Letting Go – A Desert Wisdom Card

Letting Go - Desert Wisdom Card

Coral Aloe © 2013 Bo Mackison

Simply trust;
Do not the petals flutter down,
just like this?
~ Issa

The coral aloe is a common desert garden plant.

Its eye-catching blooms are striking in their bright orange radiance, with tips that glow iridescent blues, greens, and whites. But after the blossom is spent, the tubular flowers drop, often getting caught in the curvature of the succulent leaves.

In the letting go of petals, there is the promise of seeds and new life.

The letting go is necessary: the flowers are pollinated, they drop from the plant, the fruits grow, the seeds of the fruit are dispersed by animal, wind, or other means. New plants emerge from some of the seeds. The cycle of life continues.

We also face situations when “letting go” is a necessity.

We have no more control over situations which involve other people’s choices than flowers have control over their ability to continue clinging to the stem. But we do have control of our own choices to let go.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation,
unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
~ Steve Maraboli in Life, the Truth, and Being Free

This is not about letting go of dreams, goals, practices that serve you well, and are life affirming.

This is about the release of those things which are life-depleting. Letting go of the past, of emotions or beliefs which no longer serve a positive purpose, makes room for living in the present and anticipating the future.

LETTING GO offers questions/reflections for journaling, art prompts, and calls to action:

  • What are you ready to let go of that no longer serves you? What can be released to serve your higher purpose in life? Consider your daily living activities — your sleep or eating habits, too much clutter (material clutter or clutter on your to do list), choices of leisure time activities. If you choose to make a change, celebrate the change. View it from the strength of positive thinking, not from the victim-hood of habit or self put down.
  • Do you need to let go of excuses that cripple your intentions for change? Excuses steal your power. Taking responsibility for your day-to-day choices breaks the excuse machine. Write a dialogue between a habit that no longer serves you —  the size 8 dress hanging in the closet, the chocolate cake at the bakery department, a dysfunctional relationship — and your desires to let go. Write out all of your excuses and answer them with new resolve. Write a good-bye letter. Tear the letter in pieces and throw it away or burn it in a fireplace, letting the message drift far away.
  • Distraction can prove a helpful diversion. Get out of your head and into your body. Dance, sing, garden. Ride a bike or swim. Physical exertion demands your full attention and leaves little room for obsessive worry.
  • Create a mandala. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle or completion. Mandalas are all around us — in our cells, nature, the earth, the Universe. Carl Jung, the founder of psychoanalysis, said of mandalas, “In the products of the unconscious we discover mandala symbols …and whenever we wish to express wholeness, we employ just such figures.”
    • Create a mandala by tracing a circle and then use art media of your choice — colored pencils, pens, markers, paints — to fill in the space as you focus on “letting go.”  The colors, shapes and representations used in the mandala’s creation express emotions and feelings.
    • When the mandala is complete, journal any reactions you experienced during its creation or your reactions to the mandala’s colors, lines, and figures.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Bo is creating a deck of Desert Wisdom Cards for self-exploration and discovery, using her photography and the Sonoran Desert as a theme – its myths and stories, cultures and heritage, and the desert’s remarkable natural beauty and resources.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. This is perfect for me today, Bo. Thank you. I’m celebrating a lot of change, some of it inner and some of it outer. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      A move to a different part of the country, and leaving your beloved home of 13 years, no matter how much it makes sense on all levels, still requires a lot of letting go. Best of thoughts go with you on your move. Celebrating change – ah, yes!

  2. I had to digest this a little bit today because it moved me powerfully. Letting go has been a heavy process for me over the past few years. I’ve had to overcome many hardships (divorce, deaths in my family, moving, starting a new business and now health issues) and so I find myself in a process of slow and gentle change. The biggest thing I feel I’m letting go of is the need to meet other’s expectations especially when their needs aren’t considerate of mine and where I’m at with my grief. I think that can be hardest thing to let go of sometimes.

    Thank you so much for this. I’m definitely feeling the inspiration to work on a mandala today.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Jocelyn, thank you so much for joining the conversation. We are connected by our experiences with “letting go” — some overlap, some not — but it all triggers a grieving process. Your point about other people’s expectations is an important one, and something we all encounter to some degree. It is incredibly difficult to let go of those expectations.

      So glad you are inspired to try a collage. I did one, too, and found the process enlightening. And I’m also inspired by your words to create a wisdom cards on ‘expectations’ — thank you.

  3. Wonderful image and thoughts Bo !!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Bernie. I thought the photo was a great complement to the ‘letting go’ reflection.

  4. Gandalf says:

    Very interesting and inspiring. Also – Jocelyn keep going. You’ve got positive vibes and our good wishes.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks Gandalf. And your kindness and empathy are shining through. So appreciative that you are a frequent visitor.

  5. Interesting, Bo. The two years before we moved here were spent, for me, going through the very process you describe – letting go. Such a freeing experience, though I find that persistence and diligence are required to maintain the freedom, keep those expectations by others at bay. A mandala is a wonderful tool and I also intend to work on one today thanks to your insight. Yes, Jocelyn, stay the course – you have a wonderful spirit about you.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Ah, Debi, we are quite the little community of “letting goers”! Thank you so much for sharing your process, too. So many wise thoughts, and food for thought. It’s always a process, isn’t it? We never complete one task and then move on to the next. (I’ll forgive Auntie Matilda this week, and next week I’ll take on social justice!) But it’s a good process, a process that makes us who we are, and adds to the collective good.

  6. Perfect title for this image. I like the many curves and the colors.

  7. Letting go – for me (and most) is a life’s practice and work. Everytime I think ‘I’ve arrived’..I find another layer beneath that needs shaking loose and release. Beautiful!

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