This year’s birthday was different and better than most. First of all, I didn’t have to attend any late night meetings immediately before, during or after the date to observe the annual ritual of the school board approving the next year’s budget. Instead, I could take advantage of a generous retirement gift from four friends and spend a few hours oblivious to everything else in the world at Ummelina Spa.
I should explain that I went to Ummelina two days before my birthday. What better way to make a celebration last than to start early! I chose three treatments that I thought would be more than suitable to kick off a birthday weekend.
My first step toward oblivion consisted of an African foot bath. This was billed as a soothing foot and lower leg massage, coupled with an African Shea butter treatment and a hot towel wrap; it lived up to its billing, but was a little disappointing in its lack of intensity, perhaps because I had sampled and loved foot baths and vigorous foot and calf massages in China a few years ago and was expecting a similar experience here. However, it set the tone of calmness, a slowed-down pace, and restfulness for the rest of the afternoon.
Part 2 consisted of a Thai massage, which, simply put, feels like having someone do yoga to you. It is described on the Ummelina website this way: The stretching in Thai Massage is very similar to Yoga poses, however the practitioner will be able to take the client further into the pose than they could do by themselves. We also help our clients hold the poses longer so that they are able to get the full benefit of each stretch. Thai Massage is very beneficial to help lengthen the muscles, relieve tension and stress in the muscle, and relax your mind and body. I remember clearly that after 45 minutes of Thai massage I had reached complete oblivion. “Please don’t make me ever leave here,” were my exact words to “the practitioner,” despite the fact that I was letting her push and pull my legs, hips, and arms every which way. I don’t remember the next 45 minutes.
I ended this total body extravaganza with a session of hot oils being rubbed into my head and scalp. Truly a head to toe, or rather, a toe to head experience.
Following my spa treatments I met my husband and two friends for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant that most people don’t know about, but should: Portfolio Restaurant at the Art Institute Seattle. It’s a training center for culinary students who cook and bake everything on the menu. The food is excellent, prices are right and the view of Elliott Bay is incomparable.
The following evening, the endless birthday continued by our hearing Ira Glass of This American Life (NPR) fame in a live performance. I have only listened to the radio show a few times, but I still remember parts of the stories I heard a few years ago, because they were, well, memorable. Glass was laugh-out-loud funny. I even learned something from him. I’m trying to apply his formula for a good story — action, action, action, reflection — as I start to write my so-called “memoir” of life in school PR.
The birthday events ended Sunday with a trip to Seattle’s Chinese Garden for a welcoming party for artisans from Chongqing, China, who are living in trailers on the garden site while they finish construction of the first pavilion, probably around Thanksgiving. I was sorry to have arrived too late to see the Lion Dancers, but did catch the children performing a Happy Birthday dance (see kids with red banners above). Since they gave us no clue as to whose birthday they were celebrating, it was easy to conclude it was mine.