When they first married, massage therapist Sarah Johnson and her husband, Driggs Mayor Hyrum Johnson, made a vow: we will be a family that pursues our dreams. A plan emerged, one that they have lived by ever since: they would each get five years to pursue a dream, any dream, no matter whether it made money or not. They would take turns being the go-to parent for their three kids while the other was bread-winning. When Sarah joined Body Sage Spa, it was her turn at bread-winning, but the experience might have changed her dreams, and the deal, forever.
Surprisingly, becoming a massage therapist wasn’t Sarah’s dream at all. In college, she saw a massage therapist as a last resort when intense stress caused her jaw to lock. After several sessions and great improvement, it was that massage therapist who told Sarah she saw something in her.
“She said, ‘You really should get certified as a massage therapist,’ and I immediately said, ‘No way! I’m not a touchy-feely person.'”
But the massage table, which Sarah hadn’t been thrilled about getting on in the first place, had become a place of healing, and Sarah knew she wanted to help others heal. Massage therapy school became her next dream.
When the family moved to Driggs, Idaho, in 2008, it was Sarah’s turn to breadwin. She was immediately offered a couple of jobs, but the one at Body Sage Spa at the Rusty Parrot Lodge stood out.
“I took this job because it terrified me,” Johnson says. “I’d never done the spa stuff, just therapeutic massage.”
Sarah quickly learned that there was no reason for her fear, thanks largely, she says, to the spa’s owner, Heidi Harrison.
“Heidi’s philosophy about massage is one of the things I love most about this job, her commitment to the client,” Johnson says. “She does full-hour massages, where most places only do 50 minutes so they can book a massage every hour.”
Body Sage Spa also offers custom massage, allowing the therapist to use any type of technique necessary to help the client.
“That’s important,” Johnson says, “Because while 99 percent of people carry stress in the shoulders, it’s not the shoulders I need to relax—it’s the person. You have to understand the
stress. Is it physical, emotional, spiritual, or all three? You have to listen before you know how to help heal.”
Sarah’s turn at bread-winning is almost up, but for the first time, she might take a different route. Though she has a degree in recreation management and still aspires to work in that industry again one day, right now, she feels right at home. “As long as my hands and my body hold out, I might just stick around,” she says.