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.

 

A Kind Heart….

Nine Elements of a Kind Heart

(excerpt from “Am I Being Kind”,

by Michael J. Chase,

Founder of The Kindness Institute)

 

A kind heart is ….

 Attentive. An attentive heart recognizes the needs of others.

Authentic.  An authentic heart is genuine and acts from truth.

Charitable.  A charitable heart gives yet expects nothing in return.

Compassionate.  A compassionate heart is sensitive towards all living things.

 Courageous A courageous heart acts from love rather than fear.

 Enthusiastic.  An enthusiastic heart displays limitless energy and passion.

Grateful A grateful heart is content and filled with appreciation.

Inspirational An inspirational heart encourages and motivates others.

Patient.  A patient heart waits and responds at the proper moment.

Creating Wellness in Your Life

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am voracious reader, typically reading three books at any given time.  I just finished wonderful book that inspired me so much that I have decided to include excerpts on my blog.

Ten Ideas for Creating Wellness in Your Life

(Excerpt from “Am I Being Kind”,

by Michael J. Chase, Founder of The Kindness Center)

 

1.  Using only positive, kind thoughts make a list of the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects that you love about yourself.

2. Make time for spiritual practice each day through prayer or meditation.

3. Connect with nature. Walk; hike; or swim; or simply immerse yourself in sunlight and fresh air, observing the magic of the natural world.

4.  Breathe in and exhale the energy of gratitude.  Give thanks every single day for the infinite blessings that surround you.

5.  Laugh!  Watch funny movies or spend time with energetic, humorous people.

6.  If you don’t already have one, consider adopting a pet. Studies reveal that animals can alleviate much of our daily stress.

 

7.  Feed your mind with inspirational book and positive quotes.

8.  Volunteer, serve, and make kindness your intention.

9.  Choose high grade “fuel” such as whole and organic foods. Also make water your number one drink.

10.  Find an exercise program that works for you, and get moving. This one decision alone will transform your life.

Back Mouse? NO…, you DON’T hire a exterminator to treat this.

 

 

Do you suffer from lumps in low back and on top of the hip?  For more information, view this video:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ow3uwRdSg0

Treatment of the Back Mouse

To treat back mouse, iliac pain crest syndrome, or episacral lipomas, I adhere to following treatment protocol:

Do not apply deep direct pressure.  This may aggravate the herniation. Deep pressure may and should be applied to the surrounding paraspinal and hip musculature (as much as client comfort will allow), but avoid direct pressure on the lipoma. Since it is a fascial problem, I apply a fascial stretch to only the thoraco-dorsal fascia. I apply trigger point therapy to the surrounding musculature, electronic acupuncture, and a sports massage to the low back, excluding the lipoma itself.

Do not stretch or twist the low back. Many clients feel they should stretch or twist the low back. It is through an inherent fascial weakness, or faulty biomechanics that this problem evolved and when the client puts additional pressure on the fibrous capsule, the inflammation may worsen. I do recommend stretching, but only when the back pain improves above a 50 percent level. When stretching the hamstrings, I always have the client standing with the leg elevated on something of waist height.

Do not exercise. Exercise tends to only aggravate the problem until the client improves above the 50 percent pain level. Many clients aggravate the back mouse while doing some kind of exercise. They have the misconception that painful soft tissue requires exercise so they tend to overexert themselves. As they improve, some mild exercise should be added. I recommend tai chi, qigong or swimming as the best initial exercises for someone with a back mouse.

Apply ice. Since the back mouse results in inflammation, ice will tend to sedate the nerves and cool the heat. After a treatment, I tell the client to go home and apply ice for a few minutes at a time. As he/she improves, I tell him/her to start using heat as long as he/she does not fall asleep on the heating pad.  They can also use a hot water bottle for heat therapy where you don’t have to worry about falling asleep.

Avoid lying on a hard surface. Some clients have heard that to treat back pain they should lie on a hard surface.  Although, this may be true for some conditions, it is not true for the back mouse. The pressure on the capsule may aggravate the condition and cause additional inflammation.

Avoid prolonged sitting/driving. Prolonged sitting and/or prolonged driving tends to aggravate the condition by direct compression of the lipoma and deconditioning of the low back. The hamstrings tend to stiffen and the abdominal muscles weaken. This will cause the low back musculature to tighten, further putting pressure on the fascia. If the client must spend hours in traffic, a low back support pillow or rolled-up towel is helpful.

 

 

Altruism

 

I find the subject of altruism to be very interesting.  Altruism means different things to different people/animals. Check out the dictionary definition and then psychology’s definition.

Altruism: 1)  unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others 2) behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

Psychologists have suggested a number of different explanations for why altruism exists, including:

  • Biological Reasons: Kin selection – We may be more altruistic towards those we are related to because it increases the odds that our blood relations will survive
  • and transmit their genes to future generations.
  • Neurological Reasons: Altruism activates reward centers in the brain. Neurobiologists have found that when engaged in an altruistic act, the pleasure centers of the brain become active.
  • Cognitive Reasons: While the definition of altruism involves doing for others without reward, there may still be cognitive incentives that are not obvious. For example, we might help others to relieve out own distress or because being kind to others upholds our view of ourselves as kind, empathetic people.

I have always strived to be altruistic. I remember repeatedly committing to assist people in need, or charities, throughout my entire life. I don’t expect anything in return when I help others – it’s just the right thing to do and it feels REALLY good.  I believe part of our reason for being on this planet is to help others and wholeheartedly embrace the concept that  “The purpose of life is a life of service.”

I have always been a champion of the underdog, the downtrodden, the elderly, animals, etc.  I am extremely thankful to my wonderful parents who were/are very strong role models in this regard.

Unfortunately, I know we live in a very cynical world.  People can be reluctant to want to give their time, money or resources to any person or cause unless they know the person, or are affected personally.

Please open up your mind and your hearts and B E L I E V E that there are decent human beings who exist in this world who aren’t looking for a handout.   They have found the courage to ask for help and are seeking a step up, not a hand out.

I have organized some local fundraisers in August for two VERY dear friends of mine, Sherri and Craig Battle.  For more information about why I became motivated to help this couple out, please see a poignant video by Simz Productions of Craig.  FYI: You might want to ensure you have some tissues handy….

Thank you to all of you who have so GENEROUSLY donated to the Battles’ cause so far.   It is so heartwarming to witness altruism in others.

If you wish to attend one of the fundraisers, or contribute monetarily, please email me and I will provide you with the pertinent information.

Blessings to you and yours…..

There’s No Place Like Home….

Home is where you are feel at home and are treated well.  ~ Dalai Lama

Home doesn’t necessarily have to be the place you reside.  It could be a friend’s home, a destination you like to visit, an experience, a restaurant, a spa, or a vacation rental.

For me, the places I call home go far beyond a conventional structure with four walls.  Home for me is the meaningful experiences I get from being in nature and traveling locally and abroad.   I love the American River Bike Trail (ARBT).  I am fortunate enough to live across the street from the ARBT and get the pleasure of riding my bike on it in the early mornings at least 4-5 week, or as I like to say, at the crack o’ black.  When I am on my morning ride/meditation, I encounter all kinds of wildlife.

I get away to the coast many times throughout the year, and try to make it to the mountains as often as I can as well.  In Sacramento, we are lucky enough to have many beautiful places to visit within 1-3 hours travel time. I work hard so I have the ability to take at least one long vacation 2-5 weeks a year.  For more information about some of the places I have traveled to, please see the travel section of my blog.

In my massage practice, I like to foster a serene, comfortable environment that makes a client feel like they are home. I treat all of my clients like family.  I feel that this type of scenario is best because a person is more at ease. A massage session is a very personal experience.  Some are hesitant to receive in someone’s home because of what they might find in the environment.  If you go to a spa, or a more clinical setting, the environment might be more impersonal.  You may hear a lot of distracting background noise from other rooms/therapists/clients.  When I first started doing massage part-time, I wanted the experience of working on a lot of different body types.  Therefore, I worked at a racquet club and a spa, in addition to having my home office.  The massage room at the racquet club was not conducive to relaxation due to the noise level of being sandwiched between the men’s and women’s restrooms.   The spa was also not very peaceful because you could hear any noise or conversations going on in the next rooms.  When I decided to take my part-time massage practice full-time I knew I would have a home office setting and continue to do out-call.

I am blessed to work in a profession I love and to be able to do this in my home.  I meet a lot of wonderful, interesting people who I consider my extended family.

Where do you call home?

Last Will and Testament for Happiness?

As I approach the half century mark next year, I think more and more about mortality, among other things….

While in Monterey recently, looking for treasures at an antique store, I stumbled upon a framed copy of Williston Fish. “A Last Will.” Harper’s Weekly, New York, September 3, 1898.  

Please take the time to read the full text below.  It’s more of a will and testament for happiness.  Wouldn’t we all like to leave a little happiness behind?

https://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/exhibits/fish/original.html

 

SMILE …..

What’s in a smile?  A simple smile can turn someone’s world around.  If you don’t believe me… try it.  So, why don’t people I encounter smile more?  On the bike trail, cyclists smile… runners, not so much.  I guess that’s why I never got into running – it doesn’t look like runners are having very much fun.   To me, fellow cyclists seem so much more joyful doing their workout.  We always smile at one another or, at a minimum, nod hello.

