Sunday, August 31, 2008

How to Give a Fantastic Foot Rub

"You can use any type of moisturizing cream or lotion. A favorite is relaxing lavender scent or a refreshing peppermint scented creams which are easy to find at most stores.

Let’s get started and make your friend comfortable.

  • Have your friend tell you if anything causes pain or they simply want to end the foot rub
  • Being gentle is the safest way to rub especially if you are rubbing elders, children and if someone may be under the weather
  • Your recipients body language is a good way to judge your rubbing technique
  • If your rubbing techniques are reciprocated with pleasurable sounds, keep rubbing the way you are rubbing- it’s working

Some basic foot rubbing techniques...ready, let’s go!
  1. Begin with the right foot.

  2. The starting stroke in foot rub is a gliding stroke called effleurage. Effleurage is a technique which increases the flow of blood and gently stretches the soft tissue.

  3. Grasp the foot with one hand and stroke the top of the foot. Apply moderate pressure on the bottom of the foot, this area can be ticklish, we don’t want your recipient to be pushed into a fit of laughter.

  4. Rub and stroke your receivers’ entire foot. 15 -20 times on the top and bottom should feel extra nice.

  5. Rotation of the Foot- This move is not a stretching movement just simple circles to relax the foot and ankle.

  6. Support the foot with one hand. With the other hand, gently move the foot through its natural range of motion. Do not push the foot into the chosen direction. Simply and slowly glide the foot in an oval-type motion. As you slowly rotate the foot, you may find the range of motion increases slightly. Rotate the foot 3-5 times in each direction.

  7. Ankle/Foot Stroke- with both hands, simultaneously stroke the foot to the ankle several times. This is a whole body relaxing technique.

  8. Start with your fingertips where the toes join the foot. Use both hands to press down between the sides of the foot.

  9. Slide your finger up the foot toward the ankle, when your fingers reach the ankle area, wrap your fingers around the entire ankle (as far as your fingers will reach) and gently massage the front of the ankle joint with your thumbs.

  10. In general, rub only the muscle tissue when giving a rub. Areas with bone tend to be sensitive.
Make sure both feet are given the attention and same amount of rubbing; they work equally has hard."
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Annual Girls Retreat

Last weekend I went on a girls weekend or what I now think of as our first annual retreat! The original reason for going was our dear friend Ann's 50th birthday. But I think in the future it's just going to be "just because". We are already planning to go back to the same place, although in the fall instead of August.

I typed notes up on my PDA at night, so I'm going to use them to create my post and add comments and pics along the way. I had a smudge on my lens and didn't realize it, so some of the pictures look a little weird.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's 1:00 am and I'm sitting in a king sized four poster canopy bed that is one of the most beautiful beds I have ever seen!

My bedroom is huge. There are carved side tables, the one by my bed has faces carved in the legs I just noticed - I'll have to photograph those tomorrow. There is a huge dresser, two other occasional tables and a round glass dinette table with a carved bottom and two chairs. Huge room. The bathroom is almost as big! The tub is large and deep and I was very disappointed to find the stopper doesn't actually work and the water wouldn't stay in it for a bath. So I had a shower instead. [Interestingly, though the house is gorgeous there are little things like missing vents, unpainted doors, missing trim, that are a little haphazard.]

As large as this house is, the walls are somewhat thin, as I can hear people below and beside me talking.

It is our girls weekend! Lynn found this amazing house for rent. It's a 4 bedroom 5 bathroom 2 story house with a full basement/rec room. Oh and it has a great deck with wicker patio furniture and a dinette set looking out into the woods out back.

The inside of the house:

Outside around the house (first two photos are views from front porch and back deck)

The flowers planted along the front walk draw tons of birds, butterflies and bees - I'm planting zinnias like this next year!

It is out in the country and took us longer than we thought to get out here. Only maybe 15 miles from the interstate to the turn onto the 250 acre property, but then it was several more miles to the house. There are a bed & breakfast and two other large houses out here. Amazingly, we have cell phone service. We passed fields filled with cows and deer. We saw so many fawns! There is a good crop of food this summer, so I think the deer had lots of babies this year. We saw one doe with three fawns all of which still had their spots.

We came in two carloads. I rode with Ann and Lynn. We stopped in Beckley for dinner at Pizza Hut. I'm not sure what time we actually got to the house - between 8:30 and 9:00 I think because it was getting dark. We unloaded everything then hung out on the back porch until the others arrived.

After the second carload got here and we got them unloaded and showed them around, we sat out on the back deck for a bit then came in and had a snack.

