I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, or how I keep myself accountable

The title of this post might suggest that I am about to divulge to you a few naughty secrets. In part, that’s true, but it’s likely not what you would expect. Instead, I will share with you how I meet outer expectations, resist inner expectations, and the tactics I use to trick myself into following through on a self-imposed task.

When I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, I became fascinated with her concept of the four tendencies. I rushed to pick up a copy of her latest book, The Four Tendencies, on its release date in Canada. As the title suggests, this book focuses specifically on the four tendencies — Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner — and examines how each of the tendencies meets or resists inner and outer expectations. I had taken the quiz previously to learn about the category into which I fit. However, I must have done what many Obligers do, according to Rubin, by running off with the idea that I was not an Obliger at all. This was followed shortly by a dismissal of the entire four tendencies framework because I rebel at the mere thought of categorising myself or other people. Still, I kept coming back to the framework, just as I continue to study the Myers-Briggs framework. I’m actually a sucker for personality psychology; it helps me to understand myself and those around me. Yet, I also remind myself to refrain from making generalisations and fitting myself and others into prescribed boxes.

This time, while reading the book, it was time to be honest with myself and delve deeper. Mr. Wanderlust, after taking the quiz, immediately declared that I am an Obliger, and somewhere at the back of my mind I wanted to protest. Then, I sighed and continued reading, only to discover that although I am most certainly an Obliger, I also veer toward the Rebel tendency, a common scenario which Rubin explains as a variation within a tendency. This variation makes sense to me and helps to explain why I also am inclined to agree with a few attributes assigned to a Rebel. As an OBLIGER/Rebel, I do meet outer expectations more readily than I do my inner expectations, but I often resent being told what to do. I have always resisted the idea of someone else keeping tabs on me. Although it might be easier for me to meet external expectations, I do not enjoy working out with friend who helps to keep me on track. At the end of the day, I prefer to do things alone and to set my own goals. So, what is an OBLIGER/Rebel to do to keep herself accountable?

Here is my dirty little secret. Although slightly embarrassing, it works for me. I keep myself accountable by pretending that I am on camera, whether the camera is hidden or one that overtly follows me around, filming my every move. To some, it might sound creepy or downright ridiculous. For me, it is a way to ensure that I can hold my actions to the highest standard. When I pretend that someone else is watching me, I am not as likely to reach for a second square of dark chocolate. I am more likely to go to sleep and get out of bed early in order to exercise. Some might choose to use social media to keep themselves accountable, posting status updates from the gym and taking photos of their daily meals. I like to play pretend. Interestingly, in the book, Rubin quotes a Rebel doing something similar to keep her/himself on track. And here I thought I was doing something unusual.

Another method that I often use, and one which Rubin attributes to Rebels, is to set intentions for my day and make resolutions based on how I want to feel, rather than what I think I should do. This allows me to connect with my identity, making choices that are aligned with my perception of my present and future self.

All this self-exploration leads me to wonder about how others keep themselves accountable. It also makes me wonder how others feel about personality psychology. Please leave a comment below to join the conversation.

Thanksgiving, and keeping traditions alive

Mr. Wanderlust and I are wishing all our Canadian family members and friends a very happy Thanksgiving! We hope that you are enjoying a wonderful celebration in the company of your dearest people.

Our own Thanksgiving celebration is belated. For today’s early dinner, prior to my 6:30 p.m. yoga class, on the menu is chicken schnitzel and roasted vegetables. Our little family of four will not have turkey, cranberry sauce, butternut squash, or apple pie, because I realised too late on Saturday morning, after having planned our meals for the coming week and purchased groceries, that this past weekend was, in fact, Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in NZ, and likewise there is no widely acknowledged harvest festival. I can blame my memory lapse on seasonal confusion, which often leaves me thinking that since it’s currently springtime, it must be April or May. Then I remind myself that it’s actually October.

And so, we let the weekend go by without a special celebration, but this did not sit well with me. I want to keep our beloved family traditions alive in any way I can, regardless where in the world we might be. To me, Thanksgiving is a grounding reminder to mindfully acknowledge our loved ones and all else for which we are grateful. And so, although belatedly, I made the decision to have an intentional celebratory Thanksgiving dinner today, in-between teaching classes. We might not have the traditional pumpkins or squash, because  they are not currently in season in NZ, and that’s okay. After all, what make a celebration special are the intention behind it and the people with whom we share it. As for the apple pie, I just might bake one in a few days — you know, to extend the celebration. Here’s a photo of a cranberry-apple pie I baked for Thanksgiving two years ago.

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What special Thanksgiving traditions are in your family? If you are currently living far away from family, do you continue to celebrate Thanksgiving?

If we are making ourselves too busy, what are we trying to escape?

I made a mistake. I made the mistake of making myself too busy. A few weeks later, when I came down with a bad cold due to burnout, I understood that I had filled my schedule to the brim because I was too afraid to face a tumultuous issue that was brewing under the surface.

As always, the irony of the situation dawned on me when I felt I had nothing more to give. There, on the couch, feeling too weak to move, I was forced to pay attention to the signs that were before me all along. Instead of sweeping the proverbial dust under the rug, I held it in the palms of my hands, breathed it in and made myself sneeze a few times, blaming it on the virus, before allowing myself to face the big elephant. By doing too much, by constantly moving forward, we often keep ourselves from thinking about what makes us vulnerable. It’s easy to get up in the morning and get to work, to tackle the grit without asking ourselves why we tackle it and whether it serves an ultimate purpose. In making myself busier than I needed to be, I avoided the big question of how I was actually feeling and what I truly wanted to do.

If we are making ourselves too busy, what are we trying to escape?

We must slow down. We must slow down to allow creativity to flow. We must slow down and give ourselves permission to feel the emotions that will arise, instead of attempting to deny them. We must be honest with ourselves about what we truly want to do, why we resist certain projects, and whether we are actually meant to undertake any of those projects in the first place.

When I’m quiet, I hear an inner voice that asks me to simplify, to allow myself to tune into the creative flow. That voice begs me to pay attention to the signs that are before me. After that, I gently nudge myself to take just one step in the direction that feels right to me at this time.

What signs are before you? Have you been paying close attention to them and heeding them?

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Favourites from around the web:

Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones

“Dr. Davidson’s team showed that as little as two weeks’ training in compassion and kindness meditation generated changes in brain circuitry linked to an increase in positive social behaviors like generosity.”

Three questions to ask yourself before buying something – I follow a similar approach.

How to enjoy exercising without making it feel like a chore – For me, it’s all about moving my body in a way that allows me to feel healthy, strong, and energised but grounded.

Community, and the importance of getting to know our neighbours, is a subject that has been on my mind often as of late.

Life through a phone screen

Today’s installment of the blog is a result of a technical issue. Two weeks ago, I recorded a live talk on Facebook, only to discover later that the audio of the recording was less than ideal. I had initially planned to re-record the video but decided, typically, to write about the subject instead. It’s my medium of choice. Without further ado, allow me to delve straight into it.

I enjoy watching people. I am fascinated by how different people walk, stand, eat, and interact. I have always been a people-watcher. On that particular Sunday when this story takes place, I was paying close attention to Mr. Wanderlust and the Wanderlust Juniors, seated with me at a small squared bistro table at a restaurant where we were eating brunch prior to a Cirque du Soleil show. I had shown the Wanderlust Juniors a video that their aunt had posted on social media, then put my phone into my purse to enjoy our lunch free of distractions. We were chatting about something when a man seated at a nearby table stood up to leave the restaurant. He approached and said to us, “It’s nice to see a family that talks to one another instead of staring at phones.”

After he left, I looked around us to see that at many tables surrounding us, families similar to ours were slumped over their telephones, barely looking up at the cutlery and food placed before them.

