Tag Archives: Stress Reduction

Lenten Musings

Photo Credit: Amanda DeBello

I was hunting for inspiration this morning to start a fresh day when I came across a post from local author Susan Gaddis, who reminded me that lent is coming, in her blog Holy in the Daily. Lent will start on Wednesday, the 22nd of February and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, the 7th of April.

I’ll agree, the liturgical calendar seems a bit obsolete these days, but this season of Lent inspires me. I spend a good bit of my time reading faith-based books and blogs. My daughter Valery and her husband Jonathan are writing one called Hoekmania from Ethiopia right now, a blog that is not necessarily faith based, but it and its followers are truly faith-filled. Jon’s  dad, Larry writes God2Me, which shows up in my inbox each morning. I also like Daily Manna from the Net.

That’s the easy part: reading the inspirational writings and teachings that others post. But it is in the doing, the being, that the struggle lives. I can easily become like the Dead Sea: things flowing in, but nothing flowing out. My life can become too salty for anything good to live in.

The purpose of the infilling I think, is to enable the out-flowing. Both parts: filling and emptying, need to be very conscious decisions. Truly, the choice to be happy, grateful, giving, does not come naturally.

Lent then, becomes a special container – a time set aside for this process.  What we fill the time with, and what we give are unique to each of us. My hope is that I don’t sound too super-spiritual but that my life truly reflects my words. Here are some of my ideas. Maybe they will inspire you to create your own.

  • Stay in the moment. Projecting ourselves out into the future or dragging ourselves back to the past are futile efforts.
  • Let yourself feel. Author of Taming Your Gremlins, Rick Carlson, tells us that The Zen Theory of Change is in this simple notion.
  • Be angry, but sin not. I used to be afraid of anger, but I’ve learned that anger is natural, needful. If we don’t allow anger in our lives or the lives of those we love, we will experience its outlet in secret ways…much harder to deal with.
  • Be your own mom. This notion came to me one day and changed my life. Treat yourself well, love your body, don’t be critical of yourself, be fully you.
  • In everything give thanks. As you embrace and work with what is, you will grow and mature and your life will flow.
  • Forgive yourself – forgive others. This sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? But it’s not so easy, for like love, forgiveness is an action. It starts with an intellectual choice, but until it permeates your actions, it is empty.
  • Mind your own business. Pretty self-explanatory. I’ve got enough work taking care of my own issues, shortcomings, challenges. I can listen, reflect, and empathize…then stop. It’s not mine!
  • Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s not just the Golden Rule but the only way to true happiness for yourself. For hidden in the way you treat others is ultimately what you will attract, and in the end, the way you will be treated and judged.
In the final analysis, I think the Lenten season is a talisman for living your life. It’s not about a diet, exercise plan, cleaning regime, or good-works campaign. It is about the holy in the daily, in the moment. It is about celebrating the gift of you and of those in your life. It is living, breathing, and choosing in each moment. Pretty easy, huh? Just think: If you fail in this moment, you’ve got another chance almost immediately!
See you at the spa!

Yes!

I recently read a post by Seth Godin called No. It expressed exactly where I’d been for about a week. And I was feeling guilty about it. You know, “the customer is always right,” “turn the other cheek,” “grin and bear it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” be the “bigger person”?

In the customer service industry, and especially when providing spa services, it is my job to please, to provide comfort, to accept people as they are, to go the extra mile, and to provide a calm environment.

But what is also true is that part of my brand is authenticity: to show up real, to relate truthfully, and to provide luxurious services from a place of personal peace, joy and contentment.

But what happens when I am in a challenging place? When I don’t have extra to give? When people push my already challenged boundaries or act disrespectful? Do I suck it up? Do youalways?

Remember when you were two – or so? You learned that you could choose, you could have an opinion, you could say no. I once dubbed one of my kids “Mr. Opposite” because of his habit of saying no to almost everything.  (Sorry, probably not my best parenting moment.) But I raised my children to have a voice, to be able to articulate their needs and boundaries, to be in “choice,” to take personal responsibility, and to be honest.

Hopefully if we “get” to say no in these developmental years, we will be able to do so as adults. That’s not to say there is never a time or place to put aside our own personal comfort, opinion, or desire.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dag Hammarskjold (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official): “Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own convictions.”

When you think about it, you’re not just saying no; you’re also saying yes. Yes to what you would rather have. Yes to what would work for you. Yes to honoring your own limits, boundaries, and things that are important to you. Yes to what you perceive as a healthy interaction or way of doing business.

