A Letter From a Massage School Alum, Lori Dupree
To all teachers, therapists, present and future students, and clients of massage, we offer this beautiful letter as a tribute to you and to the precious knowledge that this profession is a carrier of. Touch is a miracle. Life itself is a miracle. And it is in these miracles, large and small, some of which we have a hand in, that we rediscover what the real meaning of life is.
The hard rain and wind are ways the cloud has to take care of us. -Rumi
Learning massage is never a matter of just acquiring technical skills. Massage school is also a place where people have a chance to respond with gentleness, with touch, and with knowledge to painful things in their lives. People come with hope regarding finding more meaningful work, often after deeply frustrating work lives. They also come with conscious and unconscious hopes regarding how to achieve more lasting happiness and health. This learning is an extremely poignant process. The following letter dramatizes through its particular story the incredible impact that studying hands-on healing has on the life of the student and the people he or she in turn touches.
This letter was written to me and co-director, John Conway and our staff at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School (TLC) from our graduate, Lori Dupree. We and Lori want to share it to amplify your inspiration and to speak to what massage training, at its best, offers us.
On August 23, 1995 I underwent a difficult operation that was a last resort to save what was left of my leg. It was about that same time a voice somewhere in my mind urged me to go to massage therapy school. It would be a very long and trying 4 months after the surgery before I would walk again. I did walk but it was limited and not always comfortable. When I moved to Austin in June of 1996 I had a little money saved and I had some sense that something positive was here for me. I went for an evaluation for a flex foot. For 10 years I had know about the flex foot. For 10 years I desperately wanted and needed the flex foot. What little money I had would not even begin to pay for this prosthesis so I followed my gut and visited the local massage schools. I knew when I entered The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School that first time that I had found a place I needed to be.
So TLC is where I spent the little money I had. My leg was already showing signs of breakdown and infection. The prosthesis was uncomfortable and needing to be replaced. I had hoped I could make enough money doing massage to replace it with a flex foot. As you know, taking my leg off and getting on the table became one of the most challenging things I have ever done. With the support, gentleness and skill of the instructors and my fellow classmates I saw my leg and my spirit begin to heal. Then came the wrenching part of the class, the Business Plan. I owe much to your business instructor, Irene Watson, for the challenge she gave each of us. The challenge was to consider what we wanted out of massage; our own business, to work for someone else, sports massage, etc. Her instruction was simple: develop a written plan for what we wanted, and then implement that plan. Somewhere during one of those painful business classes came the idea of trading massage for a flex foot. I proposed to the people at Rehab Designs of America (RDA), that I trade massage on their amputee clients in return for the flex foot. To my delight they were as excited as I by the prospect and agreed to the trade.
On August 23, 1997 I graduated from TLC. It had been exactly 3 years since I lay in a hospital, unsure if I would ever walk again. Not only was I walking, I was wearing a flex foot and my leg was doing better than ever. I was doing everything I had given up, walking, running, a physically demanding job, playing sports, any sport I wanted, the list is endless.
Today was my last day at RDA. The flex foot is paid for. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude to everyone at The Lauterstein-Conway. I learned how to heal myself. I learned to skillfully touch others. Many patients at RDA experienced massage for the first time. The benefits of the massage were immediate for many of those patients. It has truly been an enriching experience for me. The flex foot became in many ways a secondary gain.
Thank you so much for everything you do here at your school. I will always look back at my time at TLC as a turning point in my life. There was a point in my life where literally every step was agonizing. Now I take hundreds of steps each day and I realize I have not consciously thought about my leg. When I think about my leg now I am in awe at the power of the flex foot, I am in awe of the power of touch. I thank the universe for everyone at The Lauterstein-Conway School and Rehab Designs of America for I know I have been touched at a level that runs much deeper than the surface of our skin. Please know that with every massage I give, I try to honor the sweet spirit I experience at TLC and RDA.
Lori Dupree, Registered Massage Therapist