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Friday, June 28, 2013

Over the years, I've had the amazing privilege of working with many cancer patients and survivors. These men and women have inspired me so much. Their courage, tenacity and strength of character was evident in every second of the time spent with me; their unspoken fear was also tangible. They did not give in. They pushed through.

Eve Gentry, a modern dancer, choreographer and one of the founders of the Core Dynamics method of Pilates instruction, was a breast cancer survivor, and a prime example of that special sort of sacred determination. When her massive mastectomy was performed in the mid-1950's, she was left without most of her pectoral muscles and without proper use of her shoulders. For anyone, this is debilitating, but for a dancer, this is the unthinkable.

Eve had been working with Mr. Pilates prior to her diagnosis and surgery, and when she returned to his studio after her procedures, he said, in his notoriously staunch and heavily accented German way, "...don't worry. We fix."

After working with Mr. Pilates, Eve regained full range of motion in her shoulders and arms. Her medical doctors were so astounded with her progress, they accused her of being a different woman than the patient they had treated! She returned to Mr. Pilates with the news, and he asked if she would agree to perform the exercises he had designed for her, topless, so as to prove she was the same person. They both also hoped to convince the medical community that Mr. Pilates was a viable rehabilitation technique for those in the same situation as Eve.

The archival footage of that workout still exists. As viscerally moving as it was, and still is, it failed to impress Ms. Gentry's doctors. In their mind, Joe Pilates had no formal medical training, and therefore dismissed his work entirely.

This dismissal still happens today in some rehabilitation circles. The tides are definitely changing, but the shift has been long and difficult. However, among physiotherapists in New Zealand and Australia, who have always been on the cutting-edge of innovative treatment, Pilates is a widely-used method within traditional rehabilitative settings, especially by incorporating the work of Brent Anderson, PhD, PT, OCS. There are a plethora of Pilates-based rehabilitation programs in that region, and there is even a fund set up for patients in need of such treatment. More on that next week!


(P.S. I am happy to say that the people I worked with undergoing treatment survived, and are living vibrant, full lives as world-travellers, mothers with  ninja tennis skills, and even Pilates teachers!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Simplicity: Spicing-Up Short Hair

As for many of us, summer tends to be filled with lake time, special occasion events and parties.  Last summer, I had multiple weddings and functions to attend.   I have short hair and didn't want my hair to look the same in any of them, so therefore I had to enlist in my creative juices...what I have found?  A tube of red lipstick and finding the right products for my hair go a long way!   I needed to find the right products for the look I desired and the less effort put into the style the better.  Can you tell I am a style and go type of girl?

Over the years, I have worn my hair shorter and longer.  I tend to shake things up a bit.  My face shape is oval and I am very lucky to be able to pull off many styles with ease.  When am I feeling my best?  When my hair is short and tapered.  There is no fuss or mess to work with other than throwing a little product in it and blow drying it.

When your hair is so short, you really have to break out the creativity skills and enlist in products that are going to help you create the perfect style!  My go to product has always been Redken 12 Rough Paste.  LOVE that stuff.  The product will allow you to spike, mold, and manipulate your hair and as long as you use just a little it will not weigh your hair down.  I can sometimes go 2 days if the proper amount is used with minimal adjusting of strands on day 2 and polish it off with Kenra 25 hairspray.

Also, in having short hair, you might find yourself limited to how you can style it.  My hair is naturally wavy so I usually can tell when my hair is going to cooperate or not.  If it is curling up on me, I just go with it.  I throw my basic curly products which for me includes John Freida's Dream Curls, TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier, and a little Rusk Wired Flexible Styling Creme....scrunch and go.  It takes me maybe 10 minutes to do and then I am running out the door.  If it is flat and lifeless, then I can throw my 'It's a 10' Blonde Leave-in Spray, blow dry my hair then just briefly bump it under using my straightener to give it some volume.  Simple and painless, just the way I like it!  Finding the right products that work for your hair is a major key in keeping your hairstyle simple.  It cuts down on my time getting ready.  It is less work for me in the long run.

Another way to keep a short hair spiced up and looking different is utilizing headbands and clips. I love fascinators.  I love clips, bows, is the easiest way to dress up a short style.  For those who get headaches, there are elastic headbands to which are loose as to not squeeze too hard.  I have found those work best for longer events like weddings, graduations verse the traditional hard horseshoe shaped ones.  There is so much varieties out there.  All headbands, fascinators, headpieces are relatively inexpensive.  I like going to Claire's or The Icing.  (please see below)

Last way to spice up your short hair style--throw some hair color in it!  Color is 'infinity and beyond' as far as color selections go.  I tend to wear highlights or go red depending on what my mood is.  They are easy to maintain and is another really great way to shake up your style.  Your hairstylist will be able to assist you in what color would best suit your skin type and tone.  Hair color brightens up any look and helps compliment your skin tone and over all appeal.

