Events

Good Fun for a Good Cause!

YOU are cordially invited to attend the 10th Annual Bratini to help raise money for local cancer patients! It’s October 12th at the Guy Harvey Resort in St. Augustine Beach starting at 6:00 p.m.

If you’ve never been to this event, let me tell you how it works. Very artistic people create beautifully decorated bras—these bras truly are works of art.

The bras are modeled by great-looking young MEN! It’s a hoot!! This year the “fashion show” will be emceed by a talented female impersonator from Hamburger Mary’s—the incomparable Sondra Todd. Be prepared to laugh!!

Audience members bid on the bras in a live auction. The more martinis they drink, the more they seem to spend! The bras are theirs to keep—some might wear them as a costume, some display them in nice acrylic shadowbox frames.

The martinis are just $5 each, and their sponsors get to create a fancy concoction and make up a name for it. 

Meanwhile, there’s a silent auction with fabulous items to marvel at and bid on, delectable appetizers to nosh, and an oceanfront patio to enjoy!

I’m on the board of the sponsoring organization Artbreakers, and here’s how the founders explain why we raise these funds: 

“We want to be there for the patient, both financially and emotionally. Whether we are navigating patients through the system trying to find the right agency or doctor to get the care they need, transporting patients to chemotherapy sessions, giving financial support for doctor visits, utility bills or anything else that is needed, or counseling with families and patients prior to surgeries. We tell the patients and their families what to expect because we’ve been there.” – Artbreakers

This year there’s even an after-party. Buy your tickets before they sell out, online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bratini-tickets-48421102822

 

Category : Blog &Events

A Tale of Thanks Giving

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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.

 

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Category : Blog &Events &Personal Growth

Coming Soon!

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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: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Mermaids-Knot-Meghan-Richardson/dp/1936573156

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!!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-art-gift-show-tickets-28933474802

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: www.hhacu.vpweb.com 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

Ten Things I Learned From a Hurricane

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I probably should have evacuated.

My house on the north end of St. Augustine is in evacuation zone B, but literally a stone’s throw from the border of the mainland area that doesn’t ever have to evacuate.

Still, I had a total freak-out moment when it looked like we could have a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane. My house is not concrete block, it’s wood frame, and I don’t have storm shutters. Sure, it was built to the safety codes upgraded after Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida. But who knows if it could survive a Cat 5?

By the time the evacuation order was given for zone B, thousands and thousands of people from the coastal areas had already made plans to evacuate—from at least as far as Cocoa Beach to northern South Carolina. Hotel rooms were scarce, roads were clogged, gas stations were running out of fuel. It seemed more dangerous to leave than to stay. No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road in a hurricane!

So we stayed. And the house held together, and my nerves held together, barely. I learned some important lessons in my first close encounter with a hurricane, and here they are, in no particular order.

1. Preparedness is key. I wish we had stocked up on D batteries at the beginning of hurricane season. Because in the days leading up to the storm, everyone ran out. And it was stupid to have to go back to the stores every day for 3-4 days for supplies because we thought we had everything we needed, but then we realized we’d forgotten something else.

2. If push comes to shove and you have an actual breach in your structure, you can put stuff in plastic bags and stash it in your dishwasher—built-in waterproof safe! Also, you can use your wash machine as a “cooler” for as long as you can keep adding ice. It has a built-in drain!

3. Stuff is just stuff. What really matters when you think you could lose everything is your life and the lives of your family and loved ones. Being together with my family gave me much strength and reassurance.

4. We really do create more suffering for ourselves than is necessary. Leading up to the storm, while we still had power, I was watching news clips and social media updates on my computer. I understand that it is at times necessary to use fear tactics to get people to evacuate. But at some point, the sensationalism is just crazy-making.

It’s what led up to my freak-out moment. So many what ifs. What if we stay and the house blows apart around us? What if even a small part of the roof blows off—and not only is the house damaged, but the contents? What if I didn’t protect things enough? Should I have lifted everything up off the floor? Should I have covered everything with tarps? What if we really are without power for a long time—did I get enough food and water? What if my place of business is damaged—am I sure I have enough insurance?

I had to take a deep breath and talk myself off the ledge. I asked myself: what if everything is OK? What would THAT look like?

And I realized that if I screened out the noise of worst-case-scenario speculation and looked instead at real data—such as wunderground (weather underground), which is a compilation of weather sites and is JUST DATA with no hyperbole attached—the prediction wasn’t so dire.

In fact, as the hours progressed, the forecast improved. The top wind speeds went from 110+ mph (as suggested by panicky lay persons), to in the 80s, to 75, to 68, to 62 mph. Not quite so scary.

We put the brace on the garage door. We created a couple of small window-free zones in case we needed them. We piled all the food, water, important documents and storm supplies on the kitchen table so we could grab them in a hurry. There was nothing more we could do, and worrying about it wouldn’t help.

Worrying never really helps anything, does it? It just compounds our problems and creates unnecessary suffering. I just kept visualizing everything being OK. And in the end, it was.

5. It’s very strange to be in the midst of a disaster and not be able to know what’s going on because you’ve lost power and internet and cell phone service.

6. I made a smart decision when I bought my house (from my own perspective, anyway) to live a good distance away from any body of water. As much as it is lovely to live close to the beach or a riverfront, it is also risky. Flooding is smelly, nasty, filthy business.

7. We probably should all have our trees assessed and groomed by professionals every year. Even though the winds of this storm weren’t nearly as strong as they could have been, a lot of trees toppled. Some took down power lines. Some crushed cars or buildings. Trees and tree limbs reach a point where they are just ready to go, and it probably wouldn’t be that hard to have them trimmed up and thinned out before storm season starts.

8. It was evident that the county, city, state and beyond had rehearsed for this. Crews came in immediately after the storm and started moving obstacles and restoring power. The National Guard rolled in to help secure areas from looters. A central public field was set up for vehicles including campers for responders to spend the night. Shelters were opened, information was disseminated, roads and buildings were systematically inspected for safety. I have never seen a more well-coordinated effort to help people and get a whole town back up and running.

9. There is so much goodness in people! Sometimes people get angry and lose their patience when stressed, and there are always going to be looters and scammers preying on the vulnerable. But love outweighs ugliness. People reached out to check on each other. People offered to help—neighbors, friends, even strangers. There were literally people driving around to see who needed help, offering assistance to folks they didn’t even know. It’s so important for those of us who escaped damage to help those who need it.

Helpers even came in from out of town. One friend, still displaced from Hurricane Hermine, brought a whole crew in from Cedar Key to help for a few days. Other friends had grown children visiting who, once they had finished helping their own parents, were willing to stay on to help anyone else who needed it.

One food truck offered to cook up their stored food and give it away, thinking that they would provide a free service only for a few hours until supplies ran out. But then more and more people kept coming, donating food to be prepared and given away! This went on for at least 10 hours, and then started up again the next day.

One group sprang quickly into action to organize a fundraiser for first-responders who had themselves lost their homes to disaster.

The stories go on and on. Politics and petty things that usually divide us were forgotten. People’s kindness is astonishing. I saw one fortunate business owner—who survived unscathed—offer to pay the next month’s rent for the less fortunate business next door who flooded and would need some time to recover.

My faith in humanity has been restored.

10. Anticipating the storm, weathering the storm, and then the very next day dealing with a terrifying pet emergency (which, I’m very happy to report, looks like it’s going to have a happy ending), was an emotional roller coaster ride that left me as drained as if I had battled a bad case of influenza. But the best feeling of all (right up there with relief!) is gratitude.

I’m grateful that we made it through the storm with no loss of life, no serious injuries, much less destruction of property than we could have had, great plans that were executed to perfection by the authorities, bonds between neighbors strengthened, hope and determination restored.

I know soon we’ll all “get back to normal,” and we’ll start bickering over nonsense again, but for now, I’m grateful for all the good things that have come out of this storm.

I’ve heard a few people complain about it taking too long to restore electricity, or how city officials aren’t doing everything exactly right (if there is room for improvement, could we just work on that rather than gripe about it?). I reminded one guy that the storm could have been worse. And he said, yea but it could have been better!

But focusing on the negative is a choice, and I’m not willing to go there with the complainers. I choose gratitude.

Category : Blog &Events