Who Do I Think I am, Anyway?

Sometime in late August I took the dogs for a walk around our local county park this weekend.  We walked the same trails that we used to run back in early Spring. 

We walked along the river, across the wooden bridge that crosses the water and up the steep hill, where I paused for a moment.  Both dogs turned and looked at me, wondering why we’d stopped.  “This,” I thought to myself, “is how far I could run before having to stop for a break.” 

While finishing my walk with the dogs, I kept thinking, if I hadn’t stopped running I’d probably be signing up for 5K runs by now. 

I was pretty bummed the rest of our walk together.  I couldn’t get away from my thoughts which kept reminding me that I’d tried yet another exercise on which I never followed through.  More on this in a moment. 

While in my twenties, I was having a conversation with my practice husband. I don’t recall what the conversation was about, nor do I remember what I said to him exactly, but I made a comment about referring to myself as an artist. His response to that statement was, ‘just because you work on art, that doesn’t make you an artist.’ In that moment I caught a glimpse of what he thought of his wife as well as what he didn’t think of her.  I just stood there, feeling exposed and confused.  I’ve never forgotten it, and for a long time afterward I felt stripped of a title that I felt comfortably described in part, who I thought I was. 

It’s many years later and do you know that as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I still find myself struggling to find words that describe me?  Yes, I am considered a sister, daughter, friend, acquaintance, caregiver, and wife.  But, don’t these descriptive nouns reflect more about what I am to others? What words define me?   This is a tough exercise, and one worth exploring for anyone who is going through life trying to find his or her place within it. 

Back to my thoughts about running.  It was during that walk that I suddenly realized I wasn’t bummed because I didn’t run anymore – I certainly didn’t miss it;  I think I was just secretly hoping that by trying my hand at running, I’d stumble across a solid, stable word to keep tucked away in my private ‘Who Am I’ resume.  I was bummed that I couldn’t add, ‘I am a runner’ to my list. 

Now, I know the first rule of blogging: don’t compare yourself to others – we are all different and each have our own strengths. Still, I found myself wanting to stumble across what many other bloggers seem to have already found – like Laura, Lynn and Jenn for finding their passion for running. Or Sharon for her love of hiking; Roxie and Jill for the enormous amounts of joy their bicycles give them, and Tim for his unwavering determination to walk and walk – and walk!   I envied those losers/maintainers who found a passion for their exercise of choice. 

Why this need, you ask?  Well, I think it’s because it wasn’t until I actively began losing weight that I started to see what my body was physically capable of.  I’ve been at this exercise game a long time now.  Isn’t it about time I am committed to something?  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know I’ve tried many different things, some for the first time on this blog: hula-hooping, retro-walking, kayaking, running and biking.  Kayaking could have been my ‘thing’ if I lived in a warmer climate, but it just doesn’t seem right to lay a claim to something that I’m only able to do a few times during the summer months, so I didn’t really feel like I could count that. 

 

 

There is something I want to share, though.  Something is happening within me and it has to do with my involvement in yoga (remember when I walked into the yoga studio for the first time as part of a comfort zone challenge?)  That was back in August.  I haven’t blogged much about it since then, but I’ve been keeping things quiet for a reason.    I wanted to fully explore the classes, compare the good with the bad, and then share my thoughts with you on what it’s meant to me.    Like other things in my life, I don’t want to have to question myself anymore as to who I am or what I do. 

 

I want to be able to write with complete confidence the things that I know defines me: I am a confidante. A nurturer.  A sometimes risk-taker.  A protector.  I am an artist.  I actively practice Yoga.

And I love it. 

39 thoughts on “Who Do I Think I am, Anyway?

  1. Jill

    Perhaps you need to add that you are an inspiration to others to be their best self.
    I am so glad you have found Yoga and it brings you happiness.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you for that, Jill. Big, humble smile over here :)
      Yoga definitely has been surprising me, lately. It’s been almost too good to be true, hence the hesitation in writing about it. Soon, though, I think. Thanks for reading today.

      Reply
  2. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    What Jill said, plus…
    You are sooo tempting me to try a yoga class!

    I’m also tempted to re-read Barbara Sher’s book, “I Could Be Anything…if Only I Knew What That Was.” In it, she talks about the differences in people–scanners who flit from thing to thing and divers who dig deeper into one or two passions–and the values in both. Moving from this to that is a worthy undertaking, so long as you’re moving! :)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I think Karen and I both need that book. We seem to be in the same spot. Everytime I go to the library to get it, it’s checked out. Thanks for the reminder, Cammy.

