May 31, 2011

The Top Ten Types of People Who Appreciate Good Massage

I love a good list, and I was thinking about which clients most enjoy and need a darn good massage. My Scientific Method (MSM) consists of noting the number of “aahs” uttered in a session and spontaneous reports of the ability to see colors again after massage.

Number 10: People who work on computer chips.

Number Nine: Men of a certain age who want to continue to play baseball.

Number Eight: Spouses of oversexed celebrities/politicians.

Number Seven: People who thought they could handle elderly, demented in-laws.

Number Six: Anyone in the real estate/escrow business who needs to close a sale before 2030.

Number Five: People who watch do-it-yourself shows just before three-day weekends.

Number Four: The guy at the gym who lost count on the adductor machine.

Number Three: Anyone in line at the market behind the extreme coupon lady.

Number Two: Marriage & Family therapists who are also mothers of teenagers.

…And the Number One type of clients who most need and enjoy a darn good massage is:

Massage therapists who work seven days a week! Time to take a vacation!


Put your nominations into comments…

May 23, 2011

OW! My New Phone Smarts!

Well, it’s happened again. I have been outwitted by technology for the 1001st time, and it smarts.

This time I moved up to a smart phone, about three years after everyone else did, largely because I felt it had been long enough for all the obvious bugs to be worked out or at least paved over.

My new phone tells me the weather with little moving cloud graphics, a moving windshield wiper graphic (for rain) and a mysterious switch to the weather in Taipei when I least expect it.

Unlike the old phone, it will not take 500 pictures of the inside of my pants pocket, but it does occasionally call people when I am just trying to check the time. “Oh. Hi. Did I call you? Sorry. New phone.”

The idea behind this effort, which will probably take three months of stumbling about in the dark to learn how it really works, was ostensibly to get more work-related things done quickly.

“Oh, you can do so much more with these smart phones,” my tech-y buddy told me. “It’s so much easier to check your emails, schedule appointments, run credit cards, everything for work!”


Of course, no upgrade will go unpunished, especially if you are married. To avoid a cataclysm at home, I made sure we both upgraded our phones. That meant buying the exact same phones, same color, etc. because they were on sale at Fry’s. Imagine my horror when I accidentally took honey’s phone to work with me. My clients were calling my smart phone, tucked away in a desk drawer on silent while honey worked at the bank.

One screaming fast ride to honey’s office later, I discovered that my phone wasn’t getting text messages. None. I had foolishly trained clients to text me for an appointment when they were about to arrive at the airport, or get out of a meeting, or whatever. Text is so much easier and convenient.

The folks at AT&T somehow decided that text is no longer included in the smart phone media bundle ($15 a month) it is now “extra.” Text is now separate and costs $30 a month. They don’t tell you that when you buy the phone, and the texts I’d sent for two days had apparently gone into ether space, because when you don’t have text you don’t get a message back that says they didn’t go through. As I listened to the rep tell me I had to pay extra for text, I felt a stirring in long-dormant genetic coding for solving problems through violence. If I could just reach through the phone…I could get in trouble with the law.

Well, I’m not going to let this thing defeat me. First thing today, I’m going to go to the hotel where I used to have a day spa and get one of the parking valets to tech me how this thing works. Then I’m going to call my phone plan back and raise ruckus until I get a cheaper text plan. Later, I will turn my phone on and watch the clouds go by….

May 17, 2011

Does Where You Massage Matter?

Ok, I’m going to respond to a blog by Lynna Dunn who admits to working at Massage Envy and being proud of it.

Dear Lynna: Good for You! There is nothing wrong with working for a living!

Believe me, I’ve heard some major whining from massage therapists who “would never work for a big chain.” Trust me, they will never work at a big chain because they can’t get to work on time, run on time and keep an eye on their schedule changes. They also can’t show up in a clean uniform and ready to work when their shift starts (not 15 minutes later) with a pleasant attitude.

The structured practice massage therapists find at chains gives all of us a major opportunity to learn how to be therapeutic while being reliable and disciplined. Massage schools are not run like West Point, and after schooling a lot of newbie massage “gods and goddesses” need a reality check.

Which takes me to a related ill of our profession: Are massage therapists flaky? Or are flakes attracted to our profession, lasting just long enough to give us a bum rap? Can we taser these people before they pretend to do massage again?

Egads, I rant. The ranting, by the way comes from some trapped energy in the region of my neck and my give-a-darn. I’ve been both therapist and employer of therapists, situations that taught me compassion for our dear clients. Despite some horrible experiences, our dear clients still come for massages, thank heaven. We just have to get our kit-packs together to serve them.

So work at a chain, work out of your car, work at an airport chair joint, work in a lean-to by the freeway, work in a tent at the flea market. Most of all, keep your chin tucked and stand tall! Your earnest efforts are appreciated!

May 15, 2011

Thoughts on Therapeutic Massage

A few months ago, I wrote a blog defending the merits of working for a chain like Massage Envy. I got quite a few positive comments--more than I thought I would, actually--and one remarkably negative one. This last comment opined that nothing "therapeutic" could possibly happen in a 50 minute massage, and that to say so would be taking advantage of the poor, dumb therapists and clients who believe that. Well, lady, I don't know who died and made you Goddess of Massage, but let me tell you this: I've got better things to do than sitting around with my thumb up my butt, going through the motions, and if I didn't believe what I do for a living made a tangible difference in clients' lives, I would have hung up my holster and gone home a long time ago. But the following I have, and the progress I've seen, keeps the fire burning under me.

