Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

  • Spa Style & Self Care Reflections, Rituals and Resources for Joyful Living

     photo Bloglovin_zps72269c6c.png

  • About Spanista

    Ginny Shiverdecker, Creator of Spanista is Spa Wellness Enthusiast, Adventurer Seeker and Brand Builder.
    Ginny is……Read more


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Good News Monday: Neurological Response to Stress Triggers Candy Brain indicates there maybe something to the rom-com cliché of the jilted lover eating ice cream directly out of the carton. Gretchen Reynolds a regular contributor to ‘Well’ the New York Times personal health and wellness site shares her perspective in her article ‘Candy Brain, The pressures of life may change your neurological response to the foods you’re trying to avoid.’  So how is this good news? Well lets did a little deeper. See the Candy Brain in The New York Times Magazine from Sunday, August 23, 2015.

Spanista advocates the importance of recognizing our personal pressures by proactively monitoring and managing our stress load through Self Care Practices. As indicated in my previous postings and now again revealed in this article based upon findings from the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zürich, it is essential to consider the impact of stress which is linked to a variety of health problems including weight gain. The overriding theme of the article explores asking the question –  ‘Why do we reach for something sweet to quench our woes so often when we are faced with stressful situations?’

For Spanista followers I am most interested in exploring the aspect of Self Care as it relates to this condition – understanding the way we are wired in our brains so that we can create personal strategies to better cope in this complex world of influences.


Here are two important findings based upon a robust study:

  1. Being exposed to even mild stress the tested group was far more likely to choose unhealthy but tasty foods than those in the control group.
  2. And the greater the stress  – as determined by cortisol levels – the greater the attraction to rich, palatable snacks. Interestingly the parts of the brain that creates desire for these foods increased in desire while another part of the brain declined –  the focus on long-range planning.

Good News Monday: Neurological Response to Stress Triggers Candy Brain seems to indicate in  stressful circumstances we focus on in the moment gratification and forget about the future – we need to offset the pain points.  To Spanista knowing this offers insight to create a personal and thoughtful Self Care strategy that works for you.

Unfortunately the end of the article treated this aspect less than adequately….no resolve to consider – just will power to overcome sweets. Rather trite really. Spanista believes one needs to take a step back to see the big picture – evaluate the entire experience to see how you are coping with these situations – what are the trigger points to your stress – and can you see patterns of reactionary behaviour that are no productive for you? Take an objective view – you may see opportunities for adjustments you can make up-stream before you even get to reaching for the office donut pool. But even  if you find your self reaching for it – you may stop now out of knowledge of why you are doing it.

Either way Spanista feels you are ahead of the game. I know I am.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


Back to TopEmail PostTweet PostSubscribe


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Into Africa Day 5: Spanista Tours Askikuma’s First Abod Medical Clinic at the days start filling me with hope for mankind moving into the future. This Clinic is a humble start but ever so much more than existed a couple of years ago which was nothing. There are so many children here who go without basic health care. What is really worrisome is the children and women who live on what I call the fringe here are at risk and there are many of them. They are plagued by more than unwelcome disease, they live in the shadows of something just as threatening and that is deep rooted beliefs in voodo curses and the witch doctors potions. Seeding the positive effects of medicine and health care providers and hospitals require a mindset shift that is not easy to overcome.

The good news is there has been progress in this poor land for educated midwifery. Right now the common practice is for babies to be born in the home. Of course given the floors are mud and there is only cold water from the shared wells the conditions are not the most sanitary. Fortunately, the tribal leaders blessed the idea of a medical clinic for the purpose of protecting their future generations.


The Asikuma Medical Clinic had a very slow start until a devoted couple Doug & Dawn Vander Weide came to register the families for health care – and eventually there came a government health care insurance that pays for many treatments now. That has encouraged the locals to seek treatment from a very capable nurse who works 6 days a week at the facility. She indicated in the month of July they treated 131 patients. A very positive trend indeed compared to a couple of months ago. There are many stories of children who go without treatment only to become handicapped in some way for life – one child lost site in one eye with out proper care and another had to have his leg amputated and almost died. Because he was finally taken to hospital he is alive today. These are true stories of children with Moms’ and Dad’s who do not know any better than their tribal ways. Ghana is just beginning to wake up to the possibilities of brighter days ahead for its people.

A wonderful addition the the Clinic is the new AbodShelter Birthing Wards. They appear modern and forward looking as you arrive at the clinic. Clean and equipped with the basics along with a proper sink area with running water at hand that can be properly heated means sterilization is possible. This is huge leap forward here. The two buildings stand end to end. Together they can hold four pregnant women in labor. This experience offers the expecting Mother a great deal of privacy as well for herself and her baby.  A far better way to come into the world for a little angel. Hopefully this fresh atmosphere bodes well for the littles ones future who come into the world here. Even the little goats who graze the neighborhood are curious to see the new arrivals. Could not resist taking a pic to share with you. They are roaming everywhere here and a main source of edible protein.


Into Africa Day 5: Spanista Tours Askikuma’s First Abod Medical Clinic is wonderful to see. Once again, it puts me on my knees with humility and gratitude for the many advancements we have in the developed world. This is a basic step forward but a good one. It is rewarding to see the AbodShelters being adapted in so many useful ways especially because it can be built in a day and lasts a lifetime and beyond. So much more can be done for people requiring a proper modern, sustainable structure that is so affordable.

It is only limited by the imagination – that is why our Foundation is now looking toward building The AbodShelters Village of The Future. Won’t you help me spread the word? Please join me later this week for another chapter of AbodShelters African Adventure.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


Back to TopEmail PostTweet PostSubscribe


Dear Wellness Seekers,

NY Times Travel Trend: Hotels Wooing Guests With Music in surprising places is a turn toward a deeper understanding of power of music to soothe the savage beast but at another level – that of live performance. It is refreshing to see the humanity in music be celebrated especially because we are saturated with artificial feeds on every technology device accessible.

This Spanista Travel Diary Self Care tip offers anyone who is traveling for work or for pleasure this can be the Olive in the Martini. Seek some down time to enjoy these enhancements weather over cocktail meeting or Spa time. Just these few moments of Self Care – really relaxing on the property as it is designed for your comfort and the staff enjoy caring for you. Too many times a was ‘too busy’ to enjoy it with regrets. So RELAX A BIT  – it will stimulate your creativity.

Nothing can replace the emotional impact of a performance of musical artists – yes indeed Spanista views them as artists especially the intimacy it creates in outside of typical venues like theaters, stadiums and the like. Well, it is ever so pleasant!

I could not find the link in the Sunday Travel Times to share with you so I will highlight three of  enlightened locations so as you travel in the future you will be sure to take the opportunity to enjoy the special experience. It is worth your time. Two of the places mentioned I have been a guest at personally so I can surely can recommend them first hand. Check out the photo above in Cabos!

1. Cornelia Spa at the Surrey Hotel in New York City has a violinist playing classical music in the Relaxation Library of its spa on select dates throughout the year. And to enhance your enjoyment the performer also takes requests. This Spa is a favorite of mine. I plan on spending quality time here on my next visit to New York. Cafe Boulud which is right there pays homage to New York’s Cafe Society is a fabulous choice for its food, ambiance and people watching not to mention fabulous food.

2. Amelia Island, Florida’s Ritz Carlton has two acoustic guitarists, Richard Stratton and Alex Affronti, paying weekend evenings on its club level. strumming by the fireplace, they sing pop songs from the ’70’s and 80’s. This is one of my favorite retreats near Jacksonville and the America’s oldest City, St. Augustine.

3. Jumeirah Carlton Tower London, a harpist plays in the lobby, but instead of the expected classical music, she entertains her audience with hits from Beyonce and other billboard top 100 artists. I have yet to visit this Hotel but have heard very good things about it and have it on my list.

NY Times Travel Trend: Hotels Wooing Guests With Music is great for travelers who deserve to be welcomed by something beyond the typical especially in luxury hotels that want the experience to be distinctive, enjoyable and memorable as a cut above – clearly different for the right reasons – striking a positive emotional chord. Spanista says thumbs up.

Comes back tomorrow to see the next Chapter of my AbodShelters humanitarian to Asikuma in Ghana, Africa.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


Back to TopEmail PostTweet PostSubscribe


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Into Africa Day 4 Kingdom Cares Orphanage & School Asikuma Ghana is a soul wrenching way to start the day Asikuma Ghana.  After a quick cup of tea we skip breakfast to get down the road for a tour and introductions at Kingdom Cares International Mission Central for Ghana.

Doug hops on his motorcycle and tells me to hop on back. It is definitely an unexpected highlight for me to be back on a cycle again – especially on a dirt bike because I am most familiar with large-scale street bikes. I could feel more adrenalin flow (as I am already a heart pumping level just by being here in unfamiliar territory). I road when I was in college with guy friends and then again with my husband Bob when we felt the need to be free-spirited with wind in our hair – it’s a feeling only riding a motorcycle can do for your psyche.


We head off on the mud streets of Asikuma and see all types of women and men setting up their stores for today’s trading – food, fruit, machetes, clothing, shoes, mobile phones and even coffins! Soon we arrive at the Mission Center. As ride up to the school I calibrate my mind to take it all in knowing this could get emotional. Doug wants me to meet Wisdom who is the Director of the Center and Comfort who is the House-mother of all the children who are orphans living under their watchful eye.

The main building is sturdy and purposeful having been designed and staged by Chris a very experienced home builder in Des Moines who donates his time to Kingdom Cares with Doug. The children come running to meet us. They recognize Doug immediately – he is clearly a hero here. Upon entering the center with Wisdom one can see it is already overcrowded. It houses all ages of children – babies to teens, the adult care takers and the volunteers who come for periods of time. Two gals in their late twenties – one from Britain and one from the Balkans are spending their summer their helping to care for the children. More housing space is clearly needed. I begin to see Doug’s vision for creating the AbodShelters Village of the Future here. We could easily populate the open space into a community surrounding the school and orphanage. It would provide secure, comfortable, private homes that would last for a lifetime.


Children emerge from various directions. All look bright and eager in the uniforms the school provides when a child is formally register are arriving at the open air school to start their day of learning with the teachers. Many are from the villages near by who cannot afford public schooling. This are humble classrooms as you will ever see. Yet, you can feel the hope and the eagerness to learn. It is clear the Kingdom Cares Team is laying the right groundwork to help the children take steps toward a brighter future through disciplines and structure. My Self Care DNA kicks into high gear here. I hold back my instincts to help empower these children on the spot to take charge and not be victims of their circumstances This will have to wait until a more appropriate time.

In the Orphanage are the very little ones – happily there are strong connections between the people of Kingdom Cares International in Des Moines, Iowa as these twins are being adopted by a couple who are coming to pick them up on Saturday and take them to their new howe in the US.  I learn this is a really positive outcome of the orphanage – several children have been adopted by caring parents in the Des Moines area. These babies deserve a healthy home to thrive. Thank God for the enlightened.Into-Africa-Day-4-Kingdom-Cares-Orphanage-5.jpegPINIMAGEInto-Africa-Day-4-Kingdom-Cares-Orphanage-1.jpegPINIMAGEInto-Africa-Day-4-Kingdom-Cares-Orphanage-11.jpegPINIMAGE

Into Africa Day 4 Kingdom Cares Orphanage & School Asikuma Ghana puts the spotlight on one experience in a vast continent where the needs here are great.  In this village at one orphanage, you can see that wash day at the school is a huge chore. One is as resourceful as needed to get any job done with the basics at hand. Doug tells me they recently provided money to buy a washing machine and are happily anticipating its arrival. Amen to that!

After I hear the story of The Mission Center and what is needed to help them progress to help the children, Doug and I jump back on the bike to head to the Fish Farm. While we ride our conversation turns to the reality of effecting positive change. We focus on the opportunity. The beauty is there is land available at the Kingdom Cares Mission Center for building an AbodShelters Village of the Future, which is usually the challenge in Africa.  Now we need to put the planning wheels in motion but first we have to complete the first floating AbodShelter on the water.  We down the road and stop for a Ghana pastry for a quick breakfast on the fly and take some back t the team. Yummm. If I only had a a Starbucks right now.

Join Spanista tomorrow to experience more from my humanitarian trip to Ghana, Africa.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,



Back to TopEmail PostTweet PostSubscribe


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Into Africa Day 3 Hard Work for Humanity Brings Many Rewards is my personal story of the power of time devoted to honest sweat and toil that feels so solid and right. On this trip to Asikuma, Ghana it’s about building a family a sustainable home they can call their own with your own hands. Giving someone a sustainable space that shelters them from the elements so they can focus their lives to making a living that raises their quality of life rather than worry about where they will sleep night after night. The rewards double with opportunity to build AbodShelter micro houses with a team of diverse people – It bonds you in ways that are indescribable.

We woke on Day 3 with the sunrise thanks to hotel rooster outside our windows claiming his territory in the garden courtyard – his robust crow once again brought memories of my childhood on my grandparents farm in green pastures of Wisconsin. This sunrise would take us to Lake Volta again with the quest of building the first floating AbodShelter in Africa or anywhere for that matter – another dream come true for our Foundation as we seek the transform housing for the neediest families in the developing world.


Yesterday we build the floating platform raft with the right design framework, labor skill and creative ingenuity it came together. Today we need to get it on the water and build the Abod on it. Exciting! The sky offers a full sun with no clouds in site so being on the water was like working on a tanning bed all day.  Very hot and sweaty with the hard physical work involved – we hydrate all we can and press on with dedicated intensity.

This is all hands on deck with a ‘problem solve as you go’ mindset. You need to be ready for anything because Murphy’s Law will emerge at anytime. Here are the challenges;

Step 1:  How to get the steel platform down the cliff and floating on the water?  See the pics and video.  Anything we needed meant climbing 50 steps up and down to reach the storage building. Thank goodness we are all in reasonable shape to do it even me!


Step 2:  How do you recover a major piece of the platform after it gets bumped? When one works with people who have not done this kind of work before one unexpected move can change everything. One of the heavy metal platform plates was bumped off the platform only to slip into the bottom of the lake. Doug dived to find it but the lake waters difficult to see through. We had to call in a local diver with an air tank and hose to stay under water. We had to go to another village to find him but we was happy to have the work. It took him a solid hour to scan the lakes bottom and turned up victorious – he brought up the plate and saved the day.


Step 3:  How to build a house on a platform that bounces with every foot step we make? We took it one step at a time – first the frame, then the interior, then the side panels with the windows and then the exterior insulation wrap and the exterior cladding frame. We organized the materials, and I championed a work process for each major step, Doug and Jacques led the building process – with Leslie doing  hard-core metal work that required expertise to install like the windows and door.


Given it is Winter in Ghana, dusk came upon us early yet the setting of the sun  was stunning – the AbodShelter structure is completed in one day. The setting sun offered a beautiful setting for the featured pic that leads this post. We headed for the tro tro – climbing our last hill for the night. Sweaty, thirsty for something more than water, hungry and exhausted we take the bumpy, dusty road back to the hotel with African music blaring along the way while African laughter fills the bus.


Into Africa Day 3 Hard Work for Humanity Brings Many Rewards as I take stock of what we accomplished today as we navigated the challenges I feel humbled in so many ways – Spanista is compelled to pray silently on the way home counting my blessings as I compare the world I am working in this week to the world I live in America. I realize as we bounce around the lifestyle difference are so extreme it brings ones emotions to the surface. I turn away from  the guys to look out the windows as tears stream down my face. By the time we get to hotel a new kind of understanding takes hold of my heart – it’s a deeper level of compassion and a resolve to do what I can to push forward to expand AbodShelters for the people for Africa in partnership with my friends. Arriving at the Hotel I snap out of it – Cold shower, tilapia and rice dinner and good conversation with my new friends will bring about a great nights sleep dreaming about this little guy who will now have a secure home unlike any other – he deserves it.

Tomorrow we take on the next level of the AbodShelters build project – come by to see what new Spanista discovers on Day 4, won’t you?

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


Back to TopEmail PostTweet PostSubscribe
  • Kathleen - My dear friend,
    This is absolutely awesome! I can only imagine the emotional ride back to your hotel that night. What extreme differences in these two parts of the world. It makes me cry. Thank you for sharing all this. It’s a real eye opener.

    • gshiver - Dear Kath,
      It is so good of you to reach out. Yes, the extreme change from our comforts here in the US is difficult to comprehend. I am just now landing on my feet again after whirling emotionally form the experience. There is so much to do to support people in the vast world – especially in Africa. I will return so there will be more chapters to share. More coming then. Thanks for being a Spanista – Please share with your friends too.