Diary of a Massage Therapist: Growing Up in My Private Massage Practice

By Jennifer Shaw, LMT, cPT at Bodywork In Austin, and Guest Blogger

I can hear all the birds of Austin chirping and chattering and flat-out squawking outside the window in front of me, but all I can see is the bright front yard and Eastside street. The early fall, Texas wind is blowing in the crepe myrtles. His shoulders, starved for life, are warmer than usual under the resting pressure of my hands, and the wholeness of the moment seems very clear.

A man we’ll call Ben is has been my massage client for two weeks. He is unique to me because all he can bear is 20 to 30 minutes of shoulder massage in a backward-facing chair in his entryway. Ben is also a cancer victim referred to me through Hospice Austin’s volunteer program for massage therapists, and in only one hour of his life, he has completely changed mine.

Growing up is hard to do – most of us remember how we got here and how awkward and bumpy it was. Our massage practices are no different. In my adolescent practice, I juggled 40 hours per week at a desk job, booking massage clients during lunch breaks and scrambling to grow and manage my business during every other free moment. Finally, I’d give up my massage practice in tantrum of frustration only to pick it up again in a moment of career clarity.

Then I’d promptly repeat the childish cycle.

Over the last year, I’ve managed to grow up a little bit. I committed multiple desk-job career suicides, before finally picking up massage full-time. Then, I hit what must have been private practice puberty by working at both a major national massage chain and a local, top Yelp-ranked massage clinic while still juggling my private practice. I literally got acne during this time from all the stress.

And now, I have finally arrived here – with my hands on this man’s back, listening only to the birds because I cannot hear his breath. And what am I thinking?

This can sustain me.

In the face of such a serious situation, in this clear and painful moment working on Ben’s wasting muscles in front of the sunniest window in Austin, I’m feeling very grown up. I’m beginning to realize not only can I be a massage therapist for real, but that I am one. Now it’s time to focus.

Interested in becoming a Massage Therapist? Check out the schedule for the next 500hr ProgramClick here!