Monday, February 6, 2012

One Pack of mentos and a Funeral

This weekend was very full.  Full of emotions, full of old friends, full of football, full of eating, full of playing.  
Full of reflection. Very, very full.

There was a funeral.  I am not very comfortable with funerals, but I am guessing most people aren't.  This funeral was different.  It was full of joy, which was the favorite word of my friend who died.  She had cancer so she was able to plan her own funeral, right down to the versions of the Bible she wanted used for specific readings. 

On my way to the church I bought a pack of mentos.  It was a little reminder of joy to keep in my purse.  You see years ago at another funeral, my grandfather's, it was a sad, awkward scene.  He died suddenly.  I went to the funeral, but was terrified because I hadn't spoken to my mother in almost three years and she was going to be there, it was her father.  

The funeral was at a small church in Alabama.  My grandmother was beside herself with grief.  My mother was being helped into the church by her then husband.  She was wailing.  My sister was humming the theme to Rocky in my ear to give me the guts to go inside.  And my then fiance and now husband, Tim, was thinking what the f@#* did I get myself into.  You see this funeral was the first time he was meeting most of my family, including my mother.

With quite a bit of wailing and uncomfortableness, we got through the service and went to the luncheon.  My mother was drugged (of course) and acting strangely (of course).  She took Tim's face in her hands and said "Your fiance hates me."  Niiiiiice.  Just when I thought I was going to meltdown, my sister's husband leaned over and said, "Hey you want some mentos, it is the freshmaker?"  

Now it may not seem funny to you.  But it was one of those family moments that becomes a ridiculous tradition.  Because it broke the tension, it made us laugh.  The laughter helped.  The silliness helped.  It was joy.  Every funeral since, I take a pack of Mentos and when things get too intense, I have a piece of the fresh maker.

This past weekend was no different.  I bought my mentos and went to the funeral.

What was indeed different was the joy I felt when I left the service and the luncheon.  I felt inspired, as my friend's sister said at the service, to "choose joy, catch joy, reach out and take it; magnify joy."

And yes people, joy can even be found in mentos. Get out there and grab that joy.

Staying fresh, staying cool.

Classic Foo Fighters bring me joy too.

I taught a class in church on Sunday about JOY-dedicated it to my friend and used SoulPancake for some ideas.  Check out my cool agenda below.

Slowing Down and Making Moments Memories
JOY-a class dedicated to finding JOY in our lives in honor of Jeanne Gable
Week 3: JOY-What’s It To Ya?
What is it?  Where is it?  How do we get it?
Soul What? SoulPancake by that guy from The Office.
  1. Inspiration and materials for this week’s class were stolen, I mean inspired by the book, the web site and the Youtube channel SoulPancake.  And yes, the book was written by Rainn Wilson from the sitcom The Office.  
-The book urges you to explore philosophy, creativity, spirituality, love, truth, science and so much more. With bold questions, intriguing challenges and mind-bending art, SoulPancake creates a space for you to stimulate your brain stem, spark your soul and figure out what it means to be human. In other words, 
the book has an artsy/joy-filled way of making introspection fun and cool looking.  Who doesn’t want to be fun and cool?
-There are amazing short films, like two minutes short, on their YouTube channel and that are aired on OWN on Sunday mornings.  These people came up with DanceWalk, 
it’s good.  Seriously. Ch-ch-check it out.
   2. Me and Brad Pitt.  And JOY/Happpiness.
-It’s not what you think, not that I know what you’re thinking, what were you thinking?  
Okay anyway, here’s the is good but I personally have to agree with the very 
wise Brad Pitt on idea of “perpetual happiness.”
“This idea of perpetual happiness is crazy and overrated, because those dark moments fuel you for the next bright moments; each one helps you appreciate the other. We are all searching for meaning in our lives, love and betterment for ourselves and those around us.”
-But the great thing about joy and happiness, when we are ready to be in that moment and accept it, it’s there, everywhwere.
Exercise Finding Joy Lesson 1-
Art is Everywhere, Look Around and Soak it Up
  1. The power of art is in the details-Notice the architecture that fascinates you.  Really stop and look at it  Notice the window that lets in the sunshine and captures a few rainbows.
  2. Don’t be afraid of color.  We just moved into a house with bright green walls and it is liberating.  We also have a chalk board that covers half a wall and we have been decorating it with multi-colored chalk.  We anxiously await the arrival of a blue piano.  I feel like we have been set free by color and it is bringing such joy.  Don’t be afraid of color.
  3. Use your kids as excuses to notice the art and beauty in nature and to get a little nutty over it.  Before my mother truly went crazy, she went a little nutty over nature.  If she saw a tree with bright pink blossoms in the spring she would pull over and get us all out of the car.  She would look at us with such joy, “Isn’t it great?” she would ask with such awe.  Simple,
  4. Some ideas for finding art from SoulPancake: stare at the patterns at a fabric store, experiment with all the fonts on your computer, look at store signs at night, scrutinize a spiderweb.
Exercise Finding Joy Lesson 2-
I’ve Got the Music In Me (And so do you!!)
  1. When has music moved your soul? What one song or piece of music should every person experience? What’s more powerful in a song--the music or the lyrics?
  2. Playlist for People-Watching Project (this is homework! do it!): Step 1: Go to a crowded public place. Step 2: Put on your headphones, hit “play.”  Step 3: Sit back. Watch the world-and the souls you share it with--go by.
Exercise Finding Joy Lesson 3-
What’s stopping you from letting go?
  1. Afraid to go after what would really give you joy?  What are five risks you haven’t had the guts to take yet, that you think would make you happy.  (you don’t have to share these with the class, but if you have the guts, do it...share your dreams)
  2. Need a little help letting go and living a little?  Here are some ideas from SoulPancake: grow something, take your neighbor a cup of coffee, pretend to know a stranger, get a knife get a stick whittle something, create art with a kid and embrace the mess.
Exercise Finding Joy Lesson 4-
Joy/Happiness What’s it to ya?  For real.
  1. It’s all relative.  Define it for you.  What’s joy.  What’s happiness.  For you.
  2. Final homework assignment, what’s your story?  Some of the best autobiographies begin with an intense turning point in an extraordinary life.  What would you want your opening lines to be?   
“My father always said I would do something big one day.  ‘I’ve got a feeling about you, John Osbourne,’ he’d tell me, after he’d had a few beers. ‘You’re either going to do something very special, or you’re going to go to prison.’
And he was right, my old man.
I was in prison before my eighteenth birthday.”
-Opening lines from “I Am Ozzy” by Ozzy Osbourne
Exercise Finding Joy Lesson 5-
It’s Your Call.
  1. Joy is everywhere---choose joy, catch joy, reach out and take it.  Magnify joy.
  2. Hold onto it and tuck it away for those dark times, because there will be dark times.  But find joy and hold onto it for god’s sake people.
SoulPancake, Rainn Wilson

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