who are you?

“Who are you?”

What a simple question, right?  But when you take it apart and really consider it, it’s a pretty huge idea.

It seems like everything in my life right now is pointing me in the direction of digging in to that idea.  Quick aside in all seriousness: I love the phrase “digging in” so much that it might be on my headstone when I die.

I digress.

This idea grew from a conversation with my therapist, then took root when I stumbled on an Instagram post by Melissa Hartwig (the amazing, kick-ass woman behind the W30).  I found myself thinking: I want to know who I am and own who I am.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what it means for me to do that.  I have always owned the fact that I’m moment by moment, feelings fluid, ever-absorbing my environment, tough to pin down.  That’s not near enough of an answer for me, though.

As you know, it started with that same simple question, “who are you?” posed by my therapist.  Out of my mouth came the canned response, “I’m an auntie, a friend, a good listener, a fiercely loyal member of my family and I like to read.”  Those are all words I typically use to identify myself and she came right back by telling me that those words don’t say much about ME and who I actually am as a person.  That answer doesn’t reflect my values, my personality or what gets me out of bed in the morning.  Everyone is a daughter, auntie, uncle, mother, father, son, friend, sibling or a combination of those words.  Those are identifying words that we all fall back on and while there is likely a lot of pride attached to those words, it doesn’t really say who you are at your core.  I’m pretty sure at this point in my life I should know the answer to that question – but I don’t.  I have been so busy avoiding myself that I’ve been focused on helping those around me answer that question for themselves.

Melissa Hartwig wrapped it up in a nice little package called “self-love”, which is a concept that feels foreign to me.  She says everything in life can be taken away (preach, girl) except who we really are.  So why not OWN who we really are – not just those identifiers that are easy responses or the things about us that can be taken away in a moment?  We need to have our identity wrapped up in OURSELVES – not who we are to other people.  Do not allow outside factors to define who we are, she says, and I was completely feeling that.  I’ve often handed a partner the reins in determining who I am; my value; my identity.  I have been stuck waiting for life to happen TO me instead of me happening TO life.  I’m just now starting to grasp this concept.

After much thought and consideration, this is me, as I know me in this moment…

I am strong.  Every day I show up for my life and live it heart-forward.  Sometimes it really, really, really hurts but I’ve never been sorry for my scrapes and bruises because of the lessons I’ve learned in the process.

I am caring.  I have no off-switch in this regard.  I almost care too much.  I’m a very soft person – much too soft for this world – but I’m owning it.

I am dedicated, loyal and determined.  I was once told that I only work under pressure but I think a more correct statement reflecting who I am now is that I work hard despite pressure.  I have shown myself again and again that I can keep my eyes down and continue moving through something till there’s nowhere left to go.  Looking back on where I’ve been, I can see the little rest stops where I might have veered off and taken another path – or more likely should have – but I know that my loyalty is often in the driver’s seat, so we go on.

I am open-minded (and open-hearted).  It’s not too often that I take a hard line about anything.  I’m very malleable in that I listen to other perspectives and give them time to work in me.  Outside opinions often help me get to the heart of my feelings (like this blog post) so I always try to stay open for the wisdom to come.

I am always working to be a healthier version of myself.  This is both at face value and metaphorically.  I don’t strive for perfection I strive for healthy.  I don’t always get it right and sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing, turn around, and go back.  My ultimate goal is to be healthy from the inside out.

I am curious.  I have a SERIOUS thirst for knowledge of all the things.  I like to know the reason behind human motivations and it’s not unusual for my friends, family and really any acquaintance to be met with probing questions from me in an attempt to understand them better.  I speak in feelings and understand emotion.

***

It’s hard work, figuring out who I am and what I’m about.  This isn’t where the notion ends for me – I’ll keep digging and refining.  I would just encourage you, friends, to really think about who you are at your core… after you’ve gotten past all the easy responses, what are you left with?

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hello. it’s me. (have i used that title already?)

