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Set aside some time for yourself

The new year often brings renewed efforts to work out, to shed some unwanted pounds, to eat better. To that list, I invite you to add one item: “Schedule massage.”

Massage is a welcome adjunct to one’s health regimen. It promotes heightened body awareness and a better feeling about oneself. It incorporates gentle stretching and aids in circulation to help the body relieve workout soreness, release waste products and heal itself in ways large and small. It provides relaxation, an escape from the stress of the day, something to look forward to.

So, when you’re looking at setting time aside daily or weekly for exercise, consider setting time aside, too, for massage. Start the new year right by e-mailing or calling 973-901-2306 to schedule one or a series of sessions (check out the Packages and Specials page for discounts). And, as noted on the home page of this Web site, I’m making available some weekday appointments in 2007 in addition to my weeknight and weekend massage time.

Pick a time and day and contact me now. What a pleasure it will be when appointment day rolls around and you know you have set aside some well-deserved relaxation time for yourself on my massage table.

Water vs. Coca-Cola

From the Internet, something to pique a healthy curiosity.


  1. 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half the world population.)
  2. In 37 percent of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.
  3. Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism 3 percent.
  4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100 percent of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
  5. Lack of water is the No. 1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
  6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80 percent of sufferers.
  7. A mere 2 percent drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
  8. Drinking five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79 percent, and one is 50 percent less likely to develop bladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of water you should drink every day?


  1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
  2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.
  3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the “real thing” sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.
  4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
  5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
  6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
  7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy
  8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into the load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.

It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

For your information:

The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase of osteoporosis.
To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial trucks must use a hazardous material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean engines of the trucks for about 20 years!

Now the question is, would you like a glass of water, or Coke?

Technique of the month:

Direction of energy

It may seem simple, simplistic or even nonsensical, but placing one’s hands in front and back of a body part, and sending energy from one hand to another can really effect change in body tissue.

John Upledger, the developer of CranioSacral Therapy, reported such a change in his book “Your Inner Physician and You.” When he injured his eye, he placed one hand over his eye and put his other hand behind his head, with his fingers directing energy toward his injured eye. He soon felt healing heat and heard a pop, and after what he deemed to be a sufficient amount of time, he removed his hands and saw and felt that the injury to his eye had healed.

I use this technique as part of a CranioSacral Therapy session when my hands are opposite each other — one hand atop the abdomen and one below the back, or one bordering the clavicle and one below the lower cervical spine. Both my client and I can feel the heat that my hands generate as I intention general healing for that area as well as invite release of stress by my client.

Recently, during a 90-minute massage in which a majority of the time was spent doing deep-tissue work on a client’s trapezius and nearby muscles, I ended the session by doing some gentle direction of energy between the client’s chest and his scapula. It was a gentle yet potent way to bring the session to a close.

Try it yourself. While you are seated, place one hand atop your thigh and one hand opposite it on the back of your thigh. Imagine a beam of white light going from the top palm to the bottom palm. Hold it for 5 minutes or so and experience any healing heat you might generate.

Stretch of the month:

Side stretch

Lie on your side, one leg atop the other, top hip and leg leaning ever so slightly forward, top arm lying atop side and top leg. Place bottom arm perpendicular to your body, palm placed beneath your bottom shoulder. Straighten bottom arm to raise torso, making sure that torso and legs do not lean back. Look up and over your top shoulder. Breathe out for two seconds (one one-thousand, two one thousand). Breathe in and relax bottom arm. Straighten bottom arm again and repeat stretch. Do stretch 10 times each side.

Hike of the month:

South Mountain Reservation, Millburn/Maplewood/South Orange, N.J.


FEATURES: This loop hike includes a panoramic viewpoint, a scenic waterfall, and a stroll along a pleasant stream.

LENGTH: About five miles.


TIME: About four hours.

MAP: South Mountain Reservation trail map (available from the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, 973-268-3500, ext. 238)

DOGS: Permitted on leash.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take Interstate Route 78 to Exit 50B (Maplewood, Millburn) and continue north on Vaux Hall Road for 0.7 mile. After crossing a temporary bridge, turn left onto Millburn Avenue. In 0.5 mile, the traffic is routed to the right, onto Essex Street. After passing the Millburn railroad station, turn right onto Lackawanna Place. At the next intersection (Glen Avenue), turn right and then make an immediate left into the Locust Grove parking area.

DESCRIPTION: From the end of the parking area, follow the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, which bears right onto a gravel road leading to a picnic area. The trail continues through the picnic area, then bears left and begins to climb the First Watchung Mountain on a wide path. It bears right at a fork (do not follow the light-green-blazed trail that turns left here), then turns right at a T intersection (marked by a chain-link fence) onto a woods road, continuing to climb. At the top of the ascent, follow the yellow blazes as they turn left, leaving the road, and continue on a footpath to the paved Crest Drive (closed to vehicular traffic), where they turn left along the road.

As the road curves to the right, the New York City skyline may be seen to the left through the trees on a clear day, with the towers of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge visible in the distance to the right. Just ahead — before reaching a plaque on a boulder commemorating a Revolutionary War battle that took place near here — the trail turns left, leaving the road, and descends to an observation platform with stone pillars at the site of Washington Rock, from which George Washington surveyed the countryside during the American Revolution. The view from here is to the southwest, with Millburn and the NJ Transit railroad tracks visible below, and Watchung Reservation — the continuation of the Watchung range beyond the Millburn-Springfield gap — ahead in the distance. This is a good place to take a break.

When you’re ready to continue, turn left and follow the Lenape Trail, which descends on a footpath. Soon, you’ll notice an unmarked side trail to the left that leads to a fenced overlook over an abandoned quarry. A short distance beyond, the Lenape Trail crosses a bridle path and enters a remote, less-used area of the reservation. After a short descent, it crosses a small stream, with the Maple Falls Cascade — where the stream plunges down a 25-foot sluiceway of exposed basalt — to the left, downstream.

The trail now follows a relatively level footpath. After crossing another bridle path, it turns sharply right at Lilliput Knob and reaches Beech Brook Cascades — where two brooks converge — about two miles from the start. Beyond the cascade, the trail begins a gradual climb, paralleling a brook in a shallow ravine to the right. After bearing left and crossing a bridle path, the trail climbs to reach Mines Point — named for exploratory pits dug by copper prospectors circa 1800. Here, the trail bears right and heads north, first climbing gently, then descending to reach Ball’s Bluff where, to the left of the trail, old stone pillars are remnants of a picnic shelter built in 1908.

Now descending steadily, the Lenape Trail crosses a bridle path and soon begins to parallel a stream. After crossing the stream, it turns right onto an eroded road. It climbs to the top of a rise, then bears left, leaving the road, descends a steep slope, and turns right along a stream. In a short distance, it reaches the base of Hemlock Falls, a scenic waterfall, and crosses a footbridge over the stream. Stone steps lead to the top of the waterfall, and benches afford an opportunity to rest and enjoy the beautiful setting.

From the falls, the Lenape Trail heads west along a woods road that parallels the stream. It soon reaches a junction with a wide bridle path, marked by a signpost for the Rahway Trail. The Lenape Trail turns right at this junction, but you should turn left and follow the unmarked bridle path heading south. Several paths branch off to the left, but continue ahead along the bridle path that runs parallel to the Rahway River, to your right.

In about half a mile, you’ll reach an intersection where a road comes in from the right. Turn right, onto this road, for a very short distance. Just before reaching the bridge over the river, you’ll see the white-blazed Rahway Trail to the left. Turn left here and follow this trail, which will lead all the way back to the starting point.

For much of the way, the white blazes run between the bridle path (to the left) and the river (to the right). At one point, in a rhododendron grove, they briefly join the bridle path, then continue ahead when the bridle path bears left. The trail will join the bridle path briefly several more times, so look carefully for the white blazes. You’ll pass to the left of Campbell’s Pond, where a large abandoned building — which once served as a pumping station for the City of Orange — may be seen along the river.

After passing Diamond Mill Pond, the Rahway Trail turns left, away from the river, and it ends at the Locust Grove parking area, where the hike began. Note: If the trail is icy, a hiker can walk the roads in the upper part of South Mountain Reservation for an invigorating, scenic workout.

Recipe of the month

Creamy Avocado Gazpacho (from

1 C. (237 ml) water
Flesh of 1 medium avocado, reserving 1 T. for garnish
2 C. (480 ml) chopped cucumber
1 1/2 C. (355 ml) chopped tomatoes
1/2 to 1 Serrano chile, with seeds, sliced (optional)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 sprig mint leaves
Juice of 2 lemons or limes
1/2 t. salt
1 t. maple syrup (can use dates or honey to sweeten)
2 small mint leaves
Paprika (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Start blender on low speed for a few seconds, then switch to high. Blend until creamy and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Pour into 2 soup bowls. Dice reserved avocado and gently drop them into the center of the bowl. Add a mint leaf and sprinkle diced avocado with paprika if desired. Serves 2.

Until next time … stay in healthful touch.

Dennis Sprick

The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy