Spa Style Massage Add-Ons & Continuing Education

Just a quick post to let you guys know I just put a new NCBTMB approved CE course up on my site

If you need CE hours, cool! They’re super affordable. 

If you don’t need CE hours but you’d like a little add-on inspiration, please feel free to download the course at absolutely no charge and without obligation. 

Thanks for hanging out with us for another year! Here’s to a productive and fulfilling 2016!

Holiday Party? It’s Not Too Late!

I’ve made it my goal to host a monthly event at my office. It’s good for the community, it’s a pretty solid marketing effort, and it keeps me out of trouble. 

In November I hosted a holiday shopping themed event. I offered free hand scrub/hand massage treatments…and I made four dozen sugar cookies and over $300 in sales! (This number may sound paltry to those of you operating out of a large, multi-service-provider business, but for this lone wolf it was a big deal.)

Most importantly, I got to spend time with people who mean a lot to me and it was fun

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station in my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station into my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

Here are some tips I’ve collected regarding successful office events:

  • Spend your event budget wisely. Events can be cookies and laughs. It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on hosting an event each month than what the event brings in.
  • Invest in visually interesting games, food, products for sale, decorations, etc. You can Instagram the hell out of these things!
  • Push yourself to come up with event ideas that match up well with your existing clients’ expectations. Will they respond best to a monthly event that’s pretty much the same each time, or an off-the-wall themed event that’s different each month? Somewhere in my idea queue there’s a Pajama Cereal Party that’s just waiting to become reality!
  • Post the event on your website and in your newsletter, flyer local businesses and bulletin boards, make a Facebook event and invite people to it, etc. Remind people about the event using these tools, too. 
  • Remember that an event isn’t a failure if you don’t sell anything during the actual shindig. People who enjoyed your event will likely purchase things and schedule services at a later date. 
  • If the idea of hosting events sounds like a dreaded chore, find a way to do it on your terms and make it fun. If you can’t do this, don’t host an event. 

I already have my Annual Holiday Brie Feast planned for December 14th! If you’ll be in Vegas then, stop by and let me fill your belly in a manner not unlike that of a Sicilian grandma. 

Why You Should Listen to Amanda Palmer

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

Keep listening. 

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

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

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

2015-10-25 15.00.19

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

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

Popping The Bubble

Cliques. Tribes. The Matrix, even.

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

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

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

We must decide, because we cannot do both. 

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

You’re perfect.

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

A bubble for your thoughts?

Practice Promoting Parties

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Comeback

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

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

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

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

Power tools would've been a wise investment.

Power tools would’ve been a wise investment.

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

Skeleton and kitty.

Skeleton and kitty.

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

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

World Suicide Prevention Day

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

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

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

Dropping The Banhammer

 

Bob* was in his 60s. Southern accent. Tall and not a slight dude (from what I could ascertain upon our face-to-face meeting, as he was fully clothed).

Bob sat down in the reception area of my office, grasping the clipboarded intake form but not yet filling it out. His words came at me in rapid-fire progression.

“Now I get massages every week back home. Can I just use a towel to cover my midsection?” (I use bath towels instead of flat top sheets anyway, but the asking of this question raised a bright orange flag…or maybe it was pink. Fuchsia? Anyway, internal eye roll. Resume transmission.)

“OK, I booked a ninety minute service today, but I need at least thirty minutes of massage on my lower abdomen.”

 

SCCCRRRRREEEEEEEEEEECHHHH.

 

“I’m sorry Bob. I don’t do abdominal massage here.”

“Why not?! It’s the only way I can relax.”

“It’s my policy, no exceptions. I totally understand if you want to go elsewhere.” I ready myself to rise from my desk and escort him out of my office, but this guy is persistent. (Please forgive the bombardment of non sequiturs I’m about to lob your way, but this was my life last week.)

“I’ve been so stressed at work. I run six companies.” He pulls out his phone, points the screen in my direction and starts scrolling through photos of what I’m to assume are his crew and their work trucks.

“I got divorced in the ‘90s but I’ve been with my girlfriend for years. I’m leaving my business to her when I die.”

“I’m telling you this stuff so you’ll know some things about me.”

“I have two phones.”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? How long have you been doing this?”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? I don’t know what kind of massage you think I’m looking for.”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? But I want to come in tomorrow and the next day too.”

“If you don’t do abdominal massage, what do you do?”

“When I was a little boy my mother would give me abdominal massages. It was the only way I could fall asleep.” (Mommy! An unexpected twist!)

“I’ll make it worth your time.”

“I’ll tip you really well.”

“One hundred dollars.”

“One time I was working with my crew in the woods and we got infested with ticks. I had to shave off all of my pubic hair but I didn’t realize I had to keep shaving it.” (This marked the turning point for me. Parasitic infections of the groin are not my area of expertise, and for good reason.)

“Bob, yeah, I’m not going to be able to help you.” I got up, keeping an eye on him, and made my way to the door. Still facing him I turned the knob and held the door ajar so he could exit. He did, but not before handing me his business card.

“In case you change your mind.”

“Bob, that’s not going to happen.”

Then I noticed that he had cleverly left his phone on my desk, so I exclaimed “Oh! Here’s your phone!” The last thing I needed was more alone time, here, with him.

I came to realize, partway through the convo, that Bob had called me several weeks prior from a different number (two phones!). During that phone call he wanted me to work “overtime” for “a really good tip” of “one hundred dollars” “if [my] husband didn’t mind”. Unfortunately for Bob, I was “booked”.

