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.


Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Is It Better Today?


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.


Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Thinking Vs. Feeling

In a conversation the other day, a gentleman reminded me of something I learned from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now.”

This particular conversation had to do with food choices—specifically, that this gentleman had purchased a delicious doughnut during a weak moment, but after a quick, clear-headed reflection on his weight loss goals, he ultimately decided to throw away 50% of the delicacy and enjoy eating just half of it.

But the technique he used was a really good one, and is applicable to any situation in life. It’s along the lines of “act, don’t react.”

He described imagining himself up on a balcony, literally looking down on himself with his coffee and doughnut. Up on the balcony, he just observes without emotion. He allows his higher-thinking self to assess the situation.

The part of him sitting with the doughnut was caught up in the drama of WANTING the pleasure of indulging. Don’t we all have that one voice in our head that cries out for instant gratification?

But we have other voices in our head, too, constantly. One is always the voice of reason.

One is the inner critic, insisting on negative self-talk. One is the inner cheerleader, encouraging us as we go.

One voice is the judge, continuously making judgments. Sometimes we really need that voice to save us from doing something regrettable! Other times, it’s entirely appropriate to shut that voice down.

I like thinking about the voice of the observer, the one who notices without judgment. Like when I’m trying to meditate, and focus on my breath, and some random thought pops into my head. I just notice it. Mm hmm, that’s me having a thought. Not good timing, thought! Just float on by now, and I’ll revisit you later. Breathe……

Or when I’m tempted to eat some empty calories like a doughnut. I can step back (or up to “the balcony”) and think, Mm hmm, that’s my inner three-year-old demanding gratification. I acknowledge that she wants some attention. What else would help her feel nurtured? Does she really “need” a doughnut? Or does she really need a hug? A bubble bath? An adventure? Someone to talk with to sort something out?

Oh, that’s the inquisitive voice!

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself about getting out of exercise? I’m just not feeling it today. I don’t have time. I’m really tired. I think a little headache is coming on.

Try stepping back and observing. What is really going on? What are you feeling? (I feel like skipping it today!) What are you thinking? (I think it would be a good idea for me to get my heart rate up, and then I think I will feel a lot better afterward. In fact, I think I’ll feel proud of myself! And that’s a really good feeling! I can do this!!)

The great news is that we get to decide which voice in our head to listen to. We get to climb up to the balcony and observe before we make a decision. We don’t have to “react” to the emotion. (This is true, too, for confrontations—in person and on social media!)

I was so happy to have this reminder the other day. I’ve been “thinking” about it a lot ever since!


Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

A Tale of Thanks Giving


A few days before Thanksgiving, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that food and volunteers were needed for a massive feast being served for free on Thanksgiving Day for anyone in need—the homeless, the struggling, the folks who lost their homes to Hurricane Matthew and have no where to cook or gather.

I called the event organizer and volunteered to bring a dish and help serve or wipe down tables, or pick up trash or whatever was needed. I decided to bring a deli-style macaroni salad that didn’t need to be reheated to be enjoyed.

On Wednesday, in between clients, I went grocery shopping for supplies. That evening, before and after dinner with friends, I boiled macaroni and chopped fresh celery, peppers, parsley and a summer sausage, made the dressing and tossed it all together before I went to bed. (Everyone knows these things taste better if they “meld” overnight!)

The set-up started at 7 am! On a holiday!! I had promised to arrive by 10:30 to help with any last-minute preparations and deliver my big tray of food, as the luncheon was scheduled to begin at 11:00. A friend gave me a ride to the site—a greenspace downtown that had been borrowed with permission from the school board—so that I wouldn’t have to lug a giant, heavy aluminum foil tray across town from public parking.

Here’s what I found when I arrived:

A dozen or more tables and chairs set up under the trees—all covered with Thanksgiving themed tablecloths with a basket of bread or crackers in the center—and rows and rows of folding chairs beyond the tables.

Musicians and sound system ready to entertain.

Serving tables under tents LOADED with food, with holders and sterno warmers and tray after tray after tray of hot food—turkeys and hams and all the sides, and more sides, and breads and baked goods like pies and brownies and cookies—and even more food stored on tables behind the main serving tables. And helpers lined up behind the serving tables, with gloved hands and smiling faces. I recognized some serial volunteers I had seen at other events in our community—cultural events sponsored by Romanza, for example, or fund raisers for cancer. We have many kind-hearted, service-minded people in our town!

At first there were more helpers than there were people wanting to partake. The main event organizer thanked everyone for coming, a minister said grace, and then the few people who were there to eat lined up peacefully and started through the line.

Soon more people came. Many went through the line twice—once to eat then and there, and once to take something home to eat later or to share with someone unable to make it. Volunteers had brought blankets and socks and bags of canned goods that people could take with them as needed.

One woman shared her story with me as she came through the line. She had lost everything except some clothes to Hurricane Matthew. She couldn’t find a place to rent, so she was staying in a hotel that had cost her $3,000 so far—which she could ill afford. She had to give up her beloved dog. It was overwhelming. She looked drained and said she was just fixing a plate to take with her to work. She said at times she felt like just giving up. I asked if I could give her a hug, and she accepted. I encouraged her don’t give up—hang in there, it will get better! I hoped I was telling her the truth; that things really would get better for her.

As I looked out over the grateful feasters, it occurred to me that many of these people would not be sitting together at a shared table under any other circumstance. How nice, I thought, that people could find common ground and maybe even make a new friend in the face of tragedy and hardship.

I had a long talk with one of the event organizers, who looked exhausted yet shared the pride he felt in working at the commercial kitchen at the St. Francis house, cooking, slicing and shredding turkey after turkey, and ham after ham. I saw the other main event organizer dabbing at her eyes a lot as she thanked volunteer after volunteer for coming, for bringing food to share, for helping.

It had seemed at first like there was SO much food, but just before noon, I noticed that the first round was being depleted, and the stock from behind the serving table was being pulled forward. “I don’t know if they’re going to be able to serve until 2:00 as planned,” I was thinking to myself. And just then, just exactly as I was having that thought, a van pulled up and a woman wearing oven mitts walked up to the tents with two big trays of food and asked, “Where can I set these? They’re super hot!” And the stock was at least partially replenished.

Two things (at least!) struck me about this particular feast. First, it took just two weeks to pull it together! And volunteers came from all over town, like me, just wanting to help. People focusing on others rather than their own Thanksgiving meal. What a great community we live in! It really was kind of unbelievable how much food was prepared, how many tables and chairs and food warmers were somehow collected and employed, how many were willing to give of their time and talents on a holiday, on short notice.

The other thing that struck me is how the event organizers just sort of put an idea out into the universe, and trusted. It really was pretty loose in a pot-luck sort of way—whoever could bring food brought food, and whoever needed to eat showed up to eat, and it all just sort of worked itself out. No one micro-managed. When I arrived at 10:30, people were adding to the serving tables on the fly—put main course here, side dish there, we need one more volunteer to serve water/tea over there. It was controlled chaos, a lot of “we don’t know where to set this, we might need one more table here,” and… poof! Another folding table appeared.

It was nothing short of a miracle. A generous, glorious, selfless miracle. Even the weather was picture-perfect. And remember—there were live musicians serenading people as they worked and ate! It couldn’t have been more pleasant.

I left before it was over. But I am truly thankful to have been a part of it, to have witnessed the very best in people. People willing to give, and people willing to receive. People happy to hang out with folks they probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to hang out with ordinarily.

But this was no ordinary day. It was an extraordinary day set aside to appreciate our abundance—of food, kindness, gratitude and fellowship.



Category : Blog &Events &Personal Growth

Gratitude Every Day


Isn’t it wonderful that we set aside a holiday to gather together with loved ones, and feast and relax and reflect on giving thanks?

While overindulging on Thanksgiving may not be the healthiest thing for us, it turns out that feeling grateful really is good for our health! Study after study shows that our attitude affects our health just as much as—or maybe even more than—our habits do.

Every year it seems that people enjoy getting in the “holiday spirit,” and we all express how much we wish that spirit could last throughout the year.

Well, maybe it can! At least prioritizing our focus on gratitude is something that can be practiced all year. Here are seven tips for practicing gratitude every day:

Keep a Gratitude Journal. For whatever reason(s), we tend to focus on what goes wrong in life. The simple act of committing to paper all the little, commonplace things we’re thankful for can help us focus on the positive. Spending just a few minutes each day counting our blessings helps shift us out of stressed out, bummed out mode into a happier, healthier state of mind. Even writing every other day is good!

Acknowledge Negative Feelings, Too. While focusing on gratitude does increase feelings of wellbeing, it’s not all about avoiding the “bad” stuff in an effort to stay optimistic 100% of the time. Setbacks are a part of life, and negative experiences and emotions need to be dealt with and processed. In fact, once we get through a hard time, looking back on how we felt and how we handled that part of our journey can actually help us feel more grateful for our current situation!

“Shower the People You Love with Love” (a la James Taylor). Having a sense of connection with others is one of the key ingredients of good health. Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, says that “Gratitude really helps us connect to other people. It actually strengthens relationships, and relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and coping with stress.” He says gratitude, more than any other, is the emotion of friendship.

 When we express appreciation for loved ones, it creates closeness as we allow them to see how much we value them. And it’s a non-vicious cycle, because when others let us know how much they value us, it increases our happiness and gratitude!

Use Social Media Wisely. Thankful people use social media networks mindfully. Dr. Emmons says those who practice gratitude “use whatever cues exist in everyday environments to trigger grateful thoughts. Pictures and information on social media” are very instruments to do so. In fact, research has found that positive images on social media spread faster than negative messages do! 

Of course, it’s very easy to get sucked in to the drama and negative noise. So, Emmons suggests creating a file of uplifting posts that can trigger happy feelings when you need help feeling grateful. We can also use social media networks to reach out to supportive friends when we need to connect.

Remember Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. To practice gratitude every day, it’s important to acknowledge every act of kindness, no matter how small—and pay it forward. Even just a smile or a compliment from you can make someone’s day. And remembering to be thankful for a smile or compliment can make your day.

One study showed that “everyday” gratitude gave romantic relationships a better chance for success, because “daily gratitude interactions” increased the sense of connection and overall satisfaction for both women and men. (It’s pretty nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? It also feels nice to be appreciative!)

Volunteer. It seems it truly is better to give than to receive. Research shows that volunteering can result in lessening depression and increasing feelings of wellbeing. This might be because service to others helps us get in touch with our own inner spirituality, and we feel grateful for the experience. Interestingly, giving helps people feel more gratitude than receiving.

Exercise. In a symbiotic cycle, people who practice gratitude tend to exercise more (and smoke and abuse alcohol less), and because exercise clears our mind and reduces stress, it sets us up to experience more gratitude. Grateful people who exercise have healthier minds and bodies!

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. And if you enjoy a day of thanks with loved ones, compliments, exercise and so on, I hope it inspires you to consider practicing gratitude every day.

Source: “7 Habits of Grateful People” by Lindsay Holmes on Huffington Post.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Healing Power of Awe


Imagine the sense of wonder you feel when you see something like Niagra Falls for the first time, or feel a newborn baby wrap her tiny hand around one of your fingers, or see a truly astonishing human feat of bravery, or compassion, or athletic or artistic perfection.

Awe is an emotion that has not gotten much attention. (The “big six” emotions that, until recently, have been scientifically studied the most are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise.)

Maybe that’s because awe is sort of difficult to pinpoint and define, or maybe it’s because it was considered to be a luxury item—nice to have, but not as accessible as the common day feelings of fear and happy and sad and mad.

But in 2013, the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab started “Project Awe,” a three-year research project that is finding out how awe is just as basic and important to our existence as the other emotions. In fact, awe is proving to be vital to our health and happiness!

How? First, awe brings us fully into the present moment. Where fear or excitement trip our “fight of flight” response and all the stress hormones that come with it, awe brings us into an attentive state of stillness and appreciation. Studies show that this emotional state makes us more receptive to details and new information, and it causes people to act more generously and ethically.

Second, awe can reduce the level of cytokines, a marker of inflammation that is linked to depression. Many studies are showing that being wowed by the beauty in nature lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system.

And it doesn’t even have to be a major “wow” moment. Studies are showing that awe IS accessible to all of us, and that the benefits are felt even after “small” transformative moments—looking up at a marvelous starry sky or at the Grand Canyon, feeling genuinely touched by the generosity of others, or hearing a moving piece of music.

Third, awe inspires a feeling of connectedness. We get the sense that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.

These ideas are shared in an article called “Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness,” by Paula Spencer Scott (“Parade” Magazine, October 9, 2016).

Here are six things Scott suggests we can do to find awe in everyday life:
Step away from our devices and go outside—gaze at the sky!
Visit a local, state or national park.
Recall a time you felt wonder—describe it to a friend or write about it.
Visit a museum or planetarium.
Get up early to watch the sun rise.
Listen to amazing music, like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or a live version of Santana’s “Europa.” Or whatever inspires you, of course!

Much has been written about the benefits of being in nature. I know when I hike or kayak with others, we always comment on the wonder of seeing a majestic bird or breeching dolphin. Haven’t you ever gazed at the beautiful patterns of light and shadows in the trees, or the sparkle of sunlight on water, or taken in a deep breath filled with earthy scents on a not-too-hot breezy day, and just marveled at the glory of nature?

In his article “What Science Taught Me About Compassion, Gratitude and Awe,” Dacher Keltner expands on that:

“What we know is that awe really happens when you transcend the human scale, big or small, and when you’re around things that challenge your current knowledge structures. You go, ‘Oh, I didn’t imagine trees could be so big, or a baby could be so funny, or this person could be so generous, or music could sound like that.’

“We know … that just brief experiences of awe as short as a minute or two [like walking out in the woods] make you more generous, make you more humble, make you more empathetic, make you better at science. We have findings showing that it actually calms down the branch of your immune system called the cytokine system. The cytokine response is the inflammation response, when cells attack pathogens in your body and you feel like you have the flu. It’s good in the short term if you have toxins in your body, but if your cytokine system is always active, it is very bad news for human health. Awe quiets down that system, which is really incredible.”

How about that—awe is incredible!

We know stress is bad for us, and awe is kind of like a switch that can flip us out of fight-or-flight mode and into mindful awareness of something bigger than ourselves. And now we know we can actually cultivate a feeling of awe.

Here’s a link to Keltner’s whole article if you’d like to read more:

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Coming Soon!


November is shaping up to be a busy month for Holistic Massage & Reflexology!

Art & Gift Show 11/19
As you probably know, in addition to providing massage therapy and reflexology, I also make beaded jewelry. And our resident nutritionist Amanda Perrin makes wonderful miniature tea sets, whimsical castles and huts, dollhouse accessories, and whole dioramas in walnut shells! Together with local artist and author Tina Verduzco, we’re having an art and gift show on Saturday, November 19 from 10-5.

Tina co-authored “Storm and the Mermaid’s Knot” with Meghan Richardson, and will have copies for sale. And if we’re lucky, she’ll also bring a few of her inspired sculptural pieces. Here’s a link for more information about her beautiful novel:

Below is a link with more information about the art and gift show. If it’s a nice day, the Pink Pineapple Boutique might just have a sidewalk sale for us that day. I will donate 10% of my jewelry sales to local hurricane recovery efforts. Mark your calendars for this fabulous day of shopping for unique items, supporting local artists and hurricane survivors!!

Acupuncture to Be Offered on Thursdays!
I am very excited to announce that Michele Rehrer, AP, RM will be providing acupuncture in the office on Thursdays in the very near future. Michele is a Florida board certified licensed Acupuncture Physician. She graduated from Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine in Gainesville, FL. She is a Reiki Master and a Qigong instructor.

From her website: “Michele believes that acupuncture gently encourages the body to regain balance by looking at the whole person and gets to the root cause of the disharmony. Michele is focused on providing quality holistic healthcare with the highest level of professionalism and patient satisfaction. It is her philosophy that in order for every patient to achieve optimal wellness, they must be heard. She strives for excellence in listening, gentle needling technique, and encourages patient involvement in their journey to wellness.”

I have been seeing Michele for several months for a variety of issues, and I can highly recommend her skills and encouraging, gentle demeanor. For more information, visit her website: To make an appointment, contact Michele at 352-682-6206.

Foot Reflexology Workshop starting 11/29
Beginning in April, I embarked on a teacher training program in reflexology with my mentor, and the founder and director of the Academy of Ancient Reflexology, Karen Ball. As my final student teaching project, I’ll be offering a full workshop in foot reflexology on four evenings: 11/29, 12/1, 12/6 and 12/8. This workshop is not for credit, but is for me to gain experience teaching. It will be held at my office from 5-9 each evening. The cost is only $25, and it’s very important that students be committed to attending every session in its entirety.

