Archive for tag: Deb

Integrative Medicine

Deb -lrgRecently I had the opportunity to attend a symposium of integrative medicine professionals in New Mexico. Since I was there representing National as an exhibitor, I did not attend the many exciting and innovative workshops, but I did speak to many exciting and innovative health care practitioners who are inspired to bring their practices to another level in patient care. Making the adventure even more interesting was the diversity of the participants. In attendance and conducting workshops were MDs, PhDs, RNs, dietitians, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, oriental medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, and yes, massage therapists.

Of most interest to me was the fact that a good portion of the workshops were lead or assisted by MDs. I think that I have unfairly grouped MDs together as practitioners who prefer to work with other MDs and shun complementary and alternative care providers. Nothing could have been further from the truth in this setting. If I were from Mars and came to earth for the first time landing smack dab in the middle of this group I would feel their unity, their deep and abiding desire to help and nurture. and be very impressed with the quality of care offered to earthlings.

The only things that resembled any other conference or symposium that I've ever attended were a continental breakfast, refreshment breaks and lunch on your own! Seriously, this was so far off the beaten path and so intense in its purity and energy that I felt privileged to rub elbows with these forward thinking professionals.

The first day started with a keynote presentation on the future of integrative medicine. Workshops included: Integrative Pain Management; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Native American Healing Practices; and Mexican Folk Healing. The afternoon sessions concentrated on cardiology with an Integrative Cardiology; Yoga Therapy for Cardiovascular Health; and Prayer, Healing and the Soul. Day two covered oncology and pediatrics and these sessions included: Chinese Herbal Medicine in Integrative Oncology; Restorative Qualities of Oncology Massage, Yoga for Breast Cancer; Chiropractic Medicine in Adults and Children; Homeopathy in Daily Practice; Healing with Hypnotherapy in Children; and Indigenous Healing Traditions.

Day three addressed women's health issues including nutrition, osteoporosis, chronic stress, and core strength. The symposium concluded with a look at integrative pharmacy with workshops that included The Herbal Kitchen, Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and a Botanicals Panel.

Being a huge supporter of complementary and alternative care, I was in awe of the amount of information that was exchanged by these leaders in integrative medicine. There was an outpouring of support for one another, an eagerness to learn from each other, and a yearning to create a new model of health care together.

Some of the additional benefits offered at this conference were sunrise yoga and meditation at 6:30 am. Our continental breakfast had background music from a harpist one day and a flutist another - and there wasn't a sweet roll or donut in sight. Complementary chair massages were offered by students of the massage program at the University of New Mexico. One evening there was a community ritual for healing offered offsite at the Dragonfly Sanctuary and participants were asked to fast for the day for optimal success. There was much buzz the next morning about how extraordinary the experience had been.

The best part for me was meeting massage therapists who use their practices to improve the health of their clients and, in this setting, were accepted and respected for their part in integrative care. As groups like this one take up the challenge to engage their patients in a wide variety of holistic care, massage therapy will be elevated to its proper position in the health care system. 

So get on board and explore the possibilities of this profession - the sky is the limit! Join the growing list of professionals who call themselves massage therapists and use touch as their healing art. We make it easy for you with our Intro to Massage mini course where you can be a student for two weeks, fall in love with the profession and unleash your inner healer.

More Than a School - A Vibrant Community

Deb -lrgGetting the best education possible should be the number one priority for any student and here at National you will be offered that and even more. Aside from the wonderful programs we offer there's so much more going on here.

Did you know that as a student you get free care at our Clinic? See any one of our interns to receive chiropractic care, naturopathic care, acupuncture, or you can give oriental medicine a try. Massages are not included in this perk, but when you enroll in the massage program you'll get massages in your technique classes each week. If you'd like a massage by one of our interns, it would be $40 for one amazing hour of bodywork.

A mentoring program offers academic and social support for those who may experience difficulty adapting to the rigorous academic program and new social environment at NUHS. The Mentor Program is a useful resource for new students provided by current students offering an immediate personal link with experienced guidance and encouragement.

Tutoring is available at no charge. This program focuses on assisting students who are having academic difficulty with the basic sciences or with the curriculum in general.

We also have a fitness center that is free to students. There are machines in one room and weights in the other and there are also locker rooms to change and store your street clothes. Chiropractic interns can lend a hand in helping develop an exercise routine specific to your needs.

There is a Health and Fitness club on campus and they offer yoga (twice a week) and boot camp (once a week) for only $10 per trimester (15 weeks!). Sometimes, in the nice weather, you'll see students practicing yoga on our floating stage in the pond in front of the library. We have basketball and sand volleyball courts, intramural sports and a kiddie park. If you have a band, the floating stage is a great venue to play and the acoustics are great.

