Thursday, July 20, 2017

July's Message: Artichokes

My fingers dance along the patches of skin that collide to form your costume, your shell.
The most beautiful parts of you are inescapably hidden beneath a thorny warning-
Prickly prefaces that tell a story of a past that caused you to grow so far from your roots,
You lost all sight of your heart that everyone cherishes so dearly,
Even I, who is you just as you, that person in the mirror, is me,
Had a hard time to get past that capsule that held you helplessly,
Lavishing as the victim underneath.
I had to peel you layer by layer, not like an onion, that is simple to reach the center,
No, you were better guarded than a tightly woven artichoke-
Casted around a heart of gold.
That heart failed to glimmer like the one that stood before.
The skin had grown around you too far for anyone to know.
Now with unreserved release you seem to be coming unglued,
Sifting through the thorns and leaves, you've come to parody,
Some of the hardest spots are gone but you're not sure how much is quite left,
Peeling incessantly to un-choke your heart.

So honored to have such great clients that trust me with their bodies each day! Thank you!

Yours in touch,
Lizzie Johnson, LMT

Monday, February 6, 2017

February's Message: Touch as a Way to Thrive

Here we are, the month of love. Perhaps you dislike the hallmarky, candy obsessed holiday, or perhaps you see this as a reminder to share the love. Whether your single or on your 50th year to the beau who stole your heart years ago you better listen up, because touch=love.

It wasn't long into my massage experience that pain relief brought me a new sense of freedom and deep admiration for the therapist that got me there! Going into my massage education I still didn't understand the remarkable transformation occurring from 4+ hours of massage a week.

But...I saw it impacting my life!

The migraines were gone,  my body image began to morph,  my idea of beauty became a hand skilfully gliding through muscles,  the tender parts of my body released, and tears at the drop of a hat came out. Everything that 24 years on this earth had stored seemed to just open up in cathartic release.

When you receive positive touch you release oxytocin. Oxytocin is the chemical of love and bonding. 95% of this wonder drug is produced by the cells lining the intestinal wall, probably why you feel those butterflies when you hold someone's hand or cradle your belly when your sad.

Oxytocin is called the mother hormone because it's what helps bond us to our babies, stimulate milk production, help a baby thrive.

It doesn't stop post birth, oxytocin helps us all to thrive!  What is the difference between living and thriving? Living is me going into work, doing my job, and going home. Thriving is me going into work, feeling blessed to have clients, excited to help others, celebrating your successes with you,  and going home with an exuberance see my family.

Thriving is the color in the canvas of life.

Without touch infants actually die, it is as necessary to life as food and water! Without touch adults become prone to depression, anxiety, anger, ptsd, and stress.

The old form of western medicine was to not touch the dying.  Before cancer and AIDS and a host of other terminal diseases became more well known, it was common practice to wrap yourself up on masks and gloves, a visual reminder of, "I don't want to touch you." Loved ones were not allowed to the bedside of their ailing family and even the act of giving birth was a detached process (maybe I'll rant about this in a future blog).

Much of this has changed, doctors and nurses are now encouraged to touch the dying and sick. Massage and Healing Touch is now brought into hospitals and institutions at exciting rates. Nurses are in line to receive holistic education and the general concensus is touch is better!

You don't need four hours of massage a week to experience the joy of touch, some great actions you can take:

-Hug someone for 20+ seconds a day
-Practice skin to skin contact with your baby (even if they're 3 mos old this has an impact)
-Hold someone's hand
-Cuddle- your spouse, your kids, your BFF
-Sit on someone's lap or have them sit on yours
-Receive massage regularly, especially during high stress times
-Give someone else a massage
-Volunteer at a nursing home and extend hugs and warm shoulders to the patients
-Rub your belly every night (next time your in ask me how to do this)
-Massage yourself during your yoga practice
-Rub your dogs belly
-Let your cat sit on your chest
-Shake someone's hand for an extended period of time (bonus- look them in the eye while you do this)
-Touch someone's arm or back when you talk to them

Be a pioneer for positive touch!

Yours in touch,

Lizzie Johnson, LMT

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December's Message: Laughter in the Tears

I recently heard someone say something along the lines of, "laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." Mine too, I thought.

It's that feeling of release, the clouds clearing, the sweet chaos of joy sweeping everything clean. It's the gift to keep going and learn to experience life with loss, thrive in absence.

I like to think that my practice is a place with hallow walls,  safety and security to relieve and release. That I am a cemetery groundskeeper for you to lay to rest things that are no longer serving you. That as you undress you get to take off all the masks that are plaguing you. Hopefully you feel this way too! 

You have come to me with your losses and wins. I have seen you carry a baby, get promoted, move, start relationships, and end. I have seen you take daily struggles to walk up the stairs and dance happily on your wedding day. I have seen the struggles of your children and know the joy they bring you. I hear your words of truth resonate through quiet tears and tired muscles. I have felt the toll a death has brought to your body, I have heard your laughter amidst those tears.

I am enamored by your ability to keep going!

In theory, I leave you the moment you step foot out of my office, but in application there is still a piece of you that I carry with me, always. We're taught to master the art of grounding. To protect ourselves from taking on too much of a client. I have gotten good at diving in and out of your tissues, but your story- your life legacy- the body, continues to thrive somewhere within me. As soon as my hands meet your flesh once again I am captivated by the tale of you. My hands recall your muscle memory, what stories your body tells. 

The winter season marks inward reflection,  quiet serenity,  and death. I know this season has not been easy on you.  I know sometimes you barrel through my doors seeking an hour all of your own. I know your plate has been full of errands and to do's. That your life takes so much to manage right now there may not be a lot of room to relax. I know the holidays bring up a lot of feelings.

Perhaps, you thought these damn emotions were laid to rest with the last self-improvement book you read or self-discovery workshop you attended. The smallest smells, experiences, weather- can provoke the most unraveling memory about someone you loved and lost. The holidays are typically a joyful time of celebration, but I have found in the joy you find the root of your pain and vice versa. 

This season may be self-destructing for you, you may experience a loss that devastates you, or be confronted with one that you thought was put to rest. I want you to know the importance of self-care and how liberating relieving trauma psycho-somatically can be. I want you to know that you too can view my walls as sacred, as a place to escape or confront, as a place to release and let go. I hope you all take the time this season to find your flame, to implode/explode, to find laughter in the tears.

I am in the process of updating my website to provide resources to my clients that I find valuable, I hope you enjoy these tools and they help you along your journey. Don't forget that current clients have a $25 credit on their file to use before the end of the year! Thank you for a great year of connecting through touch!

Yours in touch,

Lizzie Johnson

Monday, October 24, 2016

November's Message: Ultimate Gratitude

Wow! As we near the end of the year we get ready to close the chapter of 2016, the first full year of full-time operation for The Holistic Hummingbird, LLC and the first year in our new location in Littleton.

I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the growth I've witnessed not only to my business,  but to my clients and their quality of life.  2016 has been quite the year of action!

This year The Holistic Hummingbird, LLC was nominated Littleton's Best Massage by and ranked #1 Local Massage Business by Massagebook. Beginning in October we also ranked #1 Local Massage Therapist.

This is enough to move me to tears, yet you continue to surprise me!

  • 17% of my new clients were from referrals
  • We made a 200% increase in income from 2015
  • 22% of new clients were from public boards and reviews
  • I was able to obtain 24 hours of continuing education credits (no requirement for Colorado)
  • I've been able to expand my services and have found a niche in the pregnancy and chronic pain market
  • We've been able to add a part-time administrator to our staff and gear up to higher a massage therapist next year

You've chosen me as your therapist to ease complications of chronic conditions
You've inspired me to continue this journey in bodywork and holistic care.

THANK YOU! Thank you for welcoming me into your lives, into your bodies, and into your network of friends and family members!

As a thanks to all you wonderful people, for helping me cultivate a massage business that is picking up steam, I will be giving each client $25 credit to use from now until the end of 2016. You may use this on any services- on packages, discount cards, and drop-in rates.

I can't wait to see where this journey takes us!


Yours in touch,
Lizzie Johnson, LMT

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October's Message: Creating a Life Path with Pain

It's five in the morning, you hit the snooze, but as you go to do it you feel the zing stretch from your hand to your head. "Must've slept wrong," what most of us think.  Rarely this is the case. Often times we've adjusted our life to accommodate pain. Without knowing it we have taken the first step in creating a life path for pain. I'm not going to vilify this approach. I've been there. Instead, I'm going to introduce how to create a life path with pain. 

The first symptoms of underlying issues go, often times, unnoticed. Pain is one of these frequent first symptoms. We get a kink that clears up in a couple of days or believe we have a pinched nerve, some of us have even been through the cycles of specialists and pharmaceuticals only to be convinced that we have the broad spectrum pathology of neuropathy or some incurable benign condition.

As relieving as it is to hear the news that, "no you're not dying," there is an overwhelming frustration to have your pain dismissed with a pat on the back and a prescription.

I may be a hopeless optimist, but I believe that no pain or pathology is unmanageable. I've spent many years experiencing the burden of pain and many more watching those I love suffer. A great affliction and yet an intricate inspiration in my career in holistic arts. 

Wherever you are, with your own dis-ease and life path you need to find a place to start- to start to unravel the mystery of your body. The body safe-guards by adjusting around pain, so you need to start somewhere to go back through the hoops the body has created. 

In my own case, I needed every medical door to slam in my face before I even looked past the possibility of an outside issue and looked internally.

First place I started- massage therapy, my first love in holistic care. I had a therapist that was great at educating me and empowering me with tools to enhance my life. This is imperative! I strive to do the same for my clients, educate them on what is occurring and giving tools to alter your life. 

We are all on different journeys and I know post massage this is a huge undertaking! I attempt to cater everyone's homework to match where I believe would be an easy place for you to start. The point is not where you start, it is that you start.

For people who are stuck in the office 50 hours a week I give homework that can be done at the desk like:
Stretching at your desk
Increase your water intake
Taking healthier lunches
Self-massaging in the car

People who are on the go and don't get time to work out:
Shifting weight to back of the heels
Doing weights while you're at your desk or watching TV
Committing to 15 minute work outs
Stretching in bed

People with chronic conditions (like fibromyalgia, PTSD, lupus, psoriasis, RA, and depression)
Changing your environment to be less cluttered, full of light,  and getting fresh air
Working with a mental health specialist (these are illnesses treated best by reducing stress, having someone to troubleshoot stress with is great)
Gentle exercises and stretches

Stretching the muscles in between workouts
Incorporating a highly nutritional diet
Taking time to rest and getting regular massage
Staying hydrated

Yoga Enthusiasts:
Balancing stretching poses with strengthening
Getting aerobic exercise or a hatha yoga regimen 
Grounding poses

Massage can take you a lot of places and if it is your primary vehicle on your journey it is important to understand that homework is the gas,  you only get so far before needing to put effort into it. This is the same for whatever path you choose.  While I love my clients and enjoy experiencing life with them,  self-care is what seperates succumbing to dis-ease and conquering it.

To create your life path with pain begin with the main goal in mind,  use an attainable goal that doesn't seem too lofty.

Next, list all the steps that took you to the point you're trying to escape, ie:

GOAL: Get rid of migraines and left side pain
Poor nutrition 
Poor body mechanics
Weakness and fatigue
Poor medical care
Uneducated on the condition
Low exercise
High caffeine

Set an ultimate goal for the end of the month to achieve based on the smallest item on your list.

This may not be "cut caffeine out completely" it may be "reduce caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day

Then, set a month full of goals around this:

Week 1- Drink one less caffeinated beverage per day
Week 2- Cut back...and so forth. 

