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Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy

Copyright © 2018 Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy. All rights reserved. 
Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy
N112 W15237 Mequon Road Suite 400
Germantown, WI  53022

May 1, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
How Much Pressure?

Being able to vary the pressure we are applying in massage is an important skill. Modulating from deep to light should be in every therapists’ skill-set. In addition, we must be able to keep a pressure level while moving or vary it depending on our purposes and the needs of the client.  

While at the Doug Nelson PNMT workshop in April we heard that working with a scale and learning to be able to identify how many pounds of pressure we are using can be an additional refining of these pressure skills. What a great idea!

The school now has a small scale for this purpose. I have one in my kitchen and every time I weigh something in the kitchen I take a moment to practice my manual pressure. It was pretty difficult at first to assign numbers to my pressure, but now I find the numbers actually help me to clarify in my mind what I am doing. Analyzing my pressure this way while working keeps my mind in this mode, additionally helping me to focus on this client, these problems, and this tissue right under my hands right now. It’s a great way to improve what we are already doing.

If you are an MT looking for the best therapeutic continuing education out there sign up for the next AMTA-sponsored PNMT workshop with Doug Nelson in November. 

May 6, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Letter from a Graduate - WOW

Mary - 
I just wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful training and education I received at WSMT over the last two years! (Including some continuing education classes she took after graduation.)

Let me just say that today, at the spa where I work, I worked with a client for the first time who was originally scheduled for an hour. As he walked in, he asked to have 1 1/2 hours instead. AsI was working with him, he asked if I had anyone booked after him. I didn't so he asked to extend to 2 hours!

He carries his stress, like most people, in his neck, upper back and shoulders. I didn't want him prone for too long (because it wound up being a 2 hour massage, as I mentioned above), so I had him sidelying, where I discovered both ITT's were extremely tight, as were his left gracilis/adductors. While he was sidelying, I took the time to stretch his neck. He said "that feels amazing!" In fact, throughout the entire session, he made comments like that.

At the end of the session, he said he's "had many, many massages over the years, and has never had one as great as this one!" He even gave me a $30 tip!! 

I kept thinking how much this client's experience, that I was able to provide for him, was 100% attributed to the training and education I had while I was at WSMT! So again, I wanted to express my thanks to you, and to Alesia & Robin. Feel free to pass this on to them as well and/or use as a testimonial on your website.

Thanks again, Mary!

May 21, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Why Become a Massage Therapist?

Today I want to address the question, “Why Become a Massage Therapist?” I came from the world of elementary school teaching. I was bound by a union contract which spelled out the time I was compelled to start and end each day. Oh yes, ending time was spelled out and enforced by the janitors who shooed me out of the building. My yearly calendar was also dictated and I was not allowed to deviate by working on any days off nor was I allowed to have a day off that was scheduled for anything other than illness or other dire circumstance under threat of loss of job. In addition, my time throughout the day was regulated by the contract. I was told when I would have classes scheduled with other teachers and how many minutes I was to spend on each subject. Under these circumstances it was, at times, difficult to get to the bathroom! There was no incentive to excel, in fact, there was a disincentive at one school I was at because the other teachers greatly looked down upon you if you did anything to stand out above mediocre, as was the norm at the school.

Teaching had many wonderful benefits, however, as you can imagine. And although I enjoyed many of my students, their parents, and my colleagues, leaving the profession began to look attractive. I had been receiving massage work for several years to help alleviate the stress I was under in my teaching job. I began to wonder about a career in massage. I went to school, became certified and started doing massage on the side. Here is what I loved about massage work compared to my teaching job:  

I could start my own business.
I could determine days and times I wanted to work.
I could determine the schedule for each day I worked.
I could use my mind to help clients puzzle out the causes and solutions to their physical pain.
I could research my clients’ pain complaints and learn about many different physical conditions and possibilities for improvement.
I could use my manual skills to help clients’ tissues normalize, often becoming the catalyst for changing chronic pain conditions.
I could build a network of professionals to refer clients to when they needed more help than I could offer.
I could work with one client at a time, offering my full attention, without distraction.
I could take classes and learn more skills and refine the skills I already had. Every client appreciated my expertise as it grew.
I could get free massage work for myself by trading with other massage therapists I came to know.
I could earn a decent living with honest work valued by my clients. I could establish long-term relationships with clients as I helped them cope better with stress and a host of physical problems.

Well that’s my list for now. Each massage therapist enters the field for different reasons and we all find different aspects to value. For me it was pure joy to be released from the contractual bonds of public school teaching. For a friend of mine who had her own business in another field for many years, working in massage for a beautiful spa was just the right place for her. She reveled in being an employee who didn’t have to schedule clients, advertise, or do bookkeeping. Why become a massage therapist? Because the field offers so much flexibility that it is possible to be satisfied here for many different reasons. Come join us! 

