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Deliberative

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 said I’m deliberative. It was actually the last of my top five strengths. But, it’s the one I pride the most.

Always, I have been told that I am a good listener and that I give good counsel. This has fluctuated over the years, and finally, after 34 years of living, I’m starting to see the pattern.

You see, I’m also an introvert. I didn’t really know what that meant either until less than a decade ago. And, as I continue to grow up into my 30s, I become more self-aware. Thankfully, I think, I am learning something.

So, what am I learning?

I am learning that I don’t like to work in fast paced environments. I used to enjoy the periodic thrill, for example, of checking in a group of 200-500, then resting, sorting through the chaos and making order of it all. I used to think that fast paced strengthened my skills in multi-tasking. Somewhere along the way, as society has learned this too, I realized that there is no such thing as multi-tasking for the human brain. Sure, I hold many things in tandem, but I can only do one thing at a time. So, while I may pause to answer the phone, then go back to the document I was editing, I’m really only doing one thing at a time. What’s more, I realized that the more I focus on the one thing at a time, the better I do at it.

Sure, there is something to be said for diversifying projects. I enjoy how multiple projects overlay and give new ideas and creativity to each other. But, when you tip the balance too far into the multi-tasking “over kill range”, you lose focus on all.

I am deliberative. I enjoy having time to take that pause. I enjoy having the time to process all those inputs and think about all those lessons I’m supposed to be learning. I love thinking (intellection was my #2 strength) and pondering how they wrap around my beliefs.

But, I must have time to do that. And, fast paced environments seldom lend themselves to the time to simply sit and think. I do my best work when I can think. That’s why it’s so important for me to write every day (yes, I know, I haven’t been).

A friend asked me how I keep my vision in tandem with the chaos that presents itself daily. This was in reference to a group we are working with, together. I told her, frankly, it’s because I don’t have to work with everyone, every day, 8 hours a day. I get that much-needed, introvert needed, break. I refresh, sometimes monthly from the chaos. I refresh, I think, I ponder. I pause. I reflect. I deliberate.

So, what am I doing then if a fast paced environment with frequent interruptions is not for me? Because, clearly, in some avenues in my life — I am in the wrong space.

When I think of these things together, I see that I should be doing project based contract work. Yet, my skills in a desired contract environment aren’t up to snuff where I’d feel comfortable charging for their use. A friend suggested building a client list and offer my services pro bono with the caveat that these clients should write a letter of recommendation. But, this takes time, and I’m also impatient.

I know. I need to summon my patience. Isn’t that what my major lesson was from the housing crash of 2008? Be patient, I hear Mister Miyagi intone to Daniel. Be patient, I hear him croon while other endeavors create, slowly, as they should.

Oh right. I should be patient, while I deliberate. Because as I patiently think about this, the answers will come.

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Saturday Night

I realized something the other day. I don’t like writing when I’m sick.

I’ve had a cold for a few days. The timing is ironic as I’m scheduled to read at church and we just had a steering committee meeting. Although, last time, early December, my sinus-infection-thing was much more debilitating than this cold. (Wine)

So, I’ve missed writing. I like picking a part my day, no matter if it’s mundane to you (my dear reader). It’s a great way for this introvert to process. Which is a great segue to something I’ve been thinking over.

People are surprised that I am an introvert. First, I didn’t really know the difference between introverts and extroverts until I was first introduced to an informal Meyers-Briggs test around 2003 or 2004. I always test as an Introvert, but where along the spectrum varies. I’ve never tested as an “extreme” introvert like my husband. Over the years, I have learned to not be afraid in crowds, like I was when I was a kid. I have learned that “no” isnt’ that scary, and it’s okay to approach people. As such, I’ve been known to start conversations, approach strangers with a smile, and even engage in “small talk.” I think these are things people witness that make them respond with shock and awe when I say, “I am an introvert.”

But, I am an introvert. Introvert, defined as needing refresh time alone. A co-worker said she gets her energy from her alone time, in the woods. I don’t need to be in the woods, but alone in a cafe, observing and not talking will sometimes suffice. Reading in bed, without talking, works too. Writing, though, that’s where I really process. The space where I can digest all my thoughts. The space where I can make sense of some of the nonsense in my head. The space where I can take my own rampant speculation and clarify it.

The Introvert Advantage claims that the world is only 25% full of introverts. I thought I recall a description of Meyers-Briggs that explained the world in halves. More or less, half of the world was introverted (extroverted), intuitive (sensing), feeling (thinking), judging (perceiving). So, I’ve been taking an informal poll at work. I’ve asked at least half those I work with, and only two are extroverts. Either my place of employment is rare (likely) or the world is full of more introverts than we realize (also likely in my opinion).

So, I’ve been grouchy lately. I told my mother once that I need 6 hours of alone time a day. She said figure out how to work around it because it’s likely not going to happen. The point is, I need a lot. And, I haven’t been getting it. As a worker bee, a mother, a wife, knowledge bearer in a club, friend, sister — there are demands of my time. I don’t always recognzie that when I say yes to something I am often saying “no” to my refresh time. So, I haven’t been getting my refresh time, and it’s been showing. And being sick, sure things have been quiet, but I haven’t been processing.

Here’s to writing and processing. May the tradition continue.

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Never Enough

Pool time.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Quiet time. I am absolutely amazed at how much reading, writing, quiet, thinking, pondering time I need. No matter how much I get, it never seems to be enough. I don’t know what the perfect equilibrium would look like. A perfect balance of flitting between thinking, doing, and acting on ideas, fantasies, and time with those I care about.

Identity. I identify myself as an Introverted-intuitive-feeling-judging person on the Meyers Briggs scale. I recently tested at having these top five strengths: input, intellection, belief, learner, deliberative. Both scales – both themes – remind me I need refresh time to be my best, time to let my ideas stew (or simmer and perk), time to create ideas, time to ponder all that goes around. Remembering, knowing these things validates what I feel are needs, daily.

Self awareness. We continually grow up. We continually evolve. We learn more about ourselves – what we like, what we don’t like, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at – we become aware. Part of the “input” and “deliberative” identities are these thirsts, these cravings for knowledge. The need, the drive, to ask questions, take it all in, process it, and come up with a grand idea (intellection) or understanding. Sometimes it feels throughout my 20s, I spent a lot of time taking in these inputs, slowly figuring out what they meant to me. Should I get a tattoo? What would socialism really look like? Do I care about playing the guitar? What makes art art? What do they want out of life? Would I want the same things?

Sometimes, throughout those ponderings in my 20s, I felt lonely wishing I had another to share these ponderings. Now, I am married and have a child, and my pendulum has swung the other way. They don’t process in the same way I do. My new challenge is striking that balance. I yearned for so much before, and now, how do I match these things up?

Right now, it feels like there is never enough time. Never enough time to write. Never enough time to read. Never enough time to garden. Never enough time to knit. Never enough time to bake bread. Never enough time to sweep, vacuum, clean the bathroom. Never enough time to meal plan. Never enough time to sort through the day. Never enough time to read 1,000 books to Levi. Never enough time to clean up the paint I want him to play with. Never enough.

Part psychological, yes I know. The question I cannot seem to answer is how to make it enough? What do I let go of in order to have enough? Often, this seems like the biggest challenge in this act I call balance. Self needs. Mother needs. Wife needs. Work needs. How can they be in equilibrium? Or, is it not about equilibrium at all? Is it about giving my all on self one way, my all as mother the next, wife the day after, work the day after that? Withdrawing and participating like ocean waves? I want it all.  You can’t have it all. I want it all.

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