Maine Council of Reflexologists 30th Anniversary
MCR is celebrating its 30th year as an organization. We invited the founding mothers to share their experiences of the beginnings of this organization, as reflexologists, as mentors and for some, as teachers. Enjoy reading about their journeys. Good reads in following pages.
Meeting in Presque Isle: Chrissy Ravellie-Studer, Linda Best, Wendy Decker, Kristen Erico, Janet Stetser, Annette Wolfe, Sandra Webber
2014 Janet taking a break from her photography duties and
socializing at RAA conference.
In 1979, I was fortunate enough to meet the head of the physical education department from the college I was attending, (Bouve). She invited me to dinner where I met her partner, Jane. Jane was looking for someone to take care of the camping details, so she could teach a workshop at the 1980, Labor Day Healing Arts Festival.
She asked if I would be that person, but, made clear, I didn't need to attend her workshop. I was free to try any workshop that was being offered. I chose to attend a hypnosis workshop and a reflexology workshop. I knew nothing about either but was curious. It only took me that weekend to know that I wanted to learn more about reflexology.
It was 1983 before I was able to save enough money to go to Harrisburg, PA and attend Hilda Marie Frey's basic reflexology course. My teacher was trained in Germany and had several different methods that I later discovered were not always approved of by the American instructors. The wonderful part of reflexology is that it is flexible. Some practitioners use very heavy pressure, and some use almost none at all. However, if you know the anatomy & physiology of the body, you can still aid the person and improve his/ her situation.
When I came back and began working on clients, I had a number of them ask me if I would teach them how to do reflexology. That led to eventually setting up a school. There are a number of Maine Council of Reflexology (MCR) members whom I taught, including Alison Gingras, Connie Hubley, Aloisia Pollock; about fifty eight (58) total. In 1990, three of us (2 reflexologists from Bangor and I) went to Toronto, to be part of the beginning of ICR (International Council of Reflexologists). We became the founding members of this international group. From that meeting, it became obvious that we needed to have a group in Maine to aid and help each other become more qualified and more knowledgeable about reflexology. Kristen Erico was one of the early members but, unfortunately, died of cancer. Her greatest wish was to help other reflexologists to either begin or expand his/ her knowledge of reflexology. That was the beginning of the Kristen Erico Fund which MCR continues to support. That fund is available to help people who are interested in becoming a reflexologist or for reflexologists who want to attend advanced courses in reflexology.
Annette Wolf from Presque Isle was one of the early presidents of MCR. Susan Miller was also a great archivist of MCR memorabilia. But, by 1993, ARCB had been formed. They put on a conference in Denver in an effort to begin a National Membership organization to help reflexologists to meet each other and to learn from different teachers. I was fortunate enough to be one of three people who were part of the group who pulled together the different presenters and workshops, etc. for the first conference held in St. Louis, MO in the spring of 1994.
Annette Wolf gave the opening speech for that conference. I was the moderator.
I worked out of my home in Alna, from 1989 until 2008. At that time, I retired and moved to McNeal, Arizona.
Over the years, I had the pleasure of attending many workshops and learned different methods of reflexology. I attended all of the ICR Conferences, which allowed me to experience the culture/food and the many wonders of six of the seven continents. The picture you see of me was taken in 1993, in Melbourne, Australia, holding a wombat that was sleeping. Chris Stormer was the president that year and organized the various speakers from several different countries. Chris Issel was on the board and helped with all the details as well.
I must say that I became addicted to reflexology and feel blessed to have so many wonderful friends from all around the world. I am now eighty three years old and still keep in contact with many of the reflexologists I met. I do some work, but only when asked or I see a need. I do, however, write an article for the OLOC newsletter each month, to share my knowledge with a lot of older women who don't know about reflexology. I am also active and help the AZRA (Arizona Reflexology Association). I must say I enjoyed the Zoom meeting with MCR and getting to see some of the reflexologists I have not seen in a number of years.
Myra S. Achorn
Growing up in Thomaston, we four children had to massage our father’s feet when he came home from work. When my mother and I would spend one-on-one time together, we would sit on the living room couch and work on each other’s feet and talk. One year, when I was about eight years old at the Rockland Lobster Festival, a gentleman displayed a foot chart on his table as he sold inserts for shoes. I loved that chart and stared at it for a long time. He was explaining what the chart represented when my father said, “Let’s go.” Out of the blue, the gentleman asked if I wanted it. Wow! I said “Yes!” Little did I know what that chart had in store for me.