Below, I wanted to share with you ways I have spiced my short hair up over the years.  You will see family, friends, and some random flair from over the years.  Please know, that I have quite the variety.  :-)  Remember, beauty knows no limits!

-Catie Manning

Short Red Hair...

Sleek and natural color...

Curly little number

Highlights, headband, and MJ's Bachelorette Party :-)

Family Christmas Picture

Add a little length and a Peacock feather...

Short, curly with a little sass I suppose...

Bird lady...

Chicago flair

Rock Star with a simple pony tail


Monday, June 17, 2013

I need some space... :)

DISCLAIMER: I want to clarify one VERY important thing about where I stand: I LOVE FRIENDS. Love. Absolutely, undoubtedly, cannot get enough of friend-time. Being with people I care about is my favorite way to spend a day. I believe that it is important to try and work things out with friends when sticky situations arise. I think that it is important to be faithful to your friends and walk alongside them when they are going through a difficult time. But what I am about to write about focuses on a different side of friendship; it's geared for those of you who feel like you are in an unhealthy friendship with someone, and want to know how to make things a little easier. A quick story will be shared first for illustration as to what I mean by "unhealthy", and we will move on to what it will actually look like from there.

About three and a half years ago, I met a young woman in the city who seemed to be very easy to get along with. We met one night at church through acquaintances, and a group of us went out to dinner after service was over. Everything seemed normal; she was perfectly great with light conversation, asked questions about others, and offered little information about herself (this is typically normal-- not everyone is QUITE as outgoing as some for the first few weeks of a friendship). This girl seemed to enjoy my sense of humor, so we fell back from the crowd and walked alone for part of our excursion through the streets. We made jokes, we laughed, we were having a good time; no red flags, yet.

A few weeks went by, and this young woman became what I would consider to be a good friend. I didn't know much about her; she was pretty closed off about her personal life, but always wanted me to accompany her to dinner, trips to the suburbs, or just wanted to have me over for dinner. I enjoyed her company, but I began to notice that she had some emotional issues (but seriously-- to some level, everyone does. That is not what I am focusing on here). So as time went on, she began to open up with me. I was thrilled that she felt that she could trust me, because it had literally taken months for her to let me inside. There were more severe issues than I'd realized, but this didn't bother me at all. She was my friend, so I wasn't about to judge where she was currently at or where she'd been in her life. I just wanted to walk alongside her through her journey. 

Months turned into years, and things began to get shaky off and on. It's very hard for me to pinpoint where everything went "wrong", but I would guess that it was after some major changes and disappointments had happened in her life. Since we'd become such close friends, it seemed that she felt that it was okay to take out all of her life's frustrations on me instead of dealing with them within herself. When I offered advice, she shot it down and told me I didn't know what it was like. She closed herself off, the way she had when we barely knew each other. Things were literally like a roller coaster, and I had no idea when the next dip or loop-de-loop would happen. I just knew that I wanted happiness and wholeness for my friend, but it seemed like all she wanted to do was sulk in misery. There wasn't a piece of advice that I hadn't offered, a hug I hadn't given, or a shoulder that I hadn't lent for her to cry on; I did the "friend protocol". But no matter what, it was never enough. 

After what used to be a friendship had turned into a codependent relationship, I realized that my life would be a lot more full if I had less of this friend in it. That's not to say that I hated her, was annoyed with her, or wanted her out of my life-- but I did want more of myself back (we tend to lose ourselves in unhealthy relationships, believe it or not). I began to withdraw slowly, but never intended for it to end the way that it did. I wanted to put up some boundaries, and hoped that she would abide by them. I made everything as clear as possible, as to how I felt and what I needed for both of us to do. But, like most hard conversations-- it seemed to go in one ear, and out the other. I continued to "back off", and she began to notice. I began getting the mean text messages, the passive-aggressive phonecalls, the lengthy attack emails-- all of that fun stuff :) But in the midst of it all, I knew I had to stick to my guns and keep backing off. Sure, there were parts of me that felt terrible and wanted to just fix it all-- but I knew that it wasn't within her capabilities at the time, because she refused to accept any responsibility for what our friendship had become. She didn't want to see that she was emotionally abusing me. 

