About Ariana La Cour

"Ariana La Cour, a Nevada native, lives and works in fabulous Vegas (baby) . She is a full time licensed massage therapist who runs her own small mobile massage company, is a part time massage blogger, runs the Las Vegas Massage Therapy Meetup Group, and is an aspiring author. She is the main shenanigator over at MassageHacks.com. She adores both kale smoothies and chocolate equally, and doesn't see a problem with it. She is a sucker for bouquets of newly sharpened pencils. She dislikes pointy toed shoes, complacency, and when people don't use their turn signals. You know who you are."

Thrift Store Finds for Your Massage Business

Running a small business can be expensive, ever wonder where to shop to save a images (1)few bucks? When I mention shopping for my massage business at thrift stores, I sometimes get a sideways glance or two…but there’s a method to my madness. The trick to fabulous finds at thrift stores is to make small trips often. It is unlikely that you will find all of this great stuff with one or two trips, but if you stop in every once in awhile, you’ll soon start to make great little discoveries. I usually pop in to various stores for a 20-30 minute trip once or twice a week. Since I am a mobile massage therapist, I usually make these trips between clients or on my lunch break in different parts of town.

If you have never shopped at a thrift store before, or if you find thrift stores unsavory, this post might not be for you…but if, like me, you enjoy a good thrift store and find shopping to be a relaxing experience – you might find yourself scanning the shelves with a fresh pair of eyes. Here are some of the things you can look out for. 

  1. This one is as obvious as it is surprising: professional massage equipment. It isn’t likely to be found, I have only come across a few things in my thrifting excursions, but when you do find some, it is especially exciting. I once bought an extra Earthlite facerest platform for my massage table for $7, and a professional leg bolster for $5. There was an Oakworks Nova massage table for $80, which I didn’t purchase at the time because I didn’t need one. My latest find, that I am really excited about, is a Medi-Rub foot massager machine for $10! If you have ever used one of these bad boys you know what a steal that is. I use it for myself, as well as bring it with me to office and convention chair gigs as an added perk for my chair massage clients. 
  2. Self Massage tools – from foot massagers to finger massagers, to vibration and percussion tools, people are constantly sending their self-care devices to thrift shops. These can be a great way to practice a little of what we preach between clients to take care of ourselves. Some of the things I have purchased include a Homedics shiatsu massage chair mat for $12 (this works incredibly well to ease my scoliosis symptoms when I can’t get in for a massage right away), an “Original Foot Log” for $3 (hands-down amazing for people with plantar fasciitis – I bring it with me to appts for clients to try out), and a calf-stretching rocker for $3. I am also the proud owner of a vintage Spine-a-Lator which I purchased for $125. My favorite recent find is a Spoonk acupressure mat which I paid $5 for. I LOVE this thing. I use it before bed or sometimes after a hot shower and find it incredibly relaxing on my back and the soles of my feet. It is a huge stress-reliever.
  3. Office organization supplies. You can find everything from briefcases to sample cases, binders and new packs of filing folders, executive planner cases, mail sorters, magazine racks, bulletin boards, white boards…and even smaller items such as three hole punches. I have bought all of my mobile massage bags at thrift shops – I usually use business traveling cases – my last one was a nice Kenneth Cole which I purchased for $10, and my current one is a Franklin Covey equipment bag which I purchased for $2.50. 
  4. Decorative Items. This one is pretty self explanatory. You can find many decorative items at thrift shops, the biggest problem here is really knowing what/when not to buy, so that your massage room doesn’t end up cluttered and messy. Often I find great deals on candles here. Such as the big three-wick candles usually used on coffee tables for a buck or two, or wooden wick candles, or huge bags of tealights for a buck. My favorite find so far would have to be my Himalayan salt glow lamp, which I purchased for $3. I know it is pretty cliche for a massage space, but I just love the golden pink glow from a pretty salt lamp…and they can be expensive in health food stores. My second favorite find would be the old style glass bulb Young Living essential oil diffuser which I purchased for…wait for it…75 cents! 
  5. High quality massage sheets and blankets. The concept of buying used massage linens came up in a massage group awhile ago and it seemed people were pretty divided about it. If you are someone who is comfortable using secondhand sheets (and really, aren’t they all secondhand once one client has used them?) then you can potentially buy much higher quality and/or higher thread count sheets for a fraction of the price you would pay for much lower quality new sheets. It is incredibly important that you thoroughly inspect every inch of the sheets to make sure there aren’t any stains, rips, or loose threads and that the sheets are thoroughly sanitized before going into rotation with your other sets. This means hot water, detergent and bleach, as well as a hot and thorough drying cycle. 
  6. Promotional display items: Comment card boxes, raffle boxes, picture frames, poster frames, A-frame signs, business card holders, etc.
  7. Client gifts. I know, that sounds cheap as heck…but give it a chance. Thrift stores are actually an amazing place to find small special client gifts. For instance, one of my clients just loves Disney, she takes her family to Disneyland every year for their annual trip, and a lot of her Christmas decorations are Disney themed. When I saw a gorgeous limited edition Disney Christmas ornament at a thrift shop for $8, picking it up for her as a Christmas gift was a no-brainer (after inspecting it very thoroughly for any defects). The original box was a bit banged up, so I tossed it and instead wrapped it in a satin organza bag and put it into a little sequined re-usable Christmas box which I picked up at the same store for $1. She loved it.  For my client who loves The Little Mermaid, a tiny snow globe for $2. For my client who is a chef who loves French cooking – a little kitchen sign with a quote from Julia Childs was a great personalized gift at only $3. Shopping this way allows me to give something my client will like, rather than something impersonal yet affordable which they don’t need. We all have/receive enough of that stuff. 
  8. Stationery and paper goods. Honestly, here is where I save the most money when it comes to thrift store shopping for my business. I send out a lot of cards, and you can buy big packs of greeting cards, beautiful stationery, envelopes, etc for a fraction of the price you would buy new. My newest great find for my summer promo mailers were these beautiful Papyrus notecards. There are 14 cards, envelopes, and gold hummingbird seals in each box and I got 5 boxes for $1.09 each. I’ll send these out with a little personal note and some summer promotions to all of my regulars, possibly with a coupon for a friend or family member. Photo paper is also always available in abundance for a tiny fraction of the price you pay at the store. Another paper good you can almost always find is Avery printable business cards. These aren’t really good for using as actual business cards (you can buy inexpensive, much better quality cards online) but they work very well for promotional purposes as coupons or referral cards. I like the versatility of thinking up a promotional idea and being able to print up a sheet or two the same day, possibly tailored to a holiday or specific event. You can usually pick up a pack of 250 for $1. 
  9. Furniture. Desks, bookcases, filing cabinets, lamps, chairs, good condition throw rugs, etc. This one is pretty self-explanatory. 
  10. Attire. If you are looking to build a professional wardrobe, but on a smaller budget, thrift stores are a great option with clothing that is often higher quality/longer lasting than the cheap new stuff you can buy at your local EverythingMart. You can buy a cheap polo shirt for $10 or $15 at your local big box store, or you can and buy a name brand Nike (for example) polo shirt of much higher quality at a thrift store for about $5. They cost less, you get more use out of them, and you keep goods out of the landfill. Not to mention many thrift stores are connected to Charities in your local community, so you may also be helping out those in need depending on where you shop (My favorite local store is Savers – which benefits SafeNest). That’s a win-win in my book.

Always check items very thoroughly for defects, and remember to have fun! Do you have an awesome thrift store or garage sale find in your office or in use in your business? If so, please share in the comments :) 

That Magic Massage Moment (A Poem)

That moment when, 
Your client’s leg begins to stiffen,
There’s a gradual resistance,
And you retreat gently,269001-20150111
Adjusting the technique,
Testing the waters,
Ever cautious,
Ever respectful,
Of their space.

Then you hear it,
The smallest of snores.
Then a glance, 
Feigned casual interest,
Quick to catch a glimpse of the clock,
Or the art on the wall,
Should they catch you peeking,
And think it a stare.

Their head lolls to the side gently,
Their neck has softened,
And they are comfortable in their body,
And comfortable in the moment,
And they begin to expand.

No more shrinking into themselves,
Arms folded over navel,
Abs stiffened,
Ankles turned in,
For a pleasing silhouette.

Just them,
Resting.
With a nice soft jaw and a nice soft snore. 
Suspended in that dream space,
Neither asleep nor awake,
And their bodies expanding,
Unwinding,
Blooming,
Taking up glorious space,
That was always theirs to play in.

The momentary resistance subsides.
You smile a little smile,
Of working hard at work worth doing.

You are doing well.
They are doing well.
All is well and right in the world,
For at least another 42 minutes.

That moment is a feeling of pure joy.

If I could bottle it,
I would. 

 

Interview with an MT: Lauren Cates Talks Oncology Massage

Recently, Lauren Cates was kind enough to answer a few questions about her massage practice. Lauren, who lives in Arlington, VA, runs Lighthold Massage Therapy, a practice that caters to all types of people, but that also specializes in oncology massage and end of life care. She is also the program director of Healwell and the President and Founding Director for the Society of Oncology Massage. Recently, after watching a video of Lauren going around the internet (below) I contacted her to pick her brain. She is incredibly smart, funny, down-to-earth, and doing important work. In short, she is pretty much what I want to be when I grow up.

Click here for a text transcript of the video.

A:  How long have you been a massage therapist, and what led you to pursue oncology massage training and specialization?

L: It was 9 years in February since I graduated from massage therapy school. My pursuit of massage therapy training was a complete accident, if you believe in accidents, but my pursuit of oncology massage specifically has at least some vaguely traceable path. Shortly after I began the 18-month journey that would be my training in massage therapy I had the unique and humbling opportunity to be with my grandfather at the moment of his death.  I actually didn’t know, at the time, that he had cancer.  I was employing my nascent massage skills working with him in his hospital bed when I watched and felt him take his last breath.  Death and I had always had this sweaty palmed, churning guts kind of relationship, so I was surprised by how natural it felt to be a part of this very human, very death-centric moment.   There was no lightning bolt of moment of “Eureka!  I shall go forth and do oncology massage!”, but there was a feeling of wanting to pursue massage in that kind of environment with people who were at these places of physical, spiritual and emotional crossroads.

A: What type of training did you find the greatest benefit to prepare you for working with oncology patients?
L: Honestly, (as if I’ve been lying to you all this time) I have been very lucky to have great technical teachers in the form of massage therapists, nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals and I couldn’t do what I do without that foundation, but the absolutely most valuable training I have received is the training in how to fully embrace and love myself. Until I was guided by some kind and skillful teachers of mindfulness, compassion and forgiveness, I had never really met myself and that was standing in the way of how useful I could be to the people with whom I worked. When people are faced with a potentially terminal illness, their eyes can become like mirrors of your own soul. You don’t want *that* moment, when you’re at the bedside of a person with cancer, to be first moment you really see yourself. That was happening to me over and over and it was burning me out…until I pulled back from the work for a bit and went deeper into myself. Being at home with myself is, hands down, the most valuable thing I think I bring to my clients.
A: Is there any aspect of the work that you didn’t expect going in? What has been most surprising to you?
L: Working with oncology clients…and all manner of humans with health challenges…has made my life exponentially more joyful. You can’t lie to yourself about how you’re spending your time and if you’re spending it well when you work with people who are faced with being “out of time” and who don’t have a chance to go back and spend it well. Today is truly all we have and my clients remind me that that sentiment is not a bumper sticker…it’s real life. I have seen that I *will* regret it if I work too hard. I *will* wish I had spent more time with family and friends if I don’t do it now…so I do. I do it now…much more than I did before I met so many amazing people who are trying to make sense of how they’ve spent their time.
A: In what ways does Oncology Massage differ from, say, your typical Swedish Massage?
L: There are so many ways in which the internal experience of giving an oncology massage differs from a “typical Swedish Massage”, but on the surface, if you were watching an oncology massage happen, you may not notice most of them. Oncology massage is about cancer. It’s not about massage. If you’re already out in the world doing some type of massage therapy and then you pursue oncology massage training, you will still do the kind of massage you used to do…you’ll just do it with a greater awareness of the effects of cancer treatment on the human body. You’ll be thinking about lymphedema, blood clots, bone fragility, skin changes from radiation, surgical sites and scar tissue, sensation issues from treatment and any number of other considerations that will make you adapt, adjust and alter your work to provide a session that is supremely client centered and so much more than “just working lightly”.
A: How do you connect with the people who need your services?
 L: Shameless self-promotion. In my practice, I actually don’t do any official advertising. I have built my clientele on word of mouth. I do some community education events at cancer support groups and other events where people affected by cancer gather, but mostly I just do what I do and word spreads. The oncology community, in my experience, is an intensely loyal community. If you decrease a person’s neuropathy or nausea or headache or sense of isolation, they become a human billboard for you because they want their friends with cancer to be free of those issues, too.
A: What advice would you give to a therapist interested in pursuing this field of work?

