Massage in the Time of Covid-19

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Massage Therapy and Energy Healing support good health. That’s why I love my work. It’s an honor to support your wellness and healthy lifestyle. I, too, am committed to personal wellness and enjoy robust health which has equipped me to do this work for the past twenty-five years. 

With Covid-19 on the move, I am practicing sanitation and cleansing with diligence and vigilance before, during, and after each session at Stairway Healing Arts Center. As always, I aim to thoroughly support you as we navigate this trying time, and keep us both healthy and safe. I welcome your thoughts and concerns- we will explore them together when you come for your session, or via phone, text, or email before your session if you prefer.

I love being part of your healthy lifestyle- thank you. And thank you for taking good care of yourself.  

Body World

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There it was, standing before me, still and lifeless yet pulsing and glowing with the life energy that it once embodied. Brain, spinal cord, brachial branches spreading out across the shoulder girdle, reaching down the arms into hands. The nerves of the torso reaching and spreading across the chest, the back and abdomen.

And then Sciatic Nerve, branching off the spinal cord where it would have passed the sacrum. It was thick and strong and vital-looking, a twin on each side branching into rivulets and streams down both legs and into the feet where it touched and met with the ground.

“Hello,” I said, and the tears pulsed down my cheeks.

“Hello,” Sciatic Nerve pulsed back. Old, intimate friends meeting face to face for the first time.

We’d encountered each other many times a day for the past 20 years. Me prodding and coaxing. Sciatic Nerve sometimes yielding, allowing itself to be soothed and relieved. Sometimes not. Always there for me, waiting in its bed of muscle, blood, and bone beneath the skin’s surface.

You see, I’m a massage therapist. Working with the unseeable pains of the body is what I do. Sometimes the pain is emotional. Sometimes it’s physical. Either way, Sciatic Nerve is the source of much of it.

We have a regular conversation, Sciatic Nerve and I. Silently, in my head, and led by my hands, forearms, and fingers. We talk, cajole, and coax. An ongoing conversation. A friendship. Life-long companions.

My daughters, Marleigh and Delaney, and I had flown to Amsterdam for this experience. To experience the Body World’s Happiness Project exhibit. A six story museum in the heart of Amsterdam, my favorite city, exhibiting, well, real dead bodies. I know, it sounds weird. Crazy. Maybe gross. But these bodies, pristinely preserved and dissected into various organ systems and posed in motion and action are a work of genius and an absolute beauty to behold. To see the body from the inside out was, for me, magic.

An absolute joy.

When I see a person, I see the form of the their muscle and tissues through their clothing and through their skin. It’s not something I talk about because, not surprisingly, it tends to make people self-conscious. I also wonder at the function of their heart, their lungs, (and my own as well) as I see their chests and stomachs rise and fall with their breaths.

I am amazed each day by the wonders of our bodies: the growth of hair and nails, the blossoming of a bruise through its rainbow of colors, the healing and re-sealing of damaged skin, the coordinated movement of torso and limbs to stand, walk, run, dance; our ability to reach and grasp, to touch and feel the roughness of sandpaper, the coolness of water, the gentle warmth of a lover; I wonder at the formation of words on our tongues, our incomprehensible ability to create, comprehend and interpret language, conversation, the written word, art…

I am awed by our form and by what lies beneath our surfaces- the raw, pulsing dynamism that coordinates our existence, our movements, our thoughts, our emotions, our survival, our growth. Scientists can break this down into atoms and formulas.

But to me it’s magic and art. Beauty and wonder. Balance and harmony. When the balance is off there’s dysfunction, pain, illness, disease.

These are things I think about each day. These are the things I imagine, beneath the surface as my hands coax muscles and emotions into a healthier, relaxed place. These are the things I finally saw before my eyes in the Happiness Exhibit.

We were here as a family, celebrating our last summer together before Marleigh’s senior year of high school. It was Marleigh and Delaney’s first trip to Europe in the friendliest of towns- Amsterdam, with its shining canals, its curving cobbled streets and gingerbread architecture. Each day we wandered these lovely streets in search of an exotic lunch, the perfect pastry, Anne Frank, street musicians, a good tattoo shop, a great photo. Perpetually smiling, laughing, and loving each others’ company.

Our family of three. The pride and love I feel when I look at these two amazing young women (my daughters!) overwhelms me. And here we all were together, sharing this experience. They were as excited as I was.

I’d have loved to send a snapshot of us into the distant past. To myself when I first embarked on the trek into single-parenting. I was so scared, terrified even, alone in foreign terrain. Solely responsible for these two brilliant little girls. Could I do them justice? Could I care for them well? The snapshot would have assured me, “Yes, you can do this. Your family will flourish.”

I’ve been pulled to Amsterdam all my life, but it was this exhibit that really yanked us across the ocean and back to this wonderful town for our summer holiday.

So here I was, standing in front of the first exhibit of the Happiness Project in Amsterdam, weeping and conversing with Sciatic Nerve. I felt like Harry Potter chatting with the snake at the zoo then looking around and realizing no one else could hear the snake’s words. It was like that.

“Hello,” I said, “It’s so good to finally see you!”

“Hello,” Sciatic replied.

“Hello, hello, hello,” it echoed and pulsed.

I was filled with its vibrancy, its vitality and its life. I was awed and in love. I stood there weeping with joy simply to be in its visual presence.

I caught up with Marleigh and Delaney a little later.

“Girls,” I said, still wiping at my tears “this is going to take me a really long time. You can head back to the apartment whenever you want. I’m gong to be here a long time I think.”

“We know Mom!” they said. “We love it too. Take your time. We’ll wait for you.”

My two beauties.

They understood. They got it. I hoped for a minute that I was this patient and understanding with them when they were little. Worried that I hadn’t been. Then brushed that away and hugged them. Held them for a minute.

We took our time wandering through the six stories of the exhibit wondering at the beauty and glory and gore of our bodies, in sickness and in health. We each went at our own pace and met-up from time to time to smile, to marvel at something, to share a thought, to nod. We lingered at the gift shop, bought another book on anatomy, and took some pictures.

But before leaving the exhibit, we stole back up the stairs to revisit Sciatic Nerve and say goodbye. And then, of course, we each took our own two home with us.

I’d been back home for a couple of months and shared the story of meeting Sciatic Nerve with many friends. One friend pointed out that in a city of so many Old Masters I was gaga over an anatomy exhibit. And it’s true. Meeting Sciatic Nerve was, for me, greater even than experiencing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

Then one Friday night, sitting on my couch watching a documentary on the guru Yoganandya I realized a little more deeply what my experience had been about. Yoganandya said something about our brain and spinal cord being where and how God or the Divine enter our body. And I thought, “Yes. This I know.”

Looking at Sciatic Nerve and the nervous system in Amsterdam, looking at all the exhibits of the body in fact, was for me like looking at the face of God.

How strange it feels to write that. But how simple and true and real. To me the Divine lives in our flesh and bones and echoes in and out of us through our energy. I feel it strongly. Revel in it. Wonder at it. And on that joyful afternoon in Amsterdam, I saw it for the first time. Face to Face.

Your Sacred Garment

 Pinterest tinatattlez.tumbler.com

Pinterest
tinatattlez.tumbler.com

 

“The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor.” —Martha Graham

 

Your Body is a Sacred Garment.

It’s Your First and Last Garment;

It is What You Enter Life In

And What You Depart Life With,

And It Should Be Treated With Honor.

 

Taking care of yourself/your body is not a luxury.  It is not decadence.  It is not something you need to apologize for.  Or make excuses for.  Or put off doing.  It is completely essential.  Vital.  Treat your body with honor.  It is your sacred garment.

What will you do today to honor and take care of your sacred garment?

 

Gift of a Beautiful Day

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I was so surprised when I stepped outside with my dogs this morning.    The air was warm and balmy.  It actually caressed my skin.  It felt so good.  A nice surprise on a late September morning. I’m going to soak up as much of this warm sunshine as I can today.  Go for a walk, or maybe a hike.  Maybe I’ll throw the kayak on the river.  Breathe in this good air.  Wear shorts and sandals for possibly the last time.  Days like this, this time of year are a gift.  Enjoying them is healthy, and good for us.  What are you going to do today?

Taking Care of the Care-Givers

Machu Pichu, Peru pinterest:   waterlilyjewels.tumblr.com

Machu Pichu, Peru pinterest:
waterlilyjewels.tumblr.com

Earlier this week I had the wonderful experience of working in a doctor’s office.  My clients were not the patients in that office, but the dedicated workers.  Nurses.  Office staff.  Doctors.  Intake workers.  All women.  All care-takers of one sort or another.  All lovely people, each with their own story.  They all work hard all day.  Some of them return home to be care-takers of ailing family members.  Some had small children.  They all give and take care of other people all day, every day.  They each had their own set of stresses.  These stresses manifested in their bodies in a myriad of ways.  Head aches.  Tingling hands.  Limited neck mobility.  Low back pain.  General pain and malaise.  Only one or two had received massage before.  Today they were taking a piece of their lunch break to take care of themselves. I had only 15 minutes with each of them.  I needed to make our time together count.

It was gratifying work.  At the end of each session I was asked if  and when I’d be returning.  Each woman felt relief from pain and discomfort.  Each felt relaxed.  Each had good color in their face, and a smile to boot.  15 minutes isn’t much, but it can make a difference.  Especially to those whose lives revolve around the needs and demands of others.  It’s important to take time for ourselves.  Time to attend to our health.  These women experienced that.  I can’t wait to get back there.  Having a positive impact on health is what it’s all about for me.

 

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

Now is the Time

from Pinterest, where else?

from Pinterest, where else?

 

I have some free time this morning.  There are plenty of things I could be looking after at my house and at the studio.  Plenty.  But the sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  It’s about 55 degrees outside.  My bicycle is just outside the back door….   I’m thinking about that sunshine on my face.  The breeze on my skin.  My beating heart.  The scent of the river, the dirt road, freshly cut grass, the warm air mingling with the cool earth…  That’s it.  I’m skipping the other responsibilities.  They’ll still be there when I get home tonight (sometime after 8pm…). I’m gonna go for a bicycle ride.  Gonna seize the moment and the day.  Now is the right time to do something good for myself.  The time is now.  How about you?

A Little Something to Brighten the Day

The Umbrellas of Agueda, Portugal  (thanks Pinterest!)

The Umbrellas of Agueda, Portugal (thanks Pinterest!)

 

It’s chilly and gray outside.  A perfect day for a massage.  Arthritis and sore joints often flare up on a day like this.  Many folks are longing for warm, green spring and might feel a little down.  Those finishing-up a busy week and heading into an even busier weekend.  Athletes sore from heavy training, or preparing for an event.  There are so many good reasons to receive a therapeutic massage.  There are no bad reasons.  It’s just good for your health, and will always brighten your spirits, your day, and your sense of well-being.  Go ahead.  Schedule a massage, for your better health.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

 

Letting Go

Over 20 years ago I saw a movie called “Mission” with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons. It took place in South America, probably in the 1800s. Irons was a Jesuit monk. DeNiro was a man convicted of murder, travelling with the Jesuits to their mission work deep in the Amazonian rain forest. As punishment and penance, DeNiro’s character made the grueling trip on foot (as they all did) with a huge rope sack tied to his back. The sack was filled with boulders. Each step was cumbersome and grueling, dreadful just to watch. Knee deep mud, incessant rain, mosquito-thick air, unimaginable heat. Their journey lasted days, perhaps weeks. At one point they made a harrowing climb up a massive water fall. An almost impossible climb and they were all struggling miserably. Irons pulled a knife from his robes and reached to cut the sack from DeNiro’s back. But DeNiro pushed his hand away. He refused to lighten his load. He insisted on reaching the top with his burden, or die trying.

I was reminded of this scene yesterday when a friend and I were talking about letting go of and releasing painful experiences and memories. I thought of DeNiro and how so many of us are like him, walking through life weighted down with our bag of hurts, fears, anger, and regret. This creates prime breeding ground for illness, disease, and dysfunction. A friend told me once that we all carry that sack. We spend the first 40 or so years of our lives filling it up

Pin It

Pinned this this morning

Pinned this this morning

A year or two ago, my friend Laura told me about Pinterest.  She suggested I explore it.  She’d been getting lots of good ideas from it, as well as inspiration and just generally a whole lot of fun.  “But be warned,” she said, “it’s like falling down the rabbit hole.  You can get lost and the day will go by…”  So I checked it out, but just didn’t get it.  Didn’t know what to look for.  Felt a little overwhelmed with a whole lot of nothing.  Since then it’s come up here and there.  Nancy keeps all her recipes on Pinterest.  Ellen pins her knitting and gets ideas for future projects.  Laurie finds awesome quotes.  So last week when Marleigh and I wanted to make a project we signed-up.  And we found a lot of great stuff.  And we had a ball creating what we’d learned to do there!  Hooked.  Since then I’ve been exploring.  In fact, Sunday I really fell down the rabbit hole.  I found amazing images from around the world and started a board called:  Places I want to experience.  I peruse that board and begin the travels I’m always dreaming about.  Another board I created is:  Places and Spaces I’d Love to Live In.  (I know, ends in a preposition…)  It’s rooms and homes that my dreams are made of.  But I’m telling you all this because this morning I started a board of “Healing Images and Thoughts.”  It’s just begun, but it’s an inspiring place to visit.  Thoughts, ideas, images of health, healing, growth.  Check it out, and let me know what you think.  Enjoy.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

 

Winter Vacation

Home

Home

This past week my girls were on their Winter Break.  It really felt like a vacation, even though I continued seeing clients and holding meditation circles as usual. I feel nourished and rested.  My blogging mentor asked if I’d retired from blogging because I haven’t posted.  (hopefully you noticed too.)  But I’ve been reconnecting with my girls, with friends, with family, and with myself.  I wanted to share with you the events of the week.  Hope you like it.

We spent a weekend in Maine visiting my sister

Janet & Jelly

Janet & Jelly

The snowstorm kept us from visiting the beach,

massive snowbanks in front of her office at LLBean

massive snowbanks in front of her office at LLBean

but we had fun talking, catching-up, eating, and watching movies.

Enjoyed a magnificent view at dusk from what feels like The Top of the World driving home, overlooking VT, NH, & MA

Standing atop the Green Mountains in VT

Standing atop the Green Mountains in VT

Had hot chocolate with Maria & Nancy.  They’re always present with support, encouragement, brainstorming, and innovative ideas.  Thank God for these two friends

Nancy & Maria at the Central House in Salem, NY

Nancy & Maria at the Central House in Salem, NY

Went museum-ing and lunching with my Delaney in Williamstown, MA.  We talked, laughed and just absorbed the artwork.

Delaney & The Rabbit, Williams College Art Museum

Delaney & The Rabbit, Williams College Art Museum

Visited my brand new grand niece Nora!  Amazing miracle.  My sister was present for the birth, but she didn’t get in the photo.

Nora & Grandpa Marty (my brother-in-law)

Nora & Grandpa Marty (my brother-in-law)

Had a raucous Game Night with big family of friends.  Laughed, yelled, hooted, slammed, and battled our way through many hands of Spoons.  Who ever said board games are dull never played with this particular group.  Sadly, we were too disorganized to take any photos.

Experienced having an only child.  Delaney went away for a few days.  Marleigh and I bonded over Pinterest, AC Moore, and painting and craft projects.  Good heart-to-hearts.  We also realized how much we miss Delaney.

Have flowers, will travel.  :-)

Have flowers, will travel. 🙂

Had dinner and gaming with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece visiting from D.C.  I love my family.

Went to a skin care party and experienced a wonderful facial.  Do any of you use Kara Vita  products?  I’d love to hear your reports and experience with this product if you do.

Winter vacation week is winding down.  The girls are putting the finishing touches on vacation assignments and projects.  We’re heading out shortly to have spaghetti with my parents. We didn’t travel to Hawaii, or Bhutan, or Rome this past week, as much as we;d have loved to.  We stayed near home.  But together and apart, we had days of rich, happy experiences.   We slowed down, we didn’t have long days of scheduled events.  We took each day as it came and chose what we wanted for each day.  We talked, resolved issues, ate good food, absorbed beautiful scenes and art, laughed, played, connected with good people, created and completed projects.   I feel tired, yet refreshed at the same time; nourished in body, mind, and spirit.