Massage Tales, Thoughts on the profession

Find the Sweetness

I really really didn’t want to do that massage.

 

One client* booked, right at the end of the day.  At the time, I was working for someone else, so rescheduling was not an option.  And this name on my schedule — I knew this name.  I had seen this name before.

A few months before, I saw that name on my schedule, arrived on time for the massage, and waited until 20 minutes after the appointment time.  The dreaded no-call, no-show.  I lost a couple of hours of my time and got no compensation.  (The downside of being an independent contractor.)

The day of the massage I didn’t want to do, just one client booked, and it was *that* client.  The no-call, no-show client.  I balked forcefully, and the business owner guaranteed I would be paid no matter what.  (In writing, I made sure.)  I arrived at the office to wait for the appointment.

Before I got to the office, though, I made a bet with a friend.  If the client showed, I paid him a quarter.  If the client didn’t show, he paid me a quarter.

I got to the office and waited.

And waited.

10 minutes after the appointment start time, the client arrived.  “Is this <business name>?” I sighed inwardly, said “Yes,” and started my intake interview.

The client seemed too young to have “pain all over” for no reason.  I asked about diagnosis, and she said it was something “they were trying to figure out.”  I asked, “How do you want to feel when you leave today?”  She said, “I just want to feel, you know, normal for a minute.”  Her lips pressed together tightly and her eyes trembled at the corners as she looked at me.

I started her massage and the past dropped away.  She was not a no-calling, no-showing, waster-of-my-time.  She was, is, a human being who just wants to find some peace in her body, mind and spirit.  She was, is, a fellow traveler through this life who just wants to be free from suffering.  I spent the time left in her hour with the intention of gently soothing and loving this person in this present moment.

After the massage, she came out of the room smiling.  She said little, smiled at me.  Where before the massage I felt a tightness in her aspect, now I felt flooded with sweetness.  She said, “Thank you.  I needed that.”

women s white long sleeved top
Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

Later that night, I caught up with my friend, the friend I made the bet with.  I gave him a quarter, happily and with utter contentment.

 

*–this client is a composite, based on several different experiences.  Any resemblance to an actual individual human is purely coincidental.  The lesson, however, is true.

 

massage education, Thoughts on the profession

Job Description

The question that often follows “How long have you been doing this?” is: “How do you like this work?”  The answer is pretty easy.  I love it.

I’ve tried several other careers and even done well in a few, yet none of them held my heart and my interest like massage therapy.  This particular work is, for me, a fantastic blend of several different jobs.  I am a massage therapist, which means I am:

A Scientist

It started in school where I did a deep dive into the anatomy of the muscular system, and started on the path to learn more about Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology.  It continues now as I try to connect everything I do with some understanding of the working of the human body, and with information from the latest research I have been reading.  It is my job to be curious, to ask questions and to continue learning and discovering.

A Tradesperson

I learned a skill that I perform with my hands.  After my period of learning and apprenticeship (at the student clinic) I started practicing this skill and I work every day to further perfect and advance my skills.  I have apprentices (students) of my own now, and as I am guiding them through how to work with their hands, I am finding better ways to work with my own.

An Educator

Given the chance and the interest, I will talk to every client about what I notice and what that could mean for their particular body.  I will also take the time to talk through what massage might be able to address and what might need a different kind of support.

A Student

As I said to a client this week, I may be the “expert” in the room on muscles and soft tissue, but each client is the expert on their body.  I am here to learn from them.

An Artist
person with body painting
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Every human, every human body, is unique.  Every day and space that body moves in is unique, so every time a person walks into my office it is the time to create something that never existed before.  Massage does not, for me, happen by formula.  It happens by being completely present in the moment so I can make something new that will never happen the same way again.

I have the opportunity to be all of these things, and sometimes more besides.  This week some asked me, “Have you always been a massage therapist?”  I’ve had lots of occupations, and this is the one that lasts because it pulls in all of those jobs.  It asks the most of myself and give the greatest rewards.

Massage Tales, Modalities, Thoughts on the profession

Tired Hands

I arrived at my friend’s house after a full day of clients.  As I made the short drive from my office, I felt my hands grow more and more heavy on the steering wheel.  I felt the muscles in my forearms tingle with weakness and the tips of my fingers throbbed as if they were bruised.

  “Please,” I said, when I walked in the door, “could you just massage my hands for a minute?”

The day that led to that state of manual exhaustion (pun intended) was the kind of day I consciously tried to build my career to avoid.  A one-after-the-other stack of new clients unlikely to schedule repeat visits.  Lovely human beings who were perfectly healthy and who only got massages when someone else bought them a gift certificate, or when they were on vacation at a warm, tropical resort.  Deep in the muscles of my hands and arms, I felt the weariness of spending hours doing the kind of work I did not want.  My hands were tired, and I could not imagine massaging another human that day.

I suppose if I were a better businesslady, I could have found and mustered a way to talk to each of these people about the way I work (not aggressively), about the value of regular massage for all people, and about building a relationship with one massage therapist over time.  I suppose if I were more focused on filling my practice, I could have done all those things the brilliant people at Massage Business Blueprint suggest you do to retain clients.

Maybe I am fundamentally, constitutionally, and semi-aggressively a slacker when it comes to standard business building.  I would rather live simpler and with fewer new things so that I can have time and leisure to walk in the woods, or sit and write, or sit and think about writing.  I would rather end the day with calm, relaxed hands.  The better to capture ideas with, my dear.

As my friend massaged my hands, I felt the weariness drain out like water.  In its place, surrounding every filament, fiber and fascicle, I felt a sparkling readiness.  Rest would come soon, and when it did come, it would be deep and restorative.  It wasn’t the work that made me weary, it was the chaos.  I have dropped my marketing efforts and forgotten the niche I identified for myself.  Time to sit quietly again, and  put the business where my heart is.

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