Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: comfort (page 1 of 5)

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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Weeds

I spent a considerable amount of time this week among the Lamb’s Ear in the garden. Here’s what you might not know about this common plant:

  1. It has herbal remedy properties. My herbalist sister calls it “nature’s band aid” because it’s able to adhere to your cut or scrape to keep it clean.
  2. It’s prolific. It has flourished under my black thumb.
  3. It’s actually quite beautiful. It has a silvery look and is soft to the touch. The blooms are also attractive.
  4. Some would classify it as a WEED.

There’s a class of people who turn their noses at the Lamb’s Ear, and after such work of getting rid of it, I might join the club. I’m pretty certain the previous owners of the house planted the flower in a few places as part of the landscaping, yet I’ve spent hours yanking it out by the handfuls.

More than once, I’ve wondered who gets to decide whether a plant is, indeed, a weed or worthy cultivation in a flower bed. I mean, who had it in for the dandelion? Ask any 5-year-old and they would tell you that it’s a complete atrocity to believe the sun-headed flower could be such a nuisance.

I decided the line between flower and weed gets crossed when you no longer have the ability to keep it where you want it to grow. It gets out of order. It might even take over.

A plant goes from desired landscaping to pesky intruder when the gardener is no longer in charge. It might be beautiful. It’s probably helpful in some way. You might even really like it. But it gets out of control. And keeping it around means more rewardless work than beauty and enjoyment.

I have to wonder how many of us keep proverbial gardens full of weeds in our lives. It’s probably something we originally planted with purpose, but it grew uncontrollably, perhaps to the extent that it’s overgrowing a beloved rose bush. This thing in your life: it could be beautiful. It’s probably helpful. And you might even really like it. But it’s out of control.

Sometimes a plant is a flower. Sometimes it’s a weed. How do you know the difference? Check the health of the plants around it. And ensure you have space to walk – if you cannot even move about, to enjoy it’s beauty, what’s the good of keeping it around?

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That kind of family

I keep vivid memories of the experience of loosing my grandparents when I was 13 and 17. I remember the hospital room, the waiting. I remember watching the shoulders of grown men rise and fall as they cried. Mostly, I remember love. I remember the intense feeling of love for a person, and for one another.

In the days that followed, I remember more sadness, but mostly an experience of my family coming together. The cousins practically slumber partied for three days as we endured the funeral process. When it was all over, dad handed the keys of the van to Tim and we went to a matinee and out for Pizza Hut. (Brief sidenote: we thought we were hilarious when we sent Kevin in to get a table, as the hostess asked “Just one?” and he responded, “no, 11.” It really wasn’t that funny, but we rolled with laughter in the parking lot.)

Growing up, we had plenty of opportunities to be together. We spent countless hours at the lake, we had holidays, overnights and even family trips to watch the horse races. We weren’t strangers who suddenly bonded together. The ties that had held us were pulled tighter, like the shoe wedgies of 6th grade.

The moments of grief taught me: this is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

As children and even young adults, at funeral moments in life, we were carried and cared for. We helped choose the music and looked through pictures, but the adults did the heavy lifting up of one another. They bore the weight of loss together. The children were able to simply be sad and move through the grief; the adults were living a different reality, accepting a new way of life without someone they loved so very much.

Now, we find ourselves at a new place. With the passing of my Uncle Bill, we have the first of the next generation to leave us. This time, there’s no even ground. With grandparents, the adult siblings make the decisions and the kids come along for the ride. Now we have adult siblings and adult children and adult cousins and, by the way, none of us feel ready to be those kinds of adults..

When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday night to say farewell to the orneriest man to walk the streets of Ridgeway, everyone was there. The cousins and spouses who weren’t tending children were beside our uncle, holding up our cousins and our fathers. We just showed up. (And, ordered pizzas.)

This is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

I don’t like that we’re suddenly in this place. I don’t like seeing people I love in mourning. I don’t like my own sadness in missing my uncle. I don’t even really like the idea that I’m a grown up in these situations.

But I love my family. I love that we’re here, no matter what. I love that when we hurt, we hurt together. And I love that when it comes to this new phase of life, this place where we grieve on uneven scales, we’re still doing it as a family.

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