Happy New Story
This time every year we are bombarded with what someone else has decided are the year’s top stories. Every talking head has their own version of what you should remember from the year before: There’s the woman who was tried for murdering her child and in case you can’t remember, she was found innocent. There was Herman Cain’s 999 Plan and for the life of me I can’t recall what it meant. In the back of my mind I can hear my kid Fatima yelling, “Yeah, but have you ever had a Godfather’s Pizza?” This year Michael Jackson’s doctor was found guilty, Wall Street and a lot of other streets got occupied, there were tropical storms, celebrity deaths and divorces and too many children gone missing.
One story toppled the next and every time a politician was caught going to Argentina or having an online affair with a minor we watched and waited for the story that would top them all (see Penn State Scandal.)
We have become somewhat numb to the fact that all of these stories are attached to real lives and real people, but what I believe to be even more harmful is that these stories affect the way we see our own lives.
When I look back over the top stories of my year, I am of course drawn to my daughter Fatima’s traumatic illness, but when I refocus, I can see her at her high school graduation just three weeks later. When I think about breaking my right hand, I am reminded of the fact that I learned to use my left, and most impressively, I learned to type while I’m thinking. (In the past, I’ve had to write long-hand first and then type.) I can also recall that the same week I broke my hand, my son Jabril played guitar for the first time in front of an audience; there were 6,000 critical care nurses. He was amazing and given that he is painfully shy, this was a major achievement. I have been honored by having a suite of classrooms named after me and I gave a sermon in an Episcopal church (I’m not a preacher nor Episcopalian.) I published my own book and have sold tons of copies and I have lots of folks who love me. I love my work and am fulfilling my purpose and every single day I am told that I make a difference.
On my wellness pilgrimage, I’ve met some amazing people and I’ve reconnected with folks who I need like I need air. The beautiful folks in my life are still there and the posers have all moved on. A few nights ago, I experienced something that will change next year and all the years that follow.
My old massage therapist moved out of the area, I see him from time to time when I’m in DC , but there was nothing like knowing that he’d work on me every week. I’ve been looking for a replacement, but not having a great deal of luck. I went to see one therapist several times and it turned my life around. Unlike my previous therapist, this one believed in inflicting pain. He felt that for massage to work, it had to hurt. I’ve been a strong proponent of something I learned from my friends in the spa industry; nothing that harms the body will heal the body. You can argue this all you like but I love that I get to believe what I want and you get to do the same.
Anyway, this therapist did his thing working out my pain by inflicting more. The next day I felt sore, but my mobility was much better. By the end of the day however, I was nauseous and in pain. So why is it that when the therapist called to schedule another appointment, I went back for more?
I had to reschedule a few time when things came up (The Universe was trying to help me,) but I finally made the appointment. This time, I decided to tell the therapist that I didn’t want to feel pain. He informed me that I hadn’t complained before. Just as I was about to agree, the new found self wouldn’t allow it. “I didn’t complain then, but I’m telling you now.” I said. But it was as if he didn’t hear me and he went back to his own routine. The old me endured it for an entire hour (can you believe I had booked a 90 minute massage?) But then the new me stepped forth. “Stop,” I said. “That’s enough.” He actually asked what’s wrong and I said,” I can’t do this anymore.”
I knew that I wasn’t just talking about the massage. During that hour, I had been thinking of all of the times I had gone along to get along. I had been thinking over the year of putting up with things that I really didn’t want or need in my life and how I had allowed the media to infiltrate my life with what it thought was important.
Marketers have been telling us what to eat, buy, wear and think. This year, we should all make a list of our own year in review. Look at the truth behind your scandals, look at the beauty behind the pain and look closely at what you will no longer tolerate.
As you do keep this thought in mind; you really are the writer and director in your own life story. You can be an extra in the background or the break-out star.
· Make a list of your top stories.
· With each story write down what you have learned.
· Who were your co-stars? Send them a note to say thanks.
· What will you give up to have an even better year?
You are the writer and director of your life story.
Happy New Story
Bertice Berry, PhD