What’s My Secret Weapon For a Good Night’s Sleep?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Magnesium oil. That’s right, magnesium oil.

First of all, I feel that sleep is underrated. I think we don’t really put enough emphasis on getting enough sleep, and the health benefits of good, quality, restful, restorative sleep. Webmd explains nine reasons to sleep more.

I personally don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep that was my problem. There are lots of reasons why this can happen for people.

So I have made going to bed a real ritual.

Herbal tea, no electronic screens after nine, my bedroom is a sleep sanctuary – no TV etc.,  I do my best to go to bed at the same time every night, I turn the lights in my home down in the evening and start sending the message to my brain – “hey, we’re going to sleep soon”, I use some lavender essential oil on my feet and at the suggestion of a health coach, I started using magnesium oil on my feet at night.

Pure magic! I now sleep like a rock.

Dr. Mark Hyman, refers to magnesium as the “relaxation mineral”, and here is a GREAT post about all of it’s benefits.

Ancient Minerals was the brand recommended to me. A drop of DoTerra lavender essential oil rubbed in to the bottom of my feet, 3 sprays of Magnesium Oil on each foot, socks, Bon Nuit!

I will warn you that the Magnesium oil is a little drying, so I make sure I am also treating my feet by exfoliating daily with a pumice and lathering them up with a rich moisturizer. I’d choose something with some rich Shea butter.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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!

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!

Lovely Lavender

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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!

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.

 

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….

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