Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I am in the process of finding and targeting my niche.  I prefer to call this "knowing and speaking to my people."  This is proving to be more difficult than I thought.  Of course, people who are in or have a history of cancer treatment are my people.  But there is another piece to this puzzle which I am having a hard time defining.

My current (inadequate) description of my people is: stressed-out women over 40.  What I mean by this is: people for whom massage is as much about emotional wellness as it is about physical.  In school, one of my instructors described my massage as having an intensity similar to that of a mother caring for a child.  My classmates teased me about my "momssage."  I labored against this description for a long time.  It is not necessary to be (or want to be) a mother in order to be nurturing.  Clearly, I thought, what my teacher meant was that I have focus, and that I am able to be present for my clients.  Over time, though, I kept coming back to "momssage."  

My people, the ones who respond most favorably to my massage, are carers.  They have people in their lives who rely on them for support and strength.  Most of my people enjoy this role, and they are good at it.  But sometimes, they are exhausted.  I think the shared reason they come to me is for care. I feel like for them, beyond the physical relief, the massage is time to refill.  Of course I am guided by the needs of their physical bodies, and of course we often see significant reductions in pain, iimprovements in joint movement and all those massage-y things.

That's not what makes them my people, though.  It is the intensity of focus (which I have some days better than others) on them as whole people.  When I am trying to define my people, I keep thinking of this scene from "One Day at a Time" where the main character (a single mother of two teenage girls) is arguing with her boyfriend.  She is not feeling well and wants him to take care of her.  He accuses her of wanting to be "babied," and she responds, "I don't want to be babied! I want to be mommied!"  That character is my people.  A stressed-out woman over 40, in need of some time to be taken care of, not in the way where she loses all will and direction, but in the way that acknowledges her challenges and anticipates her needs.  Mommied.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Of course caregivers don't know how to take care of themselves.  Of course physicians, nurses, holistic wellness practitioners, and massage therapists counsel balance, moderation, and self-care all while running themselves into the ground.  And, of course, most of us think we are the exception.  We are the ones doing all the right things while our colleagues run themselves into the ground.  We can be arrogant, too.

I recall one of my students talking about massaging a veteran therapist.  He was shocked (his word) at the condition of her back muscles, and at the level of postural distortion he saw.  He asked me, "We are trained to know body mechanics.  We are supposed to know how to move and stretch so we don't hurt ourselves.  How does somebody who knows this get so messed up?" I shook my head, said something about the difference between what we know and what we do, and silently congratulated myself on my superior self-care.

Arrogance.  Schadenfreude. But, as a friend once said, the karma train makes all stops.  Last week, it slammed right into me.  I woke up with a painfully sore throat, and over the course of the day, started to feel feverish and dizzy.  Rather than go to bed, or go to a doctor, I muscled through some classes and meetings.  Finally, after three days and no improvement, I admitted that I was sick.  I cancelled all my clients for the next few days, and weakly drove myself to a clinic.  The conclusion: some kind of virus.  Nothing to do but drink lots of fluids, and rest.


I settled in to my couch with water bottles and internet devices in reach.  After the first fluff video and midday nap, I emailed one of my clients, saying that I knew I would be fine by the end of the week, and would she like to reschedule?  This was her response:
"Though I will sign up for more massages (of course), it seems mercenary to schedule something at this moment.  I am solely focused on your well-being this morning! Just keep getting better."

Rest. So, with that coaxing and permission, I did.  I often tell my clients that doing nothing is "the hardest easy thing in the world." I certainly felt it this week.  Clearly, though, I needed it.  Now that I am actually feeling better, I am grateful for taking the rest.