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If you missed the beginning, or want a refresher, scroll down, or click here.  We’re just going to continue where we left off.

One more year went by and I continued to wander.  I not only continued with the shamanism, but I got into herbalism, and I’d gone to a gong bath, and a biodynamic therapist, and a Chinese five element healer, and a qi healer.  I loved them all (well, except for maybe the gong bath; that wasn’t my thing), but I still couldn’t picture myself as any of these practitioners.  They were too weird.  Or they sang a lot (I don’t sing unless I’m alone).  Or they were super silent and subtle.  Or they wore horrible clothes.  For one reason or another, none of them struck a chord.  And as I was hiking with my friend, Ruthie, we’re discussing this.  I said that I’d like to continue on this journey of self-discovery and healing, but I’m looking to try something new.  And Ruthie, being the genius she is, mentions the Rolf Institute.  “You know it’s in Boulder, right?  And you can get sessions from a student for super cheap as part of the student training.”

Huh?  How had I missed the fact that the Rolf Institute was in Boulder while I lived there for 4 1/2 years?  No, I didn’t know.  But I was still nervous, you know, with the whole pain thing.  But I said, “Well, I’ll do it, if you do.”  I’d tried so many things by now, I figured it couldn’t be worse than getting whacked with crone’s wort (yeah, that happened).  So Ruthie calls me the next day, after she’s called the Rolf Institute to see when their next clinic is.  “They had 2 spots left in the clinic that starts next week.”  Well, this looks like a sign for the universe, so I say, “you told ‘em we’d take ‘em, right?”  And again, Ruthie’s wisdom won out, so she says, “of course!”  And on a Tuesday evening, she and I head up to Boulder for our “orientation.”  We go into this office building complex out in Gunbarrel and sit in rows of chairs arranged in a semi-circle.

After a brief introduction by a bubbly 20-something, the lead instructor for the class gets up to talk.  He’s not wearing shoes.  Who doesn’t wear shoes when they’re talking in front of a 30 strangers!?  Ray McCall, that’s who.  Rolfer and SourcePoint Therapist extraordinaire.  But I don’t know this yet.  All I know is that he says something along the lines of, “People always ask me if Rolfing’s going to help their shoulder, or their knee, or if it’s going to make them taller.  And I don’t know.  I can’t tell you if Rolfing’s going to help any of those things.  What I can tell you is that Rolfing will make you more you.”  And I was hooked.  That’s all I needed.  I hadn’t even met my student Rolfer.  I didn’t care.  I wanted to be more me.  I wanted everyone else to be more them.  I thought that was the way to achieve world peace.  Truth be told, I still think that.

And at the same time, my logical, physicist brain was saying, “Slow the f*@k down, Theresa!  Give it a try before you go doing anything crazy.”   So two days later I showed up for my first session of the 10-series.  I can’t remember if my Rolfer worked on my right side or my left first, but when she was done with that first side she asked me to take a breathe and compare the difference side to side.  It was magical!  I felt like one lung was 4 times the size of the other!  I felt like everyone in the room was probably laughing at me because I looked so funny and unbalanced with one side all inflated and one side all flat and lifeless.  I felt like I couldn’t wait for her to do the other side!  And, I was still waiting for that dreaded pain I’d been expecting.  Needless to say, I loved Rolfing.  And I now wanted to be a Rolfer.  One session in.  I told myself to wait until the end of the 10-series before making any rash, life-changing decisions.

The second session was better than the first.  My Rolfer worked on my feet and lower legs and while it was a little intense, I’d had worse pain from massages.  Then, I sat up and put my feet on the floor, and the strangest thing happened.  I looked down and got really confused.  Those weren’t my feet there below my legs.  No really.  I knew what my feet looked like and those weren’t my feet.  Strange.  And when I stood up…oh wow.  I felt so…stable.  Not that I’d felt wobbly before.  But comparatively, I might as well have been walking on stilts, blindfolded before this.  I felt like I could stand for days and walk for miles and miles and miles.  I just felt so strong and stable and balanced and grounded.  This was it.  This was what I’d been looking for all those years.  It was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down and the angels started singing and playing their harps while birds were chirping in the background.  Once again, I reminded myself not to do anything drastic before finishing the 10-series.

