Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: alternative lifestyle (page 1 of 5)

All In

A few things that people who know me well will attest to:

  1. I hate cold and rain. I choose my OSU football game attendance based on these things.
  2. I’m a fair-weather runner. See above.
  3. I love food.

Based on the evidence above, my current state of bliss seems unmerited.

This week I’ve been taking on a seasonal reset, enjoying a mono-diet of kitchari and juice and little else. I even went All In and gave up the coffee and subsequently gave myself the side eye. Can I tell you about the first 2 days of such cleanliness of eating? Misery. Anger. Haze. Tiiiiirrrreeeeeddddd.

I reminded myself that everything is temporary, that I would soon eat foods I love again, and stopped checking Instagram. (Y’all post a lot of food. Please stop.) I ranted to all my closest (and even furthest) friends about my dissatisfaction.

Last night I turned a corner after the last dose of green juice. This morning I was slated to run hills for an upcoming half marathon for which I’m training trying to prevent myself from dying. It was 48°, overcast, and I hate running anything but a straight, flat line. Yet here I was, per my sister’s training instructions, running the same steep hill 10 times.

By hill #3 I was tired. And then, it started to rain. You guys. I hate cold and wet. Instead of quitting, like I wanted to do when denying myself a sandwich, I decided go All In.  To simply be present to each step. Instead of zoning out with daydreams and my music, I tuned into the push/pull action of my hamstrings and quadriceps. I told myself, “it’s just rain.” And eventually, it stopped. Or, I stopped noticing. To me, it’s the same thing.

 “What we discipline is not our “badness” or our “wrongness.” What we discipline is any form of potential escape from reality. In other words, discipline allows us to be right here and connect with the richness of the moment.” – Pema Chodron

I love this new take on discipline; I’m not just training myself to crave better things, though it is a delightful side effect. And I’m not just preparing my body to run faster or farther, although that, too, will come in handy on April 29. The discipline is to bring myself into my body, instead of believing everything my mind tells me, such as “this is hard” or “I’m going to dissipate if I don’t eat something else!”

The food I missed, the ease of flat trails – these are things I use to avoid feeling the moment. They’re familiar and I’m able to live on autopilot while I engage them. But limiting my intake (this week included the media and the social/emotional stimulus as well as food) gave me a chance to process. It had a chance to move through me, and I felt it. I couldn’t numb it with familiarity. And letting it go, working through it instead of around it, provided me new freedom.

I feel really good today. Sore, tired, and a tad hungry – but good. I’ve remembered what it was like to feel. I gifted myself the experience of now, knowing full well that now is fleeting.

This week has become a deeper glimpse into what I’ve meant by, “listen to the inner wisdom of your body.” The discipline goes beyond craving familiar and comforting and into the world of being present to what is real. Right here, right now.

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The Crack in the Middle

I went to bed before Ohio had even 1% precincts reporting and awoke to some minor chaos. My best commentary comes from Krista Tippett’s new book, Becoming Wise, in a section highlighting her interview with Francis Kissling:

“You have got to approach differences with this notion that there is good in the other. That’s it. And that if we can’t figure out how to do that, and if there isn’t the crack in the middle where there’s some people on both sides who absolutely refuse to see the other as evil, this is going to continue.”

This is our work. If your preferred candidate is going home or to the White House, change will only arise if we keep that crack in the middle, the people – of both sides – who refuse to see the other as evil.

Those who voted for Trump might be tempted to gloat and use victory of evidence of right-ness. Those who voted for Hillary or any other party might be tempted to question the moral character of their neighbor or our collective  nation. Both of these reactions create space in the mind to believe that the people we live with and among are not in some way good, which will get us nowhere. In another four years, we will find ourselves at the exact same place of divisiveness and anger.

Those who voted for the next president are not evil. Those who did not vote for the next president are not evil. In times of question, concern, frustration or celebration, the hardest place to be – and in my opinion, the most vital to humankind – is the crack in the middle.

 

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From Seed

We’ve always had at least a small patch of dirt to grow our tomatoes, our peppers, maybe a green bean or two. Last year we added cucumbers because JJ was determined to make a good clausen pickle – and he got very close. We’ve experimented with greens and broccoli, here and there. So, we’re not garden newbies.

Our new-to-us, for-nearly-one-year house came with a massive garden space. The plot had already been dug a few years ago, though when we moved in, it remained vacant. Last year we had to rely on farmer’s markets for anything fresh, and it would be an understatement to say that JJ’s disappointment in BLT season was massive.

So, this year we’re upping our game. Not only are we filling that vacant spot in the backyard, we’re starting it ourselves. That’s right. We’re growing from seed. And not just any ol’ seed packet from 3 years ago. We ordered heirloom packets from Baker Creek. We don’t mess around, no, we don’t mess around, nuh-uh. We purchased a few starter pots and a grow light, because we lack a good western-facing window.

JJ's garden mapping. He even researched which plants grow best together.

JJ’s garden mapping. He even researched which plants grow best together.

We had the kids fill the little pots with the fluffy organic soil and I carefully doled out a few seeds per pot, and marked them with painters tape on the cup, because we lacked foresight to buy those little stick-things, and – let’s face it – the odds of those being removed and used as a weapon runs pretty high in this house.

And then, we waited. And waited. Finally our onions (yes, onions! He thought he was getting starts, but no) gave us tiny slivers of green poking through the dirt. And then the tomatoes! We moved from the hotpad-prepped table to the light table. We even have alarms going off each morning and evening to remind us to water and move the pots around.

This growing stuff is serious business. We’re leaving overnight and have a little bit of concern about our sprouts. We check them regularly, and every time we see a new little stem, we celebrate. Right now, it’s a tad unfathomable what it will be like to pick a tomato that came from a plant that started as this teeny-tiny seed. There’s a certain amount of miracle, not only in our ability to keep these things alive, but in their inherit ability to grow and produce and to feed.

JJ said last night, “and just think about next year, after we collect the seeds from our own harvest and save them, and then start them again next year.” I think it’s akin what grandparenting might be like – watching this thing you grew, produce again and again.  You’re not at all in control, yet, without you, this life would cease to exist as we know it. We’re not the source. We can’t even “make” anything grow. Yet we’re vital to the entire process.

Of course, someone else, somewhere else, is growing perfectly “fine” little cherry tomatoes and banana peppers. We could always just let them do it. We can continue to go to the store and buy our imported romas, twice the size of the normal (because we Americans like everything “bigger and better”) and be on our merry little way.  Leaving it to the professionals is always an option.

When we continue to outsource, we don’t have to rearrange our lives. We don’t have to water and weed and pluck. And, for sure, you’re able to steer clear of the heartache of a bad season, a diseased favorite purple pepper, or the frustrations of a bug infestation. We can absolutely bypass the work of growth by buying it ready made. This is always an option.

So why do it?  And, as with gardening, so with life. Marriage, children, starting – or even working – a business. Why toil, strain and love?

I. Don’t. Know.

Except to say that in the process of growing something else, we reap a new kind of nourishment, one reserved for those who dig in wholeheartedly. This cannot be described with words, only by eating a tomato fresh from your garden. Or watching your child hit his first home run. Or standing beside your spouse as she accepts her Citizen of the Year award. Or hearing from a customer how you made her wedding the most beautiful day of her life. Or delivering yet another healthy baby. Or finding a donor to fund a cause that will change lives. Or helping someone find a home that will keep their family safe and warm, a respite from the world. Or helping a child write their first “book.”

There’s no reason to put in the hard work, other than the fact that hard work – whether it be with plants or people – blossoms and feeds you. It’s beautiful.

Obviously, I’m not mandating that every single person in the world must buy packets of seeds and set watering timers. This is simply our most recent peek into blessings of putting in the hard work. It helps me to answer the “why.” Why we don’t watch a ton of TV. Why we opt to bake bread instead of letting McDonalds fry it for us. Why we rearrange schedules so we can be with friends. Why we move to a small town for a lesser-paying job in exchange for nearby family.

We do hard things because they are good. Perhaps even better than easy things. Hard things give us a new sense of life and the enjoyment of it. There’s a certain beauty at discovering the connection between your soul and the rest of the universe. With a little love and attention, we can be a part of the process of creation, not just the consumption.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

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