Soulstice Spa Blog

Springtime Health Hacks! --- Guest Post by Brittany Carlson April 26 2017

Join us for our very first Women in Wellness Night!   Network with other women interested in health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and allied fields.  We'll mix and mingle from 6:30pm-7pm, then enjoy an interactive panel of nutrition experts. Special thanks to our partner SkinSpirit, who will gift the first 20 registrants with a complimentary B12 shot - sweet!

Glowing skin?  Radiant health?  Resilient immune system?  Vibrant energy? All of these things and more begin with your liver and digestive health. Explore the importance of detoxification with an amazing panel of three local nutrition experts. 

Brittany Carlson of Wellbeing with Brittany will present How to Improve Digestion and Repair Your Gut.  Digestive discomfort can ruin your entire day. It can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and exhausting. Brittany will share her top recommendations for improving your digestive health and creating a healthy gut so you can live your life to it's fullest.

Below, Brittany shares some of her favorite Health Hacks --- join us Thursday April 27th to learn more!

Cold Showers to Improve Digestion
Over the past 6 months, I have been ending my hot showers with 1 minute of cold water. Why would I put myself through this? My goal is to tone my vagus nerve, a nerve with many branches running from the brainstem at the back of your head to the base of your neck. The vagus nerve is the main highway in the nervous system, connecting the brain and gut. A healthy vagus nerve is essential for digestion. It stimulates enzyme secretion, increases the flow of bile to break down fat, and triggers peristalsis, which supports the movement of food through your intestines. The vagus nerve is also associated with insulin secretion and a well functioning immune system.

As someone who runs cold, I was hesitant to do this at first since I wanted to be warm getting out of the shower. I quickly realized that I was actually warmer stepping out of a cold shower versus a hot shower as cold water increases blood circulation. The last minute of my shower, I let the cold water hit the back of my neck and then rinse my whole body. It is truly invigorating! I built my way up from 10 seconds to 1 minute over time. I recommend giving yourself at least 10 days of ending on cold water before you give up— it quickly becomes a habit and is now something I don’t go without!

Collagen for Gut Support
Every day, I add 2 teaspoons of collagen to my morning smoothie. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is found in your skin, nails, digestive tract, muscles and bones. In terms of gut support and repair, it is essential. Collagen helps to repair the gut wall, strengthening the cells lining your intestines so you don’t absorb foods that are not completely broken down. It also promotes bile and enzyme secretion to aid in the digestion of fats. In fact, some of my most sensitive IBS clients unable to tolerate digestive enzymes and/or probiotic supplements start with collagen. It is a gentle way to assist your body in digestion, supporting the body’s overall foundation.

Check out my daily smoothie below— while it's basic, it keeps me fueled for several hours and is low glycemic to keep my blood sugar balanced. If you want a thicker smoothie, try adding avocado or banana.
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons collagen
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Green Tea for Improved Blood Sugar Balance
I gave up my daily morning cup of coffee this year and substituted it with matcha green tea, ground Japanese green tea leaves. I didn’t want to give up caffeine completely but I wanted to reduce my intake. To compare the two, coffee has 100mg of caffeine per cup while matcha has about 25-30mg of caffeine per cup— which for me, is still enough to get me going. I’m not against coffee for everyone but since I gave it up, I experience a more consistent energy throughout the day and no longer have an afternoon slump. Since my lull is gone, so is my daily dose of dark chocolate and overall cravings for sugar. A 2006 Annals of Internal Medicine study found that there is an inverse relationship between diabetes and green tea consumption; people that consume green tea are less likely to develop type II diabetes. In this particular study, green tea reduced fasting glucose levels and A1c markers. 

My morning matcha drink recipe is below, incase you want to give it a try! 

2 teaspoons of matcha (I use Two Hills Organic Matcha)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 cup of coconut milk (I use Native Forest Simple Coconut Milk)
1 cup of water 
Whisk ingredients together and enjoy! If you like your matcha extra hot, put ingredients into a saucepan to heat.

For more health tips and recipes, visit my website.

Happy, Healthier, More Centered - Learn Vedic Meditation in Marin with James Brown June 22 2016

We're very excited to join James Brown and Vedic Path Meditation for a special group course in Marin County July 5th-July 8th, held at a gorgeous private home in Tiburon, CA.  As a bonus, the first ten people to sign up will receive a complimentary massage at Soulstice Mind + Body Spa in Sausalito - calm your mind, treat your body and nurture your soul!

