Sunday, December 22, 2013

Off-Topic: Cats & Carpets

This morning started much like any other; which it shouldn't, because it's Sunday and I am not a morning person.  Smidget, my older cat, understands this.  There are days I'll get home from work, and I doubt she's even left the bed.  When Nym wakes up, there's no going back.  During the day, you may not pick her up or snuggle her, though she might take a nap on you if you sit still long enough.  In the morning, she's happy to demand your attention and adoration.

This morning dawned at the usual hour.  Instead of a certain kitten pestering for food, she was pawing at the floor, which means she didn't make it to the litterbox.  I was out of bed in a flash.  If you want to discipline the critter effectively, you need to catch them very quickly.  That out of the way, both cats were closed in the bathroom while I dealt with the mess.

That out of the way, I flopped onto the bed next to my husband and bemoaned the ubiquity of wall-to-wall carpet.  Bare floors are just cleaner.  You spill coffee on hardwood or laminate, it's easy to mop up.  Spill it on a rug or runner, mine are thin enough to thoroughly clean (no thick, shaggy material for me, thanks).  Spill on carpet, have fun.  Pet makes a mess on the carpet, best of luck to you.  Growing up in a series of rentals – including one gloriously carpet-less, military-issued apartment – I'm ready for anything.

Real product

After whining about the unfortunate infestation that commonly plagues rentals, I got up to release the beasts and shower myself.  With the last concert of the season at hand, my choir has a busy afternoon ahead of us, and this is the least I can do to assuage some of the problems we'll encounter.  I turned the knob and attempted to push the door open.  A few millimeters' clearance showed me that one of the drawers under the sink was pulled open.  Someone also knocked a couple items off the counter, for added difficulty.

I called for an axe, hammer, and fire.  My husband used the stick end of a cat toy to knock the smaller obstructions out of the way, then bargained for food, coffee, and a trip to True Value.  Seeing as I like all three of those, as well, I accepted.  Fed and caffeinated, we confessed our woes to the guru, and she helped us find the materials we needed for this endeavor.  We didn't need a machete, but I got the next best thing.  Mine came in red.

Relevant to the problem at hand, we bought a flat slab of metal, bent it into a 90° angle, which we slipped under the door to knock the drawer shut.  I can only guess which of the two is the morning's undeserving miscreant, but they were both fed before I attended to myself.

Fortunately, this ordeal did not interfere with any clients.  While I am not a morning person by nature, I understand that there are fully-realized adults whose schedules do not respect the sanctity of early hours.  I do my best to be accommodating, but I'll be moving my standard hours off the weekend in the new year.  Despite two decades in school, I'm beginning to see the value in giving myself a couple days to recharge.  Downtime is especially nice when dealing with unruly kittens.  I take my hat off to parents.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Massage Education & Sunk Cost Fallacy

Sunk Cost Fallacy:  the idea that a company or organization is more likely to continue with a project if they have already invested a lot of money, time, or effort in it, even when continuing is not the best thing to do...

Science has proven that massage therapy cannot increase circulation, spread cancer, cause miscarriages, dehydrate you, or remove toxins.  When last I checked, these myths are still perpetuated in schools and practices.  Why?  Part of the problem is a lack of research literacy, so even with the evidence under one's nose, how do you make sense of the damn thing?  Another problem is that we don't want to admit that we're wrong, especially after investing two year's worth of time and money.

My BA gave me my first real experience with the sunk cost fallacy.  Three-quarters of the way through my studies, I realized, "There's no room for my interests in this economy," but with only a handful of credits standing between me and graduation, I put in the extra year.  Was it worth it?  That depends on what you consider to be a payoff.  I was looking for a career, but today's mantra is, "You're better off having a degree than not."

To be fair, some people understand the situation.

We experience this fallacy under menial circumstances, as well.  This past summer, a few friends and I decided to check out a festival.  A garlic festival, if you've ever heard of such a thing.  Under normal circumstances, the drive would have taken roughly half an hour.  With everyone in the valley heading the same way, it took well over an hour.

