I’m Back And Still Breathing!

It’s been almost a month since I have posted on my blog and I feel horrible about it! I guess when you are out living there is less room for writing. And living is good but writing is how I breathe so you can say I have been holding my breath for several weeks (which is true).

A whirlwind is what I would describe it best as.

It started in the Mile High City- a place where you really don’t want to be out of breath.

I was on a conference and staying at the Grand Hyatt. It was the first conference I have been to alone and I was surely intimidated. But I put on my warrior face (after doing some yoga in the hotel room) and went out there and gave it my best. The result? I met some awesome people, learned a lot, caught up with old friends that had moved to Denver, saw the city in the quickest of possible fashions, found out that you can get drunk in Denver way faster than you can anywhere else, and got to taste some great food and beer. PHEW!

The other cool thing I got to do in Denver was check out this cool spa called The Woodhouse Spa. It is this old 19th century home that was built by Senator Merritt in 1886. It has belonged to several home owners and was converted to a bed and breakfast at some point before eventually being bought by the Spa owners.

The Woodhouse Spa

While at the Spa I had a facial and then opted for this scalp massage I have never heard about before. As you may now from previous posts I have been losing  my hair for over a year now. Showers have become akin to Hitchcock films as I watch follicles of hair slowly make their way down the drain like that infamous shower scene in Psycho.

So any chance I can get to stimulate my hair growth follicles I go for.

This scalp massage was unlike one I have ever had before. It was called a  Shirodhara Scalp Massage.

According to Massage Magazine, “an element of Ayurvedic medicine, has been used for 5,000 years in India but has only recently been “discovered” by Western massage therapists eager to expand their knowledge and client base.” They go on to say, “The word shirodhara breaks down into two ideas: “shiro,” meaning head, and “dhara,” which means flow. Together they form a concept that aims to bring physical and emotional balance by rejuvenating the spirit and preserving health. This is achieved through a relaxing technique in which warmed oil is poured over a client’s forehead, followed by head and shoulder massage and a warming body wrap to seal in moisture.” (Massage Magazine)

The masseuse, Emily, described the scalp massage as an ancient Indian technique for assessing the third eye and enhancing blood flow to the brain. She talked casually to me while pouring warm oil on my head in a slow, rhythmical fashion. She was talking to me and I was responding but really I was a world away. Her voice was melting away just as all my concerns were. It seems the more she dripped the oil on my “third eye” the more I seemed to be taking a spiritual journey. Over fields and lakes and mountains I seemed to be flying until I reached the sun. And that warm glow of the sun just held me tight. I stayed there until she stopped and I returned.

Shirodhara

I know it sounds completely insane but I have a strong connection to my spiritual roots. These Pakistani genes are strong and when I do yoga or when I practice Ayurvedic medicinal techniques (like this one) I seem to go through some sort of awakening that I just can’t describe.

And what is more- I finally learned to breathe. Even if it were just for those few minutes. I listened to my breathing. I inflated my lungs.

All I know is wow! If you can get one of those massages done- DO it! And then write me and tell me how it felt.

So from that massage (and complimentary glass of wine!) I was whisked off to Sacramento, California.

Love Yourself, Love Each Other, Love the Earth

I hadn’t seen my cousin in several years and it was so great to catch up with him in Sacramento. My cousin Amir is a tall, lanky, sensitive guy with a heart of pure gold. He works as a union director ensuring that people are treated fairly and justly. His wife, Holly, attends to their adorable brown-eyed girl, Penny (Penny Mood) and together they live a peaceful existence tucked away in a quaint home just outside the city.

Amir and Penny

Take a quick look inside their house, though, and you will see where their true passions lie: environmentalism.

Amir and Holly met, in fact, through their activism. They both believe in doing everything you can to save this planet.

Including: cloth baby diapers!

This was something I had never thought about before. Cloth baby diapers? In this day and age?

My mom was quick to tell me, “I did that for you! It is not as hard as it seems.”

Holly explained how each used baby diaper sits in a landfill never to biodegrade.

“They just sit there, steaming piles of shit, thousands upon thousands of them collecting in the landfills every day.”

Well now that you put it that way, I never thought about that before. How many diapers do babies go through a day? How many babies are there in the world? Calculate the millions of babies and the billions of diaper and it’s not a pretty picture…actually it is rather a stinky picture (ok ok I will stop with the poop jokes).

But maybe this is something I will do! Maybe it is possible. Holly told me that the number of loads of laundry you do is nothing compared to the number of diapers that fill up your trash can.

Diapers were obviously not the only thing we talked about. My mother and Amir hadn’t seen each other in 10 years so there was a lot of catching up to do.

We laughed together, ate great food together and played games with the great little actress-to-be Penny Moon. Being in Sacramento reminded me of the importance of family. It also reminded me of the importance of loving the Earth.

And just as I let out a deep sigh it was off to Fresno, California.

Sometimes It is Not About the Destination, but the Journey

If you tell my mother to go straight until you reach the destination, and the destination is 500 feet away, we will probably STILL get lost.

But although it may be infuriating sometimes getting lost is part of the plan.

Getting lost on highways in California is no joke, as my mother and I painfully found out. Even with my trust iPhone in hand we still managed to spend over 30 minutes going in the wrong direction, getting off on strange exits, ending up on new roads. It was maddening!

But it did allow us to see different parts of California that we may not have seen.

On Saturday my mother, her boyfriend and I went to Pismo Beach. It was windy and pretty cold by the shoreline but it was really beautiful. We went to a bar and I almost got in a bar fight with a bunch of redneck skanks, but that is a different post all together.

On the way home from Pismo we stopped at a gas station and I ran in to use the restroom. When I came out my mom was talking to the cashier. I wondered to myself, “why is she talking to him for so long? Who cares?”  So I dragged her out and she went off to use the bathroom too. A few minutes later we were back on the road, nervously trekking through the winding California hills. Happy cows swished their tails back and forth and munched on grass. I continued my obsession of  playing Angry Birds and when I noticed my battery dying I asked:

“Hey Mom, can I use your iPhone?”

And that is when we realized it. There WAS no iPhone because there WAS no purse!

She had left it at that gas station in the middle of nowhere!! And that was over an hour and a half away!

We called all the numbers we could, we freaked out, we contemplated driving back through the hills, but in the end we decided to just make it home and then look online and see if that nice man my mother was talking to at the gas station would send it back.

“it’s useless,” I thought. “Kiss all those things goodbye,” I thought.

“Have a little faith,” my mother said.

My mother may be terrible with directions but boy does she know a thing or two about faith.

“You think it,” she likes to say, “but do you believe it?”

And so for the remaining hour and a half journey I tried to believe it. I put on my “I have faith” shirt.

When we got home we rushed in the door and called them up:

“Ah yes I have it,” Said the cashier. “I chased you down to the traffic stop but you guys didn’t see me. A nice lady brought it in right after you left.”

Wow. Have a little faith. They told her they would mail it back priority and she would get it in three days.

The other thing I learned from this was: it pays to talk to people and be friendly. The whole time I was trying to get her away from talking to the old gas station dude, and little did I know that by her being friendly she was setting up her good karma points.

The purse was on its way and we all let out a sigh of relief but just as I was breathing out I was on a plane once again…this time destined for sunny Florida.

You Can’t Live Your Life as a Bundled Pile of Stress

It was 85 degrees and sunny when we landed in Orlando, Florida. I hadn’t seen Rob, my fiance, in over a month so I couldn’t tell if I had butterflies, indigestion or was just suffering pure starvation. But when I saw him and he saw me it seemed like all time stopped. We ran to each other and kissed and hugged and looked each other in the eyes like it was the first time we had ever seen each other. “Can’t wait to get to the room?” Yelled an older black guy sitting on his suitcase. We laughed and headed to the hotel.

Love

Did I mention I lost my iPhone 12 hours before I got on this flight?

Yes I was iPhone less. No more Angry Birds, no more Facebook dings, text messages, over 3000 photos, no more Pandora, no more Google directions- nothing.

And yet…it was perfect. I had no other distraction. Like Rob said, “Instead of writing about it- just live it.”

He was so right!

Thus commenced the 6 days of pure relaxation. Beach time, laying out by the pool, sipping on pina coladas, laughing, watching the sunsets, and – most importantly- breathing.

For my birthday Rob and his friends took me to a crab shack where we devoured some food and key lime pie. We came back to his friends’ house and drank and listened to music under the stars.

But they could tell I was still tense.

How could I not be? Work, school and the wedding were constantly on my mind.

And that is when our friend Jen, a masseuse, gave me the best birthday gift ever…a massage!

She is a neuromuscular masseuse, specializing on patients who have long-term nerve damage.

And so with that kind of background- you KNOW it is bad when she says to me, “Wow Suki, Wow” while she is massaging me. “Your shoulders are just a huge knot, do you feel this?”

She did something amazing. She loosened my shoulders up, she completely relaxed me. And when I was done she said, “I only did a little, I would need much longer to work out all your knots.”

“Oh you did MORE than enough,” was my response.

“Well you can’t live your life as a bundles pile of stress,” she said.

“I know,” I said.

And then I just sat there and felt my chest rise and fall.

I listened to my breathing,

I felt completely relaxed.

And I melted away under the stars.

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