Monday, February 8, 2016

Roots: Grandma N: Fresh Springtime, Senses of Comfort and the Simple Life

*This is part three of my Roots series*

(First pic: Grandma and I. Second pic: Grandma's mom and I.)

Travelling in my mind to Grandma N's home, a province away, I am transported back to a time when worries were few. Fresh childhood smells like her house; rose petals, bread, warm carpet, bound books, and burnt metal from an electrical Westinghouse furnace. I would sit in front of that silver box in her kitchen, with a chair pulled up right in front, on cold nights in my slippers and PJs breathing in the furnace's dusty heat. Sometimes older basements contain that musty "old" odour but grandma's house has a freshness I can't seem to replicate. Maybe it was her many plants? A tradition I am now carrying. After years of unsuccessful attempts at keeping greens alive, seventy-two plants now thrive in our home. I was inspired by Grandma. She sent succulents in the mail. In front of my home sits a beautiful wild rose bush that she sent to me after my miscarriage. I can still remember opening the brown paper at the mail office and being slightly confused as wet dirt in a plastic bag came out with a thorny stem. Her note with her scrawled handwriting, quick remarks and looped signature warmed my heart. All I have to see is my Grandma's handwriting and I feel more grounded. When the wild rose blooms in the summer, I walk out my front door and breathe in memories. The fragrant rose begets my grandmother's bubbly laugh. Last summer when I was quite sick I would sit beside that rose bush and feel the comfort that happens to me each time I walk into grandma's house.

My Grandmother has never been old to me. Perhaps it's her spry energy that surpasses my own? I can only assume (after watering all her plants) that the two hours of lifting the watering pot and weeding out the nasties has kept her trim. Or maybe her youth comes from the fact that she sees movies like Star Wars or The Hunger Games before we do? Amidst the classics in her library are Lemony Snickets, Harry Potter, and all the new popular choices. I love talking with grandma because we can talk about all the current shows and books. We can nerd out on everything I am passionate about. She thinks I am quirky but secretly, I think that aspect of my persona I inherited from her.

Grandma is known for her blunt statements. She doesn't cushion her delivery but she also doesn't have any intention of hurting anyone. She simply tells it like she sees it, if she's asked. A trait I share. Upon seeing my husband's picture in the paper, my husband asked what she thought, and she unexpectedly remarked, "Wellllll, it's not your best picture." We cracked up. My husband came up to me later and whispered, "Now I know where you get it from and it's a brilliantly funny trait."

In her basement there is a red Radio Flyer wagon crammed and overflowing with Little Golden books in original mint condition. Her washer is a 1979 Inglis and the dryer's label is completely worn off. My Grandmother is modern but not encumbered by modernity. She may have a computer area upstairs but she also has a brown 1964 built in Moffet stove. I love that about her. How she seems to flow seamlessly between tradition and the current now. I can't place her in any time...she just IS. I obtain a great sense of BEING from Grandma.

My daughter noticed how Grandma often hoots at something I will say and chuckles, "Oh (insert my birth name here)." It's said in a endearing sort of way and I feel six again (but in a good way.) My children only get to see Grandma about once every year or two, but this statement has been memorable enough to stick in my twelve year old's heart.

On my children's birthday's Grandma often sends a classic book with a hand scrawled note or a bit of cash. At Christmas time the note was simply, "To P and K and children three. Grandma." The kids love spending time discussing the latest books with her or having her read a story. The last time she visited, she read them a book she often read to me as a child called, "Caps for Sale." In the same reading voice she used on me at night, when I lived with her as a child, she read to them. I was struck with nostalgia. I choked up and had to leave the room because I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the past and the present encompassed in Grandma's voice.

 (Caption: Grandma N and my daughter carrying on tradition. Below: Grandma reading in her basement with my three kids.)

Grandma N is trendy and a collector of beautiful things. She is a skilled garage sale enthusiast and has taught me to be thrifty. I can not pay over a certain amount for anything. She taught me how to make beautiful gifts out of re purposed items. Half of my house is furnished with vintage or thrift finds. She loved her crystal collections and tea cups. On many of my birthdays she would send me a very breakable crystal item bubble wrapped in the mail. It's always a delight to discover that these items were one of the many I took out to dust or admire in her Dinning Room cabinet. Washing dishes was a sacred event at Grandma's. Through her window one can gaze on lovely juniper, rose and fern arrangements and trees complete with fairy tale doors. Grandma is a gifted gardener and her yard is a stunning work of art in an unexpected place. I have memories of  washing dishes while the sudsy bubbles crept up my arms and my fingers caressed delicate flower shaped bowls, crystal china, and mismatched tea sets. Her eclectic collection dried in the rack and brightened the room with bold, creamy colours, birded coffee cups, and deep blue hues. My eldest son says blue reminds him of Grandma. Yes, deep calming blue and fun whimsical light blue all beget my Grandmother. After dinner I anticipated the dishes with great excitement because of the sensory appeal...something that doesn't happen in my own home.
(Caption: Above my three children in a part of grandma's garden. Below; A corner of blue in grandma's house.)
Her house is steeped in memories and sentimentality. There are so many artifacts in her house that I want and cherish. I have committed many of her items to memory because to me they are not just items...they are pieces of Grandma. Bits of her soul infused into aspects of home that carry her beauty and my childhood to me.

Grandma's husband died when my father was 17. Grandma birthed five children while serving as a pastor's wife. In those days that role demanded way more than it does today ( and that is saying a lot) and often she would have to come up with meals for company when she could barely feed her own kids. Grandma's meals are often distinctly Romanian. I can picture her cinnamon rolls, pies, meats, sausages and peroggies and borscht. They had an interesting life and I never tire of my father and his sibling's legendary stories.

I lived in Grandma's basement in my formative years while my dad tree planted. I had a little room in the corner with a hammock of stuffies above my head and a stack of books beside my bed. Grandma would often tuck me in and read to me story after story. She started my love affair with books.

(Caption: My sister and I with my cousin, grandma and brother)

After we moved to the prairies, we made the trek through the Rockies during the summers. Recently, to the relief of her children and my horror she ripped out her speckled shag carpet. I loved that carpet. I asked for a corner of it when they tore it out. The carpet was cozy and warm, a luxury experience for the feet when we did not happen upon sewing needles first. Her carpet downstairs is soft velvet and the rec room boasts a sandpaper silk feel. The stairs gave an air bubble squeak that emanated feelings of homeyness. I was overwhelmed with pure delight with just the ordinary task of walking on that carpet. I have yet to visit her home with the new carpet but I am sure it will shock and sadden me a tad.

A few years ago, my daughter walked through Grandma's home and garden and declared the same things I have said since I was two: "I want to live here forever," "Oh I love this room," "Oh how beautiful." She sensed the mystical background that encompasses the property, she felt the memories press up against her and her little mind was already picking up the sacredness of tradition. The sensory experience grounds me but it also gives me courage to LIVE. No other place casts it's spell so effectively. If I could move this place next door to my home I would in a heartbeat.

(Caption: my daughter, mother, sister, husband and I with my cousin on the end...basically my other sister. I have a cousin on each side that is an only child and both of them practically grew up with us and my children call them aunties.)

Grandma N is in her seventies. She regularly gardens and she is more up to date on current trends then I am. She loves her life. She is spry, she is grey, and she is classy. Her style is distinct. I wish I could pull off that look so beautifully. She often wears turtle necks or button up collared shirts with fantastic jewelry. I can often hear her bracelets clink as she walks. I can visualize her strong yet soft fingers run down the chain on her neck as she adjusts the latest charm she is wearing or her patting her silver hair down gently as it stylishly curves around her chin. I can hear the soft fabrics of her clothes as she moves and sometimes the cracking of her knees from her years of gardening. Her jewelery choices are often classy gold or silver pieces chosen specifically for each outfit. When I was a child she often sewed me outfits for Christmas. I felt so special in all of them and I loved her button collection. I would often ask to look at her sewing stuff to see all the sparkles and shiny thimbles. She made a Paddington shirt with metal Paddington buttons for my brother and she often would sew little Barbie outfits for me. I have one beautiful silk blue cloak for a barbie with silver edging that she created. I felt like my Barbie's were so unique and stylish because of her contributions. We could not afford a lot of Barbie clothes when I was little and Grandma supplied me with a huge bag of outfits I adored.

