Category: Relaxation


The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the New Site.

One of the benefits of being in the spa industry is that I deal with people everyday, who need to learn to relax – and I’m paid to help them do it.

But this means, I too need to be relaxed – after all, the teacher cannot teach what they themselves haven’t learned.

Lately I’ve been involved in a series of interactions which have caused some personal emotional stress. And it has me wondering – when people are angry, critical, or are just plain sharing their feelings, how do I process the information/interaction in a healthy way?

How do I Tame My Gremlins?

Of course, each situation is so different that there isn’t necessarily one surefire way of handling everything, so here are some ideas that help me cope and navigate my way through uncomfortable relational situations:

  • Be fully present in each situation – Breathe, slow down, and let myself feel whatever comes up.
  • Do more listening and less talking – While listening, let the other know they are heard and check in to be sure they feel understood.
  • Ask for permission to share how I feel – Not everyone is receptive to listening, and sharing when the other isn’t, can leave you in a worse place.
  • Be more curious than furious – Questions are helpful when communication stalls or becomes tense.
  • Be “in choice” rather than reactive  – If I start to feel uncomfortable in my body, it is a clue I need to listen – maybe the conversation needs to be rescheduled to a time when we’ve had a chance to calm down.
  • Don’t take it personally – Realize that each person has a very unique frame of reference/history that I have simply stumbled into with my words or actions. I’m not bad, it’s not all my fault, or all about me.
  • Be accountable – If you do or say something you regret later, or if the situation was unfinished, re-visit it if the other party is receptive at an appropriate time.
  • Check your heart – Intention is so important; I need to ask myself what will be the response that honors me as well as the other person.
  • Take care of yourself – If the situation doesn’t resolve well, or is drawn out over time, I can “ramp up” my self care. This is where a visit to the spa comes in!
  • Press on! – There is a verse in the Bible in the book of Philippians which guides me – it talks about pressing on toward the goal for the prize. What’s your prize, your high calling – happiness, joy, peace, harmony?

See you at the new spa!

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The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

I started my dream business, Star Brows, in Arroyo Grande California four years ago, specializing in a unique “brow graphing” technique, which I developed at my Minnesota spa. Due to the success and popularity of that technique, I needed to expand, and now have a new home! Everything you know and love about Star Brows will stay the same, but better – I hope you’ll agree!

On April 15th I moved my eyebrow couture, skincare, massage, and body waxing spa to 1065 West Grand Avenue to Grover Beach (Shangri-La!) and have created a luxurious spa setting that I know you will love.

Originally, I really wanted to stay in AG, but then I found this amazing space with great exposure and plenty of room to grow. It’s across from Miners in Grover Beach. This location really fits my “brand.” You will truly feel like the star you are when you’re there. I wanted to create a more spa-like atmosphere so you could enjoy the full array of Star Brows services.

I’ve added two private treatment rooms with sound-proof walls and solid core doors :), a casual and open feeling makeup and waxing lounge, and an serene waiting area – and we’re closer to the beach! Who could ask for more? I’ll be posting pictures soon.

But, like any dream, there have been (and are) hurdles to overcome. In the end, though, it’s all worth it. I hope this encourages you to follow your dreams too. Turning dreams into reality takes guts, a lot of hard work, optimism, help from those who support you (thank you all!), and a generous pinch of the miraculous!

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am poised to help you celebrate. Hmmm, what would you really like? I come from a background of providing fabulous spa experiences, and now that I have the space and the environment for it, I’d like treat you.

Here is a sneak peek of a spa experience created to celebrate mom’s day, or “just because” – at the new location – offered for a limited time:

Spa Facial and Massage Treatment

Arrive a couple of minutes early so you can get settled and relax for a few minutes in the quiet environment of the new spa, and plan on staying for about an hour and a half.

When you enter the treatment room you will feel the warm air provided by state-of-the-art radiant heat. You’ll smell calming essential oils and be enveloped by the soft candlelight.

As you climb under crisp, clean, warmed sheets your body’s curves will be cradled by special contoured cushions.

Detoxifying and de-stressing drops of essential oils will be applied along your spine (Raindrop Therapy), to coax your body into a state of bliss and calm, followed by a back massage given at just the right pressure for you. When the knots are eased, you turn over and the Star Massage begins with Tu’el’s Cleansing Oils and Herbalizers chosen for your skin type. Puffiness, sinus pressure, jaw tension and all signs of stress dissipate from your face, neck and should – mmm, who knew it could feel this good?

Now the facial begins with warmed towels, gentle steam, and special masks and scrubs designed to alleviate your skin’s concerns.