Twenty minutes in, a couple of us were nauseated from the congestion and stop-and-go traffic.  Forty minutes in, we wanted to turn around and go home, "But we've already come this far..." so we continued.  The sane thing to do would have been to turn around and go home, but after putting so much time in, we wanted to see a payoff*.

After you put all that time, energy, and especially money into anything, you don't want to turn around and say, "Well, that didn't work.  I think I'll put even more resources into something else, now."  You want to see a point and purpose.  You want some sort of validation for your effort.  Until I found myself elbow-deep in massage studies, I had not seen this desire expressed so strongly.

Rasmussen is a private college of various disciplines, but everyone had to take Human Biology, especially Health Sciences.  The course curriculum was the same for everyone, and for this reason, I'm fairly certain that everyone was required to find out why we don't need to drink 8 glasses of water every day.

As a general rule, just drink when you're thirsty.

Unfortunately, we grew up with this soggy "8 glasses per day" myth.  It stayed with us as we learned how Columbus alone knew that the world is round, brain cells never regenerate, and you'll need to know how to write in cursive for high school, college, your anyone using cursive?

When we spend so much time believing one thing, it takes a reckoning force to make us see and accept otherwise.  We seem to enjoy bashing Columbus, so most educated people know he did not "discover" the world to be round.  With the advent of computers, many are rejoicing over solid evidence that we actually don't need to use cursive.  I don't know of anything so righteous that debunks the 8 glasses myth.

My massage classes still discussed how very important it is to drink so much water (and it must be water) every day.  We were supposed to be able to assess someone's daily intake by the feel and color of their skin.  We were supposed to encourage clients to drink extra water after a massage to flush toxins, and we discussed the dangers of neglecting to do so.  After two years and tuition, how can anyone expect us to admit that this was all wrong?


Well, naturally, but that's another discussion.

*The driver insists it was worth it, because we had to try the garlic ice cream.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Off-Topic - National Adoption Month

In business classes, we're cautioned about mixing personal and professional interests.  We'll inevitably step on someone's toes, at some point, and that's bad for business.  My business is too new for me to say, "I don't care," but here it is:  I don't care.

November is National Adoption Month.  I come from a very blended family.  My paternal uncle is adopted, my grandparents helped raise me and my brother until my father remarried (it takes a village!), said marriage giving us a great step-family, and I can't count the number of "uncles" I had growing up in the military.  The holidays were a blast.

I had the opportunity to share this with a class while attending UW-Green Bay.  The assignment was to present our respective heritage.  I could sum it up with "military & geek culture", but that wouldn't fly.  I went over the usual stuff, proclaiming what a typical American mutt I am, but the two most important factors were my military and step family.  Nobody in either of these camps had any obligation in my upbringing, but they were there, they're part of who I am, and I can't imagine my life any other way.

Following my presentation, a classmate caught up with me after class.  Her boyfriend had two children from a previous relationship, and she wanted to hear more about what it's like being a step-child.  We chatted for a bit, and my answer to her final question sums up the experience for me.
Q:  Do you get along with her?
A:  She's my mom.  We have our ups & downs, but she's my mom.

I could have said, "Oh, yeah!  We're like this!" and done the little finger-linking thing, but that would have fallen short of the truth.  I wouldn't risk providing any false hope or horror, and the military provides a special form of strife to add to the teenage years.  And you know what?  My friends had similar issues with their own families; biological, military, or other.

I don't have the 1950's, white-picket fence, 2.5 (point five...?) children image of what makes a family.  That certainly isn't what my family ever looked like, and I won't tolerate any insult to my mom insisting that "it isn't the same" unless I bear the child myself.  I don't know if I'll have 2 children or 5, but I don't plan on taking 9 months out to make one.  If it happens, my husband and I will be happy, and we'll be especially curious as to what sort of creature our genetics will create, but this isn't a prerequisite for family.  For all we know, our first child might be waiting for us as I type this blog.

Learn about adoption and foster care:
- How to Foster (November 23rd)

Friday, November 1, 2013

LIKE me on Facebook!

Actually, no, don't do that.  You see, I'm not really on Facebook.  I am the Communications Officer for my AMTA-CA Unit, and I have a dummy account to play referee for our unit's page.  After enjoying 5 years of mayhem, I quit Facebook in 2010.  I regret disappearing without giving friends (real friends) much notice, but I don't regret leaving.

Like many others who've made this decision, it gets a little annoying when we see Facebook integration everywhere.  On Google+ (yes, I'm a user; yes, there's plenty to be said about Google integration, as well), I saw that Whole Foods was holding a pet photo contest.  You just needed a picture of your pet in, on, with, or mutilating one of their bags.  Like many pet owners, I knew I had the winning photograph.

I clicked on the link for the rules, and the first thing you have to do is log into Facebook and *Like* them.

"You have an account!  What's the problem?"

A couple of problems.  First of all, I like them in real life.  We can still be friends in real life without Facebook mediating.  Secondly, for all intents and purposes, I'm not on Facebook.  Thirdly, this was posted on G+.

"They're cross-posting.  So what?"

They've probably got some widget they punch information into that sends it to G+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, alike.  It's nothing personal.  It's very impersonal, now that you mention it.  But no matter which network you're using, Facebook is still god-emperor.  Everyone's on it, so we'll host everything through it, post everything to it, share everything with it, and if you're not in this walled garden (oh, yes...I went there), it's you're own fault.

It goes without saying that this isn't just Whole Foods.  A couple friends of mine are still circling some level of higher-education, be they undergrad, masters, or crazy PhD.  One of them has a professor who expressed an interest in posting assignment details in a Facebook group he created for the class.  This friend is not on Facebook.

If this were 2005, when Facebook didn't require DNA samples for verification, this might not be such an issue.  It would have been silly, since the university has its own network for assignments and forum discussions, but now?  Mutual friends and I encouraged this friend to go talk to the Dean.  This professor is essentially forcing everyone to use Facebook; a corporation that requires more information than some (not enough) are comfortable handing over.

"So, what's your point?"

My point, if I must have one, is that I won't ask you to *like me on Facebook*, +1 me on G+, or follow me on Twitter.  I understand that many people are using Facebook for their online presence and influence, but this is not for me.  It means more if you're on my table, talking to your friends about my business, or actually interacting with me in these social mediums.  I also have this little blog to say, "Hey!  Look at me!"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't design your own...

Before planning our own business cards, my classmates and I were given a series of examples of what NOT to do.  Some cards seemed more intent on spiritual enlightenment than massage (which is fine, if that's your shtick), several were too disorganized to hold anyone's attention, and I remember one in particular that looked questionable.  It gave me a mental picture of a rusty old trailer at the edge of town and oil-stained linens, to say nothing about the appearance of the practitioner herself.

Business card templates can't help with shoddy-lookin selfies, but they can help with organization.  Your preferred word processor (mine is Pages) should come with a selection of templates from which to choose, and examples of how to fill in the desired information.  It's pretty simple.  And if you don't want to print your own, you can always head over to Vista Print.  AMTA members get a discount with this service.

As for websites...goodness, there are some bad ones out there.  Seeing as I use NeoCities to build my website, I'll recommend browsing through the websites they support.  Don't stop at "last updated".  Also consider the sites with the most hits.  There's no accounting for taste, but there must be a lesson worth learning somewhere in there.  "Leave it to the professionals", perhaps?  In that case...

There's a possibility that my website could show up in a WHAT NOT TO DO segment of a business class.  However, if this hypothetical class took the time to learn a bit about me, they might appreciate why it looks so elementary.  While I don't have the tools to host my own domain, I'm happy with 1&1 (yes, that's my referral link), and I'm immeasurably grateful for NeoCities and their Ground Floor for giving me the tools to learn how to build my own website.

Conclusion:  Work within your means.  I'm not interested in giving you a list of DOs and DON'Ts, but a WHY for what I'm doing might be of some assistance.

Looking for a domain registrar?
Domain Monster
*List compiled by brief survey.  Do your homework before settling!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Employed or Independent?

The last step in establishing my business was contacting Santa Clara Weekly, sending them a copy of my "Fictitious Business Name Statement", and paying a fee for them to run an ad in the paper for 4 weeks.  On the outset, I found all of this very intimidating, but now that it's over, I'm not too daunted by the task of promoting myself.

