To tat or not to tat, THAT is the question

Vintage-photograph-of-incredible-head-toe-ink-women-20s-30s-40s-11

AGMA decided to make a late mid-life career change in my 50’s.

Despite having an MBA, I never quite warmed to the politics of “How to Succeed in Business by Kissing Ass” scenario. I’m not a mover and shaker type. I’m not uber competitive. I deplore drama of any sort.

When AGMA first started working as a young adult, I believed that intelligence, integrity and hard work would bring success in the business world.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

When it dawned on me how incredibly naive I had been, I settled into a career as an underling in the IT department of an insurance company in Cincinnati for 20+ years. But AGMA was pretty happy being an underling. I was able to work part-time (much of it from home) in a professional position that allowed me to be around for my kids (can you say car pool queen?) and do lots of volunteer work while earning a decent salary.

It was all wonderful until Son#2 (the snarky, but oh so sweet one) had the nerve to go off to college. My company got a new CIO who did not approve of part-time at home workers, so I was “forced” to work (I shudder when remembering)…40 hours a week. Full time.

Oh, the humanity!

AGMA was a baby about it; I was miserable even though I loved my co-workers and was now making more money than I’d ever made.

Then Hubs got a promotion and had to move to Atlanta. AGMA didn’t want to move to Atlanta. I didn’t want to leave what had been my home for 30 years to start over. I didn’t want to leave my friends.

“But you can quit your job and not have to go back to work in Atlanta.” Hubs crooned softly in my ear.

Thems was powerful words.

Buh bye Cincinnati!

But of course, AGMA, being undiagnosed ADHD, got bored pretty fast.

After taking a hobby job at a upscale cookware retailer for several years, and stocking my kitchen with amazing cooking stuff (eat your heart out Alton Brown!), I got restless. I had this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else; something more meaningful than working for minimum wage selling $200 chef’s knives to people with lots of disposable income.

That something was becoming a theraputic massage therapist. Who knew?

Since AGMA graduated from massage school in 2009, I’ve been hopelessly happy with my career choice.

OMG – it’s about time!

My business has morphed from exclusively table work to now, almost exclusively corporate chair massage. And I love it!

I contract with a number of other MT’s who own their own businesses. They do all the marketing, billing, payment and recruiting. They are the ones who have the headaches associated with owning a small business.

All I do is show up and work.

It’s awesome because it fits in perfectly with my travelin’ ways. AGMA works when I want and turns down jobs when we fly off to wherever.

A MT works with far more people doing chair massage than doing table work. A typical chair session is 15 minutes. A table massage usually last an hour. So in at a 3 hour job, I will work on 11 or 12 people.

And AGMA comes in contact with a whole spectrum of folks when I’m doing chair massage. Actors, electricians, teachers, administrative assistants, CEO’s, graduate students… And they come in all sizes, colors, genders, ages, religions – you get the picture.

And a lot of them have tattoos. A. Lot.

Even the ones who look like they wouldn’t a tattoo will have little ones hiding on the their shoulder blade. How do I know this? Sometimes is necessary to pull down a clients shirt a little bit in back to work on their necks. I mean, you gotta do the neck – people hold crazy tension in their neck. So that can give a pretty good view of their upper back.

There are others who have tattoos all over their arms and back. I worked on one young lady last week who had huge wings tattooed on her upper chest. She also had tattoos on her arms. All up and down her arms. And her back. She was quite colorful!

So, of course, AGMA, feeling like I should be more colorful, is pondering getting another tattoo.

I thought the one I got last year would be my first and last. I’ve loved it from the first day I got it and have never had any buyers remorse. Every time I look at it, I smile.

I realize that I am delightfully not normal.

But AGMA needs to accelerate the decision making process. It took 13 years for me to decide what kind of a tattoo I wanted. 13 years from now, I’m going to be closing in on 80. I think I want to pull the trigger a bit sooner for my second one.

But what to get, what to get…? And should I even get another one? I mean, I’m not a spring chick anymore. More like an old cluck up.

I’m conflicted.

So whaddaya think? Do I have millennial envy? Or am I just a late bloomin’ Boomer? A really late Boomer bloomer… Should I listen to my head that says, “WTF?” Or should I follow my heart and become more colorful?

Aging gracefully my ass!

The cranked out massage therapist

awkwardmasseuse

So for those of you who don’t know, an element my late mid-life crisis was going back to school.  To become a therapeutic massage therapist.  At age 55.

With AGMA, the fun never stops.

I earned a BS in 1975 and an MBA in 1981.  Actually, BS pretty much describes both degrees.  As my dad used to say, “That and a dime will buy you a cup of coffee.”  He was always so supportive…  I marvel at that phrase as I drink my $5.25 mocha.

While I think I had the brains, I never had the political savvy, confidence and whatever else it is you have to have to climb the corporate ladder.  Like Bob, Stuart and Kevin, I was a minion working for an evil corporate empire.

But I was a pretty happy minion as I wrote in my early 2104 post On Haitus Inc.  I was able to work part-time in a professional job that paid a professional salary.  Sweet.  And it allowed me to be at home quite a bit while my kids were growing up, and do the sports mom and school volunteer thing.  Not sure my kids were so thrilled, but I loved it.

But after the baby birds flew the nest, I went back to work full-time in 2002.  It had been 30 years since I’d worked full-time outside the home.  Now THAT was a shock to the system.  I felt like I was being water boarded at GTMO.   What do you mean, I have to come into the office EVERY day?

I was ripe for the picking (some may even say a little spoiled) and my husband knew it. He lured me to move to Atlanta with the enticing promise that I could quit my full time miniondom.

After floating around for a few years in the ATL doing odd jobs, I felt a calling to learn therapeutic massage.  This mystified my family and friends.  And me. I  grew up in a very Germanic household where nobody touched anybody.  And if you, horror of horrors, accidentally brushed against someone, apologies abounded.  The idea of massaging strangers seemed a bit improbable if not impossible.  To be honest, I was a little worried…

But sometimes you just have to go with those promptings of the spirit and get out of your head.  So I did.  I went with it and graduated from MT school in 2009.  It’s one of the best decisions I ever made.  Whew…

So what’s this about being cranked out?

I can hear some of you saying, “But AGMA, shouldn’t you be incredibly happy that you’re doing something you love?”

It’s really not that I’m cranky.  Okay, so my husband might not agree with that.  But when it comes to my profession, I’m just a bit sensitive.

I think it’s because I’m too old to deal with some people’s attitudes about massage therapists.  Age is liberating like that.  One of the many things about getting older that I love.

Unless French is their native tongue, I get kinda cranked out when somebody calls me a “masseuse”.    Please don’t call a legitimate, licensed therapeutic massage therapist a “masseuse”.  Please.  Especially if they are going to work on you in the near future.

We know spots on the human body that are very, very ouchy tender and we just might “accidentally” put a bit too much pressure on them.  And it doesn’t matter how big and bad you are – I can have you whimpering like a puppy faster than you can say “I didn’t mean to call you a masseuse. You’re a massage therapist!”  It’s like Mr. Spock’s Vulcan death grip thing.  A lot like it as a matter of fact.

A masseuse is a person you find in back classified section of the local hipster paper that works at a place called Sensual Sensations or something like that.  Or you can find a masseuse on Craigslist – in the “for adults only” section.  Or on that Ashley Madison website.

I bet Josh Duggar had a masseuse…

A masseuse isn’t licensed (for massage therapy, that is), doesn’t carry professional liability insurance (for massage therapy, that is) and never went to school (for massage therapy, that is.)  A masseuse will pretty much always be under the care of a doctor for a variety of irritating, nasty little rashes in “private places” that just don’t ever seem to go away.  Eww.

Got the picture?

And never, ever even think the words “happy ending” when you are around a professional in the therapeutic massage field.  Never.  Ever.  We can read minds.  Vulcan death grip, remember?

Although we hope it never happens, we are taught in our ethics classes how to professionally respond to a client’s “inappropriate” behavior.  This is a good thing for the younger therapists.

