Thursday, March 30, 2006

Guilt Be Gone

February 6, 2006

Ojai Valley Inn
The morning was spent hiking the Cozy Dell trail (half hour to the summit where a commanding 180 degree view took my breath away), gleefully consumed breakfast and off to the day of self care I went. Set up against the green lush foothills, surrounded by manicured golf courses, the Ojai Valley Spa was the next stop on my adventure. I admit a sense of unworthiness crept in. I am a master at catching these pesky little critters and quickly banished them to the land of self-forgiveness. What DID I do before the USM days (ate boxes of cookies and jars of peanut butter, that’s what I did). Having firmly agreed that I deserved this rest, relaxation and peace and quiet, I began to enjoy the solitude and the calm nurturing atmosphere here. I took a 15 minute lap swim in the outdoor pool and felt almost giddy in the experience. Feeling bad about taking a Monday off for lil ole me quickly transformed into wanting to pinch myself at my good fortune. I mean why don’t I write a book about THIS – what it would be like to live the very life I want and enjoy it. I think I’ll invent a spray called GUILT BE GONE.

After the swim I made my way up to the coed lounge waiting like a queen to be announced and presented to her next activity. A tall willowy blonde named Harmony (or course) came to fetch me and lead me to the Kuyam treatment palace. Here I would lay in a sauna-type room with colorful tile lounge chairs, cold cucumbered water, a near freezing lavendered washcloth for my forehead and a small wooden dish of mud. My Kuyam neighbor seemed to have no problem disrobing and smoothing the cool gushy compound all over her – and I mean all over her. OK fine, I was a hippy once, I can do this. She offered to cover my back and I did the same for her. It was actually a very sensual exercise. She reassured me that the mud would actually lift some of the bags out from under my eyes and I thought Now that’s a plus. We laid back in our perspective chairs and listened to the guided visualization. I pictured myself skating (my standard guided imagery), holding Glenda and Papa’s hands, surrounded and supported as I gracefully slid my skates from one side of the rink to the next. My body began to shrivel under the mud’s influence, even after Harmony lightly sprayed my face with rose water. At least I think it was Harmony and I believe it was rose water. By then I was drifting in and out of consciousness, thoroughly entrenched in my “place to rest together” (the meaning of Kuyam) experience. As I was led to the showers to begin the de-mudding process, I felt like I had just run 26.2 miles. Body and mind both altered, feet not quite planted and nothing much mattered. The mud ran down the drain leaving my skin as smooth as silk pajamas. I was in aromatherapy heaven. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion all in sync, I walked out smelling like a sweet herb garden. Now it was nap time (hey, that was hard work!) A little snooze in the noontime sun, a turtle on a rock. I think we can learn something from turtles. I drank my peppermint tea and briefly wondered what activity I would slither over to next. Ah, the sauna. Dry or wet? The million dollar question. I decided to go the dry then wet route. Near-freezing washcloth in hand, I opened the dry sauna door and made myself comfortable on the bench. By now I am nude and loving it (I sound like Kramer on Seinfeld). 5 minutes was the recommended time so I stuck to that and barely got out alive. How much closer to Gumby legs can I get? Another nap was in order, a generous swig of cucumbered water and on to the wet room. Now this was a challenge. I was up to it but let me tell you when that steam came full force, I became one with the rainforest that was created in this room. Dripping with sweat, I pictured the mousse from the night before enthusiastically leaving my body making room for all the broccoli and green beans I would vow to feed it forever ahem. I gingerly rose up, found my lounge chair and hunkered down for my last bit of peace. I wondered what Jennifer Aniston was up to and briefly caught up with her in this week’s PEOPLE.

Before I left the sanctuary, I decided that maybe my book should chronicle a year of spa treatments. You know, like travel the country – no, the world - and try every treatment known to man. A facial in Poland, an herbal wrap in Switzerland, a Swedish massage in Sweden! Hike in the Rockies and conclude with a warm exfoliating/ aromatherapeutic mud session in Colorado. Settle into the Hot Springs in Vermont followed by an in-room shiatsu back massage (after pure maple syrup on my room-service pancakes of course). I think I am on to an idea, now to just be able to convince my accountant of the tax benefits…


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