Massage Client Sick Policy

My dear clients:

If you or an immediate family member has been sick in the last 48 hours, please reschedule your appointment. If a fever was involved, do not reschedule before the fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.

If you are sick on the day of your massage, contact me via Facebook, text, or phone to cancel. My standard cancellation policy of 24 hours will not apply in the case of illness.

Please see my Room Turnover Procedure and feel free to ask any questions you may have.

Thank you, and I wish you good health!

-Andrea Engel, RN, LMT

2020 Lab Test Results – Vegan Diet

This year I am right on top of checkups, screenings, and physical therapy. Right out of the gate I had some blood testing done to see how nearly 3 years on a plant exclusive diet is working for me. There was a period of a few weeks at the start of 2019 where I brought back eggs and wild game, but all it got me was dizzy, constipated and depressed. Back to the beautiful plants for me 🙂 I have a surgical procedure planned for April of 2020, so I popped the hood to take a peek and see if I need to course correct.

I have had high cholesterol every time I’ve had it tested. I never had a normal result. However, in my “paleo” days it was 314 total (2014) and then 294 total (2017).  Going plant-based in 2017, I was able to drop it by 92 points in 3 months. For reference, I take no prescription drugs.

And then I got relaxed about added oils. And nuts. And well, it’s high again. I do so much better when I keep the fat low. I even notice easier periods and better athletic performance when I keep it low fat. Before we blame genetics…. nope. I had my DNA tested. I cannot blame anyone but my own self because I do struggle with food addiction.

I’ve never gotten my vitamin D in a normal range. I have increased my dosage based on these results to 4000iu daily, but it’s chronically very low. Has been for at least a decade.

I do supplement B12. I understand “meat animals” are supplemented with B12 and also get it from soil, which is where humans used go get it. I hear debate about the necessity, but I’d rather not take chances. My D supplement contains K2. I bleed very heavily on my monthly cycle, and have for the better part of 34 years now (yay!), so I take Floradix to supplement iron. Those are the absolutes. I rarely use protein powders.

I have to say, I get asked where I get my protein so often, if I had a nickel for every time, I’d be a rich woman! Haha! aerialObviously I get sufficient amounts from plants. Read the book Proteinaholic or The China Study if you want to learn why more isn’t better. My protein levels are great. Calcium great. Hemoglobin A1C (long-term blood sugar control) stellar. Oh and I eat primarily carbohydrate! Fresh, delicious, juicy fruit. Every day. In general, it’s looking great except cholesterol. I’ve dropped added oils and cut back on nuts. I’ll retest later this spring.

Other than that, I’m hovering around 130# at 5’1″. I have a good amount of muscle. Blood pressure normal. As I said, no prescription drugs. Plenty of energy to get through my very active days.  Far less struggles with depression. I feel like I’m on an even keel most of the time. Even in the dead of winter. My only complaints are chronic pain (12 years now and still trying to figure it out) and bloating (same amount of time). I think I’m doing pretty dang good at 45 years old. I have certainly come a long way.

 

labslabs

 

 

2020Labs

Three Words for 2020

It’s time for a new ritual. I heard about this on a massage business podcast a couple of days ago and fell in love with the idea. Instead of resolutions, choose 3 words to guide your next year. Find more information about it here: https://chrisbrogan.com/3words2019/

I’ve set a reminder on my calendar for June 10, 2020, to check in and see how I’m doing. And, here are my 3 words.

  1. Save. While I am happily debt free as of late 2018, I’m not the best at saving. I could do better. I have an expensive goal this year and since I no longer do debt, I need to save. This means considering every grocery and Amazon purchase. Setting a grocery budget. Not ordering from Amazon on a whim unless it’s a household staple I’m low/out of and it saves money to get it there. I will not compromise my health to get there, though! When I’ve met my major goal, I’m to continue socking it away for savings. My work schedule is crammed full until October and it’s only the beginning of January, which I am incredibly grateful for!
  2. Focus. There are times I want to do everything all at once. In my business life, I want to take continuing education courses for soooo many irrelevant things I likely won’t even use. It costs me time and money. For 2020, my continuing education is focused on ashiatsu and cupping.AerialExercise is another area. I love several forms and get distracted. My chronic pain issues make running a no-go right now. My goals are to be able to hang with my peers on the mountain bike, to use a pole, aerial yoga, and yoga for strength. Unfortunately, for almost a year now, I’ve had pain in my left shoulder (and my left foot). Even yoga irritates it. I’m scheduled for physical therapy starting this coming week to try to sort it out, but it’s been a full decade of connective tissue crap. I’ve been doing resistance bands and stretching on my own for 8 months and it’s still messed up. All this to say, whatever I need to do to get to my goals is what I should be doing. That means physical therapy, and getting my heart rate up at least 3x/week.  Trying to run a 5k or embark on an exercise program that I hate but I think it will help my booty pop is a waste of my time. If it doesn’t bring me joy or get me to the activities that bring me joy, I need to say no.
  3. Confidence. In my day-to-day, I feel more confident than ever before. However, there are some scenarios that I find myself in where I’m hiding or battling all-out anxiety. Video recordings of me, for example. So…. in January I’m doing 4 live video vegan meal prep demonstrations. Gives me butterflies just thinking about it. I don’t know why. It’s like I get so anxious I forget my damn name! I’ll force myself to do it until I can embrace that whole thing.The other area is with my body. After 3 kids and obesity, even at a healthy weight I am forever tucking my loose belly and trying to hide it. What’s more, I have never been able to pull off looking nice in a normal bra due to some major asymmetry. I’m not talking a little bit. I know full well that my husband accepts me just as I am and I appreciate that, but I’ve decided I’m worth the investment of surgery to get rid of my loose skin and even up “the sisters”. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve put in the effort. If I’m halfway through my life with this body at 45, I don’t want to be fidgeting with my clothes the whole next half. I’m ready to shine.

I may edit this as the year progresses, but it is January 5th as of this first writing and this is what has been on my mind.

ALSO, on New Year’s Eve I wanted to really let something go. Leave something that no longer serves me in the last decade. I’ve been a binge eater as long as I can remember. I wrote “addictive behaviors” on a piece of paper and gave it to the fire to take away. May I never again binge on food. I deserve better than that. Time to get out of my own way, grow up, and seek out higher coping skills.

May we all continue to evolve, grow, and expand <3

Love and light to all of you!

Launching a Successful Massage Practice

Now that I’ve been in business for over 2 years, keeping my schedule full for 3-4 months solid at a time, I feel it’s time to share some of what I did to get to this point.

First of all, I attended Health Touch School of Massage. It is a 650 hour course over 10 months. It was excellent. I got so much out of it, and even though I came from the background of Registered Nurse, I found it quite challenging! I can’t recommend them enough. They’re located in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Let me set this up by painting the picture of my community. Rhinelander is a small town in northern Wisconsin. It’s pretty blue collar in relation to the surrounding towns that tend to be more touristy. There are about 8500 residents and when I started, about 10 local massage therapists. One was just leaving the area and sent some clients my way, which helped tremendously. After 3 months in practice, I was seeing 1-2 clients most days but not nearly as busy as I wanted to be. I was offering classic massage, hot stones, and deep tissue. Pretty standard issue. I was renting a small room in the city, but not super happy with the building. It looked like an old crappy house and smelled a bit like basement all the time. The room was so small I could easily touch all the walls with one hand on the client.

One insomniac night, I popped on to the Facebook group The Art of Building a Successful Massage Practice. There was a reference to the book 60 Clients in 60 Days and before I knew it, I had downloaded it on Kindle and read the whole thing. This was on October 31, 2017 according to Amazon. Basically, the idea is to give away free samples of massage and in getting people on your table, they are likely to want to come back. So, I ordered like 250 gift certificates for 30 minute sessions and started a list of where I’d like to drop them off for local business to maybe give their clients or employees. One of the places I stopped was Serenity Health & Wellness. The owner and I clicked, and she happened to have a much nicer room for rent. It was an easy decision to move. While I waited for certificates to arrive, I had a crazy idea….

I put an ad on Facebook Marketplace. Free 30 minute massage sessions. Upgrade to an hour for $25. I set up a coupon code in my online scheduler. This was on November 3rd. November 4th I was up and out early to provide chair massages 2.5 hours away. I was so busy all day I didn’t have time to deal with my schedule blowing up, but it blew up! I had to cap the freebies at 100. I was booked for nearly 5 weeks, just like that. 6-8 clients per day starting on Monday, November 6th. Many people were just there to try the free half hour. Some tipped, some did not. Some upgraded and some did not. I had to try to squeeze in my few established clients and continue to work as a nurse one day per week. It was absolutely nuts. And, IT WORKED.

I haven’t been booked solid for less than 2 months out since then. Most of my regular clients were a result of that insanity. Now I’m usually 3-4 months out with about 15 contact hours per week, 4 days, and I’ve transitioned it to mostly 90 minute sessions. I see 2-3 clients most days. I now work from home exclusively.

In January 2018 I learned ashiatsu. My hands and shoulders were not liking the requests for more pressure, and it just made sense to use gravity+body weight+my feet to get the job done. Most people in this small

Sarga

town never heard of ashiatsu. I can guarantee you that if I had a service menu offering classic, deep tissue, and ashiatsu, people would not choose ashi-whatsu??? I simply let my clients know that I use my hands, feet, hot stones and cupping, and if anything was uncomfortable in a bad way to please say something and I’d adjust. Funny thing is, even the people who are feet-phobic have come around to the benefits of receiving a massage by foot. Try it out if you haven’t. It’s next level.

Because my body is my body, I went on to develop a shoulder impingement by reaching overhead all day, so now I’m settled pretty well into Sarga Bodywork. Again, I don’t offer separate services. Or upcharges. I have my prices for 75, 90, or 120 minute sessions and they include all the things. Hot towels, hot stone, aromatherapy, cupping…. I go with the flow and what my client wants/needs that day but I only have one gal that has not tried massage by foot yet. She’s in her 70’s. I’m just glad she continues to come to me so I don’t push her.

In Summary:
1. Set up an online scheduler. I’ve been happy with Square for for a couple of years now. It’s free. I used to just do 30 minutes turnover, but by the time I would check out/turn my room over/check in the next client I barely had time to go to the bathroom! Now I do 45. I’m tired of feeling rushed.
2. Be sure to block out time for breaks and existing, paying clients!! I did not, and that was unwise!
3. Make a coupon code in your scheduler.
4. Run a free ad on Marketplace with your coupon code and any conditions (mine was for the month of November but it ended up going into December – I decided to cap it at 100 sessions).
5. Offer your service by time rather than modality. Especially important if you are offering something people are unfamiliar with.
6. Book your client’s next session right at checkout. Now, most of mine just ask to be booked out indefinitely, which is great by me. They can change their mind any time, but as of now (September 2019), most of 2020 is booked.
7. Put your roller skates on. You are going to be busy!

My best tips for being a massage therapist in general:
1. Self care. You cannot give from an empty well. Walk your talk. I do something every day for my physical and mental health. I owe it to myself, my family, and my clients to be well in body and mind.
2. S l o w  d o w n. Move like a glacier. Breathe slowly. Relax.
3. Stop talking. Unless it pertains to the massage or the client wants to talk about something, zip it. Personally, for clients that I have things to chat about with (some are long-time friends and acquaintances), I build in time around their appointment to visit. I love that. Then they can relax into their massage. Obviously, it’s not all about the money to me. I make enough. I can work more if I want to make more, but I’m content. It’s also important to me to connect with people.
4. Require a credit card to hold the appointment. I’ve eliminated no-shows and weirdos by requiring new clients to schedule online and agree to my 24 hour cancellation policy, then use their credit card to secure the appointment. I respect my client’s time as well as my own. If someone has a problem with this, I don’t want them as a client. Be fussy. Quality clients only!
5. Be on time. I start on time and end on time. Period. Who doesn’t hate sitting in a waiting room when they have an appointment and it’s past the start time??

Questions? Comments? Leave them below and I’ll answer every one!

Finding My Pure Poise

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
(Andra Day – Rise Up)

In my 44 years, this experience was one of the most transformative. I was invited to provide massage therapy for the Finding Your Pure Poise inaugural retreat. Amanda, the amazing photographer behind Pure Poise Boudoir, had this great idea to offer a women’s retreat on a private beach on the shore of Lake Superior in July 2019.  I’d been dreaming of massaging near a big lake, with the breeze and waves. Perfect. So I set the date aside. Amanda booked an AirBnB that would accommodate a group of women who came from very diverse backgrounds. There were two hair/makeup pros and I provided lakeside massage. Amanda prepared meals for the group and spent the rest of her time behind the camera lens. The first evening, we sat on the beach and got to know each other in a very fun way. It was like an instant sisterhood. The vibe of the weekend was so uplifting and encouraging.

I had zero intention on posing. Last Thanksgiving, I scheduled a shoot for September 2019 (2 weeks away as I write this!!). My role was to massage the people.

Somehow, I ended up writing my name on the signup for a sunrise shoot on the shore of Lake Superior. Before I knew it, I was trying on lingerie and body chains 🙂

Driftwood

For those of you who don’t know, most of my life I was overweight. I’ve struggled with weight and body image for decades. About 2.5 years ago I had a health scare that prompted me to adopt a plant-based diet. My symptoms cleared up and I dropped 15 pounds easily. I find it joyful and simple to maintain a healthy weight now.
Me in 2000

After my third baby, I continued to gain weight. I was out of control with food. I still struggle with food addiction at times (hello, nut butter!). As long as I stick with fruits, veggies and whole grains, I can eat lots and have plenty of energy to work all day, then go play. It’s awesome. This pic was taken in 2000, when I was in my 20’s. Think I was depressed??

Regarding exercise, I do what brings me joy. I do some strength training in my basement a few times per week. I ride my mountain bike a few times per week. I love yoga when I can.

I struggle with chronic pain due to a connective tissue disorder. I don’t remember the last day I didn’t have any tendon pain. But look; I could let that disable me or I could deal and live my life to the fullest. I do what I can, which is quite a lot. I found it wasn’t any better when I was sedentary. I honor my body by listening to it and that has even meant dialing back racing bikes. It’s okay. I’m no longer depressed. I’m healthier now than when I was obsessed with exercise. I do move my body most days, but it’s out of love.

I have held onto some embarrassment over my belly, uneven boobs and saddlebags for years. Seems no matter what I do, there they are. While I will continue to strengthen myself and work on my body, it’s out of love now. That is the difference. I couldn’t hate myself thin. I finally figured out that this girl is worth loving.

Yoga

When I received my photos, I cried. I’ve been so hard on myself. I let my insecurity about things like my belly and boobs interfere with my self worth for too long.

Favorite

So I swapped services with the amazingly talented Kassidy Ashbeck. She did my hair and makeup, and a group of us gals went to nearby Bonanza Falls. A friend suggested I go get on that downed tree. Haha. Now mind you, I’m a bit of a tomboy. Most days I’m in a ponytail getting dirt under my nails. My favorite cardio is mountain biking, which leads to sore muscles and bruises. Here I am wearing more makeup than I ever have and trying not to fall off this tree. And look at me! I can see my beauty now. The hair and makeup really just helped boost my confidence to do this. I’m pretending I’m a model.

Bonanza

And then when I feel so amazing and beautiful, I treat myself even better. This body is a gift. I’m a goddess of sorts, so I honor that by what I put in and out. I rise above the muck like the lotus tattooed on my leg. After enduring all of the forms of abuse, I am at peace. I am strong. I am enough. I am a badass woman.

