Gladys’ Story – Part III
Written by Gina King

You may have read about our Oregon School of Massage graduate, Gladys Walgren in
one of our previous blog posts. After nearly ten years we got the chance to reconnect with her to
get an update on her amazing story. Gladys graduated at the age of 72 in the year 2006.
Working diligently alongside her peers, Gladys got her massage license and went on to open
her own business, Graceful Hands in Tigard, Oregon. The inspiring story of Gladys’ journey
through school, managing the ups and downs of her business, and the connections she’s made
along the way, left many of us wondering what she has planned next.

Gladys’ business, Graceful Hands, was where she spent much of her time and continued
to make an impact on her community until her retirement in 2019. During her time at OSM
Gladys was able to help patients living with fibromyalgia, and some recovering from
chemotherapy. Once she began running her own business her clientele still consisted mostly of
people suffering from severe pain and stiffness. Gladys’ commitment to relieving pain and
tailoring each massage to the needs of her clients led her to be highly sought after in her field.
Her dedication to offering support to those in need, at a price they could afford led to scheduling
being the most challenging aspect of operating her small business. Gladys recalls having an
average of six massage appointments a day, each appointment being one to two hours long.
Although scheduling was the most challenging aspect, as most things in life, the hard parts lead
to the most reward. Gladys was able to connect with so many different people along her journey.
Gladys speaks fondly of not only the peers she befriended while in school at OSM, but the many
people she met once working as a licensed massage therapist. What may seem like a daunting task to
some, opening a business was the next logical step for Gladys. She recalled the process of
starting the business as tedious, but not anything too hard to handle. To further credit the power
of connecting with people, Gladys recounted an inspiring memory of a speech given at OSM by
an 84-year-old female entrepreneur, running her own massage business. To this day Gladys still
remains in touch with two of the coworkers she met during her time as a Massage Therapist, one even
calls her “mom” because of her loving and nurturing presence. Providing support for those in
need, and making meaningful connections is largely what sustained her interest in massage
over the years.

As Gladys has evolved through life, one thing remains constant and clear to her; her
calling in life is helping others. Without being able to pinpoint exactly where she gets her innate
gift to heal others, she states “doing what I do, is why I am here”. Gladys’ retirement came about
in a synchronistic way. Gladys leased a space in a friend’s salon, where they both mutually
supported one another. She was devoted to continuing leasing a space from her friend, even
staying with her through a relocation she knew might be challenging for her business. Gladys
was advised not to advertise due to the high cost of putting ads out, which in combination with
the relocation led to a downturn in business just as her massage license was to expire. She
decided instead of spending the money to renew the license and pay rent, she would retire a bit
early at the end of 2019. Perhaps karmically timed, this was just before the worldwide Covid-19
Pandemic started. Had Gladys decided to invest in renewing her license and lease, the
possibility of poor return on investments would have been much more probable during this time.
Although Gladys is no longer practicing massage in her retirement, her life remains busy and full
of compassion-based activities. Gladys now has ten grandchildren and twelve great
grandchildren, which help to make up a growing family of five generations. Gladys has found
herself in another position fulfilling her calling by becoming a caretaker. She plans to continue
caring for her friend, while managing their home with almost an acre of land. By staying
persistent throughout her education at OSM Gladys was able to hone her skills and turn her
passion into a fulfilling career after graduation. It’s clear that Gladys absolutely is gifted at
helping and inspiring others, and nothing in this world can keep her from doing so.

This is Part III of Glady’s story, recounting her journey as a student and Massage Therapist. To read
more about Gladys’s story, check the previous OSM blog posts:
Gladys’ Story – Deciding on a career in Massage, at 70.
Gladys’ Story – Part II – Thriving at 81

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