This weekend I celebrate my certification in sports and orthopedic massage and mourn the closing of my phenomenal school, Boulder College of Massage Therapy. In one week I will be in the last graduating class of the college as we know it. As my teacher and mentor Nate Butryn points out, sometimes you have tear it down to build a stronger foundation, and we're confident that it'll return soon in a new iteration. The school is full of wonderful, strong-willed and brilliant teachers, with optimistic spirits, big dreams and the support from community to achieve them. While my heart goes out to those who are losing their jobs and the students who are struggling in the transition, my spirit is hopeful and looking forward to what's next.
For more information on BCMT's closing:
9 News story
Daily Camera article
Letter from Mary Rose: Mourning the loss of BCMT
The latest update from Dirk McCuistion, president of BCMT:
"We are trying to ensure when we re-open that we have 100% surety that the school is financially stable. The damage done by the DPOS directive to shut the school down is has been significant. We need to raise more capital (we have raised almost $1million to date) to guarantee we will win this fight and be viable. As difficult as it is please be patient, we all want to see the school come back. I will attempt to update you all daily. Please post and pin this to other official and unofficial BCMT sites. We need your support.... and your fundraising connections if you have any. I expect to have news in 24 to 48 hours."
Click here to stay updated on FB
Helping people with Alzheimers
November 4, 2012
Grandma remembered me, mostly. She introduced me to someone as her young cousin, then realized, “no, that isn’t right. You’re my…” “Granddaughter,” I finished for her. She smiled and chuckled. She did remember that I visited with the whole family two weeks ago. My aunt Sandy was in town and together with my mom she rounded up the rest of our family – another aunt, uncle and cousins. She enjoyed seeing everyone, and recognized them, mostly. When one of my cousins arrived late, Grandma introduced her to everyone. Grandma didn’t recognize her, and mom pointed out, “she belongs to Mark” (my uncle). She recognizes people and makes the connections when parents visit with their children or when couples come with each other. When Sandy first got into town, my stepdad Chris picked her up from the airport and brought her to visit Grandma. Chris has visited fairly often with my mother, but this time Grandma didn’t recognize him. Had my cousin come with Mark and had Chris come with Mom, she may have made the connection. It was an awkward dinner. My youngest cousin of 15 years didn’t even make eye contact with her. She was fiddling with her smart phone half the time, and during the brief moments they interacted she was looking down. The most awkward moment, with a long period of silence, came as everyone was leaving that night. Grandma said, “Thank you all for coming to say goodbye.” I was standing a few feet behind her and I wanted to put my hands on her shoulders, but I was afraid to startle her, coming from behind. Do you ever feel frozen in an awkward silence, with a stream of thoughts running through your mind but with no confidence or courage to say or do anything? My cousin in front of her simply said, “It’ll be ok, Grandma.” She’s dying slowly, with her cognitive functions diminishing.
My mom always asks her, “how are you today?” to which she replies, “Oh, the same as always I guess.” I hear she has bad days, but I haven’t seen her often enough to know what those are like. Shortly after that dinner, I went to another assisted living center with my BCMT class to work on elderly clients, including people in the reminiscence ward - people with dementia & Alzheimers. They have difficulty finding the right words. They enjoy massage, but when asked if they want one, they might respond, "no" or "I don't know." I spent at least 15 minutes with one woman at this center, who at first simply turned her head away when I asked if she would like a massage. She seemed engrossed in something happening across the room. I sat next to her, gently rubbed her shoulders, and a few minutes later noticed her hand twitching slightly, so I held it as I continued to rub her shoulders. When working with those who have trouble with language, noticing non-verbal cues is crucial. Being patient and working slowly are also important. After being with her for 10 minutes, which felt like a very long 10 minutes, she finally said that it felt good. Massage therapy improves the quality of life for those with dementia - reducing stress, depression and agitation - and all it takes is a gentle shoulder rub while being present, aware of their non-verbal cues and having patience. Touch is a basic human need. If you know someone with Alzheimers, practice your compassion and reach out a hand for them.
If you'd like to learn more about people with Alzheimer's, here are some interviews and some articles on new research:
The first thing we read when we walked into Michelle Howard's Kinesthetic Anatomy class was a Socrates quote - "Know thyself." We learned at BCMT about the limitations and possibilities of our bodies, hands and minds. We realized that we are stronger than we thought, capable of more than we thought. We learned to trust our intuition, to trust ourselves and our hands. We learned the importance of self-care, and discovered pain and patterns of tension in our bodies that we can now accept or work with to become stronger and more relaxed. We've become more playful... thinking back to that day of sound and toning in Integrative where we waltzed around the halls playing instruments, and we took our parade into the elevator. I think the sound of bells, whistles & drums helped clear the stale air. We've also become more open and confident in the past 9 months, as many of my friends have noticed.
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money, then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Thank you Melanie, for teaching us to live in the present. Thanks to everyone who taught us patience and slowing down.
For the parents out there concerned about our finances and theirs, I have to put in a plug about preventative care. We've learned to improve our posture, better our health and reduce our stress. 75-90% of visits to family physicians are for stress-related problems. Not only do massage therapists help ease tension in their clients, they tend to relieve their own anxiety when giving a massage. I've spent the last 4 years unsure of what career I wanted to pursue and hating my jobs in various fields. Back in March, I came home from career night giddy as a girl full of sugar going to Disney World. I realized I found my calling. In that first quarter at BCMT, I looked forward to learning something new every day, and I am confident that this was the best decision I have ever made. So thank you parents, family and friends for your support. Thank you, Wendy, for setting a good foundation with us in Shiatsu. Thanks to all of our excellent teachers for teaching us first how to heal ourselves so that we can help others more effectively. Thank you for helping us find ourselves.
Intuitive energy healer, massage therapist and somatic coach in Asheville, NC, bringing you insight and inspiration on healing and conscious living. Formerly in Boulder, CO.