Oprah’s struggle reveals a kintsugi spirit

We all carry a burden of brokenness in different ways. What many are learning is that a special healing process might bring honour to those things in our past that once brought us shame.

If we look at all the brokenness and damage in just one life it is hard to imagine that any good could come of it. Could those very same cracks and fractures become the strongest and most and valuable features of our lives? Are these imperfections something that we could come to treasure?

Beauty in Imperfection: A Timeline of Oprah Winfrey’s Life

At this time, who does not know America’s first lady of talk shows? Oprah Winfrey is the first black multi-billionaire. She has recently ranked as the most outstanding black philanthropist in American history.

Oprah’s fast ascent to fame didn’t happen overnight. It takes passion, commitment, and rising every fall to make all these achievements possible. Connecting the pieces of her life, we will understand how defects are great art to illuminate one’s life. Aside from these triumphs, fame, and billions, Oprah has a life story to unfold that can help us change how we look at the world.

The Beginning of A Dream: Childhood days

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in the small county of Kosciusko, Mississippi, to the proud parents Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey. Initially, her name should be Orpah – a word taken from the Bible. But because her name is constantly mispronounced, it was changed to Oprah since then. Sadly, Oprah’s parents separated soon after being born and leaving her to her grandmother’s maternal care on the farm.

Even in her childhood days, Winfrey loves to entertain herself by performing in front of the farm animals as her audience. Oprahs’ grandmother was a strict. Because of this, young Oprah learned to read and write when she was two and a half years old. Oprah was active with church activities and actively participated in an Easter event. Once on her pre-school days, Young Winfrey wrote a letter to her teacher saying that she belonged to the first-grade class, which became why she skipped kindergarten. After a year, she once again got promoted to the third grade.

At six, Winfrey was reunited with her mother and two half-brothers after being sent to the most impoverished and dangerous place in the north – Milwaukee ghetto. At twelve, she was sent to Tennessee to live with her long-lost father, finally felt secure. With much delight and inspiration, she began writing speeches at churches and social gatherings, paving her way to earn money for a one-time single speech. She then discovered her talent and inculcated on her mind what she wanted in life – to be paid to talk.

After series of residential transfers, Winfrey was sent back to her mother, leaving the safety of her father’s home. Winfrey’s teenage life has been negatively affected by the poor urban lifestyle. Oprah’s life struggle at the age of nine was heightened with repeated sexual abuse by men that her family used to trust. These circumstances in Oprah’s life leave scars on her mind and heart. And from these life struggles and brokenness, the little Oprah began a struggle for hope and healing.

From Broken To Beautiful: The Start of the life-Changing Journey

Oprah’s father was a very strict disciplinarian. As a policy, she would learn new vocabulary words each day and complete her weekly book reports or she would be refused dinner. All the books, rules, and life’s structure became her strength.

For Oprah, life could never be perfect. What’s important is how she handled situations that go her way. She didn’t hide where she came from or prevent them from being part of who she is. Instead, she embraced her hardships and let them make her stronger. Oprah trancended her harsh and abusive circumstances because she allowed all her life lessons to transform her into something beyond her wildest dreams.

In-School, Winfrey was an excellent student, with active participation in various clubs such as the debate club, drama club, and the student council. She won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University by winning a speaking contest. Year after, she was invited to participate in a White House Conference on Youth. Oprah is also a born beauty queen, crowned as Miss Fire Prevention by a local radio station in Nashville which later hired her to read afternoon newscasts. She also became Miss Black Nashville and crowned Miss Tennessee during her freshman year at Tennessee state.

At nineteen and currently on her sophomore days in college, a broadcasting network offered Oprah to co-anchor an evening news show. She reluctantly accepted the role to support her college dreams. The show was aired nightly at WTVF-TV, making Winfrey the first African American co-anchor in Nashville’s media history.

Traversing the Professional Life and Its Promising Popularity

Oprah’s total transformation after all her hardships in life is a great evidence to show that life harms can turn into something wonderful

In January 1984, Winfrey moved to Chicago, Illinois, to anchor the top-rating morning talk show.  A.M. Chicago. She then emphasized current and controversial topics which proved highly popular. After surpassing other shows in the competition, the program was renamed the Oprah Winfrey Show. After years of hard work in radio and television, Winfrey was then discovered by Quincy Jones who chose her for the role of a fine actress in a movie he was co-producing with director Steven Spielberg – a film entitled The Color Purple.

Oprah Winfrey’s TV show skyrocketed in popularity after the success of The Color Purple. In September 1985, the distributor King World bought the show’s syndication rights to distribute and air the program in almost one hundred thirty-eight cities across America, a record for first-time syndication. Although some competitors were being aired on almost two hundred stations, Winfrey emerged victorious by winning her time slot by 31 percent, drawing twice from other top competitors, and was carried to the top ten markets in the United States.

The Beauty of scars, the beauty of life

Your biggest fears, deepest pain, and all the hardships may also guide you to strength and healing. The story of our past just like to Oprah demonstrate that life’s bitter experiences from which we learn and grow.

The beauty of Kintsugi is joining broken pieces without covering the breaks and turning the fractures into a feature, revealing a stunning work of art. Oprah is one of the most extraordinary pieces of evidence that our deepest pain can create a powerful and inspiring life that brings hope to millions.

7 precious pieces of advice from the kintsugi experts

The COVID pandemic has affected all of us in some shape or form. The degree of suffering is different, but no one has gone unscathed. The challenge for many of us has been either loss of income or change in circumstances. Add to that the isolation and bereavement and we are looking at major mental health impacts on a global scale. Anxiety, insomnia and in worst case scenarios alcohol and drug use all come rushing in as a result.

There is a search for deeper meaning in the middle of this crisis. For personal healing and meaning. Some have discovered a new hobby to fill their hours of isolation an ancient craft that contains an extraordinary philosophy that has much to teach us as we navigate the complex trials of life since 2020.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. It illustrates the idea that damaged and broken objects may be repaired and be made beneficial again with a redemptive purpose that honours the lines of damage rather than concealing them. The Japanese have incorporated the concept of Kintsugi in their personal lives as they prefer seeing beauty in imperfections.

“Kintsugi symbolizes how we must incorporate our wounds into who we are, rather than try to merely repair and forget them.”

David Wong.

Following are a few useful learnings that we can see in Kintsugi and incorporate them in our daily lives.

  1. Change is Constant: Accept & Mold it Like Kintsugi :Individuals typically need steady, smooth and stable lives. They dread change as it frequently implies misfortune and hazard. Kintsugi accepts that each change is another chance for individuals to improve their lives. Tolerating the change effectively would help us adjust our viewpoints. Furthermore, this chance would permit us to encounter something new and to develop and advance personally.

“Change is the only constant in life.”

  1. Follow the Kintsugi Way to Self-Confidence and Happiness:Kintsugi sees emotional strength as made up of abilities and processes. If we accept and dominate these traits, they can show us how to be content and allow us to manage the problems in our daily lives. Accordingly, Navarro highlights the need to endlessly support our emotional strength. To continue to add and adapt routines that help us feel more grounded and certain when confronting difficulties in our day to day lives.

“Emotional strength is the set of resources available to us when tackling challenges and problems. Most people suffer due to the accumulation of minor problems rather than just one single adversity.”

Tomás Navarro
  1. Practice Kintsugi by Cleansing Yourself of Impurities Even when Broken:At its centre, the demonstration of Kintsugi is tied in with accepting your imperfections and your torment – however that doesn’t mean you have to hold on to them. If we hold on to our misery, we leave the doorway open for detrimental and destructive feelings. Outrage, hatred, and disappointment provide no benefits and keep us down. To continue and ‘remake’ ourselves, we need to perceive those sentiments and how they affect us. Once done, leave them behind and move quickly and more firmly.
  1. Kintsugi Teaches us to Embrace Imperfection: Life is muddled, unstable and far from flawless. We should accept flaws and discover the magnificence and credibility in it. In Japan, this thought is known as wabi-sabi. Kintsugi well-being portrays a few different ways to welcome more wabi-sabi into your life. Practice clemency, stop equating yourself with others. Embrace simplicity and modesty, don’t run after material things you can do without. This will not only make your life easier and less complicated but also eliminate the feelings of insecurity and demotivation.

“I think that’s the most beautiful thing about being confident – just loving yourself, not caring what everybody else thinks. Because you could be Mother Teresa, and people are still going to try to find some imperfection.”

Joanna Krupa
  1. Kintsugi Shows us a Pathway to Resilience: At the point when circumstances of life break us into pieces, Kintsugi urges us to see the magnificence of assembling the messed-up pieces. Once in a while, during the time spent picking and fixing these wrecked pieces, we set up our lives by remaking something seriously dazzling. This way of thinking trains us to be strong regardless of life challenges, so we can be better forms of ourselves with the entirety of our golden cracks.
  1. Patience is A Way of Life With Kintsugi: Fixing broken pottery by retouching the broken parts requires a lot of tolerance. Life’s issues can wait. Some problems may reoccur while others can radiate from the current issue you’re addressing. When that happens, you should show restraint. Don’t rush to act on impulse but by the same token don’t delay either. Take the time to think things through and have confidence in yourself.

“Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.”

Mary Pierce
  1. Like Kitsugi, Use Support to Mend: In the quest for emotional wellbeing, rest assured that we are in good company. At times, dejection and misery leads us to think that nobody will help us, or we don’t want to burden anyone. We usually prefer not to disturb others with our problems and anxieties.

Yet, that ought not to be the situation. In Kintsugi, you can make use of pieces that formed parts of other broken items, to fill in the cracks. These filler pieces enhance and polish the end result. The equivalent is valid for our emotional injuries. We need to seek out our companions for help. Welcome, a confidante or a colleague to your home to drink espresso and chat. Incorporate your loved ones into your life, alongside every individual who is a motivation to you, in your personal or professional life.

