Why is using professional products and equipment so difficult?

We’re pretty psyched to bring you this guest post from Tracy Bradley. She smart, hilarious, and knows what she’s talking about. 

tracyWhy is using professional products and equipment so difficult? I really would like to understand. I’m all for saving money but raiding our pantry isn’t exactly putting our best face out there, you know? That’s right; I’m all in a tizzy about slow cookers, rice cookers and turkey roasters being used by massage therapists instead of towel cabinets and hot stone warmers.  And I guess I’m not really MAD exactly, I just don’t understand the resistance to professional equipment.

Let’s start with the fact that slow cookers are designed to cook. We aren’t trying to cook our towels and stones, are we? I know I’m not. I started out with a slow cooker when I first decided to try hot towels during sessions. I wanted to make sure I could incorporate heat into treatments and that my clients would enjoy it before I invested money in a hot towel cabinet. During that month I scorched quite a few towels. The smell of burnt towels and lavender doesn’t go away easily. Before you say it, yes, I tried different settings and adding more water. But the outcome was the same: my towels cooked in the slow cooker. I rejoiced with the Happy Dance of Joy the day my cabinet arrived! Woo hoo and squeals and “look at this!” were repeated for a couple of days.

My husband was happy when this piece of equipment arrived, too. He’s an insurance agent and was NOT excited about any extended use of a slow cooker for towels. He’s fun and funny most of the time but he tends to always look at things from a liability stand-point. Our insurance company might not cover claims upon finding appliances misused. Furthermore, the insurance of the building owner might not cover claims upon finding appliances misused. It’s been drilled into my head:

  • What if there is a fire?
  • What if you burn someone?
  • What if you burn yourself?
  • What if you don’t pass an inspection?

If you use proper equipment you are more likely to be covered for accidents. (Not a guarantee of coverage here, each claim/company is different.)

I’ve interjected my opinions about hot towel cabinets and hot stone warmers in Facebook group discussions. I’m of the minority. When I bring these things up people always remind me that fires and accidents happen with proper equipment, too. Yes, I’m well aware of that. My point isn’t to prevent accidents (although proper equipment COULD prevent overheating) it is to better prepare yourself in case of an accident.  Cover your ass. You have intake forms, SOAP charts and privacy policies so why skimp on equipment?

I also recommend the use of a professional hot stone warmer. Yes, they are expensive, but there are options. Shop around. Find a size that works for you. I like the ones with a digital thermometer on the outside. Mine is easy to control and easy to read. And it looks nice.

Slow cookers, rice cookers and turkey roasters don’t exactly look great in our treatment rooms. Some of the newer models are shiny and pretty, but really, they look cheap and unprofessional. (I’m not saying ugly because I realize that the professional things of which I speak aren’t exactly beautiful.) We spend a lot of time in Facebook groups venting because we aren’t being taken seriously by certain folks. Start getting serious. Upgrade one thing at a time. They are tax-deductible (check with your tax expert on exactly how). And you can find great bargains on auction sites.

You have a top-of-the-line table so why skimp on other equipment? Do you think the franchises use turkey roasters? (If they do, please correct me as I’m going by their advertisement photos.)

What do you use in your treatment room and why?

*Please note that I am not a mobile therapist.

Tracy Bradley is a Licensed Massage Therapist, kick-ass mom, and owner of The Comfort Zone Massage in Paris, Arkansas. 

The most wonderful time of the year?



The holidays are kinda weird. For all the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ jingles, it’s also the toughest for many people. Some people over-commit to family, friends, volunteer tasks and find themselves over scheduled and unable to actually enjoy the season. Some of us dread the inevitable, obligatory socializing and the pressure of being ‘on’. Some of us are grieving.

So here is Allissa’s Unofficial List of Holiday Survival Tips. Some of them are brilliant. Some of them suck. Maybe you’ll find a nugget in here. Maybe not.

Screw obligations

Yeah, I said it. Screw ’em. Just because you’ve always gone to Aunt Sue’s for Christmas Eve doesn’t mean you always have to. Don’t. Say, “I’m starting a new tradition this year, I’m really looking forward to cooking with my kids and having a quiet family night.” Then set up another time to visit Aunt Sue when you’ll actually be able to visit her, instead of just a hug between appetizers while stuffed into a small house with 30 loud relatives.

Reframe obligations

When I hear people complain about all the ‘stuff’ they have to do, I usually say, “Dude. Stop doing it.” The typical reply is, “Oh, but I really like having 37 different types of cookies and seeing all my 3rd cousins!” Cool. I can respect that. But stop looking at (and speaking of) the tasks and events like chores. This isn’t a martyr contest. Nobody gives a damn that Betty SUV Soccer Mom makes her bundt cake from scratch and you use a mix. Except Betty, and that’s her issue. Do stuff because you want to, because it brings you joy. And quit doing the stuff you don’t want to do.

