Today is day 21 of the annual 21 day cleanse that I do with my husband every January! I’ve blogged about it many times over the years and given all of the details of what exactly we do and don’t do. It’s so much easier than it sounds. If you really stick to the mindset of “this is what I can eat/drink” and just focus on that as opposed to longing for that glass of wine or slice of pizza that you can’t have, you’ll be successful. If my husband can do this, anyone can!
Every year I learn something new, or switch something up. Last year’s epiphany was cauliflower in smoothies instead of bananas. I know it sounds weird but trust me, it works. It adds the creaminess of banana without the sugar or starch which can metabolize quickly and cause blood sugar spikes. I’m not in anyway anti banana, so everyone can calm down. I know they have potassium and other health benefits, we just avoid them for the 21 days. I may actually stick with the cauliflower for awhile, I like sneaking in the extra serving of a cruciferous vegetable. You don’t even know it’s in there.
This year, I put a twist on another of my faves – Golden Milk. I drink this all year not just on the cleanse. I find it really soothing and satisfying in the evening. If you’ve never tried it, it’s like a creamy Chai. Last week, on a cold rainy night, I was stirring some Golden Milk in the saucepan, taking in the aromatherapy of all of the warm spices (it is very aromatic) and I was thinking, mmmm, hot chocolate would be nice right now too, and I decided to toss a scoop of chocolate protein powder in to the pan. I thought, this is either going to be delicious or really gross, thankfully it was delicious! So now I have another new, fun, chocolatey, spicy evening beverage to add to my repertoire.
I’m excited and inspired after finishing the Cleanse this year. We tried some new recipes that are definitely keepers, and we didn’t even get to some of our favorites. So we are going to keep going, at least on weeknights. We both feel fantastic, lost some weight, and have more energy. I will say, however, that I am ready for a glass of red wine and I will savor it and enjoy it to the fullest.
It’s summer and the produce right now just doesn’t get any better! One of my favorite summer rituals, and something that was on my summer fun bucket list, was to have a cucumber sandwich. The tomato sandwich is usually the one in the spotlight and is also a fave of mine. In fact, a little secret, I eat my tomato sandwiches open faced so I can pile the tomatoes higher.
Back to cucumbers. Growing up, one of my favorite things in the summer was one of my mom’s cucumber sandwiches. She would get two slices of squishy white sliced bread, butter one slice (my mom buttered one slice of the bread on every sandwich she ever made me) add mayonnaise that she would whisk with a little vinegar on the other slice, and then she would pile up thinly sliced peeled cucumbers, a dash of salt and pepper and a lot of love. There was nothing better than that refreshing, cold, crisp sandwich on a hot summer day. If we were feeling fancy that day, she’d cut the crusts off and we’d have “party sandwiches.” I made one last week and it was just like I remembered it – minus the squishy white bread, I’ve moved on to Ezekiel bread these days. A client told me that he used to eat cucumber and peanut butter sandwiches. I’ve yet to try that, but I think that would work. Everything is better with peanut butter, right?
Cucumbers are a super food and really simple to sneak into your diet.
Some of the many benefits include:
High in Nutrients
May Aid in Weight Loss
May Lower Blood Sugar
Easy to Add to Your Diet
A Great Source of fiber
WebMD has even more great information about all of the health benefits of cucumbers – hello vitamin K!
In Philadelphia last weekend it was 100 degrees, so I broke out another old cucumber favorite, Dr Axe’s Detox Cucumber Soup. It’s easy, healthy, delicious, and perfect for a sweltering day. An added bonus, it takes about 10 minutes to make – yay!
Stay tuned, I just may share my quick, spicy garlicky pickle recipe in my next post!
It’s likely that you’ve heard of Reflexology—stimulating points and nerve endings in the feet that correspond with different organs, systems and structures of the body to improve overall health and wellness. Plus, let’s face it, having your poor, tired feet rubbed just plain feels good! I’ve been practicing Reflexology for years but recently upped my game and became certified in Integrative Reflexology®. Sounds fancy, what’s the difference?
Integrative Reflexology® works with the same grid, map and location of points on the feet as what I previously had learned. There are, however, additional layers and things to consider: Chinese Five Element theory (a philosophy that demonstrates how all aspects of human health) diet, movement, and emotions which are interconnected with nature, and our environment. Also we have to consider what meridians and meridian points are also involved in what the client is experiencing. And finally, Psychoneuroimmunology, which is based on the connection between the brain, the nervous system, the immune system and the emotions. Integrative Reflexology® can also include the hand and ears.
There are over 10,000 nerve endings in each foot. With this technique we can simultaneously improve brain chemistry, calm the nervous system, and stimulate the lymph system, which helps detoxify the body and help reverse the effects of chronic stress. The feet are like building blocks and can give us insight to the rest of the body.
Personally, my recent training was a bit of a wake up call. We’ve collectively gone through a lot over the last few years and have had to manage new levels of stress. Like many people, I’m good at putting my game face on and I just keep going. But what is the cost of that? I definitely had let my own self care slip to the wayside and in receiving the reflexology treatments as we practiced in class, I realized that my nervous system was shot. Yes, there are those days you do have to put your game face on and just keep going but then what do you do to balance that out? The pendulum needs to swing both ways. After several days of receiving the Integrative Reflexology® treatments, I noticed a huge shift in how I was feeling. I have felt calmer, clearer, more energized, grounded, my physical body felt more relaxed, and I slept better.
That left such an imprint on me and I feel excited to share the work and inspire your body to perform in a better way. Your feet and your whole body will thank you!
So what the heck are crystals anyway? No doubt you’ve seen them, heard of them, you may even own some jewelry with crystals. They often conjure up images of crystal balls and fortune tellers in turbans. Let’s get some real information and step into the wide world of crystals.
I thought it would be fun and something different in this blog post to interview my associate Paul Struck who offers two treatments at Judy Moon & Associates using the magic of crystals – Crystal Enhanced Massage and Crystal Dreaming™.
J: So Paul, in a nutshell, what is a crystal?
P: Most people think of quartz or rock crystal in all its many forms and colors when they hear the word. However, table salt, graphite in pencils and snowflakes are also crystals. The most basic definition is any solid material in which the component atoms are arranged in a definite pattern, and whose surface structure reflects its internal symmetry. In the case of quartz, there is a hexagonal internal pattern, resulting in the six-sided structure most of us are familiar with.
J: What are some of the benefits of working with them, why do people use them?
P: Crystals like everything, are made of energy or vibration. Working with them can help balance and harmonize our own energies/vibrations. I always like the analogy of a timepiece with a quartz movement. The quartz helps keep it running smoothly and accurately. Using crystals in bodywork or meditation has a similar effect.
J: How do you go about choosing a crystal?
P: here are many schools of thought on this. I myself like the intuitive approach. I’ll wander through a crystal shop and let a stone “call” to me. There is also the method of choosing for a specific purpose. A little research will offer which crystal is best suited to your need/desire. Some examples: Amethyst for connecting to your Higher-Self/Spirit, Citrine for emotional stability, Rose Quartz for Unconditional Love, Black Tourmaline for protection. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
J: Does the size of the crystal matter?
P: LOL! That’s the age old question, isn’t it?! Ultimately, no the size doesn’t matter. A small crystal that can easily slip into a pocket or handbag can be just as effective as a larger one. What does matter is the user’s intention.
J: What would you suggest as a “first crystal” or a starter crystal for someone new to this?
P: I always suggest clear quartz as a starter crystal for someone new to working with them. Mostly because clear quartz is like white light, it contains all the colors of the spectrum. It is also a neutral stone with the ability to cater to your needs. Clear quartz is also great to meditate with, as it grounds you on this plane and lifts you into higher dimensions. Just placing one in your space can shift the energies to a more harmonious environment.
J: What added benefits do the crystals provide when using them during bodywork services?
P: When I use crystals in my bodywork, I find that they assist in moving stuck energies (knots) out of the body more quickly. The results I see with clients is they tend to reach a relaxed state faster, and often leave a session feeling simultaneously relaxed and rejuvenated. Even the simple grid I place beneath my table seems to have a profound effect on clients.
J: What is the difference between your Crystal Enhanced Massage and Crystal Dreaming™?
P: The major difference is one is hands-on the other is not.
Crystal Enhanced Massage is just that – massage, primarily Swedish techniques, enhanced with the use of crystals. I place a grid of crystals under the table while working to aid in balancing the chakras. I then use polished crystals and other stones to assist in alleviating adhesions, intuiting which crystal to use on any given area of the body, and that may be a different crystal from client to client. I sense which will best facilitate a flow of energy.
Crystal Dreaming™ is a hands free modality created by Raym Richards, an Australian crystal master. I am one of two people in Philadelphia who offer this work. During a session, a client lays with a “mandala” of over 40 crystals placed around them, allowing for a state of expanded consciousness. It offers the opportunity to clear past traumas held in the body and to connect with Source energies. While VERY different, I liken CrystalDreaming™ to shamanic journeying or lucid dreaming.
J: My favorite crystal is rose quartz, I am always drawn to it. Do you have a favorite?
P: I love rose quartz! I have so many that I love, it’s hard to choose just one. If I had to pick just one, it would be amethyst. Purple is my favorite color.
P: Judy, thank you for the opportunity to share and welcome people into the exciting and wonderful world of healing with crystals!
And a big thank you to Paul for sharing his crystal knowledge with us!
As I mentioned I am always drawn to rose quartz – the “love stone”, also associated with the heart chakra. I think that goes hand in hand with my affinity towards hearts and how I see them all of the time.
You will also find a heart shaped piece of citrine in my pocket, a special gift from one of my besties, good for awakening the solar plexus chakra cultivating confidence and personal power – yes please! Under each treatment table at our studio is a nice chunk of rose quartz – take a peek under the table next time you come for a massage!
So there you have it – everything you wanted to know about crystals and were afraid to ask. I invite you to find somewhere near you that sells crystals and see which one calls out to you. You will be drawn to one. And it’s usually exactly what you need.
My husband and I just wrapped up our annual cleanse – yay!
Every January we do a 21 day cleanse – an elimination diet to clean things up after enjoying and usually over doing it a bit on all of the treats of the holiday season. Raise your hand if you ate more than your share of cookies this Christmas.
The list of things to avoid, which obvious things like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, wheat, and gluten, etc., can feel overwhelming. But the list of things to enjoy is actually bigger than the other list – so, if you just focus on what you can have – chicken, turkey, fish, brown rice, most vegetables and fruits, etc., you’ll be fine.
I post every year after our cleanse and this post really explains the whole regime that we follow: https://judymoon.com/heres-the-skinny/. I also usually discover something new each time or learn about a new food or a trick for substituting foods.
This year, my new discovery was … drumroll … cauliflower in smoothies!
I know, I know, sounds crazy but hear me out.
One of the foods on the elimination list is bananas – all of the foods that are eliminated can often be allergenic, inflammatory, high in sugar, and bananas fall into the sugary/starchy category. They aren’t bad for you, but for the 21 days, you take a break.
I often throw a little banana in my smoothies for the potassium and to add a creamy texture. I read a recipe for a smoothie bowl that was Clean Program approved and it used cauliflower to thicken it up. Genius! It adds just the right amount of texture and there is no detectable flavor. Plus, cauliflower is such a great super food! WebMD notes – A one cup serving has: • 100% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C • About a quarter of your daily vitamin K • 2% of your daily calcium and iron • 6% of your daily potassium • More than 3 % of your daily magnesium It is also mostly water, so it is very hydrating. Cauliflower is in the cruciferous family and is high in fiber and antioxidants.
“Cauliflower has a group of substances known as glucosinolates. As you chew and digest it, these substances are broken down into compounds that may help prevent cancer — they help protect cells from damage and have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects.” As with anything new, check with your doctor if you have concerns – people with Thyroid issues (high amounts of cauliflower can block Iodine absorption), GI issues (fiber can cause excessive gas/bloating), or anyone on blood thinners or statins (Vitamin K can affect medications) should check in with how much cauliflower is okay to consume.
Cauliflower is wildly popular now – cauliflower pizza crusts, cauliflower rice, buffalo cauliflower and now in our house, it goes in smoothies
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!