Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Carrots In The Sun

I love it when my life collides! It's very refreshing and it makes me sit up and take notice.

Over the past year I have been looking a lot at the idea that we do need sunshine. I wrote a blog in July last year about sunscreen and there is a YouTube video I made to explain the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens to go along side it. Both blog posts were written after we had had a load of rain and cloud cover in the UK and people were not getting enough vitamin D into their bodies through the sun.

Today I saw a couple of very red people walk past my treatment room window - pink with dehydration, exhaustion and an over indulgence of harmful sun rays; they did not look happy at all.  I saw them panting past, all hot and bothered, after a conversation that I had had with a client who was asking my views on the effect of chemical sunscreens in the water that we drink. I have also been looking at Carrot Oil and Coconut Oil as natural alternatives to sunscreens after a friend nudged me with a couple of questions.

So all in all, I thought today may be a good day to revisit the topic - age old as it is - of sun protection,
with a new twist on the environment.

I have done a very unscientific enquiry based on Google, a cup of tea and sandwich this lunch time and looked at these three articles and one paper.
Bees Wax Pellets are great to work with as they melt easily.

Swimmers Sunscreen Killing Off Coral - National Geographic

Sunscreen Wipes Out Coral - Nature

Sunscreen, whilst protecting skin, pollutes water - My Science Work

Sunscreen Products As Emerging Pollutants To Costal Waters - PLOS

What I liked about the four articles was that although a lot of work had been done on chemical damage on the corals, the last link looks at costal waters off Spain, which for a lot of European readers makes the issues seem quite close, rather than something on the Australians have to worry about.

Basically, it seems that around 5,000 metric tons of chemical rich sunscreen washes off swimmers each year and that goes into the sea and the chemicals react with the coral, bleaching and then killing it. It's not great and I certainly don't want to think about how that is effecting our drinking water as I am sure that it won't be great to ingest. But there is a lot to be said that we do need some form of protecting whilst we are in the sun and we need to start asking the question of balance:

How do we protect ourselves and our rich planet?

I started looking at natural sunscreens about a month ago, just after I came back from the States, as a friend of mine asked me if I had tried making my own. She followed this up with the question about my views on Carrot Seed Oil. After making a fool of myself by saying I had never heard of it, I did some research and found that Carrot Seed Oil is pretty cool stuff, especially for sunscreens. I was quite keen to try making one with Zinc Oxide, as I had always thought it was safe and it wouldn't irritate my skin, but an article from Missouri State University said that they felt that there was a chance that the sun would react to zinc oxide and cause free radicles, which are known to increase the incidents of cancer.

So, where do we start to look for a planet/skin friendly option? We look to the planet and our skin. 

The creatures and plants of the earth offer us these beauties:

Carrot Seed Oil - SPF around 38 - 40 and rich in free radicle killers - antioxidants, and helps rejuvenate the skin

Coconut Oil - SPF around 4 - 8 and brilliant skin hydrator

Beeswax - Great waterproofer

We are also given essential oils, which are lovely to mix in with these three sun protecting ingredients. However, please do your background reading before adding any in to your sunscreen as some actually make your skin photosensitive, which means that you are more likely to become sensitive in the sun. For example, avoid Bergamot, Lemon, Orange and Lime are not great to mix into a sun protecting balm.

There are many recipes out there if you want to do a Google search, but the one that I like the best is this:

DIY Homemade Natural and Safe Sunscreen.

It's really easy to make and one that can be applied to children as well as adults and the beeswax offers a slight waterproofing effect (hardly a swim in the tropics, but a sprinkler fight in the back garden may be ok!).

It's also a good question to ask yourself, when is enough enough? Enjoying the sun, getting a protected
bit of colour onto the skin and staying safe is wonderful and I really enjoy it myself, but I don't personally think we need the very high amounts of sunscreen all the time. A factor 50 worn all day and reapplied three times a day, may be too much and instead of staying out in the sun all day, maybe there is a time to go the shade instead so the balance stays at a safe level?  If it's time to get out of the sun, then it's enough. Find your own perfect balance without harming yourself or others.

Enjoy the summer with a big wide smile, celebrate the life giving force that the sun gives us and revel in it's warmth!

I would love to hear your views, recipes and ideas on this subject, so do check in to the Facebook Page and get in touch with us! Let us know what works, or doesn't, for you and share your experience with us!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why Bother?

The 18th at St Andrews Golf Course

"Why Bother?"

This was the question that was laid before me, stark and cold, in my treatment room last week. A
couple of clients, (who have given me permission to write about this), simply didn't understand why I needed to learn any more anatomy. After a month away in America studying with Lise Waugh in Washington and Gil Hedley and the team in New Jersey, I can understand where their question was coming from, as in many people's eyes it seems that my going away so often to learn about the body is a bit odd.

"If you've seen so many bodies, haven't you seen everything you need to see yet?" is another question that I get asked on an almost daily basis at the moment.

The reason why I am off to St Andrew's on Sunday for a week in the lab is because I don't see why I should stop exploring, and every time I see something new in the lab, or in my treatment room, I am astounded at how amazing our bodies are and how little I know about them. After 15 years of study I can feel like a trainee on their first ever day at school most days. This isn't because I don't know what I'm doing, it's just that the more I see, the more questions I have about body-work and the way our bodies react to the environment around us.

I find that the work that my clients and I do together ends up being a huge journey about their past and present, looking at how stress factors effect them, finding their own way of calming down and the growing forward. It's a total immersion into body change every time I go to work, so I feel that the more questions I have the better. The reason I go off to hang out with people who are as eager to learn about life as I am is that the questions don't simply become more, they get better!

Gil Hedley said this in May when he was asked what he wanted to achieve out of the work we were doing in New Jersey, he wanted to be able to ask better questions.

Science isn't fact. This is something I learned from my husband, David, as over the years he has shown me that science isn't there to create fact, it's to go further in our understanding of a subject and to ask ever bigger and better questions. It's a changing force, science, with ideas and concepts becoming moveable feasts. Papers are written not to prove a hard and fast theory, they are produced to show a way of thinking and to aid debate, further ideas and progress from the point when they are published.

This is true of Anatomy. The books are great guidelines to base a hypothesis upon and I can refer to them as a bench mark of what an average take is of an average body that has been simplified into pictures. I can know from these books what I can reasonably expect from healthy muscles.

But my anatomy books are not you!

The reason why I bother is that you are personal, unique and perfect in your own anatomy and the more I can see, the more I can fill my mind with questions that may be able to help you find a more comfortable place within your form.

The lab work is fantastic for not only remembering that no body is the same, but it nudges me in the direction of new thinking. For example, I may have seen a client for a year and based my treatment work on the information that my 15 years of experience and the books have been given me. The moment I step back and see something fresh I can see a way that may unlock the problems that we have been having simply by not relying only on my past experiences or looking at the books, but seeing it for real.

My study into the anatomy, skin health, the science of oils and herbs, and the passion I have to read about the environment and it's relationship on the body is a journey that I am in love with. It's the way my mind is able to change daily and I don't want to stop that feeling I have of finding something new everyday!

I bother because I love to see us move with more freedom around our planet.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Homemade Shea Body Butter

My Homemade Shea Body Butter
Today I thought that I would share with you a recipe that I tried out at the beginning of the week. A friend encouraged me to try making my own body care products and this one comes straight from Healthy Living How To with a couple of tweeks. Let's get the recipe started and I'll write about it at the end.

Shea Body Butter

You need

  • 1/2 Cup of Shea Butter
  • 1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Jojoba Oil
  • Essential oils of your choice
You also need
  1. Pyrex Jug
  2. Wooden Spoon
  3. Electric Hand Whisk
  4. Big bowl
  5. Piping bag and nozzle
  6. Jar to put your body butter in 
Oils melting on the stove top.
  • Sterilise EVERYTHING! I cannot express how much you need to do this. I made sure that everything I was about to use went through a very hot dishwasher cycle on their own as I didn't want bugs in my body butter to start with. (See this process as one of the most important aspects.)
  • Place the Shea Butter, coconut oil and jojoba oil in the pyrex jug and put it in a big pan of warm water on the stove top. (The water doesn't have to be deep). 
  • Stir the oils (not the essential oils) together until they all melt - the Shea butter will be the last to dissipate. 
  • Take the jug out and place in the fridge for 20 mins to cool
  • Place the jug in the freezer for about an hour and every ten minutes stir it round so it gets an even consistency. You want to take it out when it is just about to set solid. 
  • Place the mixture in the big bowl and use the whisk to really whisk it up for about five minutes.
  • Take your essential oils and add 10 drops to the mixture.
  • Continue to whisk until it has the consistency of whipped cream. 
  • Place the mix into a piping bag and pipe it into the jar/container. 
  • Enjoy!

A T-Towel over the jug in the fridge
helps to stop food smells.
There are a few reasons why I wanted to share this with you on the blog. Over the years I have talked a lot about slowing down, getting to know what is going into and onto your body and have encouraged readers to source their food from responsible sources. As I have been travelling and talking with people, I have wanted to see if there is a way to coming back to a basic principe that I picked up through Michael Pollan's book 'In Defence Of Food', which is basically if you can't pronounce the ingredients in your food, should you be eating it?! Also, he challenged me to really start looking at how many ingredients there are in food - 6 should be enough. So if I am doing that for my body intake, could I do that for my skin intake, seeing as that skin is the doorway into the body?

Whipped just before I added
essential oils
Now don't get me wrong, it's going to take more than a mashed organic avocado to make me stop using Dermalogica! As far as toxic ingredients, they are quite low as you search through the majority of  their products. I love their skin care and I can't beat them as far as results in the treatment room and at home. Plus, I simply can't imagine life without PreCleanse and Daily Microfoliant. 

But, I still want to cut down my ingredient and toxin overload, so making some of my own skin care can't be a bad thing, especially when I can invest in raw organic ingredients that are sourced fairly. 

Making this Shea Body Butter started with the question "If I blog about this, could my friend with her two kids (both under 4), do this with out too much bother?".

The answer is that she probably could in the evening. The recipe just requires you to be around for the stirring whilst the mixture is cooling (and I set a timer to make sure I remembered to do it). Then it needs 20mins for the whisking, essential oil dropping and piping. It's not difficult, it's just an hour and a half of being around it. Also, it took me a couple of days to get the required ingredients posted to me, so that also needs to be taken into account. 

However, I was thinking of another friend who has two girls under 12 and thought that it would be a lovely thing for them to make together during the summer holidays and maybe do enough for three small jars that can all be personalised with the oils that they each like. 

A zip-lock with the corner cut
and the pipe nozzle in place
made the jar filling a breeze.
It also makes a wonderful small gift! I am spending time this weekend making some body scrub and shampoo to trial and the three in a gift bag would be a very different thing to make and give to friends and family. 

I have been using it for a couple of days and really enjoy it. I have been taking a clean teaspoon to get it out of the jar as I hate fingers in products - it's just a germ haven and fingers don't help keep things clean! The first time I used it I forgot that it was an oil, not a cream, and used too much. It melts on the skin so it goes a long way and you don't need much. As it's a natural product it takes a few minutes to sink into the skin, but I quite like that as I allow it to absorb as I'm doing my skin care and hair. 

I will certainly be making it again and would love to hear what you think about it through Twitter of Facebook. What would you change? What oil combinations did you use? How would you make this personal to you? Let me know as I would love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Half Way Around The World And Back Again.

View from the porch of Mt Baker, Washington State.
Hello and welcome back to the blog! It feels so good to be back again; sitting in my garden with cheesy pop music playing as the sun shines. Finchley, my cat, is stalking around the lettuces and the laundry is flapping in the breeze. I am back in the UK after a month in America in May and a month of landing in June. It's a great feeling today to be getting my feet back under the table and wiggling my toes.

I ostensibly went over to America to have a month of anatomy training in the lab as I helped Gil Hedley and the team start his project for The Integrated Atlas Of The Body, which is going to take people through the layers of the body as an anatomical study aid. But of course, it was so much more than that.

I flew into Sea-Tac Airport to meet up with Lise, a great friend whom I met in the lab at St Andrews last year and spent an amazing week hanging out with her simply incredible family near Mt Baker in Washington State. Lise is a Thai Yoga Therapist and over the week showed me how gently powerful movement can become when incorporated into Body-Work. It was a delightful lesson on calming stillness flowing through to dynamic results and she helped shape my thinking about massage profoundly.
Me at the flower market, Pike's Place, Seattle. 

As we walked around tress in the foot hills that are 1200 years old we found ourselves connecting to the natural surroundings, and as we laughed outrageously with a few bottles of wine we discovered that laughter is truly a wonderful remedy for the worlds ills! Love is such a small word that describes so very much and can sound trite and hippy in the 'wrong' way sometimes, but it is the only word that surrounds that week with Lise and it was awesome.

Flying to New York was fun and it was a delight to see David, my husband, for dinner and brunch over the weekend before I headed for the lab for three weeks on the Sunday. (Yes, David was in Manhattan for less than 24 hours so that we could have dinner together, which to me was ultimate gesture of love.)

We were based in the State of New Jersey for three weeks of study and exploration into Inner Space. With 40 of us in the lab we were very pleased to have a wonderfully large space to work and rest in during the day. The lawn space of the University was taken up at lunch by us, an unusual crowd for the location, as we ate lunch, drank coffee and did a huge amount of yoga! A personal set of bonuses of these lunchtime retreats onto grass was that I was able to take my shoes off and let my toes wiggle in the grass, as well as find a new passion for daily yoga and as a result came home with a bit of a tan, (a miracle for all who know me). I also got to talk and hangout with the most amazing people who changed my mind towards life, my work and anatomy. Their generosity inside and outside the lab was overwhelming at times and it took my breath away. Spending time living with new friends, hanging out with chickens and cows in the evenings and playing cards with the most beautiful family, who will stay with me forever, made the work seem like such a joy.

Many people have asked me what I learned in the lab over the three weeks in connection to the anatomy and the bare truth is that I can't write about it. I have tried to sit down and summarise it all into a tidy package, but it was too big, too awe inspiring and brain expanding to put it into a paragraph. I have a feeling that it will roll through in the future into comments on this blog, Twitter and Facebook. The experience has already changed my way of treating clients in the treatment room and I am so happy to say that I have come back reenergised to work with my clients and readers to help people re-form through gentle release and powerful intention.

The New Jersey Somanauts 2014 'Dedicated to exploring inner space' ... and laughter!
Coming home at the beginning of June was a little tough, but showed me that the 'Laughing With Love Principle' that I flew home with stood me in good stead. As a family we have been through a lot in four weeks with my Mum fracturing her leg, which has led to a very successful knee replacement, and my middle brother falling 20m (35foot) during a climbing trip and having Mountain Rescue get him to a trauma hospital in Bristol. My brother is mending well but is in for a long journey of recovery. Every time I go to the hospitals I am so pleased that I can now picture the anatomy in my mind, know what the doctors are talking about and see how the after care can be put in place to make sure that these two precious people can come over the hills that they have to walk over to get to an even better place than when they started.

As I sit in the garden looking at back over the past 8 weeks it feels like at least 4 lifetimes ago since I boarded a plane to Sea-Tac. I have travelled a lot, both mentally and physically, and these hands and feet are destined to take me even further in my very blessed life.

My hands and feet at the end of my time in America. 

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