What Chapter Are You On?

The first TED Talk I want to recommend is given by Andrew Solomon. Besides his cadence, I am particularly drawn to his appeal to his audience to “forge meaning and seek identity.”

I am a story listener by trade and until 11 years ago my story was uniquely mine, but not one that was out of the ordinary per se. With every good story there are characters that bring it to life.

My husband, Matthew, swept me off my feet in high school with promises of chocolate doughnuts, Del Taco, and the faint smell of Drakkar cologne. We married ten years later and seven years after that we had our first child. Our life before kids went relatively as planned: college, careers, engagement, and marriage. We weathered a few storms, but nothing prepared us for the category 5 hurricane headed right for us.

It was an excruciating time in my life because our daughter was unexpectedly born with significant special needs. My story did not start in the moment of her birth, but it certainly took a deep dark turn. I set out to find Nemo - a visceral journey of healing, understanding, and rewriting expectations. I won’t kid myself, I think healing is ongoing, particularly when grief is so close by. I am sure I will talk more about grief in entries to come, but it is powerful and one hell of a bitch!

Mr. Solomon’s choice of the word “forge” is brilliant. I certainly feel as though I have dug through the muck, proceeded down uncertain paths, lost myself in moments of deep grief, and persevered when I wanted to do nothing.

Finding meaning does not come easily or quickly. It might take years, decades, or a lifetime. He gives us permission to kindly refuse to accept tragedy, loss, and disappointment, but rather to look for how we might find healing in spite of our grief.

And so, I will continue to forge meaning and my identity will transform as I continue to tell my story and listen to yours.

If I may add my notes for this TED Talk it is to tell your own story. It can be a powerful tool to discover meaning. Many times we take a narrow view of our own narrative, but sharing our story can provide us an expansive wide-angled panoramic view. It can release us from the negative messages we tell ourselves over and over and over again.

Lastly, telling your story in safe company can build up or magnify a community around you. I have come to recognize the power of community, connection, and hope and to use these things to continue to write my own story.

Consider your own story. What chapter are you on?

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