Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee I would invite you to sit poolside under a shade structure to sip some hot coffee or tea. Today is the last day of my spa vacation at one of my favorite destinations, Desert Hot Springs, California. Join me as I completely relax here before driving back to Tucson tomorrow. This week has exceeded my expectations. The weather cleared to make my drive smooth and easy. I zipped across the desert with almost the entire highway to myself. My room has a view facing the mountains, which I love. It has snowed in the higher elevations, which makes the peaks stunningly dramatic, especially at sunrise and sunset.
My spa routine involves a very early morning dip in the pools to exercise and stretch before the rest of the hotel guests start to get up and move about. It is dreamy to have all the pools to myself while the water is still in the shade. I come back to the water for a couple of hours at the end of the day while the sun sets. I had a couple of spa services, and went to Palm Springs (about 15 miles from here) to go to my favorite restaurant, do a little shopping, and attend an event. This is an ideal restorative break in my mind. I have no agenda, and follow my own personal whims. I have traveled all over the world with groups, family, and friends. Each group experience has a different fun aspect. Solo travel, however, is really my cup of tea. This hot spring, and this tiny funky town, is my ideal place to recreate. I will drive back to Tucson today, stopping on the way to see an old friend who is in Quartzite, AZ for the gem show. This will round out my time off with a touch of social activity. I feel completely refreshed to return to work and household chores tomorrow. This retreat has restored my well being and good mood. My spa retreat is a total success.
I have been slipping into a very lazy spell with this blog, writing very little. I hope I have rebooted my brain with some new ideas to bring forward during my stay here. I want to get back to a daily writing practice, which I love. I want to write more poetry and some short fiction, which requires time and practice. Taking this time to get perspective has brought to my attention that writing is one of my major thrills in life, so I need to put regular practice into developing it. I have not been to this coffee party for a while, so I look forward to hearing how you are doing with your writing. I hope you have not been in a slump like me. So, join me in the bubbly champagne pool, and let’s order another round of coffee. This is the perfect place to catch up on what is new with you. I have a few hours before I drive home.
I was born with ample bossiness, and raised to rebel. I entered professions in which people paid me to tell them what to do. In travel (in the old days) clients planned trips with the advise of agents. I was an outside sales travel agent, meaning I worked for and found my own clients outside the agency. It was a perfect job for me because I have travelled extensively and don’t mind at all sharing my opinions. Agencies were full of very well-travelled agents because the suppliers used to treat us like royalty. If I had not been to a destination I had only to ask around the office to find someone who knew the place. It was a very cosmopolitan place to work. Everyone was very jolly until the airlines cut commission, signaling the end of supplier/agency relationships. It was very good while it lasted, and I am glad I was there for the gravy train.
I taught fitness and swimming in fancy spa settings. This required a different kind of bossiness, which required very little encouragement to bloom. The guests relinquish entirely too much power and responsibility in the spa atmosphere. The real key is not making them mind you in your presence (which they are paying big bucks to do). Success can only be measured after the student has returned to home/work/family and all the habitual triggers that exist there. When they try to integrate what they learned at the spa into real life, if they whip out the hand out you provided and do something (anything) they learned, you have succeeded in the mission. If they mind you back at home, then you are a boss.
I like the current fad to label things done with confidence “like a boss”. I agree that taking charge and speaking one’s own mind can be the difference between success and failure, and even between happiness and depression. Finding ones voice as a boss is valuable and must be done with respect and caution. Do not surprise unsuspecting members of your family or workforce with your newfound authority. Practice safe bossiness with appropriate subservients. Use your head.
Remember the fall of Rome when Caesar obviously just took on WAY too much dominance over the Romans. Don’t let things get out of hand with your bossy self. Use discretion as you boss your way around this world.
Hot springs around the world have been used for healing purposes for centuries. The word spa is derived from a backronym (created in later times) in Latin, Salus per aquam, health through water. The meaning has been broadened to such an extent that today it is hard to know what it means. To me it still means drinking and soaking in mineral spring water. I have visited many spots around the world to enjoy balneotherapy and the benefits of drinking specialty water. On our road trip I am introducing my friend to the concept. We are staying 3 nights in Desert Hot Springs at the Miracle Springs Resort. This is the best deal I know for a mineral hot spring stay in the United States. There are small hotels and inns all around town with the water, but only this one, and the sister spa next door, to which guests also have access, offer so much space and so many different water temperatures available 24 hours daily. Nights under the stars are particularly wonderful in the pools.
