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The Color Shift

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The Color Shift

Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

In the spring my husband and I took on the slightly insane project of painting our apartment. It’s been feeling drab in here for a while. He has always been excited to add some color to our walls. I on the other hand was a bit resistant. It’s my nature, what can I say? Part of my reluctance was to the bright and vivid colors hubby was suggesting. We have high ceilings and a long front room so that’s A LOT of wall space to live with. My first thoughts were “what about a softer shade of this or that”? Don’t get me wrong, I love brilliant and vibrant colors (I have a vast fabric collection to prove it!), but the thought of them on my walls, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

After talking it over quite a bit and lots of patient yet continuous coaxing by my husband (he’s kind of a saint on that front) I realized that we had been in this space for a long time and had talked about painting forever. Why not step out of my comfort zone? Many of my alarm bells were ringing, but I did it anyway and I am SO glad!

We decided to paint two main walls and leave the rest a creamy white color. We narrowed down the two colors we wanted fairly quickly, but then it took several weeks to decide on the shade of each color. During that time we painted the white walls and the change in the feel of the apartment was immediate! We hadn’t fully realized how dingy the place had become. Now we were really excited to get to the colors! (and man do I have some serious respect for people who paint for a living! No joke!) Suggestions from friends to buy a bunch of small cans of paint samples and roll big patches on the walls to live with for a few days was worth every penny and probably saved us from a few arguments.

Finally we came to our colors…a blue and an orange. “Blue lagoon” and “ Hawaiian passion”… do I sense a theme here? The orange wall was painted first and needed a few coats. WOW! did it pop and I loved it. Next came the blue, really more like turquoise. I took a deep breath, dipped my roller in the tray full of color and rolled a long, luxurious streak of “Blue Lagoon” on my wall.

“I LOVE THIS COLOR!!!!!” I screamed to my husband. He chuckled and agreed. The paint totally transformed our living space! And inspired us to move things around a bit, get rid of the old stuff that had been lying around, sucking up space. I bought a new rug to compliment the colors and am in the process of making new pillow covers for the couch cushions.

I’ve always felt the effects of color on my mood or in the garden, but this was such a positive shift in how I felt about my space, it was like I had forgotten how color affects us. There are lots of cool articles out there about “color psychology” and color theory and how they really can shift our perspectives. I have felt it first hand! And everyone who has come into our space feels it too. “The energy feels better in here” has been said more than once.

I’m so glad I took the plunge and invited color into our space!

*Thanks to Pinterest and Design Seeds (see above photo) for TONS of great ideas!

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Sweet Spring Songs

Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Have you heard the birdsongs lately? They have changed, just like the weather. Suddenly cardinal is singing louder and longer and earlier then a few weeks ago. I hear it in the mornings outside my window and in the garden too. All the birds sound brighter, as if they were announcing with joy that spring has arrived.

And it is getting on time to find a mate so that’s definitely something to sing about!

Hearing this change of sound is one of my favorite parts of spring. It always makes me stop and take notice. Slow down and really listen. And it also always makes me smile!

Soon mockingbird will be running through his repertoire and red winged black bird will arrive as well. But it’s those first brilliant sounds that I love best, the ones that remind me a new season is arriving and to pay attention!

Thanks birdies!

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Saved by the Fermented Veg!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it seems winter is leaving us and as much as I love it… I’m really ready for spring! I do my best to keep up with my fresh veggie consumption in the winter, making yummy salads with shredded kale and cabbage, but sometimes I really crave that brightness that new spring veggies provides. So in those last two very long months of February and March, before the

new spinach, radish and pea shoots, I made a few batches of fermented veg.

Super easy and yummy, fermented veggies are crisp, bright and a bit tart, all the right things to perk up a meal and my taste buds. They are also a great source of the good gut bacteria that we could all use a bit more of.

I made them regularly many years ago but fell out of the practice. Plus we have a nice selection of fermented veg makers in the city so the convenience of grabbing a jar off the shelf may have had a little something to do with it (a favorite is Cobblestone Krautery).

But I decided to get back to it myself. There are many websites and books out there to get you started. I went to Cultures for Health, just to refresh my memory.