Stick with the people who warm your soul

Some of us are not close with our families. We flinch when people say, “At the end of the day, family is all you have.” Especially when it’s said in that condescending tone, as if the listener isn’t aware of the notion. That’s just not true for everyone. For many, many people, family relationships are rarely nourishing and often painful. We’ve built friendships that stand in for the sibling and parental relationships that will simply never be fulfilling. So why feel obligated to spend a holiday with anyone other than those who bring us joy and unconditional love?

Step back from the gift-giving (and receiving) or just change it dramatically

Do you really want another gift set of perfumey bath gel and body lotion? Do you really want to be giving that crap to someone else? Blech. Maybe it’s time to reexamine your gift-giving habits. Instead of exchanging gifts with your adult friends and family, can you decide to spend that money having a great dinner together in January?

If you feel really attached to giving a tangible object, can you simplify the process? All the adults in my life get a jar of local honey from my favorite apiary. Or some years I give a holiday ornament purchased from a local charity. When I was a kid, my mom made an ornament every year. Actually, she made a whole bunch of a particular ornament every year. Every cousin (and my brother and I) got one and they always had our names and the year written on them.  By the time each of us was an adult, we had 18 years worth of personalized ornaments. It was a really neat way to start decorating when I moved out of my parent’s house and did my own Christmas tree. Even better, they could be made well ahead of Christmas, so the ornament-making didn’t need to take up any precious time in November and December.

This year I’m scouring thrift stores for neat things I can spray-paint silver & make into ornaments. See the inspiration here and here. There are some more great ideas for downsizing the gift-giving here, in my favorite minimalist blog, Zen Habits.

Rethink your assumptions

Just because you’ve always done the holidays a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing that. It’s all a choice. Sometimes you don’t even need to change the pattern, just recognizing that it’s a choice is enough.

What changes have you made to improve your holiday season? Help a sister out and share in the comments!

Wishing you a happy, merry, joyous whatever-you-celebrate. I hope you get exactly the holiday you want (and deserve).

The Best BBQ Advice You’ll Ever Get (from a Massage Therapist)

A guest post from Leslie Forrester because she’s awesome (and wrote about food). 

bbqAdmit it, you clicked because you were like WHAT???  This is the story of stories.  You’re a massage therapist, you know you can help people, but you get the blank stares and the “Oh, I’ll call you”.  But your table is empty more often than you would like.  What to do?  You’ve tried advertising or social media.  But eventually you have to go out and talk to the general public.

Many people who are unfamiliar with what we do have misconceptions about massage – some of them are completely incorrect and some are just a little a little outdated, shall we say?  With all the continuing research, even the most seasoned massage “junkies” in our practices need some updated information.  But how to go about that?  It’s very easy to dazzle people with our knowledge – our own knowledge base is very different than the general public’s, and there is a danger in getting too technical – and often you can do damage to a potential therapeutic relationship by overuse of jargon.  You want to be technically correct but it can be to the detriment of their overall understanding.

WWJD?  I’m not saying that I bring religion into the session – but I do use analogy very extensively when I am out and about in my public networking and during my intake process and the conversation that happens during and after the sessions.  I embrace the parable and the analogy.  It brings our work to the public in a way that all the jargon and modality talk can never do. There are a few specific examples I’ll share with you.

The Bridge

I use the bridge extensively with clients or potential clients who are involved in chiropractic care.  I live in Tampa Bay, where there is a gorgeous suspension bridge called the Sunshine Skyway.  Think Golden Gate – cables, bridge, arch, etc.  The point of it is about tensegrity – the body working together.  The basic wording I use goes like this:

The body is like the Skyway Bridge – If you want to move the bridge, you need to loosen some cables and tighten others – if you don’t it means either the bridge is going to go RIGHT back to where it was or fall into the sea.

The Beef Jerky 

I use Beef Jerky as an example with clients in intake when I have to explain fascia and myofascial release.  Lots of clients are men doing physical work that makes them sore and that’s how they end up on my table.  This analogy really speaks to them.

Ever try to rip really good homemade beef jerky in half?  You know the white stringy bits – it’s not just in cows and pigs, it’s in us too!  It wraps around all the muscles and in the spaces of the body, making it hard for muscles to separate and work properly.

Cobwebs – I use cobwebs to describe fascia to the non jerky eating set.  Fascia looks like cobwebs and acts like cobwebs, sticking to itself and everything around it.  Who hasn’t walked into a web and had it stick to their face?

Let’s get to the BBQ advice, though.

Clients and people who get to know me want to know how I can tell, what do I feel, how do I know what hurts?  Obviously it’s not as simple as JUST the information in the above video, there’s a lot of anatomy and school and everything but that doesn’t help them to understand in the same way that explaining if your body in general feels medium-rare and I come across this one little spot that is well-done…that’s probably the problem area.

