Category Archives: self love

Touch Service #selfcare

How often do you got to get manicures, massages, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, spa days? How often do you touch yourself purposefully, rub your neck, your legs, your feet, put on oils or lotions? Are you someone who is comfortable being touched by people? How aware are you of the importance of touch in your life? How comfortable are you with being touched and touching others?

This is something I’ve thought a lot about on and off for years.  I am a touch positive person, but I am also aware of how unfortunately, disturbed and sick people use touch to violate the trust of others, leading to trauma, isolation, repression, depression and worse. It’s fucked up. Because touch is incredibly important and key to our survival and a sense of calm, safety and energetic balance and joy.

science-of-hugs

In humans, oxytocin is thought to be released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both genders. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity. Oxytocin first became of interest to researchers when they discovered that breastfeeding women are calmer when exercising and experiencing stress than moms who were bottle-feeding. It is just one part of the important, complex neurochemical system in our bodies that helps us adapt to emotional situations.

God knows we need all the stress releasing we can get in the toxic climate we currently find ourselves living through at the moment.

Manicurist Hands Doing Hand Massage With Cream

I often wonder about people who provide services that require them to touch people on a daily basis. Like sometimes I’ll be having my hands massaged by a manicurist and sometimes I will allow myself to fully relax and not be self-conscious about being touched by a stranger. This is easier when the person acknowledges me with eye contact or smiles and is attentive, as opposed to someone who is massaging my hands while they look away or are engaged in conversation with another co-worker. When the person is touching me but looking away I get the sense that they have become detached from the importance of being present when providing this service.

But it’s hard for me to judge them. Because I don’t know what this kind of job is like. I don’t ever expect the woman who massages and scrubs my feet during a pedicure to stare lovingly into my eyes. I’m just grateful that she’s handling my feet. LOL!!

I don’t know if this is something  I could do effectively everyday. But I do know that it is important, that is something I notice whenever I am paying to be touched for grooming or wellness purposes.

I really truly appreciate professionals in the field of massage and I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of having very capable and skilled people work on me. I don’t take it lightly. Because touch as a form of therapy is a deeply powerful, sensual and connective thing. It takes skill, professionalism, intelligence and maturity to provide people with healing in this way while also making them feel comfortable and safe.

I’m a big fan of hugs on a personal level, though I recognize that not everyone is. My theory about people who are adverse to touch is that they may be more sensitive to it than most, perhaps hypersensitive and require specific forms of touch from specific sources.

I love hugs so much that I have mental hug catalogs. There are about two or three people in my top 5 list of great huggers at the moment. My husband and I both agree that some people are just better at hugging than others and that weak hugs are a total waste of time and energy. LOL! My husband happens to be number 1 on that list. His hugging, holding and touching skills are part of what drew me to him initially. I’d never met someone before who touched me casually in a way that made me feel as if I’d known him and loved him forever.

Did you know there are people who are professional cuddlers? Yeah, I even found out about “Cuddle Parties” from a friend years ago. LOL! I don’t know about all that but I do know that services like these are symptomatic of a society that is dire need of feeling connected in an age where social media has fragmented and isolated us in ways never experienced before, ways that allow us to be both closer and yet more estranged and segregated than ever.

Touch helps not only to release stress reducing hormones but also to shift energy that may be stagnant or pent up. The human experience is one of cycle expression. To reap the full benefits of being alive, we need to be able to healthily shift, change and evolve energy in order to process, unload and regenerate so that we can create, share, serve and receive.

Here’s to making sure you’re getting the most out of healthy touch positive experiences in your life on a daily basis. Nothing in social media can replace the power of touching and being touched by people who makes you feel safe, comfortable and supported.

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New Moon in Virgo

Virgo is the sign that governs health, habits & routines, making this an optimal time to consider practical ways we can implement healthy habits for increased well-being.

I started this morning by writing a 3 page letter to a close friend of mine who now lives in Oakland. There are a lot of things I’ve needed to get off my chest that don’t need to be shared on social media.

You know how long it’s been since I’ve written a letter?? I’d been wanting write a letter for a while. I’m starting to feel more like doing things I think about rather than just think about doing them. I feel has a lot to with this New Moon in Virgo energy coming in on Sunday.

I attended to gathering I helped put together to honor Khalilah on her birthday a few weeks ago. It was in Prospect Park near a tree she used to love to sit by on the odd occasion that she had or made time to sit and relax. I loved sitting out there with her. I loved relaxing with her in general because she was always so busy and being busy is not my natural habitat. So whenever we were able to slow down, I was super excited to hang out, talk, laugh, plan and learn with her. And nature being my favorite place to feel connected to spirit, it was always quality time for us.

Hawk

The gathering was really a beautiful and magical evening with exactly 7 of us ladies to start. When I arrived at Grand Army Plaza, I zeroed in immediately on a fluffy red tailed hawk at the top of a tall tree near the path to where we were going to gather. I just felt that this was part of Khalilah’s spirit.

The woman who lead the circle was someone who knew Khalilah a from Black woman’s leadership group that she was a part of and she lead with grace, playfulness, femininity, passion, reverence and an honor that I felt was absolutely befitting.

Guides

At one point she handed around a deck of cards for us to choose from and let us know beforehand that the message on the other side would be from Khalilah to each of us individually. I had to wait a few minutes before I read mine aloud because all I did was cry when I looked at it.

Since then I have felt a kind of building peace as I’ve worked on releasing and processing my grief and I’ve dedicated myself to self care in active ways because quite frankly, I’ve been falling the f&*k apart. LOL!

I’ve been talking things days by day, step by step, beating up on myself a bit less, rushing less and enjoying life for what it is. Precious.

This coming New Moon in Virgo which was the sign Khalilah was born under will be a powerful one for those of us who are dedicated to focusing on self-care and developing healthy routines in order to best serve ourselves and others. I’m actually excited about going back to the gym! LOL! But that’s because I know exactly what I need to focus on. It’s also because I’m fully aware that she loves me as she loves so many of us and still wants me to work on truly love myself.

Ashe’

 

Heavenly Creature

I took me a few days to get through Maron’s WTF podcast interview with Melanie Lynskey for a couple of reasons.

  1. I really like her a lot as an actress (Heavenly Creatures” is one of my all time favorite films) and apparently she is very shy and meek with a super quiet voice who has and does struggles with several disorders causing Marc who loves her as well to really apply some tough love to bring her out of herself. In this case it got a bit raw and shaky at times but they were both very smart and respectful of one another so it seems they still liked and deeply respected one another by the end.
  2. I’m an accent junky, so I got really wrapped up in listening to Lynskey’s New Zealand accent. I just….I love accents, twangs and distinctive voices in general. The one time I was in England years ago I remember meeting my cousin there for the first time and not really understanding everything he said because of his thick cockney accent. Oh, God, how often as a girl did I do my own version of the cockney accent after watching “Upstairs Downstairs” on PBS with my mom? And now here was my own cousin just wafting his thick cockney over me unaware that I just never wanted it to stop, that although I nodded in comprehension, most of it was just me prompting him to keep talking. LOL!!

So I had to listen to some parts of this interview several times so that I followed it all the way through. Because it gets a bit harrowing, at least for me when Melanie starts talking about her struggles with an eating disorder as a girl and Marc gently shares his own struggle with body and food shame with her.

The part I just loved is when she talks about stopping her obsession with thinking about food and just decided to let herself enjoy eating. Believe it or not, this all starts with Melanie bringing Marc a gift of cookies at the beginning of the interview. The thread of food and body shame runs pretty heavily throughout their exchange. She shares a moment where she looks at her body one day and actually finds herself enjoying it for the first time and thinking how lovely and sexy her roundness was. “What’s wrong with that?” she said. Of course the answer is nothing and I’m smiling and nodding affirmatively at this point.

Many of us who know of Melanie, know her from Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” a dark film based on the true story of two severely emotionally dysfunctional high school girls in New Zealand who successfully plot the brutal murder of the mother of the girl played by Lynskey. They do get caught. Yes, I know it sounds awful if you’ve never seen it but it’s really a very nuanced, funny and beautifully directed and performed study of the interior of female adolescence gone just terribly wrong. Lynskey’s pasty, miserable, dour portrayal played across from a young Kate Winslet’s hysterical, fantastical glamour is brilliant.

I saw nothing from Lynskey for years until one day last year I saw her appearance on a few episodes of “Two and a Half Men” which I never watch. But I wasn’t sure it was her because she had a flawless American accent. She was taller, slimmed down and on an American comedy. I was confused. Where had she been?

After hearing this interview it’s become obvious that she may not have believed she really deserved to be working as much as many of us wished she had been. Her self-esteem just seems so precarious and I guess it reminded me of what a lot of women in general struggle with in regards to what they feel they deserve, despite a significant amount of well deserved praise, acclaim and accomplishment.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say, what’s up with that, although I could hear the words in my head several times while listening to the interview. I know why. But it’s funny when you’re listening to a woman you admire, sharing very intimately, the nature of her struggle to see herself at all, let alone see herself the way the gaze of celebrity and fame do. In fact the latter would have greater potential to destroy by degrees without the other.

One of Lynskeys greatest triumphs was just to see herself and her body through her own eyes and to enjoy food! I can relate to that struggle. I can also relate to the fact that there’s really no point at which as women we’re not always working through it, and that accepting that is okay as long as we’ve made the decision that self-hate in it’s various forms does not work for anyone.

There were also discussions between Marc and Melanie about the roles in which both their mothers informed their body and food shame issues which were of course integral to breaking this cycle without making them feel guilty or like they were throwing their mothers under a bus. I know from experience how important this is. As someone who was raised vegan, I have only recently come to understand that in a deceptively indirect way the message that slimness and skinniness is healthy, is also the message that the opposite of that is bad, is automatically equated with shame, unattractiveness, lack of value and beauty. It’s a message I received in my life in formative stages and a way that I looked at the world without being conscious of it for a long time.

Lynskey, in expressing her revelations about seeing herself also said that she likes the differences in the way people’s’ bodies look and immediately cops to freaking out when she watches Awards shows and seeing how skinny everyone looks, feeling like maybe she should look that way as well. Naturally! I would imagine that any woman in the industry who doesn’t look like a stick is always doing the comparison game when looking at red carpet shows. We all do it. But I too have always loved differences and the uniqueness and distinction that people bring to the table by embracing not who they feel they should be or how they should look but who they were born to be. Like so much we know intellectually, that is so much easier said than done, I know, but ultimately, there is beauty in the struggle towards it. At least I think there is.