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I received this urgent alert today, August 20th, 2010:


Police Bill May Go Before State Senate on Monday!!Immediate Phone Calls and Emails Needed!!

The California State Senate is about to vote on AB 1822, a bill sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Association. If AB 1822 becomes law, California’s police chiefs and sheriffs will be forcing their way on the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) board. It is a dangerous precedent.

The police chiefs original intention with AB 1822 was to force the reversal of SB731 and give back police departments the unrestricted power to regulate massage therapists. When that effort  failed, thanks to the many letters massage professionals like yourself sent to their state legislators in protest, the police chiefs switched tactics and are now are attempting to force themselves onto CAMTC’s Board of Directors with AB1822.

No other California professional board, and no other state massage board in the nation has law enforcement officials as directors.

The CAMTC Board of Directors believes that if AB 1822 if becomes a law, it will:

  • destabilize the CAMTC Board and make it harder for the CAMTC to protect the rights of certified massage professionals to practice without undue interference.
  • unfairly stigmatize the massage profession in California,
  • do nothing to improve public protection.

California State Senators will vote on AB1822 any day now.


My childhood was healthy, thanks to my mother, and father. My mother gave me nutrilite, vitamins of several colors that came in a green plastic container with several compartments. We almost always had salad with meals, and we often stopped at the orchard market down the road for apples, peaches and pears. She encouraged me to play outside with my dog or my friends, even though due to her heart condition she usually could not join me and supported me in my modern dancing days because she could “vicariously enjoy” the movement.  As she got older she got even more into her garden and made her own sprouts, cooked lentil casseroles and any other vegetarian food she could think of.  What we did not share — yoga and massage — I have successfully shared with my daughter and she is slowly following my footsteps, and carrying on a legacy of healing movement.  She is a peer counselor for college students in santa barbara, where she speaks and gives presentations on self care.  She organizes yoga classes and chair massage for her fellow students, is learning more about yoga and will be teaching aerobics at LA fitness this summer.  She has been receiving massages since her first day and before, and now is reciprocating.
She is also getting me more serious about working out.
My mother’s mother was a friend of Isadora Duncan, the free spirited improvisational dancer who danced as her spirit led her.  My grandmother always asked me to dance for her, and I think she and I shared a connection with Isadora.  My daughter has also been a natural mover and dancer from the get go.
May the power and joy that comes from these healing practices continue on, and on.

Last summer my ninety year old father was hospitalized for a broken hip.  He was not getting much touch as his nurses were over-worked, and he developed a MRSA infection which meant no one could touch him without wearing plastic gloves.  In addition, his hearing aids were lost, and perhaps most challenging was the fact that he was brain damaged from an accident forty years ago.  When I got there his legs were blue from the knees down, and his feet were ice cold.  He was sleeping but seemed agitated.  I massaged his legs, feet and back.  He never woke up but when I left him he was sleeping with a peaceful look on his face.  The next morning his feet were warm and his legs and feet were a healthy color, and he was in good spirits.

Due to several complications he died several weeks later.  But during those weeks, at my insistence, he was graced with caring and loving touch from his immediate and extended family, and his entire Quaker meeting.  We in turn were graced to be sharing that sacred time with him.

Most people, like my father, appreciate caring touch.  Many, unfortunately, experience touch deprivation including people with AIDs, people with cancer and other illnesses; infants in Neo Natal Intensive Care Units, especially those who have been abandoned by their parents; people with injuries and amputations and deformities, the not very visible part of our population that is challenged with physical abnormalities; those recovering from addiction; victims of physical and emotional abuse who find it difficult to trust any touch; those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome including victims of natural and man-made disasters and even car accidents; the elderly and the dying, and many veterans returning from Iraq who are suffering from the wounds of war. 

During times of high stress and financial hardship, healing touch is a gift you can offer someone, either done by you or if you prefer, you can find a reputable bodyworker who will work with you financially to find a price that works; most massage therapists I know offer holiday gift certificate specials.

