Discussion Questions for Michele Harper: Beauty in Breaking
1. Michele Harper admits she doesn’t always feel grounded but instead has spent a lifetime cultivating radical honesty and presencing. What practices are helping you stay rooted in this moment?
2. Michele had to stay grounded amidst the chaos at a young age, first as a result of family trauma and then as a result of her E.R. training. One was a survival strategy; the other was a calling. How do you discern the difference between skills you were forced to learn and gifts you are called to offer?
3. There are a lot of stories told where the reward at the end is success. But Michele is more interested in stories about managing no matter the outcome. Michele is more interested in stories that end with the reward of inner peace. What reward are you living for?
4. Michele is convinced that radical honesty is the only way through a situation. She tells the story of asking about the trauma of a VA patient, only to discover that the woman had never before told the story in its entirety. When have you been a witness to radical honesty’s healing powers?
5. Being an E.R. doctor requires a cognitive flexibility, but also a generosity of spirit, Michele says. “I needed to know I was going into a profession where I could see anyone…like I love the fact that it’s mandated.” Who does your work or life mandate that you care for? What do you love about this fact?
6. The pandemic has laid bare heartbreaking disparities in the American healthcare system. While Michele can fix very little about this for her patients, she continues to advocate on a macro level. What disparities are you seeing in the healthcare system? What advocacy are you doing, big or small?
7. Michele tells another story about a young woman of color who came to her depressed and just needed to feel seen. “We need more women and people of color and different backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses and disabilities, because the patients we see need that…So that they can go on.” When has seeing or feeling seen by someone like you helped you to go on?
8. Sometimes we lose the story we wanted for ourselves. Michele lost a lot at a pivotal point in her life before finally deciding, “I’m going to have to be open to the life that is intended for me.” What do you think she means by that? What magic have you found in a life you never intended?
9. Michele uses the example of the Japanese art of kintsukuroi to illustrate how there’s beauty in being broken and making something even more precious out of it. Where are you finding possibility in the golden cracks of your life?
10. Kate ends the podcast by saying, “When our lives get small, may we grow deep.” What’s one thing you want to grow deeper into gratitude for during this shrunken, fragile time?
Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate & Michele’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?