And… exhale.

I went for my free mini-facial and mini-massage today, which came out to be about an hour and a half of relaxation and pampering. Both the esthetician (Julie Blank) and the massage therapist (Brooke Wescott) work independently out of small rooms in the Pilates studio, which sounds awfully cramped but really isn’t. You might remember that the last time I had a massage at a day spa, I found the overall experience a bit unnatural. Today, somehow, even though the rooms were small, I didn’t get that same feeling. I think this is because both those spaces bear the stamp of the individuals who set them up and work in them; each of these ladies has set up her studio with all the care that any small business owner puts into her shop.

I had the facial first. The “skin care studio” is really tiny, no larger than a big walk-in closet. Nevertheless, it felt cozy and peaceful with plants and lit candles, and a welcoming bed. I didn’t know you lie on a bed to have a facial. I’d always assumed facials are done sitting up. But it definitely makes more sense to lie down. The facial consisted of face cleansing, massage, exfoliation, and steaming, followed by a neck and shoulder massage. Every time I get any kind of massage, I’m always reminded (with great pleasure) what a difference there is between being touched by a normal person and getting a massage from someone with proper training. There’s really no comparison. And I’d never had my face massaged before, so I really enjoyed that. The exfoliation and steaming, though, had me a bit antsy; the exfoliant tingled, and breathing in nothing but steam made me feel like I was suffocating. On the other hand, once the esthetician stopped the steam and cleansed off the exfoliant, my skin felt great. Julie put SPF 30 on me right before finishing up, to protect my skin after the exfoliation. I normally have pretty sensitive skin, so I expected my face to be unhappy after that treatment, but my skin still feels great. So I might go back and have another facial sometime; I’m not sure yet.

After the facial, I went directly to the room next door to have a massage. The massage therapist, Brooke, is cute and young-looking, and her room is much bigger than Julie’s for whatever reason. It also had plants and candles and a cozy bed, as well as an armchair, a window, and some nice rounded rocks for decoration. What really made me love Brooke, though, was that she had placed a goblet of water and a nice little spread of snackies out for me: strawberries (with the tops cut off, yay!), celery sticks, almonds, cheese crackers, oatmeal cookies, and bleu cheese and roasted pecan dip. I hadn’t had breakfast before my facial so this was utterly welcome, and everything was good, including the strawberries which were quite sweet. I think basically anyone who welcomes me with drinking water and plenty of snackies, especially snackies that include both salty and sweet, and good fresh fruit and cheese and oatmeal cookies, is going to win my heart. Note to anyone out there interested in winning such a prize. Hey, I know I’m married. I have heart to spare.

Since I was already so relaxed from the facial, I would have been happy just to sit in Brooke’s studio and eat snackies and drink lots of water (as I’m sure you can tell), but then I got to have a massage too! I got to pick which kind of Lush body butter she would use on me, and I chose the formulation for sensitive skin, which included avocado oil and something else I can’t remember. The massage itself was wonderful, too. I was especially happy with the way she massaged my wrists and hands. My tendinitis makes my wrists very sensitive — basically anything you do to them can be uncomfortable; they’re tight all the time — but Brooke did a great job and my hands and arms feel marvelous. So does my back. I hadn’t realized I was carrying a lot of tension in my middle and lower back, but once she started massaging my back I could tell. She pointed it out, too. I guess she must have made a lot of headway into easing out whatever kinks were there, because I’ve noticed since I got out of the studio that it feels easier to stand up really straight. Even walking is more comfortable.

So, overall, I’m extremely happy with my luxurious morning. I’m not sure yet whether I will go back for another facial, though I’d recommend Julie to anyone else who likes facials. I think generally I’m happy enough with my face that I’m just not really that interested in facials. But I will definitely be going back to Brooke.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been much less interested in shopping, since my Pilates class, for things that make me look better superficially, like clothes and shoes, as opposed to things that make me feel better and healthier. Okay so it’s been less than a week, but still. There is plenty of clothes shopping one can do in one week, for sure. Anyway, if what happens after this is I take the amount of money I’ve been spending on decorating myself, and put it toward Pilates and massage and maybe yoga instead, I’m sure I will be a lot happier, healthier, and really much better looking overall.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at I never did go back to either Julie or Brooke. I feel bad about that now!]