Elaine Calenda – A Master in Her Field

Back on June 14th of this year I had received a message that a former instructor of mine, Elaine Calenda, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  Shortly thereafter the cancer had metastasized to her brain and was inoperable.  Elaine passed away this past Friday, August 24th.  She lived 54 very full years.

The last time that I saw Elaine was September 2008 at the American Massage Therapy Association National Convention in Phoenix, AZ. I bumped into her at the expo and we chatted a little bit.  I had been a student of Elaine’s from 2000 through 2002 when I graduated with my Associates Degree in Occupational Studies at Boulder College of Massage Therapy.  Though it had been six years since I had seen her she remembered me and where I had been headed after my education.  Not too long ago I had a question pertaining to static stretching and reached out to Elaine for her opinion on the subject.  She responded quickly and offered good advice on the subject as she always did.

Elaine was an educator in massage therapy for 32 years, 25 of those years with the Boulder College of Massage Therapy.  Elaine was a constant presence there for the thousands of kids and adults who received an education in massage therapy.  To know Elaine on some level was to know someone that had a passion for her work.  She was a wealth of knowledge and was always interested in the latest research, studies or techniques that advanced her profession.  She was an advocate for massage therapy being involved locally, regionally and nationally with the AMTA.

Here is a video Elaine made one year that illustrates her fantastic sense of humor. https://youtu.be/SNarvcWH7CM She was crazy in a great way!

Elaine was the kind of person that you loved being around.  I felt like a sponge when I was with her.  I wanted to know just a smidgen of all that she knew.  She was so funny and taught me that massage therapy doesn’t have to be so serious and that at the appropriate times humor can bring tremendous healing.  She was a stickler for professionalism and I know she would not approve of the fact that I practice in my bare feet.  (I’m sorry Elaine!)  I don’t think that a week goes by when I don’t think of Elaine in my practice.  In fact, not a day goes by when I don’t.  She designed the human  anatomy poster in my treatment room that I reference and that my clients always look at to understand what is going on in their body.

She had a way of teaching that stuck with students.  She made massage therapy exciting because through her vast knowledge and clinical experience you saw what a difference this kind of work makes in the lives of individuals.  I gleaned so much from her but I was like so many students of Elaine’s.  I only had her for a few classes, one of which was Medical Massage.  She was also the Clinic Director when I was a student so I had the privilege of having her supervise me at times in the clinic.  My actual contact hours with her were fairly minimal in the scope of my education.  But each hour seemed like it was worth ten when you learned from Elaine.

If I learned that much from this woman, how much more did those that worked with her gain?  For individuals like Nate Butryn and Keith Stiles she was their mentor and I am sure she had a huge impact on them being the world class professionals that they are now.  Elaine literally and figuratively touched so many people that I can’t begin to guess what that number might be.  And of those that she taught, they have gone on and spread that knowledge and touch to the world that they know.

I’ll miss what Elaine has brought to the profession of massage therapy.  I’m hoping that massagepodcast.com keeps her interviews alive so that I can come back and learn from her.  After listening to Elaine my passion is always renewed for this profession.  I know that she will be missed by so many.

Elaine, I only need to say this to you.  You did a heck of a job.  You made us all better because of our relationship with you.  Thank you for your love and compassion.

The post Elaine Calenda – A Master in Her Field appeared first on Raining Faith Massage.

The post Elaine Calenda – A Master in Her Field appeared first on Raining Faith Massage.

18 Replies to “Elaine Calenda – A Master in Her Field”

  1. Thank you for having this memorial on your site; I was just sitting here, thinking about the iliosecal valve and remembering Elaine’s protocol — and googled her name to see if she had written about it anywhere. Then I saw that she had passed away — and was so shocked. I graduated from BCMT in 1998 and still remember her extraordinary teaching and presence. A genius. Thank you, Elaine.

    • I’m glad that you found this Bhanu. Elaine was a master, of whom there are too few in our world, which makes learning from one a truly treasured experience. Peace.


