The Massage Therapy Foundation

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know that I often report on the politics of massage as well as my perceived shortcomings of some of our professional organizations. There is one organization that I have never criticized, and that’s because they’re above the fray: the Massage Therapy Foundation.

The Massage Therapy Foundation advances the knowledge and practice of massage therapy by supporting scientific research, education, and community service.The goals of the Massage Therapy Foundation are:

1. Advance research on therapeutic massage and bodywork

2. Foster massage therapy initiatives that serve populations in need

3. Promote research literacy and capacity in the profession

4. Support the evidence-informed practice of therapeutic massage and bodywork based upon available research, client factors, and practitioner experience and judgment

5. Fortify the Foundation’s financial resources and organizational effectiveness

If we are to keep the massage profession moving forward, it is vitally important for us to start at the beginning–with students.  As educators, the responsibility lies with us to teach students research literacy, not with the intent that everyone turns in to a researcher, but so they at least become a therapist who is capable of looking up existing research and interpreting the results, and being able to share that with clients and other health care providers. The MTF website contains a research database, as well as opportunities for students to submit case reports–but they have to be taught how to do that.

To this end, the Foundation offers a very low-cost opportunity to to massage schools to train instructors in research literacy. This class will also soon be available on line.  The AMTA national convention is also annually featuring research track classes; a dozen or more will be offered this year in Minneapolis.

The Foundation’s President, Ruth Werner, particularly wants to reach out to schools and instructors and encourage them to join the MTF mailing list.

Finally, the Massage Therapy Foundation is a non-profit that depends on donations to survive. AMTA, ABMP, the NCBTMB and many industry partners support the Foundation, and the rest comes from individual therapists like me and you. Please give whatever you can, even if it’s only a dollar. Every little bit helps.

Laura Allen

Detoxing

A lot of massage therapists are into cleansing and detoxing. Some of the more scientific minds I associate with think that’s hocus pocus, so before they get their panties in a wad and don’t read any further, this is not about cleaning out your bowels. It’s about cleaning the toxic people out of your life.

We all come across toxic people. Most of us have at least one or two in our own family tree. Some of us have toxic friends. Maybe they weren’t always toxic, but something happened to them along the way, and they became like a nuclear cloud hanging in the sky over the reactor. I’ve always thought it’s funny that one of the nuclear power plants here in the Carolinas is located on Lake Toxaway. Sounds like an oxymoron! I used to date a fellow who lived down there, and the route to his house was confusing…back in the days before GPS…I learned to just follow the mushroom cloud and I could get there.

Toxic people are negative people. They always see the glass as half-empty. They take everything personally. If it’s not about them, it doesn’t exist. Tell them your plans and dreams, and they’ll shoot them down.  Tell them some accomplishment you’ve achieved, and they’ll tell you what you should have done instead. If you praise something they did, they’ll tell you that nobody appreciates it while you’re standing there telling them that you do. If you praise something someone else did, they’ll turn it into a personal attack that you’re complimenting someone else instead of them.

In all fairness, sometimes toxic people are genuinely disturbed. One of the most toxic relationships I ever had was with a woman who was my closest friend for many years.  During the time we were friends, she had a few failed love affairs (and so did I, including a devastating divorce). Then she developed some health problems…nothing life-threatening, but she did have to make adaptations. She never had another positive thought or said a positive word. Over the years I watched as she became more angry and bitter at the world. I spent years trying to comfort her, say and do anything I could to make her feel better. After I left my life as a chef and became a massage therapist, she was very critical of my new career…she couldn’t believe I wanted to touch people for a living, because she had gotten to the point where she didn’t want anyone to touch her. She eventually became a hermit and refused to leave her house except for dire necessities, like buying food and going to her doctor’s appointments.

Our relationship ended one Christmas. For 17 years, she and I had gotten together on Christmas Eve to share a bottle of wine and exchange gifts.  A few days before Christmas, I received a letter in the mail from her–she only lived about ten miles away from me–and it said she didn’t want to see me on Christmas Eve, that she didn’t ever intend to celebrate Christmas again, and it was a long diatribe of her trauma and drama. By this time, she was on a lot of medication, and I knew that it was not my old friend talking but the person she had turned into.

