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Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, January/February 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Tell us about a specific person who has influenced your bodywork career and why.

When I was 9 years old, my grandmother passed away. She and my grandfather had been married for 50 years, and he took her passing really hard. For a week, he could not sleep or eat. My aunt, who at the time was a practicing massage therapist, gave him a one-hour massage. That was when his body relaxed enough for him to start sleeping. From that point on, I realized what the power of touch can do to help someone heal. That is what made me want to be a massage therapist.

Fran Johnson
Statesboro, Georgia

Robert King. He is an enthusiastic, personable, and wonderful motivator for massage therapists. I took one of his workshops and was very impressed. His knowledge and humility are outstanding and he is an excellent teacher.

Jody Hutchinson
Pacific Grove, California

One of the most influential people in my bodywork career was my first boss, Joel Tull. My initial interview with him almost 15 years ago occurred while I was still in school. And, as I have told him, it was not the most pleasant experience of my career ... in fact, at the time it seemed like a complete disaster. However, that experience totally shaped my work for the better. Why? Because he gave me honest (although somewhat critical) feedback about my techniques and skills. He let me know what I needed to work on and where I could make improvements. Then after he hired me, he tutored me on those same areas and techniques until I perfected them.
At the time of the interview, I was crushed and thought I had entered the wrong profession. Later, looking back on it, I realize that Joel actually gave me a gift and helped me to always want to make my work, my business, and the massage profession the best they could and can be. He is still a colleague, mentor, and friend to this day.

Felicia Brown
Greensboro, North Carolina

My bodywork career has been profoundly influenced by Suzanne P. Reese. She has unequivocal care and concern for all: for the youngest, the least understood, the unwanted. She has passion and conviction that all have the inalienable right to nurturing touch, to feel safe, and to be honored and respected. Her level of compassion and her gift for always speaking positively is awe-inspiring. However, I don't want to be like Suzanne, I want to be me! We all have our talents and we all have a mark to make on the world. I appreciate and value her influence on my life and my work.

Jessica Shenefield
Snow Camp, North Carolina

I grew up seeing my grandmother and grandfather performing their style of massage when someone was sick. They utilized herbal medicine as well as massage to "heal" the people who came to them. As I got older, these practices were considered the old way of natural medicine. My grandparents were of Native-American decent from Arizona. I married, had children, and quickly became disillusioned with the practices of modern medicine, which, in my opinion, do not get to the root of the illness and create more imbalances within the body. I decided I would learn massage therapy and carry on a natural tradition for the health of my family and my clients. I was very fortunate to find a massage therapy school in Joplin, Missouri, that fit my needs. Now, I have a thriving massage therapy business and wonderful clients who are now on the road to better health. I will take the "old way" any day. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa.

Dianne Overton
Carthage, Messouri

I would have to say that there are a lot of people who have influenced my bodywork career. But the one person who I can always count on and is always the first person to come to mind is Laura Charlton. She was the one who I felt really took me under her wing from the first day I walked through the doors of my school.
She has a way of really seeing people and leading them to be the exceptional [people] she knows we are. She takes her career seriously, not only in the classroom, but at home, and in the field as well. Having such an appreciation for life and the human experience itself, she has had numerous jobs that can be linked to helping and caring for someone else. I took an intro to infant massage [class] with her before my first quarter of school was even over and, at the time, I had no idea what an impact that class would have on my personal life and my career. Thanks to the brief knowledge she bestowed on me, I am on my way to being ... an advocate and teacher for parents and their premature and newborn babies. She is the one person I know I can call if ever I need anything. I am privileged to have the opportunity to have come to know this awe-inspiring woman and the chance to be her student once again.

Michelle Rhodes
Corrales, New Mexico

Five years ago, I was a physically burned-out critical care nurse. My massage therapist referred me to a chiropractor for additional care. Meeting Dr. B. was a life-changing experience for me. His holistic approach to me as a person, and especially his healing, caring touch was just what I needed. It didn't take me long to realize that what I wanted to do with the rest of my working life was to touch people in this way. So I have been on a journey of learning to take better care of myself and moving from the high-tech world of critical care nursing to the high-touch world of massage therapy. Along the way, Dr. B. has been available as a mentor and a role model in ways that have made me a better therapist and a better businesswoman. Thanks so much, Dr. B.!

Laura Sutherland
Paradise, California




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