When 2020 was happening, we were all wishing it would end, confused, tired, lonely, missing our culture, our connections, our humanity.
Little did we know that it would not only continue on into 2021, but get worse. Affecting our livelihood, our ability to be human with our families, our churches, our schools, our ability to touch, to do massage therapy. It has affected family gatherings, and for single people completely altered their ability to date, gather, and meet new people.
At my daily work as a nurse it has seriously altered how we treat patients. You can’t just have a cold anymore and come in to be seen. Everybody with cold or flu-like symptoms is suspect. People feel judged if they have a cough, as if any moment a crew of haz mat clad hospital workers is going to descend on them and wrestle them to the ground for coughing in public. My patients are angry, tired, sick, and many have died. Getting emotionally abused at my work is a daily occurrence. I am the emotional outlet for patients’ pent up frustrations and political disillusionments.
As massage therapists, we have gone through total shut down, to partial shut down with precautions, to “yay, if you’re vaccinated come on in!,” and back to total precautions and partial shut down. We’re so confused at this point, and financially challenged, and touch and humanity deprived that many of us have a bad case of alarm fatigue and feeling that COVID is freaking inevitable so why even try? And the only guidance put out by the massage therapy section of the Arkansas Department of Health was back in the first part of 2020. How is that okay?
Related to that, there is a wide range, among massage therapists, of practices. Because ultimately, we are all trying to do the best we can with this messed up pandemic. And there is not just one right answer.
It has seriously tested my ability to stay grounded in heated conversations. It has tested my ability to stay compassionate with people who are emotionally dumping on me. And it has tested my ability to stay focused on what matters to me in my life.
2021 was so hard. Just freaking painful. I’m glad it’s over. And as we walk into 2022, I want to take stock of the past two years, write down all of my frustrations and sadness from that time, and burn it in a fire. Let it go up in smoke. Then I’m going to make a list of things I’m grateful for; my work that sustains me and provides for my family, enabling us to travel, have a good place to live, and be able to eat when and what we want. Grateful for my friends who listen to my fears and insecurities and love me anyway, bring care packages to my house when I’m sick, trust me enough to share their vulnerabilities with me, support me in my trials and in my successes. Grateful for my ability to continue to connect with people through massage. Grateful for my family members who show up for me when I need them most, who say yes when I say ‘let’s get together.’ Grateful especially for my mom, who broke her back this year, but was able to travel to Mexico with us. She is amazing and I’m so grateful to have her in my life. Grateful for having discovered public health as a career path. I feel like I have found my tribe in public health. Grateful to have opportunities to explore problem solving in systems as opposed to managing the fallout from broken systems. Grateful for safety, hot Earl Grey tea, my pets, snuggles, and a super comfy bed that is like heaven in the wintertime. Grateful for the ability to swim at the gym, cycle on the road and trail systems, and run/walk through these beautiful Ozark Mountains. Grateful for my health and that of my family. Grateful for the ability to travel and always learn new things.
And finally, grateful for this community. I feel like we live in a bubble here. So fortunate. Grateful for all the massage therapists who have touched my life.
I want to walk into 2022 with the intention of staying focused on what I care about, staying focused on clear communication, on being a safe place for my coworkers, friends, and family, staying focused on clean burning food, on exercise, on rest, and on play, staying focused on my career and finding ways to use my skill set to the highest good.
2022 is going to be a good year.
Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of almost 30 plus years, a registered nurse, and currently pursuing her Masters of Public health at the University of Alabama. She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.