Notice and Focus



“Notice and Focus” – An Interview with Sara Smith, Massage Therapist, reflecting on painting entitled “Occurrence”

 Sara: Your waves are really crisp and clean, gentle and rolling, like you can almost hear the foam. The sand is inviting. I’m curious to know the time of day; it looks like noon.

Rosemary: Yes, I love the brightness of the midday.

Sara: It’s a very quiet moment, and it is centered on this bird , quite specifically. And the bird is taking a moment in its path, to be still and almost investigate you as the viewer of this image.

Rosemary: Precisely. In this painting, I say the ‘notice goes both ways’. I notice the bird, and the bird is noticing me, the onlooker. And what strikes me about you, Sara, and your expertise in healing through massage, is that you’re doing very much that. You are working on one singular person, and reading them… detecting the person’s muscles, ligaments, body, and not just body. And in turn your client is absorbing your touch and healing abilities.

Sara: That is necessary for me. It seems like if I had you on my mind prior to you coming in, and you’d not notified me in any way, I know my energies are somehow connected for a reason and when you come to your massage, I end up learning that reason. Life essence to me is vibration of energy. On a molecular level everything vibrates. We all put out this energy, we all pick up these vibrations and are aware of it, even though we aren’t mentally aware of it. I would know that you are in a bad mood before I talk to you based on what I see and that’s energy. We pick up that energy, we see that and understand it. But there are things like gut feelings that we listen to but don’t understand at the time. That’s another way people practice this naturally in their own instinctive way. So to further that sort of knowledge of basic energy, there are other ways to hone in on this, pick up on this, and there are tools like stones, having deeper knowledge of how to use images and symbols and chakras and colors and sense and aroma therapy to help you have clairvoyancy on these things. Think positively, you put out positive vibes, your receive positive vibes. You don’t want to put out negative vibes.

Another thing I see in your painting is the clarity of the water, and the color of the water, that we can see through the waves into the ocean, and to the shoreline and to the sand, and then we see where it gets deeper into the deeper water and the color gets much deeper. And I like the invitation to come out. It makes me wonder what the season is, the time of year. And I want to know what that thing is on the sand near the seagull; is it a snail and is he going to eat it?

Rosemary: It does keep you curious, asking “what is it?”, and I left the object unclear as to what it is.

As far as the season, it is Spring. I see your curiosity translates into your profession. You are naturally curious to explore, as you do in your work, identifying the areas of the body that need healing. As the seagull brings one’s focus to his investigation along the sands, I see you focusing on the different areas of the body, totally probing with your fingers for the purposes of healing. You describe yourself as having a lot of awareness going into it.

Sara: We learn, as a massage therapist, to be constantly assessing and reassessing. We assess before you even get on the table, while you are on the table, and then we’re watching you as you’re leaving and looking how you walk, how you carry yourself, are you carrying a purse, are you carrying business luggage, what kind of things you do…all that plays into things in your body that work, your mechanics.

Rosemary: Your profession is one on one, solitary in that you are dealing with one other person all the time, but also solitary in a room where you are concentrating on one person, much like a counselor, intense in some respects. How is that as a career, because you’ve been doing it for many years.

Sara: As a therapist, you learn in our education that we have to have professional boundaries for our massage work, and we have to practice within my scope of practice. We are not mental therapists, although your mental health is part of your physical health, so there is nothing wrong to listen, but we cannot give advice, we cannot cross that boundary.

And clients don’t come in with the same issue each time. You have an underlying issue that may be consistent, but we have other issues that we need to continue to work on because the whole is necessary.

Rosemary: You approach things as a whole. Over the years, I’ve visited so many different doctors and have not found them to necessarily integrate and to consider me as a whole. Mind you they have their own expertise just like you do, but to be able to think more holistically in their approach would seem more comprehensive and helpful.

Sara: Why I became a massage therapist is because my mother was a RN and I got tired of medication being the first option to fix you when you were ill or when you were injured. The last time I went in, as a teen, for a sinus infection, for the third time in a year, having done this year after year, I literally looked at my doctor and said “I’m on antibiotics more than I should be. I don’t need this. It’s not helping anything. It’s making my immune system weak. I want something that’s going to clear my nasal passages”. He smiled, my mother smiled, and they gave me something to clear everything and I just started taking care of myself, drinking a lot more water, being more prepared for seasonal allergies and more knowledgeable and more aware of my body. This is why I became a massage therapist.

Rosemary: Earlier, you mentioned the color of the water. How do the colors in the painting strike you?

Sara: Those are my colors. Green is a healer’s color actually. Blue is my calm color. And it’s also water, so it’s a life essence and one I deeply relate to. White actually is a purifying color.

My first time being at the ocean was in Florida. The smell and vastness of the ocean, the view, made me cry. I felt my smallness in the universe. I love the sunshine and the water and feeling the positive ions and all that energy in a positive manner. And it’s healing.

Rosemary: This has been very interesting, and I’d like to thank you for taking time to reflect on your career while relating to the painting.

“Occurrence” (pictured above as a Framed Canvas Giclee reproduction) is available at in your choice of reproductions


  1. The “underlying issue” I love that acknowledgement. For me it only seems to get brought up by those who offer holistic care. That makes holistic care a first choice. A choice that doesn’t deny the center.

    Nice space you have here.

    • Sara

      I like that you noticed this “holistic care” aspect as well, Jenna. This was my exact assessment to Rosemary’s project when she presented it to me!

    • Rosemary


      I’m glad you like the space and hope you keep reading and subscribe for notification of upcoming new art to be released soon. I agree, holistic care takes us out of denial and into the reality of the whole person!

      Thanks, Rosemary

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