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I came to Rolfing out of curiosity. I didn’t really know much about it before my first session. I’d heard it was deeper than the deepest massage I’d ever had. I’d heard there was something about 10 sessions. I’d probably heard something about realignment or restructuring, but truth be told, maybe not. And that was about it. So, I didn’t have many expectations for going through the 10-series the first time. I didn’t know what was possible to hope for. And honestly, I thought I was doing pretty well. My body felt good, for the most part. I saw my chiropractor about once a week. I hiked and danced and ate reasonably well and got plenty of sleep and had a fairly low-stress life. I didn’t have any major complaints. I just wanted to learn about what Rolfing was.

However. I had no idea how much better my life could be after getting Rolfed. And here I am, almost 9 years after I first tried Rolfing and, looking back, there is so much I gained besides knowledge about Rolfing. So I made a listical. If I get in the habit of writing listicals, please stop reading this blog.

In no particular order, here is my personal list of 10 unexpected results of being Rolfed:
1. I can stand for hours at a time without pain. Once upon a time, I was a freshman at CU, and, as was customary at the time, I camped out with my friends to get season tickets to the football games. It’s not my thing now, but I had a blast going to those games as a freshman, with one small caveat: it killed my back. In the student section, we stood for the entire game and I remember watching the game clock desperately wishing for half-time when I could sit down without being taunted. And then again for the end of the game. My back and shoulders would ache after the first 20-30 minutes and so the remaining 2-3 hours would be torture. A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to a CU football game and for the fun of it, we stood in the student section. It wasn’t until the game was over that I realized I was perfectly comfortable. I had stood for at a tailgating party before the game and I was happy to continue standing at the continuation of the same party for another hour after the game. I hadn’t even needed to sit down during half time.
2. I no longer see my chiropractor. Which is a shame on an emotional level, because I really like my chiropractor as a person. I just don’t feel like I need a chiropractor anymore. There was a time in my life when I was getting adjusted 4-6 times a week. I had been getting adjustments since I first “threw my back out” at 17 years old. I’ve worked for 3 different chiropractors. I love chiropractors. But I don’t need one anymore, because I don’t “throw my back out” anymore. And my ribs stay where they belong most of the time. And if anything’s out of place, I go see my Rolfer, not my chiropractor. So, in the last 6 or 7 years, I think I’ve been adjusted less than 10 times.
3. I have better posture. This one, I should’ve seen coming, as improved posture is one of the main goals of Rolfing. But again, I didn’t know much about Rolfing and I didn’t know that was one of the goals. Having been told to “sit up straight” and “stop slouching” my whole life, I now feel like I have pretty decent posture. It’s not perfect or anything. But I can look back on pictures of myself from high school and college and see my head 6 inches in front of my shoulders. Whereas in more recent pictures of me, my head is actually over my shoulders. And my shoulders aren’t rounded forward as much. Without even trying, or my mom nagging me.
4. I stopped spraining my ankles. I used to sprain one ankle or the other a couple times a year. I mean, I’ve had 2 or 3 ankles braces as well as two ace bandages in my medicine kit since the beginning of college, when I “borrowed” them from my parents’ medicine kit. A few months ago as I was konmari-ing my bathroom, I realized, I haven’t used those ankle braces since I first got Rolfed. And into the garbage they went. To be fair, this is not just because of Rolfing, though I attribute it largely to Rolfing. But it’s also because I’ve transitioned to minimal footwear and spending as much time barefoot as possible. I’ve helped my ankles get stronger and more adaptable through regular use in challenging situations as opposed to trying to always keep them protected in supportive, inflexible shoes and boots. But still, Rolfing started me on that journey and thinking differently about my feet and ankles.
5. I’m a runner. A trail ultra runner to be exact (I run longer than marathon-length races on trails, not roads). I used to hate running. Hate. Dread. Despise. And again, I can’t give Rolfing full credit for my current love of running. But as a combination of a few of the above surprises (better posture, stronger ankles), running is a lot more comfortable than it used to be. And as a direct result of Rolfing, I can breathe so much better now than I used to be able to, which is somewhat important when you’re running.
6. I can kneel and squat without pain. I had knee surgery in 2007 for a torn lateral meniscus and after months of physical therapy, I was frustrated that I still couldn’t kneel or do a full squat without pain. When I asked my doctor and my physical therapist about this, they both responded with some version of “You just shouldn’t do those things anymore. And while you’re at it, you shouldn’t run.” I was 26 and being told that I might never be able to kneel or squat again was beyond maddening. Since being Rolfed, I often forget which knee I had surgery on. I have no problems whatsoever with kneeling or squatting. And see above about the running.
7. My eyesight has improved. This is such a weird one. But it’s undeniable. I first got contacts as a freshman in high school and every check-up with the eye doctor since then, my prescription got a little stronger. Until I got Rolfed. Now, they downgrade my prescription with every check-up. At this rate, I won’t need glasses or contacts by the time I’m 45.
8. I have more confidence. I feel like getting Rolfed helped me understand who I am better. And helped me express that core, true self more clearly. With less apologizing, less accommodating of other people’s expectations for who I should be. I just am. This is me. And knowing, in a deep way, with a felt-sense, that who I am is just fine. Who I am is great, actually. I had no idea bodywork could bring me confidence. But it did. And with this confidence, I’ve been better able to navigate the world in a manner that’s congruent with my values. Having a better understanding of who I am helps me make choices that support me.
9. Along the same lines, I have better relationships. Maybe this is just a side-effect of getting older, and of having more practice at being in relationships, or of having more confidence. But I really think that Rolfing, in helping be have a better understanding of who I am, helped me relate to other people differently and in a clearer way. I think it has also helped me be a better communicator and if there’s one way to improve a relationship, it’s better communication.
10. I have a career. I was not supposed to have a career. I got bored after 6 months at any job I ever had. The longest I ever held a job continuously was 14 months. I just couldn’t imagine myself doing the same thing every day for 40 years. I couldn’t really imagine myself doing the same thing every day for 3 years. So a career was out of the question. Until Rolfing. Because with Rolfing, I never do the same thing every day. I’ve never done the same session twice. Even if I do the same session of the 10-series 4 times in one day, that session looks completely different with each client. So I don’t get bored. And I don’t even feel like I have a job. And please don’t ever make me retire. I love this work so, so, so much.

So there’s my list of 10 unexpected benefits of Rolfing. What about you all out there? Any surprise results since you’ve been Rolfed? I’d love to hear about them!

Alright.  We’re going to streamline this and I’m going to talk about Sessions Eight and Nine at the same time.  Laziness and efficiency are super closely related.  Trust me on this one.

So, with the start of Session Eight, we are officially finished with the core sessions and into the integration sessions.  And, as my hero Rolfer, Ray McCall says, “With Session Eight, the trail thins out a bit.” In Sessions One through Seven, there’s a clearly defined ‘territory’ of the body we’re working with.  There are clearly defined goals.  With Sessions Eight and Nine, there’s a lot more that depends on each individual’s circumstances, so these sessions are very customized.  Basically, we’re trying to differentiate anything that has not yet been differentiated in the previous seven sessions.  And integrate all these new changes so that they’re comfortable and easy for your body to use.  As it’s taught to newbie Rolfers, there’s usually an upper body session and a lower body session.  But it can be two middles.  It can be a left side and a right side.  It can be a right lower and a left middle.  And as Ray also likes to say, “You get to vote, but I get to decide.”  Not to remind you of our current political situation or anything.  So, this is when I really, really want to know what you think is still missing.  What still needs attention?  Was there a session you felt ended way too soon?  What area of your body still feels neglected or stuck?  I’m going to make the final decision about what needs work, and in what order, but I really do want to know what you’re missing because these two sessions are our last chance before the end of the series.  Session Ten is not for new projects.

Because Sessions Eight and Nine don’t have well defined territories or goals beyond differentiation and integration, they’re a little tricky to talk about.  But basically, I just want to see all the parts of your whole body working well together.  I want your core to be able to express through your sleeve without restriction or distortion.  I might ask you to walk or do some other diagnostic tests to see what looks restricted or where movement has to go around instead of through.  There are some really funky positions I might put you in during these sessions, too, trying to link everything up.  These are not your standard “face up” or “face down” positions, but rather “while on your stomach, turn your head to the right, raise your right arm up by your head, bring your left arm down by your side, turn your hips so that your left hip is on the table, while your right hip is stacked above it, bring your left knee up towards your chest and straighten your right leg a little behind your (quite twisted by now) midline.”  Go ahead and try it.  I’ll wait.  It’s easier with help from your Rolfer, but it’s always a little awkward.

When it was time for Dave and me to trade Session Eight, I was ready for some body work.  Before Session Eight, I had fallen twice while running and my left shoulder was bothering me.  Dave started working on that left shoulder and I got all emotional, which was surprising but not uncomfortable.  It passed fairly quickly.  After the session, I felt relaxed and open.  My upper body felt spacious, my shoulders were back without any effort, my head was upright, and for some reason it felt like there was more space between my teeth.  I haven’t had any shoulder pain since, so I’d call that a win.

When we traded Session Nine, I actually wasn’t desperate for bodywork.  I felt really good walking into the session, with nothing calling for attention, so I guess I was almost ready to be done with the series.  Since I wasn’t in any physical discomfort, and things felt like they were moving well together, Dave was free to do a very energetic session, just using SourcePoint Therapy and his intuition to guide him.  Over and over again, I felt big waves of tension being released that I hadn’t known were there.  Big breaths, neck stretching, and hip wiggling were my contribution to the work.  Afterwards, I felt like popped popcorn: expanded in every direction.  I felt light and calm and easy like no problem was too big or heavy or serious.  I felt like my emotions could just flow through me instead of getting stuck and spinning around.  So basically, no complaints.

Sessions Eight and Nine are where the art of Rolfing comes into play.  We get to leave the formulas behind and play with the beauty of the body.  It’s a magical part of the series, even if it’s a little hard to talk about.

Please forgive me, SassyPants.  I know I wrote back in May about how I became a Rolfer.  In fact, I wrote so damn much about it, that it took up two posts.  And now, I’m telling the same old story, again, this time on video.  Really, if you already know, or don’t really care how I became a Rolfer, you don’t have to watch the video.  Not that I could make you if I tried.  But really, you don’t have to watch it.  I just get this question ALL the time.  And I love answering it.  So I answered it in a video to put up on my site.  And I loved the results.  So I’m sharing it with you.  And I say ‘and’ a lot.  Also, I say ‘so’ a lot.  So many things to beg forgiveness for.

If you have anything you’d rather hear about or questions you’d like answered, please let me know.  All the topics I considered writing about today bored me.  I’m asking you to be my inspiration.  Got anything good for me?

