The speech I gave where I revealed my secret massage agenda

Thanks for coming out tonight! I appreciate your patience with my public speaking, as somebody who spends her workday in a quiet room with one person at a time, I'm a little out of my normal state here. I'm excited to introduce my work and I'm even more excited to answer any questions after I'm done.

 

I've been doing massage professionally for 13 years, and I've been a birth doula for 10. Most of the clients I see are experiencing something new or alarming in their health. You wake up and your neck doesn't turn as much as it should, or you have a difficult month and develop a headache that doesn't go away, or some tingling in your hands. Maybe you are pregnant and somewhere in your 5th month, you and your low back are no longer on speaking terms. Massage is super-helpful with all of these problems.

 

Massage can be stressful. It can be healing when you have pain, anxiety, tension, but it usually involves going to a stranger, who may or may not be able to help you, who you may or may not feel comfortable with, and then you get undressed and they touch you. A good massage can feel like a miracle, and a bad one can feel like paying $90 to feel uncomfortable for an hour. 

 

My first massage was both helpful and super-stressful. I thought I was being considerate and groovy and urban in some way by acting like I knew what was happening and not needing anything from the massage therapist, but actually I was just cold and awkward and anxious. After my massage, some of my muscles had relaxed enough that I felt like a bad-ass athlete biking through town later that night. Moving felt easier, and my mind was clearer, but it wasn't one of those healing-miracle hours. 

 

Some clients come in very familiar with massage, knowing what they want and talking to me about it in specific knowledgeable terms, but what I really like to do is give people a great first massage, teaching them what they can expect from me and how massage should feel and what it can do. I love telling people that massage shouldn't hurt, and that I have a lot of different techniques that I can use to accomplish basically the same thing, so if my technique feels annoying or irrelevant, just let me know you'd like me to switch it up. I love sharing my terrible crayon-drawn pictures of draped for massage on my website, so clients know how they'll be covered during their massage.

 

All of us massage therapists are required to do continuing education, so by the time someone is a few years out of school, we all have a lot of different techniques that we can use. Some people get really into one type of massage or energy work, but I've chosen to mix it up so that I can work with a wider variety of clients with different needs. It's important to me to be fully trained to work with my clients through pregnancy and postpartum, or to be able to do orthopedic work with clients who only feel comfortable fully dressed. 

 

Some clients have a lot of anxiety about getting massage because of their size or gender or some other aspect of themselves that they worry I'll judge them for. A lot of men think their feet are ugly, but in 14 years of doing massage with a very diverse client base, I have never seen ugly on a table in any person, except for the one time early in my career a client tried to bully me. Some clients are afraid of breaking my table or being too big for it, and I love that it is engineered to hold 1000 lbs. 

 

Every day I go to work I have my regular agenda and my secret agenda. 

 

MY NOT-SECRET AGENDA

To use massage technique that is evidence-based and kind to help people with their pain that is caused by chronic tension or postural imbalance and give them information and support that is appropriate to their lives at any life stage or state of health where massage can benefit them.

 

MY SECRET AGENDA

To help my clients whose bodies have not been safe or comfortable places find their way home, in a slow, safe way that they are 100% in control of. To help my clients practice experiencing touch that feels good and learn language skills for communicating about touch. I do this in the context of evidence-based, orthopedically-educated massage that respects the mystery and miraculousness of healing. I truly believe this is world-changing.

Problems I Can Probably Help You With (A short list based on questions I get a lot)

  •  I woke up and I can't turn my head. I think maybe I slept funny?
  • I'm pregnant and my back is getting really uncomfortable.
  • My hands are starting to hurt/tingle/feel tired at the end of a day. I'm worried I'm getting Carpal Tunnel.
  • I just started CrossFit/Yoga/Rock Climbing/Glass-Blowing/something else strenuous and I hurt all over.
  • I shoveled over 100 inches of snow out of my driveway and my back or neck or arms really hurt now!
  • My jaw clicks/pops/feels stuck. I can't eat chewy bagels.
  • This point behind my right eye starts hurting just about every day.
  • I think the tension I'm carrying in my shoulders makes my migraines worse.
  • I'm having a lot of stress and it's all landing in my shoulders.
  • My knees hurt when I run.

The Birth Partner Toolkit w/Julia Blencowe! Now you can register!

Do you want to learn to be even more excellent to your pregnant partner? Come and learn:

  • Some basic but awesome massage techniques for common pregnancy woes and for active labor
  • Comfort measures for labor (use them at the hospital or at home!)
  • Positions for labor and birth
  • Self-care for partners

I'm excited to be teaching this class with Julia Blencowe, a birth and postpartum doula in the community who has been providing emotional support to families around their healthcare choices since 2010. She became a doula in 2014 and focusses on helping families stay emotionally and physically healthy during labor, birth and the entire perinatal period.

 

Where: Cambridge Health Associates, 335 Broadway in Cambridge, MA

When: August 15th 10:00am-12:30

How much: $85 per couple

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED FOR THIS CLASS

New Class coming in August!

THE BIRTH PARTNER TOOLKIT with Julia Blencowe COMING IN AUGUST

Do you want to learn to be even more excellent to your pregnant partner? In this class we'll learn and practice basic "bread-and-butter" massage skills and some excellent comfort measures to use during labor. We're still figuring out what we'll be teaching, how you can register and what the flyer will look like, but the class will definitely be August 15th, so save the date if you're interested!

Information for Massage On Snow Days

Hello Readers!

I hope you are weathering the snow and the cold and the narrow sidewalks and the endless digging. I know that trying to have a schedule-as-usual with the arctic vortexing around us is difficult, so I wanted to let you know how I plan to work with big snowstorms for as long as they keep happening this winter.

If You Have A Massage Scheduled On A Big Snow Day:

If you have a massage scheduled on a day that the weather forecast worries you, it's easy to cancel your massage online with no problem 24 hours before your appointment. In citywide-shutdown conditions (when they close the T and the government tells us all to really stay home), I will shut down too. For snow days when the T is still running, I plan to be at the office. If you don't cancel your appointment and  conditions are worse than you thought and you can't make it in safely, I can reschedule your appointments more last-minute for severe weather. Just call me at 617-797-6995 or email abi@abiharper.com as soon as you know you can't make it, and we'll find a different day for you when travel is safer. 

If You Live Close By And Want A Massage On A Snow Day:

For clients who are happy to be out on foot (or snowshoes or dogsled), I'm starting a snow-day massage standby list. Maybe you'd like some ease and relaxation and stretch for your shoveling muscles or your snowbank-vaulting muscles, or your falling-down muscles? I expect cancellations today (Monday) and if you'd like to be contacted for a last-minute massage appointment, please email abi@abiharper.com with your email address or phone (whichever you think you're more likely to notice quickly) and what kind of times you might be interested in. I'll contact people in order of response and whoever confirms first gets the appointment!

Be well, stay warm, and lift with your legs.

Gift Certificates are 15% off with discount code SUNSETISLATER

Hi readers! Here it is, my once a year massage discount. Get it while the gift certificates are hot off the press!

Looking for a last-minute gift that says "I care about your health and well-being this holiday season"? Give someone you love the gift of therapeutic massage! You'll get 15% off all gift certificates  purchased between now and December 24th 2014. Massage makes a great local-economy-supporting, artisan-supplied, fairly-produced and environmentally-sound gift that takes up almost no physical space in someone's home. The discount code is SUNSETISLATER because I'm just so excited to not be lighting candles in my office to cast out the gloom at 3:30 anymore.

Alternately, maybe your loved ones need a hint about what gift to give you for the holidays? You can forward this to them to let them know that massage gift certificates would make you really happy. It's an easy and thoughtful way for them to show you that they care, and I'm happy to include personal messages (include them in the "note" field as you're checking out and I'll use my best handwriting) and mail them directly to the recipient in an attractive blue envelope.

One last thing, it is completely legit to buy yourself a bunch of gift certificates at this more discount rate and use them through the year. Every year there's a handful of people who do this to make massage more affordable, and I'm so happy I can offer this once a year.

Click here to go to the gift certificate store.

One fine-print note: This offer can't be combined with any other discounts.

 

Free Resource: My favorite free guided meditation files online

I recommended using guided relaxation meditations for clients who have a hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep, or to have something to counter stress for people who don't have time to go to a yoga class or make time to exercise. A guided meditation is something you can do right now! Many are under 10 minutes! You can just put it on and play along if it feels good to do, and then it's over and you're done and maybe you feel a little more manageable, or more ready to fall asleep. Here are some of my favorites:

 

The MIT Center for Health & Wellness has produced a whole bunch. Some files are just relaxing music, some lead you through a visualization for performance or relaxation, some are gentle yoga or breathing instructions.

http://medweb.mit.edu/wellness/resources/downloads.html