Saturday, April 15, 2006

Travelling in Europe when under 25... absolutely excellent. I am going to Paris tomorrow, completely across the country, for half price - 30 euro! If you are ever in France for any extended period of time it is more than worth it to buy the carte 12-25. You get half price off many of your train tickets as well as car rentals, plane tickets, hotels (occassionally) etc. It's only 30 euro so it's definitely worth it.

Two of my friends from highschool are also in France (yay!) one of them is doing the same program I am in a different region. The other is here visting because her posh parents bought an apartment in Paris where I will be staying Monday night! So won't be writing the next few days...visiting with them who I love very much. I then will be staying with my friend who is also doing the program here - she is in the west of France (I am in the South) for maybe a week. So, since internet access is shaky there, may or may not write.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hysterical link - You Are Mighty

Go to: www.(your name here)

for example - I would go to


Structuring My Day - An Unstructured Unfocused Discussion of Myself

I wake up - I know I have nothing I have to do - and often this sense of doom comes over me. I feel like I should be doing things, and yet it is such an effort to do any of them. Technically, there's nothing I HAVE to do right now - but there's always those things you're told to be doing - cleaning, exercising, studying for something. It's paralyzing and I often find myself spending the day trying to distract myself from the feeling of doom.

Today I woke up (about five minutes ago, in fact) and I felt it a little but definitely much less. I'm still feeling a little confused as to how to handle this day ahead of me (which I honestly don't want to share with anyone here) and how to fill up the time.

But amazingly the vitamin b and/or mineral supplements have changed my life to a huge extent, and the doom feeling is much lighter than it has been for the past year or so.

I love to fact, I am probably at my happiest when I'm working. I love to teach, to help others move forward, to learn about them and their experiences. I sometimes dread going to work, but, in the end, it is meaningful, and I am drawn out of myself, time flies. I really do love it. And I get so excited when the kids really get something - it really makes me feel alive!

Yet I always need, desperately need, time to recharge. And honestly, if I do exactly what I want - that means I will often watch movies or read books all day long - and very happily. Of course, now I'm in a foreign country and it's just not as relaxing to read in French, English books are few and far between, and my crap DVD player is very picky about which movies it will condescend to play.

But regardless of whether I have movies or books or not, I always do feel like there needs to be a point to my day which involves other people. (Although lately, I've been over-extroverting so much that that point is now satisfactorily played out when I go to the grocery store and say, "Bonjour, ca va?" and "Merci, bonne journee!" to the check out person.) But anyway, is it okay that I just sit around for full days at a time? Yes, I think I just need to let myself be. Learning that I am an introvert has been extremely helpful for understanding that I need this time to just recharge and reenergize and that that is ok. And, it's helped explain why no one else I know (except my boyfriend who can also be a very social person) is really like this.

And perhaps the domination of life's expectations by extroverts (since they are, after all, the loudest) is what creates the doom feeling in part - I always feel like I should be DOING something - I should go for a walk, or a bike ride, or talk to one of the 'friends' I'm constantly ignoring. But, geez, I just want a rest. I have no desire to see anyone (except those I love - that's different - I can see them whenever). I just want to be let be.

I think the hardest part is that it is Friday night, and tomorrow will be Saturday night, and I have this implanted feeling that I should be out for at least one of them. And I could go - I have friends here that would welcome me. But I am not particularly stimulated by their company - or something - it's just not fun.

If I were with any of my friends from home - one to four of us would go out and get a few drinks, we would dress up a bit but that wouldn't be the point of the night - and we would get some beer or something enjoyable and talk about our lives, our loves, our problems. And I would be happy. I never used to be one to say 'no' to an invitation very often - but that was because I really enjoyed the people. I didn't realize how special they were and how lucky I was to have found them.

I'm really enjoying this blogger thing, though. Really. I like the formatting here. I like that I can have different topics - and that, after I write something, it is not possible to do what my ADD brain normally finds a way to do - and lose it. Each topic has a title, and I can write about all my many interests and passions - and they will be there to look up later if I forget about them, or need a review. And I can go back and add stuff, and have links. It's perfect for me. It's like an organizational system for my mind. I'm typing quickly to get stuff out lately - and each thought is kinda brief (at least for me lol) because I am so anxious to put each thought in its requisite folder so I don't lose it in my mind or on my computer and I will be able to find it again. At least if I get it down, it will be easier to remember to add to it later.

Anyway, I often find myself structuring my day - when I have a big empty one like today - where the sun is shining and people are wearing tanktops outside (I should really go work on my tan at the beach - its a good walk there and back so I get exercise and it's beautiful - but I just want to rest!). Anyway, often I structure around one activity or meal preparations. This is how it looks so far:

1) computer stuff - checking email, writing here, reading stuff about my job placement for next year (just got info about that yesterday!)

2) make an omelet for breakfast/lunch with lots and lots of fresh veggies, some cheese, and brown rice.

3) walk down to the video store which opens at 3 and select two videos. Buy some fresh fruit and green tea on the way - am out of those. Watch one video.

4) do the dishes my roommate so kindly left me before she went on her trip (this is the second time she's done that. grrr. not fair. anyway, i'll do them if I feel like it - I probably will because I like to cook in a clean kitchen).

5) Cook dinner...hmmm....what to eat...probably a hamburger patty with garlic and onion (very healthy to eat lots of garlic and onion) and asparagus sauteed in a little oil and with a squeeze of lemon and maybe some more brown rice.

5) Watch second video.

6) Talk to my boyfriend who's still at home and I miss very much for probably an hour or two (we talk a lot - I love him very much and he is so similar to me that it's scary).

7) Go to sleep.

Wow. I love being able to write here and get stuff off my mind. If anyone relates - as usual - please feel free. But if not, I am happy to know there are lurkers... :). Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tolstoy and Politics

I love Tolstoy - especially Anna Karenina... he is incredibly insightful into the human psyche - describing, with uncanny brilliance, the differences among and between people, and our motivations...

I especially like his view on why his main character, Stephen Arkadyevitch, a popular and charming fellow, came to his political viewpoints - it seems to me very maybe it's kind of universal.

Disclaimer - I don't dislike 'liberals,' as some would call them, or conservatives for that matter. I don't particularly like one or another either. I like PEOPLE, any people, based on their ability to truly think on a matter themselves, their ability to be unruffled by another point of view, their ability to handle and process complexity, their ability to filter out the bullshit and comprehend fine and nuanced distinctions. I dislike people who think they know all the answers especially when there's a huge group of people standing behind them. It's just not that simple. Actually, I don't dislike much anyone - but my sense of that person as a reliable or interesting source of information drops when I find them taking simplistic - and group supported - views on many subjects.

Anyway, hope not to offend - but that's the point of this blog - to say what I think...

"Stephen Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him, living in a certain society - owing to the need, ordinarily developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity - to have views was just as indispensable as to have a hat" (p. 10).

What a fascinating, and completely accurate way of putting it. Having views is indispensible. When you have views you appear strong to people, like you know what you're about (and they're about), like you are together. It is a good way to become popular because people will follow a good image. Moreover, it says, yes, I belong here - it's like a badge of membership. When people aren't looking to connect in a real way with each other but merely to create an ingroup and an outgroup, similarities (albeit superficial ones) like these are essential to the group's glue. But are we all still just striving to be popular then? Have we not left middle school yet? Isn't there something else in life that we are after?

"If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but from its being in close accordance with his manner of life. The liberal party said that in Russia everything is wrong, and certainly Stepan Arkadyevitch had many debts and was decidedly short of money. The liberal party said that marriage is an institution quite out of date, and that it needs reconstruction; and family life certainly afforded Stepan Arkadyevitch little gratification, and forced him into lying and hypocrisy, which was so repulsive to his nature. The liberal party said, or rather allowed it to be understood, that religion is only a curb to keep in check the barbarous classes of the people; and Stepan Arkadyevitch could not get through even a short service without his legs aching from standing up, and could never make out what was the object of all the terrible and high-flown language about another world when life might be so very amusing in this world . . ." (p. 10).

What a master Tolstoy is! He astounds me.

1) Look at how he uses the repetition of Stepan Arkadyevitch's full name. Why does he do this? It certainly adds to the irony here. It shows Stepan Arkadyevitch's self-blown importance - the first time it is used, Stepan's life is being compared to "everything in Russia." A rather large leap. Moreover, it is highly unnecessary to use the full name again and again and again - three times in this short paragraph. However, one gets the feeling that Stepan Arkadyevitch would do so - that he is a little like a spoiled child. Tolstoy, through the full name repitition shows that Stepan thinks primarily of himself, feeling he and his desires are of the utmost importance - important enough to base serious common good problems on his personal situation. Thus, this repetition of the full name serves to highlight the foolishness and ultimate unimportance of this likeable, but superficial, man. He is the name. He is the image. He is not much more than that. But he does take and awful lot of unwarranted pride in the name.

2) Tolstoy does not just highlight Stepan's overblown sense of his superificial self, but also infantilizes Stepan's thought process by expressing the liberal party's views with the childish formulation, "the liberal party says..." One can just here the little boy running down the street telling the other children gravely, "well, my teacher says...." or "my dad says..." as if that was the end of the question. The liberal party is Stepan's undoubtable authority. And like a child who believes his parents or his teacher fully and without his own thought, Stepan accepts what the liberal party says, without any real research, without any heavy thought, and then feels gratified.

3) Finally, Tolstoy ridicules Stepan's feelings of entitlement and his inability to be accountable for his own situation. As he discusses Stepan's life situation, he chooses wording and verb tenses to show Stepan's detachment from any accountability he might take for the given situation. The first phrase where this occurs is, "and certainly Stepan Arkadyevitch had many debts and was decidedly short of money." Tolstoy mirrors Stepan's thoughts here in not saying that Stepan had incurred many debts or inherited many debts or recently worked his way into debt. Tolstoy completely passes over blame in general and in so doing shows us that Stepan himself does. It's not Stepan's fault he's in debt (or anyone else's since he's an easy-going guy, not one to blame), it just happened. Just a little later in the boook it becomes very clear where the blame does lie - and that is undeniably with Stepan.

