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I’m a “Health Hero” June 1, 2012

Posted by Debra Rilea in General stuff.
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Hi Everyone,
After my last post I was contacted by Cheri Roberts who said, “I would love to interview you for a health & fitness blog if you are up for it?” Well sure, I was up for it! Here’s the article. I think she did a great job with it.

WHEN DEATH CAME KNOCKING
by Cheri R

When the fear of death is the motivator, you just can’t lose…or can you?

Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Debra Rilea has battled weight most of her life, at times suffering from bulimia and anorexia. The weight and the yo-yo took a heavy toll. After a while, depression set up housekeeping, depriving her of motivation to do more, be more, and live more. When a serious health issue cropped up landing her critically ill husband in the hospital , Debra realized she was next if she didn’t do something.

Having lost nearly 100 pounds once before, 50 year old Debra knew she could do it again . Now, more than ever, she finally had the real life motivator she needed to make her weight loss stick. With a only 5 pounds to go before she reaches her goal, Debra took the time to answer a few questions about her journey.

What was the tipping point that made you decide to do something about your weight and your health?

In 2005 several friends were having success with the South Beach Diet. I had given up trying to lose weight for many, many years and thought it just wasn’t possible. Read the full article…

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Happy Birthday to Me: It’s a New Life Today May 27, 2012

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By Debra Rilea

 There is something deeply mocking about having an eating disorder. With an eating disorder you desperately want to hide but have absolutely no hope of doing so. And the pointlessness of trying to hide is ever present in our weight-obsessed culture. We all watch each other; there is no escape from the eyes, the judgments and the rude comments. If others aren’t watching, well we watch ourselves with a deeper disdain than anyone else possibly could.

 Yet as the years drag on and on, there is also a genuine and deeper desire to be normal. To somehow escape the food obsession, the highs and lows, the yo-yo of dieting, the defeat of failing, the constant feeling of imprisonment in your own body.

How Did I Become A Prisoner in My Own Body?

It started when I was twelve and I began to worry about my weight. Soon the worry became a focused attention. For several years I lived with a family whose mother was completely fixated on her weight and the weight of her young children to the point of putting her six year old on one crazy diet after another. As the children’s nanny I had to participate in the madness as well as endure her constant critique of my weight.

Then there was the boyfriend, he mentioned that I was a bit heavy. I felt enormous pressure to lose weight. I began to steeply curtail my eating and increase my exercise. Slowly the weight began to drop. I didn’t know it at the time but that was the beginning of the self-imposed prison term that would last for nearly forty years. During those years I passed through several phases of eating disorders. The first phase was anorexia.

How Did I Know That I Was Anorexic?

I didn’t, at the time. It was an uncommon diagnosis in the 1970s. In fact, when my weight loss began to alarm my own family, my mother took me to a medical doctor. She explained my loss and the fact that “I forgot to eat.” to the doctor. He sighed and said, “I wish I could forget to eat.” Pronounced me healthy and sent us out the door. My mother was furious.

I was relieved and felt free to continue on my path of weight loss. With my job as the nanny I was receiving a lot of positive feedback that thin is better including new clothes and verbal praise. Additionally my boyfriend bought me more clothes and added more praise of my increasing thinner frame. Classmates at school complimented me on my weight loss.

To enhance the weight loss I added bulimia to my extreme lack of eating and excessive exercise regime. I felt empowered, my weight was the only thing in my life that I had control over. The rest of it was chaos. Those rewards of gifts, praise and a feeling of control were stimulating.

With the Rewards So High, What Changed?

I graduated from high school and left my job as a nanny but still had the same boyfriend. The summer after high school we were at his family’s summer place and I looked down at my legs. Suddenly I saw them as they really were for the first time in a long time. Moments before I was the girl who couldn’t be thin enough. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t see the real me, I saw someone who was still heavy.

Now looking at my legs I was shocked. They were thin, too thin. People have asked me since, “How did you know you were too thin?” To this day, I have no idea what created that new awareness. It was as if I had awakened from a long, bad dream. That was the frightening part. If I didn’t know how I awoke it seemed possible to relapse.

I Awakened From A Bad Dream to A Worse Reality

When I realized that I was too thin, I actually got up, went into the kitchen and made myself a sandwich. Thus began the next phase of my eating disorder. At this point I had been anorexic and/or bulimic for over six years. I had no idea how to eat right or even what to eat. But I eat and I eat. I gained eight pounds, then another five pounds.

Worried about the weight gain, I lost five but then I panicked about becoming anorexic again and quickly gained ten. That was a pattern that would continue for close to four decades.

My Life For The Next Forty Years Was Weight Obsessed

Being afraid of anorexia meant that I was in a new prison. Eat, gain weight, panic at being fat. Lose weight, panic at being anorexic, eat and gain weight. My body suffered, my mental health suffered, my first marriage suffered. My husband left me because in his words, “You’re as fat as a blimp.”

Still I didn’t know what to do, how to turn my problem around. I couldn’t seem to lose weight and keep it off. Underneath the increasing heavy person I was becoming was the very real fear of being anorexic again.

How Could I Be Overweight and Afraid of Being Anorexic?

It was a contradiction for sure. I wasn’t afraid of being thin, I was afraid of not recognizing that I was thin. All these years later I remembered the not knowing I was thin when clearly I was. That self-delusion of body image was imprinted on my brain.

And now there was a lot of research to read about anorexia. It was classified as a mental illness. I didn’t want to lose myself in that illness again. Frankly, I decided that I’d rather be fat.

But Fat Wasn’t Any Healthier Than Too Thin

Eating poorly, not exercising, overworking took its toll. My weight was well over 200 pounds in 2004 when someone introduced me to the South Beach Diet. It created an amazing opportunity for me to learn about food and my body. I learned how to cook and eat healthy. I brought these healthy habits to my family. It was liberating. We all lost weight and felt great. It was a family project, we all benefitted. It was great to share the success together and with their support I no longer feared anorexia. It was a thing of the past, I thought.  

Then there was an unsettling setback when my husband had a near fatal accident. The resulting stress of his accident and long recovery knocked our healthy habits off track.

Our New Health Habits Knocked off Track

It is always challenging to integrate new habits into a busy schedule but I had been determined to succeed. Additionally, I had the support of my husband and daughter. But then my husband was critically ill and I had the additionally stress of running two businesses alone, negotiating a new lease and moving one of the businesses. The hours were excruciating long, the stress and worries grew and I gave up trying to maintain our healthy eating habits.

The results of that was weight gain, slowly but steady as all pounds lost returned. Disappointment is a word that doesn’t begin to touch on the emotions I felt. But losing the weight again seemed an impossible feat to achieve. I just wasn’t motivated to try. Even after my husband made a full recovery neither of us could reach that place of motivation.

That Lack of Motivation Creates New Health Crisis

Because weight loss is not about the numbers on the scales, an ideal weight is about health. That health ideal includes eating right and regular exercise. Something I was to learn more about when my husband ended up in the hospital again in September 2010.

Although there were hereditary links to all the diseases he was experiencing, they also had a very distinct link to lifestyle choices. And we had made some very bad choices for a very long time. It was a wake-up call to me. I could easily be in his place if I didn’t change my ways. Death is a power motivator for change.

How Did I Decide to Make the Needed Changes?

Once again I would be handling two active businesses without my business partner. That meant long hours and six day work weeks. It was a perfect opportunity to say, “I don’t have time to eat right and exercise.” But I knew with those choices I would be looking at my own health disaster sooner or later.

My blood pressure was too high now and other indicators pointed to my slipping health. I decided, while holding vigil at his bedside, that I would start my new health regime of diet and exercise the day I got him home. And I did. What was the change?

So What Did I Do?

I went back to what worked for diet before, the South Beach Diet. Fast food was banished from our lives. Lunches were made and taken to work every day. No matter how late I returned from work, dinner was made from fresh foods. Sunday afternoons was the only time available for grocery shopping and it was never skipped.

