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Well, she had to do massage research, didn't she?

August 14, 1998|By Kate Coleman

I've been talking about having a massage for years, but haven't taken the time.

You know how it is when you're busy - working full time, being a mom, keeping up with the laundry.

It's hard for me to justify taking an hour for myself - just to relax.

Finally, I had a legitimate excuse. It's for work: A story about massage. I could write it better if I had the experience, right?

I put myself in the hands of Eugenia "Jeanie" Keller, a person I've known and trusted for a long time. Formerly a hairdresser, Keller has been cutting my hair for about 25 years when she wasn't off on photography, basket-making or pottery sabbaticals. I knew and respected her hands and their work.

Keller has a room at The Gentle Nudge, a wellness and nutritional counseling center in Hagerstown. It is lovely, as I expected: Soft lighting, beautiful rugs, antique bookcases and a flannel-sheeted massage table that was as cozily comfortable as it looked. Aromatherapy candles gently scented the air. The fragrance was subtle - herbal and clean, not aerosol-air-freshener sweet.

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As usual, I was a little too chatty, so it took a while to get started. I completed the required health survey form. I noted a minor back and sciatic nerve problem a few years ago, and Keller paid close attention to that.

She left the room while I undressed - to my level of comfort - and lay on my back under the sheet. I let Keller choose the background music. It went from something that sounded sort of Far Eastern to Native American with a heartbeat rhythm and some rainfall. It wasn't the show tunes I like to sing along with in the car. It was pleasant and appropriate.

Keller started with some work on my neck and head. The Bulgarian lavender-scented oils on her hands smelled great.

Even though I know Keller, I had worried about being uncomfortable or embarrassed.

I wasn't. My torso was covered at all times. Keller gently and discreetly uncovered my limbs in turn as she worked. I almost chuckled as she firmly pulled each of my toes: "This little piggy" flashed absurdly into my mind.

I worried about my back hurting while lying on my stomach, but that was solved by placing my forehead against the padded ring extending over the edge of the table.

I had a classic Swedish, soft tissue massage, according to Keller. She also did a little cranio-sacral work on my head.

I thought I was doing well in the relaxation department, until Keller reminded me that she was holding my head. I didn't have to help her by holding it up myself. That was her job. My job was to let go and let her do it. I'll take that as a lesson for my life.

I felt good after the massage. I didn't feel any more like a 25-year-old than I did before, but I felt good.

I didn't feel guilty about taking care of me for a little while, and apparently, I was more relaxed than I realized. For the first time in forever, I overslept the next morning.

Kate Coleman is a Staff Writer for Lifestyle.

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