who we are

It’s a funny evolution — growing up and slowly making life choices.  Something that has been on my mind recently — the choices we all make — pretty much touches every aspect of who we are.  Not just what we do for a living — but how we do what we do.  Who we choose to spend our life with – where that life is lived.  Some of the choices are influenced by outside factors, but many are internal decisions.  Steps are taken based on experience, based on culture, based on the humans our parents began to build.

But at some point, we stop being our parents children, and we become ourselves.

I can see — in how I live my life — both of my parents and my paternal grandmother (who assisted in raising my brother and I while living with our family most of my young life).  Those three people did their best to shape a little human who had values, morals and ate her vegetables (among other things).  The time, effort and education they put into me, the love and attention and angst as I grew up and spread my wings — the pure frustration they must have felt.  None of their work was immediately evident as I headed off to college.  It was hazy — who I was was still somewhat unclear.

I made them wait a little, too.  I didn’t have all my sh*t together like most kids — I graduated from college and hung out in limbo for a little bit.  Now, over ten years later, I can look back and things make sense.  But they didn’t at the time.

And then all of a sudden, I began to figure it out, figure myself out.  It started small, but it grew.  I felt confident in who I wanted to be – as a partner, as an employee and as a member of society.  Suddenly, I began to understand how the world worked — and that it didn’t work for me, or in my favor.  I had to make that for myself.

So very long story short, I managed to fall into a career, I met a man who is actually my best friend, a man who cares about me and love me even when I’m completely unloveable.  And I began to grow up for real.

What I mean by that is that at some point (and it varies greatly) I think we all become aware of taking care of ourselves — that maybe what we eat actually matters, and exercise is –after all– about more than being skinny and looking the part at the gym.  That there are consequences to all our actions.

And then — each one of us — we begin to define ourselves.  In our personal relationships, in how we conduct ourselves professionally — in how we choose to be healthy.  Some people look for easier solutions — diet supplements, things that guarantee a result without putting in the work.  And other people do the research, they slowly build their knowledge and modify their behavior.  It speaks of character just as much as it speaks of health.

Anyway, I digress.

The point I’m making (in a very round about way) is that once we begin to make choices we begin to define who we are, but also who we want to be.  And that entire process is fascinating.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it (as I mentioned at the beginning of this post), because the man and I have made so many changes in how we live — and that’s just the past few years, not even the entire time we’ve been together.  At some undefinable moment (because it wasn’t when I was diagnosed — that just enhanced it) John and I began to make changes in how we lived our lives.  And the evolution of that is crazy.  And I can see who we are, and our life circumstances, in nearly every change we’ve made. I can see myself — this late-blooming human being — beginning to emerge from the haze.  And it’s pretty cool.

changing attitudes

Life has a funny way of surprising you.

Case in point — I am not a FB stalker by nature.  In general, people I’m no longer friends with, people whose paths have diverged from my own — I’m not all that interested in creeping about online trying to find out how their lives have progressed.  Not because I wish them any ill will, but more because there’s no need, no point really, in trying ti find out information that has no relevance to one’s own life.  If I was still invested in that friendship, I would know how lives were because I would speak with my friend.

That being said, I’m also not entirely immune to good old-fashioned curiosity.

Let me also say, there are several women from my past whom I am no longer in contact with and for the most part, the reasons for those choices are extremely valid.

But on Friday, as I scrolled through some photos, I happened upon a person I haven’t had any contact with for several years, and I admit, I was curious.

My limited discoveries made me think long and hard about life choices, about why certain people remain friends, and others do not.  And, I have to admit, it made me feel glad that I no longer have a relationship with the aforementioned person.

We all, in our lives, come to many crossroads. Decisions have to be made, and in those decisions parts of our character are revealed.  Do I choose to follow my dreams or make a living (and do those things have to be mutually exclusive?) — and how do those choices help form the human being I am.  Do I choose the easy way or the hard way?  And why — because sometimes the easy choices are wise and sometimes, the hard way is the honest, decent, moral way.

I examined the changes that I noticed in this person, the choices in life this person has apparently made — and I knew deep down that as humans, we do not value or prioritize the same things.  And that also reinforced that the decision to end our friendship was the right one.

My life is a huge amalgamation of the choices I’ve made, the people who influenced me, the things I value, the morals I hold, the goals I strive for — the man I married, the brother I love, the parents who raised me, the mistakes I’ve learned from, the disease that inhabits my body … You get my point.

I’m proud of where I’ve found myself — of the business I’ve helped to shape, of the friendships I am privileged to enjoy, of the races I’ve run, the food I’ve cooked, the knowledge that I try to grow every day.  And I know that each of us makes choices every day about how we want to live — do we drink alcohol, eat meat, drink water, exercise, pursue hobbies, etc etc.  This person who I am no longer friends with — she always gave me the impression that she didn’t approve of my life, of my choices, of my job/career, my relationships.  I don’t know that I ever felt that way about her — she seemed to make smart decisions, and she had the foundation of a very happy life and family the last time we spoke.  But now, doing a little check-in years later, I was surprised by some of the paths she chose to walk and it brought into sharp focus that whatever disapproval she had for me probably came from her own insecurities and had very little to do with my actual life.

I am the first to admit that I didn’t follow the easiest path to where I am.  Somehow, despite some terrible life choices, I’ve ended up in a good place, with an amazing support group.  I’m not the best at keeping in touch.  I’m selfish.  Not in a terrible way, but in a real way.  I know that.  But I’m also fairly resourceful, and thanks to the inherent spirit of my mother, I tend to look on the bright side of life.  Even if it doesn’t seem to exist.  Having a moment when I realized that I no longer needed to feel cowed by a person years and miles away in relevance — it was refreshing and relieving.  If also a little absurd.

So that’s my tangent for today.  My snuggly pup is rolling around on the carpet and the man is researching for his upcoming trip Out West.  It’s a nice Sunday.  I’m going to go make some popcorn and watch more Star Trek.  🙂

small smiles

March most assuredly came in like a lion today.  John and I headed into the city to put my new office today (phew!  it was driving me nuts working in an office that looked like a bomb went off).  We arrived downtown with a heavy gray sky, and by the time we left, the snow had accumulated and turned to freezing rain.  It was insane.

I guess the one thing I felt grateful for today is that each new day is just that — new.  And when you wake up in the morning and you allow all the heaviness of the day before and the tumultuousness of a restless night’s sleep slip from your shoulders, life feels a lot lighter.

It all starts again tomorrow.  But at least I feel much better, and I have a nice, clean place to go to work.  Sometimes it’s worthwhile to just find the little things that make you smile, and add them up.  It usually amounts to much more than you realized.