As stated in a previous entry, I had no interest in running my own business.  Not for lack of ambition, but rather, lack of experience.  While I'm generally of a competitive nature, I couldn't see what I'd have to offer as an independent MT vs joining a team.  I enjoy having a team.  Weighing all the positives and negatives, I even loved having roommates!  Working independently held no appeal for me.

Then the job hunt began.

One of the reasons I decided to study massage therapy was because of the job market.  The roommates and I had given up cable, so I wasn't seeing any of the commercials that promised big money in the profession.  I just knew that it was something that I would enjoy, and I could support my oft-mentioned programmer husband during the perceivable starving-artist phase of his career.  After an extra year in formal education, thanks to a lovely overlap, I could support the both of us while he built his code and resumé and whatever else he needed to do.  I was going to work for a local hospital and single-handedly revamp their dwindling massage department!

Tell God your plans, sit back and listen for the giggles.

My husband was recognized for his talent and contacted by one of Silicon Valley's many start-ups.  Neither of us were finished with school when these interviews started, but it was pretty clear that we'd be moving.  My in-laws were a reasonable distance from Rasmussen, so I resided with them for a few months while I finished school.  They're pretty awesome, like that.

I took a few months off of life when I arrived in California.  After twenty years in the education machine, it felt warranted.  I searched job listings on-and-off until I found a clinic that seemed to best fit me.  I interviewed, I got the job, enjoyed it, worked there a month, and was laid off.  Remember that job market complaint?  I was assured that my work was stellar, but they couldn't afford to keep me.

I took a few more months off, during which time I obtained my certification from the California Massage Therapy Council.  Now I can work anywhere!  If I can find the right atmosphere.  I was set for an orientation with one company before I realized the chemistry wouldn't work.  My dad gave me plenty of grief for this because "it's a job!"  As MTs, we know how important it is to have the right chemistry between ourselves and clients, as well as with colleagues.  If I needed to be the primary bread-winner, I might have "sucked it up", but it was better, this way.

Knowing not what else to do, having been spun in circles by hospitals, having no direction whatsoever, I applied at Massage Envy.  I know people who've worked there for years, but I walked away after a month.  What a spotty resumé I was building.  At least this neat little used bookstore was hiring, and they liked me!

I think everyone needs to work retail, at some point.  I've always known to be kind to baristas and cashiers, but being on that side of the register opened my eyes.  After years of writing lofty essays for a "four year" university, my intelligence was insulted, time and again, because my math skills have waned.
"You mean you can't do it in your head?"
"Where would we be without computers?"
So much for that lofty BA.  But here's a word to the courteous:  Don't shove more coinage at your cashier as they're handing your change back to you.  When we ask, "Out of $5?" we're confirming that you don't want to pay with anything else.

Aside from learning to deal with cranky people under pressure, I've also learned a lot from my boss and manager about owning an independent, small business.  I'm still very young in the business world, and I'm doing my best to learn as much as quickly as possible.  I don't feel so overwhelmed now as I did in the beginning, despite seeing no end to this growing mound of work, but I feel an equal to the task.  With resources such as Massage Book, Massamio, and Massage Therapy World at my disposal, I'm feeling a little more equal to the task.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Obtaining that business license...

Working within the city of Santa Clara in Santa Clara county, there are three things you need to do in order to obtain your business license:
  1. Visit the Santa Clara Police Department to make sure you're not a prostitute.  You can schedule an appointment, and there's free parking.
  2. Head over to the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder's Office in San Jose to register your Fictitious Business Name.  Bring coins in case you need to park on the street.  It took me about half an hour.
  3. Return to Santa Clara and visit City Hall.  Best to have this form ready before you go.  There's free parking in a lot across the street.

I'm clearly being flippant on point #1, but massage falls under the category of "Regulated Businesses", along with peddlers, solicitors, adult book stores, and escort services.  I'd initially thought we could skip this step, thanks to AMTA, NCBTMB, and CAMTC, but I was mistaken.  In the eyes of the law, we are not, at this point in time, on par with physicians.

Concerning point #2, if you're a business newbie, don't hesitate to ask questions.  I told the clerks that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and they were very patient and helpful.  If you need to fill something out, they'll let you step aside for five or ten minutes and call your number again so you don't need to get back in line.

Off-topic with point #3, but if you're in need of a cup of coffee, you'll see a sign that says COFFEE SHOP on the premises.  They sell coffee and Starbucks beverages, but this is a cafeteria.  For now, I only know of Philz, Crema, and Barefoot Coffee in San Jose, but I really like Chromatic Coffee in Santa Clara.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Masseuse: What's in a Definition?

Okay, interwebs.  Get comfortable, because I'm about to get very, very nit picky...

Before I decided to study massage therapy, I was waist-deep in linguistics.  I love language.  When I encounter a new word, I dissect it.  I try to figure out where it came from, where it's been, and how it ended up in the English language.  I feel silly when I suddenly recognize the root of a word I've used my whole life without realizing its origin.  I use hence, thus, and therefore correctly; I'm adamant about serial commas; and I cringe when someone labels a buddy picture MY FRIENDS AND I.  Feel free to ask me about it; I'll leave you alone, until then.

I spent the better part of my life (all 26 years of me) as a prescriptive linguist, but Linguistics 101 quickly made me lean more strongly on the descriptive side.  If you're a prescriptive linguist, you spend too much time preaching about the proper way to speak; descriptive linguists get a little more sleep.  I'm strongly opposed to the internet's tendency to want to share stuff to people ("I made too much potato salad, so I'd like to share to the office"), but I have no qualms about I Can Has Cheezburger and all it has spawned.

The most curious thing that I learned about myself is that I fall into a minority that believes the language we speak affects the way we think.  Without getting meta, take the terms "actor" and "actress" as an example.  You have a group of actors and a group of actresses.  One actor goes over to the group of actresses, and you suddenly have two groups of actors.  If an actress walks over to the group of actors, you still have two groups of actors.  My argument in this instance would be that we're subconsciously being told, "Dude's the default," and that women are less significant.

This is where I get a bit prescriptive and want to kill off most -ess words.  Actress, waitress, stewardess, huntress, and if you use the word "directress" on any serious basis, we can't be friends.

What on Earth does any of this have to do with massage?

I was looking up examples for why I don't want to be called a masseuse, and why the term is outdated and inaccurate as far as English-speakers go.  I used the phrases "massage therapist vs masseuse", "don't call me masseuse", and "I'm not a masseuse".  I found what I was looking for, but these all still felt too wordy, so I plugged masseuse into the search engine on its own.  Here's what Google spat back at me:

Beg pardon?  What's going on here?  Last I checked, Americans generally have no idea what a "masseur" is, let alone the existence of the word.  Google, are you subtly trying to give English speakers a language lesson, or is this a case of "Stephanie is the feminine form of Stephen" (my husband spells his name with a V) with no further explanation?  Anyone curious enough to have come this far, to have needed to look up the definition of masseuse, would then look up this new word, masseur.  Here's what Google provides:


As per the usual, the female form of [whatever] is being defined as the female version of [whatever] male form, despite the fact that the term masseuse is more widely known in American English-speaking corners than masseur (I won't endeavor to speak for other-English-speakers).  If must be so lazy, would it not be more practical to fully define the term masseuse, and describe masseur as "a male masseuse"?

Published on Nov 2, 2012
The Levi the Cat Masseuse travels Southern Thailand giving stray
cats the time of their life. You can be a Cat Masseuse Master too!
Watch this short informative video featuring Salty The Reggae Cat!
You never know when TCM will show up to give you a good time!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Freedom Day USA 2013


I know, the picture is breaking the border, and usually that would bother me, but I've scaled it down more than I'd like. 

Think of the word "deploy"; what does it mean to you?  If you're a programmer, as many of my clients are or have been, it means something very different than what a soldier, military spouse, or military brat associates with the term.  I'm an Army brat.  My brother and I can identify with the child in the center picture, crying in his father's arms; and our father knows how the soldier on the far right feels as she's reunited with her child after a 12-month deployment.

We all know that our Troops make extreme sacrifices while in foreign lands, but what about the family members who are left at home?  They sacrifice more than we realize to ensure that everything is taken care of while their loved one is away, all while carrying the heavy burden of wondering and worrying about the safety of their soldier.  Here are their stories... (follow hyperlink to

This my experience:

The most deployments occurred when we were stationed in Baumholder, Germany.  I say "we" because, when one parent is in the military, the entire family is, as well.  Until we moved back state-side, half-way through my junior year (my family always PCSed on the downbeat!), I didn't appreciate how nice it was to have this in common with other brats.  It certainly wasn't nice that our parents were gone, but it was nice that we all understood how much it flat-out sucked.  It can also make one a little intolerant.  I once abruptly ended a conversation with a state-side friend as she was sniveling over her father leaving for a three-day business meeting.  Try three months, which is nice when you consider it isn't seven months, or a solid year.  Three months is nice when it's such a novelty to have both parents home.

When my classmates and I would discuss where we're from, I'd always say "Wisconsin".  I remember one of my classmates was very proud of being from Chicago, and I've often wonder if he's settled there.  It's more likely that he joined the military straight out of high school, as I also contemplated before being denied for a weak knee.  Many military brats join the military, for at least one enlistment, because it's all we really know.  Sure, college is on the horizon, but one step at a time.  We grow up under the motto, "Home is where the [branch of service] sends you!" and it feels weird to leave.  If we have the luxury of grandparents, I think many of us used their locations as "home".

As an adult, I feel a bit conflicted at times.  I had to re-evaluate this response my freshman year at UW-Green Bay.  I can still remember introducing myself to my orientation group and stuttering through where I was "from".  It took me a full semester to comfortably reply, "I grew up in the Army," and the implications slowly sunk in.  The place I had always considered "home" was finally a short 1.5 hour drive away, and I was in Wisconsin!  That should feel pretty good, and so it did, most of the time.

One morning, during my first semester, I woke up very disoriented.  No, this disorientation had nothing to do with my "new-found freedom".  I reached over to turn my alarm clock off, but my hand only hit empty air.  Groggily, I remembered that I was no longer in Baumholder, and turned the other way, only to stare at a wall.  Frustration helped me wake up, and I remembered that I wasn't in Olympia, either.  I was on the top bunk in my dorm room, and my roommate had already been up for a half hour.  We exchanged greetings as I scrambled to the foot of my bed, where my alarm clock rested on the top shelf of my massive university-issued desk.  As per her morning routine, my roommate then called her parents, who lived a couple hours south of us.  I felt miserable, but I couldn't call my parents; it was only 5am Pac Time.

I see a few uniformed personnel on a weekly basis, going hither and thither.
(Yes, I talk like that.)
I don't assume all of them are married, or that all of them have children, but I've seen PROUD ARMY WIFE and MY DAUGHTER IS IN THE U.S. AIR FORCE on local vehicles.  I know that these soldiers have families who care about them.  I know that some of these parents, spouses, and children are enduring the absence of their soldier, and some of them are very thankful to have them home.  This is a source of stress that I take for granted, but we don't need to endure it alone.  I invite any military card-holder to schedule an appoint with me for a free one-hour massage on September 12th.  There's very little I can do to affect the global state of affairs, but I can offer this much for our soldiers and loved ones who are giving their all to set things right.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What's in a Room?

This post is, in fact, inspired by a silly twitter trend: #10FactsAboutMyRoom

Twitter trends might not be all that silly.  They have the power to overshadow important matters, elevate lesser-knowns, and make someone's life a living hell.  I'm not interested in providing a twitter how-to or etiquette lesson, this time around (I only have 93 followers, anyway).  For now, I'm simply sharing 10 Facts About My Room.

Fact #1:  It's a treatment room.
Obvious enough, I know, but the teens behind these twitter trends are talking about their bedrooms.  Like many teens complain, I share my bedroom (though I'm not complaining), but the treatment room is mine.

