An hour outside of DC, there is this magical place called Salamander Resort & Spa. Per founder Sheila Johnson’s guidance, this resort feels like her home. An amazing home where everything is perfect – and still feels cozy and homey. I go there for some quiet time, for some girlfriend time, and soon, hopefully for a romantic weekend getaway with my husband.
Most of all, I go there for the best massage in the world. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the spa, as they carry Alchimie Forever along with other great brands including Natura Bisse, Caudalie, Sprayology, and more. After going to the spa as a vendor partner for over a year, I decided it was time to go to the spa as a customer. So in December last year I booked a massage, forgetting to mention that I prefer a female therapist. When I got there, I was introduced to Brian. Not wanting to come off as high maintenance, I bit my lip and said nothing. Good for me, as Brian gave me the best massage I have ever had! I was back at the spa with Brian on Thursday for a second visit… this will now become a quarterly thing. Brian looks like Michael Jordan and his hands are just as large and powerful as I imagine Jordan’s to be. His fingers know to look for knots and pain points even when the guest can’t quite describe them. My theory is that is because Brian is a former horse trainer (he still fox hunts), and as such has had to figure out what horses need without them being able to speak to him.
Brian is the key to making this treatment amazing, but not the only reason I can’t stop coming back. Beyond the spa amenities, here is what makes this the best massage in the world. The spa rooms are large and have floor-to-ceiling windows that let natural light in. A sign of how someone has thought of everything is that the blinds are open during the part of the massage that happens “face down” and then closed by the therapist before the guest is invited to turn over and “face up.” The linens are the softest I have ever felt. The massage bed is heated and positioned to help the guest feel perfectly comfortable. The oil blends used during the massage are my friend Michael Scholes’ Laboratory of Flowers brand of essential oils, and the best part is that you get some at the end of the massage to take home with you, so that a little bit of the spa comes with you.
And this is just the massage… Apparently the facials are just as amazing, per BFF Heidi Kallett of The Dandelion Patch loves Huda as much as I love Brian.
Sunday was one of the happiest nights of my life. I got to see my beloved Patriots win Super Bowl 49, live, with the love of my life standing and cheering right there beside me.
There are so many amazing things about the night. Many will continue to debate and disagree, especially those fans who love the Seahawks as much as I love the Patriots. And to them, I send my love and the promise that tomorrow will be easier than today. I have felt their pain twice in the last seven years, and it sucks.
What I want to never forget about Sunday night are the lessons I was reminded of throughout the game. In effect, these are lessons I already know and are some of the reasons I love American football so much. Lessons that the Patriots embody day in and day out. Lessons that are applicable as much on the field, as off.
It’s all in (y)our head.
One might expect that throwing two interceptions in the biggest game of the year might mess with your composure, strategy, ability to execute, or that a 10-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter might mean losing faith and giving up. Not the Patriots. Mental toughness means you don’t let an interception or two rattle you. You just keep improving, keep fixing things and adjusting plays until you win.
Do your job.
While this seems obvious, it’s not as easy as it sounds. When everyone does their job, the job gets done. This resonates with me from my college rowing years. The only way for the boat to go anywhere is for every single person to show up, and do their job. Unless everyone shows up, regardless of how talented are the people on the boat who do show up, the boat does not go anywhere. When everyone shows up but the stroke tries to do the coxswain’s job, the boat does not go anywhere. Show up. Do your job, not anyone else’s job – yours.
It’s not over until it’s over.
The catch by Kearse and the interception by Butler should forever remind fans that a game can change in just a few seconds, and that the game is a sixty minute game.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
Many will say that the interception by Butler is an amazingly lucky catch. And of course, luck should not be underestimated. But luck smiles to those who are prepared for it. That play was practiced by the Patriots over and over again. Butler also recognized the Seahawks’ formation and knew a throw was coming. He positioned himself accordingly. That has nothing to do with luck. That has to do with perfect practice.
Hard work, discipline, and commitment always win.
No explanation necessary.
Humility is attractive.
While Brady once told Kraft that he was going to be the best decision the team ever made, he is graciously humble. When the team does a bad job, it is because of his “shitty throws.” When the team does a good job, it is because the team does a good job.
A piece of my heart stayed in Boston.
Boston was my first home away from home, the first American city I fell in love with. And while I consider DC (and New Orleans) my American home(s), part of my heart still (and always will) belongs to Boston, to New England. We walk to work uphill in the snow, both ways. We are tough. We love adversity (weather and otherwise). We work hard. We don’t pretend to be who we are not. We have Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon.
The Universe knows.
Most of all, I wonder in awe about how it is that I ended up at the University of Phoenix stadium last night. The short answer is that I have an amazing husband who understands my crazy passion for the Patriots. The long answer is, well, longer. A few years ago, I wrote about all of the reasons I am thankful for football. A friend in Boston read it and forwarded it to his friend, Andrea Kremer. She opened that email and read it. And then emailed me. And we have developed a friendship around our football connection. It was thanks to this friendship that Super Bowl tickets materialized. I have had on my bucket list since January 2005 to see the Patriots win a Super Bowl with Brady as quarterback and Bellichick as coach, live. Ask the Universe, and the Universe will know and answer. And thank you, Edwin for helping the Universe along.
Over the last few years, the best Christmas presents I give are the ones to my nieces, nephew, and five godchildren. Somehow there is something special about shopping for little ones. As always, I prefer to shop in boutiques. In Georgetown, my go to has been Dawn Price Baby, which is truly one of my favorites (I love their loyalty program). However, the thing with kids is that they grow. The children in my life have outgrown Dawn Price Baby, so I was on the lookout for another children's boutique, ideally located in Georgetown also.
A quick Google search provided the answer and I headed to Little Birdies on P Street. Little Birdies carries clothing, shoes and and accessories for little ones up to twelve years old, so I will be going there for a couple years!
Shanlee Johnson, the owner, was delightful from the start, steering me in the right direction for the five children I was shopping for a couple of days before Christmas. For my nephew, adorable t-shirts that are quintessentially DC, with various monuments and clever verbiage including “Abe” and “1600.” And for my nieces, amazing princes dresses like they don't make in Switzerland. And here comes the best discovery of all: the store also doss consignment, including of amazing brands such as the one preferred by Prince George (this is Georgetown after all!). So instead of getting one dress, Sasha got two.
I chatted for a few minutes with Ms. Johnson. She explained she picked the color yellow as the main accent for her boutique because it is he most cheerful and also unisex. And that business has been more challenging that she thought (she opened early spring). And that her background is indeed in retail, as she worked for Tory Burch for many years.
An overall delightful experience that makes me look forward to going back for he many children's birthdays that 2015 will surely bring.
Some of the new brands carried in the store include: Zebi Baby, Bella Tunno, Earnest Sewn, Rachel Riley, Young Versace , BabyCZ, Igor Shoes, Cienta Shoes, Rowdy Sprout, Tic Tac Toe, Wee The People, Isabel Garrenton, Magil, Chloe, Cavalli Kids, Fendi, Baby Cie, Jonah Love. Consignment brands include Burberry, Jacadi, Olive Juice, Pears & Bears, Lilly Pulitzer, Luli & Me, Bonpoint and more.