Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: beautiful life (page 1 of 29)

From those who don’t run

I finally went on a run yesterday, the first in several weeks. I felt the time off in my glutes, in my hip flexors, in my lungs. I managed to get 4 miles, but the 3rd one wasn’t pretty. For some reason, I was feeling sensitive to it all, and a truck of farmers in the distance induced a round of shame. I could envision them yelling out the window, “Go faster!” as they laughed and drove by.

The truck actually went the other direction and the scenario remained imaginary. I questioned myself on why this thought had arisen; what was behind this fear?

Then I had a greater realization: the kind of people who yell from trucks at runners are generally the kind of people who don’t run.

I know runners and the running crowd. If they’re saying something to someone propelled in a forward motion, it’s always encouragement and never shame inducing. They’ve had these kinds of mornings, where the feet slog and the lungs gasp. They’ve felt the frustration and the disappointment, which seems to multiply with humidity. When you’ve been there, you know better than to tease about it. Runners know that lacing up is always harder than sitting on the couch. There’s no shame in doing the hard thing.

arenaI’ve read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly about 3 times now (likely, soon a 4th) and she refers to a speech by Roosevelt in 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The voices of those driving by – often the imaginary ones – always seem to be the loudest. Words spoken as if they come from knowledge, but often a reflection of personal fears and failures. The image of knowledge comes from a generalized perception, a recitation of facts. True wisdom has legs and has walked the course, so the words are fewer and truer.

Whatever your arena, I hope you hear the difference between the voices of the critics flying by and those who have done the work. May you know which ones to value.

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The cockroach in the pasta

Imagine you’re eating a bowl of freshly made  pasta in the countryside of Italy at a cozy restaurant where grandma handed down the recipe from her own grandmother to the chef. The local wine complements the meal and the sun begins to set while dinner is prepared. The food arrives to your table, beautifully plated with basil, and you sort of want to immerse your entire face into the deliciousness of the meal.

And then a cockroach drops down from the rafters and into your personal paradise. Right onto the pesto-laden fork.

By all logical standards, your meal is ruined. If the maitre’d were to suggest you simply pluck the cockroach from the plate and continue on, I’m guessing you would demand a refund and head down the street for gelato.

As I heard on a podcast recently, this is negativity dominance. The bad of the cockroach overpowers the good of the pasta, and perhaps even the good of the wine, the sunset, and the entire evening. But why?

Well, cockroaches are gross and humans shouldn’t ingest them. Nor should we ingest anything that a cockroach has put its grubby little feet upon, because they may have walked in poo. These rules about food keep us healthy, and, for our ancestors, alive. “Don’t eat pasta that cockroaches walk in” is solid advice.

But what if that advice has a limited context? What if the badness doesn’t always ruin everything?

Often we approach life as if we have a bowl of pasta and our trials and challenges are cockroaches. We render the entire meal worthy only of the trash if a trace of badness gets into our good.

We have a home, but it gets a leaky roof or the garage door stops working? Total loss. We married a perfectly delightful human, but she refuses to scour the bathtub? Misery.  Of course, we don’t regularly give up on big things like houses and marriages because of minor inconveniences, but we do often notice only these things. The goodness in front of us has been tainted with badness and, much like our bowls of pasta, we want to render the whole thing un-stomachable.

In Jesus’ parables, he teaches about things like farming and food. One time he told people that a guy he knew planted a field full of good wheat, but in the middle of the night, the guy he beat in the 100m dash in high school thought he’d take revenge and planted a bunch of weeds in the field. It all started growing at the same time and the farmhands thought maybe they should go out and weed the whole acre. The farmer said, “Nah. We’ll sort that in the barn, after the harvest.”

Jesus said the farmer’s fear was overzealous weeding. “In pulling up the weeds, you might take out some of the wheat.” The bad grows with the good. It doesn’t have to ruin it. We have to let the good continue  to grow.

In our efforts at health and generally staying alive, a negativity dominance has been helpful. Yet as it pertains to humanity, I think less dualism – either/or, only/but thinking – might render a more meaningful and satisfying life. Things can be both terrible and wonderful. Normal and holy. A field can have weeds and wheat.

Humans are not static, cooked pasta. We’re dynamic, living beings. Pasta is what it is, changed only by outside forces. Humans grow, often bearing only a faint resemblance to how we began.  What might become bad or good is often yet to be determined, so unlike the pasta, we don’t need to throw out what is in front of us – be it that which greets you in the mirror or that which sits across the table – because of blemish or impurity.

Our lives have enough space for the good and the bad: our challenges, struggles and griefs don’t have to render the whole thing to the trash.

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Moms of Little League, Huddle Up

Ladies, come in close and chat. I’d like to toss this out there before the first at bat, so everyone knows I’m not reacting (or over-reacting, depending on the critic). If I mention this now, I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, I’m only tossing it out the wider public. (Also, this is not just for the ladies. I simply know that in 2/3 of American households, the women do the grocery shopping. Gents, you’re welcome to the conversation.)

Now, can we talk about the event showcase of the post-game snack?

First, the drinks. I just have to get this off my chest. We do not need to balance the electrolytes of an 8-year-old who spent 2 hours standing in right field on a chilly May evening. Can we please stop believing the marketing that Gatorade has ingeniously embedded in our psyche? These are not high performance athletes, they’re children. Water! Water is the choice of athletes, even the top tier ones. Water stations are by far more popular among the race routes I’ve encountered.  If you really feel the need to go crazy, maybe a juice box could suffice because at least it came from an actual fruit.

Please, my friends. Don’t be fooled by the commercials. Drinking the fake-sugar, fake-colored glorified kool-aid does not make a kid a better athlete, any more than dressing him in Under Armor amplifies his performance. If we’re going to drink the stuff or wear the stuff, let’s do so in the name of enjoyment and not be driven by this idea that we can buy stuff that makes us into who we want to be.

And also. (Yes, there’s more.) I’m all for a good celebration. Life is precious, so please commemorate the occasions. I don’t think we celebrate (truly celebrate) enough in our culture, mostly because we’re too busy to slow down and savor life’s beauty. So do things to remember significant events – please. This may mean cupcakes or champagne or slightly more expensive attire. Do it.

AND. When something happens twice a week, this is not a “special occasion.” This is a schedule. Your turn to supply the post-game snack is not a celebratory event. It’s a treat the little guys can enjoy, but doesn’t require confectionary genius. Personally, I think a Hostess cupcake goes overboard. Can we try a few orange slices? For those to crunched for time to do any slicing, a whole cutie works just fine. For those Pinterest moms who just need to make it their own, make some sort of edible joy out of peanut butter, celery, carrots, raisins, bananas or apples. Get as cutsie as you wish. But can we all aim for food that is grown, not made in a factory? You’ll spend the same $7 on fruit as you will on a package of snack-sized Doritos.

Ok, team. Here we go: another season. If we work together we can give our kids a delightful experience of chasing catching fly balls, hitting home runs, and celebrating hard work. But it doesn’t have to be a freaking birthday party after every single game, twice a week, for a month and a half. Let’s actually encourage their physical health by filling them with the nutrients they need to grow  instead of the sugar treats disguised as something more.

I feel better now. Love to all. See you at the ball field.


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