Monday, March 22, 2010

What to expect at an IAIM training

The International Association of Infant Massage's (IAIM) CEIM/CIMI training is four, eight-hour days: seven hours on instruction and one hour for lunch.  It is intense, with a lot of information to take in very quickly; I wish I could record the presentation for future reference.  The core curriculum includes fifteen points, including:

  • The history of Infant Massage and IAIM
  • Demonstration of strokes and gentle activities
  • Three day Practicum with parents and babies (day 1 is mostly observation of the Trainer teaching a class)
  • Teaching the benefits of Infant Massage to others
  • Infant Crying
  • Infant behavioral states, cues, and reflexes
  • Bonding and attachment
  • Self awareness of emotional elements and support
  • Communication skills
  • Group Facilitation Skills
  • The Growing Child
  • Special situations and adaptations of the Program
  • Touch and massage research
  • Public Relations and marketing
  • Teaching skills
You receive a workbook and a spiral bound Manual.  The workbook has most of the space you'll need for taking notes regarding the above-listed curriculum, but I would recommend an extra notebook or several sheets of lined paper for taking notes on things presented outside that list, like quotes, self care, practical tips, and health information.  (For example, we spent about 15-20 minutes discussing plastic bottles and grades of plastic, with regards to giving each family their own bottles of oil to have and bring to class.  It's good information to have and understand and further research, but it's not covered in the curriculum.  P.S.: Code 5 is food grade.)  You are also given a copy of Vimala McClure's Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents.
My session is being taught by Suzanne P. Reese.  She is amazing; she's been teaching, practicing, and learning about infant massage all over the world.  (Check out her website for more information on her.)  Over the four days, about two-thirds of our lecture/discussion time was sitting up at tables, and about a third was spent on the floor.  We watched a few videos, including interviews with Vimala (VEE-mala), What Babies Want, and one that I'm blanking on the name of but that I've seen in my doula circle.  We learned the series of strokes, of course, how to teach them to parents, what to charge (about the local going rate for a full-body massage for a 4-6 week series of classes), and places to find support, networking, advice, and marketing.

The training is a wonderful experience, you'll meet some wonderful people that you'll miss after the classes are over.  To conclude, here's some advice for anyone who's going to take the training:
  •  Bring soft cushions and/or a BackJack or similar floor seating if the facility doesn't have them available.  Also bring an old sheet or blanket you don't care if it gets oily or walked on.
  • Find a doll early on before the training and test it for flexibility at home so you have ample time to return it if you don't like it.  Try to find one in the 18-22" (46-56cm) range, with a soft (inflatable's okay, but not great) body, at least one open hand, and soft limbs if you can find it.  Limbs that are too bent and unyielding are very annoying to work with, in my opinion.
  • Bring a digital camera, you will want to take a picture before the training ends (possibly before the last day so you can get it printed and have everyone autograph it.)  That way you can connect names with faces.  Write down who's who before you forget.
  • Speaking of names and faces, make a list of names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, locations, and background (what they do for work, what they have done).  This is the start of your resource list of people you already know, you know their training, you can talk to them, etc.  It's useful for giving referrals, as well as possibly getting other information and perspective.  (Example, if my classmate in Cameron Park knows someone in Sebastopol who's pregnant and wants a doula/a massage/an infant massage instructor, she has my name to give out and a personal experience with me that lends credibility to the referral.)  Include your Trainer on this list, too, and it wouldn't hurt to have information for the place where the training was held.
  • Be prepared to have your life changed.  Be willing to have your life changed.  The work of Infant Massage has the power and potential to change not only the families you touch, but yourself.  You will find yourself looking at others different, with more compassion.  You will look at yourself with more kindness.  You will come away with a greater sense of ownership over your own body and respect for others'.  If you let it truly change you, you will see everything in a whole new way.
And finally...
  • Enjoy the journey.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Infant Massage training

I am officially out of town for my CEIM training in Citrus Heights.  Once I get back and know what I'm facing, I'll be needing to work with five families to teach them about Infant Massage.  I'll probably start putting out calls on Twitter, Craigslist, and WaccoBB for willing students.

It's exciting!

I'll be back in business on Monday, March 22nd.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Being competitive in West County

Having worked for nearly six years now, my career has long exceeded those of most massage school graduates, especially when you consider that approximately half of graduates don't even get into the industry.  However, a quick perusal of WaccoBB's "Products & Services Offered" section--and the banner ads that appear both on the site and the daily digest emails that members receive--reveals a collection of other advertising bodyworkers who all seem to have more experience (usually 20+ years, which makes my 5+ seem piddly), more credentials, and more modalities under their belts.  It's intimidating.

It shouldn't be.  I'm a good therapist, a very good therapist.  I've received many compliments and comments over the years on the quality of my touch, the warmth of my hands, my presence, etc.  There's no reason for me to feel insecure just because I'm not Miss Twenty-Modalities.  When it comes down to it... that's not the point, as Will Green points out here (from about 0:30 to 1:30.)  And he's right, it's all about ego, it's prestige, it's one-upping the competition so people choose you.  Which hey... that's business.  But what if people really don't care if I haven't certified in anything new since graduation?  What if I'm just psyching myself out for no reason at all?  What if the most important thing is not that I use organic or sustainable linens or decor in my room (which I do, but I know it's not), but rather how I greet people, the treatment I give them on the table?  What if I just need to stop freaking out and judging myself inadequate and instead say "Hey, I know I'm good at what I do," get out of my head and into my heart?  (Children of AAAbraham... who remembers that song?  It's not very old.)  Everything is just icing on the cake.

I think I need to stop freaking out.  So, Sebastopol's saturated with massage therapists.  So, a lot of them have been in the field since I was in grade school.  So what!  There was a time when they were "only" six years out of massage school, too, and they made it.  I want to, too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

HHC Newsletter: Springtime and the Liver

Below are excerpts from the newsletter sent out by my acupuncturist, Laurel.  This issue she's concentrating on the liver and the menstrual cycle.  (Much of the information under Tips for A Healthy Menstrual Cycle also apply to preparation for TTC.)  Enjoy.

Late Winter into Early Spring
As the daffodils bloom, the mustard and acacia turn yellow and we have balmy days to revel in, we turn ourselves towards spring.

In traditional Chinese Medical theory each major organ rules a season, has a flavor and a color. The liver rules springtime.  The flavor of the liver is sour; the color is green.  The liver rules the eyes, ligaments and tendons.  It is the boss of all the other organs.  It is responsible for cleansing our blood and regulates hormones.  Headaches, fertility, menstrual and menopausal problems, control issues, anger, irritability, eye problems, tendonitis, breast issues and sighing are all signs that your liver needs attention.  This spring newsletter is focusing on the menstrual cycle; however, if you are troubled by any of the issues I have just named, now is the time to start gearing up and attending to your liver.  Considering the fact that we live in an agricultural area that uses herbicide, pesticide and fungicide on a regular basis, this is appropriate health maintenance for all. 

 Acupuncture and herbs are remarkably helpful for liver issues and the results are often quite rapid and dramatic.

The Magical Menses

Our earth is 87% water.  Our bodies are the same.  The moon pulls at the tides of the Earth’s water and the tides in women’s bodies.  Most women bleed and ovulate in relation to the moon. Currently many men and women do not understand nor feel connected to themselves, their bodily rhythms nor the mother earth.  The menstrual cycle is seen as a nuisance and an obstruction to sex, work, "normal" life and something women have to "put up with".  Women suffer with PMS, menstrual pain and irregularities, fatigue, stress, infertility and their intimates suffer along with them.  Perhaps with some more education, information and a change in perspective we might have an opportunity to “go with the flow” a bit more and quit feeling like we are “swimming upstream” so much of the time.

 The Monthly Cycle

A normal menstrual cycle is approximately 28 days long and has two primary phases.  The first phase is the “yin/estrogenic” phase.  The second phase is the “yang/progesterone” phase.  It is also called the leutal phase.

Week 1

The Yin Phase

Day one of the cycle is the first day of a woman’s menstrual period.  A normal period lasts from 3-7 days.  Usually the flow is heavier during the first 2 days and this is when a woman will experience cramps, headaches, fatigue and a great desire to be quiet and to be alone.  During the bleeding phase of the cycle it is helpful if women can be in warm, quiet places, not work if possible, get extra rest and eat warm, nourishing foods.  Animal protein, beets, bitter greens and whole grains are all advised.  Nettles, red raspberry leaf and oat straw are all good herbs to use as well.  It is crucial that bleeding women stay away from cold and icy foods.  These will stagnate the blood and stops its free flow.  The menses is a time when women are more earth based and connected to spirit.  Quiet meditative activities such as art projects, gentle walking, yoga, altar building, writing, prayer and meditation will give women a chance to feel more connected.  Women can reflect on their past month and decide what to let go of and what to call in using their inner guidance and wisdom.  If the family can help support her “checking out” a bit to “check in”, everyone benefits in the long run.  Intimates can provid e support by doing the cooking, cleaning, childcare and massaging their partner.  It is important to give her space and not expect her to be sexually available.  This will result in having a woman in the household who feels seen, loved and respected and will lead to a much more harmonious relationship in the long run.  If there are children in the household that observe this dynamic, it will set the stage for them to have a positive relationship to themselves, women, and menses, which in turn may positively effect the culture at large.

