Many of our practitioners become a part of Cuddlist because they want everyone to feel seen, heard, and cared for. Many also have a background in massage therapy and coaching that gives them a special compliment as a part of our team. That is the case with Nellie.
Nellie is one of our practitioners from Florence, MA who has a background in massage, coaching, and integrative health, who wants others to feel listened to. She welcomes diversity in her sessions, working with people of all gender identities, races, sizes, abilities, and sexual orientations, and believes that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to experience connection or platonic touch.
In a phone interview, Nellie talked about what drew her to becoming part of the Cuddlist team, her most memorable moments as a practitioner, and other information about her that any potential clients would like to know. She had a lot of amazing insight on her experiences.
What drew you to being a professional cuddler, specifically a Cuddlist?
“I had been doing somatic work and bodywork with people for several years, and I was drawn to Cuddlist because of the clarity around communication and consent. I had also been doing a lot with Cuddle Parties when I lived in California, and I loved that model. I had met Madelon years ago in training we took together before Cuddlist existed. A friend of mine went through the Cuddlist training and suggested that I should check it out. I was looking for different work at the time and when I found out Madelon started the company, and it was based around the ideals of the Cuddle Parties, I was excited to become a Cuddlist.”
What life experiences do you have that compliment your work as a Cuddlist?
“I’ve got quite a few. I have a background in doing massage therapy with people and I just finished my Cuddle Party facilitator training. I’ve also worked as a sexuality educator in the past and am in a training to become a certified Wheel of Consent facilitator. I feel like all of those things have really helped me in being able to support clients, connecting with them and supporting them in communicating what they want. Past experiences have helped me become very comfortable in working with people in different emotional states. If they need additional support, I have a Master’s in integrative health studies and a certification in wellness coaching, so I can use some of my coaching background to help people get clear about what they want for themselves.”
Can you share a specific story with a Client that was meaningful to you?
“One of my regular clients is transgender. They came to see me after having top surgery wanting to explore what kinds of touch felt good after going through this change. One of the things that came up was that they wanted to have their hair played with and have their head scratched. They asked for that and then got shy and said “is that something you can do?” To be able to be an enthusiastic “yes” and to normalize it for them, saying that lots of people like it, was really wonderful. To feel their body drop into a state of relaxation while playing with their hair and them saying “I could stay here forever” was really delightful. It’s moments like that where there’s a breakthrough, moments when a person asks for something they want but are unsure they’re going to like it that are such a special part of this work. The same client asked if I could lie on top of their back, kind of like the feeling of being under a weighted blanket, and they found out it wasn’t working for them so we did something different. When a client can identify and then ask for what they want, try it out, and if it’s not working for them make a change and be okay with that is an important part of Cuddlist work. This is a place to figure out what you want and what you don’t want, and I love to support people in that exploration.”
Is there a quote or saying that you live by?
“Not really, although I’m spending a lot of time thinking about the importance of being at choice and having awareness of where privilege, or the lack thereof, sits when being able to be at choice or not. It’s not necessarily a quote, but being at choice is a critical part of consent, and that’s something I consider a lot.”
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self, and what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
“For my 10-year-old self, it would be that you’re perfect and wonderful just as you are. You get to be right where you are and play and enjoy life. As far as the best piece of advice I received, nothing specific comes to mind, but one thing I’ve been working on for a long time is having compassion for my inner child, recognizing the socially constructed narratives that I’ve accumulated in my life, and being aware that I can make different choices and can take care of myself in new and different ways.”
Is there anything else about you that you would like to share?
“One of the other things that I would like to share is that the work I’m doing feels important on both an individual level with the people I work with, and also feels like it’s important in creating larger social change in how people are with each other in relating, especially around touch and communication. I love the work that I do and I’m very fortunate that I have clients from the queer community and chronic illness and disability communities, which are groups of people I’m interested in supporting. My personal experience living with a chronic illness also influences my work and makes me want to support others going through challenges and experiencing isolation.”
To book a session with Nellie, go to https://cuddlist.com/nellie/