From cool to warm

Started painting at the new office today. Taking the colors from cool to warm.

The oranges are new. The blue-green is the old color.

With the rug that will go in here (which is orange, cream, and a little sage green) I am hoping the room will feel warm and inviting.

This office will be open in a couple of weeks! I am planning a gift certificate sale just in time for Christmas gift-giving.

Stay tuned!

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Colors!

Picked out paint colors today. I believe I got them right on the first try. I thought a lot about them before choosing, though.

These are Behr’s Tibetan Orange and Almond Milk in eggshell finish. I look forward to seeing how they mature.

I want this room to feel like a hug. That’s how I described it to my office mate. Once I get it painted and get all my furniture, lights, and accoutrements in, I hope it will feel warm and inviting.

Sunday will be paint day, and then hopefully my contract will start next week so I can start building a clientele here.

I am happy that most of my current clients are excited about the move and want to follow. Thanks, everyone, for that. It really feels great to have your support.

Catch you later on down the trail…

A door opened…

…and I stepped through.

(Finally — here is the fantastic news I teased about in my last post.)

I am moving my private practice to beautiful Downtown Lawrence at the end of 2018.

I am excited to know I’ll start my 29th year of bodywork in my own massage room. I will consolidate both my home office and my current practice here. My regular house call clients can count on me continuing to visit them at home, however.

It’s honestly been decades since I have had my very own bodywork space, and I am looking forward to transforming these plain walls into an oasis of healing and heartfelt work.

I feel I am at a crossroads after almost three decades doing bodywork. It’s something I love to do and something I do well, so the thoughts of either continuing to work for someone else or quitting to try to start another skilled career just didn’t sit well with me. It was at this time this new door opened, and I said YES.

I can see years of happy practice here. I may even take up teaching yoga again at the studio across the street. I had fun teaching classes there before I stopped in 2016.

Updated location and other details about the new business location are coming soon.

I will see you then!

2018 Changes

There are barred owl laughing outside my window as I write on a post-full-moon evening. 

I am ready and going to work mightily toward creating the bodywork practice that *I* want this year. In year 28, I want to move to what will be perceived by everyone as “lighter” work. I prefer to call it “more profound” because it’s braver and more mindful than what most of us are used to doing every day.  But I’ll get to that.

Writing this post, it’s my intention to reinforce my desire as well as put it out there for reinforcement from the larger world. I’ll remind myself when I forget I wrote this (which I will).

I sincerely hope to keep going in bodywork until I am in my 70s or maybe even 80s. I believe that for me, this is the way to do it. Read on for my rationale.

*****

Over the weekend, I came across this quote in a note I wrote to myself (in my Notes program on my phone) at the beginning of the year:

“Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.”

I have no memory of actually writing this to myself or what may have prompted me to think about the subject; not remembering even writing it down, I just did a Google search and I could not find any attribution of this quote to anyone else.

So yay. Go me! Apparently I had a deep thought and wrote it down. Mine mine mine!

Let me say it again:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Honestly, I was surprised to find this note to myself — and very, very glad. It reinforced the changes that I want to make in my practice this year and beyond.

I believe myself and what I wrote with my whole heart. Bodywork should not be another trauma or ordeal that supposedly helps you heal. At least, not bodywork received at my hands.

*****

I just finished an Oncology Massage intensive in Austin, Texas. I had been planning to take this specific training for about two years and am glad I made it. I had the blessing of having two coworkers in my office along with me; without them, I would likely still have driven down alone, but boy, it was much, much more awesome all around to go with people I know!

Now our office is poised to be the the premiere office in our town to be doing this kind of work. It could not come at a better time for where I am in my career.

Since joining a group practice again in 2016, I’ve been challenged with finding the balance between what clients believe they want and what they may be used to receiving and what I am able to provide for them. This requires a lot of careful thinking and being able to assure people that what I can do is effective, even if they are not suffering as they are used to while I am doing the work. I  will admit, I don’t always get to this point. I cave. I give them what they want, not what I am comfortably able to do. It sucks.

In my private practice from 2013-2016, after I moved back to Kansas, I was developing my own neuromuscular style of work that was informed very heavily by training I did in Passive Fascia Restoration with Deborah Bruce (which is now called The Finesse Massage Technique). Training with Deborah was my first attempt at bringing a more informed and attentive version of bodywork into my practice so that I could ensure my longevity as a practitioner.

Just like structural integration was a hard sell for me in the 1990s (here, let me stick my elbow in you until you yell “Uncle!”), PFR (now FMT) was a hard sell for me moving back to Kansas. I am just not that good at explaining HOW lighter work works and WHY it works. I just knew it worked. Alas, it’s been on the back burner for a while.

