How to Change the Stories You Tell Yourself

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite William Blake

Around and around I went.

Like a Ferris wheel. 

It was only a pattern, a habit, an unexamined cycle. 

It wasn’t something I was proud of, but it was my reality.

It was the world I created for myself.

It was full of fear. Full of scarcity. It was survival.

I lived in it for many years until I examined my prison.

Fortunately, I was open to changing my perspective. If I am not open to examining my perspective, I accept I can create a mental prison.

It’s invisible. I had many blind spots.

Blind spots create pain.

Blind spots create struggle.

Blind spots create unhealthy realities.

When I examined my mental world, I realized it was full of scarcity.

My worthiness was scarce, although I had several accomplishments.

My happiness was scarce, although I did many remarkable things.

My finances were scarce, although I had plenty in the bank.

Love was scarce, although I was loved by many around me.

Relationships were scarce, although I personally knew many people in the area.

I was always afraid, although I was never in physical danger.

I had various phrases I used to think and tell myself.

Here are some examples of mental stories I told myself…

“You’re not good enough.”

“Who are you to do this?”

“You’re not old enough to do that.”

“What will others think of you?”

“What if you get rejected?”

And I’ve changed these stories. This article shares what I’ve learned in the process.

Powerful analogies to the stories we tell ourselves

When I get a flat tire while driving, it’s immediately noticeable that I get a flat. I feel the bumpy driving. Maybe I hear the tire get punctured. I know what needs to happen next.

In life, the equivalent of a mental flat is when we struggle for too long. It’s a mental growing pain. Until we look at this behavior under this lens, it can be a blind spot.

When a painter paints on his canvas and is too focused on the small area where he is painting, he can’t see the full picture. Sometimes, in life, when we don’t see the stories we tell ourselves, we fall into this trap of being imprisoned by the stories, stuck in a small area, thinking small, and living small.

When the CD skips and the music abruptly jumps, we know the CD is likely scratched. What’s the solution? Clean the CD. For this to work, we must first understand that it’s only a CD. It’s only a mental story. It’s not us, it does not define us.

The rear-view mirror of a car says, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” For us to gain another perspective, we must seek it. We must look for another perspective. Use another mirror or look over the shoulder in a car. This is not a reactive act. This does not happen by accident. This is a proactive practice.

When we’re consumed in fear, it’s hard to see our story. Fear, a biological survival instinct, used to keep us alive. Now, it can keep us in survival mode. In survival mode, we cannot detach from our story, we are simply consumed by it because we’re fighting for our survival. This takes effort to transcend.

Why you would want to change your inner narrative

Maybe you don’t realize it, but the story you tell about yourself says more about you than the story. The way you see the story says something about you. Neither good nor bad, it simply is. I want to raise your self-awareness to help you consciously and proactively decide if you want that story.

Until you understand your story, you may attract others with the same story. There are reasons why cycles and habits and patterns live on through generations of families. Objectively speaking, it’s because we don’t invest the time to understand our story and the way it’s affected us (possibly because we never had an opportunity to learn or it never entered our awareness). Conscious or not, who you choose to surround yourself with says something about you and the stories you tell yourself. Nothing good or bad, it just is. (Same is true for me)

Maybe you’re tired of blaming external circumstances. Maybe you’re ready to change yourself. Maybe you’re ready for one of the most meaningful journey’s you can take… the journey to better understand yourself. Blame is the discharge of comfort and pain. Maybe it’s time to face within and stop blaming.

The empowering truth about your story

You decide your truth. You decide what truths you want to accept. If you accept these truths, you will find yourself with less friction to change your story.

Believe that you are not your story. Your story does not define you, it’s just your story. Sure, it’s the only thing you have that’s unique to you. But it is not you. The more you attach your identity with your story, the more friction you create for yourself in changing your story.

Believe that age has nothing to do with it. It’s easy to say, “I’m X years old, this is not for me, I should have this figured out!” I believe that I am doing the best I can, with what I’ve been given, with where I’m at in life. Because I believe this for myself, I give this gift to everyone else. It is the foundation of my empathy and compassion. When we learn how to respect our own journey, we can respect the journey of others. Age has nothing to do with this. We are never taught this truth in school.

Believe that it’s only a story. To center myself, I like to zoom out. I like to remind myself that I am 1 of ~7 billion people on this planet. BILLION. That’s a lot of people. Everything I experience is affected by only 2 factors: 1) my biology. 2) the stories I tell myself (the inner narrative). If I had 3 hours of sleep last night, it will affect the way I experience the next day. If I tell myself I am afraid of what others think of me, then I live in that fear of what others think of me. I like to ask myself, “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” After I acknowledge the story I am telling myself, I then ask, “What can I tell myself to better serve me?”

This is not about happy thoughts and positive thinking. This is about having the self-awareness to understand the stories you tell yourself so that you can rewrite your stories to reach new levels of awareness and personal growth. Not for yourself, but for others. For legacy.

Understand how your story affects your biology

I’ve written before about my past story of personal surrender.

It was the moment life brought me to my knees and I was forced to examine the story I was telling myself. It wasn’t serving me anymore.

A scab on my leg from a mountain biking accident didn’t heal itself after several months.

Eventually, I took notice.

The scab on my leg was not healing itself because my body’s immune system was weak.

Why?

It turns out, eczema (a skin condition) took over my scab.

Why?

My eczema is aggravated and triggered by stress.

Why?

Stress is experienced by what I believe about stress (and other thoughts). Yes, if I believe stress is good for me, then I experience it in a positive way. If I believe it’s bad for me, I experience it in an unhealthy way. Actually, if I believe it’s good, I live longer. If I believe it’s bad, I die sooner. If this sounds crazy, watch the TEDx talk.

Our thoughts, and the words we use, and more importantly, the relationship we have with the words we use, have the potential to affect our experiences.

I covered this in-depth in an article about self-awareness.

Burn out, depression, and having a stroke can be the result of weak stories that we tell ourselves that are not sustainable.

If you proactively practice gratitude, you’ll live longer. Think about it. Scarcity is fear-based. Gratitude is abundant and truly powerful. If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Stress and anxiety also manifest in our bodies in other ways. How about sweaty hands? How about sweating from nervousness? How about talking too fast? How about being unable to sit still? We can blame certain factors and pop a pill, or we can accept that maybe the world we’ve created for ourselves isn’t serving us. (It’s ok, it’s just a story…)

Why we have weak belief systems

At HX Works, I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection.

I believe there are 2 ways to respond to life: out of trust, or out of fear.

Often, we learn how to respond to life before we’re able to understand what we’re doing. Meaning: there is a childhood response driving us all (until we examine the behavior and move beyond it).

These seeds of stories get planted by society, caregivers, parents, teachers, bosses, professors, and various connections we make to others throughout our developing years (and even into our adult years).

Often, we have these experiences, and we cruise through life in autopilot, not aware of the stories in the mind. Since I am the only person I have to live with throughout my life, I invest the time to live with myself.

I believe that vulnerability is power.

Vulnerability is embracing uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure (Brené Brown). Vulnerability is the foundation of creativity, change and innovation.

All of these stories we often tell ourselves prevent us from vulnerability.

Many of the stories I told myself above tried to keep me away from being vulnerable. Or my struggles with perfectionism. Or how I gave my power away to others. All of this prevented me from being vulnerable.

When we embrace vulnerability, we embrace the truest sense of reality.

The reality is, life is uncertain. There are risks involved. If we’re not exposing our emotions to someone or managing them, they’ll force a surrender.

This is a natural law, like gravity, it cannot be fought.

Yet, the voice in our head makes it easy to avoid it and to ignore our objective reality.

I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection.

The root of many of the voices in our mind are rooted in the fear of disconnection from others. This takes effort to transcend.

Because we don’t experience life as it is, we experience life as we are, many high performers, entrepreneurs, and high achievers, are driven (conscious or subconscious) by the fear of disconnection. We’re not living to make a difference, we’re living to be worthy. (This used to be me, I know this story) When this is not understood, these things take power over you and they feed your blind spots.

Blind spots can lead to pain, discomfort, struggle, burn out, depression, or strokes… either we consciously decide to understand ourselves better, or natural law forces a surrender.

I like to ask myself, “Am I making this decision based out of fear or trust?”

Trust overpowers fear if we allow it to.

This is about self-awareness. I realize it’s easy to read this stuff and automatically think, “Well, that’s not me.” I challenge you to reflect on this. Not for me, or yourself, but for those around you.

Oh, and for the record, this cancerous lie we tell ourselves of “fake it until you make it” is not healthy. It disrespects our objective reality and further propagates weak belief systems.

When we trust, we embrace uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We’re living.

