Monday, October 15, 2012

Subtle changes

It's been a fun autumn here in Moon Valley, there's a grove of maple trees behind our house and the fall colors are incredible. The light reflecting off the leaves into our house beckons me to come outside and enjoy the weather! The changes day to day are so subtle, but if I pay attention, I notice that the forest is a little more orange each day and there's more light coming through the canopy.  This is also how I approach my clients on the massage table.  The changes in a tense muscle can be so quiet, if I'm not paying attention, it's easy to miss. Recently, I was working hard on a client who just couldn't relax. Intuitively, I lightened up, and felt for the subtle movement of the muscle I was working on. Then I gradually applied a little bit of pressure, followed the movement and held the light pressure while the client took a few deep breaths, and the muscle released. You can't force the muscles to relax any more than you can force a green leaf to turn orange overnight. Now, I've got some fall foliage to admire!

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to identify and treat poison ivy

I’ve seen several wicked patches of poison ivy growing along trails at several of my favorite hiking spots this summer. Poison Ivy comes in many forms, which is one of the main reasons it can be so hard to identify.  It can grow as a shrub, a vine, or a single plant; and it can grow everywhere.

Leaves of three…?
Poison Ivy always comes in leaves of three. but so do many common plants. 
Here are some other ways to identify it.
  • The center leaf always sticks out more and is slightly bigger than the other two leaves.
  • The two side leaves grow directly from the main stem.
  • The stem is reddish.
  • The leaves tend to be a bright to dark green when viewed from above. When viewed from underneath, they appear lighter and fuzzier. 
  • In spring and summer, the leaves are usually a bright green, in fall they turn red.

Got it anyway?
Here are some natural ways to treat poison ivy:
Aloe Vera Gel- Apply it on affected area to cool and prevent scarring.
Tea Tree Oil- Apply to the affected area to dry out the oil.
Goldenseal Root Powder- This herb draws out the oil and dries it up.  Make a paste and apply it like calamine lotion.  (You can find goldenseal root powder in the bulk section at both Clovers Markets in Columbia.)

Is poison ivy growing in your yard? 
How to get rid of it without chemicals:
White Vinegar- Spray the leaves with undiluted white vinegar, do not soak the ground.  If the plant hasn’t started dying in a few days, reapply.
Boiling Water- Another option if you just have a few stubborn plants or vines in flowerbeds or near walkways.  Take a pan of boiling water and slowly pour it on the base of the plant.  This might take a few applications over a few days, but will eventually do the trick.

If you live on a lot of land, the Missouri Department of Conservation recommends that you leave some for the birds.  The berries and foliage are a popular food for songbirds, small mammals, and deer during fall migration and in winter when other foods are scarce. If you can leave thickets or swags of this plant in remote areas on your property, your wildlife will appreciate it. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Queen Bee still reigns... jubilee!

Jacob and I spent some time in the bee yard this past weekend.  I've seen hundreds of bees clustered on the outside the hive and have wondered if it's too hot in there for them.  We staggered the boxes a bit to help facilitate air flow and added a nearby water source.
This time last year, we noticed that the cells had two or more eggs in them, which indicated that worker bees were laying their own eggs because the queen was either sick, or dead.  The worker bees only produce drones, which are the male bees.  The sole purpose of the drones is to mate with the queen in the springtime.  In the fall, they're kicked out of the hive by the worker bees.  The worker bee population dwindles as it gets cooler, and since the hive isn't packed with bees to keep the temperature above freezing, they are unable to survive through winter.  We discovered this problem just before we left for vacation, so we weren't able to reintroduce a new queen in time.  This was a disappointing setback.  When something goes wrong with one hive, you have to wait almost a whole year to start over again. 
But it's a new year, and our skills are better than they've ever been.  This weekend we saw many of the queen's eggs and larvae.  We hope to add a super (to collect honey for us!) in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A technology detox.

I've been striving for a simplified life.  One where I can enjoy every minute, and be present for my six month old son.  Too much time with technology has turned my brain to mush and I've become addicted to information.  I look at it when I nurse, when I'm about to go to bed, when I wake up, even when I'm playing with him.  I've come to the conclusion that this is bad for us!  He is the one that deserves the most of my attention, not this distracting shiny apple box.  

In an effort to end this, I've done three things.

I turned off all notifications on my phone except for voicemail and texts.
I keep technology out of the bedroom.
I minimized my apps.

So far so good.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy the evening.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tips on how to get a massage.

