On living this modern life, ‘Sleeping’

Usually I like to chat with my clients before or after their massage, and, often the noise of daily media, and constant need to be connected is a major cause of stress.

I’m at my best when I get at least 7 hours of sleep.

What happens to me, if I’m not careful, is I get sucked into a online controversy or reading through Twitter rants, and before I know it, BAM, it’s Midnight, and I have to wake up at 5am.

So I have to make it a point to unplug before bed.

If you think about it, unless it’s an emergency, (for most of us social media isn’t) there’s no reason to get sucked into a late night debate when you could be chilling out and winding down your brain.

Sleep is the time when our body recharges. For men, it’s said that the highest levels of testosterone happen during REM sleep.

Low testosterone can cause all sorts of stress and health issues for men.

Not everyone needs a full 8 hours, but most of us could probably do with more sleep that we get.

So that’s part of the changes I made for myself over the summer. More rest, more sleep, and just generally taking it easy.

I have quite a few personal goals I’ve set for myself, in the baby stages really, so being well rested is important. And I highly recommend that for anyone coming to see me for massage.

Make sure you’re hydrating, unplugging, and that you get enough sleep.

That’s really the only thing I’m allowed as an MT to suggest. 🙂

Just a thought…
Be well!

Brian

On self care, ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’…

Good day to you all,

I hope you all are doing well!

Me? I’m doing good! My next semester of school begins at the end of the month, and I’m excited to jump back into it after a much needed summer break.

On top of school, and planned palliative care training over winter (With the Heart Touch project) I’ll be finishing my first novel and going through the process of starting a micro book publishing business. It’s a busy time for me but a good time.

I will be taking online classes the entirety of this next semester. This will help me stay well rested during my studies, and have an open availability for massage.

So my hours are the same, 8am to 8pm. With final massage start time for new clients at 7pm for a 65 minute massage.

The other changes I’ve made are for my rates.

A 65 minute massage is $80 (from $75), and the 90 minute is $115 (from $100). I no longer offer 120 minute massage.

Even with the slight increase, I’m still inexpensive given the type of massage I offer. That flow-y, all body massage that you know and love. (Which now includes sensual elements on request.) I keep my rates below market for Los Angeles but still offer a quality massage that comes from clinical and spa training.

A therapeutic massage is always apart of every treatment.

~

Keeping the flow going in stressful times can be difficult.

Learning how to embrace calm is not something that suddenly happens, you have to work on it, practice it.

During a recent massage, my right shoulder stiffened up to the point that if I continued, there was a possibly I might injure myself. My flow was disrupted, and I felt it and stopped about 45-50 minutes into the session.

This is what I did, I stopped the massage.
I tried to explain, not so eloquently, that I wasn’t strong enough for the session and needed to stop.
I offered to refer the client to someone who could give them the type of massage I at that point couldn’t, and mentioned the other masseur to be ‘a bigger guy’.
I didn’t charge them for my time.

That all seemed reasonable to me, but the client took what I said to a dark place.

Especially when I mentioned that the other masseur was ‘bigger than me’. He assumed that was my way of saying that he was ‘fat’.  Upon leaving, he said, “You should say you don’t massage fat people in your ads!” and stormed out.

To say that I was shocked about his interpretation and reaction is an understatement. It left me floored but I didn’t feel bad about his dig for long.

On my side, I did everything as a therapist I was supposed to do.

The main thing is, I listened to what my body was telling me and stopped the massage before I possibly fucked up my shoulder. I can’t afford ANY downtime as an MT. And stopping the massage didn’t help my finances, but neither would getting messed up and not being able to work for a few weeks.

So that’s what I learned from THAT experience that I would like to pass to you.

I work on your bodies. And when you are on the table you are in my care. This is regardless of your height, disability, weight, race, hairiness or age.

It’s worth addressing because so many of us have experienced body shaming and prejudice in our lives.

When my client said what he said, I felt bad. But not because of anything I did to him.

I felt bad because I couldn’t apologize for what other people might have said or done to him in his lifetime. I can only respond to his anger with acceptance and kindness. (And an ‘Oh well, Fuck it!’ type of attitude.)

I work on all body types, all races, all ages. And most of the people I work on have some form of touch deprivation. And I address that with the most loving, connected touch I can muster.

But here is my personal rule…

I will not work on a client if I feel out of sorts, ill, sore or strained. There was a time when I was in a mad hustle and I went against that rule, to the detriment of my health and well being. And in effect, my massage.

So this is my wish for you. That if you ever feel strained, ill or out of sorts that you stop for a moment and listen to what your body is telling you.

(Exp, If you feel like you’ll fuck up your back if you try to move a stove on your own, it might be best to check yourself.)

This is an important form of self care.

If others get upset by you addressing your pain, then respond as kindly as you can.

But listen to your body. Always, listen to your body.

Thanks for reading!

With Respect,
Your MT, BCT

If you like what I write here you can tip me through the Venmo app! I do not use Venmo for massage payments, only for tips! All tips and contributions go toward helping with monthly expenses and education.

Brian Tolbert – @BCTolbert
Thanks for your kindness!

Massage Therapist or ‘Healer’?

“THE STRUGGLE IS REAL…”

Self employment as an MT in Los Angeles has had it’s fair share of challenges. As I begin my career, I feel a little frustration as I constantly see posts on FB from friends and acquaintances about how they had the best $15 massage, ‘It was so relaxing!’. I just don’t know how to compete with that, or to respond to their posts without throwing major shade. 🙂

The market here in Los Angeles is SATURATED with MT’s, Day Spas and Massage Parlours. Where is a bearded, newly born MT to go in a city that seems to understand the necessity of massage BUT is also looking to save a buck by bypassing you and going straight to the Red Lotus Inn for the $25 groupon special?

So I meditate and mull on what makes me different, why would you want my touch versus an 80-year-old Korean woman with a killer grip, or a half-naked masseur with 500,000 instagram followers and a bio on Smutjunkies? Why would you want The Humble MT versus a Reiki /  Shaman / Tantric master who specializes in energetic Yoni massage, or a Sports massage guru who promises to cure what ails you just by looking in your general direction?

Sigh.

So I guess step one for me, for my own peace of mind, is to relax and breathe into this as if I were performing a massage session for myself.  That tension I’m feeling is like a slight tightening in my glutes. I just got to knead and squeeze the hell out of it and then I’ll feel looser…

pet massage

Okay, so now that I feel a little bit looser, what exactly do I offer vs the other types of therapists above?

Essentially, we all offer the same thing, right?

Well, yes and no…

Not all types of  manual therapy is the same. While some people might do well with a simple touch massage, others will do better with a full on ROLFING. (Spits that word out with a exaggerated German accent for emphasis.) So not every therapist has the same type of touch. I tend to be energetic and connected, and depending on whom I’m working on the pressure of touch will just naturally adjust with the flow.

The type of massage I do is essentially a relaxation massage on steroids.

My thought regarding bodywork (in general) is that it is a necessary component for good health. Not just the manipulation of tissue that occurs during a straight forward massage, but the practice of touch therapy in general. The research of Tiffany Field regarding the benefits of touch is a good example. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiffany_Field).

I am a full-time private therapist now. And I enjoy the freedom that it gives me, but again, how to differentiate what I do vs. what they do?

A few fellow MT friends of mind have pointed out to me, that, essentially, we are all a ‘tribe of healers’. That sometimes the type of healing varies, and that some people will connect with you instantly. This isn’t a competition here. This is a community.

I appreciate that line of thought.

And adding to that, I say that I am not the healer, but that the client is. That ultimately what we are doing as bodyworkers is awakening the ‘healing energy’ that we all have, whether it be through a simple touch massage, energy therapies like Reiki, structural bodywork (that feels like you’re being run over by a steam roller), (Cough cough) Tantric massage (Cough), or just simply talking. We can help open the doors to that inner healer in you.

(Lights a little patchouli incense and sagely strokes on my beard.)

I’ll have to mull on this further. My thoughts regarding this subject will most definitely evolve. I question myself the more I learn, and the more I communicate with other MT’s. And I believe that to be a good thing.

