Last week at work was very busy with all the Positivity Week festivities. Residents and staff enjoyed watching the conga lines going through the halls, and the art festival was a big hit, bringing people together to create something positive. The week has left me feeling tired from all the extra work and stress of having to organize some of the activities. Something I’ve learned about myself when organizing events is that I tend to be a perfectionist. I have a picture in my head of how everything will look and it causes me stress when things don’t go that way. I am learning slowly, over time, that things will be fine even if they don’t measure up to my level of perfection. So, in order to release some of the tension from the week, my friend Springy and I treated ourselves to a morning at the spa. It was the perfect way to end the week and recover my soul by way of my feet.
A few years ago I saw an ad on television for a new spa in Portland called Soakology. It was not a spa in the traditional sense. It was advertised as a Foot Sanctuary and Tea House. I was intrigued by the pictures of people sitting on big stuffed chairs and couches with their feet soaking in large ceramic bowls. My feet longed for a taste of that. Not long after seeing the ad, my sister and I found some time to visit the place and I’ve been a regular since then.
Soakology is located in the center of Portland, Maine. Parking in Portland can be challenging sometimes, but yesterday we were able to get into the garage closest to the Sanctuary. I was also pleasantly surprised that there was no charge. We were a few minutes early so we stopped into Longfellow Books, a small bookstore in Monument Square, to browse a while. It occurred to me that it had been quite a while since I’d been in a bookstore. Most of them in this area are closed. I soaked in the feeling of the books as I went from aisle to aisle, stopping occasionally to pick up the ones that called to me. Springy picked out a book and I bought another journal. No surprise there. We left and went two doors down to the spa. There is a sign out front with a picture of a moose sitting in a comfy chair soaking his feet and drinking some tea. It is very Maine looking.
The narrow doorway opens into the Tea House, the first level of the Sanctuary. We were immediately struck by a variety of subtle aromas dancing together in the air. The scents were intoxicating and instantly relaxed me. The walls were covered with displays of brightly colored tea sets and other tea paraphernalia. On the back wall was a case with a large variety of teas from all over the world. I had no idea that tea drinking was such big business. There was something pretty and delicate about it. It felt softer and more sophisticated than a coffee shop which is where I usually hang out.
We were politely greeted by one of the staff and invited to sit and have a taste of tea while we filled out an information form on which they asked about any health issues that may be affected by the foot soak or massage. They’ve replaced the small, round bar-style tables and a counter with a built in l-shaped wall bench with brightly colored upholstery and pillows. It was much more comfortable and I could imagine myself sitting there and drinking tea someday. After filling out the forms, we were led down a stairway into the basement area where the foot sanctuary was located. My senses were enjoying all the beauty of the colors on the walls and pictures, the warm woods on the floors, stairs and rails, and the scents present in the air.
The lower level is a long, narrow room encased by brick walls. There is low lighting throughout the room and it is warm and inviting. We sat on a small bench at the foot of the stairs, removed our shoes and put on a pair of white terry cloth slippers. The foot sanctuary room is one big space divided into four sections, each with couches and chairs set up to accommodate parties ranging from 2-8 people. The sections are divided by linen curtains to provide a subtle feeling of privacy. We were led to a section at the very back of the room and sat on the big, comfy couch where we would enjoy our foot soak and massage.
All around the room are large brass tubs set on small tables with wheels. The staff takes the tubs to a back room and fills them with warm water, herbs, oils, and other items that the guest orders from a menu. Foot soak potions are divided into four categories: relaxing, moisturizing, uplifting, and curative. I usually choose from the relaxing category but this time I decided to try an uplifting potion called Clarity of Mind. I’ve been feeling a bit muddled lately and thought that might help. My soak consisted of “a moisturizing blend of basil, lavender, sage, rosemary and lime essential oils in sea salts”. Springy chose a relaxing blend called the Beach Rose Bath Salts which contained “rose petals, jasmine, and lavender in detoxifying sea salts”. The minute I put my feet in the tub of warm scented water, my tension melted away. They also add smooth rocks to the bottom of the tub to hold the heat and massage your feet as you move them around. Someone occasionally comes by and adds more hot water to the tub to keep the water warm. The sensation is delightful and relaxing.
In addition to ordering the foot soak, we added a 20 minute head, neck, and shoulder massage and a 20 minute lower leg and foot massage. All this is done while sitting on the big comfy couch, listening to beautiful music and soaking your feet. About one hour later we were done and we removed our feet from the tubs. The therapist dried my feet and legs with a warm towel and applied a beautiful scented powder that left my feet feeling so happy and pampered. I felt like I was floating as I walked back over to the bench to put on my shoes.
It is so important for us to take time for ourselves and replenish our souls. While it doesn’t have to be done at a spa, it certainly is a treat that Springy and I decided we MUST do for ourselves on a regular basis. Good self-care is the basis for self-love and that, in turn, allows us to love and care for others in a manner that is healthy and whole. Treat yourself to some me-time today!
Yours in relaxation,