For Auld Lang Syne, My Dears

On behalf of The Young Thumbs, I want to thank you all for checking in with us throughout 2014. 

We’ve all experienced our ups, downs and evasive maneuvers this year, but we’ve done it together. For this I am incredibly grateful.  

I’ll keep this short and sweet, friends. Just know that you are appreciated, and that we Young Thumbs are looking forward to a brand spanking new year of learning, sharing, and having an all-around good time with you here on this zany blog that’s sometimes about massage therapy but more often about life. 

Much love and best wishes for a wonderful 2015.

On Ignorance

When I was really little, I believed Canadians didn’t attend church. I knew that my family didn’t go to church because of my father, and my father was different from other people’s fathers because he was Canadian. Furthermore, I had met quite a few Canadians, and none of them attended church either.

The fact that my grandmother’s house in Montreal was right next to a Catholic church didn’t phase to me. (Also, not only did I eventually figure out that my extended family was not representative of Canada as a whole, but I also learned what “Jewish” meant. Look how far I’ve come!)

Sure she’s cute, but can she drive a stick shift?

The truth of the matter is, we all start out ignorant. While the fact that I confused nationality and religion in Kindergarten certainly caused some laughs, nobody got angry at me for what I should have known. Our tolerance for ignorance usually decreases with age: it’s okay for an 11-year-old not to know how to balance a checkbook, but we get annoyed if they still don’t know by 22. While the opposite is sometimes true when talking about new technology, most of us set age-based standards for wisdom.

You should use the toilet by 3. Learn to read by 6. Do algebra by 15. Understand the electoral college by … probably never. 

Unfortunately, these assumptions on our part can hurt not only our businesses, but our community.

When I was 26, I read LMT on a business card and had no idea what it meant. I got annoyed with the person. What the heck were they trying to convey, the fact that they knew the alphabet? Why wouldn’t they just tell me what they did? I wasn’t stupid, but someone assumed that I would see that their business was a spa, make a list of possible spa occupations in my head, somehow match one of them up with the letters I’d been given, and decide they were the person for me.

They lost my business.

When we assume that very young massage therapists can’t do a great job because we were ignorant at that age, everyone loses out on what might have been a great professional relationship.

When we assume that just because a massage therapist has years of experience and a well-known practice, they must also have a firm grasp on ethics and professionalism, we can get ourselves into sticky situations.

When we’re furious that someone doesn’t realize there’s a difference between a massage therapist and a prostitute, we effectively stop that person from ever coming to us with a back injury.

When we get angry at new massage therapists straight out of school who’ve been taught that massage flushes lactic acid from their muscles, we lose a chance to educate and to foster the growth of a potential advocate for scientific literacy.

There are lots of blameworthy characteristics in the world: dishonesty, untrustworthiness, egotism, greed. We do what we can to avoid dealing with people who show those qualities, because there’s not much good that can come from it.

But ignorance? Ignorance is a shockingly easy fix. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have schools, we wouldn’t have newspapers, we wouldn’t have blogs or libraries or advertising, for that matter.

So take a minute for the ignorant. Explain your techniques to a client. Explain why your decision was the ethical one. Write out “Licensed Massage Therapist” instead of leaving your business card a wash of alphabet soup.

Just because we’re bodyworkers doesn’t mean we can’t be knowledge-workers as well, so get rid of your “shoulds”share what you’ve got. Potential clients, students, colleagues, (and possibly the occasional churchgoing Canadian) will thank you for it.

Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.

photo credit: ` TheDreamSky via photopin cc

Massage Conference Super-Secret Packing List!

I’m leaving tomorrow (or tonight, if my husband Jef has his way, he likes to drive at night) for the AMTA National Convention. Last year was my first year attending, and I loved almost every minute of it. I learned a ton. Not just about massage therapy, either. I learned a fair bit about attending conferences in general. And one of the most important things I learned was what to pack.

What do I bring with me, anyway?

If you’re curious about the basics, there are lots of great guides to packing for professional conferences, and I highly recommend looking a few of them up if you’re a fellow procrastinator and haven’t put your own list together yet. “Business casual” clothes, your various and sundry mobile devices, business cards, all that kind of stuff. But there are also things that never seem to appear on these lists, even though they can improve your conference experience dramatically. Why people are keeping these things a secret is beyond me, but here are some of the items I won’t show up without.

Super-Secret Packing List!