May 29, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Your Hands

The other day I smashed my index finger in the heavy front door to our building. After recovering from the initial shock, pain, wave of nausea and assessment my next thought was, “Will I be able to work with this finger out of commission?” With a full load of massage appointments left in the week, I wondered how much this accident was going to cost me, physically and financially. Well, I happily discovered that I could protect the injured area with a bandage and a finger cot (rubber, waterproof sleeve designed for fingers), hold it up out of the way, and carry on almost without any trouble. The only other change I had to make was avoiding any work underneath a client’s body which was very achievable.

I was lucky this time. Other injuries to my hands over the years did require canceling appointments, sometimes for over a week. There was the deep puncture from a stake in the garden between two fingers. There were numerous kitchen knife encounters and one particularly bad experience with a rotary grater. I have had to rethink how I accomplish tasks while protecting my hands. Gardening is never done without gloves. I handle knives more slowly with deliberation and proper finger placement.  The hand that holds the vegetables keeps the fingers curled under.  Sharper knives are safer as well because they cut instead of skittering across and they require less pressure to accomplish the task. The rotary grater was banished altogether from the house. I have a very safe electric food processor I should have been using!

So, I have developed healthy respect for the dangers of gardening and kitchen tools, but now doors too! The health of a massage therapists’ hands are his or her livelihood. Here’s what’s necessary to maintain them in good working order:

Stretching and warming up
Keeping skin surfaces clean and soft
Keeping nails trimmed
Protecting from injury

If you are a new massage therapist, student, or potential student these are things to which you will have to pay attention, maybe for the first time. At least I got something out of my smashed finger – a topic for this message!  

June 4, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Oh to Read a Good Book

Today I finished a book that was completely absorbing. It only took me 2 days to read and for that 2 days every spare moment I was scrambling to get back to that book. It was thoroughly enjoyable to be lost in that story.

I’ve watched great movies, I’ve gone on great vacations, and I’ve eaten great food. None of these enjoyable pursuits will ever compare to reading a great book cover to cover.

When was the last time you read a book just for the pure fun of it? Did you know that reading is a complex brain activity? Converting symbols on a page to words, thoughts, and story engages the brain and heart in extraordinarily healthy ways.
What a great antidote to the stress that detracts so much from health.  

It doesn’t matter what genre you choose. Do you like historical novels, science fiction, time travel stories, instruction manuals, cookbooks, political commentary…the possibilities are endless. Pick up a good book and enjoy!

June 16, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Trek 100

WSMT had the pleasure of providing post-ride massages for participants in the MACC Fund’s Trek 100 bicycle ride last weekend. This is a great opportunity for our students to practice real sports massage while greatly benefitting the riders who raised so much money to beat childhood cancer. This is a great event we enjoy each year. Although a bit crazy because the demand for our services is so high, it is so fun we often have graduates and other professional massage therapists show up to help. The organizers told us we were the only school to respond to their request and we were happy to oblige!

 This is an event you can look forward to if you are considering becoming one of our students. And graduates or other professionals who want to volunteer that day are gratefully welcomed! Let us know if you want to join us in the massage tent!

June 22, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Saving for Later

I was taught to save for later. Maybe people who cling to smoking and other destructive health habits never internalized this concept. Your health is a valuable resource. You only have so much of it. Eventually the body breaks down and ceases. This can happen earlier than it should or it can happen as late as possible. The oldest a person has lived (documented) is 122 years. Many people think around 120 is actually how long the human body is able to live with good care.

Saving your health for later could bring an old age that is vibrant. Like any gift, your health, if not cherished and tended, can be gone slowly or as fast as the blink of an eye. Once facing a major health crisis it will be crystal clear how wasteful and useless it was to continue practicing health-destroying habits for so long. Sadly, I have seen this happen too many times. “I can’t quit.” “I don’t like vegetables.” “I don’t like to exercise.” “Wearing a helmet ruins my hair.”

Saving for later in regard to health means thinking about your body as your home, the place where you live that needs some consideration. This body of yours carries you around, thinks for you, accomplishes work, connects with other people, provides you a life. It deserves your care and respect. Why not start to cultivate new attitudes toward your body? Why not begin small with a new activity which benefits it?  

Take a walk after dinner. Learn to eat a vegetable you don’t like – you can change your taste! Drink a little water instead of everything out of a bottle or can. Actually quit smoking instead of wishing you would. Stop eating food with an ingredients list – just buy or grow the ingredients and put it together yourself. Do something that moves you in a healthier direction. It will create a snowball effect.  

I have also seen this happen: The health crisis which creates a whole new life of wellness. Why wait for the crisis?  