      Reply
  3. Greg (Transformed and Scaled)

    You’re also a blogger, and a darn good one! It’s nice to see you keep pushing yourself, and striving to find out who you are. I think to a certain degree we’re all still trying to find out who we are, through our whole lives. And of course who you are today isn’t who you’ll be five years from now.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Very good point, Greg. Wow. Can you imagine where we will be in FIVE years? It’s good to know that other people have some of the same thoughts that I do.

      Reply
  4. Michele T

    Oh, Ellen! I love this post. I’m so happy for you that you can own those things that you are. I struggle so much with who I am and who I want to be. After watching Oprah’s first Lifeclass on Monday, I’m left with the feeling that too many of the things I’ve been trying to be are all about ego and not about what really fills me up and makes me whole. Unfortunately, I must work full time to support myself. It leaves much less time than I’d like to devote to things that are important to me as a person… instead of me as a professional.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Michele, I’m just glad that you are still able to get your Oprah fix, even though her show is over. I’ve never heard of Lifeclass. Is that on OWN?

      Reply
  5. debby

    Ellen, you write with such insight, I always presume you are a professional counselor, or professional writer. Most women define themselves by who they are in relation to others. I think this is a valuable thing to think about. Thanks for bringing it up.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I appreciate your faith in me, Debby. At one time I seriously thought about going into art therapy as a career, but could never seem to get back to work on my Masters. Ah, well. I get to be my own therapist through my blog, so all is not lost. Thank you for your comment and for reading today.

      Reply
  6. teresa

    I would love to go back in time and smack your practice husband in the head! Not to mention that he got it exactly wrong. But you already know that…
    grrrrrrrrrr…….
    as for the rest…. I kept resisting my own urge to tell you not to worry about these things… do what you love and enjoy it when it comes…
    But I hear you saying that you do love running and want to add it to who you are… And I totally support that.
    I don’t know if this part of me comes from having a “too active” imagination or living mostly in other realms for so long, or just from growing up in LA/Hollywood… but you are and can be whatever you want. This is the land of “Yes, I’m a writer, or an actor, or a horse trainer, or a dancer… I can do it, whatever it is…”
    Why do you second guess yourself so much? And why be so hard on your wonderful self?
    You are most certainly a runner if you feel in your core that you love to run. You may be a runner with terrible running habits at the moment, but that’s easy to change, right?
    You try lots of different exercises and to me that makes you curious and an adventurer. It makes you more interesting and also wise to let go of the things that aren’t doing it for you. It’s not “quitting” if you try something and don’t particularly like it. It’s just moving on.
    I, myself, am many things that I haven’t managed to manifest fully in the world. I am most certainly an artist albeit a lazy one with questionable levels of talent…
    Oh, and I’m a singer. It wouldn’t matter if I never managed to hit all the right notes… It’s in my heart and soul to sing. So… I’ll do it in the car with the windows closed…
    Oh dear.. I’m babbling.
    I really care about you and want you to enjoy the magical adventure of this life in your healthy body.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Teresa, thank you so much for such a lovely comment. Honestly, I can’t seem to pinpoint why I worry about such things. I don’t know why I second guess myself; that is a very good question that I really need to reflect on, I guess. You’ve given me a lot to think about.
      I love the fact that you embrace everything that is wonderful in your life. Your daughter will thank you for this one day, believe me.
      I think I’m more in love with the strength in running, than actually running itself. I don’t know if I’ll go back to it or not. I seemed to like it best when it was over. lol Still, I began running in the winter, and I’ve got plenty of winter ahead, so maybe it will present itself again, sometime. Thank you for reading today, Tree. BIG hugs to you.

      Reply
  7. LauraJayne

    I think who we are must be dynamic too – for a while, I was a yogi – I lived it and consumed it – but it didn’t mean I wasn’t a runner anymore, I was just a runner taking a break! Just like we aren’t “fat”, we are SO much more than that! And, to you, you are a friend, a blogger, and a total inspiration!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      You are one of my inspirations, Laura. You really seem to roll with life and make the best of what’s in front of you. Very admirable to me, and I know to your other readers. I need to stop worrying so much about the small things. Ugh!