As many of you who know me IRL have likely surmised, and to confirm those of you who know me virtually, things have not been great on this side of the screen.  It’s nothing to worry about, just stress levels in the consistently-higher-than-usual category.  Being a person is really HARD sometimes.  Plus, it doesn’t help that I’ve been binging some pretty depressing stuff lately – looking at you ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ – and have been reading a lot of non-fiction (mostly about this).  I’ve also been trying to practice some self-care and have been learning a lot of *new* things about myself.  We already know when I have nothing good to say and don’t want to talk about myself, I say nothing.  I’ve been lost in my own thoughts and as I have mentioned many times, these feelings lead me to shut down from pretty much everything.  I get “over myself” really quickly because I feel like I have all the tools to “fix” whatever might be broken inside of me.  Exhibit A: I spend so much time in my own mind – analyzing all the things.  Exhibit B: I don’t like drawing any attention to myself.  I become a less-effervescent person which then makes me feel bad so I hide out even more.  Talking about silly things when my life is basically consumed with serious always feels disingenuous to both you and me.  So if you’re still out there: I’m sorry.   Someday, maybe when I’m out of the woods I’m in, we can talk about it.

Until then, let me talk about some of the more non-serious happenings in a little internets roundup of things I’m really feeling right now.

  • I am currently feeling the Bulletproof way of life.  I’m curious about bio-hacking myself mostly because I do feel like good health starts at the cellular level.  There is a prevalence of stimuli in our world today and I like to buck the trend of our just-take-a-pill society.  Pretty soon I’m going to take the plunge and rock my own Bulletproof coffee.  First, I need to get through the book.
  • In a similar vein as the above, I got both myself and my gorgeous sister some of these Mala prayer beads.  It’s something physical to channel my intention to.  The Malas represent certain qualities based on the stone they are made with.  My sister’s is made of Volcanic Stone meant to channel strength and clarity; and mine is made of Labradorite and Malaysian jade meant to channel our spiritual counterparts.
  • Trying to be an adult and get on a budget.  Ugh.
  • Oh!  I became a Rodan + Fields consultant because I believe in the power of good skincare.  And I’m obsessed with skincare so that says a lot.  If you’re equally obsessed, we should chat.
  • You guys.  The Marco Polo app is amaze.  It helps me stay connected to my family without the hassle of having to hang on the phone with FaceTime.  It’s like if FT and texting (my favorite) had a baby, it would be Marco Polo.  The videos stay in a thread like texting so I can go back and watch videos of Avery on replay.
  • Lastly, podcasts.  Almost as much variety as television right now.  I devoured S-Town and man was it DARK but it made me feel things.  Also, I’m going through withdrawal from Accused, Undisclosed S1 & S2, Up & Vanished (now that it’s mostly “solved”)… but true crime is really something that keeps me engaged and able to listen and still get my work done.

Thanks for reading and be well, friends.

mornings.

Morning is definitely my time.  It’s the time of day I’m most creative and productive; my mind is the most open to receiving ideas and making plans.  My mom has forever gotten up before the sun and had her morning coffee, in the dark, and called it her quiet time.  It’s a chance to think all the thoughts that need thinking, to organize her day, to consider the days and tasks to come.  I love the idea of quiet time but the execution is where I falter.  It’s truly a shame that I love sleep too much to actually take advantage of it before heading in to start my actual job at 7:30 am.

Nevertheless, I start every day feeling like Gwyneth Paltrow.  Why GP?  To me, she is the pinnacle of all the things: mother, entrepreneur, brand, woman.  Some people choose Beyonce – who is also incredibly fierce – GP just aligns more with things I could actually accomplish (my dance moves are outdated and I’m not really the Queen of anything).  In the morning, I feel like there really is nothing I can’t do.  Write a cookbook?  Okay.  Three?  Sure.  Workout for two hours?  Easy.  Organize my home and life?  Done.  Start a successful business and brand?  Pssshhh…I got this.

I’m writing this blog because of the things that happen the rest of the day.  Throughout the reminder of the day I’m met with little obstacles meant to diminish my GP-ness.  These are things as simple as doughnuts in the next cube and as complex as laziness or lack of motivation.  Each obstacle I meet, I make the active decision to let it defeat me or not.  Though, until now, I didn’t really think of it in those terms because I didn’t really think of it at all.  Now it’s all I think about.

I’m going to try to work with the potential and promise I feel in the mornings because it seems a shame to waste it.  Even now, there are sticky notes all over my desk; lists I’ve made in my Moleskine (with sticky notes on those lists); there are blog ideas and lofty dreams being dreamed in my head; there are mental vacations being planned and dinner ideas floating around.  I think that’s how my creative side works: ideas will meander in my brain, waiting to be found and focused on. Waiting to be brought to fruition.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even start waking up earlier to make my lists over some coffee?

delight.