Cave

My major takeaways from this experience were:

-I witnessed women absolutely owning their beautiful curves. No matter their weight, they were gorgeous. Sexy. Strong. Amazing. It didn’t even matter. If they can, why not me??
-I like the way that hair curling rod and some makeup look on me 🙂 Hot damn!
-Amanda has a way of making women feel amazing. I can’t even describe it properly. Look up her Pure Poise Intimate page on Facebook and join. So artful. So tasteful. It felt like a celebration of femininity.
-I need more of this in my life. More time with women who are like-minded. More drumming around fires with women. More discussion about the down & dirty things from periods to where to buy sexy undies, to sex and relationships. More openness. More uplifting other women to see their beauty.
-I have arrived at home. In my body. In this body. I. am. home.

Sign me up to do this again. I carry myself differently ever since then. My self-confidence is high. Every day I care for myself because yes, I am something special. So are you.

Ladies, I cannot recommend attending one of Amanda’s retreats or a photo shoot enough. It will change your life.

Pure Poise Photography

Donation Requests

It’s important to me that my business gives back to my community. I have to admit the requests for donations was a little overwhelming as a new small business owner, so I created a policy to define who I will donate to. Thank you for understanding!

If you are reaching out on behalf of any of the following, I will donate to your fundraiser:
Oneida County Humane Society
Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association
Rhinelander Food Pantry
Northwoods Composite Youth Mountain Bike Team
Hodag Nordic Ski Team

In addition to this, I donate one massage per month to a community member in need. I also travel to most of the youth mountain bike team’s races to provide post-race massage.

Feels good to give some back 🙂

Behind The Scenes – Massage Therapy Licensure

As my first licensure renewal comes due with the great state of Wisconsin next month, I’ve been checking out what information I need to have ready and it got me to thinking… most of my clients probably don’t even know what goes into becoming a licensed massage therapist. Without turning this post into a novel, I’d like to take a moment to educate folks. If you care about your massage therapist being legit, read on…

I took a 650 hour class that included things like business and ethics, as well as what you would expect – kinesiology, modalities, pathology in relation to massage, technique and such. We learned where to massage and where not to massage. I had excellent instructors, in my opinion. It was challenging, even with my medical background. Certainly a deep dive into the mechanics of the human body.

Wisconsin tests applicants on statutes regarding professionalism, definition and the like. Here is what the State defines as massage:
definition

We are also required to carry malpractice insurance and current CPR training.

There is a rigorous (and stressful!) national exam that must be passed.

Our license is to be hung on the wall in our work space.

license
 

Then, every 2 years we are required to submit a payment and proof of 24 continuing education credits, to include 2 in ethics.  I totaled mine and came in with 119.5. What can I say? So much to learn! Here’s a quick rundown:
Sarga Bodywork
Barefoot Masters Ashiatsu, both online and in person
Barefoot Masters Fijian massage online (massaging a fully clothed client using foot pressure, great for doing anywhere!)
ACE Massage Cupping
Ayurevedic Massage
Kinesiology and Acupressure Taping
Fibromyalgia and the Invisible Diseases
The Fundamentals of Massage Cupping
Introduction to the History and Practice of Thai Massage
Thai Table Practice Fundamentals: Part 1

It’s a good start! I do love to learn.

Is your therapist legit? Massage and “bodywork” fall under the same requirements. Look up your provider here: https://app.wi.gov/licensesearch

Be informed!

Falling Leaves

Sweet Surrender

Surrender
Ahh…. the fall equinox was yesterday. For some reason, I find myself very introspective at the change of seasons. Moving into autumn (my absolute favorite!), I’ve been contemplating letting go. Letting go like the leaves from the trees. Letting go of ideas that no longer serve my highest self. Surrendering to the act of letting go.

Letting go of resistance. Surrendering to love.

On the physical level, perhaps it’s a surrender in finding out that I have some genetic connective tissue anomaly as well as misshapen hip sockets. Perhaps, maybe, running any distance will not serve me. Perhaps that frees me up to spend more time on bikes with my ever-patient, amazing and supportive husband. I like that idea. My body likes yoga and mountain biking sane distances. My mind and soul also benefit in innumerable ways. So, why keep chasing other physical endeavors that leave me injured every time?

That’s pretty minor in comparison to a revelation I had today. Now, I grew up around Christianity. I had a bit of a falling out with God over a decade ago. In recent years, I’ve found a closeness and a “spirituality” that I never knew previously. I had released the dogma and felt I did not need an interpreter/middle man. I have believed in a God/One/Creator/Being of Light for some time now. Working around the dying, I feel that there’s something undeniable beyond what our eyes can see. I believe that heaven is here and now, hell was made up to control the masses but certainly can be a state of disconnect (going through hell) here on Earth. But, I don’t need the scare tactics or some of the other things that have turned me off to “religion”. My Creator, in my opinion, did not create me or any of us as worthless sinning machines destined to a fiery hell if we don’t follow all the rules. Ha!! My Creator is far too amazing to play games like that. My Creator is He and She and Up and Down and ALL. And don’t tell me what to chant or sing. If my heart doesn’t feel it, I won’t do it. I want a direct connection.

My aforementioned husband is a regular church goer. I accompany him to support him and love feeling the energy of collective prayer. It is powerful! Today I was by his side and the music was so moving. Honestly, every time I go, I fight back tears. I feel my soul is stirred. I’m moved. I can barely hold it together sometimes.

So, what’s with that? I usually just stuff it down and move on. Today though….. I choose to surrender. Something that moves me so deeply needs my attention. I, like the leaves on the trees during my favorite season, am letting go. Letting go of resistance.

I’ve been looking for a guru. For now, my guru is Jesus Christ. It’s so obvious to me. There is a freedom in surrender.

 

I Quit

Today was my last scheduled day as a Registered Nurse. I saw two hospice patients. I’m so very grateful for the time and experiences I’ve had. For the patients I helped “pack their bags” to go home. For the deaths I was blessed to attend. For the tears I’ve witnessed. For the stories I’ve been privileged to hear. For the patients I loved and let go. How can a person not get a little attached? Some will forever be close to my mind. And heart.

My mom is a nurse. I was 34 when I lost a well-paying job due to a business closure, and had the opportunity to go back to school with some substantial financial assistance. Don’t get me wrong, I did have to work 2 part-time jobs, nearly lost my house, and stood in food pantry lines to make ends meet for myself and my kids. I learned far more than the piles of information in the textbooks. I learned gratitude, and to accept help from strangers, and that I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to. That was a crazy time! 9 semesters, due to waiting list and pre-requisite courses.

My first nursing job was in Home Health. I learned a good deal about wound care, colostomies, catheters, lab draws and medications. I actually love to drive, which came in handy with the miles put on in a rural area. However, I ended up needing more stable hours and benefits. I went to surgery, working in the suites with the surgical teams. I never fit in. The pace is fast. The environment is cold. I felt like a janitor of bodily fluids, a gopher, and if a person needed shaving or disinfection that was my job. I don’t care to ever prep another gynelogical case. Haha. I don’t like to be in such a rush, either. Or bright lights (unless it’s the sun). Or snarky co-workers. Felt like middle school. It was definitely interesting from a how-stuff-works standpoint. The on-call just about killed me. I had 20 minutes to be in the hospital and I live just about that far away. I started having panic attacks when the phone rang at night. I had everything prepared but holy smokes, to be woken up out of a dead sleep because someone swallowed something they shouldn’t or needed a C-Section was just a jolt.

My heart was always leaning towards hospice, and working in surgery was just the push I needed. People always say “it takes a special person”. I don’t know. It’s an honor and a privilege. Death is the one truth we all have in common, right? After all, a flower doesn’t blossom forever. If I can assist in that transition, my cup is full. So, I jumped in to a full time position as a hospice nurse. There’s so much I loved about it. However, with full time came on call overnight. My body really freaked out. Panic attacks, insomnia, heart palpitations….. I can do a lot of things but being called in the wee hours and having to work the days before and after just aren’t on the list. I was in pain all the time and had full on adrenal exhaustion. The company I worked for was very unlikely to utilize a “casual” nurse, offered nothing else in hospice without call, and therefore I went to Aspirus as a casual.

