My Constant Companion, The Darkness.

The big ‘D’ word no-one wants to hear about, and yet we all fight the same battle just in different forms… meet Depression.

It feels like you’re numb all over.

One of the best ways for me to describe how I feel when my good ‘ol friend depression comes to visit me is numb. It’s the oddest feeling. My whole body is numb, but my brain feels fizzy. It’s like when you eat pop rocks. You can feel and hear the fizzy sensation/noise that it makes in your mouth. Now imagine all of that going on inside your mind.

I call my depression The Darkness. When I feel it creeping up I try and get ahead of the game: I buy groceries, wash up all the clothes, clean the house, wash my hair, shave my legs, everything I can think of that I know without a doubt I’m not going to want to do. The Darkness and I are old friends so I know how it plays out, or how it usually plays out. It never fails. You can’t stop it.

Once, a couple of years ago, he hung around for 2-3 weeks. That first week I remember sitting on my couch looking down at the floor. I glanced over at the clock and it was 11 am. When I “blinked” it was 3 pm that fast. I have literally been staring at the floor for 4 hours and I didn’t even realize it. It was as if I blacked out and time was never a factor. I had errands to do and responsibilities to uphold. The Darkness didn’t care.

Before 2020 I could work out harder, increase supplements and water intake, or schedule some days off the go somewhere. All those steps helped me build up my weaponry to fight The Darkness. And it worked… a lot!

But than 2020 happened.

And not just the ‘world is ending’ part. I sold my business, moved from the South to the North for a relationship, adjusting to the relationship and lifestyle (and the weather), stepdad passed away, trying to help run the family business without him AND being 700 miles away, raising a teen, and with all that going I found out that I couldn’t transfer over my massage licenses to my new state. My career, my livelihood, the essence of me, and everything I worked hard and sacrifice for, gone.

That’s where my old friend comes into play. I was able to defeat him up to the point of me not being able to massage. Then he got me. I folded like a delicate, old piece of paper. So here I am. Faking the smile, going with the flow, wishing, and regretting things. I know The Darkness will get bored and let me loose again, but this time it will take a part of me with him. And I am afraid that part is not recoverable. We’ve been friends for 22 years if not longer. I have defeated him, but never got rid of him. Thanks for another one 2020.

Until next time my constant companion.

Thank You To The Men In My Life!

A shot out to the manly men in my life who never made it a dull moment.

PAPI:

Thank you for being the first man to ever love me. To show me what it means to be loved and respected as a girl first and then as a woman. Thank you for being a no-nonsense kind of man. You meant what you said and said what you meant. Thank you for showing me how to fish, even if you got mad when I caught bigger fish than you. Thank you for letting me be a tomboy and getting dirty.

Thank you for showing me what empathy and gentleness from a man’s hand look like. Thank you for teaching me to be proud of my name because it’s a strong name. It’s my family’s name and the name of my grandmother. Thank you for also showing me what tolerance is. Having English as a second language was hard for you because of the ignorance other people had shown you. You stood tall and I thank you for showing me that. Thank you, most importantly, for being an amazing grandfather. Your love for her is remarkable, but I’m not surprised. I love more than you’ll ever know.

STEPDAD:

To the man who taught me what a man’s man REALLY is. They don’t make ’em like you anymore. You taught me that if you get hurt, you wipe it off and keep ongoing. Thank you for that. Thank you for making me work with my hands. It showed me what I am capable of doing, but also how to take care of things when I need to. You taught me not to rely on anyone. Thank you for being tough on me. You knew I needed that upbringing. I needed that Southern, hard to the core, no time for mess upbringing.

Thank you for showing discipline. Thank you for 22 years in the Army. You fought for me. Thank you for the unwanted mansplaining about my boyfriends growing up. What can I say? You were right. Thank you for showing me where ‘sympathy’ is located in the dictionary, which is between ‘sh*t’ and ‘syphilis’. When I start feeling sorry for myself and want to mope, I would think of that then laugh. Thank you for loving kids who aren’t yours, and thank you for being a grand-grands. You allowed her to show you what a granddaughter’s love and grace can do to an old man like you. Your granddaughter loves you and your stepdaughter misses you.

BROTHER IN-LAW:

Thank you for showing me that a man can be both patient and kind as well as rough and tough. Through you, I learn how most of life’s hardest moments can be softened with laughter. Thank you for seeing me grow from age 12 to now and wanting to still be my friend. Thank you for sometimes being that soundboard and believing in me when I had goals to reach. Thank you for our relationship.

I thank you the most for loving my sister. She is my world. You raised the bar on what a husband should be. I thank you for that. Thank you for being the best father to my nephews. Because of you, they are the men they are today and I know you wouldn’t settle for less. You showed them how a man is supposed to love, treat, and talk to a woman through your relationship with my sister. Thank you for being an amazing uncle. There is no one in this world like her uncle. And now, thank you for being the best granddad to your granddaughter. You are truly one of a kind man.

IN LOVING MEMORY, bILL-MY STEPDAD

Rules For Your Daughter To Be The Fearless Woman You Hope You Have Raised.

If I could leave you with one thing it would be…

  1. 1) If you ever have doubt in yourself, just remember YOU ARE ENOUGH. No one can make you feel any less than without your permission. Not even yourself.

2) Don’t forget to PRAY. Have that conversation with God. He is there for you and he wants to always be there for you. Rather life is hard or not, lay what’s on your heart at his feet and pray.

3) Stay calm during job interviews. Smile, but not like an idiot. Wear something comfortable, but professional. DON’T CHEW GUM. Be lighthearted, easy for them to talk to, and don’t forget to breathe. Employers can see right through you!

  1. 4) When you find yourself lost in this world or in its web, you can ALWAYS COME HOME. There are times in your life you will feel lost or maybe ashamed of where you are at in life. I promise you that nothing can prevent you from coming back home.

5) NO ONE CAN PROMISE YOU THE WORLD. Only you can achieve that and hope to God you find someone along the way to be by your side.

6) LIFE IS HARD, but you can’t give up. Keep on keeping on! My granddaddy once said, “The best things in life are the hardest to get. If it comes easy, you better run the other way.”

7) If you find a shirt you like, BUY EVERY COLOR! The older you get, it gets a little harder to either find your size or shape in a shirt. Grab them all!

8) You will make friends throughout your life, but the older you get you will only have a few true friends that stuck it out with you. DON’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE FRIENDSHIPS. Those are the friends that will be with you ’til the end.

7) DONT FORGET TO CALL YOUR GRANDMOTHER. You are lucky to have a grandma that loves you and a relationship with her. Yes, she is aggravating. Yes, she has her ways. But she loves you. So for the sake of us both, don’t forget to call her!

8) This one is important. STAY ACTIVE in some shape or form. Rather it’s at the gym, running or hiking on trails, or if you are still doing Maui Tai. If you stay active, your body will be healthy, therefore your mind will stay strong. It will help you stay stress-free and less depress when things are not going your way.

9) The older you get, you’ll see different versions of yourself. Not only in personality, but also in style and way of thinking. Nothing wrong with that! Let your limbs grow wherever they need be, but KEEP YOUR ROOTS FIRM in the ground. Don’t lose the essence of you.

10) GO ON DATES! Have fun. Be youthful. It doesn’t have to be all about sexual things. Go to the beach, go exploring, play pool, go to a football game even if you don’t like it, try sushi. Just enjoy being young and enjoy life in every aspect.

11) I believe it’s important to experience different cultures and places so you can appreciate what you have. Learn different languages, try different foods, take lots of pictures, and embrace your surroundings. So, TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

12) If and when life hits you hard, it’s ok to stay inside and cry. You don’t even have to change clothes or take a shower. Find a movie, have junk food, put your phone on silent, and just be. CRY YOUR HEART OUT my angel, but call your mom first!

13) After you cry and get some of it out, PULL YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES UP and get moving. Not saying you still can’t mope, but you don’t want to get stuck there. Hard to pull yourself out of it when you’re stuck.

14) Spend the money on a really good beautician and esthetician. It’s worth it. Consider it like going on a mini-vacation. You sit there and enjoy being pampered. And yes, those eyebrows need it. And yes, those curls will be difficult at times. INVEST IN YOURSELF!

15) GET A PET. Your dog now won’t be around forever and when he’s not I know your heart is going to break. Having a pet teaches your not only responsibilities but unconditional love. It will soften you and bring joy to your life. You will always have a friend and never be alone.

16) Never, ever forget who you are. YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER. You are strong, smart, funny, witty, loved, and unbreakable. You can have cracks, but you won’t break.

What rules would you leave for your daughter or son?

Not Feeling Confident About Your First Massage? I Have Advice For You That Will Help

The Do’s and Don’ts for Receiving Your First Massage and What to Expect Told by a Massage Therapist.

I DID NOT enjoy my first session.

I was 28 when I received my first massage and I was completely unsure what to expect during my session. I decided to go back to school to become a massage therapist and by doing so I had to receive a massage as a requirement. It was not for me! In some areas, she massaged too hard and in other areas, I could barely feel her massaging me at all.

Not to mention that I had a terrible headache right after.

But I didn’t know what I could have done differently: should I have told her that she was hurting me here but that I couldn’t feel her massaging me there, that this was my first time getting a massage, that I did not like my feet being rubbed in any form or fashion, or that I was cold the whole time? It was not what I thought it would have been.

Luckily for you, I am here to spare you all of the heartache of you second guessing your massage decision!

  • The first thing you have to DO is ask yourself what type of massage are you wanting to receive? Are you wanting to have a relaxing session, are you wanting to focus solely on a specific area of your body (shoulders, neck, knees) that you are having problems/pain with, or maybe a little bit of both? When you decide what type of session you are wanting then it will be easier for the therapist to mold the session to fit your massage needs.
  • If you are receiving a massage for the first time DO tell the therapist. A really good therapist will take the time to explain what you should expect and to help settle any nervousness you may have. We want to make sure that you are comfortable, secure, and that you have a good first session.
person holding babys foot
  • DO tell the therapist if you do not like your feet, face, or scalp touched. Trust me, if you do not it WILL BE MASSAGED. And it is ok if you do not like those areas to be touched. I personally hate my feet to be touched. I understand the benefits of massaging them, but it ain’t happening! So yes, please let your therapist know.
  • It is completely ok if you DO fall asleep while you are receiving a massage. Honestly, I consider it a compliment because you trusted me enough to allow yourself to be that relax to fall asleep. PS: if you snore, you snore. It truly does not faze a therapist at all!
  • You DO NOT have to be completely undressed to receive a massage. The choice is yours. I will tell you this though that if you do decide to leave your shirt or pants on, for example, those areas more than likely will not be massaged. A typical rule of thumb is that if it is covered, it will not be massaged. So if you are wanting your back massaged I recommend undressing for that. If you are still unsure, just ask your therapist.
  • You DO NOT have to shave your legs for a massage. You will be surprised how many women apologize for that. I get it, trust me. My legs are shaved depending on life at that point. For us therapists, it is not a make it or break it kind of deal.
modern businesswoman in casual outfit talking on mobile in office
  • DO NOT not show up for your appointment. If you know you are not going to make it or be late, let the therapist know. We know that life happens. A lot of time they can fit you in later that day or that same week. Appointments are how us therapist makes our bread and butter. Communication is always key.
  • You DO NOT have to tip. Yes, you read that right. Actually, it is not required for you too, but it is expected. Depending on where your therapist works can depend on how much you tip. I tell my clients whatever they think that the session was worth, tip accordingly. It’s your session!
  • I would consider this as a “DO and DON’T” point and to be the most important one. Just bear with me. Please be respectful of your massage therapist. We all know that massage in general does not have a good reputation historically. Unfortunately during both World Wars, most massage therapists had to resort to prostitution as a form of survival during those times.

We no longer live in those times. Massage therapy has regained its rightful reputation/place in the healthcare field as another form of pain management and alternative medicine. We do not consider the term “happy endings” as a joke. It is an insult.

With that being said… if a massage therapist ever makes or insinuate any inappropriate/ sexual gestures or remarks, there are steps you can take. First, let the therapist know that you are uncomfortable. A therapist may not be aware that a certain comment or gesture – like not securing the sheet tighter- made you uncomfortable.

We are still humans and make mistakes not realizing it because as therapists we get stuck/comfortable with the flow of our routine. If that does not work, let their manager know. You are protected as clients. Worst-case scenario, if appropriate actions have not been done by the manager or supervisor, contact the Massage Board of that state.

I know that last point was intense, but I believe it needed to be pointed out. You would be surprised by what clients say when they are either extremely nervous or just completely unaware. It happens to the best of us and when you don’t know, you don’t know. What it all boils down to is your massage therapist making sure that you have a great and safe first massage session.

two people shaking hands

So please take these insights from a massage therapist, share this post, and book yourself a massage session! Any questions or comments you have, let me know. I would be more than glad to answer them. You deserve to be treated well and to enjoy your massage session to the fullest!


	

12 Ways to Selfishly be Positive Without Feeling Guilty.

The only thing to feel guilty about is not putting yourself first!

1. When you are tired, stressed, and don’t want to do a task… SAY NO! One simple, freeing, yet powerful word.

2. When no one is around, EAT THAT LAST PIECE OF CHOCOLATE. Actually, just go ahead and eat that piece of chocolate anyway.

3. CUT YOUR HAIR SHORT. Despite yourself or whomever else thinks that you can’t pull it off, yes you can. Be brave and bold with the new you!

4. BUY THAT DRESS. It fits you like a glove and hugs your curves just right. You deserve it and you know it.

5. When you walk into the kitchen and the sink is full of dishes, keep on walking. WASH THE DISHES TOMORROW.

6. TAKE AN EXTRA 30 MINS for yourself in the bathtub. Use all the hot water on yourself with zero remorse.

7. TURN THE MUSIC UP. Who cares who hears it? Not like you blast it every day anyway. Turn it up and enjoy your favorite music.

8. DON’T ANSWER THAT CALL. Just because “they” are calling you, doesn’t mean you have to answer right now. That’s why you have voicemail.

9. You know that you have a Target addiction and girl I don’t blame you! So BUY YOURSELF THAT PURSE you’ve been eyeing.

10. Every time you think of it, it puts a smile on your face and fills your heart with joy. GET THAT TATTOO just for you!

11. DON’T SHARE YOUR SODA! Enjoy every last drop of goodness without the kids, husband, and even the dogs.

12. ORDER THAT STEAK. Tonight is the night that the prices don’t matter. Tonight is just about you!

There is nothing wrong with being selfish a time or two. Especially when it’s done to boost your self-confidence, self-esteem, or to make your world a little brighter. Most importantly, don’t forget to put yourself first. You are important too. In what ways would you be selfishly-positive?

Hot Towel or Not to Hot Towel? When in Doubt, Do!

Is using a hot towel necessary during a massage session or does it just feel good?

When that ‘awww’ sensation takes over…

That’s a hot towel to the body! It’s equivalent to you holding that hot cup of coffee between the palms of your hands when you’re chilly and you begin to warm up. ☕

I caught myself using a hot towel for almost all my sessions with my clients. Rather it was in the beginning, mid, or towards the end of the session, I was using one. But I wondered if using a hot towel really necessary? Or do therapists use a hot towel just to use one?

The answer is yes and yes.

What are they?

Prep work makes the dream work!

Using a hot towel is extremely beneficial to a client during a session. It helps ‘prep’ the area that the therapist will be working on. Let’s say you have back pain and wanted your therapist to work it out; a hot towel will warm up the soft tissues and muscles for you. It’s easier to treat any area warm than cold.

It’s kind of like mixing chocolate syrup in hot milk rather in cold milk: You spend less time stirring and it mixes better together. That means any soreness you may have had will not be as significant due to warming your back first by using a hot towel.

Relax the mind, you can relax the body!

A hot towel relaxes the mind. There is not one session out of the hundreds I have done that a client didn’t let out the biggest sigh of relief AFTER I placed a hot towel on them. In that sense, we as massage therapists just have to wait and let the body do its thing, sorta say. In a way, it does our job for us. If the mind ( the control center of the body) can relax then the body will follow, literally! It is truly amazing how much the body can respond when the mind is ‘shut off’ and how massage affects each of the systems of the body.

It just feels amazing!

Plain and simple: a hot towel feels AMAZING! You get a sense of relief that just washes over your body and in a way it feels like a security blanket. It just makes your massage session even that better of an experience. There is no wrong or right time to use a hot towel during a massage session, but if you rather not even bother just let your therapist know. No problem!

Rather if you like a hot towel or not during a session is all up to you. Let me know what you think! Are you a hot towel kind of a gal or guy?

Don’t Lose It, She’s Just a Mini-Version of You. An Emotional, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Version.

When your daughter ‘suddenly’ grows up and you are faced with a person you don’t recognize and barely like

One day your little girl is looking up at you with the biggest, roundest, and brownest eyes ever. She is asking you 20,000 questions about the sky, trying on all of your jewelry so she can “look like you mama”, asking about the -what if’s- of the world.

Than it happens:

Puberty.

Your little girl is now 13 and the only thing she is asking you is when dinner is ready and if she can go to a friend’s house.

What makes it all sting a little more is that your kisses no longer make things better. You singing along with her favorite song is no longer cool. Your jokes sound more like -dad jokes- than them actually being funny. If you try to help her pick out any outfit, God forbid if you do because your style is -outdated!

But how did her turning into this 13 yr old person happen so quickly? Wasn’t she just losing her first tooth or stuck to your hip while you two watched a movie together on the couch? Wasn’t she randomly crossing her arms and legs with each other as she was reading a book with Teddy by her side?

What happened to that girl? Better yet…

What person replaced her?