Back when it was still summer outside, Dave and I took a trip to the farmer’s market (as we often do). That particular day, amongst the veggie vendors and bread bakers, there was a man doing tricks for the crowd. He was juggling and sword swallowing in time to some rather cliché sounding French music. He was there, on a sweltering hot day, in his tattered black pants, tank top, tiny leather shoes and hair slicked back in a little pony, performing for passers-by. He drew quite the crowd. Watching him juggle was initially what stopped me but it wasn’t his act that transfixed me – it was the look on his face as he was performing. It was nothing short of pure, unfiltered joy in what he was doing. For that reason, we stood there watching him for fifteen minutes. I could have watched him all day.

Since then, I haven’t been able to shake the idea of that sort of raw, pure joy. Even now, I can’t recall a time in recent memory when I’ve experienced such visible joy – inwardly or outwardly. It seems like everything from my yoga practice to the books I’m reading lately have reflected this attitude. This week in one of my yoga classes, we dedicated our practice to gratefulness. The instructor read a quote that was something along the lines of “Gratefulness is seeing what’s there instead of noticing what’s not.” Through that, I’ve finally been able to shake loose a bit of a working idea; something to bring to you to talk about.

I want to talk about delight.

It seems like such a simple word, such a simple idea. For me, it’s puppies or Jeni’s ice cream or watching my niece discover the world. It’s traveling and exploring and feeling inspired and listening to Adele. “Feeling all the feels” is probably a good layman’s definition for the word itself. As I was considering it the last few weeks, I came to a much simpler conclusion. This life is something to find delight in. It’s nothing short of a miracle that we wake up every day, that we get to take part in this Divine plan, that we breathe in oxygen and convert it to the energy that powers our bodies moment to moment. Yet, it’s so easy to take our eyes off that simple miracle and get caught up in the mundane. I get up, go to work, come home, talk about my day, eat dinner, watch some TV then go to sleep to do it all again tomorrow. Surely there’s an opportunity in there to delight in something; to be thankful for one thing; to be grateful for a moment. But I keep missing it.

In all “life manuals” we’re instructed to find the thing that makes our hearts happy and do it. As though it’s the simplest thing in the world. And for some people it probably is. In my own head, it’s this Mt Olympus that seems to keep growing ahead of me that I dare not even start the climb. On CBS Sunday Morning this week they were airing a piece about The Piano Guys. Four dudes who, in their time away from their family, make music. Watching them reminded me of the guy doing tricks here in DSM; there was that same look of pure joy on their faces and it’s because they’re doing something they love. They have figured out what makes their hearts happy. I’m going to resist the urge to solve my own problem here and really just leave it open. I need to consider this idea of delight and take it with me. I invite you all to find it along with me.

my frienemy, purpose

You guys, I’m about to be really honest and it makes me super uncomfortable. The part of me that knows I want to write this post is the part of me that knows I should be honest in this space. I’ve been avoiding you all because this is the only thing I can think about but it feels so raw to share. So I’m going to just.do.it. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.

My whole life, I’ve wrestled with this voice inside of me. Sometimes it goes beyond just being a voice and is an actual feeeeeling; something that makes me want to act even though I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing yet. If I had to pinpoint the voice’s residence, I’d say it’s somewhere behind my breastbone (as that’s where I usually feel its urgency or disappointment or elation). This voice is what pushes me to continue moving in life; it keeps one foot in front of the other, and aims for bigger and better things. It was the calm that moved me to Des Moines, the nervousness in a job interview for a position I wanted more than anything, the peace that found me at home in my first apartment, the longing for Ohio/family after it’s been too long since I visited. In a nutshell: this voice feels like my purpose. I’ve always had a really complicated relationship with purpose. It’s like it knows this secret that I don’t yet know… that I have to choose the right path but it gives me no hints about what’s right.

I’m going through this season in my life where purpose is particularly relentless in trying to get my attention. I’ve tried, in the past, to squash it down but it always comes back. I was telling Dave about it this past weekend and he said the obvious “well, what if it’s part of your character”. After considering that, the truth is, it’s the part of my character that I prize because it makes me fearless and risky and calm and it’s the seat of my faith. What do I do when it doesn’t want to be quieted? How am I supposed to find direction with it clanging around inside me?

