Friday, June 28, 2013

Raise the Roof for Occipitofrontalis!


Those who have had facial massage know that pressure to the base of the skull at the back and across the eyebrows is otherworldly good.  Did you also know that those areas are parts of the same muscle, called Occipitalis or Occipitofrontalis? 
Imagine a wide band stretching across the top of your skull between these two points.  As you picture it, raise and lower your eyebrows a few times.  That is the main action of this muscle, and you may notice that a lot of the contraction comes from the back of the head.  It is responsible for a great deal of facial expression.  Ever had a “phony smile” headache?  I have. 
Since nearly 100% of my massage clients experience tension at those points, I began to wonder, what are some things we all share in daily modern life that may contribute? 
Here’s what I came up with.
-I facetiously referred to “phony smile” headache, but our face IS a mask to the world.  You’d be surprised how hard it is to let go of “appropriate” facial expressions – even while sleeping!  Hey, your face needs a night off.
-Look down at your phone or computer, look up at the world, squint to refocus, repeat – about a hundred times per day.  Each time you do this, you are contracting this muscle.  Leapin’ caterpillars, Batman!  Those babies are tired.
-It’s all connected, right?  If you have tense shoulder muscles (particularly trapezius) that also originate at the base of the skull, where are you logically going to feel that lack of slack?
Great news! - A good massage and a reevaluation of your posture and daily habits can do wonders.  As a therapist, it is very satisfying to see the blissful and lasting changes that come over a person with facial massage.   Please insist on attention to these areas at your next appointment with your Licensed Massage Therapist.
jean

The Princess Diaries - My Total is 15

Results of my morning routine were that I used 15 products to get ready (see earlier post).  Sure, my eyes look like two pee holes in the snow without makeup, but I was clean and presentable.  Here they are in order of application, brand names omitted purposely.  How'd you do?

Toothpaste, eye makeup remover, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, deoderant, eye cream, face lotion (sunscreen), face powder, lip lube, lipstick, under eye coverup, blush, mascara, hairspray.

Doubt I could pare this routine down much without scaring small children.

jean

We're Born Naked - the rest is Drag

That's what Ru Paul said, and she ought to know.  Before we talk massage, I've got a little challenge.

It came to me as I was, once again sorting and organizing my cosmetics drawer.  Just how many products does it take to make a modern day woman presentable?

I consider myself to be less painted and coiffed than many, but exactly how many creams, paints and potions DOES it take to create that "natural look"?  I'd bet even men use more grooming items than they would guess...or care to admit.

So here's the plan.  As I write this, at 5 AM, I have yet to shower or ready myself for the day.  When I do, I am going to jot down each and EVERY product I use, start to finish.  I am talking soaps of any kind, toothpaste, hair care, eye cream - the works.  Mind you, today is going to be decidedly un-glam.  Red carpet ready woud probably require two to three times the smoke and mirrors.

Any guesses as to how many I will list?  Right now, I'm throwing out a conservative guess of 12.  Any wagers?  I will post results once I digest them.

I dare you to try it, and would love to hear any results.  Get the conversation started.  Consider ditching one or two steps in  your routine.  Think of all the money, packaging waste and time that could be saved in a year.  All a person needs is a really good haircut and sunscreen, right?  Results may vary.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Who Doesn't Love a Quickie?

I was more than a bit skeptical when I heard that cookies could be made from two ingredients.  But I can tell you for certain, now that I've made them several times, they work!  Without flour, sugar, and eggs, they are low cal, vegan, and last forever in a container. 

Overripe bananas + Rolled oats = Crazy Delicious!

There is no exact measurement, but figure about 1/2 cup of oats to each banana.  The "dough" should be a bit on the moister side.  Too many oats and it won't stick together very well.

I like to make them on the large side.  Think pregnant golfball.  Bake for a good 10 minutes, maybe more, at 350 degrees. 

Note:  You can fancy them up by adding one or more of the following to the top before baking.
-A half walnut or pecan
-Sea salt
-Decorative sugar

Enjoy!

jean

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chicago Cultural Center - Run Don't Walk to See This!

The Cultural Center, located at 78 East Washington Street in the Loop has THE coolest exhibition right now.  I stumbled in late this afternoon to kill a bit of time, and found a real treat. 

It's name is "Spontaneous Interventions:  Design Actions for the Common Good".  Basically, it's a multi-visual parade of good ideas.  I mean GREAT ideas, that have made small, but impactful changes all over the nation.  Using the talents of designers, architects and just plain artistic, clever Americans, lucky urban areas are getting some very human mini makeovers.

For example, in New Orleans, they organized an effort to build, and distribute the plans for, mobile chicken coops.  That may sound foreign in Chicago, but it means the world to low income families to be able to keep a food source in their back yard.  AND they are fabricated out of found materials.  Win/Win

In Brooklyn, they've put up signs in some high stress business areas that read "Skipping Only Zone".  Apparently, people really do and it creates a lot of smiles and interaction between passersby that would not have otherwise happened.  Who thinks of this stuff?

There were plenty of Chicago ideas too, that had flown under the radar for most of us.

Perfect for the little civic-minded devils among us.  I'd say age 6 and up could get something out of it.

Runs till September 1st, 2013

Admission:  FREE!

The pics I took are weak, so please go to their web description for better ones and other general info. http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/spontaneous_interventions.html

jean

Therapeutic Massage Therapy - A Love Story

Her name is Claire, and we'll be seeing quite a lot of each other.  Yesterday afternoon with her was a transformative experience.  I'm a bit sore this morning, but it's the sweetest hangover!
Alright, enough with the innuendo.  Now that I have  your attention (you pervert), here is what I aim to say.

I get a LOT of massage.  This definitely falls under FAQ of my clients.  Sometimes I go as long as 2 months if I am feeling okay, though it all does come home to roost.  If I have a lot going on in my body, I will go as much as 90 minutes per week for a few weeks in a row.  Aside from needing and enjoying it, I consider it a professional duty.  Therapists should support each other and value their profession enough to seek it, pay for it, and learn from it. 

Claire bestowed up on me some of the best myofascial work I've encountered.  She was focused, knew her muscle groups, and worked on exactly the areas I specified.  Yes.  I did tell her I am a licensed massage therapist (knew you were wondering).  I stated that clearly on the form.  Some therapists are clearly intimidated by working on another therapist, but Claire was undaunted. 

Myofascial work is a slow, broad-based, sort of "shifting" of muscle.  Sounds easy, but there is a fair amount of intuition and a lot of patience required.  She stuck with it, and my back and glutes were singing.
Oh, and she undraped and worked my abs!  I have not had anyone do that since school.  This is where my professional jealousy kicked in.  I have not ever done myofascial work to a client's stomach in 5 years.  It is now on my "to do" list.

No.  I will not tell you where Claire works.  She's all mine.  However, if you are a city client and who I genuinely feel would benefit more from her work than mine, I will refer you. 

xoxo
jean

Monday, June 24, 2013

Who Farted?

A little indelicate in polite company, but who are we kidding?  I've been asked this a dozen times.

Do people ever pass gas during their massage?  Short answer.  Yes.  It has happened. But before you either blush anew, or decide to get smug and say to yourself “I never have”, consider the following.
A.       To a massage therapist, the fart is like a belch to a Chinese chef - proof positive that I am doing my job.  One major goal of massage is to move from the sympathetic nervous state into parasympathetic state.  When that happens, different systems kick into gear.
B.      Though I know it’s happened, I honestly cannot tell you which clients or when.  It is remembered only as part of the general history of the work.
C.      Some do it while completely floating and totally unaware.  Again, a compliment to the chef.
Bottom Line:  No worries!  As I always say, I'd be in the wrong business if I was bothered by "all things human"

....and now for something a bit loftier. 

Here is a poem of mine that was accepted for publication, in two magazines.  It is a PERFECT illustration of the number one rule of writing: 
Consider your audience, but do NOT be inhibited by them!  Much of what is written, particularly in poetry, is NOT autobiographical.  I cannot satisfactorily answer the question of "where'd it come from".  It just comes.  My father did not drink, and my mother was not easy, for the record : )
The result of a good poem should be a feeling, often a fleeting feeling.  It operates in a space we all share, but cannot dwell.

