27. June 5, 2009 3:34 pm

    Great post! I’m working on a change in my career path right now, and I love to hear about others who have made successful and satisfying changes, like you have.

    My husband is a licensed massage therapist. He’s nice to have around the house 🙂

  28. June 5, 2009 3:41 pm

    Good for you, I feel the same way about my job. I get to help people feel better and wear yoga clothes!

  29. June 5, 2009 4:00 pm

    Wow! What an impressive back story! First thing – pubic bone fracture? OUCH!! That couldn’t have been fun at all. I would love to hear about your European travels if you felt like sharing one day 🙂 I would kill to get back to Europe!!

    Even in my highly competitive days as an athlete, we were never really offered massages but it always sounded so appealing!

  30. June 5, 2009 4:15 pm

    I just got perscribed some deep tissue massage because of a groin strain/tight IT band/tight hip –all from running. Hopefully it works wonders for me just like it did for you!

  31. June 5, 2009 4:32 pm

    I love this story Heather! I’ve never been to a massage therapist but it sounds like heaven!

  32. homegirlcaneat permalink
    June 5, 2009 4:38 pm

    Wow this made my day!! I developed sciatica in my back 2 years ago and get shooting pains down my spine still. I also just carry tons of stress in my upper back and when I finally got a massage, it was so amazing. I finally had someone pushing back at the pain that was pushing at me and it felt perfect!

    I never knew you were a massage therapist! You are too cool beans! 🙂

  33. april permalink
    June 5, 2009 5:14 pm

    Now I really want a massage!

  34. traveleatlove permalink
    June 5, 2009 5:52 pm

    I usually wait until I have been working out tons and “deserve” a massage, but I just might schedule one for this week. Work is even harder than working out!
    If anyone is in Boston, I highly super recommend Madelon at Healthworks gym in Back Bay. She gives the best massage I have ever had, and it just feels very spiritual in addition to being physical. I bet you are amazing too Heather, seeing how in tune you are with your body! How cool.

  35. June 5, 2009 5:58 pm

    thanks for sharing your story with us! I think your job is really a rewarding job since you help people to feel better! 🙂

  36. June 5, 2009 6:02 pm

    Wow Heather, what a great story!! So nice to see that part of your life. Now I want a massage AND a hug from that lady 😛

  37. June 5, 2009 6:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing Heather!! I need another massage SOON! Wish you lived nearby 🙂

  38. June 5, 2009 6:38 pm

    I don’t think I could have made it through the last few weeks of my pregnancy without my massages. I used to get them ALL the time when I was preggers. Mama needs some of that pampering now. I wish you lived near by – I would totally be a weekly customer.

  39. eileen permalink
    June 5, 2009 6:59 pm

    heather,

    What type of massage are you licensed in? Is there any type that you prefer over another? Do you do reikki or any other alternative healing?

  40. June 5, 2009 7:09 pm

    i’ve had a couple massages in the past and they have been some of my favorite experiences! it just melts away stress and pain and any bad moods (sadness, anger) too.
    thanks for the suggestion about contacting the massage therapy schools, i’ll have to look into that!

  41. June 5, 2009 8:12 pm

    What a great post, Heather — I love to hear about how people find their various career paths! Isn’t it great to do something one loves?

    I’m getting a massage on Sunday for my bday — I haven’t been able to splurge on one in ages and I can’t wait 🙂

  42. Juanita permalink
    June 5, 2009 8:22 pm

    Heather, it was wonderful to hear how you found your calling.

    I know a lot of massage therapists find that they ‘give’ a lot of energy out to people – how do you make sure that you replenish your energy stores?

  43. June 5, 2009 8:33 pm

    ah. i wish i could afford to get a massage every day, i love them. its almost my incentive to do long races, since i usually reward myself with a 50 minute treat the next day. i think thats great that you found a job you love that you feel inspired by and that really speaks to you as a person. its so nice to do something on a daily basis (as a job) and still feel as passionate about it as you do. you truly do make a difference and thats such a unique gift. way to go heather!

  44. yogiclarebear permalink
    June 5, 2009 11:59 pm

    im so glad for you to have a job that brings so much fulfilment to yourself and to others. i feel the same way about teachig yoga. it is so rewarding.

  45. June 6, 2009 1:11 am

    Oh, HEAB, you are such a gift to all the people you touch (both physically and spiritually). Just having a mini-massage at PT today gave me a glimpse of the HEAVEN a good massage is.

    Speaking of heaven, I’m off to Costco for a HUGH JASS jar of almond butter in the morning! Thanks, Tipster!

  46. Samantha permalink
    June 6, 2009 5:23 am

    Massage therapy is all sorts of wonderful. Thanks for sharing the glimpse into your life!

    I hear you on that kind of pain…I separated my pubic bone when pregnant with my 2nd son. It was miserable!

  47. June 6, 2009 7:45 am

    I love getting sports massages (well I LOVED the one I got :D). This is such an incredible story! Thank you for sharing!
    ❤ jess
    xoxo

  48. June 6, 2009 9:00 am

    Yay, I loved reading about your career in massage therapy. It sounds like there are so many benefits to regular massage, and it’s great that you are able to help people. It is expensive around here, or I would probably be more likely to get massages. I might check into a massage school around here or just splurge sometime soon!

  49. June 7, 2009 3:01 am

    You are awesome…and little did I know there was a massage therapy school right across the street from me 🙂 I usually see a chiropractor for my back but I’m waiting for my healthcare to kick in, and a massage would be awesome as my back is really hurting.

  50. broccolihut permalink
    June 7, 2009 10:14 pm

    No way! You went to Auburn? I live in Birmingham, so it’s nice to see a fellow blogger who has at least set foot in my state:)

  51. June 8, 2009 5:10 pm

    love this post! and probably like all your other readers… I totally would love a massage. “MAMAAAAAAAA GC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ” ha.

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