This seems to be the #1 most often asked question I've been getting lately when friends find out I'm in massage school. After all, at first glance it does seem like a departure for me, a 30+ year career disc jockey! But in the end, it turns out it's not. I'll tell you how in a moment. For anyone interested, though, here's the answer to that question, which starts out with some amazing women I'm lucky to have in my life.
Sherry is part of my sci-fi group and one of my best friends. She's an amazing cook, has a wicked sense of humor and us a real fighter; she gave us all a scare not long ago, undergoing treatment for cancer. And, being Sherry, she kicked its ass. She even got her hair back! Sherry also has had on again/off again pain in her lower back and shoulders. Even before becoming a massage therapist occurred to me, I was known among my group as the go-to guy for back rubs. I could usually get pretty good results, but Sherry was beyond the reach of my meager, if well-meaning, powers. So now you have "the set-up".
Then, around the beginning of August of 2015, another amazing woman I know unknowingly changed my world. I met Samantha through another social group, DAM (Detroit Atheist Meetup). She's a licensed, practicing LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist). She's also had more than her fair share of dramatic upsets in her life, and at that point had posted a message on Facebook explaining her need for some help. To paraphrase, she explained that rather than bothering friends and family for loans or doing some GoFundMe type campaign, she was just going to offer a great deal on an hour massage to her friends. Being just days away from Sherry's birthday, I instantly thought, "What a great gift idea!" So, after checking with Sherry that such a gift wouldn't be weird with her, I called Samantha and set up the appointment. "Hey, isn't it YOUR birthday, too", Samantha asked? Yes, busted (Sherry and I were born 4 days apart). Wanting to help her out, I said, "Okay, make it two." So, for the first time in my then 58 years on the planet, I received my first massage.
I'd always considered massage sort of "fru-fru" -- something rich people did on cruise ships -- and nothing I'd ever see myself doing. Needless to say, this was far outside of my usual comfort zone. But I wanted to help out Sherry, and I also wanted to help Samantha, so this is how I found myself on a massage table in my BFF's livingroom. At the end of the session, she asked me, "So, what do you think?" I replied, "I think I'm an idiot for not doing this a LONG time ago. I feel fantastic!" Knowing that I do back rubs, she said, "If you want to do this again, I can show you some cool things you can do for your back rubs." Figuring she's just being a great self-promoter, I said I'd think about it.
The next morning, my back felt normal. This was a surprise; for about the past three decades, I've had this back condition. Sometimes I would do something -- move the wrong way or pick up something incorrectly -- or I'd simply feel it coming on for a few days, and then I'd have a REALLY bad day of near immobilizing pain. Once started, it has always run its course. Prior to my massage, I felt the familiar signs that a bad day was coming. For the first time, it didn't run its course; Samantha had stopped it. I quickly made another appointment.
During the next massage, she narrated, explaining everything she was doing and why she was doing it, and I was completely fascinated. I had no idea that massage could be so therapeutic! I wasn't grasping some of the things she said, as I was on my face at the time. "It would be easier to show you if we had a third person," she suggested... which led to my bringing a friend (another one of my back rub victims) and a three-hour session where Samantha filled my head to bursting with techniques and methods. Again, I geeked out, totally fascinated. I decided that I MUST learn everything about this! I began to investigate all of the various massage schools in the area. Some $12,000.00 later, I enrolled at Irene's Myomassology Institute in June of 2016.
Over the months before school started, Samantha continued to mentor me from time to time. I've also had some truly crazy runs of luck! For instance, aside from meeting Samantha and this new lightbulb moment literally changing the course of my life, I also have a long-time friend who once tried massage school, but ended up dropping out for health reasons. When he found out I had enrolled, he offered me his table and all of his massage gear. I bought them wanting to help out another buddy, paying more than I thought it shoudl cost. Looking online, however, I quickly saw that I had gotten the deal of a lifetime! A top-notch table with all the gear for a relative pittance! I'd also found a decent massage chair for a relative song on the internet. The day I arrived for my first class at Irene's, I had all of the equipment I needed. (I also later bought a back-up table dirt cheap from a Craigslist ad, which turned out to be the mother of a classmate!) AND I had almost 70 hours of massage under my belt, unofficially, of course.
Needless to say, this has given me a tremendous "leg up"!
As if all of that weren't lucky enough, I also was in need of some cheaper transportation. Driving to Southfield every day in my DJ truck was extremely expensive, to say the least! But a new, or even decent used car was out of the question. That is, until a mutual friend blasted on social media that he was donating his car to charity. I had seen it before - a nice SUV - and asked him why. He said that due to the high mileage, his dealership wouldn't give him anything for it, so he thought a $500.00 tax credit would be fine. I asked him if I could take a look at it. Mystified that I would be interested, he agreed. I grabbed a buddy of mine who is mechanically inclined and we drove out to inspect the vehicle. After about 15 minutes, his words to me were: "Stu, you would be stupid not to buy this." So I did.
It did need some repairs. We ordered the parts online and my buddy did them all. It came to less than $300.00. Crazy luck, right? Now I've got a more economical way to drive to/from school, which also holds a massage table as if it were made for it.
As I mentioned at the outset, my pursuit of a career in massage therapy isn't all that much of a departure when you really think about it. My DJ career, after all, is about making people feel better and forget about their troubles for a while. My writing pursuits often do the same, and/or help to provide lasting benefits to the lives of my readers. Aren't these things what massage therapy does? The only difference is that I'm doing it one-on-one, rather than a lot of people at once. And that's just fine with me. That is my answer to "why massage?" I can't think of a good reason why not!
To you, my reader, a safe, happy, prosperous and healthy 2017!