Who are you? Speak your truth!

“Oh I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you; you have not known what you are. You have slumbered upon yourself all your life. Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time…Whoever you are, claim your own at any hazard! These shows of the east and the west are tame compared to you. These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are immense and interminable as they are.”Walt Whitman
I am a Contradiction
Are we all a contradiction? Is this something that rings true with you as you read this? There are so many times that I fear it makes me less perfect, less like everyone else, but I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Is it, then, what makes us so fascinating and indelibly human?
The truth should set us free. Right?
My Truths
I love the limelight—when I choose to turn on my “light,” my friends call me The Belle of the Ball. Generally I will take any chance to stand out and call attention to myself, sometimes taking it to a narcissistic level. Strangely, though, in my natural state, I am still, quiet, and blend in. Perhaps this is the reason I need that “switch” to turn me into someone else. I’m not sure if I feel that my value goes one way or the other when I am Belle and when I am Becky, but I have always noticed these two distinct sides of me.
There are times I feel lonely, and that is when I start putting myself down for being single. Damn you, society, for putting those thoughts into my mind. Damn you, subconscious, for letting them fester. Single is not a negative thing; it does not mean unlovable. In fact, single means not willing to settle for less than I deserve. So when I am feeling lonely, I should be celebrating my independence and cautious nature in choosing who I will spend my life with. Besides, I am constantly surrounded by loved ones. I know I’m ready for my big romantic love, but perhaps he is not quite ripe yet. Who knows? I can’t let it stop me from living an amazing life.
I am very physically active and live a healthy life, yet I still see myself as the “big girl.” I was uncomfortably overweight for a large part of my life, and it became who I was—how I identified myself. It’s been 10 years since my drastic weight loss, and still I have fears and uncertainty about how people view the physical part of me.
“You think of yourself
as a citizen of the universe.
You think you belong
to this world of dust and matter.
Out of this dust
you have created a personal image,
and have forgotten
about the essence of your true origin.” – Rumi
I dance on stage in front of dozens, exposing my vulnerability and body, and yet I cower in fear at the thought of approaching a handsome, confident man.
I am full of energy and life, yet I am exhausted much of the time. I often do not listen to my body when it says STOP.
And this whole recent breakup…the religion thing…I love the fact that it made me question the truth about my own faith. I’ve been delving more deeply into my Quaker roots, and I find it fascinating to study other people and their experiences, whether or not their beliefs match my own. My faith, though not always front and center in my life, has always been essential to me. I’ve found it helpful to read several books in the past few weeks, including a great one written by a Quaker kid I knew growing up, called The Unlikely Disciple. I followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically. Talk about contradictions.It highlights the ridiculousness of trying to live literally by all of the Bible’s rules. At the same time, it weeds out some very simple but eternally applicable lessons that the Bible deems important. Another useful text is one that my mother sent me at the beginning of my breakup, called A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense. It has reconnected me with some of the testimonies of Quakerism that sometimes get lost in the fray of everyday life.
My truth is that I don’t fit into a pre-made box. My mold isn’t shaped like a puzzle piece; it’s more like a dodecahedron. So where does that leave me? How do I find my people? My calling? What drives me? Do I have to categorize myself in order to find someone that I mesh well with? In some ways, my versatility makes me very easy to get along with. In other ways it alienates me to a point where I don’t know how to define myself. Let’s be honest, sometimes questioning can lead to an amazing breakthrough, but there is always that fear that it will lead to nothing. I suppose all I can do, all any of us can do, is to stay open to the journey and experience it with gratitude and a true lust for life.
Whoever you are, claim your own at any hazard!
What is your truth?

Mind Over My Hamstrings

The 8k from Hell


For the past year I’ve been running, and the entire time I’ve been telling myself I am running towards something:  towards a PR (personal record), towards a particular goal, towards an athletic achievement, towards a state of body acceptance. I have completely embraced running as a hobby and am proud to say that I have run a 5k, an 8k, a 10k…even a half marathon! I am truly amazed at my progress, and incredibly proud of myself for these accomplishments.
I was thinking about all of this last week when I was debating about committing to a second half marathon. I said I wouldn’t do one again for a while, but a few factors influenced me in the opposite direction.
Then I started pondering the deeper meaning of all of this running I’ve been doing. I climbed into that little cave in my mind where I tend to overanalyze. Man, I can stay in there for hours, feeding on worries and fears, breathing in the murky fog and breathing out light so that when I finally come out, there is a clarity that makes my world look a little different. I must have explored every corner of that cave last week. Following are a few notes that came to me while I was in there.
Quality time with friends. Though I go out often enough, I have a set of friends who I wouldn’t see nearly enough if it wasn’t for running. This is the group of friends who used to drag me into drinking games in our twenties (Ok fine, they didn’t have to pull that hard.). Many of them have decreased their social time, so it is with great pleasure that I get to spend my Saturday mornings sojourning with these people for a few hours.
Running away from confrontation. I admit, I keep myself very busy, so much so that many of my friends/family have commented on it. They ask me how I get my “me time.”  They accuse me of using my social life and hobbies to avoid something deeper that is going on inside me. You know what? Sometimes, in order to avoid staying home and being fully occupied by my worries and fears, I go out.
I run. I hike.
I salsa dance. I belly dance.
I write.  
I need a healthy distraction—what’s so bad about that? True, I over-commit. I had my first “date with Becky” last night, which was the first I’d had in months. But I think there is something my concerned brethren isn’t realizing. There is so much catharsis in these activities. Anyone who has ever been immersed in a dance or a sport so much that they completely free their mind knows what I’m talking about. It happens every time I attend a belly dance class. Does that happen to you?
Society. I feel as though I am running, no, sprinting AWAY from society’s standards at this point in my life. Why is it that when we point our lives in the direction of this supposedly-desired end result, we feel so incredibly awful if the situation doesn’t play out like it’s supposed to? I get so frustrated when I look at my life, impressed with what I have accomplished and the goals that I have set for myself, and then a person, media outlet, or simply my fear turns on a 120-watt light bulb so that I am certain to see what I don’t have:  a husband, children, a high-paying job, a nicer car, lots of material things. And then I feel like crap, and have to start the process of feeling good about myself all over again. What is the point of striving for societal standards anyway? Seriously! I really think that all they do is set us up to reach for ideals that may or may not be what we are destined for, and there is no built-in security net, no automatic back-up system that we can reset to if something should happen.
This morning I received an automated email from a website I am subscribed to. If you haven’t already, you should take a look at Sex, Love, Liberation. It’s focused on sexual liberation, but it’s about so much more than that. I don’t always agree or even enjoy the posts that Ev`Yan sends out, but most of the time, her words touch me in some way. Following is a snippet of today’s email.
This journey of self-discovery that you are on is a hard one. It involves strength, trust, & complete vulnerability — a wicked combination.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t have all the answers right now. Don’t be discouraged by the rate of your progress or the slowness of getting to the bottom of your core wounding.
The road to liberation (sexual, spiritual, or otherwise) is not paved in gold. It’s a mess of overgrown foliage, dark, murky caverns, & muddy paths. 
All of that chaos & confusion is necessary for your growth. Even hardships & negativity serve your liberation. Ev`Yan Nasman, http://sexloveliberation.com/
You know what I’m going to say. I cannot hear this message enough. I urge you to read it and realize that while you and I have a ways to go in our journeys, the reality is that we’ve already accomplished several PRAs (Personal Records of Awesomeness) during our existence on this earth, and for that we should be extremely proud. If you feel so led, share in the comments section one PRA that you’ve accomplished. I want you to BRAG and feel incredible about doing it. Thank you in advance for sharing.