Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Year: 2017 (page 1 of 7)

Funerals and Musicals

It’s no secret that our family hates October. Actually, I feel a large proportion of Upper Sandusky hates it. Everything dies in October; the leaves and the the people we love.

I’m not sure if the Star Players, the local community theater group, intentionally chose October as the season for their annual all-ages musical, but if they did: genius. It’s exactly what we need. Not just to “take our minds off of things” or to “numb the pain.” Of course, escaping into a story for a few hours is a good way to set down our grief for a moment, but it’s more than an epidural for our funeral season.

Watching the leads yesterday finish the first act in complete harmony, my eyes automatically started watering. The tears returned when the whole chorus set into a song about being our weird selves – and not just because I identified personally as a misfit. I watched the Pinocchio character step into his role and show no restraint. He lived and danced into his character fully and it. was. beautiful. The Sugar Plum Fairy danced big and loud and you could see something come alive in her eyes that radiated all the way down from her soul.

I’ve yet to go to a community theater production and not cry at the curtain call. Not because I’m reliving my stage life (because I don’t have one) but because of the connection it evokes. There’s nothing I love more than seeing people live their gifts so feely. Community theater is unpaid and under-appreciated, yet these folks show up for the rehearsals, put in the hours for practice, and subject themselves to critics and criticism.

All for the sake of beauty.

Their voices, their acting, their delivery of certain lines of comedy isn’t something that can be mass produced and easily found. They conjured that up from deep inside and then shared it with the world. It’s as if they were willing to dig into the muck in which we wade and pull out the treasure chest of jewels and hold them up to everyone willing to show up for a $15 ticket and say, “See! It’s here! There is beauty among us!”

Despite what I feel right now about the month of October, this world does hold so much beauty.

I see it in the parents who gather together to send their children off to homecoming.  There is so much beauty, not just in the kids cleaning up and dressing fancy, but in the shared sense of Where did time go? How did s/he grow up so fast? amid the excitement.

And even in the heartache, I see a beauty in the full-force recollection of one of our community’s favorite educators as we learned of his passing. The shared grief reveals a certain element of connection as people light the darkness with their individual memories of a shared beloved. Each comment, each photo, each quote is a candle, held high.

I’m reading Brene Brown’s newest, Braving the Wilderness, and she writes about these elements of Inextricable Connection (emphasis mine):

All of these examples of collective joy and pain are sacred experiences. They are so deeply human that they cut through our differences and tap into our hardwired nature. These experiences tell us what is true and possible about the human spirit. We need these moments with strangers as reminders that despite how much we might dislike someone on Facebook or even in person, we are still inextricably connected.

Perhaps that’s the lesson of this particular October. Not just that it continues to be a terrible time, but that it can be terrible for all of us and we can share in it’s terribleness. Perhaps it’s the brokenness of this season that binds us together, forming its own kind of beauty.

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The Secret to a Happy Birthday (and maybe life)

It’s my birthday week, yet it’s also October.  Because it’s not a “big” number, the celebrations this year are low-key: Drinks with the girls, dinner with the hubs, pumpkins with the kids – such things are perfectly fitting for 37.

For not the first time, I declared my own birthday celebration with a few friends. I made a FB event and invited handfuls of friends to join me for wine. Some of them can make it; some cannot. Amid the apologies from the ones who have to miss out, I shared with a few of them this secret: I don’t take it personally.

You see, I only invited people who I already know like me. I do not question their love. Their attendance, or lack thereof, is not a statement about me or even our relationship. It’s a reflection of their state of life right now.  I want to be a good friend, one that understands, rather than being someone who wages an imaginary competition for their attention.

Life is so much easier – so much better – when I recognize how little is actually about me. Sure, I put my name on the birthday invite, but how a person responds isn’t about me. I don’t have to take everything personally. 

