Friday, September 15, 2017

How Hope was Created by A Record Player And Complex Disease Anxiety Decreased with Music.

In the midst of some complex medical challenges I have found a slight sense of solace. To be honest, for a long while, getting through the day has been considered a "success." It has been years of digging for the source of my odd blood work, symptoms ect. even though I 'present' as a fairly well adjusted and healthy adult. I finally see an Internal Health Practitioner 'Internist' and Hematologist in the next month...and possibly a Geneticist if my one test is proven a genetic mutation which looks to be the case. My blood work was considered serious enough to warrant these precautions and though my research the last few days has been worrisome and overwhelming, it is also a slight relief to know it wasn't all in my head. Slight, being the operative word. The genetic part of the puzzle makes sense for some of the issues I have had since childhood. Oh, and hey, I always could relate to the X men. I always thought I could be a mutant:) Who knows what that result will mean for the future or if it will be accurate for my circumstances, but there has to be a silver lining somewhere...

Which brings me to my little itty, bitty sense of solace beyond those few people in my life (my family, Instagram gals, and bestie amongst a few key supports), that is providing a sense of inspiration, however small it is. This is my new solace machine:


Currently, my player is churning out Norah Jones as I sit typing. Mellow grey clouds hover near. Both literally and figuratively.

I never have liked being a cliche or crowd follower. Records are in vogue which was a huge point against them in my books. It all started when my daughter used her hard earned savings for a 1950's suitcase record player. I was proud that her first choice of record was 'Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.' My dad lent us expensive speakers to use which accentuated the beauteous sound of the records. And suddenly, I was back to my childhood. I felt like a piece of my life, from a less conscious place, was handed back to me. I recalled the many afternoons I laid on our living room floor in the sunshine, next to the family record player, with my dad's huge headphones perched on my head, and the long twisting chord wrapped around me, reading the lyrics or pouring over the album's pictures. A piece of myself I didn't know was missing came home. Trendy or not, it wasn't something I could deny myself.

My husband bought me my own 1970's player. I think perhaps I was craving a more physical connection with my music, a raspier sound, and tangible printed lyrics. I was a teen in the nineties and finding a range of music was a hunt and perhaps more valuable because the music was not at your fingertips- though I admit I love available music at this time period in history too.

It was rare for someone like me, to know every musical genre. I worked for that knowledge and collected bands and oldies friends had never heard of. I made it my mission to make as many mix tapes as possible and spread the musical education of the classics and the silly and obscure, angry or eclectic. It was pre iTunes and Pre Glee, before the classics came the rage. I was a walking Gilmore Girl with my interests (a show that excited me when it came out because I knew every single film and musical reference it made.) Now, I confess that while I love all music and the genres, my go to of choice are often 70's and 80's songs, mellow Autumn music (Jazz and Easy listening) or Christmas music...because I find that I need 'feel good' inspiration. I'm not as cool as I once was for range, but I can still appreciate the beauty of any score of music.

I still love my iTunes songs and the accessibility of songs on Youtube. But the record player is a nice supplement to when I need a little bit more. I like that it is not easy to find the few records I actually want. I love that I made a connection with my aunt, whom is dying of terminal cancer. She was able to make a last trip and brought me a huge case of all her old records. We sat and listened to a few, talked about some of the tunes she introduced me to, and jived to Dancing Queen. The record player brought us another memory together. I also love the joy of the hunt again...looking for some of my favourite albums in vinyl form.

I loved 1930/40's record players but because of the expense I skipped to my next favourite time period- the Seventies. The decade before I was born but the decade my parents were stuck in, even though it was the 80's, with their style and choices. I feel so many comforting feelings just by watching the tilted whir of the golden boxed record player. The warm crackle accompanying the music, enhanced by the amplifier, causes my soul to exhale stress and inhale home.

It was an aspect of self, outside of my self, that I needed. Crooners especially sound more poignant on record...and Christmas music. I admit to being a Christmas music junkie even though it can be lame or sound uber religious...I still love the tunes and play them even when they do not line up with what I believe, Amy Grant's Christmas songs are still amongst my top played. Nat King Cole crooning the 'Christmas Song' or Bing singing 'White Christmas' make me feel immediately encompassed with magic. I have already played Christmas in our home this September. I don't understand why that horrifies some people. It was simply what I needed to change my mood.

Last weekend, everybody in our family fought. It was gloomy. It didn't start raining nicely until most of the day was done. We had a huge meltdown that I ended up having to deal with and talk through for about an hour and a half. Then my husband and I fought like we have not fought in months which brought up a lot of PTSD from the last year. I was miserable all around. It probably doesn't help that one of my elevated blood markers causes lethargy and frustration...no matter how many gratitude and meditation practices I do, it is a feat to keep the crankiness at bay. But then I was sitting in my room and I thought "Wait missy, I believe you have to (in part) make the world that you create. So why am I not acting upon that? Where is the world I am creating and how can I actively change it RIGHT now? " So instead of wallowing in my bed like I wanted to do, or crawl in my closet and cry and cry and cry, I decided that I could it least make the house cozier. So I cleaned and I put on Christmas lights and I got my daughter to bake something that we could all eat - Cornmeal Yugort Muffins -and then I realized that Christmas music was just the ticket. So I put on Christmas music in September because sometimes we need to do that. And it worked beautifully. And then the rain started coming ... my daughters plans got cancelled but she was kind of relieved, because our house was starting to become in harmony again and she wanted to witness the peace. She also wanted to listen to records in the rain… Most of the day was a write off and I'm still healing from some of it, but at the same time, changing the music enabled me to know how much I have.

Mood changers like music and seasonal changes before they are actually happening are sometimes needed. Being able to clean, creating good food and enjoying wonderful company in my harmonizing daughter was healing. Emotions can be nitty gritty and sometimes even an active choice. That day I spent at least an intense hour with each child listening to their woes and because of that effort, each child ended up feeling safe. And that feeling of safety was enhanced with Christmas music on a record player.

If I hadn't followed my heart and convinced my husband to purchase an early birthday present, I would not have experienced the peace that has accompanied the time each day that I take to put a record on. My body and spirit drag through most moments. I valiantly try to fight through what I can, salvage positive memories, and also teach my children to LIVE, but living in my current conundrum of a body without much direction, has been devastating. As the minutes tick by I know the symptoms I feel should be managed in an ideal situation and I know I could be more than I am. I know that I have some dangerous complications including sudden possible death by stroke, early Dementia and Alzheimer's, heart attack and blood clots due to one of my elevated blood markers which stem from a deeper issue...and reading about it prepares me in many ways but also overwhelms me and makes me wonder if I will find a medical professional who can help me through it the way my body needs to be treated. The pieces of why I can not even tolerate most vitamins or many foods are finally beginning to fit together. Yet, at the same time I know we are on a good path, even if it ends up being a detour, and that I have a few sturdy people in my life whom I can depend on to pick up whatever pieces fragment along the way. I am so thankful for these people who have their own life tragedies, illness and death to deal with. The record player is a tangible reminder of this proverbial horn of plenty. I can feel the soul in the music which reminds me of the souls in my life, in the earth, and in my home. The infusions of inspiration that may be small but matter. They matter as much as life itself matters.

Now I must turn the record player off and force myself to walk my daily walk, even though each step feels like a feat. Because life is a balance of both. The music prepares or heals after the journey or even fortifies during, but there are still active choices to be made. The dance is waiting.


Oh and I did end up painting our door purple...


Song Choice: Put your Records On- Corinne Bailey Rae

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Alan Watts- Life is NOT a Journey...It's a Musical. The Damaging Politics of Liberalism and Conservatism. The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling ( Yup it all ties in)



Podcast/video Quote; "But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.
Why?
Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance. But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade.

 Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world. Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that.

