“NICE JACKET!” I was bent over my travel bag in the Portland Airport, putting away my raincoat from the train ride, and realized the loud voice was talking to me.
I looked at my sleeve to see what I was wearing. My Boston Marathon jacket. The one I rarely wear because I don’t like to draw attention to myself.
An older woman and her husband stood just behind me. I noticed he was wearing the black version with green stripes. “I like yours better,” I told him.
“Really?” she said. “I love that blue color. What year did you run Boston? Actually, that’s my jacket. He wears it all the time, though.”
She was probably ten years older than me and didn’t seem like a runner, especially one who had run Boston. She asked me what other races I had run, which one was my favorite, how fast I was, how many miles I logged each week, on and on and on. She was like an avalanche of questions and words, and I couldn’t catch my breath.
She went on to say she hardly ran, she was slow, she wanted to run more, and did I live in Portland? I managed to tell her I had just run the Eugene half marathon and was flying home to Dallas.
“Oh! SO ARE WE!” Her husband grinned and remained silent. He hadn’t said a word the entire time.
I vowed not to sit next to them on the plane.
I didn’t see them again until we boarded. We flew Southwest Airlines, and I was in the last group to board. I grabbed a middle seat fairly close to the front of the plane, next to an elderly woman who looked confused when I asked if I could sit in the empty seat next to her. She made a feeble attempt to get up, decided against it, and gruffly said, “Slide across.”
I smiled at the talking woman and her husband as they passed on their way to the back of the plane.
I wasn’t being rude; I just wanted to read my Kindle and maybe sleep a little on the plane. I needed some time to think about the past week, the race in Eugene, and the time spent with my daughter. I wouldn’t see her again until her wedding in July.
There was a brief layover in Kansas City, and before we landed an announcement was made asking “the couple celebrating their thirty-seventh wedding anniversary” to please see one of the flight attendants before they left.
Thirty-seven years of marriage? Impressive.
When the plane landed, a flight attendant carried back a bottle of champagne to the couple celebrating their anniversary. Most of the people disembarked, and the passengers continuing on to Dallas moved up to the front of the plane. I slid over to the window seat and looked forward to stretching my legs and using the restroom before the plane reloaded.
The talking woman and her husband moved up and sat across the aisle from me. They were holding a bottle of champagne. They were the anniversary couple.
The elderly woman sitting next to me went to use the restroom. The talking woman and her husband asked if I would watch their things while they went to use the restroom as well. I said, sure, even though I needed to go myself. Surely there would be enough time before the next group of passengers boarded the plane.
I kept looking back at the restroom. Unfortunately for me it was a very quick turnover, and the first passengers made their way onto the plane before they returned.
The plane began filling up and the three travelers still weren’t back from the restroom. Person after person tried to sit in the aisle seat next to me, until I finally put the elderly woman’s travel bag in the seat. Over and over people asked who was sitting in the seats across the aisle. Again and again I had to explain that the seats were taken, the occupants were in the restroom.
It was stressful. I repeatedly got an irritated scowl when I told someone the seats were already taken. People looked at me as if I wasn’t telling the truth, as if I was somehow cheating or breaking the rules. The man behind me laughed and said, “You’ve got a tough job!” How did I get this job anyway???
Finally, the plane was full, and the three passengers came back to claim their seats, oblivious to the stir their empty seats caused. The woman next to me asked why her bag was in her seat, and I patiently explained that I put it there because people kept trying to sit in her seat. She smirked but didn’t thank me.
The talking woman and her husband settled in and immediately started up a conversation with the young businessman next to them. He had earlier asked me who was sitting in their seats, and frowned when I told him they were taken, as if it was my fault his business partner couldn’t sit next to him.
I never made it to the restroom during the flight. I was too worn out from saving the three seats to squeeze past the two pairs of legs next to me. I was ready to be home.
Just before we landed I saw the young businessman looking at the label on the bottle of champagne, discussing it with the talking woman and her husband. I watched them from my seat, thinking what a nice thing it was that the flight attendants had given them a gift for their anniversary.
And then, incredulously, I watched as the young businessman stood up and walked off the plane with the bottle of champagne still in hand.
I hadn’t expected or wanted that bottle of champagne until it was given away. The young businessman had done nothing other than sit next to the talking woman and her husband–and he walked away with an unearned prize.
