I came to America from Israel when I was in my late 40s. All I possessed were a few treasured keepsakes, a thousand dollars, my ten strong fingers (of course they came attached to my body) and a massage table. It was after September 11th, 2001, and getting a visa was more difficult than ever. After many efforts and finally armed with a competent immigration attorney and a lot of courage, I started my journey (or should I more honestly say, my ordeal).
Looking back now I don’t know where all my perseverance came from as I accepted the reality of being an illegal immigrant. I–honorable Evita, illegal?? OY VEY!! That was not acceptable in my world. After all, I had studied for five years at Reidman International College of Alternative Medicine in Tel Aviv and did my first teaching there. I was a professional and yet now I found myself living in my first New York “home” – a small, hot and humid basement apartment with a shower that leaked into the bedroom, a carpet that was always wet and smelled like a catacomb, fellow roommates better known as bedbugs, drug-addicted neighbors who screamed from morning to night, and my job working in a “slave” spa. (Please don’t ask me how much they paid me.) And then there was the sudden fire that consumed some of the objects from my past life that I had turned to when I arrived home at night, mementos which had given me solace and hope in those first months.
I moved, of course, and I slowly made a few good friends and built up a list of regular clients. I can happily say they were pleased with my massages, healing skills and sincere commitment to my profession. And these same people were often so generous and helpful in my struggle to reach legality.
Now I have my green card and look happily toward my future citizenship. I have been dedicated to creating realistic and positive goals and to saving and planning, and today I live in my very own cozy condo in Larchmont, New York.
Now I have a private practice with more than a hundred clients.
If you are passionate about something like I am about my practice, and if you are confident and believe in yourself about your ability to be the best, just go for it!
If I could do it, you can do it too!
Evita Dodel was born in Montevideo,Uruguay and moved to Israel with her family as a teenager, then to the US in 2003. You can find her on Linkedin.