Story of Homegrown @ YMCA

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Blog | 5 comments

I’d like to tell you my story of how Homegrown Yoga and Massage come to be at the YMCA of the Rockies. It’s a God given story, one of divine timing and need. About four years ago I first learned about the Yoga Journal Conference held annually at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center. It’s an expensive conference to attend and I really wanted to go but couldn’t afford the registration. I heard about a work exchange program the conference was offering where you can work 20 hours a week in exchange for a free conference pass. It’s a competitive process, and one must write an essay to apply for the position. I filled out the application, explained my financial need, history with the Y, commitment to community service, as well as being a yoga instructor, and I was offered one of the work exchange positions. I was so excited and felt so supported to live my dream job. Yet, I couldn’t afford the accommodations which weren’t included in the work exchange program. About one week before the conference I met a man whose family owns a house in Estes Park and he offered his home for me to stay in. Again, I felt supported, grateful and blessed. As it turned out, I decided to pay the $400 for the accommodations on the grounds at the Y as I wanted to be more a part of the conference. It was worth it. While attending the conference I was sitting at the dinner table in the Y cafeteria and someone had a pretty bracelet on which I admired. I asked her where she got the bracelet and she said she made it at the Arts and Crafts center on the Y premises. I was delighted to hear this as an Arts and Crafts center is part of a vision God had given me to work toward – to build a spiritual center on a Christmas tree farm that’s dedicated to creating world peace and community health through individual empowerment and celebration of the arts. So the next day I went to visit the Arts and Crafts center and I instantly fell in love with it. I said to myself, I must volunteer here. I asked a staff member who to speak with about volunteering. The next day I walked into the Volunteer Coordinators office, her name is Spider Fish, and I told her I was interested in volunteering. She said great and we agreed that I would come up every Saturday from Lafayette where I was living to volunteer at the Arts and Crafts center. During this initial meeting Spider said – “I’ve always wanted to have a yoga instructor and massage therapist here.” I said – “I might be your girl!” I attended the rest of the conference and enjoyed walking around on the Y grounds and taking in all of the beauty. I felt rushed as people often do at conferences and said to myself, “I wish I just had time to walk around up here. It’s so beautiful, peaceful and majestic.” In time, I got my wish.

I returned home after the conference where I was living as a Care Taker in a large house that also served as the Great Mountain Zen Center in Lafayette, CO. I was attending massage school at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. I had been involved and lived in Zen communities for several years in the past. I enjoy the simplicity and peacefulness of Zen as well as the emphasis on the way of the bodhisattva – living for the benefit of all beings. Although content with many aspects of Zen, I felt uneasy. I didn’t want to do sit in meditation as long as the Zen Center’s schedule dictated. I expressed to the Zen priest, or Roshi, that I would like to do walking meditation instead of sitting meditation but he wouldn’t allow that. I thought Good God, I’m old and wise enough to know when I need to sit and when I need to walk. I also wanted to have a Christmas tree and I wanted to live at a place where I could celebrate God. So I prayed to God – “God, thank you so much for this wonderful house I live in and the care taker opportunity, but I want a new home – a place where I can celebrate you.” The next day Spider Fish called me and said, “I’m so sorry Laura, you can’t volunteer here one day a week and live off grounds, but you can volunteer here at the Y three days a week and live on grounds! Aha. Another gift from God. I said “ok, THANK YOU! That will work out well!” I then moved into Twin Sisters and worked three days a week in the Arts and Crafts center as a volunteer, and commuted four days a week to Boulder to attend massage school. I also picked up another job as a Volunteer Coordinator with NAMI, a mental health organization in Boulder. I was a busy girl! During my time as a volunteer, by suggestion of one of the staff members, I put a sign up on my door inviting people to sign up for free massages! I could then practice the skills I just learned and volunteers and staff could receive a free massage – a win, win. I also began to offer weekly yoga classes as a Y volunteer. The classes were much appreciated by the staff and volunteers. After graduating from massage school and completing my year as a volunteer with the Y, I put in a proposal to work as the first massage concessionaire. Three months later, I received an e-mail saying the proposal was approved. Yay! Now, three years later, the massage business has grown more then 35% each year. I hire two to three other therapists and guests and staff just love the service. As I look back, I can see how God guided my path each step of the way. I absolutely love my work doing massage and teaching yoga, and running a small business. May all of us follow our hearts, sincere interests, and work ourselves into a “dream job” that serves everyone.

5 Comments

  1. Hi! I had an amazing massage at the Y in mid July 2014. I think the therapists name was Brittany or Stephanie. Could you tell me how to get in touch with her during the season you all are not at the Y? I have had many massages, but she actually fixed a chronic issue I had been having and I’d love to have her work on me again.

    Thank you and bless you! Kathy

  2. Hi Laura,
    I so resonate with your story! I would love to talk to you about my journey in becoming a massage therapist and the gratitude and support I have received along the way. As I develop my practice, I’m always aware of giving back-to community and individuals who have made a difference in my life. I have a studio in Boulder and I’d love to discuss options for working for you part time this summer at the Y. I too, have family history and memories of the Y. So the Y truly resonates with me! You can learn more about me at my website, suefonda.massagetherapy.com. my business is 720-514-9998. I hope to hear from you. With gratitude, Sue

    • Thanks Sue!! I am so happy you worked here last summer. We all were very blessed to have you and I enjoyed working with you. I hope you found your work and contributions here equally rewarding. You’re a great massage therapist. Come back and work with us anytime!! Blessings, Laura

  3. This is a very inspiring story, Laura!
    Love it.
    Andy and Nancy

    • Thanks Andy and Nancy!! I’m just getting the hang of these blogs and how to work with them. So I just saw your reply. Ya’ll are sooo kind! I enjoy working with you at the Y and am blessed to know you as friends. See you next year! Kindly, Laura

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