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Patience, hard thing!

2007 has been a year of waiting and anticipating.

  • Waiting for the cold to arrive in an unusually warm early January.
  • Paying high home fuel bills in a frigid February while waiting for the cold to give way to spring warmth.
  • Taking on new-car payments for a 2007 Honda when I traded in my 2001 Honda that had 226,000 miles on it and, alas, needed a new transmission.
  • Singing the national anthem up to 10 times a day before a March 24 audition at Newark Bears Stadium, and continuing that regimen until my successful “Star Spangled Banner” debut at a May 15 Bears baseball game at the stadium before family and friends.
  • Getting in shape to run the Montclair 2-mile race and the Clifton High School Alumni Track Meet in early June.
  • Having to forgo those races and stop running from the end of May till mid-August while waiting to have and then recuperating from hernia surgery on July 13.
  • Feeling my own mortality and praying for high school classmate Dinah Krenitski and her two children after I received her early-summer e-mail that her husband, Bob Krenitski, who had run cross country and track with me in high school, had died of a blood clot to the heart in February.
  • Looking for another residence and then waiting to move to a golf-course condo rental in rural Montague, N.J., at the end of September when Frank decided in July to put his Montclair house, my residence since December 1994, up for sale in anticipation of his retiring and moving to be near his family in Georgia.
  • Figuring out my budget, publicizing my massage practice in northwest New Jersey and the nearby Poconos, and enjoying a shorter commute, less household cleaning, and more time for hiking, running, massaging, meditating, singing and solitude.

In this year of financial challenges, business ebb and flow, poignant partings and unexpected possibilities, I thank friends and relatives, clients and parrots for their support and affection. My life is suddenly less structured, more open to spur-of-the-moment visits, drives, explorations. As I expand my horizons, I welcome you into my new life.

Bless you all, in 2008 and always, and be well.

Technique of the month:

Reflexology on the feet

While I was receiving a much-anticipated, much-needed massage, the therapist gave me a mini-session of reflexology. As he worked the soles of my feet, I could feel the piercing pinpointing of his finger pressure, and I also felt my pelvis, the area that corresponded to where he was working, start to relax. Ahhhh!

Reflexology can have that overall effect. We often take our feet for granted, despite the burden they carry for us each day, and we don’t realize, as the theory of reflexology puts forth, that they are a map of the rest of the body. Getting each point to release and relax helps one’s overall physical body to release and relax, too.

That’s why, as a therapist, I love to start a session with reflexology. It allows my client’s body to get a head start on the overall relaxation even before I massage the neck and arms and legs and back. Those first five minutes that I spend on the feet set the foundation for all the “ahhhhs” to follow.

Stretch of the month:

Foam-rolling the ITBs and calf muscles

A foam roller is a cylindrical object that comes in various sizes and densities, with the denser rollers used for self-myofascial release. Upon recommendation of my personal trainer, Russ Teitsma (, I have been using a foam roller to ease tightness in my iliotibial bands and calf muscles.

For an ITB release on my left side, I lie on my side atop the foam roller, which is positioned below my hip. Balancing my body with my left arm, I slowly roll my body over the foam roller. When I hit a spot that’s particularly dense and tight and painful, I pause, counting to 15 (one one-thousand, two one-thousand, etc.) while the pressure of the foam roller helps the tight area to soften. I then continue down the upper leg to the knee, pausing when necessary, then foam-roll back up to the hip, again pausing when necessary. I repeat on the right side.

For the gastrocnemius and tibealis muscles in the lower legs, I do a three-part roll. Positioning the foam roller right below the knee in the upper center of the calf area, with the leg that is not being foam-rolled atop the leg being foam-rolled, I foam-roll toward the ankle, pausing when I feel a tight, painful area and counting to 15 (one one-thousand, two one-thousand, etc.). I then foam-roll back toward the upper calf, taking care not to foam-roll in the sensitive area directly behind the back of the knee. To address the outer muscles of the calf area, I turn my foot and leg outward and repeat the foam-rolling process. To deal with the inner muscles of the calf area, I turn my foot and leg inward and repeat the foam-rolling process.

Foam-rolling both the ITBs and calf muscles takes me about 10 minutes before I run. Even if some tightness pain in both areas remain, daily foam-rolling goes a long way toward making my legs feel more resilient as I run. Googling “foam roller” will direct you toward making an online purchase.

Hike of the month:

Intersecting the Appalachian Trail

One of the joys of moving to a new area is exploring roads that are new to me. And an invaluable aid in doing so is the Hagstrom Street Atlas for Morris and Sussex and Warren counties that I purchased from the AAA office at the Essex Green in West Orange.

One of the things the Hagstrom Street Atlas has helped me determine is which roads intersect the Appalachian Trail and its wonderful views as it traverses the Kittatinny Ridge from the Delaware Water Gap to Route 206 at Culver Lake. In previous years I had hiked the trail heading north and heading south after parking my car on Millbrook Road between Blairstown and Old Mine Road alongside the Delaware River.

On Sept. 14, I parked on the gravel driveway leading to Mohican Outdoor Center and hiked north, ending up at the Millbrook Road crossing before turning around for a hike that was about two hours in duration. On Oct. 21, I explored County Route 650, Deckertown Road, which straddles the border of High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest. I drove to the high point of Deckertown Road where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road before the road dives down into a residential area in Wantage Township. I had time that Sunday afternoon for only a 40-minute hike north on the trail, but the warmth of the afternoon and the solitude of the woods were welcome, indeed.

On Oct. 25, I drove with a friend, a New Jersey native now residing in Tucson, from Montague and Route 206 along Old Mine Road to the craft village Peters Valley. From there we turned south onto Route 615 through Walpack Center and toward Worthington State Forest. While my friend reveled in the orange and red hues, piney smells and running water – all sorely lacking in the Arizona desert – I headed toward Crater Lake on a road that, according to the Hagstrom map, would allow us to drive over the ridge.

The “No Outlet” sign was puzzling until we drove to the top of the ridge and discovered that a barrier across an unmaintained steeply downhill portion of the road prevented us from driving further. Furthermore, the road to Crater Laker was gravel and got narrower and more downhill as we entered further into the woods, passing a turnoff with a great view of the Warren County valley. After a mile or so, I used my better judgment and turned my Honda around back toward the safety of the paved road.

But, just as we left the gravel road, we spotted the familiar white blazes of the Appalachian Trail. Success! Although we didn’t hike there that day, I will be sure to return to that spot for my usual two to three hours of bliss hiking the AT.

Recipe of the month:

Sweet pasta sauce

With splurging on bottles of organic pasta sauce not in the budget right now, I experimented to make a simpler pasta sauce made sweet by the inclusion of ground-up sweet potatoes and carrots.

In a food processor, place:

1 medium sweet potato, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
A handful of broccoli florets
A large kale leaf
1/2 medium-sized red onion
Enough water to grind

Grind these into a pulp and spoon into a medium saucepan.

Add the contents of two small cans of tomato paste, half a medium sweet red pepper, chopped, a handful of grape tomatoes and enough water to make a stirrable sauce

Warm over low heat till it just about comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add some fresh basil and oregano and thyme (or sprinkle in some dried herbs) and a tablespoon of Celtic sea salt. Mix with your favorite cooked pasta. Eat and enjoy.

Until next time … stay in Heartful Touch.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy