Reflecting on 2014

Today marks the last day I will be in my office in 2014. It was such an amazing year for me; I learned so much from everyone, and had a great time doing it! I thought this would be a good time to reflect a little on this past year, and share some of my hopes for the next.

To prepare to write this blog post, I decided to read through my posts from last December and January. I was honestly expecting to get a little chuckle, or possibly even a gentle headshake, out of myself when I was shiny and new to the business world (unlike the expert I am now, naturally). Instead I was pleasantly surprised at how much is still true.

I had forgotten how much I used to have to compensate for with my wrist issues. Partly it’s normal for me now, but I realized that my wrist is very gradually healing. My flare-ups are less frequent, and my pain is much less severe in between them. One day I think it will even be weight-bearing in extension again.

Which brings us to my greatest triumph of the year: discovering that I am still capable of working deeply with some of my clients. I continue to honor and respect the gentle work I do, but I enjoy being able to work directly with the deeper muscles on some of my clients. Reading about where I was one year ago versus today, it’s clear that I have made more physical progress than I have been giving myself credit for.

Next year I plan to keep on improving my strength and stamina, I’ll keep finding new and interesting ways to practice self-care to share on here. I also plan to allow myself to speak a little louder and be more visible next year.

Thank you all for a wonderful year. May 2015 bring us all joy, prosperity, and greater wisdom. With Love, Margaret

New Look

I’m doing that thing bloggers do sometimes (besides wear blazers with jeans and sneakers) and messing around with the appearance of my blog. I’ll probably be playing around with it for the rest of 2014 or so. Feel free to let me know what you think, but please only do it in the comments of this post. Thanks!

You are Safe

There’s something about this time of year that seems to make some people feel more vulnerable (this is certainly true for me). I have some wild speculations about why that might be, but for the purposes of this post it doesn’t really matter.

One of my favorite people to give a massage to is the person who walks in my door feeling this vulnerability. The person who doesn’t want to be “fixed”, they want to be nurtured and feel attended to. When I work with this person, I am best able to embody my own sense of loving kindness. I am extra mindful of how I approach their body.

The truth about me is that I want everyone I encounter to feel safe and cared for. When someone comes to me seeking just those qualities, I feel my greatest sense of purpose. I love what I do, and these are some of the times I love it the most. Today was one of those days, and my heart is full.

Guest Blogging

I’m working on some new posts for this blog, I promise! In the meantime a post I wrote for the Heartwood Center blog went up yesterday- check it out here. It’s about how professional collaboration can improve clients outcomes, and encourages people to take advantage of the opportunities that Heartwood creates for us to work together.

Fun at Custer Fair

For those of you in the Evanston area, I’ll be at the Custer Fair on June 21st and 22nd from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm to help promote the new business collaboration I’m part of: Sphere Holistic Sports Medicine. Sphere is a professional collaboration between an M.D., an exercise specialist, an acupuncturist, and massage therapist and MLD therapist (hey, that last one is me!). It’s such an exciting thing to be a part of!

You can find us on Main St, next to the Wine Goddess tent. We’ll have cool tote bags to give out, and we’ll be doing wellness screenings, postural assessment, and mini massages. Please come out and say hi if you can!


A Couple of Announcements

First- as part of my continuing effort to bring my practice into the 21st century, I’m finally on Yelp. Feel free to check it out if you want.

My second announcement is about this blog. It’s been harder and harder lately to stick with my regular schedule.  For the past few weeks or so, it’s felt more important that something gets posted on Monday, quantity over quality if you will. So, for the next two or three months I’m going to relax my posting schedule. I’m only going to post when I feel really inspired to. It might even lead to more frequent posting, I really don’t know. Let the grand experiment begin!

The final thing I want to mention is an exciting upcoming class at Heartwood. Marsha Smith, LCSW is starting a new Mindfulness group. In my first week at Heartwood, Marsha very kindly gave me a 30-minute mindfulness demonstration. I had no idea what to expect. Honestly, I remember thinking it must be some kind of postural awareness type of thing. I should tell Marsha that sometime, I bet she’d get a kick out of it! Needless to say (although sitting in a comfortable position was part of it) the session was about so much more than just observing my own posture. It was about listening to the messages my body had for me, and learning to react consciously. If I had Saturdays off, this is absolutely where I’d be in June.

It’s been too long since I’ve said this: Thank you for reading my thoughts, and sharing my journey. I think that the best is yet to come!

