The Technologically Challenged Massage Therapist

Face it; most of us are not technical. Most of us know how to use Facebook, and basic Microsoft Word, but that’s about it – and that’s ok. When I started teaching massage in 2001, all I knew was Microsoft Word. In 2005, I had to up my skills, and I started to learn more about technology. The first thing I delved into was video, and in 2006 I started learning about how to make a website. I started to learn Photoshop in 2009, and that is my main photo-editing program. In the past year, I’ve been using to incorporate some quick designs into my photos, and I use FCPX for video editing.

Technology can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Right now YouTube is the second largest search engine, and Google is #1. Most people search how to perform something on YouTube, and it’s full of educational videos. I’ve never taken a computer or video editing class. It definitely showed when I first got started, but it drove me to be all I can be.

FaceBookHere are some basics to get you started with Photos, Videos, and Websites:

Photo Sizes: 800px (Great for web), 1500px (Great for web, some print materials, and is ok for cropping), and 4000px+ (Great for editing and print, but you would need to resize them for web).

Resizing Photos: If you want a free photo-editing tool, try Canva. It’s pretty easy and doesn’t cost you anything if you use your own photos (Some designs you will still have to pay if they are more complex).

Photos: I have over 10,000 massage photos for sale on, or here is a service I use for other types of photos (Subscription). There are tons of sites that offer 

Video: 1280×720 is HD (Great for viewing on your computer, and smartphones), and 1920×1080 is larger HD (Great for viewing on your TV).

Shooting video with your phone: Only shoot in a landscape format (Sideways) and portrait (Tall) for photos (Photos can be shot in landscape, too.

Shooting Video: I use my DSLR to shoot video, and when I started I used Flip Video. You can also use your phone, but I highly recommend to use a Microphone, or Bluetooth Mic. Most audio on DSLR’s and smartphones are not the greatest.

Editing Videos: There are many basic apps on your phone or some free ones for your computer. I started with Windows Movie Maker, and when I switched to a Mac, I started using iMovie – I upgraded to FCPX about four years ago, because I wanted more options.

Editing Photos: Use Photoshop, if you want to spend days (even months) learning a new program. There are tons of free ones online: Canva, Fotor, Pixlr, and others.

Audio in Videos: I use for most of my music in my videos (Subscription). It’s royalty free, and they have 1,000’s of songs. Here is a free one.

Social Media Sizes: Here is a link to know what sizes work for Social Media.

Websites: There are a lot of free programs out there that you can use to start a website (even AMTA and ABMP have free ones), but you really need to eventually have your own. A lot of websites are now using WordPress, and many web hosting companies have WordPress built into it. You can pay under $6 a month to have a company host your website. I now use Host Gator, but there are tons out there. I use Dreamweaver for and WordPress for some of my smaller ones.

Email: MailChimp is a popular email service. It’s free up to 2,000 emails, and after that, there is a fee. There are others you can research, too.

If you are a Massage Therapist, most of your clients are using technology, so it just makes sense for you to get your skills up to date, to reach potential customers. If technology really frustrates you, consider hiring someone to manage your website, newsletters, and social media accounts – it’s called outsourcing, and tons of companies go that route.

Ryan Hoyme is the owner of and

Why You Should Listen to Amanda Palmer

Don’t get upset when she tells you early on that she performed unlicensed massage therapy as a college student. 

Keep listening. 

In the final chapter she’ll tell you about an intense moment she shared with a (licensed) massage therapist years later.  

Those, dear friends, are the two obviously massage-related tidbits contained within Amanda Palmer’s masterpiece, The Art of Asking. Everything else in the book is about art, passion, humility, bravery, honesty, communication, life, death, illness, depression, and navigating uncharted territory. It’s about success, trust, and being human. It made me cry more than once. 

More specifically, Amanda (an accomplished musician who happens to be married to Neil Gaiman) talks openly about her hugely successful crowdfunding adventure, the process of building a relationship with her audience, and what it’s like to build a future with someone who’s very different from yet very similar to herself. There isn’t a person out there who could listen to this audiobook without learning something. My opinion? This thing has got the potential to be life-changing. You should have it a go. 

2015-10-25 15.00.19

My sister gave me the hardcover version for Christmas last year, but I’ve taken to listening to Audible during my morning walks so I downloaded it there, too. Amanda not only narrates her own work, but this version is crammed full of Amanda’s music (newer tunes as well as stuff from the Dresden Dolls days). The Audible version is definitely the way absorb this for maximum enjoyment (and Audible even gives new members a free audiobook with zero obligation). 

I don’t usually review books on The Young Thumbs, but this one is too important to ignore. Have you read/listened to it? What did you think?

Popping The Bubble

Cliques. Tribes. The Matrix, even.

If we gaze at the masses long enough we realize it’s a ubiquitous scenario: People doing things, building things and marketing things while being surrounded by their own people. Bubble People. 

Bubble People are a fine people. Most of them are very nice and we have things in common with them. This is exactly why we spend so much time interacting with Bubble People. Bubble People got our backs. 

But what happens when we want to do, build or market something that could benefit from (or depend on) connecting with people from beyond The Bubble? Should we remain safely surrounded by Bubble People in a spherically-shaped fortress that cannot expand without breaking? Or do we deliberately destroy this bubbly barrier, leaving ourselves vulnerable, opening ourselves up to outside influence, ideas and opinions?

We must decide, because we cannot do both. 

Bubble People are typically easy. They don’t care that we haven’t showered or put pants on by 4 PM on a Wednesday. “Go for it!”, they cheer. “Best idea ever! Keep doing what you’re doing! Don’t ever change it! It’s perfect!”

You’re perfect.

But maybe — just maybe — perfect is something we were never meant to be. 

A bubble for your thoughts?

Practice Promoting Parties

The other evening I hosted a Halloween gathering at my office so I could roll out my new product line while having fun with friends (both new and old). I supplied yummy treats from Target and Costco, handed out those ridiculous plastic vampire teeth that glow in the dark, and offered free mini facials using products from the new line. Oh, and I brought my theremin for everyone to play with! Here’s a video…

The Halloween event went so well I’m thinking I’ll host a monthly themed fun thing. Next month’s shindig will probably feature free hand massages using the line’s hand cream. Attendees will be able to choose their scent from a variety of testers, and tubes will be available for purchase. If I’m feeling super adventurous I may even supply warm paraffin wax, plastic gloves, and doughnuts. 

I’ve hosted office events in the past and I’m always amazed by how well they turn out. For the first 30 minutes I worry that I’ve bought way too much food and that nobody will show up to eat it, but 30 minutes after that guests show up in droves and the party is in full swing!

Aside from the obvious fun to be had, here are some other things I like about hosting a party at the office that’s open to the public. Many of my fabulous guests have:

  • met other guests (laughter and networking ensue)
  • asked questions about services and products
  • purchased retail items and gift certificates
  • booked appointments
  • tried new things without feeling obligated (mini facials!)
  • given valuable feedback on products, services and party ideas
  • checked in and posted about the party on social media
  • explored the office and building, sometimes for the first time
  • signed up to receive a monthly email newsletter
  • told their friends how much fun they had at the silly little spa in that silly old building

Have you ever hosted an office party? What was the occasion? What worked best? What would you change the next time (if there is a next time)?

Massage Gadget Boneyard

We all have them: The vestiges of ideas we’ve had, equipment we’ve invested in, or the things we should be using right now but — oh wait! There’s something shiny and new and what was I doing again?

Yeah, that. 

I should be writing this from my iJoy massaging recliner upstairs, but instead I’m in my living room, lounging in a non-electrified chair, watching some nice ladies peddle leather handbags on HSN. I managed to extract myself from the velour-covered cushions long enough to dig through my closet, locating 78% of the massage stuff currently gathering dust in my abode. 

The Sharper Image neck massager, foot massagers, and Conair vibrating massage wand thingy

The Sharper Image neck massager, foot massager, and Conair vibrating massage wand thingy


Here we’ve got some wooden trigger point tools, a wooden foot massager that my sister gave me for Christmas years ago, and a Panasonic rolling massager wand, all nestled in this bubbling foot spa!

But wait! There’s more!


facial steamer

And finally, the piece de resistance from my archaeological excavation…

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

What the hell am I doing over here? And why did I just order a personal TENS unit from Amazon last night?

Tell me I’m not alone in this. Which massage goodies have you been collecting over the years? And (if you’re at liberty to share) how do they fit into your plan for world domination? 

Things that are funny and things that are not

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about professionalism and ethics. Specifically, the differences between them, and the applications of those definitions on our actions and words as massage therapists.

I’ve labored over various definitions. I’ve looked at situations where I’ve used the words interchangeably and probably incorrectly. I’ve though about where I’ve used each word properly. And I’ve come to a conclusion.

ID-10065252I kinda don’t care about getting the exact verbiage right.

I care about the meaning, the intent, and the context of any particular interaction. What follows is the story of how I started thinking about this.

I saw a funny graphic on Facebook. It was pretty funny. It said, ” Crazy Client Request “I want extra work on my neck, but don’t mess up my hair.”” Lots of people commented on how funny it was. A few hundred people have shared it. Because it’s funny. And true. We know it happens all the time.

But it bothers me. It bothers me that a few hundred massage therapists think it’s okay to publicly joke about client requests. (Side note: I expressed this in the comments under the image and got nailed. Rightly so. I know better than to start a fight on someone else’s turf. I should’ve just sent a message to the page owner. I’ve apologized for that. I was an asshat.)

Plenty of people disagree with me and think I’m being a tightass. They are correct. I am a tightass. My question is: Why aren’t they?

If a client walked into your office and said, “I’ve got an awful headache, but please don’t get oil in my hair, I’ve got to go back to work after this,” would you actually say, “That’s a crazy request, hahahah!” Would you holler out to a colleague, “Hey, Jane, check it out, this client wants me to work on her head but not get oil in her hair. HA!” Probably not.

Shouldn’t we all be extra sensitive about accidentally, or intentionally, saying something that may make a client afraid to speak up, or afraid to come to us?

Let’s apply this to real life

Let’s say a very shy person, a potential client, is following your Facebook page. They enjoy your posts about stretching, the links to local community events, and the occasional picture of your silly office antics. They’re warming up to the idea of getting massage as they get to know you through your marketing.

Then, they see a joke titled Crazy Client Request. A joke made at the expense of a client. What’s the underlying message here? If you ask your massage therapist for something, they may make fun of you. Publicly. It’s pretty safe to assume that the shy person will never step foot in your office.

Is this an extreme line of thinking? Yes. As it should be. When we’re talking about the feelings of clients, about accidentally intimidating someone, alienating an otherwise ideal potential client, or about hurting a current client’s feelings, we should absolutely think in extremes.

In the most extreme of circumstances, this man committed suicide. He refused to seek help because throughout his childhood he heard his parents and other medical practitioners breech confidentiality and make sport of their mentally ill patients.

Jokes about hair are not extreme. They are silly and funny. But it’s a slippery slope, and a very easy connection for an already shy person to make.

Ummmm, Allissa? Aren’t you a preacher of Marketing with Personality?

Yup. I’m a big fan of letting your personality shine through in your business.

But let’s be clear, there’s a big difference between being silly enough to display a Darth Vader cookie jar in your office, and actively making fun of a client.

Marketing with personality isn’t about casually treating your clients like crap. It’s about being human, warm, and fun in your business. And if you’re too busy to download the ebook, no worries, here’s the important stuff:

You want to be yourself. But you want to be a professional version of yourself. This is a huge topic, we could spend endless chapters on boundaries. Here are some potential land mines to be aware of, and avoid.


Be yourself, unless…

You’re a jerk. If you’re surly and grumpy and super-sarcastic, rein it in. I’m not suggesting that you flip into Happy Cheerleader mode whenever a client walks in the door. Just consider the way your edges could be smoothed to improve the client’s experience.

You’re a flirt. If you’re a highly sexualized person, very flirty and touchy, rein it in. When you are anywhere that could be a marketing/networking possibility, stop it. Don’t do a giggle and a hair flip, don’t talk about sex. Don’t. Just don’t.

Take some time to explore what your weakness are. Recognize them, and have a plan in place to diffuse these land mines before they explode.


Be yourself, unless…

You’ve got a guilt complex. If you’re someone who likes to give and give, and you tend to overcommit and overwork yourself trying to help others in all aspects of your life, rein it in. It’s simply not an effective way to run a business, it’s not a healthy way to work.

You’re a pushover with your schedule. Stop it. Find the easy ways to say no. Practice saying “I’m sorry, I’m booked up.” Get cozy referring out to MT’s who work on your days off.

It’s important to acknowledge that there should be real thought involved in this process. These guidelines are not One Size Fits All. We’re not talking about ignoring ethical concerns and getting casual at your place of business. This is a process, and like any other aspect of business, you need to use good judgement and common sense.

So for me, I think of it this way: I may have clients leave because they don’t like my hands-on techniques. I may have potential clients who never come in because they see an occasional atheist sentiment in my twitter stream. I’m okay with that. But if I ever lose a client or potential client because they felt I was insensitive to their needs, or they feared I would make fun of them, I will consider that a huge professional failure. Huge.

For you: Well, you’ve got to figure that out for yourself. Consider your feelings. Consider the feelings of the people who will see what you ‘like’ and post on Facebook, and interact accordingly.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

The Comeback

Whether it’s due to stress or burnout, most of us find ourselves stuck in the occasional rut. At times it can feel like we’re trudging through quicksand, like we can’t take a deep breath, or like we’re just plain tired and uninspired. 

I spent the first half of 2015 feeling this way, preceded by most of 2014. My husband’s brother had passed away unexpectedly, my Yahoo Small Business web host had been messing with my Confident Massage CE site for several months and I had to recreate the whole thing from scratch, my husband was going through a major career shift, and I was still getting my little day spa (with recently added nail services and nail service licenses) off the ground. Sure, I was functional. But for 18-plus months I was also feeling buried in stress, grief, and pent up frustration. Life was just kind of going on without me. It got to the point where doing something as simple as loading the dishwasher or folding the laundry took all the motivation I could muster, and seeing a basic task through to completion was cause for a ticker tape parade. 

Something broke late this summer. My beloved massage therapist and I camped at Cathedral Gorge where she gave me a massage in a tent and we slept under the stars. My beloved hairstylist and I drove to Jerome and Sedona, finding inspiration in countless shops and boutiques. I drove to the Bay Area and stayed with my beloved ladyfriends who had just opened a cafe in Vallejo. I took photos at numerous cemeteries (a hobby of mine) and even sought out four filming locations from the movie Harold and Maude (my favorite!). 

While in Sedona I bought a wind chime in the shape of a black cat. I wanted to bring something home to remind me of the freedom and inspiration that comes from stepping outside of one’s bubble. This purchase motivated me to clean up my tiny backyard so my kitty would have a nice place to live. 

Power tools would've been a wise investment.

Power tools would’ve been a wise investment.

My backyard is tiny. The trees and shrubs had been growing wild for three years and it was a mess. But a snip here, a trim there, some Amazon bargain shopping and four trash cans of yard waste later…and voila! My tiny gothic meditation garden had become a reality. It’s not much, but for me this was a big accomplishment. 

Skeleton and kitty.

Skeleton and kitty.

And so began the comeback. I’m blogging again, both here and here. I’m working on a new CE course. I just found a new spa product line to retail. I added some new services to my menu. I registered for an intense, intriguing CE course on end of life issues. I even printed out a ream’s worth of MSDS sheets for the office (and promptly replaced my black ink cartridge). 

Chances are I’ll encounter the funk again at some point, but man, it sure does feel good to embrace the comeback.

Massaging A Wardrobe

Constructed of black sweatshirt fleece, it was as if a robe and a hoodie had made a baby. 

The shame factor hadn’t quite achieved “Snuggy”, but was definitely higher on the spectrum than “Old Navy Peacoat”. 

$39.99 plus tax later, it was all mine. 

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

This hot little number will keep me cozy as I walk from the parking garage to my office and back this autumn. It goes with most everything else I wear, and if I accidentally get some foot balm on it, a little Tide and a trip through the “normal” cycle will take care of my mess. 

My hoodie-robe shopping trip got me thinking: How do we decide which uniforms will work best for us? How many of us still don massage school khakis and polo shirts years after we graduate? How many of us opt for scrubs? And how do we determine if we should wear solid purple or kitty cat print?

No kitty cats here.

No kitty cats here.

One huge perk of running my own business is that I can get away with wearing whatever I want. (Well, within reason. The cosmetology board has a *few* rules.) From the day I opened my office I’ve consistently worn black (or a rare gray item) as my uniform. It’s easy on the eyes, easy to shop for, and if you wear the same type of thing every day you’ll help to build your brand just by wearing clothes.

Long skirts from Target were my jam this summer. Too long skirts from Target were jamming up my stool casters this spring before I wised up.

Long skirts from Target were my jam this summer. Too long skirts from Target were jamming up my stool casters this spring before I wised up.

A while back I wore custom made black tees with my logo screen printed on them. I loved them so much I wore them out. Price-wise they ran a smidge over $10 each. I should order more when I’m not so busy blogging about textiles and discount department stores.

Here's me during my video podcast heyday. Note the shirt.

Here’s me during my video podcast heyday. Note the shirt.

I’m super curious: What do you take into consideration when you’re choosing a uniform? What’s a priority feature in a uniform? Is the fact that I’m using the word “uniform” making you throw up in your mouth a little bit? If so, why?

Not my proudest moment on many levels. Silky pants from Target, Bettie Page thrift store shirt purchased for 99 cents, office restroom toilet.

Not my proudest moment on many levels. Silky pants from Target, Bettie Page thrift store shirt purchased for 99 cents, office restroom toilet.