So what does that all mean? If you're having a prolonged hard time with a friend, you should immediately go and unfriend her from Facebook and delete her number from your phone? No-- don't do that quite yet :) There's no reason to be hostile at this point-- especially if you feel like there is a possibility that things can work out and get better. In my case, there were literally months of struggle-- it was not a spur of the moment decision to do what I did. I had think a lot about it, pray about it, and focus on what would be best for both of us. When I realized that things would most likely be much better for her if she no longer had me to depend on in the manner that she was, I knew it was time for changes to happen.

Do you have a relationship with someone similar to the one I described? I'm NOT, by ANY MEANS, suggesting that you stop talking to them altogether. In fact-- I am suggesting that you try to talk things out with them; tell them how you are feeling. The only reason to completely cut someone off, in my personal opinion, is if there is physical violence happening-- or if your immediate health is in danger. Otherwise, try reading over these in-the-meantime steps to help make your unhealthy relationship(s) a little more bearable and perhaps fixable:

1. Tell them how you feel. Let them know, "Hey-- I care about you as a friend, and I want things to be okay between us. Here is how I've been feeling about things between us __________". Being honest is the best solution in ANY relationship, especially with those that you care about. So if you feel like someone is being overbearing, are blaming you for things you didn't do, or are just taking things out on you because they have no one else to take them out on, let them know that you are hurt by that. That way, they can never say "Well you never told me you felt that way".

2. Limit the communication you have with this person for a while. If they are texting you left and right, at all hours of the day-- perhaps only text them back once or twice a day. Don't be at their every beck and call; if they are not your spouse, they should not be at the center your entire universe :) If you don't feel like you are constantly going back and forth with this person, you will most likely feel less stressed at the end of the day. And more often than not, this person will get the hint and stop texting you/calling you AS MUCH.

3. Recognize when someone is "crying wolf". I know I can certainly tell when any of my friends is getting a little too clingy, and when it's time to start looking at their motives in their friendship with me. Are they calling you or texting you for every little thing, and always bringing their baggage to your feet? If so, it's best to try and recreate a better boundary system between the two of you. It's never easy on either side, but it's better to draw the boundary and recognize these things early on in the situation. Letting things fester is never good.

4. Talk to a third party about how you feel-- but do NOT allow them to get sucked in the middle. In fact, find someone who has never met the person that you are dealing with. That way, the temptation of choosing sides won't even be on the table. Once you've found this person to vent with, see what their input is. A third party is always the best route to go, because they can be objective because they are not directly involved.

5. Do things to take your mind off of your frustrations-- go out for a walk, get together with some friends, pick a room in your apartment and clean the crap out of it :) Sitting and thinking about a situation for too long is usually poisonous, because our thoughts tend to go too far and usually in the wrong direction if we are not in the right frame of mind. That's also why it's best to have an objective person to keep us accountable. So if you had a hard conversation with that person you're dealing with, hang up the phone peacefully and put on your sneakers-- go outside. Go get some coffee-- ask your neighbor if they want to go along. Try to take your mind off of it by doing things that you love. Once the dust settles, you will be able to return to the situation peacefully.

Unhealthy friendships are extremely easy to slip into, especially when things get deep between friends. If you feel like someone is literally sucking the life out of you, or if you feel like you might be sucking the life out of one of your friends-- just take a step or two back. Reevaluate the situation, but don't reevaluate the friendship. Make your intentions clear within yourself as to why you are friends in the first place, and try to work toward that. But when times are sticky between friends, it's important to have the ability to walk away from the situation for some fresh air. In any relationship or friendship, it's important to make sure that both parties are heard, and both parties can get the space that they need when needed.

If you're at all worried that "If I need space and take it, my friend will no longer want to be friends with me anymore"-- I've found that the people worth being friends with will more than likely still be there and waiting to fix things when you're ready. Some people, however, are what I like to think of as "seasonal"; not necessarily life-long friends, but were definitely needed at a certain point in your life. My guess is this: the girl that I was such close friends with before, was probably not meant to be a life-longer for me. I enjoyed each moment of our friendship, even the hard ones. But as things became more and more clear that it would be better for both of us for me to walk away, I went with my gut instinct. It wasn't easy, but I did what needed to be done.