I had already purchased her Christmas present. It was a 6-foot tall concrete angel statue for her yard. She had commented once on wanting one, so I bought it. Since she was in the state she was in,  instead of delivering it personally like I had planned to do (with the help of a pickup truck and a couple of strong friends), I paid the statuary dealer $120 to take it up to her house.  I wrote her a letter that I would always love her and that I would always have fond memories of the many Christmases we had spent together, and taped it to the statue. The day after Christmas, I went out shopping, and when I got home, it was standing in my front yard with the letter still attached to it, unopened. She couldn’t accept friendship, love, or compassion anymore, and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it. I decided to let it go. I had to.  For about 15 years until she passed away, I continued to send her a birthday card every year and a Christmas card with reminisces about some of our wonderful years together. She never responded.

Sometimes the toxic people in our lives are people it’s hard to avoid, like a co-worker or even a parent or sibling. If you can’t stay away from them, surround yourself with a bubble of white light and don’t let their negativity get to you. It isn’t about you. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. It is about them and their own perception of their misery. They can’t smell the roses that are right under their noses–that they have a roof over their head, enough food to eat, friends and family who would love them if only they would accept that and stop looking at the world through the black fog. If it’s your spouse that’s toxic, you’re going to have to make the choice to stay and let that kill you a little bit at a time, or if you’re going to get out.

When a person is genuinely suffering from clinical depression or other mental or emotional disorder, I certainly feel sympathy and compassion for them, and I make allowances for that the way I made them for my friend for many years. But when it’s just a plain old case of “I’m going to rain on your parade,” guess what? They aren’t going to rain on my parade, because I refuse to let them. I cleanse them from my mind, even if I have to be in their physical presence. I detox them right out of my psyche and don’t allow their trauma and drama to affect me. I can still love them, but I don’t have to like them.

Toxic relationships keep us from reaching our own potential and interfere with our own emotional and spiritual growth. If there are people in your life who are toxic, let them go. Detox yourself and bless them on their way.  Sometimes its better to love people from a distance.

Peace,

Laura Allen

Thanks to Champ

I usually don’t blog about my husband, but this is my personal blog and I can do what I please so I want to take this opportunity to give my husband a little pat on the back.

Champ is turning 58 this week, and in a couple of months we’ll be married for 18 years. During that time, we’ve made it through a catastrophic illness, unemployment, and being broke…the same kinds of problems most other people have been through. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we’ve survived and thrived. I’ve only thought about killing him a couple of times.

In the past 18 years, we’ve had our arguments like any married couple, but I have to hand it to him–never once in all that time has he stepped on any of my dreams. If I say I want to do something, his first question is “What do you need me to do?” I travel a lot teaching. If I said I was going to the moon tomorrow to teach a class, he’d say “Do you want me to put your suitcase in the car?” If I say I’m going to play music with my friends, he grabs my guitar and either comes along or stays at home, whichever suits me, and doesn’t complain about it, either way.

I appreciate this all the more because Champ is my second husband…my first one (who doesn’t read my blog, I feel pretty sure, but I wish he’d see this one) was an abusive jerk who never supported anything I did. Bless his heart.

I had to kiss a few frogs to get a prince. He’s not perfect, but neither am I.  In fact, we’re pretty sure we stay together because no one else would put up with either one of us.

Happy Birthday and thanks, Champ.

xoxo

The Evil One (and yes, that is his nickname for me).

Non-Compete Agreements: Disagreeable

I hear from massage therapists many times that they have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement when accepting employment. Here’s my take on that: There are enough aching bodies and stressed-out people to go around.

I have a decent-sized staff of 14, and I have never asked a single soul to sign a non-compete. Most of my staff members have been with me for years, and I am certain if one of them left, a certain amount of people would follow them out the door. It has been a very rare occurrence for me to lose a staff member, and when I have, and someone calls for them, I say “Lisa has opened her own business located at so-and-so.”  To do otherwise isn’t going to endear me to any clients. They’d eventually find her anyway, and their opinion of me would go down if I bad-mouthed her for leaving or said anything negative about her departure.

Fortunately, my business is not built on one person’s ability, other than my own ability to hold it all together. I would no more try to prevent someone from striking out on their own, or trying to better their circumstances in any way, any more than I would cut off my nose to spite my face.

I pride myself in being a good person to work for. My staff members are paid above the average. They are all independent contractors…they come and go as they please. I don’t expect anyone to sit around, unpaid, while they wait for clients who may or may not materialize. I don’t expect them to scrub the toilet. My expectations of my staff members are that they act ethically and professionally and that they put the client first, give great service, and act like team players. It’s very rare that I’ve been disappointed. I have people standing in line that would like to work in my clinic. No one has ever left me without working a notice.

