After about ten minutes of trying to play the impartial journalist role, I caved and told Deanne Miller my whole life story. An over-sharer by trade, it was all I could do to not shout, “ME TOO!” after every bit of honesty and wisdom she shared.
So after a valiant (but brief) attempt, I gave in and told Deanne the truth: that I want to be just like her when I grow up.
Deanne cofounded SoulCore, a company that combines fitness instruction and prayer, with her friend Colleen Scariano in 2012. The inspiration for SoulCore came in the wake of a number of tragic losses in Colleen’s life. Colleen turned to the Blessed Mother for support and found solace in the rosary. She found that the mysteries of the rosary were calling her to live out the virtues they contained and so, she approached Deanne and asked her to help program an exercise series centered around the rosary. Deanne, encouraged by her own experience of healing from disordered eating and over-exercise, through prayer and movement, eagerly agreed. Together, they created what is now known and loved as SoulCore.
Deanne, in all her warmth, explained this to me with a gentleness that is only ever found in people who truly know peace.
And I knew that I wanted peace. And I knew that she had conquered the mountain that I was currently suffering under. So, I told her my own experience with loss and the desire for control that it bred within me. I told her about these last three years of overdoing it, and how that excess had landed me in bed with a bag of frozen blueberries on my back.
And she was so good.
And she was so kind.
And she was so Marian to me.
She gave me the second best gift anyone could give me: she listened.
And then she gave me the best gift. She took the time and vulnerability to walk through my problems with me.
“How do we let God in?” she asked me. “Our bodies are meant to be taken care of to glorify Him. Not to feel a certain way or look a certain way. When our desire to have reverence for the miracle that God has given us in our body becomes greater than our desire to control our bodies, that’s when our lens shifts.”
I nodded and jotted her words down, imagining what my life might look like through a lens shift.
She continued to explain: “We’re meant to move, but the problem happens when we distort it. God did not create us to over-exercise or under-eat. You got injured because He needed to protect you.”
She encouraged me to adopt SoulCore’s ethos and cultivate prayerful conversations into my movement. Well, that is, when I can really start moving again. But after my conversation with Deanne, that far-off date is seeming a little less desperately far-off, because as she explained to me: “He is preparing us for what He has prepared for us.”
And what is He preparing for SoulCore? Well, SoulCore is now offered as college, young adult, and adult programming. They offer in-person and online instructor training and retreats, online program streaming, and DVD workouts to all of the mysteries of the rosary.
Looking at all that Deanne and Colleen have accomplished, it’s easy to see how God has made good of His promises by making good of their suffering. Smiling into the receiver, I hoped aloud that He would do the same for me.
Deanne spoke encouragement, as she always does: “Our biggest crosses become our greatest blessings. I had no idea all those years ago, that I would be called to share prayer and movement in these ways. And that’s how generous God is.”
How generous, indeed.