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What Clients Do For Me

hands statue

I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I can give to my clients. I hope that every time someone comes to see me, they have a truly amazing session. I want to give all of my attention and energy, knowledge and training, intuition and intention to facilitate relaxation and overall wellbeing, focus on trouble spots and, for regular clients, build on progress made and continue to peel away layers of imbalance while improving health and function.

It occurred to me the other day that I don’t spend a great deal of time acknowledging all that my clients give to me. I have the best clients! They give of themselves so freely—trust, ideas, affection—I don’t take it lightly and I never take it for granted. Occasionally I am filled with awe.

Sometimes clients will bring me actual gifts. One week I received a beautiful sachet of lavender from one and a box of healthy muffins from another—both from our wonderful Wednesday farmer’s market. Then the next week a client shared some amazing pieces of fish he had caught, along with a bag full of Altoid tins his wife sent along after learning I’m making little shrine art or “nichos” with them. One client brought me a box of her favorite incense cones, just because she felt inspired by the soothing aroma and she wanted to share it with me. People’s thoughtfulness is just astonishing, and the words “thank you” do not seem sufficient.

One of the best presents is the gift of a referral. I feel so honored when a client is pleased enough with their care that they would pass along my information to someone who is looking for a massage therapist or reflexologist. Other times, a client will share a referral with me—for a great stretching program, or a physician specialist, or a wonderful place to go hiking or kayaking. Some of my favorite nutritious recipes have come from clients.

But really, the most treasured gifts are not tangible. I always hope that a client will leave my office feeling better than they did when they arrived. The flip side is that I always feel better, too!

Even on the rare day that I feel kind of blah when I arrive at my office, once someone comes in and asks how I’m doing with genuine interest, and allows me to “enter their personal space” and begin this phenomenal exchange of healing energy, I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Some clients are talkative and we share ideas and funny stories and personal challenges. Sometimes we delve into the world’s problems. Other clients are quiet, and I enjoy the nonverbal communication that happens naturally. Often the session becomes a moving meditation, and ideas and creative solutions come to me that sometimes are just small nuggets, but other times seem quite profound!

Even if no new information is revealed to me, I always enjoy the process and the tremendous feelings of well-being that result. So here’s to gratitude: to my clients for their faith and support and generosity and kindness, and to the universe for allowing giving and sharing and goodness to transpire in my office and in my work.

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

New Recommendations for Back Pain

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Huge news! The American College of Physicians just released new guidelines that recommend trying nonpharmacological therapies (like massage therapy!) for back pain before turning to pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines.

According to an article in the New York Times, in the wake of opioid addiction that too often begins with a prescription for conditions like back pain, a number of states (including Florida) have cracked down on medical establishments (often nicknamed “pill mills”) that over-prescribe pain killers. This situation has caused many physicians to rethink their own prescribing habits.

And now the medical organization that many doctors belong to—the American College of Physicians—has reconsidered the effectiveness of prescribing pain killers for back pain to begin with. The new guidelines encourage doctors to tell patients to try alternative therapies like “exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy or yoga”—and reassure their patients that they will get better no matter which route they choose.

I was discussing this article with a client the other day, and she told me that years ago her son was in an accident and suffered debilitating back pain from it. After seeking treatment from a doctor, she was told that there were three courses of action they could choose from: surgery, injections, or doing nothing. The doctor told her studies showed that over a 3-5 year period, no matter which path a patient chose, the outcome was the same. So they chose to avoid surgery and injections, her son received physical therapy and massage therapy, and sure enough, over time, he made a complete recovery.

But that doctor may have been the exception. It seems to me that doctors want to do something, they want to offer a solution, so they offer pain medicine, injections, or procedures. It wasn’t until early in my practice (which was later in my life) that I learned from a chiropractor that a “typical” back strain produces a very normal inflammatory response—it’s what our bodies need to do to work through trauma—and it typically resolves in 3-5 days with no intervention.

