Thursday, July 14, 2016

Links Regarding Finances/ Mr. Money Moustache, Montaigne, A Blog Life Disclaimer, INFJ's and Quiet Activism

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:

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 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.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Don't Worry Baby: Anemia, Depression, Grief, Anxiety and Music.

My youngest was curled up in my bed early morning due to weather which is his only trigger for anxiety. My exceptionally brave son is suddenly a wreck when the winds blow in. After multiple times of asking me if he could throw up, I heard his little voice quaver, "Mom, do I have anxiety?" I chuckled and kissed his freckled cheek soundly and responded,"This is undoubtedly anxiety. Feeling like you are going to puke because you have been shaking and your teeth have been chattering because you are so upset is part of worry. It affects everything. You are not going to throw up if you calm down a bit. Don't worry baby, storms never last. We do our best to stay safe and leave the rest which will happen if it happens. There is not much you can do but let mommy and daddy take care of it and rest. Let go and rest my son." And I stroke his brow and get in more kisses on his forehead because I know that one day he won't be snuggled up to me anymore. I savour for the sake of my future self.

Now if only I could take my own heartfelt advice when it comes to my own life. Sensory overload can cause a full load of anxiety on any given day. I call that my usual stress. It's part and parcel of being different in a world that asks me to conform. But then there are my panic triggers. And then there are just stresses that when I am in a logical state of mind, I can address quite promptly. Or maybe I can address them but I still feel the tension building up inside of me despite my heroics in the rationality department. Anxiety is not a friend.

An example of something ridiculous that still causes me angsty emotions would be spider mites. Yup, spider mites. Anam Cara houses 94 plants but today I am down to 92 and have spent the better part of two hours scrubbing and soaping down ivy in my shower, hoping to save twelve more but two had to be burnt they were so infested. It was a mistake to bring in a plant from outside. I felt it in my gut, but like all bad decisions in my life, I ignored my intuition. It happens. To be honest, I am glad that I found the cause of my brittle yellow plant leaves. I couldn't figure out why for months a few of my plants, despite proper placement, watering and care, were still dying. It kind of kept me up at night. Ha ha. Seriously, when there is not an obvious cause my brain works overtime until I find one.

As I mentioned before, I struggle with insomnia and this season is awful. When my husband and I were trying to calm down our son during the storm my brilliant husband put on christmas music. Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby were crooning, "Count your blessings instead of sheep" and I realized that while I try to do this every night to go to sleep, I was going about it all wrong. Maybe, I just need to set it to music because when I start counting all the gratitude moments I also remember all the counter moments. With music, it feels more soothing. "When my bank roll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all, and I go to sleep counting my blessings. I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads, and one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds. If you're worried and you can't sleep. Just count your blessings instead of sheep and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings." Sometimes I just keep whispering, "gratitude...I'm thankful. They are happy and healthy. They are safe in their beds, my husband is snoring and I am snug in a place many would give their life savings for...gratitude..." over and over because if I start thinking about my kids being happy and healthy, as an INFJ I will start thinking of the kids who are not this way...and then the thoughts tumble into a dark abyss of negative humanity until I can pull myself back out and the cycle starts over again.

I tend to embrace life wholeheartedly- the struggles and the good. Right now, the season seems to be struggle. Sticky situations happen. Sleep depravity and health don't aid the issue. My ferritin dropped again and I am getting so tired of being BONE WEARY exhausted. That happens when you don't have enough oxygen to go to your organs. Every day is a feat. Every moment of normality comes at a cost. Sometimes I want to scream that it is unfair when I do almost everything "right. " Or yell that I am too young for this and too young to hurt so much from WALKING. Sometimes I get desperate enough to complain to a new doctor but nothing ever comes of it except me feeling stupid later. I also hate hearing the standard, "up your iron intake" despite the fact that I have upped it and been on therapy for three years with not much improvement. I like knowing cause and I don't seem to have one except for my own theory that Lyme is causing this. I need to see my naturopath again but can't get in until october so I am just coping. I need support and I should have realized this sooner so that is on me. "Bartender pour the wine- cuz the hurtin’s on mine. Tonight the heartaches on me.”- Dixie Chicks

I need to take responsibility for my woes. I need to relax and accept once again. Re define what makes a good life and what it is that makes me worthy. If my heart goes out to those who seem hard on their luck- why can't it go out to myself? Ridiculously, my body image is what is causing the most issues psychologically. I don't feel shame about this as I know most people struggle with self image from time to time, but it's not something I generally prefer talking about. While I have always had a fairly healthy self esteem, I have had my share of mirror gazing too. Right now it feels like too many factors are stacked against me. I mostly want to hide. I have gained weight due to insomnia and depression, I have lost hair due to Ferritin dropping even more and my grey hairs are popping out all over. Pigmentation above my lip looks like I am growing a moustache in the summer tan effect and to top it off my skin managed to get a bad case of folliculitis from a hot tub (I will regret that decision for a very long time.) While I realize some of these things can eventually be masked or even "fixed" they all add up. I feel decades older than I am. Losing my hair the last few years has been quite hard on my self esteem. I don't think people realize until they have been through it how much hair affects our perceptions of each other and of self. It symbolizes good health, youth, beauty, sex and reproduction.

I am reframing my perceptions and mentalities about such subjects but I can't tackle a couple decades worth of preconditioning in one year. Some days I come out with the "screw it all- I am worthy and wonderful" mentality and other days it's an effort to want to look in the mirror. Yup, I am a work in progress. It may seem frivolous but anyone who believes that they do not give some consideration to their health or appearance and how that affects their day to day lives are lying to themselves. It is especially tough because I walk every day and I have not touched sugar for over three years nor gluten for that matter. I enjoy my natural foods but sometimes when I see a healthy person enjoying an ice cream or a chocolate bar I think, "How the heck does that work? How do they stay fit and healthy and yet are filling their system with chemicals and crap? And I am still sick while I snack on vegetables, meat and fruit? WTF." Oh well, blessed genes I suppose or maybe they are so carefree their mentality just seeps into their body fabric? I don't know what I believe about the mind body connection but I know it is a thing...however, I also do not believe that crap that we are everything we eat or do. Because some very health conscious, positively vibe minded, good decision makers get cancer and some beer bellied, smoking, junk food obsessed wife beaters live till their really who is to say? I suppose, like most things in life I fall on the paradox platter. I believe in both contextually and depending. It's so fun to be me.

My husband is in grief on and off due to losing his mother three months ago- and grief comes in epic tidal waves. It's always there, like waves lapping against the shore gently and some days are even perfectly ordinary, but then a trigger or a moment happens and the grief can be debilitating. Grief is awful and yet...yet...there is hidden beauty too. Most times it's not beautiful but then there is the odd moment, when way after midnight he is crying in my arms and we decide to go outside. The world is quiet, the sky is dark out to the west with stars lighting up our view. We feel alone even though we are surrounded by neighbours. We sit on the porch and watch a cat toy with it's prey in the darkness. Tears slip down his face and I am captured by his beauty. I run my fingers through his long, shaggy hair (coveted by me) over and over and his face glistens in the moonlight as it tightens with pain at another memory. I listen silently. The wind brings in sounds of summer and fragrant rose and a whiff of grass. It almost feels sacred. The moment is a hush of letting go and holding on.

There are other moments that are only ours and not for the world to know. Then there are moments that the darkness is forever enveloping. Some other struggles will pass with time and I don't need to speak upon them. But it all adds up. Yet, life is LIFE. I feel the joy of it while I sink deeper in the muck. Do you feel it? Do you feel the pain but somewhere, somehow there is also abundance? I believe one can still be depressed while appreciating life. I am an expert on varied forms of depression and they are not all textbook cases. But perhaps right now mine is anxiety and life circumstance based. Plus the world is just crazy but it always has been- we just have quick media to spread the knowledge of injustice quicker perhaps? I try to stay away from the news but of course I hear things and it effects me.

I wish I could say don't worry baby and that everything really would turn out all right. But life is full. In those moments sometimes all I can do to get through life myself is to listen to the Beach Boys sing "Don't worry baby" on full blast, late at night, for two full hours repeating, while writing a post, because that is literally the string that is keeping my sanity in tact. When my ears feel tired I will know I am ready to move on. My daughter comes in and asks me to turn it down while indulgently kissing my cheek. I move the sound from the bluetooth to the computer speakers and I know that my music time is coming to a close. But that is ok. I feel purged. I listened to my instincts. Writing is a bleeding out of my soul...I always feel at least 60% better after I craft a post and put it out into the void. Music can sometimes get me to 80% even in a depression. At least short term. I feel that music has been my medicine. When I can not take medication for depression ( due to side effects) music has saved me from life moments that can not be given back. Pop, rock, jazz, oldies, country, opera, broadway, metal...each of them, at differing moments, have expressed my soul in ways that I could not have healthily expressed otherwise. Music is what my feelings sound like. My music will tell more about me than I will ever tell myself and if I can't explain I will find a song that can.

Thank you net universe for the free therapy. I came to the computer with a heavy heart and now I leave with a lighter soul. Music and writing...the way I cope with life. "Oh I'm a mess right now. Inside out. Searching for a sweet surrender but this is not the end. I can't work it out. How? Going through the motions..."- Ed Sheeran lyrics.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Summer is My Winter. Seasons that Affect My Sensory Overload and Depression

The colours, new life, and warmth are all reasons to adore Summer. It's especially ideal to walk out the front door without needing layers and boots for minus 25 degrees Celsius, or preparing myself for snow drifts and epic ice. Green is a beautiful reprieve from white and the smell of my wild roses near my front door evoke a sense of home, peace and well being. I love to blast my country music or classic rock on back roads and find nooks to drive and make out in with my husband. Yea, I am a true country gal in some regards. Within all of this beauty, some may be surprised to find out that summer is, without a doubt, the toughest season for me. I look upon summer similar to how most regard winter.

Winter suits my introverted soul even though there are aspects of the season I struggle with. I feel less guilt in general being snowed inside to pursue all that I naturally am inclined to do. Baking, reading by the fireside, researching, online communication, cleaning my home, renovating my home, engaging in a creative project, watching shows, visiting inside with friends, being conveniently snowed in from friends, warm blankets, warm food, warm hearth, isolation...these all are suited to cold weather and thus, there are less social sanctions for enjoying them in minus whatever degree weather.

I am the same person in the summer yet I feel a bit more guilt doing the things I enjoy regularly. I feel a bit of pressure to be doing more. I get edgy. If it's warm out, I feel the expectation that I should be outside with my kids DOING something. I enjoy a bit of gardening and activity, but I don't enjoy being pressured to do anything. In fact, if someone tells me blatantly what to do, it's often a guarantee that I won't do it unless I originally wanted to. But the weather has a hold on me like no person can. I actually feel the expectation FROM the weather less than society. Which is absurd I know, but it's there none the less. I realize seasons bring change and different aspects of living. I try to embrace those. But just like anyone who has one season that may be a little tougher, my reasons are legitimate even within adaptation.

Summer is often the time I schedule more appointments. When others are taking holidays I am trying to get the dentists, doctors, OT specialists, psychotherapy and any other type of appointment my children, husband or I need booked. Because I find it easier to drive or ideally walk, in summer conditions. It's also easier on a sensory level, to walk out into greenery and sunshine after a traumatic appointment and feel hope, then to go home in freezing conditions, after pre warming the vehicle to sit at home isolated. That is an aspect of summer I LOVE. My anxiety in this regard goes down. I feel that if I lived in a place where winter was obsolete or extreme weather conditions, aspects of sensory overload anxiety would be more manageable. But I still would not be able to move anywhere that did not have a good, long winter.

While summer brings some positives that I try to stay focused on, like long walks with the kids and more spontaneous activities due to good conditions, it is the winter of my soul. I tend to hibernate inward in the summer. I am less inclined to social activities in general. I feel barren and slightly ill at ease. Autumn is the season when I thrive the most and the end of summer delightfully leads into this. The end of August soothes my heart, after the many months of restless edginess which tends to begin sometime in Spring. Autumn is the perfect mix of staying in and going out. It is filled with milder temperatures and beauty but also cold days encouraging all that is inside. I am starting to find that Spring also has this affect but slightly less beautiful.