But again, I’m just too freakin’ old to put up with that kind of nonsense.  There might be a possibility that an inappropriate male client could leave my therapy room with their voice a few octaves higher than when they entered.  Accidents happen, you know?

So I’m not really cranky.  Not really.  I just want my profession and fellow, legitimate practitioners to be respected for their healing abilities and not to be viewed as the target of tasteless jokes and innuendo or worse.

Massage therapy has been used in as a tool for wellness for millennia.  It’s an alternative and complementary therapy that involves no invasive surgeries or big pharma.  It treats the whole person and helps bring mind, body and spirit back into balance.  Research has proven that it can help reduce the pain felt by a cancer patient and reduce the intensity of the side-effects of chemo.  It can improve sleep patterns in the general population.  It relaxes and de-stresses, and helps the adrenals recover.  It can calm an agitated Alzheimer’s patient.  It can save a patient from having carpel tunnel or shoulder surgery.  And on and on and on…

Pretty cool eh?

Okay, so maybe I’m just a little tiny bit cranky.  But it’s in that endearing AGMA sorta way.

And you gotta love that.

The paradox of the neck waddle

fat-personal-trainer

AGMA’s been quiet lately.  No posts.  No reading of any of her favorite bloggers.  No comments made or answered.  I hate that.

But all my time and energy for the past few weeks has been focused on something that I needed to get out of the way.  Like seriously get out of the way.

Last September, I signed up for personal trainer certification program.  Somewhat ironic and absurd since I’ve never had any interactions with a personal trainer in my life.  And it has been years and years since I’ve been to a gym.  You can kind of tell by looking at me.  Okay, you can definitely tell…

“Why then?” you might well ask.  There is a method to AGMA’s madness.  This time at least.

As a therapeutic massage therapist/bodyworker – the legit kind – I need to be able to give my clients corrective exercises that will stretch the over-active (tight) muscles and strengthen the under-active (weak) ones.  Legally.

Ah – there’s the rub… (no pun intended)

Massage-world trivia you didn’t know and couldn’t care less about – assigning corrective exercises to clients is out of a massage therapist’s “scope of practice”.  At least in the US.  No can do.  Nah baby nah.  AGMA could get into some seriously hot water if she gives out an exercise and her client get’s hurt doing it.  And complains to the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy.  And sues AGMA.  Boiling water.

Giving corrective exercises is definitely in the scope of practice for a CPT (certified personal trainer.)  The light begins to dawn…

AGMA likes to follow the rules.  Most of the time.  And she likes to help her clients as much as she can.  Hence the CPT journey by the woman who looks least likely to simply go to a personal trainer, let alone be one.  Life is strange.

I had six months to complete the book/online course and take the exam.  My drop dead date was March 11th.  After that date, I would have to pony up an additional $600 for another go at it.  $600 is almost a round trip ticket to Dublin.  Thank God I have my priorities straight.

I took the test on March 10th.  Of course. No need to rush these things.

While I did all of the reading and online videos spread out over the past six months, the last few weeks have been spent exclusively cramming for my test.  Well…and doing the other very basic “stuff” that one needs to do to simply survive each day.  Work, eat, sleep, Skype with my grandson, watch The Big Bang Theory…

When I first started really seriously studying, I almost gave up.  It seemed neurologically impossible for me to store that much information in an already over-stuffed, under-active, aging brain.  For one brief instant, contrary to her nature, AGMA wanted to quit.

But $600 is a big motivator.

So I crammed.  And I did the online flash cards and the practice tests.  I condensed key information on study sheets.  And would pull out the study sheets at stop lights to review.  Did I mention I can get a bit manic?  You may have guessed that by now.

It worked.  I passed.  Yippee.

I can now proudly put CPT behind my name along with LMT, MBA.  Oh – and BS too. The BS is probably the only one that truly captures AGMA’s essence.

