A Letter to my Guy

kennedy3

Hey, Kennedy.

How’s it going? I wasn’t sure if I should write because I don’t know if you’re angry with me. But it’s been a few days and I still can’t quite wrap my head around what just happened. I’m sure you’re feeling the same. I keep thinking about you and everything we’ve done over kennedy4the last three years. Do you even remember life before we met? You didn’t have it easy. You were born into a terrible reality and were forced to fend for yourself for the first year of your life. And then that trip! Being rescued and driven all the way from California in an RV with 49 other abandoned souls. Bounced around through foster homes until a series of seemingly coincidental circumstances brought us together. Oh, man….do you remember how stressful that first while was?! You wouldn’t touch the floor, you created nests of comfort with all of my things and when your anxiety ran extra high, you could actually bite someone if they came close.

 

kennedy5

 

But we bonded immediately and I loved you. You were a part of our family (even though you didn’t really interact with any of the other members). We all knew your needs were special and we were patient and understanding.

Even when you kept opening the freezer to steal meat.

Even when you took the compost bin to bed.

Even when you chewed my shoes (only the leather ones).

Even when you opened the oven to carry our supper to the couch.

Even when we had to take you to training. TWICE.

Even when…even when…even when………..

But you were a good guy. Despite all of your quirks, you loved intensely. You were hilarious and super smart. There was no doubt that you craved our connection. No doubt that it was kismet.

But these last six months.

Oh my god.

These.

Last.

Six months.

They’ve been the most challenging of my life.

*deep breaths* The divorce.

There were days when I wasn’t sure if I would make it through. Really. Truly. Barely-hanging-on-days. But on those days, you were there. You were my constant in the worst time of uncertainty. On mornings when I wanted to stay in bed and sleep forever, you were licking my face to take you out. On nights that I was alone and wanted to stay out to party so hard that I couldn’t remember what it was that I was actually sad about, I had to instead go home to feed you. When the kids were just getting used to their new situation, you had them laughing…reminding them that not everything had changed.

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You slept by me every night.

You made me feel safe in my new house.

You rode shotgun in my new car every time we went for a hike.

You learned how to swim for the first time ever!

You were there for me when so many others weren’t.

But I couldn’t always be there for you. Circumstances had changed. I was gone all of the time. Working extra long hours. Opening a new business. Trying to rebound from the severe retaliation of separation.

You were always on my mind.

Remember coming to the new business during renovations? You probably still have paint on your tail. What about all those late day swims around Kearny Lake? I was exhausted but took you anyway and always loved our time. I promise that you were a priority for me every single day.

I loved being with you.

I loved seeing you all the time.

I don’t know how to go to bed without you. Really.

After your last outburst (not the time where you jumped through my friend’s screened window, or the time you drove my car into the house by yourself, or the time where you locked yourself in the bathroom and shredded my robe, or the time where you injured your face burying butter in my new couch, or…or…or…) I just knew our story was up.

I knew I failed you.

I knew that leaving you at home meant locking my fridge with a bungee cord and closing my windows in the August heat and shutting all of my doors to limit your scope.

That wasn’t serving anyone.

I tried leaving you treats. I tried running you ahead of time so that you were tired. I tried having people come by to walk you. But it seemed that you only wanted me. And I can’t be everywhere I’m needed at once.

Kennedy…please know that you’re one of the great loves of my life. Giving you back to the rescue was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I just have to trust that they have your absolute best interest at heart.

They know you have anxiety.

And they know you’re scared of men.

And they know that you feel best with other dogs.

So, knowing that you’re chilling with a bunch of lesbians and a german shepherd in the valley while you wait for your next home makes me a little bit happy. Just a little bit. I actually kinda hope they keep you.

I love you so much. There are so many people who have left me this year…and knowing that you loved me through it is really hard to let go of.

I’m sorry, my guy.

I’m so, so sorry that I bailed on my commitment. I really wanted to be with you to the end. But I guess your journey has other plans.