There are a dizzying array of fabulous products on the site, but also a TON of great recipes to get you started and a good bit of information about cultured veggies and other products and the process of fermentation itself. I started with a variation on this Carrot Kraut recipe and I added red cabbage and leeks just for fun.

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used in every culture. Fermenting prolongs “shelf” life of foods and also bumps up the good bacteria that are already present in many foods by creating an environment for them to grow and flourish. These good bacteria feed our guts, improve digestion and enhance our overall health.

You can ferment lots of stuff! My husband has been making kombucha, his own red wine and pear cider vinegars as well as a lovely raspberry shrub! Oh and a bit of beer and sourdough bread too… maybe he should be writing this post! Oh yeah, maybe he was part of my fermented veg inspiration too.

A book he loves, and may be the fermentation “bible” for some is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Talk about fermenting anything! This guy does it all and has written a very thorough and interesting book. Inspiring ferments from all over the world. Have fun!

“Pickled pea shoots” anyone?

Cheers!

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Lovely Lavender

fresh lavender flowers pic

Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

We had a sneak preview of spring weather on Tuesday, with warm sun and cool breezes. I stopped by the garden between clients to get a boost from the crocus and mini iris that have been blooming steadily for a few weeks now. I walked around the garden, catching glimpses of little goodies slowly but surely poking out of the earth. So good for the spirit to see that!

And I really only intended to observe… but suddenly I found the clippers in my hand, my jacket thrown aside and there I was, pruning away the winter!

I cleared the old, withered leaves from the lambs ear, cut the dried stems from the chrysanthemums and straightened the wire frame that will soon be entwined with a lovely, low growing pink clematis. Then I noticed the lavender plant toppling out into the aisle. “ Oh my, do you need a haircut!” I made sure some new growths were beginning to show and then began to trim away last years ramblings.

And I’m so glad I did! In a rush, that sweet, dusty, herbal fragrance was all around me. I’ve trimmed this variety of lavender many times but don’t remember it ever smelling so sweet. I was already in a chill state of mind puttering around with my plant friends but this just enhanced it ten fold. As I continued to trim, the intensity of the fragrance grew and so did the smile on my face!

I, like many people, love lavender. The plants are beautiful, in all shades of greeny/grey, with flat, needle like or feathery leaves and all different variations in scent. Used for centuries to brighten the spirits and calm the nerves, as well as an antiseptic and addition to foods. Nothing like lavender shortbread cookies! Yum!

It is our most requested aromatherapy oil at the massage studio, helping our clients (and us!) settle their minds and bodies and get back in tune.

Here are my favorite ways to use lavender:

  • Last year for my birthday Judy gave me a bottle of Hauschka’s Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence. WOW! It is so incredible. I use it, as she suggested, around my temples or just a light touch around my eyes, along my nose and cheeks and then down the jaw line, before I go to bed some nights. It is so soothing, I can’t help but relax (Thank you Judy!)!
  • I put 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil in an Epsom salt bath and then soak away the day. Or just a drop or two on my finger tips and then run them through my hair before I get into bed and ease into sleep.
  • Another favorite is lavender honey. A local lavender farm in Tabernacle, New Jersey, owned and operated by Toni and Steve Price, sells their honey along with sachets and bath salts at some of our farmer’s markets in the city. Lovely stuff! They also offer “cut your own ”lavender days so check out their website if you are interested. Very cool folks!

Happy Lavender-ing!

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Thirty Second Hand Rescue

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Posted by Judy Moon

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the weather shifts and gets the slightest bit nippy the skin on my hands instantly protests! My hands get a very dry scratchy feeling – not optimal for a massage therapist.

Since I handle oil all day while working, you would think that would be enough moisture. I also wash my hands a thousand times a day so I guess that my hands just require some extra TLC.

My secret weapon for combatting dry hands is to use a sugar scrub of some sort to exfoliate the dead skin away and really hydrate the soft skin left behind.

Recently, after doing a ton of dishes, I noticed that my hands were looking pretty sad – so I scooped out about a half teaspoon of coconut oil straight from the jar in to my palm, added about the same amount of raw sugar, straight from the sugar bowl, and threw in 2 drops of lavender essential oil because that’s how I roll and I rubbed it between my hands and on my cuticles and really massaged it in.

I washed my hands and voila – brand new baby soft sweet smelling hands!

I’ve experimented with different brands of sugar scrubs, I like the lavender one from Trader Joe’s, in fact – there is always a jar of that baby in my shower, but this was a fast, quick fix and it did the trick! If you don’t exfoliate, you are simply lubricating dry, dead skin.

There’s all kinds of DIY recipes out there for scrubs and butters, etc. For this version, all I needed was 3 ingredients, a spoon, my hands and about 30 seconds.

Keep it simple my friends! Your hands will be so thankful.

 

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Here’s to Daydreaming!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it’s finally happened. Science has proven that what I’ve been doing for most of my life is actually very important and beneficial to our brain health. I’m talking about daydreaming (Not to be confused with procrastinating, which I can take to Olympian levels, believe me!).

You know what I mean. Wandering around in the valleys and mountains of your mind. Building your dream garden or meditation space in your mind. Creating that spectacular clothing line in fabric that you designed or dyed yourself. Starring in that movie or novel you’ve been concocting for a few years now. Or just traveling around and embracing what ever shows up.

We all do it, but most of us stop ourselves and get back to being more “productive” as soon as possible. Daydreamers have gotten a bad reputation in the past but check out some of the benefits of daydreaming, excerpted from a cool article in the Huffington Post, How daydreaming can actually make you smarter:

These rewards include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion… From this personal perspective, it is much easier to understand why people are drawn to mind wandering and willing to invest nearly 50 percent of their waking hours engaged in it.

I say, get back to daydreaming, right away! You know you were going to….

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Celebrating Another Milestone, or Just Another Excuse for More Champagne

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Posted by Judy Moon

We recently celebrated our one year anniversary of the Wellness Seed blog. I am super excited about that and very proud of stepping our of the box and doing something that I didn’t think I could do. And I am even more excited that my Associates also wanted to contribute – go team!

I am also celebrating another one year anniversary – it has been a year since I started my Mindfulness Meditation practice. More champagne corks popping please!

I go to the beach the first week of September every year and last year I posted The Body Scan about packing my bags with Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn, the guided Mindfulness CDS for practice and acting as if I was enrolled in the eight week Mindfulness Based Meditation course. It’s all laid out in the book for you and I thought vacation would be the perfect time to kick off that 45 minute body scan daily. Daily mediation on the beach – easy peasey- NOT!

I have dabbled over the years in meditation, being very diligent for periods of time but never had a really strong dedicated practice. I clearly remember sitting in my beach chair last year hearing Jon’s soft voice in my ears saying -“let go of the tendency we all have of wanting things to be different from what they are right now and allow things to be exactly where you find them” and wanting to hunt him down and argue with him. Granted, I was stressed at the time, hence wanting to do the meditation. In my mind, the meditation was going to take me away from being stressed. However, it just ended the war. The stressful things were still there, but I could breath slower. They didn’t control me. I learned to be in JUST THIS MOMENT. I don’t have to worry about what if’s and what’s next and what I can’t control. I could choose to feel different. It’s just a breath away.

I recently went through the eight weeks again with my associate and partner in crime, Gwyn. It was good to have someone to share with, bounce things off of, and keep me accountable and laugh when we would say, “wait, which week are we in?” A client suggested we do something to celebrate together, like a full day of Mindfulness together, maybe some periods of silence, etc. We are planning it but it is also going to include a swanky lunch and a trip to the Dansko outlet – all good things should be celebrated with shoe shopping!

I am grateful for my practice and to Jon Kabat Zinn and all of his hard work and inspiration.

I have two wellness seeds to leave you with –

The first is a piece about Meditation and Children and some really amazing work that teachers are doing with their students – (have some tissues ready- I got teary!)

The second seed is just pure meditation fun- don’t forget to breathe

 

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Here’s the Good News

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Earlier in the summer I heard a great program on Radio Times, here in Philadelphia.

The topic was stress and the news and each of the guests had valuable information about how the media can affect our everyday lives and stress levels in both positive and negative ways.

As we all know, we are surrounded by media of some kind or another, and it takes a conscious effort to avoid becoming overwhelmed. The challenge is finding the balance between being informed about and engaged in our world, be it at the local or broader level, and taking control of the content that we allow in to our minds and bodies. Much of what goes on in the world is intense, violent and heartbreaking. And with an endless news cycle we are hearing and seeing these things repeatedly.

Research has shown that this inundation of stressful news events can cause as much or even MORE stress than if you were actually at the traumatic event. Let’s say that again:

Research has shown that this inundation of stressful news events can cause as much or even MORE stress than if you were actually at the traumatic event.
 Wow. That stopped me in my tracks, people.

So, what to we do with that information? 
Well first, please listen to that fantastic broadcast. Second, turn off the news today sooner than you did yesterday. Don’t read every tragic story in the newspaper. Check out the comics page first thing instead of last.

Join a group in your local community and volunteer at their next event. And check out The Good News Network.
Publisher and editor of this network, Geri Weis Corbly was one of the guests on that excellent radio show. She worked in the news industry for many years and at some point realized that while there were many wonderful things happening in the world, they weren’t grabbing the headlines like she thought they should. The Good News Network has been around for years and I’ve recently started to check it out on a regular basis. It’s very cool!
Don’t be fooled, it’s not fluff or blind to the realities of the world.
It’s just reminding us about balance. Reminding us that we have a choice in how we live our lives everyday. And of the goodness in the world and the power of the human spirit to love, support and be kind to one another, every day, over and over and over.

Now that is a cycle worth repeating!

For more on how to find balance in a stressful world, check out Voices in the Family with Dr. Dan Gottlieb. His archive is filled with some fantastic guests and conversations on this very topic.

 

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How Far Can You Spit a Watermelon Seed?

Posted by Judy Moon

I learned something yesterday – in the U.S., July is National Watermelon month – who knew?

It made me instantly think of summers at my aunt’s cottage at the lake, wrapped in a towel after swimming eating watermelon wedges over a flimsy paper plate puddled with juice and seeds. I also had a memory of being allowed to just spit the seeds into the grass, giggling the whole time doing it seeing who could spit them the farthest.

I was surprised to learn that 1 cup of watermelon has 1.5 times more of the antioxidant lycopene than tomatoes. If you want to read more fun facts about watermelon check this out.

Here’s a fun drink you can whip up using watermelon –

Watermelon Cooler Slushie
4 cups cubed seeded watermelon
10 ice cubes
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup white sugar (or substitute agave or your sweetener of choice)
dash of salt

Blend in your blender till smooth
*I think this could easily become an adult beverage with a little vodka , or rum???

So, how far CAN you spit a watermelon seed? I am not sure, but I intend to find out. Happy Watermelon Month! Cheers!

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Do You Believe in Magic?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Do you believe in magic? I do. More accurately, I believe in miracles and the power of intention.

I recently read a really cool book called E-Squared, Nine Do It Yourself Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality, by Pam Grout. I already do energy work and do not really need much convincing on this subject, but I thought it would be fun to do the exercises anyway.

Here’s the skinny on the book –   

E-Squared could best be described as a lab manual with simple experiments to prove once and for all that reality is malleable, that consciousness trumps matter, and that you shape your life with your mind. Rather than take it on faith, you are invited to conduct nine 48-hour experiments to prove there really is a positive, loving, totally hip force in the universe. Yes, you read that right. It says prove.

The experiments, each of which can be conducted with absolutely no money and very little time expenditure, demonstrate that spiritual principles are as dependable as gravity, as consistent as Newton’s laws of motion. For years, you’ve been hoping and praying that spiritual principles are true. Now, you can know.”

Sign me up!