And I started exercising. First at home with DVDs using light weights and a balance ball, then I added walking DVDs. Again, there was no time to exercise with the long work days and cooking at night, so I set my alarm an hour earlier each day and exercised in the mornings.  

This cartoon was rousing in its brutal honesty and I used it for inspiration:

Image

What This Cartoon Did For Me

It put the reality in front of me. Spend time on my health, and consequently that of my husband, or die. Yes, it was that true for us. We could no longer put everything in our lives ahead of ourselves. It was a decision to live. And that ultimately was the defeat of the eating disorders that had ruled my life. I wanted to live.  

Now New Choices Continue to Influence My Life

While I felt comfortable exercising at home I knew that eventually visiting a gym would benefit my workouts. So when a new gym opened up close by, I signed up and more importantly I go three to five times a week.

Also when I stalled in my weight loss for five months, I was open to a new idea, the H.C.G. Diet proposed by one of my friends. I never would have tried anything so radical before but the fear was gone. I tried it. The diet was tough but I was successful and have gotten within five pounds of my goal. Even better, I am keeping all the weight off with dare-I-say-it “normal” eating.

I Have Achieved “Normal” and It’s A New Life

It is the life I thought I would never experience. Normal eating, regular exercise and no more worry, worry, worry about weight loss. Naturally, I pay attention to my weight and take action if it budges as much as three pounds. But now I feel like I have the tools to eat right, stay at this weight, exercise and maintain my health.

Today is my 52nd birthday and I am celebrating by acknowledging that I am free from the eating disorders that have dominated my life for so long. I have escaped the prison created by my eating disorders and the struggle with them. It feels amazing to not be labeled as anorexic or morbidly obese. I am no longer on either end of an extremely swinging pendulum.

I’m celebrating my hard found “normal” weight. It feels great. Happy Birthday to me!

See You on Monday February 2, 2012

Posted by Debra Rilea in Writing.
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See You on Monday
You must report to the court house and become our prisoner. Once you are our prisoner we’ll hold you for an undetermined amount of time. See you on Monday, have a nice day.

Juror Summons
Admittedly the postcard I was holding did not actually say that but I felt like it did. Receiving that juror summons in my mailbox was like receiving a poisonous snake. I held the single white postcard gingerly by a corner and grimly read the instructions. Potential jurors are required to call on Friday to learn if they have to report on the following Monday. Of course when I called my bad luck continued as I heard my lot number needed to report on Monday.

List of Excuses
I immediately began to make a mental list of the legitimate reasons that I could not serve on a jury at this time. My husband and I were in the last few weeks of teaching at our massage school. Every day I had final hands-on massage practical examinations scheduled. There were classes to teach, documents to prepare, boxes to pack, all while worrying about my husband who still wasn’t completely recovered after a serious illness. Additionally, I would have to cancel clients and lose income.

Inconvenience or Hardship
It was an extensive list. Yet even with this list I really felt that serving would be more of a major inconvenience than an actual hardship because with some shifting of responsibilities we could pull it off with me being out of the office for a few days. Suddenly my long list of excuses was lame and pointless.

Cold Driving Rain

Monday came quickly and I was off to the court-house in a cold driving rain, a rare summer occurrence where I live. It was a perfect dreary backdrop to my moody attitude. Dragging myself, wet and cranky, into the check-in office, I was ten minutes late. Not to worry, the check-in line was long and I just joined the end pretending, if only to myself, that I had been on-time.

Crowd Control
Then the process of crowd control and waiting began. I was impressed with the ability of a handful of staff members to handle hundreds of potential jurors in such limited space; they divided and corralled us in different areas. The staff then began moving us in groups into new separate spaces. My group had thirty-eight people but we were comfortable waiting in an unused court room. Good thing too because we waited and waited. And while an hour doesn’t seem that long, it is a long time when you are sitting with thirty-seven other people, the majority of whom don’t want to be there either.

Any Questions
A staff member came in and tried to explain the reason for the delay and to answer any other questions, the most common ones being, “Any idea how long this will take?” Answer, “No, sorry.” and “If I get chosen, how long will the trial last.” Answer, “In this court, probably two to three days.” Some people moaned, I breathed an audible sigh of relief. Inconvenient, sure, but I could do two to three days. Besides, I still might not get picked. After all there were thirty-seven other people here. What were the odds?

The Threat
My calculations were interrupted by the staff member adding, “I can give you a postponement but you have no idea what you might get in the future, like a six-month murder trial.” With that threat nobody was asking for a postponement. I am sure some of them were thinking it would be easier to talk to the judge.

Into the Courtroom and the Hopper
After about another hour we took a walk upstairs on a very narrow, steep staircase, this is an old court-house. Once inside the court room, which had thirty-six chairs for the thirty-eight of us, we settled into the available chairs with two men standing and listened to some formal instructions given by the judge. Our names were drawn from a hopper in random order, sorta like bingo, to be asked questions by the prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as the judge. It was interesting and an amazingly thorough, intense civics lesson.

What are My Odds

Several people were dismissed and I found myself trying to recalculate my odds of being chosen. In the end, as the names for the jury were announced and they got to juror number twelve, I thought, “Sweet, I am outta here.” But wait, the alternate juror was announced and it was me. What? An alternate? I didn’t know there was an alternate! So there I was juror number thirteen. Somewhat like a spare tire, essential if you actually need it but mostly just baggage otherwise. I went through the motions, listened to everything closely, took notes, did not make any decisions, and did not talk to my fellow jurors, family or friends about the case. It was mental work and the hours of sitting were hard.

An Hour and Forty-Five Lunch
On the second day, the trial was moving along briskly, so I was surprised when the judge announced an hour and forty-five lunch period. “Oh no!” I thought worrying about returning to work, “This could have us back here on Wednesday morning.” Still I really enjoyed my long leisurely lunch, walking by the river and sitting in the sun. Weather-wise, it was certainly a different day than the one before. Against my will I had been ripped from my routine twelve-hour work day and I felt like I was on a mini-vacation. It was nice.

Into Deliberations, Out the Door
And later that afternoon, it was over for me, the jury went into deliberations and I left with strict instructions to not discuss the case, be available if I had to return, the judge even said, “Don’t leave town.” I stifled a giggle and nearly skipped out of the place. All in all, a positive experience, for me anyway, the excused prisoner known as Juror #13

My Last Pedicure February 1, 2012

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My Last Pedicure
Imagine my distress when my last pedicure went something like this. Clip! Clip! Ouch! Blood! Ok, not an arterial gush sure but blood just the same. She looked at it, I looked at it, we looked at each other, now both a little panicky. Off she ran to get some special blue goo to put on my bleeding toe. I sat there with a throbbing toe and then the paranoia set in with thoughts of bacteria, infection… oh boy, I was no longer relaxed with those thoughts in my head… and yeah, it hurt!

I Like Pedicures or Do I

I really like pedicures especially if the technician gives a good massage. Now that I think about it, maybe it is not the pedicure I like, as much as the massage. Yep, that’s it. I love the foot and lower leg massage. And those massaging chairs, yeah, kinda like those chairs. So there I was bleeding and discovering that the whole pedicure is incidental to the massage. This should not have been a surprise to a massage therapist but oddly it seemed to be.

What’s Not to Like
What’s not to like about the rest of the pedicure? It usually starts with the first person greeting me in the shop. That is, if you can call a demand to “Pick a color!” a greeting. My response that clear polish is what I want is met with a louder, more insistent demand that I choose some lacquer color from an odd selection with names ranging from Cantaloupe to Spearmint Pearl. “No, thank you, really, clear polish is all I want.” Usually I have to say this three or four times. I wonder is there some law about toenail polish having to be tinted that I don’t know about. Once these vital polish color negotiations are done it is off to the massaging pedicure chair with the water basin at my feet.

The Massaging Pedicure Chair

Another loud discussion starts, this time about water temperature, it is always too hot or too cold and I’ve never come to understand why asking for more or less cold water is a personal affront to the person helping me. I mean I ask nicely, I smile and everything. I think it must be the nail polish negotiations. But at this point I’m less disturbed because the massaging chair seems to reach out and loll me into a relaxed place of I-don’t-care-do-what-you-want. That is until that scrubbing thing hits the heels and bottoms of my feet. Yikes, I nearly rocket out of the chair but it lures me back with those kneading knobs. I’m not even ticklish nevertheless I have to grit my teeth through the scrubbing just waiting for the leg and foot massage that is next.

The Massage

Yes, the massage, it was great. She may well have given me the best lower leg and foot massage I’d ever received during a pedicure. I loved it. Perfect pressure, long deep strokes, just perfect. Then clip, clip, ouch and blood, it was a dreadful end to a lovely massage. I limped out of the shop with a blue gooey throbbing toe, light thirty-five dollars and filled with annoyance.

And Now
That was the last professional pedicure I’ve received. After all, why would I go back when I can simply put my foot in my lap knowing there will be no argument about nail polish color, water temperature, torturous scrubbing, no danger of zealous clipping, no blood and no cost. Then I massage myself into a dreamy state of happy feet.

Best Advice EVER! January 31, 2012

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Best Advice EVER
Many years ago, a co-worker shared this story with me and others during a slow time at work. Her mother was a southern belle with a strong accent who had advised her daughter, “Don’t ever do anything one time that you don’t want to do the rest of your life.” Admittedly, it sounded much funnier coming from her mocking daughter in a slow breathy drawl with full body emphasis.

My co-worker went on to explain that this advice, passed down from generation to generation, meant that her mother had never mowed a lawn, raked a single leaf or even so much as changed a light bulb. We laughed loudly as she told us this, each one of us twentieth-century women completely unable to fathom that type of deliberately helpless life. However, there was a deep truth to that simple statement and I began to see it everywhere in my own life.

Simple Statement Deep Truth

At the time, I was the single mother of a strong-willed toddler and I knew that I couldn’t mess up, even once, consistency was critical when it came to caring for my young daughter. “No” had better mean “no” every time or the relentless struggle for supremacy would begin. It was a lesson hard learned from having lost more than one or two battles of will with, yes, I said it before, a toddler. So while I laughed heartily with the others at her impersonation of her southern belle mama and the unimaginable life she led, I also knew the statement was truer than any one of us would care to admit.

Long-Term Thinking
The beauty of the statement lies in the implication of long-term thinking. Sure it might have been much easier to give into the tantrum of a tired two-year-old especially when I was also tired but what was I teaching her in the long term? Throw a fit, get your way? Over time, I began to apply my new found philosophy to all areas of my life: relationships, work, finances, and recreation – you name it. It helped reduce the anxiety of decision-making to have this strategy of moving past the immediacy of any situation and thinking what the decision would mean long-term, whether long-term meant an hour or a year from the moment of deciding.

Decades Later
It has been literally decades since my co-worker shared her funny story with us. I don’t even remember her name but she changed my life with that story. I adopted a simple profound philosophy that has worked for me and through teaching I have shared it with thousands of others. You just might find it helpful too. One last thought here, when it gets hard to apply and it will, just remember that it works best to remind yourself in a slow breathy southern drawl, “Don’t do anything one time that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life!”

How I Became Superwoman January 29, 2012

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Unexpected Event
It was an event that I never thought I could achieve that catapulted me into my superhero status. Of course, that status exists only in my own mind. My friends and family still view me as an ordinary citizen but I know better. Here’s how it happened.

The Beginning
My ex-husband was an excellent driver. A fact he was all too pleased to tell me about every chance he got. That ritual was usually preceded by telling me how much my driving skills lacked. Looking back it was no wonder that he failed to teach me how to drive a standard transmission. After one particularly scary episode that involved nearly colliding with a concrete wall, we both gave up with him saying that I would never be able to drive a stick. It was a tremendous relief to me to quit trying. It was easier to accept defeat than go through that demoralizing “learning” process.

Didn’t Know that Learning was a Process

Later I came to recognize that it was an often repeated pattern from childhood forward, try something, can’t do it perfect the first time, believe what the other people are telling you about yourself, accept defeat, be a quitter. Sadly I did believe it when someone else told me I couldn’t do something. I didn’t know that learning was a process. I gave up, defeated. Not the stuff superheroes are made of. But wait maybe defeat is just the stuff that makes superheroes.

My New Car
Somehow I bought a standard transmission car, I’m sure it had everything to do with my now ex-husband also being a used-car sales man and his commission. He convinced me that it wouldn’t be that hard and it was a great deal, really. So I went lurching off the sales lot in my new used car. It was not pretty and it didn’t get much better for a long time. Friends and family refused to drive with me and I feared for my young daughter’s tiny little neck. Slowly, ever so slowly and with input from my dad and every other male who encountered my driving, I made huge improvements, except in one particular area, hills.

The Hills
The fear of rolling back on hills after stopping persisted. Even with the emergency brake I felt panicky, would rev the engine, lurch forward and stall. Then the traffic would back up behind me, honking would start- it was all too much. I was very adept at driving around a hill so much the size of a large pea in my town. Then I had to fly to San Francisco for a seminar and a kind friend offered me the use of her car with a standard transmission while I was in town. There is no option to driving around the hills in San Francisco. I had to conquer this fear or at the very least stop stalling on every hill. At first I thought either goal would work for me.

Conquering the Fear

To this day I don’t know what possessed me but I decided once I arrived in the city that I would not only conquer this fear, I would do it without using the emergency brake. At each stop I actually talked out loud to myself, repeating clear instructions, and complimenting myself on my own progress. Every stop became easier than the last as I inched my way through the city and up one hill after another. By the end of the fourth day I was nearly bursting with pride over my new-found skill. It was a physical sensation that spread through my whole body. And the confidence gained has been life-changing.

Capturing the Feeling and Moving Forward

Now when I have a daunting task to accomplish I will tell myself, “Hey! You learned how to drive a stick in San Francisco without the emergency brake. You are Superwoman!” If that isn’t enough to convince me that I can do whatever task lays ahead, I’ll close my eyes and remember that actually feeling of accomplishment gained over four days in the hills of San Francisco, open them again and charge ahead with cape flying behind me.

My First Article Writing Course Article done! January 28, 2012

Posted by Debra Rilea in postaweek2011, Writing.
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Background
What do you mean? Here’s a little background. Last summer I decided to take a cartooning course because yes, I did always want to draw cartoons. But even more than that, I could see how the cartoons could used for marketing and they could become part of the new curriculum Bob and I are were creating for the advanced massage therapy continuing education courses. However, once we started working on the curriculum, it became abundantly clear that my writing skills needed improvement. They weren’t bad but they could be so much better I thought. And guess what, my cartooning instructor also teaches a writing course. He actually teaches many courses but more on that later. Anyway, I thought, what better way to learn than with someone I already have come to trust and sorta understand, whose work I really like and who has become very successful at what he does? So I signed up for the World’s Toughest Writing Course. With a title like that maybe I should have been scared off but no. So wish me luck and enjoy the process of my learning if you care to read along!

I have a Sore Throat
Yes, it’s true. I went to bed last night feeling slightly crummy and woke up today with a sore throat. Woke up very late in fact, the morning fully gone now and I laugh at myself because I recognize this pattern of resistance. When something I want to achieve is unusually hard, not just challenging because with challenging I sail through, but with unusually hard I get sick. It is as if my entire physical being moves into stopping me. After all if I’m sick how could I possibly expect myself to write? Go back to bed my body screams. I ignore it and take the next step.

Next Step

Resistance be damned, I head to the forum to read articles and gather inspiration. Oh boy! There is some very good stuff here. What are these people doing in a writing course? They are already awesome. Look at that flow, connection, humor, poignant stories. So far their articles have made me laugh and cry. Maybe I really should go back to bed because now my head hurts too. No. Push through, I demand of myself and head to the instructions page. Grab something there and focus on it.

My Focus Point
Sean’s instructions for this week include two things that grab my attention and I post them at the top of my page as a focus point:
Write. Don’t edit. And yes, formatting is critical.
I need you to learn to make the writing a habit. I don’t care about the quality of the article, and neither should you (for now).

Okay, write, don’t edit, and remember to format. Check. At this point gratitude sweeps over me to read and reread that the quality of the article isn’t the focus, creating a writing habit is the primary learning. Check.

The Result
I woke up sick. A not too surprising experience for me, in fact a typical pattern and I did not give in to my self-sabotaging illness. I applied a strategy that worked in the cartooning course. If all else fails, go back and read the instructions again. Find the inspiration and hold it in front of you until you can succeed in the task. A finished first article is the result. Inspiring? Not so much. Poignant? Hardly. But that doesn’t matter to me, it is done. Now I’m off to post this and do some cartooning.

Juror 13 June 13, 2011

Posted by Debra Rilea in General stuff, postaweek2011.
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Getting a juror summons recently was not pleasing to me. You may have received one of these in the mail too perhaps you have even served on a jury. Here was my experience: In Washoe County, potential jurors are required to call the Friday before to learn if they have to report on the following business day. Since I was calling on the Friday before Memorial Day that meant I may or may not have to report at 8:15 on Tuesday morning. My excitement of not being told via recorded message that Friday to report on the Tuesday was eclipsed by being told the following Friday to report on Monday… bummer. I, of course, immediately began a mental listing of all the legitimate reasons that I could not serve on a jury at this time. It was an extensive list. The problem, however, was that I really felt that serving would be more of a major inconvenience than an actual hardship and therefore my list was lame.

Monday came quickly and I was off to the court-house in the driving rain, a perfect dreary backdrop to my mood and attitude. Dragging myself, wet and cranky, into the check-in office, I was ten minutes late. Not to worry, the line to check-in was long and I just joined the end pretending, if only to myself, that I had been on-time. Then the process of crowd control and waiting began. I was impressed with the ability of this very small staff to handle hundreds of potential jurors in such limited space, they divided and corralled us in different areas once we checked in. The staff then began moving us in groups into new separate spaces. My group had thirty-eight people but we were comfortable waiting in an unused court room. Good thing because we waited and waited. And while an hour doesn’t seem that long, it is a long time when you are sitting with thirty-seven other people, the majority of whom don’t want to be there either. A staff member tried to explain the reason for the delay and answer any other questions, the most common ones being, “Any idea how long this will take?” Answer, “No, sorry.” and “If I get chosen, how long will the trial last.” Answer, “In this court, probably 2 to 3 days.” Some people moaned, I breathed a sigh of relief. Inconvenient, sure, but I could do 2 or 3 days. The staff member said, “I can give you a postponement but you have no idea what you might get in the future, like a six-month murder trial.” With that threat nobody was asking for a postponement. I am sure some of them were thinking it would be easier to talk to the judge.

Which we had a chance to do later. After about an hour we took a walk upstairs on a very narrow, steep staircase, this is an old court-house. Once inside the court room, which had thirty-six chairs for the thirty-eight of us, we settled into the available chairs with two men standing and listened to some formal instructions given by the judge. Our names were drawn from a hopper in random order, sorta like bingo, to be asked questions by the prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as the judge. It was interesting and very thorough, quite an intense civics lesson.

Several people were dismissed and I found myself trying to recalculate my odds of being chosen. In the end, as the names for the jury were announced and they got to juror 12, I thought, “Sweet, I am outta here.” But wait, the alternate juror was announced and it was me. What? An alternate? I didn’t know there was an alternate! So here I was, juror 13. Somewhat like a spare tire, essential if you actually need it but mostly just baggage otherwise. I went through the motions, listened to everything closely, took notes, did not make any decisions, did not talk to my fellow jurors, family or friends about the case. It was mental work and sitting was hard for me physically but ibuprofen always helps with that pain.

On the second day, the trial was moving along briskly, so I was surprised when the judge announced an hour and forty-five lunch. “Oh no!” I thought, “This could have us back here on Wednesday morning.” Still I really enjoyed my long lunch, walking by the river in downtown Reno, just sitting in the sun. Weather-wise, it was certainly a different day than the day before. I felt like I was on a mini vacation, ripped from my routine 10-hour work day, this was nice. And that afternoon, it was over for me, the jury went into deliberations and I left with strict instructions to not discuss the case, be available if I had to return, the judge even said, “Don’t leave town.” I stifled a giggle and nearly skipped out of the place. All in all, a positive experience, for me anyway.

The Gift of Massage… well sorta June 2, 2011

Posted by Debra Rilea in Massage Therapy, postaweek2011, Ralston Massage Center.
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I often speak of massage as being a gift but it is only a gift if the person we want to give it to also wants to receive it. If they don’t want massage we may become an annoyance as we insist and persist. How large an annoyance depends on how much of a pest we make of ourselves. And boy, have I ever made a pest of myself in some situations! I have embraced my enthusiasm and launched myself unto others on much more than one occasion proclaiming the near miraculous benefits of massage.

The thing is I have experienced, like so many of us both as a receiver and a giver, the magic that is touch and massage. And I want to bring that to the world, yes, the world. A tall order to be sure and I am working diligently on that goal. Then I encounter someone who says, “No thanks.” And my mind freezes with a disbelieving, “What?!” Sometimes the no thanks is to the entire massage experience and sometimes just to a new technique or suggestion.

For years I thought I must have done a poor job explaining how incredible massage was and what it could do for the intended receiver that I would try again. Finally I learned that sometimes the answer is just no. I can’t explain any better, clearer, simpler or more complicated, with more science or less science because it doesn’t matter, just accept the no. Respect the other person’s right to decline, an excellent lesson learned.

Body Image and Massage May 26, 2011

Posted by Debra Rilea in Massage Therapy, postaweek2011, Ralston Massage Center.
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Everybody needs massage

Today I provided a lovely young woman with her first massage. She is the third person in two weeks that received their first massage from me. There was the 89-year-old woman, the 52-year-old man and this 25-year-old. Having first time clients is always special. It is a massage therapist’s opportunity to introduce a person to our profession. A profession that most of us think of as unique. And it is unique, we embrace touch as a profession in a touch-deprived and touch-phobic society. Sometimes the magic and power of what we offer can become routine, perhaps even boring. Then a person new to massage enters our office and as much as we have to offer them, they offer us more with fresh insights and renewed appreciation for our work.

I found it interesting that all three of these new clients mentioned their weight. The first two talked about how they had lost weight but were still uncomfortable with their bodies. The client today shared how difficult it was to be receiving massage because she worried that she had fat rolls and I’d be seeing them during the massage. They all spoke about feeling uncomfortable. I admired their courage to proceed with the massage in spite of their vulnerabilities. Of course, all three were speaking to my insecurities about my own body, my weight gain and loss, gain again, worry about the therapist’s judgement and more. There have been many times in my massage career that I have not wanted to receive massage because of my poor body image. Having these experiences myself makes it easier for me to assure my clients that I sympathize with those feelings.

If these clients were so uncomfortable with massage you might wonder – how did they even end up getting massage? In each case it was a friend who was a regular massage user who either paid for the massage, bought a gift certificate or just plain talked the reluctant person into taking the chance. Sometimes all we need is a good friend to support us in caring for ourselves and then we will that the risk. In this case, the reward was worth the risk as each client left happy, relaxed and looking forward to their next massage.