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!

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. 

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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?

Massage Gadget Boneyard

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

Yeah, that. 

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

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

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

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

But wait! There’s more!

20151008_120914

facial steamer

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

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

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

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

The Comeback

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

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

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

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

Power tools would've been a wise investment.

Power tools would’ve been a wise investment.

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

Skeleton and kitty.

Skeleton and kitty.

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

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

Massaging A Wardrobe

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

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

$39.99 plus tax later, it was all mine. 

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

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

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

No kitty cats here.

No kitty cats here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Before You Speak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The removal of stuff & the addition of goals

Stuff, goals, and decison-making skills.-or- Allissa pulls her shit together and makes decisions like an adult

There is a certain amount of clarity that comes with having very little. Minimalists know this. I don’t claim to be a minimalist (yet), but I’m getting better and better at reducing both the literal and figurative ‘stuff’ in my life.

I moved 6 times in the first 6 years after I left my husband. I took almost nothing with me when I left, and with each move I let go of more ‘stuff’. I let go of yearbooks, tshirts, holiday decorations, a wedding dress, 3 kick-ass vintage prom gowns. And so much more.

But I didn’t just dump property. I walked away from friendships that had run their course and family relationships that caused me pain at every interaction. 

I broke up with an organization I loved. I stood up to people who used that love to manipulate me into working too hard. I did the math and discovered that traveling and teaching actually cost and lost me money, even just driving 45 minutes. So I ended (most) teaching gigs. 

I cleared my plate. And it’s been wonderful. 

But here’s the best part: removing all the clutter helped me figure out what I do want on my plate. I figured this out almost by default recently. 

I’ve been making big decisions lately, about my businesses and financial life. I’ve spun up some big ideas and watched them get destroyed by reality (read: budgets). And my reaction to the losses, and to some successes, too, guided me to what my real goals are. 

1. Create a collaborative wellness center where independent practitioners can serve the community and thrive.

2. Build an online empire that helps massage practitioners attract more clients, make more money and improve their lives.

3. Pay off all my debt by December 2016. Every. Last. Penny.

Now I’m in this new and exciting adventure where I make a decisions based on my goals. And it’s great. Who knew? (You probably did. I’m just a little slow.)

Sure! It would be awesome to take a long weekend and zip over to Pittsburgh during the convention and see my AMTA friends! I considered it. But being away from my practice for 4 days instead of seeing clients and spending 20 hours in a car instead of writing is directly opposed to all 3 goals. So I’m not doing it. 

Yes! I would love to spend all night on the computer looking at fabulous women’s suits to pick out what I’m going to  wear to officiate at a wedding soon. But that doesn’t contribute to accomplishing any of the goals. 

(Lest you think I’m all about that dollah bill, know that I’ve got some good personal stuff going on, too. I got busted up pretty good by a long-time friend this spring, and dumped on my ass hard by a boyfriend shortly after. The first situation helped me identify the really wonderful friends in my life. And they’ve all carried me through the second. I’m a lucky, lucky girl. But I’m not ready to be making new personal life goals yet. K?)

And here’s the thing. This shouldn’t be an epiphany, right? We all know we should identify goals and strive to achieve them. No big whoop. And yet, when I made my first ‘based on my goals’ decision last week it was like  fireworks when off behind my head celebrating my brilliance. 

Now that I’m all knee-deep in my own adulting, I kinda want to know: What are the goals and guideposts that help you make decisions? 

And have you ever been epically wrong about a goal? Achieved it then realized you didn’t want it after all? I’m so curious. This is a whole new world for me. 

Tell me your stories!

Body Slam These Body Scams

I’ve recently been the lucky recipient of two separate yet equally annoying scam attempts on my business phone line. Woot!

Take a look at this text message I received a little while back. You can see that the sentence structure and vibe seem more than a bit suspicious. At first I chose to reply in a professional manner, just in case this was an actual prospective client:text

Then their reply confirmed my suspicions, so I responded in kind:fu

This scam has been making the rounds among massage therapists, salon folk, personal trainers, etc. for years. If you engage with the texter the convo eventually morphs into a fraudulent credit card scam involving wiring money to the texter. Sometimes the scammer will engage via email as well, due to being “hearing impaired”. 

A friend suggested that we all make it a habit to reply to these scammers with pictures of goats, because why not? In support of this new campaign to Ram the Scam, I’ve designed a little something to blast back at these criminals. Please use, share and enjoy!

goataway

Scam #2 manifested as numerous phone calls from “merchant services”. Their phone numbers were varied and sometimes featured a local area code; sometimes they’d even leave a voicemail message that I wouldn’t return. 

I unintentionally answered one of their calls the other day. The scamming bozo on the line said he was from “merchant services” and wanted to send a rep out for a quick ten minute appointment so he could update my horribly out of date credit card processing equipment (that I do not currently and have never had…Square, baby).

I nicely told him that I don’t have an account with them, and requested he take my name off of their list so I don’t waste any more of their time. This rude asshat had the nerve to raise his voice and inform me that he got my number from Google so if I wanted to remove myself from the internet I could go ahead and do that. Well I never!

So I did him one better. I put myself on the do not call registry. [insert laughing goat meme here]

Then I researched the scam he was trying to pull. It involves “merchant services” switching your credit card processing activities over to their company without telling you they’re doing it. Apparently you can incur major fees by dumping your old company like this. So don’t. 

Have you got a scammy story to share? Please post it below (with farm animals, if you wish).