L: Learn your facts. Know the anatomy. Know the physiology. Know the treatments…and then set them down and go get to know yourself. Snuggle up to your sadness, your shame, your humanity, your mortality. The better you know all of those not-so-popular parts of you, the more likely you are to be of service to people in ways you never imagined.

A:  Any further thoughts?

L: If you’re thinking about working with oncology clients, get training. Please, please, please get training and develop a deep sense of humility, curiosity and openness. The illusion of control will be laid bare in front of you if you’re paying attention…and you’ll be grateful for it.

Courses and trainers can be found on the Society for Oncology Massage website,  www.s4om.org. S4OM is also hosting a 4-day conference for the oncology massage community this fall in Sarasota, FL.

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Eleven Phrases to get Your Client to Relax, Without Saying “Relax”.

We all have those few clients who have a hard time relaxing. Some are chatty, some are extra tense and stressed, and some just truly don’t know how to physically relax. You give their arm a gentle shake and their response is to raise it higher…you rock their leg gently and they start rocking it for you…none of your non-verbal cues seem to be working, so you resort to “Go ahead and relax your arm for me…” on some clients, that gentle reminder is all they need to remember to release the tension in their arm or hips and the session progresses as normal. For some though, the mention of the word “relax” can be confusing and even in some rare instances perceived as accusatory. I find this particularly common with women, especially women with a busy family life.

The word “Relax” comes with all sorts of connotation. Everyone knows they need to relax more and stress less, especially everyone who ends up on your table. We live in a culture with numerous technological advances that were supposed to free us up to have more leisure time and do less work…but often times have had the opposite effect. So many of us (myself included) try to cram so much more into our days than is humanly possible to achieve…simply because we can. We strive for growth and excellence and sometimes we lose our balance in it all. The list of tasks most of us have is so long…scheduling in a massage may be the only down time we have (and thank goodness for that, and our opportunity and honor to be a part of that.) It is SO easy for anyone to say: “I know I should relax, but I can’t.” Letting go is hard. Getting on the table is the first step.

So when you say “relax”, the client can hear so much more. They can start beating themselves up in an instant if you let them. I have found it important, for this subset of clients, to avoid the use of the word “relax” altogether.

These phrases help avoid:

The annoyed, “I am relaxed”, as his shoulders are 3 inches off the table and he’s holding his breath, pointing his toes towards the wall.

The helpless “I just can’t relax” as she holds her arm up for you.

Or my personal favorite, “That’s just how my body is” as her arms are folded neatly over her stomach and she is sticking out the goods and elongating her neck, trying to look pretty on the table.

If you have ever run into one of these problems, or notice clients becoming more tense when you use the word “relax”, try using one of these phrases instead:

  1. “Pretend you are a rag doll.”
  2. “Be a sack of potatoes.”
  3. “Don’t hold up the weight of your body, let me hold it for you.”
  4. “Let me hold that arm/leg for you.”
  5. “Let those joints go loose.” “Let that shoulder go loose.” etc
  6. “Let the weight of that arm/leg/shoulder fall to the floor.”
  7. “Allow those muscles to release” “Allow them to melt into the table.”
  8. “Give me a spaghetti arm/spaghetti leg.”
  9. “Allow that arm/leg to go slack.”
  10. “Let your full weight sink in to the table.”
  11. If you are stretching a leg and the client tries to stretch it for you try: “Release the tension in your lower back, now your hip, your leg, your knee, your calf and ankle, there we go.” Normally they will release about halfway through. You usually don’t have to repeat this sequence on the second leg…but sometimes you will. You can use this sequence for any body part, obviously, working proximal to distal in your recitation.
  12. *Edit: added 4/14/14* Bonus number 12! I forgot about this one but I use it a lot: “Soften your shoulder”, “Soften your elbow for me” “Soften your hip and knee” etc. It works very well.

I find that avoiding possessive pronouns when possible (using this/that/those/a instead of you/your), as well as using verbs that reinforce their control (allow/let) is more empowering for them, allowing them to live in their physical bodies and disengage from their vision and mental embodiment of Self. Don’t allow them to think that they don’t have the ability to relax. Through your words, you give them the power and help them recognize that they can make the conscious choice to release (obviously, only if they are physically able to and with extra practice for some who are very resistant mentally).

These phrases should be used in conjunction with your non verbal cues. I have found them to be very effective for most clients. If after this, they are still resistant and say something like “I’m just not a relaxed person” then I change my approach and start using different techniques on the body part I am working on, while using my standard reply: “No worries, it takes some time but we will get you there. There’s my job security.” and a smile. The next time, I try out a different phrase or combination of phrases…but I will usually find the right one for a particular client in the first session.

They haven’t made a liar out of me yet :)

I hope that this is helpful for some of you that might be struggling with this particular issue. If you have additional ideas/verbal cues to add please do so below in the comments!

(Author’s note: I just couldn’t resist the Dirty Dancing reference. Side note, I found this while googling for it. Hehe)

 

You might be a Mobile Massage Therapist if…

 

 

 

…you own 22 pairs of nail clippers and 1,684 nail files…and they are scattered in every room in your home, every bag you own and every compartment of your car. You know they are there…somewhere…

 

…stairs are your mortal enemy.

 

…you have learned Zen and the Art of Not Flipping Jerky Drivers off on the Freeway…because, you know,  your car has your phone number on it now.

 

…you know where the handicap accessible entrances are in every large building in your town.

 

…people in elevators have pointed at your table/cart and asked you why you brought a bed with you to the hotel.

 

…you’ve done a massage while someone held their dog/cat/infant daughter on their stomach for the entire session.

 

…you bring your massage table car shopping…and station wagons start looking like mighty fine rides.

 

…you get asked at least twice a week if you are creeped out by going to stranger’s houses.

 

…your other cup holder has been known to tote a backup bottle of massage oil.

 

…you’ve been amazed at how many people don’t know their own building number or gate code.

 
…you have come up with at least 4 alternative designs for your massage table cart, all while walking some distance with it. You’ve never fabricated any of them, but you can dream.

 

…you’ve had recurring dreams of being stuck in traffic while your poor client waits for you across town.

 

…when someone complains about how long it takes to drive somewhere, you bite your tongue and smile.

 

…you’ve ever forgotten your table cart, and the stretch of hotel from the parking area to the guest elevators might as well be the Sahara Desert.

 

…you carried it all the whole way anyway, and regretted it later.

 

…to you, your client’s cute yard ornaments look more like an obstacle course, complete with booby traps.

 

…and last but not least, though this might be a southwest LMT exclusive… you might be a mobile massage therapist if your massage table has ever gotten snagged on a cactus.

