Finding Inspiration To Be Me

Meditations in Motion

I was at a party with some running friends several months ago. A group of women gathered at a tribe member’s house for a run, followed by pot-luck breakfast and a dip in her pool.

I was talking to one friend after breakfast and noticed she was wearing three earrings – two in one ear and one in the other. I liked it; I thought it gave her a chic, Bohemian vibe.

As it turns out, my ears are pierced in three places too. At one time I had two piercings in both ears, but one of the holes grew shut since I rarely wore two sets of earrings.

I almost never put in that third earring, believing myself too old and too conservative to pull it off, but my friend, who is about my age, wore the look well.

She unknowingly gave me permission to wear three earrings.

Why do I need permission?

When we wait for permission we are showing our need for others’ approval.

Or are we?

Meditations in Motion

I once took a personality test as part of an in-service program. Among other things, I learned from that personality test that I am more of an extrovert than an introvert.

That doesn’t mean I am a back-slapping, life-of-the-party kind of person, although I am fairly gregarious. Being an extrovert means I gain energy from being with others. I lose energy from spending too much time alone.

Introverts, by the way, are the opposite; they gain energy from spending time alone and lose energy from too much social interaction.

Most of us are not 100% introverted or extroverted; we all fall somewhere on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

Since we are all at least somewhat extroverted, we all gain some energy and insight from others. That’s not always a bad thing.

What if I was not waiting for permission to wear the third earring, what if I was waiting for inspiration?

Inspiring people are often enthusiastic, innovative, and caring. They exude confidence and appear to be relaxed and calm. People who inspire us have a certain amount of courage; they are bold, at least in some areas of life.

Now, wearing a third earring was not a momentous decision. It was just a tiny example of a change I thought I could make for the better. I sometimes need a little push to be bold.

I have been inspired by others in countless ways. Sometimes it works out, as it did in the case of the earring.

Sometimes it is a disaster, like the time, inspired by a friend, I tried to do a triathlon without really training.

I know an extraordinary woman who is an extremely talented runner. And biker. And swimmer. She talked to me about doing triathlons and made the challenge sound appealing.

On her suggestion, I signed up for a small sprint triathlon near my house.

I was already a runner, so running a 5K was no issue. I swam two or three times a week for about a mile at a time, so swimming six laps in the pool was a breeze.

Meditations in MotionThe problem was the bike. Or, more accurately the problem was me riding the bike.

I never ride bikes on the road. I don’t even have a road bike; I have a mountain bike. To prepare for the triathlon, I asked my husband to fill the tires of my little-used mountain bike with air, rode to the end of our street and back, and declared myself ready.

On the day of the triathlon, the swim portion of the race went perfectly. I beat my predicted time by several minutes. The run was wonderful too, a mostly flat out and back on scenic country roads.

But the bike portion of the race was by far the largest section of the race and I was terrible. I couldn’t keep up with people riding light, aerodynamic road bikes on my heavy, clunky mountain bike. People who actually trained on bikes left woefully untrained me in the dust.

I was out on the bike so long, the course marshals began to return before I did. My husband, who came to the race to cheer me on, became worried I got lost. I was the dead last finisher on the bike.

We can all learn from our mistakes. As I attempted to learn from this disaster, the first lesson was obvious. Never undertrain for a race. Hubris made me think I could compete with racers who were much more prepared than I and using the proper equipment. I couldn’t.

I now believe there was also a deeper lesson for me to learn.

When I was inspired by my earring-wearing friend, I was inspired by her example. When I was inspired to do the triathlon without training on the bike, I was inspired by my friend herself. I was inspired by the person.

It’s fine to be inspired by traits, habits, and skills of others, but when we try to emulate another person, we are not being true to ourselves.

I can be inspired by a friend’s generosity, but I should be motivated to imitate the generosity, not the friend.

We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, our unique characteristics that make us individuals. When we attempt to adopt the attributes of others, we give up our own inner strength.

