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Rubbed the wrong way

No humor
I have to admit that I was very dismayed by today’s commentary by comedian Jim Gaffigan on CBS Sunday Morning. I understand that the segment was meant to be humorous, but to call massage therapists murderers is highly offensive. Yes, I read the comments on the CBS website and I know that some people think we are getting “bent out of shape” about something that is supposed to be funny, but as a licensed massage therapist, I am saddened by this commentary that disparages an entire profession.

Yes, our clients do make themselves vulnerable. But as professionals, massage therapists go to great lengths to properly drape clients and make them less anxious. And we don’t all listen to the “Avatar” soundtrack. I have one client who absolutely loves country music. It may not be my preference, but I’ve taken the time to get to know my clients, and this particular client gets country music each session!

Massages aren’t “decadent” and most aren’t expensive. I’d also like to point out that people have been practicing massage for centuries. Historical records teach us that the first written mention of massage occurred about 2000 BC. The Chinese were some of the first proponents of this healing art. There are also ancient written references to massage by the Egyptians, Persians, and Japanese. Even good ol’ Hippocrates, the father of medicine, described the healthy benefits of massage.

So, Jim Gaffigan, I invite you to widen your horizons and get a professional massage!

To find out if massage is for you, please feel free to contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

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A week of celebration

nurses week 2017 logo

National Nurses Week 2017 logo developed by ANA

This past week I was privileged to participate in the 2017 National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week at Union Hospital Terre Haute and Clinton, Indiana. I provided chair massages to many deserving employees of these facilities. This is the third year that I was honored to work with these dedicated professionals. It was great to be able to provide a little attention to all these people who offer so much compassion and care to others.

If you would like more information or to book a chair massage event, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.

A natural fit

hand and foot

Attribution: creative commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/sellyourseoul/

I remember when I first started school to become a massage therapist how in awe I was at the myriad ways my hands could be used as tools. I was also amazed at how not only my hands, but my forearms, elbows, and fingers (as well as a knee once in a while) could be used to massage a client.

As I gained more practical experience in massage, I began to see how natural massage was. It seemed to me that parts of our body just “fit” with other body parts. For example, make a fist with your hand and glide it down the sole of your foot. There’s a natural fit there. If you put your hands side-by-side with the palms down and with one thumb overlapping the other thumb you get a perfect fit over someone’s calf muscle. A loose fist naturally glides down the side of one’s neck to the tip of the shoulder.

There’s a reason massage has been around for centuries. It works! Will it solve every physical or mental issue? Absolutely not! But massage can be a natural fit for many people. If you would like to see if massage is a natural fit for you, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Just relax!

Hand massage

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

I do many chair massages over the course of a week in medical and office settings. It always amazes me how many people don’t realize how tense they are. But then I stop and think. Tenseness and stress are the norm for the majority of us.

When someone is receiving a massage in my chair and I ask her to relax her arm you’d think I’d asked her to move a mountain! For many of us, it’s hard work to relax! And no wonder. Family schedules, work schedules, and the constant contact we have with the world through social media are enough to overwhelm anyone.

This is why I find doing chair massages so rewarding. For 10 to 12 minutes a person receiving a chair massage can actually feel sore, tense muscles release. In most cases I can see a physical change in my client’s body and face pre- and post-massage. And it’s great when I can help a person relax his shoulders down and away from his ears!

Yes, check it out yourself. Take a deep breath and exhale, and while exhaling lower your chin to your chest. I bet you didn’t realize how tight you’ve been holding your shoulders! This can be caused by a variety of stressors, but sitting at a desk behind a computer really does take a toll on one’s health.

If you would like a chair or table massage, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thinking in patterns

sheet-music

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com

I enjoy solving Sudoku puzzles — the easy ones and a few medium ones! I’m not very fast, and it took me a very long time to figure out the vertical and horizontal patterns of numbers. My brain just doesn’t work that well with numbers or patterns. There’s nothing wrong with this. My strengths appear in other areas.

One day as I was working a puzzle I thought about Temple Grandin’s book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. In this work, Dr. Grandin adds thinking in patterns as the third category to how people think. The other two categories are thinking in pictures and thinking in words. Some of our best pattern thinkers are mathematicians, musicians, and artists.

She writes, “The composers, of course, don’t think of their compositions in [mathematical] terms. They’re not thinking about math. They’re thinking about music. But somehow, they are working their way toward a pattern that is mathematically sound, which is another way of saying that it’s universal.”

She continues, “Mathematicians distinguish subsets of thinkers: algebra thinkers and geometry thinkers. Algebra thinkers look at the world in terms of numbers and variables. Geometry thinkers look at the world in terms of shapes.”

Well, when I was taking those classes I wasn’t thinking much about either one! And that is my point — just because I struggled thinking in those terms I still persevered and discovered a path in life that was right for me. The same is true for everyone, including children with autism. There is a place for each of us. Sometimes it just takes some of us longer to find that path. We need to know how we think and embrace the way we think. The world needs all kinds of thinkers.

If you would like to talk with me about touch therapy for your child with autism, please contact me at 812-264-5482 or caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.

Helping a mother

louisa_may_alcott

Louisa May Alcott (Attribution: Public domain)

Imagine my surprise when I recently was reading about Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, and the topic of massage was broached. I had to do a double take as I was reading American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. Yes, when Louisa’s mother was very ill, massage was used. Cheever writes: “Her mother was sliding into [illness], and Louisa took care of her and hired a woman to bathe and give her massages.”

Wow! This was in the 1860s. Yes, massage has always had a positive effect in lessening depression, improving sleep, easing aches and pains, and helping to promote relaxation.

Abigail May Alcott, the mother of Louisa and wife of Bronson Alcott, was a writer, reformer, and ardent supporter of Bronson, Louisa, and three other daughters. And for fans of Little Women, Abigail is the alter ego for Marmee.

If you would like to schedule a massage for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.

It’s good to re-energize

ruinsRecently I took a little vacation and headed to Vicksburg, Mississippi. I enjoy learning about the Civil War, so while my traveling companions visited the many local shopping venues, I was loving the time alone to wander the National Military Park. I could go at my own pace and read and explore all that I wanted without causing pain for others! I also appreciate cemeteries and was able to visit three, including historic Beulah Cemetery, an African-American final resting place.

One little adventure that all of us enjoyed was our trip to Windsor Ruins outside of Port Gibson, Mississippi. Once a splendid plantation home, built in 1859 in part by enslaved labor, the home survived the Civil War only to be reduced to ashes by a careless smoker in 1890. All that remains today are the magnificent columns and balustrade pictured above. The ruins are now administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

When I returned home and to the massage studio I remember feeling energized. And it hit me — the break from the daily routine of life truly refreshed me. I am so thankful that I had this time away.

If you can’t take a vacation but would still like to re-energize yourself, try a massage. If you would like to schedule a massage for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.

Saying goodbye to a friend

cardinal

Attribution: By Shenandoah National Park from Virginia

This week I said a final farewell to one of my long-time Comfort Keeper clients. It was so difficult to say goodbye to Jane. The selfish part of me wanted her to stay with us, but the more compassionate side of me knew the spiritual world was waiting for her.

When I first met Jane more than three years ago, I was providing assistance to her husband, Harry. I loved the hours that I spent with this family. Sure, my time with them involved hard work, but there was just something so open and inviting about both of them that made me look forward each time I was scheduled to be with them.

Jane was so engaged with the world. She knew what was going on in politics and world and domestic events. And she wasn’t afraid to let her feelings be known, especially when it came to politics!

Her family was her number one priority. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren meant the world to her. She often told stories about all of them, but most especially her children. It seems to me that when her children were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Jane’s home was the gathering place for all the young people. I certainly know why! Jane always kept an immaculate home, there was good food to be shared, and anyone stepping foot in her home immediately felt welcomed.