Come on up to the runway and sashay, shantay! :)

Think Before You Speak

I remember being chastised as a kid for asking my aunt if she was “racist” during a family dinner party. We were at the kitchen table at my parents’ house, and she said something about Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg dating. If memory serves, it was along the lines of “why can’t she find a black man so a white woman can date him?”. I can only assume the technical answer to this question had something to do with Ted Danson’s impressive chin anatomy, but my kid brain didn’t care about that. It only cared that it was taught not to judge people based on their appearances, and an adult’s comment in my parents’ house didn’t match up with that world view. A kid, a comment, a question, a curse. Maybe that’s when I learned to fear my own thoughts.

I redeemed myself in future years, catching loved ones in the act and pointing out that saying “that’s so gay” (intended meaning: “that’s so bad/ugly/uncool”) sounds ignorant and ridiculous. These weren’t ignorant bigots saying this, and this was not a Danson/Goldberg/kitchen table moment. This was nonsensical verbiage projectile vomited into the Millennial Collective Consciousness, and we were better than this. 

Taking offense is a personal thing, although overheard mouth caca need not be personal in nature to be offensive. Sometimes the things we say or gestures we make almost daily have the potential to offend, turn off, cause unease or make us look less intelligent and professional than we really are.

As massage therapists it is our calling to comfort, but this can be challenging when we’re oblivious to what we’re communicating. Do any of the following examples sound familiar?

Retarded – Saying that someone or something is “retarded” is bound to offend sooner rather than later, even if you’re just talking about yourself. Think twice before uttering “this table warmer is being retarded”. Also worth noting in this category are words like “idiot”, “dumb”, and “lame”, as these words have historically referred to people with different mental and physical traits that deviate from the norm, and are now used in a negative context. 

Gyp – Let’s lump this one in with all racially-derived digs on a person’s character. It turns out the Roma people (“gypsies”) don’t appreciate being associated with cheating and scams. Saying “I don’t want to gyp you out of your time” can make your very kind sentiment sound icky and ignorant. (Same goes for “jewing down”, “Indian giver”, and any similar utterance.)

Perv – A term often used in our field to reference a table grinder or happy ending enthusiast. “That perv just threw a $20 bill on the table and undraped his package.” Just keep in mind: It wasn’t that long ago that many common bedroom practices and expressions of sexual and gender identity were classified as pathological in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Many of us would’ve been labeled as “pervs” in years past, even though we’re good-natured people who wouldn’t hurt a fly (unless he asked for it). I prefer to use “creeper”.

Suicide References – Unless you truly feel like you may be suicidal, please stop threatening (thereby trivializing) self harm. Saying “if the Cowboys lose one more game I’m going to kill myself” is insensitive to people who have attempted, succeeded, considered, or lost someone to suicide. Also, I don’t care if you’re a hip hop artist or a comedian: unless you truly feel like you may want to put a gun to your head and pull the trigger, do not bend your fingers into a gun shape and point your index finger at your temple. I know someone who did this with a real gun and now they’re gone, and you’re just an asshat who’s still here. 

Oversimplified Statements on Complex Issues Verbalized Using a Judgmental Tone – “Abortion is terrible”, “suicide is selfish”, “Mega-Mart moving in down the street is great for everybody everywhere”, and “your deceased pet was just a tarantula and mine was a teacup poodle, therefore your grieving couldn’t be comparable to mine” are examples of statements that are usually best left unsaid. Maybe that client tended to his tarantula at a time when he desperately needed someone or something to care for, and maybe he obtained just as much emotional support through his relationship with his spider as you did with your puppy. Maybe that associate’s mom lost her job at the local hardware store because the Mega-Mart cut into the indie shop’s market share. Maybe an abortion saved an employee’s life. You know a lot of things, but you don’t know more. 

I too am guilty of saying things out of ignorance. Twelve years ago I answered the phone at the print shop where I worked. The woman on the other end described a messed up print job she had obtained from another facility in town. I offered a sympathetic “that’s crazy”, and was promptly lectured by this caller (who had spent a significant amount of time being treated for mental health issues) on the offensive nature of the word “crazy”. Twelve years later I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about the word, but I do consider this woman’s standpoint regularly. 

What do you wish people would take a moment to think about before they speak?

(Want to read more about overheard mouth caca? Check out this nifty article.)

World Suicide Prevention Day

As massage therapists humans, we’re in a unique position to be kind to one another. 

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day 2015, my friend William took the time to film an assortment of Vegas locals who had personal stories to share about suicide. I feel honored to have been included in his project.

Please feel free to share and keep the conversation going. <3