Truly, there needs to be “no” if there is ever going to be “yes.” Just like the day needs the night, light needs the dark, black needs white, love needs hate. It is the yin and yang of the universe. Saying no to even the good thing allows you to say yes to the best thing.

Now, I’ll admit, as a customer, I want businesses to say yes to me, even when I’m wrong, even when I’m asking for more than they really want to give. It’s the American way, right? And some may say, “If they won’t give me what I want I’ll do business elsewhere.”

That’s not how I do it, and I hope my customers  feel the same. If I like a place, product, or service, I’m going to allow for give and take. It’s not much different than my personal relationships, really. Each party gets to choose, each gets to say yes and no. Reciprocity is my desired model of interaction.

In the end, let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Practice saying yes to more of what you want. And when you say no, be still and breathe. It’s OK. Really.

See you at the spa!

Be Alive!

Dancers Among Us Project by Jordan Matter

“BE passionate joyful sad euphoric angry intense desperate ecstatic intimate present ALIVE.” Jordan Matter

Right now I’m sitting at the computer nursing my one and only cup of joe for the day and feeling happy (but moderately deprived). I’m thinking of all I am thankful for and excited for my day to unfold. I’m getting a facial this morning! Also walking the beach, getting my husband’s car an oil change, and seeing some clients at the spa.

How about you? Are you living life to its fullest? If not, why not? I don’t want to preach, judge, or lay a guilt trip on you – I’m just curious. (You know me.) Maybe you hate your job, have a relationship going bad – or no relationship at all – are sick or dealing with a chronic health condition. Could be you are out of work, have a wayward child, have experienced a betrayal, or are wrestling with an addiction. If the issue is clinical depression, that’s another ballgame.

And yes, there are seasons in life where things are just not OK for a while. What I’m wondering is “Are you living the life you want to live, and if the answer is no, are you willing to change that?”

My life was kind of tough growing up. Maybe yours was too. I’ve had to do lots of work to recover. Two of the lessons I’ve learned stand out. They both relate to the opening sentence of this post: “BE passionate joyful sad euphoric angry intense desperate ecstatic intimate present ALIVE.” I guess when you have to block bad stuff out to grow up and survive you end up blocking the good out too. Here’s my story of recovery:

In the early days of my massage career I did out-calls. I was asked to pack up my table and come to an island in Minnesota to do massage for “Wild Women’s Weekend.” I spent the weekend with a bunch of hysterical women. They were laughing, playing, joking around, and really enjoying themselves.

I was, of course, working and having a good enough time myself. But I had this niggling question: “How are they able to laugh so much?”

When I got home I decided to learn to laugh (I know, weird, right?) but true nonetheless. Imagine me sitting at the dinner table with my husband and four children practicing laughing out loud. Oh yeah, real funny, huh? But, I did it! I learned how to laugh out loud, and even if I sometimes forget to laugh (which I often do), it’s like riding a bike: One never really forgets how.

The other lesson I had to teach myself is to be angry, out loud. My husband was a great role model – lol. Once I gave myself permission to express anger (I was about 35), he suddenly became much less angry. I guess he was doing my anger for me – geez!

To be fully present and live the life you were meant to live, you need to recover those lost parts of yourself. Those parts you had to cut out to survive. Reclaim your sense of wonder and joy, let yourself feel desperation and anger, follow your passion, let your inner-child out to play.

And next time you get to work, try doing the splits on two desks, I double dare ya. 😀

See you at the new spa!

 

Press On

http://www.jordanmatter.com/

One of the benefits of being in the spa industry is that I deal with people everyday, who need to learn to relax – and I’m paid to help them do it.

But this means, I too need to be relaxed – after all, the teacher cannot teach what they themselves haven’t learned.

Lately I’ve been involved in a series of interactions which have caused some personal emotional stress. And it has me wondering – when people are angry, critical, or are just plain sharing their feelings, how do I process the information/interaction in a healthy way?

How do I Tame My Gremlins?

Of course, each situation is so different that there isn’t necessarily one surefire way of handling everything, so here are some ideas that help me cope and navigate my way through uncomfortable relational situations:

  • Be fully present in each situation – Breathe, slow down, and let myself feel whatever comes up.
  • Do more listening and less talking – While listening, let the other know they are heard and check in to be sure they feel understood.
  • Ask for permission to share how I feel – Not everyone is receptive to listening, and sharing when the other isn’t, can leave you in a worse place.
  • Be more curious than furious – Questions are helpful when communication stalls or becomes tense.
  • Be “in choice” rather than reactive  – If I start to feel uncomfortable in my body, it is a clue I need to listen – maybe the conversation needs to be rescheduled to a time when we’ve had a chance to calm down.
  • Don’t take it personally – Realize that each person has a very unique frame of reference/history that I have simply stumbled into with my words or actions. I’m not bad, it’s not all my fault, or all about me.
  • Be accountable – If you do or say something you regret later, or if the situation was unfinished, re-visit it if the other party is receptive at an appropriate time.
  • Check your heart – Intention is so important; I need to ask myself what will be the response that honors me as well as the other person.
  • Take care of yourself – If the situation doesn’t resolve well, or is drawn out over time, I can “ramp up” my self care. This is where a visit to the spa comes in!
  • Press on! – There is a verse in the Bible in the book of Philippians which guides me – it talks about pressing on toward the goal for the prize. What’s your prize, your high calling – happiness, joy, peace, harmony?

See you at the new spa!

The New Spa in Grover Beach Open For Mother’s Day

I started my dream business, Star Brows, in Arroyo Grande California four years ago, specializing in a unique “brow graphing” technique, which I developed at my Minnesota spa. Due to the success and popularity of that technique, I needed to expand, and now have a new home! Everything you know and love about Star Brows will stay the same, but better – I hope you’ll agree!

On April 15th I moved my eyebrow couture, skincare, massage, and body waxing spa to 1065 West Grand Avenue to Grover Beach (Shangri-La!) and have created a luxurious spa setting that I know you will love.

Originally, I really wanted to stay in AG, but then I found this amazing space with great exposure and plenty of room to grow. It’s across from Miners in Grover Beach. This location really fits my “brand.” You will truly feel like the star you are when you’re there. I wanted to create a more spa-like atmosphere so you could enjoy the full array of Star Brows services.

I’ve added two private treatment rooms with sound-proof walls and solid core doors :), a casual and open feeling makeup and waxing lounge, and an serene waiting area – and we’re closer to the beach! Who could ask for more? I’ll be posting pictures soon.

But, like any dream, there have been (and are) hurdles to overcome. In the end, though, it’s all worth it. I hope this encourages you to follow your dreams too. Turning dreams into reality takes guts, a lot of hard work, optimism, help from those who support you (thank you all!), and a generous pinch of the miraculous!

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am poised to help you celebrate. Hmmm, what would you really like? I come from a background of providing fabulous spa experiences, and now that I have the space and the environment for it, I’d like treat you.

Here is a sneak peek of a spa experience created to celebrate mom’s day, or “just because” – at the new location – offered for a limited time:

Spa Facial and Massage Treatment

Arrive a couple of minutes early so you can get settled and relax for a few minutes in the quiet environment of the new spa, and plan on staying for about an hour and a half.

When you enter the treatment room you will feel the warm air provided by state-of-the-art radiant heat. You’ll smell calming essential oils and be enveloped by the soft candlelight.

As you climb under crisp, clean, warmed sheets your body’s curves will be cradled by special contoured cushions.

Detoxifying and de-stressing drops of essential oils will be applied along your spine (Raindrop Therapy), to coax your body into a state of bliss and calm, followed by a back massage given at just the right pressure for you. When the knots are eased, you turn over and the Star Massage begins with Tu’el’s Cleansing Oils and Herbalizers chosen for your skin type. Puffiness, sinus pressure, jaw tension and all signs of stress dissipate from your face, neck and should – mmm, who knew it could feel this good?

Now the facial begins with warmed towels, gentle steam, and special masks and scrubs designed to alleviate your skin’s concerns.

And don’t forget those hard working hands and feet. They will be meticulously worked out, every finger and every toe rubbed until they are eased. Your feet will be wrapped in warm towel-like booties and a little Craniosacral work will be done to balance your body’s rhythms.

Later, plan on relaxing and drinking plenty of water with slices of organic lemons to complete a perfect experience.

Who knew Star Brows was about more than eyebrow couture? Now’s your chance to see! Limited spaces are available for this special offer, so call now – 805-722-8222  – and mention the Mother’s Day Spa Special. It’s not on the menu and is specially priced at $99. It expires on May 12th, but you can get a Gift Certificate for the service and use it anytime!

See you at the new spa!

Beauty On The Cheap! Part 2

PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

In Straighten Up!, Part 1 of Beauty On The Cheap we talked about posture and how standing and sitting up straight strengthens and beautifies.

In this post let’s talk about how smiling and laughing makes us more beautiful inside and out.

Growing up, I heard the words, “Put a smile on your face” often. Who can (or wants to) smile on command? So, when we talk about smiling in this piece, it’s not to conform to or please anyone else.  Yes, a smile looks beautiful to others, but wearing one cheers you up too!

In the beginning, you may have to practice if you’re not used to smiling much, just like getting into the habit of standing up straight. Tyra Banks coined a term called smizing: smiling with your eyes. At the same time you are smiling you need to recall a happy memory, or imagine a beautiful place – while doing so, your thoughts will actually illuminate your eyes.

Speaking of smiling and being happy, how about laughter? I have a funny story:

One time years ago, I was asked to do massage for “Wild Women’s Weekend”. I packed up my massage table and headed to a beautiful island in Minnesota for the weekend. What I encountered was a group of women engaging in riotous laughter the whole weekend from pretty much everyone – except me. I remember thinking; “I want that!”. The sad part is, I realized I didn’t laugh much – at least not so anyone could hear. My laughing muscle was emaciated  from all the years of disuse. Through Simply Noticing and not judging myself harshly, I began to cultivate a vision of becoming a laugher.

So when I got home I decided to begin “practicing” laughter. My family mocked and jeered me at first because my laughter was contrived – it was funny! But after spending a few weeks on choosing to laugh, it began to feel comfortable.

Am I perceived as a funny person today? Probably not, but I can laugh now – and I value joy above all because I know that when I am joyful I am fully present, thankful, breathing and living life to the fullest.

In order to really produce a beautiful and abiding smile, it needs to come from within. Sure, you can turn it on for an acquaintance or the camera – but that is momentary and looks superficial. What I’m talking about is a perpetual glow of peace, joy and contentment on your face that attracts others and makes you more beautiful.

So we must go deeper. Does a house look clean if you just tidy up and dust a few items? No, but if you deep clean with, as mom would say, “warm soapy water” you can feel the clean – it radiates because it is really clean through and through.

I guess what I’m talking about is “soul cleaning”. Take this little quiz and see what may be dulling your countenance and suppressing your smile. Give yourself 1 point for each yes answer:

  • Do you regularly let-go and forgive others when they offend you?
  • Have you wrestled with childhood issues that need clearing?
  • Do you make an effort not to gossip or hold grudges?
  • Do you keep jealousy and comparing yourself to others in check?
  • Do you consistently live according to your values?
  • Have you chosen friends that are good for you?
  • What about thankfulness? Are you thankful for something everyday?

How did you do? 7 is perfect, don’t worry if you’re not quite there – no one is!

And what about joy, happiness, passion and pleasure?

  • Do you have something you are really looking forward to in the next day or two, in the next week, month or year?
  • If there are relationships or situations in your life that are stressfully unresolved, are you taking action steps toward resolution?
  • Are there intimate friends in your life – and do you spend time nurturing these friendships?
  • Have you made your work part of your life, not just a job, and do you bring your best self to it?
  • Hugging others is one of the easiest ways to stay “in touch”. Do you have human touch in your life regularly, daily?
  • Do you have a “big picture” dream? Have you shared it with others?

Sometimes it’s good to reflect and take inventory. 6 is a perfect score, if there is an item or two that you had to really think about, you may want to jot it down to ponder later.

How well do you care for yourself?

  • Do you sleep enough?
  • Drink enough water?
  • Eat healthy most of the time?
  • Exercise regularly?
  • What are your spiritual practices? Do you spend time in prayer and meditation to renew this aspect of your being daily?

5 is perfect – don’t be too hard on yourself. It has taken me 55 years to develop healthy lifestyle habits, and I still fall short – often!

How about bad self-care habits?

  • Do you abstain from smoking and drinking or at least keep these vices to the bare minimum?
  • Do you make a conscious effort not to spend time feeling guilt, shame or regret?
  • Do you know what’s good for you, and do it most of the time?

3 is great, but maybe we should be scoring one another so there is no bias. 😉 We all justify our habits and choices, I know I do – but be honest with yourself, that’s the most important thing.

So raise your hand if you got a 21! Now do 10 “Hail Marys”.

Did you know smiling and laughing required so much work? Well, it doesn’t really – it is actually a state of grace, but living your life so that smiling and laughter are a natural habit will require some “inner house cleaning”, and of course homes don’t stay clean, you need to develop a regular habit of maintenance.

Above all, don’t wait for your circumstances to change to be happy. Happiness is a choice.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” And remember: “Faut souffrir pour être belle.” “One must suffer to be beautiful.”

See you at the spa!

Remember to “Be Linda”

Wilma from the Flintstones made me happy when I was a little girl – and she still does! She was great at expressing herself (especially if she was mad at Fred), but she was also quick to laugh and move on.

I’ve heard it said that you were “your most true self” when you were very little.

Gretchen Rubin, who wrote “The Happiness Project” reminds us to “Be Ourselves”.

As an adult,  I find myself wrestling with “chronos” time (the Greek word for time that means chronological, sequential time) while longing for “kairos” time (the Greek word describing how events unfold at the perfect time).

Many of my lists and tasks as wife, mother, business owner, homemaker etc. are done in chronos time, it’s my default mode. In fact – my temperament type, personality and upbringing all point to this rather driven way of being.

Yet I aspire to shift  into kairos, which is a space where faith lives. This is the space I was born into and occupied effortlessly for the first years of my life. I can be “Linda” and still relax into the moment, if I can remember how.

I need to consciously choose to believe that I’m not behind, that things will work out, and that life is bigger and more forgiving than my limited  and harried race against the clock.

Walt Whitman says: “Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.”

I was raised by a woman who was into the women’s lib movement. She went back to school to get her law degree with 4 kids at home. She would flit off to fabulous destination spa resorts while my dad was on hunting trips. She was creating a new kind of role for a woman that was so different from her fore-mothers.

At home, mom went to The European Health Spa – a glorious facility, and the only place in the Twin Cities like it at the time… the 70’s.

She would sneak me into the spa at 15 (pretending I was 18), and I would sauna, steam, swim, get a massage and drink smoothies to my heart’s desire.

Who would have known that I would own a spa myself someday? I found pleasure in those quiet hours at the spa as a girl, the same way I felt swimming at the cabin, hunting turtles, picking fresh berries in the woods, or sitting on grandma’s lap. The common denominator in these experiences was the joy I felt.

I fancy myself as being in the “happiness business”. At the spa, time disappears. No lists to complete, people to please, or tasks to perform. Just you, your breath, your thoughts and a myriad of sensations. A safe place to go where your contentment is numero uno.

And I get to come along on the journey! I set the tone, the mood – create the space for you to be…just you.

That’s not to say that spa-going is the end-all, be-all to self discovery or enlightenment; it’s just one simple, uncomplicated way, one place to discover and be you!

I’ve found that serving others through the art of touch and personal grooming is one of the many things that brings me happiness. Now, your job is to figure out what brings you happiness, can you remember? – once you’ve done that, it’s easy to share!

See you at the spa!

Nasty People

We’ve all encountered people who are just plain nasty, haven’t we? This is  a great little book for recognizing an all too common behavior that cripples self-esteem.

Leo Buscaglia says,  “Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”

In my profession, I am privileged to hear people’s stories and come alongside them with support and encouragement. Some of these stories are about relationships with people who are “nasty” and have hurt them, sometimes over a period of many years.

This post is kind of heavy, but I HAD to write it because it contains some secrets of happiness for those of us who have survived the cruel intentions of those we love or have loved.

Recently I had an encounter with someone who was particularly nasty. And now that I am studying this phenomenon, it explains the behaviors of others that I have questioned over time.

These people (and unfortunately, sometimes we are them) are what may be  called Invalidators. Hitler was the archetype of an extreme invalidator.

A true invalidator can bypass your logical mind. When you’re around one, you find yourself feeling bad without knowing why. Invalidators are underhanded, and the person being invalidated is often unsuspecting. Their methods of invalidating include:

  • Uncertainty. They “make you feel” uncertain of your environment for long periods of time with vagueness, changing the way they treat you,  and not making  commitments, until your adaptive ability fails.
  • Projection. They take their own feelings and project them onto you. For instance, they may ask a person they don’t like, “I don’t think you like me do you?”
  • Generalization. They attack your self-esteem instead of the problem. Let’s say you forgot to bring home eggs from the store. The invalidator may say, “You’re inconsiderate,” “You’re stupid,” “You’re irresponsible.” No! You simply forgot the eggs. If you had remembered them, would you magically become more intelligent, responsible and considerate? Chipping away at your self-esteem so they can control you – that’s the game.
  • Judgment. The person who says, “You are irresponsible” has cleverly implanted the implication that “Anyone who knows you would agree.”
  • Manipulation. This is bad control. Good control includes a fair exchange and is ethical. You may be pressured to do it his way because he wants control.  An invalidator is by definition a manipulator.
  • Sneak Attack. “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” “I don’t want to upset you, but…” “Don’t let this bother you, but…” Watch it! These lines are a dead giveaway to what the invalidator has planned.
  • Double Message. These can lead to schizophrenia in childhood. The real message contains daggers but is masked in sweetness and love. You’ll know this by how your “gut” is feeling.
  • Cutting Off Communication. Interrupting you or walking away when you’re talking are prime examples.
  • Building You Up, Cutting You Down. Be careful about depending on someone else’s opinion of you for your self-esteem. The invalidator’s goal is to get you to look inside yourself through introversion and introspection so you don’t notice what’s going on outside yourself. Remember my Taming Your Gremlin post?
  • The Double Bind. The invalidator puts you in a double bind: “wrong if you do, wrong if you don’t.” The beginning to the solution for escaping the double bind is awareness (simply notice) and staying present (choose and play with options). Don’t become introspective!

Still with me? Nice deep breaths, now. 🙂

In truth, the invalidator actually feels inferior to the other person, so he tries to make the other person feel small. Thus, he can exert control over the “victim.” He has to control the other person because he perceives the other as being superior.

Actually, it is important to keep in mind that the invalidator is a personality, not a person. Invalidators look big but feel small. They have low self-esteem but large egos. They invalidate when they feel inferior or out of control. The worst cases are those who invalidate to gain destructive power and control.

Invalidation is contagious. If you have been invalidated, you may begin to do it to others yourself, or you may fall prey to someone who does.

If you have been the victim of an invalidator over a long period of time, you may manifest the flip-side of the invalidator. It may have forced you into a survival mode that looks like this:

  • You never get angry, and if you do you’re not sure how to express it without hurting someone – so you hold it all inside. When you suppress anger, you simultaneously repress other feelings.
  • You never put anyone down.
  • You were “made to feel” so wrong that at one point you made a forced decision that you were completely OK – so much so that one can almost see your halo.
  • You may have developed a stubborn unwillingness to be wrong.
  • You listen to people – in fact you actually make people right – because you don’t want to hurt someone like you were hurt. In the process, you fool people to build their egos and are dishonest with your true feelings.
  • You fear change. If you find yourself changing your opinions or point of view, you may fear that you are succumbing as you almost did to the invalidator long ago.
  • You may develop funny quirks in your personality because nothing can be allowed to shake the foundation you are hanging onto.

It is especially difficult for someone who was made to feel wrong to be willing to appear wrong. Your willingness to be wrong has been abused, and you may feel completely vulnerable.

A healthy person realizes that she is OK and can accept other people’s opinions and judgments. She is willing to see that sometimes someone else can be right and she can be wrong, which keeps things in balance.

So what can you do if you find yourself in a relationship where this behavior is present?

1.  Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. What is also true, as a reader suggests; “Remember that someone who makes you feel inferior is actaully trying to exert control over their own negative feelings by dumping them onto others.”  Thanks Angie!

2.  Realize that the invalidator is  a person with many qualities and that she is likely trapped in an unconscious behavior.

3.  Identify the problem for the invalidator.

4.  Set limits for the invalidator’s behavior. Let her know what is not acceptable to you.

5.  Make a time limit for change.

6.  Be respectful and diplomatic yet firm. You can use humor and words that express your feelings.

7.  Don’t judge, label, blame, generalize, or make it personal.

If reasoning doesn’t work, you might try cause and effect (there is no formula, play with options):

  • Disconnect, quit, or leave.
  • Raise your eyebrows and stare unwaveringly.
  • Do something outrageous like laughing shrilly, talking loudly, or winking – anything to “change the dance” and throw the invalidator off his game.
  • Your goal is to make the invalidator uncomfortable whenever he invalidates. And of course, if the methods of invalidation are harming you, or your children – you need to get away from it until and unless they change.

    See you at the spa!

    Bodywork/Massage Etiquette

    Most massage/bodywork aficionados remember the uncertainty that came with their first service. What should I expect? Will I have to take off all my clothes? How much do I tip? Will the pressure be too deep or not deep enough?

    I got my first massage when I was 15 (40 years ago!). There were very few therapists then, and only elite health clubs or vacation retreat and resort properties offered spa services.

    In fact, the woman who gave me my first massage(s), later opened a school – and fast forward 25 years, I became a student there. 🙂

    So, hopefully  I’ve established myself as a veteran massage recipient turned provider – but don’t assume that I’m perfect at setting and honoring boundaries; it takes conscious attention and personal assertion – let’s begin!

    For newcomers to massage, the prospect of those first visits can be unnerving. Here are some basic bodywork/massage guidelines to help you choose a therapist, get the most out of your session, and create a healthy client-therapist relationship.

    If there are no forms, and no intake interview – in my estimation, the service is no good. Massage “on the cheap” is just that (and I’ll admit I have taken part –  in desperation!).  Reputable massage clinics, with skilled therapists, do intakes.

    Seriously – do you have athlete’s feet, herpes, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, history of seizure? We’re  talking safety here!

    And what about your preferences? Do you get cold, are your feet ticklish, do you like light – medium or deep pressure, and so on and so on.

    And, in regard to the pressure used during a massage – more is not better people! (Is drinking a bottle of wine better than enjoying a glass?) There is a term called “Echo Point” I like to use. It refers to the point between pain and pleasure – as far as pressure, there is no benefit in going  beyond this point.

    Note: At Star Brows, I have a thorough intake/interview process.  Actually, it takes about 2-3 sessions for you to really get comfortable with a new therapist. It takes the therapist that long – and longer, to get to know you and your needs and preferences as well. Even if you only go a couple of times a year – go to the same person (once you find someone you like).

    • Punctuality = Full Session

    If you arrive 5 or 10 minutes early each time, you will start the massage more relaxed and focused, moving sooner to a place of healing calm. Plus, you’ll get your full time on the table!

    • Cancellations

    Most practitioners require a 24-hour notice to avoid fees. Outside of an emergency situation, last-minute cancellations or missed appointments usually result in paying a fee. Your therapist reserved that time for you and may have turned away other clients.

    • Honor Your Body

    Figure out what you like, and communicate it. Yes, the therapist is trained to do her job – but it’s YOUR body. Be in charge!  The therapist should provide a  comfortable atmosphere for you to express your needs and preferences. They should be checking in with you, asking questions about likes and dislikes – and if they aren’t, you need to – as my dad  says, “wiggle your lips”. 😀 If they don’t listen, end the service – and don’t go back.

    Some people have a hard time even considering massage because they are so unhappy with their body. This is primarily a female issue. It may be  hard thinking about getting naked, lying on a massage table having a virtual stranger touch you, as a pleasurable experience.

    For those dealing with self-esteem or body image issues, massage therapy and bodywork can be produce anxiety. But developing trust and rapport with a skilled therapist can be transformational!

    • Shower Up

    Common sense? Not always. 😉

    • Consider Talking and Confidentiality

    Sometimes massage sessions can bring up intimate issues about yourself, an issue,  or a relationship. The spirit, soul and body are one – so integration of these realms can bring miraculous healing on a physical and emotional level. But, keep in mind – massage therapists are typically not trained in professional psychology. Some issues will require a referral to a skilled professional. An ethical service provider will refer if professional help, such as a counselor, seems needed.

    To stay safe, only share what you want to share. Quietness is preferable overall – you should lead the way if there is going to be conversation.

    Sometimes people become chatty because they are nervous. Keep your focus on breathing – and speak only when you feel the need.

    Just know, confidentiality is an ethical code that therapists ascribe to.  It’s best to get to know the therapist before disclosing intimate life details, until you have developed trust.

    If there is unwanted conversation happening, simply say something like; ” I would like to have quiet so that I can relax”. Remember – it’s your dime!

    • Sobriety, Please

    If you’re on vacation, at a resort – you may be drinking. But, the last thing you want is to have alcohol in your system when you get a massage.

    Alcohol wreaks  havoc with the body’s systems. Combine that with the increased circulation from massage and you have increased absorption rates, potentially making you nauseous or outright sick. That’s no fun and a waste of good time and money.

    Water, before and after is what the body really wants.

    • You’re Human

    The body can have a lot of responses to therapeutic massage. While avoiding food at least one hour before your massage, not drinking the night before, making sure your bowel is empty, and drinking plenty of water the day before will help, there’s still the chance that you’ll have bad breath, tummy gurgles or pass gas (excuse me is all that’s needed).

    Note: I don’t see male clients unless it is a referral from an existing client, primarily because of the sexuality issues involved. Advice for those  who get “accidental erections” – don’t get professional massage (especially from a woman) if you are that sensitive, and control your thoughts while you are on the table – where your thoughts go, your body follows.

    • Tipping Tips

    When it comes to gratuities, it’s ultimately the client’s decision whether or not to tip. Like in other service industries, providing a tip is usually done in response to excellent service. According to CNNMoney.com, the tipping norm for massage and bodywork services is 15-20 percent.

    That said, I don’t see tipping as a way to compensate an under-paid employee (which in some clinics is the case). You paid for the service – if it was above and beyond your expectations, then a tip is appropriate. Sometimes the fee for service is all you can spend – this is understandable. Sometimes people tell me, “I would love to give you extra, but I only have enough for the service itself”. I understand, I’ve been there.

    See you at the spa!

    Taming Your Gremlin Part 3

    I have a part time position at a local studio teaching  3-6 year olds girls to dance. The other day in class one of the little girls was looking very sad, and almost in tears. When I asked her what was wrong she said;

    “I am afraid.” — Of what? I asked. “Of doing it wrong.” she whispered.

    Girls, I asked the whole class – what happens in dance class if you make a mistake? “Keep trying” they all answered. And are mistakes bad? I asked.

    “NO!” they all shouted. And why are we taking a dance class? I continued. “To learn” they chirped, squirming and giggling.

    As you can tell, we’ve had these conversations in class before 😉

    So to you I say the same thing I did to the littles dancing girls: mistakes are just what happens when you are learning – and we are ALL learning.

    What is a gremlin? How do you tame him? Do I have a gremlin? These and more questions are answered in one of my favorite books called Taming Your Gremlin (TYG) by Rick Carlson. In the last two posts I covered step 1 & 2 of the three step process for TYG: Simply Noticing and Choosing and Playing with Options .

    Today is the last step, it’s called: Being in Process – the dictionary.com definition of process is: A systematic series of actions directed to some end.

    So, a process involves a series of actions/choices – not just one. And the “end” refers to the desired outcome of an action.

    Let’s use the example from Part 2 of the TYG series; Linda’s Lenten Adventures, aka — my recent withdrawal process from 3 toxic substances ;)):

    I deliberately am not disclosing the “substances” because I want you to fill in your own blanks on this one, and because that part of it is my personal business.

    Content is also interchangeable. You may struggle with lying, stealing, gossiping, abuse, laziness – it makes no difference.

    The truth is I live in process. I am also continuing to simply notice how I am doing, what I’m feeling, and what I’m thinking about. Breathing instead of stuffing feelings and thoughts down is harder in some ways. But the end game is much more rewarding. The fruit of the Spirit is self control.

    I am choosing and playing with options as well to bring about the results I want, which are: good health, no guilt, more energy, self discipline, enlightenment and clarity.The whole process of TYG is a circle. It is the breath by breath process of noticing, choosing and processing. I am open to feeling and being with “what is showing up”. I can discover moment to moment what I need, and make conscious instead of automatic choices. I can participate in the process of creating the life I really want, the life “the natural me” was meant to live.

    What being in process is:

    • It is a dance. A dance that is performed as a solo, with guest artists showing up. It is a dance you are choreographing, a dance the Lord Almighty created you to do. It is an improvisational piece that is a response to the music of life. It is meant to be easy, flow from your depths. You did this dance when you were a child, and it was a joy. You can do it again, I know you can.
    • The “neutral observer” or non-judgmental response, to how the choices you are making in any given circumstance are working for you, and based on that assessment, choosing and playing  with new options.
    • Giving yourself permission to be a learner!
    • Realizing that the path of your life is followed step by step, breath by breath and choice by choice.
    • Being aware in each moment to the fact that you can change your response to any situation as many times as you need to in order to get the results you want.
    • Seeing that there are really no mistakes, just choices that didn’t yield the results you wanted.

    What being in process is not:

    • It’s not about regret, guilt or shame.
    • It isn’t about should’ve, would’ve, or could’ve.
    • There doesn’t have to be a solution right now to everything that happens. Ambiguity is OK to live with.
    • It is not your job to control anyone or anything. You are only responsible for yourself and your choices.

    Ready to tame your own gremlin? May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts & minds.

    See you at the spa!