Ready for a New Life Story as the Music Plays and the New Year Approaches

by Judy Stone-Goldman on December 31, 2011

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On the cusp of change before 2012 I contemplate writing a new life story

Contemplating a new story as dusk heralds New Year's Eve

Here it is, December 31st, the sky dusky as we move towards evening, and I haven’t written a New Year’s blog. That startles me—after all, I love end-of-year reviews and the reflection inherent in this final calendar day. But I’ve also been caught up in the energy I felt on my big birthday just nine days ago. You might say I’ve been marinating in the sensations from the psychic shift of turning 60 and finding myself (gasp!) open to an unexpected change.

I thought about this last night while at a wonderful concert by the Seattle Baroque Orchestra. Called “A Toast to Brandenburg,” the program consisted of two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, two pieces by his contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann, and Bach’s famous—and always lovely—Air on a G String.

Your mind can go a lot of places at a concert, and mine traveled wildly in time last night. My life story has many musical moments, and I was visiting them in random order—from childhood recitals to piano lessons in Paris, from the comfort of a junior high orchestra (where intonation is a relatively flexible concept) to the agony of a high school conductor who terrified me and brought me to tears. I found I was remembering more failures than successes, more regrets than pleasures; my memories laden with discomfort and shame rather than with the sweetness of life and the beauty of music itself.

Then sometime during the concert I said to myself, “Why do I still blame myself for my youth? Why am I so harsh in remembrance? Why do I not understand that in my childhood, in my teens, in my 20s, even in my 30s, I was just a young person learning about life? How could I not have had many limitations? Would I ever be so unforgiving to someone else?” Then, “Why am I even dealing with this at age 60?”

That is when I knew that it was time to tell a new story. I wasn’t just trying to convince myself–I suddenly knew it. I am not talking about rewriting the old story. I’m talking about simply giving myself permission to tell a new one. Perhaps that means staying fully present in a concert, to appreciate the music without the parallel buzz of the old recriminations. Perhaps it means experiencing my creativity more fully, without the old fears and failures whispering in my ear. Perhaps it means saying to myself, “I forgive you for not achieving everything you dared hope for since the beginning of time.”

It now seems fitting that I did not write a traditional New Year’s blog this year with all the “re-” words (resolution, recalibration, review, renewal). I am not revising or rewriting (although nothing ever stops me from reflecting!). I am starting a brand new story, and I don’t even know the first sentence. I just know that I’m really ready.

Questions for Reflection: What old stories do you tell yourself? Have you been harsh towards yourself about other stages of life or is it easy to forgive yourself? Are there any new stories you are ready to tell?

Writing Prompts: “When I think of my younger self I ______” (then keep writing); “I have my own recurring story about ______” (then keep writing); “My attitude towards my earlier limitations tends to be ______” (then keep writing); “As I face a new year, I am ready to ______” (then keep writing).

 

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

bill austin howe
Twitter:
December 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

How wonderful it is to grow and learn with each passing day. DAY? How about every passing moment? Judy, you are so amazing! I have been so blessed to have you as a friend and an inspiration. Happy New Year!

Love,

Bill

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
December 31, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Same to you, Bill! We’re closing in on 2012! I haven’t finished your multipart blog but I’m looking forward to doing so after reading part 1. January 1st should be a great day for reading!

Enjoy whatever you are doing this evening, from quiet times at home to galas and festivities out and about (my husband and I are more in the former style). Happy, Happy New Year to you!

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Linda. B, December 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Love this!! You are never too old for new stories and new beginnings. Let the mystery and unpredictability of life carry us on its currents!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

Wonderfully said, Linda! May it be true for both of us. Happy New Year to you – hope it’s a great year with excitement (but not trauma!)

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Trish
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 10:37 am

Judy, What an inspiring post! Looking forward instead of in the rear view mirror — it is something I have to do too. I love that you gave yourself permission to be a young person learning about life. You are so right that we are much harder on ourselves than on others. I’m excited for the new story that you write from here on out. Happy belated birthday and wishing you and your husband a wonderful and joyous New Year. I also have to tell you how grateful I am to know you. You have enriched my life, Judy. Truly.

Trish
http://www.robertssister.com
caregiving. family. advocacy.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Thank you for your good wishes, Trish. Getting to know you through your blog has been one of the pleasures of 2011, and I love when you come here and comment. As for this post–I have spent so much time looking in that darned “rear view mirror,” I’m happy to redirect my eyes! The best in 2012 to you!

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Julieanne Case
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Yeah for you! I couldn’t bring myself to write a review of 2011 blog or a what do I want from 2012 blog. Nothing wanted to flow. But I did want to write about being in the present and letting go of spending any time on rehashing the past! It’s time to move into this moment so I don’t regret missing this moment and spend additional time in the past! The future will take care of itself if I follow my heart!

Julieanne Case
Always from the heart!

Reconnecting you to your Original Blueprint, Your Essence, Your Joy| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | The Reconnection| AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplements

http://thereconnectivehighway.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Julieanne, Letting go of the past is so obvious and yet sometimes so challenging. But when the time comes and we find ourselves ready, then suddenly everything changes. May it be a wonderful and fruitful new year for you!

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Harry Tinoco-Giraldo
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

It is such inspiring Blog Judy!!! Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself and looks that you have built a great path in your life!!! I think sometimes reality is the hardest thing to understand and the thing that takes the longest to realize. But once it hits you in the face you’ll never forget it. an I can see that u got it. Well done!!!!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for your enthusiastic comment, Harry! You are so right about being “hit in the face”–that moment of “getting” something means you never go back to the way you were before. Thanks so much.

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Maureena Bivins, PhD
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I agree with you Judy, stories are so powerful that they can take us right out of the present. Sometimes when I am surrounded by great beauty, especially with music or when someone is exceedingly kind to me, grief wells up along with unpleasant memories. When that happens I try to allow the associated emotions to flow through in an effort to honor my life experience and my efforts to muddle through. This prevents me from getting bogged down in the past–not always easy to do.

Maureena Bivins, PhD
Acupuncture & Somatic Therapy
http://maureenabivinsphd.com

Curious, committed, and compassionate.
What do you look for in a health care provider?

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for your wonderful insight, Maureena. I love the image of letting the emotions flow through. I don’t want to rid myself of those memories, just live in the present rather than directed by the old stories. Definitely not always easy!

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Vicki Dello Joio
Twitter:
January 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Beautifully evocative and, for me, timely, Judy. I’ve been musing on some of those old REgrets lately and thinking about what I haven’t done. I am hot n your heels to turn 60 soon and as I get closer, I am finding the grip of old shoulda-beens has lost some teeth. It seems to be happening organically, but I love hearing the perspective and intentionality you bring to it in your REflections. I am still musing on what the difference is between rewriting herstory and giving it a new story. I guess one changes the details and the other changes the core.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Vicki, I always relate to the way you frame things. For me, rewriting history is taking an old story and working with it to give it a new shape. But writing a new story is opening myself up to new experiences I might not have envisioned. I can’t say I’ve lived with this distinction–it’s just in my consciousness right now and in response to this blog. I’m sure my life will have some of both–rewriting and writing from new vantage points. I can’t wait to welcome you to 60!

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Cory Zacker
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

What is that saying, “Youth is wasted on the wrong people.” Oh, the insights we have as we get older; if only we had them when we were young. But that’s part of the process, right? We couldn’t be who we are today without going through all of life’s trials and tribulations. Thanks for sharing your recent insights, Judy.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Cory, Oh yes, if only…! You are correct, the whole point is that we have to grow in order to get these insights, and that takes time. Wouldn’t it be strange to have a 50 or 60 year old perspective in a 30 year old self?! Thanks for reading–wherever you are in the timeline!

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Imogen Ragone
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Isn’t it interesting how memories from even decades ago can still cause us to feel guilt, shame, anger or who knows what else. I love that you made a conscious decision that you didn’t need that anymore, and you are writing a “brand new story.”

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Imogen, Old memories have such power unless we dismantle them. I’m happy to be making progress in this realm. Thanks for being here and sharing mye experience with me.

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Wendee Neilson
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I’m pretty good at not hanging on to stories I tell myself these days. Although, I’m sure I do at times, and my friends will catch me and klonk me in the head and challenge me. One I do repeat is the weight challenge. I’m getting better and accepting myself more, but just wish getting into shape happened faster.

p.s. In college, I took music appreciation and chose to do my final term paper on Brandenburg Concerto No5. I love that, I listen to it over and over and over, even buying my own tape cassesette(before cd’s)

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Wendee, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 was on this musical program, and that is, indeed, one of my favorites. I first heard it when I was about 16, and I’ve never forget–it was a live concert, and it’s a very vivid one to see musicians playing.

Good luck with the continuing being-in-shape challenge. I’m so happy to be where I am today, and I’m also happy I was relaxed in progressing slowly. If you haven’t read my previous blog, you might want to: http://bit.ly/vmA5Z1 – I talk a bit about my training program and progress.

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Pat Zahn
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Oh man, Judy – I knew we shared the month but I didn’t realize we were both hitting milestones! Funny how the decade markers make us particularly reflective. I’m REally REady too.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Pat, Do I remember that you said it was your 50th? Great decade! Glad to have you along on the “milestone” march!

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Abigail Gorton January 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm

RE-wards and RE-joicing! I hope you are getting your fair share of both!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Hi Abigail – Love how new RE words keep coming! Thank you!

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Brandy Mychals
Twitter:
January 4, 2012 at 5:30 am

Powerful post, Judy…I was especially struck by the line: “I forgive you for not achieving everything you dared hope for since the beginning of time.” Wow.

In my work I talk about our “Inner Meanie” and I’m not the first to mention that critical voice we have inside. I identify how it sounds for each Character Code and why it shows up the way it does…amazing how it is so easy for us to be critical of ourselves!

Definitely forgiveness, self-love and open to new adventures…congratulations! Brandy :-)

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

Hi Brandy, Yes, we that critical voice can have a long life span! I’m excited to be challenging it and winning! Happy New Year to you.

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Jennifer Peek
Twitter:
January 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Music is such a powerful metaphor and way to connect the many pieces of life – I can see it weaving in and out of the various times of my life. This post, in particular, strikes me especially though because my inner dialogue has been pretty negative lately. It is time, as you note, to give myself permission to write a new story – and stop letting the inner meanie keep telling the old one over and over. Perfect start to the new year!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. Here’s to a year where we quiet the inner voice that is negative!

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Brenda Jones
Twitter:
January 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

It’s funny, I don’t have a lot of memories from childhood that haven’t been retold or seen in photos. But there are a few that are still clear as day of things I felt stupid about, shouldn’t have done, wished I could change, etc. Not sure what that means, but that is what I thought of as you shared your story about thinking of your past. In my latest blog, I talked about accepting everything in my past, loving who I am and knowing those things are how I got here… and taking steps to making this year my best life yet. I like the idea of creating a new story from here.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

Hi Brenda, I read your post and really appreciate the idea of bringing all of our life experiences into ourselves rather than trying to cast them off. I don’t think my old stories can ever be erased, and I’m not sure I want them to be. But I don’t want to rewrite them, either. Time for something new. Best to you in 2012!

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Susan Berland
Twitter:
January 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

You brought me back to my 50th birthday and that was some time ago! I had been depressed and upset about turning 50 for about 4 years. I had it in my mind that 50 was the beginning of the end. It was some invisible top and from there it was all downhill. On the evening of my actual birthday I was writing in my journal and realized that I had made it up to be something negative and so I could make it up to be positive and so rewrote what it meant to be 50. It was an epiphany and liberating. Sounds like much the same was true for you.

Susan Berland
A Picture’s Worth
http://susan-berland.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

Susan, Yes, a very similar experience! I don’t think I saw 60 as “the end” in any way, but it was just so scary and it definitely had been colored in my mind as a kind of “old” that spoke of endings. I feel so different now, and I’m so grateful for the shift I experienced. These are good decades, don’t you think?

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Jennifer Lynn Yu January 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm

As I face the new year I am ready to ROCK!! Rocking out to music always gets me going. We visited the San Francisco Symphony for NYE and it’s always amazing to just lose yourself among the music. From age 6 on music has always been a part of my life, when I started taking dance lessons. Then in 6th grade I learned to play the clarinet and continued playing through 8th grade. High School saw me tryout for a musical with the drama department, perform in the pageantry of the marching band and dance on the sidelines as a cheerleader. 2012 is the year for me to get up and skake it up!!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

I can feel your energy, Jennifer! Hope you have wonderful music in 2012.

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Dennis Salvatier
Twitter:
January 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

As I think of my younger self I can be a little forgiving. I had to grow up fast and responsibility was something that came early in my life, so I made some mistakes and thought I knew better in certain stages of my life, but I’ve accepted it and moved on. We can reflect all we want (it’s healthy), but when we cringe at things we’ve done, when we didn’t know any better, we should let go. The past is the past, and the future has yet to happen, so let’s live and enjoy the moment. At least, let’s try.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

Sounds like you’ve been successful at putting the past in its right place, Dennis. I’ve had to learn that lesson, but I seem to be finally making progress.

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Heidi & Atticus
Twitter:
January 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Wow — such a powerful post! but first I must say WOW — you took piano lessons in Paris?? I didn’t realize you were an accomplished pianist. Do you still play?

I don’t think we “rewrite” our stories, but I think with age & experience we gain a new perspective (pawspective!) on our past. I’ve been “reframing” of late… healthy I think.

Thank you for this thoughtful post, Judy!

Heidi & Atticus
http://www.atticusuncensored.com
“commentary to give you paws…”

Reply

Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
January 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

Heidi – Oh, I’m hardly accomplished! I was doing a semester abroad, and I was living with a host family where the mother happened to be a pianist! She had a beautiful baby grand piano in her Paris apartment. She took me to her teacher and had me take lessons. I will say that I never played better, as this teacher had me doing some new things. It was a real highlight for me. But I wasn’t as high-level as the whole scenario might imply! I occasionally play a little now but my shoulder and arm are not very forgiving and it’s difficult. Nonetheless, music had a really deep history for me.

As for reframing – I agree that we learn to see our life differently over time. We even learn to become more forgiving our ourselves!

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