One of the questions I’ve been asked more frequently than most is how I came to be a massage therapist. Sometimes the question is phrased in less than eloquent terms, ie. “What makes you want to touch sweaty, hairy people all day?” “You actually like touching people you don’t even know?” Sometimes, the question is more just a curiosity piece; “How did you decide you wanted to be a massage therapist?” “Did you always know you’d own your own business doing massage?” This is one of my favorite questions but the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It requires a bit of background and potentially a smidge of oversharing.
When I graduated high school in 2009, I had no idea what path my life would take. I attended Allen Community College on a full ride theater scholarship for my writing abilities. I even was awarded for a one act I wrote. I had plans of moving to NY before a trauma in 2010 that left me feeling vulnerable and much less capable of the move than I had been before. So I stayed in the “safety” of my small community. I worked mainly as a waitress although I did try the candy factory life. (Not for me) My next venture consisted of attempting to join the Navy, circa 2011. I took the ASVABS where I scored fairly well and made it to the MEPS where my knee was cleared for service. Then my mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and I was terrified of leaving for fear I wouldn’t get to say goodbye if I found myself overseas. So I stayed and as of this writing in 2019 my mom is still fighting and has been chemo free for over a year, she was given 6-12 months. I must get my fighting spirit from her.
In 2012, I met my now ex-husband, we dated for about a year and 2 months before I found myself pregnant with our daughter Reason Rayne Hannum. We had a volatile relationship before the pregnancy and things didn’t exactly improve during it. I was working at Walmart and I ended up stopping working about 5 months into my pregnancy due to the heavy lifting I did at work and my fear of another loss as I had a miscarriage a month and half prior to my pregnancy with my daughter. After the birth of Reason I stayed at home to care for her and devoted myself fully to motherhood. I felt I had found my calling in nurturing and caring for this precious little girl. I read stories to her daily and was very much a “crunchy” mom. We had mommy baby dance time and I just relished in my role as her mother. Like many things in my life, things didn’t exactly go as planned and tragically, Reason passed in her sleep on Nov. 11th 2014 at 4 months 21 days old.
In our grief, we decided the best course of action was to move to Florida, my mother, whom I love dearly, thought it would be best for us to be wed before we uprooted our entire lives and left our support system to move half-way across the country to be near his parents. Because grief makes you do crazy things, I asked him to marry me in January of 2015. We were married on March 21st and left for Florida in April. Things were not great in Florida. We lived in a Camper for a year and a half and me and his father had a fairly volatile relationship. It turns out I’m far too liberal, too much of a feminist and those people were not my tribe. I struggled with working after my loss. About 6 months after being in Florida I was working at Dollar General and as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. I had to quit the job at Dollar General due to PTSD flashbacks.
So here I was, a dishwasher, getting paid under the table, barely making enough to get by, living in camper and surrounded by people who didn’t understand me. Then, in December, I was “laid-off” through a text message. They had hired their nephew and no longer had a place for me. I remember calling my mom feeling completely crushed and like a failure. I couldn’t even wash dishes well enough to keep that job. She mentioned going back to school, I think she said cosmetology. I’m not a hair and make up type of person but it got me thinking. I remembered rubbing my moms back for her as a kid, giving my grandmothers hand and feet massages. The joy it brought them; to get that touch and relief. So I started thinking and googling how to make this a reality. I found two schools that seemed to be a reasonable enough drive for me to attend classes. Florida School of Massage in Gainesville, FL and Alpha School of Massage in Jacksonville, FL. Alpha School of Massage offered tuition free education and that definitely seemed appealing to an unemployed, broke and desperate young woman like myself.
I never made it to Alpha School of Massage. Instead the moment I walked into the lobby of Florida School of Massage this absolute feeling of home washed over me. This sense of belonging and purpose I hadn’t felt since the last time I held my baby girl in my arms. I knew beyond knowing that this was where I belonged. We went through the tour and every inch of my body was absolutely buzzing. We walked the grounds and picked fresh kumquats off the trees. I was absolutely blown away by the community of the place, the magic that existed there. This tiny oasis, I knew I’d heal here, I knew I’d grow and learn in ways I didn’t realize were possible. I got my paperwork and me and my mother-in-law headed back to White Springs where we faced the challenge of convincing my husband and father-in-law that this would be a good thing for me and our future.
