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So, its your first time on a massage table….ever. You don’t usually do this, as a matter of fact, until Groupon emailed you a listing for your local spa, you’ve thought, “massages are a luxury, only for those who can afford to lay around and be pampered all day.” After your therapist invites you into their room, instructs you to dress down and lie on the table, and politely closes the door or curtain behind them to give you time to do so, you have a small panic attack to yourself. “Ok, so…do I have to take all of my clothes off? What’re they going to do? Do I lie face down or face up? I haven’t had a pedicure recently… I should have done that.”

It’s completely understandable to be a little apprehensive when approaching this situation, after all, for the most part, you’re now entrusting a complete stranger with the care of your body in a most vulnerable physical state. However, you can still have complete control over what goes on in the room and ultimately how your first massage experience turns out. I’ve compiled a small list of things one can do as a client/patient to allow the session to be one of complete relaxation rather than silent anxiety.

 

Step 1: Let Your Therapist Have It!

You are the most important thing in a room dedicated to massage. The entire atmosphere and energy in the room should be of the intent to make as many positive changes in your body as one can in an hour long session. With that being said, you have every right to express all of your questions, concerns, presumptions, apprehensions, and issues. If you’ve received a male therapist and would have preferred a female therapist for example, make it the first thing you address, politely of course.  Let it be known that it’s your first time (or first time in a while) on a table, and even express any nervousness that you may be feeling. It’s your therapists job to attend your needs in their entirety and  work within the guidelines that you establish as the client, and also to encourage you to get out absolutely everything you need to that may  get in the way of the treatment itself. Tell them the last major injury you’ve had, parts of the body that you feel least comfortable with them touching, parts of the body you feel need the most attention, etc. If you establish a level of communication with your therapist that allows you to feel empowered, then you’re already taking a step towards allowing your body to make progress in the  processes of healing and positive change.

 

Step 2: Breathe

I cant stress enough how powerful the effects of  simply breathing can have on the body, both before and during a session. Once you’ve gotten on the table take the time to breathe deeply for about a minute and a half or so (if you exhale for a duration that’s twice as long as that in which you inhale, you will automatically slow down your heart rate and find yourself sinking into the table.) This preparatory breathing sequence may also put your mind at ease about some of the things you may have found uncomfortable about the situation. In essence, you’ll forget what you were even worried about and will become more conscious of your body itself and can then pinpoint what areas you feel need the most and least amount of work.

 

Step 3: Allow

More than massage being a tactic to physically manipulate your body into a better, less stressed shape, its structured to affect the mind in a way that breaks down subconscious patterns that one has created to guard itself from stress or trauma. The treatment starts there. One must allow themselves the availability of change in the mind in order for it to really effect the body. In lay-man’s  terms, in your mind you have to let go of feeling bad in order to let yourself want to feel good again. Even the most technically sound therapist would not be able to break the barrier that you’ve set in your mind that continues to hold on to stress and tension in your body. If you are to have any expectations when entering your room, expect change, and expect release. Try not to let your mind stick to things like the image of your therapists face, or whether there’s enough time on the parking meter outside. Consider the room as an environment of solace from the outside world, and your therapist as a set of hands that facilitate the release of the stresses from said world.

 

Step 4: Be Grateful

With every patient I’ve ever had on my table, before I start, I do a few select ‘warm up’ moves that I find bring myself to a place where I’m expressing the utmost amount of love and gratitude. I try to appreciate the opportunity to affect one’s well being through the healing process as well as the fact that someone has relinquished all of their ails in order to let me do what I do, because I know its not the easiest thing in the world to do that. Our bodies are of the utmost value to us and coming to a decision to trust anyone with your own is a challenging process. The best work goes forth, however, when that gratitude is reciprocated. Just acknowledging to yourself that, when in session, you’re now in the presence of one that genuinely cares about your state of being can inspire your  body to release a multitude of tension. Just like anything else in life, we long to have the support of another human being to assist us in reaching the goals we want for ourselves. It makes it much easier to achieve those goals when there’s someone who not only  wants and encourages you to reach them, but is willing to go out of their way to help you do so as well. Accept the righteous intention of  who is attempting to heal you and express, if only to yourself, genuine gratitude towards them.

Most every first timer, barring very rare and uncomfortable circumstances, leaves a spa or massage clinic feeling better than when they entered, how much better, however, depends entirely upon the client themselves. It starts with your state of mind going in, and translates down through the rest of the fibers of your muscular and nervous tissue. Understand that it’s YOUR massage, YOUR time and YOUR experience and it can be as relaxing and nurturing as you’d like it to be. Trust that you know what’s best for your body and aim to get that every session, especially your first one. Afterward, you may not only find that you’re more amenable to getting another massage, but also a bit more open to change in general.

….oh, and don’t forget to tip. Like I said, “love and gratitude” ;)

 

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Jan 112012
 

Hey there. I was just doing a little middle of the night cleaning (no I’m not a meth addict, just a mom) and my mind wandered to a movie I used to love watching over and over.

Anybody else out there remember 2Ge+her? If not, let me fill you in. The mid to late 90′s was a time awash in pop music. There were girl groups and boy bands galore. Being a child of the  80′s  and early 90′s new wave/grunge era I was kind of in my own special  hell. Then, in 2000 a shining beacon of satire was set ablaze by all that was good at MTV.

2ge+her (or to be less confusing Together) was an awesome faux boy band created for MTV’s first full length, made for cable movie. I remember watching the movie with my little brother who learned most of his snark and disdainful sarcasm from me ( passing on those desirable traits to the young’ns is what I do).  The movie chronicles the formation of the band through a “reality” style documentary. Each of the band members represents one of the archetypes represented in most boy bands. Jerry O’Keefe  “the heartthrob”, Chad Linus  “the shy one”, Doug Linus “the older brother”, “QT” McKnight “the cute one”, and Mickey Parke “the bad boy”, are all enlisted by the Svengali like Bob Buss and begin their journey to boy band stardom in a run down RV.

The back-story on each of the guys was so deliciously ridiculous, that I couldn’t help but fall in love. Chad the teen pageant king? And Doug, his balding waaaaay older brother who gets braces to appear more “youthful” to fans? Pure genius. And then, there’s the crown jewel that is Mickey Parke. Suburban gangster all the way. The movie has so many quotable lines, that my brother and I can still do a Together bit at any family gathering, should we so choose.

The thing about Together is, they didn’t just make a movie making fun of boy bands. They became an actual thing. It was great to see these guys singing songs with lines like,  “You took my sweater my hat, I can’t find my cat…” and”You plus me, it doesn’t equal us. You took my car now I gotta take the bus.”, actually charting against real bands that weren’t joking. I mean, these guys were on TRL. For weeks. They went on tour with Britney Spears. They even got their own TV show.  It was a genre inside a genre that ranks right up there with The Monkees. And in the long run it poked fun at the fanatic inside of all of us.

If you haven’t seen it, and you’re looking for some fun PG-13 humor, you should check it out. The movie is available on DVD. I think I might get a copy before our family vacation this spring. It’s time to relive a little early adulthood and have a good laugh.

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Jan 032012
 

So, today on Twitter someone was complaining about people who blog to make friends and get free stuff. While I can agree that no one should be blogging in an attempt to get merchandise for free in exchange for giving the company publicity, I don’t see what’s so wrong with making friends. I mean yes you write because you love it, because you have something to say, or because it’s your job; but why is it so wrong to hope that someone will read what you wrote and come to like what you represent enough to want to get to know you better? Am I supposed to be sitting here in an aloof attempt to thrust my so called knowledge on masses of people as though I were in an ivory tower? That seems a little pretentious, if you ask me. I certainly wouldn’t say that anyone should write anything in an attempt to gain notoriety, but sharing a part of yourself with others isn’t exactly nefarious. So if I share something here, and it touches you, and you want to share in return I consider that success.  Anyway, that’s really all I have to say on the matter. I hope you’re having a great evening. Rest well.

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Richard Matthew Smith is one of the youngest and most promising massage therapists in his field. While attending classes at the California Healing Arts College in West Los Angeles (one of the top schools for massage therapy in the nation,) he not only developed a natural instinct for healing, but also graduated at the top of his class, completing the 13-month course in only 8 months. Since then, he’s returned to his alma mater to teach advanced massage techniques to new students, as well as providing exceptional treatment to clients in both the West LA and Beverly Hills areas. His unique technique, incorporating principles of Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Swedish Massage, and Tragre therapy, transcends the idea of a ‘traditional feel-good massage’.  I am glad to have him as a contributor to this community. I look forward to all his advice, as he helps us all learn new ways to listen to our bodies, and take care of ourselves.

Ever wonder why the terms “relax” and “take a deep breath” always seem to come in succession to one another? Well breathing deeply, more than it being a seemingly quick fix to tame your anxiety, actually does help your body physically relax itself. Studies have shown that slowing down one’s breathing pattern can have immense benefits to the homeopathic state of the body. As a massage therapist, I’ve found that most have a habit to hold their breath when facing a potentially uncomfortable situation (both figuratively and literally). I always encourage my clients to focus on breathing in for a count of three and out for a count of six to take their mind off of the apprehension they may have when in session. You’d be amazed, however, at the immediate effects that it has on the body. Along with slowing down the heart rate and increasing circulation throughout the body, breathing in a slow controlled pattern allows the subconscious to go to work on the muscular system, releasing tension, and a lot of times, releasing what we’d call ‘knots’ that have been developed due to stress. It is perhaps the most valuable advice I’d give someone when doing anything stressful, whether you’re at your desk, in the weight room….on Fear Factor…take your time and breathe through situations and see if it  not only leaves you feeling a little more weightless, but gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate circumstances from a relaxed, more positive state.

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Ezra thinks not having more smoothies to drink stinks!

Hi there! I’m back again. But why wouldn’t I be? This is my site, after all. Anyway, I’m here because I just made some smoothies, and they were tasty, so I thought I would share the recipe with you.

When I lived in California I was a big fan of Jamba Juice. My favorite smoothie was the Berry Lime Sublime. Only I hate raspberry seeds so I always substituted cherries for the raspberries. Anywho  today’s recipe is sort of an homage to that drink, with a little twist. It is especially tangy and refreshing, so it will help to remind you that soon enough spring and summer will be here.

OK. Enough talk here’s the recipe:

Super Sublime Lime Smoothie (yields four 8oz. servings)

1  cup frozen dark sweet cherries

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup frozen pineapple  chunks

1 cup lime sherbet

1/4- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (juice of 2 limes)

1/4 fresh orange or tangerine juice

1/2 -3/4 cup water

2 tsp. sugar (optional)

Combine the lime and orange juices in your blender. Add in about 1/4 cup of water and the frozen cherries. Blend until smooth. Add frozen strawberries to blender and blend, adding additional water if needed. Add frozen pineapple chunks and repeat. Once all of the fruit has been blended, add sherbet and final 1/4 cup of water. Sugar can be dissolved into the final addition of water if you find that your fruit mixture is too tart. Blend until the sherbet is well incorporated,  divide between 4 glasses, and serve.

These were so tasty, that we didn’t want to stop drinking them to take pictures, but I’ve included a picture of my son’s “why no more smoothie in my mouth?” face for reference. Enjoy!

 

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The other day I was in a local CVS, perusing the beauty section, when I came across a little gem. Love’s Rain Forest all over body spray. I know you’re thinking, “Um, Brandyne, aren’t you a little old for things like that?”  Well yes, and no.

What you need to understand is that when I was younger I would always get a new “scent” every Christmas. From the time I was about 10 years old until I was 15 I was in love with the Love’s scents. I was never really a fan of Baby Soft,because it was much too sweet, and basically smelled like you just dumped an entire bottle of baby powder all over yourself. My faves were the Rain (original) and Jasmine scents. These were not really fragrances, as much as they were inexpensive body splashes meant to make little girls feel pretty and grown up. And I can tell you that for me, they did just that. I couldn’t wait for Christmas to receive my bottle of Rain, Jasmine, or Frenzy. I can still recall each scent and they tie me to certain place and time. They represent my earliest experiences inventing and reinventing myself.

So now you can imagine why my knees went a little weak the moment I rounded the corner of the fragrance aisle in a drug store on a Thursday night and saw the bottle of Rain Forest on sale for $6.25. Who wouldn’t pay that much to re capture a bit of childhood magic?

Sadly this new, what I can only imagine is “updated”, version of Rain was not quite the same. But it never really is, right? The scent is not as clean, or fresh as Rain, which smelled exactly like having showered in a spring rainstorm. This new scent is a sweet floral, almost a little fruity. It is very light and doesn’t last long on the skin. To be fair the scents didn’t last all that long back then, either.

I’ll probably reserve this spray for those hot summer nights when you have to take a cold shower just to get to sleep. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t wear out or on a special occasion, but something I could find comforting while drifting to sleep between cool crisp sheets.

If you know a pre- teen girl looking to get started on her scent journey, this may be a good place to start.

Do you have any “scent memories”? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

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Jan 012012
 
2012

Happy New Year everyone! A new year is a time to take a deep breath, and let go of what is past and move on to an even better future.  With that I’d like to welcome you to 2012, and uniquelybrandid. My hope is that together we can build a community of support and encouragement for every facet of our lives. I’m planning to pour a little of everything I am into this space, in the hope that when you need it, it will be here. So be on the look out for fun stories from my life, as well as things like recipes, and product reviews. There will be regular weekly features, and guest posts on special topics that may benefit you as you go about your busy day to day life. If there is anything you would like to see added, please feel free to comment or send and email to brandyne@uniquelybrandid.com. Thanks for stopping by. Let’s make this our best year yet!

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