Category Archives: Women’s Health

My Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions

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(Flowers from past weekend, photo courtesy of K. Higgins)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a women’s retreat. Six women, some strangers, all coming together to be in circle, supporting one another in our life journeys. I feel so blessed to have kicked off my New Year this way, sitting in reflection with such intelligent and spiritually savvy mirrors. The experience was a perfect way to slow down and to begin living out and defining my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions.

1) Don’t do community, Be communityCommunity has always meant a lot to me, and it continues to get more important as I age. I look forward to spending quality time with my tribe this year. Quality over quantity. I may not be around as much, but I pledge to be present when I am with people. Often my existence consists of me thinking about what I need to do next or me being tired from the last thing I just did. This year, I pledge to be with my friends and family, and therefore, only be in one place at a time. No more double-booking. When you are doing, doing, doing, you can only miss out.

2) Rest. And then rest some more. People forget that rest is an important aspect of health and wellness. I am (was?) one of those people. 2012 was a little too busy for my liking, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some sleep in the New Year! Stay tuned for a longer post on Zzzz and restoration!

3) Eat simply. My husband and I love cooking, but this year I really want to explore simple foods and make them delicious. This weekend I tasted my first, broiled cinnamon orange. So simple. A recipe we enjoyed for its health benefits but mostly for its sheer simplicity and warmth. Yum!!!!

4) See beauty in everything (including myself). True beauty is everywhere. We often fail to see it because we are bogged down by all the white noise out there. It’s time to embrace who we are and actually see the beauty that resides in ourselves. How often do you look in the mirror and think, “I look awesome?!” Maybe some of you do, but for many, the first thing our minds are drawn to is something that may be irritating. “Oh, nice chunk of spinach in my tooth. Yum.” You get the picture. If its not in the physical, many of us are waiting to approve of ourselves after we do something – get a new job, get a boyfriend, lose weight. Why not approve of who you are now and see how beautiful you are now. You are. If we can find true beauty in ourselves, we are more likely to love and accept ourselves, and therefore we will take better care of ourselves and those around us. When we take care of ourselves, love and compassion will radiate toward others. Awesome!

5) Embody movement and accept movement. I need to move my body more and recognize that all of life’s experiences are just the movement of energy. Ebbing and flowing. Up and down. And that’s that. We cannot always be up, and we will not always be down. So I need to be okay with moving in both directions. I’d like to close with a great poem that reflects this sentiment, by Lao Tzu from Tao Te Ching (a special thanks to a new friend, Ihotu, for sharing this gem).

Do you think you can take over

the universe and improve it?

I believe it cannot be done.

The universe is sacred.

You cannot improve it.

If you try to change it,

you will ruin it.

If you try to hold it, you will lose it.

So sometimes things are ahead

and sometimes they are behind;

Sometimes breathing is hard

and sometimes it comes easily.

Sometimes there is strength

and sometimes weakness;

Sometimes one is up

and sometimes down.

Therefore the sage avoids extremes,

excesses, and complacency.

If it suits you, I hope you, too, can avoid extremes, excesses, and complacency in your life, find beauty in the moments, live simply, take time for rest and relaxation, and be present with yourself and your community in 2013!

Best wishes to you and your hopes and dreams this New Year!

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Coming Home to Myself

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Fall is in full-swing and it feels like winter is just around the corner! Every year I get excited for this slow-down period. As the natural environment edges toward a scene of sparseness and simplicity, so does the calendar of events. However, I cannot say the same for what may be stirring within our household.

This autumn, my husband and I took on a 25 day whole foods detox led by a fellow holistic health studies classmate of mine, Katie Jasper. More on that to come. We are only 7 days in, but so far, the results have been wonderful. As we are home cooking and eating in community, we both feel more energized, clear-headed, and grounded. With this new excitement and clarity, we feel like we started trekking down a path together that is so important and truly rejuvenating. What really is happening is we are simply making the commitment to live a healthier, holistic life. While I can go on and on making it sound all flowery and unicorn-like, I would rather point out that plenty of the purgative experience is dealing with the “mess in the basement” that is not related to the foods we are eating.

The “mess in the basement” is the not-so-pleasant or hip or happy parts of what makes me…me. It’s the parts of myself that I know can be destructive if not handled appropriately or acknowledged. From a big picture standpoint, it’s the greater reason why people get sidetracked on the road coming home to themselves.

The detox has acted as a catalyst and plunged me right into a ritual that happens every year at this time – the practice of going inward, self-reflecting, accepting, and letting go. It is different and yet it is the same – and as the days shorten and the darkness surrounds me all over again, I continue to look forward to what I will encounter this year.

Below is an excerpt from a wonderful book, written by Marion Woodman that pairs well with this time of year and with this post. Her work is appropriately named, Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and SoulI think all people can relate to it, so I hope that this snippet inspires you to take some time to experience what it means to come home to yourself and to explore the “mess in your basement.”

Happy Fall!    

In my dream,

I was a priestess

and had prepared

the altar for great celebration.

The flowers were almost in place,

the roses almost in the center

of the sunlit altar.

(I could not make the roses fit

within the light.)

A shadow the shape of a cross came through a window.

 

An old man came to me and said,

Your hymns will never rise to heaven

until you clean up your mess in the basement.

 

But there’s no basement in this temple, I said.

That’s the problem: there is, he replied.

 

Down the rotting old steps we went

and found a slimy lagoon.

A water wheel,

joining basement to temple, lay still.

 

A huge serpent writhed,

trying and failing and trying again

to center its head on the wheel.

It knew its task was to turn the wheel–

quiet, rhythmic–with its head.

 

I tried to move the wheel towards the serpent

and it struck.

The old man pulled me out of danger,

You can’t move so fast

She doesn’t trust you.

Hasten slowly;

you will make her your friend.

 

For twenty years,

the wheel has creaked but turned;

The lagoon, fresh; 

the serpent, Sophia;

the roses, not yet in place.

 

Reflections from a New Mom

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As a prenatal yoga teacher and birth doula (in training), recently I have been surrounded by the wisdom and joy of mothers. In honor of Mother’s Day, Mandala Reflections is happy to share one mom’s perspective on what it’s like being a mother and readjusting to life around a baby. Like many people who frequent Mandala Reflections, Amy is a person who lives life fully and holistically. As a school counselor, photographer, yogini, foodie, and garden enthusiast, Amy has many topics she could write about, but this time she wanted to talk about moms and motherhood. For more of Amy’s writing, do check out her blog, A Little September Love.

Happy Mother’s Day! This day has always held a special and bittersweet place in my heart. It not only reminds me of the mom that I miss every day, but it also reminds me of how truly blessed I am to have had lots of “mamas” in my life. Being pregnant the past year has made me especially grateful for the presence of these fabulous examples of mothers. As I continue to embark upon my own adventure as Finn’s mom, I am reminded daily of all the wisdom and love these ladies have shared with me!

It’s funny for me to think back to last Mother’s day…oh I so remember it. I was just coming to grips with the biggest surprise of my life; I was going to be a mom. We had breakfast at the Good Day Café, and I was desperately trying to conceal my morning sickness as I choked down some oatmeal (their fabulous eggs Benedict just wasn’t going to work that morning). I hid my Sea-bands and brushed off the “when are you going to put a car seat in the back of that thing?” comment, referring to the fact that we just traded our Jeep in for a shiny new station wagon. Little did Mamasa know that she was about to become a grandma.

I’d be lying if I said that I was thrilled when I found out about Finn. Thrilled is not the exact word I would use, more like shocked. And after taking 5 (yep count them) pregnancy tests, I shed some tears and grieved that my fabulous, newlywed life was about to totally change. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to be a mom, however I thought that I would maybe be ready in like 5 years…oops. Apparently my husband, Barrett and I need a little refresher course in sex-ed. (But that’s another story.) So slowly, and I mean slowly–I warmed up to the idea of my soon-to-be motherhood, and by about mid-October, I was finally feeling excitement about my pending arrival. Finn was set to make his debut on Christmas day, and he sure did.

Life has been a whirlwind since then. I’m desperately trying to figure out balance and realigning my priorities. You see, having a baby changes everything…literally EVERYTHING! Finn’s presence has been a welcome kick in the ass, forcing me to really figure out what I want to do with my life. Figuring life out is an ongoing dialogue in my head, and as I continually explain to my sweet and thankfully, extremely understanding husband, the ideas just keep coming. I want to be a mama, a school counselor, a swim coach, a yoga teacher, a writer, a blogger, a photographer and in the meantime, I’d love to conquer the constant flow of laundry and actually finish a book that I start. Having a baby has continued to push my creative button and as much as I resist and try to suppress it in an effort to be practical, my urge to be creative is now stronger than ever! I believe this urge has something to do with realigning priorities and wanting to make sure that the time I spend away from Finn is spent on something that I’m extremely passionate about. So, where does that lead? Well, for now, I decided I am going to try to master the manual settings of my SLR camera this summer and take a few photography classes. I also hope to make a commitment to write a daily blog post–come and visit if you’d like. So at least for this moment, this is the path that life has me on. It is incredible to witness the changes that have happened within me and with my life over the past year, and yet it has been just as wonderful to see how I have stayed the same. But most of all, on this Mother’s Day, I am excited to say I am embracing my sweet surprise and welcoming the holiday celebration with joy and gratitude.

Amy, Finn, and Barrett

In closing I must say thank you, to Lisa for being the bravest step-mom I’ve ever known, to Nana for having a daughter named my mom, to all of my aunties, you have loved me like your own daughter, and to my mama friends, thank you for reminding me that even if we’re moms and life is a little different now we are still so much the same. Also, to Netty, you are the best doctor ever and an even better mom. And to the future mom’s in my life, what a wild and wonderful ride you’re in for some day, and most importantly I want to thank my angel of a mom, for teaching me everything in life that’s important. I hope that I’m making you proud doing what you did so well, loving my sweet baby while cramming 10 pounds of life into a 5 pound bag. My heart is so full this Mother’s Day!