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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i work out.

Hey, guys!  Remember that time I did a Whole30?  Yeah, me too.  It was so great, I’m doing another one for the month of October.  This time I have some company, though.

You guys know I’ve boo-hooed about my lack of motivation with exercise.  For so long I thought, ‘if I’m not a runner then I don’t know what I could do’.  I finally found what I can do if I’m not a runner.  I’ve been going to MaxLife for about three months (has it been that long?) and it’s perfect for me!  I’m learning how to be strong from the inside out.  If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s P90X meets Cross-Fit with less TRX and more kettle bells.  They’re short, effective, muscle confusion workouts and I feel a strong sense of community and accountability with the men and women I go to class with.  This Whole30 is a gym-wide thing so I have support with my friends, gym-mates and co-workers.

changes

Breakfast2 FrenchPress

RedPepper

Charcuterie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did it!  I made it 30 days on the Whole30.  I remember right after I started I marked 30 days out on my calendar at work and I thought to myself ‘there’s no way I can make it to the end of March – that’s so far away.’  Now here I am, done with 30 days, feeling good and ready to continue some of the better life choices I’ve been making.

A lot of things have been going on in my life and when I think about that, I consider that I started the Whole30 at just the right time.  While most everything in my personal life has been choppy waters lately, I managed to maintain total control over what I ate and how what I put in my body made me feel.  I planned, I prepared, I chopped, washed and cooked; I ate leftovers and veggies and meat in new ways; I ate less out of convenience and was happily inconvenienced to make everything homemade.

All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone.  I’ll definitely plan on doing it again and continuing to implement the Paleo way of eating (allowing room for occasional indulgences).  I’ve felt centered and energized.  It’s kind of been my anchor of sorts.  Moving to DSM, while exciting, has also been a bit different than I’d anticipated.  I’m writing this post from my brand new couch in my very first apartment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had apartments before but I’ve always had roommates.  I’d scamper about those former living spaces, trying to stay out of the way and go unnoticed so I didn’t cause annoyance; essentially for the last 10 years or so I’ve been living in a space the size of a bedroom.  That would explain my lack of adult furniture and kitchen essentials.  I’ve carefully picked out each piece I’ve acquired thus far (with some helpful consulting here and there); each piece has purpose in this new space I’m building.  It’s helping me carve out who I am.  I’m discovering what makes me happy and (yes, family) I’m learning some responsibility for myself too.

I’m sure we’ll chat more about my new space.  Let me end on some super exciting news: MY SISTER IS COMING!  Next Tuesday she’ll arrive here in Des Moines!  She’ll spend the week with me shopping and being a tourist.  I’m so excited to show her around the city.  There will absolutely be some pics to come!  The photos above (not in an organized fashion in ANY way despite my trying) are of a few of the Whole30 meals lovingly prepared in the last 30 days.

whole30 surprises

The following is a list of things I didn’t expect to feel/see/happen while on the Whole30 (or as I like to call it, Paleo on steroids).

1. My skin actually is clear and glowing – and it’s obvious to other people.

2. I have a new appreciation for leftovers.  In a prior life, leftovers were my arch-nemesis.  Not so much anymore.

3. I totally CRASH at 9:30pm and sleep like a baby till about 5 a.m.

4. They weren’t kidding when they said it cuts down on the bloat.  I am not wearing NEAR as many layers as I usually do to hide in my clothes.

5. I miss beer more than I thought I would… and I’m not even a super drinker.  I just realized that some circumstances call for a nice, cool, refreshing beer and I have to go the sparkling water route.

6. I’ve grown rather fond of red and yellow peppers (not raw though – gross).

7. A lot of people are doing it.  Mostly a niche of adorable bloggers that enjoy running; I aspire to be like them.

8. I realized that a lot of things I ate were merely out of convenience.  I haven’t cooked like this for myself in about four years.  Bread was a filler and I didn’t eat nearly enough veggies.

9. I have actually completely changed how I eat and how I look at food.  Testament to that statement was the food day we had here at work recently.  My sense of smell was in overdrive, and I was whiffing all the chocolate, mint, cookies and other delicious sugary goodies.  While I wanted them so bad, I really didn’t.  My memory told me I did but my body was plenty happy from the fruit and protein I’d already had.  I have eaten these past 19 days for fuel and it’s felt great!

10. I feel amazing.  Truly.  The scale hasn’t reflected that so much but I have felt more energized, more focused, less moody – I’ve even felt stronger physically.  I didn’t believe the testimonials (cause at the time it seemed kind of fad-ish) but after battling headaches for the first few days, it’s been energy central since.  My clothes, you guys – my clothes, fit so much better.

11. I love meat.

12. I am starting to like plain tea (“plain” as in no milk and no sugar).

13. This is looking like a real-life lifestyle change, guys.