Besides the emotional comfort of caring touch, massage therapy oxygenates the cells which increase endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; it increases flexibility and movement in joints and eases stiffness and pain in arthritis sufferers and it gets the “chi” or life force moving, which helps us feel revitalized.  Healing touch reduces or eliminates stress related headaches, eases digestive disorders and chronic muscular pain including fibromyalgia, improves body image and speeds healing after surgery, and improves the immune system.  By increasing circulation, massage is invaluable in preventing bedsores that are so problematic, and too often life-threatening for the immobile.  It relieves agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, enhances blood pressure and pulse in geriatric patients, and helps women with all phases of the childbearing years.  Massage therapy comforts and relaxes children with attention deficit disorder, those with autism and people with many forms of mental illness.

You can start with those closest to you — your family and your immediate circle, including your pets.  My teenage daughter reminds me constantly that she needs massage to loosen tight muscles after an extreme physical work out, or to help her get to sleep when she is over-excited.  Our aging dogs need massage to help them with a myriad of conditions.

As vital as food and water is to our survival, so is touch and giving from the heart.

mandala celticI am confused.  My understanding of bodyworkers in California getting state certified was so we wouldn’t have to pay every city or county we worked in!  How many other jobs ask that of their employees?  Does that mean I need to pay a business license fee (about $75 in Murrieta) if I work in Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Escondido, Fallbrook, Menifee and Moreno Valley?  As it is many of us are getting paid less than we received when we started.  (In 1982 when I began doing massage therapy professionally, I would not accept work that paid me less than $30 an hour. ) And sadly, places like Massage Envy came into the area advertising $39 massages.  The public response is of course to expect that from any bodyworker.  I would be the first person to suggest people pay less money for healthcare and I hope we get a non-criminal health care system soon.   I hope massage therapy becomes covered by insurance, as it is all over the world.   This all feels wrong to me.  I will get back to you after I consult with the California bodywork certifying agency!

solstice mandala Good news!As a result of hard work of many dedicated people  including lobbyists, California now has  state certification for massage therapists.  After becoming certified,  massage therapists can work anywhere in the state of California.  Before now, massage therapists paid for a city license and then were unable to work in another city unless they paid that city’s fee.  (Or in some places, there was an extra fee for crossing county lines.) Many states in the US have state certification, and soon it will be nationwide.

As a result of this I will be offering massage therapy at Korrie’s Pilates Place (formerly A Balanced Body Center) in Wildomar, and at The Herb Peddlers on Main Street in historic Lake Elsinore.

More good news:   With a lot of help from friends, writers, editors, etc., the book I have been working on for six years is almost finished!

Yoga class:  I am still not in my home on Via las Flores.  The lawsuit with the bank is still pending.  So I am gathering students for a  class at Korrie’s Pilates Place.  Evening?  or noon hour?   Or if you know a home or business that would like a class there, contact me and we can work out details.

If you would like to host an infant massage class, a pet massage class or mandala creating class, talk to me!

And as holidays are approaching, I am offering gift certificates for massage or private yoga, for $50 for an hour, or $25 for thirty minutes.  This includes house calls.  I welcome working with the elderly, hospice patients, people with physical challenges and special needs, and those recovering from accidents and trauma.                   

Call me at 951-677-5962 or email me at

I hope you are well & enjoying the beginning of cool weather,

Wendy Hammarstrom



me massaging Clare Yetter

Healing neck pain

Is your neck tight?  Some suggestions to help:

1.  Get a massage that incorporates trigger points, acupressure and energy work.

2.  Looking straight ahead, stretch your right ear to your right shoulder with the right hand.  Breathe into the left side of your neck.

3.  When you sit and walk, imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head gently pulling you up.

4.  Squeeze your shoulders into your ears, then release.  Repeat three times.

5.  Standing, slowly lower your head into hanging forward bend.  Imagine all your tension in your back, shoulders and neck flowing into the earth.

In 1970, when I took a ceramics class at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I quickly discovered that I could not center clay on the pottery wheel.  After months of attempting to keep my clay creations from leaning to the left or right, I decided to ditch that idea and make pinch pots instead.  Over the next few years I studied tai chi and ten years later my studies took me into the heart of Kenpo Karate and White Crane Kung Fu.  It was those movement systems that taught me about finding one’s center, also called hara or tan tien.