A very good thing.

So now, back to work! Thanks for reading!

PS,
Any thoughts or words of wisdom from other MTs, ‘healers’ or seekers is much appreciated! But in keeping in line with the ‘healing comminity’ vibe, please leave any cynical shade in the lighting aisle at The Home Depot. Thanks a bunch for being awesome! 🙂

Yours in health,
Brian aka Cuojoe

 

 

My road to health, aka, “Why I stopped eating whole apple pies before going to bed…”

So, it’s October, the New Year is around the corner. For me, it’s a time when holiday invitations bring palatable dread. The temptation to overindulge is EVERYWHERE.

I have written about my ongoing battle with Type 2 Diabetes a little, but given the format that was a very condensed version of my story. I had abused my body by eating shitty most of my life, and the accumulative effect of that self-abuse lead me to have full-blown diabetes by the time I was 38.

There are a lot of people who have Type 2 Diabetes that don’t know it. Those particularly at risk tend to be low-income folk that might not have healthcare benefits. Or who have insurance, but don’t get regular check ups.

Over the past few years, as I’ve made the transition from duly employed office monkey to my pleasant but inconsistent life as a beginning freelance MT I haven’t had health insurance.

I generally consider myself to be a healthy eater, but since May my habits haven’t been the best. As a consequence, I began to feel ‘heavy’ inside, with an ever so slight malaise.  Also, I started feeling a light tingly to the skin, reminiscent to the electric shocks I felt from the neuropathy I suffered through when my symptoms were at their worst. (Like swimming in a swimming pool in Palm Springs at noon, it just didn’t feel good.)

I decided to go get a check up. I signed up for MediCal (the state of California’s version of Medicaid) and had a long overdue physical. A few days after my blood work came back. My blood sugar, that I thought I had under control, was now at around 400 mg/dl. 

The normal range should be 70-100 mg/dl, or around 135-140 mg/dl after a meal.

I had BBQ sauce for blood. 

Another downer, not helped by the high blood sugar at all, was my testosterone count was below 300. :-/ Which for a man’s health can be a very bad thing.

So, for the second time in my life, I have had to make the choice between eating empty calories (Whole apple pies before going to bed…), or eating for my health.

I spent a good half hour of shaming myself for being a dumbass. Then I went downstairs and cleared out my cupbaords of carbs. Crackers, flour for making baked goods, anything sweet and unnecessary, all gone.

For this last week, I have been weaning myself off the taste for carbs and sugar. All my meals have been low carb, and I only eat when I’m truly hungry. I drink plain water, unsweetened green tea and coffee, and water with citrus, vanilla and/or rose.

The past 5 days have been a mixture of heaven and hell for me. Already my body has been adjusting to this new way of eating. The main thing I notice is that the flavor in my food, like the subtle sweetness of lemon, mushrooms and salad greens are far more pronounced. With eating a breakfast full of fat I have less hunger by the afternoon that if I had a high carb breakfast. This morning I had an egg fried in brown butter, a side of mushrooms, red bell pepper, and a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese served on a 6 inch salad plate.

Everyone is different in their nutritional needs, for me I feel healthiest when I eat moderate amounts of red meat and pork, and foods like whole yoghurt and butter, nut butters without additives, garlic and onions, and green leafy veggies, bell peppers, beans, low sugar fruit like berries, and mushrooms.

For whatever reason, I have never been big on most fish, and I only eat chicken if it’s prepared by someone else, and will go for the fattier portions even then. My body thrives on healthy fatty food. So I’m eating a modified low carb cross between the Keto and Paleo diets.

So yeah, day six and I feel much better. But this isn’t a passing phase, this is my life now. As is my current focus on massage therapy and writing.

So as I finish up this post I wish you the best in your own journey to health, through diet, relaxation and massage! Hopefully my experience will help you somehow! Food is fuel!

Thanks for reading!

B.C. Tolbert, The Humble MT

1st Meal
My first ‘low carby’ meal a week ago. Well, with the exception of the beans and the sparse crotons. 🙂