In this workshop, students will learn a little about the history of reflexology, how reflexology works and what conditions it helps, when reflexology is not appropriate, foot anatomy and common foot ailments, the location of more than 30 reflex points/areas in the feet, and how to perform relaxation and reflexology techniques. At the end of the class, students will be able to perform a complete foot reflexology session for the purposes of relaxation. In the state of Florida, you will not be able to provide reflexology for compensation without additional licensing, but you can appropriately and effectively work on friends, family, neighbors and loved ones—and yourself!

The only prerequisites are short fingernails, clean feet, and a willingness to touch others’ feet and have your feet worked on. Class size is limited—if you’re interested, please contact me at 904-377-6696.

Category : Blog &Events &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

The Power of Nature In the Fall


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
— Albert Camus

In northeast Florida, fall doesn’t necessarily begin on the autumnal equinox. At least, not a fall that includes cooler weather and jaw-dropping leaf colors.

This year, like most years, the end of September still felt an awful lot like summer, and Hurricane Matthew reminded us in early October that it was still storm season and the water temperature, like the air temperature, was still very warm.

But by the end of October, the daylight hours grow distinctly shorter, and the air does, to my great delight, finally get drier and cooler.

We still must be patient a bit longer for any glimpse of colorful autumn leaves, but let’s take advantage of this reprieve from the heat to get outside and be happily active and mindful. Here are just a few good reasons to revel in nature this time of year:

Being in nature (even a gentle walk with plenty of time for deep breaths and observation) can improve our mood, including increased self-esteem and feelings of vitality.
Being outside actually inspires us to move more, which boosts cardiovascular health and can lower blood pressure. I know I feel better about exercising outside when it’s not oppressively hot, and my dog acts spunkier, too!
The equinox can remind us to balance light with dark. I don’t know about you, but I love the long days of summer and how energized I feel by the extra hours of daylight. Sometimes I dread the coming winter, the shorter days, and how I feel like I’m ready for bed as soon as it gets dark! But maybe this is not a bad thing. We can learn to love the darkness, embrace rest if we need extra rest, and allow time for ideas and plans to germinate for the spring. Perhaps this year I can learn to love the shorter days as much as I love their longer counterparts.
Autumn leaves remind us to let go. Maybe it’s time to relinquish anything that is no longer working for us, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical. Fall is a great time for cleaning house and giving unwanted items to charity. It can be a great time to give our time and talents to others as well! There have been so many in our community helping those who did not fare well in the hurricane. Even in a calm year, younger, stronger neighbors can help their elders with raking leaves or sprucing up a lawn. I know of knitters who make scarves this time of year, and when cold weather approaches they put the scarves somewhere in nature so that those who are homeless will find them and have an extra layer of warmth.
Fall is a great reminder of the impermanence of things. Some plants sprout in the spring, thrive in the summer, and die back in the fall. Other things come to life in the fall, and that is the cyclical nature of nature. As we watch butterflies and hummingbirds leave and leaves fall on to the ground and decay, we are reminded of the beauty and awe of life, and how important it is to cherish each beautiful moment while we are living it.

Category : Blog

A Reflexology Demo

If you’ve never experienced foot reflexology before, you can view a sample here! It’s a link to a video that shows yours truly doing a demonstration for this year’s Academy of Ancient Reflexology’s certification students.

I’m showing them a protocol I developed to perform an abbreviated session—one whole foot is covered thoroughly in just 15 minutes. It’s a good practice to be able to work on both feet in their entirety in 30 minutes. Sometimes a shorter session is appropriate; for example, for a baby, an elderly or medically fragile person. Sometimes people who’ve never had reflexology just want to try a short session without committing to an hour (though I HIGHLY recommend giving yourself more time to reap the full benefits of deep relaxation and therapeutic touch). Many of my clients have added a half-hour reflexology session to precede their hour massage.

Don’t worry, no one expects you to watch the whole video! But if you’re curious, you can see how reflexology is done: relaxation techniques, thumb walking and finger walking. Slow, rhythmic, alternating pressure engages the part of our nervous system that’s responsible for calming things down. The recipient was VERY relaxed and feeling good after just thirty minutes.

Enjoy, and let me know if you’d like to try reflexology for yourself! I am also certified in hand reflexology, and I have a hot paraffin treatment for hands that’s terrific for arthritic joints and the aches that comes from overuse.


Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology