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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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Sunday Night

I woke up this morning recovering from a dream in which I was late, missing my ID, and unable to remember where the after care program was that my son was in. The dream itself didn’t bother me once I was able to talk it out, but it is interesting how we use dreams to process that which goes on around us.

We are trying to find a school for our son. I had high hopes for this Catholic education. A place where Levi could learn more about this religion that I love than I grew up knowing. A place wehre Levi could grow with a small group of the same students in a nurturing, caring environment. That’s not to say he’d get something similar (sans the Catholic upbringing) from a public school — it’s just saying that’s what I wanted.

It’s become clear though, that the “regular” way in which we teach kids isn’t looking to be a good fit for Levi. It likely wasn’t a good fit for my husband either. They need tactile things. They need to touch. They need to explore. Sitting at a desk reading about life doesn’t teach them about life. Me? I can ponder, wax philosophical, and consider ideas until the cows come home. They need to jump into it. Knee deep. So, where can we find a school like that? And, if we do fine one, how much will it cost?

I won’t home-school. I am not that kind of a teacher. I require different stimulations while the day goes on, and if I don’t get it — I won’t be my best for Levi and my husband.

So, I am… I have been… worrying about Levi’s school. I’ve been worrying about our involvement, or lack thereof. I’ve been worrying about what the next school will look like. I’ve been worrying about the next school’s expectations. I’ve been worrying about managing all the things I’m involved in with the future PTA. I’ve been thinking more and more about how unrealistic 40 hour work weeks are when I have a small person and his own obligations. I’ve been fantasizing about ways to simplify my schedule and stay in line with my own goals: educating people on the importance of a sustainable society.

And, I guess all that thinking translates into a dream. A worried dream where I discard some of my personal belongings, including convoluted Keds, tied in strange knots, and putting myself at risk (of identity theft and getting soaked since I also discarded my rain coat).

Thoughts consuming the night time processing = dreams.

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Girls & Alllergies

Allergies, asthma, and immunicology – a fascinating thing, which strikes me more as I deal with my own allergy autoimmune issues. And, now there is are a series of gender studies that suggest girls are more prone to these issues later in life. NPR reported yesterday on our socialization and how it affects sanitization.

Disease prevention increased with the simple introduction of hand washing. But, now, we are faced with considering that our world is too clean. Cities used to be too dirty, and now they might be too clean (save for vehicle and industrial pollution). It’s an interesting conundrum we face, as a society.

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Community

Only Group Shot
Our Sustainable-Tuscan-PSU Community. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It was either 2005 or 2006. I was taking my first Urban Studies & Planning course, Film and the City. It was a sort of introductory course to Urban Planning through the eyes of film. The first movie we viewed was a Chinese film called Shower. This film introduced the concept of community and how design works with community and how community changes as design changes. There were many other levels to the film, but it was first, for our class, an introduction to this concept of community.

Los Tres Imanes
Image via Wikipedia

As a film class, one-page write ups and group discussion were par (for the course, ha ha). I was either 27 or 28 at the time of this discussion. My other classmates, or the ones in the discussion group, were in their early twenties. (It’s amazing to me how the difference of 5 years in your twenties means a lot.) We were asked, after having viewed the movie, how we would define community.

I suddenly found myself in a disagreement with my discussion group on what community is. I feel that we have many different communities. We have communities in which we select: church, certain social groups, classes we take, work place communities, and so on. Then, we have broader groups, our neighborhoods, cities, states, nations. When I was arguing for these micro communities, my classmates disagreed with me. They suggested that this idea of community was too narrow and didn’t allow for diversity. For example, I could have chosen to live in an all-white neighborhood and that would have been too singular in what I heard them arguing to actually be defined as community.

I cannot remember their exact words now, four or five years later. But, if that was truly their argument, I still, to this day have to vehemently disagree with their concept of community.

Garden City diagram
Image via Wikipedia

What is community then? I still believe a community is simply the circle of people with whom we surround ourselves. Whether it be our street, our neighborhood, our work place, our school, or our churches. All these places have different people, offer different things, and they serve as a community for us. A community of living, of economy, of knowledge, of spiritual growth – whatever. It’s still a form of community, and we sometimes turn to those in that community for assistance. We could look for neighborly assistance, as in, “Please, could you watch my house while we’re on vacation?” to study buddies to prayer circles. All forms offer some support if we choose to lean on them for that support. All forms can offer fun, learning moments, teaching moments, conflict and resolution.

Still, what is community? I am busy. I have a lot of interests. I cannot afford to spend my time randomly. While I appreciate random encounters for those teachable, fun moments, I have chosen to spend my time with certain people. Family and close friends. From there, I reach out to my church community, my food community, and a local mom’s group. With this local mom’s group, I subscribe to a daily email list, and have thus far attended one event. Many of the moms overlap with my food community.

What does community do? Community is there for you when you need them. Today, I hope I was there for a fellow mom. I’ve seen her name on this list a million times. I have met her exactly once, to the one event attended and organized by this mom’s group.

Today, 8 days before Christmas, she was in a car accident. No one was injured, but who’s to say how the family mini-van will fair. Although I had a front row seat, I actually didn’t see anything. I still can’t believe this happened. That I didn’t see anything. I had no helpful detail of information to share. It all happened so fast. SUV turning, me dazing, crash, call 911, tow truck pulling through, cop following, hanging up since 911 isn’t needed. Recognition. I know her. Parking the car, hazard lights on. Validation. Rolling window down, stating her name. Yes, I know her. So, I did the only thing I could think of to do. I got out of the car and gave her a hug. I only told her that I was a part of this mom’s group.

I got back in the car, went to a fellow mom’s house, she wasn’t home. She’s usually good at organizing these things, so I called her first. By “these things” I mean care packages. She was a little unsure of what to do, so I later phoned the Queen Bee of the mom’s group. She advised the other mom to call her insurance and began organizing an evening meal, while working.

Community. That’s what community is.

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