“All of this has had a way of stripping down the fluff, exposing the core of who we are. We can choose to become stronger and a better version of ourselves on the other side of this… I feel strongly it is a choice to do and be better human beings; acknowledging our faults, and doing our best to treat others with the love, kindness, and respect we want for ourselves.”
Megan O’Connor originally grew up in Montana, moving out to LA just two days after her high school graduation to start at a private arts college to study interior design. She went through a “maze of finding her true calling” by working for an interior designer, selling bath and kitchen supplies at Expo Design Center, serving coffee to Brad Pitt and crunching numbers for a production studio, cocktail waitressing, studying at SMC to then transfer and complete her Bachelors in Psychology at UC Berkeley, working for a family office, behavioral therapy tutoring for children with special needs, then losing her job with the market crash in 2009 — and finally going to massage school.
From there, she has worked in all settings from spas, hotels, celebrity homes, private clubs, high end gyms, sporting events, chiropractic offices, health fairs, and found her perfect fit with outcalls in client’s homes and offices.
As someone who works in such a hands-on field, Megan stresses the importance of respecting the current regulations surrounding safety protocols in Los Angeles and across the world.
“Since my dad died of the virus after over a month in the ICU, I felt an extra ethical obligation to do my part to ensure I was doing everything possible to prevent anyone else from going through this horrible infection.” Megan states. “My heart goes out to the other families who have lost someone like mine has to something I see as very preventable.”
Megan has been keeping active to stay healthy both mentally and physically, and learning new skills through courses such as photography and even a flying lesson. “Relating to my field I have felt tremendous support from my certification board (CAMTC) and professional membership (AMTA) have been wonderful about providing up to date communication, resources, free CE classes, webinars and training classes relating to COVID-19 and new protocols… I am a part of a nationwide Facebook group built as a resource and support to massage therapists in this new era of this virus.” Megan shares.
Read more about Megan’s COVID Chronicle story from Santa Monica, California, below:
Can you tell us a bit about your massage practice — how long have you been in this field, and what inspired you to become a CMT?
“I had my first massage when I was 16, by winning a gift certificate for raising money for my ballet studio. The experience was so life changing that it stuck with me. I have always been a care-taker and remember wanting to help my mom when I was only 2-1/2 while she was pregnant with my sister. Despite knowing this, I have a lot of interests and even in college had a hard time narrowing down a desired career path.
It wasn’t until I lost my job doing bookkeeping for a family office in the market crash that I was given the opportunity to find a career I really loved. It was then I started massage school and everything seemed to click. It was the perfect combination of everything I loved: being active, music, dance, art, physiology, kinesiology, constant variety, helping make a difference for others, seeing noticeable improvements after just one session in how someone feels, and the problem solving skills that come with prioritizing what to “fix” in the allotted session time.”
Has this pandemic experience in any way changed the way that you order your personal or professional priorities in life?
“The pandemic has been a lesson in patience, humility, and learning to go with the flow. I received notice my business was non-essential March 16th. I was not allowed to work with risk of losing my license, and/or being fined until June 19th. However, the notice was only given the day prior and I had a lot to do in order to make sure I, and my client’s health and safety were considered.
Since my dad died of the virus after over a month in the ICU, I felt an extra ethical obligation to do my part to ensure I was doing everything possible to prevent anyone else from going through this horrible infection. There was a lot to consider, even now legally allowed by CA and the County of LA massage requires skin to skin contact and social distancing isn’t possible. I have been tuned in daily to the virus rates and news as well.
I restarted work on July 6th. It was then on the 13th that Gov Newsom gave the order many indoor activities, massage included, could only resume if operations could be modified to resume outdoors. Moving forward, things are subject to change again.”
What would you recommend as someone who works in a hands-on field of work, to protect yourself against the virus — and protect others around you?
“I think it is important for everyone to come to terms with pre-pandemic life as a thing of the past. Expectations need to and should be adjusted. Nothing is constant, and now more than ever we are truly facing many uncertainties. It is really important to stay informed and up to date on what your local state, county, and practice guidelines are requiring since new information and studies are changing the landscape we live and work in.
At the very least I strongly feel that everyone should be wearing a mask outside of their homes, socially distancing, and washing their hands often to do the bare minimum to help flatten the curve. If I had my way the whole country would have done this starting in January and followed the stay at home orders sooner. My heart goes out to the other families who have lost someone like mine has to something I see as very preventable.”
What has been your general daily routine so far during the pandemic, and what have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
“I believe having a routine is very helpful during these crazy times. I have an alarm clock named Mac [Megan’s pup, pictured below!]. He wakes me up by 7am at the latest every morning. We start our day with an hour walk/ run. In fact we spend a lot of time outside, averaging 7 miles a day.
I have started a daily meditation practice. (Thanks Headspace for the free year subscription for unemployed people) I have loved reading and listening to podcasts and audiobooks – currently at 19 books read/ listened to since March. Being active also is a part of my daily routine whether it be Pilates, running, bike rides, or hikes.
Classes have also been really helpful to stay busy. I have done a couple massage continuing education courses, HR management class, photography composition, and introduction to sports pilot’s license/flying lesson. I have also loved drawing and coloring, cooking, baking, going to the beach, and finding new funny shows to watch on amazon.
It has been especially nice doing socially distanced dates with friends once the safer at home order was lifted in the form of hikes, bike rides, picnics, botanical gardens, coffee dates etc. I appreciate the time I have had to catch up more with family and friends over the phone, FaceTime, and zoom as well.”
What has your local community been doing to fight the rate of transmission, and do you think this is enough?
“The City of Santa Monica has been great with their communication to businesses and following the County of LA guidelines. Relating to my field I have felt tremendous support from my certification board (CAMTC) and professional membership (AMTA) have been wonderful about providing up to date communication, resources, free CE classes, webinars and training classes relating to COVID-19 and new protocols etc. I have taken part in a seven day webinar and am a part of a nationwide Facebook group built as a resource and support to massage therapists in this new era of this virus. I even found calling 211 and speaking to someone with the city a valuable resource!
I do feel that an area of needed improvement is the county’s ability to regulate and stay on top of businesses and practitioners following the new protocols. I know a handful of therapists and businesses who have continued to work during the safer at home orders. It makes the rest of us look bad who are following the rules and does not help stop the spread of the virus and get past this much sooner.”
Anything else you’d like to share?
“I think these last few months have really been a time we have been forced to go inward, examine ourselves and who we are at our core without the schedules and distractions we normally have. All this has had a way of stripping down the fluff, exposing the core of who we are. We can choose to become stronger and a better version of ourselves on the other side of this.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my ‘off days’ and moments, but overall I feel strongly it is a choice to do and be better human beings; acknowledging our faults, and doing our best to treat others with the love, kindness, and respect we want for ourselves.”
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