Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: December 2012 (page 1 of 3)

The List: 2013

After a sub-par year of doing the things I thought would make 2012 better than 2011, I’m cautious about what I add to this year’s List. Not just because I hate public failure, but because it reveals that I’m not trying to change the right things… if I’m serious about it, I would put effort behind it. Truth be told, I’m probably a bit too ambitious, putting too much on my list.

The biggest way I think I can Make 2013 Better Than 2012 is to focus on relationships; namely, to be better at them. I want to be more of a giver than a taker, to be more attuned to the people I love.

Though I’m quite social in nature, I am at my core an introvert. I derive energy from time in my big brown chair, reflecting, reading, writing. However, I’m a verbal processor, so I take those thoughts and try them out on others. I love meaningful conversation. This means that many of my friends and family become targets for me to take those inner workings and spew them about, because often I feel as though if not shared, I might simply bust. My friends thank their heavenly stars this blog exists because it tends to catch the what would’ve been a long, drawn out phone call during the dinner hour.

All of this to say, my interactions with others tend to be self-driven. I want to change the course of conversations to center beyond my ponderings and into the events of their lives. I want to move beyond my pithy theory into their actual life. Those who have fallen prey to my overly-excitable thoughts know this could be a tad lofty goal for a girl who lives so high in the clouds, but it’s something I’m willing to climb toward. So most of my Ways for 2013 should center around how I hope to see this out.

1. Respond to text, email and phone messages in a more timely manner. I’m awful – awful – at this. Especially when it doesn’t directly affect my current moment in life. Sometimes, I’m busy. So that’s allowed. And sometimes, I don’t even see a message. Again, forgivable  There’s room in my life to not be so… electronically connected. But the times that I see the message and just don’t feel like responding. Not. Cool. This must change.

2. Tell JJ my most substantial thought each day. Because I love him, I tend not to target the hubby with my musings. Sometimes, it’s just a lot to carry. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel we have enough going on already under this roof or if we simply become too caught up in the nuts and bolts of making the household function, but home is often the last place I share my big Aha. But he should probably be the first. In theory, I know a relationship flourishes when we share the deepest parts of ourselves. In practice, I know life is simpler when we focus on dinner and children. Not to lead you to believe that we lack any substance… far from it. But at the end of 2013 I want to be able to say that we took our marriage to another level, digging deep as a couple.

3. Bring JOY to my children’s life. I’m no Miss Hannigan, but I’m not Mary Poppins either. I tend to lean toward efficiency over emotional impact. In my defense, there’s 3(.5) of them and such a production requires a bit of whip-cracking if we ever want to leave the house. But I want to laugh more than I raise my voice. I want to encourage more than chide. I want to be okay with things that are less than okay. I love the sound of Miss M’s sweet cackle and H Boy’s ringing belly laugh. I want to inspire and encourage this, not be the one who throws a wet towel on it.

4. Engage with my small group. I’ve earned an A+ in conversational contributions, but that’s only a portion of the overall grade. While I feel I’ve opened up well with the group and allowed my truer self to be present (not a small feat when you consider what a freak I am. No, really.) I’ve slacked on the reciprocating end. I don’t listen well. I don’t take in their questions, fears, concerns or the challenges of their life circumstances. Empathy doesn’t make the list of my top skills and I can see where I haven’t really put forth enough effort at overcoming for the sake of the group. This must change.
I believe that I hesitate to take these relationships to that place in my own heart because I know what comes with it: love, which simply doesn’t “stop” after the chapter is over. I tell JJ that what I believe, I believe strongly and what I feel, I feel deeply. I still suffer the aftershocks of loving so many of my beloved “kids” (youth) that at times I get a bit weepy thinking about their beautiful lives right now and the privilege God gave me for sitting in on it. My heart swells for them and I often wonder if it can take on a new set of people who would allow me ringside seats to their encounters with God. I simply don’t know how pastors do it.

(Those were the relationally-driven Ways. Now a few generalities that will make next year better)

5. Find 2 more clients. It was the week of Christmas and I sat around on Pinterest because I had most of my tasks crossed off, ducks in a row. Clearly I have capacity for a bit more work and the variety of clients keeps me fresh.

