Got Health?


365138027_origWe all have health of one kind or other.



Some bad, some good, some indifferent. That condition changes daily, or even hourly.



What many of us don’t have is health insurance. I’m not sure what health insurance looks like, exactly, except where it pertains to me. It’s fairly dear, health insurance, though not necessarily in dollar terms.



I’m not talking about insurance for paying medical bills. I don’t have any of that, although I am off the hook as far as the tax penalty for not having federally mandated coverage is concerned.



The VA saw to that, and thank them very much.



You wouldn’t have thought just five years of my life all those decades ago would pay so many dividends, but it did.



But having somewhere to go when (and if) I get sick or hurt, or even having someone to help me pay for treatment if that happens, which is the purpose of medical insurance, is not HEALTH insurance.



I haven’t been to a doctor, apart from the dentist, in over five years. That isn’t me  just above, by the way, nor am I the guy in the first photo, though I’m working on it. I’m somewhere in between, but one thing that keeps me healthy is working out regularly.



Here you go – this is my health insurance, and like I said, it’s not cheap. Yeah, I do cook it, but from fresh, as much as possible. And as little starch as possible.



Although I don’t deprive myself of the finer incarnations of wheat and barley entirely.



Then, along with a bit of massage for yours truly once in a while …



Some sunshine on the beach …



A few concerned friends who made sure I didn’t miss out on the VA medical help …




And a little bit of luck …




I might just make it long enough to add my own tuppence and then some to the craft of massage and body work. Let’s hope so, right?

That is all.

Mark out.









New Job in a Chiropractor’s Office

When I was in school I had thought about working in a chiropractor’s office, at least part time, to get experience and to learn medical massage techniques. And until I get accustomed to working long hours in a row, and day after day, doing the sort of deep tissue work required in that kind of setting anywhere near full time would burn me out in very short order.

So earlier this week I stopped at  school, Pensacola School of Massage Therapy, and talked to Judy, the director. I asked if she could recommend any chiropractors where I could drop off CVs, and she gave me the names of three offices. I polished my CV and printed some copies, along with a cover letter, and made the rounds.

By the end of the day I had two call backs, which thrilled me right down to the ground. Wednesday and Thursday I interviewed with Dr. McGrath, including a half-hour massage on Thursday evening, and Thursday night he offered me a job! He wants me two afternoons a week, which is perfect for right now.

Working short periods of time at this doctor’s office allows me to keep up with things at Emerald Coast Massage Specialists, and also I will be open to accepting a similar position at the other chiropractor’s office. I spoke to her, the other chiropractor, for quite a while Tuesday, and I’ll meet with her and give her a massage on Monday.

Hopefully I’ll be able to work for her as well, and then expand my hours both places over time.

I still will be doing clinical massages at Gulf Coast Primary Care every other Saturday, and perhaps I can pick up some medical techniques at the new job that I can use over there.

But the best thing about this new job is that someone I didn’t know last week hired me to do professionally something I didn’t know how to do at all 18 months ago, and that makes me unbelievably happy.

That is all.

Mark out.

If It Feels Good …

I spent all day Saturday giving half-hour massages at a clinic on Nine Mile Road. It was a great experience, despite the two no shows.

And I can’t really imagine that – not showing up for a massage. Sure, miss your procto exam, totally space that two-hour root canal thing, forget you agreed to meet your life insurance agent for coffee, but not show up for a massage?

You get a massage because it feels good! Doesn’t it?

I’ve never had one that didn’t. Even amateur massage feels good; even when Sean used me for a test dummy for Sports Massage class and twisted me up like a pretzel and did something called the Peanut Grinder on me, even THAT felt good once I decided he really didn’t intend to leave me permanently with my left foot behind my right ear.

Intentional, therapeutic, goal-oriented touch feels good, and it’s good for you.

But unfortunately there’s a pseudo philosophy or quasi-ethos whose main principle is that what feels good probably isn’t good for you, and conversely that in order to feel good one has to first feel bad. Sometimes the espousers of this philosophy are correct, though not always.

Alcohol and recreational drugs, and even prescription drugs, make you feel good but they really aren’t good for you. Junk food makes you feel good for a bit, but definitely isn’t good for you. (I do draw the line at Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which, if taken in moderate doses, will in fact make one immortal.)

Then of course I could talk about sex, or TV, or films, or trashy novels, or the internet, all of which have abuse potential, along with the potential to make us feel good, if only temporarily.

And then there is medicine, and the practice thereof. Its entire reason for being is to make us feel good, or to get us back up to functional normal. But a lot of the stuff medical doctors, chiropractors, psychiatrists, acupuncturists, dentists and so on do to us in the course of treatment doesn’t feel good at ALL.

They tell us it’s just a pinch; there may be a bit of nausea/swelling/discomfort; when I shoot this in you may experience something similar to burning napalm in your rectum; this may taste exactly like toxic factory waste, but it’s for your own good!

It’s as if the more horrific the treatment, the surer the cure, and I just don’t buy that.

Sure I get down deep in clogged up, jacked up muscles, and sort them out. Every therapist I know does. You should hear Ted’s clients yelling some mornings. But they love him and they come back week after week, and frankly I think the yelling is just to reassure Ted that the client appreciates what he’s doing, and that he’s on target.

But feeling better can feel good right from the start, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You don’t have to suffer, or feel bad in order to feel better. The protagonist’s descent into hell and subsequent renewal is great as metaphor and as story device, and some really good authors have used it.

Only you don’t have to. Go find a massage therapist and tell him or her, or me for that matter, that you want to feel better NOW.

Chances are he or she or I will sort you out straight away, and send you off a bit drained but all smiles.

That is all.

Mark out.

Clinical Massage

All the massage I do is more or less clinical, as opposed to spa massage. I work at Emerald Coast Massage Specialists which isn’t a spa although it has somewhat of a spa atmosphere – quiet, nice pictures on the walls, low lighting and good music.

But even when a client asks for relaxation massage I always find out, or simply find, that there is something that needs therapy, some muscle not acting right, some painful area, some reason to do more than fluff and buff.

And then this past Saturday I worked in an actual clinic. I was supposed to simply shadow Sean, watch what he did with clients referred by their physicians, but I wound up doing 5 half-hour sessions.

Obviously these folks have clinical problems, and their doctors prescribed massage therapy to treat whatever is going on. Some are car crash victims, and some just folks who have ongoing muscle issues of one kind or other.

But regardless what the client is there for, it’s my job to make him or her feel better, even if I have to make him or her feel worse for a few minutes. Very often treating muscles that hurt requires hurting them in a good way, a retraining and restructuring way, to help them respond and rejuvenate.

And honestly, if done right, it really does feel better when it quits hurting.

Then there are times when no matter how deep I dig into someone’s muscles, the client responds with, “Yeah, that’s good,” or something similar. These usually are people who are in pain all the time, and even just a different sort of pain for a while seems a relief.

Anyway, my point is that doing what I do makes people feel good, or at least better, and that makes me feel better.

That is all.

Mark out.

Picnic Table Massage?

Sure. Why not?

True, a picnic table isn’t a massage chair, let alone a massage table, but if your client, i.e., one of your friends and coworkers at the company picnic, were to sit on the attached picnic table bench and lean his or her head on his or her arms, folded on the tabletop, one perhaps could give a sort of chair massage.

I could in fact, and did this afternoon. Most of my friends/coworkers at the census gathered at a local recreation area for a sort of winding down bash and cookout, and a few of them didn’t know yet that I got my license. I rectified that omission in short order, passed out business cards, and then gave several of them 7- or 8-minute chair massages, or a version thereof.

All were impressed including my boss, who, when he found out what I do said he would NEVER let a guy give him a massage. He did hold out until the last, and only broke down after watching everyone else moan and sigh, and then ooh and aah over what I did for them.

It felt really good to me as well, and although I hadn’t worked on anyone since before graduation in March, I don’t think I lost much of my zing, my ability to make real contact with people. Either that or I simply got it back really quickly.

The charcoal grilled burgers were quite excellent too, and the weather could not have been better if it were made to order.

That is all.

Mark out.


License number MA59253.

By law I have to put that on anything where I say my name and ‘massage therapist.’ Absolutely no problem there, and not for nothing but 59253 is the zip code for Peerless, Montana. How perfect is that?