Moon
Out the jalopy window of childhood night
A backseat for sprawling.
I saw a partial sanscritandvine face,
next to the tomahawk of stars and constellation of wine in my father’s head.
He drives us home, home again with his own steering wheel of cheese -
Conjuring his days of before, before becoming an expatriate of everywhere.
I know nothing, and think my thumb in front of the open, squinted eye makes the moon disappear.
I imagine my father disappearing.  And give him the thumb.

Out the jalopy window of childhood night
A backseat for sprawling.
I saw the brazensweetbread face,
through the wicked black lace of winter trees and captive breeze in my mother’s head.
She sleeps her way home, home again with her beautiful, blonde ease –
Dreaming of her days of before, before becoming patently everything.
I know nothing, and count the seconds between her breaths, as though I can change them.
I imagine my mother disappearing.  And my own breath is ransacked.

Out the window, that childhood night
after they taught me that the moon trundles us
from the anteroom,
over our itinerant bridge, and into the travesty -
I freshly recall her leaving me with the sky.
-jean sotos *bows*

Worth Asking.....
Lastly, and as promised, here is a probing question.  I invite you to ask it of yourself and at least one special someone.  Preferably someone you care to hear the answer from. 
It has been said that we are who we TRULY are at age 12 or so.  Most things that come after are manifestations of what the world imposes.
Q:  What things made you most proud of yourself and feel special at age 12 ish?  Do you still do/practice/posess it?  If not, why not?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Welcome To My Experiment. Mwahahaaaa!


So, I won't belabor the fact that it took me forever just to get this far in blogsville.  The idiot-proof site was no match for me.  It only matters that we made it here, and hopefully have something of fun and value to impart. As I become an adept blogger, the plan is to be far more interractive with readers. 
My insatiable curiosity extends to you!

Now. Let’s get one thing straight.  I am an expert on not one thing, beyond my own viewpoints.   Since I pride myself on being able to admit my limitations, you will not likely encounter political musings, medical advice, or any kernels of wisdom based on religion.  What you will find are deeply honest accounts of my experiences as  – Massage Therapist and  Poet.  Before you run off, poo-pooing the very idea, here is a non-exhaustive list of what you may find.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Massage Therapy, But Were Afraid to Ask.  A therapist’s account of what really goes on in our head during a session.  Answers to your burning questions such as, “does it bother you that I didn’t shave my legs today?” and “how many hours a day can you do this before you fall over?”  I believe this will interest many people because you are sure to see yourself in the things that everyone asks!
Body Part of the Month – Okay, so this is sort of medical.  Consider it a passive way for you to gain a tidbit of information about the parts we all share.  Special focus to the muscles, lymph and cardiovascular systems since those are most affected by Massage Therapy.
-Poetry –It’s not just for pedantic, elitist tool bags.  What I like. What I’ve learned through the submissions process.  Why it's not stupid, and you are not stupid if you've never enjoyed it.  I will bravely post some of my own stuff in the hope of forcing a few other frustrated poets out of the closet.  You are out there.  I know it.    
-Questionnaires for Fun and Relationships – As a kid, I lived for questionnaires.  I loved the idea of revealing myself to a friend.  Wait.  That sounded perverse.  But, seriously, I did find that while some friends were skilled at it, some practically got hives at the mere idea.  It is my hope that by providing a probing questionnaire now and then, you can ferret out your own responsive question buddies.
-Things I LOVE.  To know me is to feel the enthusiasm I have when discovering a great new product, service, or establishment.  Out of sheer compulsion, I’ll be posting reviews of my sometimes off the beaten path discoveries.  Oh, I also have a penchant for ludicrously easy recipes.  TWO ingredient cookies, anyone?
-Toss in a bit of doggie hilarity (two neurotic terriers), teen drama/angst (two daughters)and various and sundry aspects of relatable life.  You're bound to have an Erma Bombeck moment or two.  And if you get that reference right off, you are in the right place.
If you're still not the least bit titillated, we are probably not a good match.  However, I still invite you to take this journey with me for a while.  The best trips are often the least expected, and I have NO idea where I am going.
Jean