Time to Make a Difference…

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I’ve decided to go back to LMT school.

For most of those in my close circle, this isn’t news. And for most people those eight words aren’t exactly fascinating, or even interesting… but this is a big deal in my little world. Not just because it’s something I want to do, but because it will mean having a life beyond my role of wife and mama. Being a quiet soul, the only reason I would want to go out into the world on a regular basis would be the possibility of making it a better place — the chance to touch someone’s life and give them a bit of a boost. Life is hard, and if we don’t make the lives around us a little brighter, then who will?

Before I start to get all philosophical about things, I just want to use this post to put up the essay I wrote as part of my application to OSM. This way I’ll have it stored in multiple places and won’t have to worry about losing it.

Time to make a Difference

I began my journey of fascination with the world of bodywork during my first pregnancy. I am a voracious reader, I always have been, so it was natural for me to read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy, birth, and infants. I was a young mom – we married young and decided to begin our family when our marriage was still young – we had energy and love to spare and all the studying I was doing just added to our excitement. I was in awe of the human body’s natural abilities, and early on in my reading I knew that I wanted to experience the power of nature in my body as much as possible. I planned a natural birth, and child-led weaning for the nursing relationship I considered a normal part of motherhood, since that was what my mother had done. While studying about attachment parenting – a philosophy of parenting that really resonated with my spirit – I came across the idea of infant massage and quickly found a book to explore it further. I had no idea that opening that simple little book would mark a profound change in my understanding of the human triad – body, mind, and spirit.

It began simply enough. The book talked about the importance of touch and the many benefits for infants when they are given the gift of infant massage. Then, when my son was born it was obvious from the beginning that there was something “different” about him. He barely slept at all during the first two weeks of his life, and he cried A LOT. Thankfully, he was a good nurser, and while I was the only person he wanted to touch him, he seemed to enjoy the little bits of infant massage I was able to manage. For the first few months he wanted me to hold him constantly – I dozed on my back, he slept on my stomach – he didn’t want anyone to touch him, and yet screamed if I put him down. As I was able to add more “massage” into his days, he gradually grew calmer, and by his fourth month he was a very interactive, happy little boy. He babbled and laughed and played games like peek-a-boo. At nine months, he began “slipping away” though, he was walking, but his babbling, laughter, and smiles simply disappeared. I had no idea what was going on, but focused all my efforts on engaging him – using foot massage and what snuggles he would accept to draw him out. By his first birthday he was smiling again and even laughing a little, though he was mostly silent — he rarely even cried unless he was scared (which was frequent in busy environments – we couldn’t go many places).

By the time I had been mothering this little boy for about two years, I knew that I wanted to study massage therapy “for real”. It seemed like taking classes in the evenings when my husband was home to play with our son would be realistic, so I enrolled at East West College of the Healing Arts, even though it was a long drive from where we were living in Scappoose. I thought that going part-time would work out fine, but I failed to realize just how much energy I was using to get through the days without adding an intense educational program on top of things. We didn’t know that our boy was autistic – this was 15 years ago, and autism wasn’t something anyone really thought about yet. It wasn’t on anyone’s radar – let alone mine. But running a house with an autistic toddler who rarely slept, (which means I was lucky to get 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night) and then adding on a busy school program was too much for my body. I had to withdraw due to a health crisis which left me with an ulcerated throat and a fever that took a month for me to kick. Obviously, I couldn’t be on campus with something that appeared communicable, and I had to accept the fact that life was telling me that this was not my path at the time.

Fifteen years have passed, in that time our oldest was joined by his brother, and they have grown into amazing – yet unusual – young men. They are both on the autistic spectrum, and I have spent these years helping them grow and learn – my life has revolved around their world, their education, and their development – body, mind, and spirit. Now it is time for me to prepare for the next part of my journey – to discover what my life will be like when my boys have moved even further down their life paths. It is time for me to make a difference in the lives of others outside my own family circle. Throughout these years, the power of “loving touch,” and the one-on-one care it conveys, has had a profound impact on our lives. My boys would not be the young men they are today without the “help” of bodywork and the interactions it has provided, and I want to be able to help others in a similar way. It seems that the door I once thought was closed permanently was only closed for a specific period of time – so that I could learn how important the path behind it would really be.

The emphasis of the human triad of mind, body, and spirit at Oregon School of Massage is what leads me to believe that my life story will unfold itself further there – that my “complete self” will be at home. In the Massage Basics class I have taken, I have become convinced that this is a place where I can learn this ancient way of helping others, in a place where my entire being will be able to feel safe and respected – where I will be accepted as I am, and my life story will be appreciated. In this class I have been reminded again how much I love sharing the “power of touch” with others, and I know that the “calling” that I felt years ago was not wrong. I am meant to touch the lives of others this way. Just as I have spent the last 17 years of life nurturing the lives of my sons — now it’s time to make a difference in the lives of others.

There, now I feel like others may have an inkling of why I’m interested in massage therapy. Anyone want to donate their time to the “cause” so I have bodies to practice on? :)

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