I was reassured by my lovely Ayurevdic doctor the other day that January is just a really tough month.  Which correlates with the conversation I overheard between two middle-aged (I’m assuming self-employed) men in the Oxfam shop the other day:  “I’m trying to manage the rise of that January panic…The void of no income…Just the way it is….but still…its discomforting.”

I’ll say.  Perhaps – not the best time to launch your own business.

I do have a few clients here and there, which I am oh so grateful for.  It gives me a taster of what an average working day could be like.  It reminds me of why I’m doing all of this….because I love it!  I like packing my bag of “massage accessories”; setting up the room; lighting candles; the scent of warming oil; the chit-chat; the massage itself; that feeling at the end when the time is up but you don’t want to disturb them because they look so peaceful….ahhh – I need to be reminded because right now, the majority of my days are spent either applying for part-time jobs (need a back up!) or doing something I dislike immensely – and that’s promotional work!

January isn’t going to be  a lucrative month, perhaps February won’t be either, so it’s the time to put in all the groundwork.  Getting everything set up and in order, so that when, and if, things do start to pick up I can put most of my focus and energy into what I need to.

DSCN2822There’s so much groundwork – I can’t believe it!  Admin, marketing, promo, creative, designing, printing, distributing, trying to work out how the hell to link this thing up with that thing, and what’s an RSS feed?  And an “organic” view??  This is all entirely new to me, and somehow I’m muddling through, picking up neat little lessons that I hope will serve me well for future ventures.  Most of it doesn’t really feel like work at all.  I enjoy the creating side of things, and even some of the organising. Writing out plans, brainstorming for ideas, and talking to people.  Oh – if somebody asks me about it – I turn into a right little chatter-box and get all flushed in the cheek with excitement.  BUT, put a stack of flyers in my hands and roll me out into the streets of Eastbourne and Brighton – and I get struck down by this torturous shyness.  I HATE venturing into cafes and shops and asking if I can put a flyer out.  It seems like such a simple thing to do, and if they say no – WHO CARES??!  I DO!  I smile through the DSCN2824rejections, but inside I feel this pang of hurt, and I know I’m being ridiculous, but this defensive voice pipes up in the back of my mind, “I don’t want to be asking you to put this flyer out….I want to be massaging!”  But alas, you must start somewhere.

I know that word of mouth is the way to go.  There’s no doubt in my mind that a single recommendation from a trusted friend, even an acquaintance, has more resonance and potency than all the 500 flyers, and website listings put together – but you need to put the legwork in to get those first, all-important, clients through the door and into your hands.

It’s a big thing for anyone – putting themselves into that vulnerable position of being half-naked on a bed in an unfamiliar room, at the mercy of a stranger!  It’s no surprise that people would rather have that personal reassurance.  I know myself.  Humphrey was the first massage therapist I ever went to.  At that time, it wasn’t my type of thing at all.  Would much rather keep my clothes on thank you!  Relax?  How can I relax when your digging your elbow into my hip like that, AHHH!  And cramp!  Oh god – I used to get cramp in my foot all the time, and my whole leg would seize up as I’d direct ALL my energy into ignoring the pain, disguising the spasms, just willing it all to end before the massage therapist noticed!  I went to Humphrey because necessity called for it.  I had a marathon to run in 6 weeks time, and an excruciating, shooting pain in my leg that wouldn’t allow me to walk for more than a few meters without taking a rest on a park bench.  And I went to Humphrey, because my dear friend Noe had personally recommended him.

Yes- the first couple of sessions were a bit odd and confusing.  What exactly was I supposed to take off and how was I meant to arrange myself?  The embarrassment potential uncommonly high.

But I trusted him, because Noe trusted him, because he had a kind voice, and the lighting in the room was dimmed!  Wasn’t long until I had the whole routine down, and massage became a massively important part of my life.  It’s amazing how quickly a “luxury” can be promoted to a “priority”; and what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to make it so.   It’s amazing how quickly you get used to the sensation of other people’s hands on your skin; how comfortable you become in being virtually naked in front of therapists, and in the case of the massage training, an entire class of people, with the lights very much NOT dimmed.

I think it’s all part of that process of making that connection with your body.  In learning to accept yourself as you are, and to believe that you deserve to look after yourself.

I guess now that I’m on the other side of that, I feel honored that people can and will put that trust in me.   If it takes a couple of months of grueling legwork to earn a couple of those personal recommendations….then I really should stop whingeing and just get on with it ; )