Later, at the show, I was somewhat surprised to learn that an app had been created for use during the show with the promise to enhance the experience for the audience. My initial reaction was to ask, Whatever happened to asking the audience members to turn off their phones? From the screens of those seated near us, I did not spot anything impressive about the app they had downloaded. I suppose that the app could not be made to be all that amazing, so as to prevent distracting the audience.

The reason I did not download the app is twofold:

  1. I am discerning about what I download onto my phone.
  2. I believe in, first and foremost, enjoying live events with the naked eye, instead of through a screen.

Lest you might think that I am writing this post to sound holier-than-thou, rest assured that I often share content on social media. Those who follow me on Instagram or Facebook hopefully enjoy the photographs I share on an almost daily basis. I enjoy the interaction that is facilitated by the advances of technology. However, I don’t believe that social media can or should attempt to replace real good old-fashioned human interaction and likewise, I believe that, save for a quick snap or video, phones should be put away during live concerts.

If you were born in the early 1980s or earlier, you might remember a time when people used to go to concerts and tell their friends about it later. Perhaps, like me, you remember how excited you felt about returning home after the event and picking up the phone to tell your best friend about how fabulous the show was. During your lunch hour on Monday at school or at work, you enjoyed catching up with your classmates or colleagues to share your story and learn about their weekend outings. Those opportunities are lost amid the ubiquitous content thrown our way via social media.

We no longer need to wait for Monday to learn about what our friends did during the weekend. It’s on social media. But it doesn’t have to be.

Lately, I have been relishing the almost-naughty idea of going on an adventure without telling anyone about it — okay, maybe I tell only my mum about it during our Skype chats. It feels good to create secret memories in an age when so much — arguably too much — is shared for the world to see.

During the second act of the show, from the corner of my eye I noticed that an audience member seated near us was checking his phone, scrolling through comments left below his photos and browsing the updates of his friends. All the while, my family and I were riveted by the show and refused to look away.

I like technology. I expect technology to continue to evolve fast. However, I believe that we should continue to discern, to make healthy choices about how we use technology for our benefit, rather than giving it permission to control us. For that reason I put away my phone at mealtimes and usually leave it in a different room two hours before bedtime. When I attend a live entertainment event, I might take a photo or video and share it later, or not at all. Usually, my phone stays in my purse, giving me the freedom to fully immerse myself in the special — and privileged — experience of watching and listening to something beautiful taking place on the stage before me. I don’t want to let life pass me by while I attempt to capture it through the screen of my phone.

How do you feel about the use of phones during live concerts? Do you share my thoughts or do you disagree? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below. 

Let me tell you something about courage

When Mr. Wanderlust and I officially announced to a small number of close friends our intention to relocate from Canada to New Zealand, many expressed admiration at our courage.

“I must say,” one friend told us over brunch last December in Toronto, “many people dream and speak of someday moving to and starting a new life in a different country. You guys are actually going through with it. That takes guts.”

Others told us how nervous they would be about the mere thought of making such a move.

Here is something that I don’t often share when talking about our Big Move. It was relatively smooth from conception. We say our thanks every night for how fortunate we feel to have had everything go as well as it has thus far. However, that does not mean that we did not sometimes have second thoughts related to career changes and the change to a different educational system for our children. Similarly, we considered carefully the implications of leaving behind our family and friends and having to start building a new social circle in a new home. The question of social interactions, in particular, sometimes brings on a fair amount of anxiety.

There are days when I feel vulnerable and homesick. On those days, one obscure harsh word from a stranger — in yesterday’s case a woman at the supermarket who yelled at me for blocking her way — is enough to make me want to lock myself in the walk-in closet with a whole bar of dark chocolate and a giant pot of tea. As a HSP and INFP, I work hard to read others, especially if they are not open with me. I replay conversations in my mind that I had the day before with other school mums, wondering whether I might have said something that was misunderstood or committed another faux pas. The cultures in NZ and Canada don’t clash in a blatant way, but sometimes the differences are apparent.

And then, on other days, I enjoy a pleasant chat with another mum over peppermint tea while our children play in her backyard, leaving me feeling lighthearted and at peace.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the choice to pick ourselves up and move forward, regardless of those pangs of fear. We all feel nervous about certain changes. Some of us have also had to learn to be good at hiding that nervousness. However, there are three other lessons that have always kept me moving forward through various challenges that I have faced: Curiosity, Equanimity, and Faith. I give myself permission to sit with the experience, to feel the myriad emotions. I allow the thoughts to swirl. Then, I work to detach myself from them. I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions. They do not define me. I remind myself that all those experiences and challenges are fleeting and every day brings new surprises. I remind myself of the challenges I have faced in the past and how they have made me stronger. I have been reminding myself, as of late, of the time when, as a teenager, I worked to make friends at a new school, in a new country, while learning a new language. Everything worked out for the best. It always does, especially when we remember to let go of concerns about the outcome.

Yesterday, I spent some time on the floor of the closet, eating 70% chocolate, drinking rooibos tea, and journaling to sort through my jumbled thoughts. This morning, I am ready to be the best version of myself and that, my friends, takes courage. As for change? It takes time, patience, and a fair amount of guts. One day at a time.

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If you are enjoying this blog, please take a moment to share it with a friend who might find its content interesting. 

Favourites from around the web:

An interesting study hack

10 Lessons Every 21st-Century Woman Can Learn from Jane Austen

A brilliant interview with Judith Hanson Lasater

A year ago on the blog:

I learned something about stress

Two years ago on the blog:

Health lessons from my grandmother

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Spotted at a Starbucks in Dundas, Ontario two weeks ago, which means there are now fewer than 15 Fridays left to shop before Christmas. That’s great, but let’s focus on the here and now, folks. Wishing you a Mindful Monday.

A different narrative

Do you ever talk to yourself? In case you are worried about feeling snubbed by people who might claim to never have so much as thought about talking to themselves, don’t. A few days ago, I listened to this podcast about the merits of talking to oneself in the third person, with reference to research that has shown that doing so can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety through compassionate awareness.

I remember a time in my teenage years when I sat on the bathroom counter in my parents’ home, gazing curiously at the tears that rolled down my cheeks. I believe I might have shed those tears over some boy, but that’s an insignificant detail. As I sat and stared at my reflection, the writer in my head started to draw a narrative to describe the situation, complete with an illustration of the warm droplets on my face and how delicate my wet eyelashes appeared at that moment. The narrator’s descriptions made my inner turmoil seem commonplace, banal, and I soon turned my attention to something more interesting, allowing time to heal the pain.

The writer / narrator in my head has saved me many times by plucking me out of perpetually swirling anxiety-ridden thoughts and casting me in the role of an observer looking in from the outside. Gosh, I realise how strange all this might sound to some. Yet, it works for me, and it appears that others also have had similar experiences.

The premise of the research to which Jonathan Fields refers in the podcast is that when a situation goes sour and we are tempted to turn to self-deprecating talk of ‘not good enough,’ we can instead describe the scenario from the point of view of an observer. It’s the difference between, “I’m an awful mother. I failed today as a mother when my child threw a tantrum at the shopping centre and I ended up yelling at her in front of crowds of people” and, “(Insert name here) is a mother who had a challenging day today. After a restless night of taking care of her toddler, who keeps waking several times throughout the night, and having not had enough coffee, she lost her patience while shopping with her daughter. It was not a pleasant situation, but it’s over. The mother and toddler both need an afternoon nap to recharge and reconnect.”

The latter approach of talking about ourselves as an observer allows us an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate a situation from a more compassionate place. I will continue to refer to this approach as listening to the voice of the mindful writer or narrator within. Care to try it? Have you tried it?

I’m curious to read about your experience with talking about yourself in the third person. Won’t you please leave a comment below to contribute to the conversation?

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Photo by Christichka Photography.

Minimalism is a lifelong practice

We started to downsize our possessions well over two years ago, evaluating the items that we use on a frequent basis and discarding the ones that rested on an out-of-reach shelf at the back of the linen closet. We have been working to simplify our lifestyle while continuing to enjoy our adventure. One might assume that after two years, having sold a house and moved overseas, we would have pared down our possessions to our maximum benefit. At least, that’s what we thought. Three months in a small house allow plenty of opportunity for reflection on what one needs to live comfortably.

During those months, we rented a small two-bedroom beach bach (kiwi-speak for ‘cottage’) while waiting for our shipment container to arrive. Last week, upon moving into our house, we were reunited with some 90 boxes of various sizes, containing the items we had packed four and a half months ago to be shipped from Canada to NZ.

While staying in the beach house, we had not missed much of what we had shipped. We had everything we needed, and we were reminded of just how little one truly needs to live comfortably. Our clothes were stored inside individual suitcases, and for the first few days after moving into our house, I worked to become accustomed to walking into my closet to get dressed in the morning, instead of reaching for a suitcase. Shortly after we landed in NZ, I purchased an immersion blender in lieu of a larger standing blender. This small blender works perfectly for smoothies and soups, yet does not take up much room inside the kitchen cupboard. Several weeks ago, while baking a cake for the eldest Wanderlust Junior’s birthday, it occurred to me that I did not have a mixer to make frosting. I used the said immersion blender and the result was better than expected. These days, I choose multi-purpose tools and only spend money on what I know I will use frequently.

Although we were happy to be reunited with a few favourite items, we also understood that we had shipped certain items that we had outgrown within the past few months. Mr. Wanderlust and I understood, after looking at the too-many travel souvenirs that we had kept, that we no longer enjoy many of those items. They are sitting in a box that is to be donated to an op shop (thrift shop, for the non-kiwis). After drowning in the numerous photo albums we had brought with us, I made a decision to stop printing photos on a regular basis. This also applies to our wardrobe. I learned recently that I prefer to wear well-made black, grey, or dark blue tights for yoga, leading me to donate the colourful tights that had been sitting sadly in my closet, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Uncomfortable yoga tops accompanied them in the donations bin.

Some might think that simplifying one’s wardrobe means living with 10-30 items of clothing, and while I do have a seasonal capsule wardrobe, I admit to still having too many items in my closet and will continue to pare down. Some might think that minimalism means living in a tiny home. Others might expect a minimalist to have one nine-to-five job in the interest of simplifying the routine. I work multiple jobs with non-standard hours, and I enjoy this rhythm. Minimalism might be the latest fad word, but for me, it is a lifestyle practice that I am pursuing at my own pace as I continue to re-evaluate what works best for me and my family today.

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below. I’d like to know whether you have a bin into which you add items to donate to an op / thrift shop.

Self-care and intentional usage of social media

I have always had a conflicted relationship with social media. I opened a Facebook account in 2007, when the platform was in its early stages and the question at every social gathering was, “Are you on Facebook?” I was newly married at the time and spent my days in the corporate world while working toward a Master degree in the evenings. Facebook became a fun way to connect with current and past classmates. A year later, the initial excitement wore off and after an episode of social drama, I deleted my account.

Two years later, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I joined an online forum on which I made friends with other expecting mothers. Inevitably, our friendship migrated from the forum to Facebook, and I created a new account for myself to remain in touch with my new friends. Two years later, I completed my initial Yoga Teacher Training, started guiding classes, and used Facebook to maintain contact with the yoga community. I gave birth to my second baby and changed jobs. I’m certain that all this information is imprinted in a remote dusty corner of the platform’s memory bank. In time, like many others, I started to use Facebook as a distraction from the more serious activities that demanded my attention. I found myself scrolling mechanically instead of focusing on my work. The more I scrolled, the worse I felt. Instead of connecting with others, I felt more isolated.

