How I Work.
Early on in my studies towards a master’s degree in environmental science and management, I realized that my core professional identity—that of a caregiver—had not changed. Instead, I saw myself as widening my caregiving remit beyond the massage treatment room and into the world.
As result, in my dual careers of climate resilience planner and shiatsu massage therapist, I find myself working from similar principles:
Shiatsu Massage Therapist
Like my maternal grandfather, a master meat butcher who had his own shop in Queens, New York in the last century, I work with my hands. And when I consider how I may care for a stiff and tired client using my palms, thumbs, or even my fists and elbows, I acknowledge my lineage to my namesake, Karlo Blumenschein, and his skilled manual labor.
My shiatsu practice is centered in compassion, presence, and deep listening. Prior to each treatment, I meditate on emptiness and its nature. In doing so the intention is to empty the mind and let the shiatsu do what it needs to do. I consciously dedicate the appointment time to the benefit of my client. When I practice shiatsu, I feel particularly alive and at peace with the world.
In applying traditional Chinese medicine and Zen Shiatsu principles to my clinical work, I look for patterns that may inform the treatment, and simple pathways to support a pathology’s transition towards healing and integration. After over 25 years of practice, I am in an early stage of mastery. I like to teach and mentor, and know that in doing so I support the continuation of shiatsu.
I see shiatsu, among its many assorted identities that include trade, profession, art, activism, and craft, as additionally a form of spiritual practice.
Climate Resilience Planner
As I am relatively new to the climate resilience profession, it has been easy for me to bring “beginner’s mind” to my work. While our grave climate and biodiversity crises provide ample motivation for such a career choice, my “kick in the pants” emerged from a non-duality meditation session, in which the message received—to get going and help our gorgeous, precious, living Earth—was clear and present.
I also come from a family of veterans. My paternal grandfather, a colonel in the US Air Force during World War II, in fact gave his life to save others. While I am not a warrior, my family’s patriotism has moved me to in effect “draft myself” into a multi-year period of public service, which is in part why I have chosen to work with the Town of Barrington as its resilience planner.
In this work too, I try to center compassion, presence, and deep listening in all I do. Each morning when I arrive at Town Hall, I aspire to dedicate my time to the people of Barrington; and over the course of the day I try to stop, recenter the mind, contemplate emptiness, and begin anew. I seek to joyfully let go of ego and be of service.
Advancing climate resilience and adaptation can be complicated, and as such I draw on my holistic training to build useful syntheses and seek out more graceful avenues towards systemic change. I have much to learn, and I value my mentors. I view the many challenges of this work as opportunities for learning and growth.
The climate and biodiversity crises are epic, World War II-sized problems that demand our full attention, and I urge more people to put their shoulder to the wheel. When I experience disappointment or despair that not enough is being done, I acknowledge that my climate work, like my shiatsu work, is also for me a form of spiritual practice, with every day a new one.