Experts recommend that adopting the idea of Kintsugi in personal lives could make life much simpler and more beautiful. The concept of Wabi-Sabi urges us to acknowledge our “imperfections” and remember the theory of Kintsugi to keep ourselves motivated. Like Marie says, wabi-sabi is “experiencing beauty in simplicity and calmness – and is considered a virtue in Japanese society.”

Leading a search for ‘gold’ in the lifelong recovery from trauma

How Kintsugi is helping these women heal from trauma

While talking about her group therapy Kintsugi class, Clarissa mentions the importance of how women feel stronger when they know they are not alone. She begins this lesson quite dramatically – by smashing a bowl. Later in the session, they begin the process of repair – piece by piece. She explains about how this illustrates the process of inner personal healing. Taking your time piecing the physical bowl back, letting the glue solidify, is a key for your personal healing and the pottery.

While their pottery is being repaired, women talk with one another, sharing their healing journey and how kintsugi has helped them. The most interesting part of this art therapy class is everyone is essentially working on the same task, however, each pottery bowl is unique as each person in the room.

What is Kintsugi?

Kintsugi is a 400 year-old art form that honors the cracks in broken objects. Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi focuses on mending the cracks in pottery by using a gold, platinum or silver liquid to fill the cracks.

The main objective of Kintsugi is to embrace all the flaws rather than trying to hide them. These cracks in the pottery are what make each of these artefacts unique. The cracks are part of its history and that is why they are highlighted with golden or silver liquid. These symbolise highlighted scars and show the strength and character of each piece of pottery.

A very important message to grasp from Kintsugi is that whenever we mend a broken piece of pottery we create something much stronger. You shouldn’t necessarily throw away something that is broken, rather you have the opportunity to create something new and beautiful.

The Healing Power of Kintsugi

Have you ever wondered why we find people with flaws more relateable and approachable? We may idealise people who appear flawless but in truth we feel no real connection with them. They are unattainable. However, when people show their vulnerabilities and weaknesses, a mutual understanding and intimacy forms.

Clarissa’s trauma survivors learn that hiding our real selves and vulnerabilities creates a false identity. We believe our failures are concrete and the failures of others are abstract. The same vulnerability is perceived as courage in other people but failure when we see ourself. And kintsugi teaches us the perfect way to deal with this mind set. Creating art from those broken pieces and gluing them together is a metaphor for the delicate restoration of their own souls.

Clarissa’s Art Therapy

Clarissa Carpenter formed the Younique Foundation to help survivors of child sexual abuse. Her story is powerful and inspiring for all the woman shee meets. As a survivor of child sexual abuse herself she can empathise with the people she helps at the foundation. Clarissa’s Kintsugi art therapy classes help the survivors heal.

We all have hurts in our past and we can learn from the journey of these women.

Kintugi reminds us that we have a purpose

Kintsugi doesn’t just focus on finding beauty in scars, it is also important in restoring the purpose of the object. By gluing the pieces together, the pot will have a use again. Kintsugi reminds us that the hardships that we face don’t really change our purpose in life. We can keep pursuing our dreams and goals. Nothing should stop you from working towards your goals.The struggles are a time for reflection rather than giving up on your life or dreams.

Our mindset changes when we focus on the Kintsugi work

Most of us often believe that we should hide our flaws and vulnerabilities. We always aspire to be perfect and think that we can only achieve it by hiding our mistakes. This mindset that we are not broken is one of the key aspects that is holding us back from healing. We think that by supressing our struggles we can let the unbroken parts shine which is completely wrong. This revolves around the philosophy that something is wrong with us which is not true. Rather, it is a natural process everyone goes through and we need to embrace it.

The Kintsugi golden joins remind us that our scars are valuable

One of the primary things that Kintsugi teaches us is that are flaws are unique and beautiful. There is no need to keep them hidden rather you should wear them proudly in front of the world. By using gold or silver liquid to highlight the cracks in the pottery we learn to own our flaws. Our flaws are what make us unique. Wounds of the soul also need air to heal. You need to let them breathe to heal properly.

Even though she owned a few Kintsugi bowls she didn’t realise how powerfully Kintsugi resonated with her until she one day joined an art therapy class. Being someone who didn’t want to be recognized as a victim, she found strength in her scars. She didn’t want to be ashamed of the sexual abuse but she wanted to be a survivor and feel valuable.

I had cracks, but those valuable streaks of gold are a part of my history too.” , she says.No two bowls are the same. They never break the same and each person must follow a process to repair their bowl.”

One can not rush this process by gluing multiple shards at once because the bowl will fall apart and it will take a lot longer to get back together. For Kintsugi you have to let your soul heal along with the pottery and it takes time and patience to find a sense of purpose and wholeness.