I feel like this newsletter is long overdue, especially considering all that we have been slogging through these past months. Many of you have found your way to my table since July when I started back to practice. I have been honored by your willingness to sit with me on my front porch as we chatted before and after your session, to willingly join me in hand washing before our work together, to wear a mask without question, and to openly communicate about our new COVID world. I know that you all have appreciated being able to receive body work again and I have been so glad to be part of that experience with you!
Some of you have not yet found your way back to my massage table for one reason or another. I look forward to seeing you again when the time is right. Please know that I am grateful for our work together over the years.
Tomorrow I am starting a new training in hopes that it pans out to be something to offer to you and others. It is called Yomassage and is a combination of restorative yoga, mindfulness, and massage. Although I generally try to bring these elements to the massage table as it is, this training offers the combination in a different way - clothed and on the floor with plenty of yoga props (bankets, bolsters, blocks) with an eye towards deep relaxation, mindfulness, and nurturing the soul.
Of all years, it seems like no surprise that the idea of self-care frequently finds its way into our conversations. I recently wrote about it in order to share some thoughts with you. Please scroll down to find more on that as well as some other goodies to ponder.
I so look forward to working with you in the coming year!
Here is a poem that was brought to my attention last spring when it became evident that traipsing the world wasn’t very prudent. Sometimes reframing this solitary time makes it a little more bearable.
I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man’s life
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
I will be standing in the woods
where the old trees
move only with the wind
and then with gravity.
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
Do any of you enjoy listening to Podcasts? I definitely do - while walking or driving. In the past year I listened to this interview that Brene Brown did with authors, Emily & Amelia Nagowski, of the book entitled Burnout. Stress is inevitable and sometimes it is even good for us. They discuss the concept of completing our stress cycles in order to move through our demanding lives while maintaining good health. I encourage you to listen to it. It made such an impression on me.
Self Care is Not a Selfish Act
When I was a young massage therapist, I was reluctant to ask my clients if they would like to schedule subsequent appointments for fear of being viewed as pushy, but now I understand all too clearly how obstacles in our daily lives get in the way of booking that time for our own care. For me, when I have a massage scheduled for myself on the calendar, it’s like money in the bank. That is, my bank of energy and vitality.
As a massage therapist, I think a lot about self care. Did you know that there exists the International Self Care Foundation (ISFglobal.org)? And that the WHO recognizes self care as a fundamental level of primary health care (that’s real, legit!) and views it as a major public health resource?
Self care is any activity or lifestyle choice that we make in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. I bet if asked if you take care of yourself, you would probably answer yes without much thought. But when asked about how you do that, chances are the answer may not be so easy.
Generally speaking self care is not something that just happens to us, but rather an intentional choice that we make. In its most basic form, it consists of simply getting enough sleep and eating well. Self care also extends into the realm of setting limits and incorporating ways to slow down the pace of your life.
On a daily level self care consists of taking nourishing breaks in our everyday lives. This can be as simple as stopping for a drink of water or tea, getting up to stretch, or taking a moment to connect with a loved one or friend. Over the course of a week or month we can take time to commit to more involved self care such as a yoga class, regular exercise, meditation or therapeutic massage.
For individuals who are very busy and stressed - those that feel they are always running around the gerbil wheel - it is often an element of self care that is missing. We can still be effective, accomplished, and take on a full life, but the difference between doing so in a harried and resentful way versus a graceful and balanced manner is quite often the notion of self care.
In our culture we carry around these ideas that taking time for ourselves is indulgent, time consuming, or selfish. From where I stand as a mother, wife, daughter, and massage therapist, I can finally see that the very opposite is true. Self care refuels us - fills our cup - enabling us to live with more balance. More balance inherently feels good and we naturally exude more joy and patience when in that state.
I will argue that tending to our own care will pay off in ways beyond our own self. If we feel good in our own skin, we are able to give our authentic attention to people around us or our work at hand. When we engage with the world with positivity rather than negativity, we can make a real difference.
I am honored to care for all of the people that I do. When I feel attended to and cared for myself, giving comes easily - it just flows, but when I am not managing my stresses well, generosity is a bit more difficult. Do you ever feel that way?
Yes, most self care activities are enjoyable. So instead of feeling indulgent, know that in turn, you will be able to give more of your best self to your family, your vocation, and your community. Parker Palmer said it well:
“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
Hello Dear Ones,
Since early July I have been back to practice with those of you who had missed appointments in the spring and with those who had been receiving regular massages before we inconveniently found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. It has been wonderful to see you all again! I am pleased to report that working in this new normal has actually been going quite well. I am grateful to be in a place to welcome new clients again and to encourage those of you who have been wondering about massage to come on back.
As we all know there is not one single action we can take to eliminate the risk of COVID, but the belief is that many smaller steps add up to something greater. For those of you who have been wondering what massage in the age of COVID looks like, let me lay it out:
"Move to feel better; don't wait to feel better to move."
Here's your chance to put that into practice:
A quick, effective, 10 minute (only!) session with quirky, but wise, Adriene.
Most of us have trouble with sleep on occasion. Whether you find it difficult to fall asleep or you awake at an absurd hour and toss and turn before falling asleep moments before your alarm goes off, there are lots of strategies for getting yourself back to sleep. In my experience they mostly seem to involve deep breathing and counting. I recently came across this unusual idea in Massage & Bodywork Magazine. It worked for me one night while I lay awake fretting about who knows what. Hope it works for you!
