I Found My True Calling
It was 1996, I was 21 years old, I had left my hometown Pittsburgh, PA to attend the University of Florida. After my second year of undergrad, I was still uncertain as to what I wanted to do with my future. I thought perhaps psychology, for I was keen on helping and listening to others, but it was after coming down to FSM for a massage where I found my true calling.
I was immediately hooked on both the curriculum, and the healing energy that was abundant throughout. After sitting in on a class, I decided to leave UF after that semester and attend FSM. I went home for six months to save up enough for tuition. I worked as a server in a restaurant and did catering jobs on the side. I had no idea that my life was about to be completely changed.
Upon arriving at FSM, I brought insecurities, uncertainties and a bit of emotional distress. There, I was challenged to become stronger, more independent and self-aware. To take a look at what was ailing me, and hindering my progress in life.
It was a process to unravel years of learning and to embrace the person I wanted to become. Awareness precedes change, and FSM provides a journey where you can dive into the depths of your soul to find the moment you didn’t even know you were looking for. An “awe” moment where it all just makes sense! The world, your place in it, who you were, who you’re becoming and how you’re getting there day by day.
I became a lot less fearful of trying new things and developed a deeper sense of self-awareness. I found I was able to be present in the moment! I finally felt like I had a purpose, and that I was not only doing ok, but that I was right where I was supposed to be. Life now had a rhythm, and I was finding my place in it. I became a much stronger, and more independent person after the program. I was able to make my own choices and be proud of them. I went to Thailand to study Thai massage and I traveled to Europe, both on my own. I became fearless and determined because I had indeed changed.
Earlier in my career, I was driven by the freedom and mobility that massage therapy had provided me. I worked in day spas, health clubs, with chiropractors, free-lanced. I went and tried the cruise ship thing, moved out west to San Diego where I worked in a spa at a hotel for six years. But it was five years ago when I decided to move back to my roots, for I discovered that there was an opportunity to bring back to Pittsburgh what I had learned along the way. A way to create the healing space that I envisioned in my earlier years of my career. I wanted to make a difference in my city, the place that I was proud to be from. I opened a day spa, Spa Jema, my vision of peace and serenity, a place where guests can escape and renew.
I basically had to convince myself that it was my future, and I had made up my mind! My family was not accepting, and at the time in 1996 being 21 years old, massage therapy had not yet become mainstream (so to speak). But I did not let this deter my decision, and
I decided to follow my heart!
Follow your heart and passion, the rest will follow. Take care of your body!!! Don’t forget body mechanics. Get massages often. Enjoy the dance and remember you cannot please 100% of your clients!! Patience and Mindfulness.
When I think of my favorite FSM memories there are too many to count! Every day was fascinating. The amazing teachers, the creative structure of the program kept me interested and curious to learn more. The tranquil setting, peaceful outdoor gardens, sauna and jacuzzi, the sweat lodge, the laughter, openness, the sense of belonging, being in the moment, the community, Paul Linn’s teachings and meditation retreats. The centeredness, the love and sharing that allowed for personal growth.
I cannot say enough about FSM. I would not change a thing if I had to do it all over. After 17 years, and many trials and tribulations, I always come back to what I learned there:
Love, acceptance, patience, and mindfulness help along the way in this crazy life.
Thank you for the opportunity. I never wanted to leave there!
Want to know more? Check out Jennifer’s website: www.spajema.com.