We are just so accustomed to wanting, and getting, instant “gratification” or relief, that we don’t want to wait 3-5 days. We want someone to do something NOW. So many of us turn to a doctor, who might be tempted to offer medication that might provide instant relief. But the physicians interviewed for the NY Times article stated that usually there is no need to see a doctor for back pain at all. “For acute back pain,” one doctor states, “the analogy is to the common cold. It is very common and very annoying when it happens. But most of the time it will not result in anything major or serious.”

Even for chronic back pain—pain lasting at least 12 weeks—doctors are now recommending that patients start with nonpharmacological therapies.

And finally, doctors are admitting that scans like MRI are “worse than useless” for back pain patients, because the results can be misleading. One of my physical therapy colleagues told me this years ago—that if someone went to the doctor for back pain and a scan revealed an irregularity like a bulging disc, they’d probably order surgery or some treatment for the bulging disc, but in reality the bulging disc might not be the cause of the pain at all. Most of us, at a certain age (after years of wear and tear), have at least one bulging disc in our spines, but many of us never have any issues from it. So discovering it in a scan is not necessarily all that helpful.

Now many doctors are telling patients to skip the scan and try alternative therapies first. The new recommendations include:

Stay active. Practices like yoga, stretching, and Tai Chi are great. But you don’t have to start a new regimen—if there’s something you already like to do, do that!
Think positive. A patient has to believe that they can get better.
Keep expectations in check. These are guidelines for managing pain rather than “curing” pain. Alternative therapies can take time, but ultimately can be quite effective.

The physicians interviewed admitted that one challenge to this approach is that the insurance industry is not geared toward paying for things like massage, mindfulness training or chiropractic adjustments. It’s actually easier to get approval for an injection! But in the long run, we have to think about which course of action will yield the best results.

One physician says, “What we need to do is to stop medicalizing symptoms.” He tells patients, “I know your back hurts, but go run, be active, instead of taking a pill.”

Therapies like massage and reflexology can help with pain relief and healing, easing the stress (and worry) that can accompany pain. I personally am not anti-medication by any means, but I am happy when doctors see the value in “alternative” therapies and feel comfortable recommending them to their patients.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/health/lower-back-pain-surgery-guidelines.html

pill explosion

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Celebrating Love

skeletal love

 

Americans have turned Valentine’s Day into a multi-billion dollar consumer holiday, demonstrating love with greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, dinner dates, and jewelry.

And while there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to celebrate couples and romantic love, there’s a lot more to love than that!

In an exercise in my reflexology certification program, we were challenged to think about our core values—what really drives us to do what we do? Because if we want to market our skills successfully, we have to make sure that our message is genuinely in line with our beliefs.

What I learned about myself is that love really is at the core of everything I do. Loving myself fuels me to do my best every day. Loving the community I live in (and the planet I live on) motivates me to do what I can to make the world a better place. Love inspires me to give caring attention to my clients and help them love themselves and their own healing process. I believe that love is what connects us at a deeply subconscious, spiritual level. Love is at the center of empathy, compassion, strength (what is worth fighting for, after all? Something or someone you care deeply about—something or someone you love). Love is at the core of any passion!

Whenever I am in a challenging situation or dealing with a difficult person, I try to remember this mantra: Pour some love on it. Honestly, even when people are being ugly, they need love. They probably need love most of all.

If “love” is too intimate a word for you, try “kindness.” In 2017’s first issue of Parade magazine, writer Paula Spencer Scott challenged us to make kindness a resolution. Clearly, with everything going on in our world these days, we need more of it. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has launched a kindness challenge. One suggestion is to write a thank-you note to a different person each week of the year—52 opportunities to show gratitude and boost happiness! Another suggestion is to make it a point to do something—one simple, kind thing—every day. There’s a book by Orly Wahba called Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts with specific ideas that make it easy. (Wahba has a TED talk called “Kindness Boomerang” as well.)

Psychologist Harriet Lerner states that the more we see a lack of kindness in public, the more it trickles down into our own personal lives. “But kindness is not an ‘extra,”” she states. “It’s at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others.”

