Tag Archives: Death

The Obligatory New Year’s Resolution Post


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.

Halloween Heritage


Happy Halloween! Today, many people in the world celebrate by dressing up in costume, gathering with friends and collecting candy.  After developing a stomach ache and maybe a cavity from all the sweets, the extent of the holiday typically ends there for most of us.

Many of us have forgotten that the tradition originates from a rich Celtic fire festival called Samhain (Sah-win). Samhain was thought to be a time when the space shortened between the world of the living and the dead. It was a time where people honored their loved ones, and ancestors returned to visit the living and offer help and advice. In these ancient times, people would put lights into hollowed-out turnips to guide the spirits and put  food out as an offering to lure them home. People were not afraid of these spirits for they were family, givers of life.

This tradition remains today in a different form, the turnips turned into carved pumpkins and the food offerings changed into a colorful array of candy. However,  with the exception of the Latinos’ Día de los Muertos and the Catholics’ All Saint’s and Souls’ Days, a bulk majority of people who celebrate Halloween have omitted the aspect of honoring and remembering the spirits of their ancestors. As historians remind us, by remembering and acknowledging our past, we can better settle into our present and future, and we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and the world. On this Samhain, I challenge myself and you to reflect on this lost element of the holiday. Why do you think we have let go of this part of the celebration? Does it have anything to do with people wanting or being forced to forget their past? Or is it a reflection of the growing fear of death in our society?

As the population reaches 7 billion today, the Samhain tradition offers up another challenge. Samhain reminds us that death is a natural part of life and recognizes how death can be a gift. This view of death is not often embraced, however may offer insight toward a healthier frame to organize the way we grieve and view loss. On a metaphorical level, death makes room for the birth of new possibilities and change and growth. Without death, there would be no room to develop. In this light, in the past, Halloween (Samhain) was actually celebrated in a fashion similar to New Year’s Day. Because during this time people focused a lot on death, it also became a celebration for new beginnings–an uncertain time where people could dream about the future and hope for change.

Right now I see how I am experiencing the “New Year” aspect of Samhain. As I let go of my old website and prepare to finish a two and a half-year Master’s program,  I find Mandala Reflections to be one of my new beginnings. When I think on the meaning of Samhain, I find myself exactly where I need to be. By honoring the nature of the season of death/life, I am learning to embrace this waiting and dreaming period. I have faith that time will eventually expose more new beginnings (with a little help from my ancestors).

Speaking of nature and time, to end on a necessary note, below is a picture of my Halloween costume (I’m on the right). Oddly enough, my husband and I went as Father Time and Mother Nature. Definitely a coincidence but thought it was cool our costumes seemed to fit this post well.