When I asked each of my children to say what they think of when I mention Grandma N my eldest son replied with; "Tea, blue, roses and her laugh."  My youngest smiled and said, "Funny!"  My daughter replied, "You and your quirkiness. Her laugh is my favourite... sewing, books, fluffy carpets and trees." Grandma is like Springtime to me. She is fresh, vibrant and brings feelings of hope and creativity with her. I recall moments when I was little of sitting in her bathtub and studying the brown and pink tile patterns surrounded by bubbles. Afterwards, my three year old self would be wrapped snuggly in a towel and would be plopped in front of the warm fire in the living room. It was fantastic.
Grandma is young at heart and she passes on that youthful spirit to myself and my children. She is truly alive and gave me a head start in the embracing life department. She makes me feel like spring has sprung. "Every time I see her face I'm such a happy individual."

"Remember is a place from long ago.  Remember, filled with everything you know. Remember, when you're sad and feeling down. Remember life is just a memory. Remember close your eyes and you can see. Remember, think of all that life can be. Remember."*

 I simply have to visualize Grandma's laugh or home or hear her voice in my mind when I am feeling low and once again the beauty of the simple life becomes mine. What memories of yours bring youth and comfort?

Songs that remind me of Grandma N: *Remember by Harry Nilsson, Young at Heart- Michael Buble, You Make Me Feel So Young- Frank Sinatra, Give me the Simple Life- Steve Tyrell.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Roots; Grandma T: Coffee, Cinnamon, Vinegar and Pickling Spice

*This is part two of my Roots series*

There is an aspect of home that can only be found in a smell. I am lucky that my memories associated with this are pleasant ones. The aroma of brewed coffee says, "You're safe, you're home, breath it in." The sharp tang of vinegar carries reminders of pickled beets canning and the changing season of fall. Cinnamon speaks of Thanksgiving and Comfort. Onions tell a tale of richness, satisfying nutrients, and a hearty hearth begging the question of what is under the silver lid. Since I have been five, Grandma T's house has always been less than a few blocks away. Currently, she lives in the front suite of my parents home. Each time I walk to that house I can smell the rich taste of home from the driveway tempting me to stop in and see what is cooking or baking, even if I can not eat it due to dietary needs, the smells alone are divine and a comfort me. It takes a few minutes in her home to feel balanced again. I just need to breathe the air, say a quick hi to grandma, and go out the door feeling lighter than I was before.
(My mom painted the cowboy on my grandma's bottom shelf- amazing hey?)

My children spend massive amounts of time over at my grandparents suite. My grandparents are still vital and babysit...the benefit of generations marrying young. When my eldest son was seven years old, he sniffed the air outside my grandma T's home and chirped, "It smells like know? That smell of coziness, and the sound of grandma's old country music, and grandma's stove beeping." I was so pleased that he noticed in detail what I have treasured my whole life. Grandma was canning pickled beets. Pickling spice smells like Autumn. Every fall she loads up boxes of beets, pickles, peaches, pears and salsa ingredients and sets to work for days of boiling and mixing. I tried to learn a few times but it never took. I was an epic fail due to Dyspraxia.
(My paternal grandma, hubby and I, Grandpa and Grandma T, my two eldest and my little sister about a decade ago.)

Grandma T is the epitome of the 1950's housewife. Each supper, after slaving away to make a detailed meal that always consists of either potatoes or rice, a canned or frozen vegetable, salad, buns or bread, the main dish, and of course some sort of dessert, she serves my grandpa. I can not remember a time when she does not say, "I need to dish out your grandfather. I know what he likes." Then she TAKES it to him while he sits in his favourite spot waiting. My husband will never receive that exact level of service from the kitchen!:)

Before one jumps to the conclusion that my grandpa is a chauvinist I need to say that despite some old fashioned ways, he is often the best advocate of women's choice. The 1950's interaction is just their way and grandma LOVES it. If she didn't - I would have a problem with it, but her acts of love revolve around serving and kitchen. She gets depressed if she can not help others in this way. She is amazing and Grandpa is lucky. Grandpa likes to take care of everything else like the garbages, shovelling ect. They have been doing this dance for fifty plus years. Time has had no pull on their roles because they both love what they do on most days.

Cabbage Rolls, grandma's recipe, are the epitome of comfort. My grandmother feeds our family sometimes once a week. When we were younger and didn't have the healthy food groove we have now, grandma's was usually the only time we would have a full warm meal. Her simple english type comfort food is full of roots and stability. Not only did my children need her meals but it became a welcome respite for a young mom. My eldest son often sighs, "Oh how I love grandma's meals. They are my most favourite."  There was a sense of stability and routine that we are unable to give ourselves. It's a different sort of magic than the self discovery and enhancement that went on in our home. In the early years our home smelled like books, paper, bounce, crayons and lavender. Now I can add the smells of nutritious baking from the children and I, and my husband's wonderful cooking, but grandma supplemented until we could slowly find our own foundations.

Grandma would host many of my friends for sleepovers growing up. We loved being dotted on by her and watching oldies and musicals and chatting about the "olden days." All my friends growing up called them "grandma and grandpa T." We had sleepovers, meals and conversations. As my friends aged, despite their strong faith, my grandparents never pressured them with bible studies or god speak. Instead they teased, accepted, aided, and comforted. Their form of faith often went unspoken and because of that teenagers flocked to their home to hear grandpa's old trucker stories and bar brawls and to stare at the wrinkled almost naked woman tattoo on his forearm (from pre grandma days.) They came to be fed comfort food and be clucked over by grandma continually filling their glasses and offering another piece of home made pie. It was a place of acceptance yet the verses on the wall and the bible with the glasses set upon it also told their story too.  
Grandma has a distinct style that I have not seen replicated. Like all women from her time era grandma has a china cabinet full of treasured glass knick knacks and tea cups, but what most women do not own from that era is moose dolls and Indian statues. Their home is full of Native symbolism, backwoods decor, and memorabilia of their rustic homes. They were always really poor, living in shanty homes and struggling to get by. This last year we surprised them while they were spending the summer in the Okanagan and painted the walls, re decorated and built them a shed.
 Before: Stark white walls                                     After: Coloured walls (it's tough to tell in the light but the paint is a golden creme colour)

Grandma cried. When decorating I tried to honour her country roots and keep the essence of her and all of her many knick knacks showcased in various ways around the room. I can not see a Moose without thinking of my grandparents. Grandma values history, connections and gifts. Her love languages are acts of service and gifting through meals, baking and pretty things. Christmas is her favourite holiday and she treasures every gift she receives. She places them under her tree for weeks or sets them on her couch to show all of us what she received and from whom. Going out of her way and budget, she tries to find the perfect gift for all of those she loves. She helped bring magic into my life. Every time they came back from a trip to BC they brought me a gift...she still does even though I am over thirty...and she carries that tradition with my children. Tinseled 1940's trees remind me of grandma and the breakable hand painted decor. Grandma IS christmas. 1940's crooners also bring up my fond Christmas memories revolving around my parents and grandparents. Nat King Cole crooning "The Christmas Song" feels like a deep part of my soul.

Grandma T has struggled with damaging health issues her entire life, spending weeks in the hospital yet she is one of the strongest, toughest people I know. She lives with pain everyday but that pain does not stop her from serving others, being active and investing in those she loves. If a person she knows is sick grandma is the first person to offer a meal, a hand at chores or her presence...even if she is also sick herself. I often joke to my husband that my grandma in her seventies has more strength and energy than I do. Actually, it's not a joke, she does. She is made of stronger stuff than I am and my LAST talent is acts of service. I am not that girl. But I hope that a bit of her has rubbed off on me in varied ways in that department in ways that I can manifest. Her hair has never been dyed but it is yet to grey, due to the medications she was on in the seventies...horrid, damaging stuff but I guess it left her with one benefit. I misunderstood when I was younger and I thought that greying was an optional part of growing old.

Grandma grew up dirt poor. One Christmas her sisters and her were in their cabin on a snowy night with nothing to eat. They had just finished the last of the lard a couple days prior. Her uncle showed up at the door in his long underwear, soaked from travelling across the river to get to them with little stockings full of nuts and oranges and a mint candy. Grandma said it felt like he saved her life. She felt like nothing was ever as beautiful as the taste of that delicious orange.

