Things in Erin’s Brain 

Last week I ventured out to the Windy City for a little adventure / work retreat with my bestie. (Fun Fact #1 – Did you know Chicago is called the Windy City because of its politicians? Two City tours say so…)

Now don’t you start laughing too… Jerry kept wagging big finger quotes on either side of his smirking face saying, “Yeah, Erin and Jenny are going to Chicago to ‘WORK’.” I was not particularly amused, because Jenny and I actually spent a considerable amount of time preparing an agenda, planning our work days and inserting some fun sight seeing to break it up. It was a LEGIT work trip to focus on marketing our businesses and dreaming big dreams out loud without the interruption of time zones, meal prep, school pick up, or massage appointments. 

We were really excited.

On Day 1 in the Stinking Onion (Fun Fact #2 – the name Chicago is derived from the Native American word “shikaakwa” meaning smelly onion) it rained. 

Not a little drizzle, but torrential, flash flood, the skies parted and the heavens dumped bucket after bucket after bucket of water on our hooded heads. It wasn’t a warm, late afternoon Florida rain either. It was COLD. Like in the 60s cold. Ya. I was freezing.

Our perfectly planned agenda called for us to have our morning session at a little local coffee shop near our hotel. I’m going to guess Jenny was as determined to work as I was, because she didn’t outwardly argue with me when I said, “It’s close, we can make it. Let’s GO.”

And we ran.

Apparently in the opposite direction of the café. 

We took shelter under an awning and plotted where to dart next. As my thumbs slipped over the wet screen of my phone trying to make the GPS work, Jenny pointed across the street and exclaimed, “A RAT!”

I looked up and barely caught a glimpse of a long, ridged tail.  If there was a sliver of doubt in my mind as to what it actually was, they were quashed as we watched a parade of rats (at least five), dart out of various flooded planters, scurry to a street corner lamp post and DISAPPEAR INSIDE. 

Very “Secret of NIMH” (IYKYK)

We had passed the point of no return. Things were NOT going according to plan, but no decisions could be made until we had consumed caffeine. We decided to move onward: more running, more awning hiding, and we finally realized we were nowhere near the damn café. 

But there WAS a Starbucks.

There’s nothing wrong with Starbucks, y’all know I spent my peak caregiving days surviving off tall vanilla lattes, but we were trying to experience some local flavor and had tried to avoid any national chains (and the agenda SAID we were going to DOLLOP). But we were wet. Not kinda wet. Soaking wet. Sloshy shoes. Squishy socks. Drenched jeans. Somewhat defeated we dripped through the front door of the Starbucks and what we saw was…


We had accidentally stumbled upon a Starbucks Reserve Roastery. It was five levels with special menus, fireplaces, intimate seating, counter seats, a rooftop deck, and it was Sunday morning PACKED. We got our bearings, ordered our sugary, caffeine filled beverages (served in actual mugs), I added a raspberry croissant to my order, and we wandered until we found two seats at a counter and sat in puddles of our own making.

I don’t know if it was the rain, or how cold I was, or the environment, but that raspberry croissant was simply heavenly. Flaky, buttery, filled with the perfect amount real raspberry jam. It paired perfectly with my velvety dark chocolate mocha latte (all diets were abandoned on this trip). It almost made me forget about the ice cold jeans clinging to my legs and my popsicle toes.

We could have easily whined about the derailed morning. 

We could have given up.

We could have just gone back to the hotel and crawled under the covers and done nothing all day.

Instead, we chose to look at the morning and reflect on how lucky we were.

We had the opportunity to investigate all of the levels of this beautiful building – which we would have never seen had we  A) followed the map (totally my bad); B) avoided Starbucks as planned; C) stayed inside like all of the sane people in Chicago that morning. We wouldn’t have seen the NIMH rats. We wouldn’t have seen the possessed storm drain shooting it’s lid into the air. We wouldn’t have indulged in that melty, sweet raspberry croissant (we bought a second one).

Really, how lucky were we?

Because it’s all about love…

P.S. I’ve been to quite a few cities: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Rome… and never, EVER have I seen as many rats as I did in Chicago… and yes, we saw ANOTHER rat on the front stoop of someone’s brownstone, on a lovely evening, when it wasn’t flooding… just sayin’…

Massage Minute brought to you by

Recently I had a client on the table start to laugh because I massaged their left arm before their right arm. I had switched it up. The interaction made me think about how I structure my massage sessions. I pride myself on not offering a “cookie cutter” massage. I work really hard to make sure clients are getting the massage they need during each session.

I expanded my thought process to include the massages I have received. Is it the same each time or do they shake it up?

I realized there can be something comforting about knowing what’s coming next. Yet a rut can be so… boring…

Each time I learn a new modality, especially something highly specialized like Ashiatsu, I walk away from the multi-day trainings having learned a routine. Four strokes here, two strokes there, knead this, elbow that. 

But that’s not how I work. The techniques I learn get blended and tweaked and enhanced in my brain, creating something unique that belongs just to me.

I thought back to my client – who expected that right arm to be massaged first – and I wondered, “Have I fallen into a routine?”

I thought about it for days and came up with the answer.


I don’t have a routine… what I have is a PATTERN.

What’s the difference, Erin?

I offer each section of the body the attention, technique, or tool it needs to relax and release, absent of a routine. But the pattern… the pattern keeps me from doing something silly like forgetting a limb. 

You can chuckle, but the threat is real. I get so in the groove, so totally zen in my work, that if I didn’t have a pattern, I might not know if I massaged your left leg or not! Yes, I might mix it up the pattern every now and again, but not by much. 

Tell me, do you find the pattern comforting? Does knowing where I’m going next bring you a feeling of security? Do you enjoy those signature moves – like that little wiggle I do down your spine at the end of your back work?

What massage moves do you love most? (Even if you’re not my client I’d love to hear about your faves!)

Because it’s all about love…