©2019 THE SMILE PROJECT

Tell Your Story - Res 32

August 20, 2017

Intro:

The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.  

 

At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.  

 

For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.

 

Res 32: Tell Your Story   

I knew what Alzheimer’s was. I knew my great grandma – who I never met – has passed from it. I knew one of the nursing homes I sometimes volunteered at in high school was an all-dementia home. I knew it was a horrible disease with no cure. But that’s about it.

 

Then I started working at that same nursing home and suddenly this disease had a face. It had a name. It had the personality of someone who wants to teach you to dance every evening after dinner. It had the heart of someone who loved listening to stories about animals. It had the soul of someone who wouldn’t say much except: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

 

I had heard about Multiple Sclerosis. I knew one of my neighbors did a big bike ride every year to raise money for the National MS Society. I knew that, like Alzheimer’s, there was no cure.

 

Then, I befriended two phenomenal women who are living with MS. They taught me about grace and positivity and kindness – no matter what. Suddenly, MS wasn’t just this thing that my neighbor rode her bike for. It was the faces and the hugs and the stories and the memories I shared with those two ladies.

 

I knew I should care about Alzheimers and MS before I took the job or made those friends, and in a distant way, I did. Everything changed of course, when these two causes became personal to me – when I suddenly had a very deep and profound connection to them.

 

Which made me think..

 

Resolution #32: Tell Your Story

Without the openness and honesty of my friends, would I be as drawn to the cause or would Alzheimer’s and MS continue to just be another item on a list of horrible diseases? Without someone making it deeply personal to me, would I advocate for funding? Would I donate money to the cause? Would I be outspoken about my experiences in these worlds?

 

First, I understand that I shouldn’t *need* to have the personal experience to care. Truth is, I don’t. I don’t know a single person who has AIDS but I absolutely think it’s a worthy thing to raise awareness and funding for. I don’t need to know someone with AIDS to feel this way.

 

That being said, the personal connection value is undeniable – people are drawn to things they can put a face to. So what faces do you represent?

 

I have a few close friends who have struggled with eating disorders and I have been amazed at the ways they have advocated for change because of their experiences. I have other friends who have fought mental illness and the ways they open conversations about this difficult topic has been inspiring. I could go on and on with examples of grace and bravery I see every day from the amazing people that surround me.

 

Instead, I’m going to challenge you to join the ranks. You have something within you that can change the world. You have a story that makes something very real and very personal for everyone around you. I know it’s scary to open that box. I know it’s intimidating to start that conversation. But what if you did?

 

Think of the way you could rewrite the narrative. Think of the lives you could change. The world needs what you have. And what you need is right inside you – where it’s been the entire time. Be brave. Take a breath. And tell your story.

 

Love always,

Liz

 

 

 

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