She lives in a little house by the river on the outskirts of Manhattan, but her house is not the only thing that stretches beyond the lines. She lives her life a little outside the lines as well.
“I have lived alternatively,” Sandy Snyder says, describing how she once lived in a school bus, which was the birthplace of both of her sons. She has been a gold miner and has lived in a log cabin, teepee, and most recently, in a traditional house.
Enter Snyder’s home–you can hear her three birds chirping and whistling at you. Her dog leaps to greet you as one of her eight cats meows at you from around the corner.
She is building a cob house–a style of architecture that uses mud and straw. A style that has no 90-degree angles.
“I like the fact that it doesn’t have any straight lines,” she says with a smile.
Describing the process of building the house, her blue eyes light up, contrasting her ash gray hair, which is pulled back in a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck. She compares the technique of preparing the mud to something she knows very well–massage.
Snyder is a massage therapist who works out of her home. She sets her own schedule and says she enjoys not having to be in a office from 9 to 5. She likes her situation, she says, because she has control of her career.
She doesn’t advertise. All of her clients are from word of mouth.
“I’ve never advertised,” Snyder says. “I’ve never needed to–I’ve just been so blessed and so lucky that whatever modalities of pain relief I use work so well.”
Snyder says she massages many couples and families. The Schrolls are one of those families.
Rusty Schroll has been seeing Snyder since a motorcycle accident in 1996. He says she has helped him make significant progress with his injury.
Snyder also massages Rusty’s sister Kristy. Kristy likes Snyder’s non-conformity.
“In a society where we are told what to think and what to believe, she dares to question and make up her own mind,” Kristy says.
Massage is something Snyder stumbled upon 30 years ago after meeting a woman in Portland, Oregon, who was gathering people to learn massage. Bored with previous jobs (conventional positions like secretary and business assistant), she says beginning massage was a turning point in her life because it was something different–something unusual.
She also seemed to have a knack for healing from the very start.
“Even from the beginning it was amazing how much the people were affected,” Snyder says. “Whatever it was, it was definitely where I was supposed to go.”
Snyder uses a compression technique rather than traditional methods such as Swedish massage. She says this allows the body to release toxins, which aids the healing process.
Snyder also uses the energy between her and her patient to add to the massage.
“The energy of the two kind of mixes and joins,” she says. “It’s an energy combination where you are working together and you are one.”
Massage, Snyder says, is simply a way to help the body with its natural process of regeneration.
“There is a consciousness in every cell,” she says. “Massage gets the impediments out of it.”
Some of her clients say Snyder has a relaxing demeanor.
“Every time you leave she wants to give you a hug,” Shirley Degenhardt says. “It’s just a really calming environment.”
Rusty Schroll thinks Snyder’s house is calming as well.
“I think it’s a lot more relaxing that she does it out of her house instead of a clinic or something,” he says.
Prior to having her own business, Snyder had worked in spas, chiropractic offices and beauty salons.
She says she likes her current situation better because massage therapy is an independent career where one does not have to answer to others.
“It’s like being an artist,” she says.
Snyder also says she enjoys taking responsibility for herself.
“My work speaks for itself,” she says. “I just want to be recognized for what I do and don’t want to be associated with a business.”
In the future, Snyder says she couldn’t imagine doing anything but massage as a career. She does say, however, that she would prefer to be “independently wealthy” in order to offer more options to her clients.
“I could give them so much more if I wasn’t just one person hand-in-pocket,” she says. “I just wish we had more available.”
Above all, Snyder says she just wants to help people heal.
“I’d do it even if I didn’t have to do it to make money,” she says. “There’s enough hurt and pain and if you can help alleviate some of it, why not?”