Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Vulnerability in Massage: No, I'm Not a Serial Killer

"Wait, what?!"

I'm not sure who Jim Gaffigan is -- supposedly he's a comedian? and apparently not a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills? -- but he recently caused waves in the massage community over some comments made on CBS's Sunday Morning program.

In his segment, he calls massage therapy decadent, expensive and weird -- "always from absolute strangers." 

"We know nothing about these people! ... They like to rub strangers while they listen to the Avatar soundtrack. That's a red flag! Those are the traits of a serial killer! ... [T]hey're busy imagining making a suit out of my skin, because they're murderers."

Mr. Gaffigan's attempts at humor are dry and fall flat (who the heck jokes about leprosy?), but he does bring up a good point about vulnerability.

I will never ask my clients to do anything they're uncomfortable with. Ever.

I remember what it was like to undress and get on the table for my first massage with a stranger. Yeah, it was nerve-wracking, and a lot of body confidence issues reared their ugly heads. I, too, was self-conscious about the length of my leg hair. Over time, I've been able to let these things go -- because I know that any therapist worth their salt won't show any judgment during our session together.

During our first session, we will start off with a conversation about you, your health history, and what you do for work and hobbies. I want to know what your needs are so I can plan how best to help you. This is also an opportunity for you to ask me any questions -- I may respectfully decline to answer personal ones, but I want us to build a connection before I have you get on the table.

When I suggest clients "undress to their comfort level," I mean they can choose to receive a session fully clothed, fully nude, or anything in between. I use sheets and blankets to ensure genital areas are covered while I'm present. I only undrape one area at a time.

I won't make comments about the condition of your body unless it's related to your treatment ("this area seems tighter than on the other side"), if there's something you might not be able to see ("did you know you have a mole here?"), or if there's something that needs medical attention ("how long have you had this open wound on your big toe?"). The presence and condition of body hair doesn't even ping on my radar.

If, at any point, you change your mind about receiving a massage, you have every right to cancel your appointment or to stop the session. I won't even charge you for it. Your comfort is of the utmost importance to me.

Now that that's out of the way ---

Here are some non-massage-related things you might not know about me:

I am a Taurus, born in the Year of the Dragon. My favorite color is purple and my favorite cuisines are Mexican and Indian.

I was born in Texas, spent several of my childhood years in North Carolina, and have lived in Maine since I was 13. I graduated from Richmond High School in 2006 and then moved to the Standish area after my son, Asher, was born in 2009.

In case you couldn't tell, I am a giant nerd. I was sorted into Ravenclaw and Thunderbird on Pottermore, but I definitely have some strong Hufflepuff traits. Some of my hobbies include collecting books that I never read, playing Minecraft (alone or with kids), and writing fiction. I have always collected rocks and crystals. I would prefer a quiet walk in the woods to a day at the beach.

(... so much for convincing people I'm not a murderer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

On that note, if I can ever do something to make you feel more comfortable -- with me or during your session -- please don't hesitate to speak up!

I hope to hear from you soon! Comment below with a fun fact about yourself!

"I'm at Your Front Door -- Now What?"

I don't have a lobby or a receptionist, so I rely on signage to help direct new and established clients when I'm not available to greet them at the door. Here are some examples of what signs you might see at my office.

If you are coming up Main Street (Route 4A) from Hollis, my office will be on the right, next door to the Bar Mills Post Office. You'll see the sign for the Leavitt's Mill Free Health Center on the hill; sometimes my tiny purple and white lawn sign is out to point the way. You'll want this driveway.

Here's a closer view of my sign. In the background is the driveway for Leavitt's Mill and the other businesses upstairs. "You cannot get they-ah from he-ah," so please use the entrance in the next photo.

This corner of the building, closest to the post office, is my office! There's another little lawn sign to point the way; there is a turn-around and more parking out back if you need it. (See "Where Should I Park?" for more details.)

When you walk up to my door, you might see this sign and a doorbell attached to the black security box on the right.

This doorbell sounds in my office. I take it down while I'm with a client.