The only person I can be honestly is me. When I forget that, I become a fan or a follower and I lose self-respect.

I also run the risk of losing my inner compass, that little voice in my head that tells meΒ  right from wrong. Too many followers have accompanied a charismatic leader down a dangerous path.

Imitating another person can lead to serious trouble.

I saw my earring-wearing friend at the pool recently. She was wearing a bikini. It made me wonder if I could pull off a bikini to swim laps. “Nah,” I thought. Not me.

Sometimes it takes a while, but slowly, I am learning to be me.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

97 comments

  1. I had a boss like that once. She was so inspiring and I wanted to be like her. However, I soon realised that, while I could learn certain skills and copy some aspects, I would never be HER.
    I still think you should try the bikini, though! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great thoughts on inspiration–only the really self-assured of us could resist being inspired by someone who is more self-assured…yeah, no bikini over here. I might be the only woman on the beach with her abdomen covered, but I wouldn’t be comfortable any other way!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Another very insightful post πŸ™‚ I have pierced ears (since I was 10), but one of them is slightly off (a little more towards the back of the ear lobe than the other).I have been tempted to get a second piercing in the “off” pierced ear, so there would at least be two holes that were symmetrical…but that would leave me with three holes total. Which, I do kind of like. I’m an art geek, so I’m always intrigued with doing things that are a bit more “expressive” because I don’t want to look like other people. That’s why I wear my white jeans year-round and have been cuffing my pants before it was trendy LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are a true fashionista, Kim! If you do get three holes total, post a photo. I tried to take a selfie of my ear with 2 earrings and I couldn’t get a good one. You are a better photographer than me, though.

      Like

  4. That was an interesting perspective on yourself Laurie – you are bold and ready to take on new things head on – I can tell that from your writing and our “chats” … I used to be be more willing to try new things but have become rather set in my ways since not out in the world in the workplace, but instead working from home. But that’s okay too. I have to laugh when people say I am introverted – I always have said “yes, I prefer being alone, but am equally comfortable being with people and can strike up a conversation with a stranger easily.” They want to disagree, but now I can see you can be both … so that is me. Go ahead and do the third earring – the bikini to swim laps is a bold and brazen move … go for it, you train hard enough that you are fit and can pull it off.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I need inspiration to be bold, Linda. I am pretty conservative, almost timid if left to my own devices. You seem to strike up conversations so easily with your blogger friends. I would not have said you were an introvert.

      No way on the bikini. The third earring is OK. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t feel like an introvert, but have been pegged as such since I live alone and have no family, and friends all live out of state. But I don’t feel like that as I don’t have trouble striking up conversations; in fact I have a friend who is always sending me articles about being an introvert … I don’t know whether to say “thank you” or “why are you sending this?” Okay, no bikini and yes the third earring is okay. πŸ™‚ All grandmas should be as fit as you are Laurie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you are great at starting conversations, Linda. You always seem to have lots of chats going on with your readers on your blog. I would not peg you as an introvert.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Laurie – that’s what I told my friend who keeps sending me this articles she reads online. Like your post says, she can be a little of both – I do prefer the quiet and coziness of being home, but can still thrive in a crowd. I think I mentioned to you when we discussed waitressing and liking our jobs, that job brought me out of my shell – before it, I was very shy.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m afraid I’m not who I was,
    and there is no ‘me’;
    I have to find my way because
    I’m hostage to my destiny.
    They say that we are wired hard
    by God, to be that which we are,
    but I;m hoist on cancer’s fell petard,
    and find that I am very far
    from understanding the intent
    and comprehending simple grace;
    how could this be provident,
    and why am I now in this place?
    All I am is a reaction
    to my former life’s redaction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Andrew. How beautiful and sad. Praying for you, my friend. God does make us each in our own way. I don’t understand either but I am in wonder just the same.

      Like

  6. I love the idea of a potluck breakfast after a run! I may try that one of these days.
    Very interesting reading – so just to make sure I’ve gotten it, for your triathlon example, it may have worked out better had you been inspired by the hard work that your friend had put into doing a triathlon as opposed to the act of doing of the triathlon itself?

    Liked by 2 people

    • The breakfast was so much fun. I would recommend it. Right – I should have been inspired by the training my friend did for each portion of the tri. I was only inspired by her results. If I would ever do another tri, I need to train on the bike.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Laurie, I have to say this is one of the best ‘speaks to me’ posts I’ve ever read. What spot-on insight and wonderful storytelling. I want to be chatting over coffee instead of reading on a screen! Your post reminds me of when I saw an *inspiring* poster in a hair salon and decided ‘I should have bangs, too.’ Forget the fact that the woman was a model, significantly younger than me, massively styled, and sans-colic.’ Needless to say–it was a mistake. I had to pin my bangs back with bobby pins for a good three months. When I went back to study the poster to determine where I went wrong, I realized it wasn’t the bangs that hooked me. And it wasn’t anything deep & meaningful & loaded with self-discovery. It was her highlights. She had one fine dye job. But the buck stopped there.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Some valuable lessons learned! I am not the person who takes the leap without doing the work. I’m usually guilty of the opposite: Doing all the work and still not taking the leap. Triathlons are humbling for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Very thought-provoking post, Laurie! I like your bottom line, but would add that the only person we can and should emulate is Christ. Imitating anyone else only fractures who we are. And it sounds like you’re an ambivert. That’s the person who can be both extroverted and introverted–falling in the middle of the continuum. It’s a great place to land and I think indicates a well-adjusted person.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Beth! So true. I like that thought – Christ is the person we all should model our lives after. I definitely am an ambivert. Thanks for teaching me a new word today!

      Like

  10. Thanks for the insight and the reminder of why I won’t try a triathlon! I stick to biking on rail trails, the thought of biking on the road scares me! Not to mention I’ll choose running up a hill any day over biking up one.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So funny, we talked about extroverts & introverts while I was with my family. I am most definitely an introvert. My SIL said she is too, although I’ve never seen that. My brother felt he was — and I definitely do not see that! Then my SIL showed me a meme with a person in bed with a dog curled up on her. The caption was “introvert recharging station”. We had a good laugh over that.

    I enjoy small, intimate groups, but large groups not so much, even though I actually draw energy from crowds. Drawing energy from crowds is not the same thing as interacting with large groups of people, though, at least not to me. I do absolutely need time alone. Quiet time alone, in fact. For the most part, though, I’m pretty sure of myself and march to the beat of my own drummer. Some of my friends that enjoy more get togethers can’t understand that, but the truth is that’s what makes the world go round.

    Very interesting, thought provoking post — as usual, Laurie!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love the thought of curling up with a dog! That would definitely be recharging for me!

      I think I am more of an extrovert than my hubby, which often makes me the social director of the family. You seem to run often with friends. I love to see photos and read stories of you with your running buddies. I think you are somewhere on the spectrum of intorvert/extrovert just like me.

      Glad you liked the post, Judy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I actually rarely run with friends (regular training runs, that is). I like to run with people, but since a lot of my friends work 9 to 5 jobs, the only time they have to run is in the evening (well, of course there is morning). I don’t have to and I’d actually rather run by myself than meet up with them at what is my dinner hour.

        Trust me, I’m definitely an introvert. How you come through on the Web can be quite different than IRL.

        I can be ok with crowds, but then I’m “on”, and it’s really draining to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am the same as you, Judy. Since I am retired, I would rather run during the daylight hours. With the exception of Tuesday evening, I run by myself or with Bill other days.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Laurie, hi! i love the way you’ve separated permission and inspiration. truly, well, inspirational!

    permission is rigid and scary and leaves us feeling kinda slow. inspiration releases our creativity, joy, and all kinds of energizing possibilities.

    love this post, friend …

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Linda! Thank you for your very kind comment.

      When I first began writing this post, I didn’t really know where it was going to go. Then I thought about the difference between permission and inspiration. I believe I fanally said what I needed to say.

      Like

  13. Great post and I learned that I do miss being with people (but I also like a break) so I am more extravert than introvert. Pretty sure I could not have been a school principal without that quality. But being comfortable and accepting of who I am now is one I am learning. At 70 I am running out of time to compare…lol…so I won’t. I admit I used to be 100% people pleaser and have knocked this tendency on the head but it can still bounce back without me noticing.

    Like your words, they have made me think more. Connecting via blogging is good for that!

    Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is #ShareYourSnaps. I hope you will join in then too. Denyse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree…a principal needs to be able to relate to people. I used to be much more of a people-pleaser too. I am trying to work on that, but it’s hard to let it go. I have a post ready to go that I am afraid to post because it is about a controversial topic and I don’t want bloggers to be angry with me.

      Thank you for the opportunity to link up. I really enjoy your blog party. I have met such interesting people there!

      Like

  14. Such a cool and telling difference. Sometimes I wonder whether that example v person thing also happens along introvert/extrovert lines. Introverts tend to inspire by drawing you in where extroverts inspire by pushing the energy out…maybe? I have no idea…in fact, ignore me, I’m rambling lol… Oh, and wear the third earring – I’m now disappointed I let mine grow over about 30 years ago! (I had 2 in one ear & 1 in the other & when I started work in a bank it wasn’t the done thing…)

    Liked by 2 people

  15. It takes us a while to learn the difference between being inspired by someone and trying to imitate them. I am now inspired to wear an earring in my third hole. I also have two in one ear, but has been so long since I’ve worn that second one it has almost closed.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I loved this post Laurie – it’s so true that we can be inspired by others, but not necessarily have to take it all on ourselves. I have three holes in each ear and getting the 3rd one was very liberating (it took me meeting a woman who said she “didn’t want to die without getting her 3rd one done” for me to realize I wanted it enough to just go and do it). I’ve gone back to two holes these days + I have a daith piercing on one side that I love (https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/360147301450525330/) and I’ve also just discovered threaded earrings again after seeing this pic on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/360147301453847432/) I love the whole re-invention of how to wear them.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great job on the triathlon! First, second, or last, you still did it!!! I am a social introvert. πŸ™‚ While I like being alone, I also enjoy being with a group of people. However, anything more than 4-5 and I am not comfortable. The weird thing is that when I get together with family, there is more than that and I am fine. Weird. Oh and no bikini for me either.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I was dead last on the bike. I think family is different. There were 30+ of us at Thanksgiving and I had a ball! There is no way in the world I would inflict myself in a bikini on anyone! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I remember when I was younger I was the person who was chasing after being like the person who seemed to have it all together. I wasted so much time in the pursuit of something that I was never meant to have. I love that God created us uniquely and we each bring something to the world that is needed. That is what I chase after now. Being who God created me to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Imitation must be flattering but there must be a spark of individuality and sense of self at the core of any change. We must preserve and celebrate our own uniqueness even when inspired by others. Thanks for linking up to #globalblogging

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Wow! That’s a new way to look at it, Introvert and Extrovert. I’m mostly considering myself as an introvert, but i agree with your point of gaining some inspiration from extroverts from time to time. Inspiration not for becoming extrovert or outgoing, but how we can look at people differently and get something positive on every look at the person.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Very insightful post with a load of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. I had a very similar triathlon experience six years ago, only I didn’t even put air in the mountain bike tires. I had a great swim but stopped counting when 50 people passed me on the bike. I was able to pass a couple people on the run but I really got bit by the tri-bug. I thoroughly enjoy the training, camaraderie and sense of accomplishment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! My hubby put the air in my tires before I rode it to the end of the street and back. I would like to do another tri. I like to swim and run but I only bike on rail trails. Traffic near where I live is crazy and the road shoulders are narrow.

      Like

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