Sweet Indulgence

Pampering ourselves: … just when we need it most, it seems we can afford it least! Too little time, too many other expenses – there are always pressing reasons why Farmgirls put everybody and everything ahead of themselves and their own needs. With her son’s wedding only days away, the Mountain Farmgirl has never been busier than she is this week, but for once she has scheduled in some Sweet Indulgence! Come share in some of the delicious fun…

It’s been a wild ride for me this past month. Our son’s wedding on May 25th has been looming large on the horizon and we are SUPER excited and supremely happy about it!! However, there is a bit of work involved on my end to plan a ‘rehearsal dinner’-turned-Family-and-Friends-BBQ-for-75 the night before! AND it being in the Hudson Valley of New York State, about 7 hours from where I live, there are many logistical as well as physical obstacles to surmount. I’ll also be making the wedding cake.

Not only that, but it’s happening on Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the busiest weekends of our Innkeeping year here in the White Mountains. Our town of Jackson, NH has a huge annual event that weekend, The Wildquack Duck Festival, which always draws thousands. There are only about 501 details I must consider (from breakfast for the guests, to staffing issues, as well as the fact that we are in the process of switching reservation software) so that all runs smoothly in our absence. I need to get all my ‘ducks in a row’ before we leave … (yes, I know, that was a bad pun!).


On top of that, we have decided to rent out the sweet cottage we own on the Maine Coast during the peak seasons of the year, when we innkeepers  are too busy anyway to be there to enjoy it … And wouldn’t you know, our first rental week starts Memorial Day weekend! There have been a ton of things to do to get ready for that. I’m also still homeschooling Joshua, have a husband to care for – as well as my own life to live, so as you can imagine, things are just a bit hectic here at my house (UNDERSTATEMENT!!!).

And, although I will certainly put my feet up and draw a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction when it is all over, amazingly, I am not particularly stressed about any of it ... nor have I been throughout the whole process. As a super-organized person I’ve had it broken down into Lists and Schedules with a master notebook of all the various and sundry details that keeps me on track.  That’s not to say my days aren’t full to overflowing, but they have a certain rhythm and sanity about them that allows me to chip away at them a few things at a time. In this way it has not been at all overwhelming; I am truly enjoying the process!  In fact, early on I scheduled in a few more things for this final week. I know … I didn’t really need anything more on my plate … but these were ‘dessert’ type things, easily overlooked or rationalized away, and for once, I decided to indulge!! It has made this ‘final week’ (which is very reminiscent of college ‘finals week’!) so very sweet.  Come let me share some of these ‘indulgences’…


Every year, one of the local hospitals puts on a large conference at the beautiful and historic Mount Washington Hotel, which is less than 30 minutes from where I live.  It is called the Women’s Health Conference.  I first went about 8 years ago when I was new to the area, because it sounded interesting and I wanted to meet people. I LOVED it and have gone every year since. Last winter when I got the notice that it would be taking place just days before I left for the wedding, I sadly tossed it into the wastebasket. But it kept nagging at me, and a few days later I retrieved it from the trash, posted the flyer on the bulletin board, and soon afterwards signed up. I am SO glad I did!! It worked wonders for my mental health to have a day all to myself in the company of other women on the topic of health, just when I actually needed it most. It is always some of the best money I spend every year.  For only $65 it includes a sumptuous breakfast buffet with fabulous, high-end tea, free Health Screenings (I got my Blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checked – all good I might add!) and rows and rows of interesting Vendors who sell everything from organic bedding and clothing, homeopathic medicines, to books, teas, hospice, health services and absolutely everything in between. I love looking at all the items at these tables, talking to the vendors, getting free samples and gifts!  One gave me a hand massage using Swiss made Calendula lotion for my garden-rough hands. In only a moment they were as soft as a baby’s bottom and smelled almost as good!


Another delightful indulgence I experienced was a free 20-minute treatment for Foot Reflexology, one for the healing warmth of the BioMat mattress which combines infrared waves that produce healing negative ions through a mat of amethyst crystals (yes I know it sounds like voodoo, but it felt AMAZING!); and another for a Reiki treatment.  Foot reflexology is an alternative medicine that uses pressure points on the sole of the foot that theoretically correspond with various areas and organs in our physical bodies. While there is no consensus among reflexologists on how it actually works, a unifying theme is that specific areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi, or energy flow. Pamela Woodburn Comeau, who runs Angel Feet in Whitefield, NH is a Master of this art.  She gave me a treatment last year that I have been remembering with relish ever since, and once again I was not disappointed. Even if it didn’t have the positive health benefits, it feels wonderful and that would be almost enough for me!

Linda Luck is a Master of Reiki, another healing art that combines Oriental medicine and spiritual practice. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (or reiki) in the form of ‘ki’ through the palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium . As ‘Lady Luck’s’ hands touched the seven chakras, or energy points, on my body, she was able to ‘feel’ where energy moved freely through these areas and where there were blockages. Not knowing much about it, I lay on the very comfortable massage table in the candle-lit room, listening to calming music and just tried to relax. It wasn’t hard!! Afterwards, she took a 2-page chart that showed the human body and the seven chakra points. There was a description of how these points affect us when we are ‘clear’ in these areas, and the problems we may be experiencing if there is an energy blockage. Linda did not know me (or anything about my personal life), so I found it totally uncanny that she was right on the money when it came to the major problem she discovered in my throat area. She said there was something very deep I was repressing that needed to be expressed to the person involved and that it was causing a major blockage of energy for me in the realm of speech and personal expression. She is right, although she would have no way of knowing it if she hadn’t discerned it through this technique. Very interesting!

Throughout the day at this conference there are a large number of concurrent workshops distributed in three 45-minute sessions.  I took ‘Exercise and the Mind, Body, Spirit Connection’; “Why Sleep Matters: It’s Impact on Women’s Health and Wellness”; and “Compassionate Communication”  but if I had a clone I would have sent her to one on Osteoporosis, or the one about Allergies (for my husband).  The hard part is having to pick just one workshop per session!

Lunch is an absolutely fabulous affair that is almost worth the price of admission alone!  It’s a LONG super-healthy buffet of scrumptious foods – so long, in fact, that I couldn’t even get a good photo of it! But try to picture the best salad bar you can imagine, lots of fresh vegetables, poached salmon and broiled haddock, some sort of chicken dish (as a vegetarian I did not pay much attention), grains, rolls, fresh fruit, and fresh cobblers. It was delicious and wonderful!  After lunch in the ballroom there is always a well-known author or recording artist, who is a top-notch Keynote Speaker and who always has us rolling in the aisles. This year it was Yvonne Conte who spoke on the ‘Benefits of Humor’. Whoever said  ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ certainly knew what they were talking about (and probably also knew my sister, whose infectious laugh is a gift to all within earshot!).  

The ride home through the magnificent National Forest gave me a silent and solitary time to reflect and process all the information and experiences of the day. And that reminds me: I almost forgot to tell you about something that happened on the ride to the conference that morning! A HUGE male moose was standing in a pond alongside the road. I stopped and took his photo, although he wasn’t too happy about me invading his morning ablutions! See how he stomped his front feet down in the water for emphasis, creating quite the splash! Moose sightings are frequent in my neck of the woods this time of year, but seeing one is always a gift!

Well, the Conference may be over for another year, but my sweet indulgences had just begun during this final wedding countdown week. On Thursday I made my 6-month trip to the dentist for a checkup and a good cleaning, so that this Mother of the Groom could proudly flash those pearly whites during her many happy  moments with her family at the upcoming events.  Yea … another year of no cavities!! I LOVE the feeling of truly clean and healthy teeth, don’t you?


I also scheduled a massage … a true passion of mine! There are 3 massage therapy shops within walking distance of my inn, all of them GREAT, but frankly none of them compare to my husband’s ability to give a deep-muscle, truly relaxing massage.  I swear I should license his hands … he could make us a fortune!  I have had dozens of massages in my life at spas all over the country and paid good money for them, too, and I must admit that none have ever compared to one of his. But this week, I did something that I (and most women I know seldom do) … and that is ASK for something I need!  As women, we tend to put everything before ourselves and our needs, and consequently there is never time left over  ‘for us’. But this time, I asked my husband for a long massage, and you know the saying: Ask and Ye Shall Receive.  I actually scheduled it into the week, and the results were so therapeutic they will carry me through the final hump of the wedding planning process with ease. Wonderful!!

The grand finale came on Friday: my Pedicure!  I haven’t had an official one since last year before our oldest son, Christopher, got married.  Being on a life mission that embraces the philosophies of Frugality and Simplicity, I have learned to make my own home a ‘spa’, and give myself still water pedicures whenever I need to pamper my tired feet. But this was an exception I granted myself without guilt: I deserved one and had saved for the occasion.  Of course, anyone who rubs my feet is like the Pied Piper to me … I am literally putty in their hands. My foot-fetish indulgence had me rolling out of the chair an hour later and I can tell you it was pure heaven!

Lest you think that none of this is for you … think again. Maybe new age therapies are not your thing, and pedicures or massages are too decadent….  That’s okay … fill in the blanks with something else that relaxes or rejuvenates you!  It’s one thing to be spoiled and self-indulgent; I’ve never been like that and don’t like people who are.  But it’s another thing entirely to pamper ourselves because we need the attention and the healing power these things bring.  As women, we seldom take the time to do these things and they are so proactively life- and health- affirming. We NEED to do these things for ourselves as well as our families.  After all, if we get run down, sick or out of commission, everyone around us suffers!  Sweet indulgences don’t have to cost anything, either.  When my children were small and extra money was tight to non-existent, a few of us mothers would get together and give each other fruit and yogurt facials!  The companionship was fun, the temporary break was delightful, and the facials weren’t half bad either!!  (And the fruit and homemade yogurt that we didn’t absorb through our skin, we ate!!).  Think  “Home Spaaaah!”

Well gals, I am really energized, excited and ready for anything now as I get ready to pack the cars and head to New York for our son’s BIG DAY! I love him ‘to the moon and back’, I love our future daughter-in-law just as much, and no matter what the weather turns out to be, we are ‘bringing our own sunshine’ to this blessed event.  I’ll have lots to report about the wedding when I write again!  In the meantime, what do YOU do to indulge and take care of yourself? Do you ever feel guilty about it? Or are you one of those people who always denies themselves? What words of advice can you share for those of us who are struggling with these things ? I am so looking forward to hearing from you, even if it’s just a word or a line! Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi,
The Mountain Farmgirl




By: Nancy
On: 05/28/2012 12:21:06
Blessings to you and your family on this festive weekend. I envy your organization, and also the ability to take time for personal renewal when life is so busy. Silence is my balm, and I have been enjoying it today. Take care of yourself!

By: Debbie
On: 05/29/2012 06:18:23
Hi Sister Cathi!
My oh my you do have your hands full...but it sounds as if you've got things under control! I'm not surprised.. I don't think anyone could run an Inn and home school without some organizational tendencies in their blood! I'm so trilled for you and the upcoming wedding! These milestones are so fulfilling! Zach just started his first job and while it's not his wedding ( yet ) I feel so excited for him as he takes these baby steps into more responsibility as a young man...I'm beginning to see him as a husband and a father! Not too soon I hope, but you know what I mean! As for pampering ourselves... I'm getting on the phone as soon as I click the submit button for this comment. My mom and I are over-do for our luxury pedicures at a near by spa! She's been asking me when we are going again and I've been too busy in my flower farm to even think of it...Oh, my feet need it sorely!!! Thanks so much for your energizing and healing words and best to you and your family for a wonderful wedding!!! Congratulations!
much love,
your beach sister Deb!
By: Betty Benesi
On: 05/29/2012 11:21:38
About every 6 weeks, I get a pedicure Unfortunately, I usually want to go right to sleep afterwards. Once I had a reflexology foot massage. I was so surprised when I tears started rolling down my face with a memory of my mother who died when I was 9 years old. It was kind of overwhelming.
I have never been able to figure that one out, but a friend said it is not uncommon.
I have a pretty tough work schedule so it's a little hard for me to slow down, but a pedicure is sort of mini retreat.
By: Mary Beth Schwarz
On: 05/29/2012 13:39:06
Your pampering yourself is a blessing to prepare for special family days. As for me, although trained in geology and teaching, I had not worked at that for years, but in 1992 I had an opportunity to be a volunteer watching geysers for the geologist in Yellowstone National Park. It was something I wanted to do (and take my son age 16 with me so he could do the same). When I talked to my husband about my wish, he was so positive and said we could work it out. Since then I have done this every summer, though I work with the Old Faithful Visitor Center now doing several things. It restores my being to watch the remarkable geyser eruptions in an amazing natural area.
By: Vivian Monroe
On: 05/30/2012 17:24:18
Ok Cathi, I am one of those who always denies myself but after reading today, I am convinced I need a spa day and all women should take a day for themselves to totally unwind. I was almost totally relaxed just living through yours. HA! On my to do list. Have a day of relaxation. thanks

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir

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