Grandma's stories are heartbreaking. Sometimes I had to tune out because I could not take the pain of what she must have felt. As a child of the eighties, I never really experienced the lack grandma had. While we were poor ourselves in my younger years we did have food...even if it was oatmeal three times a day for awhile or cereal without milk. We had a community that did well around us and shared their wealth. In her younger days, grandma did not always have those resources as everyone around her was struggling. I think she still carries that with her because she panics when her fridge and pantry are not stocked or when food prices go up. She makes sure my fridge always has the essentials and she has supplied our children with food and clothes at times when we did not have the resources to do much. Now we have a lot, more than enough, but grandma built the foundation for much of the goodness we experience now.

Due to unknown dyspraxia as a young adult and autism I was not gifted in running a home at first. I have learned my own tricks but there were many Saturdays when grandma would show up. My grandmother used to come to our prairie shack to find dishes moulding in the sink and laundry decomposing in our back entry. She showed me how to throw the mess quickly into the tub, oven and laundry baskets for unexpected company. She would throw out the towels that were un-salvageable and proceed to scour the rooms. My house was a disaster zone for the first four years of marriage. I think cleaning needs time to learn the tricks of the trade. And it needs to be shown. I also needed to know my own limits. Today, my kids are also an active part of the cleaning so I no longer have to attempt it all on my own, plus I know what works for me and what doesn't. 

Many of the beautiful things in my home are from grandma. She loves to walk into my home and study all my stuff. She often will call and ask if she can show my house to some strangers or distant relatives. I try to say yes more often then no. It may seem a little odd to give a tour of my home to my grandma's constant company, but I feel that because she did not get what I have, it feels like an extension of her. She is proud of how I have set up our home. A part of her, deep down, wishes she would have had the opportunity I had, I think...and how can I say no to sharing what she feels is also a piece of her? Sometimes it is a little awkward and sometimes I get insecure about how many people I do not know, are aware of the layout of my home and where I live, yet most people she knows I trust. At other times, it's actually quite fantastic. For some reason people are blown away by the inside of my home...they think they are stepping into another world, and the comments that often follow are a boost to the ego. Plus, from time to time we hear stories and make connections that are just a one time event but are memorable. It's stretching but sometimes it's beautiful and I would not have these moments without my grandmother.

I have often told my therapist that one of the deaths that will affect me the most is my grandma's. I got choked up about it and I can't finish. I told him we had to switch topics because if I think of what she gives to me, being taken away, I don't know HOW I will keep going on. She is one of my anchor's in life winds. I have had a bit of a princess life in regards to tragedy. I have had my fair share of heartache and emotional and physical pain, but I have YET to experience death of anyone close to me. Grandma is a part of my life routine. I depend on her comforts, her food that heals, and her generosity. She is an aspect of stability I have enjoyed since babyhood. I feel special and loved just by being in her home. Her home smells of protected childhood yet has also allowed for growth. Apparently, smell is the strongest sense to bring a memory yet, I do not experience that aspect much but I do with my grandparents. Smells that beget them are fresh early morning air that reminds me of mountain trips, light cigarette smoke (most of their vehicles smelled of this even though they did not smoke), coffee percolating, garlic, sugar, cinnamon and vinegar and pickling spice. 

Grandma is a fighter for me and will come to my defence quicker than anyone I know, despite the fact that I remain a bit of a difficult mystery. When she leaves to go to B.C. each summer (they still travel), I feel a tad insecure after a month or so. I am always relieved and excited when their car pulls into the driveway. I try to make sure our family is always at my mom's for supper so we can be home when they arrive. I get swept away by nostalgia and also awed by the present. This is still my life and I still get to enjoy my grandmother's being. All my family jokes that I can not bear to have grandma gone too long if my husband is busy because then I starve. It's true.

Grandma is the epitome of all things home. She also has this endearing way of talking at times that begets her country roots. Some of her sayings are a bit back woodsy. She will insert verbs for nouns or say "get them garbages." It happens more when she is tired and I love it. Her home- slanged expressions show innocence, simple roots and a love of the beautiful ordinary. She taught me to embrace coats of many colours...that we can be rich in spirit even if we are poor in money. She loves her country music and is drawn to rustic cabins. Embedded in my being are some of her tastes and her respect for humble beginnings. I find myself loving 1940's/ 1950's light fixtures, patch worked quilts, dishes and distressed wooden furniture. When I watch Mona Lisa Smile I think of grandma. In the film "The Help" grandma mentioned she was poorer than 'the help' themselves and some of her experiences were similar even though she came from a very different background. There is one scene in that movie when the ladies are having a get together and they put a tray of deviled eggs across a scratch on the table. My grandma has that tray and she makes that exact type of Deviled eggs for each special occasion. She has the little pickles on a plate and the cut up tomatoes, cheese and meats. She fries up her chicken in Crisco and swirls the mashed potatoes until they are buttery. The food scenes in that movie ARE my childhood and grandma's food still today. She also used tin T.V. trays when I was little and her dishes are those coloured cups and plates. When I watched a few scenes in 'The Help' I felt like I was once again in parts of my youth. It was weird. Grandma managed to maintain that 1950's style in the eighties and nineties. There is a part of me that was born country, born down home rustic, born with 1940/50's style and memory and born with the roots of my grandma. Coffee, Cinnamon,Vinegar and pickling spice are constant reminders of this.

What senses are embedded into your roots?

Post Edit: I feel that the reason I am quite balanced even though I grew up as an undiagnosed Autistic and Dysrpaxic (which was hard in it's own way) is because of the roots I had. My parents and grandparents had opportunities to move but they did not. I have only moved cities three times in my life before the age of five. There is something to be said for the stability of roots and of generations seeking to help support each other through life...then again, if the family is mostly negative I don't think this would be beneficial but I was lucky in my childhood to have stability, positivity and deep roots.

Song Choice: Coat of Many Colours (grandma had a similar experience and this is my eldest son's favourite song)- Dolly Parton, You're my best friend- Don Williams ( her favourite song)
Home by Alan Jackson really reminds me of my grandparents story and mine. The Christmas song- Nat King Cole.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Roots and Grandparents: Grandpa T: Tales of a Spanish Native Logger and Tender Fighter

*This is part one of three of my Roots series*

Instead of barking, the wolf-dog next door sends her howling songs to the moon. Smooth, raw, and haunting, her long held breath causes a stir within me. Glancing out the window I see beauty across the frozen landscape. The moon looks brighter with the backdrop of her sound and the prairies seem less tame. If I step out my front door will I experience the primal part of nature? Feelings of the sacred past connect to the gifted present. The possibility of the primal and tame merge into a song of mournful calling. A calling for friends, for a mate, for someone or something to answer. The creature begs the earth to offer back.

Growing up I listened to the gravely reverent voice of my Spanish/ Native grandfather discuss his hunts in the forest. Passion would seep in when he spoke about those who killed simply for the sake of the kill. Anger rose up as his chest heaved with displeasure. "Don't you ever rob the earth Missy of something you don't need. It's there for us to use but don't get greedy or make something suffer just to show your power." Excitement would take anger's place as he continued the dialogue of his hunt and the moment when he knew his gun was aimed to snuff out life instantly...ideally without any pain. His heart would break if he missed and had to put the suffering soul out of misery. Patience overtook his stealthily pace in the forest. He would wait, his breath mingling with the crisp air, for the right moment. He viewed the beauty of creation as a sacred treasure. Grandpa would never say that a bear is brother enough to live with the human. He would say a bear is a brother of creatures who needs a healthy respect, to eat when necessary and to admire. Grandpa did not forget his place. He cultivated respect and used creation as a vessel to worship, to gain wisdom, to teach patience, to show beauty, to experience raw mystery and simple wonder. He taught to take only what is needed. Nature taught him virtue or perhaps his virtue gave grace to nature?

Today, past eighty, I rarely hear my grandfather sneaking up behind me. His quiet, sure steps show his sacred approach to all living things. Mysteriously he is able to leave questions as questions instead of needing to possess a standard answer. With humour he moves through life. He loves to laugh and joke. His copper skin is crinkled with time yet he is still a very handsome man. The wrinkles mimic joy and hardship.  His ancestors travelled from Spain to Mexico, where his grandfather was the first Aboriginal to drive cattle from there to the the Cariboo Country in British Columbia Canada.

