Closing Down

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Tracy Bradley. Tracy has been practicing massage therapy since 2003 in rural Arkansas. When not massaging she can be found sipping Cherry Coke, watching cat videos, reading massage discussions, or hanging out with her family. She publishes a client-centered blog at The Comfort Zone Massage. Her 8-year-old daughter creates stories about her two zany cats at Cat With a Chat. Tracy is moving over a hundred miles from home to begin a new adventure with her family!

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One month and then my massage business is closed. A month. No more clients, no more sheets, no more hot towels, no more. I feel like I’ve never done this before even though I left a different place 4 years ago. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with that place, I suppose. This place, this business is like home. I’m leaving home.

What will I do with my hands now? Will they miss the feel of flesh gliding under their fingers? Will my skin shrivel up and dry out without the daily use of massage oil? My hands, who have caressed, kneaded, rocked, pushed, pulled, rubbed, and comforted humans for the past 12 years, won’t know what do anymore. Will they lead me around searching for an aching shoulder like a forked limb leads one to “witch a well” for water? I apologize in advance to those I hug. My hands will surely try to massage your back and shoulders in what should be a brief moment.

Have you ever closed your business? Have you ever had to tell your massage clients you’re moving away and never coming back? It’s a difficult task.  After almost 4 years working as a massage therapist in a small town I’m moving away. Telling loyal, regular, make-their-appointment-before-they-leave clients is one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.  The first eight years of my massage career were extremely part-time. The past four years were more than full-time. They were full emersion. I fully devoted most of my brain, heart, and soul to growing this business and caring for my clients. And now it ends.

I spent the week telling clients I’m leaving. A few were devastated. Most were supportive of my family’s new opportunity.  We cried. We hugged. We talked it out.

I will miss these people. Even with “good boundaries” relationships are developed. People talk. Living in such a small town many of us go to the same church, family members work together, kids attend the same schools, we go to fundraisers together, etc. We conduct our lives side-by-side. Boundaries are there but they are different than someone who lives in a place they never see their clients outside work.

All this said, I’m ready for a break. I’ve been “all in” for quite a while to make sure I supported the family while my husband was in college. I loved it most of the time. The Hustle becomes such a rush!  You try something to get more clients and your week fills up!  You write a blog and people read it and tell you they like it.  You develop a way of doing things, communicating with your clients, and operating your business. You get shit done. You try a new promotion that flops but it is still a rush because you get to brainstorm again. It never stops: the planning, writing, researching, talking, etc. It can’t stop if you want to stay busy.

I’m tired. I’m ready to shut that part of my brain off for a while. I’m ready to see if there is a Tracy inside me. She wants to laugh and smile and read and write and play and stuff.

#AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures

This wasn’t how I expected my six month stint in nail school to end. Today was a surreal, jacked up day for a lot of people, and I feel a little bit guilty about being the luckiest girl in the world.

 

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8:00 am: Ms. Lorraine, my nail technology instructor, sat on the metal steps outside the entrance to Destination Academy, a lit cigarette held with the assuredness of a military veteran turned hairstylist with a combined 40 years in the trenches.

“I’m glad you came to school today.”

“Ummm, why?” I asked suspiciously.

“It’s your last day. They’re closing down the school. You’re going to be the last graduate.”

“Oh shit.”

What followed was a chaotic morning of classmates (hair, skin and nails) arriving at school to be met with a frazzled “Pack up your stuff and hurry! The constable is here and he’s going to lock the doors. Your hours will be forwarded to the state board. Take everything with you. Quickly!” Teachers and office employees wore the same shocked expression as students. Panicked tears fell and tempers flared.

Some students had pre-paid their tuition in full (anywhere from $4,000 – $20,000), and still had several months remaining before they were scheduled to graduate. Teachers began planning their day’s trek to the unemployment office. The ethical office employees took responsibility for locating and rescuing everyone’s paperwork that proved their attendance. Countless boxes, cases and computers were shuffled out of the building into waiting vehicles.

Destination Academy is (was?) located above Destination Manhattan, a day spa and salon owned by the same person. Upon emerging from the second floor, it became obvious that the shitstorm that had enveloped Destination Academy was relatively mild in comparison to the bedlam laying waste at ground level. Here, dozens of employees and chair renters scurried to remove their belongings – including large items, like furniture and stationary massage tables – from the building before the ever-present yet even-tempered constable had the locksmith change the locks.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, moving trucks pulled up one after the other while fuming beauty professionals directed the movers on where to haul cabinets, bins, and gigantic hair dryers. Cell phone use was ubiquitous, as friends and family members were summoned to listen, calm, and ultimately show up in pickup trucks. Appointment cancellation calls to clients came next, and without warning. Not surprisingly, Gary, the hairstylist turned salon and beauty school owner — who apparently hadn’t been paying the rent for who knows how long – was nowhere to be found during this entire debacle.

I could tell you that this turn of events came as a complete surprise, but that would be a lie. I attended Destination Academy in 2008 to be educated in the science of skincare, and rumors of school closure ran rampant back then, too. Just last year, a handful of trusted sources informed me of bounced checks (both payroll and payment to vendors) and declined company credit cards. Kits and textbooks for newly enrolled students were on “backorder” for months, and basic items (gloves, hair color, facial products, etc.) necessary to perform basic services (hair coloring, facials, etc.) would run out, never to be replaced. But we tend to get lulled into a state of complacency when at the 11th hour we manage to make do with what we have. I mean, the lights were still on in the damn building as recently as 7 o’clock tonight, and rumors are just rumors, right?

As for how this affects your humble narrator, I just really hope it doesn’t. Thanks to my lovely teachers (and for everything it’s worth, I consider you ladies friends to whom I am eternally grateful), I was able to sign off on my attendance sheets proving 600 hours of instruction before I went home today. Hopefully the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology accepts my paperwork without incident, at which point I can schedule my written exam, and after that my practical exam (where I have my way with a fake plastic hand while state employees observe with a critical eye). If I can maintain any semblance of luck at all, I will be set up to do natural nail manicures and pedicures at Feetish Spa Parlor sometime this spring.

And that’s pretty much it for #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures. I had begun working on a rather boring and uninspired blog post last week in anticipation of my red carpet-walking, certificate-receiving graduation extravaganza, but apparently life detests a dull blog post even more than I do. As a reminder, you can hit up #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to take a gander at how I’ve spent five long hours per day, five long days per week, over the last six long months. Hopefully the 202 morsels of hashtagged wonder that pop up prove that it hasn’t all been bad, or all for nothing.

 

finaldestination

What a day.

 

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Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.