Good News, Bad News

The good news is my article this month previews some of the upcoming year’s great curriculum! The bad news is this already signals that fall is in our view. As someone who loves warm weather and sunshine, that is hard to fathom. Nevertheless the change of season can not be stopped so we might as well be doing great things together that will enrich us and feed our souls while we move through the year.

This year we have some great Wednesday night speakers on politics and religion, understanding more about transgender , issues around education, mental health from the perspective of a humorist, and more.

For WoSOTH Breakfasts we also have some great topics and speakers including someone from the UM Center of Spiritually introducing us to the practice of mindfulness; the Emily program talking to us about eating and our self esteem; the Sexual Violence Center looking at how men and women process #METOO type encounters; and a fabulous speaker about Brene Brown’s latest book and how to be ‘human kind’ to self and others.

Then there is the WOSOTH Book Club. We have some insightful and engaging books this year, i.e. “Educated” by Tara Westover; “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving; “Beneath a Scarlett Sky” by Mark Sullivan; “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown. Plus there are more we have found and loved so we might have to add more dates to meet!

For PYAC (Parents of Young Adult Children) we have speakers coming in for several of our gatherings to talk about resiliency, perfect parenting syndrome, and coaching mindfulness and positive psychology (known as “Happy Hour”). I will also be using information from “Happy Hour” with our two caregiver groups, Wednesday Morning bible study and other groups I interact with.

I will be hosting my annual fall luncheon for volunteers for the CARE ministry (i.e. funeral helpers, visitation and prayer team, and anyone who wants to come:). Pastor Melissa Melnick will be our speaker. This will be shortly after she returns from her end-to-end bike ride along the Mississippi River in memory of her son Chris, who had hoped to do this ride before his unexpected death. I know she will have brilliant reflections about her grief, loss and God to share with us.

We will also be learning more about, praying about and hearing more about a couple mental health challenges we have decided to feature this year. On a Sunday this fall (November) we will have a Sunday morning worship where we consider and learn about addictions. This was chosen because we just started hosting SMART Recovery. In winter we will focus on trauma as a mental health challenge. This year’s Mental Health Mondays, a once a month Monday evening speaker hosted at one of the church’s we are in Mental Health Connect with, are all focused on various types and aspects of trauma. Watch for them to advertised in the newsletter, bulletin, etc. or ask me.

Last but NOT LEAST, I will be offering a class called “Happy Hour” (referenced above). This is a week-long class / training I attended taught by St. Olaf and Carlton staff. The class material has been offered for over 6 years in Rice County (Northfield area) with statistically great results. This positive psychology program is based in science and research on the subject and is constantly being updated as new information comes forward.

WHY DO THIS?? As a culture when we noticed there was more heart disease, we did research and found our diets and lack of exercise were a large part of the cause. Then we started to learn how to change those areas of our lives in an effort to prevent cardiac disease or lessen it. We do the same thing for cancer and other big diagnostic groups that affect a large number of us. “Happy Hour” is an attempt at helping us recognize and re-wire our brain in places where negativity has taken over, where the voices in our head are giving us negative messages too often. It’s a sort of prevention for mental health challenges that can come from these negative messages. It just helps us cope better and feel better to live in a positive thinking existence. This is not a course in Pollyanna-isms or psychology fluff, it is practical, science based materials with recommended practices to try. I will be offering it over a five meeting time series.

SO you may or may not be looking forward to the change of season yet, but we have you covered as there is A LOT to look forward to here in the coming year!

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