When it comes to non-compete agreements, Dale Atkinson, internationally-known attorney who represents the FSMTB, put it this way at last year’s Federation meeting: if an employer asks you to sign a non-compete agreement, go ahead. It won’t stand up in court unless you happen to be the VP of Massage Envy who is privy to company secrets. When it comes to the average massage therapist, it’s just a blatant attempt to restrict free enterprise, and it won’t hold up.

I believe people have the right to work where they choose. And yes, I have spent money to advertise my staff members and done marketing for them…but in spite of that, I can’t visualize myself possessing the type of professional jealousy that would make me ask a therapist to sign a paper that virtually says they can’t practice unless it’s in my place of business or far enough away that it is no longer competition. What’s the matter with people? Competition is a healthy thing. Trying to tell someone that they can’t work unless they work for you is contrary to the principles of entrepreneurship. To me, the message is “I’m so insecure in my own ability to maintain a decent business that I wouldn’t want you to compete against me.”

I suggest that instead of having non-compete agreements that aren’t going to fly anyway, employers should provide a work environment that attracts quality people. When a spa or clinic has a revolving door of people coming in and out, the problem is usually the management, not the staff, and most of the time the owner is in denial. Treat people well and you won’t need a non-compete agreement. If someone leaves and opens their own business, take the high road and wish them well. It will serve you better in the long run than filing a lawsuit and acting like the clients they might have had are your property. People have the right to do business with whomever they choose. Trying to prevent that is like herding cats, and it will not cultivate loyalty from either employees or clients.

It Takes a Village

This past weekend, I witnessed Mike Hinkle, Cindy Michaels, and just a few volunteers pull off the World Massage Festival, undoubtedly the best massage event I’ve ever attended.  Next year is going to be even bigger and better, and before this weekend was over, there were more volunteers signing up for next year. That’s a good thing.

While it’s true that the people at the top of AMTA get paid, that organization would never survive without the volunteers who serve on the boards of state chapters, or serve as delegates, unit coordinators, and/or committee members.

State boards are usually composed of volunteers. While it’s true that in my state our travel expenses to and from meetings is reimbursed and we get a per diem of 50. for a half-day/100 for a whole day, no one is getting rich off of that. It takes me over four hours to travel to a meeting and I have to pay someone to run my office while I’m gone. We’re limited to paying 62. a night for a hotel.  I’m not exactly living it up at the Ritz when I’m on board business. There is no per diem for the countless hours between meetings that we’re reading minutes and agendas, doing research on issues we are considering, or drafting committee reports.

The board members of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, as well as the delegates, and the numerous volunteers on all the committees of the NCBTMB, and the board members for the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education also get their travel covered, but until you’ve served an organization like this, you don’t realize how time-consuming it can be.

Every day, somewhere, massage therapists are out giving their time to Hospice, veterans, cancer patients, premature babies, benefits for cancer and other worthy causes.

All these people have a life, a job, families and pets to take care of, school and church and civic and social obligations, but somehow they make it work.

It really does take a village.

Peace and Prosperity,

Laura Allen

Legislation: A Hard Row to Hoe

The majority of states have now passed massage therapy legislation; there are only five remaining states without any regulation: Alaska, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Idaho and Minnesota both have Freedom of Access laws in effect. 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have joined the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. I hope the rest of the regulated states will follow suit and join this great collaboration.

This past weekend, I was in the beautiful state of Kansas teaching a class for the AMTA Chapter there. I listened to Chapter President Marla Heiger give an update on their legislative process, which actually started ten years ago. It will be revisited in July.  Getting massage regulation in place is a hard row to hoe, as anyone who has ever been in on the process can attest.

Back in the day when massage legislation first came to North Carolina, I was employed by a massage school; the owner of that was on the first board here. In my capacity as her administrator, I sent around to neighboring states that already had legislation, and helped her summarize their rules. She was on the rules committee at the time, and had a hand in drafting the initial rules. It’s never a simple process.

One of the main hurdles, for a lot of states, has been in educating legislators, and convincing them that regulation is needed and that it benefits the public as well as the profession.

I’m not just a massage therapist, I’m a marketer. One of the main rules of marketing is that people want to know how something will benefit them. And one of the main rules of politics, as we all know, is that legislators often have to be forced into paying attention to important issues.  Involvement on the part of massage therapists is crucial.  Last week in Kansas, for example, the chapter president handed out blank petitions and encouraged the therapists who were present to ask all their clients to sign them…they need a certain number of petitioners before the legislature will even put the issue back on their agenda.