I tend to foster more of a Stoic attitude towards life. I have a few Epicurean inclinations....emphasis on FEW, but in general, from budget to emotional life- I am inclined to see life in the terms of Stoicism. While I am not indifferent to bliss or pain, and feel things deeply at times, my house is also the opposite of what most Stoics would consider appropriate. I love the ease of travel and shopping in the summer. I dislike though, how I am most tempted by purchases and our consumerism culture in the summer which goes against most of my stoic budget choices the rest of the year. This fact probably contributes to my dis ease with summer. I have to actually fight against tendencies I do not normally have as much. While I love my home stuff and will always be surrounded by the comforts of home, I will not just purchase something for the sake of spending. In that, I would never actually describe myself AS a Stoic, however, one of my core philosophies is that in order to have a good and meaningful life one needs to overcome their insatiability... or the constant pursuit of new pleasures. I partake in negative visualization. I was told, growing up, that this was pessimism or that I was being angsty about the future, but most of the time it was creating the opposite affect in me. Visualizing negative outcomes or verbalizing them, suddenly would make me very grateful for the moment, less anxious, and more in tune with what I have. Maybe this doesn't work for some people but negative visualization has often worked for me. I know when I kiss my kids good night that it could be my last kiss to them, so I savour it more. That said, I do not wallow in that thought. If I were to indulge too deeply in that thought, I would turn it into anxiety. But most times I do not.

This attitude also affects my seasons. I know that nature is nature. Summer is necessary. I accept the untold beauties that come along with it as well as the pain. I love all seasons in general and would not do well in a climate that has two instead of four. Yet, it still helps for me to realize why I can sometimes struggle more with depression during certain seasons of the year. When I am aware of the trigger then I can regard my overload and depression with a certain regard of yin and yang. I know that my depression has taught me many rewarding lessons on what makes a valuable life. It has also been debilitating. I take both factors seriously. The sun plays a major factor in my health. Ironically, I see more sun in the winter where I live then in the summer. Often in the summer our weather can't make up it's mind...ok, that's pretty much a standard expectation for where we are in Canada in ALL seasons, but in the summer it is especially true. The weather is literally a topic for conversation because of it's diversity. We are shaped by this epic force that creates Chinooks and dramatic changes. The wind picks up and whips in cold at the tail end of a hot spell. Often clouds block the sun for days and I can't handle the whims as much as I can in the Autumn/ Winter/ Early Spring. Because in the later seasons, one factor is often consistent- the expectation that it will be cold. At least one factor stays the same. It's VERY rare to fluctuate between wearing shorts and tank or a coat and warm coverings during the rest of the year but it happens in the Summer. These quick adjustments are tough on someone who often can not decide what is temperature appropriate on the best of days.

I like the idea of summer. I have a whole board on pinterest dedicated to Home Charm which is mostly summertime countryside. I also have one pin board dedicated to outdoor picnics. Summer is a colourful palate of visual appreciation. But I can enjoy that as pictures without actually having to be in it every day. I do love a walk in the Forrest on a sun dappled day. I appreciate the beauty when the sun is out, but I would rather have a cloudy day with snow, than a cloudy day, tempting green, but not conducive to my typically cold self in the summer. Or worse an extremely windy day with hot sun that tempts me to enjoy the warmth but creates such sensory overload and sore ears that it's impossible to do anything of value peaceably. I prefer those winds in the winter because they really don't affect me unless I have to be outside. Wind is also a lovely aspect of nature. I love how it moves the pollen from flower to flower or whips the air into a frenzy. Witnessing/appreciating and being outside are two different things. I think both are legitimate and both suit differing personalities.

My husband calls me the White Witch of Summer. He says this is when I am seasonally at my crankiest. When the sun is out I am most often on my deck warming up my *always* cold body. It's another part of summer I am in puppy love with...the extra vitamin D is a boost too, but summer holds the most triggers sensory wise for me. And when a person with sensory overload is triggered, crankiness does ensue. In our defence, we are dealing with a lot. As I wrote about HERE (click) Often those with sensory overload can feel the overwhelming amounts of visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory information that is coming from everyone in the room. Remember the last time you had a really bad flu? Picture yourself in your darkened room and suddenly someone turns on the light, another person comes in smelling like whatever you just threw up, someone else blasts some music that is high pitched, you hear talk of people who just died from the same flu you are fighting and you suddenly feel paranoid, your headache flares and someone decides that you will feel better if you are forced to walk around, finally someone comes and sits in your space and tries to talk to you while you are dealing with all of this. It sounds dramatic but that is often a typical moment for those of us who experience sensory overload in a large unfamiliar gathering with many factors involved." Anyone would be a tad bit touchy feeling all of that, eh? Well, summer holds the most environmental sensory overload for me UNLESS I HAVE to be outside, and then it would probably switch to winter. Really, I must consider context.

I oddly gain weight in late spring and early summer. Those winter pounds everyone else packs on? Rarely happens to me...maybe I gather an extra two pounds or so midwinter, but every single summer I gain about ten that I have to lose over the Autumn. Why? Because I typically struggle with a bit of seasonal depression (odd for most doctors to get as it is not the typical season most people suffer in) and I lose sleep. I become a complete insomniac. I am deeply affected by nature. Nature contributes to my moods and whims. I can feel the anger in a devastated wetland mowed down for people's visual appeal. I can sense storms or weather changes coming hours away in my bones before they are often reported in the local network. Wind makes me both restless and freshens my senses. Water is always appealing in weather if I can be inside to enjoy it and the sun is my strength. The sun warms up my blood and gives light to my darkness. Speaking of darkness, I generally do better with average light during the day. A balance between dark and light. I love the dark night sky but I also love light hours that prolong the day. The toughest time in winter for me is just before Solstice because of the imbalance of dark. Yet, I also struggle near the Summer Solstice with too much light. I keep longer hours and have higher expectations to do so, which I dislike.

