My Perfect Christmas is Lots of “Me Time”

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Tomorrow I am going to a family Christmas party. I would prefer to stay home in my jammies drinking hot cocoa or coffee, watching Netflix with my fur babies, but I can’t, its my hubby’s family. He is excited about going so somehow I will have to put on my party face and at least act like I enjoy being there. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with his family. They are a nice group of people. It’s just that I’m an introvert and the thought of making small talk with people I barely know… If you’re an introvert, you know what I mean.

Hubby’s sister is a classic extrovert. She loves entertaining and Christmas is her favorite holiday. She goes all out in the decorating and outdoor Christmas lights department. Santa will even stop by bringing gifts for her grandkids. Maybe if I had grandkids I would make more of an effort to get in to the “holiday spirit.” I do think Christmas is for kids. They definitely appreciate the festivities, especially ripping open their presents.

When I was young, I liked Christmas, except those times my mother got drunk and started a huge fight with my dad because he didn’t get her a more expensive gift. When I became a mom, I celebrated Christmas. I wanted my son to have good memories but I also wasn’t about to go in to debt buying over priced toys. I don’t know how or why people do that today. Toys are now electronic gadgets that can cost up to a weeks worth of pay. How crazy is that? Christmas is too commercialized and if you don’t participate, you’re called a Scrooge. I don’t like feeling pressured to do anything and I definitely don’t follow the crowd. That’s another reason I prefer to stay home. I don’t have to explain myself.

Luckily, my son understands and appreciates having one less obligation. (There is only so much time in the day and trying to please everyone is exhausting). He spends Christmas with his dad and stepmom and their family. We see each other throughout the year and give gifts when we feel like it. Not spending time together in December is no big deal.

So tomorrow I will go to the party. I will practice being present. I will listen and observe what’s going on around me. And I will be grateful for all the blessings in my life.

If you’re an introvert and are looking for ideas to survive the holidays, this article has some good tips.

 

Namaste,

ingebird

 

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Solitude

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For most of my life, I thought of myself as an extrovert. Most of my jobs were in restaurants where I talked to people all day long. I preferred working in small diners who had regulars who came in to eat and I got to know their life stories. When I was in my twenties, I spent time in discotheques most weekends (it was the late seventies) dancing for hours. I went to gay clubs because they played the best dance music and I could dance by myself and no one cared (people in straight clubs prefer dancing with a partner and in gay clubs, lots of people danced alone). I was never one for going to parties though. I found them boring and I didn’t like talking to people who I didn’t know. It just felt shallow to me. But! That’s not completely correct either, if it was a small gathering and I knew most of the guests, I could act silly. I did enjoy that!

I liked going to movies and eating in restaurants alone. If I did go with someone, it was usually a date or a friend, but never a group. I liked being in public as long as I didn’t have too much interaction with people. I liked spending time alone when I wasn’t working. It never occurred to me that I was an introvert (some might call it a social introvert) because I’m never completely alone, I always have four-legged companions and like I mentioned, I worked in the service industry.

It was about a year ago that I noticed my behavior. Hubby and I were still living in the condominium and I started avoiding the neighbors when I was out in the complex walking my dogs, especially those neighbors who talked my ear off about their personal problems. If I did run into someone, I gave him or her a quick “hello” but never asked that question we all ask, but never really want to know the answer — “How are you?” I learned asking that question opened me up to all sorts of information I didn’t want to know. It was easier to avoid people — unless they were walking their dog, then I could focus on their pooch, and by focus, I mean talk directly to their pooch.

I can’t remember where I found the online test to see if I was an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, but after I took it, my score was much higher on the introvert scale. Then I began reading more about introverts and I related to everything. You may think, who cares if you are introverted or extroverted? Well, I do only because most of my life, I never felt like I “fit in” anywhere. It’s not like I have a need to fit in, but its nice to know why I do the things I do. I just thought I was antisocial and sometimes plain rude, but now I know I have certain needs so I can feel balanced. I need time to recharge after I’m with a group of people or even an extra “chatty” person.  Before, I would go places out of obligation and then be crabby for long periods. Doing things because I thought I had to, made me feel stressed. Now I understand my behavior and I can take care of my needs without feeling guilty.

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Since we moved to the country, I don’t have to worry about running into people when I’m out for a walk. Waving at a neighbor driving by is about as social as it gets. (Maybe they’re introverts too and that’s why they live here. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll research that).

