Creating YOU Time in a Busy Life

I have often said, “If you are too busy for yoga (or massage), you are TOO busy.” I mean that not as an excuse for skipping self-care, but more as a statement to empower you to slow down and make time for yourself.


I know firsthand that when we are busy and stressed, the last thing we think we have is more time. Many of us will put our needs on the back burner to take care of our children, spouses, elderly parents, or pressing work assignments. This way of living is not sustainable. An over-giving, overworked, frazzled version of you is not the most effective, nor the most fun to be around.


Yogi Bhajan, the master of yoga who brought Kundalini Yoga to North America in the late 60’s would always say, “Happiness is your birthright.” It truly is. When you have taken steps to ensure your own happiness, all your loving and giving comes flowing from you quite effortlessly. It’s like when you get on an airplane and they go over the safety procedures. If the oxygen masks drop down, you are instructed to put on your own first, before helping others. They don’t instruct you to hold your breath while putting someone else’s on, and hope you still have strength to put yours on afterwards, because that just does not make sense.


What should we do about the perceived lack of time? Schedule in your self-care anyway! I went through a hiatus from my yoga practice for a while following my divorce, and gradually I became more stressed and negative. When I came to realize that I needed my daily yoga to feel good and to be able to show up for my family and clients prepared to do my best, I made time. I resolved to set my alarm an hour earlier in the morning, even though sometimes I would have insomnia, even though giving up an hour of sleep seemed crazy and risky and counterintuitive. I woke up early, I sipped my green tea, I listened to meditation music or guided meditations, and I gently reintroduced my yoga and meditation practice. The good news is that when we take time in the morning to do our yoga, meditation, a morning walk, breath work, or spend time on our creative expression, we set ourselves up to have a better day. We fill our own cup, so to speak. We have taken time to love ourselves, to align ourselves, to soothe ourselves. Now we have something to give.


I have noticed that I feel better now that yoga is part of my morning routine again. I prioritize myself, and I end up making myself feel loved and seen and appreciated. Does that sound funny? It’s true. I am less likely to feel unappreciated by people around me, because I am filling that need for myself. I dare say that when I feel unappreciated by others, it is a symptom that I am slacking on self-care, and am not treating myself how I want to be treated, how I deserve to be treated. It appears this is a common symptom for other humans as well. Let’s be quicker to heed it’s warning.


Another thing Yogi Bhajan used to say was, “Keep up and you’ll be kept up”. He was saying to do the daily yoga practice (keep up), and things will flow naturally for you (be kept up). When we do yoga, we align our spirit with our body. When we do yoga, we are bringing the part of ourselves that knows our highest desires for ourselves into alignment, so we can follow our own inner guidance more effectively, and just generally feel great. For you, it might be yoga, massage, tai chi, painting, dance or kayaking that aligns you. Learn what works for you, and then make sure you do it for yourself every day. Tell yourself, “This is the most important things I do all day,” and then do it. Watch how your life transforms!


Create for the Joy of Creating

Do you remember the song that starts with, “Sing, sing a song”? One of the lyrics is “Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing, sing a song…”  This song comes to mind today after a good friend and I were talking, and catching up on our lives. I shared about recently adding creativity as an important part of my self-care routine, and prioritizing it, doing something creative in the early part of my day to feed my soul and to keep my emotions flowing. This is important because I have historically sometimes pushed aside my need for creative expression in favor of working hard or taking care of everyone else. I have noticed that ignoring my creative self can be bad for my mood and my health.

My new addition of creative expression to my self-care means I must either watercolor paint, dance, make music, or do another art form if it calls to me that day more than the above favorites. This makes me happy. And my happiness spreads outward in all I do, including my work, my marriage, and my parenting.Ladybug

One of my creative outlets is teaching myself trombone. I had a feeling, with my small amount of experience playing fiddle and then stand-up bass, both fretless instruments, that trombone might be a good instrument for me because the slide seemed like it would be easier for me to feel my way into than an instrument with a bunch of buttons or keys. I have discovered that I tend to play trombone poorly when I am “in my head” or thinking about what I am doing. But when I bend my knees a little, and drop my awareness deeper into my body, around my hips and thighs, I am playing from a place of deep feeling, I have no idea what I am going to play, and it comes out amazing! My ability to do this seems to have to do with how relaxed I am in the moment, but alas, I have not yet made a connection between the logical side of my brain and the feeling side when it comes to trombone. Someday, perhaps, I will.

My girlfriend mentioned she would like to get into painting and she feels a lack of confidence in her skill, which seems to stop her. We talked for a while about why I paint. The act of brushing paint onto something feels goods to me. Really good. Whether painting a room a new color, creating a doodle in my watercolor book, or painting something big in acrylic on canvas. My friend agreed. Painting feels that way to her too, but she hasn’t done it in forever, partly because she has a baby and her family has just moved to a new city.

I told her there are many art forms I do because they simply feel good to me to do. I do it for me. I concern myself very little with how it will turn out or look. I do it because the act of doing it feels good. I dance with wild abandon to really good music, sometimes in public, sometimes when nobody else at the show is dancing. I probably make a spectacle of myself. But I don’t do it for others. I do it for me. When I paint, I also do it for me.

My friend pointed out that it sounds like trombone is like that for me. Yes, it is true. I play it because I need to and because it feels good. Someday I do hope to become consistently good enough to play for and with others with confidence, and maybe at that time I will find something I need to share or give to the world that can only be expressed via trombone.

In yoga, we can look at creativity as being expressed the most through two chakras (energy centers). The one I express from the most is the second chakra, the seat of our deepest emotions, our sexuality, and our primal creativity. The other chakra is the fifth chakra, the throat chakra, where the voice comes from. This kind of creativity usually has to do with speaking one’s truth and with what we uniquely have to give the world. I usually write from the fifth chakra, and it’s where I find words from which to lead a yoga class, and from where I educate my massage clients.

By the end of the conversation, my friend was inspired to either find her paints in the moving boxes or go buy even a kid’s set to get started with. And she will paint for the fun of it. And the more she does, she will probably become more confident. But either way, she will paint.

So sing, paint, dance, crochet, sew, bake, write, draw, play music, and “don’t worry that it’s not good enough.” Just do it.

Do it for you. Create for the joy of creating.

Reiki Healing Special in July

Reiki is an ancient Japanese, hand’s-on healing technique where, essentially, the practitioner acts as an efficient conduit to the Universal flow of healing energy, sending it into your energy field and body for your healing.  We all know how soothing the human touch can be.  We all have healing abilities.  A Reiki practitioner is a person who has received an attunement from a Reiki Master in a process by which the Master brings the new practitioner’s chakras (energy centers) into ideal alignment, facilitating open flow of the healing energy.
When you receive an energy work session from me or any other Reiki practitioner, the energy knows right where to go, and can bring healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Reiki can be done in person or long distance.
Usually I charge about $1/minute ($65/hour), but for the rest of July, I am offering a special:
Reiki By Donation
There must be some energy exchange to receive a treatment, whether financial (donation size determined by you) or another useful offering (like organic produce).

Call me at 850-284-7136 with questions, or to set up an appointment.

“I’m Too Fat to Get a Massage”

I have heard, over my 18 ½ years as a massage therapist, of a few cases where somebody said they thought they were too fat to get a massage. They would be too embarrassed or too shy about their form, perhaps even thinking a therapist wouldn’t want to touch them.

Well, I want to tell you something about massage therapists, or at least about me, because I can only truly speak for myself: I see the human body as a miracle, a living wonder. When you are on my table, it is my intention to be the embodiment of compassion. You are an amazing being, a precious and unique soul who has come to me for healing and soothing. I do not come to my table with judgment, but with love in my heart.


Massage by a professional massage therapist is referred to sometimes as “safe touch”. It can be very healing to people who have experienced unsafe or hurtful touch like abuse by another human. “Safe touch” is also healing to people with body image issues like those suffering from eating disorders. Allowing yourself to receive a massage is a huge gift to yourself and your self-worth.

So, please be kind to yourself. It might take you outside of your comfort zone at first to try something new, but it is absolutely worth it. Make a resolution to be more loving to yourself, to befriend and fall in love with the wonder of who you are. Take baby steps, a massage here, meditation there, a soak in the hot tub, a pedicure, etc. Treat yourself. Nurture yourself and employ those who provide nurturing services to you as well.

I have worked on all shapes and sizes of people. I am fascinated by, and stand in great appreciation of, the variety of human forms.

No, you are not too fat to get a massage.

Do I Work on Pregnant Women?

Yes, I do. I have worked on pregnant women since the late nineteen-nineties when I was in massage therapy school back in Central Florida. The day we learned side-lying, the most common position in which a pregnant woman receives massage after about four months gestation, I partnered with my class-mate who actually was pregnant.  It was easy and not intimidating. Because I started off with a pregnant recipient from the beginning, I work with competence and confidence on these sweet ladies, these lovely vessels who are gestating their tender young babes.

Nowadays, in Tallahassee, I soothe tired mamas with my loving touch. They say the baby senses what the mother is sensing. Imagine the bliss the baby feels when mama is so at peace!  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got massage as close to once a week as I could.  I walked every day, too.  My pregnancy was beautiful and comfortable.  I want this for you, too.

I understand the changes in circulation during pregnancy, I know where to massage and where not to, and generally when I massage people, I really aim to create the most peaceful and loving vibration I can for whoever is on my table.

Let me nurture you, pregnant mama. You’ll be in good hands.

Another FREE Raw Kale Salad Seminar at New Leaf

Local friends, mark your calendars. I will be teaching a free seminar at New Leaf Market Co-op November 18, 2014, 7:45pm to 8:45pm. I will teach you my recipe for a very life-giving kale salad. As I demonstrate it, I will describe the healing benefits of the various ingredients and share tips on peeling and chopping some of the vegetables which the less culinarily inclined might wonder how to prepare.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Here’s an article I wrote in 2006 on breast cancer prevention for my local health food store’s newsletter, giving an overview of prevention strategies:

As mammals we are lucky. When we give birth to a helpless infant, our bodies have the nourishment to feed the child, without even having to go to the kitchen. Our breasts create milk. They are incredible organs. But why are so many women getting breast cancer? What can we do to prevent it?

There’s a lot of talk about breast cancer awareness, mammograms, and self-exams, but the focus is on detection of lumps once they have formed. It seems there’s not enough information in the mainstream about how to avoid the cancer in the first place. In this article you’ll find some suggestions on what women (and men) can do to decrease their risk of breast cancer.

As a New Leaf shopper, you must already know that what you eat has an effect on your health. Diets high in whole foods, live foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables are best for your body. Such foods are higher in antioxidants; vitamins like E and C, which help your immune system in fighting not only viruses and bacteria but also help neutralize free radicals. Eating high fiber foods helps keep your digestion efficient so toxins can be removed and your body has more energy to spend on immunity and cancer fighting. Drink plenty of water, and be wary of drinking out of plastic bottles. Many contain chemicals that leach into the water. Phthalate chemicals mimic estrogen and may cause reproductive cancers, including breast cancer.

Cancer cells pop up in our bodies on a regular basis, but a healthy immune system’s white blood cells will recognize the cells as foreign and will swiftly destroy them. Laughter has been shown to increase white blood cells and therefore your immune health, so laugh every day. If you don’t find reasons to laugh every day, try incorporating a minute of the yogic belly laugh into your routine. It’s a fake laugh, a hearty “Ho ho ho!” which sometimes evolves into a real laugh. If you are shy, do it in your car or when you are the only one at home.

The breasts are linked closely with the lymph glands at your underarms. The lymphatic system removes the toxins from the interstitial fluid in your cells. Lymph has no pumps so we must move muscles in order to get it flowing. Massage is a great way to move lymph. Incorporate breast massage into your daily routine. Yogic teachings suggest placing the breasts in the flow of a cold shower and massaging them there. The cold water is good for circulation.

There is a debate about whether antiperspirants contribute to the risk of breast cancer. As a massage therapist of nine years with deep understanding of anatomy and physiology, I believe that clogging your sweat pores and preventing release of toxins is harmful. The toxins will stay in nearby tissue, including your breasts. Switch to a deodorant that is free of antiperspirants, to be on the safe side.

Exercise is another way to get circulation of blood and lymph going. Do some aerobic exercise like walking. Add stretching to your life as well. Include arm movement because our modern lifestyles with our arms at our sides at the computer or at the steering wheel do not allow sufficient range of motion. Yoga and dancing are good full body exercises.

Speaking of modern lifestyles, electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) coming from electronic and motorized equipment are known to be disruptive to our health and contribute to tumor growth. So put down the gadgets and go for a walk or read a book.

The breasts are part of the heart chakra, the Yogic energy center in our bodies that is about love, forgiveness, and connecting with other humans. Strive to keep your heart open. Traditional Chinese Medicine says cancer is caused by stagnant chi (energy), so let go of bottled up grief or grudges. Find outlets for your emotions, like art, poetry, music or dancing.

Studies show that women who breast-feed have a lower chance of getting breast cancer, so if you plan to have a baby, ignore the formula company propaganda and breast-feed your child. The World Health Organization recommends it. Take pride in your mammalian nature, feeding your child the best food available for her. In the end it will benefit your whole family, increasing your likelihood to be around longer to enjoy your loved ones.

This is just an overview of ideas to prevent breast cancer. There are books available on the subject such as Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way by Susan S. Weed. This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, do more than the self-exam or the mammography; educate yourself and incorporate healthy habits into your life now.



Massage Your Boobies!

I have to be honest with you. When October comes, I don’t wear pink clothes or ribbons or even like to see the “pink-washing”, as some people call it today. I have doubts, huge doubts, that this pink campaign does anything to help prevent or cure breast cancer.

Yes, if you get a mammogram, or thermography, it can help you find cancer if you already have it. And perhaps the pink campaign gets some women to get checked when they hadn’t yet, or maybe weren’t planning on it.

But why isn’t there more emphasis on prevention????

I think one of the very biggest things you can do is increase circulation in and around your breast tissue. Massage your breasts, and massage them often. Massage will increase circulation of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the area, and sweeps away toxins. You will also increase movement in your lymphatic system, which has no pump of its own. Lymph is moved mostly by muscle movement or massage. Our breasts have a lot of lymphatic tissue in them, and there are many lymph glands in the underarm and along the sternum (breastbone).

According to Eastern therapies like Acupuncture and Shiatsu, stagnant energy and stagnant circulation can definitely lead to dis-ease in the body.

Now, imagine what happens when we spend 8, 12, maybe even 18 hours with our breasts squeezed into the confines of our bras. How good can the circulation be? Not good at all. The pressure will compress the tissue, compress the blood vessels, compress the lymph, such that circulation is limited. Do you ever reach a point during your day when you suddenly must take your bra off? Your breasts demand it? They’ve had enough, and they need to breathe. Remember, your blood carries oxygen to your breast tissue. Cancer does not survive well in oxygen. It survives better in acidic, stagnant tissue.

So, if you must wear a bra, and I know many of our more buxom sisters do need the support, wear one, but please, please massage your breasts. Massage them through your bra, which I am sure is best done in private in our culture. So, do it in the car, do it in the bathroom while you pee, do it walking around your house, just please do it.

And then, at the end of the day, take your bra off. Let those precious orbs of love and nurturing get some fresh air, or at least breathing room in your shirt. And massage them from above, below, and from the sides. Knead, glide, lift, move. Work on the pectoral

Blue Footed Booby in the Galapagos Islands

Blue Footed Booby in the Galapagos Islands

muscles on your chest as well. Massage them in the bath, in the shower, in bed, waiting for the teapot to boil, or waiting for your computer to power on. Love and appreciate them. Get your sweetheart involved. He or she will love to massage them for you, maybe even with a natural massage oil like olive or coconut. And, this is an “everybody wins” activity. So come on ladies, massage your boobies!

A Year of Monthly Massage

Susie is a wife, a mother, and a hard working professional. Like many people, she believed she was too busy for massage. Then one day, her husband got a great idea. He called me up and asked if he could buy a year’s worth of monthly massages for her for her birthday. I was moved by this man’s love of his wife. He said he knew if she got it into her on-going schedule, like her hair appointments or pedicures, she would realize that she can fit it in.

At the midpoint in our year, during the intake part at the beginning of her appointment, I noted, “This is massage number six in your year of monthly massages.”

She quickly replied, “The best year ever!”

We both laughed, but it’s true!

Regularly scheduled massages make a difference in one’s life. As a recipient of massages, myself, I love it for stress reduction, a chance to surrender during my busy week. When I get a massage in the middle of a hectic day or time in my life, I treasure it. I often say something like, “Hooray, an appointment where I get to lay down and relax!”

Massage therapists manually treat our muscles via kneading, gliding, stretching and other modalities that increase our circulation, improving the health and tone of our muscles. A therapist can treat areas of chronic tension or pain, and even help correct postural distortions. But another important factor is the way the therapist communicates with a client’s nervous system. Beginning with simply placing hands on you and holding them stationary, for instance, the therapist lets your nervous system know, via a calm, gentle “Hello”, that this is safe touch, which calms the nerves further, encourages deeper breathing, and helps with the release of tension in the muscles. The therapist helps guide your body from a stressed state, even a “fight or flight” response (a function of the Sympathetic Nervous System) caused by deadlines, life changes, bosses, anxiety, etc., to your “resting and digesting mode” (a function of the Parasympathetic Nervous System).

Our bodies were not designed to be under stress constantly with our adrenal glands over-stimulated. The fight or flight response is really meant for extreme danger, but the many stresses people sometimes experience in the modern world can put our nervous system in that mode. Here’s where massage comes in handy, bringing us back to “resting and digesting”. It’s like a reset and a reminder of our calmer way of being.

Now it’s up to us to take that feeling of relaxation and renewal with us after an appointment, and maintain it with healthy choices for self-care such as stretching, exercise, hot baths, yoga, meditation, creative outlets and drinking plenty of water.

Try prioritizing self-care more, and see how it affects your life, busy as it may be. You might find you have more energy and more to give. Feel free to comment here and let me know about your experience.

Relax and Nurture with a Therapeutic Bath

I love baths because I find the water element so healing. In various healing traditions, astrology, tarot, and other symbolic contexts, the water element is often representative of the emotional realm.

I have noticed that visiting a large body of water, immersing myself in the ocean or a swimming hole, sitting by a powerful waterfall, or watching a river flow by, can all be therapeutic to me. In the case of swimming, and especially floating, there’s surrender in it. There’s something about the way water hugs us that is reassuring, maybe reminiscent of the womb. But if I can only be by the sea at night or during a storm, and can’t go swimming, it still soothes me. It’s vast and comforting, bigger and deeper than my deepest woes.

What’s a busy person to do when she or he needs the healing power of water but lives in a landlocked area and doesn’t have time for a beach or river trip? Take a bath.

There’s an art to bath taking. It’s way more than filling the tub and getting in (though it can be that simple). Below are some of my favorite elements to incorporate to personalize my therapeutic bath time.

I usually start by cleaning the tub before I run a bath for myself, or our children. It’s nice to start with a fresh tub, and worth the two minutes of scrubbing and rinsing the bathtub.

I usually run my baths pretty hot, but I lean more toward simply warm during the summer so I don’t overheat myself. While the water is running, it’s time to add bubbles, salts, or essential oils. I often add calming lavender essential oil to my bath water with a few drops of Earthy, grounding patchouli essential oil.

Music makes bath time more relaxing for me, and to be honest, a little less boring. If I am stressed, I don’t want to listen to worry and mind chatter. I’d rather hear classical music, or something melancholy or soulful on Pandora, like Elephant Revival or Madeline Peyroux.

I light candles, turn off the light, and crack the window open a little for fresh air and some nature sounds.

I gather various supplies for self-nurturing. I usually bring some cool drinking water, but may also bring hot tea, or even beer or wine. I might bring a washcloth, rose water spray, a bath brush or loofah, a nailbrush, and/or a pumice stone.

I often oil my skin with a mini-massage before a shower or bath, using olive or coconut oil. This helps with my circulation, and also protects my skin from being stripped of its oils by the hot water. I may massage myself more during the bath, or stretch, using the warmth of the bath to make my muscles suppler. A seated forward bend is easy to do in the tub, and it helps stretch hamstrings which are tight on many people. I have even stood facing the corner and basically did my famous “doorway stretch” in the tiled corner, opening my bath-warmed pectoral muscles, thus opening my posture. Got carpal tunnel syndrome? Do your forearm stretches in the bath. You’ve got time…

One of my favorite additions to bath time has been the honey facial. After I have washed my face gently with hot bath water, giving the pores some time to open in the steamy bathroom, I pat my face dry, and then I apply a little honey to my face and upper chest. The darker the honey is, the better, because it contains more antioxidants for my skin. It doesn’t take much more than about a spoonful. I leave the honey on for about 15 minutes, estimating time by the number of songs that have played on my laptop. Then I gently rinse. After the bath I moisturize, usually with coconut oil.

What else would make your bath just right? Padded bath pillows are nice for comfort, for instance. How about a friend? My fiancé sometimes visits me during bath time, and I think he also takes comfort in the water element and the soothing environment I create, even though he usually sits outside the tub and chats with me or holds my hand. I also have mother-daughter baths with my little girl, passing on the fine art of relaxing in the bath.

I feel truly blessed to have a home with a bathtub, and to have hot running water at the turn of a knob. This is one of the ways I heal and nurture myself, filling my own cup, so I can then give to my family and my clients and students.

« Older entries Newer entries »