Letting in the Light

Here at the Ashland Institute of Massage most of us wear a number of different hats. We are a small school, so multiple job descriptions is the norm. I wear four primary hats: massage therapist, science instructor, bodywork instructor, and co-director. The last is the most recent hat to top the pile and has been the most challenging one for me to wear for one small reason: the office itself!

Our administrative ‘back office’ is in a corner of the building and has had, until recently, one small window. An awning shields the window from direct sun, but even were it absent, the orientation is all wrong for a sun-lover like me. The room has been a dark cave despite the cheeriest of paint, and artificial lighting a constant necessity to get any work done. Worst of all, it felt entirely shut off from anything outside.

Last week a miracle occurred: we installed a second window! This one is larger, has no awning, and faces the sun. What a change! Now we work using natural lighting and all afternoon the sunshine warms our backs and traces pathways across the floor. Breeze flows through from one window to the next and we look out on a grassy field, the Ashland hills, and glorious sky. We are connected to the world. I feel it, smell it, and see it throughout my office days.

It took almost two and a half years for Bryn and me, the director team, to realize what a difference it would make to cut a hole in the wall.  Yes, we have been busy implementing changes to many other aspects of the school, but we were slow to make this physical change which seemed to impact only ourselves. This is slightly ironic, given that the first ‘lesson’ of good bodywork is that you must nourish your own self before being able to effectively give.

This has been a personal “ah ha” moment. Guess what? Dwelling in a brighter space has made me a happier administrator. I even want to stay late just to enjoy where I am! My ideas embrace a wider perspective as the greater world shines in. I can teach more authentically about the need for self-care. Most importantly, I am a more nourished human being, which can’t help but ripple outward to both my students and my bodywork clients.

We have been gleefully showing off our window to just about everyone around here. One of the students remarked yesterday that it has transformed the entire building. I think he is right. Even the smallest gesture to one’s own wellbeing changes everything. Come see our window and get inspired!

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