Week 2

The second half of the “yin” phase is the week after menses.  Unless a woman has bled too much during her period, this is often a really good week for women and those around them.  Their bodies are gearing up for ovulation and there is a sense of anticipation in the cells.  This is a good time for women to start new projects, exercise more intensely and put into motion the agreements they made with themselves while bleeding.  Women with 28-day cycles usually ovulate on day 14; therefore,  beginning on day 8 they are fertile.  Now is the time to start using birth control or make love to make babies depending on your circumstances. A woman’s vaginal mucus will change from dry to watery, then slippery at this time. Women in the fertile phase of their cycles are often more social, more outgoing, wear more vibrant colors, sexy clothes and party more.  They are biologically attracting a mate to themselves for procreation.  This is a great time to conceive projects, as well as babies, and to make connections and network with others.

If a women likes to eat raw foods, yogurt, ice cream and cold liquids, this is a safer week for her to eat/drink them, although they are never advised in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  They should be used sparingly and preferably mixed with warm cooked food and drink to promote healthy ovulation and nourish her eggs.  Whether a woman wants to be pregnant or not it is advisable to eat foods that hold the potential to create new life.  These foods include: nuts, seeds, eggs and roe.

Week 3

The Yang Phase

The second half of the cycle begins with ovulation.  This is the day the egg breaks through the corpus leuteum (or “yellow body”) and moves in to the fallopian tube.  If sperm is waiting there, conception may occur.  This is approximately day 14 of a 28-day cycle.  A woman needs to make sure to be using birth control at this time unless she wants to conceive.  The egg lives for 24-72 hours.  If it is not a child she would like to conceive, what is it?  This can be a very creative time of the month.  Perhaps it is a good time to sew seeds, plant plants, and do artwork and other projects that are both work and non-work related.  The premenstrual week will be arriving soon.  What can be done to make that week easier?

Week 4

The Premenstrual Week

Liver qi congestion is the primary organ imbalance that leads to the classic symptoms of PMS-headaches, breast tenderness, irritability and rage.  Emotional irritability, insecurity, food cravings, fatigue, bloating and insomnia are other common symptoms.  Any type of exercise that causes the diaphragm to rhythmically massage the liver will help with liver qi congestion.  Yoga, twisting postures, aerobic exercise, walking and climbing will all help.  Eating sour foods such as lemons, bitter greens, tempeh, sauerkraut, and using bitters-such as Swedish digestive bitters will help as well.  Acupuncture and herbs are extraordinarily helpful for PMS.  A regular meditation practice will help calm the spirit and mind.  For women and their partners who suffer from PMS it is crucial to develop working strategies for this week.  A highly developed sense of humor can help immensely.  Orgasms help a lot.  If a woman can’t connect with her partner or is single, then she can connect with her self.  A bit of chocolate will help; the whole box will hinder.  Staying hydrated and eating to build herself up for the bleeding that is around the corner is important.  Use the same foods as menses week foods and throw in a few fun foods as well.  It helps!  Getting some time alone so that she can be gracious when she is with others is extremely helpful.  The yang phase is coming to a close and the yin phase is about to begin again with menses.  And so goes a month in a woman’s life.  It’s a beautiful, simple and complex rhythm. The Iroquois grandmothers believe that the earth used to be in better balance because the women bled onto the earth for a week of every month for 40 years of their lives.  The unfertilized egg and blood was a gift to the mother earth, nourishing her and making her fertile.   Now that most women no longer give this offering to the mother she is malnourished and suffers deeply. However if we can all find our own ways to become more harmonious and connected with our partners, our people, our great mother and ourselves,  perhaps we can undo some of the damage done through disconnection and help bring healing through re-connection.

