I’ve been keeping a secret.
Several years ago I took a look around me and discovered that so many of the women who are working to create positive movements were tired and worn. When I looked in the mirror I discovered that I was exhausted and defeated. I knew in my bones that any movement that takes the health, creativity, joy, and voice of a women couldn’t actually be creating lasting change.
In an act of desperation, I gave up everything I had ever thought to be true in exchange for anything that felt like peace. It was an experiment, of sorts, in leaning into what might be true.
I started taking bi-annual social media fasts (Advent & Lent). I allowed myself to be interrupted for prayer every three hours (The Hours). Every morning, I take a long walk outdoors (no matter the weather) and end it with an hour to myself for study and writing. I place my Common Prayer book on the alter of my kitchen counter to linger over the psalms (Lectio Divina). I go on quarterly retreat to Monasteries and surround myself with people nearby who encourage, support and lift me up.
My counselor, massage therapist, spiritual director, chiropractor, prioress and sage mentors keep me aligned. I drink plenty of water. I go to bed earlier, sleep in, and take naps when I need them. I eat protein and healthy fat until I’m satisfied. I move my body in ways that make me feel good. I take time to breathe.
In the beginning, it felt selfish and I wavered wondering if I was trading opportunity for wholeness. I often wondered what people might think if they knew I’d traded in the hustle and hurry for rest and renewal. What I discovered is that the spirits power is more available when I’m living into the care God intended for me. The ways we’re convinced that we have to compete and consume aren’t producing the fruit in our lives that we’ve been told they would.
When I show up healed and always circling back to wholeness the spaces I choose to enter, even when faced with challenges, leave me stronger, wiser, and more hopeful. One of the most powerful acts of resistance is to radically care for ourselves in the ways we want to care for others.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist