Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Page 3 of 302

Leaving the Homeland

Remember when I wrote about how we need to live and work not just according to our strengths, because those other places will eventually need strengthened? Well, this is why: Soccer season.

This year the biggest 3 decided to play, which many people would celebrate and I at least pretend to. But now the reality has set in, and I’m delivering children to a soccer field every night of the week during the prime of Jr. High football season, rendering JJ useful only to other people’s children.

I know this is no new news to most people with a child over the age of 5. This is the way the world of big kids works. You shuttle, you shuffle, you keep lawn chairs in your trunk and you beg your mother-in-law to help ferry children about in exchange of promises of the best nursing home someday. (A long time away, someday.)

And I know most people can roll with this climate. They do not understand why I would have an existential crisis over knowing when to feed my children dinner. Ah, but they are not raised in the Wingfield Way: Making simple decisions challenging, since, forever.

If I ask three Why’s (which continues to be one of the best bits of wisdom for getting to the actual issue), it’s not about dinner or time in the car, or even the pace at which our August and September is charting. I’m staring down at newness, and a little bit of grief.

After a million years of experience having a thousand little ones in my home, day after day, my life is shifting significantly this year. While I dance in celebration of a few days of peace to get actual work done, this new land of bigger kids is foreign. You’re asking a mom with top notch sippy-cup filling experience to know how to consistently arrive on time for pick ups and drop offs, which is the equivalent of asking a music teacher to take over the phys ed program. Of course it can be done, but not without practice and patience and instruction and a bit more patience.

In a million ways, I love Big Kid Land. The oldest two are a whole lot of fun right now; I love seeing their personalities and interests and the way they see and experience the world. I love that they want to try new things. I don’t bemoan the next stage. It’s not bad, it’s different. The newness is still so shiny, I can barely look at it directly.

But there’s something about the place where you began, in little kid world. I see mamas nursing babies and think, awww, me too! only to realize it’s been four years since I’ve had to unsnap at the sound of a whimper. I’m not actually in that place anymore.

I’ve been shipped to a new land, and I only speak small phrases of the language, and “donde esta el bano” is “which field are we going to?” My native tongue is only useful in small neighborhoods around me. Now I must learn a new language, new customs and ways of interacting with society. I get messages from coaches saying, “this is a travel team. We have home and away games, as far as Arcadia,” and I feel like I need a translator.

Growing up is terribly hard, and I think it only gets more challenging as we get older. Growing up as an adult is simply the worst. We’re not as flexible as we used to be, we have our habits and our ways which can be helpful but also can slow us down. But if we’re living, we’re growing. Sameness shouldn’t be our goal, for we will be sorely disappointed and miss out on new beauty with our narrow direction.

Here’s to us, mamas (and daddy’s), learning and growing beside those we’re raising. May we have grace with ourselves. May we have an openness to the new and unknown. May we receive the blessings of a new stage and a new land with gratitude and joy.

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.

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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