Thursday, February 2, 2012
A New Haven Massage Therapist in a Mad, Mad World
So I'm now a New Haven massage therapist. I started out as a Washington, DC, massage therapist and later a Peruvian massage therapist (well, I was the gringa therapista de masajes when I lived in Cusco), but in August 2011 I returned to the United States to set up my practice back in my home state of Connecticut and reacquaint myself with New England. And, needless to say, it's been an adventure. I came back to the country single (after an American divorce and then a breakup with my Peruvian boyfriend), financially unstable (a first for me), and a desire to build a new massage practice. From scratch. In a crappy economy. I must have been out of my mind.
But never once did I think I was crazy for doing that. I knew it would take a little time, but my practice would grow. I love what I do so much that word of mouth would build my practice the same way it did when I first started out as a massage therapist in DC, right? But it hasn't been as easy. Wallets are tighter, and things people view as "luxuries" aren't even factored into household budgets these days. And, sadly, a massage is still seen as a luxury instead of an important component of stress-free, healthy living.
So as I began to build my practice here in New Haven, I did it with the full intention of keeping my health and happiness a priority. Quality time at the gym, lunches with mom, hikes up Sleeping Giant -- all of these activities gave me the motivation and drive to put myself out there and grow my business. And it's working. I'm doing what I love and I'm doing it well.
So PLEASE stop feeling guilty about taking care of yourself! At least once a week a client asks me if I get regular massages and the answer is "Of course! How could I take care of you if I'm not taking care of me?" And this goes for everyone. Moms, dads, teachers, police officers, baristas, bus drivers, pilots -- we all take care of a lot of people -- and some of us are doing a bang-up job of it. Why? Because when you put yourself first, you can put others first, too.
Valerie Monroe, an author on Oprah.com, explains this concept very well. "Being skilled at taking care of yourself may improve your capacity to care for others; if you're not fulfilled, you're only able to see other people through the filter of your own needs."
So fulfill yourself first. I tell my clients that it's a cocktail of things. For some, a combination of yoga, exercise and massage does it. For others, participating in a book club and a knitting circle (with or without a glass of wine) fits the bill. Just make a point to prioritize yourself and you'll be even better at taking care of everyone else. I promise.