Many people who are getting a massage for the first time ask me how they should prepare, or what they should bring.  Here are some suggestions on what massage therapists appreciate from their clients, and ways for you to get the most out of your massage.  I've come across several Do and Don't lists lately, but instead of commanding, I'm asking Please and Thank you.

  • If it's your first time with a new therapist, arrive 5-10 minutes early to get settled in, fill out the intake form, and discuss any pain you have. 
  • Inform the therapist if you have any open sores anywhere.  It's summertime, bug bites happen.
  • Are you sick?  Call to cancel your appointment as soon as you can. Massage therapists shouldn't work when they're sick, it's unethical.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  At Moon Valley, there are stairs to descend after the massage.  I would feel horrible if you came in wearing heels, got all relaxed and took a tumble on the steps afterwards
  • Let me know about any major surgeries or injuries you've had within the last 5-10 years so I can modify the treatment accordingly.
  • Talking is okay, but not required.  I'm happy to let you drift off in to relaxation, or even to sleep!  But I also understand if you enjoy talking.  I'll take your lead, if you want to talk, great!  If not, I will focus all my attention on helping you relax. 
  • Jewelry is beautiful, but unnecessary for a massage.  Please remove it before the session begins. I wouldn't want to get it all oily, or disrupt the flow if I have to ask you to take it off.
  • Ladies, I'm not offended your hairy legs or armpits.  I too get lazy with the razor and let my own legs get stubbly now and then.
  • Your safety is our priority.  If something doesn't feel right, either physically, or mentally, speak up!  I've heard of some recent news where women were molested by therapists who were practicing illegally.  Although I assure you that wouldn't happen here, please be smart when you go to a new therapist.  Look for a license posted in the waiting room or massage room, in Missouri, it's the law to publicly display this information with a picture.  Also, look online for reviews to help you make your decision about wether or not to go to a particular therapist.  If you feel unsafe, or in danger, ask to end the session immediately.  If someone ever tells you "I need to do this to help you heal" after you've informed them to stop, that's bullshit.  It's our ethical duty to listen to you and respect your feelings. 
Thank You!
Ways to thank us.
  • At Moon Valley we do accept tips, but they're not expected. A typical gratuity for a massage is about 20%.     
  • The best compliment for any therapist, is for you to tell your friends.  Even a shout out on Facebook makes us feel warm and fuzzy. 
  • We also love seeing people come out of the massage room with a blissful look on their face.
Take these tips into consideration and your next massage will surely be a huge success, for you and your therapist!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Escape to Moon Valley

Sometimes, for my job, I travel off site to give massages.  Although I am happy to do this, I feel my massages are the best in my studio.  There's a lot of good energy there, it's a clean, safe environment, and I know where everything is.  When I'm off site, my attention is distracted from my client by the drive, setting up my equipment, and adapting to a new environment in a short amount of time.
At my studio, I am in my element.  If my client walks through the door and had a stressful day, I can grab my lavender oil and put a few drops on the sheets.  If they slept on their neck wrong, I can toss a rice bag in the microwave and apply some heat to loosen it up before I work on it.  If the weather's nice, I can open the windows.  If it's too bright, I can close the curtains.  If anything seems off, I have the freedom to adjust it to create balance and harmony in the studio.  These things, although not necessary, are part of the experience of getting a massage.  You come to Moon Valley to escape the stress of your every day, and  unfortunately, I can not create that in your home, or office.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My husband and I went looking for a new car yesterday.  We set off in the morning armed with Car Fax, interest rates, places we wanted to visit, and cars we wanted to drive. We drove around all day being schmoozed by salespeople and captivated by cars that were way out of our price range.  We felt like we were on the television show House Hunters, only without a helpful narrator.

About midday, we took a break from our car hunt and stopped at a place called Sump Coffee, on Jefferson Avenue in South City St. Louis, to hash out some car decisions.  Jacob and I really dug the bar made of salvaged boards and concrete countertops.  The atmosphere was simple, so as not to detract from the coffee. We ordered two hand brewed coffees and sat down while they made them for us.  Hot water was manually poured over the ground beans slowly and served to us in decanters with small coffee cups.  It was pretty high class.  I was afraid to ask for my usual half and half accompaniment, but it turns out, I didn't need it.  The coffee was light and roasted well, it didn't taste bitter at all.

After our pit stop at Sump, we continued on our quest for our new car.  I 'll remember Sump coffee as an oasis in the middle of a crazy, stressful, major decision making day.
...We also found a car within our price range and we are thrilled about it.  I call this weekend, a success!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bee Calm!