My friend has just retired from work and had never experienced body work. I encouraged him to try it. He enjoyed his first massage tremendously. His therapist was excellent, according to him. Prices for services here are very reasonable, and I have always had good results. The hotel has upgraded some of the amenities since my last visit, and changed managers. The staff is professional, knowledgeable, and very friendly. The initiation of my friend has been very successful. He is quickly turning into a spa bunny.
If you think spa means nail salon, jacuzzi, or an all-inclusive week-long excercise program I urge you to think again. Health is our only real wealth. A few days of mineral water hot spring soaking and drinking can make a world of difference to your wellbeing.
There are beautiful facilities with amazingly talented staff members designed to deliver health and fitness retreats. Destination spas, hot spring thermal spas, or spas within hotels provide environments conducive to relaxation for time spent away from home. Time spent breaking undesirable habits or simply reducing stress for a happier healthier outlook is valuable. It is wonderful to find both time and funds to concentrate on body and mind. The test of healthy resolve occurs when we are once again in our normal day to day setting. This summer I plan to stay home in Tucson. Rather than lament these circumstances I have decided to create summer spa, the staycation that cures what ails you. The trick to good health is balance and reasonable discipline. I can’t spare the time to leave home, but I can arrange my schedule to make daily, weekly and monthly health goals part of my routine.
First and foremost my plan for better health will include daily time for art. Poetry writing and creating visual art satisfy a need I have to express myself. I notice that when I am absorbed in thinking about art or music I live in an elevated state. Artfulness gives me great pleasure. I am at my best when I reserve time to appreciate the work of others and be inspired to create something myself. I include cooking in the list of my creative hobbies. It works well for me to shift my attention to new healthy ways to prepare food. The pleasure involved in mixing flavors and savoring the finished meal is essential to my well being. I can add a colorful and delightful juice bar rather than consider giving up alcohol. In the end it is only the sustainable habits that will make a difference. Too much repression or strict diet can make the mind recoil from the entire business. It is best to have a plan, build your foundation, and be a little flexible to account for real life.
What kind of summer are you going to have, gentle reader? Do you include health as a goal when making your plans?
This week people are tired of being cold, so I have thought of a good way to warm up and meet for coffee at the same time. We will use our terry cloth transporter cloaks and magical bathing suits (we all look very good in these) to visit Desert Hot Springs, California. We will sit in warm and hot pools right on top of the San Andreas fault and ask the poolside server to bring our drinks to us in the water. We are going to spa down today, my friends, and feel much better for it. We will soak in the sun and the minerals in the soaking pools at Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel, possibly the most bizarre place in the universe. Since this is a day trip I think this is the very best place to be in town to meet. I look forward to listening to your stories of the week. Mine has been easy. My dog has taken a positive turn in her health, which makes our family happy. She still has some frailty, but is not suffering. We are feel lucky to spend more time with her in good spirit and decent health. She is in her doghouse resting, so she will not even notice I have flown to California for a while.
If we had an overnight I might consider one of the small mineral water hotels with more privacy, but for coffee and a sun tan this is a funky fabulous world I know you will love. There are Russians and eastern Euros here every time I come, and I expect to hear some Canadian snowbirds in the crowd too. There is such a demand from the Russians that the weekend servers speak Russian and take care of the customers in their own language. For some reason the eastern Euro/Russian spa bunnies prefer this older vintage style hotel. The sister spa next door is very popular with Korean mineral water lovers. Both groups are fun to watch for fashion thrills. You will see some bathing suits that you know for sure have not been purchased in the US. Since we are wearing magic (digital) suits, it is okay to copy one that you like and wear it home. Make sure you fill up your drinking water bottles because the town has sweet, untreated drinking water that wins competitions and comes right out of every tap. It is delicious, and you need to stay hydrated while you soak.
When we are relaxed and warmed to the bone, I hope you will visit the museum up the hill that will show the story of the discovery of the special wells that made this historic spa famous. The other wonderful sight to see before you leave is Joshua Tree National Monument, just a few miles up the road. It is popular with rock climbers for the vertical challenge and spectacular views. Desert wild flowers will be in bloom now at different elevations, flashing intense saturated colors. I wish you a safe and happy flight to your destination. Thanks for dropping in on our spa coffee break.
