My Real Life

April 29, 2012

Spa Living: Cancun Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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I’ve only gotten two massages in my life.

If my insurance would pay for it, I would go every week.

I carry my stress in my neck, and my doctor has said that she can’t believe how tight my neck is.

I also had surgery on my neck, a few years ago, to remove a lymph node the size of a golf ball due to Kikuchi Fujimoto disease (I kid you not…story for another time), and in removing the lymph node, the doctor accidentally severed the spinal accessory nerve, or the nerve that feeds the muscles in the upper right quadrant of my back.  Therefore, my back has had to need to relearn how to delegate the daily work of picking things up, raising my arms, walking around, etc.  You’d never know it to look at me, as the muscles have done well relearning their work, however, my neck and back are stiff and in some pretty big agony quite a bit of time at the end of the day.  It’s why I try to exercise, because the stronger they are, the better the outcome for me, and I don’t want it to slow me down, which it doesn’t.

So, when I started to have the back issues, following the surgery, I went for a massage.

It was a 30 minute massage, and when it was done, I came to two conclusions.

1.  30 minutes wasn’t long enough.

2.  I needed some large Nordic woman named Helga, or some strapping Swedish man named Sven to actually massage hard enough to work out the knots in my neck and back, because the average sized woman who did the massage didn’t even come close to working out a single knot, even though she seemed to be working as hard as she could.

So, I never went back.

Fast-forward to last week, when the girls and I were in Cancun.

They have a spa at the resort, and they offered a variety of massages, preceded by hydration therapy.

Each massage was 100 minutes and was a little bit different than the others.

So, Erin and I both signed up for the Excellence massage, Kim another, and Michaela, yet another.

They led us into the back and, wearing our bathing suits, had us take a quick shower.

Then, we were led into the steam room.

We toughed it out in the steam room as long as we possibly could, but when we began to feel like our faces were melting off, we decided to call it a day.

They led us to the pool, which was divided into several sections.

Kim and I got into a small, circular part of the pool, and were instructed to stand back to back and hold on to these bars that were protruding from the sides of the pool.  Then, they turned on the bubbles.

This jet of bubbles that shot up from the floor of the pool and pounded our feet and our legs.

We were there for about two minutes, and then they moved us into the bigger pool, where we had to hold on, again, while a jet of bubbles shot at our stomachs for two minutes.

From there, we moved across the pool, where we saw two enormous spouts that were flat.  We turned our backs and these flat streams of water jetted onto our backs, pummeling our muscles.  Then, we moved over to round spouts of water that punished our necks and upper backs with water.

Next, you got out of the pool and walked into a valley of rocks that were sprayed with water to massage your feet, and when you came out the other side, you were to dip your entire body (head under) in a pool of icy water.  So cold. It was so cold.

When we raced back out of the ice pool, we were treated to the sauna, where we lay for about five minutes.  (Best part of the hydration therapy)  We relaxed and talked and enjoyed the sauna.

When they knocked on the door, we thought we were going upstairs for our massages, but no…back in the icy pool for another dip.

And, surprisingly, this time, not so bad.

THEN it was time to go up.

They separated us into our massage rooms, and we got to meet our masseurs.

I was instantly disappointed.

Mine was this little, tiny man named Ivan, who said in a quiet, high voice, “Hola, Miss!”

Helga or Sven, he was not.

He started to speak to me, in English, with a very thick accent, and I couldn’t understand him, so I explained that I speak Spanish, and he switched over and then we were able to communicate much, much better.

He left the room while I got ready and laid on the table, face down.

I heard the door open and he came back in.  There were many sounds as he moved around, mixing things and opening cupboards, etc.

All of the sudden, his little hands appeared in front of my face, and he said, “Por favor” and then I heard him inhaling very slowly, so I, too, inhaled very slowly, and was overwhelmed with a pungent scent, which I assumed was on his hands and was supposed to be aromatherapy.

Okay.  I went with it.

Thus began the most amazing 100 minute massage that ever was.

(Yes, I realize I have no frame of reference, but it was unreal.)

There were hot oils, hot wraps, hot stones.

My feet were wrapped in hot chocolate paste and saran wrapped.  (Poor Ivan…as he painted the chocolate on my extremely ticklish feet, I giggled and giggled and he apologized and apologized, no matter how many times I told him it was just fine…fun, in fact.)

Little Ivan was deceptively strong, and after his first go at my neck and back where he sucked in his breath and said “Wow!  This is really tight!” he put that strength to use and worked out every single kink in my musculature.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

The only part I didn’t LOVE was the “scalp massage.”

It was really more of a “Pull Amy’s Hair for 5 minutes” massage, and I wasn’t too down with that.

I stuck with it, because I kept thinking it would get better, but it didn’t.

In the grand scheme of the other 95 minutes, I really didn’t care that much.

He even massaged my face and my sinuses sang for joy.

I came out of that room, wrapped in my big, fluffy robe and found Kim lounging on this round sofa, cup of tea in hand.

I was like butter.  I melted into the sofa, Ivan brought me some tea, and we waited for Erin and Michaela, who soon floated out of their rooms, as well.

I don’t think I will ever have another massage like the one I experienced in Cancun.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get another massage again, because I’ll just know it won’t measure up.

And, it’s interesting, that since the plane landed in Newark, my neck and back have been slowly getting tighter and tighter, and while I was used to it before and so it didn’t hurt all the time, it’s kinda hurting all the time, now.

Soon, I’ll be all wound up again and walking around with my shoulders near my ears and Ivan will be a distant memory.

But, for the rest of you…if you ever hit the Excellence Riviera Resort in Cancun, get the Excellence massage.

And ask for Ivan.

April 26, 2012

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Cancun Version

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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So, we get off the plane, go through customs, head outside and meet our driver.

He starts driving us back to the hotel and a fairly high rate of speed.

A police car turns on its lights, pulls out behind us, and starts to follow us.  But he pulls around us and speeds by, pulling someone else over.

Then, he hops out of his car and starts waving his flashlight to pull us over.

Our driver pulls over, hops out of the car and walks to the cop, (wearing, what appears to be an AK-47 around his neck), whose hand he immediately shakes.

They chat for awhile, the driver comes back and gets some papers out of the van and goes back to the cop.

They talk awhile longer.

He comes back to the van, gets his wallet, pulls out some money, goes back, gives it to the cop, hops back in the car and drives away.

The guy sitting in the front of the van asks how much it cost to get us going and the driver says “$50” to which Kim responds, “It’ll cost you $100 to buy my silence!”


Already shared the screen door story.  If you missed it, you can find it here.


So, on Friday, we were laying on the beach, reading, napping, chatting, whatever.

Suddenly, Michaela says “Hey!  Look!  A wedding!”

Sure enough, there was a wedding beginning on the closest pier.

So, we watched as the groom made his way to the end of the pier with his witness, and then the bride walked down the aisle to meet him.

Really sweet.

But, wait!


This picture is fuzzy and not really easy to see, but there were three women wearing thongs, standing there watching the wedding.


Not sure that I would want that in my wedding photos.

Seriously, ladies.

Move along.


On Saturday night, the Excellence Resort had a Madonna show in their big, open-air theater.

The dancing was phenomenal.  We were so impressed.

Okay, Kim, Michaela and I were impressed.

Erin fell asleep during the show.

“Madonna’s” lip-syncing, however?

I realize she was Mexican and didn’t speak English as a first language.

However, if your entire job is to lip-sync Madonna songs, you might want to invest some time in learning the words.

Thank goodness the dancing was totally rocking because watching the singing was like watching a movie where the sound track is way, way off.

Fun to watch, but kinda gave you a headache if you were paying attention.

If you let your eyes go fuzzy and out of focus, however, totally rockin’.


On the plane on the way home, about 45 minutes before we landed, a line formed for the bathroom.

We were sitting near the back of the plane, so the line was right next to us.

Suddenly, I heard someone say, “Amy?”

I look up and who do I see?

Oh yeah…my OBGYN.

Where did it turn out she was sitting?

Right in front of Kim, who was right across the aisle from me.

Hadn’t seen her the whole flight, but there she was!

Flying home from Cancun, Mexico on a Sunday afternoon and I bump into my OBGYN.


Of course, with all the kids I’ve had, I probably paid for her flight, so I guess it makes sense.

April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 40?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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…because when you’ve been friends as long as we have, you are always 8 years old when you are together.


April 24, 2012

Truthful Tuesday: Friendship

Filed under: Truthful Tuesday — Amy @ 6:00 am
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So, the truth for today is that I love Mexico.

At least, I love the Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort.

Or, to be more specific, I love the Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort when I’m there with Kim, Erin and Michaela.

You know that I turned 40 this year, and since we’re all the same age, you can conclude that these three turned 40 this year, as well.

We haven’t traveled together since our days in the handbell choir in high school, where we went to Michigan, Virginia and Bermuda together.

In youth group, we hit upstate New York and Tennessee.

But, since then, the four of us haven’t been anywhere together.

Kim and Erin have taken vacations together, Michaela and Kim have taken vacations together, but I got married early, and didn’t go anywhere with them.

So, we all decided for 40, we were going.

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing pictures and stories from our trip.

However, for today, I just want to share the feelings from the trip.

There is nothing like spending time with people who know every single thing about you.

Who know things about you that you don’t even know.

People with whom you share a history.

While standing in the customs line, in the Mexico airport, we watched the customs workers type on the keyboard and then stamp the passports.

Kim said, “That’s your kinda job, Amy” and she was exactly right.

But, I don’t know how many people know, that while I’m all about my creative side, how much I love that kind of work and find it very satisfying.

When we got to the hotel, Erin and I (who shared a room, while Kim and Michaela shared a room), went to check out our balcony.  We heard a knock on the door, and I got excited and started to run for the room, forgetting that the screen was closed.  I ran headfirst, at full speed into the slider screen and bounced right off and back onto the balcony.

I wasn’t embarrassed, I wasn’t self-conscious.  I was with Erin.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.  We laughed until we cried and our sides hurt.

Kim and Michaela couldn’t figure out why we weren’t answering the door, and then when we were finally able to compose ourselves enough to answer the door, we were still laughing so hard, we couldn’t speak, and when we finally could, we laughed some more belly laughs as we tried to explain the story.

We were all glad to come home to our boyfriends, husbands, children and homes, but I think it’s telling that we’ve already sent about 8 emails back and forth between us all, today, after just spending 4 days, non-stop with each other.

I love these women.

And I can’t wait to tell you about our trip!

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