I wrote about absolutely inappropriate forms of touching in this past week's Roundup.
Abuse is a stressful topic that makes me feel deeply angry and I was merely interviewing the adults who have made it their career to protect these children.
So, I need to go to almost the complete opposite end of the spectrum -- massage.
I was lucky. I grew up in a family where hugs were commonplace and mom was right more often than not -- she told me I should be a chiropractor or a massage therapist when I was about 14.
A massage is one of the best ways I know to unwind in about an hour. I know this because I made my living on and off for 15 years listening with my heart through my hands.
First of all, therapeutic massage is all about you, the client.
Unless it is a chair massage or perhaps a friendly co-worker rubbing your neck and shoulders, you get to snuggle under soft sheets or towels on a padded table, in a room with subdued lighting.
Even if country-rock is your style the soft music the therapist has left playing will swirl its way into your brain and help carry your mind away.
All this before the trained massage therapist touches you.
As the client, you can receive a massage anywhere from a full state of dress to bare skin. This is about your comfort. A massage therapist only uncovers the limb he or she is working on, so the client's modesty and dignity is protected.
I can't help but encourage skin.
Skin is tactile. It is the biggest organ in the human body. As babies it is our first organ of communication. Skin covers 3,000 inches or more of an adult body.
It is filled with millions of densely packed nerve endings that send signals to the systems of your body -- the heat of a sunny day hiking the Highline Trail, the chill as Rim Country winds carry a kite aloft, the wet nose of a nuzzling pet.
Nerves in the skin speak to the brain which in turn speaks to muscles, bones, glands, organs.
In the case of a massage they say, "ahhh, I can be quiet; I can feel peace."
The long stokes of a massage from say, the top of your thigh to the tip of your toes, the tiny, padding thumb movements down your spine, probably won't make you fall asleep, but will increase alpha and theta waves in your brain linked to relaxation, memory, dreams and emotions.
I chose a hair stylist on how great she makes me feel when she is shampooing my hair, in addition to how pretty she makes me look.
Just about anyone can benefit from a massage.
Common modalities practiced locally are Swedish, Lymphatic and Shiatsu.
Adjunct therapies include hot stone massage, Reiki, Raindrop therapy and body wraps
Massage is one of those professions, like nursing, you don't go into without a love of people.
Massage therapists abound in the Rim Country. Each has their own hands-on techniques.
You can open the phone book or get a recommendation from a friend to find a therapist in town.
The relationship between therapist and client is intimate and should be full of trust.
Just as you may prefer one doctor's bedside manner over another's, you may prefer the touch of one massage therapist over another. And that is okay.
Economy got you down? Want to learn something new?
Massage is nice because all you need are hands, a desire to make someone fell good and perhaps a book to show you how to get started.
The Complete Book of Massage by Claire Maxwell Hudson is a favorite for its photos, illustrations and easy to understand descriptions.
The Book of Massage: The Complete Stepbystep Guide To Eastern and Western Technique by Lucinda Lidell, Carola Beresford Cooke, Anthony Porter, and Sara Thomas was the first book I ever bought on the subject in 1987 and is my personal favorite.
Massages are a fine way for couples to connect. Gentle tummy rubs can quiet a fussy baby.
When I was a practicing therapist I heard all the time, "my husband tries to rub my back/shoulders/neck but his hands are too strong."
Well, show him the touch you want. Practice trading back and forth. If your partner leans into your hands when you are giving a massage that is a good sign.
Ask what feels good. Listen to each other -- not just yes or no answers, but the sounds we make when something feels nice. You say you want a different touch? Maybe he wants something different too.
Your partner may never massage you like a trained professional, but the fact that you love each other will bring an entirely different connection to the experience of being touched. It may be sexual. It does not have to be.
Massage is a gift.
There is trouble a-plenty in this life. We work hard. We deserve more gifts.
Seven signs you're in need of a massage:
1. You rub your back on door frames.
2. You purr when a friend rubs your shoulders for two minutes.
3. You're in training for the big race and your muscles hurt.
4. The stress of life has gotten you so wound up you've forgotten how to breathe deeply -- I mean breathing into your toes.
5. You now believe grumpiness is your natural state of being.
6. You've been sitting in front of your computer/TV/X-Box so long your neck is only comfortable in one position -- forward.
7. You feel scattered in your ‘Being.' Massage is grounding.