As I continue to share adventures about our 2015 trip to Thailand, I will be inter-weaving interviews with my former students who are joining me on this journey. My first interview was with Natalie Olton.

Natalie close-up

“I’ve heard that Thailand is called the ‘Land of Smiles,’ Shared Natalie Olton, as she leaned over the table with a stick of her chicken satay in her hand and her clever eyes shining excitedly. “I’ve always been a very smiley, bubbly person, and I’m really looking forward to being around other people who love to smile as much as I do.”

Twenty-eight year old Natalie has been a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) for almost six years, and she is a 2009 graduate of FLCC’s Therapeutic Massage and Integrated Health Care Program. A lifelong native of Palmyra, New York, Natalie grew up in a very lively household with five sisters and two brothers, one of which is a twin. She and her twin brother are the second youngest children in her family.

Natalie with sistersFor our interview, Natalie and I decided it would be fun (and fitting) to meet at a local Thai restaurant in Rochester, where we both currently reside.  As I watched Natalie enjoying her satay and her Thai fried rice, I could tell already that she will integrate into Thai culture with grace and ease. Natalie shared that when she first learned of the Thailand trip being offered that it seemed like the most exciting opportunity for her in to have in her life right now. “It seemed like such a unique opportunity to have a chance to learn a style of massage that so few massage therapists offer in Rochester,” said Natalie. “I literally decided the day I learned about the trip in Amy’s e-mail that I was going to Thailand. I completely just went with my gut, which rarely steers me wrong.” Natalie added in her interview how she felt strongly that visiting Thailand is just something she ‘needs to do’ in her life.

After practicing as an LMT for six years, Natalie has already gained her fair share of experience in the massage therapy field. She currently has her own part-time massage business in Palmyra, New York called ‘The Hara and the Heart.’ She primarily offers Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, pre-natal massage, and Shiatsu in her practice. Natalie is also certified in Reflexology, which she also offers. Soon, she’ll also be adding Thai massage to her menu of massage therapy services.

When reflecting on what originally sparked her interest to enter FLCC’s massage program eight years ago, Natalie shared that it was important for her to choose a career path in which she could help other people to feel good. “I’ve always been a nurturer, so bodywork seemed like a good fit for me.”  Once she began to start learning massage, Natalie found that the benefits she received reached far beyond just helping other people.  “I really feel like the massage program and being a massage therapist helps me to be a more centered and peaceful person in my life overall,” said Natalie.

Natalie’s nurturing nature led her to continue her training in Nursing after she finished massage school. “I went on to become an LPN after massage school as a way to supplement my massage career and income, and also continue to work to help people.” In addition to her massage practice, Natalie also works at Twelve Corners Pediatrics in Brighton, New York as a Lactation Counselor.

Prior to studying massage therapy, Natalie double-majored in Musical Theater and vocal performance at Westminster College in New Jersey. Although she decided that massage therapy is a better career path for her, Natalie continues to have a great love for singing, music, and theater.

For the past eighteen years, Natalie has been attending a children’s summer camp in Penn Yan, New York, first as a participant when she was a child, then later when she became a young adult, as a camp counselor. Natalie shared that the camp is an experiment in community. “The camp is a special place because it fosters a nurturing and accepting environment for kids who are ages ten through eighteen. They are taught about the importance of cooperation and to not to accept bullying or ever bully others.”

This multi-talented young woman has a few other hobbies she is passionate about as well. In the recent past, she was a member of an all-women’s roller-derby team. Natalie is also very passionate about baking and cooking, too. “Culinary school is also on my future list of things to do!” said Natalie enthusiastically. “Melting chocolate is one of the most soothing and relaxing activities for me.” I have a feeling Natalie will be able to add cooking Thai cuisine to her list of many talents soon!

Natalie baking

Well, if you haven’t gotten the impression that Natalie is adventurous yet, maybe you will after you watch this video of her eating Durian, which, although revered in the far East as being ‘the king of fruits,’ is rarely eaten or even tolerated by westerners. This is mainly due to its very strong smell which is often regarded as being quite a foul aroma. (I didn’t even realize she was videoing this when she offered some to me!).


If you would like to book a massage appointment with Natalie, contact her at 315-573-0213, and also ‘like’ her massage business page, The Hara and the Heart, on Facebook.


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