VIC (Very Important Client) Spotlight

Sherrie has been a client of MMFW since 2013, when she had taken on a second job teaching ESL for Wake Tech, two nights on week.  On top of her full-time teaching position at Sanderson High, she realized that all that standing and helping others was going to take a toll on her body. Sherrie decided that with the added responsibility, it was crucial to her well-being to improve on her self-care, and her search for massage close to her brought her to Linda’s table.  She’s been a regular ever since, with a standing appointment every other week.

After completing her undergraduate work at UNC-Chapel Hill, Sherrie worked at a small rural school before movingVery Important Client Sherrie to Raleigh in 2006, when she accepted a teaching position at Sanderson High, and she’s been there ever since.

Her first three years of teaching had completely different challenges than the ones she faces today at Sanderson. Many of the children in the rural community had to work with their families to help provide.  At the time, the area was also facing demographic changes with an influx of Hispanic residents, and community members were navigating the area’s new identity, which posed it’s own challenges.  She felt she had more of a relationship with kids and parents in a small school.

In a city school, it is more challenging, with more students.  While relationships still exist, with the inclusion of more technology in everyday life, the students more distracted.  Combined with less school funding, it is a lot harder to teach.  There have been no new materials since 2004, making the new curriculum hard to use, with no new resources to support it.  To navigate this huge challenge, like many other educators, she utilizes an online resource “Teachers Pay Teachers”, which she considers “her lifeline”.  Spends well over $250 a year on lesson plans alone. Sherrie says the site is “a huge lifesaver when you don’t have time to develop materials because you’re in the classroom full-time.”   She also spends quite a lot on  basic classroom supplies like kleenex, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, and markers for whiteboard.  Fortunately, some parents donate supplies, which helps some.

When asked if she had any advice for folks considering becoming a teacher, Sherrie said “you have to accept the harsh truth…you really need to shadow an educator for a while, and pay attention to what is going on in the state you want to teach in.  Stay informed as to what’s happening in schools, and pick the best situation for you.  If your heart guides you in this direction, do your research.”

When she first moved to Raleigh, Sherrie found it challenging to meet people.  She decided to fill her free time wisely, and pursued her Master’s in Education at an international school for Spanish teachers from American and Canada. She spent a few summers at the university in Spain, and also worked online during year with other students to complete the coursework.  Even with the travel, she found it more affordable to get her degree in another country versus here in the U.S.

Her love for travel brought her to do this program…as Sherrie says, “It’s a perk of being a teacher with no children…with the time of in the summer, it’s a lot easier to travel if you budget your money.” She has traveled to Peru, Japan, and Mexico.  Her love of travel began as a child,  She grew up in the Jacksonville area, but travelled a lot as a child.

Her other passion is dancing.  After trying to meet people in Raleigh with little success via meetup, she started going to Carmen’s for salsa dancing, and finally started developing friendships through there. She tends to let of the most steam with dancing, be it salsa, samba, belly-dancing, African, and even some ballroom.

The rest of her free time is spent decompressing…Besides the occasional Netflix binge,  she enjoys reading…her favorites are historical fiction, self-help/female empowerment, and  autobiographies about social justice warriors.  Her most recent read was Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, based on true story of an AA nurse working in a hospital and her experience with a white supremacist family.

When asked about the best thing she’s ever done for herself, Sherrie shared that early on, she realized she needed to see what was outside her own environment.  Once she confronted her fear surrounding that, everything else fell in place. Because of this, it’s not an issue for her to go on adventures…she doesn’t get paralyzed by fear. As she says “Life happens, you have to confront whatever is in your path, face the fear and push through the doubts and fatigue.  It’s the only way to accomplish anything challenging.”

Because of her travels, she has experienced a few scary moments.  The most memorable being stuck in a traffic jam in a rough neighborhood in Peru, a group of young adults were running along looking for car doors to open.  Her taxi driver pulled out a gun for protection as she witnessed a vehicle in front of her get robbed.

Her most amazing travel experience occurred in Peru.  While in middle of the Andes mountains, hiking the Incan trail on the way to the Machu Picchu.  While it was a really tough hike…her quads hurt just thinking about it. Looking at the snow-capped mountains was awe inspiring…it helped her figure out her place in the world.  It took a lot of inner strength to make that hike.

Locally, her favorite place in North Carolina is the beach. Topsail and Emerald Isle are her favorites, nut she’s not too picky…she just wants to see the ocean and feel it relax her.  In the Triangle area, she is again a fan of bodies of water:  she likes walking around Shelley Lake and Lake Lynn.

The biggest thing Sherrie want to do is get to the continent of Africa, where she’d like to visit some of the countries her DNA comes from…Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, and Togo are on her list. She’d like to study dance there a little bit, and experience small village life.

Dyeing for a Cause

Notice anything different? Linda Zukowski, owner, with purple hair

I (Linda) turned 55 in January and wanted to do something a little different to mark the occasion.  I decided to add some color to my hair, but would do it with a twist. I chose to do a fundraiser for Love Wins Community Engagement Center, a local organization providing support to people experiencing homelessness.  With 28 inches of hair, I feared having an entire head of purple hair, and set a lofty goal of $5522.77.  With 28 inches of hair, that worked out to about $200 an inch.

I managed to raise $724 for Love Wins Community Engagement Center! And so, I colored about 3-1/2 inches of my hair purple.  We decided to go vertical instead of horizontal, as that way the color would be there longer, to remind folks of the plight of those experiencing homelessness….otherwise, it would be gone in my next  (albeit rare) haircut.

I’m not done.

It came to my attention last week that there is a woman with three children who is desperate for housing. The folks at Love Wins Community Engagement Center are trying to secure safe housing for her family. While they are trying to work with social services, the agencies are overflowing, and it is difficult to get an overworked social worker to even speak with on the phone right now. Until they can get housing, LWCEC is trying to pay for some time at a hotel, at the cost of $370.00 a week. (read the full story)

And so, I am at it again. If folks donate and help this woman out, I will dye two inches of hair for every week covered, or 2 inches per $370 raised. I will keep this up until the end of February. BONUS: If I raise $370 in the first week, which will cover an immediate week for the family, I will dye four inches for the first $370, but only if it is collected by 2/11. This time it will be blue.
You can donate by sending money directly to Love Wins Community Engagement Center via their website or by mail, but you must show me that you have done so for it to count towards the hair dyeing. You can donate via the link in the facebook fundraising event, and the money will go directly to Love Wins. You can also drop off checks written out directly to LWCEC at the office of Metamorphic Massage for Women, and I will bring it to them at the end of the month.

How blue will I be?  It’s up to you…

We Won for Best Massage!

At the end of 2018, WRAL held their Voter’s Choice Awards contest.  Metamorphic Massage for Women won in the category of Best Massage!

I’d like to thank all our loyal clients.

Your support means a lot to me. I have worked hard over the past 13 years building a solid reputation as a leading provider of massage therapy for women, and I could not have done it without you!

Thanks to all who continue to support Metamorphic Massage for Women over the years. For trusting me with their bodies, and trusting my choice to hire another therapist to join me in offering services for women.

We will continue to grow towards what I envision…a place where all women can go for healing, rest, and support in all their wellness endeavors.

~Linda Zukowski, NC-LMBT #5951
Owner, Metamorphic Massage for Women

#WRALVCAs #BestMassageInTheTriangle

VIC (Very Important Client) Spotlight

Lisa first started coming to Metamorphic Massage for Women nine years ago, when she decided to get a massage as a birthday gift to herself.  She had no idea where she should go, but she knew she had no interest in going to chain spa.  After an internet search, she found Linda, and between the reviews, location, and the info on the website, she was convinced this was the place for her!

Southern Illinois born and bred, Lisa originally planned to attend college with a double major in history and Spanish, but marriage derailed her from that plan.  After relocating to Oklahoma and Texas, the closest she thing she could find to that degree programs was studying education with a focus on history and Spanish. Within a few years, Lisa found herself a single mom with three young daughters to raise. She began teaching in Texas, before moving to North Carolina in 2004. After teaching history, Spanish, psychology & sociology for 24 years, Lisa retired last year.

