Bali 2014

We spent the last 2 weeks of our vacation in Ubud, Bali.  We chose Ubud because it is the cultural center of Bali and is famous as an arts and crafts area.  To our delight, much of Ubud and nearby villages seem to consist of artist’s workshops and galleries.  Some artist compounds were quite large, 25 or more people, all family, related to one another.

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Massage, although not as abundant in Thailand, is offered throughout Bali.  It is also very inexpensive there.  The best massage I received was $5 USD for an hour by a woman named Ketut at a small spa in the heart of downtown Ubud.

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Q-ull, our 28-year Balinese driver had a great command of the English language.  He said he was given the nickname Q-ull which meant “lazy” because he used to sleep in when he was younger and didn’t like to get up early.  I enjoyed getting to know him and learning more about Balinese culture during our road trips. Οne precious story that he shared was that he gave his son an American middle name of a good friend of his from San Diego, Ca.   He said he really looked up to his friend and hoped his son would have a big heart like his friend did.  Isn’t that what we all wish our children had???

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The women of Bali were amazing – learning from a very young age to carry various items in a basket on their head.  Two things that blew me away were watching two women carry our 45 pound suitcases atop their heads up 92 stairs to our villa, and watching women putting cement in a container that was placed on their heads and carried to a construction site.

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One favorite evening in Bali was when he went to a bridging tables dinner at the upscale iconic Bridges Restaurant in Campuhan.  This dinner was a prix fix meal that we shared with four complete strangers.  We had some great conversation.  I love meeting new people.  The restaurant manager also asked us two questions.  One was tell two truths and one lie, then have others guess the lie.  The other question was what one person, alive or dead, would you like to have a conversation with.  Care to answer the latter question?

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We saw two beautiful Balinese performances.  I really enjoyed the Ramayana Ballet, which is nothing like the ballet we are used to.   It is a traditional dance telling the story of Rama and Sita (Balinese version of Romeo and Juliet).  The costumes the performers wore were beautiful and colorful.

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On a side note, on the plane ride home from Bangkok, I watched a wonderful movie: Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom which is based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name.  The movie chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society.

 

Toxins?

imageToxin Release

Most people that get massage or some other kind of bodywork hear that they need to drink lots of water afterward to help flush out the released “toxins.”  Well as a curious consumer, you want to know what those toxins are, and what the reasoning behind the extra water intake is.  If you ask most massage therapists, you will likely get one of the following two answers:

  • “You know… toxins.”  – Read this answer as the person doesn’t have the foggiest idea.
  • “Lactic acid.” – While most people know this answer as a rote response, most physiologists would only agree if the person has recently been physically active, which honestly does not account for the majority of the American population.

In reality, most of the “toxins” that are released are just normal waste from regular cell activity.  Each cell produces waste during its normal activity and metabolism, and excretes this outside its cell membrane.  From there it is located in what is called the “interstitial space” which is the space located between the cells.  Through the activity of your muscles, the cells and the interstitial spaces are squeezed (or pumped) and the fluid is moved out of the area.  The fluid then is typically directed to the lymph system, where it gets collected, concentrated, and dealt with.  (If you don’t know, the lymph system is the second line of defense of our bodies for dealing with pathogens, viruses, bacteria, etc. since it houses a lot of white blood cells.  The first line of defense is the skin, which prevents a lot of pathogens from entering the body.)

When you receive massage or bodywork, cell waste (which is already in your system) gets released at a more rapid rate than normal.  Your body has to deal with the larger amount of material within the same amount of time, and that is what can cause you to feel tired, sick, or sore afterward.

Fascia, the connective tissue of the body, is one of the components that is responsible for this phenomena.  Fascia’s main role in the body is as a divider and connector of body parts, organs, cells, etc.  On first thought, divide and connect seem opposites, and indeed they are.  But fascia does both at the same time.  For understanding this concept, you can represent fascia as a piece of double-sided tape, and our two muscles can be represented by two balloons.  When you put the double-sided tape onto one balloon, you now have a small extra layer of protection (to the balloon) where the tape is located. This barrier separates the balloon from anything on the other side of the tape.  Now add the second balloon to the free side of the tape (so that your model is balloon/tape/balloon).  The tape is doing the job of protection/separation for each individual balloon from the other, and at the same time it is connecting the two balloons to each other.  Fascia fills this role for individual cells, groups of cells, organs, muscles, etc. within our bodies.

Fascia, when acting as a protective barrier is not impermeable like a solid wall.  A more descriptive analogy would be a net made of rope.  When stretched beyond its normal dimensions, the holes of a rope net narrow in one direction and lengthen in the other.  Thus the effective opening of the holes are made smaller, allowing smaller and smaller items to pass through.  When the net is released back to its normal shape, the holes effectively open up to normal size, and allow larger items through. When you receive massage, and the fascia is being restored to its normal shape, it is akin to many small faucets being opened up simultaneously causing an on-rush of fluid and waste that our systems have to deal with immediately.  Being properly hydrated allows the processing of the waste to happen most efficiently.  And since most people are slightly dehydrated, it is a good idea to drink extra water after your massage to maintain a proper hydration level.

Recommended HEALTHY Reading!

 

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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Remember When It Didn’t Hurt – by Esther Gokhale, L.Ac.:  A book about improving posture and treating pain.

The Alexander Technique: How to Use Your Body Without Stress – by Wilfred Barlow and Nikolaas Timbergren:  An updated edition of the classic F.M. Alexander’s technique for successful body mechanics

Awareness Through Movement– by Moshe Feldenkrais:  Illustrated, easy-to-use exercise to improve posture, vision, motivation and self awareness

Getting Back in Shape– by Bob Anderson:  30 Programs with 3 components of fitness each: stretching, weight training and moving exercises. A simple approach to life long fitness.

Getting Stronger:  Weight Training for Sports – by Bill Pearl:  This book is three books in one: weight training for sports, bodybuilding and general conditioning.  The most complete book on weight training every produced.   Over half a million copies in print.

Healing Moves:  How to Cure, Relieve and Prevent Common Ailments With Exercise – by Carol Krucoff and Mitchell and Krucoff, M.D. Healthy Learning:  This book is authored by a award winning health columnist and a renowned cardiologist no the importance of vigorous exercise for general good health.  There are exercise programs for general fitness, as well as exercise prescriptions for specific illnesses and health issues.

8 Weeks to Optimal Health – by Andrew Weil:  Dr. Weil believes in the body’s natural abilities to heal itself (yay! MY belief also).  This book contains a series of simple small steps to optimum health.

Stretching in the Office – by Bob Anderson:  Stretches and exercises for people who work in offices or at computers.

 

Self Help Massage Tools!

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In between massage sessions, here a few tools you can use:

Here is a partial list of body tools – (self help devices that allow you to do body work (massage, acupressure) without the need of assistance).

TheraCane – An acupressure tool that loosens tight, painful muscular areas.  You use leverage and slight downward pull to create the desired pressure wherever you want.  This device is especially designed for the back of the neck, mid-back (between shoulder blades), upper back, sides of neck and shoulders.  It can even be used all over the body as a stretching aid.

The Stick – A non motorized massage device used by serious athletes to loosen trigger points (knotted up muscles).  The flexible core with the revolving spindles easily molds to various body contours.  This tool is great for the legs, especially the calves, and can be used effectively on all major muscle groups.

The Massage Stone This device was designed with the professional massage therapist in mind.  It is supposed to aid the hands, not replace them.  The stone may be used over clothing so it can be used often.  J   When heated, the Massage Stone drives the heat deep into the muscle tissues, relaxing the muscles for deeper massage.   When chilled, the stone can help reduce inflammation from a sports injury.

The Trigger Wheel – A 2” nylon wheel on a 4” handle for deep massage.  The Trigger Wheel works on trigger points and be used directly on skin or through light clothing.  It works the way a tire rolls back and forth on pavement. It is very effective in reaching specific sore spots, such as small areas in the neck, hands, wrists, arms, legs and feet.  It’s small enough you can carry it with you and use it throughout the day to keep pain at bay.

The Foot Massage A 2”x9” roller with raised knobs for foot massage, and rubber rings to protect the floor.  A super tool for tired feet. The studded knobs give you pinpoint access to the bottom of the foot.  This is used to stimulate nerve endings, reduce discomfort, and improve circulation. If your job is sedentary, use this tool on the job.

Breath Builder This device was originally designed for musicians to develop breath control; however it is excellent for anyone who desires to develop restorative deep breathing.  You blow into a tube and the pressure of your breath keeps a ping pong ball afloat in the cylinder.  It forces you to use your diaphragm muscles and to breathe correctly, with the goal of increasing your lung capacity.

The Back Revolution– This device is an inversion device which keeps your pelvis stabilized and decompresses discs and works wonders for store, stiff necks. Health professionals recommend using it for 70 seconds, 2 to 3 times a day.  Can help you control persistent back and neck pain.

The Pain Eraser 1 An exceptional hand-held tool that is firm enough for deep massage yet soft enough for more tender parts of your body, including your face.  Access arms, legs, hands, feet, back etc., easily with this high quality massage tool.  1-1/2” wide roller is made of 100% natural rubber with 36” fingers.  Great for travel.

 

~ A Different Kind of Nooner! ~

 

Don’t think you can get a massage other than in the evenings after work, or on the weekends???

 GUESS AGAIN!!!!

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Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a midday weekday massage:

 I WON’T ALLOW YOU TO DRIFT OFF TO SLEEP (UNLESS YOU WANT TO)

 I typically end the session face up. I do this so that you have time for your eyes to adjust, your sinuses to clear, and your mind to wake up.  The entire session can be face up or in the side lying position to avoid sleep induced drooling and Cradle face.

Other things we can do?  Music selections can be a tad more upbeat for the whole session, or even just the last 5 minutes.  Aromatherapy used can be more uplifting (grapefruit, bergamot, rosemary), than calming (lavender, frankincense).  Or, I can begin easing you back into reality with gentle conversation and passive stretching.

I DON’T NEED TO TOUCH YOUR SCALP OR FACE (OR FEET OR HANDS)

 It’s quite simple, really, you let me know areas that are okay to work on and what areas you would rather have me leave out.  That’s how I work for any session, anyway.  I can still work on your scalp and face without using any oil or aromatherapy. If you just can’t do without a massage of the scalp or face, no worries, those areas can still be addressed.  Your face will positively glow after a facial massage so you really shouldn’t miss out.  Give your fellow office mates something to talk about when you return to the office with that wicked Cheshire cat grin post massage.

nooner2 I DON’T EVEN NEED TO USE LOTION OR OIL!!!

The common areas that people want massaged are the upper torso, neck and back.  I can massage those areas without any oil or lotion at all. Slow and full dry work is perfectly paired with the large canvas of the back.

If you don’t really like the idea of dry work, that’s okay.  Excess oil or lotion can be gently wiped away with a warm towel after your session.  I typically provide a hot towel after every session anyway.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AN HOUR

I have just began implementing 45 minute sessions soon because I have so many professional offices within minutes of my office with people wanting to escape for massage during their lunch hour.  This is also a less expensive option for those who wish to receive a massage and/or only have a limited amount of time during the day.

 NOT GETTING A MIDDAY MASSAGE IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH!!!

What options do you have? Sitting at your desk to eat your lunch?   Over time, that has been known to contribute to weight gain and stress.  Have another coffee or smoking break to add some variety to your day?  If you have those types of breaks multiple times a day, it’s likely not really adding variety, and if you are spending the majority of the time complaining with your co-workers about the office, then it’s really not giving you a break, either.  And I won’t even comment on the smoking bit?  (I can’t say anything about coffee, because I like a cup on occasion as well.)  Not taking a break at all and working all day through?  This is not a great idea for creativity and spark in your work.  Going to the gym? Okay, you won’t get an argument me from me there.  But, I can comment that if you’re willing to clean up after a sweaty workout then on one day, you could get some fresh air outside on a walk to and from the office. Just sayin’…

So what do you say?  Stare at your computer all day and schedule a lunchtime meeting hoping they pick up the tab (they won’t) or get some fresh air and go out get a massage!!!  And no, I don’t mean chair massage!!!

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Better to Be Gumby (Flexible)

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I haven’t always been the best when it comes to stretching, but I have vowed to make it more of a habit from here on in.  As I approach the half century mark the latter part of this year, it has become abundantly clear to me that I need to be more flexible.  I have the cardio/weight lifting habit down, but am seriously lacking in the stretching department.

Since I can’t seem to make it into yoga as much as I would like to, I did some research on some worthwhile stretching books. I have two really good books already, but wanted something new.   I found an excellent one entitled:  Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition by Bob Anderson I plan to scan copies of relative pages so that I may forward them on to family/friends/clients/colleagues!  If you are new to stretching, or want something for just about every sport or activity you could think of, this is the book for you.  Here are highlights from the book:

Stretching When to stretch?

Before you begin your day in the morning

At the workplace to release nervous tension

After sitting or standing for long periods of time

When you feel stiff

At odd times during the day, i.e, when watching TV, listening to music, reading, sitting and talking

Stretching_2 Why stretch?

 √Release muscle tension making the body feel more relaxed

√Help coordination by allowing for freer and easier movement

√Increase range of motion

√Help prevent injuries such as muscle strains/sprains.

√Make strenuous activities like running, skiing, swimming, and cycling easier because it prepares you for the activity; it’s a way of signaling the muscles that they are about to be used.

 √Helps maintain your current level of flexibility, so as you do not become stiffer and stiffer over time

 √Develop body awareness; as you stretch various parts of your body, you focus on them and get in touch with them; you get to know yourself.

 √Helps loosen the mind’s control of the body so that the body moves for “it’s own sake” rather than for competition or ego.

FEEL GOOD!!

Angel for a Day….

What’s with the angel wing photos on your website?

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When I decided to update the photos on my website a few months ago, I made the spur of the moment decision to wear a pair of angel wings when the venue I had originally chose fell through and the outfit I was going to wear wasn’t altered timely enough.   So why did I choose to go with a white dress and a pair of angel wings?   The wings were a gift from a dear friend of mine who said I should have them.  I had only worn the set of wings once while wine tasting with a large group of girlfriends.  It was spontaneous and fun.  They would cause a stir wherever we went and be a great conversation starter.

When I did the photo shoot for my website photos we went outdoors to several Sacramento locations.  It was entertaining to hear what people were saying –

“Hey, look an angel!!!!”

“What is this some kind of new marketing angle?” – this from a homeless man who came running after us as we were leaving.

Wouldn’t it be fun to be an angel?  Try it, or try some other spontaneous action/adventure sometime.   It’s liberating and quite fun!

 

 

 

Being an Inspiration…..

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I am not a fan of television, but do enjoy reading and following blogs/listening to worthwhile video, having meaningful conversations with people.

If you have a few free moments, feel free to peruse the following TED videos, here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

Timber Hawkeye: Faithfully religionless

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LIFTxRJfLTM

Overcoming hopelessness

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6P2nPI6CTlc

Synthetic happiness

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

Sally Kohn: Emotional correctness

http://www.ted.com/talks/sally_kohn_let_s_try_emotional_correctness.html

 Kid President:  I think we all need a pep talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=l-gQLqv9f4o

Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up

http://www.ted.com/talks/diana_nyad_never_ever_give_up.html

Boyd Varty:  What I learned from Nelson Mandela

http://www.ted.com/talks/boyd_varty_what_i_learned_from_nelson_mandela.html

Peter Saul: Let’s talk about dying

http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_saul_let_s_talk_about_dying.html

 

 

 

F R E E D O M !!!

 

I found out recently that you can’t put a price tag on freedom.   Getting back into the corporate world and going back to a law office full-time didn’t turn out to be a good fit for me at all.  I found the office and some of the people employed there to be oppressive.  I refuse to work in an environment that doesn’t foster kindness, or doesn’t truly have their client’s best interests at heart.

I am glad I had this experience because it made me realize that there was a reason I left nine years ago and I need to continue doing what I have been doing in the past.  When you’ve been self employed for as long as I have, it’s just too difficult to entertain the idea of working for someone else.  I feel so blessed that I can return to a job I truly love.   My clients are some of the most interesting and nicest people you would ever encounter.  I consider them family.

Being your own boss, to me, is the key to happiness.  Here’s just a few reasons why:

Freedom to:

set your own hours ( no 9a-5p!!  😉 )

spend quality time with family/friends/pets

more time to help others and volunteer to great causes

have control over your earning potential

be self disciplined

More leisure time/vacation!!!!!

 

“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy.  If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace.  And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.” ~ Johnny Carson

 

 

 

 

Work Life Balance??

Wow, hard to believe I haven’t blogged in almost 4 months!   Going back to the corporate world and still doing massage part-time has kept me beyond busy!  I am not complaining, I actually like being so busy.  I haven’t exactly nailed the work-life balance lifestyle down yet, but plan to beginning sometime in 2014.

I never thought I would return to the corporate world, especially after having left it for nine years!  It was a struggle at first, and I questioned whether I had made the right decision on several occasions.   I do miss my freedom and the fact that I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time of day 5 days a week when I was self employed.  However it’s a nice trade off to have steady, reliable income.  It’s also nice that I don’t have a billable hour requirement, my hours are 9am-5pm, and that my 20 minute commute is reverse traffic both ways.

I am at a really good place in my life, fortunate enough to be working in two jobs I enjoy.

 

The one thing I have missed is reading, but I am getting back into that right away.  I always feel like something is missing if I am not reading 2-3 books at any given time.

I will attempt to blog at least 1x a month from here on in… sorry for the lapse.