If you didn’t click through on the video, there is basically a handy temperature guide for red meat  – on your hand.  If you touch right at the fleshy part at the base of the thumb (abductor pollicis brevis, for those who are keeping score) with all fingers loosely extended, that’s rare.  Put down your middle finger, that’s medium, and if you make a fist, that’s well done.  So STOP cutting into your meat to check the temperature, it lets out the good juices that make steak yummy.

And if you want to make your body feel yummy, get a massage.

Leslie Forrester is the owner and solopreneur at Quality Life Massage Therapy, located just outside Tampa, Florida. She has used these and other networking techniques to fill her practice from scratch in just two years. You can find her on linkedin, Facebook, and at www.QualityLifeMassageTherapy.com.

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Me, Depression & World Mental Health Day.

stormy cloudsAwhile back I saw a colleague melting down. I saw it in a way that only the age of social media can provide, through Facebook status updates. I read the erratic, emotional posts that ranged from extreme sympathy-inducing sadness to manic over-activity to occasional rage-filled lashing out. I saw it in a way that only someone with mental illness can. A cringe, some familiarity, recognition that gives way to concern. I debated what to do about it. This wasn’t someone I had a warm fuzzy relationship with and I wasn’t sure how well my concern would be received. But I decided to speak up, because really, if this chic drove herself off a bridge, I would feel pretty damn bad about not speaking up.

So I sent a message, phrased as gently as possible, including a bit about my own experience with depression, making note of concern and asking if I could be of help. Because, hey, I’ve been there. It was not well received. It was tossed back in my face, and I was told that just because I’m sick doesn’t mean everyone is. It was stated in less kind words than that. So I moved on.

In a recent group conversation, this same colleague suggested she was of great character for not telling everyone about my mental illness.  Specifically, ” {she}…said the same thing about me and I do not have a mental disorder, some by people who admit to having one…I don’t talk about those that have admitted they have one and smear me saying I do.”

There are a few things really messed up about this.

  1. The notion that sharing my experience and concern is an ‘admission’ of something I should feel guilty or embarrassed about.
  2. The notion that privately expressing concern equates to ‘smearing’ someone’s reputation.

And frankly, it pisses me off that a massage therapist thinks this way. Aren’t we supposed to understand basic health issues? Does a wellness professional really think mental illness is something someone should be ashamed of? The very idea that knowledge of my depression is some kind of secret weapon she could choose to unleash, is nine kinds of fucked up.

But I’ll diffuse this weapon right now. I have Depression. As in: Major depressive disorder (MDD) (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder; or as recurrent depression in the case of repeated episodes thanks wikipedia!) I am not ashamed of this. I am not embarrassed by this. It is not a secret, and I have publicly made reference to it before.

I am fortunate that my particular variety is pretty mild, well controlled with a reasonably healthy lifestyle and sometimes with medication. I am surrounded by friends who keep an eye on me. I am usually able to recognize when I’m falling into an episode, I notice quickly when my day-to-day functioning gets wonky. I am capable of asking for help when I need it. Again, I am very, very fortunate.

You cannot hurt me by sharing this information. It is not a weapon. And since an estimated 1 in 10 adults in the United States suffers from some kind of depression, I’m gonna guess I’ll be getting a handful of emails today saying, “Hey, thanks for speaking up on this.”

Know what else is awesome? Massage can be useful in treating depression (and anxiety). Really. My friend Dr. Christopher Moyer can fill you in on that here.  Or go one step further and check out his brilliant book, Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice, co-authored with Trish Dryden. They’ve got a whole chapter on it!

But I digress.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The team at the Alternative Marketing Project was thrilled to focus our blog post and a graphic on that topic this month. The content is free for people who subscribe. But I’m in a good mood (thanks ssri’s!) so I’ve decided to let everyone see and use the October content, even if you haven’t subscribed. You can check it out here.

As for me? I’ll be joining Ryan Hoyme and Irene Diamond, two people I greatly admire for their willingness to talk about mental illness.

Bonus: Here’s a kick-assk TedxTalk from Amber Naslund, “Mind games – Transcending the messiness of mental illness” Watch it. Share it. Learn.

And to the colleague who thought she could shame me I say, “Your absurdity and incompetence is showing. May wanna tuck that in.”
Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are no super heroes


A little background before this lesson.

I am one person. I am single. I do not have children.

I run a small massage practice, seeing 16-20 clients a week. I sublet the second treatment room in my office to another full time massage therapist. I sublet to a third therapist, she’s part time and bounces between the rooms depending on the day.

We’ve created a lovely office-sharing situation, but really, I’m the head honcho. I pay the landlord, keep the place stocked with paper towels, clean the place (but I’m not great at that so thank goodness my officemates are proactive about helping). I don’t have laundry machines, so I drop off and pick up a few times a week at a local laundromat that’s been giving me a great deal for 8 years now.

I figure my massage practice keeps me hustling for about 40 hours a week. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. If I was better at time-management I could knock that down a few hours, I’m sure.

I also have a little marketing/teaching gig going. I teach at Bancroft School of Massage Therapy five to six times a year, a 3.5 hour session on marketing to each class. I teach at different events, mostly continuing education gatherings for massage therapists, once a year or so. I’ve done a webinar segment for another company, and I’ve got another coming up. I handle online marketing for 2 small organizations, and create most of the website content for another. I have 2 people who work part time helping me with these tasks. I do a bit of 1 on 1 consulting. The marketing gig takes up 15-20 hours most weeks.

So the maths say I work about 55-60 hours a week. Which is fine for me, because, again, I’m single and have no kids. I don’t watch much tv and I like being busy.

I’m not bragging. I’m confessing.

But here’s the catch: I’m full-up. Some weeks I struggle to make time to learn about every new social media platform, the new trends in marketing, take my own massage continuing education, clean my bathroom, feed myself, pay my part-timers, and write my own damn blog posts. I took a few weeks off in January, to ‘get ahead’ on work, and I ended up crashing and just barely catching up. This blog post is two weeks late. Oops.

There are people who are way, way more productive and efficient than I am. But there is no one who can do it all, and do it all well.

You’re rational people, so you understand this. 

And yet. It’s so easy to be taken in by people who play the Superhero online. When we see someone who is seemingly ‘doing it all’, we believe the bullshit. We become enamored, and all rational thought leaves us.

“Oh my goodness!” we think. “This woman has multiple businesses and a family and can still write 10 books in a year! I want to be just like her! I will buy everything she sells because then I can be like her and my life will be so much easier/better/happier/more productive.” It’s very, very easy to get caught up in that whirlwind of admiration. I’ve done it, I know.

Except that it’s bullshit. 

No one has it all. And if they do, it’s certainly not a breeze.

I joked a few weeks ago, “I wish I had recognized the value of a Sugar Daddy while I was still young enough to snag one.” I think I was paying bills at the time. But really, even if I happened into a small fortune tomorrow and was able to work for free in a school for kids with autism, adopt 5 babies, and met the love of my life, I still couldn’t have it all. I would be missing the satisfaction of knowing I built 2 businesses from the ground up, on my own. I would be missing the pride and fulfillment that comes with being able to support myself financially. There’s always a trade-off. No one has it all. No one can do it all.

Accept that it’s bullshit. 

There are no fast answers. There are no shortcuts to a successful business. It’s about work.

It’s about putting in the time, learning as much as you can about your trade and how to sell it. It involves doing the legwork before you hand over a wad of cash to someone who pretends they can save you. Sure, you can contract some stuff out and often that’s the wisest decision. But you still have to know enough about what’s happening to be sure you’re not getting screwed. You need to read a ‘How to hire a website designer” article to know that YOU should purchase and own the domain name, so you don’t end up at the mercy of a designer who drops off the map. If a deal, or a person,  seems too good to be true, it may well be a scam. Proceed with caution.

Accept that no one can save you.

Only you can. By being smart. By doing the legwork. By learning stuff you don’t want to learn, so you can oversee tasks that you delegate out.

There are no super heroes, except you. And you are more than capable of saving yourself.

Allissa Haines is a massage therapist with a full private practice in Plainville, MA. She creates marketing and business resources for massage therapists at www.writingabluestreak.com and is an educator at www.massagelearning.com, an online learning center for massage therapists and students. She is also marketing consultant, professional speaker, and wanna-be ukulele recording artist.

I’m trying some new things

In no particular order, here they are.

The Nutribullet! At the risk of sounding like a dweeb on the infomercial, I LOVE THIS THING. It’s a cross between a blender and a juicer and it makes delicious and absurdly healthy beverages from fruits and veggies. I’ve had 1-2 every day for 9 days now and WOW I actually feel good. Energy. My skin looks better. I WANTED to go for a run yesterday. And the day before. And a client asked if I was losing weight. (I don’t have a scale, so I’m not sure on that.) I’m getting my new roommate into it, too. ‘Cept he calls it Satan’s Applesauce.

devil's applesauceI’m rocking the guided meditation. Smack in the middle of the day, I do a nap-ish time and listen to (all I can tolerate of) this. My record is about 10 minutes into any particular meditation. Baby Steps.


I didn’t ditch a party. When the family party got a little crowded inside last weekend, instead of just leaving after 30 minutes (like I normally would) I took my uke into the backyard and hung out alone. Eventually a niece and her friends came out. We played, they learned. And it was good.

uke nieceI’m reading. For pleasure. With focus. This is my fourth attempt to get through this fascinating and complex biography of Abraham Lincoln and 3 of his contemporaries. I’m finally in the groove. Bonus: I share a birthday with William Seward!

team of rivals

I’m embracing quiet. I’ve been too noisy.  Because this:



This post is the 1st of a 31 day blog challenge



I wanna be your abacus, baby.

