At Luna, we work hard to create an environment where physical therapists have the freedom and flexibility to create the lives they want. In this series, we hope to shine a light on our amazing team of PTs and how they’re using their autonomy and freedom to pursue the things that matter most to them. Here’s the inspiring story of one Luna physical therapist, Mika, who decided to take the trip of a lifetime and bring back a brand new perspective.
An Old Dream Brought Back to Life
Since she can remember, Luna physical therapist Mika Toribara has loved the idea of traveling. As a kid, she would travel with her mom who would overbook every trip with sights and activities. In Mika’s opinion, this left little room for living like a local to get a sense of the culture and people. Mika knew that she would one day get to travel the world on her terms and set her own pace.
“If I don’t travel for a while, I start to feel really antsy and stuck,” explains Mika. “It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and forget to take a step back to reassess things. Travel gives me the opportunity to explore different cultures, customs, sights, people, and gain an entirely new perspective.”
The number one destination on Mika’s bucket list? Thailand. This dream took shape back in college when she was presented with an opportunity to volunteer in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary. Mika loves elephants but ended up turning down the opportunity due to funds. “I thought to myself ‘one day, I’ll get a job, save some money, and then I’ll travel’. But it turns out that most jobs aren’t very flexible. You get stuck in a situation where you finally have the money to travel, but a job that won’t let you have the time off to do so. I continued to put my dream off.”
At this point, Mika was working in a traditional PT clinic with high productivity expectations. In her words, they would “freak out” if she took any time off. Mika wasn’t prepared to give up on her dream so easily. She considered quitting her job altogether, taking a long break to travel, and then starting over and finding a new job once she returned home. After careful consideration, Mika realized this wouldn’t be a sustainable long-term solution.
“Travel’s always been so important to me. I knew that I was going to find a way to do it one way or another,” says Mika. “I had so many friends in tech and other fields who were completely mobile and traveling all the time. I remember being bummed for a while thinking I had chosen the wrong profession...but then I found Luna.”
The Trip of a Lifetime
After training to be a life coach and securing a position with Luna, Mika was able to quit her full-time PT position at the clinic to pursue a new lifestyle. With Luna, Mika had the ability to set her own work schedule and confidently take time off, knowing her job would be waiting for her upon return. Armed with newfound freedom, income, and flexibility, Mika was ready to take the plunge and finally booked her trip to Thailand.
Mika spent an entire month in Thailand living like a local and connecting with other travelers who shared her passion. “I always had it in my head that I would love everything about Thailand, and I did,” says Mika. “I took a few cooking classes, went on hikes, participated in a meditation retreat at a Buddhist temple, took Thai massage courses (which ended up helping with my PT treatments), and, of course, scheduled some time to go to the elephant sanctuary.”
Coming Back Home: A New Perspective
“It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life in the Bay Area,” shares Mika. “Everyone’s rushing around from one place to the next and it’s stressful. In Thailand, the pace of life is totally different. People are polite to one another, and they take their time. I came back from Thailand a much calmer person. I can look at everyone around me rushing and realize that I don’t need to be a part of it. It’s okay not to live that way.”
Mika also came back from this solo trip with a newfound sense of confidence in herself and her abilities. “If I can travel to a different country where I don’t speak the language and successfully get around, feed myself, and make lasting connections, I can do anything.”
She attributes her ability to have had this life-changing experience, in part, to Luna. “At Luna, they really treat us like we're working for ourselves. We’re in complete control of our own schedule. I just block the time off that I need off and everything gets scheduled around that. I love the flexibility and it really suits my lifestyle and passion for travel.”
What’s next for Mika, you ask? Brazil. We can’t wait to follow along on her journey.
If you’re a physical therapist who is looking for a new way to work, we’d love to hear from you. Learn more about working with Luna today and get in touch when you’re ready to follow your dreams!