Try to Loosen Up

What is the scariest thing you’ve done lately to loosen up your life? For me, it was a massage in a Japanese spa. I realize that doesn’t fall very far down the scary-thing spectrum, but, well, now you know the kind of guy I am. A few years ago, when Cyndi and I still lived on Whittle Way, sometime before 2008, we asked our world-traveling friends to recommend a getaway vacation spot for exceptional pampering. They suggested Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe. We looked it up online, and to be honest, we were overwhelmed. At least, I was. And maybe a little frightened, too. The degree of Japanese-ness was surprising, and the choices of treatments were so varied and unknown we had no idea what to choose.

As it turns out, we didn’t go, but I don’t remember why. Maybe we were simply too broke that year to do anything cool.

So during our recent Santa Fe visit, on one of my exploratory drive-abouts, I passed by the entrance to Ten Thousand Waves. That evening I TTW 3mentioned it to Cyndi, who wasted no time scheduling appointments for both of us – two therapeutic massages.

When we arrived at the front desk they handed each of us a tightly-rolled bundle of cloth about 12” long and 6” in diameter, and said, “Here’s your kimono.” Then the desk guy showed us around the beautiful facility, especially the men’s and women’s changing rooms.

The thing is, I hate going into any situation as a beginner, which usually means one of two things: (1) I do way too much research before starting, or (2) I simply miss out on a lot of cool stuff. When I do decide to give it a try, as in Ten Thousand Waves, it takes my full concentration to relax and enjoy, and I’m in data-gathering mode the entire time so I’ll be more ready next time.

Of course, none of this bothers Cyndi. She says it does, but I don’t believe her. She just dives headfirst into the moment with little forethought. For her, the end result trumps all weirdness and fear. For me, I can’t see around the weirdness to even imagine an end result. So I was tiptoeing, internally, at least, beside her through the Ten Thousand Waves property, wary of disaster.

TTW 2Our courteous guide showed us two communal pools, which were actually more like large hot tubs, and mentioned we might want to try them out since we’d arrived early. The pools were clothing-optional, and that’s why there were two of them. One was for women only and the other for men and women. They didn’t seem to need a men-only pool. Not enough demand, I suppose.

Cyndi and I went to our respective rooms and changed into our kimonos. The lockers were equipped with programmable digital combination-style locks; apparently it’s still important to lock up your valuables (phone, wallet, keys, shoes, pants) even in this calm and peaceful place.

Since I’m still not allowed to submerge my wounded hip in water, I opted for the warm foot bath instead of the clothing-optional communal pool. Cyndi tried the women-only pool but didn’t stay very long because it was too lonely and because she knew I needed her beside me to feel safe. She joined me in the foot bath.

Then our two masseurs, or bodyworkers, Adam and Montana, called us up. They took us downstairs to a room with side-by-side massage tables and mind-numbingly peaceful new-age Japanese music.

Let me just interject here and state that this wasn’t my first massage. I have had at least three before this, but one of those was a hand-and-foot massage in Dongying, China. (I will never let someone pull on my toes again. It was not pleasant.) The other two massages were in Midland and in both cases I enjoyed them more than I expected to.

Still, I usually have to be talked into getting a massage, and I have to psych myself up for it. I know that more frequent massages would TTW 1probably extend my running and cycling years, but they seem too indulgent for someone as practical as me. Yet professional runners and cyclists get massages regularly for injury prevention and muscle recovery, and they don’t think it indulgent. If getting a massage means eating less to offset the expense, well, I eat too much as it is. So, double good to me.

Adam and Montana worked on Cyndi and me for eighty minutes and all I can say is, it was amazing. I asked if they would arrange for someone to drive us home since I felt too Jell-O-y to drive, and both bodyworkers gave their resort-worker-who-has-heard-every-possible-joke polite laugh.

They suggested we move to the Relaxation Room after the massage, but that seemed redundant. I couldn’t be any more relaxed. Like in the movie Spinal Tap when Nigel Tufnel defended the totally black color of their album by saying, “It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black,” I couldn’t relax any more than I was relaxed. None more relaxed.

Afterward I told Cyndi I was willing to commit to more massages in the future, and she seemed happy to see me take another big risk. “Maybe they’ll keep me fit and moving for a few more years.”

And it occurred to me that since this experience worked out so great maybe I should try a few other things I’d been avoiding because they made me feel like a beginner. I should loosen up.

At least I have my very best asset by my side, fearless Cyndi. She always makes me braver; especially when she drags me into things.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


Find me at and learn more about my books. Or find me at and at