The earth brings me the most comfort when it is decaying. I feel it ripen in excitement and gradually accept it's fate with dignity and beauty. I love that grace. I love Autumn. Weather, as it did to our ancestors of old, affects every aspect of my being, even though I enjoy the benefits of shelter and modern convenience. The effects are perhaps dulled a bit more, but still present. The seasons pull at my soul in both rhythm and chaos, balance and tipping points, gentleness and harshness.
Most storms skip our area in the summer. We are constantly having forecasts of storm watches or tornado watches but they never really happen. It's rare for the full eye of the storm to catch us. Most summers are quite dry. I look into the darkened sky and I am annoyed when it does not burst forth with rain. If it's going to be cloudy I want the precipitation. I don't want teasing clouds for days on end blocking out my sun. Rain or snow would be better.

I love the wild roses and peonies blooming in summer. I adore the sunrises and sunsets.  Thoughts of cold ice tea and home churned ice cream. I love hearing fires crackle in neighbouring yards or hear birds twittering in the trees.The vibrant colours, ever green landscapes and diverse skies feed my inspirational artist eyes. I do love summer for many reasons, but it's still my soul winter. I don't hate it. It's not my least favourite season but it's the one I struggle with the most. I love all seasons for what they are and each one has some downsides amongst the positive. The whole year visually is a delight to anyone who enjoys nature and being alive. Of course I regard summer with that same respect and some of my best moments have been created during the summer, but that does not lessen the effect on my mind.

In summary, summer, to me, is a tease or the flamboyant friend who is awesome for short stints and epic for a few fun times, but is not the friend for soul work, regular intervals or deep diving. Maybe for most, that is the friend of choice, for a fun time...but for a soul like mine- it simply doesn't suit. In that regard, summer is my winter. It gives me sparse return on my investments in some cases, and exponential ones in other big areas. It is what it is. Beauty and brutal to my body and mind. But, at the end of the day, I still find that I regard each moment with gratitude. Each season, though affecting in different ways, brings out a different aspect of being. I love that. Our life, no matter the season, is a mixture of holiday simple life, and necessary work to live. But we enjoy almost all of it. We don't save our energy or time for "Holidays" but create a life that we don't need a vacation from. While we enjoy short spurts into the unknown, any season brings it's own beauty to our table. I suppose this is contextual too due to our living choices, educational choices, philosophies of life, and work choices, but each season brings both respite, creativity, joy, pain, burdens and struggles. We try to live in gratitude for the former while respecting the latter.

Which season is your best suited?  Does one have more sensory triggers than others?
Because Beach Boys are one of the many sounds of summer:

And many country songs remind me of summer- thinking about it I probably have more epic songs for summer than christmas songs...which is saying a lot for this Christmas Gal...

Friday, June 10, 2016

"N" and "S" types in Familial Relationships. Personality (intuitive versus sensing) Affects Family Function and Friendships. Being SEEN.

Our family was watching the TV series,"The Middle" together. We can relate a lot...especially the first few seasons. Our two boys are a mix of Brick and our daughter can relate A LOT to Sue. The episode was about a quirky Aspergian/ Dyspraxic child named Brick who wished to have a birthday he enjoyed instead of the "typical" party. So his mom threw him a party for the whole class where each child was required to read quietly at the table, eat politely, and whisper 'Happy Birthday' at the library, then proceed to take a picture with the librarian. All the children groaned and thought the party was a dud. My children and I thought the party was EPIC and ideal. Finally, a few children (even if it was on TV) would understand how we felt sitting through their loud, overly scheduled, obnoxious, boring parties to us. When a child complained to Brick's mom about the party, she replied that Brick has sat through years worth of all their parties so they can sit through ONE that suits him. A perfect example of how many introverted or intuitive types feel at birthdays and big events ect.

Events, family or otherwise, seem to be a big part of what is considered socially appropriate behaviour and healthy habits in our culture. It's ironic that we expect family to show up for big celebrations when our personal relationships with them are broken. Or even when their personality preference may do best in other circumstances. Why, if both parties involved, have not picked up the phone for years to build a relationship would we expect to have a fun family get together? Why is that an expectation?

Looking at this chart you can see why this happens. (The red is women, blue men and grey the general average.) Much of the world is comprised of 'S' types. Sensing types value big functions, hierarchies (in general- not all of them do), establishments and "traditional" family methods. 'S' types are amazing people who help run our culture and our institutions. They have their upsides and their downsides like any other type of person, but they are in the majority and a lot of their ways became the "norm." 'S' types are capable of carrying on idyll chit chat and valuing it as building a relationship. A few birthday wishes make them feel very special. While most Intuitive or 'N' types not only forget birthdays often (most of those in the Idealist category anyway) but often will see the rigidity of certain traditions as pointless or boring. Generally depth being built upon and acceptance of quirks, imagination and big ideas are valued stronger than building sensory memories. Often a big event will not be viewed as quality time. Perhaps 'N' types will look at the chit chat or get togethers a few times a year as neutral or necessary but if their relationships with the people involved are not of deeper substance, it is more of a function to endure. Why do we focus on collective family function when instead we should first focus on individual familial relationships? If we do not have some basic respect, trust, and love built, why do we expect everyone to get together to have a good time?

Those that do not show up are considered the family rebels. The family just waits and prays from them to shape up to the familial standards. If it's past a certain amount of time they give up altogether and write them off as selfish. Preceding the write off are years of mini lectures, phone calls anytime a "wrong" decision is being considered, and brief civil dinners where the individual isn't even appreciated or allowed to be whom they are. Is it love to ignore whom a person is? Is it love to write off most of what a person does as "wrong" or to judge most of their process as something to change? Why do we expect people to relish these activities?

Most families have forms of dysfunction. There are normal subjects in each family that should be off limits. There are topics that are too explosive and should be saved for friendships. A general definition of a healthy family would be one that has all six ingredients of love and practises them to each other on a more regular basis. Thus, when the big events happen, everyone feels valued for whom they are and respected. Where each person feels comfortable enough to partake or leave when needed or be able to have some level of enjoyment. Then of course a big event is to be appreciated and looked forward to.