Listen. Things are getting kinda heavy in our world. We’ve had some really intense, thought-provoking posts lately. Argument-inducing, even. No one knows what the hell is going on in or between all the various acronymed organizations of massage. And I’ve noticed a general malaise falling upon us all. I’m burnt. Some of you are, too.

So here. Enjoy this. Just watch it all the way through, trust me. I smiled, then I laughed. Then I had to look up a few words, ‘cuz it’s really nerdy. And wonderful. Also, slightly inappropriate. (Maybe don’t have the volume up, if kids are around, you’re at work, etc.)

May we all get such love songs written for us some day, in some form.

In which I took a class with Bob King.

Bob KingI just learned that Bob King passed away. No doubt there will be many stories more prolific than mine, from people who knew him better. But here’s mine anyway.

When I was a very, very new therapist in my first year of practice I took a continuing education class, something about stretching, with Bob King. At the time I didn’t know who the guy was, except that Greg spoke well of him. I just knew that my stretching skills were lousy and I need some more learning.

The first half of the day did not go well. I had partnered with an old classmate from massage school. I quickly discovered she wasn’t really concerned with helping me learn the techniques, she just wanted to get worked on. So she wasn’t paying attention to the instructions as I worked on her and Bob guided us through the steps. Her feedback was nil, I was struggling with the techniques, and it seemed that the teaching assistants were everywhere but near my table. By the time Bob got to the third stretch I was in tears, with my partner’s head in my hands, still trying to figure out the second stretch, some occipital thing. An assistant finally came by, and I choked out, “I need help, I’m not getting the last one, and now I’m missing the next stretch.” Unfortunately, her response was, “Breathe. Just relax.”

Which, as we all know, is the least effective thing to say to a person with social anxiety issues who is frustrated, upset, and trying to hold their shit together in a crowded classroom. I don’t know what I replied, but she moved on to the next table, and I kept it together enough to fake it through the next hour. Just before lunch break, Bob walked by my table and saw that I was still fighting tears, my face having reached that subtle blotchy state, cemented into that solid look that happens just as you’re blocking everything out and going numb. I don’t remember what he said exactly, something like, “Stick around for a minute when break starts.”

So I did. And when the classroom emptied he asked me which move I was having trouble with. He got me on the table, put my head in his hands, his fingertips at the occiput, and BOOM. In a heartbeat, my neck did the thing it was supposed to do. He actually laughed and said, “You gave that right up, didn’t you? I thought you would be a tough one.” Right there. In a moment. My approach to learning changed. I understood the stretch because he showed it to me. My approach to trust changed, when I realized I could actually trust someone unconsciously, because my gut knew he was trustable, and let it go. He put my head in his hands and he changed me. As a practitioner and a person.

The rest of the day was much easier for me. I learned the stuff I was there to learn. I regretted not signing up for his other class the next day. I remember talking and joking a bit with Bob and Greg in the lobby of the school on my way out. Bob turned to Greg and said, “That one, she’s spunky.”

He really saw me. He saw me flail. He saw me recover. He saw more in me than I did at the time. And for that I am truly grateful. He stopped traveling and teaching soon after that, and except for a few emails we never interacted again.

May we all have such a moment, even just one, with a great teacher in our massage world.

(This post originally appeared on writingabluestreak.com, but has found a new home here.)

Sometimes massage therapists are not very nice people

This post is rated R for language.

I have some things to say to some people

To the Facebook Dude

No, you do not get to call me elitist because I have a vocabulary that rocks. I earned that prolific phraseology. I’ve seen what food stamps look like. I worked my ass through a cheap state college and I put my second hand salvation army-ed pants on one leg at a time. Just like everyone else. I’m right here in the trenches, up to my elbows in oil 25 hours a week. So, no. Just no.

Also, I don’t think myself superior. While I could always use a lesson in humility, our exchange was not an indication of such. If you took a damn second to look at the history of this here bitch you’re insulting, you would see that I apologize like a grown up whenever I find I’m wrong. I invite readers to call me out on my bullshit, and for the past three years they’ve been doing just that. And I’m a better person for it. I’m as humble as they come. (<–that right there is humor. Chill the fuck out.)

Example: A few years ago I had a knock-down drag out discussion with a colleague that left me bitter, raw, hurt and pissed off. It was not a good parting. I still think that about 50% of what I said was right. No doubt he disagrees with that. But you know what we did the moment we saw each other at the next event a year later?  It went like this: I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around. Arms opened. We hugged. Before any damn words were spoken, we made up. Because that’s how adults behave when they want to do and be better. I’m sure someday he & I will find ourselves on the same side of some big massage profession issues. Because, “The ties that bind us are so much stronger than the opinions that divide us within this field.” Yeah, that’s right, I said that. I’m quoting myself. Deal.

PS- You were right about one thing, I do like to have the last word. Good thing I have a handful of blogs to publish my elitist shit, huh?

