No one is better equipped to talk about my 8 week online program, Sanctuary, than the women who have actually completed the program. Click the video below to hear why they joined and what they got out of it.
I know you feel so alone. I know you feel like the chaos and uncertainty surrounding you has paralyzed you. I know you feel stuck, unsure of how (or even whether) you will get past this season.
It's okay to not be okay. It's ok to be full of anxiety and fear. It's ok to have a bad day(s). It's ok to not be productive.
You are still the ambitious and creative person you are at your core. This trauma does not define you. You are not this loss.
One day you will be able to look back on this time and see your strength, see how resilient you became in the face of this. One day this story will become woven into the fabric of your life. One day you will turn around and be shockingly delighted to see the mountain you have climbed.
Until then, it's ok to take your time. Let this be your seed of hope.
Remember - your story is your strength,
Three life lessons from a tumultuous last decade.
1. Self care is no joke.
For a long time I believed that rest was for wimps. In college, I attended class all day, headed to a grueling three hour gymnastics practice, then studied at the library well into the night. I’d wake up for my eight o’clock classes and start all over again. It wasn’t that I was a human machine - one of my professors even called my gymnastics coach because I was constantly falling asleep in class. I simply would not acknowledge that I needed rest. After college, I kept this familiar schedule, working all day and coaching at night. Looking back now, I was running on fumes of anxiety. Down time terrified me. The expectations I put on myself were crushing and no amount of studying was enough.
It took having kids and leaving a job in academia after almost a decade to help me understand that this pace was unsustainable. It wasn’t one moment or even several, but a slow realization that I because I was not taking good care of myself I was not showing up as the person I wanted to be in the world. I had an extremely short fuse, lots of simmering anger, and I didn’t have any clue about experiencing the present moment. I had one speed - GO.
Gradually, I made big shifts in my life. I quit my job that had me commuting over an hour each way (with kids, full time). I started a new job from home. I went to therapy for the first time. I began my writing practice. More recently, after my migraines started significantly impacting my quality of life, I decided to try to get eight hours of sleep each night. I finally figured out how to nap.
I did these things over the course of about five years. There was surely no magic bullet. But I can honestly say that most days I feel really good about what I’m doing with my time and how I am progressing as a person. I have so much room to grow, but I’m also really proud of the choices I’ve made to get myself to this place.
2. Most of the small stuff doesn’t matter. Really.
Not long after my husband and I moved into our first home, a poorly built condo for which we paid way too much at the height of the real estate market before the recession, we had a toilet break. My parents were visiting. All of a sudden water starting coming through the ceiling where the chandelier was hung over the dining room table. I completely lost it. I was screaming at my family as if it was somehow their fault. I couldn’t calm myself down. My dad finally suggested I go out for a walk to cool down. This was my thing - get really mad, really quickly. Why was I so quick to boil over? Who did this anger serve? I guess I got a release and adrenaline rush when I let that anger go by yelling, but this was something I was not proud of.
For me, it took experiencing significant life challenges to fully understand and agree with the idea that most minor annoyances of daily life are not a big deal. When you say goodbye to your newborn, delivered into the world just hours earlier, and watch him wheeled away to undergo a cardiac catheterization under general anesthesia; well, traffic and picky eating and email just seem like ridiculous things to be worried about. Practicing being grateful has helped me too. When I’m struggling mightily with being a caregiver for my mom with advanced dementia I try to recall how grateful I am that my sister and I are a team, almost always aligned in decision-making and having each other’s backs for support. Facing this disease without my sister is unthinkable.
I lose sight of this one routinely, but I think I’m getting quicker in my recovery and I know my anger has decreased significantly. Just recently I arrived at the pool with the kids and noticed a hissing sound when I get out of the car. Turns out there was a screw in my tire. Instead of losing my cool, I thought about how fortunate it was that I noticed it and I quickly got the car back home before the tire was entirely flat. No biggie.
3. Your story really is your strength.
Like lots of new moms, I joined a baby group when my eldest was a newborn. There were probably 20 mom/baby pairs in this group led by a breastfeeding expert. I remember watching with a kind of horrified fascination as all the moms laid out their adorable teal and white chevron baby blankets, placed their baby upon them, and then actually sat back and participated in the discussion. My own dear baby (the one who’s now 10), screamed bloody murder if you dared try to leave her on the floor by herself. She was usually screaming anyway, but the volume was somewhat decreased if she was attached in some way to me. I can’t recall a single positive moment from that group and I think I may have stopped going, unable to handle the feelings of defeat that came in waves as I tried to get through those sessions. My early motherhood was filled with these moments of feeling alone, separate from the other moms, aside from my closest of friends.
We've since learned that this little baby, my daughter, Carly, experiences the world differently than most people you know. When she was a toddler she would often tell me she wished she was still inside my belly. The world was too much for her to bear. She needed parents who could let that be ok. Parents who could handle huge emotional hurricanes that roared through her little body. We were not those parents. Slowly, over the course of several long years, we changed the story of the parents we thought we were to become the parents Carly needed us to be.
Back then I couldn’t have imagined how Carly would have changed my outlook on life, but now I see how she has rewired my entire brain. The experience of feeling isolated as an outsider was new to me and brought along a new perspective, a new compassion for other people and for myself. Seeing my own child struggle in every possible way and trying for many years to help without seeing much success also made me a more empathetic person with a capacity for holding space for heaviness, discomfort, and loss.
This very thing I resisted, the ability to sit with the most challenging of emotions without changing or avoiding or shoving them behind the curtain, is the exact thing I bring to the women I work with in my business. It’s what I am teaching them to do with their own stories; look at the darkest of times square in the face and see the beauty in what you’ve become because you found your way through.
Written by Alison R.
As I pass by the open door, I can hear the muffled, tense voices again – anger, betrayal, sadness…fear, even. I take a deep breath, knowing I should move on, keep walking, ignore the drama unfolding. Try as I might, I’m drawn to the door and to her. I hug the doorway frame and strain to hear the details, knowing full well I won’t understand it all but curious if it could have something to do with me. I wonder when they will ever realize that their muffled tones can still be heard. We hear them every time. Greater still the silence and chasm between the two most important people in my life speaks volumes more than the constant arguing.
“Is she there again” I ask myself, “the little girl?" In her pigtails with the cute pink eyeglass barrettes holding her brunette hair back and the freckles accentuating her innocent blue eyes, she looks brave but she's trembling inside. She always goes there when it starts and quietly yet carefully chooses her spot, close enough to the door to slip away quickly but far enough down the steps so the voices easily convey up the L shaped stairwell.
As I crack the door ever so silently I see her once again.
“Oh, Alison,” I whisper, “not again with this. Come back up.”
“No,” she defiantly shoots back, “I don’t want to leave her.”
And she remained. She remained every time, despite my attempts to get through to her. She stayed there until the day he left and left them a new normal. A normal permanently scarred.
I look back on that time and talk to myself, a part of me forever stuck at seven years old, in that moment. Time and peace and introspection have illuminated what I could not process when I was that little girl.
It was their story; not mine. I have my own story to write.
Every moment has a lesson; the lessons are the gifts; learn.
Pain is not the destination; acknowledge it and pass through.
Look for the joy in the tiniest moment.
Protect my heart; be open but protect from harm.
Certain aspects of the day I was told that the heart of the 18 week old baby I was carrying was not developing correctly are seared into my brain. I don't recall too many of the words that were spoken or what I was wearing, but I remember how it felt to be left alone with my husband in the ultrasound room for an eternity. I remember the feeling of it gradually dawning on me that being left alone for that long meant something was wrong. I can still feel that slow realization; I knew from my prenatal training in graduate school that this was what happened, but it still took several minutes before my mind hatched the thought: "Something is wrong."
My memories of the next two years following that day are similar. I have trouble recalling names and faces, but the feelings that I felt in my stomach, the rising anxiety in my chest, those sensations can still bubble up when I think about going under general anesthesia when I was 23 weeks along for the in utero procedure to open Griffin's aortic valve, or when I picture the cardiac intensive care unit at Boston Children's Hospital.
