Tag Archives: massage

Where In The World?

I know I’ve been MIA. Radio Silent. Covert Ops. On the DL.

Busy.

And I’m still busy. So this will be brief.

I’m opening a business. A massage clinic to be exact. I’ve never been prouder of any professional accomplishment in my life, and it isn’t even open yet. I eat almost every daytime meal while driving, and am so busy that I have to put things in my calendar like, “pick up the children”, but I’m close to reaching this pretty exciting goal. And like most achievements, I’ve been helped along the way. So this is my Oscar speech.

Thanks to Laura Danker for meeting with me early on, and guiding me towards the right business structure. Thanks to Adam Schwartz for urging me to Keep. It. Simple. To Rob Ferrier for referring me to a lawyer, and to Chrissy for referring me to another lawyer. To the guy from Century Link for waiving all those charges, and to Ann at the City for pushing my paperwork through. Thanks to the guy at the bank that told me I needed an EIN. Thanks to Becca for being a wonderful sounding board during a confusing time in my life. Thanks to Dennis Pepe, Sandy Anderson, and Christopher Yellen for sharing a bit of their own business experience with me. Thanks to Greg B. for the heads up regarding what to expect from the inspection (and for being surprisingly accessible), and to my personal “investigator” with the city, who is going to also become a client. Thanks to the 27 people that I spoke to at the Arizona Corporations Commission, all who helped me with my LLC drama. To my landlords for being so freaking cool and easy going, and for not making fun of my measuring tape. Thanks to my close friends for checking in with me on a regular basis and letting me blab. Thanks to my husband for agonizing over the lease, day after day, night after night, and for attempting to obtain his law degree in like, one week and on top of it all making everything pretty and for dealing with all my freak outs and emotions. Thanks to Lynda Skinner for, well, for being Lynda Skinner and asking me, “what can I do to help you, what do you need?” and to Joseph Lauricella, who always and forever has by back and calls me on my crap, just a like a brother should. Thank you to the girl at TJ Max that saved me $30. Seriously. That was cool. Thanks a million trillion to Jody, Marji and Joseph for writing me the most beautiful letters of recommendation that I’ve ever read, even though they are the busiest people that I know, and for doing it TWICE in a very short time frame. Thanks to Edie for making my props and BEING my prop, and to Deb Kortyna for hooking me up with her Insurance guy/husband. Thanks to my leasing agent for teaching me….well…a lot of things that I will tuck away for another day. Thanks for Beverly Giroud for telling me years ago that I have the ability to succeed on my own and for letting me use her space when I desperately needed too, and to Jennifer Moulton for the microwave and friendship. Thanks to Dave G. for the most beautiful and meaningful piece of furniture for the clinic, and to his beautiful wife for the Obi’s. Thanks to Cori for offering us her support and expertise, and for being understanding when we chose a different path. Thanks to Allissa Haines for sharing her easy going business model with me, and for unknowingly giving me some advice that made me go it solo. Thanks to all of my clients that have been bounced around between treatment spaces this past year, and for tolerating it all with patience and genuine well wishes. Thanks to Jill Dolan for ALLLLLL the advice that John and I so desperately needed, both legal and personal. Thank you to John W. for telling me I could and should do this when a lot of people were telling me I shouldn’t. Thanks to Clau for the filing cabinets. Thanks to all the people that are coming to my put it together party, and to the three therapists that are taking this leap with me right out of the gate. And thanks to my Mom and Step Dad for believing in me so much that they have helped me get this off the ground with a loan that I can’t wait to pay back.

And that’s all before the doors even open.

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Filed under All of them.

Mad Skillz.

You know what my husband is really good at? (Don’t be a perv.) I mean, like, he really excels at this. (Seriously, stop being a perv.) He’s really good at falling asleep. He’s like a high-functioning narcoleptic. Within mere seconds of turning out his light, the man is snoring. Now, me? I have to take a pill, wait an hour (during which time I read until my eyelids become heavy), then turn off the light and lay there. And lay there. And lay there. And I think about all of the things that I should have done, need to do, could have done better, things I said, things I shouldn’t have said, things I should have said better—and then I worry about not being able to fall asleep. And eventually, sleep comes.

