Upon waking I had the thought," Oh it's only thursday? Nuts, I thought it was friday....Wait a minute! Since when do I think like that? Since when did I start living for weekends again? I have not thought like that in years since we implemented healthy changes in our lifestyle, diet, and work habits. Work days are often wonderful because my husband gets off earlier than most, comes home for lunch, and even texts when he can. We get to enjoy each other while having sufficient time apart. The kids and I usually have a nice little groove- So what is with this living for the weekend crap?"
I realized shortly thereafter that it most likely started when my husband was working an hour out of town for seven months this year. His job switched back to local right when his mom died. It's been three months and the adjustment time has been prolonged. I keep forgetting he is actually around and that we have a shorter work week than most and shorter hours. I think he has also forgotten this in his seven month habit of looking forward to less work and being home on weekends. We keep our life mostly simple. We had simply forgotten the abundance that is ours.
Finances and Mr. Money Moustache
Mr. Money Moustache keeps me on my toes. My life is not totally lived in the Moustachian way. From all my studies in philosophy I believe there are hundreds of ways to live a fulfilling life, and his is only one of them, but he has some good reminders, points and suggestions for the North Americans swimming in debt. Sometimes he helps me re prioritize my time and money. We are generally pretty free in both areas, but recently, probably in light of the last few months of struggle, we got ourselves in a spending pickle. We spent more than we had. Which is dumb. Luckily, it was only a few months worth of debt so I think we can pull ourselves out, with a few changes, within the year hopefully. But still, the sooner I could have recognized the issue - the sooner the changes could have been made. We are also amazing at having not much on our plate except for exactly what we want. Some may think we have gone a little too far in that area. While, from time to time, we may contemplate a few scheduled events as beneficial, after awhile we usually see that these do not add much to our quality of life other than the illusion that we are doing something for our kids or to add to the human race...but really does it?
Mr. Money Moustache has a post HERE that talks about practical ways you can make space for better financing, early retirement, and enjoying basic beauty in life. He ends his controversial money and time post with a few good pointer tips at the end. If you are struggling at all with stresses of time or money I highly recommend reading it all the way through even though the beginning may make you feel highly annoyed or maybe even slightly judged if you are in a similar place. Just remember, it's important to be stretched in our views. To realize that maybe we CAN implement necessary endings of debt or time debt and still have quality lives. Most of all, it is important to choose quality of life over quantity but to remind ourselves that for each person, this may have similar concept choices, but could play out a little differently. A good life is what you make it. And this is coming from someone who struggles with health and depression from time to time. Yet, I firmly believe that just because I am depressed does not mean I do not have a good life. It also does not mean that I have somehow failed. Sometimes life throws unfair curve balls. We live and learn and we all have our exceptions but we also are part of the human race and in this we can make some challenging changes too.
*I also highly recommend this post if you are a consumer of the daily news. I make sure I stay away from all new sources in general:http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet/
Montaigne the Philosopher and a Blog Disclaimer
Sometimes a book screams at me from my library shelves. For days my eyes are drawn to whatever book it is, until I finally pick it up. As always, I wish I had listened to my gut calling sooner because it is always a title I need at the given time. The latest book spoken was one I had read previously called, "How to Live- the Life of Montaigne in one Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer" By Sarah Blakewell (click)".
I feel I must put in a disclaimer here as I seem to be getting loads of new readers to this space. Please know that ANY link, blog or book, idea or story that I put into this space, I may not fully subscribe to myself. If it is on here- then it means that a great nugget of truth was worth discovering, deciphering and taking what I need and leaving what I don't. I recommend this approach with every subject and life choice one makes. I feel it is important to be critical of subject matter while also offering up an open mind to gracefully engage and come out with morsels of challenge, change and beauty. If it's on here- I think it was worth it but I am NOT saying that it will completely be YOUR change nor that you should gobble it up. I am however, giving my stories, and my experiences into this space, because frankly it's mine and a privilege of writing, but I am not one to engage in judgement for all or to believe that only one way will work or that everyone must read what I do. These are suggestions that have enhanced MY life. You get decide how, what, when, who will enhance YOURS.
Anyway, I found there were many aspects of Montaigne's life and writing I could relate to. For instance he struggled with aspects of memory but for him, he made the argument that, "His apparent modesty on this subject (memory) can also be translated into a subtle claim to virtues which he thought more important. One of these, ironically, was honesty. As the old saying had it, bad memories make bad liars. If Montaigne was too forgetful to keep stories straight in his head, he had to tell the truth....People with good memories have cluttered minds, but his brain was so blissfully empty that nothing could get in the way of common sense. Finally, he easily forgot any slight inflicted on him by others, and therefore bore few resentments. In short, he presented himself as floating through the world on a blanket of benevolent vacancy... Instead he could recover feelings from the inside not perfectly, because the Hercalitan stream kept carrying him away but very closely. The nineteenth century psychologist Dugald Stewart speculated that Montaigne's lack of control of his memory made him better at such tasks. Montaigne was attuned to the kind of involuntary memory that would one day fascinate Proust: Those blasts from the past that irrupt unexpectedly into the present, perhaps in response, to a long forgotten taste or smell. Such moments seem possible only if they are surrounded by an ocean of forgetfulness, as a well as a suitable mood and sufficient leisure." (pgs 71 and 72) Ahhh I love sufficient leisure:)
My mother says I have the worst memory. It's true yet it is not. I can not recall most things but I ABSORB them. I will not be able to sum up a favourite book but it is within my personality. The words are literally absorbed into my essence and personal philosophy even if I cannot quote one single sentence. I will not be able to recall an anniversary but I celebrate each day of my marriage with my husband. I can not recall why I was mad at my husband ten minutes after the fact which makes it incredibly easy to forgive and move on. If my anger has abated and he makes an attempt to apologize I will often say, "I forget why we were fighting, do not remind me, but if you are truly sorry as am I, then let's move on. Life is too short to worry about it." However, there are some negative big moments that I remember either because they were so traumatizing I had to remember them to get counselled in them, or because the sensory aspect of them stuck in my brain.
I agree that my memory response is very detailed if triggered by a long forgotten taste, sound or smell. Then my memory is so vivid, it is like I am there in movie form, reliving each moment according to my own perspective. Thus, my memory of childhood events that I do recall, are not like my mothers, because they are coming from my sensory appeal that only I can relate to. These are things I did not know how to discuss as an undiagnosed Aspie, so I pasted a smile on my face and pretended to be normal. It came out in fears later. And though it may have come out in short dramatic, glimpses, no one but me knew how much I struggled at those moments. Those moments, I CAN recall. The same goes for some positive sensory moments, like laying on my grandmother's warm shag rug carpet and hearing her knees softly crack and her bracelets clink together as she walked towards me smelling of roses. I can recall what she wore and exactly how she looked. Like Montaigne, I can recover feelings from the INSIDE. Memories come from within and not from without.
In my adult life, I have forced myself to remember a few instances of pain from a few select people because otherwise I fall into naive trusting. This is a form of boundary my husband helps me implement because otherwise my faulty memory will allow others who have hurt me to continually help themselves to my plate of life, until I am triggered by a bad experience and remember it happened before. My husband gustily laughed when an email from a light acquaintance accused me of holding grudges. If one can not remember, they can not hold grudges. Instead I hold boundaries or I write important events down after they happen, to read again when I am tempted to peace make someone back into my life. I have a strong sense of harmony that sometimes does me a great disservice. Luckily, I also have a counter balancing stubborn streak with high ideals. I have to hold strong boundaries because otherwise I would be a victim unknowingly.
Montaigne seemingly jumps from topic to topic with ranging titles yet it is all connected in his brain. Most of my readers will recognize this style in myself. I found it a relief that a great thinker and writer also engaged in this crazy, long winded title of self explanation and life scrutiny. In him I found a kindred writer's soul. This post is an example, and at the end, the reader will hopefully see how all these subjects tie in together.
