Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 183)

New with Tags

It’s yard sale season, the perfect occasion to score a new-to-you anything. Sometimes you can tell the set of golf clubs has been well-used and the owner is exchanging his “starter set” for a better brand. The best finds, however, are the NWT (new with tags) items. These are the things purchased with the highest intent. Maybe it’s some sort of ab gadget or an entire Bowflex lifting system. A set of pastels with the one included canvas missing. A 10-year-old snowboard which kept its sheen thanks to an expensive case and little time on the slopes.

Garage sales, be it the online FB version or the old fashioned stop-on-the-side-of-the-road sort, tell the stories of our best intentions which fizzled.

In talking to a friend about wanting to rediscover her artistic talents, she revealed she missed pottery. She wanted to buy a wheel and a kiln to rekindle the habit of creating. I asked her if she ever took a community class when it was offered, or spoke with the local art teacher about getting access to materials before taking on a costly and space-consuming attempt.

“No, I just figure that if I have the things in my home, that I’ll use them more often. It’s so much work to try to get to a class or a studio.”

I anticipate my friend will become not a potter, but an owner of a potter’s wheel.

Not to dismiss the need for the appropriate gear before setting out to try a new hobby, but our garages tend to give us a glimpse into our society’s approach to change. We try to better ourselves by buying something for ourselves. We mistake consumption for transformation.

I heard once that any problem that can be solved by throwing money at it isn’t a very interesting problem. I believe the theory to hold true as it pertains to our personal growth. If a bigger budget would make you the person you wanted to be, I’m just going to say, you won’t be a very interesting person.

Money, and subsequently, stuff, makes things easier. We like easy. But rarely does easy equate to good. Quicker? Easy can do that. Cheaper? Easy can get behind that one, too. Easy cannot give depth, however, or longevity. It doesn’t bring about change that lasts.

The writer who will lock herself in the closet at 5am with pen and paper when a laptop isn’t available is a writer. The gal with the Macbook Pro sitting on her desk with a few scribbled notes about the next big book idea is an owner of a Macbook Pro.

The guy who laces up in the middle of winter because he needs to get in 10 miles is a runner. The guy with brand new Under Armor fleece lined compression pants sitting in his drawer owns nice running gear.

We are not a sum total of our stuff. Our character is revealed in how we live. As Annie Dillard said, “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” What we keep in our garage, basement or closet has only the smallest influence on those things.

Visit me elsewhere:

Promises, promises

My educational background provided me with a public relations mind, so I get it. I know the “felt need” element of selling anything. I realize that often in this world we simply need to give people a reason before they care, specifically before they care enough to take action.

Seeing how this is my training and often a part of my job(s), I regularly hate myself.

The problem with felt-need based promotion is professionals actively work to make you feel like you’re not enough. The entire process is creating a ____-sized hole, which you come to believe can only be filled by what the promotion offers. In order to be enough, you need a faster car, a bigger home, more shiplap, less bodyfat, more probiotics, less plastics, and perfect children.

(My least favorite explanation that advertisers give for you making these purchases: “You deserve it.” While I do think you’re indeed a fantastic person, why do we cling so tightly to this earning-based mentality? But that’s another post.)

An article shared by my teacher’s teacher (My grand-teacher? My upline? I lack the vocabulary here.)  added to this notion, specifically in how this is experienced in the fitness and health industry:

I don’t care about elite performance, but I do care tremendously about living long enough to know my grandchildren. I care deeply about having a solid quality of life and aging gracefully. I want my later years of life to be filled with beautiful memories of close friends and family and not full of doctor visits, endless bottles of pills, and long hospital stays. I want to take long walks on the beach when I’m 80, holding hands with my husband without being afraid of falling down. I want a tribe who cares about that. (-Michael Keeler)

I won’t say we’re all perfect just the way we are. It’s a both/and situation. We are enough, and we have work to do. We’re not finished. And the needs we feel? They’re real. Our humanness means we feel, we think, we grow. It is the nature of the universe to expand, and thus we won’t reach some state of doneness.

You see, many people (myself as one) are not interested in all the shortcuts to meet our actual needs. Six-pack abs are a superficial means of striving for acceptance and worth. Marketers want you to believe that a gorgeous midsection yields likability, but truth be told, I know plenty of people who have a rockin’ bod and are still assholes.

