Who taught you, mentored you, inspired you? I’ve been reflecting on time spent with my dear friend and mentor, Kay Rynerson, who passed last fall after a long battle with cancer and with whom my last real conversation happened a year ago today. When I first met Kay, I was in massage school, a time of my life accompanied with spiritual seeking and unpacking of personal experience and belief. Kay took me under her wing, acting as a guide and a witness during this formative time. I often wondered if Kay was a human or some type of guardian angel, as her seemingly perpetual energy and endless well of love and light indeed felt otherworldly at times. Kay was a massage therapist. She ran a private practice and spa that she built and operated out of her home. She had the wisdom and expertise of someone who has worked as a healer for several decades. When I injured my wrist doing some reckless maneuver on the monkey bars just months after embarking on my career in massage, Kay had me over to her place to teach me some techniques from the program she created, “Thumbs Free Massage”, that sought to prolong the longevity of bodyworkers’ careers by limiting the use of hands and eliminating the use of thumbs in table massage. She also gifted me this badass jade massage tool, which I still use in my practice today and that initiated my exploration of other implements to assist me in my practice. I would not be the bodyworker I am today without Kay.
Kay also opened her home and altar to me, offering me the peaceful space of meditation and reflection that I so desperately needed at the time. For months I joined Kay in early morning chants and prayers. She led by example, not with ego but with faith, and showed me what an authentic, disciplined and joyful spiritual practice looks like and the far reaching affects it can have. I have yet to meet another person with as much unapologetic and genuine trust in the universe and the cosmic laws therein. Though several generations separated myself and Kay, we hung out like old pals, often cooking meals for each other, exchanging massages or sharing stories over espresso and her criminally delicious gluten-free baked goods. She encouraged me to take a month-long solo trip to southeast asia, inspired me to ride my bike everywhere (I mean, if she could I could, right?) and instilled in me an unwavering hope that with intention and practice, anything is possible. She shared her time and her knowledge freely and though I only knew Kay for a few years, she had a substantial impact on my life in many ways. As I was receiving the email updates about the declines in her health, I was forced to face the fact that Kay was indeed human and like the rest of us could not escape the cycle of life and death. However, even with her physical presence gone from this earth, I still feel like I have a guardian angel looking over me. Thanks, Kay!