I am his firstborn grandchild. His "Missy." The one he can’t quite figure out because of my non-conformity of gender roles and the way I seem to be a mosaic of paradoxical cultural norms. Once I was looking for homemade snacks and asked my grandpa, "Do you have any more of grandma's bread?" He answered, "I don't know missy, the kitchen is her area. I have nothing to do with that. She loves it. That's women's work." He spoke with a gleam in his eye knowing I will give some spitfire reaction back so he added, "That's why I married a women to do all that." I took the bait and retorted, "And that is why I married my husband.” He laughed uproariously,"Missy that's not the way." I replied to his sanction with, "Who says grandpa? You can only make toast...well that is about my level of cooking. We are both lucky to have spouses who do not mind taking over the rest. Why does it matter if it is men or women? Unfortunately, my husband may not have has much time as grandma does but we get by...” I added in a teasing tone, "with grandma's food." He laughed again and walked away with a smile. Grandpa indulges and even allows his humour and his family to come before his cultural norms. 

Grandpa’s heart is his home, and his home revolves around family and his ancestry. He chose to live off the reserve when he faced prejudice and despair. He chose to live near his grandkids. My history lessons involved the minority’s experience of hardship, prejudice and injustice. His family has been taken by violence and tragedy. I know the tale of the Aboriginal yet I have not had to experience it firsthand. I may not have lived on a reserve or experienced the prejudice at extreme levels but I can sense this enforcement down deep in my roots. His Canadian culture is only three generations old, but the Spanish/Aboriginal culture goes back many generations. I spent hours as a babe listening to his native songs. Songs without words, similar to the wolf dog's haunting melody but carrying the beauty of the human spirit. Up and down the vocal chords he would go as he consistently patted my back. The drum of time past and time present rose with each fall of my breath.
As the years went by I would sit at his feet as he strummed his guitar. His jet black hair reminded me of Elvis. His favourite songs catered to the mournful. George Jones' 'A picture of me without you', 'You'll never grow old to me', 'He stopped Loving her today' or Conway Twitty's ' Hello Darlin' or anything Johnny Cash are his favourites. I was astounded at how close his voice mimicked Johnny Cash. I  can't hear any of those songs without hearing my grandpa's voice and picturing his work roughened hands strumming his guitar strings. I loved to sit at his feet and listen to the soothing sounds and stories within the songs...mostly sad ones. He was a logger for most of his life, hauling trees on backroads to battle the poverty he grew up in with his thirteen siblings. Some of my favourite tales were of the drunken brawls he had before he found his form of faith or when he rode the broncs bareback or jumped off the high bridges into  mountain rivers. The saddest tales were of him going without food, watching his siblings die, loosing homes fought for with blood and sweat or running into prejudice, one of which unjustly landed him in prison. Grandpa was a fighter but he was also full of tenderness and heart.

Friends of mine would call him Grandpa T or Mr. T as a spin off from the A Team. His burly build  and gravely voice fit the description. He seems to attract friends from every walk of life. Grandpa has a way of talking to the considered outcasts of society in a way that makes them feel valued. He imparts dignity. In humble ways he jokes and makes others feel at ease.  He often takes the phrase "judge not" and actually lives it.  And he walks his line... A line dedicated to grandma for over 56 years.  When my husband came into my life at the early age of seventeen grandpa wasn't sure about the guy whom he thought looked like a gang member. So he spent many hours chatting with the man sporting baggy pants and a toque. They were an odd pair at first, but as time went by they looked similar. I realized with stunning clarity that I picked a man who held many of Grandpa's qualities. Their build was similar, the strength in their voice, their booming laugh and excellent sense of humour. He calls my love his "favourite grandson in law" as he makes a humming noise in the back of his throat and pats my hubby on the back smiling. Grandpa understood that sometimes the soul needed to marry young. Grandma married him at fifteen. On her last birthday my grandpa phoned me and asked how he can phone in to a local country station. I helped him figure it out so he could dedicate "I want to stroll over heaven with you" by Alan Jackson for my grandmother's birthday. 
This is the legacy that they each pass on. This is the legacy I want to leave.
I lived a few years of my childhood in the mountains and half of my life growing up I spent at each of my grandparents' houses for the summers in the Cariboo Mountains. Grandpa would take me into the forest and give me instructions on bear safety and the sounds of the forest- most of which I have unfortunately forgotten but some rules stuck. As we trudged up the path, me weary and him bursting with energy, he would stop and point out waterfalls and flowers.  The man who would kill to eat, stepped aside to not crush a flower. "Missy, a good person won't leave an imprint in the forest they travel, unless it's to mark their path." He would break twigs off to show me how to know where I have been while looking forward to where I should go. My favourite part was when we'd see the orange/ red peeking out from the grass. Indian Paintbrush. They symbolized Grandpa T to me. I'd rush over and exclaim, "Grandpa, I found Indian Paintbrush!" He would crouch down and touch the pretty flower weed. "This is fire just like your ancestors. They understood that each living thing is a gift of creation. Each living thing possess the breath god breathed to create."  Occasionally he would allow me to pick one and take it home. Grandma would put it in a pretty vase and serve me cookies as I stared at the fiery passion of nature, grateful for my roots.
Roots shape us or perhaps in spite of our roots we become. I am lucky that each of my three grandparents taught beauty and thoughtful process. Grandpa T inspired me to consider the riches that whisper while tiling the earth and the vivid colours in the sounds of the wind. He also taught compassion and non judgement and had a particular way of charming hardened hearts and befriending troubled souls. Grandpa T simply taught his heritage, his stories, his wisdom, and by sharing, he gave me these gifts. I hope to teach in my own ways while passing on pieces of his. 

Song Choices ( I LOVE these songs): A Picture of me without you- George Jones, I walk the Line- Johnny Cash, He stopped loving her today- George Jones, Hello Darling- Conway Twitty, You'll never grow old to me- George Jones

Saturday, January 23, 2016

LEGAL NAME CHANGE: Why Our Family of Five Changed our Surname/ Last/ Married Name after 14 years of Marriage

"At present our only true names are nicknames"~ Henry David Thoreau

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile. Our new surname was in the making for more than a decade, before timing, guts and money came together to enable us to follow through with our decision. Many people find that name changing is offensive or a direct insult to the families that bestowed names in the first place. For those who are traditional or in the mindset that names are the direct link between people, a legal name change is a very odd concept to wrap the brain around. "A name is a tool. You don't own just one tool and refuse to get others because of the one at home. 'I can't get a wrench because my parents gave me a perfectly good screwdriver already! It's a family screwdriver, we all share the same one, generations all of us. I plan to give it to my son.' You have as may tools as you need and sometimes you use a tool for only a brief period of a time." (pg. 36* Phoenix McFarland. See attribution below for all the following quotes in this post.)

"We change, we grow into new people many times over as we progress through life. We are no longer static and unchanging, we no longer "fit" the names given to us by someone else, which we have carried all our lives." (pg. 31) Part of the reason we changed our names is that we felt tied to an identity that wasn't ours. This is also why we chose a few middle names and tried to balance out the meaning personally for each individual.

Ingrained beliefs state that this is deliberately isolating familial roots by choosing this path. While we give thanks for our roots on each side, neither fully described our family. While roots are important, family is not necessarily stripped down to blood ties. Family are those who support, accept and understand with love and engage in dialogues of respect. They are the people we grow and witness life with. This should not be strictly defined to a name or a country or a place or a gender or any isolated descriptor like a name. Nor be limited to the father's side of the family.