These real needs cannot be solved by a purchase for $49.95. It takes more than the right exercise or pair of pants – it takes time, energy, and a personal investment. These needs are only met with change; a change that happens below the surface of appearance.

I believe the heart of the author’s letter to the fitness industry was saying, I want change. I’m ready to do the work. Please help me. Until any of us get to that point, we’ll just be thinner (and probably poorer) versions of our same self, with the same needs lingering below the surface.

So here’s my disclaimer. Perhaps I’ll include it as fine print on all my “promotional” materials (because, ultimately, somehow, I have to tell you the options I’m offering to help you along the way): my yoga classes, my written ideas and thoughts – they will not change your life. Only you can do that. 

It comes from within, my friends. It’s a well that doesn’t run dry, but only you can do the digging. I’m trying to be the kind of person who can hand you a shovel and bring you a beer, because that’s what I’m looking for as I do my own digging.

Carry on, my friends.

Visit me elsewhere:

Locked into habits

I locked my keys in my van last week. For the second time. When I drove my trusty Odyssey, I cannot recall a single time that I had the keys on the wrong side of the locked door, but in just a few months I’ve managed to be dependent on AAA and a nearby friend to get back in the driver’s seat.

The function of my Toyota is no different than my Odyssey; both have “clickers.” (This is how all people refer to the keyless entry, right? “Clicker?” Related: my family never looked for the “remote control” but rather we had a “flipper” that, you know, flipped through the channels. I have a dialect unique to my upbringing.)

On both occasions of zealous locking, after I arrived at my destination, I put my keys in my purse. My keys have a home in a little side pocket. My habit is to put them into their pocket, put my purse on my shoulder and hit the lock on the door on the way out. I’m too impatient to wait on the sliding doors to shut before using the clicker to lock up.

On the days in question, after mindlessly putting my keys in my purse, I decided I didn’t need the huge bag and only grabbed my wallet. As my door shut, I literally said out loud (on the phone, which is another factor in the equation): I just locked my keys in my car. I knew it before I was 5 steps away.

I’m fascinated by the way our habits serve us. I’m a creature of habit: I love rhythm and order. I complete many of the same tasks, in the same way, each day. I can be in and out of the shower in 5 minutes because I have an order (wet hair, shampoo, soap up, rinse shampoo, condition, shave, rinse conditioner) and it requires zero thought. I can easily pull together a dinner from my top 5 meals (vegetable soup, kitchari, fried rice, chicken soak, sloppy joes)  without giving it focus because my habits serve me well.

Yet there are ways – spaces in our lives – in which our habits don’t serve us. Such as the way in which I’m unable to pull dates from my memory bank because I’m completely dependent on my visual (paper!) calendar. I have taught myself to give zero brain space to times, days or dates because once it’s written down, it’s dismissed from my brain. If you ask, “hey what are you doing next Tuesday? Want to go to London with me to see Adele for free?” I would STILL have to look at my calendar to see if the youngest goes to preschool that day.

So much of the ways we live our lives come down to the smallest tendencies to which we give little thought. The order you run errands, the process of putting kids to bed, how we open a car door and slide into the seat (ask your chiropractor if that one has consequence!).

Sometimes, habits fail us. Our mindless dependency, while advantageous in the broad sweep, kicks us when we’re not paying attention.

How often do we call into question our habits? Not just the way in which we complete tasks, but our patterns of thinking and believing as well? Do we really believe a particular idea, or have we created a habit of thought and operate from that framework? Is that way of thinking still serving us and helping us grow?

What if our habitual thoughts are actually hindering relationships, opportunities for meaningful work, or new experiences? If my starting belief is that anything fun costs too much money (because, for a family of 6, it seems everything costs too much money), then I will continue to shut down on requests to try new activities – and in the meantime, completely miss out on the joy of discovering a new park or finding a trail. The knowledge that things are often expensive for large families will serve me, but depending on that habit to make our decisions will cut us off from experiences of delight.

So in my next moment of frustration, conflict or disappointment, I wonder how it would look to ask what habit am I depending upon right now? What is the underlying pattern of behavior or thought? And if I prefer a different outcome – say, perhaps, to stop locking my keys in the car – what new habit might be formed that could better serve my situation?

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts

© 2017 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