On bird wings

Spring is in full force.  All the trees now wearing their new leaves. As I worked in my garden, I found myself watching a pair of mockingbirds in courtship.  How their wings fluttered a certain way as they moved from tree to tree in some sort of dance.  I had not realized what a vast array of songs they could sing.  It was like listening to an old AM radio station. A throw back to when music was not played by any specific genre. Such an unexpected delight.

My corona anniversary date came and went without much ado or time for reflection.  What I did notice was that this past year has required an insane amount of flexibility.  Some days and months going from 100 mph to a complete stop and then back to 100 mph.  It has felt like whiplash to me.  My inbox became overflowed with appointment requests from folks who now feel safe after they have gotten their vaccines. I can honestly say, “I did not see this coming.”

So, as I revisited each client’s chart, I found it had been almost one year to the date since our last session. What a homecoming March turned out to be. A welcome back of so many to the bodywork table. It has also made me realize how different each of our pandemic fatigue looks like. How we all grieve for different things that we have lost over this past year.  How there are just so many days when it is hard to find any traction to get things done and some days you just have to root yourself down.

Here is a poem I return to in times when I just need to stop for a moment and take notice. It has truly helped me thru things I have not been able to process this year.  It is my hope it will offer something similar for you.

Birdwings
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been longing to see.
Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence
is in every small contraction and expansion,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.
–Rumi

As always, in gratitude to you for taking a moment to check in with me.

In Gratitude and Health

It is difficult to believe a whole year has gone by since everything changed.  I am really grateful that so many of you have reached out to schedule bodywork after getting fully vaccinated.  Being a front-line worker, I too opted for the vaccine as soon as it was offered.  From what I have witnessed, I sure hope it can offer protection to us all and especially our most vulnerable populations.

I would love to say that things have gotten easier, but this virus is mean and nasty, and it loves to linger. In the past three months, my heart has broken more than in all my 30 years of this work.  From my vantage point, things might be starting to stabilize, yet we are still on lockdown wearing full protective gear.  The N95 mask often leaving marks on my face that last all day.  The complications from this invisible assailant seem endless.

With this said, I wish to clarify that Austin Body Therapeutic Center will continue to require face coverings for both practitioner and client.  The well-being of my clients and my community remain my top priority. 

“The disease has not abated; it is not done with us just because we are done with it.”―Dr. Erin Carlson

Seeing gratitude through Mary Oliver

When I am Among the Trees 
By Mary Oliver 
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust, 
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, 
they give off such hints of gladness. 
I would almost say that they save me, and daily. 

I am so distant from the hope of myself, 
in which I have goodness, and discernment, 
and never hurry through the world 
  but walk slowly, and bow often. 

Around me the trees stir in their leaves a
nd call out, “Stay awhile.” 
The light flows from their branches. 

And they call again, “It's simple,” they say, 
“and you too have come 
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled 
with light, and to shine.”

Time Flies

Happy Birthday ABTC!

You guessed it!  Austin Body Therapeutic Center has officially turned 21!  And we did a little table for two outdoor dinner celebration.  My first time to a restaurant since the pandemic.

Cheers!

The first signs of autumn have always inspired me.  Taking a glance back in time, fall has brought me a variety of new beginnings.  One of those happened twenty-one years ago.  And if I am honest, I just remember it being subtle and sweet.  I bought my first new home with the purpose of tucking a brand-new bodywork practice inside.  

I picked it for being the last house on a dead-end street.  Literally where the sidewalk ends.  Its entrance a covered courtyard with its only view from the massage room.  It felt like coming into a little hideaway from the city.  And though Austin has grown in leaps and bounds around us, this space still feels pretty much the same.  A safe haven. I know at the time, I didn’t even realize how important a safe haven really was.  How in order for a body to truly heal it has to feel safe.  To be truly present with another is the best gift you can offer.

So thank you all for the gift of having a practice that is still going strong because of you.  

Offering self-massage classes

Let me know if you would like your very own one-on one class or if you would like it for a small or medium sized group.  I can custom tailor any class to fit your needs.