For an eye-opener to how life-stealing your destructive habits are take the test at the real age website. Look up your BMI to find out how overweight you are (maybe it’s not as bad as you think!)  

Here’s to saving for later. I wish you a healthy and long old age. Start today and it won’t be full of regret, it will be a dream come true.

June 29, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
A Message to Make My Day

Dear Mary,

This is so crazy, I’m doing classes to renew my national license for massage...and I’m so shocked that so many massage therapists DON’T know what they are doing, their body mechanics are so poor. Even at work I’ve met people who have been massaging longer than me and never had a proper ergonomics education! 

I'm just saying THANK YOU for opening a wonderful massage school and for teaching us how to be good massage therapists!  You really know what you are teaching.


Thank YOU so much and the teachers at WSMT! I’m so proud to represent the school!

Sarah Y.

Well, I must say, I do love hearing that our graduates appreciate the care and commitment we make to their education.  I can't help sharing here, because the glowing feedback we regularly receive testifies to WSMT's quality.  I appreciate it when graduates take the time to tell us this!

Our next professional training classes will begin in fall. We still have some room in these classes for you! See our calendars so you can find the schedule which works best for you. We offer a complete basic program in 10 or 14 months! You will be amazed at how fast you can have an exciting new career (or lucrative side-job!)

Or maybe you are not quite ready. You don't feel that you have enough information. Then maybe you want to join one of our Introduction classes. Check out the information at the right. Try your hand at real massage work, coached by a real! I would love to meet you and show you the ropes!
July 4, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Forest Bathing

Happy Independence Day! What are you doing today? I hope it’s not something indoors. Don’t we spend enough time indoors?

Did you know time outside in nature has its health benefits? In Japan it is called, “Forest Bathing.” That is to get out into a forest and experience the fresh air, calming birdsong, and to fill your vision with the color green. There is good science behind this practice.  

The National Wildlife Federation says it benefits children to get outside and to have unstructured freetime. (I don’t think this is true only for children!)  

USA Today has reported that just being near greenspace improves physical and mental health. The NY Times in July of 2010 reported that time with trees and plants in parks was shown to increase immune function and to lower the negative effects of stress.  

The May, 2012 issue of Backpacker has a big article on how Hiking makes you smarter!

Let’s see…get sick less, feel calm and collected, think more clearly and solve problems more effectively...count me in! ​

Take a forest bath!
July 16, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
How do Dreams Come True?

Many of you looking to become massage therapists or start your own business wonder about whether your dream will come true. You might be thinking, “Am I lucky enough to find myself as a licensed massage therapist in a fulfilling professional position?”

I am here to tell you that dreams like this come true every day! The mistake is thinking that success is a result of luck. Fortuitous events happen to people, but that is icing on the cake. To make a dream come true one must acknowledge the steps involved and then make consistent progress toward accomplishing each step until the final dream is fully realized.

Do not get bogged down by sitting around wringing your hands and wondering if you can do it. Make a list. Check off one item and you are on your way! Are there obstacles? Find a way through them. It might take a while longer because of obstacles, but you can continue to make progress toward the goal if you stay focused and accomplish small parts of each goal at a time.  

Money for tuition is often an obstacle for potential students. Money to start a business is often an obstacle for licensed M.T.s. We have payment plans for just about anybody. Yep, it might take you longer to complete your training because you have to pay off the tuition slower. Well, at least you can get the classes done while you work to pay it off. That’s a big thing to check off the list! And you could decide to get super-motivated on the financial side. You could give up some luxuries for awhile like buying prepared food, new clothes, salon treatments, etc. You could get extremely frugal, in fact, and pay off tuition far faster than you think is possible! There are whole websites devoted to living a frugal life:  Tightwad Gazette and Dave Ramsey are two of my favorites!

People often find it interesting that I shop for clothes at second-hand resale shops, I drive a second-hand car, I don’t have a smartphone, and I color my own hair.  I have been called both, “cheap” and “rich!” I find both descriptions hilarious because I AM cheap about some things like those listed above, but I bet I spend more on quality food than just about anybody and travel is my favorite thing on which to spend money. I could be considered rich because I have enough money for the things I want and need, but I do not live a lavish life. I heard recently that “When you don’t need money you find you have more than you need.” So true!

So, can you find a way to go to massage school and become a massage therapist? Of course. No luck involved. One step at a time. Let me know if you want to come in and talk about the list of what it would take. Eating an elephant is not impossible as long as you do it one bite at a time!

July 24, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
French Kids Eat Everything

Well I just finished a book called, “French Kids Eat Everything, How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters” by Karen Le Billon. It is simply brilliant. I was fascinated by the author’s typical American parent problem, that of being held prisoner by her small children’s eating whims.  

