Good afternoon,

As many of you may know my niece is in Gambia, West Africa doing a 2 year post with the peace core. Her latest essay I found to be profound and ironic. What we westerners seek, the Gambia people have already found, and it is a great lesson in who is teaching who.  Please read on….

September Essay from The Gambia

Author: Ashely Garrison

Sweat is pouring off my face. It seems to splash on the damp earth at
my feet. My arms ache and my right hand seems to be permanently molded
to the handle of my hoe. My back screams at me and my legs complain at
every step. I look over at Fatou, and  though she is sweating,
she doesn’t seems to notice. She is even humming a tune, keeping up a
steady pace. We are in the peanut field, weeding. I ignore the sweat
and try to keep up with Fatou, who is already doing three times more
work than I am.
I use the blade of my short handled hoe to scrape the earth around and
between each peanut plant, and then pull every weed from the row. I
put my mind to the repetition of the motions, and ignore everything
else. Every now and then, I raise my head to see how much farther I
have to go, but it’s a losing game; it hurts to lower my head, and I’m
never as far as I think I should be!
The peanut field is about 2/3 hectare, or almost the size of a
football field, just rows and rows of peanut plants. In the last week
Fatou has been coming everyday for three to four hours to weed. The
field is about half done, but I’m convinced it’s the big half… When we
are finally finished for the day the sun is setting and the rain
clouds are rolling in. We barely make it back before the rain starts
to fall.
At first I thought I would be in the Gambia to teach, to serve, to
impart my knowledge and experience to those with none. Now I find
myself barefoot in a field, using tools and methods that haven’t
changed since the Iron Age. Extensive education and training does not
make up for a lifetime of tradition and practice. Fatou farms the way
she does everything else, with all her attention and effort, and
without the slightest indication that she would rather be doing
something else.
And I ruefully look at myself, tired and cranky. Knowing that I could
go back to my hut whenever I want. Knowing that I have no
responsibility to finish weeding. Knowing that in all likelihood, I
am actually slowing Fatou down; that she could be going much faster
without me. It is a humbling experience. So, to make up for my
inexperience I resolve to work harder, not complain and be open to the
lessons Fatou can teach me. I put my head down, ignore the blisters on
my hand, and ask Fatou to teach me a mandinka work song.
I like to think that I am doing the ‘development’ work I thought I
would at the beginning of my service, but eight months later I see in
many ways I am very mistaken. I am the one learning, being taught and
served. My afternoons in the fields bring me closer to my community;
give me some small experience doing their work. I can tell Fatou is
proud to have me work in her field by the way she brags to the other
women that I know how to weed. They ask me to come to their fields
and I just grin.
The earth is warm beneath my bare feet and I feel completely part of
my world. I may not be teaching my village how to be ‘developed’ but
I am learning how to be a part of their community. The development
work will come later.

Much peace and Love ~R

Massage Fun Facts

Massage may be one of the oldest forms of medical care- Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged.

There are approximately 5 million touch receptors in our skin- 3,000 in a finger tip.

Massage is not a luxury, it is necessary to sustain well-being: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

A one hour massage equates to 7-8 hours sleep for the body.

Bob Hope lived to be 100 years old. Supposedly he had a daily massage. Connection?

If you receive a massage every week, you will have 2/3rds less illness.  Hans Gruen, MD

There is a growing body of research that shows massage therapy can alleviate the pain of many conditions, including cancer, osteoarthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Approximately 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches, and of those, more than 60% suffer from migrains. A 2006 study in the Annals of Behavioral medicine showed that those who received massage therapy had fewer migrains for more than three weeks following treatment.

The results from a study on low back pain, published in 2003 Annals of Internal Medicine,  showed that massage therapy reduced the patient’s need for pain medications by 36%, compared to other therapies, including acupuncture. This is great news for more than 100 million Americans who experience low back pain.

Bottom line, massage is effective in pain relief and is beneficial as a stress-reducer and wellness measure.  In reality, massage therapy in an integral component of an overall health maintence plan.

