In 1994 I moved out of state to a state where no one had any money for massage! If someone had told me my career as an MT working with chiropractors was over prior to my move from Cape Cod to Maine I would have laughed at them. But it was true.
I moved to a small coastal town with 700 residents. I searched high and low for a position like the one I had on the Cape but it did not exist. There were no MT’s at the chiro offices in Maine. I tried to carve out a position for myself by meeting with several chiro’s in the area but nothing materialized. I was forced to take a waitress job to make ends meet. I had always waitressed in the past here and there but thought that was behind me. Apparently not. Luckily I got a job at local seasonal restaurant. Since I had moved to Maine early July 1994 it turned out to be a great job.
Winter arrived, as luck would have it I got a job at a local ski resort. I say local…..it was two and half hours from my home. So I rented a place and traveled there for a few days per week. That job ran from December to April and it was a blast. I met all kinds of new fun peeps and I even learned to ski. The perks that go along with working a ski resort are huge or at least they used to be. I worked at that job for the next fourteen years. I would ski in the morning and massage in the afternoon. Prior to that position I never saw myself as a seasonal worker but suddenly I had become one by default. We used our massage rooms as our own personal lockers. At one point management got aggravated with us because we all had our ski equipment hiding in plain site for the massage guests to see. I told them the guests love to see our equipment, it shows them were committed to the mountain and to our job. They bought that excuse stopped haunting us to remove it all before the start of our shifts.
I think what I’m trying to get across in this blog is this; don’t ever turn your back on an opportunity. At first I was leery of traveling two and half hours to work but thought to myself how can I make this work. I’m glad I did. My daughter grew up skiing and hanging out on weekends in the health club where I Worked. The PTA mom’s would sign up for weeknd’s over the course of the winter and depending on which mom was coming to the mountain that weekend they would pick all kids up from school on Friday and head my way. I usually left early Friday morning so I could I get a few runs in before my shift. It was a great life!
I feel like I could write 20 more blogs about my 1st job as a massage therapist at that chiropractic office. So maybe I will! The staff ranged in ages from 21 to 35 years old. Literally there was no one over the age of 35. Except for two of the billing ladies. I believe they were 45 and 48. But they worked upstairs. All us kids worked downstairs on the floor. I treated upwards of 20 patients per week. I saw everything from whiplash to a medial collateral ligament strain to TMJ to a QL strain.
I remember thinking about 2 weeks after I started that job “I Don’t know anything”! I realized early on I was over my head. Way over my head. I had to figure out how do I increase my skill set and fast. I enrolled in Ben Benjamin’s injury massage program. It was a series of five four day workshops at his school in Cambridge Mass. Of course my good buddy and partner in crime at the office, Kimlyn enrolled as well. The training I received was priceless. It was exactly what I needed to excel at my position.
At that point in my life I had a 2 year old daughter, Lizzie. Kimlyn would pick us up at my house, we would drop Lizzie of at my Mom’s on the way and then proceed to the workshop. Most of the time we would bunk in with Kimlyn’s brother who had an apartment in Boston. So for me it was a mini vacation. I left the husband behind, dropped the kid at the grandmothers and I was free to learn and have a little fun as well. I threw myself into that training. I learned all Ben had to offer. Kimlyn and I were envied. We were the only MT’s participating in the workshop who saw injuries on a regular basis.
During the knee workshop one of the TA’s told us we so lucky because the chances of a knee injury walking into your office were slim but we saw them all the time. I’m glad I knew at the time how fortunate I was to have that job. Realizing I needed to hone my skill set was huge. I did not run from the challenge of that job I embraced it! So the next time a client walks into your office and you’re not quite sure which way to go, please do not be intimidated by the situation. But instead embrace it and find the training necessary to do what you need to do to make it work.
In my last post I talked about the people who assisted me with becoming the best massage therapist I could be. I mentioned my friend and colleague Kimlyn. To this day I still dearly miss her. I was truly fortunate to work with such a talented body worker. A body worker whom which I only felt camaraderie and never competition. We bounced ideas off each other, discussed patients and the appropriate protocols and if either of us felt we were not serving the patient in the best way possible we would gladly pass that patient off to other.
We had always conducted ourselves in this fashion and were shocked to hear that other body workers did feel competition with each other within the confines of their practices. We found this out when we were on our way home from an AMTA New England conference, circa 1989.
We were giving another massage therapist from Cape Cod a ride home. She was extremely interested in our positions at the chiropractic office and was curious about how we worked it all out. We told her the treating doctor would decide which one of us to schedule their patient with. And explained to her many times after we evaluated the patient if we felt the patient would benefit from the type of bodywork that the other provided we would transfer the patient. The massage therapist riding with us said very matter of factly so how do you handle the competition between you two. We were taken aback by this question and told her there is no competition. She didn’t believe us.
Competition is the rivalry that leads to supremacy. This should never be a factor in bodywork. Kimlyn and I were solid in our ability to treat patients and reach the end goal. Neither of us were shy about consulting with the other on tough cases. And many times after treating a patient the best way I knew how with little to no results I would consult with her on additional ways to treat and she would gladly show me. The same went for her. She was not shy about asking my advice as well. I believe as bodyworkers we need that camaraderie so as you go through your day if you happen to have a client cross your table and you need advice please reach out to another body worker.