Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: August 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Why I Quit Math

When my oldest was born, we had a brief (largely unnecessary, IMHO) stay at the NICU. When he was cleared of his most pressing concern, it took us a while to get out of the hospital. The nurses and doctors were measuring every diaper and what filled it. They were weighing him hourly (he was born a healthy weight). While the nurses could tell me that he wasn’t hungry because he was content, sleeping, not fussing, the protocol said to measure, measure, measure. I left convinced that the hospital community would measure anything that could be attached to a number.

I’m not saying all metrics are a bad thing – far from it. My friend E has convinced me that there is a level of accountability available through our number games that must exist for the well-being of all people. But take a quick look at our society and you see us math-ing all the time. Calories burned & consumed. Test scores. Profit margin. Miles logged.

Not long ago a professional athlete posted his disdain for participation trophies. While I also think paying for little trinkets of shiny plastic is a tad silly (another post, another time), his comments revealed the ethos of our culture: We’re addicted to outcomes. We need to know how we measure up. Where do we fall in the bell curve? If I’m not Top Dog, how close am I and did enough people  fall below me that I’m still in the upper tier?

If you’re running a business or a professional sports team, this is perhaps a helpful inquiry. But do you know where it doesn’t compute?


Let me be clear my friends: in all my study, all my understanding of Scripture, all my time pondering the ways of God, it has never once come up that God takes all of humankind, lines them up according to salary, athletic prowess, months they successfully breastfed, BMI, or GPA. And if He did decide to rank us according to an asinine category, he certainly wouldn’t take only the top third with him to the pearly gates.

God doesn’t parcel out his love to the top performers. He does not hold a draft and there are no tryouts. If you want in, you’re in. If you want a fun little weekend project, read the gospels (or pick your favorite) and start counting the number of times the failures, the not-enoughs make it into Jesus’ roster. This isn’t just Good News that your imperfections don’t count against you – it’s Good News that you can stop comparing your best efforts to everyone else’s.

You don’t have to watch what everyone else is doing to know you’re worthy of love.

If you’d like another fun little reading project, start digging into the New Testament and make tally marks when you come across phrases like “what matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (Ephesians 5:6, MSG) or “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (I John 4:16).

So just stop. Stop adding. Stop averaging. If you want to become better at something because it makes your life better, than by all means – do it. Live life fully and stop half-assing what is important to you. The girl that keeps a Life Plan with 100 Year Goals will tell you there’s nothing wrong from wanting to extract every opportunity from this one blessed lifetime. But don’t use your improvement metrics as an argument to why you are loved, by others or by God. God doesn’t do a lot of math.

True love is attached to who you are, not what you’ve achieved. If you try to put love on a curve, remember that no one aced the test and we’re all getting a little boost in our performance. You cannot line up love from greatest to smallest, but if you try, remember that God is always partial to the least and last.

So may you stop adding and averaging your accomplishments as a means to feel worthy. May you sink your efforts and energies into loving and living well.

“Since this is the kind of life we have chose, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

-Galatians 6:25-26

*This post was strongly influenced by Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and the chapter on Scarcity. Read it.

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Currently Saving Me: Leftovers

Let’s talk about one of my favorite things: food! (Also on that favorite things list is books, wine, and book clubs. It appears that everything on my favorite things list can be found at a book club. Fancy that.)

One of the ways I have managed to save my sanity at least once a week is by strategic use of leftovers. Seriously, some grilled chicken and a pot of rice are the best. things. ever. I know, I know, most people have a house full of people who “hate leftovers” so, in my wisdom I started becoming quite the sneaky snake. I disguised my leftovers as A NEW DISH.

First, chicken. Who doesn’t love that bird? I started saving major money when I began slicing the boobs into 3 pieces. The  FDA recommends that a serving size of chicken be the size of a deck of cards, but the average size of a grocery-store-procured breast is at least 3 times that (especially when you account for thickness). I  began slicing before cooking and adding more veggies to the table. Now we get more mileage out of a package of meat.

I have JJ put the entire package on the grill at once, even though it’s enough for 2 meals. As soon as it comes in, I sneak a few away and put them in the fridge before they even arrive on the table.

The next day, I take those few breasts, slice them, and add a bit of BBQ sauce as I warm it in the oven. While it’s warming, I chop a nice salad of romaine, cabbage, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, sometimes a few black beans and corn. I heap the salad on the plates, top with warm BBQ chicken and crunch a few tortilla chips on top. Slather that stuff in ranch and you have your kids eating salad as the entree. Reward yourself aptly with a glass of wine. I served this dish to my neighbor boy who “doesn’t really like salad” and he had 3 bowls.

The other big leftovers-not-leftovers dish of our home is Chicken Fried Rice. My household eats pinto beans & rice (with chips, salsa, and on a good day, guac) for lunch at least once a week, so when we do I make at least 1-2 cups extra rice. This double-wins because fried rice made from fresh rice tends to get smushy. (That’s a technical kitchen term). Leftover rice holds its shape and fries nicely.

On day 2, I use a bit of oil (with a dash of sesame oil if you keep it handy) to saute an onion,  a few cloves garlic (minced), 2-3 chopped carrots,  and a couple stalks celery. When soft, I shove those aside and fry an egg (it’s helpful to add more oil). After the egg is scrambled into the mix (and cooked appropriately), I add in the cold rice and a good handful of frozen peas. Drizzle a few tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce) on that and toss in a small can of cooked chicken. (If you’re on top of your game, use another bit of the leftover grilled chicken. But the canned shredded chicken gives it a feel like the Chinese restaurants.) You’re just waiting until the rice and chicken and peas are warm before you put it in the bowls for dinner. Seriously, the entire dinner takes maybe 20 minutes and mostly involves chopping. Easy-peasy.

So, good readers, I’m begging you: how do you transform leftovers into a new meal? Don’t horde the wisdom! (Make sure you put it in the bloggy comments, not on Facebook – a few fine friends don’t ever see it posted over there and they’ll miss the secrets).

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Brick by brick

Last December, I sent JJ to New Orleans to the Sugar Bowl as his Christmas present. I totally won Wife of the Year with that one, and this year he’ll probably get a new tie, but for those 4 days, I was Wonder Woman. (And my dad, Superman, as he was integral at securing tickets and lodging.)

The morning he was to fly out, I woke up unable to walk straight. I was literally slamming into walls while trying to walk downstairs while dizzy. It was the strangest thing ever. My yoga instinct told me to do a headstand, so I did, and it totally reset my brain. I was able to walk without ramming my shoulder into the doorway. This continued to happen every morning while JJ was gone. When he came home, it stopped.

Right before we left on vacation – in the midst of preparing to move – it happened again. Needless to say, stress tends to manifest itself in my brain. (If you know me well – fancy that!) I get dizzy with the demands of the world in the most literal way. 

I shouldn’t be surprised, then, when I woke up at 4am and the clock seemed to be spinning across the room. This week my husband begins a new job, my children begin at a new school, I brought home a pile of books for my study of yoga, we spent time last night talking about what it will take for us to begin to create stronger friendships in our new place, and today I have to take all 4 kids to a new health provider and then spend some time in the office where I now work [very] part time.

It’s a lot.  I’m sure you can also recite a similar list, yes?

In order to snap my world back upright, I began using the mantra One Thing. I told myself this over and over. I can only do the next right thing. One thing at a time. One. When I try to do more than that at once, I tend to make a mess. So, I must do one thing. The next thing. Not all of the things. And, at 4 am, I was to do none of the things.

If our life has been a building project for the past several months, which it feels like, then I have largely been playing the role of General Contractor. I keep referring to the plans, trying to order the work to happen in correct sequence, making sure everybody has the correct tools and forms. I know the blueprint well – I have a good idea of what a beautiful life might look like.

But do you know what it takes to build a beautiful house of life? It takes the work of building it brick by brick by brick. All the most beautiful plans in the world won’t make the house appear. Layering bricks & mortar will make the house.

My study of scripture has strongly influenced my idea of what the house should look like. I know I want rooms of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I want the rooms made bigger by putting others before my own gratification. Thanks to what God has laid out before me, I have an idea of what I’m aiming for in my building project.

Yoga, to me, today, (because I retain the right to change all opinions later) is a tool I’m using to build it, brick by brick. Yoga, at its center, is about noticing. Mindfulness. Not just when flipped upside down in the literal headstand, but also from my bed at 4 am. It’s the tool that helps me pack lunches with love or wrangle children into the air condition-less van for trips to the doctor’s office with peace and kindness. Not that this happens all the time – but the noticing will help it to happen at least more often.

Yoga has been  helping me notice and bring intention to the moments of life that will actually build this house of life. The only way these walls will be infused with the sense of love and goodness that I hope for is to put it there between each brick. (Or, for another theology, if I invite God to put it there between each brick.) In any case, I’m beginning to believe that it shows up not by chance, but by intention – and our part necessitates noticing before the presence of good and holy things will have the power to transform us.

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.”

-Galatians 6:25, MSG

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