Everyone needs time to recharge… and practitioners are certainly no exception. This blog series is meant to give you some insight into how the practitioners and staff at Leaves of Life make time to unwind and recharge.
I’m excited to announce that my personal trainer has opened his own Halotherapy room in Columbus!
What is halotherapy?
Put simply, it’s salt therapy.
Halotherapy is a method of inhaling pure, dry, micronized salt particles dispersed into the air from a halogenerator. For more than 40 years researchers have shown that this type of therapy helps with multiple health issues including acne, eczema, psoriasis, neurodermatitis, allergies, asthma, COPD, eczema, depression and other mental health issues.
I can tell you from my own personal experience that hanging out in the salt room clears my sinuses every time. In addition, I get a 45 minute nap…it’s like being at the beach…complete with zero gravity chairs and relaxing music for sleeping or meditating. The floor is covered with 3 inches of Himalayan salt. Salt panels, dim lighting, and beach décor complete the illusion and give you a calm, comfortable feeling. Pharmaceutical grade sodium chloride is pumped into the room with a halogenerator to saturate the room with negative ions to help alleviate stress and give you an overall sense of well-being. Some of the most common comments following a halotherapy session are: “I can breathe”, “That’s so relaxing”, “I could stay in there for hours”.
Interested? Check them out at www.visitnatrium.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram to receive specials and discounts. They open on June 3rd and are running a special for the month of June for $15 a session (regularly $30). Tell them we sent you and enjoy!
Last year Francie and I started blogging about how to have a healthy vacation—eating clean, being active and recharging. We felt it was important to share this with clients since it seems like an American tradition to “live it up” on vacation – eat what you want, drink more than you normally do, and laze around, letting go of fitness routines.
This type of vacation mentality can make it particularly difficult to help patients to effect significant, lasting change, particularly if they travel often. Just when things are getting balanced and stable, they head off on vacation or a business trip, and we’re often starting over upon their return.
Personally, this type of vacation used to leave me feeling disgusted with myself, not to mention sluggish and ill, so several years ago, I made the choice to create my own “health retreat” type of vacation. Not only do I feel better while on vacation, I feel fantastic when I return because my body rested and rejuvenated rather than suffering a week or more of abuse, only to return to a backlog of work.
Healthy Options All Over Sedona
Before I left, I planned to blog about how to make healthy choices in the area for clients who vacation there, but when I got there and realized how supportive the area is to this, it didn’t seem like there was a real need. Sedona boasts a Whole Foods and a Natural Grocers, and oodles of restaurants offering gluten free, organic options and a great selection of fresh vegetables on the menu. Aside from a brief reminder to always be thinking “outside the menu” (not being afraid to ask for substitutions) or even trying the game I play at restaurants – trying to see how many colors of veggies I can get on my plate when ordering – there isn’t much else to say here that is particularly unique for navigating healthy eating in Sedona.
However, since this area is known for its spiritual energy, it felt appropriate to focus on another important aspect of a healthy vacation: finding a way to shift gears mentally and emotionally to allow for complete and total relaxation at a deep psychic level. This can be accomplished in numerous ways, but here are the techniques I rely on to shift those mental gears:
Start With a Massage
My first day of vacation I usually arrange to have a 90 minute massage to send my brain and body the message to “let go”. It just so happens that this trip I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had with Rosemary Anderson at Body Dialog Massage. If you’d like to experience a massage with her, I would recommend booking it a few weeks in advance.
Leave Work Behind
For me to truly relax on vacation, it’s important I don’t do any significant work…after all, work is the main thing I’m taking a break from. There are usually a few writing projects I’m working on that I’ll tackle on the flight out since I’m not a plane sleeper, but once I’ve landed, I put all work away.
I’ve also found that putting a vacation message on my email dramatically improves my ability to take a step back, allowing me to focus on rejuvenating so I come back refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.
Staying present seems like common sense…I mean, who goes on vacation just to drag along the same cares and worries you were shouldering at home? To really enjoy any moment, one must let go of regrets about the past and quit borrowing trouble by worrying about things that may or may not ever come to pass. This is also a good skill to bring home and practice every day.
I find the most effective way to stay present is to use all 5 senses to notice what’s going on around me. Are there birds singing? Is there a breeze blowing? Look at the scenery. Is that a blooming flower I smell? How about the food I’m eating…what spices did they use in this dish and can I duplicate it at home?
Have An Attitude of Gratitude
There are lots of people in the world who can’t afford to go on vacation…and many more who are less fortunate than you in even more profound ways. Focus on the things in your life that are working rather than focusing on the areas where things could improve. We’re all a work in progress, and our struggles are learning and growth opportunities.
When you’re physically and mentally relaxed, staying present, and focusing on all the things you’re grateful for, this can set the stage for the last thing I like to focus on when on vacation: getting re-grounded in my body and listening to its messages.
When we’re focused on the daily grind, and dealing with all of the crises that are an inherent part of life, it’s easy to tune out the messages our body is sending us: I’m hungry… I’m thirsty…I’m tired…there is pain associated with this behavior/activity…this situation doesn’t feel good…I can’t do this alone…I need to say “no”….these and many more are common examples of messages many of us tune out on a daily basis.
I’ve always found it ironic that when our bodies are most in need of TLC is when we’re least likely to provide it. Trust me, this is one of the most important concepts to grasp if you want to regain/gain or maintain optimal health.
Pain and discomfort are not random, and for most of us, our bodies know the answers if we only slow down and listen hard enough to hear.
A vacation is the perfect time to start establishing new, more positive behavior patterns!
A few summers ago I found this beautiful monarch “larvae” in the vegetable garden on a milkweed I had purposefully weeded around. Obviously a caterpillar can’t take a selfie, so what’s a girl to do?
The obvious answer? Pose it for some awesome photos with a friend, Sheri Bergman, behind the camera.
This year, I brought in a monarch caterpillar and it metamorphosed overnight into this gorgeous jeweled chrysalis (I missed the whole thing).
I also missed the totally cool nearly-butterfly phase, but after relocating the chrysalis outside, here’s what I found just a few days ago. I had clearly JUST missed the hatching as well as it pumping up its new wings.
Observing this process, I can’t help but think of the many different metamorphoses we all pass through in a lifetime. It seems unlikely that the caterpillar knows it will someday have wings, but it’s clearly trusting the process and moving through it. Life lesson in there…
OK, OK… I can’t resist one more lesson!
Did you know only 1-3% of monarch caterpillars ever become a butterfly? Birds, bugs and other predators are to blame, and when you factor in pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change and other challenges, the result is a 90% loss of monarchs in the past year. All of this is a strong argument for weeding around the milkweed plants, and even for bringing in monarch caterpillars for the few weeks it takes for them to grow big enough to form a chrysalis. Plus it’s a fascinating experience! For more details, and for some cool videos of a monarch caterpillar hatching from its egg AND a monarch emerging from its chrysalis, check out The Monarch Project.
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she had always been. But she had wings.” Dean Jackson
Did you ever hear the story about the restaurateur who declined to provide his hard-to-find heirloom tomato seeds for Martha Stewart’s garden? Not ready to give up, Martha dined at one of his restaurants and ordered the heirloom tomato salad… and, as you might guess, did a quick save of the seeds she’d been wanting. Pretty ingenious, huh?
You may not be Martha, but you can still try your hand at saving seeds. And, what do you know! It’s already that time of year again – time to select the best-tasting and healthiest tomatoes and save a few seeds so you’re sure to have some of your faves next year.
Simple Seed Saving
Though there are many ways to save tomato seeds, I’ve found this simple technique works best.
Choose tomatoes that are fully ripe and from plants that have produced well and thrived in your garden.
Label a paper towel with a spot for each variety of seeds you want to save. Believe me, you’ll be glad you labelled before the next step.
Now smear the seeds onto a paper towel under their respective labels and allow to completely air dry for several days.
Next, put them in plastic bags for storage. (I don’t typically seal the bag since the seeds are secure, and this avoids any chance of mold later.)
The first time I spotted a hummingbird moth, my brain could not believe my eyes. Was it a baby hummingbird? A bug? Some weird cross between the two? These beauties hover just like a hummingbird, and their favorite flowers are bergamot, also known as monarda or bee balm – but in general, they seem to visit the same types of flowers hummingbirds favor.
There are two types of hummingbird moths – clearwing and hawk.
The photos above and below are both examples of clearwing hummingbird moths – so named because the center of their wings are actually clear, like a pane of glass. The clearwing hummingbird moth shown below was spotted at a friend’s house in Westerville this week. And that makes sense, because the most likely time of year to spot a hummingbird moth in Ohio is July-August. During these months, they can be seen visiting flowers throughout the day and around dusk.
The other type is called a hummingbird hawk moth. Check out this short video I took of both types of hummingbird moths while on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina:
And be sure to keep your eye out for these winged beauties in your own flower garden!
Drawn to this story like a moth to a… well, you know…? Keep reading about Patty’s Retreat.
We’re now in the 5th week since our teenage ducks arrived. Only one duck remains, and she has wisely chosen to swim/fly out to one of the floating nests at dusk to sleep. We have decided this one is a girl for no particular reason other than it feels odd to keep referring to her as “it” and have named her Duckles.
Every day Duckles demonstrates better flying skills….we’re nearly there!
Within a few weeks of their arrival, our duck brood began taking practice flights around the pond, some flying, some half-flying, the smallest duck skip-flapping frantically in an attempt to keep up with the rest.
Only a few days later, 12 of the 13 began leaving the pond for parts unknown between their morning and evening feedings.
In the third week, seven of the teenagers stopped returning: our job is nearly done!
No, green heron chick isn’t a super hero… but, for a bird, it’s pretty close. It can hover briefly to catch prey. Some even say this bird is one of the world’s most intelligent because it has been know to use bait to attract fish.
Check out this green heron bait fishing with bread:
We’re lucky enough to have a green heron pair nesting near our pond for the past several years. We always know when they’ve arrived each year because of their loud and very distinctive calls (advertising and alarm calls are what we hear most often). It’s impossible not to take notice when what sounds like a crazy, prehistoric chicken is croak/shrieking as it flies from tree to tree around the pond.
It wasn’t until this year that we were finally able to locate “our” green heron pair’s nest, which looks more like a scaffolding made of loosely interlaced twigs. Although we were able to observe the parents feeding the two chicks, we missed the chance to photograph them before they fledged this precarious perch.
This little cutie was spotted 3 days later hiding in tall grass next to the pond. It seemed wary, but tolerated a somewhat prolonged photo session and even seemed to vamp a bit for its first close up.
At different times of the day now, the parents can be heard calling to the chicks in their croaky, prehistoric voices, announcing a regurgitated meal of small fish, frogs, bugs and other small prey.
It took nearly an hour of patient waiting for a snapshot of this flying beauty who completely shunned all the hybridized Echinacea, proof that we are breeding out nectar and pollen traits that are important for our pollinators. I strongly believe this is a big factor in the decline of the honey bee.
Be sure to seek out and include in your landscape plenty of native flowers that can provide a variety of food for our pollinators all throughout the growing season.
My favorite place to find these is Scioto Gardens Nursery, located in Delaware on Route 37. Owned by a husband and wife team, it’s a beautiful outdoor nursery surrounded by lots of native flowers and other plantings. It’s a must-see!
Every year, in the cold of early spring, we dutifully rebuild our floating duck nests in time for mallard mating and nesting season. It took several years of tweaking and observing before we devised a nest that could withstand both storms and jealous goose attacks.
Although we always have at least one successful hatching, this year we had two, and were able to observe as the second nest of 10 baby mallards fledged from one of our “prototype” floating nests and followed Mama Duck into the grass surrounding the pond. Within moments of their fledging, a third mallard couple claimed the nest site.
Because our pond does not provide sufficient cover, we’ve only ever seen baby mallards briefly after fledging, just before Mama Duck hustles them into the grass on shore, and on into the woods. Every year, we wish we could watch as “our” babies grow up.
Last week we were a release site for a baker’s dozen of teenage mallards from the wildlife clinic on Billingsley Road in Columbus.
In the 20+ years since I moved to the Columbus area, I’ve brought numerous rescues to the wildlife clinic: baby squirrels knocked from a tree during a storm, a turtle hit by a car, a baby screech owl that was the nearly dead runt of a nest of four, and a juvenile red tail hawk that had been hit in traffic.
The clinic is equipped to raise and/or provide medical care for, and then release wild animals, and volunteers will send a postcard upon request to let you know how the story ended.
The teenage mallards were part of a collection of 50+ baby ducks that were brought to the clinic for various reasons – commonly the mother is hit in traffic, babies get washed down storm sewers, or are simply found fending for themselves for reasons unknown.
They’re raised on a farm owned by a clinic volunteer until old enough for release, and then it is the job of volunteers at the clinic to find sites that are suitable, chase, catch, and transport them.
They arrived in pet carriers just over one week ago.
The day after “our” teenagers arrived, Mama Duck #3 took an incubation break to see what all the duck commotion was about. Immediately, all 13 teenage ducks of varying sizes made a beeline for her. It was sadly sweet to see how they yearned for a mama, but equally comical to know immediately by her reaction what she was thinking: “Oh, no! I have a few more days of peace before this starts!”
She communicated this to the horde of would-be adoptees in just a few short quacks, and they seemed to immediately understand and backed up, watching her in a way that can only be described as wistful as she swam away back to her nest.
A few days passed and the teenagers have stuck closely together and seem be mothering each other as they dabble around in the pond for food, and compete for their daily feedings of floating duck food left by the volunteers.
Today the floating nest is empty and Mama Duck #3 and her newly hatched babies have joined the melee on the pond, and the teenagers seem more than happy to help with the mothering.