What do a mother with cancer, an elderly grandmother, a best friend with fibromyalgia, and lots and lots of kids all have in common?
I graduated from the Institute of Bodywork Studies‘ 500-hour massage therapy program in early 2009, and received my license in March of the same year. Becoming one of a multitude of licensed massage therapists in the State of Texas, I needed to decide how to distinguish myself– where to specialize. In the course of my work as a massage therapist, I have noticed a strong correlation between the clients I tend to gravitate toward (and those who gravitate to me) and my own life experiences:
♥ My mother was diagnosed with late-stage, already-metastasized cancer in mid-2007. “Given” 16 months, she sadly passed away much sooner, remaining with us only until November of the same year. In her memory, as well as the plethora of friends and family members who had, have had, or currently live with cancer, I have chosen to “major” in oncology massage. I attended Tracy Walton’s 32-hour intensive workshop, “Caring for Clients with Cancer” in November of 2014, and that one class has decidedly affirmed and changed the course of my career.
♥ I grew up knowing only one grandparent; indeed, that amazing woman raised me from the time I was thirteen. I shall always owe her a debt of gratitude for all that she poured into me, even through my rebellious youth. When she became ill and no longer able to care for herself, I was determined to find a way to take her in to my home, as she had taken me in during my childhood. I had the unparalleled honor of caring for her throughout her final two years of life, and to walk with her, as far as I was able, as she prepared to step over the threshold of this world and into Eternity. I am always mindful that this population deals not only with the effects of aging, but also the myriads of medications that usually go along with it, and the resulting adjustments that may be required for a safe, comfortable massage session. Every time I massage a member of her generation, I am grateful for the opportunity to “give back” a little.
♥ Being “best friends” with someone with fibromyalgia had its challenges (I say “had” because she passed away a few years ago), as well as its great rewards (she was an awesome friend!). Some days, she was rip-roaring ready to take on the world; other days, she barely had the strength to call me to re-schedule whatever we might have had planned for the day. I soon found myself figuring out ways to adjust her massage sessions for maximum results while not “overspending her spoons”. (Read about The Spoon Theory here.) Here again, mindfulness of adjustments necessary not only because of the condition itself, but also possible medications and other relevant circumstances was crucial to a safe, effective massage.
♥ As the mother of the nine most incredible people in the universe (I might be just a *teeny* bit biased here), along with three I never had the opportunity to meet, I have experienced quite a lot of “what comes with pregnancy”– so jumping right into prenatal massage was the “easy” part. I signed up for a 21-hour certification course in prenatal massage almost the moment my massage license was approved by the state, and I have enjoyed every minute of every prenatal massage I have given ever since! In keeping with the “theme” of working with more medically complex populations, I am on the lookout for ways to expand my knowledge base to include working with high-risk pregnancy– so if you know of any relevant resources, please let me know!
Words cannot express how much I love massaging, nor especially how much I love, love, love working with my “special clients”. Each and every one of my clients is “special”, by the way– even you otherwise-healthy people who come to me just to relax! As I continue along this journey, I pray that I will continue to learn and grow every step of the way, and that I will never, ever lose the wonder and awe that I experience each time I get to “lay hands” on someone and watch the tension, stress, anxiety, and pain fade into oblivion!