See, massage is good for you. It has long lasting effects too.

Running and the commonality of Life

I don’t know who is reading this, if anyone, but like everything, you just go ahead and do it anyway.

I started running again after 10 years of no running. It has been difficult and a long journey, very much like life. I thought I knew what I was doing since I have done it before. I have run two marathons and two halves. Well, that was when I was younger and this body is not the same. So is life, I have gotten to relearn many things along the way. Sometimes you think you know what you are doing, just to learn that the rules have changed, your body has changed or you are just not the same person.

In running, sometimes you get hurt. My legs are sore from running and the increase of miles. I have done my stretching, getting massage and alas, still sore. Life is like that to. Sometimes you get hurt, or you hurt others, even though you think you are doing all the right things.  Eventually in running, my body will adjust and the miles will go by with ease. So as in life, the things I do today will be accumulative and it will get easier. Writing this blog will get easier, running my business will get easier, committees will get easier, as will running.

In running, I need to adjust to the terrain and be flexible. Sometimes I run on a hard surface and other times on a trail. Sometimes I think I am going out for a short run and go long, and vice versa. Sometimes I am running with people and other times I am alone.  I am always with my mind, which sometimes is telling me I am doing great and other times, like this past weekend, it tells me how much the run sucks.

Life is full of the same challenges andrequires the same flexibility,  it becomes important in the training to train both the mind and the body. It is great to have a mantra for life and the run that keeps you focused,  upbeat and on course, one that gets you out there  each day. Having a mantra that gets you out of bed each day to start again, something that keeps the negative mind away.

I read somewhere that you do not become a good runner by running, you become a good runner because you have determination and perseverance. I think that is the same with life. I will add discipline to that formula too. To be a good person, business person, a good coach, a good massage therapist, wife, mother, etc. you need to have the disicipline to get up each day and start again. Determined to do the best you can and to persevere no matter what the trail has to offer. It is just running after all and it does get easier.

The Importance of Breath

Let’s talk about breath.  As a massage therapist, when people come lay on my table I can tell what their breathing pattern is like. Are they breathing shallow, full belly breaths or some where in between. You may ask why is this important? Good question. There are several reasons why how you take a breath is important. From a body, muscular aspect; if you are breathing shallow, meaning your tummy and chest is not moving, you are actually using your auxiliary muscles to breath. Those muscles are located in your neck. Using these muscles to breathe, can cause them to be over used, stressed and tight, which only adds to the tension in your neck, shoulders and head. Any muscle that attaches your head to the rest of your body is a potential headache muscle.

This kind of breathing makes it look like you are holding your breath. We have a saying in massage; “hold your breath, hold the pain”. Holding your breath can make your bodywork more painful and your life. When you do not get enough oxygen to your cells, brain and muscles, you are not operating at your best. You lack clarity, ability to make decisions, energy is low and you may feel tired and clumsy.  Emotional stress rises, along with anxiety and physical stress. All things that I see an increase in these days in my office with clients. So breathing is life sustaining and very important. A good body breath should fill and move both your chest and your tummy. You can check yourself easily, by placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy to see what moves, then make adjustments from there.

The is another form of breath that is equally important, this is the Higher Mind Breath. It is a specific breath technology developed by a woman from Australia. This breath is not a body breath, but a mind breath. It is a three part breath that dissolves the unconscious. What is the unconscious? All that negativity in your head, and life. The negativity  that you say about yourself, others and what others say about you. This negativity is called the negative mind. The negative mind tells you all that your are not. This specific breath, brings you back to your core which is love and self-acceptance. In doing this breath you will operate from a place of love and wisdom.

If you would like to learn more about breathing and the Higher Mind Breath, give me a call and set up an appointment. I would love to hear from you.

In the mean time, have a great day and keep breathing deep.

Luxury or Necessity

Today I am full of questions regarding self care. How do you define self care or care of self?  Do you do care of self? What kinds of things do you do for care of self?

What I have heard people do for care of self are things like: Go to happy hour with friends, drink alcohol, eat, watch T.V., go for a motorcycle ride, out on the boat, exercise, sleep, retail therapy.  When you are in pain, do most of you take a pain reliever, like Advil, or something stronger by prescription? When you are in emotional pain, do you take a prescription from your doctor for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep aids,  etc?  When you are stressed out do you get crabby and yell at your kids, or other loved ones? Do you hide at home? DO you turn into a workaholic? Do you get sick and need to go to the doctor or take more over the counter meds?

Do you do care of self once you are all wound up, crazy, overwhelmed or before you get to that point?

How much do you spend on your self care activities a month? Lets take a small look. If you go to the bar, have 2 beers at $4.00 each, 3 nights a week, thats a total of $24.00. Take Advil, vitamins, tums, icy hot every week, that may be about $25.00, retail therapy- $50.00, that’s cheap, work out dvd vs- gym membership $15.99, running shoes-$70-90, gas for boat $48.40, gas for motorcycle-$7.26.  that is a total of $240.00 already.

What if you get sick? do you have a co-pay of $25.00 per visit and $25.00 per script, that’s $50.00 Or are you like me, independent so I don’t have a co-pay, I get to pay for the full visit- $150.00 to see the Doctor, not to mention meds, ex-rays etc.

What are the side effects to some of these things? If I exercise, that is good for me, but I could get hurt, more doctors. Medications come with all kinds of side effects that are often worse than what you are taking them for. If I drink, I could have a large bar tab, become an alcoholic, drive impaired, etc. If I eat, I may gain weight… You get the picture.

Where can you go to get all this: Safe environment, boost immune system, pain relief, improve circulation, improve mood, lower blood pressure, lift depression, lift anxiety, increase mental clarity, increase mental focus, hour to self, relaxation, relieve stress, prevent injuries, restore strength, improve flexibility, improve range of motion, human contact, touch, relieve tight and sore muscles, aid in detoxification, increase health, decrease doctor visits, restore proper body function through your whole body and so much more.. How much would you pay for all this?

Massage can provide all this and more for only $75.00.  Plus you walk away feeling like a million bucks. How much of what you do does that for you? The new shoes, yeah I feel great, til I need the next great pair. Dinner, yeah I am full, satisfied, don’t feel like a million. How long does the good feeling last on those things you buy for $75.00? Is it fleeting or have long lasting effects?

Massage is about maintenance for your body. We maintain our cars, take them in for tune ups, oil changes, rotate tires. All this to help them run better, last longer and be more fuel efficient. Your body needs regular maintenance too, massage can help you function and feel better, maintain your health, keep your energy up and live longer. All for $75.00. The benefits of massage have long lasting effects also, you massage maintenance is cumlative. Where else can you get a deal like that? Can you  afford not to care for yourself with massage? So is massage really a luxury or is it a neccessity…

New Day

Well, today, sunday, is a new day. It started sunny and bright and ended that way. It was this way outside and inside my mind because I chose it to be.  This is a big world and I have one very small corner of it, so why not make that corner beautiful…..

Why not choose to see peace instead of something else? Whynot think that the world if FOR us, not against us? Why not do what works for you instead of comparing what you do vs- someone else? The is alot of people and business out there and people come to you based on how you do something vs-how someone else does it. Comparing only makes us feel small and inadequate.  There is always another way to look at things.

In this new day, I renew my commitment to myself and my loved ones to be myself and not someone else, after all that is who you all know is me, with all my quirks. I am thankful to the people and situations that provide me an opportunity to look at myself and keep me pure, me.  I am thankful to those who provide me the opportunity to look at the situation differently and to look for peace. It is all about choice, no mistakes, just feedback.

What will you be committed to today? What will you choose?

Thank you world.

Massage more than ever

With the markets all over the place, massage is needed more than ever. Think of it as a long term investment, an investment in your health!  They say when you have your health you have everything.  Making choices today about your health, and making good healthy habits a daily practice translates into better health tomorrow.

