Erin’s Tchotchkes with guest star Lisa Seid

Welcome to Episode Four of Erin’s Tchotchkes! Did you miss us live on the  Simply Massage Facebook Page?  Catch the #Replay or subscribe to the Simply Massage YouTube Channel for all of my latest and greatest videos. 

This week Erin chats with Lisa Seid, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Mindful Life Solutions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lisa talks about #EMDR, sound bowl meditation, and of COURSE shares her favorite tchotchke! If you comment on the Facebook page today (Saturday, May 16, 2020) you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE 60 minute discovery session with Lisa (I love the generosity of our guests!). Drawing will take place on Sunday, May 17, 2020.

As my community give back this month, I am donating 10% of my Lemongrass Spa Products sales to Feeding America. The goal is to offer support for families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested in being a guest on Erin’s Tchotchkes? Just message, call, or text (I can’t guarantee that I can receive messenger pigeons though… just sayin’).




Erin’s Tchotchkes – Episode 1

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Erin’s Tchotchkes (auto correct really really wants me to say “hopscotch” but alas… the word is TCHOTCHKE)! This show was birthed from the pandemic known as COVID-19. Hopefully someday folks will read this and say, “Huh, I wonder what that was all about?” It was the pandemic that shut the world down with a nasty virus that originated in China. For at least eight weeks (and counting…) Americans have been on stay at home orders, we are out of work, schools have been closed for the year, families can’t visit one another and the sick are dying alone. It’s the beginning of a new normal that may very well involve prolonged social distancing and public mask wearing. My business, Simply Massage, was ordered to close by the Government along with all other “non-essential” businesses. It is an unprecedented time of uncertainty.

During the pandemic I’ve been doing all KINDS of things. Closet clean out, continuing education, home improvements, and joining the world of ZOOM meetings. The inspiration from Erin’s Tchotchkes came from a coaching group I participate in on a monthly basis. Our coach, Mina Shah, started popping in on Facebook Live every day, Monday – Friday to provide us with resources to navigate this super weird time in our lives. At the beginning of each call, while she’s waiting for everyone to hop on, she pulls something off her shelf and talks about it. The personal insight and connection it provided quickly made it my favorite part of every session. So I thought to myself, “Gee, I’d LOVE to have a show where I JUST talked about my tchotchkes.” Then I thought, “Why don’t you???” So I did. No one was stopping me except for me (story of my life folks, story of my life). 

I told my husband I was launching a show called “Erin’s Tchotchkes.” In between gaps of laughter he said, “But you hate tchotchkes!” This is true. HOWEVER, for a person who doesn’t collect things, I have an awful lot of tchotchkes that bring me an awful lot of joy. But the show needed more than just talking about trinkets to be a “show”. The platform quickly came together in my mind. I will host guests, we will share our trinkets, they will share their work, and most importantly, their GIVE BACK. Because folks, that’s really what I’ve gained from this pandemic. My massage work is my give back to my community. I help people feel better, I help them move, I give them a slice of sanity. Without it I was lost. So HOW was I going to give back without it? 

I decided to breathe some new life into another facet of my massage business: Lemongrass Spa Products. I am an independent consultant for Lemongrass and while I don’t promote it a lot, I enjoy having them as a resource to offer my clients when needed. Lemongrass offers a line of natural and organic based products for the entire family (including mine!). My dad jokes that my mother has ALL the products and my sister debates that she has more. Even my husband is #TeamLemongrass. 

In our first episode of Erin’s Tchotchkes I talk about my very first tchotchke – and possibly my favorite tchotchke – the little owl my great-grandmother gave to me right off her kitchen table when I was four or five years old. I chit chat about the pandemic, how it’s affecting my work, and launch into my April Give Back.

UPDATE: Lemongrass Spa is so generous that they donated 50 meals to Feeding America for EVERY party order submitted in April for a GRAND TOTAL OF 81,600 meals. EIGHTY-ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED. That’s HUGE and I thank every one of my peeps who joined forces with me to meet my goal! One person can make a difference – and that’s YOU my friend!

Check out Episode 1 on my YouTube channel and catch me every Saturday morning at 8:00am on Facebook Live. New guests will be joining in May and I’m so excited to share alllll of my tchotchkes with you!


With gratitude,


Dear Suzanne,

Dear Suzanne,

I expected a miracle. I had it all mapped out. I thought I saw it clearly. It was a tale friends would tell friends. How scary it was, but you were so lucky. 

But life isn’t fair sometimes.

You were on a journey. Marraige, children, a promotion. You were kicking ass and taking names. Surely you weren’t done. 

But life isn’t fair.

A young girl had lost her mother, she can’t possibly lose two. A mother and father had already lost a daughter. It couldn’t happen again. A brother had lost a sister four years ago. He wasn’t going to lose another.

Life isn’t fair.

With great suddenness you were called away. We don’t know where. We don’t know why. No one was ready. It doesn’t seem fair.

Our paths crossed twice in a lifetime, but this I know: you were loved. Your warmth will live on in the heart of your husband , your light will shine in your childrens’ eyes. You saved lives; both in life and in death.

The world was a better place because of you. Rest in peace dear cousin.

Suzanne Brown Wiesner 1970-2019

The Duke Diaries – Life Without Duke

Ted The Alarm Clock

Today is three months since our Sweet Dukie left us. Ted has really stepped up his game as Alpha. Cecilia, while I believe she could absolutely fill the role, just won’t. Ted is the new Alarm Clock – man he makes so much NOISE – and he has no concept of the 9 minute snooze. He makes little chortling noises “mmm, mmm, grunt grunt mmm mmm, grunt grunt,” usually accompanied by some sort of physical abuse. If I don’t respond rapidly enough in his furry little mind, he stands on my pillow and whacks me in the head. On occasion he will lay on my head and knead my scalp. Honestly, it feels really good, so sometimes I pretend to be asleep just to see if I’m gonna get a kitty paw scalp massage. 

He’s a pretty good food reminder – but usually only when he’s hungry. Duke would start “reminding” me at least an hour before meal time, usually with a death stare. Ted is much more vocal. He trots out, happy as a clam (he’s ALWAYS happy as a clam) and says, “Meow.”  I say, “Are you ready for dinner?” and he says, “Meow.” We chat back and forth discussing menu selection and I ask him to go get his sister… we go through a whole vocal routine which he fully participates in.

Cecilia is another story. I got them new beds: round, with high sides, fluffy, fuzzy, soft, cheap Amazon delights. They LOVE those damn beds. Cecila only gets out of hers when she gets too hot. This morning I had to coax her out to get her breakfast. She loves to prop her head against one side and stretch a leg out so its hanging off another edge. She’s happy as a… cat in a fluffy bed!

My heart still aches for Duke. I keep his yellow flower shrine going. I talk to him a little. He still watches over things for me. It makes me reflect often on loss and grief. A distant friend lost her husband 7 months ago. I think of her so very, very, often yet do not reach out as frequently as I would like. At least three people I know have lost pets in the time since I lost Duke. I think of them too. A couple very close to me suffered a miscarriage earlier this year.  My grandmother and grandfather lost their daughter a month ago.  Through their grief they are packing up their home in Arizona to move to Florida and they are planning to stay with me for a spell while we locate a new home for them. Hmmm, my Spidey Senses are tingling. Perhaps a new Blog Category: Stories of a Sicilian Grandmother? Hahahaha. Stay tuned.

Today I send out love to all of those who have lost. Right after I lost Duke, my friend sent me this TedTalk by Nora McIlnery. I love her message and I’d like to share it with you here. It’s for those who have lost, for those being supportive of those who have lost, and for people who know someone who have lost (aka this is for EVERYONE). It’s totally worth 15 minutes of your day.

Sending out love and light to all,


The Duke Diaries – Goodbye

Our Sweet Dukie crossed the rainbow bridge on April 10, 2019. I’d venture to say he was with us for exactly 10 years. He walked into our lives and into our hearts in April of 2009. That scruffy beggar cat became my greeter, my guardian, my alarm clock, my companion, my confidant, and the audience for all of my private singing and dancing one-man-shows.

Duke was the best thing that came out of Texas. We went there under less than desirable circumstances. Duke chose to spend his life with us. He brought us immense joy every day of his life. I am eternally grateful for that.

Duke was cared for by an amazing team of people. Jerry and I were both with him in his final moments. As a token of his Texas beginnings we left him with a yellow rose. It gives me a sense of peace that I can find him in every yellow rose I see from this day forward. Our vet tech created his paw print and presented it with tears. He was loved by everyone who met him.

A dear friend shared with me the belief that souls are “promoted” when they pass on from this life. Duke was SO promoted. Always the Alpha, I know his spirit is starting on amazing new things. I know he’ll always be watching me; forever my guardian.

The pain in my heart is real. It ranges from a dull ache to the stab of dagger. Simultaneously I feel a radiation of peace and relief that he is no longer suffering. He is free. He absolutely left a mark on my heart – a mark the size of Texas.

I love you Duke.

Duke and Me
March 25, 2019

The Duke Diaries – Simon

When you’re facing a loss, especially of a loved one, there’s a part of your brain that returns to the past. I found Simon as a kitten in the Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles and he only liked me. He tolerated some women and I do have photographic evidence of him on my sister’s lap. He didn’t like men and he would go through comical pains to avoid my step-son at all costs. His favorite “Erin Nook” is pictured below and he nestled in there every time I flopped on my bed to study, or read, or watch TV.

Simon in his favorite Erin Nook c 1995

Simon had tetralogy of fallot which is an uncommon and devastating heart birth defect and I was told cats born with it typically don’t live more than 6 months. Simon was with me for ten years. When it was time for Simon to cross the rainbow bridge, he had lost several teeth, he wasn’t eating, and his foot pads and nose had taken on a blue hue because of the lack of oxygen circulating through his system. He was not going to get better.

My fingers stick to the keys as I try to find eloquent words to describe playing God. Ultimately I don’t feel worthy of making these kinds of decisions. I do however, feel it’s my duty as their Guardian to provide my fur babies with the highest quality of life, and with as little suffering as humanely possible. As the vet administered the sleeping portion of the euthanasia to Simon, she told me I could put him in my lap. There’s NOTHING Simon hated more than being put anywhere involuntarily. He’d get up and move, even if he came back to the exact same space you just put him. So I didn’t put him in my lap, but I caressed him and talked to him.

I had come directly from work; when the vet’s office called me I flew out of the office mid-day, afraid he would pass before I got to him. My boss said to me later, “You’re acting like a person died,” and I told him that “animal” had been by my side longer than any man ever had. I sat on the floor next to the oxygen chamber, in my long, black, floral dress, weeping as Simon left me. I left his carrier behind. I sat in my car and sobbed. Gasping, heaving sobs. For a long time. Eventually a woman tapped on my window and I rolled it down. She said she was sorry for my loss, and then she spoke words I have never forgotten,

“They will not leave you until you’re ready.”

I don’t think I will ever be ready to let Duke go. His recent labs are not good and the vet said we should love him and be thankful for every day he’s with us. Duke’s not ready to leave me either. He’s yelling at me right now for a little more breakfast. So I’m wiping away the tears and popping open a can of Fancy Feast – this week’s favorite.