More Important than “Who Am I” is the Question “Who Am I Not”?

Dear Reader:

We have talked about the stress we feel when people reassure us to “Just be yourself” in a challenging situation. Growing up I always wondered how we could be ourselves if we didn’t know who ourselves were?

It has taken me a lifetime to get there, to know me…and I am still learning more about me every day… and will continue to do so until I take my last breath.  I have also discovered that the best way to get to know yourself better is to eliminate attributes and characteristics that don’t apply any more to the every-changing you.

It reminds me of mother’s advice when I was dating in high school and college. I would sigh and say something like… I was tired of dating “toads” – there seemed to be lot more “toads’ than “princes” out in the dating world. Mother would reassure me that every “toad” experience was helping me eliminate the type of person I didn’t want to be with…narrowing down the field to someone with similar values and outlooks on life that could be shared one day.

I think this is true in all facets of life…every hurtful, bad, scary, sad, humiliating experience we endure in life teaches us something new about ourselves and helps us eliminate, not only, the causes leading up to these negative experiences but also finding ways to detour around them through using different perspectives and attitudes. More importantly we learn how to rise above experiences we have no control over….leaving these in God’s arena.

Every circumstance does help us build character if we let it. We should never feel sorry for ourselves for failing at something. Failing is just another elimination lesson in self-discovery of success and our inner passions and contributions to the world.

I can honestly say that I am happier now than I have ever been…because I feel an inner joy that was not there under the stress of raising children, working, living month to month, worrying over mother’s dementia, etc. We certainly had our share of happiness, don’t get me wrong…I have scrapbooks of all these pictures…birthday, graduations, trophies, awards, family gatherings, holidays, etc.


In spite of health challenges today…I have the amazing luxury of time to think, read, garden, write to my heart’s content, be with friends and family….surrounded by love …God ‘s gift to me is one of life…living long enough to discover the constant joy in me when I see something beautiful, as in my garden and know that I simply must take a picture right then and there. Sheer joy!

Luke and I added “sound” to the garden today…cleaning out the fountain and turning on the motor again…it still works! Happiness! All my hostas returned again this year…:) Triple happiness! Remembering the moment I saw all this beauty… inner joy!

What I have discovered about happiness is that it is fleeting, at best, and terribly stressful… if tied to personal goals…because once you achieve whatever status you thought you wanted to obtain… to reach your ultimate happiness aim…it is time to “out-do” or “out-best” yourself and raise the bar higher and higher. (Exhausting and completely unfulfilling…with only slips of happiness in between.)

So these days I can eliminate the “toads” that deter me from finding fulfillment…”toads” concerned only with self-interest, greed, compliance with wrongdoings, judgmental bias, apathy and narrow-mindedness. It is only when we reach down deep and make our soul the one true compass that inner joy comes home to stay.

So until tomorrow…The most important thing we will rejoice over or regret at the end of our lives is relationships. Not money, goals, houses, cars… (possessions) but the relationships in our lives that brought us love and joy… that is where our last thoughts will dwell…the menagerie of moments and people who brought God’s love into our heart and soul.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Today Brooke is getting back some results on medical tests she had taken earlier…done on her left arm …that has really been bothering her…quite painful. Please keep Brooke in your prayers as she receives more information on the source behind her intense discomfort and reviews the options to correct it. Thank you!

As you can see…Brooke is one gal who has more unassuming joy in her than anyone I have ever known…now I want to see some relief for Brooke and that big smile back on her face.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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