Believing in the healing power of touch
By Wayne E. Rivet
Jennie (Hastings) Stancu firmly believes in the healing powers of touch.
As a massage therapist, she hopes to bring peace to others.
And now as an author of a new book, “The Inspired Massage Therapist,” she shares her personal story of healing, business and love of both life and her profession.
“I decided to write the book because I have wanted to write a book since 1999, when a voice came to me on the Appalachian Trail and told me to write a book. I have written more than one other rough draft of a book, but this is the first book I’ve published and shared with others,” said Stancu, a native of Fryeburg who now operates Blossom Massage for Women on Newbury Street in Portland. “I wanted to write a book that allowed me to share my ideas about life, love and healing, and to share what has helped me succeed with other massage therapists.”
The book tackles a wide range of topics from practical tips and positive affirmations to support body, mind and spirit of both the massage therapist and other holistic health practitioners alike to motivational comments for aspiring therapists.
“One key point I wanted to address was the idea that there is something more than tissue manipulation involved in massage therapy. The reason why every massage therapist is unique, and there is no competition, is because that something more is different for everybody…because it is the spirit,” she said. “Body, mind, and spirit coming together and uniting in a peaceful, if not beautiful, moment is the foundation of healing and we all need to find the method that gets us there. For some that method is massage, for others it’s nature, for others it’s riding their motorcycle, for some it’s all of the above and more.”
Stancu attended massage therapy school in Bridgton at The New Hampshire Institute of Therapeutic Arts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Colorado.
“I have always been a dancer, a writer and a lover of life,” she said.
The News recently conducted the following interview with Jennie Stancu:
BN: You mentioned that three very telling experiences truly shaped your life and steered you in the direction of massage therapy and writing.
Jennie: The three telling experiences were hiking the Appalachian Trail (2,160 miles from Georgia to Maine), working in South Africa, and the murder of my first husband.
Hiking the AT was a beautiful experience. I was 20. I was so fortunate to have decided to do that then, when I had the freedom. So many people supported me on that journey. I wrote a series of articles about my AT experience for The Conway Daily Sun and it was fun to engage with my readers. For some people, I was the closest they would ever get to a thru-hike. It was exhilarating and simple at the same time. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who ever thought of doing it, and hope to do it again some day.
Living and working in South Africa was also a true privilege. I was 21, and so full of optimism and ideals. My friends Jed, Dana, Shebis, Toni and I created a career and education counseling center called Zithembe. Zithembe means “hope” in Xhosa. We did a lot of good things for people in that community. While I was in South Africa, I met my first husband, Wachen Kimbundu Vieira — a refugee from the Angolan wars in Africa (in a published report, Vieira walked from Angola over a thousand miles to South Africa. “He got sick of it and wanted a better life, so he walked. He walked a lot,” said friend and recording partner, Pax. “He was a poet and an artist.”).
After a hard transition to living in the United States — he wanted to pursue a career as a poet and hip-hop artist — Wachen was killed on July 26, 2002 in the living room of our home in Boulder, Colo. by a man who later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity (Kirk R. Palmer was sentenced to an indeterminate time in a state mental hospital in Pueblo, Colo. Wachen once worked at Palmer’s clothing store). I don’t think I will ever understand why this happened, or even if it’s possible to understand something so senseless.
Wachen taught me about God and about humanity. He showed me what it takes to greet the world every day with joy, no matter what.
These three experiences have all led me to writing this book (I write about all of them in the book) and my career as a massage therapist because healing and the study of healing, had to become the focus of my life.
My life as a massage therapist and yoga practitioner is the continuation of a path I’ve been on my entire life. My healing practice consists of yoga, writing and massage. I am doing my best to integrate these things more and more every day.
BN: How did you become interested in massage therapy?
Jennie: I became interested in massage therapy on a very instinctual level. My first examination of the healing power of touch was in a paper I wrote my freshman year of college — a time in my life when my greatest intelligence was still centered in my mind. Seven years later, when I entered massage school, I still had never received a professional massage (yes, my first experience of massage occurred in massage school). I went to a yoga class held at the massage school. I eventually enrolled and liked the “vibe” or the feeling I had while in the school. I had a feeling that it would be a good place for me to go, and that healing touch was a smart thing for me to refine in my life. I was right.
The most essential characteristic to being successful in the field of massage therapy is certainty in the healing power of touch and the confidence — to let your own inner wisdom move you. Once you define your own unique value, you are guaranteed to have clients who will value you.
Paying attention to the business side of your practice, or finding the support you need there, is also essential. It takes a lot of courage and power to fuel both the therapeutic and business sides of a massage therapy practice, but it’s completely possible. You just need to decide there is no other option than success and be willing to put yourself out there.
BN: Massage therapy is a career field which seemingly has exploded over the past five to 10 years. Why?
Jennie: The explosion of the field of massage therapy, I believe, is because Americans are finally waking up to the physical toll stress takes on their health and they want to do something about it. Statistically, we are a country of people who are fat, sick and nearly dead. I think of massage therapists as front line healthcare providers who keep people healthy with preventive techniques. We need to be spending much more time, energy and money on staying well and enjoying life, as opposed to feeling crappy as our health goes down the tubes and then we wake up in a hospital for a major catastrophe that costs more than 10 years of monthly massages ever would.
So, massage therapists are being called by the legions into the field because it is so vitally necessary and so many more people are receiving massage than ever before.
I don’t find that any challenges exist from a business standpoint as far as the number of massage therapists in the world, of course challenges always exist in business. I never feel like I am in competition with other massage therapists for clients. I stay consistently busy, charging a rate that comfortably supports me. I know there is this notion that massage therapists are always poor and struggling, and it’s true, we are artists, but if someone has a gift and they want to turn it into a business that supports them, there is nothing out there to stop them.
BN: What do you like most about the book?
Jennie: What I like most about my book is that it is a load off my chest. Publishing it has released me from one stage of my life to another. I am happy to make the transition. I hope it is the first of many more books to come.