Comedy!

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I’m performing in another show tonight, and I’m really excited.

Those who have known me for a long time, and those who have followed this blog for a long time likely know that comedy is a pretty new endeavor for me. But thanks to a student who first invited me into her improv group and then a local friend who organizes shows several times a year, I am now… from time to time… doing stand-up.

This is not something I’ve expected!

But I really enjoy it. I especially enjoy sharing the stage with wise, hilarious, and brilliant women, and that’s what I’ll be doing tonight. This evening is the sixth Hersay show with comedy, storytelling, and music from women who are incredible performers, including two of the students I’m closest to at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

It’s going to be a good time.

And I’m pondering… Could I do a full show sometime…? Thinking up material….

You never know how the people you meet will invite you into endeavors you never quite dreamed up on your own.

Renee Roederer

Rising to Community Care

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Yesterday in Ann Arbor, we had temperatures that included a -45 degree windchill. -45 degrees! That’s almost incomprehensible. It’s just completely outside of our typical experience. It’s also dangerous to people, animals, and infrastructure.

In the final days before we reached these temperatures, I was moved to see community members cultivating care and safety for one another. There were big efforts to ensure ample shelter resources for people experiencing homelessness. Some initiated a very successful and helpful GoFundMe fundraiser to provide hotel rooms to people who have been living in tents throughout the winter so far.

Students from the Michigan Student Power Network launched a petition for the University of Michigan to close and cancel classes on Wednesday and Thursday, arguing that staying open (its nearby counterparts tend to close, but the University of Michigan has only closed twice since 1978) casts disproportionally negative impacts upon students, faculty, and staff with disabilities and low-income status. And the University closed for the third time since 1978.

A number of places opened their spaces as warming centers, including Go Ice Cream in Ypsilanti, whose staff said, “You don’t have to buy anything. We just want you to be safe!” and they offered hot cocoa throughout the day.

This is community care at its best.

I also think… what if community members had not risen to these occasions personally on their own? Would there have been adequate resources in the city? Or adequate attention to people who have vital needs in times like these?

After all, right here throughout this winter, people are living in tents in 20 and 30 degrees. And students with disabilities experience barriers in academia quite frequently. Some street dependent people cannot choose to go to daytime warming centers because they have to make money outside to pay for hotel rooms at night.

There is more to do. More solidarity, more advocacy, and more community care.

This week revealed more of what is needed and more of what is possible.

Renee Roederer

Watching the Crows. Pondering Connections.

While walking around this morning, I watched the crows embark from their nightly roost. I enjoyed how they took up the whole space of the sky. There were so many of them, cawing, leaving collectively and moving collectively to wherever they were going.

I immediately thought of this wonderful quote from adrienne maree brown, the author of Emergent Strategy, a phenomenal, imaginative book about collective change. On page 13, she writes,

“There are examples of emergence everywhere.

“Birds don’t make a plan to migrate, raising resources to fund their way, packing for scarce times, mapping out their pit stops. They feel a call in their bodies that they must go, and they follow it, responding to each other, each bringing their adaptations.

“There is an art to flocking: staying separate enough not to crowd each other, aligned enough to maintain a shared direction, and cohesive enough to always move towards each other. (Responding to destiny together). Destiny is a calling that creates a beautify journey.

“Emergence is beyond what the sum of its parts could even imagine.

“A group of caterpillars of nymphs might not see flight in their future, but it’s inevitable.

“It’s destiny.”

As I continued to walk outside, I saw cars moving around town, driven by their people, and I wondered, do we feel connected to one another? I saw students walking around, listening to music on their own phones as I also do so often, and I wondered, do we feel connected to one another?

I thought about several community efforts this week to keep people safe in very harsh weather we’re experiencing (perhaps more about that tomorrow). Some truly work to survive in weather like this. I wonder, do we feel connected to one another?

It’s good to keep pondering and strengthening those connections. The crows were a good reminder.

Renee Roederer

Every Body is a Good Body

💜 Every body is a good body. 💜

Every body is a worthy-of-love body.

Every body is a worthy-of-care body.

Every body is a worthy-of-resources body.

Every body is a worthy-of-taking-up-space body.

Every body is a worthy-of-dignity body.

Every body is a worthy-of-connection body.

Every body is a worthy-of-self-expression body.

Every body is a worthy-of-advocacy body.

Every body is a worthy-of-self-determination body.

Every body is a worthy-of-having-needs body.

Every body is a worthy-of-tenderness body.

💜 Every body is a good body. 💜

Renee Roederer

Realignment Toward True Self

oscar wilde

[Public Domain image]

I want to begin this post with four powerful quotes:

Borrowing language from Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and wisdom teacher, writes frequently about what it means to give up our ego and ‘false self’ to live as our ‘True Self.’ In the midst of writing about that, Richard Rohr says,

1) “You (and every other created thing) begin with your unique divine DNA, an inner destiny as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you, a true believer tucked away in the cellar of your being, an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself.”Daily Meditations, July 31, 2016

Author Paul Coelho says,

2) “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything, maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were really meant to be in the first place.” 

The story of the Chasidic Master Zusya of Hanapoli is told in the Talmud:

3) “Once, the Hasidic Rabbi Zusya came to his followers with tears in his eyes. They asked him:

‘Zusya, what’s the matter?’

And he told them about his vision: ‘I learned of the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.’

The followers were puzzled.

‘Zusya, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?’

Zusya replied, ‘ I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you at Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?’

Zusya sighed, ‘They will say to me, ‘Zusya, why weren’t you Zusya?’”

And author Marianne Williamson writes,

4) “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

How do these quotes connect with you? Do they speak to certain parts of you? Particular roles, archetypes, and identities that lie at the root of who you are? Aspects you want to connect with more deeply? The True Self? The parts of ourselves that “beg to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and show themselves?”

I hope so.

This week I did some reflection about “unbecoming,” as author Paul Coelho writes above. There are times I have tried to place myself in roles that don’t exactly fit me. For instance, my internal framework and concept of what “a community organizer is” has been too narrow to include what my actual strengths are or make space for own my limitations and needs. And… it’s pretty hard to do something well if your framework for that role or task does not include space for your best skills or the necessary grace, accommodation, and adaptation to embrace your own particular-to-yourself needs.

I need to expand my framework and concept for what “a community organizer is.” But as I reflected on that this week, I realized I also need to think about my own particularity. My gifts, my strengths, the at-the-core-of-myself callings. My deep-down, truest parts. The kinds of things that reveal themselves through those quotes above.

True Self stuff.
Deep Yes stuff.

So I sat down and asked myself, “What are the roles, archetypes, or identities that are central to me being… me?”

And I wrote down five.

And simply naming them felt utterly invigorating. I don’t know if it was like the Captain Planet of myself coming together or what (a 1990s joke! You should watch this goofy intro!) but this felt powerful. I felt a huge amount of energy and a physical settling into myself.

And literally none of these roles, archetypes, or identities were new thoughts or sudden discoveries. I just loved naming them together. I loved choosing them again. These are the kinds of things I can keep realigning myself with when I get off track (and I do) … returning to again… my actual list… because each of these and all of these are deeply rooted in a calling beyond myself alone… these are the spaces within myself by which I make space for others.

So — you knew this was coming right? — I’m going to invite you to do the same. Ponder this question, and write them down if it’s helpful:

What are the roles, archetypes, and identities that are central to you being… you?

Renee Roederer