random thoughts: on connecting with an old friend, taking care of ourselves and solo dance parties

Last week, I reconnected with a friend of mine I hadn't seen in almost 20 years.  Wilma and I met in the early 90's, when I was still in law school and she was still a respiratory therapist.  We used to be really close, and as sometimes happens between friends, we drifted apart, moved away.  But then, through the miracle of Facebook,  we're suddenly back in touch again.  So we decided to meet for breakfast, and then head to the park (with her sidekick, Maverick) and have an impromptu photo session to commemorate the day.

Let me tell you, in 20 years, this woman hasn't aged a minute.  Also?  She's still the same playful friend I knew 20 years ago.  It was like no time had passed at all.



(it was sort of freaky how much Maverick looks like Rufus.  Except you know, EIGHTY POUNDS HEAVIER.)


Wilma's no longer a respiratory therapist, but is now a massage therapist, and an amazing one, at that.  The following day, she came over to my house (yes! She comes to your house!*) and gave me a massage.  (I'm not someone who generally gets massages --  I think I feel so indulgent when I get them, or something -- but I have to say, after experiencing Wilma's work, I certainly see the appeal).  As she worked, we talked about her work, and about massage and touch, and just generally about taking care of ourselves.

"You know, Karen," she said, "all we have are our bodies and our breath.  It's essential for our spirits that we take care of both."

All we have are our bodies and our breath.

I love this.  When Alex was an infant, I used to purposefully massage her twice a day, every day.  Since I didn't give birth to her, she came to our house as newborn being unfamiliar with my voice or the sounds in our home, and I thought of massage as a way for us to connect as mother and daughter. So even though I understood the power of touch for my little girl, for some reason for myself I've always viewed massage as simply a way to numb the stress away.  Speaking with Wilma last week was the first time I saw massage as actual therapy for adults as well, or even as a form of enhanced meditation.  

And as I lay there on her table (did I mention it was in my own house?!) I thought back to my word for the year, INSPIRE, and I took a deep breath.

* * * * * * *

Speaking of INSPIRE -- I decided that one of the ways I was going to practice inspiration was to make a point of doing something to concentrate on my breathing every day.  It could be yoga, or a walk/run, or even just 5 minutes of meditation.  No schedule, no ritual -- just making sure that I check in with myself about how I feel, and do something to breathe accordingly.

I remembered that Kris Carr, the amazing woman behind the documentary CrazySexyCancer said that part of her treatment for her cancer was to make sure to dance with abandon to one complete song each day (you can see the trailer to the documentary here -- which is inspiring in its own right -- where she mentions and shows you how she does it).  I love this idea, and it seems to be gaining in popularity:  the exuberant Joy Tanksley does it with great regularity; Sean Stephenson does it with straight-up joy and abandon.  Even my girls Erin Loechner and AB Chao have gotten in on the act.

So last Friday?  I waited for Marcus and Alex to leave for the day, and I started my morning with a solo dance party.  I didn't tape it, but I'm here to tell you, it felt GREAT.  I think I may be forced to do it daily (and over the weekend, I made Marcus and Alex do it with me, too).  And as silly as it may seem, you really should give it a try.  In fact, the sillier the song, the better.

And on that (dance party) note, have a great week, everyone.


*  If you live in or near Houston, Austin or Marathon, Texas, and you'd like to hire Wilma for therapeutic massage, feel free to contact her for more information at wilmaschindelerATmacDOTcom.  And honestly, if you solo dance party after a long time of having not danced in a while?  You might need her.


Images:  Photographed with my Nikon D300 and 50mm lens.


Song: A little less conversation by Elvis (JXL remix)  Sort of perfect for a solo dance party.