INFJ Articles, Explanations and Enrichment and Boundaries
"As an INFJ, I have spent a lifetime curating a view of the world that is infinitely nuanced and complex. My extroverted sensing is constantly feeding me new information that enriches that system of ideas. My joy, my wonder, is in looking forward, thinking about all of the things I do not yet know and running toward them with wonder, anticipating what they may teach me and how they may make me better, wiser, and stronger." Wendy Neeld wrote this on her post Passion For Tomorrow INFJ from one of my favourite blogs on personality- The INFJ Unraveled (click). Not all personalities are like INFJ's and I have known some people who this type of regard for the world would drive them to stress.
About her INFJ regard for future possibilities mixed with current friendships, Wendy writes, "The past cannot guarantee the future. My energy, my emotional output is limited. I choose to spend it on the friendships, the bonds that carry me forward. I want wonders to rise from firm foundations rather than try to repair those structures that have crumbled past usability. For some, that focus is harsh or even incomprehensible. “We’ve known each other for years. Of course we’re friends.” The past guarantees the present. Anything else is cold and cruel. I don’t believe that. As an INFJ, I think of good relationships as complex things built on shared ideas, passions, and stories. Good relationships are partnerships, bonds of trust in which two individuals share something so profound that it pulls them forward, side by side. To hold on to something that fails to do that is destructive. Who I was is only a step on the way to who I will become. If you cannot stride forward with your eyes on the same light as mine, I may love you, but I cannot walk with you."
I have been accused of being cold or cruel, but as any other INFJ can attest to, we have layers of complexity. We have a mushy centre but that probably will only be shown, entrusted, or given to less than a handful of people in our entire lives. For the rest, there are varying degrees of this and on the outside, we can seem cold, and probably prefer to have it that way. We need to guard our energy. Good relationships ARE complex and deserve to have that respect. I used to keep each relationship in my life with openness and sharing. I gave all my energy and information to other people instead of to the most crucial relationships in my life, without any boundaries. I paid. It was destructive for all parties. Just like spending cuts and time cuts, we also need to allow ourselves to cut walking paths with relationships. We can still love, but we do not have to walk the same paths.
Some people think this blog is a huge light into my inner world. While I would say it's definitely deeper than what I present in most situations, I would still not call it the deeper end of my reflections. It is a genuine facet of my being and writing is integral to whom I am as a process, but it is not me or my ideals in entirety. It is also open to the perspective of the reader which changes everything.
As an INFJ, I need epic amounts of time to myself, otherwise I "chameleon affect" other people continuously and get exhausted. As it was put HERE, "That ability to mirror is powerful, and it can be used. When you have a knack for showing people what they want to see, everyone has a different image of who you are – an image that frequently resembles their idea of themselves.Year in and year out, I have students and administrators who think they’re my dear friends. They tell me that we’re “just alike.” Or, my favorite among older faculty and administrators, that I remind them “of a younger version of myself.” Actually, they’re just seeing me instinctively mirror them; they see surprisingly little of me. Do I let them remain under the impression that they know me? Of course...Yes, mirroring is exhausting, even when you’re doing it instinctively. It contributes to social burnout and makes the INFJ need to escape from interactions with others. But when you’re in the midst of it? In the moment? You know how to create the needed connections; you get caught up in the reflection, and quite frequently, you totally empathize. Until the mirror falls empty again."
This sounds a little non empathetic and INFJ's are supposed to be known for their empathy. The fact is, IN THE MOMENT, we ARE completely empathetic because we actually can feel what the other person feels. INFP's tend to mirror more from their own perspective while INFJ's tend to mirror as an extension of self which I would rather call the "chameleon affect" instead of mirroring like the author above puts it. Neither one is better and both are simultaneously selfish and self giving...at least there is an element in both that give to the other person, which is more than can be said of other ways of interacting.
