Family is a funny thing. You’re born into one and you grow up in one (fortunately or unfortunately), or maybe you don’t and you spend most of your life trying to find one, but what I’ve learned in my 33 years of life is that you also create your family.

In Hawaiian, “ohana” means family. It is one of their norms, one of their core values, it is how they perceive being a part of something greater. This is my story about how Ohana Wellness became part of my family.

Life is hard, it’s a lot of really tough moments, difficult decisions, awful conversations, mental and physical duress–all sprinkled with moments of light, love, and sun. Some of us, suffer more than others, it’s just the hand we get dealt. If it’s not work, it’s your love life, if it’s not your love life, it’s work, if it’s not either of those two, it’s your family, or your physical health, or your mental health, or someone you love who is suffering and you can’t help…you get my drift.

I have always been fascinated with the Hawaiian culture. The way they seem to thank the earth, the sun, the sky, the gods and goddesses that have given them that new day in paradise. The way they integrate their entire families into everything they do. The way they believe that they really do have everything they need right here, right now.  Regardless of your religion, there’s reverence there that should be respected. Disney’s Lilo & Stitch nailed the message around the word ohana: it’s not just that it means family, it means that nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

Many years ago, I too was looking for my ohana. Searching for something that I was convinced was lost, perhaps just not meant for me, or always within reach but never quite right. I did the traditional things that people do when they feel like they’re lost: they go searching for family in other places, cities, friends, lovers, strangers, career, etc.

It was on one of those days where I was desperately seeking ohana that I stumbled across Ohana Wellness.

It was what I refer to as a #universemoment.

#universemoment (definition): When the universe knows you are looking, searching,
seeking and sends you the signs you need to take care of yourself. When the universe
knows you need a reminder that there are things bigger than you out there at play.
When the universe is telling you that it’s got your best interest at heart.

In the midst of panic attack / nervous breakdown #84, I decided that maybe a massage would be helpful in making me feel cared for, safe, and that I would be okay. I have been living in the DMV area for more than 20 years now, and have been to my fair share of massage centers. I searched some generic search terms for “massage” and “Bethesda” and was stunned in finding Ohana Wellness. You see, I had become so obsessed with finding my ohana that I had been telling my boyfriend (now husband) that he was my ohana.

Such a strange twist of fate to see the words starting back at me, associated with “wellness.” I thought to myself – this…can’t be. I’ve worked down the street from this little gem for 9 years. I hadn’t known about them until about 3 years ago, that fateful afternoon.

My first massage was with Melanie. I call her my unicorn – because she is truly unique, one of a kind, and absolutely magical. If you’re a patron of Ohana Wellness, you also know that Melanie gets booked out at least 3 months in advance because she’s apparently a lot of people’s unicorn.

She had a last-minute cancellation that afternoon for the following day. #universemoment

I walked in expecting to fill out an intake form about my daily habits, exercise, what I do for a living, if I’ve had any surgeries, injuries, and where I experience pain. I did fill out the traditional intake form, but that was about the only traditional aspect for the rest of my experience.

I walked in to Ohana Wellness and was greeted with barefoot goddesses who smiled at me warmly and told me to take my shoes off so I could feel more grounded.

I walked into Melanie’s room and she sat me down and asked me what I was feeling, how I was doing, what I’m looking for. She gave me advice on loving myself as a woman, that I deserve the care I’m giving myself, and that it’s okay to have anxiety and to talk about it, and to learn how to manage it in whichever way works for me.

I walked out of Melanie’s room and sat down and cried in front of her. I could not remember the last time I had felt cared for so tenderly, so carefully, so authentically. I felt understood, I felt as if she sympathized, I felt as if she took my body in her hands (literally) and said, “I have you now.”

That is the feeling that every treatment, every massage therapist, every acupuncturist, every person you meet at Ohana Wellness gives you. It’s not a standard massage and wellness center. It is a sanctuary, it is a safe haven, it is the place where you can truly be in pain and truly be at peace simultaneously. 

I know that these amazing women have created a circle of support around me that transcends time and proximity. I know that whatever I sign up for at Ohana Wellness, I will leave feeling better than I did before. And I know that without them, I would not have a complete ohana.

Do yourselves a favor walk into this sanctuary, become part of the Ohana, and turn on that feeling of wellness for you and all that surrounds you.

To schedule an appointment, VISIT HERE.