what’s in a name?

July 14, 2011

So. I changed my name.

I used to be Rebecca Igeka Williams. ‘Igeka’ was very dear to me. It was a middle name that my parents made up and I loved it. Weird, yes. One thing that was slightly annoying was that people always pronounced it “eye” “geek” “uh”, or “e” “geck” “uh”. My mother told me it was spelled wrong on my birth certificate. She said she wanted to wait to ask her grandmother how to spell it phonetically, but they wouldn’t let my mom wait. The hospital staff made her decide right when I was born, and so, in a rush, she was unable to spell it phonetically as she would have liked. According to my father the first two syllables are French and the last is Hebrew. This comes as recent news to me.

If you can say the alphabet in french, then when you get to I, J, K, you have said my name.

For the first 11 years of my life I went by a different last name (long story involving my mother, pseudo-step-father, passports, and living in other countries). At 11 years old, I began to call myself Rebecca Williams, according to my birth name. It never quite fit or felt like my name. My father is William Williams, and hence, Williams has always felt very much like it belonged to my father.

Later, I married, and in doing so became Rebecca Hess. After my divorce, I did not have the energy to do all the follow up required to change a name. As I approached the end of massage school, it was finally time to change my name. I wanted a name of my own on my graduation certificate from massage school and on my massage license. And so, I took my middle name and made it my new last name. The pronunciation remains the same. In the process I figured I might as well replace the “G” with a “J” and add an “H” at the end. And so … Igeka has become Ijekah.

Today, Ijekah gets her certificate of completion from the Ralston School of Massage in Reno, Nevada.

Last week was my first week working in the Ralston School of Massage Student Clinic. I worked on a petite woman who has to lift heavy things often as an event planner. I worked on a woman who has seen many student therapists and had particularly tight rhomboids (muscles that connect your scapula or shoulder blade to your spine). I had the pleasure of giving someone their very first massage in their life. And, I also got to work on a runner who recently strained his back playing racketball a little too hard.

Four, hour long massages from paying clients who did not know me. They seemed very pleased. I’m delighted to be working on people, learning how to focus on the energy in their body, respond to what they ask for, listen to their bodies and find a way to bring them relaxation, relief and comfort. Based on each clients’ needs there was some amount of relaxation work, deep tissue work, some “shortenings” to relieve tight strained muscles, and some acupressure work.

If you’re interested in having some body work done, please call the Ralston School of Massage Student Clinic at (775) 827-1800 and book an appointment with Rebecca. Appointments with Rebecca are available Monday – Thursday at 5:30 PM and Saturdays at 10 AM, 11:30 AM or 1:00 PM.

My initial introduction to Feng Shui, was much by accident. It came from a visit to a bookstore, and grew into something I wanted to learn more and more about. Much like that accidental introduction was my relationship with massage.

When I was 13 years old I went on a ten day backpacking trip in the Adirondack Mountains of North Carolina. At the end of each day we massaged each other. People always wanted to sit in front of me in our massage circles. From that day forward people’s bodies and my hands gravitated towards each other.

Years later, while hiking the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), I found myself massaging other hikers on the trek between Mexico and South Lake Tahoe. While teaching skiing and snowboarding at TASS (Tahoe Adaptive Ski School – Disabled Sports USA) and giving someone a ten minute back or shoulder rub, they would ask, “Are you a massage therapist? Are you a physical therapist? Where did you learn this?”

At that time, what I knew was no more than most of us know about breathing. We simply do it. No one taught us how to breathe. We know how; it’s what we do. Lucky for me I have an intuitive sense of touch. Some months ago, I decided to pursue that fascination and love of the human body a little more seriously. I started taking classes at a massage school.

I’m pleased to say that yesterday, was my the first client who walked into a school and booked me for a massage. I was a little nervous, mostly because I didn’t know the routine, what papers go where for the school (intake forms, etc.), if I get the client to fill out the intake form or if the school official does that. In any case it was a very positive experience to work on my first client in a professional setting, the school clinic.

I am excited that I have three quarters of a year to work on clients in a clinic setting, and continue to learn more about our amazing bodies. I once read (in the Feng Shui and Money book, I think) that Feng Shui is to your home what acupuncture is to your body. I look forward to my journey of learning more about how Yin and Yang energy flow and interact in both our bodies and in our surrounding environments.