 

 

Thank you, and good night!

Please feel free to add more mobile massage specific ones below! :) 

Networking, Neck-Working and Self Education

 

People love my neck work for a reason, it rocks.

I don’t mean to brag…except that I do.

I absolutely love when people get up off of my table, speechless at their new found range of motion, smiling and rotating their head, trying to articulate how much they liked it.

Some would say it is an intuitive process, that I’ve just always known what to do to get the kinks out…somewhere inside, I am simply a true healer. Some would say that it is a gift from God.

…and they would be utterly W. R. O. N. G.

It is a learned skill. I learned it from my girl, Sandee. She is this awesome massage therapist who I met through the Las Vegas Massage Therapy Meetup Group. One day we were having coffee with the meetup group and networking, the next thing I knew I was in my birthday suit on her massage table (read: heaven) and she was schooling me on the fine tuned art of neck-working. She drastically changed (improved)  the way I work with people’s necks and shoulders. And I love her for it!

I am a big fan of networking with other massage therapists. Why? Because one of the best ways to learn new things is to connect with new people. To meet people, face to face, shake their hand,and see what they have to say. To learn new techniques, get business advice, and keep abreast of what is going on in the industry. To “talk massage” with people who actually care, and will laugh at anatomical jokes with the word “fascia” in them.

I am also a big fan of learning in general and an [aspiring?] champion of self education. I’ve learned from many other massage therapists, in person, through good books, and online.

As a new massage therapist, with absolutely no start up money (when I came in to this career I didn’t even have a bank account, for goodness sakes), the internet was my best friend,,,and further back, from the time I received my first computer at 15, a paleolithic hand-me-down from my aunt with a 500 MB hard drive, I have been a huge fan of self education. As soon as I started massage school, I hit the ground running…digitally. I was lucky enough to work for an answering service that specialized in medical accounts, so I was free to use company time to learn as much as I wanted to know about the medical field. While in some ways, that was one of the jobs that taught me that I didn’t want to work for other people, in other ways it was invaluable to my development as a competent therapist. During the day I would learn all of this wonderful information at school, and at night I would cross reference that with what I was learning in the medical field.

The fact is, the face of education is changing. It is starting to look a lot more like my night shift and a lot less like dorm-living and $30,000 a year in debt.

Image Courtesy of  jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are tried and true methods of getting the right information to the right people, and I am not going to deny that a classroom full of people is one fantastic way of doing that…not to mention the merits of earning an actual degree…but the world is changing and education for education’s sake is becoming more easily accessible, more cost effective, and more diverse than we may have ever dreamed. Non-credit courses, some even from Ivy League universities, are popping up all over the internet on platforms such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity. Other learning platforms such as the Khan Academy are teaching advanced mathematics and physics to anyone who has an internet connection and the gumption to take it on.

Hey you, have you ever wanted to know what it was like to sit in on a class at Harvard? MIT? Georgetown? Berkeley? Ever wondered if you had what it takes to pass the course?  Well, now you can, with the click of a few buttons. Though some classes require a great deal of prerequisite knowledge and skill, there are also countless beginner’s courses. Khan Academy, for example, literally begins at the beginning: 1+1=2.

But let’s dial it back a bit from months long college level courses, and take a look at the bite sized lunch hour educator, Youtube.

I have learned a lot of different techniques from a lot of different places. In fact once, I was on the elevator at the Tropicana hotel here in Las Vegas. As I was on my way up to my client’s hotel room, the digital display in the elevator was playing a promo video of someone getting a massage at their newly opened spa, Glow. For 21 stories, I admired a technique that the therapist was using on their client, a certain way of working cross body on the erectors that looked pretty easy on the wrists. I tried that technique a few minutes later and my client and I both seemed to like it. I use it frequently now, and have a new tool in my kit, all because I was on the right elevator at the right time. It is possible that someone, somewhere has a trademark on the technique, considers it part of their proprietary modality, and charges people hundreds of dollars to learn it. I, with respect, blow raspberries in their general direction.

I’ve learned a lot of techniques from videos, some that I happened across in the elevator, and some that I searched for on Youtube. When I first started school, Facebook was in its infancy. Nowadays, there are hundreds of Facebook groups to choose from with thousands of massage therapists from all over the world. If you have a question, you can post it and usually have a myriad of opinions within minutes. Joining the Massage Practice Builder Yahoo group, which I discovered in 2010 (and which was an email group and has since transitioned to an awesome Facebook group) was a step in the right direction, but nothing as diverse and convenient as the many social networking resources we have available now. Searching online for information about massage was hit or miss, but also a lot of fun.  Playing Youtube roulette looking for massage technique videos led me to some interesting and tawdry places, but also to a lot of hidden gems.

I’ve learned techniques for muscle working, draping, spa services, and lots of other aspects of the business both on and off the table from helpful and timely youtube videos. I soaked it up like a sponge. I think it has made a big difference for my business and the way I approach my never ending massaducation. (As portmanteaus go, I’ll admit that one is pretty terrible.)

So, here we are, 1100 words in (Are you NOT entertained?!) and I am finally getting to my point: what does education mean to you?

Lately I have pondered this a lot. I worked a chair massage gig with a therapist who is relatively new to the field, and we came to the discussion of prenatal massage. I was familiar with his level of education because we went to the same school. He mentioned being interested in prenatal massage but “knowing he couldn’t practice it until he was certified.” I questioned this, and the conversation led to the fact that someone told him this. He really thought that until he received a prenatal certification, he couldn’t touch a pregnant client.

Legally, (and this is to the best of my knowledge, so if I am wrong please send me a link to the law you are referencing) any licensed therapist who has prenatal training can massage a pregnant woman. They don’t need a special certification, that is what our licensing is for. Ethically, they need to be trained, but that doesn’t mean paying hundreds of dollars for formal classroom training. The information regarding best practices and contraindication is out there, waiting to be learned. With the exception of understanding possible contraindications, avoiding certain techniques, proper positioning and proper draping…massaging a pregnant woman is much like massaging any other human person. They aren’t aliens.

I respect that prenatal certification courses exist, and I understand their intent in providing a thorough education for people who are interested in specializing in, just want more information about, or need more confidence in performing prenatal massage. I like that the certification exists to help clients understand that these therapists have received additional training,  it is a good piece of mind for an expectant mother to see that credential when trying to determine who they will see. I would like to take one of these courses one day. However, there is a lot of confusion around the idea of continuing education certifications both for therapists and the public, and what is truly required.

Someone who hasn’t completed the certification course can not call themselves a certified prenatal therapist – but they most certainly can legally work with pregnant women, as long as they have some training, formal or informal, and know what they are doing.

When they finish their core curriculum and complete the requirements to become a licensed, registered or certified massage therapist they become a professional. The core curriculum is supposed to teach them enough to be a competent bodyworker – to know the difference between a pregnant and a non pregnant body, to know how to do a proper intake,  to know the difference between a technique that will nurture a body and a technique that will harm a body. These are the basics.

That is why I find it so distasteful that people keep insisting that anything but live hands on classes is somehow a lesser education, or even forbidden. That a technique can’t possibly be learned, except in person. That seems to me to be a very narrow point of view. There is a lot to be learned online, and putting the techniques into practice, as a competent and educated therapist who isn’t knowingly infringing on someone’s trademarked work and has done their homework, is not wrong.

If I can learn Quantum Physics or Neuronal Dynamics in an online class – why not foot massage? It isn’t Rocket Science. Though if you are interested in that, I’m sure you can find the right course to get you started.

So go on with your bad self. Google and learn. Use your educated mind, logical deduction, and social media resources to select quality material that will help you be of better service.

Always honor your teachers.

…and always take every article, ebook, class, video and blog post with a grain of salt. Question everything, and grow.

The Fifteen Commandments of Mobile Massage and Personal Safety

  1. Thou shalt: not be afraid of thy clients, as most of them are normal, harmless individuals and perfectly lovely people. Being prepared for a bad client is not bad juju, negative thinking, or paranoid.  It is simply cultivating the tools you need to go into a potentially dangerous situation confidently so that you and your client are both at ease.
  2. Thou shalt: understand that most people seeking sexual services are not violent, and can be avoided with clear communication.
  3. Thou shalt: understand that de-escalation and removal of oneself from any dangerous situation is the first goal.
  4. Thou shalt: understand the predatory mindset, and realize that most victimizers go after easy prey so projecting steady confidence may be an effective deterrent.
  5. Thou shalt: always inform a colleague, friend or family member (exit buddy) of where they are, and when they will be checking in. In addition, always have detailed instructions for the exit buddy in the event no call/text is received. (How soon to call, when a 911 call is appropriate, etc) and consider making two safety calls: one when the service has concluded and one when safely in his/her vehicle. If texting, thou shalt consider including a specific code word or phrase to verify identity. It may not be a bad idea to delete these text messages immediately after they are sent.
  6. Thou shalt: feel comfortable with screening clients thoroughly and not be afraid  to ask over the phone: “Just to be clear, are you seeking sexual services?” if you have a feeling they are. If asked such a direct question in a polite manner, most creepers will either hang up or say “Yes”…at which time you can politely let them know you don’t perform those services and to have a good day, then hang up. Do not be rude or scold…that is simply feeding the troll and may result in some unwanted flak. Firm, yet polite, is the best policy I’ve found to avoid harassment. You are not condoning their behavior, you are simply refusing to engage with them. and there is nothing wrong with that.
  7. Thou shalt: get all pertinent details about thy client at the time of booking and NEVER be afraid to refuse service at the risk of offending someone, when thy personal safety is an issue. Pertinent details include: First and last name, phone number, address, name of community (if any), gate code (if any), service length and type.
  8. Thou shalt: feel comfortable both googling a client and mapping the address ahead of time on google maps to verify the location if they have any apprehension.
  9. Thou shalt: not accept wishy washy crap from anyone when booking and shalt not be afraid to say the word “No.”. Examples of wishy washy crap include:

    Q: Can I decide how long my massage will be when you get here
    A: No, I need to know how long your appointment will be ahead of time so I can schedule other appointments that day.

    Q: Can I decide what type of massage to get when you get here?
    A: No, I need to make sure I bring the right supplies for the service…which ones were you trying to decide between?

    Q: Can you met me in the hotel lobby?
    A: No, I check in at the security desk before and after each appointment and they need to know where I am in the hotel for security purposes.

  10. Thou shalt: create or obtain and use a written client intake form including an informed consent specifically stating that sexual innuendo is not tolerated and will result in the termination of the session without a refund.
  11. Thou shalt: be aware of thy surroundings, including other people in the space, exits, and possible red flags. If thou shalt spy visible condoms, an envelope marked gift, or any other sexual paraphernalia thou shalt resist the urge to become visibly indignant and leave as quickly as possible.
  12. Thou shalt: never enter a dark room in front of a new client or turn thy back on a new client.
  13. Thou shalt: consider obtaining training in self defense, including but not limited to: martial arts, verbal judo, and firearms or other weapons training including (very importantly) weapon retention. Thou shalt understand all local laws and that in close quarters and without proper training, an attacker is much more likely to disarm you and use your weapon against you.
  14. Thou shalt: consider carrying non lethal personal safety devices such as high quality personal alarms and pepper spray. Thou shalt understand local laws regarding these devices and substances.
  15. Thou shalt: understand that avoidance is a form of self defense. The goal is to be prepared for any bad situation that arises, but above all else to avoid putting oneself in a dangerous situation in the first place. Trust your instincts.

    Image Courtesy of vudhikrai at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

    You could always bring him with you…but that may be just a tad off-putting.

Resources:
MassageCop.com
Article by Butch Watson of MassageCop.com
Interview with Butch Watson on The MassageNerd show
MassageTherapy.com/Outcall Safety
Massage Magazine Reader Advice

 

Please note: all content provided on this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for training or legal advice. The author will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The author will not be held liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

My Client, the White Supremacist and Cross Gender Massage.

(In which I go to bat for clients that have a penis.)

So, ya, you read that right. I wasn’t at a Klan rally.

I do teacher appreciation days at local public schools. It is a great way to advertise to one of my targeted demographics, and I truly enjoy providing this service. I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember, and actually began massage school so that I could have a part-time, high-paying job while I went through a four year university and got my teaching degree…but then, Massage Therapy and I fell in love…and you know the rest of the story. Teachers still have a special little spot in my heart though, since I have been fortunate enough to have so many great ones. At these teacher appreciation days, I raffle off a free 1 hour gift certificate. The person that won this particular gift decided to give it to someone else, which I was ok with.

When I arrived at my client’s house, things went a little differently than planned. Over the phone I was told we would be setting up in the bedroom but when I arrived, he had a worried look on his face and we set up in another room instead(I learned later, upon passing the room in the hallway with the door open, that it was filled with Nazi paraphernalia). At this point, I couldn’t really interpret the vibes I was getting – except that I didn’t feel threatened. I felt comfortable enough to stay. The house was full of people and I wasn’t afraid of him, just a little put off. So I set up, asked the usual questions, he let me know he was a tattoo artist so he has the usual neck/shoulder issues from long work hours,  and excused myself while he clambered up onto the table. (Normal, normal…normal).

Then I came back in and undraped his back.
A giant swastika glared back at me.
I blinked.
It didn’t.

I closed my eyes and centered myself, blinking a few more times to hold back wet eyes. Holy shit. I had a racist on my table. I had a Proud and Out racist on my table. I’m not white, but I pass as white pretty well. They think I might have a little Italian in me, or some Greek, or maybe I just have a good tan. I have a bit of a western twang…in other words, people have said I “sound white”. No one can usually place my racial mutt-ness of Seminole/Creek/Irish. I finally understood his confused and apprehensive behavior. He was trying to figure out whether or not I was white. Apparently he had decided it was worth the gamble for a free massage. Apparently also gambling on the fact that if I were white, that I would be ok with his hateful views. …and I was PISSED.

Then something happened. I heard a little voice inside of me say “First, do no harm.” I clung to it as I breathed steadily and began the massage. It became my quiet mantra, and I performed my best work, while remaining disengaged from the person on the table. Or rather, from the identity the person had imposed on themselves. I felt the human creature beneath my hands. I marveled at the intricacies of his circulatory system, the thought that he had been nurtured and loved as an infant. That he had grown and survived. I filled myself with pleasant thoughts of life and living, and rubbed/pressed/stripped/rolled/rubbed.

I wondered to myself why I didn’t just ask him to get up, or throw the jerk off the table and leave. Something made me stay. Not fear, but a sense of duty. I had work to do, damn it, and I was very well going to do it. I hadn’t finished my work. I thought of the only other line that I knew of the Hippocratic Oath, or at least what I thought was the Hippocratic Oath at the time (It is actually the Oath of Maimonides):

“May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.”

His neck and shoulders were a inflamed hotbed of trigger points and hypertonicity. Years of stress, possibly anger, possibly a great number of life’s other tragedies, failures, heartbreaks, or irritants had lodged there tightly. He was in serious pain. That is why he took the gamble.

I continued to work quietly, as I wondered why I only knew two lines of the Hippocratic Oath, even though I felt like a healthcare worker.

I continued to wonder how anyone in this day and age can actually be a racist.

I had a boyfriend when I was 21, who always wore jeans to the river. We had a summer romance and went to the river, the lake and the pool a lot. One day at the pool he flipped in and on his way down I noticed a swastika tattoo on the backside of his thigh. Naturally, I flipped the hell out. He had managed to hide it from me for the 2 months we had been together. After a day and a half of refusing to speak to him (I’m mature like that) I finally let him in and he explained that he got it in a garage when he was 13, he was part of a little punk group that thought themselves to be racists, and he acted like a complete ass for about 2 years – generally doing a lot of dangerous drugs, messing around with a lot of dangerous people, and spreading around a lot of hate. He wouldn’t tell me exactly what changed his mind, just that “there was this girl.” I asked him why he didn’t have it removed, and he said it was because he never wanted to forget how he felt and he kept it to remind him not only how wrong he could be, but how wrong other people could be. We had a long conversation about empathy and second chances, responsibility and growth. That conversation along with his gentleness and candor was one of the many reasons that I loved him.

This wasn’t the case with my client. It was the first thing I reached for in my attempt at empathy and understanding. An explanation.  His Swastika tattoo was fresh and bright, and if that wasn’t enough to convince me, it had other embellishments with names and was dated 2012. It wasn’t a misunderstanding, this man meant with every pixellated inch of his tattooed skin to convey his message to the world. I would have to reach deeper to find what I would need to get through the next hour.

The truth is I came up with a lot of the same insights as I did when I examined the idea of refusing cross gender massage, which is why I have tied these two posts together.

There is a huge faction of massage therapists that refuse to perform massage therapy on clients of the opposite sex. This really bothers me, the same way that it bothers me that men have such a hard time in our profession. For a lot of the same reasons.

When a client shows up at a spa for a massage, and refuses to see a male therapist, it shows a distrust. They don’t see men as nurturing. Some of them that are male aren’t quite homophobic, but just don’t feel “right” having a man touch them. This is discrimination. It is allowed, because as a consumer, we have the right to decide who touches our body. As therapists, we continue to educate to the best of our ability, but some people just aren’t “there” yet, or are holding on to old ideas of what nurturing means, or are confused about aspects of their sexuality or even the boundaries between sensual and sexual. They might be afraid that men will massage too “deep” or be dealing with a multitude of emotional issues that we can only refrain from guessing at.

Most people hold on to their prejudices. Many don’t care “why” they feel what they feel. They just know that that is the way they feel and that is the end of it. They don’t want to have to explain it to themselves or anyone else. Growth is uncomfortable. People need to do it on their own terms, and the best we can do is educate, in our individual practices and as a profession.

However, this is how I feel: Practitioners don’t get those same rights. Or rather, we seem to, but we shouldn’t.  Please let me clarify. I feel that a massage therapist should have the right to refuse service to someone, on an individual basis. If someone treats you badly, drains you, pushes your buttons, asks you for sexual favors, implies things, or makes you uneasy or afraid, you have the right to refuse service to them at any time. If over the phone you feel like someone poses a potential threat to you, or you get that uneasy feeling about them, you can refuse to see them. There is no reason for them to come in if all of your alarms are going off. Human beings made it pretty far on instinct. It is there for a reason. There is no need to have a mind so open that all of your brains start falling out.

This is different than refusing to service a specific subset of the population such as: “I don’t work on men”, “I don’t work on women”, “I don’t work on black people”,  “I don’t work on white people”, “I only work with healthy people”, “I don’t work on fat people” or “I don’t work on republicans.”

You can also target a specific demographic, no problem, that is different than refusing to work with a specific population (I mention this because recently in Facebook threads there has seemed to be some confusion between these two ideas).

I am of the idea that we should be held to the same standards as healthcare workers in terms of non discriminatory practices and other practices outlined in the following (and pictured below). As I learned more about the Hippocratic Oath, the Oath of Maimonides, and the Declaration of Geneva…I read through them and although I am not religious, I was touched. I got goosebumps. I think there is a reason for that.

When you dedicate your life to service, to taking away the pain of others, there is a certain responsibility that comes with the knowledge and skills. I’m trying to articulate this the best I can…and I keep coming back to this simple sentence:

We can be more.