Which is exactly why I didn’t deserve the bottle of champagne.
Instant karma. If I couldn’t do a good deed without the expectation of getting something out of it, especially from someone I found irritating and a bit of a nuisance, then I certainly didn’t deserve to be rewarded.
Even if the reward was an expensive bottle of champagne.
I have always felt that there is who I am, and who I was meant to be. – steadily skipping stones
Earlier this month, averageinsuburbia wrote a compelling blog post about life and happiness: Who Said Life Was Supposed To Be Happy? That led to my friend over at steadily skipping stones writing her own follow-up happiness post entitled: Is Life Supposed To Be Happy? Both blog writers often challenge my ideas and cause me to think deeper about certain issues. Skipping stones’ quote above made me pause at the time, and all weekend I thought about identity and acceptance.
Averageinsuburbia’s original question (who said life was supposed to be happy?) caused me to nod my head in agreement, mainly because anytime someone uses the words “supposed to” there’s a part of me that immediately wants to do the opposite. Perhaps it’s my inner rebel, or all those years of having to keep to a rigid schedule as a elementary school teacher, but I have to agree with the thoughts behind the question.
Of course everyone would like their lives to be happy ones, but a lot of times they aren’t. I think the tough times are important, and teach us to appreciate happiness when it does appear. Some of the strongest, smartest, most interesting people I know are the ones who’ve had to overcome huge obstacles in their lives, especially when they were children or young adults.
And, besides, what is happiness? Safety? Comfort? Satisfaction? Not worrying? I don’t know if it’s possible to be truly happy all the time.
After a lifetime of wanting, wondering, and striving to be happy, I think for me it’s nothing more than acceptance of what is. It means not fighting the things I can’t change. It sounds simplistic, but I really believe it comes down to that.
So what does this have to do with who I am versus who I was meant to be?
When I was fifteen, on the cusp of adulthood, I remember struggling with who I was. I spent hours each night scribbling in my journal, knowing I was just a few years away from independence. My life could take off in any number of directions. I couldn’t wait. I had so many dreams for the future, but I was also shy and nerdy, and didn’t know which parts of my personality and interests were the real me.
At fifteen, I really didn’t know who I was. But now, looking back, I haven’t changed all that much, even though I think I know myself well. Is there a core part of each person that never changes, even though the circumstances of our lives do?
A few weekends ago Michael and I worked a water stop at a local race. I was having fun, being silly with my friends and the runners, and enjoying the day. Michael said to me later, “See, that’s the real you, the one who’s extroverted and having fun and not worrying about anything.” He never believes me when I tell him I’m an introvert and not comfortable at parties or in large crowds.
His whole idea of a “real” me is bothersome. I like to think that the quiet me can co-exist with the outgoing goofball me, that they can be two sides of the same coin. Why does the real me have to be outgoing and fun, not quiet and introspective? Why is one more real than the other?
To me, thinking there’s a person you were meant to be, someone other than who you really are, displays a certain dissatisfaction, a yearning for something you consider to be better. I’ve never met steadily skipping stones, but I know I would like her if we ever met in person. From her thoughtful, insightful blog posts I can tell she’s smart, caring, honest, earnest, introspective, and not afraid to ask the big questions. She’s a great person, and the fact that she struggles to be something beyond who she is speaks volumes about how much she cares.
But it also makes me sad because I happen to like who she is, and hate that she feels she was meant to be anything more than who she already is.
If the person you were meant to be means you should be doing great things with your life, do those peripheral actions make you a better person? If who you are is measured by what you do, are you a lesser person if you’re satisfied with your life and your actions? Should you always be striving to be a better person? Who determines what is “better?”
This is a slippery slope indeed. I’ve always ascribed to the idea that actions are stronger than words. I once loved someone who would tell me twenty times a day how much he loved me, but did things that showed me otherwise. I told him his words were meaningless. I’d rather have someone treat me with care and kindness and never declare his love. I need something I can hold onto, and sometimes words just don’t cut it.
He was a good person, but I expected more than he expected from himself. I knew I couldn’t change him, or force him to be a better partner, and I ended the relationship. The problem was mine because I couldn’t accept who he was. It wasn’t enough for me. I only saw who he was meant to be–but it was my idea of “meant to be,” not his.