In the meantime, if you want, check out the video and let me know what you think.  Worth putting up on the site?

Oh!  And Demo Day is on Saturday.  Yes, this Saturday, the 15th.  Tell your friends.  Or your family members.  Or your neighbors.  Or nobody at all.  But if you want someone to come give me a try, this could be a good way for them to get a taste.  30 minute trial sessions for $10 each.  New clients only.  Have ‘em give me a call, or shoot me an email, if they want to schedule one.  Yay!  Demo Day!

It may be hard to believe, but sometimes I forget about Rolfing and how helpful it can be.  It’s especially hard to believe considering I am a Rolfer.  This is what I do all day, every day.  But you see, I have this weird thing in my brain about Rolfing: I think it can help just about everything, for just about everyone.  Except me.

Someone tells me how their knee’s been bothering them; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone tells me how they feel out of whack and off kilter; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone tells me how they get headaches a few times a week; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Someone’s freaking out about work and their house and their boyfriend; I think to myself, “I can help with that.”  Then, I break my toe, sprain my shoulder, get emotionally wrapped up into a giant-multi-colored-extra-knotted ball of string and I think to myself, “Whatever am I going to do?!?  Who could possibly help me with this!?!”

And so, last week, I found myself with said broken toe (my first broken bone!), and sprained shoulder (thanks for nothing, yoga), and emotional ball of knots and I finally (finally!!!) remembered that Rolfing might be able to help me.  So, I called up my bud, Dave Sheldon, a Rolfer in Boulder, and asked if he could fit me in.  He said yes and I walked into his office with a laundry list of complaints.  It was one of those sessions (do you do this?) where you go in, planning to mention just those two or three things that are really bothering you, and by the time you’re five minutes into the session you’ve listed 23 things instead.  “AND my roommate’s dog is driving me crazy!  AND my sister’s coming to visit next week and it’s stressing me out!  AND my sacrum feels all wonky!  AND I’ve been wearing flip-flops for two weeks now and I’m sick of it, but I can’t wear any other shoes without my toe hurting and I can’t exactly walk into the bank barefoot, can I?”  And so on, and so forth.

Then, the funniest (and at the same time the most natural) thing happened.  I got on the table and closed my eyes, and Dave started working.  All of a sudden, it felt like all these layers were falling away from me.  Like I’d been wearing a suit made out of 23 layers of tissue paper.  So light that I hadn’t thought to take it off, but enough that it was affecting the way I looked and that rustling noise was really getting to me.  And one by one, Dave gently cut each layer away, and let it fall to the ground.  Some layers were wrapped tightly around my foot, keeping it stable, but I didn’t need those anymore.  Some of them were wrapped all around my shoulder, all the way down to my wrist and around my ribs and spine.  I didn’t need those anymore either.  Most of them were wrapped around my heart, or my solar plexus, or my throat, or my head, getting me caught up in unnecessary worry and fear and distress.  I didn’t need a single one of those tissue paper layers.

And I realized there, on the table, why it was that I fell in love with Rolfing in the first place.  Dave wasn’t taking away anything that I needed, or anything that was inherently me.  And he wasn’t adding anything to me, either.  He was simply uncovering the real me, and giving me permission for that to be enough.  I didn’t need any of this tissue paper to make me stable or pretty or to cover anything up.  I was perfectly me, without all that other stuff.  He was reminding my shoulder and my toe that they already knew how to recover from an injury quickly and with ease.  He was reminding me that worry and fear were good intuitive signals to listen to, but there was no reason to walk around spinning in them all day.  And the greatest part was that he did all that without saying a word.  He worked with the physical tissues and the energetic patterns and gently unwound them until there I was, just the way I should be.  And when I came from that centered, more-me sort of place, I realized, my sister and I had shared a house (and usually a bedroom) for 16 1/2 years.  We could probably figure out 3 days just fine.  Oh, and my sacrum felt better, too.

It was funny.  When I walked into his office, I didn’t feel like someone other than myself.  But when I walked out…the change was drastic and clear.  I’d walked in like a papier-mâché doll of myself and walked out as me.  And that right there is some good shit, yo.

Last night I sat down to write a newsletter about scarcity versus abundance.  Three paragraphs in, I decided to try a different approach.  Three paragraphs after that, I decided to try a different topic.  After a while, I just stopped.  As I climbed into bed, mad at myself for not having finished writing today’s newsletter, I realized the problem:  something else was on my mind.  Something else has been on my mind for about a week now, to be honest.

I got a call last week from one of my instructors at the Rolf Institute.  Apparently there’s been some discussion on the Rolf Forum about this video of mine, called “What Should I Expect From Rolfing?”  I made this video simply because I had about 20 people in a row come in for their first session and say to me at the end, “Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting.”  I thought that people should have a better understanding of what they were getting into before they came for a session.  Also, I figured it would help weed out the people who weren’t a good fit for my style of working.  I think it’s been doing its job because nowadays, pretty much every new client I get, I absolutely love, right off the bat.  There have been a lot of perfect fits, at least from my point of view, which is super awesome.  Less people wasting their money on the wrong Rolfer.  Less people spending an hour and a half thinking, “This isn’t what I was expecting!”  More people thinking, “Ah, this is just what I wanted!”  Seems like a good thing all around.

