Procrastinators, take heart! If you’ve waited until the last minute to fill Christmas stockings or pump up the pile under the tree, here are some easy things to choose just in time for the holiday. Any one of them will bring a smile and have the added benefit of enriching the life of the recipient. Some of these suggestions involve a gift certificate so you can purchase them quickly, easily and at the last minute if you wish. The emphasis is on offering something for the mind, body and spirit. Rubber neck: Give her (or him) a gift certificate for a therapeutic massage. The next best thing to doing it yourself is having a pro do it for you. And let’s face it: They are probably better at it. For a good, affordable opportunity, there are local massage school clinics offering full massages at a great price. Universal College of Healing Arts is one I recommend. The clinic is a great setting with spacious and comfortable private rooms. A single session can run as low as $30 with a student or $50 for a licensed graduate. UCHA also offers yoga classes. Gift certificates are available for both. Puppy Love: Research has found that when humans pet a dog our brain produces the natural hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is the “feel good” hormone released when we fall in love or experience a deep emotional moment — the love drug. It causes us to feel blissful and content. It also lowers blood pressure and stress, adding to our good health. So it seems the classic Christmas gift of a puppy or dog benefits them and us. Animal shelters and rescue groups are a good place to find a last minute doggie gift. Puppies are at a premium so consider an adult dog. Many rescue groups are breed-specific so just Google for your favorite. It is particularly rewarding to find a pet that has special needs or is in a hospice situation. Shopping is good: For all the bad rap consumerism gets, it turns out that a good shopping spree releases endorphins, more “feel good” hormones that can act as natural pain killers and mood enhancers. Shopping takes on a special meaning when the gift certificate is to a place like Next Millennium Books and Gifts (3141 N. 93rd St.) Loaded with metaphysical, spiritual and healing related gifts and books, this store is among the most unique in the Metro area. I like it because it’s an easy place to shop — open and bright. And if a gift certificate isn’t in the cards for you, it’s a great place to put a personal stamp on a holiday gift by finding something you may not find in other area stores. Word: Take this holiday season as an opportunity to say “adios” to an old friend. Pageturners Used Books at 5004 Dodge St. is in the closing chapter of its 18-year old story. It’s a sad story but true. Pageturners is the ultimate “green” business. Rather than add to landfills with books and other media, they get recycled the best way possible: by reusing them. For the next few weeks (and certainly in time for Christmas,) the deep discounts on books of all genre, videos and even some audio CDs that you see at Pageturners will be even deeper, no doubt, as closeouts happen. Give it up: Here is a gift you can give yourself by giving it away: Donate some time or some things to a charitable organization. The feeling of fulfillment that comes along with giving to others is something that lasts all year long. And getting rid of “stuff” you don’t need can be good for your health. According to the teaching of the ancient art of feng shui, clutter can clog your energy and keep you from your important goals of health and prosperity. Look around the apartment or house. If it’s still useful but just not to you, get it to someone who can use it. For the record, May 14, 2011 is Give Your Stuff Away Day. The Crown Jewel: For the true E Ticket under the tinsel, consider sending your special friend (and yourself, of course,) for a stay at The Raj, the four-star spa and health center in Fairfield, Iowa. This gift isn’t for everyone, only those willing and open-minded enough to experience one of the most ancient healing arts while enjoying a stay in a luxurious French-country-styled mansion in a rural setting in Iowa. The Raj is a true medical spa with staff physicians trained in the traditional ayurvedic therapies. You and your guest would be pampered in a peaceful setting while practicing yoga twice daily (if desired,) enjoying world-class epicurean vegetarian cuisine and luxuriating in the Five Steps of Panchakarma. Starting with an evaluation of your basic needs, a dietary plan is designed specifically for your stay. Massage oil used for your therapeutic treatments is custom blended by the technicians using special herbs, then stored in a large container with your name. It is used for massages, bodywork and the famous shiradara treatment, a relaxing, meditative session in which the warmed oil is drizzled slowly over the forehead and through the scalp as the head is massaged. Abhyanga and pizzacilli are two more exotic forms of ayurvedic massage. Abhyanga is often performed by two massage therapists working in unison as each mirrors movements in concert. Pizzacilli heats the large reservoir of custom oil as it is pumped over the body on a special table that collects the oil overflow. To maintain temperature balance, a swath of cloth containing a peppermint oil emulsion is placed on the crown chakra. A visit to The Raj will leave a guest rejuvenated, purified and energized to start the New Year. See for more information. Be well.

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