To the Moon and Back

By Susan Coffey
[Mind of an MT]

I was 38 years old when I enrolled in massage school. At the time, I was working at a private psychiatric hospital. I was a single mom with three kids who had begun a journey of self-discovery. In the process, I found reiki. Before long, I was surrounded by smart, introspective, wine-drinking artists who, ultimately, set me on a life-changing path.
The first time I walked into the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I felt like I was home. I didn’t have any rational thoughts on why I felt this way. I just did. And for the next two years, I became immersed in a community of like-minded people who would become as important to me as my birth family. It is rare, I think, to find an educational setting and a career that carries with it a true sense of belonging. What I didn’t know was that my life would forever change, and I was about to embark on a journey that would stretch my sense of self to places I never imagined.  

Every Twist and Turn
Years have passed—16 to be exact. I am not the same person I was then. My life has changed not once, but countless times. That’s the way life is. Children grow up and begin their own lives. They have children. I am now Nana. Parents get older and oftentimes require care before they pass on from this life. I am no longer a daughter. Relationships end. I am no longer a wife. And we learn to be alone. Relationships begin, and we start over. People come and go. We navigate through this life knowing that change is inevitable, and it’s somehow easier with less resistance.
Throughout the 16 years of change, massage has been my constant. Without a crystal ball, I couldn’t have known that massage therapy would shift and mold perfectly into my life at every corner. My sweet massage career was right there to weather every twist and turn. Part time, full time, self-employed, employee, subcontractor—I have worked in every capacity. I have taught, mentored, and managed a student clinic. I have practiced reiki, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, relaxation massage, sports massage, myofascial release, oncology massage, and hospice massage. And still, there are literally thousands of other possibilities left to learn.
The field of massage is an endless reservoir for the insatiable learner. It allows us to explore new modalities, to continuously grow and learn, and to define and redefine ourselves whenever we feel complacent or when our responsibilities require a new course of action. My journey has changed direction many times since it began. I am blessed. I have loved my job, in all of its forms, every day. Who knows what the future holds? In this amazing, boundless field, anything is possible and all of it is beautiful.
If you are just graduating from massage school, thank your lucky stars. For you are only beginning a journey that allows you freedom and creativity and endless ways to explore who you are and who you will become. And if you, like me, have been around for a minute, keep dreaming, keep growing, and take this beautiful career to the moon and back.

Susan Coffey has a private practice in Watertown, Massachusetts, and also works for Care Dimensions (formerly Hospice North Shore). She teaches continuing education classes, including hospice massage, and all levels of reiki. Visit to learn more about her work.