The good news is that any of us can turn it around. Author Leon Logothetis knows from experience, traveling the globe as an experiment just to see how far he could get relying on the kindness of strangers. He says, “On the surface, we’re in a kindness deficit, but underneath there’s a vast stream of it—if you just scratch the surface.”

Kelsey Gryniewicz of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation agrees: “That’s the power of kindness—it just takes one person, one act. You don’t need money or a ton of time.”

And showing love (being kind) brings us multiple benefits.

1. It feels good. Literally, it lights up our brain’s reward center. And, there’s a real phenomenon called “social contagion.” So when you do your one small act of random kindness, it gives you a lift, it gives the person you are kind to a lift, and it also lifts up everyone who witnesses the act! Then everyone is inspired to “kind it forward.”

2. It improves our physical health. The article in Parade states that “When patients receive kind treatment from medical staff—better communication, an effort to get to know them as people—they have less anxiety and pain and shorter hospital stays… Doctors and nurses, in turn, feel more engaged and less exhausted.”

I would argue that any time we can use better communication and make an effort to get to know someone as a person—even if we are in a debate with someone who holds a view contrary to our own—we’re both going to have less anxiety, feel more engaged and less exhausted.

3. Kindness improves neighborhoods. This is my favorite example, again from Parade: A candidate running for mayor of Anaheim, CA in 2010 was inspired by signs made featuring a simple message: “Make Kindness Contagious.” (These were signs celebrating the life philosophy of a 6-year-old who’d been killed in an accident.) The young girl’s father was a doctor, and he told the candidate that “in medicine, you can treat the symptom or you can stimulate the body to heal itself.” The candidate wondered if the same principle could be applied to a city. “What if a culture of kindness could stimulate the city to heal from within?” he pondered. He has since started programs to help neighbors get to know each other. They form neighborhood watches to minimize crime, and they are more likely to rush to each others’ aid in an emergency or disaster. He encourages volunteerism and participation in the One Billion Acts of Kindness campaign. He even helped bring the Dalai Lama to give the keynote address on kindness to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. These are all good ways to foster connection and help make up the “kindness deficit”!o

There’s more in the article, related to nurturing emotional intelligence in kids and using kindness to combat bullying, acknowledging that millennials lead the way in seeking social workplaces and recognizing empathy as part of a sought-after skill set, and establishing that kindness is key to breaking down barriers socially and building a more connected world.

The call to action is making kindness a verb—to do kind things and live kindness. “It’s easy, it’s free, it feels good—and it really makes a difference,” writes the author.

So this Valentine’s Day, let’s pour some love on everyone we meet. Sure, you can shower your sweetie with gifts if you have one. But everyone needs loving kindness. Pass it on!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Give Peace a Chance

girl on hammock in nature

 

As I write this, I’ve decided to take a day off from Facebook and from trying to keep up with every urgent news update.

It’s not that I don’t care about what’s going on or how people feel about what’s going on. It’s just that I need a little break.

These are tumultuous times, politically. I’m worried, and I’m more engaged than I ever have been. And shame on me for not being more active prior to this!

But what is the best way to be involved? It gets overwhelming sometimes, doesn’t it? Well-intentioned friends on both sides of the political spectrum post outrageous headlines from dubious sources, and the reaction is an escalation of outrage. Accusations fly, people get defensive and emotional, and sometimes ugly.

And it occurs to me that if everyone is outraged and yelling, who is listening?

I tried an experiment a couple days ago. I entered an online conversation where the exchanges had already gotten heated. I responded to someone with opposing views from mine. I let him know that I believe his concerns are valid, that his voice is being heard. And yet, I suggested, the “other side” makes solid points as well, and perhaps the best solution to the problem is a combination of what he was proposing AND some of what others were saying. He calmed down. He agreed! We reached consensus.

I have strong feelings and beliefs, as most people do. I will keep fighting for what I think is right and decent. But the “fight” needs to be based on real information and rational stances on issues. It’s helpful to take the crazy-making emotions out of the equation.