When I joined a group practice, I found I wasn’t able to continue the exploration of a lighter, more profound assimilation of all of the training I have done in my life. There were many factors that made my new office no longer my laboratory for exploration of integrated concepts. My work got rougher and more aggressive. I actually lost private clients at my home office due to the changes that working on the broader public brought, and the pressures to meet some level of perceived deep tissue work that I find rough and coarse and hard to effect. I am not happy to say this.

I believe that the general public wants what they perceive as “deep” massage. Spending precious time in the hour of therapy trying to convince someone who is used to being roughed up by a 20-something therapist that going lighter can actually go deeper and be more relaxing ended up going by the wayside in a more public setting. To survive, I had to call upon that long-gone 20-something Alison rather than just being the (then) 40-something, more mellow person I was at the time.

All of the times I caved to the crowd, I was acutely aware that my own body and spirit suffered for it. Both client and therapist suffered for some sort of perceived greater good.

When you are in a group practice or an office where you cannot control who may be getting on your table, and you may not even know the client or their history beforehand, it’s tough not to fall into the “The Customer is Always Right” mentality or the “I could do this in my 20s!” mentality. Even after 27 years, I might have known better, but often I still don’t listen to what I need in any given moment.

With Oncology Massage, the work is often SO vastly different from what clients have received before they had their cancer experience that their resistance to the idea of HAVING to receive lighter work in order not to cause harm or potentially bring irreversible changes in their health can be mighty. I actually experienced this scenario the day after I returned from the training! I held my ground, and used the principles I now know because I can’t un-know them; but I did feel as though I disappointed this client, in spite of explaining why *I* could not do what previous therapists might have uninformedly done. I don’t think it was my best session ever. That never feels good.

Never do I want someone to come to harm at my hands, though. That is the baseline. I know now what work I can do in these special situations, and I need to learn to translate to clients what a new normal means for them when it comes to bodywork. Most of the time, it’s going to be lighter work than they are used to.

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.  I am going to print this out and put it in my treatment room tomorrow.

Lighter work get such a bad rap with clients though! For decades now, even while caving, I have attempted to dissuade clients of the idea that “deep tissue massage” is “better” or “of more value” than any other kind of massage. I’ve had people on the table who literally wanted me to hurt them because either that was what they were used to, or that was what they thought was the most value for their money.

When I have caved, many clients have also been sore. Many people WANT to be sore from massage. They expect to be sore from massage. If they are NOT sore from massage, they didn’t get their money’s worth!

For a relatively healthy human being with no major medical conditions and no compromised lymphatic system (or so we assume), maybe creating this kind of “therapeutic inflammation” is all right now and then. Heavens know that I’ve received enough bodywork through which I thought I had to suffer and be sore the next day because I believed that in the long run, the work would benefit me. Honestly, looking back, I can’t say whether or not it did… I’ve had three series of The Original Recipe (structural integration) and I am not sure I am any more well-aligned or taller than I was in my 20s.

All facetiousness aside, I know SO many ways to do incredibly effective, tissue-changing, restorative bodywork that I just don’t DO on folks because I am worried that they won’t see value in it — and I can’t translate yet what the value actually WOULD BE for them.

My main challenge, even though I believe wholeheartedly in lighter work, is and will be learning to explain why and how this work can have vastly more value over suffering (elbows and hyperemia) through what they (and I!) have been used to. Who doesn’t want to feel completely relaxed and refreshed after a session?

So, I come back to this prescient quote I wrote to myself:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Giving bodywork should also not be another ordeal through which I suffer in order to please a client — OR get a paycheck.

I am hoping that given the abundant support of the language provided in my Oncology training, me, the shy therapist who just wants to work and not have to explain why I am incredibly good at what I do, can learn to explain to clients why suffering is optional in massage. Why the kind of informed work that I CAN do will be better for all of us. Why being sore from a massage is injury. Why I’ve got to be cautious when someone has lymphedema or DVT risks, or has had lymph nodes removed. Why a lighter, saner, more present form of bodywork could revolutionize their lives. It’s everything I’ve ever learned and truly believe about what bodywork can do. It’s who I want to be as a bodyworker, too.

I need to promise myself to get braver and to hold my own ground. I need to return to the work that I love, the amazing, slow, profound, lighter, attention-saturated neuromuscular and connective tissue work that has helped so many people in my private practice. I want to make this transition, to bring it to the world I inhabit in my group practice.

I am excited to start seeing Oncology clients soon, too. We have to put some system into place so we can identify clients who don’t self-identify and make sure they understand why we are doing the work we are doing in the way we are doing it. I am hoping that almost all of them will appreciate that we’re looking out for them rather than feel shortchanged.

It’s long for a mantra, but I’ll repeat again and again:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Thanks for reading.