3 Words

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working more closely with the exercise specialist at Heartwood, Hannah Mitch*. In addition to optimizing the exercise component of my self-care, she suggested that I might want to fine-tune my website. She felt that by emphasizing the gentleness of my work, I was oversimplifying or under representing  what I actually do.

I mulled it over for a while, but the truth is that her words immediately resonated with me. My work is gentle. But it isn’t necessarily superficial. It just isn’t forceful. The first thing I thought of was the tagline on my website, “Strength through gentleness”. I was never in love with it, but it was the best I had ever come up with to encapsulate what I was trying to be. Until now. I decided to find three words to represent who I am and what I do:

Knowledge. Strength. Heart.

These three words speak to the root of the practice I am trying to build, and they just feel right. I’d like to play a little bit with what they mean about my practice for anyone interested.

Knowledge- This speaks to my cerebral/scientific mind. I run an evidence-based practice, and try to keep up with the research coming out about massage (oncology massage in particular). I also try to educate my clients in the research and self-care whenever possible- preferably without talking their ears off!

Strength- This word is the one that stayed from my old tagline. I am a strong massage therapist, both in knowledge and technique. My strength is not necessarily immediately obvious, when I need to wear my wrist brace it seems especially hidden, but it’s there. I can- and do- work with deeper structures when needed and appropriate.

Heart- The soil in which my practice grows. It represents both the intuition I tap into to help me meet a client’s needs. As well as the loving/care-taking self I bring to every session. This aspect of my practice, this inner light, is what many of my clients respond to the most strongly.

These three words appeal to me, because I see myself as a holistic practitioner- Knowledge. Strength. Heart. Look at it another way- Mind. Body. Spirit.

*I cannot speak highly enough of Hannah’s work. My first session with her was a revelation, it’s exciting to see how my quality of life started to improve after it. I know in the sessions to come I’m going to feel even better.

Being Green

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d post about my efforts to run an environmentally friendly massage practice. Perhaps I should save it for Arbor Day, but I thought the green connection was cute.

For most of my life I’ve been an environmentally conscious consumer: I try to buy local and organic food and personal care products; I walk or take public transit to get around; I conserve water and electricity as much as possible; and follow the three R’s. I’m by no means perfect, there are always opportunities to do better. Sometimes I take them, and sometimes I don’t. When I started my own business, I wanted to bring as much of this sentiment with me as I could, while acknowledging that client experience needed to come first.

Without further ado, my green practices:

Most of the linens that I use are made from organic cotton. I tested a couple of non-organic sheets as well, because I thought they’d be warmer in the winter. I don’t think they are, so they’re getting phased out. My fleece blanket is the other exception, but the lighter cotton blanket for the warmer months is also organic. Next winter I’m going to look for an organic flannel blanket or two.

The hypo-allergenic massage lotion I use is all-natural and free from parabens,  formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol, nuts, and gluten. It’s also cruelty free and vegan.

I’m currently in the process of testing out certified organic massage creams for my clients who don’t need a hypoallergenic product.

Finally, try to keep my practice as close to paperless as I can. Currently, my client health intake forms are the only paper I keep on hand. Progress/SOAP notes and other documentation is electronic instead.

I think those are the biggest things I’m doing to be green right now. Of course I do the usual things too, like turning off the lights whenever the room isn’t in use. Also, my room is in the new section of Heartwood, so the HVAC is very efficient, but I can’t really take credit for that.

Laundry Bragging

I finally succumbed to the cold that’s been going around this winter. I’m basically not up for anything more strenuous than resting on the couch drinking tea and watching my old Simpson’s DVDs. Rather than just completely miss a week of blogging, I figured I’d talk about the scourge of the massage profession- laundry.

Mostly I intend to brag about how much laundry I can carry in a giant backpack between the dry cleaners and my office. My current record: 18 lbs. They don’t know me on sight at the cleaners yet, but as soon as I mention that backpack they remember me. I should probably give them a shout: Soapie’s on Dempster. They have the best customer service I’ve ever encountered, and the bulk laundry always comes back great.

Not having a car requires being creative with the laundry. I’m pretty happy with the current system (I make mental comparisons to Cheryl Strayed as I walk that mile between the cleaners and my office), though I might look into someplace that picks up and delivers. At least I’m losing the knack of folding fitted sheets either way!

Now I’d better get back on that couch so I can get back to generating dirty laundry. The circle of life!