So here I am.  A paradox.  A 60 something woman with a thick mid-section, cellulite infested thighs, flabby, jiggly upper arms, and a substantial neck waddle who is now a personal trainer.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

But I’m inspired.  The day after I passed my test, I resolved to lose 25 lbs.  And I threw down the gauntlet in a very public way.  I put it out there on Facebook for the world to see.  Or at least the 20 or so people who actually follow my FB posts.

Today is the third day of tracking calories.  Ugh.  I’m using MyFitnessPal.com and their Android app.  It allows you to  scan the barcodes of food with your phone camera and capture all the nutritional information.  It makes tracking what you eat easy peasy.

Damn.

Scanning the barcodes is fun ’cause I’m pretty easily amused.  But actually seeing how many calories, how much sugar and how much fat are in the foods that I have been eating isn’t so much fun.

It explains a lot.

I’m sure a new, svelte AGMA is right around the corner.  Or down the block.  Or maybe in the next town over.  We’ll see…

I’m just glad the I passed the test, get hang with my blogging buds once again and can afford go back to Dublin!  At the end of the month.

How many calories are in a Guinness again?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In Search of a 15 Hour Energy Drink…

batmanmasseuse

Life has been crazy these past few months.  Good crazy.  Mostly.

One casualty of the busy has been that I haven’t been posting on AGMA very much.  The other is that I haven’t had time to read all of your wonderful blogs.  I hate that.

I went on two wonderful trips to Europe.  Did I mention I love to travel?   My question now is, why did I come home from the first one?

Looking back, it made no sense to fly over and back twice, endure jet lag twice, do all that packing and unpacking twice.  The trips were five weeks apart.   It would have been so much more practical for me to have hung out in Europe for those extra five weeks.  Duh.  So common sense, right?  My husband, who is the founder of my travel feasts, might not agree.  He’s such a buzzkill…

So at the same time I’m packing and unpacking, getting over jet lag and trying to find somebody to feed the cats, I was also in the middle of learning a complicated new clinical soft tissue manual therapy technique.

What the hell?

Oh, haven’t I ever mentioned that I’m a clinical soft tissue manual therapist (CSTMT)?  Let me use another term that you might be more familiar with as long as you promise to respect me in the morning…

Massage therapist.

That first word carries soooo much baggage – I cringe when I have to use it to describe what I do.  Now honestly, didn’t your eyebrows go up just a little bit?  See…

My journey of becoming a massage therapist at 55 is a long story. It’s all part of the plan NOT to age gracefully.  But that’s another blog post.

So to be clear, I’m not the type of massage therapist who advertises in the classified section in the back of The Riverfront Times or Creative Loafing, or on Craigslist.  And whatever you do, never, EVER call me a masseuse.  My eyes glaze over, roll up into their sockets, and I lose all bladder and bowel control.  It’s not a pretty sight.

Anyway, I took a five day class to learn this fabulous new technique. It’ll help me help my clients resolve issues like frozen shoulder, carpel tunnel syndrome, runners knee, planter fasciitis, IT band issues and more, all without expensive unnecessary surgical intervention.  This is the stuff dreams are made of for this AGMA CSTMT!

The class is just the beginning.  To become proficient, I’m spending hours and hours studying the technique, complementary techniques and working on “guinea pig” clients.  Hey – I give them a big price break…

Plus, now I’m studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).  Good Lord…  I’m doing it because I need to be able to “legally” give corrective exercises to my clients as part of this new technique.  In most states, giving exercises to clients is out of the scope of practice for a massage therapist.  Translation – I can lose my license and/or get my ass sued off if a client hurts themselves doing one of the exercises.  I can’t even guesstimate how many hours getting my CPT certification will take.

The icing on the “Is AGMA going crazy and why hasn’t she been posting much or been reading my blog?” cake is that I threw a big, elaborate baby shower for my daughter-in-law last weekend in Ohio. I live in Georgia.  I literally couldn’t move on Monday and Tuesday. I was one tuckered puppy.

Oh yeah – the holidays are coming, the grandson is due to arrive in December and I’m training to run my first marathon in February.

I figure I can sleep in my 70’s…