Years went by. In 1965, I graduated from high school then attended a business school in Portland. After graduating, I got a job at Canal Bank in Portland in the bookkeeping department filing checks. I was the first magnetic ink encoder and sorter-operator for the bank’s checks. I was then asked by the bank’s vice president if I would like to operate the IBM computer system. This was another significant “Yes” in my journey in life. It was totally on-the-job training. I was assigned to convert the data from each of the bank’s departments into the computer system as well as to create the central information file. As time went on, I was promoted to Computer Librarian, to Disaster Recovery Plan Coordinator, to Computer Auditor; and, eventually, to Assistant Vice President for Southern Maine as Method and Systems Analyst. In 1987, I was relocated to Augusta to work in the computer programming department.
In Augusta, I became involved with a spiritual group that offered me a new outlook to my spiritual side. Having been so very busy in the corporate world, I hadn’t given much thought to my inner self, specifically, the concept of the “inner child.” I really didn’t have much thought about the universe and the spiritual world and that there was a divine plan for me, that there was order and goodness to the universe. Numerology got my attention for a while. It addressed things such as a person’s motivation, inner self, self-expression, karmic lessons, hidden tendencies, subconscious response, destiny numbers, life cycles, turning points, challenges, and so on. All this new knowledge and experience was fascinating, somewhat overwhelming, and life-changing. Soon, I was invited to attend a weekend at the Healing Arts Festival in Freedom, Maine. There I was exposed to foot reflexology via a two-day workshop taught by Janet Stetser.
In 1990, my bank data processing job of 24 years was relocated to Albany, NY. I decided to accept a severance package and remain in Maine. In seeking new employment, I found few jobs in the Augusta area needing my skills. Meanwhile, I received a brochure from Janet Stetser’s Foot Loose in Alna, Maine. She was offering a 90-hour certification class in foot reflexology starting January, 1990. Once again, wow! No more corporate world for me: sick days, vacation time, personal time, raises, free education, promotions, etc., but, instead, a journey of being self-employed. Destiny was at my door!
I started the class in January and graduated April 7,1990. I ran my first ad in the KJ newspaper with the phrase “For A Good‘Ole Fashion Foot Rub.” In this first ad, I offered an April special which was a $10 coupon for a one-hour session in my home. The phone rang off the hook! I had to stop running the ad after two weeks! My method was that when a client arrived, I first explained foot reflexology and my technique. I then provided a foot bath followed by pressure pointing based on zone theory and ended with an oil massage using castor oil. All these initial clients rebooked, returning with another coupon or paying my asking fee of $20.00. Building my client base, I kept my fee at $20 until 1994, then increased it to $25, to $30, to $35, to $40, and eventually to $45 where it remained from 2005 to 2017. My practice became so sought after that I soon was fully booked for a year with a waiting list. And, as a bonus, I loved my work!
I am a charter (founding) member of the Maine Council of Reflexologists (MCR) in 1991, of the International Council of Reflexologists (ICR) in 1992, and of the Reflexology Association of America (RAA) in 1995. I received the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) certification for the feet in 1992, and the hands in 2004. Over the course of my reflexology career, I lectured on foot and hand reflexology for the Augusta Adult Education, Junior Achievement, Maine General Hospital, St. Joseph’s College, State of Maine Health Education, and private lectures. I also attended national and international conferences. Seven times I attended the weekend classes held by the International Institute of Reflexology (Eunice Ingham method). Each class was taught by a different teacher, one of whom was Dwight Byers himself!
I also attended many workshops held by renowned experts such as Bill Flocco, Father Josef, Bill Rehnquist, Inge Dougans, Sandra Rogers, Sue Ricks, Moss Arnold, among others. In 1997, I started thinking about teaching. Several of my colleagues, including Christine Issel, encouraged me to do so. I sent a letter to both MCR and ARCB stating why I felt qualified and requested permission to teach a 200-hour reflexology course. I received their approval and in June, 1998, opened Treat Your Feet ~ School of Reflexology. In 2003, I was licensed as a Private Business, Trade or Technical School - Proprietary School by the State of Maine Department of Education.
One hundred and fifty-four students and twenty years later I retired from teaching. I also retired from my private reflexology practice of twenty-seven years. Two years later, I retired from being a landlord for thirty-two years. At this point, I am officially retired from corporate data processing, being a landlord, having private reflexology practice, and running a licensed school of reflexology. I’m enjoying every minute of my FREE TIME with NO paper work! For the first time, my tax filings status reads “RETIRED”! WHAT A JOURNEY!
In 1986, my husband and I bought Sunset Cabins, nine housekeeping cabins on the shores of Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson, Lincoln County, Maine. The following summer my daughters and I moved to the cabins. While food shopping at the local Shop and Save in Waldoboro, I happened to notice a flyer about Footloose, a Waldoboro reflexology practice, run by Janet Stetser. It advertised that she, along with other alternative health care practitioners were offering brief reflexology sessions. I
tried reflexology and immediately experienced a physical and emotional release. I was intrigued! At the end of the summer, we wen back to New York City. I purchased the book, The Reflexology Workout, by Stephanie Rick and practiced once a week on myself.
We returned to Maine the following summer. I took Janet Stetser's certification course, was certified as a foot reflexologist in 1988, and moved to Maine permanently. My trial by fire was working on many feet during the Common Ground Fair in Windsor
amid heavy rain and wind. In 1994, I was certified by ARCB. I took many additional workshops, the most memorable ones being with Inge Dougans who incorporates Meridian therapy into her reflexology practice and with Bill Flocco who integrates ear
reflexology with hand and foot reflexology.
I work mostly from home. For a while, I had an office in Damariscotta and Belfast. I also made many house calls. I received positive feedback from my clients who were helped by my touch and my attentive listening to their stories. I found that in my
role as witness to their stories I was able to help soothe many a hurting soul.
MCR provided many opportunities for leadership. I fulfilled the function of Treasurer, Correspondence Secretary, Continuing Education liaison and was President of MCR for a total of 10 years. I attended the ICR Conference in London in 1997 but the ICR and RAA conferences did not fit well in my work schedule at Sunset Cabins.
To introduce the Maine public to reflexology, I taught Adult Ed in local high schools in Camden, Appleton, Medomak High School and Gardiner High School. I taught the joys and benefits of reflexology to our local 5th graders in Jefferson and the high schoolers at Erskine Academy in South China. They soaked the information up like sponges. During weekly Ladies' Spa Weekends at a B&B in Rockland, I worked for several years introducing reflexology and its benefits to women from all over the country. I taught two classes in reflexology for certification at my home and two at the Down East School of Massage where I teach, to this day, Introduction to Reflexology to
aspiring massage therapists.
Presently, I work mostly during the summer months. Our guests who come to the cabins look forward to their yearly reflexology session. I love to trade with my fellow reflexologists, learning a new move from each encounter and talking "shop." My latest
experiences were working on my daughter during her pregnancy and now as a new mother. I genuinely love massaging my two month old grandson's feet. He becomes very alert to that special touch and slips into sound sleep, the most loved testimonial to date!
There were numerous factors in my decision to enroll in Janet Stetser's 1986, reflexology course. Jane Sanford, a friend and massage therapist, was the first to ever broach me about the subject of reflexology. She owned a building in downtown Waldoboro where she ran a mind/ body center in one of the office spaces. She knew I had been toying with the possibility of becoming a therapist. I had three young children, money and time constraints. Jane suggested I contact reflexologist, Janet Stetser who was going to be offering a reflexology course at Jane's mind/body center. After talking with Janet by phone, she suggested the best way to make a decision was to receive a reflexology session. She gave me the name and phone number of one of her recent graduates. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the name of the woman, Nancy Sims. She used to live in the town of Washington but had moved to Rockland. I set up an evening appointment to meet with her at her home in Rockland. Having no recliner in her home, she had clients lie down on her bed. The reflexology experience was unforgettable. I felt like I had been transported to heaven. I enrolled in Janet's reflexology course and have never regretted my decision. I became close friends with a fellow student, Ingrid Linde. We frequently did trades with each other until her untimely and tragic death.
I received my certification in 1986, thirty five years ago. The reflexology profession has been a perfect fit for me. When I was a young girl and someone talked about their pain or ill health, my heart yearned to help them feel better. In fact, before I made a decision to drop out of college to marry my high school sweetheart, I seriously considered becoming a physician. A year before I moved to Maine from Denver, I graduated as a medical assistant. Because Maine would not honor my license, it proved to be a road block. I did not feel as though being a medical assistant was my destiny, whereas, reflexology did. I gave sessions to Hanna Ineson who later offered to teach me macrobiotics in exchange for reflexology sessions. We have remained good friends and I still make house calls to give her sessions. She introduced me to blue green algae from Klamah Lake, Oregon, and assisted me in creating a business selling their products. Some of you may have seen my license plate that reads EAT ALGA. Another special client was Helen Nearing who became well known, along with her husband, Scott, in pioneering homesteading.
Since my Waldoboro days, I have given reflexology sessions in numerous places. I shared a space at a fitness center in Union, Maine which led to a wonderful friendship with an artist whom I adore. For quite a few years, I rented office space at the Center for Health and Healing in Rockland. At my invitation, Susan Miller is now offering reflexology at the center. Since leaving the Center for Health and Healing, I went on to make house calls and to offer reflexology sessions in my home. A favorite location I offer reflexology is on the island of Vinalhaven. I am frequently invited to spend the night at a clients home. I am grateful for their help in spreading the word to other islanders. While enjoying the island, I sometimes take pleasure in swimming in a nearby quarry.
For five or six years, I offered classes in reflexology through adult education. We were allowed to use the wellness room at Camden Hills High School. Karen Boynton teamed up with me toward the end. I have also taught reflexology numerous times to groups at my church. I have also enjoyed teaching friends on a casual basis. One in particular shared that she was able to bond with her two children by giving them reflexology.
I have so much gratitude for all the times my children requested reflexology from me. But, I struggle giving sessions to my husband because he jumps around when I touch his feet. This does not happen when he has sessions with other reflexologists. He tells me I have an electrifying effect on him.
Karen Boynton and I have teamed up to give sessions at our local library and at community events. In looking back over my many years as a reflexologist, perhaps my greatest contribution in educating the public about the benefits of reflexology came through my involvement at the Common Ground Country Fair. Until Karen Tibbetts took over coordinating the booth, I did that by myself or with others for about thirty (30) years.
During the pandemic, my number of clients diminished, but I continue offering sessions, adhering to protocol. I was drawn to become a home health care worker and do that part-time. I am so grateful I was guided to enroll in reflexology training and feel most fortunate to have been able to offer healing to thousands. It is very fulfilling, satisfying and a source of great joy. I have said that as long as I don't develop arthritis in my hands, my desire is to continue giving sessions as long as I live and have the means.
In closing, I want to say that I am also very grateful for my membership in the Maine Council of Reflexologists and am honored to be one of its founding members.
written by Claire from a phone interview
Sandra Webber, another of our founding mothers, has a long history in reflexology. Her early introduction to reflexology was in 1991 while she was becoming licensed as a massage therapist through Downeast School of Massage. Along with continuing to develop her practice in massage therapy, Sandy also continued learning more about reflexology.
Although she did not take an “official” reflexology course, as a member of MCR, she was able to increase her knowledge of reflexology from guest speakers.
For eleven years, Sandra provided massage therapy at Sugar Loaf. When clients presented with issues such as a pulled muscle, she provided relief by combining massage and reflexology to the specific issues.
She expanded her bodywork practice with the study of body chemistry, which led her on the path of understanding the role of minerals and herbs to enhance healing. Sandy was owner of a specialized health store that offered supplements, herbal remedies and treatments.
To help her determine when and how to use a helpful modality, Sandra is led by her motto that her massage work “heals from the outside layer moving inward and her reflexology work aids the internal organs working out.”
Another development of a pain management technique and optimal health enhancement tool came about during mile long walks. As she walks and works on her own hands, Sandra determines many helpful hand reflexology points which she then incorporates in her sessions and shares with her clients for self-help. She is results driven in her practice and it has served her well.
Sandra demonstrating during an MCR educational program.
Below is the obituary for Linda Best. Some of our early members know Linda, one of MCR’s founding mothers. We wanted to share her obituary. There is still time to attend her celebration of life.
Linda Best passed away from heart disease at her residence in South Portland at 72 years of age. Linda loved life, friends and family and treated everyone she met like a celebrity. She was a unique, peaceful, loving soul with a passion for planning parties, playing cribbage and cooking up a storm for her friends and family.
Linda's top priority was always that of a professional mom, but she held various positions as a children's librarian (Orono), teacher (Orono), receptionist (UMaine), newspaper reporter (Republican Journal) and culinary consultant (Hannaford).
Her true calling was in massage therapy, working with hundreds of clients, many of them over several decades until her retirement.
She loved children unconditionally and without limits. Her children, her family's children, her friend's children, her children's friends, her children's friend's children, her friend's children's children, her grandchildren – she loved them all so much… if you knew her, you'll understand… she never forgot them and there's nothing she wouldn't have done for any of them.
Linda was predeceased by her parents James and Rita Peirolo of Springfield, Massachusetts. She is survived by her eldest son, Stephen, and grandchildren Paxton, Sterling, Adelaide and Arabella of Hawaii; younger son David, his wife Victoria and grandsons Simon and Landon of Lee, New Hampshire; step-son Christopher LaRiviere, his wife Kristin and step-grandsons Ian and Nathan.
She is also survived by her dear sister, Sylvia, brother-in-law Joseph Furlani, niece Angela Flebotte and husband Micheal, her nephew Anthony Furlani and fiancé Cathi and her grand-nieces Danielle, Gabriella, Isabella and Sophia. Linda is also survived by lifelong friends who meant so much to her and brought infinite joy and support to her life.
Online Tribute site: https://tributes.com/Linda-Best-Maine
Given the current pandemic, a celebration of life will be held in Ocean Park, Maine on her birthday, May 8, 2021 with regional gatherings to be announced on social media.
In lieu of flowers, the family has launched a GoFundMe.com fundraiser for memorial benches in Belfast and Ocean Park. Donations can also be made to Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust in Orland, Maine.
Aloisia Pollock, Sylvia Young, Wendy Decker, Janet Stetser
Feb 1997 Outgoing Officers
Secretary: Wendy Decker, Myra Achorn; Vice President, Magdalena Winkler; Treasurer: Chrissy Studer, President: Annette Wolfe