And yet, there’s this argument going on.  Let me explain.  The Rolf Forum was created back when the interweb was new, as a way to connect the (relatively small) Rolfer community.  To date there are just barely 1800 Certified Rolfers™ in the whole world.  Put a few hundred in Japan, a bunch in Europe and Canada, some in Brazil and Bali and Australia, and it can start to feel kinda lonely being a Rolfer.  I know it’s hard to believe, here in Colorado, where the Rolf Institute is located and there’s a Rolfer on every corner.  But there are zero Rolfers in Mississippi.  And two in Indiana (and they’re both named Dan; weird).  So the internet brought all these isolated Rolfers together to talk about questions they’d had or struggles with their practices or new research being done they wanted to share.  I’ll be honest:  I’ve never been on the Rolf Forum.  Don’t even know where to find it.  Not because I don’t want to connect with other Rolfers, but because my network of Rolfers is more personal and specific.  I feel very comfortable calling or emailing my instructors and mentors if I have a question or concern.  My classmates make the perfect network when I have a practice building question, or just want to geek out about Rolfing for a bit.  I call Sasha and Laura up, or better yet, we get together for beers when we’re in the same state.  I trade sessions with a few different Rolfers, and we ask all the questions we have, during those sessions.  I waste enough time on Facebook, thank you very much, and I don’t feel the need for another place to spend time online.  So it’s not out of disrespect for the Forum that I’ve never been on it; I just don’t seem to need it in my life.

But my instructor called me because my little video had started an argument on the Forum.  Apparently there are some Rolfers who don’t think what I’m doing is Rolfing.  Ida Rolf never talked about energy work, on video, at least.  There are plenty of quotes from her about energy fields and energy work in books, but she was trying to be seen as credible as she created this new form of bodywork in the 60′s and energy work didn’t go over so great with the medical community at the time.  Damn hippies.  Dr. Rolf put a great deal of energy into explaining things in structural terms and making sure her students were well educated in anatomy and physiology.  She wasn’t going to have people talking about pushing on the thingy until it felt squishy.  So, the argument goes, if Ida didn’t want to talk about energy work in her videos, why should I?  And there’s also the question of brand identity.  If someone goes to see a Rolfer in Minnesota, then moves to Denver and wants a Rolfer here, so comes to see me, they’re not going to get the same thing they got in Minnesota.

Well, duh, is what I say to that.  If you go see one doctor, then go see another, you’re not going to get the same thing.  That’s why it’s called a second opinion.  If they were all exactly the same, you wouldn’t bother to get a second opinion.  But just because different doctors do things differently, it doesn’t mean one’s a doctor and one’s not.  And when it comes to me talking about things that Ida wouldn’t…um, I’m not Ida.  Obviously.  I couldn’t be a little old lady from New York if I tried.  I don’t even like New York.  And I’m 5’8″, not 5’2″.  And Zordan’s a funny name, but not in the same way Rolf is.

So, it seems obvious to me, that this is a non-issue.  Yes, I’m a Rolfer.  Yes, I do energy work.  No, I don’t mind talking about it.  But now I want to know what you think.  Is what I do Rolfing?  You’ve had a session from me.  You’ve heard what other people say about Rolfing, and you’ve done your research on Rolfing in general.  Many of you have had Rolfing sessions from other Rolfers.  How do the sessions compare?  Would you say I don’t belong with other Rolfers?  When you get a chance,  post a comment on the blog here.  I’d really love to hear what you think.  And I’ll try to get to scarcity versus abundance soon.  I promise.

Oh, and Demo Day is Saturday.  If you haven’t had a session from me, and you want to try it for yourself, to see if I’m really a Rolfer or not, this is the perfect opportunity.  A 30 minute session for just $10.  There are only 4 spots left, so if you want one, get on it.

If you missed the beginning, or want a refresher, scroll down, or click here.  We’re just going to continue where we left off.

One more year went by and I continued to wander.  I not only continued with the shamanism, but I got into herbalism, and I’d gone to a gong bath, and a biodynamic therapist, and a Chinese five element healer, and a qi healer.  I loved them all (well, except for maybe the gong bath; that wasn’t my thing), but I still couldn’t picture myself as any of these practitioners.  They were too weird.  Or they sang a lot (I don’t sing unless I’m alone).  Or they were super silent and subtle.  Or they wore horrible clothes.  For one reason or another, none of them struck a chord.  And as I was hiking with my friend, Ruthie, we’re discussing this.  I said that I’d like to continue on this journey of self-discovery and healing, but I’m looking to try something new.  And Ruthie, being the genius she is, mentions the Rolf Institute.  “You know it’s in Boulder, right?  And you can get sessions from a student for super cheap as part of the student training.”

Huh?  How had I missed the fact that the Rolf Institute was in Boulder while I lived there for 4 1/2 years?  No, I didn’t know.  But I was still nervous, you know, with the whole pain thing.  But I said, “Well, I’ll do it, if you do.”  I’d tried so many things by now, I figured it couldn’t be worse than getting whacked with crone’s wort (yeah, that happened).  So Ruthie calls me the next day, after she’s called the Rolf Institute to see when their next clinic is.  “They had 2 spots left in the clinic that starts next week.”  Well, this looks like a sign for the universe, so I say, “you told ‘em we’d take ‘em, right?”  And again, Ruthie’s wisdom won out, so she says, “of course!”  And on a Tuesday evening, she and I head up to Boulder for our “orientation.”  We go into this office building complex out in Gunbarrel and sit in rows of chairs arranged in a semi-circle.