So I’m backing off for a day, to reclaim my inner peace. Sometimes being angry is absolutely appropriate, necessary. But clarity is always appropriate and necessary. Sometimes we all need a moment (or a day) to quiet the noise, and to appreciate what is good and beautiful around us.

I love this quote from Peace Pilgrim: “My inner peace remains in spite of any outward thing. Only insofar as I remain in harmony can I draw others into harmony, and so much more harmony is needed before the world can find peace.”

This does not mean everyone needs to agree. We probably never will. And, of course we can’t remain passive when we believe injustice is being done. Some things truly are unacceptable.

But sometimes it’s good to acknowledge that differing points of view can be a positive thing. However challenging, at least some of the time, we can help each other see things from a different perspective.

Maybe if we start from a place of inner calm, we can find better paths toward solutions. Maybe at least we can stop yelling at each other! And take turns listening.

May what’s unique and sacred in me recognize and honor what’s unique and sacred in you. (Even if I vehemently disagree with you.) Namaste.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Good Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

pole walking

We’re still in the midst of cold and flu season, and some people struggle with all the fluctuations in weather we’ve been having, or simply from being in closed spaces with less fresh air for long periods of time.

According to WebMD and what I know from my own training in massage and reflexology, here are some tips for boosting your immune system naturally to stay healthy and avoid getting sick:

Spend time with friends. New studies show that strong human connections are one of the most important factors in overall health. WebMD states, “People with healthy relationships are likely to outlive those with poor social ties.” Reach out to the friends you already have, and/or meet new like-minded people by volunteering, taking a class, or joining a club that interests you. (There are many, many groups listed on MeetUp.com if you need help finding one.

Do your best to stay positive. From WebMD: “When you think good thoughts, your body’s defenses work better… Savor the things you enjoy. Look for a silver lining — even in tough times — and try not to dwell on the bad stuff.”

Laugh! Truly, a good belly laugh gives our immune system a boost. Watch a funny movie or even a short video. Or visit a website with good jokes.

Adopt a dog. Being around any pet you love can be soothing (even staring into a fish tank can actually lower your blood pressure!), But dogs come with the added benefit of encouraging us to exercise more. Walking pumps our lymphatic system via the abundance of lymph vessels in our feet—so taking your furry buddy for a stroll is good for hearth health, mental health, and immune system health!! If you can’t commit to owning a pet, you could consider volunteering at a shelter.

Relax. Too much stress weakens out immune system. Make sure you have leisure time to do things you enjoy, and true down time to just rest or sleep.

Eat fresh produce. Fruits and veggies are full of vitamin C and antioxidants that guard against free radicals that damage cells. Go for the full spectrum of the rainbow, because each color provides a different abundance of nutrients.

Check with your doctor or nutritionist about supplements. Some foods and supplements can very specifically support our immune system, but some supplements also can interfere with medications you may be taking, and some can even be harmful when taken in excess. Best to talk with a professional before self “prescribing.”

Exercise! We already mentioned how good walking is. A half hour of exercise daily is a great way to reduce stress, boost the immune system, and promote overall health. It doesn’t have to be vigorous. See if you can find something you love, and feel free to mix it up: walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, tennis, dancing, golf etc. Just move!

Sleep! Good quality sleep is every big as important as exercise. (And regular activity can actually improve sleep!) Without sleep, your immune system won’t have sufficient strength to fight illness. To get the best night’s sleep, try to give yourself time to unwind in the evening, have a consistent bedtime schedule, stay active during the day, skip caffeine late in the day and alcohol near bedtime, and keep your bedroom cool.

Drink in moderation. Many of us socialize and celebrate with a bit of booze. While there is nothing wrong with a little alcohol (and perhaps even some benefit!), too much of it can weaken our immune system and cause us to get sick more often. The recommended limit is no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

Have sex! Believe it or not, people who enjoy a healthy sex life get sick less often.

Quit smoking. Do your immune system a favor and stay away even from second-hand smoke.

Wash your hands. You don’t have to use an anti-bacterial soap, but a good scrub of at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water will wash away germs so your body doesn’t have to fight them off.

