I’ve had an eventful life. But that doesn’t define me. When I was 11, I was told that I’m diabetic. A few months later, I had a stroke. I missed a lot of school. I was in a wheelchair, and I had lots of physical therapy. I’ve had surgery to correct problems with my leg. I’ve had car accidents. I’ve had horrible jobs. I’ve also had wonderful jobs, and I’ve had amazing opportunities. I have a wonderful family & awesome friends.
And none of those things define me. I am not “the girl who had a stroke.” I’m not “the girl in the wheelchair.” I’m not “a diabetic.” I’m not “that kid who went to Germany.” Nor am I “a woman with a degree” or “the lady who drives a PT Cruiser.” I’m not defined by those things; those events, those experiences, or those possessions.
What does define me? I am a teacher. I am a Christian. I'm a nature lover. I'm an animal lover. A book lover. A music lover. A writer. A singer. A cook. A moderate. A volunteer. I love thunder storms, coloring books, poems, stories, crosswords, taking naps, blowing bubbles, and chocolate. I love to give my cats catnip, then play laser tag with them. I laugh. I love my family, my friends, my students, my pets. I love to loll in bed and daydream. It makes me want to cry when I see how much time we spend hating each other rather than helping each other. I give money to beggars when I can. I smile at strangers I pass on the street.
I don’t bother with makeup or styling my hair. I say it’s because I’m lazy and I’d rather have the extra two minutes in bed than take the time to fuss. That’s part of it, of course. Really, though, it’s that I won’t let it define me. My appearance doesn’t identify me. I feel artificial if I spend too much time fussing. What I look like doesn’t define me; what I know defines me.
I might stay up until the wee hours reading. Or grading papers. Or planning lessons. Or finding activities to engage my students and make them enjoy learning. I might take a nap to make up for lost sleep. I might go to bed early. I am innately cheerful, even when I’m sad. This defines me.
I love Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, Nora Roberts, and Robert Frost. I am a rebel who wears mis-matching socks. I lived in England, and I loved it. I love flowers and trees and mountains. I seek opportunities to learn and experience. I am not the girl who had a stroke 19 years ago; I am the girl who was too stubborn and too defiant to let it defeat or define her. I am not, God damn it, defined by the events in my life.
What I choose defines me. How I spend my time. My thoughts. My loves. The time I spend playing with my cats, planning lessons, searching for answers, and praying. My sense of wonder when I look at the sky defines me. These things all define me.
I define me.