After a brief introduction by a bubbly 20-something, the lead instructor for the class gets up to talk.  He’s not wearing shoes.  Who doesn’t wear shoes when they’re talking in front of a 30 strangers!?  Ray McCall, that’s who.  Rolfer and SourcePoint Therapist extraordinaire.  But I don’t know this yet.  All I know is that he says something along the lines of, “People always ask me if Rolfing’s going to help their shoulder, or their knee, or if it’s going to make them taller.  And I don’t know.  I can’t tell you if Rolfing’s going to help any of those things.  What I can tell you is that Rolfing will make you more you.”  And I was hooked.  That’s all I needed.  I hadn’t even met my student Rolfer.  I didn’t care.  I wanted to be more me.  I wanted everyone else to be more them.  I thought that was the way to achieve world peace.  Truth be told, I still think that.

And at the same time, my logical, physicist brain was saying, “Slow the f*@k down, Theresa!  Give it a try before you go doing anything crazy.”   So two days later I showed up for my first session of the 10-series.  I can’t remember if my Rolfer worked on my right side or my left first, but when she was done with that first side she asked me to take a breathe and compare the difference side to side.  It was magical!  I felt like one lung was 4 times the size of the other!  I felt like everyone in the room was probably laughing at me because I looked so funny and unbalanced with one side all inflated and one side all flat and lifeless.  I felt like I couldn’t wait for her to do the other side!  And, I was still waiting for that dreaded pain I’d been expecting.  Needless to say, I loved Rolfing.  And I now wanted to be a Rolfer.  One session in.  I told myself to wait until the end of the 10-series before making any rash, life-changing decisions.

The second session was better than the first.  My Rolfer worked on my feet and lower legs and while it was a little intense, I’d had worse pain from massages.  Then, I sat up and put my feet on the floor, and the strangest thing happened.  I looked down and got really confused.  Those weren’t my feet there below my legs.  No really.  I knew what my feet looked like and those weren’t my feet.  Strange.  And when I stood up…oh wow.  I felt so…stable.  Not that I’d felt wobbly before.  But comparatively, I might as well have been walking on stilts, blindfolded before this.  I felt like I could stand for days and walk for miles and miles and miles.  I just felt so strong and stable and balanced and grounded.  This was it.  This was what I’d been looking for all those years.  It was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down and the angels started singing and playing their harps while birds were chirping in the background.  Once again, I reminded myself not to do anything drastic before finishing the 10-series.

I made it to the 7th session before I walked in the admissions counselor’s office and asked, “what do I need to do to come to school here?”  (Convenient that it was just around the corner from my Rolfer’s “office,” eh?)  She told me that the next introductory class they had was full, but that she’d put me on the list for the class starting in 4 months.  She gave me the application material and told me to get it back to her when I had a chance.  The next day I got a phone call from said admissions counselor, “Hey Theresa, I’m calling because we just had someone drop out of the class that starts next month.  Do you want that spot?”  I hesitated for about 4 nanoseconds before practically screaming at the poor woman, “YES!”  We managed to finish out the conversation and I got off the phone.  Then, I clearly remember jumping around my kitchen and yelling and jumping some more.  Then more yelling and more jumping.  Then calling some friends and not understanding why they weren’t yelling and jumping with me (they would’ve, but they were at work).

I was gonna be a Rolfer!!!!

And the rest is pretty boring, I guess.  I went to class.  On the first day, we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and for the first time in my life I felt like I was really home.  This was my family.  I had to get up at 5:30 every morning for class (at the time my regular hour of waking was 11am) and I woke up every morning with a smile because I got to go learn more about Rolfing.  I studied and did homework and practiced on anyone who would let me.  I went to lots more class.  I practiced a bunch more.  And slowly, but surely, I became a Rolfer.  On April 30, 2010, I graduated as a Certified Rolfer from the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.  I was crying and smiling and crying and smiling some more.  It was incredibly difficult and at the same time the most natural thing in the world.  I never for one second doubted that I was on the right path.  Finally.

So that’s it.  That’s how it happened.  Now you know.

As promised, this week we’re going to continue with the commonly asked question of “How did you get into this?”  Which is probably my favorite question, but it takes a little while to answer it.  So get yourself a mug of tea and settle in.  We’re going all the way back to the mid nineties.

Once upon a time, as a high school student, I started getting interested in alternative medicine.  I’m not really sure where this interest cam from, although my parents’ distrust of medical doctors may have played a part.  Then again, my brother’s a nurse, so it could have gone either way I suppose.  Regardless, from a fairly early age I struggled to accept the “something hurts, take a pill” view of healing.  And as the obsessive-compulsive, overly passionate, eager reader nerd that I am, I dove into every book I could get my hands on about alternative methods of healing.  I read about ayurveda and reflexology.  I learned about nutritional deficiencies and acupuncture.  I read about yoga and macrobiotics.  And, because I was a pompous know-it-all I started lecturing everyone about whatever I’d learned that week.  My volleyball coach was obviously suffering from a vitamin C deficiency.  If only my friend with eczema would start eating flax seed all his problems would go away.  My own bruises were treated by applying vitamin E.  Of course, I didn’t stop eating flammin’ hot cheetos and drinking cherry coke every afternoon.  Do what I say, not what I do.  I’m sure I was a real joy to spend time with.