Getting legislation in place depends largely on the efforts of AMTA. ABMP also has a government relations representative. The FSMTB is here to help member boards in any way they can. In the final analysis, massage therapists have to care. They have to want the credibility that goes along with licensure. They have to want to put a stop to unethical practices associated with massage. One of the therapists in my class this weekend said that in spite of the fact that there is no licensure there, when their new phone book came out recently, there were six listings of people claiming to be “licensed massage therapists. ” That’s bad, because in the eyes of the public who may be looking for a therapist and doesn’t know anything about the law,  it makes the dishonest advertisers look superior to the therapists who are listings themselves honestly without that designation. All the more reason to get some rules in place.

I wish Kansas well with their legislative efforts, and I hope that the few other holdout states will follow suit. It’s important to our evolution as a profession.

Report from AFMTE Meeting

I traveled to Park City, Utah last week to attend the first annual meeting of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, an organization I am happy to say I am a founding member of. In spite of the fact that I suffered through a heinous case of altitude sickness, I’m very glad I was able to attend, and I must report that the meeting was a rousing success.

Rick Rosen, the Executive Director, and his lovely wife Carey Smith, along with the leadership team, pulled off a wonderful gathering of some of the brightest and best in the bodywork business. The setting at the Grand Summit in the Canyons Resort was beautiful, the food and lodging was great, the education was a bonus, but I’d have to say the greatest thing was the fellowship and sharing of ideas that occurred over the course of the conference.

During the course of the long weekend, the membership came together for the purpose of brainstorming a vision for the future of the Alliance. This organization was founded last year for the purpose of being an advocate for the education sector of our profession. Membership is open to schools, teachers, and continuing education providers; associate membership is open to industry supporters. During the first day, we heard short speeches from the leadership of ABMP, the NCBTMB, COMTA, the FSMTB, and Coulter Non-Profit Management (hired to oversee the management) who all praised the formation and purpose of the Alliance. A number of sponsors and vendors were on hand as well, including representatives from Massage Today, Oakworks, Resource ETC, Bon Vital, and several others.

We enjoyed a gondola ride up the mountain, which incidentally still had snow lingering on the ground, to a great buffet dinner. I was thrilled to see lots of old friends and make some new ones. I was delighted to meet Mark Beck, who authored the massage theory and practice book I learned from as a massage student. He was elected to the Board of Directors, as was Ralph Stephens and Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other members of the leadership team, including Su Bibik, Pete Whitridge, Iris Burman and Stan Dawson are remaining on in Board positions, which in fact caused the only hairy moment of the entire meeting. A couple of attendees questioned the fact that the leadership team put forth a slate of candidates that included themselves; however, the general consensus was that since this was a new start-up organization that the action was not without precedent and that such action was taken for continuity’s sake. A nominating committee was also elected to recruit suitable candidates for the next term. The seven board members will serve staggered terms of one and two years, for this first cycle, so there won’t be an experience deficit on the Board.

I attended a great class on ethics in education by Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other offerings included a class on the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge and several classes geared to school owners on the topics of recruitment and financial aid.

The last day of the conference included a raffle drawing with wonderful prizes, and a beautiful closing ceremony. All in all, it was a very harmonious gathering of like-minded souls who want to see massage therapy education thrive and reach its full potential. The AFMTE intends to facilitate that, and as with any people-driven organization, the success or failure of an organization depends on those people. I don’t think there’s any question that the Alliance is set to become the driving force behind the advocacy of excellence in education. Congratulations to Rick Rosen and the rest who made this first gathering a great one.

Interesting Changes in COMTA By-laws

I reported in my May 5 blog that COMTA volunteer of more than ten years, John Goss, had been removed from his position, during a meeting he was unable to attend. That led to my reporting a personal experience I had with the organization; I heard through the grapevine that the officers were upset that I had given them negative publicity. I don’t owe them an apology, and there will not be one forthcoming.

I haven’t felt any need to revisit the issue, but an interested party sent me a copy of changes that COMTA had made to their by-laws, effective April 16. I received them while I was on vacation, am just now getting caught up on my correspondence, and I must say, it looks as if they might have been changed in anticipation of getting rid of Mr. Goss.

Here we have an interesting change:

Section 3.12:  A Commissioner who is present at a meeting of the Board at which action on any matter is taken shall be conclusively presumed to have assented to the action taken unless his or her dissent shall be entered in the minutes of the meeting. Such right to dissent shall not apply to a Commissioner who voted in favor of such action.

