Well, this is going to be a quick catch up of the last few months... and historical context...
Back in August, of 2014, I officially signed up to go to massage school. I have been teaching Pilates for the past seven plus years and I was looking for a way to develop professionally as well as add to my repertoire. So massage school seemed to be a logical next place right? Well the truth is that I have added manual stretching and assisted movement into my teaching work quite a bit. It mostly came from understanding how the body moves, doing a ton of anatomy research, as well as workshops that I attended. But massage is a completely different level of work, I thought. None the less, I looked into quite a few different programs, spoke to quite a few different clients, friends, and family members about what they thought about massage. The response was a very positive and reassuring. I heard that a friend and colleague of mine went to one of the schools that I was looking into and had a great experience. So I visited the school and was instantly drawn in. I felt comfortable. I felt that these were my kind of people. This was my kind of learning environment.
In September, I went to the orientation and that week, I had my first class. It was confirmed. I was comfortable. These were my kind of people. It was my kind of learning environment. I was happy, but there was one big problem... something only a few people (no one at the school) knew about me... I had never received a massage before. Other than a chair massage that I was coerced into receiving and some myofascial release done on my leg. It was kind of like the question "Who cuts the barbers hair?" I was the teacher, I stretched clients, I made them feel healthier. Unfortunately, I had quite a few of my own issues that surrounded health and my body.
One of my first memories about being aware of my body comes from my early child hood. My mom and biological father divorced when I was in kindergarten. He was a BIG guy. Of my memories of him, he was probably well over 300lbs. When he left our lives and did not wind up coming back, I wanted to make sure I didn't end up like him. Part of that was physically. I remember sitting down on the floor on my knees, for reading time or something, and seeing my legs squish against each other. I thought that what I was seeing was fat and since I thought that my father was fat, I did not want anyone to think I was. So I did everything I could to not sit on my knees after that. Now the toughest part is that, from the age of seven or eight, I already started to do things out of fear. Fear of being called fat. Fear of being called Pat (I am named after my grandpa and father, they went by Pat), I made sure I was called Patrick. Fear of being anything like him. So let the body issues and emotional issues take hold for the next 15 plus years and you had the right conditions for some big awakenings.
It wasn't until I found Pilates that I started to look at my health from a place of love instead of fear. I was Patrick. A unique individual. I have a life that is mine. I might not be able to choose the actions that happen around me, but I CAN choose my reactions and how I respond. Slowly, I became more aware of the world and of myself. I learned movement. I started to teach movement. I learned more about movement now that I was teaching it. The cycle continued. Then BAM!
I found myself in the middle of a bitter divorce, custody battle, and job hunt. All. At. Once. I had heard that it can be physically (in addition to emotionally and spiritually) taxing on an individual to go through a major change in life. The loss of a loved one, divorce/marital separation, the loss of and/or change of a job, financial worries, are all up towards the top of many "stress scales." I was going through them. All. At. Once.
I am Patrick though. This is nothing that I can't handle. Right? I just needed to keep a level head, do what is "right" and know that everything will turn out just fine. So I did just that. I kept a level head. I worked hard. I tried to find time to play hard. I kept my body healthy. I was able to put myself in a better place. I thought of myself as a Phoenix. I the world and life around me was burning, but I would one day rise. Stronger, healthier, and an all around better person. So I talked, a lot. I spoke with a counselor, great friends, my family, and myself. What did I want? What was I going to get from this? How can this make me a better person? The questions were easy. The answers were a bit tougher. As time went on, I was able to find solace. I was able to find happiness. I was able to find myself.
This still didn't help me find a time for a massage though. I was still working on myself. Putting the pieces that had shifted or fallen, back in their places. So there I am on the second day of school. The teacher says that we are going to give each other massages and we are starting today. Great! I can give a massage to my table partner. Then I can stay awake and listen to the directions again once we switch, so I can solidify my learning. It was going to be perfect!
We go through the first few strokes and I am thinking to myself "This is so natural for me!" After about an hour and a half, we are done and we have to switch. So I lay down and hear the teacher explain the first stroke. I feel my partner do the first stroke a few times. Then he says ok, that is it. WHAT? The other students only got five minutes of practice? Well, I guess since they received the massage first, they could have hear everything and thus did not need to practice it all. NOPE. I find out that I was asleep for the last hour and 15 minutes. My partner said that I passed out so hard that I was completely unresponsive and would twitch every so often. This was very awkward. I am a dad. I have dad ears. If I hear anything move at night, I am up and seeing what it was. Did my daughter fall out of bed? Is her stomach upset? Are her covers still on her? I hear it all. So to think that I laid down and passed out in a room full of people that I have only met two other times, and there was absolutely NO ALCOHOL involved... that concerned me a bit. I mentioned it to the teacher the next class and he explained that the parasympathetic response of receiving a massage can be hugely instrumental in helping people deal with emotional issues, physical issues, and a whole assortment of other issues that one might be dealing with or looking to let go of. Uhhh... Yup! That about nails it on the head pretty well. So I got a big laugh from being able to retell the story to everyone over the next few days. Hannah's response was pretty priceless, since she was instrumental in getting me to start actually considering massage school in the first place.
Now I am three months in and still loving everyday of class. I am loving giving massages to my friends. I am also enjoying the extra dimension it has added to my Pilates teachings. I look at the body differently now. I understand so much more.
As I continue on down my path of life, I am going to be updating this blog with stories and updates on where I am, what I am doing, how school is going, as well as anything else that I want to write about. Feel free to follow along with me. I am looking forward to my next discovery.
Wait... I know what you are asking... "What about everything else going on? Your glasswork, your ropework, this book that you keep talking about writing, your family, your cute dog, your sales work, etc.?" All of that will be in future posts... hold on to your hats, it's going to be a wild ride!