The second phrase where this occurs is, "and family life certainly afforded Stepan Arkadyevitch little gratification, and forced him into lying and hypocrisy, which was so repulsive to his nature." Again, we see the detachment from blame. In fact, this pharse is stronger than the first. Things didn't just happen to him. In this case, Stepan was forced. Tolstoy uses the passive form of this verb (was forced) to say that Stepan's actions in no way contributed to his lying and hypocrisy, but that he had no choice. Moreover, Tolstoy underlines Stepan's belief that marriage should "afford him" gratification - that it should give it to him. Tolstoy writes to underline the deficit of thought that occurs in the assumption that he deserves something from a marriage in which he has shown no sign of taking an active part.

Finally, this detachment from blame, occurs again in this third phrase, "and Stepan Arkadyevitch could never get through even a short service without his legs aching from standing up, and could never make out what was the object of all the terrible and high-blown language about another world..." Tolstoy relieves, in the name of irony, Stepan of any accountability by saying that he 'could not' and 'could never' - that attending to these religious duties was actually impossible for Stepan. Tolstoy, in mirroing Stepan's thoughts, shows us that Stepan does not understand that he makes choices - and that they necessarily have consequences. And Tolstoy ridicules him, by exposing Stepan's choice to side-step blame and thus relinquish any personal power. Again, Tolstoy infantilizes him and describes him as he might a child.

Stepan Arkadyevitch was undoubtedly a silly man. But his personality is a universality, I do believe. We take such strong opinions, but do we really know the facts? Can we really know? Or are we just doing another version of "mommy said..." What do we really know? Why is it so hard for us to realize the complexities and difficulties of any given situation.

Further, don't we often step aside and say things are not our fault - that are? But every time we say - it's not my fault - we also give away a little power. We say "I am incapable" meaning that we say "I also do not have the power to change this problem," and we lie to ourselves.

That is the problem with some liberals and some conservatives today (however, I happen to be surrounded by the liberals so they annoy me more). In every group there are people who genuinely want the world to be a better place - no one party or group or religion or lifestyle holds the corner on that. Getting there, truly moving forward though, is so complex. None of us can be sure about what the right decision is - we can only think about it, research on it, talk together, and then make the best of the outcome. Yet, some people seem so sure that we know the magic bullet that will change the world around if people would just get off their self-interested asses and listen...!

And this is where I am a little conservative. I want things to get better - bit by bit. But what we have in America, though flawed, though problematic, though hard, works. It is possible to succeed. We do have our freedom to try (and thus to fail). Our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are protected and fought for every day - just as the founding fathers would have wanted. I think people who want a complete overhaul are missing a few things.

1) The truth of this world is - no one owes us anything. We don't deserve anything. We live in a country where we work together for the common good so we can be afforded some basic rights. But, just like Stepan Arkedyevitch thinks coming together with another person should result in his own gratification without putting in the necessary work, so do we think that living in a country should result in our own gratification without putting in similar work. We can make it here. We just need to realize that it is up to us. There's nothing wrong with that.

2) We are safe. Unbelievably safe. In a domestic and international sense. Domestically, why do we have more supposed crime than European countries then? (My opinion is...) Because we expect safety - thus, when there is a problem - we report it. I'm not sure the Europeans expect safety. You can't assume the water quality is decent here, or that the car emissions standards are up to par. Moreover, I went to a university in the states that was in a very poor area - and so I lived in a very poor area. (Not the worst - there are some very bad places of course.) But anyway, where I lived I wouldn't think twice about leaving, for example, my backpack in my car when I went to class or while I ran into a food place to get something to eat. Here, in the south of France, even in affluent areas - no one would leave a bag in the car because it WILL get stolen - right from your own driveway. I've had a bag snatched out of the back seat of my car through an open window while I was IN the car - and I was not in a bad area. They all have locked, gated, fences around their houses because otherwise people just take up residence and they can't get them out. And these are in affluent as well as middle-class areas. You can report these things there but - why bother?

Further, on an international level - we have an ocean between us and most real danger. It is amazing what that has done for us, that ocean. It has encapsulated us, keeping us sheltered, and protected for most of the last two hundred years. And I think it has allowed us to take for granted our international safety in this world. September 11th rocked the boat of complacency a bit - and I'm glad it did though it was a terrible thing that happened. But we could all die - something could go terribly wrong - our system could fall - if we let it. (Iran has just figured out the engineering for a step toward creating nuclear weapons - heaven forbid - and people need to realize the danger of that - luckily most countries are taking stands against Iran's latest actions but...). We KNOW that this system works enough that we can all fumble along on our merry way and not expect to be bombed. But if we make dramatic changes to our system (like many activists of various things want) - we may end up weakening it. And if we think it is a good idea to weaken ourselves we are being extremely naive about the true and real dangers of this world which our country protects us from so well that we don't even know we are being protected.

3) So, yes, let's all work for change. (Though I think an important first step would be if we could, especially the ones who want change so much, just all be a little more loving to the people who are actually in our lives. I am very irritated by bitchy activists - do they not see the hypocrisy involved in their self-righteousness?) But let's not take apart what we have - let's move forward with it. Block by block. It has gotten better over the years - it will get better - but until something else is proven to work better - maybe in the form of another country that had nothing to lose by starting anew - lets not tear apart what works from its very foundations. And instead of focusing on the negatives, let's be grateful for what we have in the states. We are an ungrateful nation, many of us, and that saddens me. So many people in this world live such hard lives - never have even a chance.

That's all.

The Truly Creative Mind - Pearl S. Buck

Off another forum...

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.

To him... a touch is a blow,

a sound is a noise,

a misfortune is a tragedy,

a joy is an ecstasy,

a friend is a lover,

a lover is a god,

and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - - - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."

-Pearl S. Buck

The Too Many Aptitudes Problem

WOW! Great article I just got off a's about people who have too many talents and the problems that can cause. It actually really speaks to my last couple posts and the anguish I was feeling at my lack of motivation. If you're interested here it is...

The Too Many Aptitudes Problem

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am an INFP and that's all right. Right???

I always want to be better than I am - a better person, a more accomplished person, a more responsible person, a more social person - to try to acheive a few of my ever-multiplying goals. I have a hard time feeling okay with myself and am constantly searching for ways to grow, improve, and do it better this time round. Perhaps, I just think too much - I can never just distract myself and just move on.

At the same time, I probably love myself and take care of myself (in a healthy way) more than most people I know. I am always such a mass of contradictions...

In other words, I am a classic INFP...

I really like this description of INFPs on the Personality Page. Here are some of the descriptions I really relate to...(actually - I ended up putting the entire description in this post because they just described me that well - the blues are the description).

INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves.

When I was young I was driving in my car with my (very likely INFP - though she thought she was ENFP) mother, I turned to her and asked, "Why are we here mom? What is our purpose?" (I wonder if other 8 year olds ask these questions in all seriousness.) I remember very clearly her response. It has guided most of my behavior the rest of my life, "We are here to help others. And we are here to make the world a better place for others." I truly believed her then and I suppose I still do now. I constantly feel, though, like I'm not doing well enough...the fault of my endless drive for perfection perhaps. I hope that I may one day learn to just let go. Now, oddly enough, read the last sentence of the next paragraph because I typed those words - my mother's words, as I remembered them, in an essay I wrote a while ago before I ever saw this personality page article.

INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same - the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place.

Yes. And especially ... I am highly intuitive about people. It leaves me very alone sometimes. How can you be mad at someone when you know why they hurt you and that it wasn't personal - just them acting out their own insecurities. Anger spurts out of a feeling of being wounded or betrayed or treated unjustly. I feel these ways but I know that the person didn't want to hurt me truly - truly they love me - but that it was their own weaknesses which made them act that way. I also usually understand the ways in which I have contributed to their actions in the first place. Moreover, if I'm upset I use words, not actions or yelling, to explain how I felt when they did whatever they did. So, because I don't push, I don't punish, and I don't manipulate (generally) I'm often the one not taken care of in one way or another. I don't know if anyone out there would understand this, but it is true. And, because I'm so complex, and in conscious charge of my body language, tone of voice, or any other visible reaction, so often people cannot see that I am unhappy, or at least not feel it, and when they finally can, they have no idea what to do about it.

My intuitiveness and my tendency to take care of people, was never a problem, however, as long as my mother was alive. She took care of me. When she died, I was completely lost for two years. Lost and alone. No one seemed to be capable of just standing by with me through it - even though they loved me. Thank goodness, I found my boyfriend, INFP (or J - I get confused) that he is, because he gets it. He gets all of it. Highly, highly intuitive and so genuinely loving and aware of himself.

Generally thoughtful and considerate, INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making the INFP a valued friend and confidante. An INFP can be quite warm with people he or she knows well.

Yes. This has always been true. I am the one to talk to and people say I am very warm. But I know this without anyone telling me.

INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right. They don't want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts, because they intuitively understand people's perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them.

Yes. This is a perfect description. I don't want to feel badly. I am very emotional so when I feel badly, I feel very, very badly - like the air has been knocked from my lungs, and my stomach has lost its capacity to expand for breaths. Also, the world's rules seems almost unreal to me. Truly they are shifting, ambiguous, and uncertain. Because I can always see the other side, the other perspective (or perspectives as the case may be), it is really hard for me to know how to place blame - a little like I was writing up above. People do terrible things sometimes - but it is rarely completely spontaneous - negative emotions, situations, perceptions, insecurities drive them. It's hard for me, who is not that person, to feel that I can account for every factor in a situation enough to judge them. So, in the end, regardless of right or wrong, my point is the negative emotion and the desire to change the emotion to a more positive one and not have it occur again for the same reason - somehow - usually through talking out how it happened and how it made each of us feel.

INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause".When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.

YES. Like I"ve written elsewhere, terrible time doing laundry etc... but great when I really care - I guess when I have a cause...and so forgiving, so bending until you hit a value - and then there is no moving me (even I can't move me when I try).

INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it's not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.

I've become proficient at sorting through the facts that I want to throw at people and at making sure that those facts are accurate before I do so. This is because (honestly) I think I have a decent point - regardless of whether I am right or wrong - and I want to be seen as reasonable, and well-researched, and cool headed so as to not be discredited. Also, I took some vigorous honors seminars in college which really taught me how to research well and argue persuasively. I do enjoy logic.

There was a time, however, when I discriminated between facts and untruths with much less accuracy. At the time, I hardly thought about it. It was natural because to me the meaning is the same regardless of the exact content of the statment. I would not dare get the meaning wrong. I am the type of person who will tell a story about what I did yesterday, as if it happened yesterday - without really noticing that it actually happened four weeks ago - just because it seems inconsequential to me when it happened. If I take a second to think I won't make that mistake, but if I don't take the second to think - I end up fibbing because I don't even register it as an untruth without hard thought - it is merely an unimportant detail.

INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members' of the group. In group situations, they may have a "control" problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.

Refer to my first paragraph. Yes.

INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic.

Talented writer - well, you judge - though I'm really just spitting stuff out uncensored and unedited here. I finally differ from something in this INFP description though - I am different because I am talented at speaking in front of an audience. I have trouble in groups of my peers when I'm on a level with them - I stumble over words, become very quiet, or am incredibly self-conscious. But when I'm leading or on stage - I perform very well, completely naturally. I've learned to overcome the peer level trouble to some extent - however, it will never be easy. For this reason, I take pride in my hard-won ability to fool people into thinking I'm actually a very extroverted person. Because, I'm really not. Regardless of how it seems, it still takes a LOT of energy for me - I'm not sure the price is always worth it.

INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.

I hope so...the most frustrating thing is that I'm aware, intelligent, capable - but sometimes it's like I just don't have the energy or the drive or something. It's all sitting in there waiting to be used and I DON'T use it. Lately, I've started to think that perhaps I'm using more energy than I was aware in order to 'extrovert' and to keep the 'mundane' details of my life together which so often feel they are slipping out of my control. I feel so held back by myself though. I know what to do - and I want to do it - why don't I just do it?

I also really like this link a lot - there's nothing on it I don't really agree with about who I am: INFP page.

I like finding this stuff because it is so validating. Keirsey, who wrote a very popular book on the personality types Please Understand Me also has a good page to explain a lot of this stuff. For that link click here.

To take the test yourself - well, a short but decent internet version - click here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bipolar Disorder, Creativity, and Vitamin B

Bipolar 2

I am often quite depressed and I do believe I have a very mild case of bipolar 2 - which means I do not get manic, merely hypomanic, and spend a good deal of my time depressed. I know several people very well who are bipolar 2 (that in itself is a symptom - bipolar people tend to find each other). And have had some very painful experiences as of late. And please do believe I am not saying this lightly.

Bipolar and Creativity

As a sidenote, many of our world's greatest poets were bipolar - as it turns out - as are many other creative people - often resulting in their eventual suicide. As a result of that and studies of many other enormously creative people who often turn out to be bipolar - the possible link between creativity and bipolar has become very controversial. Kay Redfield Jamison writes a book on this very thing called, Touched By Fire. She has bipolar herself - a rather severe form - and seems to think the link is quite conclusive. Nevertheless, she leaves us with the idea that though bipolar may not cause creativity, nor creativity cause bipolar, when the two collide in one person, the bipolar may aid the creativity tremendously. Hard to know. In my experience the great pain I've felt and the great passion I've felt (both partly due to being somewhat bipolar) are necessary in driving me forward to write, to sing, to create - and to do those things well because of the genuine emotion I've lived through.

Bipolar Disorder and Vitamin B

But anyway, I've started taking vitamin B supplements and making sure to eat my fruits and green veggies again (like I used to several years ago) and oh my goodness!!! Life is better...the power of nutrition is incredible. My mother always told me that we (in my family) were constitutionally different (maybe because we had an unlabelled predisposition to bipolar disorder - not surprising if one looks back at the eccentric behavior of my family) and cannot eat sugar the way other people can and must eat very nutritionally. My grandmother used to say we were constitutionally deficient. My mother always took a vitamin B supplement. Anyway, having done this for two weeks I find: I am not hypomanic and not depressed. Rather, I am okay. And that is more than fine!!!

If you are interested the vitamin B supplement you would want is a B-complex which supplies 50 mg at least of each type of vitamin B (there are five I think or six), make sure it has B9, folic acid. A multi-vitamin once a day is almost definitely not supplying enough - although if you feel better then that's what you're going for. You should be able to feel the difference.

I would be really interested to hear any of your personal experiences with any of this stuff and your opinions. I am aware that yours might be very different from mine - and that's okay! I'd love to know why! Always looking for more information....leave a comment....


The Magic of Learning Language

I teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade French students English twice a week. I am astounded by the way they learn, how quickly they pick things up, and the magic that is learning language.

Children do not need the definitions, the sentence structure formulations, the conjugation charts (like adults do) to learn. Instead, they just start to understand. After having been teaching mostly in English since fall (usually I only used French to discipline) now I have switched entirely to English. The most used classroom phrase has now become, "No French!!" with huge grins and pointing fingers (occassionally at me when I goof :) ). And I am absolutely amazed by how much this change in classroom policy has effected their ability to understand. I can use words they've never heard of, in a normal tone of voice, with only the normal gesturing I might use to anyone, and they all understand! What? Children have magic to them.

I am very proud of all of them this year - they have done fantastically - and, with no training in teaching, this has been a great year for me to uncover one of my gifts and learn how it works.

I must add, however, that I've also done four years of summer camp, two years after school day camp, a semester as an assistant teacher at a Montessouri school, an intensive ABA therapy summer school program for special needs children, and was a respite counselor for an autistic child for a year. So, I was not completely unprepared.

Anyway, some things I've learned about teaching in the past few years:

1) I've learned (partly from observing the way I learn) the most powerful tool is the child's own intrinsic interest. Let's use teaching language for example. We all, as people, have more or less of a desire to belong, be accepted, communicate and bond with other people (essentially these all combine to make up one of Maslow's needs in his hierarchy of needs). So, what better motivational tool could there be than the child's own genuine interest in communicating and bonding with others? Children like to talk to their teachers (if their teachers like to talk to them), children like to be liked, children like to feel secure, children like to know their boundaries. So, in my language classes, for example, saying 'no french' forces them to do what they're motivated to do anyway in a new, productive, challenging way. And they do!!! They come up with new sentences (that I never taught them) and questions all the time. It's fantastic! I love teaching.

2) I read in one of the articles which I posted elsewhere that introverted children often feel left out in school (though often they are very intelligent) because they have a hard time working past the outbursts of more extroverted others. Not just for them, but for all children who just can't handle the chaos (many ADD children, learning disabled children, children with auditory processing difficultly, and children who are just having a hard time understanding), it is necessary to set up a structured classroom where there is some degree of routine, where people speak one at a time, and where some rowdiness is allowed in the name of learning - but only as the teacher wills it. This is essential for those who are often left behind.

3) It is very important to not forget about the individual while managing the group. To encourage the child's own interest, I have found it enormously helpful to just make sure I make real eye contact with every single person in that class every time I hold a class. People like good grades but they LOVE recognition - and most are craving it. And there's no reason not to give it to them - it's highly motivating. So, when I make eye contact I take an extra second to give that child a special look - a look of approval, a smile of encouragement, a look of conspiracy (if the child always knows the answers and I just can't call on him again), a look of acknowledgement for a job well done, a look of excitement at their discovery - something to say, "We have connected today. I have seen you. You are valuable here. And look at what you've done or are doing!!" However, this must all be done quickly so that one does not lose control of the group.

Now, I have a lot more to learn - and will be learning it next year I'm sure - that will be trial by fire unlike any other experience I have been through. But I have a lot of tricks in my bag and, most importantly, I can figure out what motivates people - once you figure out the function of a behavior (I learned in my ABA behavioral therapy camp) - why they are doing it in other words - you can figure out another way to fill that need. And I'm good at that. I have an empathic mind after all. :)

Any comments? Feel free . . .

As an afterthought - today I made a girl cry. I was a little surprised - she was drawing during class and I went right up to her and said no, looked at her firmly, and took the drawing from her - not in a mean way, just firmly. Most of the children in my classes are excited to participate and spend much of the class with big smiles. She is often unwilling and seems like she thinks its uncool (which it is - honestly - but that's part of my charm - I love doing this stuff anyway and I work hard to make an atmosphere where cool does not matter). Anyway, she is always a little rude, so I was suprised that my just saying no to her hurt her so much. She must want to please me more than I realized. But that just shows that children listen more than we think. It still makes me sad to think about - but now I have learned something about her - she is more sensitive than I realized - as kids often are. And if we don't overuse our nay-saying, it holds quite a bit of power. At least, she was smiling again by the end of the class, and I had her answer a couple questions (giving her a smile look when she was right) so she knew she was forgiven.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

English Assistantship in France

English Assistantship in France

This program, offered through the French National Education Ministry, is really quite a gem. It is somewhat disorganized - so don't expect to figure out where you're going to be placed, or if you have the job, or what it's going to entail, as soon as you would like. Things do work out though, and despite the disorganization, this is one of the only easy ways to get a work visa for a 6,7, or 9 month work contract in France. You get paid (not much but kinda enough) and you get real experience standing in front of a classroom teaching - if that's what you want (9 month contract), or you can just help out (7 month contract), or you can end up doing almost nothing like my roommate (6 month contract). Plus, you can't help but gain some fluency in French.

Anyway, all in all I have had a wonderful experience. Everything went very smoothly. I found a great apartment, good roommate, and some friends. I have a wonderful school with intelligent, interested, hard-working students with whom I've seen great results and had a great time. The teachers have been supportive, the director (principal) helpful, and the 'supervisors' completely negligent (which is just the way I like it).

If you want someone to hold your hand - do not do this program. You come here all alone. You are really not well prepared. The people here, who maybe are or maybe are not supposed to meet you, are as uncertain of what's going on as you are - and you are likely to be left to your own devices to work your way through the bureaucratic jungle which is the French government - a difficult task I assure you.

But, if you want to have a great opportunity and are up for the challenge - this is well worth the pains. I work 12 hours a week in the south of France - and the rest of the time I can do as I want. I live a twenty minute walk from the mediterranean so I sunbathe a lot, go to the markets, go sit in a cafe. It's not exactly luxury living - I get some government aid for my housing (160 a month), since I don't get paid much - 740 euro a month - but actually between those two things, and some tutoring and babysitting, I make enough to live off of with the occassional couple hundred dollars thrown in from my dad every few months.