This is a close-up of the sign on my door -- if you see this one, ring the doorbell and wait outside. I try to answer the door within a minute or two; if nobody answers, try again. You can also knock on my window where the plants and tapestry are. (Sometimes the batteries in the doorbell run out.)

If you arrive to this set of signs and no visible doorbell, please wait outside. I could be in the middle of a session or cleaning my office after a previous client. You might also double-check your appointment time and date -- I've had a few clients arrive on the wrong date before.

If you're sure you have an appointment but I haven't come to greet you by your appointment time, give me a call and leave a message. You're welcome to wait a few minutes for a response. There is nothing worse than expecting to get a massage and then being disappointed! 😱

As always, if you have any questions, give me a call at (207) 370-4222. I look forward to working with you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April Announcements

The following post was shared with my newsletter subscribers, first. Sign up to receive updates in your inbox! 
One more thing: my FullSlate on-line scheduler has been on the fritz the past week or two. I apologize for any inconvenience you may have encountered.

Two years and one month ago, I made my first trip to the Big City -- New York City. I'm finally heading back for an encore, and I'm bringing my son with me! We are leaving Friday the 14th and returning Tuesday the 18th. We will see some sights and sample some great food and walk until our legs fall off! ;)

As of Thursday the 13th, all messages regarding appointments will be returned on or after Wednesday the 19th. If you choose to book on-line, your appointment will be confirmed or declined around that same date. Appointments will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis.

After April 23rd, my booking schedule should return to normal for a little while. I'm usually available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 4:00-7:00, and weekends 10:00-2:00. Summertime brings vacations, holidays, and weddings, but I will do my best to inform you of any closings ahead of time.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

In March, I traveled to the great city of Manchester, New Hampshire, for an eight-hour course on Lymphatic Drainage Massage. It was hosted at the North Eastern Institute of Holistic Health, a wonderful little school that reminded me a lot of Spa Tech Institute in Westbrook (where I did my training), and I met some of their wonderful, up-and-coming massage professionals.

"Okay, but what is lymphatic drainage massage?"

Your lymphatic system is your immune system. It relies on muscle movements to get the lymph from your capillaries to your lymph nodes, and then to your lymph ducts to be processed. Anything the lymph picks up that's no longer useful to your body is eliminated.

The technique itself involves very light, very gentle touch. We work to improve the flow of lymph through your body. It is effective in treating some cases of edema (swelling, especially in the legs and ankles) and can help you to recover from a cold faster. The technique can be done with clients fully clothed, laying on their backs.

I have started incorporating this knowledge into some of my regular sessions, and my clients are already reporting positive results. I intend to offer stand-alone lymphatic drainage massage sessions in the future. Which brings me to my last point for this letter...

Changes Are Afoot!

When Main Street Cutters closed its doors last May, my promise to myself and to my clients was that I would keep my prices about the same as what they were at the salon for one year.

June will mark my one-year anniversary of running I Knead Serenity as my own business. I intend to raise my rates -- while also introducing new services and add-ons. You will still receive the high standard of care and professionalism that I have set for myself. By raising my rates, I will be better able to support you by pursuing educational opportunities, providing you with high quality oils and products (many of them made here in New England), and by continuing to look toward future expansion possibilities.

I will announce the new rates by May 1st so that you can plan accordingly; they will go into effect on June 1st. I understand that not everyone will be comfortable with these changes. You are always welcome to come to me with questions or concerns as I work toward this transition.

Thank you for being my client!

I couldn't be successful without you! So many of you have become repeat clients and referred your friends and loved ones to my practice. Making the jump from an employee to a sole practitioner was scary -- but you've helped to make it worth it!

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter in Maine: Cancellation Policies

It's that time of the year again!

Mr. Cardinal has no time for this "snow" business.

Throughout the year, my cancellation policy requests 12-hours advance notice if you will be unable to make your appointment. Emergencies happen, and so they are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Given that we live in New England, many of us have learned that the weather can change in an instant. Computer models can only predict so much, and Mother Nature will do whatever she darn well pleases.

With that in mind, please be aware of the following guidelines:

  • In the event that we have booked a weekday morning appointment and RSU/MSAD 6 (Bonny Eagle) has cancelled school, your appointment will also be cancelled.
  • If RSU/MSAD 6 (Bonny Eagle) cancels their weekday afternoon activities due to the weather, my afternoon or evening appointments will likely be cancelled.
  • Regardless of your appointment time, if you don't feel safe to drive, please call to cancel your appointment as soon as possible. Missed appointment fees due to the weather will be waived.
  • If the above closings occur and/or I don't feel safe to drive, I will call to reschedule appointments. Please consider all confirmation messages to be "tentative," dependent on the road conditions.
For our mutual well-being and the safety of others on the road, please stay home in inclement weather. A massage will do little good if you have to drive home white-knuckled!

Thank you for your understanding! Be safe!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Safety & Security at I Knead Serenity

As we head into Winter and most of my hours are in the evening, I wanted to take a moment to talk about security. While I'm just down the street from where I used to work, it's a different environment with a few new considerations.

Someone's Knockin' At the Door---

First and foremost, you need to know that I don't have a lobby and I don't have typical "open office hours." Sessions are by appointment only, at this time, and I enforce my 12-hour Cancellation Policy.

The door I use is the blue one facing Route 4A (Main Street), and it is usually locked. When I'm expecting a client, I put out a doorbell attached to the little black box, along with a sign on the door explaining that, once you ring the bell, I will be with you shortly.

If the sign says something along the lines of, "Quiet Please," then I am still with a client.

If there is no sign and no doorbell, go ahead and knock on the door -- I might be in the middle of setting up and have yet to put them out.

Lights, Cameras---

In the photo above, you'll see there is a light and a security camera over that door. There are other cameras located inside and outside of the building. They are not mine and I do not have access to them, but I just want you to be aware that they're there.

If you are able to park by the door, please do so -- the lighting in the back and side lots isn't great, though there are a couple at the post office next door that help.

The halls and common areas of the building feature motion-activated lights. You may hear them quietly flick on and off during your session as other tenants come and go.

Once your session is over and we say goodnight, I am more than willing to walk you to your car! If you're the last client of the evening, I might ask you to wait a few moments so that we can leave together.

Information Privacy---

Just like at your doctor's office, your identifying and health information is covered by HIPAA. It will never be given away without your consent, except under certain provisions. You can read my Notice of Privacy Practices here. You sign an Acknowledgement of Receipt of this notice in your Intake Packet.

There is also a page in the intake packet about how to contact you regarding last minute appointments and e-mail newsletters. You can choose not to be contacted at all, or to be contacted by phone and/or e-mail.

All information submitted through my Full Slate scheduler is protected by Full Slate itself. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch with them.

If you pay for services using PayPal or Square, they will encrypt any sensitive information; I never see it. Again, if you ever have concerns about the security of your information, contact them directly.

You Are Welcome---

In many social circles, industries, and establishments, there are topics that are considered verboten. These topics stir up our sympathetic nervous systems, our "fight-or-flight" response. Members of the massage industry work to provide support for relaxation, health, and wellness -- essentially, giving you time to turn that sympathetic nervous system off.

With that said, please refrain from discussing topics such as politics or religion during our time together.

I have often called my office a Judgment-Free Zone, and I stand by it: regardless of your body type, your age, your ethnicity, your political views, your gender, your sexual orientation, your religious practices, your citizenship, your abilities or disabilities -- so long as these things do no harm, you will be treated with the utmost respect.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Quick Updates!

First off, thank you to all who participated in the raffle for the Buxton-Hollis Historical Society! Congratulations to the winners of the 30-minute Gift Certificates:
  • Nyree Y. of Limerick
  • Laura K. of Standish
  • Katie P. of Gray

● Good news for Buxton and Hollis residents: the Veteran's Memorial Bridge should be open November 8th!

● I did some reorganizing of the links in the bar above. The new Massages page is worth a read; it could have been a blog post, but I wanted to be sure people saw it, front and center. The information that had been on that page is now under "Location."

● For New Clients, I have included a new section for you on my on-line scheduler. Those sessions will automatically block off extra time for your first appointment, so that we have plenty of time to go over your health history and expectations.