Fact #2:  I'm renting from Aakilarose Inc, known for Mother's 3rd Arm.
After a series of hits and misses in employment, I swallowed my anxiety and started looking for a space of my own.  Amidst my window-shopping, I told my husband about my tentative plan, then met with my soon-to-be landlord, loved the space, loved the location, and signed some papers.  I hadn't intended for it to happen so quickly, but there we have it.

Fact #3:  I'm not the only tenant.
At a cross-roads in your life?  My room sits between the offices of a psychoanalyst and a mortgage broker.  Perfect location for a massage therapist, wouldn't you say?

Fact #4:  I was afraid the room would be too big.
What's wrong with a bigger room?  Truly, not much.  I was concerned that my client might feel exposed if there were too much distance between the walls and the massage table, even though I always use proper-draping techniques.  It felt more cozy after I purchased a chair, some artwork, a table, and a floor lamp.

Fact #5:  Most of it is second-hand.
"EWWW!  GROSS!"  I guess this fact is geared more toward MTs than clients.  Coming out of massage school, you're looking at a steep bill if you buy everything brand new.  Client health and safety is a top priority, if not the top priority, but you also need to take care of yourself.  Make sure your furniture does not bring an unwanted to scent to your room, wash your linens after each use, and you'll be fine.

Fact #6:  My massage table was included in my tuition.
So long as we completed the program, be it Associates of Applied Science or Diploma, we were permitted to keep our tables.  Though we used the tables in the student clinic every hands-on class-period, there was nothing like bringing our very own, brand-new tables home.

Fact #7:  My friends helped me hang the art-work.
The artwork came from a semi-local used-bookstore.  I didn't trust my eyes alone, so I pulled in other opinions on how to properly display it.  This includes my diplomas and certification.

Fact #8:  The lamp is the centerpiece of the room.
This is also probably the most expensive piece of my room, depending upon how you look at it.  I needed something with indirect lighting that would also match my style.  How jarring would it be to walk into a room with an earthy feel, and then see a neon-colored floor lamp?  Some people might pull this off, but that is not me.  Considering the breaks I've found everywhere else, I didn't mind spending a little more on something so lovely.  It also has a glass table attached, so clients can set their keys or glasses somewhere safe.  Versatility FTW!

Fact #9:  The speakers are the newest addition.
I'm still compiling my music list, but I'm happy to have found a good set of speakers.  I'm not too proud to admit that my husband helped me pick them out.  I also have a friend who's a bit of an audio snob, so when he had little to nothing to say about them, I knew we'd gotten a pretty good deal.

Fact #10:  Working on my friends helped me set up.
Be careful about offering free massages to friends and family; they may inadvertently take advantage.  This is your livelihood; your bread and butter, so to speak.  However, I don't mind spoiling mine, every once in a while.  Before opening my doors to the public, I work on my friends.  You can google a checklist, but these went into too much detail for my liking.  You'll know exactly what you need when you don't have it, and I'm glad I had my friends on hand (haha) to help me figure out what my office required.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why "Gesundheit"?

At some point, you've all probably heard some story about an English-speaking minister who went on a mission in Germany and said gesundheit to everyone they saw.  Whilst we English speakers use gesundheit interchangeably with bless you (despite secular tendencies), they do not mean the same thing. 

Google's dictionary tells us that this term is "used to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed".  There you have it.  Good health.

But why did I choose this as a business name?  Not just because I wish good health for my clients; there was a little bit of pressure involved.  If my instructor reads this, it's also a bit of a confession. ^^;

Yes, I use emoticons.  Heavily.

You see, I went through a two-year massage program at Rasmussen College in Green Bay, Wisconsin (program now defunct).  If I remember the experience correctly, we took three business classes.  The first one I took was a Business 101 class required of all students, the third an annoying thing I'd rather forget, and the most relevant was Business & Wellness, where we learned all about marketing massage and prepared for our certification exam.

Mid-quarter, one of our assignments was to design our business cards.  I hadn't been planning on working for a chain, but I hadn't planned on running my own business, either, so why would I need a business card?  For this week's assignment, I was planning on cashing in all of my good student points and saying, "Sorry, I got nothin'."  It wouldn't save me from a failing grade, but my dignitas might stay intact.

