Oktoberfest at St Barnabas Church in Costa Mesa is Sunday, October 20!
We’ll kick things off right after liturgy with Brats & Beer (or wine, water, or soda), plenty of sides and fixin’s, a bake sale, silent auction, face painting, petting zoo, games for the kids, chair massage by Athelas, and live music from The Pollen Collective!
All proceeds from this event go right back into programs such as frozen homemade meals to supplement the meal train, honoraria for special speakers, and the various other ways in which the Women’s Group supports the work and people of the parish.
Allow me to introduce you to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. Go ahead; take a minute to peruse their website and see who they are. You probably didn’t know they exist, but you probably also can understand why they need to. The concept of being a burn survivor, or even being around one, might make you uncomfortable. Sit with that discomfort for a minute. Soak it in. Reality is sometimes uncomfortable. It is healthy to accept and live in that truth.
Now allow me to introduce you to Handle With Care Burn Scar Massage TEAM. (Yes, the TEAM is in all caps. That’s how the owners want it.) Jen and Chris, who run Handle With Care, are both burn survivors, and they’ve built their team from the ground up, offering burn scar therapy classes to massage therapists around the country.
As you may have seen on the Phoenix Society site, they hold an annual gathering, World Burn Congress. This year, it took place in Anaheim, California, in the first week of October.
Since I took the class back in July, and since the event was basically in my backyard, I was able to spend two days working as part of the massage team for WBC. Many of the therapists who participated came from out of state to do so. The picture below captures only about half (or less) of the therapists who participated, and seven of these thirteen drove or flew from places that aren’t Southern California. The dedication of this team is remarkable.
(I would like to mention that NHI Santa Ana had at least three therapists participate, and NHI Studio City had at least one. Three of those four NHIers are pictured here.)
For two days, I had the honor of working on person after person, all members of the burn community. Survivors, their children, grandchildren, spouses, parents, and siblings. Children, adults, the elderly. Burn ward nurses, firefighters, resource providers catering to skin grafts, psychological support, social services, and cosmetic tattoos. I met people who had lost limbs; others had lost faces. It had tremendous potential to be overwhelming. Had it become so, there were resources available.
I have known too many people who have lived in and after trauma and brokenness to shy away from it. Wheel chairs, service dogs, mental and physical impairments, and deep trauma are a normal part of life in this world; I have never been without their influence from my earliest awareness. I grew up in private schools in middle class suburbia, so in a sense, I was sheltered. But I’ve also known war refugees. I’ve served in the Peace Corps. I’ve lived in developing nations, Communist, formerly Communist, and rife with corruption.
I don’t include my backstory to talk about myself. I include it so that you, Reader, can comprehend the full impact of my experience at World Burn, which is this: I have never come across another community so universally acquainted with tragedy and trauma, yet also universally full of gratitude. Even those who were fairly new to the community, who still have big, raw emotions related to their trauma, talked of learning to grapple with those emotions and allowing them to be, without allowing them to rule.
One of these exceptional folks, who I had the pleasure of working on twice, was telling me how she’s used to the looks now, and they don’t bother her. She knows who she is. I agreed with her and added that who someone is is more important than how they look.
I’ll not tell the stories of those I met, though some were fascinating. They’re not my stories. Instead, I’ll encourage you to face reality with the grace and gratitude and even joy that I saw at WBC. And next time you meet someone from some hidden or marginalized community, remember that they are really no different from you.
~As a bonus, I left WBC with several new friend-colleagues. Some of them are even local.~
MassageBook offers up a cool infographic of ways to ease tension.
You probably don’t need a meditation app, but somehow, spend time with this. Prayer, meditation, or just silence, this will help.
Everyone I know who has done this has been glad they did! The body wasn’t meant to be in the same position for hours on end. Whether your work is sitting or standing, it is super important that you find a way to move around. Your body will thank you!
There is a wide variety in styles of massage, and different types help in different ways. Don’t get stuck in the chain massage rub-down rut and think that’s what massage is, because massage is SO much more than that.
For most people, stretching is a great way to get moving and keep moving! Some of us can “stretch” and never really feel it. If you’re one of those sorts (I am!), don’t push the stretch, but that doesn’t mean don’t stretch at all.
There are some really useful acupressure points. I know a lot of people think Ancient Chinese Medicine is nonsense, but these things actually work. It’s just a different way of approaching the same information.
Smart phones are great, but they’ve given us several new ways to injure ourselves, and these gadgets are changing the way our minds work and process information. Use the gadgets, but use them wisely and sparingly.
The good news: getting a regular massage might just be the answer — and an enjoyable one at that. For example, one study conducted in China found that 76% of people treated regularly with massage therapy no longer experienced symptoms of insomnia.
On Saturday, nearly a week ago, I went back to my massage school campus. There was a continuing education course that I was very interested in that happened to be taking place there.
There were five of us students, the teacher, and an AMTA representative sitting in. The topic of the day was massage for burn survivors. We discussed the physical trauma of burns, the continued trauma of treatment, and the ongoing psychological ramifications that survivors face. We learned the types and physiology of scars and how to work on them (or not, in some cases).
The teacher of the course is a massage therapist and a burn survivor, so throughout the class, she volunteered her own scars for us to learn on. At the end of the day, three others came in for us to practice on, and also to get a good idea of the variety of experiences in the burn survivor community.
The day was honestly incredible. There were intense moments throughout, but it was a positive, enriching experience, and well worth the cost of attendance.
Participation in that day would almost have been sufficient on its own, but I am now qualified to do burn scar therapy in my massage practice. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the burn survivor community!