  1. A pair of jeans. Yes, yes, professionalism and all that. But you’re not going to be in workshops (or meetings, hi delegates!) all day. Eventually you’re going to want to hang out. And if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t quite feel like a human being in dress slacks, don’t torture yourself by attempting to chill out in the evening in fancy shoes.
  2. A tote bag. This seems counterintuitive, since you know perfectly well you’re going to get a bag when you arrive. But if you’re going to want to buy things from vendors, (or if you’re an instructor stocking up on freebies), one cheapo backpack is not going to cut it. A tote can be thrown into your other bag and take up very little room until you need it.
  3. Your appointment book. No, most of the people you meet will not be local, and have no interest on jumping on your massage table once you get home. But what if you want to set up a phone appointment with your newly-discovered mentor or BFF? If you’re one of those pen-and-paper folks, keep that book handy. Digital people, I know you couldn’t be surgically separated from your schedule if your life depended on it, so feel free to ignore this advice.
  4. A shawl. Ladies, it’s true that you’ll warm up at the dinner dance once you’re getting your boogie on. But do you want to freeze until then? A nice shawl doubles as a scarf during evening outings, so it’s totally multipurpose and well worth the few extra inches of suitcase space.
  5. Snacks. This is a conference, not seventh grade. If you find your blood sugar tanking during a lecture, just eat something! Nuts and raisins are great if you’re trying to be a good example. Dark chocolate peanut M&Ms are good if you either don’t care about being an example or would like to share with me. If you’re a tea drinker, bring your own bags. The tea at most hotels is rubbish.
  6. Water bottle. For washing down the above. Bottled water is such a racket.
  7. Nail clippers. This is the sort of thing people who write about conferences in general (as opposed to massage therapy conferences) never mention, but the last thing you want is to realize four days into your week off from work that you’ve grown talons and have nothing to trim them with!
  8. A good book. By Saturday of last year’s convention, I was seriously overloaded on social interaction, and desperately in need of some introvert recharge time. So I curled up on the sofa with a young adult novel and didn’t speak to anyone for a couple of hours. It was exactly what I needed.
  9. An old-school notebook and pen. It’s just handy, especially when you end up working in a group, whether it’s formally or on your own time. “Does anybody have paper?” gets asked all the time. “Does anybody have an iPad?” just … doesn’t.
  10. Questions. This is your one shot to ask all sorts of people who know all sorts of stuff all of the questions that have been nagging you this entire year. So, naturally, you will forget them all as soon as you’ve arrived. Write them down! Carry them in your pocket. And when you run into that special somebody, ask away.

Have you been to a massage conference before? If you made some unconventional packing decisions, dish! What was a waste of space? What wouldn’t you be caught without?

Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc

You belong

The feeling of not belonging, of not being entirely worthy, of being sometimes hostage to your own sensibilities. Those things speak to me very personally.  ~Anthony Minghella

I joined a new gym a few months back. Not a particularly momentous event, but there it is. It’s a Planet Fitness, and their schtick is about being an anti-gym kinda place. You’re not likely to find women in full spandex, hair and make-up there. Nor are you likely to hear super-bulky men grunting loudly at the free weights. It’s a gym for non-athletic people like me, where we can feel comfortable sucking wind on a treadmill set at 5 mph. (At least for the first few weeks.)

I switched my account from a credit card payment to a checking account withdrawal last week and I got a bag with this on it:

It made me chuckle. I’ve been thinking about belonging a great deal lately. I’m not a super-social creature. I like one-on-one interaction, groups of four people or less. But I’ve gotten better at the social stuff that used to scare me. I actually walked into a friend’s BBQ by myself, even though I knew there would be only one familiar person there. That was  big for me. I didn’t get nervous before I had to speak at a meeting last week. (But I did find that my heart was racing a bit and my hands were shaky when I sat down.)

I love Online Marketing, especially social media, because it allows me to be by myself while still letting me be in touch with others, on my terms. In the 2 years that I’ve been blogging, I seem to have found my people. There’s a whole world of brilliant, loving, hilarious massage therapists out here on the interwebs that I didn’t know existed. Andrea Lipomi and Ryan Hoyme decided to create this space for us, and I am so honored they invited me in.

We understand each other in ways non-massage therapists can’t.
We understand what it is we give of ourselves when we cradle a head in our hands
We understand the balance of earning a living in massage and caring for ourselves to avoid burnout.
We are progressive, happy, tech-minded individuals who are in love with massage.
We are silly, cheesy and post about absurd Star Trek memes regularly.
We dig playing with other massage therapists.

Does this sound like you? Then you belong, too. Welcome.



Evolving Roles

When I first decided to become a massage therapist, I didn’t think about what kinds of roles I wanted to play in the massage world. I was going to give kick-butt massages, and maybe write about it on the side. Wasn’t that basically what everyone in massage school planned to do?

But the more time I spend as a part of the massage community, the more aware I become of the huge variety of roles massage therapists play:

  • business owner
  • community health educator
  • teacher
  • author
  • researcher
  • volunteer
  • mentor
  • retailer
  • organizer

Superhero belongs on this list too.

These are only the very beginning, and yet we rarely talk massage therapists about the many paths of service that are open to them. Why?

Of the roles I’ve taken on since becoming a part of the massage therapy community, the one that took me most by surprise is student advocate. It occurred as a side effect of blogging while still in massage school; I felt obligated to stand up for myself and my fellow students, to remind the world that we were no less an important part of the massage world than those who had long since left their school days behind. Whether we like it or not, today’s students are the future of the profession. In my role as their staunch supporter, I feel that I owe it to us all to make sure that they enter the professional world with the very best we have to offer.

Part of this means helping students to move forward through their educations with open eyes, knowing what kinds of roles they might take on in their careers, and what shoes they might someday have to fill. This knowledge can affect not only their educational choices, but their aspirations and level of connection to the field.

The next time someone asks you about your experience as a massage therapist, take just a minute to step beyond the clients and the daily laundry, and outline the other roles that you and those around you have taken on over the years.

You might be surprised and find that you’re more than you think you are. Open up the doors and show people the wider vistas of what a massage therapist can truly accomplish in this world. It’s a beautiful view. Why not let everyone know?


Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.


photo credit: gorickjones via photo pin cc