She looks like your daughter, but now she is eye-to-eye with you. This person smells of B.O. because they refuse to use the hundred and one bottles of deodorant you bought them. And this person argues and cries at a drop of a hat about the most minute things: a video they watched, the calm and collective way you thought you told them to do something, or if they have ‘nothing to wear’ when their closet is still half full.

Who ARE you and what have you done to my daughter?

It all happened so quickly and without warning. You literally just tucked her into bed, gave her kisses, said your prayers, and then it was as if ‘IT’ woke up in your sweet daughter’s place instead. The Mr. Hyde to your Dr. Jekyll.

Never in your life have you wanted to put someone in their place. Maybe even knock someone so badly, but you can’t. Legally you can’t because it’s your daughter and you know you still love her because she is still standing in front of you- back taking. Or trying to backtalk, but she even knows better so she is trying to backtalk without back talking you.

What kind of an emotional rollercoaster of a person did you create?

Where did you go wrong?

The other worse thing about this hand you have been dealt with is that person standing in front of you reminds you of someone. Oh, you know who! The way they cut their eye at you, or the way they say ‘huh?’ when asked the same question over and over, or the way they try to give you a hug and a -I’m sorry kiss- after an argument. Yeah, It’s you. They are a mini-version of you.

How do you win against that?!

When all seems lost with your new ‘roommate’, something out of the blue happens. It is as if the skies parted and for a moment this person does the unthinkable…they smile… on purpose because they wanted to. Then they laugh WITH you because you were funny. And when you thought that your heart was full…

She gives you a hug before going to bed.

She literally, at her own accord, came downstairs to give you a ‘just because’ hug. Then there she is, your little girl. Even for a brief moment, she emerged. Now you know with all the craziness of her growing up and you finally accepting the fact that she is growing up that you two will be ok. You two still have each other’s back and you need each other. That you two will still be close, but just in a different and better way.

Do you agree?

When the South Came to the North and Neither of Them Smiled: a mamas advice

” Well darling, just smile. You look unpleasant when you don’t.”

“Really mama? Thanks.”

“Yep! No problem.”

Mama

My mama.

That woman can give some of the most simple yet effective advice in a ‘not a care in a world’ kind of way. She truly is a Southern woman through and through and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So when I came to her to vent about me living in Upstate New York now I “ought to of known better” as she would say.

I understand that NO ONE was prepared for 2020. I mean 2020 was not prepared for 2020. But to move to Upstate New York two and half weeks prior to ‘the world ending’ now that was bad timing.

I closed the gap in a long distance relationship, packed, and moved to Syracuse, NY from Southern Pines, NC February of this year. I jokingly say that I fell for the biggest scam of it all; I fell for love. It got me! I uprooted my 13 yr old daughter and my 2 yr old dog and we went for it!!

Moving from a world you have always known is not easy within itself, despite Covid-19 going on. We were ready and prepared months in advice for the move between flying back and forth to us (my daughter and I) having in-depth conversations and weighing our options. I was ready financially, mentally, and all in between that you possibly could be.

The one thing that I did not take into consideration was… the culture.

That took me completely off guard. I came to realize that Southern hospitality truly is an essential part of the Southern culture. Duh, I know. But I did not consider that because it was always there. It is how people live, how they interact with one anther, who they are. It is who I am as a person, a woman, as a mama myself.

Now I do have to say that most people I have met so far have been really nice and thoughtful. If I had to use a word to describe the people up here, it would be…

guarded.

Back home everyone is automictically considered family. We accept you with open arms and our trust is given right off the back…until it is not than ‘God bless you’ and you are on your way.

I noticed with the people up here, they are a little more suspicious of you and a bit guarded until they get a feel for you. They’ll invite you in their circle, but they keep their eye on you. Distrust off the bat until they like you. All of this was new and to be honest it still is after 10 months of living here.

“Well darling, just smile. You look unpleasant when you don’t.”

That was it. That was the word of advice my mama had when I called. Even after I hung up the phone I kept shaking my head. Out of all the advice she could have given, that was it? Just smile? Of course I dismissed it and went on with my week.

I’ve been working on the front yard updating the plants and flowers. I didn’t see the man walking by at first. He always walks by our home on his daily walks. Sometimes I see him and sometimes I don’t. There have been times when I have seen him, I just ignore him and kept on working. In my mind I got things to do, but that day as he was passing by me he caught my eye.

That day I looked up, said hey, and then I smiled. That smiled has turned into me meeting a man who knows way too much about plants and flowers. It’s crazy his knowledge and I love it! He has been so helpful and intriguing to talk to… and I am so thankful that I smiled!

Thanks mama. That’s what I get for doubting you. ❤