Adding to the absurdity was this: His persistence was completely unnecessary. In Vegas (as is true in many cities), you have so many happy ending options at your disposal you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a rub and tug or rash for cash. I mean, Craigslist will bring the lower abdominal massage to you at no extra charge! (The explanation I’m going with is that some folks find my combination of profuse anxiety sweating and groundbreaking bathroom humor utterly irresistible.)

As a rejected Bob walked out the door and down the hall, I was prouder of myself than I had been in a really long time. Like a lot of massage therapists (or humans, even), in the past I’ve worked on people I should’ve fired five minutes into meeting them. Messed-up, battle-scarred people looking for a metaphorical punching bag. People who just make you feel shitty.

And I’m over it.

Call Mommy and have her pick you up.

End transmission.

 

*Not his real name.

Songs for Weird Massage Therapists

As a Spotify user, the playlist feature comes in pretty handy.

By “handy”, I mean I’ve actually put together a collection of songs having to do with touching, rubbing, or those silly things found at the distal ends of our forearms.

Although several of these tracks were originally meant to be filtered through the speakers of our sex-crazed society where sensuality is inextricably linked to ejaculatory pursuits, please take a moment to push all boning references aside. Listen to these songs purely from the perspective of a massage therapist, and I promise you’ll be tickled. 

In case you aren’t able to access Spotify, here’s a list of the tracks currently included on Songs for Weird Massage Therapists. If you can think of more that might be a good fit, please list them in the comments section below this post. (And to those of you who helped with the initial lineup, thanks!)

1. I Want Your (Hands On Me) – Sinead O’Connor

2. Both Hands – Ani DiFranco

3. Too Much Time On My Hands – Styx

4. Slow Hands – Interpol

5. Clap Hands – Tom Waits

6. Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron

7. Invisible Touch – Genesis

8. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey

9. Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me – Susan Sarandon (Rocky Horror Soundtrack)

10. Touch Me – The Doors

11. Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen

12. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) – Samantha Fox

13. Your hands on my skin – De/Vision (I am in love with this song, BTW.)

14. I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness

15. Healing Hands – Elton John

16. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) – Done Again (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts cover)

17. Grab It – L’Trimm

18. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

19. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) – Diana Ross

20. Skin – Zola Jesus

21. Hands Off – Old 97’s

22. Body Party – Ciara

23. Icicle – Tori Amos

24. Sometimes When We Touch – Manny Pacquiao (whaaaaat!?!), Dan Hill

25. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul & Linda McCartney

26. Real is a Feeling – Pictureplane

27. I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Fab Again (Beatles cover)

28. I Touch Myself – Divinyls

Closing Down

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Tracy Bradley. Tracy has been practicing massage therapy since 2003 in rural Arkansas. When not massaging she can be found sipping Cherry Coke, watching cat videos, reading massage discussions, or hanging out with her family. She publishes a client-centered blog at The Comfort Zone Massage. Her 8-year-old daughter creates stories about her two zany cats at Cat With a Chat. Tracy is moving over a hundred miles from home to begin a new adventure with her family!

***

One month and then my massage business is closed. A month. No more clients, no more sheets, no more hot towels, no more. I feel like I’ve never done this before even though I left a different place 4 years ago. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with that place, I suppose. This place, this business is like home. I’m leaving home.

What will I do with my hands now? Will they miss the feel of flesh gliding under their fingers? Will my skin shrivel up and dry out without the daily use of massage oil? My hands, who have caressed, kneaded, rocked, pushed, pulled, rubbed, and comforted humans for the past 12 years, won’t know what do anymore. Will they lead me around searching for an aching shoulder like a forked limb leads one to “witch a well” for water? I apologize in advance to those I hug. My hands will surely try to massage your back and shoulders in what should be a brief moment.

Have you ever closed your business? Have you ever had to tell your massage clients you’re moving away and never coming back? It’s a difficult task.  After almost 4 years working as a massage therapist in a small town I’m moving away. Telling loyal, regular, make-their-appointment-before-they-leave clients is one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.  The first eight years of my massage career were extremely part-time. The past four years were more than full-time. They were full emersion. I fully devoted most of my brain, heart, and soul to growing this business and caring for my clients. And now it ends.

I spent the week telling clients I’m leaving. A few were devastated. Most were supportive of my family’s new opportunity.  We cried. We hugged. We talked it out.

I will miss these people. Even with “good boundaries” relationships are developed. People talk. Living in such a small town many of us go to the same church, family members work together, kids attend the same schools, we go to fundraisers together, etc. We conduct our lives side-by-side. Boundaries are there but they are different than someone who lives in a place they never see their clients outside work.

All this said, I’m ready for a break. I’ve been “all in” for quite a while to make sure I supported the family while my husband was in college. I loved it most of the time. The Hustle becomes such a rush!  You try something to get more clients and your week fills up!  You write a blog and people read it and tell you they like it.  You develop a way of doing things, communicating with your clients, and operating your business. You get shit done. You try a new promotion that flops but it is still a rush because you get to brainstorm again. It never stops: the planning, writing, researching, talking, etc. It can’t stop if you want to stay busy.

I’m tired. I’m ready to shut that part of my brain off for a while. I’m ready to see if there is a Tracy inside me. She wants to laugh and smile and read and write and play and stuff.