As I've shared before, I have two jobs: one is at Massage Envy, the other is a private business I work at with a friend of mine. While I prefer the later, I appreciate the former (for reasons I stated in the previous blog.) Moreover, I don't find that work to be absent of any therapeutic benefit, and I will explain why. First, all definitions of therapeutic include basically the following words: "of or relating to the treatment of disease or disorder by remedial agents or methods" and "providing or assisting in a cure." And no matter where I do it--or whether it is accomplished in 50 or 60 minute sessions--I believe my massage always treats disease or disorder and assists in a cure.

Yes, I prefer to work in longer sessions. But does that mean I can't accomplished anything in a shorter one? No. Do people usually have the time and money for the 3-4 hour sessions our hands tell us they need? Can we undo the affects of years of stress and over-work in an hour? No. That's why people come back and follow treatment programs of multiple sessions.

Or, if for any reason, a client cannot afford an $85 session, does that mean the client does not deserve massage and should not seek touch through a $40 session? Uh, no, I hope not, because all our belief in touch would seem somewhat hypocritical and useless at that point. Do I have the right to say what is therapeutic for any individual person? No. I personally don't get much out of light touch, but there are clients who seem to "take up their beds and walk" after getting little more than petting. Does that mean these super-sensitives are not experiencing healing? That the absence of pain and depression is only in their heads? Yes and no, because a lot of pain and dysfunction are LITERALLY IN OUR HEADS, meaning they derive from nerves and the brain's processing of information.

I will say it again: there are good therapists, mediocre therapists, and poor therapists. I've seen poor ones making a lot of money per session, and good ones making little. And I've seen it the other way around. But when it comes to therapeutic benefit, even chair massages can be helpful, and that is really saying something in my opinion. So if you're out there--anywhere--will powerful skill and pointed intention, you are working in some aspect in therapeutic massage. Don't worry too much about the Goddess of Massage: I hear it's a self-appointed position.

May 9, 2011

Public Safety in Oils and Other Topicals for Massage

Massage is a natural, low-technology treatment for modern ills, would you not agree?

The nurturing hands of the massage therapist also bring people in contact with oils, and quite naturally, I’ve always been concerned about the effects of oils and topicals being used in massage.

Experience has taught me that the words organic and natural on a label do not always mean what the words imply. I look for smoothers such as liquid silicones, petroleum-based oils and ingredients that just don’t look like they should be there. That means I have to run to the on-line dictionary to look up some of these ingredients to find out what they really are.

Even the seemingly ultra-natural area of essential oils aromatherapy can contain additives that aren’t very natural and could interfere or compromise the product being delivered.

In recent weeks, more alarms have been raised about added ingredients in oils, sunscreens, baby bottles, detergents, make-ups, toys, clothes, etc. On April 27 The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement that the 1976 safety rules for added ingredients (Toxic Substances Safety Act) in many items is set so low it amounts to mass experimentation. Kid’s doctors are worried about chemical exposures and rates of allergies and disorders such as autism.

I don’t think of the pediatricians or myself as some knee-jerk naturalists. Chemicals occur in nature all the time and they can be quite toxic. I just don’t want to add some synthetic to the mix that may later be shown to increase sensitivities or allergies in myself and clients.

This is something massage therapists have to consider for their own safety as well as their clients.

My hair stylist friend has told me that when he colors hair, he has to be very careful about his exposure to the chemicals in hair colors. He uses gloves, keeps the shops well-aired and covers his mixing bowl. Developing sensitivities to colors and sprays can significantly shorten a stylist’s career.

I certainly don’t want to be one of those folks who can’t massage anymore because I’ve used some 50-ingredient super-glide lotion. Nor do I want to find out that my clients, sensitive to life as they already are, are getting sick from what I use to try and nurture them.

May 2, 2011

A Karmic Day

Sunday, May 1, 2011, was a day that marked a karmic shift in the energy of the world.

My honey and I were standing in a crowd on Main Street in Disneyland at 7 a.m., waiting to walk through the parks to raise money for the 25th annual AIDS Walk in Orange County. This marked the anniversary of the death of a good friend, Jamie Jemison. He died on May 1st from complications of long-term infection with HIV. He was infected with HIV in the late 1970s, making him one of a handful of long-surviving people with the disease.

His mother, Pearl Jemison, was the honorary chairwoman of the walk and gave a short speech on the meaning of the day. As soon as she mentioned Jamie, a little bird started chirping loudly in a ficus tree at the corner of Main Street, right above our heads and the heads of Jamie’s brother, sisters and their children.

“I think Jamie gave that little guy a push!” I said. He had kept an aviary at his home and loved to nurture birds. As he chirped away, we followed the pace car through the park. All 4,000 of us.

Later that day, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the worlds’ most notorius mass-murderer, filled my TV screen.

I watched CNN, Fox and the local news well into midnight and beyond. I saw the crowds at the White House and Ground Zero and Times Square. Were the crowds celebrating a death? No, they were celebrating life. Life and freedom for us all over prejudice, condemnation and self-righteousness.

It's curious that on May 1, 1945, Germany announced that Adolf Hitler was dead.

Peace for us all.