When I started blogging in 2011, I had a very distinct purpose. At the time I was living in Chicago, about to graduate from massage therapy school, and needed to create a website for my future business. Back then, creating an online presence for your business was already standard protocol. Plus, I figured that in order to pay the bills and my student loans, I needed to find a solution that was fast, affordable, and easy to navigate.
As I was studying hard for my licensing exam, and finishing up coursework, I found out that the nonprofit group home I was working for had to close its doors after over 15 years of operation.I was devastated. Not only would I have to figure out what to do, but the youth whom I had come to know and love would all have to be placed in different group homes—some stayed local, while others were placed in suburban areas away from everything and everyone they knew.
Out of work and a little sad, I just kept working on my studies. As soon as I passed the exam I focused my energy on resume writing, and going on interviews. I was ready to get back to work after 3 months of no income, but it wasn’t that easy. While most massage studios were interested to speak with me about my diverse and well-rounded work experience, not one of them actually intended to hire me. If fact one studio I really wanted to work for flat out told me that most places only hire therapists with at least one year experience. I was grateful to hear the truth, but stumped on how to find a solution. How could I gain a full years worth of massage work, presumably without pay, and make ends meet? I didn’t know the answer at the time, so I went back to the thing that I did know: volunteering.
I love volunteer work because it allows me to connect with people on deep levels, while providing accessible services. In fact, it’s how I became a board member at a beloved youth leadership organization in downtown Chicago. As a new massage therapist, I quickly realized that going back to volunteering was the perfect way for me to start my new career. I was able to connect with a local NPO focused on prison abolition and youth leadership. We were granted access into two detention centers for incarcerated youth where we provided self-care services for young women including massage, nails, hair, and arts and crafts. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Around this time, I also started to post more on my blog, mostly poems and photography. Even though I wasn’t making any money at the time, I felt a great sense of abundance, and hope. I was serving my community through health education, while utilizing my creativity.
The challenges we encounter during transitional moments can clue us in the areas of our life where there is room for growth. In fact, today being the First Quarter Moon is a great time to step back and reflect.
I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the challenges that you face around making ends meet, and ensuring your self care? Feel free to share 2-3 of your best solutions for integrating work and wellness in the comments below.
*On Finding Focus is a three-part Feature story about my journey from nonprofit to natural medicine. Each part includes a specific question to help me get a better sense of what your needs are as a member of this community. Stay tuned for Part II next month. If you like this feature, you may also enjoy reading more in Life and Wellness.