Your Story Matters

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© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

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The 3 Things in Life that are Certain

Three things are certain in life:

  1. You will never have enough time to read that list of the 40 best ____ – what fills in the blank doesn’t matter. The list is still four times too long.
  2. Your earbuds will always become tangled in your pocket or purse or backpack.

And

  1. Your life will be a journey of discovery.

The focus of that discovery: Well, first off, the end of those tangled ear buds. But, more importantly, you. (You know, just something kind of completely fantastic.)

No matter where we are in life – our mid-life crises or our eighteenth birthdays; our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs or our twelfth Hillel Shabbat dinners – we are continuously blooming. Every person we meet, every experience we have, every sunset we witness becomes a part of us.

The conversation you had with a neighbor last night opens your mind to something more that you are. The journal entry you wrote last week touches a part of you that you hadn’t yet seen. The new flavor you tried at brunch widens your senses to a world and culture you can’t wait to know.

Every moment of presence is a moment of growth – if we allow it to be.

Which also means, at any moment, we are imperfect. We have yet to experience every aspect of life and we have yet to interact with every person who is to cross our paths. Rather, we are open, our hidden parts simply awaiting the right moment and encounter to emerge.

But what does this mean for today?

Everything.

Because, in accepting the journey, we open our minds to the possibility of each moment. And, we start to live our lives with three vital changes:

  1. We take no moment for granted.

If every moment and every interaction becomes a part of us and blesses us with growth, then, logically, every moment is of value. We have all heard the advice to ‘live in the moment,’ but it’s time we do more than just that. It’s time we appreciate the moment, no matter how small, and allow that moment to fill our hearts. Because that moment is now a part of us, it’s ability to help us grow only limited by our own resistance to change.

  1. We open ourselves to the world.

We grow from experience. Which means, if we avoid experience, we limit our own potential. So instead of accepting the comfort of a couch and Netflix show, or following the routine of taking the 5:10 bus and sitting in the window seat of row 12, let’s challenge ourselves. Go outside your comfort zone. Try something new. Welcome new friends and new experiences, and soon you will find, in each day, you discover a little more of the fantastic person that is you.

  1. We live and breathe authenticity.

Something magical happens when we realize we are forever growing: we start to let go. If we understand that we are never quite perfect, we can never fall short of what we think we ‘should’ be.  If we recognize that, in error we learn, we start to embrace those errors. In embracing the truth that our interactions with others can help others grow, too, we start to give ourselves more fully to the world. We can’t be perfect, but we can make a difference and welcome growth just by living each moment as our truest selves.

And, yes, if your truest self is still untangling those ear buds or working through number 26 on the list of 40 best books of 2017, you are, in that moment’s way, still experiencing growth.

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Congratulations. Another moment has passed, and you have beautifully grown!

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

I approve of this message

It’s tempting to look out for approval.

We were taught to do so ever since the first grade. We studied for good grades, sat with arms folded for respect from our teachers, and eagerly awaited that next star-shaped sticker for our prize boards.

We did everything we were supposed to do, and looked out for the praise. In a context of operant conditioning, we learned how to behave and how to garner respect. And when we made mistakes, we looked in apology to those supporting us, and tried again.

But we were never similarly untrained.

No one ever gave out star-shaped stickers for NOT seeking approval. No one ever handed out extra candy for letting our self-drive and self-acceptance be enough. Few dared to tell a teenager that the only opinion that mattered was from the reflection in the mirror, not when it came to the day-to-day choices in life. It is much easier and so much more predictable as a caregiver, after all, to stay in control of the world and the people around us.

It’s not that we don’t all want our friends and family to grow strong and independent. On the contrary, we couldn’t imagine a better outcome for our loved ones.

Yet, it’s easy to forget

we as humans don’t naturally know how to look to ourselves for approval. We as humans don’t readily break the patterns by which we were trained. Have you ever tried to break a burdensome habit? It’s hard work! And it takes a lot of time, attention, and awareness of the problem. Not too many of us will turn to that hard work without some external factor pointing out with a big flashing arrow that how we are operating is no longer working.

But with so many resources out there – quotes and the like – reminding us of the value of self-approval and self-direction, you can be sure you are not alone in carrying this trained habit to adulthood. The market simply doesn’t spew out supply without a proportional demand.

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Of course, self-approval has its risks.

When you start to give yourself the approval you seek, you may make some mistakes. And you may have to own up to those mistakes – there is no longer someone to hide behind. The mistakes are softened, of course, because you are aware of the hard day you are having and you understand the sources of that choice. You are responsible for and understanding of your actions.

AND you are empowered by the freedom to choose what comes next. No one can push your head to a slump, and no one can take from you the pride of your smile. At a beautiful level, you are in control of the positive and negative outcomes. Everything you need comes from within, and everything you are is imperfectly perfect.

Everything you are is good.

And everything you can become is stunning, because only you can set the limits on your potential.

But don’t think I expect that you change this trained habit in one day. Instead, let’s try for one minute to make choices without approval, and to applaud those choices on our own. If it’s hard, that’s okay. We can try again in a later moment. Little by little, day by day, you can build to a life where you rejoice at the smile of another, yet garner pride from the approval you give to yourself.

In this moment and moving forward, you are your own greatest advocate.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

 

Harness Your Power To Heal

A woman sat beside me at the doctor’s office. “I’m in pain,” she said, cradling her knee. Under the flow of her skirt, I couldn’t see what was wrong. Was it swollen? Was it bruised? Was she bleeding and bandaged? All I knew were her words: ‘I’m in pain.’

 

As we humans tend to do, my first instinct was sympathy. Phrases like, ‘I’m so sorry to hear that,’ and ‘Can I do anything for you?’ came to mind. Thoughts of fetching an ice pack and consoling a stranger claimed my brain.

 

But I didn’t even know if she needed ice!

And as a medical provider trained in empathy, I could hear how distancing these words really were. ‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ is nice, but it doesn’t mean I share in your pain. ‘Can I do anything for you’ is generous, but it still makes this pain your problem, not mine. In a world of personal boundaries, sympathy is the safest of routes, but it’s far from the most healing.

 

But the empathetic route, the option to turn to her and say, ‘That must be hard’ or ‘I can’t even imagine what you are experiencing,’ just didn’t seem right either. Because her knee hurt – I could imagine that much. And, as I have learned in my years of improv comedy, never assume another person is thinking the same as you. Maybe this pain is something that excites her – though, that would feel odd. Or, maybe her experience is anger, not sorrow. Maybe she’s angry because her kid left a toy in the hallway and that led to her trip and fall. I hear an improvised ‘Yes, and…’ in the distance. Maybe her kid is a teenager and the game was a video game console that he was supposed to put away hours ago! The real pain is having to deal with that son of hers when she gets home.

 

Who am I to assume another’s story?

And who am I to intrude on her experience? Sure, I could ask how she feels. I could ask her to tell me more, but I wasn’t her doctor. I wasn’t even an acquaintance. I was a neighbor, a fellow patient in waiting. I was a woman sitting in the same position as her with the only difference being our chief complaints.

 

And even as a complete stranger, I carried the power to help.

 

“Have you heard of biofeedback?” I asked, speaking as though I was simply starting a casual conversation. With a neurological illness as a child, biofeedback was one of the many tools at my disposal. With patients in the dental chair, biofeedback was one of the most powerful techniques for alleviating the anxious mind. And in the absence of technology, I knew meditation could be just as complete. “Your mind is a powerful thing.”

 

I closed my eyes and rested my hands. I softened my shoulders, and let my head fall. I felt the chair beneath my body, and the floor beneath my feet. I asked her to do the same. I took a deep breath in, tasting the air of my surroundings, smelling the plastic of the waiting room chairs. I took a deep breath out, purifying my body of that doctor office smell. I pictured what kind of room the smell came from. I let that image go. I pictured the paintings on the walls. I let those paintings go.

 

“My hands feel heavy,” I whispered, letting their weight fall into my lap. She repeated. She felt the same.

 

“My arms feel heavy,” I whispered, letting my shoulders sag against their weight. She repeated. She did the same.

 

“My arms feel warm,” I smiled, embracing the air around me. My eyes were closed, but I like to imagine she felt the same.

 

“I feel calm and relaxed,” I inhaled, dropping expression from my face. “I feel calm and relaxed,” I exhaled, dropping pain from my mind. “I feel calm and relaxed,” I finished, nearly falling asleep.

 

“Rosa, Rosa Sorencio!” A nurse called a name in the distance, opening our eyes to attention. “Rosa!”

 

And just as quickly as we met, we parted ways, but we weren’t strangers any more. We weren’t women in passing. We were neighbors, or slightly more, united by a moment of calm, gathered in the strength of our own beautiful minds.

 

And if you think this is just a story, think again! Because your mind is just as powerful. Your strength is just as beautiful.

 

Each and every one of us carries such an incredible power of healing. Our only true barrier to calm is our noisy selves.

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I close my eyes. I relax.

I am at peace.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.