      Reply
  8. chrissy

    I loved this blog! I don’t think that most of us really know who we are! I really struggle with exercise! I want to not only run but love to run however even when I was a skinny teenager I didn’t like to run! There is still no exercise I enjoy and I really want to find one because I know it would really help with my weight loss! After reading this I think I might try yoga! Which yoga class do you like the most so far?

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I’m making a point to do a yoga post here very soon (especially now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag). I would highly recommend yoga to anyone needing to gain control of their life, reduce stress, strengthen the body and the mind. I still consider myself a beginner even though I’ve taken several different classes. I got hooked in the beginners class. The way I felt after leaving that studio was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Calm, centered, yet alert and recharged. I’ve never felt a combination of those two powerful feelings before. I’d love to know what you think if/when you decide to try it!

      Reply
  9. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    Ooooh I adore this post :) I actually have been trying to wean myself off of the ‘defining’ or ‘resume’ words — even though I have to use the word “powerlifter” to describe who I am/what I do, I try not to attach myself to it, if that makes sense. I mean after all it’s just another label.

    I am so glad you have been enjoying yoga!!! :)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I think that is very healthy, Sable. And I HATE labels in general so I don’t know why I have this need to label myself. It might be partially my thoughts about myself and being comfortable with who I am. Once I completely get there maybe I won’t have such needs anymore.

      Reply
  10. auntiekim

    Gosh Ellen, you have no idea how much I needed to read this today of all days. I have really been struggling lately with many of the things you mentioned here. I am raising my hand and admitting here and now that I break the #1 rule of blogging daily (and I didn’t even know it WAS a rule! LOL). Like you, I have had my ideas of self shattered by someone else’s thoughtless remarks and am still trying to find my place in this world. BTW I love that you refer to your ex as your practice husband. I’m going to steal that. I’m so happy that you have remained practicing yoga. I remember that post vividly, and I remember my response to it…I was going to try Zumba. I confess that all these months later I still have not tried it…for a variety of reasons. All of them legitimate actually (ie none of them involve being lazy!). I’m having surgery soon and that is on my to do list just as soon as I’m recovered. I will also return to yoga. I did it for about a year a few years ago until I hurt my back (unrelated to yoga) and never returned. I have never found anything that provided me with such a peaceful, innate joy…and there’s exercise to boot! Namaste.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      What a sweet, wonderful comment. Thank you! I am sorry to hear that you have to have surgery. I hope your recovery is speedy so you can finally try Zumba. That is one exercise I’m just not ready for, and I really admire your enthusiasm to wanting to take it.
      It sounds like we both cling to labels because some of the positive ones we were either given (or gave ourselves) were stripped away. There’s nothing wrong in describing yourself, as long as it’s done with the same love and respect you’d give to someone else.
      Thank you for reading :)

      Reply
  11. Munchberry

    I love this post. Practice husband is a giant putz. You are so SO many things. Kind being at the top of that list. From that one thing so many great things spring forth.

    I am happy and content. I am looking forward with delight.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Practice Husband was many things. It angers me that I still allow that memory to seep into my head. Maybe now that I’ve written about it, it will leave for good. Thanks as always for your rock-solid support. XO

      Reply
  12. Marion@AffectionforFitness

    Hi Ellen! I’m *sooo* glad that you gave yoga a big enough chance to do well with it. And–it will be just more and more good surprises if you stick with it for years. I have been doing yoga for almost three years, and I’m at my most flexible of my life right now at 43 and3/4 years old. That can happen to you too. You’ll be amazed with yourself.

    :-) Marion

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      This news makes me SO happy, Marion! This is one of the things I love about it – anyone can do it, at any age, and it can only improve ones life. It’s a win-win situation!

      Reply
  13. Girly Girl:Losing the Gut

    Ellen, thank you so much for the help with figuring out why my comments weren’t showing up! I think it worked! I love this post. It is so amazing to me that you are always able to say what I have thought many times before in such a relatble, yet eloquent way. I am still waiting to find my niche in the exercise weight loss world and I am hoping that it helps give me even more purpose in my weight loss journey. You’re always an inspiration!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      It’s not always easy to find that one thing. I think that’s why it’s so important to keep trying different things. One of them is bound to grab your attention. Really good to hear from you :)

      Reply
  14. Tami@nutmegnotebook

    I can so relate to this post Ellen. The book Cammy talked about sounds like something I should read.