And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt. "

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts
***************************************

Musicals are my life blood. Since finding out I have even less literal healthy blood in me than originally thought, the musical has become even more central in my life. I can not pick one genre or revere the classics above all else. If music has passion, a message, an inspiration, a feeling captured, lyrics which move or rhythms that create movement...I am soul singing and mind dancing. Since as far back as my memory allows, I have viewed my life as a musical. I have mini soundtracks playing constantly in my head. When I can't express myself I send out a song. Some episodes of Glee can touch me more than any other media form. My photos make the most sense and trigger the most memories when they are set to music. I can not remember most facts but I can recall the lyrics from thousands of songs across multiple musical genres. Music IS me in so many ways.

The "life is a journey and not a destination" never fit my mentality. However, the phrase was useful to remind me, at one point of my life when I was all about "getting things DONE," to just be the process. But it wasn't a phrase that really encompassed the beauty, the playfulness that CAN be part of life. Life is a musical encompasses all of the dramatic, mundane and beautiful life moments. Part of my context is that I have within me, a formally christian perspective. Christianity is generally, disguised or not, all about the destination. Heaven. In the doctrine that I was immersed in early life, life is ultimately about dying..."dying to self", "dying to the flesh" and finally dying to reach heaven. Heaven was a more perfected version of life and the belief that you can have it all; ' the mansion', the relationships failed at magically perfected, the closure, the justice of other’s not seeing your way going to hell, the meetings of people that were otherwise not available in real life...and chance after chance in eternity. It makes sense that this is an appealing doctrine to so many. If you don't enjoy life or try to make the world a better place now, you have eternity if you say the prayer and follow Jesus. Obviously, this is a one size statement and does not apply to more enlightened individuals of that chosen faith.


I don't need the counter arguments or merits of it, because I KNOW them. If I had to choose a religion to take over the world Christianity would probably make the top five simply because of the striving for peace and morality it promotes. I am not anti christian but I do take multiple issues with the ridiculousness of some of the mentalities that have been handed down throughout generations considered 'biblical' when really it boils down to power. If you have the ultimate power over death and the mentality of the "right way" then really no human can ever shake or move you to any extent other than your own fellow believers... and that power has created so many disillusioned and sad relationships and poisoned earth or neglected it in the name of heaven and new earth or worse, in hopes of an upcoming or "happening great tribulation." Celebrating natural disasters in the name of "Christ's coming" instead of actually thinking upon climate change and our part in the conundrum. On the political spectrum, Conservatives restrain growth and hamper change, while liberalism is advocating yet ironically causing hypocrisy and damage to the deeper issues in the name of advocacy.

In both spheres there is beauty, but there is also a general lack of challenge when one is immersed in one mind set and surrounded by like minded literature, people and lifestyle in any of the spectrum's from conservative to liberal. I used to, and still do, lean more to the liberal end of the spectrum, however, I have been challenging myself in this area by listening to conservative intelligence. I grew up in conservative ignorance for the most part, but some of them were enlightened, so I do not lack the conservative viewpoint. Lately, I have been looking at the irony of liberalism speaking out about labelling and words, yet censoring other's freedom. The liberalist marching and yelling, insisting on immigrant's rights while neglecting the rights of the people who call the country home, proper name insistence, "advocacy" taken to extremes, yet blindly forgetting the core issues of WHY...neither approach has been satisfying. In both polarization's there is hypocrisy and the neglect about some true issues because of the hype of the fight.

Maybe I have become too comfortable in this word called 'advocacy' and forgetting about the actual reasons I wish for equality, justice and belonging? My re framing of the *Wal Mart issue years ago, brings into mind this change of stance (see bottom of post for more) among my other cliche liberalist mindsets. Don't get me wrong. I am glad I had those stages and these issues do need to be thought and activated on...but I am also determined to challenge myself when I get too comfortable in a stance. I also need to remind myself it's important to sing and dance. To ENJOY and savour whatever morsels of goodness life has offered up.

As for Schooling, my mentalities are echoed in John Taylor Gatto's book "Dumbing Us Down" and "Weapons of Mass Destruction-A School Teacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling." (Both found in my Library links.) The current school system that society upholds is still based on the Industrial Revolution's outdated concepts of pumping out factory workers. From bells, to desks, to 15 minute recess breaks, to grades, to social conditioning in the name of social "community." 

It's conformity. It is a babysitting service at best (which is unfortunately needed) and at worst, it shows our culture's outdated beliefs on achievements, possibility and quality of life. John Taylor Gatto was actually an educator in inner city education for decades, and he made some differences, but he knew from his experiences what issues we are facing within education. "Gatto asserts the following regarding what school does to children in "Dumbing Us Down": It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.


  • It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
  • It makes them indifferent.
  • It makes them emotionally dependent.
  • It makes them intellectually dependent.
  • It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
  • It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[12]
  • He also draws a contrast between communities and “networks,” with the former being healthy, and schools being examples of the latter. He says networks have become an unhealthy substitute for community in the United States."CLICK

    Alan Watt's describes exactly why I, amongst great anxiety and community protests, took my children out of school and in fact, some of the homeschooling mentalities too. "It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing...." I didn't wish for my children to live like that. I didn't enjoy living with the destination always in mind. I certainly disliked the memorization and conformity to authority and dependence on others for self esteem. This wasn't community. This wasn't healthy socialization. It was a copying of peers within one age group listening to ONE teacher's perspective each year, with history framed by the winner's perspectives and a compete or defeat mentality. Many parents say their kids want to stay in school- of course they do! It is what almost EVERYBODY does. It seems appealing. There are 'friends' to meet and goals to achieve. But whom is the experienced parent? Whom is the adult who understands, researches and knows and to whom it is possible to evolve and grow into a new satisfying role with their children? Many parents do not have the option for alternatives because of their relationship with money which is a whole other mentality that needs to change. Other parents do not have the resources or the support which is a legitimate issue that has so many roots to address. Single parenting especially requires more support and at least the educational system offers something for them...which shows the tragedy of our current culture. 

    I realize I may be isolating people from both sides of the spectrum, conservatives and liberals, educators and homeschoolers, which is not my intent but an unfortunate side effect of giving food for thought. I do not think my way is the only way. In fact, I firmly believe I grow in my perspectives every year by reading conflicting resources and finding new ways to DANCE through life. Not in thoughtless abandon but sometimes that beauty of enjoyment, creates more inspirational change in the world, simply by living the musical. Sometimes, when I grow my mind, the result actually ends up being more enjoyment ( ironically.) Alan Watts was an ENFP philosopher. If he did not grow his mind or think outside the box or write his discoveries he would not have spoken or challenged the whole point of life. He would not have asked us to consider the musical or dance. So I do not think life requires blissfully dancing through it, but I do not believe life is a destination either. Part of music is thoughtful composition. Part of the dance is the pre conceived. Thus, I think it is both abandon and thought, at once, in a paradoxical swirl.  

    "If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts.
    Post Addition: This post took a turn even I did not see coming until I wrote it. I realize it will probably tick most people off on some level, which isn't my intent as I love harmony but seems to be a great side effect of simply BEING ME and sometimes writing about it. Which I do not apologize for. However, I also realize it was a lot, unexpectedly, and that there is more context to consider along with many deeper root issues to what is discussed. I do not see me posting a follow up anytime soon, as there is a lot going on in our world. Stirring the pot is actually not one of my favourite past times even though it may seem like it is. I tend to be considered rebellious which is so ironic, because I am very focused on harmonizing in the world, yet I also believe in hashing it out in writing. This post just happened and I am unsure why, but I still felt it was important to write. If you look at the post I wrote before it, you will see the day to day in wish I strive to live my life...the magical existence of being. If you want more information and know me personally feel free to shoot an email and I can send out a few podcasts and books that may not have made it to my Library yet, as my depleted energy allows. Until then, my Library link above is a good place to start for curiosity... The next post I hope to write will be a contented, frivolous post all about records and my newly found rooted project, which probably would have been more appropriate for this post but oh well.

