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