Stories are Powerful

I was thinking about what to write for my next blog post a few days ago. J and I had been talking about how our lives are made of such distinct chapters. I was driving along in the car by myself on a cold, rainy day, thinking about how this part of my life actually seems like a totally separate book. Thinking back a little further, it seems like the previous section was like a separate book too (different husband, different city, totally different life). Okay. So it’s a trilogy. Great, I thought. That means this is the last book. Well, that’s kind of depressing.

My daughter and I watched Maleficent a couple of weeks ago (We’re late to the party. I know. Don’t judge me.) She kept asking why everyone liked Maleficent, since she was the bad guy. Seeing as how her — and our — only point of reference for the character was the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty, we talked about perspective. We talked about how the story can change depending on who is telling it.

I went for a run tonight (Stream of consciousness is fun! Right?!) I had to make myself. I didn’t want to but it was a pretty day and it was 50 degrees and there was no rain or snow and I knew I needed to go outside. But it was getting dark. I was going to run on the main road near my house because it is well-lit and close to home and because my brain told me that was the best thing to do. So I decided to go to the Battlefield instead.

The Battlefield is a mostly wooded area (National Park) where the streets are runner and cyclist friendly, so I train there a lot. It was getting dark, but that doesn’t really bother me. I decided to do the basic 5K route I have done a million times. I am so not into training right now that a 5K is about all I can muster. My brain told me that I was going to run the 5K, no matter what. You’ll never get back into training if you don’t just do it. No stopping. You’re here to run. Suck it up and run.

About 1.5 miles into the run I heard it. One of my favorite sounds. The sound of summertime evenings in the country. The sound of peace and relaxation. The frogs. I heard them even with the music from my headphones pumped straight into my ears. I stopped. No! No. You don’t stop. Runners don’t stop. My brain was so adamant. If you don’t do it today, you won’t ever be able to do it. But another part of me said, Stop and listen to the frogs. They’re only here for a little while. They’re the sound of little me, catching lightning bugs and running barefoot. I stopped. I listened to those frogs and I looked around. I saw the deer wandering around in the fields and in the woods. I watched the squirrels run up the trees. I saw a hawk heading home for the night. I took a deep breath and things changed. I walked the rest of the 5K, headphones off, enjoying the gloaming and the air and the sounds.

Just like that, Maleficent was no longer the villain. My book was not the last of a trilogy. It’s just Book 3 of a series. (It’s probably that character building one that is hard to read and hard to get through, but really important to the storyline…)

Just. Like. That.

Sometimes I need the same lessons as a 5-year-old watching Maleficent.

The story changes depending on who is telling the story. The same is true whether it’s in an old storybook, a movie, or in my head. I have to be careful how I let my mind tell my story. I can choose to be the heroine, not the victim. I can choose to be in a comedy-fantasy-drama (think The Princess Bride), not a tragedy or a Lifetime drama.

We tell ourselves so many stories every day about how we’re not good enough or how we failed at something or how things are going to end badly or how that thing we said was SOOOOO dumb or how we made the wrong decision for our patient/our child/our life or how we’re just not good enough. Well, that’s bullshit. That narrator is really just the worst. So she’s fired.

I get to be the author of my story and it’s going to be a good one.