Currently showing posts tagged wellness

  • Goodbye, Chicago! (A highly curated list of services/practitioners)

    We moved to Los Angeles and this is my "Goodbye, Chicago” gift; a hard-won list of favorite practitioners & service providers, gained over 18 years. I'm particular, so these are not offered lightly. I'm somewhat devastated at havng to re-create this list in LA, but hope this benefits Chicago pals. XO

    Lincoln Square Acupuncture: My favorite community acupuncture spot; expect a roomful of folks reclining on chairs stuck with needles, with white noise & gentle music playing. David’s an expert at doing quiet consultations, even in a “public” space. And, there is a private room if you need individualized attention. Sliding scale, starting at $25/visit. 

    Essential Acupuncture Chicago: Leigh Stein is one of two women at this women-centric practice, they do a lot with internal organs, digestion, fertility. Super comfy space and individualized attention. She did an amazing grief point for me that released energy and helped me move on from serious stuckness.  

    Michael A. Pontarelli at Windy City Wellness
    Discovering Mike 10 years ago saved my bod. He’s helped me recover from various ailments, plantar fasciitis, sprained ankle etc. he is a kinesiologist and appears sporty but is a true "healer" in every other sense. He uses modalities like acupuncture, massage (sometimes covered by insurance, and stretching/diet in his holistic approach). 

    Jason Borecki also at Windy City Wellness—Meaning, you can sometimes get referred to him for a short therapeutic massage to complement chiro treatment. I once came out of a relaxation massage wearing my dress inside out & backwards because I was just that relaxed, ENOUGH SAID. 

    Jana Robinson CheffingsBloom Yoga Studio—She’s great with musculoskeletal stuff i.e., carpal tunnel, tendonitis. Gentle yet skilled at getting all the bodily jankiness worked out. Love her, she’s brought me back from the brink many times. 

    Patty OriaBloom Yoga Studio—Uses a Feldenkrais approach which is really gentle & unique and is about creating better body movement in the long term. 

    Rover-Time Dog Walking & Pet Sitting: I am devastated to leave this service behind. My dog received regular walkers, whom he adored. They take photos, have an online check-in to let you know when the walk is complete, and are insured. Can’t praise them, or trust them, enough. Plus they do all these community engagement projects and events. Adore. Adore! 

  • Eucalyptus Steam-Room Hack

    Allergies and sinus-infections are rampant right now, and lately at the gym, all I really want to do is hit the eucalyptus steam room. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to do an hourlong detox bath ritual, but when you've only got a few minutes to spare, this refreshing and sinus-clearing eucalyptus shower is a great sub. Not to mention, it wakes you right the hell up. See DIY instructions below.Buy a bunch of eucalytpus; flower shops and floral departments at grocery stores keep them behind the counter as filler; a bunch is $5-$8. Mount it somewhere around your shower (using floral twine if you've got it; rubber bands or string otherwise). Sprinkle 15-20 drops of eucalyptus and any other of the essential oils listed below on the sides of the tub. Turn the shower on hot, close the door, wait for five minutes and return to your own personal spa/steam room. Breathe deeply. 


    Fresh eucalyptus
    Eucalyptus essential oil
    (Opt) Peppermint essential oil
    (Opt) Rosemary essential oil

  • How to Take a (Deluxe and Healing) Detox Bath

    Along with almost everyone else I know, I’ve got a bad cold right now. To cope, I'm planning on spending an exciting Friday night in my bathtub. I realized that with all my years of reviewing spa treatments and learning about handcrafting body products, herbalism, and self-care rituals, I’ve got a lot of accumulated knowledge, so I’m sharing tips about taking an detoxifying bath at home. This type of bath is particularly helpful if you’re sick, because it can help you clear your sinuses (see eucalyptus mention below), sweat out toxins, and just cleanse the lymphatic system. And it's much less weird and extreme than the (INVASIVE) Calistoga mineral mud baths or "meditation color-therapy" baths I've written about in the past. 

    I always emerge from my detox baths renewed and I hope this helps you, too!


    Epsom salt
    Baking soda
    Essential oils (whatever your favorites are; I like neroli, rose, lavender)
    Body brush (with stiff bristles)
    Moisturizer (I recommend jojoba or shea butter)
    (If desired) Ground ginger
    (If desired) Himalayan or sea salt
    (If desired) Dried herbs like rose, lavender, rosemary
    (If desired) Muslin bag for dried herbs
    (If desired) Badedas Classic Bubble Bath has fresh, woodsy scent notes like chestnut, cedarwood, and light patchouli, and basically makes me feel like I'm taking a bath in the middle of the forest
    (If desired) Kneipp Sweet Dreams Herbal Bath with Valerian and Hops has sleep-inducing valerian infused in the ix. It turns the water a disturbing shade of blue but does seem to help me sleep


    1. Set aside 45-60 minutes so you’re not rushing, and defeating the purpose.

    2. Get a huge bottle of purified water to drink while you soak.

    3. Set the tone: i.e., light candles; dim lights.

    4. Put on some chill music. Lately, I like Solange, Cecilia Bartoli (Italian opera singer), Charlie Haden (jazz bassist), Cesaria Evora (Cape Verdean ballad singer), Paco de Lucia (flamenco), Lhasa De Sela (Mexican-American chanteuse), and Jose Gonzalez. But you know what relaxes you best: If it’s Enya, Sinatra, or Massive Attack, godspeed.* Alternatively, listen to a guided meditation or 45-minute meditation talk by Tara Brach, Washington, DC-based Buddhist teacher and therapist. They are 45 minutes and filled with insights, funny/goofy stories, and Brach’s trademark empathy.

    5. Start filling the tub with warm (not super-hot) water.

    6. Dry brush your skin while you’re waiting for tub to fill: If you’ve never done this, find out more here. The most important thing to remember is to start at your feet and hands and use long strokes, sweeping towards your heart. The idea is to help your body shed dead skin layers and help the lymphatic system eliminate waste.

    7. Add Epsom salt to water (recommended amount for adults is 2 cups; when I’m stressed or achy I do more like 5 cups).

    8. Add 1-2 cups baking soda; (it softens skin).

    9. Add a handful of Himalayan or sea salt (the cheaper alternative). 

    10. Add your favorite essential oils and/or bubble bath. To de-stress, I use neroli/lavender/rose/ylang-ylang. To clear sinuses, eucalyptus and rosemary are helpful. Dry herbs like rose, mint, lavender, or rosemary are nice too—just put them in a porous bag like this muslin one, so they don’t leave a mess in your tub.

    11. (Optional) Add a small amount of ginger (1-2 Tbsp) to help you sweat out toxins.

    12. Swirl the water around to dissolve the salts.

    13. Soak for 20-45 minutes.

    14. Brush your skin again (in the same motion, from the outer limbs towards your heart), with the dry brush or just your hands.

    15. Apply a moisturizing lotion like shea butter or jojoba. (Or, for deluxe moisturization that also can be kind of messy, rub a mixture of olive and castor oils all over; stand there for two minutes, and then shower it off.)

    16. Drink lots of water—with lemon if you’ve got it. 

    17. Sleep like baby.

  • Custom Perfumer in Tel Aviv

    I'm in Tel Aviv for a travel story, and went to this Jaffa perfumerie, Zielinski & Rozen, that offers custom-blended perfums based on not only your scent preferences, but also one's own personal scent and lifestyle--exactly the way I like to pick out scent. It's tucked away on a side street, (and basically doesn't advertise), so going inside feels like discovering a secret. The owner, Erez Rozen, compares building an individual scent to building a pyramid, using the traditional concepts of high, middle, and base notes. Apart from the Dead Sea and the desert fortress Masada, this was probably my favorite experience in Israel.