Before Thomasena Keith uncovered her passion for massage therapy, she was a secondary schoolteacher struggling to help teenage mothers balance education and motherhood. In 1984, she made a life-changing discovery at a yoga class, where she met a licensed massage therapist who specialized in infant massage. Thomasena asked her to teach some techniques to her students and eventually incorporated infant massage into her curriculum. Not satisfied to stand on the sidelines of this field, she enrolled in a training class taught by Vimala McClure—one of the first therapists to introduce infant massage—and went on to earn full certification from the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville.
Ten years later, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Thomasena to the Florida Board of Massage for two terms. In addition to facilitating numerous presentations and workshops, she has also worked with Al Drake, a licensed massage therapist who came to Tallahassee in 1946 to knead Governor Fuller Warren's venerable muscles. Today, Thomasena is retired from teaching after 30 years of dedicated service, though she's filled the gap by becoming the first massage instructor at the Lively Technical Center. When she isn't instructing her students or teaching couples-massage classes, she cossets her clients with reflexology, hot-stone, and Hawaiian therapeutic massage techniques.