Till we meet again,

Alicia x

kennedy6

 

 

 

Be The Light

 



If you take a mountain six miles high, six miles long and six miles wide, that’s the distance a bullock walks in a day. If a bird flies over that mountain once every hundred years with a silk scarf in its beak and brushes the top, the length of time it takes for the scarf to wear away the mountain is how long you and I have been doing this. ~Buddhist proverb~



Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, I was surviving one of my darkest days. I was in the depths of a personal crisis being pulled in a hundred different directions and exhausted to my breaking point. In the midst of the chaos, a beautiful woman was sent to me. I don’t mean in a cosmic sense…she was actually asked to come assist me with one of my countless duties that day. So there I was, completely haggard and scattered, unfit for a first impression…and there she was, a fresh faced glow in my haze. By the end of our meeting, she left me with a hug. An hour later, we realized our lives were intertwined.

Michelle is the founder of Be The Light, a clothing project here in Halifax. She recognized me after our meeting because we both are ambassadors of The Floatation Centre. (If you’re interested in that gem of a place, you may want to go here for an older post I did on them!) I know, I know…Halifax is a small city and the chance of our paths crossing is great…even if our initial encounter had absolutely nothing to do with the health/wellness/mindfulness community which we’re both a part of and love. Michelle captured my attention that day and, several weeks later at an event for TFC, we were able to have a proper visit. I had already owned one of her tanks and wanted to know more about her inspiration. So I asked.

“Michelle, tell me about Be The Light.”

Of course her response was of a deeply personal and meaningful story of inspiration which opened the way for a wonderfully connected and lengthy conversation and connection between us. What she admitted in our talk was that she still was a little bit unsure of what the message of Be The Light actually meant to her. And more interestingly, what it meant to others. It got me thinking….

Be The Light is a beautiful expression. And people are really drawn to it. But why? It’s quite fluid and has the capacity to convey all sorts of philosophies. But as I find myself in a huge point of transition, both in my personal and professional life, how does this message serve me? When I wear Michelle’s clothes, what am I subscribing to? The magnitude of the lessons that have been presented to me in the last year are almost too great to process. The simple message of Be The Light has stopped me in my tracks and caused a much needed pause. I had a revelation. And of course it was intricately woven with my most important awareness.

The beauty and mystery of connection.

It’s long been a fascination of mine. Intuition, instinct, sixth sense, or just plain biological pheromones…I don’t pretend to know what it is. When you meet someone and feel immediately interested in them…even if they’ve barely yet said a word. I don’t mean a romantic or lustful feeling. Not butterflies in the stomach but a throbbing in the sternum. There’s something about this person that makes you feel as if you want to know them more…as if you need to be close to them…as if you were placed in this exact moment just for them to find you…as if you both have done this before. Kismet. Serendipitous. A life teacher in your midst.

I believe I may have cultivated such connections on rare occasion. My world has within it the most beautiful and inspiring people who fill up my heart. Fulfill my interests. Stimulate my passions. Sustain my desires. They’ve been instrumental in keeping me upright on my life path and supporting me through moments when I didn’t know if I could take another step. Sometimes they’re aware of how important they are to me…and other times, they have unknowingly been a presence in passing who have maybe said the right thing, performed the right act, or appeared as an inspiring example. I ask myself daily what I’ve done to deserve such people in my life and often feel unworthy of some friendships. I’ve spent much time in reflection trying to understand the circumstances which brought them to me. Be The Light was my answer.
Be The Light, right now, is a way to authentic connection. When you seek your truth, when you are open and vulnerable, when you take the time to find yourself and you are grounded in who that is. When you stop seeking to impress, when you no longer place value in other’s judgments, when you clear your space of societal standards. When you get really, really quiet and really, really still…you find your unique light within. With an open heart and living in love, that’s able to shine through…and it becomes a beacon. A signal.

A guide for your soulmates to find you.

It’s a scary thing to be yourself…because first, you have to find out who that is…and who that is may continuously change and evolve. You have to deconstruct all the indoctrination of who you’ve been told you are. The labels and expectations placed on you. When we live in the roles which people have given us, our exposure to others we’re meant to learn from becomes limited. With faith and courage, our consciousness can expand and become open to more meaningful encounters. And that can only lead to a more enriched life. Why are we here? I have no clue. But I try to work hard to stay present and pay attention to the signs along the way. To those connections that are so rare but so important to explore.

In discussing the possibility of reincarnation with a dear friend, she said to me, “When we meet in the next lifetime, how will you know that it’s me?” And I said, “The same way I know that it’s you right now.” Because that’s how it feels…that maybe we’ve already done this a thousand times before. Or maybe we haven’t. But it’s a nice thought. That we carry a light within which draws us to each other for a greater purpose. For fulfillment…for knowledge…for advancement…for a better universal community.

Maybe Michelle was just a person I met that day. Or maybe she was meant to bring me this message. I’ll choose to believe the latter. Now go on and Be The Light. Do the whole “your vibe attracts your tribe” thing. Who knows what it will bring you.

In love…and light,

Alicia

*Interested in what’s going on in the photo above? That’s me with one of my karmic loves playing with triangle pose to make the Be The Light logo just before a great class at On The Mat. They also carry Be The Light apparel there! I would recommend heading over for some yoga and a Be The Light piece of your own. 

And Then, And Then, And Then….

My dear Alicia,

I need you to be very quiet and still.

I need you to listen.

I need you to….

….pause.

.

.

.

This too shall pass“.

This is your mantra.

You know this all too well and right now is  when you need it most.

Don’t lose sight of it amid the chaos.

This too shall pass.

The to-do lists will get shorter, the bank accounts will replenish, the incessant phone calls/emails/texts will slow down. The questions will become less frequent and the judgements won’t sting as much.

“Divorce? But I thought you guys were happy!”

“Divorce? I’m not surprised at all. Saw it coming for ages.” 

“What happened?! Why?! When did you know?!”

This too shall pass.

Trying to take a full breath won’t always make you feel as if you might actually die. The intensity of headaches won’t always make you want to sleep forever. Your eyelids won’t always feel weighted. The temperature of your morning shower won’t always have to scald your skin to distract your brain from the pain in your heart…the guilt in your gut…the worry in your head. 

This too shall pass.

Food will taste delicious again. Being touched won’t make you cry. Sleep will be free of nightmare. Fear won’t rule your days.

How do I know this? Because, my darling, you asked for it.

You asked to have guidance. You asked to slow down and see the signs. You asked to be shown your true path. You asked for space to see things as they truly are. You asked to be aware of what needed to change. And when you were answered, slowly in a whisper then so loudly you thought you would go mad…you crumbled. It wasn’t the answer you wanted but it was the truth you got. Not following that was even more terrifying than the place you find yourself in now. 

This is time for rebuilding…for sifting through the rubble and choosing which pieces to keep. What serves you and what you can let go of.

And it is painful, and it is hard, and it is confusing.

But these are your lessons. This is your purpose. Your path. This is why you’re here in this life. To pay attention to your teachings. Not to fill your world with unimportant material or to make it so busy with trivial activity  that the truth is drown out by the noise of it all.

You will be ok. And so will everyone else. Don’t let this harden your heart. Allow your people to love you through the shift. Be strong, be brave and most of all be kind. Especially when you’re given every reason not to be. Because this too shall pass…and when it does, you will know that you walked this road with grace & integrity as best you could.

Once you were married. And then you were not. And then new experiences happened. And then the beauty of your life continued. And then…and then…and then…..it all unfolded as it was meant. 

This too shall pass

 

 

 

…If You Were With Us Today.

“Happy Birthday!”

…is what I would say if you were with us today. I wonder how that would have felt. I wonder how the day would go. Would you play your guitar and write a song? Would you stuff your pipe and sit back in your chair? Would I bring my family to visit and eat cake? It’s silly, isn’t it? Questioning what may have been? What could have been had you not gone so soon? I’m reminded today that a birthday is a celebration of life and that you have had four decades of that. Less than some…but more than others. Lots of time to touch many and have an impact, anyway. In all honesty…it plain sucks to grasp at your memory. When really I only have photos and retold stories combined with the remembrance of the feeling of your shaving cream…the sound of a table full of people playing cards…the expressions on you face…the nice nurses who gave me Bandaids to wear and decorated them with happy faces….

….such a brief time together, hey?

It’s ok. Who knows what our relationship would have turned into. I’m sure it would be nothing like the birthday celebration I dreamed for you today. Plus…today, I didn’t give you a gift…I just re-opened the one you give me every day. The gift of gratitude for impermanence. The acute awareness that nothing is guaranteed beyond this moment. That change is inevitable. That life deserves to be examined and self discovery to be practiced. To question the conventional, to have courage to look for a purpose and not to fall victim to facing every decision with the the thought, “What do others think and how am I going to feel about this when I’m 80?” Because that’s the inside joke we share. It could all be over tomorrow. Without that knowledge, I would lack deeply meaningful and substantial joy from the blessing of presence. Examining your passing has lifted a veil to reveal such beauty in the simple things.

You may be gone, and I may always romanticize what knowing you may have been…but I still carry you with me…in the cells of my body and the complexities of my being. I thank you for this abundant life that you are partially responsible for. I know it was created with intent and love and I will do my best to see that those qualities shape my purpose. Intent & love. Beautiful.

Happy birthday, Dad.

365 Sunsets: History of the Modern Calendar

365 sunsets will come to a close tonight. And tomorrow we start counting from one again…even throwing in that bonus 366th spin to the next series. Is this a little weird to anyone else?

A lot of stuff happened on our planet’s last trip around the sun. Scientific and creative advancements have been made, populations have been ravaged by war, civil rights have been challenged, adversities have been overcome and global change has evolved. Our bodies are all a little older, our minds a little wiser, our relationships a little different. We have new lives joining us on our journey while some we’ve maybe had to watch pass on. But isn’t this a tally of things happening all the time…not exclusive to 2015?  I am not the same person I was 365 days ago…but I’m also not the same person I was 3000 days ago…or even 30 days ago….and I hope you’re not either. Exposure, experience, challenge and change…the continuous flow of life knows not the date.

Have you ever questioned the history of the modern calendar? It’s pretty interesting to think that some guys sat down once and strategically organized an agreed upon method to keep us all on the same page. Religious observation from a variety of denominations and astrological understanding plays a key part in calendars throughout history as well as the one we follow now. In fact…our most recent Gregorian calendar is birthed of the need to make the spring solstice and Christian Easter more accurate. The whole system is quite fascinating, really. But by looking at this man-made organization, doesn’t it make this transition into a new year feel like slightly less of a hype?

New year’s eve…I get it. It’s nice…the feeling of newness and a fresh start. I think it’s a great thing to practice self reflection and question what we’re doing here. I’ll definitely be taking stock today in what I’ve done over this last cycle. I’ll be reflecting on the teachers who have been placed in my path and grateful for the lessons learned. I’ll celebrate the beauty of another day of wellness and love in my life. I’ll also be hopeful for the opportunity to do the same thing again tomorrow, and the next day, and beyond, and…and…and…

This post was inspired by the video below. Have a look at the history of our Western calendar if you’re interested. I love how it puts things into perspective for me. And in the true spirit of the day…I wish you a very happy new year and much love for continued appreciation on our next ride around that big, beautiful star in the sky.

Only love,

A. x

 

 

Expectation vs. Appreciation

~ The Mind ~

The mind is a marvellous tool. It takes in a small fraction of the information around us, turns it into thoughts that can fit into our rational way of understanding the world, and then it gives us suggestions on action. The mind serves a purpose…which is why it can’t simply be “turned off”. The labels it gives to us and to the things around us is a primal way of aiding in survival. It says things like, “Hey…look at that fire. Remember the last time you got too close to a flame? That’s right. You got burned and it hurt really badly for a long, long time. Better stay back.”

This is good. This is helpful information. But somewhere along the way…when labelling becomes judging and past experience becomes the gold-standard for future events…we hit a tipping point. The mind is no longer a tool…the mind becomes our identity. If we label ourselves, other people and the space around us, it creates false predictability which makes us feel safe. But what happens when we find out that nothing is actually perfectly predictable? Queue disappointment.

~Expectation~

Sure…when there’s an actual fire nearby, it’s great that our mind creates an expectation of a painful burn to keep our hand away from the heat. This is healthy. What’s not as healthy is when we let our mind create expectation with personal relationships or new experiences. When we make ourselves the centre of our own reality show. How a partner should be acting to fit into the way you view yourself or your values. How material possessions should reflect all of the hard work you’ve done to acquire them. How a vacation should be filled with optimal weather because…hey, you planned all of your holiday activities based on the fact that it’s August, goddammit and it sure as hell should be hot and sunny!!

BUT…what if it rains every single day of the week you’ve booked off? What if  your partner didn’t charm the pants off everybody at your Christmas party? What if the car you decided to lease doesn’t necessarily tell everyone that you completed your Masters of Impressiveness and you now make six figures a year? Wow…all of those things could be really disappointing if you expected results that didn’t actually happen.

~”I Cannot Control the Actions of Others…”~

I believe we all like to think we’re actually aware of this but we all fall into the disappointment trap from time to time (myself included). Whether it’s leaving a movie theatre bummed because all the funny parts of the film were shown in the trailer…or struggling with feelings of resentment for a friend who forgot your birthday even though you threw her a surprise celebration for her last milestone…or showing up to a hotel room to discover that it’s simply a dull version of the fancy photo you were looking at when you booked it online.

Expectation even bleeds into the mundane. The day-to-day way of living that many people are skimming the surface of. Wake up, expect the average day to be a certain way, get thrown a curve ball, become angry/sad/annoyed/disheartened/hurt…

…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Because things may not always go the way our previous experience has prepared us for. Expectation can become a thief who lives within us and robs us of small joys. It assures you that everything is status quo and it has all of the answers. It gives you permission to go on auto pilot. You don’t even realize that you’re missing beauty until something not-so-routine intervenes. Maybe you lose your job and, thereby your financial security. Maybe your best friend, the one who always seemed to be around for everything, moves away. Or maybe a loved-one passes…and you drown in the feeling of wanting to give anything up just to sit in one last “mundane” moment with them. Nothing is ever guaranteed. We know this. But how do we flip the auto pilot off? What’s powerful enough to replace expectation?

~Gratitude~

When we acknowledge that the mind is simply a tool and is not who we are…that it is only our ego…then we can treat it as such. My friend likes to call the mind a “suggestion box”. I love that. Watch thoughts come in and choose whether or not they serve you and the moment you’re in. When you’re engaging in connection with another person, instead of allowing the mind to tell you how that person presents themselves…whether in the way they look, or sound or in the way you suspect their intentions may be placed…instead just allow them to be. In an experience you’re having (especially a brand new one) try not to allow memories of the past taint the new moment. And maybe even most importantly…in everyday practice…driving to work, getting your children ready for school, greeting your partner at the end of the day, making your dinner, engaging with your boss, walking your dog, choosing which article to read or which Netflix show to binge-watch….do it with gratitude,  with appreciation, with mindfulness.

Do it all with intention. Be an observer. Let it all be as it is…in all its perfection. Because it all is. Perfection. There is no flaw, no mistake, no “bad decision”. We all see the world differently…because we all have our own unique exquisite filing system of experience in our individual minds. Beyond that, is the deeper self…the one who is more connected to every one and every experience than I think we realize.

Sometimes our mind is really telling us to keep our physical hand out of the actual flame. But sometimes it’s protecting us from a metaphorical fire. Something that may have “burned” us in the past…but may not predictably do so in the present. A person who may remind us of an unsure time in our life may actually be a pillar…a place filled with bad history may now be a sanctuary…something we’ve tried before and failed at may very well be a new strength. I’ve reevaluated my “mistakes” and been overjoyed in what doors they’ve opened. It’s like waking up one day and realizing that all of the cheesy inspirational quotes you’ve ever read somehow now truly make sense.

An awakening.

Be open to that.

Not to discredit the mind. Simply encouraging an empowerment of intuition. Believe in the feeling that doesn’t always make the most sense.

That’s the Me I want to know.

That’s the You I want to meet.

~In Love, Alicia xx~

Faces of Love

“Much love…Only love…One love…All my love…Love, love, love!”

I’ve spent a great deal of time in self reflection this year. It seems I’m in a beautifully stable place in my life right now which allows me room for this luxury. A topic of great focus has been love. It’s been of great interest because it dawned on me that I’m actually not very well versed in it. A disconnect between my head and my heart was suggested this past winter and it was a point I couldn’t shake.

I started to deconstruct love and view it from different angles. I took notes in my own relationships in moments when I was feeling connected to another. Something I saw was that being present in love isn’t necessarily held in words (something that I was super good at) or action (again…not too shabby)…but in expression….when the guard is down, the vulnerability is exposed and the trust is there in a safe place (uh-oh).

We’ve all seen photos of people in love. Not romantic love but deeper love. The expression of a parent for their child, a lover for their partner, a friend for a friend…..loving not as a verb…but as a state of being (as Ram Dass would say) So what if love wasn’t an action? Then it couldn’t be something measurable that could be given or taken away? What if it was simply a state of being? A way of living? Well, I suppose then it wouldn’t be so scary…there would be no fear in gaining it, keeping it or losing it.

Focused on expression, I wondered what I look like when I’m feeling emense love? THEN, I wondered what the faces of those who love ME look like in that moment? I started to notice and take mental snapshots. Before I knew it, I had a pretty full album. I decided to allow that imagery to come up in moments of quiet.

“See, Alicia….this is what love looks like.” 

So, as I was laying in savasana at the end of my yoga class the other day, I thought, “This is a good place to practice love in a few minutes of stillness. Let’s see what comes up.”

“Oh look….it’s her. And that time she was laughing at my story and wincing her eyes in that way that she only does when she’s completely free in a moment. Love.” 

“Oh….and her. That look of deep pain furrowed in her brow while I cry and she wants to make it better. Love.” 

“Oh, my….it’s him. So many moments but still the same face. Sweet dimples with that head tilt. Love.” 

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

“….his slanted smile…her glimmering eyes…their beaming faces…” 

All love.

And the last image…the one that stuck…the one that was freeze-framed in my head and almost made me leave the class.

The ULTIMATE love.

The PUREST love.

The truly UNCONDITIONAL love.

This guy:


This made me laugh.

From a new part in my heart.

So I’m sharing.

Nothing but love from me and my guy. I truly mean it. And I hope you can feel it.

-Lish xx

Awareness…for Massage Therapy Awareness Week

Dear You,

Did you know that it’s Massage Therapy Awareness Week? I know…I always forget, too. Don’t worry about my gift…there’s no rush.

I love the idea of putting the spotlight on my profession for a bit…and, man…I am SUPER proud of the advances we’ve made as a collective. I somehow also feel the need to use this designated week as an opportunity to promote simple awareness. Can we just call it, “Awareness Week”? I’d love that. A time to check in with your heart, your body, your mind?

I love bodywork. The ability to soften restrictions, open blocks, aid in healing, reduce pain…inflammation…limitations. Thrive in sports, lifestyle, movement. Treat injury…hell, prevent injury. I also love what massage…and other bodywork…can bring to oneself. Working with the physical body can lead to tuning into deeper levels.

So please, for me…take some time this week to check in to your body. Push pause on your busy life, put the technology aside and scan yourself to see where tension may be holding. Give it permission to release. The more often you do this check…the more likely you will do something productive about it. Whether it’s a massage, meditation, yoga…making art, making music, taking a hike…something physical, something mindful. Awareness that your body needs you.

Take care of You and I’ll benefit from having an even nicer person in my community:)

Best in Love,

Lish xx

Your S.I. Joint: What Maestro Fresh Wes Didn’t Tell You

Let’s shake things up with a little anatomy post, shall we? The sacroiliac joint. Fascinating shock absorber, isn’t it? That is, until misalignment or degeneration takes place. Then, S.I. joint dysfunction becomes an all-encompassing pain in the butt…or the back….or the leg. I’m writing this because 1) I see it in clients…on.the.regular. And 2) I deal with flare-ups myself.

SI

The pelvis is insanely complex but here’s a crash course in the structure of the sacroiliac (S.I.) joint:

The sacrum (sacro-) is the triangular portion of the bottom of the spine/back of the pelvis. The ilium (-iliac) is the wing of the pelvis that makes up a good portion of the hip. The joint occurs where the two meet. There is fibrous cartilage and a complex set of ligaments holding it in place. Movement here is minimal but has to happen slightly to accommodate walking, sitting, twisting, etc. Its most important role is in support and impact absorption. All of the impact from the upper body gets translated through these two joints. When imbalance occurs or degeneration takes place, we see inflammation, irritation and possible entrapment of nerves which travel through here…all resulting in pain.

Degeneration. Easy one. This is when arthritic changes happen and the cartilage wears down. This could be autoimmune (meaning your arthritis onset is out of your hands) or from long-term stress on the joints. What would cause stress? Either injury or, most commonly, muscle weakness. Our muscles attach to our bones. They’re what keep our skeleton upright. If our postural muscles are weak, (and especially if we have a bit of a belly built up) then we end up with extra…and unnecessary…gravitational force through our joints. Think: erosion…like waves against a sandy bank. Think: desk job, driving everywhere, zero activity kind of lifestyle. Recipe for disaster.

Imbalance. What I most often see. Picture one side of your body being locked up. What would the other side have to do to keep you walking? Overcompensate and get overly mobile. This is a common presentation. Muscles of the hips attach to the bones of the pelvis. If we develop poor biomechanics…meaning we may favour one side…in sports or just day-to-day life…we could get tight on one side leaving the other to do more mobility work. The side under extra stress becomes inflamed and irritated and gets thrown into a vicious cycle of flare-up.

Pregnancy. This is a third common possibility. During pregnancy, the body produces a hormone (Relaxin…appropriately named) which encourages all ligaments and soft tissues to loosen up to allow for the shifts in the pelvis necessary to (somewhat) comfortably hold a growing human and also to allow for more movement during delivery. What happens when that  hormone stops being produced? Well I suppose your pelvis is solidified in whatever position it was left in post delivery. Again…an issue of imbalance.

SI 2

So what does it feel like? Well, usually, a client will tell me they’re having back pain. I’ll ask if they can describe it or point it out. When it’s S.I. joint related, they can usually identify the start point at a very local area over the joint. Even if it radiates into the leg (sometimes simulating sciatica) or their lower and mid back is aching, they will usually dig their thumb into the divet of the joint (sometimes even marked by dimples in the lower back) and tell me “It all starts there”. After that, there are a few orthopedic tests that can be performed to help guide us to the likelihood of S.I. joint dysfunction.

Simply put…(and keep in mind that this is a very general post and I am no physician)…your back pain may be due to a problem that is totally workable. I could write for days on the complexities of this issue or the intricacies of pelvic anatomy…but that’s not the purpose of this post. I want to bring a common ailment to light, give you a bit of info on your body and encourage anyone who may be dragging themselves though the day-to-day in pain to consider a potential aid. Help not only through massage therapy…but very effectively though some chiropractic treatment and osteopathic care and proper strengthening as well. Plus…you know…yoga with the right instructor can also be life changing ;).

And for all the 90’s pop culture lovers who actually got my title reference….I leave this gem below for you.

Love your body. Take care of You. Be well. -A. xx

Dear 35 Year Old Self: The Contest (And Now the Winner)

Update! Here’s the dimly lit and cheesy (semi-comedic?) video draw for the winner. Original post below…

You know what’s awesome? Winning free stuff. You know what’s extra awesome? Winning a free massage. For my upcoming birthday (October 4, 2015) I’ll be running a contest for a free 35 minute massage. The entry is simple. Comment under the original contest post of the Alicia Stevens Therapeutic Massage Facebook page with a message to your 35 year old self. As usual…I’ll go first. *See more contest details below.

Dear 35 year old Self,

You and I will be meeting in a matter of days. Congrats on (hopefully) arriving fully intact. Keep up the good work.

But let’s simmer down a little this year, shall we? Maybe dial it down a notch and take a step or two (maybe three) away from the edge of the rabbit hole. Kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labour a bit more. How does that sound? After, all…you’re here. You’ve arrived. In the midst of adulthood, you’ve got all you need.

Yes…please continue to learn & to grow, to remind yourself daily to be grounded, connected and engaged in your life. Continue reflection, continue the practice of presence. Pay extra attention to those who love you and love them back even more. Evolve in your skill, cultivate your passion. Think kind thoughts, be easy on yourself, live your life.

Enjoy your birthday…but no more than any other day…because each one is equally precious and full of opportunity. Take what you’ve learned from 34, and then shed whatever doesn’t serve you. Embrace change and welcome new experience.

Things that will not make the top of your priority list this year:

Expectations (having them or entertaining them), judgement (caring about others’ or creating my own), financial stressing (I mean, where does worry ever get you?) and house cleaning (I kid, I kid…we all know that was never up there!).

Rather, you will prescribe yourself the following:

Take the hike, do the self care, make the family time, cultivate the friendships…love furiously, seek joy in abundance, be aware of moments of teaching and do the yoga…do aaaalllll of the yoga.
Also (now this part’s important), drink the wine, take the trip, get the tattoo, wear the high heels, stay late at the party (hell…at least SHOW UP to the party), do something alone, do something NEW, tell somebody that thing that’s playing on your mind, go to that place you’ve always “meant to get to”…and when you’re shopping and spot a gold dress and think to yourself, “I love it. But I would look ridiculous in it.” just buy the damn dress and wear the hell out of it.

gold dress
Why?
Because you can. Because who cares? Because finishing 35 isn’t any more guaranteed than finishing 55…or 85…or even finishing tomorrow. 35 isn’t the end, nor is it the beginning. It’s just a milestone on the journey. Be well and take care of You…35 year old Self.

The Contest:

*For my birthday, I want to give away a free 35 minute head/neck/shoulder massage. Treatment will take place at Alicia Stevens Therapeutic Massage’s space and booked in advance based on appointment availability. As usual, the winner may use the treatment or gift it to another person in need. Contest is closed to family and former winners (sorry, Andrew) and runs until 12pm (AST) on Sunday, October 4th, 2015. Here’s how you earn an entry: simply visit my biz Facebook page and under the original post, comment with a message…not a birthday wish to me…but a message to YOUR 35 year old self. It can be brief or long, moving or funny. Examples…if you’re older than 35, you could say something like, “You were a better parent than you thought.” or “Well done applying for that job promotion…paid off big time.” If you’re younger than 35, you could say something like, “I hope you maintain these awesome abs you have going on right now.” or “My wish is that you have gotten past this bad thing and have found happiness.” Maybe if you’re hovering around 35, you could simply reflect and give yourself some kudos. I hope you participate. It’s really my only birthday wish (guilt trip intended).