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Wednesday Wind Down: Self-care

Good Morning, Sweethearts.

Serendipity entitled this post because that is what happened unexpectedly last Wednesday evening. I’m convinced that I fell asleep in nanoseconds.

After an insightful yet sensitive roundtable about race relations and current events, my social self smiled and exhaled in another healthy example of communication. It went well but unbeknownst to me, my introverted self was on a timer and she didn’t power down.

She plummeted.

God kept my drowsy eyes open until I made it home. As soon as I clumsily unlocked the door, I immediately pulled my shoes off like I was allergic to their soles and I fell face first into the couch. I remember this moment. I remember my body sinking into the cushions. Then, I remember waking up… without talking to you. I told myself “They’ll understand” and I went back to sleep. It was by far the best sleep I had experienced in weeks.

So, where does that leave you? It made me want to share four personal tips I use to keep myself grounded. Mind you, it doesn’t mean I am oblivious to what is going on (you can tell that from my other posts). It means that I’ve learned how to ground myself so I am not easily tossed to and fro in the tsunami of social media, industry standards, personal relationships, health issues, and anything else that can throw a dodgeball at me. Check out these four things I do on a regular basis.

My Self-Care Regulars

1) I massage my feet before bed every night. As a teaching/performing artist, my feet are my carriers. Not only are my pedicures non-negotiable, but my feet take so much impact in a day that showing them some love is not an option. Peppermint oil lotion or epsom salt lotion have been my besties before bed. It is also a reminder to be grateful to God for body to do such wonderful things.

2) When weather permits, I comb my fro outside. There’s nothing like a breeze channeling through my scalp. It’s like Moses and the children of Israel walking on dry land after the parting of the Red Sea (only my “land” is moisturized). Liberation meets my comb with every stroke of the wrist. I love smiling at the sky and taking deep breaths until all sections are untangled. I meditate and soak in the beauty of nature.

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

3) I treat myself to a solo lunch/dinner/treat every 2 weeks. I started this tradition as a collegiate intern and it stuck with me. Actually, it was how I deepened my relationship with Christ. Nowadays, I don’t have as much expendable income of course, but the self-love gesture continues. While eating alone can be debilitating for some people, I cherish it. I can journal if I feel like it, enjoy a nice view, or listen to some tunes and dance in my seat while waiting for my meal — all without talking to anyone (which can be refreshing for someone who has to talk for a living).

4) I allow myself to daydream for 5 minutes when I’ve had a difficult day. Yep, you heard me. I daydream. It’s pretty healthy for the brain and it was the only pin in my sanity on many o’ days. What do I daydream about? Well, aside from fairytale romances, I love to watch myself at the beach enjoying the warm ocean water or snuggling in clean crisp sheets at an exceptional hotel. I’ve even daydreamed about being home in bed. Do whatever works to make it therapeutic just be sure to set an alarm in case you fall asleep.

I hope this helps, Sweethearts. If not, here’s a bonus — turn off the television for a bit. It’s OK to give your senses a break. There’s a lot going on in the world and we’re going to be here for a while. It would be wise to find something that works for you and make it a habit. Your interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions depend on it.

Peace & Thanks for listening. What is one of your self-care regulars?

Wednesday Wind Down: Touch

Hi, Sweethearts! *waving through the screen*

So, we’re in a season of social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19. As a performing/teaching artist and licensed massage therapist, I depend upon social interaction for income generation, so this self-quarantine is not amazing for business. *shrugs* Facts are facts.

While I’m using this time wisely, I can’t help but fantasize about teaching a communication, psychology, sociology, or economics class during this time. A field day would be had, I tell you. A deliciously nerdy field day with activities, discussions, and all.

On the flip side of this universe, I am equally excited to chat with you about the power of touch and its significance to our well-being. Right now, there are individuals working through anxiety and depression. Parents are re-arranging their schedules to stay at home with their children who are temporarily displaced from school. Healthcare professionals are desperately trying to douse a fire and save the world — simultaneously. The mandate of minimizing physical contact sounded easy until we realized how often we do it… and need it.

hands in front of white and black background
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Every day we touch each other’s lives — both inside and out. Our hearts are connected whether we want them to be or not. Those are the facts too. It’s how we were created. We were created to work as an organism not as disjointed and aimless beings. More like interdependent parts that need each other to survive. The spread of the flu and COVID-19 can’t stop us from reaching out in the name of Love. Food runners are delivering groceries to community members. Social media is actually being used as it was intended. People are socializing with members of their own homes instead of being daily ships passing by one another. Touch has so many forms that stopping the physical component isn’t enough to plug its power. It’s like trying to stop a leaky dam with a piece of chewing gum. Love is that water and He releases infinite power in the midst of impossible odds. Somehow, someway we leak and we can’t help it. I pray that we never stop.

Sincere prayers for my fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and LMTs out there. We’re going to make it. Peace and Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Dream Up

The Good

#29 – I opened my private massage practice!

My practice is located inside a chiropractor’s office. When I enter and look over to my left, I see my therapeutic massage license in a frame and I smile… every time. It warms my heart to see it sitting over there. Why? Because I’m able to see it in my massage suite and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Blessing! During my interview, I remember thinking how calming it was to be there, not to mention to work with such authentically supportive people. So, yeah… upon every thought of it, I am flooded with gratefulness like the first day I saw it.

The Lesson

It’s proof that a dream is just a reality-in-waiting. I knew what I wanted to do, but not sure how it would happen. But that’s the beauty of it… I didn’t have to! If you want that to-do list to turn into a “done” list, you have to get moving on the parts that are within your reach. God will not do something that you can start, so stop using Him and His timing as a default excuse. Write it down, create S.M.A.R.T. goals, research the steps you can control instead of scrolling on your timeline for an hour… your dream is literally waiting for YOU. I believe that God gave you everything you needed the day you were born. You have a natural starter kit inside of you and once you get started, the journey will continue. Trust me… my license is the proof and so is my new work address.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Sweet Dreams *wink*

20180911_174644
My classmates named me. lol

TM Lesson #6: Do The Math

Fun Fact: Red bloods don’t divide.

Most likely, you’re not walking around with a bag of blood with you in case you run out.
So, how do we have enough blood to live if those cells don’t divide? Let’s do the math.

Red blood cells live approximately 120 days (4 months), then they are engulfed by macrophages (the clean-up crew of the cellular world). Don’t fret – new ones are created in your bone marrow daily and massage therapy affects the body all the way down to the chemical level, so we definitely must be knowledgeable in your cellular function. Blood flow can tell us a lot while we are administering modalities to assist your well-being – inflammation, blockage, tissue damage, etc. Blood carries life and in 120 days, there’s a lot of life to live.

I was driving to work recently and the Holy Spirit reminded me that we were charged to be fruitful and multiply in all things, especially in the purpose in which we were born. When God the Father said “Be fruitful and multiply,” it didn’t just mean to populate the Earth. Whatever awesomeness that is transcribed into your DNA is designed to multiply in the lives of others. If you have a passion for fashion, that natural ability was destined to be fruitful by increasing the self-image and body positivity of everyone you serve. If you enjoy cooking, your love of culinary arts was designed to multiply by sharing the work of your hands. This doesn’t mean that everything you love to do that you should run a business in that area. Truthfully, that same food lover could be a horrible restaurant owner and terrible entrepreneur; yet, that thing that makes you smile and power-up… it’s worth exploring when you see lives being changed by it.

Ask God to open your eyes to the ways in which you can multiply. You don’t have to divide yourself and be thinly spread among various responsibilities. The directions were clear. Be fruitful and multiply, not divide. It’s not efficient to sprinkle slivers of yourself everywhere, but you can plant seeds with each client, student, and family member. Seek wisdom on how to grow your gifts and passions so others can bear the same fruit. Most likely, someone is hungry for what you were born to grow. The law of the harvest is real and you will be held accountable for everything you don’t use. That’s why I’m on a quest to die empty. I’m using everything God planted in me to multiply on this Earth so the harvest can outlive me.

Fruit trees don’t divide themselves in half; they bear fruit of the same seed. After all, isn’t that how we know the tree’s identity (Matthew 7:16)?

Red blood cells don’t divide, yet we function well on their 4-month run. What are you going to do for the next 4 months? How will you circulate? Let’s do the math and live. Need some help getting started? Check out this throwback post.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of Giant Microbes

TM Lesson #5: He Thought of Everything

Hello Sweethearts!

Last week, I mentioned that I’m in the final countdown of my therapeutic massage program (33 days to be exact, and I’m including weekends). While it is exciting to prepare for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), our study sessions have also made me nostalgic and full of wonder all over again about how intricate God made our bodies.

Did you know…

  • The biconcave shape of your blood cells increase its surface area for oxygen consumption, yet remains flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces?
  • The sarcomeres in our muscles facilitate muscle contraction (and look like a subway system, if you ask me)?
  • Aromatherapy is an actual form of therapy because your brain and muscles create and recall memories as you inhale an essential oil?
  • Your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) has a clavicular and sternal head to stabilize your neck when you tilt it back (Remember that little tidbit the next time you doze off in class)?

    sternocleidomastoid-muscle
    Courtesy of Yoganatomy.com
  • Your body will always attempt to achieve homeostasis (balance), even at the expense of your free will?

The lymphatic system. Respiratory system. Cardiovascular system. Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems. There are many more collaborations that keep you alive and massage therapists can affect every last one of them through the power of touch. That’s how cool God is.

He touched us first. His fingerprint is on our hands. No matter how many people are born in the world, no one can duplicate you. Can you believe that such an incredible God thought enough of you to breathe into you and form your body Himself? All of those cells, muscles, and systems were fashioned with your purpose in mind. I am fascinated by that even more now that I am adding a new career industry to my journey.

Now, here’s the disclaimer. I don’t know why some of the systems malfunction or why parts of them are deformed or missing, but I know God still had every detail in mind when He made you. Everything else in creation was called to be, but you? You were customized with ocular muscles around your brown eyes. The zygomatic bones on your face are perfectly curved to create your cheekbones. You have the cradle of life sitting between your iliac crests. There is no mistake in you. I have had to remember that as I face health challenges myself. Even the parts of me that don’t function properly still exude His glory because I continue to fulfill my purpose on this Earth. I’m here to tell you… He thought of everything about you and you were designed with Love in mind.

Wind down safely, Dear. I have some reading to do before class in the morning, but don’t forget our chat, OK? *smile* Look in the mirror or check yourself out with a selfie to admire the greatness in you, on you, and shining through you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #4: Arrhythmia

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.

Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.

Image:
Venzella “Joy the Drummer” Williams

What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.

 

Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)

CJW and Sheila E.
The legend herself, Sheila E.

In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.

You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.

Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!

Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.)
Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #3: End Feel

In therapeutic massage, there’s a term to describe the perception of a joint being at the limit of its range of motion. It’s called end feel. When a therapist detects a client’s end feel, s/he uses it as a gauge to see if certain techniques can assist or whether to leave the joint alone to prevent damage. A silent call is made. Either there’s more work to do right then or you move on to the next area of focus.

20180317_122349
Honor student and veteran

That’s how I felt this past Friday when my former students (soon-to-be graduates) shared their excitement about graduating next month. It was the end feel every educator anticipates. Not in the perspective of being at the end of my teaching career, but it was the end of their collegiate journey and I had done everything I was called to do for that season of their lives. What a blessing to see their faces lit with the brightness of a thousand suns, knowing that they didn’t give up when they had the chance… they kept studying when their grades weren’t favorable… they networked across programs of study and found friends for a lifetime… And to know that I had a small fingerprint in that experience was a grateful moment. They thanked me, hugged me, told me their plans, and honestly, I was just happy to be in their presence. To be in the wake of their future selves. The selves we talked about so many times during and after class.

What is your end feel? Do you have an experience that has reached the limit of its range of motion in your life? It can be sad to admit, yet it can be so liberating. That’s the beauty of the end feel. It’s confirmation. Either way, you’ve reached the maximum amount for the moment.

Tonight, I pray that God gives you insight on the end feel. Where it is, why it is, and how to digest it. It can be a heavy burden to let go and a large pill to swallow, but it’s a necessary space in time. For our lives, it marks anticipated progress or goals fulfilled.

Have a great night, my Dear. Peace, Thanks for listening, and wind down safely.

 

TM Lesson #1: Balance That Care

In case you missed the sidebar announcement on Instagram, I began therapeutic massage school this month and it has been eye-opening and fun every single day – sincerely one of the most enlightening learning experiences I’ve ever had. Along with notes of history and technique, self-care instructions flutter throughout the chapters.

One of the first things my instructor said was that our hands were our tools and we should protect them at all costs. Furthermore, our bodies are our tools, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy. I wrote a special LATSOL message in my  notebook that day because the Holy Spirit’s voice was so clear. 

“You’re the channel for healing others. You can’t heal others if you’re sick.”

That was so loud to me. I have spent the majority of my life giving until I pass out or run out. Have you? You run yourself ragged believing that the more you squeeze out of your time, talent, and treasure, the more Christ-like you are. The more Jesus you’re showing other people. The more glory God gets. Well, Sweetheart, I am happy – no, absolutely ecstatic – to inform you that this is a lie! There is no more work you can do that will justify you sacrificing yourself to death. Now, I’m not talking about people that are modern martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about you lying in a hospital bed because you have spent your life to death thinking that it was for the best, that no one else could do it, or that your ego told you it was the only option. The truth is, only Jesus was the perfect martyr, so you don’t have to die trying to move the bar.

God wants you to love Him and His Love circulates back to you as he enjoys loving on His Creations – which includes you! You can’t heal people if you’re sick, Love. Your hands are the tools God have you to give generously and wildly to the one who needs it; not to work feverishly into a stressful ball of frenzy, anguish, or remorse. Your entire body is needed to be the conduit through which Love flows. Words of healing turn into gestures of wholeness and you can’t do that when you’re dead from stretching yourself too thin and overworking your body for the sake of the cause. Even while I’m administering massage techniques, I am required to practice proper posture so I don’t damage myself in the process of client therapy.

Check this out…  even Jesus said “Let’s slow down for a minute.” in Mark 6:31 NLT

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”


He said this because there were so many people coming and going that
Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

Balance the care – input and output. Maybe your self-care is a day of fishing or a road trip to your favorite hiking spot. Maybe it’s a relaxing spa experience or an expression of community service. Whatever it is, do it. There is nothing sinful in balancing God’s Love in you and through you. He is a never-ending supply. You, my Dear, are not.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Balance that care!

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