To the Non-Science-y People

Stop overreacting and making yourselves look like defensive morons. You’re not morons. I know you’re not. But this extremist attitude that massage therapists who appreciate research and encourage an evidence-informed practice are over-intellectual snobby assholes is more about the chip on you shoulder than anything else. Know how to ditch that chip? Learn something. I practically had to bang my college professor to get a passing grade in the sciences* and even I can handle working through an online Basics of Research Literacy course. So can you. (I will not link to it here because they deserve better than to be tied to this shitbag post, google it. $59, 6 CE Hours! Yay!) Think the science-y people are assholes? Fine. Learn their language, make a decent argument and then tell them so. But I bet once you learn the language, and know the people, you probably won’t think they are (all) assholes anymore. You might still disagree with them. Fine. But your karma will be in better shape.

To the Super Science-y People

Calm the fuck down. (<–yes, I see the irony here). Sometimes you’re scathing and mean and make the already frightened, intimidated people even less likely to try to learn. I know the really extreme wind-chimes huggers come off as defensive morons sometimes. But most aren’t. Rome was not built in a spaghettimonsterdamn day. (<–see what I did there? Ha!) It took a really long time for the general public to accept that the world isn’t flat and epilepsy isn’t a result of demon invasion of the brain. It’s going to take a long time to teach the teachers who are still hung up on the old myths and to educate legions of therapists about evidence-informed practice. The bulk of massage therapists are passionate about helping people. They believe strongly about the methods they use. They are kind, compassionate people. It’s just going to take time. Some will never, ever come around to your point of view. Be nicer anyways. I’m a pretty confident chic and y’all still scare the crap outta me sometimes. That’s saying something.

To me (I don’t live with a cat anymore, so I have to talk to myself)

Oh, Allissa. It’s cute that you used to think the massage world was an all-the-time happy place. But Greg was right when he said, “Sometimes massage therapists are not very nice people.” You’ve learned that there are so many competing organizations, with so many different ideas of what’s right and wrong and good and bad for the profession, it’s a shit show. Maybe remember that most of us are just keeping our heads down and seeing our clients and stick to helping them directly. Focus on that. Also, stop swearing so much and eat more vegetables.

To everyone (if you made it this far)

I like Anatomy in Motion. I’ve liked the app since it came out a few years ago. I use it often in my practice. I like the Facebook page, because it has pretty pictures and interesting information. I now consider Melissa, the co-creator, a friend. And she’s built quite a following in a very short time, because the information is interesting and beautiful.

Every day Melissa gets complaints that the posts are too science-based. Every day Melissa gets complaints that the posts are not science-based enough. I personally have watched science-y people get all pissy, declare they will never look at the page again and then continue to bash the page, and Melissa, in a rather uncouth way, in their personal profiles. (Ditto for the unscience-y peeps.) And you know what? Melissa has the class to rise above it, and still link to some of the various asshats’ writings and work. Because it’s good stuff. Because she loves the profession and wants the best for it, more than she dislikes the sometimes shitty, classless attitudes of the writers. Because she gets that you catch more flies with honey. And no, it’s not because the Facebook page sells a zillion apps and she makes a ton of money. That page has 95-thousand-ish likes, and a very, very small percentage of them have purchased the app. It is a labor of love.

You know who you are. Stop being dicks, please.

Go like the page. (Or not, whatever.) When she posts something you think is awesome, share it! Other people will probably think it’s awesome. When you see something you hate, ignore it. Or maybe ask a few questions, in a kind manner, so you can understand better the people who do like it. That’s it. Consider. Be nice. Move on.

An Alternate Plan would be to decide I’m the biggest asshole here and unite to destroy me. At least you’ll be working together.

The End

*This is not true. I got a C, but I had a crush on the professor, so I probably woulda.

The backstory that kinda doesn’t matter anymore -or- The Epilogue that probably shoulda been a Prologue -or- the part Kat said I should ditch and she’s probably right

Last year I wrote a guest post for Massamio’s blog. I’m pretty sure the topic wasn’t my idea, and I even remember resisting it. But Ben insisted, so I did it. That’s how “3 Massage Myths You Should Stop Repeating ” came about. I tried really hard to be rational and cite good resources (I’m not a science writer, people) and still be fun and not oh-god-so-boring-I-can’t-read-this like I find lots of science-y articles to be.

A bunch of people read it. Some agreed, some didn’t. Melissa of Anatomy in Motion made a cool graphic, linked to the piece and posted on her Facebook page. Comments ensued. Some positive, some negative. That’s cool, she had like 70,000 followers at the time. That’s a whole lotta opinions, and of course some people will think my writing is that of an asshat. No biggie.

Melissa posted it again the other day. Again, comments ensued, both on the blog proper, and in the Facebook thread.

I read them. (I don’t know that I actually read them all the first time she posted it. That may have been wise.) I’m cool with comments  saying I’m not science-y enough. I’m cool with comments saying I’m too science-y and have no faith in The Universe, etc.

But this happened:

Facebook Dude: Bad post!

Me: I love feedback, but this doesn’t really help. Care to be more prolific with your thoughts?

Facebook Dude: No, you don’t love feedback. It’s obvious that you don’t and berating to the Massage profession. It comes as no surprise though, being squeezed through the gnashed teeth of an elitist vocabulary. The post was insensitive and degrading in its content and tone. The level of Therapist and Instructor bashing is appalling. The Universe doesn’t work according to paid research and studies. It works on its own paradigm. Don’t bother banishing me from your site for I am banishing you from mine and deleting all shares. I’m sure you won’t risk too much exposure and will delete this post too!

<<At this point another reader who didn’t like my tone gave some really thoughtful feedback. I heart her.>>

Me: Wow, guys. This IS good feedback and I do truly appreciate it. I tend to write in an…enthusiastic way. It is certainly not for everyone. And this was a guest post for another site. Typically I cover much different topics. So I appreciate hearing that my regular style may not have been the most effective approach to this particular topic. I wholeheartedly apologize for coming off as degrading. Yes, part of me thinks you may have taken the piece too personally, but I sincerely appreciate how you’ve expressed that, and it WILL guide me should I cover this kind of topic again.

Then I reached out to Facebook Dude privately. I repeated that message, I expanded upon it. I thanked him for his passion, and I assured him that I would take this lesson with me. 

I did this not because I’m particularly classy, but because I really hate when my style alienates someone, especially on a guest blog. Especially when it’s an important issue. Also, I have ‘I Want Everyone to Like Me Like Monica From Friends’ Syndrome.

His response was not friendly.

I tried again. I apologized more clearly. I expressed how much community matters to me.

His response was even less friendly. Actually, it was rude, insulting, and ended with “Here’s some constuctive [sic] criticism free of charge, learn some humility before you spew your crap out into the world!”

Then he told me to not contact him again. 

I guess sometimes massage therapists are not very nice people.

Tina Allen Rocks Vietnam, and the rest of the planet, too.

Let me tell you a little bit about Tina Allen. Well, a little bit about Tina Allen and me.

I took an intro class, Massage for Liddle Kidz with Autism & ADD at an event a few years ago. Because there was crazy demand, the classroom was packed. It got kinda warm. I got kinda fidgety. Claustrophobic. Then panic-y.  As I do. So at the first break, I booked out in a hurry and didn’t return. I was a little heartbroken, but vowed I would email her and figure out how to get into one of her longer classes on autism soon.

Happily, I ended up in the elevator with Tina a few hours later. Here’s what happened (total paraphrasing here) :

Allissa: <<awkwardly poking at the floor with her toe>> Umm.. Hi. I was in your class earlier, but got kind of wigged about how packed it was, so I left. Umm.. I’m a friend of Greg’s, from Bancroft. I would love to see about making an Autism class happen next time you’re in Massachusetts

Tina: Oh, hi! It was packed in there! Greg’s great, I love teaching a Bancroft!  <<instantly making Allissa feel better and less dorky>> Yes! Email me and we’ll see if we can run a class. That would be fun!

I emailed her. Tina came. We had an amazing two day class. Her son & I bonded.

allissa & otic

Allissa & Otis

Since then, we’ve met up at a bunch of events. And I adore her more every time I see her. I admire her energy, enthusiasm, BRILLIANCE in the field of pediatrics, and I’m jealous that she can pull off short hair and look ridiculously hot.  All. The. Time. Even in this grainy picture from the MTF reception last year where she won the Humanitarian of the Year award.

allissa & tina

So, when the latest documentary, Liddle Kidz™ in Vietnam | A Documentary Film about Pediatric Massage for Orphaned Children released, I watched it right away. (Partly to see if her hair got all weird in Vietnam’s climate. It did NOT. WTF?)

You should watch it right now. It’s only 17 minutes and it’ll make you a better person. Really.

I always have a boatload of questions for Tina when I see her. Turns out, lots of other people have the same questions. (I hate that I’m so cliché, but there it is.)

So we tackled a stack of questions and answers for you. Warning, the following contains lots of T & A. (Bwahahaha, get it? T & A? Tina & Allissa?! Admit it, you giggled.)

Allissa: Tell me about the team of ambassadors you assembled. How did you choose people? Are/were there any particular skill sets that shine, mean more to you?

Tina: The Liddle Kidz Foundation ambassador team members are from all over North America (US & Canada).  Our team is comprised of pediatric massage therapists, as well as, professionals who bring a multitude of skills to the table.  I am always looking for those who can add more to the experience for the children, their caregivers and even for the volunteers.  So, on this recent trip, we had pediatric massage therapists with additional backgrounds in yoga for children, early intervention, nursing, occupational therapy, various modalities of gentle massage, acting, singing and music, which translated into a really rich sensory experience for all.