    *Several years ago we were anti Wal Mart and all that came with that mentality. The whole advocacy movement based on food choices and the places we could and would not shop at, because of the way they treated workers or third world rights...however, a particular moment challenged me in this area. A disabled worker that had worked at Walmart said, "They may not give me the best wages but it was the only job I could get. I also liked it. I liked greeting people. It was one of my only opportunities. If you refuse to shop at a place like that- you are only hurting the little people like me because our jobs our cut. You are not hurting the big guy in charge...my only job is affected." Hearing that, I realized that this could be applied to the sweat shops and factories that have lurid conditions but extend life in the context that they ARE. It is one thing if I go to the source to make change. If I personally know a CEO of the company than it IS my responsibility to help them see ways to improve their businesses. If I can affect change by my context I should...but if I do not..if I am not going to travel to the sweat shops and get gritty and creative to think on ways to promote change, then I shouldn't be haughtily refusing and judging those who buy Nestle products or shop on Amazon. I realized that the way I affect change begins in the choices I make at home, how to create ripples in the world that I actually have autonomy over and how every person is different within context. A disabled worker at Walmart may want better pay and treatment, but another one may love their job and the payment is enough to get them by. If I know this labourer, my job is to go help them live the way THEY want to live...not the way I think they should live...There are so many more deeper roots of issues we advocate for that we forget about in the name of improvement. Improvement is a beautiful concept but it has to be organic, and with the person to person aspect in mind...there are so many other layers to this that would require one on one conversing. This is just a tiny example of where I was challenged in my snotty advocacy over eight years ago. Sure, in a way I was helping by drawing attention to these issues, but in most ways I really was not doing much at all other than giving airs and not thinking the steps through that I should do on a day to day basis instead.


    Song choices: The theme Dance was too easy but these are the songs that immediately popped into my head:
    Side note: I just got to watch this guy and meet him briefly. One of my favourite moments this summer was at the concert, dancing with my kids and husband next to my best friends...my friend and her daughters and my kindred and her husband...


     and this is probably one of my favourite feel good songs EVEH!

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    The Ordinary Magic (That maybe isn't so ordinary) Of Being Alive. Inside a Happy Moment of the Home of Anam Cara.

    It was one of those rainy nights in which the fireplace flickered across the carpet. Bellies were satisfied with delicious morsels of fish seasoned with avocado oil, dill and lemon, and mashed potatoes perfected to creamy swirls of satisfaction. The window was washed with droplets of sacred water. Instead of creating rainbows of sunlight, the light catchers dripping from the window casings reflected murky gray. Outside the panes, the Gothic arch opening in the front wall framed the muted green tones of the outer world. Gnarled branches grew over the frame and two trees stood guard on either side of the arch, roots twisted and deep. 

    It was in this environment that I found myself thinking upon time and other such importances, and I realized, with urgency, that I needed to paint my door a deep purple...I have been begging for a purpley red door since I realized black would be too hot on our south facing home, but I finally convinced my husband that it was meant to be. And then I laughed when I looked up the significance of a purple door (I believe that my best life is lived when I see the connections and significance in all things) and found out that a purple door means "a Witch lives here." We will still be painting our entrance a burgundy purple.
    On a night that sings softly of Autumn I feel the magic of being alive. Sometimes living is bone weary exhausting, but on soft nights with spilled lamplight, nurturing food and beautiful surroundings it would seem that the abundance of simply breathing can sometimes beget the simplest magic. Sometimes being alive is at it's most profound in the mellow beauty of meetings. Where nature and materially crafted collide in a fusion of elegant, inspirational beauty. The moment was too tender not to share.

    Our home is named Anam Cara, taken from one of our favourite books in our twenties. "You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with Anam Cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home."- John O Donnohue. It is to awaken the awareness of your own light nature and accept this in oneself, in order to appreciate the beauty in others.

    Anam Cara reflected warmth and healing contrasted by the drizzle of sorrowful rains. This home seems to be at it's most magical when the outer world is cold, dark or drained of colour. Inside the door, the warm hues of purples, oranges, browns, reds, greens, and yellows meld together in an infusion of inspiration and comfort. It's a haven for the travel weary...usually those souls who may not go anywhere but need respite from the bitter truths of survival.


    As the skies darkened, the crystals in the window began to sparkle subtly. They were slightly swaying reflections of the light around the room contrasting against the black of night. The Gothic arch was almost encased in black if it wasn't for the solar lights nestling on it's corners. The teary rain turned into a light torrent that was pounding into puddles and splashes could be heard on the sidewalk outside. The ancient dance of hearth and environment engaging provided a soothing backdrop to pondering and musings.

    My soul sang murmured agreements. Soft whispered sighs of, "Yes this is what it is, in the best of moments, to be alive." My children were laughing in their rooms, the sounds echoing off the walls and carrying to my sitting place, kissing me with muffled joy. My husband was comfortably sprawled over the couch across from me, reading his book, his mind traversing through time, lost in the celtic world of North Umbria circa 890. I could feel the magic of transportation humming from his aura. Looking up from my screen, my gaze raked his stocky form, happy that a man so strong and able was nestled next to me, restoring himself for the next day's labour. Back to my computer, the modernity comfortably mixed with the ancient. It wasn't jarring. It was simple. Instead of parchment and ink, I was drumming my fingers on a lighted machine, but the same feelings of old were coming out into the world through a medium.

    Sometimes, in the hustle of life, I forget that savouring and taking notice of what I have, opening myself up to the ordinary pleasures of BEING, are within my grasp most of the time. Time is the most treasured possession I have and too often I forget to pay attention to what is within my time frame. To appreciate and take stock of all that is abundant, good and right. Sometimes, Anam Cara has a way of bringing this home to my soul more than any other place can. Rightfully so. And sometimes I need certain conditions of nature to force my recognition. My husband and I are creatures of Autumn. We become our best selves in the season of decay. I am not sure why this is, but I embrace the tastes of Autumn days during the year that allude to the Season.

    Occasionally, I forget, even though my personality is a contrasting paradox, that the world can be at it's most beautiful in contrasting dualities. I forget to take notice and accept the polarities. The comforting contrasts can be jarring or they can be welcoming. The difference or range of which one experiences jarring or welcoming, is in a feeling of safety to explore the differences, the beauty to encompass, and the ability to change perspective.

    The soft light of my screen is enhanced by the golden glow of a lamp casting it's warmth on our coffee machine in the next room. I can almost smell the brewed aroma of morning. The gentle clickety clack of my fast fingers across the keyboard are off rhythm to the rain swishing across the roof and trickling down the panes of glass beside me. Both are beauty. Both can bring life and both can destroy life if taken to their extremes.

    Now, I shall go outside into the deluge and be in wonder. Restored and renewed, drenched in rain water, witnessing the growth of the earth and the shimmer of trees. May your ordinary magic be experienced tonight or tomorrow or maybe in one of your Todays.

    Song Choice: After I wrote this the lyrics of Across the Universe popped into my mind, "Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
    They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
    Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
    Possessing and caressing me"- The Beatles



    Friday, July 28, 2017

    The Summer is my Winter Season PART TWO. Summer for The Chronically Ill. Easing Summer Guilt for the Chronically Ill. Bitter Truths and Acceptance. Tips and Hacks To Summer Survival.