That’s where I am now. I’m trying to marry my gratefulness with this ever-reaching purpose. Trying to figure out what it means for me.

I don’t want to just blindly follow purpose for the sake of it but it suddenly feels as though purpose has betrayed me. I’m older now than I was when purpose started coming around and I’m not any closer to finding the meaning. I have never, ever known what I wanted to do when I “grow up”. Purpose isn’t helping me narrow it down at all.

I guess the point of this “rant” is really more to find out that I’m not alone and for other people who are constantly nagged by purpose to know that they’re not alone either. Most days it’s easy to see the trees for the forest and find happiness in the moments but purpose is powerful. I’m trying to harness and embrace it; to figure out how it can maintain a presence in my life but not crush me if I don’t concede to its demands. This is definitely bound to be a learning for me, so I’m going to leave us both with this poem by the great Walt Whitman (who is much more well-spoken than myself).

 

Happiness,

Not in Another Place

But in this Place…

Not for another Hour

But This Hour.

something to talk about.

Lately, it seems like the same post is showing up on all my favorite blogs.  The post about blogger burnout.

It’s the topic of the moment.  While I can’t exactly relate (as I’m an incredibly inconsistent blogger with dreams of actually having this problem), I can understand the general feeling of burnout.  My whole adult life I’ve reinvented my situation every two years.  It’s about the marker of time for me to change positions in the company, for moving, for that sneaking feeling of urgency to stir in my belly that something needs to change.  While I’m in this period of embracing my 30’s (myself) I’m trying to pull that part of me in and figure what I can do with it vs. letting it fill me with unease and continue on making me the nomadic person I’ve always been (thus starting all over).

I actually like where I am right now so that feeling is more or less channeling itself in the form of nesting and trying to hone my creativity.  When I say “hone my creativity” it kind of consists of spray painting 20 year old bedroom furniture, replacing the pulls (harder than it seems) and trying with all my might to conjure a blog post.  I have my cart hitched to a fella who loves *stuff* which goes against every bone in my minimalist loving body.  I don’t have any useful life hacks to provide, tips on spray painting furniture (okay maybe two), tips for decorating, etc.  The scariest thing I’m facing currently is trying to figure out what to make my family for Christmas this year.  And guys, those are all blog posts I’ve considered before realizing it would be three sentences long.

I believe in life there should always be a desire for growth, a learning and a refinement; something to spur you on in your journey.  My journey has always been about fulfilling my desire to *be* (all that I can be?).  You guys remember this post.  It’s a lot like that; there are dreams I have, things I want to make, things I want to contribute to my family and the world.  It’s a little exhausting at times trying to do all of that within the confines of every different set of circumstances and I am so.hard.on.myself.  That brings us to the burnout.  I’m in this grey area of time between my birthday and Christmas where I feel a combination of homesickness/productivity/excitement/boredom all at once.  It’s got me in a funk not easily cured by the usual suspects (food, writing, reading, running).  Frankly, I’m feeling a little lack of inspiration.

Doesn’t it seem so crazy that in this world of over-stimulation someone should find themselves in this situation? I think about that a lot. Anywhere I look I can surely find a modicum of inspiration (I spend a lot of time on the internets, guys) but I can’t seem to translate that into something that I want to say.  Maybe over-stimulation is actually a creativity killer?  I can’t seem to see that far in the future so I don’t know where I’m going with this space but I would hope that we’ll still be here; me sharing my stories with you.

Meantime, I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back soon.

32.

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This week I celebrate my 32nd year.  Whew.

I realize I don’t have much of a right to complain about forehead lines, the need for botox, and suddenly being concerned about how much harder it is to lose weight now that I’m “in my 30’s”.

In typical birthday fashion, I spent a bit of time this weekend reflecting on my life; the past year’s accomplishments and not-so-accomplishments, my journey up to now and where things are headed as I move forward.  While my life really doesn’t look much like what I had *planned* I have to say I am really healthy with myself and really happy with how things have taken shape.