We are not traditional. We are not patriarchal. When a woman gets married and changes her name no one mourns the loss or bemoans her as disrespectful or asks her why she would do that. But when a man changes his name it can often be looked at as a direct insult to the family, a rebellious decision, and something to be questioned. "Many societies clung to the patronymic system, even though naming through the mothers line is much more accurate, as maternity, unlike paternity, is never questionable. There is evidence that some cultures were matriarchal, but with the advent of the patriarchal warrior tribes, customs changed. With patriarchy came the notion of female virginity at marriage and a strict monogamy as a means of assuring paternity. It was under this patronymic system that a woman first began to take the name of her husband. This was one of the profound changes in cultural history that is well illustrated by the history of nomenclature. Within these subtle changes of nomenclature, history bears witness to the subjugation of women in Western culture." ( pg 10, 11)

"We are in an age of seeking understanding and perspective that we achieve, in part, by looking to the past. We look to history. We look beyond the fearful fundamentalists of today, beyond the misogynistic murderers of the Middle Ages, and back to a time perhaps when wisdom was valued, nature was revered and the feminine was venerated; a time before humans believed they held dominion over nature, before the quest of youth and beauty held sway over the culture..." "Before hereditary surnames evolved (even by 1465 C.E. the use of last names was not yet universal) the first surnames were often patronymic...; some were places names...; others were names of race or nicknames that describe characteristic of the person (Robin of Loxley)" (page 10)

Names carry cultural information and lead to assumptions. Names carry meaning and people live up to the meanings often in their names. We feel honoured and lucky to be living in a period of freedom to be able to change this factor of identity so easily. In the time of the medieval church conformity and choosing an "unusual name could lead to death by burning, hanging... as the influence of the church waned...the poets waxed romantic and our babies had new names. In the modern era, actors play beloved characters...we are now at a time that allows great freedom. We are free to choose names for our children and even for ourselves that are not dictated to us by conquest, an oppressive ruler, the church or any social convention." (pg 2)

We love stories. We are passionate about our books, movies, and tales. To us, life evolves and changes. The naming process was a fun one. We had many last names in the running and the kids were involved heavily. From toddler hood on we did not reinforce their last name because we knew it would be changed. We also allowed our children to pick new middle names or keep the ones that we gave them. We guided but we allowed them to ultimately choose from a large list. We had a blast with this process. They are aware that they can choose an alternate surname, go back to the old one, or keep what we have chosen when they reach adulthood. We believe in that freedom.

For our surname we had a few options but we settled on something neutral for numerous reasons. The top reason was memory for ourselves and our children and friends. The name we chose was already part of our regular vocabulary. It also started out as a joke but then became a consideration. A testament to our approach to life: secret humour and irony. Our choice also happens to be a common name that is used. We felt it came with many mixed assumptions and it would be easier to fly under the radar in a sense. We often stand out in eccentricity so we deliberately decided to choose something ordinary and less hippyish (which can be our tendency.) Our choice can come across as patriarchal but anyone who knows us, will know that is a moot point and anyone who doesn't will not know we deliberately chose it ourselves.

In the past, when we mentioned our last name the typical questions were as followed, "Oh are you so and so's brother? What about the other brother? Are you somehow related to him?  I didn't know there was another child in the family...did you just move here? Are you German?" My husband had a tougher time with these assumptions than I did. A strong personality type does not want to be consistently defined by his brothers. This happened enough that we knew when to brace ourselves for the inevitable.

Many people ask how our extended family took it. Obviously, there was going to be hurt feelings or feelings of rejection. This is part of the reason we waited a few years longer than we could have. We had an opportunity about five years ago but we realized if we wanted it to be optimal that we would have to wait longer. I found waiting to change our names a bit hard as it was already done in my mind for years before it was actually legal. In a way this was good because I keep forgetting it's a new idea to most people. It's not some profoundly heart thumping change for me. Timing is not always easy. We waited until we had more healing with my husband's parents. This may seem weird. Why heal and have more understanding and then put them in a place of questioning again? Because we wanted them to know that it wasn't a name change based on rebellion of them or of direct objection to them. We wanted to be in a place where we had more communication to explain. Because sole rebellion wasn't why we chose to do this. I understand how if patriarchy mindsets or certain beliefs feel like the core of a person most of our reasons WILL feel like outright rebellion. However, it's not in rebellion of who his parents are or how my husband loves them or our family values their role in our lives.

My husbands parent's took it beautifully compared to what could have happened. My husband had a quiet, stable conversation with them and both parties were respectful and came out of the conversation with dignity in tact. He affirmed with the following phrase:
"If this was about separating myself completely from you and not wanting a relationship with you, I wouldn't be here explaining myself or trying to validate you. I don't care about wills or bloodlines. What I care about is the love that we have and that you know, no matter what, that I still see myself as your son. I need you to know that I value you regardless of what we choose to do, our beliefs, and how we live our life. I will make efforts to validate that verbally and I am thankful for both of you."

It will take some time and full understanding may never be achievable, however, the conversation built a new foundation that was important. In the end, we realized that we have to consider all parties involved and be kind in our delivery, but then make a decision based on what enables our family to live our best life.

I can't speak for my husband, he has his own reasons and individual relationships with his family, but I can say that for me, it is easier now to interact with some of his siblings. For them, it's probably, ironically, the other way. There is an aspect of changing surnames that IS a statement, whether intentional or not. It's a statement of autonomy, independence, and freedom. Without the name strings I feel that we are now able to relate on a more respectful acquaintance level of respect without expectations. When a family is completely on opposing sides of many issues it can be difficult to get along. Without the worry of smearing a name, it's easier to be myself.

Time tends to ease issues and we hope in a few years, once people have adjusted, that they actually realize life is a little easier on them without sharing our name too. In a community of strong belief, it was hard on them whenever my husband had his groups or ads in the paper for different events that may not have lined up with what they felt was appropriate. In the end, it may be easier for them  in the future to have a cleaner association with us.

The reactions from varied siblings were surprisingly toned down to what we have experienced in the past. My husband's one sibling was especially warm towards us and she stepped around the issue completely, even though I know it must have been tough to understand or accept. She put her relationship with my husband over her mindsets. I was impressed. I don't expect this for myself but of course I hope it for my husband. All in all, each sibling reacted in what was appropriate for their relationship with him, from light questions to absolutely nothing... It's important for the person who's birth family it is, to do the talking. I did not attend my husband's meeting with his parents. It would not be fair in that circumstance to add my voice. My parents are affected by my birth certificate being changed to my new name and my middle names, but they already went through the grief of letting go when I took my married name. While full understanding may not be achievable it is vital to make the transition as easy as possible.

We have found surprising support in our community. In my imagination over the years I thought I would receive contempt, direct rebuttal and constant question. Luckily, in all business relations, people were professional. Occasionally the question was asked why. Our standard truthful, surface level answer was/is,"We married young and have wanted to attempt this since a year after we realized we could, because we are untraditional together. Circumstances came together to enable us to do this." Everyone has nodded, smiled and adjusted accordingly. I was even surprised with a few very supportive comments from very traditional people. Which is always a pleasant irony. A cashier I barely know remarked, "Your hubby strikes me as the rogue of the family. He's the youngest right? I hope I marry a rogue...they are brave, know what they want, romantic and tend to be strong." I laughed. This is true and I found it funny that someone who only knows us by what we purchase said this phrase. It's probably not optimal to the rest of the family who has to deal with the rogue but for the one who married him, it IS delightful for the most part. I hope at least one of my children is a rogue in their own love stories even if it causes me pain. Choosing each other can be epic. Another older woman asked why we made this decision and once I replied she surprised me with, "I think more people should consider this. It can be healthy once people get used to the idea. It also shows separate independence and asks for respect." Thus far I have only had one person raise their eyebrows but have to yet to run into outright contempt.

I disliked the sound of my surname growing up so when I married, my husband's name was a step up, but it never fit well. When we found out a year later that a couple we knew made a completely new last name together we were annoyed that we didn't realize this was an option. We would have loved that. As time went on I only used my married last name when I absolutely had to. The name became a little tougher for me as issues in the family surfaced. I wasn't well liked in I understand why but being a teen and young twenty something it caused immense pain. Being disliked in acquaintance situations is fine enough but when we used to spend all holidays and family gatherings with them, the name tie was another bond to a group of people who had hurt and isolated me, as a group and individually, the most in my entire life experience and in years that required the most growth from me at a young age.* I was bullied by one person throughout teenage hood but otherwise had not experienced the level of deceptive unkindness and disregard for my human essence that I did in some circumstances. In their defence- I was also very difficult in the way I saw the world but did not yet understand. I did not know myself so could not explain that most of what was taken offence to was innocence on my part or just a very different brain stance. I was never out to hurt but I WAS different and odd.

Our differences in complete life approaches was also strong. Add sensory overload into the mix and a family of mostly extroverts to a fiercely introverted individual and it was just not optimal. When I was called by my surname, I cringed inside, because it was like being associated with some of the tougher times of my life. It was a reminder of everything I wasn't.