    Introduction:
    *This is a follow up post to "The Summer is My Winter Season" which I wrote about HERE last summer. I ended that post with; "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...." Or my body. This post will be focusing on how Summer effects the body for the Chronically Ill and also how that in turn, affects the mind.*



    The Challenges of Summertime:
    Summer. That time of the year when everyone seems to be outside in the sun all day, laughing on beaches, trimming outdoor hedges, sipping on sugary drinks or licking dripping heaps of ice cream, exploring and adventuring. And those who suffer from Chronic Conditions (*a disease that lasts longer than three months and often has long lasting effects and day to day fluctuations in symptoms), have to fight the feeling that they are less than human for not participating in a 'normalized' way. Often these diseases are "invisible" in the sense that those who suffer from them can look normal. They are also often cyclical. There are flare weeks or times when a sufferer can barely get out of bed, but then there are moments when the body almost seems "normal" and is able to carry on day to day existence without too many issues. Many of these conditions can cause an increase in symptoms with time change, travel, new foods, weather, and time limits on sun exposure for varied reasons, which makes summer tricky. Add to the list, limited energy or mobility, and it is easy to see why Summer can be the biggest challenge of the year for someone who is sick.

    A Sense of Loss:
    Summer is the season I struggle with a sense of loss. I am typically not a lonely person. I enjoy solitude and hermitage. However, Summer can bring out my inner struggle with feeling left behind. What I also dislike about Summer, is that most of the year I can get away with not seeing people or not attending events, but in the Summer I feel it is more noticeable. I feel judged for being the person who fails to show up. This happens especially with extended family. I can see them in the winter, and everyone is tired or wishes to watch a movie while being sprawled on the couch. But in the summer there is this expectation to have energy at family gatherings and meals. To DO something, swim, stay longer, extend the time into a picnic, explore outdoors, or go on a spontaneous trip. And I end up being the person who not only declines, but puts a cork in everyone else's plans of inclusion. Summer is when I feel most misunderstood. I don't feel heard.

    The Pressure to Stay:

    People will say phrases like, "A day at the beach reading by the water will be relaxing." or "A summer BBQ will be fun! You only have to stay for an hour..." Then when I try to leave, the looks and questions and people pressuring me to stay or for my family to stay while I 'go have a break at home', makes it even worse. I don't want to be away from my family. I want to build summer memories with them too. I would rather do something that I can handle, with them present, because my time with my children and husband are precious to me. I don't wish to be left behind or away from them so I will try to show up when I can or present a different plan to them that may not include the others who do not understand or accommodate.

    The food at a BBQ could trigger a flare up and depending on the day, I may have already used up all my energy on a thing called ' getting up.' A day at the beach for someone with Lupus could be deadly. For someone like me, with Lyme's, it will mean fun in the sun for awhile, but then my hidden bacteria enjoy the heat and come out to play from their hidden homes deep in my organs. Thus, for weeks after a full day in the sun, I can be in pain or the Flu.

    YET, I remember days in the sun. I WISH I could go enjoy them without suffering. Sometimes I have to bite back envy when I see a family picnicking in the summer heat and laughing over a BBQ with friends. I remember what it was like. I enjoy aspects of life in that regard too even if I can not sustain the energy anymore. Sometimes, I will choose to suffer later for the sake of NOW. Sometimes, on the rare occasion, I CAN suddenly partake in these events without lasting consequences, so it can also be confusing for people to see the pictures of me doing the same event I declined of theirs on a good health day. There is a real sense of isolation in the summer I do not experience at any other time.


    The Chronic Guilt that Comes With Chronic Illness:

    I also struggle with epic levels of guilt. I have to fight phrases like:
    - I SHOULD have been able to take my kids out for more than an hour on such a beautiful day.
    - I SHOULD be able to swim for a little while anyway.
    - I am ALWAYS the one who has to say No.
    - I RUIN every one's plans.
    - I seemed like SUCH a crank but it hurt to smile.
    - I am SO BORING. I couldn't laugh or crack jokes like everyone else because I felt that migraine of exhaustion and through the brain fog I could barely hear what anyone was saying. My memory failed and I could not think of anything to say and it was hard enough to remember who I am let alone engage in stimulating conversation. I am an interesting person. Why could I not have conveyed that?
    - I can be such a full blown bitch. I just don't have the energy to pretend at nice anymore or the filter for my mouth. Why couldn't I have refrained from allowing my inner bitchiness to come out?
    - I enjoyed that person but they had not idea because I could not communicate that feeling. My brain froze up and my communication skills were impaired due to the pain in my body. I WISH I could have been better company.

    Those statements come to me in varied ways, almost every night of summer. I fight the guilt from the disappointment I hear from a fellow family member's voice when I say I can not attend their wedding or funeral or shower or get together.

    Flack and Expectations from Other Sufferers:

    Even my fellow sufferers of chronic conditions, can make living with chronic illness worse. Because they may not have the same triggers, so they may say damaging phrases like, "Well I can do that and I have ___." Or "You just power through and it's worth it."

    Let's not do that to each other.

    Some conditions can be a worse diagnosis but have less side effects than a slow going one. We never know what someone is dealing with. We don't know how tired their brain is or how depleted their body is. We don't know if someone is on the brink of hospitalization even if they are standing in front of us smiling and looking normal like usual. Fellow sufferers can be tough on each other, if they do not think outside their own boxes, to realize that every trigger is different. For instance, a bit of sun will make me feel warm and comforted. Due to extremely low Ferritin and iron levels, my limbs are always ice. The feeling of being warm can be a huge relief. But for my aunt with Lupus, I have to remind myself NOT to ask her to sit on the deck with me, for even a short time, in the sun. Little bits of sun are healing for me. I have to remember not to encourage the same sort of healing offhandedly to her.

    Accepting Chronic Illness But Still Suffering Depression Side Effects:

    The fact is, I have come, mostly to terms with my health. I know I have good and bad days. I also choose to look at my conditions as learning tools to embracing life when I can and relaxing into letting go the rest of the time. Yet, even with my mind healthy approach I struggle with depression. I don't want it all. But sometimes I want a little part of that freedom people with health take for granted. The gutting truth is that we, the chronically ill, ARE missing out on some aspects of life. Little things like being able to randomly eat a new food without paying for it. Or sporadically being able to have the energy to sustain a quick day trip. That is a loss that requires grieving from time to time. When we manage to do something "normalized" we get this insane high and we think, "Maybe I am getting better! Maybe I can do this activity." And so we bravely try another adventure on a good day in the future, or even the exact SAME activity to a devastating result. The previous high enhances the inevitable low moment of 'normalized failure.'

    Broken Dreams, New Dreams and Altered Expectations:

    I love Broadway and concerts. I love music and dancing and my soul flies when I can participate in any of my interests this way. But I have had to leave concerts I loved because I was sick or felt like I would fall over from my exhaustion. And when this has happened, I cried and cried. I WANTED to be where I was not. I paid money for the ticket. I invested hopes and dreams into the moment. I probably had to pull out my partner from the event and also ruin their time. Yet, I can't just turn back and say, "Oh I'll make my body trudge through!" My bodily limitations will not allow that. When my body is done with pretending- it stops functioning normally. I can't force my blood cells to grow larger with healthy red oxygen. I can't force the Lyme bacteria to go back into hiding or stop triggering food intolerance's. I can't ask my Celiac to give me a break when it is accidentally glutened. Even if I chose to have my Endo tissue removed from around my organs in a risky surgery, I would STILL feel the phantom effects (or so I have heard from all sufferers I know of the same condition.) I just have to go along with my body which sometimes feels like it is not my own. It feels like I am stuck in a vessel that is not truly all me. It is hijacking me for a terrible ride into pain.

