Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: a hope and a future (page 1 of 19)

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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Optimism and Other Lies

I recognize I can come across a bit too Pollyanna for some folk. Someone remarked recently, “I love your optimism!” and while I appreciated the sentiment, I doubted it’s truth. I can understand why people might interpret my attitude as Glass Half Full, but it’s not entirely accurate.

I completely see, feel, and understand the ways in which the world is terrible. The friends fighting brain cancer and the storms decimating innocent people’s homes. The systemic way in which all people aren’t valued in the same way. There’s no way you can put this world in a prom dress and declare it’s fine, just fine. It’s not.

The pretense of a rosy world shattered, if in no other way, than how I continue to experience October. What people might smell in my attitude isn’t optimism – that everything is good if you just look at it the right way. Some things are terrible and they suck and it’s okay to name it that way.

What I am, however, is hopeful.

I believe this whole thing is headed in a particular direction, a place with goodness as a baseline. (And actually, I believe that about our starting point as well.) What we have here, among us, is a kitchen in the middle of making the salsa. A mess. A sink full of dishes, splatters on the wall and my shirt, with scraps of vegetables attracting the fruit flies. This is the creation process. There is a deliciousness in our midst; we can smell it. We can see evidence of it around us. And it’s not yet. We’re still shuffling bowls of tomato cores and getting jalapeno seeds too close to our eyes. The scent of what is to come permeates our present atmosphere to the point we can nearly taste it. And still we wait for things to cook down and become as they should be.

That is the underlying Hebrew tone of the word hope: To wait.

Optimism brushes off the negative, the part of the glass that is empty. Hope endures it. Hope takes it all in. Half is gone, half is full, and when it’s all consumed it’s going to be very, very good.

This is our work. We’re partnered in the work of creation, bringing about the reality we believe we’re headed toward. Not a passive, “It sure would be nice if…” waiting, but an active wait. In the words of Anne Lamott, it’s “planting trees for children whose grandparents were born yesterday.” Perhaps the literal trees, and maybe we’re also planting ideas into generations that we won’t be around to hear them repeat. In any case, the value doesn’t diminish.

So friends, when you hear me cheering for the good, have confidence that I’ve not forgotten the terrible. It’s here. And, I won’t let negativity bias win. It’s not an either/or question. This life is a Beautiful Struggle.

Optimism, pessimism, or realism? This isn’t an interesting conversation for me. My questions revolve around: Is this big  ol’ human experiment going somewhere? And if so, is it worth it?

Is the salsa worth the messy kitchen?

My answer, so far in this life, is undoubtedly yes. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

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The blessing of the youngest

The youngest’s birthday passed without much remark due to circumstance; we spent the day like the previous 4 and the following 2, at the beach and in the pool with the family. We had celebratory (GF) brownies and he managed to get everything he asked for throughout the day. The following morning he attempted to extort something from his papa, and he was informed that it was no longer his birthday, so he couldn’t have everything he wanted.

This didn’t compute for the little guy, mainly because most of his life he gets what he wants.

These babies of the family . They’re something else. And I argue there’s a mathematical equation that relates the number of children in a family to the yountest-ness of the youngest. The baby of two simply doesn’t bear as much youngest-ness as does the baby of nine. I’m sure someone has written a thesis about this. And while someone with a Ph.D. can argue that the trend exists, I’ll pontificate on why it tends to be, at least as it has grown from my own experience.

As parents continue to have more children, we have to open up our hands (and our hearts) a bit more to make it all fit. So, naturally, we let go. Those firsts, we hold tightly.  The voice of our duty to love and protect rings in our ear. We want the best; we strive for it. We take in everything we can as we learn along the road of parenthood. We see things sitting along the side of the road and we put it in the garage “in case we need that someday” because we just don’t know what is coming along next. It’s likely we’ll parent our firsts all the way through in this manner.

As our youngests grow, we get more familiar with the terrain. We learn what we might need and what just gets too heavy to carry along. It’s like comparing our first trip to Disney last week, our backpack filled with all the “essentials” to my cousin, who makes multiple trips per year, and walks through the gate empty handed. He knows exactly what he’ll need in a day, and where to find it so that he doesn’t have to carry it along.

So in the experience of parenting our youngests, things get lighter. We still have the same desires to make things right and good for our children, to offer them the most opportunity and help them become the best humans they were created to be. Yet we also recognize that lugging along a spare of everything “just in case” won’t be what makes it happen. The day won’t be ruined because we didn’t bring a second tube of sunscreen, it will be ruined when we loose sight of the fun that exists without trying damn so hard.

And so goes parenthood. We won’t ruin our children because we didn’t do X, Y, and Z. I think our chances are much higher that their childhood becomes a negative experience when we carry the baggage of the shoulds, the musts, and the if-we-don’ts.

So, the baby of this family gets more of what he wants. (And let’s be honest. The little guy deserves to get a few privileges to make up for the the massive amounts of hand-me-downs he has had to, and will continue to, endure.) Now it matters less what he believes to be true when he gets to pick his own spoon rather than use the one I’ve given him. That’s a power struggle I no longer need to win, because I don’t carry the fear of being “wrapped around his finger.”  I’m making space to carry the parenting essentials for all of these children and the if-we-don’ts won’t fit in my pocket anymore.

Essentially, I fear less with the youngests. Fear is tiresome, and it has robbed me of too many beautiful moments with my firsts, and I don’t want it to get the best of my youngests.

I read an unattributed quote the other day that said, you can do things out of love or you can do things out of fear; but you cannot serve two masters. My parenting approach has shifted with more babies and much of this is because what I mistook for love was actually fear. And honestly, as I keep parenting my oldests, it continues to be the case. These unknown trails of raising humans are wrought with fearful moments and places. With every new developmental stage and age, I remember, once again, that I have no idea what I’m doing. (And I’m getting better of remembering that no one else does, either.)

As a human being, I’m wired for fear, to protect myself and my species, so there’s no shame in that. The gift of these youngests lies in familiarity, remembering that I need not to be afraid all of the time. Now I get to live – and parent – from a different place.  Instead of traveling with constant concern of what lies behind the bushes, I now get to walk the path of raising children with a bit more reverential beholding of the beauty of it all.

 

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