Sunday, March 29, 2009

More on Stories

It's been an interesting week. We had a storm headed my way with baseball size hail, “rotations” in the storm that the weather forecasters said were likely to become tornadoes at any moment and heavy rain with thunder and lightening.

My daughter called to let me know she really is going to leave town and change graduate schools.

My son said, “They called the cops to the group home this morning.” He couldn't explain to me why.

In each of these cases my mind raced to make up stories. In each case, my first story was about loss or risk or things going terribly wrong. In each case, my second story was much better.

1) The storm could damage my roof.
2) The storm will weaken and I'll be fine.

1) I'll be all alone and what if I get hurt or really need my daughter?
2) My daughter has fabulous choices and I'll get to visit a place where I have friends and I'd love to see again.

1) My son is getting assaulted—or he's the one in trouble for something he's done.
2) Everything is okay and my son is well protected. When I find out what's going on, it will probably turn out to be nothing to worry about.

Now as it turned out, the storm DID weaken. My house and I WERE fine. My daughter IS excited about her choices and I know she and I will stay close no matter where she goes and I will enjoy visiting where she'll be. As for my son and the cops and the group home? Turns out they weren't cops, they were EMTs and the staff was worried that he was having a serious allergic reaction to something but he's fine.

I could have wasted time and energy being upset and anticipating things that never happened. But I spent too much of my life doing that—never again! Instead I'll continue to step back from my initial fear and reaction and choose to tell myself the positive stories and let myself be happy.
What are the new, positive stories you're learning to tell yourselves?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),


Friday, March 20, 2009


I've talked about this before—how we tell ourselves stories about the people and events in our lives and then believe they're true. This week I had an epiphany that reminded me that no matter how sure we are that we're right our stories could be mistaken.

My ex-husband is often late for things. He doesn't like to follow rules. He encouraged our children not to do what people told them to—or follow rules if they didn't want to.

For years I told myself he was immature and/or passive aggressive and it drove me nuts! How could he handicap our son (Down syndrome) even more than he already was.

But...this week I woke up and had an epiphany. I know my ex-husband grew up hearing about relatives who died in Nazi concentration camps—and about those who escaped. He told me once that the reason he never wanted to own a house or other property was because some of the ones who died died because they owned property and wouldn't leave. These stories—he said—were why he put other people ahead of family.

Well, I woke up (having watched Life is Beautiful the day before) thinking: What if? What if my ex-husband grew up hearing about this relative or that who lived because he or she was late to some place they were supposed to be? What if he grew up hearing that this person or that lived because he or she refused to follow the rules and do what they were told to do? What if--?

What if so many of my assumptions were wrong and he was driven by an (unconscious or conscious) imperative that said because our son was handicapped it was even more essential that he not do what he was told because under the Nazis he would have been one of the first taken away?

It changes everything. And nothing. Problem behaviors are still a problem. Relationships that don't work still don't work. But...all of a sudden anger evaporates. Instead of feeling as if I was hostage to his behavior, I can see that perhaps he's hostage to the stories he heard and the emotions/behaviors those stories engendered.

And I may be completely wrong. It's all just speculation—another story I've told myself. But it doesn't matter. Because the real lesson is that there COULD always be reasons for anyone's behavior that may never occur to me. It's a reminder that it isn't necessarily about me—even when it seems to be (whatever “it” is in terms of someone's behavior). It's a reminder to hold compassion even for—maybe especially for—those who do things that upset or hurt me. It's a reminder of the importance of looking within and looking at where my own behaviors and assumptions come from and to challenge those that don't serve me.

It's a reminder that so many assumptions we make are just stories. Some have more evidence behind them than other but....still they are just stories. And stories can be rewritten—especially the ones that keep us trapped in hurt or anger or a mistaken sense of limitation.

Here's hoping you have your own epiphanies and rewrite some stories of your own this week. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Wisdom of Dogs

Dogs are great teachers. Sophy taught me something important this week. It was something I knew intellectually but I haven't always put it into practice.

She hates when I play Nintendo Wii. She thinks I should be paying attention to her instead. And she's smart enough to know that if one tactic doesn't work, try another.

She tried pawing me. That didn't work.

She tried barking at me. That didn't work either.

She tried climbing in my lap. I shoved her off.

She tried climbing in my lap and licking my face. I started laughing so hard I had to put down the remote and pet her because who can be angry at so much affection?

Sophy reminded me of two very important lessons this week:
1) If something doesn't work, try something else.
2) Affection is far more likely to get results than chastising the person. We want to give attention and affection to and be with those who love us—not those who are constantly scolding us for who we are and what we do.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I've been think a lot about challenges this week and this new sense of who I am. What I keep coming back to is the realization that the stronger we feel, the more sure of our self-worth the easier it is to face challenges head on.

If I'm right, then it becomes really important to think about ways to remind ourselves of what we have to offer. That's why I so often suggest making a list of our strengths and past successes. This list is a reminder that we have succeeded in the past and can succeed again. When we focus on the best we can be, we are far more likely to find the incentive and courage and resilience to become even better and to believe we can face our current challenges successfully.

When I talk with my daughter who is trying to decide whether or not to change graduate schools and her field of research, we talk about how her skills and strengths will give her options with each possible choice—and that helps to take away some of her angst. Because he believes in himself, a friend who is out of work knocks on doors and meets with people sure that sooner or later he will find the right spot and he's becoming more creative in the possibilities he's considering for himself. A stint substitute teaching made him realize that maybe he wants to go in a new direction entirely.

I've also think it's useful to make a list of resources available to us—which can include faith in something greater than ourselves.

A friend's son whose marriage just fell apart discovered that his brother was willing to have him move in and that he can help him get work and meet people so that he can begin to move forward with his life. Another job hunting friend realized when she made her list that there are resources she hasn't even begun yet to tap into yet. And I am constantly discovering that there are resources I hadn't known were available to me and would never have discovered if I believed I had to do everything myself or was afraid to ask for advice or help.

Lists of things that make me smile. I can't say enough about how important this was once I discovered the concept. It's what got me through so many difficult challenges, things that might have overwhelmed me or caused me to run the other way if I didn't have my list and made a point of using it to create reasons to smile every day no matter what was happening in my life at the time. do you build your self-esteem? How do you find courage to face challenges and create happiness in your life?

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),