The other day we Skyped with a relative who lives in Europe. She lives in a large city and like a lot of Europeans, she shops for food several times a week. She’s used to going out in public and (I’m guessing) enjoys the interactions. When she found out I do a major food shopping run once a month and leave our property only once a week, sometimes every two weeks, she sounded surprised. She seemed to feel sorry for me so I said, “I enjoy time alone. I don’t get distracted and I can focus on writing and reading and contemplating.”  And that is absolutely true –except I can be distracted by the Internet. There are so many authors (famous and regular people like me) who write such fascinating, thought provoking posts, I get lost in their words for hours. Before social media, I was limited to what was in the library and in the local bookstores, now my Goodreads reading list is over fifty books and growing!

The way I look at, I’m on a long term writing retreat. We’ll see where it takes me…

Namaste,

ingebirds

 

 

 

Farm Living is the Life for Me!

OK, we’re not exactly living on a farm, but we are one step closer to having our animal sanctuary, a long time dream of ours.

Last Christmas I announced to hubby we were moving March 1st, although I had no idea where to or how. I did know it would be to a rural area. At the time, hubby thought I was crazy because we didn’t have a lot of money saved. Nevertheless, I “knew” it was going to happen. I will admit, I freaked myself out a bit as well.

Hubby mentioned my premonition to his sister who lives in Amador County in early February, and a week later she called him about a job opening, in a veterinarian office, two blocks from her house. Hubby has worked with animals over ten years, so he set up an interview. He started working there March 4th. I stayed in Southern California waiting for him to find us a place to live; a house outside the city limits became available a week after he started his new job.

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We moved in March 28.

I won’t lie, I was nervous about leaving the city, even though it was too hectic for us to stay. What will it be like living in a small rural community? Will I fit in? I don’t dress like a typical 60 something female, living in a rural town, but then, how do I know what women my age dress like? I hadn’t lived there yet. Maybe I won’t look so different or I’ll start a fashion trend! I already checked online to find Buddhist meditation groups in the area. There were none. To be honest, I rarely sat Zazen or meditated with a group when I lived in southern California, so that shouldn’t be a big deal. I’m an introvert and I need lots of alone time. In my new home I can meditate in nature which is only a few steps from my front door.

To help calm my nerves, I meditated several times a day and read essays from Buddhist authors about impermanence, while I waited to move up north. Other spiritual writings and quotes popped up in my social media sites, about “trusting the Universe.” There were also too many synchronicities that couldn’t be dismissed as coincidences. In my heart I knew we were on the right path, but my ego continued to have doubts.

It’s been a week now and we are finally settling in to our new home. I haven’t ventured out much because we have one car (and I’m an introvert). As I’m writing this post, I look out my living room window and see pine trees. Our house is surrounded by them. We do have neighbors but they are about 100 yards away.

Today I think about how this move taught me several lessons about life.

1. Sometimes I have to let go of the need to control an outcome and go with the flow. (None of us are really in control of what goes on around us anyway.) We just think we are.

2. I have no control over the behavior of others, only how I react to them, interacting with me and that includes the property manager and the owners of this rental house.

3. I have too much “stuff.” The description of the size of our moving van (15 feet) was not accurate. The contents of our one bedroom condominium did not fit into a moving van that claimed to hold a two bedroom apartment. Several pieces of our furniture and a few boxes of garden stuff were left behind in the dumpster. Our new home looks very Bohemian, which is great, until I have to get up from the futon mattress that sits on the floor. (We had to leave the futon frame behind.) My knees are not limber anymore and the “fake” hardwood floors, have zero traction. Buying a throw rug is on my shopping list.

4. This next one goes along the same theme as having too much stuff. While unpacking, I divided things in two categories; things I love and am keeping and things to give away for someone else to enjoy. The local thrift store is in for a big surprise!

5. Always trust my intuition. It knows what’s best for me.

6. Have faith that things will work out.

There are probably more lessons, but that’s all I came up with for now.

I know we are supposed to be here, so I’ll continue to watch for signs from my spirit guides as to what to do next.

Namaste,
ingebird

 

My Writing Critique Class

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Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, whether it was writing a short story or keeping a journal. Two years ago I decided to write a memoir of sorts, about my journey through cancer. I wanted to share my story with others who were newly diagnosed, in order to give them hope; including what I did that brought me back to wellness.

Around that same time, I found out my local senior center offered a free writing critique class that included a retired English teacher named Barbara, who corrected our grammar! How lucky is that? When I joined, there were already around twenty members who had been meeting weekly (some as long as ten years!). Most of my classmates were there writing their own memoirs hoping to pass them down to their grandkids. Some were poets and others were already published in periodicals. A few of them never wrote anything and I think they showed up just to socialize. Most of the members were in their seventies.

Six months ago I stopped going. My teacher who just turned ninety-two got sick and we had a replacement. The new teacher had her own way of running our group and that’s OK, but I didn’t resonate with her, so I dropped out. The original teacher came back three months later but by then I lost interest. I even stopped writing my book. Luckily Ron, a classmate sent me emails about what was happening in our group and on occasion would tell me that I was missed.

Today I went back with the intention of saying “good-bye” because I’m moving four hundred miles away and probably won’t come back (although I’ve learned to never say never). There were also two books I borrowed from classmates and I wanted to return them, although neither of the women who loaned me the books were there today.

A funny thing happened when I showed up to the room I spent so much time in; I felt a great sense of sadness wash over me. I didn’t expect that since I pride myself on not getting to close to people… emotionally, that is. I got mixed up about what time class started and arrived an hour too early. Ron was there setting up the refreshments. He was happy to see me, so we sat and chatted for a while waiting for the others to show up. As each one arrived, they too were delighted to see me and I was happy to see them. It wasn’t until then, that I realized how much I missed the class… and most of all my classmates.

How could I have stayed away so long? Why didn’t I go back as soon as I learned Barbara had returned? I don’t have the answers but I wish I had gone back sooner. Six months is a long time, especially when you get older. Since I got sick, time is something I think about a lot. (Do I really want to spend my time doing this or that? Or, do I want to spend time with this person who I don’t have anything in common with?)

Today I discovered I really enjoyed spending time with these people and apparently they feel the same about me.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ll be here in this city, since we don’t have a new place to live yet. (I wrote about us moving in an earlier post). Hubby has been gone a week, working in the new town and I’m here alone with my pets. I’m self-proclaimed introvert but maybe not as introverted as I thought. I do like company, especially my husband’s and today I figured out I liked the company of my classmates, so as long as I’m still here, I will continue going to class.

Namaste,

ingebird

 

It’s 2016!

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It’s a new year and for most of us it means making at least one new year resolution. I’m not a fan of resolutions because I usually don’t keep them but this year is special. I took time off to during the Christmas holiday to contemplate my life. This year is a big anniversary for me. Last November my oncologist told me I’m done seeing her. No more checkups. I am officially cancer free!

So much has happened to me over the past five years and one of them was rediscovering my spiritual self, along with discovering new aspects of my unique complex self. I began learning and practicing the teachings of Buddhism. I figured out that deep down I was a closet bohemian. Most of my adult life, I worked jobs that required me to wear a uniform. On my days off I wore clothes that everyone else wore even though I was attracted to a more “colorful” palette. After a cancer diagnosis my fashion choices changed. I started experimenting and wore clothes that I intuitively felt comfortable in, which reflected my personality.

Last year I learned I am an empath. It was a relief to find that out. I always felt different from other people but couldn’t figure exactly how or why. Now that I know I have this gift, I can harness it and not let it drain me.

A few months ago I learned I’m an introvert. To be more precise, a social introvert. I like being around people — but on my terms. I don’t like big cities or crowds. I don’t like driving on freeways. I need lots of time alone. Its funny because all my life I thought I was an extrovert since all my jobs were in the service industry. To be honest, before I got sick, I never gave it much thought. I thought I was just moody.

I never sat down long enough to contemplate my life choices. I didn’t understand I created my own reality. I just went along with what everyone else wanted me to be (or what I thought they wanted me to be). I wanted to fit in. There were times I said to myself, “I feel like I’m on the outside looking in,” but didn’t do anything to figure out why I felt that way. I did feel phony at times and in a way, I was. If I’m not living authentically, then I was a phony. Not in a bad way; more like a chameleon. Maybe I was afraid people wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me. I’ll need some more “down time” to think about that and get back to you.

It turns out that many empaths are also introverts. Meditating helps me take the “edge” off when I feel stressed and studying Buddhism taught me it’s OK to spend time alone.

What I decided is to continue living my truth openly and honor all those parts of me. I will include this process in my blog posts. I plan to write about my experiences living as a Buddhist, an empath and an introvert.

I was going to have separate blogs for each of my personality traits but decided against it. Having separate blogs would stress me out and I’m done participating in that. (Although I will continue writing my other blog, Rectal Cancer My Ass, which I devote to helping others get through cancer treatment and offer suggestions to live a healthier lifestyle).

Well, that’s about it. I hope 2016 will bring you joy, good health and whatever is on your wish list.

Namaste,

ingebird