Last year in the bee yard, I got stung on the back of my hand.
That was my memory as I checked on the hive for the first time this year; a bee landed on my hand and my first reaction was to JUMP and shake my hand.  My second reaction was to laugh, because I wouldn't be a beekeeper if I was afraid of getting stung.
As I kept working, I grew more comfortable and forgot about being stung.  When I stopped being afraid, I was able to remember the beauty of what I was doing.

Checking a beehive has turned into one of my favorite things.  I let my mind take a rest while I go through the motions of lighting the smoker and pulling out each frame one by one to admire the productivity.    


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Busy is a state of mind.

I notice people rushing around more in my daily interactions with people.  Some of my clients rush in (late) to relax for an hour, or half hour, then they rush on to the next thing they have scheduled (shortly after their massage appointment). 
Why don’t they schedule more time for themselves?
I’m beginning to realize that Busy is a state of mind.

I often hear complaints about people being too busy.  They say it every time. 
Do people really like to be busy?
It may make us feel important, but does it make us successful?

In an effort to un-busy my life, I’ve been allowing plenty of time between my massages so I’m relaxed and refreshed for my next client. If your massage therapist is stressed out, how can that be a relaxing experience for you?  I plan ahead for the next day, having my clean sheets and a bottle of water by the door, and my lunch ready to grab in the fridge.  If I have errands to run, I have a list of what I need to get done.  This may sound like a drag, but it has helped me lead a more balanced life.

Since I have a young child now, almost every day I hear someone say: “Time goes so fast doesn’t it?”  Well, I have picked up the pace a bit, but that doesn’t mean I need to speed through and forget to enjoy the everyday routines and developments.  It’s been 17 weeks since Barry was born, and to me, it feels like, 17 weeks.  I’m fortunate to have a lifestyle where I can take time to be with my Son and revel in the mundane.

Next time you’re coming in for a massage, schedule enough time afterwards to kick your feet up with a refreshing beverage to further enhance the benefits.
….And the next time someone asks you how you’re doing, tell them that you’re living a balanced life!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Who takes care of you?

Since Barry was born, I've continued to take pretty good care of myself.   All things I enjoy, I can do with Barry, or while he's sleeping.  But rarely do I get to go out and have time for me.  .... Let me rephrase that: Rarely do I allow myself to go out and have time for me.  But I'm getting better. After a few weeks of feeling angry with my husband for going out with friends once a week, I realized that my anger was totally unjustified.  I too, have the ability to leave the house for an hour or two.  My baby needs me, but I need me too!  I don't have to feel like a bad mom if I go out for coffee with a friend, or get a massage.
I'm sure every new mother experiences a time when she believes she's the ONLY one who can care for her baby; it's a powerful feeling to be the sole caregiver.  Moms, you may not know this, but fathers are totally capable of sharing the "babyload" when they're home.  They don't have boobs, but they can still offer comfort to baby (and mom!), change diapers, do laundry etc, etc, ETC!  They have as much responsibility for the baby and household chores as mom does.  Please, give them some credit! 
Taking care of yourself by doing things that make you feel happy will make the whole family happier.  But, of course, coming home to Barry is the most exciting part of my day!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nice People: the story of a lost blanket

   A few weeks ago, Barry and I went to the Capitol Building to encourage State Representatives to support a Bill promising more protection for Midwives in Missouri and insurance coverage for people choosing to have a home birth.  We took cookies and talked to a lot of nice Legislative Assistants.  When it was time to go, I discovered I had misplaced Barry's cowboy blanket.  We looked all over the place and couldn't find it.  I gave my name and address to a few people in case it turned up, but I wasn't expecting to see it ever again.
   We are quite fond of horses and all things "Old West" in our household, and we got this blanket as a gift from Nana, complete with a matching hat and onesie.  When we got home from our outing, I emailed the company where it came from Mad Boy Los Angeles explained what happened and a request to order another blanket (I couldn't find their blankets on the website, I think it was a special holiday deal if you ordered clothes).  It turns out, they were as upset as I was and, after a few comforting emails, they overnighted us a new blanket for free!  
   The day we received the new blanket, I was contacted by someone who found the Original blanket at the Capitol letting me know they were sending me the original lost blanket. 
How amazing!  I love nice people.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Barry's Birth