Many people plan for retirement, but I did not. I just fell into it without intending to do so. I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents in their last years which taught me that planning and execution of retirement are two different things entirely. Saving and structuring investments is one way to plan, but there is another, perhaps more important issue, that retirement brings, which is identity of self. All of our professional and family lives we identify ourselves with the role we play at work, at home, or in our social groups. As we grow out of our careers or positions a crisis of knowing one’s self can be the biggest obstacle to happiness. Investments in markets pay dividends. Investing our energy into a persona that is a passing phase of our character can block the path to our understanding and fulfillment. When we are free of the pressure of maintaining the personas, or the facades, that people expect from us we are free to express ourselves artfully and generously.
I recently decided that designing new business cards gave me an opportunity to decide what I want to do next in my life. I pondered the idea of offering a service to spa owners to help them spy (private espionage) on their own operations. With so many different establishments calling themselves spas these days it seemed like a good way to start a new idea and make good use of my background. I took the idea with me on a short trip to consider the ups and downs of the plan. My weekend trip was busy, so I did not spend much time thinking about my new card or concept. I enjoyed the freedom of doing just as I pleased for a few days since I left the dog and my partner at home. On the drive home I listened to the audio book Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr. There was an obvious synchronicity between the material in the book and my idea to become a professional spa spy which became more clear as I considered what Mr. Rohr was teaching. He discusses the difference between getting old and becoming an elder. He uses the term elder in the sense of leadership, tribal or otherwise. An elder is in possession of wisdom which is shared with the tribe. An old person who has not released his life’s earlier personas and roles does not enter a state of wisdom of peace. Old people with anger and personal greed issues never pass into the realm of the elder, but remain in the building and striving part of life. I saw that making an attempt at retuning to spa businesses for any reason was really a trip in a backward direction. There are many good reasons I no longer work at spas, and it was smart to remember some of them before I decided to return to the same culture with expectations that I could improve the situation with my very important opinions. I was pulled back from the brink of a big mistake. There is no need to travel that road again.
I like to have business cards when I want to give people a way to contact me. I decided to print cards that have none of my former logos, as a way to break free from any past issues that might entangle me. I am not including my physical address on the new cards because I don’t need the world to know where I live. I included my twitter handle, @spafloating, my home phone number (my cell number is a secret from everyone), and the address of this blog, http://pamelamorse.com. I thought for a while about the title, since I printed a large batch and want it to last for a very long time. I used simply inventor as my title. The most exciting thing about being an inventor is not the fact that you have invented something. The coolest thing about being an inventor is that you can do it again if you so desire. I plan to invent the most artful and soulful retirement a person could ever imagine. I have been doing it already for years, so now that it is official I should flourish. What is your retirement plan, Gentle Reader? Have you thought of your retirement in terms other than financial investments?
My business cards are running low so I have thought how I would like to edit the next batch I order. I do love my logo that I had designed many years ago, but the way I work now and want to work in the future has changed. I still love spas and travel, but am much more moderate about the amount of time I want to spend away from my home now. I have not taught at a destination spa for ten years and I have no desire to resume any teaching like that. I have been enjoying learning to blog and communicate in new ways in order to spread my talents and my message. I still am a big believer in water immersion and bodywork as a restorative feature of holiday merriment. I no longer have any need of classes all day and a competitive program to follow in an all-inclusive package. I don’t need instruction to make good use of a gym, pool or a steam room. I am an expert at all of that. I appreciate good teaching but now prefer to study in short spurts, doing workshops with teachers I truly admire over a one size fits all health curriculum. I now like an a la carte approach to my own health.
This has made me think about my very first job in the spa industry which was not a paid position. I was a swimming teacher and also taught aquatics and studio fitness classes at a local health club. I was invited to Canyon Ranch in Tucson to meet one of my travel clients and deliver a ticket to her (airline tickets were on paper and very valuable, if you remember). She took me to a class in which I was invited to participate. During the class the teacher, who was the fitness director, danced over and asked me if I wanted a job. I said no. After class I spoke to her and she made me an offer I did not refuse, which was to be a spy in the pool classes. There had been complaints and she wanted to have a person take the classes and evaluate them. This dandy offer came with no strings attached. I went to 3 or 4 pool classes a day and wrote a short evaluation of them for the office. If the teacher was very bad I had a talk with that instructor about improving the class, but never wrote them up to be as bad as they were. If they did not improve, then I did make the report more negative. The rest of my busy spa day was spent in the steam room, taking classes or getting discount body work. I was really good at that job and added value to the operation while taking from it exactly what I desired at the time. Later I went on the payroll, which I think was a big mistake. I liked spying much better than working and going to meetings.
I think I have particular specialized knowledge that is useful to anyone operating a spa, and that I am going to launch a service called The Spa Spy. I will offer to do an evaluation based on the needs of the client spa. I can bring the spa director new perspectives, most importantly that of the customer. Secret shoppers help retailers narrow down and eliminate problems in stores. Since spas depend a lot on energetic and emotional elements it is even more important to find out how a customer who is not known to the staff is treated. I can provide valuable feedback about in house rumors and attitudes…always easy to extract during a one hour service. It is the easiest thing in the world to get the dish on how the staff feels about management during a spa treatment. My vast experience as a travel agent as well as a spa instructor makes me uniquely qualified to provide this service. My next card will have a revision. She will undergo a makeover..and become The Spa Spy….same classy lady, new services offered. What do you think, Gentle Reader? Do you own a spa and wonder what is really going on there?
The way words are used has a big effect on culture and expectations. The words health care have come to mean prescription drugs and medical procedures. Wellness has come to mean any kind of body work, cleanse, or restrictive diet. What is even more debilitating to the public health is that insurance policies determine the care most people use. There is abuse on both sides, by wellness quacks and medical losers. Wellness or health coaches are essentially practicing counseling in everything from nutrition to psychiatry. The unhealthy American population is vulnerable and guilty, willing to jump to all kinds of conclusions, buying into all kinds of cures and programs. The market is so crowded the consumer has been confused by all the possibilities. Now the public will need to understand how health insurance functions. This is a giant leap for the citizens, a shock to the system.
I made a living teaching and promoting health and wellness through water for many years. I have enjoyed waters and spas all over the world and had the pleasure of teaching many wonderful students. I have a strong healthy body that I treat to the best food and body work I can afford to give it. Since I love movement, I move. I don’t take any prescription drugs; my plan is to avoid them. The reasons I am keeping my insurance policy as it is, and not vexing myself trying to read all the options are:
I stand corrected about the spa culture in Pennsylvania. It is alive and well in Bedford Springs. The indoor and outdoor pools are heated with mineral spring water. The hotel, now operated by Omni, is an historic building as well as a health resort from another era. The historic Bedford Springs Hotel was a favorite of many presidents of the US. The healing waters were taken internally as well as used in bathing. The existence of 8 different sources makes this a very special location. The revival of the hotel to a glorious state of the art facility warms my heart, and will warm my body in September. I love to visit places that have been in continuous use as health resorts for centuries. They acquire a certain culture that is always interesting and usually healthy too.
As an historic landmark the hotel building has very specific restoration standards. They are exacting. A source of water was discovered during the renovation that is known as Spring Eternal. The new deluxe spa is named after this spring. The large property was purchased by Dr Anderson in 1796 for development as a health center. His approach included diet and exercise as well as use of the healing waters. The inclusion of local botanicals as well as the spring water is still part of the treatments at the fancy new facility. I look forward to taking a dip, wishing the live musicians were still playing at the indoor pool. There is even an herbal steam room..be still my heart.
Investigating the possibilities to spa down in Pennsylvania, the past appeals to me much more than the present. The current favorite for PA visitors is the Hotel at Hershey which has many chocolate ways to do body treatments. Oh dear, was that ever not what I had in mind. I looked for hot springs, which are almost non existent. The one that served as a health spa is now part of a state park near Pittsburgh. In the 1800s it was all the rage to take the waters and seek health in Beaver County. I wish my class reunion in Oakmont could end with a month of water taking, but, alas, that was a different century. This spring was closed in 1912. The lodge burned down in 1932 and was closed for good. The ghost people like it. If my own ancestors had been there I might be more into the hauntedness. What I am seeking is a big pool full of hot mineral water. This does not seem to exist. It looks like the only ones who do spa rituals in Pennsylvania are dead people and folks for whom chocolate is a travel destination…very interesting.