Years ago we slowly had to distance ourselves from certain events. For years we brought up how we felt disrespected, unheard or tried to foster understanding. Other than one beautiful person, and a couple healthy discussions, most of our pleas fell on deaf ears. Or it would be validated in a conversation but the key behaviours would continue again the next time. We were finally advised to focus on the individual relationships that could be salvaged or were willing to also work to understand, and leave the rest to their own lives. Family is what you make it. It's awesome if family can be blood ties but a lot of the time, the best family we have are the families we cultivate with respect and love.

 "Love is a combination of six ingredients: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust. I found that a lot of people just felt really confused about what love is, so I said, here, take these six ingredients and as you go about your life, you can ask: the action I'm taking, does it have these six ingredients? One point that I would emphasize to people is that it's the combination of the six ingredients that make love, because so many of us have one of the ingredients in our life – like we may be deeply cared for, but we may not be in a situation of trust. To me what's great about these definitions is that they're just very helpful for people in daily life trying to engage in a practice of love."- Bell Hooks

Sometimes the minority just has to decide to stay home or do their own thing. There is no other way around it. The majority honestly do believe they want the others there in theory, but each time those others show up, there is controversy, disrespect and at least one person goes home hurt due to differences that are not held by the majority. What is the point? Why do we keep doing this? If the people in the minority aspect of the family for whatever reason (differences in spirituality, sexuality, disability, physicality ect.) decide they can be supported and happy away from the family, and the family has a general better time without them, why can't we let this happen? Why force something that isn't there? If it really seems to be an issue, then perhaps focusing on the individual relationship between the people focusing on the six ingredients of love cited above, would be a better use of time? If one seriously wants the family there that don't usually show up- it means change. It requires growth. It will take TIME. Are both parties willing to give that time? Are we going to view it as healthy and normal if both parties do not want to invest that time? Because it is ok. Life demands much. Some relationships are there to teach, sharpen or challenge, and some are meant to be left behind while some will ebb and flow depending on the ages and stages.

Another aspect of 'N's are that they are mostly unwilling to give their time to something that will not have a deep payoff...relational or otherwise. We want to know our investments of money, people, or love will at least be appreciated, helped or find depth. In relationships, we want more than talks about the weather. We want to be able to discourse about at least a few subjects deeply without having them all off limits. We want to swim in the deep end on a fairly regular basis. We want to skip the niceties that feel like a general waste of time and get down to the stuff that isn't often discussed. We want to speculate, use imagination and speak of possibilities. We want to hear philosophy and poetry. A shallow example would be that we would want a deeper explanation of how a person felt when the wind whipped their hair and the sun burnt their shoulders and triggered a deep thought or existential question. We don't want to just hear that it's windy and hot outside.

My husband, children and I are all "N" types. We have a lot of 'S' types in our life, because that is the majority of the world. Some are close friends who appreciate our differences deeply and we appreciate their steady differences. We need each other. We don't want our 'S' counterparts to change but we do want them to be open to understanding and reading up on us- like we understand and read up on them.

As a family, we have listened to every personality type podcast on both sides of our entire extended family. Why? Especially when we don't even converse with some? Because we do not want to harbour any bitterness. Bitterness is easier to overcome when we can understand and at least respect the place where someone is coming from in their mind. Even if we do not want to engage or are not at a stage where we can, it is healthy for us to at least get over ourselves, listen to their mind wiring, and understand that many aspects we thought were personal were just a part of cognitive wiring.

Unfortunately, most 'S' types do not like to delve into personality on their own. Often if I hear the statement, "Oh I don't believe in personality tests. Just get to know me..." That statement usually shows that the person is an "S" type. Not all "S" types do this, but there are certain ones that are often inclined to give these statements. Naturally it is because their main values are stemming from a place of what they can see with their own eyes. Personality does not fall within the five senses as such. While they understand abstract concepts, because of cognitive wiring, many would prefer to keep the abstract on the back burner to practical concrete topics. 'N' types are generally the opposite so while they can honour concrete aspects of being they would much rather live in the abstract regularly.

Generally, we smile at a statement of opposition regarding personalities and proceed to type the person based on a few educated guesses. Are they Extroverted or Introverted according to Meyers Briggs definitions (E or I)? Concrete/Sensing (do they pay attention to their five senses?) or Abstract/ Intuitive (do they pay more attention to possibilities and patterns? S or N)? Are they inclined to value a thinking standpoint when making a decision based on principles and impersonal facts or a feeling all points of view standpoint (T or F)?  Spontaneous/ flexible lifestyle or scheduled/ structured lifestyle (P or J?) Suddenly, we have a basic sketch of their personality...obviously it is more nuanced than that but because our family is so immersed in personality studies we are pretty good at our guesses. Most times if we get to test the people out, they score exactly what we thought they would. Because if we want to get to know them, we want it to be of substance. Personality gets us down to the heart of the matter and to how they operate out of the world. Understanding what they value in their world view, helps us to have a field to play on, with clear lines on what they value and what we value, and how to play the game around those factors. Thus, if we both come from those understandings it is slightly easier to garner quicker trust, respect and genuine care. The six ingredients of love follow more naturally from something that is considered by them to be unnatural.

No type is better than the other. I am giving this information because often (most) 'S' types do not give much consideration to these things unless an 'N' type, work or school bring personality studies up. It is not their natural inclination to search it out of curiosity or a desire to find out the cognitive functions of personhood, which is fine, but when in the majority, this can cause some issues. Because of the odds, it is important that 'N' types are discussed or give their opinions.

