“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus
I like sweet potato and coconut oil. Good coffee. Omelettes. Malva pudding. French toast with vanilla custard. Peonies. Long-stemmed red roses. Good music. Rainbows. Kittens. Wind & rain while standing on the edge of a cliff. Moonrise. Sunrise. Scuba diving. Red wine. Sleep, and waking up with the sun on my face. Being fully healthy. Friends. Laughter. Love. Cape Town. Boston. San Francisco. Tokyo. Hoi An. Vermont.
But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is when it comes to people, I like something very specific. I like people who are strong emotionally, intelligent, and who don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk.
- We might disagree; in fact that’s a very good thing but at the end of the day we can agree to disagree, and we can respect each other’s points of view.
- You’re confident, but not arrogant.
- You can win an argument with grace.
- You can lose an argument with grace.
- You can change your mind, and admit that you were wrong. When you are wrong, you fully admit it and take responsibility.
- We might have different priorities, but if you are taking care of what’s top priority to you (and that’s not reflecting any extreme negative externalities) then we’re cool.
- You’re not clingy.
- You’re definitely not whiny. This is a weird one because I tend to whine, but it’s usually not sincere, just more a way to make light of a situation or hear myself talk.
- You’re thoughtful and insightful. You are capable of talking about training. Or philosophy. Or politics, even if at the end of the day you do have one overriding passion.
- You care about something, anything, that’s not just yourself or your physical existence or that of your family and loved ones.
- You’re genuine, and honest, at least most of the time.
- You’re strong and brave, and call me out when I need to be called out.
- You can take as well as you can give.
- You can accept a compliment (or a gift), and you never give a compliment you don’t mean, or a gift out of mere obligation.
- You’re kind.
- You’re genuine.
- You make me smile, because you’re pretty much always smiling.
- If you see a problem and it bothers you, you fix it rather than waiting for someone else to fix it or complaining that it’s not fixed.
- If you encounter an obstacle, you make a plan. You don’t just stand around waiting for someone else to fix the problem.
- You form your own opinion and don’t let anyone else tell you how to think.
- You give advice lovingly, without judgement.
You can tell a lot about a person by their friends. I think that my closest friends have a lot of the qualities above. Nobody’s perfect, and as I’m fond of saying and thinking recently, it’s all relative, in that what I like isn’t necessarily what someone else likes, and even what I like changes over time.
Fundamentally, while there are times and places where I’m happy to be led, I generally don’t want to be led. While there are times and places where I want people to follow, for heaven’s sake I want to them to follow and not to have to check up on them every 3 minutes like lost sheep. Mainly, I want people to walk along side me as equals, even if that means in some situations I’m telling them what to do and in others they are telling me what to do. A give and take.
I think this is why I prefer cats to dogs. Cats are chilled, and can do their own thing. Dogs, on the other hand, are incredibly needy.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about health, and specifically healthy eating. Something about me causes people to confide in me (maybe that I can keep a secret – something I should probably add to the list above!). It turns out I know a lot of people who have had eating disorders, and a lot more people who struggle with body image issues. In fact, maybe everyone has body image issues of one sort or another. Or maybe you have a great body but you wish you were taller. Or shorter. Or were better looking. There’s always something lacking, no?
I was just telling someone a few days ago in an email how I have been relatively happy with my body for the last, oh, year or so. But now that I accidentally lost a bunch of weight at the beginning of this year with my detox diet, I look at photos of myself from December in something akin to horror. If I wake up in the morning and my arms aren’t as defined or I can’t see the blocks on my abs as well as usual, I go into a momentary fright before recovering my composure.
I plan to go on a diet to lose some extra weight before Regionals. After all, I now know exactly what to do to lose body fat quite quickly without compromising muscle or performance. Just eat less meat and more fish & eggs, and cut the nuts & high starch. Easy enough, and a clear difference between a diet for a purpose, and a lifestyle I can maintain forever. I mean, a life without sweet potatoes is hardly worth living, right? But when I tell people this they tend to look at me a bit askance … like ‘Really? You don’t actually need to lose any weight, Ellie.’ And I have been respondnig by saying that if I have to do 100 pullups, 1 extra kg is 100 extra kgs I have to haul over that pullup bar. And it’s true. But is that the reason, or the rationalisation?
There is an eating disorder called orthorexia (ok I guess it’s not a clinically-approved term yet, but whatever). This refers to an obsession with eating healthy food, and becoming quite upset at eating anything that you don’t consider to be healthy. I would say, at this point, I have a touch of this. Happily, I love eating so I eat large quantities of the stuff I do consider to be healthy. But nonetheless, I sometimes concern myself.
However, it’s an odd thing. I suppose we all beat ourselves up over something. One friend decides to go off smoking cold turkey, and lasts about two days, then feels bouts of guilt. Another goes full paleo for a while, takes a weekend off and berates herself. It’s a strange thing, it’s not like you get some award for being ‘perfect’ or anything like that, but there is a tendency on the flip side to berate ourselves for not being perfect. For not looking like the models in the magazines.
And then I read this last night and now I’m not even sure what to think. Except that nothing changes. And you can eat ‘paleo’ and still gain weight, if you eat too many of the wrong calories (duh). It’s a tool, like anything else.
Back to the whole diet thing … for me, I’ve now learned how crap I feel if I don’t eat strict paleo, and that’s the biggest reason to do it. But also your perspective changes, as I was saying a few posts ago. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine going two weeks without drinking. It’s now been three months. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t recognise myself.
That’s one of the reasons I made that list. I’ll be curious to revisit this list in a year, or five, or ten, to see how what I find important in my relationships changes over time.
What else is new? My body is needing a rest, which I absolutely hate. In fact it makes me want to cry a little bit with frustration because I want to train with the team this week … but if I know anything right now, it’s that that is not a good idea. So, I’m resting. And since you can’t heal & rest at the same time, my rest cycle isn’t starting until I wake up in the morning and feel like training. Which didn’t happen this morning.
Self-control. Damn it sucks. Yeah, yeah, my life is so hard, boo hoo (well everyone knows I’m a princess!).