Serenity Savers

Yesterday I went into my massage sanctuary and I routinely went around the room, turning things on. The lamp by the door, the fountain in the corner…. I said the fountain in the corner. Why don’t I hear the water? What HAPPENED to my fountain!! The trickling of the water was my favorite aspect in the room. I received many compliments on it. I found it soothing and it really helped me get into the “zone.” Apparently, I forgot to turn off the fountain the night before and it burned out. I hadn’t had the fountain that long and so I doubt very many of my clients will even notice. I notice. I got to thinking about the importance of atmosphere in not only my massage sanctuary but in every aspect of my life. Adding elements to your life like  a fountain at the entrance of your home or some wind chimes outside the kitchen, maybe a plant or two ( if you have a green thumb,but if you are like me you might try fresh cut flowers!) A candle at your desk can help you stay calm. If you would like to get into the art of decorating for your sanity, try picking up a Feng Shui book. It becomes a great hobby and gives you something to direct your energy toward when everything else in your life feels out of control. If you are not the decorating type try contacting a professional. If you are looking for someone message me and I can find someone for you in the Wichita Falls Area. Until then remember, nothing is worth forsaking your serenity.


What About You? The Importance of Self Care

Sorry it’s been awhile guys! Spring time seems to bring about busyness and it is unfortunate because it is my favorite time of the year. Run, Run, Run. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep. Eat. Run, Run, Sleep….. and on it goes. I remember as a child having so much free time. I spent most of my days following my mother around telling her how bored I was. What I wouldn’t give to be bored today! After awhile she would send me outside to play. I can recall finding solace in drawing in the dirt, or collecting strange leaves or rocks, picking flowers (usually weeds, but they were all flowers to me.) I would take my fishin pole down to the pond and catch fish or ride my bike through the park, discovering new trails. Today, even when I have some time, I find it hard to just simply enjoy doing something that has absolutely no purposeful outcome. You know, something fun.Oddly enough in this selfishly ego driven society we do not put much emphasis on self-care. Instead we are praised for putting our needs last and accomplishing more, usually for someone else. Self-care comes in many forms but what it boils down to is taking time to discover what brings you joy.

When we think of self care we often have a feeling of guilt and we often compensate that guilt with busying our lives up with tasks that do not bring us joy. Like somehow if we do something we hate for 8 hours it makes us a better person. Our doctors and healthcare professionals remind us to stop and relax. But what does that mean? And wouldn’t that mean that I don’t care about my family? and ironically the people who are preaching to us to relax are the very ones who need to de stress from taking care of people. ( myself included!)

I have many clients that I teach me about self care.They have committed to themselves to take 30 minutes a week or 1 hour every other week to get a massage. Contrary to popular belief, when they take that time they actually acquire more energy to take care of others.

Other ways to take care of yourself is to learn the word “No.” As a friend of mine says,” No is a complete sentence.” I don’t have to explain my reasons and I have a right to decide not to do something!

Exercise is another way to take care of yourself and if you can get over the initial dread of going to the gym or putting on your sneakers you will find that it raises your endorphins and will quickly become your stress reliever!

There are a million ways to take care of yourself. The important part is to stop feeling so guilty about it. Ideally, you would do this everyday but if you can manage to do it once a week then I call it a win! Even if it is just playing in the dirt!

Magic Potion

Lavandula Angustifolia- sounds like a spell from Harry Potter! Lavender. I can’t tell you how many times a week I use lavender for relaxation and for it’s healing benefits.

In the kitchen most people reach a band aid and Neosporin and for the tree huggers they reach for their aloe vera plant when they receive a burn or cut. But if you have a brown thumb like me you might try reaching for the Lavender oil. Your cursing and whining will cease almost immediately when the soothing oil touches your skin . Lavender is known to be used “neat” meaning without dilution. That is how I use it but other authorities on therapeutic oils would recommend it be diluted especially if you have sensitive skin.

I’ve mentioned the benefits of lavender tea before: reducing insomnia, anxiety, and nervousness. I usually start my day before a big test with a little lavender and peppermint tea. Some say that it can help with headaches including migraines. Conversely, I have experienced headaches caused by lavender in LARGE doses. Moderation is key.

I have been known to use lavender on the edge of the sheets on my bed and massage table. You can also add a few drops to your hot bath water before bed. If you are crafty, you can make sleeping masks out of a mixture of rice and dried lavender blooms. Just sew three sides of a rectangle, alternate rice and lavender blooms, then hand sew the final side.

Lavender in it’s pure form is naturally more beneficial than the synthetic forms. Buying household cleaners with the name Lavender in it may not necessarily mean you will experience any benefits. In fact synthetics are more likely to cause negative side effects. One household cleaner that I like is Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products.

I have found one website for all you Texas lovers, called Texas Lavender. Check it out for unique gifts from Texas.

I haven’t tried cooking with lavender… yet. But I am open to any recipes you guys might have.

Mind Your Own Business…

Lets go ahead and start with a deep breath. Often my clients can hear me uttering these words as we begin their massage. The intention behind this is to encourage the client to focus on their breath and let go of outside distractions.

One of the most difficult parts of receiving a massage is turning off our minds and letting go of our attachments to the outside world. In fact one of the most difficult parts of living is detaching from things and people outside of ourselves.

Detachment: the act of disengaging. Ok. I kind of get that. So what is Disengaging? Looking through many online dictionaries it seems the definition of disengage is to free oneself or release attachment. That sounds pretty healthy. No one likes to be held down- right?

All right. Disengage from what? People, things and ideas and worst of all DESIRES!. Sounds like you would be a recluse then doesn’t it? Not exactly. Let’s break it down and see what it means to detach from each of the above.

People: We all have loved ones in our lives. People that we think we could never live without. People that we feel obligated to guide and help because of our close connection to them. There are people that we feel like we have the right to pry into their lives because “we’re soul mates,” or “because I care.” The act of detaching doesn’t mean that you stop caring about people, rather it means that you care about them enough to let them make their own decisions and discover their own journey, regardless of whether you think they are on the right path. When we do this we also develop more self love. We allow ourselves to make mistakes. By staying out of other peoples business other people will begin to stay out of yours. No one likes unsolicited advice. Wouldn’t it be nice to make a mistake and not have someone tell you they warned you or tell you how they would’ve done it better? Another aspect of detaching from the people in your lives is that you don’t have to take what other people say personally. A good friend of mine always reminds me that in the phrase ” to take offense” it suggests that you are taking an action and as with all action you can choose not to take it. So set the offense down and walk away. How important is it anyway? Spiritually speaking by attaching ourselves to other people poses a hindrance to ones connection to a higher power. How can you hear God when all your doing is worrying about someone else?

Things: This is something most of us are familiar with. The inability to get rid of something because of sentimental value or fear of needing it in the future. A pivotal point for me in learning detachment was a few years ago when I was in San Diego. I was stuck with no money and no car and I needed to get back to Texas ( Who doesn’t?!) I had an apartment full of things and I couldn’t exactly fit it on a plane and I could only afford so much room in an ABF truck. I was forced to look at my things, things that I have been holding onto my whole life, and decide what was crucial and what wasn’t. At first it was painful to watch my memories be tossed away , but I soon realized that the memories didn’t leave me when I threw away my things. I also began to view my obsession with saving things as a way of saying that my higher power or the universe wasn’t capable of providing for me when I needed something. I knew that wasn’t true.

Ideas: We all come across ideologies that we disagree with. People with strong opinions about controversial issues, corporations with questionable motives , political figures with radical notions. We can’t get away from the ideas of other people or groups of people, but we don’t have to carry our resentment or opposition to these ideas. We can acknowledge them and  let them be. Of course their are times when we need to take a stand for issues but we don’t have to let it eat us to our core.

Desires:We all have them. Their harmless right? Everyone should want more and work hard to get it right? Um. Sort of. Many if not all religions encourage you not to covet or lust. But we all do don’t we? Whether it’s that cool necklace or a million dollar home with the jacuzzi and outdoor kitchen, we lust after things everyday. But do we ever think about whether or not it is detrimental to our spiritual health? When we tie ourselves to what we do not have we are focusing on lacking rather than abundance. We tend to attract what we think about. So when it comes to desires it’s one thing to desire something and then let it go. It is another to become obsessed with an idea and let it consume you. When there is something that I desire I try to practice imagining exactly what it would feel like to have this object and then I let it go. Rather than thinking about what you do not have imagine what you could have ( especially spiritual freedom.)

Often times when we are told to detach we associate it with being aloof and not caring. I believe quite the opposite is true. The art of detaching focuses more on attaching to yourself and if you choose, a higher power,  giving others the  dignity to make their own lives. Excessive worry over things outside of ourselves has never led to a resolution of said problems. In fact by attaching ourselves to our problems we often miss the obvious solutions.

Detachment can be found in every religion. There are several verses in the Bible that tells us to let go of our worldly possessions and attach ourselves to the holy spirit.

Buddhism refers to this as non-attachment. I think this is a great word to describe what we are trying to achieve.

The TAO TE CHING by Lao Tzu (Chapter 44. Contentment) is translated as follows:

Health or reputation: which is held dearer?
Health or possessions: which has more worth?
Profit or loss: which is more troublesome?

Great love incurs great expense,
And great riches incur great fear,
But contentment comes at no cost;
Who knows when to stop
Does not continue into danger,
And so may long endure.

( , Feb 22 2011)

Today as I pulled into a parking space, a few minutes before my appointment, my Ipod began to play a relaxing song, one I often use for meditation. I decided to take a few moments to tune into myself. I noticed how I judged people that were walking by. I decided to practice acceptance. As each person walked by I imagined them as a spirit and I said to myself, they are on a spiritual journey. The more I did this the less I judged and the more love I felt for people I didn’t even know. I felt detached from my own ego and judgements. I felt free to be what was natural to me. Love. I realized that you can have detachment without acceptance, but you can’t have detachment with love without accepting people, things, and ideas as they are.

Your massage therapy session is a perfect opportunity to practice detaching from our fears and worries and from our desires and connections to the material world. It is a time to allow acceptance. You can start by allowing acceptance of your body and then detaching from any negative attitudes you have about it. It is a time to focus on you.

photo by goldsaint

Masseuse Vs Massage Therapist

The other day a new client asked me, ” So how long have you been a masseuse?” My skin crawled. I replied,” I have been a massage therapist for 6 years.” “Oh.” they replied,” is that the proper term?” – I stopped and thought for a minute. Why do I let the term masseuse irritate me. I suppose somewhere along the lines I began to associate masseuse with prostitution. Something I do not want associated with myself. But does the word masseuse really mean prostitution? I began to rethink my position on this stereotype  and began to wonder about how the history of the word masseuse has evolved and why people continue to use it today. According to Websters dictionary it simply means a woman who practices massage. But then I stumbled upon the Wikipedia article about Massage. It goes on to say that because sexual or explicit advertising is prohibited in the U.S. many  prostitutes will advertise as “masseuse.” Hence, Massage Therapist. In an effort to legitimize the profession and spread the benefits, not STD’s, we have taken to the term Massage Therapist. It has been an uphill battle for us to take this practice back. We have spent decades educating the public about the benefits of massage and much has been done in legislation to help eliminate these vulgar shops.

As a social work student, what alarms me and sickens me to my core is the thought of human trafficking. If you think that human trafficking is a thing of the past or that it doesn’t happen in this country then you may want to do a quick google of the term. If you take the time to visit and type in the word massage you will see that we are still fighting this seemingly endless battle. Another thing you will notice is that these places that house this kind of slavery are called “massage parlors” – this is another phrase I take offense too but hear often.

As massage therapist the only thing we can do to combat this kind of vulgar association is through education and ethics. I have met many massage therapists who will tell their clients out right that they do not participate in sexual misconduct and that innuendoes will not be tolerated.

So back to my original situation. Did I become defensive when I was asked how long I had been a masseuse, maybe a little. But I didn’t have to lecture the client. By simply educating them on the why I differentiate myself from the seemingly harmless “masseuse” I have not only legitimized my practice but brought to the attention of my client that human trafficking of women and children still exist. Is it my clients fault for not knowing? Absolutely not, but it is a perfect opportunity to talk about something that most people take lightly.

We have all heard the “happy ending” jokes, but have you ever taken a moment to think about why it’s so funny.. or rather why it’s not? We laugh about issues that we wish to not recognize. By making it a joke we keep this dark secret in the shadows and as long as it’s in the shadows, no one has to pay attention. If you take a moment to think about where this girl may have been stolen from or who she has to answer to you might be as disgusted as I am.

Keep Your Clothes On, If You Want To.

Often times before a massage I will ask if a person has received massage services before. If they answer yes, I will ask them how that experience was. Sometimes, it is not positive. Below is a list of the most common things I hear from clients and my response to them.

Pressure was too deep / or not deep enough:

I have heard this before and what I always tell my clients is that this is

their time. Don’t be afraid that you might offend someone by asking for more or less pressure. We are often appreciative of feed back.

Pressure was too deep/not deep enough even after requesting a change.

Unfortunately we often run into people who just don’t seem to listen, no matter what part of our lives they are in. As with any part of our lives it is up to us to not let these people ruin our experience. If you told them once, tell them again. And if they don’t listen, you may stop the session at any time. It is part of our jobs to be able to listen and respond to clients in an appropriate manner.

I felt sick the next day:

The reason this happens is because like a dam, constricted muscles tense up and restrict the flow of blood and lymph to other parts of our bodies. This causes our bodies to store up toxins and lactic acid. When you get a massage the dam is released and your blood and lymph is restored to its natural state and your body has an abundant amount of toxins to get eliminate. Drinking a lot of water before and after your massage will aid your body in this process and your chances of feeling sore or ill are low.

The therapist talked the whole time

This is the second worse thing I hear. To me when there is unwanted chatter from the therapist it is a sign of disrespect. I and most other massage therapist feel that your time on the table is sacred. We are there to aid you the process of relaxation or rehabilitation. We are not there to talk your ear off… unless you feel better talking then by all means chat away. If you have a therapist that talks to much you can simply ask them for a little time to think quietly ( to put it nicely) If they persist in chatting but you really enjoy their massage, try telling them before hand that though you enjoy your conversations you would like to be in silence today. Usually this will cure the situation but if not, you may have to find a new therapist.

After people get their first massage I often hear about all of the anxieties they had prior to coming to see me. I bet there are a lot of other people who feel the same way! Here are a few things I hear and my response to those who might feel the same way.

I don’t want to take my clothes off.

Great point and good news for you. You don’t have to. After awhile some therapist get pushy and insist you take off all or most of your clothes. Bottom line- undress to your level of comfort. If you asked to continue to remove your clothing simply insist this is what you are comfortable in. A good therapist will respect your privacy. I for one was quite modest when I first started with massage therapy. Especially around male therapists. After a few massages you begin to feel a lot more comfortable and if you wish to remove more clothing you can.

I am afraid I will do the wrong thing.

whether it’s getting on the table backwards or afraid we will take off too much clothing and the therapist will be offended, everyone has anxiety when they get their first massage. I did and in fact I wasn’t able to relax until after I left. Then I noticed the effects and I was amazed! As far as taking off too much clothing, you can’t. I have yet to meet a therapist who is offended by nudity, unless of course you decide to be completely nude and on top of the covers. For the most part, every therapist will ask a few questions about what’s bothering you and maybe some medical history. They will tell you to undress to your level of comfort and begin face down underneath the covers. I usually proceed to point out the obvious of where to put your head and feet. When you are nervous you will forget everything. Have no fear. We are kind, compassionate people for the most part and we will walk you through it!

I am afraid it will hurt

Back to the first point. This is your time. You paid for it. If the therapist is too deep just tell them. They will not be offended and they want you to enjoy your massage. After all, they want you to come back. Drink plenty of water before and after to avoid being sore tomorrow.

I am too fat/skinny or I have an ugly mole.

You name it , we’ve seen it. To be a massage therapist you must have compassion. We don’t care what your body looks like, we just want you to feel like the best you. We will not be judging you or laughing about you in the other room. We want you to embrace yourself as you are in this very moment. If you then decide you want to change who you are or what you look like, ask us for our advice. We are usually health enthusiast who might have some great tips. Bottom line. We have your best interest in mind. We love you and don’t even know you!

There are millions of other things that go through our clients minds.  If you have a comment or question that you want to ask a massage therapist, let me know and I will do my best to answer it.

photo taken in a small spa in Maui- wish I could remember the name.

Nirvana, TEAvana!

So tomorrow I will be the big 3-0. Time to put my big girl underoos on and start embracing life! For my birthday, my husband and I headed down to the Big D ( Dallas) and we met up with one of my brothers. I was shocked when he gave me my birthday present! I haven’t told him about my new tea obsession nor has he read my incredible blog. He gave me a blooming tea thermos with 2 flavors of tea from Teavana. I had downloaded their app recently just to get some tips on tea but I had never tried any of their stuff. Sometimes I think my family can read my mind! The two teas that I received were Peach Momotaro and Strawberry Misaki. I was incredibly excited about this gift and after trying it out with loose herbs, I went home and tried it with the blooming teas. I tried the Strawberry Misaki tonight. Here are some pics!

Strawberry Misaki Blooming Tea. Just added water.

The thermos is my new favorite tea utensil. It is double insulated and has a strainer in the top. It makes drinking tea easy to travel and let’s face it, you look superior carrying it! I’ve got some more blogs coming up that I can’t wait to share! Stay tuned!