Posts tagged ‘massage therapy’

May 6, 2013

Lessons Learned by Touch

heart touch

Good morning! It’s Brooke here. This fall will mark 5 years since I learned how to throw a wrench in the predictable works of my life and how to take the road far less traveled, when I received my ticket to another life parallel to the one I had been living—my license to practice massage therapy. In the years since I traded my slacks and heels for Sketchers and a constant ponytail, I’ve learned some things about how to live an authentic life, how to love deeply despite physical perceptions, and how to honor the sacredness that surrounds us all.

grateful hands

Power of Silence: Massage therapy has taught me the power of silence, that silence is not dead and inert but palpable and alive. In my therapy room, clients can choose to chat during our sessions or be quiet. I give them the lead. For some, talking about the events of their lives or the pain they’ve been having is therapeutic. Sometimes, their words are constant; other times, the strings of conversation flow randomly. But in the spaces between the words, the silence is sweet and warm. I love the quiet. I am soothed by it, and it is one of my favorite parts of being a therapist. The silence holds a mutual contentment between my client and I—we are both there but not there, in the moment and somewhere else. I should amend that: I am there but my client is drifting. This anchoring has helped me develop a discipline of calming my mental chatter (which is constant) and being mentally present, not planning my next task. To me, massage has become a moving meditation.

Serving Others: I’m not sure if we are all wired this way, but I adore helping people. I’ve always felt this way in all parts of my life, even before massage came along. I love being a conduit of good things for others. But please understand this does not come from me and my designs—I believe that God gave me a soft heart and that I am simply an instrument to spread love in a world that badly needs it. It gives me enormous satisfaction to set things right, to restore what was lost, or to inspire hope for better things. This is my passion, and I find it humbling and amazing that I get a chance to do it every day—for a living!!! When I was in massage school, we had an internship before we graduated, where we worked in the clinic open to the public. It was my first chance to work on people other than my classmates, whose personalities and bodies I knew well. When I worked on a stranger, my perspective changed. Boundaries were different, not in the permission to cross them, of course, but how I perceived our short relationship during those 55 minutes. Then I would make my way to their feet. Feet are not always the prettiest or most well-maintained of body parts, but oh, they make people SO happy to be worked on—I never skip them unless someone is super ticklish and requests me to move along. In massaging people’s feet, I was struck by the analogy of washing people’s feet. In ancient times, washing people’s dirty, dusty feet was done by servants, was even done by Jesus. The act of it feels like a humble service. By gently cleaning and massaging a person’s foot, I am communicating that these (we think) stinky, dirty, misshapen, abused feet—and by extension, our whole bodies—are deserving of attention and nurture. What a powerful message to give to people.

you are so loved

Move by Touch and Feel: Over the years, I’ve touched hundreds of backs, shoulders, knees, and faces, and I loved it all. I’ve run my hands over injured muscles, achy joints, rough patches, and all manner of skin, gathering clues to the situations that lie beneath. I’ve struggled with my own brittle skin and painful cracks in my fingertips during winter. You might suppose a massage therapist would have silky hands, but there’s an awful lot of hand washing that goes on! Occasionally, I’ve surprised a few people (with and without warning) with my cold hands, but in just a few moments, my hands heat right up and everything (muscles and spirits) are as they should be—soft, warm, and pliable. This is a nice way to navigate the world. Instead of holding tight and breathlessly thinking about each second, then the second after that—let go and become soft. Relax into yourself and feel around in your psyche to understand what you need right in this moment. Breathe . . . close your eyes . . . and breathe again.

breathe

Other Lessons Learned: I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is beautiful and different, and I get a front-row seat to this show every day. Intimacy comes in all forms, and by abiding by professional boundaries, I’m allowed to experience this in many ways. It sometimes breaks my heart, but it can also set my spirit alight. Lastly, I am blessed by gratitude. No matter how routine or crazy a day may start out feeling, once I’m reunited with my people, I remember how our time together is a special treat, a ritual anticipated sometimes for weeks, and my outer, frazzled shell of busyness and stress is crumbled yet again, revealing the elemental truth of being humans together on the earth, our innate longing to be accepted and connected, to be healed. Our dance.

May your week be blessed,

Brooke

human connection

January 25, 2013

For Our New Friends . . . Hello!

Mongoose heelo

Happy Friday to our Healthy Housewives family! My name is Brooke Berryhill, and I am your go-to gal for Health and Wellness as well as Animals (specifically, Pets). I’m really excited to be a part of this group of amazing women—each of us is blazing our own trail in healthy living as we lift each other up and hopefully inspire you along the way! I’ll share a little bit of my story, and I look forward to hearing from you as well.

I’m an East Texas girl, having grown up in the beautiful Piney Woods of Longview. If you have had the good fortune to pass through Longview, you’ll appreciate how very lovely it is. I went on to Texas A&M University, where my love affair with iced coffee drinks and staying up very late really took hold. Then I was blessed to meet my husband, John, and life became even sweeter. We’ve been married for 14 years, he makes me laugh every day, and thankfully he shares my love of animals, P.F. Chang’s, and America’s Next Top Model—really, what else could you ask for in a husband?

My love

My love

I graduated with a degree in English and proceeded to spend the next 10 years as a copyeditor, providing the grammatical spit and polish to everything that I could get my hands on—science textbooks, advertising copy, medical test-prep, and romance novels (my favorite!). Then, after spending years combing the written word, I felt called to nurture people more than manuscripts and became a licensed massage therapist. And what a beautiful gift massage therapy has been for me! As a therapist, I can provide a nurturing and safe place for people to rest, to heal, and to feel more peaceful than when they walked in. I also love educating my clients on how to take better care of themselves. As the Wellness Director at a lovely retirement community, I get to do this every day as I create brand-new health and wellness programs for our staff and residents.

Pretty Lucy

Pretty Lucy

Something else that brings me (and you too, I hope) great joy are animals. I love all animals! Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and hug a snake or anything—but I will be the one rushing past you to the nearest door as I rescue that scary spider or tiny pink gecko (by holding a well-placed cup and sturdy envelope, of course)! My love of animals is deep and abiding, and it led me to become a vegetarian many years ago. I strive to live compassionately toward people and animals, and I’m always looking for fabulous products and fashions that are created cruelty free. Now, truth be told, if I could shelter and protect all the animals in the world, I would. But since my house is not quite big enough for that, I will introduce you to my current furry family members: Lucy (snow-white, very smart, snuggly, and has lots to say);  Tiki (brown-ticked tabby, ultra affectionate, very mischievous, and wheels-off crazy); and Bit Bit (small golden-orange tabby, Tiki’s brother/partner in crime, unbelievably sweet, and cute as a bug).

Happy New Year to Tiki

Happy New Year to Tiki

Bit Bit wants more toys!

Bit Bit wants more toys!

That’s my story for now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and see you again next week!

Brooke

November 30, 2012

How I Accidentally Nurtured Myself . . . And You Can Too!

 

Ok, so I’m going to let you in on a dirty, little secret. I’ve been a massage therapist for 4 years, and I can count on maybe one hand (possibly part of another) the number of massages I’ve received over the years. I know it sounds bad. It IS bad! Not only is it a crime how knotted my rhomboids and traps are, but spending my days encouraging all I meet to enjoy the benefits of massage and not going myself is just plain fraud. In the past, if one of my clients would ask me how often I got massages, this standard refrain would ring out inside my head, “Me get a massage? You must be joking. I don’t have time to relax! Now, you there on the table, just close your eyes and breathe deeply. Relax . . .” Can you feel the hypocrisy dripping right off? Wow.

Fast forward to a particularly stressful and horrendous week, when I felt like the juggling act that is my life was not going well. I reached my breaking point when I just had to surrender and call in reinforcements. “Help me, please!” I cried to my favorite therapist. My massage was heavenly and profoundly healing, as I knew it would be. And I made that secret promise to myself (again) that I would come back on a regular basis, and then floated out the door. I swear that the grass and gardens I passed going to my car glowed vibrantly greener, and my view seemed more panoramic than before. Remember Brad Pitt’s character in Interview With a Vampire, when he wakes up in the garden after becoming a vampire and stares up at the angel statue, every sense heightened, as if he can feel everything “living” in Technicolor around him? That’s how I felt as I melted homeward.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

A calm hush had fallen over my weary spirit, and it was so long overdue that my heart just wanted to cry. I needed to nurture myself, as I would anyone I love. So, once home, I put on a comfy shirt and my favorite, butter-soft jeans, and then finally took the time to do a scrub and ultra-moisturizing mask while I (gasp!) sat still. Then I gathered the ingredients for a wonderful green smoothie. I’d never had one before, but it just felt right. Like I needed to cleanse and heal my insides as the massage had done for my outsides. My favorite recipe right now is modified from the Glowing Green Smoothie from Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution:

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped (I use ½ package of Power Greens—kale, arugula, chard, and spinach)
  • ½ head of large bunch or ¾ of small bunch organic spinach (I use a large handful of bagged organic spinach)
  • 3-4 stalks organic celery, chopped
  • 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic pear, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic banana
  • Juice of ½ organic lemon (I don’t use this because I like my drink sweeter)

In a blender, add the water and chopped greens, and mix until smooth. Add the celery, apple, and pear, increasing the speed as you go. Add the banana last, and if you like your smoothie thicker (and colder), add some ice cubes. This recipe makes about three or four 10 oz. servings, and you can store any unused smoothie in the blender in your fridge and re-blend when ready. Super easy!

green smoothie banana

I took my smoothie and my books and curled up on the couch, contemplating how to take better care of myself. I even took a lot of very deep breaths. It was a lovely afternoon that brings me peace even now as I remember it. Since that afternoon, I’ve been trying to do better, be kinder to myself. I’m a work in progress, as we all are. But I wish you lots of joyful pampering of yourself and your family during this busy holiday season. You are wonderful and you deserve all the happiness and help you give to others.

XO, Brooke

November 16, 2012

Personal Musings of a Massage Therapist

Hello, Family and Friends! This is Brooke. For the last 4 years, I’ve been blessed to be a licensed massage therapist at a beautiful retirement community. Massage therapy itself is truly a special occupation, one that allows you to help people in so many ways. I love being able to take my fascination with science and anatomy and use it to solve problems that people have with their bodies—maybe an injury here or there, a little tweak in the back, a stiff neck and shoulders, a tension headache that needs soothing. I also confess that I like to be needed and I adore making people happy. So, therapeutic massage is a gift I can share with people.

Some people may find the practice of therapeutic touch mysterious or unfamiliar, but really, it is very simple. The manual manipulation of soft tissue not only loosens tight muscles, but also reduces pain, warms tissues, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, improves immune function, reduces blood pressure, increases respiratory capacity, calms the nervous system, and influences hormone levels (among various other things). These effects are physical, and so can be observed and measured. However, the emotional components of massage are just as powerful. Recipients of therapeutic massage report feelings of well-being and happiness, of acceptance of their body, of connection and being cared for.  Actually, some psychological benefits of massage stem from physiological means—massage can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and can increase serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.  Also, massage can increase oxytocin, the bonding hormone that helps you feel nurturing connection with others. Now, I’m certainly not saying all good feelings and happiness can be explained by scientific rationalization, but in case you are the pragmatic sort, actual clinical evidence supports the benefit of therapeutic touch. There you go. Now for the more touchy-feely stuff . . .

Everyone has personal space, the invisible but palpable field of energy around them that is closely, often subconsciously regulated. One allows others into that personal space according to the social relationships he or she maintains with the others. For example, you allow your friends and loved ones close to you, but door-to-door solicitors you probably keep at a distance. When clients come to me for an appointment, they are allowing me to be in that personal space with them and share my therapeutic touch—this is a great honor. They trust that I will be professional and respectful while helping them to relax or relieve a painful knot or move more easily, and I convey my care for them through my hands and how I communicate with them. My hope for my clients by the time they leave my spa room is that we have accomplished what they asked for help with, and that they are calmer and happier than when they arrived, with looser muscles and softer spirits.

But what’s on the other side of this interaction? Most of us know what it feels like to receive a massage, but what’s your therapist thinking? I can speak only for myself, but while I try to convey a calm, peaceful, positive vibe to people I interact with, my mind is often filled with thoughts of the day feverishly pinging around like an out-of-control pinball machine.

Once a session begins, however, my monkey mind is forced to be present and connected with my client. I wrangle my thoughts and tuck them quietly away as the music provides a soundtrack to the action of my hands, and I am lulled once again into peaceful contemplation. Massage becomes a moving meditation and calms my anxious spirit, in spite of myself. Often I feel the same peace and expansiveness my client feels as we work together—we are sharing the same air and energy in the dim room after all.  As I ponder this interchange of energy, I think of this quote by Ofer Zur and Nola Nordmarken, which feels true to me: “Touch is our first language. Long before we can see an image, smell an odor, taste a flavor, or hear a sound, we experience others and ourselves through touch, our only reciprocal sense. We cannot touch another without being touched ourselves. . .”

Blessings and happy Friday!

~Brooke

October 12, 2012

So Nice to Meet You!

Happy Friday to our Healthy Housewives family! My name is Brooke Berryhill, and I am your go-to gal for Wellness and Animals (specifically, Pets). I’m really excited to be a part of this group of amazing women—each of us is blazing our own trail in healthy living as we lift each other up and hopefully inspire you along the way! I’ll share a little bit of my story, and I look forward to hearing from you as well.

I’m an East Texas girl, having grown up in the beautiful Piney Woods of Longview. If you have had the good fortune to pass through Longview, you’ll appreciate how very lovely it is. I went on to Texas A&M University, where my love affair with iced coffee drinks and staying up very late really took hold. Then I was blessed to meet my husband, John, and life became even sweeter. We’ve been married for 14 years, he makes me laugh every day, and thankfully he shares my love of animals, P.F. Chang’s, and America’s Next Top Model—really, what else could you ask for in a husband?Image

I graduated with a degree in English and proceeded to spend the next 10 years as a copyeditor, providing the grammatical spit and polish to everything that I could get my hands on—science textbooks, advertising copy, medical test-prep, and romance novels (my favorite!). Then, after spending years combing the written word, I felt called to nurture people more than manuscripts and became a licensed massage therapist. And what a beautiful gift massage therapy has been for me! As a therapist, I can provide a nurturing and safe place for people to rest, to heal, and to feel more peaceful than when they walked in. I also love educating my clients on how to take better care of themselves. As the Wellness Director at a lovely retirement community, I get to do this every day as I create brand-new health and wellness programs for our staff and residents.

Something else that brings me (and you too, I hope) great joy are animals. I love all animals! Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and hug a snake or anything—but I will be the one rushing past you to the nearest door as I rescue that scary spider or tiny pink gecko (by holding a well-placed cup and sturdy envelope, of course)! My love of animals is deep and abiding, and it led me to become a vegetarian many years ago. I strive to live compassionately toward people and animals, and I’m always looking for fabulous products and fashions that are created cruelty free. Now, truth be told, if I could shelter and protect all the animals in the world, I would. But since my house is not quite big enough for that, I will introduce you to my current furry family members: Lucy (snow-white, very smart, snuggly, and has lots to say);  Tiki (brown-ticked tabby, ultra affectionate, very mischievous, and wheels-off crazy); and Bit Bit (small golden-orange tabby, Tiki’s brother/partner in crime, unbelievably sweet, and cute as a bug).

ImageImage

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Blessings,

Brooke