There is some method to my madness in choosing a team  Each person’s application is read, just over a thousand for this recent trip, and then put into a pile of considered applicants.  Once a narrow it down, I lay them together and try to visualize them not as individuals but as a team.  This work is about how each individual functions, but also how the group will work together.  Granted, I am taking a chance that things will go as planned, but when you are faced with being thousands of miles away from your regular life, no family with you, no easy access through your regular technology sources and then doing emotional work day in, and day out you never know what will happen.  I don’t think the volunteers even know exactly what it will be like until they have gone through it.  It is not always what they expect.

A: What is the reception like from the caregivers/staff of the facilities where you teach?

T: As with anything new, there are some caregivers who are resistant to the idea.  So, demonstrating can be our most useful tool in converting the doubtful.  Many caregivers will watch us initially with eyes rolling, but once they see that little baby stop crying or the child begin to walk, we’re in.

In the facilities we visited two years prior, we have been very well received.  Mainly I would think due to the results caregivers have shared with us after applying the massage.  In the government facilities we have been very well received, very similar to a visiting medical team.  The government sends officials to meet and welcome us, and then shadows us all day to learn what we can share for the child under their care.

A: What were the biggest challenges in the places you visited, in both the children and the caretakers?

T: For some of the children, initially the fact that we look different and speak another language takes a moment for them to understand what our purpose is and that we will do no harm.  Stickers and smiles usually tighten up that language barrier quickly!  The children are actually much more receptive initially than the caregivers.  It goes to support my theory that children are smarter than adults.  Children think with their heart first, they can often tell who to trust or shy away from. Adults on the other hand, may come from a “prove it” mentality. These are the challenges I welcome.  I love when I have to prove the benefits of pediatric massage, because you can demonstrate them so quickly.  In our work, we have been lucky, caregivers come on board quickly and find easy ways to implement nurturing touch into their daily care of the babies and children.

A: Are there objective results you have seen, from places you visited on both trips?

T: During this recent trip we returned to a number of facilities, and learned about some of the amazing benefits and results the caregivers have noticed.  First, for me, to come back and see that the caregivers are using he materials we shared is awesome.  Having laid the groundwork, and seeing that works is sustained is what we always hope for, and we did it.  In one facility in particular, the founder shared with us, her results of taking children to the hospital approximately 40 times per year prior o our visit, and then, now, two years they only take kids to the hospital 2- 3 times per year.  That is huge in a setting where they do not have the funds for this care, nor should the children need to be in the hospital for situations in which massage can be beneficial.

A: What’s next? Where are you traveling the rest of this year?

T: Liddle Kidz Foundation is working with people all over the world, and we just see that growing.  This year, we still have lots of busy days ahead.  Currently, I am on tour teaching infant and pediatric massage two to three times a week, every week.  At the end of this year, we expand out of North America again into Brunei Darusalam, Australia and returning to work in Japan.

A: You live an unconventional life, traveling and living in a tour bus with your husband and son. Do you ever think of ditching that and settling into a standard home?

T: Actually, no.  Unless there comes a day when my son asks for a house that doesn’t roll, we’re good where we are.  This touring allows greater access to spread the message about pediatric massage, and so far my husband and son seem along for that ride.

A: You were working with kids long before you were a mom.  What has being a mom to Otis added to your teaching?

T: Wow – a lot, who knew.  Having some of my own mom stories to share about how every day doesn’t go as planned is fantastic.  There are times when I know students, and other parents, have their idea on how my “perfect” life must be.  When I am able to sit down and share the truth, yes, my child has projectile vomited blueberries on me, that I didn’t notice he had jaundice when he was born (even though I can see it a mile away on another baby) or that he sometimes doesn’t feel like massage are great moments to share.

Otis is an amazing teacher, and having a child living with you daily teaches you to slow down once in a while and smell the roses, literally.  This work is so important to me, that I am not the best with self care and I think my son has really taught me to take time when needed.  And, seeing film and footage from the recent Vietnam trip, I am so proud to see Otis in orphanage wards with the volunteers massaging babies, kissing feet and hugging the kids.  He knows what is needed without any formal training.  Children are brilliant, and teach us all so much if we just take the time to observe.

A: How are trips like these funded, and where can people go to donate?

T: Many times, Liddle Kidz Foundation is able to generate some grant funding which is a significant help, but mainly the funds to support our mission come from individual donors who believe in the power of touch changing a child’s life.  LiddleKidz.org has a section for making donations online and as a 501c3 recognized nonprofit organization, donors will receive a letter that may be used for tax purposes.

So, all that? That’s why Tina Allen is my hero.

When I see her enthusiasm, and the power of massage, I want to be better at it. I want to be smarter and more capable and just kik-ass in general. I hope you do, too.

Oh, and you can donate to the Liddle Kidz organizations here.