Report from the World Massage Festival

Champ and I spent last week in Las Vegas at the World Massage Festival. This was our fifth year there, and the biggest and best one yet. Almost 700 people at this one…9 years ago when Mike Hinkle started the Festival, 20 people were in attendance.There were people from every state and 7 or 8 foreign countries. A whole contingent came from Trinidad.

The World Massage Festival is a unique event. Mike and Cindy bend over backwards to make the Festival affordable to everyone. Instead of a $189 hotel, we were in the Tuscany, an all-suite hotel, for the magnificent price of $59. And they are nice rooms! The staff at the Tuscany was very nice and helpful, the food was good, and in general it was just a good experience to stay there.

Over $50,000 in door prizes and scholarships were given away. I got to do a lot of the name-drawing and I had some real fun helping make people’s day with cash prizes, diamond jewelry, and other goodies.

On opening night, I was the keynote speaker. It was a humbling experience to look out at the room and see so many dedicated colleagues, many of whom have been doing massage for many more years than I have. During the awards ceremony, Irene Smith was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. I have to confess that I was not familiar with her work until Sunday night. She started the first project in the US to massage AIDS patients and has been doing Hospice work since the 1970s. Her entire career has been based on selfless giving. She is an example of the finest massage has to offer.

Since the beginning, one of the purposes of the Festival has been to recognize those who have made significant contributions to massage, through the Hall of Fame. Judi Calvert is always the host for this occasion and as usual did a beautiful job. I spent some time talking with several of this year’s inductees, all genuinely nice people who leave their ego at the door in spite of some of their amazing accomplishments. I spent an hour visiting with Mark Beck, who wrote the textbook I learned from in massage school, which was a real treat for me.

Lots of friends were in attendance at karaoke night, and we have got some talented singers in massage therapy. People had a blast singing and dancing.

Quality education, as always, was a highlight of the Festival. Champ took a class in Thai Massage from Mukti Michael Buck and really enjoyed it. I taught two classes, participated on a student panel, helped out with registration and karaoke night, and kept busy visiting with people. Glad to see Allissa Haines, Andrea Lipomi, Ryan Hoyme, Jake Flatt, Gina Smith, Thomas Liberto, Vivian Madison-Mahoney, Enid Whittaker, Michael McGillicuddy, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, Leena Guptha, and so many more. The WMF is always like a family reunion. I also got some great bodywork from Karen Kowal. Darcy Neibaur raised over $2000 in the Sweet Serenity booth to benefit the Greenville SC Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.

I also enjoyed having Sally Hacking and Mary O’Reilly of the FSMTB come into my student class and answer questions about the MBLEx for students.

Pualani Gillespie took Champ and I out for a fabulous dinner at Mario Batali’s restaurant, Carnevino, and we had a great visit with her.

Next year, the tenth anniversary, is going to be held in Michigan City, Indiana, and I expect it to be even better. I appreciate Mike and Cindy and everything they do. I hope to see you there!

My Picks for the NCBTMB Election

November 1 is the deadline for voting for new Board of Director members at the NCBTMB.

This was not an easy task for me this time; almost everyone of these people is on my Facebook, and several of them are people that I actually know in person. It was a very hard call for me to choose one over another, and I don’t intend any bad reflection on the ones I didn’t choose. I always admire it when anyone is willing to step up to the plate and volunteer for what is basically a thankless job. Service on any board is very time-consuming, requires conference calls that drag on for hours, travel, causes people to miss work, home, time with family, and cuts into whatever other obligations they may have.

My first pick is Bruce Baltz. I have met Bruce on several occasions, and got to talk with him at length a few weeks ago at AMTA in MN. Bruce is an educator and has been serving on the CE Committee at the NCBTMB since 2007. He is on board with my desire for seeing the organization offer advanced specialty certifications, and I know he will work towards that. He also has managerial experience, which I consider a plus for this position. I admire him; I think he has a lot to contribute, and he gets my vote.

I am supporting Steve Earles from GA. I have personally met Steve; he attended a class I taught in GA a couple of years ago and we have stayed in touch. Steve has been serving on the GA Board; his term is already over, and he is continuing to serve because they have not appointed anyone else to take his place. Like many of us, Steve came to massage later in life, after a successful first career (working for the airlines.)

I appreciate the fact that Steve acknowledges the past difficulties of the NCBTMB in his candidate statement–and that they printed it, because there was a period of time when that wouldn’t have happened. He is ready, willing, and able to help bring in new energy. He has been active on the AMTA Government Relations Committee since 2007. He gets my vote.

I am also supporting Pualani Gillespie. For my long-time blog readers, you know that wasn’t always the case. I did in fact support Pua back in a previous election, and later rescinded that support. However, I spent a lot of time talking with Pua at the AFMTE meeting in Utah earlier this year, and she and I came to an agreement and a shared philosophy on a number of points. She is a founding member of AFMTE, serves their Ethics and Standards Committee; has volunteered for the NCBTMB for several years and is currently the Chair of their Ethics and Standards Committee, and is also currently the President of the Hawaii chapter of AMTA. I think Pua possesses humility, which is an attractive quality for a person serving on a Board to have. I think Pua will be balanced, and a peace-maker, and I think that is a necessary trait at this point in the evolution of the NCBTMB and their relationships with other organizations that Pua is involved with.

I am supporting Judy Silcock from Idaho. Judy has been serving as a volunteer with the NCBTMB since 1999. That’s important, because she has seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst during her tenure on various committees there. She knows the history and has experience that I feel is important. I have never met Judy, but I called her yesterday and spoke with her to find out more about her experience and opinions. Idaho is an unregulated state. Many therapists there have National Certification because it sets them apart as professionals. Judy is also very interested in seeing regulation come to Idaho, is working towards that effort, and I feel she will play a balanced roll between the regulatory faction and the certification faction. Judy would like to see Idaho accept both the MBLEx and the NCB exams, a philosophy that I personally support. Judy got started on her career in massage therapy back in 1969, so I think she’s seen it all by this point in time and has a lot to bring to the table. She gets my vote.

Everyone who is Nationally Certified has the right to vote, and I hope that right is exercised by all. It’s just like any other election: if you don’t vote, don’t complain! Voting is available online on the NCBTMB website.