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Rebuilding her life

St. Cloud woman reinvents herself in her mid-40s

    When we think of the month of June, we think of many things:  Father’s Day, weddings and graduations are just a few.  But did you know that it is also Rebuild Your Life month?  Patti Broady is a good example of someone who is rebuilding her life by pursuing a dream:  going back to school in her mid-forties to begin a career as a certified massage therapist.

    When Patti and Dan Broady moved to St. Cloud from Duluth just two years ago, the plan was to find better job opportunities for both Patti and Dan and that Patti would be able to go back to school.  Patti had not gone to college after high school and wanted to be able to pursue her dream of becoming a massage therapist.  Having worked in the human services field for many years caring for people with disabilities, Patti decided to bring her love of helping people to a new level.  She had completed her general requirements in Duluth but found that specialty programs in Duluth were filled and had long waiting lists.  So Patti and Dan moved their entire household – consisting of two teenaged kids, two chihuahuas, two siamese/himalaya cats and a hamster – to St. Cloud, where they purchased a home and found jobs and a choice of educational opportunities.  After they got themselves established, Patti enrolled in the massage therapy program at Globe University/Minnesota School of Business in Waite Park.  She expects to graduate in December 2013.

    Going back to school to change careers in your mid-forties is hard enough, without throwing in another huge change, but that is exactly what Patti did.  Just before the scheduled move to St. Cloud, Patti made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery.  Weighing in at 312 pounds, Patti had almost abandoned her dream of becoming a massage therapist because of her weight.  She worried about having classmates practice massage on her.  Patti said she “didn’t want anyone to have to work on the fat lady.”

    The gastric bypass surgery was a big step, but Patti was committed.  And Patti’s husband, Dan was behind her all the way.  Patti and Dan joined a fitness center, working out almost every day. They also began bicycling, even biking to work and school in good weather. Family outings are often biking or walking excursions. Patti hopes to teach her kids healthy habits as well, setting the kind of example she hopes they will learn from.

    In less than two years, Patti has lost over 120 pounds and is keeping it off.  She is happy with her current weight but still hopes to take off a few more pounds and is currently working on toning her muscles.

    Patti has found her full-time school schedule to be a big lifestyle change. Taking 16 credits and still managing to work 20+ hours a week is a lot to handle – not to mention being the mother of two teenagers.

    Her husband Dan has been very supportive, taking on extra hours in order to pay for the additional items Patti needs for school.  As Dan says, “It’s good that she’s going back. You can always put it off, find a better tie, etc., but we’re not getting any younger.”

      Dan and the kids have taken on additional chores, as well.  “Lynzie cooks for me a lot,” said Patti, referring to her 17-year-old daughter.  “Otherwise, I might not eat – and I do need to eat.”

    In fact, Patti has to be careful about her diet. She needs to make sure to get a certain amount of protein in her diet, since protein malnutrition is a risk for those who have had gastric bypass surgery.  There are also certain types of food that are harder for her to digest, so she keeps a close watch on what she eats.

    Patty has found her coursework to be “difficult, but informative.”

    She loves what she is learning to do because she loves making people feel good.  Patti says she has always enjoyed helping people and making others feel better.  She remembers when she was just a little girl and her older brother got in trouble with their parents.  It was Patti who went to him, hugged him, and told him it would be OK.

    “I am a caregiver,” says Patti.  “I just enjoy helping others.”  That is why she loves doing massage – because she “enjoys making other people feel better.”

    As part of learning massage therapy, Patti offers free or cut-rate massages to friends and neighbors. She does not charge since she is not yet a certified massage therapist, but she will accept donations or tips. Patti hopes to start her own business in massage therapy, perhaps sharing a building or renting space from a salon or other business.  She also expects to do massages in people’s homes, and has begun to set up her business, called In-Home Massage.

    She has already created business cards, brochures and flyers with coupons for special discounts, including new customer discounts and a discount for referring a client.  Patti expects to specialize in Swedish massage, myofascial release and deep tissue massage in her in-home business.  She will add hot-stone massage, reflexology and body wraps once she has a location with enough space for the other modalities.

    Planning ahead, Patti says that once she has become established, she would love to own a large spa facility which specializes in massage therapy.  She imagines a peaceful and quiet location in the country, with beautiful views and space for many massage rooms.

    In the meantime, Patti has a massage table in her living room, where she gives massages to family and friends and practices what she has learned. Globe University/Minnesota School of Business also offers free or reduced-price massage events for area residents. Massage Therapy students are encouraged to volunteer, which gives them a chance to practice what they’ve learned and allows them to interact with potential clients, community members and business owners in the area. The free massage events also promote the school and bring in new students.

    “I am always looking for people who want a massage so I can practice my techniques,” says Patti.

    Going back to school hasn’t been easy for Patti and her family. A job change for Patti to a less demanding part-time schedule has reduced their income; unexpected bills have come up; the family budget is a little tighter than it was in the past.

    Patti has considered taking time off school so she can work more hours and catch up on bills.  She has also been looking for scholarships to help with the cost of her education, so as to keep her debt load to a minimum.  But Patti knows that, difficult as this lifestyle change has been, she will achieve her goal.  She has been lucky to have lots of support from family and friends.  Patti especially gives her husband, Dan, lots of credit for his support, both monetary and emotional.

     “Dan has really been great,” she says.  “I couldn’t do it without him.  He is my rock.”

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