One of my stress management practices lately has been lettering. I used to do quite a bit of calligraphy years ago and I’ve been so inspired lately with all of the modern calligraphy and different fun ways to create words and squiggles . I’ve ordered several books from a site Hand Lettered Design and the most recent one I ordered is my favorite so far. It’s a daily mindful lettering practice book. You write a positive affirmation, such as “I choose compassion”, learning 5 different styles of lettering. As suggested, I purchased tracing paper so I can go back over the pages. Tracing the letters with the fancy pens that come with the book helps create muscle memory. Your hand becomes less shaky and you will eventually be able to create the letters on your own without tracing. There are also lots of videos and emails to support the process. I can’t begin to tell you how relaxing it is! You can just do the exercise of the day, which doesn’t take that long, and then if you feel like doing more, there are pages of just tracing the alphabet in different styles. If you choose to order any of the books, I personally recommend selecting the one with the spiral on the top. I find it less awkward when I am practicing.
In Lisa’s recent newsletter, she included a Summer Fun Bucket List to download and print out. I got so excited at the thought of creating such a list – especially since it also involved coloring, YAY!!!!! Last year was definitely a little different than this summer so I was ready to roll on what I wanted to do this summer. I shared this idea with my husband who also became enthusiastic about the process. First on the list, ice cream sundaes for dinner, one of my favorite childhood memories that I’ve blogged about in the past. I also see a S’More in my near future …
What kind of things that make you say “YAY” are you putting on your Summer Fun Bucket List?
If you read our last blog post and you did any of the “year in reflection” exercises, from Unravel Your Year, then you will agree that the entire year wasn’t so bad. There were a few shiny moments to celebrate.
I can’t help but notice in comments on social media and in conversations with clients coming in for massage appointments that there is a great deal of stress and anxiety around trying to get a vaccine. I’ve been jokingly referring to it as the Hunger Games. There’s anxiety around should I even get the vaccine? Am I going to feel sick after it, etc.? It’s a very personal choice and one that can kick up the nervous system for sure.
I want to share something we’ve shared before in our blog. Just a simple reminder of how easy it can be to shift from panic, fear or stress to calm and centered. One of my secret weapons for stress – The 4-7-8 Breath Exercise. This is definitely a quick way to shift how you are feeling.
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply. This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Give it a try, right now, start with a big whoosh exhale:
Have you said goodbye to 2020 yet? It’s not too late.
At the end of every year, like many people, I like to do some introspection and review the year. I ask things like – what was a “yay!” and what was a “room for improvement”, etc. moment. It gives me clarity on how I want to feel moving into a new year and what kind of goals to set to help me feel that way.I was introduced to a new process that I absolutely loved!!! And bonus – it’s FREE! That’s a big “YAY!” It’s called Unravel Your Year by Susannah Conway.
Like many other processes, this has questions for you to answer, prompts you to do some inner reflections and THERE ARE PAGES TO COLOR!!! Yes please!!!! The graphics are charming and the questions really helped me to wrap up 2020, release it, and say goodbye. One of the blessings that came from doing the process was reviewing the GOOD things that happened last year. Let’s be honest, the entire year didn’t suck, although it’s easy to slip into that mindset. Creating that list of the positive things really shifted my energy.
Now, be warned, it’s a big download, so I decided to email it to FedEx to print and pick up. It also took me a long time to do it. But that was my choice, I didn’t want to rush through it. In fact , I just finished the last part last night which inspired me to share with you.
If that’s not really your thing, or it seems overwhelming, I’ll leave you with a few seeds … a few sample questions from it to chew on:
What did you discover about yourself in 2020?
What was the best day of 2020?
What have you been most grateful for?
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
After you complete all of the fun deep diving, there are 2 pages for each month – a reflection page, that asks things like – “How did you surprise yourself this month?” and then a calendar page that includes areas with prompts like – “Self Care Goal For The Month”, “This Month I Learned …” I’m very grateful to have found this and am even more grateful that it was free! Susannah also has a newsletter called Love Letters – also very sweet.
Goodbye 2020, thank you for the contrast and showing me what I don’t want, what I was taking for granted, what’s important to me, how to slow down, to enjoy the little things more, to see through the eyes of love, to use my creativity as my superpower, and for showing me how resilient I am.
I did something radically different at my house this year. I did not put one ornament on my Christmas tree. Instead, it’s covered with 800 white lights and 2 boxes of tinsel. Just lights and sparkly icicles … anyone who really knows me, understands how extreme that is. The tree is probably my favorite part of the holidays. It’s almost like a scrapbook. There are ornaments from vacations I’ve taken with my husband, things from my childhood tree, gifts from dear friends and every year for Winter Solstice, my husband and I exchange an ornament. I spend many hours each year admiring the tree and all of the treasures on it.
So why the big shift?
I decided early in December that I was going to celebrate ALL of the holidays this December. They are all really about celebrating the light in a dark time of the year and I got excited about celebrating and bringing more light into our lives right now. My husband was on board and was even more excited about the extra meal planning – who says no to Brisket and Latkes? I ordered our Menorah and started researching Kwanzaa. In keeping with “everything is different this year” and wanting more light, we created this bright, sparkling tree that takes my breath away every time I look at it. It’s impossible to capture just how it twinkles and glows. It is definitely a bright spot in the darkness right now.
Making a radical change can feel a little nerve wracking. There was some hesitation. We had a back up plan in case we hated it. But it has left me feeling . . . light. It felt really liberating to do something different, to celebrate in a different way this year. It has been so much fun learning about the other holidays that we don’t normally celebrate. That brightness in the dark in our living room reminds me to look for more lightness, especially since things can feel really heavy right now.
The ornaments will be back next year. I think this was probably a one and done. But by stepping out of the box, we’ve created something light, bright, fun, meaningful and something we will never forget!
My husband Joe and I have recently been spending a lot of time in the kitchen together. It’s been one of the positive offshoots from being quarantined for a few months. We sometimes like to make a themed meal and we recently had a dinner we called Pumpkin Fest! We do an “Asparagus Fest” every Spring where the entire menu contains asparagus and yes, I do have an Asparagus Bundt Cake recipe. So we thought, why not a Pumpkin Fest for Fall?
I pulled out a recipe that I haven’t made in awhile and I forgot how EASY and DELICIOUS this recipe is. I originally found this recipe on the Food In Jars website and it is definitely something I will be adding to the weeknight recipe rotation.
Curried Pumpkin Coconut Soup
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (use your favorite)*
2 pints pressure canned pumpkin (with their canning liquid)
1 can coconut milk
sea salt to taste
Instructions Combine onion and coconut oil in a small soup pot. Cook until onion softens and browns. Add curry powder and cook until it is fragrant.
Add pumpkin cubes, their canning liquid and the coconut milk. Stir to combine. Add up to one coconut milk can of water should it need a bit of thinning.
Bring to a bubble, reduce to a simmer and place a lid on the pot. Cook until onions are tender.
When soup is done, blitz it with an immersion blender. Taste and add salt as necessary.
Eat and enjoy.
Notes *If you don’t have any home canned pumpkin, use 1-15 ounce can of commercial pumpkin and one can of water.
I have always just used commercial pumpkin from the grocery store and it worked great.
*Curry can be a bit spicy for some, so use a smaller amount if you are not a huge fan of really spicy flavors.
Pumpkin is also a nutritional powerhouse.
Vitamin C and E
What else was on the Pumpkin Fest menu? Pumpkin Ravioli in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce, and of course Pumpkin Ice Cream for dessert!
You may have noticed that your skin care requirements have changed lately with having to wear a face covering. As a massage therapist, I am required to wear a fresh face mask with each client along with a face shield. I am also in a mask on the way to and from work. I started to experience subtle changes in my complexion. When I first returned to work it was during the intense July heat. I realized quickly that I needed to dial back the amount of moisturizer I was using. By the end of the day my skin felt oily, sweaty and flat out gross. I started doing some at home masks (boy do I miss going for a facial!) to make sure my skin was getting a deep cleansing treatment. I then noticed that my skin was starting to feel kind of dull and slightly dry – it needed hydration!
What’s the difference between hydration and moisture? Think lipids vs water.
One of the quickest, easiest, cleanest and most economical ways to get some deep hydration for your skin is aloe vera. Yes, I’m talking about that green cactus-like leaf that you may have seen at the grocery store in the produce department. You may be familiar with this plant as a great treatment for burns, but it also has many additional properties for the skin including:
It’s rich in vitamin A, C, E and B12
It’s about 98% water and is very easily absorbed by the skin
It supports the production and of collagen and hyaluronic acid which keep the skin hydrated, firm and supple
It has antioxidant and anti-aging properties
It has a very soothing and cooling effect on itchy skin
It contains mucopolysaccharides which help retain moisture in the skin
How do you use it? After washing the leaf, I slice it in to a few small pieces. In to a small bowl I scoop the gel out, smash it up a bit with a fork and apply a layer to my face, neck, and chest area. I leave it on for anywhere from 10-20 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Sometimes, there’s really not much to rinse off since my skin absorbed most of it. You can then follow up with a light moisturizer to lock in the hydration. The aloe vera keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I keep them in a Ziploc bag so they are nice and cool and soothing and ready to roll. You can purchase aloe vera gel in a bottle, just be sure to read the label carefully and check the ingredients. There’s often dye and other ingredients in there that you don’t really want to be putting on your skin.
If you know me at all or follow Judy Moon & Associates on Instagram then you know that I see hearts. I literally see a heart somewhere at least once a day, usually several. It can be a leaf on a sidewalk, or just this past weekend a tiny piece of goat cheese on an appetizer I made landed in a perfect tiny little heart on a slice of peach. I always smile when I see them and they often appear when I need a smile. They remind me of the power of love. I also look at them as a reminder that the Universe always has my back.
It is just a natural progression that I have decided to take the HeartMath® Clinical Certification Program. I love studying new things and adding layers to my existing massage therapy practice and to my own personal self care. Plus, anything about the heart is right up my alley.
“HeartMath has developed a system of effective, scientifically based tools and technologies to bridge the intuitive connection between heart and mind and deepen our connection with the hearts of others.
The HeartMath system empowers people to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors to reduce stress, increase resilience, and unlock their natural intuitive guidance for making more effective choices. This enables people to break through to greater levels of personal balance, creativity, insight and health.”
It is a stress management system that helps bridge the synchronicity of the brain and the heart to reduce stress and increase mental function. The heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart!
Let’s dip our toe in the water and get a little taste of this:
Close your eyes.
Notice how you feel right now, there’s no right or wrong answer.
Slow down your breathing a bit.
Take nice long slow breaths.Connect with your heart.
Now connect with something or someone that you love.
Continue to breathe slowly. You can even put your hand on your heart if it helps you to stay connected. If a negative thought or emotion comes up, just refocus back on your original thought about love.
Keep breathing slowly.Open your eyes and notice how you feel now.
Stay tuned for more exciting things to come from my HeartMath Certification!
We have gotten some really nice press lately. We are so happy to be open again and we are looking forward to providing you with the best services in massage therapy.
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Judy Moon and Associates is a team of licensed massage therapists who are passionate about providing expert body care and wellness services. The company’s professionals provide a range of customized, healing massages, including hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, shiatsu, sports, and prenatal massage. Other services include reiki therapy, dry brush skin rejuvenation, and Mu Xing treatments that use expertly designed bamboo and rosewood tools to provide deep tissue relief. The company offers monthly massage and wellness packages, and gift certificates: www.expertise.com/pa/philadelphia/massage-therapy
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Judy Moon and Associates, Massage Therapy combine worldwide influences to arrive with a unique offering designed to aid in the client’s wellbeing. The facility has an extensive list of body relaxation techniques with some originating from Japan, Thailand, and India. They offer massages, touch therapy, aromatherapy, Reiki, Mu XIng, and Immune boost treatments. Thailand inspired therapies include the prenatal, regular Thai, table Thai, and Thai foot massage. Series of yoga stretches help align the body to correct blockages in the energy flow. A unique service at the center is their mindful touch therapy. It is a series of light healing strokes combined with meditation focusing on scalp, face, and feet. Worth mentioning as well is their lifeline and Kansa wand therapy that are noninvasive and patterned with Chinese and Ayurvedic treatment principles: kevsbest.com/thai-massage-in-philadelphia/
Philly Mag’s Ultimate Guide to Where to Get a Massage in Philly
Judy Moon and her team provide tons of massage options, including touch therapy, Reiki, reflexology, and even Mu Xing Treatment, which uses warm bamboo and rosewood tools for a deep tissue massage: www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/massage-philly/
I read a blog by Pam Grout recently that made me smile. Pam is a writer and I highly recommend her book E-Squared if you haven’t read it. I also absolutely love her blog.
So back to the smile, I read her blog post the Two Magic Words A Review and the biggest smile came across my face and kind of a sense of relief waved through my body.
It’s okay if you’re finding it hard to get out of bed right now. It’s okay if you haven’t taken a shower today. It’s okay if you’re mad at the world today. It’s okay if you don’t feel like talking to anyone. It’s okay if you’re finding it hard to home school your kids. It’s okay if you are scared.
Practicing OUTRAGEOUS self care and self love right now is what is necessary. Before reading her blog post, I found that I was constantly saying, “it’s okay” to myself. It was like a mantra, over and over, every time I judged myself for sleeping in, or procrastinating or having anxiety about my lack of income or when I will be able to go back to work, those two simple little words were so soothing to me. It’s okay. Her post was a reassurance that I was practicing self care on a very simple level.
Recently, I was walking my dog Murphy and had a reassuring thought. Murphy is a rescue that had a great deal of leash reactivity when he first came to live with us. The obvious things like runners, baby carriages, skateboards were triggers for him, as well as little things such as a leaf blowing by or a paper bag rustling. I learned to try to catch sight of things like that before he did and kind of warn him, for example if I see someone running towards us, I say in a happy voice, here comes a runner, he looks up at me and I say it’s okay and he receives a treat for not barking like a lunatic. Now when we walk if he sees something that he would have previously reacted to, he’ll look up at me and I say it’s okay and we continue our walk peacefully. The other day he looked up at me and I said it’s okay and I realized yes, it IS okay and it’s GOING to be okay. Thanks for the reminder Murphy!
So practice being gentle with yourself, it’s okay.
Every year when my husband and I do our annual cleanse, I get asked a ton of questions about it. There are many types of cleanses and detoxes out there and it can be overwhelming. I think a lot of people also associate it with deprivation and sacrifice and assume that they will be miserable. I chose to do the Clean Program years ago (I actually think it might be ten years now!) and I chose it because you CAN eat. I wanted my husband to do it with me, and there is NO way he would be on board with a juice cleanse or The Master Cleanse.
When I originally decided to do it, Clean Program had 2 versions:
Plan A was you drink a smoothie for breakfast, have a large lunch from the list of approved foods and then a smoothie or soup for dinner.
Plan B was that you had a smoothie for breakfast, and your other two meals from the list of foods that you are allowed to have. You can snack as much as you want as long as you are eating and drinking from the list of approved foods being mindful of portion size. It is also suggested to leave a 12 hour window between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day to give the organs of digestion a break.
We chose to do Plan B where you could eat the two meals and we continue to do that every year. Clean program doesn’t really even promote this method anymore because they feel that Plan A is a better detox, and it probably is, but this works for us. And to be honest, we usually end up eating a lot of soup for dinner anyway, so we kind of are doing it the way they suggest. There is also a whole list of supplements that are recommended to support the process.
Here is what a typical day looks like on Clean (and sometimes even after Clean) • Wake up and Tongue Scrape –first thing I do every morning after my meditation • Brush teeth • Celery juice • Exercise /stretch/dance/move somehow, even if it’s just for 20 minutes • 16 oz of room temperature water with lemon • Dry brush • Shower and essential oil applications • Green smoothie with Amazing Grass powder with frozen berries, chia seeds, collagen peptides, Amla powder, coconut water, aloe vera juice, dragon fruit, an apple, a handful of raw cashews, a few kale or dandelion leaves and a few ice cubes • Cup of Kukicha tea with stevia – my favorite tea! • Snack if I need it – raw nuts, lara bars or half of my afternoon smoothie. • Lunch – salad from the list of foods you can have. • Snack – Smoothie made with Orgain Organic Plant Protein powder, almond milk, collagen peptides and I vary the fruit depending on my mood, but wild blueberries almost always make the cut • “Cocktails” made with kombucha – My husband Joe has mastered our “Mocktails” before dinner with coconut water, kombucha, fresh mint, fresh lemon, a few pieces of pineapple or some berries. We kind of wing it each night and the tang from the kombucha satisfied my craving for a glass of wine. • Dinner – meal or soup from list of foods you can have – We ate a lot more soup for dinner than on previous cleanses. We didn’t feel as hungry this time for some reason. I made a giant pot of soup every Sunday that was perfect for evenings that I worked late. • Water with lemon throughout the day • Herbal tea after dinner, Tulsi Rose and Tulsi lavender are favorites, we also really love Golden Milk or Turmeric Tea in the evening • There is a list of supplements that help the process that we take throughout the day • Natural Calm before before bed • Alternating detox Epsom salt baths, and Castor Oil Wraps through out the week
I also scoured through all of my healthy cookbooks before the cleanse even started searching for new recipes made from the foods we are able to eat. I made a giant list of possibilities and we tried some new recipes that were definitely keepers. The key to success I believe is being creative with the list of what you can have. As long as the the meals are tasty, you don’t feel like you are being deprived or you are missing out.
Looking forward to keeping the inspiration for clean eating going. I still have many new recipes to try from the list that I had made.Our goal is to be in the 80/20 range. Clean eating 80% of the time and indulging a bit more on the weekends the other 20% of the time.
I’ve been asked why we do this every year and why January? Often detoxes and cleanses are associated with Spring. We do it after the holidays to reset our systems after all of the overeating and over enjoying the foods that we have to celebrate the holidays. I just can’t say no to a Christmas cookie. Taking all of the inflammatory and toxic things like sugar, alcohol, wheat, etc., out of your system results in not craving them anymore, increased energy and you drop the extra weight and bloating that may have occurred over the holiday season. Plus, our social calendar is light during January so we don’t feel like we are missing out on anything.
