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Where it began

Chris Shirley

Pacific Institute of Reflexology

Chris Shirley

Chris Shirley, founder, Pacific Institute of Reflexology

• We are pleased to introduce a new column in Common Ground. In recognition of the individuals and businesses making a difference in their communities, “Where It Began” will feature their unique stories about how they got started. We hope you enjoy their offerings.

When I was asked to write on this topic my immediate response was, “My God, that seems so far back, it is completely foggy.” However, it was not long before it all came back to me. I had just completed two years of post-graduate studies in counselling at the University of Victoria and I had moved to Vancouver to “get a job.” I knew only one person in Vancouver – Ricki, a fellow UVic graduate who had moved to the city a few months prior. One Sunday morning, I had nothing to do and nowhere to go so I gave Ricki a call. She was on her way out the door, but extended an invitation for me to join her at the Kit’s Day Celebration event. At Connaught Park, Ricki had a pup tent set up with a reflexology chart displayed on the side. Well, it didn’t make any sense to me; no one has a liver in their foot! But I was curious. Not wanting to display my ignorance in front of Ricki’s friends – who had all come to support her at this event – I waited until everyone had left before asking Ricki about reflexology. Her response was so nonchalant I began to wonder if she was a medicine woman and my interest was piqued.

Months went by and the topic of reflexology frequently arose in conversations, keeping my curiosity alive. After about three years, I was feeling a bit burned out in my work assisting children and their families, and political circumstances conspired for me to become unemployed. One day, after my regular swim at the Aquatic Centre, while indulging in a meditative sauna, I overheard two teenagers talking loudly as they approached. Much to my chagrin, they entered the sauna and continued their conversation as if I didn’t exist. But I realized they were talking about reflexology! One of them mentioned Laura Kennedy, a reflexologist who had come up in conversations I had had with other people. I made a mental note of her name and decided to look her up that very day. I called and went to her home where I experienced my first reflexology session. It was amazing.

I returned for many sessions with Laura and during one session a woman asked her about a course she was teaching. After the woman left, I learned from Laura that she was teaching reflexology evening courses and that I could attend. Wow, I could actually learn how to do this magnificent therapy. I signed up right away. On the last evening of the course, Laura gave us a test. Unfortunately, I had a conflicting engagement that night so I repeated the course in order to complete it. My path into developing the Pacific Institute of Reflexology had begun.

Chris Shirley has operated the Pacific Institute of Reflexology since 1982. The Institute is located at 535 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver and offers reflexology training courses, reflexology products, resources and student and professional reflexology clinics., 604-875-8818 or 1-800-688-9748.

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