It’s October, one of my very favorite months. An excitement starts to build within me during October. The quality of the air changes and there just seems to be a cool and invigorating energy in our atmosphere, we have Halloween to look forward to and then we start to kick off the Holiday Season. I know that even though I might love this time of year, it is a time that can be very difficult for so many people. I’m including an article this month that I hope will show you how to make it easier.
So, for your reading pleasure, some facts, fun facts and myths about Halloween, All Hallows Eve, All Hallowmas, All Saints or All Souls Day (November 1) and Samhain..
One story is that on November 1st the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The Celts believed that the laws of space and time were suspended during this brief period which allowed the spirit world to intermingle with the living. If you didn’t want to be possessed, on the night before (October 31st) you would make your home as undesirable as possible and then you would dress up as ghoulishly as you could and parade around the neighborhood being as loud and destructive as possible in order to frighten away any spirits looking for bodies to possess.
Another story that has to do with the evening before Samhain (Halloween) is that people left food on their doorsteps to keep hungry spirits from entering the house. I guess the theory being that because they were hungry they would get sidetracked with the food and not make it into the house.
The first “Jack’s Lanterns” were turnips the Irish used but then when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips and so the Jack-O-Lantern in America became a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
Some fun, miscellaneous and hopefully interesting facts for you: Halloween is the 8th largest card-sending occasion. There are over 28 million Halloween cards sent each year. Of all canned fruits and vegetables, pumpkin is the best source of vitamin A. Just a half-cup of the orange stuff has more than three times the recommended daily requirement. 90% of the pumpkin is made up of water. Halloween is also the sweetest holiday of the year beating out Easter, Valentine’s Day and Christmas in candy sales.
The quintessential symbols of Halloween, however, fall into three major categories:
Symbols of death which include graveyards, ghosts, skeletons and haunted houses;
Symbols of evil and misfortune such as witches, and black cats (I truly resent the misfortune label as to witches or cats, both of whom I consider lucky and blessed), and
- Symbols of harvest such pumpkins, scarecrows and corn.
On Halloween, scary things are suddenly and wholeheartedly embraced and displayed. Maybe we do this because there are so many of us who simply are not comfortable with the cycles of life and death and focusing on Halloween and the symbols of death associated with it give us an opportunity to get more comfortable with all the cycles of life.
Whatever the reasons, Halloween is a fascinating aspect of our changing world and of our boundless capacity to create traditions and confront death in unique and novel ways and definitely one of my favorite holidays!!!!
Linda Simmon C.Ht.
BEAT THOSE HOLIDAY BLUES
By Linda Simmon
The holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties and family gatherings. But for many people it is a depressing, stressful time filled with negative self-evaluation, loneliness, reminders of past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future.
There are many factors involved in what we refer to as “holiday blues”. They include stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, money (or the lack thereof), and the inability to find or be with someone you can love. The demands on our time and energy including shopping, cleaning, cooking, decorating, work, parties, monetary demands, family get togethers, reunions and house guests all can contribute to feelings of fear, stress, tension, anger and anxiety.
Other physical stress responses can develop that you might not realize are related to stress or anxiety such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience a post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months, the stress of the holidays and is compounded by the excess fatigue and anxiety experienced during the rather long holiday season.
There are ways to help cope with the stress associated with the holidays. First, keep your expectations for the holiday season reasonable and manageable. Set for yourself realistic goals, pace yourself to help keep your energy up, organize your time and make lists if you need to in order to help you prioritize activities.
To do this, you really must be truthful with yourself and realistic about what you can and cannot do. Try not to put the entire focus on just one day such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind that it is a holiday “season” and it continues for about two months. Activities and celebrations can be spread out over the entire time frame which will lessen your stress and increase enjoyment throughout the whole season.
Give yourself a break. Remember just because it is the holiday season, it doesn’t mean that feelings of being sad or lonely will miraculously disappear. If those feelings were present before the holidays, they will be there during the holidays, and sometimes they even appear to get a bit worse. Understand that this is natural and normal and there is room for these feelings to be present, even if you choose not to express them. It doesn’t make you a Scrooge for experiencing them, it just makes you normal.
Try not to focus on the past but rather look toward your future. Life brings changes. Each season and each year is different and while most people are comfortable with their “traditions” and maybe even try to cling a bit too tenaciously to them, you should “try” to be flexible when circumstances necessitate change.
If you’ve always celebrated and done a big meal on Christmas Eve, but this year it has to happen on Christmas Day or maybe even a day or two earlier, so what, enjoy it. Don’t set yourself up to be disappointed because you are comparing today with the “good ol’ days” of prior years. Remember that with time we tend to start to forget the bad and remember only the good. Chances are that your “good ol’ days” weren’t quite as good as you remember. Allow changes into your life, they keep you young; they keep your mind nimble and your body vibrant.
If you continue to feel that you are stuck and you really want to shock yourself out of any holiday doldrums, stress or depression that you might be experiencing, do something for someone else. Consider volunteering some of your time to help others (two legged and four legged as well). There are so many worthy organizations out there and they can all use an extra hand during this time of year.
You can volunteer at a Food Bank, Soup Kitchen, homeless shelter or shelter for abused women and children. If you feel people have let you down, volunteer at an animal shelter or wildlife station and help our furry little friends. There is so much in this world that needs help and attention and doing so will make you feel so good.
If money seems to be the major source of your holiday stress, consider exchanging costly activities with those that are free, such as taking a drive to look at all the holiday lights and decorations, building a snowman, baking your own cookies, stringing your own garland with popcorn or anything else you can think of.
Personally I love to spend one evening watching the Bishop’s Wife while sipping eggnog and wrapping a few gifts. You can even make gifts. My favorite presents from my parents were those clothes that my mother made for me. I loved them so much more than anything purchased. I had a sister-in-law once (and this is going to date me), who gave homemade cabbage patch dolls to all the kids on her list and I know my daughter loved it more than anything else
I had a mother-in-law who made candies at Christmas. It was the only time of year and that just made them more special. And my daughter and I one year made Hot Chocolate Kits for people using a canning jar and an assortment of ingredients we put together. They were so pretty I had to keep a couple for myself and that's why I can testify as to how good and tasty they were.
There is also another factor to consider. You could be feeling many of these negative emotions because of the environment. Sound strange? Not at all. Studies have shown that many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) because with the shorter days and cloudy weather they are not being exposed to enough hours of sunlight.
Of course, at this time of year, this just pertains to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, but those of you in the South need to remember this during your Winter months. As the days continue to get shorter in the winter months, this can be a real problem. Also, the further away from the equator you are, during the winter your days are even shorter than for the rest of us, sometimes only an hour or two in length.
Phototherapy (exposure to intense controlled light) has been shown to be effective in relieving the depressive symptoms associated with SAD. And I have to tell you, spending 10 minutes in a tanning bed during the middle of Winter totally lifts your mood. I’ve used this simple solution for the last 20 years and it works every time for me.
Other studies on the benefits of phototherapy have found that exposure to early morning sunlight can be especially effective in relieving seasonal depression. However, if this is not practical, any time will help.
Since there are and can be many, many reasons for the stress, anxiety and depression you may be experiencing during the holiday season, it becomes especially important to pay attention not only to what your body is experiencing, but to your mind and what you are focusing on as well. The holiday blues are such an obvious syndrome, it makes it almost easy to fall into the trap of focusing entirely on how bad you are feeling or expect to feel. Falling into this trap will only make things worse.
It really is important to realize that the bad feelings are not the real problem, they are only a symptom. They appear when something is not right in your world or within yourself. Look beyond the feelings and pay attention to what you are reacting to or focusing on. In addition, the holidays just lend themselves to triggering our subconscious.
During the entire holiday season we can be inundated with triggers from our past. Some of these can include past losses, grief, anticipation of a loss, comparing the past and the present, the contrast between the image of holiday joy we see in movies and the reality of our own life and the reminder of isolation and loneliness. Don't make yourself helpless and assume the role of a victim.
In addition to all the suggestions I’ve already given you, there is much you can do by taking responsibility for your own thoughts. Rather than focusing on the negative, focus on the positive things in your life and in the world around you. The holiday season is an ideal time to observe people being their best. This is the time when people are more likely to give to those less fortunate, to take the time to listen to a Christmas carol or buy a gift.
Of course, if you want to there is plenty of theft and anger to focus on, but if that isn’t what you want in your life, then take control, take responsibility and focus your thoughts on all the good around you. If you have unfinished issues with grief and losses from your past, take advantage of the holidays to help you complete your mourning and finish the grieving process. If you accept the loss and the feelings that go along with that loss, then finally the intensity of those feelings will start to lessen and you will be able to experience good feelings again when you reminisce.
Remember that there are many different kinds of losses and grief. The obvious one is the loss of a loved one but there can also be the loss of meaning and purpose, loss of health, loss of a body part, loss of material things (such as a house or a car) and loss of status, as well as the anticipation of future loss.
If holiday sadness or depression continues to plague you, please keep in mind that alcohol is by nature a depressant and it very definitely can increase these depressing and sad feelings. You could try something new that doesn’t include alcohol. How about having that eggnog without the rum, or instead of Champagne perhaps sparkling cider. Hot cocoa and those special holiday coffee drinks are also tasty and fun and do not involve alcohol.
Spend as much time as you can with supportive and caring people whether they are family, friends or that nice new person who just came into your life. Reach out and make new friends or get in touch with someone you haven’t heard from in a while. And if there isn’t a person you can reach out to, take it from me, a four legged furry little friend is just dying to be there for you.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, save time for yourself! Make sure you give yourself enough time to sleep, rest and recharge your batteries! Let someone else help you with the responsibilities of the holiday cooking, decorating and activities.
