Archive for the ‘massage’ Category

A little while ago Jim and I made the trek out to the East Coast for two purposes.  One was to return a large cast iron cauldron that we had ordered which arrived cracked.   We took it back to the foundry to have it replaced with one that was not cracked.  The guy who packed it at the foundry just couldn’t imagine how it could have been cracked…   Personally, I suspect that it left the foundry that way and they were hoping that we wouldn’t notice until it was too late for us to make them do anything about it.   But UPS could have dropped it during shipping, which would not be surprising since it was in a box that was labelled “HEAVY” but even a person who was expecting “heavy” might have been surprised by the 87 lbs…


It isn’t the largest cauldron ever, either.   It is only a 12 gallon sized, and they come all the way up to 60 gallons and more, some large enough to scald a whole pig.   I don’t know how you carry around a 60 gallon cast iron cauldron, actually.

The other reason for the trip was to visit the grandchild, who really represents a huge fork in our road.  He is developing in a most satisfactory way, thanks to the excellent parenting he is receiving.   I surely do wish we lived closer to that beautiful little family, but Skype helps.  One of the things that made the odyssey totally worth it?  Getting to see this:





Another vision that really “made” the trip was this sign:



This road has a serious identity crisis.  Not only does it not know what it’s number is, it doesn’t really know what direction it is going either.   Or possibly, it is all things to all people and going every direction at once.

Sometimes, I feel like that road sign could be the icon for my life.   Like most people, I struggle with the questions “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?”   “What is my purpose?”  “What is really important in my life?”   “Where is my place in the world?”

I do know my purpose, what I was put here on Earth to do, and that is to touch people and help them find the path to healing.   My work as a massage therapist has been doing that for well over 20 years now, and it has brought me peace and prosperity.   It has led me to connections with people that are deep and meaningful.  Recently I attended a class in California featuring Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming.   That re-connected me to Jocelyn Olivier and the Alive and Well School of Massage, the place where my training began.  Watch this space, you will hear more about NMR, which is a profound healing technique that I am anxious to master.  I see clearly that it is a fork in my massage road I am going to walk down, far down, and ultimately it will add longevity and depth to my massage career.

So that is one thing I am.   I am also a gardener…



I like to create things, notably I am working on a quilt right now.  It is a bargello design called “Supernova.”   (This is a pattern I found in a book by Eileen Wright, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.)  I’m 75% done with the piecing.


I am also a labyrinth tender:

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Labyrinth june06 005

That “identity” has led me to connections as well.   My labyrinth is listed on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which brings strangers into my life from far away and turns them into friends.  Just a couple of days ago I was visited and interviewed by a woman who is visiting and writing about labyrinths in all 50 states.   I may or may not show up in her book.   After all, she may meet a better candidate than I am for her writing about this state.   Anyway, she had lived in Alaska for ten years and brought me a beautiful rock from the Mendenhall Glacier area of Juneau.   We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There are no forks in a labyrinth, there is simply one path.   You begin at the beginning, follow the path through its twists and turns, and eventually you reach the center.

Sort of like life, actually.



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As many of your may know, my life has been a journey which has encompassed many places and quite varied experiences.   For the last twenty years, my focus has been on the body:  how it works, how we can assist it to be as healthy and whole as possible.   My work as a massage therapist has brought me to places where there were epiphanies in my understanding.  I recently had one of these revelatory moments.

Body work has a tendency to bring you into contact with the human physical form and the human psyche on a very deep level.   Different modalities of body work facilitate this contact in different ways.   Lately one of my favorite modalities has been CORE body work.   CORE stands for “Coax Order, Restore Energy” which, in my mind, is exactly what I am doing when I do massage.

The end of last week I attended a gathering of CORE body workers which was truly a blessing for me.   We took a short class, and held a seminar.  Then we worked on each other.   Not only did it validate for me the value of my work, but it gave me a personal experience of the power of our work during the hands on session.   The room was small and the group intimate and safe.  We split up in such a way that the person who was receiving the work was being worked on by three people at the same time.

