Transitioning to Self-Employment

Today marked the end of an era. At three o’clock this afternoon – after twenty-one years, eleven jobs and five-and-a-half-years of working the same one — I went from being partially self-employed to fully self-employed.

Now this might not sound like a huge deal to you, but to me? I held onto that last vestige of working-for-the-other-guy the way Dr. Oz holds onto his one o’clock time slot: mercilessly and with a smidgen of desperation. Over the last several months, as my own business grew busier, working at the resort spa morphed from financial necessity to psychological security blanket. I had always worked for someone else! Was I really ready to swim in the choppy waters of free market capitalism while depending on a child-sized flotation device labeled LIPOMI’S BUSINESS ACUMEN?

I knew I’d never know if I never tried. I knew I was suffering from burnout while juggling ten-hour Sunday shifts at the resort spa, appointments with my own clientele, and managing my continuing education business to the best of my ability given the complete lack of residual hours in my day. I was also becoming increasingly aware of the effect that death and grief can have on a person (me). It became almost painful for me to be away from my better half every Sunday, and I didn’t want to get to the point where I resented my massage therapy career choices. I love what I do; it gives me purpose. I hope I never lose that.

For better or for worse, all signs were pointing to “hey Andrea, dump the resort spa job”.  This option was made even more attractive when I received some timely external validation from marketing expert Seth Godin by way of his book THE DIP: I was caught in a cul-de-sac. A dead-end job was taking time, energy and attention away from other promising projects that needed me – all of me – to succeed. I may be slow to process information, but after being bludgeoned repeatedly by obviousness in its most obvious form, I knew what I had to do.

The email was polite and to the point. I gave my manager a little bit more than two-weeks’ notice. I only hesitated for five minutes before hitting “send”.

And here I am! Sitting at a Starbucks just down the street from my former employer with a refreshingly recalibrated focus on what matters most. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for the opportunities that came my way while I was employed by other guys: steady paychecks, priceless experience, awesome clients, sweet coworkers, lessons, stories, inspiration and adventure…but all chapters must come to an end, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing this new one as it unfolds.

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Self-Care, Ad Nauseam

The insolent child residing in my Taurean psyche cries out for respite. For almost ten years now – the entire length of my career as a massage therapist and aspiring spa raconteur — I have tolerated eye-glazing navel-gazing, ill-fitting purple prose yoga pants, and the Gospel of Icy Forearm Plunges. I have been bludgeoned by double jointed, rainstick-wielding, world-saving pseudo-heroism, and have resisted the colloidal silver crush of well-ahem-meaning know-it-alls to the point of exhaustion in all its myriad forms.

Enough with this implied insufficiency, I say! It’s time for my hacker, slacker, workaholic ass to embrace the reality of what always was and always has been: I am not enlightened, nor do I strive to become so. (On the hush-hush, I’m also not so sure that you’re as enlightened as you believe you’d like to be.) I do not aspire to be the sage of mediocre memes, or a lululemon majority shareholder. I am less likely to be found prostrate on a yoga mat than I am to be found doubled over on the porcelain throne, smartphone in one hand, head in the other. Oh! And I rarely stretch.

I juice when I feel like it, and naproxen sodium is my friend. Sometimes I visit Chinatown, where I enjoy the occasional $25 “foot reflexology” service while the employees answer their phones mid-treatment and speak loudly in a dialect I haven’t a Buddhist prayer of comprehending. I don’t always buy local, organic, or free range, and I can’t wait for the glutinous gourmet donut shop to open one block away from my office. I no longer live in an “historic” fixer upper house in an “artistic” fixer upper neighborhood, and – gasp! – I drive my petrol-powered car around town every fucking day.

Fellow Young Thumb Ari and I get our self-care on over shaved ice at the Korean spa. Imperial Spa, Las Vegas, November 2013.

Fellow Young Thumb Ari and I get our self-care on over shaved ice at the Korean spa. Imperial Spa, Las Vegas, November 2013.

My internal dialogues are some of the most exhausting conversations I’ve had to date. When my cranial playground gets too cluttered for my own good, I like to hang out with friends in real life, and to cut back on virtual activities of an addictive nature. I don’t have time to waste on boring. I believe drama to be a masturbatory tool for the lost.

Given my current work/school/life/stress schedule, I make it a point to see my massage therapist every other week for at least 90 minutes a pop, and sometimes much longer. During our sessions, we discuss the appropriate and the inappropriate in equal measure. We hang out outside of the treatment room, and have become great friends. Like, irreplaceably super great friends.

My house looks fantastic when clean, but this catharsis occurs with an unenlightened judgment-laden infrequency (usually only in preparation for overnight visitors with a knack for providing advance notice, or when I host a dinner party, which doesn’t happen much anymore, due to time reallocation and whatnot). Also, I am a crafting, snacking, laptopping slob.

Upon my impending graduation from nail school, I will learn to play new wave hits on the theremin. However, until these glorious events take place, I will continue to get out of bed, write, love, eat, poop, laugh, and appreciate every big-little thing that my lovelies bring to this absurd little corner of the universe — whether swaddled in Spandex tight pants or not.


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, 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.