Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: giving spirit (page 1 of 3)

The Subversive Act of Gratitude

For years I’ve been curious about Thanksgiving and the idea of gratitude. One of my earliest posts, Thankshaving, (which hilariously looks a lot like Thank-shaving instead of Thanks-having) attempted to parse through this. I’ve remained a student of this idea of gratitude for years. This year, I think I graduated to 8th grade in the subject, as I’ve begun to realize what a powerful act it can be to cultivate a sense of thankfulness in any situation.

Thanksgiving is the day we sit around the table and say what we’re thankful for, the stuff that we readily forget for the other 364 days of the year. Our homes, our families, and our jobs move high on the list because we often only complain about these things, but on Turkey Day, we are glad to have them and cannot imagine life without them.

On the 4th Thursday of the eleventh month, we corporately and individually declare what is right in our world. Hidden beneath our gratitude, we find a layer of acknowledgement that life isn’t perfect, and we still find space to be thankful for what is good. It’s our way of saying, what I have, and what I am, is enough. Maybe, even, (probably!) more than enough.

In our culture, one that tells us how we aren’t beautiful enough, or successful enough, or loving enough, this is a radical act. We’re led to believe that we’re constantly without enough time, money, friends, power, control, and love to be worthy of our existence, and yet, on a day full of White Carbs of Happiness, we have the power to look at the Black Friday ads and say, “liar.”

When you begin a month full of shopping from this posture, you hold all the trump cards, my friends. You can play the right and the left bower as you see fit. You are free to enjoy a month of giving and receiving because you get to do so as a response to – not a source of – gratitude.

No one really disputes the consumerism of our society, specifically in the month of December, yet it continues to progress. Some propose downplaying all the gifting, and taking a “minimalist” approach (which I appreciate and even integrate). But I’m not sure it actually gets to the root of it. It can slightly shift us from the financial burden and the overcrowding of our homes, but it doesn’t return us to center. Making enough holiday gifts can keep us in the same rat race of earning our worthiness as the old fashioned way of buying it. In fact, now it’s so trendy to reduce the holiday consumption that we’re adding more stress by needing to find that perfect amount to spend and give, so that it’s not too little or too much.

I’m really digging the idea that moving from gratitude will provide much more peace and joy to our Christmas season because we’re not trying to do it right. The perfect gift isn’t necessary, because we’re practiced in saying “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.” We’re moving from a place of enough. We already are enough, and any gift we give is just gravy on the taters (and stuffing and turkey).

This year, as the children write their wish lists and I start my Amazon (and local!) purchasing, I’m finding a new kind of excitement about the season. I can’t wait to look for the things my kids enjoy, and not because I need to provide them perfect presents or risk ruining their childhood. All of heaven knows they don’t need anything. Gratitude reminded us: we are enough. We have enough. We’re simply celebrating our enoughness, and the result is joy.

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Put your Prime to work for the good of humanity

Dear friends,

I have an idea. (I have a lot of those.) But this might be the best one yet. Actually, it’s much too good of an idea to be original to me, but I can’t say that anyone told me about it.  This involves online shopping and being a better neighbor. Also, it’s an excuse to upgrade to Amazon Prime.

So, our local shelters need things regularly – toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, tampons, socks, diapers – and we, the People of Good Intentions often know this and even remember it at the store from time to time, but lack the wherewithal to actually get it where it needs to go. Right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has lugged around a few cans of beans in the trunk for two months before shamefully adding it to her own pantry.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Call your your nearby resource center, food pantry or woman’s shelter to find out what their top needs are and if UPS can deliver to their site. (It’s always a good idea to ask if you can help.)
  2. Log into Amazon Subscribe ‘n Save.
  3. Choose 1 or 50 items you’d like to regularly offer your friends and neighbors who lack necessary resources. Check the center’s website for a list of current or ongoing needs. Note:  Prime members get an additional percent off and I know how you love to get a good deal.
  4. Decide how often you want them to ship. You can buy in bulk and send just 2-3 times a year or keep it consistent and send monthly.
  5. Create a new monthly subscription for these items and ship them direct. If you’re local, consider Open Door Resource Center at 212 W. Wyandot Ave. Upper Sandusky, OH 43351.

Follow up with your site to make sure your helpfulness is actually meeting a need or if you need to change your contribution in any way. (Maybe they don’t need 83 toothbrushes a month but they’re constantly out of socks. You won’t know unless you ask.)

This idea is totally transferable to Amazon Prime Pantry, where you can order items and ship for a flat fee. (Or, if you choose the no-rush shipping on your other purchases, you get to stockpile free Pantry shipping!) You lucky ducks living in cities with one-hour Prime delivery can even add the benefit of perishables, making meals more nutritious for those who need it most. Locals, consider talking to City Mission about their ongoing needs.

You can take this a step further and if you know a family who needs some help, you can ask what they need most and ship it to them. Diapers, formula, detergent – think of the things you gripe about most to your spouse when it comes to price and then buy those things.

And there you go. You’ve now become thoughtful without having to think. Or, as I prefer to think of it, continuously thoughtful but never forgetting.

(As a side note, when I get the email telling me that my shipment is about to sail, I like to say a little prayer for the recipients, just as I would if I had put it in my grocery cart.)

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The Magic Penny and the Ebook

I’m not sure how you most effectively avoid doing necessary work. In the midst of most stressful days or weeks, I tend to take on projects that don’t actually need to be completed. But reorganizing the kitchen utensil drawer or listing our favorite recipes in alphabetical order somehow gnaws at me until it’s done.

So, this week, while I moved my parents into a new house, took on a new work project and revisited my Yoga Teacher Training homework, I decided to author an ebook. Fortunately, it was written, just not created.

It’s a compilation of my most popular pieces of 2015. Maybe you’ve read them. Maybe you missed one. Maybe you’re a sucker for the word “free” and hoard books on your kindle (ahem, I’m looking at you Trevor). In any case, it’s available for you, for free. Because when I went to 4-H camp we sang a little song:

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

(The Magic Penny)

So, there you go. And here you go.  After you can sign up, it will arrive via email.  (No, I will not sell, give or otherwise disperse your email info, especially when I know you keep a special “junk mail” yahoo address for reasons such as this. Well, I might sell it,  if someone offers me One Million Dollars.)

 

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