This was amazing, to say the least.  The workers were all very experienced, and sensitive to the receiver at the same time as being cognizant of what the other workers were doing. The level of cooperation between the three workers was exemplary.  As the recipient of the work, I can testify that when you have that many points of contact and work going on at once, you simly cannot focus your conscious brain on them.   Your conscious mind just can’t accomplish that task with so many places to attend to., and consequently, it is impossible to block the work.  The end result is, your busy brain gives up trying to be in control.  I found myself able to sink into the experience and allow blockages and stored trauma to come loose.   The effects were profound on a physical level as well as a psychological and spiritual level.

I encourage people who are not doing so yet to find a way to receive body work, especially such mindful work as CORE body work.   I am not saying that this is the only way you can experience release and healing, but it is certainly a very good way, and I have found it effective for myself and for my clients.


The seminar was illuminating.   I won’t go into all the details, but one of the results of the seminar was I decided to start watching a series of anatomical dissection demonstrations by a Dr. Gil Hedley.   He has generously made his series of dissections readily available on YouTube, and I believe anyone who is interested in how their body is put together will enjoy his demonstrations.

Hedley is a master at dissection, and has detailed knowledge of the anatomy and physiology that he is laying out for you to view.   While he dissects, he discusses the different structures and organs, and part of the glory of this series is listening to him philosophize about the miracle that is our human body.

Yesterday I was watching his Integral Anatomy series, specifically the section on superficial fascia, which some people refer to as the adipose layer.   When he got to the end of the dissection and was reverently admiring the superficial fascia layers he had removed  from a male and a female cadaver, he went into a reverie that so moved me that I sat down and transcribed the whole thing so I could study it in depth.  I feel the ideas in it are so powerful and beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.

Here is Gil Hedley’s very beautiful discussion of the superficial fascia layer of the human body:

The superficial fascia is truly beautiful, an awesome structure:   A sense organ; a warming device; a place of sensuality and comfort as well as a place of reserve energy; stored life force; emotional movement’ and other possibly as yet undiscovered functions and purposes…

…Our culture places a premium on “fat free” and “no fat” and there is a certain level of “problematization” of the adipose layer — the superficial fascia — in our culture.   And yet, as we view and appreciate this superficial fascia here, we can come to a deeper understanding of the many positive attributes of this layer, that cannot be dismissed and which we judge at our own risk, really, at risk of our health and our human experience.

The superficial fascia, like all connective tissues, is piezoelectric; it has the capacity to generate electrical fields when stretched and pulled in gravity.  It’s my belief that this is part of what makes this a sensing layer, so that the interaction of the fields generated by the superficial fascia with the surrounding fields in the environment enable the sensitive person, sensitive in virtue of their superficial fascia, to listen to their surrounding environments at a very deep level.

Perhaps this might be a physiological and anatomical root of what we reference as female intuition, and our general cultural movement to judge, and dismiss, and diminish the adipose layer may in fact represent not only a judgment of the feminine, but of a feminine  power that is inherent in this layer for both men and women.  At the same time we can recognize in this figure here how, without the superficial fascia, ultimately the form is masculinized. The demand, the unreasonable demand, for the reduction in an inordinate manner of this layer is, in a sense, asking women to reduce something that is inherent to their structure and something that is integral to all human form.

Our culture also defines where on the body superficial fascia may ideally manifest, and yet those ideals make no reference to the natural genetic dispositions and the psychodynamic tendencies of any given individual.  Each person is quite unique in their patterns of distribution of superficial fascia, and it is unreasonable to place upon ourselves the demands that it be distributed just here at the hips or just here at the breasts and not elsewhere as well.  Instead, let’s make an invitation to both recognize this layer, acknowledge it, and accept it as inherent to our human form; as inherent to it as an other layer and requiring our acceptance and integration of it so that we might step into the power of this layer.

The power of this layer is both something at a physiological level and a sensitivity level, as we’ve discussed, as well as the shifting power in a culture when a culture accepts its feminine layer. Also, this layer represents to us all a form of resource.   While it is true that in our culture we have epidemic obesity, this is hardly the fault of the layer itself.   What it represents instead is a distorted relationship with the layer, which we can correct by engaging it, accepting it, and developing our understanding of it.

It is my hope that this exploration of superficial fascia will provide grist for the mill, and will provoke curiosity and investigation on the part of scientist and somanauts alike, who can explore and tell us more about the  properties of this layer.  Within recent times it has been demonstrated that the entire level is replete with actively contractile muscle fibers previously overlooked, and that these muscle fibers are part of our wound healing response.   This I learned form Robert Schleip, who is exploring with researchers in England this contractile property of fascia itself.

Of course, within the female superficial fascia, the breast also resides, and there we have a place of nourishment and specialization of the fibers there.

Thank you Dr. Hedley.   I resolve to engage, accept, and devellop my understanding of my superficial fasica, my adipose layer, and to revel in the power that it respresents.

Until next time, I wish you all health and joy.

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Sometimes I feel like my life epitomizes the metaphor used in the old movies to denote time passing:  the calendar pages slipping off the peg and sliding onto the floor in a pile.

The things I have been doing since I last posted!    I probably can’t even list them, but right at the top is the fact that I just cleaned my back bathroom fairly thoroughly because (since it was his day off) Jim replaced the sink faucet in there, which had been dripping steadily for several weeks.   In the process of the job, which also involved replacing the stopper apparatus and both cut off valves (which were frozen in extreme old-age arthritic decrepitude).  Everything had to come out from the cabinet under the sink in order for the worker to be able to crawl in there.  There is an impressive array of first aid equipment under there, along with quite a collection of various hand made soaps and several years accumulation of crud, among other things that shall remain unlisted.

But I would say that the proper term for what happened to that room was it became filthified.

So I purified it.

I also have been at rapt attention in front of numerous tutorials on Art Journaling, which I found over at Wild Precious Studio, my new passion as far as favorite web pages go.   This is a circle of artists that nurture their own creativity and the creative soul of the people who associate with them.   It is a kind a lovely spot on the internet, and quite inspirational.    I fear that I will be inspired to go shopping, as I now have a want list of materials that isn’t quite as long as my arm.   Fortunately, I do have some things to start with, so I can get busy soon.   Meanwhile, I did cut into my new paper and make a couple of cards, one of which still needs embellishing.   The other one has already been used since I made it specifically for Jim for the anniversary of the day we met 29 years ago.

I was trying to express the immediate sense of connection we had the moment we laid eyes on each other.

Let’s see, what else has been going on?  I wrote a poem, which needs some polishing.  Lots of massage happened, with the associated laundry floating through the house.  Our wonderful niece came and spent the weekend with us and made us an unbelievably wonderful lemon raspberry tart in a lemon butter tart crust.   Jim made us tempura onion rings for dinner one night, too.   Amazingly enough, in the past two weeks I have actually lost 3 pounds.   Go figure.

I had to buy new shoes, my old cross trainers wore out.  I felt sincerely like they should have lasted longer than 6 months, but athletic shoes just don’t stand up to the life they lead on my feet.  In all fairness, I don’t think the researchers at New Balance have any inkling of what constitutes “cross training” in my lexicon. . .

The garden is coming along.    These are the baby lettuces from Cook’s Garden Spring Lettuce Mix.

In a few weeks we’ll be eating them.   While I was taking this picture I was being harangued by this fellow, laying claim to the plum thicket which is maybe 20 feet north of the vegetable garden fence.

We’ve been going through a whirlwind  of weather lately.   We have experienced rain, gale force winds, sunny weather, grey gloomy days, and the temperatures have ranged from 88°F  to 28.    In other words, normal weather for spring in the Ozarks.

It got warm enough to cause the snakes to emerge.   This is the female garter snake that was hanging around last year.   Apparently she made it through the winter just fine.

We’ve been deeply involved in processing last year’s garlic also, separating the heads into cloves and peeling them.  We alternate batches:  chopping it for freezing one time and roasting it the next.

I also spend quite a lot of time wandering around the yard looking for things to delight the eye.   These shots were taken in the front “lawn” one dewy morning last week.

The labyrinth and savanna from the gate beside the house.

Last night a male great horned owl perched in the pine trees by the pond and proceeded to spend the next hour calling.   For about ten minutes I could hear a female answering him.    I hope what he was saying was “Hey, Baby!   Come on and live over here, I just had a fantastic rabbit dinner!”

I left my bedroom window open so I could listen to them calling back and forth, and fell asleep in between owl sentences.   I woke up at about 3 a.m. freezing almost to death since the temperature had dropped so much during the night.

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New referral.   On the phone, she wistfully and yearningly says it is their anniversary and she wants to be pampered.    Mentions names of very good clients who told her I did the best ever massage.  We set a time and date.

She calls back a couple of days later, confirms.  It’s a secret, a surprise for her husband.

Yesterday as I was walking Ruby I was imagining the scene here if he was surprised and uncomfortable, trying to decide who should get their massage first and thinking it was best if he went first because if he wasn’t totally cool with it he would probably leave the place and never come back.  How funny that my mind should have been running along those lines.

They were scheduled to appear here at 9 a.m. this morning.   I dutifully prepared the room, warming the things that need to be warm, burning who knows how many kilowatts of electricity in the process.   Cleaned the bathrooms.   Got out their intake forms.  Combed my hair.

8:10 a.m.   Phone call.    It is the husband.   They are so sorry, “something has come up”, they have to cancel.  He is stressed, voice  shaking.  They’ll have to call back to reschedule.  Is it okay?  he asks.

“Oh sure,” I reply, “Thanks for letting me know.”  I hang up, perhaps more emphatically than was absolutely necessary, since there really was nothing else to say.

I mean, what sort of question is that, “Is it okay?”  What can I do?   Force them to come?  Send the posse to bring them in?  Throw them down and massage them against their will?  Is it okay?   Yeah, sure.  Whatever.

(I’m sure I know why getting people’s credit card numbers in advance and telling them they will be charged for the massage if they don’t show up has become the norm in my profession.  But I don’t do credit cards — the machine costs money as does maintaining the account plus they take a percentage of your sales right off the top.   So I’m sort of stuck.)

I feel like sending them a voice mail:  “I’m so sorry to hear that your mother died in the night and you just found out about it.   Or that you wrecked your car on the way to your massage.   I sympathize with the trials of uncontrollable projectile vomiting or other illness that struck suddenly early this morning.  I hope you are better soon, that you get over your grief, that your insurance company comes through.”

I certainly hope that the scenario does not deserve a note to the husband saying:  I hope you didn’t get informed of what the surprise was and categorically refuse to participate in any such intimate activity with a stranger on your anniversary, thereby upsetting your wife with whom you are supposedly spending this anniversary and totally disrespecting the professional massage therapist with which you had an appointment.

Surely you couldn’t be so . . . so . . .   Oh I just can’t think of a word right now.

You know, it occurs to me that I have been running across many many people who desperately want to form relationships lately, and when I envision the scene at my Notclient’s home this morning, I wonder why?  Why do they want to let themselves in for this sort of thing?  (All of a sudden, I hear the strains of “You Always Hurt the One You Love” playing plaintively in the background)

Arrrrrrrrrgh!   I want to break something.

What I’ll probably do is change out of my good clothes and go out and rip a bunch of weeds out of the ground which will do me and my gardens good and will amuse Ruby.

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I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the information age.

I decided to join up this afternoon.  I utilized the Website software provided by my professional association (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals) to advertise my massage business.  Actually, the process was much easier than I expected and I had a blast trying to follow their instructions.     Check it out.

What do you think?   Am I getting the point across?  Would you call me?   Should I link to my blog or is that idiocy?

Now we’ll see if it is true that I need a website.

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Anyone who is doubting the change of the season at this point is just ignoring the facts.   This morning the Jack Snipe daffodils by the front door were open for business.

These little fellows are only 5 inches tall, so you get some idea of just how cute they are.   Across the walkway from them, there is a lone chionodoxa open, but lots of buds ready to pop nearby.   I have to remember to mark these bulbs this year, I am wanting to transplant them elsewhere and spread them out.   Last fall I had ideas of doing that but I couldn’t find them.   Grape hyacinths, chionodoxa and star of bethlehem bulbs all look pretty much the same in the fall.

Out in the herb garden I have miniature irises up and in full bloom.

These were originally members of a group of bulbs called “Splendor in the Grass” that I bought from White Flower Farms over a decade ago.   I still have crocuses from that mixture coming up every spring, but the squirrels ate all the corms for the Grecian wind flowers, the snow drops didn’t like being mowed and these irises didn’t die from being mowed but they also didn’t flower again since the foliage was being cut back before they could feed their bulbs.   So I moved them, and the remnants of that purchase are doing just fine inside an established bed.

No bees today.  It’s a little chilly for the critters.

On an entirely different subject, I often think that the things that happen to me physically are placed there by an adoring Providence to give me lessons.   The last week’s lesson was on why we don’t work in only one area when someone is complaining of pain.   See, I went to my massage therapist complaining that my sciatic seemed to be bothering me, and so she worked on that area.   Immediately, and without any ado, the tension back there alleviated, my psoas was unopposed and went into a vicious spasm.   This impacted my femoral nerve and I was experiencing lots of referred pain from the pinched nerve, plus the epidermal nerve was not sending messages and so all the skin on my upper thigh felt numb while the muscles beneath felt like they were on fire.

My own personal massage therapist husband chef was pressed into service, and we discovered very quickly that the psoas had issues.   So he worked on them.   Things improved, but I was not out of the woods.   Last night I also made him work on the lumbar area where the femoral nerve originates, and today I feel so much better.

So the lesson is, don’t change the policy of working everywhere in the body no matter where the person is experiencing pain.   A person listening to my complaints would have been focused on the iliotibial tract and would never have found the actual source of my pain, which was deep in my abdomen and in my upper lumbar back area.

To top it all off, somehow I managed to get a tiny crumb of jalapeno or cayenne in my eye last night and you would have thought a nuclear weapon had been set off in there judging by the pain, the tears and the massive amount of mucous my sinuses immediately began to emit.  Fortunately, rinsing it out and waiting solved that crisis, but not before the combination of that last little coup de grace and the continual discomfort in my leg had reduced me to tears.

I sent myself to bed at 8 p.m. and did not get up until 7 this morning.   After the power went back on.  It was out all night due to some sort of contretemps vis-a-vis the thunderstorm last night.

Now I need to think about what I am going to take to Costa Rica, which means I need to go try on my shorts.   No doubt I will discover that they are way too big, since I have FINALLY managed to get the weight down to 159.   Oh yeah, you read that right.   My body weight has not been under 160 since 1978, so you can imagine that in the midst of all the pain and angst, I have also been rejoicing.

Let me just reiterate that.  ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE, for the first time in THIRTY TWO years.

Yessireebob.   Life is good and looking better and better.

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I’ve been making some rash promises lately on the blog, and now I’m trying to come through on them.   First of all, I sort of mentioned that I was going to post some pictures of the labyrinth taken in the summer.  So, forthwith, I present several pictures I took over the last couple years of the labyrinth during its full summer glory.   It is full of wildflowers and I am about 65% finished outlining the whole pattern with daffodils planted every three feet.   I have been transplanting bulbs from my main gardens out here for at least five years, using this project as a way to utilize all the bulbs that have to be split as they propagate.

The last was taken right after we burned it off last winter.   This is supposed to help keep the fescue in line and encourage the wild flowers.   It is also about the only way we have that efficiently beats back the tall grass clumps that have formed around the rocks.  We could weed eat the thing, but bear in mind that at 84 feet in diameter, walking the twelve circles into the center means you have walked 1/3 of a mile, 2/3 round trip which is just over a kilometer.   That’s a lot of weed eating.

The aerial view was taken by the lineman of our local electrical cooperative when they were here replacing our power drop pole and giving us a new transformer and a new meter.   They had a big boom truck with a cherry picker and I induced the workman to take my camera up and get some overall shots of the labyrinth when they had finished their job.   I thought it was very nice of them.

Someone else expressed interest in my healing journey, so I thought I’d give an update on that.   I’m in pretty good shape now that the hole in my knee has healed as well as the pulled muscle in my thigh, both injuries I sustained during the snowy spell two weeks ago.   My sciatic nerve has finally quit complaining about all that, thank heavens.

I am always telling my clients that they must do self care, stretch and take hot baths and do self massage and stuff like that.   I have always maintained that if you do those things you can minimize injuries and help the ones you do sustain heal faster.   I was about to lose faith in that position while I was dealing with the sciatic thing, but it finally gave in and has started behaving again.   Right now I am struggling with my left shoulder, which I stressed out by playing too much Scott Joplin too soon and sort of yanked my shoulder girdle grabbing for the bass.   That has finally started to yield to the stretching and other self care, but that too was a real pain in the neck until it finally knuckled under.  At least I know I’m not blowing smoke when I tell my clients to stretch, stretch, stretch.

Part of my healing path has been to play the piano more and in order to facilitate that we moved the piano out of the ice box back bedroom and into the master bedroom which is generally warmer because it is in a straight line back from the heating stove.   Additionally, I have been playing with paper on a regular basis, which means my desk looks like this:

Here’s one of the cards I recently did.

There are several more, each just as much fun as this one.   Oh, okay.  I’ll share a couple more.

I have a big collage running around in my mind that I intend to start working on tomorrow, now that I finally got around to doing some of the coloring pages that Tammy Vitale sent me when I signed up over at her blog to get them.   That has been a lot of fun.   I did one in crayon, one in colored pencil.  I thought they came out rather well, and I had a real blast coloring them.  You could get something to color too if you wanted to, just go on over to Tammy’s place and click on “Delight Me.”

That is what I have been doing while it was snowy, rather than playing in my garden.   I have managed to get out and take Ruby for a walk almost every day, and that was a lot of fun because I got to see the animal tracks from the wild denizens of the park where we walk laid out in front of me.   I was very intrigued by this set of prints, which were left by a pair of raccoons who were out walking the path together.

This is where they came out of the woods, and you can see where a squirrel went off to the left as they headed right.

Out in the section of the path that runs through the woods I found a spot where a bob cat was out investigating the mouse situation, and I found it quite amusing that it very carefully walked in the footprints I had made the day before whenever it could.  Ruby’s footprints are in the shot also.

The sun was doing neat stuff behind the clouds that day.

As far as other parts of my healing journey, I find that I am not very motivated to watch my caloric intake right now.   I managed to lose all the weight I gained during the Cookie Season, which was only three pounds.   But Jim got a new cookbook which he has been sampling, and I have been regaled with wonderful enchiladas and some sort of rice/sausage casserole with chicken and peas, plus of course there is always fresh bread around the place.

I’m not too worried, I have only gained a couple of pounds so now I am at 162 again.  Still.  That trend needs to quit.  When it warms up and I start my next big project then I imagine that I will drop weight again.    I have determined to get the damned bermuda grass out of my flower beds out on the root cellar mound.   Last October I had Jesse pull the rocks out of the lower terraces so I could weed out the grass roots.   It looks like this:

You really can’t see the scope of the job from this shot, I have avoided taking pictures because really it is so ugly right now with the rocks torn out etc.   It hasn’t been screaming “I’m so photogenic, take my picture Mom” at me much.   However, in furtherance of making an interesting and instructive post later on, I suppose I should really document what I have goingon out there right now.

Mañana.   Now, it is my bedtime.

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