Therapeutic touch transcends all boundaries. We can be more than what we are. We should always strive to be better human beings and to better serve the rest of humanity. To be of the best possible service. In a culture rife with sexism, misogyny and rape it is all the more necessary that we strive to provide non judgmental, healthy touch. I am of the idea that we are on the front lines of this change, this shift, in the way that people look at human contact, relationships and gender roles.

We are waking up from hundreds of years of imposed religious ideas about female sexuality and the role of women in the hierarchy of civilization. Even today, women continue to fight to be taken seriously in the workplace, to receive a fair wage, to have control over their own bodies, and to hold positions in elected offices. Even today, men in the political spotlight are criticized for their voting history and opinions while women are criticized on the size of their waist, the color of their nail polish, or what they chose to wear that day.

Women today continue to fight (socially, if not legally) for the right to be treated as equals to their male counterparts…and so do our male allies. Many of those women who have fought for our rights, did have men standing next to them, or behind the scenes, who supported them. Many had supportive husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, nephews, grandfathers, cousins and male friends.

No matter how you look at it, when you refuse to serve half of the population because something might go wrong in the session, or you might get hurt, or you might feel uncomfortable – you are perpetuating the idea that all men are potential rapists. Furthermore, you are reinforcing someone else’s idea that the men in your life are potential rapists. This is disingenuous to our profession, disingenuous to good men, and to all of the work human beings are trying to do to collectively improve our perception and understanding of one another and civilization.

Men are not rapists. Rapists are rapists.
Men are not creeps. Creeps are creeps.

People are individual.

As their massage therapist, it is none of my business if they have a penis or a vagina or any amalgamation thereof.

Or what race they are.
Or how old they are.
Or who they voted for.
Or how much money they make.
Or where they come from.
Or who they choose to love.
Or what their religion is (if any).

My job is to relax them, to relieve them of pain. To help them feel better in , and move with, their body. Plain and simple.

Now if a religious person preaches to me and makes me uncomfortable, I have no problem refusing to see them. Or if a man leers or starts wagging around his wally the one eyed wonder, or asks suspicious questions over the phone, or if a right-wing person pressures me about my political views, or if someone is generally just being a rude jerk…then they can be fired. But they are the exception, not the rule.

As I finished up on my racist client and left, I’m not going to lie, I cried a bit in the car. Partially because I was uncomfortable and confused, and partially because I felt truly sorry for the person I was working on. I felt he would lead a life compartmentalized by his belief system,  unable to feel that loving thrum of humanity…that dazzling, rusty, rough hewn, unpolished, vibrating plane of connection we are still working on while reconciling our emotional and rational selves to work harmoniously together…to further our understanding, to be open to new ideas, to connect to one another, learn, engage and grow. It is a beautiful thing.

People can become shackled by their beliefs. ” I mean, you can change an idea, changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it.”

I silently thanked him. I had finally sorted out my thoughts and feelings regarding refusing a specific client vs refusing to service a group of people. I won’t be seeing him again…but for the span of an hour, he made me uncomfortable.

Just uncomfortable enough to help me grow.

________________________________________

(Please click on the images to enlarge them)

Declaration of Geneva or Physician's OathOath of MaimonidesThe Hippocratic Oath

Thirty Two Add-On Service Ideas for Non-Spa Massage Therapists

(This post is inspired by a question asked over on the Massage Nerd Group on Facebook today. If you aren’t a member, yet, come join in on the discussion! 1,838 minds are better than 1.)

spaface

I have a lot of fun with spa services. You will probably see me write about them a lot. I love to have creamy concoctions that smell pleasant smeared onto my skin and massaged in. I love to have my dead skin cells sheared away with tiny crystals and to have hot steamy towels envelop various appendages while I soak it in and pretend to be Cleopatra. It is heavenly. Moreover, I love to design, implement and execute these services in my practice. For me, it is soothing, relaxing, artful, and restful.

…however, this post isn’t about me. It is about you. The therapist who doesn’t sit by as they massage hot oil into a client’s scalp or apply warm sugar scrub to the feet and enjoy the service by proxy, like some therapeutic succubus, vicariously living through every girly spa treatment she gives.

(…what? I said it isn’t about me…)

It is about you, the therapist in the trenches who doesn’t want to bother with essential oil selection, whether to use raw turbinado sugar or salt, or use a mortar and pestle because it makes them feel old timey and cool. You, who when asked about “spa services” cringe when you think about the additional laundry, the oil stains, the salt granules between the toes, the ooey gooey, creamy, slimy, smelly, sticky, girly, messy stuff flying around all the time. You think about all of the bowls and bottles and canisters of extra stuff you have to procure, mix, and handle…and it just seems like more trouble than it is worth.

Fear not, non-spa massage therapist, for you too can offer add on services that can help increase your bottom line and add value for your clients without adding to your laundry basket or taking away from your ability to stay goop-free. For the purposes of this article, I am including both energetic types of work and more clinical approaches in order to satisfy/address a wider audience.

Here is a list of ideas, in no particular order:

1) A scalp massage add-on. You can do this dry, or with your lubricant if it is good quality. Some people hate stuff in their hair so of course be sure to ask first. A little goes a long way. If you feel like you want to add something a little extra or different, you can use a shampoo brush or scalp massaging instrument along with your hands and fingers. They even make battery operated scalp massagers…which I haven’t tried yet but want to. I’m not sure if they would work well for clients in a service but might make a good product offering for self care.

2-5) Reflexology add-ons. If you are trained in reflexology you can offer it on the feet, hands, ears, and face.  It can be incredibly relaxing and doesn’t involve any additional product or set up.

6) Abdominal Massage add on. You can use or combine different modalities, or receive training specific to this area, such as Maya Abdominal Massage. 

7) Facial Massage. You can do this dry or with your lubricant if it is very gentle and of high quality. I prefer to use jojoba, virgin coconut or safflower oil on the face. A little goes a long way. There are lots of CEUs and instructional videos on this subject.

8) Acupressure.

9) Reiki.

10) Cupping

11) Facial Cupping

12) Facial lymphatic drainage

13) Dry Brushing exfoliation

14) Hot and cold stone massage. If used as an add on you can simply use 6 stones, and a refrigerator or small heating device. There’s no need to heat up or cool a set of 30 stones. It doesn’t have to be that complicated.

15) Hot or cold stone facial massage. Both can be great for headaches and can be very relaxing.

16) 15 or 30 minute therapeutic stretching and/or ROM time. This can be a great add on for those that request relaxation massage but you know they could use something a little more. They are more receptive to it because you aren’t taking away from their full treatment time.

17) They can book a time block for 15/30 mins before or after their massage to just zone out on the table. You can call this “meditation time” or just “decompression time” etc.