    Kindness and Forgiveness to Self and Others:

    Carly Jennings wrote an excellent article on 8 Tips to heal from Autoimmune Disease HERE and I highly recommend the read. But I wanted to highlight two of her points;

    "Kindness: To yourself first and foremost because this is an incredibly difficult challenge and many people will not understand. You are doing your best everyday. Give yourself credit and be proud of yourself. Also be kind to those who help and support and love you. It will make you feel better too.
    Forgiveness: It will take time to forgive those friends/family who leave you and those who judge you. It may take longer even to forgive yourself and your body for failing. To rid yourself of the thick heavy guilt of somehow causing this or for being a burden. I believe long-term (invisible) illness is one of the biggest tests of character one can face. Dealing with the all consuming harsh physical reality alongside judgment and stigma is beyond overwhelming and unfair. Of course you are justifiably angry but after a while you do realize that your energy is better spent elsewhere and you have to begin to let it (and other people) go. Release it all and forgive when you can."

    Over the last ten years, due to chronic illness and diagnosis of different brain wiring, I have completely overhauled ALL of my relationships. Differing people have become my support while others have gone to the background of my life, while others have left or I have booted them out, completely. The ones I have the hardest time with are those who I have explained through writing or given chances at understanding, but STILL continually give me a hard time or silently sit on judgment about who I am. Or constantly ask, "Why?" I don't have the energy or desire to explain how I am doing outside of my writing so I will fakely say, "Fine."  I find it worse when I am accused of being selfish because they mix up with my limitations due to symptoms and differences with my ethics. I don't have a relationship with a few previous sibling like relationships because of this factor. I have had pressure to conform and I conformed for more than half of my current life. It isn't happening any more. My 'health happy days are too precious to me.

    The Comparisons from Family:

    There is a woman of my extended family whom is a cherished part of my support. She is an incredible person who has had her bowel removed from Colitis, RA, Kidney Failure, a slow growing rare form of lung cancer AND diabetes. She constantly hosts people in her home, makes us meals at age 70 plus, and travels. She doesn't understand me even though she deeply loves me. I have less of a cocktail of health than her, though my conditions are quite a mouthful too, yet I have less energy than her. I also come from a different cultural mindset and I firmly believe some of her conditions were enhanced from her giving too much. She is often stressed about people. She gets so tired out after company even if she enjoys it and I refuse to live my life that way.

    We are also completely opposite personality types. What she sees as love - I see as burdens and vice versa. She remarked recently to my mother, "What is wrong with her? She used to go to everything and now she goes to nothing. It is so hurtful. I am concerned about her and doesn't she care about anyone? That is just what family does. They SHOW up for each other even when in pain. I do it all the time. Why can't she?"

    First off, I am an introvert. I already was born with less energy for other people. Add to that being an Aspie, and there will NEVER be a lot of people at a time on my investment list. Especially if they need a lot of attention or support to understand my odd ways. I just can't invest that way. I give a lot but to a very contained group of people, whom I also get from in some way or another, in general. For the first 26 years of my life I gave and gave and gave to anyone who needed me. I was WAY sicker than I am now (believe it or not.) I also was miserable and stressed often.

    I will always love her and the rest of my extended family. I show up where I can. Send money often when I can't 'be there' or find creative ways of giving without too much physical effort.

    When The Pressure 'TO DO' Bleeds On to My Children:

    I also feel this pressure for my children. Members of the extended family will often come to my children with some idea of activities they can get involved in, summer camps...basically everything that was my childhood and I struggled through. Constant event, after constant event and yes, some are amazing opportunities. In my childhood, I had some epic experiences, but they did NOT make me who I am. I enjoyed many of them, but I also suffered and have no desire to repeat that life for my children. Add my chronic illness that has been going through a rougher time lately, and I barely have the energy to make sure my children know they are loved and taken care of some days. Although most of my energy will go to them in schooling and spending time with them...which I love.

    They are NOT missing out. We give them many other life moments that I can manage within my own limitations and time frames. We think outside the box. Yet when I say, "NO" to summer camp, my entire extended family takes it upon themselves to gang up on me, "Why not- you have to let go of your kids sometimes." or "It will be healthy for them." or "It's school credits. Why wouldn't you use this opportunity." And for months or years until the event is over and done, I will hear about it occasionally from one of them trying to convince me that the activity is the right thing to do.

    Occasionally, I will get justifiably angry at the well meaning interference. Yet, even though we are not always close, I do rely on my extended family for support and in a way we are excellent family to each other. I have had to implement more boundaries over the years and distance, but I generally appreciate the time I have with them. Thus, I have had to learn to let people go and let the anger go...or smile and nod, "Probably not, but thank you for thinking of my child." It's only when they become pushy that I decide to leave the situation or write a text like this later, "Thank you for videoing that summer camp for our daughter as an option. She felt very loved and valued by you by doing that. Now that you have given us that option we will think on it over the upcoming year and let you know if we decide it is something we will do. If it is not, she will still have a valuable and meaningful life. Its a great opportunity - just like many things in life. As a family we have to all be on the same page and some things CAN wait till she is older. While you can encourage her in her dreams and goals , please do not pressure her to see this as her only choice of fun or summer thing to do. We will decide eventually and are thinking upon it but we are in no rush to part with her for 3 weeks. She has only a few years left of being a child in our home and a lifetime of adult opportunities. Anyway, she loved that you thought of her and that means a lot to everyone so thanks." 

    I know that the opportunities are good. However, it is just as fine to live a normal quiet life without those activities. Our culture has a huge fear of missing out. Chronic illness has taught me that sometimes missing out CAN be painful but, once balanced, there ARE other valuable ways to enjoy life. Even knowing this, and seeing my children thrive and be calmer and more confident versions of their peers even though they do way less, still does not ease the guilt.


    You Did NOT Cause Your Condition:

    The fact is that the guilt that comes with chronic illness never fully goes away. It comes and goes. But some seasons are longer lasting. I didn't make myself ill. For two of my conditions, (Celiac and Sensory Overload that comes with being Autistic since birth) I was sick most of my life. Endometriosis began in my teenage hood when my heavy periods did not account for the insane pain I had every month. For Chronic Lyme disease and co conditions, the one doctor predicted that I was infected sometime in my childhood and it was triggered by the birth of my children. I still have no idea why Anemia plagues me on and off through out the years to awful degrees of oxygen deprivation. My thyroid nodule probably was produced by everything else. Last year's sleep test showed genetic insomnia- yay, another condition that enhances my inability to show up for life in a way that matters to most people. These conditions trigger each other. I didn't cause this pain so why do I feel the brunt of the responsibility for it? No one wants that kind of attention...especially those of us who have tasted the freedom of a healthy life once upon a time. "I believe long-term (invisible) illness is one of the biggest tests of character one can face. Dealing with the all consuming harsh physical reality alongside judgement and stigma is beyond overwhelming and unfair."- Carly Jennings.

    Hacks and Tips for Going Out:

    I've  had to learn to take the teasing with a smile when it comes to the precautions needed for chronic illness. I keep track of my disinfectant as much as my debit card. If I am going out, so is my disinfectant. I wipe down shopping carts and door handles. My children also know that anything they touch has to be wiped off first and their hands are always waiting for a application of sanitizer if we are out on errands in crowded places. Why? Because getting sick with a bacterial infection ON TOP of chronic condition can not only be more enhanced and painful but life threatening. Or it's just pure misery on top of a daily struggle. I know, I had mono for the first part of this Spring and I am still recovering. This means, anyone who is in contact with me, has to also be cautious.

    I have to pace myself. I will often get dropped off at the door of an establishment, even if to onlookers, it looks that I am a young, lazy thirty year old. But this conserves my energy for the outing so it is worth it. I make sure I have an escape plan and secondary back up plan for the times we do go out.

    I also take pictures on ANY day that I actually get out of the house or look nice. I know it won't last so I want to have some memories tangible for my children as proof that I tried. It also helps me to be grateful for my life to see myself smiling, even if I was tired, because of the gratitude I had for life.


    For more tips on summer hacks click HERE and HERE. If you have younger children click HERE for thirty ideas of summer fun while chronically ill. Also, check out the list of helpful links I left below this post.

