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A letter of gratitude from Amanda

This week my blog is dedicated to gratitude and I have so many people that I have to thank. I apologize in advance if I start to sound like an actor accepting an award and thanking everyone they have ever encountered throughout their acting career. I get it now though. This place I am in my life is by far the best place I have been and it would have been impossible to get exactly here without every single person that I have encountered throughout my career. Cue music to get me off stage.

What place am I referring to? This place where I get to come to an office every day that is mine. This place where I can work from home. This place where I can treat clients and help them to feel their best. This place where I get to teach RMTs, Kinesiologists, and Personal Trainers from all over Ontario-and believe it or not sometimes outside of this province. This place where I can hang out with my best friend and record podcasts with new and interesting guests every couple of days. This place where I can just sit with my coffee and laptop and write. And this place where I can enjoy my children and family and show them that you can make a living doing all the things you love. I love my life right now and I am so grateful for everyone who continues to make it better and better.

ConEd Institute was a dream about 5 years ago. Mark and I were approached by a retired chartered accountant with a passion for teaching. At the time, both myself and Mark were working in formal Massage Therapy education and I also had a private practice in Toronto. This accountant had this idea of creating a course for RMTs to learn business. Little did he know, Mark and I had been dabbling with this idea. Working at a college, we recognized where the gaps were in formal education and we thought it would be so much fun to develop courses to help RMTs improve their practice. This was it- the start of ConEd. We worked with this accountant and many other experts to develop the RMT business seminar. The response was incredible. From there, Mark went on to develop his second course- Advanced joint mobilizations. Within a few weeks of creating the course, he came up with the idea to form a continuing education company, called ConEd Institute, which we wanted to become the standard for Continuing Education. Our mission statement, which has evolved over the years, says that we want to contribute to the highest quality of healthcare throughout our global community. So to the Accountant who saw potential in us, and gave us the push to start along our path to Continuing Education, I thank you. And to the other experts who were involved in the RMT Business Seminar, I thank you.

Owning a small business is hard. Very hard. Unfortunately, our world is saturated with big box stores and corporations who essentially monopolize the market for all goods and services. This means that all small business owners have to hustle and work their butts off to even come close to becoming a household name. ConEd Institute became our baby at the end of 2015 when we decided to go full force into this. Mark left his job to put his soul into creating amazing courses for you all. He spent hours and hours on research and creating content, and talking to RMTs, Kins, and trainers to see what you wanted to learn. To this day he spends hours on social media platforms and going to networking events-all for the mission. For this and so many other things, I have to thank him. But I will get to that. The people I really want to thank are the RMTs, RKins, and Personal trainers who have taken our courses, who have been repeat students, who recommend us to their friends and colleagues, who take the time to give us constructive feedback so we can continue to improve, and who like and share and interact with us on social media. I thank you.

I cannot ignore my clients. I love teaching so so so much. My first job out of university was in personal training. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my kin degree but I knew that I wanted to teach others what I knew. It was very concerning to me that our bodies, which are with us for our entire lives, are one aspect of the world that most of us know surprisingly little about. Things that just made sense to me were not so clear to people who did not study human anatomy, physiology, pathology, or biomechanics. So when I began training, the thing I enjoyed most was being able to empower clients with knowledge. I sound so super cheesy right now but it really did give me the greatest sense of accomplishment when a client would say “yes that makes so much sense”. It may just be in healthcare professionals, or maybe this is human nature, but I wanted my career to be one in which I could have this feeling of helping people all the time. But I didn’t feel that personal training was the answer. I will spare you the details of how Massage Therapy crept in, but when it did, that was it. I felt that this was exactly what I should be doing. I could use my knowledge, use my desire to help people, use my passion to teach, and use my skills I had learned as a trainer. Once I became a RMT, I had to get clients of course. I could have never imagined I would have been so lucky. I have met some of the best people, and some that have even stuck with me through multiple changes in location (sometimes even across the city), two maternity leaves, and constant changes in availability to accommodate my family and my other business- ConEd. Of course some clients have had to move on. But it still amazes me when I get a call or email from someone who was referred to me by a past client. Or clients who maybe do not have the time, money, or means to continue seeing me regularly, your support from afar by sharing my information, my social media posts, my blogs and podcasts, never goes unnoticed. So to my clients, past and present, I thank you.