For many years, I would experience things in my everyday life that set off these feelings in my body. Like, if I saw a family with three healthy teenagers at a restaurant, I would get upset that maybe my little guy wouldn't make it to that age. Or if I drove past a little league baseball game I would be triggered by the uncertainty of whether Griffin would ever be able to participate in sports like a typical kid. Life was a minefield; I could be triggered by almost anything and it would get my heart racing, the tears flowing, anxiety flaring.
This is what trauma looks like. Trauma is the way we recover from a stressful event or loss. It has to do more with how we respond to an experience rather than the experience itself. So, in the immediate time following the event we may have trouble sleeping, eating, going about our daily lives, but typically we figure out ways to cope and recover. If can't get there - if the experience overwhelms our ability to cope - this is traumatic stress. We worry about it because it could lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems.
I think many of us go through our lives, experiencing trauma and not recognizing it as such. We think that maybe the experience wasn't "bad enough" to qualify as trauma. We believe that trauma has to include death or sexual assault. But it's all subjective, meaning that the event itself doesn't have much to do with it and it's all about how you responded.
Once Griffin had arrived and was, in fact, thriving, I found I was stuck in the same thoughts that I had during the pregnancy. I had a hard time enjoying him (happy baby that he was) because of these intrusive thoughts. They were always near the surface, circling around in my mind like a broken record: "he's going to need several surgeries", "what if he doesn't survive", "how can I handle this".
Slowly, I recognized my need for help. Other events in my life actually helped push me to get help, otherwise I think I would have waited and tried to figure out the Griffin stuff on my own. I did lots and lots of therapy. I started my writing practice. I told Griffin's story, at first to small groups of students and eventually to a big crowd at a national conference. I started my creative business, Orchid Story, to help other women cope with their own traumatic events. The uncertainty that threatened to swallow me whole nine years ago is much more manageable now.
It took a lot of hard work. A lot of money. A lot of time. A lot of uncomfortable feelings. This is in no way an exaggeration.
And... there is a happy ending. Of course, the happy ending includes Griffin playing in the pool this summer, just six months after his first open heart surgery at age 7. But that's not what I mean, because remember, that even if things look good on the outside - the experience of trauma is still subjective and about the recovery (my recovery) from the events.
The happy ending is that all the work I put into healing myself has helped. The intrusive thoughts are no longer swimming. I get triggered much less often and when I do, I can recover quickly. I was recently sitting with a new therapist, as I am learning Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) also known as tapping. She was teaching me the tapping sequences and we were going through all of those scenes of trauma from back when Griffin was diagnosed in 2010 and his early years, all the way up to his surgery and recovery in late 2018. When we were done she looked at me and said, "You really don't have much residual trauma related to his heart condition."
She could have told me I won a million bucks and I would not have been more pleased.
Do I have other issues in my life that I am still working on? Yes. Am I still worried at times about Griffin's heart and his future? Yes. The work is not done. The work will never be done. The important thing is that I am moving forward. I've come such a long way from that day back in the ultrasound room.
On Easter Sunday I found myself on a 4+ hour flight, squished into the middle seat, next to my daughter, Carly, at the window and a 6 foot hefty guy at the aisle. Carly could not get comfortable. I wish I could show you all the positions she tried; head on the tray, legs up on the seat in front of her, sprawled on me, turned around backward. She did not stop wiggling for the entire flight.
For a while, it made me tense. Ironically enough, I was watching the documentary Heal while all this movement was happening next to me. One of the central tenets of the movie is that being in fight or flight activated response is not good for your well-being. As I was observing Carly I could sense my anxieties flaring and, possibly because of the show I was watching, was able to calm myself down. The women in front of us probably wanted to wring my kid's neck, but would she be ok other than feeling annoyed? Yes. Ok, breathe.
Getting myself in a stable state allowed me to look at Carly with more compassion. She was distressed. Dysregulated, for those of you familiar with the mental health term. She needed to move, to run, to be distracted from having to sit for so long. And these things were pretty much impossible 31,000 feet in the air.
