BEFORE THERE WAS WEB . . .
Quality of Work Life Services is the name I chose (in '80) for my massage therapy (MT) practice here in NYC, supporting myself through grad (biz) school, studying organizational behavior. I was reluctant to use the word massage because it almost automatically invited sexual harassment--not exactly what I had time and patience for. At that time, the word therapy was not legally part of the profession, and the sexist term masseuse was still in use, along with a generally negative attitude toward the profession--a profession made of 80% women that it is in the US.
THE BUSINESS SIDE OF LIFE . . .
While I was actively promoting massage into the MT that it is today, my private practice gradually grew into a group practice with two locations and three Macs--my computers, you know. Using other people's space on the "Island That Never Sleeps," however, meant I always had to deal with unexpected space changes. After three office movings, I finally found and promptly set up my own QWL SPACE for Healing Arts and related workshops in '89. Located between my home and my tennis club--all within walking distance--the renovated physician's office became a workspace that I dearly loved. To begin with, my groundfloor neighbors and I--your totally diversified collection of Upper West Side residents--connected, related well, and visited with one another regularly. With Opera playing as background music, we would even enjoy pleasant quick "get togethers" at our condo's backyard garden. What a rare luxury in Manhattan! But mainly, I had life-enriching experiences with quite a few in-house and visiting health professionals and educators. And for some reason, from the beginning of my professional career, I had been blessed with the coolest client-load--the nicest, most accomplished people one can ever wish to work with. So what else can one possibly want? Right? Not much, really...
Except that in the background, I also had to get over some new "city-space" hurdles which power-inebriated condo Board members were now placing in my path... As such, I remained a secret hurdler for the next seven years. You see, I am an avid Sen Cha drinker. It's a Japanese green tea that I've learned to drink the right way from my friend Makoto. But hurdling in real-estate was not at all my cup of tea...
THE BIG WOW . . .
Fortunately, early in '95 I read about and soon joined WWire when it was the friendliest bbs in "online town". In response to some of my posts, its owner, Ellen Pack, was in fact the first to ever suggest a website for Massage Therapy. "A Website? How do you eat that?" I would understand what that meant and appreciate her personal note only months later... Meeting online creative, entrepreneurial and accomplished women like Aliza Sherman, Sherry Miller, Stephanie Brail, Eva Shadarowfsky, Lynn Sher, Frances Lear and other "prime movers" ignited in me the idea of owning a piece of virtual real-estate. For those who still wonder whether the virtual thing is real, let me tell you, for me, the mere thought of interacting with an untold number of fascinating, friendly folk from familiar and from unexpected places...the possibility of broadcasting my ideas without the "gag order" that most of the conventional media have placed on professional-quality MT ... wow! That's right, a piece of virtual real-estate! Perhaps I could even entice those media to change their attitude toward MT by setting an example. (For more about my professional ideas and background, you can read my MT professional-bio.)
From then on, with much support and good E-vibes, the web became my oyster, an ever-expanding one. While MT Web Central is already the first and foremost resource on the subject of Massage Therapy, QWL is now developing a cross-disciplinary terminus for other consumer-centered health professionals, and I promise to respond to the many requests to develop the Quality of Work Life aspect of our website as well! (Oh, if you're a developing or a mature expert on QWL, why not get in touch with me, tell me who you are, mention how you found us? Hey, perhaps we can cooperate...
When I came to NY (in '73), I didn't [couldn't] and wouldn't take a vacation (sounds familiar, eh?). I simply left via the [NY] City's--long gone--jazz station, WRVR, all night. What a treat that was....day after day of the "Milkman's Matinee"! Naturally, these days, the wee hours are for surfing and E-Mail chores. In more recent years, I've been singing in Ann Phillips' jazz choir and I also sing and play percussive Afrogenic music (on congas, claves, bells, etc.). I was fortunate to learn some cool Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Haitian rhythms and chants from the master drummer, John Amira--where else but right here in Manhattan! And I had a three-women ensemble called--it wouldn't surprise you, right?--Talking Hands Ensemble. Relying on my own musical background, I enjoy rearranging those exciting sounds, kind of like massaging them into a more jazzed-up, American vein. And I sing for New York University's Jazz Choir under the direction of the talented and dedicated Ann Phillips.
