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stop child traffficking

Current Events, Guest Posts, Race/Racism

We Are Massage Therapists Because…

March 28, 2021
massage

by Sara Zolbrod

After the face-down part of this imaginary massage, my young client — let’s call him Robert Aaron Long — turns face-up. He takes my wrist and nudges it downwards before I quickly pull away. He asks, “Can I have a happy ending?”

During my 15 years as a licensed massage therapist, thankfully, I have never actually been asked that, though I’ve gotten the usual amount of comments hinting towards that sort of thing. The usual protocol would be to say, “That’s inappropriate and I will end our massage now.”

But today, after the shootings in Georgia, which especially resonated because I, too, am of Asian descent, the revenge fantasy or “prevention fantasy” arises first.

I imagine saying, “Hold that thought, sweetie, while I get some special lotion.”

In this fantasy, like a silent ninja, I pat down his backpack while his eyes are closed and I confiscate a 9mm handgun I find. I step out and fetch gleaming sharp, two-foot long gardening shears that just happen to be in the clinic’s storage closet. I come very close to Robert and say, “Why don’t you pull the sheet down, and hold that dick up for me, way down at the bottom, so I have good access…”

But then the restorative justice-inspired fantasy arises instead.

After the “happy ending” request, instead of getting a gun and shears, I quickly round up every other staff person. I rap loudly on a few treatment rooms with our special, pre-memorized knock.

My big crew and I — six of us, including two male therapists — file into the treatment room. I grab Robert’s jeans and shirt from the corner and plunk them on his chest. I say, “We’re going to turn our backs for a minute. You’re going to put your clothes on right away, and then we’re going to have a little chat.”

Once dressed, he sits in a chair. I tug two of my fellow therapists to sit on the massage table with me.

I say to Robert, who is a few feet away from me, “I think you are lonely. And I also see that you are a nice young man inside. We all have touch needs, but you can find sexuality without having to pay for it. I wish for all people to find ultimate sexual pleasure, and I encourage you to find your innate capacity for it from loving self-touch when you’re not in a relationship.”

I reach out to grip my fellow therapists’ hands tightly and continue.

“We trust and believe that you will find consensual sex and love with someone who desires you, instead of being under the influence of having to make money from you.”

The therapist beside me says to Robert: “You are a beautiful man and a beautiful soul. Can you imagine how enjoyable it will be to gently invite some young woman you meet at a park or a bar if she would give you her number, and sweetly build a friendship based on mutual respect? You’d learn her favorite music; she’d learn your favorite foods. You’d build rapport, learn to read her signs of reaching out to you, and express your attraction to her in a moment of warmth after laughing together.

“You can have all this. You are loveable. A few of us have given you massages — non-sexual, of course — and we see you. We see your humanity.”

The therapist on the other side of me adds, “Maybe you have had bad experiences with women. You’re Christian, right? So am I. Maybe our Bible or church teachings have made you feel that desire is sinful. But desire is beautiful, and a natural part of being human.”

I speak again. “We are massage therapists because we want people to feel better in their bodies, and in their souls. We don’t want to be objectified. We need you to keep your sexuality in check in this setting.”

My colleague, Mark, pitches in: “But in your social life, cultivate patience, be respectful and caring; be responsive and wait for others’ cues. And sex will feel amazingly fulfilling when it is mutual.

“You don’t need to pretend you’re less shy, or more this, or more that. Just express your genuine interest in people and let someone get to know the real you, as you get to know them at a pace that feels good to both of you.”

Robert puts his face in his hands and we hear strange, muffled crying sounds. I start weeping quietly, too. I say gently to Robert, “I think we all want to move on with our day soon. Do you mind if we hold hands first?”

He nods. He stays seated; I take one of his hands — though I can’t bring myself to hold it firmly — and my colleague’s hand, and we all make a raggedy circle in the small massage room. Robert’s head is hung down. I tell him, “I won’t give you massages anymore, but you are welcome to get non-sexual professional massages from some of us.”

The two male therapists and one female one say, “You can still get massages from me.”

I continue to Robert, who still looks straight down, “We envision you blossoming into a life of friendships and beautiful, mutual sexual relationships. We don’t judge you and we have nothing but love in our hearts for you.”

I say, “Mark, would you mind staying with me, but everybody else, thank you, we got it from here.”

After the others leave, Mark says to Robert, “We would be happy to refer you to good counseling and other community resources. Is there anything else we should talk about or that we can do for you?” Robert moves his head “no.”

I ask, “Could we shake hands?” He offers a limp hand. This time I’m able to connect more firmly, allowing my energy to reach him. I feel warmth in our palms, in our longer- than-normal handshake. He glances into my eyes for a moment, and we see each other.

And we go on with our day. Just trying to live with some love and some peace and shared humanity.

Sara Miura Zolbrod understands that violence and mental health problems and the criminalization of sex work are complex and structural and cannot be solved in an hour or a day. She has no expertise in counseling or restorative justice. Her massage license is through the Oregon State Board of Massage Therapists, and she is a freelance editor and writer.

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This past year has been remarkable, in the best and worst of ways. (Her)oics Anthology is a collection of essays by women about the lived pandemic experience. Documenting the experiences of women both on the front lines and in their private lives, this book is an important record of the power, strength and ingenuity of women. 

Pick up a copy at Bookshop.org or Amazon.

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Anti-racist resources, because silence is not an option

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Click here for all things Jen

manifesting, Q & A Series

The Magical Serena Dyer: The Manifestation Q&A Series.

March 21, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series. 

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

This next guest is an exciting one, not only because she is the daughter of my beloved teacher and mentor Wayne Dyer, but because she happens to be one of the most beautiful, authentic and inspirational women I have come across. Oh, and she is funny. Really funny.

Serena Dyer is the second of Wayne Dyer’s daughters that has been featured on the Manifestation Q&A Series. The first was my friend Skye Dyer, the incredible singer, whom many of you have heard during Wayne’s specials. Wayne Dyer himself has also been featured here. I am working my way, slowly but surely, through the Dyer clan. One “S” name at a time.

And just to be clear on this whole manifesting business I am so fond of: it works.

Wayne Dyer is THE reason I call my company “Manifestation Yoga.”When I started to achieve success as a yoga teacher very early on in my career people would ask how it was that I made such profound changes in my life so quickly. How so many amazing things kept showing up for me, from being on Good Morning America and traveling around the world with sold out retreats/workshops or becoming a writer for Positively Positive. As Wayne says: it is not our job to ask “how” or “when” but to say YES! 

That is just what I did.

I do not think all of this happened because of Wayne Dyer but I do know that he was the most powerful teacher I could have ever prayed for. (And, to be clear, I did pray for a teacher.)

He showed up in my life exactly when I needed him to, as the teacher will do when the student is ready.

To see how incredible his daughters are is truly a testament that he walked the talk. That he lived the life he spoke of.

Serena is currently busy writing a book, traveling the world, cooking her butt off, running an anti-child trafficking site and laughing at herself. The last one just might be my favorite. 

Not only is she stunning, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. (One of my favorite qualities in a person.) She was lucky enough to grow with spiritual parents who taught her and her siblings that: “they are unique little creations of God, perfect exactly as they are, no matter what, and no one can take that from them. My parents raised us on this principle and I am so grateful they did.”

Her answers are profound and funny, hilarious and humble. I cannot wait to read her book and sit down to the meal she has made for me. (Serena, did you read that last bit? I’ll bring the vino.)

I almost want to put her in my pocket and keep her for myself, but, I won’t be so selfish. World: here is the amazing Serena Dyer….

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Serena Dyer: Travel. I regularly daydream about places I would like to go and experiences in foreign lands that I would like to have and even though I don’t usually know how I am going to pay for the trip or how I am going to get there, it always works out. I am constantly baffled how everything falls into place so easily. I have been to 30 countries so far and I don’t plan to stop traveling anytime soon!

 

 

Jennifer Pastiloff:  Not -For -Sale.org. Can you share with us a bit how this was born and how you became so passionate about this subject of child trafficking?

Serena Dyer: I was an undergrad at the University of Miami studying religion and human rights. I came across a statistic that said “there are more people enslaved today than there were at the height of the Atlantic slave trade.” I considered myself to be a well-informd and conscientious young woman and I couldn’t figure out how there could be more people in slavery today if it wasn’t in the news everyday. I kept wondering, “if this is true, why don’t more people know about it. Why am I not learning about this in school?”

So I began a long journey to discover as much as I could about modern day slavery and what I found is that although it has a new name, human trafficking is essentially the same thing as slavery and not only is it an enormous problem in our world today, but it is increasingly on the rise.

I have always had a desire to serve others in the ways that I knew how and so I decided to start a non-profit organization that uses advocacy and education to spread awareness about this horrific practice. My organization, www.not-for-sale.org is in the beginning stages but I am proud of our web-presence and some of the ideas we have begun to generate.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is your favorite part about traveling?

Serena Dyer: My favorite part about traveling is that I not only get to learn something about humanity and the world, I also get to learn something new about myself. I love new things and change and traveling, for me, is better than opening a present on Christmas morning. Waking up in a foreign place and having the whole day to just immerse yourself in a new culture is really exhilerating and energizing for me.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Tell us a bit about your love of cooking.

Serena Dyer: I love to cook because I love to eat! I like taking a whole countertop filled with ingredients and turning them into a delicious meal for everyone to share. I cook about 4 or 5 nights a week for my boyfriend!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from running your anti-child trafficking site?

Serena Dyer: Since I am in the beginning stages of the site I am still learning a lot but basically that things take time and you have to be patient with the process and with others if you want to see really good results.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From your father, Wayne Dyer?

Serena Dyer: The greatest gift I have learned from my dad is that I was born with a little piece of God inside of me and that little piece of God connects me with everyone and everything. It is God that is looking out from behind my eyes, from all of our eyes, and knowing that I feel perfect, I feel safe and I feel incredibly loved.

Also, that if there is anything I want to manifest into my life I just have to align my thoughts and energy with it in order to become it, because you attract who you are, not what you want.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From the process of writing a book?

Serena Dyer: To be patient with myself, to accept myself as I am and not be so hard on myself.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From having 7 siblings?

Serena Dyer: You are never as cool as you think. (note from Jen: This girl is hilarious!)

Jennifer Pastiloff: From traveling?

Serena Dyer: Have an open mind to everyone and everything you meet. Just because something isn’t familiar to you, or makes sense to you, does not make it wrong or bad.

Also, don’t go to foreign countries expecting to get scrambled eggs and bacon the way we can get it in America… in fact, just don’t order scrambled eggs at all cause you will never get what you expect. Or iced coffee for that matter.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From cooking?

Serena Dyer: Sometimes when things don’t turn out they way they looked online, you didn’t fail.. they just used photoshop.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Gratitude is the greatest force In my life. Most of my classes are set to this theme. If you could say thank you right now, who would it be to?

Serena Dyer: My parents. Every week I see a story of another kid that committed suicide because of bullying. Every week I am reminded that kids weren’t taught that they are unique little creations of God, perfect exactly as they are, no matter what, and no one can take that from them. My parents raised us on this principle and I am so grateful they did.

Jennifer Pastiloff: When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Serena Dyer: I crack myself up all day long and usually I laugh out loud and people look at me funny. About an hour ago I just saw paparazzi jump out to photograph this actress and there was a split second that I thought they were photographing me and afterwards when I realized that I actually thought that I laughed really hard- and almost tweeted it but then realized other people might not find it as funny as I did!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you most?

Serena Dyer: Children inspire me the most. They are present, they are in awe of everything they see, they seek adventure and they are always learning and expanding. Children just want to love and be loved and when you are loved by a child, you really come alive. I have 8 nieces and nephews and I spend a ton of time with them and I always feel so present and aware when I am with them.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who has been your greatest teacher?

Serena Dyer: I am not sure yet, at the end of my life I may have an answer but right now there are about 12 people vying for first place.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is your favorite part about traveling with your dad?

Serena Dyer: Watching him do what he loves to do and seeing the reactions of people whose lives he has touched.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Some words Serena lives by?

Serena Dyer: Arrange whatever pieces come your way- Virginia Woolf

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you share with us about the book you are writing?

Serena Dyer: I am writing a book about being raised with spiritual parents, from the perspective of the child (me). People always ask my brothers and sisters and I what it was like to be raised by Wayne Dyer and so I am telling them- and let me tell you, it was weird. Haha only kidding!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who would be your dream person to do a Foreword for your book?

Serena Dyer: My dad is doing it, I never even thought about someone else!! 

Jennifer Pastiloff: How can we get involved in helping to stop child trafficking?

Serena Dyer: You can go on www.not-for-sale.org and sign up for an e-alert that will let you know when a new bill or law is being passed that might need your support.

Also, the Somaly-mam foundation is incredible and the work they are doing all over the world would literally blow your mind. Somaly-mam builds shelters for girls in foreign places to escape to if they are being forced into prostitution or sexual slavery. Somaly-mam is a survivor and every penny donated goes toward helping the girls she rescues, some who are as young as 4.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest their best selves?

Serena Dyer: Offer to the world what it is you want to attract. If you want love then offer love to everyone you meet. In other words, become what it is that you feel is missing in your life.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list….

Serena Dyer:  My family

My boyfriend Matt

My best friend Lauren

My nieces and nephews (which are family but they deserve their own category cause they are so f’ing cute)

My friends

Traveling

Cooking

Reading

Talking

Great dinner with friends and great wine

Feeling successful and knowing i am doing great work

The little voice inside of me that says thank you to all of my food and God bless you to people I walk by that look like they need an extra blessing

Jennifer Pastiloff: I do an exercise in my class called “I am-ness.” Finish the sentence I am _______________.

Serena Dyer:  I am divine love, I am. (I say this at night before bed).

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where can we find more of Serena Dyer?

Serena Dyer:  serenadyer.com

twitter.com/serenadyer

facebook.com/serena.dyer1

stop-child-trafficking.org

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Jen’s “rules”:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “ But I’m so blessed.”

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. no such thing.

15. Thank the Universe in Advance

**********

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.