Monthly Archives: November 2011

December Happenings


Mandala Reflections provides space for thought, dialogue, learning and community that involves ourselves but also includes the collective experience. While a blog can offer a lot to some people, a lot of us need to experience something in “real life” to reap the full benefits. With that said, each month, Mandala Reflections provides a list of various happenings occurring in the Twin Cities Metro community that contribute to Mandala Reflections’ ongoing discussion about life, health and wellness and how it relates to our stories. Please send me an email prior to the 1st of each month if you have a wellness event you would like to share.

This month is a little light on wellness events, likely due to the widely celebrated Christmas holiday. Therefore I included some Christmas-related events if you feel inspired to participate.  Stay tuned for a surge of health events happening next January.

Listing of events does not indicate endorsement by Mandala Reflections.

Day Time Events: Convince your boss you need a few hours off of work for personal development or better yet, ask to be paid for it!

Thursday, December 1, 9-10:30am, Location: Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. South, Minneapolis, World AIDS Day/30 Years of AIDS Breakfast, in honor of World AIDS Day and to acknowledge 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, dialogue and eat with Intermedia Arts’ artist-in-residence Robert Farid Karimi (also known as “Mero Cocinero”) and facilitator Sandy Agustin. Cost: FREE.  Attendees are welcome to bring what they can to share, but food will be provided. For more information, contact Sandy Agustin at (612) 871-4444 or e-mail: For a complete listing of World AIDS day events check out the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

Friday, December 2, 8-11am, Location: Hope Community, 611 Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, “The Role of Ritual and Ceremony in the Healing Process,” a Backyard Initiative Community Forum. Come engage in discussion and self-study and surface how rituals and ceremonies affect healing and resiliency. Agenda will include Dakota Cultural Elders discussing rituals and ceremonies and a dialogue addressing how cultural groups ritualize their ways of healing. A complimentary breakfast will be served at 8am. Cost: FREE. Please RSVP to the Cultural Wellness Center at (612) 721-5745.

Evening Events:

Thursday, December 1, 6-9pm, Location: Capri Theatre, 2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis, Second Annual Sarah Simmons Showcase, sponsored by Turning Point, Inc., Macedonia Baptist Church, Community Fitness Today and the Minnesota African/African American Women HIV Initiative (MAAAH). In observance of World AIDS Day and in memory of local AIDS advocate Sarah Simmons, an open mike forum and on-stage performances will be held to highlight the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on the local African and African American communities. Local performing artists including rappers, dancers, singers, storytellers and poets will express their personal stories through their performances. Free HIV screening and refreshments will be provided throughout the event. For more information and performance/open mike sign-up, contact Sandy Johnson, MAAAH, (651) 201-4019, or Woodrow Jefferson, Turning Point, (612) 520-4004, For a complete listing of World AIDS day events check out the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

Thursday, December 1, 7pm, Location: Riverview Theatre, 3800 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, We Were Here, sponsored by the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) and Clare Housing, We Were Here is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. It explores how the City’s inhabitants were affected by, and how they responded to, that calamitous epidemic. It speaks to our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.” Click here to watch the trailer: Cost: $3 at the door (cash only). For more information, contact Kate Nelson, MAP, 612-373-9162, or by e-mail at: For a complete listing of World AIDS day events check out the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

Tuesday, December 6, 7-9pm, Location: The Basilica of Saint Mary, 88 North 17th Street, Minneapolis,  “The Encouragement Factor: The vital component in a life of achievement and purpose…The key to unlocking the champion in you!workshop given by Denny Stockdale, local personal coach, motivational speaker and positive change strategist. Cost: FREE.  Registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Janet Grove at at email or call 612-317-3508.

Thursday, December 8, 6:30-8pm, Location: WellWithin (Woodbury Office Plaza, 1811 Weir Drive, Ste. 230, Woodbury, “Eating foods for healing,” facilitated by Jerri Johnson, Certified Homeopath. “Appreciate the importance of  your consumption of food, your connection to its source and  how foods contribute to your health and vitality. Learn the tools to evaluate your diet and how you can make changes that will help your body to heal and balance itself.” Cost: $15. To register, call or email by Monday, December 5. For registration contact info and more events, see WellWithin website.

Monday, December 19, 6:30pm (doors open), 7pm (conversation starts), Location: Saint Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Ave., Saint Paul, Interfaith Conversation Café, Conversation Cafés are lively hosted conversations among small groups of people with diverse views and a shared passion for engaging with others in meaningful conversation – “BIG talk”. Cost: There is a free will offering to cover coffee, tea and refreshments. Please bring your own mug and a friend. For more information contact Joan at:

Weekend Events:

Friday, December 2, 6pm-bar close, Location: 16 North 6th St., Downtown Minneapolis, 12 Bars of Christmas, Feeling festive and want to drink and be merry with a lot of people? The 12 Bars of Christmas (now expanded to 14 this year) is a pub crawl in Minneapolis that benefits the Minneapolis and St. Paul Children’s Hospitals. Buy a 12 Bars of Christmas t-shirt and enjoy drink specials as the crawl visits bars around downtown Minneapolis in the company of about 3,000 others. For more information about this event or to buy a t-shirt, check out the official website.

Friday, December 2: 3-8pm, Saturday December 3: 9am-5pm, Location: Midtown Global Market, Lake Street and 10th Avenue, Minneapolis, for new visitors to this lovely market, see Parking InstructionsNo Coast Craft o Rama is a craft event that “features a variety of designers, artists, crafters and other talented creators of unique handmade goods.” Come shop for ideas or purchase locally made gifts. Since the Current has featured this event, it has proved to be quite busy. If you can manage I would try to check it out early Friday evening, but I cannot guarantee it won’t be busy. With the revitalization of the DIY-er crowd, you might want to avoid this event if you have an aversion to crowds and shop Etsy for hassle-free locally made goodies. If you are fine with the crazy (or may be one of them), this event would be worth checking out. Cost: FREE.

Saturday, December 3, 11am-3pm, Location: Wildlife Science Center, 5463 W Broadway Ave, Columbus, MN 55025, Howl-iday Open House, The Wildlife Science Center aims to inspire relationships with the wild. They invite you to peruse their unique selection of “photographic art, crafts, jewelry, books, toys and decorative housewares in the relaxed atmosphere of our education building. Delight everyone on your gift list by showing your support for the Wildlife Science Center and their resident wildlife.  Santa will be there for photo opportunities, so if you are into that bring your camera. Cost: FREE–a special howl-iday gift to you! For more information call (651) 464-3993 or email:

Saturday, December 10, 10am-5pm, Location: Midtown YWCA, 2121 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 19th Annual Women’s Art Festival. Cost: FREE. Open to all. Come and support local women artists. For full details about this fun, inspirational and community building event, visit their web page.

Saturday, December 10 or Saturday, December 17, 10am,  Location: Gammelgården Museum, 20880 Olinda Trail, Scandia, Annie’s Swedish Coffee Parties, Meet Annie, longest resident of Scandia’s Gammelgården – “small farm.” Treat yourself to a traditional 3-course coffee party and learn about life in Minnesota as a Swedish immigrant. Find out about Swedish history and culture. Also, visit the Scandia Butik to find wonderful Scandinavian gifts. Cost: $10. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 651-433-5053.

Sunday, December 11, 4pm, 5:30pm, 8:15pm, Location: Central Pacific Depot, 500 E. 2nd St., Hastings (4pm), West Point Douglas Road, south of Seiben Bridge in front of the Youth Service Bureau, Cottage Grove (5:30pm) , Central Pacific Shoreham Yard, 2800 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis (8:15pm), Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Show, the holiday train will chug through town making stops along the way to entertain the community and collect items for local food shelves (Hastings Family Service, The Friends in Need Food Shelf and East Side Neighborhood Services). Over the past 12 years, the railroad has helped raise about $5.6 million and 2.5 million pounds of food.  The train will start its show 10 minutes after it makes its 3 stops. Cost: Perishable food or monetary donation.