Aspirus is where I started in home health. I like the company. I like the supervisors. I was hired as a casual – no expectations really. No benefits but by this time I was married and didn’t need them. Work when I’m available. I figured I’d get my massage license and then do 2 days per week of each.

Around December 2017, 4 months or so into my massage therapy practice, I was working 4-5 full days per week doing massage. It kind of took over my schedule. I was available some random Wednesdays to hospice, but the timing wasn’t working out. I went from the end of February to July without putting on my scrubs.

And, I didn’t really miss it. I was committed to covering a vacation in July but kind of dreaded it. You see, in my massage practice I’ve found what I was hoping to in being a nurse. One of the greatest joys in my massage practice is the continuity of care. I actually see the same clients, week after week and month after month. I get to know their needs and tailor sessions for them. It’s the feeling of seeing an old friend when they grace my table, even if only a few words are spoken. I’m never on call. In fact, my phone is in Do Not Disturb mode most of the time. I’ll check it when it’s convenient. My “charting” consists of writing down what my client’s complaints were and what I did about them. I’m usually done by the time they walk out of the treatment room. No meetings. No waiting for doctors’ orders. No Foley catheters to insert. No needles. No medication management. Just a peaceful environment, aromatherapy, and presence. All I really have to do is be present.

It’s like the struggles to get to this place have made my success. I appreciate it with a deep gratitude. It’s like going to work now is a breath of fresh air. I look forward to it. I am allowed to be creative, set my boundaries, and provide the calm and caring space for people to do their healing work.

My experience as a nurse certainly helps. I utilize care planning for treatments. I understand peoples’ conditions and medications, and customize sessions for those circumstances. Nursing has taught me so many things, and thought process is a huge part of it.

As of today, I am no longer available as a Registered Nurse. I will maintain my license and keep ties with Aspirus. I look forward to spending some of my Wednesdays providing the comforting touch of massage to hospice patients in my area, and I’ll do it with the watchful eye of a nurse. My role within the company will be transitioning.

It has not been a year since I officially became licensed for massage therapy and here I am, booked solid for a couple of months. Doing work that I embrace with my entire being. No more panic attacks. No more dreading phone calls or crying because I’m miserable in my work life. Just spreading the love and joy. The awesomeness of my life. The good vibes.

Thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion. I choose joy and abundance. I am at ease.

Namaste.

Chicken Of The Woods – Foraging

As I was wandering down to the dock to take the kayak out for a lap around the lake this morning, I came across this beauty. I’ve only found one before that I could harvest, and here it was…. right in my own back yard.


This is a fungi known as “Chicken of the woods” or “sulphur shelf”. It’s easy to spot. I’m no expert, but this is a wild mushroom I’m confident I can eat. This is a huge specimen, and if I wait any longer to harvest it will likely be dry and nasty. So, I hatched a fun plan for dinner.

I cooked millet in the Instant Pot (1 minute under pressure – that thing rocks!)

Cooked millet

I picked grape leaves from the vine in the back yard. I blanched them to wrap the filling in.

Grape leaves

I picked stinging nettles to cook with the mushrooms. I have a small patch that I am cultivating. Yes, you can eat cooked stinging nettles and they are very good for you! Wear gloves to harvest.

Stinging nettles

We have a huge patch of day lilies, so I grabbed some of them to stuff as well. They are edible 🙂
Day Lilies

In the smallest amount of olive oil, I sauteed the stinging nettles, some wild leeks I harvested in spring, onion and garlic.

After several minutes, I added rinsed and chopped chicken of the woods mushroom and continued to cook for a few minutes, adding just a little sea salt.

When it was cooked through, I added it to the millet, sprinkled with garlic salt, smoked paprika, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Wrapped in grape leaves and stuffed in flowers, this meal was very satisfying! And pretty! 🙂

I had a lot left over, so I cut up the mushroom and cooked it to freeze for future use. So thankful for this gift from Mother Nature.