Day 831: How do you tell the story?

I am starting my story today with the last picture I took yesterday, in my office.

I wrote that in a therapy session, where somebody  was  telling a personal story with paralyzingly harsh self-judgment  and hopelessness about the future.

I have witnessed, many times, how people can get stuck in negative stories about themselves, ignoring  positive exceptions and different perspectives.

Yesterday, I encouraged that person in therapy to

  • let go of an overwhelming and crippling sense of personal failure,
  • to  see themselves as the hero of their own story, and
  • to allow for the possibility of hope and change.

And by the end of the session, there were some glimmers of hope about the future.

How are you telling your own story these days, to yourself and to others? Are you the hero of your own story? I hope so, because who else could possibly play that role, in The Story of You?

How might I tell the story of the photos I took yesterday, presented here in chronological order?






Each of us could tell the story of those pictures in many different ways — depending upon what we notice and the history and assumptions we bring to those images.

I’ll tell you my story of this photo:

Everybody is self centered. The difference is the size of the radius.

And here’s my story about these two:

I have no idea how those photos got on my iPhone.

As I often see in clients (and in myself, too), negative stories tend to stick, leaving less room for the positive ones.

For example, 10 days ago, a cardiologist told a doom-filled, scarily negative story to me, about me, my health, and my future, even though he had just met me and had no medical tests on hand about my very unusual heart.  Ever since that very upsetting encounter,  I’ve  been trying to get that negative story out of my head, by telling parts of it here and elsewhere.

Retelling a story sometimes includes rewriting new dialogue. For instance, since I was too shocked to respond to that cardiologist telling me that —  if I didn’t have  valve surgery  as soon as possible — I would “die a miserable death, ” I am now wishing I had changed that story by replying:

Well, at least I am not living your miserable life.

I don’t know if that’s the best way to tell that story, but I am hoping that telling and re-telling the story of that miserable doctor’s visit — with or without new dialogue — will help me let that story go.

Based on the advice of several people I respect,  I am seriously considering telling the full story of my awful meeting with that doctor to the appropriate hospital authorities.  My main reasons for doing that would be

  1. to prevent other people from telling an upsetting story about encountering this doctor in the future and
  2. to help put that anxiety-provoking story behind me, as I prepare for a less invasive surgery on May 4th and allow room for the more hopeful and complete stories my long-time doctors are telling about my unusual, story-telling  heart.

What will I do in the future, with that upsetting doctor story? I am in the process of figuring out what will benefit me and my personal story, going forward. In other words, the ending of that  story hasn’t been written, yet.

Speaking of ending a story, what musical story should I include, now?

Bette Midler tells an amazing story, doesn’t she?

Many thanks to Bette Midler and to all who help me tell my story in a hopeful and healthy way, and special thanks to you — of course!– for reading my story, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “Day 831: How do you tell the story?

  1. A cardiologist who specialized in the human heart, yet lacked one. I’m sorry you had to experience that; going through the physical rigors of heart disease is bad enough. Dealing with an unfeeling doctor makes it ten times worse.

    • I liked the way you told the story of this comment, Kate. It was very helpful for me.

      • I’m glad. I have great respect and admiration for the way you continue on in spite of the blows you’ve experienced health-wise. Your posts are witty, thought-provoking, touching and honest.

      • Your story about my story helps me a great deal, Kate.

  2. You are amazing, Ann, how you post as you do every single day. You have my respect, friend!!! Hope all is well with you and you feeling good!!! (((HUGS))) Amy

  3. I hate it when physicians have so much medical knowledge … but no bedside manner. I hope that you will connect with a doctor who has a better sense of your health and is far more comforting. Best wishes to you, Ann.
    My favorite photo – in your gallery – is the one with the baseball glove and ball. There appears to be two sets of eyes (the white framed windows) peering out between them. Very amusing.
    Bette Midler is so talented. Thanks for including her song. 😉

    • Thanks for the story you told here, Judy. My long-time cardiologist has a really solid sense of my health and is comforting AND very smart, thank goodness. I consulted with this other guy because he’s a famous expert and I wanted his opinion about one aspect of my May 4th operation. Even though he was totally against doing that less invasive procedure, he did give me the information I needed. So that’s one way I could tell the story of my encounter with him — it was painful but a success!

  4. I think you should report that Doctor Ann, and your new story will be protecting future people from such a scary story. I’m so angry with that Doctor right now! Peace and love to you. ❤
    Diana xo

    • Thank you for this beautifully feeling, thoughtful, and loving comment, Diana. You’re one of my favorite story tellers!

  5. As you know Ann – sharing our stories and taking our own advice is healing and empowering.
    You are doing everything right my friend.
    He was an ass!
    Hugs xoxo

  6. The oncologist treating my mother told me and my father, when she was terminally ill, that they would keep her in hospital and sedate her until she choked to death. I wish I’d reported him for his crude insensitivity and coldness. As it happened, his words convinced my father to take my mother home where he nursed her until she died with the help of hospice care. Still not a good death but at least she was in kind surroundings. As it happened, I saw a psychologist after her death, to help me cope, got into poetry, and got my rage out through poetry. I forgot about the poem I wrote about the oncologist until I found it a few years later, and I laughed my head off. It was vitriolic, rude, funny, and right off this planet. It was so healing to read that poem when time had dulled the grief I felt over my mother’s horrible death from lung cancer.

    • I’m sorry to hear about that painful time. It’s amazing and wonderful how art and our own creativity can be such healing forces. I am very grateful you shared your story here.

  7. yeoldefoole

    I thought that one slide said “Ham Reduction” until I went back and looked at it. I was so sorry I did – I really liked “Ham Reduction!” 😉

  8. How do I tell a story? badly……..that’s how, I suck at it just saying

  9. I wonder what that doctor is saying right now to his own therapist? Hmm

    You are a hero in my story. I have a few heroes. And I am the ànti-hero, sometimes the villain, sometimes the bystander.

  10. Ann, How impressive and generous that you would transform a disturbing, painful incident into an insightful tool for all of us! I admire your strength and intrepidity in crafting the stories you choose to tell. And I am grateful. Best wishes and hugs!

  11. I think that is how I wake up every morning ~ seeing “some glimmers of hope about the future” and of course going to your blog and seeing your words and photos always makes me feel great (and your nice musical selections are always a perfect note to have playing for the day as well). What a talent you have of telling stories with your words and photos ~ even when the stories are sad and frustrating. Having to deal with such a inconsiderate doctor as you have is disappointing to hear, how and why keeps racing around in my mind…but then I do not think the physician is really conscious of the harshness or damage his words can bring (and never will be), which in a sense is even sadder.

    However, you’ve healed and empowered many per the great session you opened with, and to me that is just perfect 🙂

  12. I think that miserable doctor probably already had heard of the error of his ways, Ann. Word gets around. The fact that he’s not reached out to you in any way to backtrack or explain or anything at all makes him even more miserable to me. You are lacking, sir, who must certainly read Ann’s very public blog about her very special heart, of which you are supposed to be an expert. That’s my story, Ann.

  13. I think doctors probably need to be more holistic, but that skill seems to take years to develop. I would say he was probably highly opinionated, and didn’t have the listening skills to hear your story and perhaps admit that there may have been more experienced doctors (or centres) and help you find one. He could have helped you that way, but good listening skills are very hard to come by these days.

  14. “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”-
    Winston Churchill

  15. I love the photo of the arms all reaching out for the ball- so full of hope. That dr should be reported- he had no right to speak to you in such a manner- I think by saying something it might help you to put it to rest and allow you to get it out of your head somewhat. What a miserable person he is.He sounds like an insensitive egocentric maniac. On to the positive!!

  16. Bette Midler can help make anything less stressful! Good choice. Your story reminds me of an experience we had several years ago that also involved a dreadful doctor. He also made a snap judgment that was upsetting and as it turned out, inaccurate. I told that story for years, and each time relived the anger. It surely did NOT occur to me to think of rewriting that story. What an excellent tool for the future. As you move closer to your May surgery, I really hope you’ll be able to “excise” the careless and devastating words of the first doctor. ox

  17. My story began in 1953, and I’m adding to it all the time.

  18. Pingback: Day 2479: Why should we care? | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  19. Pingback: Day 2550: Narrative | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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