Since retiring, Lisa has increased her volunteer contributions at The Carolina Poodle Rescue, which she’s been a part of for 2.5 years.  Lisa and her second husband (she remarried 10 years ago) provide short- & long-term foster homes for rescued dogs and provide transport for animals between shelters and homes. Lisa is also an adoption counselor and loves being able to match dogs to their furever homes, and works with their Save our Seniors program, rescuing old, badly behaved, or ill dogs that need more specialized care.

Lisa is happy with all the free time she has now that she’s retired, as it gives her a lot more time with friends, an opportunity that can be nearly nonexistent when you are teacher.  She’s looking forward to reaching another goal, writing children’s books based in history.   She reads a lot of children’s literature for inspiration. Her favorite writers are Rick Riordan, J.R.R. Tolkein, and she to read just about anything but horror.  Her favorite readings are biographies, “the type of books most people use as doorstops” keep her riveted.  She also admits that she likes “beach books” because it can be fun to escape.

She enjoys crocheting and embroidering, which she does when relaxing at night or on road trips with her husband, and finds herself making a lot of gifts. Her daughters are now having children, and she recently learned about a fourth one on the way. She’s excited to buy some pink yarn for the baby’s quilt, as the rest of them have been blue! She hasn’t been able to spend as much time with grandkids because they live in Texas and Chicago, but now that she’s retired, she’s thrilled she is going to be able to see a lot more of them.   Her children and grandchildren are her biggest passion.

Lisa’s words of wisdom for women looking to live the healthiest, happiest life you can:  Don’t put selfcare last on the list…it should be at the top!  You HAVE to take time to yourself. Spend money on selfcare that seems like a luxury, because it’s not. Carve out the time and energy for yourself.  It is okay to say no…learn how and do it for your emotional and physical well-being.

Because she was a single mom, Lisa always put herself last and never spent money on herself, because it just didn’t occur to her to do so. Her advice for single moms with no support from the father: don’t feel guilty about taking a little something for yourself.  Even if it’s taking a cup of tea in the bedroom and shutting the door. Being there for your children every second of the day isn’t healthy for anyone as it gives everyone unrealistic expectations about what you should do.

Her goal now is to get as healthy as she can, because she’s at an age that if she doesn’t turn it around fast, it’s not going to turn around.  Her health is her ultimate priority now. Lisa says she wouldn’t have survived the last nine years without massage.  Her pain was unbearable and coming to Metamorphic Massage for Women was the best gift she ever gave herself!

How Breastfeeding Affects the Body of a New Mother

Breastfeed or bottle?

The choice is a personal one, and no one outside of the baby’s mother and her medical providers can or should have input into the decision. Of course, if the parents have a healthy relationship, the other parent can contribute to the decision.  I say this because not all pregnancies are the result of a healthy relationship, and I honor a woman’s choice to have total control over her body.

Why would a woman choose to breastfeed her child?   Most folks talk about the benefits breast milk has on the child.  But what about the mother?

On a physical level, the act of breastfeeding does amazing things for a woman’s body. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone produced in the hypothalamus that contributes to reproductive functions, which helps the uterus return to normal size and functioning after childbirth.

When a mother breastfeeds a child, it forces her to sit and rest.  There is no handing the baby off to a loved one. This allows the mother to rest her body.  The fourth trimester, which is the first three months post birth, are crucial to the proper healing of new mother’s body.

Producing milk is hard work.  Did you know you can burn 500-1000 calories a day while breastfeeding?  It helps your body return to a weight that is closer to what it was pre-pregnancy. Of course, no one should expect you to have the same exact body they had prior to becoming pregnant.  Our bodies just went through a major process, and they’re changed for life. I encourage you to embrace the changes, they are the marks of a mother and a warrior!

Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of breast cancer. While women who breastfeed for longer than two years are the least likely to contract the disease, any length of nursing will help.  The longer you breastfeed, the lower your chances of contracting the disease.  It also lowers your chances of contracting uterine and ovarian cancer.