I had Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream for pudding after tea this evening, and not just because I called the state health department today and found out that I’m legally entitled, nay, obligated, to rub people the right way.

I ate the ice cream also because it’s so flipping hot outside one would think it’s summer already.

So yes, I am totally and irredeemably psyched to finally have my license, and I’m not even going to bore you with all the history of how I came to get it, and the hardships and false starts, and what-have-yous of that which went before.

Suffice it to say I did it, I finished the course and I kept the faith, and I only want you to know that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship between me and every single person who trusts me to work on his or her body.

I’m trained, I’m educated, I’m eager, and I am determined never to let down the men and women who put themselves in my hands. You will be the only item on my agenda for the full hour – or half, or the 15 minutes of post-race sports massage, or whatever. I FOCUS!

My friends and loved ones already know they will have my undivided attention when I put the massage hat on – okay, the massage tee shirt – and that there’s no such thing as a free lunch or a free massage from Mark. You’re paying for our lunch, and dinner too maybe, after I work those corrugated, galvanized knots out of your neck, and I’m not kidding.

So here I am, boys and girls, all revved up and so many places to go I scarcely know where to start.

I have the office at Emerald Coast Massage Specialists, 1198 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, Florida, where I’ll work with Sean and Ted and Gail and a few others, including a chiropractor and an acupuncturist.

I’ll be doing home visits at special rates in my apartment complex, Northwoods, a rather vast but attractive array of buildings at the very north end of 9th Avenue in Pensacola.

Also I mentioned that I got my license to Tische, the woman who cut my hair today, and I’ll talk to her boss at Cuts By Us to see if I can work out of their salon over on Davis Highway a few days a week.

Then there’s the big senior care center just down the street on Olive. Old people need massage just like everyone else, and probably more – no, definitely more, and I know because I’m old.

I’ll get over there and talk to the manager as soon as I get my tax permit for Escambia County. I’ll do that tomorrow, the tax permit, and I need one for Santa Rosa County too, for Gulf Breeze.

So much to do; so glad finally to be doing it. Many thanks to my friends and family who supported and sustained me while I got this far.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life as a massage therapist, and the entire world is quite literally in my very talented hands.

That is all.

Mark out.

Truckin’ – Got My Chips Cashed In

I made another healthy stride toward getting this massage business off the ground today. Wish I could say I had got my license, but this is really a lot more spectacular and a heck of a lot prettier than a slip of blue and white paper.

Pictured above is my brand new, to me anyway, 09 Chevy HHR truck in candy apple red, or darn close to it. I had thought to get it in silver but the one they had was two years older and not at all in good shape.

I thought I would have to haggle, but the dealer immediately accepted my offer of two grand less than they asked for so I drove it home. Still I had to cash in quite a few rainy day chips to make this work.

The interior is roomy, as one might expect of a station wagon, which is how this model is listed on the title. The design is based on Chevy’s panel truck from the 40s and is very similar to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. PT stands for Panel Truck – I think – and HHR stands for Heritage High Roof, a high roof being what the old panel trucks had I suppose.

This roof is plenty high, for my head anyhow, and my massage table, folded in half and in its heavy duty canvas cover, fits flat and exactly into the back gate without having to put the rear seats down. Along with that there is plenty of room for my roll bag full of linens and lotions and whatever else I need to schlepp around.

I’m going to get magnetic signs with Emerald Coast Massage Specialists printed on them for the doors, and maybe one for the rear gate so people behind me can read it.

This is another head-turner vehicle, though maybe not to the extent the Firebird was. Speaking of which, I need to sell that soon.

I love the way the HHR handles and it has a lot of pep for a small engine, which gets great gas mileage, over 30 mpg, a lot more than any SUV out there.

But as far as I’m concerned this is a truck, or at least the closest to one I’ll ever own, and it has a name, Annie. I already referenced one song in this bit so I won’t say much about “Tomorrow,” though I do like the optimism in that piece.

It just happens that someone very near and dear to me has the middle name Ann (she thinks this vehicle is HUGE but she is English and lives in England) and she suggested I call it by that name.

That absolutely works for me, and it’s nice to be back truckin’ on, and on.

That is all.

Mark out.