I do not remember this being a huge problem back in the 1970s when I was a child. There were no special cooking for children, special shopping for children, special drive-thrus for children! Adults were not overly concerned if their child didn’t eat for lack of liking a meal. Trying things was expected if not demanded. Vegetables were a given.

  Why do parents today have such angst over their children’s eating?  It seems to me it is due to parents’ own terrible eating habits: eating mostly highly processed foods at all times of day and night, and also a lack of time to adequately prepare for family meals. Both parents are usually working and all children are usually highly involved in after school activities. Why? Do people think their child won’t do well in life if they don’t play several competitive sports, play an instrument, and speak several languages? Give it a rest and enjoy some relaxed time together as a family; cooking and eating without so many time constraints!

This is the French way of raising good eaters in a nutshell. Eating well means shopping and cooking well. There is no way around it. And your children will not do as you say and not as you do. They watch everything you do and that is what really speaks to them about priorities. 

Even as adults we can learn to like foods we didn’t like before. I taught myself to like beets, a formerly hated food! Karen Le Billon brings up that it takes 8-12 tastes of a disliked food to become something you like. That is exactly what happened to me with beets. I persevered because I learned how absolutely excellent beets are for you (and especially your liver.) Now I love them. Kids are the same way. Don’t give up on them. Offer the offending vegetable many times in different ways and ask them to just try it. Tell them they will like it when they finally grow up. It works and you can like veggies too!  

I would encourage you to stop worrying about being a friend to your children. They need parents who will guide and stretch them into healthy behaviors that they will adopt for life. This means sometimes kids don’t like you. That’s ok!

August 9, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Ode to Cabbage

Woe am I today because we have arrived at the point in the year where green cabbage is awful. If you buy a head of cabbage today you will hate it. It is tough, dry, hard and flavorless. It is nothing like it’s fall/winter self when it is sweet and sharp, crunchy and juicy. If you are trying to include more vegetables in your diet which is an excellent idea, skip cabbage for now.

Eating with the seasons is a concept we have lost for the most part because just about everything is available in our supermarkets everyday. The local Pick ‘n Save actually brags on a sign how many hundreds of items they have on offer each day in their produce department. The problem with the cabbage offered is that it probably had to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get here in August. Our locally grown cabbage won’t be ready and really luscious until something like October. Because of this the supermarket cabbage was probably picked before fully ripe and it is likely a variety that can endure the punishment of many miles on the road. These two factors make for a pretty horrible cabbage in August. 

Now if you want to start eating more vegetables and you buy today’s cabbage you may conclude that cabbage is not for you. But if you wait for cabbage’s golden time – October – and you buy it at the local farmer’s market you will be amazed that it could even be the same vegetable!

So why eat cabbage anyway? Check out to find out. How do you know what is in season? Check out for a great little calculator that tells you! What do I do with it? Here is my list: Put finely chopped cabbage in every salad I make in addition to the lettuces and other veggies. Roughly chopped and sautéed with butter/lard, salt & pepper – easy and fast. Chopped and thrown into soup for flavor and crunch boost. It’s great stuff to have around. Even my dogs eat it with relish – try giving it to your dog for some added veggies for them! Try it – just not until October!

August 16, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Exciting Days at WSMT

We are really excited around WSMT these days. We have never had such interest in our fall classes! New students have been signing up early and regularly. We have had lots of interest in our introduction classes and we are interviewing and enrolling at a steady pace. 

Maybe it’s because our graduates are consistently pleased with their experience here. We get the nicest feedback on our exit surveys. It is so satisfying that our hard work and dedication to our students’ success pays off with such appreciation. They are our best advertising and they are telling everyone they know how much they loved WSMT and how much they love the massage profession.

Just today I was asked by a prospective student for some graduates to contact her so she could chat with them about their time at WSMT. I called a few people and got overwhelming response to spend the time and effort to talk about the school with this person.

Our latest class left us with amazing quotes on their surveys. They said things like, “Being out of High School for 17 years, it was a bit scary and overwhelming to go back to school. (But) it was fantastic! Not easy, but extremely well taught and now that we are done, I am super sad!! (WSMT) exceeded my expectations. I would not have been happy going anywhere else! This was meant to be and I could not be happier!” Check out our Quotes & Photos page to read more reaction to our program.

August 21, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Continuing Education and the Law

Today my aim is to make clear the confusion about the new Massage Law and Continuing Education (CE). Here is what the actual statute says:

460.10 Continuing education.
(1) The affiliated credentialing board may promulgate rules establishing all of the following:
(a) Requirements and procedures for a license holder to complete continuing education programs or courses of study to qualify for renewal of his or her license. The rules promulgated under this paragraph may not require a license holder to complete more than 24 hours of continuing education programs or courses of study in order to qualify for renewal of his or her license.
(b) Qualifications applicable to providers of continuing education programs and courses required under par. (a).
 (2) The affiliated credentialing board may waive all or part of any requirement established in rules promulgated under sub. (1) (a) if it determines that prolonged illness, disability, or other exceptional circumstances have prevented a license holder from completing the requirement.

So, although it says 24 hours, you will see that the board may promulgate rules that establish CE.  This has not happened yet. At the July 19th meeting for school owners in Madison we were told that the board might have rules by February, 2013 when licenses will be renewed. Then again it might take as long as sometime in Fall, 2013. Until the board establishes rules there is no legal requirement for CE in the state of Wisconsin.

What will the rules likely include? The board will have to determine who will qualify to provide CE, how many hours of CE will actually be required per renewal period (every 2 years), and what types of courses will constitute CE for MTs. There is a lot to hash out and this is why there is no requirement for CE yet.

Does this mean I don’t need to take any CE classes? That depends on the organization you belong to which provides your insurance. Some organizations require CE to maintain membership. It also depends on your professional goals. Do you want to keep getting better at this? Are you excited to learn different techniques which can make you more effective for your clients and therefore more valuable? Ideally your clients’ needs inform your CE decisions. Are you noticing clients with a similar problem? Maybe it’s time to take a class that zeros in on that problem and hones your skills in working with it. This is the most exciting CE to me. When I take a class with specific clients in mind I get the most out of the class because I have people immediately that I can help with the new skills. That’s exciting!  

Our next professional training classes will begin in September and October. We still have some room in these classes for you! See our calendars so you can find the schedule which works best for you. We offer a complete basic program in 10 or 14 months! You will be amazed at how fast you can have an exciting new career (or lucrative side-job!)

Or maybe you are not quite ready. You don't feel that you have enough information. Then maybe you want to join one of our Introduction classes. Check out the information at the right. Try your hand at real massage work, coached by a real! I would love to meet you and show you the ropes!
September 26, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey

I’m back about a week now from a great hiking trip in the Alps. While hiking many hours over 2 weeks I thought about several topics I can explore here. The first one I wrote on 9/1/12 in the Toronto Airport. Here it is:

I’m sitting here in the sunshine with my shoes off and my legs stretched out long on the floor, my back against a pillar. I’m glancing occasionally out at the jumbo jet waiting for my jaunt to Montreal and then Geneva, Switzerland.

I’ve been disconnected from the internet for about 12 hours now. I will likely remain so for the next 15 days. I won’t be checking facebook or email. I won’t have access to my cell phone. I won’t be talking online about what I’m doing, I’ll just be living – disconnected.

It seems a little strange already. I am writing this by actually putting pen to paper! I suspect I’m going to enjoy these days – the travel, yes, the physicality of completing 105 hiking miles in the alps, yes, the beauty of God’s handiwork in awesome mountains and the fascination of interacting with people of other cultures. All will be wonderful, but I suspect this break from the super-connectivity we now have will also be good. I kind of like being unreachable and unavailable to my normal life. I’m going to keep a journal up and report more on this. No – it’s not a blog! The result, if published, will be after the fact. So old-school. What a refreshing change!

…15 days later…
I’m on the airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean returning. I have mostly remained disconnected from technology as I expected with a few exceptions. We bought a cell phone to be able to book accommodation but we also used it to stay in touch with fellow travelers we met and we used it once to call home. We also borrowed an IPad twice to send messages to family that we were fine and to check for any responses.

So I did remain relatively internet-communication free. Many other people had smart phones and I do see the help they can be while traveling. It’s nice to be able to check weather, email, restaurant and hotel reviews. But I do think one can also use it so much that it is possible to forget how wonderful a vacation should be. Even without these distractions I had to, at times, remind myself, “I am in the Alps! I am hiking up actual mountain passes and I am looking at the tallest mountains in Europe!”  

It seems to me these kinds of life events deserve my full attention, without a pull to my usual daily life lest they become more ordinary.  

So, I report here, fully reconnected and with several more Message topics lined up from the trip. Stay tuned…I’m going smartphone shopping!

October 3, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
An Active Vacation

Do you exercise just to put in the time? Are you in an exercise rut? Don’t work out because it’s too boring? Maybe what you need is an active vacation!

There are hiking, bicycling, skiing, paddling vacations, and more. I’ve done week-long bicycling vacations for more than 20 years and I just completed my first hiking vacation last month. So I can tell you that when there is a trip planned, the training exercise you do is not the ho-hum usual.

First of all I’m much more dedicated to getting the number of workouts in per week that I need to do. I know that if I train for a trip I will enjoy it more and not be stiff and sore. Also, active vacations usually come with some added demands so I get stretched in a new way. This keeps the training interesting. For bicycling it’s always distance. My workout rides are usually about 11 miles long, but I need to go farther occasionally in training to prepare for 50-75 mile days on a bicycling vacation. For the hiking trip I needed to prepare my body for a 20-pound backpack and for ascending and descending mountain tracks. Having never done it before, I wasn’t even sure how much training to do, so I did as much as my schedule and the weather would allow.

The rewards on an active vacation are many. First, I feel accomplishment in finishing each day’s segment. The overall tiredness is also a plus – food never tasted so good and sleep has never been so restorative. Typically I burn a lot of calories on vacation, so I can enjoy eating more than usual. For someone like me who loves to eat, this is a big plus! These vacations get a person out into nature and, if in another country, slow you down to experience the culture. 

Next time you feel sluggish about going to work out check into an active vacation for which you could train. Many groups offer packages like REI and Bike Wisconsin, but you can also do it yourself as I did by hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc.  

October 10, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Writing Poetry

When was the last time you wrote a poem? 4th grade? Never? Yikes, that’s a long time. Maybe it’s time to resurrect this writing form in your life. Writing poetry can be very relaxing. It can take you away from your daily concerns and put you right in the middle of observing the here and now. It can grow gratefulness in your heart because you have paid attention to the little things. When read later it can recreate a time in your life just like a smell or taste from long ago. Writing poetry is a wonderful activity to add to your life!

While on my recent trek in the European Alps I wrote several poems. I even performed one at dinner one night! Here is my poem from the delay in the airport:

Toronto Airport
Sunshine on my back
3 kids in striped leggings jump
Man with curly hair concentrates
Off-white sari with sparkly gold
Announcement for Calgary
The line forms
Guitar in a backpack
Zebra stripe slippers
Spike heels – teeter
Lots of laptops
Final call, first English, then French
Now they start coming for Geneva
Eat a snack
Pat a back
Read a book
Watch and listen to your screen
Adjust shoelaces
Waiting in public
Hope to board soon.

I would encourage you to give poetry writing a try. It’s a lot of fun! Here is a website to help, if you need it, which you don’t, because there are no rules and no one is going to give you a grade! Creative Writing Now 

October 19, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Coming Home

Don’t you love going on vacation? I LOVE to go on vacation. I plan and save for it. I shop and dream for it. Even the less desirable jobs that are inevitable when preparing for a trip are more enjoyable simply because they will lead to going. That would be things like cleaning the house, packing the dogs up with their special foods and assorted paraphernalia, making all the arrangements like flights, hotels, transportation to and from the airports, researching activities, packing and on and on!

And then there is the trip itself – all the joys of new sights, sounds, foods. Expecting the main job of each day is to have fun! Experiencing the wonder of being immersed in another place and almost forgetting what normal life is like.

This message is titled, “Coming Home,” however, because no matter how much I love to travel I love coming home more.  

Home is my base, my foundation, my comfort. It is where I want to be when I’m sick, tired, or travel and world-weary. When I have been away from home whether for work or vacation I am always happy to return.

What is home anyway? Is it a place? Yes, but so much more. It is a place where I belong. I belong there because of the people and animals there who love me and whom I love. We all belong there. We all draw rest and sustenance at home and we can face the next day as a result.

October 30, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Move it or Lose it!

I was greatly inspired the other day when I saw an elderly man walking slowly along the road. He had a walker and he was very bent over. His pace was painfully slow. When I drove by, though, he lifted his hand to wave and his head came up for a moment as he broke out in a big smile. This man, even with many limitations, understands the concept of move it or lose it.

My neighbor, a retired lady in her 70s, has never slowed down. Walking past her house with my dogs, almost always she comes zipping out her door to join us. During our walks she often informs me of all she is doing: walking several miles a day, vegetable gardening, yard-care like raking, mowing, and stacking wood, cooking and canning, volunteering at the local hospital, neighborhood dog-sitter, strength training and stretching, and crochet. She utilizes the concept of move it or lose it.

Lastly, my 84-year old dad, who inspires everyone he knows wowed us all at my niece’s recent wedding. This man cut a rug on the dance floor and kept up with people out there in their 20s and 30s! He is on his feet much of the day. He tends a huge vegetable garden and orchard, tends his lawn and his firewood. He can fix anything. If he doesn’t have the part needed he can often make it. He faithfully walks his little dog everyday and he is up for a bicycle ride anytime I ask him. My dad lives move it or lose it everyday!  

What should we take away from these 3 great examples? Move it or lose it will keep you healthy into old age, but don’t miss the bigger point – it’s fun!

November 9, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
You Don't Want to See the Doctor?

A friend with a backache told me recently that he was worried about going to the doctor for an evaluation. He was thinking that it would start him down the road to surgery and he just didn’t want to do that.

Another person I know was experiencing some symptoms of a potential medical problem. He went to 5 or 6 complementary practitioners, everyone from the acupuncturist to the chiropractor without any enlightenment as to the problem nor improvement of symptoms. When I asked him about seeing a medical doctor to get a diagnosis he said he didn’t want to do that. He was confident that he didn’t need a medical doctor.

I hear reservations from people about going to the doctor for lots of reasons. Two common reasons are losing control of health decisions and not needing or trusting a doctor.  

Don’t forget that when it comes to your own personal healthcare decisions you have the final say. I like to tell people that anyone you consult about physical health, whether alternative practitioners or medical doctors, will give you information. They will draw upon their training, education, and your situation to give you an opinion. And all of these disciplines are both science and art. This is why there can be differing opinions between practitioners of different disciplines and even between different medical doctors. You will sign a medical release to show consent for medical treatment. But remember, you do not have to sign and undergo any treatment! You can gather information and make the decision that is right for you.

And you are wise to be cautious about any treatment, medical or complementary. Iatrogenic death and disease is defined as, “caused by the diagnosis, manner or treatment of a physician.” Yes, every year in this country people die or suffer disease because of a physician! Physicians are human beings who are never perfect and it is impossible to completely understand your exact medical condition. A diagnosis and course of treatment are a physician’s best practice of his/her art of medicine. 

Full trust should also not be given to complementary practitioners. Massage therapists do not know everything that is happening with your body. We also make estimates as to the muscles involved in a problem. We are often wrong! I have heard many stories over the years from clients of other alternative practitioners like chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, and acupuncturists who were ineffectual, made a problem worse, and/or cost a lot of money for nothing.

The truth is the human body is extremely complex! We can all give you our best practice of our individual professions, and every one of us has a lot of success helping people. But due to the imprecise, artistic nature of healthcare it is probable to be wrong some of the time. Therefore, I suggest that you seek the information offered by different practitioners and then make an educated decision about your healthcare. Rather than avoid the information from one or another practitioner, go and gather. This way you can make the best decision for you.

November 20, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Chocolate Mint

I drink chocolate mint tea all winter long and I don’t pay a red cent for it! Chocolate mint tea aids digestion, has a stimulating effect without caffeine, tastes good, and can replace unhealthy drinks for a person looking to change. A few years ago I bought a small plant at a local garden center for just a few bucks. I planted it warily because I am well acquainted with peppermint’s errant ways. If you don’t know, peppermint will spread so aggressively you will rue the day you let it out of a pot! But I have found that chocolate mint spreads in a very friendly manner.

My original plant became about 2 feet across with no tending on my part (read: super easy to grow) and I have divided it many times now. So I have 4 bunches growing in different areas of my garden. I have also divided it to share with friends and to pot up and sell at my plant sale every spring.

Before the first hard frost of the fall/winter I cut it off and bundle it into bunches held by rubberbands. Then I hang it upside down in the basement to dry. Or if I’m lazier than usual I just plop it on a cookie cooling rack out of the way for awhile. The idea is to get air to it so it dries instead of rotting or molding. When it becomes crispy dry I simply stuff leaves, stems and all into an old tin and it becomes my winter supply of chocolate mint tea. I fill the mesh strainer in my teapot with the dried plant material and pour boiling water in to cover. Wait about 5 minutes and enjoy! Unlike real tea there is no caffeine and it doesn’t become bitter if left to steep for a long time. I keep refilling my cup until the pot is empty. By the way, my favorite teapot is a cast iron model with a stainless steel mesh strainer which is very fine and perfect for loose teas found at World Market for $20. Cast iron retains heat well, but can also go right onto the stovetop to reheat and it won’t chip or break. Also, iron is the only thing it could be releasing into my drink which is not a concern as it is actually an essential nutrient.

If you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on commercially prepared teas consider putting in a chocolate mint plant next spring!

December 2, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Dr. Johnson's Visit

Recently we had Martin Johnson, naturopathic doctor in as part of our guest speaker series. Each class gets sessions near the end of the program that feature practitioners from other natural medicine modalities. This allows students to get a window into these practices so they can become familiar with what they can offer to referred clients. Students also can develop a beginning network of trusted practitioners to whom they can confidently refer clients.

Martin Johnson is always one of the favorite speakers. He demonstrates how he uses a form of kinesiology to pinpoint the things which impair an individual’s current health state. He also shows how he can use this tool to zero-in on the exact supplement and dosage to aid the body’s correction of the problem. It has been fascinating to watch him figure out the students’ health.  

