Thalia Cunningham is the newest therapist at Northwest Medical Massage.
Thalia has been a massage therapist for 30 years.
“As a child, my mother would always ask me to massage her shoulders - she said I had ‘good hands,’” Thalia said. “I saw that a local massage therapist was giving evening courses on massage. I took it and enjoyed it thoroughly.”
After graduation from college, she enrolled in the Education curriculum to teach Mathematics but had to consider a Student Teaching position in English as there wasn't anyone qualified in Mathematics.
“As I dreaded a future in sentence structures, I saw an ad in the local massage therapy school and enrolled,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to complete my Hawaii pre-licensing requirements by mentoring with Carole Oliveira of Professional Massage Therapy in my home town (Hilo, Hawaii). Loved her therapeutic techniques! After obtaining my license, Carole offered me a position with her that allowed me to accept a lecturing position in Mathematics at the University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus. I learned a lot with Carole, staying with her until leaving for Tucson.”
Thalia and her daughter moved to Tucson in 1995. She also has a husband and two grandchildren.
“I wish I would’ve known then that I’d want more children now,” she said, laughingly.
She has a cat named Gracie, AKA Gracie Round Tummy Cunningham.
“(Gracie) likes to talk, easy going on everything including bath and pill time. Formerly Chanel, formerly Kitty. Sweetest disposition! Heartbroken, we adopted her when she was 2 years old after Stormy (part Maine Coon) passed. "Russian Blue with papers." The papers were Humane Society intake papers. But, we were heartbroken and renamed her Gracie because she's Gray, see? We're her fifth home – 5 homes by the time she was 2 years old! We think it was her IBS and thankfully she's recovered. She is our baby who turned 15 on June 8.”
There are more furry and not-so-furry babies in the Cunningham Clan.
“I also have a grand-dog named Sumo and 2 grand-rabbits named Tofu and Totoro. Sumo is supposed to be a purebred Yorkie but his ‘hair’ is ‘wiry.’ My daughter says he's a 'Craigslist Yorkie.’ We also have a grand-crayfish who was rescued from Lee Lee's. His/Her name is ‘Beefy.' He wants to fight,” Thalia said.
Her funniest story about massage in Arizona?
“I drove to an outcall through a monsoon – it was treacherous. I watched the other cars go through as the water rushed over the road, gaining confidence to cross as well. When I reached my client's home, I found that their backyard was flooded. We watched as the water rose above their patio and threatened to enter their home. We ran into the pouring rain to fashion a trench that drained the backyard. Now safe from the flooding, I was able to borrow some clothes to finish the massages while my clothes dried. Some people just make any old excuse to play in the rain!”
Thalia is a real do-it-yourself kind of gal, using her sweat equity in her home to unwind.
“I just shovel tons of 1" Apache Red, place tons of 6-8" Catalina rocks, and install PVC drip irrigation. Hopefully I don't have to paint anymore or clean the house but that's wishful thinking,” she said.
She also does a lot of problem solving on the internet, researching anything and everything that interests her.
She has quite a few hobbies including piano (I took lessons from the 1st to the end of the 8th grade. I can still play most of my classical pieces and have added contemporary ones. But, I don't practice enough so I make a lot of mistakes.), ukulele (I am a former member of the Waiakea Intermediate School Ukulele Band. Unfortunately, I can only play a couple of the many songs and am wondering how to get a "refresher." I might have to go back home to middle school!), Clash of Clans (I have 6 bases, 3 at the maximum Co-Leader levels), ballroom dancing (West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Waltz, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Night Club 2-Step, Salsa, some Fox Trot and some Samba), gardening (roses, tomatoes, peppers, bearded iris, cacti, ocotillo, landscaping), and the internet.