According to a COMTA insider, who prefers to remain anonymous, the minutes never record votes by commissioner per se unless that commissioner asks that his/her vote be specifically recorded, and since few know this, this section seems intended to silence dissent.  Basically, it says that if you were there, you assented—regardless of how you voted unless it is specifically recorded in the minutes.  The ByLaws do not require votes to be recorded on a roll-call basis.  Seems this is needed before Section 3.12 can be enforced.

Then we have these:

Section 3.14: …In addition, a Commissioner may be removed without cause by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Commissioners then in office.

and to top it all off:

Section 4.2:  … Any officer may be removed by the Board of Commissioners at any time with or without cause, whenever the Board of Commissioners believes the best interest of the Corporation would be served thereby.

I stated in my earlier blog that Goss was known for asking hard questions and holding members accountable.  When I contacted COMTA leadership for a quote, before printing my blog about Goss, I got the answer that he was thanked for his past service and wished well in the future.  Later on, COMTA Chair Melissa Wade e-mailed me that due to confidentiality, they could not tell me why Goss was removed, but assured me that if I was elected to the Commission I would have access to the file. Obviously, that’s not happening.

It looks to me like the amended section 4.2 will allow the Commissioners to remove anybody that disagrees with them, or makes them mad in anyway. When you put yourself in the position of being able to remove someone without just cause, what does that translate to? We can remove you if we don’t like your tie? Your attitude? Your questioning our authority?

Board documents, such as practice acts, rules, by-laws and guidelines of any board are living documents, subject to change as time and experience show a need. Hopefully they are always changed with an eye to improving the public protection, service to stakeholders, or whatever the particular entity is charged with doing. I’m not sure that’s the case here.

I’d like to remind the folks at COMTA that big egos at the top, a lack of transparency, poor service to stakeholders,  and changing by-laws to suit whomever is in charge at the time, are the very things that came within a hair’s breadth of bringing down the NCBTMB. I wouldn’t get too carried away with making changes like the ones above. As the present NCB leadership who inherited just such a mess to clean up can attest, it’s not going to serve your organization well at all.

Laura Allen

Louisiana Board under the Microscope

On May 20, Robert Travis Scott, a reporter for the Times-Picayune, filed the following story about the Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy, reprinted here in its entirety (Scott’s story is in italics):

Current and former board members of the Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy are raising concerns about possible conflicts of interest in the agency’s hiring decisions.

The board, which licenses and regulates massage therapists, has seven volunteer members appointed by the governor based on nominations from professional associations. The board is backed normally by about three full-time paid staff employees. The board terminated its former executive director effective March 18 and started a hiring process.

One of the first applications was from Leslie Hill, an assistant to the special assistant in the governor’s office of boards and commissions, which collects nominations for the state’s professional and public service boards and suggests appointments to the governor. Hill said she was involved in the appointment process for members of the massage board. While she was in that office, seven members of the board were named in 2008 and three members were replaced in October.

Hill, who has a background in massage therapy, applied for the position of executive director, which led to a discussion among some board members of whether hiring her would create an ethics problem because of her former role assisting with board appointments. After consulting with the attorney general’s office, board chairwoman Mary Donker Syvertsen concluded that Hill’s hiring would not violate the state ethics code. The board hired Rhonda McManus as its new executive director at a salary of $75,000 and hired Hill for the No. 2 job in the office at $65,000, which was $30,000 more than her pay in the governor’s office.

The board’s employment ad called for an executive director and staff and made no mention of the salaries offered. McManus was not given the opportunity to participate in selecting and hiring Hill, who was to become her chief staff member. Syvertsen said she spoke with McManus the day the board was going to vote on the new hires and asked McManus then if hiring Hill would be OK.

Two board members have raised questions about the hiring. One of those is Bruce Evans, who said he has nothing against Hill but objects to the hiring process and did not think it was right for a gubernatorial-appointed board to hire someone from the governor’s appointment office. The other dissenting board member is Jan Debenedetto, who said Hill would be making a higher salary than past staff members and that she was surprise the new executive director had no say in hiring staff. “I think that the way it was handled was wrong on every level,”Debenedetto said.

Vernon Smith, a former leader of the massage board and massage associations, said he thinks Hill’s hiring has inappropriate. Syvertsen and board member Suzanne Schwing said Hill was qualified for the job and that nothing illegal was done in hiring her. Hill said she had no ties to board members and that her application and hiring was a fair and normal process.

Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal, released a statement saying, “We expect any board, when hiring, to select the most qualified candidate in a fair process.” Another recent disruption at the board is the revelation that two board members have been under investigation for violations of board rules. The issue was brought up during a board meeting earlier this year by an agency attorney, who did not name the members. (End of story)

As a member of a state massage therapy board myself, I can vouch for the fact that board members (of any public board) are constantly warned to not only avoid conflicts of interest, but to also avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest. It appears that the Louisiana Board is walking on thin ice here, and kudos to the Board members who are questioning these actions. Although there is no clear-cut violation, there is certainly the appearance of one. I’d definitely like to be making $30,000 more a year myself, but I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t want my ethics called into question if I was getting it through my ties to the massage board I’m serving on or have been associated with in some other capacity.

A couple of years ago, the Airport Authority in my county had a similar situation, where sitting members who were privy to information jumped headlong into a position to make themselves a lot of money, to the exclusion of other citizens who may have been more qualified, and who at a minimum should have been offered the fair chance to bid on the scheme that was proposed at the time. The Board members who were accused had a rather unique way of handling the charges of unethical behavior that were leveled against them at the time: they voted to suspend all discussion of professional ethics for a period of six months. As you can imagine, I blistered them a new one in the local newspaper.

Anyone who serves on, or is associated with, a public board is sometimes faced with an opportunity to advance a personal agenda, or their personal finances, through their access to insider information. It’s a potential abuse of power when that happens, and it ought to be called into question. If it turns out that no wrong-doing has been done, well and good. Most of the time, if the person in question acts to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, they’ll have to pass on that opportunity, if good conscience and common sense prevails. Board members violating their own rules and/or their own code of ethical behavior is never a good thing. It will almost always come to light, and not in a good way.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

You Can’t Please Everybody

I’m not referring to giving a massage…I’d like to think everyone that I’ve ever massaged was pleased, but in this instance, I’m talking about my blogs.

I try to report the news in the world of massage politics, and I interject my comments and opinions. I try to spur people to take action when I think it’s needed, whether that’s contacting a legislator or one of the professional associations or just spreading the word to other therapists.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me, and that’s okay. I’m not here to win a popularity contest, and I would probably keel over from the shock if I didn’t get the occasional angry phone call or snarky e-mail, or opposing comments on the blog from people who don’t see it the same way I do. I don’t censor comments except for really profane language, so even if you call me a moron, it will still be printed.

Occasionally I get an e-mail from one of my mentors trying to rein me in. They’re worried that my comments are too controversial, or that I’m going to infuriate the wrong person or some entity on the whole. While I appreciate their concern, I have to follow my conscience, speak my mind, and let the chips fall where they may.

When I’m reporting on an action concerning a person or an entity that I name in the blog, I am careful to report what’s verifiable; I only want to print what’s true. While I state opinion, it is never my intention to slander anyone by printing unfounded malicious gossip and therefore leave myself open to a lawsuit.  Believe me; I don’t print half of what I hear. Some of it has no relevance to the political issue at hand. I leave out juicy details sometimes, because I don’t think it would serve any useful purpose to include it. I’m not the National Enquirer talking about Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, although I do hear some of that occasionally. If it’s not relevant to massage, it’s not my business.

Sometimes I know the person, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I meet them after the fact. That’s always interesting. If it’s someone in the legislative or representative community and they’re not at the top of my radar, I sometimes ask people if I’ve written anything about them!

When I am reporting on political action by someone in the massage world, it isn’t a commentary on their personal life. I can disagree with some action that one of the leaders of an organization has taken and blog about that, and it doesn’t at all mean that I think that person is a bad parent, or a bad friend, or an all-around bad person. It means I am wondering what the heck they were thinking when they took whatever action I am writing about.

Even though I may disagree with someone in one of our organizations, I still appreciate the fact that the person is in service at all, particularly when it’s a volunteer position, and most board member positions are just that.

Sometimes, though, there is the occasional incident of getting one’s self positioned in an organization in the interest of making a lot of money, if there’s any opportunity for that, or someone who has a personal agenda they want to promote for some kind of gain or even one-upmanship, professional jealousy, or revenge. Rules of professional ethics and by-laws get ignored, or changed in mid-stream to suit the agenda of the person(s) involved. In that case, it’s not about being in service, and I don’t feel bad for exposing that. The people I write about aren’t pleased. But then again, you can’t please everybody, and I don’t try.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen