In My Humble Opinion

On your toes!

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 2/5/20

How do you combine reflexology and a tribute to the Grateful Dead, while traversing the Upper Delaware River region in search of adventure? I have no clue, but such was my challenge over the last few …

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In My Humble Opinion

On your toes!

Posted

How do you combine reflexology and a tribute to the Grateful Dead, while traversing the Upper Delaware River region in search of adventure? I have no clue, but such was my challenge over the last few days. My first stop was at River Family Wellness (RFW) in Callicoon, NY, where I had signed up to take part in a one-day-only workshop about the aforementioned reflexology. 

According to www.healthline.com, it is based on “the ancient Chinese belief in qi (pronounced “chee”), or ‘vital energy.’ According to this belief, qi flows through each person. When a person feels stressed, their body blocks qi.” 

Note to the self: Just because you use a word (like qi) four times in a sentence, doesn’t mean anyone will understand what the h-e-double- hockey-sticks you’re talking about.

Having spent a good portion of the last year learning about Chinese medicine and investigating holistic and homeopathic approaches to what ails me, it seemed only natural to look into reflexology. My online research indicated that there are ties to Chinese acupuncture, which I’ve been visiting RFW for on a weekly basis. So off I went, dog tucked neatly under my arm, to meet up with certified reflexologist Michelle Lorenzo, who lectures on a variety of topics, practices bone reading (whatever that is) and is a Reiki Master (yet another thing I do not understand). I guess I should put that on my to-do list for future study. 

So there we were—me, Dharma the Wonder Dog, our instructor Michelle and several very nice women, most of whom had heard about my famous pooch, but had no clue about who I am. Story of my life. 

Alluding to her extensive education in the field, Michelle began by explaining the ancient Chinese belief that there are dozens of pressure points, or nerve endings, on the feet and hands that correlate to an organ in the body. “You’ve heard of Chakra’s, right?” Lorenzo asked. I nodded in the affirmative, but added that my knowledge was limited. 

After briefly outlining the traditional Indian notion that chakras are the “seven centers of spiritual power in the human body” and that practicing reflexology can help align our “body, mind and spirit,” Lorenzo proceeded to elucidate. As she spoke, she showed us all how to apply pressure to the various points on our toes and feet so that we can practice on ourselves at home. The others in my group, Cindy, Heather, Bella and Rosie joined me in saying things like “ooh, I can feel that” and “there is definitely something going on here.” All the while, my pup lay quietly at my feet, watching me wiggle my toes. I enjoyed myself (thank you ladies), learned something new and chalked another one off my bucket list, with a clear intent to follow through. I’m more than a month into my 2020 resolution to make my bed every day, so anything is possible. Can bone reading be far behind?

On Sunday, I jumped (and by “jumped” I mean slowly heaved myself while groaning) into the car and headed for the Sullivan County Historical Society’s monthly “Music and History” concert series, hosted by affable duo Aldo Troiani and Carol Smith, aka Little Sparrow. Now married six years, the not-so-newlyweds have a lovely natural style of working with each other and (if I’m not mistaken) I once described them as “the Sonny and Cher” of the Catskills, referring to her droll comic timing and his infectious grin. While ribbing each other and members of the band—Kurt Knuth, Jay Brooks and Bob Scherer—Smith explained the couple’s musical mash-up. 

“I know a lot of beautiful, sweet songs, and he knows a lot of rock and roll,” she said to the packed house, “so together we tell a story.”

“We actually met at WJFF,” the award-winning public radio station in Jeffersonville, NY, “and I instantly fell in love.” Aldo explained. That said, Carol fittingly began the concert with Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” before Aldo launched into Stevie Wonder’s “I was made to love her.” 

Sharing some anecdotes about the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia performing in clubs and bars throughout the Catskills back in the day, Carol expressed the sentiment behind the series of concerts. “We want to honor the musical heritage and magic of the region. This next song [the Dead’s ‘Althea’] is typically sung by a male,” she explained, “But I’m gonna give it a go.”

Backing Smith and Troiani with great finesse, band mates Knuth, Brooks and Scherer are all insanely accomplished musicians, with bass guitar player Knuth standing out (IMHO) on several occasions with solo riffs. Brooks wisecracked about having been “fired” repeatedly, as Aldo shot back. “Please don’t address Jay directly,” he advised with a smirk. “It’ll only egg him on.” 

“I took piano lessons as a girl, and was painfully shy,” Carol said before the band’s final dreamy musical homage to all things Grateful Dead, “But I never imagined that I’d wind up playing with a jam band in Hurleyville, NY.” 

I wonder if tapping my toes triggered the nerve endings on my feet enough to align myself body, mind and spirit. Stranger things have happened. 

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