One in particular comes to mind. This student was not well and Dr. Johnson’s testing showed an overload of a dry cleaning chemical in her system. This was a mystery for a few minutes as she told us she didn’t work in or near a drycleaner and she didn’t get her clothes excessively cleaned. Then we learned that she did work in a clothing store – handling the new clothing for many hours per day. Dr. Johnson explained that this chemical is also put onto new clothes as a finisher to make them crisp and new-feeling. It comes off easily and is absorbed by the skin. (Therefore, all new clothes should be washed before wearing.) It was a good thing this student was about to graduate from massage school and get out of that clothing store!

Martin Johnson is someone I refer clients to for nutritional advice. It is wonderful to have such a caring and competent professional to send clients to because I must remember that nutritional advice is outside of my scope of practice as a massage therapist. Dr. Johnson runs his clinic right out of Total Health Nutrition Center in Menomonee Falls. He provides crucial counsel to people on their regular diet, but he also has available all of the supplements that can really help a particular health problem. I find that many clients are confused about supplements: which ones, when, how much, and why. I know when I send clients to Total Health and Dr. Johnson they will get good guidance.

Inviting professionals like Dr. Johnson in to speak at WSMT is an example of how we care about our students’ competence. Bringing them a good background in adjunct therapies makes them better health team members for their clients.

December 12, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Do You Really Want More Stuff?

​December is a busy month. Cards, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, delivering. It’s a lot. Then there is the hauling boxes and packaging to the curb, assembling, storing, and paying! My question for you is, “Do you really want more stuff?” I propose obtaining the things you need yourself, as needed, and in creative ways like resale shops if possible. And for the presents people must get you this time of year? Why not suggest that you would prefer to do some good in the world instead?

I have been on a little buzzy high for about a month now already, because I keep thinking about the family that is going to receive the cow I bought them through Heifer International. Yes, I bought a cow!  This great organization provides animals and instruction in keeping them as well as a requirement that the recipients share offspring of the first animal with their equally needy neighbors.

Another fun thing to do is exchange loans with your friends on Kiva, a website devoted to microloans for people in developing nations. You can pick loans to fund by criteria you choose: country, region, business proposition, individuals, groups, and amount starting with as little as $25. When a loan gets repaid you can reloan it again. Altogether I have made 39 loans so far. Did you know that experts say that extremism and terrorism take hold in areas of the world where there is extreme poverty and very little hope. Organizations like Kiva change poverty in the world to prosperity one entrepreneur at a time.

And my last plug today is for Compassion International. I always say I don’t have children, I have dachshunds, but the truth is I have 2 children. Mohammed is in Tanzania. His parents died of aids when he was little and I have been supporting him physically and spiritually through this great organization. Belanle is in Haiti and I was so distraught about his safety after the flooding and mudslides last year I had to call and get confirmation that he was ok. Both kids send letters and pictures and I get a kick out of watching them grow up over the years.  

The holidays can be a time of accumulating more stuff which provides a thrill, perhaps, for a short time. There’s another way to enjoy the holidays, though, by using resources to ease the suffering of someone very far away. The warm glow you feel inside from that lasts a lot longer and you won’t have to haul the packaging to the curb.

December 24, 2012
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Great Theory & Practice Teachers!

Here it is Christmas Eve and I’m reflecting on my blessings. I just celebrated with my family yesterday and I’m still processing all the good food which makes me slow-moving and reflective! It’s good to take time to think about this life and how abundantly we can live it right here in the USA.  

One thing I greatly appreciate is our teaching staff at WSMT. They really carry the load for me as I orchestrate the big picture. Alesia and Robin are our two hands-on Theory & Practice teachers. I have never received a complaint from a student about either one of these two dynamos. But more than that, I regularly receive highest scores possible and great comments.  

Looking back over past student exit surveys here are some highlights of comments I have received:

“Alesia obviously enjoys massage and teaching. Her passion is inspiring.”

“Alesia is the best teacher I’ve ever had, for anything. Ever.”

“Alesia is very patient with all of us – great instructor.”

“Robin did a great job helping us understand all the intricate muscle groups.”

”There is really not enough good things to say about Alesia! She knows her stuff and how to teach it. She is awesome!”

“Robin covered everything in good detail and if we had questions she would always find an answer and get back to us.”

“Robin made a seemingly boring subject fun and interesting.”

“Robin was the best.”

“Robin believed in me. Thanks to her I can really accomplish my dream to become a massage therapist. I owe it all to her. Thank you for everything!”

Today I share some photos from last week’s Theory & Practice class with Alesia. They are working through palpation of the forearm and hand muscles and bones. And Alesia is right in there with them, coaching, encouraging, and keeping everyone on track. Thank you Alesia and Robin and Merry Christmas!