Original post October 10, 2010

Artist Carrie Brummer, Copyright 2010

Feeling stretched thin?

Perseverance can have its toll on us Creatives.  Facing fears and sticking with a project can be exhausting.  It demands that we give our bodies opportunity to slow down and gasp, even relax!

Do you know when we realize we are overextending ourselves?  When we get sick.  Then all of a sudden it occurs to us that wait, maybe we have been working real hard and that it’s time to slow down.  Ironic or fitting then I am home ill, sucking on chamomile spearmint tea, wrapped in blankets.  The question is, did thinking about the need to slow down come before or after I was starting to feel overcome?!

Being a teacher is an exhausting profession.  Being a teacher and an artist is even more tiring!  Yet while I know I have many responsibilities and a limited time to complete them in, I also know if I don’t recharge my batteries there will be nothing left to give.  We all need to recharge, regardless of our profession.

This past weekend was a fabulous “recharging experience” but perhaps did not come soon enough (thus the wrapped in blankets and tea).  For a girlfriend’s bachelorette we went to Imar Spa in Umm Al Quwain (MY kind of bachelorette let me tell you).  Umm Al Quwain is one of the smallest Emirates in the United Arab Emirates.  All I did was blink and I missed the downtown area!  It is a huge contrast to the “bright lights big city” of Dubai.

At this spa day, we signed up for a Royal Hammam and a massage.  What is a hammam you ask?  Essentially it is a steam bath but let me break it down for you.  First, three of us were told to strip naked except for disposable underwear they provided (nice to meet you May!).  One at a time we lined up against a wall and were hosed down, think large firehouse hose (not joking).  Then we were brought to another room and they covered us in mud.  We sat next to one another like sardines and steamed for 15 minutes.  From here it gets a little blurry in my memory.  I think the next step was a rinse off and then we each laid down on these mats while our wonderful Moroccan hammam ladies got their scrubbing on.  Essentially they use something like a loofah to rub off all of your dead skin.  It’s the most intense exfoliating experience I have ever had.  It clearly became a competition after to see who had the least amount of dead skin; I am proud to say I won this title.  🙂

After the exfoliating, the ladies cover you again in a mask to calm your skin and you have another rinse off.  And when I say rinse off I mean my nice hammam lady got buckets of water and dumped them over my head.  (I may have missed a step in there please comment and correct me if I need to be corrected!  As much as I loved it, it was slightly traumatizing for a woman who can be prude – thanks Mom).

By the end I had laughed so much and had been so scrubbed I felt refreshed, like a newborn baby.  And, my skin still feels fabulous.  Thank you to Nicole for arranging such a fun experience!

We all need to slow down in this fast-paced world we live in.  It is easy to get lost in the pace and forget why we are running in the first place. Perhaps you don’t have a hammam nearby to give you that reborn, refreshing experience.  Let me tell you, you are missing out!  There are plenty of alternatives, however, to recharge your body and spirit:

Take a sick day when you need it

Drink chamomile, spearmint or green tea


Take a walk

Go to the beach

Curl up in blankets and watch The Princess Bride (or insert your favorite movie here)

Get a Massage


“Finding ways to recharge (and a hammam story).” (Click to Tweet)

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Consider researching how different cultures care for themselves physically and spiritually.  Try applying some of their practices to your life!
Want to read more on hammam experiences?  Check out this article in The Washington Post about a hammam in Marrakech.