Headstand for Followers?

The idea of starting this blog was exciting. Massage, to me, is one of the greatest things on earth, something that can be integral to every person’s well being or the greatest enhancement.   I love everything about it except it’s minor role in our culture.

Writing about it, as opposed to working on a limited number of people each week, seemed like a good way to change that, to magnify all that is healthy, helpful and entertaining about this work. It seemed like a good way to get it into more people’s lives.

It took eight years of daydreaming (I was busy building a practice and personally committing to destructive people) before I finally called a very patient design team who gave the site its cyber shape and space. That was four years ago.

Since then, despite tiny surges of productivity, little more has happened other than what you see. No cards, no mass emails or social media blasts about its existence. When it was time to actually start blogging, all I felt was the urge to do everything but that.

My parents, completely self made, remind me the value is in the process, not perfection. My 89-year-old, spry, beautiful grandmother has her own version: “Just keep moving no matter what.” They are right. I have kept moving, but just far along enough in the process to learn this: When it comes to doing things for other people, I’m a pro-producer. When it comes to doing something that will bring attention to myself, I’m a pro-procrastinator.

The rational part of my brain sees all the reasons I find not to do it lay in a lack of confidence in new territory. It also realizes inertia betrays every tenet of self-empowerment and self promotion our current culture champions. Therein lies one of the first spasms to ever defy me. The blog isn’t supposed to be about me. It’s about the work I love. But, after 20 years, there is little separation between myself and that work.

It’s difficult in this time of selfie-ism to promote something without including yourself. Especially if it has become part of you. Many of my friends are former clients. Much of what I’ve learned about adult life, I learned from them. Much of my identity came from being a good massage therapist. It shaped me the way some people say yoga shapes them. It found use for some of my weaknesses, bolstered my attributes, and tamed my ego. One of those weakness was shyness. One of those attributes was perfectionism. You don’t have to talk much during a massage, but you do have to tend to your clients issues as close to perfectly as possible. So it worked.

Forward to to blogging and wanting to highlight massage therapy in a new way. It’s like the clock rolled back on my psyche. The shyness is still here, as is the question if the work I do is as good as it could be. Instagram and privacy aren’t quite kin. Neither are regular posting dates and detail obsession.

All of Instagram’s images of delectable-looking breakfasts, unrealistically positive quotes, supernaturally adorable children, goofy pets, and surreal travel shots are great conductors of attraction. The photos of people in extreme yoga poses or with anatomy-defying musculature are even better. I just can’t imagine doing them. Post myself doing an inversion? An ab-flashing selfie? (Or searching for my abs.)? Typing or scribbling motivational quotes like some modern-day plagiaristic Aristotle? Photos of my pantry? (You’d visually starve.)

I don’t sneer at these posts. I like them. I follow them. I admire the abs. I want to drink every multi-colored, fruit-topped, superfood-power-house shake. Good quotes and re-birthed proverbs make me feel academic. It’s just coming from me, they would feel conspicuous and unnatural. So my photos are of the work, the spaces it happens in, the people who provide it, and the occasional personal peek. Yes, it probably will have to change, even if it’s just a little. You know, I’ll do a headstand on my massage table. In a bum-baring bikini. Or never … It will be never.

I try to imagine how far along the site could be if I put half the energy into it as I did scrubbing the already clean shower grout with a toothbrush, reorganizing the linen closet (especially the fitted sheets), finding yet another app to no learn Spanish with, watching James Corden clips, and over-analyzing ex-relationships with friends (look, we have a lot of material). Maybe the Instagram account would have more followers. Maybe the blog could be one offering a line or two that changes someone’s day. Maybe, and this would be tops, it would inspire more people to get on massage tables for the right reasons. Or maybe, and this would be fine, it would be little more than a vanity project.

Imagination and delusion are two of the many things separated by the finest line. So are confidence and naivete, genius and madness. In doing this, I’m sometimes not sure which side of that proverbial line I’m leaning towards. When I tell people I went to massage school and then got a degree in English and journalism, they think I’m intellectually split into two nonworking parts. But I’ve made both work in the past, just alternately. The link may be that I approach them the same. When writing, I start reworking every line three-quarters of the way through, leaving an 800-word posts in draft mode for months. When massaging, I would think I fit everything into the allotted time until I found that one other fascial plane or muscle fiber needing attention. There is always one more detail – in words and massage.

Knowing it is never going to be perfect and that it will not please everyone is common sense. But, the overly cautious part of my brain thinks the double guessing and deliberation of this whole project makes sense.

It took me at least half of my massage career to become more confident in my own mixture of personality and skill. That only happened by taking on each new client with fluctuating amounts of hope and belief that I would do well enough.

That, right there, seems like a good place to stop for now. Or start again.



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