    The Bitter Truth:

    I have really been struggling this summer, like each summer before. I valiantly apply perspective. However, on bad days, I have to admit, being chronically ill can be devastating. One of the worst parts for me is feeling nothing but wanting to feel joy. The other day we had a lovely time going out for coffee in the morning with a cherished aunt, followed by my children swimming in the grandparents pool while I laid down and talked to my best friend inside, followed by a trip to the theatre with my sister for the latest Spiderman (which we all loved.) I rarely see my sister and barely hang out with her for long periods. But I could not manage to think of anything to say.

    My head was pounding and even though the day was good, I just felt exhausted. It's an effort sometimes to speak. When I am this low in iron I can't finish the bars of a song. I love singing along to songs. It's really hard on me and sucks the joy out when the breath stops and I have to sit quietly to regain some oxygen. Later that night I felt incredible guilt. I felt like the bitch of the family again. I am known as the cold one with dramatic tendencies. The Rachel Berry of the family...dearly loved, fiercely protected, but constantly misunderstood and mocked. My husband often teases that I was born with a star over my head. That though I am hated by many, I always seem to have those ones who would do anything for me, no matter how much of a high maintenance case I am... This is true at times. My kids also say that watching Glee I am most like Santana, I say horrid things that seem very funny even though they are kind of bitchy. My daughter says it's what she loves most about me. It makes me relieved to know that even with my hard hitting comments and sassy tones, I am still loved. I have a sweet side too that has been well cultivated but if I had my filters off, I probably wouldn't be thought of as 'kind.'  However, I know how I come across at all given moments and it's tough when I am trying to convey love but don't actually do so. I know when I am perceived as not interested or 'off.' But in those moments, when exhaustion is the culprit, I can't explain and I can't even pretend...which is huge for me, if I can't pretend...

    On that outing, I barely talked to my sister. The kids and hubby took over and had a good time, but I felt disenchanted. I loved Spiderman but at the same time I barely laughed though I was smiling inside. It took too much energy to laugh with the others. I wanted to lie down the entire time and this time I wasn't even paranoid about the theatre because I was too tired to care. The next day, after an ok sleep, I suddenly felt the energy to laugh or entertain, but it was too late. I wished I would have been the fun sister...but then again, I only was that girl when my sister was a teen and even then, my INFJ persona lends an aspect of seriousness that doesn't scream fun. But I can still make my loved ones laugh by saying ridiculous things or my off humour, but I didn't that night and I regretted my exhaustion. Then I was mad at my illness for robbing me of simple moments. I was angry that illness forces me continually to reevaluate the meaning of life, the beauty of simplicity, and the bittersweet.

    Why must I always think upon these things? Why must I be the one who not only suffers from the condition, but has to manage it, explain it, understand it, and accept it? The bitter truth is because I have to. It's both beauty and pain. If I do not look at the dark and light of it, I will find myself either in immense depression or insane despair. It is what it is. I will be what I am. It's a cycle of acceptance, depression, inner peace and anger. Different days will trigger different phases. Perhaps that is why those who suffer from these conditions are often brave people who understand the meaning of life in an old soul way? But it's NOT glamourous. It's not idealistic though my idealistic self will add aspects of that into the picture when I write... it's real life which means it evolves and adapts and is never linear. It's gritty and unfair. Such is life. Chronic illness seems especially unfair because it is. It's not easy to spot, understand or cure...let alone manage. It effects everything and isn't just about the body but about the spirit and mind. I can have the most positive attitude, eat healthy, exercise, meditate, and do all the things I am supposed to do, but I will STILL have flare ups. I am sick less then I used to be due to strict management and the actions I mentioned above, but sickness side effects still happen. I am still playing host to the bacteria, the small blood cells and low ferritin, the reactive villi, the differently wired prefrontal cortex, the nodule, and the tissues wrapping themselves around my pelvic organs while being sleep deprived. I can't do much about any of that in the long run even if I maintain, manage, and help. That is a bitter pill to swallow. Even tougher is to witness what this ends up taking from me...moments as simple as summer nights...and "summer dreams being ripped at the seams..."

    To be honest, the lyrics that pop into my head every morning when I wake up are, "Each morning I get up, I die a little. Can barely stand on my feet. Take a look in the mirror and cry...lord what you doing to me?"- Somebody to Love, Queen. The rest of the song doesn't really apply to my situation but those few bars are incredibly accurate.

    Conclusion:

    It would be wrong to say I hate summer. But sometimes I do. The post I wrote last year HERE sums it up nicely, "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 many people, 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."




    *Examples of a Chronic Disease would be any Autoimmune Condition ( Lupus, Lyme, Celiac, M.S., Thyroid ect), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Anemia, Endometriosis, PCOS, Cancers, Dysautonomia, ect.ect.

    *While this post can somewhat apply to mental illness I left those out because I have covered my struggle with anxiety and depression in other posts. See side label for more.

    HELPFUL LINKS:
    At home Activities and online resources for people with Chronic Illnesses: http://standinguptopots.org/livingwithpots/self-improvement 

    9 Summer Survival Tools when You have Chronic Illness: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-copen/9-summer-survival-tools-w_b_5548406.html

    Two other people's experience with guilt:
    https://themighty.com/2016/05/experiencing-guilt-with-a-chronic-illness/

    https://www.healthcentral.com/article/coping-with-the-guilt-of-chronic-illness

    How to Overcome Summer Loneliness:
    http://thehealthsessions.com/how-to-overcome-summertime-loneliness/

    28 Things To Do When you Are Bored and Sick at Home:
     http://thehealthsessions.com/28-fun-things-to-do-when-youre-bored-and-sick-at-home/

    Another post about Struggling with Chronic Illness:
    http://carlyjennings.co.uk/health-healing/journalling/

    What to Do if You have A Fear of Missing Out:
    http://living-brightly.com/inspiration-harmony-bliss/when-fomo-is-real/

    Song Choice: Cruel Summer ( of course:) Bad Blood- HA HA because I literally have bad blood. I have an odd sense of connection:) and Counting Stars by One Republic as well as Fight Song by Rachel Platten.


    THIS is also a good list of songs for those with Chronic Illness.

    Monday, July 24, 2017

    INFJ. The Many Contradictions, Ironies, Dualities, and Paradoxes of the INFJ Personality Type. The Strengths and Weaknesses of INFJ's. A Glee Analogy To INFJ's. Breaking down the Contradictions in Each Letter of I. N.F.J.

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

    A phrase in Fun's song, "We are Young" croons, "Tonight we are young, so let's set the world on fire, We can burn brighter, than the sun." I love this song. But each time I hear that line, even after years of it being on my favourites playlist, I am plagued with my duality of thought. On one hand I think, "YES!! Let's burn bright." Then I proceed to picture myself running with those I love, in the perfect outfit, and dancing in the honeyed hue of just before twilight, smiling as the song bursts from all of our mouths in unison. My heart speeds up in anticipation of doing something youthful and memorable. The other part of me wishes to warn everyone I know that burning brighter than the sun does not have to be a magnificent, epic, Hollywood gesture. It can be as simple as a sick person resting into their convalescing season, or a depressed soul managing to brush their teeth, or a parent basking in the delight of their children's milestone...setting the world on fire varies depending on the moment and what one is capable of. My heart slows down with the logical realization that I am already burning bright by being who I am. But then I get caught up in the rest of the song which means singing loudly and feeling the urge to do something spontaneous and loud, while many other thoughts carousel in my mind.


    See what happens to my INFJ brain with ONE sentence of song lyrics? I am torn into my two opposing sides, both of which the thoughts play in my brain simultaneously, of rational thinking, and epic romance. I think this is part of the reason why the TV series Glee spoke to me and is still my 'feel good/ go to show' when I am struggling or needing inspiration. Most INFJ's may not feel the same way, because my experience is based on upbringing, but hang in here with me, while I explain why this brings home an example of INFJ thinking.