Massage not only feels good, it helps you make better decisions, cope with extra responsibilities, and who doesn’t have those right now. Massage helps you maintain harmonious relationships, at work and at home and keeps you on an even keel emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Research supports the value of massage and has shown it to boost your immune system, improve circulation, concentration, energy, self-esteem, and sleep.  Reduce anxiety, fatigue, the flow of stress hormones and decrease the frequency of headaches, just to name a few.

So with all these great things that massage can do, time to book a massage and keep yourself healthy and in the game of life.  See you soon.


Gambia Time

Good afternoon, below you will find a story from my niece, Ashley,  who is currently in Gambia, West Africa for a two year tour with the Peace Core. Talk about being a beginner! I received this entry from my sister yesterday and found it to be very interesting, I have shorten it some, please read on…

Notes from Gambia: There are days when I can walk to the roadside and catch a car within five minutes. Then there are days like today… The main forms of public transportation are the many 15-20 person vans called gelly gellys that drive the highway, from city to city, picking up and unloading passengers and goods along the way. The gelly gelly is a temperamental vehicle; prone to breaking down if you look at it crossways. ..The interior is stripped down, with benches covered in cracking vinyl and daylight through holes in the floor. ..On this fine day in March, I head to the roadside to hail a gelly gelly into town. It’s 10 am, I have a good chance of catching a car quickly, I think. After greeting the men sitting at the roadside I settle in. No cars are passing so I wait. And wait. And wait. Two potential cars come by and stop, but Gambian men in a greater rush than I race to the cars and fill them. Finally, a gelly gelly stops with room for everyone waiting. I’ve been at the roadside for almost two hours. I hurriedlyjump on before they drive off without me. Almost two kilometers up the road we stop. Yes, a mere 2 K. The stop is unscheduled, as we are in the middle of the bush, and the motor has stopped running for some reason. The passengers grumble as the hood is raised and the driver and his assistant fiddle with something and the scent of diesel/something burning fills the cab. Within 15 minutes the motor is running and we are back in business! (Keep in mind my destination is only 20 K away. I could have ridden there on my bike twice by now.) I think we’re home free. Usually there’s only one breakdown per gelly gellyride. But alas, 8 K later we blow a tire. One thing I will say is that the driver and his assistant could give NASCAR Crews a run for their money. They are fast and efficient at changing tires. Finally we make it into the city and I hop off at the market. I have been in transit for almost three hours. It’s been an adventure pretty typical for the Gambia. I’m finding that life here runs at the same pace as a gelly gelly ride. A trip that should take 30 minutes takes 3 hours. Meetings get postponed, but life happens, you get there eventually. As an American used to getting what I want when I want it, or within a reasonable time, this is a hard change to adjust to. It’s frustrating, but I have to remember to slow down, not worry about the time, and enjoy the crazy ride I’m on.

I find her last statement to be the most revealing about all of us. So I started to think, when did I want something NOW, when have I been in such a great hurry? Don’t we as she says; “eventually get there”. What about spending time in the present moment, as they say that is all we have, the present. As Americans we are use to getting our way, always be accessible, what is the big hurray? We will get there eventually so why not enjoy the crazy ride and have fun..


Good afternoon, so after I posted yesterday, I thought about more what it meant to be a beginner.  What does that mean? What thoughts arise about being a beginner? How does it feel to be a beginner? Am I comfortable with being a beginner? What do I feel in my body when I’m a beginner?

Being a beginner is different for each of us. For me it means that I get to make mistakes, it means that I am not so sure about what I am doing and get to learn as I go. I have learned that I don’t mind being a beginner at some things like this, and other things I dislike being a beginner at, like a massage modality, there I wan to be as good as the instructor right away. My body feels comfortable when I am ok being a beginner, when I don’t like being a beginner, my body feels tight and tense, I get frustrated, short tempered.. you get the picture.

Ask yourself the above questions, what is your experience of being a beginner? What can you learn from being a beginner and apply to your life.

What I do know is that we are all beginners at things all through our lives, just because we are adults, does not mean we stop learning and get it all right all the time. So here is to learning new things and being beginners. Lets enjoy the ride together.