Tag Archives: Reframing

The Story Behind Our Stories

For the past few years meditation has become a daily practice for me. I love my Headspace and Calm  apps that have made creating this habit of self-care so easy. This week one of my Daily Calm meditations was called “Stories”.  It really resonated with me because I believe so profoundly in the power of story to shape how we experience life. I wrote a blog post entitled How Do You Frame Your Teaching Story in September of 2017. Each day we create a narrative in our minds, or that we share with others, conveying the events. And even though we may teach lessons about perspective of the narrator, we often forget this when it comes to our own stories, our own narration. As I suggested in my 2017 blog post: “Whether we tell or retell these stories to others, we replay these narratives in our heads and in our hearts. They begin to define those moments and ourselves as though they are the singular truth. They begin to shape our perceptions of our students, our teaching, our lives.

But there are stories we tell ourselves about all aspects of our lives. As Tamara Levitt (Head of Mindfulness at Calm) teaches us, “The stories we tell ourselves can be limiting. We have these ingrained stories about who we are they can go way back into our past and formed by others. Sometimes it only takes one person’s opinions that can create a story that lasts a lifetime.  Stories can dictate our beliefs and limit our ideas of who we are, what we’re good at, and what we’re not. We can second guess ourselves and lose confidence in ourselves.  We need to challenge these stories and ask:

  • Who created that story?
  • When was it created
  • Is it entirely true
  • Does it serve us?
  • Can we let it go?

I just found out this week that my ILA proposals were rejected and I won’t be presenting with some colleagues that I was so excited to work with. There were a number of avenues for telling that story. I could tell it with an angle of bitterness, depression, resentment, or discouragement. Sure, I was disappointed but I don’t want that rejection to define me, my efforts, or the proposal of my colleagues. We’ve got some great ideas and we are going to keep proposing them. I’m not letting our story end with a rejection letter.

Sometimes we create stories in our personal, as well as professional lives that keep us locked in cycle of discouragement. Teaching is hard. Balancing work and family is hard. Trying to stay fit and healthy is hard. Building financial security is hard. But are the stories we are telling ourselves inspiring us to  achieve in these aspects of life, or reinforcing the difficulties and hindering our success?

A friend posted this quote by C.S. Lewis to her Facebook wall this week that fits so well.Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 9.45.16 AMWe all want a happy ending to our life story, but are we actively creating it or are we drafting story arcs that no hero can overcome? We can reflect and ask ourselves:

  • Are we victims waiting for rescue from another character in the story, or are we shaping our own destinies?
  • Are we aware of the trajectories we are creating in our stories?
  • Are we aware of the power we have to revise our stories?

Don’t reflect with a sense of guilt or shame, just curiosity and awareness. Be kind and forgiving to yourself in your stories and then be empowered to embrace them, revise them, or change them. You can’t go back, but you can go forward.

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 10.11.27 AM
May your stories be great!

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 9.45.11 amShared Spark! Starting next weekend (March 1) I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge and blogging every day using sparks from my new book. You can preview it here for free at the Stenhouse Website.

In the meantime, here’s a reframing Spark!


Think about your day and quick write with each of these perspectives. First try the half-empty perspective and playfully recount your day as though you were Debbie Downer for 5 minutes. Now tell the story as if you were playing Pollyanna’s “Glad Game”. What do you notice? Which is easier? Which is closer to your default approach? How could this reframing be helpful to you or your students?

One More Off My TBR Stack!

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 10.29.33 AM

REBOUND by Kwame Alexander

Kwame is a master of novels in verse. In this follow up to “The Crossover” we read the story of Charlie (Chuck) Bell as a boy- before becoming the dad to Jordan and Josh Bell. In the summer of 88 he’s just lost his own dad and is sent to live with his grandparents when he can’t seem to make good choices and crawl out of his grief. It’s a pivotal summer for Charlie and told in poignant and often humorous verse that will draw you in and trigger every emotion. Can’t get enough of Kwame’s writing and his compassionate messages for kids coming of age


Reflect. Resolve. Reframe.

Many of us oldladyyoungwomanhave seen this image before.  What do YOU see? An old woman with a large nose looking down or a young woman looking away?  It is the same picture-it is only our perception that is different.

Last day of 2013.  How do you see the year that was?         What is your perception of 2013?

Seems like everyone is taking some time to remember and reflect.  I’m no exception.  I love top 10 lists.  I love reviews of the year’s best books, movies, news stories, etc. I love flipping through my journals, my photo libraries, and Facebook pages to remember images and ideas I thought important enough to capture.  It is satisfying to contemplate goals achieved, tasks accomplished, memories made.

It’s not just fun.  It is foundational.  It is generational.  We use everything that we experience, learn, notice, share and understand as a foundation moving forward.  So how we contemplate these memories will shape the trajectory of the next year.  If we end the year with regret, how do you think we will begin the new year?  Do attitudes just magically transform at the stroke of midnight?

Are we anxious to get this year behind us?  Do we hope next year will be better?

As I look back on this past year I will take some time to appreciate how each experience has shaped who I am and has brought me to this moment in time.  I cannot change any events, but I can make every event an opportunity to learn and grow-even events long past.  So I will take some time today to reflect on what lessons were offered up to me with each book I read, each classroom I visited, each teacher I worked with, each friend I spent time with, each experience I shared with my children and husband.

This reflection, this perception,  will catapult me into a new year wide open with opportunities to learn and grow. I cannot predict what will happen.  I cannot control what will happen.  I can only choose how I will approach what happens.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not resolving to become Pollyanna, but I will encourage myself to look at life with more than one lens-to let perception shape my reality.

So rather than generating a list of resolutions this year I think I will focus on one idea…


It’s not new, it’s not exciting, it’s not easy but it is probably the most powerful gift I could give myself if I want to live a richer, more meaningful life.


We find disappointment when expectations seem to fall short.

We perseverate on the few things we failed to accomplish and give little recognition to the multitude of tasks we do accomplish.

We allow the urgent to replace the important.

We see the glass as half full (or empty) rather than completely full only because of what we perceive is in the glass.

We are not patient or compassionate with ourselves.

But what if…

We think about multiple success criteria for expectations.   techincally-the-glass-is-always-full-1

We recognize the little things we do as worthy and things undone as future opportunities.

We define what is important AS urgent.

We fill our glass with what WE choose so that it isn’t filled by others.

We treat ourselves like a nurturing parent filled with unconditional love and patience would treat us.

It’s not just positive thinking-it’s OUT OF THE BOX thinking that can reframe situations and events into meaningful experiences.  When we face challenges we need to approach things not only with an open mind, but a new mindset.  As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

I’ll revisit this concept more often in the coming year.  Some resources that have helped me on this journey so far are:



What’s on My Book Radar?

I am thoroughly enjoying my Book a Day Challenge. I have been posting my reads on twitter.  So many wonderful books!  You can follow me at https://twitter.com/LitCoachLady

I always love Malcolm Gladwell’s unique spin on universal experiences.  Whenever I need to challenge perception, I can count on his insights to stretch my thinking.  Got this one for my husband at Christmas- I might jump in line ahead of him to read this!

Wishing you much joy and prosperity in the new year and the ability to perceive that it is already yours!
What direction will your life take in 2014?

Click here to test YOUR perceived direction!