I would look back over my life and work history and see a series of lateral leaps. A linear timeline that showed me hopping on to the next point as soon as I was a little bit bored, a little too tired of the office politics, or something a little more interesting came along.
My first massage therapy practice was a six-year gig in Connecticut, starting when I was 19 and ending when I was 25. I ended that practice because I wanted to go back to school, to do the sensible college education thing and discover something new with my brain. Within my practice, I had been feeling the limitations of my own education and knowledge. A sense of the gaps in such a specialized trade education.
When I moved to Portland, Oregon and began work toward my undergraduate degree at Marylhurst University, I learned the six years of my work as a massage therapist and running my own business meant nothing to potential employers and the general work force. If I wanted to give other jobs a try, I was going to be starting at zero, at entry level positions and minimum wage.
When my education and references began to accumulate and suggest some small degree of knowledge and skill, I explored other roles.
I worked as a Caregiver at an assisted living facility.
I worked as a Residential Skills Specialist at a residential treatment center for teenage girls.
I worked as an Educational Assistant in special education classrooms, primarily with students with autism and other communication disorders.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, my own blend of studies in human communication, literature, writing, and cultural studies. A trajectory that was, in many ways, an excuse to dabble in studies and thought without being too focused on a particular career outcome.
I worked as an Admin Assistant and Events Coordinator at a non-profit organization focused on intercultural communication.
I worked as a Patient Care Coordinator and Front Office Coordinator at a medical imaging office.
And then, I decided to focus on my writing, specifically on my poetry.
And in a turn that I had not expected, it was the serious focus on writing the process of completing on MFA in Creative Writing that brought me back to working with the body. Nearly everything I wrote had a deep connection to a physical, sensory experience of the world. I had a glimpse that I knew something, that I had a grasp on specific slice of understanding that was particular, specialized, and a space of ongoing study that I would never tire of.
Two years ago, when I re-started my massage practice, I wrestled with the question of whether I was again beginning at zero or whether I could do this in such a way that my work was not separate from these other experiences, but informed by it.
This year, for the first time, I've started to hone in on a clear sense of not just the lateral linearity of my progression but also the winding turns that have led me to a deeper, layered quality of knowledge.
My continuous striving for a breadth of knowledge ultimately created the supportive structure I needed for the depths of study that I previously feared myself incapable of.
After my recent celebration of two years in business, I've been contemplating my goals for this third year. I've never felt more clear about the work I am doing or more comfortable with the idea that my work and my entire relationship with the world is an evolving and continuous process.