I have deactivated and reactivated my account. Last year, for almost a year, I only used Facebook to update the Mindful Daydreamer page. I enjoyed my long-term social media detox and the freedom that came with the reminder that I could have dinner in a beautiful restaurant without feeling the need to take photos of the intricately presented main course. I baked muffins and didn’t snap a pic to share with my friends. We went on family trips and I didn’t announce it online. I joked about pretending to live in the lull of the early 2000s, before Facebook took over our lives. Several months ago, I created a new personal page in order to remain in touch with my friends and family who are geographically far from us. Yet, we use Skype for real conversations and again, I question the merits of the other ubiquitous platform.

I have accepted that for me, a casual attitude toward social media provokes anxiety and a sense of isolation. Call it FOMO or use the latest more popular term, but when I feel low, I find myself wondering about how to increase the number of my followers on Instagram and (almost) consider posting selfies with pseudo-inspirational comments below them. It’s an ugly downward spiral. And so, instead of deactivating my account, I have decided to use social media more responsibly.

With a focus on self-care, I have adopted the following practices to help me use social media more mindfully:

1. Never check email or social media updates first thing in the morning or within at least one hour before going to bed.

2. Check updates once or twice per day, for a limited amount of time, and with a clear purpose. I watch the clock to be sure to only use each platform for the amount of time I have allotted.

3. Refrain from posting live updates, unless with a specific purpose. From time to time, I record live Facebook talks, but I no longer post spontaneous content. I take many photos throughout the day, then share one of them if and when the timing is right. Before sharing anything, I ask myself what purpose it would serve, whether my audience would find the information useful, and whether the update is uplifting.

4. Intentionally choose to follow inspiring people and material on social media.

5. Refrain from paying attention to the numbers of followers.

6. Repeat to myself: Life is what happens when we are not staring at a screen, and most of it need not be shared online.

Do you have additional tips regarding self-care in relation to mindful usage of social media? Please share them in the comments below.

The guilt of unbusyness

When Mr. Wanderlust and I were considering a move to NZ, one of the major deciding factors was our quest toward a quieter life. We had become used to working full-time in the corporate world, rushing every morning to prepare breakfast and pack lunches before taking the Wanderlust Juniors to school, then rush again to the school at 5 p.m. to pick them up from an after-school program, then rush to an evening class. Yes, I did just use the word ‘rush’ and its derivative thrice in one sentence. Our children used to spend more time at their school than we did at our workplaces. Every family must make its own decisions about how to bring up children, based on individual values, and this lifestyle never sat comfortably with me. Although we both enjoyed our work, we sought a schedule that would allow us more leeway to truly enjoy life without needing to race toward the weekend at breakneck speed. That was why we moved to NZ.

Mr. Wanderlust continues to work full-time in our new setting, and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead several yoga classes per week. I am continuing to search for additional opportunities, but I do so at a more relaxed pace. After leading classes for three evenings in a row, I felt tired on Thursday last week and decided to dedicate the day to myself, to read, enjoy a leisurely walk, and do some knitting.

I would love to say that I felt gloriously relaxed while sitting on the cosy couch. Instead, I felt guilt at sitting on the couch on a weekday afternoon when many others, including my partner, were immersed in their work. I felt guilt at dedicating some time to my well-being when I could have invested that time in more lucrative pursuits. I could have spent that time preparing dinner for our family. Have you ever felt that pang of guilt? It tends to visit at the worst of times, often after we had been running off our feet and the much awaited downtime has finally arrived. That’s when it sneaks up on us.

We chose the slower life and are continuing to work toward it. I remind myself daily that there is no need to rush, or to spend every waking minute working or planning ahead for the work that is yet to be done. We do not need to schedule every minute of the day. Instead, we should carve out time to focus on self-care. We should carve out time to enjoy a walk in the park or on the beach. We should slow down to say ‘hello’ to a neighbour. We should prioritise leisure time on the couch or in bed with a great book and — in my case — yarn and needles. We should spend more time gardening, practising yoga, or enjoying a delicious cup of coffee at a favourite cafe. It’s also about becoming comfortable with the pangs of guilt that sometimes sneak up on us, then giving ourselves permission to simply sit back without adhering to a packed timetable.

Having spent the afternoon on the couch, I felt recharged as I drove to pick up the Wanderlust Juniors from school, then helped them with their homework and prepared our dinner. Here’s a little known fact of adulthood: Becoming less busy helps us to put our lives in perspective, fine-tuning our focus for the work that matters most; in turn, we end up wasting less time on what is inconsequential. 

It’s a radical decision, to work toward becoming less busy and to enjoy life at a slower pace, and I am embracing my quiet rebellious side. It’s okay to do less and be more.

How do you practise becoming less busy? Please leave a comment below.

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Beautiful Waihi Beach

Favourites from around the web:

The Kind Gesture that Helps Elizabeth Gilbert Find the Light on Her Worst Days

Creative Ways to Inspire Your Yoga Practice this Summer

The Life-Changing Habit of Journaling

How to Retain More from the Books You Read

How to Read an Entire Book in a Single Day

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Waihi Beach in late June

What’s an introvert to do?

Two conversations, 14 hours apart, have served as a reminder for me to a) stop overthinking everything, b) get out of my cosy, comfortable, safe shell, and c) drop the labels.

The first exchange was with a woman whom I met on Monday evening. Having lived in several places before settling in NZ, she discreetly snuck in a peace of advice for me to work harder at making friends with the locals, many of whom, in her opinion, are more reserved than North Americans. She must have sensed a whisper-thin trace of loneliness that rested, unspoken, between the lines. Immediately, a sarcastic voice somewhere at the back of my head jeered, “Oh, lovely news for an introvert like me, who has often dreaded the mere idea of having to make the first step toward meeting people.”

On Tuesday morning, as I walked back to my car after taking the Wanderlust Juniors to school, a friendly voice brought me to the present moment, dissipating thoughts of a not-so-distant past. I turned my head and was met with the beautiful smile of a fellow yoga mum who beamed warmly at me as she invited me to attend a class at her studio. More reserved, my foot, I smiled to myself.

I have often hid behind the ‘introvert’ label, using it as a shield from the outside world and as an excuse to stay at home with my books, living vicariously through literary characters and their adventures instead of creating my own. Classifying myself as an introvert is akin to making a sweeping generalisation about the characteristics of a certain group of people. Besides, even extroverts enjoy a cosy evening at home from time to time.

So, what is an introvert to do in a new town, in a new country? She shall be compassionate toward herself and others. She shall ever so gently nudge herself out of her comfy shell, reminding herself of her past triumphs and hiccups that have served as incredible lessons. She shall leave behind any previous labels that have been assigned to her before and which she had assigned to herself, that have served to educate her about herself and the world around her but which, at times, can feel divisive. She shall keep an open mind and an open heart. She shall brush aside traces of doubt before they threaten to disturb her peace. She shall give herself room for introspection, but remind herself that here, in this moment, is where the potential for magic dwells.

I suspect that these reminders might also be timely for others.

Thank you for reading and sharing this blog with a friend.

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*** Both photographs used in today’s story are courtesy of the incredible Christa Pauwels of Christichka Photography. ***

Favourites from around the web:

10 Literary Romances, Put to the Happily-Ever-After Test — The perfect amount of entertainment to accompany my mid-morning tea.

Making a Marriage Magically Tidy

Integrating Yoga into Daily Life — A great podcast with Canadian yoga teachers Natalie Rousseau and Melanie Phillips

How to Care Deeply without Burning Out

How to parent like a minimalist