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Woman to Watch Hilarie Mae Dahl

Woman to watch fills many roles

 Arlene Hisiger   January 14, 2014 Herrochester.com

Dahl practices energy/healing touch therapy and equine massage in addition to working as a doula, assisting women giving birth.

Hilarie Mae Dahl
Hilarie Mae Dahl enjoys working as an office manager for GLC Business Services, a nationwide business outsourcing company, but it is what she does when she is not there that defines her.

Born and raised in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, Dahl moved to Rochester to attend SUNY Brockport, where she earned a bachelor of arts in women and gender studies and a master of arts in communication.

While still an undergraduate, Dahl began to explore women's spirituality, particularly the role of women in the church. Her exploration led her to read books by the feminist theologian Edwina Gateley, which inspired her to attend one of Gateley's "Soul Sisters" retreats.

"It was a transformative experience," Dahl said. "Her ideas set the tone for what I focused on in my undergraduate studies."

The retreat also sparked her interest in energy/healing touch therapy. Similar to Reiki therapy, Energy therapy is also a holistic form of wellness modality. Dahl favored it because of its standardized principles; energy therapists worldwide adhere to the same protocols.

"This form of therapy aims to clear and balance energy fields, which is accomplished through above-body movement and light touch," she explained. "It does not involve massage, and the client remains fully clothed."

Not content to limit healing to humans, Dahl decided (after training in San Diego) to add equine massage therapy to her repertoire.

"I've always been an animal lover," Dahl said. "I grew up riding in Delmar. I started lessons when I was seven and bought my first horse when I was 13." Dahl used money from her childhood savings account, money given to her over the years by relatives, and earnings from a part-time job to pay for the horse and its upkeep.

While she does incorporate a lot of the same energy work she employs in her healing touch therapy sessions, her work with horses differs in that she performs deep tissue massage on them.

A history class underscoring women's contribution to early American society led her to another passion. "I was intrigued by that whole idea of women supporting other women through labor and delivery," Dahl said.

After doing some research, Dahl elected to train as a doula, a name derived from Greek, meaning female helper. Unlike a midwife, who handles medical matters, a doula provides information, emotional support and physical comfort to a mother before, during and just after childbirth. "I think the beauty of the doula is that she is there for the mom. A lot of agendas come into play at birth — the doula has no agenda other than the mom's comfort," Dahl explained.

Locally, Dahl gives back to the community by providing her doula service gratis. But her generosity is not limited to her own backyard. As a member of Dining for Women — a once-a-month dinner giving circle which aims to help women and girls in developing countries gain equality and achieve their potential — she makes an impact on international society, as well.

Dahl has found Rochester a good place to pursue her passions. "Rochester is a small and supportive community. Chances are you know someone who knows someone else that can provide you with what you need."

Contact Arlene at 585-442-6108 or arlene@wordtailor.net
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