How many times have you seen someone with a disability or living with some hardship, but they haven't lost their smile? Beliefs and attitude have a lot to do with health, happiness and how well your life or your day goes.
A couple of years ago a client gave me a book that has made a big impact on me. “Peace Is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh is a little treasure of essays and vignettes of mindfulness and everyday life. One essay, “Flowers and Garbage” is about how everything is inter-related. The garbage is offensive and foul. The Rose is sweet-smelling and beautiful. You can’t have one without the other. The seeds of the rose need the nutrients of the composting garbage and the garbage needs the rose, as it declines and breakdowns, only to once again create the rose.
The challenges and struggles you’ve experienced help hone you into the person you are and/or want to become. Rather than be angry, resentful and hate those events and people that have hurt you, be grateful. You are a diamond that is being cut and polished by the good and bad.
Each negative has a positive. Sometimes you have to search or wait, but you will find it. Loss creates a void that makes room for something better.
Sitting here, I am listening to Andrea Bocelli, a blind man that has a voice from heaven. Thank goodness he chose to make the best of his talents instead of sinking into self-pity and despair. Steve Reeves was a handsome and skilled actor that suffered a horrific accident that resulted in his becoming so disabled he couldn’t even breath for himself. This pushed him to advocate for disabled people and a lot of good was accomplished. Michael Fox, who suffers from Parkinsons, is another example of someone well known and afflicted that has done good work.
Only through acceptance and “surrender” to the circumstances you find yourself in, can true healing and growth take place. Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that was built on this premise. Holding onto hate, anger, resentment is actually letting your pride resist change. It takes courage and humility to endure and welcome challenge.
Does this mean you need to make big, earth shattering changes? No. Just like a move of even one pawn on the chessboard changes the possibilities of the game, start with small steps. Here are some easy things to do to begin the process:
Life isn’t easy and it can be a struggle to imagine anything good as the outcome. However, staying stuck in that belief only hurts you and attracts more of the same. Whatever you can do to find your smile will heal yourself and move things toward the positive.
Make sure your pets are safe this weekend!4th of July is when the most animals go missing. Keep them in the house and safe, please! To us, it is fun. To animals, it is the end of the world.
To all the humans...
Here’s wishing you a great 4th of July!
To some it is a day to gather with family and friends and celebrations with hotdogs, beer, finished up with displays of fireworks. To others it is a day to remember and reflect the sacrifice and service of all the man and women that have given the utlimate so that we have the freedoms we enjoy. Whatever this holiday is for you, I hope it is enjoyable.
I had a quiet walk in the park this morning with my dogs. I listened to the bells chime for mass to begin at the local church and reflected on how congregations were gathering all over the country. People coming together for a common belief, in peace and fellowship. What would that look like if we could do that on a larger scale?
What if we could do away with judgment and ego in politics, business, relationships, etc? What if instead of polarizing the masses, they were unified? What if the goal was the best interest of the whole instead of the few?
It seems like America is like any other family or group; dysfunctional and chaotic but it works. We have our good points and lots of stuff to work on. It will be interesting with the results of the election this year to see where we end up this time.
Want a chair massage? Come to Farmer's Market on Saturday from 2:30 to 6pm. I will be sharing a booth with Kim Conforti, another massage therapist and we are doing chair massage and selling stuff for a good cause. It is a $1/minute for chair massage.
When I was a reserve firefighter, in Los Osos, we answered the call of a woman that thought she was having a heart attack. We arrived at her home and her husband rushed us inside to where she was sitting in her living room with the TV playing in the background.
She was pale. Her breathing was rapid and shallow and she was having chest pain. She was obviously in distress. We hooked her up to the EKG and took her vitals. After running all the tests, the paramedics surmised she was having an anxiety attack. After questioning her about how it was triggered, it started while she was watching a market report. The market had dropped significantly that day and she lost a major portion of her retirement investments. We recommended she visit her doctor as soon as possible, just to make sure there was nothing else going on, not watch the news and we left.
Anxiety and panic attacks can happen anywhere to anyone at any time. Life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns that can be pretty rough for even the most stoic. With world events becoming more and more turbulent and violent, finding joy and taking a time out can help to keep calm.
Get out in nature, watch the bees at work, the treessway in the wind, or the fog lazily wrap up the coast. Take a hike and enjoy the view. Take an afternoon to visit with a dear friend or loved one. Read a good book. Make time in your day or week to do one thing, even for 5 minutes, that brings you joy.
Powerful hormones and endorphins are released when we experience positive feelings that can help with lowering blood pressure, stress levels and boost the immune system.
What brings you joy?
Many of you have had success in doing the stretches and are doing them regularly. Yay! Here is the link, if you want to get started. VIDEOS
Massage openings this week:
Wednesday - 1:30 3, 4:30, 6pm
Thursday - 3, 4;30, 6pm
Friday - 11:30, 1, 2:30, 4, 7pm
Saturday - 11am, 12:30, 2, 3:30, 5pm
The world is a crazy place...and it just seems to get worse. No matter where you turn, there is disturbing news and events taking place in every corner of our world. It can be hard to find the good and still keep a smile on your face. For me, taking time to meditate, walk on the beach or take a hike helps me get connected to my better self and keep my smile.
Some easy ways to find your "island of calm":
- Turn off your phone for an hour
- Do not watch the news or read the paper for a day
- Find a quiet place to read a good book
- Have coffee with a good friend
- Do something kind and unexpected for a stranger
_Before you get out of bed, in the morning, remind yourself of 5 things to be grateful for
These are just a few suggestions that might help you find your smile and your island of "calm". When all else fails...get a massage. It is the one place you don't have to talk to anyone, falling asleep is a compliment and it is all about you!
Happy Father's Day! Enjoy this day and celebrate the men in your life. Being a dad isn't easy and the job gets over-looked and under-appreciated many times. My dad isn't alive anymore and he wasn't perfect but he did his best. I am grateful that he was part of my life. Take the time today to be grateful for those in your life, perfect or not, because they helped influence you into becoming the amazing person you are.
The other day I was watching an interview of Steve Maxwell, a 63 year old, former fighter, fitness coach/trainer and functional movement guru. I find his ideas and techniques simple and effective. He is also mentioned in Christopher McDougall’s recent book, “Natural Born Heroes”.
During the interview, he mentioned Dr. John Kirsch and his book, “Shoulder Pain? The Solution and Prevention” and how this doctor found that something as simple as hanging was effective in helping heal and prevent problems… WHAT!?!?! That sounded interesting!
After looking up “shoulder hanging” on Google, I found a video and more interesting information.
Many times in the massage room, I have clients with pain, mobility issues and/or restrictions related to shoulders and sometimes it goes up into the neck. There can be several things going on, but if the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade are tight and restricting movement, that can be the source of numerous problems.
There are nerves and blood vessels that flow between the rib cage and shoulder joint. If muscles are tight or posture is poor, these can be impinged and pain will result, not to mention lack of circulation of toxins out and nutrients in.
In experimenting with hanging, my own experience has been that I feel like the shoulders have opened up and there is less pain in the area injured several years ago. Massage work also causes me to be in a shoulders forward position, much like working on a computer. Stretching the muscles in the chest area helps relieve the tension and strain on the muscles of the upper back.
I would encourage you to be gentle and begin with the doorway stretch. DO NOT BEGIN HANGING WITHOUT SUPPORT! Go to the local school and use the monkey bars and keeping your feet on the ground, just lower yourself slowly and feel what is going on in the shoulders. Watch the video before you go out and try this!
I would love to hear some feed back on your experience.
Meditation can be intimidating. Some people think it takes hours of sitting like a pretzel while fasting and requires the mind of a Buddhist Monk. WOW! No wonder it is scary.
Meditation can be done almost anywhere, in any position and last from 30 seconds to hours. It also can be done while walking, running or doing repetitive motions, like chopping wood, washing dishes or weeding. You’ve probably been in a meditative state without realizing it and just thought you were daydreaming or drifting to sleep.
Stopping for just 5 minutes a day can have restorative effects and make a big difference physically, emotionally and mentally. My favorite time and place is my patio, in the morning just after breakfast. For those of you that hit the ground running until you drop back into bed, maybe 5 minutes after you wake-up might work, just before you go to bed or take time out at lunch.
Regular practice will enhance your ability to focus, stay calm, be able to relax faster and tune into your body and what is happening within. There is a whole list of benefits and it is even beginning to find its way into mainstream medicine with some doctors recommending it to patients.
Here is a great article from the Mayo Clinic with further information:
Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.
If you are looking for some help in getting started with meditation, YouTube.com has several meditations in your choice of length. Here is a short, 5 minute meditation, as an example:
5 Minute Meditation
Beating yourself up over the amount of stress you have in your life only increases it and making grand plans to make major changes usually fail. Just try one baby step in making changes and you will have a better chance at succeeding.
Meditation can be a quick and easy way to start finding a way to manage your crazy life and find some peace and balance. Give it a try and see what happens. I would love to hear your experience.
Many people come to me with low back pain and hip or sciatica issues and there seems to be something they all share, weak gluteal muscles. We have become a population of “sitters” when we were born for moving. If you stand in one place or sit for the majority of your day, you could have weak glute muscles that are contributing to your low back and hip pain.
When we sit for long periods of time the Psoas muscles shorten and will pull on the low back when moving to a standing position. Sitting stretches the glute muscles and can weaken them. If you stand for long periods and have weak glute muscles, it causes the Psoas (hip flexors) to work to stabilize the spine and puts strain the low back. Not only will the back and hips have problems, but without strong glutes to help align the leg bones, pain and discomfort in the hamstrings, calves and feet can occur too.
Several clients have said that they are fine until after a walk and when they get home, the low back or hips start to bother them. This is a strong indicator that glutes are weak and need strengthening.
How do you know if you have weak glutes? Without going into an anatomy lesson, let me give you a simple test you can do to see if you have weak glutes:
Lay on your stomach on the floor and rest your chin on your folded arms. Keeping your legs straight behind you and resting on the floor. Lift one leg, keeping it straight and if you feel the knee bend or your low back (lumbar area) dip, it means other muscles are being recruited to assist the glutes and they are weak.
Ok, now that you know you need some work, (most of us do!) how do you gain glutes of steel? There are numerous exercises to improve glute strength; squats, lunges, exercise machines, etc., but safety is a big consideration and you have to be especially careful if you have any knee problems. I found a great video on some easy exercises you can do at home. I like these because they are simple and won’t cause any stress on the knees. Click here to watch this 5 minute video.
Some other things to pay attention to:
If you get a chance, watch others walking. Can you tell those that have back pain, knee pain or are not using their glutes and leg muscles in synch? As a massage therapist, I have found you can tell a lot about a person just by their walk.
Strengthening your glutes and paying attention to how you walk and use your body can assist with alleviating back pain. In the case of glutes, a little work can make all the difference in the world!
Plantar Fasciitis is pain and inflammation of the tough and fibrous tissues of the sole of the foot. Anything and nothing can bring it on from running, wearing high heels to just stepping off a curb or getting out of bed in the morning. Usually it hurts the most first thing in the morning and then starts to loosen up as the day goes on, but this isn’t always the case. Some people suffer pain for an extended period of time and some only a day or month. There are no clear cut rules for this frustrating source of pain.
All kinds of treatments exist from stretches, taping, orthotics, foot supports, injections and even surgery. What works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for the next and many times it seems that nothing helps. Rest is usually recommended as well as changing your foot wear.
If you are dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, here are some down to earth ways to decrease and help eliminate the problem:
1 – Walk barefoot as much as possible, especially on grass, soft sand, wood floors and carpet. This will stretch and strengthen the feet and by working the tissues, will increase circulation to the area. By walking on the earth you are also connecting with natural healing energy that has proven to reduce pain and inflammation.
2 – Stretch! Believe it or not, you are connected from the base of you toes, along your soles, up the back of your legs, glutes, back, neck and up over your head to right above your eyebrows. If you have tight muscles anywhere along this area, it can have an effect on your feet. I highly recommend 5-10 minutes of stretching, preferably right after a good walk or any aerobic activity, everyday. Stretching after activity has the most effect and increase in flexibility.
3 – Massage your feet. Use a small hard ball, like a baseball or lacrosse ball. Some people use tennis balls, but they tend to be too soft. You can try a frozen water bottle or wooden dowel too. Rub from the base of the toes to the back of the heel with as much pressure as you can stand. After massaging, stretch the sole of your foot by bending the toes toward your shin.
4 – Keep moving and stay positive. You will hear all kinds of horror stories about pain and suffering. This doesn’t have to be your experience. It is only a temporary problem with many ways of resolving it, so don’t give up and don’t give in to being told you have to accept it as permanent.
There are many medical procedures for helping Plantar Faciitis, however there is also a high percentage of failure too. If you are asking for treatment from your doctor, make sure you follow up any recommendation with your own research and/or a second opinion.
Plantar Fasciitis has been recognized as having psychosomatic origins as discussed in “Healing Back Pain”, one of the books written by Dr. John Sarno, M.D. He talks about how our brain creates pain as a distraction to protect us from painful and unwanted emotions. Based on my observations in the massage room, I agree that our emotions have a big impact on our bodies and how we feel.
If you have over come or are currently working through Plantar Fasciitis, I would love to hear your story.
The other day a client was telling me about her experience with taking a statin drug to control her choloestrol levels. She was having horrible muscle pain and by researching on the internet, she found that her pain might be associated with the drug she was taking. She also learned that statins decrease the amount of CoQ10 in the body, an important antioxidant produced by the body, and can cause increased muscle pain as a result. This pain is usually not helped by taking over-the-counter pain relievers either.
In following up with some research of my own, she is right. There are several good articles about the effects of statins and muscle pain is mentioned in all of them.
Do your own research and talk to your doctor about your symptoms, your options and if CoQ10 would help.. Here is a good link from the Mayo Clinic about statins, their side effects and CoQ10.
Statin side effects
Having several clients on cholesterol medications with pain issues, I hope by sharing this information it might help.
Our bodily functions have not progressed much beyond our Paleolithic ancestors, but our technology and lifestyles have evolved far beyond our current physiology. If our bodies function better on “caveman” eating habits then why do we think have evolved enough to handle the amount of tension and stress that comes into our lives on a daily basis?
One hundred years ago a person processed the amount of information equivalent to a copy of the Wall Street Journal, in their lifetime. Now days it is closer to 13,000 copies and that number is growing daily. The term “information overload” is REAL and it produces stress and tension in our bodies that can become chronic pain.
What this means is that most people are in a “flight or fight” mode, everyday, all day long. This includes sleeping hours. In this mode the body is producing high levels of adrenaline and cortisol which contribute to higher heart rates, increased blood pressure and lack of restful sleep patterns. Being in this state causes a hyper-vigilant tension of the tissues and means that muscles are tight, circulation is decreased and waste products are not flushed as they should be. The resulting pain is the body crying out for help.
Ever wonder why your stomach is constantly upset or why you can’t remember things? Digestion and brain function are affected by the shutting down of functions not directly related to survival.
National Geographic did a great documentary on the effects of stress. You can view it here.
So unless you plan on becoming a monk and living in a remote cave, your levels of tension and stress are not going to change. What you can change is recognizing that pain is a symptom of your body asking for help and taking steps to meet your physiological needs.
Dr John Sarno has written two good books on Tension Myositis Syndrome and how our bodies cause pain when under stress and tension. I highly recommend checking them out. Another book, “A Headache in the Pelvis” talks about pain as the result of tension and how to deal with it.
Basically the recommendation from these sources is to keep moving, recognize the pain as a result of tension and stress, and do self-care. This could be stretching, exercising, yoga, meditation, massage, etc. Just don’t lie in bed and hope it goes away. If you go to a doctor they will most likely prescribe pain medications and studies show a lack of positive results.
Become your own best advocate. Research, ask questions, explore possibilities and don’t be afraid to try something. Dr. Sarno educates his patients and has found that the more pain sufferers learn, the better they work with, rather than against their bodies and become pain free.
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