Some people can just, like, do things. I have a friend from high school who literally decided to become a sculptor and became one. And he’s no chump sculptor—he’s extremely good. Guitar? No problem. He just went out, bought a guitar and taught himself. I went out and bought a guitar (purple, electric, in honor of Prince), and while I can play Horse With No Name like a motherfucker, I gave it up, because it hurt my finger pads.

I don’t like things that hurt.

My mother is extremely skilled at not trusting the post office. This is one of those things that, over the years, she has perfected, and really honed her skills at. At first, she would mail something and just trust that it would arrive. And then . . . I’m not sure, but I have to assume that one day that thing that was supposed to arrive never did. And now she has PTSD. Over the years, it has morphed from casual calls (“Honey, I sent you something today. Next time we talk, will you let me know if you got it?”) to an extreme tactical operation (“I am sending you a package. I will let you know when it is on its way. The minute it arrives, please release the flock of messenger pigeons that will confirm its arrival, text me, call me, and also send a vial of your blood so that I know it’s really you. Make sure you send it FedEx.”). She’s amazing at a lot of other things, too. Like suddenly she’s a watercolor artist—and she’s becoming too good for us, she’s so talented! But this post office thing? She’s wicked good at that.

Then there’s Rowan. He can spell better than a Harvard graduate. He’s all over it. No word is too hard. He’s also really good at protecting the “girls’ area” in the playground at his school from the boys during recess. (Never mind that he himself is a boy, and so by all rights should also be excluded from the girls’ area.) I can see why he relishes that role. He gets to be near a crowd of girls and allow them their space while at the same time being a part of it. Genius. Oh, and he gets to act like a dragon while he’s doing it, so it’s a win-win.

Luca is really good at talking about poop.

Then, alas, there is me. I’ve spent the last year searching for that thing that I can be really good at. It’s been a year of learning and trying a completely new role professionally, and for most of it, it’s been, er . . . really uncomfortable (Oh! And super fun!). Recently, when a friend asked how I was, I replied, ominously, “different.”  And it’s the truest response that I could have given at the time. For the last five months, I have been working full time at a place I love, with people I care about, doing work that has been challenging, but . . . not me. And while I have been hyper-aware of it not being me, I have been judging myself and trying to make it work, trying to adapt. I’ve been waiting to get used to a 50-hour-a-week office job, used to computer work and to doing things that I simply don’t know how to do. And while I am trying to make that work, I’ve been wondering, what is wrong with me that this is so hard? Why can’t I adapt? Why can’t I become this other person? Why can’t I manage stress better? When all along, I should have been asking myself, what is it about me that makes me unable to accept who I am?

Sure, I’m sensitive. I move slowly and need time to process things. I don’t like stress. And yes, I’m not a traditional person that is comfortable with a more traditional profession. I want to connect, and take time with people. I want to engage and offer people a different way of being in the world. I’m comfortable with that. I’m good at that. It’s important to me that the time I spend away from my family is of equal value to the time I spend with my family. And then, with the force of the proverbial smack on the forehead, I realized (yeah, yeah, I’m slow) that I’ve had it all along. That the career I thought I should leave was the career that was a perfect fit for me.

Dear SIPNEL.

So, now, I surrender. I know who I am. I know what I love and value. I know what I’m good at. I know that, no matter what, at the end of the day, I want to feel satisfied, and I want to feel peaceful. It doesn’t matter what other people want me to be, or what I assume other people value and expect of me. None of that matters. None of that should lead me. And truly, genuinely, I know that I can do anything. I just choose to return to my life as a massage therapist, a mother, a writer, a friend, and a colleague.

I just hope you’ll have me.

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Filed under Confessions.

I Hate Cancer.

I hate cancer. I hate it so hard that it’s hard to even quantify. I’ll go with the measurement that my five-and-a-half-year-old uses and say that I hate it googol.

