Who I Am

Until I was stopped mid-“run” (pun intended) last fall by a “pre-stress fracture” in my foot, I think I’ve always been running in some way.  Before I started physically running, looking back, it seems I was always running toward something- some goal or marker or idea of perfection.  Or running from something- a thought, a fear, a memory or just time to think.  Or running in circles sometimes- saying one thing, wanting another, doing something entirely different and not realizing why I couldn’t seem to get out of the “ruts” my circular running was causing.

I’ve learned so much in the last 2, 3, 5 years that sometimes I have this idea that I’m done learning, but that never seems to be the case as I “learned” in September when  a little nagging pain in my foot just wouldn’t go away.  The MRI showed swelling in one of the tiny foot bones and the doctor/husband said “no running for 4 weeks minimum” (verified by other doctor/non-husbands) and so I was left being still.  It took me about a week of crying, quietly raging, rationalizing and dramatizing before I finally settled down my mind and heart enough to realize there was more learning to be had.

As I thought back over the last few weeks, no less than 5 people whom I trust and respect immensely had suggested I might be a little too busy- “running” too much perhaps- both literally and figuratively.  Although my filled-to-the-hour calendar (that is always with me) supported their suggestions, I couldn’t understand why I would need to change something that was “working” so well so far (ha!) and so I decided they were ALL mistaken and I could handle it.  (Insert text about bone swelling above).  I decided since I had nothing to lose exactly (and I was limited to non-impact exercise anyway) I would try to create some space in my schedule and “cross-training” in my health- physical and otherwise.

I started doing Pilates twice a week and discovered (after a week of a bad attitude), that is a perfect addition to a runner’s routine.  It is incredibly mental, immediately encouraging and provides a lot of additional benefits that allowed me to stop physical therapy, some medications AND see changes in my strength that I’d just given up on ever having.  I started sleeping an extra hour, taking a bath most nights and taking at least 2 rest days a week from aerobic exercise.  I started getting up earlier and spending time reading and praying/meditating.  I started being more intentional about reading- both fun/fiction books and those that pertained to things I like or thought I did.  I started having time to talk to people and to really listen because my mind wasn’t spinning on super-high speed at all times, reminding me of all I had left to do in a second-hand timer countdown that never stopped.  I realized that as much as I loved seeing every hour with an activity planned, that in some ways I was using that to keep “running” and basically my body realized before my mind and heart did that I was just plain tired.

What I realized several weeks into this period was that if I was really honest with myself- which is still an evolving concept- I had no idea who I was.  So many things I thought I knew and loved, I was finding maybe I didn’t like so much.  And so many things I just knew I vehemently hated, I actually had never given appropriate thought and consideration.  I discovered so many preconceived ideas, and weird associations that I couldn’t even logically trace back, and also discovered a lot of jealousy, envy, fear, pride and competition way down deep in myself that I hadn’t really been aware of on a conscious level for a long time- maybe ever.

When I really started thinking about it, I could trace things even back to childhood and high-school, where my confusion with myself started.  (Recently posted facebook pictures- thanks Anna- made it pretty clear that my angst was being expressed in direct proportion to the height of my hair).

Photo: Last one for #tbt #highschoolprom1992 #beautifulgirls #bigbadhair #noflatironsbackthen

When I was with the “church friends” I was “church-y”.  In the band, I tried to be the best, but even first chair saxophone I alternately shared with Jill and Cinnamon depending on the week.  I tried being “fun” and “sporty” and “girly” and “hard-working”.  I tried being the “best” resident and the “best” fellow (epic fail), the best doctor, the best pediatrician, the best military officer-the BEST whatever it is I was seeing someone else do at the moment, never quite reaching the bar I set for myself.  Any time I was let in to the “cool” crowd, I tried my best to be “cool” but the truth is: Deep down- I’m just not that cool!!  (Is that why I love that Will Hoge song so much?!).

What I realized during all this reflection is that all that trying to be the best is EXHAUSTING.

Oddly enough, running is the first thing in my life I have loved and have never felt the need to be the best at.  I don’t run to race and I don’t race to win anything and in fact sometimes I go slower just so I’ll keep that ever-creeping competitive part of me out of my running.  I don’t want it there.  So maybe it’s no surprise that in losing my running for a period, I entered this state of figuring out what it is I really love- who it is I really am.  And here’s what I found:

I am a writer.
I am a runner.
I am an encourager.
I am a teacher/educator.
I am a reader.
I am a thinker.
I am an empathizer.
I am a traveler.
I am an adventurer.
I am passionate.
I am all about “the moment”.

That list is short, there are a lot of things that aren’t on it and it is surprisingly refreshing and happy and makes me feel peaceful and free when I look at it.


(A recent trip with my friend Pam where I got to incorporate every one of those things above!).

So in the end, I’ve come to be more comfortable with who I am.  More comfortable with really living out Hebrews 12:1b.  It’s true- my yard always needs a little work, and that raised garden bed so far just has pretty flowers/weeds growing in it.  My house always needs to be swept and the meals I cook are good not great.  My blog posts are too long and too rambly and I write too infrequently.  I don’t play the piano, guitar, violin or handbells.  I don’t have any kids, and my birthday cards and gifts are always 2 days late, as I am always 4 minutes late.  I don’t like big parties and I cry more than is probably normal for all kinds of reasons.  I over-react and I apologize alot.  I can’t take a good picture to save my life and when I play drawing games, I ALWAYS have to explain (“NO, it’s a cat!).

But I’m learning who I am and that I sort of like myself sometimes- a novel concept for me.

I’d love to hear who you are- and how you figured that out?

21 thoughts on “Who I Am

  1. Gretta Benefield May 12, 2013 / 11:28 pm

    Awesome! Love every word of it!

    > “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:16 am

      Thanks! You’ve been helping me with this too!

  2. dowford May 13, 2013 / 12:14 am

    Your insight is amazing. Beautiful writing.

  3. Katie Axelson May 13, 2013 / 3:40 am

    I understand your frustration with not being able to do something you love. I love and cope through writing… but I’ve got tendonitis in my elbow making writing a painful past time. I’m so glad you’ve found alternatives and ways to process without running–literally and figuratively.

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:15 am

      Thanks Katie! Thank goodness I’ve been running again for a few months!:). I’m not sure if I’d have the same perspective if I was banned indefinitely:) (I probably shouldn’t “say” that out loud?!). I hope your elbow gets better! I pray for my “Guatemala friends” on Mondays so will add this to my list!!

  4. Elvia Edwards May 13, 2013 / 5:06 am

    How fortunate and wise of you that you figured all this out at such a young age. Keep growing and changing and seeking the Lord’s will for your life.

    • dowford May 13, 2013 / 7:33 am

      You’ve got to be so encouraged by this. This blog post was you best one—by far!!

      • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:06 am

        Ha- you always say that! You’re a great encourager and helper in my learning…..

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:10 am

      ELVIA! Thank you soooo much for those sweet encouraging words and advice-they mean so much. And I adore you for calling me “young”!!

  5. Pam May 13, 2013 / 6:18 am

    Beautiful, Dawn. You are always so inspiring to me. We will talk more in person.

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:08 am

      Mutual inspiration Pam- so glad to have friends who “get it” 🙂

  6. Jane Carver May 13, 2013 / 11:26 pm

    Dear Dawn,

    Hi, it’s Jane. We were in the same small group at the retreat. I love this post. I love your honesty. It reminds me a bit of the book by Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl.

    I’m a people pleaser who is trying to focus on just pleasing God. I wish I was a runner…I did “wog” a bit with my doggie this morning. (WOG- walk/jog)I started working in mid-March and I love working at Charlie Barnes baby boutique. I have hardly written anything on my blog lately…

    We got back late last night from a trip to Indianapolis & Chicago. I hope we bump into each other at church sometime. (I hope I will recognize you and you’ll know me without my camo and Duck Dynasty attire.

    Take care. Love & Blessings, Jane

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:03 am

      Jane! Of course I remember you and would recognize you- I actually think of you often! I’m honored you are reading and can’t wait to read your next blog. As for the running- exercise in general is sooooo key for me in many ways and I “wog” allll the time! I will absolutely keep watching for you:). Maybe we could go for a wog sometime 🙂

  7. Susan Stilwell May 14, 2013 / 12:12 am

    I’d like to be able to say I’ve figured “me” out, but It’s an ongoing process! I have learned to sift some of the chaff, and that’s always helpful. Such a great post, Dawn! I love the new look and hope you’ll be posting more often!

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 12:22 am

      I am always grateful for your words Susan- thank you for all of those words!

  8. Cyn Rogalski May 14, 2013 / 4:36 am

    I love your rambles! You write like I think, so I’m very comfortable reading your post. You are who you are, and that is WONDERful! I remember thinking how nice it was, when I finally got to the point where I couldn’t help but be happy I fit just right in my skin…lumps, bumps, & stretchmarks included! Thanks for this refreshing post!

    • Dawn Muench May 14, 2013 / 4:47 am

      Aww- Cyn- how kind and encouraging your words are! Thank you for that and for your perspective- I love that 🙂

  9. Alene Snodgrass (@AleneSnodgrass) May 17, 2013 / 1:23 am

    Oh my stars — this is good! I think I’m still figuring out who I am. It seems about the time I think I have it figured out God decided to move me out of my comfort zone. Girl — I’m totally a work in progress. love you

    • Dawn Muench May 17, 2013 / 5:44 am

      Alene- I know right? Actually your post from last week is what inspired me to actually write this one. We so still need to talk- thanks for reading!

  10. Lori Donovan July 8, 2013 / 8:59 pm

    I love your story and testimony. You are insightful and encouraging. I appreciate your transparency too. I will reread it to motivate and help me refocus at this strange fork in the road for me.

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