I would recommend reading the book Clean, if you are thinking about trying a cleanse. It’s very informative and helps you understand WHY you eliminate certain foods and why you add specific supplements. Clean Program sells kits that contain shake mixes, all of the supplements you would need, but you can also just get everything at Whole Foods, Amazon or where ever you do your shopping. You can also visit the Clean Program website where you can take a peek at the list of what you can eat and what you eliminate for the 21 days. There’s great recipes and all kinds of inspiration on the blog. As I mentioned you can also order products, but it’s not necessary, I find I’m able to find everything I need in the stores or on Amazon and save a great deal of money.
We felt so great after our cleanse this year that we have decided to do a one week cleanse every few months, perhaps as the seasons change just to keep the inspiration going. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes and if my husband will actually try to wiggle out of that commitment!
My dear husband is about to enter the toughest work schedule of his work year. He works in distribution for a floral wholesale company and the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day are … let’s just say, “challenging” to keep this post G-Rated.
We’ve been eating a lot more soups lately since we just finished our annual 21 day cleanse. I thought with the heavy work load he has on deck, I should make a batch of the Immune Boosting Soup or “Healing Soup” as we usually refer to it. Plus, with all of the Coronavirus hype and flu season hype, my philosophy is always – the best defense is a good offense. We focus on keeping our immune system strong. I feel like I post this soup every year around this time, but like I said, something was telling me to make it and one thing I know for sure is that I LISTEN to my intuition. So I thought I would share the love and post the recipe again. Your cells will thank you later.
This tasty soup can be used if you are already feeling ill and want to speed up your recovery or as a preventative. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of garlic and onions. The flavors mellow out quite a bit with sautéing and slow cooking. Old Fashioned Garlic and Onion Soup for colds, flu, respiratory infections or for prevention especially in winter season.
4 large white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 whole heads of garlic, separated and peeled
2 tsp. thyme
4 tbs. olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbs. honey
4 tbs. each fresh basil and parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
In a large stockpot sauté the onions, garlic, and thyme in olive oil until golden brown. This step sweetens and mellows the intensity of the garlic and onions. (To peel garlic cloves, smash the individual cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and slip out of the skins.) Add the vegetable stock, white wine, and bay leaf. Slowly cook for 2 to 3 hours or overnight in a crockpot. Strain liquid, and then add honey, fresh basil and parsley, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne.
Onions and garlic are both antibacterial in action, as is the herb thyme. Cayenne pepper is recommended if there is a fever present, while basil and parsley are detoxifying herbs. I also probably double the amount of thyme and I use fresh. Thyme has the ability to kill off bacterial and viruses. One of my favorite sources for information, Anthony Williams has a great blog all about the healing properties of thyme. This is an excellent soup to drink during any type of infection or cold, or to simply enjoy as a first course to a meal.
I tend to sauté the onions till wilted, add the garlic and then finish it in the slow cooker for about 8 hours. We don’t even bother to strain it. It’s like eating onion soup without the toast and melted cheese. You’ll also keep the vampires away! Enjoy!
Yay – Merriam Webster defines yay as – “used to express joy or excitement.”
I love the New Year. I love the feeling of a fresh start, clean palate and the excitement of what’s ahead of me.
I do a lot of work at the end of each year, a lot of introspection, letting go of things I’m holding on to that aren’t serving me, and creating space for new things to come in to my life. I do Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Work and I come up with my Core Desired Feelings – how do I want to feel … and then I create goals around achieving those feelings. It’s great work if you’ve never done it, I highly recommend her books and following her on Social Media. I also come up with a word for the year. It’s usually an umbrella around my Core Desired Feelings, or maybe it’s an inspirational word.
Last year my word was – Yay!
I found myself in a place where I just wanted to have one moment of every day, where I felt like … “Yay, this is great” or “Yay, they have fresh peas at the farmers market” or “Yay, my husband made the bed!” You get the picture. They didn’t have to be epic yays, just a moment where I was taking a moment and acknowledging something that was good, fun or lifted me in some way.
Last year kind of sucked to be quite honest, and I struggled with yay. So I thought I’d give it another go and my word for this year, again, is Yay! I wasn’t planning on it, but I’ve also noticed that after my yay – I’ve been saying thank you. I’ve also after a long, hard or stressful day, been stopping to think … what was my yay today? I’m always able to find one, even if the day was a total shit show.
It’s been awhile since I made a blog post for many reasons and it feels really good to share my words.