Blast from the past gets one thinking

Deb Perkinson
Deb Perkinson

A little over a year ago, I ran into a woman whom I hadn’t seen since high school. The circumstances weren’t ideal. She had dropped by The Trib to talk about an obituary for her father — the late, great Coach Phil Prijatel, a coaching/sports icon at San Luis Obispo High for 34 years who had recently died at the age of 90.

The woman was Debra (Prijatel) Perkinson, Coach’s daughter.

The thing that struck me as almost otherworldly about Deb at the time was that she embodied the boomer conceit that 60 is the new 40: Even though obviously mourning the loss of her father, she exuded a glow; her skin was young, her eyes almost twinkled with clarity, and she carried herself with a feline grace.

Cripes, I thought, she’s just a couple years older than me, yet she could easily pass as 20 years younger, if not more. When I asked how she kept so young, she mentioned being a coach and teacher in a variety of water therapies, and that was about the size of it.

But, as Paul Harvey was wont to say, now for the rest of the story

Come to find out, Deb Prijatel left San Luis Obispo after graduation from high school with the expectations of being a traditional mother and wife. Although she got the motherhood, the marriage didn’t last, and she went to work as an accountant/office manager in property management in Northern California.

Curiosity led her to seek out self-help relaxation therapies. So, in the early 1990s, after reading Deepak Chopra’s books on balanced bodies healing themselves, she became certified in Reiki healing and aquatic aerobics.

As for Reiki, for those unfamiliar, it’s a Japanese compilation of two words, Rei and Ki. Rei can be defined as a higher intelligence, while Ki is the nonphysical energy that animates all living things. Ki is also known as Chi in China, the prana of India and Ti of the Hawaiians.

For some Western minds, this is where a chorus of Kumbaya is cued. Yet, considering that Western medicine is pretty much predicated on pills and invasive techniques, can a couple thousand years of cultural life force realignment be dismissed out of hand?

Or put another way, would you rather heal yourself using meditation/prayer and focusing an innate life force as opposed to surgery and drugs?

So Deb’s direction in life took a wholesale turn to the holistic. From Reiki and water aerobics, she pursued certification in massage and aquatic integration, or AI, and offers AI through sessions called Body By Water (although Fountain of Youth might be appropriate, too).

She can be contacted at debra@bodybywater.com or at 805-704-2334.

“Aquatic integration is a unique approach to hydrotherapy that relaxes the muscles while supporting the entire spine,” she explains. “The warmth and buoyancy of the water encourages a deep state of relaxation allowing for the release of body restrictions, holding patterns, stress, tension and subtle trauma.”

And, as it turns out, the secret to good health at any age is a matter of backbone, a supple spine to be more precise: “Remember, you are as young as your spine is flexible,” she says. “Keep it supple, and your body will serve you all the days of your life.

“I’m having loving, good feelings about the work I have chosen and to be of service to my community. I grew up here, and it’s important to have full circle for me. Especially that I’m Coach’s daughter what else?”

Bill Morem can be reached at bmorem@thetribunenews.com or at 805-781-7852.