It all began on a beach in Thailand, when I was asleep, and I almost missed it. I was on vacation, trying to escape the stress of working three jobs and the hustle and bustle of life in Tokyo. With not a care in the world, nor a thought in my head, I planned to do nothing but lie comatose with my feet in the surf.
But someone had other ideas.
“Lady! You want massaaa?” I was awakened from my deep slumber on Chaweng Beach, my tropical sunbathing interrupted by a tiny Thai lady with a heavy accent and a not-so-tiny voice. Not wanting to be disturbed, I remained unresponsive, pretending not to hear. Finally, she went on her merry way.
But the next day was the same thing. This persistent mini masseuse was bellowing in my ear, her tone rising as she spoke: “Lady, you wan’ massaaaAAAAAAAAAA?? Is very good for you…”
This happened for three days in a row, until, finally, I stopped pretending to be asleep and let her rub me. In all my twenty years, I had never had a massage, so I had no idea what to expect. My friends had raved about how heavenly massages made them feel, so curiosity got the better of me, and I gave in.
The lady with her beaming toothless smile put down her tattered straw mat under the shade of the huge banyan tree next to me and motioned for me to lie down on my belly. I adjusted my new hot-pink bikini, which I had just purchased that morning on the beach because it matched my lipstick perfectly, and pushed my spikey blond hair back into a band. My masseuse knelt on the soft white sand at my side and proceeded to rub me with oil—first my back, then legs and feet. Her touch was warm as she squeezed, rubbed, and caressed my sore, tired muscles.
I inhaled the aroma of the sweet coconut oil and soon started to doze off again. But it was only momentary, as I began to feel her walking on me—her feet pounding rhythmically on the back of my thighs, then her heels digging into my butt and the small of my back. She was stomping on me, and I was her human grape!
Unfazed, she proceeded to stretch me—pulling, pushing, twisting, and bending my arms and legs. Her feet planted into the back of my thighs, she took hold of both my arms, intertwining them with her own and arched me into a backbend, my face looking up to the sky. This was becoming more like a workout, and I was thankful when she released my arms and put me down, so I was lying flat on my belly again. But my workout continued as she crossed my feet and pushed them toward my butt with the weight of her entire body.
“In this, her debut memoir, Urena invites us into her world of massage, and on her journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It is a story penned with passion—raw, entertaining, and touching in every way.”
“When I first heard Mandy Urena read from If These Hands Could Talk, I was hooked! Her matchless combination of heartfelt human compassion, true grit and delicious British humor evoked so many emotions. I laughed out loud, I welled up with tears, and was deeply touched so many times by her story. What an inspiration!”
“Funny and at times poignant, IF THESE HANDS COULD TALK: THE GIRL WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD is an intriguing look at the people behind the hands that massage our aches away, as told by witty newcomer Urena.”
Mandy Urena was born in Coventry, England. She is an Air Force wife of 27 years and after training in London, Tokyo and New York, began her massage career as “masseuse to the troops” on military bases in Germany, Spain and Guam. Over a period of almost three decades, she has built an international following including some of the biggest celebrities in the world and people going through cancer. She also worked as an instructor in Philadelphia, teaching a new generation of therapists.
If these Hands Could Talk is her debut memoir and writing about her passion for massage is a dream come true.
As a world traveler, she has gallivanted through 64 countries and is now settled in Miami Beach, Florida with her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Abraham.