The year was 2005… fresh out of college and already not content with the seemingly homogenous lifestyles and job options in the Washington DC area, feeling unfulfilled but unsure why, feeling like I was locked in a cage during all working hours and hardly had any time to step outside and see the light of day… other than a long commute to work. (I was a bit more dramatic back then…) This was a drastic change from my background of competitive high school cross country, and college marathon training through which I had developed a strong connection to being in unconfined motion.
I decided to take a leap and move to Maui, Hawaii for massage therapy school to explore the possibility of a more fulfilling career, hoping to find a lifestyle that did not involve long hours in a cubicle. I was determined to find a way to “think outside the box.” Friends and family may have initially thought of this as an excuse for a prolonged tropical vacation, but for me it was not an excuse to lay in the sun and drink out of coconuts. It was the beginning of a new career and a great way to gain a new perspective on life. Getting off the plane far far away with nothing but a few bags and a hostel arranged for the night was a memorable moment for me, and the first time I felt truly on my own.
As with many others in the medical/health field, personal experience recovering from an previous injury inspired me to consider a form of wellness therapy as a career to help others through similar setbacks. I approached massage school with a rehab oriented/clinical mindset for correcting injuries. I liked to push my body with sports, and the tight spots in my own body proved to be an excellent testing ground for learning to excel at tissue work. While on Hawaii, I was introduced to yoga and also was able to get in the water and surf regularly which were both excellent ways to feel in my own body the anatomy, biomechanics, and fascial patterns that are relevant to a bodyworker's foundational knowledge of tissue work.
After massage school, the decision to leave Maui was a difficult one, but I ultimately decided to head back to my hometown, where I quickly felt unsettled once again. In Maui, I would have been most likely to work at a resort doing massage therapy, which did sound splendid to stick around and surf in the sunshine, but also sounded like stalling my career.
To define myself as a sports and rehab oriented therapist, and to learn the technique that had helped me with previous injuries, I signed up for a course in Active Release Technique (ART) which brought me to Portland, OR. Upon visiting, for a long weekend, I found Portland to be a great hub for alternative medicine. With OHSU, chiropractic, naturopathic, and oriental medicine schools all in one area, and with more support and understanding for massage as a therapeutic intervention, Portland was a great place to feel inspired and figure out what to do next. Also, the proximity of the mountain and the ocean, made Portland a great place to play in the great outdoors.
In 2008, I packed up my little car and drove across the country to arrive in Portland, OR. The surfboards on top of my car got some funny looks while traveling through the middle of the country. And looking back, I could have done more planning for the move, but Northern Virginia was feeling like a stale blast from the past, and I was more than ready for the next chapter of my journey.
In Portland, after getting established, I found Nike World Headquarters and worked out of their Bo Jackson Wellness Center on campus for a few years. My experience at Nike was great and helped me develop some ties to Track & Field and Surf events, and helped me make the decision to pursue chiropractic as a way to enhance my hands-on and diagnostic skills.
In 2013, I enrolled at University of Western States for a concurrent program in Chiropractic and Sports Medicine. Soft tissue work is very effective for many issues, but sometimes does not entirely resolve the issue. From this program I hoped to develop assessment and diagnosis skills, broaden my knowledge and have more tools to help people stay healthy. The health and wellness field is not an exact science, there are a lot of theories out there and some of them conflict with each other. Sprinting and Surfing are great activities to put those theories to the test and see which theories actually work, and which ones just sound good in a textbook. This is an ongoing process and the answers we discover usually lead to more in-depth questions. Physiotherapy of any kind is a great career for one with a curious mind.