There are many other clubs as well. One of the newest is the Earth Club and they have initiated recycling on campus, which was sorely needed and greatly appreciated. On the more academic side, there are clubs supporting the mission of specific fields like the Student Association on Integrative Medicine.

New resident swans arrive every April to grace our pond, fondly referred to as Lake Janse after one of our most respected presidents. The "couple" raises their offspring and keeps the Canada geese at bay. It seems every year the swans get some bad press and last year was no different. One of the baby swans died and shortly thereafter a baby duck was found dead - the father swan was implicated. Their time with us ends in October when they head to their summer home - in Wisconsin! I know, it makes no sense.

Just recently National formed a partnership with Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks who offer year 'round delivery of food sourced from local sustainable farms that preserve our environment. We are a weekly delivery site for their local and organic produce, meat, dairy, and eggs. This supplies the National community with food at the peak of freshness, packed with vitamins and minerals, and supports our "whole health" approach to wellness. An additional benefit is that we are supporting the livelihoods of local farmers.

To support local artists, the halls of our clinic are adorned with works of art from the Lombard Arts Coalition. Each month the art changes and an ice cream social celebrates the new arrivals.

The community we've created here is small, unique and ever changing. It is centered and balanced with a commonality of supporting whole health. Joining the National community will offer you the opportunity to learn more than just academics. Here, students are offered a chance to change lives, starting with their own.

Take a Vacation From Your Problems

Deb -lrgMy all-time favorite comedy film is "What About Bob?" I have seen it more times than I can count and still find myself laughing at scenes that I could virtually repeat from memory.

Although the movie is a ridiculous exaggeration of an OCD patient, two messages from the movie have resonated with me and have helped me build a foundation that allows me to keep things in perspective, lighten up and maintain some semblance of balance in my life.

The first is the very underlying theme of the movie and that is that life is much easier to handle when you take it in baby steps. "Baby Steps" is actually the title of a book written by Dr. Leo Marvin (Robert Dreyfus), a psychiatrist in the movie.

The idea of taking baby steps is nothing new, but remembering to incorporate that advice precisely when you need it takes practice. I repeat that mantra many times when feeling overwhelmed, and it forces me to readdress the issue that's giving me trouble and dissect it into manageable pieces, thoughts or projects. Just carving it up like that and taking another look, from a different angle, just seems to put it in perspective.

The second idea - and this one is ridiculously simple, yet brilliant - comes about from a scene when Dr. Marvin is trying to get rid of a patient, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray), who has followed his family to their vacation home because of his attachment to Dr. Marvin.

To Bob's objections, Dr. Marvin begins to write him a prescription. The prescription reads, and I think this is the brilliant part, "Take a vacation from your problems." How utterly simple these few words are, but taken at face value, we can all learn from his clever idea. I mean, who doesn't need a vacation from their problems once in a while?

Sharing these ideas with you came to mind during a recent massage. As I lay on the table becoming more relaxed and dazed, I thought about how lovely it is to get to that point of nirvana where you don't care about your job or the work that awaits you, you're not worried about the kids, financial worries can take a hike -face it, you don't even care to remember your name! This is the exact place to take a vacation from your problems because in this ecstasy, they cannot co-exist.

As a massage therapist, you will realize the power of touch, the most sophisticated physical tool in the world. As a result of your work, you can create an escape for your clients, a vacation from their problems. And because therapeutic massage is one of the only forms of health care that specifically addresses the mind, body and spirit, it is considerably powerful. 

Take good care of yourself. I hope to be hearing from you soon!



Deb -lrgI attended a seminar recently and in lieu of the traditional "let's go around the room and introduce ourselves" routine, the speaker asked that we give our names and share one thing that we are grateful for in our lives. It was such a refreshing way to start the day and we all smiled and nodded as we listened to each other's blessings. It was an immediate bonding experience and so much more enjoyable than the usual introductions. Even better, it started off our day with happy thoughts and gratitude - maybe you should consider it for your next meeting.

Given the times we live in, I think it's so much more important to be aware of the blessings in our lives. Just being able to acknowledge that we have something to be thankful for can make a difference in our attitudes. When we are surrounded by negativity, as we seem to be lately, it's so easy to fall prey to the mood of the majority and join the pity party.

Whenever I think I need to count my blessings, I remind myself of a trip I took a few years ago to Costa Rica. I was amazed at how happy and grateful I found the locals, even though at first site they seemed very poor. They love their country and they love sharing the riches their country has to offer with their visitors. The bounty of riches that were shared with me included the ocean, miles and miles of beaches, the sun, the rain forest, colorful and extraordinary animals, swollen rivers, jagged landscapes, lush greenery, exotic fruits, their very humble hospitality, and their ability to approach life at a profoundly slow pace. I found myself envious.