Anyway.  With the arrogance only a teenager can posses, I decided I would grow up to be the best doctor in the world.  I was also planning to be an astronaut (the first to visit Pluto) and the President.  When people told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be, I apparently took it to heart.  In my plan to be the best doctor in the world, I would then need to go not only to medical school, but to chiropractic school, and acupuncture school, and massage school, and ayurveda school, and aromatherapy school, and reiki school, and herbalism school, and homeopathy school…you get the picture.  I wanted to know all there was to know about every single modality of healing on the planet.  I also had the foresight and general practicality of a teenager, so it didn’t dawn on me that A) I’d be so far in debt by the time I was done with all that school that I’d never be able to get out of it, B) I’d be about 237 years old by the time I was done with all that school, and C) having spent all those years in school and zero years actually practicing anything I’d learned, I’d be the worst doctor in the world, instead of the best.

Regardless, as I entered my senior year of high school, this was the genius plan I was sticking to.  Then, I read this book about homeschooling, which doesn’t have much to do with the story except that it encouraged me to actually meet a chiropractor and see what this whole “holistic healing” thing was all about.  There was one chiropractor in the neighborhood and I rode my bike up there and walked in the door.  I just laid it all out.  “Hi, I want to be the best doctor in the world and I’m really interested in alternative medicine and could I maybe work here or follow you around or just hang out in the lobby once in a while?”  And the generous Dr. Reed said yes to all of the above, which seemed natural at the time, but seems pretty amazing in hindsight.  I started working there a few hours a week and in the process, I learned a little bit about insurance billing, a little bit about supplements, a little bit about homeopathy, and a medium bit about what it looked like behind the scenes at this particular chiropractor’s office.  Once in a while the doc would (with his patients’ permission) let me come into the treatment rooms with him where he would explain what he was doing and why.  I got my first (and many subsequent) adjustments and felt e-stim for the first time.  I loved it all and thought it was amazing, but I had a hard time picturing myself as a chiropractor.

So, I just kept going.  After graduation, I got a summer job to help pay for college.  In addition to my few hours a week with the chiropractor, I started working for the local acupuncturist.  Same story, different building.  I learned about moxa, and cupping, and that thing they do with the spoon…maybe gua-sha?  It’s been awhile.  I had needles stuck in my meridians and I washed the sheets.  Dr. Broderick was as wonderful as the chiropractor about bringing me into the treatment rooms with her (with her patients’ permission) and explaining what she was doing and why.  Once again, I loved it all, but couldn’t picture myself as an acupuncturist in the end.

I proceeded with the plan.  My parents helped move my freckled self 1000 miles west to Boulder, Colorado to attend CU as a physics major.  Not only did I love physics (nerd alert!), but I knew my chances of getting into med school were better with a physics degree than the more common biology or chemistry degrees.  I took all the standard freshman-year classes, then took a year off to establish residency for cheaper tuition, which, again, isn’t relevant, except that my friends were now a year ahead of me in school.  During that year, I worked for Dr. Duggan, another chiropractor as the entire billing department.  I dominated those insurance companies!  I didn’t let them get away with shortchanging us or our patients even one cent!  And I was so incredibly stressed out and exhausted that I was miserable.  But, here I also met and worked with Dr. Leach, who is to play a part in our story later on.  Back to school, where I took all the biology classes and labs.  I took chemistry and then fell in love with organic chemistry (I warned you earlier about my nerdiness).  I learned about quantum physics and multiplying matrices.  But there was a wrench hurtling toward my plans, unbeknownst to me.  See, my best friend, Elizabeth, was planning to go to med school, too and she did so, one year ahead of me.

And I watched (over the phone) in horror as my best friend became this studying machine.  We rarely talked ’cause she had to study.   And when we did talk, all she talked about was studying.  She had no time to sleep, let alone eat, or have friends, or go for hikes, or do any of the things I really valued in my life.  I started thinking long and hard about this whole “best doctor in the world” plan.  Was it worth it?  Was it really what I wanted?  Was this the best way to go about it?  Maybe it was fear.  Maybe it was coming to my senses.  Maybe it was both, but I decided going to med school wasn’t what I wanted after all.  Which is great, looking back, but it left me feeling a bit lost.  Now what?

Truth be told, now, I wandered.  For a long time.  I dropped out of college with 3 1/2 years done towards a physics degree.  People told me I’d regret it.  But 8 1/2 years later I’m still waiting for regret to set in.  I only wanted a physics degree to get me into med school and if I didn’t want to go to med school anymore I didn’t see the point in continuing to acquire debt and struggle through math problems that took 4 days each.  So I moved back to Chicago for a while.  I thought I was going to open a restaurant (’cause med school would be too much work, ha!).  I coached a volleyball team.  I waited tables.  I realized I hated the weather in Chicago and missed the Rockies.  I packed up my old Honda Civic and drove back to Denver.  I waited more tables.  I got a job working for Dr. Leach as a chiropractic assistant at his practice in Lafayette.  Once again I was doing insurance billing, along with taking x-rays and doing ultrasound.  For the first time ever, I heard of Rolfing!  A patient mentioned they were going to get Rolfed later in the week.  I asked Dr. Leach about it.  He told me it was like super-deep-and-painful-massage.  Yowza.  No thanks.

I started working on my own development.  I guess this is what happens when you’re 23 or 24.  You realize you can’t just drink your life away and maybe there’s more to it all.  I started learning about qi gong and meditation.  I saw a shaman and got a soul retrieval.  I quit my job with Dr. Leach to open a dance studio.  I realized how much work it would take to open a dance studio.  I remember sitting in Wahoo’s Fish Tacos while two guys at a table next to me discussed Rolfing.  I paid attention.  They talked about how super-intense and super-deep it was.  I was still on the no-thanks-train.

This theme of alternative-medicine-healer kept coming up.  I was interested in a lot of things, obviously, but healing was recurring.  I had dreams where I was told that my carreer would involve working with my hands.  I thought about massage therapy.  But it didn’t seem like it was “enough.”  I felt like massage made people feel good temporarily, but didn’t fix what caused the pain in the first place.  It might as well be ibuprofen for all I cared.  I started a gardening business.  I grew organic vegetables for people in their own yards.  When I say I wandered, I mean it.  Then, my very good friend Kate started getting Rolfed.  She signed up for the 10-series, to be exact.  And very early on in the process she said, “Theresa, I think you need to check this out.”  Um, no Kate, Rolfing hurts.  I’ll pass.  I have better things to spend my money on.  A few more sessions in and she wouldn’t let it go.  “Theresa, for real.  This is a modality that I think you’d really like.”  I’m not a masochist, but thanks.  A few months later, I got “Know Yourself” and “Honor Yourself” tattooed on my wrists.  I passed out from the pain and thought nothing of it, other than it was embarrassing.

We could continue, and we will, but this is getting a little long, even longer than I’d imagined.  So let’s take a break, shall we?  To be continued next week, I promise.

While I was in Chicago last week, I got a good question from one of my clients that I thought I’d share:  What happens when a client comes in with no pain?  Short answer:  I get really excited.

Now, for the long answer…

See, most of the people I see in my office are there looking to “fix” something, as you know because you watched last week’s interview, right?.  Your shoulder; your back; your left pinky toe; they all hurt and you want them not to hurt.  Which is great, and I get it.  Pain sucks; you want it to go away.  I want that, too.  And until we get rid of the pain, you’re not going to be able to focus on much else.

But my “real” goal as a Rolfer and as a SourcePoint Therapist is to allow health to manifest.  I want your true self to come forth and shine in its most vibrant form.  Don’t you want that, too?!?  Getting rid of the pain may be the first step in the process, but once that’s accomplished, we can focus on encouraging health and vibrancy.

So when a client comes in with no pain, I get excited.  It’s rare, you see, for someone to walk in my door just because they’re curious.  Just because they want to see what this Rolfing thing is all about.  Just because they heard that Rolfing could make you more you.  But when it happens, I love it.  Then, we get down to business.  This particular client, who has no pain, is the perfect candidate for the traditional 10-series because it’s such a thorough full-body tune up.  But 10 sessions is a big commitment and until you’re absolutely ready, it’s not the sort of thing you want to rush into.  So generally, we start the same way I’d start any other session, by setting the 4 diamond points and doing a scan.  Generally when people come in with no physical pain, we get to explore other layers of their being, such as the emotional, traumatic, or karmic blockages that may be preventing health from manifesting.  Often, this is tied up in the physical, but they’re not aware of the holding patterns, so we work on bringing awareness and releasing restrictions.

Working with clients who have no pain can throw me a little off kilter, seeing as I’m so used to working with a goal in mind.  But it also leaves a lot of room for creativity and just trusting the energy to lead me to the right place.  With no goal of “fixing the back pain,” I don’t worry that my own intentions or projections are skewing my intuition or the sourcepoint scans I’m doing.  Everything’s on the table, so to speak.  Nothing is too “off base” to be considered.  So, in the end, when a client comes in with no pain, I get excited.

 

Thanks for your help with Demo Day!
Next month there won’t be a Demo Day, but they’ll start back up on June 16th.

Want to learn how to do SourcePoint yourself?
One of the founders of SourcePoint Therapy is coming to Boulder May 18th-20th to teach an introductory class for anyone who wants to take it.  You don’t have to be a bodyworker or healthcare practitioner.  This form of energy work is easy to learn and very powerful for maintaining your own health as well as the health of your family members.  The cost is $375.  For more information, please contact Dave Sheldon at 303-519-2412.

Meditation/Bodywork Retreat
The Posture of Meditation:  Breathing Through the Whole Body.  October 26-November 4th, in Crestone, Colorado with Will Johnson.  Combining meditation techniques with Rolfing.  Participants will receive a Rolfing session every other day for a total of 5 sessions, while spending several hours each day in meditation.  If interested, please let me know.

I’m back in the States from the incredibly lovely France as of yesterday and feeling pretty good, thanks to Jake’s acupressure tips to avoid jet lag.  Jake, my whole family says thank you.  However, my brain’s still a tiny bit foggy.  So instead of writing a possibly rambling, possibly nonsensical article about carpal tunnel syndrome, today, I give you a video.  Last summer, my friend Alisha interviewed me and this is the result.  I know, it’s a bit long.  But if you watch to the end, you get to see me dancing around my house like a goof, so there’s something to look forward to.

I hope you enjoy it, but regardless of your reactions, I’d love to hear about them.  Please feel free to post your comments here on the blog!  Thanks and take care!

Practical notes for clients:

Chicagoans:
Last chance for Chicago Rolfing.  I’ve got two appointments available tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:30 and 4:00.  On Wednesday, I have an 11:30 opening.  If you want one of them, let me know.

