Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Ever asked a kid who they are? Aside from the standard response of their name, you will also get a variety of responses being “My name is (insert name here) and...

“I can tie my shoes!”

“I can go pee-pee on the potty!”

“I have Spiderman shoes!”

“I am a cub scout!”

“I am four years old!”

Ask a teen to young adult and the response also expands beyond the name.

“Oh that is Brittany, she is a cheerleader!”

“My name is Doug, I am captain of the football team!”

“That is Jill, she is valedictorian!”

“Yeah, I think I have heard of him, he goes to Ohio State.”

“Doesn’t she own the blue Mercedes?”

As Adults:

“Wow, you are having lunch with him? Isn’t he the bank president?”

“That’s Darlene. She has twins and is married to the famous baseball player.”

“Don’t you know who I am, I could own you!!”

“How can I go to jail? It will ruin my reputation!”

“They are nothing. They don’t even have a full membership to the club.”

As we age:

“That is my son. He is the City commissioner.”

“I am the ex-CEO of such-and-such industries.”

“I am grandpa to seven wonderful kids.”

I guess I reflect upon this as I pondered for a moment on asking myself: “Who am I?”

I often times find myself trying to make this personal reconciliation when something changes in my life. At times it is also when I am trying to become okay with the fact of where I may presently be in my own personal timeline. Maybe I should be somewhere else. Maybe someONE else. Is what I am doing a good testimony to who I am supposed to be? My identity. What is this thing called identity anyhow? Why is it our name, our identity has to have some sort of subscript attached to it?

As I started to dig a bit deeper, I started to realize that for me to get to the bottom of my query I had to do a couple things. One was to separate my circumstances from what I call my identity. I quickly learned that I am not what my circumstances dictate. The most hurtful thing we can do is to attach our circumstances to a personal opinion of ourselves. Often these labels occur in crises such as financial difficulty, relationship squabbles, affliction and addiction, loss of property, separation from groups or people we care for.

In the past I would attach a negative label upon myself due to the addition or subtraction of one of the above mention categories. Who I am, the me deep inside does not have to change because of an endeavor, poor choice, good choice, or circumstance I found myself in. Bad circumstances do not make me a bad person any more than going to a football game makes me a quarterback.

So it stands, I am not what I do.

I also realize that things can come and go. In these recent economic times, many have been humbled by the realization that nothing, especially toys and money last forever. Sometimes one of life’s best lessons can be to lose some-things we worship. I realize that if I used to drive a Mercedes, and now drive a Chevy compact, I am no less a person. Should one think this to the contrary, explain to me how you may justify one’s “human stock” dropping after a hurricane because their belongings are destroyed. It doesn’t. Often their best assets surface.

I am not what I have.

I have time on my hands. I write a lot. I also get time to play. I do not have the time to try to manipulate nor adapt to what others think of me. I can live the life I believe I am supposed to. I can try to live on the greater side of good. I seek compassion and connection. If you don’t find any favor in that. So be it. I don’t have time to try to make you like me. Does my worth really grow if you do? I would rather be alone for the right reasons, than famous for the wrong ones.

I am not what others think of me.

In deep contemplation of “who I am”, I find it hard to explain. The moment I try to explain it, I label myself. Am I a Dad, husband, business owner, swell guy, martial artist, reiki practitioner, and foodie? Yes– by activity or practice, but it is who I am inside that allows me to connect to those things collectively. Who I am makes me seek them out, or try to be the best at those things, and yet, if those things change, who I am necessarily may not.

I find “who I am” is found in the space between. My identity goes beyond my name which was given to me without my consent (not that I dislike it). My identity is not tainted by opinions including my own. It is the music without sound and the light yet without luminescence. It is ethereal, nebulous, and spiritual. It is the part of me that doesn’t need a compass to know where my true North is.

Who I am is the part of me that I would be with no one around. It is the part of me who I would want to share with my most cherished loved ones. It is the me I long for, when who I “think” I am or should be is most present in the room. It is who I know I want to be. It is who I am okay with.

The “I” I seek is where I find peace. It is where I know. Where things seem correct. Struggle stops. No outside appreciation is necessary. It is from that peace and awareness I become most radiant, and therefore I end up becoming what my ego most often wanted me to become, just now with the substance to back it, but the humility to not need the adoration. I am a sum of my experiences. I am the recipe of myself that has no ingredients. Empty yet full.

I guess what I have found is that no matter the onslaught, and inversely the joys, I am still the same being. I am I.

I am not a title, hood ornament, number on a W-2, position, label on clothing, your opinion or mine, I am who I am supposed to be, and for once I really, really feel okay with that. No matter what I gain – I am the same guy. No matter what I lose – I am the same guy. If you love me – I am the same guy. If you hate me – I don’t care.

If you ask me who I am, my name is Tony. My identity is not my name and the labels past and present that may be pinned to it. Who I am is somewhere inside, protected and flourishing. I hope the real “me” gets to meet the real “you” someday.

The name will have to do for now...
Repost from Artisan of the Human Spirit

Grasshopper Thoughts, Vol. I July 2010

Photo courtesy of
It's that time again. Time to clean out the great big barn of my brain and release some grasshopper thoughts. Today, for some reason, the tangent went off towards food related thoughts, so that's what I'm writing about.

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Bing images
I live in the southern United States - Tennessee, to be specific. There are a great many culinary delights that are unique to our region, with one of them being sweet tea. Jug or table wine is another term you'll hear. Sun tea is a slightly different version, but for the most part, we make sweet tea here. Very sweet tea. I'm not a huge fan of the super sweet taste, but the grasshopper thought here is that I learned a few years ago that outside of the southern U.S., tea is rarely sweet. Picture my reaction one of stunned surprise. Okay, I was more than stunned; perhaps I went beyond surprised stare to flat out goggle. I hadn't heard of this fact and it just surprised me. Most restaurants in the south offer both sweet and unsweetened tea, but I didn't know that outside of the southern states, tea is normally served unsweetened. How 'bout that.

*Photo courtesy of
This, then, led me onward to other food related grasshopper thoughts with the next one being cereal and the Great Soggy vs. Crunchy Debate. I cannot abide soggy cereal. I prefer it crunchy with ice cold milk. Soggy cereal looks like....well, I won't go into gory detail about what it looks like to my eyes. Suffice to say, it looks like something absolutely nasty and it tastes and feels just as bad. As in gag-inducing bad. I'm sure there are many of you out there who will disagree with me and wave the soggy cereal flag enthusiastically. There will remain a Great Divide between us, but a friendly one!

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Who made the decision that burnt cheese is a culinary error? No, no, no! That's the best part! Not burned to charcoal, mind you, but a nice golden, toasty cheesey crust...mmm, yes indeedy. This does not, however, apply to popcorn. Unless you're my Mom. She loves it. Just barely burnt microwave popcorn makes her a happy soul. Go figure.

Popsicle sticks - you know how most people almost hit the ceiling when they hear fingernails on a chalkboard? The sound of fingernails down a chalkboard doesn't bother me in the slightest. A popsicle stick hitting my teeth, however, well....let's just say it is highly unpleasant. It produces a repetitive wave of shudders similar to the timpani of a cymbal on the eardrum, only the waves are repeating on my teeth. I'm still a fan of popsicles, don't get me wrong. Banana flavor is my favorite. I just take care to keep the popsicle stick from hitting my teeth.

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Moving on to cosmetics, I have a particular aversion and peeve. It applies to lipstick or lip gloss w/ cheap candy scent/flavor. Some cosmetic companies - some of the very high end ones, in fact - use horrid candy flavors such a cotton candy, sugar, vanilla and wedding cake paired with equally horrid, fake scents. The combination can bring on an instant headache, and make people around you ask who brought cupcakes to work. At the very least, manufacturers could post one of those Surgeon General Warning labels on lipstick and lip glosses containing vile scents and flavors to alert the innocent consumers. If they have to slap flavor and scent into lipstick and lip gloss, I prefer it to not be one that fights with my whole immediate environment and my palate. Since it's my blog post and my version of my own mystical CosmeticLand, I arbitrarily declare that a minty flavor/scent rules the day. "Off w/ your head!" is the secondary declaration should you choose to dissent this mandate and slap those fake, cheap flavors and scents in cosmetics! Aren't you glad this is a mythical, mystical land?! Heads would be rolling left and right if it were real.

These are the grasshopper thoughts that consumed my mind for, oh...a good 2.83 seconds, I would guess. Writing it all down took longer, but it did open the barn in my brain and allowed the grasshoppers freedom for a wee bit. I have no idea what next month's grasshopper thought might be, so stay tuned!
*Disclaimer:  No monetary gain has been made from posting the cereal bowl above and mentioning the website where it can be purchased.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.