As I lay on the table, face nestled firmly in the face rest, I thought about what I had just been shown: my shoulders and arms were pulled forward as if I were being dragged. My left shoulder was closer to my ear then the right and my head hung forward as if I were listening for something. Everything in the top half of my body seemed to hurt although it was the sharp pain in between my shoulder blades that brought me to this small office in Arlington – a recommendation made by my mom.
What did I know of my body? I knew that I was crazy strong like my paternal grandmother with a thick trunk for a waist, broad shoulders, and a sturdy pair of legs (dare I say, my best feature). I had never been a skinny girl, but over the years, I understood that that would work to my advantage since I held many physical jobs lifting heavy boxes or trays filled with dishes. It was easy to take my trusty little boat of a body for granted because, outside of allergies, my body always healed quickly whether it was from injury or disease and I had always been involved with dance or movement.
So, how did I end up with the misshapen body I was shown in the office’s full-length mirror? Pretty much the same way it is for most people: I spent long hours doing homework in school by hand (I submitted my application to Mass Art on glass slides…yah, THAT long ago) before the advent of desktop publishing. When I made the formal leap to become a graphic designer, I signed on for many long hours in front of a computer screen: shoulders and head forward, legs crossed with body slumped to the left so my right hand was free to roll a cursor around with either a little red track button or a hand-held mouse. My efforts to go to the gym were sporadic (mostly pathetic) and my eating habits were a caloric catastrophe.
While I disliked having my youthful immortality tampered with by shoulder pain, it did bring me to the doorstep of what would become my next profession. While I expected to feel relaxed after my massage, I didn’t expect that I would feel “fixed” (this is not considered a great word in the world of massage therapy). But, “fixed” is exactly how I felt in addition to aware and educated. This therapist had taken the time to show me what my lifestyle was doing to me, done what she needed to do to break the cycle of what I had done, and gave me ways to keep myself out of trouble (outside of repeated visits to her office). I was so jazzed by the experience that even though I had just dedicated several years of my life to become a graphic designer, I was contemplating making the leap to start anew and become a massage therapist. THAT was my first brush with the whole idea of wellness.