Tips for A Healthy Menstrual Cycle:

  1. It is important to keep your feet and midriff warm and covered.  This will prevent your womb from being chilled leading to blood stagnation and painful periods with clots and cramps.
  2. Keep food and drink warm for the same reason.
  3. Eat a diet that is primarily made of organic whole foods.  This includes: whole grains, fruit, vegetable, nuts, seeds, eggs, herbs and animal protein.  Stay away from processed foods and chemicals since they place a higher burden on the body and are not good for our health or the environment.
  4. Drink alcohol in moderation. [Aside: Personally, I would say not at all not everyone agrees.]
  5. Don’t smoke tobacco.
  6. Get regular exercise.
  7. Stay hydrated.
  8. Maintain an active sex life even if it is with your self.  It is a use it or lose it proposition when it comes to vaginal atrophy! [Aside: If this isn't an option for you for whatever reason, I recommend daily Kegels to maintain the strength, vitality, and integrity of your vagina and surrounding soft structures.  Sitz baths are also good for staving off pelvic]
  9. Allow yourself at least a portion of your life when your birth control doesn’t interfere with a normal menstrual cycle so you can connect with yourself, your power, your intuition and your body.
  10. Acupuncture and herbs are extremely helpful for normal hormonal regulation.
  11. Plan your food and activities according to your cycle and enjoy going with the flow.
  12. Try and get a least a few hours alone to rest and connect with your self while your are on your period.
  13. Don’t have penetrative sex during your period.  It can cause blood to get pushed backwards into the fallopian tubes and out the ovaries into the pelvis.  This can cause Endometriosis.  Right now the proper flow of blood is out and down.  Not up and inward.  This is especially important when the flow is heavy.  

May you enjoy living in this female body with all its subtlety, complexity and power.

Peace and love,
Laurel Brody, L.Ac.

Harmony Healing Center
9051 #D Mill Station Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 829-3658

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CAMTC Update

I checked my application's status on the CAMTC website.  So far, my DOJ and FBI results are in, as of last Friday.  Those should be perfectly squeaky clean since I've never done or been involved in anything (except apply for a massage license!) that has required fingerprinting, or would.

My transcripts have yet to be processed, as well as the application, itself.

Of course, once those are processed (read: entered to a computer), then they have to be reviewed by the the two-person Application Review and Disciplinary Committee.  Once it clears them, then and only then do I get my certificate and ID card.

I hate waiting so much.  It hasn't even been a week and I'm anxious and antsy.  It's not so much about the application itself because I'm reasonably confident that I'll be approved.  It's the promotional materials.  Fully half of the first page of my Vistaprint portfolio is a new set of business materials (cards, gift certificates, address labels, etc) that all say "Jena Vincent, CMT".  I want to order them now so they'll be here in time for my Infant Massage class so I can take them along and hand them out during/after the practicum hours.  Not that it matters so much because it's in Citrus Heights, which is two and a half hours away, but it's the principle of being able to finish teaching someone and saying "Thank you for coming, here's my card, please call me if you have any questions."  It's good customer service, it's good business, it's good practice.  The fastest shipping option Vistaprint has is 3 business days (and it would be close to $30 for one box of 250 cards), which means I would need to put that order in no later than the 10th, a week from tomorrow.

I'm going to be hoping and praying and checking my application status every day from now until then.  Ah, waiting.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nothing to do with massage or doula

Just a random announcement that I'm giving this a shot.  (Huzzah to my one follower!)

I'm on Day 2 of no 'poo so far, and I gotta say that I'm extremely impressed with how well the ACV does detangle my hair, and how soft it is.  I haven't felt my hair this soft in a long time.  I first read of letting one's hair return to its natural, un-shampooed state in Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal (great book, highly recommended, I have the hardcover) but I'd never had the guts to do it..  On page 146, in an aside, she tells about a summer in her early 20s when she didn't wash her hair very often as she hiked through Olympic National Forest (there were no vampires at the time.)  While she doesn't talk about going entirely shampoo free (she does give recipes for herbal shampoos), I was intrigued by her observation that her hair, after the adjustment period, seemed to "self-clean".  As I said, though, I wasn't brave enough to take the step.

But here I go!  I've always been very picky about my hair, what I do or don't use on it, and I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on hair products.  Anyone who has seen my shower can attest to the presence of 2-4 varieties of shampoo and conditioner at any one time, all for a different purpose: dandruff, clarifying, tinting/coloring, moisturizing, etc.  It's a lot of money, a lot of plastic, a lot of time and energy that could be spent on something else.  So I'm giving the BS/ACV method a shot through the month of March.  I expect I'll have to resort to headbands, clips, and barrettes to keep my bangs from freaking out too badly if things do get greasy, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I'll probably let you know more in a month.  Back to business.