If you have any questions on it feel free to make a comment - I'll tell you all you need to know.



I have discovered I am introverted...I would never have known (although I might've guessed) until I made my recent voyage into another land (France) for the year long stay which is just about coming to a close. I came here as a part of a program to teach English in public schools (btw. if you want to do it all you need is a bachelor's degree - go to the French National Education Ministry site, and look under the teaching assistants program info section for more information. I'll write another post about it after this one if you interested).

But, so here I am in France, surrounded by, and roommating with, other Americans who are just not at all like me. It has been a unique experience. I am, what some might call, rather serious by nature. I enjoy deep, meaninful conversations, going out with small groups of people I care about, and having time by myself to do my music, or my poetry, or to stare into space or whatever, I'm not athletic but I like nature, I am emotional, I am sensitive, I am thoughtful....

And then there is my roommate - who, actually I am quite fond of - but may, in this way, be my exact opposite. She MUST be with others or she just wilts - and the more the better - she is not particularly discriminatory - she just likes to be with others. I love her to death and she is very likely to supply a good deal of fun wherever she is, but we are just so DIFFERENT.

And that difference drives me crazy! I need to be alone - she does not - and neither do the people we hang out with here. In the beginning I tried hopelessly to keep up with their practically daily outings (on top of my teaching three full days a week - not much, but still) and feigning interest in their clothing, their weight worries, their movie star crushes, but I just couldn't handle it after a while. Where had all the meaning gone?

Plus, I felt overwhelmed - I guess. I got sick. I got the flu for a week. And not from the partying, or the drinking, or the staying out late. I think I got sick because of the stress of being around other people that much - specifically other people with whom I couldn't show most of myself.

Not that I was hiding myself. I wasn't. Everything I could I showed, and I was always honest. But they clearly displayed no interest in my music, or discussing life and why we're here, or even playing a good competitive card game. We're just different.

Finally, I discovered why - I'm an introvert - they are very extroverted. They are genuine, loving, creatures - but to a greater or lesser extent - they do before they think; they are less sensitive; they need much more external stimulation; they love to have FUN (I find, that really, I don't really care if I have fun); they are energized by having other people around; they bond over doing things together - not, like me, over discussing things together. This is what I've found.

And it is exhausting for me. I am also a giving person. So, when I see a need, I have a hard time restraining myself from attending to it. I guess I'm just kinda complex so I think they don't really see my needs - and when they do they don't know what to do about them. I'm rather intense sometimes. But I feel like they're taking my energy and I need to go recharge.

But I'm coming to terms with my need for space - and learning that maybe I shouldn't even have a roommate - or that I should have a slightly introverted one. I need lots of time to be my quirky self - it is the time in which I'm my most creative, my most thoughtful, my most productive. I would not be me without it. And I love to read - can't really do that with a group of people - or not the same anyway.

The book The Introvert Advantage was very helpful for me in identifying myself as an introvert and then also helpful in realizing the benefits of this type of person - the site has some basic information on the topic.

To read/learn more about introversion, here are some links available on the net that I really like:

This article
Introversion: The Often Forgotten Factor Impacting the Gifted I found very interesting.

For something more humorous and basic I absolutely love, as I stated above, How to Care for your Introvert.

Anyway, that's it for this for now...but will be more later - basic points on introversion.

And it doesn't mean you aren't very social - my social skills are quite good - thank you - but they are that - social skills - they are not completely natural - although they come naturally after all these years of practice. :)

Poetry - A Gentler Place

a poem for commentary - does this mean someone could steal it if I don't get it copyrighted??? or is it safe here? please write if you know the answers! or if you have anything to say about the poem... hmmm.... okay, well I would love some comments. Please don't be mean - but definitely be straightforward - good comments first so I know goodwill is intended. I am a sensitive INFP afterall. :P not that I wouldn't continue to write anyway - can't seem to help it...

A gentler place

I was...

Heavily shrouded dull with grey,
til softly colored by your voice,
til artistic fingers felt for always,
deftly molded ‘spired choice.


Pale, dark blue, from the faith of you,
I'm shielded too from a searing sun.
Of brightness freed, I've retried, revived,
And secure at last, I've come undone.


You've dimmed down the painful glare,
Tenderly stroking you glazed my world.
Repainting harshness with intricate care,
rich landscapes from your brush unfurled.


Loving you has grabbed me,
Into a gentler place,
Where quiet reigns intensely,
In a vibrant world's embrace.

For my poors thoughts which I have oft forced quiet :)

I am starting this blog because I think a lot. I'm very interested by personality, or soul, or mind, or thought, or spirit - whatever one would like to call them - and I am constantly driven to make connections and pull things together - look at how they work together. In this blog, I intend to write on the new ideas I pull into my understanding of myself which I often then generalize to others.

