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Everyday people: French trades in teaching for massage therapy

Marci French has been a massage therapist at Acacia Studios in Cannon Falls for four years. French also has a teaching degree and taught middle school English for three years.

CANNON FALLS -- Marci French didn't intend to be a massage therapist. Instead, the Nebraska native started her career in a completely different field: English education.

"It was a really good experience," French said of teaching.

After earning her undergraduate degree in Lincoln, Neb., French moved to Minneapolis to live in a "big city" for a while. She ended up taking a job for a mail-order company that specialized in books, games and other creativity-focused products, which is where her career path began to turn.

"They had a section on wellness," French said. "I found myself reading those when it was slow."

Then, right around 1990, French's friend moved back to Minneapolis from the East Coast after earning her massage certification.

It was the push French needed to become certified.

French enrolled in the Centerpoint School of Massage and began taking night classes that covered topics such as anatomy and pathology. But she still needed a way to make money during the day.

That's when French began teaching English.

"I was going to use that degree," she said.

For the next year, French taught English at a school for Native American students. She said the school's goal was to help preserve culture and teach students things like native languages as well as English.

"I do like the classroom," French said. "I do like kids."

But after a few years teaching, she decided it was time for a change. She starting working as a massage therapist for a studio near downtown Minneapolis and built up a large clientele.

Then in 2001, French's husband, Keith, who is a teacher, was hired by Cannon Falls Schools and the couple relocated. French's plan was to do massage out of her home.

There was one problem: An old city ordinance stipulated that massage therapy had to be done in a studio. French worked with the Cannon Falls City Council to update the ordinance.

"They were open to getting that fixed," she said.

But once a new ordinance was in place, French found that she no longer needed it. Quill and Quilt Bed and Breakfast in Cannon Falls hired her to do massages for their guests, a job she held for six years.

Four years ago, French moved to her current position at Acacia Studios. The downtown Cannon Falls business offers a variety of services, from massage and acupuncture to yoga and meditation. It also employs more than half a dozen other massage therapists and instructors.

"I never had colleagues," French said, adding that she really enjoys the camaraderie. "I've had people to discuss things with and get ideas from."

"This has been a perfect place to end up," she said.

That's a sentiment French seems to share for her field of massage therapy as well.

"It's so in the moment for me," she said. "I can be focused on another human being and send out a ripple of calm. Nothing else seemed as satisfying."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.