Most women who breastfeed have their favorite ways to hold their babies while nursing.  Did you know that how you hold your baby not only affects the health of your breasts, it also can affect your shoulders, necks, and arms?

Babies weigh a lot.  The average baby born in the U.S. weights approximately 7-1/2 pounds.  To sit and hold that weight every three hours can do a number on your upper body. (To make it real for those without an infant around, a gallon of milk weighs 8-1/2 pounds.  Imagine holding a gallon of milk in one position for 30-45 minutes every three hours.) The weight pulls on the muscles of your shoulder, chest, neck, and arms.  This goes for those who bottle feed, as well!

Switching the position of your body, and the position of the baby, can help reduce strain from overuse.  Different nursing positions can also help prevent clogged milk ducts in nursing moms!

Whatever you choose, breastfeeding or bottle, know that you are doing the best you can for your child.  Keep up the good work.

When “Aunt Flow” Visits and There’s no Door to Knock On

How do you handle your period?

Me, I like to curl up in bed, sweats on, heating pad on high, nice hot cup of earl grey and the darkest of dark chocolate. The comforts of home during that time of my cycle are everything I need.

The average woman uses 16,800 feminine products in a lifetime.  If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good you can go to the store, purchase what you need, take a shower every day, and put on clean clothes regularly.

Unfortunately, many women aren’t so privileged when it comes to periods. Never mind basic comfort, women experiencing homelessness face much worse when “aunt flow” comes to visit. They face a losing battle every month when it comes to their periods:

  • Lack of sanitary products: A lot of shelters don’t keep these products stocked, yet they are the most requested, and least donated, items. Many women are left choosing between pads or tampons and a meal.
  • Lack of clean running water: Women experiencing homelessness have largely interrupted access to running water. A nice hot bath or shower is not an option.  Imagine having your period and not being able to bathe properly.
  • Health risks due to unhygienic practices: Without access to proper products, women who are homeless resort to using newspapers, rags, cut up pads as tampons. With limited access to facilities, it’s difficult to clean up, leading to infections.

Menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury. That’s why Metamorphic Massage for Women and The North Raleigh Well Nest have set out to make the women in our community a little more comfortable. We will be taking donations of personal care items at our open house and all summer long. All donations will go to the Women’s Center of Wake County.

-Team Member Contribution

Introducing…The VIC (Very Important Client) Award!

There are a lot of incredible women who have come through the doors of Metamorphic Massage for Women.  From all walks of life, women of all ages have graced me with their presence on my massage table.

Very Important Client at Metamorphic Massage For Women

Karen was born in Raleigh and has lived here her whole life.  Her favorite thing to do in North Carolina is going to the beach…her favorites are Topsail and Kill Devil Hills. She has fond memories of annual family trips that have happened since she was an infant and always enjoyed hanging out with her seven cousins.  Both her grandmother and an aunt had beach houses, which made the annual trips easier.  Her favorite part of the beach is watching the sunset while feeling the breeze and listening to the birds and the surf.

When asked why she continues to come to Metamorphic Massage for Women, Karen responded “Linda is very flexible…Sometimes I sleep, sometimes she I talk a lot.  She’s also very considerate.  One time, someone wanted to bring their baby to their session which was happening at the same time as my massage, so she called me, to see if I was okay with that.  She also does a very thorough evaluation when I first arrive, always checking to see if something has changed, address issues each session.   I also love Linda’s sense of humor, and her knowledge about all things healthy.  I’ve learned a lot of organic food and natural remedies, which has been really fun to learn.  I never would have touched anything organic in a grocery store until I met Linda.  As soon as you eat one organic banana, you never go back.  Now I eat as organic as possible.  It tastes better, plus it’s better for you. I’ve also noticed my food lasts a lot longer…it has saved me money because of that.”

Karen retired December 16th,  and is very passionate about enjoying her time.  She’s spent the last several months catching up on reading, bible study, reconnecting with friends, church activities, doing home maintenance projects.  She is loving retirement, doesn’t miss work one bit, and knows it will be hard if she ever has to return to work for some reason.

When asked about what has been most beneficial about getting massage regularly, Karen quickly answered “The relief of achiness and stress has been great. Self- care in general has been much easier since retirement…regular massage, food, sleep…it’s all much easier now that I’m retired. My biological clock is kind of messed up due to the crazy work schedule for years.  I’m trying to find my balance again. I go to gym & work out with trainer twice a week.  I want to start walking again to make up for all the lost movement since leaving nursing, which had me walking all day long.

As always, Karen made me laugh…when asked “If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who is looking to incorporate better self-care habits in her life Karen answered: “Start with a massage with Linda because she can teach you everything you need to know. “

The Benefits of Regular Massage

There’s no denying the power of massage. Some see it as pampering, others as therapeutic.  Either way, massage is a powerful part of a good healthcare routine.

It is estimated that over 90% of disease is related to stress, affecting us both internally and externally. Ideally, we would have no anxiety and pressure at all in this fast-paced world. Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible for most of us.

Scheduling regular massage can do a world of good in managing stress, and it plays a part in how healthy and youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for massage at frequent, consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health.

As we all know, massage relaxes helps ease stress and tension found in muscles, and supports them when they are injured, tired, or overused.  It can also help reduce muscle spasms and cramping.  Most of us have heard that massage helps flush out wastes from the body.

There’s other benefits, as well.  It stimulates and tones the skin, and increases energy and vitality.  Massage has been reported to decrease inflammation, swelling and pain in joints, & increase joint flexibility. It is said that massage releases endorphins, the natural pain regulators that increase feelings of euphoria. Receiving regular massage helps reduce chronic pain, including migraine pain. Because massage pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, it improves circulation, and contributes to healthy Blood Pressure levels. It also enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow.

Massage also  has been reported to affect your mind, and can help decreases anxiety and depression. It also can improve concentration, reduce fatigue, and improve sleep. Most of all, it just makes you feel good!

Remember:  just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

Wellness Series: Let’s Get Physical: Eating Well

In my last blog post, I introduced the seven aspects of wellness… a well-balanced person will care for their physical, emotional. spiritual, social, occupational, environmental, and intellectual needs.  This week, I’m going to begin to tackle physical wellness.

What constitutes physical well-being?  If we are able to create healthy habits that allow us to have a healthy diet, quality sleep, and regular exercise, and avoid unhealthy amounts of things like sugar and alcohol, chances are pretty good we achieve physical wellness,  and can function without feeling fatigued or experiencing a high level of physical stress in our activities.

But how do you get there?  It can be daunting, trying to change habits.  That is why I always suggest to folks to chance one thing at a time.  Let’s talk about healthy eating.

I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life.  I grew up in a meat-eating household, and at the tender age of 14, decided I was done eating red meat.  I had to learn how to cook, because as my mother said”I’m not a short-order cook.  If you don;t want to eat what I cook, you’re going to have to learn how to cook for yourself.”  I bought a couple of cookbooks, made some really bad meals at the beginning, but over time, I started making better meals that my dad even wanted to try.

By the time I was 21, all meat, including fish, was gone from my diet.  I now go in and out of veganism…which means no dairy or eggs, either. I do this because dairy is my gateway drug…if I start eating cheese, then along with it comes crackers, chips, a lot of eggs (think omelets for breakfast every morning), and all of a sudden I’m 20 pounds heavier.  And so, I do my best to eat dairy in moderation, and if it gets out of control, it’s not in my refrigerator.

A lot of my clients ask me about my diet on a regular basis.  I’ve had clients say they wished they could see into my kitchen, to find out what I cook.     Newsflash:  While I like salad, I eat so much more than that, which is what many folks used to think when they heard I was a vegetarian.    When I do salads, they generally have beans or nuts in them to add protein.   I will chop veggies to make enough salad to get me through several days, and bring it to work for lunch.  

 

When I prepare meals, I try to make enough to give me leftovers for a few other meals,  That way, when I get home from work and feel too tired to cook, I’m not eating tortilla chips and dip for dinner.   Instead, I have something yummy, like a tasty vegetable and bean soup, curried tofu and vegetables, or beans, rice, and greens.

    

 

 

 

 

If I have a super busy week, on Sunday, I will do massive food prep….chop lots of veggies, cook a few meals, package up stuff for lunches and snacks at work, so I can just grab something out of the fridge in the morning, pop it in my bag, and head out the door.  My lunches and snacks usually consist of fresh veggie salads, a rice salad like the one pictured below, apple slices and nut butter, veggie sticks and hummus, and other things that can easily be eaten between clients.  

 

What about breakfast? In the winters, I like a hot breakfast.  While some mornings I like to eat oatmeal with fruit and nuts,  I tend to make something on Sunday that I can heat up a few mornings a week.   As a huge fan of vegetables, these breakfasts tend to be veg-heavy.

 

 

 

 

 

Eating a lot of vegetables fills me up, so that I tend to not want to eat as much junk.

I’d like to encourage you to consider doing some meal prep on Sunday for the week’s lunches that incorporated lots of vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

 

Make 2018 Your Year!

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
If you’re like most of us, you do, and then fail miserably. 
Many of us decide that starting January 1st, we’re going  to change our diet, increase exercise, get better sleep, or make a whole host of other lifestyle changes. We’re gung-ho for the first few weeks (or even days),  and then things start to fall apart.

The other night, I shared a delightful Indian meal with a friend. (I became a hermit in the last year, and one of my goals for the coming year is to spend more quality time with friends…what better way is there, than to do it while eating yummy food?) We were discussing some of the lifestyle changes we wanted to make.  She shared with me that she tends to fail when working to truly embrace a healthy lifestyle, trying to do too many things at once, and never really having the energy to make it all happen.  I reminded her that when you try to do too much, of course you’ll get overwhelmed.

I have found that the best way to make major changes in your life is to work on one thing at a time.  Wellness has a domino affect…..when you work on one aspect of wellness, all the others fall into place.  So choose one area, work on making some changes, develop those healthy routines, and watch the others fall into place!  It takes time, so be patient… Remember:  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It takes time to create greatness, so be gentle with yourself!

There are seven main aspects of wellness:

  • Physical:  When we think of wellness, this is where most of our minds go….healthy habits that include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and quality sleep, while avoiding things that aren’t good for us like too much alcohol, sugar, or tobacco. These good habits give us the ability to maintain a level of health that allows us to go about our lives without too much physical stress or fatigue.
  • Emotional: When we acknowledge our feelings of joy, sadness, anger and more, and can regularly express them in a healthy manner, it is much easier to cope with life’s challenges. This allows us to move through the world with a lot more ease.
  • Social: Humans by nature are tribal…we have our “pack” that we travel through life with. Positive connection with family, friends and co-workers leads us to care about a larger community. The healthier our social connections, the better our connection to the world at large.
  • Environmental: Those living a true wellness lifestyle have a strong connection to the environment.  We do all we can to make a positive impact on the quality of the air, water and land, recognizing that there is only one earth, and we need to care for her. Our environment includes our home as well as the natural word.
  • Occupational: How we spend the majority of our time, whether it be in a career or as a full-time parent, is our occupation.  True wellness comes when our occupation is our calling…when we love what we do, and do what we love. A healthy occupational life comes when we have balance between work and leisure time.
  • Spiritual: Our never ending quest for the meaning and purpose in human existence leads some people to church, while others find it by spending regular time in nature or within the pages of books. This quest brings us  to find a balance of peace and harmony with the rest of the world.
  • Intellectual: Opening our minds to new ideas and experiences provides mental growth and stimulation. We tend to make better personal decisions, as well as have a better impact on those around us.  The constant pursuit of learning,  keeping involved in creative and stimulating mental activities, is imperative to a long, healthy life.

Good luck to you in your path to wellness! In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about each realm of wellness, and choices you can make to lead a truly healthy lifestyle.

This entry was posted on December 31, 2017, in Wellness.