    Glee (mainly Seasons 1-3) brought to life all the music, movies, film, and dance numbers I grew up on and was obsessed with and combined it with hard hitting issues of acceptance, teen pregnancy, bullying, abuse, being a minority, religion, hypocrisy, drugs, suicide, alcohol, sex, commitment, texting and driving, inequality, ableism, and many other worthy themes. Ironically, sometimes it was done in a sacrilegious or sarcastic tone. Sometimes it was harsh with the material and other times incredibly gentle. All mental conditions or minority stances spoken on the show, were given both respect and awareness, yet also dark jokes and mean spirited comments, which equalized many disabilities, differences, and mental illness with both a dark and light approach. All were up for defending and also up to the same treatment. This is what INFJ's often will encompass- a sense of darkness and light, or seriousness in a funny situation or laughter in a serious situation. We have a dark sense of humour and can laugh at seemingly cruel things if presented in a certain harmless way, yet we are compassionately engaged with the innocence of difference and often will be found fighting for the underdogs.

    Many INFJ's who did not grow up like I did, may not enjoy Glee. Glee did not always make sense from the week to week standpoint. The writing wasn't fluid from show to show. As I watch the episodes post production, I can appreciate that aspect now, knowing that my expectations have already been disappointed in some cases and exceeded in others. Episodes that used to bother me, I can now enjoy. Some episodes I still skip over entirely but it doesn't really matter in the end. Some episodes I watch for the singing, and others I watch for the overarching theme of the week and skip some songs. It appeals to my hopeless romantic and unrealistic side and indulges it...because often the side I choose to live in the day to day is my logical realistic one. Yet, it also pulls the heart strings with it's episodic lessons or real world issues.

    Glee is morally and ethically complex. If it doesn't trigger or bother a person in one episode, it will most likely do so at least once a season. At the same time, viewers who stick with it into later seasons, will also find that this same triggering aspect can happen for comfort and feelings of belonging. This is most likely, the experience most people have being friends with an INFJ. We can be challenging and comforting simultaneously. INFJ's can push the envelope simply by being ourselves. There are comforting segments of Glee, that have made my mostly Glee disliking husband leak a few tears, because he is deeply touched, when I force him to sit and watch. This complex duality is like my INFJ soul. "I'm an odd combination of 'really sweet' and 'don't mess with me.'"

    As INFJ's we are capable of making a person feel the most understood, but we can also tear that same person down with our words of insight, if we decide to use them as weapons instead of soothing balms. This contradiction can confuse those around us. We can be mushy and tough all at once. Atticus wrote, "She wore a smile like a loaded gun." This applies to an INFJ woman. We make loyal and life changing friends, to the people we actually allow to come close enough to our inner realms of friendships, but we can also be formidable enemies.


    Although it takes a lot to push us to enemy status of which I wrote about HERE. INFJ's are capable of whirling through anger and leaving behind a bit of devastation they deeply regret later. This can especially happen if triggered by ignorance and lack of compassion. Conflict and criticism can drive us to the brink of annoyed crazy. My husband has a habit of being a pot stirrer. He can thrive off of conflict and I have had to tone down my balking reaction to this aspect of his ENFP soul. He has also had to learn to tone down his conflict seeking adventures when I am around. We balance each other out on most days but sometimes our differences ignite sparks. He is also quite the pessimist despite his bubbly persona and he can criticize in reckless abandon when he wishes. I seem serious and sometimes brooding, but surprisingly cling to optimism when it comes to the priorities nearest to my heart and belief in the world. Nothing will make me more irritated than constant criticism or idle gossip (luckily he is NOT an idle gossip.) If I hear more than three criticisms in an hour I will start snapping at him. And then, ironically, if this continues to happen for more than half a day, I will turn my irritation on HIM and criticize him with soulless detail. It never ends well. "INFJ no better friend, no worse enemy."


    Luckily, to counter balance this hidden sinister darkness inside, INFJ's have epic levels of self control. This control is usually checked from learning the hard way in our past, that our zinging perceptions, when targeted, can cause us more pain in the end then we bargained for. INFJ's can usually refrain from and harness our capability of ripping the soul out of our victim with our insight filled words. If we do give in to our anger, usually we are not relieved later, and feel awful for losing control and inflicting pain. We are at our best when life is in harmony, including our interactions. We probably relive and reopen the wounds more than most of our victims of temper, for years later, into the late hours of the night...this applies even to the times when the anger was justified. I work on this factor of myself with appropriate boundaries.

    Boundaries are deeply needed for INFJ's. Usually we are not very good at them until we practice, practice, practice. We also often have to learn to accept what Brene Brown coined, "Our shame stories." We are hard on ourselves sometimes, even if it seems that INFJ's are full of themselves...We just know ourselves and our gifts. There is the flip side and we have the other side that needs a lot of work. We can seem to have insight into all other people but ourselves at times. It's a character trait that demands growth for the INFJ's. Two books that helped me on this subject were "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown and "Necessary Endings" by Henry Cloud Townsend. (Links can be found in my Library.)


    Our paradoxes also reach into our intelligence. We love to research, intuitively seek out information, and build up our resources. Yet, the more we become informed, the less we fit in. Already we feel the contradicting frustration of society not understanding us, yet loving that we are unique enough to rarely be understood. We both love and hate our own contradictions. Our lives are enhanced and disenchanted by our own duplicity. Our desire to be well informed is also at odds (like the cartoon expresses below) with our 'desire to remain sane.' We are so contradictory to most of society, that the more we engage in controversial or outside the box thinking, the more alien we feel. 

    Aldous Huxley wrote," The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude." This rings true for INFJ's and INTJ's although, I disagree with the quote applying to all of humanity. While it is true that solitude takes out the influences of the dumb, zombie mass mentality factor, there have been MANY brilliant original and powerful minds that have also been Extroverts. To not factor this in, would be pretentious and discriminatory to those who get energy hits off of other people (Extroverts.)


    INFJ's tend to LIVE the Matrix. That show never shattered my reality or was mind blowing to me, because I already felt that way about life. I've always rebelled at the nature of normality. I don't understand why Alice went home after Wonderland. Yet, I still have to BE in this world, so some information or thought processes, I have to smother to stay sane, in the place I am supposed to be alive in. I possess a stubborn quality simply because I was born into a life that requires a participation level I think is ridiculous.

    Every personality type feels that they are a paradox sometimes, but INFJ's particularly feel like they ARE the living paradox. Even within our Introversion, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Judging explanations, we encompass opposing traits.

    Our Introversion is counterbalanced by our sometimes outgoing nature. We are often mistaken for Extroverts even if we are one of the types that craves hermit status the most. We ironically treat people the way we want to be treated and we don't make small talk with them. We are drawn to humanity...when we do not have to engage with the masses. We think about people ALL the time; dissecting, analyzing, observing, understanding and wishing to make the world a better place without being noticed too much. Yet, as soon as we are around a bunch of people, our inner Loki comes out. I can see how Loki, the god of mischief in Norse mythology, became so intent on ruling...his twisted burden of purpose is an example of the rare case of INFJ evil that COULD happen, if we don't use our superpowers for good. I think most INFJ's would agree with the statement to humanity that, "The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, identity."- Loki. How INFJ's come to terms with this realization pushes us either deeper into the shadows or a step into the brighter light.





    Our sensory aspect is so underdeveloped that we can seem highly sensory. The Intuitive letter is always our highest scoring description. We are definitely N's, however, our moderation demands our attention. We have to practice the middle ground. I have always been a person of extremes. I sleep way too much to counter balance my insomniac life. I work faster and harder than my husband at times and then lazily contend with the best couch potato for days of inactivity. I feel everything or nothing. I fall hard or resist to the proverbial death.