For more holiday events near you check out Explore Minnesota’s Event’s page.

Human Connection: The Power of Vulnerability


On behalf of the Thanksgiving holiday (for those that celebrate) many health experts are featuring topics about the power of gratitude or providing tips on how to avoid a food coma. Mandala Reflections already focused on gratitude in the Mary Oliver and Maya Angelou post but wanted to provide some more food for thought this week. Unfortunately, Mandala Reflections will not be posting about what foods to avoid this holiday. So you got lucky! Enjoy your meal(s).

What Mandala Reflections will do is challenge you to not avoid something this holiday, and that something would be your feelings and your vulnerabilities. Now before you shut down and disregard this post, because many of us have the tendency to cringe when we have to talk about our feelings,  please do take 20 minutes to watch and enjoy this humorous, smart and thought-provoking TEDtalk video that may change the way you think about your feelings and the way you think about yourself and the world.

The ability to connect with ourselves and others is definitely something we think about during the holidays, and this human connection does truly affect our health and our lives. While you sit on the couch or bar stool this holiday, reflecting or not reflecting, with or without family and friends, this video offers a legitimate challenge for us all, and that message you will just have to wait and find out by watching the video for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Winter Skin Care–Tips for Combating Dryness


For those residing in the Midwest, the season of dry skin has arrived.  For some of you it starts with the cracking of the fingers, for others its just a chalky feeling on the skin, or maybe your face peels or maybe it’s all of the above. Usually I accept the uncomfortable feeling, but this year, I wanted to learn more about prevention. I phoned long-time friend, now esthetician, Kate Walsh and asked for some general winter skin care tips. She was happy to oblige. We had a great talk and as conversations about health usually unfold, Kate noted the topic of skin care isn’t that simple or isolated, and her tips soon escalated to be far more complex and organic than the paint by numbers blog I envisioned to write for you.

Therefore, this blog attempts to provide some helpful hints and general information that may inspire you to take some action to do your own personal research on what your skin needs the most this season. What I am sharing works for Kate’s skin and from her experiences and may not apply to your own, as we all have different skin types. I hope you can find at least one useful hint to take from the list that will help your skin (and self) find some relief this dry season.

Absolute Winter Skin Care Don’ts:

  • Despite the cold, do NOT take too hot of a shower or you will dehydrate your skin even more, pulling out moisture.
  •  Never buy an exfoliator by St. Ive’s because they are made of materials that can tear your skin on a microscopic level which is not the purpose of an exfoliator. Kate recommends beaded exfoliators.
  •  Don’t go out in the cold without protecting your skin! That means DO wear appropriate clothing that covers your skin.                                                                                                       

Healing Cracked Fingers

Lanolin. Lanolin comes from wool-bearing animals and is used in a variety of ways, from breaking in baseball gloves to soothing soreness that results from breastfeeding. Because some forms of lanolin have traces of pesticides, Kate recommends using the lanolin that is specifically made for breastfeeding mothers, as this type of lanolin is natural and safe. Kate recommends putting lanolin on before bed, and for a heightened effect, to wear mittens to hold the moisture in longer. Kate also wanted me to assure you, that her surly, bearded, Minnesotan father uses lanolin on his cracked fingers, and it works. So, men, when you are packing your flannel for your next ice fishing trip, don’t be shy to bring your bottle of lanolin. Also, make sure you bring enough to share with your buddies, because you know they will want some!

For Chapped Lips

Vasoline. The only place on her body that Kate still uses Vasoline is her lips. She finds it to help a lot and that the risks associated with the petroleum-based jelly are small enough to outweigh the benefits of her chapped-free lips. She also recommends making an easy and light exfoliating sugar scrub with raw sugar and honey to help the chapping.

For Dry Bodies

Olive oil, Kukui oil (Hawaiian), walnut oil, jojoba oil. Due to expenses, Kate uses olive oil on her body from the neck down. She finds this to be the best product for her skin and she likes how fast it absorbs. Light cooking oil really traps in moisture and the best time to put it on is after a shower when your body’s pores are open and ready to take in moisture. Because oils will trap moisture in, they are not ideal for use on the face.

For Dry Faces

Exfoliation- Make sure you do not over-exfoliate, in fact, some people may want to stop exfoliating all winter due to dryness. In the dry season, exfoliation can make your face even more sensitive. Kate recommends exfoliating once a week during this season unless your skin is really dry. Kate also recommends that men exfoliate before they shave. If you shave every day and have dry skin then you can exfoliate every three days or as needed. She recommends any Jack Black product from Sephora for men. While men might feel weird going into the store, Kate assures that your skin will thank you, and people will start to notice changes. A former client who happened to be a marine, started using some of these products and started taking care of his skin; suddenly people were approaching him asking him about why he looked so different. Apparently he just stopped using the wash cloth and bar of soap method and started exfoliating and moisturizing properly.

Cleanser- During the winter, find a cleanser for your face that has a moisturizer in it. If your skin is too oily then use a cleanser without moisturizer. Kate likes to switch hers up. Right now she is using a cleanser from Peter Thomas Roth’s clinical skin care line.

Washing in general- Do not over-wash your face. At most, wash twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Some days you may only need to wash with lukewarm water. Listen to your skin.

Moisturizer- To moisturize dry skin, find a creme (which has oil in it); if your skin is too oily, use a lotion (without oil). Some people may find they can use a creme in the winter because their skin is so dry. Kate’s favorite moisturizing product line is Avalon Organic’s Vitamin C products. She likes this line because it is packed with vitamins and nutrients and it is organic.

Other Variables Affecting Your Skin

Ultimately Kate believes that we heal from the inside out. She said, “there’s a lot you can do on the outside to manipulate your skin, but there are intrinsic factors that are just important to address.” She mentioned how genetics, diet, habits (smoking or exercise) and stress all really impact our skin. She recommended finding ways to reduce stress as part of a skin care plan and emphasized a good diet with exercise. As much as people do not like to commit to this aspect of skin care, eating healthy, drinking lots of water and exercising will do wonders for your skin.

Want more information?

Interested in learning more about skin care and skin care products? Kate recommends following dermatologist, Nicholas Perricone‘s work, and if you can splurge, she finds his products to be very effective. Also, if you are really excited about skin care, Kate went to Makana Esthetics Wellness Academy and loved her experience. If you want to look deeper at skin care and potentially start a new career, check out an Esthetician program near you.

Feel overwhelmed by it all but still want healthier skin?

Well that’s no problem. Kate recommends that everyone finds a local esthetician and schedules monthly appointments. Estheticians are trained to understand your skin, and they are excited to help you create a proper care plan that is unique to your skin’s properties and that is preventative. They do a lot of the work for you by motivating you, pampering you and giving you the tools to do it yourself. Unlike dermatologists, everyone can see an esthetician, and everyone can benefit from seeing one.  As Kate mentioned, our skin is the biggest organ and it eliminates toxins from our bodies.  If our skin is not at it’s best, it will not be able to rid our body of toxins properly which can lead to various diseases and cancers that are otherwise preventable through proper care of our skin and ourselves.

That’s all great, but I can’t afford it.

  • For the next holiday or birthday you have coming up, ask for a gift certificate to see an esthetician.
  • Find a student who is in training where you can get a discounted price.
  • Look into the hour dollars service exchange program for an esthetician to exchange services with–or be bold, just ask an esthetician if it would be possible to accept some hours of your time for their service. Be creative.
  • Otherwise, maybe it’s time to add this service into your budget. If you find that the preventative measures and the feeling you have with healthy skin are worth it, then make sure your dollars reflect it’s importance.

If you liked this post, have suggestions for other skin care topics or skin care questions, please let me know, as Kate may continue to contribute skin tips for this blog.