This picture makes dribbling a basketball timeless. This picture makes me think kids have been dribbling Dick’s Sporting Goods basketballs in the streets of Italy for centuries and it makes me smile to know how classic and timeless our YMCA winter intramural sports leagues really were. And then I remember how, after the Saturday afternoon game, all the families would set up tables and bring out their wicker picnic baskets full of tablecloths and real china and chianti and we’d all share a meal in the middle of the court- kinda like “Under the Tuscan Sun” meets “The Bad News Bears.” In sweatpants.

No. None of that is real.

Oh the stories we tell ourselves. Oh the stories we live over and over again. Oh the stories that are shackling us to some identity that isn’t fixed or real or tattooed on our bodies and yet we live as though it were. My story is half light and half dark just like everyone’s. My story is about a creative girl who wants to be a helper and be liked by people and do her best, to extend grace and tell jokes and have fun and go on adventures. And other light stuff too that doesn’t come to mind right now.

That’s the light part of my story.

The dark part of my story is that she tells herself that the raw material of her personality is careless, over-dramatic, unstable, selfish and impulsive so she has to check herself over and over again to remember how offensive and offending she can be when she tries to “just be herself.” She is addicted to stressful emotions and she’s addicted to sad emotions where she tells herself over and over again she’s only permitted to strive this much and any time she strives for more, something happens to remind her she overstepped and that she needs to back up and apologize.

But what if none of that were true either?

What if I remembered that thoughts and feelings aren’t really me? What if thoughts and feelings aren’t any of us? They’re just things hanging around that we got used to along the way and turned into habits because humans love habits?

I like the light parts of my story. I say the dark parts of my story are just the hand I’ve been dealt.

And that sounds like loser talk. For those of you in education, you might see how personality traits and emotional patterns can be easily defined within a “fixed mindset.” And we know that in 2018 it’s all about the growth mindset. We aren’t products coming down an assembly line and boom. That’s all you’ll ever be. No. We are working to shape and transform ourselves step by step, day by day with more knowledge, more compassion, more patience to become the people God has called us to be.

Nothing’s fixed. Especially not our addictions to freaking lame-o emotions. They’re not real. They’re just habits. Time to create some new ones. What do you want to feel? What do you want to do? What, besides your own brain, is keeping you from doing it? What’s the story you’d love to tell your kids? Remember: where the story starts doesn’t have to be where to story ends.

It reminds of that time, growing up in Tuscany, when my great grandmother sold her great grandmother’s broach passed down through the generations from the Medicis (her ancestors) just so she could ride her donkey all the way down to that corner shop. What was it called? Oh yes. Dick’s Sporting Goods just so me and my little brother could feel the faux leather goodness of an Italian basketball in our hands as the sun dipped in the late summer sky.

Pick up your pen. Write your story. Look in the mirror. See the possibilities more than the problems. That’s what I’m going to do over here. Ciao, bella!