Stop the Hamster Wheel—and Sleep
You are ready to go to sleep, but your mind is spinning faster than a hamster wheel. How can you slow the pace to catch those much-needed Z’s? One effective sleep strategy we use to calm the overactive mind and harmonize the body is a self-acupressure practice called jin shin jyutsu.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the five elements correspond with the five fingers. By contacting them with the following mindful approach, we can relax and restore the free flow of circulation throughout our entire mind and body. To use this practice:
• Lie down and rest both palms on your belly, as you hold one finger with your opposite hand. It does not matter which hand or finger you start or end on, but you do want to move through each finger one at a time using your breath to help follow your body’s sensations.
• Hold each finger for 1–3 minutes each or until you feel a pulsing sensation shift in the finger being held. Hold as much of the finger as possible without squeezing it with the opposite hand, and use gentle contact. If you sense a pulsation in your finger, continue holding it until you notice it begin to steady and become calm.
Oftentimes, we fall asleep holding a finger without ever making it to all 10 fingers, and this is no problem. This is success! Sleep has come!
If you do complete all 10 fingers, you can seal the first round by placing the fingertips of each hand into the center of the opposite palm, so your palms are cupped facing one another. Maintain this circuit for a couple minutes, and then switch which hand is on top and on the bottom. If you make it through one full round, repeat again until you fall asleep.
SLEEP WHEN YOU ARE TIRED
Become masterful at living your best life by sleeping when you are tired. A busy, stressful life is the perfect excuse to rest your body. Napping and allowing for 6–8 hours of rest nightly has many benefits, including clearer thinking, enhanced immunity, increased productivity, and the probability of a healthier weight, lower blood pressure, and an increase in happiness.
SIMPLE IS SACRED
Your body is constantly communicating with you, offering at first gentle reminders that, if unanswered, can lead to clamoring, distress, or even disease. Experiencing your body as a friend who gives regular invitations and reminders to drink when thirsty, eat when hungry, and sleep when tired is one of the most essential and sacred self-awareness practices you can perform.
What messages does your body want you to hear? When you listen to your body attentively, you feel better, perform better, and are available to connect with the world around you and the people in it in nourishing ways. Simple and sacred acts of self-awareness lead to a masterful practice of self-care that provides far-reaching benefits for you and all those you help and care for.
Reed, Heath & Nichole. “Drink, Eat, Sleep: Mastering Essential - and Sacred - Self-Care practices.” Massage and Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 2020.
Greetings to you, my dear ones. I’m sure that it is no surprise to be hearing from me in these times. I have indeed decided to give our work together a break for a few weeks.
Over the past few days I have been really grappling with this decision as I looked to colleagues and therapeutic massage professional organizations (ABMP & AMTA) for their guidance and thoughts. All along my gut has been telling me to take a break. Yesterday ABMP took a firm stand encouraging us to close our practices for 3-4 weeks and then reassess. I think that is prudent advice and believe that most of you will agree.
In the meantime I encourage you to look for other ways to stay well. When I need a massage and cannot get one, I generally look to yoga. My go-to, free websites are Do Yoga With Me (doyogawithme.com) and Yoga with Adriene (yogawithadriene.com - but her YouTube channel is the best place to search for the type of class you want), both of which offer shorter and longer classes as well as guided meditation. A little bit of frequent yoga is more effective than a long session once a week, though any is better than none!
Get good sleep.
Limit media intake.
We will work together again before long, and for some of you, this might not even disrupt your massage schedule. I’ll let you know when I open my doors again. Until then take good care of your body, mind, and spirit.
Spring greetings to you all. This is the time we have long been waiting for - longer days, warmer air, and a freedom of movement in this season of hope, possibility and renewal. This time also marks a year since my family and I returned from our stay in the Chesapeake Bay region and renewed our commitment and love for Midcoast Maine. In that time I have had opportunities to reconnect, or connect for the first time, with all of you in my massage practice.
I never forget that this path of mine is indeed a “practice.” It is a constantly evolving set of skills affected by new findings and interpretations within the scientific community as therapeutic massage becomes better understood, as well as through working with each of you as individuals. Although all of you come in pursuit of better health and healing, you each also come with a unique set of goals and specific needs in each session. You all show me and teach me about the human body every week and for that I am grateful. My greatest hope is that I am able to help you all be more at home in your bodies and continue to better understand your own mind-body connection and path to being well.
This is (hopefully) the first of a series of newsletters that I will be sending to keep you in the loop regarding any changes to my schedule and to share any bits of inspiration I think that you might appreciate.
One of my big accomplishments this past winter was to put together a small website. Since technology isn’t my passion, this was a challenge for me to follow through with, but alas you can find out a little more about my practice at www.handsofjulie.com. I see it as a virtual business card for now, though perhaps down the line it will become more. Please check it out and share it as you see fit. Word of mouth referrals are the entirety of my practice and I always appreciate it when you pass my name along to the good folks in your circle.
Because I keep up my national massage license (NCBTMB), and because I enjoy learning, I am frequently taking classes to deepen my understanding of massage. Currently I am working with Whitney Lowe on an orthopedic shoulder massage course which has been a great review of anatomy and has brought a deeper awareness for me of the shoulder region and it’s pathologies. Perhaps I’ll tackle the neck or lumbar spine regions next...
I also will take one last moment to share with you a book that I found some months ago entitled How To Be Well by Frank Lipman, MD. This book has tons of tips for living a life of wellness in a format that allows you to leave it on your coffee table and visit it now and again. It is cheerfully designed and although it supplies what could feel like an overwhelming number of suggestions, he encourages a real life approach to making changes that last instead of overwhelm.
As we settle into this new and expansive season, be mindful of taking care of your body as you find yourself more active in your gardens, yards and nature in general. Enjoy the season!