    We are often logical even though our feeling quotient is high. We empathize deeply but with an analytical approach. It's a cold feeling rationality that other feelers do not fully get. Actually, almost all personality types, other than our fellow INTJ's, don't understand this logical rational quality combined with our feeling status. We layer our coldness with warmth which the thinkers (T's) can not fully relate to either.
    Our Judging quality can often come across as a Perceiving type. We have moments of adaptability and spontaneity that some Perceivers can't even understand. My husband knows I like to plan everything. Truthfully, even my spontaneity is planned, in the sense that I have thought the whole spontaneous event quickly through with it's benefits and consequences, and I am ready to quickly switch gears. I can procrastinate longer than my ENFP husband, when I get in the mood, which is saying a lot.

    No wonder people get confused by INFJ's. INFP's feel we are too contradictory or fluctuating based on context, which often will conflict with their sense of authenticity. Yet, out of all the types, they often relate to us the most. INTJ's get our future orientated thinking and intuitive perspectives, but our feeling aspect throws them for a loop at times or seems wishy washy... ENFJ's our are sister types but are way kinder than us. ENFJ's have our backs. We connect with ENFJ's on our planning J features and also our harmony co pilot which we both fiercely protect. Both ENFJ and INFJ types get annoyed by conflict. ENFP's are often our better halves. They bring out our balance and we bring out theirs. Truthfully, any personality type can get along with another or understand to a point, but these types tend to get an INFJ more within these aspects. Unfortunately, INFJ's also tend to notice what people don't want noticed. We notice the inner unspoken details, the hypocrisy, and the lies.

    Especially the lies. The picture below expresses this well. "INFJ -when you know someone is lying but you just sit there and let them talk." And then proceed to allow them to carry on their lie for the rest of their lives if they wish, because you understand why they are lying and also understand the freedom of portrayal and speech. With the exception of the times when these lies are causing harm to others...and even then, the INFJ will go about exposing these lies behind the scenes, with calculated timing...but they KNOW. Oh they know...except for the rare time that their naiveté clouds perception. However, usually this is discovered down the line because it's also unlikely an INFJ is mislead for long, due to gut intuition. The one type that is often able to confuse an INFJ the most, is our polar opposite...ESTP's can foil our sense of stability like no other...

    Our contradictions also bleed into how others perceive us. INFJ's can seem like an open book full of information, and private details given with careless abandon. Certain personality types do not even speak about topics in such depth in one lifetime, that we do in one week. That is just the tip of the ice burg of thought for an INFJ. It's both a curse and a gift. Our minds are constantly swirling with information. We are continually changing and dedicated to personal growth. Which means it is rare that information yesterday is completely relevant for our tomorrows. We have layers of intimacy and layers of privacy that most do not understand. INFJ's implement weird rules for sharing. We are picky about which platforms we share on and which we completely ignore. It is different for each INFJ although, often we are attracted to similar platforms. Most INFJ's love blogging and pinning personality pins on Pinterest. The same rules we apply on social forums can apply to people. We share certain aspects of ourselves with certain types. Who we are depends heavily on context. People think they know us well from reading or witnessing a passionate speech, hearing our whispered confession in consolatory moments, or because of the rate and depth of information we share, but most people do not truly know or understand our inner workings. Even when we give them the key.

    Craig Thompson wrote, "You have so many layers, that you can peel away a few and everyone is so shocked or impressed that you are baring your soul, while to you it's nothing, because you know you've got at least twenty more layers to go."  My husband can still be surprised by my actions or nuances of being, even though I give him the running monologue on my inner workings daily. My best friend and I STILL have interesting and engaging conversations about new thoughts, patterns or insights after thirteen years of speaking an average of five hours a week on the phone. Many people in the past assumed they knew me because I handed them little bits of information to understand, at a small capacity or because I felt I owed them at least some sort of explanation. The fact is, INFJ's understand contradictions so well, that we can change our minds in an instant. What once applied in one circumstance, does not apply to us in another. Many people see this as uncommitted, selfish, or inauthentic, but we are extremely authentic individuals dedicated to the selfless act of context within a committed moment.

    We COULD win arguments, and we know this to the depth of our core, but we know that the complexity in which our arguments hold up our not worth the time of our opponents. They would have to know all the research, thought and perspectives we have spent decades thinking upon and honing in on to understand, thus we usually stay quiet, smile and nod, or just utter, "agree to disagree" or "Oh that could make sense" with a polite tone. To our friends, we will give a little bit more, but still we do not go into the wealthy amounts of information because we do not wish to waste their time with thoughts that are not theirs to engage with, in the first place...we can open doors but we do not wish to start new worlds for people. Their job is to walk through the door and create their own worlds.


     We can also look very incapable. Our sensory aspect is often so underdeveloped that we can become mute, silly phrased individuals in a sensory environment. Our superpowers go undercover and we are left with all of our incapabilities, to which there are many, at the same intense degree of our gifts. Just like our gifts can seem larger than life, our weaknesses also are.
     INFJ's are also intensely sexual, but based on depth of connection, because of our sensory overload factor. For once sensory overload is used for good in intimate circumstances. We like physical affection but on our terms. INFJ's can seem touchy but we dislike casual hugs or touch. The same way we dislike chit chat. It feels cheap to us, even if we understand that to other personalities it is highly valuable. We engage for the sake of others we care about, but in general we are a walking contradiction when it comes to intimacy and the ground rules apply, once again, based on circumstance. For instance, I adore hugs from my children and snuggles, but if they approach me in an in depth/ thought moment I may lightly push them away.
     INFJ's are constantly torn. We wouldn't have it any other way but sometimes this brings us more pain in life. Like the meme expresses below;
    "The INFJ thought process. Ni: I want to find the one true answer....Fe....in a way that maintains general harmony... Ti: without swaying too much from what feels logical... Se: while trying not to completely miss what is going on right now."

    Yup.







     "INFJ If I am silent, it's because there's thunder inside me. Or I'm just chilling, It depends. May the odds be ever in your favour." As Meredith Brooks sings, "I'm a little bit of everything all rolled into one..." and "I hate the world today...I'm your hell, I'm your dream. I'm nothing in between...you know you wouldn't want it any other way... Just when you think, You've got me, figured out, the seasons already changing...Tomorrow I may change and today won't mean a thing..." But for the record, today, while it is happening, matters to us. We feel the moment even if we are distracted by our ever intrusive thoughts. We may be future orientated, but we also strive to be in the moment, when we can, embracing life. Another paradox.



    My biggest hit on my blog is about the INFJ magic and oddness found here; http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/01/infj-magic-oddnessthe-door-slam-and.html 

     I wrote a post based on the insights of Michael Pierce's video on INFJ and include many of his quotes from the video segment here: http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/10/infj-michael-pierce-video-segment.html




    I also LOVED this site and found every word accurate: http://personalityjunkie.com/the-infj/ and this one: http://infjunraveled.tumblr.com

    To read more: https://culturaldisasters.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-elusive-infj/ (there is also a test link on there to clarify if you are an INFP or INFJ) and here are many of my favourite INFJ pins :https://www.pinterest.com/KAlluraMarie/infj-personality-infps-intj-quotes/ and https://www.pinterest.com/KAlluraMarie/infj-article-links-and-mbti-charts/

     Personality hacker has podcasts and videos on each type. Here is a few of their INFJ links:




     Song choice: I love this version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on Glee because the way it is done is kind of like an INFJ soul...contradictions between lyrics and music yet aptly accurate:





    My daughter also said I had to add this song because it reminds her of me. LOL.:



    and because I referenced " We are Young" in the first part of the post...I prefer this version over Fun's actually, which is rare for me to prefer the copy over original...