June 28, 2010

Getting Rubbed the Right Way

Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology and hot stone are all types of massage therapies that I have received over the years to combat high levels of stress, migraines, and a recurring lower back problem.  They've become a necessity.  I'll sacrifice a meal in order to squeeze in a session no matter what's going on in my world.  Tough to do when you're on the move but thankfully, massages are easily accessible with mobile spas, neighborhood beauty salons and even shopping malls getting on the feel good bandwagon.  To find the right kind of massage for you I would suggest you first check in with your doctor for a medical perspective.  Finding the right masseuse, one that creates a warm and comforting environment, understands that not every one has the same needs or intensity level desires may be more elusive.

MassageEnvy.com succinctly says "Therapeutic massage is the manipulation of the muscles and tissues of the body to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, and stress" but I can't help but feel while the physical benefits are obvious, the longest lasting benefit of a good massage is the positive emotional state one can leave you in.  Now herein lies the "rub".  I've found that not all massage therapists care about how you actually feel.  As the timer begins on what you hope will be a 60-90 minute slice of heaven, things can go terribly wrong.  Any masseuse that doesn't take the time to ask even the most basic customer care questions, like "are you comfortable?", "do you have any medical conditions or injuries that I should be aware of?" or "how much pressure do you like?" has never seen my back on their table again.  There must be a certain sensitivity given to a person splayed vulnerably on thick white sheets.  The perfunctory rubs we get from our significant others are not meant to be any more than expressions of love but when you're aching, fried and opening your wallet to watch anywhere from $60.00 - $200.00 fly out, you should have certain expectations.  Incredibly high expectations.  

Doing your research pays off.  When I was faced with moving from a day spa where I'd had standing monthly massage appointments with for many years (my 2 favorite therapists moved away at the same time!!), I asked my friends for recommendations, read online reviews, even interviewed day spa staff members before I wrapped myself in any new towels.  My diligence paid off and I found a wonderful, no frills, full service spa where the masseuses don't treat you like a number and your comfort is of the utmost importance.  In soothing tones, they ask all of the right questions, expose only body parts that are being worked on while keeping the rest of me covered in warm sheets.  The cool glass of lemon water that I'm given at the end of my cathartic experience is a tiny, simple gesture that goes a long way in assuring my return.  And it's sheer bliss that the physical and emotional effects of a massage from this special place lasts for days.  I've pretty much guaranteed that I'll continue to get rubbed the right way for a long time to come.

June 21, 2010

The Fresh Factor

The Raw Food Diet, vegan-ism and the Pure Food and Wine restaurant in NYC are all eating concepts I've dabbled in and enjoyed - in little bits and pieces. Eating well has become a healthy obsession for me but I'm not at the point where I can get into any extreme eating plans.  In fact, the word "plan" really freaks me out.  Structure and food do not make an appealing pairing.  Having the flexibility to bend, stretch and indulge my palate is a right I'm not willing to part with.  Constant worry about calorie counts and fat percentages just zaps the enjoyment from feeding oneself.  But I'm not jaded enough to believe that eating any old thing without concern for your well being is any more sensible.

About a month ago, I went to my first Farmer's Market of the season and while walking from tent to tent filled with homemade breads, sweet preserves and plump, juicy vegetables, I had an eco-friendly light bulb moment.  Instead of limiting the kinds of foods I can eat, how about eliminating as much of the artificial, processed stuff as possible, cooking almost every meal and using the freshest ingredients available?  This is nothing new nor is it revolutionary.  It's just makes basic good health sense. We so often reach for easy, fast and cheap because we're tired, overworked or wallet challenged.  But we always seem to find time and money for the things that are most important to us, don't we?  I've been buying fresher foods and cooking a lot lately using more organic ingredients.  I find the time to do it by just eliminating the excuses and putting my health at the top of my to-do list. I'm trying new and exciting recipes while learning that experimentation with flavors and textures is a whole lot of fun.  I feel better, look healthier and an even better added bonus is that I'm losing a few pounds without giving up the foods I love.  Oh I still eat out, a lot.  I just pay attention to what I'm taking in and probably annoy a few waiters in the process with my many menu questions but living your best life is about making no apologies for taking care of yourself, isn't it?

FRESH FIND: This Roasted Tomato Basil Soup recipe from my favorite TV chef, Ina Garten, was a big hit at brunch this weekend.  Serve cold as a refreshing summer treat!

June 14, 2010

An Important Play Date

If there's one thing I've learned from running my own business is that in order for your life to work while you're building your empire, you must schedule regular play dates with yourself and others.  A lot of entrepreneurs, myself included, have a tendency to be delegation-averse, fearing that no one can do what you do as well as you do it.  That's just fine but it's the surefire, fastest way to a full fledged burnout.  I've been there, I've done that.

Taking time out and time off for rejuvenation just makes sense.  Think about it - you must feed your body when it's hungry or eventually it will stop working for you.  You must feed your soul too or it will betray you with a full arsenal of negative thoughts and emotions and act as Kryptonite to rob you of your super powers.  Don't attempt to fool yourself into thinking that you are immune.  You may feel like you can handle any combination of life's random onslaughts now because you've told yourself that you must be resilient and roll with every punch but over time, your mind and body will speak and what they have to say may render you speechless or worse.

This year, since I'm so very fortunate to have work to do for my business, I'm unable to take a traditional vacation.  Last year, I was able to take an entire month to replenish my creative juices, so to speak.  But since I know the value of a soothed mind and a tranquil spirit, I've declared all Summer weekends big, happy play dates.  My significant other and I just had an incredible one where we unabashedly acted like the kids at heart that we are.  We did big things, little things, silly things, thought provoking things.  We screamed and yelled, danced, held hands and sat very still.  And for it all, we know we are much better people for ourselves and others.

June 7, 2010

Confessions of a Quirky Collector

Since I was a small child growing up in southern New Jersey, I've always had a penchant for multiples.  As a gangly pre-teen who reached my current height of 5'8" with size 10 feet by age 12, my fashion choices were limited by what was available in that obscure world between the Juniors and Misses sections.  My clever and imaginative mother would go on search and find missions in her favorite specialty department store, somehow always able to identify the appropriate styles for my age and then bulk buy them in every color available.  I still shop like this today, especially for shoes and J. Crew cardigans.  Old habits....

I think that childhood experience, in some roundabout way, is the reason I started collecting.  My need to see similar items all lined up is undeniably strong.  Early on, I was obsessed with tiny porcelain shoes, all made by a singular artist.  That morphed into paintings of flowers a la Georgia O'Keeffe.  For the past few years, I've been fixated on cups.  Tea cups, coffee cups, espresso cups, mugs.  Not just your everyday Fiesta cup either.  Quirky, eclectic, highly unusual cups.  My most recent drool-worthy find is the handpainted espresso cup and dessert tray (above) discovered in an art gallery in Washington, DC.  The artist is unknown but what drew me to the set are the brilliant colors used which remind me of my own jewelry design aesthetic - vivid, bright, fun.

And I'm on a discovery roll!  Take a wide-eyed look at my recent handcrafted Etsy finds by 4 amazing artisans:
Do you share my love of quirky collections?  Leave a comment and share your discoveries.

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