Now, several things will impede my progress as I begin this blog:

Number 1 is my constant self-criticism. I cannot write without critiquing what I write, rewriting it in my head, wanting desperately to make it better - more witty, more caring, more understandable, more complex. But, alas, in this blog - it is only a blog after all - I will refrain as best I can and hope my meaning comes through.

Number 2 is my ADD - one of the things I will be writing about (with luck) in the blog. I am passionate, creative, intelligent, very understanding, driven, and accomplished. On the other hand, I tend to start things I don't finish, procrastinate, become disorganized, and think associatively instead of linearly (meaning I have a hard time writing in a line, my thoughts always take me off on little tangents - sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes just irritating). For example, right now I desperately want to talk about ADD but I'm trying to maintain my linearity. Yet, perhaps that is a fight I'd be best surrendering to - perhaps a little subject wandering would actually be charming.

Number 3 is my extreme desire to connect to other people. I suppose, in my associational thinking sort of way, I thought of this now when it really belongs up top under why I'm writing this blog in the first place - shall I move it - or shall I continue? This is not a school essay after all. Well, anyway, that desire to please, if I offend or make people angry on this blog, might stop me from continuing it. However, it also might help if people understand what I'm saying.

Number 4 is that I've never written a blog before - never read too many and don't really understand them...not sure how the mechanics work and mechanics are not my strongsuit (because of my ADD explained above).

Now, about me -

I am an INFP though everyone (except my roommate who watches with amazement as I stay reading a book in bed all day for several days in a row) would think I was a normal, social, cheerful extrovert - but more on that later. I am very intuitive and understanding, though, sad to say (or is it - perhaps it's for the best), I am not psychic. I do, however, find that a deep conversation - or a not so deep one depending on the other person - gives me a pretty clear view into why another person does what they do - their motivation - and what their insecurities and hopes are.

I am creative, thoughtful, and considerate. I would love to find someone else who is these things to talk to - who REALLY understands themselves (self-awareness is the first step I do believe as does Krishnamurti - perhaps more on him later - very good but it seems to me he's missing something) and cares about this world, about other people, who wants to find meaning in their life.

Anyway, I am also ADD. Many books, such as Lynn Weiss's books on ADD and creativity, I think are on the right track - in that perhaps ADD is not merely a deficit, but in some ways an advantage...associational thinking is tricky, but if you can harness it's wild untamed ways - sometimes it can take you a long way. However, I struggle, STRUGGLE, with minimal tasks like getting my laundry done, paying a bill (I have the money - it's sending the check that's hard - where are those damn stamps and envelopes when you need them????), telling my phone company I will be cancelling their services as I am moving, etc. Daily life is very difficult for me.

(NOTE TO SELF - things in bold are ideas for later discussion)

But as an intelligent (ok, this is a blog, no one knows me, I will be arrogant - or as the love of my life says, "not conceited, convinced"), - as a gifted introverted empathic person, I have the ability to focus my concentration on things I'm passionate about (and we'll have to see, for example, if the passion for this blog lasts or this will be the only post I ever make) for huge amounts of time and really devote myself. So, I do make some headway in acheivements despite the disorganization that the ADD causes and the overwhelm of being an introvert and a HSP (highly sensitive person) (another thing I am that I will be talking about with passion's will.)

Finally, I am young - 22 - and perhaps have not experienced enough yet to know what I'm talking about - but I've probably spent as much time in thought and observation as your average 55 year old - well maybe (I'm an P in the Meyers Briggs so it's hard for me to make certain statements) - but anyway, I think so. And I use 'anyway' a lot to bring myself away from the subject back to the point at hand. I graduated college last year with highest honors and a double major in English and Psychology, am living in France teaching English for the year, and next year will, if all goes well (though I've been accepted so it should) will be working as a Fellow teaching highschool English in disadvantaged areas of NYC. I lost my mother to breast cancer two and a half years ago when I was 19. She was a very strong, very intelligent, very loving woman, and that changed my world forever - but has resulted in a huge amount of growth for which I'm thankful in the end.

My interests: music (voice, guitar (very basic), writing music, some comp synth stuff), poetry, PEOPLE, life/death, religion (as a philosophical question - I am not 'religious' persay but am in some ways), empathy, intuition, ADD, bipolar, French, life's meaning, creativity, writing, meyers-briggs, introversion/extroversion, giftedness, genius, love (mature, romantic, ideal), reading, philosophy, education (specifically the best way to teach/learn - policy - local/domestic/international), nutrition (slightly against medicine) and politics (not really liberal - I know, I went to a liberal school and had liberal parents and have liberal friends - go ahead, tear me up - but at least wait til I blog on it). Whew. I even tire myself out. And there are more things - but I've been trying to narrow down - although I seem not to have done as well as I thought now that I look at this list. But anyway, I like to bring everything and anything in together. Because I don't believe you can look at life, humanity, a soul as anything but a part of something very large.

Please, if you are interested in ANY of this stuff - and I don't know how this works - how anyone will even view this post - but If you are interested by any of it - or something in what I've written connects to you - or if you have any opinions and would like a debate - I am up for it!!!!
I would love to hear from you....

I am understanding so say whatever you want - but try not to be mean - that just makes me sad...

And if the passion strikes I will be posting a lot more, probably highly controversial posts, on many I hope to hear from some of you!