March MLDness

A few weeks back I wrote about my upcoming promotional offer, and shamelessly plugged my newsletter. That email went out on March 10th, so for those of you who missed it (and for the curious who didn’t miss it, per se) here’s the offer:

From now through April 11, 2014, get 15 minutes of free Manual Lymphatic Drainage added on to a 60 or 90 minute massage. All you have to do is mention this offer when booking the appointment.

Ta da! MLD for everybody (except for anybody with certain health conditions, like untreated congestive heart failure).

Here’s a quick reminder of the general effects of MLD:

  • It decongests tissues;  by increasing the uptake of fluid into the lymphatic system
  • It’s soothing; the gentle strokes promote a parasympathetic response
  • It’s analgesic; the nociceptive substances get pulled away from your tissues with the fluid
  • It can move fluid out of blocked areas (as in lymphedema management)

Even a 15 minute treatment to the neck is going to deliver some of these effects. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: MLD is one of my favorite modalities to receive. In fact, on the day I wrote this post I had a treatment to my neck and right arm to reduce the wrist pain flare-up I’m currently experiencing. It knocked my pain down from an 8-9/10 with certain movements down to a 5/10. That’s an excellent result!

Oncology Massage Training Dates!

I’m afraid that winter has officially tapped me out, writing wise. Every post I started went absolutely nowhere (except the little electronic trash can, love that thing). I think that means that now is a good time to share the newly announced dates for Oncology Massage training in Chicago at Cortiva. Both classes will be taught by Jacki Sellers of Greet the Day with some assistance from Rebecca Sturgeon and yours truly.

The Oncology Massage Foundation Course is first. In this one licensed massage therapists learn how to safely adapt their techniques for clients in treatment, or with a history of cancer. That will be June 5-7.

The second class is a more advanced training called Advanced Client Clinic. We’ll be covering treatments and side-effects in greater depth, as well as having client volunteers to work with. It should be a pretty amazing experience. Look for that on September 11-13.

If you’re a massage therapist who’s ready for a great class, get in touch with Margaret McNamara at Cortiva.

We’re also always looking for more people to be client volunteers. If you or someone you know is in treatment or has a history of cancer treatment, and would like a free 60 minute massage drop me a line.


One of the first types of posts I envisioned for my blog was to share scientific studies on massage, and my opinion on them. Time hasn’t been on my side so far, but, I think the New Year is a good time to start. Beginning with my next blog post, I’ll introduce a study and then talk about what it means for LMTs and their clients. I might also share ways that further studies could be improved.

Before we begin that, it seems appropriate to give some background about me. My education, and my strengths and weaknesses from a scientific perspective. I don’t want to inflate my credentials, or claim expertise that I don’t have.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My class was the last year that Biology General was a major, but my courses would have made me a Micro- and Cellular Biology major these days. I was interested in the minutiae of life, that’s for sure.

My strengths first: I was trained in the scientific method. I designed experiments, carried them out, and then interpreted the results. If I recall correctly, I never received below an A- in any of my science courses (though I’d need to check my transcript to be certain, and I haven’t managed to de-clutter that part of the apartment yet). This gives me a stronger scientific foundation than most of the massage therapists I have met so far.

On to weaknesses: No advanced training! I took graduate-level courses, but those do not a Master’s degree make. I got better grades than most of my college classmates, but I still only have a B.S. The other big weakness of mine to keep in mind is that it’s been close to ten years since I graduated from college, and there was a long period of time when I wasn’t really using these skills. I’m still not using them to the extent that I might like.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. I guess you could call me a well-informed dabbler, rather than an expert. Scientific research into massage is still so new though, I think a curious person like me could come in handy. Someday I’d like to help move things along even.

The research posts will get tagged as “Science Monkey” for those who want to look out for them (either to read or avoid, no judgment here). First up: the massive Sloan-Kettering study that is still the talk of Oncology Massage.

Trying Something New

Continuing with the resolution theme from last week, it seems like a good time for me to write about my next active marketing project.

You may have noticed that there’s a new page on the blog, “Newsletter”. Yup, I’ve started a mailing list and will be writing a monthly e-newsletter to send out. I’m envisioning it as being interesting, informative, and brief. Anyone interested can sign up for it on that page or on my website.

The other fun developments from this past week are my foray into proper bookkeeping, and getting the final supplies for my massage room. The former is a lot more fun than I thought it would be, though I do spend a fair amount of time arguing with my laptop. The latter is just satisfying. I’ve been wanting a mirror for a long time, so it was very exciting to find a nice one from a local business close to Heartwood. (That would be The Mexican Shop on Dempster.)

On the personal side, I’ve been doing the January Cure on Apartment Therapy, which has been a fun challenge so far. I’m hoping that by getting rid of some of my extraneous stuff, I’ll be making room in my life for better things. And hopefully those things will be metaphorical rather than physical- less clutter.

Yes, a Resolution Post

As a general rule I try to keep New Year’s Resolutions to a minimum. Probably because I don’t have a great track record of sticking with them past February or March (does anyone? I’d like to know their secret).  This year I’ve decided to frame some planned changes as resolutions to make them more seasonally appropriate. I had already decided that 12/2013 was going to be more of a soft open for the business as I sort out some issues and learn to use my credit card reader. 2014 is when I plan to begin trying to really get things going. In light of that, I have made a couple of “resolutions” to start out the new year.

The first is to be more active in marketing my practice. Most of my ideas are pretty standard, but I have a couple cool things to try out too. The first idea is a tried and true one.  Announcing…

The referral discount! Send me a new client and you get $10 off your next massage when they show up for their appointment. Make sure they tell me who sent them (preferably once when booking, and again at the start of the actual appointment). You can save them up and get a free massage if you want, or use them right away. I might even make it transferable, though I can foresee some difficulties with that.

The second is a resolution that is both professional and personal. I want to be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate. To other people, yes, and also to myself.

This is an interesting article making the social networking rounds. I am a goal-oriented person (kind of), but I like the idea of switching to systems. I mean, anything that stops people from injuring themselves during work outs gets the Margaret (Harbor) Seal of Approval.

How about you? Any resolutions, goals, or systems you want to share here? Or how about suggestions for sticking to resolutions?

This IS the Post You’re Looking For

I’m so excited to officially announce that I have rented space in the beautiful Heartwood Center in Evanston, IL. I’ll begin seeing clients on December 6, 2013. This right here? This is the final adventure of 2013 that I’ve been hinting at.

After a rough year, it feels so amazing to be able to share my talents with clients again. And to build my practice the way I’ve always dreamed it.

The next couple of weeks are going to be full of getting equipment and supplies, and generally getting things ready for people. Mostly, though, it’s going to be full of doing rather than talking. This is one of the biggest adventures of my life, and I can’t wait to share some of it here.

Interested in making an appointment? More information is here. And check out how amazing the Heartwood Center is!

Adventures in Life

On the day this post goes up, I will be traveling home from my second-to-last adventure of 2013. If everything goes according to plan (what are the odds?) I will have gone from Chicago, IL to Kalamazoo, MI to New York, NY to Stamford, CT back to NYC, then finally back to Chicago. All in five days. As you read this I am probably either on a plane or collapsed on my floor.

But that isn’t the adventure I want to discuss today. I want to talk about my final adventure of 2013: Opening up my own massage practice. I’m working on renting a room in Evanston, IL, and I have every reason to expect that I’ll be ready to see clients before the year is over!

Of course, once everything is finalized and I’m taking on new clients I’ll make a big announcement on this blog. But, if you’re interested in getting on my email list, please let me know. Don’t post your email address in the comments, but you can just ask to be added. Or, you can contact me through my website:

Finally, you can reach me through my good old gmail account: olson . margaret @ gmail (no spaces)

As always, thanks for sharing this journey with me. There are lots of good things ahead.

Edited 10/29:

I made it to every city I was hoping to see, and then back home with only one minor hiccup- the flight was cancelled. The gate agent who got me on the next flight out of LaGuardia was the same one who got me on a new flight the day after the big blizzard 2 years ago… by switching me to 1st class. I thanked her again this time for all her help both times.