I heard from at least a handful of people that life in your 30s is really much more liberating than life in your 20s.  You spend less time figuring yourself out and more time embracing who you are.  So far, that’s true for me.  I’ve really learned what’s important to me and how to stand up for it.  I have waaaaaay more confidence than I thought could be possible and I’ve really learned (and embraced!) a new way of opening myself to people.

I’ve definitely come a long way from where I’ve been and I understand very well there will be unplanned twists and turns ahead for me.  I think—if anyone cares for my 32-years-wise “lessons”— the *secret* for managing this sometimes messy thing called life might be embracing those opportunities (aka risks) that find you.  Having guts (and a super hard work ethic—thanks parents!) has benefitted me so much more than I can adequately express.

Thank you friends and family for being a very important part of 32 years worth of lessons for me.  I’ll raise my glass and toast you all.

giving myself credit

I found this on the interwebs today. And let me just say: “Preach.”

The quote is what took my breath away. “Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” — Steven Prefontaine

Right now, as you know, I’m a pretty far distance from where I started. That’s speaking both physically and metaphorically. Like the article talks about, I think I’ve spent a lot of time being focused on a particular destination. The odd thing is that I’ve found my life being swept up in the lovely in-betweens to the destinations—more as an adult than ever before.

People told me that when I turn 30, all the questioning of my 20’s would go away. I can tell you guys, that much is true. However, in place of it, I find myself questioning the bigger things like marriage and babies and homeownership. I believe it takes special people to get married, stay married and then put that union through the trials of homeownership and children. I have nothing but respect for the people that make those choices every day.

I feel so conflicted sometimes because part of me keeps thinking I should be more concerned with the destinations; my pesky adventurous spirit has always kept me from acting on those feelings. I’m saving those joys for a time that’s precious to me. Some destinations are meant to be savored and fully realized. I have to keep it top of mind that my journey isn’t meant to be like anyone else’s—it’s only meant to be mine.

ioway

photo 2

look at that sky – majesty

 

There are a lot of things that Ohio and Iowa have in common.  For example: four seasons in both states, the landscape isn’t vastly different (vastly being the keyword), we’re both considered Midwestern states (which I didn’t know till I moved here); in a nutshell, it’s not a total culture shock to move from Ohio to Iowa.

Back in another blogging life, before I left my home state, I wrote a little homage to Ohio which some of you may remember.  I wasn’t sure what to expect moving to Iowa but here I am.  I am happy to confess that all my preconceived notions were totally wrong.  Turns out there is more here than pigs and cows and corn; there is a great little music scene if you’re patient enough to wait for it to come; there are wonderful places to roam and big cities within driving distance.  My job has blessed me immeasurably by indulging my traveling heart so I think I’m now qualified enough to write a post about the differences between Iowa and Ohio.

The first and most obvious difference is how kind people are here.  It was a lesson I learned after one of my first trips to Hy-Vee.  Everyone there said hello, made eye contact, smiled… it was really weird.  I chalked it up to the liberation of being completely anonymous but it persisted everywhere I went: at the gas station, at Target, driving down the road (people wave a lot in rural Iowa)—Iowa kindness was rampant and it changed me.  I became Iowa Ryan and Iowa Ryan is personable and will ask you about your 150 head of cattle, your dog, your sister’s dog, your daughter’s goats and I like that people are willing to share their stories with me.

There was also a learning curve with some minor things.  Here, instead of asking “would you like a bag for that?” people ask “you want a sack?”  Sack.  At first I replied, “yeah, I’ll take a bag” but it wore off when I realized “sack” is much more fun.  Plus, I blend in when I use the local lingo.  Another word that was met with a quizzical brow was my usage of “expressway”.  I don’t know if that’s a Ryan-thing or an Ohio-thing but in my house/family/network of peeps we always called all the highways “expressway” whether it was 76, 480, 71 or even 80 (“the turnpike” sometimes).  Here, Iowans use the correct highway, “I was eastbound on I-235…”.  Speaking of, people here use cardinal directions.  It seems like everyone has an inner GPS and they know what’s the north side of the street or the east building so it forced me to learn pretty quickly that my former method of taking directions just wouldn’t suffice.

While there are still pretty much all the same landscape elements in Ohio and Iowa, there are far fewer trees here.  I remember my old commute to the office when I lived in Ohio, both sides of the expressway were lined with forests of trees.  Here, it’s fields as far as your eye can see.  It’s almost like the sky touches the grass.  There are rolling hills, more corn fields than you could ask for, farm animals and wind turbines for miles.  The landscape here truly is something special.  Last week I was lucky enough to find my version (so far) of heaven on Earth.  It’s called Corning, Iowa.  There was dirt road after dirt road where no one would pass by and when I watched some calves run and play along the banks of a pond I knew in my heart that being here has been so right.  I never anticipated running away from home and ending up so far away but I am convinced that this is my kind of place.

Corning, Iowa

Corning, Iowa

I’ve become a better person for being an Iowa transplant.  The other day, my friend Kelly told me that I know Des Moines in my year and a half here better than she does having been here longer.  I learned everything I know from a fella that loves his city and I honestly think that makes all the difference.  I never gave Cleveland that same respect until I left.  This place is just magic to me.  I love and learn from the differences in my two homes.  So when/if you come to Iowa, prepare to go back home just a little bit changed.

stolen idea

I’m completely stealing this blog idea – because I love it and let me tell you why.  I love the honesty of it and I’m continually looking for balance when it comes to my honesty here with you all and making sure that I’m not crossing into territory where I’m hurting someone’s feelings.  I’m sure other bloggers can empathize that when you’re blogging about your life, it can sometimes get compartmentalized and complicated.  I’m sure it’s much more freeing to blog about recipes and cooking or fitness.  What’s going on in my life drives this blog – good and bad (probably the reason for some lengthy absences).  I don’t want it to come off “Dear Diary” style but at the same time, it seems like when I’m writing from my heart, it’s less work to convey an idea and you all are more receptive.  So in the spirit of honesty, I give you the 3 Things I’m Bad At.

#1 Paying “silly” bills on time

Okay… I wrestled over including this one cause it makes me sound *so* immature.  But since we’re being truthful, I do have a few bills that I regularly don’t pay on time.  I know it’s not a good thing, guys.  Stuff like my cell bill, a store credit card (cringe), internet – those are bills that seem a little sillier than rent, car payment, CAR INSURANCE so I take a few liberties when getting those paid.  I know all bills are to be taken seriously and I’m in the process of trying to scale back the spending and tighten up on the whole budget thing.  The funny part about this is that I never feel more adult than I do when all my bills are paid.

#2 Openly correcting grammar

Okay, so I love proper spelling and grammar.  I’m sure I’ve abused it a time or two in the past – who hasn’t?!  I can tell you that I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when to correct in mixed company (I used to be worse and way more annoying).  Sorry, family, you’ll always be fair game.  My eyes are trained to find the errors in PowerPoint presentations and in business situations I take people less seriously when something is misspelled.  I love the English language and I will be the first person to butcher it intentionally, so I’m really sorry in advance when I mutter “well” under my breath when someone says “he did good”, or “supposedly” when I hear “supposebly” or “essspresso” when I hear someone order “expresso” because truthfully, I have no right to do that.  Clearly, this is an ongoing area of opportunity for me.

#3 The follow-through

This one is probably the hardest and the most honest.  I start a lot of things I don’t finish.  I’m well aware through old adages and reading that this is an undesirable characteristic.  My resume includes diets I start and don’t finish, gyms I start and don’t commit to, books that lose my interest and end up back on the shelf, starting and stopping running about five times, leaving the last dish in the sink unwashed after doing alllll the other dishes, and not calling my family/friends as often as I should. There’s also the ideas that pop into my head randomly throughout the day of things I think I’d like to do.  Prime example: today I was thinking maybe I should make all the food I eat from scratch and eat nothing processed.  Let’s be honest, guys.  That’s a setup for immediate failure.  I can spin this a plethora of different ways, both positive and negative.  It doesn’t hinder my growth as a person but I really do this a lot.  I think it probably frustrates me more than anyone else (right, family?).

I believe we all have things we’re bad at.  And generally speaking, those are the things that cause us a bit of heartbreak, some bumps and bruises and leave us with some thicker skin.  Yes, a good portion of the time we’re the better for having gone through hard times.  That’s not always true, of course, but when I look back on times I thought were so hard they’d crush me I scratch my head wondering how I could have thought it was so bad.  The point is, if we start owning those things we’re bad at it becomes easier to embrace the unique person we are.  They don’t have to be defining characteristics… they can just be a smaller part of what makes up the whole.