 I was often mixed up with my sister in law's name. Our first names sound VERY similar in first and we shared the last name. She was more community minded than I, so people knew her more. Three years after she moved away I continued to be asked if I was her with my points account or when I gave my name out to people who knew her but didn't know me over the phone. "Oh you are married to _. He is so talented in the arts program." I have had renditions of this phrase spoken to me over forty times at the very least.  I'd tightly smile and say,"Wrong brother." But then I'd get a quiz about the next brother and why they had never heard of my man and how was I related and 'what a nice family' (which they really ARE but again...deep wounds of misunderstanding heal slowly.) By the end I actually would just nod and let them assume I was married to that brother and quickly found my exit. This was frustrating and slightly painful. I love that now my sister in laws name is all hers and mine is uniquely mine.

In some of my personal relationships with the family the healing has come a long way. For instance, I adore my husband's mother. Putting myself in her place I realize how her heart must break sometimes. How she sees the world and how we sometimes act in it must be very difficult. It is painful and I deeply feel for this. At the same time, the empathy I feel can not stop me from living our life to the best of our ability either. Both her and I approach each other with respect and more dialogue than we had in the past. They had no idea how to deal with someone who is so different. I also did not know how different I actually was until my mid twenties so I did not understand why most of the family loved others so easily but exploded with rage on occasion to something I thought was benign. I had never had a group of people be so adamantly flustered and upset about some minor decisions or comments that I made. I learned to keep silent most of the time. I was used to being supported or liked or having people just let go if I was not their cup of tea. We all had a lot to learn, each of us made our own mistakes, and because of the differences on so many different levels the growth is still happening. I now feel I am free to love my husbands family better, according to each relationship uniqueness, without the name tie. If it's tougher for them, so be it, but there is immense freedom for me without that connection. When I changed my name on our phone account the service accountant said "Hold on Mrs...insert new last name" then he paused and waited for me to answer him and he laughed, "I was just seeing if you were used to your new name...must be pretty exciting eh?" I was giddy over that moment.

While the family situation did affect how I feel about my own name change, it is only one piece of the puzzle. We had multiple reasons for changing our names. History of names, the love of meaning of names, our deep interest in nomenculture, our personal stories, the current cultural freedom to make this choice, marrying young, stating autonomy, our untraditional ways, unifying our bond, and our dislike of patriarchal traditions all contributed to this decision.

Our marriage has succeeded this far because of our unity, our unique ways of communicating, humour,  and respect but also because we present a strong front. The name change was another bond for us together. For our children it was an important lesson in family considerations, individual autonomy, cultural expectations, fun, bravery, and the frustrations that come with a process. They witnessed every conversation we had with people (we discussed everything with them.) We had to do finger printing three times because of mistakes that were made and we had to drive an hour out of our way for the electronic prints each time to another office. Each wait period after prints was a few months. Doing this three times was depressing. Some people would have given up as it took us nine months longer then was expected because of various mix ups. I had one person tell me it wasn't meant to be if we kept running into problems. I don't believe anything is not meant to be...only not wanted enough or if life happens and all avenues are exhausted, then sometimes it is good to give up. This wasn't that time. Our children learned that you don't give up on a difficult thing unless all options have been tried IF it means something to you. Even if no other person supported it, which wasn't the case, we still would have changed our name. We believed in it for us that much. My husband's story is his own and obviously has some differing factors. This is my story and I can honestly end it by saying this is in my top twelve best decisions of my life. It has been a game changer. While there are definite downsides, with anything in life there are negatives and positives, the benefits outweigh these. I was afraid of a name that didn't suit me being on my gravestone. I had nightmares of being remembered by a name that came with a lot of baggage in my personal journey and deep soul pain. As our journey progressed, I realized that I could make that name work for me, but since I could change it, I would, even if my husband decided a family name change wasn't for him. I was lucky that my husband also had that desire from an early period in our marriage because then we would have hyphenated which wasn't my favourite idea but would have been our compromise if both our mentalities were differing. However, that wasn't our story.

Names can be burdens or they can be magic. They give meanings to places and descriptors to the human experience. They are crucial for understanding yet breed false assumptions. Nomenclature is full of contradictions. My truest names are my nicknames bestowed by those who love me or myself. This blog name feels like a part of my identity. My husband will often fondly call me Kmarie. Some of my middle names are also part of this beauty. Just because some nicknames we go by are not legal does not make them any less real or legitimate. However, sometimes the step into a legal name change is important. If an individual feels that their name needs to be a truer reflection of who they are, it is important to honour that if possible. Authenticity is crucial to a sense of well being and stability. I have no regrets but I do wish our decisions could cause the least harm. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Yet, life must be lived with bravery and courage. This took great guts for us to do. I am proud of us. If you are considering a legal name change, weigh all the factors and consider an approach of kindness and timing, but in the end, do what can enables you to live your most authentic life with freedom and love. Dreams do come true but some times it takes pain, grit and a strong sense of self to make them a reality.

*All quotes taken from the book "The New book of Magical Names" by Phoenix McFarland. While this book is definitely different from where I stand on some issues or beliefs, the whole of it was beautiful and accompanied our family on our journey and choosing.

**I don't regret marrying young. In fact, last night my hubby turned to me and said, "In two years I will have surpassed the amount of time I didn't know you in my life and I will have known you more years than what I experienced without you. I have been looking forward to this date since we started going out. I remember wondering what we would be like. You have exceeded my dreams. I am so glad we married young despite its struggles." Heart thump. After I swooned I completely agreed.

~ For cost, the whole process in our province including new birth cards, fingerprints, marriage certificates, and drivers licences was less than 300 dollars for our entire family. Luckily, all births except mine were in the province we lived in, which was cheaper. Cost will vary from place to place.~

Sunday, January 17, 2016

INFJ: The Magic, The Oddness,The Door Slam, And the Dark Charm

*NOTE: As I have mentioned before in posts, personality is ONE aspect of being human and your individual make up. Environment, upbringing, birth, health, trauma, life experience, mental or cognitive differences, genetics, beliefs, gender preferences, country of origin....there are so many aspects that make up YOU. However, I firmly believe finding your accurate personality  helps you understand more of yourself and how you work. Take a free test HERE: - The key is to answer as you ARE and not as you would want to be like. Meyers Briggs/ Keirsey is what the 16 personalities is based on and has research behind it for a reason. It is more of a descriptor of what you value and how you work out of the world in regards to communication and relationships.*

This blog post will probably be of interest to you only if you are an INFJ, love an INFJ, are extremely curious, or just enjoy learning about people.

Over the years, I have discovered how important it is for self understanding. Since my personality type is complex and rare, I have also learned how important it is to explain myself, to the best of my ability, to the people who need to understand me the most. This means my husband, children and best friend. INFJs understand me best because this personality type is the rarest in the world making up less than 1%. But my world is also magnified and brought to beauty by other fellow kindreds of all types of personalities.

It's not often that I find my tribe. It's even rarer for me to read an article and agree with the entire post. I found three that highlight particular attributes of the INFJ and I will highlight my favourite paragraphs (which happened to be tough as each article in it's entirety was my favourite!) and add my thoughts below. If you are in INFJ or happen to love an INFJ or are just simply interested in that type of magic and crazy please check out the entire articles as they are spot on.


"The INFJ is freakishly intuitive. This is probably the other most important thing to know, because ultimately it accounts for their "superpower", which looks a lot like psychic ability but is really just hyper-intuition. Get ready for the INFJ to basically read your mind all the time, tell you your business before you even know it, and routinely predict events that will come to pass. This is largely an unconscious process, but the partner of an INFJ will probably realize at some point that at all times, the INFJ is reading the environment around them. They are taking the emotional temperature of everyone in the room, assessing body language, watching interactions, eavesdropping, sorting data, analyzing, questioning, filing new information, rejecting old information, looking for patterns. Constantly vigilant of everything and endlessly receiving data. (This sounds like a lot of work, but for INFJ it is effortless and reflexive; it's just what their brains do.)  This can be off-putting to people who misinterpret it as a judging function. It is not. Despite the "J" in the name, INFJ is decidedly not a judging type. They get the "J" because what gets extroverted (shown to the world) is a decision-making function, extroverted feeling. But they are actually a classic prospecting type, with some vast majority of their energy going towards (neutral) information-gathering. As such, yes, they technically are analyzing you, but it's not intentional, and ultimately it stems from a deep desire to understand you (and everyone/everything else)."

This particular bit of information is often tough for people to understand. I am not a judging personality but I will assess every detail about you and know things you will not know about yourself quite yet. It's not something most people would love and I try to keep this aspect of myself a secret. It is effortless and I LOVE this aspect of my personality. I have learned to let go of people who immediately take my information gathering as judgement. I can't explain it and if they are not people who interact with me everyday then it's not important to know. I love my superpower. Most people describe it as "scary."

"Typically, an INFJ is pretty even-tempered and reasonable, if somewhat prone to defensiveness, and while also perhaps quick to get their feelings hurt, they are also usually quick to forgive once it gets sorted out. (Read: once you've taken responsibility for and recognized how you were hurtful. Just saying "I'm sorry" is generally not sufficient; they want to know that you really understand why it hurt their feelings). "

I am quite quick to get my feelings hurt but I am also just as quick to forgive. I am quite reasonable in general and even tempered. I loved how the above quote said that a "sorry" isn't enough though. I always ask my husband WHY he is sorry. It's true, I find apologies insufficient if one does not take responsibility for their transgression. I hold myself to the same standards. 

"As for the "so serious" misperception, while the INFJ admittedly can get stuck (or even intentionally revel, because in all honesty, there are few things INFJs loves more than to get deep) in non-stop heavy thinking/conversing, they actually can be quite light-hearted when in the right company. They love clever wordplay and are not easily offended; they tend to enjoy the company of people who push the envelope and are somewhat outrageous with their humour... There is a genuinely playful, incisively witty aspect to the INFJ personality that often gets overlooked if it isn't encouraged, or if they are in a relationship where humor isn't fundamental... People who do get their humor, and who encourage and draw it out, will get endless delight and occasional outright shock out of engaging in witty banter with the INFJ."

I get told I am serious a lot but as my husband and children know I am extremely funny at times. I don't take myself too seriously even though I do feel the heaviness of the world on most days. My husband will be exploding with laughter at something I say or do which in turn makes me laugh. If I did not have him to bring out my playful side I don't think I would laugh much actually. I AM serious. But I (apparently, according to those closest to me) can be hilarious and I do love outrageous people who push the envelope. I like to initiate dance parties with my kids and I will do stupid things to make them laugh. Unless I am overtired or super high from an obsessive interest or connection, I don't show this side of myself to most people. I have a Rationalist friend, Keren, who also happens to be the godmother of my children, and sometimes we have moments when we can not stop cracking up. She often exchanges witty banter with me and I find this a rare magic in my world.


"Accept that they don't know, because a) most people are not as intuitive as you are and b) you are a treasure island and they have most likely never visited one of those before." "

I have met people who are intuitive but not in an INFJ way...It's rare to find that, and each time I do find someone quite as intuitive as me they ARE an INFJ. But unless you are an INFJ you won't get this. I understand. I have learned I can't hold this against people...the biggest favour I have done for myself is accept that most don't know and that is Ok. If I want them to know, I need to explain and give them a map.

"I know you are at your core a warm and loving person, but let's face it: you can be kind of prickly sometimes... I know that the prickliness is hiding a gooey center... Most people don't know this. If what they see is a bunch of sharp edges and pointedness, they are not probably going to stick around to find a way around that into the beautiful garden paradise your prickliness protects. They are simply going to assume you do not want them in your space, which sometimes is true but often is not."

I laughed at the porcupine description with the gooey centre. When I read it to my husband and son they both exchanged "the look" of complete agreement. I am aware, in most situations, that I come across as  prickly. The truth is that I often don't want people in my space, but sometimes I do. This was more profound in my twenties when I longed to get close to people but did not understand my inner workings and why I was off-putting. Now, I mostly have my tribe so I don't need to explain my prickliness. They get it. They know I am both prickles and mush.

"You have to intentionally make yourself appear open and warm and inviting to the people you actually do want in your space, so that they know it's safe to approach you. Most people are not going to take liberties with you, because they will intuitively sense that you are not someone to take those liberties with. (Although the ones that do are often the ones you love best, because they are brave and undaunted by your forcefield. They bust right in like "you're going to love me, deal with it" which you secretly like. These are gonna be your ENFP types, most often.)"
My husband is an ENFP. Basically we have the best love match according to the personality charts. It makes sense. When we were dating my husband confessed within the first two months that he was falling in love with me. I looked at him and replied, "oh how nice." He practically forced his way into my heart and I am so relieved he did. 

"You're constantly taking in and sorting information and moving it around and changing your mind accordingly without even being aware you're doing it. You can come off pretty inconsistent because of this (see: capricious, mercurial, moody). You know that's not really what's going on, but you have to tell people where you're at in real time lest you appear wishy-washy and confused/confusing."

My extended family seems to think I am the epitome of moody. I am thankful someone gets that I am actually not wishy washy at all but I DO change my mind a lot. It's easy for me to jump from A to Y stance in a short period of time compared to some people who do not even find a Y stance in their lifetime and I jumped to it in a span of ten minutes.

"The degree to which you experience (suffer from?) ambivalence is much greater than most others, and most people will not understand it. Ambivalence is when you feel equally powerful but totally contradictory things at the same time. It's like, "I feel this way, and this opposite way at the exact same time" or "My instinct is to respond this way, but then when I really think about it, I think this way is probably better, but that other way sounds good too, and both are true." You really have to clarify how you feel before you try and include most people in your process or they'll be like "what the fuck are you even talking about"

YES! My most accurate descriptor is a paradox because of this feature in my persona. Most people can not do this and let's face it- INFJ's are magic but also odd. A fact I love but most people dislike stuff that can not be fully explained. I don't bother including most people in my process. It honestly takes too much effort and most of the time it still baffles them. I do however try to include those in my process who have had a history of generally trying to peel back my layers or understand. They deserve more.

"Don't mistake your brilliance at tuning into other people's feelings for any kind of competence at interpreting your own. You kind of suck at that. You need people to check you on your particular brand of crazy. You need people who know you well enough to bypass your defensiveness and hold up a mirror for you to see where you might be making a mess...You tend to want to believe the best of people, and can be pretty laughably naive in this way."

And this is why I have a best friend that I basically have to talk to everyday. I need to verbalize so I write or I talk to her on the phone for about an hour everyday. She is amazing and I love hearing her stories and magic too. She is my person who will protect my naivete. She's like a second therapist except I also have the benefit of being equal with her and hearing her own methods of magic.

"Be careful with your superpowers. Your gift is making other people feel truly seen and held in safety. When you tune in to a person fully, they completely fall in love with how that makes them feel, which (you know) really has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with that feeling. However, it would behoove you to be careful with this, because people are much more likely to feel close to you than you feel close to them, and you can be inadvertently hurtful because they may think something very special is going on when really you're just being how you are... In other words, know that you are not like most people. It takes you a long time (or a very specific and wonderful dynamic that speeds the process) with a person to really feel like you are being seen, but that isn't the case for most others. So when you turn your warmth on a person, they will feel like the sun is shining on them and only them. And it is, but that's because it's just how you are. Your warmth and deep humanness and the comfortable space you provide people to be their authentic self is a thing that connects them to you almost effortlessly. You come off to others as wise and knowing and deep, and it will make them feel like you understand them more than anyone ever has. Which is probably true, but it comes so naturally to you that you may not realize it's making that person feel like they are incredibly special to you. They may be kind of special to you, but in a way that like 85 other people are *kind of* special to you. Be aware of this disparity, and don't unintentionally create a bunch of one-sided relationships where either a) there's a major disconnect in how you feel about each other or b) you end up feeling like they are just taking from you and not giving you anything back, when they don't even know that's happening at all. You may not feel like doing this is costing you energy, but in the end it's not a great dynamic for you or for them.

Unfortunately, this happened a lot before I realized this was a thing about five years ago. It still happens to me but now I am aware of the disparity. I no longer hold it against people when I get them but they don't get me. I used to wonder what was wrong with me or why they were not seeming to put in as much energy into my perspectives. This is also the reason I have less relationships now. Most of my relationships were one sided and it wasn't good for either of us long term.  It also makes me slightly sad because I can not help how I am and how much that it may make people feel like I basically threw out their special relationship with me. When in fact, it was special in the way that all relationships tend to be special for me. 

