When I was in High School, age 15, I started becoming interested in massage during a Comparative Religions class. We discussed the roles of touch in different cultures and belief systems, and a group of us became so interested, in those social-revolutionary days of the '70s, that we started the "Massage Therapy Club", much to the horror of school administrators. There was nothing they could do to prevent us from this pursuit-there was no dress code, we were allowed to wear bathing suits to school (which we only did under our clothing, exposing them only for the club meeting at lunchtime) and we were able to find a faculty sponsor, which made us in compliance with rules regarding school clubs. Despite the assumption by many of the opposing adults to our activity, we were not after hormonal gratification, but were truly interested in massage and its benefits. We were ahead of a groundswell of enthusiasts, back in the bad-old-days when being a masseuse was often considered synonymous with being a prostitute.
Our group found journal articles on bodywork, we bought the few books on massage that were available at the time. We practiced on each other on beach towels in the California sunshine on a secluded lawn in our high school that was built on the campus of an old military base in the San Fernando Valley, and to my best knowledge, all of us went on to some sort of career in the health related fields. One a nurse, another a doctor, and me, a massage therapist as well as a singer/songwriter.
Now that I am to the point that music performance is a hobby, and having come through several years of work in Physical Therapy along with my own cancer experience, I am focused on helping those with chronic disease, chronic pain, in cancer rehabilitation and managing lymphedema. I think often of those days on the lawn with my young friends exploring the ways that touch can be soothing and health-promoting. Next week, I will begin a course in Oncology Massage, something that I already know quite a bit about as a giver and a receiver, but something that I want to really understand at a deeper level. I'm excited that our field has grown to the point that a few hospitals employ massage therapists on their staffs. I love my work and am so grateful to be alive at this interesting time in history.
Our Nashville Lymphedema Support group is comprised of patients, therapists and community providers of materials, etc. We have been meeting for about a year, a project instigated by my friend and former patient, LCSW Larkin Oates, at the Estuary in Nashville. Its taken a while to build momentum, but the last couple of months have been just terrific, well attended by an enthusiastic crowd, and I am so proud of what we have created!
Last night, Dr. Paula Stewart came to speak with us. A brilliant and compassionate physician specializing in Lymphedema, she helped all of our group, from the patients to the researchers, review the mechanisms of Lymphedema and recognize signs and symptoms that may indicate other issues. She answered as many questions as time allowed and then we decided, at an hour past our usual end time, that we will have to reconnect with her in the future! I'm very sorry I don't have a photo to post of our meeting last night. Thanks to all who attended. We are so excited about our current momentum that we have abandoned plans to take a summer hiatus; we will continue to meet until the end of the year and will probably take a break over the December holidays.
In conversation later last evening, I heard myself say that I don't think of myself as a healer. I think of myself as a facilitator, helping my clients learn how to take care of themselves and to manage their pain; I'd not really thought of that before. I, of course, do think that massage is healing, just that the recipients are the ones that heal themselves; it is my privilege to be allowed to provide the touch-factor that is involved with that transformation. I wonder what others think of this concept? Certainly in the support group format, we are all seeking our own pathways to wellness and learning to heal ourselves, sharing the knowledge we glean with others. What a treat.
this post was originally written in mid January 2016 and posted on my previous website:
I am excited to introduce a blog to my website. This year has jump-started, very busy already and delighted that I'm having trouble making time to write due to the amount of opportunity that has come my way to provide lymphedema therapy, lymphatic massage and voice release bodywork to so many people who have made a commitment to take good care of their selves! I'm working hard to take good care of myself as well and enjoying long walks in the chilly weather, and a couple of yoga classes a week.
The Nashville Lymphedema Support Group is small but mighty; our monthly meeting has moved to the 2nd Wednesday at 6 pm and our meeting this week was engaging and informative. Please let me know if you are in the area and would like to attend a future session; we hope to add some speakers to our schedule.
I feel such a sense of growth around me now-the city I live in, the community of bodyworkers I collaborate with and learn from, the clients who daily teach me how to better do my job....it's an exciting time. I hope that this spirit of growth and beneficial change will be expressed in the growth of this blog, and readers.
Regarding lymphatic massage, voice release bodywork and lymphedema therapy, if anyone has any comments or questions on these topics or needs guidance to therapy in the Nashville area, if I cannot assist you personally, I will do my best to guide you to someone who can, so please feel free to contact me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this initial post; I'll be back soon!