Unfortunately, for 'S' types on the net, it tends to go the opposite way online in certain forums. I find that many 'N' types use Instagram differently than 'S' types. The Intuitives tend to have questions or abstract thoughts or pictures to prod larger discussions while the sensing types gather for memory, achievement or otherwise. Both like to document of course, but the drivers for why are different. In writing, Intuitives can come across as often matter of fact yet more abstract (most rationalists) or a mix of factual with abstract concepts like Philosophy, poetry or whatever is in their interest abstract form (typically idealists.) S types will often write sensory aspects of everyday or engage with their material imaginatively but applicable to concrete ways of being. There are exceptions to every type, nuances and many other factors that make up a person. These are just generalities. So it is very unlikely for an 'S' family member to naturally read my blog unless it is to dig for information, misunderstand my intents out of curiosity, or (on the positive side) because we have already established healthy interactions or share other similar interests.

Years ago we had our children take this test (click) and this test (click). To double check we also read their descriptions to them and made sure they agreed with their results. I take issue with these tests in general if they are not overseen by someone immersed in personality studies. Because often people will score wrong results based on HOW they see themselves or how their culture expects them to be and not on who they actually are. Generally, it takes an objective party who knows them to help them with their answers. Basically, you know if you have an accurate type if you read most of it and say, "Oh my goodness! How did they KNOW that about me? How did they crawl into my brain?"

 I am an INFJ, my husband is an ENFP, and our children are ENFJ, INTJ, and ENFP. We have two extroverts who operate more like introverts. We have one primary thinker among a bunch of primary feelers...and two perceivers amongst a majority of those who value structure a tad bit more. Our cores have stayed the same over the years even though we have all mellowed in some of our stronger aspects to accommodate each other. We listen to podcasts over at Personality Hacker (click) on hour long trips. We discuss how each person feels about the accuracy of their personality result. We make sure to validate a person and if there is conflict, we first go to our main cognitive functions, driver's seats and 3 year old process to see how we can resolve while respecting the essence, strengths and weaknesses of each person involved. We know a lot about each other because of this. We can often tell when we are out, what we will discuss about something once we are home (and comfortable) as a family alone, by just a simple look. Basically we are in tune with each other BECAUSE of our deep dive into persona.

Of course, pre- personality we still understood aspects of each other, but the studies enhanced this and cut down on misunderstandings. We don't just chalk up behaviour to "sin" or "selfishness" nor do we chalk it up to "goodness" or "achievement." It's all based on WHO the person IS. On BEING. Personality studies enable us to see the person in front of us and bypass a lot of misunderstanding...or at least talk through it more constructively. Our hope is that our children's sibling relationships will carry this dignity, respect and honour of different brain function, outward preferences and inner ways into adulthood. We hope they remember aspects of these things so they can have somewhat healthy sibling relationships...maybe they will even still be the best friends they are today? Then again, maybe not, and if not, we hope they carry those aspects into their other friendships and find soul siblings to share them with.

I wish I could share this information appropriately with the relationships that long for healing in our lives but that do not understand the nuances, reasons and motivations behind many of the issues. I feel like understanding could foster the six ingredients of love. Perhaps our world would suffer less from mindless violence if we focused in on just a few people in our lives to give the six ingredients of love and if we would at least attempt to understand driving preferences, cognitive functions, perhaps we could change the course of history slowly with simple regard and general respect?

Have you studied personality? If so, did you find that your *accurate* personality type opened up a world of possibilities for you? Did you start to understand others more? Did the "box" of personality so many allude to actually become an open field of respect and understanding? Did it enable you to go beyond whom a person seems and into who they are by first having a structured view? Or did it make it worse? (If it DID make it worse could it possibly be due to inaccurate results?)

Sure, it's only one aspect of BEING but it is still important to consider. With personality, as a foundation, we can understand and judge less. Because we see that "One man's home is another man's journey...for one man's truth is another man's lie. It's just the way it goes and I couldn't say why. One man's cure is another man's poison."- Passenger Lyrics. It is brave to understand others and ourselves. To open, in compassion to be WHOM we are and allow others to do the same.

I also LOVED this site and found every word accurate for my type but this site has others too!:

 Personality hacker has podcasts and videos on each type. Here is a few of my INFJ links but you can click search for your personality initials:


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Convictions & Controversy. Being "Right" Comes at a Relational Cost.

"About controversies in families- I think that there are some people who will not be able to understand or see different perspectives and are blinded by their own is OK until that person forces their convictions on others...then it becomes a painful relationship. Not only about faith. It is also about simple things like tea and coffee..if somebody irritates me repeatedly, with my drinking choice saying," I wish you drank chocolate flavoured coffee rather than mint flavoured coffee..." That too is so irritating to the point of conversation not going anywhere beyond what one thinks is right. Do you know that in some religions, there is no concept of heaven? They say hell and heaven is right there on this earth and both of them are created by humans? It is through our actions that we can create hell or heaven on this earth... the concept of heaven is not something up there high above the is here..when somebody sets somebody free, that person is creating heaven on earth. Whereas, when somebody dominates others and irritates others even after repeated requests not to...he is creating hell on earth. I mean not to offend but I want to say that before reaching the spatial/physical heaven or hell, (covered by heavenly clouds or hellish dirt) we must understand how these mystical concepts of hell and heaven work in our daily lives right from our birth. Both hell and heaven is in our soul to be reached or rejected here and now. They are not a distant place out of our reach planning or programming will make you reach there, not even prayers...until you free yourself from your own suffering on this earth."- Sanghamitra

Painful relationships are tough because there comes a point when the relationship may exceed it's worth because of the pain caused. It is hard for both the cause of the pain and the victim of the pain. Often there is a mix of this pain from a perspective stand point. The one who is causing the pain for the victim may view it otherwise and vice versa. One has to ask themselves- Am I costing myself heaven on earth in my relationships by a holy vendetta? Is my belief in what is right setting myself up as a mini god in the sense that I am deciding what choices others should have and pressuring those choices at each turn of the conversation?

Of course each of us have convictions, beliefs of what we value, and there are times when we know or think we are in the "right." That is human behaviour and normal but as Sanghamitra pointed out, we can take our convictions too far.
Even if one believes in heaven and hell or an afterlife, should they not also carry that belief into their daily? Should they not start with creating safe places and pockets of heaven where there is no judgement on earth if that belief holds true? Should they not strive to make suffering less here and now BECAUSE of their belief in an eternal lake of fire later? It starts with the little moments. The moments where conviction over runs the relationship. When one is casually talking about life and then BAM- the pressure is on for them to conform to some standard of religion, worship, eating habit ect.
Convictions are normal, but taking them into every conversation or daily relationship comes at a cost. Of course we can speak of them on our personal spaces, in writing, or where people are safe to us...the difference is the platform of relationship. If the relationship is based on previous moments of safety, past experiences of trusting communication, developed emotion and depth with the little topics, then that relationship can take the controversy- even if both are on opposing sides. The love of the other, respect and dignity, will win over the actual topic. However, if the relationship is weaker, non developed in trust or understanding and has past wounds, being "right" comes at a cost. The cost of having deep or meaningful relationships here on earth.

It is ironic how often the people who believe in the afterlife of heaven and hell, are also willing, because of their beliefs, to make earth a living hell for those that don't... by isolating them, or punishing the "wayward sheep." Even worse, is the fact that those who may be fundamentalist about it, believe in their "right path" so deeply that they are willing to isolate their family for the sake of a possibility after. They are willing to lose a here and now relationship for the possibility of an eternal one later. And if what they say is "right" then not only will they not see this person ever again after death (and in their belief this person will burn in eternal damnation) but they are also not interacting with them and have already created a line in the dirt of "us" and "them" on this earth. The time given is used for testimony, for convicting, for consistently using each conversation as a tool to bring the "nonbeliever" around.

The definition of faith is that it cannot be provable. In school I was taught to argue my faith by scripture. Scripture that ironically would have no hold on an unbeliever. But that is not faith. Faith requires complete trust in something that is unprovable. And if one is willing to stake all of their current relationships and what they already have on the cost of something unprovable that is their choice. It can be respected, but please note that the choice is deeply personal and should not be expected from others in the path. Just like food choices should not be forced upon people with differing guts, allergies, sensitivities and body make up. We all have differing factors that make us whom we are. We have the right as human beings to make choices. We have the beauty to come to differing forms of faith. Faith alone can be a beautiful choice. However, when that faith is used as the "only right way" it is no longer faith but something akin to a communist faith manifesto...believing that all should conform to the one way of faith and enforcing this with social sanctions, threats of eternal damnation and torture, and isolation.

This unfortunately often bleeds into more than faith. When one believes one is undoubtedly "right" in faith, sometimes other topics follow. Politics are often the next big "given" and themes trickle down to the Splenda in coffee. Suddenly, one can not feel safe to speak because each conversation becomes an exercise of black and white thinking. Someone gives an opinion and suddenly it is perceived as an attack.

This is the difference between conversing in a safe relationship and conversing in the "rightly convicted" relationship. In the safe relationship, someone can say that splenda is disgusting without being judged as a shit stirrer. They can bring up their personal choices of diet without someone misinterpreting it as a judgement on themselves. Because if one believes in the spirit of choice, they automatically know that most people's choices are not a reflection of themselves. There is a clear boundary of where someone else begins. Thus there is respect, dignity and honesty. However, when dealing with someone who often brings up convictions, being right, and strong moral standpoints, there are not many safe topics to explore unless one belongs to their group. Which is why churches and bible studies ect. often have similar people attending with similar interests. They are validating their own convictions. Which is fine to a point, as long as that is what is recognized and when in relationship with others they do not engage in "othering."

We have friends in our circle who are fundamentalists. It is possible to have good relationships with fundamentalists of any belief. While I would say there are definite topics that are safer left alone- at least we have the respect to do so. Sometimes the conversation becomes strained because of personal belief differences, but then we both sense it, laugh a bit and decide to put the relationship before the issues. We both agree to disagree and move on to healthier topics. Topics that our relationship can carry the weight of are the go to. That is the beauty of discourse, of diversity, and of dignity.

We have had relationships with people who believe the same as the fundamentalists above, yet the foundation of the relationship was not built. Instead the relationship had a history of disrespect, proselytizing, and converting to like minded states. It's the same belief but it comes at a very different cost. The cost is the relationship itself. A house can not be built on sand that sifts and changes according to the topic, or takes offence to each minor difference or has to argue for arguments sake. There are appropriate places for that but they have to be on concrete foundations.

I do take issue with the christian doctrine itself that I will not go into here, for many reasons. Bertrand Russel and other philosophers cover that area better than I. Plus, it's really not my cup of tea to discuss much of it outside of my home. I prefer peace and harmony. I don't want readers thinking that I am being dishonest in my portrayal of myself. However, I LOVE and respect MANY christians in my life. Every belief in what is "right" comes at a cost. I don't believe I am right. Of course I have convictions and normal human direction but I like to leave the benefit of doubt in all my considerations. Of honouring the question more than the statement. Maybe the cost of being "right" is worth it to some? I was taught in christian school that anything "against" us was persecution and to "consider persecution pure joy." Perhaps my post will just further solidify that stance to anyone in it? If so, my words are not for that person whom has the choice to shut down their browser. If one is aware their cost of being right is their relationships - that is their choice to make.

My words are for those who are wondering what went wrong down the road. How did they find themselves in an empty relationship with nothing but traces of disrespect, disregard and a history of pain? Perhaps the ownership is on both parties. The foundation needs to be built before the safe house. The safe house needs to be built before going on to the roof to speak of the heavens.

If there is a loving God, would that spirit not want us to free suffering on earth? Jesus spoke many times in the scriptures (that so many christians adhere to) about the fact that the kingdom of heaven is HERE now. It applied wherever Jesus was, where love was as Jesus was said to embody love. Now whether or not I believe in the literal translation of scriptures is a moot point....but if one does, would it not require another look into what is asked of those who believe? There are mixed messages in the against brother to turning the other cheek. I guess if the cost of the belief is brother against brother, for the family it has to be worth it. And that would be why the drive to convict the "other brother" would be high on the list of family priorities. Because it follows that peace would reign once again not only on earth but in heaven meetings according to the familial belief. But if that is the cost- one must then decide to live with that cost here on earth. And live with the cost that may come from the brother choosing differently. It is impossible to have both the brotherly relationship and the "right" god/eternal damnation/ relationship if one believes that way and the brother does not. Because it is a clear separation of someone who believes they are "right" versus the "wrong." Which will it be on earth? Or is there a way to come around to grey area thinking? To respect the "brother" and love the other as one loves self while still holding to personal faith and not treating them less in each conversation with the inevitable righteousness that comes with being "right"? Because with righteousness above another there can be no equality, and no respect or trust...which are a few of the six ingredients required for actual love relationships. Love is somewhat skewed without those ingredients. How can we say we truly love if we do not give respect for others decisions? When respect is neglected because of our convictions? When trust is not given or taken because there is no basis for it? How does love grow in these places?

