Sunday, December 19, 2010

Postural Distortion: The benefits of Bodywork and Rehabilitative Exercise.

“It was the craziest thing. All I did was bend over a little bit and my back went out!” or “I just reached for something on my desk, felt a funny little zing and within 12 hours my shoulder was on fire.” or “I’m not sure what I did! My ________ (knee, hip, shoulder, back, neck, etc. etc.) started bothering me a little and over the last _________ (day, week, month etc. etc.) it’s steadily gotten worse.”

What do all of the above scenarios have in common besides pain that screams for attention? Believe it or not it’s very possible that the postural changes or repetitive motion that set them into motion began not days, weeks or months but years ago! Yes, I said years.
Spinal Development
Postural distortion is very real and the longer it continues the deeper it becomes and the harder it is to reverse. It reminds me of ever growing snowball that’s been rolled down a snowy hill.
The healthy back has predictable curves in the neck, mid-back and lower back/hip areas. Yet, a baby is born without those classic spinal. The process of becoming upright, crawling and walking imprints the curves that allows us to balance head over pelvis and move in an upright position. This very fact shows me that posture – good or bad – can be a powerful element of change where our bodies are concerned.
We are constantly fighting against gravity, which is also a powerful element of postural change – usually bad. Just conjure up a picture of a person who is 120 years old, (S)he can still walk. Picture what this person would look like while walking. Did you picture someone bent forward, looking at their feet? Maybe using a cane or walker? Taking small mincing steps and looking as if they may fall at any minute? Sadly this is all too often the postural reality for many people far younger than 120 and the changes from which is springs begin when we are far, far younger than even 50!
Regular bodywork emphasizing postural restructuring can act as a positive and extremely powerful element for postural change. Rehabilitative exercise does the same. Team them up and you have an unbeatable combo that results in postural changes over time that literally peel years off your appearance.
This postural restructuring may have a benefit far more functional than simply making you move like a younger person. In most cases postural restructuring through massage therapy and rehabilitative exercise can reverse the changes that will eventually lead to pain. In many cases it will decrease or even reverse pain syndromes that defy Western Medicine.
Here at Quintessential Bodyworks LLC we pride ourselves in keeping up with the ever evolving field of postural restructuring though both massage therapy and rehabilitative exercise. In future blog posts I’ll cover these topics in greater depth.
Yes, things happen for a reason, but the key to true happiness is figuring out that reason.  -  Sharon Abel

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Massage Therapy Newsletter

CLICK HERE to see our Winter Massage Therapy Newsletter

Featuring the benefits of massage - It's more than just a backrub. The fallout of stress.

Reiki: Understanding energy work

Easing Holiday Angst: 5 Stress busters

Portion Control made easy: Because it's not the extra food that you eat during a holiday meal that causes the problems. It's not getting back on track the next day that leads to weight gain.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Save some $$ while you save GrandMother Earth or a tiny piece of her

Through the clean window of my French Doors
What can I say? I'm a clean window and mirror freak-a-zoid. The energy in my nest just doesn't feel as good if the mirrors, windows and come to think of it picture glass isn't sparkly clean.

I like to clean my windows before putting up any Winter Holiday decorations and today is window cleaning day! Clean windows maximize the amount of light flowing through - and light is not exactly abundant in the great dark north during this time of year. I also imagine that the energy and the blessings of the coming New Year will flow more easily from the universe to me through my clean windows. Part of the charm is what is in my window cleaning bottle.

One of the biggest myths perpetuated by manufacturers of cleaning products is that said products make it "easier" to clean. In our harried minds that often translates to the idea that these products will somehow do the cleaning for us or at least motivate us to clean more often but it doesn't work that way.

The truth is that you can mix your own, more earth friendly window cleaner in about a minute and for pennies.

There is also an entire crop of new "Green" manufacturers who sell extremely expensive items designed to feather their pockets while we buy and use those products in order to "save" the Earth. When you can't afford their exorbitant prices it's natural to think that you're not wealthy enough to save the Earth. I assure you that is far from the truth. It's possible to make your own contribution no matter how tight finances are.

I don't consider wasting money to be very green when there are other more simple alternatives around. Mixing my own cleaning products while saving money makes me feel twice as good. Add the fact that I can get in some pretty decent activity if I throw on some music and boogy my windows clean and you triple the charm.

So enough chit chat and onto my recipe for window cleaner...

1 empty spray bottle (about the size of the average window cleaning spray bottle)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
3 tablespoons of ammonia (not the sudsy kind)
4 tablespoons of witch hazel (optional) why it's in the mix is a long story but I like to add it.
5 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol (optional but makes the cleaner evaporate faster)
6 drops of basil essential oil (optional)
7 drops of sweet orange or lemon oil (optional)
Fill the rest of the bottle with water and use as you would any window cleaner.
I shake mine before each window to be sure everything is mixed up.

Should you decide to get creative with mxing up your own cleaning products be really careful about mixing bleach into anything, especially ammonia or vinegar! You'll inadvertently make toxic fumes in the process.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Curly AKA The Little Seed That Could

Who is Curly you ask? Curly is our family avocado plant. He's also our family symbol of overcoming adversity. I had planned on exporting the initial story I had written about him along with the updates I'd posted over the years he's been with us. Unfortunately, they were apparently deleted.

So I'll try to give you a brief synopsis of his short but challenging life. No, actually I won't even try to make it short because there's just no way to do that and tell his story effectively. So if you have a desire to learn about Curly either settle in or bookmark this page so you can break it into installments.

I think it was almost 4 years ago that curly came into my life. He was nothing but an avocado seed back then - the leftovers from some raw dish I had made - I think it was probably chocolate mousse. On a whim I decided to see if I could grow him into an avocado tree.

I did some reasearch and discovered that you're supposed to use toothpicks to hold the avocado out of the water. I didn't have any toothpicks on hand. Being the roll with the punches kind-o-gal I am I tossed him a small glass which I fill halfway with water and sat on the kitchen window-sill.

Against all odds and despite the cold New England window environment and being tossed in cup that I sometimes remembered to add water to and sometimes didn't - he began to sprout! I remember proudly showing off his sprout to my family who rolled their eyes and dismissed him as one of "mom's weird experiments."

By that time it was Christmas and we were doing tons of cooking and my family was in and out of the kitchen and at some point someone must have knocked over Curly's cup without realizing it. I found him tucked into the corner when I was mopping the floor. Poor guy's sprout was totally dried up.

Most people would have tossed him in the trash and thought not another thing about it BUT not me! I washed his glass, tossed him back in and put in the amount of water he had grown used to. Nothing happened for ages but for some reason I kept watering him. Then believe it or not I noticed he was again sending out what looked like a sprout. I kid you not that this "sprout" emerged during that holiday season almost a year after he had been sadly rolled onto the floor.

His sprout grew to about an inch long but he never sent out any roots. I keep waiting for the roots and watering him but the roots never came! Then one day I entered the kitchen and noticed that curly was looking different. His sprout looked shorter and well... just odd. My sheepish husband admitted that he had knocked over the cup and partially broken Curly's sprout off.

This time I wasn't going to mess up. I bought a pot, pulled out the little bag of potting soil I keep for topping off my houseplants and planted him. And again........nothing.......more........happened for a very long time.

Not being a patient person I did what any obsessed avocado seed owner would do. I partially dug him up..
and discovered...
that I had planted the poor guy upside down! Would this poor plant never get a break??

That was the bad news the good news was that Curly - in his infinite desire to make something of himself - had sent out a root. That root had begun pointing up but then turned downward and was reaching toward the bottom of the pot. So upside down he had to remain.

Where there were roots there was life and so I kept watering Curly and he  FINALLY once again sent out another sprout and actually began to thrive and grew into the plant you see in the picture, taken this past summer.

Enter Hutchinson - our Connemara (aka Jack Russell) Terrier. I'm sad to say that a couple of months ago while tossing his chew rope around Hutch wacked Curly and bent his trunk in half. There wasn't a way to save it as it was partially broken through so I cut off the top half of Curly.

Being the resiliant little plant that he is he has since sent out a new sprout and has leaves again and so the saga of "The little seed that could" continues.

If you've made it this far I applaud you. That was one long involved story. But it's a story with a message.

Curly has become our family symbol for not giving up in the face of adversity. No matter what is thrown his way or how many times we mow him down he just keeps coming back. When I'm feeling like life has dished out more than I can handle I think about Curly and it never fails to make me smile. And smiling always makes me feel better no matter what I'm facing.

Never, Never, Never Give up! - Winston Churchill

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Body Sense Magazine - Autumn - Winter

As part of my member of the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals I receive a link to Body Sense, their online client magazine. There are a variety of informational and, I believe interesting articles on Massage, Wellness and Self-Care topics.

Please feel free to ask questions about any of the articles you read. Likewise if you attempt to access the publication and can't please post a comment so I'm aware of it. Accessing it should be as simple as clicking on the words "Body Sense."

I think education is power. I think that being able to communicate with people is power. One of my main goals on the planet is to encourage people to empower themselves. - Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Identifying and celebrating the Radiance in my life is something I've been doing for several years. Doing so has pulled me through some very difficult times when I would have rather curled into a little ball and spent a year or two in bed with the lights off and the blinds pulled.

Using the term, Radiance to describe the moments of joy in each day is a relatively new thing for me. I borrowed it from Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons after reading her book Potatoes not Prozac. More on that at some point in the future. For now I'll just say that I can't recommend her books highly enough!

Identifying and celebrating the Radiance each day brings helps keep me grounded in the positive and in the present. When life smacks you with less than positive happenstance it's easy to get hung up on the negative aspects of life. Doing so has never once helped me turn around a situation. If anything it just puts my attention on my ill luck and makes me feel all the worse.

It's only when I've kept my eyes open and alert for Radiance that my mood lightens and I begin to feel more positive. Feeling more positive puts me in a better place to deal with the less than great stuff that life tosses my way.

I'm pretty sure that there are more than a few people who will read this and immediately think, "Pollyanna!" Maybe, but believe it for not there is a very good reason why concentrating on Radiance can actually help you overcome obstacles in your life.

It turns out that Radiance helps your body raise your Beta Endorphin levels. High Beta Endorphin leaves you more hopeful, positive, ready to take responsibility and more solution oriented. Low Beta Endorphin levels leaves you feeling isolated, reactive, overwhelmed, and feeling "done to" by others. HMMMMM which would you rather experience?

It can take practice to recognize Radiance if you're used to putting more effort into recognizing what is wrong with your life than recognizing that which is right. One hint is that Radiant happenings make you want to smile or would if you weren't so miserable. Smiley

Some of my stand out Radiant moments from the past week were as follows.
It was raining and miserable all day. It began to pour rain right before it was time for me to leave for the day and I figured I'd either have to wait around for the rain to stop or get totally soaked on my way to my car. Instead of getting annoyed I mentally thought, "Oh Well!" which is something I do to avoid being annoyed since being annoyed never helps anything. Well, I got to the door and the rain had stopped and as I stepped outside I witnessed the most beautiful double rainbeau!
Smiley It left me feeling so happy and light.

I purchased three, other than color, identical pet beds to put in front of our woodstove so that our cats and puppy can all enjoy the warmth from the fire. They were quite well received especially by our puppy Hutchinson. Our cat Starsky was sleeping on one and Hutch was on the other and they looked so adorable. I went into the kitchen to get dinner started and when I returned to the livingroom Hutch was sleeping on what appeared to be one bed and the other two were no where to be seen. Turns out that when Starsky vacated the bed he was sleeping on Hutch pulled it and the third bed on top of the bed he had been sleeping on, climbed aboard and went back to sleep. All three beds were simply nested underneath him. Smiley

This morning when I woke up Hutch was lying to my left, half on his back and half curled up looking so cute and puppy-like while sound asleep. Smiley

There were tons of other Radiant moments to my week but you get the idea. What Radiant Moments have you experienced lately? Smiley

One joy scatters a hundred grieves. - Chinese Proverb

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wellness..... It's not a destination

  • Cambridge dictionaries online defines wellness as: "The state of being healthy."
  • The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines wellness as: "The condition of good physical and mental health, especially when maintained by proper diet, exercise, and habits."
  • gives two definitions of wellness: "The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, esp. as the result of deliberate effort." and "An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases."
  • Finally Miriam Webster's online dictionary defines it as: " The quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal <lifestyles that promote wellness>"
I'm here to tell you that all of the above definitions are unnecessarily limiting. I have known people who while not totally healthy, reside at a level of wellness I can only hope to reach one day. 

You see - most people tend to look at wellness as an endpoint or a pinacle to reach rather than as the continuum it actually is. We're human and as such aren't perfect so we don't reach high level wellness and automatically stay there. More commonly we move up and down the wellness continuum, depending upon what we have going on in our lives at any given moment.

Many people think that wellness is all about losing weight and exercising - a lot! This is also a misunderstanding.

If you google "Wellness Wheel" you'll find wheels with an incredible number of spokes. I like to keep it simple and as such like Eastern concept of Mind, Body, Spirit.

I really think that this concept can contain all of the components that help us move to high level wellness.

The three areas I tend to write about are Healthy Movement, Healthy Eating and Stress reduction. Different aspects of therapeutic massage can actually be helpful to all three of these areas - but more on that later.

I believe strongly that by eating well you will begin to feel better and be more mentally centered and present in your life. Healthy movement helps you connect with yourself on a whole new physical level. And stress reduction because you can't be present in your life until you break free of  the stress - self medicate - stress cycle so many people are trapped in these days. To accomplish change in those three areas means you are making time for self care and as they say in the airline biz, "You need to put your own oxygen mask on first if you want to be conscious to help others put their masks on."

The final misconception I want to tackle is the idea that we can opt out of the wellness continuum. You can ignore it but you'll still be somewhere on the wellness continuum and chances are you won't be enjoying yourself.

My recommendation for anyone wishing to move themselves to a higher level of personal wellness is simple.  Begin by embracing learning. As you learn about healthy eating, movement and mindfulness begin to embrace the concepts with which you identify, making them part of your life. Don't try to do it all at once. Choose one little change at a time.

As you embrace positive habits the less than positive habits will begin to fade and disappear. Now doesn't that sound easier than trying to put your life into a waste basket, turn it upside down and change everything at once?

The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results. - Anthony Robbins

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Serendipity?

When I decided to connect a blog to our massage therapy website I wanted the emphasis to be on more than just massage. Because it plays such a huge role in my life, I naturally thought that the blog might center on the concept of Personal Wellness. Wellness includes massage along with a whole lot more.

So I set off to create a blog about wellness but the darn thing just wouldn't take form. I tried various names, all of which sounded too stilted or typical or just - not - right. So then I decided to try to find a name that would describe what wellness is to me. Good luck with that! Finally I decided to just relax, step back from the project and let it happen in its own time and on its own terms and that's when it hit me! Serendipity!

According to the definition that I placed at the top of my blog serendipity is "The gift for finding something good accidentally; luck or good fortune" yet it's so much more to me.

Serendipity is my muse, my gut feelings, my intuition and a leading force in my life. My life becomes so very rich when I allow it to unfold rather than trying to force myself into some artificial mold. It's during the unfolding that the serendipity comes into play.

I also struggle a little with the idea that serendipity is a gift. If it is a gift I think of it as a gift available to anyone. Of course there's a catch. I mean honestly, isn't there always a catch? To receive the gift of serendipity you must be willing to relinquish some control. You also have to be willing to accept and build upon the things that come into your life by chance even if they seem different than what you thought you were wishing for. In that way I guess I consider serendipity a gift we give to ourselves.

That brings me back to wellness. So many of the things I know and want to share about wellness came to me through serendipity. Yes, I have an education (several) and more than a few certifications but the fact that they all work in synergy is total serendipity.

On that note, I'll thank you for visiting. I hope you'll come again and use anything that interests you as a springboard to bring more serendipity into your life.