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Life Arts

Corporate by Day, Reflexologist by Night Brenda Makowsky: A Foot in Two Worlds

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 10/12/11

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My guest today is Reflexologist Brenda Makowsky. Welcome to OpEdNews, Brenda. Please tell us about a little about your background and your day job.

Hi, Joan. Thank you for inviting me to have a conversation with you. Please don't judge me by my writing skills. I had to pay people in college and grad school to edit my work.

A bit of my working background and my current position:  After receiving my BA, I worked in social services for roughly ten years. During that time, I was a Youth Director, Rehab Counselor and Intake Specialist.  After obtaining a Master of Social Work degree, I went to work at a suburban elementary school. After a year at the school,  a change seemed in order.  The idea of continuing to work on problems that stemmed from systemic societal issues was draining. I left for Corporate America - well, not right away.  It took about a year of temp work to learn my way around computers, policies, and corporate culture.  For the past seven years, I have worked in corporate finance.

While you've been in the corporate sphere, you've also had one foot outside, exploring another world altogether. Can you tell our readers about that other aspect of your life?

Once I turned 40, many questions came up about my life and how to march on with the next half. What would I like to accomplish before my death? What is a resourceful way to use what is already mine and make money? What can I give back to the Universe that doesn't make it worse? Can I find a way to help people on a person level? My lifelong thought of how Western medicine has never served me is always marinating in my brain.  

After months of contemplating my questions and thoughts, I came up with Reflexology. Reflexology is a non-invasive complementary approach to well-being that involves practitioners' fingers applying pressure to hands, feet and outer ears of clients.  It does not require any tools or equipment and can be offered to people with little or no overhead. Reflexology is not hard physically and, most importantly, it helps people.  
As I embarked on the path of study, it became obvious that this was a field to take seriously. Anatomy and physiology are huge components and foreign to my line of thinking. Before I knew it, clients began commenting on their healing through Reflexology. I was motivated to learn more. Continued studies brought and continue to bring powerful information to my fingertips. Doctors outside the US add Reflexology to their medical practice. They have studied the techniques with modern technology and charted the results. I had no idea of the magnificence of Reflexology until participating in classes offered by researchers from abroad.

Corporate America is about me fulfilling the American dream. I can own a home, car, and travel. Reflexology is about fulfilling my dream while helping the Universe.  It is honoring to connect with people while touching their feet. The connection inspires me to continue down this path.

How did this work? Did you wear your corporate suit during the day and learn Reflexology at night? Did you learn how to add more hours to the day? How did you juggle these two worlds while you earned certification?

Getting the certification was hard, but I was really lucky. There were three of us who took all our classes together. The classes were every few months on weekends over the course of 12 months. The three of us met between classes in Rockford, Illinois. It was a two-hour drive for all of us and somewhat in the middle of all our residences. We put what we learned on flashcards and studied during the week. The weekends, when we met, were made for testing each other.  I worked with the flash cards constantly - the Metra, El, during lunch and whenever there was a spare moment. Friends also helped by testing me, too. My dining room table was filled with flashcards and textbooks.

In addition to textbook study, we had to complete 100 hours of hands on application. Our house became a Reflexology parlor. Family, friends, and neighbors came to the house and helped me clock hours. I remember when the Reflexology recliner chair came. My husband told the neighborhood. They were all so curious and made appointments. Really, it seems crazy to think I would ever see, let alone work on, my neighbors' feet. During the sessions, my husband would walk in and out of the living room talking to whoever was in the recliner chair. Once certified, I knew my house would never be a good place to see people.

A couple of weeks before the final exam, my husband and I took a trip to his country. I brought everything with me to study but ended up not looking at it once. The information was already part of me. It felt good.

I bet it did. So, now you're certified. How do you actually combine your two, very different jobs? How does that work?

Somehow in my mind I am able to separate the careers. During the week from 9-5, I look like anyone in Corporate America. I carry a backpack, take the Metra and follow my job description.  At night and on weekends, I look like someone in complementary health in an established massage practice. The two jobs are only combined because they fit into one day. I work hard at making sure two don't commingle.

So you don't have those moments where you say to yourself, "Now, who am I right now and what am I supposed to be doing?" Do you have a game plan? In a perfect world, how would you order your life, professionally speaking?

I try to be me all the time, no matter where I am focused. If growth is happening in one area, it will permeate  all areas of my life. If I am weak in an area, all areas linked to that are weak as well. There are no moments where I ask, who am I right now? The question is, Am I where I want to be right now (professionally, spiritually, in relationships with family and friends, etc.)?  This is the question that forms my game plan.

The game plan is not completely solidified but here's the current order, without a timeline attached...
  • Continue to stay in Corporate America while furthering my education in Reflexology
  • Obtain as many possible certifications related to Reflexology that I can afford
  • Achieve/earn the honor of a minimum 20 reflexology clients a week
  • Go to Africa for three months and practice reflexology
  • Practice Reflexology in the US full time and continue growing in the Alternative Health arena
So it sounds like you're operating pretty much in keeping with your timeline, Brenda! How have you gone about building up your clientele at the massage practice?  Most people haven't even heard of reflexology and have absolutely no idea what it is.

Your questions speak to many levels.

The great thing about Reflexology is it speaks for itself. After a session, typically the recipient feels relaxed and is ready to schedule another session in the not so distant future.   If the person enjoys the session and benefits from the treatment, the honor of their return is motivating for me to continue on this path as both a student, teacher and practitioner.

Unfortunately, working full-time and continuing to take reflexology courses doesn't always leave a lot of time to build a practice.

What would be enough of a workload to enable you to leave corporate America behind?

An average of 20 clients a week. Can't wait but it will take a bit to obtain that type of schedule.

Yes, it's definitely a work in progress. What haven't we talked about yet, Brenda, that you'd like to cover?

Reflexology is a wonderful approach to treating the body holistically. Aside from the physical touch, the conversations and bond between the reflexologist and recipient can be sacred and inspiring. It is always an honor facilitating a session. This means Reflexology and I have the honor of being part of someone's journey towards homeostasis (equilibrium/balance).  

And who wouldn't want to be well-balanced? Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Brenda.  Reflexology is wonderful. 


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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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