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  • Writer's picturePaula VanBaalen

Happy Birthday Ohana!

February 1st marks 12 year of Ohana.

Wow... what a ride it has been.

Ups - downs - sideways - WTF moments - questioning my sanity - and everything in between. And I wouldn't change it for the world.

What started in the back room of a hair salon has transformed and grown to be not only a massage clinic, but a massage school as well.

I know I don’t share it much, but here's my Ohana story:

The year before I moved to the Range I was feeling really restless in life. I needed change and wasn't getting it. I wasn't unhappy per se, more of a feeling of settling in life rather than truly living.

I had a job that was ok. I had a relationship that was ok. My family life was ok. Everything was ok. But I felt like I was missing something - excitement, purpose, passion, all of those juicy feelings. Ever get that feeling?

In walks Aaron. Ahhh... Aaron... the man who gave me everything I didn't know I wanted. The man who has challenged me, supported me, and stuck with me through all my craziness ( I call it passion).

We connected at a poker game, then again at a friend/family cabin. And I knew.

This was my opportunity for change. This felt right. Not to say some of the decisions I made at that time weren't hard or painful. I simply knew this was the change I was looking for for.

Timeline: In July we hit it off, in November I announced to my family that I was dropping everything and moving Up North in January.

My "employer" at the time insisted I see a psychic for guidance on this big decision. Sure, why not. I'm pretty open minded. I didn't need the psychic to tell me anything, but I was curious about what she would say.

The psychic told me this was a good move. That I would be a beacon of green light in an area that desperately needed it. That I would have a business on the main street in town and "minions" helping me with my purpose. Minions... I get such a kick out of that term.

Now whether she actually foretold it was possible or I liked the idea and created it, I'll never know. Nor do I need to. (Not entirely sure that's what my "employer" wanted to hear; that's not my issue though).

I'm sure my family questioned my sanity. I had just met this guy and was moving away from everything secure. Heck, one of my sisters even asked me if I was sure he wasn't a serial killer. (Another thing that I find amusing in hindsight).

Some of my clients were supportive of the move, others... not. "I'll take you back when that fails and you move back." (that hurt a lot at the time, now I filter that through the lens that they didn't want me to quit being their massage therapist).

Even when I moved here, the reviews were mixed. Not because I wasn't good at massage. Rather, I'm not from here. And this area "doesn't accept outsiders."

Luckily, I have the "Watch me" personality. You tell me I can't do something that my heart says is right? Thank you for your opinion... Hold my glass while I get shit done.

Within 6 months I was turning away clients.

In less than 2 years I was expanding to have other MTs work with me.

By 5 years I wanted to start teaching and empowering the next generation of massage therapists. By 10 years I made that happen.

Basically, I did a bunch of stuff. I made a lot of decisions. I took a lot of action. All for my greatest good, though some hurt like hell at the time.

Fast forward to today.

Ever feel like your on the precipice of massive change? The feeling that you're one pebble skip away from a totally different way of being. That all the of the chaos and the change and the struggle that you've endured are building into a profound shift.

That's where I'm sitting. It's not comfortable, and it's certainly not easy. Especially since so much of the shifting is taking me away from what I originally thought I wanted.

But it feels right. Not that superficial "high" feeling that I've discovered is change riding on adrenaline or a heightened nervous system. This change is that deep soul change. The one that you know is right, scares the shit out of you, and comes with a deep sense of knowing, even if you don't know what that knowing actually means.

As I'm shifting and learning to lean into Authentic Paula more, I'm fascinated to see a similar transformation in the people around me. People being brave and doing the hard thing that they know is right, even though it sucks at times during the process. Clients showing up to their own healing journey in awe-inspiring ways. Clients giving themselves permission to reconnect deeply with their body and advocate for their own healthcare. People being brave enough to let go of things that are no longer serving them.

These little nuggets help inspire me to keep growing forward. Knowing that I might lose some people along the way. That's ok. It's normal even. The people who are a good fit for Ohana and for my style of therapy will stay with us.

As I reflect on another year of Ohana, I was originally struck with sadness that we're not doing a celebration or open house. It's been a busy few months and the milestone almost passed by without acknowledgement.

Then I had to remind myself that it's ok.

Sometimes we celebrate and sometimes we work. And sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to slow down and give ourselves grace for the amount of things happening in life. The milestone still means a lot even if we're not loud about it.

Life isn't always easy.

Making changes and living your truth isn't always easy.

Making big decisions can be hard, especially when they may hurt other people's feelings.

Settling or living an uninspiring life is also hard... on the soul.

I encourage you to be you.

Be brave.

Show up as your authentic self (Goldilocks it if you're not sure who you are yet )

Above all else, I hope you follow your heart.

I hope you do the things that make your soul sing.

I hope you take care of you.

I hope you always keep Living

After all, the alternative is just bleh


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