Enjoy a reflexology or massage therapy session. Both can gently push fluids along their lymph vessel path, flushing out metabolic waste and boosting the immune system. And, of course, both can help us relax and recover from stress.

Do dry brushing at home. Using a soft, natural bristle brush to stimulate the lymph vessels just under the skin can do wonders for your immune system. Some people like to do this every day before they shower as part of their routine hygiene discipline. There is a specific technique to use; contact me if you’d like a video about it.

Sweat! Find a spa that offers infrared sauna sessions. The heat penetrates more deeply, and you can sweat out a lot of toxins for a real immune boost! Always shower after to wash away the “dirty” perspiration and walk away feeling super refreshed. (Always check with your doctor first to make sure there’s no medical reason to avoid raising your body temperature this way.)

Hydrate! Different experts recommend different amounts of water to drink each day, from simply choosing water every time you naturally feel thirsty, to shooting for a specific target up to half the number of ounces as your body weight in pounds (so 80 ounces per day if you weigh 160 pounds, for example). Whichever recommendation seems right to you, there’s no question that we are comprised of mostly water, and our bodies need hydration as much as they need food and rest to stay healthy.

girl jumping on the beach

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Give all the Love You Can

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I recently met a woman who was born and raised in a not-so-prosperous part of Mexico. To her credit, she went to a state-funded university and earned a law degree.

Her career path led her to practice some form of immigration law. She didn’t like it. The other lawyers were conservative and competitive, judgmental of each other to the point that she felt she had to look a certain way, act a certain way. She tired of pushing papers around and longed for something more fulfilling.

A friend encouraged her to use what little discretionary income she had to buy a camera and pursue her love of photography. She did, and she’s tremendously talented. As of our meeting, she was taking a break from her professional photographic work to create a program voluntarily teaching her craft to persons with deafness. She had reached a point where she needed to go back to work to earn funds to keep the program going.

She had gained some insights that made her reconsider whether she would enjoy practicing law again–perhaps now being better able to distance herself from the pettiness she saw in other lawyers, and do her work with more genuine intention. Her words were: to give people who need help all the love you can.

She smiled when she learned I was a massage therapist/reflexologist, and commented that this is exactly what I get to do every day: give people love.

I don’t think she was motivated to return to law to make more money. I think she realized, in the newfound maturity that her 30s provided, that it’s best to do the work of our highest calling and greatest good. With compassion. With love. For her, maybe that will be photography, or maybe it will be practicing law but keeping her free program going for people with disabilities.

I feel blessed every day to have the opportunity to do work that is my highest calling and allows me to give people love. It’s so tremendously rewarding! What a blessing, too, to connect with this compassionate young woman on a seemingly random snorkeling adventure that she could scarcely afford, but went with a more affluent friend who just happened to be visiting for the weekend. Sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of the gifts we might otherwise take for granted.

So whether it’s in your professional life, a hobby you feel passionate about sharing, or in meeting a stranger, I wholeheartedly encourage you to give all the love you can. I predict you’ll receive it back many times over!

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Tips for Making New Healthy Habits

friends-walking

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, Web MD posted an article called “How to Make and Keep New Habits.”

These are not strikingly new ideas, but good reminders. Here’s my take on them:

1. Share your goals and your plan of action with someone. If your goal is exercise related, find a workout buddy. See if there’s a support group related to your healthy goal. Sharing your ideas makes it less scary and one step closer to reality, and having moral support helps keep us on track.

2. Quit one bad habit at a time. You might feel really motivated, but trying to “fix” several things at once can be overwhelming and set us up for failure. It takes time and energy to replace a bad habit with a good one, and to get used to doing it until it becomes second nature to us.

3. Let go of perfectionism—expect to slip up now and again. Everyone has setbacks! It does NOT mean we’re failures. We must forgive ourselves for being human, learn from our mistakes, get right back on the wagon, and keep moving forward.

4. Reward yourself along the way. This can actually help motivate us and make the journey fun! Just don’t reward yourself with food! Or with whatever your bad habit was. Go for experiences instead—such as a spa day, an outing like a movie (or going to a new farmers’ market!) with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or time in your favorite park.

