On Dec 24, Encanto was released on Disney+. I actually was blessed to see it in the theater (thanks to some friends who got me to enjoy an afternoon full of snacks and heated recliners) but I watched it again at home and it was even better the second time around.

My personal standard for a “good” movie / play / book is if it makes me 1) laugh, 2) cry, and 3) think. Encanto did all 3, complete with gorgeous scenery and some wonderful songs. In no particular order, here are 3 things Encanto prompted me to think about.

First, even strong people need help sometimes. We all know a strong person, whether in body or mind. And if a name didn’t immediately pop into your head, it might be you! Someone who takes on outside burdens, someone who does the behind the scenes work, someone who others run to for advice. Big sister Luisa had an incredible song (written by Lin Manual Miranda) about the pressure that comes with having that reputation. And her storyline progressed with her being able to find rest, feel and express her emotions, and overall give herself some freedom to be more than just her magical gift.

Second, everyone is valuable. No matter if you can “see” the specialness they bring to the world. Our differences are precisely what keeps the world functioning. If everyone had the gift of beauty / perfection (like Isabela) who would pick up the lost donkeys? If everyone could hear the tiny things (like Delores) who would cure illness and injury? Even though Mirabel didn’t have a “magical” gift, the family desperately needed her and what she did bring to the table,

Third, community is so DANG important. I loved how this aspect played out. First the smaller community of the extended family unit, and the magical house. They were so much stronger, and healthier, when they were together. When part of the family was missing or estranged, things didn’t function the same. This point was brought home by the larger community of the town in which they lived. When one family (admittedly a magical family) is in trouble, the greater community also sufferers. Conversely, that greater community was able to have a tremendous impact on helping the individual family heal and grow. Which, in turn, made the whole Encanto stronger and more healthy. Quite a powerful cycle.

So … some potentially significant lessons to be learned. Now what do we do with these thoughts?

At the gym, we absolutely talk about and work to develop strength. Physical certainly but also mental and even emotional. We aim to use the gym as practice. No matter who you are, you are going to come across some situation that will tax your strength somehow. The more you practice those situations, when it really doesn’t matter, the better you will be when the chips are down. Maybe it’s the mental toughness to get through a hard season at work, and you practice that by getting on the ever popular assault bike and keeping a steady pace. Or needing healthy lungs and heart to fight off sickness, and you practice that by coming in 3 times a week. Or the strength to physically care for an ailing relative, and you practice sandbag bear hugs so you can hold your loved one.

A wise man once told me that everyone is the best at SOMETHING. I don’t have to understand the thing, or even like it. But everyone is not like me and we take that into account when programming each day. We know that the gym can be intimidating since it’s NOT what most people are inherently the best at. But I absolutely promise that every day with us will have a new opportunity to find something you enjoy. Maybe you really like the balance and coordination sections, maybe you want to deadlift your bodyweight, maybe the cardio pieces become your favorite, maybe you love flipping tires, maybe you just love telling and listening to stories. There is room for all kinds of folks within our doors.

I know recent events (read: the pandemic) have challenged our abilities to connect with one another. If you are anything like me (naturally a stay-at-home introvert), it’s been tough to get myself out of the house and engaging with folks again. I feel out of practice and rusty and uncomfortable. However, I’ve also desperately missed “my” people and the connection that comes from sharing life with others. And, as arrogant as this may sound, the world missed me (my endless supply of movie quotes, hilarious jokes and random questions) too! 

Each of us does have a vital role to play in the lives of others; starting from our immediate household and into our local communities. Healthier individuals are an integral part of healthy families. And lots of healthy families create healthy communities.

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did. There are certainly other life lessons to pick up from this story and I’d love to hear something that hit home with you. And when you watch it, I hope it reminds you of YOUR community. If you want to expand yours, or need a positive influx, we are waiting to meet you!