Tag Archives: Celebrations

The Obligatory New Year’s Resolution Post

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Despite my resistance now for a few days, a proper health and wellness blog cannot go without mentioning New Year’s Day and the birth of countless resolutions. A handful of these promises will be life-changing, while the rest will soon be forgotten as people fall back into living their familiar stories. This year marks another year I hope to wind up in the handful. I say, why not?

Truthfully, I used to think New Year’s was kind of a joke. It kind of is when you look at all of the failed attempts at resolutions. And for me, it really was just another day in another year of my life. Now, as I feel more inclined to live life fully each day and to live according to the seasons of the calendar year, I realize the powerful symbol the New Year brings to my consciousness, when I pay attention. The day ritualizes new beginnings in my life, and I get inspired by it. I hear other people embarking on their own journeys because of the New Year, and it makes me smile.

What my New Year’s ritual looks like is me sitting down in quiet reflection, jotting down thoughts about life and the world, but I also use this time to empty out. After I get all of the words on paper, I go through and think deeply about what I really want to accomplish. While my list of things I want to do, do, do, seems never-ending, I wonder about the bare necessities. I strip away my desires to the most necessary and truthful dreams I carry with me. I recognize that before I can move forward in making my dreams a reality, I must be honest and shed the parts of my life that no longer work. I let go of some of those ambitions (okay most), and I decipher which dreams are mine and which are my ego’s. It’s not always easy to tell, but I try to figure it out anyway.

I then practice letting go of even the dreams that I think are mine, and I practice focusing on clearing my mind. I repeat this process as often as necessary, and this reflection and discernment goes on for the rest of the year,  because circumstances change, the world changes and I change accordingly. I build and practice faith and “trust the process” as I let go.

To bring you outside of my whimsical, New Year’s reflection and back to reality, here is the succinct takeaway from my thoughts on New Year’s: Instead of viewing New Year’s as a time to add more to life, why not view it as a time to really simplify life? Let go of old habits, relationships, experiences and make room for new. You will find that learning to accept accompanies this letting go process, and I don’t know about you, but I think it feels really good to accept yourself and your life and strip away the non-essentials. You may just find joy at the bottom of your catch-all-drawer you’ve been meaning to clean.

Only 5 days into the New Year and letting go has already taken many shapes and forms that have made me feel great. With a new meal plan routine, I let go of foods that do not nourish me and that harm the environment. In addition to the health benefits, as a secondary result, this act of letting go actually now produces a financial plus (saving money) and an emotional benefit (I am cooking more and sharing meals with family, which makes me happy!)  Just today, I let go of 4 bags of old clothes that no longer fit me (you know those ones you keep just in case, well, I moved on). So far, letting go has been a fairly easy resolution for me. So far. I know it won’t always be that way, but I hope I can be open to the experience when it arises.

I also hope that you take a moment to honor the New Year and the surprises and teachings it may bring to your life. If you haven’t already, Mandala Reflections challenges you to really sit with yourself and think about your life. Maybe do art, write, practice yoga, dance, have a beer or do whatever inspires you to tap into your unconscious. Rediscover old dreams. Ask yourself where you feel well and where you feel unwell. Go to the discomfort. Ask yourself what you want to change about that uncomfortable place and most important, be honest. Recognize and discern if you are actually ready and willing to change. If you are not ready to change or you are a superstar, you won’t feel the urge to make a resolution, and that’s okay. Just listen and you will know what to do. Give yourself the chance to practice self-awareness in the New Year, and you will make the best decisions you can.

January Happenings

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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 low-cost 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.

Listing of events does not indicate endorsement by Mandala Reflections.

Day Time Events: 

Tuesday, January 17, 9am-12pm, Location: Carondelet Center, St. Paul, Minnesota Presencing Training: Prototyping Collaboration, “The Presencing process is a journey that connects us more deeply both to what wants to emerge in the world and to our emerging, higher self. A community is emerging, in Minnesota and internationally, to learn from and apply this process. You are invited to join us for this free training, which will introduce the practice of Presencing and focus on the tool of prototyping to bring about deep shifts in organizations and communities. Wendy Morris will lead the training, and we’ll interact with case studies of prototyping from several fields.” Cost: FREE, but space is limited. To find out more or register go to the Event Brite page.

Evening Events:

Monday, January 9, 7-8:30pm, Location: River Market, 221 Main St N # 1  Stillwater, MN 55082, Movie Night Monday: Food Matters, Come and see a controversial documentary about food and its effects on human health. The filmmakers have interviewed several leading experts in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. For more information, visit the Food Matters Website. Cost: FREE. Registration required. Call (651) 439-0366.

Tuesday, January 10, 7pm, Location: Nina’s Coffee Cafe, 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, Community Health Talk Series: Natural Sustainable Approaches to Common Health Issues- Overcoming Arthritis, Brought to you by O’Keefe Matz Functional Health Clinic. Cost: FREE. For more information call 651-292-8072. 

Thursday, January 12, 5:30-6:30pm, Location: Healing Waters Health Center, 2705 Ensloe St., Hudson, WI, Qigong practice, Come try out a qigong practice, no experience necessary. Cost: FREE. Please pre-register by emailing Denise at denise@healingwatersqigong.com or calling the center at 715-381-8123. For more events from this center check out their calendar.

Thursday, January 12, 7-8pm, Location: Mississippi Market, 1500 West 7th Street, St. Paul, Detox class with Dr. Salmi, Learn about toxins in your environment, how they affect you and how to remove them from your body. Cost: FREE. Registration is required and space is limited. To register and see more events from Mississippi Market check out their event’s page.

Thursday, January 12, 7-9pm, Location: Waldorf School, 70 East County Road B, St. Paul, Movie Screening and Discussion: Play Again, This documentary “follows six teenagers who, like the ‘average American child,’ spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens and are unplugged and taken on their first wilderness adventure – no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.” Cost: FREE. For more information check out the event details 

Monday, January 23, 7-9pm, Location: TBA, Jungian Dream Workshop, given by Dr. Carrie Sword, Jungian psychotherapist, In this workshop “discover the meaning of your dreams and their profound implications for your life, enjoy being with others who share common interests in a comfortable atmosphere, learn how you can renew yourself by turning depression and anxiety into personal growth, make your life adventurous and bold through dreamwork.” Cost: $20. For more information about the meeting place and registration call (612) 382-7843 or send an email to Carrie.

Tuesday, January 31, 6-7:30pm, Location: The Aliveness Project Conference Room, East 38th Street Minneapolis, MN 55407, Raising Your T-Cell Count With Drumming, with Cheri Bunker HealthRHYTHMS instructor, This event is “for people living with HIV/AIDS to create personal ownership for managing their own health care.” A $5 giftcard will be provided and if you come early dinner is provided. Cost: FREE. For an extensive list of free educational sessions at the Aliveness Project, please visit their Health and Wellness page or please contact their Health and Wellness Program Coordinator at 612-822-LIFE (5433), extension 213, or by e-mail at wellness@aliveness.org.

Weekend Events:

Friday, January 20, 7-9pm, Location: Common Ground Meditation Center, 2700 East 26th Street Minneapolis, Center Yourself in Greater Love: Open Your Heart to Earth’s Cries, an eco-spirited talk given by Kaia Svien. For more information about Kaia, her Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class schedule and the important work she does, visit her website, Mindfulness for Changing Times. Cost: Donation.

Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22: 10am-5pm, Location: Minneapolis Convention Center – Ballroom, 1301 2nd Ave S – Minneapolis, MN 55403, Healthy Life Expo, a great place with over 200 exhibitors where you can explore the latest products, services and information for staying healthy. Interactive seminars will occur both days. Cost: $6 or FREE if you bring non-perishable food items.

Saturday, January 28, 2:45-4:15pm, Location: Spirit of the Lake, 244 Water St., Second Floor, Excelsior, MN, Introduction to Insight Meditation, with Karen Schott, “Have you ever wondered how to remain focused and joyful in today’s sometimes stressful environment? Take just 90 minutes out of your busy schedule to see how easily Insight Meditation and Walking Meditation can become part of your day and help you discover joy in the moment.” Cost: FREE. Registration is required, pre-register here.

How to Keep Your Holiday Tradition and Skip the Food Coma

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Mandala Reflections is excited to introduce guest blogger, Elisabeth Meyer. This post will hopefully be the first of many, because Elisabeth is an amazing cook! But most important, she is real. Read on to hear how she finds balance amidst extravagant holiday eating.    

For many of us, the holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones…and lots of indulgences come along with all of the celebrations!  If you’re trying to eat healthy or stick to a specific diet, this time of year can feel stressful.   I know it always has been for me:  I would obsess over all the unhealthy food I was eating.  Mind you, I still ate it – but I felt terribly guilty about doing so.

I have a new, more balanced philosophy this holiday season:  I am going to eat the foods that are special treats for me, eat healthy when I’m at home by myself, and stop worrying so much about all of it.  For me, this means I will eat the special foods that my family makes at this time of year (lasagna on Christmas Eve, my grandfather’s homemade kolache, my dad’s French toast the day after Christmas) and any special foods that are offered at other celebrations (homemade Christmas cookies, for example) without guilt or regret.  I’ll skip the treats that I don’t get too excited about but often eat anyway just because they’re available (candy canes at the office, store-bought cookies and cakes).  And when I’m home alone in between the merriment, I’ll make the healthy foods that I’m accustomed to eating the rest of the year.  I can’t tell you how much better it feels to eat the foods I love and allow myself to really enjoy them, and consciously pass on all the extra junk that I never enjoy that much anyway.

In between the indulging and the abstaining, one of the things that keeps me grounded and tied to my commitment to eating healthy, whole foods is having whole grains for breakfast almost every day.  Breakfast is an easy meal to commit to eating healthily during the holidays, because most of the partying happens later in the day, and hot cereal is such a great way to start off the morning in the wintertime.  I like to cook a large batch of grains at the beginning of the week, and keep them in the refrigerator to reheat in small portions all week long.  A couple of my favorite recipes are below:

Cinnamon-Berry Quinoa

(makes 4 servings)

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1 cup quinoa (tip:  if you rinse quinoa before you cook it, it will eliminate some of the bitterness that people often associate with quinoa, and make it taste much better!)

2 cups frozen berries (fresh berries are great too, but not seasonally available for most of us in December!)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Chopped pecans and agave nectar or honey, to taste

Combine milk, water, and quinoa in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in berries, cinnamon, and pecans.

Add agave or honey to taste just before serving.

Cranberry-Ginger Oatmeal

(makes 3 servings)

1 cup old-fashioned oats

2 cups water

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sunflower seeds (shelled and unsalted)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Bring water to a boil.

Add oats, raisins, cranberries, ginger, and a pinch of salt.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook until water is absorbed and oats are creamy – about 7 minutes.

Add sunflower seeds and syrup.

Serve with milk if desired.

Elisabeth Meyer owns and directs an early childhood center in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, where she teaches cooking classes for children and families that focus on natural, whole foods cooking.  She is also a holistic health graduate student at St. Catherine University, where she focuses her studies on child nutrition and a (lapsed) blogger at Cooking in Cathedral Hill, where she blogs about her favorite recipes and experiences in her own kitchen.