thoughts on massage, self-care, art, and more
Sorry, dog treatment is reserved for family
thoughts on massage, self-care, art, and more
Sorry, dog treatment is reserved for family
Back to weekly!
We are delighted to announce that we, after a year of our “four-day fortnight” strategy, are returning to weekly service. Now that the adult population in Maine has reached a vaccination rate of 70%, it seems right to open our schedule. As you may know, we elected to have a 10-day quarantine and regular testing built into our schedule during the most dangerous parts of this pandemic and it did come in handy one time with a potential exposure (we tested negative each time). We have been vaccinated since February and the vast majority of our clients report being vaccinated and we are confident that the entire US is on the right track. So beginning in July, we will have weekly availability. Looking forward to seeing you!
Should I buy a gift card?
Lots of well-intentioned people buy massage gift cards for their loved ones, especially on Valentine's day. The thing is: not everyone is into it. And you know what the worst thing is? A massage client who doesn't want to be there. That, and wasting your money. Finding the right massage therapist can be challenging, and while we aim to serve in ways that are most beneficial to clients, we know that we are not the right therapist for every single person. We have provided a bunch of information about us on our website so that people have a good sense of who we are and what we are about. Share that with your person and see if that sounds good to them. We can offer concurrent massage, but we are not offering same-room couples massage. Our treatment rooms are large and have high ceilings, but we find that they are too cramped for four people, especially in a pandemic.
We also have really nicely-fitting masks available for purchase. We have found they work especially well for a double-mask setup, which is all the rage these days. $15
We are tired of the pandemic too, so let's nip this baby in the bud. Masks aren't great fun, generally speaking, but I've got some suggestions for how to be less annoyed. Plus, winter is coming and it's suddenly not so bad to have a face cover on. Those summer protests were a little brutal.
Find a mask that fits you and is comfortable to wear. Of course you'll be irritated if it's itchy, doesn't fit, or doesn't allow you to breathe. Personally, I like the ones I've been making (which have a filter pocket and a one-string system that make an adjustable fit). I'll sell you one for $15, but there are other options in Biddeford if that's not your favorite. Julie Gray sells them at Time & Tide, Judy O'Neill sells them at Trillium, and there are now about a zillion people selling them on Etsy and elsewhere.
Floss your teeth. It's well out of my scope of practice to advise on dental hygiene, so consider it a personal favor. Many people eschew flossing for a variety of reasons, but I'm here to tell you it's worth it especially when you have to smell your breath blowing back in your face all day. When I first started hanging out with Sean, one thing I noticed about him was that his breath was never stinky. "How is this possible?," I thought. And then I realized he always flossed his teeth. Sample size of one, but hey, might as well try. The first few days went about as well as you can imagine. Blood. Gross smells. Gross stuff. Yuck! Ew! Why would anyone do this?! But within a few days, things changed and my gums got healthier (no more bleeding) and there was less leftover gunk in my teeth to gross me out. My dentist was impressed. My other trick is a very fancy electric toothbrush, which I use for the recommended 2 minutes even when it feels like eternity. I spent $200 on it in 2011 and it's still going strong. I spend $30-60/year on new heads. Not bad considering the dental bills that would have piled up instead. Sean hates it because it's too buzzy, but he has a dentist-recommended system involving dry brushing, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a little effort that has so far had great results (no cavities).
Change or wash your masks. CDC says to wash your mask if it's dirty or at least daily. It'll probably smell gross if you don't anyway. Make sure you're using detergent that doesn't irritate your skin or nose. If you use disposables, toss them after one use or if they're damaged or visibly dirty. It's useful to have a collection if you're out of the house often.
And remember, while the mask primarily protects those around you, it also protects you by limiting the amount of virus you can pick up. Viral load is a factor in how the disease presents, i.e. the more virus you get on/in you, the worse the disease is.
You're overdue for a massage. We know. We appreciate your patience.
We are excited to get back in the office since we closed on March 15th. As you can imagine, things have changed a little.
Book online now for appointments starting July 15 and after.
In addition to the rest of our new tools (window air conditioners, thermometer, pulse oximeter, etc.), personal protective equipment, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting regimens, we will also have an altered schedule which we see as a backstop to minimize our ability to transmit the virus. New availability is Wednesday - Saturday all day, every other week.
What to expect when you come in.
Same great massage, extra safety protocols:
We will continue to practice extremely cautious surface hygiene and completely change all linens between each client.
We hope you are emerging from the COVID-related restrictions with positive energy, new revelations from the great pause, and more. If not, perhaps getting your body more limber, mobile, and circulating will help.
See you soon!
Chrystina & Sean
Update on COVID-19
In Short: We are open, our doorknobs are clean, massage can help with stress and immunity, and we'd love to see you as long as you're not sick and you wash your hands first!
See below for details or just book an appointment (but don't be surprised if we ask you to wash your hands before your session).
Do your best to stay healthy, folks.
Warmest regards, Chrystina & Sean
Massage, seated variety
learning to relax
Relaxation takes practice. We may feel like it should just come naturally, but what did you do the last time someone told you to "relax." Personally, I get irritated when someone says that to me. They're not wrong, but they're not making it easy either.
The Dalai Lama said "If you can't do anything about it, why worry? If you can do something about it, why worry?" So, let's do something about it!
Being on the massage table, many clients find it hard to give up control of their limbs or head. They instinctively want to "help." Sometimes we do take an active approach and ask you to move your body against resistance, for example, but most of the time, your job as the client is to relax. Easier said than done.
Receiving massage is a skill. When you've got an elbow in your hamstrings, it's easy to freak out and think you might be in imminent danger. But if you can convince yourself that you're actually on a heated massage table and the therapist is here to help, you may be able to let go of that tension. When we see the scrunches in your face, the toes curling, and feel your body resist the pressure, we back off. The more you can relax, the better we can get to your deeper tissues. But the pressure is a stressor, so you have to employ some de-stressing techniques to work through it.
Try this (for deep tissue massage or anything stressful, really): Bring your awareness to your breath. Feel the cool air enter your nostrils and the warm moist air exit. Notice if it's stronger in the left or right. Feel your belly rise and expand as the diaphragm presses into your abdominal organs to make way for the air sponges of your lungs to expand. You may feel gurgles in your belly as your organs move. This is normal! If you pass gas, it's just a sign of the body relaxing. It's ok.
This breath awareness can take your mind off the momentary pain of tissues changing. It resets you into parasympathetic response (rest & digest) rather than the fight-flight-freeze response of the sympathetic nervous system. It also engages the diaphragm, which stimulates the vagus nerve, which is critical in the parasympathetic response. Many people get into a habit of using the muscles in the neck to lift the rib cage off the lungs. This causes all manner of neck and shoulder problems and is itself stressful and has less impact on the vagus nerve. It's a habit worth attempting to break. These little muscles can do it, but they're not designed to do it for long and they get angry and tired trying to do all that work when the big old lazy diaphragm could do it if it would just engage!
Gifts and celeBration!
This is on the late side
But you'll forgive us for focusing on clients, right?
Thanksgiving was so late that we have been way behind on our end-of-year planning. Maybe it's been like that for you too? We have some last-minute gift ideas for you.
Gift Certificates for massage are available at www.harkhouse.me/giftcertificates. Buy one for a loved one or forward this email to that person who's been asking what to get for you. They're available in any amount.
If you're interested in purchasing paintings, we would be delighted to offer you a private tour of Sean's new painting studio across the street from our office. Most of the work currently on display at Hark House is also for sale. Please reply to this email or give us a call to arrange a time. Prices range from $150 - $1600.
We are celebrating quite a year!
Thank you for helping us to become a more integral part of the Biddeford community--from volunteering to doing pop-up chair massage around town--including at the Saturday Morning (9-12:30) Saco River Farmers' Market, which is at 40 Main Street, Biddeford next to Sweetcream and Portland Pie.
Sean is now volunteering with Compass Project to support teens learning to build boats and other wooden objects, and Chrystina recently joined the Conservation Commission of the City of Biddeford. And we both are giddy about our new art studios in the new Engine Studios across the street.
We appreciate you trusting us to help with your self-care and well-being and we aim to continue to be of service.
Warm wishes for a safe and healthy new year!
Sean & Chrystina
Why regular massage?
While it’s tempting to call for an emergency massage session when you’ve got a tweak in your low back or a clicking shoulder, it’s not the only way!
Awareness is a major component of massage, and it presents major benefits, but developing awareness takes time.
Have you ever had a massage and thought, “well, I didn’t realize that hurt!”? That’s awareness. You might even say "Hark! I didn't even know I had that!"
Has a massage session or something your therapist taught you inspired you to consider changes to your posture, your seating, your footwear, your hydration? That’s awareness.
Like any ‘problem’ we face, acknowledging it is often the first step toward recovery.
Many clients come for massage on a regular basis, usually monthly or bi-weekly. I find that those who come in more regularly present with fewer acute issues over time.
For example, one client came in with shoulder pain that resulted in an arm that didn’t want to extend overhead easily. After each monthly session, which always included some very specific shoulder work, she looked like a second grader who just learned how to spell Mississippi—the arm would shoot up over her head with no trouble. And she would be pain-free for 3-4 weeks after the session, but it would return. After about 4-5 sessions, however, she came in and raised her arm exuberantly before the session. Since then we have been able to re-allocate shoulder time to other parts of her body.
You have the power to keep yourself healthy, and an attentive, curious massage therapist can help you find all those hidden nooks and crannies. We’d love to be part of your wellness plan.
We offer discounts on 5-session series. This has the dual benefit of saving money and helping with accountability.
Book online or by phone/text 207-558-2766.
WHY ON EARTH DO YOU NOT TAKE TIPS?
Many people seem surprised that we do not take tips in our practice. While we recognize that the culture around massage in the United States often involves tipping, we don’t think it is necessary for us and here’s why.
Our hope is that eliminating tipping makes things simpler and more accessible. We would love to be part of your wellness plan. Book online or contact us to set up an appointment.
Chrystina Gastelum, LMT
Chrystina Gastelum, LMT email@example.com
Sean Hasey, LMTsean@harkhouse.me
180 Main Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
NEW LOCATION (starting 9/1/22):
58 Pike Street
Biddeford, ME 04005