By Jennie Zeitler
Sauk Centre native Sherry Olson spent 30 years of her professional life as a sales representative for the Peach. It was with some uncertainty that she turned the page on that chapter of her life and started a new one.
“It was time for something new,” she said.
After experiencing some chronic back pain, Olson became interested in massage therapy.
“I’d never had a massage, but it helped the pain,” she said. “I liked the relaxed feeling and became interested in doing massage work. I enjoy working with people, helping them.”
She attended a short program at the Touch of Life School in St. Paul, and has been doing part-time massage since 1995.
Being an ad rep means working with deadlines; it’s the nature of the job. But that can be stressful. “I could get stressed out at work and then come here and work on people,” said Olson. “It calms me down. It’s physically demanding but calming for my mind. That’s what kept me sane all these years.”
More recently, Olson felt the tug to transition into something even bigger.
“I felt the need to move into nursing,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in nursing and was ready for a change. It fit with massage and I thought I better do it now.”
Olson and her husband, Kim, are now empty nesters. They have three adult children and two grandchildren. Kim is thinking about going back to farming, renting out land while living on his parents’ farm. Olson wanted to make a change and get settled with it before he did.
She downsized her massage work, taking a smaller office in town. She enrolled in an intensive (10-month) licensed practical nurse (LPN) program at Alexandria Technical College.
“Now, I’m trying to balance my time while going to school and still doing some massage work,” she said.
Olson is very interested in working with veterans. Her son Jozy is an Iraq War veteran and Olson was very active with the Blue Star Mothers for a time.
“It was good to have that group of women for support while Jozy was in Iraq twice,” she said.
She is considering working at the VA Medical Center but is open to a lot of other possibilities.
“I’m still learning what’s available,” she said. “I’m interested in orthopedics too because of my massage background.”
Olson believes there are benefits to going back to school as an older student.
“I have more life experience and handle some things better,” she said. “It’s maybe easier connecting with people. I’ve experienced enough hard times that I can help people through hard times.”
She was surprised to find out that she made the Dean’s List during her first semester.
“I hadn’t even been watching my grades, so I didn’t know at first,” she said.
Olson maintains a variety of interests and activities for a balanced life. She has a huge perennial garden.
“It’s really relaxing to be out in the garden,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I find it very enjoyable.”
She is also active in her church.
“Being involved is something I got from my parents,” she said.
Making such a huge change at a time of life when many people are getting more settled was not something Olson took lightly.
“It was very scary,” she said. “But I really wanted to do it. I put it off for 10 years, but the feeling got to be so much stronger that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I thought God was probably looking at me, wondering how long I was going to wait.
“Change is usually good; it’s just hard to make the change,” said Olson. “I’m very confident that it’s a good thing for me. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the work.”