Finding Simplicity (It’s Not Where You Think)


by Erin Gaus (

It was one of those restless nights in my family where we were all fighting a terrible head cold. My three year old ended up in our bed, as three year olds with colds are wont to do, and we all had a pretty horrible night’s sleep.

Well, except the three year old, who awoke miraculously healed and ready to EAT.  I rolled out of bed to take his breakfast order.

“Carrots and Wanch Dwessing”, he said confidently.

I paused. Because, you see, I have pretty firm ideas about what qualifies as breakfast food and what doesn’t, and “Carrots and Wanch Dwessing” was pretty much off the breakfast radar.

I have these rigid ideas about a lot of things. What spoon I use to make scrambled eggs. Where the throw pillows go on the couch. How the beds are made.

When my husband protests I explain that it’s all in an effort to make our lives more ORGANIZED and therefore, simple.

I’ve not just a need, but a drive to “put things in their place” and “keep things in order”.  I’ve amassed an impressive collection of menu planning apps, day planners and to-do list organizers. I’m a sucker for advertisements that target “busy moms.”  My perfect day revolved around the mantra: “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  The idea that I should “embrace the chaos” was not one I subscribed to. Although honestly, I didn’t know why. I just knew that it seemed like I was amassing a lot of stuff in the name of simplicity.

The idea carried over into my treatments with Anita. I would hit the table with a mission; “I need fixed HERE. Let’s do this.” And she would get to work. I would fidget impatiently as her hands would hit the farthest point away from where I hurt. She would say gently “Does this feel tight?” “Well, yeah,” I would reply, “But Anita, it hurts HERE.” With a sly smile that basically said “patience grasshopper” she would move through her routine, working and gently stretching and as I relaxed into the treatment I realized that why, YES that is really solving the problem, isn’t it? Silly grasshopper.

So, if going with the flow in my pain therapy treatment had such amazing results, why not give it a shot in, well, LIFE?

Back to that morning breakfast situation.

As I stood there in an early morning congestion-induced haze. I had an epiphany.


“Carrots and Wanch it is!” I said.

I carried a little toddler sized portion of carrots and ranch, along with two very grown up sized coffees, back up the stairs (because – GASP! – we were going to eat IN BED!). Our usual breakfast was full of such BIG things; full of “must eat this” and “hurry and finish”, but today it full of giggles, morning cartoons, cute dogs stealing carrots, and all manner of wonderful things.

No overthinking. No tantrums.

Simplicity found in embracing the chaos. Not fighting it. Who knew?

The Story Behind Your Stiff Neck


If you’ve ever suffered with a stiff neck, chances are your Levator Scapulae muscle had something to do with it. Trigger points (tender contraction knots in muscle fibers) in the fibers of thi smuscle commonly restrict normal turning of the head, and cause pain in the areas illustrated below.


 Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual Volume 1 by Travell & Simons’, p. 501

Any activity that tips or tilts the neck in a way that shortens the fibers of this muscle for an extended period of time can result in Levator trigger points. Consider the following possibilities:

  • Sleeping with the neck tilted to one side for much of the night;
  • Secretarial/deskwork generally;
  • Walking with a cane that is too long;
  • Sitting in one direction with the head & neck turned in another for extended periods of time.

Stress strongly impacts this muscle as well. We instinctively respond to perceived threats by dropping our heads and raising our shoulders in a ducking motion. In today’s world, traffic jams, financial worries, interpersonal conflicts, chronic pain and more, can trip off the the body’s freeze-fight-or-flight response. Since this muscle contracts every time it moves the shoulder blade towards the ear, you can appreciate how it could become fatigued and overworked when constant stress is in the mix.

Therapeutic release of the trigger points in the Levator Scapulae, as well as other inter-related muscles, helps to quickly relieve the problem. Untreated muscles can seem to recover with the passage of time, but often leave residual stiffness and reduced mobility behind. Over time, this can translate into chronically-restricted neck motion. You might believe that “you just have to live with it” but most of the time this is simply not the case.

Proper self-care can also alleviate pain by releasing and lengthening the muscle fibers. While it is best to learn and practice self-treatments with a trained practitioner first, one technique described by Janet Travell, MD can be summarized as follows:

  1. Sit on a stool or chair (under a running shower is best);
  2. Drop shoulder on the affected side, let that arm hang free, and relax the neck as fully as possible;
  3. Use the opposite hand to help GENTLY turn the head to the unaffected side and down towards the armpit to take up the slack in the muscle. At the same time, the free arm reaches towards the floor for more of a stretch. (see illustration)
  4. Repeat, with varying degrees of head rotation to release the muscle fibers of all directions.

If you are struggling with this or any other muscular pain and restrictions, and you’re ready to make a change, we will happily help you construct a health improvement plan tailored to your particular issue. Contact me to schedule an appointment today!

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

Getting the Kinks Out for Spring


It’s neither too early nor too late to focus on Spring—a hallmark of fresh starts and new beginnings. Many of us “spring clean” our homes in order to clear out the old, outdated items and prepare for a lighter, cleaner environment. As the weather changes, we often get outside more or begin exercise programs to improve the appearance of our bodies for summer wardrobes.

Spring is an excellent time to take inventory of how our bodies “feel” and address pain or physical limitations that stunt our freedom of movement. Clients regularly tell me that they have had pain or stiffness for years, and believe that they have to live with it but most of the time this is NOT the case. Even long-term, stubborn pain or restricted mobility can be greatly improved with simple, conservative measures.

The first step is weighing the pros and cons of maintaining the status quo vs. seeking change.  This is a personal decision and change never seems to come easily for any of us. However, low grade, constant pain will eventually wear you down, physically and emotionally; the stress and inflammation linked to chronic pain may even lead to serious health crises down the road. Stiffness and restricted mobility will not spontaneously resolve either. Old sprains and strains tend to leave behind a residual stiffness that is barely noticeable at first, but “suddenly” appears when lifting a heavy object or trying a new activity. The stiffer we feel the less we move, and the less we move the stiffer we become over time. This cycle perpetuates itself unless we find the way to break out of it. The truth of the matter is that some focused bodywork and easy self-treatment techniques can free movement and alleviate pain quite readily. Once pain and stiffness start to resolve, the body feels lighter and is able to move freely again. Believe it!

The next step involves taking action to make a change. Many viable options exist to deal with pain that do not involve taking pills or undergoing surgery. Talking with a wellness professional is an excellent place to start, as is reaching out to a friend or relative who has dealt with a similar challenge successfully. Figuring out what can work for you takes a bit of exploring, and it is certainly worth the effort. Most people will be happy to share their experiences, their advice or their skills when asked.

Interested in learning more about healthy transformation? Change is a topic on many people’s minds, and this blog post from friend and wellness advocate Sharise Hemby addresses the issue of how to approach change and what steps to take to stop thinking about it and make it happen!

Inflammation Fighting Recipe: Turmeric Latte


I recently shared a recipe for Turmeric, or “Golden”, Milk as a way to incorporate the inflammation fighting powers of this spice into your everyday diet. Now, I’ve amped it up a bit with the addition of Black Pepper and Coconut oil. The addition of the pepper and a fat are reported to increase the benefits of Turmeric.


As an added bonus, the warm and frothy (non-dairy) milk makes the perfect sleep aid! Make this before bedtime and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.


Turmeric Latte


  • 2 cups non -dairy milk (I used a combination of Coconut and Almond for this recipe)
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp fresh or ground Turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 drop of doTERRA™ Cinnamon essential oil

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil whisking constantly.  Reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. Whisk again immediately before serving to make the milk frothy (like a latte!) and enjoy.


The Two Faces of Inflammation


Inflammation is supposed to be our body’s natural weapon against injury, pain, illness and stress. The minute we cut our finger, get the flu, or sprain an ankle our body jumps into action to try to eliminate the harmful stimulus and begin healing. So how can it be that the same system that was designed to protect and serve can also lead to serious health problems like chronic pain, depression, heart disease, and cancer, just to name a few? Let’s review some inflammation basics and learn to recognize the danger signals of unwanted inflammation and how to eliminate it from our bodies.

“Inflammation” has become an infamous buzzword in recent years, synonymous with ill health and disease.  But not all inflammation is created equal. When one of my children recently suffered an ankle sprain in a sporting event, I watched the inflammatory process unfold step-by-step and was reminded that inflammation is a natural and necessary part of healing.

Inflammation means “in flames” or “on fire”.  Immediately after an injury, the body sets a cascade of biochemical reactions in motion geared to make the injured person feel it, stop moving it, and allow healing begin. This “acute” type of inflammation usually lasts a short time, and is characterized by these typical signs:

  • Pain– if it didn’t hurt you might make things worse by using it when it is injured;
  • Red and Hot- increased blood flow warms the injury and carries leukocytes to help clean up the injury site;
  • Immobility-some loss of function prevents you from re-injuring the area;
  • Swelling– the excess fluid carries an abundance of healing substances and also makes using the injured part clumsy and sensitive.

The problem arises when inflammation becomes prolonged, chronic and low level. An inflammatory process without an “off” switch turns a useful system into one that contributes to all sorts of health crises. Since a big part of the inflammatory process involves targeting and breaking down damaged tissue and unwanted pathogens, an unregulated system can get out of control and target healthy tissue too. This is what eventually can lead to illness. Some of the risk factors for rogue inflammation include:

  • Prolonged Stress
  • Poor Sleep (quantity and quality)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Overtraining
  • Toxic Diet

By paying attention to your body’s signals, you can receive clues about whether inflammation might be affecting your health. For instance, ongoing, irritating body pain, especially in the muscles and joints, can be a signal of chronic inflammation. Similarly, constant fatigue or lethargy is another alert. Other signs include: allergies or asthma, especially if they keep worsening; skin problems, red, irritated eyes, and generalized swelling are also said to be possible indicators of unwanted inflammation. If you have concerns that your health might be affected by inflammation, talk to your primary health care provider. Specific tests can determine your levels precisely.

We also have the power to control and reduce unwanted inflammation with small, gradual changes and daily choices. Here are a few suggestions to get the process started:

  • Exchanging some processed foods with fresh produce and whole foods at each meal;
  • Adding some form of movement each day, be it stretching, walking, gardening, weight training, aerobics, or any other activity that you enjoy.
  • If you engage in daily strenuous exercise, schedule time off to let your body recuperate—your performance and your health will improve.
  • De-stress–and be creative about it–meditation and regular bodywork are excellent, so are watching your favorite funny show, relaxing with a book, trying something new, and spending quality time with positive, supportive friends and family.

Inevitably, we will all encounter inflammation at various times in our lives. Sometimes it helps us overcome a health issue, and other times it could bring on trouble. Use our suggestions as a starting point to create balance in your body and keep inflammation in check. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list for more tips and information on handling inflammation and other health problems naturally and effectively.


The Secret to Staying Motivated


“Motivation” means: “having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.”

All week I knew I needed to sit down and write this blog, but I waited…and waited…and waited. I was waiting for the inspiration—the “motivation” to do it.  I read articles, spoke to friends and colleagues, jotted notes, and then realization struck: I needed to actually sit down and write, without worrying about run-on sentences or even expressing my ideas precisely, JUST SIT DOWN AND DO IT.

In that moment I realized that motivation gives you the REASON to pursue a goal, but only ACTION will take you there.

Whether your goal is eliminating chronic pain, eating healthier, improving your fitness, or something else, you need to start now and keep taking consistent actions toward your objective. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Write down your goal, and why you want it. Prominently placed Post-it notes, as well as a vision board can bring your objectives to life.
  2. Set realistic, short term goals that can be achieved in the immediate future; success fuels more success;
  3. The mind is extraordinarily powerful, so use it to your advantage. Picture yourself doing what you wish you could. Think about what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. Relaxation therapies, meditation, yoga, and many other techniques exist to help retrain the brain.
  4. Don’t wait for motivation. It actually works the other way around. Get to work on your goal and the energy of your own actions will inspire more of the same.
  5. Use a proven plan and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out others who have already achieved what you want– they will probably be more than happy to help. Self-help audio books are also a great resource and you can listen to them anywhere and anytime.

Now, my challenge to you…

What have you been trying to accomplish but blaming your “lack of motivation” for your lack of progress? Is it tackling a health issue, making a lifestyle change, or improving your diet and exercise habits? Today, try just one of my action items to get you started, and I promise that the small step forward, that ACTION, will give you the MOTIVATION you need to achieve your goals.

Need a little more help? Check out our new video series, #MotivateMe. In it, we talk to some of our friends to learn their secrets for getting and staying motivated. This month, we feature Melissa Vertosick, certified holistic health coach and owner of The Whole Life Approach.

Natural Solutions for Pain and Healing: Creamy Carrot and Turmeric Soup


Turmeric is a wonderful natural anti-inflammatory ingredient that can easily be added to a variety of recipes. Recently, we shared one of our favorites, “Golden Milk”. This soup, served with the easy-to-make parmesan crackers,  is a another great way to incorporate the golden spice into your everyday diet.