Simply by me having compassion for her in the moment, the energy between us toned down a notch and she was able to sit with the discomfort and get through the flight. I was able to speak to her in a normal tone and not get angry or raise my voice.
You guys, this is HUGE! This is such an accomplishment for me! Certain things we do to improve our well-being like weight loss or working out, are easily measured. You lost 10 pounds - yay! You ran a 5k for the first time - congrats! When it comes to mental health though, how do you measure it? Deepak Chopra is not going to pop into the aisle when the plane lands and say - look at you! You practiced breathing and compassion!
It's up to us. If we let these plane moments pass us by without acknowledging them, we may feel like we're not getting anywhere. We may feel stuck. Let's instead make a decision to celebrate these wins, to take pride in finding presence or our breath. Seeing these moments as wins will propel us forward and energize us to keep up the work.
How about this as a writing prompt: What small win on the path to personal growth have you experienced within the last seven days? Have an everyday win you'd like to share? Hit reply and let me know. You're doing a great job.
Nuggets of wisdom gleaned from “Becoming”. This book is so good! I’m nodding my heading with every turn of the page.
Do you miss my writing? I’m still doing it, just sharing mostly with my newsletter list at the moment. You’re on the list right? If not, hop to it - join by clicking here. You’ll get my beautiful guide, Rewrite Your Story, just for signing up.
SIx Strategies to Help Your Orchid Child Bloom
from the book, “The Orchid and the Dandelion” by Dr. W. Thomas Boyce
If you love thinking in big strokes with real-life examples woven in, you need to get on my weekly newsletter here!
The next round of Sanctuary (Story + Community = Healing), my eight week online program, is coming soon. Get on the first to know list for all of the details.
This one’s for my sister.
Every inch of my body screamed, "I can't do this again. I need to leave. I can’t handle One. More. Moment.” I felt agitation running through my veins, anxiety rising in my chest. Resentment and anger came bubbling up as I thought of all the families sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinners while I found myself in a room alone with my mom, inside of the assisted living facility we had moved her into two weeks prior. She was downright refusing to get dressed and come with me to join the rest of our family for the meal. Or maybe it was her disease, the PCA, that was refusing to come.
I took a step back and tried to breathe to stop myself from yelling. I wanted to yell all the time, at anything and anyone. At the squirrels who got in my way on the sidewalk, at the aide who should’ve had my mom dressed already, at my kids to put their shoes on. In that moment I wanted to yell at my mom. Then my sister, Dani. “It isn’t fair that you get healthy grandparents”, I would scream. “You get to leave for the holiday and go on date nights with free babysitters and have someone cook for you while here I am, stuck in this room.”
The thing was, I really couldn’t convince my mom to come with me. While I was seeing red inside of my reptilian fight or flight brain, I knew enough to know that I was not mentally in a place where I was going to be able to connect with my mom, get on her level, empathize. Get her dressed so I could be with the rest of my family who were already together, waiting on us. So I called Dani.
Isn’t this what we do as siblings? I would do this to no one else on earth (well, except maybe my husband - sorry babe). I’m so resentful in this moment, I’m letting my emotions get the best of me by attacking my sister in my mind, I know she already feels horribly guilty about leaving me alone to deal with the situation, and I decide to call her?
And, you know what? She answered.
Thinking back on it now, I have tears in my eyes. Tears of deep gratitude for Dani. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. After months of crisis, I mean crisis every damn day for weeks on end where you are pulled from meetings at work and bedtime with the kids to take care of our mom. Off to the neurologist, the psychiatrist, the ENT. Off to the emergency room. Off to a meeting you’ve been called to with the director of the facility. It is only us. Her and I. We moved her here away from her village and so it is us and only us who are responsible. Dani has finally gotten an opportunity to take a moment to breathe. A few days where she can be with her two little kids and focus on them with her full attention because she knows that even if she gets called she can’t physically come. It’s a huge weight lifted for a few precious days. And I evidently wanted to sabotage it for her.
Not only did she answer the phone, but she answered it free of hostility, even though she had to know it was an SOS call from me before she picked up. We had been answering each other’s calls with, “What happened?” for the past two months. But on Thanksgiving she sounded happy and peaceful when she said hello. Immediately upon hearing her voice I started to relax. I put her on speaker and she spoke to our mom in the way that I wasn’t able. She soothed and listened and comforted. After we hung up, I got mom dressed and off we went.
For years people have told me, “It’s good that you have your sister.” For a long time, I wanted to respond by saying that having a sister doesn’t make the pain go away, you know. It’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. “You’re reminding me of my sister because you want to create distance between yourself and this hardship I’m in; it’s easier to sugarcoat it with my sister rather than acknowledge the pain, isn’t it?” I wanted to say.
This year though, a deeper level of gratitude than I have ever felt before, came into my life. We have walked through the hardest days together, Dani and I. Facing the depth of this disease together, the stripping away of the woman we both love dearly has bound us together in the most beautiful way. We have chosen, time and again, not to scream at each other. Not to take our pain out on each other. But to support. To be the other person’s person. To love.
Now when people tell me how lucky I am to have my sister I close my eyes and say a prayer. Thank you for Dani. Please keep her safe. Please protect her energy and bring her peace.
Remember the prompt I sent out a few weeks ago: What is one thing that motherhood has taught you this month? Our friend Michelle wrote on the prompt and sent it to me! You guys - this is what I have been asking of you and one of you actually did it - YAY!! Please use Michelle as an example and try it. You don't have to send it to me, but if it's as awesome as I think it will be, I would love to share it. I really hope to add other voices to this newsletter on more of a regular basis.
Questions by Michelle Small
The other night I saw something that just didn't seem right. I ask, "What happened today?" Silence follows. I ask, "Did this happen at recess? Who were you with?" She stares at me with her lips as straight as a line and her eyes completely glossed over. I tell her I love her and I am only trying to help and she holds her hands up to her ears and walks away. Exhausted, I want to just yell after her “Fine! Forget it!!” I look down and there is my five year old, laying on the ground incredibly lethargic - an instant sign sickness is coming since he rarely ever is still for more than 20 seconds.
I give my daughter some space for a moment while I try to get my son to get up and put on his pajamas, knowing tomorrow I will likely be taking him to the doctor’s office. He refuses so I ask him “What hurts?” “How do you feel?” “Are you hungry?” He stretches his arms out and whines, “Momma. I want momma.” I give him a hug and then he lays back down. I let him lay there while I go search for the thermometer and check on my daughter. She is in tears and yells, “Don’t ask me anymore questions!!! It is too hard to talk about it!!!”
Reflection on my quest to help them both, I am realizing that asking a bunch of questions - a strategy that always helps me and also my students with their comprehension - is not always helpful. In motherhood, I am learning, sometimes silence can produce the answers. Sitting quietly with my son after taking his temperature (he didn’t have one at the time), I was able to check in with my gut feeling to know he needed to go to the doctor (he wound up having a high fever the next morning and an inflamed throat that needed medicine). Since the blow up with my daughter, I have stopped the constant peppering of questions and wait for her to cue me she is ready to talk. Amazingly, last night, she asked if she could read to me a part from a book she was reading. This book is one I actually recommended to her and, for the first time EVER, she took me up on the recommendation, AND now she wants to show me a part she likes and connects with. I feel like I finally have a win.
I learn and grow by questioning, but I am learning that isn’t how my kids necessarily learn or grow. It also does not seem to be a method to helps them to open up to me about what is going on in their lives. For my kids, the more questions I ask, the more unwilling to share they become. My daughter gets tense and stressed and my son just flat out ignores me and/or dances around (sometimes with underwear on his head) repeating my question or words in a sing song voice and refusing to answer them (He is feeling better today!).
It is SO hard for me, but I am learning to look for those opportunities to sit in silence or just side by side, waiting for them to be ready to share. I won't stop asking questions, but I will start pausing more before I do. It will help me decide if the questions I am bombarding them with will produce the answers I am hoping for.
The first topic in my summer series is Separation and Divorce. I'm looking at each of these topics through the lens of how the story you tell yourself about the experience can affect your well-being. I've found some interesting research to share about when it is helpful to write your story of separation and when it may not be the right time. I'm sharing resources and advice from experts. If this topic speaks to you, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter to learn more.
For Day Two of honoring the co-authors of my mothering experience, I have chosen Patty Wipfler of Hand in Hand. I found Hand in Hand, a non-profit that teaches and supports parents, about seven years ago. I signed up for their newsletter and hungrily read and listened to anything I could get my hands on. The content was exactly what I needed - their method teaches a mix of warmth and limits - but perhaps even more important for me was the style of founder Patty Wipfler. Her calm voice and the rhythmic cadence of her speech was like a balm to my flaming and fiery being. I remember listening to her in the car and feeling like she fully understood both my parenting experience and the experience of being my child. I've never met Patty, but I am so grateful to her organization for giving me what I needed at a crucial time in my life.
Friends! This month, I'm going to focus on moms in honor of Mother's Day. All moms are created equal, whether you are a mom or not, have a living mom or not, have an adopted mom or not, have a relationship with your mom or not, and any other variation you can think of!
All of the writing I do will be in the mom theme - shared on social media, my website or wherever. I want to hear from you too. I am going to take the responses to the questions I pose and create something beautiful. It may be a video or an image or writing piece - so inspire me and be on the lookout for what I create with your words.
I am making a Mother's Day video for one of my amazing Orchid Story community members. To be in the running you need to be signed up for my newsletter (look right on this page to sign up). This is a gift from me to show my gratitude for showing up, reading, and sharing my work. The 1-2 minute video will include your audio story (recorded with me via Skype) with background music and your personal photos. This will be a super creative and unique way to say Happy Mother's Day to someone in your life.
Want to to be considered? Sign up for my newsletter then email me to let me know:
In the story of your life, what's the title of the chapter on Mom?
I'll pick the winner and email that person on Friday May 4th. Remember, this doesn't have to be about your mom - I'm looking for any mom that has positively influenced your life. The final product will be shared with my community. Yay! Very excited to do a free giveaway for you in honor of moms everywhere.
On April 16th my husband, Curt, ran the Boston Marathon. Throughout the entire training process, every time I talked about the marathon I said "we," as in both Curt and me, as if I was running the marathon too. It just came out. I am not a runner and in fact I can't quite stand running. I think it's because when our partners decide to commit to something big, we feel a stake in it too. We want it badly for the person we love and we often have a significant shift in our daily schedules too.
Because he was running for a charity, Team Frannie of the Ethan Lindberg Foundation, this added to my feelings of connectedness to the race. I wanted to give back to this organization that had been alongside us since my son Griffin was diagnosed in utero with congenital heart disease (CHD) seven years ago.
Also, the lives of several children who had died of CHD were integrally woven into this race: Ari, Chase, Ethan, Frannie. Their moms, dads, and siblings would all be present on race day.
On race day, Curt got up early and headed out. The weather was as bad as predicted. The kids and I sat in the hotel restaurant watching the elite runners and wheelchair athletes at the starting line. The rain was already gushing in torrents over the hotel entrance, soaking passersby. I was anxious about Curt having to stand in the wet and cold for hours before he started. I was anxious about all of the runners having trained so intensely to show up for this weather. Then they did a tribute on tv to the five year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and my kids starting asking what had happened. Yes, I was anxious about that too.
We headed up to the hotel pool and I watched Carly and Griffin play. My heart was hurting, confused and joyful. Hurting for the pain that CHD has caused these families and my own. Confused about how some kids make it and other kids don't. Joyful that we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to be in Boston that day and participate, in our own way, in the race.
A little while later, we arrived downtown. We stepped out of the uber and within ten second we were drenched. The kids starting complaining immediately but we went up to Beacon St. to watch the elite women pass. At mile 25, they were almost done.
We stayed inside for a while, keeping warm. But, I had only one chance to see Curt and I didn't want to miss him. So, the Team Frannie crew headed out to Beacon St. Again, fully drenched within seconds. The rain was coming in sheets, sideways. By now the runners were slowing down. Many were walking. Several were already wrapped in the silver thermal blankets they normally receive at the end. Some were in between two runners who had their arms wrapped around the middle runner, almost carrying the person along. A double amputee made his way by on his prosthetics. I could see the pain in his clenched face.
About 15 minutes before we expected Curt, I took my hand out of my glove and held my phone, with the camera open. I wanted to capture the moment on video. This meant that my hand and arm were sopping wet and frozen and that I couldn't follow Curt on the tracker app because I wanted to keep the camera ready.
The 15 minutes came and went. By this time Griffin was crying hysterically. He was freezing and wanted to go inside. Carly was ready to give up on seeing Daddy too. I couldn't hug them because we were too wet and I was holding an umbrella and the Team Frannie sign we made and the phone. I tried picking Griffin up and putting the umbrella down but that made things worse.
I needed to make a decision and quick. Should I let them go inside and get warm? My mother's instinct said yes, especially for Griffin whose health could really be affected by this weather. But my human instinct said no. Their dad had undergone a grueling training for this day. The families standing next to me had undergone weeks and months of hospitals stays for their sick children. And, even if they didn't feel it right then, my kids would always want to have the memory of seeing their dad at mile 25 of the Boston Marathon. So we stayed out.
I started wondering if we missed him. What is he wearing? the Team Frannie supporters wanted to know. I didn't know or couldn't remember, the anxiety getting the best of me by this point. Is Griffin ok? they asked. I wasn't sure.
Finally, we spotted him through the driving rain. He looked fantastic - a big smile on his face and a great energy in his stride. I instantly felt ten pounds lighter. The kids switched from crying to cheering. I pushed the red video button on my outstretched hand.
He gave us a each a kiss and then he was gone. I looked at my phone and realized it hadn't recorded the moment. I tried again as he ran off towards Boylston St, the final stretch the runners dream of.
All the struggle and pain and beauty and transformation of life was happening right in front of us that day. Feeling so many emotions at the same time IS life. I was filled with pride and love as I watched Curt run past. Then I turned to take the kids in and caught the eye of my friend Jessica, mom of Ethan, and became filled with sadness for the loss of his life.
Life is not black and white. It's not either or. It's messy and gray, confused and beautiful. I'm lucky to be here, right in the middle of it.
Have you experienced a setback that changed the path of your life? Rewriting these stories to reflect the empowerment of our struggle can positively affect our wellness. Join me for a six week online class to explore the science that supports this and finally get your story onto the page. Reach out with questions!
I am so excited to bring an online version of my class to you! I can reach more people in an easy-to-access way and maintain a community aspect with a limited class size and a couple of live sessions. Applications open on Wed April 18th. The class is six weeks and mostly self-paced. If you sign up to get on the waitlist you will receive a special discount code.
This class is for you if you've experienced a challenge in your life that divided it into the before and after. A part of you is the same, but a part of you is different. The story of your struggle is stuck in your head and you don't know how to integrate it into your life.
I've been there. I've done it all - therapy, support groups, self-help books. They each have a place. As does rewriting your story. See, the stories we tell ourself become part of our personality. This is called our narrative identity. Our narrative identity affects our emotional and physical health on a daily basis.
If we make small changes to the way we see our stories, we can make drastic improvements to the way we feel.
There is research to back this up. I've been working with this idea of narrative identity for a couple of years and I have seen evidence in my own life that it works. The best part is that you don't need any special tools or even a huge time commitment. Short bursts of dedicated writing time can lead to big improvements.
This process helps build resilience. You'll feel more energized in your day-to-day and you'll bounce back more quickly the next time something unexpected happens. Some studies even show that writing about your story lowers your blood pressure.
Join me. My superpower is taking complicated scientific concepts and breaking them down so that you can benefit. This is my passion. I hope to see you in class!
I'm squirreled away hard at work getting my class content into a new format for my online class coming this spring! I'm making great progress and would love your insight.
Which of these versions do you like best for the title slide? Let me know in the comments. Find out more about class here. Hope to see you there in a couple of weeks.