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!

Remember the Rest

Part of my re-branding effort involves listing Holistic Sports Massage as one of my specialties.  It’s going to be one of my three major areas of focus, along with MLD and Oncology Massage. I’d like to share why I include “Holistic” in the title, because I think it’s an important characterization of my massages.

One of the most common issues massage therapists see among our clients are tension and pain in the shoulders and neck. The most typical presentation I see is that clients talk about pain between their shoulder blades along with tension in the upper back and neck. Their shoulders are almost all elevated and medially rotated. The majority of massage therapists know to address the trapezius, rhomboids (major and minor), and pec major. Which is fine, all of those muscles are involved in this pattern.

Holistic Sports Massage: Seeing the forest and the trees
Holistic Sports Massage: Seeing the forest and the trees

But there are other muscles that many therapists either overlook or don’t allow enough time to address, including: latissimus dorsi, trees major, subscapularis, levator scapulae, serratus anterior, SCM, and the anterior fibers of the deltoid.

That’s only addressing the shoulder and neck pain. What’s happening to the rest of the body? I can pretty much guarantee that there will be more muscle tension patterns in other parts of the rest of a person’s body, and they will be different for each client.

Sometimes I feel that we massage therapists still think two dimensionally  when it comes to our clients: back of the body, front of the body. We forget about the sides of the body (or maybe we just don’t have time to address it), and that everything in our bodies is connected through fascia. Nothing is happening in a vacuum. I get better results when I work with the body as a whole, rather than dividing it into areas to either “fix” or ignore.

I see massage as a conduit for helping us to optimize our innate ability to heal ourselves. My client’s mind can relax during the session, but their body is working in concert with me as we go. I don’t see my clients as passive recipients of my work, we are a team. By addressing the whole person, I can help a client release tension and pain in their shoulder. I can also help them to sleep better, or decrease their tendency to over-think. I can do this all in the same session. That, to me, is Holistic Sports Massage.


Friday Bonus Post!

Just a quick reminder that there are still tickets available to the Heartwood Foundation Benefit tomorrow night. I’m giving a $10.00 discount on massage or MLD to anyone who goes. Plus, I made some dessert!

Raw mango tart with fresh organic strawberries

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.

Party for a Cause!

As some of you already know, the Heartwood Foundation’s Women & Cancer Program is a cause very dear to my heart. It’s the program that made me first consider joining Heartwood Center in the first place (best decision ever, FYI). Heartwood Foundation provides free services and classes to low-income women all over the Chicago-land area.

Funding for programs like this is getting harder and harder to come by. And they are so important, because everyone deserves to have access to complementary medical care during cancer treatment.

The good news is: you can help support Heartwood Foundation and have a great time doing it! On May 3rd, 2014 Heartwood Foundation is having their annual benefit at the Heartwood Center. Tickets are $50.00 and you can buy them here, at the door, from the Heartwood Center office, or even from me. As an added bonus, I’m planning to make my (in)famous raw fruit tartlets to serve.

And if that isn’t bonus enough: I am giving anyone who buys a ticket $10.00 off any massage or MLD session with me. Just take a picture of your ticket and/or come say hi to me at the benefit. I’ll be the one having lots of fun while dancing very poorly.

I hope to see some of you there!


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!

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.

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!