Laugarvatn Fontana

fontana 1

Yesterday, after writing a detailed email of what-one-must-do-on-their-first-trip-to-Iceland for an adventurous colleague of mine, it hit me: damn, I love Iceland.  It’s on my mind, it’s in my heart. I can count on one hand places on the planet where my feet have touched the sea or salted earth and I have known this is my home.  A year ago this week, I returned from my first trip to Iceland, toting mass memories and a brand new romance. Said romance turned into my Icelandic long-distance boyfriend. Yup, you read that right. We jetted back and forth, forth and back, across the Northern lights. It didn’t work out in the end, whatever the end may really be. The sweetness is, I still love Iceland. And while I’m saving the romance for my book, I’m not sparing the share of spots that you need to see. A sensational spa that sometimes plays second fiddle to Reykavik’s Blue Lagoon should not be ignored. High tail it to Laugarvatn Fontana. Just call it Fontana. Fantasyland Fontana…

fontana 3

The power of the elements will balance your energy. It may have been the coldest winter I’ve ever felt, but Fontana’s geothermal pools sent me to a happy place. The panoramic views elevate the mind’s eye while the soothing water and steam calm the soul. It’s as dreamy as it sounds, it’s as dreamy as can be.

fontana 5

fontana 7

fantana 2

Images via Laugarvatn Fontana

Radiant Heart Acupuncture

erin JBD 2

To be present on this planet is a gift. You are alive and you were born with a power deep within, one which carries you through the rivers of your existence. A year ago, I heard a loud calling to release some of the past I was holding onto. I walked into Radiant Heart Acupuncture at the suggestion of a stranger named Coffey, a lovely lady I met while walking through a hotel hallway. (You never know where goodness may be brewing, right?) Erin Telford, radiant indeed, welcomed me into that first acupuncture session and I was hooked. She has guided me to heal myself. And heal I have. I continue to see her for acupuncture and Reiki treatments because I believe in the positive growth affects as much as I believe in family, music, yoga and the moon and the stars.

Erin loves her patients and believes they deserve the best version of her each visit. She views her time with you as sacred. She shows up, incredibly responsive yet stable for anything that might be coming up for you. The luminosity of her being is the real deal. Read on to learn more about this intuitive, smart, kind woman. I’m pretty sure she is New York City’s good witch.

erin JBD 4

Is there an experience in your own life that prompted you to begin a career in Eastern Medicine and healing?

I grew up in a very hippie household. Both of my parents were practitioners of transcendental meditation and we had photos of their guru Maharishi up in our home. We were a no sugar or processed food household with very limited TV watching and we went to crystal therapy when we got sick. I ran in the other direction for a variety of reasons and ended up working in luxury fashion. The industry really ground me under its heel and I was becoming very unhealthy as a result.  I had the first and only panic attack I’ve ever had in my life one afternoon and it was terrifying. I felt like I was tripping on acid and having a heart attack at the same time. After that experience, I realized my life wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t know what to do next so I just kept asking for a sign. I received it in the form of an article called “Death By Stress” in Elle magazine. The article was about a New York girl who is working too hard and playing too hard and paying for it. She received acupuncture and realized she could have a completely different experience of being in her body. I was so moved that I requested a course catalog from the acupuncture school that was mentioned. As I flipped through it, I was hooked. I hadn’t feel so inspired in years and I knew it was exactly what I was meant to do.

What is your educational background and training?

I have a BA in Communications from University of Washington and an MA in Chinese Medicine from Pacific College. The masters program for Chinese medicine is major. It’s a four-year program in herbs, acupuncture, Chinese medical massage, anatomy, diagnosis and treatment of every level of the body from both an Eastern and Western medicine view. It’s about 300 hours short of a PhD program. Our curriculum was especially intense because the main campus is in California where you can be a primary care provider. My education basically prepared me to be someone’s GP.  All of my education since I’ve graduated has been a bit more mystical…following my nose to find my teachers in Reiki and Breathwork, studying with masters when I can. Always self reflecting and addicted to personal development so that I’m bringing my highest self to my clients.

erin JBD 3

How did you begin on the path of healing others? Was it always something you wanted to do?

It really all started when I realized that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in the fashion industry. Even more importantly, I realized I wasn’t giving anything to the world. I grew up in such a conscious household and I had to find my way back to that. I’ve always been a keeper of secrets for people. I’ve always wanted to help people feel heard and loved and witnessed. I didn’t know what powerful medicine that alone could be. It wasn’t something that I had always wanted to do but it found me. I had to be hit over the head with it but when I was called it was so clear it could not be ignored.  I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I have the best job on the planet.

What are ways acupuncture can help someone?

It really depends on how far you want to go with your healing. I can say it can help with quality of sleep, relieving pain, balancing hormones, relieving stress, boosting immunity and energy levels and improving your digestion. All of those things are true. When you make a choice to commit to taking care of yourself, that’s when the healing starts. Acupuncture can have all these amazing physical and emotional effects. The magical part is when that work prompts you to become really self-aware of your habits, triggers, and patterns. You begin to remember yourself and love yourself and really take a look at how you are living your life and how it works for you. You can reclaim your power and creativity and playfulness. Most of the treatments that I do are spirit level treatments. I don’t tell everyone this because I don’t want to freak them out but these are treatments that help you reconnect to your highest self. They help to move anything out of the way that has bumped you off your karmic path. So to sum it up, energy work can help with everything!

Did Reiki practice come after your acupuncture training? Is Reiki a healing technique anyone can use?

I just keep following my curiosity with my work and Reiki was a natural next step for me after acupuncture. People need to be touched and I wanted to bring that into my practice. It’s essential for our survival and growth. I wanted to be able to sit with people and hold them. I had a really revolutionary Reiki experience and wanted to share that powerful yet soft energy with others. I basically meditate for an hour when I am giving Reiki so I love it!

Reiki is a natural healing system founded by Mikao Usui a little over a hundred years ago. He “received” the Reiki through a healing event where it came through his body. Practitioners are initiated by a master who opens the channels in them so that this Universal life force energy is able to pass through their hands. Reiki energy goes where it is needed, balances the body’s energy centers, relieves pain, and calms the nervous system.  Anyone can receive the attunements that allow this natural Source energy to channel through them.  You just need to find a teacher you love and receive the teachings.

What are other tools you utilize to heal others?

Listening and witnessing people in a non-judgmental and kind way is some of the best medicine I know. People need to feel loved and know they are not alone. I try to create a space where people feel complete safety in their expression.

My newest healing tool is Breathwork. This is something that grabbed me in April when I was in Nicaragua on a yoga retreat. It blew my mind. This technique is so simple but moves so much emotional energy. It facilitates the release of old pain in a way that leaves you feeling lighter and really blissed out. I love leading people through it.

erin JBD 1

Have you had a life-transforming experience in your practice?

I’ve had experiences in my own healing that have been completely life transforming.  My m.o. is heal myself and share with you, heal myself and share with you, over and over. So, whatever I experience, I bring to the table whether it’s a technique or a story.

I’ve had incredibly life AFFIRMING experiences in my practice. I have been delivered clients as gifts from the Universe who taught me and healed me. I have worked with people who were suffering so much and watched them come back to life.  That is the gift of this work is seeing people care enough about themselves to love themselves back to health on all levels and to trust in life.

Do you use or believe in the power of crystals?

Yes, I love my rocks! I have been incorporating them more and more into my practice.  I have a Rose Quartz obelisk on the table where I talk with my clients. This radiates a feeling of love and warmth and acceptance into our interaction. I also have a Faden crystal next to it, which protects any kind of energy transfer between the two of us. This keeps our sessions clean energetically. I keep Yellow Calcite in each treatment room to absorb any pain that comes up in a session. I also really like Orange Calcite for the Second Chakra. I wear Moonstone and Kyanite. With crystals, the ones you are seeking are also seeking you so you find the right ones eventually!

Are the phases of the moon connected to how we humans walk the earth?

Yes! The Moon is a big deal!  If it can pull the ocean back and forth and influence a woman’s menstrual cycle, just think of how it can influence the 70% of us that is water. It is a powerful planet. All of nature provides a rhythm and ebb and flow for our life.  The Moon gives a rise and fall to our emotional and physical energy throughout the month.

You embody compassion. For those reading who need a reminder, what is your guidance for self-acceptance?

There is nothing wrong with you.  I have times in my life where I feel like a weird alien person.  We all feel like that sometimes.  I just keep loving the hell out of myself no matter what. The core of who we all are is beautiful. The self doubt and fear and second guessing and people pleasing and not enough or too much just keeps you in a cage of your own creation. You are allowed be who you are.

We are approaching Winter in New York City. What are foods or practices to maintain a healthy mind and body? What about folks in warm weather during the Winter season?

You are always healthiest when you are in rhythm with the seasons. You can look to nature for cues.  Root vegetables are in season right now and they require cooking methods that add a lot of warmth to the body. You will want to slow cook, crock-pot, roast, simmer, and stew this season. No raw foods or iced drinks. The body has to work twice as hard when it is battling the elements so it’s time to get more sleep and conserve your energy.  Many people feel that something is wrong because they are less energetic during this time. This is correct for the season. This is hibernation time and the practice is to slow down and tune in. The energy goes down and in and turns introspective. The trees are shedding their leaves and asking us what we need to let go of.

If you are in warmer weather during the Winter, the energy will still feel the same. You will tend to need a little more sleep and may feel drawn within.

erin JBD 5

What will never go out of style?

Truth.

What is the wisest universal advisor?

Your own heart.

Do you have a teacher that stands out in the crowd?

My teacher David Elliot has enabled me to find my courage in my expression, to begin to sing a bit more, to feel safe and accepted in expressing my pain, and to feel comfortable taking up more space. He has helped me deepen my intuition and trust myself more in my practice. He is humble, wise and warm.

What does healing mean to you?

Coming back to yourself. Remembering who you are. Feeling whole. Dropping a story that has kept you stuck. Making peace with your life and your relationships.

Give us some pieces of wondrous wisdom you’ve learned in this life?

Don’t wait to start living your life. It’s happening right now so don’t wait for it or save it up for later.  We never know how much later we will have. You are the only person who needs to give you permission to do what you want. You are allowed because you are here.

Light always accompanies dark. Even when you are suffering your greatest pain, look for the gold. It never fails. This is life alchemy.

Images: c/o Erin Telford. Note: This interview has been condensed and edited.

JBD’ers… to learn more from Erin, check out her blog or follow her inspirational Instagram feed. And: give yourself the gift of healing by clicking right here.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Resort

Globe trotters unite. Have you heard of the Maldives Island Resort of Gili Lankanfushi? This 5-star resort is set on the private tropical island of Lankanfushi in the Malé Atoll, one of the 19 atolls that stretch over 800 kilometers through the Indian Ocean. It is one of the 1190 islands that make up the Maldives. This particular coral island is in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties threading across the gleaming water. Now is as good a time as any to slow down, appreciate the abounding marine life and wholeheartedly embrace their mantra of: “No News, No Shoes.”  Sign me up!

Aerial_View_2

Dhoni_2

Water_Hammock_3

Bedroom

Villa_1

Crusoe_Residence_1

Images via Maldives Resort: Gili Lankanfushi

St. Helena, California

JBD NAPA 8

I walked along a sunshine trail. That kind of path one falls upon, easily and joyfully, with light wind at your back and warmth all around. St. Helena is an in-the-moment kind of place. One with exquisite weather, abundance of nature and where wine tastings abound.

