Not many people would disagree with me when I say that one of The Best Things in Life is a really good massage. The kind that leaves you rejuvenated and yet melting into your car seat on the drive home. The kind you get from a true professional. Just thinking about it is making me want to pick up the phone and make an appointment. You see, I’m lucky enough to have a massage therapist on speed dial. Not because I’m a diva, but because she’s my friend.

Wendy has known since she was in grade 9 that she wanted to be massage therapist. A competitive rower for a prestigious private school, she was always giving her teammates massages after long days on the water. The feeling of satisfaction she got from that, hooked her in. She loved that she was making other people comfortable and easing their achy muscles but most importantly, she was making them happy. If there is one thing in life that Wendy strives for, it is to make others happy, sometimes to her own detriment.

After a year working at a job she didn’t like, she returned to college to get her prerequisite classes and then in 2002 started the three year course to become a registered massage therapist. “Three years of hell” is how she described it. And at the end of those three years came three written Board exams and then a hands on, live exam. Imagine doing an exam with an instructor as your client and three other examiners standing around watching. Holy crap, talk about intimidating. Massage therapy is a physically and mentally demanding job. Many therapist burn out after 5-7 years, I’ve learned.

She passed, of course, got married, moved to the Sunshine Coast and got pregnant. So, sometime things don’t go quite as planned. Anyway, once things got back on track she set up practice in Gibsons and built up a healthy clientele. Another baby later and Wendy and her family found themselves back in North Vancouver. She currently works at a practice in Lynn Valley. “Choosing where you want to work is a lot about being comfortable in your surroundings and finding the right fit with the practice” she told me. What she likes about the practice she works at, is that it is a multi-disciplinary practice. This gives her the opportunity to consult with other experts in physiotherapy, homeopathy and pre-natal, just to name a few.

“Does the line ever get blurred between massage therapist and just plain therapist?” I asked. “Absolutely”. She often gets people on her table in really difficult situations looking for some relief through massage. And they start talking. Without going into any detail, lets just say that Wendy has had some horrific and traumatic things happen to her in her short life. As horrible as that has been, it has given her a certain perspective on life. That perspective allows her to be completely open and honest with her clients, in the hopes that they can use her experiences to help themselves. The expression “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has never been more evident to me than in my friend Wendy. Her passion is to truly help people and that doesn’t just make her a great massage therapist it makes her an exceptional human being.

Few times in my life have I talked to somebody who really loves what they do. Who honestly enjoys their job. What a concept. But it’s not just that. When we talked about how Wendy’s past effects her work, the conversation, at times, became emotional and difficult, but when Wendy talks about the joy of helping somebody feel better and improve their life through massage therapy, you can hear the sincerity and caring in her voice. There is something unique about the way the she approaches her craft. It’s honest and vulnerable; just like her.

So the best things I see in Wendy? Knowing what your passion in life is, overcoming life changing obstacles and using them as a powerful tool to take that passion to a whole other level.

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