The hara, also called “one point”, is said to be located just below the navel and about an inch inside the body.  It is a protected area and considered by many to be a sacred space.  It is not surprising that this is the womb area, and is immediately below where the umbilical cord connects mother and infant. Another factor that makes this area important is that the psoas, a major walking muscle and the only muscle to connect the lumbar spine to the legs is nearby. The intestines, located in the center, are where 95% of the serotonin is manufactured in our body.  The gut’s own nervous system or mini-brain has more nerve cells than our brain’s central nervous system.  The number of nerve fibers that carry messages from our GI tract to our brain is nine times more than those that travel from the brain to the GI tract.  Therefore, a calm gut or hara means calm mind and body.  (I have noticed when I take immodium to slow down motility, my mind relaxes also.)

As a yoga/movement instructor I emphasize that students become centered through mat work, stretching, conscious breathing and attention inward.  By focusing on the center, yoga practitioners are able to generate heat and healing energy throughout their body, at the same time bringing the person into the here and now, with less focus on worries.  The squat, the Iyengar standing and balance poses, dog pose, seated forward bends, and many others stretch the legs and open the hips to develop strength and flexibility in the lower body which encourages us to extend and open our upper body.  And what is the connector here? Our center – of gravity, balance and equilibrium.

Skilled dancers of all styles also move from their centers. In Contact Improvisation, dancers move with others in a constant flow of losing their balance, falling, catching and supporting, often with movements that mirror those of infants learning to move and to trust.  Many forms of movement originate from our center, and that includes bodywork.

The minds of skilled bodyworkers are focused and free of Ojai 12distraction so they are able to be totally in the present with their clients.  They may reach this state before beginning a session by consciously inhaling and consciously exhaling, and using energy awareness techniques such as yoga, meditation or focusing on a mandala.  This creates a free flow of healing energy so that the massage recipient experiences more than simply the physical sensations of having muscles rubbed.  They often experience a renewed sense of wholeness.

I am fascinated by the concept of hara and or center because I know what it is like to be not centered physically, a good example being last year when I was moving a large box in a dark garage. I fell backwards and literally flew through the air and landed on my hipbones. Also there were several times I tripped over grapevines in the hill behind my house which resulted in my completing a somersault mid-air.  I also know what it is like to lose my center emotionally/spiritually.  I know what it is like to “fall out of rhythm” as Brooke Medicine Eagle says, and to be helped back into my rhythm with the help of bodywork and movement.

The center is the starting point when I begin creating a mandala and my calligrapher neighbor has shown me the difference between making a line on paper, and making the line from your center.

Centering is a foundation of my Quaker upbringing and of yogic philosophy.  In Quaker worship, we meditate by calming our thoughts, centering and opening to divine communication.

When I was a child, an elegant family friend always impressed me with her graceful manner and movement.  After her husband died, she immersed herself in Zen Tea Ceremony.  When I bumped into her in New York City decades later, she was still striking, graceful and moving from her hara.

