The World Massage Festival: A Great Time!

Champ and I got home from the World Massage Festival this morning, and while I’m tired, I must say it’s that good, satisfying kind of tired, the kind you feel when you’ve really had a great time. We certainly did!

This year’s Festival was held on the beautiful campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, and as usual, it was like a family reunion! We got there on Wednesday, in time for me to take Ruth Werner‘s class on Teaching Research Literacy. That night, about 20 or so of us who were helping with the Festival went out to dinner together. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to Champ (his 59th). We sat around for a couple of hours just catching up.

Thursday, I spent the day helping with registrations while Champ helped people set up in the vendor hall. There were about 80+ vendors present and by the end of the weekend, quite a few of them had sold all their product and signed on for next year in Las Vegas. Lots of goodies were given away…and I even got some extras. AMTA National VP Nancy Porambo won a diamond charm bracelet and she gifted it to me (thank you, Nancy!). Champ is famous for winning raffles and he won a nice set of essential oils. Lynda Solien-Wolfe was there representing Performance Health/Biofreeze and she was giving away the goods everywhere! I love that company and all their products…I’ve been selling Biofreeze since day 1 at my office and it’s a best-seller.

Thursday night there was an awards ceremony. I was not expecting to get an award, and I was really worn out from working registration all day and I almost didn’t go. I’m glad I dragged myself there, because I received the Government Relations award. Of all the kudos I’ve ever gotten in my life, I have to say that one pleases me the most. I would have dressed up for the occasion if I had known I was going to have to go on stage, and I was slightly embarrassed to be getting an award in a pair of jeans and t-shirt…but hey, it was a special t-shirt that Cindy Michaels embroidered just for me! ABMP was recognized as the Association of the Year for the third year in a row. Ryan Hoyme, Pat Donahue, Darcy Neibur, Mike Hinkle Jr, and Vivian Madison-Mahoney and her husband John were also honored, and Ruth accepted an award for the Massage Therapy Foundation. I’m probably forgetting someone! Mike Hinkle and James Waslaski handed out the awards.

Friday morning I taught a class in Using Research to Market Your Massage Therapy Practice. Friday night, the amazing Lori Stegner entertained a big crowd, first as Patsy Cline and then as Tina Turner. I roped my favorite and very talented cousin Todd Rollins into playing a set with me in between Lori’s performances and then after the show, we led a jam session. Ruth Werner started things off by singing some Beatles’ tunes. Ralph Stephens had his washboard so we played a few bluegrass songs, too. Several other attendees got up and sang…kind of a live karaoke! We had a blast.

I spent Saturday in the vendor hall visiting with all kinds of people and doing massage in the Sweet Serenity booth. Sweet Serenity is a project started by Darcy Neibur to raise money for charity. The proceeds from this event went to the Shriner’s Burn Center and we raised $800. I not only gave, I received, and I got a great reflexology session from Travis Alligood. He saved the day for me.

Saturday night, I was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame along with my fellow North Carolinian Gloria Coppola, Leslie Young Giase, Editor of Massage & Bodywork Magazine, Richard Rossiter, Joseph Goldman, David Lauterstein, Michael McGillicuddy, and other hard-working souls. The ceremony was opened with a beautiful prayer from Medicine Woman Jenny Ray. Champ and I hung out with Jenny and her teaching partner Janelle Lakman every evening when we got back to the residence hall…we probably kept the whole place up with our story-telling and laughing.

Sunday was not only the high point of the Festival for me, I would have to say it was one of the high points of my entire massage career. I took a class in Thai on the Table from Mukti Michael Buck. It was the best hands-on class I have ever attended, and I have attended hundreds of hours of continuing education. Mukti is undoubtedly the most charismatic teacher on the planet. The bodywork was sensational. The whole class was in such a state of gratitude at the end of it, we were one big melting pot of thankfulness and grace. I would recommend it to anyone.

Sunday night, we wrapped up with a Facebook Friends party at O’Malley’s, an Irish pub (my kind of place, you know!) It was very well attended and we had a great time visiting with old friends, making new ones, and meeting FB friends in person for the first time.

The staff at WCU bent over backwards for us. The campus is gorgeous, the food in the cafeteria was good, the residence hall we stayed in was top-notch, and the staff and students were all as friendly as they could be. True Southern hospitality.

The Massage Therapy Alliance of America also seated its first Board of Directors. Pat Donahue is at the helm as President and her husband, Joe Ferguson, is 1st VP. Pat and Joe each have more than 40 years of experience in the massage profession. I’m excited to see them there! Tina Rivera is the 2nd VP. Darcy Neibur is the Treasurer; Leslie Lopez is the Secretary, and the Members at Large are Lynn Shell and Carrie Thompson. Thanks to all for serving.

Throughout the week, I saw so many friends it was like old home week…I wish I had more time that I could have visited with them all. I did get a few minutes to speak with the crew from the NCBTMB, the FSMTB, our state chapter of AMTA, and so many more. M.K. Brennan was there from the American Polarity Therapy Association. There were so many of my favorite folks in attendance…Michael McGillicuddy, the Massage Nerd, Sharon Puszko…I just couldn’t get around to everybody!

Mike and Cindy Hinkle are to be commended for all their hard work…Mike gets the big ideas and Cindy pulls it together. He knows what a jewel she is! We were joking last night at dinner and Cindy told Mike he couldn’t get any more ideas until after August…she needs a rest! It was a great time and I’m looking forward to next year in Las Vegas. Hope to see you there!

8 Replies to “The World Massage Festival: A Great Time!”

  1. Hello readers and bloggers, in case you missed the World Massage Festival, As Laura said it was great. Congratulations to all the Inductees and it was a wonderful occasion to able to witness this event as a first time goer. Also congrats to the World Massage Festival for a well done job. Mike and Cindy, you two are the best, I know you worked hard to make this a special occasion for all Massage Therapists. From the first day that I arrived, to the day I left I was in awe to be able to meet all the PIONEERS of massage therapy. I look forward to returning and rejoining my family of Mts for another festival. Travis Alligood

  2. Truly a life changing experience for me. I will never be able to look at my life or my practice in the same way again. It has made me a better therapist, a better business owner, and a better person. Thanks to all who touched my life, my heart, and my aching body in the last week. And a special thank you to those involved with the selection of the Keith Shaffer Scholarship of which I was the recipient – I applied at the last minute barely hoping that I might get it. Now, I’ll be more able to afford to continue to get certified in the myokinesthetic technique which will also help me be a better therapist. In addition, I’m just grateful to Margie Shaffer for all that she has done in PA to bring our profession the honor and respect we deserve. Her Son’s legacy lives on.
    Being in the presence of the strongest healers of our profession helped me to regain a sense of self and a sense of community that I haven’t felt since massage school. I have recognized that somewhere, I had lost touch with me – I love my children and my clients, but I realized that being true to myself was something that I had neglected in making the big decisions. If I make it to next year’s festival, it will be without some of the baggage I came with this year. And I owe that to all of the support of my fellow therapists.
    We should all be grateful for this opportunity to gather together, and grow together
    if you are an MT, you should go. Thanks Mike and Cindy for making this happen. – Sending my love – Emma Clites

  3. Emma your words, made any problems we faced at Festival just fade away! You and therapists like you are why we continue to push and will never stop. Your opportunity is right in front of you now. Another Scholarship follows in Vegas and others will join the 3 we had this year. It was an honor to meet and help you on your careerpath. I hope you too will be inducted into the Hall someday. Learn from the best, apply your knowledge and always keep learning.

    Thanks to everyone (volunteers, therapists, instructors, vendors, monitors,student aides, chefs, chambermaids…) that made this year’s Festival the best yet! Lucky No. 7 is next, in Las Vegas and we hope to see a lot of you! Keep the Faith!

  4. Emma I agree with you. My life is continually being changed because of this wonderful profession. Congratualtions on being the recipient of the Keith Shaffer Scholarship.

    This was my 6th Festival. I was there when it was a thought on a piece of paper. This Festival just keeps growing and getting better and better. I hope I do not ever miss one. With the creation of Sweet Serenity and Massage for Charity for the Children, for me It has just exploded. Thank you so much Mike and Cindy for all you do for all of us. Looking forward to 2012 in Las Vegas.

  5. Laura,
    Great summary of the festival and fun.

    It’s always a treat to ‘hang out’ with you and the other educators, vendors and attendants at these events. Our industry is built on literally touching our clients, so it is nice to be able to reach out and physically touch and talk with you and others who usually are too far geographically. The Festival keeps us all in touch and allows us to share our passion, education and commitment to Massage.
    Thanks Mike and Cindy for a great time!

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