My friends, when I stop taking it personally, I am free. When I stop using others’ actions as a measuring stick of my own worth, I can feel infinite amounts of love. My identification with love, my knowledge that I am loved, comes from something bigger than birthday attendance.  Sure, it might be a way I can feel love, it can be an experience of love, but it’s not the source. So even if only one person could join me on the Friday of the Birthday Weekend, I can still feel secure and feel love. Love doesn’t come from people, it comes through them.

So as for me and my birthday, I’ll feel the love of some friends from afar; and I’ll see the love of other friends from across the table. I will find the source of love by turning my attention to it rather than expecting others to fulfill it. And I’ll feel free to accept love in all it’s forms of delivery.

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The Healing Power of [Insert Modality or Company Here]

In my world of virtual (and real) friends, I have some who proclaim the wonders of essential oils. I have those who found healing in particular pro-biotics. There are a few who turn to herbs and even more that have changed lifestyles around ways of eating and experienced transformation. I’ve used all of these things in a season of my life – or even all of them in a given day – and have nothing negative to say about them. Use all of the things, I say.

I’m starting to wonder if effectiveness is not only in the science (and I do think there’s evidence to support any of them). I think the particular gift of any life-changing supplement lies in the gift of returning one’s personal power. We get to play a role in deciding the direction for our lives.

Listen to the stories of the believers (even my own testimonials) and you hear the undertones: “I had tried everything.” “I spent millions of dollars visiting all of the doctors.” “I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, but now I have the energy of a thousand racehorses.” Finally, something worked, and that magic sparked a belief in a new power at their fingertips.

I’ll maintain that it is partially about the product. These are not placebos. But if you’re wondering why your FB friends won’t just get over the magical snake oils already, the reason is partially their regained health and a whole lot of they reasserted their own power to decide. They’re no longer victims to this fallen, eczema-induced world, but co-conspirators to its transformation. I’ve noticed that the most financially successful products are the ones that remind people they can also earn a living while helping sound the bell for other people to regain their freedom. (This isn’t a bad thing. The world needs more free people.)

We feel powerlessness in our bodies. Illnesses that won’t go away. Babies that won’t stop crying or start sleeping (God, save us all). We feel hostage to our thoughts that won’t subside and havoc-wrecking habits. When you feel rotten, the powerlessness is nearly as overwhelming as the expressing symptoms. (Ahem, grief. I’m looking at you, October.)  Modalities that say, “hey, you have a choice” have the the double-positive effect of not just easing symptoms but reminding us of our voice. We’re no longer dependent on someone else to give us what we need*.

As the body, so the soul. 

What if our issues aren’t just skin deep? Maybe it’s actually reversed. Perhaps we feel so powerless in our life that it begins seeping out of our skin. Treatments, products, even yoga practices – they help our illnesses and they restore the soul because, Oh yeah!That’s right, I’m not a puppet in someone else’s play.

This, my friends, is the power of faith. I wonder if this might be what is behind Jesus’ repeated words, “Your faith has healed you.” I have to wonder about his tone of voice. Did he say it with an air of “do you see what you just did there?”

Like my oils and herbs, I’m not about to erase the power of God in these healing stories. Yet, I’ve been reading the gospels with this lens,  and I have to pause. When looking at people living in political- and religious-induced victim situations, Jesus gives them courage to assert their power, without demanding  they necessarily upend the entire structure of society. I hear his words in his most famous sermon telling people that when someone punches them in the face, they have the power to turn the other cheek, and with it challenge the character of the man who strikes him. When forced by political oppressors to carry the luggage, they have the volition to keep going, which would bring about reprimand for the soldier who issued the mandate.

There’s something about Jesus and the way he reminds people of their worth and their own intrinsic, given-by-the-act-of-being-born power. He seems to tell them Your response is your birthright. No one can take that away.

We don’t get to choose many of our circumstances. We don’t get to choose other people’s behavior. Certain institutional structures seem to be out of reach. But we do have our response. Even choosing not to respond is a choice we get to make.

And if you really want to exert your power, love anyways.

 

 

*Unless we become dependent on a product or practice. Then we mistakenly hand over our power again. Don’t do that.

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