Early Labor began on Saturday Dec 17 in the late morning.  After a whole day of contractions, things died down in the evening.
I had a massage on Tuesday and my therapist taught me some acupressure points to induce labor.  During the massage I had a psychic moment with my child.  I could feel him thinking and prepare himself for something big.  Almost as if he was saying, “I’m ready!”
Early labor began again on Wednesday December 21.  We spent the day getting our Christmas gifts ready, walking, and dancing to Van Morrison.  Thursday, the Winter Solstice! My contractions were still happening regularly, although spaced far apart.  Jacob and I got up early that morning; we knew Barry was coming soon! A fire was lit in the fireplace, we went out to welcome the Sun, and spent the day napping and enjoying each other’s company.  We took a walk and climbed the biggest hills in the neighborhood.  Contractions began to get more intense and closer together.
8:00pm  Dec. 22
That night, Jacob read a book out loud to help me take my mind off the contractions, but it wasn’t working.  He called the Midwives and our Doula and told them I was close to active labor.  We went to bed and tried to sleep.  A few hours later, I had a pretty huge contraction and felt something burst behind my cervix; it felt like a small warm water balloon.  Jacob called everyone again.
11:00pm Dec 22           
My Doula asked if I needed anything.  “Oranges!” I exclaimed.  She arrived just in time.  I was beginning to feel really out of control and unable to manage the pain.  The Doula showed Jacob where to press on my lower back, reminded me to keep my voice low in my abdomen, and started putting cold washcloths on my neck.
… I had forgotten about the oranges.
12:00am Dec 23
When the Midwives arrived, I was already feeling the urge to push.  I was soothed by the calm attitude everyone brought to the room.  No one was rushing, and everyone was being quiet and helpful.  They asked if I wanted them to check my dilation, but I wasn’t in the mood to stay in one position for that long, let alone lay on my back for a contraction.  A few hours into it, my water broke with a big gush. I guess the first burst was just a leak?  By this point, I tuned everything out, with the exception of helpful advice.  I spent a lot of time pushing on the toilet and on the birthing chair.
My birth team kept saying “good job!”, and “that’s it!”   This gave me the impression he was crowning, but when I reached down to feel him and discovered his head was still way up there, I got a little discouraged.  I kept pushing, but was getting tired.  I started to fall asleep between my contractions.
My Doula spoon-fed me some honey, and I eagerly took it.  That was the energy boost I needed to continue to give strong pushes.  Finally, the baby started crowning.  I was glad to start feeling what everyone calls “the ring of fire”.  It hurt like hell, but at least I knew he was almost here.  Jacob took a peek and saw his head coming out.  The enthusiasm and emotion in Jacob's voice when he told me Barry had hair was another energy boost to bring Barry into the world.  I was pushing on the birthing chair and began to say “Yes!”  The positivity made everything more bearable.
4:43am Dec. 23
After several long minutes, Barry’s head came out, along with his tiny fist pressed against his temple.  After his shoulders, I thought the rest of him would just slide right out, but I had to keep pushing him all the way.  When he came out, I was helped onto the bed and Barry was set onto my chest.  He kept sliding up to my chin and all I could do was laugh as he found a comfortable position to rest his head.  He was grunting and lifting his head to look around.  I was so happy that the end result of all that work was lying on my chest and we were both alive and healthy!
The placenta came out with a few more light pushes.  It felt warm and oozy as it came out and it was such a relief; labor was over.  I lost a lot of blood, so I was asked to hold off on nursing for a bit while I got my strength back.  I had an orange and more spoonfuls of honey.  A frozen Shakespeare’s pizza was put in the oven, and I had some of that too.  When I could sit up without feeling dizzy, I was helped into a warm bath to clean up. Jacob got to bond with Barry, while I ate more pizza in the tub.
I came back to bed and the midwives measured and weighed Barry. He was 10lb. 22” long! I nursed him for the first time and he latched on like a pro! The next goal was for me to pee, I hadn’t done that since active labor began.  Not peeing was frustrating, they tried to catheterize me, but I was too swollen, they couldn’t find my pee hole! After nursing, I was helped back to the tub and took a fresh bath.  I tinkled a little on the toilet, it was more like a dribble, but it was something!
10:20am  Dec. 23
When the Midwives were confident that I was all right, they cleaned up and left us to rest and marvel at our perfect baby.
It was an incredible experience; my birth team was amazing!  When it really started getting heavy, my instincts turned off my thinking brain and I went with what felt right.  When I was entering active labor, if I would have had a nice nurse put their hand on my shoulder and gently say “Would you like some drugs dear?”, I probably would have caved and said yes. But since I didn’t have a choice, my endorphins kicked in and I forgot about anything other than the task at hand.
Barry only lost 6 ounces and was 6 ounces over his birth weight when the midwives weighed him on their 4 day visit.  What a chunk!