Getting drilled by Mary Panza and other miscellaneous Solstice thoughts and confessions 

As I prepare for Christmas and my trip, I’m also trying to keep myself in a routine for exercise, sleep and meals. I know I feel better when I’m keeping things in balance, which makes the effort worth the effort.

Of late, a good week of activity involves 2-3 yoga classes, 2 long walks with Jeter and 3 five mile runs. I’ve been nailing that schedule for 3 out of 4 weeks a month, a frequency with which I can live.

I’m doing my best.

My original plan had been a walk/yoga class combo for Wednesday, but there was something about the Solstice that felt significant somehow. I felt the need to mark the year’s shortest day, or longest night depending upon your perspective, with a run.

By the time I got out, after the dog walk and dinner,  it was after 7:00, which was an ideal time to see the slightly less than full moon hanging over the Empire State Plaza in the distance. It was a beautiful night to take my usual loop and my legs felt strong and they moved with an ease I haven’t felt in months.. I thought about how fortunate I am that my body cooperates with my need to move it. It was a really good run.

I truly believe that the strength and flexibility of my physical self is something that I can not take credit for exclusively. Yes, I work hard to exercise regularly and eat and sleep well, but I have to acknowledge the benefits I’ve received through regular massage therapy.

Since my first experiences with body work decades ago, I’ve appreciated the benefits of massage. Yes, it’s lovely to stretch out on a heated table and surrender to the ministrations of a professional massage therapist, but there’s more to it than simply relaxing. The type of massage that my body demands is more active than that.  During a typical session, I frequently find myself assuming awkward positions and extending my limbs to maximize the effects.

It is not simply being kneaded by capable hands

It is not passive.

I’ve been under the care of a number of different massage therapists over the years, but my latest partner in body care happens to be one of my oldest friends in this area. In fact, she’s the very first person I met in Albany. Which is kind of funny because she is most decidedly a Troy girl, specifically South Troy.

Mary Panza and I go back to the late 80s. We shared some pretty wild adventures, which I’d be happy to share with you if only so many of the details weren’t fuzzy. They were very good times, shall we say.

Our most recent appointment was absolutely incredible. I walked into the massage room with an idea which had occurred to me when I was in bed earlier in the week trying to get comfortable. It seemed that when I was on my side with my legs stacked and my top leg extended, my hip and glute were both wonderfully stretched. I mentioned this to Mary and invited her to dig in.

Sometimes in life one gets what they ask for…

I’m uncertain which of her own body part(s) Mary used to access the deep tissue and muscles of my ass, hips and thighs but I’m telling you it was life changing! Her skills and technique broke up knots I’ve had for longer than I’ve had my plantar fibromas – and that’s saying something!

I ran that same night with a friend and I’m sorry to admit that I couldn’t restrain myself and match my pace to hers – I needed to go faster. That is unusual for me. I’m a slow but steady runner, usually. My legs felt amazing. Instead of the heavy, lumbering limbs I’ve been dragging around for literally the last couple of years, I felt a welcome lightness. It felt easy.

On that particular night, and others since then, I’ve also noticed a shift in my hips. It’s almost as if they had been turning in, rather than moving fluidly in their joints and rotating freely. I had initially assumed this was some sort of celibacy injury (ha ha!), but now I think it might be something a bit more structural in nature.

I do believe Mary will be revisiting this area at our next visit.

I can barely wait.

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