One of the first experiments was about your awareness, sometimes the things you want/need are already right in front of you if you just focus your thoughts on them. Your assignment was to see a yellow butterfly in the next 48 hours. Ok, that’s easy, but it was February. So, a day goes by, no butterfly, no surprise. The following day, I am on my way to a bridal shower and realize I didn’t get a card, so I run in to CVS, turn down the Hallmark aisle and look for bridal shower cards and the first card I pick up – big yellow butterfly! Check!

Another experiment was about the power of prayer. You plant two identical pots with seeds, give them the same amount of light and water, but one pot you pray over and one pot you don’t. I already had my morning glory seeds to start for my garden so I was all set. My husband of course asked if we were supposed to say mean things to the other pot. I said, “no, we just pray or send love to the one and ignore the other one.” Every day at least once a day I passed the pot and I said -” I bless you with Infinite Love and Gratitude” and I made the I love you sign in sign language over it. I think the photo speaks for itself.

Not only was it fun doing the experiments, but it made me think about the effects of the bodywork I do. I know the healing effects and all of the benefits of all of the different modalities that I work with. But something shifted in me when I saw with my own eyes that the frequency of focused love and intention influenced how those seeds grew, it made me think about all of the cells, tissues, organs, glands, systems, etc. in the bodies that I work on….

Now that is magic!

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Creating Calm through Crafts

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I’m making a skirt for a friend of mine. She’s turning 2, (so it’s a small skirt, heehee) and the party is this weekend. I’m a bit behind in my sewing and was starting to feel a bit of stress that I wouldn’t get it finished in time.

Then I realized that it wasn’t so much about getting it done on time, it was the yearning to get my hands back on the beautiful, snuggly fabric and my foot back on the sewing machine pedal! I LOVE to sew! There are many reasons why, but one of the best is that my brain is purely focused on the task at hand. No noise and clutter in there when the iron is steaming away and the needles are flying! It’s the same reason I love to garden. Clear, quiet mind.

Then I remembered an article I read a few years ago in a Martha Stewart mag. The author was Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti, an embroidery artist and writer. Even though it was short and sweet, it had an impact. She talked about the connection between crafting and other pleasurable, very focused activities and well-being. To paraphrase a psychologist she interviewed; when we create (craft or garden or cook, etc.) our mid-brains become engaged by the activity and the temporal lobe can’t focus on the usual anxieties that plague most of our brains relentlessly. And viola! Calmness settles in.

There is much research and many interesting articles out there with much more science behind them then my little blog post, but I thought I’d try to inspire you all to get back to that project you put down last year. Or take a class that you’ve been putting off. Write that poem, crochet that blankie! Or just fix the button on your favorite coat. It’s all important. We’re hibernating here in this deep, dark winter, we might as well be creating calm!

Cheers!

P.S. Check out Stitchlinks.com, a U.K. organization that works on helping folks with depression and other health issues enhance their well being through knitting. VERY cool!

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Massage Therapist Insider Series: What Should I Wear During a Massage?

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Posted by Alicia McCarthy

Receiving bodywork requires a lot of trust in your massage therapist. Sometimes a bond is created instantly, and oftentimes said bond requires some time (hopefully by the end of the hour!).

One aspect of the vulnerability that bodywork encompasses is being comfortable with your body. In a deep tissue or traditional Swedish massage the preferred state is to be unclothed. I am often asked (with a certain degree of shyness), “How much should I take off?”. The answer varies depending on the person and depending on the type of treatment you set out to receive.

Going completely bare can have its advantages. It allows the therapist to access the glutes, which is an area that holds a huge amount of tension for some people. The therapist may be more inclined to use longer strokes that connect different parts of the body, akin to the traditional Lomi-Lomi massage that originated in Hawaii. It’s also nice to feel free under the sheets (that’s my personal preference when it comes to getting a massage).

Leaving your underwear on is completely acceptable as well. Feeling secure and safe is important to the process of relaxing. As I therapist, I always strive to adapt to the needs of each individual person, and those needs can be different on any given day. In many forms of Asian bodywork, it is essential that you remained clothed so that the limbs can be moved and manipulated without having to consider proper draping techniques.

When it comes to your healing process, you should never feel like you can’t ask a question about what is right for you during your massage. Who knows maybe you’ll try going bare and never look back!

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