And don’t forget those hard working hands and feet. They will be meticulously worked out, every finger and every toe rubbed until they are eased. Your feet will be wrapped in warm towel-like booties and a little Craniosacral work will be done to balance your body’s rhythms.

Later, plan on relaxing and drinking plenty of water with slices of organic lemons to complete a perfect experience.

Who knew Star Brows was about more than eyebrow couture? Now’s your chance to see! Limited spaces are available for this special offer, so call now – 805-722-8222  – and mention the Mother’s Day Spa Special. It’s not on the menu and is specially priced at $99. It expires on May 12th, but you can get a Gift Certificate for the service and use it anytime!

See you at the new spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

The lovelies at Eva’s Esthetics offered a special yesterday on their creams, so I thought I would “pay it forward.” Here is an educational video about the creams offered, from Tu’el’s President Lori Nestore.

The Product Feature this month will help get your skin ready for summer! There are four creams for four different skin types in the Tu’el line: Vitamin, Chamomile, Lipo-Gen, and Regeneration.

Vitamin Cream– a protective cream with Vitamins E, A, and B to lubricate and seal in moisture for dry skin

Chamomile Cream – a soothing, healing, day and night cream for dry, product-reactive skin

Lipo-Gen – a revitalizing lotion with a deep liposome delivery system to help calm and heal combination, oily, or impure skin

Regeneration Cream– a rich concentrated cream with antioxidants and vitamins to rejuvenate mature and/or sun damaged skin

Many skin care products you find on the market today contain chemicals that can be harmful to your skin. Alcohols, dioxane, parabens, mineral oils, phenol (carbolic acid), and artificial fragrance are very commonly used in today’s skin care products. Experts warn against long-term exposure to these chemicals as it could lead to health problems. Our government doesn’t regulate the use of these chemicals either. Check out www.safecosmetics.org for more information.

Wrinkles and dehydration may appear at any age, which is why  caring for your skin needs to start early. There are different ways to help prevent the appearance of wrinkles, but first you need to know what caused them to appear so you can effect a lasting change. Some possible triggers are overexposure to the sun, stress, depression, poor diet, smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, and poor skin care regimen.

One of my favorite ways to treat my skin is facial massage. That’s why I developed my award-winning service, Star Massage. And, in Facial Treatments like the Spa Facial, you not only get head, neck, shoulder, and face massage, but your hands, arms, feet, and legs as well!

But, you can do facial massage at home too. Massage improves blood and oxygen circulation, which prevents the clogging of pores. It also relieves stress and tension within that contribute to the appearance of wrinkles.

Massaging the face with the appropriate face cream for your skin type will tighten the skin’s tissues, improving elasticity, building collagen, and relaxing the muscles of the face. What’s great about facial massage is that as it exfoliates it allows moisturizers, essential oils, and serums to penetrate more easily.

Start massaging the face from the neck upward and end at the forehead or temples to improve blood circulation through the veins, tissues, and lymph vessels of the face. Begin slowly, using little circles, and vary speed and pressure as you work, stopping to focus on pressure points and making up massage techniques as you go that feel good to you.

Facial massage offers many benefits in addition to preventing wrinkles. Try it now and see how it works on your skin. It will give you a glowing complexion.

If you’re new to Star Brows, you may not know about The Product Feature or Rewards yet. To put it simply, 10% of all your product purchases, all the time, go toward free Service Enhancements, like Raindrop Therapy, Lash Tint, Chemical Peels, or Star Massage.

When a product is the Monthly Feature, however, you’ll get 20% back in Rewards! This month’s Product Features, Chamomile and Vitamin Creams, are $41, so that’s $8 in Rewards. Lip0-Gen and Regeneration Creams are $63, and that means $12 toward a Service Enhancement.

See you at the spa!

The Star Brows Blog  Has Moved Please Visit this Link for the Post on the New Site. 

I was going to write a post about Know-It-Alls, but found a post on another blog that said lots of what I wanted to say. Here is an excerpt from what Sue Rock calls Open Letter to Little Miss Know-It-All.

“It’s easy to look down on life from a high, I-got-it-all-figured-out horse; to judge others and pass out advice like you know everything (which of course, you clearly do). You’ve got it all figured out, right…If we’re really, really lucky, we find people along the way who are willing to help us find our own answers, instead of always trying to give us theirs.”

There are many reasons I ponder this subject about advice-giving and the attitude of pretending to know it all.

