I love my job. I love my coworkers. I absolutely adore my clients.
Since I began my career, I have worked in different settings, each time being an independent contractor with whichever office I was at. So, although I was in an office that someone else owned, my business was separate, but included of where I was located.
And I have lived a dream partnership for about 8 years. But, I may be having intuition that we might be having different visions of our futures.
When I got into massage therapy, it was for a few different reasons. First of all, I believe in the power of touch. Either positive or negative, touch can change lives. My original LMP was a career, style and feminine mentor for me. She modeled for me who a massage therapist could be. Secondly, I wanted to own my own business. Thirdly, I wanted to work only part time or less and wanted a career where that was the norm. Lastly, but possibly most importantly, I wanted to emulate a change in lifestyle. That through massage, humans could learn an alternative to living life faster. They could learn to savor their time and take the path of paying attention to minutes, seconds instead of having full days escape without notice. Through massage, an alternative level of relaxation, health, living and awareness. This is how it had changed my life and I wanted to share the experience.
Through the past decade that I've been in practice, there has been a diversity of specialities that LMPs have been able to pursue. Medical massage which involves NC health insurance billing. Sports massage that is used for recovery and prevention in athletes. On site massage for the therapist that wants to take massage into the field of offices, homes or the marathon tracks. Spa services which incorporates massage into a variety of beauty services including, hair, nails, cosmetic surgery. And many more sub specialities that can go on and on.
For myself, my calling has been straight, basic massage. A kind of no frills, but compassionate and intimate procedure that can be intense for both the client and myself. It requires an attention to the client/therapist relationship that is very personalized and hopefully long lasting. I have seen clients through the timeline of life experiences. Wedding day massages, pregnacy massage, labor, infant massage sessions, cancer treatment and recovery, clients in extreme grief from all types of loss, clients who are elderly, clients where I'm invited by their families to come into the hospital to massage them as they are dying. This is my priceless, no money could ever begin to touch, service to others. And every time I'm honored.
But, I have set up my business to be this way. I am extremely careful to not burn myself out, sometimes having several days in between clients. There are times in the beginning of my career where I would work 4-7 appts in a row. But once I polished my technique and came into the LMP I was meant to be, that stopped. The money stopped being important. It was the being with people that mattered.
To live like this, I have ALWAYS carried an extra part time job or two. The steady paycheck coming from work that requires little of my soul pays the bills and allows me the freedom in time and attention to grow in a thoughtful, determined method. I still want to experience each day, each massage, each minute as attentively as possible. And have found that balance.
But, this cannot and will not work for others. This is how it works for me. The sole business owner of my current spa is a dear friend of mine, but also very motivated. We have made an amazing team as we balance each other perfectly. And I think that this may be changing. I'm not certain that our visions match anymore as everyone constantly changes every day. We may be coming into a time apart.
As my friend has her own unique responsibilities and drive, we have been emerging more into the spa services type of business. This type of business plan has really overcome the focus of massage in the mainstream. As it is no longer only in the hands of the generations of earth mothers and hippies, it has become more regulated (which is wonderful from a standard of care point of view), and has ended up in the hands of luxury. I'm not saying that massage is NOT a luxury, as it is for many people. But it can be other things as well. I am not saying that it is wrong now. I'm saying that it is different. And I don't think that I fit in that type of setting.
At our old space we were in a different part of town, located within an old medical neighborhood. The buildings that was occupied were old, needed a lot of work which we did ourselves and was kind of homegrown as opposed to professional. Last year, my partner put a lot of time and effort into adding in a salon to our space that was beautiful, but never took off. It was gorgeous to look at, but unused. Almost a physical reminder of financial risk and failure.
This year, on a long shot, my friend told me the LONG SHOT possibility that we would be moving. In my head I also felt that it was a long shot financially and really didn't give it much thought. Until I realized that it was a very real reality. And within weeks, we were moving into a space and a neighborhood that made me feel a bit uncomfortable in the image we would be portraying. And as I'm writing this, I'm making it out to be a thug riddled, police haven. Nope, the opposite. Professional. And right in the middle of a complex that has dermatologists on one side of us, a wonderful salon on the other and a medical center across the way. Professional from all angles. And owned by a corporation that gave us money and services to fit to their image.
Last week, I came in to work to find that all of the rooms had been taken down early at our old place and the joint was tore up. I felt uncomfortable seeing clients in the turmoil, so I cancelled. Thinking, no big. We will be in the new place next week. I'll just reschedule for Friday as we were going to be all of the way in on Wednesday. 2 days to get it together.
I picked up the key to the new place yesterday as I was going to be the only one working today. And I assumed, in which I now take responsibility for not double checking, that all would be well. At least in the fact that the basics would be done and I could accept my clients in a comfortable manner.
After a fitful night of not sleeping, I woke up in a horrible mood. Kind of growly and predatory and caged in. I did not want this change. I was uncomfortable. I wasn't sure of what I was really going into. What should I wear? (Which you know always causes me great joy and frustration when I'm not sure) So, I got up early. Chose kind of professional, trendy clothes. Did my make up and hair. Putting my best self forward into a new situation.
First off, I wasn't too sure where we were actually located. When I got there, our office wasn't marked. Grr. I had to ask the salon where my office was. No big, but grr. Then I walked in to our office. Which is beautiful. And big. And brand new. But at this point, unusable as far as I was concerned for myself and my clients. And what the hell was that smell that made me dizzy? To get to an actual, put together treatment room (that I pay for each month) I had to wade through hallways of our stuff. Where had it all come from? What had they been doing for the past several weeks? It was freezing. There was a sheet over the window in the treatment room, no knobs on the cabinets and no door knob on the treatment room door, so it wouldn't shut and the bright light from the hallway streamed right onto my table, right onto where my client's head would be. I mean, crap, would you pay good hard earned money for that experience? Even if you would, I wouldn't let you. That isn't right.
I was PISSED! My first client drives in from the outskirts of town 30 minutes to see me. She doesn't have a cell. She was on her way and there was no possibility of me keeping our appt. I was almost in tears. I called Chris and my friend Sandy who both said that I needed to get out of there, since I was dizzy, had a headache and didn't know what the smell was. Then, I had to sit in the parking lot and wait for my client to first off, show her where we would have been and to secondly explain why I was canceling her 5 minutes before her appt. should have started. I was so embarassed and mad at myself for not double checking this and hiding my head in the sand on something so important as my business.
She was of course, so kind and understanding. She did say that she wanted a tour. When we first walked in, she said that there was no way she could stay in there for more than 10 minutes. She then explained that the overwhelming fumes were from carpet glue. The bathroom was half tiled. She was impressed with the color scheme and the size. She then said, after seeing crammed full treatment rooms, "wow. looks like they just moved everything and dumped it" with a laugh. I was mortified although she did not mean it in a derogatory way.
I kept apologizing and she kept reassuring me to not worry about it. She also said, that when we were more settled and when the smell was gone, to call her and she would be right in. Trying to reassure me that I wouldn't be losing her as a client because of this. Which could have been a possibility if my clients were normal people and not the totally accepting, flexible women that they are. She said that she was going to have coffee with her sister and driving into town had not been a waste. I almost kissed her feet for being so kind.
I canceled the rest of my day. I have no idea when I can go back in. When that smell will be gone. (Maybe a week or so?) After missing last week, now this week and possibly next week I will be having almost a month of no income from this business. But I keep telling myself that this is a short term problem, these 3 or so week. Think big picture and don't risk your standards.
I'm going to take a break here. I'm getting all pissed all over again. Deep breaths.........
I'll finish this up soon.