Next Step at Stillpoint

I wanted to share a personal win I had today with the present moment and next step muscles I am training. After this morning’s meditation, I knew I needed to contact the landlord about my “pre-pandemic” office today. That I should not wait until Monday. The following is our email exchange. And, some exciting news!

My email to them:

Hello all,

It is hard to believe that we have been living in a pandemic for over a year now. As more and more people are getting vaccinated including me, I am thinking about returning to my massage practice. In the ideal world, I would be able to lease Suite 204 at 21 Carmichael Street again. Is the office available? I am planning to resume work in September. Please let me know your thoughts. Perhaps we could video chat or meet in person to discuss details and options.

Take care, Chris

My landlord’s response:

Your timing is perfect. We had someone leasing that space but they just moved out a few months ago. Happy to discuss getting you back into your old space. Call me on my cell Monday.

Jed Dousevicz

Front of a grey office building on the right. Green grass and trees on the left.
Previous & Future home of Stillpoint, 21 Carmichael Street, Essex Junction

Change is not easy. And navigating this new piece of living with a pandemic must be intentional. This feels so good. And, a little bit scary. But, scary in a good way. 

What does your next step look like? What are you doing in this present moment to move toward that next step?

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What if dandelions were flowers instead of weeds?

My yard grows the best flowers.

I did not really appreciate this fact until Aida fell in love with dandelions this spring.

A little background…I despise dandelions. They make me sneeze like crazy. They grow everywhere I don’t want them to. They spring back up after I mow them down with the lawnmower. They get stronger when I pull them out but don’t get the whole taproot. They make me resort to using chemicals to keep my front walk turning into a jungle. (I gave up on the back walk and now just mow it.)

Dandelions bring out something in me that I don’t really like. I need to control them; keep them in their place (which is preferably not in my yard, walkway, or garden). So along comes Aida. I decide to recruit her in my effort to thwart the ever-increasing dandelion population. I teach her which flowers are dandelions, and then send her on a special mission to pick bouquets of them. I figure the more flowers she picks now, the fewer seeds will fly around later.

Aida does just that. She picks them. She talks to them. She plays games with them. She makes them her friends. And then she recruits me to do the same. Now we have pills of dandelions (and rocks) all over the place. They are precious; not to be discarded lightly.

I don’t realize the full magnitude of what this toddler is teaching me until I am asking her to pick up the piles of rocks in the yard and move them to a safe place. She wants to know why. I will be mowing the yard the next day and I don’t want to hurt the rocks (or the mower). “But what about the dandelions?” she asks. So we move those piles too.

Once the lawn was dry enough this morning, I started up the lawnmower. I first mowed the sides of the house that was in the sun (inadvertently avoiding the huge field of dandelions on the other side of the house.) That first pass through the field of dandelions and I remembered Aida’s question from yesterday. “But what about the dandelions?”

A green lawn that has been mown on the left side but let the right side is untouched to allow the dandelion and other wildflowers grow.
Note where the lines from the lawnmower stop and the dandelions start. I could not go any further without making my heart hurt.

My heart sank a little bit with each pass. The adult part of me understood all the reasons that the yard needed to be mowed (the grass was getting long, the biting bugs will be less with a managed lawn, the dandelions will soon turn into puffballs and spread their seeds everywhere). But her question haunted me, and started me on the thought path of “what if dandelions were flowers instead of weeds?

This post was originally published in Bluedog Adventures (May 2015). Aida was a three-year-old toddler at that time. She still loves dandelions now. But sometimes her joy comes from decapitating them. We no longer use any chemicals to control weeds as the butterflies we raised would be harmed by them.

What have your children (or someone else’s children) taught you? Are you a bit kinder because of that lesson?

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Sword fighting, Sticks, and a 9-year-old

This sounds like the opening line of a joke. But not in this story. 

Back home after walking around our neighborhood with Aida and collecting donations for Girls on the Run Vermont, Aida turns to me and says in a pleading voice

“Can we just do one more thing?”

Hold on. 

I think you might need a little more context to fully appreciate her “pleading voice”.

Wednesdays have been family days for us this past school year. That means Aida does not go to school (aka parent-sanctioned hooky). Instead, the three of us head out to do something fun together outside. The fall was filled with hiking. The winter was filled with skiing. This spring has been filled with…well nothing fun. Eben has had to work on Wednesdays this spring. And the weather has generally not been conducive to leaving the house. 

This past Wednesday was exceptionally “unfun”. Aida had homework in the morning. I had a late-morning meeting and then an early-afternoon virtual medical appointment with my 89-year-old dad (who is currently in a skilled nursing facility because he cannot bear weight or move his knees without extreme pain). When that was finally all done, Aida & I headed out to hit up the last few houses in our neighborhood for donations.

So now, enters Aida’s pleading voice.

“Mom, can we just do one more thing?”

Of course, I said “yes” before I had any idea of what that one more thing was. 

Lesson learned …

Sword fighting with sticks and a 9-year-old are not a good combination. 

After nine years of parenting, a broken nose, and other sundry damaged parts, you would think that I already knew this. But Aida’s pleading voice to do just one more thing won me over (and then sent me to urgent care for 2 hours). Thankfully there are no fractures, just a badly contused finger because it got smashed between the two sticks as Aida’s sword swing went wildly out of control. 

I guess there is a bit of a silver lining here. I do not need to cancel or reschedule any clients because I am currently only doing distance healing sessions. But I will have to lay low on aerial dance for a bit while my finger heals.

This is an aerial dance sequence I was working on the day before my finger got smashed.

Please tell me that I am not the only one who has succumb to a child’s wish only to end up physically damaged as a result. Share your stories below so I do not feel so alone.

P.S. If you are local, Fanny Allen Urgent Care Clinic is fantastic if you need to be seen quickly.

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Distance Healing – Part 2

Distance Healing sessions unpacked

Image of an Asian American woman smiling while standing in an open door. The captions around her read, "walk away from pain without walking out the door", "ask me how", "Distance Healing from the Core".

As was defined in last week’s blog post, distance healing is a therapeutic process in which the practitioner holds a safe and grounded presence for the client and facilitates healing while not having hands directly on that individual. Let’s talk some more about how that works and what it looks like in a session.

We have been taught by western medicine that our brain controls all functions of our body. This reductionist way of thinking has oversimplified how information is relayed within our body and undervalued the intelligence of each cell in our body. This leads us to “disconnect” our brain from our body. Each of us was born with this inner wisdom or cellular intelligence. As we develop and age we grow more aware of the world around us. The social norms we live by and the daily stress of life can distract us from the internal connection we were born with. Thus, we become “not really tuned into our body.”

Your inner wisdom guides the path to healing the trauma that your body is holding. The restrictions in your body may present as pain in a specific area, an unsettled emotional state, stress, anxiety, fear, or any sort of disconnect from how you truly want to live and feel. These symptoms are your body’s way of saying something is out of whack. They are also your body’s way of saying there is an opportunity for growth and healing.

Cellular intelligence is the ability of every cell to communicate with every other cell without requiring the brain as a relay station. As the observer, this information may come to you in the form of body sensations, images, colors, words, tastes, and/or temperature.  During a Distance Healing session, this sensory information will guide the work.

As the facilitator, I will guide you through a grounding and filling exploration to help you tune into your internal landscape. I will invite you to listen for those cues of cellular intelligence rather than your being distracted by your “thinking” brain. As you dialogue with your internal landscape and most importantly listen to your internal landscape, I will dialogue with you externally. I will ask you to locate the area of greatest support & comfort within yourself and identify areas of restriction. 

Through energetic connection and verbal communication, we will explore what is underneath those restrictions. Perhaps it is a physical injury. Or, perhaps it is a story or belief that you tell yourself. Or, perhaps it is a painful memory. Depending on what comes up, I may ask you questions or offer opportunities for quiet listening. I will energetically support you in untangling these restrictions. We may work with your body’s cells and structures to set in motion physical healing and balance. Or, we may work to shift your perception of something in your life, regaining your power around this belief, and viewing it from a place of empowerment and safety. If there is a physical area of your body that needs to be supported or held, I can use energetic hands to do this (just as I would use my physical hands if you were on my table). As always, we will move at a pace and rhythm that allows you to deeply receive what you can in the moment and to integrate the information that arises. At the end of the session we will acknowledge the work that has been done, give voice to what feels different, and bring the session to a healing close so that you can leave the session feeling clearer, calmer, and ready for your next step.

Distance Healing sessions at Stillpoint are 50 minutes in length. But your session does not need to end there. One of the luxuries of distance healing is that you do not have to get off my table immediately. You can continue to soak in the knowledge and understanding that rose out of the session in the privacy of your own space. I encourage you to take time to slowly re-enter your external world.

Distance Healing sessions are especially useful when a situation does not allow us to meet in person. You may choose a Distance Healing session when you are sick, practicing social distancing during COVID, traveling, or do not live locally. The energetic connection between practitioner and client can be even more impactful in a Distance Healing session than in an in-person session. This option allows you greater flexibility in being able to take care of yourself. 

Don’t just take my word for it. Experience a Distance Healing session for yourself. Schedule an appointment today.

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Distance Healing – Part 1

What the heck is “distance healing”?

You have been hearing me throw around the term “distance healing” for a while now, but I am willing to guess that you don’t have a clear picture of what it is. You are not alone. This has been one of the most difficult things I have found to explain with words. (And as you all know, making things tangible and relatable through words is one of my superpowers.) I am going to break it down in several ways to help increase your understanding.

But first let’s talk about something you do understand, “massage therapy”. When you think about massage therapy, you get a picture in your mind that probably goes something like this:

• A quiet, easy space 
• Feeling safe and supported
• A therapist who is knowledgeable and sensitive to your needs
• A compassionate, nonjudgemental ear
• Touch directly on your skin or through a sheet
• Manipulating skin, muscles, and fascia
• Relief from tension, discomfort, and pain
• Releasing anxiety, fear, or any other uncomfortable emotion
• Increasing mobility and ease of movement
These are all things that create a felt sense of your experience when you get a massage. In fact, while you are reading this list, you may be able to feel as if you are in my office now getting a massage. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of massage therapy relates to only a few of the things on the list above: therapist, touch, manipulation, and therapeutic purposes.

Massage therapy, noun. Definition of massage therapy: the manipulation of the muscles and other soft tissues of the body (as by stroking, kneading, or rubbing with one or both hands or an instrument) by a massage therapist for therapeutic purposes (as to relieve pain, promote healing, or improve physical functioning)

Let’s add into the mix craniosacral therapy. The sessions you have with me are heavily (if not completely) influenced by it. According to Merriam-Webster, craniosacral therapy includes “touch” and then goes on to say what the touch “enhances”. But it is still missing most of the things on the list we created above.

Craniosacral therapy, noun. Definition of craniosacral therapy: a system of gentle touch designed to enhance the functioning of the membranes, tissues, fluids, and bones surrounding or associated with the brain and spinal cord.

So what is it that about a massage therapy or a craniosacral therapy session that takes it beyond the definition and into the rest of our list?

• A quiet, easy space
• Feeling safe and supported
• A compassionate, nonjudgemental ear
• Releasing anxiety, fear, or any other uncomfortable emotion

These things speak to “therapeutic presence”. Here Merriam-Webster ceases to be useful. So instead I turn to Suzanne Scurlock, my mentor and the creator of the Healing from the Core curriculum that I have been steeping myself in since 2015. Suzanne defines therapeutic presence as, “the capacity to hold a healing space for another with your calm and centered state of being…a quality of being, a rapport, which feels healing, steady, and safe.” She goes on to say, “this presence amplifies the effectiveness of whatever technical skills you already have and contributes to healthy treatment outcomes.” Without therapeutic presence, massage and craniosacral therapy would just be “manipulation of tissue”. This is what brings the soul and spirit to a session and allows the recipient to embody the change they want to see.

Now, let’s go back to distance healing. Distance healing is a therapeutic process in which the practitioner holds a safe and grounded presence for the client and facilitates healing while not having hands directly on that individual. What? How do I do that?

Have you ever walked into a room and had the sense that something was not as it seemed? Or have you walked up to a friend who looks to be happy and enjoying themself but you know that this is actually just a front? Whatever you want to call it (intuition, gut instinct, sixth sense) you know it to be true even though you may not know how it works. This “knowing” plus therapeutic presence are what make distance healing a useful option when being in person is not an option.

In a distance healing session, I use an energetic connection (“knowing”) and clear communication to empower you to work within your whole body and not just your head. I can help you locate and release restrictions on physical, emotional, and energetic levels. I can support you in deepening your connection with yourself. Distance Healing sessions draw from my experience and expertise as a massage therapist and a craniosacral therapist as well the tools and concepts of the Healing from the Core curriculum.

As with any therapeutic process, describing it with words will never come close to matching it with experience. In other words, the only way to really understand distance healing is to book a Distancing Healing session. Remember, you really did not know what massage therapy or craniosacral therapy was until you experience it for yourself. Be curious. Book an appointment.

Do you need to know what exactly a Distance Healing session looks like? In “Distance Healing – Part 2” (next week’s blog post), I will talk you through the specifics of a Distance Healing session and give you an idea of what to expect during a session.

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A week in pictures – Spring in Vermont

Some weeks, words just are not there or if they are they are simply not enough. This past week was just one such week for me. How has your week been? Enjoy the images.

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My J&J COVID Vaccine

Monday morning, I woke to my alarm at 6:15am. Lazily I pushed snooze knowing that there was no need to rush out of bed. After relaxing for a few more minutes, I got out of bed and took Moxie, our rescue dog, for her morning walk. The air was crisp but not too cool and the sky was already filled with sun and bird song. Once home I was able to slip out of my shoes and into my meditation chair. I enjoyed a full 30 minutes of meditation accompanied by my dog on my lap and a cup of warm ceremonial cacao. Feeling supported, I went downstairs to hug Aida & Eben goodbye before they headed off to school & work. Still with extra time on my hands, I got dressed for the day. Slipped on some earrings. And even dug out some spring shoes from my closet. Today was a day to get dressed up for. It is not every day that I get to get a vaccine for COVID-19.

This day was one that I could barely conceptualize when I sent out my June 2020 COVID Update email with the belief that my office would not reopen until there was an accessible vaccine for all. That was 10 months ago and here I am writing to you with the vaccine in my system busily making antibodies and creating my immunity to this virus that has changed our world so completely.

After a beautiful drive through the open fields and wandering roads of rural Vermont, I arrived at the Enosburg Walgreens. The parking lot was mostly empty. There were no people standing in line. This was quite unexpected based on the descriptions I had heard from friends & family about their vaccine experiences. I walked back to the pharmacy and there was still no line. I quickly checked in and went back almost immediately to get my shot. Shots & blood draws for me are generally no issue. This one felt a little like a firm handshake in my upper arm. I got my vaccine card. Had the pharmacist take a picture of me with it and my bandaged shoulder. And went to sit in front of the pharmacy for 15 minutes. During that time I felt nothing unusual. I perused my social media feed after posting my obligatory “vaccine photo”. I walked outside, and I swear the sun was shining brighter than when I went in. On my drive home, I noticed that my face felt a little unusual. Then I noticed that I was smiling bigger than I had in a long time.

My plan for the next two days was to take it easy, drink lots of water, and maybe catch up on some shows on Hulu. Most of Monday was a divine day off with nowhere I had to be. Around dinner time, I started to feel a little stiff & achy. It was like I had done a hard workout and had not followed it with a recovery drink. I took 1 extra strength Tylenol knowing that this may only be the beginning of how I would feel as my immune system kicked into action.

In the next hour, I was cold, shivering, and felt weak. I headed to bed at 7pm but I was shivering so violently that I could not relax. I took a long warm bath . Finally back in bed, I had a fitful night. I was able to get  some sleep between each Tylenol dose. There was a sweet spot about 45 minutes after I swallowed the pill and about 30 minutes before I could take the next dose in which my body and mind would surrender. I was in bed until noon on Tuesday. I did not make it far once I was out of bed. Moxie joined me on the couch for some TV and light napping. It was there that Eben & Aida found us when they arrived home around 4pm. Within the next couple of hours I was feeling strong enough to take a shower (thank goodness because I had been a sweaty mess on and off during the night) and eat dinner with everyone at the table. 

About 24 hours after the symptoms started, they stopped. I was left with a little fatigue and a tender injection site on Wednesday morning. Of course, I would rather not have any response to a shot, but this felt like a small exchange for such a high percentage of immunity to COVID-19. One of the thoughts I had repeatedly during my long, restless night was that this could have been what it was like if I had been infected with the virus. These symptoms could have lasted weeks and even months, not knowing when it would end. For this I am truly thankful and honored to be the recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

By now, you have probably heard that the J&J (Janssen) vaccine has been “paused” for distribution in Vermont (and most of the United States) through this Friday. This temporary halt was recommended jointly by the CDC & the FDA on Tuesday morning. While this has created yet another hiccup for this particular vaccine and vaccine rollouts in general, I am comforted by the extremely rare occurrence of the clotting side effect that has been seen in 6 women (out of the approximate 7 million doses of the J&J vaccine that have gone into arms). I am 48 and thus fall in the age range of women who reported post-vaccine clotting. According to the CDC & FDA “people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider”. At this point, only a correlation or relationship has been seen between the J&J vaccine and the post-vaccination clots (cerebral venous sinus thromboses). It is important to remember that this is not the same as “causation”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, causation is defined as “the relationship between an event or situation and a possible reason or cause”. The data is being scoured to determine if there is a causal relationship between the two.

Want to know more about what this temporary pause may mean for the J&J vaccine and vaccine roll-out in general? Here is a great article by The Atlantic. Rather listen to a podcast about ot? NPR’s “Consider This” podcast did a great job covering all the facets. Have any other good articles that will help us all understand & stay current on the J&J vaccine and the post-vaccine clotting? If so, please share them below.

In the meantime, know that I am watching for any unusual symptoms. And, I am also keeping this news in perspective and continuing to enjoy the “brighter sun” even on cloudy days.

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Thoughts about the COVID Vaccine

I have been thinking a lot about the COVID vaccine in this last week. On Monday, my age band (40+) opened up to be able to schedule an appointment for the 1st dose of the vaccine. By 9am that morning, I had an appointment through the Vermont Department of Health’s website for a month out. Then I gave myself a big pat on the back. I’m set. It is in my calendar. 

Not much later in the day I found myself back on the internet, looking to see if I could get an appointment sooner. Each private pharmacy that is distributing vaccines in Vermont has its own way of searching and scheduling  an appointment. I can do this. I learn each system and my browser starts to autofill the web addresses for me because I have been to the websites so often at this point. But nothing is available. So I sit back and wait.

Over the week questions start to percolate up in my brain as an appointment becomes available. How far was I willing to travel to get an appointment? Should I be looking outside my area for an appointment? Aren’t those appointments supposed to be for other people? Should my tech savviness and ease with navigating the internet mean that I get an appointment before someone else? Where is the equity in this process?

A couple of interesting things come across my radar during the week. I just started listening to a new-to-me podcast, Interdisciplinary – A Healthcare Podcast from Healwell. Season 1 Episode 10: Making Things Make Sense is an interview with  two representatives from the We Got Us project around vaccine rollout and equity. It’s a great episode and definitely worth the 49 minute listen. The piece that jumped out at me and I am driven to share with you is a video that We Got Us reposted on their website. The video, Hello Black America! with W. Kamau Bell & Black Health Care Workers, was made by Greater than Covid and is filled with some of the most amazing straight talk about the COVID vaccine. This video was made specifically for the BIPOC community but it is applicable to all people. And if you want to see the full video from the healthcare workers who were interviewed to make this video, check out Greater Than COVID’s YouTude channel

Yes, there are a lot of links in that last section. They are there in case you want to do a deeper dive into the topic of COVID & equity in healthcare. But if you do nothing else, I urge you to watch this video and share it with your friends and family.What are your personal thoughts about getting the COVID vaccine? I would love to talk with you more if you have any questions or concerns.

What are your personal thoughts about getting the COVID vaccine? I would love to talk with you more if you have any questions or concerns.

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4 months later, where are we now?

Dearest client,

It has been way too long since we have seen each other. I thank you for the years of support you have given to me and Stillpoint. I truly enjoy seeing you walk through the door of my office. I am honored to be invited to help you work through both physical and emotional roadblocks in your life.

This pandemic continues to throw huge curve balls for all of us. Whether it be, sitting in the “unknown” of what is next, or worrying about the “unknown” of work & income, or thinking you “know” what the plan is only to have the rug moved from under you again. The only real “knowns” of this time are that change is our constant companion and no one is immune to the waves (or tsunamis) change creates in our lives.

A tan rock with two parallel diagonal lines cutting through it is sitting on a handmade pillow of striped grey fabric. The pillow sits on the green grass in the sun.
A heart shaped rock sitting on a handmade pillow sewn by Aida. I found this treasure while playing with my family at Horseshoe Bend on the Winooski River earlier this month.

With the support of state and federal funds and the closing of my physical office, Stillpoint has stopped hemorrhaging money and will rise again once the spread of the pandemic is under control. I believe that time will be when there is a freely accessible vaccine. In looking forward to how I can be of service prior to life returning to “normal”, I must first look at my family’s needs. Eben, my husband, is returning to full time, in-person work at St. Michael’s College next month. My daughter Aida’s school plan is still in flux.

On Friday, I received an email from our school district superintendent outlining the “plan” for reopening grade schools at the end of August. As parents, we have a choice of educational models for the fall: hybrid (in-person/remote) or 100% remote. Our “plan” is to blend in-person public school with homeschooling. Aida will attend Underhill Central School two days a week. I will homeschool her the other three days. Reading the email, I felt the rug settling. I felt the exhale of a breath I had not yet realized I was holding. I thought, “Okay. I can do this.”

This morning, I read an open letter from the superintendent of a different school district in Vermont. He shared many concerns about reopening schools at the end of August. He expressed a very real concern about the ability to staff schools at the level that is necessary to properly do in-person and remote teaching for all grade levels. The timing and structure of the plan appear solid. The human element is the point of fragility. There is no wiggle room for the unexpected events of life and no sustainability for all involved. Everyone wants children back in school safely engaging with their teachers and peers for the entire school year. But, the “what ifs” are quite overwhelming at this point.

When I initially wrote this letter to you last Saturday, I expected to let you know that distance/telehealth sessions with me would likely be available one day a week starting in the Fall. I continue to be hopeful that this timeline can be a reality. As with all we have learned in the last four months, this too may change.

In the meantime, I invite you to join me in the following. First, join me in consciously moving forward in hope and flexibility. Take note of the positive moments of each day (a humming bird at your feeder, the sun, a funny joke, a smile possibly from behind a mask). Let that experience settle into the cells of your body. Doing this daily will fill your emotional reservoir. Then, when a curveball comes your way, feel it, dodge it, grieve it. And dip into your reservoir of support in order to refill your container. Secondly, reach out to me via email, phone, or text. Connecting with others is of the utmost importance to us all. I want to know how you are doing.

Reach out to me via email, phone, or text. Connecting with others is of the utmost importance to us all. I want to know how you are doing.

Take care & stay safe,


P.S. If you are interested in knowing more about what Vermont school districts are planning for reopening and the hurdles that they continue to face, I have included several links below.

MMUUSD District Happenings 3rd Edition

An open letter to the HUUSD community from Superintendent Nease

Back to school in a pandemic: What Vermont students and families can expect

New England and Vermont puzzle how to reopen school amid the pandemic

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Massage and COVID

On Friday, Governor Phil Scott announced that “close-contact” businesses including tattoo parlors, massage therapy, fitness centers, and nail salons may start to slowly reopen as of June 1st. A “close-contact” business is one in which it is impossible to maintain the 6-feet social distance standard while conducting business. The governor has made this announcement as a means to restart the economy of Vermont in as safe a means as possible. However, not all “close-contact” businesses have the same level of risk to both clients and practitioners.

Practitioners hand holding a clients bare upper arm to massage it.

Based on both the contagious nature of the virus and especially the documented increase in risk of clotting and stroke, I believe it is inappropriate for Stillpoint to open for direct client care at this time. 

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