Every now and again the stars are aligned and a bucket list travel opportunity happens. This was the case when it was recommended that my husbands band head to Iceland this winter to do some recording at Sundlaugin; a recording studio built inside a converted swimming pool (just imagine the acoustics!). The inspiration was to mix things up and bring in new creative energies to their upcoming album. So being the thoughtful guy that he is, my husband insisted that our girls and I come for an extended family vacation.
Uh, OK let me think about it.. ha, the decision was a no brainer! I flew solo with our girls on an overnight flight traveling in Icelandic Air's newest plane the Hekkla Aurora. Who knew planes could possibly be so charming? Wondrous Icelandic poems adorned the pillows and blankets while a simulated Northern Light display on the cabin ceiling gently lulled us to sleep. Well kinda, unfortunately my Magnolia gets severely motion sick….I won’t say anymore…well only that my girl is a trooper.
Once in Iceland we embarked in the most exhilarating experience of our lives! Our initial reaction was that we had somehow landed on the moon. The extraordinary landscape is truly otherworldly. It seemed each time you turned your head the view changed dramatically and the weather to match. We felt a beckoning call leading us in the direction of new adventures. Oh, we were game!
First up was a visit to the renowned wonder of the world the Blue Lagoon. Driving up to the location we all started cheering and flapping when we caught a glimpse of the unbelievable blueness of the water. The lagoon is mother-natures own geothermal spa, a giant lake-sized hot tub if you will. Folks travel from around the globe to bathe outside in these healing waters soothing a variety of itchy, irritable skin conditions. Once submerged in the water we slathered mineral rich mud all over our faces and basked in the warmth of the sun with a tropical drink in our hands. Wait, did we just jump out of our story and into the caribbean ocean? Nope this is pure North. Horizontal hail pelted our heads the whole time.
Each time our family travels, we set our sights on horseback riding trails. Iceland was absolutely a one of a kind experience as they have only their very own breed of horse on the island. These look like horses from the Hobbit or Game of Thrones, well actually these are them. One of our hard working horses moonlights as a cast member of the latter popular TV show. The horse farm we visited is called Laxnes, run by a jovial Icelandic equivalent of Zach Galifianakis. Photos hang on the stable walls with the likes of John C. Reilly and Ben Stiller yukking it up with the owners letting you know you’re in for a really good time! We rode through the breathtaking mountains feeling like empowered Walter Mitty, Viking badasses.
My biggest hope for this trip was to see the Northern Lights. At the beginning of 2015 I was declaring this to be the year of ‘light and color’, I’ve been gradually bringing Chakra work into my massage therapy practice and have found increasing resonance with color. I could only image how awe inspiring it would be to see essentially the earths aura on full display. We were disappointed that a night at the lovely Northern Lights Inn did not render a glimpse. Instead though, one early morning in our Reykjavic air bnb apartment I was feeling lucky and yanked open the blinds at just the right moment to catch the lively colourful Aurora Borealis painting the sky. Pure magic! Mostly emerald green swirls, splotches and wisps pulsed across the sky. I fell back to sleep with a feeling of alignment with all that is and my Chakras fully cleansed…Om.
The Icelandic people are beautiful. Their features and their hearts radiate an enduringly kind yet mischievous, subtleness and elegance. These are brave souls. The harsh winters do not keep them from frolicking outside in the elements. Icelanders are regularly outdoors half-naked in swimsuits during the winter season. They delight in their homeland hot springs while many of us western snowbirds flee, as if insulted, to southern climates. The dramatic landscape is always warm and welcoming deep down at its core- this land is the energy centre of the world for goodness sake!
Volcanic activity and geothermal energy is a way of life here. Heat? They’re practically giving it away! Incredibly the magnificent heat producing volcanos on this tiny island may offer renewable energy solutions in further places such as England. Even just hiking around the lava fields is like being a flea on a tea kettle. If not careful you may literally be scalded by steam spraying from the mountain rocks!
There may also be an entirely different species living amongst the rocks and caves. According to the back of the seat in front of me on Iceland Air, fifty-four percent of the islanders believe in Elves and Trolls and at times go so far as to have land examined before construction begins. This coming from a majority of critical thinkers of which thirty-four percent of the population hold university degrees. I’m sorry to say though that we did not meet any Elves on this trip.
Iceland you are a treasure and my family thanks you for the awesome adventure.
Chocolate Super Food Just in time for Valentines!
I’ve got issues when it comes to chocolate…let’s just say my love runs deep! Thankfully I prefer the organic dark variety that does have some nutrition to it and is not crazy high in sugar. Though combined with having two tweens in the house who’ve taken to baking it seems our cupboard is always full of sweets (ok kinda fabulous!). Unfortunately, when it comes to the abundance of chocolate and treats in our household the two grown-ups (Ma & Pa) have poor personal moderation skills. So I have recently explored making my own chocolate that is low in sugar and containing some smatterings of nutritional value. To my surprise it is dead easy to make quality vegan raw chocolate that offers super-food heath benefits and tastes amazing! I can make the following chocolate peanut butter cups in a flash while doing laundry, cooking dinner and/or helping with homework. I then store them in the freezer to be consumed with total exuberant joy and utter satisfaction!
A double boiler or microwave
1 ½ cup Organic raw cacao powder
¾ cup Organic raw cocoa butter
Pinch of Himalayan (high mineral content) Sea Salt
½ cup Quality peanut butter
A couple tablespoons of Maple Syrup (adjust according to desired sweetness)
Mini cupcake liners
*I use a bit of raw coconut oil because I always have tons but it’s not necessary OR you can substitute it for the cocoa butter if that’s what you have on hand.
How to make:
Simply melt approximately ¾ cup cocoa butter in double boiler or Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.
Remove from heat and add about 1 ½ cups cocoa powder, a few tablespoons of maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt then stir well.
Fill a tray with around 50 mini cupcake liners then fill them up about ¼ full with melted chocolate and pop into the freezer a few minutes until solid.
Remove tray from freezer and place a dollop of peanut butter over the cold chocolate then cover with the leftover chocolate.
Place back in freezer. I actually find storing them there to be the most ideal and they taste yummy cold.
This literally takes me 15 min to make.
Raw cacao- High in antioxidants, reservatrol, phenethylamine (feel good neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of love), Omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin C, Iron, amino acids and it is the highest whole food source of magnesium. There are many more compounds yet to be discovered in this live super-food!
Raw cocoa butter- Contains loads of C, E and B vitamins. Also this butter is high in oleic acid (like olive oil) and polyphenol which has numerous health benefits.
There you have it, organic and raw cacao peanut butter cups that give the candy version a run for their money! Speaking of money, some of the ingredients like the raw cocoa butter and raw cacao have a high price tag, however you can truly make a tone of chocolates with them. I’m already at 100+ peanut butter cups (yes I still have issues!) and still have half a bag of cacao left. I'm now having Valentines Day Inspirations ....hmm...
The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.
“Don’t tell the world that it is aggressive and mean”
Contemplate these things- A Satsang talk with Mooji
A short while ago I came across images of these gorgeous bottles filled with layered liquid colour, seeing them immediately made my mind stop and my heart open, in other words it kind of woke me up. The colours and their combinations kept appearing in my mind long afterwards, so I figured I’d investigate them a little more. Turns out that they’re part of a natural healing system called Aura Soma. I found a book about it online and ordered it right away. I had a feeling there would be something in it for me. And boy was I right! When it arrived I was surprised to find that it was an autobiography of sorts. Within the pages I discovered not only the purpose and function of the bottles but the life story of a remarkable and inspiring healer named Vicky Wall.
Vicky Wall had a somewhat challenging and complicated childhood growing up in England in the 1920’s. Her mother passed away leaving her and her six older siblings with a caustic stepmother. Leaving home at sixteen, her luck changed and she found work as an assistant to an Apothecary under who’s tutelage she eagerly soaked up knowledge of many plant-based medicines. After making an error in a formulation and desperately attempting to salvage it, she began experimenting with the ingredients and concocted various skincare creams which turned out to be effective and eventually popular.
This aspect of her life as a skincare hand-crafter was fascinating to me and would likely be of interest to any of us who follow this passion. As she matured she went off to University and became one of England’s first female Chiropody Surgeons, opening a clinic with her good friend Margaret Cockbain who practiced osteopathy. Once again, as an R.M.T. I was inspired by her skills and pioneering nature with regards to her alternative approach to healthcare. Later in life however, as she was nearing her sixties and diabetic, her health was such that she could no longer work in the same capacity.
One fateful evening inspiration came to her and she somewhat mysteriously began to create what would become known as Aura Soma (translates as 'light-being'); glass bottles containing layered liquid colors, made of organic olive oil, biodynamic herbs, hydrosols, essences and natural colors. These oils were to be applied to various places on the body and taken-in visually and vibrationally as well. In truth Vicky had a deep understanding of the profound influence of color upon physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing through research and her own ability to see auras since childhood. Her work has resonated (literally!) with thousands of people since. There are now over one hundred different coloured bottles (known as Equilibrium Bottles) that have been created that serve our greater awareness and pure consciousness.
What was particularly fascinating to me is that I had been curious how aspects of Colour Therapy would work for a blind person and was amazed to find that by this point Vicky was legally blind! A renaissance woman to be sure, Vicky brought her creative vision forth and despite many odds created a wondrous residential training centre called Dev Aura “House of Light” in the English countryside where self-discovery through colour is taught.
Vicky Wall passed away in 1991 graciously leaving us her healing gemlike potions.
Today her protege Mike Booth continues her mission.
I have noticed more and more that my clients are requesting massage therapy for their children or teens for a variety of reasons. Parents are realizing that their health benefits extend to the whole family and more importantly that their youngsters are prone to the same musculoskeletal stressors that they are. It seems today that children are involved in many more afterschool programs such as dance, karate, swim or tennis, spending much more time on computers and dealing with all the emotions involved in growing up.
They too feel the stress and strains you feel, tightness in their neck and shoulders, or even trouble sleeping.
I have also worked with teens who besides physical aches and pains are dealing with all too common anxiety issues. Introducing your child to self-care gives them the tools for recognizing and processing stress. Massage therapy by its nature counteracts the
qualities of aggression that we may be exposed to in life.
I feel that booking a treatment with your trusted R.M.T. can be a great experience for your child. I received my first professional massage at the age of seventeen and I can clearly remember the profound effect that it had on me, I felt truly relaxed and a deep sense of wholeness. I spoke to my massage therapist after my treatment remarking on how centered I felt and believe me I was no stranger to anxiety as a teen. It was in fact an empowering experience as I learned that I simply did not have to succumb to the effects of stress or feeling overwhelmed. By the age of nineteen I was enrolled at Sutherland & Chan!
Research has shown time and time again how beneficial massage therapy is to premature babies by encouraging their growth and development, below is a list of additional benefits of therapeutic body work for your children:
-Promotes a healthy body, mind and spirit
-Calms the nervous system
-Great stress buster
-Soothes growing pains
-Heals muscular injuries
-Improves quality of sleep
Have you ever wondered just what kind of oils are being used on your body when you receive a massage? If so you can always ask your therapist, and kinda should. Your skin is your body's largest organ and it absorbs approximately 70% of what we put on it, think smokers patches, birth control patches or any other transdermal patch and you get the idea. Well I've gotta tell you that often in spas and
clinics the oils used are not the best quality (we're talking parabens and mineral oil) I should know I've worked in many! As a therapist I have acquired skin irritations myself from using some of the standard massage oils, creams and gels that contain synthetic ingredients. I have also found when being on the receiving end that I have experienced breakouts as well (back acne? ugh!), I often feel the need to shower off the oil immediately. What nonsense, a massage should not only be healing to your musculoskeletal system, but to your skin as well. I think we're all starting to come around to the beautiful nourishing plant based oils that mother-nature has to offer. I have found using oils such as pure avocado, coconut, cherry kernel, jojoba and many others that my skin is balanced, soft, clear and I dare say, radiant. Quality oils
should never be washed off, they're beneficial to our skin and with the subtle use of organic essential oils....Heaven!
Above are some of my hand blended massage oils that I use in all my treatments and are available at
http://wildrose-magnolia.com or at my clinic.
copyright © 2014 Susannah Spearin
My name is Susannah and I have been a Registered Massage Therapist for over twenty-seven years and I love what I do!