11 BEFORE / AFTER

Song 09 - That Happy Day. Click to explore themes and stories relating to this song.

Sometimes it takes a cataclysm to realize that you need to make a radical personal transformation.

Introduction
Lyrics
Stories and Remembrances


INTRODUCTION

And here we are: it’s the last song of the 2020101 project.

Back when we began this project — when I was organizing the themes that emerged from the stories we collected from people’s experience of the year 2020 — I decided that this theme might be a good one to end with. I’m so glad I did, because — as I’ve worked through the material for this song, and in the process of writing it — I have found it to be a healing, helpful theme for me in my own life. I hope it is for you, too. (click to continue reading)

There were more entries in my notes about this theme than any other in our story collection — it was clearly a very big thread running through people’s experience of 2020. Over and over again, I read what people shared with us about how the events of 2020 conspired to bring them to a realization that something akin to a total personal transformation was required in their lives. 

A change in perspective.
A need to slow down.
A focus on the question, “What really matters?”
A commitment to self.
A commitment to the relationships that matter most.
Going deeper.
A reckoning.
An active pursuit of healing.

Somewhere in the exploration of these imperatives, people shared how they had a realization that the way they’d been doing things — living on autopilot, maintaining the status quo, never pushing their wheels out of well-worn ruts — was not working for them anymore. In fact, they came to an understanding that old ways likely hadn’t been working for them for a while. But with the world — and their lives — suddenly interrupted by the historic events of the time, the jarring stop was like an earthquake rattling the house, calling attention to the fact that some fundamental things had to change.

Letting go …

… of busy-ness.
… of old patterns that no longer served them.
… of unhealthy habits.
… of self-judgement.
… of fear.
… of people-pleasing.
… of material possessions.
… of manicuring their image for social media.
… of unhealthy relationships.
… of connections to people who harm their wellbeing.
… of anger.
… of old beliefs that had held them back for too long.

Letting go … so that they could make room for …

… taking their own power back.
… physical and emotional healing.
… an understanding that they are enough.
… vitality in their bodies and minds. 
… grace for themselves and others.
… a life that they enjoy. 
… time for themselves. 

… introspection.
… learning about themselves.
… following their curiosity and daring to try new things.
… deeper connection with loved ones.
… delving into spirituality.

… calm, peace, and gratitude.
… listening to their own instincts.
… fulfillment in their work.
… sobriety.

… enjoying simple things.
… establishing healthy boundaries.

… self-love.
… wellbeing. 
… abundance. 
… hope.
… transformation.

I imagine that world history might record 2020 — with its global pandemic, its loss and grief on a mass scale, its social justice uprisings and political instability — as a year that formed the fulcrum between what was Before and what came After.

But in absorbing people’s telling of their individual experience of this time, it’s apparent that many humans’ memory of the year 2020 may also be a personal story — of who they were Before, and who they became After. 

And maybe this phenomenon — around the globe, people facing some kind of a individual reckoning, almost simultaneously with potentially billions of others — will be a sustaining impulse for us, citizens of planet Earth, to establish ourselves on a path toward collectively creating an After that serves us all.

So long, Before.
Here’s to a better After.

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LYRICS

Well, I guess this is it, then
We’ve come to the part where I let go
Because going on from here
Requires a lighter load

I thought that I needed
This to be what I’m supposed to be
But I have changed my mind, in fact
It’s changing everything (click to continue reading)

And I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
So I can say hello
I can say hello
So I can say hello

It may look like nothing
But the fundamental structure of belief
Under all I do and say and make
Is changing now, you’ll see

‘Cause history came here
And didn’t she throw a spoke into the wheel?
I straightened up from grinding
And felt a weight I could no longer wield

And so I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
So I can say hello
I can say hello
So I can say hello

There was a time before
And there will be a time after
(My whole perspective has changed)
(Total transformation)
(I got inside myself)
One thing I know, if I’m to get there
I must shed the old masters
(What really matters?)
(If I continue on like this, what will my life look like?)
From before
(Old patterns that no longer serve me)
(Goodbye to people-pleasing)
(Old beliefs that held me back for too long)
To welcome the after
(I’m taking my own power back)
(Listen closer to my instincts)
Say goodbye
(I am enough)
(I’m welcoming abundance)
To before
(What do I have to lose? Only what needs to be let go)

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
So I can say hello
I can say hello
So I can say hello

Well, I guess this is it, then
We’ve come to the part where I let go

words and music by Shannon Curtis
published by Shannon K (ASCAP)
all rights reserved; lyrics reprinted by permission

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STORIES AND REMEMBRANCES

If you have a story to share about realizing in 2020 that you needed to make a radical personal transformation, please send it to Jamie at jamie@misfitstars.com.

  • jamila f.
    The disruption of my normal in 2020 was probably the best thing that could’ve happened. My normal was my lack of presence in my own life and relationships, of being on a constant hamster wheel, of chasing money and being in debt and doing lots of unsatisfying work. I knew my life needed a big… Continue reading jamila f.
  • clara b.
    I quit a job, quit a band, shaved my head, moved … what else could I have changed!
  • vincent p.
    I got a new lease on life between last year and now. I took on a new career only to learn it wasn’t for me, and I had a health scare, but now I’m fine. It was a humbling and educational experience.
  • terry b.
    I realized I needed to make a radical transformation to manage and stop my intense PTSD and nightmares. I started ketamine infusions, and it changed my life. I’m finally sleeping, and it has felt like the luxury I always imagined it to be. Working therapeutically forward is clearing out some hard as fuck shit. I’m… Continue reading terry b.
  • anonymous
    2020 was a year of monumental change for me. It started in January; I read the first chapter of “The Power of Now” and decided to start taking one class at a time at my local community college to get prerequisites done for nursing school. I took “Intro to Nutrition” online and loved it. Then… Continue reading anonymous
  • drew m.
    I turned 50, and while I’m immature for my age and still look like a young Jim Palmer, my body has had lots of issues, requiring multiple hospital stays, a first for me. Having my emotions, committing to eating and exercise for real (not talk like before) and adjusting my outlook around what I am… Continue reading drew m.
  • angel c.
    Total mixed bag. Had covid for 2 months. It was terrible. A year later, and I’m still not right as far as breathing and headaches are concerned. Started focusing on what I call “Life 2.0,” and reassessing what I want, what I do, how I do it, and what I want to do differently. The… Continue reading angel c.
  • elizabeth g.
    Always been a yo yo dieter all my life. Almost 57 soon and just had enough. Presently down 41 lbs. Taking its sweet time coming off but it’s coming off. I did this once before and dropped 100 and never felt better.
  • samantha c.
    I’m not sure I can even put it all into words. The easy thing to identify was realizing how unhappy I was with my job — but I had to create / force the creation of a new path to get to my new role. And really honing in on my primary career goal, which… Continue reading samantha c.
  • john d.
    For me, it was finding a new job helping special needs kids and leaving a corporate position that was causing me depression and anxiety. #livealifeyoulove
  • chris v.
    I was already over a year into my life transformation (Chris 2.0 as I’ve taken to calling it), so 2020 for me was more of a strong reassurance that I was on the right track. However, so many people around me turned major corners in their lives last year, and I set my focus on… Continue reading chris v.
  • helen a.
    2020 was bittersweet for me. It was a year of ups and downs. One thing I learned about myself is not everyone has to like me. I am who I am and no one’s opinion is needed. I am doing me for once. I discovered the kind of person I want to be not who… Continue reading helen a.
  • dan m.
    I had to learn a bunch of skills to help me market my bands better. I learned a bunch of new website technology, and I became a very good video editor. I also learned everything about doing virtual streaming shows and all the back-end technology needed for that. So I have a lot of new… Continue reading dan m.
  • debbie d.
    I let go of a lot of relationships that I was no longer aligned with … feeling free … maybe for the first time!
  • alec s.
    My big realization was around my career aspirations, which initially had felt true to me and who I am, but as years passed didn’t resonate with me in the same way. I’m still in the middle-ground area of feeling out where my vision and aspirations lie in that regard. But also, I’m oddly content and… Continue reading alec s.
  • elaine n.
    I started counselling …
  • michelle r.
    Before COVID was an everyday word I had my gallbladder removed. That was only January of 2020. Up until that point I was trying to get sober and failing. I went to meetings, had a sponsor, and was attempting to work my way through the steps. The night that I went to the hospital I… Continue reading michelle r.
  • heather h.
    I had to make a lot of profound changes over this last year, but my two biggest and most important were regarding anti-racism and our democracy. I have always spoke out against racism and embraced all people regardless of skin color. I grew up in a White upper middle class neighborhood and only one Black… Continue reading heather h.
  • aj d.
    For me, it was realizing I needed to find a new job.
  • mark a.
    I made a total health overhaul. Dropped 70 lbs by sticking to a plant-based whole foods / auto-immune paleo thing, and dropped my dependence on caffeine while increasing water. Simple, basic stuff. Makes all the difference.
  • chelsea r.
    Transitioning to homeschooling was a major transformation for us that relieved a tremendous amount of anxiety for us and provides a significantly better education for our son.
  • jennifer p.
    I decided I’m going to focus on traveling. Made a bucket list and am doing them. I started a FB group all about travel for peeps with metastatic breast cancer. 60 of us are headed to Nashville this year!
  • betsy f.
    I’m going to call mine “radical change lite.” I realize that I do not need to add in all of what was making my life hectic, complicated, expensive, or stressful prior to COVID. I’m choosing to be more selective, to embrace more solitude, to say yes to things I truly want or need to do,… Continue reading betsy f.
  • diana h.
    I made a radical change in my life November of 2019 — but the pandemic was perfect timing for me to move to an apartment in Chicago and have all the solitude required to carefully remove all the shards and splinters from my heart.
  • tanya t.
    I quit drinking to live with less anxiety and be a more present parent! Which led to starting grad school, paying off $42K in debt, and running my fastest marathon ever!
  • kat s.
    The simple life that’s been carved out for us by the pandemic has been positive. We mostly hang at home in the back yard (which we are so thankful to have), and go on bike rides and beach visits. It’s definitely given us a new outlook on what’s important and how we spend our time.… Continue reading kat s.