Kind of like he was “supposed to” be a certain way with me.
So I’m a hypocrite. I’m not always satisfied with who I am. I want to be a better person. I want to be more patient, more optimistic, more accepting. I’m still working on it. I think most people are doing the same.
But I honestly don’t know if there’s a person I was meant to be or not. With all apologies to Hamlet’s soliloquy, is it better to just be, or to strive for more?
What do you think? Do you think there’s a person you were meant to be?
Taped to the bottom edge of my computer is a small, green post-it note that says acceptance. It was written by me in black permanent ink, a reminder to myself for weeks like this.
It wasn’t a particularly bad week, but it was a frustrating one. For some reason I didn’t sleep well all week, and and I woke up several times each night from bizarre, vivid dreams. It made me feel tired during the day, and I didn’t have any motivation. Everything seemed to take so much effort, and I questioned if anything was even worth it.
So I sat at my desk and watched the eagle cam on one monitor, and stared at the word acceptance on the other.
Those who know me have always commented on how cheerful and happy I am (though those who really know me know that isn’t always the case). I know how to put on a good face in public and muddle through without doing too much damage. But sometimes it’s hard to break through the wall of gloom.
Oftentimes when I struggle with a situation, I ask myself: what advice would I give someone else in the same predicament?
I would tell them to stop beating themselves up for feeling less than their usual selves, that this is just the way things are today. It’s not the end of the world, nothing bad has happened, and everyone gets a little down in the dumps.
Everything changes, even bad moods.
And it did. I did some yoga and worked in the garden, settled down with a good book and listened to music, spent time working in the garden, and remembered all the good things in my life (and, yes, there are many things to be thankful for). The fog lifted, I focused on other things, and I realized I felt better.
It’s so difficult to accept things without trying to change them. Certainly there are things in life that are unacceptable and need to be changed, but the more mundane things in my life–like a bad mood–can sometimes be the toughest to shake. I spend so much energy fighting stupid things like this, and it’s senseless.
It’s like beating your head against the wall–or fighting acceptance, once again.
Last week I wrote a post in my running blog about how other runners judge each other and what constitutes a “real” runner. In reference to my post, a friend told me about a comment one of her friends made when they were wearing their bathing suits. This “friend” felt it was okay to make a comment about her being both “skinny” and having “so much” cellulite on her thighs. My friend is a tall, gorgeous mother of three who is faster than a lot of the men I run with. She just laughed and said nobody’s perfect.
This made me wonder: why do some people think it’s okay to make comments about a woman’s weight if the woman is thin?
I’m one of those women who have never had to worry much about their weight. I run, still seem to have a fairly high metabolism, and can generally eat what I want within reason. I’ve never been anorexic or bulimic, and until I had my first child it was always a struggle to put on weight. When women ask how I stay so slim, I tell them I run a lot, that I’ve always been on the thin side, and that it must be genetic. They almost always make a comment about how lucky I am.
There is a flip side to all of this, however.
When I was little girl I was an extremely picky eater. I turned my nose up at all sorts of “yucky” foods. I loved meat, but hated hamburgers. I didn’t even like chocolate milk or chocolate ice cream (still don’t). I was allergic to milk when I was born (breastfeeding was actually frowned upon), and was fed goat’s milk instead. Maybe that’s where it all started.
I can’t remember a time when other kids didn’t make fun of me, especially in elementary school. Toothpick, Skinny, String Bean, and Olive Oyl were the most frequent names I heard, and Turnip was said a lot because of my last name. Adults didn’t make fun of me, but they made comments nevertheless. My grandmother made it her mission to fatten me up with chicken and dumplings and half and half. I don’t remember being necessarily bothered by the name calling, unless someone was being purposely mean. I guess I got used to it after awhile. I remember calling one of my friends Tomato Potato all through grade school, and he hated it, so I was just as bad as the others.
I spent most of my time outside, riding my bike, roller skating, hitting a tennis ball against the house, playing badminton with my sister, and running around the backyard setting up pretend Olympic competitions. Whatever calories I took in were quickly consumed by physical activity.
