Three years ago today, I graduated from massage school and began my journey as a Licensed Massage Therapist. As with the past two years, I wanted to write a column of reflection about what has stood out as particularly memorable from the last year, and what I am committed to and looking forward to in the upcoming year.
This past year has been one of really settling in to my practice and the routines associated with being a sole proprietor. I love being fully on my own and enjoying the freedom that comes with that. I get to make my own schedule and decide how and when I work. As a result, I have seen an increase in my outcall practice (traveling to people’s houses for massage), which I really enjoy. I have started doing massage for Hospice, which has been meaningful beyond words. I have seen steady growth in my clientele, for which I am grateful. I have deepened connections with “long-time” clients, who have been with me since the beginning. I am so appreciative of all aspects of my massage life, it is difficult to pin down a few highlights of a truly memorable year to summarize in a blog post.
In the last year, I have had the opportunity of working with clients in both joyous and tragic times. I’ve massage clients in the days before major surgeries, major life transitions, and even in the days preceding death (with Hospice). I have seen clients in the days following giving birth, death of loved ones, significant losses, and the news of difficult diagnoses. I have massaged clients immediately before and following first marathons and triathlons and exciting trips to far away places. I have done numerous “first” massages for clients, sometimes with people well into their 7th decade of life. I’ve shared laughter and tears and times of great poignancy. It’s difficult to capture in words these experiences, as each one is different and unique. The feeling that lingers and stays with me is the sense of honor and privilege that comes from being a massage therapist. I am deeply touched that people come in at times of such vulnerability and let me share in the events of their lives. I want to express my appreciation to all who have trusted me to share space with you in these significant times. These experiences have brought my massage practice to a whole new level.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when massage became so much more than just a job for me. Of course there are times when I am aware of that aspect, that it is my job, and I start to think of the day as “just another day at the office”. When that happens, or when I find myself feeling some stress about an upcoming client, I have only to think on the afore mentioned times (and countless other examples) I’ve shared with clients to know I am in a very special field with very special clients. I can’t think of another profession where all elements come together like massage. The nature of the business requires intimacy and vulnerability and the desire to go deep (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively). Massage brings two people together in a room, one with specific needs, desires, and concerns, and the other with the intention to meet those needs as effectively as possible. How it all goes after that is often a dance of perception, communication, presence, touch, and a whole host of cues that pass back and forth between client and practitioner. There is no script, no set way the massage time has to go. I have found that massage goes best when I stay tuned in, moment by moment, and allow and encourage my client to do the same.
With that being said, I can easily state my commitment for the upcoming year. It is my promise as your massage therapist to practice with the intention of full presence, keen listening, and respect. What this means to me is that I will be fully tuned into you and your body when you are on my table. I will listen to all you and your body have to tell me and respond accordingly as it seems best in the moment. I will respect your boundaries and limitations, and address your concerns. Together we will discern how to make the massage experience a truly one of a kind experience….healing body and mind, one massage at a time.