  2. Hello Matthew, I am Elaine’s sister, Jackie Bailey. Today I was missing her very much so I watched her You tube chicken massage video so I could see her. In my internet search I came across the kind words and was very touched to read them. Thank you for sharing. I know she keeps an eye on all her students from her place in heaven.
    All the best, Jackie

    • Dear Jackie, it warms my heart to know you found this today. Just last week I was telling a client of mine about Elaine, and how she still impacts my work to this day. As I think about my impact and legacy in this profession, Elaine motivates me to give my absolute best each day, just like she always did.
      Blessings to you,

  3. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to Elaine. I just learned of her passing yesterday. She was my teacher in 1992. She was by far my favorite … I echo the sentiments of all these other posts. I’m tremendously grateful to her passion and care.

    • Stephanie, I’m glad that you found this post. Elaine still impacts my work every day and I still strive to work so that she would be proud of the care I give my clients. It’s great to see that you are still practicing! Peace to you!

  4. This is a beautiful tribute to an AMAZING woman! Thank you for sharing your experience with her! We are so blessed to have known her! I have a quote she said still taped to my computer, “Massage is nutritional energy.”

  5. Matthew,

    I woke up thinking about my mentor and friend Elaine and began to google her name to get a little pick me up from her silly videos. In my search this amazing page popped up. Great job man!

    I normally look for her and others that have influenced my career. I still have a picture of Elaine and Clint Chandler in my treatment room. They’re that important to me. My business is growing and I wish I could pick up the phone and call her to ask her opinion. She’d probably tell me, “you got this kid!” That’s all I’d need to hear and have the courage to pull the trigger. It’s that simple. The connections she’s made both in life and death is tremendous. When I heard she was ill I flew out to Boulder from Boston to see her one last time. However, it was advised not to because she was too sick. I sat on the steps sobbing. She’s been such an inspiration to me and my practice since 1996. My very first day walking into the old building Keith and Elaine were there and said that I was going to be a great massage therapist. I was so nervous going there right out of the USAF and their nod of confidence helped.

    I got to be her TA in Orthopedic Massage and cherished every class. I was in charge of bringing in spinal cord injury clients, mostly paras and they would tell their story, physical issues, and then receive work from the students. I have always been impressed with how she decreased everyones fear with humor and her unique kindness. It was a huge win and such an inspiration for me. Be kind, keep it simple, and better be prepared. The ripple effect of her soul has touched hundreds of thousands of souls just from my practice alone. Easily.

    This coming year my wife and I are opening our massage school here in CA and my plan is to offer an Elaine Calenda Scholarship in her honor. She is that awesome! The last time I saw her was in Boston. She was there for a board meeting and came to visit my clinics. She told me I was the most successful MT from BCMT with a wink. She’s was being a wise ass as usual. I’m sure I’m not but her friendship and nod of approval has enriched my life and i’m grateful. She even signed one of her posters to me and it’s still in my room. It says, “Michael, Stay cool!” The last time I spoke with her was when she interviewed me for her podcast. God, I haven’t thought about that awful interview in years. As I write this tears flow freely from my face in gratitude. I hope to be as cool and effective as Elaine has been for all of us. Thanks again Matthew.

    Jackie, your sister’s chicken video is still enjoyed by so many people. That julia child’s voice is ridiculous! hahahahaaaaaa

    • Michael, having this greet me to begin my Friday morning has absolutely made my day. Elaine still has a firm hold on all of our hearts. For this, I am so grateful.

  6. When I was a student at the Swedish Institute, Elaine was so entertaining that the students in her class called it “The Elaine Calenda Show.”

  7. Thank you for writing this tribute to Elaine. Deep gratitude to you for commemorating her contributions so I can feel her impact together with you others who have known her and loved her! I’ve been reflecting on her alot lately and the influence she’s had on how I show up for my clients. It’s like she gave me permission to be a bit goofy and funny, and still be exceptionally knowledgeable and professional. She lives in my heart. I’ve got the “Muscles in Motion” and “Osteography” posters side-by-side in my office, too, and love reflecting on the support and creative passion for massage therapy that I experienced at BCMT where I did the 1000-hr Massage Certification and 500-hr Associate of Occupational Studies degree, then worked in the clinic. I graduated from the AOS in 2011. I can honestly say that the knowledge, humor, and love that I received from Elaine during Medical Massage and Clinic Supervision changed my life, and I’m grateful to carry some of her teachings with what I can offer as I show up to care for myself and others.

    • Hi Tina,

      It warms my heart to see continued interaction regarding Elaine. She continues to inspire us all and collectively drives us to bring our work to a higher and deeper level. Thank you for your response and best wishes to you!

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