While some people ate, I went back to a bedroom with Lynn and she showed me gifts she had picked up for us at Sally's [Mountain Mama's]. She got us each a card, a medicine bag and a little buddha! She is so sweet. She and I and Shay sat on her bed for awhile talking about them and about spirituality for a little while, while Lynn put everything together. Then we joined the others and Lynn gave us the beautiful medicine bags and we all wore them the rest of the evening (I think I wore mine the rest of the weekend).

We went out front to get a better view of the stars. AMAZING. We're in the mountains so we have a great view. Ann, Shay and I laid out in the front yard on the grass for a long time just gazing up at the stars. I have not done that since I was a child. I always say I'm going to and never do. It was just the best. The sky is amazing out here where there are no lights from any city to be seen. And it was clear and perfect for star gazing. I saw two shooting stars!!

After awhile we came back in and sat in the living room and talked. Then some of us split off to our bedrooms. I am tired but don't want to sleep. I can still hear others talking, not sure where they all are. I thought everyone had gone to their bedrooms but I think several are gathered in one now. LOL. None of us want to sleep! I wanted to have this quiet time for myself. I had a nice shower and I'm going to turn this off and lay down and enjoy a good night's sleep, before waking up to spend the day with my girlies!

I am so blessed to have such friends. Truly blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I woke up at 6:30 but was so sleepy that although I saw Shay was out on the back deck I went back to sleep for an hour. A few others were starting to move around so I got up and got dressed and went downstairs. We spent time on the back deck.

Then I decided to walk around a little by myself. There were lots of crows being loud nearby, and a cow too - all day this cow complained! I walked around and took pictures, collected feathers, and meditated on a rock in the sun.  I took a deer path over to the woods and back. Then walked around the back before going inside.

Lynn had brought french toast casserole for breakfast. She made it in advance and we just heated it up. We ate it outside and it was sooooo good!!! Here's the recipe: Lynn's Night Before French Toast Casserole.

This little bird would chase butterflies and/or bees into the air and eat them! It's either a phoebe or a peewee. I think we decided peewee.

The goldfinches loved the flowers too

We decided to spend all day at the house instead of going out for dinner as we had originally planned. We talked, read and some watched tv. We had sandwiches for lunch at the big dining room table and lots of snacks, fruits and desserts. Ann brought the most marvelous muffins, from a Hungry Girl recipe (which may actually be a Weight Watcher's recipe?). They are healthy and really delicious. Here's the recipe: Yum Yum Brownie Muffins. Lee brought her famous homemade chocolate chip cookies. I don't know if she likes to share her recipe - they are very special cookies. They are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Shay brought an olive dip with Kashi crackers. Well there was plenty more food, everyone brought stuff.

Later, four of us went for a walk down the road and by the other rental houses and the bed and breakfast. It was a little hot in the sun and we got a little sweaty. But it was nice to see everything in the daylight.

This is the Mulberry House, which was next door to ours. It has 8 bedrooms.

This is the Foxwood Bed & Breakfast

We hung out, talked, read, watched tv, snacked. Some people napped. Eventually we ate some more, out on the back deck. We also spent time writing down things we wanted to release for our releasing ceremony.

After we ate, Ann opened bday gifts out on the deck.

Then we went outside for our release ceremony.

We started talking about doing something like this ceremony last year. Our original intent was to release things we held against ourselves, to forgive ourselves and let them go. Lee actually has participated in something like this before, at a Methodist church retreat. I have heard it called "burning bowl" and sometimes it's done on New Year's Eve. I did mine in 3 parts. First, things I wanted to forgive myself for. Then things I wanted to release (like impatience, anger, excess weight, etc.). I can't remember the third part. But then I also wrote on a separate paper (that I didn't burn) affirmations, like "I am patient", "I am healthy", etc.

After preparing, we went downstairs and out back. It was already dark. We dragged the charcoal grill out from under the deck and to a spot where we could see the stars. Some of us took our shoes off. We each held a candle. I led the ceremony. I lit my candle and then lit Jean's, and she passed the flame on until it went around the circle. We had a prayer. I took my paper and said I had things to release. I thanked them for their lessons but released them and said I was free of them now. Once it had burned completely, I turned to Jean and led her through it then continued around the circle. After we'd all burned our paper, we passed out rose quartz stones as "talismans" to remind us of our ceremony (which we put in our medicine bags). Then we had a closing prayer.