Do the same thing for everything on your list, each should be attainable in 1-3 months.  Focus on one thing at a time, something like reducing caffeine intake will also benefit a nutritional lifestyle as caffeine both depletes the nutrients in your body and can be loaded with sugar or better sleep, so when you're ready to move on to your next goal your previous goals will have helped to reach this point. 

Freedom from pain may seem enormous, perhaps unfathomable. I can't promise relief, but creating a life focused on good self-care and eliminating outside stressors will at the very least improve quality of life and prognosis. Every case and body is different, don't punish yourself for inability to achieve what your friend is able to achieve.

Ask me for thoughts on your particular situation. I wish you all the very best in your health!

Yours in touch,

Lizzie Johnson, LMT 

Friday, September 9, 2016

September's Message: Fancy Foundations

Have you ever noticed your state of mind being embodied in yourself? If you're go, go, go the head hunches forward,  you begin to "look ahead" to your next thing to do.  If you're dreading something your pace slows and you're catching yourself dawdling from task to task.

The more I work on the amazing body the more I'm captivated by what the mind is saying as translated in stance and posture. While the whole body takes on specific expressions, it is the feet that I have taken particular interest in lately.

I believe the feet are the platform to your life, the foundation of your physical essence, an indication on how someone is moving through their life..  I have asked many a client to walk for me and often times take note in the feet if I notice certain expressions in other key areas of the body. When assessing this I look to the interactive dance- the interpretation the body expresses on a whole in relation to the feet and use it as the guiding force to form my hypothesis on what life changes can be made to enhance someone's well-being.

State of Mind: Ungrounded, fluid movements, go-go, figidty (can't sit still to save their life), "open book," no roots

Correlating Dysfunction: Weak medial leg muscles, hypertonic lateral leg muscles, hypertonic posterior leg muscles, weak ankles, prone to Achilles injuries, "duck walking,"  popping and creaks in the knee,  hypertonic hip flexers, anterior tilt of pelvis, sway back, weak and stretched psoas, hypertonic QL, weight gathering above hips, hypertonic lateral thoracic body (teres, serratus, obliques) hypertonic pects, weak rhomboids, TP ridden levators, hypertonic traps, limited ROM in neck muscles (usually from stationary position of jaw jutting forward and neck creasing back at C1 and C2), clenching and grinding of teeth,  migraine headaches,  tension headaches,  overexaggerated curve in cervical spine.

How to Correct:
1. Strengthen anterior and medial leg muscles
2. Stretch lateral  and posterior leg muscles
3. Point feet slightly inward when walking
4. Walk with weight shifted slightly to heels and as though you had an arch (off the medial aspect of your foot like there is a bubble there)
5. Roll out tight lateral leg muscles
6. Roll out hip flexers (I give away balls for this, ask me next time your in for one)
7. Strengthen Psoas
8. Correct posture from the spine as a whole body- don't correct in segments (ie: pulling your shoulders back,  correct by shifting all weight to posterior)
9. Roll out your arches
10. Find practices that ground you- yoga,  tai chi, creating a "home," walk barefoot outside,  get a pet to take care of, commit to a long-term project


State of mind: Over controlled, withholding emotions, passive aggressive behavior, collecting or hoarding, walking on eggshells

Correlating Dysfunction: hypertonic medial muscles, pigeon toed, weak lateral muscles, hypertonic posterior leg muscles, pain above knee, shin splints, Charlie horses on arch, stiff legs, restless leg syndrome, hypertonic psoas, posterior tilt of pelvis, weight gathers on glutes, sciatic pain, elevated shoulders, limited ROM in neck, "football stance," shrinking spine (constant state of shrug), widespread pain from over-exerted muscles, clenching jaw

How to Correct:
1. Walk with full contact in step, being thorough from toe to heel in contact with the ground, slow your feet down.
2. Point your toes slightly out
3. Stretch medial, posterior and anterior leg
4. Strengthen lateral leg
5. Massage feet on regular basis
6. Work on hip openers like camel
7. Stretch the psoas
8. Focus on relaxing the shoulders
9. Bring head aligned with spine
10. Work on expressing feelings in an intentional way
11. Meditate multiple times throughout the day
12. Let go of control- start with small steps- how the toilet paper is put on the spindle,  what you're going to make for dinner in two weeks
13. Clear your home from unnecessary clutter- do I need it?  Will I use it?  Does it have sentimental value?
**with items of sentiment think of what they evoke- I recently parted ways with a trinket that I had for years, but realized the person who gave it to me gave it to me because they broke something of mine and I no longer speak to that person- the sentiment was negative and cluttering up positive space.


State of Mind: uneasy,  restless, fearful,  anxious,  withholding

Correlating Dysfunction: Hammer toes, pain in balls of feet, weight shift to balls of feet, unstable, locked knees, hypertonic lateral leg muscles, hypertonic posterior leg muscles, weight gathers above knees,  hypertonic glutes, pain in low back,  anterior tilt of pelvis,  weak pubic muscles,  hypertonic back muscles, burning in shoulders, head up posture, jaw shifted posterior, headaches focused from base of jaw through back of mid back

How to Correct:
1. Wear shoes that allow toes to stretch open- no more heels
2. Stretch toes open on regular basis, walk with toes off the ground
3. Roll out balls of feet
4. Shift weight to heels
5. Stretch posterior muscles
6. Soften knees
7. Strengthen abdominal muscles
8. Strengthen pect muscles
9. Position head above spine, stretch neck down
10. Meditation for anxiety
11. Write down all of your fears everyday- the simple act of awareness can make them less important
12. Breath work
13. Incorporate objects that comfort you in your environment


State of Mind: Light,  in the clouds, go-go, looking forward, stuck in the future, daydreaming,  creativity

Correlating Dysfunction: Weak anterior leg muscles, hypertonic posterior leg muscles, plantar fasciitis, Charlie horses in calves,  stiff calves, pain above knees, weak ankles, imbalance, weight shift to front of body,  weak hip flexers, over extended shoulders, head up posture, weight gathers upper back,  hypertonic occipital muscles, headaches prone to sides of neck, jaw and head, pain on top of head

How to Correct:
1. Lift toes when walking
2. Strengthen anterior leg muscles
3. Stretch posterior leg muscles
4. Shift weight to heels
5. Focus on consciously relaxing posterior muscles
6. Forward bends 
7. Strengthen core muscles
8. Bring head to above neck
9. Work on grounding activities
10. Center yourself in the present,  focus on here not the future

The first important step in...steps,  is bringing awareness to your movement.  Hopefully something caught your attention and helps as you progress through your life.  When you bring your attention to a behavior it becomes immensely easier to follow the path of correcting.  Be patient and kind to yourself as you learn more. 

Yours in touch, 
Lizzie Johnson, LMT 

Monday, February 1, 2016

February's Message: Rekindling the Relationship With Ourselves

You've heard it before,  self-care,  self-awareness,  find you before you find the one,  better yourself,  chase your dreams... fortunately,  and I believe equally unfortunate, we have a world filled with self-empowerment slogans,  techniques,  and encouragements. On the surface this is great,  we should be committing ourselves to ourselves first and foremost.  As you dig deeper this is easier said than done.  Most of us have a hard time balancing relationships, work, kids, pets, hobbies and self-care.  We tend to fall into the two ends of the spectrum: those that give endlessly and those that take needlessly. We usually tip the scale to the extremes dipping into each end of the spectrum without ever truly finding balance in the day to day life. 

I wanted to give some quick tools to help you cope as they have been valuable tools in my own day to day balance of the scales:
  1. Practice Daily Meditation
    • Set aside time each day to meditate, I shoot for (2) ten minute sessions a day, if I get more it's a bonus. Often times I take this in the morning when everyone is still asleep and just after I get off work. Sometimes I find myself sitting in my car or at my desk, but the key is finding a place that is quiet and you won't fall asleep with. Don't try to silence your mind, but instead embrace, recognize, and release things that come to you. Don't fixate on any one thing and try to get up to 90 min a day of meditation (though its a luxury).
  2. Create a Bedtime Ritual
    • I find sometimes the only consistency and time for myself is late at night. This is the time that I use to give myself some deep self-care. I wash my face, brush my teeth, then proceed to self massage. Always giving my feet and abdomen special attention. I utilize this time to think of how good my body is (versus any of the negative thoughts that cloud my judgement regularly). I rub my stretch-mark tummy and admire that this was my babies home for a time being, I rub my aching feet and think- these puppies do me well, as I wash and moisturize my face I count lines tatted on my face from times of laughter.
  3. Use Food to Nourish, Not Comfort
    • I believe that food should nourish first and seldom comfort. Times when it should comfort are when you're sick. Using food to constantly gratify can become an unhealthy addiction. I try to make everything with intention and submerge myself into the cooking process. The microwave is seldom used in my home, eating out is a special treat, each meal consists of carbs-proteins-fats and I aim for more organic and high vitamin foods. This is expensive, but so is heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and dentists. In the end my corner cutting (making things from scratch, buying in bulk, using a vacuum sealer...) is fairly cost-efficient and I know that my family is being sustained off of wholesome home-cooked meals.
  4. Get Regular Bodywork
    • Pain is expensive! Doctors, specialists, missed work, missed life. Regular bodywork is a simple me thing that if continued on a regular basis can help reduce the occurrence of needing to go to the doctors. I know that a big set-back for clients is the cost of a massage and the guilt that goes with it. Consider the costs of ignoring your body. I recommend at least a monthly maintenance massage (more if you can swing it) and 60-90 min. sessions to address more serious issues (recommended to be spaced 5-7 days a part).
  5. Participate in Daily Mental Stimulation
    • Keeping your mind active helps positive emotional and mental well-being. If you engage in activities that are mentally stimulating (especially new tasks) you actually rewire your brain and form new neural connections. Which is especially valuable as you age.
  6. Unplug for One Day of the Week
    • This one is hard! But trying to unplug (phone, e-mail, tv, computer) one day a week helps you reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Many research has shown links between obesity, mental illness, and chronic disease. The more you sit sedentary on your smart phones watching TV the less time you spend outside (vitamin D), eating consciously, interacting with people (like in real life), rewiring your brain (for insomnia, stress, and chronic fatigue) and participating in physical activity. One day gives you time to recharge and do something new.
  7. Exercise
    • If this is complicated by chronic disease the first step is to talk to your doctor about a regimen that is safe for you. Most people are able to participate in some form of physical exercise. Yoga, swimming, walking, and Tai Chi are great low impact activities to ask about! Working with one on one coaches is extremely helpful in maneuvering around first time aches and pains.
  8. Integrate Yourself into A Regular Outing
    • I have regular outings that I go on. Once a month lunches, networking meetings, play dates, dates, and family days. Sometimes it's as easy as my husband and I committing to a night of reading a book together and talking about it or taking my son and dog to the dog park. This isn't always a big to do, but I make sure that I get out, form some connections and have some fun.
  9. Say Yes
    • I added number eight, because so frequently I find myself dreading leaving the house, but very rarely regret when we are done. Saying yes to things that make you joyful and not feeling guilty about spending an extra $10 or not doing laundry is needed!
  10. Say No
    • In a massage class that I took one of our tools we learned and practiced was to say no. We worked with partners regularly asking them to remove their hands and then to continue the massage. It taught us both to not take things personally and to find our voice. This can be applied to life as saying NO is OKAY! Too often I have clients who have bottled up so much that I believe it is manifesting in physical pain and dis-ease. We all struggle with some form of being a push-over. I have been making some great strides in my personal life and the most important thing I have to remember is- it's not personal. 
I hope at least some of these are tools that can be helpful to you in your life. 

Until we meet again,

Lizzie Johnson