18) A lot of my clients enjoy therapeutic hair pulling. These are usually my clients who constantly have in weaves or extensions, and they book their sessions in between getting new sets installed. I have been trying to come up with the best name for this service and I think I will add it my menu as “Hairapy”. I know, gimmicky…but I don’t want it to get confused with the scalp massage options I offer.

19) Kinesio Taping

20) Craniosacral Therapy

21) Indian head massage

22) Asian reflexology. Did you know that there are actually many different methods of reflexology besides the Ingram method? Check them out. You might find something you like better.

23) Ice massage add-on. Water, mini dixie cups, and a freezer. You will need one hand towel for this one.

24) The Toasty Toes add on. For those clients that get cold feet easily. You can have them in this the entire time and end the massage with an extra 15 minutes of massage on their nice warm feet.

25) Ice plunge add-on. For those that work with their hands a lot. You walk them through it and include printed instructions on how to effectively do it at home. all that is required is a little ice and water (easy if you already have a freezer in your office) and a small tub or bucket.

26-31) Other self-help protocol add-ons. You can add self-help protocols with or without tools such as tennis balls, specific stretches and ROM exercises, etc. The “add on” would be an extra 15/30 mins allotted to teaching them how to use the information or tools effectively, maybe a print out reminder, and a set of tennis balls etc.(example: wrist relief, shoulder relief, low back relief, foot relief, neck relief, headache relief, etc)

32) Extra 15/30 minute samples: I usually let my clients know that they can “sample” a different modality during their regular massage time to see if they like it and want it added in later. I have decided to start advertising this as an “add-on”, in the hopes that people won’t have as much trepidation because they know they are getting their full massage time, with just 15 mins “extra” of trying something new.

I hope these ideas have been helpful. I realize different therapists might already include some  of these services in their regular session pricing…my intent was to include as many as I could think of on this list to stoke the imagination.  If you are a therapist who chooses to maintain a goop-free lifestyle and you feature “add-ons” in your practice, please let us all know what they are below. We would love to hear from you!

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Breakfast Club Meetup and the Liquid Network

Alternate Title:  Engage,  Damn it,  Engage!

Sunday morning I am meeting with a group of fellow massage therapists for our monthly Breakfast Club meetup.  In case you aren’t familiar with the term meetup, it is the name given to a gathering of people who are members of a  particular group on meetup.com. Meetup.com was created to provide an online platform for the organization of groups and clubs with various interests. The fantastic thing about Meetup.com is that it isn’t about creating another niche forum or circle of online friends, everything within the platform is geared towards meeting up in Real Life, with other living, breathing, hairy, navel-lint-having humans for actual, mouth-to-ear-with-no-digital-device-in-between conversations and experiences. We get real old school…vocal chords straight to tympanic membrane, yo! (too much…?)

If you are into basket weaving, you type it in to their search bar and you’ll likely find a local group of enthusiasts…likewise, you’ll find groups for everything from religion to rock climbing to paranormal research. Or if you are a bona fide muscle rubbing entrepreneur like myself, you might land on the page of the Las Vegas Massage Therapy Meetup Group…just like I did back in 2009 after a random Google adventure. With 644 members, we are one of the largest therapeutic massage oriented meetups in the world. We have had amazing educators from all over the world take time out of their busy schedules to give presentations to our group, and have one of the most fabulous and widespread networks outside of professional associations. When our members gather, great things happen.

Image courtesy of  Grant Cochrane  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Which brings me to our Breakfast Club Meetups…where we meet once per month to enjoy food and/or novelty beverages of choice, and talk. We don’t have any formal agenda, we are simply there to connect with like minds and tap into the Liquid Network. We regale one another with our fascia tales, tell jokes, ask questions, and bounce ideas off one another. Sometimes we lament, sometimes we celebrate, sometimes we talk about the down and dirty side of the massage field, sometimes we geek out over new research findings or massage equipment, sometimes we tell dirty jokes and talk about sex (we ARE adult humans, after all [see:navel lint]). Sometimes one of the techies talks about their new gadget and how it is helping their business. We talk, A LOT…we engage…and at least once, every time, there is an “Aha!” moment for someone.

To the outsider, we certainly don’t look hard-at-work…but on a cellular level, we are marvelously busy.

I  don’t think I fully appreciated the gravity of the resource we had at our fingertips,  until I watched this fantastic talk on TED. If you aren’t  familiar with TED, cozy up! Make yourself a snack and that novelty beverage of your choice and prepare to have your mind blown as you grin to yourself while staring at your computer screen slack-jawed and/or nodding like a  maniac. If you have a significant other, they must also be prepared for you to pull them away from whatever fruitful task they are performing to share with you in your voyage to  TED-land to discover the bold,  beautiful, and awesome ideas worth spreading.

There, those should keep you busy for awhile, but watch this one first.

Pretty great, right? I love when he starts talking about our pre-conceived notions about what “deep thinking” is supposed to look like and how great ideas are supposed to be formed. The truth is, when human beings get together,  there is no limit to what we are capable of coming up with. You may believe that networking for your business involves networking strictly with professionals other than massage therapists; however,  you might be surprised how much your business grows once you connect and engage with your local massage community for some face time.

One of the most important things I have learned from my time with the Meetup group and an amazing mentor, is that you don’t necessarily receive from the same part of your life or career from which you give. You put energy,  intent, and most importantly hard work, out there and do your best, and it usually comes back but sometimes from a completely different source or angle…to put it into a bodywork perspective…it is like a tensegrity model. You put energy into one strand of the structure and it effects all of the structure, with that energy often coming back to you along a different path. I want us all to expand  that model, to make it hum with the energy of pure loving intent…and there is enough energy there for everyone to be a  part and reap the benefits of a population that is waking up and  demanding more from life! Every single day, people who have never had a  massage are going for it and experiencing the amazing work we have to offer. It can and does change lives. Every day, there are new massage fans created (and birthed! For that matter…)

There are enough aching bodies to go around and the more therapists you know, the more people you can help. Really. There will come a time that you will not be able to help everyone who calls…or you simply might not be the right therapist for them, and you need to refer out, and vice versa.

You never know when that amazing idea is going to hit for you, or when that person  or piece of information or connection you have been looking for is going to fall into your lap. Unlike being on the internet, when one’s goal is generally to collect information or Get Things Done…having a cup of coffee allows one to do what we, as human beings, naturally always want to do  –  connect with another human being.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so get out there and engage…and if you’re ever in Vegas, come hang out with us! Even if it is just for a cup of coffee and a questionable joke. Chance favors the connected mind.

I’ll drink to that.