Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Health and Healing Start with a Wellness Mindset

A book about massage therapy that Tasha Perez, a native of Trinidad, found in her brother’s room lit the flame of a calling to help others feel better with massage therapy. Perez, now the owner of Quiet Waters Wellness Center at Wellbridges, in Bonita Springs, was just a teenager when she first pored over the photos and descriptions of how people used their hands to stroke, knead and tap the body to improve circulation, relieve pain and induce relaxation. “I was so drawn to the possibility of becoming a massage therapist that I used on my mom what I learned from that one book. Mom planted and raised a substantial amount of produce in her garden, which she sold locally in our community. After a long day of planting, weeding or harvesting, I so enjoyed giving her a massage to alleviate the pain and tiredness in her hands and back. Every time she told me how much better she felt, I was more inspired to become a professional therapist,” says Perez.

After Perez finished high school, her parents allowed her to go to school in the U.S. “I graduated at age 17 and attempted to enroll in massage school, but because the rule was that I had to be 18 years old, I instead enrolled at Edison Community College, which is now Florida SouthWestern State College. I stayed for a year and then signed up for the Florida Academy in Fort Myers,” she relates. “Although I graduated in 1995, I got distracted by life and didn’t take my state boards. I returned to school in 2000 to Florida College of Natural Health in Pompano, where I earned my associate degree in health sciences. I got my first big job in 2001 at the Ritz-Carlton Resort Spa in Naples. I still work there and see clients by appointment at my office in Wellbridges.”

Perez pursued her degree in Oriental medicine after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s Syndrome, another type of arthritis that attacks the muscles and causes joint pain. “After years of massage therapy and earning various certifications, my dream had evolved. I wanted to be a doctor of natural medicine, but I couldn’t pursue it because I had two young boys, and the schools that interested me were far away. My sister’s success with acupuncture treatments piqued my interest, and when I was diagnosed, I wanted another way to deal with the conditions other than prescription medications. My mom never relied on them. She brewed herbs for us when we were sick,” advises Perez, who is a recent recipient of a Master of Science Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine from the East West College of Natural Medicine, in Sarasota.

During her more than 16 years of practicing in the field of natural health, Perez has learned one sure thing—health and healing start with a wellness mindset. “It doesn’t matter what you choose as your medium for health care, it is your mindset that matters most. ‘Do you want to get well?’ is the first question I ask my clients. I do that because some people hold on to their illness. I don’t feel good about taking money from people that don’t want to get well or who aren’t willing to make the changes that will improve their health and their life,” enthuses Perez, who also realizes that faith is often part of that mindset. “I could never have accomplished what I have in my lifetime without the help and protection of God. Going to school while working and raising two children, studying and writing term papers after spending long hours in clinical practice and commuting between Fort Myers and Sarasota was often more than I was up for. Adding to the mix were the illnesses that put my livelihood in jeopardy. I prayed my way through most of those times and trusted that my outcome would be a positive one. Many people have to get out of their own way and put their lives in the hands of a higher power to make it through. I surely did.”  

Quiet Waters Wellness Center is located at 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 213, in Naples. For more information or to make an appointment, call 239-246-6622.

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