Monday, September 26, 2011

Take this Compliment. Take it!

I think I'm pretty good at what I do, and sometimes I'll even say this to people.  But sometimes the intensity of someone's gratitude catches me off guard.

A while back I had a client -- patient -- in a medical facility.  A person facing a chronic, critical illness where treatment caused debilitating side effects, up to and including time spent in hospitals.  I was one of several appointments she had that day.  She struck me as a practical woman -- plain-spoken, realistic and unsentimental about her troubles.  And out of the blue she said:

"The treatment is worth it for this massage." 

A compliment so intense it almost paralyzed me.  How could my little massage justify such discomfort?

I know hyperbole when I hear it.  I know what she said was not strictly, literally true.  I also know that the truth in it had enough gratitude in it (from her, to me) to make me question whether I deserved it.  But who am I, in the midst of all her setbacks, to offer her another setback by questioning her experience?  Better, I think, to try my best to gracefully, gratefully, accept her compliment.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Women Who Think Too Much

I remember quite a few things about massage school, but the thing I remember most vividly is this exchange during a moment of intense frustration in an early technique class:

Teacher:Just get out of your head.
Me: I've been living in my head for 36 years, so I'm not going to get out just this second.

I believe I have met my in-the-head match. I gave a manual lymph drainage treatment to a woman who asked that I "narrate" the treatment so she could understand what was going on. At first I thought: "Yay! A client who really wants to take charge of her health!" But, after about 10 minutes of trying to talk from my head while working from my head and body, I was exhausted. And the questions kept coming. I could almost feel the different parts of my brain trying desperately to keep up. It was spinning plates while standing on one foot in a tub full of jelly.

I'm out of my head now. It's all worn down up there and won't be back until later. The sign on my door says:"Gone breathing."