Sunday, October 9, 2011

Was I Switched at Birth?

I was sick a few days ago and spent a couple of days camped out on the couch. With little energy to do much else, I browsed through Netflix and watched a movie about two little boys who were accidentally switched at birth. When I finished the movie I saw a television series, Switched at Birth, based on the same premise. However, instead of little boys, the main characters are two teenage girls. I’m no teenager, but the show really captivated me. I will have to patiently wait for season 2 to become available to see what happens next.

I think two of the underlying themes of the series are ones all of us can identify with, the difficulty of fitting in, as well as being accepted for who we are.
I remember when I was a young girl I wondered if I had accidentally been delivered to the wrong family. I was the only one who hated math, loved reading and had a crossed eye. Physically I couldn’t deny my heritage. There is a striking resemblance between me and my siblings, especially to my older sister Diane. Complete strangers would come up to us and mistake us for one another well into adulthood. However, when it came to other matters, I was a polar opposite of the rest of the Marks clan.

In retrospect, I think most of us feel out of step, even within our own family dynamic. In fact we may even feel that way about our place in the world as well. How often have we wished to go back in time and change past choices or whine about the ramifications of our decisions? It has to be a common thought because I have seen dozens of movies with a similar premise.

However, we should not wait for an angel or magical genie to appear and change our life. But that does not mean we should give up hope for a brighter future. All of us have the power to affect change. Oddly enough, rather than do something to improve our situations the typical course of action is to whine, stay stuck in our own miserable mindset, and then wonder why our lives turned out the way it did.. It’s as if our life is a television show and rather than switch the channel, or write a new script, we continue to not only play these sad episodes, we play them over and over and over again.

In our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I interviewed a woman named Tammy D’Antonio. Tammy is an intelligent, strong, articulate woman. I assumed she came from a wealthy family who had ingrained a strong sense of purpose and pride in her warm, but ambitious soul.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

When I interviewed Tammy I learned both her mom and dad were drug addicts and her mother was murdered by drug dealers. Tammy’s only brother also went to jail for drug-related crimes (however he has since turned his life around.) Rather than stay immersed in family tragedy and drama, when Tammy was a teenager she decided she could write her own life script.

In the book she defined some of the goals she set for herself.

1. Set goals.
2. State your intention.
3. Take action.
4. Have faith.
5. Always keep moving.
6. Never be defeated.
7. Always strive for something bigger than you.
8. Have humility.
9. Love.

Later she would convert to Buddhism and incorporate a more spiritual approach to integrate into her goals to improve her life. However, using these simple nine goals, she changed the direction of her life.

The important thing to remember is we have far more power than we believe. We may not be able to change the past, but we have the power to create our future. While it may seem seductive to imagine how our lives may have been different if we had made different choices, or better yet, been born to a better family, that is not reality.

While fictional television shows and movies are entertaining, they are a writer’s creation, not fact. Your life, good or bad, is your creation. Or, as in the words of David Thomas: If there are things you don't like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different.”

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