One of my coolest vacations was a few summers ago, spending five days in a Gospel & Spiritual Community Sing led by the enormously talented Issay Barnwell (of legendary Sweet Honey in The Rock). During that vacation, I also had a taste of drumming with the equally legendary Baba Olatungi, a memorable experience. Especially meaningful, and unfortunately not long enough, was the time I spent in the little and very Latin East Harlem School of music under the direction of a cat called Johnny Colon. Lest I forget, though, classical music is always miraculous to my ears and spirit. How fortunate that I can even practice MT with Bach, Chopin or Beethoven in the background...just another small reward in a demanding profession.)
I love cycling or jogging in Riverside Park, especially when the sun is setting over the Hudson River. Ahhh, what a delightful view! And the park? You should drop by sometime and take a look for yourself! Believe it or not, I've been getting together with some virtual-turned-real friends to do just that--though not often enough .
HOPES, ASPIRATIONS, & COMMITTMENTS
For 1997, I decided to dedicate my work to fellow-women massage therapists. Especially because they were so hesistant--almost afraid--to go online. And I was a concerned about the implications for the future of such early gender-based socialization, particularly among my MT colleagues... I had to wonder why the 20% of men--all of whom were and are welcome @ MTWC.COM--who make up the profession add up to 99% of online MTs. Know what I mean? Today, I am happy to report that many women understand that they don't have to be a computer expert in order to be connected to the internet.
I still intend to make a real effort at developing and improving the cute little one-handed ergonomic computer keyboard which I had designed back in grad school for a course called "Human Factors in Engineering and Design." But don't worry, even an energetic person like moi procrastinates on occasion. And it took an urgent request from my Big Apple Macintosh User Group (NYMUG) to get me going on finishing Light at the End of the (Carpal) Tunnel. Naturally, written from my own, somewhat unusual perspective, this article will hopefully convince you why a "revolutionary" ergonomically sound keyboard--even if I had never designed one--is well worth paying attention to!
With the rapid growth of this website, 1998 and 1999 disappeared before I had a chance to share my aspirations for those years with you. I couldn't even get a few hands-on MT practice hours in edgewise. I just couldn't afford for my work life to become too chaotic. I now tend to this website full time. I did, however dropped you a few words through our popular newsletter MT MATTERS! from time to time.
Now that we are in the 21st century, settling down into a fast but manageable new pace, MTWC.COM is experiencing greater revenue from its banner-ad sponsors. From WebMD, to Visa, to Gateway and Apple, they are placing their ads for our community to see and use their products and services. Strangely enough, the MT-related industry is very slow to recognize the dynamic professional hub that we have become and how many more eyeballs MTWC.COM could help 'em target. Guests of our website have been buying more books, music CDs and T-shirts. I'm a bit amazed about the whole thing, I must say. Amazed, delighted and constantly moving forward.
With the infusion of new revenue dollars for the independent voice of professional massage, we are inviting (qualified) MT professionals and MT schools to submit their practice and shcool listings, respectively, FREE of charge. In fact, let's do it now by clicking here. I can't tell you how many daily requests for more listings we get. Now don't say you were not informed.
Finally, a grand vacation, something like driving through Italy, with good music, good food, beautiful landscapes, good company...the works, is another of my Y2K plans. Another country, another continent? Sure, why not? A hot-air balloon trip around the world--if it should ever work--sounds pretty cool too. (Mr Virgin Atlantic, your balloon, my congas, but, thank you, no free MT sessions, ;), ;)...) A less ambitious resolution: to get to the movies every Fri afternoon (I just hate those week-end lines. Don't you?).
So, am I ever gonna find out why common-sense is so uncommon? Are we at last making sense a little more...er...common? I think so. :)
Here's to my FOBs, friends I've picked "on the way web".
Wishing you all peace of mind...and body!
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