6. Floss more. Seriously, the Dental Debacle of 2012 doesn’t need a repeat.

7. Take more pictures. Thanks to KLR, I hope to create better habits. We’ll see. I’m apprehensive, but willing.

8. Get healthy. Whilest I eat whole foods and avoid the junk the normal person indulges, for the most part my body has some healing to do. It turns out that having 4 kids in 5 years is a bit tough on the system – my chiro told me that it’s just what happens when you, quite literally, have someone sucking the life out of you for so long. I saw a brief respite during the summer, so I have high hopes that after I finish nursing this Grand Finale, I can focus efforts at getting my body the nutrients it needs to function properly – and eat cookies like a normal person. So while I probably won’t get to the stage of nursing completion in 2013, I do plan on getting serious about treating my body well while I ask so much of it. I need to care for it as much as it has cared for babies, and that means avoiding junk that makes it feel like junk. Easier said than done, but a priority.

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Do you hear what I hear?

Often, I’m not sure if I ask myself or receive from others more questions about childhood and my kids’ hearing loss. Wearing their “ears” is part of the daily routine, so much like putting on shoes, I don’t have to think twice. However, it’s also one of those constant nags – much like dinner – that I’m always considering in the back of my mind. 

When H-Boy was first diagnosed, many people aimed to comfort us with the knowledge that once he was older, we’d be able to know more about the extent of his hearing loss and if he’d “need” his hearing aids. Well, we’ve arrived at the point of getting useful feedback about his hearing, which has both helped me process how to best aid him and caused me even more questions about how to best aid him. 
Our biggest challenge: he’s a 4-year-old boy. Often, he’s simply acting like a 4-year-old boy. Example: every time I speak to/with him, I’m met with a W question. What? Why? Where’s he going? Who is that person? What? 
Please tell me that other moms everywhere sometimes simply say, “I don’t know” and move on? I mean, that’s legal, right? Oh, the questions. I love an inquisitive spirit, but it’s exhausting. 
So when I ask him to do something and he responds “What?” I’ve narrowed down his response to mean one of several things:
  • Stalling. He simply doesn’t want to get dressed. Typical 4-year-old boy. This is a good 40% of the time. 
  • Volume. During a recent bout of repetition I ended up asking if he wanted his ears turned up and he said yes. So I showed him where his volume control was and more than once I’ve noticed him adjusting it (granted, this involved buttons, so we could be back to the Typical 4YOB thing). This tells me we need to get him back in the testing booth to see if his hearing has changed. I’d attribute this to about 15-20% of the time. 
  • Speed and sight. One time, after several attempts, I asked him, “do you want me to say it louder or do you want me to say it slower?” He easily responded “slower.” Because we’re all used to dealing with hard of hearing grandparents, our temptation is to talk to them like a train is going by; but what kids like mine really need is for you to look at them and speak at a less-than-expedient pace (this poor kid, being given to a mother like me….).  In my experience, his biggest challenges are the car, where I cannot turn and the music is in the way, speaking from room to room, and speaking in rooms full of people and conversation. Extra visual is needed there, often it’s best to squat to his level to gain full attention. (Um…. this could be true of every 4YOB as well). 
My most recent conundrum regarding what he “really” hears involves music. Miss M, a bigger David Crowder fan than I, will now often recite what David is singing about to me. After a line, she’ll say, “Mommy, David Crowder said that ‘O great God give us rest!'” Yes, yes he did. (Note: she’ll do this through the whole song. I’m trying to remember that it’s endearing). 
H-boy has never done this. In fact, I can’t recall him singing along with anything. He does sing songs very common to him, but the Pre-k teachers have told me that he didn’t like to sing the songs with the class, like the Name Game (now, 3 months later, he’ll break into that song at home). At the Christmas party, I noticed he didn’t sing. I tried asking if he liked the songs, if he knew the words, if he didn’t like singing, but didn’t get much feedback to lead me in any direction. So I have to wonder – does the speed of the verse and the background “noise” of the music inhibit him from hearing the words to the song? Does he not sing because he doesn’t know what they’re saying? Or, like the Typical 4YOB, does he just not like to sing with others? 
My level-headed kindergarten-teacher friend told me it’s something to explore, but unfortunately these will always be the questions I’ll ask: is it because he can’t hear or because this is who he is? Because those each garner different responses. If he doesn’t participate because he can’t hear, I want to figure out how to provide every opportunity. But if he doesn’t partake because it’s not something he enjoys or because of his natural sense of “who I am”, then I don’t want to be that pushy mom who mandates music lessons. It’s a delicate balance to want to make sure doors are open without pushing him through the threshold. 
But enough about what he’s “not” doing…. he’s currently reading to Baby C from the bug book, making her cackle in laughter. He loves to squeeze into the tiny, cozy area between the chair  and table to “work in his office”, tying up the 4-piece cloth nativity set. He loves books and bedtime won’t be complete without a story, frequently, as mentioned, asking 500 questions about the characters and plot lines. He’d rather curl up on the couch with a book than go outside (definitely my child). He’s destined to be a church usher or funeral home director because he’s always counting chairs to make sure there are enough for everyone joining us for dinner. He loves to pick out his outfit and accessorizing is his favorite part – we’ve been to the store with ties and vests and fancy hats numerous times. One of the other moms at school even complemented him on his clothing choices (her kid seems to have an affinity for cartoon characters). 
Discovering the world through the eyes – and ears – of a 4-year-old boy makes for a curious adventure. I’m grateful for the chance to rediscover the world with him. 
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O Christmas Tree

