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Setting goals for 2006

Working a full-time job as a newspaper copy editor forces me to choose my vacation days for the coming year in December so as not to conflict with others in my department. That, in turn, compels me to choose any massage-related workshops months in advance.

And so, from Feb. 8-12, I plan on attending a five-day intensive in Orthopedic Massage and Pain Management, driving north into the belly of the winter beast in Portsmouth, N.H. I had taken the two introductory three-day seminars in upper-body and lower-body Orthomassage as given by James Waslaski, and I’ve incorporated some of his techniques into my massage sessions. The five-day intensive will allow me to hone those techniques and relearn others. My clients and I will be the better for it.

From September 14-17 in Hartford, Conn., I return to being a teaching assistant in CranioSacral Therapy I, mostly to enjoy the opportunity to work with instructor Don Ash. He’s written the wonderfully down-to-earth “Lessons From the Sessions” (, about his journeys in learning the work and providing this profound therapy to his clients.

Oct. 27-31 in Reston, Va., brings me together with two other wonderful teachers, Suzanne Scurlock-Durana and Emily Conrad, to continue my studies in the energizing, revitalizing Continuum work that I began with Suzanne last year.

I look forward to these courses, and my goals for this year are to learn these techniques well and to share the results of this learning with you, my clients. Be well, and have a healthful, productive, peaceful 2006.

Massage technique of the month

Joint capsule work of the shoulder

(from “Orthopedic Massage & Pain Management” by James Waslaski,

The client is on his back, arm in a right angle away from the body and wrist resting on therapist’s hip. One hand of the therapist supports client’s shoulder under the scapula, the other hand holds client’s arm just above the elbow. To free up adhesions in the client’s shoulder, therapist performs a plunging technique with the client’s arm. rotates the arm outward, and pulls back out. Repeat several times, then do the plunging routine and rotate the arm inward before pulling out. Repeat several times.

Stretch of the month

This is for the pecs and the deltoids. Stand with arm outstretched so that your the thumb side of your hand rests against an open doorway. Turn head and torso away from your outstretched hand so that you feel the stretch. Breathe out one one thousand, two one thousand and then bring head and torso back to center, breathing in as you do so. Repeat 10 times. Turn around, bring other arm to opposite side of doorway, and repeat exercise.

Strengthening technique of the month

From my training sessions with Russ Teitsma (973-931-8206,, a simple yet daunting core strengthener.

Lie on back, arms at side, legs straight out in front of you. Lift upper torso and legs off the ground so that only your butt is on the floor and your arms are reaching toward your feet. Slowly and simultaneously, lower the left leg and the left arm, breathing out as you do so, breathing in as you bring them back up. Do the same with the right leg and the right arm. Repeat lowering and raising the left leg and left arm, then the right leg and right arm. Do as many repetitions as you can (as a beginner, I aim for at least 40) as you feel the burn in your abdomen.

Hike of the month

Living in Montclair allows me the luxury of combining a scenic suburban walk past lovely old mansions with a wooded hike up to a cliff that offers a serene view of the Manhattan skyline.

I begin the walk north on Orange Road at its intersection with Llewellyn Avenue. I follow it to a traffic light where I make a left onto Union Avenue. Up I go, imagining as I do what it might be like to live in the expansive residences that grace this part of town, until, at the base of Eagle Rock Park, I make a right onto Lloyd Road. The houses here are bigger still, the driveways winding, the views impressive. I pass Montclair Kimberly Academy on my left and, right before Bloomfield Avenue, I make a left onto the cobblestoned Parkhurst Avenue.

Trying to keep my strenuous pace despite the sharp incline, I reach the top of Montclair as I turn left onto Afterglow and wind my way around into Verona. I make the first left and follow this isolated street to its end and make a right onto a footpath between two large houses. I make a left at the end of the path, proceed a ways, and turn left into the woods, following the yellow blazes on the trees. This is the northernmost expanse of Eagle Rock Reservation.

I’m not in the woods for long, maybe a quarter-mile, but soon I climb soon woodland stairs, a long-ago Eagle Scout project, till I reach the cliff with, when it’s not foggy as it is today, the sights of Manhattan in the distance and, closer still, the tower of Immaculate Conception Church, the tallest structure in Montclair. I continue on my way, savoring the stillness of the tree-filled hideaway, till the path brings me to a road. I turn left, and wind my way down to Undercliff Road. A quick right carries me steeply down Gates Avenue, past intersections with South Mountain and Clinton and Eagle Rock and Harrison till I turn right at a traffic light onto Orange Road. One block later brings me to my starting point, 75-90 minutes and 4-5 miles later, exercised and exhilarated by the man-made and natural beauty of the town in which I live.

Recipe of the month

Tomato Garlic Soup

From “The Grit Cookbook,” a Christmas present from Buzz and Dorothy Dale that celebrates The Grit vegetarian restaurant in their town of Athens, Ga., comes the simple, tangy and warming soup.

2 whole bulbs or approximately 1/3 cup garlic cloves, peeled
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping tablespoon sea salt
1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
5 cups water
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch

In food processor, grind garlic cloves and 1/2 of chopped onion until pureed. Add remaining chopped onion and grind on pulse setting, just until second addition of onion is very finely minced. Put in a small bowl; set aside.

Cover bottom of a large stock pot with a thin layer of olive oil and place over high heat. Add garlic and onion mixture and stir well, cooking until deeply browned. As onion and garlic cook, puree the cherry tomatoes in food processor. Add to browned onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring often. Add remaining ingredients except canned tomatoes, water and cornstarch. Simmer mixture vigorously for at least 5 minutes.

Puree canned tomatoes in food processor and add to soup with spring water. In a small bowl, blend cornstarch with enough hot soup to make a thin paste free of lumps. Add past to soup. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until thick. Serve hot in warmed bowls.

Yields 10 to 12 servings.

The Grit is at 199 Prince St., Athens, Ga. More info about the cookbook can be found at

Until next time … keep in Heartful Touch.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy