HEADLINES NEW

In the spirit of giving, let me share one of my favorite holiday blonde jokes. Being born one, and as a roving reporter for the Midwestern Yellow Blonde Association of Ding-a-lings (MYBAD), let’s get the presses rolling:

Two blondes decided that this Christmas they wanted to cut down their own Christmas tree. So they drove two hours into the country and walked deep into the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. They had planned the trip well, especially considering that they were blonde. They were dressed warmly with boots, warm coats and hats. They had a chain saw, hatchet, a bag to protect the tree and rope to drag it back to their car. Every detail was covered.

They searched and searched. They had gone to all this trouble, nothing but the perfect tree would do. They searched for hours through knee-deep snow and biting wind. Finally, five hours later with the sun beginning to go down, one blonde says to the other, “I can’t take this anymore. I give up! There are hundreds of beautiful trees out here. Let’s just pick one whether it’s decorated or not!”

OK, OK – I’m not proud of laughing every time I hear it, but I do. Then, the other day it hit me; maybe, just maybe, our two blonde adventurers were on to something. Earlier this week, it was 39-degrees @ 5AM. It felt downright tropical (pretty good for a Chicago December). Had it been August, there would have been team-reporting on the morning news with panic in the streets at the coming Ice Age! It’s all about perspective.

 This just in…For good or ill, so much of the emotional messaging others feed us from childhood onwards has a way of morphing into how we define ourselves.

Anytime we hear ourselves saying something about never having been good at one thing or another, there is a very good chance it’s our self-authored definition speaking. I mean really, have you ever actually tried underwater basket weaving or did you just believe the grown-ups around you when they said you would never get the hang of it and didn’t bother to try – much less fail. Think about it.

Luckily, headlines are a lot like algebra problems. If true, the equation will run the other way too. If X+Y=Z then Z-Y=X. If you had an affirming childhood, you don’t remember not being a good musician; or puzzle solver or widget maker. You believed it and it became so…your storyline; your definition. Hold on to that one, because we’ll come back to it in the Bonus Round (thanks Rosie).

But positive or not, I seriously doubt I’m much different than anyone else. I struggled for years under the weight of other people’s negative definitions which I had unconsciously taken on as my own. I’m a [fill in the blank]. Are you? Or is [fill in the blank] something that someone else felt important you believe about yourself? And while we’re on the subject, what was in it for them to even plant that kind of bad news in your head?

Me, claiming the authority to redefine my own storyline has been one of the essential tools in my walk towards being a functional, emotionally integrated human being. With everything else we could have been given, the one thing the Cosmos made sure ALL of us received was ‘free will’. Accidental? I think not.

 

Like I do every year about this time, I’m going to challenge some of my half-empty definitions this week. If you want, you can do the same thing with some of yours.

1) If there is a holiday tradition that has always irked you, decide not to do it this year.

2) Presuming the sheets on your bed are sort of clean, try sleeping with your head where your feet normally are.

3) Or, if you never look at yourself naked when you get out of the shower, try it.

Whatever you do, be your own newspaper reporter. Be as impartial as you can be in reporting your own story to yourself. And remember, whatever you end up doing to flip the half-empty glass on its head isn’t nearly as important as noting the differences you see for having done it.

I had a journalism teacher back in high school who taught me the technique of taking out a piece of notebook paper and writing down three headlines that defined who I was or how I was feeling. Go ahead. Go back to class with me and try it for yourself.

First Step: Keep it short. Write a headline about yourself. You might even add the opening sentence or two of the story. That’s it. No more.

And one other thing: As you write, don’t be seduced into lying about facts or past events that actually happened. Without them, your past wouldn’t have brought you here, to today. As in any healing process (and that’s what redefinition is), it’s important to call those things for what they were – good or bad.

Second Step: Go to the bottom half of your page. Using the same facts from the first headlines, rewrite each one to now read how you would like them to appear in tomorrow morning’s paper. Engage all your senses in rewriting what are essentially, your old definitions. What do you wish your new headline said? It’s your news story. Stick your neck out…after all, it’s only a piece of paper, right? Even if it takes a couple of tries, play with it. No one is going to read what you write down.