Spaces are limited to 15 participants... please reserve your spot here:

Here James shares more about the amazing benefits of a daily meditation practice...

"Ongoing scientific research on meditation continues to show remarkable benefits in terms of both health and happiness. If you’re interested we could talk about this stuff for hours. For now, here’s a quick summary of some of the practical, real-world benefits that students report from regular practice of Vedic Meditation. The best part is that most feel some positive effects within just the first couple days of learning, and it just gets better after that.

Stress release

This is the big one for most people. That’s because the single greatest obstruction to our health and well-being is stress. Medical research estimates as much as 90% of all health problems are caused or aggravated by stress. The unique state of rest that is achieved during meditation allows the body to launder years of accumulated stress physiologically. It also allows the body’s natural healing mechanisms to function fully and in doing so promotes a state of balance and health. People who practice the Vedic Meditation technique say they have less stress, more energy, and less tension in their lives. Many find it easier to reduce alcohol use, stop smoking, and let go of unhealthy habits. Research also shows that they have lower medical costs, fewer doctor visits, and less hospitalization. All from closing your eyes for 20 minutes twice a day and silently repeating your mantra. Sounds amazing, but it’s true.

Better sleep and more energy

About half of my students come to the course complaining of poor sleep. And it’s no wonder because when we’re stressed, one of the first things to be compromised is the quality of our sleep. The unfortunate paradox is that sleep is also our first line of defense against the harmful effects stress. Fortunately, very soon after learning to meditate, most people report an improvement in their quality of sleep which means they arise rested, with more energy, ready to get things done. It’s also interesting to note that, after a year or so of meditation, many people report needing about an hour less sleep a night.

More creativity

A recent study showed similar brain-wave patterns in babies, jazz musicians in the middle of improvisation and meditators. What this shows is that meditation allows us to cultivate a way of being that opens us up to all possibilities, without the negative effects of fear and anxiety. Not a bad thing to have in your toolbox when you’re trying to come up with creative and innovative solutions to the challenges of modern life.

Less reactivity to stressful events

One of the most comforting, real-world benefits of learning this technique is that we find it’s harder to knock us off our game. We simply begin to lose the ability to lose it…especially in situations where it’s really not appropriate. Like when we’re behind the wheel. Or dealing with our kids. Or customer service people. And if we do get angry about something we find it easier to let go of that anger and return to an even keel.

Live in the moment

Most of us spend a good part of our lives regretting or rehashing the past and worrying about the future. This non-stop brain chatter is what both prevents us from being in the moment and adds an unhealthy amount of drama to our lives. Vedic Meditation allows us to turn down the volume on that brain chatter so that it’s less distracting, allowing us to focus on what’s happening right here, right now. The most interesting thing is the Vedic Meditation allows you to be more in the moment without asking you to focus on doing that. The benefit arises as a consequence of the practice, not as the goal.

Better mental clarity and focus

Clear thinking is vital for everyone, because it’s the state of our minds that determines the overall quality of our experiences.  During Vedic Meditation the mind gains direct access to the deeper, quieter, more powerful and intuitive levels of thinking. This experience systematically expands consciousness and infuses the mind with creativity and intelligence, bringing improvements in all aspects of mental performance and perception. After meditating, the mind is fresher, quieter, more alert and happier. Awareness shifts and one finds they begin to respond in a completely different way to demands and pressure. Studies show that in the brains of long-time meditators the connective fiber between different areas of the brain, including the corpus callosum, get thicker. Meditation is like a push-up for your brain…and this isn’t just a colorful metaphor, it’s the conclusion of a recent study at UCLA.

Better Decision Making (especially under pressure)

Within just six weeks of learning this technique meditators have shown measurable increases in performance in something called “executive function.” What this means is that their ability to stay calm, while making accurate decisions under pressure improves. This has all sorts of relevant real-world benefits for actual executives, high-performance athletes, and the people who really need it the most – parents.

Freedom from addictive behavior

When we engage in addictive behavior we are trying, in vain, to fill a hole we feel in ourselves. But no matter how much alcohol or drugs or sex or food or video games or gambling or whatever we try to pour into our lives it’s a hole we can never fill. The 11th step of every 12-step program is meditation. Why? Because the only substance with which we can fill the hole we feel in ourselves is with love for ourselves. The practice of Vedic Meditation gives us a direct experience, twice a day, of our essential self. It’s a very healing and nourishing way to better know and love ourselves.

Better relationships

It’s not exactly difficult to understand why when we’re healthier, happier and living more in the moment we’re a lot easier to be around. And that ends up being a good thing for the other people in our lives, and attracts better people to our life.

Better knowledge of self

Twice a day, Vedic Meditation gives you a direct experience of your most essential self; of that unique kernel of awareness that lies at the core of your being. And it gives you this knowledge not through hours of exhaustive talk therapy, but by allowing your mind to settle effortlessly into it’s own depths. What results is that you feel more grounded in the person you truly are, and are more able to both hear and honor the impulses that rise from within."

Embracing Change in your Massage Experience June 06 2016

When it comes to massage therapy, your rapport with your Massage Therapist is a meaningful part of your overall experience.  In order to fully relax - both mentally and physically - it's important to feel at ease and place trust in your therapist.  Each individual therapist brings their own unique skills to the table, but they also bring their own energy, personality and communication style as well.  It is our job at the reception desk to try to match each client to the very best therapist for them on any given day - this massage matchmaking is perhaps the most important part of our job!

Sometimes a perfect match is made on the very first visit; other times it might take a bit more 'shopping around' and trying different therapists and massage styles.  Once a client really 'clicks' with a particular therapist, they frequently prefer to request that therapist for all of their future visits.  For weeks or months, the client will love coming in, typically seeing amazing progress on whatever issues originally led them in --- their rotator cuff shows greater mobility, their knee is less inflamed, their sciatica flare has disappeared --- until hopefully the issue is completely resolved. 

This is ideal, but it also might mean you're ready for a new massage therapist!

When we are growing, we are changing... and with those changes come changes in our individual bodywork needs.  For example, the physical issues that originally led you to massage therapy may now be much improved, but now you're experiencing anxiety or mental stress more than physical pain.  While all massage therapy will benefit you, each therapist has different strengths and excels at working with different types of people and issues.  One therapist might be a wizard with neck work, while another is magical with migraines.  As your body and mind change over time, so may your needs and therapist.

How do you know when it's time for a change??

If you've been receiving regular massage from the same therapist, over time you may experience feeling in a rut, a plateau or strange disconnect from your therapist.  You may not leave feeling the same euphoric feeling you have left with in the past.  You usually won't be able to quite put your finger on why, but you may have an innate feeling that your body needs to mix it up or try something new.  More often than not, your therapist is feeling it too!

If you have been experiencing a lot of transition and change in your life, our goal as therapists is to meet you where you are in any given visit.  Many of our clients worry that if they want to try a new therapist that they may hurt the feelings of their current therapist - you won't!  Our therapists understand that people's needs change over time...  Moreover, our therapists work as a team, respect each other's talent immensely, and encourage clients to experience the unique skills and healing touch that everyone brings to the table.  The goal for all of us at Soulstice is for you to get the perfect care you need as your body, mind and spiritual needs grow and shift over time.  If you need help, our caring reception team is here to help your bodywork and massages reflect the needs of evolving you...    See you soon!



Let Freedom Ring! ~ Mind, Body + Spirit May 29 2016

Massage Brain.  Massage Daze.  Spa Stupor.  We jokingly call it many things, but the contented, blissed-out state that our clients emerge from their sessions in are an important opportunity to soak up all the amazing benefits of massage.

A great massage reorganizes your senses and brings you into touch with your body.  It's not unusual during the course of a massage to be surprised by how tight or stressed certain parts of your body really are...  Likewise, you may suddenly feel neural sensations or energetic connections from one part of your body to another, leading you to feel a brand new sense of wholeness.  As overworked muscles and knots are unwound, your entire body will shift to accommodate this newfound sense of freedom and ease of movement.  Once your focus shifts from the processing, thinking, analytical mind and deepens into the physical, intuitive, heart-centered realm of the body, you will experience what it means to really be "in your body."  At times and for some, this sensation can occasionally be a disconcerting feeling.