My bf informed me from a reading a guide book to Paris, that you weren’t supposed to smile at people on the street while in Paris. If you smiled at people, the locals would think you were crazy. What?  Really?  How sad.  In Paris, I smiled anyway. Let them think I am a nut case, I don’t really care.

While in Greece, we met an Italian who had just opened a café called Dolce Vita in the neighborhood we were staying in. He commented that he wanted to have a café where everyone knew each other, said hello, and had meaningful conversation.  I liked this idea!

At a recent visit to Hidden Peak Teahouse in Santa Cruz on Monday, I was delighted to sample some sumptuous teas and frequent a establishment where electronic devices are not allowed.  I M A G I N E a public area where you can sit, enjoy some worthwhile conversation and not be interrupted by a electronic device, or see others distracted by their electronic babysitters?!?!  This makes me smile.

Cultivating Awareness

Are we drawn to certain things for a reason?

I absolutely believe so.

How is that the new perfume that I picked out, wear this year, LOVE, and get many compliments on just happens to be called: La Vie Est Belle (Life is Beautiful) a new Lancome fragrance??? Coincidence?  The concept of this fragrance is centered on the idea of natural and simple beauty, freedom from conventions and the choice of one’s own vision of happiness. The fragrance is a kind of outlook on life, inspired by joy and pleasure in small things.

On that same note, I’m doing my best to live each day awake and aware of the finiteness of life.  As I make day to day decisions, I keep asking, “If today were my last day on earth, would I be satisfied with this choice?” By doing so, I’m becoming acutely aware of what adds comfort, contentment, peace, and meaning to my life.  I’m realizing some pretty interesting things.

One thing is how little value I’ve attributed lately to the simple things that bring me immense joy – watching the birds feed from my sunroom window, listening to my wind chimes making their beautiful melody when the wind catches them,  being in the presence of my dog, since dogs have no concept of time, she is the perfect example of “living in the moment“, sleeping with an open window so I can hear the the sounds at night, or listening to the rain without doing anything but savor the sound.

It’s so easy to put all of our energy into what we’ve been conditioned to value -advancing a career, making a living, building a business, or completing our to-do lists.  In our drive to succeed, we tend to miss, (or dismiss) the events that bring us joy.  They seem only secondary, a reward after a hard days work, or a peripheral pleasure we happen to stumble upon.

I’m making pleasure a primary goal.  I’ve been tracking the little things that bring me joy for quite awhile now and it’s always a surprise at what makes the list.  Simple things.  Tiny things.  Things that often cost nothing at all.

This week, try and make an effort to become aware of the little things that make you smile.  As you notice them, pay attention to how they make you feel.  If they feel good, really good, attach value to them immediately.  Tell yourself, “This is the kind of experience that matters.  I want more of this in my life.”  Awareness is a powerful motivator for change. If you keep up this practice, you’ll start to see things change, almost effortlessly and amazing things will begin to happen in your life.

Skyros, Greece 2013

Skyros is the largest island in the Sporades group of islands.  The northern half of the island has small bays, rolling farmland and pine forests, while the southern half has arid hills and rocky shoreline.

There were many stray cats on the island.  We saw the most adorable stray Momma cat with three kittens upon our arrival at  Perigiali Studios.

The pool outside our hotel. We never stepped foot into the pool. Why would you when you had a beautiful stretch of beach and the gorgeous Mediterranean 50 km away from you???

On our first day at the hotel, I was scolded by the owner Amalia for sneaking food to the Momma.  Whoops!  I felt sorry for the Momma and since since was so thin and I saw her capturing and feeding her kittens lizards.  ;-(  Ewwww

Three little stray kittens huddling to stay warm why their Momma forages for food.

During our stay, we rented a scooter to traverse the entire island.  In my opinion, renting a scooter is the best way to get around an island since it can take you to places a car might not be able to get to.

We visited two museums while on the island:

Archaelogical Museum featured several examples of Myacenanean pottery and a traditional Skyrian house interior, transported in its entirety from the benefactor’s home.

Manos Faltaits Museum, a 19th century mansion was several floors which included Skyrian costumes, embroidery, antique furniture and ceramics, daggers, cooking pots, vintage photographs and a small gift shop.

As usual in Greece, beaches were all gorgeous here.  Swimming in the clear blue Mediterranean is always a treat.

We had a lot of excellent food here, one particular inviting place with notable fare, O Pappous kai Ego (My Grandfather and Me) we dined at had a slightly different take on a Dakos salad, my new favorite Greek salad.

Dakos Salad! Yum!!!!!