My self-massage classes:  This is how they begin, with a room full of tools and books.  Starting with these basic questions:  What do we want to accomplish?  Which areas of the body will be most beneficial for this?  Which approaches will we take?  Which tools will we use?

2020-06-19 15.22.43-1

Who knew that this is where things were headed when our massage doors closed?

Who knew that this would work to help folks recover from both old and new injuries?

Who knew that self-massage would become such a powerful self-care tool?

Come play!

10 Amazing Lessons My Clients Have Taught Me

1. Listen to your client. They are telling you their truth and in it is how to help them. 2. If a client cannot tell me what makes them better or what makes them worse, we will not make a very good team. 3. Pain is a the body’s indicator. It doesn’t necessarily tell us where or what. More like a check engine light. Get to the shop now. 4. Structure and symmetry are important, if not more than I thought in the beginning. 5. If you find something that works- stick with it. 6. If something doesn’t work, throw it out for now. But remember to add it back into your life as soon as you can. 7. Function for each person means something completely different. That is ultimately the goal- to move freely doing the things you love. 8. It takes a village. We need lots of good practitioners in our life to keep us moving at our best. 9. I still love an eclectic approach. Sometimes a solution really needs a different tool. 10. Find what you need to heal and put it in place. As we reflect on this past year, I extend my gratitude to all of my clients and mentors for their teachings.  Remember to celebrate your own body daily! And listen to it’s messages.

Do You Choose to Be Happy?

 

choose-to-be-HappySo November has come to a close. I find this month brings both gratitude and the harvest season to mind. And believe it or not, both of these have to do with the art of healing.

According to Dr. John Demartini, your health and well being tomorrow are a result of what you do, think and believe today. He uses the golden rule to remind us that we reap what we sow. In other words, you get out exactly what you put in. Therefore, your thoughts and actions are the seeds you plant and the harvest that you grow will reflect that. So when you respect and care for your body; your body produces energy and health in return.

Dr. Demartini also says, “That being grateful is the essence of healing.” In my bodywork practice, I find this to be one of the hardest things for people to overcome with illness, pain or injury. Somehow our sense of frustration, anger, fear, and/or resentment of our current state of health often overrides our more positive perceptions. It’s hard to hold strongly to the belief that you will heal, no matter what. In my experience, those that believe they will heal do and those that harbor thoughts that something is truly wrong beyond their control seem to linger in this place.

If you feel stuck; I recommend that you check in with yourself to see if you are holding on to any of these emotions or if you blame someone else for what you are going through. It is perfectly normal to have these feelings; the goal here is to balance them out with positive thoughts. I find it helpful to write a gratitude list. When you feel challenged by how you feel about your progress with a current injury or health issue, you can pull from your list to change your outlook. Like the affirmation above, you truly can choose to be happy, as well as healthy.

“One of the most immediate ways to change your health is to change your thoughts and words.” ~ John F. Demartini, author of ‘Count Your Blessings’

Play Like No One is Watching

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ – Roald Dahl

Halloween just happens to be my favorite holiday as it gives me a hall pass to be a kid again. The further I get from the magic of those early years, the more I’ve come to need Halloween. It’s a day when you can become anyone or anything you wish. The seat belt light is officially turned off and you are free to walk about the cabin.

As I was accessory shopping for this years costume, I overheard a young girl ask her dad, “Can I be a ladybug warrior?” I thought to myself, wow those are kind of diametrically opposed. He must have thought something similar as his reply was, “I don’t think so sweetheart.” Can you imagine what kind of costume this child may have created? What would her ladybug warrior look like? One part cute and sweet and another part strong and powerful; who wouldn’t want to have those characteristics?

warrior_woman-240x300ladybugI just love to watch kids explore their environment, dogs dive into the water after a tossed stick, and cats in hot pursuit of a beam of light. They are all engaged in pure play. Stuart Brown MD has spent his career studying play. He says “We are built to play and built through play. Making it a part of our daily lives is a huge factor in being a fulfilled person. He compares play to oxygen- it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.”

