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How a New Story Changed My Life

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How a New Story Changed My Life

By Tama Kieves:

Triggered anyone?

I want to tell you about a very personal miracle I had with my mother.

I’m sharing this story right now because we’re in the holiday season—and this is your chance to stop interpreting your relationships, situation, or your life in unloving ways. Why make yourself feel deprived? Or spin myths that diminish the greatest chances of your lifetime?

We have the power to tell the stories of our lives from a startlingly different point of view. We can create miracles.

Like so many of my healing, big duh, “do-over” moments in life, this one begins with a conversation with my mother.

Back in 2011, I’d given my mother the manuscript of Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (my second book) and like any self-respecting, neurotic writer, I chewed my own body parts and awaited her feedback.

It didn’t come. Finally, I ask her one day “Did you read my book?” My mother mumbled, “Yes, yes, I did.” Huh. Might be nice to know, I thought.

My mother loved to read. She read romance novels, big plastic-covered books from the library. And she stocked paperbacks in her closet, in case she ran out of library books. So, I was kind of shocked when she hadn’t read my book in a flash.

“Well?” I asked. “Well, what?” she replied. Truly clueless. “What did you think?” I ask. I could feel myself begin to spiral. This is wrong. I feel like I’m begging. Fishing for compliments with a hook the size of Brooklyn. Oh, hell, I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m cornering her for them.

Finally, my mother answers and gives me this feedback about my book. “Oh, I liked the quotes you used at the top of each chapter.” And then she goes on to tell me more important things like how Marge, at the coffee klatch, liked her new blue pantsuit, the one from Kohls.

And how Marge’s daughter, who I do not know, because I don’t even know Marge, was traveling to Wisconsin next month. Naturally, I’m just overjoyed to hear about Marge’s fabulous daughter instead of anything about me… my mother’s fabulous daughter. I feel myself begin to disappear, word by word.

The conversation stays with me, a bit like a bruise. It’s tender when I poke at it to see if it still bothers me. Finally, I realize why it rattles me so much. It wasn’t just the fact that my mother didn’t seem to have a shred of interest in talking to me about my life’s work.

But it’s also this. It’s what I tell my friend, later that week. “She loved the quotations in my book, she said. That’s like actually saying, you know any word that you didn’t write, now, that’s what I loved! WOW, those other writers were really something else. In fact, out of your entire book, that you spent 6 years writing, the only thing that’s worth commenting on, and only if you push me, mind you, is every word that you didn’t write.”

My friend giggles and says, “Oh honey. Well, now that you put it that way, I can see why you’re upset.” And the story I don’t mention to my friend is the real story I’ve been telling myself. The one set to continuous repeat: My mother doesn’t see me. She doesn’t get me. And the deeper sting, an interpretation from my inner little girl: My mother doesn’t love me.

I believed this story. I really did.

But I see this story differently now. I’ll tell you how.

I’ve worked with the spiritual mindset-training of A Course in Miracles for decades now. It has helped me develop self-confidence and a feeling of preciousness for all of my life, including the challenging parts. The more I let go of self-judgment, the more I open to bigger possibilities all around me. I am less needy. I am present.

More often now, I’m looking to see the opportunity for love in a situation. And more than that, I’m looking with love. And it’s amazing what you find when you look for it.

This is how I see that conversation with my mother now.

I think my mother didn’t say much about my book because she couldn’t. My mother was slowly beginning to lose touch with the world. Her mind was beginning to fail her. She was hiding this truth from me and my brother and maybe herself. Later we began to find little yellow post-it notes with words. Microwave. Telephone.

This is what I believe now. And it makes me sad to say. I don’t think my mother could read my book. Or understand it. I think she read what she could. I think she read the very short quotes at the top of each chapter.

She read what she could. She didn’t want to tell me the truth. My mother was too proud and probably too afraid to share her truth. So, she did what she could, and she praised what she read.

She did the best that she could. She probably always had.

And I didn’t see what was going on because I had a story about how she didn’t see me. Maybe I didn’t see her.

My mother died later that year. She had a fatal car accident, likely related to her fading state of mind.

And this is what I mean about how our stories change our lives. The story I was telling about my mother closed my heart. This story became a wall that blocked my vision. My story made me feel isolated, like someone who speaks a different language and can’t connect.

That old story didn’t empower me to show up with my love and greatest abilities. My “new story,” and I believe the truth of the matter, opened my heart with love, compassion, instant forgiveness and freedom. I believe the truth always sets us free and always sets others free as well.

That shift in story has me looking at all my stories. Because I know now how powerful it is to live with my heart wide open instead of locked shut and producing bitterness.

And yes, I promise you, there is always another way to see our lives.

It’s not about condoning cruelty or rationalizing away pain. I’d never ask you to deny your pain. I ask you to be willing, when you’re ready, to question the story you are telling yourself about what an event or situation means about you. Because you are precious and brilliant. And even when others are limited, they do not have the power to limit you. Ever. And when you change the way you see yourself, you may change the way you see others.

And that is a day worth telling stories about.


Here's my Coaching Practice for you this month:

Consider this: Does your story about yourself or someone else make you feel alive? Or does it dim or deplete you? What story would you like to see differently?

(Quick… email us and tell me a story you want to see differently. Sharing IS strengthening! I will hold it with you in love.)

With love and fierce support,

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© 2023 Tama Kieves. All rights reserved. 
TAMA: Honors graduate of Harvard Law School turned mojo career catalyst.
Best-selling author of 
This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You LoveInspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!A Year Without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence, and also Thriving Through Uncertainty.

This is my most popular program, and now it’s at a special holiday price – the lowest it’s ever been! Who would you be if you practiced listening to your own astonishing potential, every single day? A powerful accompaniment to my book A Year Without Fear, A YEAR WITHOUT FEAR Daily Mindset Shift Program brings you a year of 6-minute daily guided audio meditations (and coaching) starting on January 1, 2024! Through Jan. 5, it’s on sale for $99 – just 27 cents a day! This program works MAGIC, which is why so many people sign up for it, year after year. Oh, and it’s also an amazing gift of support, love and encouragement for your loved ones!
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