"People who love INFJs sometimes get frustrated. They don’t WANT us to yield decisions to them or try to please them. They love us no matter what…can’t we understand that? Yeah, we understand. But it’s really hard for us to not be aware of their needs and wants and mirror the things that make them happy. In order to do that, to really know an INFJ, takes a huge amount of time and patience. It requires building the trust that lets an INFJ not mirror you. That’s hard…and even with that trust, instinct often prevails."
This is very true for my past self. Learning boundaries I can now say that I do it less, but I still do it. The only people I can say I hardly ever mirror are my husband and children. Even then, if they need some compassionate empathy, I do feel that mirroring is often the best way that they feel heard and respected. I can change into someone else in gesture, word and deed. It's why I did well in drama class when I was not inhibited by being in the spotlight that I so hated. An INFP is more of the mirror that does this as an extension of self but their own emotions are the starting point. Both types do this instinctively because they know deep down that people generally like to see themselves in others. It's just a fact. It's not some cold, calculating relational tactic. It is simply a fall back habit from years of giving others what they subconsciously want. We see the patterns and it's easy to do. I don't generally chameleon people I don't respect or have been constantly rude to me in the past. However, I will give them enough of what they want so that they leave me alone. I like to fly under the radar. If all else fails, I will put up a wall and make myself seem like I have no personality. That's a door slam and you can read about it on my INFJ extensive post HERE.
It is a relief to be able to be alone where I can fully just give to myself and BE. I relish my home life because I can just be honest in full expression. I am not fully myself at my parent's home or any other place. It's not because I do not love them nor them me, or that I am even fake, but because the chameleon affect runs that deeply. Environments affect how I act and the people involved are a huge aspect of that.
While the mirroring IS honest in the moment, it's not the honest package of my inner core. It's simply an outer layer. It's honest in the way that we all are honest when we exchange pleasantries, except it takes it deeper, so that other people feel validated and heard. I don't think that is being tricksy or inconsiderate. It is simply one part habit and character, and another part validation and care in a way that most people can not explain. I just am aware now, when I come out of it, of what I just did. Where as, before I read articles of explanation, I would come out of a conversation wondering what just happened that the person thinks I am so like them when I know I am clearly not. Now I know that I am just accessing different aspects of my persona or parts that I COULD relate on so I decide to relate. Before one comes to the conclusion that those of my type are wishy washy or constantly doing the chameleon, obviously you have not really known an INFJ, because we have a lot of gut instinct and strong ideals that are able to be put on hold in any situation.
We are just very good at controlling our opinions outside of our own (writing, home, close friend) spaces. We can hide these strong ideals in most situations or only give an inkling of what they are, but when we are directly challenged, we know what we want and what we believe. I am fine walking away from a conversation with the other person believing that they got the better of me. Because deep down I know what I believe. But I used to feel that I had to explain, explain, explain. That was a mistake. It wasted my energy and I was STILL misunderstood. Thus I save my explanations for seemingly safe places. I enjoy my privacy and have moved blogs so many times to stay illusive. But now I don't have the energy to do that. Maybe again one day, but I have learned that I have the right to say what is authentic to me and anyone else can leave. That does not mean that I won't guard my spaces heavily in real life and conceal to feel.
"If you read online descriptions of the INFJ personality type, you’ll hear that INFJs are strongly principled, and that we will defend those ideals, even if it offends. That’s true – because we know what we believe... We know they’re ours. They’re not mirrored; they’re determined by gut intuition and refined by self-critical, questioning Introverted Thinking. We know our beliefs, and in a way we associate them with our identity. If you challenge those beliefs…you’ve challenged us, who we are, what we know, and you will meet resistance."
It's important for fellow INFJ's or others with this tendency to also realize that we can still walk away from a challenge of self with our persona intact. I will be resistant in spirit, but I don't necessarily need to explain, discuss or even acknowledge my disagreement anymore. This is something I learned once I turned thirty. While I WILL fight back somehow in another way, usually in some form of self expression, it does NOT have to be with that person who offended my ideals. Instead I take that energy into a creative outlet instead of wasting it on someone who misunderstands or looks for ill intent where there isn't any.
Tender Activists Link by Hillary Rain
An INFJ may or may not understand their chameleon empathy but I can say that there is an aspect of it that is compassionate feeling. We ARE empaths because of our innate ability to pick up on patterns, details and observations. I know women are pregnant before they do, not because I am psychic but because I see the slight change in behaviour, body and I pick up on the patterns of the past to make a deduction of the NOW. It all happens very quickly and I have learned my gut instinct is 96% always right. This ability, if acknowledged and practiced, can be a loving gift to the world. Introverts and Empaths are often the people who are willing to fight injustice with quiet intuition, guidance and truth. I am a very validating person in most conversations because I BELIEVE people. I allow them to BE whomever they are, in whatever messy state they are, and still see beauty. Even my enemies hold beauty I see. I also know they sharpen my life. Does it mean that I let them in my life in large amounts? Nope. But it does meant that I recognize what they give to their friends and I respect it. Hillary Rain is a fellow Idealist and INFP wrote about 'The Tender Activist' (HERE -click) ; "You can say, “I don’t want you to be alone.” You can listen with compassion and most importantly—you can believe them. Believe what they tell you. Believe when they say, “This hurts,” and agree, “This is wrong.” Choose to go into the heart of injustice and pain. Risk your reputation. Risk your comfort. Be willing. Be seen choosing the side of the oppressed. Be a safe place." This is how all of the subjects in my title tie in together. In order to be a safe place there are a few factors involved:
1.) The ability to be honest about time and money balance. To challenge oneself to be responsible in these areas to free up money and time for the stuff that matters.
2.) The ability to understand oneself and accept this understanding. To see the messy and the beauty in the mind, body and soul and to allow it to shape one's life. A fulfilling life is the search within brought up in honesty, wisdom and entertainment. Free roaming explorations are connected because they are a part of whom one is.
3.) Once one has glimmers of themselves it is ok to seek out honesty in expression. It is also perfectly acceptable to see the yin yang of self improvement and allow yourself to simultaneously be challenged into beauty but also accept where you ARE and to simply leisurely BE.
4.) Healthy, balanced activism can not happen until you are a safe place for yourself. Otherwise, it may help strangers but not those directly in your path. It may be more important to start with self, be the change for those that you live with day in and day out, and then if you still have energy spread more through out the world. If each of us did this, change would be an unstoppable force. We can be a safe place for others when we are safe places for ourselves. Some times this is not possible and that is ok. A safe place does not mean that you lack depression, normal human emotion, anger or any other form of considered flaw to some religions. A safe place means that you are willing to accept those messy bits in yourself so that you do not judge them in others. A safe place is a place of welcome as ONE IS. It is a HOME in every sense of the word. A true home is a mix of chaos and order, messy living and comfort living, beauty and pain.
5.)Some people are extroverts who will go out into the world and seemly make big splashes. Others are introverts who will not seem to make any outer changes, yet their behind the scenes work may change the world in far reaching ripples of effect. Both are valuable ways to be.
I hope, within my messy beauty, you will also give yourself permission to find your own messy beauty. It may be similar to mine. It may be quite different. Celebrate it home.
P.S. A link I also wanted to point to is 8 Things that Happen when Your Son has Long Hair (Click). Both my sons have long hair and I could have written this post word for word. Again, it ties into this post, "No matter what he decides to do with his hair, I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him for following through with a goal, despite the rude comments and social norms. I'm proud of him for saying, "This is me, and I like me, no matter what you think." And to think he learned all of this through his hair."
Song Choices: Plenty to be Thankful For- Bing Crosby, Crash This train- Joshua James, Give me the Simple LIfe- Steve Tyrell, Hello Brother- Louis Armstrong.