If you feel even a little bit better about your situation (if you're in one right now), then that's great :) Know that you aren't alone-- we've all been there. Go and find someone to dialogue with about your situation, and try to figure out what the next steps should be for you. As I said before, it's better to not let things fester-- it will only get better if you are proactive to some extent. I am all about reconciliation-- please leave this entry knowing that. I do not enjoy divides among people, but I do enjoy seeing people at their utmost best peaceful state; it's hard to be peaceful when another person is constantly dragging you downward. So take today to focus on your emotional needs, set up some boundaries, and enjoy life :)

-Melissa Mancini, counseling student

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Restoring Dignity: Coping with Cancer

How much we take for granted!  This was my exact thought upon reading this article:

Health and beauty is not all about vanity and self-absorption.  It is about representing yourself in such a way that is respectable and truly reflects yourself.  Women who have to go through radiation and chemotherapy may not understand the fullness of this treatment for cancer and the negative affect is has on their outward appearance.  I believe we all take our hair and features for granted.  We never fully realize their purpose or impact on us until they are gone.

Cancer is such an ugly and harsh word that is forever becoming a common reality for humans to learn to deal with and maneuver.  Learning to fight, heal, and cope is a lot of this battle.  Part of the coping does include allowing others to help get us back to a presentable comfortable self that we can look at in the mirror and say, "Yes, this is the new me...and although it is not the old me, I will embrace my new look!"  

It might seem like a little thing--penciling in someone's vacant eyebrows, applying a fresh palate of colors to a seemingly peaked chemo drained face and helping find a wig of their liking--but, it makes a huge impact on our self-esteem and perception of self.  This is not vanity as much as it is restoring a person's dignity.  This is where the health and beauty field can assist in this healing and coping of such a disease.  

Just how beautiful it is to help someone feel a little bit more comfortable in such a situation.  I truly believe it will help them feel better in the short and long term.  

Another very cool little find?  The company, Ski and Livi, was established to empower women dealing with cancer through their very unique jewelry line.  This might be something to consider if you know someone who has lost their hair or will be due to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  What is the uniqueness behind Sky and Livi?  They create diamonds through a lock of hair.  
Check them out:  What brilliance!

Beauty knows no limits....
Catie Manning, Hairdresser

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Case of "The Mondays..."

My case of "The Mondays" began last night. At about 8pm, classic symptoms set in-- a knot formed in my stomach,  I had shortness of breath, jaw tension and a horrid case of wanting to crawl out of my skin.

So of course I stayed up far too late, trying my best to enjoy the last vestiges of my weekend.  Flash to this morning. Sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated and overzealous, I made my to-do list. It had 27 items on it, not including my actual job.

The wise part of me suggested I work out as soon as possible, so I'd have energy to deal with the 26 other things on my list, and then go to work. But of course, I procrastinated. Then The Mondays kicked back in, and I found myself hours from needing to be at work, not having worked out, and having only accomplished about a third of my list. Sadness.

How was I ever going to motivate myself to work out?!?!

Yes, fitness professionals do struggle with staying motivated, like the rest of the population. Granted, it was MUCH easier to stay motivated when I lived in Orange County. The beach, a studio or gym on every corner, hiking trails, SUNSHINE. It was easy and fulfilling to work out every single day. But here in Chicago, where summer seems to be on sabbatical this year, and there are 27 things on my Monday to-do list, working out seems like an impossible task.

I then recalled some advice from my mentor Rael and my former kettlebell trainer, Aidas. Rael runs an international company, is a talented artist, scientist and athlete, and has a family. Aidas was in the Lithuanian military.  Two distinctly different individuals. Two very different pieces of advice.

Rael's advice: "Make a playlist. I cannot train without music...also realize that not every workout will be an amazingly spiritual experience...sometimes it is just a workout." "And walk...walking is powerful..."

Aidas's advice: "You think too Pilates people are always in your heads...don't think, just do." Another tip was written on one wall of the gym, in what would appear to be blood spatter: "WE SHARE PAIN, NOT FEELINGS!"

Enough said. I made a playlist, stopped thinking and started moving. My workout is now done. I did not achieve a PR was only a workout--but I did it!

Now off to work. And thankfully, I'll most likely have tommorow to tackle the rest of my list.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Take time for yourself

I'm currently sitting on the deck outside in South Carolina.  It has been a full year since I took my last vacation.  It's been too long. Why is it that even though I have a job that allows me plenty of vacation time... I don't take vacation?  I forget to take care of myself. But I'm learning when money and vacation time allow, I need to take it. Not just for me but for my but for my patients and clients too.

Taking time for yourself helps you to remember who you were created to be. It helps you to evaluate your life and what you want to change.  It helps you to recharge and be able to give others your all. It allows you to assess the lifestyle changes good or bad that you have made. It allows you to simply be you.

So, my dear readers. If possible plan some you time. Time with the people you consider to be your family in a place with no agenda. Take time to assess where you are at, where you have been, and where you want to go. Look at your life and everything you are thankful for. You, my dear friend, are worth taking time for yourself!

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