"You can be mean as fuck when you're hurt or angry, and once you say the awful things you instinctively just know to say, you cannot ever take them back"

Having accurate insight into people is a deep responsibility. I knew even when I was a child, that my words could wound a person to their inner core, exposing secrets they did not know they had. I decided (because remember the gooey centre bit?) that I didn't like this superpower when used accordingly. I don't like to hurt people. I can be mad. I WILL door slam ( see below) if need be, and I can be VERY mean if pushed over the edge, but I don't like to be. Even when I am mean, I hold back 70 percent of what I could say. Ask my husband. It still can be pretty harsh. Knowing people's deepest insecurities and how to push their buttons is a huge responsibility and sometimes I just wish I could get mad like a normal person and say semi hurtful general things without having to watch my words to not push a person to complete unravelling. I have yet, in my adult life, to let go of myself and say what I could, and that is a relief. I am thankful for my incredible self control in certain areas like this.


Ok, so I didn't know this was an actual personality thing until it kept popping up in Pins on my Pinterest. So I checked into it and my jaw dropped a bit.

"You may have heard of the notorious INFJ Door Slam. This is when the INFJ completely closes the door on someone, shutting them out of their lives for good. It seems like a fairly harsh action for such a warm and caring type....INFJs are deeply emotional individuals, although they may not show it constantly. They care very strongly about others and feel emotions on a powerful level. When they care about someone they devote much of their lives to making them happy. INFJs rarely spend time tending to their own needs, often dedicating their lives to the needs of others. Their biggest goal is to help people and they often hope to make a real difference in the world around them. They take their connections to others very seriously, making it very hard for the INFJ to leave even a bad relationship behind. The INFJ does not “Door Slam” someone lightly, this is something that takes a lot of time before the emotion builds up much too strong for them to continue."

"This often happens because they care very much about people, often allowing them to push them too far. Eventually the INFJ realizes they can no longer deal with this sort of emotional abuse from someone that they love, so they must remove them from their lives... The INFJ doesn’t do this lightly, and the process often hurts them very much. They want to believe in people, but even the strongest individuals can only take so much pain. Eventually the INFJ becomes completely emotionally burnt out, causing them to move on from someone’s life. This often takes time after time of the INFJ being upset and emotional, trying to resolve the problem. Eventually, they see no other option but to let go of the person that is harming them."

Looking back I realize I have done this probably about six times in the last decade. My best friend mentioned she has never known someone like me who takes so much crap from people constantly but then it will seem like I suddenly freeze them out. This is what is truly happening and I sent her this article right away to which she replied, "That makes so much sense. Completely you." It takes A LOT to get me to this point.

"They are very protective over the people that they care for, making them capable of becoming almost dangerous towards someone who harms them. It takes much less for the INFJ to Door Slam an individual who harms their loved ones. The INFJ finds this entirely necessary and justifiable, since it is for someone that they care about. They will shut this person out with ease, often done with a very clear and rational mind. The INFJs are extremely loving, which also makes them very protective people. There really is nothing worse than hurting someone they love and they will make that clear."

I find it way easier to shut the door on someone who has hurt someone I love. I do this rationally and I do find it justifiable. It's a calm reaction I have without much emotion. For instance, I am not much of a mamma bear in comparison to most moms. I expose my children to harsh realities and I don't jump to their defence all the time. However, when a family member continued to push their religion on our kids over and over, the final straw for me was when this person casually told my husband that perhaps Autism was a form of sin. The very fact that it was said so casually told me what I needed to know. It was the clear moment for me that no healthy benefit could come from an interaction with this person and my children long term...or their children because they will grow up with the same mentality. It's sad but its reality. 

"Before the action of shutting someone out of their lives occurs, the INFJ goes through a very long stream of attempts to resolve the problems. They will most likely be emotional and put their best effort into fixing the issue. They do not want to cut people from their lives, especially not someone they once cared deeply for. The INFJ often takes time to come to the decision that they must move on from a relationship. They take their commitments very seriously, wanting to build strong and lifelong connections."

I think deeply and hold myself accountable for all my actions. I realize that a door slam comes with repercussions and once done you can never go back to the way things were before. It's a serious gesture.

"They have to shut off from this person, almost as if they are dead to them. The INFJ considers the loss of a relationship much like a death, and they have already spent time mourning this loss. At this point they are simply removing the finale memories of the lost relationship. This is no longer the mourning period, the INFJ has completely come to terms with what has happened. If the INFJ is still emotional or upset, than there is hope to resolve the relationship. Once the Door Slam has happened there is no going back. The INFJ has made the decision to move on and to them it is already done. "
Once I am at this point, it is already done in my mind. I have already mourned months before ( it's an entire process) and it is literally like a death in my mind. In fact, it is a death. A death of what was. I treat it accordingly. I find it interesting on movies when they scream, "you are DEAD to me. DEAD." I can see how that is the emotional moment when one realizes that a door slam is necessary but when it actually comes to pass it is far less emotional. When a person is truly dead in the emotional sense to someone, the grieving is already finished, there is no feeling other than a basic respect for what was.
Some people have asked what to do to avoid this door slam. "Simply avoid being shut out by an INFJ, by being a reasonable human being. They will take a lot from the people they love, but eventually it becomes too much. They will only cut someone out for continuous emotional abuse, or for abusing someone that they love. If you are kind to the INFJ, they will see no reason to shut you out. They understand perfectly that people make mistakes, they will even be willing to help you resolve your issues. Being honest with the INFJ and trying not to hurt them, is all you truly need to do... If down the road (a long long way down the road) the person who was shut out appears to be changing their lives and making better choices, the INFJ may consider giving them another chance. They will definitely be more cautious, building walls to prevent this person from hurting them again. They may consider being friends with this person, but they will likely never regain the closeness that they had before."
I have given second chances before. It's true, the relationship will never be quite the same. I may become friendly with the people again, but once my trust is gone, it is never regained fully. Basically this means that an INFJ theme song for most people they love is  ***"Ain't no Mountain High Enough" but then if pushed to the brink it's "My life" by Billy Joel.

As with every personality, an INFJ has it's struggles but I love who I am and what personality I work out of the world with. I often think of people before something significant happens to them. The ones I love occupy my dreams in almost psychic ways and I often know when someone is pregnant, breaking up, or considering a life changing decision. My children think it is uncanny how the phone can ring and I will yell out who it is before they can check the caller ID. I'm not often wrong about this type of connection, if ever, but that sounds pompous. When I am wrong, I know it. I simply trust myself no matter how many doubt. There is a certain darkness surrounding INFJS but most of the magic comes from light. We can see both sides often because we experience both sides simultaneously. 

"...please always trust your INFJ magic. Because it's real. It's legit. You are magic. You know things no one else knows, and you feel things no one else can feel, and you can predict what will come to pass with remarkable accuracy. You are hyper-intuitive in a way that almost literally seems like magic. You may think about people just before they call or text you, or dream about something that comes to pass, or ask exactly the right question because you already know the answer without knowing how you know. Your incredible intuition is a thing to behold. It is your superpower. Trust it. Know that your gut is usually right. Don't be bullied into second-guessing yourself. You know what's going on well before anyone else does."

At lunch I told my family I was writing a post about me and in one sentence to describe me without any further description of my post. My eldest daughter replied, "Mom. Creative, cute, weird, interesting, fun and hilarious." My eldest son laughed, "Hilarious, awkward, and other stuff." My youngest son smiled and said,"Cute, funny, weird and sweet." And my husband's response was my favourite, "You are an Impasse and Aporia (which my spell check wrote as apple rehab)... an impossible possibility."

That about sums up an impossible possibility. I am charmed by each personality and could write beautiful insights into each and the struggles that are unique to certain workings of the world. Even within shared personality letters we each have our own individual stamp of unique qualities. INFJ's are simply another magical piece of the human complexity.

To read more this site cracked me up with it's profane and purity: and here are many of my favourite INFJ pins:

My Life ( glee version of Billy Joel):

It has been said that INFJS are apt chameleons so I thought this song was a fun one for that in honour of the late, great Bowie:

My husband also suggested this song. He says her lyrics and actions remind him of the complexity and fire of the INFJness...ha ha I guess only an INFJ could take that as a fun joke and compliment...