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Adventures from Karen's Clinic

Transcript from The Radical RMT Podcast #028 - Karen Munro-Capel

This is the radical RMT podcast where I talk to radical massage therapists chat about the unique lifestyle we have in this profession and cover topics we care about beyond the massage table. My name is Krista Dicks. I'm a registered massage therapist with over a decade of experience, if you want an inspiring career that leads to an incredible life. Stay tuned.


Krista Dicks: Karen, thank you for connecting with me on the radical RMT Podcast. I'm speaking with Karen today who is basically the comic that you'll see in many massage therapy resources. Her comic is adventures from Karen's clinic. And I'm a big fan. And it's always nice to see at the end of an email, but there's just a little, little something that you can relate to as a massage therapist that puts a smile on your face. So thank you so much for agreeing to chat with me today. Um, basically that you're out of Ottawa, we're both in Ottawa and you have an extensive history of animation in your past and then you became a massage therapist. So you're doing animation for 20 years in the Toronto area and a little bit here?

Karen Munro: Actually more here in Ottawa than in Toronto. I started in Toronto, I studied at Sheridan College, worked on Scooby Doo was the first job I had out of training, and different commercials at Navanna. And then worked on Inspector Gadget, and went overseas to Japan and Taiwan.

Krista Dicks: Okay, that's where it was created, like the animation was done?

Karen Munro: It was truly international, because it was created in the States, the idea of it and then it was moved around. They were able to animate and produce it cheaper overseas, but they needed to have things set up here. And so that was some of the work that I was doing and my husband at the time we're doing here. And then we were asked to go over there. It was an interesting job.

Krista Dicks: Lovely. And so what you mentioned in your bio, as I've sort of scoped out your website that you've been drawing for as long as you can remember.

Karen Munro: Artists are in my family, my grandmother taught painting, my aunt, she went to the Toronto Ontario School of Art years and years ago, and she married an artist and my cousins are artists, and we're all doing something mine is I have painted, I have done those things but really, my love has always been cartoons, and consistent all the years. And my mother kept the drawings I did as a kid. So it's really weird to look back. Not only how strange the little drawings were, but how odd my humor was. It's very weird to look back.

Krista Dicks: Okay, interesting. So, but you would have had a lot of influence, obviously, from the artists, you know, in your family or things that you were exposed to. So certainly that would come through in.

Karen Munro: My dad was a watchmaker and clock repair. But he had an artistic eye. And as my mother did, they wouldn't say they were artists. But my mother had painted taking lessons from her mother-in-law. But she would insist that she wasn't an artist, but she had an eye. The house was always done in a way that had a real flair to it. But she would still no I am not an artist.

Krista Dicks: Okay, and then there was no external pressure for you to create, as well. It was just something that naturally came out for you?

Karen Munro: It did naturally come out. But I would do cartoons for people for birthdays and events. And there did I was consistently doing and so there was a pressure I brought to bear on myself, but the family did expect. Well, gee I didn't get a card this year, or I didn't get something. And so there would, be this pressure to do it. And sometimes I really didn't really have an idea or didn't really want to do it. But there was that pressure, but there was certainly no pressure to go into the business. When I was in childcare. I've studied childcare for two years at Fanshawe College, decided to get out of it. And I wanted to take animation at Sheridan College in Oakville. And my parents were not really happy about that. I even asked my aunt who was an artist saying what do you think? Do you think she should be doing it? My aunt said no it's a tough life being an artist, I would recommend she not do it. And they hung up the phone within half hour, my aunt phoned back and said, ignore everything I said because if she wants to do it and be an artist, she should do it. And I made a living at it for 20 years. But it was something I really love to do.

Krista Dicks: Excellent. And so after, like, what drew you to a close of your animation like full time career, and that you'd then were interested in becoming a massage therapist or transitioning careers?

Karen Munro: There was an element of as much fun as it was being in animation. It was a high pressure job environment, because often, there would be a project that would be in the system, we would have often been behind schedule, we needed to get it done yesterday, it would be overproduced and you wouldn't have very much money. And there was always this push, and after so many years we kept is this never going to change. And it really didn't fundamentally change. And after a while I grew quite weary of always being under somebody else's directions. And I thought God would be great if I could just run my own show. And I always like doing massage I had studied massage down in Kripalu it was a health and yoga center down in Massachusetts, and I'd taken an intensive program there. So I was considered a body worker not registered. So I came back. And I advertised myself that way I worked at my home, while still doing freelance animation. I did crafts, I did all sorts of things to keep body and soul together. And I did that for about nine years. Finally, Algonquin College opened up a school for massage therapy, because there had been no schools. I would have gone and been more official about it, but there was nothing in the area. Finally, they opened up the school I dived into the second stream. And again, while I was studying, during summers, I was still doing freelance animation. And finally, upon graduating and getting a job, and setting up my own clinic, I was able to go I don't want to do animation again. And I didn't draw for quite a while because I was so sick of it. And it was mostly there was this pressure. I love the people. I'm still friends with the people I met in animation, but it more fun money my own show. Yeah, so it just made I had the best of both worlds I get to draw, but I get to do massage now. So really, to me the two things go really well together.

Krista Dicks: When did sort of the drawing come back in your massage practice?

Karen Munro: I moved out I was living with a sweetie, we broke up and I moved into a place of my own, where I was able to set up my animation table. That's, that's my animation table. That's awesome. And because I really didn't have any other place to work when I was sharing an accommodation, although I did draw didn't do very much. But once I had the table, if I got an idea, I could just draw it. And then when you have a light box, you put another page over and I can quickly make changes or tweak it really fast. And so because of that speed and the availability of the table, then it became more fun. Then I started to do more drawings. And I didn't do any of the massage stuff right away. But I did do just my own drawings for people, for just friends and things like that.

Krista Dicks: Yeah. Do you know how many comics you've created so far for adventures from Karen's clinic? Like how many scenarios you put on paper?

Karen Munro: Okay, I started in 2005. And I done one cartoon pretty much every month. So you think I'm not

Krista Dicks: working on math? Yeah. Massage Therapists aren't always awesome at math. Well, I'm sure someone out there has figured it out already.

Karen Munro: Even as an artist, an animator I thought, why do I need math? I'm an artist. And then then in animation, we were told that we had to calculate pans and different things and then I was at a loss again.

Krista Dicks: Do you remember the first idea you had to create for the comment like what happened?

Karen Munro: You know what I'm going to back up I just wanted to tell you about how it started. And then, um, I don't know if you know Pam Fitch. She's well known in the Ottawa area and she is a teacher at Algonquin College. I met her because I was also teaching through Algonquin doing outreach. She at the time was the chair of the OMTA, which now is called the RMTAO. And they were had a magazine called massage therapy today. It was called something else before but she was the one that asked me back in 2005, would you consider putting together comic strip for massage? And so that's what we did. And so then in those issues of the magazine, some were black and white some then got coloring, and we went back to back in black and white. And that's where the format of the shape of the cartoon came in. Because it isn't just in a line like other cartoons, because I had to fit what was to fit into the magazine. Right? Then they said, you know, we really would like the magazine to be more academic, more serious. And the cartoon didn't really quite fit with that. So then they said, well, let's publish you once a month with the Friday file. Although it came out every Friday, I'm on the last Friday, every month. So then I remember sitting down talking to Pam about this, and already, in my mind had some ideas. And one of the ideas, one of the first ones was the idea of how our clients, it's very difficult to get them to tell us accurately how much pressure and how for some people I had a drawing of the jackhammer, somebody’s back, and they're going, can you go a little deeper, and then somebody that I'm just coming in the door, and they're like, that's a little too deep, just lighten up a little. So that idea was bouncing around. And so then, that was, I think, one of the very first.

Krista Dicks: Amazing, it's wonderful. And, I mean, I'm sure it's just recognizable, so many of the scenarios are recognizable to every massage therapist. And it's just that, that feeling like oh, it's not hasn't just happened to me, like it's happened to other therapists before and, and putting that humorous spin on it, I think really, really helps in some of the more difficult situations and you are really good at creating a comic for both sides. What's funny for us, or what might be funny to the client and then some of like, the some of the scenarios that are like even the one about like, bad breath, let's say like, but on the client part, right? And it's just like, yes, like that is just something that that happens, but then they turn around and might say something about yours. And you're like what, like, it's not, it's not like that at all. So there's I love like how many angles you can come at it. And it's all relatable. You mentioned that the magazine said that they wanted to be more academic and I need to remove that humorous side to the profession. But that I'm understanding is very important to you is humor for like your well-being. Can you can you elaborate on that?

Karen Munro: I personally use humor a lot when I'm working with my clients. So separate from the cartoons. I find it a really quick way to connect. And a quick way to find out about my client because I'll say a little joke. And I'm watching to see what their reaction can be. And there's something that had happened to me, it actually happened to me where I went, I said, No, take a couple of nice deep breaths right into your belly. But it got mixed up and said Take a couple of deep breaths into my belly. And so I often will say that to a new client that just say, oh, yeah, I got mixed up one time, and I watch and some people just about fall off the table. They're just, their whole body goes up and down and they laugh so hard. In some people, it's like they didn't even hear me, right? It's not they're not and so that says a great deal to me about how the rest of the treatment will go. Okay, this is someone that they didn't laugh. This is someone I'm not going to be talking a lot with or joking around with. I'm going to just be really straightforward. Some people that like a laugh and I can see them relax. From laughing. I think okay, when it's appropriate I might say something else. Not all the time. You don't want to be joking all the time. Especially I don't talk about them I'm joking about you, me. And so then they can relax and know that okay. And some of the most prickly irritable people start. They're scared usually but yeah, for some reason we don't know why. And they'll come in and be all, you know kind of pissy pants and not want nothing we do will be good enough or right? And then a little joke can be interjected. Next thing I know they're just smiling and relaxed. It doesn't happen every time but I just find it as for it as a tool. It's something I have at my disposal, and I definitely use a lot. And