The Mad Holiday Rush

I came across this YouTube video today and thought it was amusing as well as a great advertising tool. Black Friday … the “starting gun” of the mad holiday rush. Personally, I stay home because my husband works in the retail sector and he’s told me things that make me not want to be out in the madness. For instance, did you know that the items that are “on sale” at “bargain prices” are frequently marked UP for Black Friday? You could have gotten it cheaper last week! And that super-duper whatchamadoodle that’s cheaper than you’ve ever seen? It’s a piece of junk that will fall apart the first time you use it. The whole thing is psychological. It’s designed to trigger the “feeding frenzy gene” that makes you think you’re missing out on something if you don’t participate, and it squeezes every dime from your wallet.

Step away from the madness! Aunt Bertha can live without that rolling pin with the cute rooster handles. Uncle Bill will survive without the Christmas tree sweatshirt that lights up. They could probably both use a massage…wouldn’t a gift certificate be better?

But if you succumb to the thrill of the chase, there’s a perfect remedy for all the stress you’ve put yourself through. Schedule a massage after you enjoy this video. My contact information is on the contact page.

The Science Nazi

In the massage circles that I travel, there are two camps in the “natural healing” arena. The first camp is the “science based” camp in which all things have to be proven by scientific study and testing. The second camp is the “energy work” camp, in which it is believed that the energy from The Universe flows through the practitioner to heal the receiver. The energy workers believe that their work is just as powerful as the Scientific Method. In the science camp is one person I have dubbed The Science Nazi. She is adamantly against anything and everything that hasn’t been proven scientifically, and any time anyone even attempts to discuss anything else, she jumps in with her two cents’ worth and pummels the life out of the discussion.

For example, recent studies have shown that the theories we were taught in school — that massage flushes “toxins” from the muscles and drinking water after a massage will help flush them from the body — isn’t true. If anyone dares to even mention this, she’s all over them like white on rice, screaming that we need to stop saying that because it isn’t true!!! My philosophy is, “So what? Who cares if it isn’t strictly true? Massage does SOMETHING to help the body, even if we don’t understand exactly what that is, and a bottle of water after a massage just plain tastes good and doesn’t hurt.” I think the only way we will ever know exactly what is happening is to cut open the muscles and examine them while getting a massage. I don’t know anyone who would volunteer for THAT study! Do you?

As for the energy camp, I’m more of a logical, science-based kind of person. In school, I rolled my eyes in the energy classes. It seemed more like hocus-pocus sideshow medicine to me than anything else. It didn’t make sense to me that putting your hands over a persons third chakra could heal their toes. Or something like that. Studies that have been done can never reproduce the same results between different practitioners and receivers. Therefore, the science camp blows it off as invalid.

And yet …

I have personally experienced some amazing things when participating in some of these modalities.

I recently took a Cranial-Sacral class because I had several clients who thought I would be good at it because I have “good energy.” (Their words.) For homework, we had to work on a bunch of different people and take notes. With some of them, I struggled to feel anything. With others, I experienced some amazing things that were confirmed by the client afterward without any coaching from me.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the key to a successful “energy” session is to have a spiritual connection with the person. The practitioner needs to tune in to the receiver and the receiver needs to be fully open to receive. If either one is blocked by thoughts of doubt or their mind wanders to their personal problems, the connection just won’t happen and there will be no results. This is also probably the reason that this can’t be scientifically measured. No two connections between two people will ever be exactly the same as another two people. No two practitioners will feel the same thing on the same client.

And the Science Nazis will never “get it” because their minds won’t allow it.

Massage and PMS

This article was brought to my attention today. It’s in Massage Magazine and talks about a study that was done by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami medical school. The Touch Research Institute is an organization that specializes in studying the exact benefits of massage.

Massage Relieve Symptoms of PMSThis particular study focused on the effect massage had on the symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). The subjects received 30 minutes of treatment, with a specific number of areas worked in a specific order (in order to ensure consistency) twice a week for five weeks. Women were selected from specific medical practices, sharing the symptoms of a more severe form of PMS. They were randomly divided into two groups. One group received massage and the other group was taught relaxation techniques (breathing, muscle contraction, etc.). At the end of the study, the symptoms of PMS were significantly reduced in the massage group.

Now, while I recognized that not very many people get a massage twice a week, these results are still valid for the person who gets a massage on a regular basis, whether it be once a week, or once a month. It’s the regularity more than the frequency that determines the effectiveness of the treatment.

People ask me how often I recommend they come in. It varies from client to client. Generally speaking, once a month is the minimum I recommend. People who go longer than that usually experience a return to their “pre-relief condition,” and we have to start over from square one. People who come in at least that often start to accumulate the benefits of regular massage so that each treatment makes them feel better and better. For more severe symptoms, I might recommend once a week until we get on top of the problem.


Finding Peace

Are you looking for some peace in your life?

I am a list-maker. I have any number of electronic devices upon which to keep my lists, but I prefer pen and paper. There’s just something satisfying about writing things down and crossing them off. I imagine there’s a study somewhere in the universe (because they study EVERYTHING) proving that writing things down cements them in your mind better than clicking a few buttons on a tablet.

The problem with lists, though, is that they never, EVER end. EVER! Last week, I had the list whittled down to half a dozen tasks, plus three or four daily tasks, but when I woke up on Monday morning, I came up with about 20 more things that I wanted to take care of. Things for my business, things around the house, personal goals, etc., etc. At some point the feeling of accomplishing and being able to “catch up” turns into another stressor. Instead of getting things done in order to have time to sit back and enjoy some quiet time, you fill the quiet time with more things to put on the list. Instead of enjoying each task for it’s own sake, relishing the process of DOING, your mind is racing to the NEXT thing on the list in a race to see how many things you can cross off before you think of something else to add to the bottom.

To many things to do? Need to un-wind and de-stress?I even have “visit my friend” on the list! And instead of just visiting her for the fun of spending time with a nice person, it is now a CHORE. Something that has to be Crossed Off the List.

Sigh! All of this becomes “mind clutter.” I call it the “noise in my head.” My mind is so full of “stuff” that I really don’t have time to sit and be still. A time when I can relax my brain and turn off the world and allow my spirit to relax. It’s my personal opinion that everybody needs to take time to slow down; to stop DOING and just BE.

As a massage therapist, I love when I can help someone cross that bridge into a place where their soul can find peace. I’ve found that when I can let my spirit go to that place while I’m giving a massage, there is a connection between me and my client that transports us both to that realm. I’ve also had clients who are so wound up that they can’t even close their eyes, let alone drift, for their first two or three sessions.

If you have trouble going to that peaceful place, a series of massages might be just the ticket. You’ll thank me later.

Addiction or Healthy Alternative

My source for things to post on my Facebook page (see link on the right) provided me with the following graphic this morning:

video gamesVideo games is one of my “soap box” subjects. So many people are addicted to video games. They play them to “unwind and escape” from the daily routine — or so they say. I will be the first to admit that not everybody is addicted to video games. But even if you’re not, you have to wonder if it’s a healthy way to spend (waste) your time.

While playing these games you are closing yourself off from the people around you. There has been tons research on the effects of not having contact with other human beings. It isn’t healthy. Lack of human contact can cause all manner of mental and emotional scars. There is even some evidence to suggest that staring at video screens contributes to ADHD and other brain function disorders. Any addiction will cause social disorders.

I’m also concerned with the way people these days seem to have a need to be “plugged in” to electronic devices 24/7. Cell phones have made it possible to be connected to the world no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We aren’t allowed to have even one minute to ourselves any more! Our brains are “switched on” and ready to respond to everything that vies for our attention. How many of our children have cell phones and are texting their friends in the middle of the night when they would normally be sleeping? We are scared to death to simply turn off our devices and ignore them, for fear that we will miss something important. It wasn’t that long ago that all I had was a phone attached to the wall. No cell, no internet, no devices, no computer. Somehow I managed to survive. We thought all those gadgets would simplify our lives, so we bought into them. But life is more complicated now.

Do you want a better alternative than video games to relax? Go outside and lie in the grass and listen to the wind. Or the neighbor’s lawn mower, if you live in the suburbs. Dip your toes in a stream and listen to your own thoughts. Go ahead and think your own thoughts. A massage is also a great alternative. You can have the nurturing and safe touch of another human being. You can turn off your phone and allow your thoughts to drift. You can hear yourself think.

Wouldn’t that feel nice right about now?

More on Exercise

I recently started gearing up to send out a monthly newsletter to anyone who wants to subscribe. In thinking about what to put in my “Health Tips” column, I started thinking about exercise and energy.

It seems counter-intuitive to exercise if you’re tired, but all the experts tell us that the opposite is true! Exercise is what keeps you from being tired all the time. Exercise improves circulation and breathing, and basically makes your body a more efficient machine. This article from the Mayo Clinic states, “Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.”

A side note here (because I’m a nutrition Nazi) — you have to actually EAT NUTRITIOUS FOOD for your body deliver nutrients to your muscles and tissues.

Does one have to join a gym? No. Just getting out and doing something somewhat strenuous is good. Your body needs to be challenged. A brisk walk, riding bikes, participating in a sport, working in the garden … almost anything is good if it gets your heart pumping, challenges your muscles, and makes you sweat.

The article goes on to point out some additional benefits of exercise:

  1. Weight control
  2. Combats health conditions and diseases
  3. Improves mood
  4. Boosts energy
  5. Promotes better sleep
  6. Improves your sex life
  7. Is fun!

I don’t know about you, but I love the benefits of exercise. I love being able to run up and down the stairs without effort. I love being able to work in the garden without repercussions. I love being able to go through my day without having to stop and rest. I’m a gym rat; I love going to the gym and lifting weights with friends. It’s not necessary to do that for exercise, but it’s something I enjoy. On days when I can’t go, I feel it. I’m tired and depressed.

What do YOU do to improve your health?

Law of the Harvest and Exercise

I’ve been listening lately to a talk given by John Bytheway entitled, “Farm Wisdom for City Folks,” in which he talks about the law of the harvest. This law teaches us that in order to reap benefits, you must do the work over a long period of time in order to reap benefits. If you want tomatoes at the end of the summer, you have to plant the seed and spend weeks and months watering, fertilizing, pulling weeds, guarding against insects, etc., and THEN you can eat a juicy, ripe tomato, fresh from the vine.

Now is a good time to start exercising if you want to be healthy your whole life!

Exercise Now!

You can’t go out on September 1, put a seed in the ground, dump 1,000 gallons of water on it, and expect to be eating tomatoes on September 2.

By that same token, you must treat your body with care and diligence every day. Eat properly, exercise, and get enough rest if you expect to be healthy and fit in your senior years. I’m constantly amazed, now that I’m in my 60’s, at how many people my age are unfit and unhealthy after a lifetime of unhealthy habits. People are suddenly faced with their own mortality. It’s September 1st and they realize that the want those metaphorical tomatoes tomorrow!

Now is the time to treat yourself well. Today is a good day to begin. Can it be done all at once? Of course not! Will it be easy? No. Anything worthwhile in the long run requires a lot of work, discipline and sacrifice. Ask any musician, athlete or farmer. Ask anyone who has done anything rain or shine, week after week, year after year. You keep the goal in mind, but do what you can TODAY. Can you run two miles today? Maybe not, but can you walk around the block? Can you walk a little farther tomorrow? Bit by bit, day by day, you will eventually reach the goal. Start where you are, and before you know it, you’ll be fit and healthy.

(P.S. When you reach your goal, instead of rewarding yourself with ice cream, why not get a massage?)

Welcome to the New Site!

After much work and thought, I have finally combined my web page and my blog into one easy-to-use site! I hope you enjoy it. The blog contains all the entries I’ve written on a variety of subjects (check the subject list on the right). If you have any questions about massage I would be happy to address them.

You might also notice the links on the right to like my page on Facebook and to sign up for my free email newsletter … please feel free to take advantage of them.

The website portion gives information about the location of Moon Tide Massage, my hours and prices, and other basic information. If you have any comments or suggestions (or corrections!), please let me know.

Welcome to my new home.

It’s Been a While

Well, I apologize for my extended absence, if anyone is actually reading this. I get a lot of spam notes, but zero regular notes. Maybe I should emulate The Pioneer Woman and do giveaways or something. I think she’s got sponsors and stuff, though. If any real people are reading, I’d appreciate a note or two to let me know that I’m not talking to myself.

I’ve had a lot of clients lately with neck and shoulder pain. They’re sleeping wrong or are under a lot of stress or they strained themselves at the gym. Whatever the cause, it’s good to know that massage has been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating pain. Massage encourages the muscles to “let go” of whatever tension or problem they’re holding onto. Sometimes tight muscles are a good thing, as they tighten up to protect an injury, for example, that was received in a sports activity or auto accident. Those taught muscles hold everything in place–a kind of biological splint, if you will–while the injury heals. That’s the kind of muscle tightness that you don’t want to release just yet.  But for the normal stress and strains of everyday life, massage is sometimes the escape you need to let go of your problems for an hour and let somebody take the weight off your shoulders while the world slips away.

Now that spring is here and you’re outside working in the yard, schedule a massage so that your out-of-shape muscles don’t punish you too badly for all the months you’ve been sitting on the couch watching TV.

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Stress Strain Syndrome

W. L. Bateman said, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”

This is particularly true if you participate in an activity, bet it employment or sports, where you have to keep doing the same thing over and over. People who are hunched over a patient or a computer or a vehicle engine, continually doing the same things over and over, develop sore muscles. They have aches, which eventually turns into pain. They “favor” the part that hurts, which creates more tension, which creates more pain. It’s called a stress-strain syndrome. Stress on the muscles brings strain, which brings pain, which brings more stress, and so forth.

The sufferer usually remedies the situation with pain pills, which disguises the pain. Continued use of pills over time can cause liver and kidney damage as well as bring on cluster headaches.

It’s a vicious circle.

An effective way to break the cycle is to get a massage. A massage therapist can focus on the affected areas and break up the adhesions that cause the pain and stress. But, following the above quote, if you go back to doing what caused the problem in the first place, you will return to the same pain. Unless you are willing to quit doing what you’ve always done (who wants to give up a career?), you’ll still have pain. So it really is in your best interests to invest a few dollars a month in the benefits of regular massage.

If you schedule a massage on a regular basis, regardless of whether or not you are experiencing pain, you will be able to stay ahead of the pain and prevent the pain and the need to take pills. My clients have found that coming in once a month is the absolute minimum that accomplishes this goal. Twice a month is even better.

And here’s another quote that your grandmother probably told you: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Call your massage therapist today for an ounce of prevention. You’ll thank me later.

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