    After being a stay at home mom for 26 years I am now trying to define once again who I am. For all of those years I could tell people I was a stay at home mom and I was darn proud of it too! Now that my kids are in college but I am still at home I don’t always know what to tell people when they say “What do you do?” I am still doing the same things I have always done minus the car pools and parent groups. But our culture wants to define us by our career, our hobby or our athletic ability.

    It isn’t enough to be Tami, or is it?

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      That book is on my list, too. I can already see myself thinking that the author wrote it specifically for ME.
      I sympathize with your search for a place to call ‘home’, Tami. You as a mother, trying to find a new path – and me, never having had children, trying to find my own. It just goes to show that this happens to many people with completely different backgrounds.
      …btw, it IS enough just being ‘us’. I’ll lay claim to being an artist, as long as you lay claim to being these four things that defines you in my eyes: photographer, chef, maintainer, blogger.

      Reply
  15. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    Excellent post, as usual :-)

    It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about all the ways I have defined myself over the years, and why.

    My weight, either how much I lost or how much I gained, was one of the biggest ways I described myself.

    “Writer” is another way I define myself, but even that has changed over the years. In fact, it’s changed so much that I am considering finding a job that doesn’t involve writing. I made a living as a writer for more than 25 years and now it just doesn’t feel that important to me to define myself that way. It doesn’t mean I won’t write, or that I’m not a writer, however!

    For a while it was important for me to use the word “athlete,” having never been one. And “runner” was important too, although I don’t to that any more and frankly, I am fine with that.

    I don’t know if it’s just me or my age or what, but I find myself steering away from these labels…being myself is just fine.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I guess the beauty in it all is that we can reinvent ourselves as often as we want. I need to start taking on an entirely different attitude, Karen. Never having really discussed these feelings before, I’ve never been exposed to the thoughts and opinions of others who have gone through similar things. It’s so refreshing to see how you feel about this and that you are comfortable in who you are – whoever that person happens to be on any given day! Thanks, Karen :)

      Reply
  16. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds

    Bravo, Ellen! You are all those things and more! Who knows what else you will discover about yourself in the years to come!

    That’s the great thing about life is that we can chose at anytime to be whoever and whatever we want. Maybe not always consciously, but we make the choices. I’ve been so many different things in my life, but my defining moment was when I became a mother. I wanted so much for my daughter to have a strong, independent and healthy mother so I made myself over into that person. During that process, I discovered that I am a runner, I am a triathlete and I prefer to be an individual (instead of following the masses.)

    And even if we don’t accomplish what we initially had hoped for (I, at one time, want to be an artist, but had to come to terms that I have absolutely no talent for it!) I truly believe that our only failure is if we don’t try. So you fall once or twice reaching for your star… Every warrior has bruises and scars! At least we know what we are NOT and can focus our efforts elsewhere! :)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      …and yet another reason why I adore you. I love the fact that you are an individual and that you are providing your daughter with a strong, unique role model. Thank you so much this comment, Jenn.

      Reply
  17. Julie

    I need to read the book Cammy recommended too! One thing I thought while reading this post was that I now think about these things. When I was obese I was just fat! That defined my activities, my clothing (which in turn defined what I could and couldn’t do), my social life (I didn’t have one) and my sense of self. I still don’t have much of a IRL social life but that is by choice rather than because I am too frightened about being stared at or pitied. I call myself a scrapbooker but would be hard pressed to show you anything I have scrapped recently! I call myself a journalist despite not having worked in that industry for six years. However, that is the work I most identified with and loved. Maybe writer would be a better title! I love that having lost weight I have opened up my mind and life to new experiences and opportunities. I love the thought process you have started in my mind as I look forward to the weekend (it’s already Friday here in Australia!!)

    Reply
  18. Jan

    You…not an artist? Are you kidding me? You are so amazingly creative! You have so many artistic aspects that I can’t even count them all. Heck, just doing yoga is like artwork in my opinion. :) You are so much more than you think.

    Reply
  19. Lynn~The Learning Curves Blogger

    Great post! Thanks for the mention. But I have to be honest…there are still some days when I don’t really feel like a runner…an inner struggle between my competitive side and my need to just enjoy the meditative benefits I’ve found from running sometimes interferes with my ‘identity’. That’s when I realize I need to get out of my own way, stop analyzing and enjoy ‘being’. I love that the yoga (and blogging) are doing the same for you!!

    Reply

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