“If your mom and I were to get a divorce, who would you live with?” my dad asked. 

“Mom. She’d have the prettier Christmas tree,” said my sister. 
I’ve pretty much relegated all Christmas tree duties to JJ. His time at the funeral home equipped him to be much better at making things pretty than I can muster – and his patience with such activity has a higher threshold, especially with kids. So I make some hot chocolate while they dig out the ornaments and wrap ribbon. I have to say, our tree is the perfect balance of beauty and nostolgia. From here I can see ornaments such as baby booties (H Boy’s), a silver martini glass (a gift from my mom), a candy-cane inspired “H”, a pillow cross-stitched in 1981and bright red metallic “peace” “love” and “joy.” With white lights aglow, it’s quite perfect. 
I’ve always tended to sit on the sideline of Christmas tree events. Growing up we had the most perfect tree. It was (quite literally) 8 pieces. a pole, 7 large hanging racks and a topper. Through the early years we’d adorn it with macaroni-made ornaments, some tinsel and multi-colored lights. 
My mom hated it. 
If there’s one thing my mom does well, it’s make things beautiful. But the nature of our tree was anything but. As our home became more and more decorated by Taste of Country, or later, Pottery Barn, the kid-tree just wasn’t hitting the spot for her. So one day she declared mutiny. 
She bought all white lights. My sister was outraged. 
“But I want the tree to be pretty,” mom pleaded. “But it’s just not Christmasy!” Ang fought back. “They’re boooorrr-rrring.” After about 2 more years of making a ruckus, mom finally got her white lights. New ornaments started infiltrating our stockings to be hung the following year. 
Then came the campaigning for a new tree altogether. “Why would you want a new tree? This one works fine,” Dad argued. I believe these wishes went at least 3-4 years, into my late high school or early college years, before she’d had it. 
One day, she went to Bellefontaine and, after rounding a corner in our bus of a van, swiped a parked car. She was frustrated. She had to call dad. After explaining what happened, Dad told her he’d be down to pick her up in the car after a while. “Well, see, that presents an issue…. I also bought a new Christmas tree.”
Thus some serious discussion at home. It soon became a joke, the way mom had caused such a stirring in our arborous life. At some point a loud and comical conversation ensued about how this new tree was going to end our family, that dad would divorce her over an evergreen. Thus, him asking who we would live with. And Angie’s witty response. 
And it was all fun and comedy until we took it out of the box. 5,000 pieces. (Slight exaggeration). And mom had already given away the 8-piece tree to the high school. Color coded limbs, bags upon bags of pieces to figure out what level they needed assembled… “but it’s so full and pretty,” Mom reminded us. 
I believe JJ heard this story a few times before we were wed. He helped me put up my tree once while we were dating, with much complaint. Then again while we were engaged, with a warning: we were going to be purchasing a real tree for our married life. Between the nightmare 5,000-piece tree and his love of tradition (this being his own), he wasn’t going to risk any tree debacles. 
Thus, I sit back and enjoy my tree, as is. 
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