My calling in life is definitely about relationships, and home as well as work gives ample opportunity to hone my communication skills. I spend lots of time one-to-one with clients discussing life issues. I’m always studying, writing, and reading about effective communication. Right now my husband and I are reading Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt’s book: Getting the Love You Want. And, I have four adult children and a son-in-law who all provide ample opportunity to listen and learn.

I partially attribute my obsession with the workings of relationships to my dear mom for going back to school as a psychology student during my formative years. Actually, I think it may go back even further to the frustration of the demise of intimate relationships in my family of origin and my drive to “fix” those ties through helping others.

But instead of having all the answers, I have questions I’d like to ask:

  • What drives people to put on the façade that they know it all?

This question may strike at the heart of the issue. When I slip into this behavior, or observe other people doing it, I think, “Is this an over-compensation for feelings of inadequacy? Are they trying to solve their own problems by attempting to fix others?”

  • Do people really know how to listen?

It takes time and deliberate intention to really listen. If I respond before I am clear about the message sent, I am really just responding to my own thoughts, and this could spell trouble. This is where projection can happen.

  • If your prime directive in life is to solve your own problems, is listening to others even important?

What value do you place to being there for others, sacrificially, selflessly? I’ve found that in giving I receive.

  • Do you really have the answers for someone else? Have you walked in their shoes? Do you know all the nuances of their situation and history?

Questions, really smart ones, can help people discover their own answers. I believe change is only possible when people take ownership of their problems. You may be so caring and loving that by giving your opinions about their issues, you actually disable the very people you’re tying to help, preventing them from finding a solution by taking what’s theirs and making it yours.

  • And finally, have you ever really felt “heard”?

It can be frustrating to come from a place of not really feeling understood, validated, or empathized with. I’ve found that the business of growing up, healing, and knowing yourself is an arduous journey that is very personal. There is a time and a place to do this work, and there is also a time and place to just listen, question, and be with others in their journey.

Some people are listeners by nature and struggle instead with doing the personal work that is theirs. Somehow escaping into someone else’s problems seems easier for them than looking within.

Whichever camp or end of the spectrum you find yourself in most often, either being too introspective or too other-focused and living in a state of denial about your own issues, the simple question to be ever mindful of remains the same:

What is mine and what is not?

See you at the spa!

PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

In Straighten Up!, Part 1 of Beauty On The Cheap we talked about posture and how standing and sitting up straight strengthens and beautifies.

In this post let’s talk about how smiling and laughing makes us more beautiful inside and out.

Growing up, I heard the words, “Put a smile on your face” often. Who can (or wants to) smile on command? So, when we talk about smiling in this piece, it’s not to conform to or please anyone else.  Yes, a smile looks beautiful to others, but wearing one cheers you up too!

In the beginning, you may have to practice if you’re not used to smiling much, just like getting into the habit of standing up straight. Tyra Banks coined a term called smizing: smiling with your eyes. At the same time you are smiling you need to recall a happy memory, or imagine a beautiful place – while doing so, your thoughts will actually illuminate your eyes.

Speaking of smiling and being happy, how about laughter? I have a funny story:

One time years ago, I was asked to do massage for “Wild Women’s Weekend”. I packed up my massage table and headed to a beautiful island in Minnesota for the weekend. What I encountered was a group of women engaging in riotous laughter the whole weekend from pretty much everyone – except me. I remember thinking; “I want that!”. The sad part is, I realized I didn’t laugh much – at least not so anyone could hear. My laughing muscle was emaciated  from all the years of disuse. Through Simply Noticing and not judging myself harshly, I began to cultivate a vision of becoming a laugher.

So when I got home I decided to begin “practicing” laughter. My family mocked and jeered me at first because my laughter was contrived – it was funny! But after spending a few weeks on choosing to laugh, it began to feel comfortable.

Am I perceived as a funny person today? Probably not, but I can laugh now – and I value joy above all because I know that when I am joyful I am fully present, thankful, breathing and living life to the fullest.

In order to really produce a beautiful and abiding smile, it needs to come from within. Sure, you can turn it on for an acquaintance or the camera – but that is momentary and looks superficial. What I’m talking about is a perpetual glow of peace, joy and contentment on your face that attracts others and makes you more beautiful.

So we must go deeper. Does a house look clean if you just tidy up and dust a few items? No, but if you deep clean with, as mom would say, “warm soapy water” you can feel the clean – it radiates because it is really clean through and through.

I guess what I’m talking about is “soul cleaning”. Take this little quiz and see what may be dulling your countenance and suppressing your smile. Give yourself 1 point for each yes answer:

  • Do you regularly let-go and forgive others when they offend you?
  • Have you wrestled with childhood issues that need clearing?
  • Do you make an effort not to gossip or hold grudges?
  • Do you keep jealousy and comparing yourself to others in check?
  • Do you consistently live according to your values?
  • Have you chosen friends that are good for you?
  • What about thankfulness? Are you thankful for something everyday?

How did you do? 7 is perfect, don’t worry if you’re not quite there – no one is!

And what about joy, happiness, passion and pleasure?

  • Do you have something you are really looking forward to in the next day or two, in the next week, month or year?
  • If there are relationships or situations in your life that are stressfully unresolved, are you taking action steps toward resolution?
  • Are there intimate friends in your life – and do you spend time nurturing these friendships?
  • Have you made your work part of your life, not just a job, and do you bring your best self to it?
  • Hugging others is one of the easiest ways to stay “in touch”. Do you have human touch in your life regularly, daily?
  • Do you have a “big picture” dream? Have you shared it with others?

Sometimes it’s good to reflect and take inventory. 6 is a perfect score, if there is an item or two that you had to really think about, you may want to jot it down to ponder later.

How well do you care for yourself?

  • Do you sleep enough?
  • Drink enough water?
  • Eat healthy most of the time?
  • Exercise regularly?
  • What are your spiritual practices? Do you spend time in prayer and meditation to renew this aspect of your being daily?

5 is perfect – don’t be too hard on yourself. It has taken me 55 years to develop healthy lifestyle habits, and I still fall short – often!

How about bad self-care habits?

  • Do you abstain from smoking and drinking or at least keep these vices to the bare minimum?
  • Do you make a conscious effort not to spend time feeling guilt, shame or regret?
  • Do you know what’s good for you, and do it most of the time?

3 is great, but maybe we should be scoring one another so there is no bias. 😉 We all justify our habits and choices, I know I do – but be honest with yourself, that’s the most important thing.

So raise your hand if you got a 21! Now do 10 “Hail Marys”.

Did you know smiling and laughing required so much work? Well, it doesn’t really – it is actually a state of grace, but living your life so that smiling and laughter are a natural habit will require some “inner house cleaning”, and of course homes don’t stay clean, you need to develop a regular habit of maintenance.

Above all, don’t wait for your circumstances to change to be happy. Happiness is a choice.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” And remember: “Faut souffrir pour être belle.” “One must suffer to be beautiful.”

See you at the spa!

Part of my business  model at Star Brows is about helping people have healthy bodies and learn to relax.

Most of you know that in addition to pursuing beauty by shaping eyebrows, doing makeup, waxing and giving facials, I love working with the body by doing massage and teaching dance class.

I have been creating businesses around health and fitness for 35 years! What I bring to you today are 3 health and wellness tips that can change your life.

1.) Study your food cravings: What stops the rampage started the rampage in the first place.

You have a craving and are rummaging through the pantry looking for something to satisfy it. Take note. What satisfies that craving is what is causing the urge to satisfy it in the first place.

Think about the possibility that the particular food or substance you crave is, or contains something that your body is sensitive to.

This is obvious in the case of toxic substances like alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, sweets and empty carbs right? But healthy foods can be the culprit too. As an example: I crave fruit – all the time. I’m beginning to believe I have a sugar imbalance issue that I need to explore.

When you eat the substance you crave your body sends out histamines and endorphins to counteract the sensitive reaction. This gives you a natural “high.” But after that high comes a crash and your body will crave what caused the high. Pay attention to what that could be. What are the ingredients? You may even want to write them down.

Next time you have a familiar craving, notice what the ingredients have in common? Avoid them and see if the craving ends. If you control the use of that “substance” in your diet, you will feel better.

2.) Sleep. You know you need it, how much? That’s up to each individual.  I like 9 hours at night and 20 minutes during the day (on the floor, not the bed).

Did you know that light inhibits the production of melatonin ( a sleep hormone)? Computer and television screens count as light. 😉 Have a period of time before you try to fall asleep of quiet darkness. Prayer and meditation is a sure-fire way for me to fall asleep!

3.) De-stressing is the most important thing you can do for your health.

When you are under stress, your body doesn’t know the difference between: you can’t make the deadline or you are being chased by a lion. Hormones flood your system, your blood pressure increases, lots of things are going on.

A little of this is good, especially if you are being chased by something dangerous, but constant stress will tear your body down fast. If you are tired or irritable, your body is stressed and is telling you to relax.

What relaxes you is different than what relaxes me. I have many activities and states of being that I cultivate for relaxation, here’s a few on my list (I’ve left out all the toxic forms of pseudo-relaxation):

  • Massage or spa service
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Beach walk
  • Phone calls to friends/family
  • Laughing
  • Get together with a loved one
  • Take a nap
  • Eat something healthy and yummy
  • Rest
  • Play on the computer
  • Enjoy nature
  • Dance
  • Read
  • Prayer, praise and intercession

Staying healthy isn’t just about avoiding harmful things. It means being proactive about your well-being. Your own body is the best source of health and wellness insight. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, what is it telling you right now? What do you need to add or take away in your life?

See you at the spa!

Photo credit

When it comes to beauty, French women seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi; a look so perfectly primped and polished, it seems inherently effortless.

My husband (Paul) and I were sitting at a little sidewalk cafe in Paris last week, people watching (and not eating) for a couple of hours. (Did I mention the service was incredibly slow? They’d like to “nice it up” by saying they know how to enjoy a meal – but I’d say it’s just rude.) But, I digress.

Because I’m in the beauty biz, of course I’m taking notes on the runway in front of our little table –  on hair, makeup and  fashion. The dancer in me also watches aplomb (a person’s carriage and sense of confidence).

I looked pretty good that day, I’d thought – except my feet were swollen so I was wearing running shoes, (which no beautiful women were wearing on the streets of Gay Paree.)

Also, I noticed everyone seemed thin. The women had a classic style that was simple and sensual. I was surprised to see that the middle-aged women looked even better – like they KNEW how to put themselves together after years of experience.

There was little in the way of undergarments, breasts and buttocks were au naturale – even saggy ones. The body was celebrated, not exploited by these women’s fashion sense.

Paul and I were hot, crabby and tired. We landed in Paris that morning and began our city tour straight away because we only had a day to spend there. I felt like a big-ole-frump! Working on it. 😉

Now that I am back to reality, I’d like to look at what their beauty secrets are and get a few things straight about the whole “French woman are the most beautiful women in the world” notion as well.

Nature or nurture?

  • They are notorious for wearing scarves and accessories beautifully. Conformity is not a value for the French – but each woman’s singularity, confidently putting a personal stamp on whatever she is wearing.

We can do that – no?

  • The French smoke (not every one of course, but many! ) and they drink wine, lots of it. Poisons have a way of dulling the appetite. Couple that with the fact that their food is divine – and you have a magic potion for thinness. Who wants to gorge on haute cuisine? You savor and linger over it – right?

I almost killed myself drinking and smoking my a*# off in Europe. It made me look haggard. Hmmm moderation must be key – that or their bodies are used to it and have adjusted. The food thing I’ve got nailed…whew!

  • The women you see who are so slim, are Parisian women in the touristic parts of the capital – or models and movie stars. These women are generally well-off and upper-class. They are very aware of fashion and of their “ligne” (figure). If you go out into other areas of Paris or into the provinces, you will see that the French woman is not universally slim.

I must be the typical American woman buying into the media hype of trying to be the “perfect woman”.

  • Paid maternity leave is 16 weeks for child #1 and #2 and 26 weeks for the third. The dad gets two – that helps!!

Enough said! After 4 kids, with NO paid leave –  I get it. And, I got little help from the hubs (bless his heart), he got zero time-off and was tired too!

It’s true, water and exercise are key. That’s another reason I want to move to a little town (Arroyo Grande); I could bike to work!!!

  • The pleasure factor – the art of doing it yourself at your own pace without feeling guilty is embraced.

How can we be sensual and confident when we are running around like chicken with our heads cut off? And guilt?

Pahlez 🙂

  • The historical architecture in Paris is breathtaking – the woman have a backdrop that is so rich and elegant, that they NEED to dress for it.
  • Good bags, good shoes and classic pieces are staples for the Parisian woman.

Seems like youth and fads dictate fashion here.

  • They are secretive about their beauty secrets – and they lie!

There is a mystic and an attitude that must be cultivated in order to keep the reputation that French woman are the most beautiful women.

  • CARING  about your skin = high maintenance. I saw a YouTube that interviewed a French woman with flawless skin; “What is your secret to such beautiful skin?” “I only use water,” was her response…riiiight.

All the beautiful women of the world attend to themselves. You know it’s true – look in the mirror when you wake up, or after a party weekend of indulgence.

  • So French women are beautiful – outside, and that’s pretty easy really. But are they warm? friendly? kind? What makes someone radiate true beauty? You know the answer.

Here is what I have gleaned from my study of the iconic French mademoiselle:

1.) Be yourself! Carefully attend to what makes you unique and beautiful.

2.) Spend time caring for yourself: eating right, grooming well, exercising and drinking plenty of water.

3.) If you are over 40, redefine beauty for yourself – a style consultant may be helpful. You have a mature elegance that with the right attitude can outshine even the youngest pup!

4.) Let go more, lighten up, don’t rush, enjoy food, make friends, drink in moderation…have fun!

5.) Cultivate the values that reward and fill you up, that honor others. Fulfill the purpose you were put here for by following your passion.

Fashion and outward beauty are really shallow in the grand scheme of things. But ooh la la so much fun!

See you at the spa!

 

Wilma from the Flintstones made me happy when I was a little girl – and she still does! She was great at expressing herself (especially if she was mad at Fred), but she was also quick to laugh and move on.

I’ve heard it said that you were “your most true self” when you were very little.

Gretchen Rubin, who wrote “The Happiness Project” reminds us to “Be Ourselves”.

As an adult,  I find myself wrestling with “chronos” time (the Greek word for time that means chronological, sequential time) while longing for “kairos” time (the Greek word describing how events unfold at the perfect time).

Many of my lists and tasks as wife, mother, business owner, homemaker etc. are done in chronos time, it’s my default mode. In fact – my temperament type, personality and upbringing all point to this rather driven way of being.

Yet I aspire to shift  into kairos, which is a space where faith lives. This is the space I was born into and occupied effortlessly for the first years of my life. I can be “Linda” and still relax into the moment, if I can remember how.

I need to consciously choose to believe that I’m not behind, that things will work out, and that life is bigger and more forgiving than my limited  and harried race against the clock.

Walt Whitman says: “Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.”

I was raised by a woman who was into the women’s lib movement. She went back to school to get her law degree with 4 kids at home. She would flit off to fabulous destination spa resorts while my dad was on hunting trips. She was creating a new kind of role for a woman that was so different from her fore-mothers.

At home, mom went to The European Health Spa – a glorious facility, and the only place in the Twin Cities like it at the time… the 70’s.

She would sneak me into the spa at 15 (pretending I was 18), and I would sauna, steam, swim, get a massage and drink smoothies to my heart’s desire.

Who would have known that I would own a spa myself someday? I found pleasure in those quiet hours at the spa as a girl, the same way I felt swimming at the cabin, hunting turtles, picking fresh berries in the woods, or sitting on grandma’s lap. The common denominator in these experiences was the joy I felt.

I fancy myself as being in the “happiness business”. At the spa, time disappears. No lists to complete, people to please, or tasks to perform. Just you, your breath, your thoughts and a myriad of sensations. A safe place to go where your contentment is numero uno.

And I get to come along on the journey! I set the tone, the mood – create the space for you to be…just you.

That’s not to say that spa-going is the end-all, be-all to self discovery or enlightenment; it’s just one simple, uncomplicated way, one place to discover and be you!

I’ve found that serving others through the art of touch and personal grooming is one of the many things that brings me happiness. Now, your job is to figure out what brings you happiness, can you remember? – once you’ve done that, it’s easy to share!

See you at the spa!

Most massage/bodywork aficionados remember the uncertainty that came with their first service. What should I expect? Will I have to take off all my clothes? How much do I tip? Will the pressure be too deep or not deep enough?

I got my first massage when I was 15 (40 years ago!). There were very few therapists then, and only elite health clubs or vacation retreat and resort properties offered spa services.

In fact, the woman who gave me my first massage(s), later opened a school – and fast forward 25 years, I became a student there. 🙂

So, hopefully  I’ve established myself as a veteran massage recipient turned provider – but don’t assume that I’m perfect at setting and honoring boundaries; it takes conscious attention and personal assertion – let’s begin!

For newcomers to massage, the prospect of those first visits can be unnerving. Here are some basic bodywork/massage guidelines to help you choose a therapist, get the most out of your session, and create a healthy client-therapist relationship.

If there are no forms, and no intake interview – in my estimation, the service is no good. Massage “on the cheap” is just that (and I’ll admit I have taken part –  in desperation!).  Reputable massage clinics, with skilled therapists, do intakes.

Seriously – do you have athlete’s feet, herpes, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, history of seizure? We’re  talking safety here!

And what about your preferences? Do you get cold, are your feet ticklish, do you like light – medium or deep pressure, and so on and so on.

And, in regard to the pressure used during a massage – more is not better people! (Is drinking a bottle of wine better than enjoying a glass?) There is a term called “Echo Point” I like to use. It refers to the point between pain and pleasure – as far as pressure, there is no benefit in going  beyond this point.

Note: At Star Brows, I have a thorough intake/interview process.  Actually, it takes about 2-3 sessions for you to really get comfortable with a new therapist. It takes the therapist that long – and longer, to get to know you and your needs and preferences as well. Even if you only go a couple of times a year – go to the same person (once you find someone you like).

  • Punctuality = Full Session

If you arrive 5 or 10 minutes early each time, you will start the massage more relaxed and focused, moving sooner to a place of healing calm. Plus, you’ll get your full time on the table!

  • Cancellations

Most practitioners require a 24-hour notice to avoid fees. Outside of an emergency situation, last-minute cancellations or missed appointments usually result in paying a fee. Your therapist reserved that time for you and may have turned away other clients.

  • Honor Your Body

Figure out what you like, and communicate it. Yes, the therapist is trained to do her job – but it’s YOUR body. Be in charge!  The therapist should provide a  comfortable atmosphere for you to express your needs and preferences. They should be checking in with you, asking questions about likes and dislikes – and if they aren’t, you need to – as my dad  says, “wiggle your lips”. 😀 If they don’t listen, end the service – and don’t go back.

Some people have a hard time even considering massage because they are so unhappy with their body. This is primarily a female issue. It may be  hard thinking about getting naked, lying on a massage table having a virtual stranger touch you, as a pleasurable experience.

For those dealing with self-esteem or body image issues, massage therapy and bodywork can be produce anxiety. But developing trust and rapport with a skilled therapist can be transformational!

  • Shower Up

Common sense? Not always. 😉

  • Consider Talking and Confidentiality

Sometimes massage sessions can bring up intimate issues about yourself, an issue,  or a relationship. The spirit, soul and body are one – so integration of these realms can bring miraculous healing on a physical and emotional level. But, keep in mind – massage therapists are typically not trained in professional psychology. Some issues will require a referral to a skilled professional. An ethical service provider will refer if professional help, such as a counselor, seems needed.

To stay safe, only share what you want to share. Quietness is preferable overall – you should lead the way if there is going to be conversation.

Sometimes people become chatty because they are nervous. Keep your focus on breathing – and speak only when you feel the need.

Just know, confidentiality is an ethical code that therapists ascribe to.  It’s best to get to know the therapist before disclosing intimate life details, until you have developed trust.

If there is unwanted conversation happening, simply say something like; ” I would like to have quiet so that I can relax”. Remember – it’s your dime!

  • Sobriety, Please

If you’re on vacation, at a resort – you may be drinking. But, the last thing you want is to have alcohol in your system when you get a massage.

Alcohol wreaks  havoc with the body’s systems. Combine that with the increased circulation from massage and you have increased absorption rates, potentially making you nauseous or outright sick. That’s no fun and a waste of good time and money.

Water, before and after is what the body really wants.

  • You’re Human

The body can have a lot of responses to therapeutic massage. While avoiding food at least one hour before your massage, not drinking the night before, making sure your bowel is empty, and drinking plenty of water the day before will help, there’s still the chance that you’ll have bad breath, tummy gurgles or pass gas (excuse me is all that’s needed).

Note: I don’t see male clients unless it is a referral from an existing client, primarily because of the sexuality issues involved. Advice for those  who get “accidental erections” – don’t get professional massage (especially from a woman) if you are that sensitive, and control your thoughts while you are on the table – where your thoughts go, your body follows.

  • Tipping Tips

When it comes to gratuities, it’s ultimately the client’s decision whether or not to tip. Like in other service industries, providing a tip is usually done in response to excellent service. According to CNNMoney.com, the tipping norm for massage and bodywork services is 15-20 percent.

That said, I don’t see tipping as a way to compensate an under-paid employee (which in some clinics is the case). You paid for the service – if it was above and beyond your expectations, then a tip is appropriate. Sometimes the fee for service is all you can spend – this is understandable. Sometimes people tell me, “I would love to give you extra, but I only have enough for the service itself”. I understand, I’ve been there.

See you at the spa!

Cleansing the skin correctly is so important!

I have gone back to a cleansing system from Tu’el I had at my spa in MN 15 years ago.

It is the foundation of the launch of a new service called Star Massage utilizing the Tu’el Cleansing Oil System:

The service when combined with an eyebrow design is the Ultimate Brow Experience! It is a 20 minute face, neck and scalp treatment using aesthetic and massage techniques. The treatment clears sinuses, reduces puffiness and brightens skin-tone. It is customised to each individual skin-type and also releives swelling, waste in the tissues and holding patterns that create tension and lines in the face.

Let me introduce you to hydrophilic cleansing oils which are water loving and water soluble.  I know – it seems counter intuitive (especially if you have oily or acne prone skin). You may be imagining a pore clogging, grease slick, that you are smearing on your face – am I right?

So, trust me, would I lead you astray? Instead I’d like you to imagine a Zen-like spa experience at home. Think fresh smelling mandarin oil, calming chamomile extract, healing extracts of arnica and purifying grapefruit extract. Imagine sitting in a comfortable, cozy spot and giving yourself a soothing facial massage.

Nothing cleans the skin like a hydrophilic oil. Why? Let Lori Nestore, Eva’s CEO and founder of Tu’el tell you!

As skin cells die, they lose moisture, flatten and migrate to the skin’s surface. The face excretes a very sticky substance known as sebum that bonds to dead skin cells. In order for these cells to be released, this oily sebum must be dissolved.

When the hydrophilic Cleansing  Oil is massaged into the skin, it bonds with the sebum and releases the dead cells. This release of the dead layer of skin achieves exceptional pore cleansing, decongestion and a more refined skin appearance.

Adding the correct Herbalizer, a sugar -based extract with essential oils, creates a custom cleansing system. This unique method balances the skin and eliminates the need for astringents or toners.

Let’s talk about the do’s & dont’s of good basic facial cleansing:

Don’t

  • Use soap. Why? It strips the skin’s PH balance and leaves a film. Note: Suds = stripping.
  • Over exfoliate. Why? The facial tissue is delicate and easily inflamed.
  • Skip morning cleanse. Why? The skin has been repairing and working all night – debris needs to be washed away.
  • Skip nighttime cleanse. Why? Uck! The skin should be sent to bed in a clean relaxed state  in order to optimize the healing that it does while you rest.

Do

  • Use cleansing oils for your skin type. Why? Oil dissolves oil.
  • Spend time massaging the skin 2-3 times per week. Why? To exfoiliate, relieve swelling and waste in the tissues, and relax holding patterns that create tension and lines on the face
  • Have a gel based or treatment strength alternative cleanser available. Why? The skin sometimes needs an AHA for aging or an acne treatment cleanse. I always have 2 or 3 cleansers available for myself at home.
  • Always follow with moisturizer, & sunscreen for day use. Why? Cleansing is only the first part of the all important two-part system for great skin, “cleanse and protect”.

There are 4 different Oils and 5 Herbalizers, each for differant skin types:

  1. The Vitamin Family hydrates the skin, stimulates sebaceous oil production and seals in moisture. This skin type is primarily characterized by small pores, is not product sensitive, lacks the ability to produce sebaceous oil and easily becomes dehydrated. It may have underlying congestion and may also be flaky.
  2. The Azulene Family balances sebaceous oil production, hydrates and calms. This skin type shows two different textures covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the face, and appears to have medium to large pores. It may be congested and dehydrated due to improper home care. It needs balancing of oil production without dehydration.
  3. The Purifying Family acts as a germicide to target impurities while keeping skin feeling and looking great. Impure skin can be dry, combination or oily, and any age with visible and constant breakouts.
  4. The Chamomile Line calms while gently improving, maintaining and enhancing the skin. This skin has some of the same properties as dry skin – small pores, possibly congested, easily dehydrated and irritated – and also reacts to products.
  5. The Regenerative Line stimulates cell production, hydrates, nourishes and firms. Mature skin is dry, combination, oily or dry-reactive that has aged. Tanned skin at any age is considered mature.

What’s in them?

VITAMIN CLEANSING OIL
Sunflower Seed Oil, Mandarin Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate(Vitamin C), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

VITAMIN HERBALIZER
Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Arnica, Cucumber, Elder Tree, Mallow, Ivy, Pellitory, Dandelion, Bladderwrack, Hops and Soapwort, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium
Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23
REGENERATIVE HERBALIZER
Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Lemon, Hops, Pine Tree, Horsetail, Rosemary, Coneflower and Hydrocotyl, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance,
Caramel. 4oz $23

AZULENE CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Grapefruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Grapefruit Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

AZULENE HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of: Burdock, Ivy, Lemon, Sage, Soapwort, Watercress, Comfrey, Parsley and Agrimony, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

PURIFYING CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

PURIFYING HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Horsechestnut, Arnica, Ivy, Red Vine, St. John’s Wort, Witch Hazel, Mistletoe, Urtica, Garlic and Goldenrod, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol,

Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

CHAMOMILE CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Chamomile Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

CHAMOMILE HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Chamomile, Cornflower, Lime, Marigold, St. John’s Wort, Coltsfoot, Fenugreek, Basil, Green Tea and Thyme, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

See you at the spa!

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