Creamy Carrot and Turmeric Soup

3 medium onions, sliced
8-10 carrots, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
broth-vegetable or chicken broth–about 8 cups
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon coconut or grapeseed oil


Sautee the onions in the oil until soft. Add the other vegetables, spices and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer until all veggies are soft. Puree most of the veggies to make a cream-style soup.
Top with crumbled Parmesan crackers–recipe below


Parmesan Crackers

  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, (2 1/4 ounces)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick baking sheet. (Do not use cooking spray.)
  • Mound level tablespoonfuls of cheese about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake until the cheese is melted, soft and a very light golden color, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely for about 20 minutes. Lift the crackers off the baking sheet using a thin spatula.

Making a “Now” Resolution


As we enter the holiday season “full on” as my kids would say, we can become overwhelmed by the many tasks that come with this time of year: extra work, shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning and stressing about all types of “problems”.  The time and energy crunch tempts us to neglect our own wellbeing now with a promise to do better next year.

I am inviting all of you to join me today, not in 2015, to find easier ways to stay on the path towards improving wellness. Whether your challenge is dealing with chronic pain, improving your diet, exercising regularly, or reducing excess stress, I believe that it is easier maintain consistency (or even just make a plan) NOW, rather than procrastinate or lose control. The increased energy and confidence that comes from taking positive steps is worth the effort.

 We can often sabotage our goals by trying to be “perfect” from the outset. Set yourself up for success by just doing a little everyday toward what you want to achieve. The challenge to reaching what we want is to stay on track.

 Some simple ways to start or stick to your goals could include:

  • Taking 10-15 minutes daily to breathe, meditate or stretch
  • Joining a group exercise class
  • Scheduling a wellness appointment
  • Connecting with positive people and groups
  • Easting regular meals

 It’s easier than you think. If you don’t know where to start, ask someone whose healthy habits you admire. It’s my experience that people are happy to share their “health secrets” with other who are trying to improve themselves.

 Here’s to a happy and stress-free holiday season for all!

Natural Solutions for Pain and Inflammation: “Golden Milk”


I’ve been reading a lot about the inflammation fighting power of Turmeric lately. Turmeric is the special ingredient in your curry that makes it yellow. It turns out that it is also a potent natural anti-inflammatory as well.


There are quite a few ways to take advantage of the power of Turmeric, but the tastiest is probably a drink known as “Golden Milk”.  Made many different ways golden milk is a great way to not only include turmeric in your diet, but when taken at night it is an excellent promoter of sleep.


While you can use a blend of coconut and almond mil in the drink, I used coconut milk alone mostly because that was what was readily available in my pantry! The addition of black pepper can enhance the anti-inflammatory abilities of Turmeric as well, although I didn’t choose to add it in this time. I also used a powdered ginger, but fresh sliced ginger would have made a better addition if strained out prior to drinking.  Not a fan a coconut milk? Use water and make a tea!


“Golden Milk”

Makes one serving

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger root (or a few thinly sliced and peeled rounds of fresh ginger root)

Whisk ingredients in a small pan over medium heat until simmering. Pour into a cup and enjoy (strain if using fresh ginger)


Massage Cupping


I am pleased to introduce a new technique here at Power of Touch Wellness: Massage Cupping.

Massage cupping is a modified version of “Cupping Therapy” which has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. In Massage Cupping, the cups create suction and negative pressure. They may be “parked” in a stationary position, picked up and pulled across the skin in a gliding motion, or manipulated in a variety of other ways, depending on the treatment goal. Some of the benefits of cupping include:

  • Calming the nervous system
  • Drawing out metabolic waste and toxins
  • Increasing circulation and hydration of the tissue
  • Relaxing taut tense muscles and knots

Clients often describe the sensation of the cupping technique as a warm and “tingling” feeling, often lasting long after the session is complete. The therapy itself is so relaxing that I often find patients drifting off to sleep on the table!

Massage Cupping complements all of our other treatments, from Pain Therapy to AromaTouch. It is quickly becoming one of my “go-to” therapies because of the positive, relaxing effect it has on the nervous system. When the nervous system is calm, the rest of the body will follow suit. Tight hamstrings, sore necks and backs and resistant, long-term issues readily give way after cupping.

For those who have seen the celebrities showing off their cupping marks a/k/a “cup kisses,” have no fear—cupping does not always leave marks, and specific techniques can be used to avoid them altogether. Also, these marks are evidence of healing, not pain or trauma.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with us, please contact me today!