JBD NAPA 5

I recommend wandering over to Whitehall Lane Winery. This family-owned Napa Valley outpost offers tastings of their finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Reserve wine. Our effervescent host, Chandler, took his time by sharing tidbits of Whitehall’s history, answering our questions and ultimately turning a usual Cab drinker (me) into a bonafide fan of Whitehall Lane’s Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc.

JBD NAPA 1

JBD NAPA 2

JBD NAPA 4

Throughout our day in a piece of paradise, among barrels of French and American oak, we learned all sorts of new wine facts. One diddy stood out for its fun name, Brix. This measurement of the sugar content of grapes is the degree of the grapes’ ripeness at harvest. Most table-wine grapes are harvested at between 21 and 25 Brix. Wine and science, how can you go wrong? You can’t! A day spent in St. Helena is a day well spent.

JBD NAPA 6

JBD NAPA 7

Image Credits: Jenny Graham

Seattle Art Museum: “City Dwellers”

Experiencing life in Bali inspired me to discover Hindu mythology. As a result, I’ve gone down a path of knowledge of all things India. Along the way I learned about the Seattle Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India. Sculptures and photography by contemporary Indian artists capture an array of diverse ideas within Bollywood movie culture, politics and religious traditions. The exhibition is a tribute to the influences on Indian society and many works are shaped by popular movie culture and the use of digital technology by the conventions of religious ritual and street processions, traditional theater and dance.

City_Dwellers

I have never been to Seattle, so this is yet another reason I am going to get myself there between August 30th and mid-February while the colorful, contradictory and complex India shines a light.

Image via Seattle Art Museum

Snapshots from Sausalito

sausalito JBD 4

sausalito JBD 2

sausalito JBD 1

sausalito JBD 3

sausalito JBD 5

I spent part of this past weekend in Sausalito, just a 25 minute ferry ride from San Francisco. It is a place of real energy, where you can feel the high vibes of people living out their destiny. Some day I’ll be back for something more than a simple sojourn…but today I am here to share with you, to suggest you skip on over to Sausalito as soon as possible.

Image Credits: Jenny Graham

Urban Cowboy

urban cowboy 4

Home on the range…in New York City. Urban Cowboy is a luxury bed and breakfast townhouse and Adirondack style cabin in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg ‘hood. Four bedrooms, a spacious open kitchen, pot belly stoves, and beautifully exposed brick await you.

urban cowboy 6

In the backyard you’ll spy the cabin, which boasts an eight person hot tub as well as an outdoor sitting area. The Cowboy behind the creation is Lyon Porter. He bought the place and transformed it into the authentic, engaging oasis that it is today. 

urban cowboy 5

Your options begin with The Dream Catcher at $100 a night to the entire B&B for $2,000 a night. Giddy up!

urban cowboy 3

urban cowboy 1

Images via Urban Cowboy

 

Santorini, Greece

A few years ago I spent part of the Fall into Winter season in Santorini with three of my most cherished friends. I blogged a bit about it, but fell into a fountain of memories this week after coming across a file of photos, from a real camera, no less! The power of color and nature are captured in these snapshots from a balcony by the sea.

214

213

201

274

354

350

348

Image Credits: Jenny Graham

The Graham & Co.

the graham and co

This naturally caught my eye as my last name is Graham. I clicked and looked and now I am hooked. The Graham & Co. is a hip and luxurious hideaway hotel in the Catskills, a two and a half hour drive from New York City. The founders are a group of creatives from Brooklyn who revamped an old motel into a design lover’s oasis.

graham stoolsClean lines and simple, smart details make up the beautiful rooms. Amenities are reminiscent of summer camp with free bikes, campfires, tubes in a pool and 80’s inspired lounge chairs. The Graham & Co. knows the recipe of fun.

graham bedroom

graham fan

graham pool 1

graham fire

Let’s all wash away our work week with this affordable, hip gateway to playtime. Hey, they even give you a beer upon check-in. Cheers!

graham shampoo

Images via The Graham & Co.