She had a wonderful sense of humor. Her stories about growing up with her two brothers and the antics of her children would always make me guffaw! But Jane didn’t just talk about herself. She asked questions and showed concern about the lives of others. Jane was well aware that I wanted to be a massage therapist and she often asked how I was doing and what was going on in my life.

Jane’s life was touched by tragedies. One of her children died at a very young age and she was widowed twice prior to her marriage to Harry. But Jane made it through these sorrowful times, and it seems to me that she emerged with a faith that was built on a firm foundation. Through these heartbreaks and probably many more that I never knew about, Jane persevered. She was kind, compassionate, and open of mind and heart. She truly was a beautiful person.

Cardinals were a favorite bird of Jane’s. She once told me that when a cardinal visits your yard it’s a visitor from heaven. In the future whenever I see a cardinal I will think of Jane — my dear friend.

Touch: fundamental to health

churchill

This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. This is photograph HU 90973 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

On Sunday evening, September 11, I watched Churchill’s Secret on PBS station WTIU. For those unfamiliar with this drama, it is based on the 2015 novel, The Churchill Secret: KBO by Jonathan Smith. (KBO refers to one of Winston Churchill’s pieces of advice to “keep buggering on.”) The book and drama share the story about a debilitating stroke Prime Minister Churchill suffered in 1952 at the age of 78. Churchill’s condition was kept secret from the world as he rehabilitated in the family’s country home, Chartwell, southeast of London.

Millie Appleyard was a nurse who was called to care for the convalescing prime minister. Millie is a fictional character in Smith’s book and the drama. Obviously, Churchill would have had nurses attending to him, but the writer decided to use this character to tell that part of the story. One scene with Churchill, Millie, and Churchill’s wife Clementine particularly spoke to me. Churchill had suffered partial paralysis on his left side. Millie was stroking Churchill’s left hand and Clementine asked why she was doing that. Millie replied that his muscles needed to be worked so that if and when he was no longer paralyzed his muscles wouldn’t have atrophied or grown even weaker. And then she said something that I truly believe. Millie said that above all else, touch was so important to the patient.

According to Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, touch is vitally important. He writes, “In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.”

If you would like to schedule a massage for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, please contact me by calling 812-264-5482 or emailing caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Mowing with a finicky wheel

lawn mower

The new mower with all wheels attached

Sixteen years ago my Dad bought me a new push lawn mower when I bought my home. I loved that lawn mower! My Dad and I kept it in tip-top running shape. However after 15 summers the mower’s life was rapidly approaching its end. The right side of the handle that attached to the housing of the mower had been bolted on so many times that the last summer I used it the handle was precariously hanging on. The back left wheel had to be replaced twice and the replacements were finicky. Other annoying things were happening with the motor. Whenever I came to the end of a swath of lawn I had to tenderly turn the mower around or the handle would come off. If I didn’t pay attention to rough spots in the yard the left rear wheel would seize up. Mowing my yard became a real chore. I really had to think when I was mowing! It was so frustrating and exhausting.

I share this illustration because many of our children with autism have to think very hard about daily movements and activities. The professional term for this is proprioceptive disorder. Proprioception is one’s awareness of her/his body and/or movements in space. In other words, proprioception — when it works correctly — tells us how much force is needed to lift a glass of water to our lips or it helps us to smoothly transition from one step to another on a staircase. Proprioception allows our muscles, joints, connective tissue, and tendons to respond correctly to input received from our senses. Many of us take this for granted. However, from the lawn mower illustration above, one can only imagine how frustrating and embarrassing it must be for a child with this disorder to write a sentence, tie shoes, put on a shirt, and so on. How tiring this would be!

Touch therapy may be one way to assist a child with proprioceptive disorder. If you would like to talk with me about touch therapy for your child with autism, please contact me at 812-264-5482 or caringtouchmassage@yahoo.com.