For those of you new to my blog, I should tell you that I am a massage therapist. It has been my career for over 12 years, and it is, I suppose, one of my life’s great purposes. I love it. In fact, I love it googol. Some of my clients I see once, and never again (although those are few), others I see on and off for a few years, and then things happen and they move on. Then there are the ones who have been with me for either the entire length of my career, or long enough that it seems like it.

Some of these clients have always maintained a distance with me—one that is not uncomfortable or strange, it just is. And that’s alright. Some began that way, and over time our relationship has changed, bringing a certain level of familiarity that is mostly found in long-term-acquaintance relationships. And then there are the relationships that transcend all of those and become, well, like family. Healthy family, that is.

Nine years ago a woman was referred to me by a regular client. She came into our office with a large bandage on her arm, and with an air of vulnerability that I’ve rarely seen since. She was dealing with one of her worst nightmares: a melanoma had recently been removed from her arm. Sure, there isn’t a single person in the world who doesn’t consider cancer to be terrible, but I have found that there are people in the world who dread what they believe to be the inevitability of the occurrence of cancer in their own physical lives. This client was one of those people. And in this particular treatment, our first, she was quiet and just wanted to get some relief from pain related to stress. I treated her, and she rebooked before she left that night. She has come regularly ever since.

She’s a  fiery broad, with strong convictions, and a wit and intelligence that I have always admired. She loves her cats like I love my kids and I dare you to challenge her over the depth of her love for them. For nine years, she has never simply called me “Sarah,” but always “Sarah, dear,” each and every time we speak. Over the years I have worried on and off about her, simply because she has chosen to live her life alone. Never married, no children, and just a small circle of close friends. She has been content, and mostly it’s been a nice life. She is a smart, accomplished woman, and although she is approaching 70 years of age, she has felt tethered to her professional career and had not until recently, considered retirement.

She is a client who talks. Now, there are therapists out there (and clients too) who frown upon this, but I have always felt, with this particular client, that it is a need as strong as that for relief from physical pain. And to be honest, I have enjoyed it. At times I have had to put a stop to political conversation, not because we differ, but because her passion sort of takes over her body, and at a certain point, it becomes obvious that her passion will win.

I found out by e-mail that she has terminal cancer. An e-mail because, well, she wanted to prepare me for her treatment plan of positivity: “I am still quite positive and hope you will be too.” Of course, I said. Of course! It is my way. And I am. Or, at the very, very least, I try to be.

I have grown to love her. She is one of those clients who has become very important to me. It is one of the great challenges of our profession, this balance between the professional relationship and the human experience. In this case, when I see this strong, feisty woman losing her hair and unable to hold a glass of water without spilling it, I feel for my friend, not my client. Where once she could tell me all the news of the week (including book reviews) and her feelings about it, she now can’t remember what she was saying as she is saying it. This of course is because of the other thing I hate: chemo.

The first time I saw her after her diagnosis, I was positive as requested, until I left the room to weep. And today, when she finally succumbed to the overwhelming sense of sadness, fear, anger, and loss of physical autonomy, I cried with my friend, not my client. And because life can sometimes be a total shitstorm of crap, I held her while she wept for another loss—one of her cats—to, of course, cancer. My treatment room has become her safe place to express what makes most people uncomfortable or nervous. I want her to express it because I know what can happen to us when we don’t.  And I mean it when I say to her, “please don’t apologize. You can say anything to me.” I mean it, but it still hurts. This is one thing that I cannot offer her any relief for, and it feels unnatural to me, as I am most comfortable in the role of helper. But it’s the many levels of loss that need to be processed that is overwhelming for both of us, though for her most of all.

This isn’t written in my usual fashion, and although I have the urge to, I will not apologize for the lack of humor in this post. Don’t worry, it will come back. But for now, all I have is this: I really fucking hate cancer.

 

*If you are looking for more from Erica Steinhagen, my guest blogger, she’ll be back soon.

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Filed under Pain, Women and friendship.