LaRie Hope has toured with bands, worked in freak shows and haunted houses, and been a body piercer and hairstylist… yet her biggest and boldest career move is happening right now, as she sets up shop in Arizona to offer her services as a Licensed Massage Therapist, energy worker, and self-described “Life Doula.”
While a doula is traditionally a person who is trained to assist a woman during childbirth and to provide support to the family after the baby is born, LaRie has given the profession her own personal twist by providing much needed help to families with or without children. She assists families plan and prepare healthy meals, provides childcare to individuals who need to work or be in class, and offers general emotional and mental encouragement by holding space for her clients. “If you need it, most likely I can help you with it,” LaRie says. “My nickname since high school has always been ‘mom,’ which is accurate because I have always been a mom to everyone when they need support.”
Holding Space in the Face of Cancer
In fact, motherhood and the act of holding space have both played huge roles in LaRie’s personal life, as her daughter Lolli was diagnosed with cancer in 2014:
“We were living in Colorado at the time. Lolli was just about to turn four. She fell at a party that we were at, and her left shoe came off. She seemed fine. The next day, I noticed a bump about an inch in diameter sticking out of her foot. I knew it wasn’t fluid. I brought her to see her nurse practitioner, and she agreed. She said to wait a few days to see if it changed. It didn’t. We had an x-ray done that didn’t show anything either. We finally met with a doctor in Denver. After the MRI, they told us we shouldn’t leave. They did a biopsy the next morning and said that they wouldn’t know for sure until the end of the week... and that it looked like cancer.”
Sure enough, after the week had elapsed, LaRie got the news that Lolli had rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue tumor which is considered a quick-growing cancer and which spreads rapidly through the body without warning. The doctors decided that the best course of action was to amputate Lolli’s foot and immediately start her on chemotherapy to make sure that the tumor did not metastasize throughout her body. “It was hard for Lolli throughout the whole thing,” LaRie recalls. “She fought it and didn’t like the chemo. Nobody does. So many times, she looked at me and said, ‘Some people don’t want to be saved.’” Words like that are so difficult to hear, especially from someone so young and especially from your own child. LaRie ultimately knew that what Lolli needed most was someone to hold space for her, to not be attached to an outcome, and to be there for her as she was going through treatment. Thankfully, through the speedy intervention of Lolli’s doctors, the steadfast commitment of her mother, and Lolli’s own personal resilience, she was able to survive the ordeal and is now living cancer-free!
The Missing Pieces
One of the factors that helped LaRie muster so much inner strength during this challenging time was her training at SWIHA. LaRie is a graduate of SWIHA’s Massage Therapy Diploma with specialties in Reiki and Polarity/Cranial. “My time as a student at SWIHA was the keystone to my growth as a human,” LaRie reflects. Before finding the school, she felt like she had been “dumping out the pieces of a puzzle that [she] had her entire life and realizing that there were no edge pieces to be found.” It was through her journey at SWIHA that LaRie was finally able to find those missing pieces and give her path structure and form.
LaRie is now marrying her personal experiences and talents to serve her two primary client bases: individuals who are trying to support their own loved ones who are battling cancer and individuals who are seeking help in their relationships. “I’ve never had cancer,” LaRie begins. “I don’t know what that’s like. However, I do know what it’s like being the mother of someone who had cancer. So, being that person, showing how to create the boundary of ‘this is yours, and not mine,’ how to hold space and be a support system, and how to help them process through their stuff… that I know, and I can help with.”
When it comes to aiding couples who are experiencing rough spots in their relationships, LaRie offers individual coaching so that each party in the relationship can discover the tools necessary to feel and express what they need to feel and express to their partners. “I work to help them find their voice so they can work through their own thoughts and feelings before they go back to their partners and have the conversations that they need to have. Some of them stay together, some of them don’t. I continue coaching them until they feel that they don’t need me anymore,” she says.
Mother and Daughter: A Polarity Duo
Of course, Lolli also continues to figure prominently in LaRie’s work. The two have plans to create a YouTube Series called Polarity Sprouts in order to teach Polarity Basics to children of all ages in a fun and low-stress way. LaRie feels that there is a gap between the learning needs of those who wish to better understand polarity, particularly for children, and the current materials available online, acknowledging that there is a better way to bring this knowledge to kids and families in a fun and engaging way. “When you’re teaching children, it’s not the same class structure. It’s not the same curriculum,” she explains.
To achieve this goal of more effective engagement, LaRie draws upon her previous circus experience to get the job done. “When I teach tightrope or juggling to kids, it’s not about teaching them how to juggle. It’s about getting them on the rope, or getting whatever they’re going to be juggling in their hands, and just playing with them so they can become familiar and comfortable with what they are doing, which helps them in understanding it,” she explains. “When going through an entire adult polarity program, it can be really intense. I want to bring it back down to the basics and introduce it in a more childlike way. I want people to have fun and enjoy the experience. Bringing it in with Lolli and teaching it to a child can cross that barrier of being able to incorporate the fun into polarity, while still understanding and hearing the serious concepts in it.”
A Community Mama
Ultimately, LaRie finds herself filling the roles people find hard to fill in their own lives and doing so in unique ways. She discovers that sometimes people have special needs when it comes to receiving massage, which she also offers to clients in need of customized care. “Sometimes laying down on a table isn’t the best option for someone,” she says. “I have clients that call me for Thai body work or shoulder massage that needs to be sitting. Sometimes that means they are watching TV as I am doing clothed body work for them. If that is what works for you, where you feel most comfortable in your own environment, we can make it happen.”
At the end of the day, LaRie really is a “community mama,” and whatever it is she’s doing with you, she always makes you feel at home. Want to learn how to make kombucha? Want to receive Reiki? Want to learn how to walk a tightrope while juggling balls? Want assistance in the practice of letting go and just “being”? Give LaRie a call. All are welcome at this mama’s door!