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  • Vanessa Rae

in a time when we can't touch

I started rubbing my mom's feet when I was about eight years old.

I can still remember the excitement around creating the most relaxing environment possible in our 90's living room: I'd pop in an Enya CD (remember the ethereal blue one titled "Shepherd Moons"?), light a few candles (okay, my parents would have to light them, but still, I asked permission) and put some squishy pillows from my parent's bed on the couch.

Voila! Welcome to Vanessa's Massage Parlour (which must be spelled with a "u" for authenticity).

For as long as I can remember, I've always loved touch. If you have read or heard of the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, than it should come as no surprise that my primary love language is Physical Touch. (As an aside, my least favorite is Receiving Gifts.)

When I finally followed my heart and started massage school in 2014, it felt like coming home. I loved studying muscles, bones, anatomy. I diligently practiced techniques, as awkward and unfamiliar as it felt in the beginning. I couldn't wait to do homework, take tests, examine skeletons, palpate muscles and explore the wide varieties of modalities that make massage such a fascinating field of study.

In many ways, opening my own massage practice is what I was put on this earth to do.

It is with deep gratitude and sometimes humble amazement that people haven chosen me to bring them a sense of wellness, relaxation and healing. My clients share their lives, their struggles, their aches and pains. They share their good news (my daughter is coming to visit from Alaska!) and their heartaches (my fiancee and I broke up).

I am always honored to listen and to give.

So it goes without saying that the COVID-19 outbreak has felt deeply and profoundly devastating. Not just because I am on shaky financial ground (though that is scary). Not just because I have an autoimmune disease and am scared I will get sick (though that is indeed terrifying).

But because I feel without purpose. I see now how much my sense of self-worth in this world is tied up in my ability to give to others.

One small thing I've been able to do each day is post videos on my social media with short, at-home massage techniques people can practice from the safety of their homes. This feels like a small contribution I can make to others while we all ride this thing out.

And wouldn't you know, just like that, I'm back to doing massage in the living room.

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Bonnie Calhoun
Mar 21, 2020

I remember those precious foot massages well. It was such fun to see your creativity and passion with it. And for me, it took me to such a place of relaxation. I treasure those moments and memories.

Now, on the point of you not liking to receive gifts, how would you describe what that may be about? Love you.

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