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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Did you feel safe?

Last week, my lower back began experiencing pangs that I recognized as sciatica. I’ve had this before, but not for a long while. And, when I did, I had an amazing chiropractor and an amazing massage therapist I could call. I pressed through the pain and hoped for the best and for the ability to teleport Dr. Peter Percuoco (chiropractor), Raymond and Ellen (best massage therapists ever) to my living room. Dr. P is not just a gifted chiropractor – Andrea and I would call him a mouthpiece. It was uncanny how he’d say something we needed to hear and when we needed to hear it.

By Thursday of this week, my pain was at an eight on a scale of to ten (ten being the worst). I was near tears. On Friday afternoon, I went to my first ever acupuncture appointment. I would have tried anything by that point. I went in with low expectations and zero knowledge of the cost of acupuncture. I did, however, verify that my HSA would cover acupuncture treatment, which was a good move. I don’t know how much acupuncture costs most places but it was more expensive than I had anticipated. When I was able to roll over in bed the morning after the first treatment, I decided it was well worth it.

On Saturday, I got a massage as well. I’d decided to throw everything at this in an effort to recuperate. One of the more challenging parts about moving is that you have to start over and reconstruct your network of providers – chiropractor, doctor, dentist, hairdresser, plumber, massage therapist. Thankfully, our neighbor was kind enough to share her list of trusted providers with me so I didn’t have to completely start from ground zero. But the massage therapist I’d found on my own by Googling therapeutic massage. As I lay on the massage table, naked under a blanket san my glow in the dark Halloween underwear, I thought, “Shit. I didn’t tell Andrea where I was going. There is no one else here. This guy could kill me and dump me out back! Stop. You need to watch less true crime.”

The massage therapist knocked softly at the door. I briefly consider tossing myself out a window but remember I’m topless and my back is so jacked I won’t be able to get out.

“Come in!” I call cheerily, meekly.

It’s only after my massage that I recall that I have my cell phone with me.

“Ah. Well. My body would have been recovered fast.... Less true crime, Maggie.”

The massage therapist was a concerned professional with a deep, slow, southern drawl. He was likely in his 60s so I felt I could have put up a fight – although when I scanned the room for a weapon, the best I could come up with was a reproduction of a spine with a pelvic base. I imagine me fighting this guy off with that and hope it doesn’t come to that. The skeletal reproduction is not to scale.

When I arrive home, I am describing stretches the guy taught me to Andrea and she asks, “Did you feel safe?”

“Like was he going to kill me?”

“No. Not like that – like COVID.”

“Oh! Well – as safe as you can these days. We both had our masks on but he was definitely less than 6 feet away from me.” I say. I had weighed the risk (COVID) versus the potential reward (mobility restored! Pain free!) and then booked. These are the times we are living in.

I’ve been keeping busy – work, teaching a meditation class, taking a class to bring mindfulness into the work place, and another class for a volunteer position here in Virginia. It’s good stuff – stretching and growing. It’s all online – so I can do it from home or work when traveling.

I’m also taking coaching courses to prepare to get certified as a coach. I picked a training course that was certified by the International Coaching Federation and that focuses on authentic leadership. I knew I’d picked the right program when during the first weekend of classes, the leader referenced manifesting and an animal totem. In an earlier blog post, I referenced my spirit animal being a bear. But that first coaching weekend, our yard was filled with deer. I laughed to myself, thinking it represented me in this class, a deer in the headlights. After class, I googled what deer represent in a animal totem:

The grace and gentleness characteristic of this spirit animal echo the qualities brought forth when living from the heart.

Living from and responding from a place of heart, rather than head, was discussed at length that first weekend of coaching class. No one ever teaches you this – or even suggests a balance of head and heart as you navigate the world. As a coach, you’re holding space for someone and not making suggestions or offering advice. Which is the opposite of the skills I rely on in my day job. My classmates and I have practice sessions. I struggle to listen in silence and not say. “Uh huh.” Or “Sure.” To communicate, “I hear you – I’m paying attention.” I've got this. I've got you. You're safe.

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