I have created a downloadable session called the Blues, it is custom made for times like this, as a matter of fact, I was thinking specifically of the Holidays when I created it. If you use it, you will feel better.
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
Numerology is a fascinating subject, one that I have explored many times often over the years. If you also have an interest in this subject, I have a recommendation for you. Ms. Priti Shah, who has been providing numerology services, giving numerology workshops and writing numerology based features since 2001. Here is the link to her website http://www.numbersofjoy.com and an excerpt I thought you might find interesting.
Have you observed a stream or the way the waters run in a rocky creek? In some areas the waters are gushing ahead; in some, the waters take their time leisurely winding around the rocks exploring new nooks and possibilities; and in a different area, the water remains stagnant circled by rocks and collecting debris. The only way this water will meet the stream is if a strong current or a heavy downpour helps it get away from the rocks that encircle.
In the same way, our lives are like rivers--sometimes flowing with complete confidence in what the future holds; sometimes leisurely taking the time to explore new possibilities and ways of living; and sometimes feeling trapped. Whatever your circumstances may be, wouldn't you like to know what lies ahead? What are the possibilities? What makes you feel trapped? How can you overcome this feeling of suffocation and be able to grow/ spread your wings?
To get each of you started on your own path of balance, order a downloadable session and I’ll send you a free downloadable session of your choice.
Just email me and let me know which one you’d like as your gift.
In honor of the season, this month’s health tip is all about Pumpkins, truly a wonder food:
Get Glowing Skin with This Fall Treat
Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons, thanks to changing leaves and autumn harvests. And you can have beautiful skin to match with this fall treat: pumpkin. This festive orange squash is rich in key nutrients that help keep skin healthy and fend off wrinkle-causing damage, according to Allison Tannis, author of Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles. If you don't get enough vitamin A in your diet, your skin might get dry, writes Tannis. But pumpkin is loaded with beta carotene -- an antioxidant your body converts into vitamin A. Just a quarter cup of canned pumpkin provides over 4,000 micrograms of beta carotene. Canned pumpkin also provides you with a little iron, another skin-supporting nutrient. It's necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein that helps skin stay firm and smooth. And as a bonus, pumpkin also serves up wrinkle-fighting vitamin C.
Don't let Thanksgiving be your only taste of pumpkin this year. And don't assume that pumpkin pie is the only way to make this squash palatable. Pumpkins are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Pumpkin pancakes are wonderful and you can make soup, stews and chili with a bit of pumpkin.
Thanks to their newfound superfood status, pumpkins will be spending less time on the front porch and more time on dinner menus this fall. Plus, they're amazingly versatile: Pureed, mashed, or cubed, pumpkin's mildly sweet taste can go even sweeter or savory, depending on how you spice it.
At restaurants, look for pumpkin soups, breads, and muffins; pumpkin-flavored pasta dishes (think gnocchi or ravioli); and decadent pumpkin-based desserts, from cheesecake to gelato.
At home, keep a few cans of pumpkin puree on hand, and stir a big spoonful into almost anything: soups, stews, yogurt, curries, pancakes, even meatball mixtures.
In fact, there may be nothing you can't pump up with pumpkin -- including coffee: The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks boosted the chain's sales 11% when it debuted! Need an extra prod to try pumpkin in something besides pie? Here are half a dozen reasons to go for the gourd:
1. It gives your immune system a flu-season boost.
A 1/2-cup serving of pumpkin delivers a boatload of immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients, including alpha carotene and beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, and enough vitamin A to last you 3 days!
2. It fills you up for very few calories. Half a cup of Libby's canned 100% pumpkin puree packs 5 grams of stomach-satisfying fiber (20% of the recommended daily intake) for only 40 calories. In comparison, a slice of whole-wheat bread has 2 grams of fiber and 70 calories.
3. It's got the goods to protect your vision. Pumpkin delivers a duo of sight-saving carotenoid antioxidants (lutein and beta cryptoxanthin) that reduce the risk of age-related cataracts and sight-stealing macular degeneration.
4. It keeps your body humming. Pumpkin is a great source of potassium, which keeps your cells, nerves, and muscles running smoothly. Healthy potassium levels also help keep blood pressure in check and can lower the odds of stroke and heart disease.
5. It could cut your cancer risk. A diet high in carotenoids can lower the risk of breast cancer. And beta cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that's particularly plentiful in pumpkin, may help protect against lung cancer. Aim to get your beta carotene from foods like pumpkin, since supplements don't offer the same cancer protection.
6. It gives your bones a little extra love. You'll also pick up a little extra bone-building calcium with each serving. Plus, beta cryptoxanthin defends against joint-destroying rheumatoid arthritis.
P.S. -- Wondering about canned versus fresh pumpkin?
Canned is a little less sweet but, surprisingly, it's a little more nutritious. It has more fiber, beta carotene, potassium, iron, and folate than fresh. It also wins huge points for convenience! And all that filling fiber pays off in more ways than appetite control: Eating a high-fiber diet can make your RealAge up to 3.5 years younger.
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