On Finding Focus: Part II

In retrospect, it’s not so surprising that I started to work with youth again before getting a gig as a Massage Therapist. In addition to actively looking for jobs, I knew it would be in my best interest to maintain profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Care.com so that folks could also look for me. After months of searching, I got a message from a father of twins! He and his family recently moved from the Boston area to Chicago, and were looking for a part-time nanny to help out with the transition.

File_001My first meeting with the father and mother was very chill, and relaxed. We enjoyed tea and biscuits while getting to know each other. About a week or so later when I met their adorable fraternal twins I knew this was a family I wanted to work for. The parents were both advocates of bodywork, and one of the twins actually had to receive Craniosacral work when he was a few weeks old. They were also very supportive and understanding that I would keep up my search for massage therapy work. Their willingness to work with me, of course, made me so pumped to work for them, and to support their family in any way I could.

Working with this family, and getting to see the twins develop taught me so much about community, and health. Parenting another person’s child can be intimidating, but they led such fine examples of how to stay conscious through the process. And their focus on clean, whole, and healthy foods was just brilliant! I could see the impact that good nutrition had in their lives. I feel really lucky to have worked with this family for over two years. We still keep in touch through letters, and I consider all of them to be great friends.

When the twins turned 15 months old is about the time that I got a call back from a Chiropractor looking for a massage therapist at her downtown office in the Chicago Loop. Nervous does not begin to describe how I felt.  The doc invited me in for an interview, followed by practical. I had been working on my skills with family and friends since graduating, and my main weakness was pressure—I needed more of it.

*Side note: A simple application of physics in massage therapy, or any bodywork modality, can determine the amount of pressure the practitioner is able to provide. In short, a practitioner’s height should be relative to the height of the table, as well as the size of the patient. A table set too high or too low will off-set joint alignment, thus obstructing the provision of proper technique.  The correct angle makes all the difference, because it sets you up well for optimal form and function.

So I practiced and practiced. Testing table height, and technique, until I felt comfortable with the whole process. The day of my interview was fairly relaxed. The interview went really well, and I felt kind of at home in the office space. The nervous energy that I once had around massaging people, although still present, was not nearly as intense. Besides, I was massage my potential boss. It couldn’t get more nerve-wrecking than that, right!? I settled into a nice flow about mid-way through, vibing out with the special mix I made for the session featuring some of my favorite tunes from Feist, and Cat Power. I even got a little fancy with some Lomi Lomi style using my forearms and elbow. Ha!

During my time with the doc, and my colleagues, I learned a ton about the healthcare system, about the human body, and ultimately about myself. I gained experience in other techniques like Shiatsu, Cupping and Guasha. The doc was also a great teacher, as she showed me how to be more open and flexible in the work environment. She is one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, in part, because she fostered a creative learning environment. Her awesomeness extends beyond the clinic, and she’s actually become a good friend.

The uphill climb from non-profit professional to health care practitioner has been an interesting one. And I’m still on this journey. The one consistent thing through all of this has been about sustaining connection. I’ve tried to do that in this space through what I share, and the subjects I address. I’ve definitely grown a lot since I started this blog. Overall, I think blogging has helped me understand and embrace how online spaces can be utilized to unite people. This is a lesson that I know will prove to be of paramount importance as I continue to develop as an artist, activist, and healer in the medical community.

Thanks so much for letting me share!

xx, Christian

 

*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. You can check out Part I here. Stay tuned for Part III next month! If you like this feature, you may also enjoy reading more in Life and Wellness.

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