Finding Identity

Do you ever lie in bed ready to go? Unable to stay there, sleep, because you know there’s one thing to do in that moment, one thing driving your soul? One thing to “dangle from…limp wherever it takes you”? That was me at 1:30 pm on Saturday, November 9th.

Unable to fall asleep for my craved afternoon nap, I lie tired under my white-white sheets under white-white quilt under white-white down comforter under white-yellow lines of sun shining through white-gray mini-blinds.

Shades of white

I brainstormed for my blog. I want a new design, my own domain. I want a title. Choosing them comes down to this: my identity. In the sun-bed, I realized this: I’ve claimed myself more than ever in the past 12 months. And I knew that I had to write.

So, I transplanted myself, laptop on lap, to my oversized chair under white-white slip cover under white-yellow lines of sun shining through white-gray mini-blinds.

I’ve stifled identity – to make friends, to keep friends, to impress teachers, to please bosses. I forget to be real.

But this year, I’ve claimed the following:

  • I am a writer. I write to create beauty and share love. And I will be joyful.
  • Building relationships is my life mission. And I will be joyful.
  • Objectification will play no part in my self-image or the way I view women. And I will be joyful.
  • I am God’s child. I’m inherently beautiful. And I will be joyful.
  • I’m given gifts designed for my personality, past, sense of humor, petty desires, every day. And I will be joyful.

Joy does not come naturally to me. I often forget that real joy comes from clinging to the mission so tightly that you have to let the rest of it go. Do you ever want to spend an hour complaining, a day in bed,  a weekend without socializing? Introvert time is necessary, but I know I’m hiding from my purpose, my identity, when I use my words and time selfishly.

Surrounded by these shades of white, though, I am pure.

I will claim my faults, desires, strengths, and this blog. I will write because it empowers my identity, and hopefully yours.

If you want to join me on this identity pursuit, this missional life, let’s do it together. What keeps you awake when you could be taking a nap? Who are you?

“We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—even of silence—by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. A weasel doesn’t “attack” anything; a weasel lives as he’s meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.

I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.”

– Annie Dillard, Living Like Weasels

CLE + Joy: Natural Color

I didn’t expect to find color in Cleveland. And I didn’t expect to find joy in color. But because nature-colors are less present here than in rural areas, I notice them more. Not the colors alone, but the way they contrast with the buildings and roads and everything that is city-gray. I’m on a daily hunt for these intersections. And I am grateful for this fall surprise.

Shaker Blvd. Night leaves Golden walkway Progressive Field Dave's Buckeye-Shaker Fall tree Sunset Shaker Heights

CLE + Joy: Streets

I’m from the country. This pavement and potholes and cars and neglect of turning signals and crosswalks everywhere is new to me. But I kind of like it. It’s the quick-thinking I have to do at 7:45 am when someone cuts in front of me and the old old buildings I pass and the so many new people crossing streets and the traffic safety helpers directing kids across the street to school. It’s messy and chaotic and alive:

Buckeye-Shaker480 BridgeIndians GameCanal Road Warner HillTower CityDriving home

Introduction to the Cle + Joy series

CLE + Joy: Food Culture

I’m hesitant to join the food Instagram-ers, and I refuse to become a “foodie” to combat the Gen Y syndrome. But the spiritual and physical life-giving power of food brings me joy, makes me want to share.

Below are some of my Cleveland food experiences, made beautiful by art, relationship, and adventure.

1. Crepes, delicate, rich, and packaged the same way they are in France:

Crepes

2. Apple strudel at a Hungarian restaurant:

Hungarian Apple Strudel

The Hungarian owner, a gruff but endearing gray-haired man, waited on my table. He didn’t smile at our eager “thank you”s, but he waved from his chair at the back, in between overseeing the tables and ordering the bus-boys, as we exited.

3. Jokes on Shaker Square:

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4. Dim sum bringing cultures together:

Dim Sum

Every time I see West meet East, contrast is revealed. I delight in the conflict/communion/cooperation.

Today I heard that food is inherently good. Genesis 1:29-30 says “Then God said, ‘Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground – everything that has life.” Before sin!

Literal vs. figurative interpretations aside, food was placed here for us to enjoy, along with the rest of the universe. And it creates order within creation. So let’s receive.

CLE + Joy: The Faces of Downtown

The first of my posts on the small joys of Cleveland, this one is more universal than some of the beauties I described in the CLE + Joy introduction. I’ve been a shameless tourist when it comes to capturing downtown Cleveland in my month and a half here.

Being a tourist has allowed me to get a real picture of what downtown is – without letting all of the negative comments I’ve heard bring it down. Today, my boss said to the company, “Cleveland is the country’s best kept secret. We just have a self-esteem problem.”

There is much more beauty than dust in this city, and I want to share it. I can finally pick out the Cleveland skyline. And I love it. The lake sunsets, the intricate architecture, the fresh streets, the Wednesday business rush and the weekend excitement.

From Shaker Heights

From Shaker Heights on a summer night

From Ohio City

From Ohio City on a West Side Market run

From Progressive Field

From Progressive Field before a Tribe win

From St. Clair and E. 6th

From St. Clair and E. 6th on a Wednesday morning

From E. 6th

From E. 6th on 9/11/13

What are your favorite parts of downtown Cleveland? What’s beautiful to you?