Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's not easy doing a life

When you judge other people remember one overriding axiom: 'Everybody is having a hard time'. Everyone is insecure. Everyone is hassled. Everyone is tired - we all need more sleep. Everyone wishes he had more courage, more money and better social skills. Everyone wants more glamour in his life, and we all desperately need more laughter. Few can figure out how they ended up living the life they lead. Don't be misled by flippant talk; it's a battle for everyone... Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life. - Joshua Halberstam
 I'm looking at my photo on this blog.  Took it just two years ago in October,  Much has happened.  I have aged - I'm not the same person at all.  And I ran across this quote.  I couldn't agree more.  It's not easy doing a life.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In search of self

Please pardon this entirely personal and self-involved post.  My previous post has triggered a flurry of introspection and personal analysis.  It's not new, it's a process that has been going on for several years since becoming single and living entirely alone for the first time in my life.  But some aspects of a personality analysis (and comparisons to that of my most recent boyfriend) has brought me to an amazing conclusion: I don't want to be alone.  Some people are very happy to be alone with little social interaction, but I am not one of them.

The old BF, now in Minnesota, and I had a long chat on the phone last night about that and many other things.  We are both certainly in transitional places in our lives - and it's a strange place to be in your 60's.  He is one of those people who requires very little social interaction.  He values solitude and spends a great deal of time simply pondering.  As a result, he comes up with some of the most profound and astute observations.

I admire this quality in him so much, I have tried to incorporate more solitude and contemplation in my own life.  You'd think that would be easy since I live alone and I work at home nearly all the time.  My children are in and out, but they have busy lives and don't spend a lot of time here.  My closest friends have had a summer of heavy responsibilities and we have spent less time together than we are accustomed to.  And of course, J moved away in May and I have not sought out a new relationship.  So I have achieved aloneness in a big way. 

But though I'm alone, I've been less successful than I'd like to admit at embracing solitude and contemplation.  I do spend time sitting on my patio just soaking up the beauty there.  But I'm afraid I get distracted by the hummingbirds and the pots needing water and some weeds I notice.  I'm not spending any time pondering the great questions of our time.  I'll never make a good philosopher as I'm too easily distracted for that.

But after taking that little quiz yesterday and beginning to think about my strengths, I understand that even though I admire a certain quality in another, it is not a failure on my part if I am unable to emulate that in my own life.  And the reverse is true as well. 

Today my thoughts have been more about who I am now; what motivates me, what pleases me, and how do I view myself.  And why the hell haven't I figured that all out before now?!

Well, never mind.  Now I know this is a life-long process.  We keep changing and we don't even realize it, and it becomes necessary every now and then to stop and figure whom we have become.

I've come up with a few things.
  • Things make me smile unconsciously all the time - I'm paying more attention to what those things are.
  • I love quiet.
  • I love people - all kinds of people.  I am slow to make friends, but find it easy to be friendly.  It's good for me to be around people.
  • I am a worker.  This has been a revelation to me.  As a child my mother always told me I was lazy, and I guess I have always thought she was right.  But when I look at what I accomplish daily, weekly, yearly, I am even astonished myself. 
  • I love to be creative.
  • Physically I view myself as a younger more slender person and I'm sometimes dismayed to look in the mirror. 
Those are the main ones.  I'm not sure what I will do with this insight, but I will hopefully use my alone time to figure it out.  But you'll have to excuse me now  as I just noticed the hummingbird feeders need filling.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Am I Blue?

Today, just for fun, my group at work took the Color Code personality test. Maybe you've done it before yourself. I read the Taylor Hartman book many years ago with my book club. Since that book came out, the personality colors have become an understood part of our lexicon. It seemed important and even a matter of pride to know what color group you were in. Hartman's premise was that the better you understood your own motivations and those of your associates, the better relationships you could develop.

Our trainer today, certified in color test administration, did a fine job explaining the four personalities and how they interact with others. Then our scores were handed to us. I think something was wrong with mine. When I took the test years ago, I was a strong red with a secondary blue, some white, and practically no yellow. How sad, as yellow is the fun-loving one. I was a workaholic at the time. It was probably a fair evaluation.

But our trainer today said you are born with your personality and you don't really change your core color. So what happened to me? Today I was Blue 47%, my strongest color. Red 27%, Yellow 20%, and White 7%. Now how did I suddenly get so much yellow into my personality, and where did all that hot, opinionated, always-right Red go?

Well, of course, as fun as this might be, there are a few problems with the test. For one thing, you must answer questions by evaluating yourself. And we are possibly the worst judge. For example, which of the following are you? Power-oriented, Perfectionist, Indecisive, Self-centered. Ask me, you get one thing. Ask my kids, my sisters, my friends, my co-workers, you might get something else entirely. I answered Perfectionist. Even when I was more red, I don't think I would have answered Power-oriented.

Another problem is, some of the questions don't offer a choice that applies to you. For example, are you Demanding, Unforgiving, Unmotivated, Vain? Since I don't think I'm the first three at all, but I care about how I look, I chose Vain, though I hardly think I really am. This may have moved me into the yellow category.

Of course, the more difficult problem with these types of tests, is that everyone compares results and then you get pigeon-holed. "Ah, that's the selfish Red in you!" We all become armchair psychologists.

The one value I did see in this session today was understanding the way different personality types interact, and how better to deal with certain personalities. Even if you don't think in terms of color, you sometimes have to deal with a bossy, aggressive person. Or a closed, contemplative person. Or someone who just won't take responsibility. There's no question we are all different and we shouldn't expect our associates to change and be like us, but rather we should learn to work with their personality types, while also improving on our own character traits.

But do we never change from childhood? I don't buy that for an instant. I have become more Yellow and I'm embracing the Yellow!

You can take a free Color Code test online and they will email your primary color with a pie chart showing how dominant that color is. But to get the full breakdown and analysis, you need to pay $40. I'd suggest you go check the book out of the library. I have that book somewhere . . .

Here's the web site. If you take the test, let me know your primary color. http://www.colorcode.com/personality_test/

And just for fun, some Hoagy Carmichael with Bogey and Bacall, "Am I Blue?"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Je ne veux pas travailler

I don't want to work.

Is it terrible to be 62 and a half and want to retire from daily work? I'm tired after a freak and fierce thunderstorm blew through here overnight. So I'm logged in to start work, but I keep staring out the window and thinking today would be a good day to start my retirement.

Some days I think I couldn't fill up the day after working for so many years. But today I have a schedule in mind:

Start early with coffee and watch the sky get light.
Take my bike to the Legacy bike path and ride for two hours.
Have breakfast at home.
Putter around the house and yard cleaning, doing home improvement or art projects.
Have a light lunch around 2-ish.
Siesta for an hour.
Read, play piano,.
Shop for dinner.
Have people over, cook, eat, drink, and sit on the patio and watch the sun go down.
Play CDs or the piano until too tired to stay awake any longer.
Go to bed, sleep soundly, and then do it all again tomorrow with slight variations.

I think I could handle retirement.

(Sorry the video can't be embedded, but go to YouTube to watch - it's cute).