If one loves oneself, we do not subject ourselves to violence, belief or flagellation- spiritual or otherwise. If we are still participating in these behaviours to ourselves we can not possibly love "the other" we are called to love. God covers all in grace- that is what is said of those who chose the christian God. But who decides that? Who gets to be God on earth? Simply because of belief in scriptures suddenly there are God ambassadors- but that is a serious job with serious ethics to consider that often are neglected in the name of "being right."

In the end, I just wish that my education and the education of others who are emerged in religion and religious education, would have included these questions. I wish they would have talked about more than the cost of faith but the cost of what IS now. I wish they would have balanced their opinions out with philosophers who were agnostic and atheistic. Not as an example of evil but as an example of differences to be respected and considered. Those topics would have helped those who still chose faith, stronger in their stances, because they would have heard legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions from another side to counter act their legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions. Because we all have them. Legitimacy is in perspective. Facts can come from many places. I wish I would have learned history that wasn't just christian history. The Pharaohs were actually quite benevolent and began by PAYING their local farmers to build the pyramids. They were not just evil overlords, like I was taught with pictographs in sunday school, with hearts hardened by God. I wish I would have been taught history, philosophy, psychology and sociology from unbiased standpoints. I wish my essence would have been respected enough to allow me to look at all, and make my own way without manipulation. No wonder there is so much fear around the liberal arts topics, social sciences, science and secular post secondary schools in these circles. Because that brings choice. Luckily, these factors came fleetingly through the rebels and outcasts I knew, balanced faith bringers, music, arts, aunts... and the rest followed in my later twenties for my journey. It is with great relief and joy that I reflect on those that DID.

I grieve. I grieve the cost that some are too blind in being "right" to see. I grieve that in some circles the weather has to be another notch in the belt of a provable God. I grieve that the obsession of hell and heaven after death become the vendetta to sometimes do unspeakable acts on earth. I grieve that freedom or choices have become synonymous with sin. I grieve for what was lost.

Yet, hope can be found in the darkest of places. In this dark grieving, I have also found surprising people, who while they hold fast to their god, and disagree with most of my life, find joy and love within. I have found heaven on earth. This heaven is in a kind word, in mercy, in grace, in becoming, in choice, in freedom and in love. Love has too many numerous definitions. I have found that by defining terms we can come to understanding. I enjoy Bell Hooks definition of love, "Love is a combination of six ingredients: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust. I found that a lot of people just felt really confused about what love is, so I said, here, take these six ingredients and as you go about your life, you can ask: the action I'm taking, does it have these six ingredients? One point that I would emphasize to people is that it's the combination of the six ingredients that make love, because so many of us have one of the ingredients in our life – like we may be deeply cared for, but we may not be in a situation of trust. To me what's great about these definitions is that they're just very helpful for people in daily life trying to engage in a practice of love."
When I take that definition of love, and apply it to our lives, safety matters. It is important that we can trust that when we are in a conversation we will not be pressured to conform to another's standards of what is "right." That we will not be evangelized at every turn. That combination is the concrete foundation of a home. Until we each take responsibility for our six ingredients of love in our important relationships we have to be ok with surface level or distant regard. It's not wrong, it's simply what IS until something stronger can grow from the sand. Sometimes the energy or time is not there to build a foundation. Relationships ebb and flow. That is the cost of life. But the cost of being right for the sake of being right is unnatural. It can be addressed if that is the only issue.
The love of the other is important. So is the love of self. There has to be a balance of both. In order to respect and love we must respect and love ourselves first. But then we must act upon that which is. Building small safe havens in the relationships in our path. Some are meant for challenge, some are meant for growth, some are meant for ultimate, unconditional love and some are meant for havens. But none should be meant solely for the convictions of being right and perhaps by saying that I am engaging in black and white thinking? Maybe some convictions of being right have done the world a lot of good? I believe some have, but when thinking upon it more, the damage done in the same name exceeds the perhaps we each have to face our own choices. I need to face mine. While I leave my writing here to question, hash it out and state aspects of my self, I firmly believe the reader has the right to their own interpretation applied to their own growth state. What the reader chooses, and the emotions they choose and their perceptions is entirely their choice to make- even if I may disagree. I need to let go of outcomes and go forth into life, now that I have cleared the cobwebs of my mind by writing.

May you, the reader, have relationships that are not on sand, or at least one or two relationships in life, that have the six ingredients of love. In that I am rich for I have at least a handful- I wish you this richness too. May you let go of those that do not have that aspect or keep them in life for later growth. May you find hope in dark places and heal from previous wounds of the convictions of "right" thinking. May you honour your need for healing and pain, but also move through to the wonders each day has the possibility of presenting. May you savour your drink and delight in your nourishment of body, spirit and soul.

This post is dedicated to my husband on his birthday week, honouring the many conversations we have had on this topic, the deep grief, and the wonder that we share together. Love you and your 33 years. xo

Also, thank you Sanghamitra for your constant wisdom and encouragement of growth in my life. xo

All nature/ quote images from Pinterest:

And a throw back to my nineties teen years when I was indebted to the rebels and the outcasts who brought me alternative music, outside the box thinking, and the sight to see the loveables others saw as troublemakers. It was a big deal- pre iTunes, to hear songs outside of what was allowable in my school, and be exposed to radio or CD tracks- and I am so glad I had the friends who dared to BE. I hope they get back what was given to me: Life by Our Lady Peace.