5. Be flexible with your timetable. There’s no hard and fast rule about it taking three weeks to create a new habit. It might take longer, and that’s OK! We’ll get there.

6. State your goals in positive ways. Rather than say, “I’m gonna have to give up french fries and desserts,” (sounds like deprivation), try saying, “I’ll choose nutritious foods instead of empty calories, to support my health.” It might sound inconsequential, but it does make a difference!

7. Start small. If you can implement your new habit for just one day a week, it will give you confidence and help you increase the challenge incrementally until you reach your goal.

It’s always better to break tasks into manageable chunks. It can sound daunting to say, “I need to lose 50 pounds.” But could we shoot for losing a healthy 1/2 – 1 pound per week for 2 months? And then reassess and see about losing a few more?

I love a meme that popped up in my Facebook feed: “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.”

And then take the next one, and then the next. At least half of the people who make New Year’s resolutions have abandoned them six months later. If this is your year to make a change, make it! And don’t quit. You can do it!! I believe in you.

apple-at-farmers-market

Category : Blog &Health

Happy New Year!

I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season! All best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy New Year full of love and abundance.

pink-purple-tree-in-sunset

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Is It Better Today?

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I read an article recently about how to stay motivated to stick with long-term goals.

It can be daunting to think about the end result you wish to achieve, and if you’re not seeing (or appreciation) the incremental progress because the steps seem too small to matter, it’s easy to get discouraged.

So, this author recommended adopting this mantra: Is it better today?

His particular question was: is it better today than it was yesterday? He deliberately tried to keep it vague enough to use in any situation. Whether it’s a work goal or a weight loss goal, was your effort better today than the effort you made yesterday? Was the tiny step you took today a little better than the tiny step you took yesterday?

I like the idea, but I would change one thing. My question would it be: Is it better today than the day that you started?

Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight, or trying to eat healthier or work out more. It’s possible that you had a “bad” day today, right? So if you asked yourself: is it better today than it was yesterday, your answer could conceivably be “no.”

But if you look back to when you started, even if you had a “bad” day today, I bet if you asked yourself—is it better today than it was the day that I started?—the answer would be yes!

Even if you slipped up in your plan today, you’re still way better off than you would’ve been had you not started at all! You’ve probably lost some pounds that one “bad” day is not going to affect. You’re probably building muscle and burning fat—you probably have better endurance and more muscle definition than when you started. You’ve probably eaten far more vegetables and far less junk overall since you set out to do so—even if today was a “bad” day.

And the best part is that tomorrow can be even better! If today was a “bad” day, then for sure if tomorrow you ask yourself “Is it better today?” the answer will be yes!!

So try to remember if you’re feeling like you’ll never make it to the finish line, you are getting there. You are better off and further along today than you were when you started.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Old Years Absolutions

Are you making New Years Resolutions this year?

I think most people do make plans for the “new year.” Maybe flipping the calendar over to a crisp, fresh new year is a good time to start (or renew) our resolve to meet our goals.

But is January really a “blank” page? Don’t you already have some appointments set up? Aren’t most plans ongoing—such that January doesn’t really look all that different from December in terms of taking one step after the next in an effort to reach a desired outcome?

People all seem very busy to me. I see a lot of effects of stress in my office!! So maybe this year, instead of ADDING more things to do, maybe we can endeavor to subtract some things instead.

What baggage can we let go of?

Is there anything that’s no longer serving us—something blocking us from achieving the goals we already have—that we can offload?

Can we forgive ourselves for something (including not keeping last year’s resolutions!)? Is there something we can forgive others for? Can we let go of fear—maybe fear of failure? Or maybe fear of success! Can we let go of worry? Or any other mental or physical clutter?

Can we absolve ourselves of guilt or doubt or resentment or regret?

I have a feeling the resolutions are already there. This year, instead of being stuck in a repeating loop of not keeping resolutions made because of some arbitrary timetable, maybe we just need to free ourselves of whatever it is that’s holding us back.

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Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth