Give me Space & Time… and I will Caramelize Onions.

Columbia River from Vagabond Lodge
Let me sing you the glories of a weekend to yourself, nestled among riverside evergreens, when you are a sleep deprived mama of two.
A gift I always assumed was too much to even ask for, was reserved and packaged sweetly and generously by my husband, who held down the fort at home while I cozied up by a fireplace and remembered what it was like to follow my own natural rhythms and make decisions based purely on how I felt at the moment.
I relished the thought and imagined what it would be like in the days leading up to this weekend.  What I would occupy my time with, the things I could do with my stretches of time, the places I would take myself out to eat.  The sleeping in I would do!
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And I did.  I slept and woke lazily and at my own whims.  I took myself on walks along the river and marveled at the muted but rich palate of greens and blues and grays.  I soaked up the Christmas lights and decorations wherever I found them.
But I was surprised that I didn’t go far.  And every meal that I ate, I cooked myself in the little kitchen on my riverside cottage.
And I knew… that what I wanted, needed, more than anything was replenishment, rest and first-hand recreation.  But part of me thought that would come in the form of enjoying food others cooked.  Rambling through new streets and into new shops.  You know, vacation stuff.  Oh I anticipated lots of reading and writing and maybe even a yoga class.. but the extent to which I actually bunkered down in my little retreat house surprised me.
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When given an abundance of space and time… what I wanted to do… was cook.  Sit and eat, with the fire and nothing else.  I brought stacks of books and notebooks, because I can’t leave home without at least half a dozen options… but most of them were untouched.  I spent some time Unravelling the year (a la Susannah Conway) but then let it sit, to marinate, rather than bulldozing through the entirety of it.  I read a chapter here and there.  But then I wanted space.
I wanted to sit and get lost in the stillness around me and the flicker of flame.  I wanted to push and pull at flour and yeast and salt.  I wanted to put the heat on low, and stir and swirl onions until they were soft and caramelized.  I wanted to wash a dish (GASP!!!) and feel the warm sudsy water wash over my hands as they moved over the white, smooth surfaces.  Those things that time in the everyday doesn’t always seem to allow for.  Or that I don’t take the time for because I think my time is more valuable spent elsewhere.
It’s this realization that has been slowly trickling into my understanding… first intellectually, and now, it seems… ever so slowly into my experience.  That things are achieved… growth, evolution, realization, alchemy, beauty… when you let something simmer for a while.  When you leave it alone, and let the crackling of it, or the smell of it lure you back, reminding you to give it a little attention.
I think sometimes the things we need most, are the things we so adamantly insist are a waste of time… an unnecessary luxury… superfluous.
I think this weekend.  To caramelize onions was exactly what I needed.
Vagabond Lodge, Hood River
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A Little About Me

I’ve always been a fan of the occasional, casual massage, but my real introduction came with a recommendation that still flashes through my mind today.  I was nudged towards a local massage school with the words, “there’s something so nourishing about touch that is purely for healing.”  And with this new inclination, my experience with massage went from the sporadic and spontaneous chance for a little luxury, to something more intentionally chosen for care and my own desire for healing.

My first glimpse of a significant pause.  Time set aside for me, permission to exit the rat race, even if just for an hour, and allow someone to tend to the tired, worn out, wound up, stressed out muscles that were keeping me on edge.  And in that hour, the rest of me, the tired, worn out, wound up, stressed out parts of my brain and my soul felt like they were being tended to as well.

My fascination with the process of healing through touch, and a marvel at the ability to be one of those people who could help others with their own tired, wound up muscles and minds led me to the study and practice of massage.

Since 2008, I’ve been working as a massage therapist in Santa Barbara doing a combination of private massage, spa based massage, and event contracted massage.  My current modalities include deep tissue, trigger point therapy, barefoot massage, shiatsu and acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy.  But because every person I work on is so uniquely different in body and preferences, I most often integrate the different styles, seeking a rhythm that is most compatible with whoever is on my table.

What I’ve really been doing since 2008 is exploring the seemingly subtle, but often profound power of touch.  The shifts that occur when we take the time to pause.  We’ve internalized the pace of our society, and each of our individual worlds seem to demand so much, so often, and so quickly.  Especially because of this, there is an invaluable power in healthy, healing touch.

I’ve found that as I loosen up tight shoulders or smooth through the tension that lands so often in the upper back, as the muscles relax, the breath deepens.  As the breath deepens, resistance lessens, the furrows in your brow begin to soften, and the common rush in the air gives way to calm.  It’s quite tangible, the ability of touch to permeate levels beyond relieving physical stress, but in easing mental and emotional stress as well.  Your posture changes, but so does your gaze, the pace of your speech, and the way in which you interact with your surroundings.  When your body is finally able to relax, you will find some deeper, more internal places are able to relax as well.

I love to work with people who feel constricted by time, but see the value in taking a moment to pause every now and then, helping them to create some time and space for the care of their own bodies and minds. When you allow yourself that pause, your ability to create some change in those nagging aches and tensions will expand farther into your life than you may expect.

When was the last time touch was not about giving for you, but receiving?

Elaine Watson