cleanin up my act ;)

I’ve worked since I was 12 yrs old. I started out as a dishwasher at Money’s restaurant in Honor~ work permits didn’t used to be a thing and my older sister worked hard and made money. I wanted money, but I didn’t love babysitting, so I worked early. During the school year I worked mostly weekends and then all summer. I’ve had many, many jobs. I’ve had a few interesting jobs. There were times I had 2-3 jobs at a time. For much of my life I thought the idea of job security seemed boring and so, I changed jobs like moods. I wouldn’t say that I am proud of this but it is a source of laughter and entertainment for my framily and I~ it just took me awhile to value sticking with something. It also took me awhile to find something to stick to.

I was 25 when I went to school to study massage therapy. By then I had been to 3 universities, a community college & 2 correspondence schools. (This was before “online education”, and yes, I was as fickle about higher ed as I was about employment!). I just could not make up my mind because I wanted to do and try everything!

I was certain that I was not built for a desk/cubicle job. I tried it more than once and I just… no. it wasn’t my thing at all. Being raised by two very hard working people who did not have their dream jobs, Im really not sure how I became so “entitled” to seek out my passion, especially as a single mama. But, somehow or another, finding what I was good at was a driving force in my life. I simply could not find a way to accept less than it. It has sometimes been a little embarrassing and felt frivolous to follow my bliss~ honestly~ it has seemed a little ridiculous. But this is how I’m built. I truly admire those who do whatever they have to~ even when it means enduring soul crushing jobs.

When I ‘discovered’ massage therapy as an option for a career, I became the most focused I had ever seen myself be. I still marvel at my tenacity. I was broke, I was a single parent. Yet, I explored schools all over the US, traveled to a couple to check out their locations and the nearby schools and opportunities for Isaac, interviewing schools and teachers and landlords for what I was looking for. I was 25 yrs old! Where did that moxie come from? Eventually I decided on a school in Utah, despite the fact that there were quality schools in Michigan. And Isaac and I moved away for a year.

In less than a year after finishing my studies and sitting for the board certification, I opened my own practice. I was still waiting tables at night, massaging during the day, working my butt off to support Isaac and myself. I had zero doubt in my abilities. When i look back now on my courage I am inspired. I am never one to brag, it makes me uncomfortable and feel silly. But lately I have been looking for ways to see myself in a sweeter light than has become my custom. Since Isaac’s death, it has become second nature to beat myself up and wonder where I went wrong. My therapist & I were discussing this recently and I said “the only thing I’m really good at lately is beating myself up” to which she said, “No, Christina, you are masterful at it”…Ive gotten lost in the viciousness of this cycle. And so, as an exercise in self love, and trying to establish a little discipline back into my life, I am trying to remind myself of “good”, kind, brave things I have done, to balance out some of my self absorbed ‘coping’ mechanisms and endless wallowing in grief, fear, what ifs, etc.

This softening toward myself has finally let me remember how deeply I have loved my profession for the last 14 years. I have been so afraid to do my thang because of the nature of this work. It is so intimate; I strive to create sacred space for each and every person who comes to me for help, healing and compassion. I have not felt capable of providing this toward myself much less any one else. So, I have closed myself off from my passion. I have been allowing fear to decide my fate.

If you met me and asked me to tell you anything about myself, prior to last fall, I would have always said “mama to Isaac” first and foremost, and massage therapist second. I have identified with these two labels for most of my adult life. The last day that I saw Isaac was October 24 and the last day I worked as a massage therapist was also October 24. Having spent some time with the “now what” questions, I can say that I have considered starting over, finding a new career or launching a new business. My husband graciously told me, after Isaac left us, that I never have to work again~ because he knew that I was not going to be the same, and also because he is an incredibly kind and generous man. I considered this, too. Being taken care of, assuming minimal responsibility, focusing my time and energy on grief, on healing, on myself.

But I feel the time has come to put myself out there again. To be a part of the ‘real world’. I can’t tell you how I spent the last 11+ months, because it has all been such a blur. I can tell you that I stopped showering for awhile. Stopped caring about much because I cared too much about everything. I thought that I would know more by now. I thought that somehow through the maze and haze of grief that I was going to come through it and redefine myself. And maybe I have by simply acknowledging the simple truth of who I am and what I am here to do. I am a nurturer. I seem to thrive in situations where I get to care for the well being of others. The few massages I have given since May to close friends in need has shown me a new depth to my work. My compassion, my empathy, for the pain in others,whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, has grown exponentially. As has my conviction to showing up, fully present, vulnerable, and with as much love & grace as I can, even when it is hard and I would rather be alone. This in and of itself is leading me to new horizons.

I know that the foundation we are creating and the book I am writing could keep me very busy. I could also paint all day and never have a need for walking out the door of my cozy little studio. Joshua & I have learned how to live very simply. I could keep this up indefinitely. But something is pulling at me, telling me that even though it is ok to weep and have my days open to sit quietly in this new normal, that life is swirling all around me. That perhaps there are folks who need just what I have to offer, with my hands & heart, with my Rain Man-esque proficiency for relaying the messages of the body. And maybe, if I just keep waiting for when I “feel ready” that I will always be waiting, always be wishing I were in a better head space & more heart centered. I’m not sure day to day what way of being is best, but Im trying.

Maybe the opportunity here is to choose to step forward anyway, despite self doubt, despite a battered heart. Maybe I do that because Isaac didn’t get the chance to see that you can…

So, dear reader, be on the lookout for me to re-engage in my own small way to being in service to others, again but anew. I will be looking for space to work from and looking to see who might need me. I will also be re-examining the whole value system of my practice. I think there are many pathways to healing and that every BODY deserves them. If you happen to know of rentals or think you might want to be a client, I ask that you consider sending me a private message to my email address, . Keep me lifted in your prayers or thoughts, that ‘my way’ will be revealed to me.

Today, I showered!


Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.


3 thoughts on “cleanin up my act ;)”

  1. I need you. I don’t see you often, but you are there. I continue to marvel at you (I don’t think that is correct grammatically), at the fact that you are here, living, with a broken heart but not a broken spirit. I love you and I am always with you, too.


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