Once you’re satisfied, re-read your new headlines – out loud. What do they make you feel about your choices in the coming year? Be honest. How’d you do?

Here’s the magic driving the whole exercise: The act of writing your headlines down (much less reading them to yourself out loud) fires all your senses.

You are touching the paper as you hold it. You’re reading with your eyes as you speak your late breaking edition while your ears listen to what you’re saying. The only thing you haven’t done is taste it. But unless what you’ve written is some kind of security risk, I don’t recommend eating your homework like your dog did with the book report you never did. Truth Seekers do the work.

My point is your fingers, your ears and all your body’s other systems are now ‘reading’ something other than what your ‘insides’ have been telling yourself up till now. Your body understands how emotions can lie to us as they come and go like fast-moving clouds. Writing, then reading your headlines out loud so the rest of your body can hear helps expose the lies we all tell ourselves to ourselves…lies that limit us more than any outside force ever could. Why do we turn such power on ourselves in such punitive ways?

Another tip: Keep your one piece of paper handy. Whether you choose wallet, purse, backpack, car visor or under your pillow – the ‘where’ doesn’t really matter. What matters is having ready access to your new headlines so you can read them out loud to yourself. Do it a couple of times a day for at least three weeks. Unless I miss my guess, you’ll begin sensing a difference you didn’t even know was inside you.

Then, in three weeks, repeat and rinse. That is to say, repeat the whole ‘headline’ exercise. Do three more from scratch. With that, you’re well on your way to winning your own Pulitzer. To get you started, here are three I wrote in one of my old journals:

Like our two blonde woodsmen, I’m wagering you’ll begin to realize our decorations are for other people. In fact, other peoples definitions of us can actually get in the way of discovering there has been a beautiful “tree” inside you all along.

Before long, everything (and everyone) around you will start to look different the more you work on re-writing your story.

Some won’t like your new perspective, but their stories aren’t nearly as compelling as your new headlines. If they start bullying your new perspective, tell them to shove it (in the spirit of christian love) and go write their own story; you’re on deadline.

Ultimately, no one can really stop your presses except you.

Write a new headline for yourself. Claim it. Work on it. Declare it important. Repeat it as often as you need to. No one’s counting. Even blonde reporters like me know you’ve got a powerful story. All you need is a gifted editor…someone who understands the true meaning of the story.

Someone, like you.

Until then,

   Dan

“Best Wishes to You and Your House from Me and Mine”

Joke Attribution: http://www.tonyryan.com.au/blog/?p=804 ;

Photo Credits: Santa Headlines http://sanderssays.typepad.com/sanders_says/email_rules/ ; Reporter Kermit and Elmo http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Reporter_Kermit ; Glass Half: http://freshbump.com/half-full-glass ; Glass Half Measured: http://jan.ocregister.com/2010/10/12/business-owners-mired-in-recession-mineset/46994/glass-half-full-560/ ; YellowPaperPad: http://www.deviantart.com/print/11111003/; OneShiningTree: Image Source Page: http://animalszooguru.blogspot.com/2010/11/christmas-tree-santa-claus-wallpapers.html

 

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About dan4kent

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dan lives in the Chicagoland area. With a grown son from a previous marriage, he has since built a committed relationship of 32 years with his partner Rick, the Love of his Life. Having written his whole life, he blogs because he has to write…he can’t help it. Know the feeling? There’s ‘good‘ to be found in all of it. “If all I do is leave someone (or something) better than I found them, then I’ve done my part. Thanks for letting me grace your screen, if only for a little while.”
This entry was posted in Gay, Hope, Humor, LGBT, Life, Life Lessons, Love and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to HEADLINES NEW

  1. Katy Flick says:

    Mr Dan, I can’t help but wonder if you wrote this with me in mind. ;0)

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