Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Self-care Journey

For my wellness class, we had to establish a clear goal based on our "lifestyle wheel," I found that I lacked in family, spiritual, and emotional areas, but I severely lacked in my "self-care" area. Ironic, as my entire life is based on providing this essential to others.

I thought that if I focused on this area the other areas of my life would grow as well.

My 21 day goal was to take part in an hour of self-care ritual each day. Not only has this goal been great at enhancing my journey, but it has also been good at making me realize the little self-care rituals I participate in, making me more aware of the gifts I receive each day.

Day 1- I received a 90 minute lymph drainage session, much needed and cleared the clog on my head that has been causing ice-pick headaches.

Day 2- I floundered at this a bit, I was tired, so my self-care activity revolved around lounging with my family and enjoying a movie night and take-out, though I'm a proponent for organic nourishing foods, we all need to indulge our taste buds once and awhile.

Day 3- I got to stimulate my creative juices and assembled salt scrubs (30), bath bombs (80), and gift baskets for my friends bridal shower. Many may think this is work, but the husband entertained our son so I got uninterrupted time to be creative. Something I don't get much of.

Day 4- I went to my support group for people who have family members suffering from addiction. This group has been instrumental in delving deep into my root problems that contribute to disruption of my peace of mind. What made it all the more enjoyable was my husband taking our son, I don't get to enjoy the group without him running around and causing disruption so it was nice! I also deleted all the games off my phone, I realized I spend a lot of time playing games when I could be nourishing myself and doing things that require my attention. My goal is to replace these short bursts with solid self-care time.

Day 5- I spent cuddle time with my son in the morning, we giggled and tickled and enjoyed the wee pre sun rise activities of mom and son bonding. I don't get much time with just him and I without stress of the "to-do" list looming. I just got to enjoy us.

Day 6- I was able to do an hour of yoga, I had a toddler climbing all over me, but me-time is me-time regardless of who interferes.

Day 7- I tried desperately to take a nap before my swing shift, but didn't get to, my mind was racing with my to-do list and feeling guilty about it all. When I got to work I was able to move my last client of the day up two hours and leave an hour earlier than anticipated. This extra hour was an extra hour of seeing my son before he went to bed, which nourishes me.

Day 8- An hour massage, woohoo! I love my massages and since it's my birthday month I am getting one a week (and a two hour the day before my birthday). 

Day 9- I'm slacking, but managed to get about 45 min of yoga in today, me is not the priorit today.

Day 10-everything I did today revolved around service to others, I tried but couldn't get more than 10 minutes of meditation in.

Day 11- Made it to my support group and went out to eat with my son, much needed soul nourishing

Day 12- Went to counseling, focused on fears and dreams for the upcoming future, was a good session!

Day 13- Took a 90 minute nap with my son, live Cuddling the lil bear!

Day 14- low clients today so got out 4 hours earlier than expected, spent the time cleaning, which puts my mind at ease, self care is a good environment!

Day 15- got to hang out with the family for a few hours enjoying food and outdoor time

Day 16- 2 Hour Massage and game night with my friends, much needed!!

Day 17- Trip to blackhawk for my birthday with my husband.

Day 18- Trip to blackhawk then a lazy recoup day...lots of sleeping!

Day 19- Went to lunch with my son

Day 20- 5 minutes of zen for me, not much time to do anything else

Day 21- Grandma took me out for my birthday breakfast, plus 30 min yoga in between clients!


What I noticed on this journey....

Overall, my mood improved, I became generally happier and kinder to people I interacted with. I deleted games on the phone and swapped it for time cherishing me. My body feels happier than it has in a long time and I notice a beat on my step. I feel more grateful for everything I have and have taken note of the small activities that I can call self-cate because they nourish my soul. I think I have grown closer to my son and husband and I have enjoyed going to work more. I got sick on day 17, and I'm thinking this is a sign that my body has been overworked and overstressed. I feel happy about maintaining this relationship with myself and making me time more of a priority!

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!

THANKS A MILLION!!!!

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

Bodybuilders:
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
Dehydration
Depression
Insomnia
Weakness and fatigue
Poor medical care
Uneducated on the condition
Low exercise
High caffeine
Self-diagnosis 

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.


FLAT FEET
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

HIGH ARCHES

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.


CLUTCHED TOES

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

TIP TOES

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