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Blissful Mobile Massage

Well, I’ve come a long way from the East coast to the West or “Left Coast” as it is called here in San Francisco. Many have left their hearts here, as the Tony Bennett song goes, but as much as I love it, I left my heart in my birthplace, Cape Breton Island.

September 28, 2009  By pamella o’dea rmt

Well, I’ve come a long way from the East coast to the West or “Left Coast” as it is called here in San Francisco. Many have left their hearts here, as the Tony Bennett song goes, but as much as I love it, I left my heart in my birthplace, Cape Breton Island.

Fortunately, being a Registered Massage Therapist, I am able to ply my trade on both coasts; enjoying the best of both worlds with only a few little earthquakes to remind me that we are living on shaky ground here in our own little Shangri-La or should we say “Shaker- La”! 

I provide massage treatments in San Francisco from October to June and in Cape Breton from July to September. It was a life-altering decision to work bi-coastally, but with my heart-felt belief that the net would appear, I leapt. As Joseph Campbell said: “When you follow your bliss, the Universe will open doors where there were once walls” In so doing, I can spend summers with family and friends

on this beautiful part of the planet and at the same time help fill the need in Cape Breton during the tourist seasonI feel like a time traveler every year, flying back to the traditional, simple, quiet life of rural Cape Breton and then zooming back into one of the most progressive cities on the planet. It does take some adjusting, but the perspective it gives me is invaluable.


I have the pleasure of “cross-pollinating” some of the skills I’ve learned in the west. In return, I bring the charitable good will and refreshing down to earth hospitality the East coast is famous for back to the sometimes jaded city folks, I belong to a wonderful comm-unity of body workers in the San Francisco Bay area, very fittingly called “Bliss.” We are connected by regular newsletters, group gatherings and retreats and we collaborate with over 600 holistic practitioners. 

I became one of the writers for Blissmails in San Francisco last year, which inspired me to also create one in Cape Breton. The affiliate is called “Island Bliss.” Through this and other endeavours, I am developing a similar supportive community in Cape Breton to that in San Francisco.

As the massage profession evolves, it is clear many of the major cities have reached a saturation point with so many schools and new therapists. It has become harder for them to support themselves in California where there is an abundance of massage providers, anytime, and anywhere at home, hotels, grocery stores, hospitals, street fairs, concerts and health clubs and spas. 

On the contrary, in Cape Breton, and similarly in other rural areas, massage therapists struggle to keep up with the demand. There are only about five of some 250 tourist accommodations in Cape Breton that offer massage! Part of the problem is that there is no available housing for temporary workers and establishments are not prepared to take someone on as a permanent employee when they aren’t sure they will be busy. Personally, I find it frustrating when a large group of cyclists or hikers come in and I have time to massage only 3 or 4 of them.

It is times like this where my thoughts go to cloning myself, or perhaps with current technological limitations, creating opportunities for other therapists to come and fill the need during “tourist season.”

I have become a self-appointed “Massage Missionary,” with a commitment to make massage more available to visitors and locals on the island. This self-proclaimed title and its ensuing responsibilities prompted me to develop an agency called Blissful Mobile Massage. 

For my maiden voyage, as “Massage Missionary” of “Blissful Mobile Massage,” I began to build a network of proprietors in the accommodation industry who see the benefits of providing massage therapy as a service for their customers. I am also building a network of people with homes who would like to host travelling therapists in exchange for massage.

Through Blissful Mobile Massage, I invite therapists from the mainland of Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada to come for a working holiday in the summer. This project creates a five-way-win situation. Tourists will have access to massage, inn owners will have seasonal workers, homeowners will receive massage in exchange for hosting therapists and a portion of the profits from this project will be donated to an Elders Massage Fund.

And last, but certainly not least, travelling therapists will have work provided for them in Cape Breton Island which is known as one of the top five temperate islands in the world. Each summer we are visited by thousands from all over the world. They come for the scenic beauty, warmth of the people, historic sites and diverse activities including hiking, biking, sailing and world-class golfing.

So here I am at the threshold of birthing a new venture which will provide public awareness to many and meet the demand of those who already know the benefits of massage and who seek treatment at home and on vacation.

The team of Massage Missionaries who come for the adventure will be creating waves all over Cape Breton Island! Therapists are invited to come for a short or long working holiday – anything from a few days to a few months.

To assist in my mission of making massage available to as many people as possible, I bought an imported Toyota Town Ace van in 2005 to carry my equipment all over Cape Breton Island.  “Bella The Bliss Mobile,” is a right-hand drive with expansive skylights and runs on used cooking oil.

Being that Bella was in British Columbia, the trip from the west coast to Nova Scotia with my dear friend, Charlyne Chiasson and her daughter, Esperanza, became an ad“van”ture that we referred to as “The Great Canadian Canola Caper.” We collected Canola oil, (whose name is a derivative of Canadian Oil), from restaurants all across the country. We were thrilled to explain to people through TV, radio and newspaper interviews that the original diesel engine was designed by Rudolf Diesel in 1898 to run on peanut oil!I’m sure Mr Diesel would not be pleased that petroleum oil has become synonymous with his name!

We also had the opportunity to explain to folks we couldn’t take oil from the most popular fast food restaurants because most of them use hydrogenated oil and it could clog up our engine just as it can clog up our hearts! We had media all across the country cheering us on and helpful and enthusiastic men assisting us when we had a couple of very unique fuel line problems. We arrived in Cape Breton about midnight one warm, clear night in early July after 10 days on the road. We threw off our clothes and jumped into the chilly waters of the Bras d’Or lake and christened Bella’s wheels with her refreshing salt water! (Bras d’Or lake is really an inland sea with the Atlantic Ocean swooshing in and out of it at both ends.)

The uniqueness of this vehicle has certainly helped raise the profile of on-site massage on the island. I work in association with Check In N.S., the government tourism agency and the Tourist Information Centers to make massage available island-wide.

Last year, Bella took me to work at three resorts, two festivals, and two Farmer’s Markets. I was hosted by locals in exchange for massage. One woman told me she didn’t have a spare room but she laughed and said she’d sleep in her back yard to allow me to stay with her so she could get a massage!

Many of the therapists on the island work in isolation in outlying communities. One therapist with whom I traded treatments with last summer hadn’t had a massage since he graduated from massage school three years ago! Yikes!

I am keenly aware of the challenge faced by therapists in cities where too many have located. They discover that there is so much “competition” for clients that it is difficult to earn a comfortable living. The opposite problem is occurring in small towns where there are still not enough therapists for the population. One solution is to broaden our thinking. We limit ourselves if we think we are getting too thin a slice of the pie.

I suggest we imagine a pie large enough for all of us by marketing to sectors of the population who have not yet developed an appreciation for massage. We could be promoting massage for Elders and Children, in hospitals, and as part of company wellness programs, to name a few. It is obvious that another solution is for those in the high density areas to consider locating to the under-served areas if only temporarily. As our profession is developing it is incumbent upon those entering the field to determine where they would like to practice and perhaps specialize in new niche markets.

If you are intrigued by this opportunity for a working holiday and would like more information, please see the Ad for Blissful Mobile Massage on page 44
of this issue of MTC magazine.

It is said “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” and I have to say how grateful I am that I love providing massage for people. I share the missionary zeal of the forefathers and foremothers of the massage profession to facilitate the healing of as many people as I can and to provide an opportunity for others to do the same.

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