March 20, 2010

CE Toxicity

I love continuing education classes, because I love learning new things. But I have to say, they're hard on me.

I worked my days off this week so that I could afford to take the "time off" to take a class. And a class is not a vacation. For one thing, like many therapists, I'm somewhat of an empath, so getting trapped in a room all day with 15 other people's energy is draining for me. Then there's the drain of concentration, the anxiety of getting there and back (I detest driving in the U District), and finally the general toxicity of what is normally a really good thing (someone massaging me).

A few months ago, I was forced to begin a heavy metals detox to move my health forward, and I have to say, it's made me feel all-around low-grade crappy. Add three days of being worked on at least four hours a day, then having to rally and work on someone else . . . The first night, my glutes hurt so bad I told my boyfriend I probably had developed systemic butt cancer or something, and he might as well shoot me and put me out of my misery. And this is after shoulder and arm work only! Tonight my butt was fine, but after all that scalp work--which felt good at the time, mind you--my head and neck sure hurt. And I know that no matter what I try, probably only water and eight hours of sleep will help in the long run.

Each time I take another class, I try to prepare based on what I've learned in the past. I carry more good snacks now, snacks with fat and protein, and I carry a lot of water with me. I spend the lunch hour mainly drowsing or meditating, not trying to catch up on email or phone messages. And I try to have food waiting at the house so that I can have something good when I stumble in hungry and foggy.
Don't get me wrong: I have learned awesome things this weekend, and I'm grateful that I was able to learn them. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish for a magic detox-immediately-and-joyfully pill... especially for CE toxicity!

March 10, 2010

Take a Break, for Heaven's Sake

In the last few weeks, I've begun to swear to myself never again to hire a therapist who works seven days a week--especially at three to four different jobs. No matter how much she assures me she can handle it/has handled it/wants to handle it. Not even if her practical makes me feel like whipped mousse . . . the first time around.

Why? Because humans have to have a day off. With no free time or time of your own, you can't rejuvenate. Your work typically suffers. You start marshaling your energy during your clinic time, giving cookie-cutter massages with pretty, but useless frills and twirls. After all, you spent all morning working in a coffee shop or a book store or doing four massages at home, so you don't have enough left for that other obligation you have.

Even worse, short, infrequent shifts with little energetic involvement doesn't leave you a lot for being a good team member. You don't always fold that load of laundry or look around for some shared task that needs to be done. You're not really involved here, you just work here . . . sometimes. And you might make a few more dollars, but seriously . . . are a few more hours of massage going to make you rich? Not unless you're personal massage staff for a major celebrity or oil tycoon.

My days off are really important to me, even in weeks like this when I can barely take my own advice. I only work one job, but I work it five days a week as lead therapist. Sometimes a big task or crisis looms, and I end up in the office on my days off. But I still watch myself carefully. I don't want to end up with an endless job punctuated with nagging physical issues instead of a cherished calling. Which is what massage becomes to over-worked, desensitized therapists. In my opinion, at least.

Buckets O' Stress

Well, it's been kind of tense around my house lately, largely because my honey has spent the last three months on the jury for a creepy serial killer accused of five murders.

I must say, I ran out of jokes and quick subject changes when it all came down Tuesday with the death sentence. Not much one can do but console. A little TLC. I ignored all the crabbiness and just tried to be there for my honey.

This has been a life sentence for the jurors in stress.. they've had sleepless nights, nightmares from the up-close, color corpse photos and the extremely annoying defendant, acting as his own attorney, who couldn't speak above a whisper or phrase a question right. The judge and prosecutor had to help him out a lot.

So I came home from the office last night to see my honey lying in bed, snuggled in a blanket, with a headache, a backache and an incredibly irritable mood. No, no massage. No warm bath. No ice cream. No. Leave me alone.

Here I am, a massage therapist who can pretty much deal with anyone's barrel of stress, and I get ordered out of the room.

Around 11:30 that night, honey finally appeared, and decompressed by telling me how frustrating it had been to be a juror, to listen to all the testimony, to see the families, the testimony of two girls who survived.

"I know we did the right thing."

Sometimes the right thing sucks, and there's not much one can do about it.

I told honey that civic duty now being over for the next decade, we should now turn to the future and never think about Mr. Creepy again.

This is going to be hard.

March 2, 2010

Thanks Sincerely

At my place of business, we've instituted the practice of writing thank-you notes to new clients. A brief thank-you note really adds a special touch and shows clients that we are genuine both in wanting to help them and in being grateful for their business. Sounds like a fairly simple task, right? Apparently not for everyone :-) Given that my upbringing and my Southern mother and grandmother demanded that I know how to write thank-you notes, I can do them in my sleep. So after my boss asked me to address the situation, I sat down and thought for a few minutes and came up with the following tips and examples:

  1. Start with a more formal greeting like "Dear Mike," instead of "Hi there!": they don't know us that well yet, so let's not talk like we're all buddies.
  2. Write at least 2-3 lines (see examples below).
  3. Use an appropriate closing such as "Thanks again" or "All best" or "Yours in health" and then sign your name.
  4. Use cursive unless you absolutely must print; it looks much nicer and more formal.
  5. Try to give your note a "personal touch" whenever possible (see examples below).
  6. Do your thank-you note after you see your new client or at the end of your shift: if you wait to do it until another day, you're likely to forget. And thank-you notes always need to be timely.

Here are some examples:


Dear Karen,

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed having you as client today at Blank! I hope your neck will feel much better in the coming weeks, and we look forward to seeing you again in the future.



Dear Inez,

Thank you so much for choosing Blank for your first massage ever! I hope you found it wonderfully relaxing and will be visiting us again in the future.

Yours in health,


Dear Nancy,

It was wonderful to have you as a client today at Blank. I was happy to be able to help you with your neck pain, and I hope that now you're feeling better, you'll really be able to enjoy your visit with your daughter.

Many thanks,


Dear Bob,

I really enjoyed having you as a client today at Blank. I know the elevator repair business will keep you very busy over the holidays, but remember to take breaks and take care of yourself. I hope to see you on my schedule again soon!

Happy Holidays,


This short list of tips and examples seemed to help amazingly! I actually got several verbal thank-yous for the tips and examples. Not that anyone will ever really love the task. As the truly tasteless joke told at many Southern universities goes: "Why do sorority girls hate orgies? Because they have to write all those thank-you notes!" But, well . . . . at least it's getting easier :-)