Here we are, going on 4 years since Mark and I decided to venture off on our own and create a business we loved, and things keep getting better. We recently decided to take on another project that we had been dabbling with- the podcast. As I have said over and over, I love teaching. First and foremost education is our passion. We just wanted another platform to be able to share knowledge. When Mark approached me with this idea of podcasting, we weren’t even sure what we would talk about. He asked me, what should we call it? Half jokingly I said well we are just two Massage Therapists and all I can hear in my head is that Beck song so I keep singing to myself 2 Massage Therapists and a Microphone. He got that look on his face. The look I have seen many times over the last decade. The look that something was about to be born. Mark always says he is an idea guy. I disagree- which I have never said openly to him. He actually is an execution man. He has an idea that he knows is something good and he runs with it. Even before we knew exactly what we wanted this podcast to be, he had bought the mics, created the platform, and was recording our introductory episode. Since that first episode, we have recorded 42 episodes with many more lined up. To all of our guests who have taken time out of your own busy lives to rap with us, I thank you. To our listeners who continue to listen, share, subscribe, and reach out to us with your comments, I thank you.

As I said, owning a small business is hard. We recorded a podcast with a small business owner who said “In the beginning stages there is no such thing as balance”. This is true. We are our business. But with that said, we have the freedom to shuffle things around to suit our life. Over the years there have been really high highs. But of course that also means there have been very low lows. I wouldn’t change any of that. The lows serve their purpose. They have pushed us harder, kept us humble, and forced us out of our comfort zones and steered us away from becoming complaisant. In these times where things got rough, we have had our fair share of well meaning friends and family who have suggested that we just go get jobs. That is always an option. We are RMTs. There will always be a clinic job around the corner. The problem with that is that, like anything in life, if I give up the moment that shit gets really tough, my goals will never be anything more than dreams. Some may see it as irresponsible seeing that I have two children. Shouldn’t I be making sure I have security and stability and the means to provide these two with everything they deserve? Well I believe I am doing that. I want my kids to see beyond getting an education and getting a job. I want them to truly believe that they can create their future. I want them to look up to their mom who makes sure they are not only taken care of, but being offered the best parts of childhood- a happy, healthy mother who spends quality time with them daily, and also works like a boss at a career she truly loves. To my friends and family who have offered guidance and support during this rollercoaster, I thank you. To my girls for whom everything I do is for, I thank you.

As promised- to Mark. I cannot actually put into words the gratitude I have for this man (who is actually taking a power nap beside me in the office while I type because he has been working tirelessly to get the next 3 podacst episodes published). Mark had this vision to create a business of his own. He actually wasn’t even sure exactly what it should be. He knew he wanted to educate, he knew he wanted to help people, and he knew he wanted to challenge formal models of education (another part of ConEd’s mission statement). He needed someone to push him, to be in his corner, to be his soundboard, his editor, his therapist at times, and his partner in crime. I was all in to do this. It takes a lot of trust, and respect, and patience to work with someone as closely as we have and still do, and I am very grateful that he wanted to do this with me. What we have built here was really all because of him. He has an idea, and may even know how to get it off the ground, but just needs a little fire lit under him sometimes. I am in awe of what he has accomplished and I am so proud to be the other therapist at 2 RMTs, the other RMT holding the microphone, and the sometimes silent partner at ConEd Institute. So to Mark, I thank you.

Is my life or my career perfect? Nope. Do I have daily challenges? Yep. Would going to get a job with salary and benefits sometimes be easier? Yep. Am I exactly where I want to be in my life in terms of my family, my relationships, my career, my finances, my fitness, my hobbies? Nope nope nope! But I am grateful. There will be a time when I look back at where I am now and I will be proud of how far I have come. But until then, all I can say is I am coming. I am getting there. And I am enjoying every minute of getting there. So for this I guess I should say to myself, I thank you.

Amanda Cooke, RMT


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