The AnswerMy cat Leo passed over today around 2:15PM. He was a smallish gray tabby my husband brought into our house from a feedstore eleven years ago. The owner had been arrested for brandishing a gun, shooting up into the sky, but accidentally grazing someone standing in the way. I am not sure why my husband thought we needed Leo in our life. Having a rescued wild mustang, another horse, two burros, several goats, a million rabbits and some ducks, plus several cats and about 8 dogs, wiith our 7 year old running around with them seemed like enough. And we were in the middle of a town on a couple acres, so we had to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
Leo wasn’t sure about being there either and upon arriving climbed up my body, leaving several scratches and bites on all accessible parts of me, ran up the edge of a door and spent forever sitting up there. But soon he became accustomed to us, and mostly hung out with the other cats, but also with Rosie’s litter of puppies. My dog Winnie grew up with Leo.
After several moves we ended up by an arroyo near Murrieta Hot Springs, CA and Leo reigned. He outsmarted the coyotes at every turn, and befriended each new cat that showed up at our door. His last few months were difficult due to us getting evicted and he and our other cat and Winnie the dog living several places. In our recent quarters, I thought I would give Leo the healing energy he needed and would get him well again by giving him daily, gentle massage.
But today the vet said he was in pain in both front legs, had fluid between his ribs and lungs, and was in danger of drowning in his own fluids any day. Leo had perked up for several days on Metacam for pain, and even caught a mouse outside, and liked scratching his feet and stretching. Whenever I had a stomach ache he would lie on the spot until it got better. But recently he wouldn’t stay long and soon disappeared into his closet.
Leo died from cancer. My dog Rosie died in the spring from diabetes and Cushings Syndrome, after having two toes removed that were cancerous. Gravy, Rosie’s mate, died a year earlier from abdominal cancer. My ex husband’s wife’s pitbull died of cancer, and the dog I picked out as a pup in Long Beach died this spring. of cancer. Two other dogs that were part of the pack in Aguanga, CA at the Back 40 where my ex lived for awhile died in the last year, of cancer.

What is happening? Are animals dying the same as always but we never bothered to have them diagnosed? Or is the water they are drinking, the food they are eating and the air they are breathing killing them,? Should we throw out the commercial food and just let them eat the purest grains and fruits and veggies, with some protein? I am thinking that Paul Newman brand pet food is a good way to go – but I can’t afford it!
I wonder what we should do to keep your animal friends well.
Leo, I am so sad you had to go, faster and sooner than you or I wanted.
We love you, and trust you are with your friends in the spirit energy realms, feeling no pain, and at peace.

This morning I had the honor of sharing yoga with about ten women gathered as part of a wellness traveling symposium. That is, they travel to the practitioners/instructors and experience their work, and then decide if it something they want to pursue on their own.

I was honored because many of these women have physical challenges, including several having had recent surgery for breast cancer. One had several abdominal surgeries, another had a hip replacement and there were several more conditions present.

The most important idea I wanted to transmit to them was that we can use yoga, self-acupressure with balls, and other self care techniques to reacquaint ourselves with, and re-befriend our bodies. Something physical had gone awry and along with that comes emotional. mental and perhaps spiritual pain. We may have experienced extreme fear regarding our condition. We may look down on ourselves because we think our altered body image does not fit some externally mandated norm of perfection. Yoga, and massage, can bring us back to our internal source of calmness and power, to our inner and outer beauty.

WisdomSeveral years ago was the first time I saw hospice care in action. As I watched the loving and experienced hospice and home health workers, I was struck by two things. First, we all die. And second, what better way to die than in our own home with comfort and support.

Palliative care seeks to alleviate pain without actually curing it. Hospice care addresses not only physical pain, but emotional, social and spiritual pain, not just of the patient, but also of the surrounding family.

If I were dying with friends and family far away, or if they were nearby but unable to care for me, I would want hospice and/or home health care. I would be in a familiar environment. Home health care workers would keep up with housekeeping and my basic cleanliness. My friends and my animals would be with me. My care would be under the supervision of a physician, a medical director, a registered nurse, social worker and hopefully, a massage therapist.

Massage therapy for a person who is dying is healing, even if it does not reverse the dying process. A person may leave this life feeling balanced and whole as a result of healing touch, or even non-touch. Bodyworkers who work with the ill and dying, and there are many of them, know that there are times when touch may be too much and it is appropriate to use above the body healing, such as Therapeutic Touch or reiki.

When a person is extremely debilitated, simply being there can be enough. This is true for animals as well as people. Before my dogs have passed over — and they had their own version of hospice — they valued the closeness but the lightest of touch was all they needed.

One of the hospice groups near me in the Inland Valley, Hospice of the Valleys says that through personalized services and a caring community, patients and their loved ones can obtain the necessary preparation for death so that it can be not merely a period of sorrow, but one which gives them a deeper understanding of life.

They also say, “When we came into this world, we are surounded by love, care and comfort…Don’t we deserve the same when we leave?”