We went back in the house for sangria slushes, courtesy of Jean, and foot massages courtesy of Shay ("footcials", she called them). By the time that was over I was exhausted and sleepy.

I've showered and now it's a little after midnight and I have to go to sleep!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I awoke to find a button buck eating flowers beneath my second floor bathroom window. I tried to get a picture of him through the window but was getting too much of a glare. So I decided to open it. I opened it just a little then stopped as he looked around. When he resumed eating I raised it a little more then stopped. Finally all the way up, and he ran off, into the yard. I got a picture but you can't really see his baby horns.

We had more french toast casserole for breakfast and sat outside talking. Mostly we just hung out, then started getting ready and packing up. We took some group photos before we left.

We left the house and went to Beckley, where we had dinner at Pasquale's.

Waiting for our table - look how coordinated Lynn was with the colors!

It was soooooo good!!! Some of the best Italian food I have ever had. Everyone said their particular dish was the best they'd had.

My chicken fettucine alfredo was superb.

I only had one bite of Shay's cake but it really was heavenly, just as the waitress promised.

Shay had sauteed calamari - you could see the little tentacles!!

Eventually we made our way home. It was a wonderful weekend and I feel very blessed to have the friends that I do. I think we all benefited from this time together and definitely look forward to next year.

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National Geographic Article about Shamanism

"Fr centuries, Amazonian shamans have used ayahuasca as a window into the soul. The sacrament, they claim, can cure any illness. The author joins in this ancient ritual and finds the worlds within more terrifying—and enlightening—than ever imagined.

I will never forget what it was like. The overwhelming misery. The certainty of never-ending suffering. No one to help you, no way to escape. Everywhere I looked: darkness so thick that the idea of light seemed inconceivable.

Suddenly, I swirled down a tunnel of fire, wailing figures calling out to me in agony, begging me to save them. Others tried to terrorize me. "You will never leave here," they said. "Never. Never."
I found myself laughing at them. "I'm not scared of you," I said. But the darkness became even thicker; the emotional charge of suffering nearly unbearable. I felt as if I would burst from heartbreak—everywhere, I felt the agony of humankind, its tragedies, its hatreds, its sorrows. I reached the bottom of the tunnel and saw three thrones in a black chamber. Three shadowy figures sat in the chairs; in the middle was what I took to be the devil himself.

"The darkness will never end," he said. "It will never end. You can never escape this place."

"I can," I replied.

All at once, I willed myself to rise. I sailed up through the tunnel of fire, higher and higher until I broke through to a white light. All darkness immediately vanished. My body felt light, at peace. I floated among a beautiful spread of colors and patterns. Slowly my ayahuasca vision faded. I returned to my body, to where I lay in the hut, insects calling from the jungle.

"Welcome back," the shaman said.

The next morning, I discovered the impossible: The severe depression that had ruled my life since childhood had miraculously vanished. "

Much more here - including a video:

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short seated qigong exercise

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emotional Debt

"We all owe emotional debts to the past, in the form of feelings we couldn’t allow ourselves to express. The past isn’t over as long as these debts go unpaid. You don’t have to return to the person who made you angry or afraid, with the intention of revising how the past turned out. For that person, the impact can never be the same as it is for you.

Every hidden, blocked feeling is like a chunk of frozen consciousness. It is another obstacle between you and the silent witness that must be dissolved. Time and attention have to be paid, sitting with your feelings and letting them say what they have to say.

The purpose of getting rid of emotional debt is to find your place in the present."

- Deepak Chopra

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love, and value, and appreciate."

- John Ruskin, 1819-1900
English Author, Poet and Artist

via Inspiration Peak

p.s., I love my new job!!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Drink Green Tea

6 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

1. Cut Your Cancer Risk
Several polyphenols ... seem to help keep cancer cells from gaining a foothold in the body by discouraging growth and then suppressing the creation of new blood vessels that tumors need to thrive. Study after study has found that regularly drinking green tea reduces the risk of breast, stomach, esophagus, colon, and prostate cancer.

2. Soothe Your Skin
...The tea is a natural antiseptic that relieves itching and swelling. Try it on inflamed blemishes, sunburns, or puffy eyelids. But that's not all. Green tea has been shown to help block sun-triggered skin cancer, whether you drink it or apply it directly to the skin -- which is why you're seeing green tea in more and more sunscreens and moisturizers.

3. Steady Your Blood Pressure
... [P]eople who sip just half a cup of green tea a day are almost 50% less likely to wind up with hypertension than nondrinkers. Credit goes to the polyphenols again (especially one known as ECGC); they help keep blood vessels from contracting and raising blood pressure.

4. Protect Your -- or Your Mom's -- Memory
... Getting-up-there adults who drink at least two cups a day are half as likely to develop cognitive problems as those who drink less. ...

5. Stay Young
...[F]ight plaque buildup in your blood vessels; the sticky stuff increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, adds years to your RealAge, and saps your energy. How much green tea does this vital job take? About 10 ounces a day, which also deters your body from absorbing
artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.

6. Lose Weight
...[G]reen tea speeds up your body's calorie-burning process. "
6 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

"Help your body incinerate that stubborn spare tire by drinking this metabolism booster before your workout .... In a recent small study, extracts from green tea helped men burn 17 percent more fat during a 30-minute cardio workout.

It’s not clear how green tea boosts metabolism. Researchers suspect that something in the healthy brew makes fat more available as fuel, so you oxidize more of it when you exercise."
The Surgery-Free Tummy Tuck
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vacation: Cathedral State Park, Seneca Rocks, Rockingham County Fair, etc.

My 10th wedding anniversary was yesterday. Every year on our anniversary we go to the cabins where we spent our honeymoon for our vacation (our "annual honeymoon"). We had a good visit this week but it went by really fast!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We left our house mid-morning and headed north on I-79, then got onto 33 at the Weston exit. We stopped in Buckhannon to have lunch at CJ Maggie's. We usually go to the Elkins location, and this was our first time at the Buckannon restaurant. I love their calzones!

After lunch we continued on Route 33 then turned off onto Route 92 and went through Junior, Belington, etc., I used to drive this road twice a week to work in Morgantown when we lived in Elkins. It's beautiful farm country with lots of cows. I hadn't been down it in years. The weather was gorgeous, and it was a very pleasant drive.

We eventually turned onto Route 50. We stopped for a bathroom break at Cool Springs Park.

This is an old roadside attraction type tourist stop. Dave first took me there years ago, when we were still dating I think. They have a big souvenir shop, foot long hot dogs and a park next door with geese and a bunch of dead farm machines.

The reason was took this out of the way route was to stop at Cathedral State Park in Aurora, Preston County, West Virginia.

I have been wanting to go there for years. It's the last stand of virgin mixed timber left in the state, meaning that it's never been timbered, so it's old growth forest. It's mostly eastern hemlock trees; the hemlock is the "climax" species, meaning that it is making the forest suitable for its own species and will eventually crowd everything else out. This ancient forest contains trees up to 90 feet tall and 21 feet around. This 133 acre tract was preserved by its private owners and in 1942 was sold to the State of West Virginia with the provision that it remain untouched by ax or saw.

Cathedral State Park is a wonderful place!! I just fell in love with it.

I am officially a tree hugger now

I like walking downtown or by the river but I *love* walking in the forest. I could have wandered around there for hours.

The only downside is that it's close to the highway so you have some traffic noise. Otherwise it would be a perfect place. It's so beautiful and so peaceful. The trees are tall and block out a lot of the sun, so there's not a lot of brush and you can make your way through the forest pretty easily in most places. There's a creek that meanders through it.

We continued along Route 50 toward Mount Storm. Along the way we kind of accidentally went through Thomas. We stopped by the Mountain Made Country Store but didn't buy anything.

I wanted to go in the antique store, but it was closed. So we continued on to Mount Storm. As we approached we noticed a whole bunch of windmills have been erected!

I can understand why people wouldn't want these in their back yards. But I don't think they are that objectionable looking. They are much less objectionable than the huge smokestack at the power plant or the strip mine we passed nearby.

We eventually made it to the cabin. This year we stayed in my favorite, cabin #12. It's my favorite because it's right by the river and bigger than the old honeymoon cabins. I was very pleased to see they replaced the one old worn out sofa with two new leather-like loveseats. They are so much more comfortable! I was also glad they added a chest to put our clothes in.

View from the front porch and from the back door

You used to be able to see the river from the porch, but the trees have grown up too much now and they block the view.

The North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac; in the older cabin section

We had dinner out at the Hermitage Inn Restaurant. Husband's iron is low and he was told by the nurse earlier in the day that his doctor said he needed to eat more beef. So went out and got a steak. Ha! The food was excellent, as good as any steak I've had anywhere. I don't think you can find better food in Petersburg.

The Hermitage Inn has an interesting history. It was built by slave labor in the 1840s and was initially a private residence. During the civil war, it was seized by federal troops and used to house officers. Since 1881, it has been used continuously as a hostelry. In the 60's, they added a modern motor lodge to the back. The Inn is allegedly haunted, as reported here by the owner:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

After breakfast, we set off for Seneca Rocks. Seneca Rocks is a beautiful, large rock formation that is popular with rock climbers and is the most dramatic landmark in the area. There is a trail that zig zags up the mountain to an observation platform. See the little red circle toward the left? That's where the platform is. You may have to click on the picture to see it.

We have been vacationing together in this area for 11 years now and have not been in shape enough for me to even consider doing this trail. But we decided before coming that this year we would do it. And we did.

It was a lot longer than I expected (1.3 miles each way), because it zig zags up the mountain, gradually climbing upward like a logging road with switchbacks and occasionally stairs.

It took a long time and we rested a couple of times. But it was a lovely walk through the forest.

Once about 2/3 of the way up we sat on a bench and a family was coming down the trail. I was hot and tired and it must have shown, because the teenage boy stopped and got a bottle of water out of his backpack and offered it to us. I took it gratefully. It was such a kind thing to do - kids don't usually think of those things. I snuck a picture as he and his family left us.

Finally, we made it to the top!

Once we got to the top we enjoyed some majestic views of the North Fork valley, climbed around on the rocks just a little and took lots of pictures.

Then we traveled back down the mountain, which was much easier than going up. By the time we got back to our car, over 2 hours had passed.

We stopped at the Seneca Rocks discovery center briefly then made our plans for the rest of the day. Originally, our plan was to go to a county fair afterward but I was tired, hot and sweaty and it didn't sound very appealing. So after stopping at Yokum's store for some juice and nuts, we drove over to Moorefield to have a late lunch.

We had lunch was at the Stray Cat Cafe, a tex-mex restaurant and bar we had been to once before. The food was pretty good but could have been better. I had the Santa Fe Chimichanga. I thought it was somewhat bland, but I'd had a zinc lozenge during the night and it affects my taste so it might have just been me. Husband had the fajitas.

We made a few other stops in Moorefield and at Smoke Hole to shop then headed back to the cabin. It rained on and off the rest of the afternoon so we hung out at the cabin and had dinner in.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First on today's agenda was a drive through our favorite area, Germany Valley. We saw a lot of birds in Germany Valley. First, a heron that was just sitting on a log watching the creek. Unfortunately I startled him and he flew off before I could get a picture. Down the road we also saw a hawk, a turkey vulture and a kingfisher.

We also saw some cows.

And of course some beautiful scenery.

We drove over to Franklin, where we stopped to renew our subscription to the Pendleton Times.

We stopped for lunch in Brandywine at The Cabin Restaurant.

I really liked this place. My photos didn't turn out very good. We had the fried chicken special with mashed potatoes and gravy and homemade bread! They also had homemade pies and cakes.

On the way to Harrisonburg, we stopped at Reddish Knob, the highest point in Northern Virginia, located on the border of WV and VA.

Eventually we made it to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and went to the Rockingham County Fair! I just wanted to see the animals. And there were plenty. Including a petting zoo. The petting zoo was manned by kids, who were eager to help me pet and feed the animals.

This little boy was so cute and very talkative. He asked which duck I wanted to pet before he wrangled the smallest one for me.

These were the beef cows.

They were judging some cows in the show ring and we watched for awhile. I couldn't hear the judge very well and would like to have known more about what they looked for. But it was still fun to watch, even though we had no idea what was going on.

The goat building was fun. Goats are so friendly! They had to share a building with the pigs and sheep.

Some sort of sheep klan meeting??

Dairy cows are the prettiest. (Don't tell the beef cows I said that). The very last cow picture has a sign that says "Beware of Attack Cow". Hee!

The poultry house! Husband found me a very pretty large brown and black feather here.

Finally, the flower & produce building

I had a great time visiting the fair! We drove back to the cabin and stopped at The Hermitage again for dinner and this time tried the seafood (salmon for Husband, trout for me). It wasn't as good as the steak. But still a good meal. The hand-cut fries were awesome. After we ate we went back to the cabin and took a walk by the river behind the cabin and watched Big Brother.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our anniversary! We got up, packed and headed for home. It was a good vacation, but it's always good to get back to our kitties.

The End (finally!) More pictures here:

Vacation August 2008: Misc Pictures

Vacation August 2008: Cathedral State Park

Vacation August 2008: Seneca Rocks, trail and observation platform

Vacation August 2008: Germany Valley

Vacation August 2008: Rockingham County Fair