● Did you know you can purchase instant gift certificates through my scheduler? You can print them straight from your computer!

I have more plans in the works for this site, but in the meantime, you can also find me on:

Until next time!
-- Bethany

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"What Can Your Massages Do For Me?"

My massages can make you feel like you've just slipped into the perfect pair of LuLaRoe leggings (like "buttah"). Your head and shoulders will feel lighter. You will discover you had more aches and pains in places you hadn't even realized were tense. I know -- because I've been both a massage client and a practitioner for five years.

After a session with me -- if you haven't had a massage before and/or you don't like people touching you -- you will likely ask yourself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?" One client said during her first massage, "I can't remember the last time I felt like I was being cared for."

"Okay, but what is it like?"

A good massage should feel like settling into your favorite chair with a warm drink in-hand, your favorite music playing in the background. You know that feeling when you slide into bed after putting on fresh, clean sheets? You'll get to experience that on my table at each massage.

If you haven't slept well in a while, you will either fall asleep on my table or want to go home and go straight to bed. Some clients bring their pajamas to change into afterward.

If you've been thinking, "I'm not as young as I used to be," and find it difficult to keep up with your life's demands, there's good news: I can help give you more mobility and flexibility to get your daily tasks done. The effects of massages are cumulative, so the more of them you get, the better you'll feel and be able to move. I tell my clients to come in as often as their budgets and schedules will allow -- even if that means receiving shorter sessions more frequently.

A long-term client of mine has lived with chronic pain for 40-years. She used to receive massage once a month, and the pain would come back long before her next session. She now sees me once a week and it has made a world of difference. (She calls me her "angel.")

The First Session:

Your comfort and well-being are important to me. We sit down at our first session to go over your health history. It's important for me to know if you have any conditions where massage might not be beneficial for you. If you have fibromyalgia or peripheral neuropathy, I may have to adjust my pressure or avoid certain areas altogether.

Speaking of comfort -- please know that you do not have to be nude, if that makes you uncomfortable. I will always step out of the room while you get on and off the table. I use sheets and blankets for draping so that you'll be covered except for whatever area I'm working on at the time. I also give sessions with clients remaining fully-clothed. My space is a "Judgement-Free Zone," so don't worry if you forgot to shave or have extra curves (or a lack thereof).

As far as a "menu" goes, I keep your options super simple: choose from a 30-, 60-, or 90-minute massage session. Depending on your goals, I will choose techniques that I think will work best for you.

One Thing I Don't Believe In: "No Pain, No Gain."

If your body is telling you that something hurts, this is your time to listen. When it comes to massage, if a practitioner pushes too deep, too quickly, your muscles will tighten up to protect themselves from further damage. Communicating with your therapist is very important! I promise that I won't be offended if you tell me I need to ease up -- or, conversely, to go ahead and push a little harder.

Some people actively seek out deep work, and that's fine -- so long as they make an educated choice. I can use deep pressure, but generally, this style is not my forte.

If you're looking for something more than therapeutic massage, my practice is not for you.

There's One Thing I Can't Do:

While I've been told that I have "magic fingers," I haven't been able to wave them around and make every ailment and ache disappear completely. Rome wasn't built in a day; your pain and dysfunction likely didn't develop in a day, either. Massage is very good at relieving pain symptoms -- sometimes for a few hours, up to a few days.

I'm not a doctor or a chiropractor -- I can't diagnose any conditions or prescribe medications. I will always point you in the direction of medical professionals if I find reason to.

After your session, I will encourage you to be gentle on yourself in the days ahead. Drinking water and getting rest are important for your body to heal. Sometimes your body may overreact -- prompting headaches, stomach aches, or flu-like symptoms. This shouldn't happen after every massage, but it does happen on occasion.

From there, find other ways to take care of yourself between sessions. Massage is good on its own, but it can be so much more effective when paired with stretching routines, exercise, and healthy habits. Use heat or ice therapy on the spots that are sore or stiff; topical analgesics like IcyHot are great to have on hand, too.

I am here for you if you ever have questions about massage. Whatever is holding you back from booking a session, I want to know about it! Get in touch with me!

Book Now!