I received my first massage many years ago. I was living in the UK at the time. I believe it was sometime in the sixties and I discovered a small massage and facial salon had opened above a shop near my parents home. I very tentatively booked an appointment and remember how my heart sang and I knew that I was hooked from the very first touch. There is nothing quite like a massage for relaxation, de-stressing, pleasure, and coming home to yourself. Massage does for the body what a deep relationship with God does for the soul.
I probably received one or two more massages during the next few years because I really couldn’t afford more than that. Then, about five years later, I moved to Sardinia, Italy with my first husband and our two boys. In 1970, we helped to open a large holiday village called Forte Village in the southern part of the island not far from the capital, Cagliari.
There were many holiday agency reps working in the village and the two girls from the Swedish company, Vingresor, were extremely grateful for the “extra mile” that I went in order to help smooth difficulties for their customers. They came to me one day and said they would like to show their appreciation in some tangible way and asked me what I would most like. I knew they had their own massage therapist on call in the village, so I requested a massage. They were gracious enough to gift me with a series of four massages, and my love affair with receiving massage was rekindled. Since then I have received many massages and eventually, when I was fifty three years young, I trained to become a massage therapist myself. I feel as much joy giving massage as I do in receiving them.
Fast forward to April 2011. As I mentioned in my previous posting Traveling- Las Vegas & Sedona Rich and I enjoyed a wonderful visit to Sedona, AZ. I knew that I wanted to receive a massage in Sedona because it is a place of natural healing and there are many alternative therapy healers in the town. As Rich and I were settling into our condo, he checked out a file of information about various activities and points of interest in the area, and called my attention to an advertisement. The wording in the ad from Sue really spoke to my heart and soul, and I knew that this was who I would book my massage with.
A few days later found me in Sue’s studio. Little did I know that I was about to have a very significant and life-changing experience. For the next two hours Sue worked intuitively with my body. I have never received a massage quite like it. She used many different modalities during the course of the massage and I knew that something very special was going on, especially when she started chanting as she worked my heart chakra. I remember thinking, “I hope she is going to tell me what that was about”, as I felt a kind of a “whooshing out” feeling from my chest. Then shortly afterwards, as Sue worked on my lower abdomen, I could feel “something” going on and a great deal of heat.
At the end of the massage, when Sue gave me some water to drink, she asked me if I wanted to hear her perceptions. My heart lifted and I said I wanted to hear everything. She checked first of all if I believed in past lives and also asked me if I was familiar with any of the ancient civilizations such as the Mayans or the people of Atlantis. When I assented, she shared that while she had been working on my heart chakra she was drawn into a vision where she saw me as a tall, regal person, dripping with golden jewelry, and knew that I was one of the ancient wise ones. She felt that I was royalty of some sort and told me that whenever I walked into a room people were enveloped in a sense of tranquility and felt healed. I told her that many people told me this today also.
She then went on to tell me that it was no longer enough to just “walk into the room”, that I was “being called to more”. She said that I needed to be ready for more work and not to be afraid. I remembered Kevin’s words just a few weeks earlier at the Lenten Healing Mission. Sue then explained that while she had worked on my lower abdomen she had felt “something birthing”, and she encouraged me to be ready, to prepare myself for some new work that I was going to be called to undertake.
As I left Sue’s studio, I felt very blessed. I was filled with a sense of peace and yet was also aware of a very heightened sense of energy. I felt like I could have run for ten miles. I was very grateful for this because later that afternoon Rich and I went to experience the energy vortex at Bell Rock and I was able to climb about three quarters of the way up the rock formation without feeling tired.
I will always remember my massage experience with Sue with much gratitude. My main personal work since that time has been to quietly prepare myself for whatever work Spirit wants me to do. Just two weeks after this experience, I attended a Qigong event in Orlando and a complete stranger there repeated the message: “Margo, you are being called to more. Do not hold back.” I will share more about this experience in another posting.
So for the foodies out there I’d like to share our experience in Paducah, KY. As I mentioned in my previous posting, we stayed at a great little B&B in this small Kentucky town. It was a great find and the owners, Robert and Rachel (interestingly for this Brit, Rachel was from Manchester, UK!!), were wonderful hosts. Rachel had an amazing elephant collection which was also rather interesting because our daughter Melissa has an elephant collection too.
But the best part of this B&B was our room. You have to understand that the building looks like a non-descript ranch style house from the outside. As you walk in there is a spacious living area with a dining room and large lounge full of big comfortable sofas. Robert has installed a hi-tech media server that is connected to digital players in each guest room and a large wall-size screen in the lounge. Guests can pick from a vast menu of movies 24/7 and each room can watch a different movie at the same time.
Two of the three guest rooms are quite simple, comfortable but simple, with a small adjoining bathroom. However, there the “simple” stops. They each have another en-suite room that contains one item – a large two person hot tub! Yes, it was ours, all ours, no sharing!! The third guestroom is slightly different in that the bedroom is a little larger and has two big beds and the bathroom is much larger and in one corner there is a large 2-person whirlpool tub. We so enjoyed our hot tub later in the evening. It was such a de-stressor after two days on the bike. I slept like a baby afterwards.
When it came time for dinner Robert had some very good suggestions. He actually said, as he rubbed a substantial but not fat belly, “Anyone with a body like this who recommends a restaurant is probably giving you good advice”. And he spoke the truth. After singing the praises of several eateries in the area, he said the magic words “good Thai food”. Richard’s ears perked up and his eyes brightened. “Pad Thai”, was all he said,
A short time later found us back on Harley and headed into Paducah town proper ready to locate “Spicy Ginger”, one of two Thai restaurants that Robert had named. We were not disappointed. After sharing some of the best Pot Stickers ever and a couple of really good, crispy spring rolls, Richard ordered his Pad Thai and I asked for a Green Curry.
Both dishes came out looking a little different from other Thai restaurants that we have enjoyed, but resting in the enjoyment of our appetizers we tucked in. No disappointment at all. Rich said it definitely tasted different from previous Pad Thai experiences, but that it was “really, really good”. (That’s high praise coming from Richard whose vocabulary over food usually consists in “OK” or “not as good as others”, but “OK” is his predominant assessment!).
My Green Curry was also most definitely different to others that I have eaten, but the “mmmmm’s’” and “aaaaah’s” that ensued as I enjoyed the dish certainly bespoke the deliciousness (I don’t care if that’s not a real word – it fits the moment!). I do not lack in vocabulary when it comes to food, and apart from my audible mewls of pleasure as I ate, I remember telling our server that it was the best Green Curry I had eaten, that it was absolutely awesome.
So, for the travelers out there, Paducah, KY offers Escapes B&B as a very good and unusual place to stay and also has some great eateries.
By the same token, if you ever stay in Bolingbrook, Chicago, never ever eat at or order out from “Golden Palace” Chinese restaurant. We arrived here yesterday at about 5.30pm worn out from 430 miles on the bike, muggy weather, and dealing with several stretches of road works that slowed us down. We were tired and hungry and needed to eat and get to a spiritual concert and meet with friends at St. Dennis church in Lockport (that’s another posting), so we decided to order into our hotel.
As soon as we opened the containers I knew we were in for a bad experience. Trying to get the pieces of chicken out of the thick, sticky, General Tso “goo” was awful. My pot stickers were great clumps of congealed dough, and Richard’s crab rangoon looked greasy and sorry. We were hungry and ate some, but I immediately regretted it and it sat on my stomach for a couple of hours.
Thank goodness the fellowship and sharing God-time we enjoyed later at St. Dennis, along with a couple of slices of decent pizza, managed to wipe out that bad experience. Next time I will go without rather than put bad food in my stomach. I deserve better!!
About six weeks ago in my posting Going Raw- Part One, I wrote about the process I am going through to change from eating cooked foods to eating raw foods. This is all part of a bigger process that I have embarked upon in order to get as healthy as I can. The food area of my life is probably the last major bastion that I am attempting to overcome and, because it has its roots in my childhood, it is proving to be the most difficult.
However, there is another area of my life that I am addressing right now that is having a major impact on my health. This is in the area of exercise. Yes, I know, that’s a four letter word in my vocabulary too!!! I have been struggling with exercise for many years. Which is really annoying to have to admit when I remember being the athletic person that I was in school.
I played on my High School’s netball team (UK equivalent of basketball) in each year of school. In several of those years I was the team captain. I was fanatical about netball and just remembering it, I can feel my adrenaline level soaring. We played netball during the winter season, September through March, which meant we played twice a week as part of our class PE program and then the team would also practice once or twice a week after school. Matches were played on Saturdays.
After graduating from school I went on to a teacher’s training college, and sports and gymnastics continued to be part of the regular curriculum. During my second year of college I “went off the rails” and left to get married. A baby came along quickly and my new lifestyle was very alien to anything I had known up until then. Physical activities disappeared from my life.
Many years and a divorce later I attempted to return to some form of exercise. But I only hiccupped along in fits and starts. I tried aerobics but felt very clumsy and because I am not good at multi-tasking I simply did not have the coordination necessary. I tried working with a personal trainer but it proved to be too expensive, so I just gave up.
By now I had remarried and had another baby at age forty and had not been able to rid my body of the baby weight as I had when I was in my twenties. I think this was when I pretty much gave up on myself for a while and simply indulged in eating what I wanted. The weight slowly crept up. I remember pledging with myself that I would never allow myself to go over two hundred pounds. I sat at two hundred for a few years.
About fifteen years ago, while living in Naples, Italy, I met a wonderful yoga instructor and started practicing yoga with her. I loved the asana’s and working with the breathe. Moving slowly into and maintaining the poses under Meredith’s compassionate instruction, I began to feel somewhat reconnected with my body. “Sun salutations” became my passion along with the “fish” pose. My weight diminished some and I felt healthy for the first time in a long time.
Then in 2004 I moved to Jacksonville, Florida and, in hindsight, I realize that it took me about two to three years to make the big transition from my European culture to the American culture. My exercise pattern got lost in the shuffle for quite a while. Every once in a while I would make a half-hearted effort to implement a walking regime. I love being outside and walking puts me close to God’s creation which allows me to exercise my body and my soul. I also found a good Yoga studio and began going regularly again.
Then I had a shoulder problem. Had to quit yoga while I dealt with that and exercise got away from me again. Once the shoulder healed I finally pushed myself back into yoga but shortly after that I had a knee problem. Six months later I tried to get back into yoga again but found that it re-awakened the knee issue so quit. I tried walking again but the knee was just too much of a problem and, again, I found myself at that quitting-on-me stage.
One day at the beginning of this year I got on the scales and realized that my weight had bloomed to two hundred and sixteen pounds. I felt defeated and at an all-time low with myself. I made the decision to try and go raw – again (I had been dabbling with raw for a few years), or at least vegetarian. But underneath I knew that if I didn’t start exercising I would get nowhere fast. However, I simply could not get myself motivated to do it.
I think God took pity on me – again. He has a habit of doing that from time to time and when I get to the end of my rope, he offers me the beginning of His! But, as usual, He has a funny way of doing it. My husband was hospitalized toward the end of February with chest pains. Long story short: no heart problems but he was finally forced to look at high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and the doctors were serious when they told him to make lifestyle changes. Our diet swung drastically to mainly salads, lots of veggies and fruit, and we cut out most of the carbs.
Within a month or two we both lost weight dramatically. Then I hit a plateau and stayed there and got depressed. Underneath I knew the answer was exercise but I just didn’t want to have to deal with it. Again God came to my rescue in His usual round about way, and in July I was introduced to Wendy, a personal Pilates instructor. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do Pilates because my only knowledge of this form of exercise was a memory of a friend who used to do it (a much fitter, younger woman!!!), and she would say things like “We were massacred at Pilates class tonight” or “I didn’t think I’d make it through the whole class today.”
I am grateful for the God-incidental way that I got to Wendy, for I’m sure I’d never have taken the leap otherwise. She is a compassionate but relentless instructor with a grand sense of humor. I told her where I was at and she said something like “I guess I’ll have to work you”. I have been doing Pilates twice a week with Wendy since about mid-July. I have pushed below my plateau, not a lot but enough. However what has happened to my body is nothing short of a miracle.
I have a level of sustained energy that I did not have before. My body is so much more flexible and feels very alive. There has been a shift in shape; I cannot explain it any clearer than that. The first major change that I noticed was one day when I went to do up the strap on a pair of shoes and realized I did not have to get into a certain position to “accommodate my stomach” as I leaned down! My tummy has definitely toned and my legs are so much more flexible. I can climb a flight of stairs without feeling breathless.
This week Richard and I are enjoying our traditional week of Thanksgiving in our time share in Orlando. Yesterday afternoon we went to Universal to watch the new Harry Potter movie (which was great by the way!). We walked around for a while before the movie and I noticed that I had no problem keeping up with Richard (he’s over six foot and has a long stride). Nor did I find myself getting breathless keeping up with him and, in fact, I felt quite invigorated. Today we went to Sea World and the same thing happened.
As I sit here typing this post I have to make a confession. I have been wanting to walk on a regular basis for about a month now. The reason I have not is because I did not want to feel tired and breathless or realize that I couldn’t keep a decent pace for long. Yesterday and today have shown me that I can get out there, keep a good pace, and feel really good. I know that this is partly because of the diet changes I have made as well as the regular exercising with Pilates. It is a total change of lifestyle that is allowing me to feel good about myself and to feel so much more healthy. This is what self nurturing is truly about.