Play is actually critical for children as it shapes their brain and helps them learn social skills and become better problem solvers. As an adult, because play is truly unproductive by its nature, it often gets left behind as our day to day demands take over. In multiple studies, it is noted that when play is denied over the long term our mood darkens and we lose our sense of optimism.

There is a kind of magic in play. It has the power to bring us joy, energy, a sense of ease, and opens us up to new possibilities. Relating this to bodywork, these assets are also one of the keys to healing. So from the bottom of my heart, please go play! And don’t hesitate to let me know if it made you smile and feel alive.

“Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.” ~ Swami Bua

Today is All about Balance

balance-150x150So the fall equinox came to town this morning at 4:04am (CDT). That means that autumn is officially here. Those that know me know how excited I get by a decrease in the Texas heat, and this summer has been one beyond any stretch of my imagination. Austin has now had 85 days over 100 degrees, and the last measurable rainfall in my yard was in May. It has created a whole new way for me to look at hot and dry. It has also created a whole bunch of imbalances in nature, as well as in peoples’ bodies.

I like that today represents the balance of light and dark; some yang with your yin, some good with your evil. The closer you live to the equator, the closer you will be to 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. One of the biggest myths about this day is that it is possible to balance an egg on its end due to the position of the earth’s axis in relation to the sun. Of course I tried it. Did it work at your house?

So my bodywork aficionados, what in the world does this have to do with you? Well this is the perfect time to set an intention toward balance. Balance is defined as a state of equilibrium. I like thinking about it in the concept of equanimity. How can we bring about a state of calmness or steadiness? This can be looked at broadly, as in our life, work or relationships, or more specifically as in our body, breath or movements.

The bodyworker in me is always trying to find a way to bring harmony to the body. And what I know is that it starts and finishes with you, the client. My job is to get your nervous system to quiet down long enough for you to listen. We may not perfectly understand what our body is trying to tell us, but it will definitely give some insight on areas that need attention. Even on a day closer to pure black and white, your body may still speak in shades of gray. When you are calm, all you have to do is listen to the whispers.

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.” ~ Wu-men

Take Your Massage Off the Table

smiley-150x150In massage school, every one of my instructors constantly reminded us to remember to receive bodywork after graduation. I would laugh inside at how silly this sounded, like I could forget to get a massage, how is that even possible. And then massage becomes your profession, and like everything you are supposed to do, it too can get put on the back burner.

So when the opportunity presents itself, I grab that slot on the table. It becomes a treasured time and space. Most importantly it is an hour that I give myself. The key of course is to make it last! Here are some thoughts about ways you can take that massage back to everyday life.

1. Now is all there is: I feel an important part of bodywork is bringing yourself back into the present moment. Let go of focusing on how you should feel or how you used to feel, but instead explore this place where you are right now. This moment is the only one we have, remember to use it wisely.

2. Relax and trust:I’ve found that perhaps the deepest source of suffering is the feeling of being flawed, the belief that “something is wrong with me.”’~ Tara Brach. The massage table should be a safe haven for you to let your guard down. Go ahead and notice the areas you hold onto in your body, but don’t beat yourself up for your imperfections. Just notice the sensations and thoughts that arise and breathe. Remember that you already have everything you need to heal.

3. Make space for the positive: The unlearning of old patterns is what creates freedom in our lives as well as our bodies. While you have this wonderful time available, pay attention to your thoughts. See if you can change them to a positive or just let them go as your tissues are being released. These mental changes are a huge contribution to your own healing process. Anytime you find you are really beating yourself up, remember to come back to the positive.

4. Breathe when things get challenging: Have you ever noticed that you hold your breath when you are stressed? When your breath is compromised, you will create tension and pain. Just by not breathing you instill a big challenge on the body’s ability to heal itself. Now is a beautiful time to really focus on your breath! First, notice your exhale. If you remember to breathe out fully, the inhale will take care of itself. Pay attention to how often you hold your breathe in a given day.

5. Smile! And flaunt those face cradle creases! It will remind someone else that it is time to get on the table.