Touch, more than any other sensation, holds the key to bringing us into greater physical awareness and wholeness.  It's that head-to-toe warm fuzzy feeling you feel when holding a brand new baby, snuggling your beloved pet, or while in the embrace of an amazing kiss.  Most of us dwell in our minds most of our waking hours - thoughts of the past, present and future flow together in an unending stream.  Touch can lead us deeper, beyond the plane of mental chatter, and open us physically, mentally and spiritually.

All of the positive effects of massage - enhanced mobility and range of motion, freedom in your joints and tissues, a spacious and peaceful mind, a calm, contented heart - will be prolonged if you can create space following your session.  

Whenever possible, schedule special free time to follow your massage where you may continue to feel and experience these shifts and changes.  Give yourself space, freedom and time to absorb and integrate the transition.  Here are some tips from our team of therapists: 

1. If you live near the coast or a body of water, plan a gentle stroll nearby.  Natural elements - water, soil, sand - soothe and calm the spirit.  Being outdoors in nature, catching some natural sunlight and fresh air will nurture your massage's effects.  

2.  Don't. Do. Anything.  The best thing you can do is just, well, be.  Take a few minutes to sit and remain in a state of non-thinking.  Listen to your breath.  View the clouds, the trees, the landscape and just feel.

3.  Ground yourself.  The sensation of truly being in your body and feeling at a deeper level can leave you feeling out of sorts, confused and unable to think clearly.  It's a great time to kick off your shoes and ground yourself to the earth, perhaps in your garden or a nearby park.

4. Schedule at least an hour of nothing after your massage.  No phone calls, no meetings, no tv or reading.  Just let your mind remain in the "off" position a little longer.

5. Embrace silence.  Feeling fully in your body will make you feel whole and complete in a way you may have never felt before.  The more you're grounded within yourself, the less outside stimulus you will need to feel fully - colors will be more vibrant, tones will be richer, feelings will be deeper.  Enjoy the new level of internal sensitivity that comes with quieting your external surroundings.


Our "Best" Massage Therapist March 29 2016

“So, who is your best therapist?”

Our “best therapist.”  As the founder of Soulstice Spa, I get asked this question pretty often, and it still makes me smile nearly four years after we opened in Santa Rosa with just four therapists.  We didn’t have a “best” therapist then, and today with over two dozen therapists in two locations… we still don’t!

In our competitive and achievement-oriented society we like to rate and rank, well, just about everything.  As kids we’re awarded stickers and stars, then given grades and ribbons… As adults we’re conditioned to judge people by their degree, their alma mater and their title, as if these things signify meaning, value, or importance.  We weigh, we analyze, we think-think-think.  We’re influenced to look for superficial markers of success and stamps of approval – degrees from top-rated schools, certifications for all kinds of specialties, and an assumption that things that cost more are better and more worthwhile.  The problem with all of this weighing and ranking and thinking is that it gets in the way of what the human experience is all about = being and feeling in the present moment.  It’s impossible to go deeply within, relaxing the body and opening the heart, while constantly judging the external with our thinking mind. 

Individuals come to massage therapy for all kinds of reasons… Some reasons are physical (pain, discomfort, range of motion limitations and muscular knots) some are mental (stress, overstimulated nervous systems, anxiety) while others seek a spiritual connection (deeper self-awareness, connection, healing.)  There is no one “best” therapist because what is “best” will be different for each and every person, and it will change over the course of one’s lifetime.

Traditionally and historically, spas have offered a menu of services where guests can choose between types of massage like Swedish, sports massage or deep tissue.  It’s more about the process, and less about the person.  A client’s choice from a menu tells us a little bit about their preferences in a massage, but is only one page of a larger, more important story.  We have a different philosophy at Soulstice:  we listen and focus on the type of massage each client is seeking, but we also want to know who you are.  We strive to create an experience that addresses how you feel, not only what you think.  And for each person this is going to be unique, personal and vary in any given moment.

How do we learn who is the “best” therapist for you?  By listening.  You can help us learn what and who is best for you by giving us time with you and sharing a bit of yourself with our caring staff.  We believe massage therapy has a special, meaningful role in everyone’s life.  To be silent, still and connected to another person who has no intention other than to provide you with caring, healing and love is a special thing.  We can provide you with your best experience – and the “best therapist” for you – the better we know the authentic you.  Thank you for trusting us to care for you… mind, body and spirit!

Finding Your Perfect Massage Match! March 01 2016

An important part of what makes an amazing massage therapy experience is having a wonderful rapport and connection with your therapist. Each of our therapists at Soulstice is unique and brings his or her own individual skills, training and background to the table. We embrace the diversity of our team, encourage them to be themselves and support them in customizing their massages for each client.

Our fantastic reception team excels at matching each customer to the perfect therapist according to their needs. They are trained to ask questions… What type of pressure do you prefer for your massage? Are you seeking therapeutic bodywork for a specific physical pain, or looking for a more relaxing experience? Are there any modalities that you especially love, such as shiatsu or reflexology? A basic understanding of the type of massage you enjoy provides our team with the minimum information we like to have while booking your first massage with us.

Just as important though, our team wants to know how you hope to feel and gauge your expectations for your visit. Are you experiencing a great deal of stress and need to calm your nervous system? Are you feeling low energy and hope to leave uplifted and revitalized? Are your back and hips locked up from sitting in a desk chair and need to be unwound? Each of our therapists excels at easing different mental, physical and emotional conditions, and we encourage our customers to communicate with our team in order to get the best result.

Here are a few hints and tips to help you receive your best massage ever!

- Take your time when booking your introductory massage at Soulstice. Please don’t rush through booking your appointment, book while driving or multi-tasking, or book your first appointment over email. We can do our best job of matching you if you give us an ability to get to know you, please do!

- Cushion your massage time with special “you” time… If possible, please don’t pack your massage day to the gills so you’re rushing into your massage or racing out the door afterwards. The benefits of your massage will be enhanced exponentially if you arrive early and have time to unwind, relax and clear your head before your session. Afterward, give yourself some space to soak up all the amazing vibes you just received, hydrate your body and ease back into the world.

- Give us some time to get to know you! We care about our customers very much, and want you to have the best experience possible. Let us get to know you both over the phone as well as during your visit. If you can come in a bit early, please do! Our reception team enjoys getting to know you, learning about your work and lifestyle, and hearing about your hopes and expectations for your massage. The better we know you, the better we can create a great experience for you.

- If you’re booking a massage for a spouse or loved one, please keep in mind that they may enjoy an entirely different type of massage than you do. In the case of many couples, one of you may adore very deep tissue work while the other prefers a gentler, nurturing touch. Whenever possible, we love to speak directly to the person receiving the massage to ensure we’re matching them with their ideal practitioner.

- For your best massage match, please give our team some time and flexibility by booking in advance. All of our therapists are amazing in their own way, but it is likely there are a select few that will be the absolute best matches for your needs. When you book last-minute, it limits our options for you. We understand that life is busy, but give this gift to yourself. By giving us some lead time and allowing us to listen carefully to your preferences, we can create a special experience just for you.

We look forward to caring for you soon!

A Note from Our Founder February 13 2014

If you've visited us at Soulstice Spa, you can probably tell that we love what we do!  With over a dozen talented, diverse massage therapists, our goal is to provide you with caring and friendly service, a warm and comforting setting and - most of all - an amazing massage.  Through our Wellness Membership Program, we strive to make massage therapy affordable to everyone.  At just $2/per day - less than the cost of a cup of coffee! - you receive a world-class monthly massage as well as other member perks.
A big heartfelt "thank you" goes to all of you, who have so warmly embraced us as we opened and grew, and who presently trust us to care and partner with you in your health & well-being.  Massage Therapy has so many physical, mental and spiritual benefits, and we're truly honored to get to know all of our many Members and customers.  We appreciate that all of you come to visit us for different reasons.  Some of you wish to relieve physical aches and pains, a sports injury, or a chronic condition.  Others are taking care of elderly parents, going through cancer treatment, coming through a divorce or dealing with significant work stress.  We've worked with some of you throughout your pregnancy and welcomed a new baby, or grieved through the loss of a loved one.  We are here to help however we can, to care, to relieve stress in your body and mind, and be a comforting place you always look forward to visiting.  It's why we do what we do! 
If you haven't visited us at Soulstice Spa yet, you may wonder how we're different than the spa franchises and chains out there... 
1/ We are a female-owned, locally-based company here in Sonoma County.  We create jobs, pay taxes and keep money in our state and local community.  We *love* seeing familiar faces and hope to be a place you always look forward to visiting...whether it's once a week, each and every month or a few times each year.
2/ Our owner & founder, Kayse Gehret, is a massage therapist with an international clientele, passion for the industry and dedication to her craft and colleagues.  These folks own Massage Envy
3/ Tired of heavy-handed sales tactics, lengthy legal contracts and remote service?  So are we!  We treat our customers the way we would love to be treated by the companies we deal with, and pride ourselves on being straightforward, accessible and uncomplicated.  Our Membership is designed to make the healthy practice of regular massage therapy easy, fun, affordable and something you look forward to every month! 
4/ We provide massage therapy customized to each and every client, and encourage our gifted staff to be themselves and express their training and talent.  Massage is equal parts art and science, anatomy and intuition.  We don't believe in a one-size-fits-all standardized massage experience.  Your massage should be as unique as you are!
5/ We love massage and believe it can be an amazing preventative health practice, a powerful stress-reducer, an ally for your well-being and, sometimes, a truly life-changing experience.  We're grateful to practice in such a beautiful part of the world and share it with all of you.
A huge thanks to so many of you who have referred in your friends, family and colleagues; it's the greatest compliment we can receive!   Thanks too for taking the time to review us on sites such as Facebook, Tripadvisor, Google and Yelp.  We appreciate organizations like GoLocal, Sonoma County Tourism, the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market and the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, who do so much to shine a light on local businesses like ours.  We've loved getting to know and caring for all of you over the last year and a half, and we look forward to seeing you soon.  
Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Soulstice!

Staying Soothed and Sane this Holiday Season! November 09 2013


The holidays are a time of celebration, joyful reunions and shared meals and laughter...  However they can also be a time of traffic jams, long lines and high expectations.  For many, the weeks leading up to the new year can be the most stressful of the year.  Stress leads to muscular tightness, lowered immune system, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression.  Rushing around, tense and anxious, are not what the holidays are meant to be about... so make a pact with yourself that you will float through this holiday season feeling calm, peaceful and detached from the stress that so many in our society get caught up in.

Here are some of our best tips to help you stay physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy!

1/ Unplug.  Choose to turn off the television, talk radio and popular magazines that bombard you with the non-stop marketing of gift-giving. 

2/ Choose experiences over "things."  If you do participate in gift-giving, make a conscious effort to give meaningfully, not out of a sense of guilt or pressure from society.  Shared meals, experiences, outings... these things often mean much more than widgets.

3/ Pre-plan "you time."  This one is important!  The holidays are a time when many are running around like mad; it's very easy to let your health and self-care go by the wayside.  Now more than ever, it's important you take care of yourself, so schedule time for healthy activities like exercise, yoga, massages, and walks in fresh air.  Yes, that's right!  Pick up your planner right now and schedule in "you time" each week from now until the clock strikes 2014.

4/ Get your shopping done early.  Avoid malls and corporate America.  Shop local and buy from small businesses.  Waiting till the last minute and "door-busting" big business isn't good for your sanity or your community. By shopping local, you help keep money in your community, create jobs and get to know the people who are making your goods and providing your services.  You'll feel great knowing you're supporting people you actually know, and chances are you'll be much more appreciated as a customer than you will at the mall.

5/ Get a massage or two!  I know, I know... I can hear what you're saying: "I don't have TIME for a massage!"   But it is precisely because you're busy that you most need a massage.  Massage relieves stress, reduces anxiety and makes you feel like everything in life is that much more manageable.  By renewing your mind, body and spirit, you'll stay strong and healthy and better able to enjoy the true spirit of the holidays. 

From now through December 24, 2013, we're offering a special Give One Get One Massage Special to help make massage convenient and affordable for you, and a thoughtful and meaningful gift for a loved one or colleague.  For $99, you receive a 50-Minute Massage for yourself plus a 50-Minute Massage Gift Card to gift to someone special.  To take advantage of this special package, please stop by the spa or phone us at 707-843-3539.

Cheers to a beautiful holiday season!!