I made it to the 7th session before I walked in the admissions counselor’s office and asked, “what do I need to do to come to school here?”  (Convenient that it was just around the corner from my Rolfer’s “office,” eh?)  She told me that the next introductory class they had was full, but that she’d put me on the list for the class starting in 4 months.  She gave me the application material and told me to get it back to her when I had a chance.  The next day I got a phone call from said admissions counselor, “Hey Theresa, I’m calling because we just had someone drop out of the class that starts next month.  Do you want that spot?”  I hesitated for about 4 nanoseconds before practically screaming at the poor woman, “YES!”  We managed to finish out the conversation and I got off the phone.  Then, I clearly remember jumping around my kitchen and yelling and jumping some more.  Then more yelling and more jumping.  Then calling some friends and not understanding why they weren’t yelling and jumping with me (they would’ve, but they were at work).

I was gonna be a Rolfer!!!!

And the rest is pretty boring, I guess.  I went to class.  On the first day, we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and for the first time in my life I felt like I was really home.  This was my family.  I had to get up at 5:30 every morning for class (at the time my regular hour of waking was 11am) and I woke up every morning with a smile because I got to go learn more about Rolfing.  I studied and did homework and practiced on anyone who would let me.  I went to lots more class.  I practiced a bunch more.  And slowly, but surely, I became a Rolfer.  On April 30, 2010, I graduated as a Certified Rolfer from the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.  I was crying and smiling and crying and smiling some more.  It was incredibly difficult and at the same time the most natural thing in the world.  I never for one second doubted that I was on the right path.  Finally.

So that’s it.  That’s how it happened.  Now you know.

As promised, this week we’re going to continue with the commonly asked question of “How did you get into this?”  Which is probably my favorite question, but it takes a little while to answer it.  So get yourself a mug of tea and settle in.  We’re going all the way back to the mid nineties.

Once upon a time, as a high school student, I started getting interested in alternative medicine.  I’m not really sure where this interest cam from, although my parents’ distrust of medical doctors may have played a part.  Then again, my brother’s a nurse, so it could have gone either way I suppose.  Regardless, from a fairly early age I struggled to accept the “something hurts, take a pill” view of healing.  And as the obsessive-compulsive, overly passionate, eager reader nerd that I am, I dove into every book I could get my hands on about alternative methods of healing.  I read about ayurveda and reflexology.  I learned about nutritional deficiencies and acupuncture.  I read about yoga and macrobiotics.  And, because I was a pompous know-it-all I started lecturing everyone about whatever I’d learned that week.  My volleyball coach was obviously suffering from a vitamin C deficiency.  If only my friend with eczema would start eating flax seed all his problems would go away.  My own bruises were treated by applying vitamin E.  Of course, I didn’t stop eating flammin’ hot cheetos and drinking cherry coke every afternoon.  Do what I say, not what I do.  I’m sure I was a real joy to spend time with.

Anyway.  With the arrogance only a teenager can posses, I decided I would grow up to be the best doctor in the world.  I was also planning to be an astronaut (the first to visit Pluto) and the President.  When people told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be, I apparently took it to heart.  In my plan to be the best doctor in the world, I would then need to go not only to medical school, but to chiropractic school, and acupuncture school, and massage school, and ayurveda school, and aromatherapy school, and reiki school, and herbalism school, and homeopathy school…you get the picture.  I wanted to know all there was to know about every single modality of healing on the planet.  I also had the foresight and general practicality of a teenager, so it didn’t dawn on me that A) I’d be so far in debt by the time I was done with all that school that I’d never be able to get out of it, B) I’d be about 237 years old by the time I was done with all that school, and C) having spent all those years in school and zero years actually practicing anything I’d learned, I’d be the worst doctor in the world, instead of the best.

Regardless, as I entered my senior year of high school, this was the genius plan I was sticking to.  Then, I read this book about homeschooling, which doesn’t have much to do with the story except that it encouraged me to actually meet a chiropractor and see what this whole “holistic healing” thing was all about.  There was one chiropractor in the neighborhood and I rode my bike up there and walked in the door.  I just laid it all out.  “Hi, I want to be the best doctor in the world and I’m really interested in alternative medicine and could I maybe work here or follow you around or just hang out in the lobby once in a while?”  And the generous Dr. Reed said yes to all of the above, which seemed natural at the time, but seems pretty amazing in hindsight.  I started working there a few hours a week and in the process, I learned a little bit about insurance billing, a little bit about supplements, a little bit about homeopathy, and a medium bit about what it looked like behind the scenes at this particular chiropractor’s office.  Once in a while the doc would (with his patients’ permission) let me come into the treatment rooms with him where he would explain what he was doing and why.  I got my first (and many subsequent) adjustments and felt e-stim for the first time.  I loved it all and thought it was amazing, but I had a hard time picturing myself as a chiropractor.

So, I just kept going.  After graduation, I got a summer job to help pay for college.  In addition to my few hours a week with the chiropractor, I started working for the local acupuncturist.  Same story, different building.  I learned about moxa, and cupping, and that thing they do with the spoon…maybe gua-sha?  It’s been awhile.  I had needles stuck in my meridians and I washed the sheets.  Dr. Broderick was as wonderful as the chiropractor about bringing me into the treatment rooms with her (with her patients’ permission) and explaining what she was doing and why.  Once again, I loved it all, but couldn’t picture myself as an acupuncturist in the end.

I proceeded with the plan.  My parents helped move my freckled self 1000 miles west to Boulder, Colorado to attend CU as a physics major.  Not only did I love physics (nerd alert!), but I knew my chances of getting into med school were better with a physics degree than the more common biology or chemistry degrees.  I took all the standard freshman-year classes, then took a year off to establish residency for cheaper tuition, which, again, isn’t relevant, except that my friends were now a year ahead of me in school.  During that year, I worked for Dr. Duggan, another chiropractor as the entire billing department.  I dominated those insurance companies!  I didn’t let them get away with shortchanging us or our patients even one cent!  And I was so incredibly stressed out and exhausted that I was miserable.  But, here I also met and worked with Dr. Leach, who is to play a part in our story later on.  Back to school, where I took all the biology classes and labs.  I took chemistry and then fell in love with organic chemistry (I warned you earlier about my nerdiness).  I learned about quantum physics and multiplying matrices.  But there was a wrench hurtling toward my plans, unbeknownst to me.  See, my best friend, Elizabeth, was planning to go to med school, too and she did so, one year ahead of me.

And I watched (over the phone) in horror as my best friend became this studying machine.  We rarely talked ’cause she had to study.   And when we did talk, all she talked about was studying.  She had no time to sleep, let alone eat, or have friends, or go for hikes, or do any of the things I really valued in my life.  I started thinking long and hard about this whole “best doctor in the world” plan.  Was it worth it?  Was it really what I wanted?  Was this the best way to go about it?  Maybe it was fear.  Maybe it was coming to my senses.  Maybe it was both, but I decided going to med school wasn’t what I wanted after all.  Which is great, looking back, but it left me feeling a bit lost.  Now what?

Truth be told, now, I wandered.  For a long time.  I dropped out of college with 3 1/2 years done towards a physics degree.  People told me I’d regret it.  But 8 1/2 years later I’m still waiting for regret to set in.  I only wanted a physics degree to get me into med school and if I didn’t want to go to med school anymore I didn’t see the point in continuing to acquire debt and struggle through math problems that took 4 days each.  So I moved back to Chicago for a while.  I thought I was going to open a restaurant (’cause med school would be too much work, ha!).  I coached a volleyball team.  I waited tables.  I realized I hated the weather in Chicago and missed the Rockies.  I packed up my old Honda Civic and drove back to Denver.  I waited more tables.  I got a job working for Dr. Leach as a chiropractic assistant at his practice in Lafayette.  Once again I was doing insurance billing, along with taking x-rays and doing ultrasound.  For the first time ever, I heard of Rolfing!  A patient mentioned they were going to get Rolfed later in the week.  I asked Dr. Leach about it.  He told me it was like super-deep-and-painful-massage.  Yowza.  No thanks.

I started working on my own development.  I guess this is what happens when you’re 23 or 24.  You realize you can’t just drink your life away and maybe there’s more to it all.  I started learning about qi gong and meditation.  I saw a shaman and got a soul retrieval.  I quit my job with Dr. Leach to open a dance studio.  I realized how much work it would take to open a dance studio.  I remember sitting in Wahoo’s Fish Tacos while two guys at a table next to me discussed Rolfing.  I paid attention.  They talked about how super-intense and super-deep it was.  I was still on the no-thanks-train.

This theme of alternative-medicine-healer kept coming up.  I was interested in a lot of things, obviously, but healing was recurring.  I had dreams where I was told that my carreer would involve working with my hands.  I thought about massage therapy.  But it didn’t seem like it was “enough.”  I felt like massage made people feel good temporarily, but didn’t fix what caused the pain in the first place.  It might as well be ibuprofen for all I cared.  I started a gardening business.  I grew organic vegetables for people in their own yards.  When I say I wandered, I mean it.  Then, my very good friend Kate started getting Rolfed.  She signed up for the 10-series, to be exact.  And very early on in the process she said, “Theresa, I think you need to check this out.”  Um, no Kate, Rolfing hurts.  I’ll pass.  I have better things to spend my money on.  A few more sessions in and she wouldn’t let it go.  “Theresa, for real.  This is a modality that I think you’d really like.”  I’m not a masochist, but thanks.  A few months later, I got “Know Yourself” and “Honor Yourself” tattooed on my wrists.  I passed out from the pain and thought nothing of it, other than it was embarrassing.

We could continue, and we will, but this is getting a little long, even longer than I’d imagined.  So let’s take a break, shall we?  To be continued next week, I promise.

I get the same question all the time.  And it’s about time I just laid it out for you, Sassy Pants, plain and simple, once and for all.  The question is not, “How do you do that magic that you do!?” or “How did you get into Rolfing in the first place?” although that’s a common one.  Maybe next week’s post can get into that.  Unfortunately for both you and me, the most common question is not “Can I schedule ten more sessions right now?”  Wanna know what the most popular question of all time (in my practice) is?  Well, of course you do, so here it is:  Does anybody ever fall asleep during a session?

And the answer, of course, is yes.  Yes; a million times over, yes.  People fall asleep during sessions all the time and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable and nothing to be embarrassed about.  In fact, of the close to 50 Rolfing sessions I’ve received in the last four years since I first tried it out, I’ve probably stayed awake through three of them.  Possibly.  Maybe it was only the two.  I lost count with all the sleeping I was doing in between.

The thing is, I want you to be engaged during your sessions with me.  I want you to show up ready to meet me halfway.  I can only change what you’ve allowed me to change.  And you can do more from the inside than I can do from the outside.  Part of the whole point of this work is embodiment, meaning that your consciousness is in and related to your body.  If you’re hungover from a rough night, disassociation (the opposite of embodiment)  may be the most comfortable option for you, and that’s no good for me.  So, yes, I want you to be present and participating in the work we do together.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep.

Huh?

Well, first of all, my goal is to bring about health.  And if you’re sleep deprived, like most people in this country today, then sleep may be the quickest way to bring about health.  So go for it.  More power to you.

Secondly, I don’t think it always has to do with sleep deprivation when you (or I) fall asleep on the table.  I still fall asleep during sessions and I use an alarm to wake up about four times a year, so I don’t think I’m sleep deprived.  I still fall asleep while getting Rolfed immediately after a large cup of coffee and I’m so sensitive to caffeine I usually don’t sleep well at midnight if I had black tea at 8am.  So I think there’s more to it than tiredness.  I think sometimes (often) with a good session of bodywork, big shifts can happen not only in the structure, but on the emotional, spiritual, mental, and energetic side of things as well.  And as we let go of certain traumas and blockages, the ego may try to get in the way, claiming it needs to hold onto that issue for whatever reason.  “I have a bad back” may be part of your story.  And if we shift things so that’s no longer true, your ego may feel a little frantic, wondering how you’ll define yourself in the future.  “I was abused” may be true, but if we let go of the painful trauma around that, will you still be you?  Your ego might not think so.  And so, when your body is making big shifts in the direction of health, it might be helpful to get your ego out of the way.  And so, you “fall asleep” or go into what some people call a healing trance.  You’re still conscious enough to stretch your right arm out, or roll over onto your stomach if I ask you to.  But you’re not conscious enough to fight what your body needs.

At least, that’s how I justify all the sleeping I do during sessions.  You can come up with your own excuses, if you’d prefer.  Regardless, know that, yes, plenty of people fall asleep during sessions, and I don’t mind if you snore.