When we fear, we seek certainty, perfection, rigidness, and absolutes. We’re surviving. (This also weakens us by forcing us to surrender our power to others)

This is about living more proactively and less reactively.

Understanding the 5 stages of competence

In psychology, the conscious competence learning model can help us understand the progression of changing our inner narrative. I’ve modified it with a 5th element.

Unconscious incompetence is the first stage of the model. Unconscious incompetence happens when something is in your blind spot. You don’t know what you don’t know. You may deny what you don’t know. Until you recognize what you don’t know, and see the value of the new skill/awareness, you can’t move onto the next stage.

A basic example of this is when you were a toddler and you didn’t know that one day you’ll probably drive a car. Until you accept that you don’t know how to drive a car, and until you see the value of learning how to drive, will you move onto the next learning stage. The same is true of your mental patterns. Since they’re abstract and not as concrete as driving a car, they require effort to work through. Usually, you need a powerful cause to force the effect of changing your beliefs. But does everyone need to learn the hard way?

Next is the conscious incompetence stage. At this point, you recognize that you’re conscious, or you understand, what you don’t know. You see your incompetence or lack of understanding or skill.

In our driving example, at this point, you’re in your mid-teens and you’re starting to see the value of driving for yourself. You accept you don’t know how to drive but see the value in it.

Thirdly, we have the conscious competence stage. This is when you understand or know how to do something. However, it requires focused concentration. The process needs to be practical, simple, and broken down into steps.

In driving, this often happens in a focused format during driver’s education. First, there is reading material and videos to learn from, and then there is focused time behind the wheel. Heavy concentration is required to carry this out. In the context of changing your inner narrative, this is often where people get stuck. People may, at some level, know what they’re doing and what they need, but it never moves beyond that because effort is not invested (or practical solutions are not discovered).

The last stage of the official conscious competence model is unconscious competence. This is when the skill or inner narrative becomes second nature. No effort is required because it’s automatic.

In driving, this is when you can talk on the phone, eat food, and drive with your knee. No, I’m kidding, I hope you’re not multitasking while you’re driving! However, most of us live our mental lives like this… we never see clearly because we’ve never turned on the windshield wipers to learn how to see past the dirty window. Strong belief systems give you power to live with strength (for yourself and those around you). It’s just a story, that’s it.

The last added stage to this model is mastery. It’s when what you’re doing happens with unconscious competence and you know what you’re doing enough to teach it and explain it. When you can teach what you’re doing, you can fully detach from it, examine it, and explain the behavior.

Simple strategies for changing your inner narrative

Before I continue, I want to repeat something I said earlier. I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection. Many of our behaviors can be described under this lens.

If you woke up one morning and you realized you put on socks that you didn’t like, how do you change them? Take them off and put on a new pair, duh. 🙂

Changing your narrative works the same way.

To change it, you must disconnect from the old story and connect to a new story.

Here are simple and practical tips to changing your narrative…

Understand the source

Some say this helps, some say it isn’t necessary. I want to include it here because I think it’s valuable. It’s easy to tell someone, “well, just change your thoughts.” When you understand the root of your thoughts, you may uncover other patterns and/or thought patterns related to that. Identify the fear or reason underneath the thought.

Understanding where that fear came from (maybe a person or an experience) can also be valuable to deeply understand how, conscious or not, you affect others.

Accept your narrative, but don’t embrace it, yet

Accept the narrative. If you don’t accept it, you add tension to moving past the narrative. No judgment, no critical thoughts, no negative feelings towards the thoughts, simply acknowledge the thoughts for what they are… thoughts. After you’ve taken off the sunglasses, or the narrative you have, analyze it. Ask yourself, is it serving you? Is it beneficial? Or is it holding you back? What would the narrative be if you focused on something else? It’s all perspective.

After you’ve accepted and detached from your narrative, how can you laugh it? Imagine all of your old narratives and stories that you tell yourself as gummy bears on the floor. Then imagine stepping on them. Seems silly, right? The more you can laugh at your narrative, the more you reduce the friction for getting away from it. It’s a mental game.

After you’ve accepted, detached, laughed, and examined your narrative, find a new narrative that you want and start to attach to it.

Be mindful of your body and how you feel

Depending on your life experiences, “feelings” may not be something that are valued. You may even be moving so fast onto the next thing that feelings are the last thing you think about.

Be mindful of slowing down and paying attention to your body. Pay attention to how food makes you feel. Pay attention to how your thoughts make you feel. When do you feel great? When do you feel uncomfortable? When do you feel nervous? The more you become aware of the tension within, the more you’ll be able to uncover the thoughts and patterns that create the tension.

Journal nightly

To detach yourself from your narrative, journal nightly. Express yourself openly and honestly. How was your day? How did you feel? Did you do what you wanted? When you’re done writing the summary, read it back to yourself. Disconnecting and connecting yourself to your story helps raise your awareness to your narrative and how you are. Be honest.

If you’re working through a certain narrative, or if there is a specific thought that you want to change and not have, ask yourself a question to counter what you don’t want.

For example, when I struggled with self-acceptance, I asked myself, “What do I accept about myself?” When I struggled with fear in my life, I asked myself, “What do I trust in?” When my world was full of scarcity, I asked myself, “What am I grateful for?” When I wasn’t aware of my wants or what I wanted in life, I asked myself, “What do I want?”

I asked myself various questions for hundreds of nights. Answering a question that counters a limiting belief for hundreds (or even dozens of nights) will raise your self-awareness.

You can write this down in an app (I like DayOne for iPhone), or you can write it down by hand in a physical journal. Whatever works best for you.

Speak the new narrative out loud

When I focused on gratitude, it didn’t stay in my journal. My gratitude found its way into my language. I started saying phrases such as, “I’m grateful to be here.” Or, “I’m grateful to have this time with you.” I also started using phrases such as, “I trust that…” when talking with others. Or, “I accept that I …” This process can take months or years. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done for myself.

To make this more real, tell a close friend or significant other what you’re doing. Share what you’re proactively working on. Share this article. Maybe even have them let you know when your old narrative comes out (whatever you want to replace). (You might inspire them)

Meditate

Meditative practices mean different things for different people. Maybe this means sitting in silence and paying attention to the thoughts in your mind.Don’t try to control them, simply observe. The more you do this, the more you intentionally connect yourself to yourself (crazy thought, eh?).

Maybe this means a guided yoga practice to do something different, focus on breathing, and focus more on being mindful of your body.

Maybe this means going on a walk every night and reflecting on your day.

Whatever you do, set reminders to do it daily. Everything I’m sharing with you are things I’ve worked on. Set triggers to help remind yourself.

Find a greater meaning

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, coined the phrase “logotherapy.” Logotherapy is the process of finding a greater meaning behind your experiences in life.

For instance, if I had a bad accident, I could focus on the pain and my accident. Or I could focus on the lesson the accident taught me and believe that it’s preparing me for something greater. This meaning is highly personal. Where can you find deeper meaning in your life?

This, in a way, changes the inner narrative because it can put your focus on something greater than yourself. It can be something meaningful to you.

Mind your connections

Again, I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection. The sum of your connections brought you to this moment in life. You’re connected to your body, your DNA, the stories you tell yourself, your life experiences that have brought you to this point, and more. The more you understand all of these connections, the more you can shape them to serve you so you can create the greatest impact in the things you do.

The more you unpack your narrative, the more you can understand the narrative you want to change. The more you understand this, the more you can understand what’s connected to your narrative.

For example, when I was changing my inner narrative in the past, some of my narratives were tied to certain friends. While I proactively worked on that narrative, I limited my time with those friends so I can strengthen my narrative and gain control of it. (I could have also brought my friend’s awareness to what I wanted to change about myself, but I didn’t think of this at the time)

Often, we get caught in our narratives because we’re not evolving our environments and our relationships. Imagine if you hit a “refresh” button on all of your friends and you could start over by being whoever you wanted to be.How would you be?

Think about that for a moment. I’ve scheduled dozens of lunches with new people simply for the sake of re-telling my story and finding out what I enjoyed the most.

Friends, or environment (Facebook?), or significant others, or employees, or even parents, have the ability to influence your inner narrative (some more than others). When this happens, you get put in a box. In psychology, as the labeling theory says, you act out as you’re labeled.

At some point in your life, you taught others how you are (consciously or not), and that construct of who you were may be difficult to change. The more you’re aware of how others do this to you, the more you’ll be aware of how you do this to others. Pay close attention to the language. Be mindful of statements such as, “Oh, that’s just how he/she is” or “it’s ok, that’s just you.” These are powerful words.

Or maybe you connect your inner narrative to fear about your environment and decide to stop watching horrific news.

Or maybe you discover that the “I’m not good enough” narrative is getting old so you take a break from social media and seeing what everyone else is “doing.” Maybe, you decide to be selfish.

Be mindful of your connections. They often have more power over you than you think.

Know your connections, know your focus

Part of changing your narrative is by changing your focus.

When I’m mountain biking in advanced trails in the Southern California mountains, errors can result in intense pain. Boulders, rocks, roots, ruts, cactus, and cliffside exposure are the norm on many rides. When mountain biking, I focus only where I want to go. Not a split second of thought gets focused on where I don’t want to go.

In life, the same lesson applies. It’s a game of focus. I’ve explored this in-depth in my article on what mountain biking can teach us about focus.

Before I get on stage to speak in front of an audience of dozens or hundreds, I focus on my breathing. I slow my breathing down. It calms my body. Having done this dozens of times, the nervousness eventually goes away. If you want to escape a mental pattern, focus on your breathing. It affects your whole body.

When you understand your power, you’ll understand how to focus your power on what matters – often, your narrative. Willpower is finite. Your ability to make effective choices is limited. To optimize your days, focus on things that deeply matter to you.

And while I’m at it, who do you focus on the most? Yourself, or others? If you focus on yourself, what do you get out of that? For me, I get understanding about myself (which, as I write in a powerful article on self-awareness, helps me understand others). If you focus on others, what do you get out of that? I imagine, if I spent more time focusing on others, I would miss out on opportunities to learn about myself.

Reframe your narrative

Ah, the power of reframing.

I could tell myself, “But I have no experience in this, I’m not good enough.” Or I could tell myself, “My strength is that I have no experience in this, I bring a fresh perspective.”

I could tell myself, “I’m not old enough, I don’t have enough life experience.” Or I could tell myself, “I have the resources to learn and the ability to adapt and the energy to make it happen.”

The answer lives in changing the perspective. Take whatever you think is a weakness or a narrative you don’t like and find the opportunity or the strength in it.

After you’ve changed your narrative

After you’ve changed your narrative, you choose your world.

This requires focusing your power on the thing you have control over, your self-awareness.

Imagine showing up exactly as the person you want. No doubts, no insecurity, no limiting beliefs, no old you, only the new you that you want.

Too many die with their music inside because they don’t invest time into this process or were never aware of it. Don’t let that be your story.

As you take this journey, remember, personal growth is not personal. It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with your children (if you choose to have them), your friends, the people you work with, and the people you love the most. This is about how you affect them. That is your legacy.

Your external world is a result of your internal world.

Do you value self-awareness and want to strengthen your beliefs?

Today’s article was written by Michael Gallizzi and is shared from the following website: https://hxworks.com/insights/how-change-stories-you-tell-yourself/

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Build a Legacy Through Sharing Family Stories

What matters most is what lasts longest, and our FAMILIES are for eternity M. Russell Ballard

Every family has stories to share, whether the central characters are heroes or villains. Regardless of what color of hat they wore, most ancestors are worth remembering and their stories are worth preserving.

During RootsTech 2017, Hank Smith shared some moving stories about how his family stories have brought him strength and how he wants to ensure that that same strength is available to his children and his children’s children. As Hank reminds us, if those stories are going to get passed down, we need to commit to making it happen.

You can hear what he had to say about the importance of passing down family stories in the following video.

How will you make sure your own family stories are passed down? Here are some answers to common hesitations you might be having right about now:

Easy answers to your hesistations about recording family history.

Download infographic here.

  • “I don’t know what to write about.” Anyone can get writer’s block from trying to write on demand. Instead, capture ideas when they come to you, whenever they come to you. Write them down in a notebook or a notetaking application on your phone, tablet, or computer. Write or record the actual story when you have time.
  • “I am not a good writer.” Anyone can tell a story. You don’t have to be an experienced or award-winning writer to tell what happened in your own words, as you remember it. To make it simpler, consider using your phone’s audio recorder. The FamilySearch mobile apps are simple and free tools to help you record your stories and connect them with your ancestors in Family Tree. Learn more about how to use the mobile apps. If you do want to brush up on your storytelling prowess, a quick Google search can get you started.
  • “I don’t have time.” There’s no simple way to create more hours in the day. However, you can take advantage of little slices of time to capture a story here and a story there. Record stories on your phone while you are fixing a meal, walking to the bus, or visiting your parents or another relative. Don’t get hung up on the story being long or polished. Just focus on sharing the key moments that tell the story.
  • “I’m not good with technology.” If the idea of using a mobile phone or computer to preserve your family stories has you running for the comfort of your notebook and pencil, don’t fret. Just record your family stories in whatever format makes you the most comfortable. What you write can be shared and handed down to your posterity. Consider enlisting the assistance of a family member who is more comfortable with technology. It will be a blessing in their lives to help you preserve your stories and share them more broadly with family.

Take a minute today to make a plan for how you’ll make sure your family stories are told. You won’t regret it, and future generations of your family will thank you.

Today’s post is shared from the following website: https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/build-family-legacy/

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Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage

A Happy Marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short Andre Marois

Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience — trial and error.

Here are 10 principles of success I have learned from working with and observing hundreds of couples:

  1. Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.
  2. Couples discover the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.
  3. If you do what you always do, you will get same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.
  4. Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.
  5. Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
  6. The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth — i.e., someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
  7. You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope — almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
  8. Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” — when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
  9. Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Successful couples have learned to resist holding grudges and bringing up the past. They remember that they married an imperfect person — and so did their spouse.
  10. A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.

Today’s article was written by Mitch Temple and is shared from the following website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/daily-living/keeping-romance-alive/ten-secrets-to-a-successful-marriage

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Love Overcomes Barriers…

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope Maya Angelou

Simon was so ill, we moved wedding to the hospital!

As Natalie Flowers vowed to love her husband in sickness and in health, the emphasis was very much on the former.

Police officer Simon had spent 14 months planning the perfect day with his beautiful bride. But with just weeks to go he was rushed to hospital with crippling stomach pains and diagnosed with a perforated bowel.

A series of emergency operations left him fighting for his life in a coma. During that time Simon missed his stag party and his birthday and it was clear he wouldn’t get to the church in time.

So when he woke up, Natalie decided to bring the wedding to him – and the couple tied the knot in the chapel at University Hospital in Coventry last June.

Natalie, 24, says: “It was really strange walking through the hospital in a wedding dress.

“People were staring at me and taking pictures. Simon came down in his wheelchair but he was determined to stand for the vows and the first dance.”

Before Simon’s operation, Natalie suggested they bring forward the wedding but he was determined to recover in time to make it to the church, as planned.

But when he couldn’t, the couple pulled out all the stops to make their Plan B as special as possible.

They were joined by 80 friends and family, who rallied round to arrange for a cake, bouquets of bright flowers and a buffet to be delivered to the hospital.

There was even a special surprise waiting for the newlyweds when they returned to Simon’s room.

Natalie recalls: “The nurses had put a sign on the door that said, ‘Just married, do not disturb’.

“That night we shared Simon’s hospital bed. We just lay there in our pyjamas, watching DVDs!”

As special as that day was, the couple chose to renew their vows last month on Simon’s 30th birthday. This time, the service was held in Hinckley, Leicestershire, not far from the home they bought together the day that Simon proposed.

It was followed by a reception at Hinckley United Football Club, who donated the venue free after reading about Simon’s story.

This time there were 200 well-wishers, including a very special guest of honour – son Charlie who was born in December and who joined them on honeymoon to Cornwall.

Simon, who has had to spend several stints in hospital with complications and pneumonia, says: “The wedding and the blessing were both as special as each other for different reasons.

“We finally got to have the day we’d originally hoped for.

“We got to spend it with everyone we wanted and we even got to share the day with our son.”

Today’s story was written by Warren Manger and is shared from the following website: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/love-conquers-all-how-three-2073455

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The Blessing of Adoption

Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it Fleur Conkling Heyliger
It’s safe to say that one of the greatest feelings in the world comes from the warmth of being unconditionally loved. Whether that mean the love of your spouse or partner, or the connection you share with your mom or dad. Or even the loving bond between your siblings and friends.I’m extremely grateful for all the love that I’ve had in my young life. But the truth is, there are many parts of the world where unconditional love is lacking. With wars taking place each and every day, messy political battles, starvation, and greed; the world needs you more than ever.

Because even in the darkest of alleys, remains the fact that we as humans are meant to love.

I wrote this essay nearly 4 years ago during my sophomore year of high school, and to me, it captures the essence what unconditional love really is. Certainly, my birthparents weren’t the only ones to show me this mysterious force, but the story carries an invaluable lesson that you can probably relate with.

Unconditional love is the solution to all of the worlds’ ills.

While the details of this story may differ from yours, I ask you to go forth and share the light within you.

This is a tribute to my birth parents – because of their unconditional love I am able to share my passions with the world – I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake tossing and turning. What was I to expect? What was I to call them? Mom? Dad? I will never forget the day I hugged my birth parents for the first time in a mid-sized chain restaurant. I was 12 years old.

But why?” I often recall asking my mom, when the subject of being adopted came up. “Because they loved you honey,” she would patiently reply.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have been nothing but honest with me concerning adoption. For this reason, I have become comfortable openly talking about adoption.

I’ve always found it funny, how when a person I know discovers I am indeed adopted, they are always afraid to ask questions. Now, I know they are just trying to be respectful, but I have nothing to hide.

My parents’ honesty and candor regarding adoption has caused me to admire the both of them, greatly. I realize that not all children are as lucky as myself. I have heard stories of adoptee parents who have hid the fact from there children that they were adopted.

This saddens me deeply. Being adopted is nothing to be ashamed about. I am truly grateful for how my life has turned out thus far.

My birth mom at the time of her pregnancy was not married to my birth father, their relationship anything but stable. Receiving news that she was to have a boy, she began to think.

She couldn’t stand the thought of me not having a father; a father to play catch with me outside in the backyard; a father to take me camping on the weekends; a father to give me the always dreaded “birds and the bees” talk.

For this reason my birth parents agreed, for my own well-being that I was to be put up for adoption. For my birth parents to put up their only son for adoption, shows how much they loved me. To do what they did must have been one of the hardest things they had ever done; but when it came down to the future of their baby boy, they knew what they had to do. To this day I thank them.

My parents always wanted to have kids, and like many other families, adoption didn’t even register in their minds. They tried to have kids the “normal” way. Nothing. They tried again and again and again. Still nothing.

Finally after a visit to the doctors they discovered that having biological kids were not part of God’s plan. For a couple whose only dream was to raise their own children, this discovery became -as my parents recall- “one of the lowest points of their life.

Biological kids may not have been in God’s plan, but the man up stairs had something else up his sleeve.

My parents – still distraught over their inability to have their own children – had nowhere else to go, they turned to prayer. It wasn’t long before their prayers were answered, in a form a of a phone call. A friend of my mom, who ran a daycare center, knew of a lady who’s sister was putting her baby son up for adoption.

My parents jumped on the bandwagon. With in a few weeks I was in their hands. Who said not being able to have biological kids was a bad thing?

It was finally the day! The day I was to finally meet the two people who brought me into this world. I picked out my favorite pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt, and a sweatshirt – in which an outline of snowboarder gracefully covered the front.

My dad, mom, little brother, cousin, and I were to meet my birth parents for lunch. I had been waiting for this moment all my life. Who was I going to look more alike? My mom? My dad? My mind was bombarded with questions on the drive (which seemed like forever) over to the restaurant. We got to the restaurant and parked.

With every passing moment, my heart began beating faster and faster, for reasons I can’t explain. At the last moment I became scared, so scared I almost couldn’t move. We opened the door to the restaurant and walked in. Off to the side, there was a couple with a table reserved. The couple – my birthparents.

The next few minutes are hard to recall, as it all happened so fast. All I remember is hugging both my birth mom and birth dad and feeling a sense of joy fill my body. I was the luckiest kid in the world. I had four parents who would give the world for me. I had seen pictures of my birth parents as a child but nothing beat a real life photograph of them.

We continued on to have lunch, which was filled with lots of questions – none concerning adoption, of course. What was my favorite color? (blue) and so forth. I can honestly say that was one of the best meals I ever had.

Every day, I thank God for how things have turned out in my life. It is amazing how our lives are a mere result of cause and effect. If one small piece of my past were altered, it would change the world today. I respect my birth parents for giving me up, for doing what they thought was right, at the time. This is a pure act of love.

To say they were successful in providing me with a good life would be an understatement. They provided me with the best life a kid could ask for.

I also thank God for not allowing my mom and dad to have biological children, for if that were to have happened, I would have not been adopted by some the most loving parents in the world. I wouldn’t be who I am today, without their guidance and knowledge. This is all part of God’s plan and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today’s story was written by Bud Hennekes and is shared from the following website: http://thinksimplenow.com/family/unconditional-love-being-adopted/comment-page-1/

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