I couldn't even think of what to call my hypothetical business.  Everything has been done.  "Healing Hands", "Loving Touch", "I Knead You", and so forth.  I ran a few lame ideas by my husband, and he shrugged at the ones that didn't make him laugh.  Looking at my diploma, I asked, "How about 'gesundheit'?"  He nodded, agreeing that it had potential.

I pulled out the assignment criteria:
- Business name
- My name
- Certification
- Contact info
- Website (if you have one)
- Snappy Logo
- Snappy saying

The snappy snappy saying is supposed to sum up everything your business stands for.  While RELAX DAMMIT! provides generous space for other information, I couldn't see it being well-received.

Back to my original plan: cash in those good student points.  But being a good student (or, at least, being perceived as such), I started to feel guilty.  Sitting across from my husband a half hour before class, I flipped my macbook open and started filling in a business card template.

1) My name
2) My business name
3) E-mail for contact
4) Google Voice for phone number
5) Silly Saying
6) Website...

If the actual card was going to be pitiful, I needed a little extra flair.  It would be several months yet before I'd purchase

Twenty-five minutes to class and closing.  Luckily, I resided within walking distance of the little commuter campus.

"I could just use twitter," I said aloud.

"I would.  Couldn't hurt," my husband replied.

If the snooty programmer approves, it's good enough for me.

I played around with the lettering, working within the character limitations, and decided on gesundhtmassage.  This left me twenty minutes to print and stroll leisurely down to class.

Unfortunately, I knew my classmates would come in with actual business cards.  I saw that some of them had long since ordered theirs from Vista Print or some local shop.  I couldn't just bring in a flimsy print-out.  My only remaining option made me feel like I was back in kindergarten (another German word!).  I pulled out a couple label sheets and light blue construction paper, which I'd received from a friend who was working at a paper mill.  I later thanked her for sharing. 

My husband helped me cut my little art project out, and I had five minutes to rush to class, where I sat wishing that I'd just taken an F.  This feeling built as I watched my classmates pass their cards around.  My mouth was dry as I passed my cards out, which were received with admiration.

Say wut?

I heard terms like "good card stock" passing between my classmates as I moved through the rows (short trip; small class) and returned to my seat.

"So, why 'Gesundheit'?" one classmate asked, getting right down to business.

I told them that I'd finally finished my BA at UW-Green Bay for German and Humanistic Studies the previous October.  "It seemed suitable to incorporate that into my practice.  Gesundheit isn't just a word for sneezing.  It's referring to your health."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Business & Website & Blog (oh my!)

I rented space to start my business this past May.  My landlord is awesomely enthusiastic, so I felt a little sheepish telling him that I didn't have a website, at the time.  "I do have a Twitter account, though!"  I told him. 

It's okay; you can laugh.  It's kinda funny.

I'd purchased my domain,, back in 2011 from 1&, and sat on it.  I didn't want to use templates, but I also didn't know how to start a site from scratch.  I started reading the CSS Missing Manual, but I didn't have a sandbox to test what I was reading.  Early this year, I gave AMTA's free website a try, then dropped it like a snob.

Enter NeoCities.

They launched in May, and they are – you guessed it – a reincarnated form of GeoCities.  My husband told me about it many times beforehand, but I was skeptical.  Mid-July, he "hijacked" my laptop and showed me exactly what it is.  I immediately signed up with and spent the next two hours tweaking and playing with their default HTML.

I'd have stuck with the sub-domain for a while if NeoCities' Kyle Drake hadn't tweeted this:

A few hours later, with the help of my programmer husband (I'm not too proud to admit assistance), I was all set.
I'm won further over by good humor.

With my simple website fully-functional, if a little sparse, I've decided that (why not?) it is time to start a blog.

What do massage therapists blog about?  While I collect my own thoughts, please enjoy the following favorites of mine:
LMT or Bust by Kat Mayerovitch
Save Yourself by Paul Ingraham
Massage St Louis by Alice Sanvito
Writing a Blue Streak by Allissa Haines
Is This Thing On? by Kelli Wise