I remember the conversations that took place around that decision, a decision that should have been mine and my spouses alone. It wasn’t. Nothing during that time was just me and him. It was always what would his parents think, especially his dad. I had my previous failures thrown in my face, “You tried to join the Navy remember? That didn’t work out, what about the “business” you started, (MLM) that didn’t work out.” “We just don’t want you to do this and then nothing come of it, like everything else.” I felt so doubted, so crushed and yet so determined to prove them wrong. To prove my previous “failures” would not be repeated to prove that I could and I would make this a reality.
I applied for the program and for work study as well as a scholarship in addition to taking out student loans. I applied for jobs while I waited for school to start in May. Not one of the places I applied to called me. So I knew the next six months would be a struggle and I was determined to devote myself fully to my education and to my personal growth. Every morning for six months I woke up at 6 am, got ready for the day and dropped my husband off an hour early at work, we only had 1 car and class started at 8 an hour from where we lived. Some days I was able to get a ride but they proved unreliable so I drove myself. I do appreciate the sacrifice my husband made during that time. Sitting outside his job for an hour more than he had to and sometimes waiting for me after work when I had clinicals or extracurricular classes. I wasn’t working and we were still living in a camper throughout my entire time attending school. I never missed a single day, and there were days I should have missed. The day after a disgruntled neighbor tried to burn our camper down for instance. I preserved and pressed on. I learned so much in that time. Not only the strokes needed to perform the job but how to be present for another person, how to recognize my own limits and the energy exchange that takes place between people, not only during a session but in our everyday lives. The things Florida School of Massage taught me are so invaluable to me not only as a therapist but as a person.
The end of the program came fast, I graduated Nov. 11th 2016, two years to the day of my daughters death. Neither my husband nor his parents came to see me graduate. My mom did though, my mom and my pregnant sister, Caressa drove all the way from Kansas to celebrate my accomplishments. My dad and his soon-to-be wife came as well. I went to eat with my dad and met my mom back at the camper. We had a candle lighting for Reason and then I drove home with my mom for Thanksgiving. Things were very rocky in my marriage during that entire time. We had already discussed divorce but decided maybe things could be reconciled (spoiler, they couldn’t). I wasn’t the same girl I was before school. I found my voice and I realized I couldn’t live a life where I felt tiny and shut down all the time. I found work as a massage therapist within a month of passing my MBLEX. I worked there from Decemeber 2016 to June 2017. During that time I saved the money I needed to leave and got us into a trailer, major upgrade from the camper. I earned a scholarship for 10 weeks of additional massage training. After the training, I left, I packed my things while he was at work and my grandparents came down from Kansas. I left a note and that was mostly the end of it. I realized that my safety was more important than a face-to-face situation.
I got back home around the first of July and opened Savannah Rose Moblie Massage the following week. Now I’m in my second year of being a Business Owner and Massage Therapist. There were so many times that I was scared I wouldn’t make it, that I would fail as others had told me and as history had shown me. I haven’t failed and I won’t.
The massage therapist path chose me. During the darkest and scariest times of my life it was this beautiful teacher that showed me my value when I struggled to see it in myself. Through the gift of massage I am able to pass the healing I received to others. I am able to be present and understanding of those whom I come into contact with through my work. Muscles hold memories and tension and fear, allowing a massage therapist to access that part of yourself can be an incredibly vulnerable process. I am able to meet the body wherever it is at on this journey and help relieve some of that in a very real way. Yes, massage is great for sore and tender muscles, chronic holding patterns and pain and it’s so much more than that. It’s a massage therapist and client working together to find healing for them, whether that healing be on the mind, body or spirit level.
Book with me today, and allow me to assist you on your own healing journey.