Coloradans:
I fly back to Denver on Wednesday night, but my first available appointment is Saturday at 11:30.  Then, on Sunday is another Demo Day!  So let your friends and family know they can try a 30-minute teaser session of Rolfing for just $10.  New clients only, please.

Once upon a time I wrote an article about plantar fasciitisWhile I found it absolutely brilliant at the time, I have since realized it’s lacking in the practical application department.  Sure, you can get a great basic understanding of what plantar fasciitis is and why you might suffer from it.   And those things are very helpful and all well and good and a wonderful place to start.  In fact, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here and read the article now, before you continue on with this little ditty.  But then what?  Yeah, it hurts.  No, I can’t run anymore.  Theresa, are you ever going to tell me what to do about it?

The thing is, since any number of things can cause plantar fasciitis, it’s awfully difficult to give generic advice about.  But I’m going to try.  ‘Cause I’m an overachiever.  So, first things first, we need to figure out where the root or roots of your particular plantar fasciitis may be hiding out.  Let’s start with the most obvious.  Have you injured your foot lately?  Stepped on a big pokey rock while barefoot?  Gone a bit overboard with the salsa dancing?  If so, it’s probably best to use the RICE method for a while.  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation; just like you would for a sprained ankle.  And we all know that with ice we’re doing 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off, right?  After 20 minutes of icing something, you start to increase the inflammation, so don’t go pushing this, trying to be an overachiever, too.  After a week or so of the chowing down on your RICE, you can start pushing around in there to see if you’re ready for some soft tissue work.  If it’s still super sore to the touch, keep RICEing ’til it doesn’t.  If you can get a moderately deep foot massage without pain, you’re ready for deep work, if you need it.  If your pain’s gone completely, congrats! you just healed your own plantar fasciitis!  Otherwise, use a tennis ball, standing on it and rolling slowly, slowly over the owie spots to get them to loosen up.  You don’t want to bring back that inflammation, so be careful.

Now, let’s say you have not injured your foot, but you still have plantar fasciits.  This is where it gets tricky.  Naturally, we’re going to be looking along your back line for a super tight spot that could be causing your foot pain.  Starting with your heel and using your fingers (or someone else’s) or a tennis ball dig into your soft tissue (not the bones) slowly working your way up your calf.  Be careful as you get to the knee ’cause there’s a whole bunch of juicy, yet delicate stuff right there in the open at the back of the knee.  In fact, just don’t press into the back of the knee.  It’s not worth the risks.  Then head up your hamstrings, which could take a while as those are some meaty suckers.  Speaking of juicy meat, head north through your glutes, going slow and savory-like.  Next up, low back, heading up to mid, then upper back.  Again, you should be able to manage all this while lying on a tennis ball on the floor, but having a friend do the work for you is extra nice.  If you still haven’t found your “ouchy!” spot, head up (gently!) to the neck, then over the head, all the way to your eyebrows.  If you haven’t found any especially tight spots, you’ve got a catch-22 to deal with.  On the one hand, you’re the only person in the whole country who doesn’t have a single tight spot along their back line.  You should get a prize!  On the other, you still have no idea where your plantar fasciitis is coming from and you’re probably going to require some help from a professional.  Can’t win ‘em all, I suppose.

If, instead, you have found a tight spot, or six, you now know where to focus your efforts.   Loosen up that fascia, nice and slow and easy-like, using that same tennis ball if your hands get tired or you can’t quite reach.  Little bits at a time; like 5 or 10 minutes a day.  Max.  Again, I’m the only overachiever allowed here.  I don’t want you doing more damage than good.  Don’t go pretending you’re a Rolfer.  Besides, when Rolfers work on themselves they tend to get all messed up ’cause they don’t respect their own boundaries and stop when they should.  Better not to go there.  Trust me.

After a week or so working on your trouble areas, you should start to notice a shift in your plantar fasciitis pain.  If not, reevaluate.  Retest your back line and see if maybe your tight spots have moved.  If you feel like you need the help of a professional, give me a call.  You may also have some energetic blockages that need to be cleared and we’ll go into that next.  But if you’re noticing a difference in the right direction, keep up the good work!  Remember not to overdo it, but consistency can go a long way here.

Energetic gunk and plantar fascia.  I don’t have a logical explanation for this, but I do have a story.  My mom called me and told me she had plantar fasciitis and she needed me to fix it.  Lucky for her, I was flying into Chicago the next week and I could take a look.  We did a session.  All went well, but I couldn’t find any outstanding tightness in her back line that pointed to causing this foot pain.  So after the session had a day to settle out I asked how her foot was feeling and she said the pain was still there.  I was heading back to Denver that evening and didn’t have time for another session, nor did I think that would help.  Instead, I asked her to do some energy work on her heel, whenever she could.  I told her to pretend to draw the stuck energy out of the bottom of her heel, as if she were pulling yarn out of a ball.  Just an inch or two at a time, over and over again.  Maybe only 3 minutes at a time, but several times a day.  I told her to do it whenever she sat down.  So she did.  And 2 weeks later, she said it was completely gone.  That was in November and she hasn’t had any problems with it since.  So, hey, why not give it a try?  It’s free, it’s easy, and at least for one person, it worked.

Yes!  I did it!  Practical tips for dealing with plantar fasciitis!  Done.  Bam.  Oh, and one more.  Call your favorite local Rolfer, if you don’t seem to be making much progress on your own.  She might be able to help you out.