No one was in a hurry and smiles were abundant.  People took the time to try and understand my poor Spanish and I took the time to listen to their poor English and we got things accomplished and had a good laugh at the same time. Everyone I came in contact with was happy and grateful - it was that simple.  There was reason to be envious.

One of our cab drivers stopped on a bridge so that we could get out and look over the bridge at the crocodiles sunbathing. He wasn't worried about our timetable or his, nor was he being paid to be a guide, he was just so happy to share. Another one stopped before sunset at a very special place where people view the sun dropping into the ocean. He said we couldn't miss it and I'm grateful to him that we didn't. These were priceless experiences for me and even for my hosts, even though they had access to these events daily. They weren't taking anything for granted.

Here in the States, we've had a bit of a setback as we've watched industry tumble and our friends and family members lose jobs or houses or both. As we attempt to move forward as a country and adjust our thinking and spending and the way we live, gratitude can play a significant role in the process because from the gratitude comes real happiness and satisfaction.

One of the things I learned in my seminar is that for every negative action in our lives there is a positive counteraction that we will realize. The "secret" lies in not dwelling in the negative, but opening oneself up to look for the positive counteraction. If you're not looking and not open to it, it will pass you right by.

I have met many people recently who have lost their jobs and decided to return to school. The stories are very similar in that Massage Therapy is something they've always thought about doing but just didn't have the time. So, now that they have been given the time, they have opened themselves up to the positive counteraction, which is the opportunity to use that time to accomplish a goal.

Money plays a big part in the decision to return to school, so one point I'd like to leave you with is that there is a big misconception about our government's financial aid program. Financial aid is offered to every citizen no matter what their income level. There are two forms of aid - one is in the form of grants (don't have to be paid back) and one is in the form of loans (repayment starts six months after graduation). Don't think that because you've made money in the past that you are ineligible. Uncle Sam is still very generous in this department and the cost of tuition for our massage therapy program is about equal to that of a used car, and should prove to be a much better investment. In return for the money you spend (or borrow) you walk away with a skill that can support you for the rest of your life and hopefully give you a profession that brings you happiness and gratitude.

As always, we're here to help when you're ready.



The Banana Tree

Deb -lrgIn January, my daughter, son-in-law and I visited my mother in Florida. We went on a walk around her development to look at the houses, plants and fruit trees. We made a special trip to the back of one of her neighbor's yards because she wanted to show us a banana tree. She was particularly fond of these bananas that she called Lady Fingers and told us how much she enjoyed them whenever her neighbor shared a few.

Fast forward a few days where my mom won some money on a slot machine during a gambling cruise we took into international waters. That was pretty significant because my mom just loves the slot machines, but NEVER wins! She said the money was for all of us to share on our vacation and asked what we'd like to do with it. I suggested we go and get her a banana tree since she was so fond of them and that way her winnings would be the gift that keeps on giving.

My mom had the most puzzling reply, "Oh, that would be nice, but I don't think I'd live long enough to see the fruit, so why bother." WHAT? My mom is in her early 70s, very healthy and active. That would NOT be the reply I would have expected. As a daughter, that's just not the thing you want to hear from your mother.

Well, I wasn't about to buy into that baloney, so I suggested we take a ride to a nursery to find out exactly what it takes to grow a banana tree and how long before the fruit arrives. Luckily, we found some very healthy plants and the attendant told us they would bear fruit in a year to a year and a half. So I asked my mom, "Are you willing to stick around at least a year and a half and make this commitment or is that asking too much?" She was a sport and the banana tree found a home.

After a little trial and error, we found the perfect place and my son-in-law planted the tree. I'm very happy that my mom has the fruit to look forward to and she actually has a wonderful reminder of the day she finally won on the slot machines!

My mom is very happy to report on the progress of her little addition that is growing like a weed, has sprouted baby banana trees and will probably be an early bloomer. In fact, when my sister was visiting her recently, my mom tied some bananas from the store on the tree and sent a picture. She's a nut - glad she'll be around for a while!

So, I'm sure you're thinking, nice story, but what does this have to do with massage therapy? Well, the moral of the story is you should never think you're too old for anything, whether it be planting a fruit tree or changing careers. Many prospective students that I talk to are cowering behind their fear of being too old or out of school too long to start the massage program. Nothing could be further from the truth - those students are usually the ones who do the best and end up being sought-after therapists. A little bit of life under your belt never hurt anyone.

Our classrooms are full of students from all walks of life and all ages. We have nurses, personal trainers, recent high school graduates, recent college graduates, stay-at-home moms, teachers, flight attendants, high-end managers, and retirees. The diversity of ages makes it so much more enjoyable and so much more enriching to each student. Everyone is scared, everyone is worried, everyone is excited, and everyone is on the same adventure into the unknown. In addition to gaining a career, you'll probably make some wonderful friends.

The banana tree and my mother are thriving - so will you! Please give me a call when you're ready to make that commitment.