The other day, my son complained about feeling left out as the youngest kiddo in the group. I found myself commiserating, telling him that I’d always been the youngest, too, and had also felt left out.

As soon as I had that thought, a part of me stepped back and asked if that was really true. Have I really always been the youngest? Have I always felt left out?

True, I am the youngest in my family, and growing up, I was the youngest kid on the block. But was that the whole of the story?

It wasn’t until I sat down to write about it that I saw just how much I’d allowed this old, unexamined story to inform my life choices. After all, Ken’s a few years older than me, as are most of my closest friends.

But I also have friends who are younger. I’m 47 these days, and my beliefs about age have changed as I’ve grown older. Writing about those changing beliefs helped me release another layer of that old, “left out because I’m younger” belief.

So why am I telling you this story?

Because it’s fascinating how the old, unexamined stories we carry around inside of us impact our lives, as well as plant the seeds for our future.

In the scope of things, a story about age and its accompanying beliefs might seem pretty insignificant. And yet, just look at how those old beliefs have impacted my present reality. If they’ve had that big of an impact, you can just imagine the cost my bigger stories are having on my life!

That’s why I’m a big believer in taking the time to look at these old, buried stories and release them.

As Brene Brown says, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”

Man, is that true. I’ve seen this over and over again in my 19 years of writing and teaching. When we don’t have the time and space to acknowledge our stories (and let’s be honest: who does in this busy day and age?), those stories inadvertently run the show. We can end up feeling stuck or confused, without a clear understanding of how the big events in our lives have shaped us, without a confident path forward.

This is where writing does its magic—it helps us heal the stories of our lives so that we can move into the next chapter of our lives with ease and grace.

That’s why I write. It’s also why I teach. Because the life-changing magic of writing is real, folks. It’s saved my life over and over again.

It’s helped set me free from the old, inherited stories of my past, and it’s helped me chart my way forward during messy and challenging times. In fact, I wouldn’t have a grief memoir out in the world if that book hadn’t grown out of my messy, imperfect journals.

That’s why I’m so excited to help support you as you dig into your stories. Because writing really can set you free. And with the New Year on the horizon, the time is now, friend. Let’s use your writing to set you free. Let’s make this your year to thrive!

Much love,

Tanja

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