I had a hard time finding pants that fit, even in slim sizes at Sears, and my mom always had to bunch up the material at the waist and sew it together. Sometimes I just used a big safety pin on the sides. My junior high school drill team outfit had to be sent back twice because the person doing the alterations didn’t believe my measurements were correct. Even my top hat had to be made smaller.
In high school I was painfully aware that I was a late bloomer, but I had a circle of friends who were kind of geeky and accepting of my thinness. I was jealous of the other girls and their womanly curves. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I finally filled out a little and acquired some of those curves, especially hips. A chocolate chip cookie binge one Christmas vacation at 30 was my first realization that I couldn’t eat cookie after cookie without consequences.
Even though I’m not short, I’m small boned, and a few extra pounds on a small frame really show. There have been times I’ve changed my diet to eat healthier, but I’ve never had to diet for longer than a few days to lose a couple of unwanted pounds. The older I get, the more I do have to watch what I eat, however, and I have a wicked sweet tooth. I live for carbs.
When I started running six years ago I did lose a little weight at first, but mostly I toned up. I ate more to accommodate for the lost calories, but I also ate healthier. When a teacher colleague saw me for the first time in a year after I began running, she told me I was “too thin” and that I looked “unhealthy.” In my opinion she was overweight, but I didn’t tell her that. I told her I was running a lot, ate like a horse, and was healthy.
I was amazed that she didn’t think twice about sharing what she thought, but also knew she would never tell someone they were too heavy, no matter how “unhealthy” they looked to her. Her lack of tact didn’t really bother me, but it did make me wonder why she thought it was acceptable to be so blunt with someone about their weight.
It’s almost as if it’s okay to call someone skinny and make comments about it because, well, they’re skinny and that’s what’s accepted–even envied–in our society.
My daughter was once brought to tears by a high school teacher who asked if she was anorexic–right in the middle of a lesson. She’s shorter and smaller than me, and has always had a hearty appetite. He felt horrible when he made her cry, but why did his concern outweigh the embarrassment it caused?
I love watching The Biggest Loser, despite all the drama. I love the moment when the light bulb comes on in each of the contestants’ heads and they break through the wall that’s been holding them back, the moment when they give up all their excuses, let go of all the pain and hurt and things from the past that are holding them back, and allow themselves to be healthier, stronger, and happier. When you do something you’ve never thought possible, then the true person you are is able to emerge. Seeing that transformation in others is always inspiring to me.
Even though I’ve never had to lose a lot of weight to experience that moment, I think I know what it feels like through running. After I ran my first half marathon, which is something I never thought I could do, I was euphoric for days afterwards. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done up to that point, and for the first time in my life I knew that anything was possible. I knew that I had the strength to do anything I set my mind to.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to eat very little, exercise regularly, and still not lose weight. I have friends who eat like little birds, and they struggle week after week to lose weight. Some have struggled with weight loss their entire lives. Some have been made fun of and treated disrespectfully in ways I’ve never had to deal with.
Whatever package we come in, the journey remains the same for all of us. It’s easy to say be happy in your own skin, but not so easy to pull off, especially when others can be quick to point out things you already know about the way you look.
Let’s all start looking a little deeper.
As someone who runs marathons, I know that running is 98% mental. If I’ve trained consistently and put in the miles, the body knows what to do. If any obstacles arise, either during training or the last miles of a race, I’m almost always assured that it’s my mind getting in the way. This holds true for everyday life as well. I’m ready to turn these obstacles into words and take the sting out of them.
I noticed last year that certain things kept coming up in my writing, words that I wrote over and over. Probably the most frequent thing that came to the forefront was the idea of acceptance, especially acceptance of things as they are, not as I want them to be. This is also tied in with no control, awareness, and not judging. I went through a short phase where I tried to meditate every day after yoga, and those three concepts kept coming up each day. The actual words would appear in front of my eyes out of the darkness, unbidden and nagging, since I was trying to clear my mind. Eventually, when I got up to 20 minutes of meditation and it became harder to focus for so long, I turned them into a mantra, saying the concepts aloud in my head on each out breath. Acceptance . . . awareness . . . not judging . . . no control . . .
We all know how our minds can mess with us, how we can turn the smallest obstacle into something huge. I have a memory from childhood that stands out as a symbol of the word FEAR. My family had gone to Six Flags and we were high above the ground on a wooden deck in the trees. To get to the other side we had to walk over a suspended bridge. I remember being petrified of walking across that swaying, unstable bridge, and I refused. I threw a hysterical fit. I don’t even remember what it was that scared me, because I’ve never been afraid of heights. In the end, I think my dad had to take me down a spiral tree slide to get back to the ground below.
I still don’t like bridges that bounce, but not to the extent I did as a child, when irrational fears are somewhat more acceptable. Nowadays my fears tend to be more based on something that could happen, which might be the silliest fears of all. For instance, a few months ago Michael and I spent a day in Ft. Worth filming the race course for the Cowtown Marathon. Michael wanted to get some footage of downtown Ft. Worth, so we drove to the Trinity River levee and parked the car. Michael lugged the camera equipment to the top of the levee to film. I had visions of dead bodies in the river and gangs of homeless people attacking him. In the meantime, I sat alone in the car, in an empty parking lot behind a ballpark, watching some construction nearby. As a woman, I was afraid. I felt out of place and alone, like I shouldn’t be there, and was convinced someone would show up and hassle me.
Of course nothing happened. The construction guys didn’t pay me the slightest bit of attention and Michael didn’t see one single dead body or dangerous homeless person on the levee. It was the fear of what could have happened that caused more stress than anything that did–or didn’t–happen.
Last year I had a lot of lessons on acceptance, one of them due to training through an extremely hot summer. In the end, I had no choice but to accept I had no control over the weather. Either I accepted it, and ran anyway, or I got angry and stayed home. My training was therefore inconsistent and led to two nagging injuries. I’m sure I still have more lessons on acceptance headed my way, but at least now I recognize it when it shows up.
This year’s obstacle to be turned into a word is fear. I never would have called myself a fearful person in the past, but I think in many ways I am. I don’t like being pushed out of my comfort zone, and prefer to dip one toe in slowly until I get used to a situation. In a more literal sense, I’ve never been one of those people who runs screaming into a cold body of water. I go in slowly, inch by inch, at my own speed. I’m going to work more on being a screaming jumper, not letting fear hold me back.
I’m ready to turn these mental obstacles into nothing more than words. By doing so, I think I take away some of their power. Words can be turned off, left unspoken and therefore unacknowledged. As long as the concepts take up space in my head, in the form of obstacles, they can do damage. If I turn them into words only, with no experiences to back them up, they remain meaningless.
My first thought when I got out of the car was, I failed miserably. Again.
I’m a glass half empty kind of person. It seems to be my natural inclination. I’m not sure why, and I read an article once that stated people are generally either more optimistic, by nature, or tend to be more pessimistic. I seem to be the latter. And I’m trying to change that.
This past summer was the hottest on record here in Texas. I’m a runner, and every single run for three straight months was miserable. I complained. I whined. I moaned. I was negative. And then I always felt guilty for not being more positive and upbeat around other people on our runs.
That was the kind of run I had today–again. It finally cooled off a little, but it was extremely humid and we ran 16 miles. It seemed like we were always running uphill. And it seemed like all I could do was complain about it.
I tried to be positive and give a celebratory little yeah! when we ran down a small hill. But then we ran right back up another hill and my mood grew sour. I tried to keep it in as best I could, but I think I failed. All summer I’ve been aware that I’m complaining so much, and that puts me in a bad mood.
I’m not always negative. I was actually a very positive teacher, and was pretty good at motivating kids to learn (at least I hope I was). I’m also usually very optimistic about life in general, and I’m happy most of the time. It’s the little things that seem to cause my downfall.
Like the weather. Or people who don’t know how to drive. And stress always brings out my inner grouch.
I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort not to be negative. I don’t want to be phony about it and pretend things are other than they are, or gloss things over just to put a positive spin on them. I merely want to try and see the positives first, and not dwell on the negatives so much. There are times I can be cynical, or suspicious, and I always reserve the right to suspend belief when people tell me things. Part of this is a protection device, and goes back to keeping my walls up so people don’t get too close.
I tried to read a book once about people who made a promise not to complain. They wore a little rubber bracelet, and anytime they complained about something they had to move the bracelet to the other arm. The goal was to not move the bracelet, which meant not complaining for an entire month, and then trying to extend the complaint-free time for longer and longer. I never sent off for the bracelet because I knew I would fail. It seems somewhat inauthentic, to hold in feelings just to remain positive all the time. What if the complaints are valid? What if they’re the truth!
Someone once told me I was the most honest person he knew. I didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not, but I’d rather be called honest than dishonest, and sometimes I think glossing over the truth just to be positive is dishonest. I do know I can be bluntly honest–which could come across as being negative sometimes–but I try not to hurt others with that honesty, though I’m sure there are times that I do.
I have to wonder if others struggle with being positive as much as I seem to. Our modern life with all its pressures makes it tough for us to remain cheery. For me, I think it goes back to my struggle to accept things as they are, and not as I want them to be (as I wrote about in an earlier post this summer). Maybe it’s merely just another judgment I’m placing on whatever it is that bothers me. Perhaps–no, probably–rather than complain and say anything at all, I just need to learn to keep my big mouth shut.
Even if I don’t truly accept the situation, or my negative feelings, or the disappointment, not saying anything at all doesn’t have to mean I’m lying to myself if I don’t voice my complaint. It just means I can acknowledge it to myself, give it no value, then move on from it. And if I look a little deeper, I think it all truly begins at my disappointment with whatever has happened, so maybe disappointment is the trigger. Disappointment, and maybe not being able to control what is happening.
I think the key is to work on trying to see the positive first, acknowledging the negative thought, then moving on. Let it go. Adios, amigo.
Will I ever be a full glass kind of person? Doubtful. Can I at least work on half a glass full? I think so. What would that person look like, what would she sound like? Ah, well, all I can do is keep plugging away, and not let things get to me so much. Everything changes, including my bad moods, the weather, and half empty glasses.
And that’s what makes life interesting.
I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who has recently separated from his wife. I listened as he talked about all the changes he was going through, and what impact the divorce would have on his young son, and we discussed the possibility of a reconciliation. Eventually it got late, and as the conversation began to wind down I told him, things will work out in the end. Without skipping a beat, he looked at me and said, or they won’t.
He continued. I’m sure the man on death row walking to his execution would like to think that things will work out for him, too–but they don’t.
It stunned me. He was right, of course. Things don’t always work out.
Since that conversation, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about things not working out. I even had a dream the other night about a tiger stalking me. In the dream, I was confident that the tiger wouldn’t harm me, but as it came nearer, and I touched the fur on his head, I said aloud, things might not work out this time. Then I woke up.
We want things to work out. I just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, one of the best books I’ve ever read, which is a triumphant celebration of the life of a man who never gave up on things working out. All around him, surrounded day after day by the horrors of war and inhumanity, he unceasingly saw things not working out for others, yet never gave up hope that things would work out for himself.
Like most of us, I try to be as positive as I can when things don’t work out the way I want them to. I tell myself it happened for a reason, or something good will come of this, or there’s a lesson to be learned here. I’m sure you have your own personal spin for dealing with personal disappointments.
I think it comes down to expectations vs. acceptance. If I have expectations about something happening and it doesn’t, I have a much tougher time accepting the result. If I have no expectations from the outset, my acceptance of things not working out is much easier.
A few months ago I read Loving What Is by Byron Katie. Her message is that we are all basically slaves to our thinking, and our thoughts are not real. We need to look at things as they are and not what we tell ourselves they are. She calls it “meeting reality as it is.” It sounds so basic and easy, but I for one know that I can over-think and over-analyze the smallest thing until it becomes my own personal Mt. Everest of suffering.
Maybe always putting a positive spin on things can be just as illusory and harmful as always being negative. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an entire book on the subject, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. Perhaps it’s healthier for us if we give up the expectation of a certain outcome right from the start, and not delude ourselves about what could or should happen.
The point I’m trying to make is this: maybe things work out, maybe they don’t, but perhaps what’s most important is learning to accept whatever does happen. You can spin the story anyway you want, you can get angry, tell yourself it isn’t true and live in denial, or bury your pain someplace deep within where no one can find it, but ultimately you can’t change the reality of what’s happened.
Through acceptance of what is, perhaps we’re more able to move closer to the truth.
(Tiger photo credit: Hollingsworth, John and Karen (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)