Everyone remembers their first love. For Audrey Washington, that love was massage therapy.
In 2007, with eleven years of massage and entrepreneurial experience under her belt, Audrey moved to Phoenix, Arizona, from Detroit, Michigan, to start her own massage business, ALW Massage Therapy. Once in Phoenix, she found that she preferred to hire graduates of SWIHA’s Massage Program to work as Licensed Massage Therapists on her staff. Although she was not yet formally acquainted with the school, she could tell that the curriculum taught there was strong. “They had more knowledge of anatomy, as well as the ability to do energy work and follow their intuition when working with clients,” she says. “I trusted the school and how they trained their LMTs.”
The Grace of God
Yet it was not until Audrey herself needed healing that she would end up gravitating to a SWIHA program of her own. During her eight-week recovery period after a major surgery, she kept seeing ads for SWIHA, prompting her to further research the school. While Google and some well-placed marketing efforts may have led her to the school’s doors, Audrey attributes her eventual decision to enroll in the Associate Degree in Mind-Body Wellness to the “Grace of God.”
Although she initially had her heart set on pursuing a Nutrition focus within this degree, she quickly found a kindred spirit in the form of her Spiritual Studies teacher, Kathy Shimpock, who served as a role model of wisdom and knowledge. Attuned to this new message of love and growth, Audrey switched her emphasis to Spiritual Studies. “I had so much past trauma—my best friend committing suicide, family issues, father issues—yet with meditation and hypnotherapy I was able to forgive myself and love myself again,” she reflects. “Through Spiritual Studies, I learned to take care of myself so that I can take care of others.”
The Blessings Within
Audrey continues to offer her massage services through ALW and even has plans to add a fifth LMT to her staff. The services she now offers include deep tissue, ashiatsu, medical, oncology/hospice, pregnancy massage, as well as trigger point therapy, reiki, and reflexology. As that business expands, she is increasingly turning her vision outward toward communities in need of spiritual healing and blessing through her second business, Spiritual Grace Ministries. Through Spiritual Grace, she has begun working with oncology patients in the comfort of their own homes, has started a prayer group, has three weddings lined up for 2018 and 2019 for which she is providing spiritual coaching and vow assistance, a baby naming ceremony in June of 2018, and a blessing ceremony for a new business owner in July 2018.
“Anyone can find a job, yet finding what you are MOST passionate about and bringing those spiritual gifts forward into the world takes courage, compassion, and strength,” she states. “I feel like once I was clear about my WHY, it allowed me to have clarity on getting back into what I previously was terrified of: working with those who have cancer or who are in transition. I was terrified because I didn’t want to cry in front of people, yet that is what connects me to people and makes me human. It is my humanness that allows me to have compassion for those in transition.”
The Open Door
With this attitude anchoring her, Audrey has set a goal to open a wellness center in 2019 using the additional skills and support she has received from SWIHA’s Success Center: “Will Zecco, James Patrick, Elmas Vincent, and Richard Seaman’s help and guidance on business plans have been priceless. I feel empowered and supported.”
Audrey’s advice to future students starts with learning patience. “Be willing to listen to what your teachers offer and show up mentally ready, spiritually open, and prepared for forgiveness of self and the clearing of that which no longer serves you,” she proclaims. “The path is full of curves and different directions that you can follow. Once you clarify your WHY, then the path will be cleared for you. Doors will open and clients will appear who you didn’t even know you could help!”